Monday, August 30, 2010

slow knit

If slow knit was a movement I would be the leader. Well maybe not the leader because I'm not a very good knitter, let's say I would be there. I ordered my copy of More Last Minute Knitted Gifts from Purl and it is signed. I couldn't resist a signed copy because things like that make life sweeter than not. I should say my skill level is equivalent to having sewn approximately four things to completion. Two washcloths and two hats. They've turned out reasonably well. Generally while I'm knitting my husband comes over and says something like - "you know you can buy a hat for $12. Do you really like doing that?" And while annoying, it is true. Knitting as a beginner is not cheap. You need ALL KINDS of stuff. I estimate I've spent $200 at least, if you include the abandoned Habu scarf with the stainless steel yarn that I had to have. That item alone required three or four kinds of needles.

Yarn from Nido
Well, let's get back to my slow knitting. I bought the prettiest yarn when I was in Vermont. I stopped by Nido - it was beautiful. You should go because Phiona has a wonderful collection of yarn, fabric and publications.

More Last Minute Knitted Gifts - Joelle Hoverson
I selected a pattern from the book, a simple 2-4 hour project. A scarf. And well, it may be a 3-4 hour project if you have edward scissorhands. I don't. So I have knitted about 8 inches, and spent probably 8 hours (pattern calls for about 21 inches). According to the description one hank should quickly whip up 5 of these babies so my friends and I can match. And while I wish this to be true - it is simply not happening like that. I wish these visually stunning books were rated by skill, 2-4 hours for an expert, 4-8 hours for a single person who just started knitting, 8 - never for someone with two kids and no real measurable skill level. Should I decide to abandon this one too, Phiona sent me a link to a scarf that was on display using the yarn in the shop, it looks lovely. I have two hanks so I just might make this one too. Since I'm crazy and completely in denial about time and skill. That's what competitive spirit gets you. That and some new 24 inch size 6 circular needles.

accidental flavorings

outside an ice cream shop in Chestnut Hill,  September 2009

I almost forgot to mention the ice cream recipe that I made up... It is more than good. Maybe the best ice cream I've ever had. I would take a photo but it is dark and I've been hitting it too hard - so please imagine.

mildly vanilla but mostly herbal mint, lemon and thai basil ice cream.

The Base:
2 cups 1% milk
half a vanilla bean (penzeys) sliced open to free the flavor
a handful of mint
a few sprigs of thai basil
a subtle handful of lemon balm
scant 1/2 cup of sugar

The Middle:
3 egg yolks, whisked

The Finish:
1 tsp. penzeys lemon extract
1 cup table cream

Heat The Base in a saucepan on medium to medium high until the milk base bubbles prior to a boil. Take your time to allow the flavors to infuse. Pull off heat and drizzle slowly pouring into the eggs, or The Middle (I suggest pouring through a sieve or coffee filter). Dig your vanilla bean out of the infusions and scrape a little off and put it back into your mixture. Add The Finish. Pour into your ice cream maker and let good things happen. Freeze, enjoy. It won't make enough. You should probably double it.

A note, if you use table cream as I did the mixture may appear a little more ice milky than ice creamy.

the ice cream dress and three flavors

Alexander Henry Cotton Print size 3, view A, Moda Whimsy size 3: view C,  and Heather Bailey Bijoux (ice)/Anna Maria Horner Good Folks (sea) size 12-18 months: view A
Earlier this season Oliver + S hit us with a pattern called the ice cream dress. Originally done in pink, cream and chocolate it was inspired by Neopolitan ice cream, if memory serves. I've been meaning to get started on mine - and was especially motivated when I heard about the "ice cream social" on Flickr but life gets in the way, you know how it goes.

I have no idea how or why, but since Thursday I have made three. Keep in mind that these items were largely prepped because I intended to make them in Vermont (you know, when my pal delirium informed me that I could sew 7 or eight projects in 36-40 hours). Aside from some missing pocket facings and a yoke all cut items were good to go. I have a bad habit of not following through with pattern markings, but after Liesl herself gave us all a lesson in an easy way to transfer with carbon or other marking paper a la ralph lauren - I will do better. I promise.

the one that I adore - heather bailey print with anna maria horner
Now while I love all three of the pairings for different reasons, I really adore this one. I know the colors don't match exactly, but the cheerfulness of the accent print balanced by the bohemian print from Anna Maria Horner make my soul satisfied. And that's what it's all about. And yes, if you care to look at that pocket detail on the left things almost match up. That's as good as it gets people.

