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Friday Roundup: Days of Wine and Chocolate

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What I’m Knitting:

I finished the colorwork mitt, but it’s currently blocking and is still damp–not that interesting for pictures. Hopefully I can get a rough pattern written up and get it up for testing in my Ravelry group this week!

What I’m Cooking:

I managed to get a decent amount of cooking in this week! I’m trying to avoid wheat for the next few weeks, so that gave me a little more of a challenge.

My good old standby, quinoa-lentil-kale stew (good for the colder weather we’ve been having lately!):

Quinoa kale stewI’ve never cooked with wine before (we don’t drink much, so we never have any in the house), but I figured it was time to give it a shot and picked up some cooking wine at the grocery store for this mushroom stroganoff recipe. Holy cow–it made a huge difference in the dish’s flavor. I’m a convert!

stroganoffI also got in some tofu curry and spaghetti squash with veggie marinara:

IMG_7984 IMG_7991And saving the best for last, these vegan peanut butter cups. They were dead easy: melt semi-sweet chocolate chips and put a spoonful on the bottom of a muffin cup, chill for 10 min, mix natural peanut butter with a little powdered sugar and vanilla and plop some on, cover with more chocolate and freeze. They maybe aren’t as pretty as Reese’s Cups, but they were delicious.

IMG_7975 IMG_7979My mouth is watering at that last picture. I might have to make some more this week…

What I’m Reading:

I picked up The Raven Boys after hearing raves about the series from loads of people. It’s really good so far, but I’m having trouble getting past the fact that one of the main characters, a self-destructive, unpleasant teenager, has the same name (Ronan) as my cheerful baby!

cover_ravenboys_300

Friday Roundup: Yarn Dominance

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What I’m Knitting:

I’m working on some swatches for new designs in a truly outstanding yarn that I wish I could show you… but I also made some progress on the Yellowstone mitts re-knit this week.

Yellowstone take 2 WIPRemember that yarn dominance issue that caused the rip and re-knit a few weeks ago? Well, I’m really glad I did it. Here’s a shot of the version with the wrong yarn dominance (e.g., the motif color not being held in the correct hand on each side) next to the new one. The current one needs some blocking after its frogging, but I can really see a difference in how well the motif stands out!

Yarn dominance

What I’m Cooking:

I was on a pasta kick this week… so that meant vegan cream sauce and Pad Thai. At least the Pad Thai was made with rice noodles, right?

IMG_7927 IMG_7935My big Wednesday meal was a baked potato bar this week. Pretty basic, but I jazzed it up with homemade vegan queso, broccoli, and chili:

queso cookingNow THAT’S a baked potato. (With McCormick Bac’N Bits! They just happen to be vegan–who knew, right?)

image1What I’m Reading:

I finished Devine Intervention (which was a very fun read!) and am between books at the moment. I love that delicious moment when the whole world of books is open to you. I have a To Read list as long as my arm, but most of them are new enough that the library doesn’t have them, so I think a bookstore trip is in order.

Friday Roundup: Busy Mom Edition

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The baby started crawling this week! He’s been scooting backward for a month, but a few days ago moving forward just clicked… and now he’s shooting across rooms at top speed, exploring everything he couldn’t reach before. On the one hand, this is great, since he was getting very frustrated at not being able to move. On the other hand… well, let’s just say I didn’t get a lot done this week.

But it’s hard to be mad at this little face.

Ronan impish

What I’m Knitting

I ripped out the failed half-mitt from last week and started again. Stupidly, I ripped out the whole thing, including the cuff ribbing that was totally fine… so with the limited time I had to knit this week, I only managed to get the cuff re-knit and a few rows of the colorwork done. Sigh.

Yellowstone Mitt I/P

If you look closely, you can see the tops of both the cat and the baby’s heads.

