Sunday, February 28, 2010

A few more notes from the road trip

There are a few details I forgot to mention yesterday.
After loading poor stubborn Goldie in the car (which we had bought half an hour earlier), we discovered that we needed gas.
The guy gassing up in the next line over kept trying to peek into the back of our car. Finally, he just had to ask Madman "Is that some kind of dog?"
Madman laughed and said, "Nope, she's a sheep." Now I would have been tempted to just leave it at that, and make the guy wonder (or ask.) Or I might have added "She just loves to ride in the car." But Madman took the higher road and explained that she was on her way to be bred.
I expect that guy is still shaking his head about the sheep in the back of the station wagon.

The "new" car is a Subaru wagon. We needed all-wheel drive (or I couldn't have gotten up the driveway for 6 months out of the year) and something big enough to haul stuff (like, for instance, sheep.) Though Madman got so excited that he'd found a car that we could afford to pay cash for, that he forgot to ask about the transmission.
Last time I drove a manual was in 1970.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Goldie's Excellent Adventure

We'd had big plans for last Wednesday, which were cancelled due to snow. Today was the make-up day. (Of course, it snowed again last night and this morning. Go figure.)

Step one was loading Goldie in the car. I'd hoped to get some pics of that, but had my hands full wrangling gates and car doors while poor Madman had his hands full of crazed sheep. (You can't reason with sheep. That 'Fight or Flight' thing? They're pretty much all about the flight. The best you can do is hang on tight and try to steer.)
"We're going where??"

"Well, why didn't you say so?"

Goldie's getting to visit an Old Flame.

His name is Apollo.
He was pretty happy, too.
Though maybe his owner should have let it be a surprise. She went out this morning to find that he had busted down the door of the Honeymoon Suite and was running amok through the barn and pasture. She finally got him shut out of the barn so she could shift around some bewildered sheep without him knocking her into next week.
So the happy reunion is put off for a bit, until she can get the pen door back on its tracks and the ram safely captured again.
Goldie, meanwhile, is renewing acquaintance with some old friends and waiting for her Big Date.

And, yes, I know - we're doing it backwards. We're having our sheep bred at lambing time. That's the way it worked out. We've never aspired to Normal...

Onyx and Merlin are currently standing at the fence, staring at the car and wondering where Goldie went, with an occasional forlorn "baa?"

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Screamin' Orange Yarn Farts

(The Devil made me do it. Or Carrie.)

Ooops, I pointed the ball of yarn the wrong way...

There, that's better.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Snow Day

Today's blog-worthy activity was cancelled, due to this:

Here's the girls, standing up to their knees in new snow -

and Merlin, doing the same.

Note: I was standing in 6+ inches of fresh snow to take these pictures. And it's still coming down hard.
We'll try again this weekend.

In the meantime, I'm 20 rows into Maplewing. That doesn't sound like much, but at 522 stitches per row, that's a heap of knitting. And there's no easy purl-back rows on this sucker - every row is a pattern row. P3, YO, P10, P2tog, P3, P2togtbl, etc. Yeehaw.
No photos yet, since it looks like a giant yarn fart at this point.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Am I that transparent?
It was Skew. The actual time elapsed between cast-off and cast-on was about 25 minutes. Five minutes to fill the sink with water and throw the collar in to soak. (I love holding them underwater until the bubbles stop.) (And doesn't that sound sinister?) (I'm wondering what kind of google searches will bring this link up.) (Perhaps it's best not to think about it too much.) Fifteen minutes to wind the ball of sock yarn from my stash. (A prize from Norma, way back in April.) Five minutes to fart around, trying to recall Judy's Magic Cast-on. (Epic fail. I finally went with Turkish cast-on, which was my pre-Judy standard.)
Much as I love this yarn, and I really truly love this yarn (Happy Feet in the best colorway ever), it just wasn't right for Skew.

The magic of Skew is in the strong diagonals, and this beautiful yarn just doesn't show off the pattern. I decided to save it for another project, and cast-on again with some pretty purple.

This yarn came from AnnaMarie, who got so mad at it that she sent it into permanent time-out. At my house. (I didn't ask what the yarn did. Sometimes it's best not to know.)
While this was slightly better for the pattern, it still just isn't cutting it.
Must rethink. It might require a trip to the yarn shop. When I get a car. (Yes, still car-less. Cranky, frustrated, and car-less.)
In the meantime, I'm going to do what I should have done in the first place.

Cast on Maplewing.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming

Life is good again. The internet connection is stable and I can google at will. No more jonesing for blogs. No more whining for email. And I didn't pull out all my hair...

The cabled coat's collar piece is still drying. It went from pieces to piece when I grafted the live stitches together in the middle, rather than seaming them as the pattern called for. (There are only 2 reasons to use a seam rather than a graft - a) a seam gives stability, like at the back of a sweater's neck, or b) trying to explain how to kitchener two cabled sections would make both the designer and the knitter crazy. There was no reason for the center of a collar to need stability, so I'm going with option b as the designer's reason for the seam.)
There is a problem lurking, however. The instructions said to knit the collar pieces to a length of 24.5". I started measuring at around 18" and every other row thereafter. (Are we there yet? Are we there yet?) No way did I want to knit those last two pieces even a millimeter longer than I had to. The graft line came at exactly 24.5". Unfortunately, when I blocked it, the length grew and grew to over 26" at the midpoint. I tried pulling it widthwise, but that only scalloped the edges. Looks like I'm going to have to suck it up, and start seaming from opposite ends, then cut and rip back the center part and regraft it to fit. I'm at a standstill while I contemplate this.

So, with a major project off the needles (not complete, but off the needles. That totally counts.) I felt free to cast on something else!
But what?
Maplewing has been making my heart go pitty-pat for months. But there was also this sock pattern that caused sudden lust to overcome me.

