Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Swatching Has Begun...

Rowan Classic Yarn
...twice, already. Remember, I was determined to at least cast on a sweater. I'm doing the February Lady Sweater (click on the link to see the picture). It's a free pattern both on this gal's site and in Ravelry, if you're a member. In this yarn, from my friend D. It's Rowan Classic Silk Wool DK. The fiber content is 50% merino wool and 50% silk, and there are 109 yards in one ball. And believe it or not, the colorway is "Geranium." Yeah - looks vaguely "light lilac" to me. I have 19 balls of this stuff, and as far as I can figure, I believe I'll only be using 10 of them for this sweater. But then, that's what the pattern says, for the yarn indicated. I'm not sure. Sweaters are funny. Which is why I'm swatching. 

My first one was on size 6 needles. The pattern calls for size 8 needles, but not for this yarn. However, according to Ravelry, the Rowan Classic yarn has been used. But the gals who've knitted it up haven't said much about how much they've used. Oh well. I figure that even at the worst, tempting the Knitting Goddesses, I should have well over 2,000 yards. It's not a long sweater. 

"Too Big."
But I am swatching. I've moved to size 7 needles, as the size 6 swatch generated 20 stitches over 4". The pattern calls for 18 stitches. Well, adding those two additional stitches might not seem like much, but it can result in an ill-fitting sweater. And even though I got this yarn free, it's a fairly expensive yarn and I don't want to run out. Just for giggles, though, here's what the "too big" swatch looks like. It's garter stitch, which is what they wanted. And it just has a beautiful look to it. I'd washed and blocked it, so it's a fairly accurate swatch (as accurate as swatches go, and yes - swatches lie).

The sheen from the silk is just as you'd expect, and the drape will be gorgeous. Yep, I ripped this out and am re-swatching with the bigger needles. I don't want to risk screwing this up. 

I actually have a shot of the pattern/swatch-in-progress. Like I said, it's a free pattern, and that's cool. Check out this gal's pattern page and blog. I love it when I can get a cute pattern and I randomly have the yarn in stash. 

My friend D is getting rid of some of her yarn that she'll never knit up. She did find a hank of Madelaine Tosh for the sweater she gave me. All the sweater is missing is the last sleeve, hence the need to find the last hank. D doesn't keep her ball-bands, which would drive me insane. I keep mine. 

The needles I'm using for the current swatch are Addi bamboo, which works well, because there's enough silk in this yarn to be a bit more slippery than I'd feel comfortable with using the Turbos. I'm hoping that the size 7 works; it's a nice size to make the stitches pop and comfortable in my hands. The main body of the garment, as you can see, is lacy - and I think that if I use a larger needle, the lace will get "lost." If you check out her pattern, she suggests a hand-painted yarn. I don't have that, but I do have this, and the lace pattern should pop nicely on the yarn. 


Still plowing through Persuasion but I also pulled out Sweater Quest, one woman's journal of her knitting experience with an Alice Starmore pattern - Mary Tudor. I looked it up. It looks lovely, but honestly? I wouldn't knit this thing in a million years. Adrienne Martini writes in almost Harlot-esque style, and chronicles her journey with this sweater. And the fact that the book is out of  print AND the yarn is not in production? 

Knitting for me is stress-relief. This sounds like anything but, though I will say the book is engaging and I can totally see me writing that kind of thing. 


So here's what Kid #2 has come up with: Triple Chocolate Cookies. Yes, they are big - he did that deliberately for some of his work colleagues. I have to do the Pineapple Crescents when he's done with his Yin/Yan peanut butter + chocolate cookies. 
3X Chocolate Cookies

Tuesday, I'm doing potica (remember: po-TEET-za) with Kid #1. I'll do another batch later in the week with Kid #2. One batch = 3 loaves, and I've promised one to one of our baritones. The Polish bakery in town has apparently stopped being a bakery. It was a bar, too, plus a deli/small grocery store. But there's no potica this year. I need to make sure the kids can do this when I'm not able to do it. 

Does that sound grim? It's not, really. It's about the traditions. It's about making the cookies or baked items for the next generation. Look, we're not Cordon Bleu chefs in my family. But we're really good cooks and bakers. And just because I have boys, that doesn't mean they need to be helpless in the kitchen. Often, people are surprised that my kids can cook and bake. To me, it's a life skill. Aside from the chemistry (and Kid #1 had some FAMOUS baking episodes where he learned that yes, chemistry is important!), the kids learn judgment, how to put flavors together and how to be creative. 

