Saturday, September 12, 2015

Steel Cut Oats

After finishing Stella's sweater (Camilla Babe knit with a YOTH ooak gradient stick) for this year's SSKAL with Shannon Cook, I decided to cast one on for myself. I'd been eyeing the pattern for a long time (actually I love all of her patterns; check out Jane's blog) and you can't beat the instant gratification of a bulky weight sweater. Now, in the interest of full-disclosure, I don't love the look of a bulky-weight sweater on my frame, but this is a fitted sweater and I love the ribbed detailing and wide neckline, so I still made it. I sized up so that it wasn't too too fitted and wish I hadn't, but I still like it. My 'real' camera had a dead battery and if you refer back to instant gratification, waiting's not my thing so I took my iPhone to the garden for some selfies and I think you get the gist.

Worked up in Quince & Co's Puffin in the colorway Kittywake, Jane Richmond's Oatmeal Pullover practically knit itself over the course of a week of evening knitting. Because it was so simple, I also got to binge-watch Friday Night Lights. #texasforever

I love that it's a super moody grey and so dependent on the lighting.

but first, a selfie.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Paper Tigers

photo via press kit at
Last night I had the opportunity to screen the new documentary Paper Tigers. Directed by Jamie Redford, this film delves into the lives of several students at Lincoln High, Walla Walla's alternative high school. In the last five years, the school has shifted to a model of non-punitive discipline structure that works with a trauma-informed staff and administration who are armed with research about Adverse Childhood Experience(s) (ACEs) and the affect that living in an environment of chronic stress and compound trauma has on the brains of children. It followed several students over the course of a year, graduating in 2013. It is astounding to me the differences that have been the result of this pardigm shift over such a short period of time. Watch the trailer by clicking here.

Coming from a child welfare background, it was already a subject that was interesting to me, and I've been a bit of a docu-junkie lately watching almost every documentary available on Netflix revolving around our penal system, drug wars, food insecurity, substance abuse, immigration...all of which seem to tie back into generational poverty and stress. As one documentary ends and I go to choose the next, I find myself thinking about all of the social implications, but then not sure of concrete ways I could apply what I've just seen to my own environment. After finishing last night, it was almost more overwhelming because it is my environment that I just spend the last two hours watching. I lay in bed with my mind turning over ideas and thinking about the kids and teachers in the film (Hey! She went to bootcamp with me; hey! I know her!).

So, back to what we can do. Immediately. Without special training. Be kind to each face you see walking around town. Give grace freely and without patronism, even when you know a person, you don't know all that they struggle with. Know someone that works at Lincoln? Support them. They're willingly taking on an enormous emotional load by working with a high-risk student body. You can love the kids and your work, but it still takes a toll. Donate to the attached Health Center- they have a wishlist with items as easy as picking up an extra box of band-aids or granola bars the next time you go grocery shopping. They also have an extensive list of volunteer opportunities for everything from spring cleaning at the clinic to stuffing envelopes for mailers to volunteering your time as a healthcare provider or mental health professional. I hope that the list of ways we can support only grows from here.

The only misgiving I had about it was that a lot of the shots were of the most barren parts of town (empty railroad tracks, highway underpasses, etc). I totally understand why this was done from a theatric/cinematic standpoint, but I felt like in order to get a full picture of the community, it's almost more dramatic to see the stark contrast between wealth and poverty in this little town, and that they all exist within blocks of each other, often within the same block. It makes the work that Lincoln High is doing so well even more important.

If you didn't get a chance to attend the screening (both showings were sold out), I know that there are several people interested in organizing screenings and I hope to take on organizing one for later this fall. After a few months, it will be released to the educational sector and then in Spring of 2016, it will be released for individual purchase on platforms like iTunes and Amazon. There is so much to be said about this topic and the film that I can't even seem to gather my thoughts. It's a great conversation starter, and I know it will result in more schools in the nation making a shift to this model where they can. I hope that in our community it raises awareness, and support of, the amazing things that can result from tireless educators, counselors, law enforcement and healthcare providers who are a source of unwavering support and stability to the kids who need it the very most.

Mr. Sporleder, Lincoln's principal, has since retired and is working with the Children's Resilience Initiative 'Resilience Trumps Aces' and travels for speaking engagements and education throughout the country. The results from Lincoln's implementation of the trauma-aware protocols have gained national attention.

