Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Stunned at my sudden bravery

Apparently knitting the Great Gray Thing has given me courage like no other knitting project. I'm midway through a lovely worsted-weight lace project, which you can see more about over at Ravelry, but not here (yet); I cast on for a sock with only an approximation of what I was going to do with it (and it's worked); and I've a sudden urge to knit something from Rowan.

Yes, you heard me. Rowan. Which, aside from knitting a Debbie Bliss pattern in black yarn on 2mm needles is the kind of thing I'm most afraid of when it comes to knitting. The idea of knitting a Rowan sweater normally sounds to me like 1800 yards of pure torture. But for some reason it sounds like the perfect winter knitting.

First I need to finish the lace and the sock, and then I'm going to buzz through a giant garter-stitch scarf (because I've decided that a 14 or 15" wide scarf makes the garter stitch new again), and THEN I'm going to get my grubby, lanolin-covered paws on the Rowan PureLife Autumn brochure, and make a large cabled sweater.

I am not a sweater-knitter. We'll see if I actually do it.

In the meantime, in addition to everything else in my life, I'm thankful for warm wool socks and that I have all the yarn I can knit. Happy Thanksgiving to you, knitters. :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

In Which The Great Gray Thing Is Finished

Knitters, this is my first-ever Elizabeth Zimmerman project.

(crickets chirping)

Yes. Yes it is. I don't know how in the world I've managed to be a borderline-obsessive knitter for the past six years and not complete a single one of her patterns. I *love* Elizabeth's writing. I *love* it when I see someone's finished project. Why haven't I done one of my own? I have no idea.

But I have now.

This...THIS is the Great Gray Thing.

The Great Gray Thing

This is five skeins of 220 Tweed wool, knit with #10 needles through fall football games and movies, through a few episodes of Lie To Me and The Walking Dead, through reading several books on my iPad's Kindle app.

This is 39,000 stitches. This, dearies, is the July (Pi) Shawl, where I increased up to 576 stitches with a faux-increase round every 6 rows, then added five repeats of gullwing lace, then did EZ's sideways 8-stitch applied i-cord-ish border. For most of October and November, my stitches were bunched up on the biggest Addi circular I had, and I knit blindly, having absolutely no idea what the finished product was going to be.

This is it stretched out.

Stretched Out

This is the reason I knit.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


I've been sniffly, sneezy, sleepy, and a little bit achy lately, so last night it was time to make a pot of soup. The recipe is mellow, flavorful, comforting, and good enough to share; it owes a nod to this recipe (Deborah Madison, not Julia Child).

Fall soup

Potato Leek Soup With Chicken
makes about 6 good-sized bowls

1.5 pounds potatoes - either Yukon Gold or red potatoes will work
1.5 pounds leeks (remember to figure in that you won't be using the stalks...this is about 3 good-sized leeks)
1 rotisserie chicken, skinned and shredded
2 medium carrots
2 quarts organic free-range chicken broth (because I said so)
2 tbsp organic butter
a bit of heavy cream
2 bay leaves
black pepper

Rinse and slice the leeks and potatoes into 1/4" pieces (cut the leeks lengthwise, then slice them up, and cut a 3" potato into quarters, then slice). Peel and slice the carrots into 1/4" slices. If you're not familiar with leeks, you can use anything that's light green or white. The dark bits tend toward bitterness.

In a 6 qt dutch oven or other heavy pan suitable for soup, melt 2 tbsp butter on medium heat. Add the leeks and potatoes (this will look like a lot, but don't worry!), stir with a wooden spoon, and cover. Leave them alone for 10 minutes while you shred the chicken.

Remove the skin from the chicken, take the meat off the bones, and shred it with a fork. Use all of the white meat and add a bit of the thigh if you want for some more flavor (about 2-3 cups of shredded chicken). Save the drumsticks for a snack later. Once it's shredded, give it a rough chop with a kitchen knife to make manageable pieces. Set aside.

Stir your leeks and potatoes. Some sort of carmelizey happiness will be happening in the pot, just stir it up. Add the broth and scrub a little at the bottom of the pot with your spoon to sort of faux-deglaze it. Add 2 tsp pepper and 2 tsp salt (this recipe takes a lot of salt, and you'll probably salt it again). Cover the pot again, leave the heat on medium, and go away for 10 minutes.

Give the pot another stir, add the chicken and bay leaves, turn the heat to low, and cook for 45 minutes. Then fish out the bay leaves and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Serve it up and stir in a little bit of cream if you want - it's good both ways.