Category Archives: music

Podcast: We’re Doing What We Love

The Dissent Cowl (pattern by Carissa Browning) is done! I steam blocked it this morning. I like this with the dot pattern folded to the inside, and just the dissent collar portion showing.

No makeup, sorry not sorry

It was best to knit this while looking at it, because it’s easier to maintain the patterning by reading the knitting instead of counting. Which meant I needed to *listen* to something instead of reading my iPad or Kindle while I knit. Game on.

Mary Chapin Carpenter has a new album out, The Dirt and the Stars, and it’s wonderful. A lot of it feels like it’s written especially for this time, so deeply introspective, but she’s been working on it for several years.

Carpenter made a podcast with poet Sarah Kay, called One Story, to promote the album. It’s a great example of pivoting and adapting to our pandemic times. Normally a musician would go on tour to promote a new album. Instead we get to know about what she was thinking when she wrote the songs, and then a deeper dive at the end. All three episodes are great, but the third one really struck me. Titled “We’re Doing What We Love,” it has so much resonance for all makers of art and craft. They talk about heroes, mentors, impostor syndrome, and legacy. Give it a listen; I hope you love it as much as I did. You can listen to it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and who knows where else?

Lots of introspection on the album, but my favorite track is this sly, rollicking song about…Lindsey Graham.

So that’s what I’ve been listening to. And I’m reading the memoir “All I Ever Wanted” by Kathy Valentine, the bassist for the Go-Go’s. It’s a fast moving read, with lots of name dropping. Highs and lows and lots of music and drugs fueling it all. I’m just getting to the part where money changes everything, but I’m enjoying the upbeat 1980s music while I read.

Do you multitask while you knit? What’s your favorite thing to do while you knit?

Sometimes you get a little silly: Social Distance

Claudia came over to pick up some jam, and to jam, socially distantly. Music is a balm to the soul. And a diversion, too. We missed our third Pie Bird Becky, but we sang our hearts out, 12 feet apart in my backyard. And laughed ourselves silly.

Social Distance. Apologies to Julie Gold, the composer of From a Distance.

Here are my lyrics, since it’s kind of hard to hear through the masks:

​Social distance ​we all stay at home
And wash our hands incessantly
Social distance: we wear masks to shop, and check out hurriedly
Social distance: we’re allowed on walks, if we stay six feet apart​
We miss all our friends, we miss happy hour, and museums full of art

Social distance, we would have enough hand sanitizer and TP
But there are hoarders emptying the stores, not thinking logically
So for instance, we would like some flour, some sugar and some yeast
We could bake at home, relieve some stress, and have some carb filled treats

The world is watching us, the world is watching us, world is watching us from a distance

Keep your distance, please just stay at home
Amuse yourself with your TV
Binge on Netflix, or work in your yard, while we anxiously await vaccine
If you go out, please do wear a mask, spread out and wash your hands
It’s for everyone, keep your neighbors safe, it’s the song throughout the land
You’re the hope of hopes, you’re the love of loves, it’s the song for all the land.

A little rough, but we had fun.

Also, if you’d like to know more about songwriter Julie Gold, her inspiring story is here.

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

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!

Catching up with May

How did half of May fly by so quickly? I see that I last posted here on May 1, but I’ve been having fun over on Instagram. It’s so easy to post a quick photo with a short caption. I’m pdxknitterati over there, too; here’s a link to my profile if you’d like to follow me there.

So to catch up here:

I’ve been madly knitting gorgeous gradients from Fierce Fibers, designing a crescent shawl in two sizes. More about that in the next post.

I picked the winner of the linen mini-skeins for the Linden Leaf scarf. Congratulations Sharon Brown! I’m sending you an email to get your addy.

And I love it when you send FO pictures! I had the pleasure of teaching at the Sheeper than Therapy retreat in central California last fall. One of the classes was for my Tilt Shift Wrap. Ann Berg sent me this picture of several successful finishers. Thanks, Ann!

On the non-knit side, I’ve been obsessed with baking bagels. I’ve been experimenting with whole grain and different amounts of yeast/kneading/boiling times, and now I’m getting the size and texture I want. Yay!