What I’m Cooking

Home-cooked meals also took a hit this week, but I managed a few. I forgot to take pics of the Wednesday potato-chickpea-veggie curry (yum!), but I did get one of our tasty weekend breakfast. Although we eat mostly vegan at home, we make an exception for eggs every once in a while, and I love a good veggie scramble on an english muffin. This includes chives from our garden–fun for us because we’re horrible gardeners and they are the only plant that keeps coming back year after year:

Eggs on a muffin

You know how sometimes you end up with things in your fridge or pantry that have to be used up right away or they’ll go bad? That happened to us yesterday… so our dinner consisted mostly of guacamole and brussels sprouts. Some days I wonder if I’m really qualified to be an adult.

Sprouts and guac

What I’m Reading

I finished my friend’s manuscript and started DEVINE INTERVENTION. It’s great so far–light and funny, despite the subject matter of dead kids and angelic oversight. The author, Martha Brockenbrough, is teaching a class at the writer’s workshop I’m attending in July, so I thought it would be nice to read a few of her books.

Devine-Intervention

Friday Roundup: Failed Colorwork and Winning Sauce

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What I’m Knitting:

I put in some time on a new colorwork design this week. The yarn, Stitch Sprouts Yellowstone, is probably the best yarn I’ve ever used for colorwork–even and smooth, but still a teensy bit grabby, with great stitch definition.

I knit colorwork with one color in each hand, so I decided to take yarn dominance into account and switch the color in each hand halfway through, since this is a yin-yang sort of design. I thought I was being rather clever! But I somehow got it into my head that the yarn in the right hand was the dominant one, not the left…

yin-yang fail WIPSee how the motifs on each side are kind of sunken rather than popped out? Sigh. Glad I noticed and thought to check before I had the whole dang thing done, but ripping this out is going to be a wrench.

I did get this lovely skein of Malabrigo Chunky in the mail this week, as a prize for winning second place in a best colorwork competition for Malabrigo March:

Mal ChunkyIt’s a little darker than I’d usually go for, but I love it! I think it’ll become a hat, with some texture to break up the inevitable pooling.

What I’m Cooking

Remember how I said last week that I pretty much always follow a recipe when I’m cooking? Well, this week I went completely out on a limb and made my very own vegan tomato cream sauce from scratch. And it came out delicious! I am unreasonably proud of this sauce, which we devoured over gnocchi.

vegan tomato cream sauceI also made a batch of broccoli “cheddar” vegan soup for our Wednesday big dinner and managed to get a quick snapshot:

broccoli cheddarI had two non-vegans ask me for the recipe, so I guess it turned out pretty well. :-)

What I’m Reading

I wish I could talk about my friend’s manuscript, because it’s awesome so far. But hopefully I’ll have it done this week, and then I’ll be be back to sharing my reads!

Friday Roundup: Winner, Take 2

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Since I didn’t hear back from the winner I picked last week for the Golden Morning book, I went back to the random number generator to choose a new winner:

Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 2.15.38 PMComment #4 was Sarah, who said “My knitting changes a bit seasonally. I cannot bear to have a pile of alpaca on my lap during the summer. Lace is always a favorite, and laceweight yarn is a staple in my stash. I think I keep my knitting focus on smaller things that will not cover all of me as I knit them, but if they are large, they need to be light.”

Congratulations, Sarah! I’m sending you an email to get your address details and the pattern book will be on its way to you shortly.

Now to your regularly scheduled Friday Roundup post:

What I’m Knitting

A secret accessory design I can’t show you. I know, I know, I said I was done with these for a while, but a call for submissions that I couldn’t refuse came to my attention a few months ago and I got a design proposal accepted. This accessory is small and fun, though, so I should hopefully be back to something blog-able next week.

What I’m Cooking

I forgot to take pictures of the amazing (if I do say so myself) enchilada casserole I made for my usual crowd dinner on Wednesday, but I managed to snap a few pics of other meals.

Basil was on sale at my local grocery, so I snagged a bunch of it to try a vegan pesto dish from my favorite cookbook, Isa Does It. The pesto was tasty, but the real star of this dish is the breaded tofu on top. I’ve never tried to make breaded tofu before–it was much easier than I thought, and soo00 tasty. My 9-month old son loved it too!

pesto tofuI’ve never been the type of person who can whip up sauces without a recipe (kind of funny, since one of the first things I did when I started knitting was to go “off-recipe” and start making up my own things!). But I tried a almond-milk based cream sauce last week that was completely tasteless, so I started adding things to it (like miso and nutritional yeast, my favorite vegan flavor enhancers). The resulting sauce was so good that I tried it again this week, with different proportions of ingredients and a whole bunch of veggies.

