Sunday, April 19, 2015

Senses


We binge-watched Daredevil this week.  And it was awesome if you like the rather dark Marvel character.

The thing that makes him special is that when he lost his eyes to the chemical spill after saving that person's life; he gained super sensitive senses.  He can taste the air and tell you what you had for lunch and tell if you are lying by the sound of your heartbeat.  Everything is heightened for him and more then three-dimensional.

That is how I feel about yarn.  I wanted that yarn above, the masala Knitpicks Gloss because I loved the warm spicy feel to it.  It looked like something you would find in a vat overflowing in Morocco. You would see the color long before the aroma of the spice hit you and by the time you reached it you would be awash in color and taste.  You would be thinking about the dishes you could make with this spice and how alive they would be when they hit your tongue.

This yarn is merino wool and silk.  Your eyes delight in the color and then your fingers feel caressed by the silk as you knit.  There is such joy in pairing a yarn with a sensory experience like silk.  Silk stitches feel delicious when you knit them.  They dance over the needles.  



Most times I am drawn by the color to a yarn.  Sometimes it is that it sparkles or that it is a certain type but usually it is the color.  Yarn colors call to them as you need them.  I believe sometimes we go for a long haul of buying the same color until the need for that color passes.

I love pink.  I just do.  And this pink is bright and cheery.  One day it will be a shawl.  But now I can look at the pink and smile.  That has not changed in all these years.  Pink remains for me a memory of home and cherry blossoms in the spring, of valentines and love that lasts forever and of the sun kissing the sky in the morning.  To me the memories that are woven as I knit with the pink are as beautiful as the color itself.




This is a look into one of my drawers of many types of yarn.  They are sorted more or less by color so you can see how much I love reds, purples and pinks.  I adore sparkles...they are just magical.  All of these yarns are waiting to become something bigger then themselves.  I love to just look at them and open up their bags and feel them.

That is really all I have time for right now.  But the knitting waits like a flower bed that sits outside one's window in anticipation of someone looking out and noticing how beautiful it is.

I have been working on connecting my flowers all week between taxes and other stuff.  I hope to have them all joined for next week.

I hope you have been enjoying the beautiful weather.

Hugs!
Ruinwen
:)


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Caitlin





There is a moment in Skyrim where this plays and you know that there is a dragon approaching and your your adrenaline starts pumping as you ready your weapons and look to the skies.  The score is so powerful you can feel the energy emanating around you and filling you up with purpose and conviction.  I still get the chills when I hear it.

That is how I felt when I saw the photo shoot of Caitlin.  OMG!  These photos are fantastic.  The photographer and model have left me breathless.  The model is the beautiful Caitlin herself that the pattern was named after.  I love the playful way she got into the shoot.  Her Mom is the talented photographer and I love all the shots she took.  It is hard to choose which ones to use on the pattern.

I am so blessed to have these two talented individuals in my life.

This is the second professional type shoot that we've ever done.  The first was the Nana Cowl shoot and I love those pictures so much!  I've been going back and forth and trying to figure out how to do things.  I am part of a group of designers who talk about photos and what makes a pattern come alive for people and there are a bunch of really good ideas on there.

I am just awed by the difference I feel from the previous photo in the snow and these photos with Caitlin are.  Adding a human element allows you to see how the pattern flows and drapes.  You can see it on and maybe envision it on yourself...you can see how it would fit into your wardrobe as a cold weather staple.

There is life in these photos, movement and whimsy.  I feel energy emanating from these photos and I am empowered to create more things so that this photographer can breathe life into them.

*****

I made these.  I love kale chips.  I love the way they crunch and how healthy they are.  So I decided to try my hand at making my own.

I washed and dried the kale and then ran some olive oil over it.  Not more then a tbsp which I blended into the kale with my fingers.  I then placed the kale on a metal tray that has tiny holes in it.  I set the oven to convection at 300 degrees and used some of our special spice blend (garlic powder, onion powder, Hungarian paprika, chili powder, cumin and a little celery salt) to season the leaves.

