Introducing Beatrice

Posted on by MK Carroll

Beatrice Would Like a New Shirt

You've seen Beatrice before on this blog, modeling scarves patiently while I fiddle with angles, light, tripod, and a digital camera that needs a good spanking every once in a while, but I haven't gotten around to formally introducing her to you until now. It has come to my attention that Beatrice ought to have some shirts of her own* - she's smaller than I am, having belonged originally to my petite grandmother. My grandmother was a professional seamstress, and Mom thinks that Beatrice is the dressmakers form she used for her own personal sewing. If so, Beatrice spent many years as the fit model for tasteful shells, blouses, and jackets made with high-quality fabrics and clean, simple lines. Grandmother was a woman of dignified and elegant taste. Money was tight for a long time, but she could do things like cut and stitch a custom-fit and classically styled top that would last her for years out of a piece of velvet rescued from a remnant bin somewhere in LA's Fashion District.

I don't think my grandmother ever expected that one of her grandchildren would grow up to dye her hair loud colors and make, things to wear...out of torn-up thrift shop finds. She loved it! Always encouraged my creativity, and declared my dark purple hair dye to be her favorite because it reminded her of irises (her favorite flower).

Am also fairly certain that my grandmother never envisioned her dressmakers form sporting such a...well, a...isn't that a lovely shade of green? That shirt, incidentally, was a gift to me from my sisters. I have worn it, in public even, but it's just not Beatrice's style.

p.s. thanks for the encouraging comments and emails -  I think my grandmother would have agreed with you.

*"Oh, for &%$#  sake. Get her something that fits, sweetie. You haven't been to Stylus in ages; now you have a reason other than finding something for yourself to replace those dishrags you insist on calling garments." (note from Viv)

That Hat

Posted on by MK Carroll

One of my nearest and dearest is home for the holidays, and we put in some serious eat-pizza-and-watch-Poirot-DVD time last week. While we were sprawled on the couch and I was hemming the Top-Down Ribbed Beanie I knit up for my BIL, she said "do you remember that hat you made me?" and I did, yes, because that was the year that I crocheted a beret with a spiral pattern of eyelets for myself, but had to crochet 8 or 9 of them before I got one for myself because people would spot them in progress and want one. It was one of the things that got me started on pattern writing, although I never did get around to writing a pattern down for the caps and berets I made with that pattern. I had it memorized. Or at least I had it memorized several years ago. It was based on an afghan motif, or maybe a doily. "Could you make me another one? I wear it all the time." She didn't bring it with her. I can't find mine, and even though I wore it frequently for a couple of years, I can't remember exactly what it looked like. The spiraling eyelets are much like the ones in the Interweave Crochet Lace Cap by Kim Werker, but the center used a different motif and I think the base number was different. I did a few variations on it, with different shaping and yarns, yet I don't have photos of any of them. It's bugging me now.

I should be weaving in ends, washing and blocking, and instead I am sketching and swatching.

Little tastes of the unexpected

Posted on by MK Carroll

Thank you for the commiseration and movie recommendations in the comments for the last post!  Kim, I really enjoyed Everything Is Illuminated, which I Netflixed after listening to the Fresh Air interview of Eugene Hutz, who plays Alex.  The film has gorgeous cinematography and the extra scenes on the DVD are well worth watching.  Karen, I saw Stranger Than Fiction in the theater, and now I want to see DVD special features!  Maybe I'll go over to Blockbuster.  Opal, at least other people can see the mistakes I made on Goddess.  Not that I'm saying that lace error was all in your head, ha ha.  May, my work schedule is changing next week, when I get it nailed down I'll get in touch so we can neglect sculpture and studying in favor of cake.

Earlier this week, my nephew wanted to view the lunar eclipse, so he went to bed early and I woke him up so that we could sit outside on beach chairs.  It was cloudy and the view got obscured frequently, but we saw the moon disappear and become a blurry rusty peach orb. 


I asked one of my co-workers for her shoyu chicken recipe and wound up getting a bunch of recipes from her, including one for creamed coconut tuna.  I was a little skeptical (coconut tuna?) but we had a lot of canned tuna in the pantry and a package of frozen coconut milk that had been hanging out in the freezer for months, so I made it.  I don't have any pictures, because we ate it all before I thought to take one.

Creamed Coconut Tuna
2 cans water-packed light tuna, drained
1 small onion, diced
1 bag frozen mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, etc.)
1 can coconut milk (Dian favors Mendonca's, I used Hawaiian Sun)
butter or oil
salt and pepper
Saute onion in oil until translucent.  Add tuna, vegetables, and coconut milk.  Simmer until vegetables are cooked.  Serve over rice or toast.

I browned the onions and tuna together - I think it cuts down on the fishy canned taste a bit.  I wasn't sure if the kids would like it, and thought about using cream of celery soup instead of the coconut milk, just to be safe, but then I figured that if they didn't like it, they could make themselves sandwiches.  Even my nephew, Mr. Picky-Pants, ate it and liked it.   If you like Vegemite, I recommend serving this over buttered toast and Vegemite. 

