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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

apple crisp, Elizabeth's tights

apple crisp
another winter food which I always look forward to making and eating!

Of course, I couldn't help but dive into it, before I thought to take a photo! Hubby says, "You're not gonna put that picture on your blog, are you?" "Yup," says I, they'll understand.

Put 6 large apples, mixed varieties, peeled, cored, and sliced into a deep dish pie pan (I use a glass pie dish).

In a bowl, mix up 1 c unbleached, unbromated flour with 1.5 c oats (quick or rolled oats - your choice), 2.3 - 3/4 c sugar, 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 - 3/4 tsp nutmeg and a few shakes of salt.

Add enough canola oil (1/3+ c) to get the mix wet and crumbly, then load onto the apples, spreading evenly. You could use butter instead of canola oil, but I find the butter and oats ends up tasting like nuts - weird, I know.

Bake 350 degrees about 1 hour, til the topping browns (not too dark, now!) and the apples have cooked down a little. Check it at 45-50 minutes. They will continue to cook down a bit more as it cools. The shrunken mound of apple crisp started as a high dome!

I never measure, I just eyeball it - you can't mess this up, whether you use a little more or less of any of the ingredients, it's always good.

Elizabeth's Tights
I put the first leg's sts onto a long enough ndl so to try it on. I need to adjust Elizabeth's directions.

I'm not tall by any stretch of the imagination - on the lower edge of average height - 5'4" - but her directions from the knee to the thigh, then crotch are too short. Increasing on every 3rd rnd gives the full thigh stitch count before the real fullness of the thigh occurs. Then one is supposed to work 2" or until the crotch. I need more like 6".

I think it would be better to spread out the increases, so there are less plain inches needing to be worked at the thigh top. It would also reduce/eliminate the bagginess which is occurring.

SO, I am doing the 2nd leg differently. If I like it, I'll rip back the other leg and rework. After the knee, I'm increasing on every 7th rnd until reaching the thigh stitch count, which should spread the increases out better along the inner thigh.

I AM enjoying knitting with Plymouth's organic Homestead wool yarn. It just whizzes along on my Addi ckns. And considering that I'm using a sheep's grey color, the ckns are nickel-colored (so the 2 colors blend), I was knitting last night with low light (hate bright lights), and my sight leaves much to be desired, knitting still whuzzed around (past tense of whizz?)!

So, the capelet is on temporary hold til I finish these tights.

Getting 40+ mph winds later to go with the snow we're getting now - ah, winter!

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

winter food, coming out of the woodwork, healthier

winter food
I made the escarole soup yesterday for moi - with lots of garlic - love garlic! - and cooked some chicken cutlets for hubby's dinners. IF I'm up to it later, I'll make an apple crisp. In the winter, I prefer cooked apples to raw.

coming out of the woodwork
Had another agent call today wanting to show the house. Told her not while I'm still doing chemo (is that like doing *lunch*?). It's aggravating enough, when you're well, to deal with the no-shows, the cancellations, the too earlys, the way too lates, the arrogance, attitude and the endless foot traffic through your house, but when your energy is fragile, forget about it.

After 3 years, I really don't want to go through it any more. I've had my fill. But there's no other way to sell one's house. At least I don't have to think about it for 3 more months. And maybe the market will have changed enough by then so they don't think they're doing you a favor by looking at your house!

I bought hubby 2 BPA-free water bottles as part of his Christmas presents. He takes a water bottle every day to work and no-one needs cancer-causing chemicals oozing from water bottles into one's drinking water. This particular bottle design does NOT leak - a nice plus. Knock it over accidentally in the car, with no worries.

This then made me go through the plastic containers we have in which he carries, then heats up, his hot lunches in. Ah, all except one was not safe. So I researched and found out that these Rubbermaid containers (amongst others) are BPA-free. So, for $15, I bought a set of them in a variety of sizes, from Drugstore.com.

At home, I never heat up anything in plastic, always in ceramic or glass, but he can't take ceramic or glass to work, so , with these, I can rest my mind.

I also got him some Gloves in a Bottle and Watkins Shea Butter for his poor cracked fingers. He can use the shea butter at night and before he leaves for work, then use the GIAB at work to protect his hands. Love the vanilla scent in the Watkins! I hope this helps.

Gonna go put my feet up and work on those wool EZ tights. Am on the 2nd leg, but haven't knit on them in over week, what with the holidays and working on the capelet. Am eager to see how they'll wear.

Monday, December 29, 2008

the delicate balance

Was supposed to have a house showing yesterday, til they called and cancelled, but not until all the cleaning and putting away had been done. So, hubby made a no-showings-til-we-relist dictate, to save me from this added stress. And we're not relisting til my chemo's over with. It's nice to have someone to protect you!

And an agent drove some people by on Saturday and another agent wanted to show it Saturday, when she called - funny - give sellers NO time whatsoever to straighten up - yeah right. The house is off the market and they're coming out of the woodwork. The only people we'll allow by are the 2 interested couples who saw it before the listing ended.

