Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Wednesday's blog post on Wednesday, thanks to Skype

If it were not for Skype, I would not be writing this blog post today.  An hour ago, Filia had an interview in a town about 5 1/2 hours away.  Except due to the miracles of Skype, she could interview from the comfort of our living room, rather than get up at 2 AM, have a 20 minute interview, and get home in the middle of the afternoon.  Technology can be wonderful. 

One casualty of last week's blizzard may have been our mid-February sheetrocking.  There was a nasty fire in a nearby town the night of the blizzard -- the sort where fire crews in surrounding towns call out the plows to go ahead of them on the road so they can make it to the fire? -- and while the business doing the work for us didn't burn down, the owner's residence did.  I've been in a holding pattern for 2 years now on this job ... a few more months won't hurt anything.  It'll give me more time to figure out my wall-to-wall bookcase!

Not to be outdone by the blizzard last Tuesday, Monday's weather was also very nice and blizzardy.  We were on the edge of the Abysmal Travel zone.  I had somewhere to go (someone to get somewhere, actually) and ventured out in the morning.  Visibility outside of town was worse than in the photo below.  I wouldn't have been able to see the sign, and had I been the car, I *might* have been able to see the truck in front of me.  Maybe not.  I thought about turning around and cancelling, but turning around on a US highway when you can't see anything can be tricky.  There could be a car coming the other direction!  So I ventured onward, and the visibility cleared to the point of safety after a few hundred yards, and after a few miles, the driving was fine.

This road got closed a bit after this camera shot
Knitting has been fairly uneventful.  I finished the mittens, got them off in the mail, finished another commission, got that off in the UPS, volunteered myself for a repair job (and had embroidery floss to match! Two strands was just the right thickness), finished a pair of socks, and started in on a pair of gloves for Filius. 
With an empty knitting calendar, my mind has been busy thinking of things to knit.  And, as it has been happening lately, things found me.  That sort of thing is SO good for the yarn budget.  I am still being tempted by either two cones of Frangipani, or Brown Sheep Sport, or perhaps some Finullgarn, to reknit a Danish Nattroyer.  It's been calling me for a while, so I may just go ahead and give in. 

But - enough staring at the blog post.  Time to go tidy and knit, before I introduce two wonderful ladies into the Art of the Tubular Bind Off, and then work with another wonderful lady on My First Mitten. 

It's Wednesday, and I don't have any soup ideas this week yet.  Please, suggest away in the comments!

Thursday, February 04, 2016

In which I finally make a workaround for iCloud and photos

It's a beautiful, glorious, sun-shiny (or at least it was) day here in the Snowy North.  We had a very nice blizzard on Tuesday -- late enough in the day to wonder how many school districts would look utterly ridiculous for announcing on Monday that they would be closed Tuesday, yet early enough in the day that all the state and county highways were CLOSED and the plows were pulled by 2 PM.  I felt quite pleased that Sunday's decision to reschedule my knitting class in a town 20 miles away from me was not open to ridicule.  

Even Vir came home at noon.  
Wednesday, after shoveling - and a snowblower assist from Vir!
Of course, if one is home, and being sensibly NOT glued to a screen watching people report on the snow and talk about which roads one sensible people should not be on, one ought to do somethign else.  So I knit.  The middle mitten is the first of a pair that I am currently knitting.  The left mitten is also from my needles, but has been dubbed "Sasquatch's Mitten" because of it's generous size.  Brown Mitten #2 is about halfway done, and should get finished tomorow.  Today's calendar does not have much space for concentrated knitting.  This pattern, for whatever reason, requires concentration.  I have made SO MANY mistakes in the pattern that required me to rip back to fix them.  Totally unlike me.  Obviously, I need to practice concentrating. 

And -- soup!  This week's tureen contained Cream of Cauliflower Soup, and as pictured below, Carrot Soup.  Filia and I spiked ours with a bit of miso, and it was delicious.  Nutmeg and a dollop of sour cream crossed my mind too, but I thought that might clash with the cumin and chili powder in the recipe. 

Until next week ...