And I had the opportunity to sing with my fellow Pie Birds in church, and will be singing with them in a wedding soon, too. Here’s a recording of us singing Bird Song, written by Heather Masse.

Cheers!

Nashville and knitting

Catching up with myself here…DH and I went to Nashville for a few days of fun last week. He was on his way to Bowling Green, KY for a project, and had to pass through Nashville, so why not?

I met up with Ann Shayne at Mason-Dixon Knitting world headquarters. I’m so impressed by how she and Kay Gardiner have developed MDK from a longtime blog between friends to this new creation. They’re dabbling in all sorts of knit-related fun: publishing booklets, blogging, community forum, YARN.

MDK wall of yarn

This is the wall of yarn. My Euroflax mini-skeins used to live here, and now they’re all grown up.

SeaScape

It looks great on Ann! It’s a long skinny…scarf? Shawlette? Scarlette? What would you call it? Ann called it “deliriously pretty” in an Instagram post; I was pretty chuffed by that. Pattern coming soon.

 

These are samples of the Breton Cowl from Field Guide Number 1. The Shibui yarn is heftier than I thought (quick knit!), and really pretty. The favorites queue is getting longer! Thanks to Ann for a fun morning of knitting and chat.

Breton Cowl

I made a quick trip to Craft South the day before in search of yarn to swatch for a design idea. This is a sweet shop that carries fabric and a small but exquisite selection of yarn.

Craft South entry

Craft South yarns

While I was there I met Hannah Thiessen, @hannahbelleknits on Instagram. So fun to meet online knitting friends in real life!

Hannah at Craft South

And Craft South is near a Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream shop, so I got to introduce DH to his first Jeni’s experience.

Jeni's

I may have acquired some red boots that day, too. But it wasn’t an all knitting trip. We saw Sister Sadie, an excellent 5 piece bluegrass band at the Station Inn, and A Prairie Home Companion at the Ryman Auditorium. Nashville is a fun city; I’d love to visit again.

At the Ryman
Those stained glass windows at the Ryman!

Red Zephyr and Biscuit

Right now I’m knitting away madly on a red Zephyr Shawlette to go with my new boots. This is Hazel Knits Entice, Vamp colorway.

Zephyr and boot

I love how the Zephyr arrow echoes the heart on the boot. I’m trying to finish this to take to Madrona next week. Knit like the wind…a zephyr!

Happy Thanksgiving, and meet Zephyr!

Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s been a great year, knit-wise. I’m grateful for a life of designing and teaching, and meeting lots of fun knitters along the way. Knitters are the best people! We don’t have to agree on everything to be able to knit together. (Steek? Yes! Kitchener? No!)

The Indie Design Gift-A-Long is in full swing on Ravelry. Go join the group, use the coupon code giftalong2016, and join the KAL/CAL fun!

Zephyr Shawlette

I’m introducing another new design today. This is the Zephyr Shawlette, an asymmetric triangle knit on the bias. It’s named after the west wind. The lacy arrow represents the wind blowing west to east. The eyelets are like bubbles rising on the wind. I love that the yarn I used is called Bollicina, which is Italian for bubble. It’s 65% cashmere, 35% silk which makes it soooo luxurious. Sadly this yarn is discontinued, but any other fingering weight yarn will make an equally lovely Zephyr.

Zephyr wingspan

I had 550 yards, so this knit up into a gorgeous large wrap. The pattern is easily adapted to your yardage; it starts at the narrow point and grows from there.

Zephyr Shawlette gradient wingspan

Ann Berg test knit this for me with a Canon Hand Dyes William gradient, 460 yards of gorgeous shifting color.

Zephyr detail

And Rachel Nichols test knit this for me with the Fiber Seed’s Sprout fingering in Robin’s Egg, 480 yards.

Thanks for knitting, ladies! And thanks to Amanda Woodruff for tech editing. This is one of my favorite kinds of knitting, mostly stockinette so I can read blogs or my Kindle, or watch TV, and only pay close attention for a little bit. It would also be great for meditative knitting.

The pattern is on Ravelry, and it’s 15% offf through December 5, 2016, no coupon needed. But if you’re subscribed to my mailing list, you can get 20% off instead, with a coupon code from my newsletter. Let me know if you’d like to subscribe.

