Friday, January 9, 2015

Teaching and My New Pattern, Shetland Rose.

I love and hate teaching at the same time.  It truly is a job not for the faint of heart.  You have to be teacher, counselor, parent, and confidant to, in my case, 189 students.  This year has been a difficult year for me.  I have one of the worst mixes of children ever.  On their own, the majority are great kids.  However, the current combination of the little babies takes them from cherubic status to that of demi demon.  Many days I just want to stab myself in the face because it would be less painful than trying to teach.

Even though my days are difficult, I am still rewarded with some amazing moments.  To understand one of these moments, I have to give you a little background information.   Here in Portland, OR, we have lots of water and there are many open reservoirs in parks around town.  Of course, the reservoirs are fenced and they have security cameras.  We didn't have any issues until recently when an inebriated individual jumped the fence and urinated in one of the reservoirs.  In typical hysteria, the City drained the entire reservoir.  So, we wasted 38 million gallons of water over a cup of pee.  This caused a huge scandal here in Portland were we are Super eco friendly.

Okay, back to teaching.  The 8th graders are on a civics unit and they are studying impeachment.  Richard Nixon came up in association with the Watergate Scandal.  One young lady blurted, "He peed in the water?  A president peed in peoples' water?"  After drying my tears from laughing so hard, we explained what really happened.  She replied, "Oh, I thought Watergate was like the fence and gate around the reservoir."  I actually understand her confusion too.  I was eight when all that was going on and I wanted to know what a watergate looked like and how it worked.  Was it a gate made of water and how did they make the water hard to make it open and close.  This was also similar to guerrilla warfare.  As a child I wanted to know why they made all of those gorillas go to war and how did they train them to shoot a gun.

Another great gem came from a sophomore boy named Sam.  He raised his hand and said, "Mr. Hunnicutt, my urineatory system is telling me that I have to go to the bathroom."  "Well," I said.  "I'm not a science teacher but I'm pretty sure that you don't have a "urineatory system"."  After much laughter, we established that it was his excretory system that he wanted to relieve. 

Oh those kids!!!

Okay, on to knitting.  If you don't know, I actually design knitwear.  Most of what I have done has been done for Knit Picks.  It's very difficult to for me because I really want to talk about what I'm knitting but I can't until the pattern is released.  Well, here is one that just got released on the 5th.  It's called Shetland Rose.
 Isn't it FAB??!!!
This was a great knit.  It's done totally in one piece and knit from the bottom up and it's filled with lots of little extras like these.

 The inside of the button band, collar and cuff is a delicate little pattern that adds a nice contrast to the rest of the pattern.

Then, there is the gusset and the sleeve.

The gusset has its own pattern and the contrasting colours are carried down the sleeve.  I love little details.  They just make the sweater more interesting.

Personally, I think this is my best design to date and I appreciate how it made me think.  Let me know your thoughts.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Treck Across the South and Ms. Walker's Page 19.

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to drive my mother from Houston, Texas, to New Orleans, Louisiana.  The occasion was my aunt and uncle's 50th wedding anniversary.  Now, I know I said that this was an opportunity but really, it was more of a directive from my mother.  It went something like this.

Me: "So, mom, should we meet in New Orleans for Mimi and John's party?"
Mom: "Oh honey, you know how much I don't like flying."
Me:  "Mom, it's a 45 minute flight."
Mom:  "I know but it's still hard on me."
Me:  "Are you thinking about driving."
Mom:  "Well, I was thinking you could fly here and then we could drive to your Aunt and Uncle's party."
Me:  "...................................... Uh........................."

Yup, that's about it.  There was much more to the conversation after that but I won't bore you with the details.  It was pretty much me stumbling around trying to figure a way out, knowing that my mother had trapped me into a visit and a 12 hour round trip drive.

Now, if you have followed my family adventures, you know that my mother is a very healthy, active 74 year-old (I know this because I've talked to her doctors).  However, she will make you think that she's about 92 and, apparently, people who think that they are that old cannot possibly fly.

I did try several times to get her to fly but nothing worked.  The closest I got was when I suggested that she chose a favourite pill, from her impressive collection of sedatives, with me in tow on the plane.  However, even the lure of a chemical haze while being supported by a loving son was not enough.

So, the stage is set; my mother and me driving across the South in August.  What could be more fun?  Well, I have the answer for you.  My mother, my sister and me driving across the South in August.

