Friday, March 30, 2012


Sorry, sock. Nom nom nom.

Hat pattern here (it's free!)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

less about knitting, more about food

This is technically my yarn along post, but I don't have any actual knitting to show and I haven't started these books yet. So I'm cheating, sort of.

Here we have The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters, and Forgotten Skills of Cooking by Darina Allen.
Also, I finished A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove, and I recommend it. At first I was bored...frankly I didn't care about hunting and preparing the wooly mammoth and the early history stuff didn't pique my interest either, but once she got to the 1800s things got more interesting. Even more, the chapters dealing with the 20th century were a great read, because I always wonder what happened to our society with regard to preparing healthy foods. The author doesn't answer that question for me, but she discusses the circumstances of women throughout the World Wars, the crazy baby boom time, and beyond, and also brings up the point that we watch the Food Network like addicted freaks but most women don't / can't / won't cook what they see on TV. We can't get enough of Ina Garten roasting a chicken or braising a brisket, but then we pick up some KFC or, if we feel classier, a prepared meal at Whole Foods (or Wegman's, if you live where I do).

I'm no gourmet chef by any stretch of the imagination, but every night my family knows there will be a homemade meal with a protein, a vegetable, and a starch on the table. The kids will have their glass of milk, there will likely be cut-up fruit for those who won't eat the veg, and we will sit together to eat the meal. The whole family is expected to find something they like on the table, and unless it is something I know the kids hate (like chili or red beans & rice) I do not make something different from the main dish.

Sure, we occasionally (about once a month) order pizza, or have sandwich night or leftovers-from-the-fridge night. And like I said, the meals are super simple and not gourmet. But I know my way around my kitchen and can make many decent meals from memory.

I was talking to an educated woman today, a woman I respect and admire for her professional knowledge and ability, and she claimed she "could never make a chicken." And I was like, really? You couldn't roast a chicken? The directions are right on the plastic wrapper! I think what she meant was that she has no interest in roasting a chicken. That's a different story, I suppose.

Sometimes I have no interest in cooking. Truthfully, most nights I have no interest in cooking because after a long day of housework and mothering, who wants to haul out pots and pans and then have to clean all that up? But something inside me says I should do it, so I do. My family seems to appreciate it. And moreover, I don't know what I would feed my peeps if I didn't cook each night.

Do you cook? Every day? Just for holidays? If not, is it because you hate it? Or you don't know how? I'm super curious about this, especially because I find in the crafty-mom-blog world there are a lot of women canning, baking bread, and hard-core gardening along with their sewing and knitting. So I am perhaps confused in thinking my generation (30-somethings) DO cook. Do we? Or is my perception skewed because of the online company I keep?

Oh, and those are beads up there in that picture. BEADS! It is possible that I have lost my mind, but in an effort to use up some languishing laceweight yarn, I'm going to attempt a beaded cowl. First time ever using beads with knitting...scary!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

yarn along

There hasn't been a whole lot of knitting over the last few days. With temperatures in the high 70s and abundant sunshine, we've been taking major advantage and spending most of our time outdoors. Such odd weather for March, but I can't complain. The only problem is my skin - I am extremely fair and there is no shade yet, so it's tough to find a place to sit outside and enjoy the warmth without cooking myself in direct sunlight. Oh well, that's not such a terrible problem to have.

I did do some knitting over the weekend. And I started a new book, so I have a yarn along post.

I'm reading A Thousand Years over a Hot Stove, by Laura Schenone. I had no idea this book existed until it caught my eye on the library shelf while I searched for another title. I grabbed it on a whim and so far it is an interesting history of the role of women in food production and preparation.

The knitting is Daughter's red cotton cardigan. The body is almost finished. I got some adorable buttons for it and I'm looking forward to getting it finished up so she can wear it to school in the mornings when it is still cool.

Friday, March 16, 2012

rainbow brite

Just in time for (unseasonable) 70 degree weather:

My rainbow socks are done!

How fun are these? I just love them. And they match exactly, which is the icing on the cake. I was really careful and it paid off.

The yarn is Knitpicks Felici in the "rainbow" colorway. Size 2 needles, 60 stitches, top-down construction. I used some Joann Bamboo & Ewe cream for the heels to keep the continuity of the striping from leg to foot. Oh, and they are for ME. Me, me, me!