Christmas, even this quiet one, which was only DD visiting and some phone calls, was apparently too much for my body. I slept over 2 hours on the loveseat yesterday evening, then another 8.5 hours overnight. My mouth has sores again, gross, I know, mouth corners are cracked, it's getting hard to swallow my vitamins and my muscles ache (this last one comes with each chemo). Pookie just went downtown to pick up my heart pills and the prescription numbing mouth rinse, before going off to his 2 jobs - poor guy - always on the go.

This was how it was with chemo 1, didn't want it back ever, as I couldn't eat for a week. I'm gonna put a mute sign around my neck for when DD comes later to pick up some of this lasagna to take with her, and I'm gonna lie down as much as I can each day to let the bod heal. I'll also make some escarole soup later, so I can get some greens into me.

I was doing really well, apparently as long as I have limited people interaction. Back to quiet days and nights, just me, Pickles, and knitting!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Crazy for Tea Cozies, Chemo Glands, Designing

Crazy for Tea Cozies
Just read Kristin's blog this morning, as I do every morning, a she's SO creative, way past me, for sure!, and ya just gotta go look at these 2 blogs about wild tea cozies, even if you don't LIKE tea cozies - they're fabulously artistic: Grand Purl Baa, Queen of the Tea Cozies and Wild For Tea Cozies. Oh, I just got that! Grand Purl Baa, as in Grand Poobah!

Chemo Glands
Hubby's gone to do the food shopping and library book return, before DD and her beau arrive. But I gotta rest my throat today - smack me if I talk too much. Actually, I won't even have to smack myself, my glands are talking loudly enough to be heard. It IS a strain on the system, with the reduced immune levels. Bah on chemo!

Another reason to love writing (as if I needed another reason!), voice not needed! But I still have another brother to phone for the holidays, but an hour on the phone will put me under for days, as all the Christmas phoning and DD visiting is doing to me, so maybe I'll just wait 'til New Year's and hopefully can handle it by then.

The capelet *seems* to be working out better this time around. One of my errors, the first time around, was not accounting for the row take-up of the slipped stitch patterning when working out the decreasing sequence. Big duh, I know.

Am undecided about the yarn substitution for the Chill Chaser Vest. I swatched 2 strands Alpaca Boucle - love the fabric, too large a gauge.

Swatched 2 strands La Gran mohair - love the fabric, too large a gauge and way too visually thick for a larger-sized garment.

Swatched 1 strand each of the La Gran and the B&L Softspun - now this I love a lot. It's a nice filed in enough fabric, and it gets gauge! But will knitters NOT MIND using 2 yarns from 2 separate companies, to knit a garment??? La Gran comes in SO many colors, it should be easy enough to either match the Softspun wool's colors or coordinate with them.

Then there's the 2 strands of the Softspun, which gets gauge, but I'm not sure about the fabric density. Have to go pull out the original sample, knit in the Bear Creek and compare the fabrics. And I still have to swatch the Country roving, when it comes in, but it IS more rustic that I think many knitters would prefer, not as much as Lopi would be - which I also swatched double - too large a gauge - but still not as soft as many prefer.
The Softspun *says* 240 yards/4 oz, but I'm not so sure. I measured the hank's circumference - 5' - and the # of strands in the hank and it comes up near their Heritage yarn about 215 or so yards/4 oz, which is further supported by the 4.5 sts/1" gauge it wants to knit at.

NOW, I've only measured 1 hank, so don't hold me to this info, as yet - it could be an anomaly - so I'll be counting more hanks, to make sure, when they come in. Personally, I prefer the thicker yarn, but, as I've found with another small millspun yarn, the labeling of yardage really should be as accurate as possible, or it will mislead knitters, especially newer knitters who may not be able to just look at a yarn and know the yardage and gauge it will get, like experienced knitters can do.

I think that's it for now. Gotta go dress and put on a face!

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas, Designing, Socks

Had a lovely, quiet Christmas. DD stopped by for a few hours and will be back on Saturday with new beau for much of the day. One of her gifts was a cap I knit which didn't fit (she's smaller than me), so I undid it and reknit her a scarf last night. She may be 28, but she prefers her Transformers hat, anyway!

The Alpaca Boucle I'm using in a grey/black tweed is quick to knit and the color (or lack thereof!) is right up her latest wear-just-black phase. Must be from working in NYC, where dressing in black is de rigeur.

And of course, many hours were spent on the phones with relatives, who all sent such lovely gifts - much to enjoy and be thankful for! Including Pookie's Lasagna with meatballs on the side - a Christmas tradition in our house.

What I love to listen to at Christmas - thanks to gift from wonderful hubby - Can't help it - grew up watching the special every year,a nd always loved the music!

Cool jazz - no wonder I like it - absolutely LOVE another cool jazz group - The Dave Brubeck Quartet.

My middle brother and wife sent a lovely tea set with herbal teas chosen specifically to boost my health!

So, I tried the Mulberry tea last night, and actually drank it. For herbal tea, the taste wasn't bad at all. I've always liked the *idea* of herbal teas, but not usually the taste! There's 2 more to try - Lemongrass and Southern Ginseng.

Today, I get to rest my throat (Hubby has his 2 jobs to go to) and immune system - seems the Dexamethasone is not only to help with the nausea, but it's also the stupid steroid that messes with the sleep AND is an immune suppressant. Though I made it to almost 8 am this morning, which is better than the first couple post-chemo days were, sleep-wise. I was plum tuckered out by 9 last night (aided, I'm sure, by the slow-digesting lasagna!), so I'm sure that allowed me to sleep a bit more.

