Monday, May 28, 2012

Review: EZ's Knitter's Almanac

I've been enjoying the Math For Knitters podcast (I love Lara's laugh), and most people refer to Elizabeth Zimmermann at some point during their interview (frequently as "EZ," since we're obviously all supposed to know who she is).

I borrowed her Knitter's Almanac (the Dover commemorative edition - woot!) from the library (and have renewed it twice...erm, I think maybe I should buy it), and loved it. She was a blogger before there were blogs. She writes in a very conversational style, and intersperses knitting patterns with random daily-life anecdotes. Also, she is somewhat obsessed with socks. And buttonholes.

There are a few problems with the book.

First, you cannot read it on a train, in public, or with anyone who is a non-knitter. I laughed until I cried, and poor John bore the brunt of my renditions of the particularly amusing bits. Except that they're not funny if you're not a knitter, apparently.

Second, it is expensive. Not the book, but the fact that you will want to go out and Buy More Wool to make everything that she writes about, as well as Buy All Her Other Books because she's so darned clever and interesting to read.

Third, I will never meet her. And she's not going to write any more books. (She passed away in 1999.)

Fourth, she pointed out that one can knit and read simultaneously. SHUT UP. Viv, I know you could already do this. I have discovered that I can only do it if either someone is holding the book for me and turning the pages, or if I am reading on the Kindle. Obviously, this will also become expensive, since I either have to pay an underling to hold the book for me, or buy more books on the Kindle.

Ok, so none of those are really problems. EZ, you and your "unventions" are pretty fabulous. Knitters who haven't read any EZ, get thee to your library (or yarn shop or bookstore) and remedy that. You'll be glad you did.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


I have two new cookbooks. SHINY. That's all.

Pardon the radio silence - I've been absorbed in the final Jean Auel book (hello, guilty pleasure) and rehearsals for tonight's Happy & Glorious concert. Hooray for the queen!!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Here and there

Here: I rode my bike to Needham Market (and then when it got very windy on the way home, wished I hadn't). I stopped at Halfpenny Home for some buttons, felt, and fabric, and tea with Nicola, of course, which was lovely, and then stopped at the farm shop. I cannot resist rhubarb, even though it didn't fit in my panniers and so rode along poking out at a jaunty angle. Teehee.

And there: I was really wishing for a teleport machine when my mom told me that she was going to the Rhode Island Wool and Fiber Festival at Coggeshall Farm today. She sent me a bunch of pictures from her phone, and was going to bring home any wool that she thought I wouldn't be able to live without. Since, obviously, a girl can't have too much wool.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Foodie Fursday

I spotted these long-life lactofree milk single-serving pods in our local Tesco a few weeks ago (I've been on the lookout for them in other stores but haven't seen them yet). It's not the cheapest way to get milk, but it means that if I want a break from black coffee at work, I can have it. Score one for the Dairy Fairy!

Our new favorite meal is from the June BBC Good Food (not posted on their website yet, unfortunately). Harissa roasted vegetables with couscous.

2 tsp harissa
2 tsp olive oil
a tray-full of veggies: we used an aubergine and 2 courgettes (in chunks), about 8 mushrooms (quartered) and a handful of cherry tomatoes (halved), and some spring onions.

Dressing (just mix all the ingredients together in a bowl):
2 tbs greek yogurt
1 tbs tahini
juice of 1 lemon
large pinch of coriander or mint (fresh/dried are both fine)

Mix the veggies with the harissa and olive oil until they're all coated, then roast at 180C until the veggies are cooked.

Serve with couscous with the dressing on the side. I add the tomatoes about halfway through the 20-or-so minute cooking time, so they don't completely disintegrate. I start the couscous once I've put the tomatoes in and it all arrives together. Ta-da!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Review: Bitterblue (and Graceling again)

I've been reading Kristin Cashore's blog since shortly after finishing Graceling. She's a great writer and finds fun things to link to. I really loved Graceling, and so have been pretty excited for Bitterblue since she announced the title. It is a great story with compelling characters (I really just wanted to drop myself into their world for a week or two and just chill with them all), and is expertly constructed.

