Sunday, August 30, 2009

Back again

I'd like to put up a funny caption like, "Hey, who grabbed my hand?!" but Middle Daughter is actually settling into her new life at college. Here she is obviously very excited about getting some mail!

I ended up grabbing Mr. Daisy's Brown River Grass Gansey Sweater (a long hibernating aran sweater) as my traveling project and ended up adding about four inches. I think I will get to the new pattern portion in about two rounds of pattern. Then, upward and onward to the shoulders!

I also brought along my Road Not Taken Scarf for carry along knitting when we were at the parent meetings for new freshman.

I tried and tried to set up my Saturday Seven posting yesterday when we were on the road but something just wasn't working. I took the picture before we left - three pairs of shoes, a tee-shirt, two pairs of socks and a travel bag made the cut.

When we were leaving my relatives' house in Pennsylvania, we paused outside the wood pile. Look carefully and you'll see - nine turkeys. My brother in law didn't seem that interested in hunting them. He said he'd rather shoot the ones that walk by his bedroom window early in the morning and make a lot of noise!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Hey, is that . . . .

could it be?

Pudding? Home made chocolate pudding? Why, yes, yes, it is. Made from the recipe in Jane and Michael Stern's Square Meals : America's Favorite Comfort Cookbook. This is the world's best pudding recipe. Try it, you'll love it!

Everyone needs something to work towards and this was my reward for today's triathlon. Today's race was almost eight minutes faster than the last time I did this course. I'm thinking it was the pudding . . .

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ready for the storm

Well, not a real storm! It's just that I have my last triathlon of the season and its been really hard to work in training - what with getting ready to drive Middle Daughter to college next week. I'm thinking she will have to learn how to catch the bus if she wants to come home!

Anyway, I've been feeling over-stressed and undertrained. It makes me very crabby - although I try to keep it to myself - and that makes me mad because I actually really like doing triathlons. I like everything about them - except the competitive part. I know that I will be in the middle of the pack but I still worry if I've done enough.

And I already told Mr. Daisy that I'm making a big bowl of chocolate pudding tomorrow afternoon!

I looked through my own "out of season" box for this week's Saturday Seven.

Have you ever noticed that when you are on holiday, you make some unfortunate purchases? I bought these scottie-dog pajamas while travelling when I forgot to pack a pair. The tee-shirts - from the State Fair and vacation spots - and the hat came from a trip to Mexico. The white turtleneck was the only thing that was worn a lot.

MIddle Daughter's college is where my husband and I did our undergraduate degrees and it's quite near where we visited relatives for our vacation this summer. I was clearing photos off my camera and I found one that seemed appropriate.

This is what I'd like to be doing Sunday afternoon after my race! Right after that big bowl of chocolate pudding . . .

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday films with the muggles

All I can say is, those wizards must have big heads! I knit the smallest size and got gauge but I still had to make a seam in this Wizard Hat. Despite the inch taken in, the hat is a little roomy. He loved it anyway and ran all over the neighborhood with his hat and wand.

"Swish and flick, remember, swish and flick. And saying the magic words properly is very important too -"
-- Professor Flitwick

Here he is mixing up a potion. Perhaps a boil cure potion? Or a Hair-Raising Potion?

And casting a spell! "Aparecium!" says the boy wizard.

In honor of Harry Potter and little boys everywhere, tonight's Friday Film is - Harry Potter does BananaPhone!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Late again!

So, Wednesday was a bit of a rest day for me.

I was recovering from both being the last-minute entertainment at MKG on Tuesday night (okay, I knew I was going to talk about my experiences dyeing with madder root but I didn't know I was going to be the only one!) and my last heavy duty biking before the Saint Paul Triathlon on Sunday. I am not very good at tapering off before a race (today was swimming!) so I just took the day off.

I chose to spend it running errands and getting some back-to-school shopping done.

I bought two skeins of Panda Soy Sock Yarn at the Double Ewe Yarn Shop in Circle Pines. This is a little out of the way for me (it's in Circle Pines, MN) but I needed to drop off some material for the MKG and the color was just lovely. A deep, shiny (in a good way!) purple called Grape Soda. It's a present for Oldest Daughter - she very kindly took Youngest Boy to go see "G-Force" so I didn't have to go!

Afterward, I took her out to lunch and shopping at Kohl's in Roseville where we were detained for about 45 minutes thanks to the tornado warnings. At least we got to browse the "home" department while we were waiting . . . and we were safe.

Yesterday evening, I finished knitting Youngest Child's Wizard Hat but I need to go get some boneing to make it stand up.

I repeated a line or two of decreases so mine is a little more tapered than the original but I think it will be fine. Also, we picked up "The Tales of Beetle the Bard" to delve into after we get through "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets."

Today, we had a houseful of small children playing with trains, watching cartoons and playing Wii games because of the rainy weather. Two things made up for the dreadful weather:

The birds spent the day swinging on the plants in my garden. It was like a bird playground for a while but most left when I stepped outside to take the photo. Imagine a small brown bird swaying on each of the flower stems in my garden!

