Saturday, January 19, 2008

Sparkly Slippers!

As a Charter Member of Stitch DC's yarn-of-the-month club (the membership was an X-mas gift from my fiance), I received my first yarn at the beginning of this month. The yarn is Tilli Tomas, and I got one ball of Mogul and one ball of Aspen, both in a gorgeous dark navy blue. The Mogul is beaded with clear beads, making it look like a starry knitted night sky. I loved them, but I wasn't sure what I should do with them. Stitch DC included a great pattern for ruffled fingerless gloves, but the problem is, I have a bright red coat with white hat, scarf and gloves that I wear everywhere. Blue gloves would be a little bit too patriotic-looking, especially in DC.
So I scoured the internets for a pattern that would fit the amount of yarn I had. Socks? Hmm, the beads would make it tough to walk around, as they'd dig into my feet, and I didn't have enough Aspen to knit the "feet" of both socks without beads. But then I came across this pattern for ballet slippers from, and I fell in love.

I tweaked the pattern a little bit to make mary jane slippers, rather than wrap-up ballets. the toe and bottom of the slipper are knit in Aspen, and I switched to Mogul for the back, strap, and trim. The result are lovely, sparkly slippers that will keep my feet warm despite my hard-to-heat hardwood floors.

The yarn itself is great to knit. I used size 5 dpns for a tight gauge, and I was struck by how evenly the Aspen knits up. Very perfect little rows. The Mogul is a little tougher to get used to. I've never knit with beads before, though I have a few patterns. It just seems like too much work to thread hundreds of beads onto my yarn before I even get to cast on. However, beading one's own yarn does have the advantage of allowing you to place the beads where you want them (i.e. on the outside of the work, in a pattern). I like the random "scattered star" effect of the Aspen on these slippers, but it wouldn't work if you wanted a more orderly beaded look. Also I had to push some beads through the work in order to make them show up on the outside.

And a final note for anyone who wants to try these out--those with larger feet should pay attention to their gauge. These slippers are less stretchy using this yarn than the yarn called for in the original pattern. My size 6 feet just fit. Perfect for me, but not so much for the more well endowed in the shoe department. It was also tough to get the strap where I wanted and still fit my feet into the slipper. So pin the strap first, and try them on to make sure it's a good fit.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Bistro d'Oc gets a thumbs up from me.

I feel like the ubiquitous "bistro" is reaching a critical mass in downtown DC, which honestly is good. I like bistro food because of the smaller portions and less formal atmosphere. Eating at a bistro is less of an "event" and more about dropping in and having a quick bite with a glass of wine. This is something that I think has really not been perfected in the US, especially with the failing dollar. Going out around here has to be this huge production, with mammoth portions and more showing off in the kitchen (which has its place, but not when you just want a smoked salmon plate and a glass of champagne at 4 p.m.!).

Anyway, I tried Bistro d'Oc with my co-workers last night, and I really enjoyed it. It's restaurant week in DC, so there's a bit of give and take with the quality of service and cooking vs. getting a good deal on your meal. We all ended up ordering a'la carte, partially from the RW menu, and from the regular menu. The best part of the meal was the RW butternut squash soup with coconut foam. This was my first experience with "foam," though I hear Jose Andres is doing some nice things with it over at Cafe Atlantico. I liked it quite a bit more than my standard scoop of sour cream that usually goes into my squash soup. The duck confit (which I always mispronounce!) was more pedestrian, but duck confit is always delicious. This one has very tender mushrooms, and the nicest part, crisp round fried potatoes, perfectly seasoned. Dessert (RW opera cake) was really not great though it was topped with a nice ganache.

So I give it a thumbs up for a casual night of food, and I'll definitely be back for more duck (though I might try the breast with black currents next time).

Knitting pics will be up soon, as soon as I can find my tapestry needle for end-weaving. The dratted thing has mysteriously disappeared, and there is a disturbing lack of craft stores around here.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

First post... yay.

I'm starting this up ostensibly because I just joined the Stitch DC "yarn of the month" club, and want a place to show off my projects. But I figured this would be a good idea, because I've been completely ADD about my projects, and this will be a good way to keep track of all the gratuitous stuff I'm up to. So expect posts about knitting and other craft projects, cooking and cocktail making, and possibly video games movies and books.

For example, tonight is a special night because... it's the PBS Masterpiece Theater Jane Austen fest! MT will be adapting all of Jane Austen's novels starting with Persuasion, and as a bonus showing the Colin Firth version of Pride and Prejudice, and some sort of J.A. biopic. I'm actually less excited about that one, as it seems like it might be a little too "chick flicky," an odd criticism of someone who loves Jane Austen. Yet I refuse to see that feature film they made of her, much to the relief of my poor fiancé. Unfortunately for him, he will be forced to watch all of the novel adaptations. I look forward to his suffering.

Though this is my first blog post and there is no reason for anyone to read it, here's a question to throw out to the huddled masses yearning to be free: who else likes Jane Austen? Who hates her? And how about George Eliot? After re-reading Pride and Prejudice (because I got the annotated version for X-mas) I decided to take a look at Middlemarch. I like it a lot so far, as it's a very smart novel. George seems to like her wise bon mots a bit more than Jane does, though, and she takes fewer pains than Austen did to fit them into the plot. (Also, can you believe George had a crush on Herbert Spencer and got totally rejected by him? Weird. Survival of the fittest indeed.)