Thursday, December 31, 2009

Knitting for My Sister

Every time I want to knit something for my sister, the knitting goddess pretty much wets herself laughing. Last year it was the gorgeous Druid Mittens from Brooklyn Tweed. Started them four or five times. The first time was on double points (don't ask me what size) that gave me waaaaaay to loose a fabric. So I went down a size. Fabric was fine but once I got past the wrist disaster set in. Just couldn't keep all those details managed on the dps. Ripped 'em out again and onto two circs. Just fine. But now the gauge was wrong (again). Ripped 'em out again and started over. Made a big fat mistake. Now they sit in the knitting basket waiting to be started over yet again.

Which I swear I will do because they are so gorgeous. They just needed a time out.

Then there's her Hey Teach sweater. It's a damn good thing I really like knitting this because I've knit it about six times already. Sissy is quite tall so the whole thing had to be lengthened and tried on over and over again. Then I had to do math to make the sleeves work. And I actually like math but this was just a pain. It'll be done soon at which point she'll probably hate it.

So this year I decided to go with something simple. She drives back and forth to Vermont a lot so I though an elegant pair of fingerless gloves would be perfect for the car. I have a very pretty pattern from Snowshoe Farm and there was some gorgeous pink wool in my stash so off I went.

This time I think the knitting goddess not only laughed at me but I'm sure she was pointing and laughing. I mean really--this was a pretty simple pattern. Two by two rib, stocking stich--nothing crazy. I've done much more complicated stuff.

But oh the ladders.

So I ripped them out and was just about ready to go spend a boat load of money on four new circular needles (because of course, I have every size but the ones I needed).

And then the knitting goddess smiled and sent me Margaret who taught me a trick to stop them. Now I've tried every trick--pull the stitch really tight, pull the next stitch really tight, twist the stitch then untwist it--but none of them worked. And oddly, I don't get ladders every time I knit on double points. I usually do just fine.

Well over a lovely glass of Chardonnay, Margaret said, just mark the beginning of your round and knit a few extra stitches onto each needle. So if each needle has, say, 11 stitches work those 11, put the free needle down and knit two more onto the needle you were using. Then pick up the free needle and do the same thing on each needle.

GENIUS! It worked like a charm.

Little did I know, the knitting goddess was smiling because she was taking a very short breather from laughing again. I cast on, the wrists were gorgeous and then I forgot to change to the larger needles. Got past the thumb gusset before I realized. So I ripped them out and started again. This time noticed that the gauge was totally wrong (swatches--like some men--lie). Ripped out again, new needles, got gauge and finally ended up with these. I promise they look better on the hands than off.

I love them and I think Sissy does too.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

First You Take An Onion

Okay--you've got your onion. It's a medium sized one (like the ones that come in a net bag). Chop it relatively finely. Do you have a cast iron skillet? If yes, heat it up a little bit and toss in about a Tablespoon of olive oil and the same of butter. If you don't have cast iron skillet use whatever you've got and while the oil is heating up go roll all your change and buy yourself a cast iron skillet. They're cheap.

P.S. You're heat should be on low.

Once the oil is hot, toss the onion in. 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme and season it gently with salt and pepper. While the onions wilt, peel, core and chop an apple (preferably Macoun). Into the pan it goes. After about 10 minutes, add 2 center cut pork chops. Sear the first side for about 10 minutes and then the other side for about 5.

Now pour in 1 cup of chicken stock and pop the pan into the oven for about 20 minutes.

Check the chops. When they are done, pull the whole pan out of the oven. The onions and apples will be very liquid! Take the chops out and cover them with fool. Sprinkle a Tablespoon of flour over all the juice in the pan and bring it to a boil.

After it has boiled for about five minutes, grab the potato masher and start mashing the apples and onions together. When it is as smooth as you like it, pour it over the chops.

Holy crap.
This is really good.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Goodbye Caution, Hello Wind!

So I did it! I threw caution to the wind and cast on a sweater yesterday morning that I only owned 1/3 of the yarn for. The Bells of Ireland sweater from the latest Interweave is absolutely perfect for my niece Molly for Christmas. And yes, I hear you talking, starting a sweater on 12/14 for Christmas also has an element of throwing caution to the wind in it but, as I am currently job searching, I have plenty of time for bobbles. It's too dark for photos right now but I promise some tomorrow.

Dillon is my new best friend. Not only did he email me back first thing this morning to tell me that they had the yarn I needed but he encouraged my recklessness.

I think I love him.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Middle Aged New England Version of The Warriors

So it was supposed to go like this. Leave Manchester, VT at 11:12 am (yes--I looked at the clock). Route 7 to route 279 back to route 7 to route 22 to 295 to the Taconic to the Saw Mill to home at about 2:30 ish.

Here's how it really went. Leave Manchester, VT at 11:12 am. Route 7 to route 279 (overshot 279 and had to double back). Route 279 back to route 7 with a stop at a very nice florist to make sure I was going in the right direction. The sky was quite leaden and the air had some texture to it but no snow. Made the turn on route 22 and admired all the red barns on the way to route 295. Made the turn onto 295 and, hey, is that snow. Ooooo it's so beautiful. Twinkly and light. Lovely. And look, I'm already at the Taconic.

Holy crap! Who flipped over the snow globe! Barely anyone on the road and no plows yet so it was deep and slippery FAST! After skidding out twice and almost hitting another car my shaky knees and I got the hell off the Taconic and sat in the parking lot of a closed realty office to recover. (P.S. Why would anyone drive right next to another car in a snow storm? I mean really, wake up hammer head.) Of course I couldn't find my book of maps in the trunk of the car but a quick call to Sissy had me headed across route 23 back to route 22. Slow going (which was good). Hey look, there's a deli. Maybe they have a map. No map but they did have a very slippery sidewalk (that's how fast the snow came) and I slipped and scraped my poor little pinky on their stucco wall. They were nice enough to tell me where 22 was so off I went.

