Friday, December 30, 2005

It's been a long school vacation already and we still have to get through several more days.

I've been working on a quick new scarf pattern and the purple pullover pattern (still have some more knitting to do), which I'd like to release for The Garter Belt newsletter in late January. People really seem to like quick projects. I must try to make more of them. I had hoped to spend some uninterrupted time on the double bed machine, finishing up a long-dormant project. Maybe I can still get to it over the weekend. If anyone who reads this has a particular talent for naming knitting patterns, please let me know. My mind just doesn't work that way. My ideas for names tend to be quite literal and descriptive, like Raglan Pullover. When I try to get more creative, the results always sound a little dippy and contrived. It's hard to imagine that I spent so many hours of my adolescence writing poetry, yet cannot find an apt word or phrase to name a simple sweater.

Yesterday we had to buy a new furnace. This wasn't too much of a surprise, since we had been told a couple years ago that we were on borrowed time. I'm glad that it was a relatively mild day: high approaching 40 degrees F. And I'm glad that I had just gotten a largish end of year check from my grandmother. So, while it isn't pleasant to suddenly one day have to fork over $2900 just to stay warm, it could have been worse. And the company that did it was able to get a crew in that day. It's nice to know that our house shouldn't blow up from a gas leak and to feel assured that the CO monitors won't be shrieking at us at 2:00 a.m. on a 10 below 0 night.

Counting down til the end of 2005. Tomorrow morning I have Last Saturday Knitting. I wonder if I'll be all alone this month? That's ok if I am. Okay to have company, too. We have no plans for tomorrow night. My ideal New Year's Eve involves hanging around doing nothing special and going to bed about 11. Mr. SABLE and I agree on this. Unfortunately, the older child has gotten the idea that something FUN and MAGICAL happens at midnight and he wants to stay up to experience it. I tell him, "Fine, we're going to bed. Have fun," but this isn't what he wants. He wants us all awake and experiencing the thrill of the New Year sweeping in. Some of my best New Year's Eves have been when we celebrated with other boring people like ourselves. In '99-2000, we went to a party and did Greenwich Mean Time New Years. The hosts live on Greenwich Drive, so it's quite appropriate. Another time, friends with young kids were visiting us and we had New Year's in Reykjavik, which wasn't strictly accurate, but based on the fact that we wanted to have New Year's at about 8 pm.

So, have a safe and happy New Year's Eve everyone. See you all in 2006.
And remember, friends don't let friends knit fug!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Maternal bragging ahead.

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My ten year old son, Owen, drew this picture earlier today. Click to make it bigger. He has always had an artistic bent, but lately the quality of his sketches has made a big leap forward. He's leaving the "kid art" and behind and really starting to make art. I'm very proud of him.

End of the year activities

Two views of the same thing
Image hosted by Here we are in our matching Diamond Hats. He should have mentioned that my brim was folded up in back. I wasn't sufficiently motivated to retake the pictures.Image hosted by

Knitting with Fathom and her momImage hosted by
We managed to get together yesterday afternoon at Lakeside Fibers for a little knitting and yarn browsing. Image hosted by Photobucket.comI always get a kick out of meeting other people's parents. The unexpected ways that family resemblances come through are always interesting. Yes, a certain aspect of the face but more, the gestures and expressions. I hope we can all knit again next time Emily's in town.

Not much else to show the world today.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Updates and a recipe

I finished the second Diamond Hat. It's drying now. This one is from charcoal grey Plymouth Galway and some Pengouin yarn in white. I used #5 needles, which made a good fit for Scott's head. Pictures tomorrow.

I finished reading Bel Canto. I'm a little ambivalent. Yes, it's a good read, but I don't think it's great literature. I felt a little shortchanged at the end, as if the writer took a short cut from the story that had engrossed us for 300 pages to the epilogue and no reader could figure out how she got there.

Today I made a particularly successful batch of soup. Thought I'd share the recipe. I made it up as I went along, so posting helps me in case I want to make it again in the future.

Elizabeth's Chicken Barley Rice Soup

Day 1
Roast a whole chicken. Make gravy with the pan drippings. Serve with potatoes and green beans. Save all the leftovers.

Day 2
Early in the day, pick all the meat off the chicken carcass and put it back in the fridge until later.
Put the bones and skin in an eight quart pan. Cover with about 4 inches of water. Bring to a simmer. Cover. Simmer gently for a couple hours, stirring occasionally.

When you wander through the kitchen, turn off the stove and let it cool for a while.

Strain everything out of the broth. Toss out all this stuff: any remaining meat will be too boiled to taste good.

Add to the broth (in the 8 quart pan): 1/2 cup of pearl barley, 1 medium sized diced onion, several medium sized diced carrots, several celery stalks, diced, 1 tablespoon of salt, some poultry seasoning, black pepper, 1 large or 2 small bayleaves. Simmer, covered, for an hour or more. Stir occasionally.

Add one 24 oz can of canned tomatoes and a few finely diced slices of Canadian Bacon (optional for those who don't want pork). Simmer gently, stirring occasionally and while stirring, mash the tomato chunks up.

About one hour before serving time, add 1/2 cup of rice. Stir while simmering to keep rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Stir in any leftover gravy from previous night's dinner.

Adjust salt and other spices as needed at this time.

Dice up chicken meat and any leftover potatos and green beans. Stir in about 10 minutes prior to serving.

