Thursday, January 31, 2008


Surf at the speed of light to Discontinued Name Brand Yarns. They are having a SALE on rhinestone zippers. I saw that and I couldn't think of anything else this morning. I went straight to the zippers and bought an armload. I had seen these before and admired them, but the price (23.00 for a 22" zipper) always stopped me. These zippers are 1.99. They aren't really multi-colored rhinestones, in the traditional sense, but aurora borealis. Blingy.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


My hat came home today, and brought friends! Wow, I'll let my hat go on a road trip any old time! Of special interest to me are the two skeins on the lower left-Buffalo Gals Bison and Merino blend (that should be DANDY stuff--DH is getting a hat) and the pale skein is Bambalo or Buffboo-25% buffalo, 75% bamboo. (I rather like calling it Buffboo-that just makes me want to giggle.)
I think DGD is getting the toy buffalo.

How to do it better-

This is the "knitting that must not be named" that I worked so hard on before Christmas. I used Elann's Highland Bulky and size 10 needles.

I thought really hard about the things that need to happen to make this pattern more knittable. You can find the pattern in VK Winter 2003/2004. I thought the point of being a pattern designer was actually having people make and enjoy your designs. No one ever intended a soul to knit that top up the way it's written.

1) Chart the patterns. There are only a few that you actually need to do. This is a sanity saver. I was struggling on the collar, and pissed off about frogging it for the 3rd time....I went back and counted, and the pattern covered 49 different stitches without taking a breath. No wonder I was struggling.

2) Knit it in the round. The pattern is intuitive when you are on the right side, but the P2W and PTBL locations aren't clear when you are working on the back side. Having a right and wrong side made it unnecessarily difficult. I knit the neck in the round. There comes a time where you have to just knit reasonably. Maybe make it 2" longer, too.

3) Every other row is wrong on the point slope. If you are working in the round, you can see the error, but it's not easy to catch when you are working front and backs. I wrote VK but they did not respond. If you work in the round, just compare the instructions to what's actually happening.

I don't think I am an expert knitter, but I am a competent knitter. I can't believe that after all that, the designer wrote a chart out to Swiss darn!! Can we take it any farther over the top?? Crazy talk!

Oh, and sharp needle points are NOT this yarn's best friend....too snaggy. My life got better when I switched from Balenes to bamboo.
PS-if you want the real deal, search my blog for "knitting that must not be named"

Monday, January 28, 2008

Dammit-Cobblestone does not fit.


It doesn't quite fit. Almost.
Not quite. And DH refuses to be photographed in it.

He doesn't feel cute in it.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

I finished, I finished! My first FO of 2008!!!

Well, almost-I have underarms, some ends, a little Euclann bath and a big //holding my breath to see if it actually fits him// DH try on and photo session. Hope it all goes well. I gotta say, I really like it, now that it's done. Gosh, I hope it fits.

If you make this, the Cobblestone yoke is freakin' endless. I made it a little deeper than suggested for a guy, because guys need roomy pits. (Who knows why?) I made added the depth after the initial decreases, because I was really not sure I had enough yarn. Somehow, I haven't really mastered totally invisible wrap-and turns, and that bugs me. I modified the neck a little, because DH likes ribbing, and I don't like knitting garter in the round.

I used Tahki Lima and CTH laceweight. I tried out the wooden Options on this, and I liked them.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Da Mail (Part Deux)

Wow, the mailman came again today! The dog had a fit.

I finally took the plunge and ordered some Knitpick Options. They look like my Inoxes, I am anxious to give them a try. I ordered them in my common sizes-5, 6, 7.

There was a white box today-it IS summer knitting time, after all. Wouldn't you know that a cold front came in last night and dropped us 30 degrees?

