Monday, November 5, 2012

Slug Update and Halloween

I got a few people to try the "stewed slugs" on Halloween.  Way to go brave Maddie who was the first, and Lacey who came back for seconds.

I have to admit, they looked really gross.  Michelle wins points for not hesitating, despite the appearance.

The kids costumes were all great.  The Joker was the spookiest because he was always in character.

Joker and Samurai,

Jango Fett, Knight, Spy

Vampire and Mad Scientist

And Imagination.

I love Halloween for the costumes.  I don't really like the creepy stuff, I don't nee the candy, but dressing up is the best!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Stewed Slugs

Today, I accidentally made a great Halloween joke. I really made plum jam, but I have never made jam that came out such a hideous color.  The plums were little green ones off a shoot of my neighbor's tree that came up under our fence. We've made delicious jam out of the plums off the branches of their tree before, but I guess these were different.  I've been told they fruit trees that grow up from the roots are never as good a the tree they come from.  Usually the branches that bear good fruit are grafted into different rootstock.  So these were little and green.  They were like huge cherries to eat.  But they tasted so good, I decided to make jam anyway.

As I was stirring the pot, I couldn't help but think of those really young baby diapers.  *shiver*  These picture really hide the greenish mustard color of the jam.  It was so much worse in person.  And the few reddish peels look really bad too.

Anyway, despite the color, the jam is delicious.  As I was stirring, I started to think about my mother-in-law's huge halloween party coming up.  (Halloween is more important to Judy than Christmas.)  I think I'll take some jam, put it in a bowl, and add the can of "slugs" I bought in Oregon.  Do you think I can get my nieces and nephews to try it?  Yum, Yum, try some delicious stewed slugs.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Plugging away in chaos

If I could only ever finish a coherent thought, let alone a task...

I'm supposed to be putting up my pears (I decided to dry them, right?), making plum jam, and doing something with all those impossible almonds from my almond tree.  Instead, I dream of more knitting while driving the kids everywhere, trying to decide how often to cross the cable on those leg warmers...

Speaking of leg warmers, I can't even get knitting out of my mind while exercising.  I've got plans for a series of ballet knitting patterns.  Mostly the classics, not something crazy and new.  But today in ballet I stared at the teacher's sweater trying to decide if I'd rather do a provisional cast-on with a folded hem, or a tiny bit of ribbing on the bottom edge when I designed the sweater.  I completely missed the combination she was teaching...

Last night I made some progress on the Radiating Star Blanket while watching the Presidential debates.  There is no better description of how I feel about it than this Non Sequitur comic by Wiley Miller.  If only...

But all in all it was still a good day.  The fall leaves have been amazing, and it snowed last night!  I got to dance, have lunch with my 3rd grader, have dinner with my sister and her kids, and now listen to my children chattering while they're supposed to be asleep.  And my hubby will be home from his trip tomorrow!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Christmas in Progress

I should know myself well enough by now to know that a quick and easy knit gets harder if you think it's so quick and easy that you forget to pay attentions.  That's what's been going on with my Mother-in-Law's mini blanket.  The pattern, Radiating Star Blanket by Alexis Layton, is beautiful and simple.  It shouldn't have been a problem.

The first thing I did was cast on over two needles using the long tail cast on.  I do this almost as a rule to make sure my cast on edge isn't too tight.  Well, I got the center star finished and decided that the circular hole in the middle was really big and loose.  I ripped out for the first time and started over, casting on over only one needle.  It looked much better.

I finished the first skein of yarn and the second star pattern about a week ago.  I used a spit join because I hate weaving in ends and kept on going.  I was trucking along and things looked great.  About 14 rows later, I realized that there was a mistake about eight rows back...but I couldn't figure out how that was possible because the pattern seemed to line up.  I dropped about 8 stitches and unraveled and knit them back up correctly.  But now there were really more problems.  I stared for a long time.  I unraveled and fixed a couple of other places.  I looked at the loose stitches and the additional problems.  What had I done?  I had made multiple mistakes on 7 of the 8 repeats.  Ugg.  I ripped back 8 rows and started again.  I finally got back to where I'd ripped out...and found another mistake six rows back.  Luckily, it wasn't too bad, and I was able to fix it without all the ripping back this time.