Hey look! The roads are clearing up a little bit. Now they're just wet. This was a great idea. I may be bleeding but at least I'll get home. Got a map at the gas station on the corner of 22 and 23, figured out where the hell I was and was on my way. Slow going but that was just fine with me.



Hey what's that? Is that ice. I thought you weren't supposed to be able to see black ice. Holy crap (again) that's not black ice. That's solid ice! For 25 miles. (Still bleeding.) Oh hell, there's a big hill coming up and it's kind of windy. But hey, is that a sand truck up ahead? Yeah!!!!! But why is it stopped halfway up the hill. You've got to be kidding me. I have to stop on ice, on a hill, in a Mazda! I'll never get going again. What's that orange glow on the dashboard? My get gas light is on and I'm stuck on a hill in the middle of nowhere and there is absolutely no way AAA is going to be able to find me. (Still bleeding and crying a little bit.) The sheriff arrived with some volunteers. Got the poor woman stuck at the top of the hill straightened out and got us all going again with some minor tire spinning and swerving. Whew. And a very nice lady going in the other direction who stopped right next to me gave me the lowdown on what was ahead--more ice.

Keep going. Find a gas station. Check the map again. (Bleeding and crying has slowed down a little although my right hand looks like a special guest star on CSI.) Roads getting better. Still slow but not a problem at all. Make a vow that I'm never going over 30 mph again.

I'm hungry. And I have to pee. Look at that cute place. Nice clean rest room, lovely girl behind the counter who gave me a chocolate chip cookie and a really tasty sandwich. And she told me about the woman who had been in a few minutes before me who had been on the road for 3.5 hours for a 20 minute ride. Wow! My day hasn't been that bad. Continue on 22 to Pawling when the traffic stops. Completely. For a while. Knit a little and still hadn't moved so went back to the map. Turned around when I could creep up to somewhere safe and went back the way I had come. This was not what I had planned!!!!!! The feeling of driving away from home was horrific.

Got onto Route 55 just as it was getting dark and, hey, what's that gray thing up there. It can't be a wall of fog can it? This is getting crazy! 55 to Route 292 in pea soup fog to Route 311. Suddenly have the urge to call someone (anyone!) and say "guess where I am" just so when they say "I don't know" I can say "Me neither" and start laughing insanely. Finally get to 84 South and make it to 684. Raining cats and dogs and here's where I start seeing the detritus of the day. Between there and Mount Kisco (maybe 14 miles) I passed at least 9 cars and trucks completely off the road.

FINALLY onto the Saw Mill Parkway. Everyone stayed in the right lane and went really, really slowly (did I mention that that was fine with me). Someone needs to explain to people that if everyone is going 20 mph, you don't need to drive with your flashers on. Wondered what would happen if the lights on the car in front of me gave me a seizure.

Is that the exit for Hastings? Is the liquor store still open? No. Is Stew Leonard's still open? Yes. Are P&E out at Maud's? Yes.

There was wine!

After all that, I counted my blessings and raised a glass to my good luck.

I hope that luck holds out. I cast on this this morning. But I only have half the yarn I need. Flying Fingers is closed today so I'm going to ride my luck and hope that Dillon has some of what I need upstairs.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Unfinished Objects

I've discovered that there are many many kinds of unfinished objects in my knitting corner. And all of them have their reasons.

1. The ones that aren't really unfinished. Case in point--my sister's Hey Teach. It's a great pattern, it's fabulous yarn and it's a wonderful knit. The only problem is my sister is really tall. So I've had to lengthen the sweater, lengthen the bodice, lengthen the arm holes, adjust the sleeves. And that has all involved a lot of trying on and ripping back. It hasn't been frustrating at all as it is such a lovely knit. It's just been time consuming with lots and lots of gaps in between try ons.

2. Other people's UFOs. My friend R started a blanket for her grandson. She works a lot. I am unemployed. This poor kids has been waiting for ages for this present so, being a good grandmother, she asked me to finish it for her. It flew by! Eight rows of stocking stitch and then eight rows of reverse stocking until I ran out of yarn. And although I don't really care for acrylic, Plymouth Encore really is among the best of them. Very soft and machine washable.

My friends M & Rs Mom passed away recently. She was a wonderful knitter and before she died, we had a conversation about a hat she was planning for R. It was very important to her that he have a nice warm hat for winter but never got a chance to cast on. So I cast on for her--sometimes a UFO was never started but it is important to finish it. Of course I made a hat for M as well. By the way, today is their 30th wedding anniversary. Although my stupid state doesn't recognize their marriage, I most certainly do and I wish them 30 more wonderful years.

3. The UFO that is really not your fault. I cast on a blanket with the expectation that I could get more of the yarn. That hasn't turned out to be the case. It should be easier--it's Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky--but this color seems to have disappeared. I refuse to give up though so it remains in the corner as a beacon of hope. Of course now I can't find the photo of it so that'll have to wait for another day.

4. The UFO that I fear. Nuff said. Sometimes my knitting scares me and it needs to stay in the corner until I can suck it up and overcome those fears. If I pick it up and immediately start humming the music from Halloween--back to the corner it goes.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Shameful Day for the State of New York

The NYS Senate just voted against Marriage Equality in NYS. I mean for crying out loud--what's the problem here folks. How does this affect anyone other than the two parties being married. I have yet to hear a plausible argument against Marriage Equality.

Canada is looking better and better every day.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Edible Garden

How this (almost) got past me, I'll never know. I checked me email on Friday and found out that, lo and behold, Sunday was going to be the last day of the Edible Garden at the New York Botanical Gardens. That is so perfectly up my alley that I got our free pass, charged up the camera and off I went.

If you've never been it's definitely worth spending a few hours. For some reason, it always takes me back in time. It's serene and peaceful and you could picture Edith Wharton on a bench scribbling away. Unless of course there's something exciting going on and then it turns into everything you love about New York. All different kinds of people, all different voices and languages, all different types of families and singles. It's quite extraordinary.

