Shabby chic without the chic

We live in one of thes, next to one that looks exactly like it, except that our intrepid young neighbors are more than doubling the current size, dwarfing our version of the same 100-year-old house.

This was our starter home. Years ago we talked of moving and expanding and adding and breaking through, but 20 years in, we've learned what space buys you rooms to care for and fill with yarn, and we already feel rich in rooms to care for...and yarn. So we yearn for space much less often than we did in our younger days.

Still there comes a time, when the house that you painted, tiled and purchased furniture for starts to look, um, well loved, in our case by two humans, one well-mannered 20-year-old tabby and a corpulent orange thing who has made the destruction of our Ethan Allen sofa his personal project.

Though Mr. and Mrs. Nake-id have strong esthetic opinions (happily, they typically align), neither of us likes making the decisions that move projects forward.

Take choosing paint colors. I'd rather weed the garden with a shrimp fork than pick colors to paint the kitchen.

So I start collecting chips. And more chips. And asking friends. I pour over magazines and roll websites and blogs.

"Haven't you been trying to pick colors for about two years?" a designer friend asked recently.

Hell, for me that's fast!

I recently stumbled on this collection by California Paints.

Can you imagine the consequences if I painted the house "Rosy Opal"? Or "Craftsman Gold"? I'd be living in the identical-but-more-commodious bungalow next door.

Anyway, how do you choose paint colors? Assistance welcomed.

Curating

Here's a sneak peak of the new Nake-id design. Impressed by our productivity? Why, it's only been three years since our last release! It's coming soon, once the photos are "curated" and pattern written.

The above was take at our photo shoot on 32nd Avenue, in front of Common Grounds, the coffee shop that made the Highlands in Denver, the Highlands. Common Grounds will be moving soon, curated out of the neighborhood by a rapacious landlord. We probably need to start a "keep the Highlands weird" movement, except the Highlands was never weird, just quiet and established, settled by ethnic families in the early decades of the last century. Today, it's become so desireable I'm almost embarrased to say where we live without prefacing, "we moved here 20 years ago, before you could buy a $400 handbag in the 'hood."

The Avenue, prior home to Naomi's Beauty School and Speer Furniture (Denver's go-to emporium for Spirit of '76 upholstery), now attracts chains like Jimmy John's, Smash Burger (upcoming) and Chipotle--most of which are local. We'll know things are really bad and too curated when an Apple store opens.

Someone asked me recently as a semi-native whether I liked how Denver has changed. Overall, yes. This isn't the gritty city on the plains Jack Kerouac would remember from his days on the road. Without the viaducts and railyards and blighted buildings, it's much prettier. Young, educated people swarm here for jobs, the outdoors and the hip-and-happening lifestyle. Restaurants are packed late into the night. Real estate prices are skyrocketing.

It appears the Mile High City is curating itself into a Seattle or Portland. However, we need to find ways to keep it authentic if not weird so we're not all drinking Starbucks from a go-cup.

Put a hat on

Being between large knitting projects is like being between novels. While searching for that next good book, you thumb through magazines, watch too much TV (especially this week when it's free!) and try to gin up games of Words With Friends. This is how reading keeps us from going off the rails.

It's the same with knitting. Without a good meaty project to keep idle hands occupied, one is apt to hit "add to cart" more times than is healthy and refresh Facebook too often and get into all kinds of mischief.

Like crochet. Between Lynn's fabulous afghan from Erika Knight's Simple Crochet and Rachael Oglesby's Crochet Boutique, I've been hooked in. The hat pictured above was worked between conference calls. I look like Ruth Buzzi (scroll down), but I think the intended recipient will wear it well.

What kind of mischief have you gotten yourself in?

Spring gleaning

Yesterday I was listening to the second installment of the Oprah & Deepak 21-Day Meditation Challenge (yes, I should already be listening to the 11th, no judging!) and Deepak was going on about life balance and activities about we're passionate and I don't know what all because I was like...meditating, and this snuck through: Find something to be passionate about...it is a deep form of healing.

Not sure I've ever thought about it that way before; that taking a passionate interest in work, knitting, cooking, bees or the cats is healing.That health could be associated with engagement. But it makes intrinsic sense. The more connected we are to this world and the things that give us joy...the less likely we are to chuck it for the next. Metaphorically.

Spring is here officially, which means in Colorado it snows. We get to cling to the cozy parts of winter just a bit longer. Like the scarf pictured above. Or new projects yet to be imagined.

New is the operative word, though. Try something new, whether it's a new skill, recipe or area of interest. It's that time of the year.

