Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Christmas Stockings

Stocking


... kind of. Like [seemingly] every other knitter out there, I couldn't manage to finish my Christmas knitting on time. Simon's got finished... mine did not. Thankfully Santa understands knitters and filled my [half-knit, still on the needles] stocking anyway.

Image 3


These stockings are from the pattern collection A NEW Family Portrait by Dorene Delaney Giordano. There are three different main patterns and lots of different border patterns to choose from. I am knitting them toe-up on 2 circs (not my favorite, but it works great for the colorwork) and the yarn is Miss Babs Yummy 3-ply Sport  - the red is Vlads and the green is Nori.

Since it's past Christmas and I'm picky, I'm going to rip my stocking back to the toe and re-knit the body. I have been holding the wrong color in each hand so the color dominance looks wrong - there's too much white against the green pattern and it's drowning it out.

Simon got to help design his stocking - the border patterns were chosen because they look like the Triforce from Legend of Zelda. And he also got to design his name (the pattern comes with lettering charts, but I thought this would be more fun). I challenged him to fit "Simon" in 38x11 pixels, and he fired up an old Mac emulator to chart his name in Chicago. Very fitting. How I'm going to fit my 8-letter name in that space is kind of beyond me; I may have to embroider it on afterward.

I got a couple other gifts (all socks) done in time. Some are going to have to wait until I finish some more samples. Always busy knitting!

Did you fall behind on holiday/gift knitting? Or did you do the smart thing and not even try?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Another Vermont Shawl

What else have I been knitting? Samples, samples, and more samples. I suppose it keeps me out of trouble.

Vermont Shawl II
Vermont Shawl and redwoods
The first Vermont Shawl that I knit for Miss Babs was apparently such a hit that she needed another one. This one is knit in Northumbria fingering weight, a 100% blue faced leicester wool. The color is called Vlad's and is one of my favorite reds. It made its debut at this year's Rhinebeck festival. I would have liked to join it in New York but... well, California is a long way away.

Vermont Shawl II
From the back (gee, really)
One of the wonderful things about this project that you couldn't really tell from my earlier post is that it's BIG. No skimpy little shawl here. Of course that means more knitting and more yarn (over 600 yards) but the effect is so lovely, it's worth it. Details on Ravelry here.

We shot these photos on my birthday during the several hour span of time where I was gently kicked out of the house so my birthday cake could be made in absolute secrecy.

My husband insists that nobody should make his own birthday cake, and furthermore that it ought to be a surprise. So off I went. It took a little longer than I expected, and I'll admit I did call him to be sure everything was okay. Thankfully there were no cake-related mishaps and later that evening we all enjoyed a magnificent Smith Island Cake. (Which our German guests delightedly identified as a Prinzregententorte - the Prince Regent's Cake!)

Smith Island Cake
Yum!
By any name, it was delicious. And didn't last long.

Smith Island Cake
Here's another gratuitous cake photo.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Lintilla

Hooray, it's a scarf thing. Because we all need another scarf thing or three.

Lintilla
Yep, from the same photo shoot as earlier.
Okay, no really, I like it. It's called Lintilla, by Martina Behm, and it's fun and easy and made out of garter stitch and short rows and the infamous Wollmeise. (Colors look weird in these photos, for you WM junkies the color is Spice Market WD 100%). I knit it on a US #3. Not that that really matters. It's a scarf!

I saw my first one of these when I was working with Miss Babs at a show and we pulled a brand new one fresh from the sample knitter out of its mailing box. It was big. It fluttered. It had life in it! I knew I had to have one and grabbed the pattern right away.

Then I spent quite some time agonizing over what to knit it out of (the original is made in Wollmeise, which has 575 yards and is tons bigger than almost any other sock yarn). I thought I could make it out of one yarn I had, but I wasn't sure I liked the colors. It wasn't until I dug through ALL the yarn that I realized I actually HAD Wollmeise and didn't have to agonize at all. Whoops. There I go, trying too hard.

