Monday, November 5, 2012

Blogging elsewhere!


Despite my list of ideas (chicken of the woods, knitting, felting, baking...) I have done nothing here on Cirsia Fortuita. Bummer.

However, one of the things I have gotten done, is work at the Yale Graduate Teaching Center! I lead workshops, offer teaching consultations, and talk about teaching with an amazing team of Fellows and the two directors. I wish I had applied to do this years ago! As part of this endeavor, I wrote a blog post on the GTC blog. You can check out my thoughts on how the teaching statement (a two page document that introduces the job search committee to me as a teacher - almost all History department job announcements specify that they want one to be submitted as part of the application packet) here.

And because why not, here is a Novembery set of photos from the hood and beyond: 

 Our local dry cleaner

 Pumpkin patch at Bishop's Orchard

The Day Missions Library at the Yale Divinity School. I am currently teaching at the Div School (and I LOVE it!) and so I study in this amazing room a lot more than during previous years.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Going Roman with MissKnitter and Fuzzband

New Haven has farmers' markets. The philosophy is local, organic, community, connecting, etc. I do like the idea, but the practical side leaves something to be desired... It is sort of a local farmers bring their products to sell to the urbanized trendy. As the Fuzzband and I discussed, there is a certain lack of congruence in the  sellers and the customers. Trying to make a livelihood and ostentatious consumption meet. There is also something about being yelled at twice in the first ten minutes at the market that tends to put me off... But whatever. We went last Saturday to check out the beets, but ended up buyin rhubarb and zucchini flowers. Zucchini flowers! Fiori di zucca! Yay! I loved these stuffed with ricotta and fish when I lived in Rome. Yummy! So we bought ten (for $2) to try to recreate my culinary memories from 2000-2001. Very exciting!

Yesterday evening the Fuzzband and I went over to my friend MissKnitter's place, so I brought the zucchini flowers and a filling I concocted from memory, and a couple of recipes from the internets. The Fuzzband flipped a coin, and so we did baked instead of fried fiori di zucca.

Preheat oven to 350-400 F (175-200 C)

2/3-1 cup ricotta
a few good spoonfulls of parmesan
1 egg yolk
1 hand sized fillet of fish baked and flaked
zucchini flowers

Mix all the ingredients for the filling. It can be refrigerated for a while prior to filling. Pry the flowers open, and fill with a few teaspoons of the filling. Fold the petals around the filling and place on a lightly greased or baking paper clad baking sheet in a vague hope that the filling will not explode the petals open, spraying your friend's oven... Bake for ca 10-15 minutes until the filling is hot and the flowers are even more golden than they were prior to insertion into oven.

I have not figured out how to rotate images from my smartphone in a way that maintains the selected rotation in the blog. Irritating. 
We also discovered that once they have been baked and cooled down, they could be reheated! Good to know for potential party contributions.

MissKnitter made a delicious linguine and clam sauce dish for the main course. The recipe was sort of following a recipe from the internets. It turned out ridiculously good! 
MissKnitter also had a salad based on self-construction. As I am allergic to a lot of salad stuff, she gave us greens, chopped green bell peppers, chopped jalapenos, blueberries, blackberries, olives, and a vinaigrette to freely mix and match. Oh, and for appetizers she had antipasti and olives. Dessert was raspberry sherbet the Fuzzband picked up when he ran to the store to pick up some portobellos. Delicious meal all around! And of course the relaxed company was a big part of it all. As visiting guest stars we had Honey Dog and the cat Whiskey. Scampi the cat was busy guarding MissKnitter's yarn stash in the office, but we paid our respects to her anyway. 

Oh, and we bought beets elsewhere: more on those another time...

Friday, July 20, 2012

Professionally Pink

Several years ago (fall 2007) a historian of medieval law visiting at the Yale Divinity School sat in on the seminar - are you ready for the name? - Medieval Law! It was being taught in the Yale Law School Lillian Goldman Library Rare Books and Manuscripts reading room and was one of those epic experiences professionally, recreationally, anecdotally, educationally, and socially. It was also the semester my Degenerative Disc Disease had a glorious relapse and I was on pain medications that sent me into hysterical giggles ca 30 mins after taking  a pill. Of course, in order to sit through a seminar I had to medicate myself right before class. I am deeply grateful to the Professor and my colleagues for their patience, support, and help. Minus points to the Law School for disabled access to the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library, though. I could not take the stairs for months, so I had to take an elevator up to the modern library, trundle my wheely bag across the way, and take another elevator down to the basement... To figure this out required discussions with two librarians, two security guards, a call to the Disability Access office, and several friendly law students who carried my bag and let me lean on them. 

