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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Animal Farm by George Orwell

I decided to read another classic while I’m searching for some more audiobook mysteries. I’ve got several suggestions, but it’s a matter of availability between the public library and the college library. And being available as an unabridged selection as well.


I spotted Animal Farm on the shelves and decided it was a good time to read this highly regarded work. No, it was not mandatory reading in any of my high school or college courses. The few literature classes I took in college were…odd…and we didn’t in any way read what I would consider ‘classic literature’.

Premise of the book from Amazon.com: Since its publication in 1946, George Orwell's fable of a workers' revolution gone wrong has rivaled Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea as the Shortest Serious Novel It's OK to Write a Book Report About. (The latter is three pages longer and less fun to read.) Fueled by Orwell's intense disillusionment with Soviet Communism, Animal Farm is a nearly perfect piece of writing, both an engaging story and an allegory that actually works. When the downtrodden beasts of Manor Farm oust their drunken human master and take over management of the land, all are awash in collectivist zeal. Everyone willingly works overtime, productivity soars, and for one brief, glorious season, every belly is full. The animals' Seven Commandment credo is painted in big white letters on the barn. All animals are equal. No animal shall drink alcohol, wear clothes, sleep in a bed, or kill a fellow four-footed creature. Those that go upon four legs or wings are friends and the two-legged are, by definition, the enemy. Too soon, however, the pigs, who have styled themselves leaders by virtue of their intelligence, succumb to the temptations of privilege and power. "We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organisation of the farm depend on us. Day and night, we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples." While this swinish brotherhood sells out the revolution, cynically editing the Seven Commandments to excuse their violence and greed, the common animals are once again left hungry and exhausted, no better off than in the days when humans ran the farm. Satire Animal Farm may be, but it's a stony reader who remains unmoved when the stalwart workhorse, Boxer, having given his all to his comrades, is sold to the glue factory to buy booze for the pigs. Orwell's view of Communism is bleak indeed, but given the history of the Russian people since 1917, his pessimism has an air of prophecy. --Joyce Thompson –


I used to love Russian History. It was fascinating. Dark. We had the movies Dr. Zhivago (not very good in my opinion), Rasputin (better). Lenin was taller than life. Stalin was/is everthing that was wrong. The masses yearning to have a better life. And somewhere along the way, I lost interest. Perhaps it was because Russia really never seemed to change.

The opinion expressed in the blurb mentions the reviewer felt Animal Farm was a better book than Old Man and the Sea. In this case, I have to disagree. I felt Old Man and the Sea was a much better book. I say this because I felt Animal Farm was just too heavy handed with the analogys. I found it to be a slow, predictable, read. The animals (peasants) were just too stupid to do anything without the pigs (ruling class) and thus were easily lead down the path to, in essence, slavery. Beat me over the head with it, why don’cha?

I know this is a beloved book to many, but I bounced off of it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Recipe Review from 3/14/11

Happy Spring!

Did anyone get out to see the Perigee Moon on Saturday night?  Alas, I did not, it was overcast and darned if it didn't snow again!

Still not much going on as we transition from winter to mud season.  Had some beautiful days with temps getting into the mid 40*s.  My friends have gotten out cycling twice this week, with S managing 40 miles both times.  Alas, I'm not retired and must wait for another day.  

Recipes were uneventful as well.  One soup that was more liquid than substance for lunches and some repeat recipes for dinner.  Made a favorite of Salmon Packets (salmon or lake trout in puff pastry) that we dearly love.  And the ever ubiquitous leftovers to carry us through. 

Cuban Black Bean and Potato Soup (Vegetarian Times, Mar 2011)
This had good potential, but turned out to be a watery disappointment.  It was hard to say if the flavors were good because they were so watered down.  I think there is a misprint in the recipe regarding the amount of liquid: recipe calls for 6 to 7 cups of water.  I used 5 and it was way to much. 

