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My Garden Windows mother-daughter cardigan set is finally out!  I really love this design.  Worked in Daily DK from Willow Yarns, it features a circular yoke worked in garter stitch stripes, with window frames formed from slipped stitches.  

These two sweaters practically flew off my needles---worked in one piece with the yoke pattern repeated at the cuff, it was great meditative knitting with always something to look forward to.

My daughter is wearing the size 4.  She loves the cropped look and 3/4 sleeves.  To replicate the look on a less diminutive body, simply start the cuff and waistband earlier! This pattern is really flexible that way---you could also knit it past the hips for an open tunic. 

 
 
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Universal Yarn Company published my Hagakiri Tee in February, but I've been so busy that I'm just now getting around to posting about it.  

My husband loves the waist shaping and peek-a-boo underarms, and I am particularly pleased with the sleeve caps (after five attempts!).

"Hagakiri" means "twig pattern" in Estonian. The lace is an Estonian pattern which looks like a branch with twigs coming off it at angles. The twigs are done in decreases, so you need to see a close-up of the pattern to appreciate it. The lace wraps around the shoulders and provides a striking stripe down the back. This tee takes only a few skeins of Cotton Supreme. It works up quickly yet is full of interest!




 
 
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I'm a little late posting this, and if the winter greens are finished in your part of the world, you'll just have to print this recipe for next year.  

Nobody in my family enjoys collards, so my son recommended we make pesto from the ones we got from our CSA.  After telling him collards aren't pesto greens, I looked it up on the internet.

And it turns out they are.

Here's my version of the recipe, tweaked to please my little family.


Ingredients
  • 5 cups packaged fresh collard greens, washed, trimmed, and chopped 
  • 3 garlic cloves or 3 green garlic stems and leaves
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1 cup pitted olives
  • 1/2 - 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon basil powder or 2 Tablespoons dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons oregano powder or 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest or lemon rice oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Preparation
1. Blanch greens in boiling water to cover for 1 minute; drain. Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process; drain well.

2. Roughly chop garlic. Toast pecans in dry pan over low heat. Process garlic and pecans in a food processor until finely ground. Add greens, olives, cheese, herbs, salt, and 1/2 cup oil; process until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides. Add more oil if necessary to achieve desired consistency.


We had this the first night over rice pasta with black olives and extra parmesan. Yum! But spread on pitas, topped with mozzarella cheese, and baked at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes it was a real hit. If you're looking for a new way to eat your greens, give this a try!

 
 
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Solefull Socks: Knitting from the Ground Up by Betty Salpekar, photography by Barbara Benson, pub. Bread Crumbs Press, 2014.

Ingeniously practical as well as gorgeous, these 18 sock designs made me gasp with each turn of the page.  They employ a new architecture: knit the entire sole from the center out, then the top of the foot from the outside in, and finally the leg around and around as usual.

From a practical standpoint, this system enables you to reinforce or cushion just the sole, re-sole the sock without disturbing the top, avoid picking up stitches, try the socks on to check fit as you knit, make the socks any length to suit your whim (or yarn yardage).  This is wonderful in itself, but solefull architecture also allows the designer to cover the entire sock top with colorwork or stitch patterns, resulting in breathtakingly beautiful pieces.

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The book begins with a tour of Salpekar's sockway, replete with diagrams and definitions.  Not everyone loves this kind of reading as much as I do.  You can skip this section, but stay vigilant as you knit your first sock using this method.  If you use the handy-dandy chart for the sole toe, check your understanding of the short rows against the written instructions.

And now: the designs!  The first chapter features socks in plain stockinette.  Chapter 2 explores knit, purl, and slip stitch combinations and Chapter 3 covers patterns such as chevrons which involve increasing and decreasing.  Next come chapters using color stranding, traveling stitch, and lace.  In some of these chapters, Salpekar indicates members of the "Trellis Quartet":  solefull sock designs in a trellis pattern done with knit and purl, color stranding, traveling stitch, and lace.