I also got a big box from Kohls with a Dockers jacket for DH. You know the drill on that-"I broke my zipper on this coat, can we see if I can get a new one, 'cept in black? I really like that coat, I've had it for, what, 5 years?" Later, "But it's not the same-I don't liiiikkkkkke that waistband..." I think to myself "Shhhhh. It's 70% off, it's black, and it's a tall for your monkey arms. I am ordering it and you WILL try it." Heh. Shush up and listen to the wardrobe manager. At least she makes sure your jacket shows up on the day you will freeze your tuckus off.

I also got a box in from Penzeys! If you have never shopped there, oh, for God's sake, get ye on their mailing list yesterday! Seriously, we've been trying to eat clean this year, and haven't done too terribly. A good variety of Penzey's products helps a lot. If you don't order anything else, Fox Point and Mural of Flavor are the two blends you must try. Do it. Your family will think you learned how to cook or something.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

What he doesn't know won't hurt him-

I passed the postman on my way back from the Brooks Farm hike today. The back of his truck was open and I saw two big white boxes.

They are probably mine. (It's soooo sad that I know this.)

I got to my house before the postman did, and guess what was on my front porch?? A bursting at the seams box from Ram Wools. Gulp.

It's been years since I ordered anything from Ram Wools. I liked the little zippy bags. I am showing off two colors of Fresh (1.47 a ball) and Watercolor Mix (2.06 a ball). It's a good thing DH wasn't home. I got in about 59 balls of yarn.

I need to zen with my Bond. SOON.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Super Shammy Findings & a Walkabout

I tried out the Super Shammy last night on the two uses that impact my world.

1) Sweater drying. I Euclanned and spun out two sweaters, and wrapped them up in SuperShammies. The shammies (it really bothers me that I am not typing out chamois, and thanks for letting me say that) got damp. Not damp enough to wring anything out of. Meh.

2) Hair drying. First, let me say that I have a fairly big head. It was tough to actually wrap it around my head. The shammy soaked up some water-but not enough for me to wring out. However, my hair didn't drip. The jury is still out on that.

Definitive finding: It smells when wet. Smells like chickensaladwetdogdousedcampfire. Don't say I didn't warn you. One went thru the wash with regular laundry soap, and still retains some stenchiness.

On to my second topic. I was screwing around on Ravelry, signed myself up for Hat Attack, and looked at some of my opponents blogs (the ones with fun personalities.) Mrs. Aytch did a thing last fall called "Walking to Omaha" where she promised herself a yarn splurge after she walked the equivalent of a trip to Omaha. (She's in Illinois, can't believe she picked Omaha. She promised herself some Lime and Violet yarn.)

I looked at a map. Unlike any other state in the union (except Alaska and Hawaii) it takes for-freaking-ever to leave Texas, so I chose Brooks Yarns as my destination, which is just up the road a piece.

In the great tradition of an Australian Walkabout (where you go on for years trying to find your ass) I have started my trip to Brooks Farm Yarns. Because I would like to find my happy ass.

I did my first mile/4 laps/23 minutes today. In the rain. My calves were pissed.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Betsy vs. SuperShammy

They've been on TV every five minutes. I was fascinated by their "dries an entire sweater" claim. We were at the auto show the other night, and picked up two sets (for 20.00, which is close enough to the ad to suit me.)

What they are: 100% rayon (non-woven) sheets, made in Germany. Can't bleach or throw in the dryer.

I was trying to think of how to demo this at home (I am NOT throwing soda on the rug) and couldn't think of how to demo this in a situation where a bath towel wouldn't work equally well (now that I think of it, how about my hair, after a shower?) so I am going to have to wait until I need to block a sweater. Or wash my hair.

I'll let you know.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Hat Attack!

I found a new group on Ravelry. (You can find them on Yahoo too.) They model themselves after Sock Wars. I am pretty stoked, because hats in worsted weight are both fun and easy! Sign ups continue thru the end of the month.

On a side note: they turned DSL off at the cafe yesterday, so I will be surfing at the speed of sloths until we move (hopefully this year.) Hi-speed isn't available where I live. Don't be mad if I don't come visit.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Where do you live vs. Where are you from?

