Category Archives: cat

Piano and Pinot 11.0

My home was filled with gorgeous music on Saturday evening. The eleventh annual Piano and Pinot Fun-Raiser brought together three musicians, 16 guests, and wine and dessert. I don’t play my piano much these days, so it’s nice to hear it played by someone else. For this event, I’m in charge of the venue, a freshly tuned grand piano, and dessert.

We had two intermissions; the first one featured this simple dessert:

Mini blueberry cheesecake shooters. I adapted The Pioneer Woman’s Cherry Cheesecake Shooters recipe, and topped it with my blueberry compote. These mini wine tasting glasses hold just enough, and look fabulous. Updated recipe is at the bottom of this post.

The second intermission featured a buffet of lemon bars, shortbread, fruit salad, and my favorite sensational dessert, a flourless chocolate cake with chocolate glaze.

Untitled

This cake is so good that the gluten free status is just a bonus. This is easy, elegant, and delicious! Recipe is also at the bottom of this post.

Biscuit was very well behaved.

Yadi wanted lemon bars. I had to put him in the back room where he sang along(!).

It was a lovely evening among friends.

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Blueberry Cheesecake Shooters
adapted from the Pioneer Woman’s Cherry Cheesecake Shooters

Make the blueberry compote the night before, and refrigerate.

For the blueberry compote:
2.5 cups frozen blueberries, unthawed
1/3 C sugar
1/3 C water
1 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp pectin plus 1 tsp sugar

Combine 1.5 C berries with the sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Simmer over medium heat, stirring often, until berries burst, about 10 minutes. Add remaining berries and lemon juice. Continue stirring; cook until compote thickens, about 8 minutes. That wasn’t thick enough for me, so I stirred in a tsp of pectin combined with a tsp of sugar at the very end and cooked for another minute. Perfect. Cool, then cover and refrigerate.

For the cheesecake (same day, or night before):
1.5 cups finely crushed graham crackers (12 whole crackers, crushed)
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 8 ounce packages cream cheese
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup sliced almonds

I used graham cracker crumbs, already crumbly, which is a great time saver.

Place graham cracker crumbs in a large mixing bowl. Gradually add the melted butter and mix until crumbs begin to cling together. Spoon this “crust” into serving dishes: mini wine glasses, wine glasses, whatever you’d like.

Combine cream cheese,sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla extract in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whip until fluffy. Place mixture into a resealable plastic bag, cut off a corner and pipe mixture over graham cracker crumbs.

Spoon blueberry compote over the cheesecake mixture. Top with sliced almonds just before serving. Enjoy!

Yield: 24 servings in mini wine glasses, fewer if you’re using larger dishes. I used two sets of Libbey’s mini wine tasting glasses. They’d also be cute in little half cup canning jars.

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Flourless Chocolate Torte with Chocolate Glaze

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 19 minutes

Ingredients:

6 ounces coarsely chopped semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Glaze:
2 ounces coarsely chopped semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoon milk
1 1/2 teaspoons Agave syrup or honey
1/8 teaspoon vanilla

Fresh raspberries for garnish, 1/2 pint (about 30 berries)

Preheat oven to 350°F
Line the bottom of a 9 inch round cake pan with parchment paper and spray the paper with non-stick cooking spray.

Melt 6 ounces chopped chocolate and butter in a saucepan over medium low heat. Stir until chocolate and butter are melted and smooth.

Add sugar and salt and reduce heat to low. Cook while stirring for about one minute, until sugar starts to dissolve.

Remove pan from heat. Whisk in eggs, one at a time. Whisk in vanilla.

Use a mesh sieve to sift cocoa into mixture. Whisk until batter is smooth.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for about 19 minutes. (I check mine at 15, first.) The center of the cake should be just firm to the touch; do not overbake.

Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Invert cake onto serving plate.

Glaze:
Melt 2 ounces of chopped chocolate and 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a small saucepan. Remove pan from heat. Add milk, agave syrup OR honey, and vanilla and stir until smooth. Cool glaze for about 5 minutes.

Pour glaze in the middle of the cake. Spread over the cake, allowing glaze to run down the sides of the cake. Garnish with raspberries around the edge.

Serves 16

adapted from http://glutenfreecooking.about.com/od/dessertsandsweets/r/flourlessgfcake.htm

Summer knitting reckoning: Knit, or not?

Oh, the siren song of a new project! It’s so easy to be seduced away from the current ones, isn’t it?

