Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The project that ate my time!

I finally finished a project. I say finally, but really, I have knit it one and a half times (at least), frogged it, and it spent a lot of time in time out-that was several short time outs, not one protracted time out. It's Shirley Paden's cardigan from VK S/S 2004, #11, knit in Elann's Camilla yarn.
To make this easier for you, I recommend-

1) Photo copy the chart and put it in a document protector. Use a Post-it to move up the chart as you work. Write down each row as you finish it. As soon as you finish it. Store the pen in the document protector so you don't have to look for one at the end of the row.

2) Buy deluxe post-its. The super sticky kind. This is no time for shoddy bargain post-its.

3) Mark the "right side of the garment" with a safety pin, a scrap of yarn, SOMETHING.

4) Since the entire garment is knit by the charts, I found I did better when I was alone.

5) Knitting the sweater body takes about 250 stitches a row. It could be that 2 rows may be all you can manage in a session, and then you have to put it away! This is why good record keeping is essential.

6) There were times when I picked it up and could not understand where I was in the pattern. Some days it took me 10 minutes to see it. If you can't see where you are in the chart, just sit with it in your lap. If you can't see it in 15 minutes, just put it down. It is not your day to work on it. I had trouble reading right to left, and then left to right on the pattern. This is true lace!

7) This is not a forgiving pattern. It's extremely linear, and a stitch out of place SHOWS. Fudging doesn't work well. Since the pattern changes every row, I found it difficult to memorize.

8) There is a big paradigm shift on the facing. Study the chart before you begin, and notice how it differs from the main chart-look at how the diagonal travels, and what happens in the wake of the stitches. (Yes, I reknit this portion.)

9) I knit facing A and facing B separately up to the slant points. Then I photocopied charts A and B and taped them together. Then, I worked them concurrently, using markers to designate the increase sector (which I just worked in rib).

10) It might be easier to knit the sleeves in the round. I think I would like it in wool.
Edited to add: I slipped the first and last stitch of every row on the collar and front opening to give myself a springboard for a 3 needle bindoff to attach the collar. It worked great.
I did the same thing at the under arm, and that about killed me. The jacket had a very narrow armscye (is that the right word??), and the sleeve top was fairly wide. I just about screwed myself there.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Learning to cook

Yes, I know how to cook. Lately, I've been trying to learn how to cook well. I've been making dinner around here for years, but I dunno, maybe it's all the exposure to Top Chef. Or not having to juggle work and cooking.

A few weekends ago, we went to breakfast in San Antonio, and I saw a bunch of articles cut out of the paper, and framed on the wall. They heralded places that served Eggs Benedict. All of them served it exclusively on the weekend, including the restaurant I was in. So I ordered it.

THAT was a mistake. I hate poached eggs. Yet today I was obsessed with creating a home version.

I found a recipe for hollandaise-

3 large egg yolks
1 TBsp fresh lemon juice
16 TBsp (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and still warm
Hot water
1/8 tsp. cayenne
Blend egg yolks and lemon juice in blender till frothy - 10 seconds +/-. With blender running, slowly drizzle in HALF of the butter until mixture is quite thick. Blend 2 tsp. of hot water. Continuing to blend, add remaining butter, about a minute. Blend additional water until sauce coats the back of a spoon. Stir in cayenne, salt and pepper. Use immediately. If you can't, set sauce in a pan, and then another pan of warm water, covered. Since it has raw egg yolks, try to use it quickly. Note: I added a little tarragon and ground mustard, and made 1/2 a recipe.

I thought that if the butter was hot enough, it would cook the eggs. Sounds reasonable, yes??

I discovered why Eggs Benedict is a weekend dish-it's not difficult, but there are so many steps and layers, it's a bit of a dash and a juggle. Here, I had to

  • Make Hollandaise
  • Slice and toast ciabatta (not burn, just toast-I was going to get English muffins, but got sidetracked at the grocery)
  • Scramble eggs
  • put together a little salad
  • Layer the whole thing properly-toasted bread, Canadian bacon, SCRAMBLED EGGS (because poached eggs are too fussy and I don't like them anyhow) top with sauce, and get the salad on the plate.


