Knitting

In the home stretch

I am in the home stretch on my small Aeolian shawl. I started the edge last night. But of course, with each row, there are more stitches, so these last 40 rows or so could take quite a while to actually knit. Nevertheless, here is where I am now --

I really like the 2/60 silk I am making the olive shawl in. I love these silk yarns and have several of them in my stash. But I couldn't resist adding more, as I believe future prospects for this yarn from Colourmart of pretty slim. This color is called Vicuna but it is a wonderful antique gold which the photo does not do justice to --

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I don't yet know what it will become.


I have been reading a lot of memoirs by women on aging and reading other books on the subject as part of some work I am doing. This week I got a new book, Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot's The Third Chapter: Passion, Risk, and Adventure in the 25 Years After 50. I was hoping for something really substantive on this important life stage. But ... I was disappointed. In it she interviews a number of men and women in their 50's, 60's and 70's, but all them are pretty high-achievers -- CEOs, professionals, artists and the like and their life issues, while similar in many ways with those of more ordinary people, are also often more resource rich than is the norm. I was hoping for her to connect the material from the interviews more deeply to the ideas of Erik Erikson, Jung, James Hollis and others who have written about this life stage but she does not make the deeper connections. In fact the book was slight enough for me to finish in an evening. I hoped for more. It is well written but rather light on substance.

Food By Mom-Corn howder

No pictures but I have a yummy recipe for corn chowder.

Corn Chowder

2 Cups frozen corn


4 strips bacon, cut into 1/2 inch dice


1 medium onion (7 to 8 oz), cut into 1/2 inch dice

1 finely chopped chipotle pepper


1/2 teaspoon thyme


1/2 teaspoon ground cumin


1/2 teaspoon turmeric


4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice


3 cups chicken stock or broth


Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper



1 cup heavy cream



1. Place stock and potatoes in pot and simmer until potatoes are done. They should be soft but not falling apart.

2. Meanwhile, cook the bacon until it is crispy. Add to soup pot.

3. Saute onions in 1 tablespoon of the rendered bacon fat. When they are translucent, add them to the soup pot.

4. Add chipotle pepper, thyme, cumin, turmeric, salt and pepper to soup. Stir in coen and allow mixture to simmer gently for a few minutes.

5. Stir in cream and simmer until soup is hot.

6. Taste and correct seasonings as needed.

Serve with good bread.

Last fall when lobster prices were so low, we froze some cooked lobster meat. We thawed it yesterday and put chunks of lobster meat in the bottom of each bowl, then ladled in the soup. It was sublime.

Spring comes to Maine

It's been a week of working on material for my class, for continuing to knit the 2 versions of the Aeolian shawl, and sneezing. Because although we won't see leaves on the trees for at least 6 more weeks, pollen somehow finds its way up here starting in late March and so I sneeze.

Spring is a slow process here. When I was in college, I remember we would leave Duke  in mid-March and when we returned 10 days later, everything would have burst into flower and the air would be heavy with the scent of magnolia and all the other flowers. But not here on the coast of Maine. Here is the view from my front yard today --

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See, patches of ground appearing. And the crows have been busily pulling off twigs from the lilac bush to build their nests.

Further upstream from here, the river is now open with big chunks of ice along the edges.

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Now the big news of spring in our house is that we are getting a kitten. We've thought off and on about adding another to our family -- truth be told, I could easily become a cat lady -- but we just never heard about the right one. This past week, a woman from the next town over posted to Freecycle that she had 4 Russian Blue/Maine Coon kittens  for the right home. So I emailed her and I must have said all the right things because in 2 more weeks this little guy will moving in --

I'm still knitting

So I now have two versions of the Aeolian Shawl going and I am enjoying both of them.

First, the pale olive silk, which I am making in the large shawl version. I plan to make it a bit bigger than the pattern calls for. I have a black linen sleeveless dress -- whatever was i thinking when I bought a sleeveless dress?? -- and this will give me a nice little cover up for my all-too fleshy arms. The pattern calls for 12 repeats of this first motif -- I plan on doing 14 or 16.