Joan and I were chatting back and forth this morning, and she said something about "you Texans."

That set me back on my heels. I wrote her-

I think it's weird to be thought of as a Texan-I am pretty sure I can make decent salsa AND guacamole with fewer than 6 ingredients total (and the garlic and cilantro are totally optional), but ya know, Texas is just where the military sent me.

I think we might be kind of like New Yorkers, except we say ma'am and y'all, and aren't so twitchy.

So I did a tally-

12 years in Chicago
10 in Colorado
4 in Texas (Fort Worth)
4 in Germany (KL/Winnweiler-Hochstein)
4 in Alaska
3 in Texas (East Cupcake)
2 in Germany (KL/Mehlbach)
7 in Texas (East Cupcake)

So far, the greater Chicagoland area still wins. I know Joan will embrace her inner Vamanta when she gets a Subaru (which is, by the way, one of the favorite cars of the Anchorage-Matsu region). I don't know what it would take to make myself believe I am Texan.

Horses? Sorry, I ride English. Baking, State Fair-nah, I did that in Alaska. Big Hair-c'mon, I have Japanese hair. Bling-oh, give that a rest too. A boob job and blonde hair....well, ok, maybe.

The funny part about living in East Cupcake-when my dad was a young guy and left the Wauconda/Kenosha area to seek his fortune he went west. He ended up working for a pig farmer about 30 miles west of here. I have pictures that prove that. I have a sneaking suspicion Dad ran out of money.

Do you live where you are FROM?

I am still Cobblestoning away. I started sleeve 1 last night.

Monday, January 14, 2008

It's 5 o'clock somewhere

The Recipe For Betsy
3 parts Courage
2 parts Giddiness
1 part Charisma
Splash of Devilry
Shake vigorously
Garnish with Crabby

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Bonecrushingly DULL

I am being well behaved, but this is one DULL project. I've started ball 4, and I think I have enough yarn. I was worried about that; this yarn is supposed to knit as chunky. No way, no how would that happen, more like worsted verging on DK. It IS an attractive and very soft tweed, and I like the way laceweight brings a little interest to it without making it too crazy. I'll probably do that again.

Knitting Daily has started selling Cobblestone patterns at 5.00 each. Tahki Stacy Charles has the same pattern on their website (knitted in Torino, so it's chunkier) for free.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

TNNA Sneak Peek-

My hat is having a good time on vacation....I got an email this morning from Ron.


The show is going well... lots of people looking and ordering. Had Annie Modisette, Cat Bhordi and Clara Parkes in yesterday... they all admired your tam. It is quite the hit.

Hope things are well

Maybe next year, I can go too. I am a little embarrassed that my hat is on display to the US needlework heads of state fastened with SCOTCH TAPE.....I swear to God, the exhibitors aren't from East Cupcake but they might as well be. That's like going to the White House in flip-flops. Oh, wait, these guys aren't all that far from the Texas White House; maybe they know something I don't.
I am a little giddy because I have the only NON-BROWN buffalo wear in the booth. Yeah, I know it's burgundy, orange and green-not a far stretch at all, but I DID stretch. OK, nuking that 60.00 hank of yarn was a big stretch, because I didn't REALLY know what would happen, and it was scary.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Myths that tripped me up

I was on the phone last night with LaLib. We were discussing knitting patterns that we liked, loved, wanted to wear. I REALLY want a Fifi. The top is pretty simple. It wouldn't be any problem to knit.

The problem is my figure. And I am not lying there. I've been living on the high stress potato chip diet for almost three years, I am pushing 50, and holy crap, all of a sudden I look like this:

That's only a slight dramatization. The thing is, I didn't start out this way. If you look at my family, you wouldn't suspect that I would be the chunk-a-miss. Actually, that's not true-if you look at the Japanese side, they are all what I think of as regular sized-somewhere between a size 4 and a size 8. The British side, well, they are another matter entirely.

But I can only blame so much of that on genes. I can only blame the most recent 7 lbs on stopping my 30 year smoking habit. The rest is up to me.

