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Friday Roundup: Mmmm, Colorwork

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What I’m Knitting:

Remember that Stitch Sprouts Yellowstone I mentioned a few weeks ago? I’m most of the way through the first of a set of mitts in a fun colorwork pattern:

Yellowstone Mitts WIP frontI wanted the back to have totally different colorwork for variety’s sake, but I also wanted to keep it simple. I like the way this is coming out:

Yellowstone Mitts WIP back

I’m not a huge fan of magic loop in general, but I favor it over DPNs for colorwork. Getting the tension right when switching between three needles is that much more annoying than switching between two. The only thing that makes me sad is that I can’t use my beloved ChiaoGoos for magic loop–the cable is too stiff.

And then for good measure, I also started an adult version of the Transposed Hat I showed off in last week’s post. I picked out the most crazy variegated skein of Malabrigo Rios I could find at the yarn shop, and I’m loving the way it’s working up! I hope to have the hat finished by next Friday, so stay tuned.

What I’m Cooking:

Not a ton of stuff to show off  (I feel like pasta with pre-made sauce and veggies thrown in is cheating, and we’ve had that several times this week), but here are a few things.

Breakfast, featuring tofu scramble with veggies (told you that one was going in my regular rotation), breakfast potatoes, and meatless sausage patties:

breakfastI was cooking vegan for a crowd on Wednesday, so I made a taco bar with all the fixings (including meatless ground beef and vegetarian refried beans), as well as some guacamole. My husband has an outstanding guac recipe with some secret ingredients that make it delicious. Apologies for the bad phone snap, but here’s the result:

tacos

What I’m Reading:

I’ve had the Alex Rider series recommended to me several times, so I picked up the first one. It’s like James Bond for teenagers! Hard to believe that this came out sixteen years ago. Yeesh.

Stormbreaker

New Pattern Releases: Transposed Hat and Mittens

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Here’s the next installment of patterns in my Babe in the Woods collection, the Transposed Hat and Mittens:

transposed set

The inspiration for this design came from the highly variegated skein of Malabrigo Rios in Fresco y Seco. I wasn’t expecting it to be quite so variegated, so I knew I had to come up with something that really showed off the color changes. I’ve always liked the look of “faux Isle” knits, where it appears that there are many different colors used when there are really just two. I sketched out this chevron design and got to work.

I’m especially happy with the way the crown decreases worked out in the hat:transposed crownLike the Aureate set I showed off last week, I wrote the matching mittens pattern for baby, toddler, and child sizes–thumbless in baby size, thumbs for the rest. I knit up a child-sized sample to show the thumb:

transposed thumb

The hat, baby mittens, and single child mitten were all made with a skein each of Malabrigo Rios in Natural and Fresco y Seco. There’s a ton of yarn left, too–definitely enough for another baby hat or a second set of mittens. So it ends up being pretty economical!

You can find the pattern (and the rest of the Babe in the Woods collection) here on Ravelry.

My next design project is going to be an adult version of the hat in a different colorway, since I’ve gotten such good feedback on the baby version. I think lots of people (myself included!) are looking for ways to make beautiful variegated colorways really shine.

Ronan was very cooperative through the whole photoshoot, but he did seem to think the mittens were rather tasty:

transposed

Friday Roundup: Big Sister, Little Sister

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What I’m Knitting:

I finished the Entrechat for my niece! Here it is with the teeny one for her little sister, due in May:

Big and Little Entrechat

Entrechat back

The specs:

Pattern: Entrechat by Lisa Chemery (Ravelry link).

Yarn: Ella Rae Cozy Soft Chunky Solids in Purple Eggplant. I bought 5 skeins of this yarn and only used 3 for both shrugs. If I had one little teeny criticism of the pattern, it’s that the yarn requirements are extremely generous. But the yarn is nice and soft, seems very sturdy, and blocked nicely despite its 75% acrylic content.

(PSA: Always, always block your handknit garments! Here’s the before blocking shot in all its ugly glory, if you need proof.)

Pre blocking EntrechatNotes: Like I said before, I now totally get why everyone and their mother has made this. It was an enjoyable and interesting knit, even when I knit the largest size directly after the smallest size. Usually I hate working the same pattern more than once (even if it’s my own!), but this wasn’t bad at all.

I found perfect little wooden sunflower buttons at Joann Fabrics, which made me happy. Their button selection can be very hit-or-miss for me, but they’re the only place in town with any kind of selection.

What I’m Cooking:

I have to get better at remembering to take pictures of my meals before I dig in, because there were a few I missed this week (like the tasty chickpea curry we had for dinner on Wednesday). But here’s what I did get.

