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In recent times, our neighbourhood has seen some dramatic improvement. A new coffee shop has come up right around the corner. It has a study hall atmosphere to it with small square tables and mostly has solitary patrons – students from our school – huddled over their laptops and lattes, but it makes great salads and coffee and has a wonderful staff with a sense of humour. We have a friendly building with lots of people with common interests and we do stuff together. A couple into gardening spruced up our backyard. The bus stops right opposite, and the deli store carries wine. Even the laundry is trying to double as an art gallery for local artists!
But nothing beats my newest friend in the neighbourhood, Sally Field:
Sally and her friend Becks belong to one of our neighbours in the next building, but they have come to prefer our backyard, and hang out there most of the time. Their owner moved their feeding bowls out here and leaves the food for us to refill from time to time. They are among the friendliest cats I’ve ever met. Becks is a little neurotic, and it’s practically impossible to photograph her at ground level – she immediately jumps into your lap and reaches for the camera. This is the best I could manage.
Every other day, one of them is waiting at the building door when I come home, and if I have a grocery bag or something, they promptly try to jump right into it when I put it down to look for my keys. Sally decided to imperiously follow me in one day and check out my flat. She sat in the sun for a bit and then went back out. They prefer the outdoors, which is just as well, because I am not allowed pets, and it would be a shame if they liked my sofa and I couldn’t keep them here. Sally is also my silent morning alarm, because at dawn every day she perches herself on that gate, and the quiet twitch of her tail causes the motion sensor light at the back to go on and off, on and off, on and off – it happens to be right at my bedroom window. If it had been anybody but her I would have done violence to them and to the light. Instead, I rubbed my eyes groggily and took a picture of her from the gap in the curtains.
Oh, so I finally started something else.
I have reached the uncomfortable and unenviable point in my red shawl where I have to decide whether:
a) I have enough yarn left for the last 4 patterns and the border.
b) to break the symmetry of the shawl and end it here and starting the border at once
c) to rip back the cast on edge (it’s provisional) and ripping back the 4 initial repeats to maintain the symmetry
d) this truncated length will be enough after blocking.
Momentous decisions, all. I took the only adult course of action out, which is to say I swore, rolled up the lace into a ball and flung it into the basket, had a cookie and then cast on for something else. I’ll decide later.
Taking a break from my paper on this gloomy sunday afternoon, my eyes glazed over with tiny, cursive nineteenth century handwriting from the archives, I am having fun both knitting and taking pictures of it from all odd angles. Is it a tent? A kite? You’ve surely guessed what it is, but I’ll tell you what it is once I’ve finished it, which will hopefully be soon.
Somehow, having the 5 DPNs go in different directions and collapse on themselves is better than hauling my ass to the yarn store to buy a size 1 circular needle.
Thanks so much for the great feedback and encouragement on the blogging, you guys, it really made my day! Am glad to know I’m not the only one who misses the process-blogging, and now that this semester does look like it might end after all, I hope I will pick up the needles with gusto too.
I sneezed 74 times today. I’m sure I did, because I counted till about 53 and then there were many after that. My nose fell off and I put it back on, and I definitely remember doing that a few times. Then there were the times I thought my vocal chords were going to cannon out as well and I sniffed just in time. You can’t blame me for losing count. But trust me, it felt like five hundred.
I don’t know what it is. It’s not allergies. It’s not flu. It’s not even the regulation 7 day cold. But I have had this sneezing with a side of runny nose and a dash of headache as a staple diet all semester, with supersized helpings all last month. It’s not so serious that I can stay at home (I had to cancel class once), but it’s enough to make me cross and crabby. That’s the worst combination ever. And everyone looks at me warily wondering if I have swine flu.
So I’ve been on a soup kick, trying out simple variations for a hot, quick dinner. Today, I made some really tasty, spicy and garlicky soup with butternut squash. If you’re feeling a bit blue and flue-y, and want something that soothes the throat and hits the spot, try this one out. Peeling the squash is the only pain, but it’s even easier if you get it already-peeled. I had very few ingredients – no onions, chives, cream and other whatsit that many recipes call for, so I was all the more pleased when such a bare-bones mix turned out nicely.
What you need: (makes enough for two largish bowls)
Half a regular butternut squash, peeled and diced
half a medium russet potato (the squash-potato ratio was roughly 3:1)
2 tbsp ginger, finely minced
1 tbsp garlic, roughly chopped (less or more depending on your taste)
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp red pepper flakes (less or more depending on how spicy you want it)
salt to taste
2 tbsp milk
Chicken/veg stock, or water
What to do:
Melt butter in a saucepan, add ginger and garlic and brown.
Add the squash, potato, pepper flakes and just enough stock/water to cover the vegetables.
Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer till potato and squash are soft. (about 25 mins)
Let cool a bit, then puree in a blender, or with hand blender.
Add milk, and salt to taste.
Return to saucepan and heat.
Enjoy piping hot, with or without bread.
Accha, I have sneezed seven times in the course of writing this post, so I think I shall now go to bed.
