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.