what’s cooking?

anne wrote this in the late evening:

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the view from my desk here in san diego can’t be beat—especially with snow flying back at home (poor david; i wish he was here with me). the first few days were a bit dreary, but since the wedding, the weather here has been perfect—refreshing 50s at night and in the 70s during the day. i SO needed this.

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w-day went off with no trouble at all; the day dawned perfectly beautiful and the event was lovely as can be with plenty of special people to celebrate kim and jeff’s happy day

if you enjoyed that small synopsis, you can see an even more extensive album on my flickr page

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an absolutely lovely day for my lovely friend; it just makes my heart swell to see her so happy!

that night the newlyweds went off to honeymoon and now they are enjoying a week in paris (so jealous!). i’m staying on here to look after the boys while they are away, which is pretty exciting considering the weather at home, which continues to be very cold and even snowy.

i can work very well right here while the boys go to school and work; they could probably even take care of themselves, but this way, they’ll get decent meals and have a reliable adult around just in case.

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we are cooking some old favorites and trying some new ones as well—the other night we made pasta with vodka sauce, which is always on the request list

but we also tried a new recipe for mahi-mahi with peppers and mango in a sweet and sour curry sauce that turned out delicious

and believe me, they gobbled up those green vegetables almost entirely—just a lunch portion left of each. we baked sweet potatoes with this dinner to round out the meal, which were also yummy.

today i did my long run while the boys were at church and when i got back i started a vegetable curry.

kade helped me finish it up when they got home.

for dessert, we’re making sticky rice with mangoes, using an intriguing method for steaming sticky rice that i found on the shesimmers website (my go-to site to read about thai cooking and recipes).

(with the publication of her first book, simple thai food, leela has a week of giveaways going—you should check them out)

on the recommendation of the proprietor of our local asian market, i’ve been using black sticky rice to make this dish, because it is both flavorful and quite beautiful. my sister-in-law nan was converted as well when we made it this way over christmas. the rich purple color of the rice is a gorgeous complement to the bright orange mangoes. like any whole-grain (brown) rice, it takes quite a bit longer to cook but it’s well worth the wait

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i couldn’t get the mangoes we like best, which come from thailand or the phillipines, so we had to settle for the mexican ones. mangoes are just about to come into season though, so hopefully we’ll see the asian type in the markets soon.

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with all this talk about cooking and wedding celebrating, you probably think i haven’t been knitting but i have. of course, mostly on secret projects, which i’m pretty sure you don’t want to hear, haha

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on the plane out here, i got the whole back of a sweater knit—i’m so excited; just two sleeves left to go and with some diligence (meaning, no email or ravelry chatter) i think i can knock those out this week and maybe do the blocking and seaming as well.

i’m working with our stone soup fingering yarn in the slate shade—this will be a lovely, lightweight garment, just perfect for spring. i can’t give you any more details than that right now but stay tuned, because it will be revealed soon.

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i’ve also worked on the fingering weight op art cowl in spirit trail sunna, colorway va-va-voom! it’s coming along, but i am trying to be fair and split my time between all three rejects i have here; they are all important right now.

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i’m also running as much as i can while i’m here—gotta take advantage of this glorious weather. i WANT to be out there for a long run every day but i’m trying to be sensible—my first half marathon is two weeks form today and from here on out, it will be important to scale back a little, eat right, and get plenty of rest.

so today was my last long training run until race day; i’m just so glad i got to come out here for the pre-race period. i’ve been a lot less stiff running in the warmer climate.

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i purchased some new shoes just before i left home which are breaking in nicely.

people often ask me how i come up with ideas for my designs and while it’s not always a straight line between inspiration and finished design, i can sometimes see afterward a clear relationship—like my hills in jamul hat design, which was included in the february BNK club package

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the colors, textures, and winding roads that i run on here are approximated in the shapes and textures of the hat.

today i ran a little bit longer than the half marathon distance—my turn back was about a half mile past this mile marker sign; when i got the other direction, the miles count down and after the zero point there is still one mile to go.

i’m tired, but it’s a happy tired; i am ready.

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ok, i’ll be back in a few days, hopefully with the fringe tree shawl pattern to release; i know some of you are waiting on that. i need to get photos from sarah so i can do the post.

have a good monday; happy knitting.

