Planning the new plant wall

I’ve been working on plans for my plant wall; sourcing materials, working through ideas, thinking through what will work and what won’t.

I’ve got the room reorganized with crafts and knitting shelves moved, my desk and sewing/craft table resituated to maximize wall space for new plant wall. I’m ready. My plans, however, aren’t. There are pesky little things outstanding.

  • I’ve sourced the expanded PVC sheet needed for the back of the plant wall. The manufacturer has a plant mere minutes away from our son’s home. The snag . . . they don’t do will call. They *must* ship. We’re going to have to work through this issue.
  • How are we going to hang the plant wall so the supports don’t provide a potential path to the wall for water wicking.
  • How am I going to get an accurate enough cut of the 6″ pvc pipe to glue the 1/3 circumference pipe frame to the expanded pvc and get an absolutely perfect water tight seal with perfect mitered corners.
  • I still haven’t sourced the variety of stainless steel screws to fasten the pvc sheet to the plywood back and the felt to the expanded pvc back. This is probably the most minor issue we have.

Wadly came up with a brilliant idea for hanging the plant wall. For those of you who haven’t been in my living/bedroom, I’ve got two places where I spend my time, at my desk and in my knitting nest. The knitting nest is a hammock chair suspended from a heavy logging chain which runs from one side of the room to the other. It swivels, it swings, it’s just what I need for extended stretches of knitting. The chain is held up by big eye bolts which go through the wall. It’s plenty heavy duty. In one of the moves it was easier to install a new eye bolt than move one from the previous location. So, I have this beautiful shiny eyebolt sticking out of the wall just to the left of where my plant wall will live. Wadly suggested installing a second eye bolt and run a rod through the pair to hang the plant wall. THIS IS BRILLIANT! It keeps the plant wall off the wall, gives us the ability to move/remove/maintain the wall without having to undo/unscrew anything! Absolutely brilliant! All that’s needed is two standoff legs at the bottom to keep it off the wall. Plan!

Good times!

Tomorrow my desk gets rotated. That’s one more step toward a new and bigger plant wall. The crafting shelving unit with table has been moved, the bookshelf with all the magazines and WIP quilt projects and equipment has been moved, the new area rug is down . . . I’m getting closer!

Good news, despite fears to the contrary the aquarium does not leak. That’s $200 I don’t need to spend which gives me more money to spend on plants . . . and that’s going to be the largest cost of the build. I’m still researching what plants I want to add. I want another ricinifolia immense (Hawaiian begonia), some smaller varieties of philodendrons, ficus, smaller varieties of fern, strawberry and angel wing begonias, a few different antherium . . . The goal is to not have anything that protrudes more than 30″ from the wall. I’m going to try to pin on some of the more vibrant moss growing on the maples beside the deck. I’ve already got a 50L bag of leka (expanded clay pellets) to use for putting the plants into the wall. As I get plants I’ll bare root them and get them going in the leka substrate so they’re ready when I finally get the wall built. That will help ensure I don’t get anything added to the wall that isn’t perfectly healthy.

The area below our property has been logged. While I dislike the fact we’ve lost that buffer of trees, we can now see Mt. St. Helens from our house, assuming the weather is clear. At our request they also logged the trees on our easement (as opposed to them being taken down by the wind as happened with our neighbor last night . . . ouch). With the pulp wood being stacked for firewood and the better logs held to be processed for lumber, that will provide a very little bit of income Lorr can use toward property stuff.

Good times.

Shrimp Frittata

I had a frittata for breakfast. SO good! Plus I have half left over for another meal!

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • 2/3 cup cheese (I used Colby/Jack)
  • 6 large shrimp cut into thirds
  • 3-4 green onions
  • handful of shiitake mushrooms halved and sliced
  • 2/3 cup chopped cooked broccoli (I cook it in my instant pot and put it in the fridge for adding to soups, stews, omelettes, etc.)

Sautee the mushrooms and green onions in butter. Add more butter if the pan starts to look dry. Mushrooms absorb oil while cooking and stuffing them with butter makes them extra delicious. Add the shrimp and broccoli. Cook until the shrimp is opaque.

While the veges are cooking mix the eggs and cream cheese until smooth. I use the whisk on my immersion blender. It’s fast and cleanup is pretty easy. Add the cheese.