White pasta sauceIt was amazing. I can’t believe how cheesy a sauce can taste with no cheese whatsoever. I think it’s the umami flavor (pleasant savory taste) that the miso brings to the table. I have a new favorite sauce recipe that I can tweak to my heart’s content! My son also loved this one, even though it was loaded with garlic and onions. He’s definitely my son. :-)

What I’m Reading

Not too much to say on this front either–I’m still working on my writer friend’s manuscript. Baby’s sudden sleep regression = major dent in my reading/knitting time, unfortunately.

 

 

 

Deb, are you out there?

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I haven’t heard back from the winner of the Golden Morning book yet! Deb (who left the comment “I have moved to lightweight yarn for warmer weather and airy shawl patterns” on 4/13), you didn’t log in or leave an email address, so I have no way to get in touch with you if you don’t contact me.

In the interest of fairness, if I haven’t heard back from Deb by Friday, I’ll use the random number generator to pick a new winner. But hopefully Deb sees this before then!

Friday Roundup: Contest Winner!

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First things first: the winner of the Golden Morning pattern book! Thanks to everyone who entered–it was fun to hear about your summer knitting plans. Lots of you said you were switching over to lace shawls or smaller projects, and a few were working on tanks or tees.

The random number generator says:

random number generatorComment number 38 is the winner! That was Deb on 4/13, who said “I have moved to lightweight yarn for warmer weather and airy shawl patterns.” Deb, send me a message through the contact form on this website with your address and I’ll get the book mailed out to you.

Now, on to the regularly scheduled Friday roundup.

What I’m Knitting:

The scrap blanket got a few more rows this week:

scrap blanket WIP 2I’m loving the way the random stripes look! I’m starting to get a little worried about having enough yarn to make a whole blanket, though, so I may have to revisit the way I’m doing the stripe sequence.

What I’m Cooking:

Not too much action this week on the cooking front, but I did manage to whip up a seriously tasty vegan mushroom cream sauce to go with gnocchi and brussels sprouts. I used to hate brussels sprouts, but then I figured out if you cook them properly they aren’t bitter and actually taste really good. I seared these ones in a pan first, then added 1/4 cup water and covered the pan until the water was gone. Perfect!

mushroom sauce & brussels sprouts

We had overripe bananas a few days later, so in the grand tradition of bakers everywhere, I made banana nut muffins:

Banana nut muffins

What I’m Reading:

No details this week, as I’m beta reading another manuscript for a writer friend! I do have several books I ordered on the way, including one written by a writing friend/critique partner that just came out. I’ll definitely post about that when they arrive.

Elva Cardigan and Pattern Book Contest!

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My newest sweater pattern is included in Knit Picks’ Golden Morning collection! This is the Elva Cardigan:

51885220_9 copyHere’s the description from the pattern:

This flowy, lightweight cardigan is designed to be worn open or with a skinny belt. The garter fan pattern, charted and described line by line, adds a gorgeous detail to the sweater back, while easy raglan shaping and flattering lines make Elva easy to pull on and hard to take off.

Constructed from the bottom up, the sweater is worked seamlessly with raglan sleeve shaping. The elbow-length sleeves are worked with a slight flare at the cuff and then joined to the body at the yoke.

Elva frontI’ve been in love with the laceweight-at-a-loose-gauge concept for sweaters since I knit myself a Featherweight Cardigan years and years ago. It was my go-to sweater when I lived in LA: just the right amount of warmth for overactive air conditioning or a cool-ish night, but small and lightweight enough to fit in my purse. So I thought it was about time I designed one myself!

Bonus: laceweight yarn sweaters are very economical. This one only takes 2-4 hanks of Knit Picks Shadow (a really lovely yarn with subtle heathering that gives the finished sweater shine and depth).

I added a little flair with the fun-to-knit lace pattern on the back:

Elva back closeKnit Picks generously sent me two copies of the Golden Morning pattern book, so you know what that means–it’s contest time!

