Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Here come the holidays

Hello! It's been quiet around here, hasn't it? Too busy to try new recipes or work on crafts? I don't really have any excuse. I'm just lazy. But if there is any time of year that calls for recipes and crafts, it's this time of year! Tomorrow my office is holding a Thanksgiving potluck at lunch time. I'm going to bring some home made mashed potatoes, but what's mashed potatoes without gravy, right? (Personally, I don't need gravy on my potatoes, but this isn't about me.) Not wanting to cave and buy gravy or a mix at the supermarket, I decided to try making gravy from scratch. And because I didn't have any extra pan drippings laying around, I had to find a recipe that substituted drippings with oil or butter. So I kind of melded a bunch of gravy recipes together and came up with something resembling gravy. Since I'm not a big gravy fan, I can't really say for sure if it is good or not, but I'll find out tomorrow!

Since I pretty much winged it, I don't have a real recipe for the gravy, but I'm sure I used at least the following:

Basic roux:
2 tbsp unsalted butter (melt in pot first)
2 tbsp all-purpose flour (add to melted butter)
1 cup broth (I used mushroom broth)

Flavor (stir in as desired):
2 cloves freshly chopped garlic
half onion, chopped
splash of soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste

My office is also holding a cookie exchange and crafts fair in a few weeks. I can't participate in the crafts fair because, well, I don't actually "craft" much, but I am thinking of getting in on the cookie exchange with the Oatmeal Butterscotch. According to the rules, I have to make one dozen cookies per participant. There will be 8 to 12 participants. Yikes. Better make them bite-sized cookies.

Posted by greeeenwithenv to Bumbling Bees - Food at 11/15/2006 07:03:00 PM

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Fun with Fennel

I've been super busy, but now I'm at home recuperating from a nasty cold. A couple of weeks back, I bought some fennel at the local farmer's market. What a lovely vegetable! I've experimented with it a bit; in salads, pasta, and in soup. For those of you who don't like the anise-like flavour, cooking it mellows it out a lot. But for superb crunch and flavour, fresh is the way to go!
Here, I threw together some romaine lettuce with tomatoes, fennel and lemon cucumbers (deliciously crisp, from the farmer's market), topped with some balsamic vinaigrette . Raw fennel bulbs are crunchy. Kind of like celery, but not stringy.

Here's a recipe I got from The Quick Recipe, from the writers of Cook's Illustrated. There were some really great recipes in here. I think I'm going to have to get my own copy some time soon. This is pasta, with tomato, basil, fennel and some parmesan cheese on top. Light and delicious!

And this pot of delight is a tomato, zucchini and fennel soup. It's made extra flavourful with fresh basil, chicken broth and white wine (the first time I'd ever bought alcohol for my own use). It was really simple, an example of the type of recipe you can find in books written by Brother Victor D'Avila-Latourrette. This particular recipe came from his twelve Months of Monastery Soups. What I love about his books is the emphasis on fresh, seasonal ingredients. They're very healthy, and for the most part are very frugal, too.

Posted by Lana to Bumbling Bees - Food at 9/24/2006 02:54:00 PM

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Noodle Sauces

I've been messing around trying to come up with easy sauces to go on my regulation plain white Shanghai noodles since Boyfriend is no longer allowed ramen (see "Health Food Ahoy!"). For a while, I've been depending on my soy-sesame combination. That's this:

1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon or so of sugar
A sprinkling of toasted, crushed sesame seeds.
Toss with noodles. Serves 1.

But after eating that for 2 months, I got bored of it. So here's my new one.

2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sushi rice vinegar (the pre-sweetened kind)
1 teaspoon regular Chinese white rice vinegar
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 stalk chopped scallion (just the green bit)
Light sprinkling of chile flakes
Toss with noodles. Serves 1.

Tastes vaguely like soba. It's good! It'd probably be even better cold, too. At least, until I get bored again...

Posted by Kea to Bumbling Bees - Food at 9/14/2006 12:11:00 PM

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Goodbye, Central Star Ferry Pier

Here's a dying burst of nostalgia for you guys who haven't been back to HK in a while. They're demolishing the Central Star Ferry pier, and building a new one somewhere off by the IFC 2 tower. Here's an article. Click the link to see the picture of the new ferry terminal building - an awkward, Disneyish looking faux-colonial structure seemingly designed by cutting a lot of pictures out of travel magazines and gluing them together. I'm no expert or anything, but it looks like the architect borrowed a bunch of shapes from 19th century British architecture without understanding anything about the structure, proportions or visual balance of those buildings. This is our government's idea of historical and cultural enrichment, by the way. Perhaps I should be glad that it isn't pink, or covered in bathroom tiles.

When you come back to Hong Kong next time, the Central waterfront as you know it will be gone. They're putting a mega-mall on the site of the current pier. And then they're going to reclaim some land and put a highway in front of the mega-mall. If we're lucky, we'll get a strip of park in front of the highway - but nobody's going to bother to cross a highway to get to it, and so the waterfront will be dead, boring, ugly, and hostile to pedestrians - just like Admiralty. There's also some question as to whether the Star Ferry will be able to survive as a business in its new, inconvenient location. It expects to lose a full third of its passengers. Goodbye, Star Ferry, we loved thee well.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Another vague attempt at tailoring

These are the most recent clothes I've made, mostly by reverse-engineering clothes I already had. I used a tank top to get the measurements for the width of the halter top. And I took the measurements for the pants from a pair of gauchos my mom got me from the US, but I made them long instead of mid-calf length. (Calf-length pants annoy me in some way I can't quite describe - it's like they're neither fish nor fowl, or something.)

I can write up instructions if anyone's interested.

Posted by Kea to Bumbling Bees - Sewing at 9/06/2006 07:04:00 AM

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Green bean salad

Now here's a simple one. You can do it in the microwave.

You need:
Green string beans. (I get the foot-and-a-half long, really dark green ones from the Chinese market. I got no idea what they're called. I guess any will do though.)
Peanut butter
Soy sauce (I use Chinese dark soy. Japanese cooking soy is too sour.)
Toasted sesame seeds (Optional. I make these in advance and keep them in a jar.)

