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Archive for September, 2008

I have a deep hatred of plastic bags. I’ve recently exiled plastic bags (like the ones they give you at chain grocery stores or Target) from my life for a couple reasons. More often than not, they get thrown away. Those that don’t end up in the ocean — where they ensnare marine life or entice seals to eat them — end up in landfills, where they will never ever break down. Even if they get successfully recycled, the problem with plastics is that they only recycle down; plastics get recycled into less-good plastics, creating a spiral into a product that is ultimately unrecyclable. Down with plastic!

OK, sorry, I can get a little carried away. So! Lots of people and places are perking up to the fact that plastic bags are evil. You can only imagine my excitement when, perusing Mason-Dixon Knitting (one of my favorite knitting blogs), I came across the (totally free!) Monteagle Bag pattern from their new book (which I am so trying to find this weekend).

And I was so excited that I knit my own in about two days!

In an effort to reduce-reuse-recycle, I dove into my stash and came up with some Sugar and Cream cotton yarn that looked just funky enough for this macrame-style bag. I figured, “If I’m focused on reducing my consumption of plastic bags by knitting the bag, I should further reduce my consumption (of yarn) by using something I already have.” Hooray for conserving… and having a new bag to use instead of plastic bags!

The pattern knit up great. It was a bit of a challenge, and I consider myself a more-than-decent knitter. Very few issues though, just needed to read the pattern carefully and trust it. The horizontal stitch is totally the most fun part of the pattern, but lassoing my needles for the long stitches was pretty fun too. I did find that the longer wrapped stitches needed some coaxing to unravel. Maybe it was the cotton? I guess I’ll get to see when I knit a linen version…

My only change, as evidenced above, was to give it a longer strap. Most of my food shopping is done at the farmers’ market, and I need room in a bag for beet greens to stick out!

Let’s see that horizontal stitch up close and personal:

I foresee making a few of these for people I know. I think one of these with some embroidered tea towels inside would be a great gift to encourage someone towards eco-friendliness… a cute bag to take to the store, plus a way to curb paper towel usage. Awesome!

Can’t wait to take this to the farmers’ market next week!

…and that IS bell hooks’ Teaching to Transgress in the bag… if any of you were wondering…

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Thought some of you out in blog land might be interested in other shots from my photo shoot. Knitting with carrots is no easy task! I do think, though, that I ought to make knitting with various veggies a regular installment on this blog. Yes?

Let me tell you, this is not at all my natural hand position when I knit. I do throw with the right hand, but that’s about the only similarity. I always feel so graceful when I knit… apparently I’m misguided!

Maybe I’ll try knitting with celery next time? Beets wouldn’t be easy, but sure would look pretty.

There are some pretty giant fish in that pond. They weren’t too keen on carrot greens, unfortunately. They did seem interested in my yarn, though…

And just for fun:

Shot of the cute boyfriend in the wild, gathering sequoia seeds to grow into trees, while waiting for me to re-knit my swatch with a better purple yarn.

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For the first time in a long time, I’ve finished a complete pair of socks.

These are totally going to be the socks I wear almost daily for a while, and probably with the shoes you see pictured here, too*. Don’t they look great together?

I bought this yarn while I was on vacation in New York, at Purl Soho. It’s Koigu KPPPM, color is 805 (I think), and the pattern is Anastasia.

When choosing a pattern, I wanted something that would showcase all the colors of the Koigu — the gorgeous mix of intense purple, lavender, black, and grey that I just had to have. I chose Anastasia because it would keep me interested and add some visual interest to the socks without obscuring the colors (or the colors obscuring the pattern). I chose to make the socks symmetrical, with yo k2tog on one side and yo ssk on the other. I love how the above picture shows their symmetry!

I knit these socks using the Magic Loop method on size 1 Addi Turbos. I have been choosing this method more lately because I don’t have to worry about stitches falling off my dpns or snapping them in two by accident. I love using the Addis because I can be finicky about the way metal sounds when it slides against itself, and these are lovely and smooth.

Another thing I love about this pattern is how one spiral gets to swoop near the heel before winding around the leg. There’s something very elegant and graceful about it and the way the yo’s open up more on the inside of my ankle. And check out that short row heel! I’ve been getting a lot better — the secret is just to pull a little tighter than you think you need to when you’re wrapping, and on the stitch after the wrap.

Perfect socks to start Autumn with, don’t you think?

*These are my lovely red Earth Vegan shoes. I love that they’re totally vegetarian and are shoes that look really cute with knit socks. They have a low heel in the back, too, so I can show off my worksmanship! A little more than I might justify spending normally on shoes, but they’ve been around for years and I love them.

ETA: It appears Earth doesn’t sell these shoes anymore, but I have a pair of their black Mary Janes that show off my knit socks well, also. Great company for shoes to wear with handknit socks!

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Worked the farmers’ market again with much success — but this time for cash instead of produce. So, no insane amounts of tomatoes this week, which is a convenient but much less tasty thing.

