Sunday, December 23, 2007

And the snow theme continues....


Blowing snow
No, I don't know why part of the building is wrapped in plastic, but it's been that way for several weeks.

snow drift

Even though we got about 6 inches of snow overnight, you can see grass sticking up where it's blown off. In the picture above, the very "snowy" part is a drift, about knee high. All day, I kept saying I'd go outside and get a good picture -- that drift runs a lot farther and gets deeper.

However, since the high today was about 15ºF, with 30 mile an hour sustained winds (not just gusts), the wind-chill was below zero. Taking pictures didn't seem like a good reason to go out!

I also considered walking over to the drug store (the grocery store is closed on Sundays) to buy the candy I needed for the recipes I mentioned yesterday -- but that also seemed foolish!

I've got some sort of cold-like bug that's been going around at work, so I slept a good part of the morning, and then spent this afternoon working on Honeybee and catching up on last season's episodes of Lost.

Tomorrow is supposed to be better weather-wise, so I hope to be able to dig my car out of that drift, load Harley into the car, and get to Mom's by noon.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Another Snowy Saturday

There's been bad weather for the last four weekends. Even the natives are talking about how bad this December has been, weather-wise. Today, we started out with pea-soup fog. This was actually a continuation of yesterday's fog. The good news is that it got up to 40ºF today (although I forgot to take a picture of a thermometer -- probably because the only one I could actually see through the fog was the one inside my car!). The bad news is that we're supposed to get snow and wind tonight, with 'blizzard-like' conditions tomorrow. I had planned on driving to Mom's tomorrow, but may stay home and bake cookies instead! (Thanks to Libby for those ideas -- and be sure to check out her variation on the chocolate cookies!)

I ventured out into the fog this morning to Hobby Lobby -- not my favorite place, but I needed to busy some relatively cheap yarn to use in teaching my 11-year-old niece to knit. All of their Christmas stuff was 50% off, too, so I stocked up on bags. I didn't like any of their needles, though, so went by the Knitting Shoppe (no web site), where this just happened to follow me home. I believe it wants to be Wisp.

Kidsilk Spray 568 (Tea Rose)

It's Kidsilk Spray in 568 Tea Rose. The color is more subtle than this flashy picture shows -- almost neutral, but with lots of color hiding inside. Edyie's just begun carrying Rowan yarn -- I may be spending more money there now!

Of course, none of this will happen until Honeybee gets done!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Where have I been?

Well, it's that time of year -- busy!

It snowed all day on Saturday. It wasn't a blizzard, just a nice steady snow that made it a good day to stay inside and bake. From the back windows of my townhouse, I can see the front door of the grocery store across the street. Midway through the morning, I heard the ding-ding-ding of the Salvation Army bellringer turn into thumping Conga drums. I could see a guy playing them and tried to take a picture, but even with the zoom, mostly you see snow and cars. But see his red hat and can you make out the red kettle next to him? I kept thinking I should put on my boots and walk across to take a better picture.....

Conga players in the snow

Instead, I stayed inside and baked two batches of Carrot Coconut Bread (the second one turned out just fine) and finished my niece's Christmas hat. Here it is on my head -- it's hard to take a picture of your own head!

Sarah's hat on my head

If you use this pattern, watch your row gauge. Mine was way off, which meant I had to stop making cables sooner than planned. The yarn is Blue Sky Alpacas Bulky Hand Dyes in Peace Pink. I'm not a spinner, so I don't know the technical terms, but this yarn has little to no twist -- it's almost like roving or something. It was nice to knit with, and the color is beautiful, except that it's SO bulky. My hands are used to little needles and lace and socks, and knitting this with size 10.5 DPNs was not really fun. Of course, your mileage may vary.....

Sunday, the weather cleared up, and gave me the opportunity to record the temperature.

Sunday, Dec. 16, 2007
23ºF (-5ºC) doesn't seem very cold anymore....