I WAS gonna use Bollicine's Revolution for the new Chill Chaser Vest sample, but after receiving the yarn and swatching it, there's no way in heck this yarn is a good substitute for Kraemer Yarns' Bear Creek.

Way too thin - they list the gauge as 2 sts/1" - yeah, if you want gauze for a fabric! So, I've been looking online, and finally thought to double up the B&L Softspun and swatched it last night. This may do it, gauge-wise (it's still blocking) and is much softer than the Bear Creek and the Revolution, AND I'll be ordering the yarn, anyway, so that helps as I won't need to get another yarn elsewhere and pay extra shipping.

If not, I'll swatch their Country Roving, when it comes in. I could just ask Kraemer Yarns for more yarn, but I don't want to overextend their generosity, and it IS nice to see a design in an alternative yarn, anyway.

Kraemer Yarns' Naturally Nazareth yarn is holding up rather well in the 3 pairs of socks I've knit from it, despite it not having any nylon content! And I'm HARD on socks, so that's saying something. Now it IS worsted to heavy worsted wt, and needs hand washing, but if you have my sock yarn prefs and haven't found anything sturdy enough, yet cozy to wear, you may want to try this yarn out.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Flying Slipcovers, Holiday Oatmeal, For Sale

Flying Slicovers
They just *flew* here! I ordered them on the 20th, and the box was on the porch when we got back from chemo. I've ordered from Overstock.com before and waited a week or more and it wasn't the holiday season then.

I'm happy with them, although I wrapped and tucked the arms differently. as these arms aren't as deep as some arms, so there was much fabric to tuck. After washing, I'm sure they'll shrink up and then maybe I can do it the way it was designed to fit.

Speaking of overstocks, 2 ladies at chemo loved my new snow boots, which I got from Land's End overstocks many weeks ago, in anticipation of all this white stuff. Oops - I told them LL Bean, drat. The Bean musta been on my mind, as that's where I got most of Pookie's gifts.

Holiday Oatmeal
Top your oatmeal with brown sugar and vanilla egg nog (instead of milk or cream)! Ohmigod, it's good!

For Sale
An LK 100 bulky manual knitting machine, has all parts, manual and a video, I think. Video isn't shown in photo, but I'm sure I have it somewhere and will dig it out.

Adjustment 12/26: Was asking $75 plus shipping, OBO, is now $40 plus shipping but minus the intarsia carrigae which is being sold separaetly and there's now 1 broken ndl on the main bed (now 89, not 90 ndls) - prrof that I'm not meant to use a knitting machine! Needles should be available through some knitting machine suppliers, such as Angelikas . Seems you'd need the stopper and roller to fit onto the butt end of the 1 ndl - a total of $1.60 plus postage, as that is what has snapped off.

Will be posting on 2 lists on Ravelry, as well. Need to make up for that wig I bought and which is just not selling on Ebay - this is the 3rd time I'm listing it.

All I've ever knit on this machine is a few swatches. I thought I'd get to make simple sweater bodies with it, or afghan panels, but just never did, and don't see myself' using it - I really am a hand knitter!

Added 8:25 pm
Here's the video and the AG 10 intarsia carriage that goes with the machine.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

yarn goodness, this is what happens, yet more snow

yarn goodness

Yesterday's mail brought my Plymouth Homestead wool yarn for my Elizabeth Zimmermann tights, which I'll bring to chemo on Tuesday along with the capelet to work on.


Mail also brought B&L's wholesale info and yarn color cards - now THAT was quick. I had just emailed them on Wednesday.

As soon as I can, I'll get in a few colors of their Softspun and some of the Country Roving, and get them into my storefront. And maybe the Atlantic, for those wanting to knit the Sylvie coat from Twist Collective? not to mention this capelet design, being knit in the same red.

The Country Roving has the same yardage and put up as the (defunct) White Buffalo Unspun. OriginallyLink meant for Cowichan-style sweaters, but it should be good for felted and Lopi-like items. B&L has a new felted bag pattern, so it must work.

I can also see felted rugs. It's reasonably inexpensive, which is good, as rugs use a lot of yarn. One could also separate the 5 strands into 3 strands and 2 strands and use the 3 strands for a Lopi-style garment.

In the meantime, I have a couple hanks of the Softspun for swatching, SO, if anyone wants to feel this new Briggs & Little yarn, just email me and I'll pop a knittable sample in the snail mail to you. Be sure to hand wash your swatch to see the finished fabric.

this is what happens
when you let me loose in the kitchen - lots of baked goods magically appear -

a big bowl of large sugar cookies and a plateful of tea scones. They typically use butter, which hubby can't tolerate and I'm not handling it so well either, so I used canola oil, instead. Plenty for him to bring to work and share.

yet more snow

It's winter, by date and by precipitation. And precipitiation. And precipitation!

