Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Third Time's the Charm

Or, in this case, the stocking tops.

I haven't taken a photo yet, but hope to post one soon. Because finally, after three tries...

1. Adapt the pattern to the round, dummy. Oh, and turn the sock inside out, it's easier than knitting backwards. Really. (Dummy.)

2. No, same size needle with only a few stitches more is a bad idea.

2. Aha. Two needle sizes larger.

It worked. Even so, next time (and there will be a next time) I think I'll start the stocking tops first.

Those of you who don't knit (and also, possibly, those who do), "stocking tops" are fancy tops for knee-high or longer socks/stockings.

They're there to keep the stockings up, hide elastic or a garter (either elastic or knitted) and for fun. They also used to be a must for golf stockings.

And so, since my husband is as vintage mad as I am, he has been promised a pair of golf stockings, his with Fair Isle tops rather than lace. We found a gorgeous wool silk yarn in what I call 1930s green, which happens to match a vintage sweater vest he found last year.

Even with the greater size and length of knitting to contend with, I suspect this pair will be much easier.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Maraschino Cherries

I love cocktails. One of my particular favorites is Manhattan. A regular, a perfect, one with extras like orange bitters and a dash of Luxardo. The pit in the cherry, if you'll excuse me for putting it that way, is what passes for a maraschino cherry these days. Nasty.

Now, you can shell out $18.00 or so for a jar from Luxardo, but they're sweet cherries, and syrupy. I'm all for sour cherries...but they're difficult to come by, in or out of season.

On Tuesday I dropped by a local big box store and hit the jackpot. They had sour cherries in light syrup. This means that the cherries are still tart, and the "syrup" is more like cherry juice. We have a bottle of Luxardo, of course.

There are a number of recipes up on the web. The most simple is from the NY Times. In 2007 they recommended getting a jar of the same cherries I used today, and marinating them in Luxardo. Easy, but not quite the thing, to my way of thinking. I didn't want them to be so boozy that they would overwhelm a drink.

Luxardo Cocktail Cherries

(1) 24 oz. glass jar of sour cherries in light syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water (or juice from the packed cherries)
1 tbl. lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick
1 dash freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup Luxardo maraschino liqueur

Combine everything except the cherries and liqueur. Bring mixture to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to medium and add the cherries; simmer for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat; stir in liqueur.

These can be simply stored in the refrigerator as is, but I chose to can mine. I used three 8 oz. jelly jars, and processed two of them for 20 minutes in a water bath; I put the third in to chill. They'll be gone soon enough!

I got a bonus from these canned cherries. The remainder of liquid from simmering with the cherries, added to some more lemon juice and the rest of the juices/syrup from the jar, was enough to make two 4 oz. jars of spiced cherry jelly. (Roast duck, here I come.)

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Madhouse: Sorry

"Sorry seems to be the only word." "Being in love means never having to say you're sorry."

Popular word. And its application has many different uses, it would seem. (For the record I hope I'm never in a situation that applies to the first quote, and I really do not agree with the second one!)

Being sorry is difficult. It means letting go, and usually when one is in no mood to do so. And as often as not, the other party doesn't give a lot of help in the matter.

However, the most difficult part of saying "I'm sorry" is to encounter a recipient who doesn't give a damn--and says so--or, worse, says "It's okay, I forgive you." but doesn't mean that at all.

Sorry and I-forgive-you are a couple of those damned two-way streets you hear about growing up. The ones you're expected to drive without a license.

I don't know if growing up makes it easier, but it does grant more of an understanding of the words and why they are so important. Nearly every time the phrases are used they seem to give a little more understanding, even if it's very hard-won knowledge; maybe especially if hard-won.

Monday, February 07, 2011


Yesterday was Sunday. That's usually a good brunch at home, and a leisurely persual of the NY Times. The Times is one of our luxuries.

We had champagne, French toast, bacon, juice...and instead of the Arts section, I grabbed the Book Review first. There are some good books in there this week. A new biography on Humphrey Bogart is out, for one. And the antiquarian book listings are always fascinating.

As I was reading it, I wondered: really, will real, hold-them-in-your-hands books ever leave us? Please God, no!

I can see that a Kindle is useful,especially while travelling, or using a knitting pattern. You can buy/download book texts that would be too expensive to buy in real copies.

But what about the books themselves? Has anyone ever read Helene Hanff's books...on books? 84, Charing Cross Road is not only a love story about people. She discusses the feel of a calf-bound book, its romance, the superiority to "the stiff cardboardy covers" of books in the 1940s. What in the world would Miss Hanff think now?

One of the best parts of my childhood was books. Libraries. Walking out with a stack so tall that I had to balance it with the edge of my chin...the luxurious, dusty, rich scent of books en masse in a building made for them. Will children born in the next few years have no chance to experience that? Life will be duller without those books, touched not only by other minds, but by other hands as well. (And cats. I'm always amused by sharp toothmarks in the corner of a book. Someone feline left His Mark as well.)

We belong to a private library, and spend a fair amount of time in the public library as well. Don't forget about them. If you haven't cash to support them, use your time and ideas. And ideals. Books are a luxury we can't afford to discard.

Friday, February 04, 2011

The Cat Afghan...I mean, Dr Who Scarf Progress

It's really coming along. The cats are very pleased; at this point it's an excellent length. Both of them can snuggle underneath as I'm knitting it above them.

In other knitting...it's annoying to make stocking tops after you've made the socks. Next time, tops first. But I'll come up with a pattern I like and get it done. A gift is nearly done, and I'm contemplating another 30s sweater, in more boucle yarn: cream, gray, and plum.