I Have A Substance Abuse Problem

The substance is the chocolatey goodness that is Nutella™. For a person who has diabetes, Nutella™ is like a flame to a moth. If a jar of Nutella™ is in my house, given half or even a gazillionth of a chance, I will eat it, a large spoonful at a time, and that is A Very Bad Thing for a diabetic person to do. 

My diabetes meant that I had to eliminate it from my house entirely and forever. I was sad. :( 

Despair-Man

But then the internet came to my rescue! I found that there was a sugar free version of the chocolatey hazelnut spread online ... but upon reading the ingredients, I couldn't do it. There is too much crap in it. To be honest, there is probably too much chemical crap in regular Nutella™ too. I fumed for awhile, but then I thought, maybe ... maybe I can make my own. Hmmmmm.

So, just for fun, I searched for recipes. Bam! There are lots!! Woohooo! 

Happyladyface

And all of them had powdered sugar and chocolate chips! Booo! :(((

Onikero

But by then, I really wanted my Nutella™. I looked in AllRecipes.com (apparently my  go-to recipe place online), and found this.  It was a recipe both time consuming (roast your own hazelnuts and take the wrappers off??? melt chocolate in a double boiler in this heat???) and filled with sugar. I laughed and ordered already roasted unsalted husk-fee hazelnuts from here and also dark chocolate sugar free chocolate chips from here too. Take that,  sugar and already-wrapped hazelnuts! 

Everything was ready. I put a cup of hazelnuts in the food processor and ground them till they were paste. I had to stop and spatula them into place a lot, but my fire to get sugar free Nutella™ helped. I added the other ingredients (I used regular granulated Splenda™, but you can use more natural sweetners too -- Swerve™ and Lakanto™ both have powdered sugar varieties, and there is liquid stevia too), and while they were grinding in the background, I put 12 ounces of the sugar free dark chocolate chips in the microwave on a medium power setting for 4 minutes til they were all melted (Ha! No double boiler mess!) and added them to the food processor and let it all blend together. The whole process took maybe 20 minutes.

I tasted it. It was heavenly! Chocolate goodness that I had known before ... well, it wasn't exactly the same as Nutella™ ... it was better! They used milk chocolate, mine used dark chocolate; they used sugar, mine didn't. And my Nutella™ used way less chemical crap too. And I added sea salt that was unground to add a salted chocolate taste, but mostly because I was too lazy to grind it up.

I am in chocolatey goodness heaven. Pardon me while I get my spoon. 

IMG_1375 Not-ellaNutrition


Nutrition info of my recipe according to MyFitnessPal.com


Fleas

I thought I would be done my Tor Grass shawl by now, but I am not.

Tor Grass

One reason is I fought with a skein of brown 2-ply wool from Christopher Sheep Farm to knit these mittens:

Brown mittens

The yarn seemed really thick, and I had to struggle to knit every stitch. I thought it was because I needed better needles with more of a point, so I went to Heavenly Yarns up in Belfast with a friend one day and stocked up on a couple sets. (Heavenly Yarns is a fabulous shop; you should go!) 

I got the needles home, and they helped, but the yarn still fought me. Anyway, I finished them and put them in a sink full of hot water to block them. 

Wow. I found out why the yarn fought me. Lots -- I mean, LOTS -- of brown, greasy stuff oozed out of the yarn. It wasn't dyed, because this particular yarn is not a dyed color, it is a natural color, it was just really dirty. It felt kind of sticky when I was knitting with it, actually, but I thought it was just the lanolin. I had to wash it three times to get the water to run clear! I knew I had had the yarn for quite a while. The natural colors of that wool have more lanolin in them, the dark brown especially, and I think it had hardened up with age. The resulting mittens are soft and lovely and warm though! I like them very much. But I spent way more time knitting them than I thought I would: two weeks instead of three or four days. 

The other reason is fleas. Pogo has fleas. Well, she almost always has fleas, but they are usually kept in control with FrontLine or something, and I brush her several times a day because she loves it, even though she is not a long haired cat. 

Animal-2027432__340

 This year, for whatever reason, the fleas suddenly and vehemently overtook the earth, notably Pogo and my house. Medication, both applied to the cat and sprayed on surfaces, has had some effect, but it's like the Boss Flea is laughing in the face of modern medicine, saying, "Bring it on, I will eat it up!" So, I have been cleaning. We washed every mat, blanket and pillow that Pogo laid on (and she has a lot around the house; she is pretty pampered). Mostly I have been vacuuming and washing the floors daily, through the whole downstairs.  Daily. And it is not easy for me, but it is getting easier with repetition, lol. It takes time though, lots of it, so my shawl suffers. However, better that my shawl suffers than poor Pogo.

Luckily, after a week of daily vacuuming and washing the floors, they are safe for Pogo to walk on, but I still have to keep it up, because this year the fleas are winning. So it continues. 