I got the first two ripe tomatoes from my garden! I have mostly yellow pear tomatoes as well as a few Lemon Boys for slicing.

I have a jungle out there with lots of green tomatoes but nothing else ripe enough to eat yet. I think the paste tomatoes will be ripe by next week - right when I'm out of town! - but they'll be fine for making tomato sauce the following weekend.

My belated Cool Wednesday items are pretty lightweight. Just the right kind of thing to cheer you up on a rainy day!

Wicked Halo has an article about the "Twisted Princesses" of artist Jeffrey Thomas. Now, I love "real" fairy tales and find the Disney versions pretty silly sometimes. These ones seem much less likely to need rescuing!

And I think I've mentioned Ysolda Teague's patterns before? No? Really, they are lovely, I hear the patterns are written well and her hedgehogs are absolutely adorable!

Monday, August 17, 2009

A little night life

wrecks all my intentions to get things posted on Saturday. Here's that rascally Saturday Seven. Snowsuits, snow pants, rain coats and sweaters - out, out, out!

First, friends stopped by and we drank wine on the porch. Then, the movies. After that, we were invited over to some friends' house for dinner. Tonight - a birthday dinner! Tomorrow, knitters' guild.

Will the fun never cease?

I've been also dogged by Youngest Child's demand for a wizard hat.

I'm still working on it but Mr. Daisy did create a rather "rustic" wand out of a dowel rod. He says it's for "Harry of Appalachia."

I don't mind knitting it but I'd rather go see "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince." That's what we saw (again) on Saturday because "Julie & Julia" was sold out. I am also listening to "HP & the HBP" on audiobook and I've been fleshing out the movie story line for Mr. Daisy. He's never read any of the books - amazing.

Anyway, the "real" wands shown in the film are quite elaborate and require a lathe. Oddly enough, the one tool Mr. Daisy does not have down in the basement!

I've also been putting together a slide show about my dyeing experiments for our next Minnesota Knitters' Guild meeting (This tuesday, 7 p.m., Textile Center of Minnesota! Come one, come all!) which will be all about natural dyeing.

I think my own slideshow will be better but here's a quick Flickr viewing:

I'm a bit worried - I'm just a beginner! - but it should be fun. Just don't keep your mordanting solution on your porch. Oldest Daughter came home from college and said, "Oh, good - apple cider!"

She's never been a label reader . . .

Friday, August 14, 2009

Technically not Friday?

Maybe - but we had some friends stop by unexpectedly and after a lovely evening out on the porch, trying out some new wine, I can only do so much. I've pulled out the last batch of yarn from the dye pot and I'll post some pictures of the process tomorrow! I am knitting but it's totally silly knitting - a wizard hat for Youngest Child. Tomorrow, Mr. Daisy has to make a wand for him!

We weren't doing this on the front porch but I would if I could:

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A nice dish of . . .

Pumpkin? Tangerines? Rhubarb?

I spent Tuesday with GFMelissa playing around with some madder roots she dug up from her garden last fall. First, I washed them and laid them out to dry.

Youngest Daughter said, "What is that, the Narada?" as she passed by the sink. (We're Star Trek geeks, around here!)

I put the mess outside to dry on the patio.

I ended up chopping the roots in my blender and putting them to soak on low heat in an old canning pot that I use for dyeing. In the meantime, GFMelissa and I put together an alum mordant bath and put the wool in to soak.

I had six skeins of Fat Fairy Hare - a lovely natural cream color in 40% angora and 60% merino from Kimmet Croft Fibers - that I decided to use for this experiment. The second two skeins I mordanted in a rhubarb leaf solution and the third set of skeins, I mordanted in an alum solution again - but for much longer. Tonight's photos are only of the first batch.

We ended up straining the dye solution a few times - lots of little bits and twigs remain - and put the more solid bits in a netting bag along with the mordanted wool. After it was good and hot (but not above a simmer!), I put the covered pot outside on an old rug and wrapped in a heating pad. I left it there for the rest of the day and some of the night.

The yarn looked a little drab when I pulled it out today so I dipped it into the rhubarb leaf mordant that I made up for today's dye experiment. This is supposed to pull out a "pinker" tone but I don't think it did much.

It's a nice color but - not much different from some of the orange colors I'd made before. I'm also not excited about the amount of vegetable matter left behind from the dyeing.

Hmm. Maybe tomorrow's wool will knock our socks off?

Today's Cool Wednesday links have to do with great color:

Check out Jenny Dean's great Wild Colour. I'm using her book, Wild Colour, as the basis for my work.

Also, this little video about natural dyeing - it was great to see dyeing in real life.


Saturday, August 08, 2009

Saturday packing

Between getting Middle Daughter ready for college (19 days and counting!) and Youngest Boy ready for a new school (First Grade!), I've been doing lot of drawer weeding.

This week's grouping is a pair of twill pants, five tee shirts and a boy's polo shirt.

These weren't the only things going out into the world from my house today - remember this?

which I turned into these?

I had hopes of finishing these before Shepherd's Harvest back in May but I didn't get there in time. So, they have been kicking around the house since May. Oldest Daughter came over today and she needed a present for a friend so I pulled these out. I did need to re-do the edging on one mitt - it just didn't look quite right so I pulled it off and - poof, a present.

