Friday, December 29, 2006

Christmas has been interesting. We've seen just about everyone, gone just about everywhere, and eaten just about everything in sight. And a few things that were under wraps. We've left things everywhere, causing other people to have to scurry after us waving them wildly. It's almost time for a new year. whee!

And I've almost finished two hats.

Friday, December 22, 2006

** Edited to take the map out - it's too cumbersome. Cool, but cumbersome. Suffice it to say that I've visited all but 5: Alaska, Kansas, Montana, North Dakota, and Rhode Island. Hard to believe sometimes, but there you go. 48 years of traveling, and all that.

create your own visited states map

Sheri posted this one, so of course I had to run off and get my list of states made up. Can you tell I've taken innumerable trips cross country? Hawaii was a deliberate trip and Alaska will have to be also. Actually, at this point, I may have to make deliberate trips to get any of the rest of the ones I need for a full 50.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Jenna's post today is wonderful. Go check out her pattern - it's a riot!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Weekend cooking

I made chocolate chip cookies, which is part of my rut, so no recipes here (standard Hershey's recipe, using semisweet chips and almond slices) [I have the recipe memorized. Hush.]

I did spend some time looking for recipes for Buffalo Wings Sauce and finally decided to just go buy the stuff. Recipes for that are all over the map, or consist of "hot sauce" and nothing else. Since I don't eat Buffalo Wings, I have no real idea what sort of sauce I was looking to make.

I had a mental taste of what I wanted to make, but wasn't sure how to get from here to there. I went with a recipe I found for Buffalo Wings Chicken Dip and used bottled Anchor Bar Buffalo Wing Sauce in Original and Hotter. It worked. Not quite what I wanted, but it worked.

Buffalo Wings Chicken Dip
1 lb chicken breasts, simmered in water in the microwave for 15 minutes (til done), then shredded. Reserve water for chicken stock for some other recipe.
3 oz Buffalo Wing Sauce (up to 2 times that, depending on taste)
4 oz cream cheese
8 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded

Mix cream cheese and sauce together. Add chicken and stir thoroughly. Put in 8x8 dish, sprinkle mozzarella on top. Bake in oven (350F) until mozzarella is melted and lightly browning on top.

Serve in bowls beside Olive Waffles - each person spreads on waffles just before eating.

The Olive Waffles is what started this all off. From M. Katzen's Vegetable Heaven, I wanted the olive waffles with something besides sour cream or the other condiments she suggested.

Olive Waffles
4 eggs, divided
1.5 T olive oil
2 c flour
.5 c whole wheat flour
.75 c chopped Kalamata olives
2 c buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder

Beat the egg yolks and olive oil together. Mix flours, baking soda and baking powder together. Add dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk until just wet. Stir in olives. Beat egg white to firm peaks, fold into batter. Bake in waffle iron.

I think this is a little light on oils, so I spritzed the irons with olive oil spray - my iron tends to stick, even though it is technically non-stick. Getting used every Saturday for years tends to do that to them, I guess.

I actually made two batches, one with the Original sauce and one with the Hotter. The one with the cast iron mouth complained the hotter wasn't hot enough and the one with the tender tummy complained that the Original was too hot. Can't win. We have just about half of it left over, so it's going on baked potatoes later this week.

I think I'll try it again with just shredded chicken and sauce - no cheeses. It was yummy, but a. we don't need all that cheese very often, and b. I think that would be closer to what I had my mouth mentally set for.

Friday, December 15, 2006

I can't do it. I just can't do it. I gave up many years ago on trying to do "Holiday Knitting". Or any other kind of "Holiday Needlework". The problem probably stems from the fact that I like to do large-ish pieces. Large ccs projects. Large items in knitting - shawls, sweater, blankets. These may not seem large to some people - after all if you sit down and do nothing else, you can whip them out in no time. Look at Miriam with her Icarus design - someone said she did one in 12 days. Look at me - 3 months later I finished it?

A common complaint (look anywhere in knitting blogland right now) is that projects get abandoned for the holiday knitting. Right - that would be me, setting aside some large project for something small. Then, after the holidays, do we jump right back at our abandoned project? Oh, no, something else pleases our eye or catches our attention and off we go. Then, some people (Juno for example) eventually go back to their abandoned projects. Sometimes that's me and sometimes it isn't.

A major problem that I have with unfinished projects is that if I leave them alone for a long enough time, my state-of-the-art advances to where I can't finish them. I have learned some new technique, some new ability, that I can't abandon because it is better, but which is totally incompatible with the old project. It's far better to start and then finish a project without running the risk of improving past it within the project. Consequently, I hate abandoning projects even for a while. I have too many projects that I can't let go of because they were seriously wanted, but which I can't finish because I can't get past my increased technique. I wouldn't hate the project if I had finished it and then moved up a notch; that would just be an acknowledgement that I had grown as a crafter. But I can't finish a project in what I now know is a lesser technique, even if I really wanted that project as a finished piece.

Consequently, I try not to abandon projects, even for holiday knitting. I still make things for people, if they want them. They get them when the pieces are done, regardless of the season. And for Christmas? A nice gift from King Arthur or Harry&David.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Weekend cooking

The cooking was very basic, but out of my rut, and definitely tasty. I started with a 4 pound boneless chuck roast. Brought it to room temperature, added Worcestershire sauce and Montreal steak seasoning. Oven at 550 F, then down to 350 F when the roast went in. 1.5 hours later, it was done for me, but a bit rare for the family. We have about 2/3 left for beef burritos later in the week.

A side dish of baby peas.

A side dish of banana fritters. This recipe originally came from the Pearl S. Buck Oriental Cookbook. I use 1/2 banana for each person and 1/2 banana more ,i.e. for my family of 4, I use 2.5 bananas. Unless of course the bananas are smaller or larger than usual, or I feel like more bananas, or...
1 T flour per banana, 1 tsp sugar per banana, a sprinkling of cinnamon or nutmeg.

Mash the bananas together, then stir in dry ingredients. Heat a nonstick skillet and melt 1 T butter. Drop spoonfuls of mix into the skillet (I like approximately 1 T at a time, but more is fine.) Brown on one side, flip and brown the other. Serve as is, or if you want to be fancy, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Friday, December 08, 2006


(you've been warned and I don't want to hear any complaints if you keep reading.)

I had a cold, then J had a cold, then S has a cold. K is waving all of us away from her and hiding in her room; she doesn't want to be next.

It snowed last night and some this morning. All lake effect snow - coming off of Lake Ontario. It was still snowing this morning and I saw that there was one single band of snow still coming off the lake - right over our town. We have a momentary burst of sun but I suppose it's time to go shovel the drive again.

The camera is not talking to the computer; I'm not sure why. It really doesn't matter as I seem to have hit a slump with the ending of Icarus. I have too many projects to start a new one, but none of the old ones immediately appeal. I'm tired of spinning silk, but I still have 3 oz to go. I started flicking corriedale fleece which is always fun, but not very pictureworthy. I'm almost finished with another red scarf, which is fun because I'm playing with different techniques and trying stuff out, but it isn't terribly in-process pictureworthy. I'll post a picture when I get it finished and the camera is willing to cooperate.

Mostly I have been playing with LibraryThing which may be the best thing yet for trying to get my books catalogued. It makes me happy.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Sombody's already pining for spring... Guess what I bought at spinning guild.
This is what happens when you pull your silk top apart just right after the heat has been turned on in the fall. You can't quite see it in the picture, but the little silk tendrils are in a hollow spheroid shape - lots of static electricity going on. Couldn't get a good picture of it, but right after they all lost contact with each other, the ends that are currently reaching toward each other were suddenly snapped back in cocoons around my hands.

And then we have an unwashed, unblocked, un-ends tucked in as of yet contribution to the red scarf project. Sort of a maroon-y burgundy red scarf. Twoxtwo rib all the way.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A meme I can get behind

Because it's all about a scientific experiment. Bloggers mention the experiment in their blogs (that would be here), beg others with blogs to participate (that would be you, in your blog), and ping technorati to register that fact.

He's tracing the path of the meme through the internet. He'll probably wind up like that child in England who requested the most postcards ever because he was terminally ill, wound up recovering and was still getting postcards 20 years later. The chain letter that would not die.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Wearing Icarus
The offspring, wearing the Icarus shawl. She's 5'3" and we took a generous tuck at the neckline when she put it on. Not a glamour shot, but if I wait for sunny days to take a pic, it may be a few at this time of year.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Icarus is Done Not just done, but done done. Washed, blocked, dry, ready for unpinning.
Pictures with the flash on a brown bedspread notwithstanding, this is burgundy colored, not brown.
I need blocking wires. Maybe on my Christmas list...

Friday, November 24, 2006


The knitting is done. The casting off is done. The sewing in of end and washing and blocking? Not so much so. Tomorrow after we get home. Then pictures, I promise.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Well! The feed definitely isn't working. Blogger's help is somewhat less than helpful - "yes we know we have a problem and we haven't been able to figure it out so here's a work around". Unfortunately their instructions on how to put the work around in are not exactly complete, so it's going to take me a few days to resolve the problem.

