Saturday, February 28, 2009

Has it really been that long?

Oops, I went off on a trip and haven't blogged in ages again. Also, I started this post over a week ago, so it's already out of date. You will see a lot of updates! UPDATE: It didn't help that this week was spent with an unaccountably feverish Lilah (when I took her to the doctor on Wednesday, her temperature was 106). Brace yourself for a long post!

Lilah and I visited my parents in California for a little over a week, then spent quality time recovering from jet lag. Anyway, while visiting, I finished Gathered Pullover. I am pleased overall with how it turned out. It took forever to do photos, as usual for me.

Pattern: Gathered Pullover by Hana Jason from Interweave Knits, Winter 2007
Size: 40.5"
Yarn: Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool in Woad (#5567) - Under 6 skeins
Needles: Size 7 circular and dpns
Modifications: Hemmed edge at the waist and sleeves instead of rolled edge. Knit the neckband in the round, beginning at the left shoulder, in 1x1 rib instead of knitting flat in stockinette. Added 2.5 inches to the length before cable detail and 1 inch after the cable detail. I left out the weird increasing/decreasing over the cable, too.
Notes: This pattern is a lot of fun to knit. It's perfect television knitting until you get to the cable detail, which was great fun. I wasn't wild about the sleeves on dpns, but it's better than seaming, and they were just a smidge too small for my 16" needle (at least until I got going on the decreases. I don't care for rolled edges, so I went with a turned hem instead. I didn't want a belly shirt, so I added quite a bit of length. I wanted the placement of the cable a bit lower, so after studying many projects on Ravelry, I decided to add an inch above the cable before shaping for armholes. I decided that the extra length from not rolling the edge would be sufficient for the sleeves, but they are really, really short, and I should have added a good two inches to each. The armholes were snug when I first tried on the sweater, but they loosened up, and it's really a comfortable sweater now. I love the drape of the Silky Wool on size 7 needles. When I got to the neckband, I had no real plan, but it seemed odd to roll that edge when I hadn't on the others, so I chose what I convinced myself is unobtrusive 1x1 rib. I saw no reason to knit the neckband flat, so I didn't.

On the needles: Hemlock Ring Blanket in Cascade 220 in Tutu (Lilah's blanket, Lilah's yarn choice). Thanks to Ravelry, I found the pattern write-up by The Rainey Sisters". The write-up makes things much easier. The pattern is a delight (yes, I said delight!) to knit. It goes fast on size 10 needles, and just when you're tired of the center section, the repetitive feather-and-fan part starts. I should have this done soon. UPDATE: It's off the needles! The miserable, endless scalloped-edge bindoff actually ended. It looks like lace does just off the needles, so I have to block it. I'll try not to take a month to post finished photos. I have some baby things to make, then a sweater for Matt out of (what else?) Silky Wool in Bronzed Green, which is actually Brown, but it's a lovely, rich brown. I am deciding between Torgeir and Hjalte. I would have to do a crew neck if I chose Hjalte, as I think the high neck is too warm to be useful for much of the Atlanta winter, but that's not a big deal. It will be spring soon, so there's no hurry on the sweater. UPDATE: I found both patterns, and Matt picked Hjalte. I think it'll be a fun knit. Also, the other patterns in that issue of Knitter's Magazine are hilariously hideous! Geez, is every issue like that?

Reading: I'm reading my book club selection, The Ladies Auxiliary by Tova Mirvis right now. It's interesting so far as a look at an Orthodox Jewish community and how it's affected by an outsider moving in, but I'm not very involved in the characters. I recently finished a review copy of The History of Now, which was fantastic. I have a bunch of review copies to read at the moment, from YA to literary fiction. While I was traveling, I read several mysteries by Joan Hess, Charlaine Harris, and Alice Kimberly. Reviews are at On My Bookshelf. I especially like Alice Kimberly's Haunted Bookshop mysteries, which combine a traditional cozy with hardboiled classic detective novels and a paranormal bent for fun.

Writing: Lilah's gone back to waking up at night. Between that and travel, I haven't done anything lately.

Cooking: For Matt's birthday dinner, I chose Moroccan, which we both love. I used recipes from a gorgeous book called Made in Morocco by Julie LeClerc. I have a couple of issues with this book, which is not organized as a real cookbook (more by theme), which would be fine if its index were remotely useable. This makes finding recipes a huge pain. It's also coffee table book-like, but paperback. I've only cooked from it a couple of times and the spine is already well-creased. It would be nice to make copies of all the recipes, arrange them in a user-friendly order, and have it spiral-bound, but what a pain. Fortunately, the recipes are fabulous, which makes up for some of the quirks. Here's my menu:

Little Dishes and Bread:
Carrot and Harissa Puree
Spiced Aubergine
Emerald Zucchini*
Moroccan Flatbread With Kosher Salt and Sesame Seed*

Spiced Red Lentil Soup

Couscous With Raisins, Almonds, and Roasted Squash

Turkish Orange Cake*^ with Cinnamon and Orange Flower Water-Scented Oranges

*Recipes from a different source
^ I realize the distance between Turkey and Morocco, but I'd been looking for an excuse to try this cake, and it was perfect with the Moroccan oranges.

Notes: I was really pleased with the menu and how everything turned out. I'd made the carrot and eggplant dishes before, but the others were new to me. I made the cake in 6 ramekins for individual desserts and put the rest of the batter in a 9-inch pie plate. The orange cake is insanely moist. I ground the almond meal myself from 8 ounces of almonds, and everything went fine. I used seedless oranges, as I had them on hand (though I would have sought them out, anyway, being too lazy to pick seeds out).