Sunday, January 31, 2010

Fighting those negative temps, one muffin at a time

It's been damn cold up here lately. Temps below zero, with high winds that make the wind chill factor something you don't even want to think about.
On those kind of days, I like to stay indoors and invent ways to stay warm.
So, besides baking a 20+ lb turkey today, I turned this:

into this:
That was one of our wacky delicata pumpkin crosses - which started out green and white, and have turned green and orange in storage.
The muffins are pumpkin muffins with a cream cheese and streusel topping. I found a recipe out on the web and seriously tweaked it.
The picture shows the first dozen muffins. The recipe also made a dozen more. And there was still batter left over when the the cream cheese topping ran out - enough for 5 more muffins which got double streusel in order to use that up. (If I had only known, I might have cut the recipe in half...)
Madman gave them a serious thumbs-up - which is good, because we've got a lot of freakin' muffins...

ETA: OMG! I just tried one, myself. These are ridiculously good. I have to go right now and write down the changes I made before I forget. See ya!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

I don't understand why he laughed at me.

We were discussing a TV show I'd been watching via the internet.
My comment:
"Gimme a break. They split up while chasing a shape-shifter. Everyone knows the first rule of chasing shape-shifters is 'Never Split Up.' "

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Geometry is the only math I ever really understood...

I finished the first front for the sweater, and have cast on the second.

When this odd-shaped piece is blocked, it will be a half-hexagon. One of the things I really liked about this sweater is all the non-standard pieces. The back looks like a tall truncated triangle with a split at the bottom to insert the godet (a simple triangle), the sleeves are elongated hexagons, and the fronts are half-hexagons.
My geometry teacher would have been so proud.
Here's a close-up of the cabley action.

Assembling this beast is going to be a challenge. What fun!

Speaking of beasts, I'm very glad I went out a little early to feed the critters this afternoon. Fifteen minutes after I came in, I looked out the window at a complete white-out. It had only been spitting snow when I fed the sheep...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Minor setback in the knitting.

So I was knitting happily along on one of the fronts of the cabled coat, when I realized that I'd made an error with the decreases. I ripped back several inches, and reknit the section, only to realize that I hadn't made an error at all. So I had to rip back what I had just knit, and reknit again to get back to where I was in the first place.
At least I wasn't knitting both fronts at the same time...

Friday, January 22, 2010

There's a hole in my finger

Over the last few months I've been trying to tighten up my knitting a little bit. Nothing drastic, but a bit of slow change so that it will become a habit. (I'm tired of having to go down 2 needle sizes to get gauge, and I want to write more patterns for other people to knit without making myself crazy trying to figure out what size needle normal people would need.)
The down side is that I've discovered I have a bad habit of bracing the left needle point against my right index finger in order to push stitches up into working position. Now that they're tighter, I have to push harder. And the circ I'm using for my cabled coat is really really pointy.

I've poked a hole in my finger.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Partly cloudy, with extended periods of gloom

A little sunshine would be nice. Just for 5 minutes, that's all I ask. We've had nothing but cloudy, cloudy with snow, cloudy with sleet, cloudy with wind, cloudy cloudy cloudy. And gloom.
(The last sunny day I can remember was in early December. I'm not kidding.)

I was hoping for some light, to get a decent picture or two of the sheepies. We'll all have to settle for these, instead.
I took a raft of pictures, but I think my memory card is dying. All the photos with Onyx in them didn't save. (Poor Onyx. And she loves getting her picture taken...)

Here's Merlin, with Goldie peeking around him from a safe distance.

But I did get a good shot of Goldie, looking thoughtful. Or maybe just staring blankly. It's hard to tell with sheep.

Caught Merlin daydreaming...

And, since I've sorely neglected to take pictures of the bunnies, here's the girls:

That's Clover on the left, and Jane on the right. (And if you're wondering how I can tell the difference (or even if it matters) - Jane has a lazy left ear. It droops anytime she isn't 100% alert. (She's also shyer than Clover, but that's hard to tell from a picture.))
And here's our boy, Stiffler. He isn't really grumpy - he's just hopping forward to see if I'm going to give him some more hay.