Struggling down the homestretch of Icarus, I've got one row and the bindoff to do. Will I finish today? Possibly - I was banished from the kitchen as there was serious grandmother/granddaughter bonding going on over the turkey gravy and sweet potatoes, and I got a bunch done while watching the parade on tv, followed by the Dog Show. The Pyr should have won. Dinner, a brisk walk, a nap and a cold drink of ice water later and I'm ready to tackle Icarus again. But not blogger just yet. One knotty problem at a time.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Well. I've switched over to blogger in beta and I can't tell if the feed is working. It doesn't seem to me that it is. Any opinions, yes or no?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

There's something about leaving my immediate family for a week and going off to help my extended family clean out a garage and tidy up part of a yard that doesn't lend itself to cooking intentionally. In fact, with the exception of setting out coldcuts for one meal, I did nothing that remotely resembled feeding anyone. We did have fun, for the most part. And the garage and yard look a lot better.

Home again, I've been picking up the reins in my own household. I was informed by S when I got home that I needed to hurry up and a. do some laundry and b. do some grocery shopping. I told him he looked neither hungry nor naked, but I have done both of those things.

Today's meal was soup and bread; a fitting meal in my opinion for a day which was overcast and gloomy, with fits of hard rain, up until sunset when the sky cleared off and let the setting sun shine through.

Healthy Sisters' Soup and Bean Works is a local group that teaches women with no business experience of any kind how to run a business of their own. They make darn good bean soup mixes. This one was Simone's Sumptuous Bean Soup . I soaked the beans overnight. I then put them in the crockpot with
1 7oz can of tomato sauce,
1 15 oz can of tomato chunks,
1/2 pound browned pork sausage,
1 pound browned ground beef,
the spices from the soup mix,
2 cups water and
3 cups vegetable bouillion.
This cooked on low all day and left a wonderful aroma. It made a wonderfully hearty almost stew.

This afternoon I put the ingredients for the bread in the bread maker (on dough setting).
Honey Whole Wheat Bread :
4 T butter
4 T honey (buckwheat for a dark rich flavor)
2 T wheat germ
1 C water
1 egg
1 1/2 c white whole wheat flour
1 3/4 c bread flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 T steelcut oats
1 T wheat gluten
2 T powdered buttermilk
1 T yeast

After the dough cycle ended, I let the dough rise again for 25 minutes in the bread pan and then baked at 350 F for 50 minutes.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Cooking with intention

Answer to previous question: Lemon Garlicious is sold at Wegman's groceries and its full name is Salamida's State Fair Lemon Garlicious. Salamida's sells at least two other marinades, but I don't care for those.

This time, it was for a potluck, so it's not a complete meal. However, the meat lover's lasagna must have been a hit since I didn't get to bring any leftovers home.

Meat Lover's Lasagna

1.3 pounds meatloaf mix (my grocery makes it 80%beef, 15% pork, 5% veal)
1 pound pork sausage (you can use turkey sausage)
1 package lasagna noodles
1 pound mozzarella cheese, grated
.25 pound provalone cheese, grated
.25 pound asiago cheese, grated
2 15 oz cans tomato sauce
1 15 oz can tomatoes
1 cup cottage cheese
2 tsp Penzey's Italian seasoning
1 can black olives, sliced (if you use presliced olives, use two of the little cans)

Heat the oven to 350 F. Put the tomatoes and the cottage cheese in the blender with the Italian seasoning and give it a whirl. Brown the meats, rinse and reserve. I like to layer the lasagna in the 13x9 pan in the following order: Lasagna, beef mix, blended tomato/cottage cheese, lasagna, half the mozzarella, olives, 1 can tomato sauce, lasagna, sausage, half the mozzarella, lasagna, 1 can tomato sauce, mixed remaining cheeses. Cover with foil and bake for 55 minutes, then uncover and bake for 5 or 10 minutes more til the cheese is lightly browned and bubbly.

Note: I don't pre-cook the lasagna noodles and I don't bother with the "no boil" noodles. It comes out fine.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Intentional cooking

Carolyn started a topic of "cooking on purpose", having gotten in a rut with family meals. My rut is a trifle less narrow than hers by description, but according to my family, not much less. I have certain easy favorites* that can be fixed quickly for those hectic evenings when 4 people are going in 5 different directions and as things get more hectic during the school year, we wind up eating these favorites more and more frequently. As complaints occur (as complaints will) that we have had something too often, I eliminate it from rotation for a while, but without replacing it with something else. This narrows the rut even more, to yet further complaints. Last year I instituted a rule that he who complained about a meal would cook the next one. This not only slowed the complaints down but improved the variation, so it wasn't all bad.

Last week I went to the farmer's market and bought a variety of things. One was a bunch of cranberry beans. I shelled them and then looked for something to do with them. Enduring Harvest had a recipe calling for cranberry beans specifically, but also 33 other ingredients which I didn't have on hand. Pffft. Maybe next time.

When K was toying with being a vegetarian this past summer, my mother sent her Vegetable Heaven. There's a recipe in there for Roasted Beans with Garlic and Olives. It calls for lima beans (which J won't eat), but says fresh fava beans can be substituted with good effect. I decided to try cranberry beans.

Roasted Beans with Garlic and Olives
3 cups cranberry beans, shelled, fresh (perhaps parboiled?)
3 T olive oil
1 heaping cup sliced green olives (I used italian giant unstuffed olives)
6 cloves garlic, slivered
2 tsp dried thyme

Put 2 T olive oil in the bottom of a 9 inch pan. Add beans, olives, garlic, thyme and remaining oil to pan; stir. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake in preheated 375 F oven for 50 minutes. Serve hot (or cold).

I wasn't entirely happy with the way the beans turned out which is why I may try parboiling them next time. The flavors were wonderful, but some of the beans were hard and crunchy. This may be because I shelled the beans a day before using them and they dried out a bit. Looking over some of the other bean recipes available, cooking briefly in water before adding to some other recipe seems to be a recommended procedure.

The total meal was:
Grilled chicken in Lemon Garlicious marinade (a marinade seemingly local to NY, think lemon and garlic in an oil base)
Roasted beans with garlic and olives
George Lang's Potato Bread with Caroway seeds from Beard on Bread, made with Yukon Gold potatoes, baked in a cast iron skillet.

I like to add just one new dish to a meal, so the chicken and potato bread are old favorites but ones we haven't had in quite a while.

* Favorites is defined by "my family will eat them and I can cook them without thinking about it, in 40 minutes or less"

Friday, October 27, 2006

Reading, reading

An Incomplete Education: 3,684 things you should have learned but probably didn't by Judy Jones and William Wilson. Wow. It took me two passes to finish this one off (I started it last spring) but it really isn't the sort of book you read cover to cover. Full of all sorts of trivia (my favorite kind of non-fiction book) about things that have danced on the periphery of my awareness for many years but on which I have never previously focussed my attention. Lots of fun, and somewhat educational. Although, except for those bits of trivia that really sunk in, it really only gives me a place to go find a piece of information again.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and Scary Stories 3, by Alvin Schwartz. Part of my new decision to read more of the "challenged books". When I looked over the list, I realized that 1. I've only read 21 of the books on the list* 2. I've only given my children 11 of the books on the list and 3. many of the books on the list are children's books written more recently that I have been reading children's books for myself**. The Scary Stories books are compilations of folk stories, urban legends and campfire tales. Some of the stories are ones I remember being told in camp before the counselors banned ghost stories as leading to inability to sleep and nightmares. The biggest objection on a personal level was to the illustrations - I can take a verbal description much better than the pictoral. It's not a book I would have enjoyed as a child, but some people like being scared. Not a book I would discourage my own child from reading unless it did give them nightmares.

Daddy's Roommate by Michael Willhoite. A picture book. An obvious magnet for those who would sweep people with differences under the rug. I suppose it has its place in some people's lives, but it struck me as being too much like early feminist fiction for girls: no particular point to the story except the point being hammered in. In Mr. Willhoite's defense I will say that it is difficult within the scope of a picture book to get much subtlety involved. Only the very best author/artist combinations seem to manage it well.

The Chocolate War by Richard Cormier. A "did not finish". A type of fiction I just can't deal with. I read the first two chapters and the last one. I don't like mean sadistic people and rarely manage to read books about them all the way through. Unfortunately, a lot of YA fiction seems to be based around this. I didn't like it as a "young adult" and don't care for it now.

The Will of the Empress by Tamora Pierce. An excellent addition to the Circle of Magic books. Probably destined to hit the "challenged books" list, but, too late, I've already handed it to my son to read.

Young Warriors: Stories of Strength, ed. by Tamora Pierce and Josepha Sherman. Short stories by some favorite authors and some new ones. Some were ok, some were good and a couple were great. My opinion about which were which would probably be different from anyone else's. Another book to hand to the offspring.

'Ware Hawk, by Andre Norton. How did I manage to overlook this one? Addition to the Witch World books. Not my favorite but fun.

The Mirror of Helen, by Richard Purtill. I had read the first two books of what are now labelled "The Kaphtu Trilogy" but not this one. Very enjoyable rendition of the story of Helen. I'll have to look into the "Lost Tales of Kaphtu" that seem to be new books by the same author.

