Friday, December 22, 2017

2017 Wrap-Up

I've been noticeably absent from the blog of late, primarily because when one has things to DO, one does not necessarily take the time to write about doing them.  Keeping a good to-do list has been essential, and I find that the back of a Page-a-Day calendar is the ideal tool for the job.  Unless the projects span multiple days, in which case, something a little less prone to disorganization is better.  And so, I began a foray into the world of Bullet Journals.  I like my little journal quite well.  It serves as an anchor for all my ducks on a back burner. 

The beginning of 2017 saw me add Data Administrator to the list of hats I wear around here.  It's been a wonderful hat, and I've learned a lot about Data Administrating -- so much so that I was offered another hat by a company they work with, this time as a Systems Administrator.  I had to stop and think whether I had time to wear yet another hat.  My head gave me one answer, my heart gave me another, and after a week of waffling I knew the only way to convince myself that I did *not* have time for another job was to try it for a month. 

That was around September.  I still have margin around the corners of my life most days (otherwise you wouldn't be reading this blog post) and have decided that to keep myself out of trouble, I am going to knit a counterpane (or coverlet, if you prefer).  After a good bit of swatching - for, when a project calls for around 1000 hours of labor, it's a good idea to pick the right pattern/yarn combo - I settled on using carpet warp and the Corinthian Squares pattern, and a proposed completion date of Christmas 2022.  That's 200 hours a year, or 5 hours a week.  I am next to positive I'll finish in just 2-3 years, but time will tell.  The 5-year plan pleases my Russian-speaking brain, and won't interfere with test knitting, gifts, and life in general. 

Merry Christmas, all!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Monday, September 04, 2017

Fair Photos and a quick update

On what looks to have been the day with the 2nd largest attendance in history, we went to the Minnesota State Fair.  Dear Husband says that once was enough people to last him a lifetime, and he doesn't plan to ever go back.  I will admit it was a bit crowded, and there were so many people I didn't stop to take the time for good photos.  However, I did take some, and handful came out with little enough blur that they are suitable for sharing.

The Third Places - a sampling

My gloves

Some items which didn't place

More items which didn't place

And more

Very blurry fourth-place items, including my blurry mittens

More items which didn't place.  Pretty!

Sanquhar Gloves in a different display case
This summer has seen some progress on the downstairs.  The trim was added in late spring, and once that was in I began contemplating and pricing window treatments.  The short version is I saved ALL sorts of money by making my own Roman shades. I'm quite pleased with them.  After two years, we have covers on the downstairs windows again!

Next up for home improvements is painting an upstairs bedroom, after a bit of spackling and sanding.  Home improvements have also included sealing a gap in the hopper of the pellet stove, replacing a defunct heating element in the dryer, and finally getting the thermostat properly mounted on the new drywall downstairs.  (New = Feb 2016)

We have some completed knitting, too!
A hat, blocking

Mittens, artsy-like
 There is a haul from the garden
Parsley, tomato conserve in the making, tomatoes, chocolate bell pepper, ground cherries, white summer squash, Alma Paprika peppers, Boothby's Blonde cukes, and Haralson apples. 

To top off all this loveliness, I am now a Certified Technical Editor! 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

July update

Computers are so unpredictable.  Did I need to log out of my e-mails to write this blog post?  No!  Maybe I only need to do that when the months are not evenly divisible by 7.

Summer is in full swing.  The garden is flourishing and requiring daily vine checks, during which I make sure the butternut squash does not devour the sour gherkin cucumbers, and the pickling cucumbers stay closer to the trellis than to their protective enclosure of chicken wire.  It's REALLY hard to move chicken-wire panels for weeding and harvesting when the cucumbers are growing on them.  We've harvested all 4 kohlrabi that I planted (yum!) and have swiss chard and kale galore.  And calendula.  The calendula in the garden is doing beautifully, and got a serious trimming last week because it had taken over not the 2 squares of the garden I had allotted it, but 12 squares, 10 of which were occupied by peppers.  Tsk!  I'm having fun drying calendula petals this year, and am using fresh ones as a colorful garnish to soups, salads, and whatever else I think of.

But why did it have to be the calendula in the veggie garden that abounded in size and flowers?  Why not the calendula in the other three places I have it in the yard?  Could it be ..... the chipmunks?

