Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Since finishing Queen Susan, I've been drifting from small project to small project.  While the weather was warm, there was lots of biking and so the small projects took a few days to get done.  Now the weather is cold, and the small projects are taking me less time to do than to decide on.  Remember, I generally work from a stash of leftovers or hand-me-downs, so picking a project isn't as easy as walking into a store, pointing at something, and buying the necessary materials. 

It gets annoying, never knowing where one's next project is coming from.  On Saturday, I got to the whiney point.  (And settled on making Rikke out of some second-hand yarn which came from Wisconsin.  Hi, friend in Wisconsin!)  I also decided to make another pair of fine-gauge mittens.  And on Sunday, I dropped a note to another knitter to ask if a) she had any knitting that had my name on it, and b) had she seen any gorgeous motifs that would normally take up a whole afghan, which I could use for my mittens?  (Remember ... if it's 20" across in a worsted gauge, it's 5" across in my tiny gauge.  Or if it's 2" across in real life, it's less than a half-inch in my little world.  I could put a hornbook on one of my mittens. Maybe.)

Her reply to my e-mail started a deluge!  I am now happily settled with
  1. A Christmas project for my son.  The last skein I needed to get started had been backordered since September.  It came in Monday.
  2. Motifs for a mitten pattern (13.5 spi, not 20 ... but still fun!)
  3. An article to write
  4. A sweater to turn into multiple sizes and write a publishable pattern for (and knit a New and Improved version)
  5. Ideas for my second pair of fine-gauge mittens.  
And, never one to let grass grow under my feet, I have written to some yarn companies to ask about samples for 4 and 5.

Ahhhh.  It's good to have knitting.

On the 'this could be a disaster' front, I'm skipping a swatch for #1.  Yes, it's Fair Isle and requires close gradation of yarn colors, and yes I did change yarn companies and every single color -- but there is simply NOT another gray that I can use to shade one spot more, and the other colors will work (I may even drop some, as they're so close I can't tell the 4 apart in the project).  I already know my gauge... we'll see if the project gets relegated to swatch status at some point.  I hope not!  

Now, if I can just get my Kindle to behave without too many problems.  Yesterday, the text-to-speech developed a personality quirk in which the use of the 'pause' button actually meant 'no more text-to-speech until you restart the Kindle.'  That got fixed by a hard reset, which also depopulates the entire thing.  It's doable.  Now the 'go to' application is not working, which means if I'm reading a book that is a compilation of 70 books which are each 300-400 pages long, and I'm in the 275th book, the only way to get to my location (which I wrote down - 324211) is to go One Page At A Time.  It's worth another phone call.  Because I have LOTS Of knitting that will require good books to listen to. 

And I want to know if Harry and Bertie ever found the Golden Sands of the Incas so Harry could get wealthy and marry the gorgeous Miss Prendergast, who had a crotchety guardian. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Cycling through September ...

Most of the interesting things happening in my life lately involve a bicycle.  Or at least, those are the ones that pop into my mind first. 

I *did* bike 24 miles to mom's and back two weeks ago. And lived!  I've been biking 3-4x/week, usually 10-15 miles per outing.  Not wanting to be a wuss, I kept waiting for my seat to feel more comfortable, but it didn't, and at the encouragement of one of the ladies from Knit Night, I took myself and my bike to the bike shop.  (Have I mentioned the bike shop door is about 8 feet from the yarn shop door?  It's handy).  I came home from the shop with a reasonably priced new seat, chain lube, a lubed chain, and the knowledge of how to remove my front tire.  The things they've invented since 1970!  (That's my other bike of reference.  Quick release wheels did not exist on bikes in 1970. At least not on my dad's bike.)  I know it can take a while to get used to a new seat, but I'm an optimist so Filius and I set off on a 16 mile ride after we got home and had a great time.  It was the first time we'd traveled that 'block', and I certainly got a workout.  New seat = new trunk muscles in play. 

Today, our plan was to bike to the next town south of us for dessert after lunch.  Except my rear tire was totally flat.  We reinflated it, biked around the town block, and wondered if we could make the trip (12 miles) if we brought along an air pump.  Wisdom prevailed, and we decided against it.  Then inquisitiveness came to the fore, and we managed to remove the tire from the bike, the tread and tube from the rim, find the leak, patch it (yay, Roho patch kits!), reassemble everything and ... head off for dessert.  And order two hand-thrown cups. 

God has perfect timing.  Yesterday, I learned what I needed to know to be able to fix my bike today. 

Today is also applesauce canning day.  Eleven quarts are cooling, and another 4 are about to jump into the water bath.  I think I'll make some apple leather next.  And then pie filling.  And somewhere in there, pumpkin pie filling.  A neighbor dropped off some of the bounty of her squash bed, which survived the bugs.  My squash bed did not survive.