It's not hard, but with a dog in the middle of the kitchen floor praying for a delicious kitchen accident, and a man who can't work sideways, it's a bit of a struggle to get the timing down. My experience went to hell when the butter exploded in the microwave. And the bread smelled like it was going to burn. Gaaah!

My mock Eggs B were very good. Buying ciabatta, Canadian bacon, eggs and salad still had me far under the cost of one plate with leftovers galore. And I didn't have to wait until Saturday.

My recommendation? Learn how to do it, and delegate tasks. Next time, DH is going to get salads and toast.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Yay! A truthful journalist!!

From The Times
July 25, 2008
He ventured forth to bring light to the world
The anointed one's pilgrimage to the Holy Land is a miracle in action - and a blessing to all his faithful followers
Gerard Baker

And it came to pass, in the eighth year of the reign of the evil Bush the Younger (The Ignorant), when the whole land from the Arabian desert to the shores of the Great Lakes had been laid barren, that a Child appeared in the wilderness.

The Child was blessed in looks and intellect. Scion of a simple family, offspring of a miraculous union, grandson of a typical white person and an African peasant. And yea, as he grew, the Child walked in the path of righteousness, with only the occasional detour into the odd weed and a little blow.

When he was twelve years old, they found him in the temple in the City of Chicago, arguing the finer points of community organisation with the Prophet Jeremiah and the Elders. And the Elders were astonished at what they heard and said among themselves: “Verily, who is this Child that he opens our hearts and minds to the audacity of hope?”

In the great Battles of Caucus and Primary he smote the conniving Hillary, wife of the deposed King Bill the Priapic and their barbarian hordes of Working Class Whites.

And so it was, in the fullness of time, before the harvest month of the appointed year, the Child ventured forth - for the first time - to bring the light unto all the world.

He travelled fleet of foot and light of camel, with a small retinue that consisted only of his loyal disciples from the tribe of the Media. He ventured first to the land of the Hindu Kush, where the
Taleban had harboured the viper of al-Qaeda in their bosom, raining terror on all the world.

And the Child spake and the tribes of Nato immediately loosed the Caveats that had previously bound them. And in the great battle that ensued the forces of the light were triumphant. For as long as the Child stood with his arms raised aloft, the enemy suffered great blows and the threat of terror was no more.

From there he went forth to Mesopotamia where he was received by the great ruler al-Maliki, and al-Maliki spake unto him and blessed his Sixteen Month Troop Withdrawal Plan even as the imperial warrior Petraeus tried to destroy it.

And lo, in Mesopotamia, a miracle occurred. Even though the Great Surge of Armour that the evil Bush had ordered had been a terrible mistake, a waste of vital military resources and doomed to end in disaster, the Child's very presence suddenly brought forth a great victory for the forces of the light.

And the Persians, who saw all this and were greatly fearful, longed to speak with the Child and saw that the Child was the bringer of peace. At the mention of his name they quickly laid aside their intrigues and beat their uranium swords into civil nuclear energy ploughshares.

From there the Child went up to the city of Jerusalem, and entered through the gate seated on an ass. The crowds of network anchors who had followed him from afar cheered “Hosanna” and waved great palm fronds and strewed them at his feet.

In Jerusalem and in surrounding Palestine, the Child spake to the Hebrews and the Arabs, as the Scripture had foretold. And in an instant, the lion lay down with the lamb, and the Israelites and Ishmaelites ended their long enmity and lived for ever after in peace.

As word spread throughout the land about the Child's wondrous works, peoples from all over flocked to hear him; Hittites and Abbasids; Obamacons and McCainiacs; Cameroonians and Blairites.

And they told of strange and wondrous things that greeted the news of the Child's journey. Around the world, global temperatures began to decline, and the ocean levels fell and the great warming was over.
The Great Prophet Algore of Nobel and Oscar, who many had believed was the anointed one, smiled and told his followers that the Child was the one generations had been waiting for.

And there were other wonderful signs. In the city of the Street at the Wall, spreads on interbank interest rates dropped like manna from Heaven and rates on credit default swaps fell to the ground as dead birds from the almond tree, and the people who had lived in foreclosure were able to borrow again.

Black gold gushed from the ground at prices well below $140 per barrel. In hospitals across the land the sick were cured even though they were uninsured. And all because the Child had pronounced it.

