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Posts from the ‘Knitting’ Category

Do the right thing.

After giving back the original Snowmates for Her to Caro & Stitchy last year for the Knitting It Old School trunk show, I was itching to cast on for one of my very own.

Back in February at SPA I cast on, and made decent progress, churning out the entire yoke over the course of the weekend.

(insert a couple of months focusing on work and other projects – you’ve all been there)

And after a concerted effort for two weeks in July, I knocked out the rest of the sweater, down to the hem.  I just wanted to block it out before binding off to make sure the colorwork tension wasn’t wonky.

And here is what I cut off the bottom after trying on the blocked sweater and realizing my torso is much longer and straighter than the hip increases as written for my size.

(Of course, people with my chest circumference are often much shorter than I.  It makes perfect sense that the hips as written would not be where MY hips are.)

I’m re-knitting from the waist down for the THIRD time now, and it is at this point that I have to constantly remind myself that all the effort is worth it for a sweater that will fit me perfectly, that I know I will love for years.  And I’m grateful that I can, because with a top-down raglan, you can always just try on as you go.  Really, I am, and I keep telling myself that, because I kind of want to throw it in the corner right now, and play with the BSA Melange I have all wound up and ready to go for New Towne.

Swatch me.  You know you want to.

Here and There

I feel the need to catch up before I can blog about current things, but catch ups are so tedious, so let’s leave it at this:

A couple of years ago I had a baby, then I didn’t sleep, we left NYC to buy a house in MA, there was another baby, still no sleep, and an embarrisingly small amount of knitting.

Now, baby the second is well past his first birthday, weaned, and sleeping through the night. I can reliably report that it takes about 2 weeks of full nights’ sleep to recover one’s brain from the fog of long term sleep deprivation. I am no longer stupid.

I also knit again. It is rather glorious.

Metro

See? I finished a sweater, and am unabashedly thrilled about it.

I finished it Friday night in Rhinebeck, which was cutting things a little close, but not so close that say, I was drying it in the oven, or wearing it without the ends woven in.

Rhinebeck was pretty fantastic. I didn’t take many pictures, but Amy posted pictures of our house on her blog*, and Caro on Flickr and really now that we’ve discussed Rhinebeck and the current state of my sleep, I feel like we’ve covered all the obligatory topics and I can start posting again like a normal person.

*also, Amy just announced the book she’s been working on, so a shout out of congratulations to her! Her designs are smart and stylish and infinitely wearable (do a search for her on Ravelry and see for yourself) and I am sure the book is going to be something very special. If you haven’t seen her site, you need to check it out now.

Knitting It Old School

Jackie also rocks Snowmates

(all photos this post copyright Splityarn. see below.)

There was a short period of time in the midst of all the baby-crazy the past three years that I had the capacity of a fully functioning adult, and I had the privilege to work on a design for Caro and Stitchy’s latest project, Knitting it Old School, a book which is basically the love child of Caro and Stichy’s adoration of, and fascination with, everything vintage.

Caro and Stitchy have the gift of translating fashions from the past… Not just the obvious appeal of classic patterns from the 40s or 50s (I mean really, have sweater sets ever been out of fashion completely? Anyone can do a vintage book centered on “classic”…) but also of the bold statements from the 60s, 70s and 80s. Their vision for those designs make you realize why the designs of those times were popular in the first place and show just how versatile those pieces can be.

Case in point, I had the pleasure of pattern writing Tammy George’s design Snowmates for Her (Rav link).

Kel rocks Snowmates

It’s a classic pullover, 3/4 length sleeves, waist shaping, fabulous neckline details (nested ribbing with contrast inner hem – love it!!!) with some funky color work detail. The bold blocks of color make me think of the late 60s. Maybe the 80s.

But there’s so much you could do with this pattern! I plan on making it for myself, and maybe inserting a snowflake motif for a Nordic sweater feel. You could omit the color work completely for more of a workhorse wardrobe piece. Or you could insert a favorite line of poetry or prose for something more personal, or whimsical. (I just thought of that, and damn, forget the snowflakes. I think I want words instead.)

Anyway, the pattern is easily modified… knit top-down, raglan style, just keep increasing until it fits your bust. Then keep decreasing until it fits your waist. Then increase again until it fits your hips. The math to figure all that out is fairly simple, even if you’ve never modified a pattern before.

The sweater itself looks good on, well, everyone I’ve seen wear it.

Ms Too Much Wool rocks Snowmates

(The wrinkles are from it just coming out of the Trunk.)

Kellee, Cassie and I have significantly different builds and body shapes, and it looks great on all of us, if I do say so myself.

Hats off to Tammy for her gorgeous design. I can’t wait to have one of my very own. Believe you me, I’d have at least one already if I hadn’t spent the last year pregnant, and wondering where my measurements will settle once I finish nursing.

(All pictures courtesy Caro Benna Sheridan, aka Splityarn, aka photographer extraordinaire)

A perfect weekend

WordPress just ate my post, and I haven’t the time nor inclination to recreate it (once when I was in college, Word ate a 20 page term paper, and I took the zero rather than try to recreate the work. It’s just so freaking disheartening. But I digress.)