Once all the cooked stuff is ready add it to the egg mix and stir until combined.

Pour it in a buttered dish/pan. Bake at 350 for 30 min. Serve it with diced tomato.

Low carb (keto) hot cocoa

This one is fabulous, contains no dairy and has maybe 1 carb.

Mix equal parts Dutch processed cocoa powder (I’m using Hershey’s Special Dark) and the sweetener of your choice. I’m using xylitol. Yes I know it’s poisonous to dogs but chocolate isn’t good for dogs either so I’m good. Plus I’m not about to share my hot cocoa. Once you taste it I think you’ll agree. I mix a cup of cocoa powder and sweetener at a time and store the result in a glass jar with a well fitted lid where it’s available whenever cocoa craving strikes. If you don’t want to premix, add 1 heaping teaspoon of cocoa powder and 1 heaping teaspoon of sweetener. I know that seems weird but when you mix cocoa and sweetener together it takes up close to the same volume as the sweetener because the cocoa nests into the spaces between the grains when they are mixed together.

Put a heaping teaspoon of the mix in the bottom of a cup. Add ~1/4c coconut milk (make sure you shake the carton first). Using a spoon mix the cocoa/sweetener/coconut mix until all the cocoa powder has been incorporated. Add another 1/4 cup coconut milk and 1/2 cup almond milk (make sure you shake the carton first). Stir. Microwave for 2 minutes or whatever time is suitable for your microwave. Mine’s low powered so 2 minutes works.

If you can use erythritol (I can’t) add two Max Mallow marshmallows to the top. They are fabulous and yes, it breaks my heart that I can’t eat them. Regardless, with or without, the hot cocoa is fabulous. ‘Scuse me while I go fix a cup . . .

 

Amazingly good beef and cabbage

Wadly brought home some chuck steak. I already had a cabbage. I’ve looked and looked for good simple recipes for beef and cabbage and am truly underwhelmed. I’ve tried cabbage rolls which are time intensive, carb heavy (rice) and not very good. Today was a headache day and there’s no way I was up to anything but simple, so I improvised. The result got an “absolutely delicious” from Wadly so I’m rating this one as a solid win.

Cube the beef. Brown it in equal parts garlic/onion oil and butter.

While that’s browning add to the Instant Pot 1 cup of water, 1/4 cup of red wine (I used a good merlo), a couple dashes of Worcestershire Sauce and a good sprinkling of rosemary (I used dried ground).

When the beef is done browning scrape everything out of the pan into the Instant Pot. Add salt and pepper. Lay the tougher outer leaves of 1/3 of a leek on top. Save the tender inner leaves for the cabbage mix. Pressure cook on high for 45 min.

Slice half a cabbage. I halved the head, cut one half into quarters and thin-sliced the quarters so I wouldn’t have long strips of cabbage leaf. Thin slice 1/2 a bell pepper. I used orange for a nice splash of color. Diagonally slice the remaining leek leaves . Sautee the three ingredients in a dash of garlic/onion oil and 2-3 tbsp butter. Don’t overcook. You want it done but still with crunchy bits.

When the pressure falls off the Instant Pot (natural release) pick off and dispose of the leek leaves, add 1/2 small can of diced tomatoes (1 cup), bring up to a simmer, add corn starch to thicken. Serve over the cabbage. Amazingly good. I’ll do this again. My tummy thought it was really good as well.

I know you think I only share this stuff for your benefit but I also do it because I can’t remember what I did from one time to the next and recording my recipes here gives me a place to go to when I need to know exactly what I did.

Update: I need to add a tweak and a comment. I was trying to use up some peppers and onion. I only had about 1/3 of a large orange bell pepper so I added a few scraps of green bell pepper and a slice of yellow onion to the cabbage mix. When the Instant Pot finished venting I pulled the leak leaves and taste tested the liquid. It was a little on the sour side so I added a tablespoon of keto friendly sweetener. When the entire dish was assembled it tasted fabulous. Lots of rich subtle flavor. Wadly loved it.

Revisiting cordwaining

I’m making shoes again.

I bought a pattern and did a test-build. The upside, I learned a lot. I’m totally unsurprised the result doesn’t fit. My feet are pretty abnormal.

