Inspired by Mozza

It seems that I always preface our dinners with some kind of disclaimer (I overcooked this, I undercooked

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that, there’s not enough salt, there’s too much salt, I burned the garlic, it’s not right…), and Ben’s usual response is “Can I enjoyed it anyway?”


Mozzarella di bufala, pesto, slow roasted cherry tomatoes, crostone with homemade ricotta.

In this case ricotta is a misnomer and I am using the word only because that’s what everybody calls this kind of homemade cheese. Real ricotta is the byproduct of cheese making, where you use the whey left over from making mozzarella. This ricotta is made with milk, heavy whipping cream and — dare I say it? — lemon juice. If you can’t find good ricotta, this is a good alternative. If I seem fussy about ricotta it’s because I know what the real thing tastes and feels like; the texture is different and so is the flavor. My favorite ricotta happens to be made

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with sheep milk, and that adds to the difference. Not that there were any leftovers, mind you.

Pesto and olive tapenade

Pesto and olive tapenade on the side.

So much pesto… I think we’ll have pasta al pesto tonight.
Caprese Mozza style

The photos are bad, but the food was good.

Pesto, tapenade, homemade ricotta and slow roasted tomatoes were all inspired by recipes from The Mozza Cookbook and for the most part I followed the recipes exactly (I replaced burrata with mozzarella di bufala and I was missing an ingredient in the olive tapenade). The styling leaves much to be desired. What can I say… by the time everything was ready to be assembled I was too hungry to bother with style.

A collar by any other name…

I refuse to call it cowl. The word irks me, to the point that I’ve resisted knitting one until now, I suspect, because of the name. Don’t ask me why; I haven’t the faintest idea. I know

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a woman who breaks into hives if anyone says “moist”. Do you have a word that makes you want to scream? Please tell me — I need to know that I am not insane.

Collar or cowl?

Collar or cowl?

This is a mindless knitting project so I don’t care that it goes slowly. And even for a unitasker like me, it does not preclude conversation.
stitch detail

A stitch I made up

I might even finish it this month.
the other side

The other side

Yeah, yeah… all of you fast knitters snickering in the background. I know it’s only the 3rd of the month.

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Or finita, as in Italian “scarf” happens to be feminine — la sciarpa. You’ve heard it before; this was the most boring project ever, yet perfect for the long trip from LA to Seattle and back. Ben was driving and I had all the time in the world. As soon as we move to Portland or something, I might even get to wear it.

Wild Apple scarf

La sciarpa è finita.

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for a closer look during colder weather. Who knows… Wild Apple scarf in progress

Feral swatch

I’ve been lazy. I’ve been busy. I’ve been unfocused. It’s OK.

Inspiration for my color selection

Inspiration for my color selection

This was my inspiration photo at Feral Knitter’s color

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workshop a couple of weeks ago. How’s that for a non-sequitur?

Speed swatch

Speed swatch

And this was my second swatch, where I narrowed down the colors and settled on blues and grays (what a surprise, someone said) and one red.
Narrowing down the colors

Narrowing down the colors

My third swatch, which I can’t find right now, was a disaster: muddled, murky, ugly. Time to swatch again.

Tea time

100°F is what we got home to the other day, and it’s been like that since. Fortunately, waiting for me among the inevitable bills and junk mail was a tea care package I won a couple of weeks ago by leaving a comment on Nate’s food+knitting blog: knit 1, eat 1. The package from Mighty Leaf included a big pitcher for iced tea and a selection of tea bags presized for the pitcher.

Bodum pitcher and Mighty Leaf tea selection

Bodum pitcher and Mighty Leaf tea selection

If you are a tea snob like me, your nose probably went up an inch when you heard tea bags. Well, these are not the tea bags of my childhood — sad little paper things with staples and a dry heart of tea powder left over from the better selections destined for tins. These are beautifully crafted translucent sachets revealing a select lose leaf content. They are stitched in unbleached cotton and biodegradable.

Ginger Peach tea

Super fragrant

Iced tea caraffe

Hot water first, then ice

Peaches and tea

If I add peaches, can I call it tea sangria?

Ready to combat the heat

Ready to combat the heat

Thank you, Nate!

