Saturday, May 23, 2009

Great Lakes Fiber Show

I've been gone awhile and I hate to admit this, but the truth is I've hardly been knitting at all. For the last three months really I will have the occasional mindless knit, which is how I have one WIP sock and why the the last three completed projects I've made have been garter stitch baby bibs, but I've actually gone for days at a time without knitting a stitch.

This is most likely because I'm pregnant and I hear this is very common in the first trimester especially. See, I knew what I was doing when I started knitting baby clothes two years ago despite knowing we weren't ready to start a family then ;-)

I've just given up and unjoined the 2009 stash down and Hat of the Month groups on Ravelry. It isn't happening.

I really would like this to change soon. To try and spur that, despite the lack of knitting my existing stash in the last couple months, I went to the Great Lakes Fiber Show today and bought six skeins of yarn.
I had a really good time at the show today. I randomly met some knitters from the West Cleveland group (wearing Ravelry shirts is a good way to meet people!) and since I was at the show by myself they adopted me and I hung out with them for awhile.

I have even managed to enter this new stash (with pictures!) into Ravelry already. As best as I can anyhow, some of this yarn didn't come with labels and the receipts don't have any store info on and I don't remember the names of the booths.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Yes, it does snow in April.

Every spring the same thing happens. No, I'm not referring to my with sinus problems, although that happens too.

After 25+ springs in the Midwest (mostly Ohio, but a few in Illinois too) I continue to be baffled by the collective amnesia with regards to springtime snow.

EVERY YEAR it snows either in late March or the first half of April. Many years we have had white Easters. In fact, if it doesn't really snow at all in the second half of March you are practically guaranteed to have a heavy April snow. When I was in elementary school we even had a snowday once (with snow fit for making snowmen) in late April. There are pictures to prove this. Snow in April in Ohio is just not that unusual at all.

As you may guess, it is snowing right. You may also guess that about half the status messages on Facebook right now are expressing utter shock at this occurrence.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


I want to knit. I really do, yet I cannot come up with anything I actually want to work on. I have over twenty miles of yarn in my stash and NOTHING is satisfactory for me right now.

I actually kind of feel like crocheting an afghan, but currently I do not have enough of any appropriate yarn and while I do sort of feel like going out to and buying some Simply Soft, it is almost 9 p.m. here so I don't really have time.

This often happens when I try to start knitting project on Saturday nights, so I really have no one but myself to blame since I should expect this by now, but I tried all day to come up with something I wanted to work on to no avail.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I completely forgot that today is Flash Your Stash day. You might havethought that I also completely forgot that I had a blog. I didn't, I've just been busy and a little preoccupied.

Last month I spent a week in class and now have one of the licenses I need for my job. It sounds like I'll be going through that again next month for a securities license I need to get too.

My knitting has been kind of sad lately. I've managed a few projects here and there, mostly simple small things but mostly I don't have much desire to knit. When I thought about pulling out my stash to flash it I realized I have very little interest in that right now either.

This is kind of typical spring ambivalence from me. I think mostly I would rather be planting things in the ground this time of year. I'm trying to get our patio all set up too. Last week we bought a patio table and chair set and put it together. I'm really excited for it to be nice enough to enjoy a meal out there! I've only had small balconies so outdoor dining is going to be a new thing for us. Next step: buy a grill. By the time we do that maybe it will stay warm enough that I can feel all right about putting some flowers in the ground.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Isn't a little early for startitis?

According to the Yarn Harlot, spring is supposed to be the time when startitis runs rampant. (I can't tell you what book that essay is in off the top of my head.) Either I am a little ahead of schedule or there really is no seasonal aspect to it.

I haven't had much knitting time this month but I keep wanting to start new projects. It isn't that I don't want to work on things I have going, I just am suffering some delusion that I can keep 25 things on my needle and get them all done.

Like I said, the knitting time has decreased lately, but I'm still a happy person. I'm really enjoying living in a small town again. I park a block or so from my office so every day I get to walk down the main commercial street in town. I love looking in the shop windows (I walk by a bridal shop that changes the prom dress display every couple days) and being friendly to people going in and out of the post office. I love that I can look out a window in my office and see things happening outside. It really does make me happy.

Top 25 Albums

I totally sat down with the intention to blog, but for the last twenty minutes I got sucked into a Facebook meme, because sometimes they are kind of fun to do. I'm cross-posting it here, because that seems kind of fun too:

Think of 25 albums that had such a profound effect on you they changed your life or the way you looked at it. They sucked you in and took you over for days, weeks, months, years. These are the albums that you can use to identify time, places, people, emotions. These are the albums that no matter what they were thought of musically shaped your world. When you finish, tag 25 others, including me. Make sure you copy and paste this part so they know the drill. Get the idea now? Good.