It’s important to know what type of foot you have. I have very short feet with very high volume and my foot has a significant curve from heel center to toe center. My foot from heel to end of middle toe is 8.25″ long. My foot is also very wide. 3FF. Until I had custom boots made at White’s I didn’t know there was such a size. Wadly, venerable spouse, says I wear boxes with laces.  Wadly has feet that are the complete opposite. His are very long, very narrow and extremely low volume. He’s living the other end of the “shoes don’t fit” spectrum, he has skis for feet.

The shoe pattern I bought is designed for a more common lower volume straighter foot, something approaching the average foot shape.

These are from two different pairs of shoes, one I designed that fits and the pattern result. The shoe on the left is what fits me. It is loose enough to accommodate a heavy sock. The shoe on the right is from the pattern. I haven’t added a sole yet because the shoe so low volume I can’t wear it with a sock. I have to take it apart and rework it into something with enough volume to accommodate a sock. (See epiphany at end)

Feet come in four toe shapes; sloped, mountain, plateau and square. This shoe pattern is designed for someone with sloped toes with the big toe being the longest. I have mountain shaped toes with the middle toe being the longest. I had to take some off the big toe and redistribute that volume to the middle toe before ever trying the test shoe. There isn’t quite enough height to comfortably accommodate my fat little piggy toes, something another pattern user commented on.

The second issue is the shape of my foot versus the shape of the footbed. My feet aren’t straight. They curve from heel to toe. If my feet were straight I’d probably wear a women’s 6C or D. The left is a tracing of my foot with room for my toes. This is the shape and size of the foot bed that works for me. The right is my foot bed laid over the pattern sole. Parts of my foot go right over the flange and, at one point, out of the pattern. There’s no way the pattern’s footbed’s shape will ever accommodate my foot.

The poor fit is NOT the fault of the pattern. For most people this would be a lovely pattern with a nice unique heel construction. I know my feet are weird and expected no less than a bad fit when someone else drafts the pattern for the average foot.

The pattern video is here and partners the pattern. It’s worth a watch if you’re at all interested in making your own barefoot shoes. The video sound isn’t the best so be prepared to turn it up.

In writing this I had an epiphany. I spend 99% of my time barefoot. I have fake crocs I use for running to the outside fridge or out to meet delivery drivers when they show up when the weather is wet or cold. I can take these “do not fit”s, fold the heel down and turn them into a replacement without too much effort. If I rip the midsole off and replace it with the shape that fits me I will end up with new slipons that will work for that job handily. A new midsole, a bit of sewing and soling, new elastic laces and I’ll be all set. Win win!

 

 

Bra Logic

I’ve been knitting bras working toward the perfect design for me, something that provides a modicum of support while being comfortable. I’ve gotten a really good start with two of three that are relatively no fuss comfortable. Each iteration I learn a little more and make adjustments. All the techniques I’ve been accummulating have come in handy letting me turn my visions into garments.

I posted my project in knitting groups on Facebook and the comments were wild. I had no idea so many women have my problem. Commercial bras are not comfortable. At all. A percentage of the commenters have given up on commercial bras altogether, wearing a camisole instead. Wow. Who knew?

Still Guessing

Still Guessing

I didn’t knit it for Mindy but it went home with her. Purple is one of her favorite colors. At this point I think Mindy’s sweatered out.

I think I’m going to add one more set of short rows to my sleeve cap. Can you see how the pattern rises at the upper arm? Yeah, not liking that. Adding one more set of short rows should fix most if not all of that. This is the kind of stuff I can’t see on the hanger. It has to go on a body for it to show up.

Mindy’s Sheltered

Sheltered

I had a bunch of acrylic yarn I bought before I found out I really don’t like wearing acrylic (itchy). I tried knitting Sheltered (cowl necked poncho) and just wasn’t feeling it. Being a bit of a fit freak, I don’t like clothes that flap around.

So I tested a bunch of things and this is what I ended up with. It’s Conti-something, no picked up stitches, no sewing. The length is what Mindy likes to wear over leggings. The pocket technique is the same as used for her orange sweater. Everything else is absolutely bog standard.

Spring for Mindy

Spring for Mindy
Spring for Mindy

Neck Detail
Neck detail

Pocket Detail
Pocket detail

Sleeve Cuff
Sleeve cuff

Sleeve Bindoff
Sleeve bindoff

Kitchener!
Kitchener!

