Monday, April 27, 2015

The weekend recap

I really tried to slow my pace a little this weekend. I could feel myself tensing. I was prepping to do MORE and not less. I could feel little bubbles of anxiety that start with phrases like, "I should ..."

And then I got in touch with my sweatpants and said, "Nah."

When I got home from work on Friday, the boys and I went to the local market where they have food stalls and everyone picked out something to eat because I was too tired to cook. Then there was some baseball watching before I fell asleep on my knitting needles, ha!

I did manage some exercise Saturday morning before another Spring season soccer match. There was lunch and tea and board games with pals.

I didn't bake this weekend. I know, crazy right? I'll have you know, the soccer team won anyways. It wasn't pretty, but it wasn't ugly and  ... it was a win, and from all the little Muppet chatter it sounds like it was fun times.

We watched some playoff Warriors basketball. No knitting for that small time frame. Family friends came over for dinner such good company and well, we all need to eat, eh? Just simple eats -- roast chicken, scalloped potatoes and sauteed greens (spinach, kale and arugula) with garlic and bacon. Raspberries, whipped cream and chocolate pastries provided by our friends for dessert. Easy, simple, early with friends.

I knit a bit more before falling asleep in front of Midsommer Mysteries (Things that go bump in the night.) I was SO close to finding out who dunnit! ACK! I will have to scour the internet this evening for some closure  -- hopefully I won't fall asleep, again.

And yes, there appears a theme of me falling asleep early, in the middle of watching something on t.v. or ... well knitting. This wouldn't bother me so much, I have been very tired. However I wake up in the middle of the night almost every hour. If I were a comic book, there would be a question mark over my head.

This would not have been so bad except that I was getting up early to run the Across the Bridge 12k with my pal Alv. He's a really good guy and super fast runner. We met in gym class and have just some how managed to support each other's endeavors in passing. He mentioned he wanted to do a running event and we had been trying to meet up for coffee or brunch and here was an opportunity to do both. 

 It was nice to have a pal to wait in the queues with and chat and ride the shuttle over to the start line. However we run at very different paces and we just planned on meeting at the finish line with no pressure. I'm not very good at running with someone anyways. It makes me self conscious and I need to go at my own pace whatever that may be. The first photo is what the view was at the end.

This run was not my best, not only am I out of running shape (honestly I'm never in running shape, but you know at least I have more training before) but it basically proved to me that my shoes are dead. I had the worst blisters on the inside of my feet ever. I'm sad. I loved those shoes.

Awkward angle ...

But brunch was super tasty and fun. I think we'll try to do it again at some point this year.

I came home and after showering sort of had a pity party with my blisters on my bed. I just felt really tired, and sore and out of shape. I laid there and watched 2 episodes of the new season of Orphan Black. I love this creepy crazy show.

I finally pulled out the yarn and did the button thing for my 4T child sophisticate.

Not fantastic photos.

The Spring knitting mojo is still going ... I hope you found a good pace this weekend as well.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Smart girl socks

I had misplaced the cowl pretty much all weekend until Sunday evening when I watched Wolf Hall Episode 3. (Is anybody else watching this? What do you think?) I bound off the cowl, but it still needs to be "finished" with some weaving and blocking. Hopefully,

What I worked on in the meantime was my first sock of  Hermione's Everyday Socks.

I'm beginning to see the pattern. I'll work on these until I get to the heel. I really have a few things I need to get going on.

Andi in the comments from the "hopes and dreams..." knitting post said it best,
I don't know knitting on size 1 needles seems tiring me to me as well, even though there is not much of a difference between 1's and 1.5's. I can still feel the difference. 
Too right, Andi. Too right. And because of this sound assessment I will actually fiddle with the stitch count (notice how I am conveniently not committing to using the "g" word). and see if I can get a desired circumference with 1.5s next time around with the pattern ...

Araignee sums up my everyday day dream
Sock knitting cures what ails you.
And thus, one should always keep a pair of socks on the needles.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Spring Giveaway Winner!

The Random Number Generator selected Vera as the winner of the Madelinetosh Spring Sock yarn and lotion bar.