And you get to see things like this.

It was the most beautiful purple basil that I've ever seen.

And this is Orris Root which smelled amazing. I kept drifting back to it because it smelled so good.

I'm not sure what these are but I want to own a lot of things in that color. It was so vivid and happy.

There were about a dozen vendors handing out samples on the steps of the big greenhouse. My two favorites were Ayala's Herbal Water and Laloo's Goat Milk Ice Cream. The water comes in really amazing, subtle flavors and was so refreshing. I'm not a big fan of either bottled water or flavored waters but these were so unique and delicious that I see a lot of them in future. Especially the lavender mint flavor. The goat milk ice cream had a wonderful, creamy texture and the guys running their table were so nice. I had the coffee and the mission fig (ahhhhhhh---figs) and both were outstanding. There were also very good dumplings from a company out in Brooklyn but they didn't have any takeaway cards so I signed up for their mailing list. I'll let you know all about them when I hear from them.

The highlight for me was seeing Ariane Daguin, the president of D'Artagnan,in the Conservatory Kitchen. She made a lovely dish of ham and mushrooms over polenta. She's so knowledgeable and interesting and just a lot of fun to watch. I wish I had gotten her photo showing how ducks and geese would fly if their livers were on the side (like all other animals). It was pretty funny.

There was one woman in the audience who seemed to be trying to bait her. First she asked about using nitrates as a preservative. Ariane was terrific. She said, yes, they did use nitrates in some of their products because they had too and there is currently no better alternative. Apparently, some companies are now using celery juice to preserve their products to appear greener but the celery has the same nitrates in it that everyone else uses. The woman also asked about force feeding ducks and geese to grow their livers. Ariane gave a great, very clear explanation of how ducks and geese work. They travel very far distances over mountains and seas so they force feed themselves twice a year to grow their liver and thicken their skin (the two places where they can carry the calories that they need to make it to their destination with no food). So it is in their nature to force feed. Unlike a chicken, which everyone agreed would be cruel to force feed as it is not in their nature.

I recently received some confit duck gizzards as a gift (I have wonderful friends) and asked for her suggestions. She jumped right in with some ideas for cassoulette our lentils. Yum to both of them!

I think I want to go work for her!

Friday, September 11, 2009

It's That Day Again.

Today is the day that I commit to peacefulness and kindess. In a way it's a sort of New Year's Eve for me.

It truly blows my mind (in the best possible way) that the worst of human nature brought out the best in human nature. I will always cherish the spirit in my community in the days that followed the 9/11 tragedy. We showed our true colors, were kind to each other, and offered help and support to anyone and everyone who needed it.

I will strive for that every day.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Summer Soup Rules!

I admire my sister for buying ingredients that she doesn't know what to do with. I come from a long line of good cooks and, the fun part, is that we all have our own styles, our own favorites and our own special techniques. Pop can look in the fridge and make an amazing meal out of any and every kind of leftovers. Granny makes a leg of lamb that you could die for. My grandmother made gravy that was like liquid roast beef. Interestingly, she taught us all the technique to make it but it has taken me a lifetime to get even close to what she could do.

So I was up at Sissy's house the other day and she had a package of tomatillos on the counter. This is not an ingredient that is an everyday event around our houses and I commented on it. She, quite kindly I think, said "I don't know what the hell to do with them. You take 'em and come up with something good." (I have to add that this is very different than what she said to me when I poked my nose in a pan of string beans she was sauteing.)

And so I give you (drum roll please):

Roasted Tomato and Tomatillo Soup

1/2 lb. tomatillos with the papery husks removed
2 to 2.25 lbs. plum tomatoes
1/2 a softball sized red onion (or the equivalent of smaller onions)
1 3 -4 inch jalapeno pepper
olive oil
kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper
3 cups chicken stock (this really doesn't need to be the good stuff)
1/2 cup heavy cream

Halve the tomatillos and the tomatoes. Cut the red onion into 4 wedges. Halve the jalapeno and remove most (but not all of the seeds).

Spread the vegetables on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle them liberally with olive oil and season them liberally with the salt and pepper.

Put the baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven and turn the temperature on to 400 degrees (no need to preheat for this).

After 30 minutes, give the vegetables a nice mix in the sheet. They will be soft but will hold their shape. Continue to roast for another 15 - 30 minutes (45 to 60 minutes total). Start checking them after 15 minutes. When they are soft enough to collapse, they are done.

Let the vegetables cool for a few minutes and then add them, with all their juices to the jar of your blender. Puree them until they are smooth and then add the chicken broth through the feed tube until the soup is the consistency you like (remember--if you're going to serve this as a cold soup it will be thicker than when it is heated).

Add 1/2 cup heavy cream and blend for just a few seconds to mix.

Serve this either hot or cold.

Damn. I've got to tell you this came out so good! And the roasting vegetables made the house smell amazing. Although there is very little seasoning in this, the flavors really shine through and linger and develop on your palate. If you are vegetarian or vegan, you can use vegetable stock and leave out the heavy cream (I just like a little decadence in it).

I happen to like my soup in a wide, shallow bowl. I'm thinking some really sharp cheddar on 7-grain bread under the broiler for a few minutes until it's nice and browned would be perfect with this. I think I'll cut it up into fingers and pour the soup in a shallow layer around it.

Friday, August 21, 2009

I Have More Time Than I Thought I Did

I realized this morning that, although my friend is leaving the Y.O. on Monday, her Dad is leaving on Thursday to spend two weeks with her. I'll tell you why once I finish the gift and can show it to you.

So, it seems I have a moment to blog today. First of all, I finished a few things. This is for book club Christmas gifts. I'm doing something fun this year. I need five gifts altogether and I have three done so far. However, that is a topic for another blog post when they are all done. I just really really loved this. It's a lot of fun to knit. I did it on size 15 needles (had to use a circular for my cable needle) so it flew by.