Home again

Catch up time for me after a twelve-day road trip and close

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to 3,000 miles. I thought I would blog a few times along the way, but I was either missing the time or a reliable internet connection. After three days in the Bay Area to attend the color workshop at Janine‘s house in Berkeley, we drove to Eugene (OR) where we stayed at a sheep farm with Elissa, an old friend from my spinning days who moved from Los Angeles a few years ago and now lives with two dogs, five miniature donkeys and ten sheep.

at Elissa's farm in Eugene

at Elissa's farm in Eugene

hay bales

Hay bales, unfortunately rotting in the field after the rain

Elissa and the beasties

Elissa and the beasties

Gina, the miniature donkey

Gina, the miniature donkey

Elissa's sheep

Elissa's sheep

Oskar the sheep

Oskar was the only sheep who would get close and be petted. He's a sweet fellow with a beautiful fleece.

Dinner time

Dinner time

From there we drove to Lakewood (WA) making a quick stop in Portland (OR) along the way. More like a blitz, really, and no time to get together with friends though we managed a strategic stop at Knit Purl, easily the best yarn store I’ve ever set foot into. Half their stock wanted to go home with me and I had to be firm to make it out of there with only four skeins of Isager Tvinni, two skeins of Shibui Cloud and one supersized ball of Kauni.
Marianne Isager Tvinni

Marianne Isager Tvinni

Shibui Silk Cloud

Shibui Silk Cloud, color "Suit"

Kauni EC

Kauni EC

We spent almost more time trying to get out of Portland than we spent in Portland because of a major accident on the Interstate Bridge.
Even the rest areas are impressive in Oregon

Even the rest areas are impressive in Oregon

A bridge in Portland

A bridge in Portland

Another bridge in Portland

Another bridge in Portland

In Lakewood we stayed with Lorette and John and experienced the most marvellous hospitality which included a guided tour with ferry trip to Bainbridge Island (7-minute visit at Churchmouse Yarns & Teas), extensive stop at Pike Market and a spice shop nearby, and gourmet dinners at their place. Half the extra pounds I came home with were put on in those two days. Not complaining!
Bundled up on the ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island

Bundled up on the ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island

Not the right day to go on the Space Needle

Not the right day to go on the Space Needle

Puget Sound from the ferry

Puget Sound from the ferry

Ghost mountain

Now you see it, now you do't.

Fish stand at Pike Place Market

Fish stand at Pike Place Market

On the knitting front, the only activity was mindless scarf knitting in the car. I’ve been working on the Wild Apple scarf that goes with the hat. The scarf is all in plain broken rib and let me tell you how boring that is to knit, but just what I needed while we were driving 5-8 hours at a time. About 42 inches into the scarf (14 more inches to go) I can see why no one on Ravelry has added that project; they all had more sense than me and worked on either the sweater or the hat. More pics in a couple of days. Now I have to take care of laundry, grocery shopping, and other odds and ends.

Day 1 with Feral Knitter

Today was the first day of my color knitting workshop with Janine, a.k.a. Feral Knitter. I meant to write a short post before the trip, but ran out of time. Fortunately we found a great guy to stay at our house and take care of Kelvin and Piper while we are gone, so we can enjoy our trip without worrying about the boys being locked away in cages at a boarding place. It’s all working out for the best.

Swatching for value changes

Swatching for value changes

My first day with Janine exceeded my expectations. The workshop is called “Design Your Fair Isle Garment” and covers a lot of ground in a sensible and practical way to develop color confidence and discover how to tackle color design as it applies to Fair Isle knitting. Today was all about choosing colors for the garment of our choice, starting from a source of inspiration, and then how to swatch in the most effective way to see how those colors interact with each other. Tomorrow we will complete our speed swatches and then choose a pattern or patterns for our projects.
Inspiration and color choices

Inspiration and color choices

The workshop is at Janine’s house and there are only six of us so it’s laid back and cozy and we have access to all of Janine’s designs and swatches, which is great. I’ll take a picture of my speed swatch tomorrow, after I’ve added a few more rows to it. If things work out, I

may also visit Lacis in Berkeley with a local friend. I will try to post about all things knitterly during this trip, but my online time is limited and I may be late replying to emails between now and Sept. 6. Ciao from the Bay Area.

