Posted in I'm reading this..., Knitting, yarn, tagged books, Fiber, fleece, from Animal to Spun Yarn, Knitting, Knitting around the world: a multistranded history of a time honored tradition, Knitting in America: A glorious heritage from warm socks to high art, knitting pattern, library, The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook: More Than 200 Fibers, upbreeding, upgrading, winter, wool, Yarn on March 24, 2012|
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I find that sometimes my knitting mojo wanes. It’s not for lack of projects on the needles, or ideas for projects, or yarn to knit with, or even inspiration, perhaps just slight burn out? So I tend to turn to all things knitterly or fiberish in print or online to try to occupy my cravings for my fix.
My local library system surprised me by adding a few scholarly reference knitting titles to their shelves and I jumped at the chance to loan them. I’ve been geeking out ever since! So go and search out these titles yourself:
Knitting around the world: a multistranded history of a time-honored tradition by Lola Nargi. A wonderful retrospective of the art and history of the handicraft. I was drawn in by the detail with which she researched each of the chapters and the historical photographs. There a few patterns, the knitter in me would have liked a few more, but as a library reference book this title is quite inclusive. I was a tad disappointed to not find any mention of the country where my ancestors harken from; Poland. I have yet to see it mentioned in any ethnic knitting book, I know there are lots of elaborate folk embroidery patterns from there and the Ukraine area, but I couldn’t help being curious and hopeful for a mention. Personal let downs aside I still had to renew it after the three-week loan because it was such a fascinating read. (Voyageur Press, 264 pages, $35.00 list price)
After reading about the international history of knitting I loaned the title, Knitting in America: A glorious heritage from warm socks to high art by Susan M. Strawn Forward by Melanie Falick. It’s not often I enjoy a forward or introduction to a nonfiction book as much as I did this one, each wet my appetite for this enjoyable and readable retrospective. The images were the first thing that grabbed me on the cover, because of course we all love to judge a book by the cover, but that is like assuming there is nothing inside a creme puff! Yet inside this volume there were delectable chapters of our eras in history complimented by savory images I had never seen before. Some of my favorites were the modern art pieces towards the end, they inspired me to knit outside the pattern so-to-speak. There are twenty historical knitting patterns and the best part is that they are indexed separately in the back of the book! I do enjoy a good index. (Voyageur Press, 208 pages, $24.99 list price)
The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook: More Than 200 Fibers, from Animal to Spun Yarn, by Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius. This title had me ignoring the family for many a night as I studied its pages learning about the many varieties of natural fleeces, how to use them best and where on earth to find them. Did you know that there are eleven classic colors to the Shetland rainbow? or how about the controversies surrounding upbreeding/upgrading? It’s in here! There are even entries for horse, cow, and wolf which I thought were among the more unusual. Most every entry has a photo of the fleece in various stages: raw, clean, spun, woven, and knitted when available. I enjoyed reading the histories behind many of the breeds, especially ones that were left feral for decades or possibly centuries to fend for themselves and how they adapted to the local conditions and lack of shearing. I know now more than ever that there needs to be a space in our family for a fiber animal or five soon, perhaps some angora goats and some guard llamas. (Storey Publishing, 488 pages, $35.00 list price.)
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All I wanted for Christmas was an oven mitt and a clean and organized basement. Did I get either? NO!
So I set about knitting myself and oven mitt, but while I was at it I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try out some color work experimentation because I have never attempted anything of the sort.
Not too shabby looking from the outside, but then an oversized mitten bound for felting can be quite forgiving in the final project.
All set up for the Kitchener stitch, I do it so infrequently that each time I do it I need YouTube's help!
A close up of the floats, no one was too ‘floaty’ for a first time, and nothing seemed too tight until…
But with a little pulling and stretching it seemed to sort itself out as you can see.
I used my own hand-dyed yarn for the orange tones and scraps of brown I had from other projects. It needed two trips through the washing machine for a really good felting. Heck I didn’t want to risk any well done fingers, I already have oven mitts that do that.
For the pattern, I researched a bunch on Ravelry, then I kinda cast on with what I had and went with it. There are a few different styles of thumbs and I chose my favorite, although it seems to have come out a bit stubby.
The finished project came out not too bad for a first time felted (on purpose) project, although it could use a good shave, but I’ll be gosh darned if it doesn’t keep my hands from getting the least bit burned though!