Knitwise, I've been slacking.  My big project is going to be a Christmas vest for Patrick, but the yarn's not in yet.  I cast on for a scarf, to use up some oooold Jaggerspun yarn from the Weaver's Place, but ran out.  Fortunately, the yarn still exists, so I ordered more.  But it's not here yet.  I did knit up Wingspan in leftover sock yarn, finished a test knit, finished the Bavarian Socks, and knit up some socks for Filius.  Nothing is on the needles now, though.  I may just work on Molly's Fault after I get the applesauce cleaned up in the kitchen. 

Homeschooling is quiet these days.  Filia has 16 credit via dual enrollment, so I assist in getting her to college and home from college, and that's about it.  Filius is plugging away at his subjects, including Statistics.  We switched from Coursera's Intro to Stats to Udacity's Stats 101, and are much pleased with the switch.  Better feedback, more introductory  (less deep end), and easier to grasp. Little by little, we'll progress through the year!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

School's Up!

School has been in session for just over a week -- Grannis Academy follows the Bethany Lutheran College calendar, whenever feasible.  Things have fallen and are falling into place.  Filia is enjoying her 16 credit load, and Filius and I are settling into a routine of sorts.  Statistics (Coursera) and Pre-Calc and Physics, oh my! 

State Fair results came out on the 23rd, and I was delighted to see that both Abigail and I won blue ribbons in our categories.  Yippee!

Knitting.  I'm working on a test knit now, so no pictures. Three and a half of the four socks I was working on in my last post are finished, and the last half should be finished in a week or so, once I clear the test knit from my deck.  I'm also plotting and planning for a Christmas vest for Filius.  Plotting and planning is fun!

Cycling!  I decided to return my sloooow bike and see what I could fine.  As divine providence had it, my 'search and learn' mission resulted in finding a used bike for half the cost of the new one I had my eye on (and which was almost in my price range).  I am the happy owner of a Specialized Crossroads of unknown age.  Everything about it is lovely -- but I do miss the comfort seat on the other bike.  My biking distances have increased greatly, and Filius has to work to keep up with me sometimes.  (I would have to work to keep up with him on the hills, but I ignore him and just toodle on up at my own pace.)

Last Monday (the 27th) I dropped Abigail off for orientation at Bethany, then Filius and I rode to my mom's house, had ice cream and pie at the Dam Store, then rode back to the car ... 16 miles.  Then on Labor Day, we took two bike paths to trek through 4 parks (including Minneopa State Park) and ended up at my mom's house again. Tonight, to facilitate getting to youth group, we're biking up to my mom's yet again.  It's 12 miles from here -- and if I'm feeling ambitious, I'll bike home.  If I'm not feeling ambitious, I'll stay there until youth group is finished and the family vehicle can give me a ride home.  I've plotted out the mileage for some of the treks around town.  The 'block' NW of town is 13.4 miles, NE of town is 17.8; SE is 9.3 miles, and SW is 16.7 miles.  Now, that's using paved roads.  Most of the distances could be cut down a bit if we took dirt roads - but I don't like biking on dirt roads.  And the SW block isn't shortenable, unless we invent our own trail and ford the river. 

Yes, I'm having too much fun on my bike.  I've even learned a new term -- Cyclepath!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Knit, School, Bike?

We're back from family camp, and I'm fairly sure I am *not* ready to dive into school next week.  The march of time does not slow for anyone (except Joshua), so next week Filia will be back to classes at college and I'll be wearing my Mom's Taxi hat while endeavouring not to waste Filius' sophmore year of high school.  I have all sorts of plans.  Scary plans.  Fun scary plans.

The State Fair opens tomorrow.  That means the State Fair will post an online list of ribbons in the knitting category tomorrow.  I think I'll go bookmark that link right now. 

My current projects are socks.  One pair is a plain vanilla sock, something that I can work on in the semi-dark of an auditorium while listening to an excellent speaker.  The other is Nancy Bush's Chalet Socks, from Folk Socks.  Those are NOT things one can work on in the semi-dark.  I've got some test knitting in the works, and will be knitting Filius a vest for Christmas.  We got him a suit recently, and he thinks a vest and a fedora would be the perfect accompaniments.  We can work on the shirt and shoes later, I suppose. 

Since Filius is also working on a fitness merit badge, I've been getting out and about with him in his cardio training.  I bike, he jogs.  We only had one adult bicycle in the house, a nice old Schwinn, and I decided I would get another so that TWO people could go for bike rides at the same time.  I got myself a Schwinn Admiral, and love the nice new shininess of it.  What I'm not so sure about is the rest of the bike.  I need a bike expert!!!  My top speed is 10 mph, and that's in the top gear on the flat with no wind.  It's depressing, entering my distance/time into SparkPeople, since there's no cycling category for that rate.  True, I'm not bent double in an aerodynamic posture ... but really!  The old bike is MUCH easier to pedal, for all that it is at least 40 years old.  Wheel size is about the same, gearing is about the same (5 old, 7 new) ... what's up?  Even if I am that out of shape, that doesn't account for the fact that I could go 6 miles on the old bike in top gear and feel it less in the legs than I do after a few blocks on a middle gear in the new one. 