I like to have two projects at any given time. One is usually a design project I’m working out, and it stays at home. The other is a simple knit that I can take to social occasions, or traveling. Usually the design project turns into the take-along knit, because that’s the kind of thing I like to design. Simple but elegant.

Right now I have five projects on my needles. That’s probably too many, so here are my reasons for not working on them…

This is the Nymphaea shawl sample that I’m knitting for our fall retreat. It’s a simple, rhythmic knit with beads every fourth row. This was great travel knitting on a trip to St. Louis last week; it’s simple enough to knit on planes, even with beads. I was planning to finish it in time to use as a promo for the retreat when registration opens August 1, but clearly it won’t be done by then.

I have a non-gradient sample of it already, so I could continue to knit this gradient version at the retreat, using it to demonstrate techniques. I made a spreadsheet to figure out how to distribute my three different sets of beads (I love spreadsheets!), so it’s all planned out. Check!

This is a shawl that I was knitting for a design proposal. It’s simple and lovely and fun to knit. I was just going to make a swatch, but it was so much fun that I didn’t want to stop knitting it. I got all the way to the bottom edging, where I need the stitch markers. Note my symmetrical marker setup. This, plus the aforementioned spreadsheet, probably tells you a lot about the way I think! This design didn’t get chosen, which means I don’t need to finish it right now. Check!

This is the beginning of a white linen top that I’m making up as I go. I want it to have a lace pattern at the hem, a split back, and otherwise be a pretty basic T shape. But honestly, I don’t know if I have the time or inclination to actually knit an entire top in fingering weight linen right now. I don’t think it will be finished for this season, so I’m declaring it a backup project…for next year. Check!

The blue/brown shawl I was knitting in Scotland? It’s in permanent time out. I didn’t like how the design was turning out, but I’ve frogged this single ply yarn twice and it is definitely looking a little ragged. I’m going to take some of those ideas and re-work them with the yarn I bought from Ginger Twist Studio in Edinburgh.

I ordered the gray to go with the blue; the mint was too exciting for me. It’s not here yet, so I don’t have to think about it for a bit. Check!

This is what I’m working on right now. It’s a fall/winter cowl in Knit Circus Ringmaster Panoramic Gradient, 150g. The color is Fig and Prosciutto. The yarn is round and bouncy and fun to knit. I was about a third of the way through when I decided it needed a little something more than what it was, so I ripped it back down and am enjoying the yarn just as much the second time. It won’t take long to finish, and it’s a great multi-tasking knit.

So really, it looks like I have ONE project that I’m actually working on. And several (Nymphaea, linen top, miscellaneous shawl) that I can work on at my leisure. See? I’m a monogamous knitter, whether intentionally or not. There are a few other design ideas knocking around in my head, too, and I’ll pick one up as my thinking project at home, while one of these other projects turns into the mindless project.

What’s on your needles? How many projects are you actively working on? Helpful knitting cats wanna know! Speaking of which…

We’ve added this little guy to our household. He’s two years old, and he’s charming. His shelter name was Gerkin, but we think he’s going to be named Yadi, for Yadier Molina, the St. Louis Cardinals catcher. We have had several baseball-themed cat names, including Mookie (Wilson) and Jess (Jesse Orosco). We adopted Yadi from Purringtons Cat Lounge, alma mater of Biscuit, Gator, and Mis Mis.

He has a tiny white spot on his chest, and a tinier one on his belly that we didn’t know about until after he came home.

Biscuit is occasionally hissing at him, but mostly getting along. This picture is from introduction day, which was Day 3 in our house. Much calmer than the introduction to Gator (son’s cat who was visiting for 2 months). Maybe she thinks Tyler is going to come take this one away, too?

Now to see if Yadi is ok with yarn. My studio door stays shut while I figure this out!

What hump? Better crescent shawl garter tab cast on

I’m back! We took a wee trip to Scotland. And Barcelona. And St. Louis! More on all of that when I get myself sorted. I did manage to visit one yarn shop while I was away, Ginger Twist Studio in Edinburgh.

Jess’ shop is tiny and packed with beautiful yarn, much of which she dyes herself. I bought only one skein, this lovely British BFL fingering; the color is Pappy’s Garden.

I wish I had bought a coordinating color, but I needed the bag and yarn to fit in my purse because we were hiking the Salisbury Crags that afternoon after a visit to the Scottish Parliament. Packing in the fun! (The bag is wrinkled from being crammed into my purse, true story.)