My new mint patch is flourishing, and has peppermint (either plain or chocolate; I bought two plants years ago and they looked, smelled, and tasted identical), spearmint, and pineapple mint.  And oregano, just because.  I expect it to take over the area that it's in, and overgrow it, and take on the world.  I'm fine with that, since dh can mow one edge of the minty triangle, and I can chop it off when it grows over the curb or onto our steps.  We've been enjoying mint lemonade.

Knitting has been rather quiet lately, but is picking up.  Mittens are on the needles, and more mittens will be on the needles shortly, and who knows what else!

Sitting at the computer and poking at the keyboard has NOT been quiet.  Between this, that, and the other thing, I have been spending days and days without knitting.  Classical Writing is working on polishing a book for general release, and TKGA always has records that need to be organized.  TKGA also offered a new certification last month, that of Technical Editor.  I pounced on that as soon as I could, and am working my way through the class.  LOTS of screen time for that one.

I don't have any photos to speak of, but a blog post without photos is not visually appealing, so let me lob one in for aesthetics.  This is the beginning of a pair of twined mittens, which will be finished today if I don't spend too much time writing blog posts!

Thursday, June 01, 2017

May Wrap-up, one day late

This post would have been much earlier -- except for the fact that I was refusing to bow to the inevitable, that of logging out of the two e-mail accounts I keep tabs on during the work day in order to log in to write a blog post.  I finally gave up, and offer unseen apologies to those who will have to wait an extra 30 minutes for me to see their e-mail requesting a password reset.  

In other technological challenges, I went to sell some books on Amazon and got an error message
After resetting my password, sending an e-mail to seller support (and having it bounce back), restarting my computer, clearing my cache, clearing cookies, and letting the computer think about the error of its ways, I tried again.  And again.  The end result is that, because I had not sold anything for 6 months, my account was deactivated.  It cannot be reactivated, but I can sign up anew with a different e-mail.  The kicker is -- in the e-mail summarizing that, there are two links (for checking up on the help status and follow-up questions) and a 'was this answer helpful?'  with Yes and No as options to click.  Anything I click leads me to the same error screen.  Most Unhelpful.  

And, really?  Individual sellers have to sell something every 6 months to stay active?  Sigh.  I will probably surrender and set up another account, since I do have a few boxes of books with at least a few list-worthy items in them.  Unless -- is anyone interested in Dive Science Biology (unopened) or Oerberg's Lingua Latina (2001ish, used) ?

Now that my techy son is home for the summer, photos from my iPad are finding their way to my Desktop PC. 
Dog in Springtime Over Chipmunk Hole

Made with love for me, by my Dear Mom

And for my wonderful blog reader-who-comments, we have a photo of Dear Mom's kitchen garden.  it is so called because on the other side of the siding is her kitchen.  It has, alas, been taken over by weeds.  But weeds by another name are herbs, and the saw-toothed weed in this photo is the wonderful Stinging Nettle.  A bit mature for picking and eating, but still a nice representative of the type.  In mom's yard, they'll grow to 5 ft tall or so.  As their name implies, they have some defenses.  Namely, stinging.  Wee little glass-like hairs (possibly with toxins) that break off in one's skin and raise small welts and sting.  For a day or two. 
This stinging phenomenon vanishes when they are dried, or cooked.  Or, according to some, allowed to wilt a bit.  I haven't thoroughly tested that one.  The young leaves are delicious sauteed in butter or coconut oil, and the tea is said to be good for allergies.  I haven't done double-blind testing or anything particularly rigorous, but it does seem like the days when I had sniffles in the morning and drank nettle tea (and then ate the leaves) resulted in fewer days of prolonged sniffling.  Good enough for me!  

What else did May hold?  My leg still holds a bump from my fall.  It's not painful, and didn't interfere in the least with my 13 mile bike ride this morning, so that's a nice thing.  The garden is growing nicely, and my 'out-front-by-the-new-street' flower bed is lovely.  I should get a picture, for comparison with last year's.  Daylilies, Purple Coneflowers, Lupine, Comfrey, and Iris are thriving.  Calendula, this year's addition, has at least not been gobbled up by voracious chipmunks.  Yet.  I have Calendula in four places in the yard, with the hopes that at least some will escape the rodents.  I'm especially hopeful about the planting behind chicken wire.  

