Monday, August 17, 2015

Three New Patterns and Stitches Midwest!

On Wednesday, August 5, I released three new patterns! Two of them were shawls that were inspired by my recent trips to the Republic of Georgia; Lenjeri is a lace pattern inspired by a small village in Svaneti, and Polyphony was my attempt to knit a tangible interpretation of the traditional 3-part vocal tunes prevalent in Georgia.
When Doug and I visited Lenjeri on our honeymoon, we were enamored with the greenery and flowers finding homes within cracks of stone walls. When Leading Men Fiber Arts gave me a skein of green merino-silk lace yarn (the Ghost Light base) at Vogue Knitting Live, I immediately associated that green (Envy) with the green I saw in that small village. Fortunately, I had the chance to return this summer with my Georgian Choir on a tour to learn folk songs.
I'm fascinated with traditional Georgian polyphony, most often sung in three parts with close harmony (each word links to a different style of three-part singing in the country--I could not decide). I decided to combine this fascination with my love for knitwear design, and came up with Polyphony, a warm, color-block stole with a lace center. I tried to make the colors work together to make a whole, as well as illustrating that the middle part in Georgian polyphony is often the most detailed. I knit it out of Leading Men Fiber Arts Show Stealer base (80% merino, 10% cashmere, and 10% nylon) in the colorways Dames At Sea, Dusty Quartz, and Sandcastle.
I modeled it by a river in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia.
The third pattern I designed for the Leading Men Fiber Arts boot at Stitches was a fun hat pattern called Zipadee, using elongated slipped stitches forming zig-zag zippers that meet at the top.
I knit it out of their Playbill base (dk weight single-ply merino) in the Seaweed colorway. It was a fun, quick knit after all the shawls!
On to Stitches! We set up the Polyphony wrap on the model next to several kits that Steve and Andy picked out to go with the pattern.
I had a wonderful time meeting other designers, fellow yarn-addicts, and seeing some old friends.
If you came by the booth, thank you! I loved the opportunity to meet you!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Operation Berry Pie

This has been the summer of pies. Usually I attempt one pie per summer, then being discouraged by the amount of work involved, I put off my next attempt for the following summer. Not this year! For my husband's 40th birthday he requested "pie" as his type of cake, and since I figured there would be loads of people celebrating that weekend, I decided to bake two. This is indeed the answer, because yes, it is a lot of work. But if you put in the work and it results in twice as many pies, why, it's really only half the work per pie!
A couple weeks ago I made two berry pies, but forgot to look at a recipe when I started. Therefore, I had to fudge a little bit, and it resulted in everyone asking for my pie filling recipe! I had to think about it, and just to make sure, I recreated the pies.
First, I prepared the filling (remember, this is for 2 pies):
  • 4 cups sliced strawberries
  • 4 cups blueberries
  • 2 cups rasperries
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
I mixed them together, making sure the berries were coated, and set it aside.
I then made the dough. I increased the recipe by a quarter because I can never seem to make a pie crust that drapes over the edge of the pan and still have enough for the lattice on top.
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 2/3 cups ghee (you can use butter, shortening, or lard, but I prefer clarified butter)
  • up to 16 tablespoons ice water
Cut the ghee into the flour, first using two knives, then a hand mixer (I like my mixers analogue), till the largest clumps of ghee are the size of small peas. You'll still have a lot of loose flour everywhere, but don't worry about that; that's the ice water's job.
Add one tablespoon of ice water and toss it around, then press the dough to the sides of the bowl. Repeat this until you can make a solid clump of dough that can be formed into a ball.
Seperate your dough into four pieces. Roll out your first two pieces into 12" diameter circles and drape them perfectly over the pie pans with no cracks or holes.
I'm far from professional, but I bet even the pros have to play doctor some. Now trim your perfectly-draped (sorry--I just realized that maybe not everyone would recognize the sarcasm here--that's sarcasm) pie crusts and cover with cling wrap and put in the fridge.
Roll your next two chunks into similar shapes, then use a pizza cutter to slice each one into eight 1 1/2" strips. Lay some cling wrap on a cookie sheet, then arrange one layer of strips, then another sheet of cling wrap, and a second layer of strips. Top with a third layer of cling wrap and place in your fridge.
By now, the sugar has probably robbed your berries of some juice. Set up a collander over a bowl, and slide the berry mixture into the collander. Wait a couple minutes for them to drain.
Reserve 3/4 cup of the syrup for the pie. With the rest, I recommend sweetening a pitcher of black iced tea.
Pour your reserved syrup into the bowl where the berries were. Add:
  • 4 Tbsp Minute Tapioca
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • a dash of cayenne (optional, though I added 3 dashes and it was magnificent)
  • 1 tsp each of cinnamon, ginger, and vanilla (extract)
  • freshly grated nutmeg (does anyone ever measure grated nutmeg?)
Add the berries from the collander, mix, and let sit for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F, with two racks arranged in the middle two slots. Place a large cookie sheet on the bottom rack.
Take out the pie crusts and strips from the fridge. When the berry mixture is ready, ladle it in to the pie crusts, equally. Arrange the strips on top of the mixture in a woven lattice, then crimp the edge of the pie crust with your fingers. Seperate an egg and reserve the whites in a small bowl, and paint the egg white onto the lattice. Sprinkle sugar on top, generously, but don't go overboard.
Place your pies in the oven for 25 minutes. Rotate them, then turn the heat down to 350 degrees F. Cook for another 30 minutes. Take them out and let them cool to room temperature.
Oh boy oh boy oh boy!