I know you wanted that back story.

Anyway, the medieval law historian. Let us call her Ms. Law Mentor.

 Ms. Law Mentor took me under her wing, and has been extremely helpful and supportive in my career. Plus, she is bucketloads of plain, pure, fun and has fabulous common sense. And as my adored sister-in-law would say: Common sense - not that common. But Ms. Law Mentor has it. Part of this common sense is realizing when to let go of things. So she let go of 14 skeins of Cotton Classic yarn by Tahki Yarns, and gave them to me! We are talking beautiful mercerized cotton any knitter would kill for. Unless they hate knitting in cotton, but we are ignoring that possibility in this utterly common sensical blog posting. The color was black. Now, I almost never wore black at the time, and even now only if I can pair it with bright colors. Preferably bright oranges or pinks. At the time, I did not do pink. There is a follow-up to that statement.

So, what should a non-black wearing girl do with such a treasure? Well, the answer came browsing Ravelry, of course. Hilary Engebretson's design Emerald Seas was the perfect solution! It is a top, knitted with a series of eylet rows down one side through which one threads ribbons of potentially very bright, contrasting colors. See where I am going, eh? So I knit the top, with some modifications: I reduced the ribbing at the hips, and shaped the top quite dramatically by decreasing needle sizes twice. As I had about half of the yarn left over, I knit myself a skirt, too! And had just enough  to finish the piece! I actually had to use left over needlepoint floss to stitch the waist elastic in...

Then the question was: what color ribbons do I use? I settled on burnt orange, red and pink. But Jo-Ann's Crafts and Fabrics did not have the perfect colors! So I did two shades of pink and a red:
Niece, eh? Here's a full frontal view:

I particularly like the decapitated look. And the pink. It was my first foray into pink, and since then I have become increasingly excited about the color. Preferably in combination with orange (this is me, after all), but I now own several items that are unequivocally: pink! 

And notice the shoes? My Fuzzband convinced me to get those once upon a time, and they are amazing! The ensemble from the back: 
This photo really should have been taken with stockings that have seams in the back, I know.

I have since mainly worn the ensemble at conferences! With a read suede jacket I bought at the Amsterdam Airport back in the early 2000s, or with a burnt orange cardigan, or with a lavender top... It is surprisingly versatile, and incredibly comfortable. This past five weeks I had three conferences in Europe, and I wore it at all of them. In fact I presented two of my papers in it, at separate conferences, of course. I wore sensible black Clarks Wave.Run walking shoes in Huddersfield, and cute little Söft kitten heels in Leeds. As Söft does not have an image online of them, here they are via my smartphone:
All in all, the ensemble is fabulous for conferences. It is comfortable, travels well, is unique, and flattering. I felt great! Oh, and the papers went well, too. Is there anything like presenting your research in an outfit you have hand made from yarn given by an academic mentor, I ask? The answer must be "No". Thank you Ms. Law Mentor!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Guy Fawkes Cake

Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot...

I have just finished a conference paper, so to reward myself I am going to throw some more photos up here. This time baking! The poem above is famous from the movie V for Vendetta, starring Hugo Weaving and Natalie Portman from 2005. But contrary to what movie goers might think, this is of course a much older tradition. 

Guy Fawkes is celebrated on November 5th, traditionally by burning a Guy Fawkes effigy. Why was Guy so disliked? Well, he tried to blow up the British Parliament in the so called Gunpowder Conspiracy. This did not make him popular, and the day has become fixed in British memory as something between celebrating justice, reminding people what happens to match happy anarchists, and of course all about burning things! Yaah! And really, who couldn't get behind that?

A friend and colleague of mine threw a Giy Fawkes party in New Haven last November. Of course  we went! I even brought a little effigy of things in my life that needed to be burned. I also brought a theme-cake:
 Yes, it is a gunpowder barrel shaped cake. The cake itself is a chili-chocolate cake, and the icing is chili-chocolate buttercream. The iron bands, and rivets, are fondant. 
 The exposed "gunpowder" was black buttercream with chili sprinkled on top for gunpowder discoloration effects. 
I love, love, love the rivets! I also really like the recipe, which I would post, but it is at home in New Haven, and I am now elsewhere. My husband is not crazy about the chili-chocolate cake, which mystifies me. He is the chocoholic in our family, after all. For the party, however, while I brought themed dessert, he brought themed facial hair:  

Now, let's see if I can read this conference paper in 20 minutes...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Bridal Butterflies!

