Sunday, April 26, 2009

One Bad Sleeve (well, two actually)

Besides weaving in ends and sewing buttons on, the Lush and Lacy Cardi is complete.

(Seen here reclining on my babygate/drying rack)

I, however, hate the sleeves. As it turns out, bell sleeves that hit just below my bustline bring said bustline visually doooown which is not where I would wish to visually take them, since they seem to know how to do that little stunt on their own. Also, being only 5'3" and having a little post-baby pot-tummy, the bell-ing sleeves also seem to make me look shorter and rounder.

I probably stood in the mirror squinting at myself for waaaaaay too long to bring you this report, and more than likely not many of you will believe that the problem is this severe, but I assure you: surgury is being planned. And those sleeves will rue the day they belled. Or something.

(Let me pause here to note that I do not blame the pattern or writer of said pattern in any way. I failed to take my own body shape and possibly etcentric view of this body into account when knitting it. Next time, I must make adjustments to lovely pattern BEFORE stitching and seeming. Remind me of that. Thanks.)

In the meantime, I am mindlessly knitting a sock. So screw you, sweater. (For now.) I think I might pick it back up again tomorrow.

For now, here's a video of Daisy's latest trick. A few weeks ago she was in a sour, haughty mood and reached deep for the very rudest thing she could think of. I realize I shouldn't encourage it, but...well. I had to get it on video. It was necessary.

You're welcome.

P.S. Translation: "Ewww, yucky! Smells your butt!" and "Oh my gosh!"

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Date Nut Bread (or muffins)

Thank you everyone for your birthday wishes! You all made a very special day even sweeter.

It's time for another recipe!

Occasionally, when I have a tiny bit of extra time, I like to make these muffins or bread. It takes just a bit of extra work, since the dates need to be chopped very finely (although you can cut this step if you can find them already chopped at the store), but it's so worth it. (Sarcy, I think of you every time I make it!) I made this recipe the other day for my birthday/spinning day, and realized that I've never shared it on this blog. I've lifted the recipe straight off of my (now defunct) podcast site, so here it is at last:


(Shown here as baked into mini-loaves, and next to a loaf of my Honey Whole Wheat Bread)

Chewy, moist, dark, dense, delicious. I'm not sure how else I can describe this bread, except to say that I've never tasted anything like it, and it's one of the best things I've ever put into my mouth.

My friend Sarcy's family used to bake up truckloads of this in coffee cans for Christmas, than give it out to everyone they knew, wrapped in foil, topped with a stick-on bow. Everyone looked forward to the "coffee-can bread", although some people couldn't figure out how to get the bread out (hint: use a can-opener to cut the bottom off and push the bread through), and would eat it with a spoon straight out of the can. It's that good. My favorite way to eat it is cold, with lots of cream cheese. Sarcy eats hers lightly toasted.

Combine and let stand while preparing other ingredients:
1-8 oz package dates, finely chopped (approx 32 whole dates or 1 cup finely chopped)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2 cups boiling water

Mix together:
2-1/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 cups sugar

Add the soaked dates and liquid to flour mixture, along with:
1 Tablespoon melted butter
1 beaten egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional, of course)

Pour into greased loaf pan (or coffee cans) and bake at 350 (F) for 1-1/4 hours, or until toothpick comes out clean.

I always bake these as muffins too (better for the little guys to hold onto, easier to serve), and it takes less time to bake. Keep an eye on them, but it should take between 25 and 30 minutes.

Very important: when making any kind of sweet bread, cake, or muffins, never fill more than 3/4 of the way full, at most. Othewise it's going to overflow and make a huge mess in your oven.

These get even more sticky, dark, moist and delicious with time, although I usually don't have that much self-control.

One regular and one mini-muffin

Friday, April 24, 2009

Twenty Nine Years

Today, I turned 29, and what better way to celebrate, than with a customized Stitch 'n Bitch? I invited a bunch of fiber (and one non-fiber) friend(s) over to celebrate Daisy's and my birthdays with cake, BLT's and SPINNING! Yay! What a great way to spend the day.

Daisy and I accidentally coordinated:

OK, so the colors looked more coordinated in person. You'll just have to believe me.

Dudes, for real, I need to clean that mirror.

