Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Thinking about making this vest...as I am cold, and very sick of winter! I bought a bag of Filatura Di Crosa Super Soft at the sale yesterday with this in mind...rare for me to buy bulky, but maybe if it's fast I can fit in a little something for me. The last thing I made for me I gave away. Although I did knit this hat for me yesterday. This was an impulse buy. I had not intended to buy the Silk Garden, but then I touched it while shopping, and thought "Hey, isn't the Flat Top Hat in Modular Knits one ball of this stuff? Just one little ball....." and now I want ten balls to make the MD vest to match. And Meg wants one, so I can make another, but told her she had to buy her own yarn. Also impulse buys, I bought For the Love of Knitting 2006 calendar and Melanie Falick's Knitting for Baby (for Kristie, for Christmas, so justified??). And much cooler than usual Vermont Yankee Where-to-Run-In-Case-Of-Meltdown calendar.
Here's the modular scarf I decided to do in st st instead of gs, and I do like it more than the gs of the original. It has 3 gs sts at the edges to prevent roll. I like the way it is coming along, but don't really have time for it any more this week. It was my mindless Dr Who knitting. Brendon got his father 3 Dr Who dvds and they've been the hit of the holiday for Gene. Yesterday he got Star Wars Episode III from Netflix. I watched it with him and now have such a sense of completion, and my own antiquity. I was 10 the year Star Wars opened. GASSSP!! Gene, though, was 16, which made me feel better.
Started the Modular Shawl for the store for classes in spring...it's moving along nicely and also will be a mindless tv project. I need occasional distractions from things like the plaid. I worked on plaid yesterday from about 11am till it was time to go get Megan, about 4pm. I then took a much needed Flat Top hat break. Today I began with the MD shawl, and after lunch will plaid for a while. It gets heavy as it grows, and the purling hurts my wrist after a bit so I have to break with some nice gs project.
AIDAN OUTGREW HIS GANSEY!! Eight weeks! I started it about 8 weeks ago and he grew about 2 inches in height and arm length in that short span of time! His mother noticed this as well as she'd just bought 18 mo jeans for winter and he outgrew them as well! Because he's skinny, finding 2T jeans that will fit his skinny butt is impossible, but suddenly, in weeks, his 18 mo ones are high-waters! The moral of the story? When knitting for toddlers, measure OFTEN!!
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Also finished the gansey for the kid the other day, and blocked it. I love the little underarm gussets. Eleven whole stitches! This is in Angora Soft, which is a Knit One Crochet Two closeout from Webs. Washed and blocked it's very snuggly and soft. It's so cute and small. It's like a mini-man sweater. I get to pop it on him tomorrow. If there was time I'd make a hat to match. Maybe after Christmas. He has a thing for hats with ear flaps and strings. Wears them on purpose, preferably with nothing else but a diaper and boots. Very cute. It used a whole two and a quarter skeins. I've got seven left, which is enough to make a hat, mittens and have enough over for an infant set of some kind, maybe for EJ. She'll be a good candidate for denim garb, running over the hills of New England in a baby backpack. Maybe a pair of footed leggings and matching sweater and hat!
For now I have to go make pies...Banana Cream, Chocolate Cream, Apple and Pumpkin. Not really in the mood. My oven is a disaster and I really am not in the mood to rassle with the temperature nonsense. I priced new ones...am thinking of this one, a Maytag, but in black. I thought it would go well with the cherry, and my dishwasher is black. Spent a bunch of time with a golfer buddy of Gene's discussing the merits of ranges, cook tops, and double versus single ovens. The double is really out for someone who bakes as much as I do. You have to reach waaaaay down to get that turkey/pie/cookie sheet from the lower oven. He showed me the store's cost on the unit, and I believe the price he quoted is fair (well below retail, and gives the owner an appropriate margin of profit) but I just can't commit to it. Gene says go ahead...but ICK, $800 for a range (including tax and delivery)?? Sigh. My Kenmore was $350. OK, fine, so that was in 1986...and it was a scratch and dent...Maybe I'll just bite the bullet after the first of the year and buy the thing. It can't be any harder than Christmas shopping, or buying the dishwasher or pellet stove was.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Purchase one pre-cooked ham (an uncooked ham will work as well, but will require a longer cooking time). Thaw ham if frozen.