The distinct flavor of this soup comes from a sofrito, a pureed mix of onions, garlic and bell peppers.

1 medium onion, diced (1 1/2 cups)
1 small red bell pepper, diced (1 cup)
1 small green pepper, diced (1 cup)
6 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
6 cups cooked black beans, divided  (I used 4 cans)
3 medium potatoes, diced (2 1/2 cups)
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp fresh oregano leaves
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp salt
diced red onion and green bell pepper for garnish

1. Saute onion, bell peppers and garlic in saucepan with a little water or vegetable broth over medium heat 2-3 minutes, or until vegetables soften.  Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth.  Add three cups beans and 6-7 cups water [4 cups] water; puree.

2. Return mixture to saucepan, and add remaining beans, potatoes, vinegar, cumin, oregano, bay leaf and salt.  Bring to a boil and simmer, covered 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft.  Remove bay leaf.  Garnish if desired before serving.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I am Legend by Richard Mattheson

Read as Audiobook
Perhaps I should have read the book blurb before I grabbed the audio book off the library shelf. Or perhaps I should come out from under my rock once in a while and pay attention to what movies are actually out and what they are about. I also don’t typically read horror so I had no idea this was considered a ‘horror’ book. So thus, I confess, I had no idea that I Am Legend was a ‘critically acclaimed' vampire book.



From Goodreads.com: One of the most influential vampire novels of the 20th century, I Am Legend regularly appears on the "10 Best" lists of numerous critical studies of the horror genre. As Richard Matheson's third novel, it was first marketed as science fiction (for although written in 1954, the story takes place in a future 1976). A terrible plague has decimated the world, and those who were unfortunate enough to survive have been transformed into blood-thirsty creatures of the night. Except, that is, for Robert Neville...






For having been written in the 1950’s in a 1975 era, this book has aged remarkably well. We are introduced to Robert Neville after the plague has seemingly killed or converted to vampires the rest of the populous. Robert is struggling to come to terms with the new world in which he is forced to live. The reader is swept along through his rages of anger, despair, sorrow,  almost too much so at times. More than once I was like “Yes, yes, yes, I know Neville is a deep boiling mass of frustrated rage, let’s get on with the story already!” Though that may have been a factor of the audio book.


Items I particularly enjoyed – the hypothesis on what causes a vampire, and how the vampire plague spread so very quickly. Perhaps Mattheson took a page from history and drew inspiration from the influenza outbreak of 1918. The explanation on what kills a vampire, why garlic is an effective repellant, and why a vampire cannot abide by the light of day. I thought Mattheson’s reasoning was pretty creative. I also appreciated the occasional reference to a “romanticized Dracula”.


This isn’t to say that the book isn’t without its flaws, and I did find them numerous, but if one can overlook those and read this as a potentially classic piece of literature (in the horror genre if one must), I recommend this selection.


Ed. To add, I also have not seen the movie, and it is my understanding that the artistic liberties were quite numerous in the movie.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Recipe Review from 2/7/2011

It's March.  Which means things are fairly uneventful as we transition from Winter to Spring.  The Husband fit in an organized Superior Hiking Trail "snowshoe" hike sans snowshoes since the trail was nicely packed.  Hounds enjoyed themselves too.  Skiing is done for the year and I am looking forward to the roads clearing off to pull out the bike and start getting some miles in!

In the meantime, we content ourselves with College Hoops and some good meals.

Quick Paella (Ckng Lght, Sept 2010)
This was indeed quick, even if I managed to screw up the directions just a bit. But that's kinda the beauty of a dish like this - it's very forgiving and very versatile as I can attest to.  I was in a bit of rush to start dinner, and in substituting the rice, I just cooked it up as normal.  Oops.  I could have just cooked it in the pan.  I omitted the extra water and kept going.  This was also a bit of a use up freezer stuff - I had kielbasa and shrimp.  Perfect.  I would make this again, perhaps using a mixed frozen veggie mix rather than just edamame.  Some carrots would have tasted really good. 