For posterity's sake, here's my hair, long as ever:

(I've got a chopping plan. But it will not be executed yet. I will discuss further in a future post.)

During the party today, Daisy, hilariously, had yet another cake-related meltdown:

She seemed to be either offended or overwhelmed that the group's singing was directed towards her.

Oh dear.

Things were OK again once the candles were blown out.

The cake was Cinnamon Squares from (need I say?) Baking: From My Home to Yours.

It was Very Important to my boys that we use the awful sugary candy decorations on the cake. They've been looking forward to it for months, and they helped me stick them into the frosting. I got an extra sheet of the candies too, in case some child was errantly handed a piece of un-candied cake (the horrors!) Also, I made sure to stick enough candles in so that every child present could participate in blowing them out. Because child spit is important, when it comes to birthday cakes.

The only modification I made to the recipe (besides the child spit) was to double the recipe and serve it straight out of the Pyrex baking dish, rather than turning it out onto a plate.

I think I burned the frosting a tiny bit (it's made of butter and chocolate gently melted together, and I suppose I wasn't all that gentle), but the end effect was that of tiny bits of cocoa nibs in it, which I rather enjoyed.

The cake is made of a cinnamon batter, with a layer of chocolate/sugar/cinnamon/espresso baked into the center. I used Saigon Cinnamon (McCormick's Select), and the sweetness of the higher quality cinnamon really came through. I find that the "regular" cheaper kind can tend to have a bit of a dusty taste, so I now use the Saigon exclusively.

It is clear that I love cinnamon. Also, I'm a bit hopped up on the caffine buzz from COFFEECHOCOLATEYAY!! I would have another piece, but seeing as I do hope to sleep at some point, that would not be a good plan.

Heather brought me flowers:

Tiffany brought a freaking adorable handmade card (yes, she made that) with a Spunky gift certificate inside (how did she guess I shop there?!):

Greg had a huge, beautiful cookbook sent to me from Amazon:

I'm not even going to try to explain Alinea restaurant to you, so you'll just have to click through the link. It's crazy, and it's unreal. But now I can make the food too. (If I happen to have the time, equipment, and exactly 0 children hugging my legs or throwing balls at my head.)

Not photographed, but also included in gifts were some yummy hand cream and a candle for me and a princess bracelet/barrette set for Daisy from Lori and Elaine, and a garden play-center from Tiffany.

Thank you to all of the ladies (Heather, Tiffany, Lori, Elaine, Hilary, Chris) who came to the party. Each of you made my day wonderful and special. Having friends like all of you make me feel like the luckiest girl around.

My house is tidy, the children are in bed, and I intend to finish seeming this sweater:

And then spend some quality time with a little pure silk:

Tussah silk from Susan's Kitchen

Also, check out what's just hit the loom:

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Lilacs and hair (but no hair in my lilacs)

Yesterday, for the first time this year, the air was perfumed with the scent of lilacs.

They're just starting to open, and I can smell them now even when I just go out on my porch.

Today I got this exciting package of fiber:

Someone on Ravelry put together a "Swap for Scraps" thing, and, while I've pretty much sworn off swaps all together (more on that another time), this one really appealed to me. You send in 4 or 8 ounces of something (any kind of handpainted fiber), and then the organizer rips them all up and weighs out 4 or 8 ounces of the scraps to send back to you.

The draw for me, I think, was the image of all the cute little bundles of wool, in a rainbow of color. What I did not expect was to have an actual plan for it once it arrived, but once I had them all in my hands, I knew exactly what I was going to do with it. But I'm not going to tell you. Yet. (Oh the suspense.)

Currently, my hair is long. Really long. As in: It Hasn't Been This Length Since I Was Eighteen long. When I was 18 I chopped off all my hair into a pixie. My husband is dyeing for me to do it again. I also dyed my hair every shade of paradise bird you could think of then too, and I'm no longer interested in that look. However, I'm having trouble finding interesting ways to wear my hair at the length that it is right now, while still being able to keep it manageable and off of my face.

I had a tiny bit of extra time before I left the house the other day, and did this:

Now, not that I usually have time for anything more interesting than a lumpy, Mommy Ponytail or the favorite half-flip-through ponytail, but...any other suggestions?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Spring flowers, garden, and another milestone day

Today, Mr. Cuddle's (Billy) turned 4 months old.