An email has been sent, but if any of you know Vera, tell her, you always knew she was a ... WINNER!!

Vera is a contributor to this stitching blog here.

Vera is new to sock knitting and I thought it would be nice if any of you could offer up some good resources for newbie sock knitters, I think it might be interesting and helpful to bunch of us.

A lot of you continue to provide me with great helpful hints. Things like, avoiding ladders with dpns or maybe a magic loop sock knit tutorial video you like? I think I am seriously going to have to try this technique. Jesse recommended the two at a time sock knitting book. It keeps me company at the side of my bed, but I still haven't committed to even the top/cuff down version (I think Jesse is a toe-up knitter.) Maybe my next holiday that involves less running around ...

I liked having a seasonal theme for this giveaway. I like seasonal themes in general, so maybe we'll have to have a summer giveaway as well :)

Tell me, if you were going to add something to your crafting kit and kaboodle, what would it be?

Personally, I have a bunch of wonderful mementos from my trip to London and Paris I'm seriously considering picking up a basic scrapbook. BASIC people, nothing fancy -- just a centralized place to glue things in. I always have room for sock yarn, despite what The Manfriend and The Kid say.

But the truth is I don't need much of anything. (do not tell the family I said that) What I actually need is to organize my things and my life ...ah an ongoing battle ... I mean journey...

Maybe just organize my needles? Kathy B. just mentioned she is using nail polish to distinguish and group her dpns and what not. BRILLIANT. Why have I not done this sooner.

Tomorrow WIP! Show or tell us what ya' got!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Hopes and dreams and some comments on progress

These are a stack of my hopes and dreams. 

Clockwise starting from the top is the beautiful sherbert yarn that Dee sent me. It's Florida yarn! Next is the Harry Potter inspired colorway, Godrics Hollow. Front and center is, Mind the Gap -- London Yarn, whoo to the hoo! and then lastly is the second cake of chunky Mad Tosh for Mrs. Canada's cowl.

Here is a stitch detail of that cowl.

It's coming along, almost done -- Sunday night at the latest, but you know, it's busy over here at Chez Ellen.

I did finish the pair of neon socks from Spring Break that I put on Instagram.

Also in the wings, but not pictured. The extra yarn to finish a toddler sweater came in the mail. I'm almost finished with that too, but I will need to get some buttons, ugh. I also have started my first pair of Hermione socks, just finished 20 rows of cuff. I think I need to master knitting socks on the magic loop for any socks that require US1 needles, because Knit 1, Purl 1 on those tiny @ss dpns felt like so much more work than usual. Maybe I'm just super tired.

I will have photos of these projects soon. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the weekend. May it bring you lots of laughs, lots of knitting and some tasty treats. :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Spring Giveaway!

As I was wandering the aisles of my local yarn store looking for project yarn for Mrs. Canada, I spied some very nice Mad Tosh sock yarn.

I thought wouldn't my knitting pals love a little spring colorway giveaway? Technically the color is "Mansfield garden party".

And here we are. I was feeling feisty and have thrown in a lotion bar. Because you know what Mom always says, "moisturize, moisturize, moisturize."

You know how this works. If you'd like to be considered for the spring giveaway, please leave a Ravelry handle or some way of getting in touch with you in the comments. I'll draw a winner next week Tuesday, April 21st.

If you think your stash is sufficient as is, or you're not feeling the whole spring theme, maybe tell me what kind of garden person you are. Do you take a Jane Austen turn about the garden inquiring after your friend's family's health? Are you burying old Easter Eggs in the corner for homemade stink bombs? Do you like to have your Barbies and GI Joe's make war amongst the Basil jungle in your mother's herb area?

Yeah, I was always a problematic gardener. My mother had to give me my own plot of ... dirt. Nothing grew, things just went to be buried and there was occasional seismic activity. To this day, I do not grow things, I make them crunchy, dry, moldy and dead -- and just in pots since we have no yard, just garbage cans. Really, it's amazing they let me keep The Kid. Maybe this is why I like other people's gardens.

Happy Knitting. Progress Report soon.