DSC04064
Apparently I'm confused about how to wear a scarf.
And then I knit and knit and knit some more. Garter stitch can be very therapeutic - and easier to take to social knitting events than just about anything else. I was afraid I was going to run out of yarn at the very end... but then I didn't. How's that for a happy ending?

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Introducing Escargot

Escargot
Escargot

It was June 2010 and Kel, Danielle, and I were flying down the highway coming back to Alexandria from TNNA (the yarn industry trade show) in Columbus, Ohio. Danielle may or may not have been pushing the speed limit just a smidgen, and Kel may or may not have been clinging to the Mini's door in abject terror. There was a lot of chatter and planning, interspersed with laughter and highway-induced exasperation. I was taking notes as we planned the next year in yarn for fibre space... and I was doodling.

One of the doodles turned into the Hatskarfenmitten.

The other doodle became Escargot. But it took a while. Things changed and we moved to California, but I couldn't get the idea of a funky, asymmetrical, spiral-enhanced cloche out of my head. This summer, I bumped into Amy Singer, the editor of Knitty, at a couple of yarn festivals, and told her I had a really cool hat idea. She said, "send it in."

Escargot
Pretending we are waiting for the train. With real genuine 1920s women's magazine.
Sure, I had an idea, but the real challenge lay in making it all in one piece and getting the spiral to work the way I wanted. I knit and ripped out the cast-on section of the pattern a half-dozen times before the spiral would lay flat and be the right size. (And be happy, knitters, because the original cast-on was four hundred stitches. Not fun to rip out and re-knit once, let alone a bunch of times.) I threw it across the room in disgust more than once.

Escargot

By the time I finally figured it out, I was sick of it. I called up fibre space and ordered some beautiful BFL yarn from Dragonfly Fibers and got it in the mail. My mom knit the first two hats (one of which was for testing only and doesn't show up in any of the photos). I got more yarn - again, a beautiful BFL - from Miss Babs, and knit two more hats. I cajoled a bunch of friends from my local knitting group into an early morning photo shoot (it's really hard to make California in August feel like winter anywhere), triple-checked everything, and sent it off to Knitty, fingers crossed.

I heard back a while later, and have been waiting to be able to tell you about it ever since.

Now it's here and you can knit one! I couldn't be more excited. The pattern is here, and you can queue it up on Ravelry here. Happy knitting!


Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Featherweight Cardigan, Take Two

It's been quite a while since I finished my first Featherweight Cardigan as a sample for Miss Babs. I swore at the time that even though it was boring, I'd make my own - it's very wearable and simple and has the potential to go with a lot of different outfits. There's a reason there are over 3,500 of these on Ravelry.

Rarely does a sweater take me six months to finish anymore, but I'll blame all the sample knitting in between. Those deadlines really do it. Oh, and endless miles of stockinette stitch, that helps too. Oh! And alternating skeins of a hand-dyed yarn. Even better.

Featherweight cardigan
I never quite know what to do when I'm having my picture taken.

I knit this in 3 skeins of Madelinetosh tosh merino light on #5s. The colorway is called Mare. I cast on 6 fewer stitches for each sleeve, as the sleeves on my first Featherweight were too baggy. I made the sleeves and body longer, and did 3x1 rib at the bottom for reduced ugliness. And I did a daisy stitch on the collar and bands for texture and interest and no rolling (but ugh, lots of work on the purl side).

I am really hoping that being a superwash will help the yarn hold up a little - the single ply means it's soft and lustrous and beautiful, but I'm sure it's going to pill before long. Hopefully it won't felt in the armpits.

Featherweight cardigan
How about I try to smile and awkwardly stick my hands in my pockets.
I wore it to work today with my grown-up clothes and it was warm and soft and snuggly. Have you finished anything you really liked lately?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I'm back, again

Well gee. Look who went and fell off the face of the earth blog again. It's me! How many times have I come back to the blog and dusted it off? Let's not count.