I'm torn between being seriously miffed and appreciating the extra workout.  Got any advice?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


The shawl was blocked outside so the dogs didn't establish ownership of it and snag something.

Corner on Red Mad

Center on Grass

Sprig on Blue Mat

Shawl, folded. 


The plums have been abundant this year.  Some days, we got TWO tubs the size of the one in the photo.  Unfortunately, the majority of the fruit are higher than we can pick, so we get them once they've fallen.  And once they've fallen, they tend to be a bit squished.  And if they're squished, they need to be processed IMMEDIATELY or else be tossed.  We've been tossing a lot.  But I did put up 15+ sheets of fruit leather (about 16" square each), 11 quarts of plum halves, 8 jars of plum jam, 6 pints Asian Plum Sauce, 6 pints of Plum Butter, and quite a few have disappeared straight into our tummies or to neighbors.  And a plum crumble. 

I'm still hunting for a good vacation knitting project, alas. It needs to be something I can work on in a darkened auditorium and pay almost no attention to, and I have some fingering weight Brushed Suri that has been languishing in my stash.  But no project seems to blend those two things.  My "I can pay attention" project was going to be Aragorn.  I've had the pattern downloaded for several months, and the yarn was a gift from a friend.  I printed the pattern off -- all 13 pages of it -- and started reading and studying.  It's off-putting.  Who wants to knit a sock that requires assembling a mystery and working together with other people to solve clues?  ARGH!  So I stuck the pages on a shelf and grabbed Folk Socks, then cast on for the Chalet Socks.  But I'm still without a decent traveling project.  I've until tonight to find one.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

It's a Bunnyderful Wednesday

Flopsy in the Hostas - 20 feet from the beagle on his tie-out chain

Flopsy in the Oregano - 2 feet from the beagle on his tie-out chain

Filia's latest finished object

I'm sensing a bunny theme here.  This is a test knit

Weavies!  (without bunnies)
One rather sizable SCOBY, also without bunnies.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Blog post?

My to-do list is reminding me that today is my day to update you on Queen Susan.  Except she's not done anything since last week except for sit on top of my printer and collect dog hair.  Before she gets blocked, I need to get some things blocked for the State Fair.  They were supposed to get done today, but since I have been studying a box of knitting for much of the past 12 hours or so, they weren't. 

I didn't do a lot of other things today, like lunch.  Unless a popsicle counts?  I am making up for it now by nibbling on Braised Beef and Tortelloni leftovers from the Olive Garden.  Mmmm.  Good food, even chilled, on this toasty day.

Speaking of which, I hope I  will remember to put my yogurt in the fridge this evening.  And I also hope it didn't get cooked, sitting in the window.  The first time I checked the temperature, it was 127.  Oops.  The honeycomb blind does such a nice job of insulating that area.  I appreciate it in the winter too, when the temp in there gets quite low -- I think I remember seeing it in the 20's, but could be mistaken. 

What good books are you all reading?  I've been on a Henty kick lately, and really enjoyed the book in which Admiral Lord Nelson plays a role.  It moved along much better than Peterborough's campaign in Spain. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Queen Susan: The Final Leg

Most queens have two legs.  Susan, here, has four final legs ... and I am on the finallest of them.  Less than 50 points to go.  And nothing to do this evening but listen to books and knit. 

Hmm.  Knit, or write a blog post? 



Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Happy 4th!

This past week has been a curious one, beginning with my Allergic Wednesday. Has anyone ever heard of allergies that hit in full force for one day, and one day only?

Imagine this scenario: Somewhere during the first cuppa tea of the morning, one realizes that what could have been an early morning sniffle has changed into a seriously runny nose, accompanied by sneezing fits and chills. A base camp is established at Knitting Central, stocked with fluids, tissue box, and wastebasket. Wandering away from base camp is certain to trigger a sneezing fit; staying put means the kleenex box has a chance of surviving until mid-afternoon without reinforcements.  (Ignoring the physical realm and putting mind over matter, without changing the day's plans, is likely to result in a triple-digit temperature and a wretched week. Been there, done that.  Benadryl, Allegra, and Claritin are totally useless.)  When bedtime arrives, a peaceful night of sleep is practically guaranteed ... no sniffles whatsoever disturb a peaceful repose.  When morning arrives, the wastebasket is returned to its usual location, the tissue box (the second one, that is ...the first one has achieved wastebasket status) is likewise returned to garrison, and she-who-had-sneezles recuperates with a few good books and possibly an attempt at knitting before an early bedtime.  Zombies don't knit.  The following day, life is back to normal. 

For a few years, I lived life without allergies.  It was lovely.  Drink a pot of tea a day, and the allergies stayed away.  Last year, they decided that tea wasn't sufficient to keep things under control.  It was nice while it lasted!  I read last week that there is a substance in green and black tea, quercetin, that is used for allergy treatment in alternative medicine.  And my favorite enzyme, bromelain (in pineapple) works to boost quercetin's effects.

