Archive for October, 2009

Hearty Veggie Stew

I’ve been vegetarian for the last 10 yrs (though I eat fish very occasionally); hubby’s been vegetarian for even longer and doesn’t really remember what meat tastes like. I do remember – and there’s not much I miss from my meat-eating life that I haven’t found some veggie substitute for, but one notable exception has been beef stew. Few things are so satisfying on a cold day – like being wrapped in a blanket of comfort and heartiness.

I’ve finally found a good veggie version with the rib-sticking qualities of a real stew AND Guinness Stout (another cold weather favorite). The recipe can be found here. If you do not like Guinness, you will NOT like this stew. A few notes: I highly recommend using only 1 bottle of Guinness with the veggie broth (one bottle is plenty of Guinness flavor, even for someone that loves it); I used quite a bit of salt 1-2 tablespoons, and I added some paprika (~1/2 tbsp); I also used tempeh instead of seitan. I added one 8 oz package of Soy Boy 5 Grain Tempeh – it didn’t hold together well in the soup, but I didn’t think that was a big problem. This is what the package looks like:


Here’s a shot of the stew just after I got all the ingredients assembled:

Uncooked Stew

And after cooking (approx 45min later) – the grains you see are from the tempeh that’s fallen apart. I’ve also added lots of pepper (coarsely ground):

Cooked Stew

Delicious! And hubby seemed to like it, as well (he’s a tough crowd sometimes), so I’m calling this a very yummy success.

Hat Woes

I finished the color-worked hat yesterday and it’s MUCH too big! I have the most awful time making hats that fit. This is now the SECOND time I’ve tried to make a toddler hat and had it come out too big even for my head. I do a gauge swatch, I count stitches – the problem is that my gauge changes significantly between each time I cast-on. Sigh.

Hubby had been eyeing the hat while I was knitting and I think it’s actually big enough to fit him… fortunately, it will work for someone.

Hubby Hat

Also, I missed the memo on jogless stripes. Sigh (again). Now to make good hats for those toddler twins…

Stripes that jog

Spinning Lesson

Last night, I had my first crack at spinning on a castle-style spinning wheel. I was connected with its lovely owner (who graciously invited me to her house to try it out) through a friend from my Tuesday-night knitting group. And let me tell you, dear readers, it’s not as easy as it looks! I had quite a time trying to draft, spin (but not over spin), and remember to feed the spun yarn onto the bobbin – all while making sure the wheel was turning the correct way. Yikes! I wasn’t actually successful in spinning the merino / tencel roving I brought with me, but it was a valuable learning experience, and my new spinner friend offered to let me return and spin with her another time (she actually has two wheels).

If nothing else, I’m more determined to figure out how the hell people spin so nicely. And so, of course, I’m scouring craigslist & Etsy looking for an affordable spinning wheel of my very own (hopefully hubby isn’t reading this!). There’s so much to consider – tension mechanism, drive ratios, etc. I need to sit down sometime and figure out the physics; right now it’s magic. And maybe, just maybe, if I can figure it out exactly how it works… I could make my own? Getting ahead of myself, as usual.

Anyhow, after my spinning lesson, I went home and pulled out my drop spindle to get some of the spinning satisfaction I had been looking forward to all day. It’s MUCH slower, but I get the feeling that practicing on my little spindle is going to be tremendously helpful in learning to spin with a wheel.

Spindling Merino / Tencel

On the Needles

I haven’t posted in a few days, mostly because I haven’t actually finished anything noteworthy – but here’s a peek at what’s on my needles:

Twins' December Stripes Hat

This is a December Stripes Hat designed by Elinor Brown that I’m knitting for a set of 3 yr-old twins in my extended family (this is the first one). I changed the color scheme to get rid of some yarn in my stash, which is why it’s looking like a piece of  Americana – I didn’t quite anticipate how the colors would look together…but that’s okay. Here’s a link to the project on ravelry.

I’m also working on this toddler sweater (lots of toddler knitting lately!):

toddler sweater

This sweater is the last in a set of matching ones I’ve made for my triplet niece & nephews. As you can see, I’m just starting on the yoke, then I’ll have the hood to do. I really love this pattern – it’s the Hooded Jacket from Debbie Bliss’s Simply Baby – but after the third time…well, I just can’t wait to get onto other things.  It’s raveled here. You can check out the two other versions (just different sizes and colors) here and here.

