March 2007


March was my Month Of Many Concerts.  I attended five shows in four weeks: those represented above, plus Anonymous 4 on the 1st (the ticket stub for which has disappeared).  A lot of my month has been about running around like a madwoman but doing more fun stuff than in the running-around-like-a-madwoman of January and February.  Four of the shows (everything except the organ recital, which was by far my least favorite of that series)  were great, and I am content.

And here’s a picture from the Decemberists show (the only one at which I took out my camera):




It’s spring!  Today’s ECF pictures are from last Sunday.  The second one’s a magnolia, which is no longer quite representative–they’re pretty much all blooming now.  By the time you read this, I’ll be substantially farther south (VA) and enjoying a spring weekend away from home and work-stress.  (I’ll be back next Wednesdayish, and I’ll have interview questions then.)


My new concert knitting: a plain toe-up sock in Tess’s Yarn sock yarn (from Maryland last year).  I switched from increasing to knitting even just as the My Brightest Diamond/Decemberists show was starting last night.


My most recent fun-with-cooking: puréed soup of butternut squash and kale.  (Oh, how I love my immersion blender.  I foresee lots of soups over the next several months, especially chilled soups as it gets warmer.)  Basic recipe: sauté two small butternut squash with onion, garlic, and ginger.  Add a quart of vegetable stock and season to taste with cumin, coriander, dried hot peppers, turmeric, fenugreek, and anything else you feel like adding.  While the squash is cooking (simmering, mostly covered), wash a bunch of kale and chop it into smallish rectangles.  When the squash is approaching cooked (a fork will slide in but it’s not quite cooked yet), add the kale and replace the cover.  When the kale is bright green, remove the soup from heat and purée.  (I used my immersion blender, which was both fast and fun.  In the past, I have puréed soups in a regular blender, in batches.)  Adjust seasoning to taste.  (This is when I added salt and should maybe have added some cider vinegar or lemon juice.)  Serve with good bread, like the sourdough in the picture.

Questions from Mim:

1.  You spin a lot of very small skeins of yarn.  Do you have any plans for all those wee bits?

The green ones are probably going to wind up in my green freeform blanket.  The yellow/gold/red/brown ones are probably going to wind up in the red/gold/brown freeform blanket I’m going to knit around a couple of rectangles I knit for a blanket a couple of years ago.  The white (plain wool blend/plain cormo) will be for dyeing experiments.  Anything that doesn’t end up in a freeform blanket (or pile of yarn for such) will probably find its way into a stripy something for Dulaan or maybe a pair of wristwarmers.  (My handspun wristwarmers from last spring took less than an ounce of wool each…)

2.  What area of science do you work in?

Developmental neuroscience, specifically axon guidance.  I’m studying how neurons find appropriate signalling partners as they extend their output bits.

3.  What is your favorite thing about living in Philly?

It’s a small town in the degree of commmunity feeling (and the number of people I’ve met in multiple contexts), but with the benefits of a big city–walkability, museums, music, good restaurants, public transit…  (As much as everyone complains about SEPTA, it is worlds better than the public transit anywhere else I’ve ever lived.)

4.  What is your favorite type of fiber?

Wool.  BFL and merino are particularly nice kinds of wool, but some preps of corriedale are really nice, and general, all-around basic wool is good.  Silk can be fun, as can mohair, but I really like wool.

5.  What is your favorite food?

Perfectly-ripe sugar snap peas, eaten while still standing in the garden.  Mmmm… 

If you want me to ask you five questions, leave a comment.   (I don’t really expect it to become an issue, but I’m not going to come up with questions for more than five people.)


my (first but probably not only) version of Liz‘s basic cookie recipe

    1.5 c. all-purpose flour
    1 c whole wheat flour, some of which looked like pastry flour (I haven’t baked much lately, and I think the batch of flour from the bottom of my whole-wheat jar was pastry flour.)
    1.5 tsp. baking powder
    a smidgen of salt
    2 eggs

    1/4 c. oil
    1/4 c. water
    3/4 c. sugar
    1/2 tsp. vanilla

    plus chocolate chips, dried cranberries, and sliced almonds, not really measured at all

    Preheat oven to 350˚
    Mix dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls, then mix together by “dumping” dry ingredients into wet.
    Drop by rounded teaspoon onto cookie sheets, and bake for 12 minutes, or until golden.  (Mine took about 15′.  I got about 32 cookies, I think, which was a nice quantity to take to fiber night.)

Over all, these were very good.  Next time, though, I will try harder to find normal-sized chocolate chips instead of the giant ghirardelli ones, and I’d probably cut the sugar to 2/3 c.  (I will also try to remember to buy more baking soda at some point–mine got infested by mealmoths, and I keep forgetting to replace it.)



It’s really starting to feel like spring around here, but there aren’t many new flowers, and the crocuses all suffered from the sleetstorm last week (which my Crafty Labmate called a "slizzard").  So I’m posting a coneflower.   (This one was in my dad’s garden a couple of summers ago.)


They’re finished!  Unfortunately, it’s been warm enough that I haven’t been wearing socks.  (Well, okay, I don’t mind the weather (yet–ask me again when I go south in a week and it’s 80ºF), but I haven’t had a chance to wear my new socks yet.)