I transferred photos from my camera to the computer, and discovered some photos from May lurking in the folder.  First, we have my Very Own Homegrown Scoby.  Isn't it cute? 

Then we have an attempt to photograph the Queen Susan, from yesterday afternoon. 
The focus wasn't so great, so I tried another one.  Except that one had a Spot in it. 

Again, Spot. 
And more Spot. 

And then I gave up. 

And now, a photo of my Hap Shawl.This shawl was finished a few years back, but the border didn't have enough stitches in it and so it lived in a corner of the craft room for a year or so until I decided I would frog the entire border, pick up more stitches, and reknit it.  I did this past Christmas (and most of January.  Borders have lots of stitches. especially when one picks up around 400 more stitches than the previous border contained.  What you see here is a pre-border-blocking photo.  The center had been blocked before, but the rest is (cough) fresh off the needles. 
What you do not see are the four holes caused by groups of severed threads.  I discovered them while pinning the critter out.  Alack and alas, they were annoying to mend, and I did a botchy job on some of them.  But they are fixed, the shawl is blocked, and it may see some use this fall!  I used it last Wednesday, when the temperature was at least 80 degrees inside, to try and warm up. 

Queen Susan update - yesterday saw the completion of 21 points, and I rounded the second corner.  A bit less than two sides left.  And it drapes soooo nicely over my lap when I work on it.  We're definitely on the home stretch now.  And I do NOT want to find severed threads in it when I block it.  Dropped stitches are preferable, but I'd rather not find those either. 

So far as reading goes ... Scaramouche has been finished, and I'm now listening to a Henty novel.  They're a very nice standby for light listening.  While recovering from the sneezles, I read a lot of Tamora Pierce.  And Finding Atticus. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Alas, another glorious blog post is not going to be written.  Two days ago I came in from cherry picking with two sets of puncture marks right next to my right eye.  The whole area feels vaguely scratch/puffy/annoying still.  And a kleenex box and wastebasket are my best friends today.  Brilliant thinking will have to wait until the gunk in my head is slightly better at conducting thoughts. 

I do know, however, that I have turned the first corner of the shawl's edging.  Three more sides to go.  And Scaramouche is next up on my listening list. 

Now I shall go curl up and feel wretched.  Once I feel wretched AND idle, I will probably knit.  At the present, I think wretched will keep me sufficiently occupied, though.  And maybe a real book.  Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican, or Jerusalem? 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A wimpy update

I had plans of writing a glorious update, with photos and bells and whistles. 

But you know, it's almost 7 PM, I haven't had supper yet, the lunch dishes are collecting microbes, and I haven't touched my knitting yet.  So I'm going to shuffle a Beautiful Update to next week on my to-do list, and get the important things done. 

One important thing is knit the 12th repeat of the edging pattern.  And hopefully quite a few more!  I've got 11 done ... 229 to go.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


For many years, I had seasonal allergies.  To be honest, I'm not sure which season they were for, but they weren't connected to any one thing and thus they acquired the name 'seasonal'. During our first years of living in Minnesota, the seasonal spring allergies became so bad that I regularly lost my voice around Easter.  I was just about ready to head in to the doctor if they did it One More Year (because who likes to have no voice for the Easter Hymns several years running?) when Filia had a hospital stay in mid-March and voila - my allergies didn't happen that year.  They did next year, and I made the trek to the doctor, and took Singulair and Advair and kept my voice, but still supported the tissue paper companies. 

I don't like taking medicines on a long-term basis, though, and so never refilled the Rx.  Instead, I drank diluted apple cider vinegar with cayenne pepper and honey, or pushed oodles of fluids, or avoided being outside during the high-pollen hours, or just lived with it.  And somewhere along the line I began drinking lots of tea.  Then somewhere further down the line, I realized that I hadn't had any allergy symptoms all one spring.  Or the next one.  Or the next one.  Until I went on vacation and missed my daily pot of tea for one too many days. 

All of which is curious anecdotal evidence about the multifactorial pain in the nasal cavaties which are my allergies. 

But now - despite drinking tea, and fun beverages which Vir affirms taste like dog pee, my allergies are back.  They're not seasonal, but monthly.  And they come with chills.  Really?  Chills in June, when it's 80 degrees out?  Yes, chills.  (My allergies have come with chills since at least college.  I have no idea why.)  I've learned that if I do NOT bundle up and lay low, but carry on with life, my chills will turn into a fever.  So I bundle up and lay low, and the symptoms pass in a day or two.  So far.  Fortunately, laying low involves knitting and reading - and if needful, naps.  I can spend DAYS in those activities.  The first two will keep me delightfully and productively occupied if I am 'well', and the naps will fill in the blanks if exhaustion hits. 

Anyone ever hear of monthly allergies before? 

And why does Vir know what dog pee tastes like? 

Queen Susan Disclosure:  Slow progress, but still moving ahead.  I'm in round 150 of .... 164.  Getting closer! (closer to only 23% left that is, not finishing the thing.) 

