My current work in progress:

1. "T-Rex," designed by Rebecca Danger, knit from Blue moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock in the "Lucky" colorway on U.S. size 3 needles.
2. Myriad stealth projects.

mmmmm . . . Mac and Cheese!

Furthering my love for all things orange, I made mac and cheese this weekend. Here’s what I did.

I assembled the ingredients.

ingredients083108 240x160 mmmmm . . . Mac and Cheese!

2 cups (8 oz) elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 – 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cups milk (I use 2% milk)
2 1/4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (I use 2%)
4 tablespoons parmesan cheese

Cook the elbow macaroni according to package directions until al dente and drain. Set aside.

macaroni083108 240x160 mmmmm . . . Mac and Cheese!

Make a bechamel sauce:
In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter over high heat. When just melted, dump in the flour and blend well with a wire whisk to make a roux. Cook for a minute or two over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and slowly whisk in the milk. Add the spices and cook, whisking constantly, over medium heat until the sauce thickens.

bechamel083108 240x160 mmmmm . . . Mac and Cheese!

Reduce the heat to low and stir in all but 1/4 cup of the cheddar cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted.

cheesesauce083108 240x160 mmmmm . . . Mac and Cheese!

Add the cooked macaroni to the cheese sauce and mix until thoroughly incorporated.

Pour the mixture into a greased 3-quart casserole dish. Top with the reserved cheddar cheese and the parmesan cheese.

topping083108 240x160 mmmmm . . . Mac and Cheese!

Bake in a 375-degree oven for about half an hour.

casserole083108 240x160 mmmmm . . . Mac and Cheese!

Enjoy!

There are many variations you can employ in the making of the mac and cheese, but this is my favorite. The cayenne pepper and dry mustard add a nice little “bite” to it. Zesty!

Speaking of orange, I am on the edging of my shawl. Excitement abounds!

shawl083108 240x160 mmmmm . . . Mac and Cheese!

See?

lucy083108 240x160 mmmmm . . . Mac and Cheese!

Lucy is the personification of excitement!

Orange You Glad?

shawl082808 240x160 Orange You Glad?

Several of you have remarked that while you are generally not a fan of the color orange, you really like the color of my shawl in progress. Me too!

I’ve never gone out of my way to knit with orange, nor do I have much in the way of orange in my wardrobe.  But the yarn I’m using for my Shetland Triangle is, to quote Jessica, like liquid sunshine. I can’t stop looking at it. It’s such a happy color.

I’ll be keeping this shawl for myself, and it will likely live at my office. What could be better than wrapping yourself in a cloak of sunshine when work sucks?

Marion asked:

Is this a pattern you could do with dogs on your lap? Not that easy? I’m looking for a shawl pattern that isn’t too hard.

This question makes me smile, because I am imagining giving patterns “dog” ratings. “This is a two-dog pattern — you can knit it with two dogs in your lap.” Perhaps an icon system of little dogs to designate how many dogs you could have on your lap while knitting. Tiny icons for chihuahuas, and big icons for Irish wolfhounds.

Where was I?

Can you knit this pattern with dogs on your lap? It depends, I guess, on how experienced a knitter you are. If you have knit lace before, you should be able to. I am knitting mine balancing one cat and one MacBook Air in my lap most of the time. As I said, the pattern is easily memorizable. If you haven’t memorized it, a glance at the chart at the beginning of each row should be enough.

I’ve got a row counter in play as well, to help keep track. I will be making this larger than the pattern directs, as the original is a rather small shawl. I will be knitting until I run out — don’t want to waste any of the precious handspun!

Lucy sez:

lucy082808 240x213 Orange You Glad?

“I want to be alone.”

The Shawl, She Grows

As I promised/threatened, I cast on for the Shetland Triangle immediately after blogging yesterday. Here it is:

shawl082708 240x160 The Shawl, She Grows

I went with a US7 (4.5mm) needle and am very pleased with the results.