Assemble the following ingredients:
1 can Coke (the Real Thing, although I am told Dr. Pepper works well also)
2 naval oranges
1 fresh pineapple
A large roasting pan
Aluminum foil, or large cover that fits tightly on roasting pan
Toothpicks to restrain fruit on meat surface
Set oven to 325F degrees.
Peel oranges, slice 1/4 inch thick. Slice apples 1/4 inch thick, leaving peel in place, cutting around core. Remove skin from pineapple and slice 1/4 thick. Make stacks of fruit, one slice of each, pineapple, apple and orange on top. Leave these nearby on a plate. For the sake of tradition, you may want to add a maraschino cherry atop your orange slice.
Remove ham from wrapping and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Place in roasting pan, and skewer fruit stacks onto the surface of the ham. It may be that you need more than one toothpick per fruit stack. Using kitchen shears trim toothpicks so that very little wood protrudes beyond the surface of the fruit stacks.
Pour Coke evenly over the fruit-laden meat. Cover tightly with lid or foil, and place in oven. Baste with Coke and fruit juices from bottom of pan every half hour using a turkey baster. Remove cover from ham during last half hour of cooking. An average pre-cooked ham should take about 1.5 hours to cook, and should reach an internal temperature of 140F before being served - this is lower than the temperature needed to safely prepare a "raw" ham. (If using a raw ham, place an oven-safe digital probe thermometer in the center of the ham set to 155F degrees. Set the alarm on the digital thermometer to sound when the ham has reached that internal temperature. This temperature is 5 degrees lower than the temperature preferred by the USDA for proper doneness of ham, but allows for carryover cooking that will occur while the ham rests before slicing). Remove ham from the oven, allow to rest for 15 minutes, then slice and serve. Truly, it's an amazing way to cook ham. If you want to know the rest of the story, read on!
Go to local BJ's and buy (mindlessly) Smithfield bone in ham as you've never bought ham before and have no clue. Return home and place ham in fridge.
Email aunt who knows about these things and ask how to cook ham. Aunt will assure you that a pre-cooked ham is no trouble at all and will give the following recipe:
Get some apples, oranges and fresh pineapple. Cut them up and put them over the ham (use toothpicks). Dump a couple of cups of coca-cola over the ham, cover tightly with tin foil, and put it in a pre-heated 325 degree oven for 1.5 hours. After an hour and a half, take it out, and pour more coke over it, then bake for an additional 30 min uncovered. Ham will be flavorful, juicy, tender.
Relax. Think about the ease with which the ham will be pulled off. So, Coke is poison. It's only one day after all...think of what a hero you'll be.
Plan to bake cookies two days before holiday event. Discover that oven does not work. Spend 10 hours making four batches of cookies. Question sanity. Think of ham. Begin to panic. Plan to start ham a little early and a little hot. Relax again. Plan all baking around busted oven - buy bread instead of homemade rolls, cook dad's scalloped oysters in toaster oven, no sweat...
Wake up day of party to finish final prep and take ham out of fridge. Realize that this is NOT pre-cooked heat and serve ham. This is uncooked, roast-all-day ham. Really freaking panic. Go to Smithfield website and determine that you need 180 minutes at 325 degrees based on ham weight of ten pounds. Rethink coke and fruit idea. Decide to go for it anyway. Skewer fruit onto ham, dump coke over, and seal in foil, pray. Set busted oven for 350 to accomodate for apparent thermostat issue. Shove ham in, set timer for 1.5 hrs, and pray more. After 1.5 hrs, baste ham with gross coke, check internal temp, and LOWER OVEN TEMP to 300 degrees as ham is cooking much faster than it should, because your oven is obviously trying to kill you. Reseal ham in foil and shove back in oven. Reset timer for 1 hr. Check ham again after 1 hr, baste with more coke, remove foil, and shove back in oven again. Assume you have killed ham which will be dry as turd, and flavorless as it's 145 degrees already, and dinner is not for a while. Wait for family to gather for dead, dry ham.
