Sunday, February 2, 2014

Winter Blues Skirt and Morning Coffee

This skirt has more of an urban edge to it than most of the projects I knit.  But then even us rural Topanga people occasionally visit the big bad city of Los Angeles.  Although, not often, if I can possibly avoid it.  I shouldn't really say that because I am fortunate to live as close to Los Angeles as I do. If there is anything you are interested in Los Angeles is sure to have a club, store, support group, and more groupies than you can possibly fathom.  What you thought was a weird fetish of yours is probably hugely popular here and taken to levels you haven't yet begun to imagine.  Another nice thing is the amazing amount of talent (actors and musicians) that lives in the area and every once in a while Steve and I enjoy going out to a show. And getting dressed up to go out brings me back to my skirt.

I like knitting skirts and this is the third one that I've knit.  If you are going out at night they are a great chance to wear funky tights, show off cute shoes, and make a nice change from the jeans that I typically wear.   I actually don't knit a lot of "clothing" and that is simply because they don't get worn enough to justify the time, effort and expense compared to accessories. But the skirts (and sweaters) that I have knit I am very pleased that I have.  If you haven't yet knit a skirt I really think you should consider giving it a try.

Particulars:  Winter Blues Skirt (loosely based on the Seaport Skirt a design by Kristina McGowan; pattern from Modern Top-Down Knitting); 3.5 skeins Madelinetosh tosh DK (fathom colorway); US 7 circular needles.  Because I was concerned that the skirt might be too heavy as designed for my climate I eliminated a lot of the cables from the design and made it more a traditional A-line skirt.  And, even with many fewer cables, it is still a very warm skirt which makes it exactly perfect for what I had in mind as even in Southern California we occasionally have cold wintery days. But it looks substantially different than the original design which I really liked too and if I had used a lighter weight yarn I definitely would have knit it as designed.  Other skirts I've knit are: Carmine blogged as: Winter Wool Skirt and Bell Curve blogged as: My Retro-Fitted Skirt.

Morning Cup of Coffee ~

You can't imagine the passion I have for coffee.  And lately my morning coffee has been elevated to a new level of pleasure.  Granted I do have to wear goggles, gloves and use a bunsen burner but these are small inconveniences for someone like me dedicated to achieving a perfect brew. Kidding aside my morning cup of coffee is extremely fast, fun, and easy and it's all thanks to my newly acquired and never to be parted from Aeropress coffee device.  As a bit of background I don't have many expensive vices so don't feel badly spending money for a fabulous cup of coffee in the morning and this winter it has become somewhat of a quest of mine.  So let me fill you in. First, if you haven't heard of the Aeropress alternative to the french press it's a much faster and better alternative for a single cup of home brew and you don't have to just take my word for it there are legions of positive reviews on Amazon.  But the device you use to brew your coffee is only part of the equation.   The other critical part is your coffee bean and over the last few months I've been conducting my own informal taste testing and have found the following coffees are my favorites, so far, listed in order of preference:

Kona Medium Roast - Blue Horse.  $32.00/16 oz.  cost per ounce: $2.00 (pictured above)
Jamaican Blue Mountain - Trader's Joe  $19.99/13 oz.  cost per ounce: $1.54
House Blend - Intelligentsia  $14.00/12 oz  cost per ounce: $1.17
House Blend - Stumptown Coffee  $14.25/12 oz cost per ounce: $1.19 (Los Angeles based)
Kona Dark Roast - Blue Horse  $32.00/16 oz.  cost per ounce: $2.00
Cafe Domingo - Peet's Coffee $13.95/12 oz.  cost per ounce: $1.16

Honorable Mention:
French Roast Classic - Peerless Coffee $10.95/16 oz  cost per ounce: $.68 (a popular brand served in many cafes in my home town Santa Barbara, California (shown in the picture below).
Ebony Pearls - Raven's Brew $12.25/12 oz cost per ounce  $1.02 (I discovered this brand while in Alaska)

