Friday, October 23, 2015
That's my Garland Yoke sweater. It took me a little over an hour to rip it out and re-ball the yarn, which I did while watching Project Runway. Enough time had passed between my finishing knitting the sweater and deciding that I'd never wear it so that ripping it out wasn't painful -- in fact, it was very satisfying. Perhaps it's because I enjoy the act of knitting more than the creation of something knitted, if that makes sense.
I added an afternoon walk yesterday to my daily list of mood boosters and even though it was gray and stodgy outside, the fresh air helped and I was less moody by the end of the evening. Last night I slept well and deeply, so I'm going to take another walk in a few minutes. Today it's crisp and bright outside.
I was going to post a photo of how Winston greeted us when O and I arrived home this afternoon, but on second thought, the photo may be disturbing to some. He had caught a mouse in the bathroom and couldn't seem to understand why it wasn't playing with him anymore. We called my husband downstairs to show him the great job Winston had done -- Mr. Hail Britannia is not a big fan of cats, but he does respect a good mouser. Our previous cats have all been pacifists, much to his dismay. Winston is slowly earning his respect.
Thursday, October 22, 2015
The dark mornings of autumn get to me. I was hoping to escape the doldrums this year, but no such luck. I've dragged my full-spectrum lightbox out of a corner, increased my Vitamin D and fish oil intake, and am doing everything I can to stay cheerful. That includes upping my knitting. Any other tips for beating the autumn blues?
I finished my Garland Yoke sweater a month ago. And I knew within a moment of pulling it over my head I'd never wear it. First, it's much too heavy (worsted-weight wool). It's also huge on me, and the neckline does my narrow shoulders no favors. So I put it aside and am waiting until I feel good enough to start frogging it. Tonight may be the night.
Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Way back in July I noticed a dearth of shorts in my wardrobe. I'm not a big fan of shorts ... specifically, I'm not a big fan of how shorts look on me. Mostly because I don't tan at all and my white legs scare people, but also because I don't like wearing anything higher than just above my knee. Since I have a spiffy new sewing machine, I decided to make some shorts that met my requirements and I feel comfortable wearing on the hotter days of summer.
Enter Kwik Sew 3614, a pattern I first read about on Sewn. Elizabeth had mentioned how members of Pattern Review raved about the fly construction instruction on these shorts, and after making a couple pairs, I have to agree -- fly fronts can be tricky, but it's smooth sailing with this pattern.
My first pair was constructed out of lavender-colored cotton twill I purchased a few years ago from Fabric Place. I traced and cut a size L and followed the directions for view A (the longest version) exactly, making no modifications. The shorts came out well and I've worn them a lot this summer. My only dislikes were having hook and eye closures on the closure tab. I decided with my next pair I'd use a button and buttonhole.
My second pair are the ones I'm wearing in the photos above. I can't remember where I got the fabric, a navy blue cotton twill ... either Joann's or Sewfisticated Fabrics in Framingham. The button/buttonhole closure works much better. For future shorts I plan to use a contrasting facing on the waistband, as well as softer pocket fabric. I used matching twill to make pockets for both pairs of shorts. They're fine, but maybe a little bulkier than I'd like.
This is a great pattern and I will definitely get my money's worth from it as I have plans for olive, white, and red shorts for next summer.
Since I took a bit of a blog break for the last six weeks, here's what else is going on. My mother and I took a week-long trip to central Maine in August and had a wonderful time. I didn't take any pictures (bah!) except for a shot of my yarn haul from Halcyon Yarn in Bath. I'll do a run down of what I purchased in a separate post.
I've been a bit down because my father and stepmother are going through a painful divorce. It's not a bitter one, just very sad because of the circumstances. I'm hoping that once the smoke clears, things will get better.
Then my husband's car died. We were down to one car for the last few years, so it has been necessary to do some car shopping. It looks like I'll be getting a new VW Jetta by the end of the week. It's funny because VW was not on my "car-buying radar" until I rented one a couple weeks ago and fell in love. Even better, my son loves it and my husband, while not a fan of practical four-door sedans, admits that it's a smooth, responsive ride.
And oh, that cat you see above? That's Winston. I'l write more about him in another post, but we decided after a year of having no cats it was time to welcome a new cat into our home ... and hearts. We adore Winston ... he is a sweet, lovable, friendly guy. And even better, he doesn't chase my yarn.
What have you been up to this summer? Are you glad it's September?
Friday, July 31, 2015
I decided to heck with it, I'll photograph my Pebble Beach Shawl on a wooden hanger, heat be damned!
I'm very happy with how this turned out. The pattern shows off the gradient wool to its fullest, and its airy design complements the colors, which make me think of a tropical sea against a white, sandy beach. It'll be a perfect shawl to wear next spring. :)
The pattern is brilliant ... I usually gravitate toward charted lace patterns, but Helen Stewart does her patterns in spreadsheet form, which works for my left-brain. I wouldn't call it an "easy" pattern, but a careful beginner would have no trouble following along and obtaining a beautiful result.
My only frustration was with my initial choice of knitting needles. I was using one of my generic Chinese circulars, and the metal was far too slippery for the wool so I went out and splurged on an Addi Lace Turbo ... ahh. I find the Addi Lace needles have the perfect amount of grippiness for lace knitting.
Summer has been pretty quiet, which I like. Lots of slow, hot days filled with nothing but time. O thinks it's going by too quickly, and now that I look at the calendar and realize that August is this weekend, I suppose he's right.
OK, so moving on to the exciting bits. This week I went to make muffins and when I pulled the tin out of stove drawer, I noticed mouse droppings. Ewwww. Before you think I'm a terrible housekeeper, please note that our house is older and has lots of nooks, crannies, and holes that critters just love. I'm not frightened of mice--they're kind of cute, actually--but I don't want them around my food, so I had to put out a trap. The next morning, I found the little guy behind the stove. No more have been caught so I'm hoping we had one errant mouse in the house. The rest of the week I spent decontaminating our stove and the areas around it.
Then late last night I was sitting on the sofa when I noticed a noise coming from the living room coat closet. The door was cracked, and boom -- out flew a BAT!!!! I feel much differently about bats than I do mice ... you should have seen me bolt upstairs, screaming for my husband who was already in bed. Poor guy was sound asleep, but he knows how freaked out I am around bats due to some unfortunate childhood bat experiences while living in an old house in Vermont. He and O did some research on the computers upstairs to figure out the best way to get the bat outside, then they ventured downstairs to find the unwanted guest lurking behind the living room drapes. When they tried to scoop the bat into a box, he flew across the room and landed at the top of a bookshelf. By then the bat (and the boys) was tired enough that the second scoop went more smoothly and the errant visitor was released into the night. Shudder. We've had a long-standing wildlife removal appointment scheduled for this Tuesday, and I cannot WAIT to have these bats gone from our attic. And while last night's bat visitation terrified me, I'm glad I saw from where it emerged because now we know where we have an exit hole into the house.
