A new adventure!

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I’ve been gone for quite a while around these parts, but I’m still knitting. And now, I have some new plans up my sleeves. I have loved writing here on bmore crafty, but I think it’s time for a fresh start — a place where I can not only share my knitting, but my other handmade and “domestic” pursuits — on a new site. I hope you’ll stop by and check out The Hungriest Knitter, where I’ll be blogging and videocasting my journey. Please say hello and tell me what you think! And thanks for following me here all these years. You’ve really been the best.

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#97 – FINDING MY CENTER

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Any knitter can commiserate with me — finding the end of the yarn in a center-pull ball can be an infuriatingly fruitless task. You’re digging around, inevitably tangling your yarn and muttering to yourself; all the while, the ball of yarn is mocking  your abilities as a knitter. I mean, if you can’t even get your project started properly, why bother with the sticks and string at all?

I’ve also been struggling to find my center in life lately. In the last few years, there was always something to consume my brain — starting a new job, hitting the dating scene, moving into yet another place. Once things evened out, I started feeling lost. Of course, I can go to my yarn and find comfort, but sometimes, it isn’t enough.

Last spring, I strained my neck terribly and was having issues with carpal tunnel, so I turned to acupuncture. I found the process to be calming and inspiring. The practitioner deeply listened to my ailments and concerns, both physical and mental. There, my interest was sparked. Later, I started to read articles on an awesome blog called The Maven Circle, which seeks to help creative women find balance and and fulfillment in their busy lives. Their posts were by no means revolutionary, but were a reminder to take better care of myself and planted a seed in my mind. I then stumbled upon a blog post from A Smaller Life on metta meditation, which challenged readers to will love and compassion on the world — both those people with whom we agree and those whom we find difficult. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

I tried to start meditating on my own, but I couldn’t turn away from all the distractions. Netflix, texting, blogs, phone calls, books, work emails, even yarn; all of it pulling me away, but still feeling stressed and taking it out others around me. I recently went to a meditation group where we were encouraged to simply focus on the breath. I couldn’t believe how the time flew. Yoga has provided a similar experience for me, but there I also feel the power of my body and am reminded of the amazing things in which we are capable.

I’m obviously still new to all of this, but I’m finding there’s a certain virtue to simply being quiet and listening; and when I can’t seem to do that, to return to the breath and see where that takes me. I know that knitting is seen as a meditative activity, but sometimes I struggle to see it that way. I want to make beautiful things. I want to be technically proficient and learn new skills. I recently started a sock (I know; who would have thought it?) and made a mistake as I turned the heel. It’s hard to find a meditative quality when you’re ripping back heel decreases. Sometimes it feels impossible to complete a project, but I read an article from Knitty on knitting as meditation that said this: “When we knit a ball of yarn into a sweater, we are constructing a whole, bit by bit, stitch by stitch. We can go as slowly as we like, but each stitch is progress.”

I’ll be thinking on this as I work on my sock, my cardigan, and whatever else ends up on my needles (did I mention that I’m in the middle of a serious bout of startitis?) to keep working towards being a more peaceful and present self.

#96 – CASHMERE DAYDREAMS

the Snowflinga in progress!

A quick note: Thanks to all for indulging me with my last post. I did receive a reply from the administration that wasn’t entirely fulfilling, but at least it is a reminder that our voices can be heard. And now, back to yarn!

I’ve been recently obsessing over (no surprises here) …hats. Yes, again. I stumbled across the Wiksten hat patterns, and down the rabbit hole I went.  There’s something about the simplicity, the slouchy fit, and the textural surprises that get me. I hope my fellow knitters won’t hate me when I say — these are the kinds of hats I wish I could find in clothing shops! Then again, if that were the case, I probably never would have started knitting in the first place, and what good would life be then?