(Photo by Sparky)

Hard to believe he could be that old, I know.

I'm making it an effort to cherish every moment with this guy; every cuddle, every kiss. I know from my other little ones that time, especially with children, flies, and I need to make these moments count. Every stage is precious.

Completely unrelated, but remember these buds?

Well now they look like this:

Spring. There's nothing like it.

Even the rain smells good at this time of year. To me it smells of freshly turned earth, of green shoots, of damp flowers. For the past two days it's been raining, and, while I can't easily go out walking with the children in it, I've enjoyed looking out my windows at the raindrops, and breathing deeply when I step out on my porch for a moment.

Speaking of my porch, here's my garden, which I've now moved outside.

I didn't harden them off properly, since...well, I sort of forgot them outside that first day of "hardening", and then just ended up never bringing them back in. This is why I've always had a "black thumb" with plants. But anyway, these seem to be pretty hardy seedlings, and are still alive.

It'll be interesting to see if they survive. I hope so! If not, I'm sure I can replace most of them with similar varieties from the nearby plant nursery, but there's something satisfying about starting them from seed myself. Kind of like washing a fleece and taking a project from there. We'll see what happens.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Happy birthday, Daisy!

Dear Daisy,

Two years ago, I began a brand new kind of adventure. Before that moment on April 17th, 2007, I had become comfortable in my role as the mother of two boys, and suddenly, everything was different.

It delights me to watch you grow, and to watch your unique, feminine traits develop, even in a house full of boys. The unfolding beauty of your face delights me. I am so honored to be your Mommy, and the person who gets to know you first before the rest of the world does.

It's amazing how much you've grown, even just in the past year; I can't wait until you can start getting to know your Daddy again.

This is how you looked the day after he left:


Today you cried because we lit the candles of your cake on fire.

Tomorrow you'll cry because I've given you the wrong color of socks to wear.

It's the tears and thunderclouds that make your smiling moments shine all the more. While steering you through the landmine of emotion that is your two-year-old life, I dearly hope to do so with delicacy and grace. I realize that the roller-coaster has just begun, and I fully understand that I'll never be ready for it.

Daisy in her new dresses from Yvette (AndSewToKnit)

Being your Mommy is an adventure, to say the least, and I look forward to seeing who you grow into. I hope and pray that Daddy and I do our job well, raising you to be a woman who will make an impact on the world you will live in. And not a woman who cries because she's discovered it's too warm to wear her Ugg boots in the spring.

I love you, little girl.

Your Mommy

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Forsythia bloom

We went to a friend's house on Friday to decorate Easter eggs:

(Pssssst....I bought the boys those retro-looking aprons at Boojiboo, and they're made of crazy strong material. We love them!!)

Daisy kept cracking her eggs on the table (thankfully they were all hardboiled, but still), so I had to buckle her into the booster seat and occupy her with food. What a kid.

We went outside to play after lunch, and saw that the forsythia bushes had burst into full bloom.

Forsythia always remind me of when I was little. My mom used to cut a few branches from the bushes out in our backyard and "force" them in a budvase inside. I loved watching the brilliant yellow blooms burst from their little brown shell-like buds.

(This photo by my friend Heather)

Billy got decorated by Max:

(Photo also by Heather)

The children had a great time jumping on their trampoline:

(If you just can't get enough of silly little boys, mid-air, click through for more)

In the mail, I've received some very "spring-like" purchases from Susan's Kitchen:

Dyed Mohair locks in every shade of awesome green

Pure Tussah silk in gold and pink

I have the braid of silk sitting next to me here at the computer, begging to go on the wheel next (2-ply laceweight), but I feel compelled to finish this before the weather warms up too much more:

I'm past the ruffle on the second sleeve! Shouldn't take me too long. Just need to focus and get it done.

I hope that you all had a great Easter, for those of you who celebrate it. I'll leave you with my favorite picture from our little Easter egg hunt we had in our living room (there's more in my Flickr album that I uploaded for the grandparents):

Happy spring!!!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Love Over Gold

I've been a veeeeery slow spinner lately. This particular fiber (Southern Cross Fibre Club Feb. 09, "Love Over Gold") has been sitting on the wheel for weeks, for no particular reason. I did struggle to get it even, which may have been more of a focus-related trouble than an actual fiber one, since everyone else who has even even come near New Zealand Polwarth has said they could hear the angels singing.

