A pause in the lace

Sometimes even a lace fanatic has to knit something other than gossamer confections of lace and beads. Really. So I started a hat yesterday, a slouchy beret which, yes has a bit of lace to it. You can find the pattern for the Meret on Ravelry. I am making mine out of 2 strands of sock yarn knit on size 7 needles.


The yarn is from Ball and Skein -- I love the greens!

I got a late birthday/early Christmas present last week -- a new camera. I am a huge fan of the Panasonic Lumix line. They have great Leica lenses and are a delight to use. I upgraded from an FZ 20 to an FZ 28, which has a 27mm 18X zoom lens. You'll notice in the photos from my window that you see a wider area now, the happy result of a wide angle lens. It is also great with closeup shots like the one above.

Here is how things look this morning in Belfast on the last day of November --


Food By Mom -- Chinese Curry Buns

This recipe is adapted from Dim Sum: The Delicious Secrets of Home-Cooked Chinese Tea Lunch, out of print but probably available used. It is one of the things my kids often ask me to make for special occasions, as my son did for Thanksgiving this year. 


1 T. dry yeast

1 3/4 C warm water

3/4 C sugar

1 tsp baking powder

6 1/2 C all purpose flour

Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Immediately add the baking powder and then the flour. Knead until the dough becomes elastic ad smooth. Place in a big bowl, cover with damp cloth and allow to rise until dough doubles in bulk. Punch it down and it is ready to stuff.


1 lb ground pork

2 stalks green onion, finely chopped

1-2 T curry powder

1 T. hoisin sauce

1 T. catsup

1 T. soy sauce

1 T. oil

Brown the pork in oil. Add all the seasonings and then the green onion. Mix well. Chill completely.

To make buns, divide dough into around 36-48 balls. You may then roll out each ball into a disk or shape with your hands. Try to leave the center somewhat thicker than the edges. Place a spoonful of filling in the center of the disk. Then bring the edges up and into the center. The dough should self-seal as you do this. Check to make certain no liquid leaks out. Then place sealed side down on greased cooking sheet. Set buns 2 inches apart and allow to rise for an hour.

A good deal

I started wearing glasses when I was 9. I distinctly remember the day I got my first pair and the wonder of discovering I could see individual leaves on trees. I am very nearsighted. I don't do anything without my glasses. And glasses are expensive, which has meant I would wear a pair until the lenses were pretty scratched -- because in recent years my prescription hasn't changed much from year to year. Then a year or so ago someone told me about buying glasses online. And directed me to an article in Slate about this. I bookmarked it and forgot it...

until this year when the scratches on my glasses just got to be too much. I dug out that bookmark and the article convinced me it was worth trying -- because I was quoted a price of over $500 for new glasses at my optometrist!

I ordered from two places and paid less for 2 pair than I would have for one -- in fact less than half of what I would have paid for the pricy ones. The first pair, from, arrived today. They fit great. The lens quality is terrific -- of course compared to my old pair, they couldn't help but be better. I have no financial interest in this company, just a satisfied customer. 

I succumbed

I looked at that pattern for the Lace and Rib cardigan, this one


and I looked at yarns. I looked at all my favorite yarn sites. I thought about Elizabeth Lavold Silky Wool, a yarn I really like. I thought about a coupe of nice choices at WEBS.   I thought about using my royal blue silk. And then I wandered by and looked at the DK weight merino and I succumbed to this:

A beautiful deep red. And it's on the way. And at 15% off because Richard is giving customers a discount.

The futility of progress pix

Good grief, it takes forever to do one row on Snowflake Peacock. Yeah, yeah, I know I have complained about this before. So progress pictures don't mean much. This is what it looks like now


Yup -- pink with beads.

I am seriously considering knitting #13, the lace rib cardigan in the Vogue Holiday Knitting issue. I will have to size it up a bit, which doesn't look like a problem. I believe I have enough silk in a beautiful cobalt blue to knit the whole sweater and it would be really pretty I think. It seems like I am getting itchy to knit a cardigan. I also look a lot at the pattern for Oblique from last winter's Knitty but I'd have to buy more yarn for it. 

There are more projects in this issue of Vogue that I like than in IK. Maybe it's getting to be time to give up IK. I think I have aged out of whatever is their demographic. 

Today it is not as cold or windy as it was over the weekend. But my photo from this morning says November to me --


The water is so smooth, it looks like ice. 

Food By Mom -- Greek Beef Stew

It's COLD today -- just 25F, and a howling wind giving a wind chill of 11F. And it is snowing off and on 


A perfect day for a nice hearty stew. Now I don't really like regular American beef stew, the kind my mother used to make. So I looked a long time for something that would have a deeper flavor. I have no idea where I found this recipe, which I have been using for at least 25 years. It makes plenty for yummy leftovers.

 olive oil or butter for browning meat and onions

3  pounds  beef chuck or top round -- cut in 2" cubes

3  cloves  garlic. chopped

3 bay leaves

1 cinnamon stick -- broken in half.
2" long
 or 1.5 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

1  teaspoon ground allspice

15 oz can crushed tomatoes in tomato sauce -- I use Muir Glen Fire Roasted crushed tomatoes

1½  cups full-bodied red wine

3 medium onions cut into medium sized chunks

In a Dutch oven over high heat, warm oil. Add beef and brown well on all

Add garlic, bay leaves, cinnamon, and allspice; stir well. 

