January 9, 2008

I can’t get this fabric out of my head. It keeps trying to design my living room-to-be. It tells me that it will be OK to paint most of the walls navy as long as I put up dentil molding and paint it white. And a copious number of white shelves. And turn a wall or two into a mural, or even wallpaper them with something coordinating and light in color. It has some crazy ideas and keeps making me tell people. As a result, everyone keeps trying to help me design the first real place that will be mine, fearing that I’m going to make some monstrously bad design decisions . . .

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In Defense of Plant Hangers

January 8, 2008

Plant hangers

People who think of macramé as nothing but plant holders probably don’t quite understand my fascination with it. Even the handful of people I’ve come across recently with some macramé background largely stuck to really basic jewelry and bags.

I’ve started the second exercise in my book, which is another double knot pattern. This one is a little more structurally complex than the first, but I’m not lost yet.

Double Knot Project Number 2

If I say that’s not cat hair on the sheets will you buy it?

I’m kind of excited to move on to the hitch knot lesson next, since it’s hitch knots that seem to me, at least as a beginner, to allow you to add a lot more fluidity to your work. If you really know what you’re doing you can create things like this:

Malenco, 2003

Earthcrust: Malenco, 2003 by Ed Bing Lee


Earthcrust: Tasmania by Ed Bing Lee

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Sometimes I Do What I Say I Will

January 4, 2008

I’m still deciding which pottery classes I should take.  Right now, this one at the Clay Art Center is winning.  The fact that it’s a 12 session class makes it a strong contender.   I’ll also admit that I’m still intimidated by picking out a loom and a spinning wheel.  And I haven’t even really given much thought to Japanese yet.  But I have started a second item on my to learn list:

Double Knot Practice

Starting at the beginning.

Since my mother remembers nothing of her macrame days, a couple weeks ago I finally cracked and bought a book:

The Macrame Book by Helene Bress

Even though I hate reading directions, I decided I would approach macramé methodically. The book recommends using sophisticated things like “project boards,” but I decided that since Sivvie the Cat has already decided that my mattress is a scratching post, it might as well be a project board, too. Halfway through learning overhand knots, I decided it was time to start with the first project. The book refers to it as a belt, but mine wasn’t really appropriate for much more than a headband.

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January 3, 2008

A Little Late Luck

Does this mean my luck will come lately, if at all?

I’ve heard it’s lucky to have black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day, but I never managed to get my act together enough to make them on time. This year is no exception, although I did manage to buy the black-eyed peas and similarly contemplated making something with them on New Year’s Day. Perhaps that will be good enough. Last night they went to good use, though. I formed them into tasty, albeit a tad spicy, black-eyed pea patties.

Black-Eyed Pea Patties (Makes 8 Patties)

* Preheat oven to 350° F.

* Combine:

1 can (15 oz.) black-eyed peas, rinsed and mashed

¾ c. quinoa flakes

¼ c. pecans, ground into a paste

¼ c. vegetable broth (this amount is approximate – you want the “dough” just firm enough to hold together)

1 tsp. amchoor powder

½ tsp. garam masala

½ tsp. black pepper

½ tsp. Hungarian hot paprika

½ tsp. salt

* Smoosh mixture together into patties 2″ x 2″ x ¼” and place on non-stick cookie sheet.

* Drizzle with olive or canola oil or spray with cooking spray.

* Bake for 20 minutes, turning the patties over at ten minutes.

Next time I make these, I think I might cut back on the paprika. Or use standard paprika. I like spicy food, but I think I really didn’t want these patties to be that spicy. Particularly as I served them with a couple of healthy dollops of hot, store bought mango chutney. Thank goodness for the chanterelle “calamari,” as they were the only thing that added a little calm to my dinner last night.

