Saturday, March 28, 2009

I think the designer knits English

I will admit to the fact that I haven't done much knitting of late. I blame this on the number of children running around and on the fact that my Etsy shop just hit it's 300th sale since I opened it on Dec 4th. Yesterday, though, I spent the whole day knitting play food for a 5 yr old little girl's birthday party, which was today. I enjoyed just sitting and knitting something that was not lace, or business related, that I decided to cast on something else today. Since I have been out at the barn feeding horses every day for the last 2 weeks, I have realized that my gloves just aren't going to cut it. My fingers are quite long and thin which means they have almost zero cerculation. If I ball them up in the hand of the glove they keep from going numb, which makes me think I need MITTENS, not gloves.

It just so happens I have a lovely fair isle mitten kit by Sarah Annexstad with Misti Alpaca and Noro Silk Garden that my lovely swap partner from the Knitting Parent's Yahoo Group gave me in December.

So, while children were marrinating in the tub tonight, I cast on the first mitten. Knit the first row in main color in K1, P1 rib. Check. I can do that. Rows 2-16 are K1 in main color, P1 in Contrast color. This produces lovely vertical lines up the cuff. Ok, now, I haven't knit fair isle since I knit Alex's Spiderman gloves over a year ago. I am a continental knitter normally, so I put the main color in my left hand and put the Noro in my right just like I learned to do while doing stranded knitting. I knit a few stitches and realize that I have forgotten to put the Noro to the back while I knit with the Alpaca. This means that I now have lines of pretty blue in front of my creamy alpaca knit strips. That's not right. So, I tink back. I now very carefully move the Noro to the back after purling and find this incredibly slow, tedious and anoying. This is going to be a LONG cuff if I have to do this the whole way.

The babies are ready to get out of the tub by now, so I dry them off and put the second load of children in and then rethink the knitting. Oh, I think to myself. Back when I was new to this I used to carry both yarns in the left hand and just picked whichever one I wanted. Since I am only knitting 1 stitch with each yarn before I need the other, the tension won't get uneven, that'll be perfect. So, I switch so both yarns are in my left hand and breeze through a couple of rows of knitting happily swinging both yarns between the needles together for the K1, P1 rib.

I look down at my knitting and see that it is now a beautiful double knit cuff... Hmmm. That is not pretty verticle lines. That is flat alpaca on the outside and flat Noro on the inside. Yes, I remember thinking when looking at the pattern that if I knit 1 with 1 yarn and then purled with a different yarn I would get double knit. I have made quite a few things with double knit before, but I thought surely the designer knew what she was doing. There's got to be a trick here. I examine the knitting closely, then it hits me. In my beautiful double knitting, the running thread between stitches has the alpaca in the front, not the Noro. If I kept the alpaca in the back all the time and just pulled the Noro to the front for the purl stitches the running thread in between will be blue, not cream. Well, why didn't the designer say not to bring them both forward?! That's kind of important. True this pattern was made for a class where she would have shown the students how to do it, but I still think it needs mentioning.

Then it hits me. I bet the designer knits English. It makes perfect sense. She held the main color (the alpaca) in her RIGHT hand, which is her main knitting hand. It would have been more natural for her. With it in the right hand, it could stay in the back all the time without interfearing with the purl stitches. With the Noro in the LEFT hand it can swing easily between the needles back and forth with each stitch without all the cumbersome twisting of the entire right hand and the needles. It maks sense why she wouldn't say anything. It would have been awkward to move both yarns back and forth. It explains everything.

The designer knits English. I'll just pretend I do too. ~.^

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The State of Oatmeal

Breakfast is usually a fairly calm affair. This morning, though, I'm afraid that it quite distinctly showed the personalities and developmental stages of my 5 children.

The Twins:
The twins are 1. They do not understand that food takes time. They feel that if they scream loudly and insistently Mommy will appear with the food in hand. After all, for most of their lives, Mommy has always had food available in the form of milk. Waiting for breakfast instead of nursing as soon as they get up is a new experience. I can tell you, that 2 babies screaming at the gate are LOUD. Once the food is available, though, they are quite cute as they stand next to me and open their mouths like little birdies. It is required to push brother out of the way in the hopes that you may get 2 spoonfuls in a row as well as placing one's fingers in your mouth in order to feel the texture. If the magic bowl of food runs out before they are full, they do not understand and will scream more until it is replenished. I am grateful each day that I have enough food available to feed these hungry little birds unlike so many mothers in the world and that I do not have to hold them while they cry because they simply don't understand.

Brendan is 3. Oatmeal is an exercise in "No! I do it!". From stirring the butter in, to pulling the correct spoon out of the drawer. Breakfast can be a battle. Heaven forbid if anyone should leave any food unattended because rather than wait for someone to make him more, he will steal it. Which brings us to...

Shaya is 5. She is a girl and is TERRIBLY over sensitive. She will break into tears at the smallest thing (like Brendan stealing her oatmeal). I am unsure if this is sensitivity or manipulation. This can be as frustrating as throwing a "I do it" fit because once she has managed to calm down she has completely forgotten about the fact that she was hungry and blubbered for you to make her more oatmeal and abandons breakfast all together.

Alex is 7. He was already gone, having quietly made himself oatmeal when he got up so that he wouldn't miss the bus. He takes great pride in being able to do it himself, but still appriciates when Mommy does special things for him (like making pancakes). Thank heaven that for the most part, Alex is beyond the "I do it" stage.

