Wednesday, October 31, 2012

On Rhinebeck: part the 2nd

Hope everyone on the East Coast has made it through Sandy alive and well! CP and I fared quite well--we kept power, and the only damage is a rather large tree branch now resting on our front lawn that I suppose we'll have to hack up into firewood this weekend.

Just want to finish up the Rhinebeck-related blogging, and then hopefully later this week I can tell you all about how my Rhinebeck sweater didn't fit.

Also, this is a giant bunny:



We stayed at the Holiday Inn in Kingston. My primary concern was that the big, green Holiday Inn sign did not match the hotel itself, which was accented in turquoise and didn't say "Holiday Inn" anywhere on its exterior. But as the only other thing in the parking lot was a pizza shop, by process of elimination, we determined that it was, in fact, our hotel.

It was fine. Nothing special. Our room was out of the way, no excessive noise from the restaurant or event room, and we could get back and forth to our car from a side door, and didn't have to traipse through the lobby repeatedly. The wi-fi was lacking--supposedly it existed, but would only connect if you were in certain parts of the (quite small) room, and even then, was so slow, web pages timed out.

Last year we stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fishkill, and though it was further away from the festival, it was much nicer. Also, no toll--it's only $1.50, I believe, and we have an EZ Pass, but if we didn't, I would've been annoyed paying it every time we wanted to go somewhere.


We arrived around 4pm on Friday, and though it was raining, we wanted to do something. We decided to check out Woodstock, NY. It was . . . disappointing. Perhaps because it was drizzling, it was dead, and most of the shops were closed. The ones that were open seemed a bit bizarre. Antiques and chocolates? Tacos and ice cream? We were hoping to kill some time in a coffee shop, but there wasn't one.


We made reservations in advance at 2 restaurants in the area: Terrapin in Rhinebeck, and Pan Zur, a tapas restaurant in Tivoli.


I was mildly annoyed when we first arrived--we were a few minutes early, so couldn't be seated right away, but couples coming in behind us somehow were. I assume each reservation is assigned to a particular table, so if the diners before you are lingering, you wait, while people coming in after might have been assigned to a table previously occupied by speed eaters. I personally think is a terrible model, but I'm not in the restaurant biz.

More importantly, though, the atmosphere was cozy (lots of knitters!) and the food was delicious. The menu was varied, portions were generous, and they even had a few non-alcoholic "cocktails" for the preggos. CP had a salmon dish, I had pumpkin ravioli and we finished with "coffee and donuts"--mini pumpkin donuts with coffee ice cream.

Highly recommend.

Pan Zur:

This place . . . where do I start?

The menu we saw online was not the menu we got at the restaurant. While I know restaurants often have seasonal menus that may change, I assume they will try to keep the same balance: a mix of meat and non-meat options, a similar number of appetizers/small plates/entrees, a little something for everyone.

This is apparently not true.

The appetizers were all meat based, so we skipped that right off. They also offered a "selection" of cheeses--4 whole ones, 1 of which was sold out. We ordered the remaining 3: a rubbery cheddar, a goat cheese with an odd after taste, and a manchego that was pretty standard, as far as manchegos go.

It's supposed to be a tapas restaurant. The menu has a grand total of about 5 small plates, which is really quite a small offering for tapas. We ordered the one we could eat, something with shrimp, and while we got a large portion, it featured the most bizarre combination of flavors I've ever seen in a single dish. In an effort to be unique and innovative, the chef seemed to have thrown together the most bizarre collection of foods he could think of, and the result was a disaster.

(Technically there was a second dish we could eat, but it was some kind of squid abomination I'm really glad we didn't try.)

Overall, I felt like the restaurant was just trying too hard. And failing.

The fries were pretty good, though.

And that's it! Rhinebeck is over for another year.


Nothing to do but wait for MD Sheep and Wool in May.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

On Rhinebeck: Part the First


Work was supremely awful this week. I was at the office for 10+ hours every day--and one day I was there for 14 hours.

And of course, I had to get through the whole thing without any booze for recovery purposes, which was probably the most challenging part.

