The Brooklyn Botanic Garden brought a small exhibit to the conservatory of knit flowers, plants, and vegetables, and some friends and I went to check it out today. It’s called Knit, Purl, Sow and they’re even teaching some beginning knitting classes there too.
The way the pieces were executed was truly stunning—larger than life flowers hanging from the ceiling or mounted on the wall. Knitted art can be so inspiring! It’s just too bad about the lighting of the exhibit, which created some terrifying shadows. If you’re a knitter and heading to the BBG, take a swing through to take a peek! It’s there through January 22, so you have plenty of time.
It all started with a Thermos. I can’t exactly explain why I got it in my head that I needed to start bringing soup for lunch in a Thermos—there is, after all, a perfectly good microwave at the office—but I spontaneously bought a Thermos last week. Fall is definitely in the air and I knew I’d be making a big batch of soup. My Thermos is not an awkward shape (in fact it’s less bulky than I expected it to be), and it would probably fit in my purse no problem, but I got it in my head that I needed a bag to bring my lunch in, for the Thermos and any other lunches. More often than not I put my lunch in its container in a plastic bag and shove it in my purse, which is neither elegant nor environmentally sound. So on Sunday I made this (modified) reversible bag!
I didn’t want this bag to be flimsy but I didn’t have a lot of heavyweight fabrics to choose from, so I used canvas (for some reason I have a lot of yardage of canvas) for the interior and a quilting cotton that I added lightweight fusible interfacing to for the outside. I really don’t plan on reversing it at all but it was an interesting lesson in construction to make it that way. If I were to make another I’d just leave a hole in the middle of the lining fabric and turn it right side out that way instead of struggling to get it through one of the straps! It truly killed my hands to be tugging on it that way, flaring up the carpal tunnel that plagues me.
I didn’t make the straps as long as the pattern calls for, lopping off about 3 inches, because I wanted it to be a handheld bag rather than a shoulder one. (I only used the bottom two pages of the pdf template, to be precise.) It’s roomy—I ended up tucking my umbrella in it this morning, too, and a water bottle. Maybe it doesn’t need to be this large but it doesn’t feel unwieldy and some days I end up with homemade lunches of many elements, so this will fit all the little containers. My work on the topstitching is actually rather sloppy, and I’m debating picking it out and redoing it. At the seams it’s super thick and tricky to go around the curve so I’m not eager to do it again. As it is, the bag is plenty cheery and happy, and it got me through a Monday with a smile on my face! It definitely made the commute more fun.
Thanks to Jason for taking these photos on our way home tonight!
I didn’t make the journey up to New York Sheep & Wool this year, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t knit something just in the nick of time! About three weeks ago, when the temperature finally started to change, my need for a new sweater overcame me. I started researching colorwork pullovers (inspired in large part by Julia’s newly released Hiro) but somehow ended up looking at solid patterns and stumbled on Madigan, a Melissa LaBarre pattern for Quince & Co. I knew I had the perfect yarn in my stash, so off I went to wind and swatch.
Fittingly, I bought this yarn (Stonehedge Fiber Mill‘s Shepherd’s Wool) at Rhinebeck two years ago, when I was eager to amass more sweater quantities of yarn. I was looking for a nice, wearable gray. I found, however, this bright blue. I think, in the madness that is shopping at Rhinebeck, I neglected to think this through, so I bought it even though I couldn’t exactly picture it in a sweater. “Sweater quantity? Sold!” This electric blue haunted me from its place on a shelf in my craft corner. Nothing ever seemed quite right. Then I found Madigan. It couldn’t be more perfect.
The sweater is a cinch to knit, but that doesn’t mean I actually managed to follow the directions. You know how you read over a pattern, start knitting, and feel confident you know what it told you? Yeah, that led to varying stitch counts, some uncalled-for plain knitting in the middle of the waist shaping, and likely not as many stitches in total at the hips. But you know what else? It led to a perfectly fitting sweater that I finished the Friday before Rhinebeck. Either I was lucky or I actually can successfully improvise a sweater after all these years.
Speaking of improvisation, my friends and I improvised our own Rhinebecky day in New York City, instead of driving 2.5 hours up to the Dutchess County Fairgrounds. We went to Knitty City, a crafts fair, and Central Park to approximate yarn booths and fall foliage. Just like at Rhinebeck, we took time for a photo shoot (this time Tania and Holly took my pictures, instead of Caro). But we also went shoe shopping, ate a calm and line-less brunch, and were home in time for dinner. So in some ways we improved on Rhinebeck! All that was missing were all the friends I didn’t get to hug. Next year, I’ll be back!
I predict that I will be making more quilts like this in the future. Actually, I know for sure that I am because I had mentally planned something like this but decided to try it out first using fabric I had on hand instead of the fabric bought specifically for that quilt. So basically, this is just a little test that turned out super awesome and I’m thrilled with the result!
