June 2005

My mom is visiting this week for an education and technology conference. Since West Philly is having its own version of Restaurant Week this week (a bunch of restaurants have special prix fixe menus at the same time), we decided to go to White Dog. It’s out of my normal price range (by about a factor of 3), but ohhhh, was it worth it. We split a crab and crayfish cake, the duck with bok choy and wild rice and the salmon with giant lima beans and mashed potatoes, and then we got dessert. My mom got the creme brulee (her favorite dessert), and I got the dark chocolate chipotle pot de creme, which is my new favorite dessert ever. Sooo good. It was about the texture of truffle filling–denser than my usual idea of pudding–with a sneaky spicy aftertaste behind really rich chocolate. Plus there was cinnamony whipped cream on top, and an orangey biscuity cookie.

Plans based on this dessert:
• go to the library and investigate the White Dog cookbook
• try Jill‘s suggestion of curry truffles
• go to White Dog for my birthday, for a salad and a pot de creme

So, I got my copy of the Fall ’05 Interweave Knits on Saturday. It looks okay; nothing I absolutely have to knit immediately, but I’ve already got enough planned to last a year or so.

The ridiculous bit? I have yet to receive the Summer ’05 IK. They’ve now sent three of them, and none have arrived. I was all set to figure that someone in the post office was keeping them, but then I got the fall issue. Maybe it’s the weekday delivery person, and the fact that I got this one on a Saturday solved the problem? If I haven’t gotten the summer issue by Friday, though, I’m gonna ask them to extend my subscription by an issue and just go buy a copy from Rosie’s.

It’s been a week of craziness and leaving-the-computer-at-work. Actually, it’s been odd enough that one of my coworkers assumed that my activities could only be due to a new boyfriend. (Not so.)

Last Sunday’s basketball game was enough fun that I had planned to watch game 6, but I was guilt-tripped into staying home with Mel, who leaped onto my shoulder and purred for five minutes when I got home from work. So I watched Star Wars and listened to the second half of the game. I knitted a bit more on the dulaan hat. And then I checked the size. Instead of being the ~21″ I’d been hoping for, it was more like 26″ around. I ripped it all out, and then kicked myself for not just making it into a baby sweater. Ah, well.

On Wednesday, I met up with Cyn, Jill, Sarcasmo, SuperTarzan, Amy, Sam, and Jim for Batman Begins. It was fun, particularly because I was with such a large group. I knitted the rest of the cuff of wildfoote sock #1 during the first half, and then I gave up on the knitting. (Only the explodey bits really had enough light for me to see what I was doing…)

I did wind up watching game 7 with Anj and Sue, and I made some progress on Klarabrite (along with, of course, having a lovely evening, in which I discovered that brussels sprouts are tasty). The extraordinary amount of tv/movie intake for this week continued on Friday, when I watched The Empire Strikes Back, and then yesterday morning, when I got myself out early (for me on a Saturday, at least) to see March of the Penguins. I cast off the first wildfoote sock while on the trolley and el on the way there, and managed a figure-8 cast on before the movie started. Unfortunately, I didn’t get all the way through the next round of knitting. A bit of advice: do not attempt to knit off a figure-8 cast on in the dark. It got kind of messy. At least I had beautiful video of really cute penguinlets to distract me from my knitting failures.

a finished sock!

the mangled toe of movie-knitting

After the penguins, I came home with the intention to do lots of cleaning, but I’m really good at procrastinating. Example: my mom’s going to be here in about two hours. My apartment is still a wreck, and I haven’t even done my make-up co-op shift. What am I doing? Blogging. Other example: yesterday afternoon, I was going to clean the bathroom, take a shower, and find a nice dress/skirt to wear to my advisor’s barbecue at 6. What did I do? A little bit of cleaning. My passengers and I would have arrived on time, at least, but we learned that the other half of the lab was about half an hour behind us, so we took a scenic detour past Haverford College. Once we got there, though, and had had dinner, I chatted a bit about knitting and crafting with my advisor’s wife, who runs a knitting club at a local elementary school.

I finally did some real cooking1 yesterday. I’d been planning to make the Roast Vegetable Tart With Rich Walnut Crust from Gaia’s Kitchen2 for a couple of months. I’d offered to make it for Anj and Sue, and they offered me the use of their tv for the basketball game last night, which worked out beautifully.

Alas, I neglected to locate my food processor and confirm the edibility of my pesto before starting to cook, so I had to improvise in bits that I thought wouldn’t need improvisation. The tart turned out fine, though, and I learned how much of a difference rolling out pastry crust makes, even when it’s made with oil instead of butter. Maybe next time I make a quiche I’ll roll out the crust, even if it is just for me… Actually, the most convincing sign that the tart was good was that Sue liked it despite the eggplant.