I think two things that give ME trouble are diet lies the media taught me in the 80s, when I was a little tiny stick girl and care passionately about my weight.

1) Carbs don't have fat. Eat some.

2) Eat more smaller meals.

I've looked at the way I eat. These two statements have done a lot of damage to my waistline and to my eating habits. Any more, I just shove a lot of starch into my mouth at all hours of the day. And it shows.

I have to move my mouth less and my ass more. I REALLY want a Fifi. And I can't cast on for it until my scale numbers have moved down significantly.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Pipe down, Junior-

I put aside my knitting wanderlust long enough to start something. I started the Cobblestone pullover for DH. (BTW, if you want to make this in a heavier yarn, the Tahki website has one. I think it's totally weird the Tahki and IWK would publish the same EXACT pattern within 15 minutes of each other....but I digress.) I am using Tahki Lima (acrylic!! and alpaca) and some CTH hand dyed laceweight, because I think this is a better sweater if there is a tonal difference-a tweed, a heather, a multicolor, something-that plays up the textural contrast. Plus, I can really up my knitting yardage stats by holding two yarns together, PLUS this is supposed to be an aran weight yarn, and I am not seeing that.

I modified it slightly by putting in ribbing at the bottom, and keeping the garter racing stripes all the way down. (Anyone that has ever had to wear hand me downs can appreciate that modification.) That caused an interesting hiccup, because the garter section was SIGNIFICANTLY shorter than the ribbed section (I just didn't know that would happen) so I short-rowed in an extra row (back and forth, that is) to compensate.

The ribbing was complete when I let DH know this sweater is his.

"Don't knit me any sweaters. I don't need sweaters."

We have this conversation regularly. The last time we had it, I was picking up a few Columbia cotton sweaters for him to have for his early December road trip. "Don't buy me any sweaters" were his exact words. He wore that sweater last week, as I recall. Oh, no, he wore BOTH sweaters last week. Seriously, he doesn't buy his own undies, how much wardrobe input do I have to listen to??
I have to disregard his input on Cobblestone-I have to make it such a kick-ass sweater that it's the one he reaches for first. And I have to have it done at the end of the month!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Buyer's remorse

I've shopped New Year's online yarn sales alot. I've also been stuck with a lot of crap at New Years sales. This year, I shopped ONE New Year's sale--Web's. My box came in today. I had one cone of 2/4 tweed wool, and 10 skeins of Noro Cotton Hill, which was described as nubby, and should be described as a boucle. I wish I'd bought more of the tweed (15.oo per kg), and none of the Noro (3.99).
Note to self-Don't buy any more Noro. It's not like you actually knit it.
I really like the tweed, tho. THAT's going to be DH's Cobblestone, or some such. That's the ultimate guy color-grey tweed with flecks of blue and brown, and charcoal. Perfect. Goes with almost everything.
DH made me laugh today. I bought him two Docker's sweaters to wear on a trip at the end of the month. Lightweight ones. (We need sweaters for about 15 minutes a year around here.) I showed him his sweaters. He touched one and said "ewwww, I don't like the fabric. It feels really plasticky. And slimey." I questioned him a little more on that. He really DOESN'T like acrylic sweaters at ALL. (I think time in Alaska spawns a distinct acryliphobia.) He would really like wool instead.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

"Her whole life has been an experiment in terror"

I love that line. And on the knitting front, I have done my best to live up to it. Over the past two days, I have cast on at least three different projects, ripped out four (I think) and still have, three projects on the needles. Just knitting disatisfaction, I suppose. I went thru my patterns and found some cute stuff, but nothing I want to do right NOW, with the things I have on hand (um, I mean, at the top of the pile).

I learned something today. I suspected it, but now I can prove it's true. If you work short row angles in variegated yarn, guess what happens?

