There were so many ways I could try to pique your interest in this post. From the cheesy but adorable, "Listen up!" (Bolt is mostly ears.)
To the eponymous.
Basically, I just have a few bits of business to relate.
News! Free patterns! I'm starting an e-newsletter to send announcements of new designs, subscriber discount codes, news about shows or other events, and links to images that provide inspiration for the featured designs.
Also, a trunk show in Portland, Oregon. On 2/28 I'll be joining the very talented, sweet as pie Daniel Yuhas, and I'll have several of my designs to look at and try on.
2/28, 6 to 8 pm
Rose & Thistle right after? Yes, indeed!
Finally, after all these years, I've begun to resemble the slutty dog in Lady & The Tramp.
Waves seem to be a recurring image for me these days, in my knitting and in my writing. Water is equal to time in my novel, and my character is sometimes stuck, standing atop Icelandic glaciers or sitting deep in snow. Sometimes time flows too freely and takes her a thousand years away.
A repetitive motif in a cowl could never capture something awesome like the ocean, but it could hopefully conjure that feeling of something lapping and going away.
I've been making wave-like designs lately, with gentle curves and twists and riffles. This one, the Mica Cowl, is from many months ago, long before there was a novel in my life. But today it's sculptural waves make even more sense to me than ever, so I brought it out and photographed it, trying to capture the three-dimensional quality.
Or maybe a rocky stream bank at least? It's kind of scraggy looking when it's hung on the wall.
It' s one of the very few of my designs that I actually wear. Here it is, beside an Icelandic river much like one in my book. My expression recalls how disoriented I was. It was always light out, and I was losing track of what day it was. At times, I felt as old ast the Viking house, but too inspired to care.
Oh, it's the Mica Cowl, originally publised in Knitcircus. Thanks, Knitcircus!
He added a small folding stand and roll-up keyboard. It was tiny, but he could write at coffee shops and libraries without carrying a laptop computer, which what was - at the time - like carrying around a concrete block. The idea of the snacktop was pretty awesome, even if in practice it was clunky and definitely weird. It was doing what our phones would ultimately do. Let us take snack sized devices and do snack sized things with them.
This came to mind because yesterday I heard from a librarian about a term people are using in the library world called...snacking. Not in the sense of eating a humungous moderate number of those chocolate balls from Lindt. The blue ones. No. But in the sense of snack-sized bits of reading. People are reading while they wait in line for things, while they take a short ride on the bus or sit outside a dressing room waiting for someone to try on jeans. (That one could be a big snack, actually.)
This certainly has big implications for libraries, publishers, and of course writers. Or does it?
The thing that caught my attention - besides the fact that now reader's phones are truly snacktops! - was the idea that writers might write to this. Might write something or somehow differently knowing that things might be consumed in small bites.
I think of this in a positive way, mostly, not in a way where new technology might steal the soul of something I write, but as a challenge that could result in some new forms or inspiration. Then I wonder, don't we already have this kind of brief material all around us, rudely injecting us with 5-minute spasms of wonder, fear, anger, advice, joy and unease all day long?
Are status updates and blog posts serving this craving? Or do you think many people are snacking on (gasp!) poetry? It's already short, right? (I'm smiling thinking of my friend Dale, a poet, who is amazed at how many words I can write. At least I have volume going for me.)
All this led me down the path to knitting, of course, because most things do. As a writer of knitting books, essays and designs, and a person whose brain won't shut off, I started immediately thinking about how knitting lends itself to snacking.
Thing is, I don't have a snacktop. I have a plain, dumb phone that my neighbor gave me in a ziploc baggie when my other one broke.
So I don't know.
Are you all snacking?
I would like to say that I'm knitting gorgeous, inspiring things. Textures that leap off the swatch! Laces that lovingly drape. The kind of simple, classic designs that make your fingers ache to knit.
Instead, you may notice a photograph of lentils.
The fact is my swatches over the past week have been depressing in their failure to highlight the yarn I'm designing with. It's a gorgeous yarn in a pale, solid, almost neutral color that should look great in any stitch. And yet. Even old standards from Barbara Walker look poor, and the brand new stitches I'm inventing are positively destitute.
So then. Here's some really delicious and super easy stew I made last night!
1. Chop leeks & celery and get them sizzling in the oil in a big pot with some salt & pepper.
2. Peel carrots and chop in rather large chunks. Add to the mix and stir.
3. When things are a bit brown, add about 1.5 liters water and all the other ingredients.
4. Bring to boil, then a fast simmer for about a half hour. Turn down and let simmer for a while until ready to eat. (I let mine simmer throughout Jillian Michaels' level 1 Yoga Meltdown and writing a chapter of an art book I'm co-authoring with Sebastian.)
5. Take the chicken thighs out and clean them, putting what you consider to be the edible meat back in the soup. I'm picky about what I put back into the soup. I give the rest to the raccons my husband. His standards for edible chicken are different from mine.
I just published the pattern for my Luft shawl, which I've loved knitting and am wearing right at this minute. When I'm not wearing it, I like to set it on the table and admire it. The yarn - called Zeta from Luna Grey Fiber Arts - is so subtly dyed, the wool and silk blend so light and just the slightest bit shiny. The lace is super simple but gives a truly airy consistency. It would be even airier in a laceweight, I'm sure. (I haven't tried. Laceweight frightens me.)