Then, in they went for 15 minutes turning once.  Anything over 15 minutes tastes burnt.  I sprinkled them with some nutritional yeast which tastes like a kind of cheese if you haven't had any for a while. To me, it is like a smokey Parmesan mixed with something I can't quite place...but the crux here is it is really yummy.  If you haven't tried it before then just try a little on one of the leaves but put it on while they are hot and there is a bit of oil to hold it on.

The result is just pure yummyness!  So this will be another healthy staple that I'm adding to my weekly diet.  Kale is full of beta carotene, vitamins K and C, calcium, lutein and zeaxanthin (both are good for the eyes).  Kale boosts DNA repair and is an antioxidant that appears to block the growth of cancer cells.  It has also been shown to decrease LDL, the bad cholesterol levels in the blood and decreases the absorption of dietary fat (like green tea does).

*****

I hope you are enjoying the slow returning of spring to the land after our hard winter.

Happy crafting,
Ruinwen
:)

P.S.  I hope to have Caitlin proofed and published in a few weeks.  I'll let you know when it is available.  Thanks for reading.


Sunday, April 05, 2015

Happiness


April Fool's Day in Minecraft was blessed with hearts.  Here you see it raining hearts on a couple of happy bunnies.  In fact the effect I was getting was happiness and it was a really nice little surprise. Along with light the torches gave little hearts.  You never died, you only gained more hearts.  In the end of my little romp in this fun world I had four stacks of them.  Creepers exploded into flowers...skeletons gave off bone meal like crazy and I was never able to be harmed or harm another living soul.  Very beautiful actually.



This makes me happy.  Little purple flowers waking up from their deep slumber are dotted all over my lawn.  It must really be spring.  *insert happy face*


My knitted flowers look almost as nice as the real thing.  I've got 14 of them now...2 to go before I can join them into a bright and colorful garland.  I can't wait!

So, funny story.  I always have to make two of whatever I am designing.  One goes to the shop so it can be shown off for the class and then one stays with me so that we can do a photo shoot and have a reference in hand for any questions that arise.  Usually the shop gets the first incarnation of and then the second has all the kinks worked out after teaching the class.

I always knit with the class so I can be present in the pattern with them.  So, Knitpicks was having a sock yarn sale and I thought, "Hey I will buy enough bright yarn to make another of these for the photo shoot that is really bright and cheery."



Here is my bright and cheery yarn!  I love the colors!  I love the sparkle yarn for the contrast in between.  I can't wait to make this garland.  BTW it is Knitpicks Stroll, in Brights and Glimmer.

But...when I got my hair cut I was talking about my flowers and the wonderful lady who cuts my hair...that has been cutting my hair for 16 or so years...loved my flower and wants a garland of her own in earth tones.

So...back to Knitpicks I went and got more sale yarn in earth tones and beautiful hues of a different sort.  I am so blessed to have people interested in my designs; I am so thankful to be able to make beautiful things that make people smile.







She wants a Nana Cowl too, so I have to find a yarn that I really adore the drape of to take the place of the sugar yarn I loved so much.  But...that is what MD S & W is for!

Happy Spring and Blessed Easter to those that are celebrating this weekend.

Hugs!
Ruinwen
:)



Sunday, March 29, 2015

At the Root of it All



I was talking to a friend who was excited that it was warm outside and I went outside and it was not warm....in fact, it was 36 degrees.  (At 32 you can see your breath.)  That is not warm to me.  But then again, if you compare 36 degrees to the 17 and below that we had for two or three weeks in the heart of winter, it is warm...really warm.

It is all perception.  If you base your perception on the benchmark of 0 degrees being cold and anything above, say 30 being warm...then today is warm.

Most of what we believe is based upon perception, which may or not be factual or true.  Take for instance these turnips.  I have been getting fresh veggies along with our meat and dairy from our local farm and I never know what they will give me.  These are Hakurei turnips.

