Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Getting closer....

I have knitted a rug for Ruby to lie on under the desk. She doesn't like to lie on things like that. She will lie on the couch, and knock down a throw pillow and perch on it. She sleeps on my pillow in bed and prefers my side with the feather bed to DH's flatter side. But in general, she is not one of those pugs that burrows into blankets or likes cushy dog beds. If I put the same pillow on the floor that she sleeps on in the bed, she will avoid it like the plague. When the computer desk was in the other room, it was on carpet and she was just fine laying underneath on that. But in this room, the floor is cold and hard linoleum tile. So I started by throwing a blanket under there. It took a while for her to even set a paw on it, but eventually she laid down (as long as my feet were down so she could put her chin on my foot LOL). Once she started staying down there even with my feet up (I sit cross legged in a computer chair or else my butt and legs fall asleep) I started folding the blanket. First in half, then in thirds until it was like a little sleeping mat. I knew there had been success when it got moved from under the desk somehow and Ruby would still go lie on it if I was in the computer room. The next step? Place the rug I made underneath it. If she is fine with that, I can put it on TOP of the blanket so that the blanket part is the padding underneath. Seems like a lot of work to get a dog to lie on a rug, doesn't it? I made the no-knead bread again today, this time I preheated the pot for as long as was originally called for. I also placed it overnight and then to rise in a better, warmer place and got a better rise. For those that have asked for the recipe: I would love to give it out. However, it is not MINE to give. I have a paid subscription to Cooks Illustrated Online, and I also buy the magazines. I feel it would violate copyright to post it here. However, I am sure a million people have posted it on Recipezaar, and if you were to look there and find a recipe that calls for a dutch oven, some Budweiser beer, and white vinegar then you have found what you are looking for. It is very easy to make, although it does take some planning because the dough sits overnight then has to rise. Other than that, I find it as easy to make as using a bread machine. Yesterday we had spaghetti for dinner. Sometimes, after browning the meat I like to deglaze with just a touch of red wine. Not enough to really taste, and I let it evaporate before continuing with the sauce. I find it deepens the flavour without making it "winey". It makes a sauce that cooks for about 10 minutes taste like a sauce that simmered much longer than that. I am out of dry wines to cook with, then saw the bottle of balsamic vinegar I had out to make salad dressing. Hmmmmm. I added about a couple of teaspoons worth to the meat after browning and let it cook off, then added my spices and seasonings and stirred for a bit, then added my tomato sauce. Right away I could see a difference in the colour of the sauce. Instead of the bright red of tomato sauce right from the can, it had the deeper brick colour of sauce that has simmered a very, very long time. A quick taste confirmed that while there was no taste of vinegar at all, the flavours of the tomato and spices had deepened and were better rounded out, and there was a distinct savoriness that really tempered any acidity from the canned sauce. No discernable sweetness either, which I was afraid of since the vinegar itself is so sweet. Now mind you, I did not use the $22.00 bottle of balsamic, but rather a cheapo version (which has mellowed nicely in the cupboard over the years incidentally LOL), but at a couple of teaspoons I would use the good stuff in a pinch. DH and DD both confirmed that the sauce was very very good. In fact, there were no leftovers at all - which is always a good sign! I have been knitting a LOT lately. See, I sat down with some wool I had sitting around, and decided to try out a few samples from the Barbara Walker books that had intrigued me. My intention was to try them out, then maybe decide if I wanted to use them again in some actual item. In other words, I was going to rip out the samples when I was done. I chose the turtle, and the peace sign cable charts. Well, they were so cute and turned out so well, there was no way I could rip them out! Then I got an idea. Why not pick up around the edges, and make a reverse side (picking some texture pattern that looks interesting from the same books)? So that is what I did. Then I added flaps. The last thing that needs to be done is washing and blocking (they need some shaping because cables tend to pull in), lining, and deciding on straps or handles. Now, don't fret. You will see pictures, I promise. I want to finish them first however. I have had a lot of people offer to buy them already, even when they were just raggedy pieces of pulled in knitting with millions of ends hanging off everywhere ROFL. I think I have found something I LOVE to make! I get to try some textures and cable techniques I have always wanted to try but the pieces can be finished in a couple of evenings. Of course, blocking and lining take longer but that can be done en masse when I have a few finished. And piecing them together appeals to my artist side because it is very organic, and is completed based on what the sides are like and the final shapes and so on. No pattern, no technique. I crocheted these together (single crochet along the edges making sure the counts match, then go along and slip stitch the inside loops of the crochet stitches together. I doesn't look crochet at all, you would swear they were knit together some how). Little purses, pocketbooks, cellphone or pda bags, you can use them for so many things. I like to follow patterns, but sometimes I find it very relaxing to let something take it's own shape. Like my newest purse I made from Noro (pictures to follow of that as well, I PROMISE). I crocheted an oval, then picked up around the edges and knit a tube. When I felt I was getting close to the end of the yarn I bound off in two spots then cast on again when I came around to them the next time to make handle openings, then finished the skein. Add some applied I-cord in the same colour as the bottom, and voila. I haven't shown it yet because I was playing around with liners and stiffening pieces and so on. Now that I have been using it I have pinned it down to something that works well, I just have to sew the parts in permanently (they are just basted in right now and aren't very sturdy. I would love to make another one to give as a gift, but I want to knit the oval bottom instead. I haven't quite figured out how to do that yet ;). So how about I make a promise. I promise that this Friday will be "Picture-Palooza". There will be pictures of bread and knitting and animals and just about whatever else I can get a picture of within the laws of decency and copyright. Deal?

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