Apr 30, 2009

Ten on Any Day

This week's topic was 10 Words People Would Use to Describe You.

  1. Mother
  2. Daughter
  3. Friend
  4. Baker (I love to bake and it really makes me happy that I've developed a rep for making good stuff)
  5. Knitter
  6. Librarian
  7. Creative
  8. Nuts (I get that a lot when I agree to take on another project or responsibility)
  9. Scary (my daughter says that's why she doesn't step too far out of line)
  10. Fun (I forgive my daughter for calling me scary because she also says I'm fun and young)

This wasn't nearly as difficult as I thought it would be.

Dogwoods - 4/30/09

Apr 29, 2009

Evidence of Knitting

IMG_2693[1]Please excuse the crap pictures today. It occurred to me this morning that I had yet to post any real fiber content this week. Which is weird because there's quite a lot going on. It's just not the stuff on which to build a scintillating post.

For example, here are the socks I'm working on right now. One is done except for the afterthought heel and the overstictch embellishment while the second is nearing the heel placement point. I really can't wait to get to the fun part on this sock and surprise DQ with the finished product. It'd be so cool if she could wear them to MD S&W but very unlikely. Not impossible though.

IMG_2694[1]I recently hit a milestone on That Damn Vest too. The marker in this picture hold the center stitch on the front of the vest and I am currently doing the decreases for the armholes and the deep "V" neck. I've only got 11 inches left to knit on the front and the number of stitches will decrease on almost every row. Finally, after years of aggravation, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel on this one.

Last night I commented to hubbo about how great it would be to model a heavy wool vest in July. He just smiled and said that he's looking forward to it. Now that was a really good answer.

By the way, the Capitals won last night which makes our whole house happy. DQ is Rocking the Red today. It was a very excitng series and the Caps came back from a 3 games to 1 deficit to take the series. Amazing!

Oh yeah, Stinkerbelle's team won again last night too. It was something like 10-2. Stinkette is the happiest kid today. I'm kind of proud too.

Apr 28, 2009

Going to the Game

Ready for the GameAre you ready? Do you care?

Tonight is game 7 of the playoff series between the NY Rangers and the Washington Capitals. I saw this guy coming out of the Metro this morning and I thought it was funny that he was wearing his suit and carrying a Caps jersey. Clearly he's ready to Rock The Red in his Ovechkin jersey.

My family is ready too although tonight is a busy one for us. We will not be going to the Caps game. I will be going to Stinkette's softball game tonight - the first this season that they'll play under the lights (at night). DQ has dance class and Hubbo volunteered to leave Stink's game early to take DQ to dance. I detect an alterior motive here. I suspect that he's just anxious to plant himself in front of the teevee and watch the game. He'll probably be wearing his jersey.

A quick check of our closets at home would present an interesting picture for today but sadly I didn't think to take it. We are very much a hockey family and you'd see Caps t-shirts and jerseys in DQ's closet, Stinkerbelle's closet, and Hubbo's closet.

In my closet there is a Rangers jersey. Number 35 - Mike Richter, one of the most successful American goaltenders in history, thank you very much. He led the Rangers to a historic Stanley Cup win in 1994 but he retired in 2003 ... it's a very old jersey. This jersey is the reason why I get harassed by my family all hockey season long.

I haven't seen a Ranger game in years.

I couldn't name a single member of the current team.

After 12 years of living in Virginia I no longer feel like a New Yawka.

The Caps are a great team with fabulous, fan-friendly, owners.

Why can't I let go of my Ranger jersey?

Apr 27, 2009

Hot, hot, hot.

My M-I-L called last night from Florida. Just checking in and telling us about her upcoming trip. I mentioned that it had been in the mid-nineties in our area all weekend and she said that it was hotter by us than it was at her house in Boca Raton. That is just so wrong. It's not supposed to be this hot in April. Just wrong... and gross.

