31 January 2014

Chore list

Before January rushes off in a whirl of excessively cold air, I thought I'd add a handy graphic of my chore list to keep me on the straight and narrow :) I do try to stare at the floors rather than clean them every once in a while. This chart inspired me to wash down the inside of the fridge earlier this week (when the cupboard was quite bare). It's amazing how dirty that fridge was (and we're a fairly tidy group)!

daily + weekly chores (click to download full-size chart)

With the home front marginally under control, I've been able to focus on sketches and swatches for design submissions (I've tweeted about that a fair bit this week), the finishing of a sample, and work on another sample. Waiting in the wings are a list of projects for a collection and the idea for an instruction book for young knitters.

Away from the needles I've been reading the annotated Persuasion and Pride & Prejudice, which have been interesting, even if they aren't necessarily as scholarly as they could be. And with the needles I had a Jane Austen movie festival over the past few days to help me prepare my submissions for the next issue of Jane Austen Knits (submissions are due on Monday, in case you've been struck by inspiration, too).

I've also been tweeting about the dearth of obituaries of women in The New York Times Obituaries headlines with #nodeadwomen. The paper of record now includes up to three obituary headlines in their daily email, and at some point it became apparent to me that most of the dead people were men. To test this crazy theory of mine I decided to keep track for a while. So far 18 men, two women in one week.

With the return of the Polar Vortex (or whatever you call it), my skills have been front and center (sweaters, hats, scarves, mittens, gloves, shawls, etc.), particularly on Instagram where I've been capturing some of my "Today's sweater" details.

Mermaid's Cardigan sleeve

Sotherton waist shaping

Turn of the Glass seed stitch front edges

Wavelette hem
 Hope you're keeping warm in your neck of the woods. Thanks for stopping by, and happy knitting!
xoxo, Kathleen

29 January 2014

Greetings from the NYC Polar Vortex!

This is the time of year a knitter earns her keep: hats, cowls, scarves and shawls, mittens and gloves, sweaters. I am warm and woolly for the most part, though I think I may need to knit myself a pair of woolly leggings, since my legs are the only part of me that aren't warm enough. (I should knit socks, too, but I "cheat" with store-bought wool-blend socks and my fantabulous shearling-lined LLBean boots. They are the *best*!)

I had to bust through a couple of new pairs of mittens for the girls, since one was lost and the other was down to her running gloves, so I took a break from the sample I'm working on to cover the cold hands of the "cobbler's children".  Sample is almost complete and then I can think about designs for the next Jane Austen Knits, which is always fun! And Upon the Spanish Main is almost ready to be released, so get your luxurious sock yarn ready :)
Bundled up in blue

Even the produce at the market needs a blankie (and even after they added cold frame doors)

Upon the Spanish Main shawl (coming very soon) and An Aran for Anne

Isobel in her element (and my elf cap)

Penelope making the best of it with a Ripley hat and my Castaway shawl for added cover

Snowfall on the way home

Penelope's new mittens

Isobel's new mittens 

Heading out for Isobel to sled

In the meantime, stay as warm as you can. Thanks for stopping by, and happy knitting!

16 January 2014

FO: Scottie dog

Scottie dog in Cascade 220

Merry Christmas, Dad!

I knit up this adorable Scottish Terrier for my dad for Christmas this year. The pattern is from Knit Your Own Dog by Joanna Osborne and Sally Muir, and it turned out quite nicely. It's kind of fiddly, since the pattern is all in pieces and uses a loopy stitch for the fringe, but it worked. And, most importantly, Dad liked it (then Penelope borrows it for a nap, so it's got the double approval). 

14 January 2014

New Year, Same Me :)

As far as I'm concerned, today is the first day of 2014. The kids are back in school, the tree is put away, and I can start getting my head back in the game.

The above was written last Monday, then I got distracted, and now it is next Tuesday. Sigh.

Anyway, this year is off to ... a start. I didn't get the job I'd interviewed for (twice). My ex-husband is AWOL (umpteenth time). My little sister was diagnosed with breast cancer (string of disbelieving swear words here). And the weather has been bonkers (54 degrees to 5 in 24 hours!). And don't even get me started on the hauling-the-family-to-another-time-zone two times in three weeks stuff. I always look forward to the holidays, but the status quo we have going on them is brutal.