*It's actually more than 21, but the list condenses series' by a single author into one entry; e.g. All the Harry Potter books are one entry.

** I have been reading children's books, but very selectively, mostly by particular authors; this is in contrast to my younger days where I pored over the entire children's shelf and was at least aware of most things even if not interested.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Comments on Rhinebeck

It's still a long drive over there. J's brother lives on the other side of the Hudson and down a ways. Their winery is looking better than ever. The small tasting room is open and we had fun admiring everything. We then scooted out of their way and headed over to Rhinebeck. I saw a few people I knew while I was there, but not many. It was a total zoo.

These pictures actually make it look like there was space between the people but that's only because I'm claustrophobic enough that I can't think about taking pictures in the middle of a mob; I'm too busy trying to breathe. Some of the trees had glorious color to them.

We admired alpacas and llamas.

We bought some soap, and a sheepskin ear muff for K. I admired some handpainted cashmere and silk but resisted. I just have too much stuff at the moment to add any more.

I did get a bunch of knitting done on the way and on the way back. Icarus has progressed through the second chart:

Yeah, I know. It's lace and you can't really see anything until it's blocked.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Good news and bad news

The good news is the two mince pies and 10 pounds of potatoes (mashed) are ready to go to the Harvest Festival dinner tomorrow. The bad news is we won't get to help eat them.

The bad news is I can't count and the good news is that I have discovered this before I went overboard with going to far on Icarus. Some two or three weeks ago I got it into my head (about the time that I had too many stitches to want to keep counting them over and over) that Icarus had a 10 stitch repeat in the top pattern. Well, it doesn't. It's a 12 stitch repeat. Which makes the picture just fine, all repeats present and accounted for. And I fortunately figured this out when I had only two extra rows, not rows and rows of extra rows which would have made me very sad. On the other hand, I now have the question of whether I would want it bigger or not. But given that (as already demonstrated) I can't count, particularly with a two week headache, I'm not messing with it. On to the border.

And on to Rhinebeck. I'm not a square because I didn't think we were going to get there and if we did get there I thought it would be on Sunday, but if we get there, and we probably will now, it will be on Saturday. Sometime. We're also going to visit the new winery that my husband's brother and wife just had their grand opening for. I've seen it in various stages of incompleteness, but they're open and we get to see it in all its glory. Stoutridge Winery in the Hudson Valley.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The cat had a good time.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

This weekend's weather was different: Rain. Clouds. Rain with snow. Blue sky with puffy clouds. Rain out of a blue sky. Clouds. More rain with snow. The weather changed on average every half hour. Not wonderful for S who spent the weekend camping in tents, but he only came home tired, cold and muddy, not discouraged or upset.
The weather this week appears to be about the same (maybe 15 degrees warmer) but spread out more. Yesterday was sunny, blue sky with puffy clouds. Today is flat grey light, a sky with no hint of blue, and a drizzly sort of rain that promises to last all day. The camera is not at all happy with the lighting, and even with its flash is giving me dull out of focus pictures.

This blob is Icarus. Moving into the homestretch of the plainish knitting, the rows are getting longer and longer. Only 300 stitches or so, but it's noticeable that I'm only getting a few rows in at a time. I was trying to cheat get a ballpark figure of how many repeats were needed before the border started. I counted repeats in the picture, counted my repeats and had to recount each several times. I finally came to the conclusion that the model was shorted by several repeats from the instructions; each repeat takes 10 stitches, there are apparently only 28 repeats shown on the model and the instructions call for 375 stitches before moving into the border. No big deal except that the finished shawl will be bigger than the model which is a good thing in my opinion. And yes, all of this fussing and calculating did take a good deal longer than just looking up the stitch count in the first place. You be hush.
I'm still making progress on the silk on the wheel, but it looks just like the silk on the wheel from earlier. This is silk/merino (50/50) which my sister gave me for Christmas last year. This is the first bit off the spindle and is going to a. take forever and b. be gorgeous. With shifting into winter mode, the spinning can go a little faster since the silk isn't sticking to my hands with humidity.

Friday, October 13, 2006


This is the rework of the previously mentioned Dale-in-progress. I ripped back to the top of the ribbing, added the row of 3x1 ribbing to encourage the transition to be a little more smooth and then proceeded onwards. I've given no hint of scale, but the ribbing was about 3 inches deep. I had about 2 or 3 more inches of knitting done originally, and as usual, the sight of knitting going in reverse is deeply painful to J. I assured him that I don't think this bit will be done in reverse again.

I am, however, procrastinating on recalculating the raglan seam lines. I realized when I was looking at the schematic that while the overall measurements of this sweater as designed are the same as the sweater I'm supposed to be replacing, the underarm cuts 3 inches higher. Somehow I don't think that this is going to be acceptable. He likes the way the old sweater fits and I am pledged to try to reproduce it. (In new warmer yarn and with a different but equally subdued pattern across the chest, of course. And the addition of a short zipper at the neck, which he thought was a cool idea but not cool enough to go to a drop shoulder model. ) This means I'm going to have to recalculate the raglan seam decreases. Well, maybe not today. After all I don't need those calculations until the acres of stockinette on the body (and the bottom part of the patterned bit on the body) and two sleeves are done. Why I've got loads of time.

And in the meantime, we can admire what's left of the bit of snow that dropped last night. The lone remaining sunflower looks sort of ok from a distance, but it has that fragile ragged look about it that I think means "frost damage". I haven't dared to look at the mums and the zinnias in the front yard since the sun hit them this morning.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Opinions wanted...

I started a sweater last year from the Dale Heilo (100% wool) and only got about 5 inches done (ribbing up in the round) before the heat and humidity forced it to be set down. I was not very consistent in my knitting, apparently, and was having gauge worries before I put it down. (6 stitches to the inch gauge for the pattern, and I was getting 5.75 to 6.5, depending on where I measured). Having picked it up again, I'm now getting spot on gauge but the difference in the past two inches vs. the previous 5 was quite evident and annoying.
So, what was I to do? Rip, of course. The yarn I took out from the past two days knitting was not particularly kinked, but the yarn that's been sitting for six months was. I put it in warm water for 10 minutes and then hung it to dry and the kinks are mostly gone.
The question: Should I skein and do the rest of the yarn so it's all been equally rinsed hung and dried?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Red Scarf Project is a subject dear to my heart, for no particular reason except that I was a very late bloomer when it came to wanting to leave the nest. Had I been in a position of having no back up, I'm sure I would never have made it. So, with that in mind, my first red scarf: Stats: Cascade 220 (superwash), 6 inches wide, 64 inches long, made up the pattern as I went along with help from BW Treasury 3.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Neighbors and Beginner Triangle

The neighbors are planning their lovely Christmas party again. It was a very nice party with the minor problem of The Gift Exchange. (Just for The Girls. I think I ranted enough about "The Girls" as a title last time.) Everybody has to bring a gift (Under $10) to exchange. They all (The Girls) whined about not being able to actually See the gift before they agreed to take it. All the gifts (mostly) were $30 to $40 which they had thriftily made Under $10 by buying them off the discount and closeout counters. Mostly at Walmart I think. I wasn't enthused.
I'm going to have to consider seriously what to take or if I'm going to bother. I was lucky and wound up with one of the few things I would have given house room to - a "purse" which makes a nice knitting bag. Most of them I would have had to ashcan - heavily scented stuff, guaranteed to give me a headache in 5 minutes or less.

The Triangle is finished

I started with two kinds of top. The multicolored is BFL that someone in the guild dyed. That was one ply, obviously variegated. The other ply was the cherry that I dyed, Rosemary top from the Falklands. The cherry colored solid is the same shade as the darkest red in the BFL.

I started knitting in late July, just before going on vacation. I ripped back quite a bit because I felt I wasn't going to have enough yarn and shortened the whole thing by one set of diamonds down the middle. Done side to side, the center set of diamonds I worked to, and which I removed, represented 3000 stitches. A wise decision, as the bit you see here is all that's left now that I'm done.

The Beginner's Triangle from Gathering of Lace is a very nice shawl, with an easy lace pattern which lends itself to mindless knitting. All but one of the return rows in the pattern are pure garter stitch. The pattern, once established, is easy to see and memorize. All in all, a good beginner pattern.
The only tricky bit was deciding where the middle was and starting my decreases, which were dictated not by the size of the shawl, but by the amount of yarn I had on hand. This is quite large enough. It relaxed quite a bit after washing, giving me another 4 or 5 inches of width and another 2 of depth. This is irrelevant in this shawl, but would be a matter of serious concern in a sweater from a similar yarn. Done vertically as most sweaters are, another 4 or 5 inches of length would be quite noticeable.
I finished the shawl on Saturday, washed and patted into shape to dry, and then wore it on Sunday. Several people at church had seen it in progress and were interested in seeing the final product.

I ran into my neighbor after church. "Why Elizabeth, that's just lovely. You should make another one and put it in the Gift Exchange at the party."