I have never seen turnips this small.  My previous perception of turnips was a root veggie that you need to slow cook because it is dense.  I've added them to soups and stews and slow roasted them before and I really enjoy their taste.  But these Hakurei are not at all like their bigger, denser cousins.

My son and I were fascinated by this new veggie and read up on it.  These little guys are harvested in cold weather when they are young.  They are almost like a radish without the hot bite...maybe more like an apple because they have a gentle sweetness to them.  My son really liked them and we sat eating them raw.  They have a great crunch to them.

If you want to keep that crunch then think water chestnuts, and add them to the last part of the stir fry process or in a saute.  They will meld into any flavor and make a great addition to most meals.

They are sown in late Fall until early spring.  They need cooler temps to germinate so I guess it was good that it really wasn't that warm here or I might have missed out on this amazing veggie.

I can't wait to see what new food they send to me next!  I should have taken a picture of the bounty of food we got.  Along with the Hakurei turnips there were green beans, Roma tomatoes, a garlic bulb, broccoli, butter lettuce, carrots, red potatoes and a red pepper.  All these fresh vegetables are forcing us to make even more healthy choices.  Last night we had the most wonderful salad, everything was just bursting with flavor!

Tonight I am making potato soup to have with my salad.  I love potato soup.  I used to put butter and cream in it but now I can't so I am using a bit of olive oil and coconut milk to give it that creamy taste that I love.  The biggest thing that I put in my soup is love...really.


  • I peel and dice the garlic or if there is time I will roast it and add it in.  Today I will just cook it a bit in the oil to get out the yummyness before I add the broth.
  • Then in goes the broth.  I'm using chicken so that it doesn't overpower the gentle flavor of the potatoes but you can always use veggie broth to keep it vegan or even beef broth if you want a deeper flavor.
  • I peel and wash the potatoes and cut them up a bit so they cook faster in the broth
  • I gather herbs - but they are still a bit lethargic right now so dried will have to do:  depending on my mood I use different ones, today I'm using rosemary and thyme for that comforting woodland feeling I get from them.
  • Add any broth you need to cover the potatoes so they cook evenly and you just leave them alone for a while - about a 1/2 hour.  I still check them after 15 minutes just to make sure there is still enough broth.
  • When the cooking is done I mash the potatoes in the broth and at this point the broth turns into a thick puree.  I add in the coconut milk until it is a creamy blend and check the seasonings like salt and pepper and voila - cream of potato soup
Now in our family we usually would then proceed to add in cheese, bacon and / or green onions to make loaded baked potato soup.  I don't have any green onions today and I can't have the cheese (I will add the cheese and bacon for hubby) but a little sprinkle of bacon really adds a little flavor and a bit of texture IMHO.  If you want to keep it vegan then some fried onions would add a bit of crunch and a lot of flavor.  Really, you can top it however your heart desires, this soup is a very giving at it's base because it starts with love.

**********



In the knitting front I finished more squares and put some of them together.  What a burst of color! These little squares are adding the dash of hues that I need to tide me over until spring really makes it appearance here.  I need to make a bunch more but I am truly enjoying how individual each one really is.

I've played around with using crochet or an I cord to edge them with and I think I will go with an I cord because it is lovely and you can use the Kitchener Stitch to attach the ends seamlessly together. I will show that to you later in the process.

Happy crafting!
Ruinwen
:)







Sunday, March 22, 2015

Ostra

please ignore the trash can and our fresh food delivery cooler
I've been working all weekend on coming up with a new class for the LYS and it has been a slow mental grind of numbers and stitches.  Not all patterns come in a flash of inspiration as evidenced by this previous post.

I wanted to make something with flowers to evoke spring...but I'm not sure that spring is quite ready to make an emergence here.  Sure we've had some beautiful warm days but this morning it was back in the 30s and there was frost on my windshield.  Brrr.  Was that snow today?

