Posts filed in: March 2007

Bready in No Time

comments: 64

Bready1 I have been a very bad blog reader of late, and am barely checking in on everyone. Naughty. If I would read more carefully, I would've noticed that Amy said the no-knead bread she and half the world baked took . . . 24 hours. I missed that part. I got all my stuff out and then saw that part. And then decided to do this one instead. So Aim, if you're jonesin', this is crazy easy and good and fast.

This is no-knead bread that seems especially appropriate for breakfast because it's sort of sweet. I like it hot out of the oven with a bit of butter and some honey, but it's also amazing as toast the next day. It was my college roommate's recipe so I don't know where it came from, but we often had it with chili for dinner, too — something about that hint of sweetness with the heat of the chili. While the weather is still a bit damp and cold as now, it's so nice. It gets mixed up with a spoon, rises for almost an hour, then dumped straight into its pan.

Bready2 Ann's No-Knead Bread

Combine and set aside:
2 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
1 T. salt
2 pkgs. dry yeast (1/4 oz. each)

Heat until warm:
1 c. water
1 c. milk
1/4 c. vegetable oil

Have on hand:
1 egg
2 to 2 1/2 c. flour

Mix egg with liquids, then stir all into flour mixture. Blend at lowest speed on mixer, then blend on medium for 3 minutes. By hand stir in another 2 to 2 1/2 c. flour. Cover, let rise 50 minutes until light and doubled in size. Stir down. Spoon into greased  6" x 9" loaf pan. (If your pan has short sides you might want to split it up and put it in two smaller pans; it rises quite a bit.) Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes. Brush top with butter.


Stick a bamboo skewer in the center to test. You want it to come out clean but this is kind of a soft bread, so don't overdo it.


Munch munch.

Have a good weekend, y'all. Oh, and thank you for the crock-pot cookbook recommendations! Going to the library to test some out. Your suggestions are really helpful — thank you!

French (and a Little English) Fashion Fantasyland

comments: 41


I don't have much to offer today, since I literally did nothing but frog and recrochet yesterday's sweater again (sleeves this time) and I think we all know how that went (lots of sighing, lots of  swearing in second person ["You little %$#@!"], lots of Thai-iced-coffee-consolation, lots of Audrey looking nervous). Naturally, it was all sort of for naught, since I wound up ripping everything again, and taking the simplest approach after all. The pretty lilac-y sweater on the cover of the spring/summer issue of Rowan magazine was motivating me to get there, I must say. All these pretty pinky-purples! It's not normally a color I prefer, but sometimes when you are designing for other people's publications, they choose the yarns and the colors and even the design details. Sometimes you get to choose, sometimes they choose. For the sweaters for Susan, I chose the yarns (Baby Cashmerino and Cashmerino Aran) and she tweaked one of the colors to go better with the other stuff in the book. I have a little baby dress coming out in Crochet Today! magazine this June, and for that the editor chose the basic design of the dress (based on one of my other originals) and the yarn and the colors. It was not the yarn I would've chosen, but the magazine has its reasons, and the dress came out really cute, so sometimes it's kind of fun to have those things determined. Breaks you out of your tendencies.


Anyway, I do love Rowan magazine so much. It's just so beautifully produced; it's not really a "magazine" at all, it's a 190-page perfect-bound book on beautiful paper with 60+ beautiful things inside. This is a little halter felted out of an old Aran sweater, trimmed out with crocheted edging. Isn't that a great idea? I think it's so pretty. I told Jane yesterday that her Paris trips always seem to happen right as I'm beginning my French Fashion Freakout every season; this spring I'm motivated entirely by the movie Passion of Mind with Demi Moore, whose character lives in a small French village and wears braids and overalls and tiny-print calico dresses and aprons and rubber boots and generally very milkmaid-ish clothes but in a cool, mud-on-her-cheek, almost-real way. I personally can't follow the plot of this movie, but I watch it entirely for the scenery and Demi's wardrobe. Jane suggested Brodeuses, so I'll go get that today and plan out some more of my imaginary shopping-spree. I went real-life shopping on Sunday for a few things and was absolutely horrified when I went into a dressing room (rarely do I do this) and saw what I had on. It was so pathetic, I shouldn't have left my own basement, let alone my house, in it. This is how I convince myself that I really do need more clothes: go out looking like I'm really jockeying hard for a spot on What Not to Wear, then catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror. I'm so often determined to turn this around, somehow. Like Demi and her split personality (in P of M) I am often appalled at how my real-life appearance doesn't match my imaginary appearance, and if I would put even four minutes of effort into this each day I am convinced that I really could turn things around. Unfortunately, this ambition only seems to last for about a week at the beginning of fall and the beginning of spring, when I have the little French Fashion (conniption) Fit and go out and buy four blouses, wear them four days in a row, flirt French-ily with anyone around, wash them and then lose it all in the depths of the laundry room (in favor of the tee-shirts, ubiquitous capri-sweatpants, and cranky un-cute attitude) forever. Like, until next season.