Thursday, September 28, 2006

This skein looks sort of like the skein in the last post, but it's really a new skein. Honest. It's really the second skein of unknown yardage and grist, awaiting measurement and a plan. Sometime. Mostly I was just tired of looking at the stuff and wanted it spun up and into the next phase of waiting for attention.
I was asked recently whether I spun for spinning's sake or whether I spun to have yarn to use and actually used it. The answer sort of is "both". I spin because I like to - it is a different process and product than the rest of my fiber activities. I usually don't start spinning with a project in mind, but often by the time I have the first skein done, a project has come to mind. This project often has to wait for a while because I have other projects in the knitting queue ahead of it. As long as I still look at that yarn and see that project as one I want to do, I keep the yarn, but it's in the knitting queue not the spinning queue now. If I look at the yarn and no longer see that project as one I want to do, there's no longer any point in keeping the yarn. About once I year, I purge the yarn closet. Skeins that are left over from finished projects (I believe I did mention overbuying for projects once or twice before), skeins that were from interesting spinning projects but which didn't result in yarn that elicited a desired knitting project, and skeins such as these from overpurchase of fiber wind up in a box to Manhattan. These particular skeins may very well wind up in hats meant for Dulaan, but if I don't get to them within a year or so, they'll wind up in a box elsewhere. I don't see any point at all in cluttering up my closet and my mind with unplanned for yarn; someone should use it for something useful.

This is a yarn that has no particular project in mind. It's spinning project, meant to stretch in a different direction and has been a great deal of fun. This is a three ply 100% Bombyx silk (Chasing Rainbows). (Obligatory dime picture below.)

This skein is about 380 yards and is approximately 2 ounces of fiber, so should be approximately 3040 ypp. Ok - that's well into the laceweight range. The second skein is in the works.

And then we have "Homespun" (a product name I truly despise), my version of same. Mine is alpaca and leftover silk single. The silk single is from the three-ply above. The alpaca was ripped through as a fat single (one of these fill a bobbin with poorly prepped fiber in 15 minutes or less deals). Plying took another 15 minutes. But! I don't have to look at the single or the fiber anymore, it will make a nice warm thick-thin cap for somebody which I will felt a little bit (I'll do something with it - I wouldn't foist this yarn off on anybody) and it was a nice temporary change from the fiddliness that is silk spinning.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Finally! I was beginning to think that my schedule and blogger's schedule were never going to coincide. I have pictures! First up is the Brown Sheep Wild Raspberry top that I started spinning up as a laceweight a while back (no fair going back through the blog to figure out how long a while is). When I got many yards of laceweight done, I quit. I have enough for Icarus, that is enough. So... wanting to be done with the rest of it, I spun it up quick and dirty. I now enough an unmeasured number of yards of approximately worsted weight that I will use in an unknown project. Sometime. Maybe. It is a never ending source of amusement and amazement, the difference in hand, drape and look that one can get by varying the style of spinning.
Then we have what I was clearing the decks of Brown Sheep to get to:
Chasing Rainbows silk. I have a number of silks (from various sources)that have been building up in the queue and I'm determined to get them done. This is the first one, popping out of the queue first by virtue of having been started and then left because I started it without finishing the then previous project and then starting another project because the silk was packed in the boxes and the spinning wheel wasn't, and then some other project came along... You get the picture. Three years later, here we are. This is the third bobbin. I'm preserving the color changes in large blocks and the thought is that I'm going to do this as a circular shawl, center out. I think the long repeats will make it reasonable for a lace shawl, since the color changes should not distract from the pattern. I'm dying to figure out how much yardage I have. Even at a 3 ply, this is going to be fairly fine. Just this bit represents 3 hours of spinning for me, and I'll have 8 or 9 hours in a finished bobbin. By contrast the worsted weight in the picture above represents 2 hours of spinning (one for each ply) and less than half an hour of plying, with a bobbin that was physically full each time.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

It must be some sort of Murphy's corollary - I have time and ideas and am ready to post pictures and babble about them. So, what does the camera say? "Please change batteries". And stubbornly refuses to do anything until I follow directions. Do I have any batteries ready that go in the new camera? Don't be silly.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Once upon a time (in California, so it was many years ago) I bought 3 books all at the same time about knitting lace. One was Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls by Martha Waterman, one was The Lacy Knitting of Mary Schiffmann by Nancy Nehring, and one was Shetland Lace by Gladys Amedro. I can tell you this now, but for some years, I couldn't. I didn't remember.
In 2000, we moved from CA to OR. I bought these books about a month before we moved and started knitting one of the shawls. These shawls are not charted, just written out, and Ms Amedro used her own notation so it took learning that notation to get started. You start with the border and knit repeat after repeat until it is long enough. I had 82 of 84 repeats finished. The knitting bag was in the car. The car was broken into the week before we left CA and the bag (including contents) was stolen, apparently to carry along the other stuff taken from the car. I'm sure having a radio stuffed in on top of the knitting did it no good.
I was extremely bummed out losing my knitting with that many repeats done. I was also extremely busy trying to get the house ready to sell and the stuff packed up to move to OR and my children were 7 and 5 at the time, still needing a great deal of attention at this stressful period of time. I did not run right out to replace the book.
I moved to OR, got settled into the new house, got a new job, all that lovely stuff. I started unpacking books. I could only find one of the books (the Waterman). Which book was the book I lost? (And why couldn't I find the other book, or a few other books of a similar nature?) The local store didn't have any of them so that I could look at it. What was the name of it? You have to understand this was a couple of years later and I wasn't concentrating on the problem, just idly wondering.
Then, we moved again, from OR to NY. When unpacking in NY, I suddenly came upon a box that was oddly packed. There were a few things on top, a ton of packing paper, and a set of books on the bottom. My missing knitting books, and oh, yes, it was the Mary Schiffmann book which was the second book, but what was the third one?
Today I stumbled across on a blog entry that mentioned Brora Black out of the Amedro book on Shetland Lace. Bingo! I'm so happy.

Of course, it's out of print and nobody has a copy that I can even get a relative price off of...
Morning sky

Sunday, we went and watched rockets. This is one of J's taking off - a model of a Canadian Arrow. He had fun playing with the new camera, getting the rockets just as they lifted. You can see the flame spurting out of the bottom.

We go down to Geneseo, to the field owned by the 1941 Historic Air Group, who graciously allows the rocket clubs to use their space. This time, HAG was having their fall barbecue/corn roast and people were flying in to get some. There was a constant stream of little planes coming in and going out and each time they went over the field, the rockets had to stop. (reasonably enough). This was complicated this time by the wind - just enough of it that if the planes came from the west, we couldn't hear them coming. We were having to be extra vigilant.
There is a B17 that has apparently taken up residence at the field. It went out once - making a loud coughing noise on take off but apparently not serious enough to make the pilot abort the take off. One engine sounded off tune after that, but it wasn't enough to stop him from buzzing the field and flying circles for a while. It got interesting when we noticed that a Cesna was taking off just as the B17 was setting up for the approach to land. The Cesna apparently didn't see him ? or thought he had more time? We don't have a radio at the rocket site so we don't know what was said, but that Cesna sure took off in a hurry and banked way right just after take off in a way I've not seen done at that airport before. The B17 landed without incident after that. Someone said the airport isn't controlled, so I suppose the pilots have to work it out among themselves.
We also saw a plane with Coast Guard markings take off, among all the rest. It was a two seater biplane I had been admiring on the ground and I was amused to note as the pilot got in the front seat that he definitely stepped on the wing where it said "No Step". I had been wondering just how a person got into the plane with the contortions indicated by the "Step" and "No Step" markings on the side of the plane.
I got some knitting done while I was there (big surprise, eh?). I always get comments on what I'm doing, particularly if I've taken a spindle. I told one fellow I saw no reason not to practice my hobby while watching John practice his. He sighed and said he wished his wife felt the same way.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Trying again
Shawls: This is the Beginner Triangle Shawl from GOL, done in handspun and the close up picture is much truer to color than the one with the flash. One ply of the yarn is a dark red, the other ply is a variegated red/orange/yellow. The whole is soft and cushy in the hand. I'm not sure if I'm running out of yarn. Theoretically I have enough, but in actuality? Then we have Icarus in progress. Lovely mindless knitting in handspun Brown Sheep top laceweight. I don't care for the 15% mohair content; someday I will remember this before I buy stuff rather than after. It makes the yarn a trifle wirey in the fashion I have spun it, but it does control the ends enough that I don't find it itchy. Everything's a tradeoff donchaknow.
This, on the other hand (while not yet yarn, much less a shawl), I expect to be nothing but softness incarnate. Chasing Rainbows bombyx/merino. It arrived in the box with my shawl returned from Spindlicity - a consolation prize one supposes. I consider myself properly consoled.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Things that make me crabby:
1. Having blog posts vanish into the ether just as I hit "publish".
2. Having people drive along at 2 miles per hour looking for a parking spot they can get their honking big SUV into. (Ok, so I drive a honking big stretch minivan on occasion. I know how to park it without having to test park 3 times before finally pulling into a space and a half in the empty section of the parking lot and then having to spend five minutes backing and filling to make it come out right.)
3. Having the receptionist at the Drs. office tell me someone will call me within 48 hours about a form she was supposed to hand me on the spot, necessitating a return trip and a new parking fee on my part.
4. Having my children pop their heads in every two minutes: Can I have the computer yet?
5. Not knowing whether I have enough yarn to finish a project. I overbuy just to avoid this one.