Loving the West

There are plenty of reasons not to love it, starting with colonization and the eradication of the great bison herds, but there are also many things to admire: How ranchers have preserved open space, the live-and-let-live practicality that made Wyoming and Colorado the first states to give women the right to vote, that same spirit which made the Centennial State the sixth in the nation to legalize civil unions (nine other states allow same-sex marriage). There are times when things seem so hide-bound out here in the land-locked American heartland, and then there are times like this year, when the legislature acts to make in-state tuition available to undocumented young people, that it's possible to see the spark of hope, ambition and grit that settled these harsh lands.

Anyway, here are some things to love about today's West:

 

 

Commissioned yarn!

I've developed something of a Sleep Season yarn problem. So much so that I've even started making special orders. (Don't mind Antone, he's judgey like that.)

Much of the yarn Meg dyes is fingering weight, perfect for socks, shawls, wristers, and so on. I fell for a mixed-berry colorway but wanted a quicker-to-knit yarn weigt, DK or worsted. Kelly at Wild Yarns arranged the commission and Meg gamely accepted.

The result is pictured. 100 percent merino. If it wren't so wooly, I'd be tempted to take a lick.

Thank you, Meg! You're an artist!

What to do with 25 lbs of teff flour: Make injera, of course!

We get these bees in our bonnet here at Nake-id Knits (coming May 4, in fact, we'll have 20,000 of the little suckers). This particular bee, though, had more to do with a craving for Ethiopian food and the delicious fermented bread associated with cuisine called injera.

The bread is made with teff flour, a gluten-free flour made from an ancient grain that's high in protein, copper, iron, zinc and calcium. Bob's Red Mill sells small bags of the stuff for about $7-$8 for 24 ounces (they carry it at Natural Grocers), but that seemed a little rich for regular injera consumption.

On our tour de Aurora last week, I picked up a 25-pound bag of teff for $35, knowing full well Nake-id IT would think i was nuts. Since then, we've started putting teff in bread, in cakes, in roux; I even have a recipe for teff muffins.

And, yes, we've made injera.

I used the recipe from Papa Tofu Loves Ethiopian Food, a darling zine, which uses teff, urad dal and brown rice flour in the mix.

Start by mixing all ingredients and let them ferment. Ours went just over three days. Then I added extra water and blended so that the batter was the consistency of crepe batter.

Pour the batter in a hot tefflon pan without oil. And cook for about 45 seconds. Then cover.

Cook for a minute or so. Then remove with wooden spatula.Serve with Ethiopian lentils.

The lady who sold me the massive bag of teff flour said that you can't make injera without a special injera maker. These are like large, electric crepe makers and cost upwards of $100. I found the humble tefflon pan worked just fine. 

These were lovely. But not restaurant quality. Next time I'll try 100 percent teff to see if the result is more to my liking.

If you are looking for teff flour in the Denver area, you can find it at the Tana market in the strip mall at 2222 S. Havana St.

Ethnic food tour de Aurora

One Middle Eastern grocery. Two Asian. One Ethiopian market and one English (with tea room). One Indian shop. Ethiopian food for lunch. All within two square miles.

Aurora is Denver's suburb gone right. Entrepreneurial, diverse, artsy and cheap, Aurora is playing host to the best parts of the American dream. In HMart, the enormous Asian grocery on South Parker Road, Asian, African-American, Middle Eastern and Caucasian customers shopped for bok choy, oyster mushrooms and rice, united in the chores we all must perform to live modern life.

Deanna was my tour guide and equipped with the YUM Guide from the City of Aurora, we found every kind of lentil, dried fruit and spice imaginable. Tucked into a Korean strip mall, we foud Tana, an Ethiopian shop where I scored the following:

25 pounds of teff flour, people! The raw stuff of Ethiopian injera bread that's packed with protein, calcium, thiamin and iron. Plus, it's gluten-free. Got a batch of injera fermenting on the shelves now.

So grab a YUM guide and take your own tour de Aurora. You'll be supporting a lot of locally owned businesses if you do.

The beauty of knitting a store sample

I'm teaching a cabling class later this month featuring Jared Flood's handsome reversible scarf, Cinder. We'll go over cabling with a needle and without, reading cable patterns and charts all the while stitching away happily on this little gem.

I'm knitting this as a store sample, which means, I. Get. To. Knit. It. For. Free! Yes, it goes back to live at Wild Yarns, hopefully doing its job selling piles of Thirteen Mile yarn.

The Thirteen Mile chunky is perfect for this patter and lends Jared's design a tougher, more rustic look.

For my part, even though our time together will be brief, I'm happy to be in the company of this gorgeous yarn for as long as my two skeins last.

A slice of the Bay Area

Such a bad blogger. Distracted by travel, work, new interests--hello honey bees!--life.

Herewith some OK images of life in the Bay Area: