Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Brown Blob

For some time now, I’ve been scouring patterns on Ravelry, looking for something akin to a vest, a short-sleeved cardigan… I wasn’t sure what, but I wanted something I could slip on over a t-shirt, something to keep my shoulders warm while my hands and arms are still free.

I finally narrowed it down to a couple of options. Next, was the question of yarn. I have a fairly decent stash and I found some worsted weight yarn that might do. There was definitely enough of it; I’d purchased an entire bag (10 skeins) of the stuff.

The next question was: would the patterns be compatible with the chosen yarn? I swatched. I checked the patterns.

Ultimately, I was able to match the stitch gauge (but not row gauge) to one of the patterns and promptly cast on.

As the title infers, I call this the brown blob. It will not always be “blobby”. The pattern is a Berroco pattern, Quonset Worsted. The yarn is Earth Collection Homestead, 100% wool. The pattern calls for 4.5 mm needles with worsted weight yarn, but I’m getting stitch gauge on 5.0 mm needles. My row gauge is out slightly, but I’m finding that it really isn’t making too big a difference being out 2 rows every 4 inches. I can live with slightly deeper arm scyes.

As you can see, it will be a fairly casual little sweater, something easy to put on and take off as needed. When you’re cold one moment and having a hot flash the next, that is a good thing!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

I Almost Forgot

I have another finished object. I finished these a couple of weeks ago, but forgot that I hadn’t blogged about them.

These are the Kunigunde wrist warmers, a free pattern I found through Ravelry. The link to the pattern can be found here. I used some sock yarn I had in my stash. For some reason, I didn’t like this yarn as socks but it works well for this pattern. It’s a fairly simple knit and I’m pleased with how they turned out.

This afternoon has been fun. Earlier this week, the neighbour’s granddaughter (who lives with her grandparents) asked me if I could teach her to knit on Friday. Seeing as I work full time, I told her Friday was out, but she could come over on Saturday afternoon and I’d show her the basics. Well, today she and a friend came over, yarn and needles in hand. Well, K had yarn and needles. S didn’t and was provided with both.

Both girls caught on fairly quickly but K definitely got it. She managed to get six rows done and only made one extra stitch. For an absolute beginner, she did good! I started them out with 12 stitches and taught them only the knit stitch. Once they’re comfortable with that, I’ll teach them the purl stitch and then we’ll start on a simple project. If they’re still eager, that is.

Today’s “lesson” was about an hour long; they can’t wait for the next lesson and already have visions of knitting sweaters, hats, scarves…

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Finished, but…

I finally have another finished object. It just feels like knitting has been pushed to a back burner around here. This weekend, though, I decided that one small project was so close to being done that I’d just better sit down and get it done.

So I did.

This is the Mini Mochi hat #2. It shouldn’t have taken me as long as it did; it’s not a difficult knit. Other things just got in the way. I’m happy it’s done.


It’s too big for me. It’s too long and it’s not the kind of ribbing you can turn up because it definitely has a wrong and a right side. So, now I’m on the search for someone who loves the hat and has a larger head than mine.

In other things, I got the deal of the month last week. If you read this blog regularly, you’ll know that I work near a thrift store. Well, earlier this week, I went there on my lunch break to look for an exterior light; we have (had) a sensor light at our back door but only one of the lights worked and the sensor only worked sporadically. It was rare for the light to stay on for any more than a few seconds. I found a light, marked at $5.00, and made my way to the front counter. When I got there, I saw a package with a Sansa mp3 player, still in it’s original packaging. I asked the clerk if I could look at it, made sure everything was included and checked the price. It was marked at $20.00. I decided it was a good price and made my way to the till.

There, the lamp was discounted by 50%, making it $2.50. When the clerk rang in the mp3 player, she asked a co-worker if it was on sale as well; she was told it was, making it $10.

I should tell you I didn’t buy it for myself; I have my iPod. John likes to listen to CBC radio while he’s working and his last player (a Sansa Clip) died earlier this year so I thought this would be a good replacement for him. The price was certainly right.

Included in the package is also a sports arm band. When I got home, I started doing a bit of research. The armband, a Griffin iPod Nano sports armband, retails for about $20. The Sansa player? Well, check out this Amazon link (Sansa e270).

Yup, I got a real deal!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Memories of Summer

This year saw a good harvest of grapes from the vine out in the garden. We picked them as they ripened but didn’t have time to do much with them, other than turn them to juice and freeze the resulting juice. I think there are about eight tubs of frozen grape juice in the freezer right now; I’m not positive because John didn’t label the ones he froze. I did.