It's the Chunky Cabled Scarf (I did the ribbing with 11s) in Freedom Wool from Twilley's of Stamford. The color didn't come up well in the photo but it's a really pretty teal blue (it looks a little grayer than it actually is). I got it at one of the Warehouse Wednesday sales at Flying Fingers.

I also haven't shown you my Sock Summit socks yet. Here they are, folded up on my kitchen table.

It's the Sunday Swing sock. What a wonderful pattern. It may be my new basic sock. It has just enough detail to keep you interested but is simple enough to do it anywhere, anytime! And Kristel Nyberg is a doll. I emailed her about a typo in the pattern and we had a very nice email exchange. It's a pity her blog is only in Finnish! (P.S. The typo was not a big deal but I'm the type of person who will very gently and discreetly tell you if you have spinach in your teeth. I believe it is much more embarrassing to walk around like that than to have someone kindly tell you about it.) Anyway, as I said, she seems to be a lovely woman and I am really looking forward to playing with some more of her patterns.

As much as I loved the pattern, I was somewhat disappointed with this yarn. I don't usually like to work in really dark yarns but this was so pretty that I made an exception. It felt great in my hands and has a beautiful drape. BUT--There were at least three really weak spots in it and the plying was somewhat inconsistent. I had to break the yarn at the weak spots which I really hate to do on socks. I'm going to email the manufacturer (see above about spinach) because the yarn really has a great reputation.

Last but not least, I had to wash all the linens for the pullout couch the other day because there was a distinct possibility that my friend was going to be staying here. The pullout hasn't been used in years so I was pretty certain that it needed some refreshing. Babycat--my oldest, insane, deaf cat--loved having this pullout open and she was the best helper while I was making the bed.

I leave you with catlump.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Beware of Geeks Bearing Gifts

I started a gift tonight that I need to have done by Sunday. And I'm going to have to block the crap out of it so really, it needs to be done by Saturday morning.

Sorry for the short post but I have to get back to knitting it.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Week One is Done!

So we have made it through the first week of having no elevator in my apartment building. Really, it hasn't been that bad. I live on the third floor and it's only two flights of stairs so I can't complain. Frankly, it's been faster than taking the elevator! It's also good exercise. It's funny that such a little thing can make such a difference but I can already feel it in my legs. It is a bit of a pain to do laundry or bring in groceries because you have to walk all the way around the building to get to the basement but, que sera sera.

It's just the thought of it. Maybe any time we feel like we are denied something (like my elevator), we want it back--no questions asked.

Speaking of wanting something back, I FINALLY found my camera. God knows how but it had worked its way under the bedspread and it was all the way down at the foot of the bed. Odd but, hey, at least I found it. It also meant that I could take all the garbage out. I'm always scared that something feel in the trash so I don't put it down the chute until I find whatever is lost.

So I can show you something that I finished. It took forever because I just couldn't find buttons that I liked. But here it is in all its glory.

It's Molly's Carolyn sweater. It started out as Susie's Carolyn but then I realized it would fit her so I just switched the name of it and made it for Molly instead. The photo is a little bit redder than the actual sweater. It's a very cool, dusty pink and purple and the buttons are mother of pearl (or maybe abalone) and they pick up the colors beautifully.

It will fit her for a while and when she outgrows it, I'll give it to someone else and make her another one. It really looks great on her!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Shine A White Light

Today is a day for positive energy. My friend is in the process of passing and I am gathering all of the white light that I can to shine for her for a peaceful passage.

She is the stepmother of one of my childhood friends and lives with her loving and kind husband in the building next to mine. I had lost touch with my childhood friend until recently and had a wonderful visit with her in April (she lives in Italy). It was truly like a day hadn't passed in the 18 years since we had seen each other.

In that time, she lost her mother, her dad remarried a wonderful woman, she fell in love, became an Italian citizen and grew into a stunningly beautiful, smart, funny, fun, interesting woman.

Here Dad has been asking for prayers on facebook so last night I went out and got the ingredients to create a dish for them to keep in the freezer for those nights when they were too tired to cook. Cooking for people is one of the ways that I pray.

This morning I got a call from Italy to tell me that Harriet has started her passage.

I know I don't have a lot of readers but if you are out there, please shine a little white light for this family. It will help.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Victory! (Sort of)

Technically I knit two socks between the opening of Sock Summit registration and the close of the luminary panel. The "sort of" part of the title is the fact that I only have one and a half finished socks. Honestly, I could have finished the second sock but on Sunday afternoon I popped down to the pool and found my cousins and their babies visiting. So that took some time. Then my friend Bob had one of his oldest friends visiting and I was intrigued by her. Have you ever met someone and been completely unsure of whether or not you like them. It's an odd sensation to have absolutely zero first impression of someone. Thus the intrigue. As it turns out, she is lovely and fun and I hope she'll visit again soon. But again--that took some time.

Then my old friend Gloria called and she was in town! Hurray! So off I went to Blu in Hastings for wine and treats. We had their crabcakes (which were okay) and the most amazing duck confit, fig, bleu cheese and parmesan pizza. Holy crap! It was amazing. Duck confit is my favorite food in the whole world followed closely by figs, bleu cheese and parmesan. I was in heaven.

And then what do you think happened today? FedEx rang my buzzer. Hmm--I haven't ordered anything lately. My oh my what could this be.

You geussed it! Gloria sent me a gorgeous can of duck confit which will be seared and served with a pan roasted potato, onion and bleu cheese gratin. I can't wait.

I've been in such a funk lately and it is amazing what a surprise gift can do to you. I was both moved and touched and actually shed a few tears over how lucky I am to have a friend like her.

Friday, August 7, 2009

I Thought My Feet Were Bigger

I cast on at 4 pm EST on Wednesday for my Sock Summit socks. And I have to say I love this pattern (although there is a typo in the pattern--the 26 stitches after you turn the heel on the large size should be 36). I emailed Kristel and she is going to let Knitty know so they can make the correction.