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

so far so good, the capelet that wasn't, Thanksgiving - again, let it snow, slipcovers

so far so good
Pet scan shows shrinkage of interior lumps and no new growth. And they took blood, of course. Always taking blood, to be seconded by vitals, then EKGs. They watch you like a hawk. I don't mind. It's a congenial office, and the nurses always have a story to tell or some friendly conversation to make.

Doc asked if all my hair is gone - well, yeah, been gone a long time now. It's growing in, but not everywhere, so I'm keeping the eggbontz shaved, until it decides to grow in unison. I used to grump about having to shave my legs every other day - it's weirder to have to shave your head every other day or so!

the capelet that wasn't
I WAS at the neck shaping on the capelet, and was cogitating the neck treatment. The stitch pattern for the capelet is subdued, so I think something bolder for the neck is in store. Then I try the thing on, and proceed to rip out the whole thing - about 18 ozs. of yarn - got the shaping all wrong. This usually happens the first time I attempt a shape that's new to me - I mess it up big time. Have seen the error of my ways and have cast on again.

Thanksgiving - again
Even though hubby bought the smallest turkey he could find, for Thanksgiving, we had enough to freeze, even after several post-Thanksgiving meals. And stuffing. So I pulled it out of the freezer last night and threw it and a couple cans of cranberry sauce into the fridge, so hubby has some lunches lined up. Then I took the remaining turkey and made a pot of soup. So when he came home from work last night, he says it smells like I cooked, with a smile on. Food really is the way to his heart!

let it snow

Beautiful snow. Until one has to shovel the stuff, then it's not so beautiful.

Hubby's at work again today, so I have a day's worth of housework that needs doing, and I found 2 very sale-priced slipcovers at overstock.com to order, for the 2 loveseats in the family room.

The loveseats have had the same white brocade covers for, oh, 10 years, probably more. They're still OK, though shrunken. For a few years, I've been wrapping the seat cushions in separate fabrics, as the one-piece covers no longer reach the floor when used as intended. I use full-size sheets, folded in half, wrapped around the cushions and duck taped in place. The duck tape is easier than pinning.

But all this white and beige, house-selling, lack of color is boring me to tears, not to mention, that with the little Pisher, I need to wash the white slipcovers often.

I love the country cottage look of the mixed prints on these new covers, and I have a small barn red-painted end table and floor lamp that should coordinate perfectly. It's the one room we LIVE in, besides the kitchen, out of this huge house, so it should look and feel homey.

It's bad enough that all my books are packed away, so that the small library could be *staged* differently, and the large book shelf put into the pantry to hold my Tea Rose Pfaltzgraff, hubby's vintage food tins, my basket collection and other kitchen paraphernalia. Otherwise buyers and agents had a hard time understanding that the room is a pantry, *despite* the fact that it connects the kitchen and dining room, so, yeah, what ELSE would it be?!

So, I've talked myself into getting new loveseat covers. I'll just put off getting those yarns from Webs. Especially, as I have to REknit the capelet first, then there's the Bollicine Revolution yarn bought from a Raveler, at a good price, for redoing the Chill Chaser Vest pattern in larger sizes with a more shallow v-neck. So I won't be needing more yarn right away.

I have wholesale info from Briggs & Little coming to me, so I can also hold off on buying their new Softspun, until I place an order with them. I may stock their Country Roving as well, and see if it doesn't get gauge for my Toasty Toes Felted Slippers.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Checkup, Knit Mags, Succumbed to the Pudding Monster

Back to the doc for a checkup today. Can't wait to see the results of the pet scan, muga scan and pulmonary test. The lump on my neck disappeared within days of the very first chemo, so I'm hoping the interior growths have responded as favorably. My wishful thinking has the doc abbreviating my treatments, as all 12 won't be necessary! Yeah, I doubt it, but I can't help wishing.

Knit mags
I've added my fav magazine links to my sidebar. VK and IK are long-time favs, but I'm liking Verena, too.

I bought their online Winter 2008 issue. This is a nice option, not offered by other mags. It's quick and less costly. I still like my print mags though, so I'll be buying their Fall 2008 issue, as a hard copy, or subscribing, as there's postage costs for single hard copies. I saw 2 neckline details that would be good options for the capelet.

Verena reminds me of VK - very stylish, beautiful models and scenery, but so far, the designs seem more wearable - always a good thing!

Succumbed to the Pudding Monster
I baked 2 apple/carrot cakes last night, to make up for hubby not seeing a drop of that chocolate pudding. Well, he SAW it. In the fridge. I made a point of showing him that I saved him some - SEE!

There wasn't much in the bowl. He laughed at the dregs I left him. Couldn't help it. It lassoed me and forced me to eat it, and didn't even wait til it was cooled, before twisting my arm and shoving a tablespoon into my hand. But he made the mistake of not having any - right away.

He shoulda known it was just a matter of time - so the pudding monster took over again after lunch the next day. Guilt? Not while the chocolately goodness was numbing my brain. But then, afterwards, I thought, Oops!, look what I did - I finished all the pudding! Quelle surprise!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

tests done, lotsa knitting, tea

tests done
Muga scan went fine yesterday, today's test was a PFT - pulmonary function test, a quick test. And that should be IT for tests, for awhile. I worked on a swatch in B&L's Softspun for the Braided Cable pullover, on the way there and back, and it's been hand washed and is dry. Gets pattern gauge. Like it a lot. Squishy. Yummy. Will get the yarn and CO as soon as possible.

lotsa knitting
I finished another Bon Bon Beanie cap last night, as well as the Baby Alpaca gift scarf. I ended up using the Irish Hiking Scarf pattern then edged it with 2 rows of single crochet. I only made it 40" long, for a single wrap around the neck (it's for chemo doc), and it just dipped into the 3rd, 50 gram ball of yarn. Maybe I can get a cap out of the rest of that ball...

