Posts tagged ‘knitting’

Long weekend

The long Easter weekend got off to an unpromising start – when I finished work on Thursday evening, there was nothing in the house to mix with gin except flat Lilt from our cocktail party a month ago.

It got better. On Friday, I woke up with a huge surge of enthusiasm for doing all the things I normally don’t have the time or energy to do and spent the day finishing the i-cord on my cardigan and sewing the jacket I’ve been working on for a year.

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Then on Saturday I woke up and felt absolutely exhausted, thanks to a busy previous couple of weeks, and spent most of the day lounging around not doing very much. Well, I made some bread and went shopping, but that was about it.

On Sunday, we went to see Scientist Fiancé’s family and ate too much roast dinner and played silly games. And Monday was gorgeous and I spent most of the day in the garden. I had breakfast outside and then did some ms6001735uch overdue weeding, as a result of which you can now see the gravel. I also rescued the peas, which have been in need of potting on some days now, and planted squash and more peas and lots of basil. And probably some other things. Also, my coriander is still looking reasonably healthy, which is good news as I have a terrible track record with coriander.

And here are some pretty Easter flowers:

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I hope you all had lovely weekends.

April 15, 2009 at 10:09 am 2 comments

This week I would like to rant about… fish!

The i-cord is probably going to take longer than I initially thought, because it is boring as hell and there’s 48 inches of it in total. Yawn. RSI. Yawn.

So to distract me from that, I am going to rant about fish. I really should turn this into some kind of weekly ‘food in the news’ feature – that would make me feel like a proper, grown-up blogger. But I keep getting distracted.

Anyway, pollack is being rebranded. As Colin. ‘Colin’ is to be pronounced ‘co-lan’ (nasal vowel rather than proper ‘n’ – even I think blogging in IPA is geeky). To their credit, Sainsbury’s want to sell more of the stuff, because it is virtually indistinguishable from cod and, although this is not difficult, more plentiful, and they want to do it now because we eat more fish over Easter. I suppose that makes sense. Even people who don’t eat much fish the rest of the year often have it on Good Friday. I have nauseous memories of the yearly fish pie my mother would make for the benefit of my very traditional grandparents, even though as a family we hardly ever ate fish at any other time of year.

For an island nation, Britain doesn’t eat a lot of fish, for which Henry VIII bears a great deal of the responsibility. After the break with Rome and the dissolution of the monasteries, eating fish became seen as a rather Catholic practice and good Protestants were supposed to eat lots of red meat. This is, given that being an island tends to lead to having a lot of coastline, somewhat silly. Personally, I have tried (especially since moving in with my Viking) to overcome culture with logic, but my taste buds are surprisingly resilient.

But perhaps we should be grateful for small mercies – it may be as well we don’t eat as much cod as we could.

However, I would suggest that the reason why pollack is ‘unpopular’ and we buy cod instead is less because we think that the name is silly* and more because, well, it just isn’t available very often. And you have leading sellers of processed fish products boasting about their products being ‘100% cod’ as if it’s something to be proud of, and you always get cod in restaurants. Cod, like much post-war food, is paradoxically both the default choice and the aspirational choice.

Hence, I suppose, the name change. And, yes, removing the rather ordinary, slightly comical English name in favour of a fancy French one does attempt to give it connotations of affluence and French cuisine, but it isn’t exactly the most straightforward name. I suppose they couldn’t just make something up out of thin air, but deliberately choosing something that is spelt like a common English name but is pronounced differently and uses a sound we don’t even have in English isn’t the easiest thing in the world either, which makes me think there’s something else going on here.

Firstly, it reinforces the idea of sustainable food choices as being associated with well-educated, middle-class ‘foodies’. Following T*sco’s pseudo-populist response to the first Chicken Out programmes, I’m half expecting one of the more budget supermarkets to start marketing ‘Just Plain Cod’, the normal, everyday, wildly unsustainable food for people who can’t be doing with this fancy-schmancy French malarkey and would just pronounce /kɔlɛ̃/ like the name ‘Colin’.

