Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Bon Appetit 6 Hour Cake - and yes, it's that good!

In honor of my sweetheart's birthday, I baked a cake.  Not just any cake, but the Bon Appetit Almond Praline cake with Marscapone Frosting and Chocolate Bark.  I will confess up front that it was a special request and at first I thought  - "What, are you nuts!?!"  Now I like to bake, but this a bit beyond the pale.  With about 5 separate recipes to assemble and more than a few ingredients that aren't the kind of thing that usually jump into my shopping cart, it seemed that it was not the kind of thing I usually bake.  Cookies, sure.  Scones, yum!  Doctored cake mixes, of course.  But really!  What the heck - his birthday comes but once a year! 

The first component was the pralines, which were a complete failure.  So I threw them out and tried again.  Complete and total failure again.  Loud, swearing failure.  So what if I skip them? What if I just use chopped almonds and chocolate bark and skip the added sugar?  Will anyone actually notice? hmmm....

I gotta say, no one noticed.   Any 3 layer cake that looks this good and tastes this good - no one is going to notice if I leave out the pralines.  After all, there was the dense almond cake, the rich ganache filling, the mosaic of chocolate bark, and the fluffy marscapone frosting that makes any standard cream cheese frosting pale in comparison.  We had a few friends over for cake, ice cream and bubbly and my friends were properly impressed and will now be inviting me to all their birthday parties, with a cake of course.  Great for my ego, but not so much for my waistline!

btw, the Cobblestone pullover - not finished but so what. Still coming along and I'm on the upper yoke, time for the final decrease and a few short rows.  Some thinking and measuring is in order, so it was not the knitting to do last evening when I was tired and rather baked out.  Besides it's not Olympic knitting! Final pictures coming soon.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Connecting Children with Children

I am writing this from the NC Social Studies Conference in Greensboro, NC where my colleague and I presented our work teaching through the experiences of children.  We are using primary sources and children's literature to teach American history.  We collaborated to develop a number of  resources (lesson plans, primary source sets, annotated bibliography, etc) and shared them with our audience.  Want your students to learn about westward expansion, we have diaries for that!   How about child labor? Lewis Hine took lots of pictures. What was school like back in the day - check out the photos, books, etc.  The young man you see here is a great example of child labor.  But since he is selling the Chicago Defender, we want to know more about his experience in the the Great Migration, when many African American moved from the rural south to the cities of the industrial north.  We could go on for a week - that's the summer institute or just an hour like we did yesterday.  It was a good thing!

Making progress on the Cobblestone sweater.  I am about 4 rows from the 2nd decrease, though for session knitting, I brought a hat.  The sweater is just too big to lug around and the chairs are small and set together tightly.  But this means I'll get  Mike's hat knit - finally!!  I just cast on and I'm ready to go. 

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sings of Spring (Cleaning)

Crocuses!  Just a couple of little gold ones so far, but more crocuses, daffodils, day lilies and other signs of spring are on the way!  Including the squirrel who has been nesting on my porch. Because of the brutal weather, I have been less vigilant about ruining the rebuilt nest just about every day.  Today we noticed swollen squirrel-boobs.  Isn't that sweet?  Shirley is a nursing mother!  Now I will feel really guilty if I destroy the nest.

My BF and I are planning the garden, both vegies and flowers.  In fact we bought onion sets and lots of seeds,including sugar snap peas, various greens, radishes and cukes. Yum!!  We've also layed out a  planting plan - on graph paper, so you know it's a good one.

The spring cleaning is the continuation of de-stashing of yarns that I have not used in a good while.  Time to set them free!  Visit my Etsy shop to liberate these yarns. 

Cobblestone knitting continues!  I joined the sleeves to the body last evening.  Yeah!

Friday, February 19, 2010

And the Answer Is...

Almost 3 inches.  The question was, 'In an average evening of knitting stockinette in the round on size 9 needles, how much sweater will I knit?'  So in about 2 hours of knitting with a break for tea and a slice of rather yummy apple crumb pie, I knit just about 2 3/4 inches.  Not bad, eh?

So with both sleeves completed and the body about 2/3 of the way to the big join-up, the modified Cobblestone is about 50% there!  Once the sleeves and body are on the same needle, it will be slow going for a while, but I am looking forward to the 'thinking' part of this knitting project.

