Monster Knit Rally

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Sew? I Knit!

I finished my project for Sew? I Knit just under the wire. I made a pouch from this book, Made for Travel by Mary Mulari, which I got from the library. This book has good instructions, a few really cute projects, some other decent ideas that could be modified to be really cute, and definitely a fair share of tacky projects.
I did all the sewing by hand, since my machine is in storage about 3,000 miles away.
The fabric, zipper and ribbon for the zipper pull were all things I had on hand. The only thing I bought was iron-on interfacing to make the fabric a little more sturdy. I'd never used interfacing before, but it turned out to be very easy to use, and increased the weight of the fabric the perfect amount. Overall, I really like the way it turned out, though I think my sewing skills could use a little work. I'm excited I got a chance to use the zipper, I have a small bag of them I got at the thrift store. (If anyone has the perfect project for some lime green 7" or 9" zippers, let me know, and I'd send a couple your way).

I hate to be so trendy, but I think my next sewing project may be a softie. I always admire them on other folks blogs, but what would I do with one (or many)? But a friend saw Monsieur Perkins and wanted to commission me to make a stuffed animal for a friend of hers. I was thinking of how much I would have to charge someone to even remotely make up for the amount of time I put into making something like that, and it occurred to me that using fabric (instead of knitting the fabric myself) would be immensely faster. We'll see if I still think that once I start cutting up fabric.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Recipe: Yellow Rice & Black Beans

Yum. Black beans simmering away on the stove.
This recipe is very simple, and you can keep most of the ingredients on hand. The recipe actually came from an old housemate of mine whose cooking I definitely miss (like her delicious vegan biscuits and gravy).

What you'll need:
1 pkg yellow rice (I use Mahatma brand Saffron Yellow Rice), or white rice and Goya Sazon seasoning packet
water for rice
1 or 2 plum tomatoes
2 14-oz. cans black beans (or 1 28-oz. can) with about 1/2 the liquid drained off
vinegar (cider or white)
2 limes
vegetable oil
avocado (optional, but highly recommended)

1. Put up the water for the rice, and put rice in as soon as it starts boiling
2. Chop onion and garlic, and saute in a bit of vegetable oil, stirring occasionally so the garlic doesn't burn.
3. Chop tomatoes finely and set aside.
4. Add black beans to onions and garlic once onions have become translucent.
5. Slice avocado thinly and set aside.
6. Add vinegar and the juice of one lime to the black beans, stirring occasionally.
7. Cut the rest of the lime into slivers and set aside for garnish.
8. Once the rice is done, add the tomatoes to it and fluff/stir with a fork.
9. Serve with the black bean mixture on top of the rice and avocado and lime slices on the side. Enjoy!

This recipe makes about 2 large servings as an entree. If you are using it as a side dish instead of a meal, it would probably make 4 servings.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Retail therapy?

I've been seeing a lot of mentions of retail therapy in the blogosphere recently. I must say I'm not crazy about the concept of retail therapy... to me it's often too focused on consumption for its own sake, and I think that can get out of control. However, sometimes I feel a little left out and want cute and fun new things too. I do try to only buy things I will use and balance it out by getting rid of things I'm no longer using.

I recently helped a friend clean out her closet - and in exchange got a few cute things, but not necessarily what I could most use for the upcoming months. So I went to the thrift store to fill in the gaps a bit. I try to keep a running list of things I want or need for around the house, projects, etc. Two of the things on my list that I scored this time were a Scrabble set (with all the pieces!) and a tray to put under my humidifier (since it sometimes leaks). I also got 4 summery tops, a pair of nice soft cotton pajama pants, a pair of hang out/climbing pants, and 2 pairs of short pants (Yes, I know they're called capris or clamdiggers or various other names depending on length. But since I'm short, they're never really the length they're intended to be, and they generally look like slightly too short pants on me. But they're comfy, so I wear them.)

But back to the retail therapy thing... what's your take? Do you do it and if so, how frequently? With guilt or glee? Can you afford it? Do you have the space? Does it match your politics? Do you justify it in certain ways? What other things do you/might you substitute for retail therapy that would have a similar effect/feeling?

Questions for myself, I guess, but if you'd like to share any of your answers, I'd love to hear.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Excitement by mail

I just got the most lovely package in the mail yesterday from my mom!

Yes, there is delicious dark chocolate and gorgeous Manos Del Uruguay yarn in the same package. The package also included some cute mini office supplies, a mini puzzle, a lizard stamp and stamp pad, and a neat mesh zippered pouch. Thanks, mom. I'm still working on your package, but it should be on its way soon!