And this is the testimony of one who speaks the truth and bears witness to the truth so that you might believe. And he knows it is the truth for he saw it all on CNN and the BBC and in the pages of The New York Times.

Then the Child ventured forth from Israel and Palestine and stepped onto the shores of the Old Continent. In the land of Queen Angela of Merkel, vast multitudes gathered to hear his voice, and he preached to them at length.

But when he had finished speaking his disciples told him the crowd was hungry, for they had had nothing to eat all the hours they had waited for him.

And so the Child told his disciples to fetch some food but all they had was five loaves and a couple of frankfurters. So he took the bread and the frankfurters and blessed them and told his disciples to feed the multitudes. And when all had eaten their fill, the scraps filled twelve baskets.

Thence he travelled west to Mount Sarkozy. Even the beauteous Princess Carla of the tribe of the Bruni was struck by awe and she was great in love with the Child, but he was tempted not.

On the Seventh Day he walked across the Channel of the Angles to the ancient land of the hooligans. There he was welcomed with open arms by the once great prophet Blair and his successor, Gordon the Leper, and his successor, David the Golden One.

And suddenly, with the men appeared the archangel Gabriel and the whole host of the heavenly choir, ranks of cherubim and seraphim, all praising God and singing: “Yes, We Can.”

Six dollars

I stuck my head into LYS yesterday to check for some more Mosaic and a new circ. Yay on the circ, but no on the Mosaic. S' ok, I will do some more looking, not a problem.

Our LYS was sold recently, after more than 35 years under the same owner. Look at the stack I got for 6.00. There are 4 mid-nineties issues of VK, and I thumbed thru them (I own them, but it's rare that I sit down and LOOK at them. Usually, I am pattern crawling). There were articles on up and comer Pam Allen, as well as a spread on Adrienne Vittadini, who has recently shut down the knitwear segment of her line. (Sigh) I thought it was kind of interesting to see where people had been, just to compare to where they are going.

I found this particularly interesting cardigan. I think it would work well thru a really snowy January on a pregnant woman. What do you think?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

More yarn!!!

The yarn gods have smiled on me. According to my invoices, I have another bag of this antique blue color floating around somewhere. That's good. I was getting a little worried about having enough. Turns out, I may be hunting for more of the Mosaic. Which suits me just fine. My imagined low stockpile of this wool is the reason I chose this style vs. the February lady (seriously-they are practically the same thing anyhow.)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

So do we like this fabric??

I've been thinking about a preggocardi for DD for a few days now. I asked some folks, looked at a few places, and there's not a ton out there in maternity wear. Forget Mommy Snug, that looks like a pain, I have seen the directions!!!

So I started a top down cardi. The sleeves are cellular stitch, and after the bodice underarm, I am starting traveling vine. Both stitches are from the Blue Barbara. I don't have a ton of this yarn, let's hope I can stretch it like taffy!!! It's blue Elann Bag Wool (a store mistake that's been marinating for a few years) and some Berrocco Mosaic that was marked down to .97. Hell, I had to buy THAT!
Anise, or Mocha Marvel from January's Simply Knitting, is probably next.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Tell me why

I don't like Mondays. Actually, I'm ok with them, I just am in the mood to hear Bob Geldorf and those staccato lyrics.

And he can see no reasons
'Cos there are no reasons
What reason do you need to be show-ow-ow-ow-own?

But it's been a rough one.

I woke up stumbling to the bathroom this morning. Surprise! On my way back out, DH said "Wait, it gets better." Huh? "Suggy peed herself when she got up." Oh. Poor girl, it's not long now. At least she did it to DH, so I won't have to bring the topic up to him. But he didn't want me to feel like the stuckee, and told me he'd probably get crapped on at work.

Don't want anyone to feel left out around here.

The little sandwich inspector got up later and made her rounds to check that I didn't drop anything.

I got my IWK hurt book sale orders in. They were both wrong. The people were reasonably pleasant on the line. The duplicates I ordered weren't included, but they should be along shortly.

On a brighter note, my kitchen is lookin' bitchin. I ordered a new stove, a new fridge, dishwasher, and a bad-assed micro-hood-convection set-up last week.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

What a difference!

