Saturday, March 30, 2013

Saturday Evening Book Review @ Bluestem :)

It's finally feeling like Spring here and what better way to enjoy it than by sitting on the patio of my favorite cafe, Bluestem Bistro, listening to live music and knitting! As always, I really should be in studio or something school related, after all my BFA show is in THREE weeks.... But I bet you guys are sick of me talking about my lack of focus haha.

I wanted to share a couple of books with you tonight as well. :)

No Sheep for You  by Amy R. Singer

-The beginning is very comprehensive in explaining all the different non-wool fiber types, how they are harvested and spun.
-Explains well how to work with these yarns and how each yarn reacts to washing, wear and tear and etc.
-Great info on how to substitute among each type. 
-Lovely photos and color choices!
-Nice variation of man and woman patterns.

-I wish there were less color work patterns, I'm not a color work person...
-I also wish there were more non-sweater types, but then again if you are allergic to wool, you're biggest concern is finding sweater patterns.
-A lot to take in, I'd prob want to really be dedicated to reading it all.

Favorite Patterns:
Intoxicating -- in my dreams!
Overall, this is a fun book and there are lots of patterns I'd enjoy or know others would. I like the concept, as many patterns usually call for wool yarns and then if you need a non-wool you have to somehow substitute.

Brave New Knits  by Julie Turjoman
-The Concept -- patterns designed by knitting bloggers
-Before each pattern there is an at least 1 page bio about the designer and their blog.
-Too many amazing patterns!

-That's a hard question...
-Not a lot of variety in gender/age that the patterns are for; only a few for kids and men.
-The bios are a bit long, so I didn't really have time to read them right now.

Favorite Patterns:

Overall, I like the concept behind this book and may look up some of these bloggers (if they are still around, the book was published in 2010). I like a lot of the patterns as well.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Super Epic (and late) FO Friday

Wow, I have 30 minutes left and then it's officially Saturday here! Considering my lack of any real productivity today, the hours still flew by....

I have been patiently waiting to share this post with you guys, for it is a major milestone for me! However, lack of roomies means I have to find other means of photography, so I wasn't able to get pictures until my parents came to visit for dinner, hence the late post. But without further ado, I introduce my proudest knit piece to date: DRAGONFLIES!

Knitted with Cascade Pacific, in a berry wine color, this sweater is my first in the round pullover and definitely not the last. Seriously, why have I not knitted more of these!

The size on this fits perfect with a top underneath and still allows for breathing room. The only mistakes I made were a couple in the cables on the back (but since it was the back I didn't really care), and I did the decrease on the  left arm on the outside instead of inside, but it's not a noticeable thing. I really like the edging for the bottom, neck and sleeves: it's nice to see something besides ribbing, although the rows of purls were a bit tedious. I decided to shorten the neck height, and I'm glad I did. It's a bit snug to get my head through as it is.

Overall, this is a lovely pattern and one I would definitely recommend for anyone wanting to knit a simple yet elegant pullover.  I am a bit worried about the yarn, for it reminds me a bit of my Vintage sweater, which has started to pill already.  And I love it so much I know it will get lots of wear, which means I need to learn how to seriously hand wash, because I am not about to put this in the machine. I wish the stitch definition was a bit better on the pattern, but beggars cannot be choosers.

I hope everyone has a great weekend. They're expecting more snow here in KS; go figure.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Feeling Foodie

Not having school yesterday and today (and the rest of the week) has really allowed me to explore my creativity in the kitchen. Ever since I learned about "whole foods" and making it my self, I have been experimenting in my tiny apartment kitchen! The possibilities really are endless when you know what you want to achieve :) And you when you don't make your dinner from a box. 

The first thing I have been experimenting with snacks.  Although I am not 100% whole foods, snacks are always an issue for me.  The majority of my options are always sugar filled (and many are labeled as "healthy"...) or fat filled. And then I'm hungry again later.  I started to solve this problem a couple weeks ago with my trail mix, and this week decided to go a step further. 

If you haven't heard of Larabars, you are missing out. These amazing snack bars are mostly dried fruit and nuts, chopped and pressed into bars. And man are they good! Ivy introduced me to them over winter break and I finally broke down and bought a food processor so that I could make my own.  This week's batch consists of prunes, raisins, almonds, pumpkin seeds and dark chocolate.  Putting it all in the chopper allowed the nuts to stick to the fruit, and thus I was able to press them into bars! I can't wait to do more experimenting -- I really want to do something with dried pineapple and mangoes.

