Friday, February 29, 2008

Yikes, Oh Duh and D'oh!

First the Yikes: I finished the top of the first mitten, but I'm not happy with it. I get a little paranoid about mittens being too short. (I hate having my fingers squished). But I over compensated and these are decidedly too long. Also, I don't like the prominence of the decrease line in orange.

So I'm going to rip back. Then I'll either decrease on black stitches, or slant the decreases the other direction. Golly, at the rate I'm going I'll have these things done just about in time for next year.

Now the Oh Duh: Sometimes I'm just slow. When I met the lovely J. at Last Saturday Knitting, I never made the connection that she is also the lovely Kitty Mommy. The new teeth should have been a give away, but no.... Sometimes my brain just has these separate parallel compartments that never meet.

Finally D'oh!: OK, it's still February, even here in my alternate universe. So tomorrow will be March. Daylight Savings Time is coming. Just watch me get up an hour earlier than I need to (or will that be sleep an hour later than I should have?)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Oh Johnny!

Johnny Depp is coming to town! Well, not our town, exactly. He's coming to Wisconsin to shoot some movie scenes. Rumor (and the local paper) has it that there will be a day or two on location at the county courthouse over in Darlington. So where do I go to sign up as an extra?


I did order a bag of the Elann Esprit, and yes I'm glad I did. The Canyon Rose color is very pretty. I've never used this yarn for anything but socks, and that was the intention for this batch. But maybe I should get adventurous and try a tank top or tee.

There was a perfectly lovely show about Pete Seeger on PBS last night (American Masters). I think I've said this before, but I truly believe he is one of the seven just persons who hold up the universe. It also reminded me of the power of music and song to effect change. Where are the songs that can end this war?


The last two days have been cold, but gloriously sunny. The angle of the light is higher. Tomorrow will be March. I'm beginning to think that spring may actually be on the way.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

So Where Ya Been Anyway?

I haven't gone completely AWOL, just haven't set myself down to write in a while.

First off, thanks to everybody for all the good bread suggestions. I'll be doing some experimenting.

So where have I been? Thursday I subbed for the school secretary again, then in the evening had my regular weekly get together with L and L. Friday I spent much of the day chopping ice from the sidewalks and driveway. Saturday: work in the morning at the library and then in the afternoon had Last Saturday Knitting - always nice. A new to me attendee was Jen (did I get that right?) with her adorable baby Isaac. I brought along the current mittens.

The band that looks electric blue is really a darkish teal, much more subtle in real life. Sigh, I find that as so often happens, my tension has become tighter as I progress. It's not a huge difference, at least not enough that I'm going to rip back.

Sunday Mr S and I went to Madison for brunch with some good friends we hadn't seen in months. Chopped more ice in the afternoon. The last installment of Pride and Prejudice on PBS in the evening. This is an older version, but I hadn't seen it before. I think Colin Firth is the best Mr. Darcy ever.

Yesterday I baked up the remaining frozen dinner roll dough, just to clear the decks for the day when I by a package of yeast and start from scratch. Most of the rest of the day (before work at the library in the evening) was spent chopping the last of the ice. The entire driveway and sidewalks were clean down to the cement. This was a major accomplishment, given that it had built up two to four inches in places. But I finished it all. Just in time for more snow last night and today.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

If at first.....

Well, I thought I would make another stab at focaccia, taking into account some helpful suggestions from readers. Our local store doesn't carry refrigerated or frozen pizza crust, but it did have this.

And while I was there I picked up some rosemary and garlic granules, too.

When it was done it looked like this.

Next time I will mix up two packages of pizza dough and make it twice as thick. And I will bake it in a cake pan or just build up the edges some. From perusing actual recipies on the internet, I'm beginning to suspect that the chewy texture I crave is impossible without sourdough starter. And I am without it. (On the other hand, there was one that started with a "sponge" that didn't look too difficult, and might come close...) But this actually tasted very good. And it was easy. And fast to put together. I polished off half of it as soon as it came out of the oven, then forced myself to leave the rest for Mr S. It would hardly be fair for a guy to come home to signs of baking, but no actual baked goods. If I weren't a woman with scruples I would have eaten it all.


I've started the first mitten. Had to stop and fiddle with the charts after deciding that I did want a thumb gusset after all.

Note to Linda L - those colors are good. We'll see.