I decided to compare yesterday's stitch pattern to plain SS, and I just knit the jacket sleeves in plain stockinette.

What a difference from such an easy pattern!!! Technically, they look the same, but the surface texture breaks up obvious pools.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Bunch of breeders--

Herrschner's had Nashua Cilantro on sale a few weeks back, and it sounded appealing. A little cotton, a little stretch-what's not to like?? I picked up a few balls.
Every side of the family is racing to have the next kid-my brother, my niece, and possibly my DD, so I went ahead and cast this on-it's out of Creative Knitting, and seemed like just the thing. I'm nearing the end of the hood, and have only the sleeves left to do.
I know the baby is cute, but I'll stand up for mi familia and say at least one of them will probably produce a cuter one. (No conceit in my family!)
Stitch pattern used: (Multiple of 6)
Row 1: *P3, K1, YO, K2tog*
Row 2: P3, K3
Row 3: K
Row 4: P
The stitch pattern is a champ on variegated yarns.
Edited to add: I am using the colorway "brights" which is the knitted column on the left.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Other swatches

I've had a really big WIP at my house since January. My WIP IS my new house. I live in the house we bought when we moved down here 13 years ago, right after we'd been to court for the kids and still had big legal bills, and knew Mark was getting out of the military. We've lived in the little modest house for a long time. So in January, we started this ball rolling.

House from scratch is a lot harder than you might imagine. For one, the architect, who is a licensed "a professional" may be a flake. (I was going to use a different term that I never ever use. You might think 'douchebag' is part of my everyday venacular. It's not.) One of those people who owns the credentials but doesn't do the work? More on that later.

So here are swatches-

I found it difficult to pick these things out, because unlike choosing yarns or fabric for projects, redoing whole interiors isn't something I get to do all the time. And it's difficult to know how things are going to translate into the real world. Like the bold berry colored stain on the red-oak sample I circled? My cabinets are not nearly as red as you'd think, and this shot shows them as fairly red. Actually, they are primarily a cool brown. (I have maintained for years that my best brown is mauve, and I think it's STILL true.)

And the granite? That was selected in March, and I stood in the stoneyard with a list of stone varieties "in budget" sweating like a pig, trying to visualize slabs the size of small U-Hauls as my kitchen counter. They installed it yesterday, and I walked in yesterday evening at 8:30, and holy shit. I thought I had snow leopards mating on the counter-tops. We had to have a fight about it today. DH was annoyed because I was not over-joyed, but seriously suspecting my own taste level. I was scared I screwed up and ordered really expensive fug.

I turned it over in my mind and thought about this-it seems so loud because it is the only patterned thing in the whole house. And I went to visit it today. In the late afternoon light, I see fewer leopards, and more rivers of gold and bits of berry and it is ok. DH likes it better too.

And they turned on the power last night too. See that big towering structure to the far right? That's the garage. And above it is the yarn cave.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Because it pays for itself-

DH has driven a 1999 Chevy Silverado around since the day he picked it up off the lot. It's got 175,000 miles on it, but looks and runs decently. Recently, I made him go to the dealership.
I'd been eyeing cars for weeks. Would DH accept an economical car? He'd come home and complain how much it cost to fill the truck, but would he really accept anything that wasn't a he-man truck?? That's a question akin to "will my dog accept the stray puppy on the side of the road?"
How come all these new cars don't have decent gas mileage? Why is there very little fuel savings between an 8 cyl Silverado and a 6 cyl? Or even the Colorado? Even the econoboxes don't get awesome mileage-for example the Nissan Versa gets 33mpg highway, and a 4 cylinder sedan (like the Chevy Malibu) gets 30mpg. I guess the 50 mpg is the reason folks are dusting off their Geo Metros aroung here.
The big ol' truck and many many miles a day, multiplied by gas prices - it made me cringe.
"I'm not ready to pay for another vehicle," DH declared.
"But honey, you are-every time you buy gas!"
As it turns out, he liked the Chevy Malibu 4 banger, which is a highly rated family sedan. The fuel economy is significantly better than the truck, which we are keeping for a while. We won't have to play "When's the truck gonna crap out on us?" and I am glad about that.
This past week, he tracked his fuel usage and costs. He spent 70 dollars less on gas. It really will pay for itself.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Went to a gun show with DH today. Four is the number of people I saw with FINGERS ON TRIGGERS in the first hour. OMG, I just wanted to slap them, and a few of them were old enough to be draft eligible when I was little. Ah, see what draft dodging did? Made you STUPID!

