Knitting for the Winter: Red Knight (aka Indigo)

Pattern:  A cross between Indigo, from Japanese Inspired Knits by Marianne Isager, and Spanish Knight, from A Collector’s Item by Jade Starmore.  I liked the shape of the jacket, but didn’t want to die of boredom while knitting miles of stockinette stitch, and I had always liked the stitch pattern of Spanish Knight.

Yarn:  Rowan Felted Tweed, in color “Rage.”

Modifications:  Rowan Felted Tweed was of course completely different (smaller) gauge from the specified yarns, but I used the directions for the smallest size and ended up with a jacket that is proportioned just right for my petite frame.  I also made the sleeves full length.

Thoughts:  I love the quiet Spanish Knight cable pattern in the tweed yarn.  Not that I’ll ever do this again, but I should have modified the collar so that it drops less in the front.  I enjoyed knitting this jacket, and love Rowan Felted Tweed — despite the yardage required, the jacket is light but still warm to wear.

Becoming Vegetarian: Beets!

CSA Share Week 2:  beets, spinach, garlic scapes, softneck garlic, rhubarb, red kidney beans, cilantro, snow peas, spring onions, eggs

Recipes:  rhubarb muffins, rhubarb margarita, ensalada rusa (beets, potatoes, cilantro, eggs), beet-dyed yarn, snow peas/scapes/garlic/spring onions stir fry, red bean curry with greens (heirloom Mexican red beans, beet greens, spinach, garlic, spring onions)

Who knew beets and rhubarb could be so versatile?

I have never cooked with rhubarb, but since I gave away our rhubarb share last week, I thought I should at least try doing something with the rhubarb share I got yesterday.  So, first thing this morning, I made whole wheat rhubarb muffins (based on a recipe found here).  I substituted whole wheat flour for the all-purpose and halved the amount of sugar, and the muffins were still delicious!  On a roll, I made rhubarb syrup out of the rest of the bag, and an hour ago DH made me a rhubarb cocktail (because somewhere in the world, it was happy hour) with vodka and fresh strawberries.  I saved the pulp for the Teenager, who mixed it in with her morning oatmeal and claimed that it was really good;  having given up sugared oatmeal, I think she is willing to try anything to liven up an otherwise dull breakfast!  I suppose I am a rhubarb convert now; after all, if you can make a drink out of it . . . .

Clearly I had nothing better to do on a Saturday morning, so I moved on to the small bundle of beets.  I don’t like beets — just do not like the taste, the texture, or the earthy smell.  But, I found a cooked salad recipe, ensalada rusa — a Latin American version of the Russian original — and thought that it sounded palatable: it is essentially a potato salad with boiled beets, hard-boiled eggs, mixed with vegan mayonnaise and topped with some chopped cilantro.  DH and I agree that it was surprisingly good (though an odd shade of pink), but we also agree that we are probably going to give away next week’s beet share.

I had all that lovely red beet cooking water left, though — surely there must be something I could do with it?  Years ago, before I knew what “superwash” meant, I bought a bag of white superwash merino yarn from a sales bin.  I never liked that yarn, but didn’t know that it was because of the superwash process that the merino did not feel like “merino” to me.  Anyway, I have been slowly using it over the years for doing provisional cast on, and this morning I thought I would give dyeing a go:

Dyeing yarn in beet juice

The surprise was the final result, a lovely, muted orangy-peachy color:

Beet-dyed yarn, drying in the breeze

I have no plans for the yarn, but that’s OK.

Next up, doing something with the snow peas and beet greens!  Who knew CSA shares could be so exciting 🙂

A Traumatic Week

The fire began Saturday last week:

Sunday, 10 June

Near sunset, 10 June

A week later, and smoke has descended and is gently (or not so gently) wafting through my neighborhood:

Mid-afternoon, 17 June

~ 6PM, 17 June

180+ homes gone, 1600 people involved in fighting the fire . . .   Firefighters are my heroes.

Red Chair Reads: Four and Twenty Beds

It is the late 1940s, and Grant and Nancy Vogel, a nice young couple with two little kids, decide — seemingly on a whim — to buy a motel on the edge of the Mojave Desert.  Grant is a charmer who can problem-solve like nobody’s business, and Nancy is a housewife with spunk, a budding feminist with a social consciousness.  Motorists’ hotels were not a new concept, but motels of the sort that the Vogels owned were.  These motels catered to families, offered comfortable, clean rooms, were readily accessible  off the new highways crisscrossing the country, were available all hours of the day, and boasted modern amenities such as radios, heating and air-conditioning, outdoor pools, and safe parking places for the pride of middle-class America — the family car.