Lunch has been a bit of an issue lately too, simply for the fact that I don't think I'm eating a big enough/enough substance and then I get hungry really early in the afternoon. You're supposed to have 2/3 of your daily calories in the earlier part of the day so that they can be burned off. Well by having small lunches and snacking smaller, I end up with a huge dinner. 

This week I decided to mix up my usual salads, and googled pasta salad recipes. I stumbled upon this one, which sounded healthy and yummy! Today I decided to try it and man am I glad I did. I am NEVER going back to store-bought vinaigrette again. I omitted the mustard from this recipe, but I still love how it turned out. I added carrots I had in the fridge, and used a different pasta. 

The grapes add a nice touch, I am so excited to try more salad recipes in the weeks to come!

A couple weeks ago I was given a huge bag of mini red potatoes, along with lots of other veggies.  I've been wanting to try baked wedges/fries for awhile, and now I had the chance. So I cut up so potatoes and drenched them in olive oil, seasons, and parmesan cheese. This was the starting point, although I added extra basil, oregano, etc. to make it more Italian. They are delectable!

I still cannot believe that I have only been a "foodie" for less than a year! At this time last year I was just beginning to cook myself, but never paying this much attention to the things I cooked with. I know one thing -- I am forever in love with olive oil and honey!  But seriously, cooking with whole and 1 ingredient foods really isn't that hard, or much more expensive. If budgeted correctly, it can be done. Why do food companies think they can get away with so much crap? 

I'm leaving you guys with an in-progress photo of my current painting, which is also my best one yet. I spent 5 hrs at studio today, and I plan to spend at least that tomorrow as well.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Saturday Evening Book Review...And My Next Project?

It feels like ages since I have posted a knitting book review; I completely blame the library for moving the books and my teachers for assigning me too many projects. All griping aside though, tonight's books are a couple of fun ones!

No-Pattern Knits by Pat Ashforth and Steve Plummer
-The idea of knitting squares (modular knitting) seems interesting and intriguing. Definitely something new to me!
-The pictures and instructions are very thorough for every step you need to modular knit. 
-I never knew about all the interesting garter stitch shapes you can make just by increasing and decreasing!
-The section on color - really fun :)

-I wish they weren't all garter stitch shapes. I wish there was a way to do them stockinette, or if there is, I wish the book talked about it.
-I don't really like any of the patterns provided :(
-Personal preference -- The looks of squares put together into a sweater/top/object just looks tacky to me.

Favorite Patterns:

Overall, I am not going to lie, I didn't read it all. There is a lot of text in this. I think that it's great for anyone who doesn't like patterns and likes to experiment, but for me I don't know if I'll ever try it (or maybe for a hat?). It's a fun idea just not my style. 

The Knitter's Book of Socks by Clara Parkes
-This is so much more than just a book of socks and techniques; it's very comprehensive. 
-The primary focus is the yarn types good for socks, which is nice because that isn't seen too often in books.
-It's really thorough with lots of options and explanations
-I want to knit pretty much every pattern.

-The price ($30 US)
-Random, but I don't like any of the patterns on the cover...
-It's a lot to read; I still haven't finished it but man I want to.
-Why are all the color work patterns for socks always so ugly??

Favorite Patterns:

Overall, I want this book. BAD. I like the majority of the patterns and the information is very very useful. I love the photos and the layout and it's just a really good book. I highly recommend it for the avid sock knitter. 

Spring Break has arrived, and although I do not have class, I will be in studio pretty much every day this week. But besides studio, I will also be knitting away. My dragonflies sweater is done with the body and half way down one sleeve. My goal is to get it done this week and then start a new project. 

I can't decide what to knit though! I purchased a copy of the Spring Knitscene, and desperately want to knit Salacia, although it is very much out of my comfort zone. I was dead set on this and then I went to knit night and looked through Kennita's new book, Easy Openwork Tops , and liked EVERY pattern in it! Especially the one shown below (none are on Ravelry yet), which would be perfect for my lace yarn from last summer. And then of course there is my massive pile of sock yarn, which is calling my name after reading through that book! What are your thoughts? I'd love to know!

Which will win???