***This is not about being cool. Which albums have you actually listened to thousands of times?***

I tried to order these not so much as most listened too (although they have all had a lot of play) but as most influential or most strongly associated with a particular event in my life. Of course I added some honorable mentions too because I have to play with the rules a little bit. I should also say that these are really the albums, not just individual songs, that I am ranking. I like to listen to full albums and appreciate them as a body of work.

1. Oasis - Be Here Now
2. Marcy Playground - MP3
3. Fastball - Harsh Light of Day
4. Oasis - What's the Story Morning Glory
5. Counting Crows - This Desert Life
6. Coldplay - Parachutes
7. Simon and Garfunkel - Bridge Over Troubled Water
8. Third Eye Blind - Blue
9. Coldplay - A Rush of Blood to the Head
10. The White Stripes - White Blood Cells
11. 311 - Evolver
12. Our Lady Peace - Healthy in Paranoid Times
13. Barenaked Ladies - Stunt
14. U2 - All That You Can't Leave Behind
15. Tarkio - Omnibus
16. Oasis - The Masterplan
17. Counting Crows - Hard Candy
18. The Strokes - Is This It?
19. Smashmouth - Astrolounge
20. Everclear - Sparkle and Fade
21. Barenaked Ladies - Maroon
22. Semisonic - Feeling Strangely Fine
23. Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon
24. Train - Drops of Jupiter
25. The White Stripes - Elephant

Honorable Mentions:
Wallflowers - Breach
Matchbox Twenty - Mad Season
Fastball - All the Pain Money Can Buy
Dixie Chicks - Fly

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Birthday Gifts!

Here it is the second week in February and I haven't made an entry this month. I have a good excuse. I was out of town for a conference for a few days and before that I was getting ready for the conference.

My stashbusting is not going so well this month. My dishcloth got stalled after a couple days because I just didn't feel like knitting on it, and the yarn is coming off a cone so there was no way I was taking that with me to the conference so I was going to get behind anyway.

Then this morning I received two skeins of Malabrigo and the new Yarn Harlot book. Take a good look at that picture, I can see grass, it is sunny, and although you can't tell from the picture the temperature was at least 10 degrees above freezing! I haven't had a birthday like this in years.

The brighter red is colorway is Garnet and it is specifically to replace my beloved Foliage hat that fell out of my pocket and was lost at the mall while Christmas shopping. I can only hope is that somehow that hat made it to someone who could really use it. I was sad, but consoled myself with the fact that I could replace it. Mark made sure that would happen for me, plus I got a bonus skein in a shade of red I wear a lot, so I will probably use it for another hat down the road.

While this hasn't been an incredibly productive week of knitting I did finish a pair of socks. This was another case of getting two pairs of socks out of one skein of sock yarn. The first pair I made for my mom so these are for me. I have also finished knitting the pieces of my Kai baby sweater, so now I need to sew it together and knit the collar and then that will be done too.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

January Wrap-Up

Being that today is the last day of the month, I though I should take the time to see how I am doing with my knitting resolutions so far.

I currently have 40,181 yards (that is 22.83 miles) of yarn in my stash. A month ago I was at 42,236 yards (just shy of 24 miles). I have used up over a mile of yarn and didn't add any to the stash this month. I'm very pleased with this.

I also knit my dishcloth of the month and my hat of the month, but I didn't knit a baby bib this month. I considered it, but I just had to much cotton in my hands to cast on for one. I am in the process of knitting a cotton baby sweater, so since that is still a baby item I don't feel as if I have failed.

Glancing back at my entries last month I guess I never officially made this a resolution, but I was hoping to finish at least one UFO a month. This month I finished Icarus, and I am well on my way to finishing up Mark's sweater, so I will make it my goal to complete that by the end of February.

For the 52 in 52 challenge I have chosen not to include the my pre-2009 UFOs I finish, but even so, I have completed 5 projects thus far. I'm on track for that!

Of course this has all been completed while I have been home every day (although honestly not a lot of knitting took places then, only my crunch birthday gift knitting did) and during a month that has been so snowy I haven't had much hope of doing anything on evenings and weekends. It is a good start to the year and I am pleased with it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Today Will Not Be Dull

Like much of the state (and country too I think) we are getting one crazy winter storm. Thankfully Mark made it to work safely this morning, although not everyone in his office did. I am still worried about him getting home. We have had a lot of freezing rain, but the temperature is around the freezing point so mostly it is slushy, but it is still pretty hazardous. Now we are getting really heavy snow and it is accumulating fast.