As some of you know and some of you may have guessed, the stoppage in blogging was caused by me getting a job. It's taken a little while to adjust back to being on a regular schedule (ya know, getting my butt out of bed in the morning), but it's a good thing and I'm happy.

Enough for now about the job. We're here for the yarn.

As always, I'm knitting away like crazy, maybe a little slower than before, but that's OK. Most of it is even knitting I can share - for the moment, I'm between sample knitting projects.

Those chartreuse socks in the post below are long gone. I never got further than the photo shows... I keep trying and trying, but toe-up socks aren't for me. Rrrrrip! Currently I think I have 4 other pair on the needles, so I'm not depriving myself of socky goodness.

Another thing I don't like knitting is stuffed animals - too fiddly for me. But I did knit up a stuffed rocket for fibre space's holiday window display and sent it off. Kind of fun. I like the little ducky feet on the bottom.

Rocket

If I would just get off the computer and go knit, I would be very nearly done with another sweater. Which I could take photos of and show off. Off I go.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Chartreuse Socks

Time to share some meagre progress. I've knit a toe.
Watercress Toe
I don't always knit the mystery sock for Sock Knitters Anonymous. I wait and make sure that I like the concept (allover 1x1 twisted ribbing? No thank you) and that, in the case of it being a toe-up sock, I can handle the construction (I haven't made as many toe-up socks and getting the heel to fit properly continues to be a challenge). This one, called Watercress, has lace (yay) and modifications built into the pattern for high insteps (double yay). 

I took the additional step of overdyeing the chartreuse yarn I showed off the other day with a bit of yellow, in the hopes of making it even more chartreuse. It's a little more saturated than I would really like, but I'm generally happy with the color. I also like the way the pattern wiggles back and forth. 

Right now it's nothing too complex to knit, but it's interesting. Certainly more interesting than the seemingly never-ending topdown stockinette raglans I've been plugging away on!

Monday, September 05, 2011

Pollen and Pollinators

Some ideas seem to take a while to come to fruition. Sometimes it's about the math, or a stitch pattern that just won't behave itself. This time it was about color. With all the colors out there in the world, I was having trouble finding just the right one. I know, it's silly. But it had to be just the right shade of yellow.
Bees!
It's Malabrigo Merino Worsted. The color is - very appropriately - called Pollen. Between that and the books I'll bet you can see where I'm headed next... but I'm still working on it. My days are getting a little busier and most of my knitting remains a secret, but I'm going to try to keep up with the blog as best I can.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Rosa Parks' Pancakes

After the death of Rosa Parks in 2005, a great deal of memorabilia from her life was collected to be auctioned as a single lot by Guernsey's Auctioneers. Among the items - virtually anything you can think of - are ephemera from Mrs. Parks herself. There is, of course, a great deal of serious material, but something more lighthearted has floated its way onto the internet. It is a recipe, handwritten on the back of an envelope from the 1st National Bank of Detroit, for "Featherlite Pancakes". It reads:

Featherlite pancakes

sift together
1 C flour
2 T B. Powder
1/2 t salt
2 T sugar

mix
1 egg - 1 1/4 C milk
1/3 C peanut butter melted
1 T shortening or oil

combine with dry ingredients
cook at 275
on griddle


Anyone who cooks will instantly be alarmed at the amount of baking powder. But it works. Perhaps a little too well. Approximately this amount of flour and milk goes into my ordinary pancake recipe (with much less leavening), and the batter fits in a 2-cup measuring cup.

Once the dry and wet ingredients are mixed, the featherlite batter grows rapidly and nearly overflowed the top of my 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup - so it makes at least 5 cups of batter if not more. It's foamy.

The pancakes are true to name, light as can be and over half an inch tall in the middle. They do taste peanutty but this is probably a good thing - otherwise they might taste a little too much like baking powder.

These are definitely worth a try but be prepared for lots of batter and more pancakes than two people should reasonably be eating.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Chartreuse

So, if somehow you haven't noticed by now, I like knitting socks. I also like the color green (gee, really?).

