Saturday, December 27, 2008

Back soon...

Visiting my Dad & family for "Second Christmas" - I'll be back Sunday.
As usual, I forgot my camera...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Jingle jingle

Merry Christmas!
May your holiday be divine!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Little Help From My Friend

My little Ursula saw how far behind I'm getting, and naturally offered to help.

"Don't worry, Mom! I've got it under control."

"Now, if I could just remember how to cast on..."


"Crap. Afraid you're on your own."

Oh, well, her heart is in the right place.
Though it really would have helped if she'd knit the soles of that other pair of clogs...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Another finished object

Finished the Crofter's Cowl. Pattern is by Gudrun Johnston at The Shetland Trader. This was a great easy knit. The lace pattern was simple and easy to memorize - one run-through and I didn't have to look at the chart again. The grafting wasn't as bad as you would think - but then again, I've never had a problem with grafting.This picture shows the color really well, but the lace is hard to see...
On the other hand, this one shows the lace off really well, but the color is way too dark.

Pattern: Crofter's Cowl by Gudrun Johnston (The Shetland Trader) (pattern is on the sidebar as a free download)
Yarn: Brown Sheep Nature Spun - (245 yards/100gms) Blue Fog - I used maybe half the skein. I'm thinking of knitting another one with the leftovers, so that will tell the tale
Needles: Size 8 circs
Mods: None. I actually followed the pattern as written. (Yeah, yeah, I think it's a miracle, too)

I'm very happy with this. I want one for myself, now. Maybe in purple...

Though I'd be a lot happier if I had remembered last night that I had put this in to soak so I could block it. The plan was to let it dry overnight and ship it today. Unfortunately, I went off to bed, completely forgetting the fact that it was still sitting in a bowl of water.
Another day behind.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Some people think this crap is 'pretty'...

The next person I hear singing "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow" is gonna get bopped right on the beezer.

(Note - that picture isn't blurry because it's out of focus. It's blurry because of the quantity of snow being dumped on us. *sigh*)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I swear it's Magic!

The clogs are done and drying. Woohoo!

Here's a shot pre-felting:
These are bigger than ginormous - just crazy big. I began having doubts at this point... Notice how big they are compared to my hand.
I ran them through two cycles of hot/cold, holding my breath the whole time they were swishing.
Hey! They look like clogs!! And here's my hand again for comparison purposes...

Success! They're just the right size. Phew...
I am so lucky...

Pattern: Fiber Trends Felted Clogs (designed by Bev Galeskas)
Yarn: Brown Sheep Shepherd's Shades (131 yards per 100gr skein) - less than one skein Red Plum, a little over one skein Steel (but I knitted a gauge swatch out of the Steel and felted it, so not sure how much yardage that consumed)
Needles: size 13 circs (I had to go out and buy them special for the project - I own a bajillion small needles, but not many large ones)
Mods: I knitted these single strand, not doubled like the pattern called for. The gauge swatch I tried with the doubled yarn didn't felt down small enough. Shepherd's Shades felts gloriously and I decided it was worth the risk. (They were bound to fit someone...) I lucked out!

The pattern was easy to knit, though I did have to pay attention. (The first try had to be ripped out because I inadvertently skipped some rows. After that, I used a sticky note to keep track of what row I was on. )

I now want a pair of these for myself! Good thing I bought 4 skeins of the Shepherd's Shades...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

And then there were three

Three fingers down, one to go. (Not counting the thumb, of course. Thumbs are a whole different category.) Annemor 10 marches on. The colors are definitely growing on me.And, just because I didn't have enough things cast on:
Yep. Finally started these clogs. I bought the pattern last winter, but hadn't gotten around to trying it out. I've made a lot of felted slippers (I'm wearing a pair, now) and really enjoy knitting big floppy whatsits and then washing them to the brink of destruction. (Isn't there something delightfully perverse in shrinking handknits on purpose...)
These are going to be a gift, but the recipient will be chosen after they're done - I've found this to be the safest course with felted objects. You know, you take it out of the washer and think "Okay, now who do I know that this will fit?" So much better than planning it for Aunt Betsy and finding it would only fit little baby cousin Sophie...
I've used the Shepherd's Shades before - it's a really great yarn for felting. But using it in this pattern is going to be a complete experiment. The pattern calls for using the yarn double, but when I felted a swatch with the SS doubled, it was way too big. So I'm trying it single, knitting the large woman's size, and hoping it will fit someone on my list when I'm done. Keep your fingers crossed for me - it might be a bumpy trip...
And as I knit this pattern, my admiration for Bev Galeskas is enormous. I've done a lot of designing myself, and I know how tedious it can be - knit knit knit, oops, that didn't work, unravel unravel unravel, knit knit knit, CRAP!! unravel unravel unravel... Which is crazy-making, but at least you can use the yarn over. When designing for felting, however - you don't know what you've got until after you felt it! That yarn is gone, baby. Holy frustration, Batman!
I had to go to the LYS for size 13 needles for the clogs. I may have accidently bought a couple of skeins of yarn while I was there.