I made this tofu scramble with peppers, mushrooms, and spinach after the success of the plain one I made last week for my vegan Egg McMuffin analogue. It was really tasty! Tofu scrambles are definitely going in the regular breakfast rotation, now that I know how to spice them properly.

Tofu scrambleI also whipped up a recipe I’ve been wanting to try for a while: seitan sloppy joes! (Seitan is a meat substitute made from wheat gluten–the tastiest sub out there, if you ask me.) They were goo000d.

seitan sloppy joes

What I’m Reading:

I finished the beta read for my friend and started in on the second book in Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series. It’s fast-paced and funny, as usual for his books.

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New Pattern Releases: Aureate Collection!

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Remember all those secret projects I’ve been talking about?

I released a collection last week!

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Ravelry link to purchase is here.

This is my first collection ever that isn’t just a bundle of a few related accessories, and it’s really exciting to have so many new patterns out there at once. The e-book includes five accessories, sized from Baby to Child, and the vest shown above (sized from 0-6 months to 4-6 years).

I thought I’d introduce the collection in parts, so today I’m showing you the first three accessories. Here’s the Aureate set, modeled by my very obliging son:

Aureate SetThese were all knit with two skeins of Malabrigo Mecha, a wonderfully soft and squishy yarn (and you longtime readers know how much I like the squishy). Although the yarn is labeled as a bulky weight, I did find out that skeins of this yarn can vary in thickness. This particular batch knit up at more like a heavy Aran weight on size 9 needles.

Ronan has been wearing his Aureate Hat out and about constantly since the photoshoot, and it gets compliments everywhere he goes. Part of that is because he’s ridiculously adorable, but I like to think the hat should get a little bit of the credit.

Aureate MittensHe’s also wearing the Aureate Scarf in that shot. Long scarves aren’t practical for babies or small children (and can be a choking hazard), but I wanted to design something to keep the chill off his neck. I toyed with the idea of a cowl, but eventually decided on a short scarf that’s fastened in the front with snaps, ascot style. This way it’s easy to put on but will come off easily too if there’s an issue.

Here’s a detail of the scarf and its fastenings:

Aureate ScarfAnd finally, the Aureate Mittens complete the set. They’re thumbless in the baby size and knit up in no time flat. The toddler and child sizes take a little bit longer, but are still very quick projects.

The cables on these mittens are shorter than on the hat and scarf, but definitely still along the same theme. Here are the baby mittens:

Aureate Baby MittensAnd here’s one I knit up in the child size to show the thumb:

Aureate Child MittensI love chunky knits on chunky babies, don’t you?

Friday Roundup: Vegan Bacon(!)

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What I’m Knitting:

I finished the larger Entrechat shrug for my niece and it’s awaiting buttons and blocking like the little one. I got two super-cute flower buttons that I think will look really nice. Hopefully I’ll have pictures of both together by next week (I’d better, because the baby shower is on the 28th and I should have the package sent by then).

Which means, for the first time in a very long time, I have no deadline knitting. Zero. Nada. I can knit whatever I want, which feels impossibly decadent. I’m thinking of doing some playing around with this gorgeous Stitch Sprouts Yellowstone (sport weight, 80% wool, 20% silk) that’s been marinating in my stash:

Stitch Sprouts YellowstoneMaybe some colorwork mittens? Or a slouchy hat?

What I’m Cooking:

Okay, first, I have to tell you that I love the taste of bacon. I don’t love what it does to my waistline or my digestive system, however. So when I found a recipe for shiitake mushroom “bacon”, I thought I’d give it a try! You slice the mushrooms thinly, toss them with spices and liquid smoke, and bake in the oven, tossing a few times.

IMG_5516I was really surprised to find that it actually does taste somewhat like bacon! It’s mostly the liquid smoke, I think, but the chewiness of the mushrooms is almost the right texture, too. I ate it on a baked potato with chili, veggie sour cream, and veggie cheese and it was delicious. Definitely making this again!

I also whipped up some creamy corn-potato chowder, one of my favorite cashew-based soup recipes:

IMG_5546One morning when I woke up, I was craving a junky breakfast sandwich… so I whipped up a vegan version! This is tofu scramble (way more delicious than it sounds) on an english muffin with a meatless sausage patty and a slice of veggie cheese. Not health food by any stretch of the imagination, but it was soooo good.

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What I’m Reading:

I’m working on a beta read of an amazingly weird middle-grade manuscript (unpublished as of yet) for a friend of mine, so no published books for me this week.

Friday Roundup: An Actual FO!