Daughter loves the yarn too...not enough left for socks, but maybe, paired with another yarn (a deep charcoal?) enough for some mittens, gloves, or a beanie for her. We'll see.

So, it's seriously supposed to be 70 tomorrow, and sunny. Hubs says we're cleaning out the garage (blech). I say we're knitting in a lounge chair! Hooray for sun! :)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

yarn along

Yarning along with Ginny at Small Things again today. If you're into knitting and reading, do check out the many, many links on the weekly Yarn Along posts. You'll find good stuff.

First of all, I finished Growing a Farmer, by Kurt Timmermeister. It was pretty good. I liked The Dirty Life better, but then again there was a love story behind that one and the author is actually a writer so the story flows a bit better. Growing a Farmer is more technical and less lyrical but still a quality read. And the bibliography he references at the back of the book is phenomenal...I now have a much longer list of books I want to read!

This week:

I'm not even going to apologize for the glare in the photo because THE SUN IS SHINING! Spring is springing early this year and it feels so awesome. Even with the mild winter we've had, I've been longing for some sun and warmth.

The baby sweater is 99% complete. I have to weave in the ends and sew on some buttons but the knitting is complete. It's a free pattern. I've made several Carole Barenys patterns and they are all very easy to follow and quite adaptable. My yarn here is Lion Baby Soft in white, needles used were US 5. The baby is a girl, so I'll go look for some little flower buttons or something like that.

And the book! Oh, this book. I've been seeing it around the blogs, wondering what it's about, reading the rapturous reviews. Finally, my library had a copy of An Everlasting Meal available. Oh my word, friends, if you are at all interested in cooking - real, earthy, fresh ingredient cooking - go get this book. I'll be ordering my own copy and copies for my family members as well. It's brilliant, it really is. I want to meet Tamar Adler and just listen to her talk about food. That's how the book's like listening to someone who really loves and knows food, just talking about how best to treat it. I sort of think of her as a female Jamie Oliver...but way calmer. Same idea, though, of taking the best ingredients available and just putting them together beautifully and simply.

I'm not even finished reading it yet - about 2/3 through or so. I have to keep putting it down because it's so rich, I get exhausted.

I think I'll drag a patio chair out and read a bit more in the glorious, glorious sunshine. Hope it's sunny where you are too.

Friday, March 09, 2012

a tiny bit of knitting progress and some good reads

I've been working on nothing but this little sweater this week and it is taking forever. What is it about sport weight yarn and size 5 needles that slows me to a crawl? The body is almost complete, I'm just working out where to place the decorative slip-stitch rows that match the yoke, then I'll do the bottom ribbing and be on to the sleeves. I should have those finished up by, oh, Halloween at this rate. 

Progress is slow, is what I'm saying.

A couple more good books that I've sped through lately, in case anyone is looking for something to read:

Little Heathens, which was mentioned in the comments and I've seen it around the blog world lately too. It was an excellent read. It combines farming and frugality and the Depression, so it's a bit sad at times but mostly inspiring and awesome.

The Dirty Life - I couldn't put it down and read it in 24 hours. The best part about this book, for me, is that it's sort of still taking place right now. It was published very recently and is about events occuring within the past 10 years. The author graduated from college the same year I graduated from high school, so we are close in age. The farm where she lives and works with her husband and two daughters is at the opposite side of my state so it feels very close and real, and you can visit it! In fact there is a farm tour offered next week. If only.....but I don't think my husband would be up for a 6.5 hour drive to tour a farm, no matter how "famous" it might be. 

I'm currently reading Growing a Farmer (I wasn't joking that I can't get enough of this'd think I was doing research for a dissertation or something). It's also very good and quite contemporary, taking place in the 90s and 2000s, though again, the story is ongoing. 

I've got a whole stack of books from the library right now dealing with growing and preparing really good food. I always get excited about that concept at this time of year...even though I have only a measly 8X10 garden and children who think hotdogs and chicken nuggets are the apex of fine dining. 

But hey, we took a chance last year and planted several bell pepper plants, and despite my benign neglect we filled the freezer with a couple dozen beautiful, delicate, flavorful green bell peppers. I haven't once had to buy the dark green waxy supermarket behemoth peppers grown in Mexico. That's an awesome feeling...even my husband comments on how fresh and bright ours taste. So I'll soldier on with my tiny garden, and leave the farming to others, but I'll certainly enjoy reading about their experience.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

yarn along

One of my unofficial "resolutions" this year is to read more books. I used to be a voracious reader, but since having children that has gone out the window. I've noticed a serious problem with my attention span since dropping books in favor of aimless web browsing and that is not good.

