A Week of Riding the Struggle Bus

Man!  This last week really kicked me right where it hurts.  I’ve had so many struggles….both personal and professional the whole week long.  I’ve been mentally uncomfortable and have wanted to retreat into myself but also wanted to get away from my own thoughts. The only remedies I’ve found?  Yarn and cooking.  (*I* KNOW! Shocking, right?!)  

I am still working on the shawl that will never end.  I thought I had just a few hours on it at some point last week.  Not so.  I didn’t take into account that I am increasing many stitches on each RS row, so my end date/time just keeps slipping further into the future as it simultaneously grows nearer.  The dichotomy of a knitters reality.  Seriously?   I am just spent. 

The pattern calls for 4 and half more pattern repeats before finishing off.  I am less than halfway on the fourth repeat and I just can’t take it anymore.  WHY am I so annoyed by this project?  I really don’t have any idea.  But I have never wanted a project to end as desperately as I do this one.  The thing is, I don’t want to knit it, so therefore it is not getting done….but I NEED for it to get done.  So, there.  You can clearly see my dilemma.  I will either absolutely LOVE it when it’s all over or despise it completely.  Care to take bets?

But ALAS! I have BOTH food & yarn pics!  And who doesn’t love those?  (besides like, over half the internet with their millions of memes making fun of food posts and the other half portraying knitters as grannies in rocking chairs waiting for death to come ….)  So my interests are laughable to a lot people. Pretty sure that’s not going to stop me from knitting my heart out and continuing to cook ‘til my kitchen goes up in smoke.  Take THAT internet bullies!

This week I embarked on a vegan burger that used rice and garbanzo beans rather than kidney or black beans which I often come across in vegan recipes.  It made for a lighter burger than I’ve tried making before, which felt better on my stomach.  To cook them up I tried two methods – pan fried and broiled. First I had the pan fried in oil version and felt pretty queasy after eating it actually.  Later when I tried the broiled version I did not feel the unsettled stomach and heaviness come on.  I suspected this was going to happen (since my digestion is very, very touchy), but I do tempt fate in the kitchen from time to time.  😊

I also made my own vegan mayonnaise with oil, vinegar, soy milk, mustard, garlic and salt.  I found a basic recipe online and worked in the mustard and garlic to suit our tastes.   It looked and tasted just like mayonnaise, but somehow better?  I also melted Chao cheez on the burgers.  Chao is a processed vegan & gf cheez that is INCREDIBLE. It melts like real cheese and has great flavor.  It is also 100% junk food, so we don’t eat it very often, but Man!  When we do, we REALLY enjoy the creamy meltiness of it.  

Vegan cheez burger topped with craft beer sauerkraut. Mmmmm.

In other news – my husband and I are gearing up for a big change in our lives.  The details haven’t been ironed out yet, but we are steadily moving in the direction of big changes for us both.  All good vibes here!  I cannot really talk about it yet, but the moment I get the OK, IT’S ON LIKE DONKEY KONG!

Since starting to write this blog post last night until now, I have finished the shawl that never ends.  And this is what it looks like now……. 

Hated it.

Snowbird Cardi~10 Years in the Making

About 10 years ago I purchased a cardigan pattern off of Ravelry called Snowbird written by Heidi Kirrmaier.  Snowbird is just a lovely, long, flowing cardigan that truly has my name written ALL over it.  In all the time that’s passed since I purchased the pattern, I never really could bring myself to pull the trigger on purchasing the large amounts of yarn it would take to complete the project.  I don’t know what my hold up was.  I have since easily spent thousands of dollars on yarn, but I still didn’t have my cardigan done, or even started it for that matter. 

So, recently I decided to pull the trigger.  I purchased enough yarn (I pray) to complete this beeeYOOT of a sweater, and I’m proud to say I finally casted on! Woohooooo!

 

Look how squishy I am!