Straight lines off of circles: Oh, funny. Hilarious. I'm laughing.

comments: 27

Circleyoke5 Damn you, circular Yoke. You're cute, but you're making me crazy. And mad. But mostly crazy. Here you are after the left front got frogged and restarted three times. This one wasn't right either. I think you're working now, Left Front (not-photographed-fifth-incarnation-of-Left-Front), but that remains to be seen (today). I recognize you're all (Yoke, Front, Sleeve-in-theory) playing hard to get here, and that's just so adorable of you, really, just, that's funny. You're so funny. Ha ha.

But I will get you. I will.


Because Super Doggie is here to save the day. Thanks, Auds. You're the best.

Maisie Cardigan

comments: 54


I was at the bookstore yesterday looking at the crochet books and found two that look really good. (I was actually there looking for cookbooks for crock-pots [elegantly re-branded as "slow cookers," but I still cheerily call them crock-pots, conjuring a sort of lazy Winnie the Pooh–ish yummy-in-my tummy-ness] and became immediately overwhelmed — who knew there would be an entire shelf-and-a-half of them? Eeek. Any recommendations welcome. I had no idea which one to get.) If you are new to crocheting, or even if you just need a refresher course, The Crochet Answer Book seems very helpful. It's tiny, about four by six inches, and I'm going to keep it in my yarn basket indefinitely. It's very comprehensive and concise and a great general resource — just what I needed.

I also got Teach Yourself Visually: Knitting Design, not because I'm a knitter, but because one of the most challenging things I encounter when designing things in crochet is determining standard measurements for things like armhole lengths, ease, sleeve-cap shape, and stuff like that. has general info, but this book gives schematics and detailed measurements for all sorts of potential design options. It even tells you how many stitches and rows you need to decrease/increase based on gauge to achieve certain shapes. I don't know why this is the first time I've seen this book. I told you I was slow. Talk about unnecessarily reinventing the wheel, as I've been doing.


This is a little crocheted puff-sleeved baby cardi I designed last week, inspired by this poufy gathered blossom from the nursery day. The cardi's for an upcoming book by my lovely friend Susan, who owns the delectable yarn store Loop in London (remember when I went mental when she called me?). I can't wait for this book. Knowing Susan, it's going to be gorgeous and understated and bright. Books take a long time to happen and this one's a ways away, but I'll keep you posted.

Ready Position

comments: 32


A day in the studio, oh joy. I'll even vacuum it first. I've been cleaning a lot this weekend — did my Posie storage cabinets (hello Goodwill) as well as the dressers and my closet (double-hello Goodwill).


I gave several of the bookbags to my college friends, so now I only have five, but I really think I'm going to have more finished by the end of today and will put them in my web shop this week. I know I always say that. I've spent so much time on my 'ghans that I haven't made very much for anyone else lately. Yipes. Well, you gotta stick with your inspiration sometimes. Otherwise it feels like jogging on a treadmill — you know it's good for you, what you should be doing, but not that fun. . . .


But I've been going kind of slowly and steadily lately, trying to enjoy things rather than slam through them. When my intention is to go slow in my own life, deadlines and needs and demands of others necessarily speed it up, but I figure that just speeds it up to about regular speed instead of warp speed. Spring races past fast enough. Already the flowers on my trees are gone, replaced by small curly leaves. Others have yet to bloom, of course, but still, you know what I mean. It happens like a whoosh.

Everything on the kitchen sink.

comments: 55


Spring cleaning. The fridge hadn't been touched in so long. But look at it now. Sigh! I'm so proud.