1. Wash and break the green beans into 2 inch segments.
2. Put the beans in a big bowl, add a bit of water in the bottom, cover with a plate and nuke on high for 3 or 4 minutes.
3. Pour off a little of the now hot water into a smaller bowl, drain the rest. Run the beans under the cold tap.
4. Melt a small dollop of peanut butter in the hot water. Add an amount of soy sauce equal to the amount of water in your bowl, a couple pinches of sugar, and the sesame seeds. You may have to fudge with the proportions a little. You're going for not too salty, not too sweet, not too bland. It should taste good on its own. Pour it on the beans.
5. Put in fridge until cold.

I read on some website that you should bruise the beans with the back of a knife first to speed their absorption of the dressing. But leaving it in the fridge for an hour accomplishes the same thing.

Incidentally, the same sauce goes pretty good on noodles.

Posted by Kea to Bumbling Bees - Food at 8/31/2006 10:53:00 AM

Greatest Fish Ever

We got one of those mini toaster ovens with an adjustible temperature setting so now I can bake! yay! My digicam power cable's gone missing, so I don't have any photos, but I devised a really awesome way to bake fish last night. This is without a doubt the best fish I've ever made. It's like the typical Cantonese steamed fish with ginger and scallions, but with a twist. Best thing about it is that you don't even need to add any oil since you seal the moisture in with aluminium foil.

1 largish sole fillet (I guess any fish fillet will do, but I like sole. It stays soft and flaky and it's hard to screw up. Also, it's cheap. And most likely environmentally sound to eat. What more could you ask of a fish?)
1 scallion, chopped
A handful of chopped coriander
2 slices of ginger, chopped finely
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce (Chinese)
1 tablespoon lemon juice*
2 teaspoons Tianjiang You. That's a really unusual sweet soy sauce. It tastes almost like pancake syrup. Bought it by accident, now use it for glazing meat. I guess honey's a good substitute.

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius (390 F).
2. Place fish fillet on a large piece of aluminium foil in a baking dish.
3. Spread the ginger, scallions and coriander on top of the fish.
4. Drizzle the lemon juice and soy sauce on top of the fish.
5. Dribble the Tianjiang You evenly over the fish.
6. Take up the corners of the foil and wrap the fish, sealing all the juices and seasonings inside the package.
7. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until white and opaque.

* I used that fake lemon juice you buy in little bottles at the supermarket. It's not very sour. I suggest using less if you squeeze real lemons.

(Question for Lana: If I find a recipe in the book, but then modify it, can I post it up on this blog? Or is that still copyright infringement? No, it's not this one. It's for sponge cake.)

Posted by Kea to Bumbling Bees - Food at 8/31/2006 10:15:00 AM

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Hidden Treasure

I've been so busy - and so tired - lately that I haven't had the time or energy to do much knitting. I've been working 40 hours a week at my day job, and another 10 to 16 hours at night at a restaurant. Thank God I quit the restaurant job (conflicts with one of the managers - a woman), and since the semester is starting soon I've finished up my temporary assignment at my day job, too.

Today was graduate student orientation for the Biology department. Tomorrow, all day long, will be the general graduate student orientation. Then, Friday morning, will be the first TA meeting for the introductory biology course I'm going to be a TA for.

But it feels good to be going back to school. I was in such a positive mood that I decided to try and locate some local yarn shops, something I've been meaning to do since I moved up here in April. Well, the first one I couldn't find, after driving around for half an hour.

The second address I had was for Eastside Weavers, in Troy, NY. The directions were simple enough, but they landed me at a little dead-end street in front of a huge house with a lovely garden, and no signage at all. I didn't want to assault unwitting homeowners with, "Do you sell yarn?" so I was hesitant to try the doorbell. Not a person in sight to ask, either.

Then I noticed a "Come In, We're Open" sign on the garage door. I finally plucked up the courage to ring on the doorbell. I was about to leave when an elderly gentleman opened the door. As he was telling me, "She'll be right with you," the garage door started sliding upwards, and rows and rows of colour greeted my eyes. Yes, I had definitely found it.

Pat Bohrer - who, dyes her own rovings and yarns, spins, weaves and paints silk scarves - taught herself to spin almost 16 years ago. She went to a fiber festival where she saw someone spinning, and wanted to learn. Then her husband bought her a spindle for Christmas, and the rest is history.

Lining the walls of the garage and basement of the house, she has cottons and cotton blends, wools, alpacas, silks and even the hunk of wonder I bought, camel!!! Well, it's a 50% silk, 50% camel laceweight yarn in lovely shades of purple and grey. And Pat is so kind; she took me on a tour of her house to see her looms, and let me play (i.e. try to spin) with a drop spindle while she wound up the yarn into a centre-pull ball for me!

I'm hoping to squeeze out some time in between classes, TA-ing and research to learn how to spin, because Pat offers lessons. This yarn is so special (and a birthday gift to myself), I'm going to have to be on the lookout for an interesting shawl pattern to do it justice. I'm thinking I'll go look at A Gathering of Lace again; I seem to remember them having some spectacular patterns. There's almost 1600 yards in this ball, which should be enough for most shawl projects.

I have tried out a couple of interesting recipes lately, so stay tuned for that!

Posted by Lana to Bumbling Bees - Girls with Purls at 8/30/2006 08:34:00 PM

Monday, August 07, 2006

Hummous recipe

In search of healthy foods, Boyfriend and I decided try making our own hummous. This is because it costs something ridiculous in Hong Kong, so it's actually cheaper to make it ourselves. I also like to be able to control what goes in it. I like a stronger tasting hummous than most people as I don't like the taste of plain chickpeas all that much. Here's a recipe we made up:

1 can 'o chickpeas.
1 tomato
1/2 a bell pepper (or 1/4 red and 1/4 green)
2 cloves garlic
Basil/Italian spices to taste
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tablespoon crushed toasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons medium spicy salsa

1. Chop the vegetables into chunks
2. Drain 2/3 of the liquid out of the can of chickpeas, save the rest.
3. Put chickpeas, liquid, and olive oil into the blender and blend until mashed.
4. Bit by bit, add the veggies, garlic, and seasonings to the blender until everything is all pulped and mixed together.

Okay, I thought the salsa would be weird. Boyfriend suggested it. But I tried it, and I swear it's good. It gives the hummous a slight tangy kick. It's also a bit of a pain to toast and crush the sesame seeds, but it's well worth it. I like to do a whole bunch in one go and store them in a jar. They're good on noodles, too.