Introducing Halfsies and Minis

majordomo wrote this terribly early in the morning:

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Colorwork nuts get ready. We have something special for you. Stone Soup Fingering in halfsies and minis! The unique blend of rambouillet, lincoln, columbia, churro, alpaca, plus a little tencel, bamboo and silk throw in the mix

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in natural colorways of Pumice, Slate, Marble and Granite are now available in minis (1 oz skeins)

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and Granite and Pumice are available in halfsies (2 oz skeins).

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Aren’t they precious!? Don’t you want to scoop up a few of these and start playing with how the colorways relate to each other in a stranded motif? Or grab a limited edition Bare Naked Wools kit? Yeah, we thought you would.

That’s why we had Tanya knit an Apples in Clover last week

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and had Susan model for us,

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so we could release a limited edition kit – Apples in Clover Tam. What a great way to welcome spring with a pattern of apple blossoms, clover, and tiny fruits running rings around this slouchy tam.

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You can choose from two kits, a Marble background with Pumice and Slate as your contrasting colors

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OR a Slate background with Granite and Marble as your contrasting colors. Tanya knit the above sample using all four colors, so if you want the same versatility you could grab a kit here and add an extra color to your cart here. Any leftovers would make great stripey fingerless mitts or a baby hat.

Apple in Clovers Tam also compliments Rain On a Hot Tin Roof nicely.

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Grab full skeins of Stone Soup Fingering, plus the hat and cowl patterns and you’ll have enough yarn to knit both. It’s always nice to have a complimentary set in your wardrobe. And natural colorwork accessories are so versatile. They coordinate beautifully with neutral clothing or you can spice things up a bit and wear BNWs with a pop of color.

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Imagine the options with these new knits below in your closet!

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Some of you may already have Stone Soup halfsies and minis on the needles. We first released them at the BNWs pop up store in Novi, MI and our friend Cherie squealed when she saw them!

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She is such a fan of colorwork and was excited about the new put up. Oh the possibilities! We often save something a little special to offer pop up store customers – a new pattern, a new kit, sometimes a brand new yarn. If you’re in the Chicago area April 5 and 6 stop by Yarn Con.

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Barb, Susan, and Sarah would love to show you the latest and greatest Bare Naked Wools has to offer.

gifts beyond compare

anne wrote this in the wee hours:

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packing for my trip the other day, i was really glad i’d decided to fly on the airline that allows me to take two bags—i had to devote one entire suitcase to wedding paraphernalia alone!

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most of my plane ride took place in complete darkness, as i was flying from east to west, but as we landed, the sky was a beautiful sapphire blue—until we got below that thick marine layer hugging the coast.

i got tons of knitting done, completing the sweater back i had going and working a bit on a secret project as well. i’ll show you all of that in a weekend post.

below clouds, it was chilly, windy, and rainy; not as warm as i’d hoped it would be, but better than home, where it was blizzarding once again.

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but sunny smiles all around from my west coast “family”. the afternoon was filled with errands and another trip to the airport; then it was time to head out to sam’s swim meet.

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which was held outdoors unfortunately; the day became increasingly damp and chilly as it wore on. afterward, we all piled into the car and headed posthaste to a warm middle eastern eatery, mmm.

this morning i was up early for a nice long run, during which the sun actually came out for a while and i came home with ever-so-slight tan lines—to be developed further during the next ten days.

we had a lot of errands on the agenda for the rest of the day and naturally with so many last minute things to take care of, there were a few SNAFUs as well. by 9:30, kim was literally buzzing around the house putting out fires.

but before we headed out, i insisted she take a break to catch her breath and enjoy a little indulgence from her knitting compadres.

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you see, i not only traveled to help celebrate the marriage of our dear friend kim; i was carrying precious cargo as well. david and i, along with about thirty of kim’s dearest internet friends have been hatching a secret gift project for a couple of months and finally the day has arrived to present it.

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well, to say she was surprised would be the understatement of the year. you can see the complete story in the youTube video that her daughter xanning made, posted on the knitspot channel.

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and the fact that thirty knitters who love to chat could keep such a wonderful secret from her was the best part i think. her genuine and unadulterated surprise was a real treat to witness; it made us all feel great.

