31 December, 2009

Obligatory Yearly Round-Up, v. 2009

WELL. It has been quite the year, y'all. I graduated from my undergrad and moved into a grad program more quickly than I intended. Despite the alacrity with which I dove back into school, I'm pretty sure that going for a teaching credential is the right decision for me and that it will allow me to put together a long-term plan that I'm happy with. Also I get to eff with the minds of high school kids, which is always fun.

So let's see. I am nearly done with the first part of the knitting for Salina. I have to finish the right front, then block the pieces before I seam it and pick up the collar, sew on the buttons, and then I'm DONE DONE DONE. Except not really because one sleeve is about 2" longer than the other, and both are too short. Chimpanzee arms, that's me. My plan is to pick up from the cast-on edge and just add another couple of inches, probably in seed stitch to match the hem and collar detail. However, I'm debating whether I should rip back the sleeve cap of the shorter sleeve and at least make them even before I seam up the sweater. I SO don't want to, but I'm pretty sure it'll make me crazy if I don't. So maybe the blocking won't happen tonight. ARGH.

Remember my list of things I wanted to finish up from a few weeks ago? I actually finished something!

Red Vanilla Socks
Brown Sheep Wildfoote, "Ragtime"
293 yds.

And now, because it's nearly 2010 and all sins are forgotten when the clock strikes 12, I will confess to having started a new project:

Citron from Winter Knitty '09
Malabrigo Sock yarn, "Lettuce"

I've got 57g left in the ball, so I'm almost 1/2 done. And now that I look at the pattern, it calls for Malabrigo LACE yarn, not SOCK yarn... so my little slice of lime might be a bit bigger than the original. Ah, well! It makes for great mindless knitting and I'm totally charmed by the whole thing.

In terms of the 12-Mile Quest, I didn't make it this year either. However, in standard quest storylines, the heroine must encounter three setbacks before she can attain her goal, so maybe 2010 will be the Year of the Quest. My total completed yardage for the year is 8 miles and 185 yards, which is about 800 yards fewer than last year. Given that I have knitted almost nothing in the last 3 months, that's not terrible! I completed 35 projects over the course of 70 posts and renewed my commitment to 101 in 1001. I also started a podcast (currently languishing, but with plans to rise up off of its' Victorian fainting couch soon)!

In keeping with last year's statement of goals, I am hereby pledging to do the following in 2010:

1) Rediscover my voice. Life is short and I intend to enjoy however much of it I have left. I will never be super-famous, which means that my immortality will end somewhere around 50 years after my own death. Do I want to be remembered during those 50 years as the quiet, mousy aunt who never did anything, or do I want to be the one who was always down, always ready for trouble? I think you know which one I'm choosing.

2) Experiment more. I tried to do this to some extent last year, but certain aspects of my life held me back. I am discovering little bits and pieces of myself that I've let fall by the wayside over the last 6 years, and I'm keeping the bits I liked. I know why I let them slip away, but I don't intend to do so again.

3) Find That Guy. My roommate and I are onboard with a new quest to find the guy I kissed on my birthday. We have decided that regardless of whether we find him or not, the chance to have adventures in new places is worth attempting the journey. Also, he was hot and mysterious.

4) Resurrect The Whim Game. This covers all three of the above pledges. There are super seekrit things in the works for this, and I'm excited to bring them to fruition. Plus, it'll get me three points, which is really what it's all about.

Happy New Year, everyone! I leave you with a picture of THB next to the tree, sipping on a Hendrick's Gin Martini in his bathrobe. He would kill me if he knew I posted this on my blog, but what are big sisters for, after all?

Twelve in 2010

Here are my self-imposed and somewhat flexible rules for my 2010 12-Mile Quest:

1) Knit and/or spin through 12 miles of completed items in 2010.
a) Handspun yarn can be counted twice - once for the spinning and once for the knitting.
b)The yardage of completed items is based on weight, using the weight/yardage ratios printed on the ball band.
c) If yardage is not available, reasonable estimation is allowed.

2) Works in progress as of 1/1/10 can be counted, except the Infernal Ribbi Cardi, which has its knitting completed and is only waiting on a matching Infernal Zipper.

3) Some form of Stash Equilibrium should be maintained. Perhaps there will be more on this later, and perhaps there won't. Maybe I'll just try to keep up some Reasonable Habits (TM).

Finished Objects 2009

1/2 - Seeded Rib Scarf #5 - 270 yds.
1/4 - Pistachio Mitts - 160 yds.
1/8 - Seeded Rib Scarf #6 - 331 yds.
1/9 - MIFS Hat - 115 yds.
1/12 - Gauge Hat - 92 yds.
1/29 - No-Purl Monkey Socks - 273 yds.
2/5 - Santa Fe Socks - 315 yds.
2/8 - Seeded Rib Scarf #7 - 313 yds.
2/14 - Gauge Hat #3 - 104 yds.
2/17 - Berries and Cream Socks - 274 yds.
2/18 - Wish You Were Here yarn - 420 yds.
2/26 - Dishcloth #1 - 85 yds.
2/26 - Mismatched R-N socks - 302 yds.
3/9 - Limeade Socks - 247 yds.
3/29 - L/C Yarn - 406 yds.
3/29 - Blackberry Truffle Yarn - 341 yds.
4/15 - Mysterious Mirror Socks - 366 yds.
4/23 - Papa Socks - 361 yds.
4/30 - Scarf #21 - 560 yds.
5/9 - Ivory Coast yarn - 575 yds.
5/17 - Lord of the Mountains yarn - 546 yds.
6/1 - Begonia 1.0 yarn - 353 yds.
6/17 - Spiderman Blanket - 1692 yds.
6/27 - I'm Still. Big. Red. - 1250 yds.
6/29 - Easter Egg 1.0 yarn - 170 yds.
6/30 - Begonia 2.0 yarn - 104 yds.
7/3 - Easter Egg 2.0 yarn - 64 yds.
7/12 - Asti yarn - 313 yds.
7/23 - Harvest yarn - 340 yds.
7/23 - She's Like A Rainbow yarn - 633 yds.
9/23 - Honeydew BSJ - 377 yds.
9/25 - Shield of Bees - 1681 yds.
10/26 - Vanilla Rib Socks - 292 yds.
11/4 - Underwater Trees Scarf - 386 yds.
12/23 - Red Vanilla Rib Socks - 293 yds.

14 December, 2009

Just a Bit of Knitting

For whatever reason, I haven't been knitting lately. Partly because of some fundamental shifts in my space - moving to Roseville, making new friends, grad school, none of said new friends being knitting people, etc. - and partly because I've been trying a new thing: knitting monogamy. I've gotten frustrated with the number of unfinished projects looming over my head, so I've been slowly trying to finish things up. Interestingly, this has caused the sheer volume of knitting to go down, possibly because some of the projects aren't as portable as others.

This means I'm clearly NOT going to finish the 12-Mile Quest this year, despite my best efforts during the first 6 months of 2009. But in the spirit of working through my 101 in 1001 goals, I am going to shift my focus and try to finish at least my Salina sweater before the year is out.

To this end, I give you some sleeves:

Roughly 1.5 sleeves, to be exact. After the second sleeve is complete, I just need to complete the front half of the sweater (already more than 1/2 finished), then knit the collar and set in the sleeves and I'm done.Well, almost done - I am pretty sure that I'm going to have to pick up the bottom edge of the sleeves and add about 2" onto them due to my monkey arms. Sleeve knitting is one of two times I bemoan my long limbs; the other is when my new jeans, which have been deliberately purchased to drag on the floor by 3", shrink up to my ankles. Lest my shorter friends poke fun at me because their jeans are always too long, allow me to remind you that you all can get your pants hemmed to the perfect length for about $9, while I am doomed to look like an afficionado of the 80's highwater pants era.

