Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Samhain

Happy Samhain.
Blessed be.

Revellin' in Ravelry

I is gleeful. I gots my Ravelry invite. Yes, I know that is grammatically incorrect, but that doesn't matter because it gets the point across. So far I've succeeded in getting my stash photographed, organized, and labelled properly; I'm working on getting pictures of WIPS and finished projects similarly organized and labelled. This is trickier because I don't always take pictures while I'm working on things and I occasionally forget to take pictures of them after they're finished.
So far I'm impressed. It seems like a decent tool for networking and organizing, though I don't suppose you actually need an entire database to do that since there are message boards and forums filling a similar need--Yahoo groups, for instance. Still, it looks like the anticipation was worth it; I hope everyone who's participating finds it a positive experience. Now I just have to worry about getting my library sorted out.
Speaking of which, I got the holiday issue of Interweave Knits. I haven't actually had a chance to sit down and look at it yet, but I leafed through last time I was at the store and decided I needed to buy a copy when I wasn't on a deadline. It looks like it has a lot of good projects in it, so I'll post a more detailed analysis in a couple of days. Still lots to do--projects to finish, eye exam on Thursday (fun), and now I have to get organized for a commission... and two more down the road.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Le Stash

Hee! It's nice to catch the post office on the fly. I got there before they'd even stuck the yellow card in the mailbox--yellow cards always mean either a telephone book or a parcel--and made a bee line for the counter.
"I think I have a package," I said to Sandy. "Wanna guess what it is?"
Sandy chuckled, pretended to look thoughtful, then said, "Wait. Could it be... wool?"
"It's my sock yarn!"
And indeed it was. Sock yarn and the replacements for my little birch 1.5 DPNs. Doesn't take much to amuse me. Just... yarn.

I've finally gotten around to taking pictures of my stash in preparation for Ravelry; my conclusion is that it's relatively modest when compared to what I think of as hard-core knitters. I'm really, really, REALLY a novice. But that's okay. My 50 gallon tub has run out of space, and I've vowed to actually use some of it before I buy more. Or, at least, I thought I'd be able to do that. And then I ordered sock yarn. And needles. Did I mention the needles? Hee! See stash below, cleverly disguised as a cute little Terramundi pot.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Got it from Rachael

You are The High Priestess

Science, Wisdom, Knowledge, Education.

The High Priestess is the card of knowledge, instinctual, supernatural, secret knowledge. She holds scrolls of arcane information that she might, or might not reveal to you. The moon crown on her head as well as the crescent by her foot indicates her willingness to illuminate what you otherwise might not see, reveal the secrets you need to know. The High Priestess is also associated with the moon however and can also indicate change or fluxuation, particularily when it comes to your moods.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

This is so, so, so me.

Also took the Nine Muses quiz, according to which I am Calliope, Muse of Epic Poetry. I'm honestly not much for poetry, and I sound more like a rusty gate than a blackbird when I sing, but maybe Calliope does give me a discreet nudge now and then when it comes to the pleasures of the paper and pen. :P

Friday, October 26, 2007

A Bit More Autumn Whimsy

It's cold and rainy, I couldn't find the Bisquick, and I wanted something warm.

Cheddar-Pepper Biscuits:
  • 1.75 c flour
  • 2.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/3 c grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 c soy milk
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Whisk the dry ingredients together to aerate, then cut the butter in until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the cheese and fluff things so the cheese is coated with flour; gradually add the milk and stir until everything is well incorporated. Drop heaping spoonfuls on a greased cookie sheet and bake on the middle oven rack at 450 for 10 to 12 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

More Autumn Whimsy

Finally got busy with crayons and graph paper, and this is the result. Depending on what gauge you feel like working with, this could easily be used for either socks or a sweater, or even a scarf. Take it, use it, share it. Just make sure to show me pictures of what you do with it! Oh.. and don't forget to cite your sources like good little kiddies. :P