Yes, I'm a total wimp when it comes to certain species of wildlife in my house. I own my wimpiness. ;-)
Lots of sewing going on this summer in my studio. I now feel very comfortable with my new sewing machine, the Baby Lock Melody. A couple of weeks ago I ordered a flat felling presser foot for it through my local dealer and just about keeled over when I got the bill for it, almost $25. Ouch! So I decided to order one of those 32-piece presser foot collections from Amazon, along with a ruffler attachment. I paid a little over what I paid for the one foot through my dealer, so I figured if a few of the presser feet worked, I'd be ahead of the game, esp. the ruffler, which is pricey.
We have Amazon Prime, so everything got here quickly. The ruffler was easy to install and worked beautifully. The 32 presser feet came in a sturdy cardboard box and every foot was labeled on the front so I knew what each one would do. The feet are all metal with a few understandable exceptions, such as the teflon foot for sewing leather and vinyl. Last night I used the piping/welting foot to install piping around a mixer stand cover I made for out kitchen:
I was very happy with how the piping came out especially as it was my first try. I used instructions from About.com to put this together, but ended up using my own measurements for the pattern. I added an outer pocket (which I tried to pattern match and you can see in the bottom photo) to hold the flat beater attachments, and created a lining with fabric from an old cotton Jacquard drape. All in all, I'm quite happy with it although I may make another just to improve on my design. :)
I finished the Pebble Beach shawl, which is blocked and ready to go. It has been so hot, though, that the thought of posing with a merino wool shawl draped over my shoulders ... ugh. I'll do a separate post on the shawl when it cools off.
What are you working on this summer?
Friday, July 17, 2015
Yesterday during our walk to pick up the car at the repair garage, I spotted this hawk fluttering around the ground. We couldn't figure out if it was injured or hunting ... we could also hear some angry birdsong coming from the firs. I wanted to get a little closer, but those talons!
So yes, one more day! Tomorrow I'm picking O up from camp. I miss him so much and can't wait to hear of his experiences. I did get a letter from him on Wednesday, and I was surprised by how long it was. It looks like he kept adding to it each day. He's a very good and entertaining writer. It sounds like he's had a good time, except for the swimming. Although the weather has been warm here in New England, lakes and ocean water really don't get warm until August ... and even then, I wouldn't call them "warm" ... more like comfortable. Plus, O is not the most enthusiastic swimmer. He said the two weeks at camp would have been the best two weeks of his year ... except for the twice daily swims, which he says ruin everything for him.
I would feel sorry for him, but I took swimming lessons as a child in the cold Atlantic Ocean. No pity party here. ;-)
Camp pickup is between 9 and 11, so I'll leave Boston around 6ish, which should give me time for some coffee and exercise breaks (need to stretch out my back frequently). I'll be giving O's local friend a ride home, too, so we'll make a brief stop at my father's house on the lake to say hi and pick up Aunt Pam's yarn :-), then be back on our way home.
I finished sewing a pair of shorts yesterday, waa-hoo. They came out great! When my head photographer returns home, I'll get some good photos for my review. I am not a big shorts-wearer, but on especially warm days they're necessary. I love these shorts because they completely cover my thighs but don't make my legs look like sausages. Flush with success, I dug out some olive green twill from my stash for a second pair. But first, I want to finish a gift project (silk pillowcases). This is a wedding gift for a friend who is now pregnant, which gives you an idea how behind I am in sewing!
Knitting ... not much to report here. I spent a couple hours yesterday tinking three rows (over 400 stitches each row) of my Pebble Beach shawl as I had two extra stitches. The problem was a wrong increase stitch. Sigh. When will I learn? Anyway, all is well, though I will probably not finish the shawl this weekend.
I discovered a new-blog-for-me this week, Ikatbag. This mother of three has craft skills that are a-m-a-z-i-n-g -- she's a whiz with cardboard and all sorts of crafts, but also sews without commercial patterns. In fact, she has never used a commercial pattern to draft her clothing! Oh, and she studied physics in college and does all sorts of cool science projects with her kids and creates the most stupendous birthday parties for her daughters ... seriously, I would get palpitations doing half as much as she does in a day!
I'll leave you with a video of me trying to get a hawk's attention by talking to it as I would a cat. D'oh.
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
I told my dentist last week that I see hearts everywhere. :)
The hydrangeas in the front of the house are spectacular this year, such a vibrant blue. Two years ago I had cut them back too severely so that last summer we only got a couple blooms.
I have not heard a peep (i.e. received any mail) from O since we dropped him off at camp. He had told me not to expect anything because he doesn't like handwriting letters (the camp doesn't allow computers/e-mail), but his counselor assured me I'd get a couple letters anyway. I'm trying not to get antsy about it ... as long as he's having a good time, that's all that really matters. Plus the camp does a great job updating their blog every night to let parents know what's going on. I can tell from the activities they describe that O is most definitely enjoying himself. He's not super athletic but he's "sporty" and loves to run around and participate in physical activities/games. They had a "marathon" the other night where kids could run a course through the woods, and I can guarantee he was ALL over that.
I'm picking him up this Saturday. I can't wait to see him and hear all about his adventures!
Melody and I are becoming fast friends, maybe even BFFs! Last week I took one of those "get to know your new sewing machine" classes at the dealership where I bought her. A lot of the class was fairly basic--how to thread the machine, how to wind a bobbin, etc.--but I did learn a few tricks and became comfortable with some of the advanced functions on the machine. Like buttonholes...as I said to my husband last night, I will never get sick of watching Melody sew a buttonhole!!! What used to be an exercise in frustration is now a matter of letting her do 90% of the job...my only task is to move the fabric around and press buttons. It couldn't be easier.
This week I finished the Roman shade for the dormer window in our bedroom and a pair of swimming trunks (Kwik Sew 3421) for my husband. I'll talk about the Roman shades in my next post as I need to take photos. Both were straightforward projects, except for sewing the power mesh lining on the trunks. So slippery and fiddly and tricky to work with, especially when joining elastic around the leg holes. Luckily that part of the suit isn't public. I used a medium-weight cotton twill I bought on sale at JoAnn's for the outer fabric; my husband does not like synthetics, so cotton it is. Today's job is to purchase a navy cotton drawstring to finish them off. The pattern, like all Kwik Sew patterns, is easy to follow. The only thing I would do differently is use my own way of inserting elastic in the waistband casing (sewing up the casing except for a 2" gap, threading the elastic through as one long piece, sewing the ends, then sewing up the gap). The KS way is to sew the elastic into a circle then wrap the casing around it to sew it into place. Too fiddly for me!
Now it's time for some selfish sewing. Today's project is preparing fabric (lavender twill) for a my own pair of shorts.
I'm just over 80% done on the Pebble Beach shawl, which should be finished over the weekend at the rate I'm going. Each row is over 400 stitches long, and there's a picot bind-off.