The book is a very sanitized slice of mid-century American social history.  The Vogels are white, their clients are white, their friends are white, the town of Banning is white — except for the Indians, who have been banished to the reservation.  Nancy Vogel writes mainly about the trials and tribulations of running a motel, with occasional forays into the “equality” issue and the “race” issue.  One wonders why she bothered: she decides to visit the reservation (again, seemingly on a whim), picks up a Native American woman squatting on the side of the road, drives a bit into the reservation, then asks the woman to get out of the car.  End of adventure, end of vignette.  She is uncomfortable, she doesn’t know why, and neither do we.  Still, Four and Twenty Beds is a fun read, and interesting for what it says — and doesn’t say — about the American psyche at mid-century; it is truly one family’s “Happy Days.”

YMCA of the Rockies: Big Bear cabin

Four days at YMCA of the Rockies (in a brand new cabin), Rocky Mountain National Park, time to hike, read, eat dessert, hike, read . . . .  our version of “Happy Days.”

Knitting from the Winter: Fuse Cardigan, Pentagon Aran Pullover, Phyllo Yoked Pullover, Kaari redux

Spring cleaning continues, and I am finally documenting the sweaters I finished months ago:

Fuse Cardigan

Fuse Cardigan

Pattern: Fuse Cardigan, by Veronik Avery, from Brooklyn Tweed Wool People Vol. 2, Winter 2012.

Yarn:  Woolen spun sport weight Cormo yarn from Elsa Wool Company, in medium grey.

Modifications:  It was a somewhat complex pattern from the shaping point of view, so I think the only thing I did was do the usual tweaks related to my short stature.

Thoughts:  It is a really interesting design, and I appreciate the fact that the cardigan looks good with the neckline draped as well as undraped!

Pattern:  Pentagon Aran Pullover, by Norah Gaughan, from Knitting Nature.

Yarn:  A merino wool-silk-cashmere yarn from Lambspun of Colorado, in clary sage.  I bought this yarn years ago and in December recycled it from another Norah Gaughan sweater.  It has held up very well.

Modifications:  I made the collar shorter, and changed the sleeves to top-down inset sleeves instead of drop-shoulder sleeves.

Thoughts:  Norah Gaughan rules!  Knitting Nature has some of Norah Gaughan’s best designs; having said that, I really have to squint to see the pentagons . . . .  Still, a great pattern that is a cool alternative to traditional arans.

Phyllo Yoked Pullover

Pattern:  Phyllo Yoked Pullover, by Norah Gaughan, from Knitting Nature.

Yarn:  Rowan Calmer, in mandarin (discontinued).  I confess, I bought the yarn because of the Rowan mystique, and because the fiber makeup of Calmer intrigued me.  The yarn was on closeout, so it was cheap . . . .  but it was orange.  No getting around it, it looks like orange sherbet.  But, the yarn worked perfectly for the pullover, and surprisingly enough, I actually look good in orange!

Modifications:  I shaped the waist, shortened the sleeves, changed the depth of the phyllo lattice, and made the neckline smaller so it wouldn’t fall off my shoulders.  Never did like the 80s off-shoulder thing . . . .

Thoughts:  To this day, I am not convinced that the phyllo yoke pattern works as presented in the book.

Kaari, redux

Pattern:  Kaari, by Norah Gaughan, from Berroco: Norah Gaughan Vol. 1

Yarn:  Handspun, undyed yarn from Lambspun of Colorado.  As with most of my projects these days, the yarn was recycled from another sweater.

Modifications:  I knitted the pullover in the round (I thought the yarn would be sturdy enough not to need seams for structure), and picked up the stitches for the pocket band from bottom and attached it next to the side seam (rather than sewn into the seam).  I didn’t like the curl at the top of the pockets, so did a few rows of seed stitch.  I also wanted to make the neck line narrower, but obviously did not succeed.

Thoughts:  This version of Kaari is more successful than version one, which got recycled into Freija.  I wish the neck were narrower, but other than that, I like the pullover, and the rusticity of the handspun wool is perfect for the whole conception of the sweater.