Thursday, February 28, 2008

I finished my apron for the Sassy Apron Swap with a mere 2 days to spare. I'm not usually keen on February, and in the past I've been a tiny bit snarly on Leap Day, but I'm very glad of the extra day this year since it allows me to feel virtuous and, dare I say it, smug, because I'll be sending my apron package out tomorrow, April 29th, an entire day ahead of the deadline. I'll be honest and admit that I'll also be sending my nephew's birthday card out several days after the happy occasion, but as I frequently neglect birthday cards entirely, I think I can chalk this one up in my favor as well. Am I not virtue personified?

Tonight's dinner was a spectacular hit. Red cabbage braised in wine, from the Fields of Greens cookbook, maple-glazed pork shoulder roast from the March 2003 Cook's Illustrated, and a buttery, peppery, soft polenta that I improvised. Just the thing to console me when it's cold outside and in and I've run out of chocolate. The wine I bought for braising is quite nice for drinking as well, and most consolatory.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

This lovely alpaca yarn was going to be a seamless sweater with a circular, fair-isle yoke for Finch. I got the yarn at Sea Needles in Bethany Beach, Delaware, and after knitting up scads of swatches I've concluded that the yarn really wants to be a lacy scarf. My lacy scarf. I've never knit for myself until this year, but I have a scrumptious blanket on the needles por moi and now plans for this scarf. I'm almost certainly going to knit it up in Feather and Fan, in thin stripes at either end and the middle bit in the oatmeal color. The green is a lot prettier in person, a sort of sage color, and I'm tempted to order more of it and use that for the solid color. I'll knit some swatches soon, but with my current backlog of projects (apron for the sassy apron swap, Robin's cable sweater of doom, Wren's lace cardi, Finch's striped pants, cranes and balloons for the origami tree, a turtle stuffy just for fun, my blanket...) I don't see me wearing this scarf until next fall. Unless. Unless I take it with me in a few weeks when we go to Rehoboth, just a few miles from where I bought the yarn. I've been feeling sad, mad, and bad lately, and now, as I hold the image of me looking out to sea wearing or even knitting on my lace scarf, I'm comforted. Well, I suppose the thought of getting away from the city and basking in the glory of the seaside is comfort enough, even if I do my duty and bring the children's knitting with me instead!

Ah, the sea, the sea! When you read that, do you think of Iris Murdoch, Xenophon's army, both, or neither? Until I discovered Iris Murdoch, I'd have answered 'neither'. The Murdoch novel won the Booker Prize I believe, and is excellent. I haven't read Xenophon (I'm nothing like that erudite, but Murdoch certainly was, and it's where she got the title.) But it's a romantic sort of phrase so I looked it up awhile back. Xenophon helped lead the Greek army, some 10,000 strong back north to the Black Sea after they'd been defeated by the Persians. They'd been defeated and were deep in unknown and enemy territory and the thing was next to impossible, but they managed it, and Xenophon describes the soldiers' joyous cries of 'the sea, the sea!' in his 'Persian Expedition.' An even more romantic version asserts that, when the Greek army first heard the roar of the waves, they mistook it for the enemy army until they came to the edge of the cliff and finally saw the sea, upon which sight they shouted joyously. Either way, I'm sure it was a relief to them, although they still had to book passage on a ship and sail home, battle-weary and defeated. Serves them right for invading another country I suppose.

dinner tonight: apple-sage turkey burgers topped with sweet onion jam, buttered fava beans

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I blogged myself into a corner with that one didn't I? Glorious and resplendent indeed. I think I was delirious when I wrote that last entry. Certainly I was in the grip of a nasty contagion that is only just beginning to release it's wicked hold on my family. Justin is still suffering, but I don't count him since he so seldom gets sick. That's entirely unfair but still I discount him and his suffering.

I did manage to plan some future finished objects that I hope to imbue* with a measure of glory and splendor*. The first one is our family craft project for February/March. I say that as though 'our family craft project' is an old accustomed habit but to tell the truth the inspiration just hit me a mere few days ago. But I think we're going to pull this one off, especially since I have projects for the next few months already dreamed up, and they're all fairly simple and low-cost.

So, for the next few weeks we're all going to be folding paper cranes from 6" origami paper, spare wrapping paper, old newspapers, and maybe even some starched calico. I'm not sure if I can manage that last one. When we have lots and lots** we're going to hang them from our dogwood tree and leave them as long as they last or until they really start to look grungy. I think it'll be gorgeous -- all those colors fluttering in the breeze (if it pleases March to send us breezes and not to send us gales) and serving as a sort of promise token for the blossoms that will follow in April.

*I'm normally obedient in matters of spelling but it annoys me not to spell imbue with an 'e' fore and aft, instead of just aft, and I think splendor with a 'u' would be more splendid. Thuslyish: 'Embue with splendour...'

** Here, 'lots and lots' probably means upwards of 300 cranes, but it's hard to say. I think we'd need an outrageous amount for it to really look good.

Thursday, February 07, 2008


I don't normally name my sweater 'designs' because most of them are simply variations on Elizabeth Zimmerman's recipe for seamless raglan or yoke sweaters. I plug in stitch patterns, play with color, and modify the shaping a bit, but I'm happy to have such a versatile formula for sweaters that allows me to avoid seaming. Lately I've been learning to sew, both by hand and machine, and have even practiced several seams for knitwear, but I think this will remain my workhorse formula for the children's sweaters.

I've named Robin's future sweater 'Vexing' because it is absolutely killing me!! Oh the drama! The heartache! The frustration! The tears! Okay, I haven't cried yet, but probably that's because I'm so perfectly controlled and even-tempered. The sweater is vexing because the 'oxo' cables cross on every 1st and 3rd row, and the gull-stitch crosses only on the 4th row. Yes, I could have designed it differently, but when I made my gauge swatch, this really seemed like the best rhythm. It really did. Truly.

Now, I can read my knitting well enough to knit this without counting my rows or anything equally dreary, but I can't quite manage to knit this one while reading, watching television, or helping Wren with her math. Or rather, I can, but only if I'm okay with tinking that damn cable panel every few rows and occassionally frogging several rounds at once. Which I'm not okay with, because, honestly, I was being sarcastic when I called myself perfectly controlled and even-tempered. I'm about half-daft at the best of times.

The obvious solution is to save this knitting for my quiet-time and be all zen and focused with it. But I'm a mom. I've had 4 brain-cell-depleting pregnancies and I have 3 beautiful but crazy-making children. Also I homeschool. Also I frequently listen to the radio and/or read the news. Also, well, you get the picture. I multitask, and I fret, and I obsess about things. I don't do zen. This is where podcasts come in! And Pandora! Although, I have to say, that if Pandora plays Fairport Convention's "Don't Know Where I Stand" on my folk station even one more time I'll probably have a major depressive episode. That song just makes me think of a leftover hippy, with long gray hair, granny glasses sliding down her nose, hips swaying as she wanders, lost and lonely around her cat-pee smelling basement apartment in the city with dead and dying philodendrons hanging dejectedly in their sad little macrame hangers. She's sipping chartreuse out of a mug from her pottery-making days and wishing she had some marijuana and wondering where everybody went.

Forgive me! That was depressing. Next update will feature a finished object, resplendent and glorious, as well as bird-sightings, tempting menus, and happy thoughts.

dinner tonight: canned soup and sliced Wensleydale cheddar for the kids, leftover pasta for Justin, and nothing for me thanks, I'm wretchedly sick.