Thursday, January 24, 2008

Knitting workshop

I'm on the Elizabeth Zimmermann bandwagon. She has many fans, including those who share their projects on the Zimmermania blog, the flickr Elizabeth Zimmermann group, and even everyone's favorite male knitter over at Brooklyn Tweed can be seen singing EZ's praises. I picked up her Knitting Workshopbook yesterday, and already have a bit of a knitterly crush on her. The book reads more like a novel than an instruction book. Elizabeth has strong opinions about how one should knit, but her opinions always help you knit easily and in your own individual manner. I decided to get her book because a lot of people use her ideas to design their own sweaters, instead of blindly following patterns. Her philosophy is also great if you can never seem to get the right fit from the patterns you choose. By reading her books, you will hopefully gain a better understanding of knitting techniques, garment fit and design. Plus she's really funny. I'm already thinking about picking up her other books!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

MSCL revisited

Although I proudly am not the owner of a TV, I do have a TV-related guilty pleasure--online TV shows. When I'm looking for a little distraction, or something to watch while knitting, I head on over to NBC, ABC, or even the CW (whatever that is). Recently, ABC has had old episodes of My So Called Life on their website. I never watched this show as a teenager, but I remember all my friends being completely obsessed with it. I'm wondering, what does it say about me that I can completely relate to this show as a late-twentysomething? Do we never outgrow those teenage feelings of wanting acceptance, finding one's place, etc?

Book review--Suite Francaise

Just a quick note to tell you about an excellent book I just finished reading. Suite Francaiseis a collection of two novellas written by Russian-born author Irene Nemirovsky during the Nazi occupation of France in WWII. It follows the stories of several families during the war, and offers a great deal of insight into the minds of the French at this time. Although I have read many books set in WWII, I felt this book offered a new and well-informed perspective. It moves away from the front lines, away from the larger political arenas, and instead focuses on smaller, personal vignettes. Nemirovsky was of Jewish decent, and despite having converted to Catholicism before the war, was arrested and sent to Auschwitz, where she died in August of 1942. Suite Francaise was published many years after her death by her daughter, who had saved the original manuscripts as a memento of her mother. Included in this version of the book are a series of correspondences from Nemirovsky, her husband, and her publisher, which offer insight into the tragic reality of Nemirovsky's life while she was writing Suite Francaise.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Knit progress

For those of you who who only want to hear about sewing--my apologies, sewing is on hiatus for a while! I just can't put those knitting needles down. I'm getting close to finished with Demi from Vintage Knits. Just part of a sleeve, the collar, then blocking and seaming!

Seeing it all together like this makes me feel very proud of my accomplishments so far. This is my first cabling project, and it wasn't terribly hard at all. Here's a detail of some of the cables and bobbles:

It's really a lovely pattern. If you're a knitter who hasn't yet tackled sweaters or cables, let me assure you that you can do it! Despite the fact that Demi looks like a very challenging sweater to knit, the only two stitches you need to know are knit and purl. The hard part is keeping track of where you are, and learning to read the pattern. But that can all be done with a little help from an experienced friend, or with a good knitting resource. My favorite knitting reference book was given to me by a friend:

I turn to The Knitter's Handbookwhenever I'm learning a new stitch, or when I forget which way to wind the yarn for a yarn over, or when I'm trying to decipher a vintage pattern that has old-fashioned instructions. It would make a great gift for any new or intermediate knitter. It's small, but it packs in all kinds of information along with detailed step-by-step pictures and written instructions.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Our obsession with stuff

I've been struggling with the idea of ownership in my own life for a number of years. On the one hand, I love stuff--lovely fabrics, art from around the world--I've even chosen a career where I conserve all sorts of stuff for future generations. However, I feel bogged down by all the things I own (which isn't all that much, I'd like to think), and my dream is to be able to have only the things I absolutely love and need. I've got a long way to go before I accomplish that, but my current membership to Wardrobe Refashion has given me about six months of a clothing diet--no clothing purchases, just creating things myself and contemplating my consumerist habits. If you're also thinking about the things in your life, check out this great essay by Paul Graham about stuff.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Best Recipe EVER!

I was in Washington DC this summer and had several good lunches at a place called Teaism. They had this great bento box with silken tofu and miso glazed sweet potatoes. I was craving that bento box when I came across a recipe for a spicy tofu bento bowl in Vegetarian Times Magazine. It's nothing like the original from Teaism, but it is fantastic in its own rite. I was very happy to see that they published it on their website for all to enjoy!

My modifications:
1. Add the chili garlic sauce to taste--they recipe can be very spicy if made with the full amount.
2. Use silken tofu--yum!
3. I used olive oil and added a spoonful of tahini (sesame seed paste)--instead of sesame oil, which can be overbearing. The tahini was perfect.
4. It's great over greens with the dressing, but is equally great when you skip the salad part and eat it over rice with steamed broccoli.

I hope you give it a try! If you're more into meat than tofu, I'm positive that the sauce would be excellent over chicken as well.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Holiday catch-up

Just before the holidays, I received this cheerful package. I'm not sure if the sender was really really in the holiday spirit, or just had a couple dozen 1 cent holiday stamps lying around. In either case, it did make me smile.

Inside were these great vintage shoes from the 1950s! I saw them on ebay, and was shocked that they were in my size (10.5 AA--apparently it existed in the 50s, and at least one person had this size. That makes for three people, including myself, that I'm aware of!) I was even more shocked that no one bid on them, and I was able to claim them for all of $8 plus shipping. Score! One shoe has a label inside from the American Shoe Company--Red Cross. They aren't a perfect fit, but I think I'll be able to get away with wearing them on special occasions.

In other exciting news, I have yet again changed my mind about my next knitting project. I went to the Salvation Army and bought this grandpa sweater for $2.50. It was actually quite a nicely knit sweater, and I would have considered wearing it as-is had it fit me. Instead, I unraveled it and plan to recycle the yarn into a new sweater. For an added challenge, I'm going to try my hand at making a designer knock-off of this Paul & Joe sweater. I'll have to come up with my own pattern, inspired by the photo. I've never actually seen it in person, though I think I saw Stacy London wearing it on one episode of What Not To Wear. I'll keep you posted about my progress with that...but don't get too excited just yet, I still have to finish Demi.

After a lovely New Year's Eve, I spent January 1st unraveling the sweater, and making my favorite cookies: Raspberry Rugelach. I had attempted this before without much success, but this time they came out beautifully! They were actually quite enjoyable to make, and taste fantastic. One of the rugelach recipients informed me that these are not cookies, they are "little slices of heaven." The recipe is at, and I couldn't recommend it more highly!