Classes are fully underway now.  We had a slow first week, but things are kicking into high gear.  I was surprised that the first series of lectures for one of the courses has been, essentially, me seeing a semester of high school biology flash before my eyes.  It is, after all, a 400-level Anthropology course, and one would think that everyone taking the course would have the basics by now.  I know I needed the review (high school biology was, let me see, 15 years ago, and college botany was nearly as long ago).  I still get meiosis and mitosis confused.   I'm a bit appalled that I'm not the only one, not by a long shot.  Clearly the instructors have been teaching this long enough to know that the best way for them to not waste their time is to hand the first two weeks of lectures over to a graduate student, thereby saving themselves some trouble and giving a grad student a solid experience in what it is like to be thrown to the wolves.  The introduction to Darwin was interrupted by a student who wanted to know if this was "going to be about Christians are stupid and scientists know everything because that would really offend me."  One does not need to believe the material.  However, one really ought to be willing to understand the material, because everything taught in this course is based on the widely accepted empirical science theory of evolution, so if that would be a challenge to ones faith, and if one is would feel compelled to say things like "I heard Darwin ixnayed the whole theory at the end of his life," why take the course?  For the record, I thought that the grad student was doing a good job of explaining the difference between the scientific theory of evolution and Creationism, and that the concerned student has clearly felt attacked before by others, and so was probably feeling a bit defensive.

I think that tonight I'm going to play it safe and make chili and tater tots, and then settle in with Goddess. 

sugar and spice

Posted on by MK Carroll


Almost-vegan apple-apricot-date-almond-flax-cinnamon rolls.  Half whole wheat pastry flour, half white flour.  I believe that vegan baked goods do not have to be dense whole grain health bombs - I've been tinkering with this recipe for years to strike a nice balance that is vegan, relatively healthy, and still fluffy, flavorful, and sweet.  I think there will be more tinkering.  The brown sugar glaze on this batch (which keeps it from being strict vegan) is a little too sweet to my taste, so I might try doing a fruit syrup glaze instead.  Half the batch was done without glaze and they aren't quite sweet enough for me - the only sweeteners are the fruits and the water that the dried fruit soaked in, along with a smidge of organic cane juice from the soymilk.  If you are not concerned with making these vegan, you can use butter instead of margarine and two small eggs instead of the flax/soymilk mix. 

I didn't really measure the ingredients for the filling and glaze.  I'm like that.  If you have any interest in trying this recipe, read it all the way through first, as I tend to throw in ingredients and instructions as I remember them.

Prep the fruit filling:
two big handfuls dried fruit (I used half unsulphured apricots* and half pitted dates - dates are pretty important for this recipe; they have a very high sugar content and help the yeast rise and give the rolls most of their sweetness).  Other dried fruits I've used include cherries, juice-sweetened cranberries, and tropical fruit mix.
soak in hot water to barely cover
when fruit is plump, drain (reserving water) and chop.

one handful chopped dates in oat flour
soak in hot water to cover
mash into a paste (or cook over low heat until you have something resembling applesauce)

I used one pink lady apple, chopped roughly, for half the batch.  This recipe also works well with pears and pineapple.

1 1/3 cup warm water (use the water reserved from plumping fruit, add more water as needed)
1 cup ww pastry flour
2 tablespoons baking yeast

blend together and let sit until bubbles appear on surface (time will vary depending on factors like temperature).

Meanwhile, combine 1/3 cup ground flax seeds, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 cup soymilk (I used vanilla flavored).  Let it sit.  It should become kind of goopy.

When the bubbles have appeared on the surface of the sponge, stir in the flax/soymilk mixture.

Stir in 1/4 cup oil (I used olive oil - yes, olive oil - the extra-virgin stuff is so mild you won't taste it)
Add in a cup at a time:
1 1/2 cups ww pastry flour
2 1/2 cups unbleached white flour

Knead, adding more flour as necessary (leave dough a little sticky).  Pat into a ball and let rise until double.

Roll out into a rectangle about 1/4" thick.  Spread about 1/4 cup soy margarine over the surface.  Follow with the date paste, then the chopped fruits.  Sprinkle with nuts if desired (I used toasted chopped almonds) and sprinkle on cinnamon (and any other spices you like - nutmeg, allspice and cardamom are all nice in this).  Roll, starting from the wide end, and pinch the seam closed tightly.  Slice into 2" thick rounds and place on greased cookie sheets with sides nearly touching.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Let rolls rise until nearly double (or, if you are like me, until you can't stand it any longer and want a hot cinnamon roll now now now).  Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and quickly spread with glaze (half a stick of soy margarine mixed with 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract will be enough for the entire batch) and return to oven for 5 minutes.  Transfer to a cooling rack (or prop up rolls on edges of cookie sheet so they won't get soggy as they cool).  At this point, I make a fool out of myself trying to eat a blazing hot roll without suffering severe burns to my hands and mouth.  All baked goods taste best still warm from the oven!

*unsulphured dried apricots are usually dark brown, hard, and leathery (there are softer ones, which might be found in a refrigerated section of a natural foods store).  When soaked, they will probably look kind of gross - brown with lumpy dark spots.  They have a stronger, more distinct flavor than the bright orange sulphur treated dried apricots, and once they are baked, nobody cares about the color.

Have You Seen This Scarf?

Posted on by MK Carroll

Queen Anne's Lace

While in Portland, I went walking down a dusty roadside lined with Queen Anne's Lace, and was reminded that I've been wanting to crochet a scarf and matching headband with the traditional crochet lace pattern of the same name. I did a couple of swatches, and now I'm getting an odd sense of deja vu. Like I've seen this scarf before. I'm thinking of making this pattern available as a free download (good way for me to practice making a crochet symbolcraft chart), but I don't want to inadvertently step on any toes in the process. Have you seen a scarf in a book or magazine lately that looks like this? Dana found it! The Ruffle Cravat from Leigh Radford's book One Skein has a crocheted scarf made up of half-circle motifs. Similar, definitely not the same. I've also been reminded that as long as the specific pattern is my own, I wouldn't be in violation of copyright, but I still like to make sure that a needlecrafter is not going to come along and say hey, that's a rip-off of That Pattern from That Designer!

Queen Anne's Lace