Saturday, January 30, 2016

In which a lot of things are wrapped up...

This past week has been full of activity.  I mailed off two projects, accepted another project (and finished knitting it already ... two more seams, and it's done!), and made good headway on a third project. 

Did you know there is almost NO data out there on how far above the 'thumb crotch' the tip of a pointed mitten should be?  To fix this problem - and to design mittens that have enough room, without having too much room - I am going to take a 7x8" rotary cutting mat to church tomorrow and get some photos of hands, then crunch the numbers.  If anyone would like to join in via the blog, please do!  Send me (anonymously or otherwise) your
  • length of hand from just above the wrist bone to the tip of your middle finger
  • hand circumference - around all four fingers
  • vertical distance from thumb crotch to the tallest finger
 If you happen to have a Norwegian mitten (or Latvian) that fits perfectly, I'd be interested in the circumference, total length, and length from the thumb hole to the tip of the mitten.

Any guesses as to what I'm knitting? 

I got a book in the mail this week -- a delightful happening which often follows, as in this case, the ordering of a book.  Latvian Mitten Designs.  Delicious eye candy and knitting fodder.  I think I'll start with Mitten #10.  It reminds me of Michigan State University, so will probably get called the Michigan State Latvian.  Unfortunately, I don't have any proper greens, so I can't cast on yet.  Happily, I do have sock yarn, so that is what will be going onto the needles after I finish up a wee bit of something else first.

Soups -- This week, the tureen saw Cincinnati Chili with Beans, and will see Cream of Cauliflower Soup (from More With Less) tonight.  The weather has been perfect for soup. 

My efforts at the sewing machine to produce a nice duvet cover came to a screeching halt when I adhered to 'right sides together and you won't go wrong' on the third french seam on the back.  Oops.  I decided to cut my losses at that point and ordered a cover from Overstock, which arrived yesterday.  Yay!  A duvet cover!!!  The fabric that was supposed to be the cover may become Roman shades, or a bag to store the comforter in during the summer, or a thrift shop donation. 

Until next week!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

It's WARM!

Southern Minnesota has once again emerged from a round of sub-zero temperatures, and today is going to be over 20 F.  As a comparison, it was either -9 or -13 when we went to church on Sunday.  The day on which Filius had a fire alarm go off in his dorms at 2:30 AM. (Burnt popcorn)  Brrrr.  Kinda cold standing outside in your jammies in that weather.

It's been a regular knit-fest around here.  As expected, no sooner did I finish up one project than I had yarn for the next.  And that next project was so wee and cute and charming that I actually have photos to share with you!

It's a sampler sweater -- big enough to fit a good-sized newborn or perhaps a 1-month old, but not much more than that.  For learning new techniques, though, it's a perfect size.  I know a new way to make pockets now, and weave in floats with both yarns held in my right hand - knitting OR purling - and put in zippers, and two ways to work a shawl collar.  I am just brimming over with new techniques. 

Speaking of brimming over ... If you are on Facebook, head over to here.  The red and white gloves were knit by me!  As are the greyish brown/white ones in the top leftish box here.  I am just full of Squee!ness.  And if you are as enchanted by Sanquhar patterns as I am, you absolutely have to check out the online exhibition.  If you get as far as page 3, and look at Beyond The Glove (which has a thumbnail of Wendy Johnson's gorgeous Sanquhar Cowl, which I absolutely want to make some day, if not sooner), you will find a pair of socks ... by me!

Which are not these socks.....
I needed to cast on SOMETHING to keep my head from swelling too much this past weekend, so I brought out my Christmas yarn from Filia, decided that the Atlantic Current Socks on Ravelry looked perfect for the self-striping pattern, and cast on.  (Totally skipping buying the pattern, and 'unventing' a new heel because I was feeling adventurous)  I like how the first one came out.  They'll be fraternal pairs ... the yellow of the second sock starts 2" closer to the toe than on this one.  Knitting this week holds polishing up a sweater pattern, contemplating some mittens that need resizing, finishing the second sock ... and finding something else to knit.  So many possibilities, so much  wisdom needed to pick which one to go with!  And I need to get working on the duvet cover (sewn, not knit) for our comforter, too. 

