Thursday, December 10, 2009

Knit PH at Prospect Perk, Dec. 8 '09

I made my all-day-slow-cooked yellow split pea & ham soup. That's how slow the economy has been — I made a soup all day (pictured above). But I also cleaned out the fridge and threw out a ton of old computer junk. This economic downturn might prove to be cleansing or deliciously disasterous for us all if it continues at this pace. Onward... I forgot to charge my camera again, so no photos from this night of knitting.

We had a full house. Considering that Prospect Perk is a cozy café, 11 people is a full house. I bought a brownie from Murat and set up the tables. Rachel, new to the group and knitting, needed some support. Nici was kind enough to let her practice stitch tension on her tubular scarf and acted as her spot coach. The topic of support groups and enabling came up. By now most of us have known someone who's been in an anonymous program — AA, NA, GA, OA, etc. I think there's even 12-step meeting for people addicted to meetings ("poetry readings").

But there's that one step... when someone from your past calls apologizing for some terrible wrong that you may not remember. One year around Thanksgiving I had a message on my answering machine: "Hello, Tony, this is N---, I've been reassessing my life recently and..." I called him back to find that he was in fact enrolled in AA and not trying to sell me HerbaLife. We spoke about old times, I wished him luck, and told him all was forgiven. I'd completely forgotten about that painting lab incident when someone stabbed my art bin.

The conversation lead to a popular topic: unemployment. As CEO's got their bonuses, Mick was laid off from Goldman. She wanted to know what the job climate was like. Slow and ever shifting, I reported. I'm actually going to print some cards to offer private knitting instruction. As advertising and publication sectors find new ground I think we can expect fewer job opportunities in these next few months. Yet we all agree that everything is changing, software, web technology, CSS, Flash scripts, XML, content management...etc. Mick pointed out that most of the financial world still operates on Quark instead of InDesign due to grandfathered and consolidated collateral materials. For older documents I keep Mona handy, she's my G3 system. "What are you all talking about? It sounds like another language." Patricia asked. "Publishing" Lisa answered. If it all sounds confusing to us, just imaging how it sounds to one who is outside of the field.

Mari, finished her neck warmer, very chunky and varied with orange and red. She asked if anyone had any felting experience. She has a bag project in mind. I felted something once and it almost took the Jaws of Life to pry that sock from my shrunken sweater. Mick and Nici had some great tips to offer, mainly think much bigger before you felt. For something to truly felt, it must be made form at least 50% wool. One has to accept felted matter is also inherently very itchy. Rachel asked if old wool is itchier than new wool — not necessarily. I don't mind wool and acrylic blends, but I find that they tend to become scratchy after much use and a few washings. I gather from Rachel and Mari's conversation that they are both in the legal field — unless passing the bar meant walking by Sharlene's on the way here.

Valerie asked how one might tell if yarn is wool or acrylic — a very good question for unlabeled yarns and sweaters. I showed her the "burn test".
1. Gather enough loose fiber to roll into a half inch strand.
2. Burn it with a lighter and observe.
If it burns quickly, melts into a hard bead, and smells like plastic, it's acrylic. Although also in the class of polymer, I find that rayon, soy and other cellulose-based fibers smell like burnt paper.

Meanwhile, Silke worked very quietly on a scarf that she's making for her daughter — variations of gray and cream in Noro Silk Garden. It's actually a lace pattern sampler. That's a great way to explore different patterns on one project. We all admired her delicate use of #3 needles. Meg finished her apple green baby hat. She actually just purchased $80 in yarn at Knit-A-Way before she arrived at Perk. Meg said I should charge for the MeetUps, everyones does. I feel weird about charging, but in these economic times I might consider it.

I didn't bring anything to work on, instead I coached Emma, Mick, and Valerie with the A4A granny square pattern. Emma and Silke say that my Spanish is better, thanks to "telenovelas" on the Univision Network. But my friend Dan reminds I once asked for "more ice with my pee" at Tacos Matamoros in Sunset Park.


Yarn Monkey's All-day-slow-cooked
Yellow Split Pea & Ham Soup
Yeild: 8 to 10 servings

4 strips of bacon
3/4 lb. smoked pork neck
16 oz. pkg. dry yellow split peas
3 carrots, chopped
1 large head of garlic
1 medium onion, coarsely sliced
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 cup diced white radish
1 tbs. sea salt
1/4 tsp. pepper corns
1/4 tsp. celery seed
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/2 tbs. dried orange peel, finely diced
1 tbs. molasses or brown sugar
3 qts. water
1 cup olive oil
1/2 tbs. liquid smoke (optional)
4 quart stock pot with cover
1 large colander

Inspect peas for foreign junk. Soak in water for 1 hour and drain.

Examine refrigerator and search for source of odd smell... hmmm not kimchi... check food containers and vegetable bin. Discard mushy discovery.
In a large stock pot fry bacon until crisp, remove and reserve 2 tbs. of fat. At medium heat, add smoked pork necks, whole garlic head, and sliced onion, brown in fat. Add enough water to cover 1 inch above pork necks. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until meat falls off the bone (4 - 5 hours). Stock should be reduced to half.

Pull out tech boxes from top of closet, ponder why I have 12 serial cables, 3 Jazz disks, a 50' ethernet cable, a 28.8 baud modem, a busted 3-line phone, and a Lucinda Williams CD. Scratch head and discard items.
Strain stock through colander and set meat aside to cool. Pick and clean meat from bones and shred into small pieces. Bring stock a to boil, add split peas, shredded meat, water, and remaining ingredients, except for olive oil, liquid smoke, and carrots. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 1 hour.

11 pound Macrodmedia Director 2.0 box set... Adobe no longer honors license. Laugh at paying full price for PageMill and discard items.
Pour half the contents into a blender and puree. Reduce heat to low and return blended soup to stock pot. Add carrots, molasses (or brown sugar), crumbled bacon, olive oil, and liquid smoke (optional). Cover and simmer on low for 1 more hour stirring occasionally. Add more water if needed. Allow to cool overnight at room temperature. This soup stock should be thick enough to hold a fork upright.

Gather old XML, Flash 5.0, CSS, Dreamweaver books into a box and take to recycling area downstairs. Use old O'Riley book to level couch.
To serve, heat milk in a sauce pan. For every 1/2 cup of milk, add 1 1/2 cups of soup. Salt and pepper to taste. Top with bacon or croutons if desired. This soup freezes well, so store it away in serving size containers.


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