But, finally, the experts are gone and things are back to normal.

You know, until the hurricane gets here.

But let's pretend that's not happening, and just get into my review of RHINEBECK!

In this post, I'll tell you about the festival itself, and next time, I'll yap about related things, like restaurants and hotel.

First, here's what it looked like on our way up:


Hmmm. Not the greatest weather, but the foliage was still quite beautiful. Rather than drive through Baltimore, Philadelpia, and Newark (ie, the insane traffic route), we opted to drive about 10 minutes out of our way and take a more scenic route through central Pennsylvania. We still had some traffic slow downs because of the rain, but made it in about 6 hours.

Fortunately on festival day, the weather cleared up. In fact, it reached into the 70s, which was far too warm for my taste (but since my Rhinebeck sweater ended up too small--a story for another post--it didn't matter too much).

We arrived at the fairgrounds about 10 minutes after the gates opened.


And the lines were already INSANE. 

I managed to squeeze in to check out Cephalopod Yarns, but the stock was already thoroughly picked over, and the line reached back to New York City. Miss Babs, Jennie the Potter, Socks that Rock . . . they were all the same. And frankly, I refuse to pay for the privilege of standing in line for hours to buy the same yarn I could buy over the Internet (not that the Peruanito lets me stand for long periods of time these days anyway).

So, this ended up being my entire haul:


Yep. One skein of yarn, one braid of fiber.

To be honest, it was a little disappointing. I'm sure the vendors love it, of course, but as a shopper, I was just frustrated. 

So most of my time was spent looking at animals and people watching.



I stopped by the Ravelry meetup and found a few friends to say hi to (and noted a few celebrity sightings: Ysolda, Stephen West, Casey and Jess, Mary Heather), then it was off to lunch. Which was, again, INSANE. While I attempted to take up as much space on a bench as possible so we would have a place to sit, CP stood in line for 30 minutes to bring me the world's grossest burrito, basically a cold flour tortilla wrapped around a can of Old El Paso refried beans. For $8. Yum. 

Then, it was time to dash off again to my spinning class. I was tempted to skip it so I would have time to shop, since I remember last year the crowds thinned out by the afternoon, but I made the mature decision to go, and was glad I did. While most of the other spinners had more experience, I didn't feel totally out of place, and I learned quite a bit. I even feel ready to ply yarn now, and my spinning is coming out at least a bit more even. Plus, Abby Franquemont is a hoot--I love any class that starts out with an explanation of the difference between Latin Time and Gringo Time, something I deal with quite a bit.

When my class ended, I wandered back outside to find that the weather had cooled and the wind had picked up, so it was feeling quite fallish. Also, CP met me with a bag of cider donuts! It was nearly closing time, so it was too late to do any more shopping, but CP had another surprise for me--he didn't feel confident enough to buy yarn, but chatted with some vendors and picked up a lazy kate for me! Isn't he great?


So, another Rhinebeck had come to an end. It wasn't, I must say, as fun and exciting as my first Rhinebeck, but it was definitely an experience.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

On multitasking

This is going to be a combo post of sorts, as I want to touch on a few points before we leave for Rhinebeck in the morning.


First, I don't want you to miss your weekly Dory cuteness, so here she is:


Yes, she's laying in a cardboard box from She lays there a lot. More than her bed. I tried to throw it out and CP nearly had a heart attack. He spoils her more than I do, which does not bode well for my "have-children-who-aren't-spoiled-brats" plan.

Also, here's Nelly nuzzling her toy, just for the heck of it:


Secondly, progress has been made on the Rocky Coast cardigan, I'm quite excited:


I finished the body, then knit the first sleeve. Then I couldn't stomach working on giant DPNs anymore, so I did the neckband. And now I'm back to the second sleeve. I got a bit done in the car this morning, before I dropped a DPN under my seat and couldn't find it for 30 minutes. Then I got even a little bit more done, but I'd say I've got another 13" to go.