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What I’m Knitting:

Look, look! I finished the last project for my secret collection and actually knit something I can show you. This is an teeny, adorable shrug for my future niece, who’s due in May:

Entrechat IMG_4746Pattern: This is the ever-popular Entrechat pattern (Ravelry link) by Lisa Chemery. I can see why it’s so famous! The shrug was fun and interesting to knit, and the pattern is very well-written. I knit the smallest size and it worked up in just a few days,

Yarn: The only yarn store near me that was open when I had the chance to buy yarn was one with a fairly limited selection, so I ended up with the only washable yarn there that would knit to gauge. Fortunately, I like it! It’s Ella Rae Cozy Soft Chunky, a 75/25% acrylic/wool blend. I got perfect stitch gauge on size #8 needles, but I was totally off on row gauge. So it’s a little longer, but still very cute!

Notes: I started another one of these with the same yarn in the largest size for the new arrival’s big sister! I always like to do something for the older sibling when I knit a baby gift to avoid any jealous feelings. I think she’ll love having a matching outfit to her baby sister.

Maybe I should have started with the larger one, though, because it already feels like it’s taking forever. :-P

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What I’m Cooking:

It’s been cold here this week, so I’ve been making lots of soup. Didn’t get a picture of the beef-less beef stew or the broccoli cheddar, but I did get a shot of this vegan-tastic quinoa, lentil, and kale soup. It’s so much more delicious than it sounds!

IMG_4717I’m slightly obsessed with creating the perfect dairy-free mac and cheese, so I tried a new recipe this week. Instead of using blended cashews for the creaminess, this one uses unroasted sunflower seeds, miso, carrots, and nutritional yeast. It was really tasty, although I’ll soak the sunflower seeds for longer next time because it was hard to get all of the graininess out.

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What I’m Reading:

I finished two middle-grade books I LOVED this week. I devoured both of them!

The first is At Your Service by Jen Malone, which was an adorable tween book about a junior concierge who lives in a fancy NYC hotel. I think this age range gets shortchanged sometimes–there are so many younger chapter books and so many older YA books, but not much in between. This one was perfect!

18104774I also finished Ordinary Magic, which I couldn’t put down. It’s like a reverse Harry Potter–in a world of magical people, the main character discovers that she doesn’t have any magic and is sent to a special school for ords (ordinary people).

12969596So overall, a good week on all fronts!

Friday Roundup: Soup and Marshmallows

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What I’m Knitting:

So remember I told you I’d have the bulky vest done this week? I got the whole thing finished a few days ago. It looked a little big around the shoulders and a little small around the armholes, but I talked myself into letting it go. I wove in all my ends… and then those problems nagged at me so much I couldn’t bring myself to block it. After an agonizing couple of evenings spent picking out all the ends, ripping out, and reknitting, it’s almost done. Again.

So instead of a picture of anything I’m working on, please enjoy this stock photo of knitting.

Pink_knitting_in_front_of_pink_sweatshirt

What I’m Cooking:

I was pretty terrible about taking pictures of my food this week. I need to cultivate the habit, because my first instinct when I sit down with a delicious plate of food in front of me is to eat it immediately. But I managed a few soup pics!

This one is a dilly dumpling stew from my favorite cookbook, Isa Does It. It’s the first time I’ve made a soup with dumplings. It was so cool to just plop the dough on top of the stew and have it steam cook through without any interference from me. The soup itself was good, but next time I’ll use less dill.

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Here’s what it looked like in the pot–cool, eh?

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I also managed to get a pic of this delicious broccoli “cheddar” soup. The cheesy taste comes from a combo of cashew cream and nutritional yeast. It was amazing, and as a bonus, I got to whip out my sadly underused immersion blender.

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What I’m Reading:

I got this book a few days ago and devoured it:

Mr. Kiss and Tell book

This is the second book in the series that continues where the Veronica Mars TV show (and recent movie) left off. It was great, just as good as the first one! I love the way the authors capture the characters’ personalities perfectly. I’m just sad that I’ll have to wait a while for another installment. Marshmallows (fans of V. Mars) unite!

Friday Roundup #3

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What I’m Knitting

I finished the secret bulky vest, yay! Now I just need to block it and sew on buttons, and then it’s time to schedule a photo shoot with my little model. We may have to sponge him off first.

Ronan Messy FaceI also took a few hours today to do my biannual needles, leftover yarn, WIPs, and notions roundup. This is the haul from the three different locations in my house where I usually knit (note kitty helper):

Knitting roundupWhat I’m Cooking:

Pad Thai with tofu: I’ve made this dish several times now and it gets more delicious every time. One of my favorites.

Pad Thai

Chickpea curry: This one was just okay. Not a huge fan, so I probably won’t make it again. I’m still on the hunt for a good vegan curry recipe.