I had just finished the heel and started the gusset when I decided to try them on and they are just waaaaaaaay too big. Time to recast on for the medium size instead.

The upside is that I love this pattern so much that I don't even mind reknitting and it goes so fast, I think I can still finish them by Sunday.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sock Summit Project Begins Today

I swatched. I hardly ever swatch but as I am on such a tight time frame on this one, I swatched.

I was originally going to do Sunday Swing in this.

It's Wollmeise Sockenwolle 80/20 Twin in the colorway Paul (a lovely not to Gaugin). The colorway is out of stock but the other colors are fab. I got gauge but it was a little too dense for me.

So I swatched this.

The ball band is long gone. I know I bought it at Flying Fingers last year. It was originally going to be a pair of Spring Forward socks but the colorway and the pattern didn't work well together. I loved them both--just not together. So they had a very amicable divorce and ended up back in the stash and the queue. I also got gauge on this but, again, it was a smidge too dense.

Then I remembered this.

I bought it the same day as the mystery yarn above and it has been hiding out in my stash ever since. It is Zitron Trekking Hand Art and is just lovely. The gauge is perfect. The drape is perfect. I color is perfect. It reminds of a December sky at twilight. You know those clear, cold nights when the sky is bluer than anything you've ever seen before. It's like that.

Just a little under 5 hours to my 4 p.m. cast on.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

My Own Personal Sock Summit

Well I can't go to sock summit. Sad sad sad. So instead, I'm going to have my own personal Sock Olympics. I'll be casting on at 4 pm on Wednesday. Registration opens at 1 pm in Portland and I am in Yonkers so it's the same time. The plan is to have a pair of socks done by 8:30 on Sunday.

I'm going to do these. I have some great yarn that I got from Denise a while back and I think this pattern is perfect for it. I started some plain socks with it. Then some Jaywalkers. But neither was perfect and it's such great stuff that it demands perfection.

And speaking of perfection, I have very little of it in my life right now so I decided to create some in my kitchen. I have been pretty much boiling the walls in there for the past few days. It has taken a lot longer than it should because I am a very lazy housekeeper and tend to get distracted but I must say it is pretty satisfying. Until yesterday. I decided to clean behind the fridge and thought I was going to drop dead when I saw how gross it was. I finally pushed the fridge back into place late last night but will be pulling it out again today for one more scrub (I ran out of bleach). I swear to you, I will either have to do this every few months from now on or sell my apartment before I have to do it again.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Adventure Continues

When we last left Yvonne's Shrug, she had just visited Peggy's Cove in beautiful Halifax, Nova Scotia.

After a very pretty bus ride, we were given the reward of a delicious lobster lunch. Of course everyone got split up at tables. My mom, the shrug and I sat with LeeAnne and Shirley, high school friends from California. They were both retired now but still traveled together often. Of course now that we had met them, we ran into them every five minutes on the ship!

We got back to the dock too late for a trip up to The Loop (very sad) and set sail for Boston. Now I've been in a major east coast city many times on the Fourth of July and I knew what a madhouse Boston would be. So I took the opportunity to spend another day curled up in a cozy chair and finished up Yvonne's shrug. It's lovely. And I cast on for a mitten.

As darkness fell, we headed up to my favorite deck to watch the fireworks over Boston. Just lovely. It's way too hard to take pictures of fireworks with my little digital so you'll just have to take my word for it.

We set sail at midnight and had another glorious day at sea (along with another little knitting group) before returning home in the morning.

Of course, I was greeted by two happy cats and a really stinky bag of garbage that I forgot to take out before I left. Terrific.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Yvonne's Shrug Goes on Vacation

I am home from vacation and positively miserable! I miss the Queen Mary desperately. If only because on the days at sea they had--get this--a knitting group. A knitting group in the champagne lounge. Could life get any better?

I took Yvonne's shrug with me to finish and it visited wonderful places.

We sailed from New York and Yvonne's shrug really enjoyed the view of the Statue of Liberty. It was misty and beautiful. As we entered our beautiful little cabin, here is what Yvonne's shrug and I found.

And this is before the knitting group in the champagne lounge. They just put this out for you as a teaser!

After the first of many amazing meals, we spent a day at sea. Paradise. Nothing to do. No one to worry about. Just lovely people (especially Lorna and Danny) and lovely knitting in a comfy chair on the deck.

It's lovely how many people on a cruise will stop and chat. Many of whom I learned their name but many of whom I just spent a nice few minutes.

Our first stop was Halifax Nova Scotia. Hopped on a bus, drove around town and then headed out to Peggy's Cove.

It's a tiny village (maybe 50 people) that is positively overrun by tourists during the day because it is beyond beautiful. The fog was very thick and romantic while we were there so I just pretended I was Evangeline and enjoyed it. The two people standing just to the left of center on the rock are my sister and brother-in-law.

Also at Peggy's Cove, we saw the most wonderful rock carving. This is just a small piece of it--it extended about 20 feet in each direction. Needless to say, Yvonne's shrug was very impressed.

Stay tuned to find out where Yvonne's shrug went next!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I Am Not Fond of Sewing Up

As I wrote the title I said it with my best Queen Elizabeth accent. Probably because I finally watched The Queen today. What a great picture. Helen Mirren is spectacular.

But I digress.

I've always hated sewing up my work. It's tedious, fiddley and boring. Now I really enjoy fiddley when it's cables and bobbles and actual--dare I say it--knitting. I hate it when it's sewing.

So imagine my surprise when I found out I was doing it totally ass backward. I was flipping through a pattern book recently and found out that I was doing a completely ridiculous version of blanket stitch and could have spent the past 35 years, if not enjoying the sewing at least not hating it.

With my new skills in my arsenal, I finally finished Molly's Carolyn sweater. I started it out so log ago that it was supposed to be Bratty Girl's sweater but she outgrew it. It's Brown Sheep Nature Spun Worsted. Some people write off the Brown Sheep yarns as old fashioned but I find them to be lovely. The price is reasonable. The yardage is great. And their are tons and tons of colors to choose from.