One of my very best friends - and really, Grad School is worth it even just for the friends - is getting married! In Australia...

Fair enough, she and her fiancé are Australian, and it makes sense to get married back home. I know it will be an amazing wedding, and I really wish I could go. But we cannot have everything we want in life. However, some of us did throw her a bridal shower today! And by some of us, I mean three did the organizing and most of the cooking, and I hosted. And made cupcakes! It was a lovely party, thanks to the amazing women present! Many could not come, but know that it was awesome and we missed you.

Now, as I have a 30 minute conference paper on saints and medieval marriage theology to write, I am posting about the said cupcakes as I wait for a decadent number of Kir Royals (and that Wikipedia page is an example of semi-useless to be proud of!) to clear my system...

First I made Hummingbird Cupcakes from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes cookbook: Coconut, banana, pineapple cupcakes. I left out the toasted walnuts as I am allergic. The Bride is not, but whatever, she loves me enough not to want me to die at her shower. 
Then I desiccated ca 3 mm thick pineapple rounds. It took hours longer than the recipe called for, but how productive could I be: desiccate pineapple, write paper, clean bathroom, do dishes, pilates...
To give the pineapples the right floral shape they are set for the final dry in muffin tins.
One of the ladies brought over her cupcake stand, and here I have added cream cheese frosting to the baked good.
 In case you were wondering where the pineapple flowers go.
I then added these fabulous edible sugarpaper butterflies from Sugar Robot off Etsy.
Shameless plug for Sugar Robot! Friendly, quick, lovely! Edible!
Same cupcake tree, two different lightnings and angles.
The Beautiful Bride! (with cupcake)

Monday, April 30, 2012

Asian Tapas

Food is a wonderful thing. Friends are a wonderful thing! Food and friends combined is one of my favorite pastimes. Last March, two lovely friends, let us call them H and S, came to New Haven for some cooking and hanging out. When briefly in DC, I browsed S's cookbooks, and one is a book on Asian Tapas. I am unable to find the book on Amazon, so memory will have to suffice. We picked a bunch of recipes to make together, and I brought the book with me to New Haven.

H and I spent Saturday morning at a local high school as Connecticut History Day Regional judges. Meanwhile, S arrived on a train from DC, and the Fuzzband picked him up for some grocery shopping and hanging out. We went to Swagat, our favorite Indian restaurant in the Have area, making sure we had leftovers! Once back home we set to work cooking amazing Asian tapas from our list!

Coriander ginger shrimp with sweet Thai chili sauce.
Tender punjabi chicken kebabs with mint sauce.

Crisp asparagus rolls with cheese and xo sauce.

Tropical shrimp salad (at left) and scallop ceviche with xo sauce.

Coconut pannacotta with lavender jelly, mangosteen, meringue, and melted chocolate.
In case you did not see the amazing layering of the pannacotta and the jelly in the previous shot... Xo sauce and meringue in the background...

So yummy, and so nice to hang out with friends we don't see too much of: S lives in DC, and H in Wooster, Mass. Next time we see them for S's graduation! His folks are coming from Australia, and we are hosting a 5 o'clock tea with baked goods!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Archeology and knitting meet at Dura Europos

In graduate school one is bound to bump into other craftspeople in general, and knitters in particular. One especially distinguished contact is our former Western European Subject Librarian (a medievalist, no less!), who not only has helped me with research and navigating Yale, but is a wonderful person to get together with and talk about knitting and books and all kinds of things.

Obviously my librarian friend came to mind when reading Nancy Bush's Folk Socks. The History & Techniques of Handknitted Socks. (Loveland, Colorado: Interweave Press, 1994) I came across the following texts: "The oldest surviving examples of what has been identified as knitted textile fraghments date from A.D. 256. They were discovered at the site of the ancient Syrian fortress city of Dura Europos ... Three wool fragments found there, now in the collection of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, are made of what appear to be knitted stitches." (p.11) There is an image on p. 12, but here is a better one:
Source: Yale University Art Gallery e-catalogue (accessed March 21st, 2012).