Anyway, sleeves. They're nearly done. And after that, I have a pair of socks that are about 25% finished out of this yarn, which is another colorway of this yarn that made these socks, which I am currently wearing. And then there is the blocking of my Shield of Bees shawl - did I mention that the same day I got my $20-worth of T-pins in the mail from WEBS, I also found my other boxes of T-pins, thus making me the T-pin Queen? Other unfinished projects, according to Ravlery, include:

*Mingus Socks (need to rip and re-start according to original pattern; why the Koigu version was miles too small and the current version is miles too big is beyond me.)
*Norfolk Ramblers (must take picture of Welsh Heel Disaster '09 to send to Emma, then rip and figure out WTF is wrong with my pattern-reading skills)
*Very Happy Scarf (need to rip edging and find another smaller treatment for same. Beginning to recognize a theme here...)
*Honeydew BSJ (sew. on. the. damn. buttons. Will probably take 15 minutes and have been procrastinating for almost 3 months.)
*Great Bebeh Project (perhaps am in the right place for miles upon miles of garter stitch, finally?)

Not being a masochist - at least, not a KNITTING masochist - I don't expect all of this to be done in the next 18 days. But I bet I could finish at least the Salina and the red socks, which would mean I could wear them to my final class of the session in early January. My classmates would get a kick out of seeing me wear stuff I've been working on since October.

And speaking of masochism, I had a great weekend in the East Bay and Menlo Park. Well, a great 24 hours - South Bay friends, don't get out the pitchforks! My step-grandmother was in MP for the weekend and I went down with my Other Brother who lives in Alameda in order to brunch with her. On the way there, I spent Saturday night partying in downtown Alameda with a new friend, Malia, whose name endeared her to me immediately because the only other Malia I know is my beloved soul sister in Oregon (Hi 'Bean!). I didn't run into the kissing stranger from last weekend, but if he's meant to turn up, he will. Like a shiny penny, or something... In the meantime, New Malia knows a LOT of people in Alameda, and has undertaken the amusing mystery.

My life is often like a soap opera, have you noticed?

06 December, 2009

Officially Grown-Up (???)

Today, somewhere in the wee-sma's of the morning, I turned thirty-one.

Since last year this time, I have finished my undergraduate degree, split up with ManCandy and moved in to a little house with my brother, THB. I successfully dodged a bullet in Portland shaped like my friend LB (the last time I let that bullet hit me, it hurt. After 7 years, she can be taught, ladies and gentlemen!). I decided that grad school and teacherhood were not for the nebulous Future, but for Today! And that Portland Shannon-igans are for Tomorrow (which is much closer than the nebulous Future). I moved from a three-bedroom apartment full of 4 years of accumulated stuff to a 9'x9' room, and somewhere along the way I got rid of an entire dumpster-load of stuff. I started going to the gym for real - I know because I'm looking forward to going there tomorrow. I changed my cut-off age for men from THB's birthday (June '84) to MY birthday.

I feel like a grown-up.

And how did I spend the moments between 30 and 31, you ask? Well, at the Sugar Hill Gang concert I went to with friends in Folsom on Saturday night - wait, what? Let me start over. Last night we - THB, his girlfriend K, and some other friends went out to see the Sugar Hill Gang and stick around for 80's night. This is particularly amusing to me because the LAST time I saw SHG was at the Colorado State University Homecoming Week in 1997, also known as my freshman year in college. This is my first year as an undergrad; my life is chock-full of interesting little cycles like that. Anyway, there was an attractive man there whom K said I should go talk to. In keeping with the recently-resurrected Whim Game, I did so, earning myself 3 points. And starting at midnight I earned another 3 by spending the rest of the evening kissing a stranger. Life, my friends, is too short to pass up opportunities to feel that special chill down your spine in the instant before you kiss someone for the first time. Someone who tells you that you have a perfect face and lady's hands. Who doesn't get weird about the goodbyes that mean he's obviously not getting any - even when you frack it up by sending him on his way with no way to get in touch with you, only to see him looking for you moments later as you pull out of the parking lot. The spine-shivers may fade, but the elegant compliments will be treasured for some time to come.

And really, it wasn't bad for a trial run on my (very rusty) charm. I am under strict command by my brother Kai to demand phone numbers and the names of various family-approved punk bands from the next Whim Game Victim I meet.

Someone told me recently that the 30's are when I will really start to understand myself. I think that's already beginning to be the case, and I'm proud of the choices I've been making - even the silly ones.

In the next year, I plan to actually complete the 12-Mile Quest, possibly change my name (don't get all excited, it's not as momentous as it sounds!), work on my 101 in 1001 goals, and most importantly, find my groove, dust it off, and apply it daily.

Happy birthday to me!

25 November, 2009

Kitchen Confidential, Part 3

If you're looking for knitting content, there isn't any. My Salina is in time out due to having to rip half of the front out and having no inclination to do so. Maybe tomorrow under the influence of turkey and cranberry sauce...

Today I spent the bulk of my day in the kitchen prepping for Thanksgiving tomorrow. It's our first year in THB's new house, and he wanted to break it in holiday-style, so we politely refused any and all invitations to Thanksgiving Elsewhere and chose to have Thanksgiving at Home.

People, by the way, are unsurprisingly invitational when they find out that we - two well-loved children with a huge family - are planning to have dinner with just the 3 of us (THB, Roomie and I). I say unsurprisingly because I have a theory that Thanksgiving turns even the whitest of white people into ethnic grandmothers who are alarmed at how little you've eaten despite the fact that you've cleared your plate three times and polished off three-quarters of a pumpkin pie all by yourself. Small wonder that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday - no gifts to worry about, no trees to decorate, no dressing up to do (you'll just get gravy on it anyway!) - just hours in the kitchen making delicious food and an entire day devoted to eating it and watching anythingbutfootball.

Also, have I mentioned that my family is directly descended from Mayflower people on my Mother's side? As a matter of fact, there's a story there, but I'll leave it for another time. It's probably novel-worthy, and this is a post about cook(e)ing!

So. Five-ish hours in the kitchen today and three recipes I'd never tried before knocked out of the park. Here's what I made:

I substituted rosemary for mint and used half andouille, half homemade moose (but all spicy!) sausage. The bread is still drying, but the rest of the recipe is made and ready to go according to the directions. NTS: this would also make excellent omelette fixings.

THB bought the pie crusts, which were sold in sets of 2, so of course I made 2 pies. Actually, 2 and a half pies - there was enough filling left over to make a third pie, so I buttered a 9" pan really well and tossed it in the oven to make pumpkin custard (and so we could try the pie before the Big Day!). Excellent stuff, this pie. Oh! Also, I added 1/8 t nutmeg per pie, so 1/4 total, and I subbed in half hazelnuts, half walnuts just for kicks.

In addition to extra filling, I had extra pie topping as well. I decided that since I know the theory behind making brittle candy, I'd give it a shot. So I dumped in a bit more brown sugar, some extra chopped walnuts and a few cashews, a bunch of butter and popped it all into the oven. This was... less of a success, although for not following any sort of recipe it turned out pretty edible. Just nothing at all like brittle. We mixed it into the 3rd crustless pie and it was delicious.

Lastly, I tried to make Shortcut Turkey Stock from the giblets in our turkey, only to discover that the turkey was still really, really frozen on the inside. So off to the store I went for a package of turkey giblets and necks. Organ meats smell really, really weird, by the way. I suppose that makes sense, but as a person who generally avoids any sort of organ meat, I was surprised. Anywho. I managed to forget to put celery on my list for like the five millionth time ever, so I subbed in garlic and called it good. My family is more Spanish and Italian than French anyway, and I seem to remember Alton Brown saying something about an Italian (or Spanish) mirepoix consisting of carrots, onions and garlic instead of celery. Also I hate the texture of cooked celery and the taste it gives food, so there's that.

Oh! And the other day I made cranberry sauce from scratch. My friend Dinah made this killer orange-ginger-cranberry sauce one year and I've been craving it annually ever since, so this year I begged her for the recipe. It was totally simple and I've been stealing spoonfuls of it here and there.

So that's 4 recipes down! And a couple to go tomorrow, including cooking the turkey itself, gravy, and special whipped cream. Yay!

101 in 1001 Countdown:
#18 Try 100 fruits/vegetables (8/100) cranberry, orange, pumpkin, artichoke, celery (ew)
#21 Try 100 new recipes (9/100) Stuffing, Pie, Stock, Sauce
#24 Try 100 new foods (2/100) turkey stock (not so good on its own)

23 November, 2009

Maybe This Time....