Martin took these pictures on a day that was absolutely freezing. I like the sort of moody one above, and I think it looks a lot like other knitting photos I am drawn to.
On the other hand, I'll paraphrase Martin. He says this picture below is the best one, because a shawl is in part about loveliness, and I look lovely here. Awwww. That made me use it as the second shot (I'm just not sure enough of the shawl pattern shows.)
Here is how you get the pattern.
Though I'm showing you here a picture of Sebastian out in what passes for snow here, this post is about Martin's birthday dinner. Whenever I have a number of people coming over, I make my go-to dish. Sausage and peppers. This is food I ate growing up in New Jersey, and everyone made it, though my dad in particular liked to cook this.
It is sin on a bun, so delicious, looks impressive, and could not be easier to make.Beware, it is low brow. The ingredients are not fancy, nor is the “method.” But I’ve had three foodies love it and ask either how to make it or where I source my ingredients. (That would be Fred Meyer.)
I considered calling it a family secret, but realized that was silly when more people might want this awesome and easy thing to eat.
Sausage & Peppers
Packaged uncooked Italian sausage, like these, about 2 sausages per person.Two of each: red peppers, green peppers, white onions.
Preheat oven to 360.
Place sausage in a baking dish with nothing else.
Bake for about 30 – 40 minutes, turning once or twice.
At that point add the chopped peppers and onions right on top. Nothing else.
Bake for another 30 – 45 minutes, turning and mixing once in a while. It will be done when the sausage are somewhat crispy, almost too brown, and the peppers and onions are cooked and sort of caramelized.
I serve them with rolls, and while they were not typically eaten with mustard when I was a kid (more likely they were served with pasta), I do set out mustard.
Here is a picture of me with the sausage on my friend’s blog. Hilarious!
(Bea is an awesome cook, all non-dairy delicious foodie-food. Her daughters can't eat dairy, and to a less serious extend neither can I. So she and I stood in Fred Meyer and read the ingredients of Johnsonville sausages. We kind of closed our eyes and scanned for dairy. Because like in True Blood, we broke Lafayette's cardinal rule. "You don't ask what's inside the sausage, you just enjoy it.")
Sebastian working on his new bridge building set.
I've tried it before - giving some little thing randomly, to surprise someone I don't even know and delight them for just a moment. It feels great. Many people are doing that kind of thing right now, to try to make sense or at least look around a little and say hey, some of us are good to one another. It's lifting their hearts, and that is truly remarkable. From what I've read, people have been buying Starbucks cards and tanks of gas for strangers, buying things to donate to shelters, anything.
I don't have much extra money right now. I have more than enough for us, but not that much extra. Not 26-gift-cards kind of extra. I thought about really inexpensive things like letters, but that aren't overly sentimental and hokey.
In the meantime, I was taking stock of my knitting "career" such as it is, and I figured out that I have 26 knitting patterns that I sell.
When I thought about this, I realized that giving away patterns is self-serving, drawing a spotlight to me. While the 26 acts thing is actually focused very much on the giver, in my opinion, still it seems wrong.
I decided two things. One, I'll do something else truly simple and random for myself and humanity at large. Like leaving dollar bills in coffee shops or books on bus benches. And two, I'll give away patterns separately, as a little way to light up the drear of winter. Starting on January 1, I'll just pick someone from the ravelry queue for one of my patterns and gift it to them.
Before I do this, I have one question. Do you think this would make people feel pressure to knit the patterns I give away? What if they just queued something on a whim and really don't want to knit it? I do that all the time! What if I sent a pattern to you and you didn't really want it? How would you feel?
What do you think?
I had this Polwarth and silk yarn from Luna Grey Fiber Arts, which was dyed just for me! * And I had this idea for a simple, geometric shawl. So simple. So geometric. So open to interpretation using colors, yarn weights and needle choices. The very kind of piece I most like to design. I couldn't help knitting half the shawl in a day.
* Though I'd like to think I'm a special snowflake, you can very likely get some yarn dyed just for you, too. If they don't have the color you need, just talk to Luna Grey on etsy.
I think this will turn out to be idle dreaming. But in case you are really going to attempt this at the last minute, I've been meaning to pull this list together. It's just a few of my designs that are really quick to knit as gifts. And now, truly, it is very late in the game.We're currently struggling to keep up with little gifties in Sebastian's shoes every night from the Yule Lads. And getting ready to party here, beginning with an end-of-the-world happy hour on Friday and continuing on through a trip to the beach in early January.
The afterlife beach, obviously.
So....these patterns are:
The Meathead Hat uses 1 skein of Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky and is ultra fast. This hat is sized for adults, children and babies. The largest adult size does take 2 skeins.
Meathead Hat pattern, $5, $4 with coupon code
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The Crow Cowl, shown using 1 skein of Quince & Co. Puffin. This is a cable-free pattern that looks sort of like cables, making it extra impressive for how quick it is.
Crow pattern, $5, $4 with coupon code
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Litla, a little shawl, takes 1 skein of madelinetosh Tosh Cunky. I am not an especially fast knitter, but I made this sample in 11 hours, including finishing. For a shawl, for me, that's speedy.
Litla pattern, $5, $4 with coupon code
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Cheers to you all!
I hope you're having a great holiday time.