The question is - what do I make with the yarn? I love making hats, but I want to keep this yarn for myself, and I already have more than enough hats and scarves for myself. I am looking for a wearable few skein project that I could use a more muted and moderately priced yarn as a base and the Manos as a highlight. I've been looking at patterns for capelets, shrugs, vests, etc, but haven't found a pattern I like that would do this yarn justice. Anyone else have trouble finding suitable uses for that one skein of super-special yarn? Anyone have ideas or pattern suggestions? If I don't find something I like, I'm thinking I might try my hand at a pattern for a short-sleeved cardigan in a solid, with a band of Manos at the bottom, or something along those lines. What do you think?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

And a finished object!

This is Monsieur Perkins. He is from the book Handknits for Kids (the pattern is called Monsieur Cat, but we renamed him). I fell in love with this pattern, and not having any kids to make it for, decided that Mr. Cool would be getting an Easter basket with this cat and some chocolate, as you can see above (some of the chocolate is already missing of course). Monsieur Perkins also graciously took the time to pose with my breakfast of peach tea and chocolate cake with a vanilla pudding layer and chocolate frosting.

WIP report

Since I still have not finished the sweater, you may wonder what I've been up to. Well, I've been knitting to warm Mongolia mostly. Here is the kid's scarf I'm currently working on. I have plans for a hat or two, and a pair of mittens.

Recipe: Avo-Bean Glop

Sorry for the long delay between posts. Perhaps I'll post again today to make up for it.

Avo-Bean Glop

I call it glop since it’s not the most attractive dish, but once you taste it, you’ll forget all about the appearance. This recipe is from my mom, though I think I may have modified it a little. It is so quick and easy to make, and is an excellent snack or even a light meal.

1/2 can aduki beans (I find these at my local natural food store. If you can’t find them, you can substitute black beans)
1/3 jar salsa
1 avocado
Juice of 1/4 to 1/2 lime
Salt and pepper to taste
Garlic powder (optional)
Tortilla Chips

Cut the avocado in half. I like to mash half and chop the other half for more texture, though you could mash or chop the whole thing based on your preference. Combine the avocado with the rest of the ingredients, stir, and serve with tortilla chips. (Though I have been known to eat it by the spoonful.) I can devour an entire batch myself at times, but it is a reasonable amount for 2-3 people.

Saturday, April 01, 2006


Thanks so much to everyone who has commented on my blog. Especially since I'm fairly new to this, I love getting feedback on my projects, and hearing about yours. My comments are moderated, since I do get spam comments sometimes, but I should be checking them and publishing them much more frequently from now on.

Please keep in mind that if you post as anonymous, the only way for me to respond is either in my blog itself, or to leave a comment in return... so if you want a response, those would be the places to watch.

Flashing My Stash

OK, here we go.Here is the majority of my stash, laid out on the couch. It normally lives in a cardboard box in the corner next to the couch, with my WIPs in a basket next to it. The sweater hanging on the back of the couch was thrifted specifically to unravel and reclaim the yarn.

Starting from the left, these are my oddballs - anything less than a skein. Unlike some folks, I do use these, particularly for hats. I really love mixing yarns. The project in front is supposed to be an armwarmer, but I made it up as I went and forgot to write it down, so doing a second one would be a big pain. I haven't decided yet whether to rip it out or press forward with the project.

This center section of yarn is all 1-2 skeins. Some of these are leftover from other projects, some I bought for a specific project (like armwarmers or a hat) and some I just bought a single skein because I liked it. The project on the front left was just a swatch. I've now made one garter stitch wristwarmer with that yarn and have started what will become either a belt or a headband, instead of starting the second wristwarmer.
Close up of a few of the nicer yarns from the previous picture. L to R: a hand-spun yarn I bought at a farmer's market in Brooklyn (promised long ago to become wristwarmers for a friend), Mountain Colors Mohair Loop in Huckleberry, Plymouth Baby Alpaca Grande (slated to become a hat), and some recycled silk sari yarn left over from the shawl I made my mom for Chanukah.
And this is my Lion Brand stash. Hanging on the back of the couch is, appropriately enough, the shawl my mom made me for Chanukah out of Lion Brand homespun. The pile on the left is Lion Chenille "Thick & Quick," generously given to me by D from my knitting group, because she had it leftover from holiday projects and she'd seen me use it on a couple of projects. Not sure yet what I'm going to do with it.

The pile on the right is all Lion Homespun, destined to become part of a big cozy multicolor afghan (which I am only a few inches into, as you can see directly in front of the pile).

OUTCOME: It was good to lay out my yarn to see exactly what I have. However, most of what I have is only good for small projects, and a lot of it is acrylic or acrylic blend. Both of these are more a matter of budget and space constraints than my yarn taste. I think my challenge for the next few months is to adapt or create some patterns for larger projects that can use a cheaper yarn for the base, but showcase one or two skeins of really nice yarn.

P.S. There are a few more skeins of yarn I aqcuired since these photos were taken, but Flickr is moving very slowly right now, so I will post them later.