It's probably easier to use a food processor, but I don't have one. My blender can handle it if I add the ingredients bit by bit and put it on a low setting. Sometimes things get stuck and I have to stop it and give the pitcher a bit of a shake.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Fishy salad

The recent heat wave in the Bay Area, along with all the summery recipes on this here blog, inspired me to make a yummy dinner salad for myself. But what? I took a daring route and bought fresh fish for the very first time at the market. For some reason I’ve always thought that seafood was difficult to cook, but I like seafood and need more of it in my diet. I selected the cheapest decent looking thing I could find, which was two fillets of rock cod (I think). I also bought some packaged portofino and one English cucumber. I’ve been wanting to test out the brand new vegetable peeler my dad gave me for my birthday. I’m very picky when it comes to peelers, and he picked out a great one (but only after I shot down his first choice).

So when I got home, I rinsed the fish and seasoned it simply with salt, pepper, and some dried garlic and herb, then quickly pan fried it. I used half of the cucumber and peeled off all the skin (rind?), then cut it into random bite-sized pieces. I was in a rush, because I was hungry! The fish was already flaking nicely, so I layed the fish and raw cucumber on a bed of portofino. I drizzled my most favorite sesame and miso salad dressing (this can make anything taste good; if the fish hadn’t turned out well, I would’ve doused the whole dish in this) on top, and finished it off with some sesame seeds and a bit more pepper.


I liked how it turned out. Nothing fancy, but it made me feel good. One fillet was enough for one serving, but I helped myself to another serving of this salad and finished off all the fish. Now I’m not (too) afraid of cooking fish anymore! Yay!

Posted by greeeenwithenv to Bumbling Bees - Food at 7/31/2006 02:21:00 PM

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Patchwork Cushion Cover

Note: I posted this in the sewing blog yesterday but for some reason it did not appear in the main blog.

I've been procrastinating a lot lately, so much that I found myself doing something resembling quilting. I made a patchwork cushion cover for my sofa cushions. I have no sewing machine, no pins, no chalk (I used a felt tip) and no patience for measuring, so making this one cushion took two days. One down, three to go.

My original cushion covers were Hideous Loud Print Orange and Modern Art Lime Green. Boyfriend pronounced them the ugliest pillows on earth. We had just bought them in a hurry so our friends would have something to sit on during our housewarming gathering 2 months ago. It's a small apartment and we don't have enough chairs. Red, blue and plaid is a big improvement. (Remember the plaid cow? It's the same cloth.)

I'm a bit worried about the inside seams fraying all over the place since I didn't have the patience to bind them all individually. I'm thinking of buying some of that iron-on interfacing and sticking it on. I'd just have to get an iron first. I'm also wondering how it would fare in the washing machine. I left about an inch of room for shrinkage, but what if the different kinds of cloth shrink differently? Oh well, I guess I'm not washing them anytime soon. I wonder if the laundromat will cold wash them and then give them back to me wet to hang out to dry?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Health Food Ahoy!

Last month, Boyfriend got his blood tested and his cholesterol is through the roof. The maximum amount of cholesterol a person should have - he's got twice that amount. But if you looked at his diet last year when he was living alone, you wouldn't be surprised. I'm sure you've all heard horror stories about what males living alone survive on. Eggo waffles. Hotdogs. Canned foods. Cup noodles. McDonalds. It's not that Boyfriend can't cook. He just lost the motivation do so, having a soul-sucking 6 day a week job which left him with no energy except to sleep and watch TV. On top of that, he has this morbid curiosity about combinations of food that can only be described as revolting. He got to the point where boiling ramen was too much work. He ate cream of mushroom soup straight out of the can. He ate half a package of ham for lunch. Not ham sandwiches, mind you, just the ham. He ate ketchup on rice, with crabsticks. And possibly mayo. He snacked on cocktail cheese sausages as if they were potato chips. Vegetables were either of the frozen variety, or a can o' corn.

So now he's on medication and he's not allowed to have red meat, eggs, junk food, processed meats, or full cream dairy anymore. We read labels for trans fats (especially horrible in Asia where they put palm oil in everything packaged). We made hummus (it's too expensive to buy ready made here). We bought olive oil (also crazy expensive here). I'm grilling the chicken. I'm steaming the fish. I'm steaming the veggies. We're looking into cheese substitutes, butter substitutes, and meat substitutes. I'm buying those plain white Shanghai noodles instead of the eggy kind. And rice vermicelli. We replaced ham with smoked chicken because turkey costs too much. Tofu is our friend.

But now I'm craving cookies all the time. I open the fridge, look at the food, close the fridge, walk around the apartment, open the fridge again, and sigh. Oh, what I'd do for a chocolate chip cookie...

Posted by Kea to Bumbling Bees - Food at 7/25/2006 01:26:00 PM

Coin Pouch

This is the other thing I've been doing instead of work. Boyfriend has this tendency to destroy his coin pouches. The zippers break. The seams split. I don't even know how you can split a seam in leather. Objects in his pockets must be subject to forces normally seen only at the centre of black holes.

I was at a craft store with my mother last week and spotted some hinged metal clasps. This eliminates the need for zippers. I got some extremely heavy denim and made a pouch leaving a whole 3/4 centimetre seam allowance, and then bound up all the edges with V stitching so that they won't fray. If this thing isn't indestructible, I don't know what is.

Posted by Kea to Bumbling Bees - Sewing at 7/25/2006 01:17:00 PM

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Grilled Eggplant Salad

I had the most delightful dinner tonight! Moocow sent me a recipe for a grilled eggplant salad, and I decided to try it out tonight. I didn't have the mint or parsley that was called for in the recipe, so I used fresh cilantro instead.

To go with it, I made some cold soba noodles. The perfect, light summer meal. Thanks, Moocow! And long live the aubergine! I adore you with all my heart and tummy!

Posted by Lana to Bumbling Bees - Food at 7/20/2006 07:44:00 PM

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

From Garden to Plate

So those seedlings I started last month have, for the most part, grown and thrived. The borage, as you can see, has grown like a weed.

The basils, marigold, parsley and sage are great, too. Even the dill looks pretty healthy.

But the chives just aren't growing, something in the garden really likes nibbling on my nasturtium leaves, I'm not sure the calendula has come up at all, and I can't decide whether that stuff is chamomile, or a weed. The oregano could not be coaxed out of the soil. I think I'll have to try again with that one!

Still, I'm having fun! I wish I had time and space, and money, to plant all the things I want to grow. Several more kinds of basil, three or four varieties of mint, scented geraniums, thyme, lavender, rosemary, and vegetables!! Next year, I shall vegetables!