What to do first?

Here are your clues:

Maplewing is at the top of my list for I-want-want-want-this-shawl. It has been for months.
I started it last fall, but hated the beige yarn I'd picked. In my heart I wanted orange.
I spun beautiful orange roving to make beautiful orange yarn especially for it.
I had a ball of that orange yarn already wound and ready to go.
The cast-on for Maplewing is 522 stitches.
Skew is a passion of only a few days. (So far. It just came out.)
I did have sock yarn in the stash.
I didn't have any sock yarn wound and ready to go.
I'd have to hunt for sock needles that weren't already occupied by something else.
The cast-on for Skew is 12 stitches.
But I'd need to go online to look up Judy's Magic Cast-On, which I use just often enough to not be able to remember how to do it.
I was having internet connection problems.
I could use Turkish cast-on, instead.

Which do you think I started?

Bonus points for guessing the time interval between binding off the last stitch of the cabled coat and casting on for the new project.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Prairie dog post - Gah!

Having serious connecting issues, interspersed with colorful crashes. Must type quickly!
First time I've actually been able to connect since Friday morning. Frustrated!!
There's been knitting in between streams of cursing. Or concurrently with.
Last stitch was knit on cabled coat. Last piece blocking. Sewing will commence when I can stop pounding my head on the desk long enough to look at it.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What's my Wallpaper?

Okay, so kmkat wants to know. Here it is:

Like she said, "I'll show you mine if you show me yours..."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Just as I suspected

Goldie is a part-time blond.

If you look in my sidebar, you'll see a shot of Goldie when she first joined our happy little menagerie. Very blond.
Then go here, and you'll see how she looked in early December, and here for another shot in late January. Her face was completely black, except for her nose and around her eyes.

Here's a closer look at how she looks today. Definite blond highlights starting to show up.

How is she getting to the beauty shop without me knowing about it?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Danger Zone

That's where I am now with the cabled coat. I've knit the back, the godet, the sleeves, and the fronts. I've got about 10" of collar pieces left to knit, and the urge to cast on something else is so large that I'm practically tripping over it. Even the UFOs are starting to sing a Lorelei song. But if I set this knitting aside for even a moment, it'll be months before I get back to it. Months. And I really want this sweater...

To help my focus, I've started blocking the pieces. I got the back, godet, and fronts laid out today, and will get to the sleeves tomorrow or the next day. The first problem was finding a place that a) was a cat-free zone, and b) had some available horizontal surface. There's not a lot of overlap of a and b here. (I once needed to block a shawl in a hurry - what with the binding-off and the gift-giving coming so close together and all. A house full of house-guests complicated the matter. I ended up pinning it to a wall - using the vertical since I had no horizontal...)
Youngest daughter's former room has bunkbeds. And the door closes.

And can anyone figure out how one of my skeins of orange handspun wound itself into a ball? I'm thinking it's probably a Genuine Miracle. There's no chance at all that I did it. Nossir.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Eau de Banana

Yesterday Madman was all coated and booted up and headed out the door when he realized he'd forgotten his checkbook. He called to me to ask if I'd grab it for him and bring it, since he didn't want to track his snowy boots all over the floor. (I sometimes think this is why men get married - so they'll have someone to fetch stuff for them so they don't track on the floor. On the other hand, if they weren't married, they could just track on the floor. Sort of a Catch-22.)
I called back to him that my checkbook was in my lunchbox right next to him, and suggested he just take that.
He opened the lunchbox and said "Mmmm.... Smelly banana lunchbox."
I'd taken a banana with my lunch on Saturday, and had saved the peel to put on the compost heap. Unfortunately, I'd forgotten to take it out of the lunchbox.
That was followed by "Mmmmm... Smelly banana paperback book." (I carry a book to read with my lunch.)
Then, "Mmmmm... Smelly banana checkbook."

Good thing my knitting doesn't fit in my lunchbox...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The end is in sight!

Woohoo! Just finished the second sweater front. (It looks amazing like the first sweater front...)
I've cast on the collar pieces. There are two, and I'll be knitting them simultaneously.
Now I've just got to keep overcoming the urge to cast on a shawl (Maplewing!) or a sock (anything!) and just keep knitting this sweater.
Wish me luck.

Monday, February 1, 2010

One step ahead of the Riot Crowd of Interested Parties

What? You want the recipe? Really?

Well, okay, here goes...

Gayle's Totally Decadent Pumpkin Muffins

Streusel Topping:
4 Tbsp flour
3 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
3 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Cream Cheese Topping:
1 8oz package cream cheese
1 egg
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Muffin Batter:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 1/3 cup pumpkin (I used homegrown*, canned will work, too)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease muffin pan, or use paper liners.

Streusel - In a small bowl, mix flour, sugars, butter, and cinnamon with a fork until crumbly. Stir in pecans.

Cream cheese layer - Beat cream cheese until soft. Add egg, sugar, and vanilla and beat until smooth.

Muffin batter - In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Make a well in the center, and add the pumpkin, eggs, oil, and vanilla. Stir just until combined.

Fill the muffin cups about 1/2 full of batter. (I use an ice cream scoop.) Plop a good tablespoon of cream cheese topping in the center, then sprinkle on a generous amount of streusel.

Bake at 375F for about 20 minutes, testing with a toothpick.

Note: you can skip the cream cheese layer if you don't have or like cream cheese. Just fill the muffin cups about 2/3 full of batter and sprinkle with streusel. An excellent muffin, either way.

I ended up with 24 cream cheese muffins, and 5 plain ones (when the cream cheese ran out.) These probably have about a gabillion calories each - be warned!

*My homegrown pumpkin was a little drier than commercial pumpkin, so I ended up adding a splash of milk to make the batter moist enough. YMMV.