Thursday, August 25, 2011

Since last we spoke

I have been making some progress in my quest to use up the City Tweed box.

Quilty mitten backs

These are both sort of quilty, because I have been pretty fixated on patchwork recently. Adapting my patchwork doodles on quad paper to knitting was an interesting challenge. The first problem is trying to make them recognizable (at least with some squinting and concentration, or once someone's pointed out the source) despite not being able to have clean diagonal lines or half- and quarter-square triangle units in which all the pieces are the same size. This shortcoming ("design feature") is clearest in the pinwheel mitten on the right, I think. You can see that the light triangles and dark triangles aren't the same size, and that the dark triangles aren't really triangles at all, they're sort of half-butterfly shapes. It still works, though.

The Ohio Star mitten on the left looks like an optical illusion to me. Each star has concentric squares in the middle, surrounded by eight light-coloured triangles; the rest is just filler so it's not necessary to strand the unused colour behind more than three stitches. I think it ends up looking like an optical illusion (focus on the stars and the checkerboard is less obvious… focus on the checkerboard and you can't see the stars).

I liked the concentric squares that make the centre of each star so much that I put a smaller, checkerboard version of them on the palm. (This also appears on the cuff of the pinwheel mitten: I am nothing if not willing to recycle my own work.)

Quilty mitten palms

Then I was thinking about how concentric squares change character when turned on point, and how good a mitten that would make, and before I knew it there was a pair of them.

Soft Shetland mittens

These ones are not City Tweed—they're made out of Jamieson Soft Shetland (RIP). One pair took just a hair under two skeins, so I'm pretty pleased. The finished fabric is thick and spongy and assertively woolly.

My left thumb is pretty upset with me for knitting this many mittens in a short timeframe, so no knitting for me today—instead I have designs on this stuff.

Apricots and friends

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Terse Tuesday

It's coming up on cold weather accessory season, and today I got a box in the mail full of yarn to play with:

A variety of City Tweeds

Knit Picks is very generous and I am pleased to know them! These yarns are mostly blues, greens, and greys, plus a few others for contrast (the blackberry-coloured yarn is my favourite, but so is the toffee-coloured one and the bright pink—so basically, everything). I foresee all kinds of mittens in my future.

Unrelatedly, Karen Tusinski's Gallery Fiori collection is out today, and I want a bolt of everything.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Can and must

I am hopelessly distracted by the immense amount of beautiful fruit that is suddenly available in the grocery store near my house. No knitting to show you, just jam.

Apricot jam

I have been wanting to try more interesting jams this year, but also wanted to start small and ease into the swing of it, so jam #1 is the very plainest apricot jam. I chopped five apricots and measured the volume of the fruit, added ¾ of that volume in sugar, juiced a lemon into it, brought it to a simmer, and then left it in the fridge overnight. The next day I strained out the apricots and brought the syrup to 220F before adding them back, jarring, and processing. The result is awesome big cohesive chunks of fruit that are very soft, and an intense apricot flavour. I think the jam tastes more like apricots than my apricots did.

#2 is plum and cardamom jam, made from an assortment of plums (I couldn't decide which variety to buy so got some of each). The plums got chopped and macerated too:

Macerated plums

But this time I stirred in about ½ tsp of cardamom before putting it to bed in the fridge, just enough so that I could smell it underneath the plums. The syrup deepened from scarlet to ruby red as it thickened, and when I stirred in the plums it turned downright burgundy, and stayed that way.

Plum cardamom jam

I may need more jars despite my resolution to can only in small batches. I still have peaches in the kitchen (five of them, to which I will add ginger!) and have been eyeing up blackberries (maybe ginger also?) and strawberries (basil!).

This is my high-tech canning setup:

Ad hoc canning rack

That's seven rings from the tops of jars tied together with silk thread, in the bottom of my biggest (only) stock pot. It was a little startling how well it worked: the bottom of a jar just fits in the top of each ring, and it looks slightly precarious to me but none of them have fallen over in the boiling water yet. If a bigger kitchen falls into my lap and I suddenly have room for a canner + rack, it's easy enough to cut the rings apart and stick them back in their box. Excellent.