Friday, December 26, 2008


Yesterday I started the Charade Socks, by Sandra Park. This pattern is a free Ravelry download. I was playing around with the LittleFreak sock yarn, trying to make the best use of the long sections of color. Each length of color in this skein would make about 1 round of a 72 st sock. I was hoping to make a cool effect with pooling, and played around with a few ideas before I hit on this plan.

This sock is worked on 68 sts, on size 0 needles, which creates a bit of overlap on the brown color. This is resulting in a very subtle spiral winding down the sock, which otherwise alternates a round of green, a round of brown. The herringbone columns in the pattern are subtle (and would be great in a solid yarn) but I think they add a nice touch to this and make a play of texture in the color that works pretty well. It's also a fun pattern to knit: quick to memorize and, so far, not boring.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Knitting Content!

Ok, it's not the most awe-inspiring knitting ever, but, hey, it's knitting. This is a hat for my brother. Just a basic watchcap, 2 x 2 ribbing, over 120 stitches. This is Blue Sky Alpacas 100% alpaca. It took most of two skeins because I wanted a nice generous fold-up brim. This yarn is so soft and warm, I might need to make one for myself!

Here it is on Owen:

And then, I cast on for another hat for Owen. We've had some hat attrition lately, plus his head has grown to what I think will be his final adult size.

This is Gjestal Superwash Sport, worked on #3 needles. Just a basic 1 x 1 ribbing, worked on 108 stitches. I'm getting a little worried that it might be too small, but I think it'll stretch nicely without being tight.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Stash Enhancement

Not like I needed more stash, but a gal's gotta do these things sometimes.

One of the folks I see often on Ravelry has just set up shop as an indie dyer. I hope she'll be able to make a go of it with her hand-dyed yarns, so click on over to her shop: LittleFreak Yarns. Look, she even included a couple of nice stitch markers with my skein!

This colorway is called Inference. You'll notice a lot of her color names are a bit unorthodox. Many of them have been named after running jokes on the Ravelry Rubberneckers forum. She put up a good selection of yarns, from vivid to subdued, pastel to saturated, for the opening. Hurry on over before the good stuff is gone. (Don't worry: there'll be more!)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

What a difference

24 hours can make...

Owen's been getting a little fed up with his long hair lately. Tonight I gave him a cut. Not too bad. He didn't scream at me and try to glue the old hairs back on one by one. So this is progress.

In spite of the angry teen look he's making in that photo, he was really just goofing. He was laughing about 2 seconds before that picture was taken.

Monday, December 08, 2008


O hai, all your blogz are belong to me, Owen! Mua ha ha!

It's all because of the tree...

We usually get our tree on the first weekend in December. This is a bit of a compromise between me and Mr. SABLE, and now, the kids. I grew up in a family that typically waited until the last minute to get a tree. Truth be told, we often scrounged our tree from behind the dorms in the town where I grew up. A lot of the college students would put up trees in their lounges, then toss them out when they left town for break. My dad would load us kids into the Rambler station wagon (3 on the column, I kid you not) and we would cruise around near the Dumpsters® to pick one out. When Mr. SABLE and I first moved in together, in 1984, he was incredulous when I suggested this approach to Christmas tree procurement. In fact, a few times, I did persuade him to wait until the Cornell students had left Ithaca, and we did, in fact, score some pretty nice trees near student apartments. But it always made him nervous and struck him as wrong at some level. Of course, the kids are on his side with the early tree longings. No sooner is the mess cleaned up from Thanksgiving dinner than the three of them are wondering when we can get a tree. So, the compromise. Not until December. The first weekend in December.

For a number of years we went to a You Cut tree farm west of the city. The prices were kind of steep, the crowds were fierce, and the trees didn't seem all that special to me. The You Cut places are particularly not a good deal if you want a smaller tree. They charge a flat rate, based on the species you choose, not the size. After all, they can still sell it next year to someone else. A few years ago, when we went (maybe we were one weekend late that year) they were sold out. So, we drove off on a state highway toward the northwest a bit. We saw many cars coming back toward Madison with trees tied to the roof, so we knew we were on a hot trail. Lo and behold, there was a sign by the side of the road with TREES written on it. We turned. We went over hill and dale, around bends, up a long driveway, and found another family-run tree farm. Their prices were kind of steep, too. But the pre-cut trees were far more reasonable, especially, if like me, you want a smaller tree.

This farm has a little Christmas Shop where you pay for the trees. Mostly it's very kitschy country stuff that I can live without. But I always buy the kids a little candy treat. On our way home this year, Owen asked how they make hard candy.

(Ah, that's where this story was leading...)

And I told him it involved mostly boiling sugar water until it was mostly sugar, adding some flavor and color, and VOILA. He said he wanted to try it.

This may look more like broken brown beer bottles, but it's root beer flavored shards of hard candy, coated in powdered sugar. That was the first attempt, made last night.

Today, while the kids were at school, while I was out on errands in advance of our major winter storm, I stopped in at The Vanilla Bean, a store that sells cake and candy making stuff. I bought some molds and some official flavors, and a nifty little gadget that makes accurate dispensing of the hot candy solution reasonably efficient. It's like a funnel with a stopper you can open or shut with an easy thumb movement.

Owen made these tonight. They are cherry flavored. He overfilled the mold a bit, but I think he'll get the hang of it. I need to go back to the store and get a few more molds and also the special little baggies to wrap the candies in. And a lot more kinds of flavors. They have about 50 different flavors, in one-use little bottles, for $1.40 each.

Sampling his wares.

The tree is still a bit bare, but we'll do a bit more tomorrow while we're snowed in. Unless the storm somehow wimps out, but I don't think it will.

Saturday, December 06, 2008


This seems like a nice way to spend 5 minutes on a cold snowy December day.