I can barely believe it, but it’s my blog’s fourth anniversary. Where did this year go? It seems like just yesterday that I blogged about it turning three. I really need to pay more attention around here!
Thanks for the commiserations and suggestions about repairing the shawl – it’s still keeping me warm, and my friend who took this picture imagined it unravelling all the way as I wrapped it around me. But the malabrigo has fuzzed just enough for it to stay in place, and at some point undoing the centre motif, removing a couple of repeats and then reknitting and grafting it is a distinct possibility.
Talking about the anniversary, I have been wondering a lot about blogging lately, and knit-blogging in particular. Most of my favourite knit-bloggers (not the celebrity ones like the Harlot, or Grumperina, or Franklin) have gone silent, either because they got busy with new jobs or kids, or moved, or switched to Ravelry. I miss them. I tried finding new blogs to follow from a friend’s blogroll. But many of her links too were either broken, or were nearly a year or more old. The latest posts on a few apologized about neglecting their blogs or rued their lack of knitting time and mojo. So many people are tweeting, and while I’ve resisted following people into a 140-character description of fair-isle, I wonder if everyone’s just bored with oohing and aahing over cool photographs, and the online moment of sighing over the magic of blocked lace is now well and truly behind us?
So I ask myself why I blog, but also why I read knit-blogs, especially as an avalanche of work has hit me this semester, and I barely have time to knit, let alone write a journal about it. I know that blogging, either about knitting, food or travel, helps me relate to my own creative expression in a different way – finding an everyday idiom quite different from my academic writing, and a means of honing half-formed thoughts about stuff I like, that keep buzzing around in the brain. Of course I love Ravelry and I love people’s finished projects, but the best part about craftblogs, and knitblogs in particular for me, was a neat mix of process posts or notes about modifications to projects with the a-ha! photo, and bits of the blogger’s life and opinions about this and that. These seem to have vanished, and the Ravelry ‘notes’ section on project pages doesn’t do it for me.
It makes me wonder what the knit-blogs will look like a few years from now, or if they will still exist. On the one hand I cannot imagine not having one, and on the other the idea that this will continue for ever and ever is also a bit odd. Many of those going strong either have a strong non-knitting personal component to them (the Harlot), or have constantly kept it fresh through new crafts (Grumperina – who really made me take a fresh look at crochet), or have books and designs, and tours and tour stories (Franklin, Brooklyntweed, Ysolda). Does the craftblog naturally tire itself out at some point, and have to keep reinventing itself to keep going if it doesn’t have the semi-advertisement/design-showcase aspect to it? Are there interesting and journal-y regular knitblogs out there still going strong that you can recommend?
I saw the film Julie & Julia recently, and while I hadn’t heard of or read the original blog that inspired the film, I knew about the phenomenon of Julia Child largely through a couple of my friends who are excellent cooks. Apart from Meryl Streep the film was a disappointment because I had unwittingly, from the knitblog experience, expected more about the challenges of writing about a craft; about a work in progress; about how the medium of the blog both frees and traps you into consciously or unconsciously shaping your goals accordingly. All it did was make me hungry, and very annoyed that all that butter didn’t make that Julie put on one single pound!!
Midway through I said to the friend I went to see it with – someone should make a film like this on the Yarn Harlot! Her community organizing, her writing, her books, tours, the lakhs she has raised for MSF… even those crazies that keep writing to her spelling doom on judgment day for not being pro-American or whatever. Maybe they could even get Greg Kinnear to star in it!
Previously in this series: Three; Two; (I forgot the first one!); zero.
It’s finally getting a bit chilly here in the evenings, and I brought out a shawl I made two years ago, the North Sea Shawl. I was quite impressed with the Malabrigo lace, for not pilling at all despite two years of good wear. But here’s what I found:
My first thought was that there was a mouse in my closet and that all my woollens had been chewed through over the year that I was away. (No, I did not individually wrap each one in plastic with mothballs in them..) But nothing else has been damaged – the socks, gloves, other shawls and sweaters are all ok. Just this bit. Yet it does look like the yarn has been cut or bitten through in several places in that one area of the shawl, and not worn out. Any suggestions on how to fix it? I don’t have any pink malabrigo left, but even if I were to find some, how does one sew or darn something that already has holes as a design element?
Speaking of durable yarn, I am quite disappointed with a lot of brands I used over the last year. The Cascade Eco that I used for my Ribby Cardi and the handdyed merino for my Cobblestone pullover have pilled quite heavily.
What’s bizarre is that the same merino I used for the aran pullover has barely any fuzz on it. Maybe it’s because the fabric is so tight? I generally tend to go down a couple of needle sizes to get a firm fabric just to avoid pilling to the extent possible, but I guess some yarns still start shedding earlier than other. I have worn both these sweaters quite a LOT, but still, I wish they wouldn’t look so unkempt and old this quickly.
What are your favourite durable yarns? I think I want to make another Ribby Cardi in Blackwater Abbey or one of those scratchy finer gauge Shetlands. I love the pattern, and think it will be worth the maths required to redo the measurements.