Posts Tagged ‘Ravelympics’

As you can see, I’ve updated my recipe ticker to reflect the 4 recipes I’ve made.  But more about that in the In The Kitchen section.  The Olympics and Ravelympics are over.  I’m both relieved to have the deadline met and behind me, but my knitting is feeling a bit aimless these days.  I’ve already knit a pair of slippers since Closing Ceremonies and I have a shawl I could work on, but without the entertainment of the games and the pressure of a deadline, well, it just isn’t the same.  I did have a good time making the slippers though.  =)  They are the Bunny Hop Slippers from Craft Magazine.  Mine aren’t pink bunnies though, as you can see.  I couldn’t find a pink chunky yarn that I really liked.  The colors just weren’t right.  So, I bought some green Plymouth Galway Chunky and then dyed up some fiber in some coordinating (I hoped) green dyes and decided to go for it.  Where is the green dyed fiber?  Why, inside!  They’re called thrums and you knit them in as you knit the slipper.  They add for extra cushion and extra warmth.  I’ve tried them on several times and they are definitely cushy and they immediately began warming up my cold toes.  I haven’t actually worn them around the house.  They’re still too new.  =)  These slippers knit up super fast and probably cost $13 to make with $12 being the cost of the yarn.  The buttons were cheap buttons from JoAnn’s and the thrums were cheap wool bought from The Sheep Shed Studio.   So, the project was fun and cost effective!

In The Kitchen

I’ve been cooking in the kitchen again.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get photos of two of the recipes I made.  The first recipe was called Hutspot.  It is a dish from Holland and seems like it is a basic “boiled dinner.”  The recipe says you can either use boneless beef chuck or venison round steak for the meat and I chose to use beef.  If my brother was somewhere nearby, I might have chosen to use venison since he hunts and does a fabulous job preparing deer.  I simmered the beef for about 2 hours in 2 cups of water.  Then added potatoes, carrots, and onion.  When everything is fully cooked, you remove the meat and mash the vegetables with milk and butter.  It was a warm, filling meal, but not as flavorful as we’re used to eating.  With this dinner, I also made Au Gratin Cabbage.  This was a perfect way to use up leftover cabbage from the borscht.  Again, it wasn’t the most flavorful dish, but it did use up the cabbage and some carrots (add some milk, egg, and cheese).  The milk and egg mixture seemed to settle to the bottom, but the cheese stayed on top and was a nice addition to the dish.

So, that was last week.  This week, I made Black Bean Sweet Potato Burritos and Apple Carrot Salad.  The burritos involved dicing up 3 cups worth of sweet potatoes and some onion.  After that, it was super easy.  You add black beans and then wrap the mixture up in tortillas and bake for 20-25 minutes.   Spices included cumin and cinnamon, so there is the flavor we were missing last week!  The Apple Carrot Salad is made up of shredded apples and carrots (of course) and mixed in a dressing of honey, lemon and orange juice.  You also add some shredded mint and raisins.  Again, a more flavorful dish than last week.  The fruit salad definitely balances out the more heavy burritos and is a wonderful salad for a rather dreary day.  The lemon and orange juice tastes like pure sunshine!

Out to the Garden

The worms are doing well.  We had a bit of difficulty figuring out how much moisture they needed.  I think the bedding gets dryer here faster than we were expecting.  We added some water to their bedding last night and they are definitely more active today!  I went down to the Worm Bin after making supper this evening to add the carrot and apple scraps (more moisture) and there was plenty of movement in the bedding.

Books, Books, Books

I quickly wanted to mention a website I joined late last year.  Goodreads is a place to keep track of the books you’ve read, books in your library, books you’d like to read as well as a place to meet people with similar reading tastes and to join reading groups to discuss books you’ve read or are reading.  I’m currently reading “Persuasion” by Jane Austen (with CraftLit) and am still reading “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall” by Anne Bronte for a reading group I’m participating in.  You can participate in discussions and the social aspect of Goodreads as much or as little as you’d like.  Go take a look.

In the Dye Pot

Nothing is in the dye pot yet, but I need to get started on my fiber for my dye exchange which is coming up this month.  I’ve already got my fiber and my dyes, just need to get started.  Hopefully I’ll have an update for that in my next post!


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I’ve crossed the finish line for the Sweaterboard Cross in the Ravelympics. Yay! Here is my finished Slinky Ribs sweater drying on the blocking board.  Whew!  It feels really good to have one event out of the way.  Now to concentrate on the Fleece-to-Finished-Object event/Sock Hockey.  Here is the finished yarn I spun.  Pretty, no?  I’ve already started knitting up the socks in one of my favorite patterns.  I just have the toe left to knit on the first sock and then I’ll immediately cast on the second sock.  Pictures when those are completed.