Note to all - if at any point it appears that my spelling has deteriorated I can assure you that it is no worse than it ever was. My Blogger spell check won't work, and I haven't yet figured out how to get it running again. Things could get intirasting.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I find myself wandering from window to window

staring sullenly at the icicles. Occasionally I venture out and whack off a few that are within reach. I does no real good, but expresses my feelings.


As I suspected, linking the headband pdf from Ravelry to here was not hard, once a kind forum member responded to my question in terms that even I could understand. So the Gemini link is back in the sidebar, and it works for me even when I'm not logged in to either Blogger or Rav, and I've got my fingers crossed.


I need more mittens, because this is the year when the fingerless mitts I usually wear just aren't enough. In order to make more mittens, I need to wind some yarn into balls (in this case Cascade 220).

In real life the orange looks less pumpkin and more rust. I may throw in a few yards of some leftover teal. It's only enough for a very small accent (at the wrist?), but sometimes a small color accent perks things up considerable.

Now as for winding, do I haul out the swift, or just drape it over my knee? I think the latter. I don't have a ball winder, so the speed is about the same with either method. For finer yarns (or a hairier yarn) I would definitely use the swift, to avoid tangles, but I can usually manage a smooth worsted well enough without it.

Say what you will about Red Heart, I only wish every yarn came in center pull logs like theirs. I know there are knitters who want to wind/rewind every yarn purchased, to get the feel of it and to look for knots. I respect that. But for myself, I'll get the feel while swatching, and I don't mind a spit splice or two.

I just got crazy excited because Elann is have a really good sale on full bags of Esprit. And there are quite a few colors left. I love this yarn for summertime socks. But then it occured to me that 1) I have at least 8 balls of Esprit in the closet still waiting to be worked up, and 2) a full bag would mean making 3 to 5 pairs (depending on cuff length) all in the same color. So I'm resisting the urge.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Twice is Nice (Edited)

I liked the latest headband enough that I did it up in a different color. This one is in Lion Brand "Lion Wool". I'm calling it "Gemini". Because it has two buttons? Because you can wear it two ways? Because that's my sign? Who knows?

Edited Bit: A big thank you to all who tested the link to the pattern download. I know people have downloaded within Ravelry, but either the external linking feature needs some work, or I misunderstood (very likely the latter). I'll go work on getting the pdf parked elsewhere. So the free download will be available from the sidebar soon.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

This May Explain It

The kitchen experimentation, that is.

You Are a Marble Cake

Eclectic, inventive, and peaceful.
You are never willing to accept what's "normal." You live to push the envelope.
You find it hard to make up your mind. You prefer to have everything you want, right away!

Inventive? Check! Push the envelope? Check! Want it right now? Um, well if that means not wanting to pull out my non-exisitant mixer with dough hook, yup, that's me. Thanks to Leslie for the link. And thanks to everyone who left tips for alternate approaches to foccacia. I'm going to give some of them a whirl.

Dearest daughter was home Friday night through yeasterday afternoon, always a treat. I talked her into modeling the lastest iteration of the checkerboard socks for me.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Cat News Coverage

I really think the reporter deserved a byline on this one.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Faux-caccia or I Might Have Known Better

I may have mentioned that I'm not much of a cook. So I won't surprise anyone that I haven't made bread from scratch in about 20 years. I miss good bread, though. The selection at the little grocery in town is limited to mass produced Wonder Bread equivalent.

They do however, carry frozen bread dough, and on a whim I picked some up, pre-shaped for dinner rolls. I baked up a few on Tuesday. They were a little on the fluffy side, but not too bad.

Yesterday, I decided to experiment. Could I fake foccaccia with this? Instead of spraying the pan with cooking spray, per the package directions, I poured in some olive oil, and poured a little more over the tops for good measure.

When the dough had almost doubled, I poked each little roll down, then flipped them over and mashed them down some more.

Unsurprisingly, I didn't happen to have any Rosemary (fresh or otherwise) in the house. So I sprinkled the top with these:

The Lemon Pepper also has salt, garlic and onion in it. Then I thought "what the heck" and sprinkled on some poppy seeds, too.

I have to report that the end result was nothing like focaccia. What we have here are slightly flattened, seasoned dinner rolls. What's that about not making silk purses? Oh well. They're edible.

I have always been fond of Valentines Day

I liked it so much when I was in grade school. For one thing, it was a bit of festivity in the middle the Minnesota winter. Christmas was a long past, spring still a long way off. Valentines Day added some color and interest.

