Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sorry for the Silence

Its been cold. I mean really cold, 40 below cold. And snowy. How can it be that cold and snowy at the same time? Shouldn't it be one or the other?
  My car didn't start. Like every night after work. Everyone got to jump start my car. User. It's been with all the cars now. Jump starting your car in the dark when its 40 below and the ind is whipping and you've been up for 12 hours and all you want to do is go home, have some soup and watch your hockey team (loose in a shoot out).
  Then all your co workers tell you what is wrong with your car. And how to fix it. Jiggle the key. Tap the gas. Shift your gears. Stand on one leg and sacrifice a chicken (well, not that one).
  I've been on hold with my insurance for a month. Seriously a whole damn month. My call is important to them. They keep telling me that. You think my money would at least be important to them. Since they jacked the rates up. And dumped dental. And gave me the wrong number to call. Then they tell me to go online and use their virtual assistant. She's no help, she tells me to call the lady that says my call is important.
  I've been knitting socks. Well, a sock and I've frogged it 3 times.

That's why I'm behind in blogging. So, sorry for the silence. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Week in the Deep Freeze

We certainly had a weather week in Chicago....The year started off with over a foot of snow, then the temperature plunged to 40 below (yes, it was colder here than in Siberia, leading to the hashtag of #ChiBeria) for 3 days and now the temperature is in the upper 30's.
   This meant a day off of work, two days of screaming obscenities at my car to will it into starting (and being jumped twice in the evening by co-workers with V-8 engines), enjoying the warm up, hating the rain and it ended with the never felt before sensation of hydro planing and sliding on ice SIMULTANEOUSLY! Never felt that before. And it didn't matter which way I turned or how much I pumped the brakes, just a zipping sensation of seeing the landscape pass by again and again. Oh, there was also my commute being doubled!
   When I did have to venture out in the cold all I thought about was Joseph Beuys. I though about his (possible real, possibly made up) plane crash in Crimea and how he only survived because a group of Tartars wrapped him in fat and felt. I was wrapped in wool and a Columbia jacket that reflects back body heat.
   Thank goodness for the weekend and being able to sit on the couch. I am trying to knit socks and I am having a very hard time finding a simple sock pattern. In English. Some how the Germans have corned the market on sock patterns. My college German is a bit rusty, so all I can translate is that if I have any frage I can telephone some long distance number. I think I will try a pattern from lion brand, I've already frogged my project once, I can always frog it again!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Knitting in the New Year

So, I recently joined Ravelry (as CityMink). I've been a long time member but, never got around to uploading much. I had time off around the holidays so I updated my profile a bit, uploaded my needles and added some projects.
   Uploading my needles was not easy but now I know exactly what I have and because I downloaded an App that connects to Ravelry I have those needles at my fingertips at all times. This is very exciting because I won't have to keep guessing at what needles I need (I have 3 pairs of circular needles in size 8?!). My only complaint about being a knitter rather than a crocheter is that knitters need straight needles, circular needles, double pointed needles...crocheters just need hooks. Knitting needles come in all lengths and sizes.
   A couple years ago I found a free pattern in the LA Times for a chunky knit scarf (and now chunky knits are in, maybe I'll put it up on Etsy) that called for size 45 needles. I walked into a knitting store in Long Grove to buy some and was mocked by that staff. That experience alone put me off going to knitting stores for years! I finally found some at Michaels and I picked up some Lion Brand Chunky yarn too.
   I have since found yarn stores were people are genuinely nice and thrilled when you come in with odd requests. Knitting is now something that people of all ages and backgrounds embrace. You want to make yarn out of your dog's fur? Fine. Arm knitting? All the rage now.
   The wonderful thing I've found with Ravelry is that you can ask a question about a project and get answers from people all over the world. You also realize that the really cool knit cowl you just finished is wrong.
   I found some yarn from Paton's that is a metallic thread around a black base. Really shiny and slick. It's kind of a pain to work with because it catches on everything. I bought a ball in green and one in copper. I found a pattern on Paton's website and after perfecting my yarn over's I gave it a go.

Really cool, right? I then looked at similar patterns on Ravelry and realized that somewhere I went terribly wrong. This isn't what the scarf is supposed to look like at all! I love the pattern, but its not what it is supposed to be. I don't think I could ever replicate this loopy seaweed pattern again. 
   I started again with the ball of copper yarn and obsessively counted. It turned out the way it was supped to. 

I am calling this one "Tiger Stripes". 

I have a bunch of projects lined up for the new year, lets see if I can keep up with them all. They are all just practice to get my fingers and skills warmed up for the lace work shawl that will be knit with my Mink yarn!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

A New Years Eve Cake with David Frost-ing

  I was very lucky to have both New Years Eve and New Years Day off this year. Mainly because it snowed non stop both days and doing anything but stay inside and bake/ watch T.V. would be silly. 
  Ever since I saw Julie Richardson's "Vintage Cakes" book I've wanted to bake her Watergate Cake with Impeachment Frosting. The mix of cake and pistachio pudding seemed to be a match made in heaven. Originally the cake recipe was pudding mix and box cake mix; "Vintage Cakes" elevates the recipe with from scratch versions of pudding, cake and icing. 
   The pudding mixture may not look like you remember pistachio pudding to be (no electric green color) don't be put off by the color! It tasted wonderful and once you mix it into the cake and the frosting it takes on a pleasant pale sea foam green appearance. 
   After reading many reviews on other blogs of the cake I re dubbed the Impeachment Frosting "David Frost-ing". Due to the fact that people thought this frosting had peach in it (???) and because I like witty play on words desserts. Also, David Frost passed away this year and it seemed like a clever way to pay a tiny tribute. 
  Special items you will need include a food processor and 3 8" cake pans. Don't be put off by the price of raw pistachios, all nuts are pricey and you do get a good punch of flavor with this cake. 
   I could eat the frosting by itself. Mascarpone and pistachio pudding -yum! Stick this frosting in a cannoli shell and put some mini chocolate chips on top and you have the best cannoli ever made. 
   Final take on this recipe: Delicious, a little time consuming (not really on a snow day), well worth it in the end and cake freezes well if you slice it and use parchment paper in between slices. 

I didn't use all of the frosting and I left the sides bare

A small piece will do just fine