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
6 ounces Spanish chorizo, thinly sliced     I used venison kielbasa
2 (3.5-ounce) packages boil-in-bag brown rice (such as Uncle Ben's)  I used regular rice
3/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups water
1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
1 1/2 cups frozen shelled edamame
2 dozen mussels, scrubbed and debearded   I used shrimp
Preparation
1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add chorizo to pan; sauté 1 minute or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Remove rice from bags. Add rice to pan; sauté 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in salt, paprika, and pepper; sauté 30 seconds. Add 1 1/2 cups water and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer 10 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is almost absorbed.

2. Stir in edamame. Nestle mussels into rice mixture. Cover and cook 4 minutes or until mussels open and liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat. Discard any unopened mussels.

Wine note: Think pink for paella. Crisp, dry Beckmen 2009 Purisima Mountain Vineyard Grenache Rosé (Santa Ynez Valley, $18) has vibrant red fruit and spice to cover the smoked paprika and chorizo. Great acidity keeps going with the tomatoes, and rich texture wraps around the mussels. --Sara Schneider


Artichoke Dip (Ckng Light)
This may seem a bit strange, but this was our lunch while we watched the Big 10 College Hoops Championship game.  I toasted some thinly sliced french bread spread with butter, a bowl of grapes and carrots to accompany.  In hindsight, a little bit of garlic powder would have added a nice background flavor to the toasts.  Next time.  Odd, I simply cannot find the recipe that I used from Ckng Lght.  I will have to check back to see if I got the quantities right.


Serve with Pecorino-Black Pepper Bread sticks. To make this the night before, combine dip ingredients, spoon into the baking dish, cover, and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: about 1/3 cup)

Ingredients
1 green onion (I used a small shallot)

1 clove garlic
1/4 cup (3 ounces) block-style fat-free cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise

1 1/2 oz grated fresh Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 (9-ounce) packages frozen artichoke hearts (about 2 cups), thawed
Cooking spray

Preparation
Preheat oven to 400*

Combine the first 2 ingredients and artichokes in a food processor and pulse till coarsely chopped. Remove and set aside.  Add cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, mayo and lemon juice, mix until smooth.  Add to artichoke hearts with remaining ingredients.  Stir until well blended.

Spoon artichoke mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until artichoke mixture is hot and begins to brown. Serve warm.



Boiled Dinner (Irish Cookbook)
This was a request of the Husband; being of Irish decent, he's partial to Irish themed meals.  Bonus - he also is more than willing to make it!  This dish is super simple and a great way to use up cuts of meat that may have been languishing in the freezer.  Like my ham wedge.  One cabbage and 4 potatoes later we have dinner!  Yes, seriously, it is that simple.  The other great thing is you can make this meal as big or as small as needed. 

Preferred cut of meat (we used a oh, 2lb? ham)
Cabbage
Potatoes (I used yellow)

Bring some water to a boil. Season water.  Cook each item according to how long it will take.  Because the ham was already cooked and just needed to be warmed up, the Husband cooked the potatoes separately from the ham and cabbage.

What took so long was the Mustard Sauce to accompany the recipe.  My apologies, I don't have the recipe handy, but in essence, it was onion, mustard, half and half and some seasonings, bring to a boil and simmer till reduced and thick. Well.  It just didn't. want. to. thicken.  I tossed in some cornstarch.  Nope.  It simmered and simmered (and we ate anyway) and finally, toward the end of our meal, we tossed some on top of the ham.  It was very good if not runny. 


And a picture from last week, the white pizza:

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bad Blood by John Sandford

Book #4 in the Virgil Flowers series.  Read as an audiobook. 