This one’s got a bit of a history. I have a tendency to wander off onto unexplored paths if I start something and it’s just not working. I browsed pictures (flowers, sweaters with flowers, art with flowers, gardens of flowers) and really wanted to do an intarsia flower sweater. Did I end up with a flower sweater? Nope.

On the plus side, Mindy (recipient) has gotten nice comments on her new sweater so it’s all good.

At the first test fit the sleeve was too tight and the pockets were too high. I was having MC yardage issues and couldn’t wrap my brain around how I was going to make the given amount of yarn stretch to cover the extra five inches needed in length and the extra sleeve width. It was breaking my heart thinking I would have to frog. The pockets were FABULOUS. <sigh>

Then it occured to me . . . I could Kitchener! So I cut the sweater off under the arms, added the additional stripes to give it the appropriate length and save the orange for the sleeves . . . and it came out awesome!

The green band at the base of the collar is double knit to help control the stretch of the neck opening. The outside is green variegated and the inside is orange.

The pockets are worked using a technique I developed . . . no sewing and they come out even and flat and beautiful.

The cuffs are an interesting technique pointed out to me by a fellow knitter (thank you Lorie Yates). The inside of the cuff is variegated green and the bindoff is done on the outside of the cuff.

I learned a lot making this sweater. Did I get the flowers I wanted? No, but the end result is beautiful and Mindy loves it.

The shoulder is conti-raglan.

Mickey’s Vest

This is coming along nicely. This is my third or fourth start. The first was with the requested cables and it was a total non-starter. The back side of the cables were unattractive. No, just no.

Double zigzag

I still wanted texture and it needed to be reversible so I test-knit the collar in zigzag. It had nice texture if you were looking at it from less than a foot away, but it could in no way compete with the bold graphic of cables. Also a no and a frog. Then I hit on a collar I loved . . . double zigzag. It had all the graphic drama, was simple to knit and it was reversible! Woot! But it didn’t match what Mickey had envisioned so . . . .  yeah, frog.

Instead of a tall collar that could be turned down with lapels flipped back (the reasoning for a reversible pattern for the collar), a short collar was what was wanted. No problem!

Vest front

I tried doing a contiguous shoulder and really hated the cramping. Even using two different types of increases to relieve some of the strain in the shoulder line it still cramped. This two-types thing would be okay for a sleeved sweater as the weight of the sleeve would go a long way to pulling the cramped shoulderline open. For a vest? Yeah, not gonna work. I worked conti-something shoulders. It always fits great.

 

Vest back

This (hopefully) is going to work, assuming my numbers are all good and it fits. I’m going to knit a couple more inches and send it off for a test fit.

Heating Pad Yogurt?

I made yogurt yesterday. After scalding the milk, cooling it and adding the starter I put it in pint jars. I had a bit left over, enough for a full half-pint jar. Of course that was the straw . . . it wouldn’t fit in the Instant Pot with the pints.

You know me . . . I can’t waste stuff . . . so I had to come up with a plan! I have a big heating pad . . . what about that! It took a bit of testing but it turns out the #2 heat setting is perfect for processing yogurt!

 

 

New Shoulder!

Conti-combo sleeve capI’ve started playing with a new shoulder, something easy for people to knit that gives a really nice fit. I think I’ve got a winner.

It’s a contiguous shoulder using two different increases paired with shoulder shaping short rows to produce a nicely rounded sleeve cap.

There’s always a downside and with this shoulder it’s the swatch. Cast on six stitches. Put a stitch marker in the middle. Work 2 stitches in seed, M1 (left or right, choose one and stick with it ), k1, sm, k1, work a lifted increase, work 2 stitches in seed. Turn. Work 3 stitches in seed. M1, p1, sm, p1, work a lifted increase, work 3 stitches in seed. Turn. this is where the two row repeat starts.

Work 3 stitches in seed. knit to within 1 stitch of the marker. M1. K1, sm, k1, work a lifted increase, knit until 3 stitches remain. Work in seed to end of row. Turn. Work 3 stitches in seed. purl to within one stitch of the marker. M1, p1, sm, p1. Work a lifted increase. Purl until 3 stitches remain. Work seed stitch to the end of the row. Turn. Repeat until the swatch measures close to six inches.