The only other time I took on such a large project is when I knitted the Vino Cardigan by Laura Chau, (also on Ravelry). That one I gifted away, and I’m pretty sure it remains in the back of that persons closet to this day….and to be honest, maybe that is where it should stay.  I used Vanna’s Choice yarn, and it was already pilling up on me even while knitting, so I’m sure it looks a hot mess by now.   I was still a beginner knitter at the time that I took on the Vino Cardi, but it is a pretty simple pattern and I had no problems knitting the sweater in sections and stitching them together afterward.  The Snowbird pattern, on the other hand, is a totally different bird (yeah, I said that).  It is knit in one piece from the top down, which has provided me with all sorts of headaches and confusion.  I have had such a difficult time mapping out in my mind how the increases and seaming will end up coming together to make any kind of wearable garment…let alone something that I can actually be proud to wear….that won’t end up looking like someone barfed up a bunch of yarn all over my body.  I’ve googled the pattern nearly to death and with all the stunning photos I’m finding from the knitting community, I’m really hopeful that mine won’t turn into the dreaded barf sweater of my nightmares.

The yarn I’ve chosen is called Swish in Dove Heather, purchased on line via Knit Picks.  Swish is a worsted weight yarn that is slightly uneven and unpredictable, which coincidentally, precisely describes me, so I think I made the perfect choice!  I have MAAANNNY man hours into it already, and if I’m correct, I think I’ve only just come over the shoulders to begin constructing the arms. I have no measure of how long it will take me to complete, but I really REALLY want to wear it this winter.  Maybe if I break my number one rule of Housework First/Knitting Second and live in squalor until it’s done, and eat all my dinners out of a can standing over the kitchen sink, it will make it’s day view winter 2020? I think I would be ok with that(?) I mean….I reeeeaaallly want to wear it soon! So, this weekend I am onto the arms ~ there is light at the end of the yarn tunnel!

Smooshy!
Does it look like a barf sweater to you?
We provide no added value to this blog post.  We are purely decorative 🙂 Lola & Darwin

Just Another Manic Monday

Can someone please tell me how I end up in the bathroom extracting slimy hair clogs out of the shower drain when I was just in the middle of whipping up a batch of pico de gallo? Or, how I find myself ankle deep in marsh mud with three dogs chasing mallards all in different directions, when the last thing I remember doing is making the bed and fluffing the pillows? Is this the mind of someone who’s losing it, or is it the mind of someone who has taken multi-tasking to a whole ‘nutha level? I seriously don’t know.

A typical day for me starts around 5:30 am with all three dogs flapping their ears and making not-so-subtle high-pitched whining sounds. They have to go out, and they have to go out NOW! HURRRY MUMMM! All the while they are tripping me every step of the way from bedroom to back door. Honestly, I think there is no way they have to go to the bathroom THAT bad, but they are convinced. So out they shall go!

Ninety-nine out of a hundred of my days start that early. And when I have a day off of work, like I do today, I feel that I MUST do ALL THE THINGS! So today I am cleaning, and writing, and researching, and knitting, and making food, and walking dogs, and apparently…..picking wads of gacky hair balls out of my shower drain. I will spare you the photographic evidence of that activity (will email pics upon request.)

These guys = Pure Mayhem

My knitting project on tap for today? I am planning on casting on another Beneath the Pines shawl. I love, love, love this pattern! I love it so much that I knitted three of them in the period of 14 days – I was seriously binge knitting! I kept two shawls for myself and gifted the other to a friend who is recovering from cancer treatments. Knowing that she is wrapped in warmth and comfort and the love of each stitch I made for her, makes my heart swell. I’m also planning on making two more shawls, one in a speckled black, and one in a robin’s egg blue. ( If you’re interested in purchasing one, message me via my

CONTACT ME page or on Facebook @knitsticksblog. I’m only making two, and it’s first come, first served!)

Creamy and dreamy ~ I love this shawl!

I have been working diligently on a project (that I will post about later this week), while binge-watching a LOT of Netflix. Like, an embarrassing amount of tv consumption is happening in this house. Since signing up for Netflix three months ago I have watched entire complete seasons of The Office, Weeds, Orange is the New Black, Anne With An E, Anne of Green Gables and the available seasons of The Crown and You. AND now I’m onto Little House on the Prairie and Stranger Things. See! Told ya it was an embarrassing amount of mindless tube watching. I only tell you this in hopes for some sort of validation from my fellow crafters…..PLEASE tell me you gobble up tons of crap tv while crafting. PRETTY PLEASE!(?) To my credit though, my house is pretty spotless at any given time, the laundry is always done and we are not starving to death. I manage it all like this: when I get home from work I knock out all my chores as quickly as possible so I can do what I WANT to do. Sitting on my can-can while knitting (and watching Netflix) is my REWARD for getting all my “have to’s” done. In a nutshell, I get all the grownupy junk out of the way so I can do the fun stuff. I hold myself accountable to it and rarely do I let the important-house-running-stuff slide so that I can knit instead. I’ve always felt like I’m somehow cheating the system, but after re-reading what I just wrote, it now just seems more like I am simply being an adult. Man! I am so bummed! Here I actually thought I invented “how to do stuff”, but as it turns out – I am just being a responsible person (and someone already invented being THAT). I sure hope this realization hasn’t just zapped me of the buzz I get from being “Super Me”. Uhg.

