Archive for March, 2008

When Life Sucks … Eat Rhubarb & Frog*

MY ‘NIGHTFALL’ CRAPPED TOP

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Yesterday sucked. I had just given in to my jones for Wenlan Chia’s latest book, Twinkle’s Weekend Knits, last Friday.  Since my LYS doesn’t carry any of Twinkle’s yarns and I was supposed to hold four strands of Twinkle Cruise (sportweight) together to make the darling “Nightfall Cropped Top” pictured on the cover of  the book, I decided to use Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece.  I have a ton of it, having overbought for a multi-colored ripple afghan, so I had enough to make the very same color combo that lured me into buying that book.  Cotton Fleece is more like worsted than sportweight, so I did a gauge swatch, a good-sized one, and got gauge holding three strands.  Yay! I was a little unsure about how my, ahem, round figure was going to rock this little item, but figured it would do fine over some of my droopy, shapeless Flax dresses (note to self: must change my look this summer) and maybe even give them some shape.

Worked on the little top all weekend.  Finished it yesterday, and, what a coincidence, I just happened to be wearing one of those shapeless Flax dresses.  Here’s my cute little “Nightfall” top.

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Isn’t it precious?  I was very happy with how this turned out … for about half an hour, as long as it took to get out to Dillard’s at Savannah Mall and start shopping for my daughter’s prom dress.  First the straps started slipping down, then the whole thing began looking like a California mudslide.  I finally realized my “Nightfall” had stretched so badly it would fit an SUV. 😦

So, off to the frog* pond it goes. 

After I got home, I sat down here and started recounting this disaster at length, I’m sure way more than you’d ever want to know.  Phone rings, I slip while hitting SAVE, and lose my whole post.  As I said, yesterday sucked.

We did find a gorgeous prom dress, by Jessica McClintock, and it’s on its way from Dillard’s online.  Here’s a picture from the website.  Isn’t that apple green just scrumptious with the black?

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* To frog: In knitting, to rip out a completed project and give up on it

ABOUT THAT RHUBARB …

Until this spring, I don’t think I had ever eaten rhubarb, much less cooked it.  But it’s in the stores now, so I decided to make the Rhubarb Crisp from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food cookbook.  After the first one ~ and my husband’s complaints about the price of rhubarb ~ I worked up my own little recipe for a variation, Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble.  It’s mostly Martha, but I like it better with the berries, and it so happens they’re way cheaper than rhubarb when they’re in season, which is now. 

This is so easy, just thinking of it made me throw one in the oven for dinner tonight.

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STRAWBERRY-RHUBARB CRUMBLE

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Slice 1 lb. rhubarb into chunks about 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick.  Trim 1 lb. strawberries and combine with rhubarb in a 9×13 baking dish.  Toss with 1 cup sugar and 1/4 cup flour.

In a food processor, pulse 1/2 cup flour and 1 stick unsalted butter, ice cold and cut into pieces, until the ingredients are small clumps.  Add 1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup rolled oats and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and pulse until combined.  Sprinkle over the rhubarb and strawberries.

Bake for about 35 minutes or until the rhubarb and strawberries are bubbly.  Best served with Edy’s No-sugar-added Vanilla Ice Cream, or your diabetes will act up.

A Hand Knit Wedding

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Last Sunday my friends Rachel and Solumon were married on Columbia Square in Savannah, in front of a fountain gushing green-dyed water for St. Patrick’s Day and among several dozen friends and family ~ many of whom were dressed or wrapped in hand-knit items. 

Rachel was the star, of course, and her delicate lace veil-turned-shawl ~ knit by the multi-talented Kristen of our stitching group ~ was the showstopper of the day. 

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About a month ago, after Rachel caught sight of Kristen’s work on the lace piece and admired it, the rest of us got together and raised money to buy it for Rachel’s veil.  As you can see, Rachel was delighted to wear the piece, and it really made her wedding ensemble.  Bravo, Kristen!

But Rachel wasn’t the only one rocking a hand-knit.  With the weather unseasonably nippy, we all hauled out our wraps and sweaters (yay! It’s often too warm here to wear anything knitted), and some even borrowed others’ creations to ward off the chill.  I wore my new ‘Grey Gardens’ wrap (down below in the previous post), and several other gals, such as Sarah (below right) wore the colorful and imaginative creations of Tracy (left).

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Kate (above right), also wearing one of Tracy’s wraps, took many of these pictures (the good ones).  Aren’t all these women gorgeous?  Brooke, Julia and Penny (l-r, below) didn’t wear their hand-knits, but they look so good I had to put them in anyway.  Besides, Julia did all the flowers and decorations for Rachel, and they were wonderful.

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Now, here’s one of my favorite pictures, of Sandy (left) and Jennifer walking home from the wedding.  I swear ~ if I didn’t know better I’d say they were somewhere in Central America on the way to sell their handmade goods at market.  Sandy’s is a many-colored woolen wrap, and Jennifer is wearing a piece she hand-spun, hand-dyed, knitted and trimmed with three charming tiny bells on the bottom of that center back jagged edge.  As a matter of fact, Jennifer ~ our fearless LYS leader ~ surprised us all by wearing not one but two of her own creations, the luscious pink angora shell she has on in the picture on the right.

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Not to forget the gifts Rachel made for her bridesmaids, these pretty sky blue felted buttonhole bags.

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It was a lovely wedding on a beautiful day.  Thank you, Rachel and Solumon, for inviting us and sharing this most special occasion with us. 

AND TO THINK, THE FIRST JOB I EVER HAD IN JOURNALISM WAS WRITING UP WEDDINGS!  SOME THINGS YOU JUST NEVER FORGET.