But, baby-steps. I've got my herbs, and I know how to use 'em! It was so hot today, even this evening, it was painful turning on the stove for a quick pasta with olive oil, green peppers, tomatoes and garlic. So I turned out two extra, easy "salad" items to stimulate my appetite.

Tomatoes with fresh basil from my garden, lightly drizzled with olive oil, and a cucumber salad with a yogurt-dill dressing (augmented with some dried dill, because my little dill plant isn't up to major harvesting yet). Pesticide-free, organic herbs that I've been waiting for! Ahhhhh!

Posted by Lana to Bumbling Bees - Gardening at 7/17/2006 09:10:00 PM

Friday, July 14, 2006

What am I supposed to do now?

This is how big my plant has gotten now. Just look at this thing! I've already run out of stalk for it to climb up.

I don't understand why it's not growing more leaves. I see a few leaf buds, a couple of leaflets, even. But mostly it's just making more and more vine. Not enough sunlight, maybe?

I've tried moving it to a sunnier location (the middle of my bedroom floor, very awkward), but I still don't think it's enough. My apartment just does not get that much sun.

Would it help if I nipped the terminal bud off?

Posted by Kea to Bumbling Bees - Gardening at 7/14/2006 04:27:00 AM

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Mondo Democracy Bean of Doom

Okay. You know my democracy plant? The one I posted about two days ago? It's this big now.
It grew six inches in 2 days. I transplanted it to a bigger container, and it's already outgrowing it - the roots are starting to stick out the holes on the bottom. You can see the white roots pressing up against the side of the plastic.

Help! What the $*!#^ is this plant?? I have never seen anything grow this fast! Soon it's going to take over my kitchen, strangle the parrot, swamp the apartment building, strand Boyfriend in the elevator for a week without a machete, and colonise the entire block.

Meanwhile, in this week's news, Hong Kong's notorious and much reviled former Minister of Security Regina Ip, a woman who made Maggie Thatcher seem nurturing in comparison, has undergone a full political conversion and announced her support for democracy. Maybe this plant is an omen.

Posted by Kea to Bumbling Bees - Gardening at 7/08/2006 04:00:00 PM

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

My democracy plant

Meet my democracy plant. I got it at the democracy protest last saturday. Audrey Eu (the politician) was selling them. I don't know if you've seen these things, but they come as a big bean inside a ceramic egg. You're supposed to crack the top off the egg and water it, and hey presto, a bean plant with appropriately Festive Phrase (tm) printed on the side grows out. I have no idea how they do this - the bean pod itself was blank, so how did they get the words on the plant? It's magic. Unfortunately, I dropped the egg on the tram on the way home - the bottom just fell out of the paper bag! I was sad. I broke my democracy egg.

But I planted the bean anyway, and here's what I got. It says "universal suffrage" upside-down, in Chinese. Sorry I couldn't get a less blurry photo.

I'm gonna try really, really hard not to kill it. Maybe if it grows, we'll get some democracy? Come on magic bean, do your work.

Posted by Kea to Bumbling Bees - Gardening at 7/05/2006 03:47:00 PM

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Lunch Bag

This is what I spent most of yesterday making. I bought a Japanese craft book while I was in Japan, and I've been intending to make a couple of the bags in it (this one is a lunch bag, or a "bento bag") for a while.

Now that I'm settled in, I felt a hankering to take my sewing machine out. On Friday, after work, I passed by the Jo-ann's and went in to see if I could find a fabric to make into a shower curtain. I think I found what I wanted; it's a semi-transparent, linen-look fabric with see-through, coloured areas that form leaves and flowers on a cream background. I didn't have the shower stall measurements with me, though, so I didn't buy it. (You can't return fabric once it's been cut off the bolt!)

But, of course, I couldn't just leave without browsing the other fabrics!! I knew I wanted to make this style of bag, with the cute, handkerchief-style tied top. Then I found this pretty butterfly fabric.

The instructions were in Japanese, of course. The diagrams were fairly detailed, but with only the bare bones for instruction. I'm positive that some details were missing (for example, diagrams for cutting fabrics included a lining fabric, but the materials list didn't), and it isn't perfect, but it's functional!

I'm sure it will look better with an actual lunch inside to fill it out, instead of just my wallet and a notebook.

I'm going to sew another bag this weekend, hopefully. Andrea's birthday is coming up, and I know her handbag is falling apart at the seams. I just have to figure out how to attach the lining so that the seams are all enclosed (unfortunately, not the case with this bag), and how to attach the zip. It's been years and years (at least 6, by my count) since I've put in a zipper, and I've only ever put in 3!

Her birthday is July 3rd, and I'll be away on a roadtrip until the 4th, so I'll post pictures of the finished product after that.

Posted by Lana to Bumbling Bees - Sewing at 6/25/2006 11:46:00 AM

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Snoopy Shrank!

Did you ever buy ice-cream from one of those ice-cream trucks as a kid? There used to be one parked outside my grade school every afternoon after classes. You could get some pretty good stuff for 50-cents then: fake cigarettes that would blow out "smoke" (powdered sugar or something similar), push-pops, bubblegum tape, Nerds, ice-cream cones and bars........ You can't get any of that for 50-cents anymore.

Did you ever get one of those Snoopy ice-cream bars? I seem to remember them being a pretty good size (huge, to a seven-year-old), and Snoopy had a bubblegum nose. Had. Today, the company I'm working for had an ice-cream truck park outside and hand out stuff for free. It had been so long - it was a trip down memory lane - but I asked for Snoopy. Well, he was much smaller than I recalled him being. He came in the same-sized packaging as any regular ice-cream bar. And no longer did he have the pink, Rudolph-esque, bubblegum nose. Even though it was free, I still feel cheated. Is nothing sacred?!

Posted by Lana to Bumbling Bees - Food at 6/21/2006 09:15:00 PM

Monday, June 19, 2006

Father's Day Dinner

I took greenwithenvy's advice and decided not to buy my dad a present for father's day. Instead I cooked him and my mother dinner. Admittedly, I've never done this before. My mom seems to think I'm barely capable of feeding myself. When I was younger I was barely allowed in the kitchen during weekdays lest I drop a crumb. Okay, so once I set the toaster oven on fire and exploded an egg in the microwave. So? So I chose an idiot-proof menu.