I'm not very good at joining things and keeping up, but I'm going to try to participate in Ginny's yarn along.

For the past few years I've been obsessed with memoirs and stories about farming and/or the Depression...for whatever reason I just can't get enough of learning about how women did things before all the modern conveniences of today. For some reason that's what I thought This Life is in Your Hands was about, but it isn't. Rather, it is a memoir of growing up during the "back to the land" movement of the late 60s and early 70s. Melissa Coleman and her family lived right down the road from Helen and Scott Nearing and this book is a fascinating look behind the scenes of that whole experiment. It helps if you've read The Good Life, which I have. Coleman's book both adds to and punches holes in that story, and it is just a great read. Some reviewers panned it because it is written from the perspective of a very young child (birth to age 9 or so), and much of it is either imagined or pieced together from research, but who cares? It's an enjoyable read. I could do a whole book report on it but I won't. I'll just say I really, really liked it. (I am cheating a bit because I already finished it, but I haven't made it to the library to pick up my holds yet this week.)

As for knitting I am plugging away at the baby sweater for our speech therapist's baby, which I mentioned yesterday. I've placed the markers for the sleeves, and am nearly done with the increases so I can get to the main body stitches.

I don't know how much will get done today as it is sunny and the temps are indeed rising...56 already and it is only 10 AM! Yay!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

checking in

Well hello! What's new? I've been gone a bit...we went on a real vacation! With airplanes! And beaches! And, most exciting for my 3 year-old, elevators!

It was ok. Normally a family vacation to a sunny place wouldn't be in our budget, but after my sister cancelled her destination wedding in December, my parents were left with a bunch of non-refundable plane tickets. We got very lucky with an offer of a place to stay in the Florida Keys, so last week we packed up and jetted off. 

We enjoyed the warmth very much, and the Keys are...interesting. I wouldn't say exciting, but it was nice to visit. The kids enjoyed swimming several times a day, and riding the aforementioned elevator up and down in the condo complex where we stayed. It's challenging to travel with your parents, spouse, and young children. Kind of awkward playing the respectful daughter, the compromising wife, and the authoritative parent all at once, all the time. Still, it was a nice change of scenery and getting out of gray dreary cold NY in February is pretty priceless.

Now we're back to reality with all its funsies...therapy, school, work, chores, Daughter's stomach virus over the weekend (blech), worrying about AJ's preschool options for next year, pondering our next home improvement, waiting for signs of Spring. Tomorrow is supposed to be in the 50s! Oh please, let it be so. We could use some outside time. 

My vacay knitting was the pair of rainbow socks I can't seem to finish. It's March already and I feel like I've barely knit anything in 2012. I know it's not a contest but sheesh! I do like to complete projects and this year has been a slog so far. I'm in the homestretch more complete rainbow repeat and the second sock will be done.

Started a Spring cardigan for Daughter in this Cherry Cotton Ease. This photo is extremely washed's a rich cherry red. Cotton is a bummer for my hands so I work on it in fits and starts. I'm just about to put the sleeves on holders and work the body stitches. I picture this worn with a (handmade) sweet navy blue sundress with white polka dots just like the one I made when she was a toddler. Wouldn't that be adorable? Unfortunately Daughter is becoming picky on the eve of turning 7 (!) and I'll have to bounce that idea off of her before I buy any fabric.

Weighing heavily on my mind these days is the upcoming maternity leave of our awesome speech therapist, Miss Sarah. Boooooo. We are thrilled that she is welcoming a new baby girl, but I feel a deep sense of loss as she will be leaving us at least until late summer or early fall - that is, if we can even get her back. I've started a little white cardigan for the baby, and with each row I say a prayer for her health and wellbeing, and a selfish prayer that she makes it to term so she stays with us as long as possible. Any gain our son has made in his speech since September has been because of Miss Sarah and her methods. Yes, I work with AJ all the time on his speech, but she has given us the tools and the encouragement we need to move forward. Also, she is at our house 5 days a week. Her absence will be felt. :(

Nothing else exciting to report. Just starting to formulate some plans for some possible summer sewing, and anxiously awaiting Spring. What's new with you?