This swatch gives you row count, stitch count and shoulder row count (the line of stitches that’s on the diagonal).

On the plus side, the time spent knitting the swatch is going to consolidate the technique before the sweater is cast on.

I’ll try and get a video out in the next couple weeks with all the math.

Braised Beef Stew

We were gifted a bag of packages of frozen very lean beef. I’ve slowly been using it up. I’m down to the last package, chuck steak. Chuck steak is one of my favorite cuts because it’s so versatile. Today I made braised beef stew and it’s really good!

I didn’t have potatoes (grocery shopping is scheduled for tomorrow). I have broccoli and carrots, onion and garlic oil, spices, canned diced tomatoes and red wine so that’s where I went.

Peel three carrots, cut them into chunks, peeled two broccoli stems and cut them into chunks. Cooked them in a frying pan with butter and garlic/onion oil until they’re a little bit done. Pull the veges from the pan, put them in a glass loaf pan and spread a layer of sliced mushrooms over the top. On top of that lay a bay leaf.

Add butter to the pan. Salt and pepper the chuck steak, brown it nicely and put it on top the veges/bay leaf.

To the pan add 1/2 cup diced tomatoes (squish the chunks with a fork), 1/2 cup of red wine, 1 tsp Italian seasoning, 1-1/2 cups broth (today’s was left over from cooking chicken) and heat until simmering. Scrape the bottom well to get all the steak goodness mixed into the liquids. Pour it over the steak.

Add a lid and stick it in a 325º oven for 90 minutes. Pull it from the oven. Poor the liquid off into the frying pan, add corn starch to thicken. While it’s heating/thickening, cut the steak into bite sized pieces, divide into bowls, cover with the vegetable mix (discard the bay leaf) and pour the gravy over the top.

I’ll do this again. It’s pretty delicious.

Frozen yogurt

Wadly brought home some macadamia milk ice cream that’s pretty fabulous. Rocky road. Who can say no to rocky road ice cream? I can’t. But at the price, it’s a complete no-go. With discount it’s nearly $9 a pint. On our budget, in today’s economy . . . no. Just no.

Next Wadly brought home frozen yogurt, fudge flavor. Fabulous! Minus the nuts (macadamias in this case) and marshmallows (the source of the can’t-have soy lecethin) it is as good as the macadamia milk rocky road at a fraction of the price. Progress! Yogurt is a pretty easy thing to duplicate at home so . . . why not try?

So, I’ve been making instant pot yogurt and turning it into frozen yogurt and it’s pretty fabulous. The recipe is dead simple. Two cups of yogurt, 1/2 cup of cocoa powder (use the Dutch processed), 1/3 cup honey, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Mix it in my stand mixer until smooth and stick it in the ice cream maker. Yup, it really is that simple. And fabulous.

Recipes on the internet call for a lot more sweetner but it really isn’t necessary.

Now I just need to source the macadamia nut pieces and marshmallows that don’t have soy and I’ll have rocky road ice cream! On it!

Multipurpose Chicken

I’ve been buying ten pound bags of chicken hindquarters and packaging them individually to freeze. I use them for chicken enchiladas, gravy and soup. I’ve developed a couple of recipes I really like; chicken gravy with stuffed baked potatoes for two and two generous servings of an easy and delicious chicken soup.

Stuffed baked potatoes with chicken gravy

Thaw two chicken hindquarters, separate legs from thighs, and brine for an hour. Easy brining is kosher salt in a gallon ziplock bag. Add water, dissolve the salt, add chicken and zip it shut while expressing the air. I set it in the sink if it’s not going to be brining long or set it in a bowl in the fridge if it’s going to sit longer than that.

In the instant pot add 1 tsp italian seasoning, 1 tsp of poultry seasoning, 1/4 tsp hing (or a garlic clove and a quarter of an onion) and 4 cardamom pods. Place the chicken skin side up in the bottom and add enough water to come halfway to the top of the chicken. DO NOT cover the chicken in water. The goal is a beautiful flavorful broth and more water isn’t the answer. Put the lid on, set to pressure cook for 24 minutes. When the chicken is done separate out the meat and roughly chop it. Strain the broth into a container.