We've lost power three times in the last hour, I honestly will be surprised if I get this posted before it goes out again. That last time it was off for a good 20 minutes or so. While it is on again I refilled all our water pitchers, boiled some water so I have something hot to drink now, I am making sure my cell phone is all charged up (although the reception I get in here is terrible!), and I kicked the heat up so that if (or when) the power goes out again it least it should stay a reasonable temperature for awhile. While the power was out I reviewed the pantry to see what I have, we have crackers, granola bars, and plenty of canned fruit so we would be all right for a few days, although I would really hate to lose all the meat in the fridge if the power stayed out too long.

On top of that, the patio door is leaking in about four places. I can't quite figure that out. It is dry outside the door, it must be coming from upstairs somehow. I tried to stop up the leaks and reported it, but our maintenance men are pretty busy trying to remove the icy slush before it becomes frozen solid, so it may be awhile as this is really an emergency or anything, just a hassle. I can stop the water from causing too much trouble, the important thing is mostly reporting it so if there is any damage it can't come back on us for not letting them know about it.

Now that I have things in order here I think I can finally sit down with a cup of tea and knit. Stay warm, dry, and safe if you are caught in those storm too!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Chicken Paprikas

Here is how I make my chicken paprikas. I won't claim that this is entirely "authentic" for a number of reasons. First, I didn't learn to make this from my Hungarian grandmother or even Mark's Hungarian grandmother for that matter. The first few times I made it were the result of Googling for something that sounded like it would produce the chicken paprikas I had experienced. Then last spring Mark's grandma and Aunt Rose mailed me my own copy of the Hungarian cookbook their parish sells so I have the supposed recipe now. The thing is, with those types of cookbooks (you know, the ones put together by church ladies and students' mothers) a lot of times key ingredients are mysteriously omitted or something else just isn't quite right. In addition to that, each cook tends to have their own special touches and way of doing things, so with each generation things can change. For example, Mark's grandma doesn't keep the onions in with the sauce, Aunt Rose does. With that disclaimer, here it goes:

The first thing, and this is vital,is to start with the right paprika. Don't use the random "paprika" in from a spice collection. Hungarian paprika is sweet, and most grocery stores carry authentic Hungarian paprika like this: The actual first step is to chop a large sweet onion and brown it in oil. Once the onion is soft, add a tablespoon or so of paprika:
At this point, add the chicken and brown it. There is some flexiblilty with this. Mark's family uses chicken breasts, and they are very good and easiest to eat I think. I have used a cut up whole chicken before, tonight I used legs and thighs because they are cheaper. Once I have the chicken in the pan I usually sprinkle more paprika on it. When the chicken is browned on both sides, add about 1 cup of broth. The recipe I have call for water, but I think chicken broth gives better flavor. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Now here is another place directions can vary. In the past I have cooked the chicken entirely on top the stove like the recipe says, but I have found it can come out tasting too boiled. So tonight, after simmering about 20 minutes I transferred the chicken to a baking dish and put it in the oven at 350 degrees until everything else was done (probably about 20-30 minutes more). I also spooned some of the onions on top of the chicken. So here is what was left in the pan after I took the chicken out:
I turned the heat up on this to reduce the liquid since I use this for the "gravy."

The next step is to make the dumplings. This was a near disaster for me until I obtained this handy-dandy device (known as a spaetzle dumpling maker) from the kitchen section at Bed, Bath & Beyond:

To make the dumpling dough combine 2 eggs, 1/4 cup milk, 1 teaspoon milk, and 1 cup flour. I mix that and then I position my spaetzle maker over a large pot of rapidly boiling water. I spoon the dough (which is about the consistency of pancake batter) into the square portion of the dumpling maker, and then I slide that back and forth and the batter runs out the holes and I end up with something that looks like this:
I cooked these for 15 minutes and then drained them. Now it is back to the paprikas and onions on the stove. Over low heat, I add a container of sour cream and stir to mix well and heat through. Then I add the dumplings (and tonight I doubled that recipe above because they are almost better as leftovers!) and stirred to coat them in the paprikas gravy. By that point the chicken is done (I always use a meat thermometer to check) and dinner was ready to serve:


Amelia has this knack for crawling into my lap to take a nice long nap right about the time that I really want to or have to get up to do something. I feel so bad disturbing her once she has settled down and looks so peaceful, and sometimes I really have to get up so if I only want to get up sometimes I don't because I'm afraid she'll think I don't want her to ever come sleep in my lap. As you probably guessed, that is why I am writing this entry right now.

Unfortunately I don't have my knitting by me or any magazines for that matter. I am trying to plan out meals for the next several days since I want to go grocery shopping soon. Tonight it is going to be Chicken Paprikas which I have learned to make only since Mark and I have been married. I had heard of it, but never had it until last fall when his Aunt Rose made it for a family event, and then I was hooked. It is such a comfort food, but it has enough sour cream in it that I only make it once every month or two at most. It also wins the award for messiest meal to prepare, although last time I made it (in my new kitchen) was probably the least messy it has ever been. I'm not really sure why I always create such a mess, although I think the dumplings (or spaetzle if you prefer) share a lot of the blame.

