Category Archives: Uncategorized

Jamming in the kitchen

It’s high strawberry season here, and the local strawberries are gorgeous.

hoods

These are Hoods. They are smaller, softer, and sweeter than your grocery store variety of strawberry. They wouldn’t travel well, which is why we just have to enjoy them locally. I bought a half flat of berries to make strawberry jam.
Et voila! I used the reduced sugar version of MCP pectin, which set up nicely.

jam float

If you look at the two jars, you can see that the fruit is floating in the jar on the right, but the fruit in the jar on the left is evenly distributed. I didn’t water process the jar on the left because I was going to use it this week. Hmmmm. Why does the fruit float in my jam? I went on an internet hunt for some answers, and I found these: There was air in the fruit because I chopped it instead of crushing it (no, I only crushed it), or I didn’t cook it long enough for it to be thick enough to keep the fruit from separating (but this would only apply to the long cooking used for jams without added pectin, which mine was not).

I guess I don’t really care WHY the fruit floats; I just want it not to float. It tastes great, but I want it to look pretty as a gift. I don’t want to tell the recipient to stir it to distribute the fruit after opening it. I also want the jam to not have the bubbles from the foam. Here are my options for prettier jam:

1) Add a bit of butter to the jam while cooking, to reduce foaming.

2) Stir and skim for 5 minutes to allow the jam to gel a bit more before before putting it in the jars. The skimming would eliminate some of the foam, which tastes fine but isn’t pretty. I don’t think this stir and skim will keep the fruit from floating, though; the high temperature of the water bath processing keeps the jam more liquid than the non processed jam, and the fruit will still be able to float through the jam until it is cool.

3) Invert the jars a few times as they cool, to move the fruit around as the jam thickens. I think this is going to be the solution to the fruit float. I just have to make jam before midnight so I don’t have to babysit it all night long to do the inversions! Next time I’ll add some balsamic vinegar to make it strawberry balsamic jam. It seems to be the hot new flavor combo around here; I just saw strawberry/honey/balsamic/black pepper ice cream at Salt and Straw.

Just like sweaters; sometimes you have to do things twice to get exactly what you want!

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(please excuse the lazy picture; it’s raining out and gloomy inside!)

I just separated the sleeves from the body on my Raspberry Vodka Lemonade, and tried it on. I’m going to go back and add 4 more rows (2 more YO rows) to make the armscye a tad deeper, and the body just a little bigger. I’m between sizes, and chose to knit the smaller size, but an extra 2 sts on the fronts and 4 sts on the back should give me the fit I want. This pattern is a very fun knit so far, simple enough to multi-task, but enough going on that it’s not boring. That makes it a perfect knit for me.

What’s your perfect knit? Mindless? Follow a chart every moment? Somewhere in between?

Out of my comfort zone

The key to my current project.

needles

Yes, size 15. But at least they’re ebony. I’m not enjoying this as much as I thought I would; something about P2tog tbl is really not very comfortable with giant needles and super bulky yarn. But this pattern was so cute, I had to try. It’s the Leif Slipover by Adrienne Larsen from the winter Interweave Knits. The pattern actually calls for size 17 (12 mm) needles, but gauge is everything, right?

mag pic

I thought I’d get most of it knit this weekend while I’m away, because the yarn is so bulky, but working with charts and multiple P2tog tbl is slowing me down. When your needles are size 15, certain accomodations are required. Stitch markers? How about some yarn ties?

leif

It’s Crafty Moms Weekend, so I’m at the Oregon Coast with 10 of my favorite people, and one of my favorite views outside the window.

beach

It’s been really stormy this weekend, but it cleared enough for a walk today.

jellyfish

I love these little jellyfish dots; they’re about the size of a nickel.

jellydots

A very different view from last week’s!

ala wai sunset close

Oh! One other sighting from last week. We went to Morimoto Waikiki for dinner on a whim, since it was only a block from our hotel. We’d been there in December at CollegeKiddo’s request, but Chef Morimoto wasn’t there. (He was there a week later for the Obamas.) There weren’t any tables available, but there was room at the sushi bar. DH wasn’t wild about sitting at the sushi bar. I thought it would be fun to watch the sushi chef.

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It was Masaharu Morimoto himself! Way cool. Do you watch Iron Chef? CollegeKiddo introduced me to it; it’s a fun show.

sashimi

Beautiful, silky sashimi stacks. Oh, pro tip: Don’t finish your dinner at high end Hawaiian restaurants. The takeaway bags are lovely. Heavyweight paper, lovely chopsticks.

morimoto

Our favorite meal was at Alan Wong’s. The bag isn’t as lovely, but we had the five course tasting menu, and each dish was exquisite. I couldn’t finish!

alan wong

OK, back on topic. Have you knit with big fat needles? Do you like them? Any tips for me, other than taking breaks?