It is now patiently waiting for buttons. I am going to be in Halifax for one day next week so I'm going to look from some there. If I don't find them, then a trip to M&J will be in order.

My newly found sewing skills also led to this. Although I wish I had read the Yarn Harlot's tutorial on picking up stitches today. I love learning from other knitters--particularly those that also give me humor and inspiration.

This is the first in a series. I made it for my friend Paula. I know it is just in time for New York Summer Heat but it will still fit her in the fall. I loved this pattern although I did make a few changes. Mostly, I totally ditched the short row shaping on the back. I kept trying the shrug on Paula all through the knitting process and it really didn't need the shaping . And it was giving me a hard time so I just skipped it. I like to count rows rather than measure things so, in my total nerdiness, I ended up with an excel spreadsheet for all the shaping. It made my life about a gazillion times easier so I don't really care if I'm a big old nerd.

The next one is pink for Yvonne followed by--hmmm what color should I do--for Joyce.

Paula also got my yarn money for the week. She is flying to Chicago to participate in a suicide prevention walk in honor of a loved one that she has lost. If you would like to support here, just click here. I'm sure she would appreciate some love from the knitting world.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

VT Part 2

Ta Da! Let me be the first to show you the site of the new family summer home.

Okay, if you're going to be so picky about it, it doesn't really belong to the whole family. My sister and her wonderful husband just bought it. There's no house on it (there used to be but it burned down). But there will eventually be one with a nice big porch so you can look out over the pond and , of course, it will have a bedroom for me!

I went up for the night with Sissy for the closing and got to spend the day tootling around Southern VT. We stayed at the Windham Hill Inn which is beyond fabulous! The food was great, the property is beautiful and the rooms are to die for. Click the link and take a look.

I'll wait here till you get back.

So, was I right. It's gorgeous. Actually it's even more gorgeous than the website if you can believe it. And it's right down the hill from the property. Katia, Bonnie, Dan and Jared were wonderful hosts. Jared even charmed the snake back into his hiding space so that my sister could have breakfast.

Of course, it poured rain all the way home so I had a bear of a ride. I am pretty proud of myself that I managed to stay the hell out of Webs although it was very, very tempting to pop in. Anything to get the hell off 91 for a while. But--I'm on a tight budget and am doing my best to keep all my yarn money local.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Y.O. visits the V.T.

Okay first things first. I saw a Moose. A real one. In the wild. It was pretty amazing. They pretty much look like anorexic horses. They are gangly as all git out and are all knees and elbows. Not unlike the Olson twins.

And I saw a snake. Now understand that snakes don't bother me one bit. They do, however, bother my sister. This poor little guy had to deal with a 6'1" blond woman screaming at him and doing a pretty amazing oh-my-god-its-a-snake dance.

Don't get me wrong. I am a huge advocate for other people's animal fears (mine is spiders--eww) but first thing in the morning it's pretty entertaining to watch someone who hates snakes react to one. I know I will get my punishment for this. It's inevitable.

So there are snakes in VT. What are you going to do.

On the other hand, there are also waterfalls.

And lupines.

And stone walls.

And fresh air poisoning. I have had way too much of that nice clean air in the past 24 hours and now all I want to do is sleep like a baby.

So you'll have to wait until my next post (maybe tomorrow) to find out why we went to Vermont and take a peek at where we stayed.

On the knitting front, I did get a little bit of work done today on a very cute shrug but I'm too pleasantly sleepy to blog about it right now so that will have to wait too.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

If My Life Were A Shakesperean Play....

my name would be Pathetica and the man in my life would be named Assholio.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sad News

Tinycat didn't make it. She continued to have seizures and, with our wonderful vet, we helped her pass peacefully.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Meet Tinycat

This is Tinycat. Isn't she cute.

She's my sweet little snuggler and she is sick sick sick right now. Yesterday morning she had some sort of "incident" that had me running to the emergency vet. They're new and I thought they were terrific. Dr. Gerard did a full work up on the little girl and, although it was clear that something happened, she seemed otherwise healthy. We now patiently await the lab test results.

And I say patiently with every drip of sarcasm that I can get into the word.

I am totally freaked out by this. She's always had a bad back and is somewhat limpy (she walks sort of like a fat raccoon). But this was something different. She was jumping and jerking on the floor and I thought we were losing her right then and there. She's been very very weak today but has been eating and drinking so I am hoping for the best. (I'll leave out the part where she peed on me--I think it was an accident.)

I sat and snuggled with her this morning while I worked on the button band for Molly's Carolyn sweater so I am hoping that she got some good wool vibe and will be well soon. This sweater has been sitting unfinished for way too long--especially since all it needed was the button band. I'll finish casting off this afternoon and then sew up the sides and hope to hell that it still fits Molly.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

I will spend the afternoon with Granny and Sissy, but decided to spend the morning with nature and knitting. I have an amazing spot right by the Bronx River where I spend a lot of time with some socks and my iPod. And who do you think was there waiting for me this morning.

I call her Harriet. She's a Great Heron and she is gorgeous. It was very breezy (okay, windy) this morning and her tail feathers were blowing in the wind. It was almost too beautiful to be real. I wish the photo was better but she was on the other side of the river.

I'm taking her as a sign. This morning I decided it was time for me to let go of the things that have hurt me in the past. I need to get back to the normal, happy person that I used to be and not the shrew I have been for the past few months.

So it's a new day, with Harriet as my guide.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Warehouse Wednesdays

So my church (I mean local yarn shop) Flying Fingers, treated us all to Warehouse Wednesdays for the past few months. Lots and lots and lots of beautiful fibers on sale for ridiculously low prices. I confess, like a virgin at the mouth of a volcano, I threw myself in! The first day that I went, the weather was awful. Honestly, I didn't even know the sale was going on but I needed a set of BIG dns so I risked the sleet and ice and drove to Tarrytown. Now I have to confess that I did still have some money left on a gift certificate but even without it the prices were unbelievable. Can you believe I got all this and only had to put about 30 bucks on the counter.