Due to #1 and #4, I'm crabby in a big way at the moment. I was going to show you reasonably lovely pictures of shawls but it will need to wait. I'm going to go knit faster and see if I can get out of #5 or if I'll need to rip back.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

From the sogginess and heat of the east coast to the sogginess (relative) and coolness of the Oregon coast was a big enough jump; moving from there to the 95 F and 0% humidity of Boise Idaho has been a huge change. Can you say summer time vacation? I brought two shawls with me to work on; one is lace weight and springy, no memory for stitches at all. Once I drop stitches, there's not much help for it but to rip. I dropped a section of 6 stitches last night - can you say Ouch? I couldn't. I just shuddered, trapped the miscreants and put it away. Maybe tomorrow. The other is the Beginner Triangle from GOL - it's on the downhill slide - every row is shorter than the previous and moving along quickly. Someday I'll have pictures. Shawls and scenery. But there's more scenery to get through between now and then - Craters of the Moon, Yellowstone, the Great Salt Lake, Yosemite, San Francisco...

Thank you for all the kind thoughts about Bitsy. 17+ years is a long time. She never was a very snuggly kitty, but she had her moments and we will miss her.

Friday, August 11, 2006


Bits O'Grey

March 1989 - 11 August 2006

AKA Bitsy, Bits, B-Cat and The Squeaker.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

More summer reading

Checking out the library's "new" shelf, I happened upon and a Bottle of Rum: History of the New World in 10 Cocktails, which I had been intending to read, and The Girls Who Went Away, which I had never heard of before. Both extremely readable and quite interesting.

and a Bottle of Rum is a history of rum (no duh) which involves the history of the islands where it originated and the history of the US as it involves rum. My interest in history of England or the US ended, when I was in school, about 1600. Anything after that was too new to interest me. Consequently, as a an adult, I am constantly surprised and intrigued with those books that attract my attention which introduce me to the history of the US after 1600. This is one of those books. My knowledge of the beginnings of the American Revolution has been limited to what 11th grade American History managed to get into my head, i.e. the British imposed the Stamp Act and a tax on tea, out of the spitefulness of their hearts and we obviously stood up for ourselves and said we objected. Right. Who knew there was a Sugar Act before that, and even before that the Molasses Act, both of which had to do with other British colonies protecting their turf? Well obviously, plenty of people must have known this and obviously I didn't. (Well, I've already confessed my complete ignorance on the subject.) It also explains in later chapters a great deal more that fits in with what I learned about Susan B. Anthony when I was reading up on her a year or so ago, and why we had the Great Experiment. Very interesting reading.

I suppose I could do some serious reading on American History and quit treating the subject like a huge jigsaw puzzle, but there is a certain pleasure to be found in stumbling across new pieces.

The Girls Who Went Away discusses a much more recent portion of US history - the girls of the 40s and 50s who became pregnant, usually out of wedlock, and who gave up their children for adoption. The author has done an oral history study, talking with women who are willing, and sometimes eager, to talk about their experiences in being birth mothers. I found this a very difficult book to read, not because it was badly written (it isn't), but because it was very emotional. The people being quoted were emotional, and I became so in reading their stories. The historical and social environment that lead up to so many (comparatively speaking) young women surrendering their children for adoption is something I had never really studied before, and yet so much of it resonated with my girlhood (growing up in the 60s and early 70s) and resonates today with the conservative element trying to push us back to the 50s. I have read of the difficulties that adoptees had in dealing with their adoption, and obviously there has been a big push to open records so that they may learn their genetic and cultural heritage. This is the story of the other side of the coin - women who were forced by circumstances, their families, their position in their society, into giving up their children when what they wanted was simply support in keeping their children. Obviously just part of the story - many of the women wanted to talk because the events they went through caused them such pain, but still a valid portion of the history of those times.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Someone passed this along. It's called The Size of the World, but I like Perspective better.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Katy Shawl Questions and Variations

Katy 1 was done in handspun. Looking at it closely again, I think I goofed when I said 1 ply corriedale - I think it actually was 2 ply and 1 ply silk. It is approximately fingering/sport weight yarn, I used a #4 US needle, and the whole shawl weighs approximately 185 grams. Using a very conservative number on generic fingering length, that should be approximately 1000 yds, but was probably less than that, more like 7 or 800. ( Calculation is necessary because a. I didn't keep the leftover yarn or if I did I can't find it, b. This was a seat of the pants creation to start with, and I didn't even do the minimal record keeping I now do.) If I were to do this again, I'd probably allow myself 1000 yds just because I'm conservative like that.

Katy 2 was done in Jaeger Trinity(using #7 US needles), which comes in 50 gram balls, 218 yards each. (see above lack of records) Weighing the thing now, it's 196 grams. Logic would say, I used 4 balls completely. I bought 6 or 7 to start with to make sure I had enough and had a bunch left over. If I were doing it again now I'd start with 5 balls (or maybe six because I like to overbuy and hate worrying about running out. Consult your panic level on the subject of running out. Believe me, you don't want to get down to the end of this border and decide you have to rip it out and make the thing shorter.)

Katy 1 variation: Let line 6 read: k3, k2, (yo,k2tog,k3) 5 times, yo,k2tog, k1, k3. ( 36). This does not make allowances in the full pi stitch count for the border stitches and consequently (since these stitches are not doubled at the increase rows) the total stitch count at the end is much less, leaving you with a half pi. This will require adjustments in the number of repeats on pattern rows, and may affect how many stitches are odd at the ends of such rows. It will also affect the number of repeats of the border pattern.
Also, I didn't think the shawl was long enough and didn't want to double the stitches again, so I did an extra set of pattern (repeat rows 34-41) at row 58 before going on into the repeat called for at row 58 as listed.

Katy 2 variation: I find that with a worsted cotton yarn, the fabric of this pattern looks better if the motifs are slightly farther apart. I'll post about that in another entry.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Katy Shawl
1. Cast on 9 stitches.
2. Knit in front and back of all stitches (18).
3. Knit across.
4. Knit in front and back of all stitches (36).
5. K3, P30, k3. (establish 3 stitch garter stitch border)
6. K3, k2, (yo, k5) 5 times, yo, k3, k3. (42) (increase stitches so that 6 border stitches are removed from count of stitches to be increased later).
7. K3, p36, k3.
8. K3, knit in front and back of next 36 stitches, k3. (78)
9. K3, P72, k3.
10. K3, k3, (yo, ssk, k4) 11 times, yo, k2tog, k1, k3.
11. K3, p72, k3.
12. K3, (k1, k2tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk) 12 times, k3.
13. K3, p72, k3.
14. Knit across.
15. K3, p72, k3.
16. K3, knit in front and back of next 72 stitches, k3. (150)
17. K3, p144, k3.
18. K3, k3, (yo, ssk, k4) 23 times, yo, ssk, k1, k3.
19. K3, p144, k3.
20. K3, (k1, k2tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk) 24 times, k3.
21. K3, p144, k3.
22. K3, k6, (yo, ssk, k4) 23 times, k3.
23. K3, p144, k3.
24. K3, k4, (k2tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk, k1) 23 times, k2, k3.
25. K3, p144, k3.
26. – 29. Repeat rows 18 – 21
30. K3, k2tog (yo, k3, yo, sl1-k2tog-psso) 23 times, yo k3 yo k1 k3
31. K3 p145 k3
32. K4, knit front and back next 143, k4
33. K3, p288, k3
34. K3, k3 (yo, ssk, k4) 47 times, yo, ssk, k1, k3
35. K3, p288, k3
36. K3, k1, (k2tog, yo k1, yo, skk) 48 times, k3
37. K3, p288, k3
38. K3, k6 (yo, ssk, k4) 47 times, k3
39. K3, p288, k3
40. K3, k4 (k2tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk, k1) 47 times, k2, k3
41. K3, p288, k3
42. – 49 Repeat rows 34 – 41
50. – 57 Repeat rows 34-41
58. – 61 Repeat rows 34 – 37
62. K3, k2tog (yo, k3, yo, sl1-k2tog-psso) 47 times, yo k3 yo k1 k3
63. K3, p289, k3 Note: You may stop here and add edging, OR continue in pattern until shawl is as long as desired.
64. k4, knit front and back of next 287, k4 (582 stitches)
65. Repeat in pattern.
The depth of the edging will be approximately half the depth of the section between rows 32 and 64.
When you have the depth of shawl that you want:
1. K3,yo (k2tog, yo) across, k3
2. K3, p across, k3
Repeat rows 1 and 2 two more times, then knit across.