Of course, no blocking project would be complete without the requisite deposit of cat hairs.  Sophie has decided to be the contributing cat on this one.   I spent most of the afternoon chasing Pumpkin off the sweater and then, in the evening, somehow Sophie managed to sneak up there.  Sigh.  Oh well.  What’s a few cat hairs among friends, right?

In The Garden

The worms for our worm bin arrived yesterday.  Yes, they came through the USPS.  Here they are still in their box and bag.  I had already prepared the bedding in the worm bin since I had been notified they’d were on their way.  The bedding is coconut coir, soaked in water and excess water squeezed out.  I then added a couple of handfuls of dirt from our yard so the worms would have some grit to help them process their food.  I also added a small bunch of potato peels buried in one corner so they’d have a snack if they were hungry.  Then, I introduced the worms to their new home.  In other words, I dumped them in!   Yep, that’s a pile of worms you see there.

I spread out the worms, breaking up any clumps as I found them, and settled down to watch them as they began digging their way down into the new bedding.  After watching for about 10 minutes or so, most had disappeared.  I put the lid on the bin, turned off the light, and left them to their new house.  It will probably take them a few weeks to recover from the traumatic journey to this new land, but eventually they’ll settle in and begin eating my vegetable scraps and getting on with making me some lovely compost/fertilizer for my garden.

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We’re in the last week of the Ravelympics and, as the title of the post says, exhaustion is setting in.  Actually, I might be tired because I stayed up too late and have just completed 2-1/2 hours (count them, two  and  a  half  hours!) of plying my sock-weight yarn for the Ravelympics.  I’m pleased to announce that said yarn, all 625 yards of it, is in the hot tub taking a nice soak and preparing for its final event, sock knitting.  =)  Oddly enough, a soak in a nice warm, sudsy, tub of water is sounding pretty good to me too at the moment.  I’m sure that the picture of the yarn still on the plying bobbin is out of focus due to overly tired hands and that those hands would benefit from bubble bath therapy.

In The Kitchen

Another two recipes have been cooked from Simply In Season.  Last night I felt like having breakfast for supper, so I whipped up the Nutty Sweet Potato Waffles and Sausage and Apples.  Now, I don’t have a waffle iron and I refuse to get one on the basis of it having only one function and it seems silly to take up precious kitchen space with an appliance that only does one thing and won’t be used that often.  If I could find one that doubles as a griddle, I might be tempted to buy it.  My mom has one like that and I’m holding out for one like hers.  Where was I….oh yeah.  So, no waffle iron means no waffles so I made them into pancakes instead.  The recipe was HUGE and the pancakes were filled with all kinds of healthy ingredients:  mashed sweet potatoes, ground hazelnuts (yum!!), ground old-fashioned oats, whole wheat flour, etc.  They were heavier than typical pancakes but perfect for supper.  The flavor of the hazelnuts really came through and reminded me of Nutella, which might be a nice addition to these pancakes (just a little smear on top).  The Sausage and Apples was a really simple recipe and combined the flavors of apples, sausage, onions, a wee bit of Dijon mustard, and basil.  The combination of apple and basil was a bit unexpected, but good.  Leftover pancakes went into the freezer for breakfast on another date.  There wasn’t a lot of the Sausage and Apples left over, so those will be eaten as a side dish at another meal.  I’d make both recipes again, but maybe cut the waffle recipe in half so we don’t have so many leftovers.

Books, Books, Books

I just finished listening to A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens last night.  I’ve been listening to the CraftLit podcast for a few years, but avoided listening to A Tale of Two Cities until last year.  It sounded so boring and, come on, Charles Dickens?  There were so many other authors out there that I’d much rather read.  But then there were so many comments in CraftLit and in the CraftLit forum on Ravelry about “What would Madame Defarge knit?” that I finally gave in and decided I’d have to listen to A Tale of Two Cities so I’d know what everyone was talking about.  I started by occasionally listening to a chapter or two here and there, whenever I had caught up on the other podcasts.  Then, in the second half of the book, it became a regular listen.  Towards the end of the book, it became an obsession and I’d listen for 2-3 hours a day until it was done.  Now, here’s my question:  Why did no one ever explain about Charles Dickens?!  The book is brilliant!  It’s one of those stories that will probably haunt me for weeks and I’ll definitely remember it for the rest of my life.  I was talking to The Husband last night about it and complaining that no one had told me that Charles Dickens was such an incredible writer and, wow, who knew that A Tale of Two Cities was so awesome?  He replied, “Well, that is why it’s called a classic.”  Sigh.