I brought up the possibility of going to see these fragments with her, and another knitting Yale library friend of mine, Missknitter, and brainstormed a bit where these fragments may be kept. I was thinking the Peabody Museum of Natural History, but my librarian friend floated the idea of the Yale University Art Gallery. We agreed that I would scan the relevant pages for her and we would get on to locating the pieces. But lo and behold! Before I could even get to my computer, she had sent out queries, and located the fragments: indeed The Yale University Art Gallery! The super helpful associate curator informed us that "The knitting fragment will be on view in our new Dura-Europos gallery, which we are just about to install. The official opening date for our renovated galleries is Dec. 12, 2012, but the Dura gallery and ancient Mediterranean may well be open sooner, by late summer or early fall." (e-mail correspondence on March 21st, 2012).

Field trip! I am so excited, and amazed at the efficiency of the librarians and curators involved. Amazing people!

The excavations of Dura Europos were conducted by a French-American team of archaeologists (Yale University and the French Academy of Inscriptions and Letters) in the 1920s and 1930s. For an informative tour of the excavations, see the Yale University Art Gallery website on the project.

Maybe I should try to reproduce the stitches in the fragment? It looks like textured knitting with button loops in crochet, no? However, Julie Theaker at Knitty has written an article arguing that the Dura Europos "knitting" is in fact nålebinding! See her delightful 2006 article among Knitty's featured articles here, complete with visual evidence of a pair of socks that very much look like they are knit, but are, in fact nålebinding. I cannot wait to see the pieces in person, and maybe look up some more information on the textile while I am at it...

So, look for updates on Circia Fortuita meets Archaeology!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Svale BSJ and the Ducky Sweater

Back in 2010 I decided to venture on the famous Elizabeth Zimmermann Baby Surprise Jacket (aka BSJ on Ravelry). I made one for Johanna, the daughter of Grad school friends, and for Elmer, the son of dear friends back in Finland. I used some lovely yarn left over from other projects. For Johanna's I used Dalegarn Svale left over from some dresses I had made:

The cotton/rayon/silk blend is lovely to knit with, and I had so much fun! The buttons were from my LYS (Local Yarn Store), when Yarn LLC still had a branch on Whitney Avenue, within walking distance of both home and campus. I did not know if Johanna was going to be a girl or a boy when I made this, but decided that if I loved the colors for the Hillmans, then chances were they would appreciate them, girl or boy. Besides, Mum and Dad Hillman are not very gender hysterical at all, and especially not with colors I imagine... I finished Johanna's Svale BSJ in May, according to my Ravelry archive, and apparently knit it in seven days! It was fun and fast, I remember that!

In fact, only a few months later I knit Elmer's BSJ from more leftover yarn, this time a gift from Laura of Lankadontti fame: Novita Nalle. Hence the Ducky Sweater came to be:

I of course love, love, love the colors here (wild!), and the hood with the I-cord. For the buttons I had duckies in mind - rubber duckies being the cultural emblem of us Swedish-Speaking-Finns, and the family this went to are part of the Duck Pond, just like me. OMG: there is a Wikipedia article on the pondishness!!!

Anyways. My friend Missknitter and I went to Stitches East just about the time I was ready to think about buttons, and found these AMAZING ducky buttons:

I wish I had grabbed a card from the merchant - or put it in a logical place to find later - so I could a) give credit here, b) get more! These are so much more articulated than the duckies from JoAnn, my usual button haunt. I love buttons here in the US! Not something you see listed as one of the benefits to immigrating to the US, that: "Upon moving to the US, a marvelous plethora of over-the-top and often sickly cute and utterly desirable buttons will become available to you at ubiquitous stores like JoAnn crafts and Michael's..." Too bad, really. The crafting culture, wildly different from Back Home (I sense a future post in this...), in North America is really fascinating. A big part of it is the commercialization of crafting, which has produced such magical things as the ducky button.

I mailed Mummy and Daddy Johanna and Mamma and Pappa Elmer the sweaters, and of course they very much appreciated them. Johanna's Mum showed it to a knitting friend, who commented on the interesting design. Yay! It made me, and still makes me even though the kids have outgrown the sweaters ages ago, so happy to think of them wearing them.