For Christmas presents, of course. Because I definitely don't have enough things cast on, yet. Look at all the empty needles just lying there doing nothing!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Honk if you love Norma!

My normal morning routine is to check my email while I'm waiting for the coffee to brew, then check my blog stats, then hop over to bloglines to see what's up out in the world.
This morning, however, when I checked my stats, I was startled to see that I already had more than my normal number of hits and it was only 8 o'clock in the morning! WTF? I checked to see where on earth all these people were coming from...
Ah! Norma sent them!
(Thanks, Norma!)

Honk! Honk!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Still more Annemor

Finally got some fingers I'm happy with. The pattern calls for casting on stitches between the fingers, but I still wasn't getting enough to knit the star pattern on the up-side and the diamond pattern on the palm-side. So I fudged a little, and it seems to be working out.The pink yarn is the waste yarn carrying the rest of the finger stitches, the brown yarn is carrying the thumb stitches.

And here's a modeled shot of the glove - I'm just starting the ring finger.

And notice that once again, I'm knitting the right hand first and trying to photograph left handed.
I never learn.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Annemor 10 is not kicking my ass

Well, maybe a little...
I've been working on the right-hand glove. No problems up to the point where I started knitting the fingers.
I knitted most of the index finger and found it's too tight and too short. So, I ripped it (the finger, not the whole glove...) out and will be starting it over. Part of the problem is that the little star on the front side of the finger needs 13 stitches, but the pattern only shows using 8 stitches from the body of the glove. Now, I'll admit my math skills are a little rusty, but this seems like a real head-scratcher to me...
I'd made a few increases to try to compensate, but apparently I still don't have enough stitches. And if it comes out too short again, I think I'll add a partial star to fill in the fingertip.
We'll see how it goes.

And yes, my little kitty in yesterday's post is double-pawed. This makes her 'helping' with my yarn a real disaster. The claws on the extra paw don't retract, so she has a hard time letting go.
And she loves yarn. She particularly likes bringing yarn to me. I have to keep my sewing room door closed, otherwise she drags my whole yarn stash out - taking the scenic route under the table, around the chair legs, under and over the couch - leaving a trail of yarn wherever she goes.
"Here ya go, Mama. I brought you yarn!"

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

No, really!

Honest, Mom, I'm not touching your yarn...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

More Annemor

Moving right along on the Annemor glove. I'm past the point where the thumb stitches are put onto waste yarn, so about halfway up the palm.
And here's the front:
The dark green is Brown Sheep Wildfoote "Pine Tree"; the light green is KnitPicks Palette "Green Tea Heather."
The Palette is much more loosely plyed than the Wildfoote. If anything, the Wildfoote is over-plyed - I keep having a problem with it twisting back on itself. Since the Palette is fluffier than the Wildfoote, it's working out well as the color I knit with my right hand, with the Wildfoote in my left.
As for that "Green Tea Heather" name? No matter what they call it, it looks chartreuse to me. Not a fan of chartreuse. Which is why it's not the background color. No way could I give someone a pair of chartreuse gloves. Especially if I like them well enough to knit them gloves in the first place...

Monday, December 1, 2008

Well, as long as I'm in the habit...

It's been a real mitt-fest lately.
Lest anyone think I started a new pair of Selbu gloves without finishing the first ones:
Here they are! I still have to weave in a bunch of ends, but I typically have to wait for the mood to strike, then maniacally weave and weave and weave. If I try to push it, it just leads to tragedy...
I've also got these fingerless mitts going. The plan is to pick up stitches across the backs at the base of the fingers, and turn them into convertible mittens.
I knit this as a proto-type last spring. I was trying to get the ribbing on the top part to mimic the ribbing on the bottom. Though what I'm actually ending up with sort of looks like a fish...
It looks much better on my hand. (Though it would be a lot easier to model if I had finished the thumb.)

The clock is ticking down to Christmas. I'm probably going to wish I had chosen to knit hats...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Whew! I did it!

I've never been so glad to see the end of November! When I started this NaBloPoMo madness, I was sure I would finish. (I'm way too stubborn to do otherwise...) I knew I would struggle for topics, and I knew there would be a junk post or two, just to keep it rolling.
I learned a few things. Not every post has to be worthy of carving in stone. It's okay not to have a picture. It's okay to just write about something that only I am likely to be interested in. And, it's way a lot easier to have something to write about BEFORE you sit down to the keyboard...
Will I keep posting every day? Not on your Nellie.
Will I post more often than I used to? A resounding yes to that one! (See lessons learned, above.) Part of the fun, of course, is that I've acquired a few readers - and that makes it look a lot less like I'm talking to myself. I love to see comments - let me repeat that - I LOVE to see comments! (Hint, hint...) Feedback is such a joy.

And because I am a masochist want to prove that Selbuvotter can't kick my ass and get away with it, I started another pair of gloves:

This time I'll actually follow the pattern (Annemor #10) - well, except for the part where I'm reversing the light/dark sequence. The background color is a pine green, the pattern color is "Green Tea Heather" - you know, Color D that I didn't care for.
Looks like chartreuse to me...


Saturday, November 29, 2008

I Think I Can, I Think I Can...

Woohoo! November is almost over!!