Put 2/3 of the chicken in a pan with butter and onion/garlic oil. Once the chicken is warmed up nicely add enough of the broth to do gravy justice. When the broth in the pan starts to simmer mix cornstarch with a bit of broth and thicken the gravy.

Bake a russet potato. Once it’s cooked, cut the baker in half lengthwise and scoop out the potato.

In the bowl with the baked potato guts add sour cream and butter and mix well. You don’t want completely smooth and you don’t want big lumps. You can use the skin to present the potato. Wadly likes the skin, I give it a skip. If you’re using the skin, mound half the potato mix into one of the potato skin halves. Place the potato in a soup bowl (with or without skin). Keep the potato to one side of the bowl. Add gravy to the other side of the bowl. Serve with a slice of buttered sourdough or a biscuit and a bowl of steamed veges.

Put the left over gravy in with the same container as the chicken and left over broth and refridgerate for later use.

This has become one of our favorite meals. In addition to being easy, it’s really easy on the budget.

Easy and delicious chicken soup

Dice broccoli stems and quarter florets. Dice carrots. Sautee in butter and onion/garlic oil. While they’re cooking cut up mushrooms, green onion, peppers (I use green and something else, red or yellow or orange). Once the carrots have started to soften add the remaining vegetables and more butter. Cook for 3-5 minutes. Add the left over chicken/broth/gravy. If the soup is too thick add 1/2-1 cup broth (bone, vegetable or chicken – be aware commercial broth is loaded with salt). Simmer until all the veges are done.

I did say easy didn’t I? And really delicious! All the flavoring has already been added, it’s just a matter of cooking the veges and adding the left over chicken/broth/gravy.

Pork stir fry

If you’re like most folks you’re eating more chicken and pork and less beef. Inflation sucks. Until the government stops printing money and agrees to live within a budget, this up and down cycle is our life. So, for now, chicken and pork is on the menu!

Awesome chili sauce

I bought a new chili sauce and it was crying to be used. It’s got a bit of heat but it’s also got flavor, really nice flavor! So, pork stir fry for lunch!

This was REALLY good. The marinade recipe is for a generous single servering. Wadly doesn’t do stir fry if he can avoid it. He’s like really plain unspicy food and this is not in that category.

Marinate cubed pork in red wine (2 tbsp), worcestershire (1 tsp), fish sauce (1/2 tsp), balsamic vinegar (1 tbsp), honey (2 tsp) and the onion/garlic oil I make (1 tbsp). The pork sat in the marinade for about an hour before I managed to get to cooking. I fried the pork really quick in butter and my onion/garlic oil, dumped the contents out of the pan into a bowl, added more butter and onion/garlic oil to the now empty pan, sauteed halved broccoli florets and carrot (sliced thin on the diagonal). Once they started to be something other than dead raw I added sliced mushrooms and sliced green onion. I pushed that around the pan for a little bit before adding the meat and meat juices back into the pan and gave it a stir. I added two teaspoons of my new chili sauce and some bone broth to the marinade and added most of that mix to the pan. While it was coming up to temp I mixed a bit of corn starch into the remaining bit of marinade. Once the sauce started to reduce I added the corn starch mix, got it thickened and served it up. DELICIOUS.

On my needles

This morning a FB knitting group had a “what’s on your needles” post which caused me to realize I haven’t been documenting what I’m working on. Prepare for a long post!

Preparing to frog

This is on hold for a partial frog. The neck is too tall (I’ll frog it from the top) and the intended recipient has gained quite a bit of weight which means the cable bottom will no longer work.

I will frog it back to 3″ below armscye, add increases and replace the cable bottom with a narrow twisted cable/rib hem. The sleeve is also too tight so I’m frogging back to armhole, knitting to the elbow without decreasing and knitting a cable hem to finish.

This project has been a complete knit from the hip project (the kind of project I love) and has had problems from the start.

In a single yarn order I got two very different dye lots, one a darker skein I didn’t notice until I had knit up the neck in one of the lighter skeins. The shade was so different I couldn’t helix knit and solve the problem. It literally looked striped. Frog. I put the dark skein at the start and ended it when the neck cables ended. This lets the color management look marginally deliberate. With all the test knitting and integrating increases and the dye lot mess I think I frogged the neck three or four times.