And the pink one -- I did 8 repeats of the Yucca motif and have almost finished the transition chart --

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The snow is disappearing a little bit each day. There are bare patches on the hill now so no more sledding for the kids in town unless we get our normal late March - early April storm. It isn't really all that warm -- 37F now -- but it is above freezing and that's what counts for mud season. This is Maple Syrup Sunday here in Maine with sugar houses open for pancakes and other maple yummies. Days with the temps above freezing and cold nights are the ingredients for good sap runs and we have them in abundance now. We'll be buying some syrup soon.

Food By Mom -- Bread

My daughter, who is a superb cook, called me a while back and said she wanted to learn to make bread. I confess I was surprised that she seemed at all intimidated at the prospect of baking bread because, as I said, she is a superb cook and baker. I offered to show her how and we made a date for me to go to her house to bake bread. I ordered the latest edition of  Bernard Clayton's Complete Book of Breads talked with her about what kind we'd make and got ready. Then came snow, colds, meetings all necessitating rescheduling. But finally yesterday the universe cooperated and I went off to her house. Of course when I arrived, I realized I had forgotten to bring her the book! 

Before making bread, we had a delicious antipasto that she made for lunch --


I learned to make bread using the Clayton book, the 1973 edition. I made a variety of Easter breads, whole wheat breads, all kinds of breads. But the favorite for my family was definitely Onion Lover's Bread. Which is what we had planned to make. But remember -- I forgot the book. But I pretty much remembered how to make the filling, so I figured we could make a basic white bread, fill it with the onion and cheese mixture and make a pretty close approximation of the bread she loves. And besides, the idea was to have an afternoon together and show her how to make bread and that would easily be accomplished.

Aeolian, Take 2

I am enjoying knitting the Aeolian shawl from Knitty. In fact I decided to work on two of them and started the second, which will be a shawlette for a friend, in the pink that I was using for American Beauty. I frogged the American Beauty because it was just not grabbing me enough. But I really like this yarn, a lovely cashmere/silk,  in the new pattern. This is a look at it when I had just started. I'll take a current progress shot tomorrow. I am using 2.50mm needles and 11/0 beads -- a mix of pinks and gold. I decided to make it a bit larger than the pattern calls for and so I have done 8 repeats of the agave motif. I'll get progress pictures tomorrow.

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The first of the red amaryllis flowers has wilted. I think they are as interesting in this stage as they are in their glory -- 

 

Today has been a day for me to do a lot of prep work for the class I will be teaching at Senior College -- Conversations in the Third Act, a look at the psychology of aging. So not much time for knitting or anything else. Watching me completely exhausted Moe -

Food By Mom -- Sweet Potato, Jalapeno, & Corn Soup

We have taken to making soup every other Friday -- alternating with pizza on the other Fridays. And this week, I made Sweet Potato, Jalapeno, and Corn soup.


4 strips of bacon, chopped


1 large onion chopped


2 cloves minced garlic


2 medium sweet potatoes 

4 cups vegetable or chicken stock


pickled jalapeno rings

1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels


1/2 tablespoon kosher salt


1 tsp. Thai chili garlic paste


coarse ground black pepper

1. Roast sweet potatoes -- approximately 1 hour in 375 degree over. 

2. When potatoes are done, scoop flesh from the skins, place in soup pot and add stock. Stir to combine well. Mixture should be a little lumpy but well blended. Simmer on medium heat.

3. Brown chopped bacon until it is nicely crisp. Remove from pan and then lightly saute onions and garlic.

4. Add onions, garlic, and bacon to sweet potato stock mixture and stir.

5. Stir in chili garlic paste, salt and pepper.

6. Add jalapeno slices and corn. Stir. Taste for seasoning. Add salt if needed. If the soup is to thick, add a bit of cream or water to desired consistency.

I knew I'd know...

Remember how I said I knew I would know the right pattern for the olive silk when I found it? Well, I believe I found it -- the Aeolian Shawl in the new Knitty. I am planning the full shawl version and cast on for it last night.

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I am using  2.5mm needles and 11/0 beads. And I like what I am seeing so far.