That is always one of the highlights of knitting stuff for Finns - they all automatically appreciate handmade items. It is just such an ingrained part of our culture. Not to say peeps here in the Americas don't. Many do, and I dare to claim ALL my friends and relatives very much appreciate handmade gifts and items in general - Johanna's parents are great examples! But there is an amazing amount of individuals who actually prefer store bought to hand made in the Americas. I know, shocking. I should have given warning before making such a terrible disclosure. I don't think I actually associate with such people, but I have met them. I should have taken photographs and done interviews...

OK. Enough cultural analysis!

What did I like about the BSJ and making it, I hear you ask?

I should have taken WIP (Work in Progress) photos to illustrate this: I love how the sweater is knit in one piece and then origamied into a sweater!  The only seams are across the shoulders. I, of course, love colors, and I love the way the striping emphasizes the structural design of the sweater. You can see in Johanna's Svale BSJ how the stripes go straight across the back, and then come and "turn a corner" on the sleeves and the front.
I also love the ease with which one can use up leftover yarn for it in fun and creative ways. Many BSJs are knit in self-striping or self-patterning yarn, according to a quick Ravelry browse of the 16908 projects, in 3891 queues, and while the results are marvelous, I really like the opportunity to use stash yarn and be all creative with it. In fact, I might have to start a new BSJ pretty soon, just so I can revel in the origaminess and destashiness of it all!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Lankadontti's tweed yarn

"I may be a highly trained historian, but I am an amazing craftswoman!" And humble, of course. Regardless, I feel this is one of the best ways I express who I am. History and handicrafts entwined and even symbiotic. Of course historical crafts are a big part of this. I am pretty dedicated to the knowledge of declining craft skills, and textile crafts in my own case. While I am in principle all about a) doing crafts, b) learning crafts, c) teaching craft, d) preserving this valuable knowledge, and doing this in my own life, there are some aspects I am very much less interested in:

Dyeing. Spinning.

I feel guilty for just not being super interested in these vital aspects of textile-crafts. I would love to be able to summon the interest and energy to do natural dyes from wode, onion skins, or even synthetic dyeing, like using KoolAid. And while spinning is actually quite fun, I am so not up to plying... 

I know. Pathetic. 

I try to console myself with the knowledge that I do know how to do these, where to find information and even help, and I have done it. In a post-apocalyptic society, I will be able to process fibers from sheep to sweater. Less confidently flax to frock, but given some time, I can do it. And seeds. And sheep. How I would obtain these in post-apocalyptic America is of course a mystery...

The lovely Laura from Lankadontti and Sanavyyhti, has once again stepped in and inspired me! And challenged me to re-examine my lack of enthusiasm for spinning: She has this month published, as the part of her series "instructions of the month" (on Sanavyyhti), a wonderful guide to do-it-yourself tweed yarn (in Finnish)! Not only are the results fabulously beautiful, but she uses leftover yarn in a very interesting and creative way. She cards in snibbles of leftover yarn into washed and cleaned wool, and spins it by hand into amazing and varied yarn - tweed! What really caught my attention here is the variability and beauty of random leftovers, and the encouragement to see even the smallest snibbles as an opportunity for creativity and fiber filled joy and beauty.

Waste is always unwelcome, and creative uses for leftover yarns are a fora for imagination and playfulness, just like Sanna Vatanen's great patterns and ideas in Neulo. Virkaa. Kirjo. Jämälangasta! (Helsinki; WSOY) show us. I will add Laura's pattern to my pool of inspiration for what to do with my leftovers. In fact, I kind of want to go home and dig out the little snippets I threw away when finishing off my middle Nephew's socks the other day, or a pair of Owl Mitts! I thought: "These pieces are surely too small to use for anything, even in Sanna's book..." (Sanna is a friend of my sister's, and a godmother to one of my Nephews, so I take the liberty of calling her by her first name - name dropping!). Little did I know.... Never again (well, never say never, but you know what I mean) will little snippets be thrown away - no! I will start a special snibbly-wibbly ziplock bag when I get home, just for the eventuality that there may be some tweeding of yarn in my life.

Will I actually sit down and make my own delicious tweed yarn? Will I spin it? Ply it? Who knows. Maybe. As I sit here in the Blue Dog Café the Yale Hall of Graduate Studies, taking a break from revising my third Dissertation chapter, it seems simultaneously imminent and exciting, far off and impossible. But my sister has the tools to prep wool, and I may be spending some time in Finland some day not in the too improbable future. Perhaps if I get Enough Done (tm) on my Diss, Laura will come to our summer cottage with me and we will drink tea, chat, and make tweed yarn...

