Saturday, September 27, 2008

Spira Mirabilis

Here's the latest addition to the Molting Yeti pattern shop - a totally spiral-tastic baby blanket! Alternating between stockinette stitch and simple fishnet lace, this blanket spirals as it grows.

Logarhythmic spirals are really cool - they occur in nature as the shape of spiral galaxies, the arms of cyclones, the paths of hawks to their prey and moths to light bulbs (which is extra cool 'cause moths are really aiming at the moon, which would be a truly gigantical spiral indeed), and the nerves of the cornea. Jakob Bernoulli was fascinated by their properties - especially that the shape of the spiral remains the same as it grows, and called them "spira mirabilis", which is a pretty awesome name.

If you'd like to make a Mirabilis for a new miracle in your world, head on over to the shop for the pattern.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

How to Pickle Like a Rock Star

This year I signed up for a CSA in my neighborhood. CSA is Community Supported Agriculture - you pay a farmer up front in the spring, and every week from May to Thanksgiving or so you get a box of food from the farm.

I've had ridiculously delicious tomatoes in my house since June, and since it's basically been a blind date with vegetables all summer, I've been learning to play nicely with zucchini and eggplant. Well, trying to learn, anyway. There were cantaloupes as big as my head in July, some of which I ate, and some of which turned into Cantaloupe Gelato. I've also had more cucumbers than I knew what to do with.

Pickling to the rescue!

victorian pickle bookmarks by barking-madcrow

I know it's past cucumber time in this hemisphere, but here's my fridge-pickle recipe anyway. This is the recipe I used for 5 or 6 biggish regular (not "pickling") cukes - and the basic brine should work as well for just about anything that would taste better or last longer all vinegared up.

Slice cucumbers thickly and layer them in a bowl with sprigs of dill and cloves of garlic. I go heavy on the dill, mostly so it won't go to waste.

Mix up 2 1/2 Quarts (10 C) of water, 1/2 C salt and 1 C cider vinegar

adulterate this as you like with black peppercorns, mustard seeds, and red pepper flakes.

Bring the brine to a boil, turn off the heat and pour it over the cucumbers. Let the bowl cool to room temperature overnight on the countertop, and then put the bowl in the fridge.

Start tasting your pickles after a couple of days - optimum pickle magic for me was about 10 days in, but your taste buds may vary. If you want to keep your pickles at room temp all year long, jar them up and process them in a hot water bath. I'm no expert on this part, though I do know that the high acid from the vinegar makes pickles one of the safest things to can. Check Putting Food By or the Ball Book for better instructions.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tour de Pink Update

Nine days from now, I'll be on a bus from here (NYC) to Hershey, Pennsylvania. Yes, that Hershey, the milk chocolate capital of the world. Starting the next day, I'm going to ride my bike the whole way back again (210 miles or so) with 149 of my newest friends. And this time I won't be the only one rocking a pink jersey - we all will.

It's Tour de Pink, a fundraiser for the Young Survival Coalition, the premier international network of breast cancer survivors and supporters dedicated to the critical concerns and issues unique to young women and breast cancer. You can see a bunch more about what the YSC does here.

Thank you so much to everybody who's contributed to my ride. As of right now, my friends, family, co-workers and blog readers have chipped in $2,780, and I'm only $220 away from reaching my fund-raising goal of $3,000. I'm amazed and grateful at the response this has gotten.

So please, if you've been seeing that pink oval on the top of this blog for a while and meaning to contribute something, there's no time like right now. Please click here to donate. Thanks a billion.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mackerel Sky

Last night riding my bike home from Church of Craft the sky looked awesome. The moon was full and there were a million tiny clouds blopped evenly over the whole thing, and that illusion happened where you're looking up at the sky through the trees and it feels like the sky is moving the same speed you are and the trees are staying still. The leaves of the trees were lit up grayish green by the streetlights and night was that inky color of darkish blue it always turns in NYC in September. Where did the summer go?

Just another of those tiny moments that made me glad I was on my bike. Impossible to photograph, and impossible to experience any other way. Wikipedia tells me it was a Mackerel Sky.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Apparatus for Orchestral Knitting

So remember the Apparatus for Orchestral Knitting? I went to watch, and there were two empty seats, so I wound up being part of it!

It was kind of like this (the youtube's from an earlier performance in Baltimore), but it was in a museum instead of a yarn shop and it sounded way better, at least from where I was sitting. The needles had pickups on the end that made the sounds of knitting come through the speakers. Being all hooked up like that (yarn on one end of the needle, pickup and wire on the other) reminded me of my days working at the call center in Oregon - we were all tethered to the machine. It was pretty cool.

Someone was videotaping the performance - if the one with me in it shows up on youtube I'll post that one.