Vegetables, yarn, and yarns: all of my passions all in one place.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Knitting Post-Production

My first mother bear is has reached completion.

If you are wondering why its legs are stubby, the reason is that I missed a line in the pattern that would have added an additional 14 rows to both legs. I sort of love the stubby legged version of a mother bear, and I have it confirmed by the mother bear organization that they are okay with the change. Still, this may be the only dwarf-sized bear I make, if only because it was created due to mishap rather than intention. The pattern itself is simple (barring missing entire lines of instruction), but it does necessitate a lot of finishing, namely grafting or faux grafting, picking up stitches, a running stitch along the neck, “pinching” the ears, and embroidering the face, as well as stuffing the bear through its head opening before the rest of finishing can proceed.


There are books out there about the gloriousness of finishing, and I’m half convinced the authors of those books are on psychotropic medication. I don’t see how else they could think finishing is anything but a necessary evil.

Finishing is something I don’t really spend a lot of time thinking about when knitting. Generally, I despise seaming, picking up stitches (though not as much as I hate seaming), and blocking. Essentially, the only part of knitting that I actively enjoy is the actual knitting. I also love seeing a finished object I have cared enough about to go through the tedium and time-consuming task of finishing. Oddly, I have a fondness for embroidery and duplicate stitch, nonetheless.

Even so, finishing is just as important as the knitting itself. I have botched more than enough instances of grafting to know that no matter how lovely your stitch definition is, your sweater will look plain bad if you don’t have patience in the sewing up and picking up at seams and collars. I’ve had to frog many a hasty arm hole sleeve starts due to speedy negligence. I cringe to think how my sweaters would have turned out if I had simply went with the first finishing attempt.

Here’s the right way to do it: Knit all the pieces, and then, do not sew them up right after you get done. Wait a day and start the task with a fresh rather than frantic mind. Learn the technique required, and if you miss up, rip it out and start again.

Have a rough idea of crab stitch and plan to make your best guess? Back off. Instead, research the technique until you understand it thoroughly. Take the time to practice if it has the potential to ruin all your hard work if you do it wrong the first time.

And by Thor, if there is a noticeable mistake you can’t live with, go back and redo that bit before finishing. You can’t go back after, and you will never forgive yourself later, no matter how much you want to hold a finished object in your grasp.

As for my mother bear, I stuffed it and I sewed up the head. I threaded thin strands of black yarn on a sharp tapestry needle and I used satin stitch to embroider pupils and nose and backstitch to do the outline of the eyes and the smile. I loved the stubby legs so I didn’t worry about my bear’s dwarfism. Every bear’s unique, after all, just like every person is.

Then, I rushed the ears. I didn’t sit and really get what was implied in “pinching” them, despite my prep work before I started in on the bear pattern in the first place. I admit that they didn’t turn out like a lot of the ears I see in the mother bear website pictures, but they do look like ears. Plus, I have learned a valuable ear-making lesson for when I start in on my second bear.

Even so, I’m happy I didn’t rush the finishing on the Austen baby bonnet. It is all finished now, right down to the string that ties at the baby’s chin. I sat on the instructions for making that string and just thought it out until I got it. Then, it hit me. I was trying to figure out how to attach the string to the base of the bonnet, near the neckline, but the instructions clearly say it goes at the cast-on edge. You may recall, as I did then, that the main section of the bonnet was done top down, starting with the faux-picot edge eyelet trim. I twisted three sections of the yarn until they plied together, then I knotted them together at both ends and slipped the whole string through the empty space between the eyelets and the caston edge. That cast on was made for that string to fit right in, like the string in a sweatshirt hood. To the very end, I was thrilled with the level of genius incorporated into that hat.

Finshing: I may not like it, but I like the look of a finished object when it's done right.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Oatmeal. OATMEAL!? (Insta and Burgerized)

(Points if you too noted that the title is a shoutout to Frosty the Snowman.)
With sadness I convey the reality of my cooking dejection. I only have these two small endeavors to report: homemade instead oatmeal and from-scratch vegetarian oat and bean burgers. While they are healthy and not from a box, their existence strikes me as lacking in luster blog-wise. You see, I have blogged of from-scratch whole-oat oatmeal and veggie burgers before. Nonetheless, this is what I’ve been making.
I have come to a cross-roads with my desk job. It is lovely to go there and work my time and then go home and not take my work with me. However, sitting in a desk does have its downsides, namely on the volume of my hind quarters and thighs. My solution: oatmeal. I am on the oatmeal-for-lunch diet. for the moment, until I can think of a better cource of action that isn't diety in nature. Oatmeal is filling and fiber-filled, and it means that I eat its small portion and am sated until two thirty, when I have my usual snack of Greek yogurt. It means that I don’t overeat out of boredom while sitting at a desk all day, only to go home and feast on dinner-portions. It means I stand some chance of maintaining my figure.
Instant Cinnamon-Raison Oatmeal
1 48 oz canister instant oats
¼ c raw sugar
¼ c brown sugar
1 T cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
a few shakes of salt
flax seeds (as much or as little as you want. I eyeballed it)
1 c raisins
14 snack-sized plastic bags (feel free to reuse repeatedly after a good rinsing)

Mix all the ingredients well in a large bowl and divide the whole into ½ c portions into the 14 plastic snackbags. Of course, feel free to make substitutions for the fruits, seeds, spices, etc.
This works rather well as a filling but light lunch. And one batch makes enough for two weeks. Moreover, making the mix from scratch costs less and gives you complete control over the ingredients list. No extra sugar. Flax seeds for Omega 3s. No preservatives. Not too shabby.
Oat and Bean Burgers
These babies were made using the Vegetarian Lunchbox burger recipe. This was the second time I used it and didn't turn out as well as the first. It calls for way too many seeds. Next time, I will cut them by at last half. Those burgers were drowning in flax seeds.

I mixed all the ingredients together, rice, oats, beans, carrots, flaxseeds, spices. Then I smashed them into eight patties and baked them.

They were still tasty, though a little bland and overloaded with tiny seeds. But heck, a burger's a burger. You slap it between bread, add cheese, and it's a meal.

Hopefully, I can get into the habit of making several meals on the weekend and then put then in the fridge to reheat during the rest of the week. I'd rather be wowed by dinner than plop a lackluster oat burger in a bun.