 This image belongs to Laura Hämäri at Sanavyyhti.

Addenda a couple of hours later:

Of course I have now, two pages of Diss having been miraculously produced, spent my break googling hand carders, like these offered by Webs. America's Yarn Store... If I had the money (insert tune from Fiddler on the Roof for If I was a Rich Man...)...

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Vårt land, vårt land, vårt fosterland,
ljud högt, o dyra ord!
Ej lyfts en höjd mot himlens rand,
ej sänks en dal, ej sköljs en strand,
mer älskad än vår bygd i nord,
än våra fäders jord!
Din blomning, sluten än i knopp,
Skall mogna ur sitt tvång;
Se, ur vår kärlek skall gå opp
Ditt ljus, din glans, din fröjd, ditt hopp.
Och högre klinga skall en gång
Vår fosterländska sång.

"Fänrik Ståhls Sägner" - "The Tales of Ensign Ståhl"
Johan Ludvig Runeberg

Johan Ludvig Runeberg died 100 years before my birth - who knew? Well, I probably learned it in elementary school... The stanzas above form the opening to the national romantic poem Fänrik Ståhls Sägner. In the 1840s the verses were put to music by Fredrik Pacius. This song is the national anthem of Finland. Traditionally the first verse is sung in Finnish, the second in the original language, Swedish. Swedish is the second official language of Finland. Runeberg was actually born in Sweden, but as the part of the country where he lived became the Grand Duchy of Finland after the Russo-Swedish war that ended with the peace of Fredrikshamn in 1809, he is considered Finnish. Oh, and the Grand Duke of Finland was the Czar of Russia - what we call a "personal union" in historian circles.

So, why am I rambling on and on and on about J.L. Runeberg? Well, partly out of patriotic whatschumacallit, but mainly because February 5th was the national day of our national poet, who is.... Runeberg!!! And of course the best thing about any national holiday is that it comes with a pastry! The Runebergstårta (Runeberg tart) is my favorite pastry in the whole world:
The Wikipedia article for the tart is not total crap, but it does not of course convey the deep emotive and sensorial love I have for this pastry. Now, the original ones are tall and comparatively narrow. We would hollow out the core and fill them with raspberry jam. Some day I will have proper Runeberg tart molds, but for now I am making due with muffin tins:

I still hollow out the center and fill it with raspberry jam, but now I no longer break off the bottom part and eat it from a bowl with milk. Now I eat it like an adult - with tea! And I moisten them with Amaretto, when I can. Amazing! 

I thought I would include the recipe, especially as it has some Family History. Which I may get wrong....

So, when Mother moved to Finland, my great aunt, aunt-Marita, took this poor foreign woman under her maternal wing. Moster Mita (as we said in Swedish) was this amazing woman who kept bees, had a great sense of humor, loved people, and was just all around as delightful an old lady as you could hope to be related to, or named after! She passed away when I was pretty young, but I have fond memories of her, and really wish I had had the opportunity to get to know her better. The summer cottage (tm, Finnish cultural institution beyond compare) that my family calls home was originally built by Moster Mita and her husband, Ivar. It is the center of the universe - did you not know? Anyway, Moster Mita gave Mother this recipe for Runeberg Tarts, and it is the best recipe, as far as I am concerned. This is corroborated by the evidence that several of my friends have asked me, myself, and I, for the recipe, selecting it above other available recipes. It is probably from some 1950s magazine or something, but whatever. 

I have doubled the recipe, because the original amount just makes me unhappy and leaves me unsatisfied. Yes, I LOVE this pastry!


2 eggs
2 dl sugar
2 dl whipping cream
1 dl almond meal (I grind my own here in the US)
250 gr butter, melted
4 dl bread crumbs 
3 dl graham flour
1 tsp baking powder

On top:
raspberry jam (I prefer seedless)
powederd sugar
punch, arrak, rum or amaretto

butter for greasing the molds

1. Beat the eggs and sugar frothy.
2. Mix the dry ingredients.
3. Melt the butter.
4. Mix the eggs and dry ingredients, then add the butter.
5. Whip the cream stiff, then fold into rest of dough.
6. Gloop into greased molds. The dough does not really change shape, rise or collapse. It makes ca 16 muffin bottoms. Do not pile high - you want a neat surface for the jam and icing!