At last week's knitting group I got my yarn to knit a 12" x 12" block for a blanket we're making for an ailing group member. We get our choice of stitch patterns and I'm pretty happy with the one I chose. As soon as the block looks like a block, I'll snap a photo. My goal is to have the block complete by next Thursday's meeting.
Sequence Knitting got an excellent review at Knitter's Review. Now I am tempted by Susan Crawford's vintage Shetland knitting project/book, which is being crowdfunded. She has reached her goal, but is still accepting funding. I could have the book in my hands before the holidays, but honestly, will I really get around to knitting Fair Isle before then? I don't think so.
I missed our Forrest family reunion and my Aunt Pam's interment up in Vermont this weekend--my back was giving me trouble, then the car started making funny noises--but I did get to talk to my cousin Sherry at some length Saturday night. She said she sent an enormous amount of Aunt Pam's yarn home with my father for me to have. Wow, I was so touched! I'll probably pick it up on Saturday when I get O from camp...she says there's a lot of it, so maybe I'll have to make two trips. My Aunt Pam was a spectacular craftswoman; not only a first-rate knitter, but she painted, did cross-stitch and crewel embroidery, and quilted ... and other crafts/art endeavors, I'm sure! At some point I will show you some of the projects she did. They are truly beautiful.
Monday, July 6, 2015
O was safely delivered to camp on Sunday. My father had a clever idea. When I asked if we could borrow his SUV to bring O's trunk to camp, my father said, "Why not let him take the boat over?" (The camp is on the same lake my parents' house is on.) O loved the idea, so he piloted us over there. His arrival definitely attracted attention on shore. The only trouble was, the dock's gate was locked, so one of the parents had to find the camp director so we could get in. She's known my dad for years, so I don't think she was too annoyed. ;-) The only thing my father asked of O was that he ask the camp director, "Permission to come ashore, ma'am." It was pretty clear she knew this was one of my father's antics. ;-)
I brought O to his cabin, met his counselor, then helped him get settled. I didn't want to hang out and embarrass him, so I said, "I think I'll get going back to the boat now," and the boys in the cabin perked up. One said, "Hey, you're the ones that came on the boat? Cool!" I guess he made a memorable entrance. O's cabin is visible from the water, so my father and stepmother will know where to look for him when they boat over at night. (They like to come over and see if they can see him...grandparents!!!)
The night before my father took us out on the lake and we watched fireworks. July 4th during the day had been drizzly, but by nightfall, the skies were clear, the air was cool, and was the perfect evening for fireworks. Once they were over, we sat offshore and listened to the Grateful Dead's "Franklin's Tower" play at a house party. The perfect tune for Independence Day! (BTW, it was also my father's 76th birthday. I can hardly believe he's that old. He was complaining about a pulled muscle he'd gotten from, get this, running laps around the track! He's a former marathoner, still in great shape.)
Today (Monday) the house feels empty. I already missed O on the drive home, but I know he'll be having fun these next two weeks.
Not much knitting got done since I last posted, though I did work a couple of rows of Pebble Beach last night before bed. Each row is now over 300 stitches and I'm not even halfway through the pattern.
On the way back home from CT I stopped at That $2.99 Fabric Store in Auburn. They had some great denim there, but I have plenty of denim in my stash so I controlled myself. I bought a couple of yards of midnight blue lace to use as an inset on a dress I want to make and two yards of cream-colored polyester charmeuse for slips/bodice lining.
It looks like this week's sewing project will be creating a Roman shade for one of our bedroom windows. Since I finished the drapes for our northern-facing window, my husband has become quite spoiled and wants the eastern-facing window to have a similar covering. I can't blame him--the light shines right in his eyes at dawn.
Friday, July 3, 2015
I finished knitting this beautiful shawl by Susan B. Anderson last month during a week where it was cold and rainy and I'd already shut off the heat for the season. It was a pure delight to knit--it wasn't completely mindless because every couple seconds there was a new color change to ooo and ahh over. While knitting, I listened to the Serial podcast put out by PBS. Can't wait for the next "season" to begin!
I'm a huge fan of Susan B. Anderson's blog (and vlog, too!), and when she introduced this pattern in May, I dropped what I was doing, ordered the pattern, and promptly broke my yarn diet by ordering the exact color yarn she'd used in her sample (Miss Babs Yowza! Whatta Skein! in the colorway "Perfectly Wreckless.") I made a mistake and ordered the colorway "Berlin" (which is very pretty, too), but the people at Miss Babs were nice enough to correct my order ... that's what I get for ordering yarn late at night.
Speaking of nice...that's one of the main reasons why I love Anderson's blog and vlog. She seems so darn nice, not to mention talented. While I don't mind reading snark, I can only take it in small doses. I much prefer blogs, podcasts, and vlogs where the hosts leave me feeling a little happier after having read or watched them. Anderson's blog is definitely a cheerer-upper for me. :)
OK, back to the shawl. Yes, the colors are as vibrant IRL as they are on your screen. The shawl appears to have a woven appearance because of the garter stitch, yet it's soft and squishy around my neck. I was going to wash it and pack it away for the summer, but discovered last week that it was perfect to wrap around my shoulders on a cold and rainy day ... plus, those lively colors cheered me up. I even got a couple compliments on it when I wore it out shopping at Whole Foods. The reason why it's called "the Weigh It Shawl" is because rather than count rows, you weigh your yarn as you go along and start wrapping things up when you are down to a certain number of grams. I still had quite a bit of yarn left over, but that's okay because I like having odd balls for my blanket knitting.
Ravelry details here.
I'm off for the holiday weekend. Happy July 4th to my American blog readers, and to everyone else, have a wonderful weekend. :)
p.s. Forgot to mention, but I also made the pink cotton lawn blouse underneath the shawl. It's a bit wrinkly as it had been freshly washed but not ironed. I thought the shawl would look better styled with a blouse.
Thursday, July 2, 2015
My sugar fast continues and I'm feeling well, a little better each day. I didn't need a nap on Tuesday, and on top of this, two nights in a row I stayed up long past my regular bedtime of 11 to read. I do still have sugar cravings in the early evenings, but nothing like the ones I had the first day.
We continue to get O ready for camp ... yesterday he got his hair cut and today his camp sheets should be arriving, which will need to be washed and folded for his trunk. This morning I woke up and realized how much I'm going to miss him while he's away. This will be the longest O's ever been away from me, and there's no phone calls, no e-mailing allowed ... handwritten letters only. Which I don't mind--being the loving mom, I will write every day!--but I'm not so sure I'll hear anything from a 13-year-old boy in return.
Was sad to read that the rumors of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner's divorce were true. They seemed like a nice couple, very family oriented. Marriage is tough business, for sure, especially it seems in Hollywood.
Lessons learned while working on the Pebble Beach shawl:
- A lifeline is a must once I get past 100 row stitches of lace.
- Save lace knitting for the mornings when my mind is fresh.