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Monday, October 22, 2007

A bit of auntumn whimsy

It's just the time of year, I guess, that makes me do silly things. The weather is cooling off (not really, but it's supposed to be), the smell of autumn is in the air, the leaves are turning, and it's just that much closer to the end of the year. We got a glass pumpkin, which was supposed to be a candy dish, but I decided to turn it to other, better uses.... It's a very cooperative model, especially since the yarn is mostly in autumn hues. I think it looks better filled with yarn than it does with candy corn. Feel free to use the little icon-sized one, provided you save it first.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Chili and Socks

After many struggles and much fussing, and one broken needle--thank the goddess it was from a set of five needles and not a set of four--I've finished the first Nordic Lights sock. In case anyone decides to knit these, they are very small and narrow. I wear a size 8 shoe and it's a tight squeeze getting the heel over my foot; the pattern is probably written for a size 6. Anyway... pictures below.

Slow Burn Chili: You need a fairly big pot for this recipe...

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 tsp ground Chimayo chile (thank you, Zenia!)
  • 1 tsp ground Pasilla chile (thank you, mom)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 15 oz cans of diced tomatoes
  • 1 glug of red wine (not an exact measure, but I'm guessing it's about two ounces?)
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb dry pinto beans, cooked in about six cups of water (do this ahead of time and keep the liquid)
  • salt to taste

Over medium-high heat, heat the oil in a large pot and throw in the spices--this allows the flavors and smells to bloom because, according to Cooks Illustrated, most spices are oil soluble. Add the garlic and onion and cook until the onions are translucent. Add the meat and cook, stirring occasionally, until it's completely cooked through. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and stir until there aren't any lumps of tomato paste left. Let the mix simmer over medium heat for about 20 minutes, then turn off the heat. If you've already cooked your beans ahead of time--they take a lot longer than the meat does--add the meat/tomato mixture to the bean pot and stir to make sure everything is evenly distributed. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally to keep it from sticking, then remove from heat and serve.

Makes a nice complement to the cornbread, especially with a blob of sour cream on top, or some grated cheese.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Mountaineers need their mountains....

Or they won't be mountaineers anymore.

Ultimately, it affects all of us. The mountains don't grow back the way replanted trees do, so consider the implications. It doesn't matter what faith you are, or what your beliefs are, but it does matter that there are people who do care and who are concerned about what's happening. Many thanks to Mr. Moyers and his staffers for permitting me to link to the archived transcript and movie.

Montani Semper Liberi.

Buttonish Business

Just 'cause I felt like being geeky for a good cause. And, yes, I will be knitting at least one scarf for these guys. Expect a pattern at some point. Not sure whether it'll be before or after that Evil Ambition sweater, or even if it'll be at the same time, but it will happen. Oooh.. the Evil Ambition Sweater.. that sounds like an interesting name for it. Now I just have to finish up those Nordic Lights socks, which will probably be on hold until I get my needles from KnitPicks. Maybe I should consider getting some nifty yarn while I'm at it.

Oh. And happy almost-Samhain.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Ambitious... and nuts