7. Bake at 200 C (392 F) for 18-25 minutes.

8. Let cool. When they have cooled spoon out a dent of desired diameters with a teaspoon or apple corer. 
9. Moisten with alcohol of desire, to sogginess desired. I use Amaretto as it adds the almondiness. I sometimes dilute it with maybe a sixth of water, but sometimes not. Allow to soak in. Reapply if desired.
10. Fill the crater with raspberry jam.
11. Mix powdered sugar and water until a stiff icing is formed. You want it to be soft enough to melt into a uniform glaze, but still enough to keep its shape and not drip down the sides. 
12. Lie to people about how many you have so you don't have to share.

Smaklig kaffepaus!

Teacup brought to me as a 30th birthday present by "The Gels", and the plate is part of a tea set given as a wedding gift by soon-to-be-Dr. Nielsen.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Stash Busting - This is Why...

In my last post I mentioned that I am not currently buying yarn until I have used up a significant amount of the yarn in my stash.  

Stash is what American knitters (or maybe English speaking knitters...)  use to denote the yarn they have collected/hoarded over the years. Stash busting is the effort to use/give away some of the yarn to make the stash smaller. For some of us (and you know who you are!) the stash is a problem of epic proportions - "Honey, I moved the plates from the kitchen cupbord to make space for my insert name of yarn here". For others it is a source of pride and personal joy.

Where do I fall in? Well... Somewhere in between. If I had space, It would not be a problem, but my Fuzzband and I live in a one bedroom apartment with very little storage space, and he has pretty bulky projects too (building speakers, hockey, fly tying...) When I used to work at Yarn on Whitney occasionally (summer of 2009) the owner was kind enough to extend the staff discount to me, and eventually when the store merged with the mother-store in Westville, I also got the amazing staff discount. So, I bought a TON of yarn, thinking I could now work with this stash and not buy yarn for a while. More or less true. In fact, now that I think of it - more true! 

The rule is: I only buy yarn if I need it to finish a project, the bulk of which is knit with stash yarn; or if somebody buys me the yarn to make something for them. For example, I plan to make another set of wedding gifts, and I will do the work and Fuzzband will buy the yarn. This kind of yarn does not get bought and lie around the flat. Hopefully. Or so I tell myself. So far, so good.

This is a nice and tame photo of the bulk of my stash. I took it out over the Holidays to make an inventory and enter some in to my stash on Ravelry. It looks pretty controlled and neat, no? When not in use it lives in three large bright orange buckets from Home Depot, ziplock bags in an amazingly fabulous and tacky Catholic Kitsch (tm) bag in the back of my closet. Odds and ends live in a zipper equipped bag one of our duvets came in.The hope is that these precautions will keep moths away....

However, the second photo here is a more accurate photograph - in context of the apartment. In this photo you can see the yarn, the tub, and 1/6 of our home.

My current challenge is to find items to knit with the amazing amount of lace weight fuzzy yarn I have. I have some ideas, and that is always good. And of course one idea is sometimes superseded by another, and another, and another ad infinitum...

I spent some time yesterday going through one of my Home Depot tubs and photographing the yarn so I have a visual attached to my stash list on Ravelry - planning purposes, you know. I got most of it up there! Over the next month I hope to have the other two tubs done as well. In the end I should have my stash on Ravelry, neatly organized, and easy to refer to when I take the time to think about stash busting. I have several yarns up there I have no photographs for, but this process should take care of that as well.

Are you a Raveller? Want to spy on me? You can find me under "maweisse" on Ravelry, but I think you have to be logged in for that link to work...

Friday, February 3, 2012

Alien for Paul


That was my reaction when my friend from UConn contacted me with a request to make this Amigurumi "Fat" Baby for his and his lovely wife's incubating offspring. She of course was gestating a baby, but what about him? An Alien? So he felt an alien needed to be produced from somewhere...