A friend of mine has an insane apple tree in her front yard and we’ve had a few apple-preserving sessions. We made some applesauce and crisps and pies, and I still have a few left over.

This picture was taken after washing, before our last pie-making session. I don’t have quite that many left right now, but I still have a giant bowl full of them. I’ll probably make applesauce with them, as I’m running out of space in the freezer that’s not really mine.

When I got back from the market dead tired this afternoon — my alarm failed to go off which resulted in me being “late” at, oh, 6:45 in the morning — I was hungry (another result of rushing out the door). I’ve got lots of squash to make and a few other things, but I wanted something simple and tasty. My UCSC CSA cookbook came to the rescue! I just purchased their other cookbook yesterday at the plant sale (I own one already and loved it so much I decided I needed its older sibling). In the first few pages of the cookbook is a recipe for “Quick Sauteed Apples,” which was just the ticket this afternoon.

I didn’t make this up myself, but the recipe is so simple I feel okay about re-posting it here. I mean, really, you just take some apples, core them and slice them up about 1/4″ thick. I left skins on for added nutritional value. Heat some butter or margarine in a pan (I used Earth Balance which is an incredible vegan alternative to butter), and add some brown sugar. Again, I used two small-ish apples, so I added 1 Tbsp each of margarine and sugar. Toss in the apples and saute over medium-ish heat for 5-10 minutes. Add some cinnamon at the end, and your kitchen smells divine.

I’d say it made enough for 1-3 people, depending on how much you like apples. I ate them as is and they were mighty tasty — kind of like apple pie but without, you know, the pie part. I bet they’d taste great with some oatmeal (real, steel-cut oatmeal, that is), and the cookbook recommends them over some ice cream. An incredibly satisfying breakfast.

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Noro Striped Scarf

Knitting content! As promised.

I recently completed a striped Noro scarf (brought to my attention in brooklyntweed’s blog), made out of a total of four skeins of Noro Silk Garden. I’ve always loved Noro colors, and this scarf didn’t let me down.

I was so happy to get a sunny day so I could get a decent shot of the delicious Noro colors! I love how the Morning Glory colors pick up on my favorite parts of the scarf. Colorways were two of the purple-ish color, one of the green-ish color, and one multi + brown color. (Sorry. Ballbands be damned.)

My favorite section:

I love patterns that let the beauty of Noro colors shine through and do their thing — I found myself questioning murky sections but kept going, and I think they let the brighter sections shine.

Yarn: Noro Silk Garden, 4 skeins
Gauge: Something squishy, on size 7 needles
Modifications: Nah. Straightforward and lovely.

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A few days ago I attempted to make my way through my plethora of tomatoes by making a roasted tomato soup. I’m happy to report it was a success.

Evidence (and timeline) follows:

(Sorry for the blurriness — it’s not easy to take an oven picture!) About twenty minutes after this shot, the house started to smell incredible. It only got better… but there was still much waiting to be had! Notice the great color of the onions I had from the farm stand…

Three hours later, the tomatoes were roasted and squishy:

From there, they went into the food processor with some stale bread, with some veggie broth added and came out looking like… well…

I was so excited to eat the soup that I didn’t document the post-process state. I do, however, have this to show how much was left after four people attacked the soup:

It was tasty, to say the least. The goodness of dry-farmed, organic, seasonal tomatoes cannot be overstated. I had some of what was left on pasta. My mouth is watering just thinking about it…

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I worked my first farmers’ market this weekend, helping out at the booth of a local organic farm known for their incredible dry-farmed tomatoes. It was great to give out samples (essentially enticing customers in, because apparently I am, as my co-worker put it, “more attractive than the two of them”) and see people’s reactions. I saw a lot of, “Oh, tomatoes, cool, okay… [insert taste here] Oh, wow. Those are really good. Honey you have to try some of these…”

What makes these tomatoes special is the way that they’re grown. They’re cultivated in soil that has a lot of clay, and this allows it to retain a lot of water. The tomatoes are never (or very infrequently) irrigated — so their water is drawn up from what’s already stored in the soil, bringing up a lot of minerals in the process. And voila — incredible tomato-y flavor. I don’t even like tomatoes that much and I love these guys!

Since it was my first shift, I was paid in produce. A pretty good deal if you ask me. I came back with three giant Italian torpedo onions, three purple bell peppers, a bunch of green beans, two heads of cabbage… and about 12 pounds of these incredible tomatoes. Now, however, I face the dilemma of dealing with said tomatoes.

Witness:

I decided to make a tomato-heavy soup that would also utilize the onions I received: this recipe from Alexandra Cooks (a blog I read regularly for food inspiration). It smells delicious only twenty minutes in… but look how many tomatoes I still have left:

If nothing else, I’ll be drying them, but I’ll probably be eating lots of caprese and trying this as well (tomato pesto pie… sign me up!). I guess this really will be the summer I learn to love tomatoes…

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