Well now that I burst my own bubble, I guess I’m off to try to enjoy the rest of my Monday!  There’s plenty of it left and I’m curious to see where I end up 🙂

*For the record, I didn’t wander off and do ANYTHING else while writing this. Progress!

Maryland, my Maryland! Oh how I miss thee!

Faux Fair Isle: A Patterny Blessing (annnnnd of course food)

One day, about a year ago, I found myself breathing heavy and slobbering all over myself as I loomed like an ogre in the yarn aisle of Hobby Lobby. I have always been a sucker for inexpensive yarns.  Especially for inexpensive yarns that LOOK like they cost me an arm and a leg. Yarns with rich colors and lofty fibers with promise to sail through my fingers and dance delightfully across my needles.  Finding yarns that fit that bill is not always an easy thing to do.  But occasionally, like this one day in Hob Lob, I scored!

I discovered a yarn that knitted up to look like fair isle…without actually having to do the real work of learning how to do it.  I know fair isle is no big mystery, it is just color work.  It’s not impossible.  I’m a seasoned knitter.  I’ve been doing this for many years.  I can knit with more than one color at a time while following a pattern.  So why haven’t I taken up fair isle knitting?  The short answer?  I’m lazy.  There really isn’t a long answer…I just don’t feel like doing it.  I am more in the camp of Appreciaters of Fair Isle rather than Doers of Fair Isle.  And I’m pretty ok with that. 

But I got to thinking about how maybe I might be judged by other knitters for taking this route, and I took that as my queue to harshly judge myself along with ALL my yarning decisions.  I determined that although it mimicked fair isle, it really isn’t anything like it.  At all.  It’s a crap shoot as to whether the patterns will line up to make it all work out.  Where in fair isle, it is precision and perfection….and lovely.  Knitting with self-patterning yarn isn’t a new concept to me, I’ve worked with it easily a hundred times when making socks.  I never felt like I was cheating while doing it either.  I just knitted them up, pounded my chest and declared “I! Make Sock!” But then again,  I wasn’t making this gigantic blanket like cape thing that I would wear around in public for the whole world to see…..I wasn’t going to stick my poncho in my shoes and hide them.  Everyone was going to SEE it.  Including people who actually KNOW how to fair isle knit.  How could I open myself up to such ridicule?

So what did I do with all that self-doubt and fear of ridicule? I’ll tell you what I did with it….I stuffed it all deep down inside, where I keep all the other stuff I never actually confront or deal with and I pushed through. And MAN, am I so glad I did. Seven thousand stitches later, and by early this last fall I finished the project that had started the winter before.  I made this.  This beautiful, one of a kind poncho that has mismatched lines and uneven seeming….but it is mine.  It is MY thing that I made for ME.  And I love it! 

A few weeks ago I went back to Hob Lob to see if I could find more of this yarn and there was none to be found…I later discovered that the yarn had been discontinued (a four letter word to all yarn crafters!) It’s probably just as well….since I would likely hold onto the yarn for years before I got around to making another poncho……along with ALL the other yarn stuffed in my closet, waiting for their projects-to-be.

In other news….I’ve been a maker of food lately.  For months I’ve been cooking from Melissa Costello’s The Karma Chow Ultimate Cookbook.  I’ve made many of her soups and other dishes over the last few months, and I gotta say everything has been Out of This WORLD delicious.  (I receive no royalties from raving about this *all vegan* cookbook or the food that springs out of it – I just LOVE IT!)

