Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Queen Susan Wednesday #2

Start time: 1:25

End time: 2:00

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bread Bowls, Soot, and Obligatory Knitting Content

For Christmas, I received a Bread Bowl.
To season it, I followed the directions which came with it. Coat thickly with olive oil or other food grade oil, let stand 3-4 hours, wash, dry, and enjoy your seasoned bowl. (That's a loose paraphrase, by the way.) Except the next day, the wood looked a bit dry. So I coated it again, and again, and again ... and two cups of olive oil later, it still looks a bit dry to me.

Then I had to figure out how to use it. I looked online, and saw that at least one person made her bread in it from start to almost-finish. She mixes up the dough for 3 loaves in there, kneads it, lets it rise ... and bakes it elsewhere. I gave it a shot, mixing up one loaf's worth of dough and making a mess all over the counter. The bowl isn't that deep. And kneading in it was tough - I banged my wrists on the narrow sides and got bruises on my legs from the bowl spinning on the table when I tried to rotate the dough. Hmmm. I must be missing something. It's a gorgeous bowl and I want to use it ... any ideas how one can safely use it? I've got the bit about putting the dough in, letting it rise, and then shaping it and doing a final rise elsewhere. I can't do a final rise in the bowl since the dough sticks (despite generous flouring of the bowl, or additional oiling of the bowl).

On another topic ... here are my gorgeous pink gloves AFTER being scrubbed with soap and water. Soot is a pernicious, dirty thing. My fingers are still soot-streaked, a day after cleaning our stove WITH the gloves on. This does not bode well for Queen Susan. I'll have to schedule my cleaning for days that I don't have much knitting time. (I did discover that a baking soda scrub, followed by dish soap, can work wonders for getting soot out/off of things. It's not perfect, but it's better than anything else I've tried)

Speaking of knitting time, I've been hard-pressed to come up with 'traveling knitting' projects to work on lately. I fell back on hats. Two watch caps, Jali, and now a Fish Hat, to be precise.

Today's a home day. I need to brave the elements and walk over to the post office to mail some packages, but apart from that - hot soup, a cuppa tea, and some sewing are on the agenda before I sit back to knit.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Saturday, January 14, 2012

I love Fridays!

Fridays this semester will be FUN!

Yesterday I finished my shawl (for the second time - the first time was in 2010).
I knit a swatch with the double-knitting technique to test a pattern.

And I got a good start on lengthening Filius's Christmas gansey.

All in ONE sitting. With no snacking. Or distractions. Or anything else of that ilk -- although the head of campus security did stop by to see if there were any spots on campus that Filia could think of which could be tweaked for better accessibility. (They're working on next year's plans, and he wanted her input. The college gets top marks for wanting to be accessible! There was one minor question we had, about getting in a locked-but-oh-so-convenient external door - and within 10 minutes, she had the right hardware to open it.)

Yes, Fridays are the day that I drive Filia to college and then wait until her classes are done to drive her home. I can do shopping in town then, but a minor surgery done just before class made me want to stick around 'just in case' since the last minor surgery of that sort had a wee complication before the day was over. No complications this time, which meant more knitting.

I'm also listening to Little Dorrit on my Kindle, and some Psalms on my iPod - but not at the same time. I just LOVE blank space in my day that cannot be gobbled up by stray dust bunnies, search engines, or random weeds.

How about you? If you had to sit somewhere comfortable for 5 hours or so once a week, what would you do? Go beserk? Bring jogging gear and shun the chair? Nap?

Friday, January 06, 2012

Odds and Ends

Today is the last day of vacation. Filia starts an 11-credit load at Bethany Lutheran University on Monday, and Filius and I will dive back into his books. That makes today a perfect day to continue tidying, straightening, decluttering, and preparing for a new year.
One thing that needed doing was the Emptying of The Yarn Labels Bag. Over the course of 2011, I tried to keep all the yarn labels from my various projects. The final count is 77 labels. They will now go live in the recycling bin until Thursday, at which point they will join the ranks of post-consumer content. Maybe in some yarn?

One of my lesser-favorite things to do around the house is to clean the corn stove. I should probably call it a pellet stove, since we're burning wood pellets this year instead of corn ... but old names die hard. Wood generates a lot more soot than corn. Corn generates more ash than wood, at least on the (in)sides of the stove. Corn produces a 'clinker' - a nice solid chunk of spent fuel that can be pryed out of the firebox and popped into an ash can. Wood produces a bunch of ash which has to be scooped out. Both make my hands very dirty during the weekly deep cleaning. And since I have some heirloom-quality LIGHT colored knitting to do this year, I splurged and got myself a pair of gloves. Here, they are pictured in their original, clean state. They will never look like this again.

