Thursday, April 28, 2011


In my family I have many titles--She Who Will Be Obeyed and She Who Always Puts The Toilet Seat Down being several among many. But the title that's probably most often used is She Who Reads The Directions. (I know what you're thinking. Cranky bitch isn't a title; it's a description. So there.)

DH used to buy me a new cell phone anytime he upgraded his, because he knew I'd open up the manual first thing and follow the instructions for setting up email, taking photos, using the apps--all the things you actually buy a cell phone for. I've also installed hard drives in our computers, a new thermostat in our home, and re-lit the pilot light on the furnace because I READ INSTRUCTIONS. You'd think this would carry over to knitting. Ahem.

I present to you two pieces of lace. This is the edging for Jared Flood's Rock Island Shawl. Notice how the lace on the right is wider than the lace on the left, even though they're both knit on the same size needle, with the exact same yarn. The lace on the left appears narrower because its left side curls up slightly. Not a good scenario. Embiggen the next photo for a clue as to why.

In case you aren't able to read the text under the Edging Chart section, it says something about "executing the symbol action that corresponds to the side of the fabric you are working on." Then, check out the symbol chart at the bottom. The same symbol on the opposite side of the fabric IS NOT WORKED THE SAME WAY. More than a minor detail, wouldn't you say? I might have noticed this way before I'd knit a couple of feet of lace if I'd read the instructions, ALL OF THEM, thus saving me from having to start all over again. I might even have noticed it if I hadn't ignored the little voice in my head that kept saying, "Something is not right here." I surely would have noticed it if I'd gone to Ravelry and looked over other knitter's project notes, especially the ones that said "a k2tog on the wrong side is a ssk on the right side." I'm pretty sure that would have gotten my attention.

Learn from my mistakes, people.

Yours truly,
She Who Acts Like She Knows How To Read A Knitting Pattern But Clearly Does Not

Monday, April 25, 2011

You Can Blame Costco

This is the reason the weather here in the Denver area is going to be crappy for many more weeks to come:

Damn you Costco! Damn you and your hypnotic hold on my common sense!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Chocolate-Cherry Bread Pudding--And It's Not From Costco!

I just happened to find myself in my kitchen today and thought, "What the heck. While I'm in here I might as well cook something." I came up with Chocolate-Cherry Bread Pudding. This is pretty good stuff, if I do say so myself. DD and I had it for breakfast, with a little maple syrup. The leftovers will probably end up as dessert.

For dinner tonight I'm slathering a leg of lamb with a garlic and rosemary paste then tossing it in the oven. I'll serve it with creamed spinach and mashed sweet potatoes with shallots and jalapeno. Round Two, later in the week, will be shepherd's pie. Not bad for the Costco Queen!

I had bread that was in danger of going stale. There was also a bag of dried cherries in the pantry, along with some bitter sweet chocolate chips, and I always have some pecan streusel stashed in the freezer. The rest is history, or bread pudding. Feel free to use any sort of chocolate chips if you don't care for the bitter sweet kind--white chocolate chips would be good. I don't bother to take the crusts off the bread but if you're the persnickety sort, trim them away. I use 1% milk but you can live on the edge and use whole milk or even half and half. 

Chocolate-Cherry Bread Pudding

2 teaspoons butter, for coating baking dish
5 slices day-old country-style white bread, cut into 1” cubes (about 5 cups)
1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
½ cup dried cherries, cut in half if large
3 whole eggs
1 ¾ cups milk
pinch of salt
¼ cup light brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ to ¾ cup pecan streusel topping—recipe follows

Prepare streusel topping.

Butter a 1½ quart baking dish. Layer 1/3 of bread cubes in the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle with half the chocolate chips and half the dried cherries. Layer with another 1/3 of bread cubes and sprinkle with remainder of chocolate chips and dried cherries. Top with remaining bread cubes.

In a separate bowl beat together eggs with the milk, salt, sugar, and vanilla, until well combined. Pour egg mixture evenly over bread cubes. With a spatula or your hands, press bread to submerge it into the egg mixture. Sprinkle evenly with the streusel topping.

Let mixture sit for 15 minutes, then turn on oven to 375 degrees (350 convection.) Preheat oven heat for 15 minutes.

Place pan in the oven and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until bread pudding is very puffy and the center springs back when pushed.

Let rest for 20 minutes. Bread pudding with settle somewhat. Serve plain, with powdered sugar, maple syrup, or whipped cream.