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isn’t she fab?? this is why we love her and love doing things for her; kim’s joy for life is so completely contagious. it’s hard not to smile and laugh when i’m spending time with her.

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and the blanket wasn’t all—there was a beautiful storage bag made by michele

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from fabrics printed with a zombie theme, inside and out; SO much fun and kim just loved that

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the last item in the bag was a special project made by the two newest knitters in the bunch. sarah, who actually learned to knit a bit too late to contribute a blanket square, wanted very much to make something to give to kim.

barb suggested that she and david could knit some blocks to make a pillow.

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ao with barb’s help, they did just that and it turned out so cute!

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each knitter also sent along a card which kim is reading as i write this; she is just so touched.

i know it was a huge effort for everyone involved to keep the whole thing a secret, but i promise it was completely worth it. thank you so much to all who contributed!

we would have loved to spend the rest of the day curled up on the sofa painting our toes and watching movies while alternately admiring this beautiful gift, but realistically, there was a lot of running around to do. another trip to the airport and some errands

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she had to stop at sephora, so i picked up some fresh spring lip color while i was waiting

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to go with my dress, haha. far be it from me to just stand around wasting time.

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later on, while kim packed for her honeymoon trip to paris, i steamed her dress.

we are all set for tomorrow morning; we have to leave the house by 7:30 . . . AM. so i think this is probably a good time to sign off; i’ll be back later in the weekend with a wedding update and lots of party photos.

in the meantime, erica will be filling in on friday with a blog about something new. have a wonderful weekend; see you on sunday!

i throw up my hands

anne wrote this mid-afternoon:

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despite the fact that i have yet to see even one crocus pop up in our yard, i was out out for a walk last wednesday when i came across a patch of well-devloped tulip sprouts. there’s this property with a white fence out front, where the spring bulbs always show up so early and in such numbers that i’m starting to think they use a magic potion on their beds. or it’s some  fluke of the sun hitting in just the right spot or something.

meanwhile, at our end of the street, we get treated to this for the first day of spring

honestly, i am throwing up my hands in despair of spring ever arriving this year.

the latest snowstorm started almost before i could get back to my desk after seeing susan and barb off to the fiber expo in ann arbor, michigan. BTW, they are having a great time with their first retail show experience—don’t forget to stop by the booth to say hello as you move through the show.

fortunately, the snow stopped after a few hours and just an inch or two of accumulation and later that afternoon, the temperatures and “soared” all the way into the 30s in time for my afternoon run. very windy though—and there remains in it an icy breath that is no friend to my leg muscles . . .

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despite the icy coat of that morning, my tulip friends are making gains hand over fist. i’ll see more of them on my long run today . . . but i’m waiting for it to warm up just a little more while i write my blog.

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the night before they left, we traveled to a new-ish, nearby yarn shop named heidi and lana that is one of the first stores to carry our stone soup yarn line (also look for it at trillium yarns in morrisville, NJ!). this adorable shop specializes in american made yarns, so it’s  perfect fit for our first wholesale collection (stone soup will be showing up in here and there in local yarn shops as our production capacity grows; we’re excited about this new development).

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we think that working with shops, along with participating in some wool shows, will create valuable opportunities for knitters to see, touch, and feel the quality and softness of our yarns in person. we are pleased as punch that a store so local to us was eager to participate in our new wholesale program.

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the event drew a very nice turnout of visitors to see the trunk show and purchase yarn—susan, sarah, and i enjoyed chatting with steady stream of completely lovely knitters about the samples and patterns, helping them choose yarns to crate their own projects.

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we also got to knit in the cozy seating area that margaret has created to snuggle into with yarn and needles. i worked on my secret project that is growing by the day and should be done for the upcoming deadline. as it happens, this piece is knit with stone soup fingering yarn, so it gave me an example to talk about. i can’t wait to share the results with everyone here in a few weeks . . .

we could hardly believe it when 7 pm came and it was time to go; thank you margaret for such a nice evening. we’ll have to do that again some time!

as i said, the weather has been very brisk these last few days—colder than you’d expect with wind chills still in the single digits. thought the days are longer and somewhat sunnier now, it’s still too early to spend much time out of doors aside from my runs, which i am religious about if for no other reason that to stop would cause me to petrify at my desk. it’s still WAY too cold and windy for biking much at all; i do miss that.

so i spent the weekend doing last minute errands for my trip west on tuesday, getting some knitting done, and putting the new kitchen through its paces.