The soup tureen (my precious!  tee hee) was used last night for Hot and Sour Soup with Shrimp, and received rave reviews.  The soup, not the tureen.  It will get used again this week for chili, and a carrot soup as well in the near future.  

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

I'd rather be knitting

If all my blog readers were in my living room, cozily ensconced on comfy chairs with their choice of fiber (wool, silk, cotton, etc) or book, and beverage ... I wouldn't need to stand here at the computer typing a blog.  I could knit and we could all visit.  Except perhaps the book-readers.  That is a problem with reading.  I do not have the knack of processing written language and verbal language simultaneously, unless it is checking an audio against a print copy. 

But, lest I continue to avoid posting my blog until I get so good at it that it is next year or later, here is a short post. 

Minnesota may have settled into a routine of warm weekdays (warm = can shovel and walk to the post office in a sweater, no coat needed) and cold weekends (cold = double-digits below zero wind chill, and lows even without wind chill.  Fahrenheit.)  Today was delightfully warm and the walk is neatly shoveled.  Even better, Filia did the lunch tidying up while I did the outside work, so when I came home from the post office, all signs of lunch were cleared away.  ((hugs))

Yarn arrived in the mail today, more yarn should arrive tomorrow, and I have enough knitting to justify scheduling a few hours each day for it.  Scheduled knitting time means I can ignore dog hair on the floor, or a cabinet that could use a reorganizing, and things like that.  I really do need to get a cover made for the wool comforter I got Vir this Christmas.  I got started on it, but hit a bit of a block when I discovered that the stripes were not perpendicular to the selvedges, and I'd already cut on the stripes, and ... well, suffice it to say that I may be using that fabric to make Roman Shades (maybe), but will get different fabric for cover. 

One of my Christmas presents was a soup tureen. Did I say that in my last post?  (Goes to check.  Yup.  I did.  I'll probably mention it in the next post, too.)  It's still one of my favorites, and will make this a Year of Soup.  I feel morally obligated to use it at least once a week.  We've had Chicken Spinach Soup, Miso, and perhaps another soup or two as well since my last post.  I really should keep a list.  But that would take away from knitting time.  

As an aside, is going out of business.  Lots of discounts (and out of stock items, due to the lots of discounts.) No, the tureen didn't come from  My garlic roaster did, though!  Mmmm.  Roast garlic. 

Living room sheetrocking is set for mid-February.  I am trying not to look forward TOO hard to getting a built-in bookcase sometime later this year, after the dust settles and the paint dries.  But really ... floor to ceiling, wall to wall, bookcase.... with a few non-booky shelves, and a spot for the computer, and utter homey COZINESS and a place to put books.... 

Happy January, all!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

New Year's Eve Eve

And all is still well!  I have oodles of pictures to share, but they are on my iPad and will just have to wait for later. 

We spent a lovely Christmas at my mom's house, and had a nice trip home with no snow to contend with.  In years past, the treks between car and house were an adventure -- especially with a wheelchair and a non-walking daughter to carry through nearly waist-deep drifts!  Filius did a splending job of Materials Management and we made it home with just one bag left behind. 

Except for the goodies that were supposed to go into my stocking, but which never made it in there.  And that was supposed to come home today, but the Proper Party forgot.  And I forgot to appropriate some of mom's extra tea, too.  It was a productive day of errands, apart from the forgotten bean flour, Saran wrap, stocking bag, and tea.  Gift to give, purchase, forgotten item, and appropriation.  No more than one thing in each category -- not too bad!

The morning after Christmas, we woke up to a significant dusting of snow.  It was lovely.  Monday, we got around 8".  I am not getting my exercise by shoveling walks.  I figure if I do 30 minutes a day, and Filius does 30 minutes a day, we will both be able to move the following day AND the walk will get cleared.  We have a generous front walk to shovel, including two spots that the plows build up nice and high.  Filia's interview Tuesday morning was rescheduled (due to the storm) by the interviewer. 

