March Spawned a Monster

March 27, 2010

… a crochet monster.  This month has completely gotten away from me, and my excuse is birthday madness combined with crochet crazies.

Modern Vintage Potholders, pattern by the redoubtable Maryse

First, there was the Potholder Swap.  I finished those and mailed them off.  I sort of thought after making ten identical double crochet circles with Tahki Cotton Classic and a D hook, I’d be over it.

Um, NO.

When I grow up, I will be a giant granny square.

Today, I felt what could only be called true compulsion to start a giant granny square blanket.  It will be composed of all my 100% wool scraps, partial balls, and orphan skeins, rounded out with some Patons Classic Wool I bought for no reason other than it was on sale at the Big Box Craft Store.

So far, I’ve done 15 rounds and it’s about 16 inches square.  And I am kind of in love with it.



March 9, 2010

For a person whose idea of a good dinner is often cheese and crackers, I own an enormous number of cook books.  But my favorites are the ones that I am probably least likely to use.

I collect vintage cook books from the 1950s and 1960s.  These are just a few of them. I recognize that this is hardly a unique or terribly interesting thing to collect, but I really love them. And this is my blog, so indulge me, please.

The Better Homes and Gardens and Good Housekeeping cook books have found their way into the collection as well, but the Betty Crocker ones are best.  If they are spiralbound with garish photos, that’s fabulous.  The small  format is preferred.  Extra-special love is reserved for the “cooking for two” type, as they often contain helpful advice for the new bride as well.  Fun reading when you need an ironic chuckle.

The first one I actively sought out is the one on the left, Betty Crocker’s Cook Book for Boys and Girls.  This title has been updated many times, but mine is a first edition, first printing of the 1957 version.  Not long ago, the 1957 version was reprinted and I bought it as a gift for my young nieces and nephew. Growing up, we had my mother’s copy at home, and I adored poring through it.  This page held a special fascination for me.

Mmmm... cake.

For one thing, I always wanted that zoo cake.  Don’t the animals look like they were painted with semi-gloss interior paint?  I was sure that if I were truly a  good daughter, I would present  Mom with a heart-shaped cake with “Mother” spelled out in Red Hots on her birthday (which falls conveniently close to Mother’s Day).   Also, how did they get the icing on the Easter cake so shiny, I wondered?  A thin layer of Bonne Bell Lip Gloss, perhaps?  In all seriousness, one thing I love about this cook book is that the recipe for the Mother cake does not mention a heart-shaped pan.   Today’s home baker would likely procure a special pan from Martha Stewart or Target.  Back in the day, people made heart-shaped cakes with one square and one round layer pan.  Think about it.

Dad said it was keen.

I also loved reading all the quotes from the “Home Testers: The 12 boys and girls who tested all these recipes.”  In keeping with the cake theme, I love the one pictured above.  I want “keen” to come back.  (Some of the quotes are from Betty Crocker herself, such as “You’ll love this gingerbread with  a dish of icy-cold applesauce.”  I don’t care if Betty Crocker is imaginary, she’s right!  I would like that, thank you very much.)  Again, not in jest, I think it’s interesting that somebody in 1957 — if only a forward-thinking advertising executive dressed like a character from Mad Men — thought it obvious that a boy should be able to, or would want to, bake his father’s birthday cake.   Now if the cook book only mentioned boys in the “Campfire Cooking” chapter, that’s about what one would expect for the era.  But no.  This book is full of budding male pastry chefs.  Awesome.

I have bunches of these.  I recently acquired a 1963 Better Homes and Gardens cook book entitled Meals with a Foreign Flair.  It includes recipes for parties such as “Salute to the Swiss” and “Honorable Chinese Dinner.”  Irresistible.

Malabrigo March!

March 4, 2010

Mmm... merino.

Well, it’s that time of year for the Junkies… the festival of yarny yumminess which is Malabrigo March!  This is my first year participating and I am planning to do it up right.  In fine Mal March tradition, I will indulge my startitis, and cast on way too many projects.  I have already begun a Saroyan, pictured in the bottom right above, a Thorpe hat for the BF, and a Crosshatch Cowl (all Ravelry links).  I’ve amassed quite a bit of Malabrigo, so this provides a great opportunity to actually work with it and enjoy it.  Just some of my raw materials are shown above.  Apparently, my taste in colors occupies the entire spectrum from aqua (greeny-blue) to teal (blue-ish green).  I am very open-minded in that respect.  Seriously, I do own yarn that is not blue, nor green, nor blue-green.

Malabrigo March also gives me a break from crocheting potholders, which I am still doing.  It’s fun, but challenging in a number of ways.  First, 100% cotton is not my favorite fiber to work with … a little hard on the hands.  Also, because I don’t do it often, it’s difficult for me to achieve any sort of flow while crocheting.  I am the hooking equivalent of the person who moves her lips whilst reading to herself.  A return to knitting with soft and lovely merino is like a trip to the spa.

In a RUFKMRN?! update, the asshat from Kentucky has relented and allowed the Senate to pass a 30-day extension of federal unemployment benefits.  If only he had been so vigilant in defense of fiscal restraint when the former President paid for tax cuts for his friends and a war on two fronts with a credit card.