Went to the gym today. Let's see if it sticks this time...

21 November, 2009

A Feminist-y Question

So here's a scenario that might or might not be familiar, followed by my general reaction and then by the reaction to MY reaction by a male of my acquaintance.


You are walking to the door of a restaurant/bar/etc., when a guy dashes in front of you, opens the door for you, and while you walk up to the door, gives you the semi-lecherous once-over and a sunny, cheerful smile.

Think about your reaction for a minute. I want to know what it would be.

Do you know yet? You should tell me in the comments.

Here's mine:
I walk up, open the other side of the door for myself, give the guy a sunny smile while I walk through and say, still smiling, "thanks anyway!"

A Male of My Acquaintance thinks this is a bitchy response. He thinks this is bitchy because, as he says, "good luck finding someone who won't objectify you in the first 5 minutes of your relationship. Nice high standards you have; I'm glad you make it so hard for guys to appreciate you." When I told him that I don't see anything wrong with having high standards for treatment, he replied that high standards are good, but a little objectification doesn't hurt anyone.

I would like to know how on earth I'm supposed to meet a man who is planning to treat me like a person with real ideas and real thoughts - as opposed to a set of breasts and holes with an occasional flash of intelligence - if I allow him to be a lecherous ass in the first 30 seconds of our acquaintance, and (here's the kicker) act like I think that kind of behavior is cute.

So, dear reader, tell me in the comments: How do you deal with the constant double standard? Do you ignore it? I mean, let's be honest, we all do at times, both men and women. Do you think about it occasionally and just give it up as too hard to be a capital-B Bitch all the time? What do you do? I'd love to know, especially because I'm getting tired of regularly stand up to the ridiculous objectification, despite the fact that I have no intentions to stop doing so.

20 November, 2009

Kitchen Confidential, Part 2

The other day, my brother came home with 2 cans of organic cream of chicken soup. He works for a company that acts as the middleman between farmers and places like Whole Foods, so he has access to a fairly amazing range of organic and healthful foods. Anyway, he bought these 2 cans of cream of chicken because Thanksgiving is coming up (he gets an organic free-range turkey as a T'giving present from work - score!) and he remembered that one of our old family recipes requires a can of cream of mushroom soup. But Tika, you say, cream of chicken and cream of mushroom are not the same! Well, YOU know that, and I know that, and actually THB knows that too, but he saw "cream of something" and bought it. It wasn't until he got back to his desk all proud of himself that he realized the "something" he'd bought was the wrong food. Best intentions and all that.

He suggested that I try to use these cans - which were otherwise destined to languish in our cupboards for who knows HOW long - in one of his favorite dishes: Crock Pot Sumac Chicken. Next time I make it the regular way, I'll give you the recipe. For now, here's what I did:

2-3 frozen chicken breasts
1 can cream of chicken soup
3/4 to 1 c. white wine
1/2 white onion
4-5 cloves garlic
a little bit (1/2 t?) of fresh thyme (not really necessary - did I mention it's been in the fridge for a long... thyme?)

Turn Crock Pot to low if you've got more than 4 hours and high if you've got less. I'd never cooked with or even tried cream of chicken soup before, so I decided to stay simple this time around. I mixed the soup and the white wine together and started sautéing the onions/garlic/thyme. Then I realized I only had 1 chicken breast, had used all the garlic and we had no more white onions. The lack of chicken was the deal-breaker; I turned off the burner and headed to the store, where all the usual frozen chicken real estate was taken over by turkeys. Bought chicken tenderloins instead. Came home, finished sauteing the now-glassy onions (yay new trick!), put the chicken in the crock pot, covered with soup/wine mixture, topped with onions, and let cook for 4-ish hours. When ready to serve, reduce some of the cooking liquid in a pot with a bit of butter and a splash more wine to make a sauce.

The beautiful thing about a crock pot is that starting with frozen food is perfectly acceptable because it cooks at such a low temperature the outside doesn't burn before the inside thaws. I don't know if I'd try this with big stuff, but chicken breasts and stew meat seem to turn out just fine.

Next time I try this, I think I'll jazz it up a bit. More onion (it was a scanty 1/2, after all), more garlic, definitely pepper. Maybe some jalapenos? (By the way, Blogger's spell-check thinks that jalapenos is supposed to be Galapagos. ::eyeroll::) Cream of chicken soup hails from the halcyon days of cream-of soups back in the 1950's, and tastes like it. There's only one can of it left, however, so I won't have to deliberate over it more than once.

101 in 1001 Count:
#18 Try 100 fruits/vegetables (3/100) garlic
#21 Try 100 new recipes (5/100) Cream of Crock Pot Chicken
#24 Try 100 new foods (1/100) Cream of Chicken Soup

18 November, 2009

Kitchen Confidential, Part 1

I have to write a book report today. A BOOK REPORT.

So instead, I'm going to tell you about the recipes I've been toying with lately. This last few weeks have been cuh-razy. Between the 29th of October and the 14th of November I spent a total of 11 nights away from my own bed, flitting like the social butterfly I used to be from one exciting thing to another. But in between times, I managed to try three new recipes that I'll be using again - or at the very least using as a jumping-off point for more kitchen shenanigans.

The first recipe I tried was a delicious Quick Black Bean Soup from Epicurious.com. Can I just pause here to mention how much I love that website? All amazing recipes, all the time. It's a vortex of hungry-making, and it's going to make my Thanksgiving dinner the talk of all three people who are coming. It may also get me to try making turkey stuffing, but let's not get all excited. There's not a lot on this earth that could change my mind about cooking soggy bread into the body cavity of a turkey and calling it palatable.

But anyway, back to the soup! It was, as advertised, delicious. I did make a few changes, mostly because I hate measuring things (hence why you won't see a whole lot of baking going on in my kitchen...)

My changes were:
1. Use fire-roasted diced tomatoes instead of the plain kind
2. Estimate that 1 1/4 c. chopped onion is roughly 1 white onion and thus no need to measure!
3. Drop in enough fresh thyme to make the onions smell pretty (or at least differently pretty; cooking onions/garlic smells pretty pretty all on its own). Apparently thyme is thyme-less in the fridge, 'cause ours has been there for at least a month and is still fine. My puns, however, are terrible.
4. Discover that there is no chili sauce in the house, nor is there chili powder. Substitute cayenne.
5. Cook for an hour and a half instead of 20 minutes. Didn't seem to hurt anything, and the onions were pretty much dissolved by this time, making blending easier.
5. Salt to taste after blending.

I also learned that my hand-held immersion blender works best when held about an inch above the bottom of the bowl. I think next time I'll cook the onions a little longer to get them glassy and golden - I learned yesterday that turning off the pan and just leaving them in the oil for about 15 minutes works well and keeps my impatience at bay. I might also add some sriracha sauce to the grocery list and try that instead of cayenne next time 'round. This soup would also work well with some fresh corn kernels or maybe shredded chicken in it (after blending) if that's your thing. The chicken I intend to try; let me know how the corn thing goes.

Overall, this is a fantastic and simple base recipe for black bean soup - or with less liquid at the outset, probably black bean dip. I imagine it would work well for white beans too; some comments at Epicurious mention subbing in a can of white beans or black-eyed peas for a can of black. I'll probably switch over to dried beans next time, since they're cheaper. According to the comments, the beans must be soaked overnight and then the cooking time needs to be increased to about 3 hours to make up for the hardness of the beans.

Coming soon: Cream of Crock Pot Chicken - Not as Gross as It Sounds!, and Gitcher Guac. Also, I'm going to start counting things like regular tomatoes, broccoli and such in my "try 300 fruits/vegetables" list because eventually I will run out of my usual fruits and veggies, and then I'll have to start branching out (::shudder::).

101 in 1001 Count:
#18 Try 100 fruits/vegetables (2/100) Fire-roasted tomatoes (canned), white onions
#21 Try 100 new recipes (4/100) Quick Black Bean Soup

17 November, 2009

Let's Talk Twist

The CBEST is OVER! My unofficial scores give me a pass in the reading/math sections, so I'm just waiting until Nov. 30 for my essay scores. I'm fairly certain I did just fine; I stayed on topic, used relevant examples, and exercised my skillz at spelling and big words, which is really all one can expect from a canned essay on what life skills I've learned from being in school.