Enter, the Sister, my baby sister to be exact.  You know, my sister isn't all that bad; she's just on a different plane than the rest of us.  This is mostly due to her job as a professor of gender studies.

If you don't have a college professor in your life, then you probably don't know that they really do live in an ivory tower.  Universities tend to be little islands of liberal academics, all of whom have perfect politics, and a comfy collection of Berkinstocks.  Don't get me wrong, I don't begrudge my sister any of it.  She did, after all, work really damn hard for many years to get to this point.  However, I do wish she would come down to the real world on occasion.

Now, let's think about the conversation in that car for 12 hours.  Here are the players again,  my mother, who thinks she's too old to do anything, my super liberal, super vegan sister and me, a loser mo who likes meat and potty humour.  Well, like any other self respecting loser mo, I saw the potential for trouble early on and decided that a constant barrage of potty humour would save the day and my sanity.  Guess what, it did!  Both my mother and sister are very critical of potty humour; however, if you don't cave, and continue to be inappropriate, they eventually quiet down so as not to elicit more fart or poop jokes.  Works like a charm.  I just need to figure out a way to use this method at holiday meals.

The drive wasn't all that bad in reality.  Texas is a hot hell hole and Louisiana is a hot hell hole.  However, at least Louisiana is a pretty hell hole.  It's true; everything is really ugly as you drive through Texas.  Then, about a mile into Louisiana, it's pretty.  I don't know what gives but Texas really needs to take a cue from their neighbour.

We left early on a Friday morning and got to the North Shore about seven hours later.  For those who are not familiar with New Orleans, the North Shore is across Lake Pontchartrain, basically, the burbs.  It's a very pretty place.  A bit steamy and jungle like but pretty.

Now, the next bit o'fun was the hotel.  My mother decided that we had to stay at the La Quinta near my aunt's house.  While this is not my favourite hotel chain, I was okay with the choice for two nights until my mother informed my sister and I that we would all be sharing one room.  (Enter memories from childhood of being crammed into a hotel room with your parents and siblings. Me trying to sleep while while I listen to my dad snore and fart in his sleep and me being kicked by my sleeping sister.)

Mom:  "I got a suite.  It has a king bed and a pull out sofa."
Me:  "........................Uh....................."

Okay, so crammed into a car only to be crammed into a hotel room with a bathroom as the only private space.  All I can say is that Prince Valium and I were very good friends.

I survived and my Aunt and Uncle's party was a hit.  Here are a few pictures.  The first is my Aunt and my Uncle dancing.  Aren't they cute!  Next is my mother, her sister and their cousins.  My mom is the one sitting and my Aunt is standing behind her.

Next up, me and my sister with our aunt and a picture of the cake.  Now this cake has a neat story.  The bakery that the cake came from was the same that my mother got her wedding cake from back in 1961.  The bakery is run by the granddaughter now but, Mamma says that the cake tastes just as good and that the layers were the same as her cake.  How cool is that?  My sister and I got to taste our parents' wedding cake in a round about fashion.

Okay, enough family fun.  On to Babs and page 19 of her book.  Now, page 19 has several patterns on it.  One set goes onto page 20.  For this installment, I stuck with those patterns that were on page 19 only.  Those that are on 19 and 20 both are saved for next time.

Swedish Block Pattern and Squared Check Pattern.  So, I always end up knitting these backwards.  The Swedish Block Pattern is the bottom half and Squared Check Pattern is the top half. 

These two patterns weren't too bad to knit.  I actually think both have uses.  The sample is not blocked.  Now that I look at the pictures, I wish I had blocked it.  I think blocking would really bring out the patterns' qualities.

Mostly, I see these patterns used for sweaters.  These combined with traditional gansey patterns would definitely liven things up by adding a new twist to the patterned sections.  Also, I think that they would look much better knit with finer yarn.  The yarn I'm using is a pretty fat worsted.

Here is the backside.  I am always interested to see if a pattern is reversible.  In the case of Swedish Block Pattern, I'm thinking not so much.  However, with the Squared Check Pattern you may be able to get away with it.

Well, off to work on page 20.  My next post will be a fun combination of a recap of the Men's Fall Knitting Retreat and the opening of school.  That's right; it's back to work for me and more middle school antics.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Knitwear, Poodle Love and Babs Walker's Page 18.