It has been a lovely weekend. There was a leisurely dinner out, complete with tapas and sangria. There was gardening, and chive vinegar. There were happy children, enjoying the sunshine. There was a first pickup of organic raw milk, and local honey in tea. There was knitting, and long hours hanging out on my parents big ass deck. There were rhododendron bushes heavy with blossoms.

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A perfect way to begin the summer.

Today, it is so.

I once asked Amy how she got so much knitting done (she churns out sweaters as if she lived in an eternal Maine winter), and she told me that her elder pre-school aged son just wanted her to be NEXT to her while he played, and her younger son was really only interested in what her elder son was doing.

At the time I wondered if I’d ever get to that glorious place.

Today, I have.

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The Effects of Sunshine on the Soul

The sunlight is back.

I had an idea to chronicle all that’s happened in the 6 months or so since I last posted (um, since I had the baby), but in the bright glow of the March sunlight, I’ve found that I have no heart to drudge up the 5′ snowbank that sealed our front door off, or the 20 degrees BELOW zero (F) it was one morning, or the long john filled days of playing trains and nursing, and hot tea during naptime in a vain attempt to ward off exhaustion and cold drafts.

Somewhere in the last week that all became history.

It may have been SPA – a weekend filled with supportive friends, adult conversation, sleep, and fiber-y inspiration. My god, I love SPA. This year, Kellee made it happen for me, convincing Eric that it was the perfect weekend to get Tommy on bottles (she was right. No surprise there.)

There is something about SPA that is rejuvenating. I think it’s getting to spend REAL time with your friends, all holed up together in a hotel, for a big long sleepover. It’s not a quick knit night, it’s not a whirlwind barn-touring festival, it’s a big long pajama-fest with fiber. And room service.

Which is awesome, and certainly does a lot for the state of one’s psyche.

But today, today I am convinced it’s the sunlight.

A few weeks ago I couldn’t see past the day-to-day drudgery, I couldn’t figure out in my head how I was going to manage our jumbled schedule of conflicting family needs (work, class, meetings, trips… all a big puzzle of how to get who where, and hopefully on time).

But the sun is out, shining onto my desk, and across the play floor, and it feels like we’ve turned one big corner. I can see all the stuff before us, and it’s clicking. I can figure it out.

We may get more snow this winter. Hell, it was only 2 degrees this morning outside my kitchen window as I made my tea. But the sun is strong, and it’s been shining, and it’s all downhill to summer from here.

I’ve been knitting too. Here’s a preview of what I’m going to be showing off in the next few posts:

Preview

And a little baby love, because it really all does go by too fast:

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Second Child Syndrome

Referring to the difference between how the first child is treated vs the second child (see: benign neglect), as well as what happens to bloggers after their second child is born (see: fall off face of earth).

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Thomas Richard Pawlowski, born 2 months ago, after 3 days of labor and arriving to much joy and happiness. However, as he is the second child, there was no live tweeting of the event, nor a guest blog post by Eric announcing his arrival.

Or a blog post about his arrival, at all.

His labor and delivery are no longer fresh in my mind… rather I am immersed in the daily juggle of toddler and infant, the dance of naps and meals, the constant stream of diapers. It is wonderful, and it is all consuming.

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Thomas is a sweetheart. He is full of bright smiles and contentment. He’s recently taken to waking only once at night. (EJ still wakes up once or twice himself, and it took almost 2 years to get that good.) I am smitten.

And busy.

Slowly I am eking out Metro (from the fall twistcollective), which I see as a good nursing sweater – a cardigan with no buttons. It awaits sleeves and a neck, but I feel confident I will eventually finish and wear it.

There are many other things happening, but right now it’s all busy-ness and overcommitment… not worth the time to type about it.

I miss you, my friends in the computer. But right now my eyes are on the rugrats, not on the screen.

Still Here

Quick update, to explain my long absence.

I’m pregnant. Very pregnant. Only wearing muumuus now pregnant. Waddling like a penguin pregnant. EJ is also obsessed with the computer, which drastically reduces the amount of time I can spend here. So we’ve been enjoying a leisurely, half-step-out-of-time-with-the-rest-of-the-world sort of summer… gardening, berry picking, pie baking, spending afternoons at the playground or the pool. Trying to prevent him from flushing the toilet at every turn.

Baby is due in 6 weeks. I’m hoping for 4, my doula cautions me to think 8 the better to avoid disappointment.

Expect pictures of the new arrival here, when he decides to make his appearance.

Bread, Cheese, Tomatoes – 3 ways

Last week I pretty much lived on tomatoes, cheese and bread. Partly this is because I finally found a real, artisanal, independent bakery that makes real, quality bread (and incredible blueberry scones!). Partly this is because I finally figured out how to make quality pizza.

(Darby’s in West Boylston has literally made our life here better and filled a real void. 8 months with supermarket bakery bread as the best option has been sucky. And enough to prompt me to learn how to bake bread. I’m not good at it yet, but at least I know what’s in it. But Darby’s makes that less necessity, and more choice. Anyway, I digress.)