Trellis Vines Mitts

One more new release this week, this one through Knit Picks. I’m releasing a mitts only version of my Beanstalk Mitts and Scarf. It’s called Trellis Vines Mitts, and they coordinate with my Trellis Vines Stole Poncho.

Trellis Vines Stole Poncho

Same lovely lacy leaf and trellis pattern, using the same sport/dk weight yarn.

What else is going on? I’m taking a Harmony Singing by Ear class with Anne Weiss over at Artichoke Music in Portland. I’ve sung in her classes before; she is knowledgeable, supportive, and fabulous. I put class to use last weekend while singing with friends in church. I’m the low harmony on the verses of this version of Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem.” Click this link if you want to listen.

Rolling up my sleeves and getting to work in the kitchen. Here’s the recipe for my favorite turkey stuffing. My Baba (daddy) used to make it this way. I love that he used to just make things up, and suddenly we had our own Chinese version of an American tradition. I miss him lots, since 2001.

Chinese Sausage/Oyster/Water Chestnut Rice Stuffing, enough for a 15-20 lb turkey
2.5 cups uncooked rice (I like brown medium grain, but whatever you have is fine)
3 Chinese sausage (lap xuong)
2 (two) 8 oz jars of fresh small shucked oysters, drained and cut in half if they seem large
3 stalks celery, sliced 1/4 inch on diagonal
1 onion, chopped
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained
3 eggs, scrambled (if you want it to be prettier, cook separately before adding so you have ribbons of scrambled egg)
1 tbsp soy sauce

Pre-cook rice, along with sausage. (Lay the sausage on top of the rice when you turn the heat down after it boils; they will be perfect.) When rice is done, remove sausage and slice 1/4 inch on diagonal.

Now it’s time to really cook!
Sauté sausage, onion, and celery in 1 tbsp oil. When onion is soft, add oysters and cook until they are just barely done (there will be a lot of moisture in the pan). Add water chestnut and eggs; cook ’til eggs are done. Beginning adding rice, one cup at a time, working it in. You may not use all the rice. When you have enough rice worked in (so that the ratio of rice to goodies looks right), add a bit of soy sauce for color (go lightly!). Salt and pepper to taste. Stuff the turkey, or not!

This is basically fried rice, with oysters and chinese sausage. yum….

I hope you’re having a peaceful weekend with people you love. Lots of time to knit while waiting for a turkey to roast. And then the mad rush to make gravy. Cheers!

What Springsteen said to me

“You’re a dangerous woman.”

Springsteen n me

Who, me?

Bruce Springsteen was in town to promote his new autobiography, “Born to Run.” The event was at Powell’s Books, a large and wonderful independent bookstore here in PDX. We managed to get tickets (we crashed the first server, just like Sock Summit), but poor DH is out of town so a friend came with me.

The rules:

• The event is a meet and greet only. There will be no book discussion, booksigning, or performance.

• Springsteen will not sign anything during the event (books will be pre-signed). No memorabilia or other items are allowed.

• Please leave bags, backpacks, and personal items at home as these are not permitted at the event. Any personal items that cannot be pocketed will not be permitted in the event space. This includes backpacks, purses, shopping bags, etc. Only the book that ticket buyers receive at check-in will be allowed into the event space with ticket holders.

• You are allowed one posed photo with Bruce Springsteen. An employee of Powell’s will take the picture using your phone or camera.

Knitting in line

I don’t have a lot of clothing with pockets; I’m all about the skirts and boots! I wanted to take some knitting with me for waiting in line, and it had to be small to fit in my tiny jacket pockets. I’m not a sock knitter, but a half ball of yarn and a sock on the needles made sense. Of course, for me it was sport weight on size 2 magic loop. Look at that heel flap! I finished the flap, the heel turn, and started gusset decreases while in line.

What do you say to Bruce Springsteen, that hasn’t been said a million times before? In my case, it was, “Would you hold my sock?” (Definitely inspired by the Yarn Harlot.) But when it was my turn, the handler looked at my needles and told me I couldn’t go up with knitting needles. So I took the needles out, because I really wanted Bruce to hold my sock. Here’s our exchange.

