Anger Burger

A Little Diversion

Posted by on Jul 3, 2012 at 11:08 pm

Since I swore I would not discuss knitting here on Anger Burger, let’s discuss what I’ve been knitting lately.

I should defend myself, weakly, by saying that I’ve given the dog a massive dose of prescription sedative since she, like most dogs, hears a single firecracker and immediately thinks HOLY SHIT IT IS THE MOTHERFUCKING APOCALYPSE RUN FROM ROOM TO ROOM AND DROOL ALL OVER YOURSELF. But! Before you think that the sedative means that she is now blissfully unaware, you are wrong!  Because she is 100% committed to being an asshole, after a dose of sedative that should drop an animal twice her size, she remains panicked and slobbery, and emits a high keening noise not unlike a fluorescent bulb.

Anyway, I don’t have any food to write about.  I want you to know that I do not talk about the knitting for a pretty straightforward reason: it’s not easy to just drop into a knitting conversation, because there is such a drastic spectrum of skill levels.  And I really don’t know what I’m doing.  I wing it a lot, I make a lot of mistakes, and I do terrible math that results in things that I have to completely tear out.  I choose the wrong yarn.  I wash things wrong.  But I have some successes, and I will tell you about them.

First and most important piece of knitting advice: join the free knitting social/networking/data site Ravelry.  It is the single-most utilized knitting tool I use. People obsessively document their projects, which means that you can cross-reference literally almost anything and see, for example, what brand of yarn everyone else prefers to knit that project with (and then learn details about that yarn, such as what it commonly retails for, the yardage, etc.) and then click on individual projects.  I swear, I would not be as voracious a knitter as I am without Ravelry.  Before I start a project I see what everyone else seems to think about it; I’ve decided not to knit things due to overwhelming complaints of a bad pattern.

My friend Amani asked me about this photo:

She asked, did I knit that sweater? I did.  It is a popular free pattern called Aidez, and it is my favorite house sweater.  CAVEAT: it is my favorite house sweater because I sort of don’t care if I fuck it up. I chose the wrong yarn (Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Bulky, curse you!) and it pills like a mother. I swear I’m picking off mouse-sized wads of yarn fuzz from the underarms every single day.  I don’t understand how there can still be a sweater left, frankly. And the color, “Porcini”, looks alright in this photo, but in person is a very flat, very off shade of putty that really looks grim. I’d have named the color “Dead Oatmeal Barf”.

I made some changes to the pattern because why would I just do something normally. I don’t feel like listing them or anything.  See?  This is why I don’t talk about knitting.  But I will say that the sweater is looong and I shortened it by an inch and wish I’d shortened it by several more. And I knit it in the round instead of in pieces. The pattern also commits my biggest pet peeve: it instructs you to simply “reverse the stitches” for the opposite side, rather than writing them out.  C’mon!  It just means that I have to write them out in the pattern margins.  Is it really saving that much time for the pattern’s author to not do it herself?  Foop.

I knit this hat for a friend’s daughter, the a pattern this basic, but it’s just so goddamn cute.

I used Cascade 220 Superwash wool, which is a little expensive, but the word “superwash” means that it is machine washable.  Which, if you are knitting for a child, is basically rule #1. And it comes in a bazillion colors. And it feels good to knit.

The zig-zaggy fringe on mine won’t stand upright like the pattern shows it will, but I sort of like the disheveled berry look.

The most successful sweater of recent years has been the Beatnik:

In addition to being a free pattern, it is one of the most effortlessly best-fitting sweaters I’ve ever made.  If you feel the urge to tackle a cable-knit sweater of moderate challenge, this is it.  It’s really not that hard, I swear.  Also, I followed this knit-a-long tutorial for knitting it in the round, which is a little more work up front but makes for a much better sweater later. Another sweater that I expect I will make several of, in several colors, so that I can basically always be wearing it.

I’ve knit this scarf probably half a dozen times:

It’s the “Waves of Grain” scarf, yet another free pattern, and a tricky but worthwhile venture into lace knitting.  In fact, it was the first lace I knit, and I went on to love it and knit many other lace things. If you have been burned in the past by knitting clothing that doesn’t fit, I suggest trying to knit a complicated scarf like this one.  One size fits all.  And also: it doesn’t have to be knit on fine yarn and tiny needles, you can try it on a slightly larger yarn and corresponding needles first.  It’ll make a huge scarf, but at least it will help you get the hang of it. My example up there was also my first attempt at beading a knit piece, and that was a pain in the ass like you wouldn’t believe.  But: pretty!  Maybe don’t try it your first foray into lace knitting, you will hate God and man and all things living.