Nothing. Yeah, ok, fine. Don't be all snotty about it.
BTW, you can see tam photos on the last two posts from December.
I told my little brother about the tam thing, and he's all "That's nice, in a 4H kind of way." And I think yes....and no. I understand trade shows. My hat is a sugar sprinkle on a flaming six quart sundae with seven kinds of fruit and chocolate liquer made by elves on alternate Leap Years. I GET it. But my dad used to take us to the county fair and tromp us thru the exhibits. I admired EVERY single blue ribbon. This is my ribbon. And no one else in my family has this, this need to make shit, or play music, or draw, or write, or dance.
No one else, Bets, just you.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

It's freakin' magic, I tell ya!

When I was a kid, the toney subdivision in town was called Village 7. It had street names like Carefree and Serendipity. I looked Serendipity up in the dictionary when I was a kid, and had a little trouble with the concept. Nowdays, Old Webster defines it as "the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for; also : an instance of this."

These days, I seem to be finding a lot of Buffalo Serendipity. (Much nicer than finding buffalo chips, I'll tell you.) Last year, I asked Ron Miskin of Buffalo Gold if he was going to Kid 'n Ewe in Boerne. He wrote back and said "I wasn't planning to, but since you asked." And he exhibited.

Chris (aka Scullyknits) went to K'nE twice. WE went on Sunday. The day before, she went with her family. They stopped at the Kid 'n Ewe booth, where the Divine Miss M charmed the socks right off of Ron. He gave her a small buffalo toy, which she toted around all weekend. I thought that was just great, that the guy I asked to come 1) showed up, 2) had a busy booth (i.e. it was worth his trip) and 3) was flat charmed by Miss M. I happily bought my skein of laceweight.

Serendipity, right?

Monday, I sent my Prairie Star Buffalo Tam in to Wild Fibers as a contest entry. I really wanted the "runner up" prize of a basket of buffalo goodies. My entry bounced. (They must be changing emails at the magazine??) Anyhow, I thought "Oh, no, I just finished this, I am on time, I am SOOOOO not going to give up." So I sent a copy of my entry on to Buffalo Gold (the contest sponsor) , and explained that my entry had bounced. I got an Auto Response, and thought, ok, fine, it made it to someone. A few hours later, I got a phone call from Ron, who said "We were sitting around, admiring your hat, and we want to display it at TNNA next week. We'll send you some yarn."

You WHAT???? I wanted to do a butt-shaking happy dance, but had to sound reasonably dignified and coherent.

I mailed my hat today, and wrote up a little blah-blah for them to keep with a small yarn sample (leftovers!!!) that explained the method, the pattern and the results.

And he wrote me back and said


Wonderful!!... Dad is truly excited about the Tam, and we are getting ready, and our display for this show is sort of an art gallery format. I have a canvas all ready for the hat, and it will be a featured piece. I am putting a bio card on the board as well, and I would love to put any information you would like on it.

Thank you again, and I will get some yarn on its way to you today.
Have a Happy New Year.

I am absolutely beside myself with excitement.

THAT's serendipity.

Slow Food

This is not about biodiversity and the philosophy of eco-gastronomy. Not that I don't support that, but I wanted to talk about what came out of my kitchen today.

Bread-that took 8 hours (that's not 8 monitored hours, that's mix the dough up and look at it an hour later to see what it's doing) and stew that cooked for 5 hours. That was stew I browned and chopped for an hour, and then put it to frolic in the oven for several hours.

Wow. You'd think I could cook or something. DH had to comment a little-"cut the meat up smaller" and "you need a chainsaw to cut that bread". I threatened him with "ding-ding" microwave food and he shut the hell up.

The stew process was a little different. Brown the meat, then cook the onions. THEN add flour, then your liquid, blah blah. I threw in beer. It was really good.

The bread was different too-crank up the oven as hot as you can get it, preheat a dutch oven, then throw the dough in the dutch oven, cover and bake. My bread came out very much like a German loaf, with rustic crust and chewy insides.

The how toos are in Cook's Illustrated Feb 2008 issue. Dang, dinner was good around here.