It was dangerous too. Stinkerbelle's Girl Scout Troop met yesterday afternoon and 3 girls didn't show up because they got heat stroke at their softball game that afternoon. The 4th girl from our troop that's on the team did make it to the meeting and they asked her why she wasn't sick. Simple, she drank lot's of water. Smart girl.

Tulips in the Park

Stinkerbelle's team played Saturday morning. None of them got sick and I remembered sun block and avoided another sunburn. Yay! Even better, Stink's team won again 7-2. Stink scored the first run of the game. What a great way to start a weekend.

I did knit this weekend. I also crocheted, and poun but I haven't got pictures of any of it. Just a few more days till Maryland Sheep and Wool. How awesome is that?

Apr 24, 2009

ECF - Pending Peony Edition

I'm pretty sure I've taken similar pictures before but this is still just too darn cool to let it go by unnoticed. In a day or 2 this peony will pop and after a few beautiful days it'll start to fade till it's just a memory. But right now it's barely contained and full of promise.


Apr 23, 2009

Potholder Joy

I recently posted pictures of my potholder prototypes and thanks to the input I got from those posts I decided to go with my first instinct and chose to use the Willow pattern. I am so happy I did because I am really enjoying the results. My family is also happy with them, so happy that they've tried to claim them for our home. No luck though. These are for the swap. After the 5 that I'm committed to make are finished then I can consider some for us.

Since I used DK weight yarn and a pattern with holes I needed to make these double-sided. I considered textured patterns but in the end I went with a very imaginatively named, Solid Square (also from 200 Crochet Blocks) for the reverse side. I kind of like the opportunity it offers for me to choose a contrast color to show through the holes in the Willow side. Supa-cool!

Speaking of colors, I decided to go with totally different color palettes for each of these. Ok, ok, ok. I didn't eaxactly decide to. I was a little less focused than I ought to have been when I bought the yarn and I I employed a strategy of "Oooo pretty" rather than a well thought out plan. It's all working out though because I am having a blast choosing different combos for each potholder.

It's a funny thing about this crochet stuff. The more I do the more I want to do. I went online to get myself a copy of 200 Crochet Blocks and somehow this landed in my shopping cart too. It was pretty and I couldn't resist. Now that it's here I'm sooooo happy I got it because there is so much good info in this book.

Apr 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day

Happy Earth Day everyone!

Feel free to translate that as "I got nothing today." That's not exactly true but it's darn close. I certainly don't have photographic evidence of what I've been up to. No pictures of the crochet potholders I've made (although I love them) and no new progress shots of That Damn Vest or the red and black socks. Nada.
The truth is that the stuff I'm up to this week isn't particularly good blog fodder. I'm dragging my heels on filing documents for my dad's estate because I loathe the job of executrix in a major way. I'm planning the rest of this year for Stinkerbelle's Girl Scout troop which is complicated by all of the other activities these girls are into. I'm also planning Stinkette's birthday party - she's gonna be TEN. I cannot tell you how that freaks me out. That's just some of it but you get the picture - lot's of no fun stuff.
On the positive side, construction of our new deck continues despite the nasty weather we've had. Mentally I'm already lounging on my deck with a tall glass of iced tea, listening to good tunes while I read or knit.
On an actual Earth Day note, I have not yet bought a composter or planted my seeds for this years garden yet. I wonder if it's too late to start my seeds. Maybe I'll plant them this evening as a celebration of earth day and hope for the best. The worst that can happen is that they don't grow and I go buy seedlings (yet again) from the local nursery.

Apr 21, 2009

Stinkerbelle gets really embarrassed when I start snapping pictures of her during her games. I still do it of course. I also scream really loudly when she gets a hit or steals a base or... does just about anything. She just glares at me.


So it's really important that I remember to bring my knitting with me in order to keep myself in check just a little bit. It's not unlike the bags I used to pack for long car trips when the girls were younger. The project of choice this week was a new pair of socks that I'm working on. I can't say much in case the intended (nosy) recipient sees this but there are more details here.

