Current projects

I’ve been doing pretty well at plowing through some projects that have been hanging around for altogether too long. It gets to the point where I just want them DONE. The time I spent doing production knitting for the fashion industry comes in handy here; I can really churn out product if I put my mind to it. The striped sweater has been joined for the yoke and I should be able to plow through a fair bit of that this weekend. The proportions look wonky here, since the yoke is so squished up on the needle — those sleeves look HUGE to me! even though I know they’re quite closely fitted! — but I think it’ll be good.

I’ve also been putting in some time spinning some hateful-but-pretty merino/tencel (last mentioned here, in December). The singles are done; I just need to finish plying. Then I’ll move on to something else from that post, maybe the merino/alpaca since I have the least of that.

Both the spinning and the plying are pretty deplorable here, which is what happens when you take a lifeless, overprocessed fiber that you kind of hate working with but love the color of enough to deal and spread the spinning of it out over several years in between much more interesting, enjoyable projects. It’ll be usable, one way or the other, so I’m not really worried. I’d just like it to be over.

Here be stripes.

I’ve recently picked up a project that I’d been neglecting, a simple striped pullover in a very plain, basic sportweight yarn (Elann Highland Sport, which doesn’t seem to exist on their site anymore). I managed to get a few more stripes on the body after taking this picture, so should be able to join the sleeves for the yoke by the end of the week. I’m planning on this being an unfancy knock-around sweater that I’ll wear to death, so I think I’ll likely do a simple raglan yoke and scoop neck, but I’ll see if anything else occurs to me by the time I get there…

New York day trip: Dead Horse Bay

I remember hearing about Dead Horse Bay ages ago and thinking it sounded interesting. Then this past Friday I followed a link from somewhere and ended up here, at which point I said to myself, Self, you should go there and see what that’s all about. So I did.

Dead Horse Bay is out on the far eastern edge of Brooklyn, and in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was home to a number of horse-rendering plants, where dead horses were taken to be turned into glue and fertilizer and whatever else one can turn a dead horse into. Post-processing, the bones were just dumped in the water. Once automobiles became more popular and there were fewer horse corpses to go around, the area was used as a landfill. The trash heap was capped in the ’30s, but exploded onto the beach a couple decades later and because of whatever tidal oddities go on there, a lot of it remains to this day.

It’s actually pretty easy to get there: take the 2 train to the last stop, then pick up the Q35 bus right outside the station. I asked the driver to give me a head’s up when we got to the last stop before the bridge, which he was nice enough to do after double-checking that I knew where I was headed. The trail leads off right from the bus stop and it’s about a ten-minute walk before you hit sand. I’d checked the tide tables beforehand to make sure I’d arrive around low tide, since there didn’t seem to be much point if everything I wanted to look at was under water. There were a handful of other people walking around, but few enough to really feel like I’d somehow managed to remove myself to a different place and/or time entirely.

Early on in my wanderings, I met a mysterious old man who gave me this clay pipe he’d just found. As I mentioned on twitter yesterday, there’s pretty much no way it doesn’t have magical properties.

Oui! C’est une pipe!

I’d read accounts of other visitors finding horse bones on the beach, but this was the only evidence of that part of the area’s history that I came across:

I did find a fair number of intact old bottles in the midst of all of those shards, but honestly, I don’t really have any use for old bottles. So the only things I brought home with me were the pipe and an interestingly calcified clam shell. I don’t know that I’d necessarily be in a hurry to return, but I’m glad I went. It was a fascinating glimpse into a little-known piece of New York history, as well as its potential future (hundred-year-old glass on the beach has a certain kind of charm; this much modern garbage decidedly would not), and gave me a chance to explore a part of Brooklyn I’d never visited. If you do decide to take a trip out there, wear your absolute sturdiest shoes. I was wearing hiking shoes and was fine, but I think walking over that much broken glass would have ripped normal sneakers to shreds.

Finished Buttercup

Someone is not having fun with the self-timer. Someone is also wicked over-exposed so all y’all can see the details of the top.

I finally finished my Buttercup. Next up in Stephanie’s Summer of Stunt Crafts: a Dread Pirate Roberts skirt to go with it.*

I took this off immediately after I got a reasonably decent photo, since cashmere, no matter how lightweight, is not at all the thing I want to be wearing on a sultry New York June day. I think it’s reasonably cute and flattering though, and it used up some yarn I’d had hanging around for ages, so it’s going in the win column.

*No, not really. Though now that you mention it…. [ponders]

In which I crave vegetables and then eat them

A few dishes I can recommend when you too have those days when vegetables are pretty much all you want to eat, and you want them to be exciting and filling and varied and delicious.

1. Soba Salad With Spinach, Edamame, and Miso Dressing

What I changed: I doubled all of the vegetables except the edamame, which I recommend doing, and also doubled the noodles, which I don’t recommend, since the end of the leftovers were definitely on the gummy side, but otherwise, this was great. I used shredded kale instead of spinach and shaved the carrots with a vegetable peeler instead of chopping them. I added the edamame when the noodles were al dente-ish, then, once it came back to a boil, dropped in the kale and carrots for a second or two before draining the whole thing. This dressing is really, really delicious and, for them what cares about this sort of thing, I will point out that it doesn’t use any oil.

2. Fresh Fennel and Lemon Slaw

I don’t seem to have taken a photo of this one, but it’s a good basic that I expect I’ll have some version of in my fridge all summer: a big bowl of shredded raw vegetables with a light and tangy dressing. Most of my lunches this week were a container filled halfway with the soba salad and the rest of the way with this slaw. They made for a nice pairing.

3. Orange Pan-glazed Tempeh

My friend Zoe had made this for me once, a couple of years ago, and I’d been holding on to the recipe since then. Savory orange dishes always make me think of Chinese food, so I played up those qualities here, adding a bunch of chopped broccoli (and peeled broccoli stems) to the pan to cook for a few minutes after the tempeh browned, but before I added the sauce. The main change I made to the sauce was adding a generous shake of crushed red pepper flakes, but next time I’ll likely add some chicken or vegetable stock so it’s still saucy after the extra vegetables absorb a lot of the liquid. I ate this over brown basmati rice for dinner last night, lunch today, and — I predict — lunch tomorrow. It’s a keeper.