Sandford knows how to write a good mystery.  His characters are solid, realistic, and dynamic.  Virgil, by no means perfect, knows how to do his job, keeps his boss in the loop and utilizes the resources around him.  No running off after the murder suspect to confront them alone, down a dark alley, with no back up (a mystery peeve of mine).  The settings in Minnesota actually exist (see my last comments from Mercy Falls by WKK) even if a small town is 'created' for the purposes of the story.  It's still in a real place and time.  Subtle difference, but important.



HB $27.99 ($15.53 from Amazon.com); 400 pgs
From Amazon.com (via Booklist): Bobby Tripp was a good kid, working at a grain mill, saving for college. But he killed Jacob Flood, a local farmer delivering his harvest; and then, after Bobby was arrested, he hung himself in jail. The sheriff, Lee Coakley, reaches out for help to Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. She gets Virgil Flowers, the throwback hippie with the hair, the rock-band T-shirts, and a rep as a lockdown investigator. Coakley and Flowers catch a whiff of sexual abuse involving Bobby’s girlfriend. The abuse angle widens and is centered on a local church, but the congregation closes ranks with iron uniformity. Flowers and Coakley get a line on a woman who escaped the influence of the church years before. She becomes the key to the case, opening a Pandora’s box of multiple murders, criminal behavior among the sheriff’s deputies, and revelations of deviancy that go back generations. As usual, Sandford delivers a great mystery with action, suspense, humor, and, yes, sex. Virgil always gets his man, but he also gets the girl.

The blurb is too tame.  Blood Country was a bit...unsettling.  Virgil is called down to southern Minnesota to investigate four murders and uncovers a cult of adult sexual molestation and child abuse.   I'm gonna just put that one right out there because it may turn some folks off.  Some descriptions and scenes in the book aren't sugar coated. 


If one can tolerate the unpleasant topic, the plot and character development in Bad Blood was outstanding, the humor subtle and a good counterpoint to the seriousness of the crimes, and a fairly quick read. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Recipe Review from 2/28/11

A quiet week last week.  A couple of dishes made ahead of time on Sunday carried us well through the week for both lunches and suppers. 

Chickpea Chili   (Ckng Lght, March 2011)
This was my favorite of the week.  The directions seem complicated, but are actually pretty simple and can be easily simplified more.   For example, sauteing the squash may add some flavor, but why saute the squash separately when it can be cooked in all the flavorful juices in the pot?  Plus saves washing a pan and time futzing after work.  The nine hours listed seems generous, but if you're putting this on before work, and say you need an hour after work to change, set the table, etc, then it works out perfectly.   I also used brown basmati rice instead of couscous because of the dish that follows.  Make rice and couscous the day before to save time.

Total: 9 hours, 30 minutes
Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 cup chili and 3/4 cup couscous)

Ingredients

    
    Photo from CookingLight.com
    
  • 1  cup  dried chickpeas  (I used two cans of prepared chickpeas)
  • 2  quarts boiling water
  • 2  tablespoons  olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2  cups  chopped onion
  • 5  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1  tablespoon  tomato paste
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  ground cumin
  • 1  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground red pepper
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • 1/4  teaspoon  ground turmeric
  • 2 1/2  cups  fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2  cup  water
  • 2/3  cup  sliced pimiento-stuffed olives
  • 1/2  cup  golden raisins
  • 1  (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, undrained and crushed
  • 4  cups  chopped peeled butternut squash
  • 1  cup  frozen green peas, thawed  (oops! forgot to toss them in...)
  • 1/4  cup  chopped fresh cilantro
  • 6  cups  hot cooked couscous  (I used brown basmati rice
  • 8  lime wedges

Preparation

1. Place chickpeas in a saucepan; add 2 quarts boiling water. Cover and let stand 1 hour; drain. Place beans in a 6-quart slow cooker.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion; sauté 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in tomato paste and next 5 ingredients (through turmeric); sauté 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add onion mixture to slow cooker. Add broth and next 4 ingredients (through tomatoes) to slow cooker; [Add squash to slow cooker] cover and cook on HIGH 8 hours.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil; swirl to coat. Add squash; saute 5 minutes. Add squash to slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH 1 hour; Stir in peas. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve over couscous with lime wedges.