Aside frm wanting to make this pattern for a certain someone, this pattern also appeals because it's got lot's of commuter-friendly stockinette. I can easily add about 2 inches or more on my ride into work and at this point I'm about 4 inches from binding off the sock. After that I need to add the red afterthought heels and the special details. I'm thinking that I'll knit both socks through before adding the heels. It ought to make it really easy to measure the second against the first.

Apr 20, 2009

Opening Day

Hooray! A certain local team won their season opener on Saturday. No, it was not a certain team that could use a spell checker in their locker room. How sad to have your team take the field with their own name mis-spelled in big letters across their jerseys. Just pitiful.

It was stinkerbelle's softball team. They won 7-2 and Stinkerbelle contributed to the effort by driving a run in and then scoring herself. She was so incredibly proud.

Opening Day - Stinkerbelle's Hit

Her skills have come a long way and they'll only get better if she keeps her focus. On Sunday we attended a clinic at George Mason University where she saw their game (they lost to UNC Wilmington) and then got a chance to work out with the team. It was so cool for her to get tips from the college players. They all signed her mitt at the end too.

Apr 17, 2009

ECF - Passover Flowers Edition

Last week a very good friend who attended our seder on the first night of Passover brought me flowers. They're so pretty and so photogenic. When the sun comes in the window and hits them just right you can get a picture like this.

And this.

Yes, I do love playing with my macro lens. It's endlessly amusing.

Apr 16, 2009

Finishing Fever

I have been acquiring yarn at an alarming rate lately. I don't really know why. Spring fever maybe? What I do know is that all of the purchases have specific projects associated with them and that's just crazy beause right now I'm not starting anything. (unless you count socks but please don't)

What I'm feeling lately is a really strong desire to finish up all the stuff that has been "in progress" for way too long. We're talking years - not days or months. This is That Damn Vest that I started for DH in '04 as it appeared last weekend. On top is the front of the vest which is a bit firther now. I've got about 2 inches left to knit before I start the split for the deep V neck. Yay. Hubbo may actually be able to wear this soon. Heavy wool in May... Hooray!


Seriously. I've already pulled out a linen cami for me that also dates to 2004 and I'll focus on that next. Perhaps I'll work on my cast aside Juno Regina or the baby spiral blanket next. It all must get done now. I refuse to carry any of these into next year as a WIP.

None of this Finishing Fever has stopped me from planning new projects. I have a very lovely queue of stuff I can't wait to start. Eris in Shelridge Farms. Loads of baby stuff for my niece and other birthday babies. Oh goodness there is so much lace I want to knit and I can even see adding a wild crochet afgan. The ideas are swirling in my head and I just want to do it all... NOW! Perhaps there's too much in my head and that's why I'm buying for all these projects but sticking to what's already on the needles for actual knitting.

Apr 15, 2009

Socks Like a Breath of Fresh Air

I finished another pair of socks last weekend and miraculously the weather even cleared long enough to get good pictures of them.


These are just my own follow-the yarn recipe. I cast on a few stitches with a Magic Cast on, Increase every row for the first 10 rows, then every other row till it's the right size for my foot, add a heel and in between I see what the yarn demands. This yarn, Regia Surf, just wanted to be knit in straight stockninette which was fine because it was indeed the perfect antidote to the Francie socks. No ribbing except at the cuffs. Gotta love that!


I called these my Clean Laundry socks because that's what they remind me of - clean laundry hanging out to dry on a sunny spring day. There's something very fresh about these shades of blue and white.


The amazing this about these socks is that they match. Actually they're about one row off but it's close enough. This is a total fluke. If I'd tried to get them to match they'd be wildly off but I just followed the yarn and it didn't steer me wrong. I LOVE that!

Apr 14, 2009

On Food

Last week's Ten on Tuesday topic was Ten Foods You Hate. I put it off because I was in the middle of a pre-Passover love affair with food and I assumed that the holiday would inspire my thoughts on the subject. Living on a restricted diet for 8 days - it goes way beyond no bread - gets old really fast and makes you start to hate the few things that you can eat.