Pecan Streusel Topping

1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted
½ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, chilled and cut into ½ inch cubes

Stir together flour, pecans, brown sugar, and salt until well combined. Use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour, or mash the butter into the flour with your finger tips, until the mixture is crumbly and no large pieces of butter remain. I like to squeeze the mixture into pieces about the size of small marbles or large peas, so that when they're baked they have a little crunch to them. Chill for 30 minutes before using, or freeze for future use. To use, sprinkle onto bread pudding, pies, muffins, etc., then bake as per your recipe. If using frozen streusel topping, there is no need to thaw it beforehand.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Crazy, Sexy Knitting

This is the first 1% of the lace edging of Jared Flood's Rock Island Shawl. Yes, you read that correctly. Good thing I really, really, really love my new Signature circular needles. I'll pause here so you can drool jealously all over your keyboards.

The yarn--Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock--is dark and inky and gorgeous. I'm not sure how much I'll be able to do at night but that's why I work on multiple projects at once. The pattern is challenging but fun--challenging in the fact that I am going to be knitting on that lace edging FOREVER. But the good news is once that's finished it should be like a hot knife through butter.

And for everyone who wanted to know about the needles--they are worth every cent, I'm sorry to say. The stiletto tips are fantastic for getting into those tight situations like a YO/K2tog combo, and the shafts have just the right amount of grab. Sexy! And don't get me started on the swiveling, soft cord.

Here's a Friday shout-out to beckyknitstoo, for inspiring me to get outside and work on my own tiny planter garden. It consists of a clematis and three lavender plants, one of which doesn't seem to get enough sun and stays puny. It will probably be moved and replaced with something that doesn't mind shade. If the weather isn't too crappy this weekend, I'll dig out my pots and prep them for planting. I haven't decided what will go in them--probably whatever Costco has. I've been happy with the things I've bought from them the last few years, but it's hit or miss as to when and what I get. And if I plant stuff anytime soon, I'll be dragging the pots in and out of the garage until the frost danger is past. I usually wait until Mother's Day but this year I'm feeling like I want to get started early.

Our downstairs glass has been replaced, the BS letter to the architectural committee has been sent--we have to get "permission" to add motion detector lights and security gates on our sliding doors and front door--and the alarm system is up and running. I don't think there's much more we can do. If this doesn't keep my yarn stash safe, nothing will.

Please cross your fingers for me, that this Friday night is bland and boring, and has nothing more stressful than the crapload of laundry I need to fold. If you want to come over and help me, I'll provide the wine and Cheez-It. Have a fabulous weekend, everybody!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Twiddling my Thumbs with Barbra Streisand

My Signature circulars hit Denver at about 3:45 a.m. this morning, according to the USPS tracker thing, so MAYBE I'll have them in my hot little hands by this afternoon. I hope so, because I'll be trapped at home waiting for the security alarm company to show up--perfect time to knit, right?

In the meantime, here's a time-suck link that is really stupid and funny, the very definition of a time-suck. Click away, but you've been warned. And no, I have no idea how this has anything to do with Barbra Streisand.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Loose Ends

First, proof the weekend didn't suck total ass:

The center balls are Russian sock yarn, gifted to me. Thanks Donna! Through the magic of the interwebs I was able to figure out it's a 95/5 wool and nylon blend. There's about 1200 yards, so I think a huge comfy shawl will be just the thing.

The other yarn is Lorna's Laces Shepherd, in the Grand Street Ink colorway. It will be cast on as a Rock Island shawl as soon as my Signature circular size seven stilettos arrive in the mail. Fingers crossed for Wednesday. I was good and pissed off at the vandals when I went to the Signature site, but I don't regret it. I'm going to slam out the work I have--patterns to finish proofreading and a colorwork hat thisclose to being done--so I can cast on the second they get here.

I also went to a bead show and bought a couple of really gorgeous beads that will hopefully end up on shawl pins. I've been looking for a decent pair of round nose pliers and found some on sale at the show. I guess things are looking up.

Now for what you've really been waiting for: DD didn't go to After Prom. She had to be back at school at 8 a.m. the very next day to work a two hour shift for a music competition, then after that she planned to spend an entire day at StarFest. So she and The Boyfriend, who is also a Star Trek geek, decided to call it an early evening. It turned out to be rather fortuitous, since they would have gotten back to our house right as the sh!t was hitting the fan had they gone to After Prom. I guess things have a way of working out. They missed all the drama (DD slept through most of the ordeal) and I didn't have to dress up like a waiter or a giant condom--they had all the volunteers they needed so DH and I stayed home. I don't even want to think about what it would have been like if we would have worked the last shift of After Prom and came home to the pile o'crap that was our Saturday morning.