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Another pictureless update

This week sees The Queen Susan at 141 rounds completed.  I'm on the last set of charts for EVERYTHING (except the edging, which I haven't even printed out yet) and am happy with my progress.  The surgeon was happy with the progress Abigail's incision made, too, and she can now be up and about for reasonable chunks of time.  That means my self-imposed home-bound status is coming to an end. Alas, I will miss it. 

In our pitiful non-attempt at a garden, the asparagus is being attacked by invisible asparagus beetles.  The beetles leave eggs behind, but I've only seen one actual bug.  I continue to pick asparagus on an almost daily basis.  Our dog shows more enthusiasm for his portion than he does for his morning meal, and if we don't offer him the ends, he mopes.  Poor thing.  I planted 3 kinds of squash (red, hubbard, and patty pan) and at least one of everything is up.  Two years ago, the red pumpkin (Rouge d'Vin Etamps, I believe) was kind of a pasty flesh tone.  I wonder what color it will be this year.

In book-reading, I've finished Redgauntlet and added several more books to my queue.  One of my Kindle Collections is 'Unread Books'.  Redgauntlet, by Sir Walter Scott, looked like it was doomed to sit in the Unread pile forever, because the first half-hour of the book was BOOOOORING.  After reading some reviews of it, however, and how it was wonderful and exciting and possibly his best work, I decided that perhaps I should just slog away.  It got much better.  I haven't picked a next fiction book yet.

I am completely ignoring school-planning for next year.  It's much more fun to tinker with fermentables in the kitchen.  A friend is bringing over some tibicos grains today.  I had no clue there were so many different ways to use them!  Unfortunately, many of the ways are contradictory.  We shall see what happens.

Thought of the day:  The holiness of God, or holy, or sanctification, or any word in that family, is not mentioned in the Bible between the 7th day of creation (Genesis 2:3) and Moses (Exodus 3:5).  That's quite a gap!  It seems like the topic should have come up with Abraham.  Or Isaac.  Or Jacob.  If it did, it didn't make it into the Biblical record.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A new ball of yarn!!!!

The rows go marching on.  Shortly after last week's post, I finished off the first hank of Phoenix and got to start my second one.  As you may well imagine, I'm *still* on the second hank.  I expect to still be on the second hank when I finish the shawl.  But finishing is getting closer with every stitch! 

This week sees me at round 129.  After round 130, I will tape together the final three sheets of chart and have just 34 rounds left of the border.  Thirty-four rounds.  That's only 40 hours of knitting or so!  And then will come the final bit -- the edging. 

You may think that the edging, while boring, will fly past.  The rows are, after all, significantly shorter than the border rounds.  And that is quite true.  The stitch count for the edging, is 23% of the total.  That's a not-insignificant number of stitches. 

Still, I can say 'just one more row' and have it be a reasonable thing to say.  I can take a break 'at the end of this repeat' and have it be an achievable goal.  Knitting in blocks of an hour or more is not always reasonable.  Or desirable (especially if one has drunk a lot of tea recently.) 

In other, non-knitting life (of which there is a lot going on), I made mustard today, am half-way through my retooling of Kombucha Scobys, have no pile of work on my desk, am caught up on laundry, have been reading good books, and have a reasonably tidy house.  It's wonderful being home.

So - what good movies are absolute 'must sees' for a family with two teens, one of whom cannot stand violence in movies?  Our upcoming list includes The King and I, Peter Pan, The Sword and the Stone, and  Brigadoon. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Knitting? What knitting?

Row 118.  That's as far as I got in a whole week at home.  How in the world did that happen?  It's not like I'm spending my time caring for a fretful invalid, or constantly whipping up new creations to tempt her appetite.

I'm just not sitting and knitting. Much.  I did make a toddler hat yesterday.  And if I can get off the computer, and not dive into making Pickled Eggs or something else delightfully chock-full of probiotics, perhaps I will get more lace knit.  Except I really should wind off some sock yarn so I can knit during movies and the like.  We are watching more Mythbusters and classic movies lately.  It helps the time in bed pass a bit faster.  So does popping bubble wrap. 

The week has been pretty quiet.  Apart from the positioning restrictions (do not sit), it's as if the surgery didn't happen.  That makes for a nice recovery.  No pain, no antibiotics, no cast, no PT, almost ' no nothing'.  I'm all caught up with knitting submissions, patterns, test knitting, and laundry.  I really should go knit and listen to the wind roaring by outside.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A blog update after all!

We are back from the hospital (barely), I have triaged my e-mail (and deleted 99.5% of it), and everything is unpacked.  Now it's time to start in on the house, which my teenaged son did a lovely job of keeping in functioning order.  Especially if I don't count the 12 empty soda cans left on my desk.  That's at LEAST half of his yearly soda consumption. 

Queen Susan.  I really thought I would get to start the second ball while at the hospital, but I didn't.  I am on round 115 now - solid progress, certainly, although I thought I'd get more done. I usually think I'll get more done than I actually do on single projects, and think that multiple projects will take forever although I often can wipe out a back-breaking to-do list in 1-2 days. 