I took a new shawl design project on this trip. I didn’t have a lot of knitting time, but it kept me occupied on planes and trains. When I got home, I decided I didn’t like how the later stitch patterns were playing with each other. Or were not playing with each other, really.

I asked Biscuit what she thought. “To the frog pond!” she squeaked. I agreed, but not before tackling another issue that was bugging me.

My first try at this had a hump in the middle. Sometimes these block out, and at the beginning of my knitting it looked like it might.

But it seemed to look worse the further I got. Since I was going to frog it anyway, I wanted to try to avoid the hump on the next version.

This is so much better. The difference? A much longer garter tab cast on.

My first one was very short, because the numbers worked. But there were so many stitches concentrated right there at the beginning, and a short, unyielding garter tab. Hump! Even worse, when I tried to straighten it, it folded over.

Besides the longer garter tab, I added YOs between the picked up stitches along the edge of the garter tab. This serves two purposes. It adds a stitch between the picked up stitches, which gives a little more stretch. And it mimics the YOs that are going to continue along the edge of the shawl.

I’m back on track, and it’s flying along.

Do you ever feel like you need a vacation after a vacation? Catching up!

Drum roll…the winner of the Delicate Details e-book is Terri Oliver. Thanks to everyone for commenting and playing along!

Coming soon…puffins!

Wool Tinctures, cats, Nine Lives

It was a busy weekend!

Remember the dye project we bought from Abundant Earth Fiber? We loved meeting Lydia Christiansen and learning about her milling and spinning on Whidbey Island. Lydia’s entire inventory was stolen, along with her trailer, on her way to Stitches West, and she is working hard to get back up to speed. We wanted to support her business, and get to play with color, too!

Saturday was the day. My yarn is worsted weight domestic merino, and Lisa’s is DK weight 80/20 merino and Rambouillet.

I love how tidy this whole setup is. This plus yarn plus hot water.

Why yes, I’m dyeing my yarn in a Lego bucket. It’s usually the wastebasket in my studio. Lisa is classier, and is using a ceramic bowl.

This dye is exhausted!

My yarn is slightly semi-solid. Because I dunked one end in first? Insufficient stirring? It’s pretty, though.

Lucy approves! Thanks to Lucy and Lisa for hosting the fun.

It was a cat filled weekend. I was catsitting for both my kids, who were away on two different trips. This is MisMis. She’s very friendly…with people. She’s a great only cat.

And this is Gator. He’s very handsome, and very amiable, too. Gator is coming to live with us for a while, if he and Biscuit can get along. We’re just starting a slow introduction.

There’s been some growling and hissing on Biscuit’s part, but we’re not getting them face to face for a few days. Wish us luck!

Gator is currently chilling in my studio.

And! Speaking of cats, it’s time for the drawing for the Knit Picks Nine Lives Collection. The winner is: Margo! I’ve emailed her for her addy so I can send her the book. Thanks to Knit Picks for their support for Knitters with Kitters at Purringtons, and thanks to you for reading and playing!

36 hours in Ellensburg

One catch up post!

I spent 36 hours in Ellensburg, WA to celebrate a friend’s birthday the weekend before Knot Another Fiber Festival. It was quick but we packed in a lot of fun!

Saturday was LYS Day. I wasn’t near my LYS, but Ellensburg has a very nice shop, Yarn Folk. Ann Miner’s shop has lots of high quality yarns and is full of inspiring shop samples. I didn’t need any yarn (do I ever?), but I needed a shawl pin so I picked up this leaf pin by One of a Kind Buttons. (More about the book in a bit.)

There was a sheep to shawl exhibit by Thorp Mill at the rodeo grounds, and I met this sweet lamb, as well as some spinners and weavers.

In the afternoon Vickie and I took a beyond basics block printing class at Gallery One. Every time I play with block printing, it gets a little better. So much fun!

This particular class was about chine collé (like collage, adding contrast papers in the printing) and puzzle blocks (cutting your carved block into pieces so you can put it back together while using different colors for the different parts). In three hours we sketched and carved blocks, and tried these two new techniques.

Pictured above, top row: Carved block (it’s been cut and put back together), original test print. Bottom row: Chine collé bird print, and puzzle block print. I’m looking forward to playing more with this block, or even re-doing it now that I know what I want it to look like.