But enough about the CBEST! Standardized tests deserve no more of my attention, as I won't have to take any more of them ever (famous last words).

Let's talk about the Twist Collective in general and the new issue in particular. I am currently enamored of lists, lists, and more lists, so this will take the form of... a list. Predictable, thy name is Tika.

The Twist Collective In General:
1. Has interesting patterns
2. Uses pretty photography
3. Explores a wide range of yarns, styles, and abilities
4. Does good things for the industry in regards to paying designers/charging/etc.
5. Is not intuitively set up, and thus I click on ads when I want to know more about patterns
6. Actually makes me not want to buy patterns because of the layout
7. Makes me sad because of the combination of nice patterns and crap website
8. Overcharges for their contents.

Now, let me qualify #8. I fully believe that designers and magazine people (whether that magazine is online or not) deserve to make money from their creations. I don't believe that all knitting patterns should be free just because we're all combining knits, purls, yarn overs and decreases like everyone else. For a paper magazine, I am willing to pay $7 or $8 bucks as long as I like at least 2-3 things in said issue. Even if everything else is made of Muppet skin and peacock feathers, I figure that those 2-3 items I would make justify the cost of the entire product, perhaps in combination with a Strongly Worded Letter regarding the ethical ramifications of Muppet skin. Some of you may have noticed me reference my collection of Anne Hanson patterns, for which I gladly shelled out ~$7 each for shawls and ~$5 for socks. I also have a whole folder dedicated to Cookie A's patterns, which are also not cheap. Thus am I perfectly suited as a consumer of knitting patterns and also an opinionated loudmouth to express my displeasure at paying $6-7 each - regardless of scope of project, expertise, or volume - for the often-amazing patterns from Twist Collective.

So really, I guess what annoys me is that there's no volume discount from Twist. Most of their patterns are $7 (shawls, sweaters, bags) or $6 (gloves, hats, scarves). But here's the twist (ahahhaha! I kill me!): this hat is $6, and this neckwarmer/hat/mitten combination is also $6. Here's what ends up happening in my brian:

Spendthrift Me: Both are super-cute!
Cheap-o Me: But.. but.. it's just a cleverly constructed hat with piping!
Spendthrift Me: But still cute!
Cheap-o Me: Adorable, I agree. But $6-adorable? Maybe 4. Not six. I could reverse-engineer that in a couple of hours.
Spendthrift Me: It's a negligible $2. And then you wouldn't be spending your hours.
Cheap-o Me: The three-piece set is also $6. That's $2 each, and more for your money.
Spendthrift Me: Do you think the designers spent the same amount of time designing those pieces?
Cheap-o Me: Maybe. We're not designers.
Spendthrift Me: Hmmm. Both? Or just one? If you had to pick just one, which would you pick?
Cheap-o Me and Spendthrift Me: The combo.

Thus does my mind judge things, and the Piper Hat, while admittedly adorable, gets removed from cart. Here's how it would go if the Piper Hat were $2 less, or if there were a 4-for-$23 deal from Twist:

Spendthrift Me: Both are super-cute!
Cheap-o Me: But.. but.. twelve bucks for both?
Spendthrift Me: Yup. But if we get this sweater and this one, both of which I would TOTALLY WEAR as a teacher, it's only $23! That's less than a movie ticket plus popcorn!
Cheap-o Me: Sold. But the Twist Collective is getting a Mildly Worded Letter regarding the navigability of their website. Part of what my $24 is paying for is an accessible venue for designer's work, after all!
Spendthrift Me: Indeed.

Are you listening, Twist Collective? After all my ranting, I humbly suggest a volume discount. I submit to you as an example the vast number of knitters on the internet who bemoan the Knitpicks $50-free-shipping incentive as a reason that they always, ALWAYS spend $50 at that website instead of the mere $10-$15 they would have otherwise.

Also, I hate the set-up of your online magazine. It's difficult to navigate and confusing to access.

But let's talk about the Winter '09 issue In Particular:
1. I love this.
2. And this.
3. And these.
4. The articles were lovely, but would be better if they were separated more from the pattern stories. I keep skimming when I should be reading, and reading what I'd rather be skimming. This is a layout issue, see above re. navigation.
5. I would like to have a chat with your photographers and sample knitters, please.

Again, I shall elucidate on #5, but not at as much length. This is a knitting magazine for knitters who knit. As such, we (the knitters) are not so much interested in ANTM-style poses or smizing as you might think. There are some general suggestions for photographing knitwear that are based firmly in color theory and/or Photography 101 of which I would like to remind you. Please note that the following has nothing - I repeat, NOTHING - to do with how such items should be knitted by the knitter. Knitters are clever and experimentative and can knit however they like. But in order to maximize the purchases of some items, I suggest the following things:

5a. Stranded colorwork should be shown in contrasting colors so as to make the pattern pop. If we cannot see the actual pattern, we are not as likely to knit it.
5b. A sweater that contains a cable should probably be shown in a distinct color so that said cable is visible.
5c. A savvy knitter will be frustrated that this sweater is not shown straight on in any shot. It's beautiful, the model is beautiful, the pose is quirky, but please for the love of all that's holy, if you want me to buy that pattern, also show me how it FITS HER. Otherwise, I wonder what's wrong with the pattern, and I'm sure that the designer did a bang-up job.

Thus ends my rant. You may return to your regularly scheduled knitting.

16 November, 2009

In Which We Procrastinate

Tomorrow is the CBEST, which might as well be called the SAT for Aspiring Teachers. I have reviewed the Princeton Review book on the subject, taken the reading portion of the test, and am now settling myself down to aspire my way to a "pass." I am assured by everyone I know who has taken the CBEST - which is a much larger number since I started grad school a month ago - that I will pass easily. While this is probably true (almost my entire undergraduate GPA was based on test scores - none of that "homework" for me!), I am still a smidge nervous. Therefore I spent today watching the latest episode of Glee, playing a very little bit of World of Warcraft, and sorting through my Portland pictures to place here for your viewing enjoyment. Sadly, by the time I realized that I should have taken daylight photos of some things, the daylight was waning. Curse you, Daylight Savings Time!

Anyway. My trip to Portland was great fun. Shannon was quite pleased with her gift, it went beautifully with her face (as intended ::cough::), and I got to see lots of friends who are doing very well indeed. I have a couple of dear friends living in high Bohemian style on top of a parking garage across from the Crystal Ballroom who have turned out to be quite brilliant businessmen - or have at least chosen to surround themselves with people who make them LOOK like brilliant businessmen (probably more the case). I am currently mocking up a monogram of "fake it till you make it" that we may or may not be tattooing on our arms for future reference.

I made a morning trip to Mecca:

where I purchased three (3) trashy historical romances and one (1) Russian classic, and where I also came upon this gem of a judgement:
I do love it when a bookstore doesn't sugar coat things. I also love the variable meanings of words. I do not love Jane Austen pastiche, though, and so my three (3) THR's were not of the JA variety. Just so you know.

A hop, skip, jump, and 2 traffic lights down the street from Powells is Knit/Purl, the Portland knitting store of which I have heard so much. Here's a shot of the inside:
That's pretty much the whole store, although there is a basement level that I believe is for teaching classes. I didn't go down there, so I don't know. What I DO know is that the same person who owns Knit/Purl is also responsible for Shibui Knits, and that I love her color sense. I also know that while I left footprints and took pictures, they weren't the only thing to come home with me; I also managed to escape with an Ivy League Vest and Anemoi mittens-worth of Shibui sock yarn and a copy of Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting, all of which I justified by using many logical fallacies but am still quite pleased by. I've decided that if I am to be a teacher, I'd rather wear stranded vests than blazers, and since I have never been a big fan of vests, I should probably start working on my collection. And if I am going to attempt another stranded project, I should probably start with something small. Thus, the mittens. See how I'm not just jumping in the deep end of fair isle knitting here? Acknowledge and appreciate my growth, reader.