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Most of the socks are in three sizes: 8.75", 9.5", and 10.25", corresponding to women's shoe sizes 5 - 10.  While I appreciate this generosity of sizes (sock patterns have historically been given in one size only), some knitters have complained about the lack of even larger sizing and/or charts to help a knitter customize the patterns to their feet.  If you would be disappointed by these omissions, do not buy this book.  But if you need a larger size and wouldn't mind knitting these lovely socks in a heavier weight yarn (after punching some buttons on a calculator to make sure you're following the instructions for the best size), don't be afraid to take the plunge.  

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The charts and diagrams are exceptionally clear.  Salpekar seems to have chosen the clearest method of charting for each situation.  Given that most of the patterns are written in multiple sizes, this task was not as straightforward as it sounds.  Detailed keys, where necessary, make each chart approachable.

This method requires even fewer knitting contortions than the usual sock construction.  The distinctive double decreases on the top of the foot are on the outside of the sock and so won't be felt except by the most sensitive feet.  And there are a couple of ways to entirely avoid these ridges (mirrored single decreases and grafting).

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The traveling stitch designs (like Semi Aran, above) are particularly pretty, but my favorite is Fair-gyle (shown at left).  All the socks are attractive, and this structure begs to be used in other ways.

Sprinkled throughout the book are quotes relating to innovation and perseverance.  These quotes are an inspiring addition to the collection.

I recommend this book very highly to knitters and designers who are open to new ways of thinking---not simply sock knitters, but anyone wishing to fuse the practical with the artistic.

Salpekar is working on a sequel to this book with a different version of solefull socks.  This tantalizing prospect may take a while to come to fruition, but I'm certain it will be worth the wait!



Disclosure: Bread Crumbs Press sent Kangath a copy of Solefull Socks free for review.  Kangath was not compensated for the preceding review.  All opinions expressed in the review are the blog author's and are not necessarily the opinions of Bread Crumbs  Press or the Betty Salpekar.
 
 
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a little unlooked-for Spring in the front yard
 
 
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I had a response to my search for the identity of this lovely not-a-hat via email, and not from my husband's family but from a dear friend who lives in upstate New York but has family in India.  Apparently it is a dish carrier, meant for toting casseroles, cakes, or other round things to potlucks and picnics.  Not too far from any of our guesses!

Now I just need an occasion to use it. . . .

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And the winner of the giveaway is #12, kelly s, who wrote

Hands down, Selway. I like the drape & sheerness of it plus the look could be changed dramatically by the color of the underpinning worn below.


I agree!  Contact me to find out how to claim your prize.

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Karen Marlatt's "Selway"
 
 
Hot Tip:  When using the pen tool in Inkscape, it can be difficult to end your line.  Double-clicking should work, but I find my mouse (or maybe my hand) to be finicky in this respect.  Simply pressing the return or enter key ends the line and enables you to start a new line anywhere you want!
 
 
PictureMari Chiba's "Ballson"
The giveaway is now closed.  Enjoy the review!



When Mari Chiba asked me to be a part of the blog tour for this collection, I said yes right away.  This warm- and transitional-weather collection has 11 designs, all with delicate knitterly touches.


My favorite design in this collection is Ballson by Mari Chiba.  The deep square neckline has just the right amount of cling and just the right amount of lace.  The shaping is worked a little way in from the sides for an even more flattering look.  

The short sleeves make this a sweater I could wear year-round down here in Louisiana, if it were small enough.  The smallest size is 33" chest, and although there is no ease specification I think to fit me well I would need a 28 or 30.  Not many of the pieces in this collection are that small (sizes for the entire collection are on Ravelry), but I'm not afraid of a little arithmetic and Ballson doesn't look too hard to size down.

As with many of the tops in this breezy collection, care should be taken when choosing foundation garments.  In some photos, the model's camisole shows, which means bra straps could be visible sometimes.  

Another great design is Anne Podlesak's Camulet.  I'm a big fan of Anne's aesthetic, and this henly doesn't disappoint.  Many of the pieces in this collection have the same name as cities, but I wasn't able to find Ballson or Camulet.  Or Blaeberry, a sweet stole by lace goddess Susanna IC (in slightly different versions) for fingering or lace weight yarn.

PictureAnne Podlesak's "Camulet"
The other shawl in this collection is Sheyenne, a deep crescent inspired by the ferns of Southern California.  Designed by Laura Patterson of Fiber Dreams, the pattern requires simple chart reading and sock-heel short-rows:  a fun piece for timid knitters to expand their horizons while keeping it interesting for the more adventurous of us.