Which brings me to the next point: RHINEBECK! I'd love to have this sweater ready to wear Saturday. I could easily finish the sleeve during the 6 hour drive to upstate NY, but then I'd have to block the sweater at the hotel, probably on the floor (eww), and hope it dries really quickly. So that's plan B. Plan A is to miraculously finish it tonight. Wish me luck!

I'm all signed up for a spindle spinning class with Abby Franquemont on Saturday afternoon. The only problem is, I haven't touched my spindle in months:


And I am really just a beginning spinner anyway. I hope I won't embarrass myself too much.

If you're at Rhinebeck on Saturday, look for me and say hi! I'll have a very tall Peruvian in tow, a wee baby bump and my yellow-and-black Hufflepuff bag.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

On birthday presents!

Remember when I said this?

Well, this morning, this happened:


I have no clue--absolutely no clue--how to use it, but I'm really excited!!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Saturday Sampler: Harry Potter Nursery Edition

Sorry, I'm a little baby-heavy this week, but I've found some really adorable Harry Potter stuff for Peruanito's nursery, and I thought you guys might be interested!
Owl wall decals, $18.79

Broom decor, $13.99 (a Halloween costume accessory)

Framed map of Diagon Alley, $60

Snowy owl decor, $6.99

Ravenclaw throw, $35
(Think we're going Ravenclaw, solely because I like the colors best)

Copy of the Marauders' Map, $35

And of course, these amazing Harry Potter-themed vintage style travel posters!
(Although at $50 each, they'd be quite a splurge)

What else do we need??

Friday, October 12, 2012

On wee little knits

Babies need handknit things.

It's a rule, apparently.

And I'm not really sure why.

Babies ruin stuff. They poo and puke and roll around on the floor and grow too fast, and sooner or later, that thing you knit is looking more and more like the original tangle of yarn it was. Only dirtier.

But still. Babies need handknit things.

Who am I to buck tradition?

Since our wee Peruanito will be making his debut in February, he'll, of course, need lots of handknit things. February is cold.

So I've made this very small cap to keep his little head warm:


And some very tiny mittens to protect those wee hands:


The hat is the Norwegian Sweet Baby Cap, and the mittens, the Djevel-Mittens. Both patterns feature samples knit in stripes, but I decided to use a single yarn, just to make my life easier. It's not as if baby will know the difference, and I've been on a mission to use up leftover yarns.

I also suspect both are a bit big for a newborn, but I guess we'll see. He can always grow into them.

The centerpiece of Peruanito's winter wardrobe, though, will be Alana Dakos' Little Oak cardigan, which for reasons unknown I keep calling "Tiny Oak."


Peruanito is due February 8, but if he's anything like me (born 2 weeks late, as mom never tires of reminding me), he'll be late to the party and make his debut around Valentine's Day instead.

(There's also a darn good chance he'll interrupt the Superbowl, especially if the Ravens happen to be in it.)

So I figured he needs a red sweater for the occasion.

This seems to be a pretty easy knit, nothing's really going on until I hit the yoke, so smooth car knitting for now. I chose some Madelinetosh (of course) sport for the project, the colorway is Tart. The smallest size for the pattern is 6 months, so this is another item he may have to grown into--though since CP is 6'4", I wouldn't be surprised to have a big Peruanito as well.

I'm totally going to be that mom whose kid is taller than her at age 10.

I also have a pair of very small socks on the needles, and a vague blanket design floating around in my head. What do you like to knit for babies?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tuesdays with Dory

This is my thoughtful face

Dear Dory,

Sometimes I swatch for a project, and then by the time I'm ready to start, I've forgotten what size needle  I used. Guessing hasn't worked out well for me in the past. Any ideas?

Forgetful in Fargo

Dear Forgetful,

I bet your kitteh remembers which size you used, but s/he probably won't tell you, so that's not much help. Kittehs are secretive that way.
Here are a few other ideas:
--Write on your swatch--a heavy duty marker like a Sharpie works, but the down side is, you won't be able to cannibalize your swatch if you run out of yarn.
--Safety pin a tag with the needle size to your swatch--less permanent, but could also fall off, especially if you keep your swatches for a lifetime.
--Work your needle size INTO your swatch--does no damage to the yarn, and can't fall off, but you have to remember to do it, which can be tricky. Make it a habit, though, and you're golden.
Here's what you do: while you're working up your swatch, add a row with a series of YOs; the number of YOs= the needle size!