You will now begin border. Keep stitches on circular needle. Using the yarn attached to the body of the work, cast on 19 stitches. Using a single straight needle or dpn of the same diameter of the circular needle, knit those 19 stitches. Knit those 19 stitches again. You are now ready to start edging pattern. On each ODD row, you will knit 2 together using the last stitch of edging and the next stitch of the shawl edge, thereby using one stitch of shawl edge for each 2 rows of edging pattern.
Note: If you start edging after row 63, you will have 42 repeats of the edging; if after row 64, you will have 82 repeats of edging..
Edging pattern: (Snail Shell Edging)
1. K5, p1, yo, p2tog, k8, yo, k2tog, k2tog (19 stitches)
2. K3, yo, k2tog, k5, k2tog, yo k1, yo, ssk, k2, (yo) 2 times, k2 (21 stitches)
3. K3, p1, k1, p2tog-b, yo, p3, yo, p2tog, k6, yo, k2tog, k2tog (21 stitches)
4. K3, yo, k2tog, k3, k2tog, yo, k2, k2tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk, k2, (yo) 2 times, k2. (23 stitches)
5. K3, p1, k1, p2tog-b, yo, p3, yo, p2tog, p2, yo, p2tog, k4, yo, k2tog, k2tog (23 stitches)
6. K3, yo, k2tog, k1, (k2tog, yo, k2) two times, yo, ssk, k1, yo, ssk, k2, (yo) two times, k2 (25 stitches)
7. K3, p1, k1, (p2tog-b, yo, p1) two times, yo, p2tog, p1, yo, p2tog, p2, yo, p2tog, k2, yo k2tog, k2tog (25 stitches)
8. K3, yo, k3tog, yo, k2, k2tog, yo, k1, k2tog, yo, k3, yo, ssk, k1, yo, ssk, k2tog, (yo) 2 times, k2tog (25 stitches)
9. K2, p1, k1, p2, yo, p2tog, p1, yo, p3tog, yo, p1, p2tog-b, yo, p2, p2tog-b, yo, k3, yo, k2tog, k2tog (25 stitches)
10. K3, yo, k2tog (k2, yo, ssk) 2 times, k3, k2tog, yo, k2, sl1-k2tog-psso, (yo) 2 times, k2tog (24 stitches)
11. K2, p5, yo, p2tog, p1, p2tog-b, yo, p2, p2tog-b, yo, k5, yo, k2tog,k2tog (24 stitches)
12. K3, yo, k2tog, k4, yo, ssk, k2, yo, k3tog, yo, k2, k3tog, yo, k2tog,k1 (22 stitches)
13. K3, p1, k3, yo, p2tog, p1, p2tog-b, yo, k7, yo, k2tog, k2tog (22 stitches)
14. K3, yo, k2tog, k6, yo, k3tog, yo, k2, k3tog, yo, k3tog (19 stitches)

When you have one stitch of shawl left, use last stitch in knitting 2 rows plain and bind off.
Crochet a row of single crochet along the first 9 stitches to give some firmness to this area and blend into the border. (These 9 stitches can also be folded together and sewn if your yarn thickness does not make this undesirable). Weave in ends.
Katy Shawl John & Elizabeth Osborn
© 8/1/2006aeosborn@earthlink.netCopyright 23 April 2005
Please do not distribute with permission, or without this copyright notice.
These aren't new creations, but I'm trying to gather up my pictures into a single file folder and thought you might like to see them again. The grey is Beastly Waves. Two different bumps of Beast had very different colors in them, which worked nicely in feather and fan.

This was the first version of the Katy Shawl. One ply brown Corriedale, one ply blue/purple/green silk. The camera picks up the silk more than is really visible in person - the effect is more subtle. It's a half-pi shawl with snail shell edging. Someday I'll finish oroofing the pattern and post it, unless someone wants to proof it for me.

This is the Katy Shawl Mark 2, done in a commercial cotton/silk/polyamide, somewhat bulkier than the original, with slight modifications, like not forgetting to adjust for taking the border stitches out of the body stitch count, which was something I intended to do it in the first version but didn't. It didn't bother me because the first version was a mindless knitting project for meetings, done in a well-what-would-look-good-next sort of fashion.

Stripes was done in spindle spun BFL, dyed by one of the members of the local guild. The pattern was a variation of the Rebozo from Folk Shawls.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Summer Reading

It's hot. And Humid. Every summer I remember why I moved away from the East Coast. I love the green of summer in the east - the gold of summer in CA never really seemed right. I love the winters, even when I'm cursing the snow and ice as I drive. I don't mind the cold. But I hate the humidity of summer.

The book list has been interesting. After a long interlude of old favorites (which don't count for counting purposes), I've gone back to reading some new books. Some of the books get to count (I finished them) and some don't.

Bill Bryson: Notes from a Small Island, Neither Here nor There, and A Walk in the Woods. The first two count, the last doesn't. A tremendously funny writer. I started with A Walk in the Woods and was alternately overtaken with hysteria and horror. The thought of setting out on the Appalachian Trail as ill-prepared as these two men seemed to be was totally appalling. His description of their first few weeks of hiking was absolutely side-wrenchingly funny and their dismay when they realized that all the work they had put in only amounted to 2 inches on the overall map of the AT was something I read and re-read to anyone who would hold still. He intersperses his humor with some serious considerations for the future of the AT and the general environment which I found very thought provoking and will necessitate some further research on my part.

Notes from a Small Island and Neither Here Nor There are completely entwined in my mind. I kept putting one book down and picking up the other because I could only find one of them at a time. Reading these made me understand his approach to the AT. He always goes hiking long distances on the spur of the moment without any particular (discussed) preparation. The first book is travel around Britain and the second is travel around Europe. Both of them alternated side-splitting humor with thoughtful discussion of the environment he found himself in.

Linda Berdoll: Mr Darcy Takes a Wife and Darcy and Elizabeth: Nights and Days at Pemberley. (I've gotten into reading Pride and Prejudice fanfic.) This is probably the best of it that I've tried so far. I found the language a trifle strained at times, but the books were good (and bawdy). The first one was better than the second, but there you go. Fun summer reading.

Carrie Bebris: Pride and Prescience. A mystery - reasonably well written. I'll need to try it again another time - I go in and out of reading mysteries and at the moment I'm not even into re-reading mysteries I know and like. I wasn't in the mood to do this one justice.

I'm not much of a fanfic reader as a rule, but I have gotten sucked into this genre just a bit recently on this one subject. It's rather interesting to see the difference between writing a book and establishing the characters and writing a book where you are absorbing already established characters. Of the ones I've read so far, Linda Berdoll has done the best job of explaining and expanding on the established characters.

Allegra Goodman: Intuition a novel. This is a well-written, seemingly well-researched novel about the world of medical research at a university. I thought it a good book but it makes me thankful that I don't have to live in that environment. I'd never make it.

Diane Duane: Stealing the Elf-King's Roses. I hate the cover of the book. I remember when the book came out and I didn't buy it then because of the cover. Unfortunate. It really is a good book. I bought it this time sight unseen, which was my good fortune. Fantasy, set in an alternate universe, complex and well thought out as most of her books are. A good read.

Naomi Novik: His Majesty's Dragon, Throne of Jade and Black Powder War. Three most excellent books. Very readable. Set in Napoleonic times, she seems to have a very good grasp of history and character development, and a very good ability to add a completely new element (dragons) into the set history. I borrowed the first one from the library, on recommendation from an email list. I couldn't wait for them to fetch the next two on library loan; I went and bought them. I'll be waiting for the next one in this series - I want to see where she takes it.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

It figures. The first day in days that I've been moved to post and there's a scheduled outage. We'll see if this goes through - I'm not posting pictures (big surprise there) so it may.

Spinning Guild

I've not gotten to guild in months; counter scheduling by the tweens has been rough on my outings. I forget when I don't go just exactly how energized I come home from this monthly outings. I wasn't even particularly interested in this month's topic - I have done KA and EE dyeing and I probably will do KA and EE dyeing again but I'm not interested right now. There weren't that many people there, probably only 20 or so, which given that the guild has over 100, usually averages 30-40 at a meeting and has 60-70 on really special occasions, made this a small meeting. It was hot (no AC) and humid (my silk didn't spin after the first 5 minutes) and my conversations didn't particularly sparkle (gee it's hot, my silk isn't spinning well, is yours?) K was bored silly aside from mastering the basic crochet stitch.

And yet, for all the seeming inanity of any particular meeting, there is a power in getting together in guild with other people who share a passion. I always come home from guild ready to spin, ready to look through my stash, ready to remember what inspired me about any given purchase and what my plans are for it. There is an inspiration to be found in simply being in a room with people to whom I don't need to explain myself. They 'get' why I spin, why I play with fiber, why I knit or crochet, no explanations needed.

I do enjoy spinning in public, teaching people one at a time, about fiber, about spindles, about how it used to be. My children are vaguely proud, vaguely embarassed by me (they are a tween and a teen*, after all); my constant spinning or knitting or crocheting wherever I am, the attention it inevitably draws. I don't do it to draw attention, I do it because (as mentioned previously) it gives me patience and gives me the ability to pay attention.

The guild here is large, as guild go, over 100 spinners who have plunked down their $12 to belong to this guild, with a separate weaver's guild (many of whom are spinners as well) and yet another fiber arts guild with weavers and spinners. There is some cross-membership between the guilds, but only some, and there must be still other spinners unaffiliated with any guild. So, perhaps 350 or 400 people in the Greater Metropolitan Area spin? Out of 1.03 million people - that's .039 percent. My chances of running into another spinner on any given day are pretty slim.

