Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tuesday With Sheep

Much madness at work today. I came in and things weren't working. Just for the record, folks -- Computer applications work better if you actually start them!

Older Son took pictures of sheep for me while he was on his class trip. (Sheep courtesy of Mt. Vernon, Virginia.) How sweet is that? Although, he also took several pictures of pigs while he was there too. I'm thinking those were for his dad. There were also several pictures of other class members. Should I be worried that all but one are of several cute young girls? (And there was one of just one girl. OS will neither confirm nor deny the existence of a girlfriend. Hmmmm.)

The back of Christmas Cables is almost done. I think I have one or two more rows and then will cast-off at the shoulder. I will do that tonight, so I can start on the sleeves tomorrow on the bus. Yawn How exciting! After the sleeves I'll be starting The Husby, Dave's Christmas sweater. It's very similar (and was inspired by) Heather's sweater, which she is making for her husband (Mr. Dude, of the freakishly long arms). So the question is....Will I lap Heather on the husband sweater? Tune in next week...

Monday, November 27, 2006


Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. I did not cook a turkey, but was relegated to side dishes. No green bean casserole, though -- the In-Laws said they didn't want any. So I made my Spinach/Phyllo thing and then used the other packet of phyllo dough to make what I call Cran-Gri-La. I've described it as a car crash between baclava and cranberry sauce, but you could also think of it as Cranberry Paradise. The In-Laws tried a few pieces and sent it on home with me and no one else here is eating any so I've eaten far more of this over the weekend than is good for me. I'm telling you, my culinary genius is wasted on these peasants. So how do you make it? Glad you asked.

1 8oz package of craisins (dried sweetened cranberries)
1 6oz package of orange flavored craisins
2 cups of orange juice
1/2 lb of pecan halves (optional -- pecans can be toasted before adding)
2 Granny Smith apples
4 oz honey (I used tupelo honey)
1/2 cup of butter, melted
1 package of prepared phyllo dough
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, plus extra for sprinkling
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

In 2 qt saucepan combine craisins and orange juice, bring to a boil and reduce heat to low and simmer until craisins are plump and liquid is absorbed. Add cinnamon and nutmeg. Meanwhile, prepare crust. Melt one stick of butter and butter a 13" X 9" pan. Lay one sheet of phyllo dough in pan and brush with melted butter. Drizzle honey over sheet (sparingly! There's lots of layers!) and brush evenly over layer. Lightly sprinkle with cinnamon. Lay another sheet of phyllo dough on top, and brush with butter and honey. (Tip -- we tested, you really need to brush the butter first, then the honey, apparently the honey needs help to slide around). Continue to layer phyllo sheets, with butter and honey between layers, sprinkling with cinnamon only every second or third sheet, until you have used approximately half your sheets. Melt more butter as needed for brushing. Peel and chop the apples, and add along with pecans to craisin mixture. Spoon over phyllo crust, spreading out evenly, and drizzle with honey. Layer phyllo sheets over top, again spreading butter and honey between layers, with cinnamon sprinkled every second or third layer. (Another tip: Because the sheets are so thin and the cinnamon so dark, it shows through for several layers. For aesthetic reasons I didn't add cinnamon to my layers for the last 4 or 5.) Brush the final layer with butter and honey and score diagonally to make diamonds (they really look more like parallelograms). Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 - 50 minutes, until it is golden brown. Cool completely, and cut along score lines. Serve pieces individually. (You really need to do this -- the honey makes it too hard to cut into this while eating; you can't use a fork, it really has to be picked up and eaten as a piece.)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Holiday Prep

For no reason, here's a picture of Dave and I, circa 1988. We look so young. See what having kids does to you?

I'm getting ready for Thanksgiving. Not really. I worked 9 hours today under pretty stressful conditions, and I'm whupped. (I also went to the gym and rode the bike and did squats again [whine, whine].) I have side dish patrol at my Mother-in-Law's. Thankfully someone else is making the turkey. I'm trying to get Dave to find out what time dinner is tomorrow. Also, whether or not I need to bring the green bean casserole. It's just not Thanksgiving without it. Something CQ and I were discussing today. She's making apricot pie, and I'm making my spinach/phyllo dish (which I'm feeling kinda ambivalent about, because although I love it, I think of it as an Easter dish.) CQ said her mom called about the pie and started dictating how she wanted it to be. CQ was all "Hello? If you don't want to drive the bus, then you can't decide where it's going." How does the saying go? "We add to holidays at great risk and detract at our own peril"? Something like that. Our family's traditional meal includes the usual, turkey, stuffing, cranberries. But also apricot pie and green bean casserole (see above). It used to involve "Holiday Pudding", a concoction involving lime jello, crushed pineapple, and marshmallows (Yeah, I was a child in the 60s), but none of us like it anymore. But over all, we're pretty flexible.