I guess I’ll have to keep my fingers crossed until Mother’s Day for the basement. One can hope…
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Just because there has been lack of blogging in the past two months does not mean there has been lack of knitting. We have been pining away for snow in Western New York, yeah, I know, for most of you that read this not from around here you think Buffalo = Snow. But we have had maybe two sledding days all season. Extremely insufficient and not a good snow shoeing day yet either.
This has been good news for the Mama who has been a bit behind on the Monkey sweater front. Cold nights and hot tea have been conducive for cuddling with Monkeys, wool, good books & movies.
Monkey Boy was a bit reluctant to try on his sweater in progress, due to knitting needles still attached and then because I reached for the only other thing I could think of to help hold the pieces in place = clothes pins! Hey, they worked!
His sweater pattern is based on this one but it is heavily modified. I started it in the round from the bottom up because I hate to seam! I’m using wool yarns I’ve picked up from some local fiber festivals over the past two years that are from regional farms that were giving me very close gauges AND of course were to Monkey Boy’s tastes. Green and stripes rank extremely high on his list of requirements.
Modeling for Mama to take measurements and pictures: Not so much!
No Monkeys were harmed in this photo shoot (they rewarded with chocolate!)
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Posted in Food, My Life, tagged family, Food, Holiday, winter on December 19, 2011|
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This is my Mom, together we worked (with the help of Dad) to make many stuffed perogies for our Christmas Eve (Wigilia) dinner.
Mixing and rolling out the pastry/pasta dough is extremely sensitive and important! Never try to roll out the whole batch at once.
Recipe for Dough:
6 cups flour
1 container of sour cream (not light sour cream folks – this is holiday fare!)
Measure flour into large mixing bowl and create a well into the middle, set aside. In another bowl, beat eggs and sour cream together until everything is smooth. Pour the egg & cream mixture into the flour well. Stir to incorporate all the egg mixture into the flour, do NOT over mix! Dough will be slightly sticky, turn out onto a floured surface and knead gently. Do NOT over knead. It will result in a tough chewy dough – not what we want!
See? It's really sticking to Mom's hands.
Now please don't ask how thick to roll out the dough, because I'm just gonna tell you to roll it out 'not too thick and not too thin'. Too thick and your perogies will be chewy-al dente all over, too thin and the filling will explode when you boil them.
Now for the fillings: our family prefers two choices = sauerkraut with mushrooms, and cheese. Mom cooked the sauerkraut with mushrooms and mixed up the farmers cheese with ricotta the night before so we could just work on the process of rolling out, filling & boiling for one day.
I highly recommend refrigerating the sauerkraut overnight. It was easier to spoon onto the dough circles and seal up the little pouches of tastiness. That mixture can be quite greasy and little pieces of cabbage can inhibit the perfect seal.
It takes a very special tool to seal the perogies. Perhaps there's still time for you to ask for one for Christmas. It's called a 'fork'! Pretty new & unique! Go get yourself one if you don't have one yet - it's all the rage!
To seal a perogi properly: dip a finger in some water and rim half of the circle of dough, fold over dough with filling inside, press firmly, and then proceed to fork seal, then flip and fork seal the other side. After you have quite a few stuffed and sealed, bring a large pot of salted water to almost-boiling. If you put the perogies in a rolling boil you will most certainly cause the fragile pockets to burst!
Gently remove the perogies from the almost-boiling water after the dough has begun to cook. You really will be able to tell, they become more rigid. Run them under cool water, but be careful not to let the water stream burrow a hole in it. Once cooled and mostly dry, the perogies are ready for the freezer bags (our preferred method of stashing them so we won’t eat them all before Christmas Eve).
Of course there will always be a few that break or explode in the cooking process, so you will be forced to taste test along the way. Quality control is a good thing. There are many bonuses to making these: working with family, carrying on a Polish family tradition, learning the tradition, and sharing the tradition with my kids.
On Christmas Eve we cook the defrosted perogies up in a frying pan with some butter and olive oil along with chopped onions. Served along side monk fish, sweet rice, lazy perogi (unstuffed) and sauerkraut with split peas we pass around the traditional oplatki.
Me & Mom just starting out... many thanks to Dad the photographer, barista, and perogi boiler!
This is only half of the dining room table. I did marry an Italian, so unbeknownst to me when we first started really getting serious it really is ok to eat meat on Christmas Eve! I was so shocked my first CE dinner with Mr. Monkey (not yet my Mister) to see all sorts of pasta in red sauce, meat balls, bricihole and not a piece of seafood to be seen. So the other half of our dining room table is loaded with foods covered in red sauce! Have a blessed Christmas Eve.
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