On no she didn't!! Oh yes she did!! Sorry the picture is a little blurry but I was waaaay too excited.

Since then, I've been like a junkie getting her Wednesday fix. And we actually have some finished objects out of it.

The Debbie Bliss baby hoodie. Very cute. For my cousin Monica's soon to be baby. Plassard Merinos (which I also bought in grey, lavendar and a rainbowy mix).

The same hoodie for Baby Luke. Except this time, I kept the hood stitches live and kitchenered them together. I like it a lot better. This is Cascade 220. Lovely.

I love this. And I don't usually do "novelty" yarns. It's La Pampa and is just yummy. I love this neckwarmer. Not really spring knitting but someone will use it when it gets cold again.

Monday, May 4, 2009


I think that deleting someone from your cell phone is about the hardest thing ever. I just did it and it broke my poor little heart.

I know it was the right thing to do but it is just so final. It's definitive. Particularly since the person that I deleted (oh god--I was just typing deleted and accidentally wrote delighted--that might push me over the edge) had their own, special ring so that when he called, I would know right away that it was him.

I'm going to wallow in my misery for a little while and try to be better tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

In Which The Heroine Figures Out What's Wrong

Yes friends. I've finally figured out what the heck is wrong. Sit down because this is a doozy. I've been sending my resume out with no phone number on it. That's right--here I am, I'm fabulous, I have all the experience you need but I'm going to play hard to get. I think this kind of coyness will work really well for your organization and you should hire me right away.

Imagine the words that came out of my mouth when I found out.

I have absolutely no idea what happened. I have some old copies that I sent out that have the number on it. I have some hard copies--ditto. But suddenly somewhere along the line, the number disappeared.

Deep breath.

Another deep breath.

I will handle this and survive and grovel to all the hiring managers that I sent the wrong one to.

Sip of Chardonnay.

Another sip of Chardonnay.

I will stop using every foul word I know and pull myself up by the bra straps and start resending.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Happy (Day After) St. Patrick's Day

What a fun fun day. First I did laundry. I know it does not sound like fun but it had to be done. Then off to the NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade. I go every year and stand on the steps of St. Patrick's Cathedral and, I must say, yesterday was one of the nicest parades we've had in years. My dad worked the steps of the cathedral every year while he was on the job and he still goes back every year and "works". He's terrific and charming and everyone there loves him.

This makes me cry every year.

The NYC Fire Department marches with 343 flags every year to represent the Fire Fighters who were lost on September 11th. It is an extraordinarily touching sight and never fails to move me to tears.

Then we saw this.

That handsome man in the left hand corner is my wonderful cousin Pat. He's a peach and a half and he always remembers to look for me on the steps and waves to me. It tickles me pink.

Then I got interviewed on 1010 Wins. It was very exciting and I can't believe that my phone isn't ringing off the hook with offers for me to do interviews on every local radio station. I didn't get to mention my knitting but I think it was implied.

Then my partner in crime Kathleen and I went to the Prime Burger for lunch. It's the greatest place on earth. It's an old school coffee shop with individual seats with swing out trays (I should have taken a picture because it's hard to describe but I was hungry). Had a fabulous burger served by an outrageously cranky old waiter in a white coat. I love the place. You couldn't make it up if you tried.

As if that wasn't enough, Kathleen and I left the parade at about 4 and worked our way over the west side where we met this man on the street.

I can assure you that if you run into a wacky person on the street and they have a baby carriage with them, chances are there is a dog in the carriage.

I was not disappointed.

But wait--there's more. I always have dinner with my family and Gallaghers Steakhouse and Kathleen thought her friend Danny Quinn was playing there until 5. So we hot footed it over there. The place was packed, there was no music but a very nice employee told us there was a private party upstairs and he thought her friend was playing at it. So up we went--we were "with the band"--and we ended up at the ESPN radio St. Pat's party. It was a hoot. We met some nice people, played a practical joke (just a little one) with one of them, heard some great music (John Nolan was playing with Danny) and had some free drinks. Always a good time. The ESPN staff was so welcoming to the party crashers that I think I'll crash again next year.

Then it was off to the Novotel bar for my annual cocktail there. Years ago, I worked on an album with an amazing musician named Johnny Cunningham and he loved the bar at the Novotel. He passed a few years ago so every St. Pat's I raise a glass to him there.

Then back to Gallaghers for an amazing dinner with la familia and finally home.

It was a wonderful day.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Today is the first day of (fill in the blank)

Okay everyone. How happy are you?! I won't spend any time complaining about the past 8 years. It's over--finally--and we are at the dawn of a new day.

I have never been so moved by a politicians speech. The fact that President Obama (I love writing that) included "non-believers" when he talked about religion in America is one of the most inclusive, exciting things I've ever heard. Especially coming off a presidency that was so deeply rooted in Christianity. Now don't get me wrong, I have no problems with Christianity. I am a Christian and have my beliefs but President Obama (did I mention that I love writing that) has taken an oath to serve the constitution and that includes everyone--regardless of what you think of their beliefs.

I also loved that his speech was about hope. Perhaps I am naive but I think he will give us an administration that actually inspires hope and belief in a better future rather than outrage, secrecy and confusion. Most importantly, I think he made it clear that we already have a lot of the tools that we need to accomplish anything that we desire--we just have to start using them effectively and openly.

I went to the Yonkers Public Library to watch the inaguration with my community. There were people there of every age, color, style and sanity level. And yes--there were knitters! And there was lots and lots and lots of cheering! But the most amazing thing happened afterwards. Strangers were stopping each other on the street (it happened to me twice) and saying "Hey, we were at the inauguration together this morning." And then they were stopping and talking to each other. It was amazing. I don't know if you are at all familiar with downtown Yonkers but that is not a common occurrence there. It was a wonderful feeling!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Look What I Got!