I like knitting socks so much that I am a member of Sock Knitters Anonymous, a huge Ravelry group whose members have a monthly themed sock knit along with raffle prizes. I've even won a prize a couple times.

September's theme (like other Septembers past) is "All knit in one color" and that color is Chartreuse. Imagine my delight! Of course, there is much discussion as to what color "chartreuse" actually is. I'm pretty sure it's not fluorescent, screaming highlighter green. I'm pretty sure the color is named after the liqueur... the only liqueur so good, they named a color after it!

Even though I had to procure new yarn (shhh!)... I got to take this photo.

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(Oh, and if you're the type that just needs to know, it's Socks that Rock Lightweight in Jade. Thanks, Carol!)

I am immensely amused. Now to wait until September to cast on - hopefully I can finish a bunch of other stuff before then.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Vermont Shawl

The latest in my series of sample knitting and/or Miss Babs projects was the Vermont Shawl by Hanna Breetz.

Vermont Shawl


It's leafy. And green. Two of my favorite things!

I don't always enjoy deadline projects, but this one was lovely. Great yarn and a well written pattern (even though I did have to knit with my row counter close by, something I almost never do) all added up to a really nice FO. The yarn is Miss Babs Yet, a wool and silk blend that is not quite fingering weight. The color is called Verdigris. It's great for knitting lace - it's not super tiny. (All the rest of the relevant stats are on my Ravelry page here.)

Vermont Shawl


Now it is on its way to live with Miss Babs. You can see it in a booth near you soon at the Michigan Fiber Fest and Stitches Midwest!

Vermont Shawl


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Not Meant to Be

Or, the sweater that wasn't.

I haven't worked on my Sophia cardigan since last March. I'm struggling to find a nice way to say this, but I think about the only version of this sweater that looks good is the one on the cover of French Girl Knits. And between the cotton content of the yarn (ouch my wrists!) and the annoying stitch pattern, there was no way I was going back and working on it any more. It's looked like this since March, forlorn at the bottom of a knitting basket, taking up space and occupying a nice project bag.

DSC03203


So now it looks like this instead!

Owool Balance


Much better. Freed up needles and a project bag, and if for some reason you want this yarn... look here. Back to super secret socks and hats.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Finished Leaflet

I've been back from Sock Summit for a while now, but haven't gotten myself together enough to blog.

First of all, I was able to finish my Kira sweater - with enough time left over to wet-block it before I left for Portland. It was a hit in the booth. (I'll have photos soon).

And because I had a day to spare... what else to do but finish my Leaflet? That one wasn't dry before I left and I didn't get photos until today. It's super cute and was such a fast knit.

Kira


I think I added a couple extra rows of ribbing everywhere, but made no other real modifications to the pattern. Knit in the new Berroco Voyage on US #10 needles. I mostly liked knitting with the Voyage - it's a very springy tube of alpaca and polyester. I'm not sure if there was extra spinning oil or dye in the yarn, but I could feel some kind of residue when I knit it. It took three washes for the water to rinse clear when I blocked it - and it's soft and lovely now.

Leaflet


It's still a little warm out to wear this sweater, but I'm glad to have a little brown cardigan for fall.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Faster!

This week is all about knitting at top speed. Super-duper deadline time.

This was Tuesday...

Yarn



Wound



Swatched (pocket linings make excellent swatches)



And yesterday



And today. I think I will actually be done in time.



Oh, and it's called Kira, by Cecily Glowik MacDonald, and the yarn is Miss Babs Yowza. For those of you keeping score at home, this all means that I'm trying to knit a 37" seamless raglan cardigan on US#6 needles and dk-weight yarn in about a week. I wish I had a cheering section or something.

Now back to knitting.