I have about 80% of Tor Grass complete. There are only about 21 more rows to go and then bind off. Of course, there are over 500 stitches per row, so I can only do about three or four rows a day, but it is slowly getting done. I was hoping to get it done in time for the Beekeeper Cardigan KAL that I will start July 2 or so ...  if I am not done by then, Tor Grass will have to wait for me to get the Bees done! It should only be 5 or 6 days though. That is what they say. I live in hope. 


Odds & Ends, and Knitting Words and Their Lack of Digitality

After finishing my sheep socks, I had a lot of leftover yarn sitting in the bag looking balefully at me. Now, although I have a bajillion favorites in my "Colorwork" bundle on Ravelry, none of them sang to me. I just wanted something simple, something easily, mindlessly knit while watching NCIS shows in the evening. I am therefore knitting a children's hat with a couple stripes in it for interest. 

Hat

It is going slow.

The pattern (yes, although this hat is drop-dead simple, I used a pattern; that is how pathetic I have become) is DROPS 12-37

My main project at the moment is the Aran Coat from Debbie Bliss in purple. Actually, this color deserves an exclamation point and all caps, it is a show stopper -- it is an Aran Coat in PURPLE!!

Aran coat

Hehehe. Gotta love it. Also I love my awesome new bookmark that Lynne painted for me. It is of hollyhocks in pinks and purples that seem to go with the Aran Coat! 

This pattern is the Aran coat from Debbie Bliss Classic Knits for Kids, which was first published in 1994, and is now out of print. (Your library may help you to find a copy, and there are used booksellers too.)

AranCoatColor
AranCoatColor

That was before the Internet really got going, so the book is really not digital in any way. I was kind of stunned at how dependent I had become on my computer when I knit. Usually I download the pattern, read it on some screen or another, keep notes in a sticky note on the screen, keep track of where I am with a line or a ruler that I can just move into place on the screen. But this pattern? Nope. 

It. Is. A. Book. 

Yikes. 

My first inclination was to put all the panels for the Aran in pictures on my iPhone, put them all into a .pdf document, and bam! But I didn't. I decided to do it the old-fashioned way.

Pattern

Also, there are  NO CHARTS. Ugh. Everything is written out. With words! Knitting words! 

I had forgotten how much concentration this way of knitting took. But the Aran Coat is going well and I am enjoying it, once I remembered all the skills that I hadn't used in like, ten years. It's coming out very cute. 

Because of the concentration required and the space it takes up on the table, I have also started knitting a shawl to use up some worsted weight that I had lying around. I am knitting the Ka'ana shawlette by Jennifer Weissman, which promises to be a lovely thing to snuggle into and it will be knit quickly too, since it is on size 8 needles. I am using white, oatmeal and pink and maybe dark gray, I don't know yet. But it'll be pretty.

Kaana

And it is really easy to knit!!!!!!!

 

 


Sylvi Update

It's been a week and I really haven't worked as much on Sylvi as I thought I would have. I have worked on some other, more pressing things, but always Sylvi was waiting patiently for me to come back to her! I am now up to the underarm on the back. The rest should go pretty quickly now that I can focus on Sylvi and only Sylvi!

FullSizeRender (34)

The little green and orange markers around the bobbles are marking the stitches where I will pick up stitches and knit the flower petals.

FullSizeRender (35) 

I haven't done three dimensional knitting like this before (or if I have, it was so long before my stroke that I have forgotten it entirely), so I am a bit nervous about doing it. I will try my hardest, and then I will either do it, or not. If I can do it, yay! If I can't do it, I will cry bitterly for a while and then meekly ask for some help. I really don't want to do that though, and I will try everything that I can think of to figure out a way to do it. The problem will be not with the knitting -- the petals are pretty easy to knit -- it will be holding the back steady with one hand (it is a large piece of knitting!) as I try to knit them with the same hand. Easy for most people, hard for me. I love a challenge! Stay tuned! 


Reading

I was gonna write a book review today about a non-knitting book that I started two or three weeks ago, but it kinda got stalled, and I'm just not reading at all. The book is written by a good writer, one I have read two other books by and loved, they're full of very intricate plots, very detailed characters, and lots of little intricacies, but I just don't like reading this one, it seems. They are also very long, and a little slow to start, and I have only read about 7% of the book so far (in three weeks). I hesitate to tell you what book it is, because the author is so good, and it is all my own fault that I am not reading.

This is like knitting something and getting stuck in the middle of knitting it. When I get stuck in the middle of something now, whether it's a thing I'm knitting or a book I'm reading, I just stop. I can't seem to go forward until I either make the decision to just abandon it or go forward with it.  Luckily, with my knitting, I only knit what I want to now, so that's ok. With my reading, well, I have only outright abandoned two books in the last three years, and one of them I still want to try and read. 

I should declare a Reading Day and just read! I need to get over it. I'm whining, and I really hate that.

Arrgh!