Today, while battling a migraine (which still hasn’t gone away), I decided to thaw some of that juice. I thawed two containers as one batch of jelly requires 5 cups of juice and the tubs are one liter tubs, which is about 4 cups of juice.

In all, I have 7 jars of jelly. The one in the picture wasn’t a full jar, just the end of the batch. There’s one other small jar like the one in the picture; the rest are 1 cup jars (1/2 pint, I think?). I did cut back on the sugar slightly. Normally you shouldn’t because it can affect how the jelly jells, but it wasn’t a problem. It’s lovely, perfect for spreading and very, very tasty.

The biscuits, incidentally, were made just so we could sample the jelly. In the middle of winter, we’ll be enjoying summer on our biscuits and toast. And there’s more juice in the freezer. Does it get any better than that?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

One of Those Weeks

All day today, I’ve been thinking about the blog and wondering what to write about. Knitting has been pretty much non-existent so there’s nothing to write about there. Work has been a bit on the stressful side, but nothing I really want to write about.

I could write about the weather, I suppose. It’s sunny but not terribly warm. Autumn definitely has us in its grip. John and our landlord have both been working in the garden, harvesting and cleaning up.

That brings me to the purpose of today’s post. I’ve just realized that there are two things that help me get past the stress of the work week (not that it’s all that stressful, but it’s work!). One, as you know, is knitting. Knitting, though, has not come easy in the last while. The other, which will likely come as no surprise to anyone who reads this blog, is cooking. I’ve just never really realized just how relaxing I find cooking… until today.

An empty bowl. I can tell you that it was wonderful! It was sublime! It was simple. And it made me realize that cooking, for me, is nothing short of meditative and grounding.

So, what was in the bowl? Well, allow me to back up a little. Last weekend, I made pasta. It’s gone. Today, I decided to make another batch.

When I make pasta, there are always little bits that really don’t qualify as “noodles”. They get piled in a little pile and never really come to more than about a half cup of pasta bits. That’s the cook’s portion. After making the pasta, setting it to dry, I put on a small pot of water and cook the little leftover bits. This time, I also chopped up one clove of garlic, melted a bit of butter and then tossed the cooked pasta in with a bit of parmesan cheese. At the first bite, I realized that all the stress of the previous week had just dissipated. It was a taste of… well… a taste of YUM!!!

I realize I’m going on and on about pasta but it came as something of a surprise to realize just how satisfying and fulfilling and stress-relieving just doing something this simple has been. I suppose it’s partially because it’s another creative endeavour. Maybe it’s the satisfaction of making something that others find delicious. Maybe it’s getting into the dough, feeling your food. I don’t really know. What I do know is that it satisfies at a very deep level.

Have I mentioned that I love cooking?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Speaking of Pasta

Kristie responded to my last post (about pasta), asking if I had a special recipe that works. I’ve tried a couple of different recipes in the past; this time I used a recipe I found on (one of my favourite sites for finding recipes, incidentally).

I consider this one a keeper. I like the texture of it; I could have rolled it out a little thinner as the noodles puffed up quite a bit on cooking. The noodles have some “tooth” to them, a little chewy (perhaps a touch undercooked?) and have some body to them. It is definitely a recipe I’ll be making again, perhaps even today. That first batch has already been consumed.

We had company the night I made the pasta. They had, apparently, been eating off and on all day (they were in town for a granddaughter’s birthday party and Thanksgiving) but we hadn’t. John made a nice light tomato sauce with garden fresh tomatoes, sweet onions, fresh garlic and some of the last basil leaves from the garden. I cooked the pasta and served it with parmesan cheese and warmed homemade dinner buns and butter, served with a choice of red or white wine (I drink white). It was a lovely light meal and everyone agreed that the pasta was excellent.

Without further ado, here’s the recipe:

Homemade Pasta Dough

  • 2 cups white flour
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons warm water

Place flour in a large glass bowl and form a well in the middle. Add remaining ingredients into the well. With a fork, in a circular motion, stir wet ingredients just around rim of dry ingredients, bringing a little bit of flour into the wet, a little at a time until all are mixed together.

Pour mixture onto a floured board and knead until tight and glossy. It should be difficult to mix, to a point where no more flour will stay into mixture. Form into a ball and let it sit, covered, for 1/2 – 1 hour.