Another wonderful top is Karen Marlatt's Selway.  This  lace piece requires only minimal finishing.  This collection also includes two tank tops and a cardigan, as well as the designs pictured below.

These patterns are presented in clear two-column format with great schematics.  A feature I particularly like is the inclusion of the yarn label information on the pattern itself.

Caro Sheridan's photography represents this fun and relaxed collection well, and the flowers are an appropriate springtime touch.

And now, the giveaway:  I'll send one ball of Louet Gems Sport---enough for the contrast trim of Ballson---to one commenter chosen at random on February 15.  Simply say which design from this collection is your favorite, and why.  Check back to see who the winner is
---if nobody's claimed the prize by February 22, I'll choose an alternate.  Good luck!

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Tiona Murphy's "Roanoke"
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Patty Nance's "Tanana"
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Jairlyn Mason's "Niobrara"
 
 
Last month my husband and I were in Europe for two weeks.  While in Prague, we took a tram to Prague Castle.
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St. Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle
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The most impressive building at Prague Castle is the St. Vitus Cathedral.  Its bristly Gothic steeples rise above the palace grounds, identifying it from afar.  This is the first building you see, but the last sight on the tour.

The first sight is the Old Royal Palace.  Ornately carved doors.  Wonderful grand halls.  Spiral staircases.  An intimate chapel.  More doors.  Doors with intricate handles.  Doors with gorgeous hinges.  Dining areas with long tables.  Shields with emblems.  

And best of all, authentic heating (or not).  We visited in mid-December and kept our coats and hats on the entire time. 

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St. George Basilica
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Next comes the St. George Basilica.  Although it was built in the first century, its Baroque facade was added in the 17th century.  Inside were rich carpets, iron scrollwork, and painted ceilings.  When I was little I played a violin sonata by Johann Nepomuk Hummel, so I was interested to see a chapel dedicated to St. John of Nepomuk on my way out of the building.

The basilica was hosting a concert featuring Jiri Tomasek that weekend---I wished I could have gone, but we were going to be in Paris already by then.  He was guest faculty when I was at Michigan State, and taught me for a term.

Then we took a walk down Golden Lane.  The street itself is very short, with many tiny old buildings that originally housed castle servants.  These buildings were occupied until 1952---Kafka lived in one of them for a few years.  Now they are a mix of shops and replicas of medieval rooms.  

Entering in the middle of the street, it was not clear which way to turn, so we turned right.  We bought a beautiful book of Czech fairy tales, and saw many reconstructions.  It was beautiful and quaint, but it felt like a side trip, so when we saw the exit door at the end of the road it was tempting to go through without turning back and doing the other end of the street.  My leg had been bothering me and my husband didn't want to overtax it.

But we turned back, and were glad we did!  At the other end of Golden Lane was a tower with a dungeon and torture chambers, the alchemists' laboratory, and a museum of armor and weapons which we would have been sorry to miss. 

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The exit from Golden Lane was up some stairs, where we stopped for a trdelnik (only here they were called trdlo, which my mature husband insisted on pronouncing "turd-lo") and cocoa. Then we admired the magnificent panorama view.     

Our last stop was St. Vitus Cathedral which showcased beautiful stained glass windows, stone-, metal-, and wood-work.  There are doors here, too.  I could do an entire knitting collection based on the portals of Prague Castle.

After this inspiring, wonder-filled excursion, we took the tram back down to Old Town and had a late lunch at Country Life cafeteria where we tried (among other dishes) potato dumplings stuffed with plums in poppy seed sauce.  

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PictureSiberian Moss

You've heard of Spanish moss?  It's everywhere down here in Louisiana, draping the trees in life-sucking decadence.  

Well, yesterday was a snow day for our schools.  Or more sort of a potentially icy roads day.  We don't have salt trucks, so icy roads are a real hazard.

Today the downspout dripped all over our rosemary and refroze into a frozen variation of Spanish moss.  It's beautiful---all the icicles refract the light into rainbow sparkles.

Speaking of rosemary, I found this little guy growing between our steps a few months ago.  I didn't have the heart to uproot him.  Look how he's thriving!