Saturday, January 22, 2011

Dorie Greenspan

En route to finding a recipe for mandelbrodt or biscotti, I came across Dorie Greenspan's blog.

I love it. I've heard some wonderful sound pieces, done by Michelle Norris with Greenspan on All Things Considered. Am now off to make Lenox Almond Biscotti.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Crown Potteries 10 38

Good haul from the Salvation Army today. A Luray plate, a Fiestaware bowl, and a very odd china baby plate. Here's a full view of the plate:
Note the whimsical figures: the little girl dog riding her scooter. The mama dog pushing a pram. The boy dog holding his human doll. Wait, what was that last one?
A bespectacled terrier, in short pants and a gingham shirt, holding his doll: a long-legged, red-haired, top-hatted man. Who designed this image for children? What does it mean? I've tried some on-line Googling of the name of the pottery company and the numbers on the bottom of the plate:
 No luck, so far. If you know anything about this plate, the image, or the pottery, I'd love to hear about it. Very strange, and I could not leave it behind, though I'm not sure what I'll do wiuth a baby plate, let alone a baby plate with this Gulliver's Travels (remember when the giants make Gulliver into a play toy for their children?) kind of imagery. Or perhaps reminding me of the Night Gallery episode when the camera pans back to reveal that the people on the train, going through the same station over and over, are actually on a toy train being played with by a giant girl child? (Or was it The Twilight Zone? All I know is that looking for the episode link here was even more disturbing than not remembering.)

Anyway, back to pottery. For a total of $1.68, I purchased the plate, a small Lu-ray plate to add to my tiny collection, and a Fiestaware bowl. Not sure if this is vintage, as in old Fiestaware, or not, but I liked it. Especially for 45 cents.
 Here's the bottom of the bowl, in case anyone has some knowledge about this.
All in all, a successful trip to the Salvation Army.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cloning

I just finished reading Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. Very restrained, and cryptic, and well-done, and sad.

Which makes it somewhat strange that the next book to show up in my interlibrary loan requests was The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Not sure I can take it on just yet, though it looks fascinating and also well-done.

So, at the moment, I'm reading E. Nesbit's The House of Arden. I thought that I'd read all of her books - English countryside, orphaned children, magic! - but this one is new to me. Just right for in-between, lay-on-the-couch reading.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Hat Hat Hat!

Watchcaps for my daughter and her boyfriend. The one on the right has been blocked. The one on the left, just finished being knitted, still looks somewhat like a mushroom. After soaking for a while in a sink of water and some Eucalan, it will relax and look more hat-like.

Knitting something over and over, with the same kind of yarn, is probably a rarity these days. As a result, it is unusual for me to get to know how a yarn behaves, how it responds to the amount of tension or lack of such that occurs when I knit, how it changes when it's blocked or worn for a while.

These hats are an exception. I've knit this pattern at least five or six times before. It's been the go-to pattern for a winter hat for my husband and daughters, who have managed to wear it, felt it accidentally, lose it, or wear it out. It's the International Seafarers Ministry watch cap with cuff: an authentic, British sailor hat (scroll down to the bottom of the page to get to the patterns). 

A good, honest watch cap with a deep cuff. And I've made all but two out of Jo Sharp Classic DK Wool. No longer such an easy yarn to find. But just right for this project: a DK weight, but not a superwash wool, so it feels a little bit stiff and well, honest. I love wool, and I can't get used to the acrylic feel of a superwash.

Here's another one, for my other daughter's boyfriend. (The Leinenkugel is just an artsy backdrop and bears no message.)
So, what happens when you knit the same thing many times, with the same yarn?

1. As the Yoga Sutra-s say, you move from the first stage of learning how to do something - when everything is awkward and takes a lot of thought - toward a state of ease, when the activity feels like second-nature. (Think about learning to ride a bike.) I can actually knit this hat and hold a conversation at the same time. (Though it's still awfully nice for watching Say Yes to the Dress.)

2. You learn about your habits. Especially gauge. Over time, my gauge has gotten looser and looser. I worked the brown hat up the same as the ones from the past, and it came out larger, looser, and used more yarn. On the same size needles and with the same number of stitches as the hats done a few years ago.

3. You learn new habits. When I showed the result to a teacher at the knitting store, she immediately sat me down and had me show her how I hold the yarn. No one, despite the number of people I've mentioned my loose gauge to, have ever suggested that. (I knit my Mimimalist Cardigan in Rown Felted Tweed on a size 2 bamboo circ. On Ravelry, most knitters are using a size seven or eight for the same pattern and yarn....) Turns out that, in this case, it's good to have tension. Who knew? The teacher showed me how to wrap the yarn around my pinkie and then over my index finger, instantly giving me more control and placing the yarn at more tension. The result: I soon was knitting so tightly that I couldn't move the stitches on the needle. I've found a halfway point by now, so that the knitting is tighter but not that tight. I'd always heard that you can't change your gauge, only your needle size. Not true, apparently.

Now I'm onto either something for me, or another hat, or a pair of Komi mittens for my husband (it's National Knit Mittens Month. Truly.Here's the official pattern.) . I gave away both pair of Brushed Suri fingerless mitts knit in December for holiday presents, and sent my old pair off with my daughter, who has a cold apartment and lots of studying to do. I'd like to knit up a new pair fast - but am trying to be more environmentally-conscious by using up what I already own, which is not the yarn I used for either pair. See, new learning curve: don't want it after the old-shoe comfort of knitting a familiar pattern with a familiar yarn.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Cupcake Time

I'm writing this as I wait for the Chocolate Ganache glaze to cool and turn into Chocolate Ganache Frosting.

For the Chocolate-Spice Cupcakes.

From Martha Stewart's Cupcakes.

There's something about winter that requires the eating of cupcakes. With frosting. It may have been about this time last year when I took the book out of the library, and we baked a different cupcake recipe almost every day. Yesterday I bought the cookbook (thanks, M!) and now I'm ready to work my way through the whole book.