Where I have been

I haven't really been away at all. But I have been busy. Because I finished up a revision of a paper that I have been working on forever -- well, 4 years anyway. Being a clinician means there is no  pressure on me to publish but I came out of a program that pushed us to be "conceptual leaders". It took me a long time to find concepts I wanted to lead. So my list of publications is *extremely* short, in fact nothing since a couple of papers that flowed from my master's thesis and that, my friends, was a long time ago.

But I have been intrigued by Medea and Medea as an archetype for 10 years now. I did my dissertation on her. And this paper, looking at how she is changed in feminist versions of her story, has been on my mind and in the works for 4 years. And I finally finished it, sent t to several trusted readers, made a few changes. Ruminated about it. Read and re-read the submission guidelines. Asked and re-asked my readers if my paper fit them. And then finally I sent it in to Quadrant, which is a Jungian journal. I have no idea how long it will be before I hear anything. And even though my readers liked it and think it is good, I am keeping my expectations low. But it is a big personal milestone for me.

Food By Mom -- Lobster Pizza

I promise you I never made lobster pizza for my kids when they were growing up. In fact we told them lobster was just for grownups and neither of them likes lobster. And I admit I had never had lobster pizza before today.

The guy who was selling them for $4.00 a piece was there again yesterday so my husband brought home 6. We steamed them today --


We used the meat from two of them and froze the remainder -- it will keep frozen for 6 months and we intend to put some up every week while they are cheap. 

For the pizza, we used a good whole wheat dough we get from the supermarket -- made by one of the better pizza places in the state. If you're like me, you'll get your husband to stretch the dough --


Melt a stick of butter with some finely chopped garlic -- we used 2 cloves -- and the juice of half a lemon.


Once the dough is stretched and in the pan, which was sprinkled with corn meal, spread about 2/3 of the butter on the dough.

Full moon and peacock

I love the full moon. Lately I have forgotten to check when it rises but yesterday after a long day I looked out the window in the bathroom -- I submit that our bathroom has the best view of any around -- and there it was, the moon. Something about the moon over the bay just makes my heart sing.


I have had a busy week and not much time to knit so there's not much progress to show. I love the look of the beads on the peacock, but I've got to tell you that it means it takes forever t do a row because there are *a lot* of beads and the rows are getting longer and longer. Still, it is a beautiful pattern so I go on.


I am guessing it will be around 20-24" deep when I finish, which is just right for a shoulder shawl as I intend it to be for my friend.

More tomorrow.

I'm hopeless

I go to to check yardage on something and it begins -- it's like Lorelei leading the sailors to their death, that siren song of new arrivals. And before I know it I have ordered more cashmere and extrafine merino. I am a hopeless case!

From left -t0- right: merino in Winterberry, cashmere/wool in Canary, cashmere in Ember


Now the canary is more what  would call golden rod and is a beautiful deep yellow. Not a color I usually go for but I am thinking maybe something for my daughter.

It's been a week of mostly gray days with brief bits of sun, typical November weather. The leaves are all gone from the lilac I see right outside the window where I sit so I can see the harbor again. Most of the leaves on the trees are gone and the remaining ones are deep gold or brown. In a few weeks we should start to see snow. The turn to winter.


It's a small world...

Here is something that really brought home ot me just how small the world we live in is --

The financial crash in Iceland has made it difficult for seafood processors in Canada to get credit they need which has caused the price Maine lobstermen get for their catch, a large part of which goes to those processors, to fall dramatically. How dramatically? Right now, those of us who live on the coast and can buy from local lobstermen can buy lobster cheaper than steak!

Which has meant that last weekend and this weekend we have eaten lobster -- whereas usually we do so only a couple of times a year. Friday my husband bought lobsters, around 1.25 lb. a piece, for $4.00 each.

Dinner last night ---


This is one Eat Local challenge that is a real treat!

Food By Mom--Chicken Paprikash

I have no idea where I got this recipe in the first place -- it was years and years ago. And I have no illusions about it being even close to authentic. I used to make it fairly often because my kids liked it and it was easy -- key factors for working moms. I still make it at least once a month -- because it is good!

1 whole chicken (about 3½ pounds), cut into 8 pieces*

1 Tbsp butter, softened

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 large onions, thinly sliced

1 Tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika

salt and pepper to taste

chicken broth or white wine, no more than a couple of tablespoons

1/2 C sour cream

1. Brown chicken, onions and garlic in butter and oil.

2. Stir in paprika, salt, and pepper.

3. Add broth or wine.

4. Cover and simmer for approximately 1 hr.

5. When chicken is done, remove the pieces from the pan. Turn heat to high and bring the liquid the liquid to a boil, stirring to deglaze pan.