P.S. Word to the wise: writing a blog post with photos, using the iPhone, is kind of hard. The good news behind this is that I have sold my old MacBook and a new MacBook Air will be winging it's way to me very soon. Lucky me!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hiking the Appalachian Trail

And no, that's not some euphemism for "visiting Argentina with questionable company". Over the weekend we flew out to New Jersey to attend a big family reunion and surprise birthday party with my husband's big extended family.

We stayed in a lodge near the Delaware Water Gap. There was hiking, and swimming, and lots of food and good company. I met lots of new people, all of whom were universally welcoming and generous. I also got to meet my new nephew, who is my favorite age at 10 months (meaning they can laugh and play, but can't talk back or run away).

The hiking was a bit more vigorous than I'd imagined it would be. The trails were hilly and liberally littered with rocks, forcing me to watch my feet with every step so I didn't twist an ankle. But we saw big snakes and a deer - other people saw a bear - and climbed up to the top of an observation tower to see the ridges and valleys, climbed down to the Delaware River, passing a waterfall and going for a pleasant swim. There were wild blueberries and raspberries to eat along the way. Some of the rhododendrons were still blooming and ferns were everywhere. I had no phone service and didn't want any. I wish I'd gotten to talk with some people doing the whole hike of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, but we didn't meet any.

Of course now I am covered in bug bites and my legs are still a little tired. But it was well worth it.

Did you do anything unusual this weekend?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Apron Happiness

Apron


Let's start off by saying I don't sew often. Yes, I sewed my prom dresses and I've made a couple of quilts, but I don't think of myself as a sewer or a seamstress - or now apparently the word is "sewist" which, irritatingly, isn't a word but does solve the homograph problem with "sewer".

Linguistic complaints aside, I have been doing a little sewing. I decided it was time for a craft apron, because in a little less than two weeks, I'm headed to Sock Summit in Portland to join Miss Babs and her crew in a vendor booth. I'm excited!

Back when I worked at fibre space, craft aprons were part of our uniform. The lovely Kel (sorry Kel, I forgot and thought Becky had made the first ones because Becky does so much sewing! Oops!) made them for us out of funky Ikea fabric (yes, Ikea carries fabric!) and each one was different and fun. They're great to stash a calculator, measuring tape, notepad, pen, phone, or whatever else you need, keeping your hands free and setting you apart from customers. Check out the new aprons Becky has made for the yarnista crew here. She's a pro.

I asked Becky if she had a rough pattern for them, but she said it was just drawing and math. So I drafted my own measurements, measured twice, cut once, ironed a lot, and sewed the whole thing together. I don't spend a lot of time on my sewing, so it's never going to be the most precise thing you've ever seen... but it's surprisingly functional. The fabric I used is shown here and I got it because it was so obnoxiously bright and cheery.

Anybody reading headed to Sock Summit? Sound off in the comments, and drop by Miss Babs' booth - 822 and 824 - and say hi to me and my funky apron in person! You can't miss me!

Apron

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Leaflet

Let me start by saying I love Knitty. Funky free patterns from big name designers AND people like you and me - what's not to love? Imagine my surprise, then, when I was in a yarn shop the other day and I overheard that the new girl there had never heard of it. Thankfully it sounded like she was excited to discover it.

Knitty's First Fall issue went live a few weeks ago. I fell in love with Cecily Glowik MacDonald's Leaflet, which is a sweet little sleeveless cardigan with a fresh leaf detail right down the back. Bonus: it's knit in big yarn on US #10 needles!

So I made a phone call to my good friends at fibre space, and soon thereafter there was a nice package of yarn on my doorstep. I'm trying out the new-for-fall Berroco Voyage, which is a knitted tube of alpaca and polyester. It's soft, lofty, warm, and knits up so fast.

Leaflet


It's been nice to zip along on a little something for me. And seeing as I went up to San Francisco over the weekend and froze my butt off... and went out last night and had to wear a hat and a jacket... yes, I can use a little alpaca cardigan in California, even in July.