I'm nuts to even consider this, but my yarn stash is making noises that I can't completely ignore. It's whispering about the lace weight merino yarn I got from knitpicks a while back, and about what can be done with said yarn. It's whispering about sweaters. Granted, lace weight yarn is probably better used for fuzzy shawls, or doubled and used for socks; it's still whispering about sweaters. This is a puzzle to which I shall apply myself after I finish puzzling out the stripey foot of that Nordic Lights sock.
I've hit a snag, which I mentioned in my response to Rachael's comment: My little Brittany birch needles are too short to do what I need to do. It's a problem, but it gives me an excuse to consider ordering some of those nifty new wooden Harmony DPNs from KnitPicks. There's a further problem, though, because apparently the demand for the needles has been so unexpectedly high that the company has run out... and they won't be in stock until 22nd of October. I'd so hoped to finish the socks by then! Doesn't look like I'll be able to do that, though--especially since I do need longer needles.
The other problem is a purely technical one: I have yet to figure out how the needles are numbered for the heel gusset, which makes it a hell of a lot harder to do the stripe pattern. Of course, I could just finish the sock with a plain foot and just work the snowflake diagram and the toe according to pattern and completely ignore the stripes. At present I'm considering it a frustrating challenge, mostly because I really would like to figure out how to finish the sock without taking any shortcuts. On the other hand, I'd really like to finish the sock... and then finish the other sock. Not because I want to get it over with, but because I really want to be able to wear them! I know, I know... they'll be under shoes, which means no one will actually be able to see them. That doesn't matter, though, because I'll know they're there.
And I still need to figure out my holiday knitting schedule. I know of one person who's destined for mittens, and I know what I'm doing for one other person, but that still leaves a few people to plan for. Somewhere along the line, I'll be working on ideas for this lace weight sweater.. assuming I don't decide to double the yarn and do it as fingering weight, which--using the requisite small sized needles--could easily take F O R E V E R.
See why I said it sounds nuts?

Dammit.. I broke one of my teeny-tiny little Brittany needles. Now I really do need to order some from KnitPicks.

Cornbread's a-poppin'

Another comfort food post. Not for me, this batch of cornbread, but for mom who's suffering sinus nastiness due to the amount of leaf mold and ragweed pollen floating around; while cornbread doesn't seem like comfort food to me, it's what she asked for, so here it is.

Comforting Cornbread:
1 cup cornmeal
1.5 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup skim milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup frozen corn, thawed and rinsed

1. In a mixing bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and move one the racks to the centermost position.
2. In a food processor, mix milk, eggs, brown sugar, butter, sour cream, and corn; pulse for a few seconds until things are evenly distributed, but make sure you don't overdo it, 'cause you still want corn kernels to be lumpy.
3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and fold until the ingredients are combined and moist. 4. Turn the mixture out into an 8x8, greased baking pan and bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Out and About

Today was just so gorgeous: blue skies, sunlight, cooler air, the clouds of dust rising from the local soybean fields as harvesters go to and fro...
Between rounds of Nordic Lights sock, I drove mom around the countryside so she could take pictures of the landscape and other things, including combines harvesting fields of soybeans. Here be pictures:

And here be sock:

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Struthio camelus mortuus est

"Miserere Dominus, miserere Dominus, Struthio camelus mortuus est."

On Halloween of 2006, in a field in San Mateo County, Gaylord was taken from us when a pair of youths decided it would be fun to pester a dignified gentleman of middle years. Hatched in 1996, Gaylord attended Half Moon Bay Arts Academy and later went on to earn an applied arts degree in modern dance through the prestigious Ostrich Correspondence School, located in Los Angeles.
Well known for his curmudgeonly demeanor, Gaylord will be remembered for his grace and artistic approach to life, as well as the way he cared for his home and family, and for his love of local produce. A frequent shopper at the farmer's market, he was most often seen browsing through bins of tomatoes, apples, and brussles sprouts, which he greatly enjoyed sharing with his family.
Gaylord is survived by his two spouses, Apple and Tomato.
A memorial service is planned for November 10 at 1 PM, at St. James Cemetery; a small gathering will be held at the home of Apple and Tomato immediately following the service. Anyone wishing to honor Gaylord's memory may do so by making contributions to the Gaylord Memorial Fund.

Note: This obituary is in not meant to be offensive in any way. Sincere condolences and apologies to Tomato, Apple, their caretaker, and, of course, Gaylord. And shame, shame, shame on the young men who killed him! Further proof that gun control is indeed an excellent idea.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Bagel Bread

What with boiling, cornmeal, shaping, and egg wash, baking bagels is a fairly labor intensive process. It's definitely worth the trouble if you feel like going through all the steps, but if you're a bit shorter on time and energy, it's possible to get good bread using bagel dough.