A Lotta Look

‘Grey Gardens’: Wrapped in a Cloud With an Edge

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Yes, I finished something on time, my ‘Grey Gardens’ wrap.  And the weather cooperated Sunday so I could wear it to my friend Rachel’s “Handknit Wedding” (more on that later this week).  The day was brilliant and sunny, but the temps were cold for Savannah, so I cuddled up in this luscious, oversized angora-and-wool triangle and never even felt the chill.

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As promised, I’m offering the FREE PATTERN on ~ duh ~ my Free Patterns page.  The wrap is knitted in Cascade Cloud 9, Berroco Ultra Alpaca and Crystal Palace Kid Merino, on US 8 needles.  I started out to make Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton’s “Sursa,” which is a big favorite in my knitting group.  But a friend suggested I not double the Cloud 9, which made it a whole new ballgame.  This is a B-I-G knit, i.e., the finished measurement is 96″ by 34″ sans ruffle!  But it’s a dream to work with ~ somehow avoiding the up-your-nose-and-all-over-your-clothes downside of angora ~ and the Cloud 9, which is used for the main, gray part of the shawl, does the most amazing thing: it felts itself as you knit.  Makes the most wondrous fabric.  I did a totally different ruffle, too ~ a fluted chevron thingie that’s a little, well, edgier than a simple ruffle.

My First Human Pattern. Enjoy!

Another Hot, Fierce Tranny Mess

Do you love “Project Runway” on Bravo?  If so, you’ll know what that little subtitle refers to, and you’ll enjoy this skit that ran on “Saturday Night Live” this weekend.  WordPress won’t let me link directly to the NBC clip and it’s not up on YouTube, but here’s a link:

http://www.nbc.com/Saturday_Night_Live/video/#mea=227155

Knitting Junkie All Strung Out

But It’s My Knitting Arm

I tell you.  It’s been a rough seven, almost eight, weeks of NOT not knitting.  When they told me I had a “significant” tear in my right rotator cuff, I agreed right away to a little laparoscopic surgery and six weeks in a sling.  Nobody mentioned nonstop pain or not being able to use my right arm at all.  Oh, the doctor said I could knit, sure.  But he clearly has no idea how many muscles are involved in simply throwing a knit stitch.  So this has been a mighty painful recovery. 

 Just last night I got up at 3 a.m. to take a pain pill.  Half a hydrocodone, the “step-down” dose.  I’ve been holding onto this last bottle as if it’s a life preserver, spending the time I’m not on the drug, well … thinking about the drug.  The other afternoon, I fell asleep with the electronic TENS unit humming away through its four electrodes into the depths of my shoulder, while nestled up against an electric heating pad.  I’m lucky I didn’t get electrocuted.

So it’s with a bit of shame and recovering alcoholic style remorse that I admit I probably brought all this pain on myself.  Even last week, when I vowed to “put down” the needles until I was better … I lasted One. Day.

I’d like to say I have more to show you for all this pain, but, since my last post two weeks ago I have completed this ~ a little set of four neon-colored washcloths for a friend’s kitchen shower.  Sad.  Pitiful.

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The pattern: Grandma’s Favorite Dishcloth

The yarn: Sugar ‘n’ Cream cotton in Hot Green, Hot Blue, Hot Pink and Hot Orange

The needles: US 7

Took one full day of around-the-clock knitting and just about did me in.  But, after my One. Day. of recuperation (have you tried JUST watching TV lately???), I was back up and running, knitting these inordinately long rows for a piece I’m going to surprise you with as soon as I finish it ~ and that will be soon.  Here’s a hint.

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The project involves Cascade Cloud 9, Crystal Palace Kid Merino and Berroco Ultra Alpaca.  I started out loosely following a pattern but soon realized I was off on my own, developing a whole new thing.  Today I accepted that I was not going to be able to finish the project without another ball of the Berroco.  Oh, and that my LYS had had only that one skein when I started out.  Several phone calls around the country, culminating in one to Berroco HQ in Massachusetts, had me getting my LYS owner to call Berroco (while in the carpool lane to pick up her daughter from school) and order one skein to be overnighted to Savannah at a yet-to-be-determined cost.

Did I mention I was a knitting junkie?

I’ll be finishing up this lovely item this weekend and will post the pattern FREE for you here probably Monday, assuming my shoulder doesn’t go into spasms and shut down entirely.

In the meantime …

Don’t Hate Me Because My Town Is Beautiful

Two weeks ago, I started photographing the signs of early spring around town.  Now we’re in full-blown azalea-land, complete with bumblebees, pollen and the continuous drone of a lawn mower somewhere nearby.

The first signs were the budding magnolia trees in the yards of the mansions a few blocks over.

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Here’s a tentative February azalea display right in front of my daughter’s school.  By now I’m sure the avenue is lined with millions of the bright blossoms ~ if the frost of last week didn’t kill them off.

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And a couple more-confident ones today in my own yard.

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Before Global Warming, such beauties saved themselves for a few months longer before appearing ~ that’s why Michael and I named our daughter April, for the most beautiful month of the year.

Here are the delicate Johnny Jump-ups my next-door neighbor has in a window box, along with the brilliant fuchsia geraniums on my front porch.

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And here’s what I finally took down from the young Oklahoma Redbud in my yard.  The tree put out buds this week, so I guess nobody’s coming back to the nest I’ve been watching all winter.  (I added those eggs.)

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I’ll have that pattern up probably Monday ~ it’s not a dog sweater! ~ and the little dog sweater neck lining tutorial on my Free Tutorials page by tomorrow (Friday).

Carry on.