Unfortunately, I managed to get a sore throat and headache the day I was supposed to go see Malia and her gorgeous boys, and while I desperately want to see Liam while he's just a little guy, I also don't want to do it at the expense of my friend's health - especially when she's got a 5-month-old baby who would likely also get sick. So instead I stayed in Shannon's apartment, reading books and watching TV and bemoaning my cruel, cruel fate.

Speaking of bemoaning, I think I'll toddle off and do some more homework. This accelerated teaching program is awesome because it's so fast, but shit in terms of how much stuff I have to do all the time! I guess it's good training for being an English teacher, though...

11 November, 2009

Love Fest

Quick update before I crash gratefully into my own bed with my own cat, who takes up almost as much room as Shannon despite weighing at LEAST 15 pounds less than she does:

Eleven Things I Love:
1. Portland.
2. Shannon loved her scarf enough to wear it the entire time I was in town. Also, it looks awesome on her. I am a color-choosing genius.
3. The Ivy League Vest-worth of Shibui Knits sock yarn I bought at Knit/Purl.
4. Knit/Purl is about a 2-minute walk from Powell's Books.
5. My bed.
6. Friends who are grateful instead of offended if I can't come baby-snuggling because I am developing a cold.
7. Friends who go out of their way to see me, even unto taking my sorry ass to the airport so we can gab on the car ride.
8. Suphedrine. The good kind from behind the pharmacy counter, weighing in at 120mg.
9. Breathing.
10. Old friends who just KNOW me.
11. My bed.

Pictures, stories, etc. are coming. Depending on how much procrastinating I do tomorrow, perhaps sooner than later. Did I say that out loud if I just typed it?

05 November, 2009

Still On The Run

If your name begins with an S and ends with -hannon, you need to stop reading this RIGHT NOW. Come back after you've received your birthday present which is pictured here and would thus spoil the surprise I have worked so hard to create. Also, happy birthday!

Okay, now that she's gone, I can tell the rest of you about what's been going on lately. I finished the Vanilla Rib Socks and then plowed through Anne Hanson's Elm Row scarf for the above-mentioned birthday girl. Apparently I am one of those knitters who likes to give things away because I'm constantly putting off my own projects in favor of those for someone else. This is not, however, a bad thing. I have wonderful friends who deserve to be wrapped in beautiful things, and if those things come from my hands, all the better.

For Shann's scarf, I pulled out the Panda Wool that I got from Jasmin and Gigi's very first goodie bag back at Stitches '09. Yes, you heard me right - I didn't even go buy anything! In fact, to tangentialize for a minute, I haven't bought yarn since the game-changing trip to Babetta's with my mom back in September. Well, I did buy an extra skein of Malabrigo Lace so I can finish up the Very Happy Scarf, but that's because I didn't have enough yarn to finish the project. And I'd like to point out tangentially (of course) that I started the project originally with what should have been plenty of yarn. Damn those inaccurate yardage requirements in VLT!! But anyway, I haven't bought yarn since mid-September. That's nearly 8 weeks, people! And in that time I've been to Lambtown, the CogKNITive Fiber Retreat and sundry other yarny places. Obviously I am awesome and have the proverbial Will of Iron.

Okay, back to the real point. The yarn I used is Crystal Palace Panda Wool in Ultramarine, and while I like the pattern - it was interesting to knit and I never got bored, which is a good thing for a scarf! - it is really the color that just makes this piece. The yarn is 51% bamboo, which adds sheen in addition to drape, and I am in lurve with the whole thing. Feast your eyes on this fairly color-accurate and also fairly artistic blocking shot:

Yep. It's a great color.
Underwater Trees Scarf, "Elm Row" pattern by Anne Hanson Panda Wool "Ultramarine" - 386 yds.

Currently I'm finishing up a Pretty Thing for another friend, and also working feverishly on a scarf for myself - having been informed today that the weather in Portland is not 70 degrees and sunny with a slight breeze like it is in Roseville. And also having left my favorite purple scarf at Crazy Sarah's last... was it New Years? Dang! But yea, I haven't needed one since then, and I obviously need one now. I'm using the same pattern as the purple one (Rav link), but I think I will crochet chain the edges so the scarf doesn't stretch as much as the last one. For this project I broke out the Noro Cash Iroha that I bought at the Commuknity closing sale last year. This is the only Noro I've ever encountered that feels like its price point to me, and I'm liking it immensely. Now I just have to finish about 3 more feet before the end of the day...

I spent Halloween weekend with my mom up in Penn Valley and we had a lovely time watching Firefly and crafting. I took the opportunity to photograph Violet nee Jezebel, whose recovery from her former abusive situation is, as previously titled, progressing apace.
I love the China blue of her eyes, especially against the quilt my mom made. Doesn't she look less... vacant than last time? I do think, however, that she's progressed about as far as she will be able to without being in a one-cat household. Poor dear is still afraid of the other kitties and slinks around as if she's about to be kicked. But when I picked her up and put her on my bed, she purred next to my face all night and followed me around for the rest of my time up there. If I weren't certain that she'd be bullied by my own precious feline, I would have brought her home with me, especially after she chased another one of our cats away from me in a fit of ownership. Honestly, who could resist that little face?

Here's another little face for you to not resist:

26 October, 2009

Finally, Some Progress!

Things have been galloping apace here at Chez Tika. My dad came to visit for a week and a half and just left earlier this afternoon. In the last week, I've also attended the new student orientation for grad school and gotten registered for all my classes through next spring. That's right, kids - this school allows registration a semester in advance. Needless to say, I am chuffed at that little perk!

I start up school again on Wednesday evening. I'm a little nervous, but it feels good to be traveling in a specific direction again. Also the potential to meet people who could be friends is exciting. My brother's friends are all well-and-good, but at 25 he's among the oldest in the group, and I find that I've outgrown a lot of the drama that ensues in the under-25 age bracket. I am not interested in who has slept with whom, or why So-and-so refuses to go out to a bar at which What's-Her-Name might be. I am also not interested in the martyrdom that goes along with undiscussed, unrequited love - but that's another story for a different day (it has nothing to do with me principally - I am a mere observer and Passer of Judgement).

What DOES have to do with me is the Return of the Knitting Mojo, and just in time if I do say so myself! I finished some socks today in a yarn that one person here at least will recognize:
Vanilla Rib Socks in Wildfoote "Brown Sugar"
292 yds.

These fraternal socks are a simple 60-stitch, top-down pattern that I winged (wung?) based on my toe-up Santa Fe Socks. Maybe I'll toss this pattern in a .pdf; I have narrow, petite feet for my size and it's tough to find sock patterns that are small enough to fit me properly. Sixty stitches over size 1 needles seems to work best, but apparently 60 stitches is a difficult number to work with; 64 is much more usual, and that extra 1/2 inch of fabric all around makes my socks just a little bigger than I'd like. I'm thoroughly pleased with these socks, despite their fraternal nature. About an inch into the second sock, I double-checked the skein bands to see if they were actually the same dye lot. The bands say yes, but the color pooling coupled with a few random forest green flecks in the not-pooling sock say differently. I toyed with the idea of ripping back to the drawing board and knitting 2-3 rounds from each skein, and then decided I didn't care that much. Score: Tika, 1; OCD, 0. At least this time.

It's a good thing I have regained my patience for knitting. I realized last night while cruising down the foot of Sock #2 that I leave for Portland in a week and a half, at which I am celebrating two birthdays (one only 4 months late!), and I had NONE of the planned gifts even considered, much less started. Sarah, your socks are coming, I swear! I have the yarn picked out and everything!

So that's the State of the Knitter. I'm a little concerned about the 12-Mile Quest, but if I even manage to get closer to completing it than last year I'll be pleased. For those interested, I do intend to participate in National Sweater Knitting Month by finish my neglected Salina sweater. Once I return from Portland, I'll pull it out and get restarted. That one should afford me a good chunk of mileage at the very least!

