Monday, November 13, 2006

from scratch

So, this week I started making mittens for my one year old nephew. His mom had requested gray mittens. I had tons of gray fiber, so I spun up some gray Icelandic wool, gray handdyed silk, and naturally gray alpaca. I made a three ply yarn. I knit this swatch. Maybe it was the cloudy weather or the bad karma around here, but I just couldn't do it to a little boy. This gray looked like a little old man and I couldn't continue. I was sad.

I went back through the emails and saw, ahh, the coat had yellow, gray and black in it. I thought, what about a bumblebee theme? I started trying that out and got this far before I thought, hmm, not machine washable, and still sort of dorky colors:

So I stopped that right away. Then, I refocused. I made myself re-examine the situation. I looked at the humongo stash and said, "Oh, sock yarn, of course, it's machine washable." I broke through the "but Joanne wanted that color yarn for her own socks" barrier (my socks will just be shorter, that's all) and here's what I knitted up.
Time: 2-3 hours total
Yarn: Maybe 150 yarns of fingering weight yarn, doubled
Mental Anguish, phonecalls, etc. in choosing yarn and thinking about mittens, which shows Auntie Joanne really loves you: about 20 hours. At least.
Cute Nephew getting mittens for his 1st birthday? Priceless, of course.

By the way, the skein of handspun gray alpaca, silk and Icelandic wool three ply is up for grabs if anyone has a better idea of what to do with it. I spun it for the nephew, so I have no further plans for it...

I've been going through a slump lately. Not feeling great, struggling with all sort of things, and feeling sort of down. When that happens, I usually remember to bake bread. It makes me feel somewhat better. I've been doing this, with largely positive results, for the last 20 years, so I've had some practice and I've made a lot of bread. Then I tried this recipe from the New York Times. This bread had possibly the best crust and the most flavorful crumb I've ever produced. It was like the $4-$8 loaves that one buys at the slow food, artisanal bread bakeries that sadly, we do not have in Bowling Green. It rocked. The two of us ate this whole loaf in less than a day. I've started making more. It's that good. This time, I'm doing a whole wheat version. What could possibly be bad about bread that looks this good?

PS: Please remember to say hi every now and again so I know you are reading and I feel motivated to keep posting. Keep me company out here in cyberspace!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Joanne,

I've been reading your blog for several months now and really enjoy your post.

The bread looks wonderful. Would you mind sharing the recipe?

November 13, 2006 at 5:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

O.k., that bread looks fabulous - must knkow how you made it. :-) The mittens are perfect, of course. Isn't it nice when you get a good result like that? - Sam

November 13, 2006 at 6:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See, I was so excited about the bread, my fingers got stoopid on the keyboard! - Sam

November 13, 2006 at 6:31 PM  
Blogger Vicki said...

Third time is the charm for those mittens. I always bake bread when there's a blizzard and can almost smell the aroma when looking at your pic. Mmmm!

November 13, 2006 at 6:32 PM  
Blogger Rémy said...

Hey, O how I wish that I had gotten to try some of that bread. Wow, or some of your yummy challah. I'll have to call you this week if I find out if Diego is coming to see how I can make some kind of meat product. Ah the joys of forming two octagons from a square and a circle (read "compromise") Give me a call sometime, I dont ever know when is a good time and since I'm pretty much never doing anything ('cept when I am swimming at the YMCA or at work or in Canada) you prolly have a better shot at reaching me at a good time than I do of not interrupting your work or your dinner or "ce qui soit." Tell Jeff hi and I miss you guys.

November 13, 2006 at 7:41 PM  
Blogger Joanne said...

Quick, if you're interested in the bread recipe, click on the brown (crustlike) word, "recipe"! It will tell you how I made the bread... the NY Times doesn't keep its recipes up forever, so clickety click!
(I respect the copyright of the NY Times and the recipe writer, hence my invitation to visit the website...)

November 13, 2006 at 8:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Joanne, sorry to read you were in a slump yesterday hope today is a better day for you. The mittens look lovely I am sure your nephew will be so pleased with them. You are a girl after my own heart, there is nothing like making bread or soup when you are feeling low, the house smells lovely and homemade food is just heaven. I have printed out the recipe. Wendy.

November 14, 2006 at 5:16 AM  
Blogger sarah said...

Lovely looking bread but even nicer handspun :-) I like the striped mittens, too. Lucky nephew (does the perfectionist streak run on his side of the family?)

I find November through to January are the darkest months. It's not the lack of light, it's as though the turning year is a wheel and I'm riding it down into the rising tide of cold and dark. It's so much worse if other things in life add to the depression. I do bread too, but mostly I try (it's very difficult!) to kick my own backside into cleaning the house properly, making things shine and smell of lavender. Both tangible accomplishments that smell wonderful; even if they don't last, they're a reminder that spring is coming.

November 14, 2006 at 8:45 AM  
Blogger vanessa said...

love the mittens :-)

November 14, 2006 at 8:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm going to have to try that bread recipe. with all these rainy days it might just be the perfect thing to complement a hearty soup.

November 14, 2006 at 9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been reading for a while, just never have much to say. So, yo girl, from NJ.
I saw that recipe in the Times and plan to try it. Don't have a pan to bake it in and might have to buy one. What did you use? I don't want to spend a fortune on a Dutch oven but I do love good bread!
Regards from the Shore,

November 14, 2006 at 2:45 PM  
Blogger annmarie said...

Sweet little mittens and lovely bread! I missed the recipe in the Times - too many long workdays and not enough time to read the whole paper. I'll have to go get last week's papers out of the recycling basket and look for it (that's if it's from last week's paper!)...

November 14, 2006 at 4:54 PM  
Blogger Joanne said...

Anne, I used a cast-iron dutch oven, (remarkably useful thing to have, btw) but anything potlike with a lid will do. The recipe recommends pyrex, ceramic, enamel or cast iron. It is baked at a really hot temperature -450 F- so be careful and don't use anything that you think will crack at that temperature.

Annmarie, I think it was in Wednesday's paper. I'm thinking Nov.8. It's totally worth finding-you can get it online, too.

November 14, 2006 at 6:36 PM  
Blogger Melanie said...

The mittens are completely adorable - that was the perfect solution. I think you should make something nice for yourself with the Icelandic/Alpaca/Silk blend. It's really lovely. The bread is making me very hungry.

November 14, 2006 at 7:03 PM  
Blogger Where fibers meet mud said...

Nummy looking bread - what a brilliant idea - bread for the slumps - going to try it right after a long winter's nap!

The grey yarn would make a great barret type hat - or one with the ear flaps - so cozy looking!

Enjoy the day! Chase the slumps away with mittens! HOORAY!!

November 14, 2006 at 8:23 PM  

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