Golden Morning coverTo be entered to win, leave a comment on this post and tell me what you’re planning for spring and summer knitting. Do you switch over from wool pullovers to lace shawls, or carry on with bulky accessories all year round?

I’ll use a random number generator to choose the winner this Friday morning, so comment by the end of day on Thursday to be entered! I’ll ship anywhere in the world, so this contest is open to everyone. Good luck! :-)

Friday Roundup: Scraps

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What I’m Knitting:

After 10+ years of knitting, I have a huge drawer full of partial skeins of yarn that are at least 1/3 skein each. Most of them are worsted-ish weight, and there’s a distinct weighting toward the green-blue-purple color families. I had the idea to start a scrap lap blanket last month. First I organized my yarn into a rough color progression:

Scrap skeinsAnd then I pulled out some size 7 needles and cast on! I love it so far:

Scrap blanket in progressI figure it’s going to take me a while to get through this one, but it’s nice to have an easy project for road trips and nights when I don’t have any deadline knitting.

What I’m Cooking:

I’ve been wanting to make this cold noodle salad with peanut sauce for a while, and it finally got warm enough so that a cold salad sounded appetizing. It was really good–a little spicy, which is just how we like it.

noodle saladI was in the mood for a little spice later in the week too, so I tried out a new curry recipe. This one has potatoes, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and chickpeas. It was really yummy and made a ton–leftovers FTW!

Isa curry

 

What I’m Reading:

After finishing THE INQUISITOR’S MARK (so good!), I started another book that I didn’t like much after the first few chapters. So I’m giving that one up and starting a beta read of a writer friend’s YA manuscript instead. Much better!

I have a cardigan pattern in the brand-new Knit Picks pattern collection, and you know what that means–a pattern book giveaway! Look for the post later in the week for your chance to win.

New Pattern Release: Avelina!

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I released a new pattern this week! This is Avelina:

Avelina full

 

This was one of the secret projects I was working on last winter. I’m so, so happy with the way it came out. I was going for a casual yet easily dress-up-able vibe, with simple details. This is one of the closest picture-in-my-head to actual-FO conversions I’ve ever done. :-)

The specs:

Pattern: Avelina, available to purchase on Ravelry for $6.00 here (you don’t need an account to purchase).

Here’s the description from the pattern page:

Clean and modern, this sleeveless top features reverse stockinette with small cable details. The v-neck and subtle waist shaping help it pair equally well with a skirt or jeans.

To minimize purling, the top is worked inside out in the round to the armholes. The neckband is worked right along with the upper body, so the only finishing is sewing the straps together and knitting the armhole edgings.

Avelina neck detail

Yarn: I used absolutely scrumptious Baah! Aspen (75% merino, 15% silk, 10% cashmere). I actually managed to squeak by with 2 skeins, but that required unraveling my swatch to knit the armhole edgings, so I recommended 3 skeins for this size. Still an economical project and a great way to get a pretty garment out of just a few skeins of luxe yarn.

Notes: This isn’t the first time I’ve worked a reverse stockinette garment body inside out to the armholes to avoid purling (my Put Together tank has this too). I love this trick! The hardest part for me is remembering to join new yarn on the knit side rather than the purl side. This time I wrote a big reminder in my notes so I wouldn’t forget.

I also really like the fact that the back and front neck edgings are worked along with the body. I swatched for a while to find just the right combo of stitches to make the edge look neat and finished–I think it works well!

Avelina back

My friend Cheryl did the modeling for me, since I had just had a baby and the top was, erm, rather stretched out in the chest area on me. Luckily it fit her like it was made for her. And she has that gorgeous glowing skin that complements the hand-dyed color so well.

I’m running a 25% off sale on all of my individual self-published patterns for the next month in honor of Madelinetosh May. Just enter the coupon code MADMAY15 in your Ravelry cart at checkout. So if you want to pick up a copy of Avelina, now is a good time. :-)

Oh! And if you live anywhere near the Knitting Temptations yarn shop in Dublin, Ohio, my sample of Avelina will be displayed in the shop starting in a few weeks, so you can see it in person.

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