So here are my thoughts on the pattern - it's lovely. Go ahead and do it - it doesn't have to be for summer because you can stick a long sleeved tee under it or even make it a little heavier if you must. It is accurately rated two scissors - which I attribute to the fact that you have to read the directions to do it properly. I found the suggestion of sewing a basting stitch to use as a guide completly ingenious. It seems like a new tip and it is one that made my ironing so much easier (but calls for thread pulling later, kind of a bummer when you're ready to be done). There is only one wonky part which seems to have stumped more than one person - it is the part where the bodice meets the yoke on the back, right side. Scary.
pin like mad
I read some feedback from other sewers that feel the dress could rip at this little achilles heel. And if you worry about that I suggest adding a bit of iron on interfacing in that area. But I think it's going to be fine if you don't. Just carefully clip the bodice seam allowance perpendicular just to the seam line. Then you tuck everything under the right side yoke and pin like crazy - I backstitched where the two openings meet at the back of the dress. Everything will be alright. Really. If it isn't you can pour yourself a gin and tonic. Or maybe you should do that anyway because who knows what your kid got into while you were sewing.

Tower of Terror: as retold by a girl who has never been in it

Tower of Terror
A week ago our neighbors came home from Disney with a number of stories to tell about their adventures. One story was so successful that Mira instantly appropriated and illustrated it. The ride is called Tower of Terror, a story about a runaway elevator that results in quite a large number of casualties (I have not been on the ride but have heard the adventure recounted by the three year old about 100 times... so it must be true). The illustration above reveals some of the riders and the box in the middle is of course, the murderous elevator (a shocking story from the princess people). I was so impressed by her mad narrative story skills that I have scanned it for your viewing pleasure. Her tale of terror follows below.


It was the scary ride that went up. It went up, down and everyone throwed their tongues out. And then everyone died. Then I woke up. The ride was going to crack, and the thunder made it crack and cut off. It was cutting off - so we couldn't go there.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Modern Playtime

A few hours ago, or since yesterday when we strongly committed to getting rid of a plastic playhouse monstrosity which the neighbors "generously" bequeathed to us, rather than the dump - I began considering how we can get a kick ass new playhouse for not so much money. Even the ugly ones cost $300. A simple google image search found three divine sources of inspiration.

They are: Made by Joel
Kiddo Cabana from the Modern Cabana people
and this inspirational glass house

Here is the plan... convince the husband that he wants to make this (he just appeared unimpressed when I walked him through the above links) BEFORE next year (he seems concerned about the cold, I ignored him because it is still AUGUST). Then - make a simple playhouse possibly with a porch so we can set out some adorable kids chairs. A major plan (which I haven't mentioned to the builder) calls for excavating the slope so the house can tuck under a pine tree and be close enough to the house so I can initiate some illegal wiring (just kidding, but really the place needs a chandelier to be my kind of fancy). All of this may be more than a little impractical because really we'd rather move. But we've been saying that for about 5 years. Maybe 6. And we are still here. Fully improved in this delightful 1980's colonial on a quiet little cul-de-sac in boring ol' Mary-land.

But I just opened up a can of worms that won't stop. What about this? Holy Jebus you can't believe this stuff, can you? It's like 1982. It is. If you look at some of this stuff long enough - particularly the Made by Joel site, you might find yourself knee deep in sensations you had as a kid if you are a bicentennial babe, as I am. I can almost smell the craftiness oozing out of his paperclip furniture. The cork tree branches on the dollhouses? Friggin' genius. It must be Portland, I think the city donates a portion of creativity when you submit your property taxes. A while back all the best stuff was coming out of Australia and New Zealand, and now it is all in Portland. Time to plan a little vacation to pick up on that creativity.

One more playhouse of note, very girly.
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