Monday evening, the baking disasters continued. I made this cranberry cake, on my sister's recommendation. She warned me that turning it out was difficult, because the cranberries stick. Boy, was she right! When I first tried to turn it out, it didn't move. I poked around the edges some more, turned it over, shook -- and it fell out in about 11 pieces. If I had just been planning on serving this at home, no big deal -- I would have scooped it into bowls and maybe put some ice cream on top. But this was for our holiday luncheon at work, so I got out the ingredients again, and made another one. I made the second one in a pretty glass baking pan, and didn't try to turn it out! (The first one tasted just as good as the second one, though! One of the comments on the recipe suggests lining the pan with parchment, which I will do next time.)

Tonight, I blocked Mom's Hemlock Ring Blanket, which I finished in October.

Harley helping, part 1

Harley helped. Can you see what she's after?

Harley helping, part 2

Yes, that's a blocking pin in her mouth! I want to leave it out overnight, but will cover it up so she doesn't try pin-nibbling again!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Public Service Announcement

If you decide to make Carrot Coconut Bread, be sure to include the sugar. Don't ask me how I know...

The sugarless version isn't awful, but it tastes like the kind of thing that would be labeled healthy, and of which the baker would say proudly, "There's no added sugar!" And you would just nod and say "oh!!! Great!"

Sunday, December 09, 2007

1/2 FO

I finished the first half of Honeybee this afternoon. Here it is, draped over the red chair. Of course, the color was bad because it was dark (it seems like it's always dark right now) and, well, the chair is red.... I think this half is close to four feet long.

Half a Honeybee

I managed to remove the provisional cast-on and get those 125 stitches onto my needles. I've knit the first two rows going the other way. The join is not perfect but everything lines up pretty well. I may actually finish this on time!

I meant to post this picture of the beginning of my niece's hat yesterday, too. I've done a couple more rounds since, but I really like this silly picture, so this is what you get to see tonight!

Sarah's hat

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Saturday Stuff

I failed miserably at Saturday Sky, but maybe Saturday Temp will become a regular feature.

It was cold this morning.

Last Saturday around 8:15 it was 20º. Today at just before 9:00 it was 14º.


It warmed up in the afternoon -- when I went by the same sign around 3:00, it was 15º!

While I was out this morning I stopped by Crazy Girl to buy some size 10.5 DPNs to use in making this hat for my niece. And some yarn just happened to come home with me.

Three skeins of Cascade Pastaza for a Ryan's Hat for me.

Cascade Pastaza

And a BIG skein (8 oz/325 yards) of High Prairie Fibers Big Horn, in Evergreen. This yarn was hand-painted for Crazy Girl (says so on the label!).

High Prairie Big Horn
The greens are a little bluer in person.

I've been working on Honeybee and will have pictures next time. I also cast on for my niece's hat. Extra bulky yarn (Blue Sky Alpaca Bulky Hand Dyed) and size 10.5 needles supposedly means fast knitting, but each stitch seems to take me longer. However, there aren't as many stitches, so I guess it works on in the end!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Did you miss me?

It's been four days since my last post. I've thought about posting every day, but it seemed like such a luxury not to!

I spent a lot of the weekend knitting. We had an ice storm Saturday morning, and it seemed smart to stay indoors. Here's the Beehive section (bottom) and the Bee and Honeycomb section (top) of Honeybee. (That's a lifeline between the sections.)

Sorry for the blurry...

The Bee and Honeycomb section is amazing -- the bees are made through a series of dropped yarnovers, gathered up. Mine don't look as perfect as Anne's, but I think blocking will help. And the Honeycomb is cool, too -- I'll try to get a picture of it later.

I did go out around 8:30 Saturday morning, to mail my rent check. It had just begun to sleet then, so I walked over to the little shopping center on the other side of the pond and mailed it from there, instead of driving to the post office.

It was pretty cold.


And the pond was already frozen.


Now we have piles of what appears to be snow in parking lots and on street corners. However, it's really ice and in places, the sidewalks are a treacherous combination of slick and bumpy. I never even noticed that the sidewalk that I use to cut through from my complex to the street is on a hill, until I started to walk down it yesterday after work. It looked like Mt. Everest (downhill, that is)! Today, on the advice of a co-worker, I bought a pair of Yaktrax. I'll let you know how they work out.

comfy kitty
Harley thinks she'll just stay indoors!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Oh, Lifeline!?!