So that up there was this morning. Eventually Amelia did get off my lap, I did some housework, planned meals for the next week or so, and went grocery shopping. Then this evening I made the chicken paprikas for dinner, which will be an entry in and of itself

Monday, January 26, 2009

Of mice and men (or in this case, woman)

I managed to beat out these guys for Amelia's company this afternoon. That is a pretty amazing feat considering how much she loves her "mousies." Actually I have no clue what she has done with the white one, she has another gray one and she has spent the last several days throwing and batting these around, and eventually getting them stuck under the door of the pantry or underneath the fridge, etc. I'm sure I accomplished other things today, but it feels like I've spent at least half the day fishing mice out from underneath the fridge. By now there can't be anymore dust bunnies left under there. I can't ignore it either, Amelia will just sit in front of the fridge with pleading eyes until I rescue them. I try to toss other mice her way, but if they aren't fuzzy she just isn't all that interested.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Exciting Discovery

Just a quick note to say that I'm really excited about my new library. They have two whole shelves full of knitting books. These aren't just old knitting books either, they have some really new titles too, and mostly books that I don't have.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Spring Tease

Today is one of those days that could really fool you if you didn't know any better. It is sunny and hovering around 50 degrees. I've spent too many years in Ohio to think that this will last; in fact, the forecast for the next several days is typical January weather again. I like to enjoy these days when we get them. They are so cheerful and full of hope. After weeks of snow and ice, negative temperatures and windchill, it is so nice to have a break and see the sun and get some fresh air! In the middle of the days when the sun is strongest my car gets warm enough it feels good to crack the sunroof as I drive around town.

I was driving around a bit today. I had some business to attend to and when that was complete I wasn't ready to go home. I haven't really gone exploring for myself since we moved in, mostly due to a strong desire to feel settled again first and then weather conditions once the majority of things were unpacked. Along my way I found an independently owned pet store, which was a great thing considering that I needed some things for Amelia. Since by then it was almost noon I gave Mark a call and met him for lunch downtown and got a little tour of his office. I never found the library like I was originally wanting to do, but that is all right, I will look another day.

Amelia was very please with what I brought home. Not only did she get a new scratching post, she got some more of her favorite little mice. I don't know what they put in these fuzzy little mice, but she loves them more than anything. Apparently they are more realistic than the standard catnip stuffed mice, although she likes those too, just not as much as the small fuzzy ones. She was less pleased with her new brush, but that is to be expected.

Anyhow, she keeps checking out her scratching post and standing up to reach to the top of it, so I think it will be a success. I had a couple other scratching options for her before. The cardboard scratch pad held her interest occasionally. She has never quit being apprehensive of the door hanging thing. Lately though she has been using the recliner a lot, so I figured it was time to get her something really vertical and sturdy. The upholstery on the recliner is textured, and I notice the other furniture she will occasionally scratch on is sort of wicker, like the laundry basket or my kitchen table and chairs, so I wanted to get her a sisal rope post. Luckily, the pet shop it for a much more reasonable price than what I've seen elsewhere. If this fails though they do carry clear Soft Paws so if I want to try them I can get them there rather than ordering them online.

Other than that I really haven't been doing much this afternoon. I took advantage of the warmer air and sunshine by opening all the windows and the doors for awhile to air out the place. That was one of the things that I really liked about this apartment- the airflow is great. I have a (locking) screen door on the front door plus the kitchen window in front, the guest bedroom windows are on the side, and along the back I have the patio door and our bedroom windows, so I can really get the air moving. This should be terrific in the summer, especially since I have a couple ceiling fans. I'm not sure that I really need to worry about stale air here considering how drafty it can be, but nevertheless, I do feel better to get some fresh air in when everything is so closed up for so long.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Digging up old entries

All right, I went back through my old blog posts to see if I got the spam comment a bunch or other Ravelers got (I did not) and found this knitting survey from September 2007.

I have deleted everything on the list that I said then I had already done. So now I am looking at the list to see how many things I wanted to do that I have done or if I have changed my opinion on them. My comments today are in parenthesis:


I want to do it

Very Little/No interest

I don't know what it is so I can't comment

• Afghan (crocheted not knitted, but done)
• Knitting with metal wire (tried anyway and didn't like it)
• Knitting with camel yarn ("It isn't the idea, it is the price," I said. It is still the price)
• Mittens: Tip-down
Participating in a KAL (I have done successfully, the key is finding the right type of KAL)
• Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn
Knitting with banana fiber yarn
• Domino knitting ( I still don't know what this is)
• Two end knitting
• Toy/doll clothing (I might give this a shot)
• Knitting with your own handspun
• Slippers (done!)
• Graffiti knitting
• Continental knitting (Yeah, I keep thinking I need to learn this)
• Publishing a knitting book
• Teaching a child to knit
• Knitting to make money
• Dying with plant colors (I didn't want to do this? Why not?)
• Knitting socks (or other small tubular items) on two circulars (done!)
• Olympic knitting (done!)
• Teaching a male how to knit
• Bobbles
• Knitting for a living
• Knitting smocking
• Steeks
• Knitting art
• Knitting with beads (no, I want to do this)
• Entrelac (done!)
• Machine knitting
• Stuffed toys (I don't want to do this really)
• Darning (done! I should have blogged about that.)
• Jewelry
• Writing a pattern
• Gloves
• Knitting for preemies
• Tubular CO (tried and gave up on the instructions)
• Freeform knitting
• Rug
• Knitting on a loom
• Thrummed knitting
• Knitting for pets (done! I didn't have pets when I did this the first time)
• Shrug/bolero/poncho
• Knitting with dog/cat hair (I still dont' want to do this)
• Hair accessories


It drives me crazy when I have things I want to blog about and I feel like I shouldn't or can't really publicly write about them. As a general rule I have just decided that for myself, blogging about work or career related things isn't a great idea. If you do a Google search for my full name this blog will not come up, but I just don't want to take that chance.

The whole concept about what I should and shouldn't blog about is something I struggle with too. Back when I had a blog on xanga I used to write about a lot more stuff. Honestly, it was a lot more fun for me then too. Maybe it was because writing there was also a bit of a writing exercise and helped warm me up to write papers or maybe it was just procrastination, but I have to believe that being more open was what made it more enjoyable too. Then I graduated, moved to Chicago, got a job, and started knitting. I thought starting a knitting blog too would be great, but having two blogs was just tedious, so I got rid of them both. Then I started this one up thinking that I would have a fresh start and could blog about both the everyday random things and my knitting. Recently, that has been working better but like I said, I am still struggling with how open I really want to be.

On a recent podcast (if only I could remember which one that was) the podcasters were talking about how obnoxious it can be when you read a blog and everything is happy all the time, nothing is ever wrong, and everything is just too perfect. I kind of feel like that is what I should put in here sometimes and quite frankly I'm really bored with that too. That makes the whole blog feel so sterile and then you have things happen like last year when I didn't blog for months at a time because things in my life were not entirely stable (a.k.a the second half of 2008 when we were in a really temporary place just waiting for the whole bar exam process to be over and to be able to move forward again) or happy (late January and February, I am looking in your direction). At the same time I never want to be one of those blogs where every day it is a new complaint or some overblown drama. (Although if you are a fan of overblown drama I can point you in that direction, I encounter it frequently on facebook.)

I never really made a post about New Year's resolutions beyond some basic knitting goals because I didn't really make any. As January progresses I am finding one theme I keep returning to and that is balance. In knitting I try to make sure I have something simple and something more complex, some things for me, and as many for other people. I keep trying to plan my meals better so that we have more variety and healthier choices for snacks and meals and get more vitamins and nutrients from vegetables and fruits. I'm looking for part-time work (that is all I will say about it) to balance a professional life and a personal life. I want to find some volunteer projects to work on and I have been attending church much more regularly now in an attempt to find my place in a community rather than just in myself or my personal relationships. Even the church attendence is split between Catholic and Methodist as I find each meets a different set of spiritual needs. I also found my old yoga video so I am working on physical balance too.

I'm not really sure what my whole point is in this post, but after sitting down to write about 5 times in the last week without really saying what I wanted to I thought it was time to just put it out there.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

More pictures as promised

Before I begin a day of cleaning I thought I would share some of the post-blocking pictures of Icarus from yesterday. I am so happy with this shawl! It is actually my first large lace weight shawl. My Handsome Triangle is about as large, but the yarn is much heavier both in yarn weight (Lace vs. Sport) and fiber content (alpaca and silk vs. cotton and modal). My swallowtail was almost as fine, but that shawl is definitely smaller. I have another lace shawl in my queue, but that is going to have to wait until I finish a certain WIP/UFO. Any guesses which on I am talking about?? Anyway, the next shawl in my queue is rectangular and I am looking forward to a change in shapes. I also really want to try a circular shawl so maybe that will be my large shawl of the year next year.

Anyway, off to major cleaning and later inaguration watching.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Icarus is blocking!

Before blocking:after being pinned out:

and a close up:
I have to say having an extra bed sure makes blocking a lot easier! I used to try and block shawls on the floor which worked all right, but the pins didn't stay in very well. I'm not sure how I would have done that with Amelia now. At least I can close the door to the guest bedroom and keep her away.