And why did I go out last night? There just might have been a midnight launch party at the friendly local bookstore that I felt compelled to attend. Yes, I feel a little dorky, but I didn't stay up all night reading it. I'm looking forward to it, though.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Tiny Tomatoes

Finally.

Tiny tomatoes


For what seemed like the longest time, my tomato plants were flowering but not setting fruit. Today I went out to visit them and discovered that tiny tomatoes have finally started to grow.

A vendor at the farmer's market had many unusual types of tomato seedlings, so this year I am trying new (old) varieties. I love Green Zebras, with their beautiful green and yellow stripes and good flavor - so I chose a Green Zebra hybrid called Copia (which will be yellow and red striped). I also got a Rose de Berne, which is another medium-sized tomato that should be pink and very productive - or so the tomato websites tell me.

Now for more waiting, but I know that delicious tomatoes will be well worth it.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

All I can show you are giant thistles

Like this.



Not sure how giant it really is? Don't believe me? Also that sucker bit me, which wasn't very nice.



Taken this weekend during a lovely bike ride on the bay trail. The thistle had a little path worn out to it from the bike path - clearly I was not the first person to visit it. I am not sure exactly what it is. I don't think it's a cardoon, as it was quite spiky.

All I can show you are giant thistles because all of my knitting is samples, or secret, or "look I knit three more inches of stockinette on this shapeless top-down raglan thing" which isn't particularly interesting. So there you are.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Leaving

It's hard to simply title a blog post "Leaving", even though it's the name of this sweater; it makes a bad impression. But don't worry.

Leaving


I'm not going anywhere, but this sweater is! Soon it will be winging its way to fibre space and you can see it there in person. It's called Leaving, designed by Anne Hanson, and was published in the Winter 2010 Twist Collective. The instructions have a pullover and a cardigan version.

I knit the 40" pullover. As usual my gauge is a little funny so it came out closer to 38" which fits me perfectly. I think the yardage estimates on the pattern were a little generous - the pattern said that this size would take at least 1500 yards, but I used less than 1200. My other notes are on Ravelry here.

Leaving in progress


It's knit in Miss Babs' newest yarn, Northumbria DK. The color is called Luna Granite. The Northumbria has been great to work with. It’s 100% Bluefaced Leicester (BFL) wool. BFL is smooth and fine with great stitch definition. BFL also has a lustrous silky drape after it’s blocked, which you can see in the photo above. Because of the sheen, it takes color beautifully. Luna Granite doesn’t have a ton of variegation, but it works up in subtle shades of dove grey with hints of lavender (I had to correct the color on the first photo, so it isn't very good).

Here's another glamour shot...

Leaving in progress


I will miss this sweater! I love sample knitting... but I also love to keep my projects once in a while. For a few short days (of course, another deadline looms not too far into the future, but that one's a secret) I get to knit something for myself. I am going to enjoy each and every stitch.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The babies are coming! The babies are coming!

DSC03824


No, not babies for me! Two good knitting friends of mine just had baby boys.

I don't know what it is about the news of impending babies that compels us to knit, but I knew I just had to make adorable Baby Surprise Jackets for both of them. Booties, too.

These are probably my two favorite baby patterns. The classic all-garter stitch BSJ is perfect for TV knitting, and the booties match fairly well and are quick to knit. They're also a great way to use up leftover sock yarn if you just want to make booties.



The top set is knit in Miss Babs Yummy 3-ply Sport in Spring Lettuce and Bruin; the bottom set is knit in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino in... uh... two shades of sage green. I embellished my BSJ's with a little applied I-cord edging on the bind off and around the neckline; I did some crab stitch (reverse single crochet) on the sleeves.

DSC03823


The booties are Christine's Stay-On Baby Booties, and from what I hear from parents they actually do stay on - important for wiggly babies. They are a little fiddly, but well worth it. The soles are knit in a separate piece, so it's easy to make them a contrasting color. I finished them off with some twisted cord - faster than i-cord, better looking than a crochet chain.