May held a lot of knitting.  I started and finished a test knit, and am now working on a shawlette for a friend.  I'm back to experimenting with fermented foods since the kitchen is warm enough to allow for fermentation (rather than cold storage).  The fridge holds fermented carrot sticks (ginger, and spicy), fermented rhubarb sticks (star anise, and spicy), Cortido (aka Latin American Sauerkraut), and of course, homemade yogurt.  No one else in the family is as enthused about them as I am, but that's okay.  I'll take care of them when they succumb to illness which my body laughs off. 

Until next time!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

April Wrap-up

April has been a delightful month, full of people to see, things to do, books to read -- and to a lesser extent, yarn to knit.  At this very moment, as a matter of fact, I have zero project on the needles, and nothing to cast on when the day's work is done.  This will become a more imminent first-world problem as the day draws nearer to evening, when I have a knitting class.  I'll just have to come up with something simple that can use stash oddments. 

Starting off with pictures, we have a record of what I did on April 1st.  April 1st was a beautiful day -- gentle breeze, warm spring air, dry ground.  It was perfect for tidying up the yard, and weeding, and bike riding, and the TKGA newsletter announcement.  Three of those things happen outside, and one happens inside, often followed by troubleshooting via e-mail.

Then, while I was tidying the yard, I had a serious Walking Fail involving a garden rake, an above-ground drainage pipe, and an occupantless wheelchair. 

 This made scheduling the bike ride / newsletter launch much easier.  I skipped the bike ride and opted for ice packs and an elevated leg.  Over three weeks later, I still have a lump. 

The Archives
Because I was sitting down instead of drifting about from place to place doing this and that, I decided to do something useful and consolidate the TKGA archives.  When they came to me, there were 6 sets of index cards, sorted (mostly) A-Z.  One for those in the Master Hand Knitter program, another for those in the Master Hand Knitter program, a third for those who had completed Level 2of the Master Hand Knitter program, a fourth for those who had completed the entire Master Hand Knitter program, a fifth for those in the Master Machine Knitter program, and a sixth for those in the Master Machine Knitter program.  By my judgment, that was four sets too many.  So I consolidated:  One for MHK, one for MMK.

I also knit a pair of socks, and a pillow cover, neither of which are available for photos.  Use your imagination! 

But reading ... our library has a nifty program whereby those who do not live in a town with a library branch can have books MAILED to them.  I heard about a book called Deep Nutrition, thought it sounded interesting, and requested it.  It is FASCINATING.  (Warning: don't read the book right before a major holiday involving lots of baked goods or candy.)  I heartily recommend as fodder-for-thought to anyone interested in making nutritious food choices, or those wishing away a health problem.  Just fascinating.  My mom (who has the book now) requested The Unsettlers, which I also read.  I didn't expect to find Wendell Berry mentioned in it quite so many times as he showed up.  More food for thought, but in a very different way.  My current audiobook is Twenty Years After by Dumas. 

With the advent of spring, we have the advent of gardening.  The kale (Lacinato, not Siberian this year!) has been transplanted, the Swiss chard planted, and two beds have received the fruit and veggie scraps that have been accumulating in gallon ice cream buckets all winter.  (A benefit of Minnesota cold is that you can put such buckets in an unheated back room and they don't become unliveable for a few months, at which point winter is enough over that they can be set out in the garden, waiting for the ground to be diggable).  There's also the advent of stinging nettles.  Last year, I experimented with them as tea for allergies.  This year, I'm diving into Nettles As A Leafy Green Vegetable.  Nettles sauteed in butter?  Yum!  Nettle soup? Delicious.  Mom's yard is my source of nettles, otherwise I'd be having them daily.  If I didn't know how invasive and pesty the things are, I'd be planning out a spot for them in my yard. 

Happy spring to you all!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Oh, and a Tea Cozy

My normal tea pot is visiting Kentucky this month, along with the tea cozy I designed for it, and for Adagio's PersonaliTea Pot.  That leaves me with just a small tea pot to use, and in the grand scheme of first world problems, it has been a miniature trial.  As one who sips tea throughout the day, it's a bit of a challenge to only get two cups of tea out of one pot.  And especially one pot that had a tea cozy which was a bit of a challenge to get on/off, being a bit undersized and gappy. 

