Knitting : Excuses excuses….

So a few weeks ago, I promised not to start anything new until spectra was complete. I’m half way there. But last week in utter defiance of myself and apparent lack of self control this beautiful soft color set in greens just would not shut up. It was hanging out on my coffee table, loitering, really. It just sat there mocking me.

On the other hand, I was hanging out on Ravelry (a complete mistake of epic proportions) in the forums and like an idiot was seduced by the shiny. What was i doing on Ravelry, why wasn’t I knitting?!

Lately, there’s a project getting lots of press in the sunshine yarnies forum. I’ve seen it for weeks but wasn’t going to make it. There’s a ton of color work patterns out there I certainly didn’t need to buy one. But as I said, ooohhh shiny! So there I went, shopping and bought the Aranami shawl pattern.

In Japanese, Aranami means waves and that is what this pattern looks like. I think what captured me most about this design is the modular construction. You start with one motif and keep adding on and it grows. It definitely reminds me of the sock yarn blankie. but it’s very simple and you can really do anything when it comes to colors for this. So I was hooked and my pretty green Aloe kit was wound up and I started it! The pattern is super simple to remember and I can just pick up and go wherever without fear of losing place.

I still have not knit much this last week, but I’m making slow and steady progress. It seems like ages since I’ve finished anything. But I’ll keep on, keeping on. Heres hoping this will be complete before new york! And speaking of, I need to figure out a good project to take and knit in NYC. Socks? Shawl? Scarf?

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Life : End of an Era

For anyone that’s known me in the last few years, they should know about my favorite TV show, One Tree Hill. Recently they had the series finale. The show was on for nine seasons. So, yeah, a very long time. I can’t say I was there from the beginning. When the show originally aired I didn’t watch because this was before dvrs and there was conflict with another show.

Somewhere around season 2 or 3, soap.com decided to air from the beginning. I had cable and was able to catch up. I fell in love quickly. The storyline was great. Good writing, great characters and actors that fit so well. Plus there was a huge emphasis on music, and not just any music, but music that fit with me.

Over the years the seasons had their ups and downs, but I stayed faithful. And funny coincidence, Brian and I honeymooned at wrightsville beach, nc in 2002. And a year later OTH started filming there. We’ve been back several times and it’s fun to see the places on tv that we visited. One thing I had planned to do was a set visit. Our last trip there in Nov 2011 they were finishing filming. We saw Ads for a public auction of the shows sets and items that would take place a few weeks later. As much as I wanted to do the set tour, I was afraid it would ruin my illusion. I didn’t go.

Funnier still, these last few episodes showed various parts of the sets and sound stages as part of the storyline so I kind of had a set tour after all. I’m sad it’s over but it was definitely time. This is one show that felt so real. Emotions, happy and sad seemed so honest and true. I’ll miss the characters and the stories and the music. I would have liked a better ending, but it wasn’t bad.

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Food : first Poolish, part 1

Today, I decided to start my first try with a “starter” bread. In the past I’ve made that amish friendship bread, which is technically a starter bread, but I’ve never started my own. Poolish is also a term I hadn’t heard of before. Basically it’s just a pre-ferment.

And why would you want a pre-ferment? Well some types of bread need it, like sourdough for instance. This process gives the breads a different taste. It also creates those nice big bubbles in the dough.

I started this process today using the recipe from Jeffrey Hamelman’s book,
BREAD. He’s a master baker and instructor that I learned about in the workshop I went to last week. Since he’s the best, I’ll try it out. The dough I’m making is technically his baguette recipe however, we used it last week as a great all purpose dough. We made the grissini, focaccia and pizza dough from this same recipe. Our ciabatta was a much wetter dough. I may try a starter for that tomorrow.

So part one is the Poolish and this is what it looks like. Tomorrow, I will add the rest of the ingredients to the poolish and make the dough, which will need to rest and be shaped and rest again.

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Knitting : a little progress

So. I’ve made very little progress on knitting lately, but it is still progress. I know I say I’m busy all the time, what exactly fills up my days I can’t exactly say, but somehow, when I get home knitting is usually the last thing on my mind. Usually it’s just REST. I can’t wait to unwind. I change my clothes and get a little slouchy. Often I will pick up the knitting before starting dinner, but lately, not so much.

Anyway this post is about the gorgeousness of spectra. Several of the GK2 ladies are/were making it. It a fantastic pattern and fairly addictive as I’ve mentioned before, however, other random entities got in the way. So I’m still working and have vowed not to start anything new until this is done. So that’s the new plan. I’ll probably have to work out how many wedges I can make in a day and then commit to doing that and have an end date in mind. That it what is helping me finish things these days.

Recently Ann and Liz finished these fabulous fair isle vests which has me itching to do color work again. I was going to buy the same pattern they had, but it’s not really written for my size, so I thought, why not just find another similar pattern written in larger numbers. I can still use the great range of pallet colors offered by KP. I’ll just have to put my own colors together.

Oh and one last commandment, no new yarn until NYC. We are in the planning phases and leave in exactly 4 weeks from yesterday, how excited am I??? So, so very!!

I’ll hopefully be picblogging while we are there. I want to do as much as I can, take as many pictures as I can, but yet still relax. More to come!

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Food: Baking bread, what I thought I knew

Today, I took another class at Sur La Table. It was an “Italian Bread Workshop.” I LOVED it! I’ve made my own pizza dough, focaccia and other hand shape artisan breads for years. But today, I learned so much and I think and hope it will vastly improve what I was doing.