And, of course, I have to give equal time to the chickens, or I'll never hear the end of it.

They do keep an eye on me...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Still making progress.

Though working is really cutting into my knitting time, sadly.
I've finished the sleeves. Yay for finishing the long slog of moss stitch.
Though seriously, I don't mind moss stitch, or its cousin seed stitch. Since I knit Continental, it's no harder to knit moss stitch (or ribbing either, for that matter) than it is to knit garter stitch.
If, at this moment, you're thinking "Oh, no! Continental purl is hard!", then you're obviously new around here, and have missed my previous rants.
If you think Continental purl is hard, then someone taught you wrong. Follow this link for Easy Continental purl, or just click on the Continental purl label over in my sidebar. Someday I'll do a video (if I can figure out how to hold the camera some other way than in my teeth...), but in the meanwhile I've got a short photo essay showing how easy the purl stitch is. (Do not be fooled by the arthritis-inducing contortionist version that will pop up in a Google search. That video is a cruel cruel joke.)
Okay, end rant.
So, the sleeves are done, and I've got one of the fronts underway. I would have liked to do both fronts at once, but at 260 stitches each, my needle just isn't long enough to accommodate that many stitches.
So, I'm back to the engaging cables. This sweater is just flying along.

And a random tip - I had to make two attempts at casting on those 260 stitches. The first time, I ran woefully short of tail in my longtail cast-on. So I started over, grabbing a second ball of yarn, tying a slip knot in the two ends, and using yarn from the second ball as the 'tail.' It means a couple extra ends to weave in, but that's still easier than making multiple runs at 260 stitches.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sleeve Labor

(Sorry. You know how I am...)

Though I also thought of "Sleeving is Believing." And "I'll be sleeving you (in all the old familiar places...)" And the ever-popular traveling knitter's song "I'm sleeving on a jet plane."

It's the fever. It's making me light headed. Really.
That's my story.

So, in between naps today, I got some knitting done. (Yeah, sleeves. How'd you guess?)

Whenever I'm knitting sleeves flat, I like to do them at the same time. This way, I know they end up the same length, with all the decreases/increases in the same places. You can see where I've got a safety-pin holding them together about 1/3 of the way up. (There would have been another pin or so, if I could have found another one. Way too much effort today.) By linking the two sleeves, I can keep track of which direction I'm going. The trick is to never ever ever stop at the gap in the middle. If you have to set the knitting down, either stop a few stitches before the gap, or start knitting a few stitches after it; then, when you pick it up again, you don't have to guess where you left off.
The two-at-a-time thing is an especially good solution if you're making mods. By knitting both sleeves (or both fronts, etc) at the same time, you don't have to worry about keeping notes to help you make the second piece to match. (I usually manage to lose the notes...) (Note to self: find better way to keep notes to self organized.) (Um, wait...)
So I'm at the point where I start decreasing for the raglan shaping. That will be tomorrow's project. Then on to the fronts!

Happy Blogiversary to Me - a day late. (Story of my life...)

My second blogiversary, and I forget it. I'd been meaning to check, the last couple of days, thinking that it was coming up soon. But I haven't been feeling well. In fact, last night I felt bad enough to Go To Bed Early. I never do that... (I've always had a really hard time letting go of the day.)
This morning I woke up chilled to the bone and shaking. A quick check of the thermostat showed that it wasn't actually cold in the house.
Running a fever. Feeling ghastly.
I called in sick (something else I never do), and headed for the couch.
Here I am, wrapped in every afghan we own, knitting the sleeves for my cabled coat, in between fever chills.
At least I'll get some extra knitting done...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Perhaps there's something to this "Project Monogamy" thing...

Finished the godet.

And have cast on the sleeves. (Do the rest of the boring part, then I get to do the interesting part again. Carrots on sticks are so important.)

Not a great picture, but the camera and the editing software seem to be fighting with each other. I'm just the innocent bystander...