Here's a swatch Kristen made using this method--easy to see she used size 5 needles.

Just be sure to add a matching k2tog for each YO, otherwise you're adding stitches.

This method won't work in a lacy pattern where the YOs would get lost in the pattern, but you still have options--try putting a garter stitch border around the lace and work the YOs there!

Bonus tip: If you have a yarn you use frequently, it's a great idea to work up swatches like this using a few different needle sizes and keep them on hand. Then the next time you decide to use that yarn, you can check your swatches and see how it the yarn will knit up and (if you're a consistent knitter!) what your gauge will be.

(Kristen hasn't actually done this yet, but she still thinks it's a great idea.)

Have a purrrrrrfect day, and happy swatching!


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Saturday Sampler: 'Round the Virtual Neighborhood

What fascinating Internet fluff have I been perusing this week while bored at the office? Let's take a look, shall wee?

It won't fit me until next fall/winter, but I adore this jacket from Boden USA.

I recently ordered our dining room set from Crate and Barrel, and the matching buffet is $700; this similar style from Ikea is a more reasonable $449

And speaking of the dining room, we just picked up this rug at Target!


I'm ready to eat this Caramel Apple Crisp for every meal!

These personalized notepads are too sweet.

Spiderturtle, spiderturtle, does whatever a spiderturtle does . . . too cute! via tricotchick

Friday, October 5, 2012

On forever Fridays

It's Friday!

And this day is just dragging onnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn . . .

This is my very unhappy "I'm stuck in the office" face

I'm beginning to think time is going backward.

Not only do I have a 3 day weekend to look forward to (here at the Organization That Must Not Be Named, we like to celebrate that guy that brought disease and greedy Spaniards to the New World, where they nearly wiped out the native populations), complete with a ghost tour of historic Annapolis, but tonight is the Wild Card game between the Orioles and the Rangers!

This is it. If they lose, the season's over.

(Although, on the plus side, I bet I'll be a lot more productive in the evenings, not glued to the tv.)

So needless to say, I can't wait to get out of here. I've been watching the clock since 10am.

I'm also eager to get back to working on my latest WIP:


My Rocky Coast Cardigan, another gem from the Coastal Knits collection, is moving along swiftly--I've already completed the raglan increases and am working on the body of the sweater. It's an incredibly easy to memorize cable pattern, and there's no waist shaping, which makes for a very portable, nearly mindless project. The kind you can work on while watching a baseball game, for example.

Speaking, yet again, of Coastal Knits, just after I posted earlier this week about the Rustling Leaves beret, Hannah and Alana announced that the collection has been released as an ebook, AND, the individual patterns are gradually being released for individual download. Alana has also been offering a one day discount on each pattern as she releases it--today you can get the Gnarled Oak Cardigan at 25% off!
(If you check out her posts from earlier this week, you might spot a photo of me in my Wildflower Cardigan!)

And speaking of coupons, the fall coupon code for the MediaPeruana pattern store can now be found over on my Facebook page, and among my fascinating tweets, so don't forget to follow mediaperuana on Twitter!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tuesdays with Dory: fall baking edition

Inspecting the storage bench box. Helpful Dory is helpful!

Dear Dory,

There are so many delicious fall recipes out there--can you recommend one?

Hungry in Hartford

Dear Hungry,

I personally think fish is appropriate for all meals, but Kristen tells me that in the fall, hoomins like to eat pumpkin things. As far as baked goods go, I thought these pumpkin donuts from the Taste and Tell blog that Kristen made this weekend looked pretty good.

These donuts are baked, not fried, so they're healthier, but you do need a donut pan, which runs about $10 on Amazon.