Me: Would you hold my sock?

Bruce: (looks bemused)

Me: I had to take the needles out; they wouldn’t let me have them near you.

Bruce: You’re a dangerous woman…with those needles!

He had the sock; I had the yarn ball in my pocket. We’re connected by yarn! So we took our picture, and I thanked him for coming before they sent me on my way. 10 seconds, totally worth it.

Springsteen n me at Powell's

I just found out that you can make gifs and videos from the live photos on newer iPhones. So here it is; I love how Bruce is wiggling the sock. Too cute!

Springsteen sock wiggle gif

As I said, I’m not really a sock knitter, so I may never finish this sock. I’d have to put it back on the needles, for starters. So I think it will go in a shadow box with the picture, and we’ll call it good.

The Oregonian was there talking to people who were waiting in line, and I ended up in their video. I’m at the 26 second mark, in my Webfoot Shawlette in Hazelknits Entice, Hoppy Blond.

OK, back to knitting!

Road tripping

It’s been a multi-craftual couple of weeks.

I went to a piano retreat at Icicle Creek Center for the Arts at the Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort in Leavenworth, WA. No, I”m still not playing the piano, but it was a chance to hang out with the far-flung Adagio Babes, so I made my own personal retreat. I brought my guitar and yarn, and worked on singing and knitting. Pretty awesome. And the piano music was so beguiling I came home and played some, too.

meadow stage

My practice room: the Meadow Stage, with Sleeping Lady watching over. See her profile, forehead to the left, chin to the right, boobs to the right of that?

sleeping lady

You can see her better here. The setting was inspirational!

twin leaf at icicle creek

I’m working up a 100g version of my Twin Leaf Crescent Shawl. The pattern rights return to me in June, and I want to include two sizes. Right now it’s only written for Black Trillium’s five mini skein, 165g gradient kit.

canon hand dyes gradient

I’m using a 100g ombre gradient from Canon Hand Dyes. It’s very different because it’s one long shading from Lavender to Blush. So far, so good. I’m on the crescent shaping, and we’ll see if there’s enough yarn to make it work, or if I have to do a little more magic. Yarn chicken, it’s my life!

Icicle Creek

Icicle Creek valley

hikers

In between music and knitting, I took a little hike with friends. Not very long, but a respectable elevation gain.

double wrap bracelet

Before I went to Icicle, I stopped in Ellensburg, WA to visit V. A very belated birthday visit. I made this double wrap bracelet for her: Beads, leather cording, silk thread.

single wrap bracelet

There was enough left over for me to have a single wrap for myself. Win!

beads

Even better, we went to the bead store, and I showed her how to make them. Double win!

hita von mende crossing the bar

Went to an art show and fell in love with Hita von Mende‘s paintings. This is her Crossing the Bar, 30″ x 30″. Wish it would fit over my fireplace, but it won’t…

What’s new with you?

Braided Wristlets Class Debut, singing, and more

I had a super busy weekend, and knittingly, this was the highlight.

pdxknitterati braided wristlets

I taught my new Braided Wristlets class at Twisted. I designed this pattern to be a workshop in herringbone and other braids, two color stranded knitting, and color dominance. We did cover all these things, and had a great time, too. And I made a good start on another one of these for me.

braided wristlet

I’ll be teaching this class at Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival in September. It will be an all day class on Saturday, September 24. Come and learn new skills with me!

But the weekend wasn’t all knitting. Sunday was Pentecost, and I organized and led music with the Pie Birds for worship. (The Pie Birds are a 3 part harmony group with guitars and mandolin: My friends Claudia and Becky and me.) So much work, so much fun. We sang Somewhere to Begin for the prelude; link provided if you want to give a listen. We closed the service with Turning of the World, with the congregation joining in.

We had a guest chorus from the Randolph-Macon Academy in Virgina sing for us. What a talented group of young people! They sang We Sing and All Creatures of Our God and King (not the version you might expect). Really wonderful. And they joined our choir for Spirit Come Down; it was so much fun to have all these voices singing with us.

I needed a recovery day on Monday!

PIe Birds mimosas