Saturday, July 29, 2006


I'm making progress on the shawl edging, which is rawther exciting (for me. Boring as all get-out for you guys)(except some of you)(who I just love!)(yes, you, Erica). Voila:

The teensy niggling smidgen of doubt here is that I think this may not be big enough. I do plan to block the daylights out of it, but still, there are limits. Ah, well. It's a learning experience. Ignore the sound of grinding teeth there.

Youngest child and dh and I made our way to the Lowell Folk Festival, where we planned to wander and perhaps meet up with people, knitters and homeschoolers and whatnot, like you do. I hadn't planned very well, and I've never been to this thing before, and I thought how hard can it be to find whatever that gallery was? Answer: more so than one might think. Not as humid, 92 F, pretty much baking-on-cars weather, and poor little dude was so badly affected that he threw up his lemonade. Also his lunch. A very kind festival volunteer directed us to a "cooling station", where little dude got misted with water and felt a nice breeze, and was able to make it back to the car. So that was the end of that.

Seeing as it was absurdly hot but not as absurdly hot as it could have been, I embarked on a Fabulous Cookery Adventure. What I did was make most of the meal in the current Martha Stewart magazine "What to Have for Dinner" section. This is one of my absolute favorite things about the magazine-- a complete meal, including a suggested schedule for prep, so I could have the presence of mind to see that some of the fresh lemon juice would go in the crab cakes and some would go in the nectarine shortcakes. Ditto unsalted butter. The timing estimate is laughable - "prep time: 5 minutes" my aunt fanny! - but if I start before it's actually dinner time, I have a shot at having food ready before 9 pm. I checked the cupboard and fridge to see what stuff I needed, made a list, remembered to bring the list with me to Market Basket--ooo, it was t'riffic (spoken a la Anna Russell).

The only thing missing really was some fruity light summer wine, but we managed. The Maine crabmeat at the supermarket turned out to be very good. I made "zesty" (translation: includes pickled jalapenos) crab cakes. I made some weird raddichio kinda cole slaw stuff (look, ma! I actually bought raddichio!). I made nectarine shortcake. I even made a pork chop for little dude, who was not gonna touch no crab cakes, no indeed. There is a LOT left. The instructions say, serves 4, and those 4 would need to be pretty damn hungry. I did not go for the "quick picked okra," as I was born without the okra gene. Hurray, real dinner! I can't remember the last time I made a real meal. Whoo hoo.

I do make smoothies all summer. I save bananas in the freezer (after I take the peels off) when they're past the "kid will eat" stage, which is as you know far too fleeting, and use 'em at will. I keep the same ziplock bag in the freezer being constantly replenished and used. Anyhow, two frozen overripe bananas, some apple juice (the varietal kind that tastes like actual apples), and whatever other fruit I have lying around--frozen raspberries (WAY cheap at Market Basket), mango chunks, strawberries, blueberries, whatever. Throw it all in the blender and go. A splash of rum wouldn't be a bad idea.

One more foodie thing: kid project! Ice cream making! In two ziplock bags! You take a gallon ziplock bag (after removing the sock in progress first), fill it halfway with ice (thank you, icemaker), put a cup of half and half mixed with some sugar and vanilla (2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 t. vanilla) into a small ziplock bag (after removing the stitch markers), put some kosher salt into the bag with the ice, seal up the creamy stuff in the smaller bag, put the small bag into the big bag and seal the big bag, and shake it up for a while! And you're making ice cream! Whee!

And THANK YOU so much for the congrats, Jena (and Dave) and Erica and Lynne and Lucia and Anne (have a good trip!). I feel weird seeing my stuff in print, still, and relieved that they always manage to make the pieces look really good in the pictures (better than they look in the flesh, anyway). Thank you.