Looks like a rainy weekend, so I’m sure I’ll get plenty of knitting done!

Mom’s Cowl

Lately, I’ve been plowing ahead with my knitted holiday gifts. I finished this moebius cowl (Cat Bordhi pattern) for my mom in just a few days on US 11 needles with Trendsetter Dune yarn (2 skeins) – she loves the color red:

Mobius Cowl open

Mobius Cowl

Mobius cowl detail

I used Cat Bordhi’s super-helpful video on YouTube to learn the mobius cast-on (which still blows my mind).

My Very First Skein

Over the weekend, I washed and dried the wool I  skeined last week. It kept twisting up on itself – pretty sure I over spun it! Oh well, it’s my first try.

For the washing, I placed the skein in a clean bucket and soaked 4 times: 1 with soap, 1 rinse (water only), 1 vinegar (1/4 cup) with water, and 1 final rinse – 10 min per soak in HOT water with no agitation.

For drying I devised this setup (the ‘T’ weighing down the skein is part of the PVC niddy noddy):

Skein drying

It was dry after 12 hrs (or so) of hanging and MUCH less twisty. At one point I rotated the skein 90 degrees, so that the yarn under the ‘T’ could dry properly.  Here’s the final hank:

Finished Hank

Finished Hank Closeup

You can see that some sections of yarn are all curled up on themselves, definitely overspun but not too terribly, I think. I also didn’t spin very even yarn thicknesses – they range from sport or fingering to bulky – so I’m going to take an average and say it’s Aran weight. I should probably knit a swatch to confirm this…but it seems a little silly, since I barely have enough yarn to make one!

So the next question is what to make with it? I’m leaning toward this To Go coffee cup cozy. It says it requires 25 – 50 yds of yarn. Hopefully it’s more like 25!

Spoils from the Fall Fiber Festival in Orange County, VA

Went to the Fall Fiber Festival on Saturday with several of my Tuesday-night knitting group buddies. The day was SPECTACULAR – beautiful weather and LOADS of yummy fiber in every stage of prep.


Many of the fiber animals also came to this festival including this adorable angora bunny (which I had to restrain myself from purchasing):

Angora Rabbit

All said and done, I came away with loads of roving and some washed (& dyed) sheep wool. Here’s a closer look:

Fall Harvest Roving

Above is 4 Oz. of “Fall Harvest” roving from Persimmon Tree Farm that’s a 40% wool, 50% mohair, 10% alpaca blend. Absolutely luxurious! Lately I’ve been going for blue, green, green/blue color schemes, but decided to break out of the mold and go for a more “mature” color palate with this roving.

Creatively Dyed Yarn RovingThis (above) is 8 oz of roving from Creatively Dyed Yarn and is a blend of wool, bamboo, and seacell (as you can see from the tag). I’ve been lusting after roving from this company since last year – I was so happy they were at the festival again.  It’s so gorgeous, I almost don’t want to spin it!

Wool / Tencel Roving

Next are two 4 oz. packages of a 70% merino wool, 30% tencel roving from The Drafting Zone in Bowie, MD (no website). I fell completely in love with the colors and the wonderful softness. I imagine spinning it up like Jil Eaton’s Minnow Merino (a thick worsted 1-ply)… if somehow I can manage to create a yarn, rather than just getting whatever comes out 🙂

I also bought some washed (& dyed) Coopworth fleece from Wild ‘n’ Wooly Farm to combine with my goats’ mohair for spinning:

Coopworth fleece

I figure the multicolored variety will blend nicely with either Hamlet or Ivan’s mohair, while the blue/black will go well with Hamlet’s charcoal grey, and the white can be blended with Ivan’s silvery-grey and dyed a different color. But we’ll see how it really works out.

Along those lines, I also bought hand carders to get started with this fiber blending (very exciting!):


I think I had a great haul at this year’s festival and I’m very excited to get spinning on my little drop spindle!

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rambleonrosemary [at] gmail [dot] com

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October 2009
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