The yarn is Paintbox in Racing Green knitted up on US6 needles. I ordered it from LoveCrafts. In the future I will watch more carefully to ensure I’ve received all the same dye lot.


Half the yarn used and it’s hip length

This one has been a bit of a long term project. I love the colors. This is Louisa Harding’s Girandola in Mondivo and Bamboo Pop in Denim knitted up on US3 needles. The skeins are 612 yards each and I started with two skeins of this color. The result at the left is one skein and a tiny bit of the second. I work on this project when I need a rest from all the others I’m juggling. It’s a pet and admire project. I knit for a while, stop and admire the colors and how well the Denim matches one of the blues in the Mondovino.

I would love to have another skein of Mondovino in a matching dye lot but so far, no joy. Ideally I would like the duster to be mid-calf length but I don’t think that’s going to happen. The one batch of Mondivo I’ve found has such a difference in dye lot it is the equivalent of taking a picture of the same item with light on and light off.

I’m going to knit up this last skein and make a nice wide seed stitch hem in Denim. I’m thinking that’s the best I’m going to be able to manage.


 

Reknit to add Sinfonia Azure and the remainder of the yellow

I’m on the homeward bound stretch on this one after a number of upsets. I got the body done and one sleeve complete and had Mindy test fit. It was not long enough and the sleeve had negative ease. Mindy’s like me and likes loose and comfortable.

At this point I had a bit of a panic as frogging the body to the armpits was going to be heart breaking. The pockets were done and they were beautiful! Ack! So I set it aside to ponder the fix.

I was really short on the orange yarn needed to lengthen the body and make the sleeves wider. I doubted I could get close enough to the original dye lot so ordering more of the Cascade Ultra Fine wasn’t really an option. Mindy really liked the little bit of Sinfonia in Azure I’d gotten from a friend’s destash, so I ordered a skein from Creative Yarn Source. I love Sinfonia (it doesn’t shed like the Cascade Ultra Fine and comes in a skein instead of a hank) and ordered yarn for two sweaters in addition to the Azure.

Beautiful pockets

While waiting for my yarn order I had an epiphany. I don’t need to frog my pockets! I can cut and splice! I can Kitchener! What an easy solution!

Then I hit a bit of a slowdown. The one skein of yarn I needed was on back order, reportedly 3-4 weeks out from delivery. In the interim I frogged the sleeve and set the project aside.

When the back ordered yarn arrived surgery was performed and the sweater was in two pieces. The addition of the blue and using up the last of the yellow gave me the length I needed. I am likely to have left over orange as a result. Once the sleeves are finished I’ll Kitchener the bottom to the top.

Double sided neck band

I really love how this sweater is coming out. The colors are beautiful and all the additional touches add to the love. The conti-raglan shoulders fit beautifully. The double-sided neck band is a couture touch I just love. The pockets came out perfect!

I’ve got three or four more projects on needles. When I clear the deck of these three I’ll drag them out for review. One’s a navy to white gradient and navy bamboo fingering held together. One is very small start in Great Barrier Reef cotton in Wineglass Bay I may frog and reknit for a friend of Mindy’s. One is a 4-ply cotton dress that’s at the boring stage, miles and miles of stockinette. I pretty sure there’s at least one more lurking in my WIP box waiting for my attention. I also have an open vest request from a very close friend. She wants the cable neck in Paintbox Racing Green (yes, I got all the same dye lot this time) and the body of my short duster. It should be a fairly quick and fun knit. Reminder, I need to check with her about pockets.

 

Duster Progress

I’ve been slogging away on my Louisa Harding Mondovino duster. I’m halfway through my second ball (612 yards each) and I’m really pleased. This is conti-something, no picked up stitches. I’m working four increases, one under each arm and two running down the back. The increases are getting farther and farther apart as the rows are knit with one row being added between each increase row. I am currently at 15 rows between increases.

If I run out of yarn before I get the length I want it’ll be a long vest instead of a duster. I can live with that. If I can get something approaching duster length I’ll add a generous seed stitch border at the bottom for balance.

 

Pork Marinade

I bought a marinade that I really enjoyed . . . except for the burning stomach it caused. Why? Not sure. Probably coconut aminos, one of those things I should be able to eat but can’t. So the quest is . . . duplicate the taste without upsetting my gut. What I’ve got is really close and delicious.

