Tuesday, May 03, 2005

A little of something for everyone except you writers

This post wanders all over 3 of my obsessions (writing has fallen by the wayside this week unless blogging counts) so I'm going to try and organize it so you can skip to the part you are interested in:

Sock Knitting Help Needed!
I need some help from experienced (or just opinionated) sock knitters. Here is a photo of how far I've knit my first sock:

My debut as a sock model.
I have no problem with the yarn or the heel flap (though I would make it a size smaller having somehow forgotten that I have scrawny calves that aren't good at holding socks up). But the heel turn is another thing entirely. It seems clumsy and, well, just plain wrong. Take a look:

It is not easy to take a photo of the bottom of your own foot.
I'm using Sally Melville's pattern from The Knitting Experience: The Purl Stitch. I followed the pattern to a T and even modeled my short rows on the instructions that were in the Winter issue of Interweave Knits magazine. But this heel-turn looks way too lumpy and uncomfortable to me, and I don't think it is just the stripy yarn. I'm trying to decide whether to take out the heel portion and try a different pattern.

Unfortunately I can't make it to tonight's meeting of the Ann Arbor Knit-In group; I'm sure the knitters there could solve the problem in about 10 minutes. I doubt I have the will-power to set the sock aside until I can next make it to one of their meetings. So please knitters, help out a new sockista and let me know if I should continue or unravel, and if you think the latter, any advice on a better heel-turn pattern?

Blood Strengthening Menu
Thank you for all the recipe ideas for iron absorption; it looks like beans are the way to go. Yesterday Fiona and I went to Whole Paycheck (our house term for Whole Foods Market) and did a big re-stock of our legumes. Later this week, I'll be making Micha's Black Bean Ful recipe, some navy bean or split pea soup and some dal (if you see a cloud of methane around Summit St., well, you know where it is coming from...)

I also figured out a solution to my beef-issues: the steak I made last week was really good, but it'll last me for another six months before I want to eat another one. I would never turn down a portion of John and Ami's fabulous beef tenderloin, but that isn't an everyday occurrence. But one way that I do like to eat beef and don't get sick of is in a good roast beef sandwich and Whole Paycheck had some beautiful, antibiotic-free roast beef in their deli case. I'm trying to console myself with the reasoning that paying $13.99 a pound (agggg!) is cheaper than buying expensive high absorption iron supplements and hell of a lot tastier. (Vegetarians, you may want to avert your eyes or quickly hit the "page down" button.)

A plate of beefy-goodness from Whole Paycheck.

Yesterday I made a terrific sandwich with the above pictured beautiful beef, whole grain mustard, mayo and radish sprouts on Zingerman's rye bread. Good enough for a repeat sandwich today.

I'm also tickled to report that 4 of my friends tried my Faux-BBQ-Pork recipe this past week: Lynne, Sarah, MJ and John all made some variation of it. I know the phenomenon of "Knit-alongs" in which everyone knits the same thing and reports back on their progress, alterations and impressions. I wonder if there is such a thing as a "Cook-along"?

Note: if you aren't satiated by all this food talk, you will want to check out the next section too which starts off about books, but quickly devolves into food-talk...

Reading Reading Lolita
Reading Lolita in Tehran is not a speedy read, but I do appreciate interpretations of familiar western novels in the cultural context of Tehran. I used to teach Nabokov's Lolita (this is the edition I recommend if you haven't read it) when I was a TA drudge at Northwestern and a big chunk of my first Master's Thesis (at UC Davis) was on Jane Austen, so these are books I am quite familiar with and the author has pointed out things that I never noticed. I think that Dr. Nafisi is probably a fabulous teacher in person, but writing about teaching is hard to keep quite so interesting. One thing in particular about the way she writes is bugging me: the author (the professor, leader of the reading group) keeps referring to the women in her class as "her girls." I know this is supposed to emphasize her maternal feelings towards them, but honestly, most of them are in their 30s, some have children, and one has been married 3 times. The book is full of feminist interpretations and the author is way too smart not to be aware of the language she is using, so I have to believe that using "girls" is intentional. Every time it comes up (which is often) it makes me gnash my teeth and distracts me from whatever the real point of the chapter is. I think the weakness of the book is the characterizations of the book group members: too often they are distilled to one characteristic (Mahshid is pious, Azin is sensual) and this linguistic urge to infantilize them further renders them as cardboard cut-outs rather than real women.

Tomorrow night we are meeting at Halla's house to feast and discuss the book, so I'll bounce my gripes off the group members and see if I should just chill out (feel free to weigh in and tell me what you think). As usual, it looks like we will be having a fabulous meal. This is how the menu is shaping up:

Halla: Chicken with apricots, rice and almonds
Marilyn: Soup
Sarah: Cucumber Salad (w/ yogurt or tomato)
Meg: Borani Esfanaaj (Spinach dish)
Jen: White Wine
Kate: Cream Puffs

And there are still a few other members who haven't decided what to make yet.

I'm making Cream Puffs (and not some more traditional Persian desert) because they are mentioned so often in the book--every time these women meet they drink tea and eat cream puffs. I haven't made cream puffs since I was a teenager so it'll be fun to make an outrageously unhealthy desert. I bought organic heavy cream and strawberries at Whole Paycheck yesterday and I have some good Ghirardelli chocolate in the cupboard with which to make a chocolate sauce.

Tune in Thursday for a photo gallery of our gluttony.


Kimberly said...

The heel does look a little awkward. Unfortunately I am not familar with the pattern you are using. Can you post or send me an email with that portion of the pattern in it?

Other than that the sock looks great! :)


Anonymous said...

I read Reading Lolita last fall; I wish I could remember something she said about the novel (it was, I think, in reference to Austen) that struck me as particularly insightful. Anyone? Oh well, maybe I'll check it out of the library again!

Kate said...

Hey Kim--
here are the instructions for the heel turn as written in the pattern:
The turning of the heel:
Short row 1 (RS): Sl 1 p-wise, k 20, work left-slanting decrease—9 sts now on left-hand needle. Turn

Short row 2: Sl 1 p-wise, p10, work left-slanting decrease—9 sts now on left hand needle. Turn.

Short row 3: Sl 1 p-wise, k 10, SSK, turn.

Short row 4: Sl 1 p-wise, p 10, p2tog. Turn.

At the end of every short row, you will work 2 sts together—one from the center group of sts and one from the sts on the sides.

Repeat short rows 3 and 4 until only 12 sts remain, ending with WS row.

I'm begining to think that maybe where I went wrong was by working the 2 sts together only from the center group, which would make the location of the turn on the short row the same place (and thus create the lumpy look). Does this sound possible to you?

Thanks for your help!

Kate said...

Ok--I ripped out that heel turn and re-did it, this time not screwing up the short rows. It looks MUCH better and it was actually kind of theraputic to rip out some rows.