The semester is rolling along, only 4 more weeks until my drawing BFA show and I am still unsure what I will actually be displaying. That's a very scary thought. But for now, I am going to enjoy my week off and keep on knitting!


Friday, March 8, 2013

FO Friday: Pre-SOCK-upied

In case you can't tell from amazingly cheesy witty title, I have been quite unproductive on the art front lately.  In fact, I think I have spent a grand total of less than 10 hours in studio this week, which is not good, believe me. But then there's the excuse that my drawings are making themselves anyways, so I don't need to.

Back to the theme of today. I finished my socks yesterday! And it only took 3 weeks during what was supposed to be a crazy busy semester...

I wish I could take better pictures of my feet! This is one of those times when I miss having a roommate.  Anyways, the pattern is Fiasco by Alicia Landi of Woolen Diversions. I always love her patterns, so I am so glad I was finally able to knit another ! I wish the pattern showed up better on this yarn, Farmhouse Yarns Fannie's Fingering, but overall I think these are gorgeous. And finally a pair that fits me correctly! YAY!  The only issue I have with these, and maybe it's because they are more for men, is the heel: I am not a huge fan of the garter stitch flap. Whenever I wear these with shoes it's pretty lose and sticks out and bunches up. 

Maybe I'll try and take better pictures later. Something I love about this yarn (this is my second pair in it!...this skein from a clearance rack...) is how springy it is. It's a nice blend of wool and nylon and holds up really well. It's not technically soft, but it still keeps my toes warm.  The other pair in this yarn, Sunday Swing, have stretched a bit since knitting, so they are a bit big, but that may be the pattern more than the yarn.  

I think my favorite part of these socks is the cuff. I love the garter cuff! I want to do it for all my socks :P The pattern really is lovely, I do wish it showed up more, but these wouldn't be as much fun in a solid yarn.  Alicia, you are a sock pattern genius! I can't wait to see your other completed HIMYM socks!


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Heart Healthy Snacking

I don't know if I've ever mentioned that I am becoming a bit of a whole foods person, but lately I have been very much into healthy, unprocessed eating. I still enjoy the occasional fast food meal (although those are becoming less and less with my shrinking paychecks...) and some things are just hard to avoid, but if I can get away with it I prefer the 'real' thing.

I think it really started with the corn syrup scare. Corn syrup is my number one foe right now, if I can avoid it I will. Soda has pretty much left the menu and so have many others. I really don't think I miss it too much either.

Then there are oils; canola and vegetable oils are the big ones. I feel like every label I read has these in them!   They are so hard to avoid!

And don't forget sugar. Process and refined sugar is probably the worst culprit right now for me. I gave up corn syrup the best I could, but normal sugar is just as hard. I try my best to eat more honey and fruit based sugars, but sometimes that doesn't always work.

Where am I going with this? Well the majority of my grocery cart is always fruits, veggies and un-processed items, but I have always had a problem with snacks.  Most snacking options are processed, sugary bars or crackers that do nothing but give me a stomach ache. I was doing Tricutts and organic crackers for a bit but boxes of those are pretty pricey as well. With my new, more active life style I've been wanting to get more protein and energy, but trail mixes are so expensive and always come with extra oils, sugar or preservatives that I don't want to spend my money on.

So today I caved. I went grocery shopping and along with my normal mix of veggies and ingredients for tacos this week I bought some bulk ingredients to make my own trail mix. And surprisingly  it wasn't as expensive as I thought! (Although still more than I probably should spend on a college kid's budget)

Raw Pumpkin seeds - 1/3 lb; $1.48. 

Dried Mango with a bit of sweetener - 1/2 lb; $1.97

Chunks of "energy carob" (seeds, honey, cereal, apricots, etc...) = 1/4 lb; $1.50

Raw almonds - .4 lb; $2.49
Raw pecans - 1/4lb; $2.21

I toasted my almonds, pecans and pumpkin seeds at 350 degrees for 8 minutes and that made them taste amazing without that added salt! Combine of the above, plus some raisins and you get an amazing snack mix!

I just hope I can divide it up to make enough for a couple weeks. I'm trying to justify paying that much for not so much food.

Have you tried any new recipes for healthy things? Any other healthy snack substitutes that won't break the bank? I'd love to know!


PS: These ingredients were all purchased in bulk at my local Dillons (a division of Kroger).