This is a one-person recipe because I like sauces and spices and Wadly likes simpler stuff.

  • 1 medium tomatillo
  • 1 tbsp garlic/onion oil (I make it because I love the flavors)
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp bone broth

I process it with an immersion blender. You could do the same thing with a blender, it’s just more things to wash when you’re done.

Cube the pork and dump it in a bowl with the marinade. Stir.

Do your veges . . . broccoli, carrot (saute these two while cutting up the other veges), yellow onion,  bell pepper (I used green and orange), mushrooms (I used shiitake).

Add the remaining veges to the carrots/broccoli. Cook until al dente, transfer to a bowl.

Add the pork and marinade to the pan. Cook until mostly done. Add the veges back to the pan and finish cooking.

It’s simple and really good!

A new take on egg salad

Have you every had egg salad that was actually a salad? It’s really good.

Of course I have to add lots of other things . . .

  • 2 hard boiled eggs (crumble the yoke, dice the white)
  • diced dill pickle
  • diced red pepper
  • diced yellow pepper (you don’t really need both but I like ’em)
  • sliced green onion
  • diced tomato
  • spring salad greens
  • Sir Kensington Mayo

This is a lovely salad. Stir the mayo into the egg and diced veges, stir in the lettuce . . yum!

For me, a big bowl of this is a lovely dinner. If you don’t want to have it as a stand alone dinner, pair it with pork chops or steak!

Substitutions

I love the taste of garlic. Because I can’t use garlic (high FODMAP) I frequently use garlic oil when cooking. With supply chain issues, it’s currently not available.

I’m occasionally not a very patient person. I’m perfectly happy to improvise when things aren’t going my way. Because the store is out of garlic oil, I decided to make my own.

I’m not a huge fan of olive oil, the base for commercial garlic oil. It’s too hard to get oil that’s truly 100% olive. Usually it’s mixed with something else, often soy which I don’t tolerate at all. This is a significant strike against commercial garlic oil. Is the oil used really 100% olive oil?

So . . . substitution for commercially produced garlic oil . . . I’m using sunflower oil, my preferred oil for everything.

I filled my 10″ cast iron pan with about 3 cups to which I added 2 head of thinly sliced garlic. I cooked it until the kitchen was filled with the heavenly (to me) smell of garlic. I have no clue how long I cooked it. It looked right, it smelled right . . .

I sifted out all the garlic slices and the result is . . . lovely. I’m using more than I would normally but I’m also into it for far far less than the cost of the prepackaged garlic oil.

Win win!

Commercial marinade that rocks!

I love stir fry but a good stir fry is hard to create without soy sauce . . . which I can’t eat. My “no soy is good soy” aversion extends to the soy lecithin used to make chocolate deliciously smooth. I just can’t do it. The guilty pleasure isn’t worth the subsequent pain.

New to my cooking is a soy free teriaki sauce that rocks! I was surfing through groceries filling my Walmart pickup order (Wadly won’t go in the store but he will pick up an order) and ran across this marinade. It’s really good!

So in addition to my chowder, to which I am still addicted, I now have another meal that’s going to be a regular favorite, stir fried pork.

On the differences in Chardonnay

When Wadly brought home my first bottle of chardonnay for cooking, he was working on the advice of the booze guy at the store and all was good. When I find something that works I stick with it and that’s what he got for me each time I needed a new bottle.

Fast forward to supply chain issues . . . and the wine I was used to seasoning around is currently unavailable. A LOT of wine that would be an adequate replacement is also no longer available. Wadly brought home a box of “house chardonnay”. Yup, not kidding. And the seasonings that go with my preferred choice do not work with “house chardonnay.” At all. My wonderful seafood chowder is not stellar with the new wine and the old spice mix.

If you’re trying my chowder and you’re singularly unimpressed, leave out the spices. Try the chowder with just the veges, broth, wine, cod, shrimp . . . and add fish sauce, Worcestershire sauce and a little bit of balsamic vinegar. From that point you can play with other spices if you feel the need. So far . . . I haven’t.

I know I’m going to want the additional spices when I return to my preferred chardonnay, but until the box wine is gone and our store shelves are restocked, this is a perfectly fine solution.