Sunday, June 17, 2012

Greek Oregano Feta Salad

Hi knitters,

It's true, the last past on this blog was dated Feb 28, 2011.  Which is pitiful.  Think about those 18 months of lost crafty details, wash!  But here I am back from the silence.

In knitting / crafting, I took some great classes recently - cotton spinning and grass twined basketry at the Conference of Northern California Handweavers and Carin Engen's Nuno Felted Scarves class at Yarn Dogs.  I'll link some photos here so I can record the awesomeness of the felted scarf class, but this post is about food.

Bill and I are enjoying a "Summer of Fruit", harvesting  harvesting apricots, blackberries, cherries and blueberries from a friend's yard over the past two weeks.  One of the "extras" we've been able to gather from our friend is an amazingly soft, fresh, abundant oregano.   We use it to make our favorite Greek Oregano Feta Salad, per the recipe from chef Jonathan from the old Two Small Farms newsletter.

So this post is prompted by my need to record the salad recipe for my own future reference, and also to share with Jasmine.  Here goes:

Greek Oregano Feta Salad, from Chef Jonathan 
from the Two Small Farms newsletter, 6/10/09
Here's a very simple Greek salad idea - and do take the time to ice your red onions.  You'll be shocked how delicious they turn out.  Thinly slice half a red onion and put it in a bowl of ice water.  Set aside while you make the rest of the salad.  A simple vinaigrette goes like this: juice of 1 lemon, a few splashes of white wine vinegar, a tablespoon of minced shallot, a bit of chopped oregano, salt and pepper.  Mix those ingredients, then whisk in some Greek olive oil until you achieve the balance you prefer. Check again for salt and pepper.  Toss your torn or chopped romaine with a little bit of dressing then top the salad with your drained red onion, some kalamata olives, more oregano (whole leaves at this point), some feta (in whole slices or crumbled), and if you can find cucumbers or tomatoes now, add them too. Yummy!

We're eating this salad tonight for the third time in ten days, thanks to the Summer of Fruit. I am still in love with the way the lemon, oregano, and feta turn an ordinary romaine salad into a fantastic summer treat.

More blogging to come, assuming i can get back on this horse.  Happy knitting, everyone.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Emma socks :: done!

Emma socks :: done!
Originally uploaded by spinnity
W00t! I finally finished my knee socks from last year's Sock Madness over the weekend. April 2010 to Feb 2011 - but now they're done. I adore the cable detail right where the little flag-thingies would be on kilt hose and I like the swoopy feet.

The wrinkling at the back of the heel is a reminder of why you should not make your heel flaps too long. Learn your lesson well from my example. But wrinkly ankles be damned - I have red knee socks!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A gift from Stitches West 2011

2011 Stitches West: Tools
Originally uploaded by spinnity
Hi Knitters,

Went to Stitches last week - saw so, so many friends, took two good classes, bought bunches of books, and received a very thoughtful gift. Have a look at the photos on Flickr to see the detailed captions & notes on what I got and learned.

[list of photos coming in a sec]

Best surprise of all was the new ball winder that Bill secretively bought with the help of many advisers on the show floor Sunday. Anyone who already owns the standard blue-and-white plastic ball winder knows its limitations. Mine has been in use 20 years now, and tends to skip a few gears, making rather sketchy looking yarn cakes. The new ball winder is much sturdier, rests better on the dresser where I have it mounted, and makes a lovely cake.

I've employed it already to cake up one of my three hanks of handspun, so I can start swatching for a garter stitch sweater based on the Elkhart pattern and color-coordinated Kauni I got from the Ruhama booth. Thanks to everyone who helped make this purchase, especially to seltsame, for very sound advice on the choice. I guess it takes a village to buy a ball winder!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Emma knee socks, 11 months later

Yes, knee socks. It's a lot of knitting, but not 11 months' worth. The decision making slowed me down. Here's the story:

These knees socks knocked me out of the Sock Madness 4 contest last year in ... May? I think? Sock Madness is a speed knitting contest, with a rule that the socks must follow the pattern exactly. I love the audacity of knitting these super-tall socks at speed, but my heart was not committed to all the design elements. The back-of-leg decreases in the pattern looked messy when I executed them and other knitters' photos of the feet raised questions about the swooping ribs and the fit of the toe. I was relieved to knocked out of the contest by a speedier knitter just as I arrived at the ankles, to be cut loose from strictly following the pattern.

