Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Stashie Stuff

Hee! Went to Michaels this afternoon and got a few balls of neat yarn. I've never worked with soy fiber, so since they were having a sale, I got some of the Patons SWS... It's stripey; maybe it'll work for mittens. I also got some that's an odd moss green, which I think I'll use to make a couple of those knitted frogs. Hee! Froggies! Also got some more Patons merino yarn in a really, really dark olive green. Hmm... pity I didn't get enough to make Christie's scarf. Why is it I always think of these things after the fact? Grrrr. Ooh. And it looks like I have another opportunity to do a yarn review.

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

State of Cardiness

I've been grumbling about this cardigan for a few weeks now, but I'm getting closer to being finished. At present, I have a bit of sleeve--I said I'd post again once I did the sleeves and finishing-up bits like the neckline and the button bands. I'll just go back and add it to the post that's already up--which I've decided to work in the round rather than flat. But what does one do when one doesn't have double pointed needles in the right size? I've been seeing posts on the sock forum about this thing called The Magic Loop method; it seems like some people (gasp!) prefer it to working with all those double pointed needles, particularly because it eliminates the need for said DPNs by replacing them with a pair of extra-long circular needles.
Okay, I thought. I'll give it a try and see what's so faboo about it. Honestly, like a lot of other aspects of knitting, it boils down to personal preference; I've decided I like double pointed needles better. It does work for socks, according to the folks on the sock forum, so why not a sweater sleeve that's worked in the round? It eliminates the seaming on the underside of the sleeve, but if you've got colorwork on the sleeve, it can make it a bit trickier to deal with because there's a little hiccup at the end of the round. When you're knitting in the round, you're not working in a stack of flat circles; you're working in a spiral, which means that the end of the round is higher than the beginning; that's what causes the hiccup. There's something called the Jogless Jog, which is supposed to correct the little hiccup; I haven't learnt how to do it, though.
In the meantime, I realized I'd been reading the sleeve directions wrong. No wonder the number of stitches didn't seem like it would work out to 120! I finished the seaming on the shoulders and sides the other night--mattress stitch is kind of tricky!--so it shouldn't be too much longer until the whole thing is finished. :-D Yay!
Also below is an icon denoting... well.. see for yourself.
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Monday, August 20, 2007

Faux Asian Pasta Salad

Here's another bastardized recipe. This one was originally featured on "Everyday Food" on PBS; as usual, there are some substitutions and quite a few additions.

16 oz rotini pasta, cooked and drained
1 medium head of broccoli, peeled and cut into bitesized pieces (including the stem)
1 green pepper, cored and thinly sliced
1/4 lb snow peas with the ends trimmed
1 tbsp canola oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1 package skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bitesized pieces and browned
chopped peanuts for a garnish

2 tbsp soy sauce
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
4 tbsp creamy peanut butter
1/2 tsp black sesame oil
wee dash of cayenne pepper (if you don't have red pepper flakes... we never do)

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil and toss in the garlic. Cook the chicken (if you haven't already) until it's cooked through, then add the vegetables and salt. Sautee until the veggies are tender, and turn off the heat; leave the lid on so the whole thing can steam, which will soften the veggies a little more without rendering them mushy.
In a large measuring cup, whisk the ingredients for the sauce; the consistency will be a little bit thick, so don't panic. Toss the pasta with the vegetables, chicken, and sauce. Sprinkle peanuts on top and serve warm.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Torrid Love Affairs With Socks

