Monster Knit Rally

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Mail Love

I love getting things in the mail. Today, I received the most wonderful box of goodies (pictured above), kindly preopened (and then resealed) for me by US customs. Thankfully, everything was still carefully and beautifully packaged when it got to me, and they didn't take any treats (that I could tell). The goodies came from my Swap-bot tea swap partner. It turns out my partner lives in Germany, so the tea and snacks she sent were all things I hadn't seen before. Neat! She also sent the most ladylike little tea cup and saucer, a neat tea tin (with yummy chocolates inside), and a beaded bookmark.
How could I resist? I immediately made a pot of tea for Mr. Cool and I, and we sampled all of the snacks. I served the snacks on one of the tea themed napkins my partner sent - how thoughtful! I loved all of it, swap buddy, thank you so much!
My other tea swap partner, the one I sent this to, graciously sent me a wonderfully packaged thank you note, and a few bags of tea! She didn't have to, but it was much appreciated! By the way, the baked goodies I sent to my partner were mandel bread, but I didn't want to give it away, since I was sending some to my parents too. Perhaps I'll post the recipe soon, which is from my grandmother.
I also received a package of assorted wonderfulness on Tuesday. Look at it all! There are batik fabric squares, banana nut muffin mix, a lovely lavender soap, assorted buttons, spiced cider mix, the usual notes and clippings, Nori Maki crackers (already half eaten, and I had to restrain myself so as not to eat them all at once - why do I love seaweed so much?), and my favorite - the tea towels! I want to use them in my kitchen, but I am also tempted to make an apron out of one or more of them.

If this package were from someone other than my mom, I would probably call it a swap package, but since it is from my mom, I think it has to be called a care package. Thanks so much mom! Everything in it was perfect and just the pick-me-up I needed this week.

Also, speaking of mail and packages, I have decided not to participate in any more Swap-bot swap for a while. Instead, I'll be participating in Secret Pal 9! I'm quite excited. If you're interested, hurry over and sign up, the deadline is September 30.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Recipe: Broiled Chicken with Lemon and Balsamic Vinegar

This recipe is from The Minimalist Cooks Dinner by Mark Bittman, a cookbook I currently have out of the library. I'd read and enjoyed his column in the New York Times before and tried one of his recipes (Pasta Puttanesca), so I had high expectations for the book, and it has definitely delivered. Last week I made his Roast Fish with Crisp Potatoes, Olives and Bay Leaves, which was a bit heavy on the oil for my taste, but absolutely delicious. This recipe is actually titled Broiled Cornish Hens with Lemon and Balsamic Vinegar, but he says you can use chicken instead of Cornish Hens, which I did. I made couscous with toasted pine nuts (from a box) and a tasty salad to go along with it.

This dinner was voted "Best Meal in Flagstaff," by Mr. Cool.

Broiled Chicken with Lemon and Balsamic Vinegar
chicken - I used 6 thighs, with skin and bones
salt and pepper
2 lemons, very thinly sliced
balsamic vinegar
minced garlic (he says optional, I say not)
chopped parsley for garnish (which I did not use)

Set your oven to broil and put the rack close to the heat source.

Lay the chicken pieces in a pan, skin side down, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cover each one with lemon slices. Broil for 15 minutes, or until lemons appear browned and the chicken looks cooked on that side.

Remove from oven, flip chicken pieces over, and sprinkle with salt and pepper on the other side. Broil for another 10 minutes, then remove from oven.

Smear some minced garlic on top of each piece of chicken and cover with lemon slices. Broil for 5 minutes more. Check that chicken is cooked and lemons are browned, if not, broil for a bit longer.

Remove from oven, drizzle with balsamic vinegar, and serve with couscous (or another grain).

Sweet and Tangy Salad
Salad greens of your choice, I prefer mixed baby greens or mesclun mix
Chopped tomato
Pomegranate seeds
Olive oil
Vinegar - something light, I use rice vinegar

Combine the ingredients in a bowl and drizzle with the olive oil and vinegar.

The sorrel and watercress in my salad were foraged on a hike this weekend, but you can sometimes find them at the grocery store or natural food store. Asian markets are also a good place to find watercress. The tomato and pomegranate are from the local farmer's market. I might skip the tomato if I couldn't find a good one.

Bon appetit!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Knitting away

I finished this hat yesterday, commissioned by someone I work with. He wanted something pretty simple in design, with an interesting yarn to add a little depth to it. I think this fits the bill, and I hope he likes it! (In the photo, this hat is displayed on a glass jar; when it is on someone's head it looks more round, and the brim doesn't roll up quite as much.)
My scribble lace scarf (based on the pattern in Mason Dixon Knitting) is done. Because it's so lacy, I was concerned about how the ends would look woven in, so I consulted my knitting group, and someone suggested sewing the ends in, which is what I ended up doing. I'm quite pleased with how it came out, and I think I will be wearing it to Rhinebeck. I'm intrigued by how different scribble lace can look depending on the yarns and needles used.

I just finished these wristwarmers for a swap I'm participating in. They're made from Patons SWS (a self-striping wool and soy blend) which I really like. It is so soft and feels nice to knit with. My only complaint is that it is a tad loosely spun, which means it splits more easily than I'd prefer. I made some minor changes to the pattern (on even rows, I purled 7 at the beginning of the row and purled 8 at the end of the row, which is the opposite of what the pattern instructs), and it would have been great if the gauge was listed. Other than that, I really liked the pattern, and thought it worked very well with the yarn. I see more of these in my future.
Another pair of wristwarmers (promised to a friend over a year ago I think) that are not as done as they look in the photo. The first time I made them, one was significantly larger than the other (can you tell?), so I ripped it out and started again. A few rows from the end, I realized I counted wrong and I need to rip it and start over again. Arg. At least they knit up quickly.