Basic Bagel Recipe:
3 cups all purpose flour
1.5 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 packet dry active yeast
1 cup hot water (120 degrees) plus about an ounce to adjust the consistency
1 egg white mixed with a little water (optional)
sesame seeds (optional)

1. Mix the dry ingredients--including yeast--in a large bowl; whisk to make sure everything is distributed evenly.
2. In a measuring cup, place the maple syrup and oil. Pour in the hot water and stick a candy thermometer in, just to make sure the temp is where it needs to be. When the temp reaches 120, begin adding the liquid to the flour mixture and start mixing. I cheat and take advantage of Davros' dough hook, thus eliminating all the kneading and mixing.
Note: Bagel dough is sticky by nature, so don't panic if it seems stickier than normal bread dough.
3. When the dough is completely mixed, shape it into a ball and put it in an oiled bowl to rise. Make sure to cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean dishcloth. Let it sit for about an hour before you punch it down.
4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and punch down the dough. Shape it according to the dimensions of your bread pan, which you'll want to grease lightly with either cooking spray or a little bit of vegetable oil (not too much...). Put the dough in the pan and cover with the plastic wrap so it can rest for about 15 minutes or so.
5. Mix the egg white with water and use it to paint the top of the loaf, then sprinkle with sesame seeds (or whatever you happen to prefer).
6. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes, then let it cool in the pan before you turn it out.


Monday, October 8, 2007


You appear to be a Knitting Guru. You love knitting and do it all the time. While finishing a piece is the plan, you still love the process, and can't imagine a day going by without giving some time to your yarn. Packing for vacation involves leaving ample space for the stash and supplies. It can be hard to tell where the yarn ends and you begin.
Take this quiz!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Snowflake Cardigan Pattern (finally finished)

It's turning into a big deal, this cardigan thing. So far I'm pretty pleased with the progress I'm making, even though the pattern is still in its beta-testing stage; I'm leaning on Ann Budd's "The Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns" quite a bit, which helps. Set-in sleeves aren't particularly difficult, but there's some seaming involved--at the shoulders and along the sides, as well as making the sleeve seams before you attach the sleeves to the rest of the sweater. Oh.. and buttons, of course. Sleeves are optional, especially if you're after the oh-so-stealthy sweater-vest critter.

Snowflake Cardigan- 48" chest

Size 8 circular needles 32"; size 8 circular needles 60" to pick up those stitches 'round the front
Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Winter Night- 20 balls (MC)-- or whatever worsted weight wool yarn you care to substitute
Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Cloud- 1 ball (CC)-- same as above: substitutions welcome and encouraged, as long as it's worsted
Stitch markers
Row counter
Tapestry needle
Some safety pins to help with seams
6 buttons

Gauge- 5 st/inch

Back: CO 120 stitches. Work in 2x2 rib for two inches, then switch to stst and work for one inch. Work Fair Isle pattern with CC for nine rows, then switch back to MC and work evenly in stst until piece measures 16" from CO edge. Place markers to indicate beginning of armhole edges and continue working until armholes measure 11". BO all sts and place markers to indicate first and last 40 st.

Left Front: CO 60 stitches. Work in 2x2 rib for 2 inches, then switch to stst and work for one inch. Work Fair Isle pattern with CC, then resume working with MC until piece measures 16" from CO edge. PM to indicae beginning of armhole edge, then work until armhole measures 3". Decrease 1 st at neck edge (end of every RS row) 17 times; then dec. 1 st every 4 rows 3 times-- 40 stitches remain. Work evenly in stst until piece measures the same length as the back (27 inches from CO edge), then BO all sts.

Right Front: CO 60 sts. Work in 2x2 rib for 2 inches, then switch to stst and work for one inch. Work Fair Isle pattern with CC, then resume working with MC until piece measures 16" from CO edge. PM to indicae beginning of armhole edge, then work until armhole measures 3". Decrease 1 st at neck edge (beginning of every WS row) 17 times; then dec. 1 st every 4 rows 3 times-- 40 stitches remain. Work evenly in stst until piece measures the same length as the back (27 inches from CO edge), then BO all sts.