Take ham out of oven and allow to rest while you consider embarassment of dry, gross ham when you have marginal rep as fairly decent family cook, and stack of blue ribbons for baked goods stuck in drawer someplace. Realize that this may be why God has led you to not eat a lot of pork, that perhaps you are ham-impaired and should not be allowed to cook animals you don't know by name. (I never knew a pig named "Smithfield")
Watch husband slice ham. Ham appears juicy....and tender....snag little piece of ham, which melts in your mouth with such flavor and tenderness as to be confused with prime cow prepared by master chef. Smile. Consider getting down on knees in kitchen to thank God for The Miracle of the Christmas Ham, but recognize that this might be extreme, and family might think you need short ride to nearest mental health facility for observation. Serve ham, potato, green beans, oysters, sister's excellent lasagna and her really wonderful broccoli salad, and later hand-crafted banana cream and chocolate cream pies, and cookies made with grandson with great delight and joy. Relax. Sip good wine. Breathe deeply and wish you could do it all again soon.
In knitting news....got the front and back of Aidan's gansey done last night and started collar. Changed collar from roll which I find a little feminine to 1:1 rib. I think I can get the sleeves on today and have it done for Christmas Eve.
Also finished store sample Modular Scarf for class I am to teach in spring. I need to run in ends and block still...will probably block it when I block A's gansey. I also tore out the beginnings of my own modular silk scarf version 2. I want to do it in st st with garter borders, as I think the st st will enhance the appearance of the yarn and lace pattern. Not that I dislike the gs version, just think st st will be more to my style and taste, and I had planned on keeping it. So it's tinked, back in the bag, and waiting. Finished Bad Wife mittens, which now have a pattern and if I could link to somepalce where pattern could be stuck, I'd post the sucker. Now have to make bad wife gloves. Also restarted Gene's sweater, and worked a whole inch before my mother in law dropped in.
Then I got a lovely box on Saturday addressed to 'Melissa Knitter' from A. Modesitt. Melissa Knitter. Quite appropos. Yarn, yarn, Yippty-YARN!!! I opened it, joyfully thinking that the plaid could be done this VERY WEEK!! I really would hate to see this garment not make it into the book. First, I've spent a lot of time knitting it, and she spent a lot of time designing it. Second, it's a pretty cool garment, especially the construction which is just neat. So I was stoked. I thought I'd spend Monday finishing the plaid. I opened the box in great anticipation, only to discover that there was a mix up on colors. Annie asked for Olive, but whoever packed the box sent Military. SO...I emailed Annie (sadly, was a hard thing to do!!) and she emailed the yarn co, and I am now hoping for "first week of January" versus first week of December for finishing it and mailing it back. Everything happens for a reason. If nothing else, I've gotten a ton of stuff done while waiting; stuff I had not planned to finish till after the Plaid. And during the holidays it's been nice to just be able to focus on my own stuff. So there he sits, poor old plaid, waiting for someone to come along and make him road worthy.
I am feeling slightly more festive. Doing the cookie thing, then making finger paintings for Omie and Mommy (today is his second birthday and last night when Mommy picked him up we gave her his first finger painting, framed and ready to hang) has helped. Being a grandmother is about the most wonderful thing imaginable! You can do so many cool things with them. He peed on the couch yesterday, which was hysterically funny. We'd taken off a diaper to dump poop and flush it down the potty (new cool game), and I went to wash my hands. He climbed up on the couch next to Meg and peed. I am pretty sure that if it'd been D or M, and was 1988 or 1990 I would not have been able to see the humor in the situation. Grandparenting takes all the pressure off. It's like having all the fun and not nearly as much of the worry. I dig the face coated with cookie dough, and the hands deep in crystal sugar. I don't think about the mess. I don't panic when he runs through my house coated in finger paint and touches every surface he can reach. I just shrug and smile. It's really cool.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
And a boat, and a train and a red muppet who pees on the pot, and a pile of books. Also finger paints, a smock, brushes, and I think we'll need an easel soon (I feel an Ikea trip coming on....).
The finger painting was a smash hit. It was hysterical. At first he looked at us like we'd gone mad, and would only use brushes. Then he went wild and the next thing I knew he was face down in the stuff, running his hands through it, grinning big.