Wednesday night I made the Baja-Style Fajitas, which were Slap-Yo-Mama good!  I think I felt a tear form in the corner of my left eye with the first bite!  Tonight I tried the Baked Ziti with Spinach.  I really didn’t want to make anything at all, because I feel like I’m coming down with something (tonsils are hurting and I feel exhausted).   But I also wanted to use up the remainder of the Cashew Ricotta Cheez from the fajitas. You know – Waste Not Want Not.   I don’t know how this woman makes food taste so groovy but she is spot on every time.  I swear she’s like the Ina Garten of the vegan world.  I’m totally fan girling. No joke.

Karma Chow Baja-Style Fajitas for THE WIN!

I have tons of foodie finds, and about eleventy million more projects that I made the last few months that I can’t wait to share. Christmas projects and surprise gifts coming soon. I promise!

Surprise Tunisian crocheted pot holders for a loved one 🙂

Hello out there?

Day one of my new blog. What to say? If you’ve read my “About Me” section, then you already know me in a nutshell. Some would say I’m a bit more complex than my summary would indicate….okay, okaaaay, “complicated” might be the word I have heard from time to time to describe me. And I would have to disagree. I feel that I’m pretty plain, and dullish. Even normalish. (maybe?) But, I will leave that up for you all to decide. (Is anyone there?)

So, this last week I had chosen to try a new vegan dish every night of the week. Each of the dishes I selected seemed pretty easy on the outset….given my tendency to only just read the ingredients list and never ever read through the entire recipe to see what I’m getting myself into. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed to death each night. (understatement)

The dish that stood out the most to me, both for how delicious it was and for how truly unprepared I was to make such a dish from scratch after putting in my 9-5 at work all day, was the Cha Cha Enchiladarole from The Karma Chow Ultimate Cookbook by Melissa Costello – a wonderful plant-based, vegan cookbook that I have had for years, but have yet to try out all the recipes. I started cooking when I got home from work at 5:30, and dinner was served at 9 pm. Well, 9:07. It took me nearly 4 hours to prepare this meal. To be honest, and fair, I am a bit of a whirlwind in the kitchen. A little scattered, a little disorganized, a little distracted. I believe that had I had my act together, it still would have taken me 2 hours to prepare this dish. Too long for a week night dinner in my opinion. In addition to the Enchiladarole, I also made the Chile Ranchero Sauce and Chipotle Cashew Cheeze Sauce – all from scratch. I chopped my little heart out until I could chop no more! To be honest though, it was an ugly dish on my plate and I refused to take a photo of what looked like a disaster food spill to share with the world. So I will share the picture from the book and leave it up to myself to describe this dish in a way that will make you want to rush out and get this book so you can try it yourself. (You should buy it even if you don’t think my description sounds great. It’s a fantastic cookbook! And no, I am not affiliated in any way whatsoever and make no money off of this recommendation. I’m just a big fan).

The magic of this dish comes in part from the diced sweet potatoes, of which I diced into perfectly consistent ¼ inch cubes. They were tender enough to just melt in your mouth and the sweetness works so well with the savory and warm spices used in this dish. Unfortunately, I had to make a substitution for the tempeh. Neither local store had tempeh in stock, so I decided to use baby bella mushrooms and that turned out to be the right decision, Yum! The Chile Ranchero Sauce combined with the Chipotle Cashew Cheeze Sauce provided a delightful creamy layer with heat from the Anaheim chili, garlic and other spices. It was like heaven in the mouth. Without it, the dish would be good, but who would just want that??! I PROMISE you; I will be making this dish many times over the coming years of my life. It was AMAAY-ZING!

In addition to what has been brewing in my kitchen, I pulled out some old WIP’s and have been knitting in the evenings before I collapse into bed from full belly exhaustion. Pictured is a simple, but elegant evening shawl using a very inexpensive yarn that I bought a billion years ago, Red Heart’s Boutique Unforgettable in Tidal. To get the ladder effect, I’m using bamboo size 19 and size 8’s. Every third row I switch to the size 19. I didn’t follow a pattern, I just cast on and went for it. I’m really pleased with the color progression; it has been fun to watch it unfold. I cannot explain why I ever put this away and didn’t finish it…it’s such a joy to knit. Simple and nearly thoughtless – a watch-tv-without-looking-at-your-knitting kind of project, MY FAVORITE!

I’m looking forward to planning some new dishes and finishing a few other WIP’s in the coming weeks. I see hot soups, dreamy yarns and extended beagle snuggles in my very near future…