At the Yale/UConn working group monthly meetings we have bonded over the importance of doing stuff with our hands while listening to Scholarship. He doodles; I craft. He has seen me do mittens, socks, and who knows what! I was racking my brain what to make for the baby - whom I project-named  Gzezenoc (my all-time favorite name to suggest to ALL people with planned or unborn babies, pets, plants, cars...). Gzezenoc was a brother to an early medieval Breton saint whose name I have forgotten - obviously not as ultimately cool a name as Gzezenoc! Fabulous saints aside, I was delighted for this thought process over what to make for Little Gzezenoc to be interrrupted, down right taken away from me by the Proud Father serving this fabulously fun pattern on a proverbial silver platter. And a crochet pattern no less! I have not crocheted in For Ever (tm), so I was excited to try it. I crocheted this in two short evenings, and enjoyed every second.

I am theoretically not buying more yarn until I have used up a LOT if not most of my ridiculous stash, but the Proud Father offered to pay for the yarn (Patons), and indeed did: he bought me a vodka and cranberry in Storrs the other day. Excellent deal for me!

 One of my favorite things about the pattern were the fingers and toes - here the fingers shown thumb down. Of course, the alternation between various kinds of crochets - teeny, tall - is perfect for this.

Toes!!!! I kind of want to make a caterpillar just because I LOVE these toes!
Here the little Alien is with Little Paul, watching his sleep. No matter how cute the Alien is - Paul is cuter!

Photograph courtesy of the Proud Father.

On a sort of random note: I crocheted an Alien for a young man named Paul. One of my favorite Alien movies ever (the intertextuality of geekdom rules it from first minute to last!) is called Paul. I find this absolutely fabulous! 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Japanese Wedding Socks

In the summer of 2010 two of our fabulous friends got married. It was an amazing wedding - on a ranch in Colorado! All (well, most) the guests stayed, cooked, hiked, rode horses, hung out at the ranch for a weekend. These are two dear friends, so unsurprisingly their families and friends are also wonderful, and we really enjoyed to get to know some of them, and other better than before. We also, of course, pitched in to help cook the delicious wedding feast - designed by the groom and bride.This included four vegetarians following with fascination as my Fuzzband cut up the lamb for the lamb and flower stew while I sat around the fire singing American folk songs...

As a wedding gift we gave them hand knit socks in IOU form.

The bride and groom headed to Yokohama/Tokyo Japan for a year in the fall for her research on select modern Japanese female poets, and so we decided to go visit them for American Thanksgiving later that same year! It was an amazing trip filled with food, friends, and exploring. Combining wedding gift with Japan, I decided to use Japanese knit patterns and give the happy couple the option of tabi or ordinary socks. The plan was to have enough knit when we got to Tokyo so I could at least complete one sock per spouse for sizing purposes. I, of course, finished the socks on the flight home... But that way we could send them a little package of toe-warming love from The Have.

Here you can see Hers and His socks in action - photo kindly provided by the happy couple who shall remain anonymous.

I wanted bamboo yarn - the whole Japan theme, and who would not want an excuse to knit with bamboo yarn? I searched high and lo, even recruiting the patient Miss Knitter to look for it. Finally, at Stitches East 2010,  we found it! The divine Bamboo Baby hand dyed yarn by Miss Babs: 60% Wool, 30% Bamboo, and 10% Nylon which makes it sockable, so to say. The yarn was one of my all-time favorite yarns to knit with. 

  Her Socks:

The pattern is Véronik Avery's "Tabi Socks" from Knitting Classic Style: 35 Modern Designs Inspired by Fashion's Archives (New York, NY; Stewart, Tabori and Chang (ABRAMS), 2007), 81-85.

The leafy pattern, according to the pattern notes "echo the lacy knitting patterns favored in contemporary Japan" (p. 82). While the socks are specifically tabis in the pattern, the bride asked for non-tabis, which is what she got. A great fun knit, and it of course made me even happier to make them for a unique and dear friend who - and I hope you are sitting down - had never had hand-knit socks before

  I really like the lace line that separates the lace panel of the instep from the sole of the foot and traces up the sock to the cuff lace

His socks:

This pattern is  Ann Budd's "Undulating Rib Socks" from Favorite Socks. 25 Timeless Designs from Interweave (Loveland, CO; Interweave Press, 2007), 92-95. This pattern is also Japanese in influence: 

"Inspired by a stitch pattern found in a Japanese knitting book, these socks feature an easily memorized pattern that alternates increases and decreases to create columns that widen and narrow."

The groom wanted his as tabis, so I used the instructions from Avery, and I am pretty pleased with the result.

Both have reportedly been happy with their socks, here shown snuggling in Yokohama. This is also a photo courtesy of the happy couple.