i’ve been posting plenty but haven’t said much about what’s going on around the house over the last week, what with all the holiday preparations.
just a week ago in fact, i spent a good deal of time in the kitchen making a big pot of soup from the little army of butternut squashes that stood on my kitchen countertop throughout the fall.
i thought this would be a good main dish to serve at our monday afternoon knitting class christmas party, held in our home this year. the squash went into the oven and were well cooked within an hour or so.
then i scooped out the flesh and puréed it well, although there were some bits of skin that stuck to the soft parts; scooping didn’t go as smoothly as one would hope.
so i dug out my faithful foley mill and sieved the purée through that to get those last remnants separated.
just as i was finishing up the purée, our neighbor connie came up the walk with a couple more pudgy butternut squashes to share, haha. her dad had quite an excess of them in his garden, which is how i came by the ones i used for the soup i had underway.
and as a treat for the birds, i roasted all the d=seeds from inside the squashes to put in our new feeder. when they were roasted and cooked, i mixed them into our bag of bird seed. the little critters really go for them.
i set the finished purée aside while i sweated a mirepoix of celeriac, carrots, parsley, celery seed, fresh ginger, garlic, and onion in oil with a bit of butter; to this i added some vegetable broth and potatoes cut up, seasoned with salt and pepper, and cooked all of that together until the vegetables were very soft. then i pureed that mixture too and blended in the squash.
the potato mixture made the soup creamy without adding a lot of fat or dairy. at this point, i seasoned it further with a bit of nutmeg, cardamom, coriander, cumin, ginger, more salt, and pepper. it tasted yummy. at this point you can store it away in the fridge for later or even freeze it.
when it’s time to serve, you can add unflavored soy creamer, a dollop of real cream, or sour cream if you like, or just eat it as is (it’s plenty creamy without any of those).
our party was just lovely; we so enjoy this annual celebration. i was so relaxed and in the moment that i forgot to take even one single photo!
while i was cooking, david passed through the kitchen sporting his newly completed squish me cap, knit in breakfast blend DK in the morning smoke shade. it fits him perfectly and looks great—isn’t he a good knitter?
while he worked on the original sampler blanket, knit last winter for our friend kim, he commented several times that this would be an excellent way to learn more about different stitch patterns and to get some good knitting experience. i say, go for it david.
you won’t catch me saying no to another blanket . . . although who knows, maybe he’ll decide to gift it to his mom.
after monday’s party, i spent most of tuesday evening and wednesday preparing for christmas eve; beckie and i invited several friends to share the evening over a traditional feast of fishes. i cooked a large pot of calamari in red sauce along with pan-fried smelts.
we also had everyone’s favorites salad of sliced oranges with anchovy, garlic, and olive oil dressing, black olives, and pepper. it’s an unusual combination that doesn’t sound good until you taste it and then WOW, it’s amazing.
that evening is quite a production actually, with four courses and guests to share them. it’s no wonder that once again, i did not take photos. too bad too; the table looked so pretty with candles and large pine cones at the center.
somewhere between last saturday and christmas day, i managed to get davids’ gift hat finished and blocked, but i can’t remember exactly when. i just love the way it turned out. the color on top is just what i had in mind, though any one of the shades in the brim would be equally successful, i think.
i dried it inside out and right side out, turning it frequently to prevent creasing.
once dry, the fabric was just lovely—so even and soft to the touch, with beautiful stitch definition.
the lining fabric bloomed really well in the wash and all those loose, uneven stitches were now fluffy and straight, supported by escaped fibers.
and herein is the success of the hat—a cozy padding of pure cashmere against the skin; what could be more decadent?
it seems to be the hat of choice for the time being . . .
he wears it almost every day.
you probably are wondering whatever happened to the christmas socks i was knitting david as well.
well, ever since i finished the hat, i’ve been dragging those around everywhere i go to finish them up and i did manage to get one done in time.
i want to get the other one done for new year’s day and so far, i’m on track to accomplish that
as of the is morning i had turned the heel, picked up my gusset stitches and started the decreases for the foot. i also redesigned it a bit
i wasn’t happy with the proportion of the basketweave top to the windowpane patterned leg on sock one (back), so i changed it on sock two (front).
these will also look WAY better once they’ve had a trip through a soapy, hot water bath. for now, though, they are scrumptious even as is, with a dense cushy hand, perfect for the coldest weather.
for this one, i put a half twist on the scarf before stitching the graft to make a mobius
it hangs so beautifully and drapes so well when doubled up.
in between all of that, i started and finished another work-related project—remember when i said that i should knit a pair of fat tire mittens to match my cream colored snow tire scarf? (or maybe i said that only in the rav threads, i can’t remember now).
anyway, i did it. mittens go so fast and take a surprisingly small amount of yarn—if you bought a snow tire kit in the ghillie option, you would have plenty for both mittens and a scarf (plus, we would put some of that money in the scholarship fund—that’s a win, win, WIN).