Chickpea curry

Vegan mini omelets: This is the second time I’ve made these, and they were just as good this time. This recipe uses garbanzo flour and tofu with some carefully chosen spices to stand in for the eggs. I added a bunch of veggies (which I’m going to incorporate better next time). I want to try one of these in a breakfast sandwich, mmmm….Mini omelets

Lentil-A-Roni: This recipe uses lentils, pasta, and creamy sauce to mimic junky Chef Boyardee canned food, and it does a pretty good job! I added spinach because I’m apparently incapable of cooking anything without adding some extra greens.
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What I’m Reading:

I finished The Winter of the Robots last night and am currently between books. But I just placed an order with Barnes and Noble and should have a couple more winging their way to me in the next few days (free express member shipping, baby!).

Friday Roundup #2

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What I’m Knitting:

Stuff I can’t show here. But I’m on the home stretch with the bulky baby vest, and working madly on swatching for some new designs. Stay tuned–hopefully I’ll have stuff I can show off here in a little while.

In the meantime, let me distract you with…

What I’m Cooking:

I went a little nuts with the cooking and baking this week. Not pictured: a very tasty quinoa, lentil, and kale stew; butternut squash pasta; creamy tomato pasta.

First up, vegan enchilada casserole. I thought this was just okay, and not really worth the hour plus it took to make it. My husband seemed to really like it, though. The “cream” on top is made from soaked cashews:

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These carrot cake pancakes are AWESOME. The cookbook says they’re perfect when you really want carrot cake, but it’s morning and you can’t justify it. They really are. Not too difficult, either–the most annoying part is grating the carrot.
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Banana nut muffins, which I make fairly often because we somehow always seem to have overripe bananas:

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And my favorite for the week: vegan eggplant “parmesan”! This recipe just has you sprinkle breadcrumbs between layers of eggplant, sauce, and dairy-free cheese. SO GOOD. I don’t think I’ll ever do the labor-intensive coating each slice thing again.

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What I’m Reading:

I finished Isla and the Happily Ever After, so it’s back to middle grade! I picked this fun-looking book up at the library:

robotslargeBattle robots in an abandoned junkyard? Sign me up.

 

The Great Blog Reboot of 2015

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Hello out there! Blog posts have been rare around here since my son was born back in July, but I miss blogging regularly and interacting with other bloggers and crafters. So I made a resolution (about a week late, but hey…) to get back to regular blogging in 2015.

Here’s how I’m going to do it: every Friday, I’ll post a weekly update like the one below. To solve my ever-present problem of working on secret knitting projects that I’m not allowed to blog about, I’m branching out a bit. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it here on the blog before, but my household is about 90% vegan (no meat or dairy products). Another one of my resolutions is to cook healthy meals instead of eating mostly frozen and pre-made entrees, so I’ll be sharing new recipes I’m trying. It should be fun!

I’m also going to be sharing books I’m reading, since I’m still working on getting books published and it’s important to keep reading in the genre that I’m writing. I’m hoping a weekly check-in will motivate me to plow through some titles on my to-read list.

Without further ado, here’s my first new post! :-)

What I’m Knitting

I’m working on secret projects. Quelle surprise. But there are a lot of them this time. I’m doing a baby/child collection for a yarn company which is going to include two hats, two sets of mittens, a scarf, and a vest. The yarn is hand-dyed and scrumptious. I can’t wait to show these off. I have all the samples knit except the vest, which is in progress. Bulky yarn + hand-dyed goodness = fun to knit.

Here’s a teeny little preview of one of the hats (really just an excuse to show off my adorable son):

Aureate sneak peek

What I’m Cooking

Here’s something that probably won’t surprise you: cooking interesting, healthy vegan meals day after day is hard. But I got this amazing new cookbook as a Christmas present:

Isa Does ItThis is the absolute best cookbook I’ve ever had, vegan or not. I’ve made something like 15 recipes from it since Christmas, and everything has been good. When does that ever happen?

I used to use internet recipes much more than cookbooks, but there’s something oddly satisfying about flipping to a recipe in a big, thick cookbook and consulting it as you go. Maybe that’s just me.

I didn’t think to take pictures of anything I made last week, so my foray into the world of food photography will have to wait until next week.

What I’m Reading

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins.

isla-and-the-happily-ever-after-196x300This is kind of cheating, because I’m writing middle grade fiction (for ages 8-12), so I really shouldn’t be reading young adult. But I gave myself permission to cheat. I loved this author’s first two books (Anna and the French Kiss & Lola and the Boy Next Door), so I have high hopes for this one.

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