On the plus side, I'm working on a design for a new special issue from Interweave (oh, you'll have to wait a bit for that one, but I think it's worth it), another for KnittySpin in collaboration with the awesome Wooly Wonka (more waiting - sorry!), the test is pretty much complete for a new shawl design (a quick tech edit, and then it's all yours, people), and I've got more ideas and yarn just waiting to become new designs for you. There is even a backlog of samples and spreadsheets and scribbles in some sort of scrum/queue to become even more new designs. And that crazy cold weather allowed me to wear some of my favorite sweaters, like An Aran for Anne with a turtleneck (usually I can't layer a sweater like that here in NYC - just too warm - lucky for me that the Louet merino is soft enough for me). The shawl is the one that's almost ready for you...

And to wear as many blue handknits at one time as possible (Ysolda's Ripley cashmere hat, my Infinite silk/mohair cowl, and the shawl-to-come in a merino-cashmere blend) over the aforementioned sweater.

A friend at school pickup said I looked like a blue version of the White Witch from The Chronicles of Narnia - I am more than OK with anyone thinking of me and Tilda Swinton in the same thought! Thanks, Kathy ;)

Time and focus seem to be the missing ingredients for me right now (since I can't cure cancer), so I'm working on organizing my life to be more efficient, starting with the fact that I do my thing from home, which means my home (and the housekeeping that comes with it) is always there, staring, sometimes balefully, at my not doing housekeeperly things. Now, I know that this is largely in my head, but I can't escape that place any more than my home, so all I can do is manage it better. To that end I've assigned different tasks to different days:

  • Monday - floors (vacuuming, dusting, washing, staring - I like having choices)
  • Tuesday - kitchen (cleaning out the pantry, washing the fridge shelves, using the aromatic stainless steel polish, de-crumbing the toaster - the stuff that doesn't get done on a daily basis, but not all at once!)
  • Wednesday - laundry (I tried doing a load every day but just couldn't and would rather wait until the hamper is full)
  • Thursday - bathrooms (like the kitchen, stuff beyond the usual wipe-down/towel hang-up)
  • Friday - floors (with two cats and three long-haired ladies in the house, a second vacuum in the week sometimes seems necessary, and it's nice to go into the weekend with the rugs looking fresh)
  • Saturday - FREE! (or something the whole family needs to get in on, like cleaning out a room or washing windows)
  • Sunday - laundry (this way everyone has clean clothes for the start of the week)
Now, I've just implemented this system, so I can't really say how it works yet for sure, but I'm feeling good about it. I tried FlyLady and the lovely cult of Apartment Therapy and some other systems, but they never really stuck.

Anyway, I'm hoping this will free up some mental time for me. Instead of getting bogged down in guilt about the coffee dust that accumulates on the fridge shelf where the container lives (seeing it, being annoyed that it's there but not wanting to clean it up now, then worrying about when exactly I will get around to cleaning it up), now I know that I will deal with it on a Tuesday.

I'm not big into Resolutions, but after Winter Break is a good time to adjust habits. What's your New Year thing?

Alrighty, off to knit some sleeves. And deal with the coffee dust. Thanks for stopping by, and happy knitting!
xoxo, Kathleen

23 December 2013

Etsy Treasury: Victoriana

I've been plugging away at some non-bloggable knitting (shareable in a couple of days), and in my downtime I've started curating Treasury lists on Etsy. Such fun! I have a tendency to get an idea in my head and then fall down the Etsy rabbit hole until I've seen all there is. My time suck is your gain :)

Two to share with you today:

  • Victorian Engraved Jewelry I have a few pieces like these that I inherited from my paternal great aunt and grandmother (baby bangle and an Elgin watch) and find this kind of handwork so lovely
  • Mourning Jewelry Having just re-read Possession by A.S. Byatt, I've got a thing for hair and jet mourning jewelry. Again, the handmade aspect is so appealing, and the slightly macabre (check out the last ring - OMG!) and personal aspects of such items are so interesting in today's mass-produced world
Happy holidays to you all (whether your holiday of choice has already occurred or is coming soon)!

Thanks for stopping by, and happy knitting!
xoxo, Kathleen
P.S. More knitting in the New Year - promise!

09 December 2013

Maker Monday: "Mommy Pizza"

At some point about a year ago, I got it into my head to conquer pizza. I'd tried making dough a dozen years ago and ended up with a long-standing fear of yeast. I'd made a big mess in my kitchen and then discovered that you could buy ready-made dough from the store. 

For whatever reason I finally decided to face my fears and researched a lot. The interwebs told me I could make a dough without a lot of kneading (and Cook's Illustrated helped) and could roll it out without everything getting coated in dough bits - not quite as much fun as tossing it in the air, but just as tasty (and feasible for me). Cook's also started me in my sauce path, though the addition of basil into the sauce via the crushed tomatoes was my own genius (I wanted the flavor but knew the kids would object to big green leaves on the pizza plus finding nice basil all year round just isn't in the cards. The internet also gave me the idea to incorporate the broiler. 