After dinner, we sat down for some knitting before the game came on. I spent a few minutes on the onyx flower basket, and then….

“Hey, Anj, could I try out a set of your Denises?”

. . .

“And do you have some yarn I could use? All of mine is stuck in projects.”

Thus began a purple dulaan hat to coordinate with the purple dulaan sweater that Anj made a couple of weeks ago. The 2×2 rib and stockinette made for perfect basketball-watching knitting, and the slightly oversized needles meant that it went pretty quickly.

about half done

1as distinguished from “how can I have hot food in the shortest amount of time?” cooking–I used fresh vegetables, an unfortunate rarity these days

2an excellent cookbook of vegetarian (with some vegan) food, including some gorgeous pictures and a really amusing/engaging writing style–the RVTWRWC is described as “a bit of a fiddle to make”

The other reason for the heading is that I’ve started listening to my collection of bluegrass again. Mmm, fiddles and banjos.

I have proof of Mel’s ridiculous (and highly amusing) habit of climbing my window screens:

Mel on screen
“Come back here, you!”

After I finished laughing (in a nice way!) at Mel, I went off to Rosie’s, armed with the discount card that I’d filled nearly a year ago.

the haul

I’m thinking I might dig through the craft supplies in my parents’ basement for the wire that we got for jewelry-making. Knitting with wire looks like fun… It’s also probably more feasible than dyeing in my kitchen, although I may try kool-aid dyeing if I can get my hands on some dyeable wool.

After Rosie’s, I headed a couple of blocks over to where Kirsten and a couple of other PhillyKnitters (whose lj names I’ve forgotten) were knitting in Rittenhouse Square. Despite messing up because I was talking and not paying attention to the chart, I finished the first repeat of the second chart of the flower basket shawl (mistakes fixed):

ahhhhh, lace

I’ve been distracted from fiber for the past few days. I spent Monday evening packing dried figs and cashew pieces into half-pound and one-pound bags, Tuesday was Jill‘s birthday thingy (in a smoky bar, so no knitting), and last night was laundry and playing with a very attention-starved Mel.

It’s also definitely summer (though I’m very glad it doesn’t feel like August anymore), so there are flowers to photograph:


coneflower bud1

coneflower bud2
coneflower bud

Ten days: the longest I could go without having a lace project on needles. So I started a Flower Basket Shawl yesterday afternoon.

flower basket shawl

That’s nearly all of the first chart. It was pretty quick even with the numerous interruptions for me to exclaim to myself how much I love knitting lace. Ah, lace. And I don’t even have to worry about figuring out what to do, as it’s all laid out in a couple of charts.

I’ve also worked a bit more on my sock, which is maybe 3/4″ away from being done:


I love my air conditioners. I would be much, much crankier without them. (So you should appreciate them, too.)


It’s definitely gotten more even, and it only broke once during plying. Yay! I still have no idea what I’m going to do with it…. Suggestions would be welcome.

Since my spindle was empty, I figured I’d go back to the brown corriedale for a while. (That was partly influenced by the fact that I’m running awfully low on the orange roving. Must buy more fun roving.) I’m not so sure why everyone seemed to think that corriedale would be a good fiber for beginners, as it’s harder for me to spin than either the merino sample stuff or the wool-mohair of the orange stuff. Still, I’m improving. It’s not nearly as threadlike as the first time I tried spinning it–in fact, I’ve got a few stretches where the single is more like dk than fingering.

In other exciting news, there’s a new flowerbud on my christmas cactus (well, one of them). Pictures when it starts to bloom.

Andean plying (the right way) is more complicated than it should be. At least, it’s too complicated for me when I’m tired and sort of trying to watch dvds at the same time. So I made a mess and had to re-wind my singles, and only just barely had time to start plying (and used up all of the “go to sleep early” time). Eh, well, maybe I’ll finish plying tomorrow night, if I don’t go singing.

I had a wonderful weekend.

It started on Thursday, when I went contra dancing in Glenside. I hadn’t been dancing since January, and it was well past time. It was great fun, despite how sweaty I got, and it was really nice to see the people in the band with whom I went to college. (The one downside was that they’re both doing really exciting things next year, going to Europe for music, and it made me feel kind of boring. I mean, what do I have to talk about? I have labwork, which is hard to explain to non-biologists, and knitting, which tends to glaze the eyes of non-knitters, and living-in-Philadelphia, which is just intrinsically less exciting than touring Europe with a choir and studying voice in London or getting a fellowship to study accordion in northern Europe. I like my life, though, so things are good.)