I really wish I had blocking wires, but as I do not, I was able to try a tip from Interweave. I strung a cotton thread (I used crochet cotton) through the center stitches and the top edge and pinned those down first. Then I was able to pin out each of the edge tips. I added more pins to the top to keep the cotton thread in line, but I didn't have to use nearly as many pins up there as I normally would have.

After blocking the length is 42" and the width is 72" so this will be a really nice size. More pictures will follow once blocking is complete.

Oh, and I'm not sure that I mentioned it here, but I did need a second skein of yarn to complete this. The yarn I substituted was the exact same yardage as the yarn called for in the pattern, but as noted in Ravelry, I am definitely one of the knitters who needed more. Not much more, but I did have to attach the second skein to finish the last 4 rows and the bind off. I have not wound up the skein again to calculate just how much I yardage I used, but it wasn't really too much, so I am certain I could make another shawl from the remainder of the skein sometime in the future. I will just have to look for one that calls for maybe 650 yards or less or laceweight yarn.

Of another birthday gift

My birthday is coming up soon too, so on Saturday when I gave my sister her gift she gave me my birthday gift:She crocheted this for me since I had mentioned this summer that I thought black and white afghan would look cool. It does, doesn't it?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Birthday Knitting

January is a birthday month in my family. Yesterday I was able to give both my mom and my sister their respective birthday gifts. Judging by the projects you might think that January is also cable month.

The Cable Footies (pattern by Leigh Radford in One Skein) for my mom are knit in Cascade 220. I would like to knit a pair for myself too sometime, but when I do I think I will probably knit them toe-up instead.

My sister's gift is the Who? hat (pattern from Penguin Purls). Becky likes owls, so I thought she would appreciate this hat. She was also happy that it would be nice and warm (I used Ultra Alpaca). The hat is also me participating in the Hat of the Month group on Ravelry. Either I am softening towards KALs or I am finding one that work for me. I really like this group because there are at least three knit and at least two crochet pattern choices each month. I don't have to knit a hat I don't like and this gives me the option to try crocheting a hat too. If I don't like any pattern option that month I can choose my own too. Maybe I also like it because a hat isn't too much of a commitment and if it gets to be the last week of the month and I haven't knit a hat yet I probably can still participate without knitting 24/7 to catch up.

Both of these are also counting towards my goal of 52 projects in 52 weeks. In addition to these two items, I also finished a coffee cup dishcloth for my own personal dishcloth of the month club.

Monday, January 12, 2009

My new favorite hobby

No, I haven't given up knitting.

Back in college, I used to get immense enjoyment from reading the Independent Collegian's police blotter. I am now getting almost as much entertainment from reading the local newspaper on-line.

This isn't from the police blotter, but it will probably give you a clue:
"The Police Department’s “zero tolerance” policy on crime in the downtown area netted another dozen jaywalkers this weekend..."
In other words, while I wouldn't say that nothing happens here, it does appear that the volume is low enough that EVERYTHING, serious or not, gets reported. I guess I will have to be sure I am using a crosswalk if I cross the street downtown because jaywalking is a serious crime! Actually, reading the rest of the article, it seems the crackdown is occurring between approximately 11 p.m.-2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights in the vicinity of a certain establishment I have no intention of ever visiting, so I think I will be all right. In addition, the "zero tolerance" policy is intended to crack down on littering and public urination, and I am all for that, so no complaints from me.

Here is a sampling of some of my favorite police blotter reports:

A woman said Friday her sister-in-law sent a package of meat with the wrong address, and it was delivered to another apartment in her complex. She said that she would contact her landlord because she didn’t want to ask the occupants of the other apartment to return the meat.

A. woman said there were three males in the bushes behind her house Friday and that a suspicious car was parked in the Stadium parking lot. When police arrived, they found out that the males in the bushes were youths playing hide-and-seek. The occupants of the car were sent on their way.

A woman informed police Saturday that her neighbor’s large dog is always unleashed and in her yard and it always makes a large mess. The woman said she had spoken to the neighbor about the issue, but it keeps happening. Police told the neighbor to not let it happen again.

A man was reported to be walking on --- Ave. Wednesday wearing camouflage and carrying a shotgun. Police stopped the man and found he was carrying an umbrella.

A resident reported Monday that a sweeper salesman was dropped off at her residence for two hours and was asking strange questions. Deputies told the salesman’s supervisor to monitor where the salesmen were and if they were not wanted, they were to leave.

A resident Tuesday reported that he received a check for $4,950 from an alleged sweepstakes, of which $2,000 was to be sent back to the company for taxes. He said he wanted the information logged by police so other people don’t get caught up in the scam.