Now we are dealing with the insurances issues, which DOES suck ass. We are also having outside motion detector lights installed, as soon as we can get an electrician to show up. Note to our electrician neighbor who said he would install them yesterday and couldn't bother to walk the 50 feet to our house or call us to say he couldn't make it: They will be selling snow cones in hell before you ever get another free hockey ticket from us, so yeah! Have a great week, dude!

We're also arranging for other security measures, and DD decided which college she'll be attending, so let's just say I'll be yarn shopping from my stash for a while. Have a great week everybody!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Weekends Suck

Maybe you remember last weekend.

This weekend isn't looking any better. At least they caught the bastards this time. I'll write more when I get over feeling like I need to bludgeon somebody, and we get the mess cleaned up.

I really hate weekends.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Prom II--The Horror Continues

Since this purports to be a knitting blog, I'll give you some knitting:

Colorwork is not my forte but I'm getting better and better at it. This is a hat for another designer. I really love this pattern and yarn--Cascade 220. It will be an epattern in the near future and as soon as it's out, I'll post a link.

With stranded knitting, I'm much more comfortable holding the yarn in separate hands, even though I'm a continental knitter through and through. It's the tensioning of the yarn in my right hand that takes practice. Usually, I'm pretty loose, but that actually helps in stranded knitting. I'm having no trouble with puckering on the right side of the fabric. I won't be switching to English knitting anytime soon, but I'm getting more competent with it. I think my floats look pretty good.

Some of you might recognize the fact that I'm using the Philosopher's Two-handed method of stranded knitting. It's what I was taught and the method I like the best. I am not a fan of long floats--if there's any place to catch a finger or jewelry on a long float I'll find it. I like the weaving action of this method and I don't feel like the weaves show through all that much.

As for prom--tonight we found out that one of the activities planned for After Prom is... wait for it... wait for it... a wedding chapel. I'm assuming this brilliant idea came from the same sh!t for brains that thought the parent chaperons should wear black and white. I'm pretty sure they caught on that I'm not very thrilled with this boneheaded scheme when I said something about punching somebody in the face if my daughter should come home with any stupid ideas. Ha ha. Apparently, the wedding chapel was done at another school and everybody thought it was a real crackup. Yeah. I'm laughing my ass off.

Eight hundred wedding rings have been purchased, presumably so the "happy couples" can pose for a photo opportunity. I guess if the kids are going to get stoned and knocked up on prom night, a wedding chapel makes sense. I can hardly wait.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Prom is a Four Letter Word--My Best Rant EVER!*

I have no idea when prom and all the required accoutrements turned into the soul-sucking big deal that it's become, but I really need the person responsible for this to smack themselves upside the head. And do it hard, REAL HARD.

I thought finding The Dress would be the last big battle in this war on my sanity. I should have known. And no, the PBS (prom bullsh*t) isn't emanating from DD. It's coming mostly from other parents. The fact that this surprises me is proof I shouldn't be allowed to handle sharp objects.

Prom is Friday night, with After Prom immediately following--in a different location. As if the kids can't/won't make a side trip to Trouble on the way to After Prom. Fine. Nice. Whatever. I understand the reasoning behind all of this; they're trying to keep our kids safe. The idea is to keep the kids corralled in one place so they don't spend the night drinking, smoking pot, and having S. E. X. I guess they want them to do something different for a change. But here's the kicker--I got the email LAST NIGHT that they need parent volunteers for After Prom. DH volunteered our services two months ago and not a single person got back to him, which led me to believe they have all the volunteers they need (further confirmation about my sharp object theory). I'll just fast forward to the insult-to-injury part: the parent volunteers are expected to wear a uniform--a white shirt and black pants. They don't want the kids to be confused about who we are and why we're in the school gym with them at four o'clock in the morning. Yeah, the kids are going to take one look at us in our white shirts and black pants and say, "Whoa! How can I even think of S. E. X and D. R. U. G. S. when my parents are wearing black and white? No, I'm going to follow the straight and narrow path because a uniform means somebody is being serious! Subliminally, they remind me of cops!"