Telling the story of Queen Bitterblue of Monsea, Bitterblue picks up about 8 years after the end of Graceling. Some familiar characters, some new ones, and a very strong feeling of reuniting with old friends.

My first action after finishing Bitterblue was to download Graceling to my Kindle and reread it. I'd forgotten so much...I think it's time to reread Fire! 

The reviewer in the New York Times loves it, too. HOORAY!

The finished scarf above is nothing to do with Bitterblue (except that it's blue). Ravelled here (the Anzula For Better Or Worsted is SO soft).

Saturday, May 12, 2012


We went back to The British Larder last weekend, and I loved the colour palette of this fireplace against the blue walls with the dark trim. Not that we have any exposed brick in our house (or a fireplace, for that matter).

I also spotted this fabric hanging in an interior decorator's in Woodbridge - LOVE the designs. They helpfully included the designers: St Jude's Fabrics

Monday, May 7, 2012

Cold, wet, windy bank holiday

Bad news: the weather has continued to be grey, rainy, and horrible.

Good news: the grey skies make the yellow rapeseed flowers positively glow.

More good news: grey skies + cold weather = knitting under a quilt on the couch while watching iPlayer, drinking tea, and intermittently savouring Bitterblue on the Kindle. Quite wonderful, actually.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Making, to follow

I found this fabric at CallyCo in Cambridge when we were there a few weeks ago. I'm not sure what it's going to be, yet. It's quite large-scale - the seaside tents are about 4 inches tall.

In some unrelated sewing, my mom brought the Lisette Diplomat pattern that I had ordered. I'm going to start with some plain green cotton that I've had in my stash for years, and then see how the fit works before I cut into the bicycles. There was also some very cute navy polka dot cotton at Halfpenny Home a few weeks ago - I need to go back and get it!

And in the tradition of my mom filling her suitcase with Real Simple, here they are. Two issues, along with a Food Network magazine and a Real Simple recipe book. Thanks, MOM!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

British Larder and Aldeburgh

After reading that Cambridge blogger Lazy Giraffe drives an hour and a half all the way to Woodbridge from Cambridge to eat at The British Larder, it was added to my must-try list.

When my Mom (whose birthday is today - HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!) suggested a trip to the coast, I suggested this as an optimal lunch spot on the way. I was a little worried that it would be super-crowded on a Saturday lunchtime, but it was merely reasonably busy.

I ordered the pork tasting platter, below. Pork terrine, a pork & pickle salad thingy (in the little pot), homemade coleslaw, homemade piccalilli, the Best Scotch Egg Ever, a sausage roll, a mini-meatloaf, some exceedingly delicious bread, and a spring-greens salad. The scotch egg and the butter both had cracked pepper and just the right amount of sea salt on them. The whole thing was rather unbelievably delicious. I washed it down with some Broadside, obviously.

My mom had the ploughmans' lunch, which had cheese twists, homemade pickle, a boiled egg, really excellent ham, and a wedge of cheese, along with a sausage roll, bread, piccalilli, and salad like mine.

We really enjoyed ourselves and will be going back. If you're in the neighborhood (or even if you're not), I highly recommend it.

On our way to Aldeburgh, we stopped at Snape Maltings. The sky was rather dramatic (it had stopped raining, briefly)

We found out later that John had been sailing in the mega-rainstorm in this picture. Boy, was he wet:

A yellow tractor on Aldeburgh beach:

And a good rock.

Conversation before reaching this particular rock, as follows.

Kate (walking on Aldeburgh beach, home to about 100 zillion rocks) : Mom, keep your eye out and let me know if you find a good rock.
Mom: Um, what?!
Five minutes later
Kate: Aha! This is a great rock! (Crouches down to photograph above rock)
Mom: (Shakes head)

C'mon, you can't say that isn't a great rock!