I finished a hat for Jean on Thanksgiving Day. It isn't anything fancy, but it's wool and it's warm. I hope it keeps someone's ears from freezing this winter. The color in the pics is way off - it's really a navy blue.

I'm really happy with the star pattern made by the decreases.

Yarn: Brown Sheep Nature-Spun - Navy
Needles: Size 5 circular, then size 4 DPNs since I couldn't find any 5's. (I don't know if I don't own any or if I've lost them if I did...)
Pattern: My own.

The pattern was easy -
Cast on 100 stitches. Knit K2P2 ribbing till my brain begged for mercy, then one more inch just to prove I'm not a quitter. (Or about 9", whichever comes first)
Start decreasing: There are 25 K2 ribs. Every 5th one will be a "leg" of the star. (They can be marked, or just keep counting around until pattern is established.) Work ribbing up to 1 stitch short of the "leg", k2tog, k1. Continue around, working a k2tog at each "leg", absorbing a purl stitch from the p2's.
Work a round even, then another decrease round. When the stitch before the K2tog would be a K stitch in the rib pattern, purl it instead. (This keeps the "leg" rib edge crisp and differentiated from the ribs that are getting absorbed.)
Continue working, alternating decrease rounds and even rounds until 10 sts remain. Cut yarn and draw up stitches.

I'll be mailing this to Jean Monday!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Holy crap...

If I can keep my face off the keyboard long enough to type this post, I'll be lucky.
So. Tired.
Today was Black Friday. I work in retail. Even though we opened at 6am, there was a crowd already waiting for us in the parking lot this morning.
I worked from 6am till early senility.
Came home, made supper.

I think I have baked potato on my forehead. And I no longer care...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks

I started a long post listing all the things I'm thankful for, but it started getting messy and maudlin and gooey. So I chucked it.
Here's the short form -
My husband, daughters, family (mine, his, inlaws and outlaws), and friends (both real and imaginary).
Thanks for filling my life!

Speaking of filling, I'm full of turkey and pumpkin pie. I think I need a nap.
And, since I work in retail, I've got to get up early to face the ravening hordes tomorrow. Yay, Black Friday...

I hope your Thanksgiving was as good as mine!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Best wishes

Nothing new to report.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
With or without the cranberry sauce...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Good News and the Bad News

First, the Good News - The World's Warmest Mittens are done! Done! Done!
I worked out what I did wrong on the thumbs and fixed it. The ends are woven in, and they're ready to present to WGS.
Here's a closeup of the herringbone pattern, wonky handspun alpaca and all:
Pattern: Elliphantom's Herringbone Mittens
Yarn: My handspun alpaca. The fleeces came from WGS's own alpacas.
Needles: size 4 DPN
Modifications: I knit a K1P1 ribbing cuff to help the mittens stay on. And the biggest mod is that I thrummed the pattern to make the mittens extra warm. (Thrums were also alpaca.)

I am so so so happy with how these turned out!

And now for the bad news... Well, first, some more good news - I've got a thumb done on the Selbuvotter gloves! I haven't finished weaving in ends, but happy progress has been made. Here are a couple of photos I took while wearing the glove. I stupidly finished the right one first, so had to take the pictures left-handed. And blind, since I couldn't hold my hand in the light and still see through the viewfinder... I took about 20 pics before I got any I could use. Though I got some fabulous shots of my wrist and my fingertips...

So, flush with this victory, I sat down to work on Thumb 2. I was happily knitting away, chatting occasionally with Madman, who was working on his plans for remodeling the chicken coop.
That little voice in the back of my head (You know the one. It always means trouble...) started going "Psst. Psst..."
I knitted harder.
Crap. I sighed, and looked. And sighed.
When I got up and got the camera, Madman knew something was up. He gave me an inquiring look.
"They got me again!" I said.
"Oh, no! What now?"
"Take a look at the base of the thumbs..."

"Oh no! Does that mean you have to knit another one?"
"Absolutely not. I'm just going to pretend I don't see it."

These gloves are kicking my ass.

Monday, November 24, 2008

My Roguish Madman

Madman took a nap. I ambushed him...Apparently he was cold, since he had the hood up.

I warned him the cables wouldn't show up very well...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Day Off, with Chicken Guts

But no pictures. Promise.