Dh has been very busy learning how to blog lately, and being the technical guru that he is, he's set me up with a domain name of my very own (which I have not the least idea how to use yet) and is sampling the various blog hosting things besides Blogger. He is not too keen on Blogger, apparently. He wants to post samples of code and demonstrations of what the code does, and html editors that muck around with his stuff have been making him cross. Ah, yes, the point: I may be migrating the blog to a "crazed weasel dot com" place. The drama just never ends.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Mucking about in boats, er, knitting

Another lovely Wed. night, another fun couple of hours hanging around with some really nifty knitters. I'm feeling very lucky today. Thanks for putting up with me, folks.

When I got home, I did some more fooling around with the edging for my Almanac-a-long shawl. Yes, the February one. Shhh. It's the sort of leisurely, noodling knitting that feels just right for summer time. EZ's technique for this piece is really fun. I kept on going with it until I thought it'd block out to be a big enough shawl, and then did the bit where she says, quite suddenly and without warning, cast on another 5 stitches, and then work those as if nothing unusual has happened. It's a perfectly charming way to end without having to fuss with a bind-off. You just work those extra stitches in garter stitch, and every time you get to the spot where the next live stitch is back on the main body of the shawl, you k2tog with the end stitch of your garter stitch edge. Et Voila! Fun stuff. I had arranged things so that my k2tog happened on the wrong side, which of course leaves one with the bumps on the right side. Which for some reason I accepted as My Fate, at least for a few inches, and then--the duh moment. Oh, yeah. I could just .... not do that. Yeah. Uh, okay. Truly, I can't wait to wash the yucky machine oil out of this yarn and block the bejeezus out of it and see how it looks.

Here's step-by-step on the knitting of the edging:

And here's how it looks so far:

Thw whole enterprise reminds me of The Wind in the Willows, for some reason. Ratty heartily recommends messing around with boats, as I would knitting, really. And this is relaxed knitting I'm up to. And, well, there is the weasel connection, after all. I have a persistent mental block about the name of the author; I always think it's Graham Greene, and of course it's not, it's Kenneth Grahame. The edition I read as a child had a green cover, and "Grahame" on the spine, so my twisted little mind goes, oh of course green + Grahame.

I have a fantasy about keeping a pre-packed picnic basket like Ratty's in the book, for slinging into the car or just grabbing for random picnics. He's got pie, and jars of pickles, and cheese, plus all kinds of other stuff that I wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole like sardines BLEH and cruelly hot mustard BLEH and anchovy paste BLEH BLEH BLEH. But the idea just captivates me, somehow.

I imagine I'd pack something exotic and marvelous to eat if I were to go to Burning Man (which The Tattoo Queen is, the intrepid dear lady). And for me, any excuse to plan great food, well, I'm there.

Reality? Well, DH would be beyond miserable, to the point of turning weird colors, no doubt, as would the children, and probably I'd forget Something Very Important. You know, like you do when you're trying to really not forget anything. Imagining it, though, ah! that's about right, at this particular time and place. We had an interesting attempt at Tanglewood last Friday night, which I DID pack great food for. But last Friday? More lightning than I've ever seen in my life. Monsoon rains. AND enough traffic to delay us an hour. So, sayonara, Mozart Birthday Celebration and stuff. And we'll try again another day. When it's not raining, preferably.

Ooo. One last thing: Interweave arrived today! And um, well, lookit page 75, y'all:

That's my design, that is. Pleased as punch weasel. A nice surprise.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Hello again

My goodness, how time flies when you're running back to back twenty hour disk repairs.

The hard drive on my beloved Powerbook is well and truly hosed. The web browser and internet connectivity still works, though, so I'm a lot less grumpy about it than I would be otherwise. DH, being the computer guru that he is, suggested we buy an external drive, back up everything, and replace the internal drive. So I'm the proud and pleased mom of this (it's very cute, isn't it?):

Other news of the week: The extra fabric from the re-do of our chairs is at last here! I'm surprised by how much of it there is. I think a couple of pillows, don't you? any other suggestions? There's a lot. Maybe a panel of the paisley-ish thing? I do have a spare freestanding screen that is currently sporting fabric panels out of muslin; maybe replace that with some of this? Or is that too much?

