Friday, July 22, 2016

Pickle Time

The summer temps are soaring, the humidity is high, and the cucumber vines are producing abundantly. Two hills, each with eight seeds, are vining up and over the raised beds. The cucumbers play hide and seek with my grandson as he exclaims with glee at spying the biggest and pokiest.

When family and friends refuse to take more, I make what our family calls "bread and butter pickles." Now I wonder if anyone ever ate them with bread and butter. Really, they are better in potato or egg salad. I use a recipe my Mom found in the red and white checked Better Homes and Gardens looseleaf cookbook. My version of this cookbook was published in 1973. The edges and spine are worn and the pages with favorite recipes have smudges from frequent use.

The pickle ingredients are basic: sliced cucumbers, green peppers, and onion. Cover the sliced vegetables with pickling salt and ice and let sit for 3 hours. Then turn on some kitchen music and wash jars. Sing as you drain and combine the veggies with cider vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, turmeric, celery seed. Bring to a boil, put in clean hot jars, screw on lids, and water bath for five minutes. Change the CD and sing with gusto as you clean-up the mess. These pickles aren't hard to make but it does take a good portion of the day. Singing helps pass the time. Mom and I made these without a food processor. We sliced the vegetables by hand, sometimes scraping knuckles or fingers. How fortunate I am to have a food processor for pickles, pesto, garlic, nuts, and other kinds of chopping.

In other garden notes, the basil tastes great while the tomatoes are late in setting on fruit. The healthiest tomato plant is growing out of the compost bins. I think this plant must be from cherry or grape tomato scraps tossed in during early spring. I'm not sure how I'll get in to harvest any tomatoes but I enjoy watching them grow. It is always fun when a plant pops up at the edge of the compost bin.

I'm knitting on a pair of socks and cast on a shawl in a pattern I've wanted to try for some time. I'm pondering my next project from yarn that has been in a storage tote for a long time. The worsted yarn project requires cooler days and a little math. Take good care of yourself and others on these hot crazy summer days.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

New/Old Projects

This summer I've been knitting a few projects from yarn that has been marinating in storage bins. These mitts are one result of a new/old combination. Sometime in the 1990's, I knit a disaster of a sweater for my daughter. I combined several patterns to make a cabled pullover with set-in sleeves. I knew little about sleeve design but persevered with the sleeve caps several times. What was I thinking? I still couldn't design a sleeve cap anyone would want to wear. The sweater is long gone but the leftover yarn, a blend of merino and border leister, held up well.

Last month, I re-skeined and washed the yarn to remove the crimp from previous stitches. There was enough for two pairs of mitts and one pair of mittens. In my mitten file, I found an old Coats and Clark Book No.192, copyright 1969. The booklet sold for thirty-five cents and contained 39 patterns, most of them rather clunky looking. However, the mitten pattern is a classic and I was happy to rediscover it. The left leaning decrease at the top is a slip one, knit one, pass the slipped stitch over the knit stitch instead of the typical SSK (slip slip knit.) I did substitute the SSK decrease. No doubt, the pattern was written before Barbara Walker invented that decrease. These will be a gift or go to a charity.

Fingerless mitts are good for driving, reading in winter, and walking in Spring and Fall. They make great gifts. I knit a pair of Kindling Mitts, teaching myself how to cable without a needle. Why have I not tried to do this sooner? I also knit these Ribbed Mitts. The pattern is free and well written. This past weekend, I gave the Ribbed Mitts to my daughter on her birthday. Twenty years later, I thought she might like to have something knit from the yarn that is wearable. No puffy sleeves were involved.