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In the Kitchen

There was a lot going on this week, so only one new recipe from Simply in Season:  Marrakesh Lamb Stew.  I served this with couscous and apple and carrot slices.  So, overall, a fairly healthy meal I think.  The stew was incredibly fragrant with lamb (bought at a small local green grocer), onion, garlic, and lots of spices.  The full teaspoon of ground cloves was particularly pungent.  One could also smell the cinnamon, cumin, and turmeric.  There were plenty of vegetables in the stew to make it hearty and the addition of raisins and prunes rounded out the flavors with their sweetness.  I would definitely make this dish again, maybe reducing the amount of ground cloves just a bit.  The tart apple slices were a nice contrast to the heavier flavors of the stew.

With this dish made, it’s time to go get more groceries.  I’ve planned several menus for the next week or so.  I’m really enjoying the structure that this little project is giving to my menu-planning.  It appears that there are 49 recipes for the Winter Season section of the cookbook and I’ve only made 5 so far.  Time to get cooking!

Ravelympics Update

Just a quick update on my Ravelympics projects.  The sweater only has about 3-4 inches to go before the body of the sweater is completed.  Yay!  I’ll knit the sleeves next and then some trim around the neckline.  The sleeves might be a bit tricky as they are capped sleeves and incorporate short rows for the shaping.  It shouldn’t be too bad though.  In the spinning department.  I have my first bobbin full and am about halfway through the second bobbin.  Once I have all 3 bobbins filled, I’ll have to ply the yarn, set it, and then I’ll have a pair of socks to knit yet!  So, I’m a bit behind on the spinning.  I’ll need to spin a lot this weekend if I’m to catch up.

Out to the Garden

Okay, it might be a bit early to actually go out to the garden, especially as it was snowing this morning.  But the garden is definitely on my mind.  Last weekend The Husband spent one afternoon raking part of the back yard for more garden space.  We’ll have to rent a rototiller to till up the dirt as soon as the weather gets warm enough.  In the meantime, I’ve been looking at seed catalogs!  As you can see, I’ve already put in an order and received several seed packets.  I love getting seeds, all that potential waiting to happen!  We’ll buy some local tomato seedlings once spring has officially sprung and probably some other seedlings for the vegetable and herb gardens.  We also ordered 3 blueberry bushes to put out in the front yard next to a particularly sunny cement wall.

Since all the seeds have different germination periods and will need to be started at different times and then transplanted out at different times, I’m thinking I may need to make a spreadsheet with all the dates of when each seed needs to be planted and transplanted.  I should also map out the garden.

I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying the Olympics (and Ravelympics too!)  I’ve really enjoyed watching the snowboarders.  They always look like they’re having so much fun!  And with that, I should probably get back to my own olympic events, knitting and spinning!

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I’ll start out by warning you that this post will be long and full of pictures.  What can I say?  There’s been a lot happening here at the homestead.   So much that I’m feeling a little dazed by the whirlwind of activity.  I’m also feeling a bit hyper, but that might be the caffeine.  So, let’s start with the Olympics.


Finally, the Olympics have begun and with them the Ravelympics.  After waiting anxiously for weeks to begin my Ravelympic projects, the opening ceremonies marked the mass cast-on for knitters and spinners (and weavers and dyers, etc) all over the world!  Wahoooooo!  I decided to start with my spinning project and spun for approximately 30 minutes before switching over to the knitting project, clearly too excited to sit with any one activity for too long.  I was, of course, expecting to hear/see the opening ceremonies as I started my projects, but NBC, for some unknown reason, decided to time delay the broadcast, so my first hour of spinning and knitting was done while listening to the pre-ceremony spiel.  That was something of a let down, but that just meant I could concentrate a bit more on my projects and could play with the other Ravelers in group chat rooms.  =)

As of tonight (Saturday night), my progress is as follows:  Spun:  Maybe an ounce of the nearly 8 ounces I need to spin.

Ravelympics Spinning

Knitting:  The top back of the sweater is knit and I’m beginning the front left and right panels.  The sweater pattern is Slinky Ribs in the Custom Knits book by Wendy Bernard.