On the knitting front, I still haven't frogged the messed up sleeves on DH's Dale. I've made good progress on the leaf cardi. The dye-o-rama sock is alas too short; some overly enthusiastic toe decreases happened, um, somehow. Nifty news was that CE called and wanted me to come in and help with some designs. I didn't submit anything, mind you; I'm trying to figure out what the hell I'm doing a bit more, you may recall. But I went in and had a very nice meeting on Tuesday and we came up with some ideas that they kinda liked. So I'm swatching and procrastinating doing some schematics, again, like I do.

It's a good thing. whee!

DD#2 is off for three weeks of summer sleep-away program today. She's so excited! really! this! is! just! so! great! and! goingtobesomuchfunohmygosh!

The homeschooling coop activity this week has been irritating in a way that necessitated me sending a terse email to someone to BACK OFF. I have noticed that when a person who isn't actually my boss tries to order me around, I get white-hot angry, pretty much every time. This has happened once or twice before; back when I was chair of the fincom, the school committee chair would try it on me once in a while. Incendiary results. Not good. I was thinking yesterday, when have I been pissed off in this precise way before? And it hit me: oh, yeah! it's when somebody who has no authority tries to assert it! oh, yeah! The snarling, sharp-toothed variety of crazed weasel is now resting back in her lair.

Monday, July 17, 2006


Dear Daughter #1 is now safely ensconced (as far as we know) at her summer thing for 3 weeks. The Weasel is home again (zap! I didn't mention I'd even be gone!). Saratoga Springs is staggeringly beautiful - even the kid was saying, OMG! Look at that! She's not known for her sensitivity to nineteenth century architecture, so I consider this a big deal.

In the air conditioning at the hotel in Albany was the only knitting of the last couple of days. Today, it's around a hundred degrees, so I've decided to finally do the baking! Yes! This would be the most deranged possible choice, so it was (QED) what I got up to this afternoon. The cherry-pineapple-brown sugar loaf is in the oven as I type.

I futzed with the recipe, to adapt a bit and convert the "self-rising flour" part - thanks, Janey! - and also I'm using fresh cherries rather than the horrible candied ones (not that I'm biased or anything) The recipe, as pledged:

(Note: You will need a kitchen scale for this.)

Mixed dried fruit (I used dried cherries and dried pears, chopped) - 225 grams
Turbinado sugar (this is a granular light brown sugar) - 110 g
Butter - 75 g
Flour (The Regular Kind, dammit) - 175 g
1 1/2 teaspoons baking POWDER (YMMV - if your powder is a little old, maybe a bit more)
Salt - a big pinch
2 eggs, beaten
Canned pineapple chunks - small can (7 1/2 oz. can in original, we have 8 oz. cans here - go for the extra half ounce and damn the torpedos)
Fresh cherries, pitted and halved - 50 g (this is about 8 cherries) (and yes, I have a cherry pitter and love it)
Dried shredded coconut - 50 g

Put the mixed dried fruit into a large bowl and cover with boiling water; let soak for about 15 minutes (set the timer, you'll forget otherwise). Put sugar and butter in a saucepan and heat gently until melted. Drain the dried fruit and stir it in, and cook for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Transfer to mixing bowl and let cool completely (this will take rather a while).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. "Line a 900g (2 lb) loaf tin." (I had no idea what to make of this size and went with one of my grandma's loaf tins - it's about 9 x 5 x 3 - and sprayed it with Pam.)

Sift the flour, salt, and baking powder together. Stir into the fruit/butter/sugar mixture. Add the eggs, pineapple, cherries, and coconut and mix thoroughly. "Transfer to the prepared tin and level the surface." (No translation needed and rather charmingly put, I thought)

Bake for 50 - 60 minutes. When a toothpick comes out clean, it's done.

Cool and eat!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Happy Bastille Day! Also knitting. Again with the knitting.