I’d never made a Dresden Plate before, but a friend alerted me to the Salt Lake City Quilting Guild’s EZ Dresden Plate Challenge. So many cool things were made in their blog tour! This one spoke to me, and I decided to play with the shapes in addition to making it bigger so that it was a baby-sized quilt. It came together even faster than I thought it would using fabric from the Kona Poseidon pack (I’m getting so much use out of that pack!). I used the Dresden ruler as a guide to make blades that were 10 inches long (instead of the normal 8 inches). This makes the whole motif 24 inches in diameter. I think I want to go even bigger next time. I also used a tip I read about folding down the edges before seaming the blades together, but that was not the best idea because it’s super obvious when it doesn’t line up right, and the pressed seams are actually visible peeking up along the outside edge. The inner circle would probably benefit from a circle patch but I am not sure how to proceed there. The whole plate was sewn down with a straight stitch, but then I realized that I needed to deal with the little peeking corners, so I did a zizzag all the way around, which “captures” those little spots and solves that problem even if it’s not the most elegant solution visibly. I quilted it using concentric circles outside the plate (increasing in diameter by half an inch with each round) and traced the long spokes on the motif.
The pieced binding was more than a little tedious: Why did I make each length so short?! There was so much sewing involved, and there was no way to place it so that a color change didn’t hit a corner. Still, it worked out nicely and I like the look. The backing is a single piece of fabric that I thought coordinated and kept the whole quilt feeling fun.
I wish it could qualify for the Dresden Plate Challenge! When I made this I didn’t realize that their size limitations meant a 36″ quilt is out of the running. Still, it was fun to make and I’ll be making another soon, I’m sure. Today my coworker and I snuck up onto the roof of our office for the photo shoot (her nail polish even matched!). You can see the Chrysler Building off to the left in the one above, and the Williamsburg Bridge off in the distance. Oh, how I love New York.
There’s been this movement in the food world of the past few years, these “underground” supper clubs, in which a chef cooks a dinner party for guests, who pay, and who don’t necessarily know each other. I suppose the idea is to have an intimate but elegant meal that is entirely unique. Some might call it a hipster thing to do; I think it’s pretty bougie. But I’m just bougie enough to have leapt at the opportunity to attend!
Scott calls his dinners “Stagionarsi” from the Italian for “season,” which has a double meaning here: both the seasoning of food and the commitment to creating meals inspired by the seasons. The chef emailed with us ahead of time to find out about food restrictions, allergies, and the like. It was so personal and friendly, and I know my friends (who do have allergies) were well accommodated.
Each of the food courses was paired with wine; the dessert course was wine-less but there was Basil Hayden’s whiskey for us to drink (oh wow tasty). I took notes on my phone, and you will see in many of these uncropped photos of my plates that my phone is still on! This was documentation more than glamorous photography, as you will see, but I’m going to include every course here nonetheless. Click to read more, and enjoy!
Revelry Chardonnay. Chickpea “panisse” seasoned with pear and nutmeg, served with a black garlic aioli. So delicate and delicious! Subtle flavors that weren’t overpowered by the wine. I don’t like Chardonnay but this was very tasty. This was a perfect starter to make you want more. (But I could don my Tom Colicchio hat and deride the curly parsley on the plate. Garnishes without purpose make Tom craaazy on Top Chef.)
Gentil “Hugel” Alsace Riesling. Braised greens salad (collards? kale? wasn’t specified) with barley and what smelled like sherry vinegar. If this was more fully explained I wasn’t listening! I liked this a lot, and the sweetness of the wine was a nice complement to the bitterness of the greens.
Cordero di Montezemolo Barolo. Butternut and cabocha squash soup with a garnish of sauteed hen of the woods and hedgehog mushrooms. Also garnished with a triangle of a truffle cheese (chef couldn’t remember the name and didn’t update us) and a line of truffle salt. This was so THICK, it was more like baby food than soup, but it was delicious through and through. The truffle element surprised me by being so perfect; I am definitely adding that the next time I make my roasted butternut squash soup!
Nikolaihof Wacahu Gruner Veltliner. Smoked salmon cakes with black radish, celeriac, and parsnip in the mix, served with a celeriac remoulade. These were good, nice and salty and crispy. Some claimed they were their favorite course, but I just wanted more of the soup!
Valpolicella Dry Red Wine (not sure the winery). Potato gnocchi, spinach and butternut squash gnudi, with sage butter and a healthy streak of cracked black pepper. The gnocchi/gnudi were fantastic! But browned butter with sage was surprising in its lack of originality; the dish just felt dated/old fashioned (are we still only pairing gnocchi with sage browned butter, really?). The wine was nice and peppery, and that complemented the pepper in the dish nicely.
I didn’t see the wine bottle, but this was a Shiraz/Grenache/Mouvedre blend. That same wine was used in the reduction on the plate that accompanied this pork belly cooked with a juniper berry rub of juniper berry salt, thyme, and garlic. The cut and preparation reminded me a bit of the Norwegian Christmas specialty, ribbe. Wish that skin had gotten more crispy, but the flavors were great.
No wine at dessert to go with the “deconstructed cannoli” that I forgot to photograph before diving in! The ricotta ice cream was studded with flecks of chocolate and was fabulous; the plate had a chocolate streak and a sprinkling of espresso salt. That made the dish, in my opinion! The cookie, a play on a cannoli shell, was hazelnut based.
All in all, it was a fabulous meal, and it was so much fun to be there with other food-passionate people, most of whom I’d never met before. It was a great hodgepodge of folks: Sarah-Ann of Eat Drink Repeat, a cheesemaker, a specialty food shop worker, the proprietor of SupermarketHQ.com (actually a design site, not a food one), someone from Seamless, a lawyer, software engineers, and me! Conversation was wide-ranging, as you might expect, but the food was always there to hold us together. And there were several knitting enthusiasts there, too, so I wasn’t completely out of place :)