In knitting news...I started a second silk modular scarf, the chevron one. I finished ruffles, and started a store sample modular scarf for a class in spring. Girl and Pixie picked the colors, and I was not loving them. Then today, when I shot them for this page, I inverted the colors for the heck of it. Kind cool. Contrast in vivid reality. And about the felted slipper plan...we don't talk about the felted slippers. It was ugly. It ended very badly. I now have a collection of wonderful felted cat beds. It is something I cannot even discuss. Hours I spent. And a huge amount of Berkshire. I put them through the washer four times in hot water with jeans and tennis balls. I also felted a bag at the same time and it came out exactly as it should have. But the slippers? No way. It's not width or length so much. It's height. They don't fit comfortably at all. They look like...well...cat beds. Like those cat sacks they sell in stores, only cuter. I've decided I hate slippers anyway. Who needs 'em??
But I looooove.... Angry Constipated Christmas Sheep!! I bought this last year about a week before Christmas. He poops licorice jelly beans when pushed. He's just so adorable! He's on my secretary desk with the ancient crepe paper tree my kids made during our impoverished youth (theirs and mine, thank you very much). My husband thinks I should let the tree go. When hell freezes I will consider it. My babies made that thing. They made ornaments for family that year. Golf Tee Angels, Felt Fish, Baby Sock SnowPeople. And one cardboard and crepe paper tree, with construction paper ornaments and glitter garland, and a tin foil angel with wool hair.
And now an embarrassing personal note....I really really stink at remembering important days. It's not that I don't remember exactly, it's just that I forget to remember the week before when I should have been planning. Yesterday we'd been out since mid-morning and it was now 2pm...we're driving through town, shopping, planning for party that's here Saturday, Girl had driver's ed driving time, busy-busy housewife stuff... I say "What's the date today?" And Girl says "December 14th."...and then I think for a second, and I laugh and shake my head at the irony. I did it again. I FORGOT MY WEDDING ANNIVERSARY! I have nothing. I don't want to shop any more. I hate feeling trapped into finding a gift as if it somehow reflects some level of personal commitment. He needs nothing and wants nothing. Neither do I. We just went through this regarding Christmas gifts. We could go out to dinner, which we usually do, but it's ten degrees, and our favorite (Non-Disney World) place is closed. I had a flash of inspiration. "I will make him a pair of mittens and a batch of chocolate chip cookies!" I've been not baking because of his cholesterol, and he loves cookies. I have three hours. I managed to get the cookies done and Mitten number one presentable. So here we have an image of a nearly completed Pattern-Free Bad Wife Mitten based on a fast swatch and a couple of measurements. I am writing it down as I go in case I like it when it's done. It's Classic Elite Wings from a failed project, double stranded. I was thinking of following it with a Bad Wife Hat and Scarf, and definitely Bad Wife Gloves. It's quite squashy and warm, and I'm hoping there's enough left to make a pair for myself. I'm always frozen.
Off and shopping again today, but for a good cause.... A. needs a kid sized baking set for making cookies with Omie and Girl! Tomorrow is Day One of the Official Melissa Christmas Bake-a-thon. It's when I get my Christmas Spirit back. I hope. Otherwise I will indeed be green and dragging Max behind me on Christmas Day.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
I made up the bits for the Noro Modular Bag yesterday but now don't know what to do with it. It's assembled, blocked and fully lined, has button (very neat vintage button from my grandma's button box, no kidding) but no handle yet. This is how I ended up with the junk above. I knit a thing, I say "Oh, that's cute." or "That is the ugliest thing I have ever seen!"and throw it in a bin. Except for the woven scarves - those my husband weaves and tries to sell with varying success. I don't usually do a thing more than once. I make it, and move on. I think this is why design appeals to me. Think it, swatch it, make it, and move on. Neeext!! Have some ideas in my head right this minute that need to be written down, ASAP.
Welcome Secret Yarn! This is Berkshire Bulky dyed exclusively for Valley Fibers by Great Adirondack. There will be a worsted version as well. It is very very fun. I am still seeing mainly accessories, but am trying to expand the scope. My personal preference is for smaller gauge, and it is hard for me to envision bulky projects. My daughter helps. Bulky and baggy are her things. She lets me know when I am way off base, or getting warm. This is color Grapevine. So far in my head there is a scarf and hat set, minimally one felted bag, a second scarf and hat (crocheted), and a snuggly warm vest. After Christmas I may sit and draw all of that. I probably should do it today before it rolls out the other side of my brain and I am onto something else. I cannot get the pic to look proper. Either over or under lit...can't get a decent shot that's truly reflectve of the depth of the colors and it is annoying the poo out of me. After two days I am quitting and posting these. You have got to believe that the color is just amazing and these pics are NoT doing it justice by a long shot. I want to do a sweater in the woven looking st. Also tried a brioche rib, a bobbly-concoction, and some good ole st st. The weavy one is my fave. I loooove it, moves the color around, prevents pooling. Dig it a LOT!