But the family recipes? They're things that you most often hand down "as-is" - the way Grandma did it. I told Hubby that as far as the potica recipe was concerned, we do it Granny's way. Yes, it's tedious. In a fit of heresy, I heard someone say that they ball up the dough, weigh it in 1-lb. increments and then shove it in the freezer. Aaaaaaaackkkkkk!!! We do them fresh, freezing some for the next holiday because they're only made for Christmas and Easter. 

Next year, we'll do the Kuglehof and Nadif - one is a dense yellow cake with golden raisins, and one is a "sausage-like" concoction of ham, spring onions and starch. My dad used to make them encased in a pig intestine. Don't go all squeamish. What did you think your sausage casings were made of?? But it was too much for my mom to handle, so she did make a change - into a 13x9 pan. Much easier to handle, AND you cut down on some spectacular explosions (which occurred every so often if you mishandled the sausage's a stunningly awful experience, and you get burned). 

So that's The Baking for 2013. 


So I'm doing The Proclamation of Christmas. This is an a capella chant (Gregorian, thank you very much), in English, outlining the history of Christmas. For Midnight Mass. It looks like I'm also doing the Exultet in Easter - which is the chant exclaiming Easter. I used to do that one at St. Anne and St. Ambrose, because the priest didn't want to do it. I've also done the full Litany of the Saints. Whew...

I get to pick my note in the chant, luckily. As I sit here staring at the music, it starts at a B and goes as high as an E. Yes, I'm a soprano, but I've been singing alto for a year; my higher range isn't cool sometimes. And our stronger alto will be in Florida. I offered to Skype her in, but nobody's buying it! 

We're doing something neat: testimonials. I'm not talking in the sense of "holy-roller" things, which frankly make me very uncomfortable. They used to do that at the Navy chapel with the "Charismatic Catholics" when that was in vogue. We have pledges we make to the church; kind of like a tithe, but no set amount - whatever you are called to give. And of course, the budget is somewhat based on this. Fr. Matt has taken to having people get up after the Peace and tell (3 minute speaker-like) why they are here. In the sense of, "I came here, and this is why I stay..." For a newbie, I love this. I get to see the FRONT of people's faces (we choir folk sit wayyyyyy back and all we get are shoulders and back-of-the-head) and I get to hear their stories. Great way to meet people, even if you don't shake their hands. 

"Who were YOU with???"
The Silent Night Incident is troubling. I brought the amp and guitar today; the amp fired up but no sound. So Kid #2 says, "Let me look at it." But I had left it at the church. I guess I'm going to be back in the back. Our choirmaster says we can go over it next Sunday. No pressure, right? That 2/10th of a second delay as the sound bounces around is kind of a hassle, but I guess I have to deal with it. 

One of the other different things is the Home Eucharist. It's an informal prayer-type-service where we also have communion and a little informal discussion. And food. Dessert, usually. We had one (which is where I got conscripted to do the Proclamation and Exultet). It was at one of the soprano's homes. And this is what I got when I got home. She has 2 dogs, elderly female Labs. As you can see, the girls were curious. 


And -- that's how I know it's probably time to go BACK to allergy shots. Rats. I couldn't smell the Labs. And I'm sorry, but Labs stink. I couldn't smell a thing. I know I've been having some issues, but I didn't realize it was that bad, till I couldn't smell the dogs. 

Random Picture...

Here's the shot outside at the feeders. Note the finch pole. Is THIS what Twitter is all about?? 

No, I do know what Twitter is all about. Which is why this picture represents MY idea of a "tweet." The finches were lined up waiting for their turn. And yesterday, that skinny finch feeder was full to the brim. 

I also have a pair or two of cardinals, plus at least 1 squirrel. And the usual junco birds, sparrows and woodpeckers on the suet feeder. I like feeding the birds. We haven't gotten a good birdbath heater. And it didn't help that we had a freaky frost which cracked our nice birdbath. I guess we'll be looking for a new one this spring.

The total snow accumulation was about 4 - 5" and right now, it's just at that time of day where dusk is about to settle in. I'm hoping for more snow, and Tom Skilling is predicting a White Christmas. 

No, not the Fox News kind of "white Christmas." Snow. Real, honest-to-goodness snow. Yay!

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