It also allows the food industry to shift the blame onto us. We don’t buy pollack because we aren’t mature enough to eat something with a silly name. It has nothing to do with the fishing industry, the processors, EU subsidies, the supermarkets that offer an illusion of choice which is really just uniformity in different-coloured packaging: in short, the cod-industrial complex. It perpetuates this myth that the global food system is responding to our choices and our preferences, and allows them to say, ‘Ooh, look at this magnanimous gesture we’re making to help you, poor ignorant consumer, to choose your fish more responibly!’ when in truth we didn’t choose to be ignorant about food and didn’t choose to have such restricted food access and so little real choice. We had it forced upon us.

Right. I have another 36 inches of i-cord to knit. Photos to follow when it’s done.

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* I mean, really, when you buy fish in a supermarket, how often do you actually say the name out loud to another person anyway? Usually you just pick it up off the shelf and put it in the trolley, requiring no silly names to pass your lips.

April 7, 2009 at 8:41 pm 2 comments

So much to knit, so little time

Having all but finished the Perpetual Pink Cardigan (just the i-cord tie to go, will do that this evening), I am looking for a new knitting project. Coincidentally, I am also going to a friend’s wedding in the summer and need something to wear over my dress. Methinks I shall knit something.

However, I can’t think what would be best. I want something reasonably quick and am reluctant to do another cardigan, but I generally find bolero/shrug-type things look terrible on me and I was hoping to have something a bit more substantial than a wrap or shawl – the wedding is on the west coast of Scotland, you see, so not only might it be quite chilly, but I also don’t want to be constantly hoiking up whatever-it-is during the ceilidh. Something that will stay put would be ideal!

Picture of dress is below. If anybody has any inspiration, I would be extremely grateful!

blue-white-dress

April 7, 2009 at 3:45 pm 2 comments

Christmas in more detail

A few days of housework and wage-slavery have brought me back down from the rather emotionally-charged Christmas period. Thieving scumbags took Scientist Boyfriend’s family jewellery, which is horrid, but everything else was just stuff which can be replaced (or which we can do without), and it’s more the thought of big stompy burglar men leaving mud all over our carpets and rifling through my underwear drawer that upsets me. The forensic people came round, but there wasn’t anything they could get prints off, but they’re hoping to get more next door as they had to break a window to get in there. *fumes*

Other than that, though, Christmas was lovely, despite fearing permanent damage to my stomach lining from the enormous quantities of sparkling wine consumed. We were up with my parents in Northumberland for most of the time, eating vast amounts of yummy things, sandwiched between a couple of days with Scientist Boyfriend’s family, eating vast amounts of yummy things, and my Granny’s 80th birthday, where yet more yummy things were consumed in excess. (I have since been rather enthusiastic about brown rice and fresh vegetables. It’s all about balance, I suppose.) Despite a small accident with the marzipan (always read the recipe, don’t just guess!) my cakes were very successful, if rustic-looking, and much appreciated by my dad’s shooting buddies. (Scientist Boyfriend has been telling everyone since we got home about the two exciting things that happened to him over Christmas: ‘Well, Hamster and I got engaged….. AND, I shot a pheasant!!!’) I am now the proud owner of many decadent foodie things, a veritable cornucopia of fancy teas and an ergonomic hoe. Hoe hoe hoe.

I knitted the dalek. He was finished at 3 a.m. in the morning the day before midnight mass (‘Oh, just one more round, then I’ll go to sleep. Ooh, only 10 more to go now…’) I am rather proud of him, if I say so myself.

Knitted dalek

Knitted dalek

And now we have to plan a wedding. But we have until April or June 2010, and I’m determined not to become one of those neurotic women who gets slightly loopy and self-absorbed over it all. We’ve picked an area of the country, and will do exact date and venue once I’ve heard if I’ve got onto this course, and then I am not going to stress. I still have this crazy idea I can make my own dress, although I presume at some point in the next 18 months my mother will force me to see reason, as I haven’t even succeeded in making those sodding curtains without falling out with my sewing machine. Quite why I think I’ll be able to turn delicate fabrics into something that will be extensively photographed is a mystery to me as well. If I could knit it, I’d probably be all right but… well, I’m really rather conventional in terms of taste, if not of politics. Ah well, I suppose I’ll come into my own when all my friends start having babies….

Ooh, and I’m going to see Vandana Shiva on the 27th!! Yay!!