Salad, Hong Kong Style. I had to leave the country to find out that salad should consist of more than iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers. I mean holy crap, people put blocks-o-tofu in salad? You mean sweet corn isn't meant to be in there at all? People eat broccoli raw?! But fancy salad vegetables cost an eyeball in Hong Kong, and my parents like their Hong Kong style salad, so that's what I did.

Broiled spicy chicken legs. I marinated the chicken in the ketchup-Filipino chili sauce-soy sauce combo I invented. Can't go wrong with that! Plus it was something new to my parents, different from the usual soy sauce chicken. Unfortunately, I'm not used to their oven and I didn't expect it to take an hour too cook. My grill at home threatens to reduce everything to a crisp within 15 minutes. Oops. At least chicken legs are pretty idiot proof. You can't overdo them. But the only way I've made edible, non-rubbery chicken breast was by pure dumb luck.

Pasta with raw tomatoes and fried mushrooms. I kind of made the recipe up last week based on stuff I've seen on TV. Olive oil, basil, lots of garlic, salt, fry mushrooms in it, toss with pasta and chunks of raw tomato. I forgot the cooking wine. More salt. Dash of Maggi sauce (that's Boyfriend's trick). Sugar to counteract the sour. Yet more salt. More sugar. And finally it tasted right. It was another new thing for my parents. My dad's forever moaning about finding cream sauce in his pasta. He's a health nut who never fails to extol the benefits of olive oil. So I made him pasta the Healthy Way, for once. (Don't tell him how much salt and sugar I put in it. He also never fails to propound the evils of them both.)

All in all, a successful meal. Nothing tasted bad, I didn't blow anything up, I didn't break anything, and nobody got food poisoning. I think. Yay.

Posted by Kea to Bumbling Bees - Food at 6/19/2006 09:42:00 PM

Life Is Miraculous

It was sunny, then rainy, by turns this past Saturday. I got up early in the morning because the weather forecast had been for blazing heat, and I wanted to work in the garden before it became swelteringly hot. I managed to break up and loosen the soil in my plot, and prune the rose bushes, before the rain really started coming down.

Then I retreated into the house to plant the seeds I'd planned to start indoors. These included four kinds of basil, parsley, dill, oregano, sage, chives, cilantro, and marigold and heartsease for fun.

I went to a local garden centre and bought some Jiffy peat pellets just for that purpose. This being my first major seed-starting enterprise (I did plant a couple of things in Japan), I decided to make things a little easier on myself.

The Jiffy pellets are easy. They come dried in little discs, and you soak them in water until they've expanded, complete with a little dimple on top where you plant the seeds. I put two or three seeds (depending on the size of the seed; oregano seeds are so small they're almost dust, whereas coriander seeds are a relatively big) into eat dimple. Then you cover the seeds (if the packet says to cover them; some seeds need light to germinate) with a tiny bit of potting soil or seedling mix.

I planted 3 sweet basils, 3 Italian parsleys, 2 garden sages, 2 chives, 2 Sweet Dani Lemon basils, 2 Spicy Globe basils, 2 Siam Queen basils, and one each of fernleaf dill, oregano, cilantro, marigold and heartsease. As you can tell, I love basil! But the two flowers (marigold and heartsease) are edible, too.

The basil seeds were pretty amazing! They started out small and black, with a hard, shiny coating. After I dropped them into the damp peat pellets, they started reacting within minutes!! They developed an almost fuzzy, translucent, white coating that you can see in the picture.

After planting indoors, the rain had stopped and so I went outdoors and direct-seeded some chamomile, calendula, borage and nasturtiums. That was Saturday, and I had all my seeds planted for the moment. Yeah, it's kind of late to start seeds, but I ordered mine online, and they didn't arrive until after the housewarming.

Then this morning, before work, I went to see if any of my seeds had germinated. Once they do, you need to give them good light. I wasn't really expecting to see anything, but lo and behold! A germinating winner!
The marigold, which had had such pretty - but insubstantial-looking - seeds, had sent up a shoot! I think that's pretty amazing.

And today, after work, I noticed one of my Sweet basils, and a Siam Queen, had germinated, too!

Posted by Lana to Bumbling Bees - Gardening at 6/19/2006 09:24:00 PM

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Bread Pudding

We had so many bread crusts left from the housewarming party that I decided to make bread pudding from it.

I'd never made, or even eaten, bread pudding before, but Andrea called her mother to ask for the recipe (she had it once as a child), and it was really simple. Throw a bunch of stuff, including eggs, milk, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, raisins and the bread, into a pan and bake/steam. It turned out pretty well, and Andrea certainly enjoyed it. Despite being lactose intolerant, she popped her Lactaid pills and ate 3/4 of the pan!

Posted by Lana to Bumbling Bees - Food at 6/18/2006 10:45:00 AM

Saturday, June 17, 2006

My Rocker

I've always wanted a rocking chair, and I didn't have any of my own chairs in the apartment. Unfortunately, Andrea's futon couch and papasan chair are too big for me, and don't provide me with any back support; not good when I'm trying to knit.

So I've been checking the local Craigslist postings constantly, on the lookout for a nice armchair or rocking chair. I drove out to Waterford, NY, on Wednesday (about 20 minutes away, or it should have been!), proceeded to get thoroughly lost, but bought this gliding rocker set (the ottomon rocks, too!) from the owner - on the spot - for $25. Yay!!!!!


I promised an in-depth discussion about my crumpet-making experiences when I wrote about the housewarming, so here it is.

First of all, let me say that, even though they look like pancakes and look like they'd be simple, crumpets are actually not, at all! You have to let the batter rise twice; once after you add yeast, the second time with the addition of baking soda. And there's a technique to cooking them, too.

I had to substitute active dry yeast for instant yeast, since that's all I had. After the second rising, the batter is supposed to be dotted with air-bubbles. I only had a couple, but I decided to forge ahead as it was getting late. I followed the recipe in The Bread Bible exactly. As the recipes there are usually very exact, and produce good results (that's where I got my scone recipe), I thought I'd be okay.

But I ran into problems and, never having eaten or made crumpets before, I had to think on my feet. The batter was really thick, and didn't want to spread out into the crumpet ring once I'd poured it onto the griddle. And there weren't any holes forming on top. The little holes, from air bubbles, are essential. Without them, they looked more like English muffins (but Andrea, who'd had crumpets before, said they definitely tasted like crumpets)!

