Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Back to our regular programming...

Yes, yarn-related activities have taken place. Look for a few finished objects in the next few days.

This baby blanket is my sixth baby blanket in four years. Each time, I start with an idea about the pattern or the color palette I want to use, based on the personality of the expecting parents. Sometimes parents decide to find out whether they're expecting a boy or a girl, sometimes they don't. Sometimes I buy yarn before they can find out because I can't wait to get started!

My baby blanket skills have definitely improved over the years. The first one, four years ago, was my one of my first knitting projects in a decade. I decided to knit a baby blanket for my upcoming goddaughter. I had just knit her a baby hat and a pair of booties in a few days from a kit I got at the fabric store. How hard could it be to knit a whole blanket, really? I simply knit the pattern that came with the ball band of the white acrylic yarn I found at the fabric store. It called for some combination of yo and k3tog every other row. I wanted to throw the blanket across the room after 6 rows. I just couldn't manage the k3tog (knitting 3 stitches together at once). My mother suggested I change the pattern to k2tog (more manageable) and only do the pattern row every fourth row. That was much better. I just went on that way. I didn't start over, so the blanket had a few rows of the original pattern at one end. On top of that, the second skein of white acrylic yarn was a different weight than the first one (I didn't really know about yarn weights then), which meant that the second half of the blanket is slightly narrower and at a looser gauge than the first half. It was misshapen and crooked... but made with love! I gave it to my goddaughter on her first birthday. Her parents thanked me profusely at the time. I'm not sure if she ever used the blanket...

My skills were already much improved for my second blanket, a stripey fringed garterstitch blanket in "santa fe" colors, to match the cantalope-colored walls of the baby's room. After that, I switched to crochet. It's faster than knitting and is naturally double-sided, which is a plus for a blanket. I made a granny-squared blanket (the only one I made with input from the expecting mother). I made a striped blanket in bright colors for my pastel-averse friend's baby boy. I made a psychedelic rainbow blanket for my nephew, because I wanted variegated yarn with a touch of yellow to match the color of his room. It turned out much brighter than I expected, which is funny since my brother's usual color palette is limited to earth tones...

Which brings us to this blanket. I knew my friend Katie was having a little boy. I wanted some boyish colors, a combination of greens and blues. The Moderne baby blanket pattern, from Mason-Dixon Knitting, was just asking to be crocheted. I used the schematic drawing in the book to figure out the proportions of each rectangle, crocheted a foundation chain of the right length, and proceeded to crochet one rectangle after another.

Things were going swimmingly, until I added the two bottom (third and fourth to last) squares. I was at a friend's house, admiring her 3-month old baby, got distracted and simply crocheted two many stitches into the previous squares. My new squares were too many stitches wide and were rippling. I was in complete denial about it, convincing myself it would all be fine when I blocked it, until I finished the last two squares and tried to lay the blanket flat. It was abundantly clear that no amount of blocking would fix this problem... so I ripped out the last four squares and put the blanket aside "for a while." Fast-forward to two months later... I picked it up again, did things right, and finished the blanket in a few days.

Pattern: Moderne Baby Blanket, from Mason-Dixon Knitting by Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne (see it on ravelry here)
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash, 2 skeins each of Celery (905), Caribbean (847), and Colonial Blue Heather (904). Just over 1 skein of Aran (817).
Hook: 5.0 mm (H)
Started: February 27, 2008
Finished: August 9, 2008
Modifications: well, obviously it's crocheted... but I also added a one-row border of half-double crochet.

It's one of my favorites, because it turned out exactly as I pictured it (which doesn't always happen). Katie seemed to like it, and I hope her little Sebastien does too...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Would like some? It tastes like chicken...

I saw this list on Clotile Dussoulier's Chocolate & Zucchini blog. Here's what she had to say about it:

"The Omnivore's Hundred is an eclectic and entirely subjective list of 100 items that Andrew Wheeler, co-author of the British food blog Very Good Taste, thinks every omnivore should try at least once in his life.

He offered this list as the starting point for a game, along the following rules:
1. Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2. Bold all the items you’ve eaten (I've used icons instead, and added an asterisk for the items I'm particularly fond of).
3. Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4. Optional extra: post a comment on Very Good Taste, linking to your results."

I've always considered myself an omnivore... am I really?
Here's my list:

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:
1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare

5. Crocodile (I did have alligator in Louisiana, but no crocodile)
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue

8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart

16. Epoisses (have I had this cheese? I'm not sure...)
17. Black truffle (not on its own, only truffle oil)
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns = char siu bao (this should be an easy one to check off the list)
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans

25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper (no thanks, I'd rather feel my tongue... I've learned from Captain Haddock's experience in "Le Temple du Soleil")
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava

30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl

33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float (why haven't I had this before?)
36. Cognac with a fat cigar (cognac yes, cigar no)
37. Clotted cream tea (of course!)
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo

40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu (no thanks, am not suicidal...)
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel (in sushi/sashimi)
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut (best when still warm from the oven, yum!)

50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi (thanks, Yuko!)
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle

57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine (yes!)
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads

63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake (or beaver tails!)

68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill (eeeww!)
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong

80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky

84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers

89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab

93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox

97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

60 down, 40 to go!
(although I don’t think I would ever eat Fugu (too risky!), Kaolin (dirt?), roadkill (especially if this means eating whatever is left of an animal that was run over by a car), or Bonnet peppers (why suffer unnecessarily?)