I still haven't been able to bring myself to frog the sleeve bits on dh's Dale. It's just too maddening. What I have been able to do is cast on the sleeves for the leaf cardigan, and also work a bit more on it, and I noticed the other day that Hey! I am almost done with the body! This comes as a surprise. I'd on some level resigned myself to this project just continuing without end until the last syllable of recorded time, lighting fools the way to dusty...WIPs.

The photo of the finished piece from the pattern is there, and the teeny beginning of the sleeves (at the same time, on two circs. To do otherwise will make me berserk. More so than usual.) It finally dawned on me that I only have the band of leaves that I'm working on and one more to go before the body is done. Whoo hoo! The down side is that the last band is green-on-green. The last time I did this, I needed bright daylight to be able to tell one green from another. It was alarming. But that was months ago, so I should be fine this time. Just fine. Really.

The decorating project is approaching completion asymptotically. If your math is rusty, this means "infinitely curving toward, but never actually reaching, the asymptote line." We do have some lovely stained glass shutters, nice enough that I will show them to you:

Very pretty. They open and shut. There are a lot of them. They don't have handles, but that is a problem that I will address without the decorator's help, thank you very much. No doubt she would locate bejeweled $700 handles. I am certain these do not exist, but she would find a way. (Ask me about the $4,000 ottomans that we nipped in the bud. No, on second thought, don't ask me.)

My main new thing is that as of yesterday, my knees no longer hurt when I bend them. They have hurt for two years. They'd been painful, then I started exercising & they got better, then I stopped, then - pain. I've been doing a bit of exercise for several weeks now, and suddenly, yesterday morning, when I got out of bed it didn't hurt. It continued to not hurt all day long. It still doesn't hurt. I am giddy with delight. This makes knitting a lot more pleasant.

Thanks for your comments, Kat and sep. From Waiting for Godot: "What do you do when you fall far from help?" --"We wait until we can get up again. Then we go on. On!"

We'll just go on as best we can.

Happy day of overthrowing the monarchy, France! Happy summer, everybody!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Peace, or at least less death

Juan Cole has quietly challenged progressive bloggers to do what they can to aid Palestinians. UNRWA is the United Nations body struggling to feed and shelter refugees in the Occupied Territories. They have an emergency appeal going on right now. Click here to help if you wish to do so.

I do not wish to hear from you if you want to tell me that all Palestinians are terrorists or that they are somehow not human beings. I do not in any way condone terrorist acts of any kind. I also do not condone the current actions of the Israeli army. The situation has spiralled out of control. This has to stop. My heart breaks for all sides.

Peace. Let us all hope for a way out of the madness.

Back to knitting tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Of two minds

I've been taking some time to learn more about garment construction, fashion trends, and fool around. Mostly fool around. I didn't submit anything to anybody this summer. I did have a project go into the latest issue of Knit Simple (the magazine formerly known as FCEK), but it was a deal between the yarn company and the magazine, and there was very little about the design that was my idea, what with them sending me what yarn to use and all. The magazine arrived (I subscribe), and I even got another specially express-shipped copy from the publisher today (presumably as a contributor?), but nowhere does it say anything about me doing anything. The project is paired with somebody else's much nicer stuff, and I hereby apologize to Kathy for creating the thing covering up her simple, elegant shell and skirt set. It's kind of a drag not to get credit, but on the other hand, this is not a piece that any of you are going to go, oh wow! about. Except maybe on You Knit What.

Ahem. How to put any of this tactfully...that's about as well as I can do it: No byline bad, but I'm completely okay with that.

No pics today; the knitting progress is too minute to be observed by the naked eye. I took a break from endless disk repair - which I've spent the last five days on, incidentally; apparently my Powerbook has horrendous life-threatening disk spotty-ness and must lie down rather than, oh, print, or open my email program. I can get email on the web, but can't access any mail dating from July 3rd or before. So I have approximately zero email addys, guys. Which bites. It also decided that I, mere foolish mortal, do not have permission to install anything, or even install updates to already installed software. This is a privilege reserved for my laptop's new imaginary friend (oh, yes, it has one).