Sleeves: Make two. CO 54 stitches and work 1x1 rib for 2 inches. Start working in stst and increase 1 stitch at the beginning and end of the needle every 2 rows three 3 times. (This gives you 60 stitches.) Then increase 1 stitch at the beginning and end of every needle every 4 rows 30 times. (This gives you 120 stitches). Continue working evenly--if necessary--until piece measures 22 1/2 inches. BO all stitches and cut yarn, leaving a tail that's about three feet long; you can use this to sew up the seam. Turn the work so the wrong side is facing out and safety pin the edges together. Thread the tapestry needle with the long tail and use this to stitch up the seam, and weave in the end of the tail. Do this for both sleeves.

Finishing: Here's the tricky part. I always hate picking up stitches; some people recommend using needles that are a couple sizes smaller to do it.
Button band-With the right side of the work facing you, start at the left-hand side of the neckline and pick up stitches all the way around the edge of the neckline and all the way down the right-hand edge (left front edge if you're knitting this for a woman). Work six rows of garter stitch and BO.

Note: If you want to do 2x2 ribbing, make sure to count carefully so that you have a number that's a multiple of 4.

Buttonhole band: Start picking up stitches the same way you did for the button band (this will be the left front edge for a man's sweater); this time it'll be from the bottom left end of the neckline.
Row 1- knit all stitches
Row 2- knit all stitches
Row 3- knit all stitchs, placing markers at intervals of 2.5" starting from the bottom edge. There should be 6 markers.
Row 4- *knit to marker, YO, k2tog. Repeat this for all the markers, then knit to the end of the row. The YO will give you a hole to use as a buttonhole.
Row 5- knit all stitches.
Row 6- BO all stitches and cut the yarn, leaving a tail about six inches long.
Use your tapestry needle and the tail to stitch up the gap between the end of the neck edge and the top of the buttonhole band.
Sew on the buttons at the appropriate spots on the button band, block the finished sweater, and enjoy it when the weather gets cold. Don't forget to sew a few pieces of yarn somewhere discreet, just in case your sweater decides it needs to have worn places repaired.

If anyone tries this and spots any problems that I've missed somewhere along the way, please let me know!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Chicken Noodle Soup

1 package boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded into small pieces
6 cups chicken stock (rough guess.. you can probably use more if you want to make a bigger batch)
1 1/2 tsp sea salt (IF you think it needs it; canned stock is probably salty enough as it is)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 sprigs rosemary
2 cloves garlic, smashed
4 oz sliced mushrooms
4 oz sliced carrots
4 oz green pepper, cut into small pieces
8 oz mini penne pasta
fresh parmesan cheese for grating over the bowls when you're ready to serve it.

1. Put the chicken stock, salt, pepper, rosemary, garlic, and shredded chicken in a large pot and bring to a simmer.
2. Add the carrots and pasta, and let cook until the pasta is almost cooked through, then add the rest of the vegetables. Continue cooking until the vegetables are tender and the pasta is completely cooked.

Pumpkin Bread

Another recipe courtesy of the Tae-bean; once again, it's been tweaked and things have been added/substituted. I had fun making it, and even more fun eating it with some pumpkin ice cream. In my opinion there's no such thing as pumpkin overload. :P I'm looking forward to trying this again after the fairytale pumpkin finds its way to the blender.

4 cups of flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
15 oz can pumpkin puree
1/4 tsp chai spices (my own mix of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch cayenne pepper
2 cups cider, reduced to 1/2 cup
1 oz rum
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup raisins

  1. Let the cider simmer over medium heat until it's reduced to 1/2 cup, then set it aside to cool.

  2. Mix flour, spices, salt, nuts, and raisins in a large bowl and set aside.

  3. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, pumpkin puree, oil, rum, brown sugar, and cider until completely smooth.

  4. Combine flour mixture and pumpkin mixture, divide into four small loaf pans (or two full-sized ones).
  5. Bake at 350 for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.