Well, I figured the reason the bubbles weren't forming was tied into the reason why the batter wasn't spreading. It was just too thick. With more water, and a thinner batter, the bubbles didn't have to work as hard to expand through the batter. So I kept adding water until I was happy with the consistency. I ended up with a pancake batter-like consistency in the end, liquid enough to spread when poured, but still thick enough not to run out from the edges of the crumpet ring.

Watching my crumpets cook, I learned some other things. Heat is key. You have to cook crumpets really slowly. The recipe says to cook them for 10 minutes on one side, and I thought it must be a mistake, but it's not. You have to have the heat set low enough that you can cook the crumpet through to the top side from the bottom, without burning the bottom.

Why cook through to the top, you ask? The slow cooking, and the heat, brings the air bubbles to the top surface, producing the characteristic holes in the top of the crumpet. You have to cook until the batter at the top is pretty much set so that, when you flip the crumpet over to lightly brown the other side, you won't end up "erasing" the holes. So, low heat, cook through to the top, and flip over. Thank God for non-stick! At least I didn't have to worry about heavily buttering the griddle or the rings; they slipped right out! The double griddle was definitely a good investmnet!

You can keep the crumpets overnight in a paper bag (which I did for the housewarming) and toast them to heat them back up before serving. Then you can serve with butter, honey, jams, or preserves, or all of the above.

Posted by Lana to Bumbling Bees - Food at 6/17/2006 09:24:00 AM

Monday, June 12, 2006

Makeshift plant pots

One of Boyfriend's friends brought me a couple of little plants at our housewarming party. The pots they came in looked way too small, though, so I transferred them into these plant pots I made out of jumbo distilled water bottles.

It was amazingly hard to poke holes in the bottom for drainage. I tried hammering it with a nail, to no avail. I actually had to get my electric drill out. The plastic is really thick there! Add a few strings and a hook, and they hang from my kitchen window bars. I think they're kind of cute in a DIY sort of way. (Right now they're above the sink, dripping. Plus the backlighting at the window makes it difficult to photograph them there.)

I've got leaves turning yellow already. I can never tell if it means I'm watering too little, or watering too much...

Weather's been miserable lately. It's been raining for 2 weeks straight. Blech. My parents are probably real peeved because it means they can't play tennis (they're both obsessive about it.) Hmm.. Which reminds me. Father's day is coming up. What to do, what to do? Ma's easy. Just get flowers. Never know what to get for Dad, since anything he wants he'll just go and buy himself.


"Baking" with Kea

AAfter seeing all those amazing and wonderful pictures of food Lana baked for her party, I'd like to show you what passes for baking at my house.

1. Ingredients.
- Oatmeal
- 1 egg white
- hot water
- quarter teaspoon cooking oil
- Chinese cabbage leaf
2. Here's the cabbage chopped up really really small. Normally I use a chunk of steamed sweet potato, or some grated carrot, or some mashed banana, (or any combination of the above), but I
didn't have any today.
3. Mix everything up in a bowl. Look at that slop! Mmm.... Slop.
4. Nuke in microwave on high for about 3-4 minutes. I don't actually have an oven here. Pry out of bowl. Let cool. You get this sort of bread-textured pancake thing here.

Are you thoroughly grossed out yet? Really, really, grossed out? Having trouble holding your lunch down grossed out?
5. My satisfied customers.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Housewarming - A Success Story

I know, I know. What an arrogant post title! But really, I think I deserve it. And I was so relieved when everything went fairly smoothly.

So, what goes into planning and hosting a housewarming teaparty for ten people? Well, as you know, I started pondering and trying to set the menu about 2 weeks beforehand. I agonized over whether or not I had enough teacups - even mismatched ones - when it seemed as though it was going to be a party for sixteen.

Then, the weekend and Monday and Tuesday before, I tested out some recipes. I tried a honey castella cake recipe taken from a Japanese book but, due to lack of an accurate scale (all Japanese recipes list ingredients mainly in grams) and electric mixer, it didn't turn out well. I also tried out the scone recipe from The Bread Bible, sans currants, which I did end up using.

I had work every day, of course, but here's what I did from Wednesday evening to Saturday, when the actual housewarming was.

Wednesday: Stop by Walmart to pick up last of household items. Plan out quantities of ingredients, baking, cooking and cleaning schedule. Erin lends us her electric mixer, thank God!!!

Thursday: Drop by the supermarket to pick up stuff for baking. Bake pumpkin bread. Kitchen cleanup. Cook and eat dinner. Make lunch for next day. Kitchen cleanup. Bake lavender cookies. Vacuum the apartment. Tidy up my room and living room. Kitchen cleanup. See a pattern here?

Lavender cookies and Tarragon Chicken Salad sandwiches.

Friday: Pick up hardware for Andrea to hang pictures. Drop by the supermarket to pick up salad ingredients. Bake madeleines. Kitchen cleanup. Help Andrea decide where to hang her pictures, and hang them. Make and eat dinner. Cook lunch for next day. Kitchen cleanup. Make batter for crumpets and allow to rise twice. Meanwhile, start making tarragon chicken salad. Clean and tidy pantry, closet and laundry room. Do laundry and bedding. Cook crumpets - crumpets are more difficult than they look. (Another post devoted to that in coming days, so stay tuned to learn all I learnt about crumpets!) Finish making tarragon chicken salad. Kitchen cleanup. Scrub down bathroom, except for floors.

From left to right: blueberry preserves, apple butter, pear preserves. Madeleines.

Saturday: Last-minute tidying up. Take out garbage. Andrea vacuums kitchen. Clean all windows. Vacuum and mop living room, dining room, my bathroom and laundry room. Prune and water plants. Bake scones. Scrub and clean kitchen counters and cooking range. Mop living room again because landlady stopped by with baby, who threw up. Andrea mops kitchen, cuts crusts off sandwich bread. Slice cucumbers really thinly. Last minute tidy ups.

Forty-minutes until guests arrive: Put food out onto plates. Set table. Andrea puts sandwiches together. Preheat oven to toast crumpets. Run down to garden to cut some roses for the table.

Flaky scones. I forgot to take pictures of the finished crumpets, but there they are on the left.

Guests arrive: I've always heard that it's considered polite to arrive slightly late, never early, to your host/hostess' place, because they probably have last-minute preparations to make, and you don't want to catch them when they're still running around like headless chickens. Our guests arrived ten, twenty, thirty, and eighty minutes late. A nightmare. In fact, pretty rude considering one of them was watching the World Cup, and another was at a dog show. If I was going to arrive eighty minutes late to a small gathering where everyone would be waiting for me before food or water could pass their lips, I would have made my excuses and not have come. But that's just me.

