adventures in juicing

A few years ago at Vogue Knitting LIVE Chicago, I started trying green juices from a breakfast and lunch spot off the entrance, Freshii. I loved the taste, yes, but I also loved how it gave me a little zing—and while you’re working an event as intense as VK LIVE, well, you need a little zing. This year for the show in NYC, we found a breakfast and lunch spot to deliver that also had juices, and I went overboard: sometimes 3 juices in a day! How was I to go back to my juiceless lifestyle once I was back home? I debated for a few days but bit the bullet and bought a juicer.

I got the most basic Breville (which Bon Appetit recommended in the January issue), even though the next step up is only about $50 more. It arrived yesterday, and I gave it its inaugural spin last night. My favorite juice from Freshii and the place in NYC, Al Horno, is one that’s just kale, celery, cucumber, lemon, green apple, and spinach. I didn’t buy spinach so I did it without. Not really knowing anything about anything, I dropped a whole peeled lemon into the chute and went from there. And oh boy was it too much lemon! It was drinkable, but it was quite tart. This morning I set about fixing that.

juicing

This is exactly what I put into my juice this morning, and the quantity was pretty spot-on. Not quite a giant glassful, but a filling amount. That’s just half a lemon—perhaps still slightly high in lemon, but not puckering, and I’m probably too lazy to cut a lemon any further. In the future  I will up the kale, for sure, and perhaps up all the green veggies a bit.

my first homemade green juice

I obviously didn’t measure anything precisely, but taking the picture of the quantities will hopefully help me tomorrow morning when I make another juice. I won’t turn this into a juicing blog, I promise—but bear with me as I include a few successes so that I can recreate them for myself! And maybe this will help someone else. With that in mind, a few notes:

  • I found some sites that said “always peel citrus” and others that said “you could get away with about half a lemon’s worth of peel still on.” I asked a friend who loves juice and she immediately told me to peel it. Given how strong the lemon comes through, I’d hate to add a stronger lemon component—and I definitely don’t want the bitterness of the peel. What to do with all the lemon peels? Make candied peels!
  • The Breville product tag has a photograph of a woman holding an apple over the feed chute as if to drop it in whole. I used a whole apple for the photo because it was prettier, but in truth I had cut out the core before putting it in the chute. I don’t know if the core would be too tough for it—some sites I’ve read say to always core apples. Maybe Breville took that picture because it’s pretty.
  • Speaking of apple, this morning one of my apple pieces turned onto its flat side and couldn’t be pushed down into the blades any further—it was the last thing I juiced so I couldn’t push it with something else. In the future I’ll take care to keep it vertical if possible.
  • I bought organic celery, kale, etc., and hope that Fresh Direct continues to have them on sale in the future!
  • In general the juice seems more juice than particles, which I’m used to when I get juice from a shop. This is nice, in that it is a touch easier to drink, but is odd, because I’d really gotten used to that mouthfeel. Eh, it is what it is.
  • As to cleanup: honestly, not that bad. It has more parts than the Cuisinart but isn’t any more annoying to clean, and in fact seems to have fewer nooks and crannies. However, scrubbing the mesh strainer with the brush does take some time. Including emptying the full dishdrain before starting to wash, the process took ten minutes this morning. I’m kind of shocked it took so long, but that isn’t terrible. Because I live in petrifying fear that if the waste sits on the machine for any length of time I’ll never get it clean, I had the filter soaking within moments and had washed it all upon finishing my juice.

Next up, once I get to the store, will be a beet-carrot-apple-ginger recreation of another favorite juice from Al Horno. But for now, one of these in the morning is going to be quite fine.

 

wip: postage stamp quilt

Back around Christmas, when I was feeling the full weight of my stash, I decided to slash through my scraps a bit, get that bin under control, and start making more things out of leftovers from past projects. So one afternoon—until my wrists started to ache, in fact!—I cut all my scraps into 2.5″ squares however I could.

scrap squares

Of course, not being a sampling of all the fabrics in my stash, there was only so much I could envision doing with them. I’d kept them organized by color, so I thought about slightly organized 9 patches, in coordinated color schemes, which I’ve seen others do and really liked. I arranged and rearranged the blocks a few times and just wasn’t feeling it. So I just set out a 6×6 grid of them, pulled at random, and walked away.