For the last 3 Sundays, we have been butchering 2 or 3 chickens and putting them in the freezer. We try to raise as much of our food as possible, both to reduce our carbon footprint and to take responsibility for the food we eat. (As a further plus, we know where our food comes from and how it was treated before it hit our plates.)
We treat our chickens with great kindness during their lives. We make sure they have plenty of food, fresh water, room to move, fresh air. We speak to them daily, and give them friendly pats whenever we can. Though the concept of 'patting' seems to be slightly alien to chickens - they do give us funny looks...
Over the 3 years we've been raising them, we've gotten it down to a system. Madman does the actual killing - it's hard on him because he is the kindest of people, so he does it as humanely as possible. I do the plucking, since that kind of task makes him go stark staring bonkers. (I think I have some OCD tendencies - give me a tedious repetitive task and I'm just happy for hours. And hours...) Then it's his turn again - removing the messy bits (I think this appeals to his inner Man-the-Mighty-Hunter), then I take over again for the division of parts and packaging for the freezer. We make a good team, since neither of us wants the jobs the other one is doing.
We aren't vegetarians, nor do we plan to be. (Especially me, since I'm both lactose-intolerant and allergic to soy. A lifetime of nothing but rice and beans just ain't gonna happen...) We do eat the occasional vegetarian meal; even non-vegetarians can enjoy a plate without meat.
Though, actually, I was a vegetarian from the time I was 16 till 19. This was back in the days when saying you were a vegetarian was like saying "Hi, I'm from Mars!" I finally gave it up because I was working a gazillion hours a week, was too tired to cook for myself, and the only thing I could find to eat out was a grilled cheese sandwich. I was starving. And I missed bacon. Really really missed bacon. And pork chops. And my Grandma's fried chicken...
I have the utmost respect for true vegetarians. I admire their commitment. But it's not my path.

And as my final word on vegetarianism: my youngest daughter would tell me about her classmates who claimed "I'm a vegetarian. Except for fish. And chicken."
I wanted to tell them, "Honey, if anything you eat has a face, you ain't a vegetarian..."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

22 Down, 8 To Go

This has to be the coolest site, ever! I'm trying to figure out a way to incorporate it into knitting. Slippers with fancy laces are obvious, but how about a decorative lacing on the front or side of a hat? Or on the backs of mittens - maybe something with a gauntlet cuff? Or maybe the neckline of a sweater? Or maybe on the sleeve caps?
Possibilities, possibilities...

Great. Just what I need, another time suck... I'm not getting anything done as it is.

Friday, November 21, 2008


I joined Ravelry months and months ago. (I just went and looked. January 12th! OMG) So far, out of all the brilliant features that are offered, I have used.... none.
Every time I log on, I think THIS time I'm going to actually DO something - use the notebook, start a queue, list a project, post a damn picture.
I start looking at pretty pictures. They lead me to other pretty pictures, and even more pretty pictures. Whatever time I could have spared to accomplish anything gets sucked up by rubber-necking.

Robin Gallimore's gorgeous sock patterns

what everyone else has been doing with the Baby Surprise Jacket

Cat Bordhi's patterns




Ooops. Sorry. Wandered off. While looking for examples, I sort of lost track of what I was doing.
Like I was saying...

I hear they have forums, too.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

If I can think of anything for this post, I'll only have 10 to go...

When I decided to start a blog, I procrastinated for about 2 years before I actually got around to it. As a matter of fact, I thought I should name it "procrastiknitter", but it turned out someone was already using that name. (Clearly she didn't deserve it, since she hadn't procrastinated nearly long enough to be entitled to it... i.e. longer than me.)
My original intent was to post once or twice a week, maybe more often if the mood struck. Instead, I sometimes let weeks go by without a post. It wasn't that there was nothing to post about - I'd often think "oh, what great blog fodder!" over the course of the week, but wouldn't get around to actually planting my butt in the chair and making something of it.
When I signed myself for NaBloPoMo, I was hoping it would be enough of a kick in the aforementioned butt to get me in the habit of seeing bloggable and blogging.

I sure wish I had taken some notes between January and October...

The thrummed mittens are currently in time-out. I've knit the thumbs, but they don't match. I have no idea which one I screwed up... This, of course, is the only part of the pattern that all I had to do was follow it as written. *sigh*

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It's late, I'm tired, and Blogger isn't co-operating...

Shamelessly swiped from my favorite time-waster. I could spend hours there. I have spent hours there. With tears running down my face from laughing too hard.
As a matter of fact, I think I'll go there now.
I need a good laugh...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Spinning and handedness

Laurie has a really interesting discussion going on on her blog about which hand is which when spinning.
She tells me that I'm one of the lucky ones who started with the dominant hand as the orifice hand. Since I'm a self-taught spinner, I had no teacher to put me on the path, so I had a fifty/fifty chance of getting it right, I guess.
I started with a spindle, and used my right (dominant) hand as the one that did all the fiddly bits - setting the spindle in motion, controlling the twist, keeping the wilder swings from clonking the cat in the nose, etc. When I started spinning with the wheel, it seemed natural to keep on using my left hand to hold the fiber and my right hand to control the twist.
Laurie, who learned to spin the other way around, is experimenting with switching her hands. The comments are full of interesting takes on the whole idea - whether to switch or not, how to switch, and whether the benefit is worth the cost.
I'm fascinated!

And since Horatio and Serafina got such a nice response, here's another of my little folk. (Please excuse the crappy picture. It was my old camera, and my photography skills still need a lot of work...)
This is Willoughbie, my little halfling friend. He loves to travel, and always accompanies me to craft shows I'm vending at. (I've always priced him way too high, because I hate to part with him. I pretend I'm trying to sell him, but secretly I'm not...)

Monday, November 17, 2008

My middle name should be Cleopatra

I spent most of today diligently not looking out the windows, trying to deny the fact that it was snowing. While driving in to work, I pretended that what I was seeing was dandelion fluff. Yeah, that's it - dandelion fluff. Couldn't be anything else...