This year has been a bit different though. After so many years of celebrating this holiday as an adult I think I may finally have gotten it right. The proof is in the fact that on this 6th day of the holiday I'm not hating it yet. Sure there are things that I'd love to eat right now that I can't. I would really love to step across the street and grab a treat in a venti cup with a nifty green logo on it. But I won't.

The secret to our success this year is that I've been exploring a few of my cookbooks and stepping out odf the box a bit. We are still enjoying the old favorites like apple fritters (dinner tonight) and sweet & sour meatballs but we also added more yummy stuff. Homemade macaroons from this recipe are divine and disappear in a flash. These are not the squishy macaroons from a can. These are crispy and fabulous.

Above is strawberry glazed chicken with strawberry salsa from a new favorite book, Passover By Design by Susie Fishbein. That's also where I found the recipe for brownies so moist and delish that you'd never know they're for Passover. Seriously!

While the family and I are handling passover much better this year we're still looking forward to the end of the 8 days when we can return to our usual favorites. There are a few things that I won't eat at any time of year though. Here are the 10 foods I hate:

  1. Cilantro - this tastes so foul in my mouth and it spoils anything it touches.
  2. Seafood - aside from tuna and the occasional salmon (both very infrequently) I stay away from just about everything that comes from the sea. I just don't like it.
  3. Pork - it's not really a religious thing exactly. I do like a sprinkle of bacon on a baked potato. I just think that because it was a taboo growing up that my aversion to ham and all things pork is ingrained.
  4. Fresh tomatoes - I love tomato paste, sauce, juice, and sun-dried tomatoes (YUM!!!) I just don't like tomatoes fresh. I think it's the seeds and squishy stuff.
  5. Bananas - I know I ate them as a kid but as an adult I can't even stand the smell of them.
  6. Watermelon - I think it's a texture thing
  7. Mushrooms - I've tried to like them and I just don't. No good reason.
  8. Gouda Cheese - I love cheese. It's a real weakness of mine but I do not like smoked cheeses at all.
  9. Lima beans - Ick.
  10. Iceburg lettuce - this just bores me. Give me Romaine! Give me Green or Red Leaf Lettuce! Give me Mesculun or Spring mix. Just keep the Iceburg please.

Apr 13, 2009

Fickle April

DSC_0327Spring is such a lovely time of year. I love seeing all of the buds on the trees and the flowers bursting out all over. April has been a little fickle though. Hasn't it. One day we're outside walking barefoot through the yard and the next we're bundled up again as if it's the dead of winter. I for one an definitely ready to put my winter coat away for the next few months.

Frost warnings be damned, I've been busy whipping our yard into shape. I planted hostas under my dogwood tree and doffodils and tulips near our mailbox. We found buds on my blueberry bushes and the tiger lilies look poised to make a great showing this year.

I'm not doing all the work myself though. On Friday the gardeners came to do the annual clean up and remove a yew to make way for the deck - yay! Anyway, the guys did a great job. They tamed the massive euonymous and blew all the leaves out of the bushes and so much more. Most of the work they did is great. There is just one problem. My irises.


I have a large-ish patch of irises on the side of my house that I love dearly. I watch for them every year and take a ridiculous number of pictures of them. I am a big fan of irises. As you can see in these pictures, they're about to pop. At least they were. It seems that our gardeners were a little overzealous with the leaf blowers and now most of my irises are hacked to death. In the larger picture in this post you can see a bud that has lost it's twin. It's just sad.

I'm not sure how to avoid this next year. Maybe if they came earlier in the season before the irises really got going it would help. This year I'll treasure the few hardy souls that withstood the onslaught.

Apr 10, 2009

ECF - Passover Edition

This is what a small corner of our holiday table looked like the other night decked out in crystal and other pretty and yummy things. Those are homemade macaroons stacked in a nice, neat pile. At the end of the night every last macaroon and 6 bottles of wine were completely gone.
It was a very good start to the holiday.