- Point protectors are my friends.
I spent an hour+ on Tuesday night tinking back two rows (250+ stitches per row) to fix a massive mistake. Then I carelessly left my knitting on the couch, and when I came back found that some stitches had slipped off the needles and created a mess I couldn't figure out without ripping back. Another hour later all was fixed but I made zero progress on the shawl as a result. On Wednesday, I put in a dental floss lifeline ... took me all of five minutes.
I cut out the contrast fabrics for O's board shorts on Tuesday night and then cut out the main fabric on Wednesday a.m. I'm normally not a big fan of using rotary cutters and weights to cut out pattern pieces, but because the microfiber was unstable, the rotary cutter made short work of the job. Later that night I got the fronts and backs of the shorts sewn up. I'm not completely happy with my topstitching, but I doubt any of the boys at camp will be scrutinizing it.
When I was catching up on my blog reading Tuesday night, I noticed that Ann at Gorgeous Fabrics gave a terrific review of Sewaholic's Thurlow shorts/pants. As she said, "...the Thurlow’s welt pocket instructions and draft take something that other pattern companies butcher, and make it crystal clear." I am in desperate need of some nice trousers, as well as shorts, so I promptly ordered the pattern, esp. since I'm pear-shaped and Sewaholic patterns are built for my shape. (Bonus: there was a Canada Day sale going on and I got a discount!) The shorts look a little too short for me, but I suppose I can lengthen them a bit. Once I finish O's camp sewing, I'll give the Thurlows a go.
By the way, I'm getting more and more comfortable with Melody the more time I spend with her. She is so quiet! And little things like speed control, automatic threading/thread cutting, needle down, and the knee life make my sewing so much more accurate and enjoyable. Every time I finish up a sewing session, I tell my husband, "I have to say it again ... I LOVE MELODY." (Half of his office in my sewing studio. Lucky him!)
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Yesterday we went out to Target and bought what he needed to get him through two weeks at camp -- mostly underwear and socks. We figure he can double up a couple days on stuff like shorts and sweatshirts, but not so much on underwear and socks. I also found some swimming trunks in his size for $6.50, so into the basket they went ... saves me some time at the sewing machine this week. He was rather grumpy during our shopping expedition, as was I (sugar withdrawal), and we forgot to buy a couple extra beach towels. Otherwise we're all set to pack him up ... except for the stuff I have to sew. Oh, and he needs a haircut. Hopefully we can squeeze in an appointment before the end of the week.
I survived Monday without eating any sugar. My sugar cravings hit mostly in the evening, so the last couple hours before bedtime were misery. As I was driving past Bedford Farms on the way back from the gym, it took every ounce of self control not to drive in there and order a cup of Muddy River ice cream ... I would have dived in with gusto! I stuck with it, though, bypassing my evening cup of warm chocolate malt Ovaltine with more than a little regret. My thinking was definitely foggier yesterday ... I'm hoping after a few days, I'll be able to think a little more clearly. Just happy I'm not teaching this week; I'm not sure my students would appreciate my incoherent thinking!
A couple days ago when I was waiting for a prescription to be filled at the grocery store, I spent some time looking through the paperback books and actually bought one. I usually take books like this out of the library or buy them used, but I was so in the mood for a summer read. It's a James Patterson bio/thriller called Zoo, and as usual with his novels, it's fast paced and just what i need intellectually right now ... meaning I don't have to think too hard as I read a couple chapters before bed each night. The only problem is, I've been having disturbing dreams. The other night I dreamed a rabid bat attacked me, so I fed it to a flying skunk. (Yes, you read that right.) And last night marauding bears and tigers made their appearances ... so I'm not sure this is the best reading before bed. Maybe I'll have to finish it up by reading in the morning. (Just learned this book as been made into a tv miniseries, which I think I'll skip.)
Not much to report on the sewing front. Taped the pdf pattern for O's board shorts together. Today I'll be cutting out the fabric. I also signed up for a free sewing class in early July at my local dealer. She told me I probably won't learn that much, but I figure if I learn a couple tips or two, it'll be worth my time.
Because of my sugar withdrawal yesterday, I had to rip back on my Pebble Beach shawl a couple times. (Missed a couple yarnovers, grrr.) It stinks when I have to rip back a row because now each row is over 200 stitches. Yes, I know I should use a lifeline, but weirdly enough I don't mind tinking, especially when the yarn is easy to work with as this yarn is. It's hard to see but the color of the yarn is starting to change from cream to pale mint. Lace is so not pretty before it has been blocked. ;-)
One of the pattern books I ordered off eBay showed up yesterday. It's from the 1960s, a collection of cabled cardigans put out by Reynolds yarn under the name "Mary of Holland." I did a bit of poking around to find out who, exactly, Mary of Holland is, since the pattern book doesn't say. The only thing Dutch about these sweaters are their names: Rotterdam, Utrecht, Dordrecht, even The Hague.
The model on the cover looks a lot like my college friend Staycee. :)
I thought the cabled designs were really pretty. I'm sure my brother will deem them "Denchy." ;-)
Sunday, June 28, 2015
We ended up getting an emergency pediatrician appointment for O on Friday. When he woke up that morning, his face was so swollen with the poison ivy, he was almost unrecognizable. The doctor was baffled because O said he was only walking through the woods, which would have kept the plant oils near his lower extremities yet he was covered with the stuff.
O mentioned later on that the friend he was with also had to go to the doctor, so at that point I said, "I'm going to call his mom." I noticed that O got a little quiet when I announced that. Hmm.
I finally got M's mom on the phone the next morning. Come to find out, her son told her they'd cleared some ground in the woods and built a campfire. A-ha! That explained it. I was pretty annoyed to hear this because O should have given his doctor this bit of information. When I confronted him with what I'd learned, O was like, "Oh yeah, we were." First, I was mad he was making campfires, but even more mad that he didn't tell the whole story. Breathing in urushriol (the allergenic substance in poison ivy) via smoke can actually kill! At least it explained the systemic reaction he experienced.
The doctor prescribed five days of steroid pills. We noticed a huge improvement on the first day. It is now the third day and O's face looks completely normal. We told him he'd be getting punished as a result, but after talking it over with my husband, we decided the agony of the rash was almost punishment enough. (We also made him research the penalties for starting campfires on conservation land.) His rash should be cleared up by the time he leaves for camp next weekend.
That has been the other big part of our weekend: getting camp ready. He's going to be away for two weeks, so we spent part of today doing an inventory of his clothes and toiletries. Tomorrow we'll be heading out to buy some more t-shirts, underwear, and socks. I also ordered a camp sheet set and started work on the board shorts he'll be using for swimming. When we checked the packing list the camp sent us, I noticed they wanted boys to bring two pairs of swim trunks, so it looks like I'll be sewing two pairs this week.
My weight loss has stalled. I noticed I'm eating much more sugar than I should, so this week I'm going sugar free to see if this helps get the scale moving again. Even fruit is off the list.