I'm still knitting Christmas cables. I expect to get some knitting in while waiting for Older Son's bus to pull up tonight (he called and told us he was late already).

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Unlikely Santa

There I was, knitting away at Christmas Cables on the bus, when a kind of scruffy looking guy (in a red hat no less!) came and sat down beside me. "Oh, I used to do that!" he announced. "Yeah, right" I thought to myself. But I said, "Yeah? That's nice," politely. "In, over around, off; right?" he asked. "Yeah, that's it," I said, smiling. Then we lapsed into the silence of commuters on the bus for awhile until he caught my eye and asked "Do you have any little ones?" "Yeah," I said, "but they're not so little anymore." "Well," he said, "You can take this for them, I got it for free, and it won't fit me." And he pulled out a brand new sweatshirt with the Grinch on it. I offered to pay him something for it -- it still had the price tag on it, which read $19.93. But he refused. I told him I'd pay it forward, and he agreed. And then he wished me Happy Holidays and got off the bus.

In other news, PT was extraordinarily painful for me yesterday. I told The Sadist that my shoulder was sore -- it was feeling like it did way back when this whole thing started. So he made me lay on my stomach and he twisted it up behind my back. It hurt so much I felt like I was going to throw up. He kept saying "Are you OK?" and I was trying not to groan or scream and mumbling "Yeah. I just need a second here." That will teach me to open my big mouth. Also, I went to the gym at work today and spent 10 minutes on the bike and did my wall squats with the big ball. And I also did another exercise The Sadist had me do -- I put a medicine ball between my knees and squeezed it while lifting my feet up. I had to go sit on the bench in the locker room because there was really nowhere to sit in the gym and besides, it's not really the kind of exercise I wanted to be doing in front of all the guys working out, you know? Some young girl walked in while I was doing it and looked at me funny. Hello! I'm weird! And of course now I'm all sore and achy. And do you think I could whine some more about having to exercise?? I'm so not the gym kind of person.

Monday, November 20, 2006


Sorry, no knitting pictures today. I'm working on the back of Christmas Cables, which Surprise! looks just like the front. I started the back on Friday, then again on Saturday when I realised that I could not reliably count to 8, let alone any number over 100. But I finally managed it and now I have my cable patterns set up and am cruising along.

No pics because Older Son has my camera in Washington DC for his class trip. He says he won't be taking any pictures. Makes me think he's up to something. He also says he didn't buy me a souvenir in his allotted evening of shopping. I believe that.
As part of this trip he'll be attending a performance at the Kennedy Center. We had quite the discussion about appropriate attire (especially shoes) for the Kennedy Center. I suggested his suit, but he insisted that because he's attending a comedy, the dress is much more casual. So we finally settled for his grey dress shirt, black twill pants, and dress shoes.

Finally, a couple of observations from the weekend. Rachael Ray is everywhere! I saw her face on no less than 4 magazine covers. She has what? 3 or 4 TV shows running? And she's hawking everything in the grocery store. I'm starting to feel like a total slacker because I can't deal with the one job, one house, one husband, two kids, one dependent parent. And also -- what's up with Honey Bunches of Oats cereal? It's like the CSI of the grocery cereal aisle. There is something like 5 or 6 different variations on it. I have trouble finding the 'plain, regular' version for the boys.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Attack of the Giant Centipede

