Sunday, January 31, 2010

Shrug progress and severe pain.

I've finished up the arm-bits of my shrug (it's a beyatch being so tall, I've got nearly 70" of knitting when I go cuff to cuff) and have picked up stitches for the collar. I'm not sure how I'm going to bind off, but I'll worry about that when I get there. I'm just grateful that my arms are proportional, and I haven't got the reach of an ape. If they were longer than the average (in terms of proportion--generally speaking, your wing span will be the same as your height) I would never have finished that thing.

And free advice for the day: If it's been a while since last you ate cruciferous veggies, DON'T for the love of all the gods, eat an entire bag of steam in bag broccoli with cheese sauce. Yes, it may be tasty, but the pain, oh, Lord God Almighty, the pain. I have the feeling it will be with me until late tomorrow, as well. I wanted to put down my yoga mats just so I could writhe around on the floor like something out of a tragic movie, then realized a) how wussy of me, I should grow up, and b) I use those mats for blocking--if I rolled around on them, I might get dirt on them.

Which is more sobering a thought: I am an immature whiner with very low pain tolerance, or I won't writhe on the ground in pain because it will besmirch my blocking pads? Either way, very sad.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

As if I don't have enough to be going on with....

I've started a shrug. Yes, a shrug. One that I've decided I must finish before I leave on my cruise next month. I've heard it can be chilly in the dining rooms (and on the sea; yes, we're going to Mexico, but it's winter in Mexico just like it is here. I'm not saying it will be as cold there as it will be here, and God, I hope not or what the heck did I pay all that money for, is all I'm asking, but it won't be 110 Farenheit, that's for sure.)

It's in Bernat Alpaca Chunky (alpaca/acrylic blend), in a nice, toasty brown (called, appropriately enough for the time I bought it, Tundra.) Which will wear with absolutely nothing I'm taking on this cruise for the formal events, as I will be wearing a lot of black. Oh, well. It will go with my casual clothes, I guess. You can be chilled just as easily in your t-shirt and jeans as your nice dress with spanglies.

That's it, all curled up in my new recliner. I got rid of the chaise longue, it was playing dickey with my back. This one's not much better, so I think it's actually all down to my back. The past few days I've been nothing but achy--my back, my left elbow, my legs--but those are aching because of my back. I'd say it's old age (as I'm on my way there) but it came on so sudden. Maybe I'm sickening for something? I can cope with the flu, or a nasty cold, as long as it hurries up and gets on with it and then goes on its way. It's the pre-game that's got me irritated.

A good friend of mine recommended I go to a masseuse, but I am skint beyond skint at present, and I don't think I should do that. Wish I could, or at least figure something out in the meanwhile. I'm not supposed to take anti-inflammatories (ie, aspirin, ibuprofin) due to my allergies, but my only option (acetaminophen) is useless to me. I'd have to take on enough pills to cook my liver well done for it to have any effect. Eh. Not worth it. I could just rely on scotch....

Maybe I'll do some yoga. In the meantime, I'm almost at the end of the third skein of yarn and then I have only three or four inches and the cuff out of the fourth before I bind off and pick up stitches for a collar. I'll have it done in good time, I'm sure, but I fear my elbow will never be quite the same!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What she said.

This. Yes, exactly.

And I like her eyebrows. Wish I could rock that look!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Snow Day!

See what I woke up to today? Well, technically, I didn't wake up to it--the vast majority of it has fallen since I've been awake. And it's not stopped falling. If you can't see clearly and don't wish to click on and embiggen, that ruler is stuck in snow up to the 3. As in 3 inches of snow. Or, for our Metric Friends:

8cm. Oh, how it sucks to be me today!

Of course, it's very pretty. And I really have nowhere else to be, so I suppose I can just enjoy the show. And yes, we are aware that evergreen is very shaggy. It's in too shady of a spot. We're thinking about removing it and sending it on to its next life as a bag of chips or mulch this spring. I won't miss it much, that's the tree under which the Evil Raccons shelter in summer.

Anyway, as I've no call to be out in this mess, I'm sitting at my desk, enjoying a bowl of last night's soup (cream of leek and potato, modified, recipe below) and thinking about working on some of my personal projects today. I will have to do some writing--I made a promise to my writing partner that I would--and then I will have to do some knitting. There's really nothing better on a nasty snowy day than a comfy chair, some nice warm lap rugs and knitting. My God, it's as if I've gone to heaven!