Very happy the escaped NY convicts are accounted for. Just heard they got the second guy alive. Maybe we'll get some more details how they pulled off that somewhat impressive escape!
Melody and I are finally getting to know each other a little better. I sat down Friday night and hemmed/repaired a pair of my husband's chinos. Then I re-hemmed the sleeves on his favorite shirt (they were raveling), removed a frayed collar, and used the darning foot to fill in some holes. I don't know how my husband gets so many holes in his clothes, it's crazy! Then today I repaired another pair of chinos -- more frayed hems -- and then sewed up a huge hole in the pocket of his favorite pair of shorts using the overcast stitch/foot. Everything was very easy and came out looking great. I think even my husband can see how much better Melody does with his mending. ;-)
This week's big sewing project will be the board shorts I talked about earlier. I'm a little nervous about them because I'm sewing on microfiber, which can be a little tricky.
Did a fair bit of knitting this weekend. I started by Pebble Beach shawl on Thursday night and just passed the 15% mark. It's a very enjoyable knit. The pattern provides a nice chart that lets you check off each row and tells you when you've hit 5%, 10%, etc. I went up to Hub Mills in Billerica yesterday to buy a new #6 Addi Lace needle. The needle I had was way too slippery for the laceweight merino I'm using, and Addi Lace needles, although metal, are somewhat grippy (maybe because of the coating?). The new needle is making the project even more enjoyable so it was worth the capital investment.
I'll take a picture tomorrow. I'm using a gradient yarn and the cream color is about to switch over to a pale mint.
Kristie, I love love love your Hudson Bay baby blanket. I read your blog via Feedly so I missed the photo in your blog header and am glad you wrote about it. Now I'm eager to knit one!!
Thursday, June 25, 2015
Anyway, I have a working tooth, and that's great. I rewarded myself with a quick stop at the bead shop down the street before I picked up O from his friend's house. (See more about beads below.)
O's poison ivy is getting a little worse. Today we tried aloe vera and cucumbers, as well as the OTC products I bought yesterday. The cucumber seems to help with itching the best, especially when we pureed it in the Vitamix, spread out out over his arms, and let it sit for awhile. Hey, gotta love a 59 cent treatment!
My brother called this evening and we had a nice chat. He's out in Oregon as a "Hot Shot" firefighter, putting out blazes caused by lightning strikes and drought. After a couple weeks of fires (which translates into $$$ for him), he's off to the coast for a few days for some R&R. I'm looking forward to him returning to the east coast this fall -- we talked about doing an overnight hike up in the White Mountains, so I'm going to look into an AMC membership. (He wants to stay in one of the AMC huts.) I will definitely be staying away from Mt. Washington this time. ;-)
Mr. Raccoon was back last night, trying to knock over our garbage bins. I know raccoons can be pests, but he's just the cutest guy. Tried to get pictures for O, but when he heard me at the window, he took off.
I've done some more "research" on Cecelia Campochiaro's new knitting book, Sequence Knitting. Ravelry has a page for the patterns contained in the book, which gives one a good idea of the types of fabrics that can be created, as well as photos of simple patterns for accessories. The hats excited me because some of my favorite winter caps are ones where the fabric seems textured. Example: Anne Hanson's Fartlek.
I forgot to mention the other reason why this book appeals to me and that's because Campochiaro works in the computer/tech field in Silicon Valley. She started playing around with binary sequences in her knitting and discovered that certain sequences produced interesting textures and fabrics. I'm somewhat left-brained and like math, so this concept *really* tickles that side of my brain.
Craftsy sent me an e-mail today that some classes in my wish list were priced at $19.99 or less until the weekend. One of them was Betz White's bag making class, so I signed up for it. I have some drapery fabric remnants in my stash that would make fantastic, hard-wearing bags. Tracy, your excellent results spurred me to sign up, so thank you!
Another Craftsy class I'm taking is Laura Nelkin's Knitting With Beads, thus why I stopped at the bead shop this a.m. (Nelkin is a dead-ringer for Annabella Sciorra ... she even sounds like her!) When I was at Stitches East last fall, I bought a skein of cream and turquoise gradient laceweight, and I'm thinking it would look lovely as a beaded shawl. I also got the idea in my head to do another mohair cardigan, but this one with slip-stitch beading around the cuffs, neckband, and lower edge/hem.
ETA: Started knitting Helen Stewart's Pebble Beach Shawl tonight with my gradient lace-weight. So far, enjoying the pattern!
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
This morning O woke up with his face red and swelled up. A closer inspection showed tiny blisters all over his face, arms, legs, neck, back, etc. so the culprit was determined to be poison ivy. He and his friends spend a lot of time in the woods climbing trees and building forts, so it was only a matter of time before he ran into problems with this noxious plant. (We since found out the friend he was with actually had to go to the doctor today as his poison ivy was even worse.) Poor O was in misery, so I gave him some allergy medication, then headed off to CVS downtown and dropped $40 on assorted creams, sprays, and washes. Once he applied them he felt much better, and after a couple hours, the swelling and redness had been reduced significantly. In the meantime, I stripped his bed of sheets, blankets and pillowcases and gave them a good long wash in hot water, and also did the same with the clothes he was wearing while he was in the woods. Although the oils in poison ivy don't seem to bother my skin, I know repeated exposure can cause a reaction, so I made sure to use rubber gloves. That's all I need, a new medical condition!
So ... we had to cancel O's hair appointment this afternoon, and instead he headed off to a friend's house for a sleepover. I guess he was feeling well enough to go see Jurassic World with him tonight.
Tomorrow I have an appointment to get a new crown on one of my back teeth. My dentist told me the old one needed to be replaced, even though it wasn't bothering me. I grit my teeth (no pun), shelled out the $1200, and last week went in to get a temporary crown put on ... and darn, wouldn't you know it, but I've had a toothache almost every day since then. I'm hoping when the new crown goes on tomorrow that the pain will go away. Tooth pain makes me exceedingly cranky.
We're planning a family reunion for July 11 up in Vermont that I'm very much looking forward to, along with a memorial service for my Aunt Pam, who passed away in January. I started a private Facebook group to keep everyone posted about times and gathering places, and wow ... almost 40 family members have joined! I often hear people complain about family reunions, but I love them. Part of it is I like knowing that I belong to a tribe, but it also makes me feel connected to family who have passed away and who I loved very much. Those memories are precious, and I think it's important to keep memories and stories alive, moreso as I age.
I finished knitting a feather and fan baby bonnet last night/early this a.m. (I couldn't sleep because of said tooth) and plan to give it to my knitting group friend K for her daughter's Girl Scout project (sending knit caps and mittens to Syrian refugees). I knit one a couple weeks ago with a pink ribbon, so this one I'll festoon with a blue.