In the evening we went to the college rodeo. Why yes, this was my first rodeo! It seemed about time my boots went to one.

Waiting

Birds on a wire

Matched set

I came home Sunday to teach a class, and picked up the new Mason Dixon Field Guide, Transparency.

I love the look of this Shakerag Top. (Thanks, Biscuit, for helping with the picture.) It’s knit with one or two strands of yarn to create the striping, but the yarn is all the same. This particular yarn is Jade Sapphire Sylph, a blend of cashmere and linen. I love linen and I love cashmere. It’s a little spendy, so I have to decide if I’m really going to make it. Also, deadlines! We shall see.

Knit on!

Knitters with Kitters

I had the pleasure of hanging out with 16 knitters, and a group of kitters, last night. It was the first ever Knitters with Kitters event at Purringtons Cat Lounge. It sold out quickly. I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last!

We had some great product tie-in. Stacey from Knit Picks came with copies of their 9 Lives Collection, a very fun book of patterns. The photographs for this 2017 book were shot at Purringtons! We had a copy for each of the attendees, and then a drawing for a cat-themed tote bag, and a set of interchangeable needles.

Lucky is my kitty halo!

Cats can help crochet, too.

They’re very social, and would like to go home with you. All the kitties at Purringtons are available for adoption; they’re from Cat Adoption Team in Sherwood. The cat café is an opportunity for them to get social skills before adoption. Our Biscuit is from Purringtons, too; she was adoption #194. Purringtons is now up to adoption #528.

A good time was had by all, knitters and kitters both.

I have an extra copy of 9 Lives that I’d like to share. Is it calling your name? Leave a comment below and let me know. You can also leave a comment just to leave a comment, but if you want the book, please say so! I’ll draw a name next Saturday, Cinco de Meow-o. (Ouch!)

If you’d like an extra chance to win, sign up for my newsletter here; I’ll send one out next week after Knot Another Fiber Festival. Busy busy! (If you’re already signed up, you’re in! Just reply to the email when it comes.)

At loose ends seeking new project, and a book winner

First of all: Drumroll! The winner of the Japanese Shetland Lace Knitting book is…carrotmusic, aka Karen. Congratulations!

I just bound off my last (for now) brioche project. It’s the cowl I started before I took the deep dive into the brioche hats. (Hats are currently being test knit, and the pictures coming in are lovely.)

I’m looking forward to wearing this cowl. Although Biscuit thinks that it belongs to her.

There *is* precedent for cats and cowls! (Mookie in my Sakura cowl, 2016.)

My needles are currently empty, and I’m not sure what to knit next. I need to get back to my beaded 2 color version of my Nymphaea shawl (shown here in a lovely purple gradient from June Pryce Fiber Arts, available from Bead Biz.)

I’m knitting it in green and blue, the same colors as in my Tumbling Leaves, but with Atlantic as the main color and Hellebore as the contrast color. Yes, I loved these colors in Bumblebirch’s Heartwood so much that I’m using them again! But I don’t need this shawl until Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival in September when the pattern returns to me, so it’s not urgent.

I was hoping to do a Snowy Woods Log Cabin blanket for the #fringeandfriendslogalong, but that was derailed by my brioche obsession. It’s late in the logalong game, but I’m tempted to knit a pair of Karen Templer’s Log Cabin Mitts (free pattern, just published on her Fringe Association site). After knitting the log cabin blocks, there’s a mitered square thumb, which looks cool. I haven’t done a log cabin block with a mitered square in it yet, so that would be exciting. I just looked in my stash, and this may be do-able. Either 3 shades of Knit Picks Wool of the Andes, or a single color shifting skein of Noro Taiyo (which isn’t very soft…).

Or should I be restrained and just knit some log cabin washcloths from the Mason-Dixon Knitting Field Guide #4? They’ve elaborated on their pick up method a little bit since the blankets in their original book, which is where I learned to log cabin. I need to see if I like the new way better. Only one way to find out!

What’s on your needles? Inspire me!

Birthday wildfire and hurricanes

Hurricane Harvey fundraiser update: Thank you for participating in my fundraiser! I just sent the proceeds to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. I’m paying the PayPal and Ravelry fees, so all the pattern sale money goes to the fund.

I’m also matching the donation with a donation to UMCOR, the United Methodist Committee on Relief. Their US Disaster Response fund will provide relief beyond Houston, and I wanted to spread the love a little further. What I like about UMCOR is that all donated funds go towards the specific relief goal. Administrative costs are raised through One Great Hour of Sharing, and don’t come out of the disaster relief donations.