Friday, April 10, 2015

End of the week

Some end of the week happy: Sherlock from the BBC ... knitting.
The beauty of Fridays are the symbolism they carry for an end and beginning all in one.

Feels tidy. I like feeling tidy.

Katherine from the Comfort Zone usually writes, "Life is good" at the end of her posts, and I really like it. It makes me nod in agreement. It makes me feel grateful. It reminds me even if not everything is up to scratch at the moment, there is so much that is ... good.

This also reminds me, I noticed that a lot of people, including Katherine and Andi and Jesse all knit up socks recently, with contrasting toes and heels. I've never done this before. I think I'll make this a spring goal. Making socks snazzy -- that's my goal, slowly but surely, that's my way.

Hmm, I think it's about time for another give away. it's been a while. I think next week I'll have a little taste of spring ready to offer. Stay tuned!

The weekend approaches and I've been putting together my calendar of people to see, things to do for the month. I told The Kid on the way to school, "I think that I'll make some cinnamon rolls and freeze them so I can take them out and bake as needed either for school or weekends."

I was met with silence. That's not what I wanted. I wanted him to say, "Great idea Mom!" even if he didn't say the preferred, "Yesss! I LOOOOVE your cinnamon rolls!!!!."

"Oh are you 'over' cinnamon rolls right now?"

"Well ..."

"Do you not really like my cinnamon rolls?"

"No, I do ..."

"Should I use more brown sugar next time?"

"... Actually, you know, they aren't cinnamonny enough. More cinnamon would be better. The vanilla frosting was a little overpowering last time."

"Oh! Good to know! What about if we did a batch with coffee icing?" (he likes sweet coffee flavored things, i.e. coffee ice cream, he must be moderated!)

"Oh, that sounds good!"

So technically, the cinnamon rolls are back on the menu with some modifications, but they have been brought down my baking priority list, since the initial reaction to them was so ... underwhelmed.

Since discovering the love of pork pie in London (Darn you Mr. B!!!) I am setting about learning to make them this month or the next (what? there are only so many weekends in a month, and I have a feeling this is going to take me a few tries.) It will require a trip to the butcher's shop for specialty cuts. Oooo.

In the world of knitting I'm working on a cowl project for Mrs. Canada. It's in a beautiful turquoise tonal chunky Madelinetosh. The pattern is doubled and textured, but I'm not sure how it's going to turn out, so this may just be a prototype. I'll have a photo soon of my progress. I'd love to finish this next week. But I must say Madelinetosh in Chunky ... ohh yeah. Like panna cotta happiness. It's a dreamy, creamy, happy place.

I read the first Harry Potter while I was in London to beat jet-lag. It worked. So I have plans for my next 2 pairs of socks. I'm going for the colorway of Godrics Hollow in a Vanilla Latte pattern and I'm going to use some tosh sock for Hermione's everyday socks. Does your reading ever inspire your knitting?

I'm back to finishing "A Murder Is Announced" when I'm too tired to see my stitches, and that continues to be enjoyable. Slow but enjoyable. There was a time when I read quickly ... Maybe I'll have to knit a pair of murderous socks afters!

Something else discovered on my trip, my eye sight is changing. I found myself pulling away the menu quite a bit and yet not being able to read the tiny writing of the map. I was lucky Mrs. B had the map app open on her iPhone. Sigh. Definitely feeling a case of the olds through the eyeballs.  I have optometrist on my to do list ...

As you know with Spring comes ... baseball. Sweet, sweet baseball.  Probably the best sport to knit to. I know Kathy B. is with me! My Giants look a little scrappy this year. We don't quite have the depth on the bench that we had in previous years, but I'll enjoy knitting while they play no matter what.

Yet soccer is not over yet, and though my team (Man City) is basically imploding the end of this Premier League season and will not have any shiny trinkets to show off, we have a chance to whip us some Man United butt in the Manchester Derby this weekend. Fingers crossed -- except when knitting ;)

Oh and The Warriors are headed to the NBA playoffs. This team is my ever eternal underdog. I have a feeling I'm going to be in my room watching them so I can talk to the t.v. as much as I want without irritated looks from The Kid. He can be such a snob! Ugh, did I make that? I blame bad parenting!