082708 240x160 The Shawl, She Grows

This is a fun pattern — very easy to execute the stitches and easy enough to pretty much memorize. Yu really don’t need stitch markers for this one, but I did place one, right before the center stitch. It’s there as a reminder to me, to say “Hey! You’ve reached the center!”

Because this is such an easy pattern to knit, it’ll probably become boring after a while. But I think knitting with handspun will make it less tedious. The yarn is just lovely to knit — sproingy and soft and with enough variations in the color to keep things interesting.

In fact, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go knit now.

Lucy sez:

lucy082708 195x240 The Shawl, She Grows

“I am the Queen!”

Fickle

adj. – marked by erratic changeableness in affections or attachments.

Yesterday I showed a picture of some Handmaiden Cashmere and Silk here, all gung-ho about it and raring to start knitting a lace scarf. Then I got this in the mail:

yarn082608 240x160 Fickle

This is 660 yards of handspun fingering weight merino from Zarzuela’s Fibers. The colorway is called “DC Sunrise.” Jessica dyed the roving and named it thusly because I posted a sunrise photo (of Washington DC) almost every weekday morning on Plurk. When I saw the roving, I had to have it, and Jessica did a custom spinning job for me. It arrived yesterday, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since the moment I had it in my hot little hands.

yarn082608a 160x240 Fickle

So it will become Evelyn Clark’s Shetland Triangle. I will be starting the knitting of this just as soon as I post this blog entry. The pattern calls for a US 6 needle, but I think I’ll use a 7 — my yarn is just an ootch thicker than the yarn called for in the pattern, I think.

Thanks for all your lovely comments on my Cleite Shawl. Katherine asked how much yarn I used. I did not use the entirely of the skein of yarn I had for it (which was 880 yards). I’d guess that I used about 700 yards.

Katherine also asked if one could use Icelandic wool for this kind of shawl. If you mean Icelandic laceweight, yes, I don’t see why not. You wouldn’t want to go much thicker than laceweight for this pattern, I think, because it is a somewhat “solid” lace pattern and you’d lose some “drape-ability” with a heavier yarn.

Vickie commented: “I am not sure how to know when to stop knitting, i.e., when the unblocked shawl is big enough to become the blocked shawl I want it to be. Do you have any “rule of thumb” that you use as a guide? I find that most patterns only tell you the dimensions after blocking.”

I take the unblocked shawl and pull the center out — one hand at the top and one at the tip, amd measure that. I find if I add a couple more inches to that measurement, I get a pretty accurate idea of the blocked length. Do the same thing for the width — pull from the center back out to one end and measure.

Lucy would say hello, but she appears to be busy . . . 

lucy082608 240x198 Fickle

Cleite Shawl

Before blocking:

cleitebefore082508 240x160 Cleite Shawl

After blocking:

cleitefinished082508 240x124 Cleite Shawl

Waiting for its new owner:

cleitewaiting082508 240x180 Cleite Shawl

Being worn by its new owner!

cleiteandalana082508 240x180 Cleite Shawl

She likes it! icon smile Cleite Shawl And I was only 6 days late for her birthday, so it could have been worse.

To recap, this is the Cleite Shawl by Miriam Felton, available for sale from The Twist Collective as a pdf download. I knit mine from Tempted handpainted merino laceweight yarn in the “Rose Red” colorway on 3.25mm needles.

I did 8 pattern repeats total for a smallish shawl. The recipient did not want anything too big — just a little shawl to throw over her shoulders in the office when it gets chilly.

The pattern was clearly written and was both charted and written out. While I found it pretty easy, it never becmae boring, so it was a very fun knit. All in all, a successful project!

What’s next?

Hmmmmmm . . .

yarn082508 240x160 Cleite Shawl

Meanwhile

Lucy wants to show you her new catnip quilt from Super Fun Pet Stuff.

lucy082508 240x160 Cleite Shawl

She seems pleased with it, now that she’s dragged it over to the rocking chair, doubled it, and shoved it under one of the rockers.

lucy082508a 240x213 Cleite Shawl