Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Factory Work

The American factory may not be completely a thing of the past. I've been working in my own version of it on two fronts.

I've been in a marathon of paper grading over the past couple of weeks, and yesterday I finished the last batch of ten-page term papers and turned in grades. (Hallelujah!)

I can do some fairly plain knitting while I read, and so my pile of fingerless mitts for Christmas gifts has grown while I've graded. Multi-tasking isn't part of factory work, but it's more an adaptation to my life as a contemporary woman.

Between undergraduate and graduate school I worked in the plant at General Mills, where my mom worked in the office for many years. Those months on the graveyard shift, dropping coupons into the bottoms of empty cereal boxes as they came down the conveyor belt, kept me motivated in my studies.

One of upshots of all those years of school is that, even though I do an occasional graveyard shift, there's no more single-tasking for me. Plus my work environment is a lot quieter.

Here's the recipe for Butternut Squash Risotto for Allie, adapted from one in Oprah magazine. I hope it helps you eat up all the squash you harvested this year.

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I use the veggie broth that comes in the cartons)
2 T olive oil
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup arborio rice
2 small garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 med butternut squash (about 1.5 lbs), peeled, seeded, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes (you can also use acorn and other winter squashes)
8 large sage leaves, chopped (omit or substitute dried if you don't have it)
2 T butter
2 t salt
freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup crumbled Gorgonzola
1/4 cup toasted chopped pecans (I use walnuts)

In a large heavy-bottomed pan, over a medium-high flame, heat the olive oil. Add onion and saute for 2 minutes. Add the rice, stir for 1 minute. Add the garlic and squash, and cook for a minute. Lower the heat to medium and add 1/2 cup of the broth and stir until the liquid is absorbed, but the rice isn't sticking to the pot. Continue adding 1/2 cup broth and stirring until the liquid is absorbed, about 20-25 minutes, or until the rice is cooked, the squash is tender, and you've used all the broth.

Remove from the heat. Add sage, butter, salt. Season with pepper and stir. Add the Gorgonzola and nuts. Serves 4.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Mother, Rejoice (24 x 27)

I finished this piece I've been working on. I think of it as a collage of fabric and embellishments more than as a crazy quilt. It doesn't have much embroidery, unlike "Little Flower." I think I am taking a break from heavily embellished pieces for now. (Or perhaps, this is what passes as light embellishment for me.)

I used vintage linens and lace, fabric, trim, and lots of beads. Most of the border fabrics are home dec samples.

This is my second time working with transfers made from holy card images. They have a lot of significance for me, as they call up my childhood in a very sentimental and innocent way. I like the way these images fit so nicely on vintage handkerchiefs.

I use plain old pre-made t-shirt transfer sheets from the fabric store. I make the photo transfers by running the sheets through my printer, and when I iron them onto the handkerchief, the print of the fabric shows through.

Allie Aller gave me this silk panel. I embroidered over the message and did a bit of had embroidery and beading.

This patch is from a handkerchief that I cut down and embellished.

The lighting was bad when I took the photo of the whole piece: the sky was black and stormy. The detailed photos came out better, however.

I cut the gold flowers from a trim and I used a lot of sequins and pearls. The beading did double duty in that it also hold the quilt layers together.

Most of the flowers in this piece were pre-made and I combined them with beaded accents.

In the middle of this photo you can see some small pearls from an old broken necklace.

I like the way this part looks like an apple blossom branch.

Click on the images for close-up views.

Birthday Goodness

Last week we had our annual birthday fest. Michael and I have birthdays two days apart, so it's one celebration after another for a few days. For Michael's birthday, I finished knitting his vest.

This pattern is from the book Folk Vests. It was knit in a sport weight wool and alpaca blend. It's very soft and light weight, but warm. I also cooked Michael dinner: butternut squash risotto with Gorgonzola and walnuts, fresh green beans, and chocolate cake.

Two days later it was my turn to be the honoree. Allie cooked, though Michael shopped. She did a beautiful job with wild salmon, rosemary roasted potatoes, and roasted asparagus. For dessert we had the red velvet cupcakes in the first photo.

How nice to have so much to celebrate.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Color of 2009

I saw this news report about the anticipated trendy color of 2009. It says that bright yellow will be hot.

I've always liked yellow, and I've noticed that a wide range of shades haven't been widely available in recent years, so I'm glad we'll likely see more yellows in the near future.

This shade looks like butterscotch, and it kind of reminds me of our old 70s friend Harvest Gold. Can burnt orange and avocado green be far behind?

Sweater Genesis

  A few years ago I learned to harvest yarn from old wool sweaters.  I don't do it so much anymore, with the exception of if I find...