I'm between knitting projects, except for a pair of "vanilla" socks, and am itching to cast on for a sweater. I did some swatching last week for an Amy Herzog/Custom Fit sweater ("Charlie's Cardigan"), but haven't yet mustered the energy to do all my measurements. Plus, I'm still waiting to see if anyone from my Thursday a.m. knitting group wants to knit along with me. Now I'm toying with the idea of knitting Meg Swansen's Garland Necklace Yoke sweater. I have a bunch of cream Paton's wool, and was thinking a delft blue wool would look nice as a contrast.
Last night during my late owl web surfing on eBay, I ordered two vintage 1960s Reynolds knitting pattern books I've had my eye on for some time. When they come in, I'll do a review.
As for sewing, there's nothing to report. Still giving Melody a wide berth. My husband left a pair of chinos and two shirts for mending on the back of my chair. (I love to mend/fix/repair stuff ... it's in my frugal Yankee nature.) These tasks don't seem so daunting so I'll get on them after my dentist appointment tomorrow.
Speaking of mending ... I noticed that Jean Miles had ordered a new book called Sequence Knitting, which sounded interesting. About five minutes later, I stumbled upon a comprehensive interview with the author, Cecelia Campochiaro, on Tom of Holland's mending blog. I think this is the Universe telling me I need this book. Sixty dollars is a lot but I like how the author put her book together, with a lot of care and detail.
Monday, June 22, 2015
Meet the newest addition to my sewing studio, Melody!
Oh my gosh, where do I start? I guess we'll start a little over a year ago, when I started thinking again about upgrading my sewing machine. I had a perfectly fine Husqvarna Viking 400, but it was closing in on its 15th birthday and I found that there were little things about the machine that were difficult for me to work around as my sewing skills improved. For example, threading the needle! My 50-year-old eyes struggle with this task, but the newer high-end machines have automatic threading. Ah, what a luxury. I'm also a rather slow sewer, meaning you won't catch me putting "the pedal to the metal" but my Viking's speed could only be controlled through the foot pedal rather than with a button on the machine that I could set to "slow." I wanted a machine where the needle would stay down in the fabric when I stopped sewing (my Viking does that only when you tap the foot pedal once) and ideally, a machine that allowed me to lift the presser foot without taking my hands off the fabric (using a knee lift).
A couple months ago, I put a small deposit down on a Pfaff Ambition. It was a rather spur-of-the-moment thing at a sewing machine dealership I often frequent. I felt a little pressured, to be honest, but I was assured I could change my mind. The Pfaff was fine, but it didn't have some of the features I wanted in my ideal machine, so I hesitated about going back to pay it off. The other machine I'd been considering was the Juki F600, which gets great reviews. However, not many dealers around here sell Juki home machines, and I didn't want to order one over the Internet without trying out ... plus, I want to support my local sewing machine shops, even if it costs me a little more. A good local dealer is worth more to me than a few dollars saved.
Then a couple weeks ago, I drove down to southeastern Massachusetts to Reliable Machines. Unfortunately I found out after driving there that they'd closed shop. Luckily there was another dealership nearby ... and they sold Jukis! However, they didn't have the F600, but the salesperson suggested that I try the Baby Lock Melody, which was similar. I did ... and I fell hard for it. Beautiful stitching, quiet, met all my requirements. The only thing was, it was a LOT more than the Pfaff. Much more than I had saved up. I figured it would take me a year to save up for it, so I put my machine lust on the back burner and said a sorry goodbye.
I digress now, but in the meantime, my mother had developed some serious health issues. She (amazingly!) bounced back and was filled with newfound energy and a desire to get back into quilting and sewing. I mentioned to her that I'd been in the market for a new machine, she said she wanted to buy a used machine ... and one thing led to another where she agreed to take my Viking and give me money to buy the Melody! I know that sounds like an uneven trade, but the Viking is a fantastic machine for machine for quilting (extension table, walking foot, piecing foot -- pretty much every foot a quilter could want!) and my mom knows I take good care of my machines. In fact, I'd recently had the machine serviced.
I was set to buy the Melody from the dealer 30 miles south of us, but then my local dealer gave me an even better deal (saving me about $200 extra dollars!) so that was it. I brought the Viking down to my mother's house last weekend and gave her a sewing lesson, she gave me a generous amount of money, and then last Friday I picked up my Melody from the dealership.
She was super easy to set up. Quiet, sews like a champ. There are so many features, I don't even know where to begin. My husband had a pair of chinos that needed re-hemming, so that was my first project. Now I'm getting ready to make bathing trunks for him and board shorts for O.
Here's the deal. I'm kind of intimidated by the machine. I walk by it and sort of get this sick, panicky feeling. Crazy, isn't it? I've only worked on fairly simple machines ... even my Viking 400, though computerized, was pretty basic. My Melody gives me the feeling of, "Where the *&^% do I begin?" It has been bugging me because I have so many projects I want to finish, and new projects I want to begin, but I get tense and nervous thinking about sitting down to start them. Then I start beating myself up and feeling guilty that I have such a beautiful new machine just sitting there, waiting for action. LIke I said ... CRAYZEE!
For the last couple days, I've been "avoidance knitting." When I'm stressed, I knit. I also do a lot of thinking when I knit, and I finally decided on a strategy to get over my intimidation. It actually came about by thinking about what I tell my magazine writing students who get overwhelmed by all the tasks they have to accomplish to build a successful career and that's to pick one task on the list and just get it done. It may not be the one thing that should be done first, or the most important task on the list or even the right task, but the point is, it gets you moving toward a goal ... a goal of getting published. Or in my case, the goal of feeling comfortable around my new machine!
Does anyone else go through this too? Or is it just me?
Happy summer! I hope to have some finished sewn objects to show you soon. :)
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
But here I am, and here's what she's doing: it's a charity knitting project called Warm Hands, where knitted items are sent over to Syrian refugee camps in Jordan, Turkey, and other countries. Along with the knitted item -- which can be mittens, hats, sweaters, blankets, socks, whatever -- she asks that you include a handwritten note of encouragement for the recipient. The items will be sent to a school on the border of Turkey and Syria, where they will be gifted to families in need.
More details about Jules and her inspiring work here and specific details on what she's looking for here. I have already completed one hat and am hoping to get to a pair of mittens within the next week.
In other news ... what a month we've had around here! I've been running back and forth to Connecticut to care for an ailing family member, managing my son's busy social schedule, and trying to keep up with all the pressing household tasks that need doing, especially now that spring is officially here and I've got that burning need to tidy my life up. My knitting time has been reduced drastically, although I have finished a couple projects that I just haven't had time to photograph, and now that warm weather is here, I find myself heading to my sewing studio (a/k/a a corner of my husband's home office). I've sewn four tailored shirts so far, and this week started a pair of (drumroll) JEANS. Like I've been preaching here for the last year or so, I want to sew clothes for the life I have now, not the life I wish I had, so jeans make total sense for me. Plus, wearing an awesome pair of well-fitting jeans makes me feel like a million bucks.