Now I've marked the beginning of the round, and I will pay more attention--even if I'm watching TV with my husband!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Smaller Harvest

It's a good thing my pear tree is abundant, because this is the harvest from my Jonathan Apple tree:

Still, it's only the second year this tree has born fruit at all, so I'm grateful for 4 delicious apples.  I also have a red delicious that doesn't have any fruit this year. The apples really seem to be an every other year sort of thing.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Picking Pears

We had the cousins over for a sleepover last night, so today became pear picking day!

They all helped pick the grapes last week, and we made grape juice and the tastiest raisins I've ever had.

This pear tree produces so well every year, I already have a ton of bottled pears.  This year I think I'll try to dry them.  My husband got me an awesome dehydrator, and I've heard dried pears are delicious.

We had some huge pears this year, and some tiny ones!

I have a fabulous Birnentorte (Pear Torte) recipe I brought home with me from Germany.  I have to make american modifications, but maybe it's time to actually write it down in english and share it with everyone!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Wingspan is Finished

Like many others, I was totally caught up by Wingspan.  What a clever little pattern, and how many people have made so many gorgeous versions!  I started one this summer, and finished all but the weaving in.  I finally have the ends woven in just in time for fall.

The yarn is Knit Picks Chroma Fingering in Theatre.

I wanted to be able to finish it with just one skein of Chroma, so I only cast on 81 stitches for the initial triangle.  I had enough yarn in the end to finish 9 triangles, but then not enough for a nice finished edge, so I ripped back the last triangle and had a bit of yarn left over.

Now the real question is, do I keep it for myself or give it away for Christmas?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Math for Color Affection

I gathered information from seven knitters of color affection who were kind enough to be very specific about how much yarn they used.  Thanks, ladies!  The trouble is, the yardage varies dramatically.  And it's not even consistent which color you need the most of!  But I've compiled a little table of the results:

Number   MC in yds  CC1 in yds  CC2 in yds
1 217 167 243
2 277 173 217
3 250 211 277
4 256 224 250
5 277 231 300
6 293 254 231
7 277 185 250
Highest 293 254 300
Average 264 206 252

I think number 6 is an outlier in the data.  If I throw those numbers out, my averages are:
MC: 259 yds, CC1: 199 yds,  CC2: 256 yds.  If I spin consistently at 258 yd/50 gm, that would be:
MC: 50.2 gm, CC1: 37.3 gm, CC2: 49.6 gm.

So how much should I spin?  I would love to make all the yardage come out perfect, with no waste, but I know that's setting myself up for trouble.  I think I'll call  my first 50 gm CC2, use the 40 gm bunch for CC1, and add some to the make a 55 gm bunch for the MC.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Spinning for Color

I finally wound my first 50 grams of plied yarn for Color Affection into a skein.

I'm very happy with the look and feel of the yarn.  I was aiming to match Knit picks Palette, because others had used that for the Color Affection successfully.  50 g of Palette has 231 yards.  My skein came in at 258 yards.  Whoohoo!

Now here's the problem.  I've looked at a lot of finished projects on Ravelry that used the Palette Yarn, and almost all of them used more yarn than I just spun.  What did I look at before?  I know it was weight, not length.  I'm wondering if I need to add fiber to one of my other chunks to make more yarn.  Trying to make it come out just perfect seems like a recipe for disaster.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Getting Started on Christmas

Looking forward to a beautiful weekend of knitting while listing to General Conference at my Mom's Cabin, I wound a few balls of yarn.

I bought this yarn a long time ago for my mother-in-law who loves purple.   It's Araucania Nature Wool Chunky.  I love that it's hand-dyed in Chile by a women's coop using vegetable dyes.  I'm going to make her a small circular blanket/shawl for keeping warm while working on her laptop this winter.   I'm going to assume she's not reading this blog, or I've just blown her Christmas present!