A black sheep that escaped Sunday night from a live Nativity at a church on --- Ave. was found Monday morning. Police were alerted to the escape Sunday night when a --- St. resident reported a suspicious male, who was a member of the search party, outside her residence.
This paper is just great. As I was scrolling through looking for old police blotters I came across this pair of headlines right next to one another:

A different kind of sled

Prosecutor reviews pact with Rosebud Mining to vacate

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Forced Blogging

Once again Amelia has decided that I am not going anywhere. Thankfully, I already had my computer on my lap so I am only stuck, not stuck and bored.

As my birthday is now a month away I decided today was the day to take care of renewing my license plates. Ohio gives you a bunch of options, so I opted for the easiest and took care of the renewal online. Much to my delight, the renewal cost $15.00 less than the notice I received stated the total cost would be. Apparently my current county doesn't charge a tax on license renewal the way my former county did. The only thing I am wondering about is the stickers. In Ohio there is the standard registration sticker and a different sticker that denotes the county. I have been wondering if they will send me a new county sticker since I have moved since I got my license plates.

On a related note, I remember Ohio renewals being much more expensive then they are now. I remember when we moved to Illinois, Mark was complaining about how much it cost to renew, and I thought that it was actually less than I had been paying in Ohio. Now I am wondering if maybe my county had significantly higher license taxes and they have reduced them more now. Even the price I was quoted in my renewal notice with my old address was less than I expected almost (by about 50%!). I never registered my car to my Toledo address so I don't know if Lucas County taxes were less than Wayne County's, which would account for the difference of opinion Mark and I had. Although, it only costs $2.75 more to get brand new plates now, and I KNOW those used to be more expensive, so maybe state fees have decreased now too.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


First, in response to yesterday's post, I completely agree with Miss Luscious Luka that Newman's Own is a terrific brand. So far I haven't found anything in that line that has HFCS. Unfortunatley, I have to travel a bit to find a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's, but I have found that store brands are less likely to have HFCS than national brands. Kroger's storebrand is frequently healthier when you compare the nutritional facts and ingrediants, and the Our Family brand that Buehler's (my grocery store) has been safer too. Their peanut butter does not contain HFCS. You really have to read everything though. I was making a dessert for Christmas and ALL the Cool Whip contained it.
Awhile back I started using real maple syrup instead of the imitation stuff, mostly because I found I needed a lot less if I just used the real stuff. I'm glad I did because the imitation stuff isn't just Corn Syrup, it is HFCS.

On to another topic though. Last month I blogged about how I wanted to read more and I thought it would be fun to read a chapter a night from a novel and get through it that way. Mark and I have been doing that, but not quite how I envisioned. We actually end up reading for about an hour, so we progressed quicker than I expected. Of course, we didn't read every night since we were away at Christmas, but nonetheless, we finished My Antonia on Saturday. In some ways it reminded me of the Little House on the Prairie series. I loved those. Perhaps it wasn't just the frontier theme that reminded me of them. My mom used to read them aloud to Becky and me. The reading is good for my knitting. I read a chapter and then Mark reads the next chapter and I knit until it is my turn to read again. I'm actually progressing on Icarus again! Now we are on to Tom Jones by Henry Fielding.

Monday, January 5, 2009

HFCS Free Challenge

Back in November my friend over at La Petite Tricoteuse instituted a 30-day challenge to not eat or drink anything containing High Fructose Corn Syrup. Finally, here in January, I am participating in the month-long challenge. It is a little easier to do now that I have my own kitchen and pantry again. Actually, ever since I began shopping for groceries again I have been reading labels VERY carefully.

I was shocked when I first realized how prevalent HFCS is. Ironically, it all started with those commercials the Corn Refiners Association put out. If you haven't seen them, basically Person A comments on how bad it is that Person B is eating something that contains HFCS. Person B asks them why it is so bad, and Person A can't really tell them. Person B then says it is fine in moderation and there is nothing to worry about. Well that peaked my curiosity about what is wrong with HFCS besides it obviously being a sugar, so I started doing some research and found out lots of things, including it being hard on the liver and especially bad for maintaining blood sugar. I also spent sometime reading the thread in BID on Ravelry. Someone mentioned how it is in everything from bread to condiments. I checked out my mom's kitchen, and while the bread and English muffins boldly proclaimed "NO HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP" the trip to the fridge was less successful. I found it in the salad dressing, the light mayo, and the ketchup.

In general I try to eat more whole foods and less processed ones, so I think this challenge fits in with that sort of eating philosophy. Admittedly, since I hardly ever drink soda (and never cola) this may be easier for me to do because rather than giving things up, I am doing more label reading. I swear that it does add 15 minutes to my grocery shopping time though.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Christmas Gifts Part 2

I started this post a few days ago when I had a cat on my lap who refused to let me get up. Then I something interrupted me and I never got to finish it.

