Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Circle Game and New Fall Favorites

I am wearing a circular shawl which is usually knit and used as a blanket, as indeed this one will be. But I wanted to show that it can also be worn as a shawl and that it makes an elegant cape.  This style of knitting is very old school and as much as I love the modern designs I have a strong love of period knitting because then you truly create something that can't be bought off the rack and you won't see everyone else wearing.  And as you get older, as I am, you will find that wearing garments that express your personality are the most complimentary. 

While this may look like a complicated knit, it really isn't.  The design is by Jared Flood and it was a pleasure to knit and practically flew off the needles.  The only (and very easily remedied) tricky part is the cast on which is a circular cast on.  I used the tutorial by Techknitting for the disappearing loop cast on and it may take an attempt or two but you will find that it does work and brilliantly so. 

The title of this post "The Circle Game" is a reference to the song by Joni Mitchell from her album Ladies of the Canyon.  Many people believe that the album title is a reference to Topanga Canyon (where I live) which was and still is a hippie enclave but it is actually Laurel Canyon that she is referring.  It's a song about time and its passing and how each of us pass through a variety of seasons in our life with everything being connected by a single point. Knitting helps me to feel connected to my family past (my father pictured below made 2 spinning wheels for his mother, my grandmother, that she used to make woolen socks and garments for her family living on a farm in Minnesota) and a tradition that has been practiced for centuries with timeless beauty and utility.  One reason I blog is to be part of the continuum of this tradition by sharing my projects and hopefully providing ideas and inspiration.

Particulars:  Girasole by Jared Flood (Brooklyn Tweed); Twisted Fiber Art yarn: Arial 1020 yrds (extra large evolution - colorway Vintage) + Petite Skein in Cork (120 yrds); US 5 needles.  Because I began with less yarn that the pattern recommends I used one size smaller needle than the pattern recommended and I also eliminated 1 pattern repeat of Chart E (i.e. I worked 2 repeats instead of 3 repeats of Chart E).  With these modifications I almost made it with the yarn I had but came up short by about 100 stitches left on the Bind Off.  Fortunately Twisted Fiber Arts has anticipated this problem and sells mini skeins that match each color on either end of the spectrum and so I was able to complete my bind off with a matching color.  Another Twisted Fiber Arts project can be found in my post Peach Cobbler and a Boo Knits Shawl which is supposedly the same yarn but feels a lighter weight.  If you would like to see another Brooklyn Tweed design I refer you to my recent sweater post featuring the Little Waves Sweater that I noticed Yarn Harlot also chose for her winter sweater.

A special thanks to my Dad for helping me show off this shawl!  He's a good sport in every way.  I'm looking forward to next weekend when we are taking my parents to see John Cleese, an English comedian, perform at the Arlington Theater in Santa Barbara!  My mom loves to laugh and being English I think that she will have a good time although I really don't know what to expect.

New Fall Favorites, of a food variety 

Apple Pie with Brown Butter Oat Streusel

So far this Fall I've made a few of my classic recipes (i.e. Pumpkin Bread with Walnut ToppingPumpkin Scones with Maple Glaze and a Nantucket Tart) but I've also discovered some new treats and the first is a streusel topped apple pie!  One bite and I knew I was in heaven.  The combination of brown sugar, apples and crunchy strudel topping is a winner in my book. I used the recipe from Bake from Scratch Magazine (November 28, 2016).  I did substitute my own pie crust recipe (shared below) and I also reduced the amount of butter and sugar in the filling and streusel but otherwise followed the recipe.  I did find that I had to bake mine a lot longer than the suggested recipe time but then I like my apples very soft in a pie.  If you love apple pie but aren't in the mood for streusel then you might try my classic apple pie recipe which Steve actually prefers.  While on the topic of pies, with Thanksgiving so near I'm drooling over the thought of our Thanksgiving day pumpkin pie that Steve has requested be made with a graham cracker crust this year.  Maybe I'll even bake a pecan pie too. So many pies and so little time!

Basic 9" Pie Crust (single)

1 1/4 Cups all purpose Flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. white sugar
1/4 Cup sweet (unsalted) butter - chilled
1/4 Cup Crisco vegetable shortening
Approx. 2-3 Tbs. ice cold water/white vinegar mixture (fill a small bowl with ice water and splash in some white vinegar to the mixture - you will be adding the water/vinegar mixture 1 Tbs. at a time until the dough forms)


1. Combine flour, salt, and sugar.
2. Cut in butter and shortening.
3. Add water/vinegar mixture 1 Tbs. at a time. Use a fork to blend/mix just until the mixture forms a dough.
4. Divide dough in half and wrap each portion in wax paper – let rest in refrigerator while you prepare filling.

Bake according to pie filling instructions.

My other new treat this Fall was discovering how easy it is to make homemade soft pretzels!  I used a recipe that also came from the same November 2016 issue of Bake from Scratch (recipe provided free on their website) and they are amazing!!!  These are the real deal and you will love, love, love them! They remind me of the soft pretzels we had as children whenever we visited Solvang, California. They are usually sold with little pots of soft cheddar cheese topping for dipping, but as I didn't have any soft cheddar I tried them with goat cheese encrusted with black pepper, which was different but nice.  That being said next time I'm buying the soft cheddar cheese to go with them. The recipe calls for dark beer and I used a Belgium Blond ale (Leffe) which was a good choice. Other than that my only substitution was to use real pretzel salt instead of kosher salt and to make my pretzels smaller (16 instead of 8).  Try these you won't be sorry!

Until next time be well and love well and enjoy all the colors and flavors of this and every season of your life!   


SuzB said...

How random, I too have girasole on a set of needles (currently set aside whilst I complete some gift knitting for Christmas). I'm one row off completing chart can and is a really lovely pattern to follow. I also really enjoy knitting circular shawl patterns though not being a shawl wearer, I'm using a thicker yarn and making it a really snuggly blanket.

Bridget said...

Lovely knit as usual.

I am really jealous that you are going to see John Cleese - I hope you'll enjoy it!

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness. What a gorgeous shawl. I am especially in love with those colors. I remember Jared blogging about how he created this design many years ago. Haven't trawled Ravelry lately regarding Girasole but I can't imagine a better color combination. Thank you very much for the recipes. I am not much of a baker these days, (although I love the idea of those pretzels) but recently noticed a baking magazine new to me on the newsstand called "Sift". Loved the name. Hope it turns out to be as good as it's name. This was an especially exciting post for me, Claudia. My head is always turned by the color red (and maybe pretzels). Chloe

Claudia Bugh said...

Thank you guys for taking the time to leave a comment! I really enjoy reading them. Chloe you are right, red is a fabulous color and I don't know why I don't knit more in this color scheme. For some reason I tend to always find myself buying green yarn even though green really isn't my best color. I hope you enjoy Sift magazine, I'll keep an eye out for it :) Wishing you a happy Thanksgiving ~