Any of my stove-owning friends know how to get soot off of hands and cloth? How about glass? (Ammonia, water, sudsy ammonia, elbow grease, magic eraser aren't working around the edges.) And is there any good way to clean the inside of a stove without producing airborne particles that make me think about wearing a face mask while cleaning?

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

2012 Knitting Goals ... but not really

2012 will not be the year of the sock. It will not be the year of 12 shawls, or 12 sweaters, or even 12 pairs of mittens. (Those of you who know me a bit will not be surprised if I knit that many pairs of mittens without aiming to, however. And I did misplace my favorite pair of mittens in mid-December, so I probably should knit myself another nice toasty pair. Despite our current lack of real wintry weather.)

I thought about making it be the year of the Baby Items. Or another stash-busting year. But I’ll work from my stash anyways – yarn acquisition is not something I have a problem with. The only influxes come via either destashing friends or my own leftovers. So why make a goal of it? And Baby Items are generally too tiny to really make a nice goal. Now, 52 baby items might be a nice target … but I don’t know 52 babies, and have other things to knit, so that’s not going to make it on my list. I reserve the right to add it should a grandchild visit my future.

Which leaves me with no glorious knitting goals.

However, at the end of 2012, I hope to have a completed Queen Susan Shawl. Out of Phoenix yarn, in silver. Unless someone talks me into Pixie Dust – a gorgeous color, but not quite the thing I envision for my bespectacled self.

I think a Queen Susan in one year is a respectable goal. Not glorious – one shawl in a year? Good grief – but respectable.


I have some 120/2 silk which I’d love to use in a project, but nothing has called my name quite yet. I don’t have a shawl’s worth of any one color, and there’s nothing worse than knitting up 1200 yards of thread and finding out you don’t have enough.

I could make the completion of Molly’s Fault a goal, but it’s gotten used to it’s perpetual position on the back burner. I did get another 15-21 squares done over Christmas (the period, not the day), so it is growing.

I didn’t get any spinning done in 2011.

If I finish the Queen Susan by late July, which shawl do I enter in the state fair? It, or Unst? Unst needs to be under a Christmas tree come December. Could be a tough call. Do you think I could get away with calling 20/2 merino wool ‘medium-weight’? That would put it in another category …

Monday, January 02, 2012

Twenty Twelve

Wait a second ... weren't we just talking about whether it was "Two thousand and one" or "two thousand one"? Where did the past decade and a bit go?

But that's beside the point. More to the point, this is my blog and I've not been here all that much. Why? Oodles of good reasons.
  1. I'm trying to scale back the time I sit in front of a computer screen.
  2. My right hands gets ice cold when I type or use the mouse more than a few minutes.
  3. Blathering on about items of next-to-no value is a thing to avoid.
  4. I'm trying to spend more time knitting doing things of lasting value.
  5. Two mornings a week I've been sitting in a college library rather than at my computer.
  6. I haven't been up to anything bloggable?

Fact is, I'm also not schooling two all that much lately. My eldest, a high school junior, began taking classes at Bethany Lutheran College this fall and did a wonderful job with a 4-credit load (plus Math, Chemistry, Fine Arts, and English at home). This semester she's taking 11 credits, and I think that's enough to call a full load. If one semester of a college class equals one year of a high school class, then taking 6 college classes in one year should equal a full year of high school, no? Especially if we tuck in a second year of Fine Arts (finishing Master Hand Knitting Level 2), a year of Chemistry, and a summer spent brushing up on math skills. Plus a semester of English!

Point six above isn't exactly true. I have been up to all sorts of things, but nothing has demanded it be made into a blog post. I DO like to have things all nice and tidy, though. Since I didn't make my end-of-the-year wrap-up post, it's time for a post-mortem of 2011 here.

Let's look at the goals from my side bar. Test Knit - I did that four months of the year, taking most of the opportunities that came my way. I may be looking for more test knitting this year, but maybe not. There is The Queen Susan calling my name! Knit One Stash Project Per Month - yup, did that. A bit skimpy in some months, a bit overkill in others. Knit In Cycles - sorta. Nothing particularly called my name. I still like the idea.

Ravlery tells me I started and finished 58 projects in 2011. Perhaps even 60, since sometimes I don't start a new project if I'm making multiples of the same things. And right now, I'm finishing a project I started in 2010 -- the hap shawl I was never quite 'hap'py with. I frogged the entire edging and border and am working them over with a LOT more stitches.

My desk is tidy. There's fresh bread in the kitchen. I'm staying healthy (my joints aren't always happy with me, but all my knitting joints work so I'm okay with that.)

And there's a puzzle on the kitchen table that I really should put a few pieces into before I sit down and knit some more. Maybe I'll even finish Hannah Coulter!

Next up - plotting and planning for 2012!

How did your 2011 go? And what direction will you be going (or at least planning to go) in 2012?