But mostly I liked it because it meant playing with paper and scissors and paste, and being able to use my imagination. In school we made construction paper cards for our parents, and decorations for the bulletin boards and windows. (Much cheerier than the plain white paper snowflakes that had been taped up all though January). But the best part was making our mail boxes.

Everyone brought a shoebox from home. Then, for what seems in my recollection like a whole week before the big day but was probably only a couple of days, we pasted white butcher paper over the outside, and ruffled and ruched pink and red crepe paper swags, and worked rosettes of tissue paper and added more construction paper hearts (if there was still room). The best part was that, while the teacher gave us some ideas, we could really do whatever we wanted. Mine were always just beautiful, if I say so myself.

The teachers wisely and kindly decreed that no one had to bring valentine cards, but if you did there had to be one for every student in class, and they handed out mimeographed class lists so there could be no mistake. This ruling was fine by me because 1) I wasn't too sure how many cards I would get without it and 2) more importantly it meant more playing with paper and scissors at home.

In those days you could buy boxes of little cards and envelopes all set to go. But the Ben Franklin had something much better: books about the size of paper doll books, with pages of valentines printed on light card stock to be cut or punched out. They were all different. Some larger, some smaller, some humerous, some romantic in a Victorian sort of way. A few of the best had glitter. The envelopes, printed on lighter paper, had to be cut out and folded and pasted together. And then there was the process of sorting them all and decideding who got which card. Nothing romantic for any of the boys, that's for sure. I saved the doves and forget-me-nots and glitter for the girls, who, hopefully, would be more likely to appreciate their asthetic refinement.

Making Valentines sort of disapppered from my radar through Jr. High and High School. Since then, I've had a couple of periods when I hauled out paper doilies and stickers and contruction paper, and thoroughly enjoyed the process. But what I would really love would be to have my hands on one of those Ben Franklin books again, just to see if they were anything close to as wonderful as they seemed at the time.

Looking back like this, it's sort of surprising I'm not a scapbooker. I guess it's because I discovered yarn before that trend took off.

Monday, February 11, 2008


Since magnusmog was kind enough to ask, here's a picture of my new necklace.

Pretty, huh? According to the hand out, turquoise is good for your chakras, provides protection and dissipates negativity. I don't know how seriously I take any of that; but hey it can't hurt. And I really like the setting, which reminds me of Hathor cow horns.

Did I say something about not wanting my headband to slide down around my neck? Turns out that buttoned just a bit differently it makes a very cozy little neck wrap.

It curves snugly up around the back of my neck - but there is just no way I am even going to attempt a back of the neck shot on myself.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Famous or not?

Is this the work of a famous or an unknown artist?

There's a fun quiz asking that question about this and other paintings. (I got 75%).


Our Chicago trip was called off due to a combination of ominous weather forcasts and the fact that the folks we were planning to meet couldn't make it. So we went to Madison for errands and Christmas shopping instead. I had a gift certificate to redeem at Shakti (one of my gifts from Mr S). I picked out a turquoise pendant and silver chain. I've been wanting a turquoise for ever so long, and I like this one very much. Mr S had a new recliner to select (his gift from me). I could wear my gift home, but he's going to have to wait for delivery. We had lunch at the Mediterranean Cafe on State Street, a little hole in the wall with great food. Greek salad, falafel, hummus, pita, Yum! Snow was just starting to fall as we left the city, and thickened fast. For a few miles mid-trip the snow and wind combined for a near white out. A little scary, but fortunately it didn't last. Despite the shorter than Chicago drive, I nearly finished my car-knitting-headband.

Got the last bit done this morning. Why do I hate sewing on buttons? It's such a simple operation, really, but it always feels intimidating before I begin.

another lovely mirror shot

As anticipated, it is a nice thick sort of cushy fabric and should be warm, though I haven't braved the 8 below (F) temps this morning to actually go outside and see.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Gensis of a Small Project or Form Follows Function

The headband I made a while back has proven to be very functional. I wear it almost every day. There's going to be a lot of winter yet to come. It might be nice to have another one, just for variety.

Tomorrow, if the weather isn't too bad, we will be driving to Chicago. I need some really simple car knitting with no shaping to speak of and a stitch pattern I can do on autopilot.

Putting those things together, I've decided to make another headband, using some yarn that was an experiment I did in handpainting a couple of years ago. I never could decide whether I liked it or it was too ugly to live. If nothing else, watching how the colors stack up will add some interest to that otherwise mindless stitching.

