Here’s how it was at my house yesterday. This is #1 son reading the new Harry Potter, with the help of the cat and an ever-growing pile of detritus on the coffee table. Reading and game-playing were the main activities.
There was some knitting. Actually, there was a lot of tangential knitting. For example, the cows in the Wii game “Charge!” are knitted — you can see the stockinette stitches of their hides when they are up close.
And the excellent book Grave Apparel which I was reading has at the center of the plot the issue of seasonal sweaters (those with snowmen or scarecrows or heaven forbid reindeers and elves) and the people who hate them.
I also looked at a new knitting book.
Lacy Little Knits by Iris Schreier is a very interesting book. There is no actual lace in this book. It is a collection of knits that get a lacy effect from openwork stitches done in unusual ways. The author is best known for her modular knitting, and that is mostly what is in this book. I think it will most appeal to experienced knitters who want to do something different, but it is possible that people who like a lacy effect and are scared of lace knitting will find their solution here.
The first 14 pages explain the philosophy and the special techniques. Then come 23 projects. There are some very unusual ideas here. There is a top that is begun by knitting directly into a tulle scarf. There are tops made with alternating rows of silk and mohair. There is a blouse with a multidirectional band up the front of the stockinette.
Little lace jackets are one of the side threads of the fall fashions, and this book has several very nice ones. There are also shawls, tanks, blouses, tunics, scarves, and skirts. Most are in fairly small gauges (5 stitches to the inch is most common) and sizes range from 35 to 51 inches at the bust.
The photographs are beautiful. All the models are white and all are slender, but there is a wide range of ages, which is unusual. You may not care at all about diversity in knitting photos, but I always notice it, myself.
I was going to mention a couple of really ugly things, but then I happened upon another blogger’s review and they were the very ones that she had singled out as her favorites, so I’ll just say chacun a son gout. I determined to make the diagonal cardigan first, and found several others I expect to make eventually.
The cardigan in question takes only 4 skeins of Artyarns Rhapsody Silk. I know that Artyarns is pricey stuff, but I thought — four skeins. Perhaps that wouldn’t come to so much. I looked it up. That stuff is $40 a skein. The other yarn frequently mentioned in the book is over $20. At that rate, you are looking at $60 scarves, $160 sweaters, and $240 tunics.
This seems particularly steep in light of the fact that the garments are made in surprising and new ways, and could therefore be unsuccessful. Now, both Elann and Knitpicks offer silk blend yarns in the $3 a skein range, and it would also be possible to sub wool or cotton or rayon yarns (though the author warns against it), so it is possible to make these designs for less, but it got me thinking about the question of what a sweater ought to cost. I’ve said before that the typical knitter who makes two or three sweaters a year can buy luxe yarn and still spend less on his or her hobby over the year than a golfer. And I just did a search and found that these prices are what you would pay for a ready-to-wear 100% silk sweater. And that would of course be made by machine.
I begin paying tuition for #1 son this week, so I will not be buying anything for the next four years. I am therefore able to contemplate this question in a detached and abstract way. It still seems like a really high price for yarn. Perhaps the book should have had a disclaimer on the cover: “Achtung! Replicating these garments will cost you a surprising amount!”
I did some housework, though no yard work. I skipped the BBQ and instead made a nice dinner for my family.
The dessert is #1 daughter’s Fresh Fruit Indulgence, the recipe for which you could find by looking at the “recipes” tag.
There are also enchiladas. Making enchiladas is not difficult. You need to make a filling. This you do by shredding up some leftover beef or chicken. If you didn’t think ahead and have no leftovers, just put some steak or chicken in your crockpot in the morning and you will have it all ready by the time you need to cook dinner.
Chop a bit of onion finely, shred some cheese, and mix these things with the shredded meat. Roll the filling in warmed tortillas and lay them in a baking pan with the seam downwards. Pour sauce over them and put them in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.
You can make a sauce by melting a tablespoon of butter and stirring in a tablespoon of flour. Cook it carefully to get rid of the floury taste, and then stir in a cup or two of chicken broth. Once it is thick, whisk in either tomato paste and chili powder or sour cream and chopped green chilies. You can also buy sauce in a can, and sometimes I do.
Cut up tomatoes and peppers to serve with your enchiladas. Mine came from the garden, and how lucky we are, too.
I am working at home today, getting ready for tomorrow’s workshop and catching up on the computer work. I have been trying to increase the local usefulness of the website (that is, people coming into the store with their lists printed out from the website, or ordering within our delivery zone) without getting too many mail orders. This is not that easy, at least not for me. I proposed to The Empress that we try, once Back to School is over and we have time, to figure out how to be glad of orders from Massachusetts instead of treating them as a problem. Then I could just promote the website vigorously without fear of the flatness of the world (in the Thomas Friedman sense). We sent an order off to France the other day, and I don’t think that it was really more trouble than the one we sent off to a neighboring county at the same time. But of course I am not the one who sends the orders. Nor the one who gets the stock in to fill them. I don’t even pack them, so what do I know?
She is trying to figure out a way to do this. In the meantime, I am trying to be ingenious about my website promotion activities, rather than vigorous. It is an interesting exercise. On a par with modular knitting.