In spite of the above gift pile, I still need to finish 7 slippers. I ordered some sheet suede from an eBayer - beautiful stuff, but now have to cut it and make it into soles. The sheets are larger than I expected. I feel I got my money's worth from the deal. It was about $25 with shipping and I got enough suede to sole about 30 pair of slippers. I thought the piece was much smaller, so got two. I would have been good with enough for 15 pair. Now my workroom smells of leather, which is a nice cozy aroma.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
First, an off topic comment. I love this soup. It is from a Betty Crocker grocery store booklet that I snagged at Big Y ages ago (#147, Jan. 1999). And I just LOVE it. I used red quinoa instead of barley. I was all set to use barley, but did not get the quick cooking kind (it's not organic!), so just threw in a grain on hand. It's just really good, warming, nourishing food. I also used stew beef cut into 1/2" pieces. It's also fairly quick, about 1/2 of an hour including prep - but I prep my veggies between the first two stages. Even Gene ate it, and he is not a cabbage fan. Caraway and cabbage are friends though. We did not do the warm crusty whole wheat bun thing this time, although I have in the past.
This is a week of sloth, I swear. We shopped for Christmas yesterday ALL DAY and I am now overcome with scroogedness and grinchdom. I am humbug-ing and bah-ing all over the house. Hours I spend knitting for people to offset holiday cost and still go over budget. I almost bought Aidan a battery powered John Deere Tractor. ***sigh*** The kid is ruining me. Some tree-hugger I am. We settled on Potty Elmo (no pressure, kid, just a suggestion, a little something to think about), a package of die-cast cars, and four board books for birthday. Also a pile of finger paints and brushes for Omie's house. Cannot believe how long it took us to find plain old sloppy, messy finger paint. Apparently it's not allowed any more? Can't wait till Friday morning to let him loose with the stuff. Christmas is between the large train table with wooden track and cars and...I hate to say it...the John Deere!!
I did get some knitting (and a little crochet) done, but not much. I submitted one thing to Any Singer for NoSheep this morning. No pics, sorry. I wanted to do 2 more but ran short on time. I started recreating Meg's hat in some Himalayan rayon that I had hanging around. I was right, it flies along. I will work on it today while she's driving. I expect to have it nearly done by the end of her 2 hour lesson. I am also going to pick up two bottles of that Barboursville wine in exchange for services rendered at my friends's pc. Nice to have a friend who invites you to wine tastings then gives you two bottles of wine for a few of hours of basic pc maintenance. I could teach her how to do it herself, but then I'd be doing myself out of free good wine!
Also on today's menu just as a break from the Christmas thing - something for ME (me, me, me, it's all about ME!!). Someone - and I will not thank them, because I really don't advocate this behavior - disemboweled two skeins of Noro. Into the $2 bin they head, and (thanks to Sarah at the store) into my knitting bag soon after. I am planning to make the Pinwheel Purse from Modular Knits. I love a bag. This is a cute little thing made of center decrease triangles, and when it's started I'll post a pic. And then it's gonna be MINE all MINE!! Ruffles is cruising along, really hastened by the knitting backwards thing. I have another ball to attach and work in and it'll be done. It's fun, easy to knit, works up quick. Even with the backwards thing it still is nearly mindless tv knitting for me, which is a nice break from monster slippers (7 more to go...). They'll be on here again when all 12 are finished. We'll do a before and after pic. Finally, if mimicry is the sincerest for of flattery, then I am flattered beyond reason. The mimicry involves the Sweet Curacao bag. The flatterer is my beloved daughter who is making the bag for her friend Maria for Christmas in the oranges and reds Maria loves. Now, when strangers copy me, or make my patterns, I am flattered. But when one's own teenaged daughter, flesh and blood real live teenager, chooses out of the hundreds of patterns in this house the one you, her mother of all people, designed? Ahhh, folks, that is praise beyond words. Generally I want today to be restful, nourishing, relaxing. I need to return to holiday spirit. The bag gives me a big hug. Girl voluntarily knitting up one of mommy's patterns! It warms the heart, I tell you, it truly does!!