Ravelympics Knitting

Fleece Study Group

My fleece study group met today.  This was my first time attending, so I was feeling a little shy.  Of course, I had an absolutely lovely afternoon with the women in the study group.  Silly me, feeling shy about meeting with other fiber friends!  Sarah M. was a wonderful hostess.  Thanks, Sarah, for opening up your home to us!  A couple of us scoured some fiber samples and we all compared notes on various methods of scouring.  Luli had brought numerous hand cards and combs for us to practice with and showed us how to use the combs.  Cayenne showed us how to use hand cards.  I had brought some washed Polwarth

Carded Polwarth

that I started carding and Sarah had some extra Wensleydale samples that she had scoured for us so we could practice carding that during the get together.

Washed Wensleydale Fiber

A sample of the Gotland I washed

Here are a few more pictures from the fiber study group.

Carded black Wensleydale

I have a few more pictures from the fleece study group, but I should probably ask those in the picture if they mind having their pictures on my blog.  =)  I should also mention that I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Sarah’s dog Alex!  What a sweetheart!

In The Kitchen

The culinary adventures continue as I cook and bake my way through Simply in Season.  This week I made Carrot Cookies and Hazelnut Coffee Brownies:

Carrot Cookies

Hazelnut Coffee Brownies (yes, there is a piece missing!)

and here’s what’s left of the Winter Borscht:

Winter Borscht

The Winter Borscht was a beef borscht and gets its red coloring from beets.  Cooking this was a journey back in time to my childhood.  It brought back memories of my grandma (on my dad’s side) and her house, of jars of borscht being bought at fall festival, many meals of borscht at the same fall festival and MCC sales, and, of course, meals at home.  I was not a huge fan of borscht growing up, but it tastes much better now; warm, filling, and full of memories of home and family.

So, that’s it for today.  Tomorrow is more knitting and spinning, some time out on the town with The Husband to celebrate Valentine’s Day (for me), probably the NASCAR race (for him), and more time in the kitchen.  Hope you all have a wonderful weekend and Valentine’s Day!

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I looked at the calendar this morning and realized that there’s only a week left in January 2010.  I don’t know about you, but January zipped by for me.  Good grief, before you know it, it will be time time to start putting seeds out in the garden and I’m nowhere near ready for that yet.  I haven’t even ordered any seed catalogs.  I might have to skip those this year.  I did, however, get my new worm house.  (grin)

Gusanito Worm Composter

This year we are going to try worm composting.  I had thought to try building our own worm house, but then The Husband surprised me with one of these Gusanito Worm Composters from Wormswrangler.com for Christmas.  So, we now have the house, the coconut coir (fibrous coconut husk which holds water so the worms stay moist), and dirt.  Next, we order the worms!  We’ll be ordering Red Wrigglers from somewhere in Utah so they will hopefully be used to our cold weather.  Of course, until it warms up a bit, the worms will be staying in the house in a spare bathroom in the basement.  As soon as it’s warm enough, they’ll go outside in some nice shady spot close to the door, convenient for disposal of kitchen scraps.


I’ve finished up the first installment of the Crown Mountain Farms fiber club.  It’s even plied!

AwakeningsThis picture doesn’t really give an accurate portrayal of the yarn.  In the picture it looks very pastel-ish.  In reality, there are spots in the yarn that area really quite vibrant with reds, brilliant greens, and deep purples.  I’ll try to skein up the yarn later today and see if I can get some pictures that better display the gorgeous dyeing job Klaus did.

Next on the wheel, well, I’m not sure.  I’m planning on spinning for the Ravelympics and I’m not sure I have time to get another project done before February 12th.  I’m hoping I can get another sock yarn finished so I can practice for the Ravelympics, but I don’t want to do much spinning and end up with sore hands.  Here’s the fiber I’m planning on spinning for the Ravelympics.

The fiber is from the Blue Moon Fiber Arts Sheep to Shoe kit and it is just lovely!  I can’t wait to get started spinning!

Dyeing Experiments

I finished up the dyeing experiments last week.  I was working with a couple of different dye materials for a presentation I was giving to my spinning guild on natural dyeing.  The last experiment involved dyeing with cochineal bugs.  Yep, bugs!  Shiver.  First I ground up an ounce of the bugs (which I bought while I was at SOAR from A Verb for Keeping Warm).  Then I placed the ground cochineal in a non-bleached coffee filter and tied it up in a pouch with undyed organic cotton twine.  I simmer this in a liter of water for about 20 minutes, added another 2 liters of water and some pre-soaked fiber and slowly brought the temperature up to a simmer over an hour.  I then simmered the fiber for an hour and let it sit overnight to cool.  I was able to dye several ounces of fiber from this one ounce of cochineal.  I didn’t use a mordant for the fiber an got a lovely lilac color.  I also overdyed a bit of fiber that I had tried dyeing with the elderberry and had added some alum as a mordant to see if that changed the way the elderberry solution was absorbed.  In the picture below, you can see both the fibers; the one without any mordant (lilac) and the one pre-dyed in elderberry with mordant (red).