In other knitting progress, here is that cash/silk one --

I like the pattern stitch a lot but this yarn is very soft and drapey and the stitch may need something crisper. So I am iffy about it in this yarn. I am thinking it might do better in something more flowing. So I'll have to think about it for a while.

Or maybe I am just too restless to decide at this point. Restless Knitter Syndrome -- my great discovery!

The next amaryllis is ready --

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Knitting Restlessness

My knitting restlessness persists. I frogged the olive silk -- love the yarn but I need to find just the right pattern for it. So then I decided to try the same pattern using cashmere/silk knit together with a strand of silk -- making something closer to ordinary lace weight. The color, pale lilac, is tough to capture accurately as it is such a soft color. I am using a mix of beads in grays on it.

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The yarn itself is very soft so I won't know until I have knit more if I like it or not. 

I almost used Susan Pandorf's Hydrangea pattern, in the stole variation. And as you can see, I did borrow that garland stitch for the bottom. But I think it needs a different edging on the sides and I wasn't in the mood to derive one. I have enjoyed many of her patterns and look forward to some more complex ones appearing again. I am intrigued by the little bit of Mendhi I have seen so far -- here's hoping beads will appear and she will offer it as a stole. 

The sunrise this morning was beautiful. 


Red Unfolding

Every year I become enchanted by amaryllis. I sit and look at them in the morning and drink them in -- the color and the lushness of the shape. Right now, a new double orangey red one is opening. See how it has unfolded --

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to

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to this today


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and coming next, another red 


You'd think that with the unfinished projects I have, I would be spending time working on a few and completing them. And I will. But not yet. I know myself well enough to know that knitting restless eventually works itself out and so I let myself jump from project to project.

So yesterday I looked at my array of colourmart yarns -- and believe me, there is a lot -- and I kept being drawn to this lovely pale olive silk. It is fine -- 2/60 -- and wonderfully soft. It is a color that I would ordinarily not choose because it leans a bit toward yellow, but it is pale enough that I think I can get away with it. So I looked at patterns I have but none of them quite grabbed me. And I looked on Ravelry at my favorite designers and didn't see anything there either. I went back to Susan Pandorf's Hydrangea Scarf and Stole.

Project Spectrum

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I really like the idea of Project Spectrum and I find the theme this year to be intriguing -- The Cardinal Directions. So I want to play with this, at least with photographs.

For March and April, the theme is North. So let's tart with what is north --

In my house, this is the north corner

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In the dining room, this is north --

And looking outside, this is north

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Looking to the north we look inland. Northward, we see the bridge over the Passagassawakeag River.


Maine Shrimp

It's shrimp season in Maine. All along Rt. 1 you can find trucks selling these delicious little beauties for anywhere between $1 and $3 per pound, fresh caught. We're not talking the kind of shrimp you get in supermarkets -- the frozen ones in the bags. No, these are Northern Shrimp, pandalus borealis. The season usually runs from December until March or April and in that season we eat a lot of them. And freeze a lot of them to enjoy throughout the year. Or, if you are lucky like we are to live within the area served by the Midcoast Fishermen's Cooperative CSF, then you get shrimp every week. We have a half share and get 10 pounds of them every week for around 14 weeks. Leslie Land has some good recipes for them or you can eat them the way I did today when my darling husband fixed some to eat with cocktail sauce -- absolutely divine!




March Comes In

After I drank my first cup of tea this morning -- the skies outside heavy with clouds warning of the snowstorm coming our way tonight and tomorrow -- I wandered around the house to see what caught my eye. Out my windows, I see shades of gray and brown and white, the winter landscape in its puritan garb of neutrals. But inside are flashes of color.

Like these new beads that arrived yesterday -- I do love beads, almost as much as yarn.

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Or this work in progress -- in 1/28 cashmere/silk -- which I started a couple of months ago and has started calling me again. I love the little beads in the beaded picot cast-on.  

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Or this cone of 2/28 cashmere in the most wonderful deep lilac -- purple is my second favorite color 

Then my eye landed on the table in front of my dining room window, the window from which I took the photos every morning last year --

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On my windowsill, it looks like spring is coming soon. But outside it has started to snow.

© Cheryl Fuller, 2007. All  rights reserved.