I want a stitch pattern that will be warm ("has good thermal qualities" as they say), and will stay flat without an added border. Plain garter obviously has these qualities, but that's a little too plain, even for this project. And plain garter does that lengthwise stretch thing: you know, the three foot scarf that ends up seven feet long. I don't want my headband sliding down around my neck after a few wearings.

So I've decided on garter with columns of slipped stitches.

I'll purl the slipped stitches on the wrong side, so they look like little ribs on the right side, adding some visual interest. (I'm not entirely sure this yarn needs more interest, but if I ever did this again in a more muted colorway it might be nice). The contraction of the slipped stitches will counteract the stretch of the garter. There are only two pattern rows. The Right Side and Wrong Side look very different so I'll never have to stop and ponder which one I'm on.

And I'll never have to count higher than three.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Happy New Year

It's the Year of the Rat. I've only known one (white) rat personallly, and it was a charming animal.


The sun is out, the wind has dropped, and the sound of snowblowers is heard in the land. Marie-Grace, I'll be glad to send you some of the excess snow, and expect Elizabeth and Laura will add to the shipment willingly. Just have to figure out the shipping method. (Betsy, is East Cupcake anywhere near a beach, because if it is you may find yourself with an unexpected houseguest or two). But the sun is shining and that makes me happy, happy, happy.


I picked back the excess sock rows and moved on to the toe. Here it is in all it's slip stitch color pattern glory.
Well, maybe "glory" is a little strong, but I do like the way black sets off any color it surrounds.
Still need to do the toe on the other sock, but may be able to finish that tonight when I have my weekly knitting get together with L and LaV.
Speaking of colors, I see that Elann has it's solid color sock yarns back. I've been trying not to buy any yarn unless I have a very specific purpose for it. But it would be so nice to have a range of sock yarn colors on hand.... I still love self patterning and hand painted, but I've been getting little urges to do more color patterns where I am in control.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

I Am Not There

I thought about going outside and taking pictures of the snow that has been falling steadily for hours and hours. But then I thought, "Do I really want to look at another picture of snow?" No, I do not. So this is a stock photo that came with the computer. I am not, and never have been, wherever it is that picture was taken. But I would like to be there. I would really, really like it.
Elizabeth is running a contest for some yummy yarn, to be awarded to the 10,000th vistor to her blog. She's up to 99,898 as I write, so get there soon.
I just realized I've knit 1 1/2 inches more than needed on the foot of a sock. I'm off to pick back. (You would think that knitting from my own pattern I would get it right.)

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Yipee, More Words

Hot diggety if the FreeRice vocabulary game hasn't just announced "NEW...five levels of super-hard words...." How hard are they? Well, I don't rightly know yet, because you have to get through the first fifty levels to find out. But it's nice to think they are out there, waiting. Let's see, tomally means lobster liver, burgee means yacht flag. D**n, thrasonical does not mean grooved. On the other hand, I now know what a "muley cow" is. And don't ask me where I ever saw that phrase. It just lodged itself in my brain sometime during the course of a lifetime of reading. And I now know what it means. And I'm not going to tell.

Good grief. Is anyone else old enough to remember those "humorous" kitchen aprons emblazoned with: "For This I Spent Four Years in College?" I'm beginning to feel that way about the vocabulary game and my obsession therewith.


This morning I spent an hour with yarn wrapped around my neck. Why? Well last night a reference to Portuguese/Greek/Peruvian(?) style knitting sent me on an internet search, and I found a couple of descriptions, and a couple of rudimentary videos, and I thought what the heck, I'll give it a try.

Basically, this involves tensioning the yarn by running it around the back of your neck and forming the stitches by flicking the working yarn with your left thumb (not too difficult a concept for me because I'm a Continental knitter).

Now I understand why some Peruvian knitters work stranded colorwork in the round in purl. It is easier to purl than to knit with this method. I can also see how, with practice, it would be possible to work really fast, especially with hooked needles.

I doubt that I will be completely revising my method this late in the game, but it's always good to have one more arrow in the quiver, and inquiring minds want to know, and it might be fun to try in public sometime, just to see if I could blow some other knitter's mind.

The Knitter's Review discussion that caught my attention is here. A series of short You Tube video tutorials from chuanavit starts here. And a video showing it done with hooked needles is here. It's a bit fuzzy, but I was fascinated by the needles.

Hmmm, just found a YouTube video titled Peruvian Knitting that is a totally different style. Right needle held like pencil, yarn thrown with right middle finger. Looks interesting. May have to try that next.