Again, this isn’t the best picture as the pinkish fiber should really be a more lilac color.  Anyway, I have several ounces now of fiber in this color and will probably try to spin it up for a pair of socks or possibly some bunny slippers.  =)  So, my experimenting in natural dyeing is nearly done.  The only thing left to do for this year’s Fiber Exchange is to buy my 2 pounds of fiber and dye it.  So far, the plan is to buy some Earthues dye extract in logwood purple for the dyeing, but all those other colors are pretty tempting!

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It’s been a busy week this week and I’ve finally got a free afternoon to do a quick dye project.  My spinning guild has a dye exchange once a year in February and this year’s theme is natural/garden/kitchen dyeing.  Last year I tried a project I had seen on Ravelry where fiber was dyed with black beans.  I then knitted the dyed fiber up into this hat:

I brought the hat to a guild meeting and was rewarded with oohs and aahs, and an invitation to explain the dye process for the next year’s (that’d be this year now) dye exchange.  Now, if I just talked about the black bean dye project, that would take about 2 minutes.  So, I decided I should have more information to talk about and now have about 5 examples to share.  Sigh.   Anyway, I spent this afternoon prepping the fiber and mordanting it with vinegar and then preparing the dye by smashing dried and frozen elderberries (at least they looked as if they had been dried and frozen, although there was a bit of moisture content still in the berries) and then simmering them for an hour and then adding the fiber for another hour.   Here’s the fiber so far:

The fiber will sit in the dye pot overnight yet and then I’ll give it a rinse with some vinegar water and see how it turns out.

I’ve also been knitting socks this week.  I completed a pair of handspun socks out of BFL.  The fiber was dyed by Meghan from the StitchIt Podcast and is called Clematis.  Isn’t it a gorgeous purple color?

After finishing the Clematis socks, I started on some plain vanilla socks out of TOFUtsies.  The first sock is finished and I’m working on the gusset on the second sock.

The label says that the color is a limited edition Power Stripes.

So, lots of sock knitting getting done, which is a good thing because the 2010 Ravelympics are coming up and I need to get stuff off the needles so my needles are free for whatever events I’m competing in.  I’m on two teams, Team Sasquatch (a combination of podcasts:  Stitch It, The Knitmore Girls, The High Fiber Diet, and KIPing it Real) and the Manic Purl team.  The events list hasn’t been posted yet, but so far I’m thinking of competing in a spin to knit event (probable fiber to sock) and a project event.  I was thinking I would just do something easy like socks or mittens.  But then last night I was struck by the crazy idea that I might just be able to make a sweater in 2 weeks.  Nuts, right?!  Still, they suggest picking something that is a bit of challenge for you and this would definitely challenge me.  I’ve got the pattern picked out from the Custom Knits book by Wendy Bernard.  The sweater is Slinky Ribs.  It’s a short-sleeve sweater, but I think I’ll probably lengthen the sleeves to three-quarters length.  I’ve got some yarn picked out in a natural gray color from Marr Haven Wool Farm, just have to put in my order.  Woohoo!

Speaking of spinning, I’ve got the first month’s fiber from the Crown Mountain Farms fiber club.  It is a Falkland wool in a new colorway called Awakenings.  At first I didn’t like how it was spinning up as the colors were blending in what I thought was a weird way.  I decided to put it aside until the next day.  The next afternoon I started spinning again and it looked much better.  Must have been a matter of expectations.  I thought the colors wouldn’t look good if they blended, but after deciding to give it a try, it actually looks really good.  Of course, I still have to finish spinning the singles and ply it.  We’ll see how it looks plied up.

And finally, here’s what I’ve made in my kitchen this week.  I’ve made roasted Moroccan chicken, recipe made up on the spot including tomatoes, garbanzo beans, chicken (of course), salt, pepper, cinnamon, and dried apricots.  I had planned to eat this over rice, but then noticed a spaghetti squash that needed to be eaten and decided that was close enough and probably better for us.  Last night I made a sauerkraut sausage soup with onions, mushrooms, dill weed, left over turkey and turkey stock from Christmas, carrots, celery, cream of mushroom soup, etc.  Very yummy.  I’ve also made fresh bread in the bread machine twice this week (one currently baking) and made chocolate chip cookies and a coconut cranberry granola (photos below).

Whew, I’ve been busier than I thought!  Time to go rest for a bit and enjoy some leftover sauerkraut sausage soup!

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