Monday, November 28, 2011

Whew! One More Done...

Well, almost 2 if you count the wristers I may or may not finish for Kid #1's girlfriend...

I finished the scarf for my male student worker. I don't have the pattern here, but I believe it's called "Cruisin' Altitude." It'll be on my Ravelry page as soon as I can update it. I did it in Encore Chunky, since the pattern called for a "bulky" yarn.

The pattern called for about 300 yards, so I bought 3 skeins of the Encore, knowing I'd have some left over. But all it took was a ball and a bit of the 2nd one for a scarf a bit over 5' long, which according to Hubby and Son #2, is "manly length" for a kid the size of my student worker. A 5-foot scarf wouldn't do for Son #2 at 6' 2", but Jimmy's about 5' 7" and that should fit him fine.

Here's the scarf as a WIP. The Encore Chunky is Color 1444, Chocolate. It's a tweed-ish yarn with flecks of gold and dark blue every once in a while. It makes up nicely, being 75% acrylic and 25% wool. The wool makes the stitches pop and the loft of the yarn is amazing. This is a surprisingly bulky scarf.

I have a 3rd ball left, so I get to make myself a pair of socks with it!! The yarn makes socks on size 7 DPNs (yes, I know you size 1 sock-knitters are thinking, "Good Lord, the woman is knitting on TIMBER!" ); but size 7 works well with this and makes a cozy sock for around the house and with my Birkenstocks.

For what it's worth, I got the pattern on a card in the "back of the store" bin for 99 cents at Hobby Lobby. And it had been sitting with some white acrylic (which I may use for the wrist warmers for The Girlfriend...) with about 2 rows knitted. I pulled that puppy loose, and then figured that this pattern was "manly" enough for Jimmy. Actually, it's a nice pattern for either gender: just adjust your yarn and pick a "girly" color if you want to do this for a girl. Frankly, this would look awesome in a hot pink!

Here's a picture of it all finished. I've beefed up the size so you can see the stitch definition and the blue and gold tones in the yarn.

I can't say enough about Encore, available at your LYS (hopefully) or at or through Plymouth Yarn, - where at least you can take a look at it. I've used regular Encore and the Chunky and done everything from socks to baby gifts with this. It is easy to knit with; holds a pattern like crazy, as you can see.

And.... it holds up to wear!! It washes well, doesn't pill, and it doesn't feel "too" wooly or "too" acrylic.

So now, what's next on the list? Well, I have my mom's cowl to finish. I did actually DO a pair of wristers out of some "unknown" yarn. My friend Joan handed me two partial-balls and said, "Here, we can't sell them - take them and see what you can do." I have no idea as to content or anything, but it's fine yarn, so I doubled it, did a "purse stitch" and ribbing and made some poufy wristlets. Not quite long enough to go over the thumb, but enough to cover the gap maybe between glove and sleeve, or help with a slightly short sweater. Not sure if I'll give those to The Girlfriend, or if I'll use the white acrylic and do some proper wrist/fingerless glove thingies. Maybe if I work it out right, I can do them with a nice lace pattern down the back of the hand! Or - wowza - a cable!!

That will end up my Christmas knitting unless I stash-bust and find some yarn suitable for wrist warmers for the boys. With those long arms, they can use a little extra help in the winter and they said they'd wear them. We'll see.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sad, Mad and Resigned...

As is normal, I went to my LYS on Friday. I was met by my friend the owner's mom. As y'all may recall, my friend is suffering from cancer.

She had a clear PET scan last month. This month, the 3 tumors are back. They're in her brain.

She's talking to the radiologist, who wants to irradiate her brain, and the oncologist, who says that they can't do that if they want any hope of having any other treatment. Seems the brain is an odd duck. It doesn't like chemo, and it doesn't take well to being irradiated.

My friend's mom informed me that they were closing the shop. In all reality, it's a melanoma that's spread to the brain. Anyone can tell you that a "cure" is beyond hope, unless the Creator has a heck-of-an impulse to perform a miracle on par with the Immaculate Conception.