How is it that summer, generally a time to relax for teachers, is always so damn busy?  Oh, that's right, I take on way to much.  Why the hell do I do this to myself every summer?  I have a list of a ton of projects that I want to accomplish yet I never get to them because I do so much other stuff for other people.  Now, here I am, less than two weeks away from going back to work and I finally have time for me.

My biggest issue this summer was designing a garment for a certain, yet to be named, yarn company.  Of course, this is totally James Bond land and I can't say who, what, or when.  However, I can say that this project drove me a bit nuts and the only thing that would make it better is if Adel would sing a theme song about it like she did for Skyfall (yes, I love Adel).

The other great task I took on was flying to Houston and driving my mother to a family function in New Orleans.  More on that fun fest in a later post.  What I can say now is that I survived and mother is very, very happy.

The nice thing about traveling is coming home to your dogs.  As you may recall, my partner and I have six standard poodles.  Currently, we have five at home.  Libby, our youngest is  being shown by a professional handler in California.  We call it "Doggy Boarding School."  The girls go away for a few months, get their degrees (championships) and then they come home to get married and raise children (have puppies).  Anyway, my girls have been super clingy since I got  back from Texas.  It's so wonderful to be so appreciated by another creature.  Dogs are such a gift.

Ack!  When did I get so mushy.  I can't believe that I just let emotion get in this post.  Next thing I'll be doing is hugging people, God forbid. 

Okay, back to poodle love, sans emotional rhetoric and touchy feelly stuff. 

We have one girl, Goldie, who has never been to boarding school.  Jeff decided that he needed to show our own dogs af few years back and he did so with Gracie and Libby but they ended up being a bit of a handful; so, off to school they went.  However, Goldie's temperament in the show ring has been just right (pun intended).  It's rather interesting having a standard poodle in show cut around the house.  Actually, it's not interesting at all, it's a pain in the ass.  I'm sure you can guess why but if you can't let me tell you in one word, hair.  Yup, it's all about that damn hair.

Most of the world is familiar with the poodle show cut; you know, giant hair, teased up so that it touches the heavens and may even come in contact with God.  Well, we have that in our house.  I blame the French for my woes.  That poodle cut, 200 years ago was about two inches long; after all poodles are bird dogs.  You can't have all that hair when your fetching dead birds.  Next thing you know, the French are on the scene and that hair got really big really fast.  I'm sure the French would blame Texans but big hair in Texas was just few years down the road.  (By the way, having just been in Texas two days ago, I can affirm that big hair is still very much alive and well in that state.)

Well, our girl Goldie got all teased up this last weekend and here is the result.

Check out the size of that do.  I almost feel that my dog should bark with a Texan accent because that hair is so damn big. 
Now, what's good about all this, is that she won last Sunday, and, like her hair, it was big win.  In the show world, they call that a "Major Win."  In this case, she was selected as the best poodle out of all the girls and all the boys.  Jeff was thrilled, as he should be because he showed her.  The other nice thing about all of this is that when Jeff is thrilled, life around the house is so much nicer. 

Okay, enough poodle love.  Let's talk about Ms. Walker.

About a year ago, I set out on a mission to knit each of the samples from Barbara Walker's first book.  I'm still all about that mission even if I took time off to do a bit of design work.

This sample comes from page 18 (yes, I know that I'm not far along but I'm working on it), Double Basket Pattern and Elongated Rib Check.

So, here you have it and here you could probably leave it.  I'm not thrilled with this particular set of stitches.  On top is the Double Basket.  It is pretty elastic and might make an interesting rib and Ms. Walker is much more complimentary of the pattern than I am.  This sample is unblocked; so, you can see what she describes as "a series oh highly embossed waves." 

On the bottom is the Elongated Rib Check and its variation at the very bottom.  This is a pretty   straight forward pattern.  The variation adds a garter stitch row between rows of ribbing.  While this pattern was not all that interesting to knit, I can see where this would look nice on a gansey.

There is one benefit to all of this knitting, both patterns are reversible.  Here is the backside.  In my opinion, the backside of the Double Basket resembles basket weave more than the front.

Well, that's about it for today.  I'm almost done with page 19; so, expect a Walker update soon.

Peace Out and Poodle Love.

Monday, July 7, 2014

OMG!!! I Know I'm a Loser Blogger Too!