2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Maple-Cinnamon Glaze

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon maple extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons milk


Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare a doughnut pan by spraying with non-stick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger. Set aside.
In another bowl, cream together the brown sugar, butter and pumpkin. Add in the eggs, mix well, then mix in the milk and vanilla. Stir in the reserved dry ingredients.
Place the mix in a large zip-top bag. Cut off the corner and pipe into the doughnut pan.
Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven, let rest for 5 minutes, then remove from pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
Meanwhile, make the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, maple extract, cinnamon and milk.
When the doughnuts are cool, dip them in the glaze. Return to the wire rack to allow the glaze to set.

The hardest part of this project is getting the batter into the plastic bag--messy.

As far as modifications, Kristen didn't have maple extract, so she stirred a little maple syrup into the glaze. It tasted good, but its addition meant the glaze didn't set up correctly. Still, who has maple extract??

The recipe claims to make 12 donuts, Kristen only got 10, which was really more than enough.
She made half as much glaze, and drizzled it over the donuts, rather than dunking them:


Messy, but a bit healthier.

She also suggests baking the donuts for a few extra minutes, as they were done at 10 minutes, but slightly too soft.

Still, quite tasty:


Monday, October 1, 2012

Bound off: Rustling Leaves Beret

It's October!!

My favorite month is finally here.

There's nothing not to like about October.

First, there's my birthday. I'm getting a little old to be celebrating, perhaps, but while I'm not a fan of ageing, I do like attention, special meals and presents.

We also celebrate our first anniversary later this month--CP may back our car into stationary objects occasionally, but he's otherwise fairly awesome, and we've had an amazing first year together.

In less than 3 weeks I'll be at the New York Sheep and Wool Festival, aka Rhinebeck. I'm taking a spinning class with Abby Franquemont, and then I'll be shopping shopping shopping.

(Hope to see you there!)

And then, Halloween! Candy! It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! Pumpkin carving! Ghost tours! Trick-or-Treaters!

Possibly The Nightmare Before Christmas--I can never figure out when the appropriate time to watch that is.

(I would also note that this time next year, it will be totally appropriate for me to watch Boo to You Too, Winnie the Pooh!)

Also, it's now acceptable to eat pumpkin EVERYTHING! Muffins, cookies, whoopie pies, scones, soup, lattes, ale.
(Well, maybe just half an ale for me.)
CP even found pumpkin pie Pop-Tarts!

(If there are pumpkin pie Toaster Strudel, someone please tell me!)

And of course, the weather is turning cool and crisp. You can start pulling out your wool socks and cowls and jaunty berets.

Like this one:


Pattern: Rustling Leaves Beret, by Alana Dakos, in Coastal Knits
Yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh Merino light, left over from mom's Featherweight Cardigan
Needles: size 2 and 3 16" circular
Mods: no icord bloopy thing on top
Ravelry link

I think this is a great fall hat pattern. You can easily complete it with leftover sock yarn, and it knits up quickly--this took just about 4 days.


This isn't a hat to keep you warm in a blizzard, but makes a sweet little fall accessory.

Of course, you need to own a copy of Coastal Knits to get this pattern, but in my opinion, it's well worth the $22, with 2 patterns I've knit already, and at least 3 more I plan to knit.

This particular pattern has both written and charted instructions, so even the anti-chart among us can have a beautiful hat in no time.


Alana included her signature icord  . . . bloopy thing . . . at the top of the hat, and I implemented one of my signature moves by leaving it out.

Block it over a small dinner plate and voila!

And, perhaps most, most importantly . . .


It's true.

For the first time in FIFTEEN YEARS, the Baltimore Orioles will be appearing in the postseason. They clinched a playoff berth yesterday, though with 3 games left in the season, it's not clear at this point whether they'll be a Wild Card team or, hope against hope, if they'll win the division.

Best. October. Ever.

So, in honor of my favorite month and my favorite team, sometime over the next few days I'll be releasing a special coupon code for my pattern store. But, you'll need to follow me on Twitter or Facebook to get it!

So, Tweeps--eww, I really just can't stand that. Ugh.

Let's try again. So, Twitter users, you can follow me here, and Facebook fans, you can "like" MediaPeruana designs over here. Or both.

Keep an eye out!