My birthday was last month. I got some great gifts, had some wonderful meals and terrific times with friends and family. I like to make the celebration last as long as possible. This year, it poured rain on the actual day (which I love) and we had a very cozy dinner at Jake's in the Bronx. It was wonderful. I was promised a trip to Flying Fingers for my gift. The deal was, the gift giver had to pick something just for me and I had to make something for myself with it.

Well we finally made it there today and look what I got! Isn't she pretty.

It's Colinette Prism in the Florentina colorway. I can't get over how gorgeous the colors are in it. I immediately cast on wham bam thank you lamb to keep my neck nice and cozy. I'm on size 10 needles over 33 stitches and already have a few inches done. I'm madly in love with it and can't wait to wear it.

This morning, I took Boy to get a haircut from my wonderful friend Chloe. She is also a knitter so I had a few projects to show her (I will blog them later this week). We had such fun. Too bad that she missed this. She would have loved it as much as I do. Tomorrow night, my friend Laura is having a ladies night at her house that is totally knitter friendly. I hope I haven't finished this by then because I want everyone to be able to take a few stitches on it. I like doing that sometimes. Even a non-knitter can manage a few stitches with some coaching and I love the idea of other peoples hands being on a gift. Particularly if it is for someone special. Imagine a dad being able to button his baby up in a cardigan knowing that he had put a few stitches into it. It's funny that men seem much more into this than woman are. Regardless, I love doing it and it makes me happy so pooh on you if you don't want to play.

The timing couldn't be more perfect for this project because it is as cold as it could be here in the Y.O. today and it's not going to let up any time soon. The house is cozy and the cats are surprisingly into this project. Here's what it looks like when you try to take a picture of yarn with Heatherthecat helping out.

Tiny Cat is snuggled up with it on the couch right now so I must go rescue it (translated--I want to knit more on it).

Friday, January 9, 2009

Christmas Continues

Okay so I still have a few pieces of Christmas knitting that need to be finished. But the only one with a deadline was my gifts for my book club friends. This year, we'll be keeping everyone cozy and warm with my standard wrist warmers. I LOVE this pattern. I've made piles and piles of them. They go really quickly, you can work on them anywhere and everywhere--they're much more discreet than a big pieces of lace--and they keep your hands toasty.

These are all done in Lamb's Pride Worsted. There's a Raspberry pair, a White Frost pair, a Misty Blue pair, a Clematis pair and a Charcoal pair. The photo above is a little bit dark but the colors are really fun. I'm going to wrap them all up and let everyone grab bag for their color (trading is welcomed and encouraged).

I love my book club. There are only six of us and we have a wonderful time. Everyone in the group knew someone but no one knew everyone so it was a great way to meet new people and make new friends. The other upside is that we are sure to see each other once a month so the relationships are fun, easy going and unstressed by trying to schedule time to see each other. I truly love it and am grateful to have these amazing women in my life. We've had the occasional male visitor--a husband or friend stopping by--but we have a girls only policy. It sort of reminds me of my Mom and her friends playing Mah Johng when I was a kid. No guys around, no need to behave and lots of interesting conversation. It rocks. Especially when we argue (which we have been known to do).

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Waiting for the Snow

Snow is predicted here in the Y.O. and I'm sure it's going to be ugly. All the snow and ice that we've gotten in the past few weeks is proof to me that God is laughing at Yonkers. You see the day of the first big snow storm, the city laid off 42 public works employees. So fewer plowers, fewer sanders, you get the picture. It was mayhem!

At least I am home and have this fabulous box from Viki to play with. I had some lace weight she wanted, she had some alpaca that I wanted and she was kind enough to throw in some treats for me as well. Perfect toys for a cold night.

I'm going to play!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Jersey Gas

As much as I love being a New Yorker, I still can't get past the cheap thrill of Jersey gas. $1.45 per gallon! Can you believe it. I wished I had two cars to fill up.

Not a great picture but definitely worth posting. Do you see that? Do you? Do you have any idea how exciting that is to me? It's better than chocolate! It's better than getting a surprise party! Dare I say it, it's even better than Chardonnay!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Looking Back

I've spent the past few days looking back at 2008 and wondering what the hell went so terribly wrong. Possibly the hardest part about doing this has been accepting the roll that I played in creating my own miserable year.

So here are some of the things I think I did wrong. I'm releasing them to the universe in the hopes that whatever is out there will wisk them all away with the wind.

1. I put another person's needs before my own. Now I know that sometimes that is the right thing to do but not if there is no balance. I allowed my self to stay in a relationship where I was providing all of the emotional support and I wasn't receiving any in return. I thought that loving someone was enough and that things would work out. That was a mistake.

2. I didn't stand up for myself or demand what I needed. I let people in all the areas of my life run rough shod over me. I was naive to think that things would work out in the end and I should have fought back--for myself--more often. That was a mistake.

3. I should not have let all these hurts and slights build up inside me. I'm guessing that if had done a better job at numbers 1 and 2, this would be a moot point but, I have to live with it and try to do a better job in 2009. That was a mistake.

I am still considering making 2009 the year of the bitch but it's hard to be bitchy all the time when you're used to being nice.

Okay--I'm going to try to let all of this go for the time being and see how I feel tomorrow.

Now that I have that off my chest, I can show you some of the beauties I finished for Christmas.

Here's Bratty Girl's scarf and mitts. The mitts are the Mountain Colors Mitten Trio pattern and the scarf is the Streaming Leaves Lace Scarf. Picked up both patterns at Flying Fingers and love them both. The yarn is from Rhinebeck and just gorgeous.

Here's Blueberry's scarf and mittens. The mittens are from the same pattern as Bratty Girl's and the scarf is an adaptation of Rachel's snowman dish cloth. The scarf took FOREVER but was worth every minute of it.

I love them all!