(isn’t it cool how much the fabric changes after it’s washed—i love this).
we even got the photo shoot done yesterday—which means that we should be ready to release the mitten pattern by monday night or tuesday.
i want to add sales from this pattern for the last couple days of the year to our scholarship fund. i’m hoping we can sell enough to get us to our goal; sales have been flagging this week while everyone celebrates christmas and we are still quite a bit short of where i’d hoped to be.
wouldn’t this be an adorable valentine’s gift? what would make mid-february more fun than a sweetheart set of mix and match mittens and scarves?
in fact, yesterday we did several back to back photo shoots to take advantage of the warm weather and good light. afterward, we all gathered for a little dinner and knit night.
the enthusiasm actually began that morning when we held the first beginning knitting class in our shop, attended by several local students and taught by laura lazarites.
emily’s friend robert is a carpenter who has been wanting to learn to knit, so she signed him up. he had a great day and as you can see, cannot seem to put his knitting down.
such an intent group all around—david had to prod everyone to put down their work in order to eat the yummy indian food that emily and erica brought.
in addition to being an artist and modeling for us, sheyanne is a talented baker and brought along some gluten free cupcakes.
i had something to share as well, which i’d been keeping for a special treat.
a pyramid of chocolate that i picked up at a food festival in portland OR last fall (chocolate will keep very well if you take care of it).
ever since i brought this home i had been waiting for an opportunity to have a chocolate tasting, so when dinner was done i set up 10 little plates along the island, each with chocolate from a different country of origin.
david made a nice pot of espresso coffee to go with it.
laura assured me that i should not worry about my drug habit—wine, alcohol, and coffee are all easy enough to explain away . . .
i don’t feel defensive about it at all, in fact—do you see how little i had done on sock #2 at this point and how much i got done by the morning? (see above).
speaking of sharing and imbibing . . .
sample skeins of the new the mussel shell shade of kent DK arrived this past week—a beautiful true gray, how pretty is that? we didn’t really have a good idea of what this shade would be like, but we’re happy that it’s a blue gray; a new tone for the kent lines.
and, as i mentioned the other day in the ravelry threads, we also have several other new yarns in the works. all of our mohair yarns are now going to be spun at our ohio mill; this will be a great change, because they have more flexibility and a great interest in spinning one yarns for us.
with this wonderful opportunity, we are going to make our cabécou in lace weight at 1000 yards per four ounces. for future production, we changed the wool content from romney to coopworth, to take advantage of a source for soft, bright white coopworth fiber in our region.
we are also trying this blend with tussah (wild) silk, which has a golden sheen rather than white, giving it a burnished quality that i rathe like. sample skeins arrived the other day and we couldn’t be happier. the yarn is fine but with a nice firm twist to give it body and great stitch definition. and still with that knockout sheen, maybe even more so.
most of the samples were unwashed (right), but one skein was washed (left). the washed skein made the mill owner nervous because in the course of fluffing up, the escaping fibers make it appear a bit uneven; it’s hard to tell if this is a spinning issue or not. the unwashed yarn looks silkier and more even because it’s oiled; personally, i prefer it that way because it behaves better during the knitting process. so we are testing the washed against the unwashed to make sure they’ll each have identical qualities after drying. if pre washing doesn’t change the final result, we can sell the unwashed yarn with good conscience.
if we do see some undesirable result—such as biasing or crimping in the fabric, we’ll have to go back to the drawing board and fix something in the spinning. my preliminary guess would be that we’d have to relax the twist a little. but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
the good news is that we should be able to resolve this quickly and have the yarn available by late winter or early spring, just in time for lace knitting season.
now, you might want to get a drool rag under your chin for the next item.
this is our chebris blend in a two-ply worsted weight, using gray mohair and gray merino top. omg, it’s as light as air and SOOOooo squishy soft. we are falling allover ourselves to touch it as often as possible.
doncha just want to reach into the computer and pinch its chubby lil cheeks?? and yes, that is the lace weight i was just talking about to its right; a change of background makes it look completely different in color, doesn’t it?
it’s the most uncanny thing, how color is so relative—look at the chebris worsted on the other background.
in this photo all the gold is highlighted and on the wood table, all the blue-gray is featured. same exact ball of yarn, i swear!
alright now, another day is done and it’s time for me to go knit. take care and see you back here with mittens on tomorrow!