My kids and nieces and nephews had a great time winding the balls of yarn.  My swift got a good workout.  We also wound this yarn up to make leg-warmers for my daughter, who requested some for ballet.

This is Knit Picks Palette yarn, hand dyed by me.  I've got plans for a whole line of ballet inspired knitting patterns, and this will be the first I knit up.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Spinning for Color Affection

If you follow Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, theYarn Harlot, you might have read her posts about the Color Affection shawl.  The desire to knit it became so great at one retreat that they started calling the Color Infection, which seems true because the infection was so strong it reached over the internet.  I've been dying to make this shawl ever since.  

I'm on a yarn diet, however, and despite many looks through the stash, I found nothing right to knit it with.  I even managed to resist a sale at Knit Picks on the right yarn.  I kept telling myself I had many too many other projects to finish first.  

Happily, I finally remembered that I have fiber in my stash too.  

This is some wool-ish roving I've had for a year or two.  I say wool-ish because it is mill ends guaranteed to be at least 80% wool.  There is something else really shiny and fluffy in there every now and then.  I tried a burn test, and I don't think it's synthetic, so I'm hoping it's tussah.  It sure feels silky.

I read a lot of people's finished projects on Ravelry, to try to decide how much to spin.  I finally split off segments of 50 g, 45 g, and 40 g for each of the three colors.  I decided to spin first and dye after, though that decision alone took me a few days.

I just finished plying up the 50 gram bit.  It has just a touch of brown in it, but is mostly creamy white right now.  I still have to decide on colors for the finished shawl!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Yarn Diet

I've just re-dedicated myself to my yarn diet.  The idea came to me from Wendy, who said she wasn't going to buy any more yarn until she had used up every bit of everything in her stash.  Wow.  I've been watching all sorts of great things come off her needles and hooks since then.  She makes whatever the yarn will work for.

I couldn't bring myself to be that good.  I decided to knit only out of my stash for a year.  Then I added the exception that I could buy yarn I needed for a gift.  Then sales became an exception too.  My stash is now bigger and better than ever.  I mean worse, don't I?

I've been knitting away, but I really have to make the yarn I have fit in the space I have, so it's back on the diet again.  I am committed not to buy yarn until all that I have fits in the bins I have for yarn.  (Should I admit how many bins there are?)  

The only trouble is...I'm hooked on a pattern, thinking about it all the time, and I don't have any yarn for it.  In all those bins, nothing will work.

But I remembered I have a spinning wheel.  And a fiber stash.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Summer Garden

We have raspberries this year!!  I knew that you were supposed to cut back raspberries, so last year I cut them all back.  Then I found out that raspberries only grow on second-year canes.   No raspberries last year.  But the kids and I picked these this morning.  They are delicious!!

Cache Gran Fondo 2012

I did it!  I rode my bike for 51.4 miles in the Cache Gran Fondo 2012.  I only decided to try and do this ride less than 2 weeks ago, so I didn't have too much time to train.  I also don't have the kind of bike you're supposed to have, but the Gran Fondo is a ride, not a race, and billed for all levels.  I hoped I'd be fine.  Of course, when I signed up, it said it was a 40 mile ride.  Then it became 50, and I got worried.

By the time I showed up Saturday morning, I was really nervous.  I felt embarrassed to be the only one (it seemed) with a bike for riding around town instead of speed.  Mark came to see me off and give me moral support, which I really appreciated.  I hoped everyone would pass me quickly so that I could just ride at my own pace without feeling so self-conscious.  The 100 mile riders and 70 mile riders all started earlier, and at 7:15 am, our 50-miler group was off.

The course was pretty flat, so I did fine for a long time.  I started out in about the middle of the group, but people steadily passed me.  Every time I was pretty sure I was the last one, someone else would pass.  But it wasn't until nearly 20 miles into the ride that the young boys on mountain bikes passed me.  I decided that was really probably it--the last to pass me.  Then we did a little one mile sprint and I passed a couple of the boys.  No offense kids, but that was kind of fun.

