What Was I Up To Recently?

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Hi yarn & stitches fans, today I feel like writing a really nerdy all arts & crafts centered post. Check out the knit dress I made for my daughter: a little in-between project that happened while I was binge-watching The Night Manager. If you found Tom Hiddleston intriguing as Avengers nemesis Loki at all, you’re definitely in for a treat – he plays the lead in this BBC mini series, and he’s incredible. Also really easy on the eyes! Hugh Laurie (another favorite Englishman) plays his adversary, the biggest baddest arms dealer you can possibly imagine, with neither scruples nor a soul. Very entertaining stuff, and great for a few hours of rows and rows of knit, knit and then knit some more. After so many years in this business, I don’t really have to look anymore when it’s a simple piece like that. Experience has its perks.

I’m not usually one to buy cheap yarn (I’m not above it, or stuck up or anything, but I hate shopping, and you only find special offers like this if you go looking, right?). So this was an impulse purchase in February while doing the weekly grocery run, in a place I don’t usually shop at. February was a bad month in terms of light, vitamin D, color … all that good stuff was severely lacking, and there was this beautifully spring-colored yarn – doesn’t it remind you of strawberries, spring flowers and ice-cream? Well, it appealed to me, because I was so starved for color, and so I snatched it up, and at a bargain price too.

Initially, I was going to make a sweater,

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but then, when I was about halfway through the front piece, my daughter looked over my shoulder, and, the way she will when she sees something she’d really like for herself, asked wistfully: Are you making me a dress…? And that was actually a great idea, because there wasn’t enough yarn for sleeves anyway, and of course you can’t get individual balls of special offer yarn anywhere, not if it’s from a groceries discounter anyway. I browsed for necklines and finally decided on a simple shoulder yoke knit in the round, with the sides becoming short sleeves, the way you’re seeing it on the first pic. I remembered that I was a veteran hat knitter, and just did the thing I do when knitting the top of a hat (knit 2tog every 7 stitches, every 6 stitches in the next but next round, every 5 the next but next … you get the drift. Alternating a round of decreasing and one of just knitting). Finally, as I had half a ball of leftover yarn when casting off, I added a row or two of SC and a pretty TC shell edging because I couldn’t help myself. This you can’t see on the pic I took Sunday morning, as it was added on a whim in the car going back to town after the first proper sunny spring weekend in the country, check out the wildlife. If you can’t see it right away, look for a baby lizard basking right there in the sunshine.

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Before the Motley Dress, I finished the baby blanket I started over Easter – didn’t get around to taking it to the post office before, but I’m proud to say that I’ve just done exactly that today. My friend J from Frankfurt and his lovely wife had a baby girl, and I hope they’re enjoying those first magic weeks together – Little M is their first, and in my memory at least there is no time quite like that wondrous, extraordinary, amazingly life-altering experience of getting acquainted with your new offspring. Sigh. Anyway, here’s the blanket:

I enjoyed handling that soft merino yarn, and found the rhythm of color and waves as calming as ever. As you can see, I added a little edging of this and of that (SC in off-white, clusters of 3 DC in baby blue – no gender-normative color stereotypes in this blanket:-)!, a sort of a Larksfoot-type DC thing with a deep stitch in yellow and off-white, and an absolutely adorable row of light green picots to finish it off). I really hope they’re going to like it even half as much as I did. J is a big name portrait photographer, an artist really, and his wife M is a graphic designer, so who knows what they’re going to make of my gift…? My kitty found it comfortable, that’s for sure. And yes, this was taken before washing it, Jeez!

Other than that, I’ve started work on a new book, and received my free copies of the March effort – and what an effort it was! Brainy stuff, what with math and statistics and soccer and betting … But I’m really pleased with it, and proud to have been a part of the project.

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Wishing Dr. Sumpter and his book great success, especially with the European Championships coming up, which was obviously why it was such a rush in the first place. If you’re interested in that kind of thing, by all means go find it, it should be all over the stores now.

And since we all like to eat, how about a little springtime risotto recipe? Nothing special, but as seasonal and wholesome as they come:

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Green Asparagus Risotto

For 4 helpings, you will need:

2 bundles of fresh green asparagus, ends chopped off and thrown in the broth for more flavor, the rest cut in bite-size pieces

2 shallots, peeled & finely chopped

500 g Arborio rice

1 l very good veg broth (I use Cenovis clear vegetable broth)

1 glass of white wine or Prosecco

Best possible quality olive oil

20-30 g butter

Salt, Pepper

1/2 bunch fresh basil, cut into fine strips

Zest of 1/2 lemon

2 handfuls grated Parmesan cheese

You know the risotto drill, don’t you? Do not leave its side, keep stirring, and keep it nice and moist. If you’re new to this iconic Italian dish, please know you’ll definitely mess it up if you think of it as only a pot of rice, because it is so much more, and also kind of capricious.

Make your broth in advance, chop your shallots and basil and open the wine. Grate cheese.

Then start with heating a generous few spoonfuls of olive oil in a large pan or pot. Add rice and chopped shallots, turn down heat and begin stirring. Do not let the onions brown, it’ll ruin your whole effort. If rice and shallots start looking transparent, pour the white wine. Keep stirring until the liquid is as good as soaked up. Then, start adding broth ladle by individual ladle. Stir until liquid is gone, then add more. After approx. 30 minutes, the rice should be al dente. If you’re like me and like your risotto a bit mushier, keep going until it’s soft. Turn off heat, add grated cheese, butter and basil leaves. Cover and let steep for 10 minutes.

Now, you heat another dash of olive oil in a Teflon-coated pan. Add asparagus and lemon zest. Salt sparingly, add a pinch of sugar if you like, cover the pan and stew until tender. Check your seasoning. Add freshly grated black pepper.

Serve each plate with a generous topping of asparagus, and enjoy while it’s in season:-).

And, apropos of nothing, I found this awesome William Carlos Williams quote just the other day – seems too good not to share. It’s right there on my desk pad, inspiring me every day:
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