I’m really touched by the knitting community’s efforts. There are many designers raising funds for disaster relief, and I’m happy to be a part of it. I’ve purchased several patterns, too. Put it all together and we’re a mighty force!

Today is my birthday, and it’s a strange one. The beautiful Columbia River Gorge is ablaze with a wildfire caused by teens playing with fireworks in the tinder dry forest. It started Saturday on the Eagle Creek trail, and is now at about 5000 acres. (Edit, noon 9/5/17: 10,000 acres.)

Punchbowl FallsPunchbowl Falls in 2014

I hiked here in September 2014; pretty pictures in blog post here. It won’t look like again this for a long time. Right now, Multnomah Falls is surrounded by fire, and the historic Multnomah Falls Lodge is threatened. My heart is breaking for one of my favorite happy places.

Ash is falling here in Portland, 40 to 50 miles away.

Even closer to home, Biscuit isn’t feeling well, so I’ve laid out a buffet to tempt her appetite. Not working yet. She was at the vet yesterday (Labor Day!) and if she doesn’t perk up today, will be back there tomorrow.

So happy birthday to me. Pray for rain for the fires, and good thoughts for relief workers, firefighters, and the Biscuit, please!

Eclipse 2017: Path of Totality

Well that was stellar! And lunar. And solar…definitely awe inspiring!

Pinhole camera made with knitting needle and paper on hand

I trekked down to Salem to view the eclipse from Willamette Valley Vineyards. They were in the path of totality; Portland was at 99%. That tiny, tiny 1% makes a big difference.

DH stayed home; he’s not as geeky about these things as I am. I wanted the sun to disappear completely. It did not disappoint.

It was so uplifting to share this awe-inspiring event with an enthusiastic group of people. So much positivity. We wrote and sang “Path of Totality” to the tune of Age of Aquarius. Fun and funny.

Of course I brought my knitting. Bag by Chicken Boots (Saremy), needle keeper by A Needle Runs Through It (Maria), bead needle by Bead Aid (Sarah), bead tin by Miss Purl (Danielle), yarn by June Pryce Fiber Arts (Cheryl), beads by Bead Biz (Jean)! It’s like another group of friends beyond the ones I was actually sitting with.

People’s phones kept going off with emergency alerts. Turn off your ringers, please! Yes, rock climbing. Check out this link for an amazing photo; it’s not mine so I don’t want to publish it here. Rock climber silhouetted by eclipsed sun at Smith Rock.

I don’t pretend to have a camera good enough to get a picture of what it really looked like; I’m leaving that to the professionals. This is what it looks like from an iPhone.

So cool to see Venus out during the day. The sun is completely eclipsed here, but the phone camera can’t catch it. It was a dark circle surrounded by intense twinkling light. It was easy to tell when totality hit; a collective gasp went up and our eclipse glasses didn’t let any light through. It was equally easy to tell when it was time to put the glasses back on. So bright! Those two minutes of totality went by all too quickly. Just a tiny sliver of sun seemed like complete daylight.

The sun was about halfway back for this picture. Hard to tell.

Traffic home was a bear. But it was worth it. Biscuit and I caught up with Game of Thrones the next day. She likes dragons; I think because they sound like her. Kind of raspy and squeaky. Bisqueak!

Did you chase the eclipse, too?

Busy as a bee

Buzz! I’m watching my test knitters’ projects develop on the Go Tell The Bees projects page on Ravelry, and planning for a fun KAL. Pattern coming June 1, KAL begins June 11.

I found some cute bee stitch markers that will make a sweet prize.

I’m working on a design to coordinate with a crochet friend, and Biscuit is marginally impressed. She helped with the math.

I’m dreaming of a shawl in blue and yellow yarns. Which blue? Which yellow? I don’t know yet. What do you think?

And after changing my mind several times on how this combo will play out, I think I have a plan.

I’ll just be over here in my corner with lots of graph paper!

And in the middle of all that, I spent the weekend out at Edgefield for my friends’ wedding. No wedding pix; I was hopping busy that day! But I was blessed to sing with my beloved Pie Birds during and after the wedding. So much fun.

Note the red boots and newly finished second Red Zephyr Shawl!

We made good use of the soaking pool, and my MDK tote.

Wine tasting on the balcony. Cheers!