Monday, July 26, 2010

Red Gaenor

Here's something I've had off the needles for quite some time but only recently had time (and the proper weather) to block.  It's a little shawlette; the pattern is called Gaenor and the yarn is Aspen Sock by Red Rocks Fiber Works.  The yarn is fantastic - the colors are gorgeous and it's sproingy and delicious as only yarn can be.

Along with mittens, shawlettes are my knitting love du jour, because they're more interesting than scarves and yet can be worn in the same way, wrapped around the neck.  My Ravelry queue is full of them.

The other thing I've been doing lately is tinkering with my blog design a little bit.  Since I'm a graphic designer, you'd think I'd be busily designing myself a beautiful website, but it's one of those cobbler's children things...designing for myself is the last thing I ever feel like doing, so instead I've updated to the latest version of Blogger and it's driving me crazy.  In the process, it lost the link to Google Analytics (took me several days to figure that one out) and while I appreciate the pushbutton nature of Blogger, I'm starting to think about alternatives.  If you all have a recommendation, let me know.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Rainbow Fiddlehead Mittens 1

In preparation for the girls' departure for Boulder, I'm knitting mittens as fast as I can.  I love mittens.  They're fun to knit, completely portable, and I can indulge my love of wild colors without ending up looking like a clown hooker.

These are Fiddleheads in gray Ultra Alpaca and Noro Kureyon; I'm knitting them tip-to-cuff on two circular needles.  I cast on yesterday afternoon and I just popped that sore thumb onto the first one so I'm on fire, baby.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Pie, Pie, Pie

Peach Pie

As promised, today we're talking about pie.  Earlier this week I read about this life-changing crust method over at Chez Pim and had to give it a try.  Pie crust is one of those things for's touchy.  I can make perfect crust one day and the very same recipe will flop the next time I try it.  I know, I know - it all depends on the humidity, the temperature of the water/the butter/your hands/your kitchen, the earth's position with respect to various far-flung stars, whatever.  The point is, it's not to be trusted.

Blueberry Pie

Enter this completely heretical recipe (Yes, I'm still watching The Tudors.) calling for salted butter and manhandling of the dough.  Since I often inadvertently manhandle the dough anyway, I figured I'd try it.  Less than a week and two pies and a quiche later, I'm sold.  I love it.  It's easy to work with, it's flaky, it's buttery, it crisps nicely on the bottom, and it worked all three times in a row.  I don't want to jinx it, but I think this is now my go-to crust for pies both savory and sweet.

Bacon & Egg Quiche

Blueberry Pie

5 cups fresh blueberries
3/4 cup sugar (1 cup if the berries are on the tart side)
5 T cornstarch
1 t cinnamon
1 T unsalted butter
splash of lemon juice

One beaten egg for washing the crust if you want, and some raw sugar if you'd like to sprinkle that on the crust as well.

Crust for double-crust pie

Preheat oven to 425F and line a deep-dish pie mold with bottom crust, pricking a few times with a fork.  

Make sure berries don't have twiggy bits and put them in a largish bowl.  Whisk together dry ingredients and add them to the berries, turning over gently with a spatula to coat.  Add a a teeny splash of lemon juice as you turn them over.

Pour the berry mixture into the prepared bottom crust and top with a lattice crust, or just slap the top crust on and cut a few vents in it.  Crimp the edges and brush with the egg wash to give it some shine; you can sprinkle some raw sugar on it too as I did with the peach pie above.  

Bake for approximately 50 minutes, until the crust is brown and the berries have thickened.  If the berries still look liquidy when your crust is brown, top the pie loosely with aluminum foil and bake for a bit longer. The berries will be bubbling and thick when the pie is done.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Don't Lose Your Head Over Mittens

I apologize in advance to all of you who froze through an unforgiving winter and are now sweltering through a humid, boggy summer and are reading this in disbelief at the temerity I'm about to exhibit, but I must now complain about the weather. Today is July 21 and I am in long sleeves, staring out the window at yet another gray and somewhat drizzly day in La Jolla - another in the long string of gray and drizzly days we've experienced since early June. Last week the sun came out for two days and people danced in the streets, only to be disappointed and resigned in their aspect when our 48-hour summer slammed to a foggy close.

It's been so chilly (don't laugh - our blood is thin, people!) I've been baking pies all week (more on that tomorrow) and today I'm seriously considering lighting the fireplace. It's been so chilly I've actually been knitting heavy woolen things and been grateful for their warm weight in my lap. It's been so chilly I think the girls are looking forward to leaving for Colorado to warm up.

These mittens are last week's project, in colors inspired by season one of The Tudors, which I've been watching on Netflix (and which, by the way, I found somewhat slow for the first few episodes and then wham! people started dropping like flies and Henry started looking really scary and now I can't stop watching...the betrayals! The beheadings! I'm a little disturbed imagining the personal hygiene issues they must've encountered, too.). They're from  Magnificent Mittens and I knit them up in some soft and warm Ultra Alpaca for Fiona to take to Boulder with her.  I love the patterns in this book and I'm already planning a few more pairs; I'm also planning to use the "toe-up" technique on other mittens as often as possible, because I really like the custom fit you can achieve this way. 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

From Your Wayward Blogger

Here we are, Mr. & Mrs. Windansea and Daughters

In case you were wondering where I've been for several months, I've been right here, but with so many family obligations and other complications that I haven't been able to sit down and write. Since last we spoke:

Senior Recognition for National Charity League, May 2010

  • My mother fell and broke a vertebra (she's better from that now, thanks)
  • Anna graduated, was presented at National Charity League, and subsequently double-pierced her ears and streaked her hair blue
  • Mary graduated from 6th grade
  • I gained ten pounds from all the celebrations and lack of time at the gym (but not to worry, I'm peeling those off one sun salutation at a time and will be back to fighting weight soon)

I remember when blue hair meant you were elderly....

Now we're dealing with something else altogether. In life, there are ups and downs, and thank goodness things in my life tend to balance out - when something goes to hell in a handbasket, something else is usually doing pretty well. Right now, I'm very happy that both my older daughters will be at the same college next year. Anna is going to CU Boulder as a Fine Art major, and Fiona has transferred there from Bennington because she changed her major to geology, and it just made more sense. I love Boulder, so I'm really happy I'll get to visit them in such a great place with the added bonus of a short, direct flight. And they'll have breaks at the same time - it's a miracle!

The handbasket contains my mom's health. This week we received a confirmed diagnosis of lymphoma, and she will be starting chemo in a few days. They think it's one of the indolent kinds of NHL that may have been laying low for quite a while, but it's now reared its ugly head and is causing all kinds of problems. She's 88 but she's in pretty good shape so we're very encouraged by the prognosis, but still. Cancer sucks.

My mom with Fiona, May 2010. We all hope to look this good at 88!

I've bowed out of several of my community obligations to make room in the schedule for my mom's treatment, and this last week I went through a lot of my yarn and knitting projects to get everything organized for the waiting rooms. I've got all sorts of stuff to photograph for you, so stay tuned for that.

As always, thanks for the well wishes, my internet friends. I know you're out there, and I appreciate you all.