So I immediately bought the Snoflinga Hat pattern (doesn’t the name make you smile?) and cast it on in a skein of Quince and Co. Osprey that was hanging around in my stash and already wound into a cake. It’s in chanterelle, a lovely creamy beige that will look great with my hair and hopefully flatter my skin tone, otherwise, it will be begrudgingly gifted. I’m also  in love with the Jul Hat, but I of course think this one needs to be knitted in a skein of black cashmere, which I don’t have and don’t need. A girl can dream, though.

side note: Have you all read Fringe Association (and seen the accompanying shop, Fringe Supply Co.?) I am, yet again, obsessed. It’s everything I wish this blog could be. And I need those stitch markers asap.

An Open Letter to the Administration at Towson University

This blog is usually home to my personal exploits in the realm of knitting and cooking, but today, I hope my readers will indulge me in an off-topic post. In October 2012, I learned of the formation of a White Student Union at my undergraduate alma mater, Towson University, which led me to privately write a letter to the administration expressing my dismay. Recent news explains that members of the White Student Union shared and stood behind hateful, racist remarks made at CPAC. As an alumna, I am disgusted, and am now posting an open letter (which I have also addressed directly to the President’s Office) in hopes that my fellow alumni are made aware of the goings-on at the University: 

Dr. Loeschke and the President’s Council:

I am a young alumna of Towson University. I wrote your office previously upon learning of the formation of a White Student Union on campus. I am more dismayed to learn that in recent days, members of this group supported hateful, racist remarks made by a speaker at CPAC, and defended them publicly, likely as a means to promote their student group. Towson University’s administration continues to ignore this group, which I find disgusting and disgraceful.

My misgivings with the White Student Union are numerous. That a group of white students feel the need to ignore their predominance on Towson’s campus, refusing to acknowledge their unmarked, normative status in today’s culture is laughable at best. It’s important to note that Mr. Heimbach, the group’s leader, argues that other ethnic groups have representation on campus, but fails to recognize that “white” is not an ethnic group. Even more important to note is the inherent privilege that Mr. Heimbach is granted as a white man, and how his actions further isolate Towson University’s minorities. When this type of student group uses the University’s name to promote its message, but is ignored by the administration, it creates a climate that instills fear and discourages diversity among the community — which is clearly, desperately needed right now at Towson.

Knowledge that this atmosphere exists on campus makes me embarrassed to be an alumna of an institution I loved during my undergraduate years. When people ask where I attended college, I would rather refer to the University of Maryland, College Park, where I earned my master’s degree, as I’m admittedly ashamed of the excuse for discourse that is being sanctioned at Towson.

As someone who now works in university development, I intimately understand how higher education institutions depend upon their alumni for financial support. Additionally, as someone who is passionate about higher education, I recognize how universities can serve as community pillars, promoting the open exchange of ideas and academic inquiry. Through the administration’s inaction, it’s clear to me that Towson University doesn’t embody these characteristics — and that alumni like myself should not consider making financial contributions to a place that no longer represents us.

As long as the administration stands idly by while a student group espouses hate using the University’s name and isolates campus minorities who are my fellow Tigers, please do not expect my support as an alumna.

#95 – THE KNIT AND NOSH

What on earth is a knit and nosh, you ask?

Well, it usually involves the following things: numerous text messages between myself and Mizelissa, intentions to meet at 9:30am and the reality of meeting around 11am, a location that serves the finest coffee and doesn’t have waitresses who get mad because we’re lingering, space to lay out numerous piles of yarn and gush about our knitterly prowess, lots of confused faces and shifty eyeballs looking at said numerous piles of yarn, and loads of inappropriate brunch-time conversation.

This weekend, I met up with the illustrious Mizelissa for coffee and snacks in Hampden. A word on M: There are some people you meet and immediately feel that you’ve known them forever. You get it and they get it and everything’s hunky dory and no one wonders why you’re sharing deep, dark secrets 45 minutes after first meeting. That’s me and her. So of course, our outings are always fun and lovely and mildly uncomfortable for eavesdroppers.