I've started working on the neckline of Christmas Cables. I think it needs to be a bit wider (maybe more than a bit, like maybe I need to rip it out and start over again, but we'll see. I'm nothing if not optimistic.) Basic, basic shaping on this. Drop shoulders, trapezoid sleeves. I've been thinking about sleeves. I usually relate the sleeve patterns back to the sweater. I think I'm going reuse the Aran Braid cable and the Coin cable closer to the center of the sleeve. And I was thinking about a smaller version of the Wheat Ear cable. But then I looked at the picture from yesterday and thought "That looks like a giant centipede," and now it's kinda creeping me out.
Anyways, here's a close up of the Coin cable, since it's on the edge it tends to curl up an get lost in the big shots. Right next to it is the Aran Braid. I'm hoping to finish up the front here and get started on the back tomorrow. Hmmm, I might have this sweater done before the end of the month. But that still leaves the sweaters for Dave and I, and we have a bit more acreage to cover with knitting than the stick brothers. I'd also like to make some gloves for my PT Sadist (he definately needs to have warm hands). I'm thinking some Sanquhar patterns in navy and grey (because he does have those amazing blue eyes). That will be my bus knitting when I move on to the Husby sweater (too big for the bus) don't know about the size 000 needles, though.

I forgot to check my Outlook before I left work today and so I don't know if I have an interview tomorrow or not. Rats. That means I have to dress for an interview, so it's a suit for me instead of my jean skirt. And the same again next Friday, because I know I have an interview then.

Also, I've been maybe just a teeny bit anxious lately. This has manifested itself in a sleeping problem (can't fall asleep, can't stay asleep) and also in recurring anxiety dreams. I've graduated from the school anxiety dream (I either can't find my class, or I have to take a final in a class I've never been to, or both -- I have to take a final in a class I've never been to and can't find) to a work anxiety dream. Interestingly enough, when I have this dream, I'm working at the job I left 13 years ago, not my present job; and I'm always returning to the job. I've had this dream several times now, and my work environment is becoming more and more industrial. My old boss always features prominently. Do you remember Miles, Michael's nutcase boss from ThirtySomething? Yeah, he was like that. So, I'm only sleeping about 4-5 hours a night, and that has been fraught with dreams of running around an industrial looking lab (in lab coat and latex gloves) dealing with my psycho ex-boss. Fun. Who knows, maybe tonight it will giant centipedes.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Spot On

I am knitting away on Christmas Cables. Despite my best efforts. Last night I cast on and knit the first row/level of Criminy Jickets' Garterlac Dishcloth (Well, I actually intended to make a scarf with the left over Camo yarn, not a dishcloth.) The only thing that stopped me was the realization that it was too wide (I added an extra triangle/square) so I ripped back. This pattern though? Great for a variegated yarn. I see lots of cute baby blankets in my future. Then today I came home and found these in the mail. Look, a yarn sale! Also!
This yarn is on sale! For only $1.99 a skein!
They have this color too! I know, I know, it's freakin' Red Heart for cryin' out loud. That's all that's allowing me to hold off. Look at it, though. So tweedy, so spotty, so yummy-looking. Ok, ok, I'm a sucker for the spotty yarns. Just something in my make-up. But a yarn like this in a natural fiber (even a blend!) and I'm all over it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


It's my knee! It's stitch-free! And I can drive now! The surgeon had pictures of the inside of my knee when I went to see him today, but I was not really all that interested in seeing them. But he said there was no arthritis at all, so that's good news. This picture doesn't really do justice to the bruised halo around my knee (although that's fading away now) and you (fortunately) can't see the patch of hair that was under the bandaids so didn't get shaved with the rest of my leg. But both the doctor and the physical therapist did! Look, it's long enough to braid! How appealing and attractive!!

In the Weekend Knitting News, I presented Younger Son with his knitted birthday gifts. The sweater fits perfectly and looks great, but you'll have to take my word on it for now. Pictured are his feet in his own Fuzzy Feet which he and I closely supervised the fulling of to ensure they did not shrink too much. He is liking them very much. Can you just feel the fuzzy love?

We saw Santa Clause III The Escape Clause and I recommend it. We all really liked it. A friend saw it with some borrowed 5 year-olds though, and said that they didn't really get it. So it might be more for an older crowd.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Clapotis Movie Conferences

On the knitting front, I have not worked on Christmas Cables today. (I may after I'm done posting here, though.) I am almost done with my Clapotis. I have 'turned the corner', if you please. BUT (Cue the suspenseful music)
This is all the yarn I have left. Will it be enough? Will I have to rip back all my decreasing plus another twelve rows? Will I be forced to buy another ball of yarn and use only three feet of it? Only time will tell. Tune in next week for another exciting episode of As the Stash Grows.