Apart from that, and the fact that the water couldn't boil quickly enough to suit me, everything went pretty well once everyone had arrived. Conversation and tea flowed more or less non-stop. People mingled and met, and the air was heady with the perfume of butter and roses. People mingled and met, and there was more than enough to eat (something I worried abuot when I thought we were having fifteen or sixteen people coming). In fact, as one guest put it, we were eating for two hours! People even took food home in doggie bags and asked for recipes, which I will take as a compliment.

It was crazy, it was hectic. But it was a job well done. I got to try lots of new recipes, and miraculously they all turned out well; even the crumpets, which - at around 11:30 p.m. on Friday night - I had considered not serving. It's served the purpose of forcing Andrea and me to finish the last of our unpacking, and we're now officially settled in. Yes, I can heave a great sigh of relief and satisfaction, and sleep most of the day away on Sunday, which I did.

Posted by Lana to Bumbling Bees - Food at 6/11/2006 03:06:00 PM

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Mysterious Workings of Gauge

I had some yarn left over from knitting Blue Skies, so I decided last night to look through my knitting patterns and magazines to see if the Dale of Norway Stork yarn could be used for any other projects I've been wanting to knit.
There's this Victoria Tank by Veronik Avery in the Summer '04 issue of IK. The yarn called for in the pattern has a recommended gauge of 26 stitches to 4-inches, and the Stork yarn's is 32 stitches to 4-inches - completely different.

But the actual pattern gauge is 29 stitches to 4-inches in the lace vine pattern you see in the picture. Anyway, I figured it was worth trying out and, what do you know, the gauge is pretty darn close after blocking! It might require some minor tweaking of lengths and stuff, but nothing too major. I think I'll knit it in white, just like in the picture, because I don't have any nice, white tank tops. Or navy blue with white trim might be nice, too.

I'll probably order the yarn online from here. It can be intimidating at first, and troublesome, but I usually end up substituting and using a different yarn from what's used in a pattern. Sometimes it an issue of cost, sometimes it's because I don't like the colours available. Sometimes it's difficult getting your hands on the recommended yarn! I've still to go hunting out yarn shops in the area, but I've already done my computer research and made a list. That will be for after the housewarming.

Posted by Lana to Bumbling Bees - Girls with Purls at 6/04/2006 05:17:00 PM

Crumpet Rings; Where Art Thou?

It's not easy, finding crumpet rings. I thought I'd be able to go the cheap option by cutting out the top and bottom of some tuna fish-sized tins (as suggested in The Bread Bible), but have you taken a look - a real look - at tins these days?

When I was little, the tops and bottoms of canned food tins were the same, with the raised ring on the outside and a flat, smooth circular area in the middle. Of course, they didn't stack very securely; pulling one off the shelves was likely to have the whole display coming down.

Well, I'm happy and sad to report that packaging designers finally did something about that. Food tins now have a rounded, convex bottom that fits neatly into the space of another tin's top, allowing them to stack more securely. However, can openers can't deal with the bottom of the tin. I couldn't cut off the bottoms of several slightly different "models" that I bought.

So, back to the problem of finding something to use as crumpet rings. I've been around to the Walmart, K-Mart, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and Linens N' Things, as well as several supermarkets in the area. Nobody's selling plain, round cookie cutter rings anymore!! What's with that?

I was beginning to despair, until I saw this double griddle set at Bed Bath and Beyond, for $20 with a $10 rebate, complete with four whatever-you-want-to-call-them rings. I've hummed and I've hawed; I don't really need/deserve a griddle. Andrea has a small, circular, cast-iron griddle and I was only looking to buy four little crumpet rings! Then there's the whole health issue with non-stick surfaces these days. But (looking on Ebay), buying a set of crumpet rings would cost more than ten dollars anyway. And I could use this to make pancakes and french toast and stuff. We don't have any non-stick pans in the apartment.........

So, what do you think? Should I forget serving crumpets for my housewarming tea party and return the double griddle? Or should I keep it? I need to decide in the next two or three days. Help!

Posted by Lana to Bumbling Bees - Food at 6/04/2006 04:56:00 PM

Friday, June 02, 2006

Sweater Debut

It was so hot when I finished my Blue Skies sweater that I, very confidently, said that it was probably too warm to wear for this spring. It's practically summer, after all.

Well, we had a terrific thunderstorm yesterday evening, and some torrential rainfall. It cooled things right down, and it was rather nippy this morning. My workplace is kind of cold, too, so I got to wear my new sweater after all! Since it was just to work - and then grocery shopping afterwards - there aren't any pictures. But I'm so glad I've gotten to wear it at least once!

Posted by Lana to Bumbling Bees - Girls with Purls at 6/02/2006 09:37:00 PM

Chili sauce discovery

I've been on the lookout for a bottle of Thai Sriracha chili sauce, but I've had no luck so far. Lee Kum Kee and Amoy seem to have a duopoly hold on all sauces at the supermarkets. I got addicted to the stuff back in Boston, where it was very easily found in the Chinatown. It has more flavour (probably garlic, I dunno) than the plain old Lee Kum Kee.

But I was quite surprised and pleased to find a small Filipino grocery on my block. Lots of instant noodles and snacks to try. They didn't have Sriracha, but I decided to try a brand of chili sauce called Sambal Asli. Comes in a big glass bottle like ketchup. Trying to control the amount that ends up in your food is rather tricky. But if you don't mind accidentally blowing your head off once in a while, the stuff is great!

Makes an excellent chicken marinade. Mix an equal quantity of chili sauce and ketchup, a dash of soy sauce, and marinate your chicken in it for 15 minutes before stir-frying. I'm going to try grilling next.

On a totally unrelated topic, check out this Fashion Roadkill blog. (Find more entries on the right hand menu.) Hong Kong's streets are populated with some of the most garishly and outlandishly dressed people you've ever seen outside of Japan, and this blogger's got her camera ready to capture them all. Some of it's old hat. (I mean, have you ever seen a middle-aged lady here who wasn't colourblind?). But a few of the pictures had me guffawing.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

First Feathers

I started the Peacock Feathers Shawl (from Fiddlesticks Knitting) yesterday. It isn't much to look at right now, especially when it's all curled up as it is in the photo on the left.

