Can it be Summer Now? Friday, Jan 30 2009 

It is freezing out. I am doing anything I can to stay inside. I live in Pittsburgh, land of ice and poor sidewalk maintenence, so I am glad for the instincts I got from my survivalist father that keep my pantry full. Superbowl is this weekend, and the Steeler fever is insane, so I will be avoiding the grocery store even if the sun comes out and little baby angels offer to fly me there. Well…I would like to fly…and see those babies carry my weight. Anyway. This whole month has been eat out of the pantry and knit hardcore; leaving me to find new ways to rock chicken stock, beans, and flour (plus the 800 other things I always have in the house, I am ALWAYS prepared) and new ways to use yarn that I didn’t buy for any reason.

I’m too new of a knitter to be comfortable with insane substitutions or changing gauge too much, so I have many skeins of yarn that I have no idea what to do with, then I have yarns I got simply because I liked (I love Bertnat satin, why did I only get ONE skein of red??? What can I do with 164 yds???) either the color or the feel, but didn’t want to spend too much so I only got one. Of every color I liked. wtf. So, I need to keep track of how much yarn I will need in order to actually make the pieces I like. Then get that.

I limit myself to cascade 220 and Caron Simply Soft unless there is some specific piece I will make with it. Jeez!

W00T!!! Monday, Jan 26 2009 

Finished my first knitted-in-the-round project! It was Lion Brand’s Luxury Cowl/Hood and I did it in Cascade 220 Wisteria (out of my LYS orphaned bin). It is a gift for my brother’s girlfriend, and I plan on making it again, at least for me in some super soft red. I plan on casting on fewer stitches, I liked the way the original pattern draped as a hood, but it was a bit droopy as a cowl. Also, I used up all 220 yards and would have liked it longer, but not enough to break open another skein. So I think little tighter circle, little longer. I made a few obvious flaws, but no horrible ones. I think knitting in the round makes me more susceptible to yarn overs. It’s harder to see where exactly in the loop the needle goes.

Next up, double sided hummingbird scarf for my mother’s birthday, Dr. Who themed illusion scarf for R, scarf for M (best friend and maid of honor extraordinaire), maybe a first foray into the world of hats, legwarmers for EE. Basically, if you are a friend from library school, I will knit for you. Librarians appreciate handknitted things.

Beat the Blues WITH FOOD Tuesday, Jan 20 2009 

I’ve been in awful moods lately. Perhaps it is my kind-of-fun-but-largely-unfufilling job, perhaps it is family illness worries, perhaps it is wedding planning stress (Dr. Boyfriend is in medical school and too busy to help, really. Not to mention the fact that he moved us across state so I am planning it long distance without even my mother nearby for assistance). Whatever the reason, I have got the blues bad.

So, of course, I immerse myself in things that make me happy, and that mostly consists of COOKING! On Friday, I despaired because Saturday is our grocery shopping day, leaving Fridays to be “scrounge in the fridge, throw your hands in the air in frustration and eventually just order pizza” day. Instead,  i  found the one fresh food item we had (broccoli), and threw it with staples we always have to create this amazing cassarole. I used my modified Better Homes and Gardens mac and cheese recipe, and the end result was a cross between mac and cheese and a vegetable lasagna.

I cooked the pasta as usual (mostly macaroni, with rotini and small shells as well for texture and catching the sauce). I chopped up broccoli and carrots and pre-steamed them. I chopped garlic, shallots, and onions and cooked them in a little butter until tender, added flour and pepper. Then milk, stirring until thickened and bubbly. I added two kinds of cheese, pepper jack and velveeta (mostly for the color), stir until melted, then stirred in the  chopped broccoli and carrot (unevenly chopped for an interesting texture). Remove from heat, mix with pasta, then pour in a pyrex container, cover with bread crumbs, and bake for 30 minutes. Such comfort food!

Saturday we sprung for expensive steaks, expensive meaning they were REAL steaks as opposed to me just treating up some cheap beef, still way cheaper than if we went out to a restaurant. (bad weather makes for no restaurant dining. Also, the combonation of not having a car and large sections of the city closing at 5 pm doesn’t help either. I would kill to go to an awesome restaurant.)

Sunday is my usual day for “cook something huge that takes forever as an excuse to not leave the house”. This time I used a pork shoulder/boston butt that was super super cheap from the grocery store. I never cooked it before, so I went to the trusty interwebs. Between recipes for bbq pulled pork and recipes for pork osso busco style, I came up with my own recipe, seasoning the shoulder and cooking in a mixture of white wine, water, leftover jar spaghetti sauce, and BBQ sauce. It braised for four or five hours, falling apart and making it super easy to shred, leaving me with delicious subtly tomato and bbq flavored meat. I said it tasted “porky”, which Dr. Boyfriend found funny, but that’s what I was going for, a subtle sauce that didn’t overwhelm the taste of the actual meat. Cooking with the bone in probably helped. I paired this with Dr. Boyfriend’s favorite crispy baked potatoes. (Cut potatoes, cook in microwave. Toss with onions and garlic, spray with oil, season, put on cookie sheet and pop in oven until all is cooked and crispy.)

Yesterday I put together a quesadilla bar and my friend/neighbor/fellow librarian R came over.

I have no idea what I will make tonight, but I need something that will chase the blues away and put the fear of God into it for never coming back.

Project Wishlist/Goals Friday, Jan 16 2009 

Before now, as I stroll Craftster and other sites, I have been emailing myself links to patterns or skills I want to learn. It is getting messy. So, for posterity, here is a link list so that I can get to it easily.

Skills to learn in general:

  • knitting continental  style
  • knitting in the round
  • hats
  • socks
  • sweaters/piecing things together
  • vests
  • cables
  • lace
  • intarsia
  • fair isle

Specific Patterns to do when I get time/the ability to do them:

Isn’t it funny that as a supreme beginner knitter, I already have all these lofty ambitions? I have to be careful to monitor my ambition along with my ability so that I don’t just get fed up and frustrated and throw the whole concept of knitting away.

Everything about knitting seemed so complicated at first, but then I grew to trust the pattern for a little bit, until my brain and fingers could figure it out and I learned the theory and then can mess with it. When I first figured out that you keep your work towards the right, and whatever you knit right now actually appears on the opposite side of the work, it blew my mind.

I do my best knitting theory thinking at night, when i should be sleeping. I lay there and all of a sudden it hits me, and I’ve figured out how illusion knitting works enough that I can create my own pattern. (hint: it takes four rows of knitting to create one row of the illusion). I  will nudge Dr. Boyfriend awake simply to tell him “stockinette stitch curls because knits are wider than they are tall and purls are more square, maybe even a little taller than they are wide, so the knit side of the same amount of stitches takes up more space than the purl side!” He does not care, but he also does not remember this in the morning.

The most complicated things because easy when I sit and do them for a little bit, and figure it out at night. That’s how I  was able to sit down last night and figure out double sided knitting. Now, I will be able to design and create the double knitted hummingbird scarf I am making my mother for her birthday (Feb 14th). Ta DA!

2009 Tuesday, Jan 13 2009 

Happy 2009 everyone! Happy new blog, me!

I try to set yearly goals for myself, and this year I decided I would be more crafty, and that I would keep track of my successes. This way, I can look back at everything I have done and feel like I have something to show for it. I can go back and see progress as I learn something new or get better at something.I have hopes for this improving my life. IMMENSELY. Now get to it.

Most of my non-work time (and some work time, I admit) is spent reading, cooking, or knitting, so these are good stepping stones.

Hello world! Tuesday, Jan 13 2009 

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