On the upside, the resulting yarn, while not entirely (or at all) even, is soft, durable feeling, and beautifully colored. David does fantastic dye jobs, and this is no exception.

296 yds, 2-ply, 4 oz.

I'm not stressed about it at all though. I'm completely pleased with the final product, and, as I intend to turn this into a woven felted scarf for my mom, any inconsistencies will either add to the charm or come out in the wash. Win-win!

Now for a quick stop at the local yarn shop for some coordinating fiber to use with it...

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


There is much discussion in the knitting world about swatching or not, with the majority of conversation tending to lean towards the "not" camp. I'm not a huge fan of it either, as I see it as a roadblock from being able to CAST ON RIGHT NOW!!!, but, at least for sweaters, I refuse to spend the hours (and usually weeks...or months) that it takes work the project up, and not know that I have a fair shot of it fitting properly. This makes swatching an absolute must for me, no questions asked.

To make myself feel a little bit better about all of this, I make sure to swatch for something while I still have something else exciting on the needles. In fact, I usually swatch in batches. (But then, this is how I generally attack the less pleasant areas of life, so this makes sense to me.)

So, why am I bringing this up? I've been thinking about swatches recently, because I've been in the planning stages of weaving The Shawl for my Aunt Susie (the one who sent me the aprons). This is a something that will really matter, so the final product can't be a mere experiment (like all of my other weaving projects up until this moment). This is a shawl that A. Susie will use to base her entire hand-sewn outfit around (for her son's wedding), so I am deeply committed to it Being Perfect.

I know little to nothing about the finer points of weaving, so I'm kind of flailing out in the deep end here. Sampling , without a doubt, is needed. I am going to weave the actual shawl on my 30" Kromski Harp, but for the sample, I just so happen to have my handy, adorable little Schacht Cricket.

(OK, so you've already seen this picture, but whatever. I like it.)

I'm using Zephyr Wool-Silk laceweight. I had this idea for graduated striping in the weft, double threading everything (for a basketweave effect), and going across the warp like so: 2 threads of Vanilla....1 thread Apricot, 1 thread Vanilla...2 threads Apricot...1 thread Apricot, 1 thread Cassis...2 threads Cassis... and then gradually back to Vanilla in the same manner. I feel like that was kind of a messy way to explain this, but you can look at the pictures and connect the dots, should you feel the need.

This was a 42" warp, because that happens to be the length of my carding/photography/etc. table.

This was direct-warping, and before I slayed the heddles (I have no idea if that's the correct terminology), so it looks a little funny.

Once it was all woven and wet-finished, I was incredibly relieved to note that my idea had taken shape exactly as I'd had it in my head. The only surprise was the fringe -- I had thought I'd be completely sold on the twisted fringe idea, but now, seeing the simple hem-stitched edge with a cascade of loose fringe contrasted with the twisted one, I'm not so sure. (The twisted one, it should be noted, was twisted by hand, a little too briskly, and very late at night, so it's not the neatest example. If I do this in the final project it will be with an actual fringe-twister, and a heck of a lot more care.)

I also played around with using 1 thread each of Vanilla and Apricot for weft, weaving an inch like that at the beginning and end, just to see what the effect might be. I kind of like the fade out to pure Vanilla at the edges when using two strands of Vanilla only, but the Vanilla/Apricot definitely plays up the peach tones overall, which might be more to her liking. We'll see what she says when she has the sample in hand.

I used my 8-dent heddle, thinking that I'd probably have to go to the 10 or 12 dent, but was very pleased with the drapability of the fabric as it was. Once I had washed it (and gently scrunched it, although the silk content didn't allow for felting), the fabric became more cohesive, and less prone to threads slipping around. I started to imagine what other colorways I could use in a shawl for me...

The sample has been sent off now to Aunt Susie. As soon as I get her feedback on it, I'll be able to warp the bigger loom and get started. Now that I've played with this lovely yarn and simple weave structure, I am very excited to see the finished product!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...