January 6, 2009 at 10:24 pm 6 comments

Things I have learnt recently

In the last two days, I have taught myself:

  • how to do a provisional cast-on
  • how to make bobbles
  • how to do ssk properly – apparently I’ve been doing it wrong all along

December 10, 2008 at 10:23 pm Leave a comment

In which I realise heirloom vegetables are superior to F1s and experiment with vegetables

Scientist Boyfriend has spent all weekend swotting up on pensions for an exam, so I’ve been trying to find ways to entertain myself that don’t involve making a lot of noise or having to use the sitting room. I haven’t yet got round to making curtains, but I have sewn up the end of my second sock, which looks a lot better than the first. I might take a picture of them to put up next week if you promise not to mention that one of them is a good two inches longer than the other (and than my foot).

I’ve also pottered around the garden, by which I mean I’ve done a bit of weeding and stared at my tomatoes like a paranoid… thing that stares at tomatoes. (Hmm. Must work on analogy.) Three of them are turning red (as, excitingly, is a pepper, which I had more or less resigned myself to eating green!) and I am totally converted to heirloom varieties. All the plants grown from organic seed or given to me by other gardeners (who I know use old, non-F1 varieties even if I don’t know exactly what sort these plants are) are, if not ripe, at least looking mostly healthy and appear to have withstood the sneaky substitution of a deluge for summer, while the F1s, designed for commercial growers who spray with things, have all succumbed much worse to blight and the fruits are going rotten and I don’t know if I’ll be able to salvage much. So there we are.

I also made a chocolate chilli cake yesterday, which was yummy, although there was no evidence of my having put any chilli in it. If you fancy trying it and want a bit of a kick, up the chilli content. I’ve also discovered more things to do with kale, in preparation for a winter of cabbage and parsnips. (Also got the first parsnips since last winter, will be making soup methinks!) Heartily recommend both these recipes for a veg box crisis moment:

Penne with kale, gorgonzola and roasted onions (from www.discoverkale.co.uk), and

Stuffed mushrooms with kale

Didn’t follow them to the letter – had no gorgonzola so just added parmesan (and also pine nuts because we are pine nut fiends and add them to almost everything!) to the first and used brie instead of goat’s cheese in the second – but that’s a much more fun way to cook anyway. Also had two nice squash dishes this week, much more exciting than last year’s stuff-with-brown-rice-and-roast experiments, acorn (I think) squash and hazlenut lasagne a few days ago and spaghetti squash with olives, tuna and tomato sauce this evening.

And once I have snatched Scientist Boyfriend from the jaws of pensions-related doom we’re going blackberrying again and are going to make blackberry wine. Found lots of berries last week on my 11-mile walk last week, so have to hope they haven’t been eaten by anything else in the meantime. (I was trying, incidentally, to decide what I wanted to do with my life, as everything I want to do requires me to have money and everything that pays will make me miserable. All I decided was that walking is fun and I’d quite like a dog. Blackberry wine, I suppose, comes a close second to meaning and direction or hard capital, though.)

September 21, 2008 at 7:54 pm 2 comments

Hallelujah!

Ladies and gentlemen, please ignore my hairy legs and focus on the fact that

I have knitted a sock!

Please also ignore the fact that the toe is about 1.5 in. longer than my foot, giving them a rather elfin aspect, and that the end distinctly does not look like the kitchener stitch invisible seam in the video. I have knitted a sock. Hallelujah.

June 18, 2008 at 11:33 am 1 comment


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The Heritage Crafts Network

Rob Hopkins, Transition Handbook

“Environmentalists have often been guilty of presenting people with a mental image of the world’s least desirable holiday destination – some seedy bed and breakfast near Torquay, with nylon sheets, cold tea and soggy toast – and expecting them to get excited about the prospect of NOT going there. The logic and the psychology are all wrong.”

Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

"Food is that rare moral arena in which the ethical choice is generally the one more likely to make you groan with pleasure."

Carlo Petrini

"A gastronome who is not also an environmentalist is an idiot. An environmentalist who is not also a gastronome is, well, sad."

Sharon Astyk

"I am, of course, firmly opposed to consumerism and corporatism in all its forms, and I believe that we are deeply confused about material needs and wants. Now let me explain how books and yarn are totally different than the material things that other people want ;-)…."

Raj Patel, at Slow Food Nation

"Biofuels, which is the preposterous policy that we should grow food not to eat it but to set it on fire."