Cut into manageable pieces to fit into pasta machine. Flour pieces as needed; if dough is too sticky it will not go through the pasta machine smoothly.

Run three times through larger slot size, then once through decreasing sizes progressively until desired thickness. Run through pasta cutter of choice and dry overnight. Store dried pasta in sealed bags or containers.

The original recipe, from, can be found here: Homemade Pasta Dough.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

What Makes YOU Happy?

Now, why would an ugly table leaf like that make me happy, you wonder?

Well, since we moved into this suite (over a year ago), I’ve had nowhere to attach my pasta maker; the counter tops in here are way too thick to attach it. My table would have been perfect, but it’s too nice to clamp the machine to it, potentially damaging the surface.

When I bought this table, about 12 years ago, it didn’t come with the leaves, even though there are brackets for leaves on either end. I’ve been trying to get someone (anyone!) to make me at least one leaf ever since. I even drew out a blueprint for it. I didn’t want anything pretty, just functional.

John finally took it upon himself to construct it for me. He did have an ulterior motive; he wanted fresh pasta. Now, I have an ugly, but functional table leaf and John and I will be feasting on fresh pasta with fresh tomato, onion and basil sauce for dinner.

What makes YOU happy?

Incidentally, I put a plastic table cloth on the table before clamping the pasta machine to it. The wood John used is treated plywood and is not food safe.

At Least 10,000 People Helped You

With Thanksgiving Day looming, I wanted to share something I came across recently. John owns a cookbook that was copyrighted in 1934 and printed in 1943. The Mystery Chef’s Own Cookbook is a fascinating book; the author, John MacPherson, was the host of a Depression Era/wartime radio recipe show and was, at that time, very popular.

In the introduction of the book, he has a section entitled At Least Ten Thousand People Help You To Prepare Each Meal. I present it here for your reflection. Thanksgiving Day is, in my opinion, the perfect time for such a reminder. Keep in mind, as you read this, that it was written sometime in the 1930’s. Production and delivery methods differ somewhat now, but the message is still the same.

When you sit down at your dinner table tonight, think for a moment of how many people were employed in the growing and preparation of the ingredients you used in cooking that dinner.

When I say ten thousand men and women help us to prepare each meal, I believe the estimate is conservative; and I think you will agree with me when we have traced through the people involved in the production of just one ingredient from its source to your table.

Let us take a pan of hot biscuits. What are the ingredients required? Flour, butter, baking powder and salt (the liquid used can be water). You and I have all these ingredients in our kitchens, ready for use at a moment’s notice. But how did they get there?

Suppose we trace just one of these – flour – from its source to you. The farmer has planted the seed and it has grown to maturity – a waving field of golden grain in the Northwest. Give your imagination free rein as we follow the grains of wheat from that field in the Northwest to your kitchen, where it arrived in the form of a sack of flour. I do not have to fill in all the details, but let me trace in a very superficial way a picture that will show some of those employed in the work of placing that flour in your hands.

First there are the men who sowed and cultivated the grain, and then the threshing machines and the men who run them. Now the trucks are hauling the wheat to a ship on the Great Lakes. Follow that ship – watch the stokers as they shovel coal (and don’t forget the miners who mined the coal which drives the ship’s engines). The ship carries the grain to a great flour mill with its roaring machinery, and here a vast number of men is employed. Then there are the cotton pickers in the South who pick the cotton that feeds the looms that weave the sacks in which the flour is put. And there are the printers who print the name on the sack in order that you and I may be able to recognize the brand of flour we want – an important service since all flours are not alike and the flour we use makes a great difference in the success we have in baking.

I am not going to fill in this picture further, more than to ask you to follow the flour from the mill as it makes its way to you by rail or ship. Think of all the changes of locomotives on the railroad and of all the railroad men that had a part in handling the flour on its way to the grocery store.

Then remember that flour is only one of the many ingredients used in the preparation of a dinner. Trace all these ingredients from their source to your kitchen.

The grocer’s boy is only the messenger bringing to you the fruit of ten thousand other hands.

What are you going to do with these ingredients? Throw together a careless meal? Or are you going to be the artist – one worthy to receive the work of these ten thousand hands, and with loving care prepare a meal so delicious that you will be repaid a thousandfold for your work by the enthusiastic praise of those who are fortunate enough to dine at your table.

Happy Thanksgiving

to all my Canadian friends and family