Pictures and knitting in the next post I promise --  and remember next week a Spring Giveaway!

~Wishing you all much happiness :)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Spring Break: The Edible Version

As most of you know. Food is kind of a hobby for me. Not just cooking and baking. Not just restaurant dinners or dinner parties. I really enjoy and appreciate food.

This post is dedicated to some but not all of my wonderful food appreciation moments during Spring Break.

My first night in London was spent at Wembley Stadium watching a Euro Qualifier. I was pretty impressed with the concession eats but alas, I had also been on a plane for 10 hours so I didn't take any photos and just shoveled food in my mouth.

The second evening I met up with my old friend Mrs. T. who used to live in SF with me. We used to get up to some good times in our twenties. Catching up after over a decade was really wonderful, just like the elongated meal we shared at Granger & Co. in Notting Hill

Grilled Octopus

A Tuna Poke kinda salad with this lovely little bit of grass that tasted like the sea

Prawn fettuccine with rocket aka baby arugula

2 days later we found ourselves Mrs. B & Mrs. T out and about at Burrough Market with the boys. This place was just full of beautiful things to go home and cook with or eat ... whole stalls of cheese! But we took advantage of the deliciousness being cooked up on-site.

Sausage of Love, Sausage of Joy -- A song one never tires of.
Okay so the stall this next photo is from is a Thai food stall. These little circles are usually used in Thai cooking for these coconut snacks called, Khanom Kroak (I still like the plain Jane ones -- no corn, no floating green onions etc like when I was a kid). I've noticed this type of pan is also used for Japanese Takoyaki.  And me? I have a mini version of this pan at home that I usually use for good old fashioned pancake balls also known as Ebelskivers. But look!! Lo and behold I can wow my friends and family and use the pan for perfectly fried quail eggs!

Quail Eggs!
Moving along through the Burrough Market ...

Sausage! The Kid put ketchup on mine, but none for him. Dijon is OK, yellow is the devil's blood - avoid it if you can people

Mrs. B went the way of a beautiful veggie curry. Mmmmm.
Did I mention we went to Paris for 2 days? Yeah, I told you it was a whirlwind. I realize the photos of lunch were taken on The Kid's camera/ipod so I don't have pics of that for you. However after our fabulous lunch at a little bistro off the side of Sacre Coeur (which is now why I'm obsessed with recreating stuffed artichoke hearts with mushrooms and lardons -- wasn't pretty, but wow tasty), we walked through Monmartre and enjoyed the pretty food sites around us.

Tasty buttery cakes in a multitude of flavors

These are chocolates made to look like olives

And yes these are chocolates too, made to loo like quail eggs.
The boys had an excellent time and were in good spirits the entire Paris trip. No whining! It helped that they had goals. They were determined to eat waffles and crepes. So even after a big lunch after we made our way to The Trucadero the boys had sweet on their minds and bellies.

Je voudrais une gaufre avec chocolat, s'ilvous plait :)
For dinner that evening we headed across town to Les Halles and had another bistro/brasserie dinner. I had to have oysters while in Paris.

Even the smallest oysters are larger, but still, very fresh and tasty. Close your eyes can you taste the sea?
The Kid's steak was very large. He prefers his medium rare, but even for me, the initial service was a little underdone. The server was so kind and with no scoffing brought a whole new piece even though we said we just wanted the existing one to be cooked a little longer.

The boys were all about steak frites. The rib-eye in France is the Entrecote cut
He managed to eat his dessert. He was so pleased there were about 5 photos of this on my iPhone. Alas, this is the best one.
Mousse au chocolat -- desserts and food ... the gateway to kids speaking French ;)
Second day and second lunch in Paris was over in the Latin Quarter before our visit to Nortre Dame. I don't know how we were still eating though The Kid claims he would still go back and eat his way through Paris. Mrs. B. says she still is not hungry (I left her 3 days ago, so that's saying something, ha!)