After a suitable rest, I picked them up last summer, ripped out 8 inches of decrease to the cable motif and changed the decrease style to keep a nice straight rib down the center back. I also shifted to size 0 / 2 mm needles for a snugger rib. I made it down to the ankles, where I stopped to decide how to deal with the feet. And there they languished for 8 months. Poor Emmas.

But spring and a new Sock Madness are in the air this week and I'm inspired again. Not to mention i need something cool to wear to Stitches West next week -- why not bright red knee socks?. Dug the Emma socks out of hibernation and took them to knitting guild, where my panel of experts agreed that the feet on other photos did not look easy to execute neatly.

Proposed solution: Use the feet from Cookie A's Millicent socks. I like the way the ribs move across the foot better and the fit of the Millicent toe looks better to me as well.

Now that I have a plan, I'm making good progress - 3 inches of ankle and heel flap in two days (working both socks at once). I have hope of finishing in time for my spinning class at Stitches. Six hours of treadling in bright red knee socks sounds like immense fun to me!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Hat, scarf, and a swirl of Christmas

Handspun Aspen Leaf hat
Originally uploaded by spinnity
Hi knitters!

Wanted to share a few recent knitted objects, since I have been so terribly absent from my usual knitting groups over the past six months. Since Thanksgiving, I've invented a hat out of my own handspun yarn, from a very sparkly batt by Susan's Kitchen called "Bananarama Two"

Knitting this hat feels pretty significant to me, since it was done entirely by my design, using yarn I spun myself. Whoa! I tend to balk at spinning with my precious, coveted, scarce handspun -- what if I get it wrong?? -- and I don't often knit out of my own head. Anyway, I did it! I had to try several different styles for the crown of the hat before settling on this turning-ridge and centered decreases approach. And I love the hat, with its sparkly yellow and green yarn. It's like a banana for my head. A banana slug for my head? With leaves! :-)

Oh, and big thanks to Margit Sage for both the original batt and the idea to put "something, maybe a leaf" at the top of the hat for a more unique look. It's so sweet that Margit was present at both ends of this project!

In another bold and unexpected move, I have finished a scarf from yarn bought at Stitches 2010 - and that has to be some kind of record!

Also this weekend, I added the stuffing and seamed up a new swirl ball which I will present at the December 2010 knitting guild meeting, this coming Thursday at 7 pm at Yarn Dogs Annex - it's all about the short rows!

And last on the weekend update... I also managed to scoot over to Bobbin's Nest Studio to nab a copy of Cookie's new Knit. Sock. Love. book, signed by herself. I'm so glad Janice posted about the book & the event - it's sort of thrilling to think of Our Old S-n-B Gang now as book authors and editors.

I've missed you all and I'm trying to extract myself from work so I can come to more of the Meetups and maybe even a Bobaknit or two. I *think* I will be at Meetup on the third Wednesday in Campbell. Hope to see at least a few of my long-lost knitting pals there or at the December 9th Knitting Guild session.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tour de Fleece 2010 - my first sock weight yarn!

Hi knitters,

Been quiet on this channel - but I had to share my first sock weight yarn, plied this afternoon on Margot's sunny deck with vultures circling overhead.

These are the three bobbins of merino superwash which I spun from roving dyed by Janice Kang for my birthday. It was some of Janice's very first dye work, and now it has been plied into my very first sock-weight yarn. I *think* it's both soft enough and firm enough to count as sock yarn, and I'm tempted to knit socks out of it. Janice - I hope you like the yarn I made out of your fabulous, generous gift of your very first creative work in color!

I spun these bobbins over the last 10 days as part of the Tour de Fleece, which is a spinning challenge that asks spinners to spin something every day that the Tour de France is riding. I've missed two days so far, but spinning 8 out of the last 10 days is way above my normal production - hence the three full bobbins!