Big plans for the weekend. Younger Son turns 13. (How the heck did that happen??) We are planning to go out for breakfast and then to the movies to see Santa Clause III. One of our biannual trips to the movies. I was surveyed last weekend on my movie habits and it didn't seem so pathetic until I said it out loud.

Survey Guy: Have you been to the movies in the past 2 months?

Me: No.

SG: How about in the past year?

Me: Yes.

SG: How many times have you been to the movies?

Me: Once.

SG: sounds a little desperate Does anyone else in your household go to the movies? Your children, your spouse? (Like I don't know who else lives here.)

Me: No. We go to the movies twice a year. We went in May and we'll be going again next weekend.

SG: sounds a little freaked out Ok, uh, thanks for your time....

But it's true -- we go to the movies twice a year. Once for Older Son's birthday in May and once for Younger Son's birthday in November. (We saw X-Men III for OS's birthday, btw. This is just a year of IIIs, I guess.)

Parent/Teacher conferences today. Two solid hours of "I really like him, he's a great kid, but..." Not too bad. YS has improved, OS is holding steady at commendable. If we could only push YS into the doing well category. And I had to get a key for the elevator -- no stairs for my knee! I kept telling teachers to call me. I felt like Blondie...

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Jean Miles posted yesterday about the old UseNet group rec.crafts.textiles.yarn and it got me thinking about when I discovered the on-line knitting community. That was back in '96. I posted pretty regularly on r.c.t.y (and r.c.t.n., but that's another story), and even wrote the first FAQs for r.c.t.y. (Wonder if they're even still around?) I joined the KnitList too, but that was when the List Nazis were in full swing (I'm sure she's probably a really nice person, but one of the major reasons I haven't gone to Knitting Camp despite my love for all things EZ and Meg Swansen is because Amy Detjen is involved in it.) So I didn't stay in for very long. That was around the time that Rick Mondragon was banned from the list. (Every time I read one of his "Letters From the Editor" columns I think about how the KnitList shot themselves in the foot on that one.) But for the most part, I liked the on-line community. Started a couple mailing lists myself, did an exchange or two. Then life got busy (I moved out of the country for awhile, then went back to school and started working full time) and I cut back. I picked up again in 2002 and discovered the world of knit blogs and on-line knitting magazines. And here I am writing about my knitting most days.

In other news, my dad is doing okay. I stopped in and saw him today after PT. He's sore from his fall, but doesn't seem to be seriously injured, so I'm relieved. We're getting him a lift chair this weekend (he slipped pushing up from his chair) and he's using his walker around the house.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Limping Along

I'm getting along ok without my crutches, but I'm still limping. I have to remember to do my exercises tonight -- I have PT tomorrow. Yippee!!

My dad fell today. Fortunately, I happened to call within minutes of when he fell and when he didn't answer I called Celtic Queen and sent her off to the rescue (she lives right up the street). I'm concerned, and worried, and frustrated. This is the third or fourth time he's fallen, and it's only been good fortune that we've gotten to him quickly and he hasn't had to spend a day laying on the floor, unable to get up. He's resistant to all our suggestions of things to help him. Maybe this time he'll be shook up enough so that we can get him one of those call services.

So I've been a bit preoccupied. Only a couple of rows on Christmas Cables. But my Clapotis is nearing completion. I'll probably start decreasing for the end sometime tomorrow. The end is in sight there!

And I'm interviewing tomorrow. Should be interesting. I spent the greater part of this evening looking at interview questions, so I know what to ask. Some of them are real toughies! Based on these, I'm not sure I could pass muster!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

More Cables, No Crutches

Here is the Christmas Cable sweater. The cables here are (moving out from the center): in the center the lovely Wheat Ear Cable, then the Little Plait, then the Horseshoe, then the Triple Gull Stitch, then the Aran Braid, then the Coin Cable. All except the Aran Braid are in BGW's First Treasury. The Aran Braid is in the Second Treasury. It's interesting to note that I have chosen a couple of cables that are twisting every row (Little Plait and Aran Braid). I like these alot, and the Wheat Ear twists every fourth row, still pretty tight for a 3 X 3 cable -- Think I might be wound just a teensy bit tight?? The yarn is Chaco, a no-name worsted weight wool I got for I think $1 or $2 a 100gr ball from Little Barn at MDS&W.