The de-stashing continues in the Etsy shop, as I am continuing to send yarns out to people who will love them. More of that this weekend, but need to measure and take pictures.  I have already emptied one tote box - a very good start!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Charging Along

The Modified Cobblestone is beginning to look like a sweater  At about 7 inches of ribbing and tummy (and lower back), I am knitting around and around and around.  I will be for the next several knitting-hours.  At this stage they are a lot like light-years.  Seem rather endless, but we will get there.  I think I'll mark the starting point of this evening's knitting and see what a one hour dramatic episode of Grey's Anatomy high toned public television knits up to.  An inch?  That's my guess.

Since the Classic Lines Cardi was knit on size 5 (3.75 mm) needles, these big, honkin' size nines (5.5 mm) are flying!  Love it!  I like the rich brown color too.  Looking forward to putting it all together! 

Not the labor saving device in the lower left corner.  I finally wised up and did the first 4 rows of ribbing back and forth and then and only then joined them into a ring.  Much harder to twist your stitches if you have enough to see. 

Monday, February 15, 2010

What Does this Tiny Bit of Knitting Mean?

In short, it means that I have completed 2 sweater sleeves and have started in on the waist ribbing.  A weekend at home with books to read and videos to watch means that I got a lot of knitting done.  'What,' you say.  'No Olympics?'  As I cast on 2 days early and could not justify an entire sleeve as a swatch, I am not qualified to declare this Winter Games knitting.  It would be totally amazing were I to finish the modified Cobblestone Pullover in 17 days,  but with my history, that is a rather unrealistic goal. And perhaps not as challenging as it could be.

I live a somewhat TV-deprived life.  I have a TV, in fact a small flat screen, but no cable, satellite or even much broadcast TV.  I get the local affiliates for ABC & PBS, Fox when the wind is blowing just so.  In the interest of not watching any more TV that I already do, I have decided to remain cable-free.  I was TV-free for about 3 years and I somehow survived, but I just choose what I will watch based on only a few choices and that's okay.  I prefer to get my news from NPR; I have the internet and occasionally watch a TV show via the network sites or Hulu.

I have found the Olympic site that shows me what I need.  I actually would like to watch the Olympics, but I don't want to see only US athletes and the 3 winners for the events.  I do not want to watch the 'up close and personal' stories.  And seeing the same dozen or so commercials over and over gets on my last nerve.  About 20 years ago (yikes!), I pieced a quilt while watching the Winter Games.  Loved it!  But that may have been the last time that I watched a LOT of the games.   And I must admit, I pieced most of an entire quilt top.

So, knit on, I say!   Join a team (or not).  Watch the sporting events (or not).  Set goals (or not).  Have fun!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pushing the Envelope

Knitters know about the 'Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater.'  You knit him a sweater - he's gone!  Although the esteemed source notes that this curse is not backed by a controlled study, few myths are.  But throwing cautions to the blustering winds, I decided last birthday season that a sweater was in order.  I will not complete said sweater before the 2010 birthday season later this month, but we have a start.  The start of a sleeve that is.

Although sweaters have been known to morph as they are being creative, think 'Cobblestone.'   But with ribbing, not the seed stitch borders as the intended wearer can be something of a traditionalist.  But when the pattern was first published in Interweave Knits (Fall 2007), the comment was, 'I would wear this.'  High praise, indeed!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

DeStash Season

Last week's SnowMageddon missed us here in Western NC - Blogging about freezing rain just doesn't cut it.  But spending a day or 2 housebound can make for some desperate closet cleaning.  That includes yarn.  I have yarn that I purchased on 'spec' with great intentions.  I'll weave rungs and placemats!   I'll make a felted hat - or 20!  I love this yarn - Why not buy 3 in every colorway?!  Love the yarn; hate the ghastly color.  No problem - I'll dye it!

Some things happen; some just don't.  So I am sending yarn out to more deserving homes at bargain prices.  So far, I have only photographed 1/2 of one box and am getting skeins of yarn posted almost daily in my Etsy Shop.  I have plenty more, believe me.

So stay tuned.  We have lovely wool and mohair - some is even handspun!  We have cottons!  We have spinning fibers!  Are books next?  What about fabric?

And even more importantly, will we get more of the snow that the meteorologists are predicting?