At the first rest area, they had really good breakfast food that I didn't feel hungry to eat, and bike repairs offered.  My bike chain had started squeaking continuously as I pedaled, so I asked if they could oil my chain.  The guy was so nice.  I was embarrassed about my bike again, and he was very complimentary: probably just to help me feel good.  He also adjusted my shifters so that I could get into 8th gear (my highest) which wasn't working before.  Yeah!  I rode off feeling like I'd had a free tune up.

Then I hit the hill challenge.  It was about a mile and a half and looked straight up from the bottom.  I was determined to ride up the whole thing, even if I had to rest and then ride some more.  It seems really hard to walk a bike up a hill after pedaling so hard; I've tried it.  Not far into riding up, I realized that everyone on the hill was walking their bikes.  They yelled encouragements to me when I passed.  Bikers are nice!  Seriously!  Once I was done, I felt like the rest of the ride was in the bag.

Somewhere after that, I started having random thoughts like, "I should have shaved my legs," and "These bike shorts really helped!  I'm only getting really sore right now!"  Some ladies taking a break on the side of the road told me I was doing really well with that kind of a bike.  So nice!

The weather was fantastic: cooler than it'd been in weeks, and overcast.  Kind of sticky, but worth it to have the sun behind clouds.

At the 40 mile rest stop, I was really glad I still had 10 miles to go, because I still felt good.  The ride back in to Logan was fun, but I could start to really feel the tired muscles.

Mark and the little kids came to meet me at the finish line.  Lots of bystanders cheered, which was really fun.  What a great ride!  I'm so glad I did it, and I have to admit, it's a lot easier and more fun for me than running.  I'm taking a couple of days off now to rest my aching muscles and knees.  I forgot to look at my time when I rode through the finish arch, but it was pretty close to 5 hours and 20 minutes.  And I didn't finish last.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tour de Fleece

I keep hearing about my fellow fiber enthusiasts' goals in the Tour de Fleece.  This is where you spin every day that the the riders in the Tour de France ride.  I had great intentions to participate.  I haven't spun in a long time, and I'm dying to let some wool run through my fingers, even in the heat.

I also heard about the Gran Fondo bike ride in my community to support the hospital.  I've often wanted to participate in a fun bike ride through my beautiful valley, but I'm so intimidated by the experienced people in most races.  This one sounded perfect, because a Gran Fondo (Big Ride in Italian) is truly a ride, not a race, and is supposed to accomodate all levels.  There was a 40 mile ride that seemed about right for me.

I told my husband I wanted to ride, but the cost (which is a fund raiser for a good cause) seemed really high.  Well, my husband sponsored me and I started to ride last week.  That gave me a whole week and a half to train for my ride.  Let me just say that it hurts to sit.

So my deal with myself was that for every day I "spun" on the bike, I could spin on my spinning wheel.  This would have been great!  But I've biked almost every day, and haven't done a lick of spinning.  Maybe after the Gran Fondo on Saturday.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Navajo Wool

This April my family took an amazing two week trip through the southwest.  We saw 7 National Parks and lot more in between.  One of the towns we stopped in was full of Native American kitsch for tourists.

There was a weaving room with amazing (and stunningly expensive) Navajo weavings for sale.  While I was looking, a woman came and started weaving on a big rug on the loom.  She would weave a few inches of the appropriate color, then if she was done, simply break off the yarn by untwisting it a bit and pulling.  It was wool singles in naturally dyed colors.  I asked her who made the yarn, and she said it was made locally, and I could find some in the grocery store.  I had found my souvenier!

I almost walked past it in the grocery store.  There was just a grocery card piled up with skeins of navajo wool in tons of beautiful and tempting colors.  The naturally dyed skeins were hanging from the rafters above my head and were of course more expensive.  I took six skeins to my husband and he helped me pick two colors to bring home.  I'm first going to weave a simple hat band for my outdoor hat. Then we'll see what inspiration comes!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Liberty or Death

I was surprised by how many people were a bit shocked when they saw me knitting this hat.

This was hat made on commission for my best Monmouth Cap customer. It's a bit big on my model!

In the immortal words of Patrick Henry,

"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"