In terms of the 101 in 1001 update, I have completed the following things this week:

Lifestyle: I tried a fish I've never had before: barramundi fish from Australia. It is a flaky white fish with a smoky flavor, and I wasn't super-fond of it. But still, it was worth trying and I'm always interested in new seafood! I also tried a ratatouille, which it turns out is NOTHING like what I thought it would be. Eggplants remain on my not-preferred list of vegetables. And lastly, I tried a new kind of tea: a honey-pear tea that had the cloying taste of roses on the first taste and then resolved into the expected sweetened pear flavor on the second. It went perfectly with my brownie-and-cinnamon-gelato sundae, and perfectly ended the evening's dinner at McCormick & Schmick's with my dad, THB and our friend Karly.

Education: I finished "reading" Jane Austen's Mansfield Park in audio format. This book is not my favorite of Austen's 6 major works, but I did enjoy the familiar story and the narrator was excellent. Next up is Persuasion, then Northanger Abbey (my favorite) and I'm done with Austen for awhile.

Entertainment: I got my priest up to level 80! /geekflag

Craft: I finished one pair of socks (see above).

That's about the size of things at the moment. A few tick-marks toward the larger meta-goals of foods, books, and knitting; and an actual strike-out in the Entertainment category. Not too shabby!

20 October, 2009

The State of the Knitter 2009

There has been... very little knitting going on. For whatever reason, I have been Not Feeling It, nor have I been feeling the spinning bug. What I have been feeling is the World of Warcraft bug, so I've been feeding that particular obsession regularly. But despite the lack of knitting, there has been some.

I started my Norfolk Rambler Socks for the Gives Good Knit KAL and made it to the heel of the first sock before I broke down forgot how to knit took a break. Whew, that was hard work! But I'm looking at the bag containing 25% of a pair of socks and thinking that maybe I can do this. It just takes not being quite such a knitting flake as I have been lately.

But Tika, you say, what do you mean, "knitting flake"? Well, dear reader, I mean that I have in the last few days started TWO other pairs of socks. One pair will be the Mingus socks by Cookie A with just a little modification on my part to make them a wee bit bigger (my first iteration was much too small) , and the other will be a plain top-down k3p1 rib much like my Vanilla Santa Fe socks (Rav link) - although I think the linked socks were toe-up. But still - k3p1 rib. Those will be my purse knitting, as apparently anything beyond the said rib pattern is beyond my powers of comprehension right now. I wonder why that is?

In terms of the 101 in 1001 project, I've tried a couple more recipes - two, to be exact. I know that puts me behind, but I've been researching recipes and watching Julia Child on YouTube, so I'm considering this to be the "research" phase of my project. Hee. But seriously, because of the lack of finances, I'm thinking that baked goods might be the order of the holidays. THB and I are having Thanksgiving at the house this year with (so far) just the two of us, so that'll knock out a good chunk of attempts as well. And there is a pile of pumpkins at the grocery store just begging to be turned into pies, breads and waffles...

In other news, I am still unemployed and that might be the reason for my lack of focus. I originally decided that if I couldn't find a job before March, I would start looking into graduate schools; however, I ended up attending an informational session at the beginning of October for Chapman University, and I was pleasantly surprised by their attentiveness and willingness to get me out of school as fast as humanly possible. Tonight I attended the new student orientation, and I start classes next Monday. By this time next year, I will have my California single-subject teaching credential, and by the middle of next spring I'll have my Master of Art degree in Teaching. That should set me up nicely to start teaching class in the fall of 2011; hopefully by then the economy will have recovered somewhat and I'll be able to find a good place in a Portland-area school. My plan is to move up there once I'm done with my degree to start the job-seeking process, but as I haven't even started my first class yet, that's always open for debate.

Let me tell you, I'm not 100% sanguine about starting classes again. I was hoping for a longer break between educational facilities, but it's nice to have a plan again. Especially a plan that eventually involves summers off!

So that's the update. One of these days I'll blog during the day and actually give you pictures of how little I've gotten done! But for now, Mr. Darcy is stretched on one side of my desk and begging for pets, so spare a tiny good thought for my knitting mojo and I'll come back with better, more energized news soon!

14 October, 2009

CogKNITive Fiber Retreat '09

I've learned that it takes me a few days to settle after a big event, no matter how long said event is. Stuff needs time to percolate down through my brain, which means that my blog posts and podcasts about events are usually put up later than those of other people. However, I console myself that mine are just extra-awesome because they remind people about something they had begun to forget. See what I did there?

Last weekend was the CogKNITive Fiber Retreat in Tehachapi, California. This tiny little town is highly amusing, and was in turn highly amused to have 50+ knitters descend upon it. We had a fabulous time.

I met some lovely people, got to hang out with Jasmin and Gigi (always lovely to see familiar faces!), and once again took only pictures and left only footprints. That's right, kids; I bought NOTHING at the market, despite the combined temptations of Bee Mice Elf and Red Fish Dyeworks. Somehow I missed Red Fish at Stitches this last year, and I'm highly disappointed that my first experience with them was when I'm financially impotent. But I was assured by the adorable purveyor that they are getting what will probably become my Forever Yarn by Stitches '10, by which time I intend to have more money even if I have to steal it. It's that amazing, y'all.

Anyway, above-pictured (the person, not the yarn! That's Red Fish.) is Eileen, whom I would like to have as my constant genius female companion. She reminded me of the kind of woman I want to be: confident, elegant, and strong. You can't see it, but she's holding an extra glass of wine in her other hand, just because. Yep. My kind of woman.

This is Dr. Gemma: Everyone needs a little Floating Crane in their lives!

Eileen, Jasmin and I stopped at this aMAZing little coffee house called Mama Hillybeans. The whole place was just one significant glance after another. They have a great menu, a community garden in back, a koi pond inside, regular shows with big-name bands, the occasional wedding in the garden, a to-scale teepee outside that (were we living 150 years ago and also Californian Indians) would have been our homes, and this:
Yep, that pretty much sums up Mama Hillybeans, except that I forgot to mention that the coffee was also very, very good. Double bonus.

I got to meet Laurs from Bee Mice Elf (Hi Laurs!!!), who apparently did really well at the show despite my neglect of her wares. I'm so thrilled!

Other than shopping, drinking wine and visiting coffee shops, I took a class from Jo in drop spindling and taught a class on Judy's Magic Cast-On, which was really easier than it sounds. The thing practically teaches itself; I took a leaf out of Cat Bordhi's book and taught it to groups of 5-ish people who stood behind me. It worked out well.

I also got a BUNCH of prizes! Some gorgeous lavendar soap/bath stuff for being a podcaster and a teacher (I knew podcasting would get me something someday! Hahah!), a book that I traded for another book that I then traded for some Freckleface Fibers roving in the just-for-the-retreat Tehachapi colorway, and 3 skeins of Noro Kureyon. I know; quite the haul, eh? None of which I have photographed, but trust me: awesome.

I have other stuff to talk about, like the KAL socks being 25% done, very little crafting going on, and starting grad school at the end of the month, but it'll have to wait for another post. In the mean time, here're the rest of the trip pictures. Enjoy!

07 October, 2009

Food is Love

I started working on #22 of my 101 in 1001 list last night. #22, for those keeping track (pretty much just me) is "try 100 new recipes." Number 23 is "try 100 more new recipes," and number 24 is - you guessed it - "try 100 MORE new recipes." So if I'm to try a total of 300 new recipes in 1001 days, that's roughly one recipe every three days. Yesterday was the 6th, so I'm already behind a little; however, Christmas is coming and I am broke-ass, so there might be a lot of recipes in my very near future.

But back to the recipe trying itself. I am a fairly accomplished amateur cook. I don't pretend to be good at baking, but I can cook pretty well, and I enjoy throwing things together without much rhyme or reason (hence #36, "take a cooking/knife techniques class"). Generally speaking, when I cook I start by reading a recipe or watching Good Eats, then I modify based on what I have on hand and go from there. Thus I have a bunch of "base recipes" in my head that can be changed or altered depending on my mood or what's in the fridge - usually the latter. About a week ago, I decided it was time to add a recipe for Brandy Cream Sauce to my repertoire; I'd seen it on the Good Eats episodes called "Tender is the Loin," and it just marinated in my head until I ran across a sale on brandy at Rite Aid. Surely cheap brandy is appropriate for cooking, if not for drinking!