I think my next post will have Actual Photos of The Queen Susan.  I took some while at the hospital, but they're still on the camera.  Tune in at this time next week!

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

More New Charts!

Actual progress happened on the Queen Susan this week, despite also starting and finishing at hat.  I am now on round One Hundred of the border -- which qualifies me to begin the last two pages (of six) for each of the corners. I've only 30 rows left until I get to the last section of border charts.  Oooh, progress!

A chart explanation:  The center and the edging of the Queen Susan are nice, simple, and easily charted on one page.  The border is less simple.  The 160-odd (or even) rows of border have no vertical repeats and a 60-st multiple across the center 'straight' section, and no multiples in the mitered corners.  Rather than squeeze everything onto one page, the thoughtful charters wanted people to actually SEE the charts - so the 'straightaway' of the border is charted three pages wide and four pages tall, and each half of the mitred corner is charted two pages wide and three pages tall.  For any given round, therefore, the knitter is working from 7 pages of charts.  Just 5 in the early stages, really, since the corner section is pretty narrow at the beginning and doesn't take up two pages in width.  There are 24 pages of charts in all, and I am finished with 14 of them, using 7 currently, and have but 3 'fresh' ones to achieve. 

It's lovely. 

Filia is finished with 11 more credits of college classes, and did beautifully (especially once the teacher corrected a computer glitch which was wreaking serious havoc with her class grade).  Filii laptop screen died, and he is looking forward to the arrival of a new computer that will allow him to play Skyrim -- when he's not being the Model Child as a thank-you for our contribution to that new computer, that is.  My Kombucha is misbehaving, so I am culturing a Master Race of Bacteria.  At least, that's what the trouble-shooting website says I am now doing.  In reality, I'm leaving some jars of vinegary stuff on top of the fridge for 6 weeks.  And we're prepping for a hospital stay next week.  KNITTING TIME!  (And, quite likely, no blog update.  Sorry.)

Merry May, everyone!  What are you reading, knitting, and doing these days?

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

New Charts!

Despite finishing round 80 as projected last Wednesday, and feeling like I've knit more on it this week than usual of late, I am in the middle of round 86.  Knitting submissions and miscellaneous computer stuff are keeping me busier than I think, apparently.  And the editing season is about to begin.  I will persevere.  (Remember, my goal for this year is To Be Determined.)

Coursera's CS101 is going well.  Filius didn't wait until Monday to do this week's lessons.  He finished them up on Sunday afternoon, and watches over my shoulder with Helpful Comments while I work on my lessons throughout the week.  My inner computer scientist is rearing its head and I am wondering how, precisely, I can manage to acquire the skills I need to build and operate the perfect database. 

Thousands of other things are happening, but I should be doing rather than blogging.  Tata!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Nothing to see here ...

Queen Susan crept along to round 80.  After I finish this round (tonight), I will be halfway through the charts for the center of the border ... 6 pages done, 6 pages to go!

The end of the school year is speeding up.  Filia finished one of her classes on Monday, which surprised me greatly since finals aren't until the week of May 7th.  Has college gotten easier in the last century?  Filius has his End of the School Year Plan, and is doing his best to wipe out one subject per day.  For his history class, he took the tests for the last 1/5th of the course without reading the accompanying workbooks, and passed with flying colors.  He knows his WWII history and geography, thank you very much. I've assigned him a research paper to work on over the summer.  Actually, I was going to assign him one -but he came across an assignment in one workbook and asked if he could do a Really Good Job on it - and since I was going to ask him to do that very thing anyways (without having seen the workbook assignment), this works out nicely.  (Hmm, Carolyn -- use parenthetical expressions and dashes much?)

The website came up on my favorite homeschooling list, and my inner "Must Learn Everything" immediately popped out and said that Filius absolutely must take some classes there.  Recognizing the discrepancy between ME wanting to learn everything and HIM having to take classes, I asked if he would be interested.  No.  Drat.  After consulting my inner student and deciding that, despite having more than enough to do (while not working on Queen Susan), I wanted to take the class myself anyways, and indeed WOULD take the class, the question became "Does he have to take it too?'  I decided the answer was yes.  We are now happily enrolled in Computer Science 101.  Free!  Once Filius realized it was not like Scholars Online, and he didn't have to talk to people in the class, he was a happy clam. Until he realized that only the first week of lectures were up.  He is anxious for next Monday to come now.

The knitting evaluations are thick on the ground around here.  Literally.  There are two boxes at my feet, and two more to come before next week.  I ran out of white paper :( but will get more tomorrow so I can start sending the boxes back to their owners.  Asparagus is thick on the ground too, as are dill plants.  If anyone wants dill, come take a shovelful!

Today's plan is to make sympathetic noises about having to write a summary of The Importance of Being Earnest (no, not a fifty word summary.  Three hundred word minimum, please), work on a knitting evaluation until the house empties, then study chapter 2 of Revelation for my Precept class, and then KNIT.  Supper will fit in there somewhere (probably an asparagus/mushroom omelette), and probably an audiobook or two. 