MUST get back to the mitten pattern, but not today. Chemo sore muscles don't want to sit on hard chair, so I won't make them. Instead, I did some housework, and prepped several small packages for mailing and wrapped gifts for chemo staff.

As if I didn't have enough projects to knit, I saw a simple, but elegant hat on a show on the Sundance channel, I think, about French actresses. I'm going to try and replicate it. I'm also knitting a simple triangular head wrap in doubled Heirloom Breeze on 10's. We'll see if it works or will be too thick. In which case, I'll rip it and use 1 strand of yarn with 6's or 7's.

Am enjoying the Davidson's organic English Breakfast tea that came in Mom's Blueberry Breakfast Christmas gift. I love a strong tea, and may try their Irish Breakfast tea, which is supposedly even stronger than the English tea. And I like that it's organic - gotta start replacing as much as I can with organic, as I would like to ward off getting the leukemia that can later come after having lymphoma. Once through this stuff is enough - thank you very much!

I've been eating everything in the house for awhile now, and am making progress regaining that lost weight. I've been trying to steer clear of chocolate, but there are times, like ALL the time, I just wanna dive into a bowl of chocolate pudding or a layer cake and not come up for air!

Back to working on the capelet (and keeping my mind OFF chocolate) - maybe I should do a 2nd sample in Lopi?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

this 'n that

It's been 4 years since I've had my veggie garden. I'm tired of having to eat Price Chopper veggies, so I told hubby I'm putting in my garden again this Spring. House selling or no house selling, I want my veggies. Nothing beats the taste of, not just home grown, but organically-grown heirloom varieties. Of course, you KNOW what this means. I'll do all the grunt work to get the garden planted, THEN someone will buy the house, and I won't get to harvest half the stuff.

I need a place to start my tomatoes indoors though. I used to do them in the basement, but the lights weren't the right ones and the basement is too cold, really, for starting seedlings, so I gotta see about getting a grow light and a couple shelves to put in the family room, which is not warm, but warm enough. We do have sunny windows in some rooms, but they're cold rooms - not good for plants. This can wait 'til January some time, so I can begin them in February. I always get my seeds from Cook's Garden.

Gonna give my fingertips a break from the capelet today - the wool is sturdy, and I have no calluses, so will work on these caps-in-progress, instead, and wrap up hubby's gifts, before he gets nosey! But I'm just past the joining after the arm slits, so have made good progress.

And I'm gonna pull out the wired gold-patterned ribbons and see if I can't make a pretty bow for the front door. No wreath this year, but I like something on the door. If it comes out OK, I'll post a pic.

(OK - pic below - not great, needs some tweaking, but I think it'll do.)

I made a bunch of vine wreaths, years ago, after pulling miles (or what seemed like miles) of grape vines from out of oh so many of the trees in our yards, which were choking them - the previous owner was and old lady and, therefore, deferred maintenance on so many things. But they've long been given away and/or fell apart. I used to cut greenery from the spruces and pines and stick them into the vine wreath, which worked OK. But I'm not going out into the 20-something degree air to pull out more vines from any trees, any day soon - so a bow will have to do.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Small Gripages, Capelet, and Packages

Small Gripages
Still waiting on those 4 hanks of Plymouth Homestead yarn (for those Elizabeth Zimmermann tights I began on 11/21, shown here on the 24th). Not happy with how this purchase is going. In this cold weather, I'd sure like to be wearing those wool tights!

And I'm glad the usual post-chemo week will be over in 3 days, as I lose about 2 hours sleep every day for that week or so. By Thursday, I'm beginning to drag. I'll see if I can nap later - but oftentimes, the steroid drug won't allow it. And, we're out of Ambien (which doesn't counter the steroid that well, anyway) and they want $50 for a few measly pills of Lunesta - thanks MVP for not helping with that - so nix on getting the Lunesta. One just muddles through and enjoys those 2 weeks each month when better sleep finally returns.

The capelet is sailing along, happy to say, am over 1/3 done already, partly as hubby's at work today, so I can work uninterrupted, and it's too cold to venture into the attic and get more of the decorations up, so I'm doing laundry and knitting.

I'm also much more an end-result knitter, not a process knitter. I don't knit just for the exploration and problem-solving, though one does that anyway as a designer, I knit to have a finished thing to use. I'm ever practical that way. if I wanted art, I'd paint or sculpt. When I'm making textiles, they are for usin', so the sooner it gets done, the better.

Bulky wool on size 9 (5.5 mm) ndls goes fast. I tend to go down a ndl size for all yarns, to get, what I think is, a better fabric - more longer-wearing, less likely to droop or sag. Many yarns have unfortunately looser gauges than are ideal for those yarns. Always use your better judgment, not what a ballband suggests.