Because I can't find any instructions I like online for how to make twisted cord, here's what I do:

1. Determine the length you want your finished cord to be. [For example, two feet.]
2. Cut pieces of yarn (in this case, two) to a length THREE TIMES the length of your desired finished length. [For example, six feet each.]
3. Grab a friend or a secure hook or something else that won't move - put one end with your friend, and take the other.
4. Twist! Be very careful not to let go, and twist and twist and twist until you can't put any more twist into the yarn. You have to keep tension on the yarn as you're twisting, so hold on tight.
5. Without letting go... grab the halfway point and bring the two ends of the cord together. Let go of the center and the cord will twist up on itself like crazy.
6. Smooth out the twisty lumpy bits, and knot both ends. Ta-da, cord! If you need to shorten it, just tie another knot and cut off the excess.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Win-Win Situation

So a while ago, when I was visiting Alexandria, I was knitting a pair of socks in the rocket lounge at fibre space. After I got past the heel turn and most of the gusset, I was finally able to try them on.

DSC03888


And they wouldn't go over my heel. Argh! I have wide feet and high arches, and really it shouldn't have been a surprise that a sock covered in cables wouldn't stretch to fit.

It's an otherwise lovely pattern, called Bouton d'or, by Nicole Masson. I knit these in Hazel Knits Artisan Sock, which I got at Bobbin's Nest and have discovered I like very much indeed. The color is called Equinox and is somewhere between the two photos shown here.

I took the needles out and got ready to rip them out when Cindy, who was sitting nearby, had the brilliant idea to try them on. Luckily they fit her, and we worked out a swap. And lucky for me, Cindy has wee tiny feet so the knitting was speedy!

Cindy might be generous to a fault, and the other day this scrumptious package showed up in the mail.

DSC03884


And I'll bet you can't guess what was inside....

DSC03886


Yes, that's a big lovely hank of Wollmeise Lace. (The color is Madame Souris WD, if you're a Wollmeise junkie and you have to know these things). I haven't the foggiest idea what to do with it, but that's okay. It is purple and grey and gigantic and wonderful and I'm sure something lovely will come of it.

Finally I got the socks done and they have been washed and blocked and they are winging their way back to Virginia. I can't imagine Cindy is going to get much wear out of them for a little while, what with the heat, but I hope she loves them all the same.

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Homemade Nutella

DSC03917


Who can resist Nutella? The chocolate-hazelnut spread seems to be as ubiquitous in Europe as peanut butter is here, and for good reason. It's delicious! But Nutella is kind of pricey, and here in the US it's distributed by Nestlé, a company which we try to avoid.

Thank goodness for David Lebovitz, who is a pastry chef, blogger, and creator and compiler of delicious recipes. We've made some of his recommendations before. Can't remember what at the moment, but I'm positive it was delicious. Ooh, wait, no, here it is: Strawberry Frozen Yogurt. Will be making that the very moment I get the mixer out of the shop and get the ice-cream maker frozen again.

David's recipe for Nutella came out of a French cookbook, the Encyclopédie du Chocolat. It wasn't hard, but like any good kitchen project, it required a shopping trip, used lots of pans AND the food processor (which I hate washing), and kind of made a mess.

So. Let's do it.

Melt chocolate. Warm milk and honey.
Homemade Nutella making Homemade Nutella making



Toast hazelnuts; remove skins. (We used all hazelnuts, omitting the almonds called for in the original recipe - because we'd bought too many hazelnuts).
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Blend hazelnuts into oblivion (I didn't have any issues with texture or not having the hazelnuts be chunky; then again my food processor is kind of a behemoth).
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Add chocolate. Add milk. Blend like crazy (this step probably would have been better in the blender, but who wants to wash another appliance?)
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Pour into jars. Make crepes. Eat all the Nutella that didn't fit into jars on crepes.
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And now, the hard part. Try to forget the jar of nutella in the refrigerator, coupled with the fact that you own spoons and could just eat it out of the jar any time you want. Oops. Already failed on that one today.