So, I find it energizing to go to guild. The chance to discuss nuances of spinning, rather than repeating, once again, yes, it's a spindle, people used to use them all the time, no, the sheep wasn't red, I dyed it before I started spinning. The internet has been my gateway to spinning, my lifeline that led me into a new and wonderful place, but the guild has been the battery pack that gives it new oomph.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Raining, pouring and perfectly quiet - It's raining outside, not inside, ever since the new shower part arrived.

Actually, to be perfectly precise, the new shower parts. Should I think it significant that the new shower part is a slightly different shape, contains different connectors at the four corners, and is accompanied by a few other small parts never seen before in this house?

Can you say "redesign"?

I was sure you could.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Murphy's Law

If anything can go wrong, it will.

MacGillicudy's Corollary

At the worst possible time.

Some part of the shower handle valve in the master bath is not working. So far, we've replaced the valve and the o-rings. Logic would say, there's only one other part that could be the problem: the pressure regulator. The resident plumber left on Saturday for the week - the corollary would seem to say this would be the perfect time for the problem to completely go haywire. Fortunately, the corollary failed just enough to allow the shower to fail just before he left. He had enough time to muddle around with it, leave me instructions about who to call and what to tell them, and to set it up so that instead of having to turn off all water to the house, we only have to turn off the hot water.

On the other hand, this is a holiday weekend. Instead of being able to call for a part to be sent on Saturday to be received on Monday and installed by me (following the resident plumber's demo of the fix), I get to wait until Wednesday. On Wednesday, the manufacturer's hot line will be open again for taking calls. I called every local supplier and each of them regretfully stated that a. they don't stock that part and b. if the manufacturer isn't taking my calls, they aren't taking the suppliers' calls either. The best they can offer is to come turn off my water for me. Well thanks ever so, we have managed that part. Thank goodness for the membership in the Y for the summer - at least I won't be taking cold showers for a week.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Postscript to the Bavarian Cream Pie - extra strawberry cream is most excellent on Sunday Morning Banana Waffles.
Just saying.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Kodak falcon eyases have fledged and probably won't return to their nestbox. A group of people go down every day and fledgewatch from the bridge, keeping an eye on the fledgelings as they learn to fly and then to hunt. One of people blogs at:

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Summer's here.

The strawberries are ripe and it's time for Strawberry Bavarian Cream Pie. This can be made with any berry; strawberries or raspberries are recommended. I honestly can't tell you how it tastes with raspberries. It's rich enough I only make it once a year and strawberries are ripe before raspberries, so...

1 quart strawberries, whole -- hulled
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons gelatin powder, unsweetened (1 packet Knox gelatin is 2 tsp)
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons water -- boiling
1 tablespoon lemon juice -- optional
2 cups whipped cream
1 pie crust -- 10 inch pie pan
Mix up pie crust (I like to use 1-1/2 c flour, 1/3 c nut flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 c shortening). Chill dough.
Crush hulled strawberries. Add sugar. Let stand for 1/2 hour.
Roll out pie dough (10 inch pie pan is best; you'll still have filling left over) and bake pie shell at 400 for 10 -12 minutes. Let cool.
Soak 2 t gelatin powder in 3 T lukewarm water.
Stir in 3 T boiling water until dissolved.
Stir into berries, addiing lemon juice if desired.
Cool gelatin mix. When about to set, fold in lightly 2 c whipped cream.
Pour strawberry cream into pie shell. Chill for 8-12 hours.

The extra can go in small single custard dishes or a single dish for scooping from later. It can be eaten at any time, but might be better for several hours of chilling.

This has, of course, a bazillion calories per serving, most of them fat calories, but I don't recommend trying to rescue it from itself. Just make it only once a year.
It was quicker and easier to tink the whole damn thing. Suffice it to say, the Hyrna is back on track and making progress again. Slow progress, to be getting slower as each row is more than 300 stitches and will be much more than that when finished.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Why do people who don't spin/knit/ weave/crochet/ sew/whatever think that what spinning/ knitting/ weaving/ crocheting/ sewing/ whatevering takes is patience? Patience is what it takes to watch your child do something slowly and clumsily in 3 minutes when you could do it in 15 seconds flat. Patience is what it takes to wait (and wait and wait) at the doctor's office while they don't call your name. Patience is what it takes to wait at the gym (or the soccer field or the baseball field or the music store) while your kid has practice or a lesson. Patience is what it takes to not scream on a 10 hour driving trip when your kid just asked 'are we there yet' for the 15th time and you still have 8 hours to go.

It might take patience to learn to knit or sew or whatever, but after that knitting or sewing or crochet or spinning is what gives me patience to do all of the above. Not a bad return on investment.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Razzafratza.... Where's Yosemite Sam when you need some really good cussing?

Somehow, in the heat of knitting and watching the CHAMP car race on Sunday, I managed to screw up a line on my Hyrna. Now, each line has two distinct halves. I screwed up the first half (instead of k1, yo, k2, k2tog, yo I managed to k1, yo, k2, yo, k2tog, yo, k2 and went on from there). How I managed to NOT NOTICE THIS at the time, I have no idea, but apparently when I got to the midpoint, I reset and got the second half right. I discovered this after the return trip when I got to the end, some 600 stitches later.

It should be possible, one would think, to just tink back on that side, reknit those stitches and then refinish the purl row. Yes, it is possible, but my tension was different. I had too little yarn to finish the row and now I have too much. So, I'm slowly working my way back across, evening out the tension in the stitches as I go.

Let me just say, it will work. But it would have been quicker and probably easier to just tink the whole damn thing to start with.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Camporee! Whee! It wasn't raining. It was too hot. 225 girls, women and men in a perfectly lovely campground on the side of a hill (everything was either up or down) with too many mosquitoes (scritch, scratch) and a lovely cool breeze all day even when it was too hot. The cots didn't suck, the campfire was wonderful, the girls had a good time. We had a nice time with the activities and the hike we took in the evening was a good one.

Question: If the parents had to sign a special release ahead of time to allow the girls to have facepaint put on, why on earth did they tie dye shirts without gloves or notice to the parents? There were some pretty purple hands going home.

We hibernated on Sunday. The temp was up over 90 and as I may have mentioned once or twice, anything over 75 makes me melt. Today is a more reasonable 80 with rain showers.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Odds and ends

It's been a peculiar week. We went on Saturday (KIP day - I had my shirt on) to the Aquarium at Niagara Falls. Nice little aquarium. The subject of knitting in public came up and one of the other mothers said "Well, it's nothing new for her. She's ALWAYS knitting. She even knitted through Intermurals." (Well - Duh! Sitting through 1.5 hours of supervising 3 boys bowling, or 1.5 hours of watching other people supervising 12 kids playing tennis?) Another woman came out with that standard "I just couldn't knit. I don't have the patience" and I gave her my standard " I don't have the patience not to knit". She gave me sort of a double take...

I need to update my list of books read - One Good Knight by Mercedes Lackey was quite amusing. I'm stuck in Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass - don't know if I'll finish it. I'm in the middle of A Walk in the Woods and Notes from a Small Island and Neither Here nor There, all by Bill Bryson. My MIL lent me all three and I keep being able to find only one at a time, not the one I was most recently reading. All have hysterically funny moments in them, as well as, WHAT on EARTH were you THINKING? moments.

I found a copy of Ha!Ha! 24 Great Comedy Songs on the discount rack at the grocery store. I've never heard Anything You Can Do all the way through before, or anything but the title of I'm My Own Grandpa. It's got Flat Foot Floogie, which is one of those serendipitous moments as I was just watching a Looney Tunes cartoon which referred to this song and the commentary mentioned which song was being referred to. (The more period music I know, the funnier the Looney Tunes cartoons are because many of the musical motifs used were from contemporary music that emphasizes the action on the screen. And yes, I'm a Looney Tunes junky.)

I've been trying to get caught up on my sleep since the weekend (overnight at the aquarium with 15 Cub Scouts) and moving books on Tuesday morning followed by moving dirt on Tuesday afternoon left me with muscle twitches that interrupted sleep Tuesday night. I staggered around like a zombie Wednesday. I did manage a nap Wednesday afternoon but that merely changed the quality of my zombieness as I moved into that state where one's head is stuffed with cotton wool and nothing really processes. A reasonable night's sleep last night left me with merely a headache this morning and a desire to avoid doing anything useful. Maybe a swim will help.