My boeuf bourguignon -- perfect for the rainy day we were having

Mrs. B's pate plate - perfect with a small bowl of soup

The ever important espresso. Look at the creme on that thing! Kept us going a while longer.

produce of a small Vietnamese market

produce detail

Don't be fooled by the cuteness of this penguin. This jar of Nutella was the size of my Kid's head.

Roasting chickens and potatoes and tasty tasty things

Yeah, that's a pig
Last supper at the Pub with my dear friends.

I promised my husband I'd have one beer for him at a pub while he was holding down the fort at home.

Fish and Chips with smooshy? peas -- interesting.


Whoa, Mr. B's fancy pie. I'm obsessed with meat pies right now.
There was so much more to feast on both literally and visually. We had an amazing dim sum with the Family. The Kid says, they always know the places to go as he was talking about the soup dumplings with his Dad, but I did not take any photos. There were so many things I wish I could share (scotch eggs!) but this is the best visually I've got to share.

Thanks for coming by. :)

Monday, April 6, 2015

Spring Break Post: The Knit Version

Yes, you all guessed correctly. I made my way for the first time to England.

We went to see our friends Mrs. B and family. Our sons are very good friends (like us) and Mr. B. is just the best. Actually, I pretty much adore all of Mrs. B's family and managed to see her 2 sisters and Mom as well! But I'll get to that bit in a later post.

I was going through my zillion of iPhone photos and thought I would put together a post that sort of depicts how my love of knitting was captured during my holiday.

Saturday, Mrs. B. secured tickets to the Harry Potter Experience/Studio Tour. I know many of you are big fans like me and The Kid. This experience will not disappoint. This was the beginning of my knitting pics. I am not sharing anymore pics of this place, because I don't want to ruin it for anyone. I know there are pictures out there, and I do believe whether you go next week or in 10 years it will still be magic for you, but the more you get to experience on your own ... the more special I think it will be. (am I just being a dork?)

 I wanted to start with Neville Longbottom's infamous Fair Isle sweater, but I can't find it right now, drat! But ah, Ron's Weasley garter patch quilt! It inspires scrap knitters everywhere!

A little blurry, but you can see how some of the squares are color blocks in themselves.

This activated the Mrs. Weasley's magic knitting needles
Magic needles in motion
Sunday we went to the British Museum and walked around town and saw lots of sites. Shaun the Sheep has a movie out, and there are a number of Shaun's throughout town decorated in various themes that are being used to raise funds for charity.
I can't remember but I think this was a Cath Kidston
Next up on Monday was The London Tower. I thought this place was fantastic. So much history! It still has soldiers residing here while it's open to the public. The gentlemen below were part of some reenactment entertainment. Before their performance, they were talking with us sort of explaining their roles in history. I think they were a little thrown off when I was taking snaps of their socks.

It's a baby roll brim chunky knit hat on a soldier! It almost looks like a helmet, non?

Knit socks in orange
Tuesday we made our way to the Churchill War Rooms. I was pretty excited about seeing some underground top secret working head quarters. Notice the yarn in the map supply box. It was used to pin lines on the maps.

What? It's a yarn reference in Churchill's War Rooms!

War time projects: He cleans his gun and why of course, she knits ...
"Herbert, stop humming, I'm counting stitches!"

I couldn't tell what it is, sorry my picture is not better, but I'm going with a sock.
There were even knits in the gift shop ...
Replica WWII Watch cap ... for non knitters

Matching War Era scarves

Scarf detail in gray
After the War Rooms a walk along the South Bank allowed us a quick run into a book store to pick a book up for The Kid. He's devouring books by this author. I ran into some crochet rainbow bunnies, just in time for Easter. Cute and inspiring for you stuffie makers.

Rainbows + Egg Shaped Bunnies = Smiles

My friends were laughing at me for pointing out knitted and yarny things everywhere. Everything from people's knit caps to their cabled cardigans and baby blankets on the underground. But that is what us knitters do. I didn't go to any yarn shops, there wasn't time and really, it wasn't that kind of trip. But you see, my eyes were open. I hope you have all been enjoying the yarn home and/or out and about.

Wishing you all well!