Sock #1 (on the right/bottom) knit from Spirit Trail sock yarn purchased at MDSW06, begun in August and finished over Thanksgiving.  Sock #2 knit from Lorna’s Laces sock yarn, begun just before seeing Enter the Haggis and finished yesterday.  Both socks knit with a 2.5mm needle for the bottom of the foot and a 2.75mm needle for the top of the foot.  Sock #1 has a figure-8 toe; sock #2 has a magic toe. 

I’m happy with my fraternal-twin socks.  There are some things I like better about each sock…  With any luck, I can improve on both of them when I start my next pair.

I’ve signed up for this spring’s Penny-Wise Eat Local Challenge, a plan to see how easy or hard it really is to eat locally while on a budget.  It’s being organized by Jen Maiser, editor of   This particular challenge will take place over the fourth week of April.

My answers for the set-up questions:

1.  What’s your definition of local for this challenge?

I will be using the 100-mile radius.

2.  What exemptions will you claim?

Coffee, spices, soy sauce, possibly soymilk.  Maybe also a grain product, but I’ll try to stick to locally processed grains if I can’t get locally grown ones.  Also my jams from last year, which are made from fruit local either to Philadelphia or to my parents’ house.  (Dairy, fruit, veggies, tofu, eggs, meat, bread, wheat pasta, honey, and as much else as possible will at least be made locally, even if the soybeans for the tofu and the grain for the bread and pasta are not local.) 

3.  Will you be making any changes to our budget goals?

My general budget goal for food is about $45/wk, so I’ll stick with the 1-person recommendation (average weekly food budget) of $68.  I may include some (local) alcohol, but it’ll be within the food budget constraints.

4.  Do you have any additional personal goals for the week?

Well, if I’m going to be eating local food, it’s going to have to be stuff cooked by me.  So the accompanying goal is going to be packing my lunch every day.


(All of this yarn is stuff that I finished over the weekend.  Of course, some of it was started quite a while ago.)

Clockwise, from the top:

• alpaca/wool plied with peony Boogie merino
• purple/brown/blue mixed wools that I carded a couple of weeks ago
• cormo plus a smidgen of blue Boogie merino
• cormo that I dyed with food coloring
• mixed fluff sent by Jen of


This isn’t a new photo, but it could be.  There are lots of snowdrops, a goodly number of crocuses, and even a few daffodils (either in protected spots or freshly planted) blooming this week.  Of course, now we’re going to get snow again…  (I’m okay with the snow, but I’d really rather have a few weeks of mid-50s.  It was almost 80º F yesterday!  It was awful!)

I’ve been on a bit of a kick of using up leftover singles and spinning up the small batches of fiber sitting around.  I think it’s related to excitement over Maryland coming up soon, along with the fact that I know I don’t have enough spinning time to finish a big project (3-ply for a sweater, for example) in anything resembling a reasonable timeframe. 


This is what was left of my Boogie wool in Poppy plied with some natural brown alpaca/wool I bought from Delly’s Delights at Maryland last year.  It’s a little rough from being overspun/plied, but it’s pretty.  So now I have 20 yards of chocolate-cherry-ish fingering-weight yarn.


This is the rest of that merino/llama from Indigo Moon Farms.  I was making a concerted effort to spin fluffier yarn, so it’s much less even than I’d like…but it’s still soft, at least.  (This roving was relatively difficult to spin, because H. had had it sitting around for quite a while–it was felted together in bits, which made drafting tricky in places.)


And this is a further attempt to spin fluffy yarn, from the pink rolags from Sunday.  I really felt like I was starting to get the hang of spinning woolen-style, and I could see how long-draw could work.  I’m definitely not there yet, but progress is reassuring.  (Especially since work is progressing so slowly these days.)  This mini-skein is only about 15 yards, but it’s a nice dk-worsted.  (Amazing!)  Still more uneven than I’d like, but evenness wasn’t the focus of this experiment.  I gave it to my Crafty Labmate, thinking it was a color that suited her, and she said immediately that she had a project in mind for it.  (Which is good, ’cause I wouldn’t’ve come up with anything other than yet another stripy Dulaan something.)


Quick post ’cause things are busy again.  (Why do I ever think there’ll be not-busy times?  I need to learn better…)  On the left, the wool I carded yesterday; mostly Boogie red maple bfl with medium-brown corriedale from Carolina Homespun, plus bits of other stuff, but the pink rolags in the back have pink-and-orange merino/llama instead of purple bfl.  On the right, the Dulaan hat that I finished last week.  Most of it is (someone else’s) handspun that my parents bought at a fair of some kind, I think in Richmond, VT; the blue/green/purpley bits are my handspun, various leftovers plied together.





These photos were taken on my block, on the 3rd.  They’re especially appropriate for today, since there’s a shape-note sing tonight, as the name reminds me of the song called "Rose of Sharon".  And I suppose they’ll have to suffice, in that regard, because I’m going to a concert instead of the sing…  (There are two accessible-to-me shape-note sings every month, perhaps soon to be three.  Mirah hasn’t performed in Philly for a few years.  On the other hand, it’s amazing how often I don’t attend things that occur every month or every week.)

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