Saturday, June 30, 2007

Is it Time for Tea?

One thing Mr. Puffy is very firm about is taking a break from the stresses and concerns of daily living with a nice cup of tea and treat. Actually, Mr. Puffy doesn't get any tea -but he does enjoy a special cookie at tea time - and so do I!

My special treat today is a very simple almond cake. Actually it isn't really a cake (or a cookie for that matter) it's more like a torte with a moist center. As knitters are often bakers, I'll share the recipe for those interested.

Almond Delight
Pre-heat oven to 350 F.

1 C. sugar (extra fine white granular sugar)
Zest of 1 Lemon
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 C. all purpose Flour
1/4 C. almond flour
1/4 tsp. salt
8 Tbs. (1 cube) sweet butter (unsalted) - melted
Garnish: sliced almonds and sugar crystals

1. Prepare 9" cake tin (butter and flour to prevent sticking).
2. Combine sugar and lemon zest.
3. Add eggs (one at a time).
4. Use spoon to stir in extracts, flours (all purpose and almond flour), and salt.
5. Incorporate melted butter with gentle folding.
6. Pour into prepared cake tin and sprinkle with garnish (sliced almonds and sugar crystals).
7. Bake 25 to 30 minutes.

N.B. There is no "rising" agent - and as a result the finished product is not going to look like a "cake." Generally you can tell when it's done by smell and gently pressing on the top (it should have a slightly springy texture). It keeps well for several days in the cake tin (I just cover it with tin foil) and leave on the counter top.

Aside. The top picture shows a creamer jug with a tiny sheep sitting on the handle. I brought this back from our trip to New Zealand a few years back and have really enjoyed using it. Since this is a knitting blog, I thought you might enjoy the picture!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Socks - They Aren't Just Black and Blue Anymore

Well, yes, they are a little loud. Some might even say garish bright. But I know Mr. Puffy will wear them with pride! Although he did ask if the next pair could be black, white, and tan. Picky. Picky. Picky.

These are the Bird of Paradise Socks - one of the sock kits from Sundara Yarn's Sock Club. I really enjoyed knitting these socks precisely because the yarn was so bright and cheerful. However, I'm not sure how much wear they will get unless Mr. Puffy decides he really likes them. Kidding aside, Sundara's sock club is really a treat and I'm glad I participated for the 3 kits this past winter. They arrived beautifully packaged and the yarn was nice quality. The kits are a great way to experiment with different sock patterns - something I'm hooked on ever since knitting the IK Embossed Leaves pattern (socks gifted to a good friend). So what socks are next? I just so happen to have some handpainted Shelridge Farm Soft Touch Ultra - which also so happens to be the yarn recommended for the Monkey Socks by the talented Cookie. They are already on the needles.

Monday, June 25, 2007

And the Real Knitters in the Family Are.....

There is no doubt about it. My mother and aunt are the real knitters in the family. I recently spent some time visiting my mom and took these pictures of her wearing some of their handiwork. The multi-colored sweater was knit by my aunt Jean who lives in England (where virtually all of my mother's family still live). The green sweater was knit by my Mother who lives in Santa Barbara, California, where I was fortunate enough to grow up. I wish you could see the finishing work - it is just amazing. Oh, did I mention my Mom loves her garden - I wish I had inherited her green thumb!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Hopeful's First "Outing"

This is the pattern Hopeful by Jenna Adorno. I finished this top a few months ago, but this is the first chance I've had to wear it. It's a very comfortable design and I like that it has a real style to it. Forgive the "stewardess" pose below - but I wanted a better picture of the fit (FYI if you "click" on the picture it will enlarge it and show the details better). Geez, for someone who spends a great deal of time at the beach I sure am white. Where's a bucket of self-tanning lotion when you need it??? I used the yarn it was designed for (Rowan Wool Cotton) in Poster Blue. Might knit another, nuff said.

I'm currently working fast and furiously on "Fifi" French Girl pattern using Rowan Calmer (see below) and know that I must accept the truth. I am an Rowanette. I do dig the Rowan yarns. If I'm not using a handpainted yarn - odds are I'm knitting with some Rowan yarn. Great colors, good quality, nice feel. With a little luck I'll be wearing Fifi next weekend on our trip to Chicago. A sad trip that is to dedicate the tombstone that will mark the passing of DB's mother on January 17, 2006.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

I "Felt" It - You Should Too!

These are the "felted" slippers from Knit 2 Together. I LOVE these slippers - they are super comfy, fun and bright. They are also a great style for a milder climate like So Cal - easy to slip on and off - and not too hot. Now that I think about it - these are the most comfortable slippers I've ever worn! I followed the pattern - exactly - down to using Manos Del Urugay yarn (these pictures don't do justice to the colors which are gorgeous). If you are in the mood for instant gratification it doesn't get better than this - weekend project - no problem.

As you can see, Mr. Puffy is enjoying another "hand knit" holiday at the seashore. Cocktails anyone?

Monday, June 4, 2007

A Modern Take on Gothic

Yep, you recognize this shawl. It's Sivia Harding's Diamond Fantasy using Fleece Artist merino sock yarn. I wish I could convey with pictures the feelings that I had when I first blocked this shawl (approximately 2 years ago). It was my first experience blocking lace and I couldn't believe the metamorphis of a tiny bundle of yarn to what looked like a huge spider's web.

I was also captivated by the very Gothic feel of this shawl. Very cool. I immediately knit another in Koigu. So why am I blocking this shawl again? Did I mention it was merino wool - because merino wool doesn't hold a block for too long. It's a good idea to plan on reblocking your merino wool shawls at least once a year. Otherwise you get this creepy feeling that you are getting bigger......

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Hot off the Needles

Finally, I have finished Rusted Root, by Zephyr Knits. But mine's more of a Spring Root - because I like spring colors better than fall colors (to wear, I mean). I began this top in February or March but this project stalled a bit because I didn't really enjoy working with the Cotton Fleece (the yarn suggested in the pattern). However, I'm glad I stuck with it because I really like the design of this top. I may even knit it again, but using a yarn like Karabella Aurora 8 or something similar. For those of you considering knitting this top - be forwarned that it runs on the small size. I swatched and still have a tighter fit than I expected. Only modifications that I made were to ignore the side decreases and to add stitches at the base of the arm when finishing the sleeves. All in all a very wearable top and a great wardrobe staple.