So, what did I do as soon as I got real bread in my hands? Why, I grilled it of course, and topped it with the best stuff I had on hand.

I happened to have some good golf-ball sized tomatoes on hand leftover from another use, and the same for some fresh mozzarella and basil. (Really the dish was serendipitous, and I was giddy when I realized I had all the things on hand for a delicious snack.) I sliced, salted and allowed the tomatoes to drain for a little bit. The salt leaches the excess water out, and leaves you with a concentrated, less messy, tomato flavor. Then I tossed it together with the cheese, basil, some olive oil and balsamic and let it sit together for a bit.

Meanwhile, I heated a grill pan over medium high heat, and brushed slices of bread with olive oil on both sides. I grilled the oiled bread until there were nice grill marks on each side, and then rubbed one side of each slice with a garlic clove that I had slice in half. This infused the bread with a nice garlic flavor without actually putting garlic chunks into the mix to eat.

And then? I sat, and quietly ate my snack with unbridled pleasure.

The next day I tossed the topping leftovers with toasted, 2 day old bread, to make a panzanella. Panzanella is literally stale bread tossed with tomato, mozzarella, basil, olive oil, balsamic, (or variants). The stale, toasted bread soaks up the lovely juices, and you’re not stuck with a stale hunk of bread on your counter.

Yum.

But the real triumph was this:

(Please excuse the crappy picture. I didn’t expect this to be bloggable, but it was so freaking delicious that I had to snap a picture before we ate it all.)

Salami & Zucchini Pizza
from Jamie’s Italy

My god, this was So Much Better than I could have expected.

First off, I didn’t realize how much proper technique affected a pizza’s outcome. I’ve been making pizza at home with mixed results for years, but I assumed that rolling out some dough, topping with sauce and cheese, and popping it in the oven until done was all there was to it.

And in some ways, it’s that easy. But HOW you roll out the dough, how much sauce, what cheese and toppings, and WHERE in the oven (and at what temp), these all make a huge difference in outcome.

(I will admit it was a shamefully inedible pizza that prompted me to finally look up some technique help on this. I mean, really, who screws up a pizza so badly that it’s inedible. Me. That’s who.)

This is what I’ve found out about making an excellent pizza:

1) A super hot oven. As hot as you can get it really, 500 degrees if yours goes up that high.

2) Thinly rolled dough. About 1/4″ thick. We’re not making veggie pies here, we’re making pizza.

3) Not too big, maybe about 12″ diameter. The dough is thin… if you roll it out too big, it’s too ungainly to handle. Make multiple pizzas if you have to.

4) Just sauce to cover. This means about 4 Tbs of sauce for a pizza the size we’re talking about. Too much sauce and you’ll drown your dough and ruin your pizza.

5) Good toppings. This doesn’t mean fancy. It can be as simple as avoiding the processed, shredded mozzarella and using some torn fresh mozzarella and fresh basil instead. It will make all the difference in the world.

Bonus: A pizza stone, or a slab of granite or marble on the bottom rack of your oven. This keeps the oven temp steady and (as closely as possible for a conventional oven) replicates the bottom of a wood stove. Otherwise, cook the pizza on oiled and floured tin foil directly on the bottom rack, as close to the oven floor as possible.

So, roll out your dough about 15 minutes before you’re ready to cook. Place it on an oiled, floured piece of tin foil. Prepare your toppings.

In this case I used thinly sliced zucchini and salami (Trader Joe’s Pinot Grigio Salami), then some pieces of basil, and enough torn fresh mozzarella to fill the gaps once everything else was on the pizza.

Pop in the oven for 7 – 10 minutes, and enjoy.

I really do have to say that I was extremely surprised at how well it turned out. It was better than any pizza you can get in my neck of the woods, and would fit right in at any specialty, high end, quality pizza shop. This will probably take the place of our Friday night take-out routine. Simple, delicious, and better than anything (pizza, thai, or otherwise) that will arrive in my kitchen after spending 20 minutes in the car.

Fail.

We are taking a short break from the food parade to mourn my entry into Elinor’s sock contest.

This, my friends, is what happens when you leave your knitting within reach of a toddler. I was equally horrified to find the knitting mangled, as well as by seeing 3 sharp, thin, wooden needles being gleefully waved around in EJ’s hands.

The deadline is Monday, and I don’t have the heart or the time to rip back and start over. Partially, this is because the yarn I had long since been waiting to arrive for a previously contracted design project arrived on my doorstep last week, the very afternoon of the above-pictured accident.

I had hoped to finish the socks before it arrived, but I am on a tight deadline for this new design, and sometimes that’s just the way it goes.

Although, THIS JUST IN! I just went to Elinor’s site to appropriately link and what not, and it turns out that she too has come upon unexpected time pressures and as such has extended the deadline to May 21st.

Looks like I might just be in the game after all. Count me as one of the people who are RELIEVED.

(I swear to god this post was not staged. Also, I feel a little dirty for feeling the need to say that.)

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