Anyway, if you are curious, here's my recipe for the Cream of Leek and Potato Soup. I got the original recipe from a book called Good & Garlicky, Thick & Hearty, Soul-Satisfying More Than Minestrone Italian Soup Cookbook by Joe Famularo, which is a very good book full of dozens of recipes I've got flagged for the trying. If you can get a copy (the soft cover is available for a pinchy price of nearly $50), the original recipe is on page 253. Here is my version:

2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced (I checked the weight after peeling/removing black or green spots) (I should note he does not specify the style of potatoes used, I just like goldies for the flavor and the fact they hold their shape better in soups past the first day--a key feature for the way I do soup)

5 large leeks, white and some of the lighter green, well rinsed and cut into rings (or half rings, much easier to get the sand out that way)

1 10 oz bag of frozen chopped spinach

roughly 3 cups ham, diced up (if you've got the bone, toss it in for the initial boil; alas, I got to the hock too late and the bone was no more)

salt, to taste

water to just cover all the bits in the pot.

This part of the soup goes into a big (very, very big) soup pot (I use my mother's steel 1950's soup pot--I could boil a whole sheep in it if I wanted) and bring to a boil. Note this will take way the heck longer than you think. Mine took almost an hour to come to a very reluctant bubble, but that may be a feature of the pot more than anything else. Shake in a bit of salt; even with the ham, you will need it. Reduce heat to a simmer (good luck! Inertia also works in regards to heat of water. Again, this could be a feature of my stove/pot.) Cover and simmer for about 30-45 minutes, until the veggies are tender. Watch the potatoes, they can either fall apart in 15 minutes or be reluctant to take the fork in 40. It all depends on the type you use. Overall, though, I'd have to say this is a very forgiving recipe, in that I ended up not quite hitting a boil and simmering my soup for over an hour. Still works, though.

At this point, I took a full blender carafe's worth of the veggie matter (trying to avoid the ham) and pureed it. I poured it back into the pot, which turned the soup the most delightful green. Now you need:

1/2 stick of butter (or a little more, if you like it sweet. I come from the Paula Deen School of Cooking Rules, and it says more butter is better. Don't go over 3/4 a stick though. You'll regret that.)

1/2 cup half and half (or whole or 2% milk, if you prefer, just don't do skim. It won't work.)

Add to the soup and let melt and moosh together. Serve, preferably with nice hot rolls or bread. Maybe even a beer, or a light white wine. It refrigerates very well (at least on day one), and the flavors tend to mellow second day. If it gets manky over the course of the week I'm going to be enjoying it (I've got more than enough left over to eat on this for over a month), I'll let you know.

I was particularly concerned with the bitterness of the spinach--I love spinach; the bitterness is quite redolent of good, old fashioned greens (in the soul food style)--but my family, who do not share my palate, didn't seem to mind. Maybe I'll try this in future with a milder green, like romaine or perhaps Chinese celery (I love celery, particularly the leaves), just to see if they prefer it that way. I think it might also bring out the sweetness of the leeks and butter if I use the celery instead.

Mmmmm. Celery in my soup. That thought particularly makes me happy!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I can keep a resolution for the first week, anyway.

I said I would design this year, and here is a small, up-close type shot of my first project:

I am about 1/5th of the way done, and I've only spent three nights (less than four hours' worth of knitting) on it. That puts me at less than 20 hours to blocking! Yay!

If you can't tell, that's my Great American ultra fine Merino and silk blend, there. It has a nice shine, and it's started pooling in rather attractive ways. I'm quite pleased with how it's turning out so far, but we'll see what is to be seen when I get done.

I had to run back to my LYS on New Year's Eve for a fourth skein of this yarn (or, at the most, two), just to make sure I had enough yarn to finish the type of project in which I have engaged. I made it through the door, just by the skin of my teeth--pretty literally--as she had decided to close even earlier than she typically does. I dug frantically through the Great American yarn cubby, searching for more of this yarn. I got a seriously sinking feeling when I couldn't initially see it, but by pulling every last skein of yarn out of the cubby (no, I'm not obsessive at all), I managed to find not one, not two, but three skeins of this color, all in the correct dye lot. I couldn't orphan one of the poor skeins, naturally, so I had to take them all. Now I've got far, far too much of this yarn for this one project. Never fear, I'm sure I can find something to do with it, 'cause I'm crafty like that.

After this project, I will have to begin designing with my Araucania (for reference):

I've got it all caked up, just waiting to go. Not sure what to do with a yarn so exceptional--particularly considering how heavy it is for the size. It's got the heft of cotton, but the shine and slink of silk, so there are some really good options and, just as unfortunately as that was fortunate, a lot of really bad ones. I saw it originally done up as a scarf, but it's pretty hefty yarn so I imagine it couldn't be a very substantial one. I'm also not sure how warm this yarn would be (the model was in lace), so it's going to be a major crapshoot all around and no mistake when I get creative with this stuff.

But that is a problem for a future day, some 20 hours in the future, while my mohair silk project is drying on the blocking pads....