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.