Monday, June 05, 2006

There is that old saying: "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." When I was younger, I thought of this saying as a sort of metaphysical "The universe will move a teacher to your location as soon as you are really ready." I have come to believe somewhat the opposite as I have grown older: I believe that teachers are all around us, giving us information all the time. When the student is ready, they hear the information they need. Until the student is ready, the information doesn't stick.
It's a variant on that other phenomenon that once you hear about one xyz, you suddenly hear about xyz in all sorts of contexts. It really just means that you have become sensitized to xyz.
The relevance? Well, a short while back, June of Twosheep posted a lovely entry on the subject of keeping one's grist constant through the simple use of an index card. Place several wraps of a singles around an index card and fasten them down under tension. Then, as you are spinning, every so often lay a current bit of singles between the ones on the card and see/feel how it looks.
June credits Elaine Benfatto with telling her about it, and it is very possible that I was on a list to which Elaine posted this idea before; it sounds vaguely familiar. But when I (may have) heard this before, I wasn't ready for the information. It didn't stick. Now, it's a solution to a problem I know I have but hadn't addressed consciously. When I read June's discussion of the technique, I went Aha! Just what I need.
I used to spin one thing at a time. I had one wheel, I had no particular use for spindles (I had only two spindles, both the same size) (whoops sorry, I had a boat anchor too; I still have no use for that one). I spun one fiber til I was done and then moved on. Sometimes I stopped for a while and had trouble getting back to the grist I had been spinning, but all in all it worked fairly well.
Now I have multiple spindles at varying weights and I have (shhh!) several different projects going on the wheel. Keeping track of making even grist has become more important to me. This is the (current) perfect solution to my problem. And the proof of the pudding is that my grist on the latest two skeins of the same thing is 1. 1490 ypp and 2. 1450 ypp, which is really good for me and well within the tolerance level of my ability to measure either weight or length; i.e. my ability to do either with my current measuring tools has a fair amount of error built in. Best of all, the skeins feel like they go together, which has not always been the case on previous projects.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The parade was my kind of parade. Your basic small town parade: be there by 8:30, line up with the other 99 Girl Scouts and their leaders, fall in at 9 behind the 18 year old with the deely boppers who is shepherding this gaggle, between the fire engine and the Cub Scouts. (The Vets, the American Legion's Ladies' Auxiliary, the marching firemen and the high school marching band have already gone). March around the block (wave at the folks on the front step and at the people in the window at the retirement home) and head down (up?) Union Street to the cemetary. Wave to everyone as you go by, arrive at the end point at 9:30. The Mayor makes a speech. The Assemblyman makes a speech. The Memorial Day Volunteer Middle School Band (seated at the end point from the beginning of the parade) plays God Bless America. Two recitations by veterans (Flanders Field and Gettysburg Address). The bugler plays taps, a bagpipe band plays Amazing Grace and we head back to our cars. I'm home by 10:27. A little hot and sweaty, but a nice start to a holiday morning and not a problem that I parked in a 2 hour parking space.

The rest of the day was quiet. The younger offspring managed to fry himself in the sun the day before when the neighbors opened their backyard pool for the first time. (We've since had a few discussions on "I'm not treating you like a baby if I tell you to put on sunscreen" and he's now had a lecture by the dr as well.) He needed to hibernate from the 95 degree weather and I was not loathe to accomodate. I got spinning done and knitting. My mother got me Gathering of Lace for my b-day and I spent some time leafing through that. Lovely stuff.

Thanks for all the good wishes about my birthday. It was one of the nicest in a long time.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me!

I'm off to go march in a parade. Have a good day!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Pictureless blog for a while - the camera is dead. It's been eating batteries for a while but yesterday it just flat gave up the ghost. Pity about that - I was all set for a picture taking orgy, catching up on everything I've been working on.

So, your imaginations will have to go into overtime for a while...
Item 1 - I've reached the end of the upper fan section on Hyrna Herborgar in the extended mode, which means I've gotten to row 62 (227 stitches) and am about to move into the diamonds. In a not-overly-blocked state (stretched but not as it will be in final blocking) the upper fan section spans my shoulders so I think it will be enough to add 3 repeats in the upper section and 3 in the lower section for 13 fans total. Sylvia, I can't thank you enough for the spreadsheet you sent with the numbers all worked out - for as far as I've gotten, they're bang on the money.

Item 2 - I've been spinning the black cherry and have plied the first batch with the yellow/orange/red and I like the way it's coming out. More on that later.

Item 3 - I've been spinning the cherry end of the multicolor ball on the spindle and I really like the way that's coming out as well. It's a subtly variegated red and in such nice matte shade. It makes me want to spin a compatibly colored silk and weave a scarf so that it came out in blocks - one block all wool, one block all silk and two blocks wool/silk. Small blocks, about 1 inch or so, all over the piece. I can picture it, I just haven't figured out the best way to get from here to there.

I dunno when I'll get the camera working again - I may have to borrow a friend's.

Friday, May 19, 2006


The falcons at the Kodak site have had a rough start this year - six eggs laid, three viable eyases. The female parent (Mariah) had an accident early on and her leg is still not "right", but they are fun to watch and the kids are big enough that mom isn't always on top of them.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Sara has posted a series of very interesting commentary and questions on the state of weaving, weaving guilds and conferences. There is no particular doubt that weaving is on the wane at the moment, the guilds are growing somewhat older and the conferences available are consequently in danger of falling to the ax of an aging, tiring membership. I have absolutely zero answer to any of her questions. (Except as a sidelight to one comment she made, that only 20% of the subscribership to Handwoven is estimated to actually currently weave, and that is just to say that that would strike me as typical of any endeavor - that catch phrase of 20% of the people do 80% of the work has truth behind it no matter what the field. So what are the total numbers of subscribers to Handwoven and are they going up or down? 20% of 100,000 is a lot larger than 20% of 5,000)

Her posts have given me furiously to think, however, and have made me pull my head from the sand to some extent. I'm not a weaver. I am not exactly sure I want to be a weaver. But in view of the cost/time/space/effort thing perceived to be involved with being a weaver, I have been doing that metaphorical sitting in the corner, fingers in my ears, La la la I can't HEAR you. So I haven't really explored what I need to do in order to be able to do what I want to do. And if someone came up to me tomorrow and said, you have 3 weeks to live, I would be kicking myself big time for wasting time and that's just plain stupid. I may not want to do what I think I want to do, but not finding out whether I do or not is idiotic.

So. What do I want to do? I'll start by thanking Sara for outlining some of the ways to be a weaver on the cheap, to see if you like it. That's a most excellent start, because I look at all of those and say, No, that isn't what I want to do. And so for me, the answer is No, I don't want to be a weaver. Weaving for the sake of weaving is not what pulls me in. I admire the heck out of 99% of the woven stuff I see but it doesn't grab me and say come play.

What I want is something different - I want to play with silk. I adore silk. Playing with silk cocoons doesn't interest, I don't want to reel silk, particularly. It's fun to watch but doesn't draw me in. I like spinning silk, on the wheel and on spindles. I like needlepointing with silk. I like knitting with silk, and crocheting with silk, but while silk in any of these options is fun, it doesn't show the silk to its absolute best advantage, such as here, or here. So. What I want to do is make silk fabric. Which then leads back to: weaving. I don't want to be a weaver; I want to weave with silk. A distinction without a difference some might say, but one that I'm finding important in the clarification of my thoughts on the subject.

And that 's about as far as my coherent thinking has gone on this topic. I've more ideas rolling about in my head, but mostly what I have is questions. All of my other fiber activities involve miniaturization - itty bitty needlepoint and cross stitch, lace knitting on #2 or 3 needles, filet crochet with a #3 hook, spinning laceweight on a lightweight spindle. I'm not an ultraminiaturist but I like the fine stuff. How does that fit in with weaving silk fabric? What sort of weaving equipment will let me produce what I want and where do I get it and how best to learn how to use it? Can I start with a rigid heddle table loom and get to where I want to go, or is that a dead end. Much to ponder. Even more to research.

So, Sara, I don't have any answers to your questions. I do know that the items mentioned to lure knitters into weaving through Big Yarns just make me shudder. Not to say that they won't work, but I didn't get into knitting through Big Yarns either.

Friday, May 12, 2006


I finally calculated grist on the alpaca/silk lace. It's just about 4123 ypp. And since Sylvia tells me the Icelandic is 2234 ypp, my eyeball feel that this was a finer yarn has been confirmed. It doesn't really affect what I'm doing except to agree that I'm going to go with the expansion module on the shawl. And oh, by the way, I'm going to have finish spinning the last bit of silk hankie and ply the last skein or I won't have enough yarn. On the other hand, I'll get back the two bobbins that are being held up by my dilatory nature (or rather, by my unwillingness to spin the hankie - it was making my hands hurt).

Dyeing can be fun

My favorite kind at the moment is dyeing when you don't know precisely what you're going to get. As with many things, this may progress to the stage where one is happiest being able to reproduce exactly what one wants, but at this point in time, randomness is good.

This started life as a black and white spotted fleece (from Whitefishbay Farm, so it's Corriedale, but I didn't order it myself so who it was is a mystery). I washed it by hand and flicked it with a dog comb then grabbed random bits of white or grey or black for spinning. This was then dyed once and I didn't like it (too dull pink) and dyed it again. I'm now a happy camper. Red is good. Dark red is even better.

I did say I was working on the Hyrna Herborgar and I now have pictoral proof.
I'm up through the first fifty rows and am going on for that next three sets that will give me a larger shawl. I had vaguely worked out that this is what I thought I wanted and Sylvia says yes indeedy and went on to say I want three more sets of the next pattern too without my having to figure it out at all. Thanks Sylvia. This is being knit in a silk/alpaca laceweight I spun up last year. I've still been a complete slob about figuring out the grist. I promise I will. Soon.