Wild Apple hat, a few thoughts

My Wild Apple hat is finished and wants me to move to a very cold climate so I can wear it. This is a seriously warm hat, folks, with all those rounds worked with up to four colors. I knew that using more than two colors per round would create a thicker fabric, but I was surprised by how much thicker and warmer the hat is because of that.

Wild Apple hat


If you’ve never knitted a Bohus item and are thinking about it, here are some thoughts.

The design
Not much to say about that other than it’s drop-dead gorgeous, but we knew that already, n’est-ce pas?

The yarn
The yarn is an integral part of what makes these Bohus kits as beautiful as they are. Having seen two versions of the Blue Shimmer hat, side by side, worked in different yarns, I definitely prefer the kits from Sweden. Their yarn (actually from Denmark, but dyed in Sweden by Solveig Gustafsson) is 50/50 merino/angora, dyed in colors that have been painstakingly reconstructed in collaboration with the original Bohus designers to match the items produced by Bohus Stickning between 1939 and 1969. The colors are vibrant, the yarn amazingly soft, and the small gauge makes the Bohus design sing. The yarn from Kimmet Croft, which was used to knit several items in the book Poems of Color, knits up at a larger gauge. While this may be a plus for many knitters, it does not bring out the best in Bohus design. Colors and fiber content are also slightly different and these seemingly small variations add up to a quite different overall effect in the knitted items.

For me it was an easy choice, but I recommend that you look at other knitters’ projects on Ravelry and decide for yourselves. I have to admit that the idea of knitting a whole sweater with all that stockinette stitch with 2 mm needles scares even me, and I love tiny needles.

My only complaints about this fabulous yarn are tangential:
— A few knots in some really tiny skeins.
— I wish the yardage had been a little more generous. There was enough yarn to knit the hat and I had a bit of leftover from all the colors, some more than others, but when I saw the tiny skeins I was so scared about running out of yarn before finishing the hat that I did not dare to swatch. Me not swatching… can you believe it? And yet that’s what I did and my hat is a bit bigger than I would have liked. In retrospect, I know that I could have made a swatch but what if I had chosen one of the colors that turned out to be almost precisely measured? I was so freaked out that I cut all my ends very short, to save yarn.

Leftover yarn

Some of the leftovers

The pattern
The first 4 cm in garter stitch with 2.00 needles were oh so hard to get through. Having had hardly any experience with garter stitch, I had no idea that it grows so slowly. But once I started the color pattern there was no stopping me, even though those rounds with 3-4 colors and both knit and purl stitches did slow me down considerably. Oh, and all those ends to weave in at the end… I guess that can’t be helped.

This is the color breakdown of the 76 rounds of the color pattern for those of you who like numbers:
— 8 rounds in 1 color
— 47 rounds in 2 colors
— 18 rounds in 3 colors
— 3 rounds in 4 colors

The chart is clear and supplemented by a table that lists the colors used every time there is a color change. That table was especially useful when colors very similar to each other were involved.

Some minor frustrations with the pattern:
— The written instructions mention that patterns don’t necessarily line up (no problem with that), but the chart is one continuous chart with no separation between the parts that line up and those that don’t. I found that confusing.
— My only real problem with the pattern are the decrease instructions. In addition to the increases not being included in the chart, the written directions were imprecise. Maybe I’ve gotten too used to US patterns, but to say *K5, k2tog* for a round that includes purl stitches gets me confused.

Wild Apple hat inside

Super toasty

In spite of the complexity of the pattern —or perhaps because of it? — it was a very enjoyable knit. I love the design and if I can bring myself to knit all that st. st. in one color and 2 mm needles, I may even attempt the sweater at some point, though I am more likely to get another small kit for my next Bohus. Oh, you thought because of my knit picking that this was the end of it? Nah, I know a good thing when I see one.

The chart for the Wild Apple sweater in Poems of Color shows 15 colors, while the hat kit from Solsilke has 14. I wonder if the difference is between sweater and hat or between book and kits. Anyone knows?

I couldn’t find a website for Kimmet Croft’s Fairy Hare. If you have a working URL, would you let me know?

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