Yarny-wise, the mittens are done, the submission was evaluated, and I got the pattern for one commission and will go knit on it just as soon as I finish this blog entry.  I'm still waiting for yarn for the other project.  It would be delightful if I got the current project on the needles done JUST before the next bit of yarn comes in, as then I won't have to split my time.  Then again, the one I don't have the yarn for has a due date 25 days before the one I do have the yarn for.  Hmmm. 

Cooking-wise, the next batch of fudge didn't cooperate.  Sigh.  The cheese ball was excellent, and I now have a gorgeous soup tureen to fill with soups.  Yesterday's Quick Corn and Bacon Chowder (you have to be a member now to see it ) was supposed to make 4 servings.  I was dubious, as it called for 2 lbs of corn, 2 lbs of potatoes, 3 1/2 cups of liquid .... and indeed, it filled my 4 quart dutch oven.  I had less than a quart leftover, though, so it wasn't TOO much.  I think 2016 will be the Year of the Soup Tureen.  A soup a week shouldn't be too hard, should it?

Caramels are on the agenda for making, as is nice normal bread, split pea soup for tomorrow, and some cherry cheesecake.  Mmmmm. 

AND ... I got all my Christmas cards out!  Which is not to say that I sent a Christmas card to everyone I wanted to send a card to, but rather to say that I bought two boxes of cards and have sent every last one of them out.  Addressed in red and green ink, with the red ink being courtesy of a sampler ink package I received for Christmas. 

Off to knit I go ...

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas Eve Eve, and all is well.

It's the eve of Christmas Eve, and all is well.  The stocking are hung on the bookshelves with care, and there is no pending ice storm, and no one is sniffling or coughing, and God is sovereign.  It's a perfect day to curl up with a good book, a cuppa tea, and rejoice in the knowledge that Christ has come into the world, and is coming again. 

The curling up bit is going to wait for a while, though, since I signed two knitting contracts yesterday, have a mitten thumb to finish today (because the yarn came in, not because I need to finish it by Christmas), and there's a knitting submission on my table to evaluate.  And a cheeseball to make, and music to practice, and a few dozen other little things that need doing.  Like Christmas cards!  If I can't be curled up with a book or some good knitting, having a list of things to be productive with is the next best thing. 

Filia is still job-interviewing. The first one on Monday was a bit of a disappointment -- a 2 hour drive there, 5 minute interview, and 2 hour drive back home. Bleagh. I didn't get much knitting done during the interview. Interview today, interview next Tuesday, and sometime between Christmas and New Year's she'll hear the results of Monday's second interview.  I think in the past month she has interviewed more than Vir and I have in our entire lives.  The internet sure has changed how one goes about finding a job. 

I am confronting my fudge-making nemesis head-on this year, and not doing too badly.  The gingerbread fudge came out delicious ... after cooking it according to the directions and having it be much too caramelly, then recooking it and having it still be caramelly (but the bottom of the pan's bits were perfect), and recooking it (and having it turn into perfect fudge while cooling to 110, and being totally stuck in the pan), and recooking it and pouring it STRAIGHT INTO THE 8x8 WHILE TOASTY WARM (ahem).  So when the sour cream fudge decided that it was going to set JUST when I was turning the saucepan upside down to pour it out ... I reheated the bits that wouldn't come out easily (about a cup or so of fudge), ignored the 'cool down, beat until the gloss is gone' bit, and voila ... perfect fudge.  Much perfecter than the squashed stalactite which I managed to extract from the rapidly setting fudge in the saucepan. Thermometers are tricksy and false, and gloss is a myth.  I am going to try ignoring both those things in my next batch, and see how things go. 

German Chocolate Macaroons were much-enjoyed during church fellowship time.  I was delighted with how they came out, and happy to make something that got eaten.  The stollen also behaved itself this year, and my four loaves have turned into one.  The one would be GONE if it were sliced, but Filius is showing great restraint and letting me save a half-loaf for Boxing Day.

Merry Christmas to all!  Maranatha.