Okay, to my credit, I am terribly busy with the my students during the school year.  Maybe someday, I will figure out a way to teach, knit, and blog.  (Yes, I just used an Oxford Comma.)

Anyway, I have a ton to catch up on.  Hmmm....let's start with knitting.

My knitting escapades have been amazing.  First, I have two new patterns published with Knit Picks.  The first is in this lovely book.
It's a nice collection of patterns that require 100 grams of yarn or less.  This is my contribution, Selbu Tulip Mittens, being expertly modeled by my teaching partner, Brooke.  Isn't she awesome!!

I think that these are super cool mittens.  I was in total retro mode when I came up with this design.  I think they look like something my grandmothers would have worn in the 1940s.

I'm a HUGE fan of colour work.  I think it's my favourite; although, I still do love lace knitting.  Actually, I'm sorta torn between the two.  However, making a seamless fair isle sweater is totally the bomb.  I find it fascinating how worked up people get about seamless fair isle sweaters.  The general perception is that they are difficult.  Personally, I find them to be much easier than piece work.  First, they are done  in the round.  How FAB is that!  Second, you see the piece as a whole rather than bits of a pattern that is to be sewn together at a later date.  Third, steeks are a gift from God.  Seriously, they are BRILLIANT!  Fourth, you get to make cool patterns with colour all done on the right side of your knitting.

I'm always looking to work patterns into ones in which they can be knit in the round in one piece.  Someday, I may even put lace and steeks together in the same piece, HAHA!  I'll be blowing some minds then.

Speaking of lace, here is my other Knit Picks pattern, Water Lily Stole.
Yes, that's it on the front cover.  I was so excited when I saw my piece on the front cover that I screamed like a middle school girl.  Remember, I know how to do that as I spend the majority of my time with them.  It's okay if you want to feel sorry for me.

Here is a close up image.

I'm super happy with the way it turned out.  There are two Estonian lace patterns involved here.  The entire stole is worked in one piece on US 4 making a beautiful light airy stole.

Of course there are a few other items in the hopper but I have been sworn to secrecy.  Well, at least until the bad boys are published.

As for my exploration of Barbara Walker's works, I will be on that real soon.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Why Just Name Pencils When You Can Bedazzle Them. Plus Page 17 From Ms. Walker.

I know that I promised an update around September 22 but school just got the best of me.  My little munchkins are keeping me hopping.  With that being said I do have a bit of time now to enjoy myself and partake of just a wee bit of whiskey.
See, just a we bit and, I can assure you, it is just as refreshing as it looks.  As a matter of fact, I'm feeling refreshed just after a few sips.  Now the surroundings are a bit different since I am at a training this weekend at the beach.  I must be a chosen one because I got a room with this view.

It's almost like being bumped up to first class on a six hour flight except that I have to provide my own booze.  Oh and I also get to bring two of my babies.
Here are Bella and Toni enjoying the sea breeze.  Aren't they the cutest?  My girls have been very busy entertaining lots of people.  Well, except for the grumpy old man this morning.

Okay, I have to digress for a moment.  This morning, I'm out with the dogs, who were off leash for the moment because I'm  trying to coax them to pee, when this older gentleman was walking down the walk you see in the picture above.  Of course, my white one goes over to get some pets and I call her back.  I truly get that some people don't like dogs.  Toni dutifully comes back without having bothered the man and he says to me, "There is a leash law here."  To which I replied, "Thank you."  Seriously, you are going to tell me this at the Beach!  This is dog paradise.  Every dog is off leash.  If I ever become this grumpy and nasty, just take me out back and shoot me.

Schwoo, I feel better already.  Okay, now that that's off my chest, I'll continue with my update.

It's always fun traveling with poodles.  First, people stop and stare.  Second, people ALWAYS want to pet them and they are always surprised at how soft they are.  Of course, this is pretty rough for the poodle because the majority of poodles really don't want to be bothered with pets or people other than their human.  Well, except for my white one, Toni.  She's pretty much a slut for pets.  However, even she is done with it.  The two of them have attention overload and are passed out.
Here they are at this exact moment.  Poor things, it's rough being so popular. Anyway, the training has been good and it's nice to get away from the city with my babies and enjoy the beach.
Now, school has been quite interesting.  Remember my little kid Jake who was naming all of his pencils?  Well, he has been very busy.