In the end, Alex was well fed. The twins ate a great breakfast (the dog got some too as they dropped it on the floor). Brendan got 1 1/2 bowls of oatmeal but didn't touch the second bowl I made him once Shaya broke down in tears, and Shaya only ate the 2 bites that were left of her oatmeal after Brendan had his way and completely ignored the new bowl of oatmeal I made her.

From the looks of things my kids are right on track developmentally. Aren't you so glad?

I need a nap.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Potato Soup

I make several versions of this soup since it's so easy and tasty, but this is my favorite and the one that I seem to come back to.

Potato Soup
3-4 Large baking potatoes
1 stick butter
about 8 tbs flour
1/2 onion chopped
8 cups milk
1 package frozen peas
1/2 to 1 cup diced ham, or 1 small can Hormel canned ham (usually found near the tuna fish)
2 cups shredded cheese
About 3-4 tbs salt
About 1-2 tbs black pepper

Wash, cut up, and boil potatoes for about 30 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.

Melt butter in the same pot. Add onion and saute until onion is clear.

Whisk flour into the butter 1 tbs at a time until it forms a paste. Gradually whisk milk into butter, flour and onion mixture. (whisking ensures there are no lumps).

Add potatoes, peas, and ham to the pot and let cook until it boils. Stir occasionally to prevent the potatoes from sticking to the bottom.

Stir in Cheese until melted. (If you add this too soon, your cheese will clump). Season with salt and pepper to taste. If your soup tastes kind of bland add more salt.

Makes aprox 6-8 adult servings

Friday, March 13, 2009

Super simple Chicken Nuggets

I've decided that I want to share with you all in blog land some of my favorite recipes. These are all either things that were standard fare when I was growing up, or ones that I make a lot for my family.

Today's selection is Super Simple Chicken Nuggets.

I don't know if this really counts as a recipe since it is so simple, but it is quick and we make it about once a week. In fact, I made it today for lunch per the kid's request.

2 Chicken Breasts
1 egg
1/2 cup flour
1 tbs Grill seasoning (I like McCormick's Broiled Steak Seasoning)
4 Cups Cooking Oil

Poor oil into a large, deep skillet or pot. It should be deep enough to completely cover your nuggets for frying. Heat on high while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Mix flour and grill seasoning in 1 bowl. Beat egg in a second bowl and set aside. Cut chicken into bite sized pieces. Dredge in egg until completely covered, then in flour mixture. Shake off excess flour and gently drop in hot oil. Fry until chickens are light golden brown. (I do my chickens in 2 batches so that I don't over crowd the pan).

Drain and enjoy!

Makes about 5 servings depending on the size of your chicken breasts.

The deep frying probably isn't the healthiest, but it makes the chickens crispy and tasty. The whole process takes about 15-20 minutes, which is about the same amount of time to oven cook frozen chicken nuggets, but these are preservative free and much cheaper. :D

Friday, March 6, 2009

Dear world, our Mama is mean

Dear world, our mama is mean. We the twins (Hyrum and Quintin) have hijacked her blog to tell you just how mean she is.

She is trying to wean us. We have no idea why, but it is unacceptable. We LOVE that nursing thing. It's warm and nice there in mommy's lap. The food is warm, soothing, and good. There's that whole sucking thing which makes us happy. We don't know why. The binky isn't as good as mama. You all understand, we know. To top it all off, Mama has to pay attention to us and look into our eyes, and smile at us, and we feel loved and safe. Ya, that nursing thing is great.

But mama is taking that away. We are just now realizing what is happening. We only got to nurse 3 times yesterday, and there didn't seem to be enough milk. She keeps offering us a cup with cold milk in it, but we don't want that! We want our mama back. Now, we understand that mama has been nursing TWO of us for a little over a year now. She tells us that is pretty amazing. We don't get it. She tells daddy that she didn't nurse any of the other kids quite this long. That's sad. She should have nursed everyone longer. Did we mention how nice nursing is? We were so upset that we had to throw tantrums this morning. Quintin in particular did a great job. I think Mommy really got the picture. He was incolsolable for a good 15 minutes. He didn't want to be held, he didn't want the binky. He REALLY didn't want to be put down. True we had already nursed, but obviously it wasn't enough. Mama held out, though, and offered that stupid cup again. We took it. She held us close and looked into our eyes, and even though it was a cup of cold milk, it was still nice on mama's lap.

We plan to retaliate this afternoon, though, by not taking a nap AGAIN. We've discussed it, and we're pretty sure that will work. We hope you all understand and will tell mommy to stop this weaning thing.

The Twins

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Phat Fiber Samples

Look for my Infinity Ring stitch marker samples in March's Phat Fiber Sampler box! I am sending in 45 samples, and if you don't happen to get a sample, I am also sending in 75 coupons for FREE SHIPPING, so be sure to look through your business card envelope.

The theme for March is "Celtic" so I am contributing samples of my glass and copper stitch markers tied to the card with green recycled wool yarn. These are some of my favorite stitch markers and it was really exciting to send them out.

This will be my second month contributing samples to the Phat Fiber Sampler box. It is a box full of small, bite sized samples of yarn, fiber, stitch markers, and pretty much anything fiber related. I am so honored to be a part of it, and have high hopes for it's ability to spread the word! Already I have fallen in love with several people's shops through the box, and have seen some interest in mine from it. Natchwoolie and I seem to have a joint adoration thing going on. She wrote the most amazing review of my shop on the phatfiber blog, and I have been saving my pennies so I can get some of her lovely fiber!

Check out all the shops contributing on the Phatfiber website.