Blogger has rearranged their interface.  Silly changes.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Yet another not-much-progress update

Queen Susan is now on round 73. That means I only managed about 10,000 stitches this week, or somewhere between 6-8 hours of knitting. Poky, poky, poky.

But, I did manage to move forwards. The stack of 'work before play' is much smaller, and I hope to see some real and actual progress this week. Of course, this is also the week to be cultured, and being cultured takes away from knitting time. (We will be cultured at a figure skating show and The Tempest.)

Snippets of my week:
  • A new water heater!
  • A new hole in the bathroom wall (best way to get the basement door unlocked)
  • Green Tea Kombucha is yummy.
  • Asparagus is leaping out of the ground. Anyone local want a half-pound or two?
  • One very short knitting eval and one very long one were completed
  • Taxes are done, paid, and FINISHED.
  • I downloaded 9 free books for my Kindle ... homeschooling catalogs with fun literature selections can be dangerous.

And with that, I think I should go knit. And watch a statistics lecture.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Creeping Susan

This week finds me looking at Round 67. My pace may have picked up since last week - but not by much. It's been a busy week at Lake Moobegone.

  • Asparagus can get nipped by frost, just like Bleeding Heart. Mushy Asparagus, straight from the garden ... anyone?
  • One knitting article was sent off, complete with patterns, photos, and more mittens to photo, comfortably ahead of a deadline
  • Test knitting is chugging along nicely. I've figured out how I can best manage 3 strands of yarn, but still wonder why people felt a need to improve on Fair Isle's two.
  • The enrollment of my Precept study on Revelation, Part I, exploded. We're now at 8!
  • Easter was a whirl of kitchen prep, two services with and Easter breakfast sandwiched in between, and a wonderful afternoon at my mom's.
  • Our hot water heater decided that 180+ was a much better temperature than 120.
  • I learned how to reset a water heater so we can avoid cold showers and baths before the repairman comes. One reset a day is keeping us supplied with lukewarm to WAY TOO HOT water. (When the water heater is misbehaving, look for steam clouds before even thinking of sticking a finger in to check the temperature)
  • I made ginger Kombucha. Mmmm.
  • I've reviewed 3 knitting submissions this past week, with one new arrival on the docket for this afternoon and tomorrow
  • I read Tamora Pierce's Mastiff in one sitting, but managed not to read the two earlier books in the series in the same sitting. I still like Keladry better.

The week held other things, but that's the bulk of them. Filia is back in school now after Easter break, Filius continues to work independently, and I am looking forward to a quiet evening so I can sit back and retrench. Not that I really need re-trenching, but after the past week, I want to take a deep breath and make sure I'm not missing something.

If anyone has some spare Spring, my asparagus wouldn't mind borrowing it.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Queen Susan - Creeping Along

Queen Susan had an interesting week. First, she got worked on in a small window of opportunity between 'mittens finished' and 'awaiting pattern clarification' on another project. This resulted in about 3 rounds getting done. Ooooh, 3 whole rounds!

Then the dog curled up next to her and used her for a pillow. 30 stitches were safely picked back up onto the needles.

Then a cup of tea got spilled in her immediate vicinity, and she caught some splash. Fortunately, it was late in the day and at least 4 pots of tea had been brewed from the tablespoon of leaves, so the tea was very light in color. I used a towel to absorb the possible 1/2t that landed on her, and will see if that was a bad idea when I wash and block her.

Queen Susan saw a tire repair shop, a dentist's office, and choir practice this week. She's becoming quite well-travelled.

In other news
  • My 3rd and 4th batches of Kombucha are still brewing. Tomorrow is tasting day
  • I ordered a 2.5 gallon crock for MORE Kombucha brewing. The natives are restless on their short rations and look forward to a less limited supply.
  • The entire first batch of sauerkraut disappeared (into tummies) and a second batch will be ready tomorrow.
  • We picked a dozen spears of asparagus yesterday and will pick at least that much today.
  • No one rear-ended us this week.
  • Tomorrow should be shoe-shopping for Filia.
  • I really have no excuse not to start some sourdough starter. I have rye berries, I have water, I have a 2 qt ceramic pot...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Queen Susan Update

There will be no Queen Susan photo this week. The flowers are so much more photogenic, for one, and for another, not much has happened on her. I am now on Round 59 of the border - about 8 rounds done in one week. Pitiful, unless you consider that represents about 9 hours of knitting AND I've knit 4 Basic Mittens and have just the top decreases and thumb left on my proto-Advanced Mitten (due next month) . I also received two full bags of yarn for a sweater I'll be test-knitting (due in May) , and also some Master Knitter work to evaluate (due today, and more due Monday).

Queen Susan will probably be taking a nice vacation in my knitting stand. She'll get done, never fear. I figure two solid weeks of knitting will take care of the aforementioned projects, and then I can dive back into Round 59. Trust me, it's marked in highlighter tape. I won't forget where I am. Or where it is.