My Physical Therapist says I don't need the crutches anymore. In fact he laughed at me and told me I was more of a hazard with the crutches than without. (It's all that grace and coordination.) I'm still a bit leery and fearful of re-injuring my knee, so we agreed that I'm going to use a cane for a couple of days. And I have a rash on my leg. Well, it started on my leg, but has spread to my other leg and my arm. I called the surgeon, but his office says it's a matter for my PCP. I'll call them Saturday morning. Which I think is stupid. I could call now and have them schedule me for Saturday, but nooooo. They can't schedule an appointment for me for 6 weeks (and that's for a weekday, not a Saturday). BUT, if I call with an emergency on Saturday, they'll see me then. Makes sense, right?? Meanwhile, I probably have some hospital incubated super resistant to everything staph infection.

Monday, November 06, 2006


I've started the Christmas Cables sweater. I spent the weekend babying my knee, so was able to get in plenty of knitting. I had to add two more cables, I added the Horseshoe Cable (for luck) -- actually two of them, one on each side. I needed a little more width. The total width of the front is 19.5" (so total circumference of sweater will be 39"). I've knitted up the first skein (of 20, so I think I'll have more than enough!) so far. This is going to be a simple drop shoulder style.

My Clapotis is coming along, I've started on skein 6, which is the last skein before I start decreasing. So I hope to get it done this week.

My knee is feeling better, I was able to put some weight on it today. I'm starting to be frustrated about all the stuff that is not getting done around here. The guys have not been as helpful as I would have liked. Although I did get some vegetables (asparagus) for dinner tonight (but I had to ask).

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Swatch Watch

This is the state of the swatch for the Christmas Cables sweater. It's actually the whole width of the front/back of the sweater. I was initially thinking that I'd make this sweater the same way I did The Celting with no ribbing, so that this could be the front if it worked out to be the right width. But as I'm thinking about it, I decided that I wanted a nice twisted rib, so I'll have to start over anyways. I've got a couple other cable patterns ready to go so I can augment if it's not wide enough (I guesstimated that just over 100 sts in cable patterns would be enough). The patterns are: From BGW Treasury I Coin Cable, Triple Gull Cable, Little Plait, and Wheat Ear Cable; and from Treasury II Aran Braid. Each cable has 2 stitches in reverse stockinette around it (BGW did that) and there is one twisted stockinette stitch between each of the cables. The set up is as follows: Coin Cable, Aran Braid, Triple Gull Cable, Little Plait, Wheat Ear Cable, Little Plait, Triple Gull Cable, Aran Braid, Coin Cable. I'll knit a couple three four inches and measure the width to see where I want to go. Hopefully I'll be done swatching and started on knitting the sweater front by the end of the weekend.

And Clapotis! A veritable black hole of knitting. I keep buying more yarn and knitting and knitting and knitting and the dang thing isn't anywhere near being done! It tricks you with the decreasing and increasing and moving markers around every couple of rows so that you think you're making progress, but really you aren't. This is skein #5, and by my estimate I'll need at least 2 more skeins, maybe 3 (it will take one whole skein to decrease). CQ has graciously agreed to take me to buy more yarn tomorrow, before Friday Knitting at Barnes & Noble. So come and check us out. I'll be the one with the crutches.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Christmas Cables

Yarn? Check
BGW? Check
Needles? Check
Barely intelligible scribbled instructions? Check

Yeah, baby we're ready to start knitting the Christmas Cables sweater! Inspired by KnitPicks Amhra'n Gra' I decided to make Younger Son's Christmas sweater a collection of cables. I got Dave and Older Son to find my yarn and BGW Treasuries, picked out 5 great cables and I'm off the races. Well, I'm swatching. Depending on how things look I may be adding in an extra 4 st cable. We'll see. That's what swatching is all about.

Feeling better today. My knee is much less painful, and I can almost put weight on it! Work was better, but everyone still makes fun of me, and I still feel guilty about asking my minion to get me coffee. BTW, I came back from my surgery to find out he is leaving at the end of the week, so I'll be interviewing in the weeks to come. Fun.

We have about 5 pounds of Halloween candy left over. I ate so much candy today I'm sick. You know, what we tell our kids not to do.