Actually, my middle name is Grace. It's a name I'm very happy with, since I picked it out myself. When I was born, my parents gave me a superfluous first name and always called me by my middle name. This caused all kinds of problems for the extremely shy child that I was, from having to explain to teachers that I went by my middle name to being taunted by schoolmates with accusations that I couldn't even keep my name straight. So, when I married the first time, I ditched the first name, took my middle name as first name, maiden name as my middle name, and his last name.
When the divorce rolled around, my lawyer told me I got a free legal name change as part of the deal. I decided to go back to my maiden name, but without the original first name. So, I needed a new middle name.
I dithered and dithered and dithered. Nothing sounded right. The hearing was getting closer and closer, and I still couldn't come up with a name.
Then one evening I tripped over something (probably my own feet), and in my head I heard a friend's voice saying (as he so often did. I'm clumsy...) "Well, Grace is not your middle name."
"Aha!" I thought. "But it could be!"
And that was that.

Didn't help me much in the clumsiness department, though.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Now with pie!

Madman and I spent the morning sending a trio of chickens to that great freezer in the sky. Well, two went into the freezer. One went into the oven so he could be the honored guest for supper.
But between the chicken plucking and the chicken baking, I took some time out to make this pie.
Oh. My. God. This is the most decadent apple pie ever! This is so good that it's probably illegal in at least a dozen states. I'm not even going to try to take a photo - Pioneer Woman's photos are light-years better than mine could ever be.
Of course, being me, instead of just buying caramel topping, I went ahead and made my own. So now I have two cups of leftover caramel topping in the fridge looking for something to top...
Getting back to the chicken... Last time I baked a chicken, I did the whole number with stuffing and mashed potatoes and gravy - sort of a mini-Thanksgiving. Since I was going to be making that crazy pie, I decided to do something easier with the chicken. Torn up cherry peppers pushed under the skin, baked on a bed of sliced onions, with more onions and more cherry peppers in the cavity. I ran to the grocery store for the few sundries we needed and hunted down the cherry peppers. Imagine my surprise when the only kind I could find were labeled "Mild".
Mild cherry peppers? What's the point of that???
The chicken came out okay - just lacked that certain "oomph" I was hoping for. It's as bad as those mild "jalapenos" that they make poppers out of. What a disappointment those were the first time I tried them...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Halfway there...

When I decided to flog myself with this NaBloPoMo challenge, I thought I was nuts. And I was right...
This is really hard. I already had heaps of respect and admiration for Norma and Sandy and others who have been blogging 365 - now I know I should just fall down and worship at their feet. I'm slogging after 14 days - how the hell do you stay fresh and interesting for 365??? (And they do - that's the part that really gets me. I can't wait to see what they've written next.)
I had one of those days at work where my brains turned to pudding again. I work in retail, it's Saturday, and I'm in Customer Service. You can fill in the blanks. By 4:00 I wanted to just go sit in the corner and do the "be-ba-be-ba" lip-twiddle thing.
So, since I can't think of anything to say, I'll show you a picture of something I do. In my sidebar, I mention being a dollmaker. Here's a couple I made:
This is Horatio and his Great-Aunt Serafina. Notice she's wearing a hand-knitted stole. She insisted.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Just because there aren't enough pictures of blue-haired girls leading llamas

My fabulous youngest daughter leading a llama at Vt Sheep and Wool 2005. She makes blue look like a natural hair color.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Checklist

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a morning person. Unfortunately for me, I've had a lot of day jobs over the years (and have one now), so I've had to come up with a lot of crutches.
I have to hit the snooze button at least three times before I can persuade myself to get out of bed in the morning, so I can sneak up on the day. And I keep the alarm clock set 18 minutes fast - just enough so that I can't do the math in my head unless I'm awake enough to get up anyway. And I have to get up early enough to allow for the consumption of half a pot of coffee, since I shouldn't be allowed to drive until I'm fully caffeinated...
My most important tool is new - it's The Checklist.
I have a little litany I run through each morning on my way out the door, to make sure I have everything I need to attack the day.
When I first started this job, the list was short.
Glasses*, lunch, carkeys, coffee.
(*They're reading glasses. I need them at work, but it's easier to see to drive without them. When they're not on my nose, I keep them parked on top my head. Glasses parked on top of my head and glasses not parked on top of my head can feel remarkably similar.)
Then I needed to be able to tie my hair back at some point in the workday.
Glasses, lunch, hairtie, carkeys, coffee
Then I had to buy a watch, since I needed to keep track of time, but couldn't see the clock.
Glasses, watch, lunch, hairtie, carkeys, coffee.
Then the list expanded to
Glasses, watch, matching shoes*, lunch, hairtie, carkeys, coffee.
(*I'd been at work for a couple of hours one day before I noticed that, though my shoes were both white sneakers, they were from two different pairs of white sneaker. Obviously different pairs of white sneakers. Being me, I immediately had to go tell everyone. "Psst, look at my shoes...")
Then I got the cellphone.
Glasses, watch, matching shoes, lunch, hairtie, carkeys, coffee, cellphone.
Then I caught Madman's Killer Cold.
Glasses, watch, matching shoes, lunch, hairtie, carkeys, coffee, cellphone, coughdrops, tissues.