Also in progress (still): a mesh produce bag, commissioned armwarmers, and a big, cozy blanket which I anticipate taking several years to finish.

Up next: a sweater from Weekend Knitting, more spinning, and getting started on holiday gifts.

Friday, September 15, 2006

WIP Friday

One of the aforementioned commissioned projects - a very simple hat in a lovely variegated wool.

Assorted teas and some homebaked goodies almost ready to go off to my Tea swap partner.

At knitting group this Wednesday, we tried knitting with some unconvential materials. Pictured here is some knitting done with a tortilla chip bag (sliced in rings and looped together into a strand first) and a ball of tulle strips. I think you will see more of these in the future.

What non-yarn materials have you knitted with?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Corners of my home

A little corner of my bedroom.

More corners here.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Last night some of the women in my knitting group got together for a spinning night. It was so neat. I own and have used a drop spindle (which hangs in the air as you spin it), but I also got to try spinning on a Navajo spindle (which rests on the floor as you spin it against your leg) and a spinning wheel. They all take some getting used to, but I really liked the Navajo spindle and the woman who brought it kindly lent me one (she has a few) for a couple of weeks (pictured to the right). I am excited to use it more! My goal is to spin up as much of my stash of not-so-nice fiber as possible before the Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool Festival. Then I can get some really nice fiber there.

A few spinning related links I've been enjoying:
If You Would Love to Spin a Dream - spinning blog
RowanTree Woolery - lovely roving for sale
Misshawklet - beautiful handspun yarn and fiber
Cosymakes Flickr Spinning Stuff set - and her other photo sets as well

P.S. I just made the patchwork pillow in the photo this weekend.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Etsy shop update!

I've added some knitted ribbon bracelets to my Etsy shop, so head on over and check them out (there are a couple more not pictured above). They are my own pattern and I'm so enamoured with them that I'm rather tempted to keep them for myself. What do you think of them? Are there other items you'd like to see in the shop?

Rainy Sunday

It was quite sunny this morning when I went to the farmer's market, but now that I want to take some photos, its pouring outside. The photo is from a lovely drive we took yesterday.

I made some progress on my Crafty To Do list; today I finished mending three shirts, hemmed a pair of pants, and made a patchwork pillow (decided one of the bags was better suited as a pillow). I actually ironed before sewing, which I am usually too lazy to do, and everything went so much more smoothly, it was amazing. I now love my iron and ironing board.

I also made some chicken salad today from leftover baked chicken, which turned out quite delicious. Here is my recipe:

chicken, diced
mayo, plenty
diced apple (I used about 1/3 apple for 2 large chicken breasts)
diced olives (just a few)

Mix it all together and adjust ingredient proportions to taste. This would taste really good on some fresh sourdough bread. Alas, we only had white, but it was still yummy.

We've also been working on finishing off some Vanilla Buttercream Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting that I made earlier this week. They are so unhealthy (3 sticks of butter!?) but oh so good.

I'm looking for a specific chocolate cupcake recipe. They are vegan, very moist, and have a liquid, almost ganache-like center. Has anyone seen a recipe for something like this?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

My crafting To Do list

  • Weave in ends on scribble lace shawl
  • Knit 2nd wristwarmer
  • Finish knitting mesh produce bag
  • Rip out and start again on felted market bag
  • Get to work on two commissioned knitted pieces
  • Sew up my shrug a little more so it stays on better
  • Knit wristwarmers for swap
  • Upload new items to my Etsy shop
  • More spinning
  • Then try some Kool-Aid dyeing
  • Mend holes in 3 shirts, couch cover
  • Hem pants
  • Lengthen pants
  • Alter bras
  • Sew 4 patchwork bags - 2 of my own design (already started), and 2 like these
  • Sew a pincushion for this challenge
  • Sew a monster mascot for my Etsy shop
  • Clean and oil my sewing machine (I have no idea how to do this)
  • Do more doodling, drawing, writing, scribbling, collaging
  • Make a linoleum block print and some stamps
  • Make a coiled yarn basket (now where did I see instructions for that recently?)
I'm sure there's more, but this is overwhelming enough. Anyone care to share their list?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Swappy goodness

Look what arrived in the mail a few days ago:
It's my package from my Bottle Swap partner! I forgot to take a picture of the one I sent, but my partner did receive it, and sent me a lovely note.
The bottle I received contained so much stuff. Some of my favorite items in it: paper twist (just what I needed for a project I've been meaning to try), embroidery thread, craft felt with a decorative edge, and a variety of neat little gift tags.

I also participated in a sticker swap recently, and am signed up for a tea swap and a wristwarmer swap that are coming up. I'm trying to be selective about the swaps I participate in since I'm on a budget, and I also think there are some things it is better to just buy myself rather than hope my swap partner will magically know exactly what I like.

This weekend consisted of plenty of lazing about, interspersed with doing laundry, cooking, playing Scrabble, baking, mending clothes, spinning, going to the Farmer's Market and knitting. I have been doing quite a bit of knitting, and I'll have some FOs to post soon!

Saturday, September 02, 2006


Dinner tonight:

I used the Focaccia recipe from the Sundays at Moosewood cookbook for the dough. The top one is just has sauce, seasonings and mozzarella on it. For the second one I added spinach, black olives and anchovies. I made enough to have leftovers for tomorrow too!