So I looked up a recipe on Epicurious and tried it out. Having never made a cream sauce before, I went out and bought some heavy whipping cream for the base and made sure I was Doing It Right. It was, as most foods full of fat and alcohol are, delicious. Sadly I started playing with the sauce before my 101 in 1001 re-started.

But last night, oooh. Last night I went off book for the first time and just cooked. I figured for my first attempt, I should start with a bang - or at least a big ol' fire. Have you ever cooked with brandy? It's great fun; you get to set it on fire. Yea.

So here for your cooking enjoyment is my recipe for


Blue Cheese Brandy Cream Sauce


Your favorite steak. The sauce will make enough for 5-6 people if you're not stingy like me.

1 c. beef broth
2 T butter
3/4 c. onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 c. chopped brown mushrooms
1/4 - 1/3 c. brandy
1 c. milk (I used 2%)
3/4 c. blue cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the steaks in a hot skillet (cast iron is best, DO NOT use non-stick) for 4 minutes on each side or until done to your liking. Remove to plate and cover with tin foil, then a towel to keep steak warm.

Put beef broth and butter into pan and deglaze by scraping little brown bits of steak off of bottom of pan. Add onion and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, then add mushrooms. Cook until onions are soft - liquid should reduce by about 1/2. Add brandy, then remove pan from stove and (this is the best part!) light it on fire to allow alcohol to burn off. Don't worry, it'll go out by itself when the alcohol is all gone. Replace on medium-high heat and add milk. Continue cooking until liquid reduces by about 1/2 (7-10 minutes). Add blue cheese and cook until cheese has melted.

Pour over steaks and serve. Also goes well over vegetables and rice.

In other news, I encountered an interesting bit of my upbringing today. Most people whose origins are in Places of Color will tell you that they were required to have some form of food in their mouths at all times when they were young because "if you won't eat, something is wrong with you! Are you sick? No? Then just one more bite, mijita. Now just finish your plate, there's a good girl." Ahem. Anyway, THB had a really rough day today and was facing an even rougher evening. So while we talked a little, I offered to 1) get some beer, 2) open a bottle of wine, or 3) cancel the plans we had for Glee tonight. He rejected all three offers and then his phone rang. So what did I do? I left the room and went straight to the kitchen. He came out about ten minutes later, just as I was chopping the last of the onions into the slow cooker (put on high, a slow-cooker will finish chicken in about 2.5 hours. Perfect for starting dinner at 4:30!). He sat down at the counter and looked at me, then started laughing.

"What?!?" I asked, and held out my hands for him to smell. We both love the smell of fresh-chopped onions-and-garlic on a cook's hands (remember this, ladies...). He pointed at the Crock Pot and said, "I told you I didn't want anything, but I'm sad, so you came in here and started making dinner. For two. Because you didn't know what else to do to make me feel better, you started cooking."

And it's true, I did, because food is love.

05 October, 2009

Lambtown '09

Aija beat me to the post, but that's good 'cause it encouraged me to write about Lambtown, which I may have let slip by otherwise. Why would I have let it slip by, you ask? Well, because I did what you're supposed to do in the forest - left only footprints and (more importantly) took only pictures. Well, pictures, some kick-ass tri-tip, and garlic fries. When I arrived, the first thing I came across was the Sheep-to-Shawl competition:

I did a quick mental checklist of wheels and saw a good number of Lendrums, Sonatas and Joys; not a big surprise since they're all very decent traveling wheels. There were a couple of Schacht Matchless wheels, and even a 30" Schacht-Reeves (but that one was for sale). However, the big ARGH! of the experience was the Baby Wolf you can partially see on the left of the photo - the woman who owns it said she got it for $300 on Craigslist. I almost slugged her and ran away with her loom; I probably would have if Aija's boy hadn't been there. Have to keep up appearances for the children, you know.

When I first heard about Lambtown, I thought I wouldn't go because I have - as you may have noticed - very little self-control when it comes to wool and the purchasing thereof. Then I looked into it a little more and found out it was about 35 minutes from my house. THEN I looked at the classes and discovered the Stephanie Gustaud was teaching all day. I thought seriously about taking her long-draw class and ultimately ended up not doing so for financial reasons, but I thought briefly about bringing my Big Book of Handspinning just in case Himself was there with his lovely bride.

Well, I forgot to bring my book, and you know what that means.
I did take a picture of him - and not a proper Kinnear, just a picture for which I got a sidelong glance after the fact. What I did not do was walk up and tell him how much his book has (in the hackneyed phrase) changed my life, nor did I simply walk up and shake his hand and say thank you. No, ladies and gentlemen, I did what we in the fan business call Chickening Out. I took my picture and walked away, which is all well-and-good when it's Kinnear himself - celebrities deserve their privacy - but is rather stupid when the person in question is famous in a (let's face it) very small circle of people. Well, there's always next year I suppose!

Apparently I was having a shy day because I walked by these lovely people
and also didn't stop to say hello. Dear reader, if you find my Social Graces walking the streets, please send them home immediately. They are sorely missed.

We watched the sheep judging, for which I refer you again to Aija's lovely post, and the sheep shearing which was slightly traumatic. The shearers nicked the sheep a few times, and the blood showed right up on that whitish wool, let me tell you. After that I got flirted with by an alpaca
and tried to get Little Man to pose for a picture of a different alpaca, but instead had a hilarious "which camera?!?" moment:
Towards the end of the day, full of garlic fries (Aija and me) and corn dogs (Little Man), we two grown ups sat on the grass and watched while he took in the bouncy house and the train. After a long day, I was super-impressed with how well he kept it together (I was promised tears and possibly a fit upon the exit of the bouncy house, but no dice. Maybe next time! ::wink::). Us grownups chatted about this and that, enjoyed the beautiful afternoon, and I took a parting picture of a fleece that the Little Man announced was Not Good Enough because it was only second place. But then, he likes the smell of unwashed ram and mohair fleeces, so obviously his judgement isn't yet as well-honed as ours:

03 October, 2009

1001 Days of Recap

Back on January 1 of 2006, I started this project. I worked on it for a few weeks, here and there, and then forgot about it (and the blog) for nearly a year. At the end of 2007, I revisited the project in a misguided whirl of New Years Resolution; I was relatively newly single, ready to begin a new relationship, attending the school I hoped would be my final step to my degree, and generally moving in All New Directions, most of which were Forward. After the last recap nearly 2 years ago, I half-heartedly attempted a few of the things on my list, but most of the ones that were actually completed were done so over the natural course of my long-term goals to graduate from college and get a grown-up job.

On September 28 of this year, my first round of 101 in 1001 ended. My participation has been spotty, and I've definitely achieved fewer goals than I have neglected; however, the Big Stuff actually has happened. I did, in fact, graduate from college (13), and I accomplished it without transcribing mysteriously mess Art History notes (6). I achieved all of my financial goals save one (40-44), got a spinning wheel (89), and finished a sweater for myself (52). I did not, however, go to Italy (80) or the dentist (98) or donate blood 8 times (18). Two of those things are going on the new list.

As I look over my previous 101 in 1001 list, I see some very specific goals that should have probably been more general, or visa-versa: "going to Italy" has become "visit 3 foreign countries," and "see Les Miserables live" has become "see 2 musicals." All of the goals that included organizing my college notes have been thrown out, and new ones added that involve trying new foods and books. I added one that involves me getting my California teaching credential, although that's an extremely new development and I'm not certain it will stay on the list.

But anyway, here it is; the new 101 in 1001 that began the day I started writing this blog entry (Oct. 1). It will end on June 27, 2012.