My LYS wanted something challenging but not too challenging...something with new elements but not too difficult...and something that can be taught in two hours.  There were many, many flowers before I came up with this one.

what a great way to use up leftover sock yarn
I had hoped to have a finished project by the weekend, and now I am just happy to have a flower to show you.

I've never tried something like this before.  You see it was Pi day and I was thinking about how that translates to knitting when you are doing something in pieces and I started doodling with charts and decreases and the like and I came up with a huge mess that curled into itself.  My second flower had a huge...errr...protuberance on the front that made it impossible for it to lie flat.  And this is the 3rd incarnation of my original idea.

I was thinking that it would be nice to be able to use up left over sock yarn when making this pattern. But you could also pick out colors and stagger the flowers in a pleasing way as well.

What pattern you say?  That remains to be seen I suppose.  I have an idea but I need to knit a scad of these little darlings and I'm feeling a little under the weather so...I'm just going to do the best I can.

I've been so good about being focused and working on the secret project, but coming up with a new class sort of put all that on hold.  I think that is what always happens.  I almost finish something and then I get a deadline and just never get back to working on the first project.

I am determined not to do that this time.  That is why I put all these projects into my little app.  My app remembers that I did not finish the secret project and keeps moving it to the next day for me.

I'm trying to tackle my goals the same way that I managed to get rid of my debt:

There are three categories that I assign to everything:  have to, small and long-term

There are the things that you just have to do that must be done first.  These could be things you want to do or have to do but they take first priority.

Then there might be things that seem really small and so you keep putting them off.  These are the things that you should do next.  The reason is that finishing something, even a small something is an accomplishment.  It gives you space.  In Feng Shui one learns that there must be space around things for the energy to flow.  It is the same with your projects...or anything for that matter.  If you finish something then you can breathe a little easier.  The Fly Lady (an organizational guru that helps you get a handle on everything in your life one day at a time) says to start with your sink...and all else will follow.

In between your have to dos and your smalls you might get another have to do...and that shouldn't put you off because life is about ups and downs and doing things and having to do things and if all those things are more or less balancing out then...then sprinkle in a little love, fun and family and that my friends, is living.

After you've got rid of those smalls it is time to take stock of what long-term goals you have going on as well.  Revisit these projects and see which ones can be broken down into smaller goals and treat that section as a small goal working in have tos when they pop up.

When you finish that smaller goal of a larger goal then take on the next piece of your larger goal and work on it...soon your larger goal will be completed and you can move onto the next one.

It is kinda like making a salad.  When you make a salad you don't take on the salad as a whole you break it down into manageable parts.  For example:
  • Clean and wash lettuce and spinach and cut or tear into manageable pieces, put in bowl
  • Clean and wash pepper and dice, put in bowl
  • Clean and wash garlic, mince and stick in oil to meld while I make salad
  • Clean and wash tomatoes and cut up, put in bowl
  • Clean and wash carrots and pare, put in bowl
  • Cut up broccoli florets, and pare stems, put in bowl
  • Mix in some seasoned salt, Craisons, and bacon bits
  • Mix in the oil and then the vinegar
...and voila...I have a salad.  This is the salad I ate last night with some roast beef.

When we make a salad we know that there will be lots of ingredients and steps and that is okay because that is how you make a salad.  If we take that same mindset towards say a sweater then we accept that making a sweater has a bunch of steps as well.  This breaking down of a bigger task can really be applied to anything and makes any large task very manageable.

What does it mean for me?  Right now I am in my have to stage on this new project, but as soon as it is done I will get back to the "secret project" and then I am getting back to finishing up a whole bunch of smalls.  I have patterns that just need a tweak here or there, projects that just need the ends put in, adding a blog roll to my blog and charts that need to be imported.  In a few hours I could really accomplish a lot...and then I need to start chipping away at the next long-term goal and break it down into small goals.

