This Knitting Business Isn't All Fun and Games Ya Know

Yesterday I faced facts and realized that the sweater I started during the Mercury Retrograde* of last February is, officially, a #knitfail.

I finished the body this past week and when I tried it on—no matter how hard I try to spin the truth—it just doesn't flatter me in any way. And by that I mean it flattens and smashes the tatas in a weird and ugly manner, the shoulders are too tight, and the yarn I used for the neck is scratchy. I managed to knit something that completely doesn't work for my body type, knitting instead for the body type I wish I had: less booby, slimmer torso, and smaller shoulders.

Well my shoulders I actually like. I have broad, strong shoulders and they still look nice, so really I should be making sexy off-the-shoulder knits instead of tight tubes with high necks and no shaping. Or fitted v-necks that leave plenty of room for the ladies before nipping in at the waist. Or how about even just something less insanely striped??

Bathroom peek! It's the only mirror I can shoot selfies in. That green stripe was a really bad idea.

Bathroom peek! It's the only mirror I can shoot selfies in. That green stripe was a really bad idea.

This happens all the time in knitting. At least for me it does. I get all hot and enamored over some pattern only to realize that in the end, it isn't really a good match for me. I've gotten better with this than when I first started knitting in earnest ten years ago (how many ponchos does a person need?), but am still prone to making things I won't ever wear.

So where do I go from here? Do I wad it up into a ball and stuff it in a drawer? Do I unravel it and reuse the yarn? Do I see if my friend Maria likes it and then finish it for her? She's the only person I know who has the figure for it.

How much time do I spend feeling bad about it?

Here's where all the yoga has helped: I won't spend any time feeling bad about it.

I'll just acknowledge that it was damn fun to knit while it lasted; I learned some new tricks; it helped ease the tension during a really stressy time; and so what if it didn't turn out as expected? Knitting, like yoga or cooking, is all about the process and if you happen to bind Marichyasana D or end up with some delightful cookies to eat, more the better but it's certainly not everything.

Of course, I still wish it had worked out, and maybe it still will but onwards! brave knitting yogi. Tomorrow's another chance to practice and another project to try. Besides, there is all that lovely new yarn that I just got from Scotland sitting there waiting to be knit into a tam . . . ever hopeful!


* Generally a bad idea to start something new during a Mercury Retrograde, especially a complicated something new.

Please Don't Poop on the Snowdrops*

Or hail, sleet, or snow on them either.

This remorseless winter persists with a perfectly ghastly day out there. Hovering right above the freezing mark, projectiles of every wintery sort are pelting from the skies.

But the snowdrops are up and so are the croci. All of last fall's garlic is also above ground although it certainly isn't happy.

But but! I just received shipping notification on my spring seed order! So there is that to cling to.

As you can see it's rather heavy on the greens with three kinds of kale, because . . . kale chips! We fell in love with $8 a bag kale chips a few years ago and were compelled to come up with our own recipe. Which we did and they are universally adored and not just by us.

So there is that, too, to get you through this Monday. I just might type up that recipe before the kale is even in the ground.

*Request made to the resident canine who seems to not care that he's squatting directly over the dainty heads of these heralds of warmer things to come . . .

  • Nero di Toscana Kale (Dinosaur)
  • SORREL GREEN (48 days)

Getting Creative in the Kitchen to Save the Husband's Innards

So why the grain-free crust and sugarless filling for the Squash Pie? Besides the obvious trendy health reasons, I was moved to figure out how to make low-carb desserts because of a nasty little thing called H-pylori. 

Long tedious story made short: Rick got diagnosed with an H-pylori infection a few months ago and research told us that while nuking it with antibiotics was in order, so was starving the little beasts. As you might suspect, what they like most are starchy carbs. He found something called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet that seems to be the answer for people suffering from a whole host of gastric disorders, everything from Crone's Disease to celiac. It also seems to really help in the eradication of H-pylori overgrowth. Not too long ago you could get rid of an infection like he had with diet and supplements alone, but apparently it's a fiendishly clever bacteria that has learned to make a special impervious coating that makes it antibiotic-resistant. You have trick it out of hiding by reducing your stomach acid and then deprive it of food while giving it the one-two punch of strong antibiotics.

Mostly what's out on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet are grains and some of the more starchy vegetables like potatoes. At first this felt draconian but if Rick was to have success in killing off his colonizers then drastic was what we'd do. 

Since I'm the main food procurer and preparer in our house it was up to me to figure out what was left to eat. It turns out there was plenty. 

Ever since I read The Yoga of Eating by Charles Eisenstein (find the post here) I've been a food agnostic. I can't claim that many books changed my life, but this one did. His premise is that we need to listen to our bodies about what we need to eat rather than listening to the many shouting voices hailing the next miracle food fad. Rick and I have tried most of the more popular diet trends (read about it here and here) and always ended up either run-down or bored. So now I don't subscribe to any particular food rules except these three: no Big Ag-produced vegetables; no factory-tortured animals or animal products; and no sugar (this last one gets fudged a bit from time to time, but mostly I avoid it.)

Oh and yes, I eat gluten-free for the simple reason that I felt a profound change in my digestion after I got rid of it. That one feels medical to me, like having a nut allergy. I may not blow up and need to be taken to the ER, but if I eat it I do end up on the couch clutching my intestines and moaning a lot.

Ditching the grains and sugar was actually pretty easy because we love to eat mountains of vegetables already and now we just add a little chicken or fish along with them. That, and the addition of ghee and other healthy fats like avocados and we don't miss all the rice. 

Desserts however, were another thing entirely. I wasn't about to give those up.

There is always fruit but it's winter! Not much available that hasn't been picked unripe and shipped up here to New England. Tasteless and expensive berries? No thanks. Pie is what you want when it's 20 degrees, sweetened winter squash pie. 

For inspiration I turned to the paleo people. Essentially we're eating paleo but since we don't subscribe to any set diet, I don't identify. They do know how to make grain-free, sugar-free desserts however! The raw people do too. Nuts and ghee were the answer for crusts, the fillings were easy since we eat eggs. Dried fruit for sweeteners. Coconut oil whipped into a topping (this is AMAZING, find how to do it here). I pulled from both diets and started experimenting. And I'm still tweaking. The recipe for squash pie is rustic, which suits the whole winter squash thing but not so the delicate fruits of spring and summer. So I'm working on refining the crust, plus thinking up things like parfaits and other lighter desserts. 

I'll post here what works and what fails and if you try and then tweak something let me know! I'm all about open-source recipe building. If you are eating vegan, it'll be easy to swap in coconut oil and egg-replacers. Obviously everything will already be gluten-free. And out of respect for all my vegetarian yogi readers, I won't be posting meat recipes. Horrors!

I don't claim to be a super cook, but out of necessity I've developed a free-form style in the kitchen that sometimes produces interesting things. I cook like I knit with the recipes being more suggestions than rules. Improvising is where the creative happens.

We also pickle a lot, so stay tuned for kraut and kimchee and cucumbers swimming in brine. And we make our own yogurt. And grain-free cereal. So lots to come.

But what about Rick's H-pylori? Well he just got re-tested and he came back clear! Death to the wee beasts!