I've finished the hard part of the project -- the fly front -- as well as the front and back pockets, so all that's left to do is seaming and topstitching. Unfortunately, my Viking 400 started suffering some internal distress while I was zig-zagging, so I packed it up yesterday and brought it to the sewing machine doctor for some TLC. I could have continued the project on one of my--ahem--four other machines, but decided instead to carefully pin all the seams together so I could try them on. The bad news? They were huge on me. The good news? They were huge on me. I've got a fair bit of work to do to get them to fit me just right.
The pattern I'm using is from Angela Kane's members-only website. I've been a member of her site for a couple years, and for $5 per annum, it's a real value. I'm also augmenting the instructions by watching Angela Wolf's jean-making class on Craftsy, which I also highly recommend. Angela Kane doesn't get into distressing the denim, so I've learned a lot of good stuff from Angela Wolf, who is the Distressing Diva.
If these jeans go well, I plan to make another pair ... with a decidedly Anglophile twist. ;-)
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Or maybe I'm avoiding looking at the mess in our border gardens!
This winter kicked my butt, mentally and physically. I was sick most of March and still don't feel like I have my energy back. That said, I've managed to get quite a bit of craft work done while recuperating and hiding out from the snow.
My big project of the season was mastering the tailored shirt:
Both shirts were created in Pam Howard's excellent Craftsy class, The Classic Tailored Shirt, which I highly recommend if you have any interest in making (or wearing) custom tailored clothing. One of my strange fascinations is with men's tailoring ... I can spend hours watching YouTube videos about old Sicilian tailors or the future of Savile Row. When my husband and I honeymooned in Italy, I swear I was more excited about his getting a custom tailored jacket in Milan than he was.
A hand-tailored shirt can run into hundreds of dollars, and there's usually a minimum order, which means unless one has thousands of discretionary dollars sitting around in a checking account, this kind of clothing is out of reach of most ordinary folks. I am definitely "ordinary folk," but I do have some mad sewing skillz, so this winter I decided to master shirt-tailoring. My ultimate goal is to fit and create shirts for my husband's wardrobe, and my interim goal is to master the details that go into fine shirtmaking by sewing shirts for myself. The pink shirt was my first attempt. It's made of linen, which was lovely to press and sew, but a bit too ravel-ly for the flat-felled seaming I had to do. The blue shirt is cotton chambray, and I definitely improved on this second attempt. Each shirt took me about a week to complete; I would spend a couple hours each night on one facet of construction, such as cutting fabric, sewing the collar, or felling seams. This schedule worked out great for me as I never felt rushed or tired, and each night I could see my shirt taking shape.
The pattern, btw, is Kwik Sew 3555, view A.
I have been sewing since I was in junior high/middle school, and although I was always enthusiastic about creating clothing, I was never very good at it, simply because I had no patience and wanted to wear what I was making that night. Cue a lot of wiggly seams and ill-fitting attire. The turning point in my sewing career came when I started knitting. See, it can take months to knit one sweater and a week to knit one sock. However, sewing an item of clothing, even when I'm patient and methodical, can take just hours. Sewing feels F-A-S-T to me now, even when I spread those hours out over a week or two.
Still, knitting is my true love, and I've been knitting up a storm. Here's a peek at a sweater I just finished but haven't properly photographed:
I'm using notions and trimmings from my stash, so I decided to go with the plaid, which ended up being a great choice for the thistle color of the wool, don't you think? Very Highlander. :)
Some odds and ends ... I have been thinking about a blog post entitled "Buying is Not the Only Way to Engage," written by Samantha at A Gathering of Stitches. This part really struck me:
"Look at your stash. Yes, right now, go look at it, really look at it. Pretty nice,huh? Wouldn't it feel really good to just pull it out, piece by piece and start using it? What are you saving it for? Don't buy more, until you use some of what you have! Buying is dangerous. It is a temporary exchange. Once that thing comes home to you, you adapt to it and become de-sensitized to it, and it is no longer as satisfying as you thought it could be. So you push that button again and buy something else.... A vicious cycle ensues.... "
I am guilty of this kind of behavior, thinking I can't start a project because I don't have the right thread or that my creative life would be so much richer with a Juki F600 on my sewing table. Samantha's post made me realize how much possibility I have already, and it inspired me to get back into my sewing room and work with the riches I already have.
Next -- a couple days ago I got a nasty paper cut on my left hand, which has now gone all itchy. I'm convinced I've contracted an MRSA superbug and will shortly be losing my hand ... okay, I'll stop with the drama. My research led me to this interesting PBS news report that a medieval treatment of garlic, wine, and cow's bile can kill MRSA bacteria. Here's the video: fascinating!
Lastly, are you watching Wolf Hall on PBS? I had a terrible choice Sunday night: Mad Men or Wolf Hall, and I went with Mad Men because I knew I could watch Wolf Hall later on my PBS app. When I was a kid, I was fascinated with Tudor history, and as an adult, I'm still a little nerdy about it. I watched the first episode twice, and next Sunday I'll probably save Mad Men for another night. I've read the book, but have yet to read its sequel. On my reading list ...
Thursday, February 26, 2015
Finally, the cardigan of my dreams!
A few months ago, I started thinking about how much I wanted a cardigan sweater that had a dressier look. Most of my handknit cardigans are knit from practical, sturdy heavy-duty wool and, paired with jeans, look fine. But I could never wear them with a wool skirt or trousers and look, well, polished.
Now I have a sweater I can swan around town in.
This was my first experience knitting with two strands of laceweight mohair/silk held together, and I have to say it was a complete joy. Any fears I had about knitting with this feathery substance were quickly forgotten, especially after I got past knitting onto the cast-on row, the only really tricky part for me. I used KnitPicks Aloft in the color Carbon. My only "complaint" was knitting such a dark color in the dead of winter wasn't always easy, especially with my poor eyesight at night ... but otherwise I loved every minute knitting this sweater. Wearing it is even better. It's like wearing a cloud. So soft and warm!
Even seaming it was fun! A few months ago, I had purchased a Craftsy course on seaming, which was very helpful since it's one of those knitting tasks I tend to avoid at all costs. The instructor, Chris Bylsma, is very good: calm, competent, reassuring. I highly recommend this course to novice or nervous seamsters. I prefer the look of a seamed sweater and now that I know I can do a competent job, I won't avoid seamed patterns any longer!
One note: I put the buttons on the right button band for the simple fact that snaps are used for fastening. The buttons are purely decorative when the cardigan is "buttoned up."
If you want to read more details about the cardigan, they're on my Ravelry page.
I plan to knit two more Kelly Cardigans: a red one and a cream one. I'm going to lower the neckband on these next versions, as well as add some torso length to accommodate my long waist.
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Greetings from snowy eastern Massachusetts!