The PO lady had a near porchful (I exaggerate! as we have a rather large porch) of Christmas packages to pick up yesterday, but it's easier to do the labels and pay for shipping online, though no less time-consuming for me, than to have hubby wait in line with 8 boxes to ship, as his time is very crunched.

I still have several small packages to send out on Monday, then ta da, should be done with the holiday package rush.

Back to knitting, and awaiting hubby's return from work with Chinese food in hand.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Well, I just couldn't help it!

Despite having 3 projects in the works, on various ndls, I swatched the capelet's stitch pattern in the Briggs & Little Atlantic yarn, worked out the shaping, then CO. It's in red, but as it's a capelet, not a full-blown cape, and there'll be NO hood, I needn't worry that it'll look too Little Red Riding Hood-ish.

I'm collating a shopping list at Webs, as I need yarns for a few upcoming projects. Their bargain/closeout/discontinued yarns bargains are always an enticement, which, til today, I've managed to circumnavigate. Til today. That Bollicine Revolution is just too good of a buy, and they have a soft pink.

I don't have a soft pink sweater, and have been wanting one ever since a VK issue, oh, from *many* years ago, in which where there was a cropped, boxy, pink mohair sweater design in it, also seen worn on Nancy Thomas - then editor. I'm getting 12, 50 gram balls, which should be plenty for a small size (34 or 36") cardigan.

This one won't be cropped and boxy, though. And I'm getting enough to do another sample with enlarged sizes of my Chill Chaser Vest. I'll give yardages/hanks needed for the Kraemer Yarns' Bear Creek yarn in the pattern, as well, as that was the original yarn used. I'm doing this upon request.

I don't always do requests (well, til now - never!), particularly if the project requires a lot of knitting, or isn't easily adapted into what the knitter wants, or if there's just too many new ideas I want to work on.

Unlike some designers, I don't farm out my knitting. Don't have to, as I'm not submitting to mags and therefore, won't end up with multiple projects all due at the same time.

It's also a large expense, which isn't easy on a struggling designer's income, especially in these tougher times, and even more especially with the extra medical expenses we're handling. I also tend to design on the ndls. I really don't want to plan it all out ahead, so someone else can knit it up - I like the freedom of changing my mind and determining details as I go. So, I tackle what I can, when I can.

I'm tired/bleary from this chemo sleepus-interruptus, so I'm going back to knitting now, which is easier than writing and staring at this screen!

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

that B&L Softspun swatch

OK - this B&L Softspun feels really good in the hank, but blooms into an even softer fabric after a bath. Yummy!

I bet no-one's ever called a B&L yarn yummy! Sturdy, yes, natural, yes, great for outerwear, indeed, but this is downright yummy, buttery soft, wear in next to the skin soft!
AND it easily got the 4.5 sts/1" gauge I need. I used size 8's (5 mm).

It's a close call with the Cascade Eco, which also gets gauge. The Softspun is plied tighter than the Eco, and is a tad woolier in preparation, which gives the Softspun a bit more character, but one could use Eco and be happy as well. I think I'll use the Softspun, but first I need to do a pattern swatch, to make doubly sure.

I know it only comes in a few colors, but I'm sure that if demand warrants it, they'll produce more colors. Unlike large mills, small mills can't always invest in producing 20+ colors in a new yarn, without testing the market first. Get it in the US from Weaving Rainbow, though I may see about stocking some once the pattern is written. Yes, I like it enough to consider carrying it!

Back to gift wrapping and prepping for mailing...

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yarn decisions

The Atlantic and Softspun yarns from Cabin Fever came in! Wahoo!

Can't wait to ball them up and swatch the new B&L Softspun for gauge and swatch a stitch pattern in the red B&L Atlantic for that capelet I previously mentioned. And I think I'm gonna try socks in these sale blues and greys. LOVE them thick wool socks!

I'm still cogitating about yarn options for the blue Donegal Tweed cable and rib pullover.

I was almost sold on the idea of using the natural color Bluefaced Leicester, when the idea of using a stay-at-home yarn like Brown Sheep's Lanaloft snuck into my head.

I'm also considering Cascade's Pastaza, Cloud 9 and their new Soft Spun version of their Peruvian wool yarns. The Cloud 9 is an iffy option - ONLY to be used if it gets gauge, *naturally*, but also if the angora doesn't send my allergies into high gear, as angora always seems to.

I want to be as green and ecological as possible in my yarn choices, as well as thrifty, when possible. So, as MUCH as I LOVE BFL, it needs to haul butt from across the Pond. But then the Cascade Eco I've used in many designs comes from Peru, as does the Pastaza and the Soft Spun (not sure about the Cloud 9). Peru is not exactly around the corner.

OH, what is a designer to do!? I would feel slightly better about using the BFL, as, at least I'm helping to support genetic diversity by buying a breed-specific yarn - gotta keep these breeds alive!