6.Lower heat to simmer and Stir in sour cream.


Serve with sauce and onions over chicken on noodles or rice.

Snowflake Peacock

I said the other day that I had started this pattern. And I must say it is really pretty --



You can see here I have completed the first chart. I am using *lots* of beads in it, so it sparkles. And I am remembering why I like stoles so much as the number of stitches in this shawl increases so that it now takes forever to complete a row -- and I am not at the halfway point yet!

I need to get back to work on Eve I and complete the tree motif chart. That will be a task for this weekend. I'll have lots of knitting time as I have to plow through the book my book group will be discussing Monday. Figures I would wait until the weekend before to start it -- not that I procrastinate or anything like that! The book? It is The Condition by Jennifer Heigh.

Thanks to everyone who commented about Ravelry. I may have left the wrong impression -- I do like it a lot as a way to see how others have realized a particular design and to look for patterns. Where it does not click for me really is the social part of the network, the connecting with other knitters in person as well as online, in forming relationships. And I do suspect that is a function both of type -- I am really very introverted -- and age.

It was a good day

Dawn, Election Day --


I spent 9 hours today checking in voters at City Hall in Belfast, Maine. A third of the voters here had already voted, but there was a steady stream of people coming in all day. Here in Maine, people can register on the same day as the election. So I got to see people casting their first vote. And their pleasure in being a part of it all. A poll watcher who voted the first time in 1936 and was poll watching for the first time. Babies and children accompanying their parents. Old people. Young people. Everyone was smiling and happy and there was no sign of partisan divisions or tensions. In my small town,  voting is very much a community event. I saw lots of people I know. I have never missed an election since I was able to cast my first vote in 1968. This one was the best.   

I came home just after 5. My brain was fried. My body killing me from sitting in a hard chair all day. I was hungry and tired. But oh, what a day! And then to have the delight of watching the returns come in and know I got t be a part of something really big. Change came today and I got to be a small part of it. It was a good day!                   

Maybe I am just old...

Before I launch into some thoughts I have about social networking, take a look at what I saw this morning. To me this just says winter is coming -               


Okay -- about social networking. I participate on Ravelry. Or I should say I take a look there every day. I don't find too many discussions in the forums that really grab me and when I do post, I seem to kill the thread or be invisible, neither of which is conducive to more participation. This isn't something wrong with Ravelry. For me I think it is a function of discussions splintered into smaller and smaller bits so that threads become so particular that general discussion seems out of place. Again, not a problem really, just an observation. My thought processes are not compartmentalized enough to work well in that kind of discussion environment. I am more of an associative thinker, I believe. So the discussion part is mildly interesting for me to read but not so much for me to post. Which means I am not really doing much social networking. What I am doing is using Ravelry as something more akin to a library of patterns and projects.

You didn't really think...

Just because I've shown only pictures of Eve lately, you didn't really think I'd become a monoproject knitter did you? Ha!

Yesterday I decided that I needed to start over again with that pretty pink cashmere/cotton yarn. I want to make something for a friend who uses a wheelchair and it occurred to me that something more circular might work better. So I cruised through the patterns in MMario Knits Yahoo group. And I decided I liked the sound of the Snowflake Peacock. I am doing the flat version and adding 11/0 beads. Here's where I am now --


I am using size 3 needles with this -- I know most of the folks knitting his patterns use much larger needles but I just can't make myself do it.

And here is something I have started in some cobweb weight cashmere/silk -- the color is called parrot:


Oh and here's another look at the little trees -


It's all politics all the time in my house for the next 2 days. I will be *so* glad when Wednesday comes! I love politics but I really am ready for it to be over for this year.

Food By Mom-- Not Really Chili

I make one or another variation on this dish once a month or so. I like the flavor profile (see I can talk foodie too) -- the combo of tomatoes, red wine and spices -- and it's a good comfort kind of food. It's sort of but not really chili, hence the name. Now this is not a recipe which requires precise amounts of anything, so I will approximate what I used.

Start with meat cut into chunks. You can use chicken r as I did here, pork. I also used about a half pound of chorizo sausage -- the soft kind which I  buy at our co-op. Brown in a pan with a little olive oil, coarsely chopped onion and garlic --


I had some nice small locally grown organic sweet potatoes, so I cut them into chunks -- you could also use winter squash -- and added them to the pan.


Add salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon -- according to your taste. I use around 1T chili powder, 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp cinnamon. The key is to flavor to your taste.

Now add a can of  crushed tomatoes in puree -- I use Muir Glen fie roasted tomatoes because they taste really good -- and red wine, about a half cup.

© Cheryl Fuller, 2007. All  rights reserved.