It seems that there are certain pencils that are also chosen ones.  These pencils get to be dressed up.  If you refer to my last blog post, and review Jake's list of pencils, you will notice that one of them is named Miss America.  First, I did not really pay attention to Jake's list; so, I was amazed that he actually had a pencil named Miss America.  Next, I was surprised that he knew about Miss America because I thought that this had died out long ago.  This is just another glaring example of how I'm a loser Mo.  However, I'm sure that Jake will be a much better Mo than me because he knows about Miss America and also knows that Miss America should look like this.
As you can see, Miss America is wearing the equivalent of a Pencil Tiara.  Isn't she beautiful?  I'm just curious how she looked in the swim suit competition. 

Anyway, since I took these pictures, the pencil drama has escalated a bit.  It seems that Jake has lost a few members of his pencil family and would like to have them returned.  Now, if you are not familiar with middle school children, they lose EVERYTHING.  When they leave your classroom there is often a vast amount of debris that they have shed from their persons.  Included in this debris are coats, water bottles, lunch boxes, pencils, pens, notebooks, textbooks, backpacks, instruments and many other items.  What's even more interesting is that they never realize that they have shed these items.  Let me digress for a moment and tell you a story.

Two years ago, one of my seventh graders left their Sock Monkey hat in my classroom.  I put it at the front of my room over a box on the drafting table that I teach from.  So, in essence, this hat was right next to me the entire time that I taught class.  It was pretty much at my elbow every time I was lecturing.  Now, you would think that this would spark something in some student to say, "Hey, what's my hat doing up there with Mr. Hunnicutt?"  However, it did not.  That hat stayed up there for two weeks.  I finally decided that I was going to wear the damn thing.  So, one day I took it home and wore it out of the house the next day.  Of course, when I got to school, the kids were thrilled that I was wearing a Sock Monkey hat.  This only fueled my middle school self.  Anyway, I was prancing around my seventh grade class in my new hat when the kids asked me where I had gotten it.  I told them that some student had left it for me and that had placed it up front for someone to claim for two weeks but now one had; so, now it was mine.  It was then, and only then, that this kid says, "Hey, that's my hat." 

Now, I know that most of you are saying "WTF!  That hat was up there for two weeks and you are now just realizing that it's yours?"  Trust me, it's a normal response, however, this is how they are.  They leave gobs of stuff and never realize that it's theirs even when their names are on them.  We teachers just shake our heads and hug parents because we truly understand.

Okay, back to the pencil drama.  Now, Jake is different in that he has realized that he lost his pencils.  So much so that he has started a campaign to have them returned.  Here is one of his "MISSING" posters.
To date, Vici and Hooly have not shown up but I'm sure that I will be informed when they have made it back home.  Now, as to Jake's grammar errors, we are working on that.  We still seem to be having a bit of an issue with apostrophes.

Okay, I guess that's enough about my life with the seventh graders; so, let's turn to my life with Ms. Walker.

This week we are on page 17 of A Treasury of Knitting Patterns.
Page 17 features Basketweave, Basket Rib and Basket Welt.

So, let's dive in. First, I ran out of that Baby Ull; so, now I'm using Ella Rae Classic Worsted.  Since I'm a loose knitter, I used US 5 rather than the recommended US 7.

 The bottom band is Basketweave.  As much as the process of knitting wasn't that interesting, I have to say that I like this pattern.  There is just something very classic about it.  I'm not sure what I would use it for but I still like it.

The middle band is basket rib.  Out of the three, I like this on the best.  This I can see as an allover pattern or even in bands for a gansey.  Again, the knitting isn't that interesting but the final product is quite nice.

Now for Basket Welt.  Out of the three, this is my least favourite.  I'm not sure what I would use it for.  In my opinion, it looks like messy knitting; sorta like you didn't quite get the right translation of the Basketweave pattern but kept knitting anyway.  This might be one of those patterns that needs to go into the Historic/ Why Bother chapters

Now, here is the swatch's backside.  You can make your own decisions about this but I think that you could get away with a reversible garment using any of these three patterns.
Again, my favourite is Basket Rib.  I like how the reverse side is a series of wavy lines.  I'm thinking that in a finer yarn, say DK or Sport, this would create some interesting textural effects.  It's somewhat similar to Waving Rib but tighter.

Well, that's all I have for now.  The other teachers here are calling me to go to dinner.  Let me know what you think about these patterns or if anyone has actually used Basket Rib in a reversible garment.