How about this: instead of worrying that our kids are smoking doobies and doing the Big Nasty, why don't we give them ways to deal with the tremendous stress they're under right now? HELLO. The time to begin dealing with S. E. X and D. R. U. G. S was about eighteen years ago. In the real world, that horse probably left the barn a long time ago--have you checked your kid's facebook page lately? Meanwhile, our kids are reminded on a daily basis that if they don't get top grades and get into the best schools they are doomed, and oh by the way, they should probably work on curing cancer, the current financial debacle, and global warming, in between studying for finals and doing volunteer work at a homeless shelter. But hey, no pressure! So what if we threw you into the deep end of the pool before we taught you to swim. You're smart, you can deal with it. Besides, your parents will be wearing a white shirt and black pants. How awesome is that!

*Yes, I realize this rant isn't really about Prom, but academic stress isn't a four letter word, unless you're talking about Math, which for me IS a four letter word.

Monday, April 11, 2011


Today is a good day because:
  • We got brand new low flow toilets and they're only going to cost $25 each, and that includes installation. This is thanks to a water conservation program from our city water department. I got to take the first test flush and I am way more excited about this than I should be. 
  • The windshield installation company said they'd be here between three and five p.m., to replace DD's vandalized windshield. I'd have bet big money they wouldn't show up before six. Instead, the guy arrived at 3:30. Time to buy a lottery ticket!
  • The Ribby Cardi is on the blocking wires and should be ready for the zipper tomorrow.
  • DS (Tilly's daddy) started blogging. He knows more about photography than I ever can, and will feature lots of photos on his blog. So if you want to see some really good pictures, check him out. This link is a video of one of his dogs balancing a piece of doggy bacon... really funny!
  • I'm doing some stranded colorwork and it really looks good, even with a plumber supervisor talking ENDLESSLY, mostly about non-toilet stuff.

Sophie is making sure I do a good job.

I have high hopes for the rest of the week. Here's hoping your week started this well too!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Knittus Interruptus

Well. I was going to post a little something about my Ribby Cardi, which is getting an i-cord bind-off on the front bands, and how I never correctly estimate how long it takes to do an i-cord bind-off, yada yada yada. But instead I thought I'd show you what it looks like when your daughter's car is being dusted for fingerprints because some asshat(s) decided to smash the windshield, because THAT IS JUST WAY MORE FUN THAN AN EFFING I-CORD BIND-OFF.

We aren't the only ones to get hit. I'm thinking we can all get together, compare the damages and plot revenge. I am so glad I downloaded that pattern for a voodoo doll.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Anybody Want to Buy a Sweater on EBay?

My bff is one of those rare people who used to knit, and was very good at it, but doesn't knit anymore. One of the first things she ever made was a pair of argyle socks. I think that's pretty impressive, for a newbie knitter. About 30 years ago, she made a Lopi sweater similar to this one, for her husband.

He picked the pattern and yarn and she poured her heart and soul into that sweater--it's really beautiful. He. Never. Wore. It. She never knit anything ever again.

She is still pissed off to this day. I don't think I blame her.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I'm Finished Except for the Seaming--Ha!

I always get a kick out of cruising the UFO's on Ravelry and seeing, "I'm finished except for the seaming." ROFLMAO! Honey, you are nowhere near finished, but you are at the fun part.

Call me a freak, but I really do enjoy seaming. *Sometimes I put it off, and I have no clue why. I guess it's one of those knitting chores that you're supposed to hate--I hear that all the time. But really, seaming is the icing on the cake, the cherry on the sundae, the lime in the tequila. It's the make or break part of any knitted and seamed garment, crochet too. Even if the pieces--body, sleeves, collar--are knitted to perfection, if the seaming is crap, all your hard work just ends up looking like, well, crap. No pressure, eh?

Here's my Ribby Cardi, main pieces knitted, and laid out to form the sweater:

No, I am nowhere near finished, because I still need to weave in all the yarn ends, seam the sleeves and body, attach the sleeves to the body, knit on a collar, pick up stitches on the fronts for the zipper bands, then add an i-cord bind-off for the zipper bands and along the collar, then baste and sew in the zipper. But before I do all that, I need to steam the edges flat. If this were a wool yarn, I'd go ahead and block all the pieces first, but since it's a cotton blend that's just going to end up being tossed in the washer and dryer, I'm not going to bother. But I do want the edges nice and flat for seaming. This is where my little-used iron comes in handy.