This time, there were knitted aliens and chickens, a hipster meet-cute, strangers joining in on our conversation, a confession for a love of The Fast and the Furious franchise, coffees and lemon sodas, slow and steady sweater progress, and hands raised victoriously over our heads more times than I can count.

Nothing rejuvenates my knitting mojo (or my mental health) like a knit and nosh. Even if you aren’t into yarn, you should give it a try. You won’t be disappointed.

#94 – THAT TIME I DEFEATED THE WEEKEND

a cakey force to be reckoned with! and a darn tasty pie in the background, to boot.

This past week has been exhausting. Yes, fun and eventful, but now you’re finding me cozied up on the couch watching You’ve Got Mail and not even thinking about knitting.

See, last week, my dude had a birthday. One of those milestone birthdays that deserves (dare I say requires?) lots of celebrating. In fact, I don’t even think we’re done celebrating yet… but that’s not my point. So I planned out a homemade dinner with all the fixins for the actual day, and he decided to throw a dinner shindig at his place with friends over the weekend.

“Of course, I’ll help you,” I said. “Whatever you need,” I said. “And I’ll bake your birthday cake,” I said.

Apparently, I forgot about the baby shower I was attending the day after the party. The one where I planned to give a hand knit baby blanket as my gift. The blanket was barely half knitted when I made these promises. But I don’t like cutting corners.

So off I went to find the perfect cake recipe (did I mention that I don’t bake?) and of course found myself searching Smitten Kitchen. Girlfriend knows whats up. And with the help of some friends, I baked the most intensely chocolatey devil’s food cake ever. But the suggested icing seemed… not right. So I rang my mom, who gave me the world’s most perfect, fluffy yet crunchy and not cloyingly sweet icing recipe, so I’ll share it here with you.

The Perfect White 7-minute Frosting That You’ll Want to Use on All the Things

2 egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
1/4 tsp cream of tartar (this is the magic ingredient!)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine egg whites, sugar, water & cream of tartar in metal bowl. Mix for 1 minute with electric beater on high. Place bowl on top of pot of boiling water (be sure bottom of bowl doesn’t touch the water) & beat for 7 minutes with electric beater on high. Remove from double boiler, add vanilla & beat for additional 2 minutes. Ta-da! Perfect, glossy frosting.

Luckily, I finished the baby blanket and ended up with only slightly claw-like hands, had a few days off from work (one planned, the other weather-induced), and another weekend is in sight. The only bad part of the week was learning that my dude’s roommates ate all the cake leftovers. But I guess you can’t win ‘em all.

#93 – MAKING THINGS, NOT WITH YARN

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Okay, it has been beyond a while since I posted here, but let’s overlook that and get to the good stuff. I’ve certainly been clicking my needles since I last wrote, and have even whipped up a few holiday gifts in recent weeks, even though I usually balk at the thought of knitting anything as a present these days… but I’ve also been busy in the kitchen, making delicious goodies to tuck into baskets for Christmas. One of my favorites (along with every other domestic blogger around) is jam — sweet or savory, they require little effort and result in a gorgeous presentation.

This year, I’m making cranberry port marmalade, which is a tart-sweet-savory topper that can be sandwiched in cookies or served as a relish with pork roast, but I like best simply smeared on top of wheat toast.

Cranberry Port Marmalade, adapted from the lovely Fraulein Klein blog
(yields 3-4 small jars)

4 cups fresh cranberries
2 cups sugar
3 or 4 clementines
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean
2 tbsp port wine

Cook cranberries and sugar in a heavy bottomed pot over medium low heat. Add cleaned peel and juice of 3 or 4 clementines, cinnamon stick, and vanilla bean split lengthwise to expose the seeds. Let simmer uncovered on low for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add 2 tbsp of port and bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick and vanilla pod. Pour into sterilized jars.

You can decorate your jars simply with a plain kraft paper tag, bakers twine or a scrap of pretty ribbon. Refrigerated, this jam should keep for several months.

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