This year was heavy on knitted gifts from me. Mark is actually the only one who didn't receive a knitted gift. Well, except his parents, but Mark is responsible for those gifts just like I am responsible for my parents' gifts.

I started way back in July with the first gift. You may recognize these as being Endpaper Mitts. I have been wanting to knit these for awhile, and since it calls for fingering weight yarn and I have a whole Knit Picks Palette sampler, I dug through my stash and found a color combination I really liked. As I was knitting I realized that these are definitely in my sister's color palette and she has never received fingerless mitts from me. So I put them aside for her.

For whatever reason, this year she was the one who was easiest to knit for and by the end of September I completed her other two gifts. The hat is the Zig Zag Beanie from Fall 2008 Interweave knits. I used a strand of Elizabeth Austen Andes wool and a strand of light blue Kidsilk Haze. Last Christmas Becky received a shawl out of the same wool, so these match that, they are just a little fuzzier. I really like the hat pattern. It is really easy to memorize and make a very stretchy hat. I made one for myself later, although then I used a bulkier worsted mystery yarn from my stash and no mohair.

Since I knew Becky had that shawl which can also work as a scarf, and now a hat in matching yarn, I though I might as well found out the set with a pair of mittens. To make them a little warmer than normal I used a strand of Kidsilk Haze with these too.

The next present set I knit was for my sister-in-law. Rachel told me awhile back that she wanted another pair of mittens for Christmas. Then the next time I saw her she wanted a hat too. I took her to Uptown Fibers one weekend when we were both home and showed her some yarn options. I knew she wanted something gray and soft, and she quickly settled on the Ultra Alpaca. The mittens were simple enough to knit, but I hesitated over the hat. After browsing Ravelry for quite awhile, I found a hat that I thought I would enjoy knitting and would fit Rachel's style. The pattern is Hermione's Cable & Eyelet Hat, which I thought she would enjoy since she is a Harry Potter fan. I did alter the pattern a little. I cut back on the ribbing and did an extra repeat of the cables and lace.

I don't really have to guess about what my mom wants for Christmas, she is quite clear with her hints. For one thing, I knew that she wanted a warmer pair of mittens. A couple years ago she got a plain worsted pair, but those don't really cut the wind enough on the cold days when she takes Sadie for a walk. I let her borrow my Norwegian mittens, which she really liked, but I am not willing to part with those and I didn't have the yarn in my stash to knit her a pair of her own. Instead I decided to try something new and knit a pair of thrummed mittens. I did have to buy the roving to insert, but Pat Catan's had small packages of it for needle felting, so I was able to get a whole lot of colors. The base yarn is Mountain Color's Weaver's Wool that I used for the Foliage she received for Mother's Day.

Then Mom started talking about how nice it would be to have a short scarf that could be buttoned around the neck. After more Ravelry searching, I came across this pattern. Stashbusting kicked in and I made it as long as I could from the rest of that Weaver's wool and Cascade 220 I had used for her Christmas 2005 hat. It worked really well because I had about the same amount of each yarn.

Like I said, stashbusting kicked in. When we decided to keep Amelia, I realized that she would need a stocking too. I don't know how many people have stockings for their cats, but we have always had stockings for the dog, so it made sense to me. Plus, all the pet stores were selling prepackaged cat and dog stockings. I had enought leftover yarn from Mark's stocking and my stocking to make Amelia her own from the same colors. Unfortunately my Knit Christmas Stockings! book was still in storage so I couldn't make a mini Rustic Lodge stocking, but that is all right since I am not sure I had enough yarn of one color to do that anyway. This is my improvised stocking design. I knit it toe-up and made a short row heel. After we moved I hung it on the door knob of the coat closet and every now and then Amelia would jump up and bat at it, so I think it was a success.

My dad is the hardest for me to knit for because I just don't see him wearing that many knit things. When the weather got cold and windy I lent him a scarf, so I decided to make him his own. I was really happy with my yarn choice. At Calla Lily Yarn & Gifts I found di.Ve' Autunnoc. First, it is very soft wool, perfect for a scarf. Second, I love the subtle color shifts. This picture doesn't really show them, but the yarn very subtly goes from gray to brown to green. I used the One Row Handspun Scarf pattern from Stephanie Pearl-McPheee.

The mittens were the last to be completed, I finished them Dec. 23. I wasn't sure my dad would like mittens, mostly because Mark has been very vocal about his not wanting mittens. My mom said he would, and she snuck me his leather mittens that he said fit perfectly so I could have an idea what size these mittens should be. This was another first for me. While all the other mittens above followed my basic mitten recipe (as developed from the Mittens 101 article in Knitty), this pattern featured a thumb gore which I had not done before. The pattern is "Manly Mitts" from the Summer 2005 issue of Knitty. Funny thing is, by the time I was done with them Mark could admit that maybe mittens wouldn't be so bad after all.