No matter what you're celebrating this weekend - I hope that it's fabulous!

Apr 9, 2009

More Potholder Prototypes

Tumbledown TrivetI really did intend to post yesterday but it turned into a really crazy day. I was serving 18 for the first night of Passover and I forgot just how much work it can be. Aside from the usual cooking and cleaning there is the added task of unpacking all of my Passover dishes which I only use once a year. Whew!

Thankfully, with quite a lot of help from my girls, we pulled it all together and it all worked out just fine. We fulfilled the requirements of the holiday and everyone left feeling quite full.

Cool Flames PotholderBack to the parade of potholders.

There were quite a few potholder patterns on the web that looked interesting to me. The first was the Tumbledown Trivet by Julie Bolduc. What appealed to me about this pattern and also the next one I worked, her the Cool Flames Potholder, was the crochet acrobatics required. In each of these patterns there is a certain amount of crocheting into stitches from previous rows behind chained stitches. I found this to be a lot of fun. I also love the dimensionality that the layers of stitches creates.

Spiked Hot PadThe Spiked Hot Pad pattern (also by Julie Bolduc) was similarly fun. In this one the nifty trick is going back a row or two and creating a super-long spike. I like this effect a lot.

One thing I noticed as I worked these potholders is that I'm a very tight crocheter. Because of that, all of these are a little smaller than they ought to be. They also hurt my hands after a while. I'm working hard on loosening up a bit. Crocheting is too much fun to have to give it up due to tight stitches.

Wild Granny SquareThe Wild Granny Square is by Julie Bolduc again. I liled it fr the same reasons as the others but I think that the end result is not as neat and tidy as I'd like it to be. Perhaps wild isn't what I go for in a granny square. It's a perfectly nice pattern but just not for me. Tis one is efinitely out of the running.

Crochet Flower Hot PadThe last prototype is the Crochet Flower Hot Pad. I love this one! It was weird while I was making it because it looked like a big, floppy, octopus but at the end when you flip the flaps and pin them down it's just magic. I could be very happy crocheting a lot of these but it seems like a bunch of other folks are using this pattern so I won't.

After the post on Tuesday I got a bunch of comments here and there saying that Willow is theway to go. I'm definitely leaning towards Willow or the Tumbledown Trivet. I'll work each again to see if being looser will make a difference. I also want to see how they look in the Sonata. Thanks for all of the input!

Crossposted to the Swap blog.

Apr 7, 2009

Hooked by Another Swap

potholderswapblogbuttonI signed up for a swap recently because, ummmm, I didn't have enough to do. Right? Anyway, it's the Hot Pad and Potholder Swap and it just sounded like too much fun for me to resist. You would think that after my huge kippot crocheting project, I'd never want to see a hook again. Not so. I kind of miss it but not enough to dive into a really big item like a sweater. This is actually perfect.

Swap ColorsI was so excited. I went online and ordered up a bunch of Elann Sonata right away. It's such a lovely yarn. Great colors and a nice smooth finish. I also bought a few new crochet hooks that are more comfortable to use. Then I borrowed 200 Crochet Blocks by Jan Eaton from my library. This is a book I'd definitely love to add to my collection. It's got great blocks and I find the other information in it very helpful as well.

Tricolor SquareFinally I started testing potential patterns using random scraps of Sugar 'n Cream yarn and I just couldn't stop. I started with the block that really caught my eye. This is from the book and it's #35 Tricolor Square. Both DQ and Stinkerbelle have tried to claim this one for themselves. No matter which other pattern I try, this is the family favorite. Sadly it doesn't meet one of the criteria that I am looking for. I need a pattern that I feel I can really execute well and I think that this one is beyond my skill set.

Briar RoseBriar Rose (#78) was the second one I tried. I try not to let the color choice influence my impression of it but I just can't help being distracted by the crazy. I also think that the hook I used was not the right size. The stitches are a little loose which is odd because I've found that I'm a tight crocheter in general. It's something I'm working on.