I'm now in a holding pattern with that checklist. Hopefully I won't have to add anything else to it, or I'll have to get up even earlier just in order to have time to rattle off the list.

And I think The Checklist may be contagious. The other day when Madman was heading out the door, I heard him muttering "Glasses, watch, carkeys..."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Knitting accessories for the thrifty...

Knitting doesn't have to be an expensive hobby.
Here's what you do when you don't own a swift:

I don't have a ball-winder, either. But I have an All-Natural, Organic Nostepinde:

And, though I now own an honest-to-goodness real-life Lazy Kate, I'll always have a place in my heart for my first Lazy Kate:

Nothing wrong with Lo-Tech...
(And, yes, those are Long Trail bottles. This is Vermont, after all...)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Finally done with the garden

Madman was a little startled that I had posted about our little "incident" the other day.
("You didn't really blog about that, did you?" "Sweetie, how could I NOT?")
So, to make it up to him, I made him his favorite dessert:

Maple Apple Crisp! Not a great picture, but sure is tasty... The first time I made this for him, I thought he was going to propose, which, considering we've been married for over 10 years, is a pretty big thumbs up...

We also processed the last of the tomatoes of the year. These are the ones that we brought in green the day we decided to give up heating the hoophouse. They've been ripening all this time, and were finally red enough to use. They won't have the full flavor that the vine-ripened ones had, but I just put them up as chopped tomatoes to be used as a throw-in when I'm making something that needs a few tomato bits to perk it up.
And that officially ends the 2008 garden.

Monday, November 10, 2008

It's much calmer here today

Well, today was much quieter than yesterday. No hot water spewing in 14 directions in the bathroom, and the cat has stopped bulleting out of the room every time we turn on a faucet.

Quiet is good.

I'm hoping to get a picture of Madman in the sweater tomorrow - I have the day off, and Madman has most of it. I still might have to bushwhack him - getting a photo of him is a huge sport amongst family and friends. He has this uncanny ability to sense a camera pointed at him, and always manages to dodge out of the frame or at least cover his face.
I have a lot of pictures of his hats...
Maybe if I promise not to show his face?
Is it still a lie if I mean it when I say it?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Just shoot me now

Remember how I wished for something ridiculous to happen so I could blog about it?


Today my Madman learned the First Rule of Plumbing.

Turn off the water before you touch anything.

I had no idea he didn't know that. I also had no idea he knew so many cuss-words.
We had one of those I Love Lucy disasters with the hot water faucet in the shower, leaving us with every towel in the house dripping wet, fogged up windows, and a slightly disgruntled cat. (She likes to watch 'Dad' when he's puttering with stuff...)
My contribution, besides throwing towels on the floor to try to staunch the flood, was trying to find the right circuit breaker to shut off the water pump. I had the old breaker marked, but some re-wiring a couple of years back had changed the circuit the pump was on, and in the general hysteria, I forgot that fact. I ended up hitting every breaker in turn, listening for the pump to shut off. Naturally, I hit every breaker but the correct one first...
So besides mopping up the water and soothing the cat, we've had to go all around the house re-setting clocks since they were all blinking "12:00.... 12:00.... 12:00..."


Some days the blog just writes itself...

Saturday, November 8, 2008


Wow - looks like Norma sent a bunch of folks over this morning! The power of the Norma is mighty!
The topic under discussion is the Continental purl stitch.
I originally learned to knit English style, and knit that way for 20 years. Then I read about the Continental style in a library book (this was many many years before internet and YouTube...), and taught myself to do it. My knitting speed more than doubled overnight, and ribbing became a breeze to do instead of being an awful chore. I've been Continental ever since. (And knowing how to knit both ways has made colorwork a lot easier, too!)
Over the years, I've seen people complaining about how hard the Continental purl was. I just couldn't understand why anyone would have a problem - it's light years easier than throwing.
Until Norma asked me about it. I went looking for a good video for her, and was appalled that most of the links on the first 2 pages of a google search turned up the same video - which showed the most contorted, awful, scary knitting maneuver I had ever seen! Some one should warn people NOT to watch that video!! (I guess that would be me...)

So, here's my lame attempt to photograph my own hand demonstrating the Continental purl.

The yarn is over my left index finger, just like in Continental knitting. The working yarn is to the front. Insert right needle into the stitch, ducking under the working yarn.

The yarn is pushed down with the left index finger, over the top of the needle. This is the only motion required for the whole stitch: the left index finger moves down about an inch.

With the index finger still down, pull the yarn through the stitch, and the old stitch off the needle.

To me, this seems like the easiest thing in the world.

I hope this helps someone! Good luck and happy knitting!

