une tricoteuse nommée allison

a knitter named allison (who also does other stuff)

A few words about biscuits July 16, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — A @ 2:57 pm
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Hi, it’s your regular blogger’s daughter again, with a word about the South’s favorite bread product, biscuits.

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Several years ago, when I hadn’t been dating my now-husband for very long, I brought him and his daughter (then about four) along with me to a traditional family holiday breakfast at my now-late great-grandfather’s house. Since I can remember, my mom’s side of the family gathered during the holidays for breakfast at Papaw’s house, a tradition that only ceased with his passing at the age of 98. Christmas breakfast meant piles of country ham (in his younger days, Papaw would season and smoke the hog himself), sausage, eggs, grits, gravy and biscuits – you know, your standard Southern breakfast. I directed my then-boyfriend and his daughter to the buffet line, and heard her little voice piping up asking “What’s this?”, as she pointed at a biscuit.

 

“It’s a biscuit,” I said.

 

She looked at me doubtfully.

 

“You can put butter or gravy or jelly on it, or make a little sandwich with the ham or sausage,” I said.

 

She looked at me like I was crazy.

 

You see, the dear child is half Hoosier, and apparently in her short life had never had a biscuit. We fixed that right away.

 

I’d known before then that biscuits are a cultural marker. During my year living in Washington, D.C., I was comforted to find that the cafeterias on Capitol Hill served fluffy biscuits in the mornings. I also knew that in my brief forays into the Northeast, I’d found that even down-home diners considered toast to be an adequate breakfast bread; they had never heard of biscuits, and wanted nothing to do with them. Biscuits mean the South, and they mean home. They’re something you make into a quick sandwich to eat before Sunday School, or something that you slather butter on when they’re so hot out of the oven that they burn your fingers. While they may occasionally come out of a can or the freezer case when time is short, the best biscuits are made from scratch and love, rolled with your Mimi’s rolling pin, and cut with a jelly jar on the kitchen counter.

 

With all this talk about biscuits, you might think that I have fond memories of making them from scratch as a child. Well, um, no. We were Bisquick people at the most, Pillsbury can people when in a hurry. What can I say? The Eighties were hectic.

 

So now, at the age of 33, I have set out to learn to make really darn good biscuits. I want them to be fluffy, buttery, and just barely golden brown on top. They need to have proper spring, and a bit of flakiness, and be the perfect vehicle for a piece of country ham (not city ham, thank you. They are different. That is another blog post altogether). I’ve surveyed Southern friends around my age, asking for their favorite recipes. I’ve studied America’s Test Kitchens, and the Junior League cookbook. Somewhere, I know there is a perfect biscuit recipe, and I’m going to find it. The leading contender so far is actually the recipe printed on the back of the White Lily flour (which I buy at the local grocery, but elsewhere in the country is sold by Williams-Sonoma in tiny packages as a gourmet item).

 

My stepdaughter has come around to biscuits, by the way, and now loves them. In fact, she’s not bad at making them herself, using her mom’s recipe (which I’m sure is fine, but I like to DIY this kind of thing, so I’m hunting for my own method).

 

Interesting side note: my husband, who hears about such things, informs me that biscuits are now trendy outside of the South. Apparently the rest of the country is just now discovering them, and as usual they’re going to turn them into some kind of crazy fusion cuisine insanity, as people tend to do with a lot of traditional foods. But thank you, I do not need chipotle sriracha shallot biscuits. I’ll take the ones I have eaten my entire life. With a dab of butter or a slab of country ham. As God intended them to be.

 

A blooming sense of peace April 13, 2010

Filed under: Creativity,Misc,Photos — A @ 3:53 pm
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There’s a tree (I think an apple tree) next to an abandoned house near my office. I walk past it at least twice a day. Right now it has the loveliest pink and white blossoms I have ever seen.

Last Friday when I walked by I snapped off a piece of a branch with several blossoms, and set the branch on the dashboard of my car. As I drove home, I touched it, and the petals were so light that I could barely feel them. When I got home, I stuck it in some water, in a place where I could see it while sitting on the sofa. And for a while I just contemplated it.

I was filled with this overwhelming love for the world outside me, and amazement that something so mundane (how many billions of trees are there in the world?) could be made with such exquisite detail. The petals had the faintest pink tinge around the edges, with white centers. The leaves were a perfect yellowish green.

Faith in religion, in God, in a higher power – whatever you want to call the belief that some people have – has often been hard for me. But contemplating those blossoms, I felt reassured that there was some sort of power bigger than us humans.