Yesterday, Barb continued to astonish me with her leaps in progress. Right now she's working on the baby-sized sock from Sensational Knitted Socks; it's going extremely well. While she was visiting yesterday, she mentioned that she's been working on the sock during her breaks at work, and that people occasionally stop and stare when they see her hands with their needles bristling in all directions; I laughed and said, "It feels good doesn't it? You could tell them you're having a torrid love affair with your sock." For the rest of the afternoon, we giggled about the idea of torrid love affairs with socks and I decided I'd do a couple of little blog-type icons which are stored here.
While Barb labored away on her little yellow sock, she noticed that something seemed amiss: her sock was suddenly garter stitch, and she had no idea why. I looked at it and suggested that perhaps she'd gotten things turned around and was knitting in the wrong direction. I took pictures of this--at her behest.
"Yellow Sock" doesn't show it very well, but you can sort of see a couple of rows of garter stitch around the top of the sock, before I frogged it for her. I have yet to explain the gentle art of frogging, but... sometimes it just has to be done in order to correct a problem.
"Chagrin" shows Barb--is she laughing really hard or sobbing? It's hard to tell--hiding her face so she can't see the frogging.
"Yellow Sock 2" shows Barb with her sock in hand, knitting merrily away.
"Teacher Sock" is the sock I'm knitting along with her so I can show her what to do at each step while she figures out how to puzzle through the pattern.
Anyway, next week she should be able to do one on her own, and then she said she wants to learn how to do colorwork and cables. A small sweater of some kind, maybe?
THIS is going to be my next sock project: http://www.spindlicity.com/winter2006/nordic_lights.shtml. Aren't they pretty?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Progress Report

Barb has made astonishing progress with her knitting. She's mastered the basics and gone on to do things like very small (as in Wee Folk small) garter stitch shawls using yarn over increases, and this afternoon she finished her first proper project... a two needle watch cap in yellow Lion Brand WoolEase. In an attempt to preserve her privacy, I've taken the liberty of.. erm.. altering the photo I took (much to her great amusement), but the hat is there in all its buttery yellow glory. Her next task is learning to master the best shock-and-awe knitting tool in existance.... double pointed needles. She's currently using that pretty yellow yarn to knit a bunch of tiny little tubes as a precursor to taking the plunge and knitting an entire sock. I'm extremely pleased with her progress and she continues to astonish me with how quickly she picks things up. I think I said in an earlier post that mom said either you have it or you don't, and Barb definitely has it. I'll post a picture of her sock progress after her next lesson, which is probably next week some time. Much applause and many gold stars, Barb!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Basil Pad Thai (sort of)

It's been so bloody hot here. Hot and humid, which means no one feels like doing anything, and that includes cooking; but since it's a weekend, I figured I'd make take a stab at making something stir fry-ish. A friend recently shared a recipe for Thai chicken, which I very much wanted to try; however, since we don't usually have things like fish sauce or fresh ginger in the house, I usually end up making a lot of substitutions. Fortunately, it almost always works out. So, thanks, Tae-bean, for sharing your friend's recipe. Here's my bastardized version. I did most of the chopping and mincing this morning and let things lurk in the fridge until it came time to make dinner.

2 T macadamia nut oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced or mooshed
1/2 large onion
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 small zucchini, diced
1 can sliced water chestnuts
1/2 package matchstick carrots (unless you happen to feel like messing with a bunch of carrots)
1 package boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 T soy sauce
1 tsp ground cumin
3 or 4 small sprigs of lemon basil
1 package pad thai noodles
1.5 T ponzu or soy sauce
1 T orange curacao
1/2 tsp cornstarch

Cut the chicken breasts into bitesized pieces and toss with the 3 tablespoons of soysauce; let it rest in the fridge for a few hours, or until you're ready to cook. Dice the zuchinni and green pepper and toss them in a bowl with a pinch of salt; let the veggies rest for a few hours, same as the chicken.
In a wok or other suitably sized pan (gotta love that cute little Le Creuset soup pot), heat the oil and throw in the garlic and cumin. Add the chicken and stir it until the chicken is cooked through. Add a little bit of water and stir some more. Let the chicken steam for a little while with the lid on. Chop the onion and add it to the chicken, and cook it until it's tender but not mushy. In a separate bowl mix the ponzu, orange curacao, and cornstarch; add it to the pot along with the rest of the vegetables and the basil, toss to coat things--this isn't a thick sauce, and it's subtle. Put the lid on the pot and turn off the heat; let the vegetables steam until they're tender, then remove the pot from the burner.
Cook the pad thai according to the instructions on the packet, drain, and rinse, then serve with the chicken and veggies.