The sleeve edge on the right hasn't been steamed flat. Notice how it curls. The sleeve edge on the left has been steamed and is nice and flat, making it very easy to see the edge stitch and the one next to it. Between these two stitches is where you'll find the horizontal bar that's picked up for mattress stitch seaming.

Since this particular yarn--Berroco Weekend--is comprised of four plies, I'm going to divide my seaming yarn in half, to keep the seam bulk to a minimum. Obviously you can't do this with a single ply yarn. In that case, I'd consider seaming with a smaller gauge yarn in a color that closely matches the garment.

As for steaming the seams, yes, I do use an iron, and no, I'm not concerned about killing this yarn even though it is mostly acrylic. I don't press down on any spot for more than a second or two, but the iron does touch the yarn and I do use the steam setting. I find that it takes a lot of work to actually kill acrylic--I really have to use force and show it who's the boss. For this sweater, however, I'm not going to use the iron on anything but the seams and edges. There's no sense tempting fate.

*Yes, I started this sweater over a year ago--delayed gratification!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

With Apologies to Dr. Seuss and Eskimimi

The topic for the last day of the 2nd Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week:
Write about your typical crafting time. When it is that you are likely to craft – alone or in more social environments, when watching TV or whilst taking bus journeys. What items do you like to surround yourself with whilst you twirl your hook like a majorette’s baton or work those needles like a skilled set of samurai swords. Do you always have snacks to hand, or are you a strictly ‘no crumbs near my yarn!’ kind of knitter.

Ode to the 2nd Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week

I have knitted in a car.
I have knitted in a bar.
Trains have seen knitting. Airplanes, too.
But mostly it's home--how about you?

Eggs and ham with yarn, you say?
Why not, say I. Stains wash away.

Will I knit with wine or beer?
Yes, oh yes! Let's pour some cheer!

I don't need quiet when I knit.
But not while counting--I have a fit!

I'll knit alone or with a friend.
My right to knit, I will defend!
I'm creating, I'm not ignoring.
Give me a break! At least I'm not snoring.

Let's knit a sweater!
Let's knit some socks!
Let's knit in a tree house!
Let's knit in a box!

Knitting, knitting, everywhere.
People are staring, but I don't care.
With millions on Ravelry and more to be had,
It's the non-crafters out there who should feel sad!

I do so love knitting and crochet.
So thank you, LYS's, thank you I say!
And thank you Eskimimi, for all that you do.
Can't wait for next year. How about you?


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Putting the EEK in Steek

The topic for day six of the 2nd Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week:
Something to aspire to. Is there a pattern or skill that you don’t yet feel ready to tackle but which you hope to (or think you can only dream of) tackling in the future, near or distant? Is there a skill or project that makes your mind boggle at the sheer time, dedication and mastery of the craft? Maybe the skill or pattern is one that you don’t even personally want to make but can stand back and admire those that do. Maybe it is something you think you will never be bothered to actually make but can admire the result of those that have.
I like to think of myself as a ballsy kind of broad but *steeking, just the idea of it, makes me want to hide under a Kaffe Fassett blanket. Speaking of things I admire but will never knit:

photo from the Kaffe Fassett Studio

Go on, I double-dog dare you. This is the Madras Blocks Throw, from the Kaffe Fassett Studio, for the Kaffe Summer House collection. Just thinking of dealing with all those yarn ends makes me want to scream, but knock yourself out. I love this, but I know my limits.

Back to steeking--it's actually a technique I will attempt and conquer one day. I'm thinking I'll start with a cardi for my granddaughter Tilly, then work my way up to a Bohus sweater for me. The patterns featured in the Bohus link are generally done on size 2.5 mm needles--SOCK NEEDLES--which means it will take for-freaking-ever. This is Yarn Harlot-type knitting--she knits so fast that sparks fly off her needles. Me? It will be more like a slow motion video.

*THIS IS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART--These are graphic photos of knitting and scissors. You've been warned.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Haiku You!

The topic for day five of the 2nd Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week:
This is an experimental blogging day to try and push your creativity in blogging to the same level that you perhaps push your creativity in the items you create.

This is a photo I took last year in Jamaica. Here's the blog post linky.

And here is my haiku. There has never been a haiku in this blog before, so yeah, I'm pushing it. Enjoy.

Teaching Giovanni to Knit

Yarn slides through fingers, 
unskilled and eager to learn. 
Four hands, one friendship.