ANYWAY, what I did for hours instead was clear away teetering piles of crap from surfaces in the kitchen. Old magazines, bank statements, god knows what; all gone. Mostly. I saved some stuff, but the organizer trays that never seem to organize anything at all and merely serve as a large area in which to store more piles of crap? Those are almost all gone. I so rock. I have counter space again. Words cannot describe the tranquility and fulfillment this brings me.

I was feeling so tranquil that I thought to myself, hey, this is a semblance of the order and harmony that Julie seems to inhabit. I may even bake tomorrow. Oh! One of the things I found and did not toss was a 2000 Dairy Diary, this little calendar book put out by my mother-in-law's milkman's company (I'll wait for everyone to catch up, there)(good). It is otherwise really useless, obviously, but it has Food Porn. Recipes. Ah. I had forgotten. Brown sugar tea loaf with cherries and pineapple and coconut. Oh, my. Pictures of cream teas. Sigh. Cheeses of Britain! Be still, my heart!

Stop me if you've heard this before: I decided I would knit a little tiny bit on each of the projects in progress and get to all of them today, even if just a little, and that way I will finish them all before September. I buried the Dale sleeves that I have to frog back a bit in this list of other, innocuous knitting. All set! I got me a list! I am Organized, people! Outa my way, I'm being Sane about this For Once! Yeah!

Guess which thing I magically didn't get around to?

You see how I can out-think myself? Dammit! I did, however, do some on the Almanac-a-long shawl (yes that was for February, shh), Spring Forward, the dye-o-rama sock (nearly at the toe), the leaf cardigan, and I even cast on the sleeves and got a few rounds in for said cardigan. And, oh, dear, look at the time. Time to pack up the knitting for today. La la la.

The foul-up was not because anybody was being distracting at Javaroom last week, you guys - Lynne, not you, or the offspring, or anything. I was having a weird week and was pretty antisocial that evening. No, it was my own incandescent overthinking that struck yet again, burning so brightly that I was blinded to all else but What Seemed Like A Good Idea at the Time.

Oh, yeah! Friday! I liked the new Pirates movie a whole bunch, and especially liked meeting some of the significant others, so thanks again, Jena, and see you soon, folks, I hope.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Insert Bad Words Here

So there I was, merrily knitting along on the sleeves at Javaroom in the company of a whole skank of knitters. Really, it was spiffing. (hi, everybody!) This morning, I resumed work on them, since I couldn't go back to sleep and the children (at least the ones who were up) had already eaten breakfast.

Anything amiss? Anything coming to mind? No? Well, notice that the little bits of yarn sticking out, indicating the beginning of the round at the bottom of the work, are on one side. And the little bits of yarn indicating that the Weasel has begun her round at the top of the work, just after completing the fricking "increase at the beginning and end of every 4th round while centering the pattern and keeping the pattern correct and also increase 11 sts evenly on the first of those rows and also change needle sizes" - okay? this was not a fun process! - those little bits of yarn. Those are at the other end of the needle. Yes, I have managed to start my rounds at the wrong end. I now have beautifully centered patterning on one end and skanky increases on the other end, two different ways. There really is no way this will not be noticeable. These are cuffs. These are actually among the most noticeable parts of the whole damn sweater.

I am going to have to frog.

I am so traumatized that I could not hold my hands very steady, so the picture is kinda blurry despite many attempts - this is the best one, folks. Sorry about that. I think I need to go back to another piece of knitting, because I can't face this one any more today.


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Swoon. Thud.

Oh, boy! It's done it's done it's done! The malabrigo (swoon) (thud) - what was I talking about? OH YEAH! I finally finished the sewing up - no small feat when it's so freaking hot that yarn felts as you touch it. Not this particular yarn, of course; this particular yarn can do no wrong. It is The Best Yarn Ever. This week, anyhow. I am so damn proud of myself - I was guessing on the sleeve cap shaping and it came out just dandy. I so rock. Behold! (Yes, I will be bringing it to knitting, and everything else for the next million years, whether you want me to or not) I used six skeins. With about half a skein of #6 left over, so I now have four skeins extra. This is some seriously good yardage.