Gothic SquareThe Gothic Square (#94) looked terriffic to me when I saw it in the book. It also worked well for me. The stitches and combinations were ones that I felt totally comfortable with. I just don't love this square even though I really want to. I'm not sure why but it's just not "The One".

WillowI really enjoyed crocheting Willow (#189) and I thought it was a winner but the family disagrees. They're just not feeling the love for it. I like the shapes and I think it could be a good potholder if I added a solid or textured back. I just think that it could get tedious repeating this pattern again and again.

Since none of the patterns in the book were jumping out and screaming at me, I kept trying more. Tomorrow I'll share more of them including a bunch I found on the internet. I tried a total of nine patterns last week.

Cross-posted to the swap blog.

Apr 6, 2009

Off of My List

It was a busy weekend. I shopped and foung capri pants that made me do a happy dance. Seriously! My happy pants dancing embarrassed DQ greatly which made it even better. Yay!

Even better - with the strke of a pen Hubbo and I took care of 2 items off of our to-do list. New windows and a deck are on their way. I cannot tell you how excited we all are about this. Paaaaar-tay on the deck! Once it's in I can do a little landscaping and create a backyard oasis of sorts. Double yay!


DQ and I also went to a crafts fair on Sunday where we knocked out a bunch of stuff on another list. That included getting a bunch of puuurrty flower pots. We have a bunch of plants in our kitchen in need of more permanent homes and now they have them.

Crossing all that stuff off of my list makes me feel so accomplished. What'd you do this weekend?

Apr 3, 2009

ECF - Redux Edition

This picture may look familiar. The uncropped version was part of yesterday's mosaic but I really love it and thought that it deserved to stand on it's own. Ideally I'd have a fresh picture of the Cherry Blossoms around the Tidal Basin but the weather just isn't cooperating at all.

Cherry Blossom - 4/1/09 - crop

Apr 2, 2009

Meet Yoshi

Every year since we moved into our house we've done something to the yard. Last year the big news was the addition of a Yoshino Cherry tree. It was flowering when we bought it although it lost many blooms as it rode home hanging out of the window of my car. It was still beautiful and leafy and it made me happy just to see it in my yard.

A little over a week ago, when I was outside taking pictures of DQ's blue hair I noticed the buds on Yoshi and decided to take pictures to document the first bloom in our yard. This is the result.

My Cherry Blossom in 2009
All of the pictures feature the same set of blooms on the tree and most were taken from eaxactly the same angle.
This has been a very rainy and overcast week and the pictures reflect that. I still think that it's cool to look at them as a progression. Maybe I'll try it again next year when my skillz are improved.
Here is Yoshi in out yard. She's still kind of pathetic and spindly looking but those delicate pink flowers are just lovely. I can't wait to see her grow with the years.

I am so happy that it's Cherry Blossom time again. Cherry Blossoms are one of the very best things about living in our area.

Apr 1, 2009

All Things Crafty

Look what I won from Wendy! I feel like I never win anything but that's not quite true anymore I guess.

IMG_2670[1]This copy of Ms S's new Encyclopedia of Crafts arrived at my house recently and I bet that my DH is secretly very worried. While knitting has been my main vice for a long time, my addiction to all things craft is very well-established. Sadly, my track record is not good.

The list of abandoned and half finished crafts is super-long. Candle-making anyone? Would someone like to finish the last few stitches on either of my anbandoned cross stitching projects? They're both embarrassingly close to finished and have been that way for years - about 10. What about scrapbooking? I barely even go started with that. Beading? Painting? Mosaics? I've got a seemingly endless supply of materials for each of these and then some downstairs at home.

Now that I've got this fabulous book filled with 400+ pages of ideas and instruction and gorgeous pictures who knows what craftiness will follow. I am so happy to have won this book but a little worried too. I could easily get into big trouble.

Spring may be one of the few times when I welcome the rain. It's good for the flowers and good for taking pictures of the flowers. I just love how the drops look on the petals and even on the stems.