Beef and Broccoli Stirfy   (Ckng Lght, March 2011)
This is quick and easy.  Can be made quicker if you buy pre-chopped broccoli florets.  I didn't because I feed my hounds some of the stems for the roughage.  I didn't have any sherry on hand so I think I used some wine instead.  I also used brown basmati rice as I don't buy pre-packaged boil in a bag rice.  Do make sure every thing is mise en plaz - chopped and ready to go - before cooking begins because this does go quick once the beef hits the pan.

Total: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 1 1/3 cups beef mixture and 1/2 cup rice)

Ingredients

    
    Photo from CookingLight.com
    
  • 2  (3 1/2-ounce) bags boil-in-bag long-grain white rice
  • 2  tablespoons  dry sherry, divided
  • 2  tablespoons  lower-sodium soy sauce, divided
  • 1  teaspoon  sugar
  • 1  pound  boneless sirloin steak, cut diagonally across grain into thin slices
  • 1/2  cup  lower-sodium beef broth
  • 1  tablespoon  cornstarch
  • 1  tablespoon  hoisin sauce
  • 1  teaspoon  Sriracha (hot chile sauce) or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2  tablespoons  canola oil, divided
  • 1  tablespoon  bottled ground fresh ginger
  • 2  teaspoons  minced garlic
  • 4  cups  prechopped broccoli florets
  • 1/4  cup  water
  • 1/3  cup  sliced green onions

1. Cook rice according to directions.

2. While rice cooks, combine 1 tablespoon sherry, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, sugar, and beef. Stir together 1 tablespoon sherry, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, broth, cornstarch, hoisin, and Sriracha.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef mixture; sauté 3 minutes or until browned. Remove beef from pan. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan. Add ginger and garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add broccoli and 1/4 cup water; cook 1 minute. Add onions; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add broth mixture and beef mixture; cook 2 minutes or until beef is thoroughly heated and sauce is slightly thick. Serve beef mixture over rice.


White Pizza  (Ckng Lght, March 2011)
I opted to use my own pizza crust recipe for this dish; we bounce between two:  Michael Rhulman's from his Ratio book and Culinary in the Country's pizza dough recipe.  Culinary's is a whole wheat version.  Both are good.  I used Rhulman's for this one simply because the book was handy.  Made the dough in the morning before work, let it rise in the fridge during the day, and took it out right when I got home.  It needed to warm up for 1 1/2 hours before assembly.  It was still pretty chilly when I started assembly, and I had to give the dough some additional resting time as I rolled it out.  Popped it into the oven, and had one of the better laughs over a cooking mistake - I forgot to prick the crust so it billowed up into a big pillow!  Still, everything turned out in the end. 


Heating a cookie sheet in the oven before you put the pizza on it gives you a crisper crust.
Total: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 2 slices)

Photo from CookingLight.com


Ingredients

  • 1  (10-ounce) Italian cheese-flavored thin pizza crust (such as Boboli)
  • 1  teaspoon  cornmeal
  • Cooking spray
  • 3  tablespoons  refrigerated pesto with basil (such as Buitoni)
  • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) shredded fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2  cup  part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2  cup  sliced small tomatoes (such as Campari tomatoes)
  • 1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
  • 1/4  cup  small basil leaves
  • Crushed red pepper (optional)
1. Preheat broiler to high.