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yesterday, after yoga class and several stops to pick up this and that, i decided that i just had time to bake a blueberry pie to take to the coffee house evening at the home of our neighbors, bruce and norma. i made a batch of the same pie crust i’d used for the lemon meringue pie and got that chilling while i cooked the filling with frozen blueberries, sugar, lemon rind and a touch of cornstarch.

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we prefer crumb topping on most pies so i also got that ready in advance. haha, however that is where i completely forget to take any more photos, even when the pie came out of the oven looking scrumptious.

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while not so attractive, hopefully these “morning after” leftovers speak for themselves. i have got to learn to put less filling in the dish so it doesn’t bubble over so much. it just never looks full enough beforehand, heh.

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while it baked i knit a few rounds; wednesday night i cast on another op art cowl, this time in a different weight of the same fiber blend—the fingering selection from spirit trail fiber works called sunna. omg, this color—va-va voom!—is to die for. such  great deep pink. at first it looks red, but then you realize that it’s got that vivid edge that makes it more of a pink. i love it.

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this cowl is taking a bit longer because i cast on the largest size, but even at that, it’s easy to make steady progress because most of the rounds are soothingly mindless. last night i brought it to a coffee house evening and knit almost in the dark while we listened to music and chatted with neighbors. when we got home, i was aMAZed at how many rounds i’d completed. i even did the round of twists while i was there.

this is definitely going in my suitcase to san diego this week—it’ll be great knitting for chatty evenings with kim and her family. karolyn is working away on the test sample for the medium size in DK weight birte—also in the va-va voom! colorway.

the pattern is all set to go, so as soon as we get the samples done and photos shot, we can release it. i know that several of you are anxious for it but hang in there!

we also have matching arm warmers underway—so cute. they really show off the patterning as they expand and contract over the arms, puffing out here and there. can’t wait to show you those.

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while i was working in the kitchen and since i had pie crust underway anyhow, i threw together a quiche filled with spring vegetables for our supper. beckie has been generously supplying us with plenty of eggs from her hens, so it was a great way to use some of those up.

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mmm, asparagus and mushrooms. we had this for a late supper after we got home from the coffee house. there are plenty of leftovers for david to eat while i’m away; i’ll probably freeze a few slices for him to use one by one when he doesn’t feel like cooking.

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speaking of mister knitspot—look at the hat he’s knitting, isn’t it beautiful? he is really quite the knitter. i’m enjoying the fact that sarah is impressed enough by david’s work to aspire to careful stitch work and even tension in her own knitting. and both of them have a willingness to rip back and fix that i’ve never seen in beginners before, the result being that both of them are turning out remarkably perfect fabrics.

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i must be doing something right by just stepping back and letting them compete, haha. kinda like the hunger games of knitting?

speaking of wishing for spring, i am attempting to coax it along with my own special brand of voodoo—calling up the goddess of UFOs and promising to turn at least one big one into an FO if she will just let spring, well . . . spring.

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yes, i am actually working and successfully, on getting somewhere with this sweater. i finished the one sleeve and have started the other and gotten that one nearly to the point where i change patterns.

i am taking this one with me as well, so that i can finish it up during my trip. i will be away two weeks and am taking four projects—my secret stone soup one, my op art cowl, this sweater, and another secret one that i can say boo about yet. all of them are half done, so i may even pack a fifth one, not sure yet. i don’t want to tempt myself, you know? i really want to force myself to finish up my most urgent projects. plus, i have to work every day too; i’ve got a club chapter deadline coming up when i return.

alright now, all of that is making feel stressed; i better get out for my run and get back so i can pack my suitcase. i’ll try to be back with another post before i leave on tuesday, but that’s a bit doubtful; the next time you see me might be in sunny san diego, where our dear friend kim is getting hitched in just a few days! i’ll be all news with wedding details from the front, how about that?

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(this is my dress; isn’t it cute?)

and i won’t be at all sorry to be enjoying the sun when i get there.