Friday, September 21, 2012

Half-hatched idea

I've been toying around with some two color stranded knitting and finally devoted some time to knitting a sample of this pattern that I've sketched.  This is my swatch. The chart and pattern are admittedly not for the faint of heart. It is a 46 row, 60 stitch repeat.  This swatch is a 2 x 2 repeat of that chart.

Art Deco Stranding
My inspiration was an art deco piece of architectural ornament... I can't find the original photo... I think it was wallpaper or a plaster relief.  Either way I loved it, and although I had to do some heavy editing to keep the stranded color work from "floating" for too many stitches across the back, I think I've managed to maintain it's fidelity.

I'm thinking it might grow up to be a cowl... what are your thoughts?

Note about the yarn: this was knit with some remnant KnitPicks Palette yarn in Sky and Bark on US3 needles in the round.  (Thanks Ravelry for keeping track of my knitting, without you I would never have remembered that.) I later cut the steek and blocked it.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Forest Park Prototype

This little prototype has come to life.  And I believe that it might actually make it into pattern form - I'm thinking of calling it Forest Park.  I'm never quite sure how something in my mind and on graph paper will translate to actual garment, but I this is leaning toward the more successful end of the spectrum. And it will be perfect for ambling around the best green space in St. Louis - Forest Park.

A little "Forest Park"
My favorite thing about this little garment is that it is knit all in one piece.  This is certainly not an original idea, but one I wanted to incorporate into the design.  Some of my all time favorite baby garments feature this type of construction and I knew I wanted to take a stab at designing this way. (See some Elizabeth Zimmermann and Debbie Bliss examples of this type of construction.)  I'm also really fond of the staggering of the cables and think that the increased stitch count underneath the last cable row of each column of cables creates a really nice peplum effect.

Cable and Peplum Closeup
Now that I think I have a good prototype, I must begin the math, charting and pattern grading. Then a little photo shoot will be in order... cross your fingers for the perfect intersection of the right light, weather and willing participation of my model, the small fry.  (They all seem equally unpredictable lately... ha)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Le Trout

I promise not to turn this into a food blog, but I had to share this.  Our dinner the other night was so pretty I felt compelled to photograph it (and post it here). Most of the inspiration was thanks to fresh ingredients from our local co-op.

Ready for wrapping up.
We joined a co-op that sources everything they distribute from local growers and producers.  They are Fair Shares, if you are an interested St. Louis-an. And I have to say they do a phenomenal job.  They are not only friendly and welcoming proprietors, but also well organized and knowledgeable.

Our dinner was Trout in Parchment (or "en Papillote" for those of you fluent in French).  90% of this came from our co-op share or our tiny herb garden.  Here's a quick description of the process.  Cut two generous sheets of parchment and lay one on top of the other on a rimmed baking sheet.  Lightly butter or oil the inside layer where the food will sit.  Lay thinly sliced zucchini in a slightly overlapping layer on the parchment in an area a bit larger than the fish. Scatter a handful of cherry tomatoes on top if you have them.  Salt and pepper this layer.  Place rinsed and dried trout fillets, skin side down on the vegetables.  Salt and pepper the fish.  Decorate with chives, parsley and thyme. Surround fish with lemon slices (over, under, around... I love lemon with fish).  Dot with butter or sprinkle with olive oil.  Pour about 1/2 a cup of white wine over the whole mess.

Seal up the parchment paper, keeping some "head room" for the fish (just don't make it snug). And then repeat with the second sheet of parchment so that you have a nearly air tight envelope of parchment enclosing the whole dish.  I read several recipes about how best to do this and it seems a brushing with egg white works well on folded parchment, but I took the lowbrow route and folded the parchment and stapled it.  (Classy, I know... probably not the Julia Child method, but it worked really well.)

Piping hot and smelling wonderful.

Once sealed, transfer the baking sheet into a 400-degree oven and bake for 30 minutes.  The rest is up to you.  We found it to be a really healthy and easy way to prepare a beautiful fish fillet.  And it was pretty to boot!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Miniature Rehab and Why I Should Listen to My Mother

A few weeks ago, our girl visited  The Magic House for the first time.  It's a wonderful place, full of fun, interactive and secretly educational exhibits.  If you are ever in St. Louis with kiddos in tow, you should check it out.

While wheeling around the masses of children and parents, the small fry was drawn repeatedly to this big wooden doll house they had.  And now we enter the part of the story in which I must admit that my mom was right - again.  (This is a recurring theme in my life.) 

When I was middle school age, I was also mildly obsessed with doll houses... not so much the playing with dolls, more the making miniature things and decorating tiny rooms.  I think it began with the Thorne miniature rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago, which was one of my favorite parts of our summer pilgrimage to Chicago.  And so one fall, my mom and I ran across a fairly nice doll house at an antique store and my parents bought it for me as a Christmas present.  I spent hours removing full scale wallpaper, carpet and glue that was stuck to the balsa wood walls and floor.  My parents bought me a kit to make some furniture and I loved the tiny tedious job of building benches and chests and sewing pillows the size of quarters.

House painting complements of my
eleven-year-old self

Rehab about 30-percent done

I outgrew that doll house, like teenagers do.  And I pressed my mom to get rid of it, fully convinced that I would never have another use for it.  So you can imagine that I was less than thrilled when several months ago, she arrived at my house with it.  (This is a classic move on her part, arriving with long forgotten possessions and then driving off towards her now-more-clutter-free-home, cackling like some gleeful and benevolent antagonist.)

So we moved the house down from the attic and dusted it off (Thanks for keeping it Mom.) and started a small scale remodeling project.  Working room by room, we're making things a little cleaner and prettier. All those gorgeous choices of scrap booking paper make for good wallpaper.  And sheets of foam make good mock carpet (it's stiff enough to keep those little people from toppling over).  And we've moved in the Playmobil family and some of their furniture and the fun has begun again for this little house.

Cutting "wallpaper" for tiny dormers... a little challenging.

Cork floors in the kitchen.

Just a few more rooms to rehab, and hours and hours of play ahead for the small fry and her little plastic friends.  All due to the foresight of my mom.