But I'm so excited! It's my first pattern from Fiddlesticks Knitting, although I bought another pattern of theirs at the same time; the shawl with all the sea creatures on it! If this shawl goes well, I'm going to try that one, too. They really do have beautiful shawl patterns. Too bad I can't say the same for some of their other patterns!

And, so far, it has been going well. Of course, I've barely begun, and it's been a fairly simple overall repeating pattern so far. But I'm about to start on the next stage.

The finished shape is triangular, with the side that's the hypotenuse going across your shoulders, and a point down the centre back.

Because you start by casting on three stitches, and keep increasing every row, I thought the shawl would be growing from the bottom-centre tip upwards. Instead, it starts centered at the nape and grows down and out from there, the peacock feathers spreading outwards diagonally. Pretty cool, huh?

Posted by Lana to Bumbling Bees - Girls with Purls at 6/01/2006 05:59:00 PM

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Blue Skies

Memorial Day weekend was hot and muggy. I finished this spring/fall sweater, from Rebecca No. 27, that I've been working on since last spring, but I think it's already too warm to wear it. I'm naming it Blue Skies because the weather was lovely (though hot) when I finished it, and the names that appear in Rebecca magazine are just too boring.

However, the storm clouds blew in today on strong gusts of wind and, with the break in the heat (I don't have air-conditioning) I decided to vacuum the floors and model my sweater!

The sleeves are the teensiest bit tight. They look that way in the magazine, but I might want it a little looser. That's okay, though. Next time I wash it, I'll just block the sleeves a little larger; there's still a lot of give. Overall, I'm really happy with the way it turned out.

Pattern: Sweater with Lace Pattern and Cables, No. 19 from Rebecca 27 (see what I mean about boring names?)

Start Date: Spring, 2005

End Date: 29 May, 2006

Yarn: Dale of Norway Stork (100% cotton)

Colour: #6, a pale, powdery blue

Yarn Source: Capital Yarns (Chantilly, VA)

Yarn Cost: $5.25/ball. I think I got six, and used about 5.

Needles: Really old (Boye?) straight needles I got from my mom, Sz 3 (3.25mm), and Pony 3.25mm circulars (80cm long) for finishing the neckline.

Size Made: I made the smaller size.

Pattern Changes: I didn't follow the stitch pattern chart correctly. The eyelets should have been on different rows from the rows with cable crosses. I ended up doing them on the same row; it made remembering the pattern a lot easier.

I had to made some changes on the sleeve shaping, where it increased at the bottom from the cuff. I inreased every 8th row 11 times, then on every sixth row. I wrote those changes down in my notes. Unfortunately, I forgot to write down why I did that, and now I can't remember.

I didn't bind off the centre-front or centre-back stitches, just put them on stitch holders and knit them when it came time to finish the neckline.

Comments: This was my first pattern from Rebecca. I remember seeing some old issues of it in the archives of one of Cornell's libraries, but it was all in German. Recent issues have come with an English-translated booklet. I'd always heard that Rebecca patterns are well-written, but this one did give me some problems, and it was right at the beginning. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out how the stitch pattern fit into the number of stitches I was supposed to cast on. It wasn't just me, either. I took the pattern to the ladies at Capital Yarns, and we spent 15 minutes figuring out exactly what the pattern direction meant. It was very counter-intuitive. Not clear at all.

But, once past that initial hurdle, it was smooth sailing from there. Shaping-wise, this sweater isn't difficult at all. The challenge for me was that it's my first sweater with an all-over pattern that I had to accomodate to increasing and decreasing for the sleeves, armholes and neckline. It's not exactly perfect, but it's still a sweater I'll be proud to wear. I'll look back fondly on those mistakes, hopefully, and know exactly what went wrong.

Of course, no rest for the addicted. I told Moocow today that I absolutely had to start another lace project, to get my fix. I don't have the budget to buy any new yarn right now, so I have to work with what's already in my stash. The only lace-weight yarn that's in my stash at the moment is some KnitPicks Shadow I bought because Moocow said she liked the colour, Oregon Coast.

The colours are a little more intense - though still very subtle - in real life, but you can probably see from the photo on the left that it's a beige-y rainbow colour. The overall colour is beige, but there are green, blue and purple highlights. Really rather nice. (By the way, can anyone figure out why I can't take pictures on the macro setting with my camera without huge shadows at the bottom? I've tried everything!)

Moocow said that she likes the Peacock Feathers Shawl pattern from Fiddlesticks Knitting and, joy of joys, I had bought that pattern a while back, because I really like it, too.

So today I started with a little gauge swatch. The pattern comes with directions for knitting a gauge swatch in one of the patterns that appears on the shawl. The swatch on the left has been blocked. It's smaller than the pattern gauge (I'm using thicker yarn and smaller needles), but Moocow's arm-span is only 64", and the pattern's measurement is 88".

What do you think, Moocow? Should I proceed?

Posted by Lana to Bumbling Bees - Girls with Purls at 5/30/2006 06:03:00 PM

Monday, May 29, 2006

Finishing Sweaters

I've been noticing for a while that many - perhaps even most - knitters don't enjoy finishing a sweater. That is, blocking it, weaving in loose ends, sewing up seams, adding buttons or whatnot; the non-knitting part of knitting.

Faced with the general lukewarm attitude of even experienced knitters towards finishing, it's no wonder that I approached it warily. Maybe that's why I put off making sweaters for such a long time. I tackled knitting with double-pointed needles and circulars, colour knitting, knitting backwards and knitting continental-style, all before my first sweater. It wasn't the knitting techniques that intimidated me, it was the finishing. And you hear horror stories of finishing done sloppily, or gone wrong, that ruined what would have been a lovely sweater.

I've realised that finishing off doesn't bother me too much. Yes, I need some quiet time to devote to it, so I don't rush, but there's something magical about putting those separate pieces of knitting together. Those seams where you match stitches, row to row (such as in the side seam), are as miraculous as an invisible zipper. It's both encouraging and beautiful to see. Of course, I really do hate weaving in loose ends, but we can't have everything!

I'm almost done with this lacy sweater from Rebecca No. 27. (Can you see the doily in the background, under the wooden coaster? I made that, too!) I'll put up pictures of the finished object soon.

Posted by Lana to Bumbling Bees - Girls with Purls at 5/29/2006 01:32:00 PM