Next week, Page 18!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Please! Barabara Walker, You Are Putting Me To Sleep. Plus 7th Grade Fun!

Well, the school year is off to a really fast start.  Compared to last year, this year is a million times better or, in reality -110 better.  So, I know your brain just did a double take.  Being a math teacher, you sorta need to think like me.  Truly, I know that you find that scary but it's okay, really.  Let me explain. 

Last year our school district cut 345 teaching positions.  Now, can you guess what all those cuts meant?  OMG!  That's correct; class sizes went through the roof.  See, you could be a math teacher too. 

Now I'm not going to bore you with my lecture on why we need to fund education.  Although, I will say that if you think about your average Tea Party member, you will get a really accurate picture about why education is really important.  Anyway, my class sizes definitely went way beyond just going through the roof.  Mine maybe came close to going through the ozone layer.  So, that means that my classes were in the 50s. 

Now to put this into perspective, think about your average 7th and 8th grader or even better, think back to when you were that age.  Do you remember all of the awkwardness and bad body odor?  Okay, now hold on to that image and think about 56 of those crammed into a classroom meant for 25 and you will understand how terrible last year really was.

So, that's where the -110 comes from.  Last year I had 267 students (that's not counting the extra 60 I had for study hall) and this year I have 157.  Now, 157 is manageable, but 120 would be best.  Anyway, I'm feeling like a teacher again and not someone who does crowd control with just a hint of math thrown in for fun.

This year I have two seventh grade classes and they are supper cute.  Here is a picture of them doing a measurement activity last week.  Actually, it's not really meant to be measurement activity; it's actually an adding and subtracting decimals activity.  I'm sneaking in the decimal stuff  in with the measurement.  It's kinda like your mother sneaking healthy vegetables in food that you actually liked.

Aren't they ADORABLE!  Look at them working so hard measuring things.  They hadn't gotten to the adding and subtracting decimal part; so, they were all still pretty happy at this point.

Now most of you are terrified of this age group but I'm here to tell you that you don't need to be.  They are actually pretty damn funny.  Take for instance one of my boys, Jake, who decided that all of his pencils needed to be named.  I'm still not sure why he needed to name them but he did.  They are all lined up in his pencil box with their names written on them in black Sharpie looking quite sharp and ready to go to work. 

Of course, being a seventh grader just makes you want to bring the beauty of named pencils to the rest of the world.  So, off Jake went to other members of the seventh grade class and started naming all of their pencils.  He is so proud of himself that he actually gave me a list of the names.  Here it is.

 Just so you know, I did speak to him about the missing apostrophe when he came to my class to add the name "Honey" to the list.  Apparently, he had named Tony's pencil during passing time and wanted to make sure it made it on the list.  I can hardly wait to see what Jake and all of my little darlings will do this week.

Okay, on the home front the Tomato Apocalypse continues.  Here is round five.
Yes, I now that I skipped round four.  It seems as though Jeff was busy giving away tomatoes again while I was at work.  His good friend Colleen got round four and I wish her all the best in her tomato processing endeavours. 

Now, to Ms. Walker.  This week's installment comes from page 16.  Let me just start by saying that page 16 has been the most BORING page to date.  Personally, I believe that Ms. Walker should have left these out of the book or maybe placed them in a section labeled, "Historically Interesting and a Great Cure for Insomnia." 

OMG!  It was all I could do to get through these two patterns.  Okay, enough complaining.  Here they are.
The top band is called Wager Welt and the bottom band is Banded Insertion Pattern. 

Wager Welt = Butt Ugly.  Done.

Banded Insertion Pattern = Giant Pain in the butt because you have to use two sets of needles one four sizes larger than what you cast on with.  Oh, is is also Butt Ugly.

This is about the only knitting that I have done since school started.  However, now that I am finding my stride I did cast on some fun stuff this morning using Judy's Magic Cast On.  I'll tell you all about that next week when I bring you page 17 of Ms. Walker's amazing work.

Okay, off to exercise our six standard poodles.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Tomato Time and Babs Walker and I are Becoming Tight!

OMG!  My tomato jungle is going crazy.  It's producing so many tomatoes that I barely have time to knit.  Seriously, that's a scary thing.  To give you an idea, here are a few pictures.

This is the first pick.

