Thursday, February 26, 2009

Vintage Pattern Thursday

This week, I've chosen a few vintage knitting patterns from the 1940s. It seems like shoulders were particularly important in this decade.

Sweetgum Duncan--a new knitting pattern

Confession time: I've been keeping a secret from all of you. While I distracted you with pretty pictures of food and whatnot, I knit an entire sweater and wrote a knitting pattern! The pattern is called Sweetgum Duncan--an homage to a friend of mine who loves anything with red and white stripes. I'm especially pleased with this design, as I have written the pattern in sizes XS to XL, and it will be published in the spring issue of popknits! Click here to see the preview. The free patterns will be available March 4, 2009. [Ravelry link.]

Sunday, February 22, 2009

New acquisitions

This weekend was another busy one for me. Although I was dreading a lack of free time, I actually had a very pleasant weekend. Friday and Saturday I helped out with the Southwest Indian Arts Fair. I checked in art that was submitted for the judged competition, and made sure it was safe and unharmed for the duration of the show. This gave me a wonderful opportunity to get to know some of the artists (many of whom are well known for their work). It was such a heartwarming and humbling experience to meet these artists and see the immense quality of their work. I managed to befriend a few, and was really happy when some of them won awards in the show. One of the people I was most proud of was Hector Valencia, a sculptor from Tucson who works in metal. The pieces he entered for the competition were quite large, and contemporary. In more ways than one, they really stood out from the competition. It was only his second time showing these pieces, and he was really honored to receive an award for achievement in sculpture. At the fair the next day, I was then truly honored, as Hector insisted on giving me one of his handcrafted bells.

I picked out this bell with a cow skull, as I think it will be a great souvenir of my time in the Southwest, and of my experience working with Hector and the other artists. Plus, I love the earthy colors, the perforated metal, and isn't that just about the cutest cow skull you've ever seen? I think it's pretty cool.

Following the art fair, I stopped by the University for another art show--this one consisted of students and alumni from the art department, and included my friend Jessica Drenk. This was her final show before moving to the other side of the country. I'm a huge fan of Jessica's work--it's the kind of art I would like to make, were I as talented and creative an artist as her. Although I'm sad to see her leave town, I am really thrilled to be the proud new owner of one of her works. The piece above (with a detail below) is called Bibliophylum, Excerpt #25. Jessica uses everyday items--in this case a book--and creates something entirely new and different. She draws a lot on museums and nature for inspiration. Please check out her website--and don't miss her Erosions series--this is one of my favorite.

This week's recipes

Breakfast burritos with scrambled tofu, beans and rice. A vegan friend turned me onto this tofu recipe, and I became a bit obsessed with the idea of making it. When I finally realized how excellent this would be in a breakfast burrito, I ran out to get the ingredients right away.

Vegan peanut butter and chocolate rice krispie treats. I substituted brown rice syrup and sugar for marshmallows. I topped them with melted dark chocolate chips. I was pleasantly surprised at how well these turned out, and even more pleased that they tasted just like Whatchamacallit candy bars. These are seriously good, do try them.

Peanut-miso noodles with tofu, broccoli and zucchini. I loosely followed this recipe, but ad libbed quite a lot. This came out pretty well, but I find that I'm not a big fan of peanut sauce on noodles. I much prefer it on veggies or tofu alone. I used the leftover tofu, noodles, miso and scallions to make homemade 'instant' miso soup for weekday work lunches.

Aloo Gobi Masala. Yummy indian dish involving cauliflower, potatoes and peas in a nicely spiced tomato sauce. Served over rice. I added a lot more spices than called for to get a more authentic Indian flavor. I suspect our ground spices in the US are not as fresh and potent as those in India.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Vintage Pattern Thursday

Vintage Pattern Thursday: Project Bridesmaid edition. In which I find a few cute vintage dress patterns that I think would be great to wear to a wedding.

Simplicity 5954: Particularly 3 & 4 on the top row (ok, maybe not in white). I like how they are both sweet and a little sexy.

Vogue 6968: Take a close look at the construction details. I love the way the sides are cut straight across and meet the front and back panels at a right angle.

McCalls 5734. That green dress is so sweet, and I love the way the waist element wraps.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

This week in the kitchen

Crispy polenta and quinoa fries with tomato sauce and zucchini
I very loosely followed the recipe highlighted above, only the microwave directions failed miserably. I ended up adding a southwestern flavor to my polenta with a can of diced roasted green chilies, and the leftover feta and cheddar jack cheeses in my fridge. I also added my new favorite ingredient: nutritional yeast, except I didn't add quite enough to taste it. The tomato sauce involved throwing some crushed tomatoes, onion, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper in a pot and cooking for a bit. This dish was really yummy, and especially yummy as leftovers with a bit of fried egg thrown in.

Soft Chocolate and Raspberry Tart
For many people, dinner parties are a great excuse to get together with friends. For me, they are a great excuse to try out a new recipe. The tart above is my second recipe from Dorie Greenspan's celebrated Baking from My Home to Yours. This was actually quite simple to make, and was a very rich, velvety chocolate experience. I chopped up the raspberries rather than leaving them whole, so that they would make a layer at the bottom of the tart. They really helped to cut the richness of the chocolate. This was almost as good as the chocolate mousse strawberry tarts at the Bourke Street Bakery in Sydney. Next time I might try to make a lighter chocolate mousse for something similar.

Detail of the chocolate and raspberry layers.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Vintage Pattern Thursday

In nearly every knitting pattern book--be it vintage or modern--there are invariably patterns you will love, and patterns you will hate. This week, a study in these contrasts.

For example, let's say you fell in love with this soft yellow cardigan from Reynolds Continental Collections, 1960:

Well, then you'd also be stuck with these matchy creations:

Or perhaps this lovely blouse from Fleisher's Hand Knit Fashions, 1957 is more your style:

In that case, I hope you love having your hips accentuated by big bobble-y pockets:

I suppose there is always a little something for everyone.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Translation from designer

I spied the See by Chloe dress above at a few seasons ago. Although I'm not completely in love with the droopy shape of it, I did really take a liking to the colors. After contemplating the image for some time, I figured this would be fairly easy to simulate at home.

I chose my new favorite pattern: New Look 6824 (which I also used to make this dress), and chose the collarless, sleeveless, full skirted combination. I fussed with the cutting a bit to shorten the skirt and add several inches of black fabric to the hem. I'm not sure if it was my creative cutting, or a flaw in the pattern, but I ended up having a lot of triangles that didn't match up. It all worked out pretty well in the end, though, and I'm pretty happy with the way it looks.

Apologies for my shoddy ironing job before modeling for the photos. I think the various wrinkles and creases will come out with a bit of TLC.