I considered telling my single girlfriends to do something at a gun show to meet fellas-DH told me that was a bad idea. I saw a couple of pasty white guys with heavy backpacks on. He was probably right. Better that they stick to dog shows and the like.

Four is also the number of rows in my Queensland Tahiti stitch pattern-after I posted that photo yesterday, someone popped up and said their friend was having trouble with Tahiti biasing in stockinette. I went and looked, and sure enough, she did have trouble. I didn't notice any bias on mine, because I have 3 rows of stockinette, and one garter ridge (knit 1 row on the wrong side). The garter ridge apparently rights all the yarn karma, it's no trouble.

I'm working on 6s, which are 8s in every one else's world.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Summer fun!

I like this pattern for this yarn.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Every so often, I am sure my spouse is abducted by aliens-

Weird stuff comes out of his mouth!

We just got the uber deluxe mattress that the dog has to use the ottoman to get on (and we put it next to the bed) every night. Since we are moving, and since DH wants new everything, I figured new linens were in order. So I ordered bedspreads-one for us, and one for the guest room. They came in today. He didn't like either-and they are attractive. He said they looked too Holiday Inn! Let's hope I can afford return postage!

I ordered an extra bedspread for the MIL summer palace, and guess which one he wants?? I swear to GOD it's a test!!!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Everyone's doing it!

I paid Enid a visit. She was doing this cool Flickr Mosaic visual meme. I just had to try it out!
This is how it works:
a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd’s mosaic maker.

The Questions:
1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food? Chocolate
3. What high school did you go to? Thomas B. Doherty
4. What is your favorite color? Blue
5. Who is your celebrity crush? The Rock
6. Favorite drink? Diet Coke
7. Dream vacation? Mont Saint Michel
8. Favorite dessert? Angel Food Cake
9. What you want to be when you grow up? Famous
10. What do you love most in life? Life
11. One word to describe you. Quirky
12. Your flickr name. Junior Goddess

Here's what I got:
A search for, the man of my dreams (the Rock) yielded a photo of my home town-I have climbed some of those formations. My Flickr name gave up the city where my Dad's cousin lives, and quirky yielded my dolls.

1. 3:49 Betsy McCall goes to School, 2. Untitled, 3. P3290638, 4. Northwest 3, 5. Main Garden, 6. Birthday Bomb, 7. Coucher de soleil sur le Mont St Michel, 8. Lemon Angel Food Cupcake, 9. Nasir-almolk, 10. yodell ♫ lay-od-lay-od-lay-he-hoo, ♫ lay-od-lay-od-low yodellay, ♫ yodallay, yodal-low… ♫ and they fly low supreme! ♫ little egrets from bali- egretta garzetta ♫, 11. Be-Heinz, 12. HISTORY OF THE QUEEN'S HEAD PUBLIC HOUSE

Friday, July 04, 2008

We're kinda slow...

But we mean well.

Today, DH and I went out for a quick 9 holes of golf. Ok, maybe I wasn't QUICK, maybe I am freaking slow, progressing at the rate of 75 yards per swing. Ah well.

We finished up, and I happened to look at the flag pole. "Gee, honey, that flag looks terrible!" "Yeah, I noticed it when I came out here yesterday." He paused for a minute, and said "You know, we have that flag BB sent. We could go grab it, and swap them out."

So we did. On our way back to the golf course, I told DH "You know, he must have won this in a quarterly award or something." Holy crap, I felt terrible for not understanding that earlier. My daughter's ex-boyfriend's little brother won a military award, and sent it to us, and I didn't SEE that. How stupid of me.

We swapped out flags quickly and with decorum. The old flag was so tattered, I cased it while DH hoisted the first one. There was no danger of it sweeping the ground. The golf course cashier kept saying how sweet we were. We weren't sweet. We just happened to have a flag that a 22 year old kid sent us from the Horn of Africa. How lucky we are to know him. DH said "I got to play a round of golf, and we did the flag thing. This is the best 4th ever!"

I totally agree.