On the whole, even though there is a lot on my list of projects in their various stages, it feels good to know that I've had all these ideas.  When I have an idea I make a folder right away for it and then I add in any notes or swatches or whatever will help me down the road when I get back to it.  Then it goes into my idea drawer and when I finish something I grab one of my idea folders and start working on it.  Not everything works out and most things evolve into something else but that is okay. Life is ever evolving and changing and our goals need to be fluid so they can change as we do.  

I wish you a very Blessed Ostra!  May the dreams that you plant today grow beautiful vibrant fruit.
Hugs,
Ruinwen
:)



Sunday, March 15, 2015

I can't think of a title...so I'm going to make hummus...


I started off the week with a FO (finished object).  This is a shawl that has a lot of meaning to me. I made it for the first time for my Mom as a prayer shawl and I blogged about that here.  It was ruined here.  And I made a new one here.  I still have the brown one down in my knitting room.



I believe in prayer shawls.  I believe that when we craft, we not only put a bit of ourselves into everything but we can put our energy as well.  I made this for a woman who took time to talk to me about my Mom and Dad and her Mom and the things we have to face when we are letting them go. I cried and she cried and we both admitted one thing: in the end it is all about love.

I know the last thing I said to both my parents was, "I love you."  I never leave a conversation with someone I care about without saying that.  If I am with them, I always give them a hug.  I hug everyone that I care about, I think it is important to leave someone with a little love and light.

A prayer shawl is like a hug that you wear.  When our knitting group makes blankets for the assisted living, the residents love that these blankets were made for them.  They use them all the time and talk about them.

Little things really can make a difference.  Kindness does matter.

****************

I normally don't share things like this.  But this touched me deeply.  It is hard to watch without feeling some sort of overwhelming emotion.

My Mom had dementia her Mom had Alzheimer's.  My Mom was very confused on and off in the last few years of her life.  She would forget things like how to turn on a light or even her beloved TV. Thank the Goddess she always remembered us.  I send blessings of love and light to all those people who are faced with people they love forgetting who they are.  You are angels filled with love and compassion.

The experiment really opened up a window on the things that we cannot see.  My prayers go out to all the families struggling with this horrible disease.

****************

I cast on something new this week, but it is a secret for now.  Unfortunately, that doesn't give me much to talk about on the knitting front.  lol

I sent Caitlin off for her photo shoot and I'm so excited to see the pics!

Oh, and this:


I am going to be making some things to sell and see how it goes.  You'll be seeing FO's in the weeks to come after I finish the secret thing.  That is Knitpicks Brava Bulky yarn and it is really soft and has bright and pretty colors.

*************

On a totally different note...I've been looking for hummus without lemon for a while now and I couldn't find any so I made my own.

I have a recipe that I've tweaked over the years with little adds to make it yummy for me so it may be way too strong for you if you don't like garlic.  This hummus is perfect to help ward off anything if you have been around too many sick people or vampires for that matter.  lol

Ingredients
15 oz chick peas / garbanzo beans
1/4 cup tahini

(tahini can cause a reaction if you have a peanut allergy; so please omit it if you are allergic)

2 tbs of olive oil
a head of garlic cloves with the skins removed (use less if you don't like a lot of garlic)
1/2 cup roasted red pepper (roasting really brings out the flavor)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder

(you can make a delightful little chili powder with the heat and chilies you like by taking dried chilies and heating them to get the moisture out, and then pulverizing them when they are crisp - but don't do what I did and lean over to take in how good the cooking chilies smelled and basically pepper-sprayed myself in the face.  I was totally blind trying to find milk.  I ran outside screaming for help and then couldn't find the door again...so be careful with the chili powder concocting...it can be really dangerous.)

...but I digress...

Emeril says to take the garlic and the salt and combine them to cure the garlic a bit; so I put those in first and blend them into a bit of a paste before I add in the roasted red pepper.  This way the garlic permeates into every bit of the hummus.