  1. Walk for 30 minutes 50 times (0/50)
  2. Design and find someone to start new tattoo
  3. Donate blood 8 times (0/8)
  4. Find a new form of exercise that I enjoy and engage in it 2x/week for 6 months (see #13, may extend beyond end of 1001 days)
  5. Lose 15 pounds and maintain that healthier weight
  6. Make a list of 100+ things that make me happy.
  7. Make a new 101 in 1001 list by July 1, 2012
  8. Take a multi-vitamin and vitamin C daily through one bottle of each
  9. Try 5 types/nationalities of food I have never tried before (0/5)
  10. Create an outside play area for the cat
  11. Donate 500 items to charity (0/500)
  12. Get geneology from mom
  13. Get health insurance
  14. Go to a museum once per month (0/30)
  15. Go to the dentist
  16. Leave someone a 100% tip (on a bill of $15 or more)
  17. 3-15-2011
  18. Rip big book of CD’s into iTunes
  19. Try 100 fruits/vegetables (3/100)
  20. Try 100 more fruits/vegetables
  21. Try 100 MORE fruits/vegetables
  22. Try 100 new recipes (5/100)
  23. Try 100 more new recipes
  24. Try 100 MORE new recipes
  25. Try 50 new foods (fruits/vegetables don’t count) (4/50)
  26. Try 50 more new foods (fruits/vegetables don’t count)


  1. Begin thesis outline
  2. Buy Wheelock's Workbook
  3. Compile list of vamp books for thesis
  4. Find 3 new-to-me authors and read everything they've written
  5. Get teaching credential in CA
  6. Learn to use Excel/Numbers efficiently
  7. Read 50 books (0/50)
  8. Read and notate vamp books for thesis
  9. Take a class at a community center
  10. Take a cooking/knife techniques class
  11. Take CBEST
  12. Work through Wheelocks

Friends and Family

  1. Send Christmas cards
  2. Throw a dinner party
  3. Write 5 letters to friends in 2009 (0/5)
  4. Write a card to both grandmothers every month [0/30; 0/30]
  5. Write 12 letters to friends in 2010 (0/12)
  6. Write 12 letters to friends in 2011 (0/12)


  1. Pay off one Alaska student loan
  2. Create a budget that includes savings and fun money and stick to it for 6 months
  3. Find a job with benefits


  1. Go on a cruise or to a retreat
  2. Travel to 3 foreign countries (0/3)
  3. Visit Malia in Portland
  4. Visit the Japanese Tea Garden in SF
  5. Visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium


  1. Buy missing seasons of Gilmore Girls (0/5)
  2. Attend a Gatsby Afternoon dressed up
  3. Attend a Renaissance Faire (dressed up!)
  4. Attend Dickens' Faire in costume
  5. Blog every week for 6 months
  6. Get a WoW character to level 80 before next expansion Completed 10/09
  7. Go to an opera
  8. Make a Dickens' Faire dress
  9. Play one computer game start-to-finish without hints or cheats (WCIII?)
  10. Play one video game start-to-finish without hints or cheats
  11. Play paintball
  12. Podcast every 2 weeks for 6 months
  13. See 2 musicals
  14. See 2 plays
  15. Watch 100 movies from my Netflix queue
  16. Watch all of AFI's 100 Greatest Movies (37/100)
  17. Watch all of AFI's Greatest Musicals (17/25)
  18. Watch all of BFI’s Top 100 Movies (0/100)


  1. Make a box of 10 gifts for spontaneous gift-giving
  2. Attend a sheep shearing at Sue Reyser's (Feb. '10)
  3. Buy chart/kit for Chatelaine Heirloom Chart
  4. Complete 1 embroidery project
  5. Complete 1 Sharon Miller Shawl
  6. Complete 1 stranded sweater that fits
  7. Complete 10 lace projects
  8. Complete 10 miles-worth of spun yarn
  9. Complete 12 pairs of socks (1/12)
  10. Complete 12 MORE pairs of socks
  11. Complete 3 sweaters total
  12. Complete Murloc’s Spidey Blanket
  13. Complete the 12-Mile Quest
  14. Deliver knitted Christmas gifts for 2009 ON TIME
  15. Design and publish a Shetland shawl
  16. Finish lantern quilt
  17. Knit 2 pairs of stranded mittens
  18. Learn to use sewing machine
  19. Make 3 skirts
  20. Make a quilt (start to finish)
  21. Order Sharon Miller's Wedding Ring Shawl when available (2010)
  22. Spin a balanced yarn with long-draw
  23. Spin a balanced, core-spun yarn
  24. Spin enough lace-wt. yarn for a TBD big lace project (1800+ yds.)
  25. Work exclusively from stash for 1 year (may only purchase items needed to complete a project, may extend beyond end date for 101 in 1001)
  26. Work through 1 of EZ's books
(Plus 5 To Be Announced)

28 September, 2009

Finish and Begin Again

Sometimes my knitting seems like a burden. I know, what an overdramatic statement, right? Perhaps it is, but everyone with a creative passion knows what it's like to hit a place where you can't begin something new because what is nearly finished is hanging over your head.

I hit that point with both the Honeydew BSJ for the Murloc and the Shield of Bees. On the former I ran out of yarn and had to wait to buy more down at the (no longer) LYS in Los Altos, and the latter hit a point where it was too complicated and gigantic for company knitting.

Thanks to a trip down to San Jose for Jer And Eliz's Murloc shower, I grabbed another skein of yarn for the BSJ. The knitting part is now done, it's been washed and dried, and it's waiting on just the adorable duck buttons I bought for just this purpose:

Baby Surprise Jacket
Nashua Creative Superwash, 377 yds.

The Shield of Bees - in addition to being completed about 3 months later than I anticipated - took a bit more time. I enjoyed knitting it, but towards the end... whew. It seemed to grow faster than I finished repeats, and now if I hold it doubled it's nearly as long as I am tall. That puts it at around 10 feet long, unblocked. Oy! It's difficult to photograph by myself, but here's as much as I could cram into a photo:

Honeybee Stole
Knit Picks Shadow, 1681 yds.

The color is horribly off. It's actually green, not grey, but my camera doesn't seem to like this particular shade and I haven't been able to get a proper picture yet! My T-pins are hiding in a safe place somewhere in my garage, probably with the pegs to my swift. I had to email the nice lady at Knitting Notions, who quickly sent me replacements at an extremely reasonable price. The bonus here is that I'll have an extra set of pegs when I find the originals! I did dig through the garage and put all my knitting books/magazines/patterns on a bookshelf; I'm trying to do a little every day to get the garage tidied and move my things into the house, but it's definitely a touch-and-go process.

I'm stoked to add the yardage to my 12-Mile Quest total; these two finished projects put me less than 1 mile shy of my entire total for last year, and I've still got 3 full months of knitting and spinning to go. I may actually accomplish my goal this year, but it'll be a tight squeeze. Perhaps finishing projects that are already started would help...

And speaking of progress, I've started an adorable Berry Tart hat (Knitty, Winter '03) and discovered almost immediately that I detest making bobbles, despite how perfect they are:

Yep, that's a pie crust on the bottom and the beginnings of a gigantic pile of berries on top. Just the thing for an October baby, don't you think? I've decided to force myself to complete one repeat of bobbles every day until the darned thing is done. It's just a baby hat, thank goodness. Hopefully it'll only take a few more days!

And lastly, I started a new lace project:

This is the "Scarf with Center Pattern" from Victorian Lace Today (page 16). It's just faggot stitch for miles, and then a knitted-on border. I'm about 20% into the center panel already, thanks to Juliet Stevenson's masterful narration of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. I'm trying very hard to dig into my entire stash to find project yarns, as I have a tendency to put the newest stuff on top and then only use that. When I packed my bins full of yarn, I knew what was where and which skeins were with which other skeins. However, I'm super-visually oriented, and now that I'm in a new space, it's hard to remember what is where (except what's on the edges, of course, since the bins are clear). I decided that I need to number each bin and mark what is in each one - possibly in Ravelry, as there's a place for "location" in the stash listing. Does the attempt to organize a large collection ever end? Someday, I'll be successful. Really!

In other news, there isn't much news. Today is the last day of my first 101 in 1001, and while I didn't accomplish everything on the list - far from it - I did do the Big Stuff: graduate from college, buy a car, pay off my MBNA loan, and save over $1000 in a bank account. That last, I am extremely glad of, as I'm currently living off of what I saved over the summer!

I'm working up a recap of the 101 in 1001 for tomorrow, along with my new list. Some of it is carry-over and some of it is new, but I'm hoping to both accomplish more on the new list and keep more on top of it.