The store will close at the end of December. I'm sad. I'm sad because there are very few Local Yarn Shops around; the era of the small shopkeeper is waning, and the Big Box "don't know anything except that the yarn is in aisle 3" mega-stores are what we can expect. Except for e-tailers where you can buy the yarn, but you can't touch it beforehand - so you could be buying a pig in a poke, though most of them are good at handling returns and such.

I'm sad because she's my friend. She's a year older than me. That puts so much in perspective.

I'm sad because we're losing a knitting community. She was the glue that kept us together. We may *say* we are going to keep knitting together, but ultimately, where? The shop atmosphere, the yarn, the help when you need it, the kvetching over the "idiotic" knitting patterns that you sometimes see in magazines (Who wears that stuff anyway??? And why does it have to cost $300 for a shrug??), the possibilities - that's what adds the fun dimension to knitting together. Hanging out at each others' homes is impractical. Heck, Hubby works from home - between his work and the dogs we have scattered around, we really have no space for a group of chattering knitters! And I don't think the local coffee shops would like us to sit and knit for 4 or 5 hours; besides, we can't afford their drinks anyway! We spend all our money on yarn.

I'm resigned to finding another shop sometime down the road. I'm hoping to find another community of knitters where I'll fit and where the vibe is good.

And I'll always have my friend. She made me a knitter. Her maxim is "You are only knitting one stitch at a time." That's a good rule in knitting as well as life. One step at a time is advice we can all latch onto, isn't it?

Hug your friends close and tell them what they mean to you. It's important, because often, they don't know till you tell them.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Joe Paterno's Legacy...

...was written the day he didn't call the cops. The day he did nothing. The day he let the report go to the president of Penn State and be diluted to "horsing around."

And the grad assistant??? Please. You had to call your dad? Why? To engineer a cushy deal for yourself, since in essence you never left the "Mother Ship." That grad assistant, as everyone knows, is Mike McQueary. Who is now the Big Cheese. Really.

And the judge who let Jerry Sandusky WALK WITHOUT BAIL? She worked with him on the "Second Mile" charity, which is basically "bait" for low-income kids to feed Sandusky's habit. The judge needs to be disbarred.

McQueary needs to be fired.

Penn State needs to do more than remove Paterno's name from the trophy.

A clean house is necessary. In order for Penn State's football program to get back to its former glory, a clean house is necessary.

That also means taking all those Penn State athletes who said, "Yeah, we knew what was going on but we didn't know what to do," -- and telling them, "What you do is learn to be an adult, and step up, and speak out."

College is where you learn to be an adult. Being an adult means that your moral compass should already point somewhere near "North" and that you know the difference between right and wrong. And that you are capable and willing to speak up when you see wrong.

I would kick my kid's butt down the street if he called me to ask what to do in this situation. And he knows that.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Weapons of Bunny Destruction and Mutant Carrots...

No, really. It does make sense.

Painted Zig Zag Scarf
I had finished my student worker's scarf for Christmas. Now to just figure out what to get for the male student worker!! I don't know if I have time to knit him something, and being as he's not my kid, who'll wear just about anything I knit, I have to be a bit choosy. Here's her scarf: It's the Painted Zig Zag scarf from Lion Brand Yarn, and it's out of my stash, a rogue skein of Homespun in colorway "Windsor." I wrote a review. Here's the Reader's Digest version: Great pattern, sucky yarn.

I used to adore Homespun. Great quality. Glorious colors. Wore like crazy, and didn't "feel" acrylic. Somewhere along the line, the quality dropped. I had gotten skeins where the middle part was "unkinked" and in two separate pieces, requiring a couple of cuts and a knot to get it back together, and a friend said she got a good yard in one skein that was white. Which would've been fine - except her skein was green. In this scarf (which you can't see because I hid it), there's a blob of white. In the middle.