Then, on Friday, rather than my usual retreat to my apartment for some quiet, I went to Vientiane Café for dinner with Anju, who was in from the ‘burbs for the day, and Dan. After dinner, we went to a Bach concert put on by Chloe‘s choir and the Philadelphia Baroque Players. Aside from my getting us lost on the way there because I’d misremembered the directions (I need to stop doing that, at least when there are other people around; trusting that I’ll be able to figure something out works better when I’m alone), it was great. It’d been way, way too long since I’d heard live baroque music. (It’s quite possible that I hadn’t been to a baroque concert since college, which would make that three years.) It also provided me with time to knit the heel on my sock.

Because I am crazy, I stayed up late after I got home because I wanted to cast on for klarabrite. It wouldn’t’ve been quite as bad if I’d been able to cast on/knit without interruption, but Mel decided that the space behind the corner bookshelf was a perfect hiding place, especially because the stereo cords made such good chew toys. The only thing that would distract him was the laser pointer, so, every couple of minutes, I’d put down the knitting and lure the kitten away from the stereo.

On Saturday morning, I was (briefly) virtuous–I went to work for about an hour. On the way home, Angela (who’d also been in lab) and I stopped at the flea market that was being held in the park across the street from my apartment. There was some junk, some nice but expensive stuff, and a couple of booths of interesting-and-reasonably-priced things. I bought this mask for my dad for Fathers’ Day:


It’s a representation of Hanuman, and I think it’ll go nicely with the rest of my dad’s mask collection. (Yes, my (small) mask collection is a sign that I’m following the tradition started by my grandmother, who actually made two of my four masks.)

Saturday evening was spent happily at a bar called the Black Sheep with Stephanie, Anj, Juno, Amy and Ann, whose blog addresses I don’t know, and a few other people whose names I didn’t quite catch. (Remind me, and I’ll fix this.) It was a good thing we were almost the only people on the second floor–we got a bit loud. As usual, no people pics from me, but Anj has a couple up here. During that time, I knit maybe three quarters of an inch of sock cuff.

I spent Sunday morning lazing around (and learning first-hand why my dad precooks the potatoes for home fries), and then I wandered off to Stephanie’s official book tour event thingy. It didn’t really seem like a reading, and it wasn’t just a signing, and it was a lot more conversational than a talk, so I think I’ll continue to call it an event thingy. Anyway, the windows at the synogogue where we started were lovely–I’ll have to go back sometime when they’re lit from inside–and I managed to hang out at Rosie’s for over an hour and not buy anything. (Before you think too highly of my self-control: I’ve got a frequent buyer card discount to use, so I’m going to go back when it’s less crowded and get a couple of books and some lantern moon dpns. And maybe a couple of Skacel bamboo circs, since they look pointier than clovers or plymouths. And I’m planning to check out Loop again, now that it’s past MDSW.) Also, because it was a knitting event thingy, I kept working on my sock and klarabrite. Here’s what they look like now:

Klarabrite bottom
I’m doing a diagonal rib for the edging. I’ll *make* it go with the rest of the sweater.

wildfoote sock
Just a few more inches!

When Anj, Sue, and I were all ready to leave Rosie’s, I decided to continue wandering with friends instead of going back to work. We looked around the art fair in Rittenhouse Square for a while; there was a lot of mediocre or really not my taste stuff, but also some really lovely artwork. Of course, the only way I can afford original artwork these days is to have the artist like me enough to give me art as holiday/birthday presents. (This works pretty well, as I have half a dozen friends & relatives who are highly talented [non-fiber]artists, but it does mean that there are limits to what I’ve got.) And then we got Capogiro gelato. Mmmmmmm….. Bitter chocolate and very minty mint, made so that the egg didn’t set off my sensitivity/allergy (unlike some more commercial types, which do). Yum.

what we were gazing at while we ate our gelato

The most exciting bit of the evening (hanging out with friends, although fun, should not be “exciting”; it should be comfortable) was getting to try out Anj’s spinning wheel. There are more things to keep track of with a wheel than there are with a drop spindle, but it’s not really that different. Maybe (if I have money left after buying a car and a digital SLR) I’ll get myself a wheel when I graduate.

Sorry, Chantal, I’ve spun a bit on a wheel already. I’m still looking forward to playing with yours!

I finished pinning it out at about 1:00 this morning. I decided not to knit another repeat after the eyelet row. I started to use a picot cast off, but I thought it looked out of place and kind of busy, so I just used my standard k2tog bind off. Here it is, cast off but unblocked:

flower-lace done

And nearly dry, this morning:

flower-lace blocking

I have to re-block the corner that wouldn’t quite fit, but I like the way it came out.

Mel was kind of tired last night, while I was busily binding off, but he was comfortably settled on the green to-be-felted bag. I wouldn’t’ve let him sleep on a non-felted project, but this one shouldn’t mind some kneading.

Mel yawn

The goodie bag behind him is black Encore that I bought on Saturday for the body of a klaralund-lite brite hybrid sweater. I knit up one swatch, on 7s, but I think I want to see what the fabric looks like on 8s.