Monday, December 05, 2005
Friday, December 02, 2005
Sometimes I think he just shuts off his ears when I say anything that begins with "I am going to grab some more yarn..." I know I told him about he felted slipper idea. I know I did. Meg and I sat on the floor Wednesday night counting balls of Berkshire to see what we needed. I worked last night. This means I was in the store last night. This, of COURSE, means I bought yarn last night (DUH!!) I got some Berkshire and some non-animal fiber to work up a couple of swatches for Amy Singer's No Sheep For You, and I got some Luna to finish Moe's scarf....not a big trip by any means. But when I came home and he saw the bags there was a look that crossed his face, pain and fear mingled there for a moment and then resignation followed. Poor Gene. I tried relating this to stamps, but it has not gotten me anywhere. I can see the similarity. I am a stash enhancement expert. He should be happy. I'm not out at the mall with my credit card. I'm not redecorating every other year. I am not running around with other men. I wouldn't have time to knit if I did.
OK - this is a little scary. This is the first unfelted Berkshire slipper, and it looks as if it could fit the Jolly Green Giant. I am a little concerned. On the other hand I learned a lot from Gail Callahan about how to make things felt to where you want them, so worse case scenario, Meg and I are at these slippers with a washboard for a few hours till they get to what we want. It's only six pair of feet...twelve clogs...how bad can that be?!
Next we have the No Sheep For You thing. Designing for Valley Yarns is one thing. There is a comfort zone, immediate feedback and people I know in charge. I have three ideas. I have a bunch of yarn. What I lack is intestinal fortitude, which has delayed even swatching for weeks. Bawwwk, buk, buk, buk, BAAWWK!!!! I have to push past it.
Then there's the Poor Blessed Plaid. It is so patiently waiting to be completed. It has to go to New Jersey for finishing. I feel badly that Annie is getting all these completed projects while mine languishes in it's box by my chair. So patiently waiting for it's yarn to come so it can be finished. Poor thing.
Meg wore this hat to work last night. It's Scary Red Heart. Today I will recreate the pattern using something non-acrylic. Aidan will be here and hooks are easier to put down than pairs of needles. She received the hat last year as a gift, cute little thing and she loves it, but the Red Heart is bugging me. I don't know how much longer I can look at it. It would be a quickie to crochet. Bet I could have it done in no time!! Oh. The Secret Yarn. This would be perfect in the Secret Yarn. No, I can't tell you. That's why it's called Secret Yarn, duh!! But I will as soon as I can. I promise.
About a year ago I started making this out of leftover Scary Patons yarn. I want to make it for real, but not with Scary Patons. It's lovely, I think, cuff to cuff with various k/p combinations thrown in. I was thinking about Sugarloaf, then got distracted by drop-in questions and forgot to go grab a ball of each color. But then again, I probably have a partial ball of each color downstairs...Oh, see, I KNOW I do!! Everything happens for a reason! If I'd bought a bunch last night I'd feel a fool today!! Now I can just run downstairs and make a pile of colors. But that's probably another day's job. I need to focus on the slippers. All twelve. Well, no, ten now since one pair is done.
I am really glad that I came to the tag sale that the former owner held here before we moved in. Where else could I have gotten a pink velvet dog bed for $25?? We have never owned a proper sofa, and when I saw the ad in the paper for the tag sale at the very house we were closing on the following week I thought "How perfect! Maybe they'll just leave it there and we won't have to move it!!" They did; left it right in the mudroom where it was on tag sale day. Owen is not allowed on the furniture, as you can see here...he's spoiled, special, and he figures if my mother in law's dog can get up there why can't he? I just gave up. LOOK at him! Who would have the heart to say "Move!!" I can't. My kids are grown. It's time for spoiling of things; dogs, grandson, etc. I can lighten up a little and not say "No" so much maybe. Might be a nice change.