Saturday, January 9, 2010


Woohoo! The back is done!

That's the end of boring for a while. Until the sleeves, that is. I'd better make them before the fronts...

Starting the godet. I'm on the 3rd skein of yarn, and loving the knitting so far.

Still carless.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

And another thing...

The other thing I did Sunday, besides doing ninety-two loads of laundry, washing a mountain of dishes, and baking a loaf of bread and a big honkin' pork roast, was to cast on a sweater. For me. Hallelujah!
I'm making this cabled coat, by Norah Gaughan.* I fell in love with it the first time I saw it in Vogue Knitting. I'm doing the boring moss stitch backs first, knowing myself as I do. Otherwise, I'd knit the technically interesting cabled sections and never get around to finishing it. (Moss stitch, like its close cousin seed stitch, is fun to knit, but vast amounts of it can be tough going. I'm using the cabled parts as the carrot on a stick...)
I started with the Right Back - which was actually a large gauge swatch. When I saw that my gauge was spot-on (I went down a needle size from what was recommended. Loose knitter, here.) I immediately cast on the Left Back and knit it to catch up.

Now I'm knitting them simultaneously, just like I knit sleeves two-at-a-time, linking them with safety pins so I don't lose track of which direction I'm going. (That's Sunday's photo above. I'm now about 6" along.)

* How is Gaughan pronounced, anyway? Rhymes with Vaughan, perhaps?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Busy Sunday

I seem to be running behind in my posts. Yesterday's was about the days after Christmas; today's is about yesterday. Give me another day or so, and I'll finally be running in real-time...
So, anyway.
I finished (finally!) plying the merino-tencel.

Spinning was on hiatus for the Christmas season. Part of it was running low on time, the other part was my (hopeless) attempt to toddler-proof my house for the visiting grandchildren. (I wasn't home when my daughter arrived with spouse and children in tow. She might have screamed "Oh my God! This place is a toddler death-trap!!" but, since I wasn't there, I can pretend it didn't happen. After a certain point, I had given up. I ran out of high places to put breakables, and since everything else I own could potentially maim a busy grandson, I finally decided we could just keep an eye on him. Four adults, one toddler. Seemed like about even odds...)

After the spinning, I got to play with my new toy!

My much-beloved mother-in-law gave me this for Christmas. With our steady flow of eggs, a pasta machine seemed like a good idea. (Pasta is a very practical way to store excess eggs. Pasta's shelf-life is much longer than an egg's!)
My first efforts were a little funky -

but I got a little better as I went along.

Madman, meanwhile, was out ice-fishing. Look at these beauties:

Northern Pike. Tasty...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

There was also a lot of fun

Lest you think the whole trip to my dad's was a disaster, I should share some of the good stuff...

I got to meet the two new alpacas. Dad and Wicked Good Stepmother now have 6 (six!) alpacas. The little guy is Max - he's a runt. Two years old, and looks like he's half-grown. But what he lacks in size, he makes up for in personality.

Here's my grandson (aged 2.5) 'reading' a story to his great-grandpa and the dog. (The dog was a little bewildered at being read to... She finally took refuge in Dad's lap, and little Mr. C followed along with his book, enjoying the larger audience.)

There were piggies to admire:

The boy was a good little helper, come chore-time. Though it takes a long time to fill a trough, a dozen kernels of corn at a time...

And he got to meet a pig up-close. (That's a very alert Great-Grandma hovering over him, ready to whisk him up and out of the way if the pig got grumpy.) Check out the bottom left corner of the picture - you'll see 2 very tiny piglets. My favorite was the pink one with freckles!

Alpacas are big fans of corn, as well.

The Divine Miss L, my granddaughter, stayed in the house - she'd spent a couple of weeks on the farm last summer, so doing chores wasn't near the attraction for her. She had happy Christmas loot to play with, which beat the pants off freezing outdoors.
Meanwhile, little Mr C was being followed by the paparazzi - his grandmother, mother, and aunt were all trooping along behind him with cameras...