I've been trying to up my game with my knitting this winter, although I was thinking about it this morning and wondering why. You see, I tend to knit a lot of utilitarian items: wooly socks, felted mittens, hats that can be easily spotted by drivers on the road, thick wooly sweaters...these are the types of garments I wear 95 percent of the time. However, I long for a wardrobe that's stylish -- I look at knitters like Leslie and the Rainey Sisters and think, "If only I thought a little more about fashion!" (Haa, just noticed that the Rainey Sisters knit the Heart Pops hat I talk about further on ... guess I'm on the right trail!)
As I left the house this a.m., bundled up in simple wool socks, a reflective knit hat, and my bright red mittens--my first ham-handed attempt at felting, complete with wonky acrylic cuffs!--I came to the conclusion that it's okay to be more of a utilitarian knitter. I'm happy with these items. They work for me and the life I lead here in New England. I'm just never going to be a wearer of delicate lace shawls or high-style cardigans. By the way, the hats above are from a free pattern I downloaded at WEBS called Heart Pops. I've been knitting these up in stray balls of yarn I've found around the house. I'm not a pink girl, but I'm really loving the pink and white version -- so cute!
So all this thinking about fashion is why I chose to knit the Kelly Cardigan from Erica Knight in an effort to look a little bit more, in the words of Project Runway, "fashion forward." It's a simple cardigan design, but knitted in mohair/silk yarn, it's luxurious ... and warm! The yarn is Aloft from KnitPicks in the color "carbon." I would have liked to knit this in Rowan Kidsilk Haze, but I'm sticking to my Yarn Diet in 2015 like white on rice. I'm happy with Aloft ... the only part that's fiddly with laceweight silk/mohair yarn held double is knitting the first row on the cast-on stitches. After that, it's smooth sailing, unless one has to tink back or rip out stitches. Luckily that hasn't been an issue for me as this pattern is simple and smooth sailing. You don't even have to knit buttonholes (snaps are used), although I am going to sew on some jet and crystal ones for some additional pizzazz. I think I could get addicted to knitting with mohair/silk yarn -- it's like knitting a cloud!
The air here has been so dry. A couple weeks ago I was at my doctor getting an asthma check and she told me our interior humidity should be around 40%. We have a large humidifier upstairs, but nothing downstairs, where I spend most of my day. My husband bought a hygrometer, and yikes! Our humidity level was around 20%. So I borrowed a trick from my mother-in-law ... when we used to ski out west where the air is even drier than it is here back east, she would fill pots with water and boil them on the stove to add moisture to the air. I go one step further and add cinnamon sticks, cloves, and leftover Meyer lemons. Mmm, our house smells so good! We all notice a big difference with the additional moisture. My skin isn't as dry and flaky, and none of us have had any nosebleeds this winter. (I also leave bowls of water around the house near our heating vents ... not sure if this helps but the water does seem to evaporate fairly quickly.)
Lastly, some photos of the snow in our side and backyards. We're supposed to get 3 to 6 inches more this Friday. My son has not had a full week of school since the holidays. He may be making up time until July at the rate we're going with this weather! The snow has not kept the cardinals away this winter ... I'm seeing more of them at the feeders. They're so pretty, but boy! they're bossy! It's hard to believe that in a little over a month it'll be time to plant my peas. Will the snow be melted enough to do so?
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
I go to bed before anyone else around here. As I was saying my goodnights last night, I noticed the smell of meat coming from our kitchen. Not surprising since my husband likes to eat late. What was a surprising was that he was cooking hamburger in our waffle iron. Or, I should say, he'd attempted to cook hamburger in our waffle iron. I say "our" waffle iron because it was a wedding gift we received from our friends Chris and Melanie seventeen years ago, a gift that we've often remarked has been the most-used wedding gift in our household.
I bit my tongue as I watched my husband (sheepish expression on his face) chisel bits of burger out of the iron. Then I said goodnight, too tired to observe his cooking escapades any longer.
So...I get up this morning, eager to make my son happy, and bounce into the kitchen. The waffle iron is still out and looks surprisingly clean. I plug the appliance in to heat up while I gather ingredients, and that's when I smell ... meat. Then I hear sizzling coming from the iron, which I can only assume is sizzling meat.
Undaunted, I smooth waffle batter over the heated iron and tell myself I'll do what Julia Child used to do with her first crêpe of her batch ... toss it out. I'm confident this first waffle will absorb any beefy flavor leftover on the iron, and the remaining waffles will be fine.
Except, as you can see, they weren't.
The timer went off and as I lifted the top of the iron up, the waffle pulled in half. Normally the waffles just slip out of the iron as easily as silk slips across skin. But not this morning. I reached for silicone tongs, hoping that a little force would help the remnants un-adhere. No dice.
My son walks out into the kitchen, takes one look at the mess, and says, "Oh, Dad was trying to get the hamburger out with steel wool last night."
As my friend Gwen said after seeing the picture above and hearing how my husband attempted to clean the iron, "Well, who doesn't like waffles with old hamburger, bits of steel wool, and Teflon dust in them? Maple syrup is for the weak."
I've left the waffle iron on the counter, waffle still adhered, with a note that says, "Please order a new waffle maker AND a George Foreman Grill."
I'm beginning to think there's something to this whole "Mercury is in retrograde" business everyone's talking about.
Friday, January 30, 2015
Yesterday we said a sad goodbye to the last our cats, Phoebe (1998-2015). She had been struggling with thyroid issues for the past couple years, so we knew her time with us was coming to an end. I had told myself that when she was having more bad days than good ones, it would be time ... and this week was that week. Very sad but she had a good long life and passed away peacefully while getting her ears rubbed. She was in heaven even before she got there. :)
I've had to euthanize a few pets in my lifetime. It's a decision I hate making, but a necessary one as I feel suffering is even worse. I would much rather know that my pet died peacefully and without pain, surrounded by people who loved her than ... well, the alternatives. We'll just leave it at that.
Of course, it was sad waking up this morning without an animal to feed, walk, or water for the the first time in 30something years. On the other hand, for the first time in awhile, I did not wake up in the middle of the night needing to puff on my inhaler. When I was a child, I was terribly sensitive to cat dander ... by the time I reached my teens, the irritation seemed to disappear. Now my asthma is back full-force and it occurs to me that the allergens that used to bother me -- dust, cat dander, dairy products -- are back in play. We shall see.
When we were talking to the vet before Phoebe's passing, he noted that she was polydactyl, that is, double-pawed, and asked us if we were aware that meant she descended from the Mayflower. He said that a double-pawed cat was brought over on the ship and thus double-pawed cats today are all descended from that cat! I did a bit of journalistic research, and while I couldn't find specific evidence that polydactyl cats descend from one specific Mayflower kitty, I did learn that polydactyl cats were introduced to New England through ships coming from England and they're more common here than they are in other parts of the U.S. Through my father's side I descend from a number of Mayflower passengers -- I'm something like a 16th or 17th generation New Englander! -- so it's quite fitting that our beloved cat was a real Yankee, too.