Getaway!

I went on a little getaway last weekend with friends that I met at piano camp in Vermont years ago. We don’t play the piano as much as we used to, but we’re still friends and still get together, even though we’re scattered up and down the west coast. This time we headed further west than usual, to the Big Island of Hawaii.

There were beaches.

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There were spectacular sunsets…

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through rose colored glasses, even. (Really they’re charcoal shade lenses, but they really enhance the pink.)

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We went to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where we saw petroglyphs…

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and old lava flows.

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(Doesn’t this one look like melted faces?)

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(End of the road, apparently)

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The ocean has carved out this arch from the lava rock island. This is the Holei Sea Arch. And Lambert.

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Kilauea is a live volcano!

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(Come closer to the steam and sulfur dioxide! The ring road around the crater was closed. Too much sulfuric gas.)

There were good things to eat…

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and drink.

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(utterly frou frou!)

And there were good friends to share it all.

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But not much knitting!

A bit of Bali

I’ve been looking for a bag that is large enough, but not ridiculously huge, to carry a knitting project and my small purse, and sometimes my laptop, too. I also want it to zip shut so my stuff doesn’t fall out. Also on the wish list: An inside zip pocket so I can find my keys, and a cell phone pocket would be nice. And it has to be pretty. I think this fits the bill.

bali handuk

It’s Lantern Moon’s Bali Handuk Shopper. Lovely! (Note the Lantern Moon 10th anniversary pin on it, too.) I went over to Lantern Moon last week to check out new products for their blog, and this bag came home with me. It’s perfect. Thursday also happened to be Cinco de Mayo, and it was fiesta time at the office. Here’s Jesse, rolling out the cart of chips, salsa, guacamole, and margaritas. Jesse is in charge of the warehouse; he knows where everything is, and makes sure it all gets to the right place.

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Sharon and Joel just came back from Vietnam, and Sharon picked up these candies in the Tokyo Narita airport. She says that the chocolate in the candy isn’t great, but isn’t the packaging awesome? Love it!

candy

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Happy Mother’s Day! Here’s the buzz at our house. I came home from church really hungry and found the guys in the kitchen.

waffle mebbe

They had bought a Belgian waffle iron and surprised me with lunch…after some trial and error. The first one stuck to the iron!

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It all worked out, eventually.

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I love it that they are fearless in the kitchen! Happy Mother’s Day to all moms.

A rose for me in Portland grows…

I had a stellar significant birthday.

Part of it involved a surprise visit from some Royal Rosarians (including the Prime Minister!), the ambassadors of the city of Portland and the mythical Realm of Rosaria. (Portland is the City of Roses.)

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There were ceremonial speeches.

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A rose was planted in my honor.

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I got to shovel dirt.

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Thanks to DH for arranging this very sweet surprise! And thanks to friend Susan for sharing her pictures.

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Obligatory knit content: I was wearing my ruffle tank.

In other news, the Teen has been brewing his own ginger beer at home, resulting in his own 15 minutes of fame. Sweet!

sew cute!

singer 306

I don’t sew a lot, but I have my mom’s old Singer 306 sewing machine from the 1950’s. I love this machine. It’s big, black, heavy, and makes a dreamy machine hum when it runs. I actually learned to sew on a newer Singer that Mom had in the 1970’s, but it didn’t have this great sound.

When I was at Mom’s house last week, I nearly tripped over something on the stair. It had been sitting there for a long time; it was pretty dusty. I decided it needed rescuing. She said I could take it home.

singer 20

It’s a little hand-cranked Singer. Mom didn’t know much about it; she said my dad picked it up somewhere. He loved gadgets. Baba passed away in 2001, and I think the Singer may have been sitting on the stair since before that…

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back

crank
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It looks like it uses the same bobbin and bobbin holder as my big machine. It’s missing a needle. But other than that, it seems to be in good working order. I wonder what it was meant to do? Mending? Just a curio? It feels too solid to be a toy, but maybe it was. Time for a google search!

I poked around online and found this interesting site. It seems that my little Singer is a Singer 20 toy sewing machine. It was made sometime between 1926 and 1950, because it has the threading numbers on it (post 1926) and doesn’t look like the “modern” 1950’s models. Looking around some more, I found that the machine came with C-clamp to fasten it to a table. That makes sense; it would be hard to hold it and sew at the same time. Apparently Singer used to market these toy machines to young girls so they’d remember the Singer name when it was time to buy their own real machine. More about the marketing here, if you’re interested.

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It looks like the little sister of my big machine, and I’m happy to give it a home.

