What have I been up to, you ask? or do you dare? this may be a long post, my friends . . . so read at your convenience, of course . . .
First, the weather has warmed up to between -6 and +3 over the past few days, so that’s cause for rejoicing right there; not for anyone trying to drive here, though. The main streets are cleared, but they have only just begun on the residential streets. I saw that Boomdeeadda got stuck already and is ‘all over winter’ already! This is why I’ve always loved a good truck. My last one was a late 70s Ford Ranger extended cab. this is not mine, but it’s the same model. Mine had a white half-camper ‘hood’ on the back, but no door to lock up with.
I had one of the pears in a bag with an orange. When I took it out, it had this charming ‘Cyclops’ face, thanks to the blossom end of the orange changing homes. I thought it was cute next to the banana . . .
Remember we bought a 40 lb box of D’Anjou pears (and one each of MacIntosh and Gala apples!)? Well, here’s what I was up to this afternoon:
This is what my Mum made for us every summmer when I was in my teens. She calls it ‘Pear Mousse’; I have no idea if it’s out there under any other name. Sometimes it was supper, along with bread and butter; sometimes it was dessert. It’s a good snack or breakfast, too. This is in no way vegan, but I’m sure my vegan friends out there will figure out a proper recipe . . .
In my large old pot, I put a couple of cups of water. Then I thinly peeled, quartered and cored a bunch of pears, then cut them into chunks. I had a bit of lemon juice in the water so the pears wouldn’t brown too much; it takes a while to thinly peel that many pears! I had my iPhone plugged in and was using its iPod function to play some of my favourite music to keep me company.
I brought the whole thing to a boil, turned down the heat and let it simmer away for a while (20 minutes or so?? I wasn’t timing; I just went by “is it cooked yet?’). Then I put about a half cup of cornstarch in our glass bowl, mixed it well with about the same amount of sugar (mostly to help the cornstarch blend with the milk more easily); then I slowly added a can of evaporated milk, stirring well all the time. I should have stirred a bit more and added the milk a bit more slowly; there were a few teeny grains of cornstarch that didn’t blend in, but that’s life; irritating grains in even the loveliest of meals. just remember, that’s how we get pearls! (well, not from the Pear Mousse, silly, pearls come from irritating grains of sand that find their way to the oyster. It seemed like a good analogy at the time, though . . .)
I turned up the heat under the pears again ’til they were bubbling a bit, then added the cornstarch/sugar/milk mixture slowly, stirring all the while with a long-handled wooden spoon. A pinch of nutmeg went in about now. (Other flavours are good in this, too; I just normally make it the way Mum always has. I love this with finely chopped candied ginger, too.) I continued to stir until the mixture thickened, turned down the heat to a slow simmer, then, when it was done (no ‘raw’ taste of cornstarch), turned off the heat entirely, but left the pot on the burner.
Back to the kitchen to put some of the still hot Mousee into my favourite cup and to toast an English muffin in the toaster oven. Lightly buttered, then the halves went onto my favourite matching plate and the ‘supper’ was taken to Mum’s bedroom so I could continue reading and responding to comments while I ate.
Later this evening, or more likely tomorrow morning, this is what awaits me:
I’ll be washing, quartering, coring, cutting into chunks and popping these Macs into the slow cooker, along with some Galas that are still hiding in their box, thinking they have escaped the fate of their cousins . . .
I’ve been saving best for last, though!! And this is really why I’m a happy camper:
Again, I’m not sure if you can tell what I’m doing here, but I’m using a needle and thread to stitch up and then down on a row of stitches beside the centre row of one of the armhole steeks. Then I will stitch up and down again on the row on the other side of the centres. OK, done! And now . . . (drumrolls and quickened heartbeats) . . .
Eureka!! It works!!! I know the instructions all say it works, but still . . . Here’s the opening (notice it’s not unravelling into bits of yarn? Now I’m happy!)