As far as brewing techniques using your Aeropress there are a number of styles including a cute flip method demonstrated on Vimeo. But whether you flip or not I think is irrelevant.  To make a 10 oz mug of coffee I simply use one heaping aeopress scoop (1 aeropress scoop = 2 tablespoons which means I use slightly more than 2 tablespoons) of beans that I finely grind.  I employ a very slow pour of hot (not boiling) water (30 seconds or longer) and fill the tube up to around the "2" marker. I then gently (almost a caress - it is a fetish after all) fold/mix the coffee and water with no more than 5 or 6 folds max .  I then immediately begin to press at a rate of no less than 40 and up to 60 seconds.  See how easy that is!!!  Within seconds you have a wonderful cup of home brewed coffee.  Alas, I'll concede it's possible that I've thoroughly confused you and, if I have, just watch some of the pros demonstrate it on youtube and you'll see how easy it actually is.

Until next time, be well and love well and stay warm this winter by drinking your own wonderful home brewed coffee! After all a little of what a person fancies does them good.  Sage advice from my mother who will laugh to know that I am dispensing it.


gMarie said...

what a beautiful skirt! I love Mad Tosh - I can only imagine how fabulous it is to wear as a skirt. And those polka spotted tights - fabulous! The coffee photos look fantastic - but the rest confused me. Hope you are well this Winter! g

Tracy said...

The skit is BEAUTIFUL, Claudia--so stylish. I has a very now feel, but timeless too in a way... LOVE the sapphire color! I've not knit a skirt or really much "clothing" either. My knit or crochet projects are usually accessories or other small things. I must tell my hubby about the Aeropress--he's the java addict in our house, and he would love one of those. ;o) Happy Winter Days ((HUGS))

Carolyn said...

Nice skirt Claudia, love the colour, but tell me, did you line it ? I have knitted a couple of skirts but have always had to line them or they ride up

PenCraft said...

For the best grind, I have found no machine that exceeds my Zassenhaus hand grinder. :) Yes, it is a little more work to sit down and grind the coffee by hand, but the uniformity and fineness of the grind makes up for it. Besides, it is a ritual. :) I have the knee mill and after much searching, found it here:

I had to run brown rice through it a few times to break it in; but after I did that, it works so well. Highly recommended.

betty said...

I love the skirt! I have the book, and I was considering the skirt pattern but didn't want to do that many cables. I never thought about just eliminating some of them! It's a great idea and I think the skirt looks more interesting that way.

SissySees said...

What a stunning skirt! I might be motivated to knit again...

And the guys at work make fun of me because I won't drink from the pot and only use my Keurig... ;)

Hilary said...

Oh my goodness, your description of Los Angeles is so spot on! Me, 1998-2003: American girl of Swedish descent, obsessed with all things Greek (modern and ancient), also interested in art, fashion, dancing, and science fiction. Somehow this mix found the PERFECT niche in LA with a group of friends I have yet to replicate anywhere else. (Not that you can "replicate" friends...or that I don't love my non-LA friends...but NO ONE "gets" me like my LA friends.) It is my favorite thing about LA -- no matter who you are, you can find a niche.
And I absolutely love your skirt! I've yet to knit a skirt myself, but you're making me want to! Those cables are soooo beautiful!

Gail said...

Absolutely stunning Claudia! I do envy your knitting ability.....just beautiful! I too, have a coffee passion! Especially the first cup of the day......mmmm I can hardly wait for morning to come. Hugs to you!

Willow said...

That is a beautiful skirt! I wish I wore skirts enough to justify knitting one. The color is one of my faves.

Coffee? Oh yes! I am def. becoming a coffee snob. No Aeropress yet, I know what I like!

Renee said...

Stunning skirt! Madelinetosh is one of my all time favs.
I adore the smell of coffee but don't drink it anymore, though will have to try some of your recommendations for Don.