But as I look at B&L's new Softspun, though it says 5 sts/1", it's a pretty lofty yarn, so I'm gonna swatch now and report back after the swatch dries. If it get the 4.5 sts/1" gauge in Stockinette that I need, I may well use this yarn - it's reasonably priced, it only needs to come from Canada AND they use domestic wool, so no shipping from halfway around the globe.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Cookies and Hats

I think I'm done with the cookie baking. Have gingerbread, oatmeal, walnut balls, Hussars (jelly-filled) and sugar cookies. Most are in containers in the freezer, awaiting packing up and wrapping. I'm bringing a plate-ful to the chemo doc's office today. Different ones will go when I also bring their Christmas presents on the 23rd.

Still no yarn came in. Can you hear me whimpering? It's not like I don't have projects to work on, and Christmas gifts to wrap and ship - to keep me busy. But I actually dreamt about the tights that are waiting on more yarn. I was talking with Meg Swansen, who was wearing the tights in white. That's because yesterday I received faxes that were meant for her, so she crept into my subconscious.

Between Anne's and Alicia's suggestions, I have a new name for the Skull Cap - Bon Bon Beanie! So, it's been changed in that post.

Gonna go wrap gifts, then off to chemo, where I'll knit on the 2nd cable-edged hat sample.

Scroll down to tan and blue hat. This sample is in Cascade's Eco. I also have some Berroco Touche (half cotton, half rayon) in tan and red, for another sample.

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

A Lovely Anniversary Escape

So, for our anniversary, we went 1 hour north to Albany and stayed at The Desmond

It's a large complex of Colonial-style buldings - a nice change from the usual hotel chain appearance.

We dined at their Simpson's Restaurant both for dinner last night and breakfast this morning. Their decor is right up our alley - Colonial. large hearth with fire going, in the reception area, wing back chairs and loveseats, Windsor chairs, wallpapered rooms, lanterns banking the hallway walls and even wallpaper in the elevators. Just Right.

We had Eggplant Panini and Maryland Crab Cakes for appetizers, then I had Sole Francaise and hubby had Char-grilled Ribeye Steak. TOO full for coffee or dessert! They have pretty Oneida dishes and silverware, very comfortable booths, and great service.

And this wasn't even their fancier Scrimshaw Restaurant! - Simpson's is their casual one, which was fine with us, as I don't have a good outfit any more. The skirt suit I bought 3 years ago for Dad's 70th birthday dinner no longer fits and was donated to the Salvation Army, as I do with everything that we no longer need but is still serviceable. Besides, I'd need a far prettier head wrap to go with fancy clothes!

Breakfast was just as detail-oriented with a selection of teas, and a tiny pot of honey, SO cute tiny jars of jam from England and apple-cinnamon butter for my French Toast. Hubby had a breakfast to suit a king. And even better was that when I was searching their site for specials, I found one that, for just a few dollars more than the regular King room rate, included $20 towards breakfast.

Though I knew they had coffee supplies in the room, we never travel without our preferred brand of instant coffee (Folgers) and sugar. But I forgot the spoons! and making coffee with stirrers isn't quite the same. They have internet access (which I didn't need) and a phone in the bathroom! I suppose for those busy execs, who can't detach from the world, not even to brush your teeth.

And Hubby found a store that carried Nivole.

We finished one of the 2 small bottles we brought with us, before dinner. We'll surely be going back there for future occasions.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Bon Bon Beanie (was Skull Cap)

I was wondering yesterday, exactly when Murphy's Law was gonna end, and apparently, not until the handle on my whisk snapped off, as I was making Royal Icing for the gingerbread cookies! That put the icing on the day, for sure. Hyuck, hyuck!

Bon Bon Beanie (was Skull Cap)
I jokingly mentioned, the other day, about only needing a yarmulke on my head, as my covered ears makes my head too warm. Well, I remembered that I had some remains of Heirloom Breeze yarn and thought that if anything is gonna stay put on my hairless head, it would be a stretchy yarn like Breeze. So, I knit up the following wee skull cap - hate that phrase - skull cap - maybe there's a better one out there?.

It uses just 43 g of this wonderful DK wt wool, cotton and lycra blend yarn. One could use Cascade Fixation, though I prefer the feel of this yarn, thanks to the wool content.

Size: 19.66" circ, 5.75" from top of crown to rolled edge

Heirloom Breeze, 30% Wool/69.6% Cotton/0.4% Lycra, 105 yds/skein: 1 ball each #020 musk pink (A) and #019 baby pink (B), OR 2 colors of your choice OR 1 ball of any color
Size 6 (4 mm) 16" ckns and dpns
tapestry ndl

Long Tail CO 108 sts in color A. Knit until 1" from CO edge. Work 2 rnds of k2, p2 rib. Break A.

With color B, knit until 3.25" from rolled edge.

Crown Shaping
(K16, k2tog) around. Knit 1 rnd.
(K15, k2tog) around. Knit 1 rnd.
(K14, k2tog) around. Knit 1 rnd.
(K13, k2tog) around. Knit 1 rnd.
(K12, k2tog) around. Knit 1 rnd.
(K11, k2tog) around. Knit 1 rnd.
(K10, k2tog) around. Knit 1 rnd.
(K9, k2tog) around. Knit 1 rnd.
(K8, k2tog) around.
(K7, k2tog) around.
(K6, k2tog) around.
(K5, k2tog) around.
(K4, k2tog) around.
(K3, k2tog) around.
(K2, k2tog) around.
(K1, k2tog) around.
(K2tog) around. Break yarn. With tapestry ndl, pull tail through remaining 6 sts and end off.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Murphy's been at it

What a grumbly day - from the moment I got up from a bad dream, and had only 45 minutes to get 2+ glasses of water down me (no food or other liquids) and get out the door to go have the 2-hour pet scan done. Hubby was in a dour mood from not sleeping well, the dog was misbehaving, and my muscles are still sore and achy - another chemo side effect. I nearly fell asleep on the scan table.