Friday, November 7, 2008


While I'm waiting to ambush Madman with the camera while he's wearing his new sweater, I'll tell a little about it.
I knit myself a Rogue in a beautiful mossy green, finishing it in late 2006 or early 2007. I made the cardigan version, since I much prefer them to pullovers. (I've always found it hard to take off a pullover without flashing my lingerie at the world. And you can't ask just anybody "Excuse me, could you hold my shirt down so I can take off my sweater?")
So. Anyway.
Madman took one look at the sweater, fell in love with the cables, and asked if I could make a male version of it.
"Sure, no problem. I'll knit you one for your birthday! What color would you like?"
My brain went "Erk! Black cables? I'll go mad..."
I tried to hint. "The cables might not show up very well in black."
He's not so good at taking the hints... "Oh, I'm sure it'll be fine!"
Perhaps if I had been up front about it, like "Trying to knit cables in black yarn will make me weep. Especially complicated cables. Complicated cables like in this particular sweater. In black. And trying to graft those cables will make me have to go lie down, or go drink a beer, or go lie down and drink a beer, every 5 minutes or 5 stitches, whichever comes first. And did I mention the weeping?"
But I had (rashly) let him pick the color, not said "You can have any color but the one you want."
It took f o r e v e r...
He chose the pullover version, and asked that it be a little longer than mine. I eliminated the waist shaping by skipping the decreases & increases, and used a fatter cable up the sides. I also made the kangaroo pocket a little deeper, to make it more useful to him.
When I got to the complex cables around the neck/hood, I did indeed weep. Even with the strongest light bulbs installed in the fixtures in the living room, I still had a difficult time seeing those black criss-crossing stitches. I couldn't work on it for very long at a time, because my eyes would go all wonky and I'd drop stitches and have the very devil of a time trying to figure out where they'd gone.
And the grafting. Oh my, the grafting... I thought the cabling was hard. The grafting made my brain hurt.
So, I finished his April '07 birthday sweater in October '08.

Next time, I'm picking out the color...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I might be already kicking myself...

So, after shooting off my big mouth yesterday, here I sit, after a day where by 3pm my brains had turned to pudding and were leaking out my ears and I still had to hang in there till 5pm, trying to come up with a post.

The second thrummed Herringbone mitten is still in progress. It looks remarkably like the first one did at the same age, so not much point in photographing it. (And it's too dark anyway, by now.)
I've got the pinky and ring fingers of the second Selbu glove done, and am 'roaring' up the middle finger, but, again, it looks pretty much like the first one. (Actually, thank goodness for that similarity. See this post, if you haven't been following along at home.)
I finished the male-version of Rogue that I knit for Madman (meant for his birthday. In April. Of 2007. Oops.) but given that a) it's dark and b) he's notoriously camera-shy, I have no pic for that either.

I'm starting to worry that by the 15th of November I'll be reduced to telling about the time my little brother's (clandestine) pet garter snake escaped in the house.
And by the 25th, my post will consist solely of "Um. Ummm...."

Hopefully, something outrageous and/or ridiculous will happen to me between now and November 30th.

What are the odds?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

As long as I'm pointing fingers this month...

I'm pointing this one at Laurie. She's running the NaBloPoMo gauntlet. I'm all admiring of her courage, and inspired by it, and all that.
In an email to her earlier this week, I said I was going to try it, too, but I was taking the coward's way out and not declaring till I'd gotten a bunch of posts out.
But! No more Cowardliness!
I'm thinking the self-discipline will be good for me. (We likes us the self-displines, oh yes, we does) So, here goes nothing...


But I've probably screwed it up already - I didn't get my November 1st post published until November 2nd. Though I did publish twice on November 2nd, so my count is okay.

So, can I get a ruling on this? Who's in charge, here, anyway?

I'm with ya, Laurie! If you can do it, so can I!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Well, I won't be doing THAT again...

/begin rant

I just got off the phone with Knit Picks customer service. Not happy.
I had ordered a set of DPNs from them (and let's pretend that it wasn't because I have start-itis so bad that I'm buying more needles because the ones I already have are all full.) and ordered 4 skeins of fingering yarn to go with the needles. (Yep, no problem with start-itis here...)
The plan was to combine color A and color B into one pair of gloves or mittens, and color C and color D into another. Color D was really an also-ran - it was the only one that looked like it would work with color C (which I loved.)
Today I got an email saying my order shipped. Guess what? Colors A, B, and C are discontinued (even though they're listed in the catalog as "NEW!") so the only color I'm going to be getting is the one that I didn't really care about.
I've ordered from Knit Picks lots of times, and have always been happy. The only time there was an issue with something being out of stock, I got a phone call from a very helpful woman in customer service who went to great effort to help me find a substitute for the missing color.
So when I got done reading the email, I got right on the phone to customer service, thinking I would get someone helpful.
The woman I talked to was not responsive at all. Through the whole call, she was just waiting for me to stop talking so she could say goodbye. The only things she said were "That's already processed." when I gave her the order number, and "You're getting a refund for $x.xx" when I pointed out that if I'd known I was only getting the one skein of yarn, I would have canceled that skein, since it was useless without the other color (and would have saved $1 on the shipping, since that one skein pushed my order into the next shipping category.)
There was no "I'm sorry" or "What can I do to help" or any of the other phrases I would consider the bare minimum for 'customer service.' Almost everything I said was met with total silence.
I'm not upset about the items not being available (disappointed, but not upset) because I know that these things happen. What's bugging me is her "so what?" attitude.
Not a good way to do business.