Other updates:
  • By the end of the day, my 3rd and 4th batches of Kombucha will be happily fermenting. It's yummy stuff!
  • There are 15 spears of asparagus growing in my garden. And it's March.
  • My husband mowed the yard yesterday.
  • My daughter and I (me driving) were rear-ended yesterday, too.
  • Homemade sauerkraut (with carrots, so it's not real sauerkraut, which is slimy and icky and totally awful ... or at least, it was that way the last time I tried it four decades ago) is for lunch
  • Filia has a new carbon fiber AFO. Once the other arrives, let the shoe-shopping begin!

For an understanding of the latter, you can go to this orthotics site and look at the Plastic Solid Ankle AFO, then the leftmost Prefabricated Carbon Fiber AFO. Consider which would be easier to get into a shoe. And which would work with anything other than sneakers. Then imagine you're a teen girl who has been wearing sneakers for the past 15 years.

Back to the knitting submission...

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Spring is Springing

A good picture

Our Manchurian Bush Apricots (which, when we bought them, were supposed to mature to a height of 4-6 ft) are among the earliest bloomers in the spring. After the Grecian Windflowers, before the daffodils, and a week or so before the plums, we can count on at least a few minutes of gorgeous white flowers.

If it's a typical Minnesota spring, a few minutes later the gentle 40-mph breeze will denude the bushes of their petals while attempting to make a mock blizzard. There are a LOT of petals on our two bushes. While the breeze was absent, I decided to get a picture while the petals were still on the trees.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

More Queen Susan

I am definitely out of my Queen Susan groove, so was surprised to see I've managed a whole 14 rows this week. Little odds and ends do add up, I suppose! And I'm beginning to think of this as travelling knitting. Scary, that.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The First Day of Spring!

On the last day of March in the Snowy Year of Our Lord, 2011, I took a photo of mountain of snow generated by our neigbor's driveway clearing. We wondered if it would melt by Easter, or by June, or perhaps even ever.

This year is an entirely different kettle of fish. It appears I have a parsley plant, perhaps two, in the garden which survived over the winter. My oregano is showing new growth, as is the sage. The thyme isn't doing anything yet, nor is the rosemary -- but they are slower growers. I planted Swiss Chard in the garden and have some hopes of seeing wee little sprouts in a week or so. And on Sunday - which happened to be March 18th, 2012, I took some photographs.For our first exhibit, we have the absence of a mountain of snow.

Then we have the lovely willow tree, quite eager to begin leafing out.

And then we have tulips and, to the best of my knowledge, Grecian Windflowers. The latter have been volunteers in our yard over the past 16 years and have always been the first flowers of spring. (Or the last flowers of winter, if you go by their appearance this year) The sedum is up, the mint is plotting its assault upon the yard, and I've got some clippings from the plum tree in the window with the hopes that they will bloom later this week.

Whatever does the summer hold for us?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

More Queen Susan ... with WORDS!

I fear that progress is about to come to a screeching halt. Who in their right mind volunteers to write an article and three mitten patterns, plus design and knit up two pairs of mittens, while working on a shawl of this gorgeousness? Yes, me.

And then who accepts a test-knitting job at the same time? Yes, me.

So, progress will likely slow down pretty seriously for a while. It was slowing down anyways ... switching from the center (where a good day was 20 rows), to the border (where a good day was 4 rounds) was a serious mental shift. I made it, however, and am enjoying the border very much -- switching from the 15-st repeat at the beginning to the 60-st repeat which will continue to the end actually made things seem to go faster. I could just sit and knit on this thing all day. But other work will be calling, once some yarn arrives.

I have surprised myself by deciding to purl all the even rounds, rather than fiddle around with techniques for garter-in-the-round-while-avoiding-purls. My purls rounds are wee bit looser than my knits, and the purl verision of a sk2p is not exactly thrilling, but I'm not finding the rounds frustrating. I just do them. And listen to my audiobooks.

Juggling 7 page of charts is a lot easier than I thought it would be. It's also comforting to realize that, out of the 24 pages of charts for the border, I finished the first 7 on Sunday and am on to the next 7!

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What? Quilts????

Warning: This Blog Post Does Not Contain Any Knitting Content.

The second Saturday of each month finds me at church with a few other ladies, running a sewing machine or rotary cutter. We make quilts to donate to a women's shelter in town. Quilts go together a LOT faster than some other things I could mention (but won't, since I've already warned you that such things won't be mentioned in this blog post). I think quilts look gorgeous in person, and even more gorgeous in photographs. During Filia's spring break, I hope to get the almost-completed one tied.

Our next quilt is based on a Charm Quilt pattern, but we're doing it in a simple scrap method. Each woman (or girl) picks out some fabrics from the stash, cuts enough squares to make one 16-patch, and then the sewing machine fairy sews them together. (Well, there's some chopping into triangles, arranging, and ironing in there as well) Lookie what got sewn together yesterday!

Queen Susan, Week 3

Wednesday, February 15, 2012