Monthly Archives: November 2012


After I talked of our light wintry weather apparently nature took that as a challenge. Yesterday was supposed to be scattered flurries and squalls with just 3ish inches of snow. But when we got to 4″ and it was still coming down the weather guys reconsidered.

Of course I wasn’t paying attention to them. Neil and I were busy using the subaru (with studded tires and all wheel drive) to push the jetta up the unplowed hillside road on which we live. We made it just fine. It’s actually a trick I’ve always wanted to try!

Over night the arctic air blew in from the north and it was -1F when I woke up this morning. The hillside is a winter wonderland.

winter sunrise

I’m thinking it’s almost time for a wreath and some window candles. I need to start my christmas fruitcake this weekend. And I need to finalize my gift knitting plans. Tomorrow is December 1st and I think I’m ready for winter!

thanksgiving leftovers soup

This soup is coming to you curtsey of one of my cousins. She made it for friday night pot luck at our thanksgathering event and I thought it was brilliant.

It’s a white bean and squash soup, but it just uses bean, an onion, and leftovers from thanksgiving dinner. This is a sort of general recipe. I’m not going to give you amounts because I don’t know them. But the soup could be thicker or thinner depending on how you like it – so amounts really shouldn’t matter too much.

leftover soup onion

Start by simmering white beans in leftover turkey juices until tender (making stock out of the leftover turkey bones is a good way to get this juice without having to cut back on your gravy intake)

Next brown an onion in fat (bacon fat is always tasty), add leftover squash, the beans and their juices, and whatever spices you like. I’d suggest thyme, rosemary, and sage, or ginger and curry.

leftover soup

Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with leftover sweet breads (apple bread in this case, but I’m sure pumpkin or banana bread would be good too!)


it was as if mother nature were patiently waiting for thanksgiving to be over before starting winter.* We saw the season’s the first flurries of snow on our drive home saturday. Sunday continued the trend with gentle flurries that don’t amount to much. But by monday the snow was actually sticking.


I also managed to re-gain all the knitting I had to rip out last week. So now the real forward motion continues.

snowy knitting

*not that nature cares about such things as human time frames.

Thanksgathering 2012

Every year my family gets together for thanksgiving. But it’s not just my immediate family, it’s grandparents, cousins, great aunts and uncles and third cousins once removed, and college room mates of second cousins.

And we don’t just get together for one day, but for the whole weekend. We eat, play cards, cook, talk, snack, go for hikes, sing, and consume large quantities of pie. And it’s wonderful.


book progress

This is a funny sort of progress… I got 13.5 inches up the length of the back of this sweater only to figure out my math was off. My gauge matches my swatch perfectly, so I’m not sure what made me cast on so many stitches. But when I checked the width (and why didn’t I do that earlier??) I was over by a full inch.

A full inch doesn’t seem like much right? But anyone who’s knitted a sweater knows that when you really care about fit that inch can make all the difference.

So I frogged THE WHOLE THING. Yup. I had just spliced in a new skein too. So I took the mess up to my ball winder, fished the far end off the ball, and started winding. I re-wound that whole new ball and then kept going. With this lovely smooth superwash wool it frogged very easily and with the ball winder it frogged VERY quickly.

purple yarn

And now I have a massive ball of yarn, and I’m casting on the correct number of stitches. Luckily this sweater isn’t due for its day with the camera until January…

Turkey day

This is a bad day for soup and bread – go eat some turkey!

I’ll be having thanksgiving dinner with about 50 friends and relatives in a remote location with very little internet. And I love it. I love my family tradition of gathering in huge numbers. I love the pot luck feast. I love our pie for dinner tradition. I love our less traditional friday pot luck too.


I hope you are also spending time with people you enjoy, eating good food, and getting some quality knitting time.

And you know what? If you’ve got lots of leftover turkey I bet you could make soup out of that…

fall gardening

The past few years I’ve had lots going on in the garden in fall: sweet peas and spinach and lettuce and all sorts of things.

This year a mole (or something) ate the roots and killed all my seedlings in September.

Then I was feeling super-busy in October and barely got any work done in my garden at all. Neil and I did have the bonfire I’d been threatening since the squash bugs got crazy* but nothing else.

When November hit I realized I was operating on borrowed time. Garlic should really be planted in October.

seed garlic

The soil was still workable so I picked up some seed garlic from my local organic farm and in the ground they went! I even think leaving the garden fence open means the dogs and the cats have cleared up my mole problem.