New Year’s Day is also the time for resolutions.  I do not make any regarding organization, finances, people, weight loss or even quitting smoking (when that was applicable). I may be ambivalent about whether or not I should make general dietary changes, though. It would explain why I bought the ingredients to make smoothies, but have instead discovered that if you mix equal parts Vegenaise and peanut butter with a hit of wasabi paste or powder you end up with something revoltingly and embarrassingly delicious. For the most part, what I do make are “knowledge” resolutions. I thought that it would be fun to list them here so I can get a good chuckle at the end of the year when I’ve made virtually no headway:

  1. Learn how to play chess.
  2. Learn Japanese.
  3. Refresh my French. I’m really hoping I can save up enough for a visit this year.
  4. Learn macramé. For real this time. I know I claimed I was working on this months ago, but it took several times for crochet to stick.
  5. Learn how to read crochet patterns.
  6. Take one ballroom dancing class.
  7. Take pottery throwing classes.
  8. Learn 12 new knitting tricks or techniques. (This includes alternative cast-on methods that I must put into practice . . . it’s quite sad that I still insist on using the long tail method despite the fact that I have a fondness for lace knitting. The two do not mesh well.)
  9. Purchase a loom and spinning wheel. Weaving and spinning are from last year’s list. Sadly, my finances and desire to learn how to do both on fancy equipment were not in sync last year. This year looks more promising. At the very least, I will get a Nifty Knitter and a spindle. A five-year-old could afford these on a modern allowance, so I should be able to, too.
  10. Read a book a week. If this means that I have to buy one of those machines made for paralyzed people that requires you to puff into it to make it turn pages, so be it. I should probably be humiliated that a friend recommended that I do this, but at least he understands how knitting complicates my reading life.

What To Set Out for Santa

December 25, 2007

I might be suffering from technical difficulties.  I am woefully unaccustomed to Internet Explorer.  I had thought I was linking to my pictures,  but it seems I am not and, frankly I’m tired.  After knitting late until the wee hours of the morning (not necessarily a bad thing as I finally got to see The Science of Sleep, which I had wanted to see in the theaters but every time I tried to see it was sadly sold out so I gave up) and still finding myself miles away from where I should be, I am exhausted.

But I took a break to make some cookies and prep some more chocolate gingerbread for Christmas.  The oven will largely be occupied by a turkey most of tomorrow, unfortunately, so I definitely had to get dessert out of the way. I’m quite glad with how the cookies turned out.  These were the Cranberry-Pistachio Cookies I was tinkering with last weekend (was it really only a week ago?).  They’re a little more cakey than the first version and quite tasty.  Despite the fact that my mother had just slandered all vegan baked goods as “dry” (not just mine, Native Foods’s carrot cake was caught up in the broad sweep), she seemed to have no problem choking down a few all the while offering advice — this might be the appropriate time to point out that my mother has never baked a cookie that didn’t come from a package in her life.

Pistachio Cranberry Cookies (Makes 16)

* Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Sift together: 

1.5 c. sorghum flour

1/2 c. chickpea flour

2 tsp. xanthan gum

1 tsp. baking powder

Cream together:

1/2 c. Earth Balance

1/4 c. + 1 tbsp. non-hydrogenated shortening

1 1/2 c. brown sugar

* Then add

1 tbsp. lemon zest

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. almond extract

1/8 c. soymilk

* Add dry ingredients to the wet, plus:

1 c. dried cranberries

1 c. shelled pistachios

* Combine well.  Uncooked dough should be able to hold shape when pressed together.  If it does not, you might need to add a splash more liquid.

* Roll dough into balls containing approximately 1 tbsp. worth of dough.  Flatten on the cookie sheet and cook for 10-12 minutes.

I’m actually a little sad I can’t show the progress of my Christmas gifts as I’ve been working my tail off and yet still seem to be getting nowhere  (but there is always my flickr stream for the curious until I’m able to get things working on this end).  I think I’ve been crafting into a black hole.  It’s possible I’d be a little further along if my mother would leave me alone long enough for me to finish her gift, but she can’t because she’s a little obsessed with my company.