And next . . .
160 stitches have been picked up around the opening. These are the beginning of one sleeve. And that’s not all . . .
If you look closely here, you can just see my needle. I have finished stitching up and then down again on both sides of the centre row of the front opening steek. I was hoping to cut it open so I could try on the cardi and see when to quit with the sleeves (no, I’m not there yet; just thinking ahead, as usual) 😉 But, I can’t cut it open. Why not? ‘Cause I haven’t yet picked up the stitches from the provisional cast-on at the bottom and knitted whatever I’m going to knit to finish off the lower edge. I may do a couple of motifs to bring down some of the lovely colours I used on the upper portion. Then I will need to do some ribbing, or maybe a fancy edge (I love fancy edges!) or maybe just a border to match the collar. We’ll see. In the meantime, I will simply have to hold it up and look in a mirror. Or maybe lay it out on top of one of my favourite long-sleeved T-shirts or fleece jackets to make sure the sleeves don’t come down to my ankles . . .
Back to what’s actually been done this week . . .
This is the other armscye being cut open. Never mind the drumrolls and drama, woman, get on with it! And I did!!
And then picked up another set of 160 stitches!
By the way, one thing was so serendipitous: As I was knitting the body, once I’d begun the armscye steeks, I added a six stitch checkerboard pattern along the edge of each armscye. After I cut the openings, I decided I didn’t much care for how they looked; colour changes had played havoc in places with the pattern and I didn’t have the patience to do duplicate stitch over the weird ones to make them work. So when I picked up those sets of 160 stitches, I did it on the body side of the checkers and let that bit fall to the inside, later to be tacked down as a sort of facing. If I think it’s too bulky, I may even thread-stitch next to them and cut them off! (see how bold I’ve become with those scissors?? LOL) Anyway, what has happened is that the cut edges have rolled behind the knitting and the checkerboard has automatically rolled to the inside of the cardi, so there are no rough, ‘cut’ edges to be seen!! Cool how that works, eh?, especially when I really don’t know what I’m doing and sort of make things up as I go along . . .
I had completed the first two sets of motifs on one sleeve when it occured to me that I have never liked doing something twice, which is why I prefer to knit socks, cardi fronts, sleeves, etc., two at a time. Luckily, when I went for groceries on Monday, I also went to the hated landfill store (my name for it, as that’s mostly what is sold there. My not-so-humble opinion, sorry if it offends anyone) and purchased more (yes, more!) knitting needles. Lucky for me they had some in the size I wanted. I also found some smaller size circulars for my latest project. Hang on, it’s coming. First things first, you know! So I have been catching up on sleeve number two:
It may be hard to see in this picture, but the sleeve on the left side is where I started out and the one on the right side is the second one. Here’s a closer look:
I don’t think I’ve mentioned the artist Maxfield Parrish here before, but he’s one of my favourites. His use of colour (and the process by which he achieved it) still leaves me breathless . . . Every morning and every evening there are a few moments when the sky turns a shade that I can only call “Maxfield Parrish blue”. One of the recent evenings, I caught this through the half-closed drapes at my Aunty’s:
And, as promised, a sneak peek at my latest project (yes, I know! I can’t help it, ok?) LOL
Know what that is? It’s the brim for a Fair Isle tam to match the cardi. Doubt I’ll wear it in public (it is a ‘barn cardi, after all), but it will be handy if I need to cover my head and go for groceries.
I found the free pattern on Knitting Daily and now I have created my own Excel spreadsheet template for the crown, so if any of you fibre freaks out there want to try designing your own, it’s now super-easy!! I can email you the template and you can play away to your heart’s delight. I created three patterns this morning, just playing around with the idea (and that’s after I created the template). Let me know.
I nearly forgot: I also picked up one of these (and should have bought two or three). When I went back, the others were all gone. 😦
Have fun in your gardens or snow piles, my friends. Hugs to you all. ~ Linne