In knitting news, I’ve finally cast on with the Incense for Passiflora. Can you believe I waited more than a month after the yarn arrived? There’s not much to show for it yet. I’ve gone down 3 needle sizes, and I hope I’m getting gauge. I’ll report back soon…

Portland Yarn Crawl this weekend

There’s a mega-yarn event happening this weekend in PDX. It’s a yarn crawl, with sixteen local yarn stores involved. There’s a chance to win an amazing goodie basket (a Lantern Moon basket filled with yarn, needles, books, wool wash, patterns, not sure what else was in there) from each of the stores involved. And a scavenger hunt! The theme of the hunt is “Hats off to Local Designers,” and I have a hat somewhere in the hunt. Go find it!

The event begins this Friday, March 5, and runs through Sunday, March 7. You can find more info about the event at PortlandYarnCrawl.com. You know you want to.

yarncrawllogo

Condolences

I was saddened to hear that Kay Gardiner’s husband Peter passed away last Saturday. My deepest sympathy to Kay and her family. Kay is the co-author of the Mason-Dixon Knitting Blog, and the two Mason-Dixon knitting books. I met Kay and Ann last fall at a book signing at Powell’s. I don’t think she’d remember me, but I loved being able to meet her. I hope that she knows that the blogging community is here sending a collective hug and lifting her up.

Ann suggests knitting something for Afghans for Afghans in remembrance. It must be time to get back to the mitered squares

Knit a purple square

or two, or three…

I’m knitting a few squares for Anne’s Knit A Purple Square project.

squares

These go pretty quickly in worsted weight yarn. The upper left square is the same pattern and yarn as my Checkerboard Scarflet. I measured my scarflet, and it’s 6 inches wide, which meant no refiguring gauge to get a six inch square! The Mitered Square is the same gauge as my garter stitch log cabin blanket; I just counted to find that 27 stitches = 6 inches, so this mitered square starts with double that, or 54 stitches.

The third square, still in progress, is based on Joan Schrouder’s afghan square in XRX’s Great American Afghan. It’s a twirly square! I’m going to rip it out and do it again with fewer rounds of the stockinette/reverse stockinette per stripe, so it can have more stripes within the 6 inches. Instead of 6 rounds, I’ll cut it back to 4 for each stitch pattern. I’ll stop at 5 inches, and add a garter stitch border. It didn’t take long to do (I was standing in line at student/teacher conferences this morning) so it’s an easy re-knit.

How was *your* weekend?

I’ve been thinking about this picture for a week. I didn’t have a camera on my walk last Sunday, and then the rains came. My next chance came yesterday.

ghostleaves

I love the way the ghosts of the leaves remain, long after the leaves are gone.

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The brown leaves caught in the camellia hedge look bittersweet.

I like these late afternoon walks. The slanting light makes everything look slightly magical. There’s not time for a long walk, but it’s pretty invigorating anyway, because of these:

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stair2

The neighborhood is built along a ridge, and there are public staircases between some of the hillside lots. Three are close to my house. They’re like secret passages, and they get the heart pumping!

Central Park Hoodie!

Sure has been quiet around here. I’ll bet you thought I fell off the earth.

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Nah, I’ve just been busy. Excuse the wrinkly sleeves. I’ve been wearing this all day, because it feels good and I love it.

Central Park Hoodie, pattern by Heather Lodinsky, knit in Louet Riverstone worsted, six skeins on US size 6 and 8 needles. Started September 16, finished October 28. A fun knit!

Here’s the back. I made it a couple inches taller than the pattern specified, because I didn’t want it to flatten my hair. I continued the cable up the hood, because I liked it.

elf

Somewhere along the way, I became a hooker. The Yarn Harlot wrote a post about stretchy necklines that aren’t bound off, just like this one. Of course I read the post after knitting the hood. She recommends crocheting a slip stitch crochet line across where the bind off should be, to stabilize the stretchiness of the fabric. As you can see, it left a little line on the outside, but no more than a bind off and pick up would have left.

hook hood

Here’s what it looks like on the inside.

hooked

It took two trips to the Button Emporium to get this finished. Here are the buttons I chose first, but was swayed away by the beauty of another. When I started to sew the others on, I could see that they were too heavy, weight-wise, and would make the button band too droopy. So it was back to the Button Emporium to get the original pick. They were closed on Sunday and Monday, so it’s been a long wait to finish.

buttons

It’s hard to see the detail on the buttons; I had to underexpose the pictures because they’re so shiny!

button

Here’s the other button, actually a smaller version of it. I really love the way they look with this yarn, and I have a leftover skein that’s going to be something that needs them!

button flower

All in all, I love this sweater. I think I’m going to be wearing it a lot. The sleeves are a little long, so I’m wearing them turned them up at the cuff. In my chilly office I can uncuff them and they’re kind of like fingerless gloves, so they may get to stay that long. Or I may decide to cut them off and refinish them, and you know I can!