2. Place a baking sheet in oven; heat for 10 minutes.

3. While baking sheet heats, place crust on another baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Lightly coat crust with cooking spray. Spread pesto evenly over crust, leaving a 1-inch border; sprinkle mozzarella evenly over pesto. Dollop ricotta, by teaspoonfuls, evenly over mozzarella. Slide crust onto preheated baking sheet, using a spatula as a guide. Broil 5 inches from heat for 5 minutes or until cheese begins to melt. Remove from oven; top evenly with tomatoes, black pepper, and basil. Sprinkle with red pepper, if desired. Cut into 8 slices.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Blue Shoes and Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith

Book 7 in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series

256 pgs, $14.00 pb
From Goodreads.com: Life is good for Mma Ramotswe as she sets out with her usual resolve to solve people’s problems, heal their misfortunes, and untangle the mysteries that make life interesting. And life is never dull on Tlokweng Road. A new and rather too brusque advice columnist is appearing in the local paper. Then, a cobra is found in the offices of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. Recently, the Mokolodi Game Preserve manager feels an infectious fear spreading among his workers, and a local doctor may be falsifying blood pressure readings. To further complicate matters, Grace Makutsi may have scared off her own fiancé. Mma Ramotswe, however, is always up to the challenge. And Blue Shoes and Happiness will not fail to entertain Alexander McCall Smith’s oldest fans and newest converts with its great wit, charm, and great good will.


Mma Ramotswe and Mma Maketoni continue to sleuth and contemplate life in Botswana. We are joined by a new character at Tolkweng Speedy Motors, a Rra Polopetsi - part garage assistant/part detective. In addition, Mma Maketoni now has a fiancee. The apprentices continue their antics and girl chasing, the ladies contemplate shoes and weight, and Rra JLB Maketoni continues to work on engines.

I did not find this selection as engaging as some of the others. The various sub-plots were slow to develop and the resolution to the "mysteries" rather uninspiring and without context. One day Mma Ramotswe is trying to figure things out, nothing makes sense, no leads and the next day it's all come together and problem solved over bush tea.


It was a struggle to continue to pick this one up and finish it.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Knitting Update Jan/Feb 2011

While it's been quiet on the knitting front since I finished all the Bella Mittens and the Button Tab Hats for the gals for the Holidays, my needles haven't been idle.  I had cast on a new pair of socks when we went to Mexico waaayyy back in November (hats took over after we got back) and I finally! finished them this weekend.  I just needed some quiet knitting time was all. 

Seedy Squares Socks
Big Book of Socks by Kathleen Taylor
#1 circulars

Cascade Heritage Handpainted yarn in blue tones







And my fellow Chicks with Sticks are attempting to do the year of the hat.  I say attempting because my first hat has already resulted in a do-over.  I did finish it "just to see", but I am displeased and will be frogging this (probably frogged by the time this is posted).  Disappointing, but I won't be happy with the end result unless I do so. 

Leaf Lace Hat
Luxury Yarns One Skein Wonders ed. Judith Durant
#4 16" circulars
Collinette Jitterbug in olive tones  (50 grams)








I also cast on some Man Socks for The Husband, but 50 grams of worsted weight yarn at 48sts just wasn't enough despite assurances to the contrary.  A decision was necessary - do the heel and toe in an alternate color or buy another skein of yarn.  We ended up buying another skein of yarn at the Husbands request.  I loved how quickly these went - I could do half a sock in the time it took to watch one and a half football games, minus an hour to exercise the dogs.  Sweet!

Garter Stitch (Rnd 1: k2p2 Rnd 2: k)
#4 circulars

Knitpicks Swish Worsted Lava Heather









And, last but hardly least: Man Mitts from Running Biology of a Knitter (ravelry link).   While these also knit up very quickly (I finished one on a trip to the other side of the State in January), they came out HUGE.  Like MONDO HUGE.  Well, it was time to give felting a go.  Into the wash they went.  Twice.  They shrunk a mere 1/4" of an inch.  Co-workers think I need to bump up the water temp to hot and give it one more go.  If they don't work out, I'll Goodwill them or something and make him another pair.


Pre-shrink measurements



Man Mitts
"Guild Yarn" (100% wool, two strands) 
#3 circulars