/end rant

Monday, November 3, 2008

Why can't we just stay on Daylight Saving Time forever?!?

Madman came to my rescue once again. I had bought a cheap watch last spring for my new job. (There's no point in my buying anything but cheap watches, since I kill them. I kill them dead. It's downright cruel for me to buy a watch at all...) Against all odds, this one was still working.
Now, I'm sure I put the little instruction booklet in A Safe Place. I'm convinced I did. But my idea of a Safe Place seems to turn into some sort of Black Hole. Couldn't find the booklet. I really really looked. (On the plus side, I did find the instruction booklet for my jumpstart power supply, which I didn't even know was lost.)
I needed to set my watch back, but couldn't figure it out. It has four buttons on it. I tried every sequence and combination possible (and there are many permutations...) but had no luck at all.
I decided I now had two choices:
1) Deduct an hour from the time shown on the watch for the next six months.
2) Buy a new cheap watch.
Madman had been watching me fuss and fume, and finally said "Can I try?" He started messing with it, muttering things like "This should do it. Hmmm, nope." and "Maybe if... Nope." and "Oh, this'll work. Hmmm. Nope." At one point he whooped and said "I can reset the seconds! Not useful, but it's the first time it's let me change anything!" He futzed around a bit more, then handed it back to me - "I got it, but don't ask me how."

Maybe when we go back on DST, I'll just buy another watch. It's perfectly sensible to have two watches, right? One for DST and one for regular time.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I blame Jessie

It's totally her fault.I have doughnuts in my house. Great big homemade doughnuts. Honking gargantu-doughnuts.

And that is not a saucer they're on - that's a full-size 10.5" dinner plate.

I bought a doughnut cutter last year, but until I saw Jessie's doughnuts this morning, I'd forgotten all about it. (I used to use those little biscuit cutters with the removable centers, but all my centers seemed to have been permanently removed. From the house...)

I had several realizations as I was making this raft of doughnuts:
1) The recipe I always use is the one that should have a half-cup more flour, but since I've never gotten around to making a note of this, I forget every time.
2) This doughnut cutter is too big. The doughnuts turn out so big that I can only fit one at a time into my fryer.
3) Frying doughnuts one at a time makes a long drawn-out process an irritatingly long drawn-out process.
4) I wanted to be the owner of a plateful of doughnuts much more than I wanted to be the maker of a plateful of doughnuts.

Now normally I'm all about the process, with the product running a distant second. But I've found that, in the case of cookies (and doughnuts), the only thing I'm interested in is the product. Usually I remember this about halfway through the project.
Baking a cake or a pie is easy - one thing and you're done. It's like knitting a hat or scarf. But cookies and doughnuts go on and on and on. It's sort of like Second Sock Syndrome - but you're knitting socks for a centipede, so it's Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Sock Syndrome as well.

But seeing the smile on Madman's face as he walked through the door made up for it. "OOOOO! Doughnuts!"


Thanks, kmkat!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Just can't stop talking about the chickens...

We've reached a new and hilarious milestone in chicken development - the youngling roosters are learning to crow.
Rooster chicks are born with an innate desire to crow, but there's no innate ability to crow to go along with it. It's a learned skill.
They start out making strangulated "ER!!" noises, with overtones of rusty hinge. Then they progress to variations - "A-ERRRK!" and "ERRRRKKK-AH!" and "ERK!_ERK!" It takes many many tries over many many days to arrive at a true rooster crow.
Now this is hilarious in and of itself. The range of sounds produced by that crowd of little roosters is rich and crazy.
But in the coop next door is our full-grown rooster, Big Red, he of the Monstrous Ego. In his view, his place in the universe is Top Gun, Supreme Master, Cock-of-the-Walk (literally), and Boss of All Chickendom. Every crowing noise from those out-of-sight little roosters is seen as a challenge to his Majesty, and a personal affront.
So he answers each little "ERK!!" with a full-tilt 5-syllable how-dare-you full-throated crow.
Now there's at least a dozen of the little guys, and only one of him.

Big Red is starting to get a little hoarse...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Oy, too tired...

I got a promotion at work. That's the good news. The bad news is that my hours changed so that now I have to be at work before I used to get up. So I've been getting up *gasp* In The Dark. Not so good for a night person.
And the workdays have been longer. And exhausting. More mentally than physically, but still, exhausting.
So not much knitting has been happening. Or anything else, for that matter.

As for feeding chickens in the dark? Sucks rocks...

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Originally uploaded by mangofeet
Madman picked a pile o' pretty peppers, a pile o' pretty peppers Madman picked...

Last night, with temps predicted in the 20's, we decided to call it quits on the hoophouse. Madman went out and picked all the remaining peppers and tomatoes. The smaller peppers on the left are the bells, the larger ones are our ancho chile peppers. We had really hoped for some of the chiles to turn red, but I think the variety we grew this year needs longer days, or maybe more longer days, in order to fully ripen.
Over the next day or two, we'll be chopping and freezing most of these peppers. Come winter, we'll be able to pull out whatever we need for making supper.