So, now that I can't work on my mom's cowl for a bit due to home-made noodles, (yes, there's a story), I figured I'd put it down for a bit and continue to deconstruct White Chocolate Bunny. See, this is what I'm doing for another 3 or 4 rows. Picking out yarn that's "near-roving" because there's literally no twist in it. So it's felted itself as I've gone along. Urggggggghhhhh! Hence the stork scissors. Gotta nip the fuzzies to get the stitches apart. It's a good thing this is strictly ornamental. I have high hopes for Milk Chocolate Bunny because he's an alpaca blend, so I figure he may give me less trouble. Love the Debbie Stoller yarn here, just frogging it is a pain. At least I have till January. Even though I have to start a baby blanket somewhere in here soon.

And wristers for Kid #1's girlfriend. And wristers for both kids. The ones for Girlfriend will be some sort of chunky yarn...gotta ask Kid #1 what her favorite color is. If I'm lucky, I can do the fingerless mitts for her.

So, the noodle story, and I promise, clarification of "Mutant Carrots." I decided yesterday to make Cabbage and Noodles, which we hadn't had in a while. Except that I forgot the egg noodles at the store. Didn't care to go back. Wanted a day where I wasn't running hither, thither and yon. So I thought, "I have eggs, flour and oil - I can MAKE noodles." Which, by the way, I have done, so I'm not a total nutjob here.

Got my stuff together. Made the dough. Had a slight panic when my "volcano" of eggs and flour over-ran its banks. But I did get the dough to cooperate. Ten minutes of kneading stiff noodle dough counts as an upper-body workout, by the way.

Of course, I do have a pasta maker, a Kitchen Aid mixer AND a food processor. But I also have two hands. And a rolling pin. Several in fact.

I chose wrong. I chose the "French" rolling pin, the birch one with the tapered ends. I love that rolling pin. The birch is a nice warm wood, and it's well-balanced. But I forgot something extremely significant. The screw in my thumb. As I rolled the dough out, the rolling pin came right up against where the screw and the joint were. And after Batch #2 (you split the ball of dough into 4 parts), my left hand was throbbing. I was getting cranky.

So I changed to the marble rolling pin, with handles. I don't like it as much, but since it weighs a good 8 lbs., it made rolling the dough go lots faster. I made about 2 lbs. of lovely hand-cut wide egg noodles, and yes, it was definitely worth it.

In the meantime, Hubby was deconstructing the garden. Time to get all the tomato vines out, pull up all the carrots and get all the (still green) tomatoes in for ripening under newspaper. They won't taste "sun-ripened" but since I'm using them for sauce, it won't necessarily matter. I'd have preferred sun, but Mother Nature gave us what she did.

I let the dough rest for the standard 15 minutes. In that space of time, Hubby dumped a sink full of carrots in the kitchen. My job was to scrub them off and get them into a bag for the fridge after they drain. We grew several varieties including some purple heirloom carrots. As I was chugging through them, I came upon The Mutant Carrots. At first I thought, "Good Lord, I hope this isn't alive!" But after a wash-up, this is what it looks like:

Mutant Carrots
As you can see, we have one carrot getting cozy with another one. I told Hubby to thin them out more!

Some of the carrots will go straight to the juicer; others may end up in a salad or in my lunch with some hummus. Hubby thinks we're crazy because home-grown carrots taste soooooooooo good. He says, "It's just a carrot."

No, it's not. It's a miracle of Nature, doesn't taste a BIT like the cellophane wrapped orange things you buy, and each of them (obviously, see above) has attitude! I took some "artsy" shots of this for our literary/art magazine competition -- I thought about texturizing the shots in PhotoShop, but again...don't want to mess with Mother Nature.

Anyway, that was my weekend. My thumb is still sore (I managed about 10 rows on the cowl today and the thumb is still a bit cranky), I'm futzing with fuzzy yarn, and I have to figure out once I get to my stitch marker what row I think I'm on. And I spent an hour re-sewing buttons on a sweater I bought because quality control has left the building!

Oh, and ONE side of my large desk drawer fell off the track. Is it a full moon??