So, what's a knitter to do?  Knit a tea cozy, of course!  And since a friend of mine had sent me in quest of tea cozies on Ravelry, I already had a good idea which one I wanted to make.  (Totally ignoring the pattern, mind you, which was in a magazine from several years ago.)  So I rummaged in my stash, pulled my favorite needles out of a sweater sleeve (hibernating at the time, finished now), and cast on. 

Behold, my tea cozy!
It's lined, and I am happy to say that I have 6, possibly 7, fewer oddments of yarn in my Fingering-weight Wool Yarn Stash.  And of those, only the gray can be positively dated to this millenium. 

The current project is a stash-busting Honey Cowl, which is slated to remove 100 grams of Elsebeth Lavold's Silky Wool in Denim from my stash. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Popping in briefly

Filius was home for spring break recently, and he managed to get my iPad talking to my computer briefly, at least as regards sharing photos. Here we have the Huge Glove
This glove has a rather cunning construction, and, when knit to gauge, would be a fabulous project for the knitter who doesn't like to weave in ends but adores finicky construction.  I believe that the whole glove is knit with a single strand of yarn - no scissors necessary.  No purling, either.  It comes from Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knit One, Knit All.  It will remain an orphan glove, but it did use up some yarn from my stash!

When Filii are home, bread must be made.  Here's a charming little loaf of a simple no-knead bread.  I do not think it survived to see the night. 

And then we have Grace.  Grace has been on the needles for a while, awaiting this and that.  I was very happy to get her off the needles and blocked, since my gauge was turning a 40" sweater into a 33" sweater, and I was starting to wonder what had happened.  I've made 4 sweaters with this yarn now, three of them while using a knitting belt and the same set of needles ... and everything in my closet had a gauge of 7 spi, while Grace was coming in at 8 spi.  She blocked to the right size, so I am a happy camper.  Pewter buttons have since completed her ensemble.  And for you eagle-eyed ones, yes, I did spot and fix the unwanted purl stitch in the front zig-zags.  

Today is the first day of spring, and the geese are merrily flying west.  I am fairly sure I saw a 2-3 year old bald eagle when I was out this morning.  The sun is shining, and the 'must do' portion of today's activities is practically done.  The only items remaining are the ones that must happen at 1:45, 3:00, 3:30, and 6:00... and I can't get those done earlier. 

So many things to talk over and consider ... stop over for a cup of tea and let's get caught up!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

January Wrap-up

January was a busy month. 

Our minivan made it to 300,000 miles amidst ever-increasing signs of imminent expiration.  Mom loaned us her minivan for the week, long enough to get ours into the shop and receive a diagnosis of haemorrhaging oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, broken power steering fluid pump, and dying transmission.  With that diagnosis, I popped onto Craigslist, found a newer minivan (2 whole years newer!) than our derelict, and two days later we were the owners of a minivan with half the mileage of the faithful white one which serve us faithfully for so many years. 

Safely ensconced in a functioning minivan (mom's), Filia and I trekked up to the Cities with great caution on a skating rink of ice for some yearly check-ups.  Neither of the doctors we saw were happy with what the imaging showed, so rather than come home with the traditional bill of good health, we left with orders for more imaging, a visit with a local specialist, and a repeat appointment.  We stopped at a yarn shop to console ourselves and spend a gift certificate, and totally broke with tradition by eating at LeeAnn Chin instead of Arby's.  The roads were fine on our way home.

The bookcase ... was installed!  I couldn't be happier with it.  I've got a spot for the computer, and can work in comfort, surrounded by all the lovely resources that were in stacks upstairs.  I have space for more knitting books, and am lacking space for theology books, and language books... the arrangement will no doubt flex over the years as I dust and think of new ways to organize them, and as our interests ebb and flow.  

I began a new part-time, from-home job as a data administrator.  And I'm keeping busy with TKGA work. January was a wee bit barren for knitting projects, so I floundered around a bit.  The gloves I hoped to make with my gift certificate purchase didn't work out - a gauge/pattern mis-match - so I have repurposed the yarn into a mitten.  It doesn't photograph well, colorwise.  And it is now hibernating while I knit away on a cardigan.  One and a half sleeves to go! 
February has been quieter.  It couldn't help but be quieter, really. 

To celebrate, I shall go knit.