Sunday, February 22, 2009

My So Called Purple Scarf

It was time for a new scarf, the last one I made for myself dates to 2003. I picked this yarn to match my koolhaas hat, though the shades of purple aren't an exact match. Its called Manos Del Uruguay, and I've used it for scarves before. It creates a soft yet dense fabric. It's hand dyed and the solid colors usually have a nice variety of varigation. This yarn was intentionally a varigated purple. I used two skeins and the scarf ended up being 4 inches wide by 80 inches long.
The pattern is called My So Called Scarf. The interesting texture of the scarf is created by slipping stitches and creating new ones on each round. I followed some modifications mentioned by others that made the first row of the pattern easier for me. On the right siae K1, * slip one as if to purl, K1, yarn over, then pass the slipped stitch over the K and yo stitches. Repeat from * until one stitch remains, K1. I also took others advice for finishing the scarf. Some had mentioned trouble binding off but someone suggested working on the wrong side, purling two together, then another two together, then passing the far right stitch over the second stitch to bind off. This worked well for me, creating an even edge.
I'll be wearing it tomorrow in the freshly fallen snow.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Mauve Yoke Cardigan

I came across this pattern (#22 Garter Yoke Cardigan) while browsing through Ravelry looking for my next sweater. I really wanted to knit something top down because I liked how I could try on my vest as it went and that there was little seaming to do. The pattern was in a magazine called Knit.1 in the winter edition. I couldn't find it at local yarn stores or bookstores so I ended up ordering the magazine from the publisher just for this pattern. Luckily, there are a few other top down yoke sweater I might try in there as well.

I started this sweater on February 8th and worked on it exclusively rather than bouncing between projects. In my better moments with the flu I was able to do some of it as well. I finished knitting it on the 19th and blocked it and sewed on the buttons on the 20th.
I modified the arms some because after knitting the first one, the sleeve was much too baggy around my wrist. I picked up 4 stitches under the arm to close the gaps. I decreased 1 st ever 5th row 4 times until back to original number of stitches. After 6” (at the elbow) began decreasing as follows. K to 3 before marker at line from underarm. SSK, K, slip marker, K, K2tog. K 3 rounds, then repeat decrease. I did nine decrease rounds. Then I knit to finish out the 15 1/2 inches as called for in the pattern, finishing with P 1 row, K 1 row, repeated 4 times.

I finished off the sweater with these beautiful buttons that matched wonderfully. I like this sweater a lot. I think I may make one in another color in the future.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Chocolate Souffles

We celebrated Valentine's Day last night since I had the flu last weekend. All our recipes came from the internet. We made Shrimp Bisque from The Gracious Bowl. We halved their recipe since we had just under a pound of shrimp in the freezer. It was very good and we have plenty of leftovers.

We knew we wanted a chocolate dessert and after seeing Chocolate Souffles on the Minimalist last week we decided to give them a try. We assembled them before we made the soup, but we were puzzled in trying to find a container to bake them in. I'd assumed our ramekins would work, but the recipe said they needed to hold two-cups and ours only hold one cup. I could imagine souffle rising to overflow the sides and making a huge mess in the oven. We looked at our onion soup bowls, but those were too big. Finally we realized that we had plenty of pint wide-mouth canning jars. They were exactly two cups in volume and had great straight sides to support the rise of the souffle. My husband buttered them and coated them with sugar. We made the souffle batter and divided it between the two jars. The clear glass made it rather nice, you could see how evenly you were dividing the batter. The swirls of batter and the sugared glass was pretty as well.
We refrigerated them until we were finishing up dinner preparations. Then we let them sit at room temperature for a while before baking. They came out of the oven after 20 minutes having risen half way in the remaining space of the jar. They were wonderfully gooey in the middle and light on the outside and a great treat to end the evening.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Rye Bagels

This week is the school's February Vacation. I spent the first part of the week recovering from the flu and a cough, but now I'm making up for it with plenty of baking and crafts.

Today's endeavor was bagels. I'd followed the basic recipe for bagels from my bread book (Ultimate Bread) once before back in 2002. This time I wanted to change it up a bit to add more flavor so that the bagels didn't just taste like boiled bread. I decided to add whole wheat and rye flour to the recipe as well as caraway seeds in the dough to make rye bagels. I also learned from my cracker making a few weeks ago, that an egg wash does wonders to help toppings adhere. So I used an egg wash to add the sesame and poppy seeds to the top of the bagels.

The bagels turned out well, chewy outside, soft inside and with a pronounced rye and caraway flavor and my poppy seeds stayed firmly on top the bagel.
Rye Bagels

2 tsp dry yeast
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 1/4 cups water (divided)
1 cup rye flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour, plus extra for kneeding
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp caraway seeds
1 egg, beaten
poppy seeds
sesame seeds

Makes 8 bagels

Sprinkle yeast and sugar into 1/2 cup of warm water. Let sit for 5 minutes. Meanwhile in a large bowl mix the flours, salt, and caraway seeds. Make a well at the center of the flours.

After yeast has rested for 5 minutes, stir to dissolve it. Pour dissolved yeast into center of flours. Pour 1/2 cup additional water into the flours. Mix into the flour. Stir in remaining 1/4 cup water, as needed to form a firm and moist dough.