Then, I add in the cumin and chili powder and blend that into my paste.  Next add the tahini, pulse for a bit and then add the garbanzo beans / chick peas and slowly drizzle in the oil as you pulse.  When the whole thing is blended you can let it sit over-night to deepen the flavors or just enjoy it on anything right now.  I like to eat it on yellow or orange pepper sticks or high grain crackers. Sometimes I will put it on my salad as a dressing.

If it is too thick you can add a little water a tsp at a time - more oil just makes it more oily IMHO


Yum!  Can you smell the garlicky goodness?  Hummus is super good for you, especially with the red peppers and garlic!

And hummus is not just a healthy snack food.  You can:

  • take veggie curls and stuff them with hummus
  • use it as a spread on sandwiches or wraps
  • coat meat in it before putting it on the grill; it will come out moist and tender
  • make a cold pasta salad with it as the dressing
  • make a warm pasta salad with it as the sauce
  • use it as a dressing on a salad


*************************

Happy crafting,
Hugs!
Ruinwen
:)

NOTE:  The prayer shawl is made in Dark Horse, Fantasy Multi #FA-36.  I love this yarn for softness and it really shows the stitches nicely.

Also, we've been updating the side bar.  Wow!  Things were really out of date over there.  We still have a blog feed app to add...we are looking at different ones right now.  Hope you like the changes. Hugs!

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Caitlin



Irony is when you get up at the crack of dawn as a family and go outside with shovels and pix axes and other implements of destruction and chip away at the ice so that the kids will be safe walking on the side walk, only to find out when you get back inside that they closed the schools.

We have had some harsh weather this winter and I've really felt bad for my work dog's walker.  It takes a lot to walk dogs in snow and chip away at frozen water dishes.  Her heart is as big as they come so I wanted to do something to make it a little easier for her.



This is Caitlin, the versatile little cowl that you can pull up to cover your nose or act as a hood.  It will keep your neck warm on those blustery days and it is vibrant with color reminding us that spring will come...eventually.



I made it with 480 yards of  Frolicking Feet Transitions in the Summertime colorway.  This yarn is so yummy!  I have loved watching the colors change.  The blues are so vivid they help me to remember what a sky looks like when it is not grey and dripping with ice.

I also have some Coastal Crusin'.  I'm planning to make a second cowl out of it because I will probably end up giving one to my friend.

This cowl is user friendly.  It has a simple repeat of four rows of gentle ribbing with a CF4 cable dancing in between the columns of color.

Look for the pattern on Ravelry in a few weeks.  I have my fingers crossed for a professional shoot. How cool is that?

So, I have to tell you about something that I just have fallen in love with: 24me.  This is a little app that all of a sudden has just changed my life in so many ways.  First of all, it is hard to define what it is...is it a calendar?  yes ...is it a reminder?   yes...can it store lots of notes in one place and allow me to sort them into categories that are easy to find later? yes...can I ask it to remind me to call someone to schedule something?  Yes...yes...and yes...and so much more.

It all started with my post its.  I had tons of them all over with notes about different things that I needed to remember but I kept losing the notes.  I put all of them into 24me and now they are sorted and I was able to add reminders and other things to them as well.  That was awesome!  I feel like I just completed a Herculean task organizing all those notes!

I set up a grocery reminder that I can add items to. When I run out of something it goes on the list for later.  I set up appointments with a call reminder set up the day before to make sure everything is on schedule.  I feel giddy...its like having my own little personal assistant.

I was talking about helping my focus a few posts ago and this little app does that!  It moves any task I don't complete to the next day and it doesn't get lost in an abyss somewhere.  I'm only using a fraction of what it does do...but this is enough to really help me schedule my life a little better.

I feel great: a post, a project and a new pattern all in one!  Yay for focus!  Hugs everyone and stay safe and warm.

Happy crafting,
Ruinwen
:)

I am not afflicated with 24me or Frolicking Feet I just adore both of them.  :)