Other news: DD#2 has been throwing up, every so often. We're thinking, maybe sudden lactose intolerance? or something? She never has liked ice cream, so doesn't eat that, in fact the only dairy we reliably get into her is chocolate milk, so we've been trying the lactose-free kind. So far, so good. Unless it's a virus. Anyhow, the barfing has been pretty interesting. Good morning darling, do you feel like you're going to throw up? No? Oh, good.

Wed. I got to spent Four Goddam Hours Driving My Darling Children. The two older ones are planning this spectacular costumed thing for Anime Boston next year, and they're meeting and scheming and sketching and oh, it's so involved you would think I was making it up. (I'm not.) So, an hour drive to the house where all this is taking place, drive back home, drive to pick them up, drive back. Four Goddam Hours. Please tell me this counts as points off purgatory. Or something. Perhaps in my next life I will be a winged horse and not have to deal with any of this PLUS get to go wherever I want really really fast. This was what I was doing instead of knitting at Javaroom. Pout.

My cousin called and is having a spectacularly horrible divorce, I learned. As in, rat of husband screwing around while ostensibly up here in Boston area to settle the estate of my cousin's deceased mother. With baby son in attendance. Ewwwww. Ah, the many ways of expressing the concept, "Asshole." She just wanted to know if it was okay to call for emotional support now and then, since I've been through my own grotesquely horrible divorce. Well, of course. Hang in there. It does end. It does get better. You do not in fact die from this.

Hm - transition to something fluffy. Oh! Pirates of the Caribbean 2 is coming out! Whee! Can't wait! I'm going to try and get there for the group outing Friday - probably with all three kids and husband in tow.

The dye-o-rama pal yarn is knitting up nicely. I'm at present trying to decide what kind of heel I want. Here it is:

Last but not least, some discernable progress on the sleeves for DH's Hardangervidda. Look. It's going fine, now that I've found my other 3.5mm circular so that I can work without wanting to curse every few stitches. Anybody want a whole bunch of Inox circs? I'm gradually realizing that I hate working with them every single time I pick them up. The pattern for this sweater (yes, it's the same one Yarn Harlot made for the Olympics) requires three different needle sizes. It is unfortunately not altogether clear or consistent when one uses these. Well, it does say to use the 2.5 mm for the bit that gets turned under and sewn for the hem, and 3.5 mm for some of the colorwork, but for some reason the sleeve instructions differ from the body instructions as to what size one uses for the colorwork and the stockinette and the "broken rib" section. No, this is not a sweater that does grievous bodily harm, "broken rib" is "ribbing that gets interrupted." And I am making an Executive Decision, having spent the better part of an hour digging around and thinking and sewing up the last bit of my entrelac cushion (see pictures! ain't it grand?)

before finally finding my other 3.5mm needle. I noticed once I was making merry progress on the two 3.5mm's that I was in fact supposed to be using 3mm. Unlike the colorwork on the body, which is 3.5mm. This makes no sense to me at all. So screw that. It would probably be wise for me to be doing the ribbing on the smaller 3mm needles, but frankly this sweater has already taken way longer than it should have and I have not the faintest idea if I will be able to find the 3mm needles without a huge amount of trouble, and y'know, I think it is not going to make that much difference. Here it is:

Italy beat Germany today. Tomorrow, it's France vs. Portugal and that gorgeous Ronaldo guy. England are out of it, and I will just gently remind readers that I predicted they'd go out on penalty kicks down one man who was ejected (red card). This is the way of the England team. It is what they do. It is Buckner and the ball between the legs. Sigh.

Thanks for the wishes and flattery, Erica and Tattoo Queen! Gee! I still think I should dye my hair green, but that could just be the menopause really kicking in. And thank you so much, Yarn Harpy; see you at some point this week, eh?

It's too hot. Happy Fourth.