Would be good with crusty french bread and butter.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Diamond Hat ready now, too!

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Mine is a little big, but you can make it smaller by using smaller needles and a tighter gauge. The pattern will be available at The Garter Belt as soon as Wendy performs her magic. The good news is that I was able to make the mitten and hat set from the 100 gram ball of blue and 4 oz skein of white. The blue was the worrisome one.

Next up in this series: cuff-to-tip mittens with a side gusset for the thumb.

Also, it's this time of year:
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I made Owen's stocking in Dec. 1995 and Colin's in December of 2002. (Yes, he spent his first Christmas without a personalized stocking. What are you going to do? Report me to Martha Stewart?) The really big problem with these stockings is that Colin's is noticably larger than Owen's. Try explaining to a kid why it doesn't really matter. It's not like Santa keeps on shoving loot in there until it's full. Owen's stocking was adapted from a magazine pattern. I think it was a 1970s Family Circle Christmas Crap, er I mean, Craft issue. Colin's was a little more free-form. With a little tweaking, I think Colin's could be a nice pattern. But in a kid's view, it's perfect because it is REALLY BIG!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Mitten pattern count down...

I did get the mitten pattern finished this evening. I sent the pdf and some photos off to Wendy in Italy. I'm not sure what her schedule is like this weekend, but I know she'll get it up and available as soon as she can.

I worked out a graph for the matching hat last night. Started knitting tonight. I put one slightly tricky element right at the beginning: a Baltic Braid. You can see an example on this page of the Peace Fleece site. Scroll down to the hat with Baltic Braid trim.

I hope to make the hat out of the remaining yarn from the mittens. I started those with a 4 oz skein of Germantown (the white) and a 100 gm skein of Peer Gynt (called Sport Weight, but works well as Light Worsted). Ideally, a person could make the set from 100 grams each of two colors. If the hat starts to run short on the blue, I have a Plan B, but I'm not as happy with it as I am with Plan A. If I do run out of the blue, I'll have to start again, because this was one of my Goodwill odd skeins and I doubt I could match the color on a 25 year old skein of yarn from Norway.

Look for hat progress pics in the next day or two.

The other big project around here was cleaning the living room enough to get a tree. I hauled out a bunch of boxes of miscellaneous toys to sort in the playroom. Put a bunch of stuff in recycling or trash. Boxed some items to take to storage on their way to the Goodwill (the two-step schlep: it helps with plausible denial when things get remembered after they go missing). I actually got all the way to the fireplace and we had a firelog hanging around from last year. So, we had a nice heartwarming moment with all of us eating popcorn in front of a cheery fire, with brotherly love and harmony in the air. It lasted about 10 minutes. Would have made a good Christmas card if I'd had the camera handy.

Heat Wave?

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This morning's temperature here in balmy Wisconsin. This is a big improvement over the last week or more when we haven't broken 15 degrees F for daytime highs!

Here is my nearly done Branching Out. I say nearly done because you will notice I have not yet darned in the ends.
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It blocked out quite long. I'm pleased about that, because I think such a skinny lightweight version should have some extra length to compensate. I used a little over half of a 2 oz, 350 yard skein. Pretty economical. More for fashion than for warmth, but that's okay.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Finished Branching Out

I finally finished my Branching Out today. I used Blackberry Ridge wool and silk laceweight yarn and size 5 needles, so it took a little longer than most of them. I made it about 53 inches long before blocking. Not sure the length will change much with the blocking: more like the width.

I was in a quandary about blocking. I even went so far at to look at the welding rods when I was at Farm and Fleet a while back. For those of you who haven't read this tip, the rumor is that steel welding rods can be had at a fraction of the cost of blocking wires available from knitting supply sources. The welding rods I saw did not look suitable. They were too heavy to pass through the stitches easily, some were copper coated (green oxide on the knitting!), some were not coated (steel rusts!), some had some coating to aid the welding process (can't remember what it was called, but sounded like it shouldn't go on my knitting!) and they were all so oily and dirty looking, I just didn't want to pursue that option.

So, I got out a spool of heavy duty nylon thread left over from an upholstery project. Took two strands of that and using a fine darning needle, ran it down the length of the scarf on either edge.

Then I had to give more thought to where to pin that thing. I wanted to pin it damp. I put a towel on the ironing board and pinned out as much as would fit. There's about 10 inches dangling off the end. Tomorrow when I release the dried and blocked section, I'll block the remaining bit with mist.

Over the weekend I should be able to get pics of the finished project in bright natural daylight, when our temperature will climb above 20 for the first time in a lot of days. A veritable heat wave!

Yes, I've been working on the mitten pattern. Should be ready by the weekend, unless I add the matching hat to the deal. Of course, I could always add the hat later...

Good grief: look at the time. I better go to sleep soon, because I've got first morning duty tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Diamond Mittens

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Newly completed: The Diamond Mittens in worsted weight yarn for adult-sized hands. These would fit either a medium to large size woman's hand, or a small to medium man's hand. For child sized mittens, make the same pattern in sport weight on smaller needles.

Pattern to come to The Garter Belt soon! I have it about two-thirds written. Should be available by the weekend!

UPDATE: Diamond Mitten Pattern Here!. If you want the hat, too, you should wait a few more days, because there will be a special price on the pair of patterns.