Sunday, April 26, 2015

Paul's Driftwood Sweater

Paul and I just celebrated our 13 year anniversary and, since I learned how to knit shortly before meeting him, it is also my knitting anniversary. Despite many years of knitting and togetherness, I have only made Paul one sweater and that was 7 years ago! There are a variety of reasons for the lack of Paul sweaters, including his specific tastes for how clothes feel, his tendency to run hot and the challenge of finding a pattern that he likes.

Last winter, we spent a good, long while perusing sweater patterns on Ravelry. I was sad to learn that he does not like shawl collars because I think they look quite charming on men. After much discussion and elimination of all shawl collars, we settled on a pattern for him. The chosen pattern was a surprising one to me as it was modeled entirely by women. The winner: Driftwood by Isabell Kraemer. 

Next up on the list of things we needed to navigate prior to sweater knitting: yarn. We wanted to go with 100% wool and needed a line that had a lot of color choices. The winning grey and rust color combination was located in Valley Yarns' Northampton yarn.

What we failed to notice when picking the pattern out was that the neckline is a little low in the front. That fact didn't become apparent until the very last step when I was picking up stitches for the collar. I ended up having to get a little creative with the collar to raise it up in the front. I used short rows to lengthen the front without adding any depth to the back of the neck. I also added an extra button and buttonhole to hold it up. I am not that happy with how it turned out after blocking, but I am hoping it will settle in and look better with more wear. Thankfully, it doesn't bother Paul and he is happy that it has a little more coverage in the collar area after my adjustments.

One last, important decision needed to be made to finish off the project: buttons. Paul is of the opinion that buttons should be there to do their job but not be show offs. He likes it when buttons blend in like wallflowers. Me, not so much. I like it when buttons are a feature or point of contrast, but since I am not the one wearing this sweater, I made a significant effort to find the buttons he wanted. Even after visiting 3 stores, I wasn't able to find any buttons that matched the yarn. Thankfully, I found these buttons at Treadle Yard Goods.   They were acceptable to Paul and added a little extra something to the sweater for my eyes.

Since our collaboration has reached its conclusion just as the warmer weather arrives, Paul will need to tuck this away until next winter. Hopefully this sweater will see him through many winters. If I keep going at this pace, it will need to last him 8 more winters.

Ravelry project link

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

We Still Cook When We Can

Mom's Apple Cake from Smitten Kitchen

Things around our house have been go go go ever since Uli arrived. We have wanted to make the most of this impressionable time in his life so we can reap the rewards later on. It was necessary to be in that mode for a while, but when my schedule is so full, it is hard to find the time to cook for myself in the ways that nourish me best. I end up eating faster, easier food or takeout, which doesn't feel very good on many levels. Cooking for myself helps me feel balanced. As does spending time with my family and creating things. When I realized things had gotten out of hand, I made a point to lighten up on the plans and refocus on what brings on those better feelings.

On a recent weekend, Paul and I took some time to create a labor-intensive meal together that involved us both learning new skills. We made pasta from scratch! It was about time, too, since that shiny pasta roller was part of Paul's birthday present last July!

photo credit to Paul

And, as you might have guessed, we enjoy making things with eggs from our backyard pets/employees (their roles vary, depending on who you ask in this house).

We made a really basic durum semolina egg pasta for our first attempt.

We also cooked up a vegetable heavy, tomato sauce for the pasta.

Making pasta is not very hard if you have the right tools, but it sure is time consuming! I got a bit impatient when waiting for the sheets to be dry enough to cut, which meant we cut them when they were too wet and the noodles stuck to each other too much. Lesson learned!

Our meal was very satisfying in the nutritious way and also in the soul-filling way. And, truth be told, in the wine way, too. I am very glad to have been able to bring wine back into my diet.

In further attempts to bring things back into balance, I have also been trying to reinstate my weekend cooking spree. During these sprees, I make multiple dishes with multiple servings that have the ability to be transported to work and a decent shelf-life. It is my strategy for setting myself up to eat well throughout the week without spending each night cooking.

During one of these sprees, I made a beet slaw with preserved lemons. I am not sure why I have gone so long without preserved lemons in my fridge! They are super easy to make and amp up the flavor of every dish they are in. There are easy instructions on this site, although I don't usually rinse my slices when I use them. I have found the flesh and the peel are both useful. Try blending some in with a batch of hummus. Snappy!

PS The cake in the first photo was amazing and very big! I made it for a dinner party we hosted and it was well received. We had enough to all partake at dinner, send some home with our guests and still have leftovers for ourselves.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Double Double Cloche - Again!

Remember that thing about repeat projects that has been happening with me?  I guess I am not over it yet because I made another repeat.  This time I made a second one because the first one found a better fitting home than I could provide it with.  More on that in a minute.

I think I got it right this time! I wish it had a few more rows, but I think I might be able to get it to stretch in that direction after a little wear.

This time of year is good timing for a cotton hat and this one fits well under my bike helmet!

As for that first version of the hat...turns out it fits a certain little Sylvia perfectly!

She wore it recently when she and her mom Jamie came over to get in on some Shrinky Dink crafting time.

I feel a bit like a Shrinky Dink commercial this week!  I swear they are not paying me for this praise. Here is a little before and after for you.  The ones with the holes can be turned into jewelry or key chains or whatever else you might want to hang it from.

My Ravelry Project Here
Free Double Double Cloche Pattern Here

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