I was on the phone twice while doing this and I can't remember who I was talking to who said that she is secretly hoping her freezer breaks so it will force her to clean it out and just start over. I could sympathize. There were things in there that had expired in August 2005. It takes an unnatural disaster or some serious motivation for me to make a fridge clean-out happen, apparently — why on earth would one do it unless forced??? This stuff didn't all get thrown out, don't worry! But it all had to come out before we could see what it was. We'd just kept pushing things backwards into the unit's chilly depths until nothing else fit. Doing a full-on clean-out is like embarking on an archaeological dig. As you go back, the layers of evidence get older and older, like a fossil record of our good culinary intentions, unrealized.


Spring-cleaning fever, I guess. It really wasn't that bad, actually. And we got some nice chicken soup out of it, once we discovered we actually had carrots, etc.

Kid and Kitty

comments: 26


Did you know that one can crochet with a giant Shrinky-Dink ring on one's finger? I have proof. A second small granny square made by my apprentice and her assistant.


Make that "assistants" plural. All manner of critters, animate and in-, are interested.


And not so much.


Despite our better efforts.


Which cracks us up.


comments: 79


This is Cornell Farms, my favorite nursery, in Portland's west hills. If you go on a cloudy day, everything sort of shimmers and glows with spring.


It's all just starting.


The season obviously comes early in the Northwest, but it's none too soon for me. Once I get over my whole "snow, please snow!" thing (in early January), I'm thoroughly and immediately ready for winter to be over. One of the first buds to bloom is the camellia, queen of the yard, in all her soapy-petaled perfection.


Cornell Farms is gorgeous. Tucked onto the side of a hill, it is an artfully organized, beautifully displayed collection of the best spring has to offer here. On Monday, we were two of only a small handful of people browsing, and I felt like I was in a private wonderland.


It feels like the way being in an art-supply store feels, your brain massaged by endless rows of color, phalanxes of pure pigment, and the potential inherent in all those tools. You could create a masterpiece, you know. It's all there.


But you have to remember to water. I can't seem to remember to water as I should, but I hear it's important. . . .


I like sedums. I think they are absolutely adorable. Whenever I see a table full of them, I can't resist patting them gently, to feel their plump, waxy faces. They make me smile every time.


And primroses are ubiquitous here (these are only 59 cents a piece), but no less bush-ily, crink-ily wonderful for that.


I'm a big fan of shamrocks. There's something so simple and naively optimistic about them. I have big clumps of big green ones all over my parkway, and they make these fabulous green domes. But these bi-colored sweeties are cute, too.


This is their little motorcar, which transports plants about the place. I think it's so cute. It reminds me of something I'd drive around Busytown (where I've always wanted to live).


Hellebores have an ethereal but poignant sort of quality, like angels.


Don't they?


Goodness me.






comments: 44


As you may know, it's Chefography week on Food TV. We've watched Emeril, Rachael Ray, Ina, Nigella, and even the second half of Sandra Lee this week. It is inevitable that whenever I watch a biography or an interview with someone, I can't help but like them more, which, I suppose, is how it should be. (Mark Ruffalo, one of my favorite actors was on Inside the Actor's Studio this week, too, though I don't know how I could've liked him more than I already did. If you've never seen You Can Count on Me, stop reading here and go directly to the video store.)

But I am eager to know the backstory, almost every time. There is context for everything, and I am usually keen to understand how and why and what people have done with their lives. Felicia, who is a great fellow-fan of Ina and Nigella, sent me a link to this article about Ina in the New York Times on Monday and I found it fascinating. Feleesh and I agreed that we both loved how Ina seemed to resist pressure to expand her offerings (a magazine, more TV shows, a line of food shops) in ways that would compromise her life. "There is a balance between having a life and having a business," Ina said, and we nod vigorously at that — yup, we knew it [wink]! Just enough is quite enough. Even in lives and with businesses that are just lived and run by us regular little peeps.