And that is that.  Right at this moment I have a project I just finished for Mike the Viking drying and waiting to have buttons sewn onto it, and when it is done I will show it to you.  I call it the Hobbit Vest, because the green tweed I used has given the whole thing a rather Tolkien-y air.  You should know that I knit an entire front panel of it that I then tore out and re-did after realizing that it was too big.

Which leads me to my last piece of advice: if you are not patient, do not bother with knitting.  You will make mistakes for which the only solution is to obliterate your work so far and then start again.  This often means losing hours, if not tens of hours, of work time.  You will never hear me say this again about anything, but with knitting, for me at least, it is not the finished product I am looking for.  It is the construction of it.  Please don’t make me paraphrase it into a lesson about destinations and journeys. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fucking frustrating. But there is a kind of zen place I go to of pleasant tactile textures and beautiful heathered colors.  There is order from chaos.  It is not at all unlike cooking, now that I think about it. Of course I can go buy a sweater or a pie, and it will be cheaper than the one I had to make myself.  But look at that thing! I have serious post-apocalypse tribal cred! You want socks after the department stores have all burned? I’m your girl. I am fucking useful.

40 Posted in Totally Unrelated

Cheesy Bread Will Cure What Ails Ye

Posted by on Jul 1, 2012 at 11:59 am

When the Viking and I were sick, we lost a few pounds between us.  It’s too hard to eat when you’re coughing up a heart valve every five seconds, and it’s pointless anyway if you can’t taste.  We drank literally gallons of peppermint and Breathe Easy, and told ourselves that we could always make up those calories later.  WHICH WE DID.

Step 1: Cheesy Bread.

So, my local grocery store sells these huge rolls that are actually just that white, spongy “French” bread loaf that you get here in the US, but shaped into roll form and topped with sesame seeds. These rolls are useless for anything except making cheesy bread, but they excel at it, so I forgive them.  Use any bread that you are comfortable with using, but if you’ve been sick and your part of the country has decided that instead of summer you are going to let spring come out for an encore, then get the cheapest, whitest, most chemically and scientifically refined bread you can find.

Any soft cheese will do – I had leftover fontina here, which is lovely and mild and melty, so something like monterey jack would be a good substitute.  Cheddar is of course lovely.  Don’t get too fancy; a little parmesan is fine, but use an unassertive one.

Anyway, the secret is to grate the cheese very fine, and to mix it into some butter to make a thick paste of it all.  When it toasts, it will melt and crisp a little in a homogenized, even, offensively tasty layer, allowing the cheese to ooze into and bond with the bread in a way that just setting the cheese on top cannot achieve.

Of course I did not get a final shot of it, despite making the bread several times over a few weeks, and despite having a camera in hand.  It’s just one of those foods that trips eat-blindness.

Cheesy Bread
there are variations on this theme that would be tasty, but try varying the herbs before messing with the cheese.  i like spicy cheesy bread with chili flakes in it. the recipe is for two – four people’s worth of bread (two sick people who aren’t hungry but who suddenly find the cheesy bread delicious, or four more reasonable sides for folks eating a main course and a salad), but can easily be doubled and quadrupled for make enough for a crowd.  just slice a large grocery store “French” loaf in half long ways, spread the paste on it, and broil each side whole.

2 Tbsp butter, softened but not runny
1/4 cup, heaped, of finely shredded cheese such as fontina, jack, or cheddar, or a blend
pinch of garlic powder
1 heaping Tbsp freshly chopped chives
salt to taste
a large roll, large enough to share, cut in half longways, or two or more thick slices of soft bread

  • In a small bowl, mix together the butter, cheese, garlic powder and chives. If you used unsalted butter, you may need to add a pinch of salt.  Mix this paste very well, taking care to essentially break down the cheese into an actual paste.
  • Spread a fairly thick layer on each piece of bread. Don’t skimp here.  This isn’t healthy at all, this is a pile of ill-advised calories that will, on the flip side, inspire you to maybe live for one more day.
  • In a toaster oven or in your big oven, place the bread close to the broiler and set to broil. I cannot emphasize enough how much you cannot take your eyes off it. Do not walk away.  It will scorch and catch on fire and burn your house down. When the bread is nice and browned around the edges and bubbling and alluring, take it out, turn off the broiler, and let the bread sit for a minute before using a large knife to slice it into finger-like batons, so that each piece you pick up has both crispy edge-bits and moist, greasy middle bits.
3 Posted in Make It So