The pesto pizza came late to the game but is now a necessary component for me and Nick. Just be careful! I set a blind-baked crust on fire one night when the oven rack was one rung higher than usual. Oh, was that dramatic! I ended up covering it with a baking sheet and letting it smother. The good thing is that the oven is the safest place for a small fire :)

Anyway, the best thing is how forgiving the dough is. No specialized equipment needed! No Kitchenaid, Cuisinart, or laborious kneading. I think you could even get away without pizza tiles and peel, just using a couple of baking sheets (one in the oven to heat up and a second to get the pies into and out of the oven). Mix up that dough and leave it alone. It only requires a tiny bit of planning to have your own scrumptious pizza!

Pizza dough
3 cups bread flour plus more for counter
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 packet dry yeast
1 3/4 cups hot water plus up to another tablespoon depending upon humidity
2 tablespoons olive oil plus more for bowl 
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Cornmeal for sprinkling

Whisk flours and yeast together in large bowl. Whisk water, salt, oil, and honey together in two-cup liquid measure (or small bowl). Pour liquid into flour mixture and mix together with rubber spatula. If mixture is dry, add 1-3 teaspoons of water. Dough should come together into a shaggy ball at this point. Drizzle oil into bowl and roll ball to coat it and sides of bowl. Cover bowl and set aside to rise for at least an hour. If you won't be proceeding for more than four hours, refrigerate for up to eight hours. 
Preheat oven with pizza stone or tiles set on middle rack to 500 degrees 1 hour beforehand. 
Uncover, punch down dough, and reform into a ball. Sprinkle clean counter with flour and divide ball into four. Sprinkle balls with flour and cover with plastic wrap for approximately 30 minutes. 
Sprinkle a handful of cornmeal onto a sheet of parchment paper and place one piece of dough in center. Cover with plastic wrap and press dough to flatten. Repeat with remaining three pieces of dough. Roll out dough allowing it to rest for a few minutes at a time until you have an oval approximately 10 x 14". 

All the ingredients

Just-mixed dough

Risen dough

Divided and resting dough

Tomato sauce
28 ounce can crushed tomatoes (with basil for preference)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves minced garlic

Heat olive oil in saucepan. Add garlic and tomato paste and heat for 1 minute. Add crushed tomatoes and simmer for 30 minutes. Set aside until ready to use. 

Simmered tomato sauce

Pizza assembly
Olive oil
Mozzarella (sliced from a 1 pound fresh cheese for preference, though you could use shredded)
Pesto (optional)

Remove plastic wrap carefully from dough. Spread 1 teaspoon olive oil over prepared dough "round". Spread 3-4 tablespoons tomato sauce over dough (a thin layer is best or crust will be soggy). Place 1/4 of the cheese evenly over sauce. 
Slide pizza onto preheated stone and bake for 6 minutes. Switch to broiler for 2 minutes. Remove from oven, switching back to 500 degrees and allowing oven to return to temperature. Slice pizza and serve. 
Repeat with remaining dough. 
I usually blind bake one pizza round with just olive oil and then spread pesto over it after it comes out of the oven. 
Remaining sauce and cheese may be frozen for future use. Dough balls may also be frozen, but I always make four pizzas. 

Prepared pizza ready for the oven

Baked pizza

Pesto pizza (there is a danger of burning the blank crust, so be careful!)

In our house it's called "Mommy Pizza" to distinguish it from delivery. The crust is thin and crisp and the sauce quite tasty. 

Let me know if you give it a go, and thanks for stopping by!
xoxo, Kathleen 

04 December 2013

Sweaters of the last week (Instagram posts)

The weather is a bit warm now that we are back home, so the sweater posting has slowed down (if you follow me in Instagram, you've already seen these). I'm ok with wearing a button down today but do look forward to more sweater wearing soon. 

Friday in Wavelette 

Saturday in Herring Lassie (an as-yet-unpublished design based on gansey stitch patterns and EZ's nalgar construction)

Sunday in Wavelette again (can't bring 'em all in the suitcase)

Monday in a striped mariniere with this great boiled wool coat I found many moons ago at Marshall's. It's knee length and closes with hooks and eyes and has these embroidered flowers on the cuffs and along the front edges. Isobel wasn't with me at the time or I would have been able to give you a full length shot

I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving and stayed away from the mall and big box stores. I spent some time browsing etsy and making plans for some last minute knits and worked on that simple stole. It's very good comfort knitting. 

Thanks for stopping by, and happy knitting!
xoxo, Kathleen