I can also watch E! True Hollywood Story, Biography, Intimate Portrait (remember that show?), or almost any interview and become interested in almost anyone, even if I thought I didn't "like" them. I missed the first twenty minutes of Sandra Lee's chefography, for instance, but they kept alluding to her difficult childhood throughout the show, and as I watched her explain her concept I found myself growing more and more understanding, even sympathetic, though we snobby Paulsons avidly harass the television when we watch her show (the ever-rotating kitchen decor makes me want to rip it all down and stomp on it hysterically, but after she explained it [the kitchen thing] I understood it). And I loved how she said she felt sorry for the make-up artist on her show because she (Sandra) cried so much and so regularly when first doing it, frustrated by the feeling that she just couldn't communicate it all accurately, as passionately as she felt it (so then I felt bad that I am always smacking my forehead every time she uses a singular verb with a plural subject, but not that bad). Hers is not the kind of cooking I aspire to do, but I understand where she's coming from. I'm glad there's room — I hope there's room — for all of it.

So all that should hopefully make you quite sympathetic to me as I point you toward an interview I gave yesterday at Create a Connection. Tara asked some really unique questions that I really enjoyed answering. That whole making vs. designing thing got me all in a tizzy, and I thought about it for the rest of the day. I don't think about the distinction that much, but now I kind of think it's all designing. Isn't it? There is a subjectivity that is inherent in making anything, which seems to qualify it, technically, but, you know, I say — however you gotta get there, just make something.

And also, Terry just wrote and said the finalists have been posted for the Softie Awards, and voting will start soon. The amazing array of work over there blows my mind. If you entered and didn't get chosen, you should not feel bad for one millisecond — it was seriously subjective and impossible to choose. Everything was so cool.

And also, about the blocking — thanks for all the discussion yesterday (see the comments on that post for lots of hints and tips). As mentioned, my 'ghan is made of mostly Baby Cashmerino on a D hook, and if you have questions about other fibers or techniques, I know that the posts over at the Granny Along will be very helpful —there is a ton of great advice and experience (as well as "before" and "after" photos of blocked pieces — I haven't taken any of mine, but I'll try) over there. I don't have enough experience outside of my own very regularly used yarns and ways to feel comfortable answering a lot of what was asked, I must say.

OH — and I almost forgot about that crostini. Forget what show I was watching on PBS, but they made something like this on Sunday. Just grill some day-old bread and rub it with the clove of raw garlic, sliced longways. Then spread it with a mixture made from 2 c. ricotta cheese, 1/2 c. grated Parmesan, and a handful of torn fresh basil. Then top it with some frothy curls of prosciutto and — manga. Yummo (as Rache would say).

'Kay. That's all. Have a good day, the first whole one of spring. More flowers here for you tomorrow, just wait.

Getting the Grannies to a Mellow-Groove

comments: 75


Twenty grannies done, twenty-eight to go, though it's all on hold for a bit as I finish up some commissioned patterns that are due . . . pronto. I have so many things going on backstage, most of which involve other peoples' projects, so I must be coy. Making grannies is my little end-of-the-day treat.


The Bee is irritated that I've moved all the squares to the table, so she's defected to our bedroom, and kicked Violet off of the ripple blankie. The cats can't be on the same blanket at the same time, and at some point last week, Bridget, perched next to a pinned-down granny in the guest room, just said, "Hey, what's my problem. There's a perfectly good finished blanket over there. See ya, sap," and booted Vi off with a hiss and a swat.


Sometimes I think my greatest incentive in finishing a square is getting to go upstairs and block it. I am blocking all squares as I finish them, because blocking absolutely transforms these babies from slightly fraught, tweaked-out, anxious little trapezoids to drapey, blissed-out grown-ups — they're all mature and perfectly square and presentable after spa-treatment. To achieve that end, simply pin them out (with stainless-steel pins, so they don't rust when wet) into eight-inch squares using a tape measure. Be sure to add three or four pins per side, and tack down more than just the corners. (I use the guest bed because the mattress is old and the quilts on it are hard-working old dogs that can take a sprinkle or two, but I know that people have used towels or padded boards to do this. Just use whatever flat, water-and-pin-friendly surface you have.) Then, spray it all with a water bottle until it's nice and saturated. Then leave it to dry completely, and when you return to unpin and lift you'll see how addictive this whole process is. I always get very psyched when I hear that someone hasn't ever blocked their work before because I know they will be so pleased with the transformation.


Are there any other tips on blocking I should know about? I know there are a few ways to do it, but this is what I've always done. I plan to block the seams after I crochet all the squares together, as well. I can't wait. I think I'm going to repaint the guest room to go with this blanket when I'm done. Maybe blue, like the blue in that white-blue-pink-red square. Hydrangea blue. A granny flower.

About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at