Yes, I know there is a scientific reason for the blossoms (to attract bees, to continue pollination) and all the other features of the tree. But what sparked my faith was the very fact that I was capable of perceiving beauty – the fact that something called “beauty” exists, and that it can impact our souls. The fact that this world is so richly complicated reassures me.

 

Yarny goodness, possibly made of cocker spaniels. April 7, 2010

Filed under: Knitting,Photos,Uncategorized — A @ 1:41 pm
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I went to a little event for work – with some people you may have heard of – and on the way back I decided to cruise by

ReBelle to fondle some Springy non-wool yarns.  You will not be surprised to hear that I bought some. See?

What’s that? You actually want to see what’s inside the bag?

Here’s a peek:

It’s the yarn of the month at ReBelle, Eden Madil, in color 623. I bought five skeins (all they had in that colorway…that’s right, it’s mine all mine! Get your own!). I’ve used this yarn before. It’s very soft, and has beautiful stitch definition, and wet-blocks wonderfully. It’s slippery as heck, so I’m going to have to wind it into cakes on the ballwinder so it won’t fall apart while being knitted, but that means that it should be able to show off drop stitches very nicely.  The plan is to make a Clapotis (yes I’m officially the last knitter on the planet to make this pattern) to wear to a couple of weddings coming up this Summer. (You know how it goes – the church is always cold, then you get hot at the reception, then cold again leaving at night, and someone’s Great Aunt Mabel always says uncovered arms are inappropriate in church, even though you weren’t aware that your friends’ extended family members were apparently from 1895 and members of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union…).

Now the real question is – what’s with the two dogs on the label? If you were a non-English speaking person, wouldn’t you assume that this yarn was made of dog?

 

Freshly-cut Flowers o’ Fabric April 6, 2010

Filed under: Creativity,Etsy,Misc,Sewing — A @ 2:05 pm
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Just finished some new hair accessories for young Miss Haleigh Ann. I worked with Haleigh’s mom, Hollye, when she was expecting Haleigh, so I feel like we go way back.

Since these are for a little girl, I attached more secure alligator clips instead of bobbie pins – to add a little more grip for fine baby hair.

 

How Science Becomes (Sorta) News April 5, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — A @ 9:22 am

I spend a lot of time explaining to people (friends, elderly relatives, random strangers) what it is that I do for a living. This cartoon pretty much illustrates it. I’m the “University PR Office” link in the chain:

 

Hair clippies for all! April 1, 2010

Filed under: Creativity,Etsy,Sewing — A @ 3:14 pm

I have long been enamored of my yo-yo maker. Recently I picked up a flower yo-yo maker as well. But instead of following the instructions precisely, I figured out a way to flip the little flowers around into what I think is a much cuter  rosette. Like so:

Now I’m going crazy affixing my fabric pinwheels and flowers to bobby pins and hair clips. A few examples:

I’m also working with fabulous local shop Street Scene (purveyor of vintage goodies and stylish fabulousness) as a consigning artist. You can visit my display there (last spotted near the cash register desk, although they do change up the decor in there from time to time so it could move about). I stopped by a week after my first consignment to find that the small flower hair pins had sold out, so I left a few more…but I think I’m going to need to make even more this weekend. I did leave them with a plentiful supply of the single-pinwheel hair pins, adorned with cute buttons.

This venture started as me just goofing around, making hair accessories for myself, and has turned into a great deal of fun. I’ve taken some custom orders from friends and colleagues, and am working with a friend who is interested in organizing a group order on behalf of some moms who want to deck out their wee girls for summer.

(Yes, little girls seem to enjoy wearing these, but I feel that they look equally lovely on 30 year olds.)

You can find my burgeoning hair clippie empire at www.southerngirlknits.etsy.com, or as mentioned you can visit Street Scene to check out an in-person display. I also love doing custom orders, so if you have ideas just let me know.

And now, my favorite pic – the multiple hair clippie extravaganza, as modeled by my awesome co-worker Jenny W.:

 

Olympic Goal, Achieved March 1, 2010

It was touch and go for a while. I was knitting through an injury, as I had a wisdom tooth extracted last week. Doped up on Lortab for 24 hours, I lost valuable knitting time as I slept the day away. However, I was able to pull it together in the last days of the competition, and sprint to the finish during a visit to Rebelle yesterday. The sweater, though in dire need of blocking, is done. Here’s a look:

And, because binding off this sweater at Stitch ‘n’  Bitch meant I was sitting in a yarn store with empty needles, I made a wee purchase:

Yup, that’s Malabrigo Silky Merino. There is nothing more sinfully soft than this yarn. Except maybe puppy ears. But you can’t knit with puppy ears. I think this yarn wants to become a soft, lacy spring scarf, perfect for urging Winter to take a hike, already.