My plan for this yarn was to divide the roving lengthwise into three sections, and then strip down two of the sections into about 20 width-wise strips each and spin the third one in just four strips. This should give a 5-to-1 beat of the thinner strips (which make shorter spun lengths of color) against the fatter strips, and in theory might turn out sort of interesting. Right?

In the photo at the top, the outer bobbins are the thin strip bobbins and the middle one shows the long color runs that came from my widest strips.

Here's plied yarn (iPhone photo... focus was not great this close up in the sunset light. More photos coming from my hostess!) You can see that there are quite long stretches of one color - orange being the most visible in this view - and the other plies dance around making different color relationships to the long run color.

Next up on the Tour de Fleece, I invited Margot to come over tomorrow and see my fleece sorting & washing in progress. So I guess there had better be some fleece sorting by the time she gets here! And the next lot of fiber I want to tackle is a gift from the Fiber Fiend of a wild & crazy batt she bought from an indie dyer / carder in yellow with sparkly things in. Tune in next week for more news of the Tour de Fleece chez spinnity.

Edited to add: Margot took some photos of me plyiing, including much better photos of the yarn in progress - have a look at my Flickr Tour de Fleece set.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Madness that is March

Hi knitters!

It's March (what? It's still March, until Thursday) and there's so much going on.!

Somehow after a lull in January and February, the stirrings of spring seem to kick everything into sudden high gear. This month I've managing to fold at least four kinds of madness into my schedule - Sock Madness, the NCAA tournament's March Madness, preparations for Easter and "scouting" for our 2010 Birdathon. Along the way, I have been knitting some *amazing* socks that I just have to share.

Sock Madness was the first form of madness to spring up. This is the third year I've competed in the Sock Madness. I never do very well, but I enjoy the challenge. The idea is that 4 "brackets" of sock knitters receive a brand new pattern at the same time and try to speed-knit the socks according to the pattern faster than the other members of their bracket. There are multiple rounds of sock patterns released, and smaller numbers of sock knitters are allowed through on each round - sort of like the basketball tournament, though you are not competing one-on-one. It's more more like the Olympic qualifying runs, where winning in your group lets you through to the next round.

In the past, I've sometimes managed to make it to the third round of Sock Mandess and I've knit some of my very favorite socks doing it.

This year, for Sock Madness 4, we "played in" by knitting the first pattern to prove we were serious - and I got to knit these beautiful side-to-side socks knit in Crazy Zauberball, color 1702 "Little Fox", using borrowed US size 0 needles from Dee Dee (thank you, dahlinks!)Pattern is "Simple Side-to-Side Socks" by MtMom and it took me 13 days to knit both socks. Slow, slow, slow!

Round two is a delightful pattern called Cool Beans by the Yarn Yenta, Heatherly Walker. I am using one of my very, very favorite yarns - Hazel Knits Artisan Sock - using springy green Euphorbia for the background and rich, flavorful Chocolatier for the beans. I'm calling mine "Spring Beans"

We started Round 2 on Friday, March 26 at 2 am. Well, I didn't. I started at 9:30 am and have been knitting away. Over the weekend, the sock-in-progress got a tour of all my other kinds of madness.
First, there was late-night basketball (thank you, Tivo!) on Friday.

On Saturday, we loaded the birding gear into the car and went off to explore the wilds of south Santa Clara County to look for sandpipers, pilieated woodpeckers and rufous-crowned sparrows. I even took the sock to choir practice on Sunday morning - no photos there, though.

The best photos came from hauling the sock from one county park to another on Saturday. I love the one at the top of this post where we managed to pose the sock with a denizen of the local hills - the Banana Slug! Go back & look at how slimy he is. Eeewww! But my favorite is this command-performance "Sunset & sock knitting at Uvas Canyon Reservoir" photo by Bill Walker

For this shot, I asked for a lot. I wanted a photo that showed me, knitting my sock, at the lakeshore, leaning on the trusty Subaru, with my birding regalia visible AND the lake, the hillside and the moon in the sky. Hah! Bill came through, as always. I even like the way I look in this photo. It's the perfect momento of the Sock Madness blending into the Birdathon Madness.

I'm still working away on the Spring Bean socks - number one is fnished and I have to knit like the wind to stay in the competition, while birding, Easter, and basketball all swirl around me. Let the Madness continue!