BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked


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For Every Bird a Nest [of Kale]

For every Bird a Nest –
Wherefore in timid quest
Some little Wren goes seeking round –

Wherefore when boughs are free –
Households in every tree –
Pilgrim be found?

Perhaps a home too high –
Ah Aristocracy!
The little Wren desires –

Perhaps of kale so fine –
Of leafy greens e’en superfine,
Her pride aspires –

The Lark is not ashamed
To build upon the ground
Her modest house –

Yet who of all the throng
Dancing around the sun
Does so rejoice?

[Ever so slightly adapted from] Emily Dickinson


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Neatly Nested

Adorable and cheerful as they are, handmade softies tend to accumulate in mass amounts around here if left unchecked. Multiplying mysteriously throughout the course of a month, it seems as though they spring forth out of the ether, entirely of their own accord. There’s no stopping this home invasion, but there are certainly worse problems to worry about. When space is at a premium and not another square inch can be spared, at least this particular close-knit family of featherless fowl is happy to accommodate.

Nesting within each other like plush matryoshka dolls, no actual nest is required for them to call any place home. Luckily for them and their hosts, even the smallest spaces can comfortably contain all four, right down to the tiny eggling still waiting to hatch. No matter what, you can rest assured that it will be kept very warm!

[The Nesting Birds knitting pattern can be found on page 45 of Huge & Huggable Mochimochi: 20 Supersized Patterns for Big Knitted Friends by Anna Hrachovec.]


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Raising the Sushi Bar

Coordinating shared meals can be tough enough with just one or two family members, but when everyone’s home at the dinner hour at once, it can be nearly impossible. Greatly disparate tastes define us, ranging from the fairly healthy vegan (hi there!) to the vegetable-hating omnivore, making it challenging to get a universally agreeable meal on the table, to say the least. In a pinch there is at least one safe haven where we can all find something good to eat, however: The sushi bar.

Topping this list of “must order” items is edamame. Those young soy beans are one of the only green edibles that said vegetable-hater will actually consume, and even willingly most times! Trust me, that’s a big deal in our household. Thus, a big bowl of edamame always graces our table, to be shared communally.

Vegetable gyoza are another staple found on most menus, and what’s not to like about chewy wonton skin stretched around a savory filling? Steamed or fried, plump parcels or dainty half-moons, even bad gyoza are pretty darn good.

And of course, the main event, the sushi. There’s so much more than just the standard cucumber and avocado, but there’s nothing wrong with those reassuring staples either. Nigiri is usually off the menu for me, but hey, when it’s made of this much fiber, it’s got to be vegan!

Tiny sushi bar pattern by Anna Hrachovec


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Indian Summer

Just as suddenly as the cold and darkness descended, a brief respite from the encroaching fall brings us glorious blue skies and gentle 80-degree breezes, as if summer never left us in the first place. Toying with my heart, it’s hard not to get attached to this anomaly of the season. While Canadian friends across the border celebrate Thanksgiving, I’m marveling at children still playing on the beaches, joggers baring all in skimpy outfits, and general summer behavior continuing as if the calendar pages haven’t already advanced beyond July. Even the wildlife are clearly mixed up and confused by this inexplicable shift.


Glass platter provided by Steelite

Lounging about on a placid pond without a care in the world, this little fellow can’t even dream of a time without warm sunshine. So comfortable on that buoyant lily pad, I swear I could see him flattening out, relaxing to the point of loosening every muscle in his tiny green body and becoming a genuine pancake of a frog. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that next week is just as liable to bring a blizzard as it is more of this Indian summer. What’s the harm in pretending it’s still vacation, for just a little while longer, at least?

[Flapjack Frog pattern by Anna Hrachovec of MochiMochi Land]


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Teeny Tiny Winner

Although it just barely missed the cut for Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi, this miniature ice cream cone seems to be in hot demand, as it was one of the most popular requests made in the comment section. Fear not, nimble knitters! This sweet little number is destined for another project, coming in the near future. Keep an eye on Anna’s blog for updates on her latest creations.

But let’s not beat around the bush here and get down to business. Selected by the random number generator, the winner of Anna’s new book is…

Commenter #46, Julie Overton, who suggests, “These are so darling! I would love to see if she can make lil sushi!” Sounds like a good choice to me, with a high probability of being adorable!

If you didn’t win this time around, never fear- You can still hop right over to Oiyi’s Crafts and join in on her giveaway, too.

And with that, it’s time for me to pack my bags and head off to Portland, OR for the first ever Vida Vegan Con. I’ll be leading a workshop on food photography, speaking on the “Young and Vegan” panel, and doing a demo on the illustrious vegan meringue. Who am I seeing there, and who’s getting excited now?!


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It’s a Small World

Proving without a shadow of a doubt that simply downsizing everyday items makes them instantly adorable, Anna Hrachovec has created an overnight sensation with her ongoing series of tiny objects. Ranging from animals to edibles to computer equipment, you name it and there’s a good chance that Anna has a yarn-and-fiberfill replica that could fit in the palm of you hand. After slowly doling out a few tiny patterns in irresistible sets for the past year or so, her latest book, Teeny-Tiny MochiMochi: More Than 40 Itty-Bitty Minis to Knit, Wear, and Give has finally been unleashed upon the world, bundling together scores of quick, cute knits.

For any knitter that has been disappointed by the crocheted amigurumi craze, unable to create such adorable stuffed toys, this is the book for you! Containing such a wide variety of items that there’s bound to be something that everyone will love, one of my favorite aspects of these mini knits is how quick they are to make. Small size means small time commitment, so you can churn these cuties out in no time– A particularly useful fact if you’re stuck for last-minute gifts.

As one of Anna’s devoted test-knitters, I can’t claim an unbiased opinion here, but I can tell you that I would have purchased this compilation of cuteness anyway. I mean honestly, how could you resist patterns for…

…A tiny cupcake, complete with rainbow seed bead sprinkles?

How about a plump, green pear, almost realistic enough to imagine out in the orchards?

Don’t forget about the starches; a baked potato topped off with beaded chives and a generous pat of sewn in “butter” would sure hit the spot!

Anna has even managed to create the ever-elusive vegan fried egg! I must admit though, it was a bit fibrous for my tastes.

I did slightly modify my knits to exclude the eyes, but only because this vegan prefers not to have food that can look back at me. Still, the adorable factor hasn’t suffered in the least, if I do say so myself. While the section of tiny foods was clearly my focus, there’s still a whole world of tiny knits to explore far beyond the faux edibles. The miniature lion is next up on my knit list.

For all you eager crafters out there, you’re in luck- Ever generous, Anna and her publisher have offered to giveaway a second copy of Teeny-Tiny MochiMochi to one lucky blog reader! To secure your copy, all you need to do is leave me a comment, using correct contact info, telling me what item you’d like to see as a tiny knit next. Anna is still hard at work on this series, so who knows, you may see your suggestion show up on her blog some day soon! Be sure to comment before Wednesday, August 24th at midnight EST, at which point I’ll choose a winner via random number generator.  Open to residents of the US only.  So ready your double-pointed needles and start thinking small; there’s a whole tiny world to explore!

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