Most of these guys were eaten in any number of salads and also given away to the neighbours, except for the roma tomatoes.  Those bad boys are MINE!
Aren't they beautiful?  Now some of you might wonder what the fuss is over tomatoes.  Well, when you live in the Pacific Northwest, you have a small window when you get fresh tomatoes.  Some years, it has been to cool to really get any tomatoes at all.  Those are very sad years indeed.

Anyway here is round two!

My hands were stained green from picking all these guys.  Now really, this was round three.  Round two happened while I was up in Seattle for the Men's Fall Knitting Retreat.  Jeff had one of our neighbours come over and have a tomato picking fest.  I'm actually kinda weird about my tomatoes.  I have a hard time parting with them.  My friend Erica never shares her tomatoes; so, I guess I'm okay.  Besides, if I didn't, I'd be canning these bad boys 24/7.

Now, I think I hear your brain asking, "What did you do with all of those tomatoes?"  Well, let my brain let you in on one of the easiest ways to process your summer tomatoes.

First, you will need these items.
An apocalypse of tomatoes, fresh basil, a sweet onion and, of course, garlic.

Now (OMG, you're going to die at how easy this is) get a big sheet pan, cut your tomatoes in half and set them cut side down in the pan.

Cut up that sweet onion and stuff it around all those tomatoes.
Take as much garlic as you want.  In my opinion, more is better because garlic is one of those things like bacon. It's amazing!

Scatter those love cloves in and around all those tomatoes and then go for the basil.

Do exactly the same thing with the basil.  You don't need to cut it up just tear off the leaves and stuff them in there too.  Throw the seeds and flowers in there too.  They taste just like the leaves and no one will know that they are there.

Now, drizzle all over with some nice olive oil.  I get my oil from a guy in Pensacola, Fla.  If  I remember correctly, his family owns this giant olive grove on the isle of Crete and they produce this oil.  It's really good for cooking and salad dressing.  It's about thirty bucks for three liters shipped to your door.  You can find him on Ebay, Shoreline Foods.  What???? your brain was talking.  No, I don't know him and I am not getting a kick back.  Although, free oil would be fantastic.

 After you have put a healthy dose of oil all over the goods, sprinkle the tomatoes all over with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Isn't is beautiful?  Now seriously, you haven't even broken a sweat making this have you?  

Okay, now pop the whole thing into a 400 degree oven and bake for about 30-40 minutes until the skins on the tomatoes are brown and puckered.

This is what you're looking for.   Mmmmmm, roasted tomato goodness.

When the tomatoes have cooled, pluck off the skins.  Some of them might stick a bit to the tomatoes.  Just squeeze out the pulp when this happens.

Okay, here it is. the black looking stuff is the basil.  Don't worry, it's supposed to look like that.  Now, get out your food processor and and scrape all of this into the bowl and pulse the mixture about seven to 10 times.  You want to blend the ingredients but still leave a little texture. (Sorry, I forgot to take pictures at this point.)

And now you have some amazing fresh tomato sauce.  Here is mine all tucked away in the freezer waiting for a cold day in December.

Okay, now that I have gotten that out of my system, let's move on to Ms. Walker and all the fun that I'm having knitting up her stuff.

So, here we are on page 14.  This is the last of the missing installments.  Of course, my swatch is backwards from the pictures in the book.  The bottom section is Ripple Rib Stitch and the top one is Escalator Pattern.

Time to get down and dirty on these guys.  Let's start with Ripple Rib Stitch.  I wasn't wild about this at first but I think it has potential.  In its present form it's a pretty mediocre pattern; however, if you off set the diagonals at the point where they change direction you would add more interest.  Also, it might be fun to offset the the diagonals at the same point but keep them going in the same direction.  I'm adding that to my list of interesting things to do to Babs' patterns.

Now, onto Escalator Pattern.  I'm going to give my impression in four words, "Can you say yawn."  There you have it.  So, let's go back to the Ripple Rib Stitch

This is the back side.  Hmmm, I just heard your brain.  It's just like the front side!  I really like that when that happens.  Every time I come across a pattern that is reversible, my brain starts talking about cardigans.  For some reason, brain thinks that a reversible cardigan is what I should be knitting.  Well, just so you know, I have already purchased yarn for a cardigan.  Just don't tell my brain.  It will start hounding me to get busy creating the damn sweater.

Anyway, that's it for this installment.  I actually have to go and pluck the skins off of a batch of tomato sauce that came out of the oven whilst I was writing this.  YUMMM....