Walking away was really key here because I thought it looked nice when I pulled the fabrics but it was only a while later, when I walked past the table, that the block really sang for me. Seeing it from afar made me happy, and so I sewed it up right away. I dumped all the squares into a bag so I could pull even more randomly, and I made another, and another—in just that one night I made 4 blocks. With each one I’d determine an initial layout quickly, then walk away, sit on the couch for a bit, and then come back to see if I wanted to swap out a block or flip the placement of two.

postage stamp blocks

A few days later, I made two more.

postage stamp blocks

It is amazing to me that I dipped into my scraps, which filled a relatively small plastic bin, and suddenly had the equivalent of a piece of fabric that’s 48 x 24! Obviously now that I’ve started I want to keep going forever—I’m not going to stop at a baby sized quilt; this one will be for me! A highlight of all the fabrics I had in my first years of sewing? What a precious thing. This means that the next time I feel up for an afternoon of cutting, I’m going to sneak off 2.5″ strips from various fabrics that weren’t in the scrap bin, to flesh out the variety a bit more. I suppose I’ll be adding to it in bits and pieces over time, too.

I hope it isn’t too long before I come back to these blocks, and I hope it isn’t too long before I have enough area covered to make myself a blanket!

rainbow mini

pepperknit | rainbow mini quilt

 

Sometimes it’s just fun to play with your fabric stash along with a color wheel. This mini made last summer—woefully overdue to be sent to decorate a baby’s room—is just four string quilt blocks that follow the colors of the rainbow. Kona Snow marks the center of each string, and a variety of my favorite fabrics are here. Though it’s subtle, each color progression goes from dark to light toward the center. Looking at this again makes me want to get out my stash and start planning color stories all over again!

another monster

pepperknit | knit monster

After I knit the Mama + Baby Monsters last year I was on a bit of a monster kick. I grabbed a copy of Rebecca Danger’s The Big Book of Knitted Monsters and picked a different blobby guy to knit for friends in Colorado. They took in a baby who needed care and love, and I realized that they probably weren’t going to get a traditional baby shower. So I knit Dot up in the same Baby Alpaca Grande Tweed by Plymouth Yarn, and even employed the same technique for making the little eyes. (I opted not to add the “dot” around one eye that gives the original her name.) I striped it to make it a little different and omg how cute is this guy!

pepperknit | knit monster

 

pepperknit | knit monster

entrelac bolster

I’m an experienced knitter, not afraid of any technique, from steeking to intarsia. But I’d never entrelaced. Which is weird, because I’m friends with Rosemary Drysdale, the expert on the subject. And her newest book features a round swatch of entrelac that was, I thought, crying out to be made into a nice round pillow. Back at TNNA in June, I was given a few skeins of the new yarn Mrs. Crosby Carpet Bag, and I decided it was just the thing for my round pillow, so I cast on and got going.

I found that entrelac is super easy, but to get it to look really nice you have to be just a touch fussy, picking up sometimes more stitches than you need to ensure all holes are closed. I learned when you work in the round if you accidentally miss one segment you are screwed and have to frog days and days of work. And I also discovered that you can’t just keep sizing up, or you’ll end up with a rippling mess.

entrelac fail

This shouldn’t have surprised me: you can’t make a circle by doubling each round and expect it to stay flat. But I for some reason didn’t anticipate quite this much rippling—I figured I could wrestle it into a pillow with enough stuffing. But this was untenable, and it had to be abandoned.

Instead, I went with a basic entrelac, only I wasn’t satisfied with the successive rows of color that is standard. If the point, I figured, of entrelac was to make it look as if the bands were woven together, then the color should stay with the band, not the row. So I devised a color plan that would actually show the colors interlacing.

planning entrelac

I had a really hard time trying to draw this, also I wanted to be able to test different sequences, so I actually cut strips of paper and wove them together!

Just a few rows of entrelac high—I was excited for a low, wide pillow. I changed the color scheme for the second side slightly. Seaming them together posed a stumbling block, as joining the bias edges didn’t look neat no matter what I tried. In the end I did a round of hdc on each piece and the joined them with a flat crochet join. I don’t mind the gray “seam” that runs around the whole thing.

pepperknit | entrelac bolster

 

pepperknit | entrelac bolster

 

pepperknit | entrelac bolster

Then I started stuffing it. And stuffing it. And stuffing it. The yarn, a merino-silk blend, is soo lustrous and soft, but it is supple and took to a lot of stretching, and I was definitely not feeling up to sewing a small inner pillow out of fabric to contain it. So I just stuffed until it was nice and full, and in the end I got a significantly sized bolster! (I think it’s at least 2 feet long.) It lives on the couch and is so delightfully squishy and nice to curl up with. Sometimes I use it as an actual bolster, using it as a prop for some gentle yoga on the floor while watching TV. I love it!