We got back late for hubby to leave for work, so he'll have to make up the time another day. And I bled through the thick wadding they put on my arm from the IV for injecting the contrast. 1 test out of the way, 2 more to go.

Then I get an email that part of my yarn order from the 23rd wasn't sent, as was offered and to which I agreed. And the 2nd of 2 emails saying that yet another agent wanted to show our house this Saturday. The one weekend we can't have people traipsing through our house is the one weekend they all want to do it - not to mention our house is currently off the market - what's up with that?

And don't they know people are getting ready for Christmas. I mean REALLY - I have cookie preparations all over the kitchen, gifts and boxes all over my work room, and holiday lights for the windows being worked on. And I haven't the energy or inclination to find places to put it all away somewhere, only so I can drag it all out after 1/2 an hour. I shoulda just stayed in bed.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

plugging along

No yarn happiness came Tuesday OR yesterday, but I've had those 4 mittens to reknit, which are done and soaking, and still have 1 gift scarf to finish. And I began the cookie baking, with oatmeal cookies, which distracted me from that chemo treatment news, for all of an hour the other day. Next up are gingerbread cookies (today's batch), sugar cookies, walnut kisses, shortbread, and jam-filled cookies.

I used to collect tins, at yard sales, for enclosing cookie gifts at Christmas, but haven't gone to yard sales in eons. So, this year, I bought plastic storage containers with lids, as I wanted something that will ship well. I do hate to buy plastic, but at least they can be reused until they crap out - then, *hopefully* be put in with the recycling.

I just read Kristin's blog and she makes the most adorable Winter Holiday Birch Houses Not this year, but maybe next year, I'll tackle them.

The CeraVe cream isn't working for hubby's cracked fingers, so now I'm gonna try 100% shea butter, next time I need stuff from drugstore.com. Ever hopeful. I'd try the Kerasel, but it says "Do not use on irritated, infected or opened skin." And, of course, some of the cracks in his skin can get rather bad, and we don't want the cream stinging.

I've found that all I need on my stubbly little head is a yarmulke. I'm constantly pulling a hat on and off all day, all night, even when sleeping, as my ears get too warm, which overheats me. I'd have to use double-sided tape, though, to keep such a small cap on my head! That's why I thought a wig would be better, but that really necessitates trying them on in person. And of course, no such shop exists nearby.

So, I fold up the edge of the Shedir cap Susan sent me, and look like a sailor, which prompts hubby to make a comment about how odd I am. To which I retort that he's obviously attracted to the oddness in me, so isn't it a good thing (ala Martha Stewart). 21 years we'll be married come this Saturday, and 2 years together before that, AND 2 years together back in high school. We've known each other forever.

Back to the gingerbread cookies...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

it's hats for me

Got my new wig - looks fine online and on the styrofoam head, but doesn't look good on me. Bah. Have put it up on Ebay.

Checkup went fine today. Though I find out that I have months left of treatments yet to do. *Thought* it was 6 treatments, when in fact it's 6 *series* or 12 treatments. I'll be going there every week until mid-March - another bah.

There's also tests - pet scan, muga scan and pulmonary tests - to do again now and again later - such a nuisance. But good thing hubby's working that 2nd job - I've long lost track of all the co-pays. I'm gonna go drown myself in some beef stew and egg nog, then RE-finish that 2nd mitten and soak them, then do some housework, whilst I wait for the mail and the big brown truck to bring me some yarn happiness.

Monday, December 01, 2008

short update

Hubby worked at his extra job on Sunday, so I baked a batch of cinnamon buns and made a beef stew for a few nights' dinners. He bought a nice crusty loaf of bread for eating it with - yum! I cleaned my plate and I wasn't even hungry. Had more for today's lunch, washed down with vanilla egg nog. Never saw that before, but hubby does the shopping and finds all kinds of goodies to bring home for me. I have to watch what I say during the week, as he'll remember it and buy it for me on the weekend.

I'm rethinking the style of the coat I want to make in the Atlantic yarn - was thinking a-line, but am now thinking short and longer jacket versions, straight, not a-line, but with a bit of waist shaping, so it's not boxy. I don't know about accessories, yet, if any.

And I'm ripping back those mittens. Again. I hate to have a design do me in! And I do think I'll do the 2nd cable and rib pullover sample in Bluefaced Leicester. You can't get much cozier or softer than that wool.

Was going to begin cookie baking today, but Mondays have so many other things to tend to, and I've been tired the past few days, though I finally slept my full 8.5 hours last night - cookies can wait a day or so, when I've recovered more from the chemo sleepus interruptus.

My faux hair came in just now, but I need to work on styling it. Will see what hubby thinks about it later ...

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