The other thing that needed to happen was digging up my glads. I have a growing collection** of gladiolus bulbs, but they can’t over winter in the soil in Vermont. So every fall I dig them up and store them in a brown paper bag. Next spring they go back into the soil. They must be happy this way because most of the plants double or triple each year!

So now I’m really ready for winter – and only a few weeks late. These next few days will be filled with baking and cooking and prepping for Thanksgathering, my favorite holiday!

*leading to me wandering through my garden mumbling “burn them, burn them with FIRE”

**literally growing. And not just because I keep buying more different colors.

conference socks

alternate title for this post: in which important lessons are learned.

I made it through my conference last week, and I got a lot of sock knitting done! (1.5 pairs, aka, only half of what I brought) But those socks are all for gifts so instead I’m going to show you a pair of conference socks that have been in hibernation.

conference socks4

These are some Plymouth happy feet socks started during a spring conference. There is no pattern, because I made it up as I went along. They have 4st faux cables on the sides and little 2st faux cables in the ribs. The cables come to a point above the toe, which I thought would be super clever. But when I got there on the first sock I couldn’t design a neat closure while paying attention, so they just got fudged into place. It works, but I’m not super-happy with it so these won’t become a real design…

conference socks3

Lesson 1) I should not think I can design and pay attention at the same time.

The other issue is the fit. These socks look ok, but they’re really pretty tight. I had thought at the time that making 60 stitch socks would go faster than 64 stitch socks. Well, I was right about that, but they’re pretty tight fitting. And I know from experience that happy feet tends to shrink up a bit (just a quarter inch or so) during the first few washings and wearings. Usually a little shrinking isn’t a problem, but with socks that are already tight? I think I need to find someone with smaller feet than me who will properly enjoy these socks…

conference socks

Lesson 2) cutting stitches to make a project go faster isn’t really a good idea.

Too bad, because over all, they’re really very nice socks!

French onion soup

This is my 4th Bread & Soup post in 4 weeks. And you’ll notice I planned one in advance for while I was traveling. Clearly this is a thing. Ok enough gloating. Onward! French Onion soup – this meal is bread and soup, all in a single bowl! Neil made it over the weekend and I was all “oh goodie! A blog post!”


We follow the America’s Test Kitchen recipe, so this soup starts with FIVE POUNDS of onions, peeled, sliced, and placed in a well oiled dutch oven. Then there’s an elaborate set of steps: cooking down, mixing, cooking down, seasoning, cooking down, scraping up, adding sherry, and cooking down some more. I don’t really know what goes on here because Neil’s in charge of this part. But after 3.5 hours the soup is brown, thick, and all those onions take up only one and a half inches at the bottom of the pan.

full of onions

Next comes the broth, some more spices, and Neil making a fresh baguette from scratch. Have I mentioned yet that I love this soup? It’s almost as awesome as Neil.

french onion soup time

When the bread is done we slice it, pour the soup, layer everything together with some excellent cheese on top, and throw it under the broiler just until the cheese melts. YUM! Thank you Neil!

conference knitting

I’m off to another work conference this week. So I hope you don’t mind that I’ve abandoned you. Well I haven’t completely abandoned you. I’ve got my phone so I’m still answering e-mails, tweeting, and I’ll be in ravelry to keep up on the mitt-along excitement.

But other than that I’m COMPLETELY* disconnected.

So let’s talk about what I’m knitting while I’m gone. This is a DNA conference. So I need simple things that I can knit under the table while I’m also taking notes and otherwise paying attention.

So what do I knit? The answer is socks. I always knit socks at conferences. They’re small, portable, easy to drop whenever I need to write something down. And I can pack a month’s worth of knitting in a carry on. Because let’s face it. I need to bring extra knitting – just in case. Right?!

What I really want to knit at a DNA conference is Denature (obviously) but those cables would take too much attention.

conference yarn

For a week’s worth of travel, a hotel room, and knitting under conference tables I’ve packed three sock projects, and a shawl for working in the evenings. The socks are a variety of yarns in simple patterns. I need patterns which I can easily memorize and read. These are Monkeys, Skyp socks, and Herringbone socks just waiting to happen.

Do I think I’ll finish all three? Of course not! If I thought I had time to knit three pairs of socks I’d have at least 4 pairs packed. Because it’s important to always have a backup.