Turn dough out on a floured surface and kneed the dough until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. As you work the dough, add as much additional flour as you can kneed in, the dough should be firm and stiff.

Put the dough in a lightly oiled boil, turn to coat with oil, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for 1 hour until doubled in size. Punch down and let rest for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425 * F. After the dough has rested 10 minutes, divide dough in to 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Use your thumb to poke a hole in the center of the ball and then move your finger around inside the hole to widen it to about 1/3 of the bagel's diameter. Place the bagels on a cookie sheet, cover, and let rest for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare a large pot of water and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. After bagels have rested 10 minutes, use a a slotted spoon to lower bagels into the water, two or three at at time. Cook for about a minute, turning once until they rise above to the surface. Drain bagels and place on lightly greased baking sheet or un-greased silicon mat.

Brush bagels with the beaten egg. Sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes until golden. Cool on a wire rack.
Slice and enjoy with cream cheese or butter.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Green Shalom Cardigan

I finished knitting the Shalom Cardigan for my mom last night. Tonight I added the buttons, wove in ends and blocked it. It took just over a week to make. The Lion Brand Chunky Wool-Ease that I used was stiffer than the yarn I used for the last shalom cardigan. I don't think that subtracts from the sweater though. If you are a knitter, you can see the modifications I made on Ravelry. Tomorrow it will be in the mail on its way to my mom.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Olive Oil & Rosemary Crackers

A few years ago, I babysat for some friends of mine so they could go out for an anniversary dinner. They told me to help myself to dinner, and introduced me to some wonderful rosemary crackers. I had one or two and had to heartily restrain myself from eating the whole box. They were amazing. I looked for the brand and crackers and found a box or two but soon the brand seemed to stop making the rosemary variety. I've settled into buying the multi seed version instead, always craving the wonderful rosemary crackers.

Lately, I've contemplated making crackers of my own since the multi seeded variety are rather expensive per box. I was further spurred on to do so by this week's Minimalist column. The version in the column was a cream and Parmesan variety, but Mark Bittman always encourages innovation. I knew my variety would include olive oil and rosemary. Here is my version.

Olive Oil and Rosemary Crackers

3/4 cup white flour
1/4 cup wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
less than 1/4 cup water
coarse salt
dried rosemary

Preheat oven to 400 *F.
Combine flour, salt in food processor and pulse a few times to mix. Add the olive oil, and begin mixing again. Slowly add the water until the dough is smooth but not sticky. If the dough gets sticky, add a bit more flour to even out the dough.

Transfer the dough to a floured surface, or a silicon baking mat. Roll out until 1/4 inch thin. If not using a baking mat, transfer to a floured or parchment-lined baking sheet. Otherwise, move silicon baking mat onto a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and rosemary. Score with pizza cutter.

Bake 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Let cool on a rack.

Next time I may try adding an egg white wash to help the rosemary stick better. Or I may add some rosemary to the flour mixture so that it is incorporated into the dough. I'm also curious how long they will stay fresh, though we consumed many of them already today. As you can see, we even ate a few before the picture was taken.
Update: We made two more batches of these on Sunday. I added rosemary to the dough and brushed it with an egg white wash before baking one batch. The rosemary stuck better. For the second batch I brushed it with the egg white wash and sprinkled it with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and caraway seeds. The egg white wash kept the seeds well attached.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Works in Progress

After finishing my Boatneck Sweater last week, the only knitting project I had on needles was this scarf, called My So Called Scarf.I am past the half way point on it, but it not as exciting as something new. I quickly knit a hat for someone, but that only took two days. In November and December it became the norm for me to have two or three projects going at the same time. So with just a scarf, I was becoming antsy to start something new. My mom asked me to knit her a Shalom cardigan and I found some yarn for it on Sunday, but I didn't have her measurements and I wanted to cast on.

So I used a Christmas present, Sensational Knitted Socks, to pick out a pattern and cast on another pair of socks for myself.
Just as I got those started, my mom sent her measurements and I was able to start on her sweater. The sweater has taken precedence over the past few days and here is my progress.
There are no snow days in the forecast for this week, so it may be a week or two before I finish it. In the mean time I'll work on the sweater at home and the other two projects are a good size for when I'm on the go.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Boatneck Sweater Finished!

Thanks to a snow day last Wednesday, I finished my boatneck sweater. I almost thought I wouldn't make it because as I knit the sleeves, I misread the decreases at the top. As I finished the second sleeve, I was glancing over the pattern and realized my mistake. So I had to tear out the tops of both sleeves and do that section again. Sewing the sleeves in was a little intimidating since it was my first time, but they came out fine.
I am very happy with my first full sweater and I wore it to school the next day. These photos are after a day of wear, and it was comfortable and held up well.
I started this sweater back on October 18, 2008. I finished it on January 29, 2009. That's a long time in progress, though in the mean time I knit one scarf, three pairs of socks, one baby sweater, eleven pairs of mitten ornaments, two hats, two felted bowls and one cardigan. I guess it would have gone faster if I could stick to one project. Now I wonder if I can possibly knit another sweater before winter is over.

Here are the previous posts about this sweater:
Boatneck Sweater Progress Update
Boatneck Sweater 1