During the Q & A last night, Mr. Redford said that Paper Tigers' follow-up Resilience is in the works, and it sounds like it'll be another good one to watch.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Qwist of Fate

This yarn. This pattern. They were meant for each other. A beautiful halo that just makes you wanna reach out and touch it. Then the texture? When you do reach out and touch it, because you couldn't help yourself, you're gonna keep running your hands back and forth over it. It's borderline inappropriate.

The just debuted pattern Qwist by one of my faves Melanie Berg, on the new base Sno by Woolfolk Yarns in color 1/2 is such a beautiful marriage. 1/2 a very low contrast marled colorway, and the stronger contrast ones may lose a bit of the visual on the texture. I had just ordered the yarn and then the pattern collection Texture is the New Black was released serendipitously within days. I can't wait to knit a few of these up in Pepperberry cashmere.

The pattern is designed for Malabrigo Yarn Finito, but I have loved Woolfolk since I first got my hands on a skin of Får about a year ago, and it was already in my stash. Barely.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Peanut Butter Oat Bars

When I had Stella I was overwhelmed by the number of friends who dropped by with a meal or a treat, along with their company, outside of the schedule arranged by the local mom's group. One afternoon my friend Carol came over to meet Stella and brought with her an after-school snack for the kids in addition to dinner. Those granola bars were so tasty, and I'm sure more so because I was so recently post-partum and I was starving constantly, both for food and contact with my friends. For the uber-health conscious, it should be disclosed that these are more treat than snack. Just the way I like it. Be glad they don't have corn syrup. (except in the m&m's).

Today was the first day of school for the big boys, so I pulled out my recipe binder when I got home from dropping them off, hoping I still had the card. I've tweaked the recipe each time and I think I nailed it today. Originally from the food blog, Garnish With Lemon, these chewy granola bars with peanut butter easily satisfy that craving for sweet with a hit of salt. I'm listing my rendition; for the original, click the above link.

Peanut Butter Oat Bars

Spray 8x8 or 9x9 pan with nonstick spray

3/4 c. peanut butter (heaping)
3 T coconut oil
1 1/2 T butter
1/2-3/4 tsp salt (depends if your pb has salt in it)
1/3 c. honey
3 T brown sugar
1 t vanilla
3 c. old fashioned oats
3T m&m candies (mini's would be perfect, but I have the big daddies in the hopes that I'll eventually get to use them as potty training rewards for Jackie John Jones; #diapersforlyfe )

mini chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, (reese's pieces would probably be fantastic!)

Pulse 2 c. oats in a blender or food processor until finely ground and add to a bowl with the remaining 1 c. oats. (I like this ratio better than the 1:2 ground:whole in the original). In a saucepan over medium heat combine peanut butter, oil, butter, salt, honey and brown sugar until melted, remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Pour mixture over oats and stir until combined. There should be no dry oats outside of the liquid mixture. Add your optional treats (or leave them out for a marginally healthier treat) and press firmly into pan. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Run a knife around the edge to loosen and turn out onto a cutting board. I cut mine into 20 portions by making three cuts vertically and four horizontally. With the age of my kids, not all of them need a full bar when added to fruit or whatever else we have after school. The originally recipe simply cuts them in half and then makes five cuts for twelve (12) servings.

Store in the refrigerator, at room temperature, or in your belly.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Fringe Hatalong No. 4 Laurus

The fringe hatalong has been a fun way to find new hat patterns and use yarns from my stash that have been waiting for the perfect project. It's a series of free patterns, using different techniques and a great way for a beginner knitter to get support in trying something new, or for practiced knitters to change things up. With a pretty huge stash to dive into, it's been fun to see what a difference changing up the suggested yarn in a pattern can do. 

Last night I fell down the rabbit hole of the Amazon show Transparent, and by the end of a few episodes I was casting off my Laurus! It's a simple colorwork hat that can be knit fitted or slouchy and with three different brim sizes. A beautiful intro to chart reading, it's a six-stitch repeat, and only 7 rows long. The rest is ribbing for the brim and then straight stockinette, followed by a really clean decrease.  So, if you've been anxious about trying colorwork, this is the one. 

I used YOTH yarns Big Sister in Poppy Seed for the main color and the darkest green from an OOAK gradient stick for the contrasting color.

Dianna Walla of Paper Tiger designed this hat for the hatalong, and her blog provides so much information on colorwork. When I knit the Pinebough Cowl last year (also by her) the one piece of advice that she offers that is really helpful, is which color to hold in which hand. If you hold your contrasting color in the left hand, that color will sit on top and the colorwork will pop instead of sinking back into the fabric and getting lost.