Now, I am a lazy bread maker. I use my bread machine because I love it. And because I don’t really know how to knead. I may throw the machine out after today! We shall see. 🙂 I always use the machine to mix the dough and after it’s ready, I do my hand shaping.

I learned so much about dough consistency, wetness, fermentation and yes kneading and shaping today. Our instructor advised us, that dough needs to be wet. This dough was wetter than any I’ve ever touched, yet it wasn’t too sticky. We used flour on the table surface and sprinkled the dough, but using the extra tools, made everything so much easier to work with.

I bought the 2 items below.

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The white plastic one is a very flexible, scraper and mixer. I used this to mix the dough we made and it was so much better than using a spoon! Next the metal scraper, is used to cut into pieces if needed or to move the dough around on your floured surface. Maybe at some point I can take a video of this technique. Basically the instructor dumped this huge tub of wet dough onto the floured surface. She then used this tool to move the dough around, gently folding and kneading as she went. The wet dough became this pliable, workable blob. It was a really neat transition.

Our instructor also gave us a recipe for a really great basic Italian dough. Today we used it to make Pizza, Focaccia and grissini. We also used a separate dough to make our own Ciabatta loaves.

While I was a little disappointed about the lack of hands on in yesterday’s class, today, MORE than made up for it. I brought home all kinds of nice treats to eat and I can’t wait to try more breads with the new techniques I learned! Below is what I made in class today. Delicious!

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Food: cooking class

Today I branched out and took a cooking lass at Sur La Table. It was enjoyable but a little lacking for my expectations. it’s billed as hands on, but there isn’t quite enough for every one to do everything, which does make sense. Anyway, the class was called Thomas Kellers American cooking. If you’re like me, I had no idea who Thomas Keller is. He has a Wiki though.

For the class, we made an iceberg wedge salad with homemade blue cheese dressing. It was delicious. Next was our main course, braised beef short ribs with mashed marble potatoes. For dessert apple fritters. We all did some chopping, listening and asked questions. It was nice and informative. Of course I realized that while I know how to cook well, you can always pick up new techniques or ideas.

So tonight I’m braising a pot roast instead of the way I normally cook it. Used a lot less liquid and I used some wine this time.

Knitting : Not much lately…

So, I’m determined not to let this blog languish, so while I don’t have pretty pictures or yarny goodness to share or even WIPS or FOs… I’m going to write anyway. 

Actually knitting has slowed down a lot for me these last 2 weeks or so.  I’ve been working on other projects in the house.  REAL work has been beyond busy, I have all these projects and meetings that I’m involved in and that leaves little time to actually do my core job.  The solution is overtime, however I’m salary and don’t get paid all that extra dough, so very often I don’t work over much.  I’m in the pattern of just getting more behind… knowing things will slow eventually and I’ll get caught up.  In the mean time though, this carries over into home life and when I GET home, play with my dogs, get dinner fixed, etc… I’m kind of too pooped to knit.  That in iteself is a little weird, since knitting can be a fairly relaxing experience as well as easy to do while seated.

But alas… little has happened, in fact yesterday… I did NOT knit a stitch.  I would say that’s the first time in quite awhile, but it’s actually been happening more frequently.  It’s ok, I haven’t lost my mojo or anything… I know by Thursday knit knite, I will be MORE than ready to get my knit on.  Thursdays are the best days.

I did acquire some new yarn recently too.  The Cookie A Sock Club yarn came… I LOVE it so much.  It’s not a color I would have actually chosen myself, however, that’s the great thing about the club, it helps you expand your horizons.  Anyway, it is Socktopus Yarns which is a new to me yarn and the color name is slipping my mind right now, but it’s great. 

I also participated in a Stephen King mini swap and those minis came the other day as well.  I haven’t had time to give them a good perusal but very soon.  Oh and since you asked, the Stephen King theme was to pick one of his many books or stories and share a yarn that you felt worked for that book.  I chose Salem’s Lot and used Vamp by Hazel Knits (it was in my stash).  At first I was going to do Bag of Bones because that’s the most recent thing I’ve read by him (while it was awhile ago), but I absolutely LOVE that story.  Then I remembered Vamp in stash, so I went with Salem’s Lot… which is another all time fave. 

Here’s my memory of my first time.  I actually saw Salem’s Lot the movie way before I ever read it.  I was 7 or 8 years old I think.  I was at my then BFF Tracy’s house.  We were stretched out on the floor in front of the TV GLUED to this show.  I remember being so scared because A the premise of the movie, dark and scary and B because it was something we probably shouldn’t have been watching.  But, our mom’s who were also BFFs were in the kitchen gabbing.  Anyway, later in teen years, I actually read the book.  So that was the swap.

Other recent stash enhancements are several color ways inspired by the Hunger Games book/movie from Sunshine Yarns, so far I have Peeta, Primrose, Hungergames and Mockinjay color ways.  I doubt I’ll buy any others… unless they really jump at me.  Also Dani recently released sets or kits of colors, I was able to get Aloe, which is in greens.  It’s the singly ply merino in fingering weight.  I really wanted the bloom set which was purples, but I got cart jacked when ordering.  I have a couple of ideas planned for this set though, so we’ll see what pops to the top of the queue first.

For new projects, I started the LIKE HONEY Cowl from Feministy.  She sent it free to those of us that finished the Bluberry Scowl in the Great Cowl KaL 2012.  If you finished all 5 in 50 days, the grand prize was special access to her new site.  This is a members only area and won’t be released to the public for some time.  We get access to additional patterns for free and other stuff.  I’ve not explored it yet, but plan to.

Ok, so for not doing any actual knitting, I still have a LOT to say about it!