Now, back to knitting. I've pulled out

my Road Not Taken scarf made with Kitty Sock Yarn from Unplanned Peacock Studio.

I love the color of this yarn but I was having some needle issues. I ended up ripping it back to the first three rows and re-knit it with a bamboo needle. This seemed to solve my "slippery yarn" issues.

I'll snap a new photo in a day or two. I still like the yarn and the pattern - I just don't know what I'll do with a brown scarf!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Rainy Fridays make me hungry.

Being stuck inside today apparently made me hungry. I'm roasting a chicken with fresh Yukon Gold potatoes and new green beans. We also used up some of our (purchased, alas - I am the only being unable to grow squash) zucchini for muffins.

Following up on this theme, today's Friday Film:

Thursday, August 06, 2009

A late night Wednesday

meant no post on Wednesday. I know, I know - you felt slighted, didn't you?

Here's something to cheer you up - a few look-sees at this lovely Swallowtail Shawl!

Here it is lighting on the tomato plants!

and finally, settling down on the bench.

It's been a bit delayed due to my needing a second skein (it isn't for me or I would have just cut off a few rows. The second skein came very quickly from the helpful and very quick folks at the Fiber Fix.) And, I admit, losing interest for about a month. But, it's done now and I'll be delivering it to my friend this month.

It's really given me a taste for making another one - this time, for me!

My belated Cool Wednesday item: Nancy Bush and Euny Jang talking about shawls and "nupps." I just love that word!

Monday, August 03, 2009

This is not hard

So I'm squatting on the spare bedroom bed (otherwise known as Oldest-Daughter-who-is-away-at-college's Bed), weaving blocking wires through the edge of my Swallowtail Shawl. It's too big for just one wire per side so I'm using two wires per side. "This is a terrible job," I'm thinking. "Who invented this *&^ system of blocking anyway?" My nose is running from allergies and I'm sweating because I don't want to open the windows until the whole shawl is blocked.

That's when I remember that this is a shawl for my friend whose infant son died a year ago October after heart surgery.

This shawl business is not hard at all.

And I also remember that I just came from a prayer service for the lovely 17 yr. old daughter of a friend. She is undergoing surgery tomorrow (her second surgery) to remove tumors from her lungs because she has Ewing's Sarcoma. Her lovely, generous mother is the woman who taught me to knit. I made her little girl a nightgown in exchange. Now, tomorrow at 2:15 p.m. in Saint Paul, she is hopefully going to be one step closer to healing. After this, she goes in for radiation therapy. She has already had chemotherapy.

So, this shawl business is a walk in the park. Please keep my friend's daughter in your thoughts and prayers tomorrow, Tuesday, August 4, 2009, from about 2:15 p.m. - 6 p.m. That should be easy.


It's in-between pays
summer seems far away
but it's okay,
we all have those days
and tomorrow'll be easy as
spring relieves winter grief,
easy as turning wheels carry weight,
as easy as lovers meet
and the bud lets loose the leaf.

by Greg McNeill

Saturday, August 01, 2009

A long, long Saturday with very little knitting so far!

I don't know why I thought 7:30 a.m. dentist appointments on a Saturday would be good for the kids - I do know it wasn't good for me.

Another thing I don't know is if I am coming down with a summer cold or feeling the effects of some sort of allergy but I have a really sore throat and feel very hot.

Saturday is our day to get things done around the house and I've been sleepwalking through cleaning and shopping. Apparently, my dazed expression has led my family to think I'd like nothing more than a long talk with each of them. The "no talk, sore throat" croak is doing no good.

Now that the last chapter of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" for the day has been read (for every set of math workbook pages Youngest Child does, he gets read a chapter of HP), I'm finally getting to sit down and quietly get some knitting done.

I saw over at Knittymama's blog that she has been trying out some new spinning techniques. I am not so sure that you can see in this photo - for some reason, Blogger won't show it right side up! - but I been reading some different knitting magazines and listening to some new podcasts. So far, I'm still sticking with Interweave Knits but I would so love a subscription to Yarn Forward.

I'd love to visit some of those yarn stores in the UK but even the Yarn Forward subscription is too rich for me right now. We just sent off the check for Middle Daughter's first semester's tuition at college!

Anyway, I was listening to podcasts one night in bed while reading. Meghan over at the Stitch It Podcast was giving some excellent spinning advice about speeds and whorls and I didn't have anything close to take notes on so I simply wrote on the back of a pattern (Lillie's Little Sweater) that was close by. That's my reading pile from next to the bed!

This week's Saturday Seven came about when Youngest Child wore a button-front shirt to church last week that required an undershirt. He tries one on - too small. Next one - too small. Every undershirt was last year's size. Add that to my absolutely favorite of his play tee shirts (from the National Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian) and the poor boy's closet is getting pretty bare. These will go over to GF Melissa's little boy so I can see them from time to time.

Now that it sounds like YC is in bed, time to break out the dvd of "Coraline" and some knitting. Or maybe I'll just look for the news . . .