I like knitting lace. That's probably obvious. But I also like lifelines. I usually put one in about every ten rows. But for some reason, that hasn't seemed necessary with Honeybee. I was about 110 rows in when I realized I hadn't put one in at all! I immediately corrected that.... and immediately forgot about it again. At row 217 (well into the second section, the Bee Swarm), I realized that a stitch had dropped down several rows, during which little trip it had separated into it's previously "K2tog" two stitches. Well, I got out my handy crochet hook, and worked it back together and up. I'm not absolutely sure I got it back perfectly, but it's close enough that, in Honeybee's current unblocked state, I cant't find it again.

And I tried to photograph all this, but really, the whole thing pretty much resembles, in Rabbitch's words, boiled ass, so it was really hard to even see the dropped stitches!

I'm trying to decide whether I should move that lifeline.....

In other news -- the first winter storm of the season is supposed to be heading this way. Since I had planned on staying in tomorrow to put up Christmas decorations, make bourbon balls, and maybe cook up some Italian Beef in the crockpot, this shouldn't affect my plans. Unless.... they're predicting more ice than snow here and the last ice storm caused massive power outages. I'm thinking positive thoughts!

Actually, if this storm doesn't appear, I may have to go out tomorrow and invest in a space heater. My downstairs living room is pretty chilly. I've had a couple people recommend EdenPure heaters, and they do sound amazing, but they're a little more (okay, quite a bit more) than I had planned on spending. And even the smaller one claims to heat 300 square feet, which seems like a bit of overkill. Any suggestions?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I love Christmas!

It's always popular to be cynical about Christmas, to bemoan the commerciality of it all, but I love Christmas. Although I don't want to sound judgmental, I think Christmas is only as commercial as you make it and that it's important to focus on the real reason for Christmas. It's a religious holiday, and many of the traditions -- including gift-giving -- stem from those religious roots. Remember the Three Kings?

I've never felt pressured to buy expensive gifts for people or anything like that. I am a big gift-giver, but the majority of my gifts are baked goods or homemade fudge (or bourbon balls!). I love decorating my tree and my house, and making Christmas cards. I'm always sorry when January comes and I have to put it all away.

So, anyway, I liked this little quiz, although my house is decorated with more than a few special items!

What The Holidays Mean to You

For you, the holidays are about celebration. You enjoy all the fun and fellowship that the holidays bring.

You celebrate the holidays in a minimalist style. You are likely to only give one great present and decorate your house with a few special items.

During the holidays, you feel magical. You love all of the decorations and how happy people are. You like to sit back and take it all in.

You think the holidays should be nostalgic and sweet. The holidays bring out your inner child.

Your best holiday memories are of childhood foods and traditions. You secretly still wish you believed in Santa Claus.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Close Up

Since I am one of the world's slowest knitters, Honeybee is slow-going. But it is going and by the end of the weekend, I hope to have some significant progress to show you. In the meantime....

Jenkins needles

These are the Jenkins Woodworking Bolivian rosewood needles (US size 5) that I ordered especially for this project. Are they gorgeous? And so pointy!

stitch marker

This is one of a set of 21 stitch markers I picked up at Needleworks. I have no idea who made them -- they were just on the accessories rack with all the Clover stuff, although I don't think they're Clover (but did I save the package???). I believe the entire set cost $12. Twenty look like this one, and one has a little pearl instead of the pink/purple "jewel."


And this is the Beehive section of Honeybee, up close. I've got half of one repeat (10 more rows) to go before I move onto the Bee Swarm section.


Harley's good at helping.....

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


I almost forgot to post tonight! The end is so near.....

I had planned on posting this on the last day of NoBloBlahNaNeeMo, but I think I'll do it tonight instead.

What has posting every day taught me? Well, first of all, it's hard to do! And I really don't have enough to say to post every single day. I have a little list of things I thought I might post about, and I didn't use most of them. I really need to be at least semi-inspired to post. I also don't like to be told what to do (even by myself!), and this daily blogging has sometimes felt pretty obligatory.

On the other hand, I do think I'll survive the month, and I think I'll be a more regular blogger in the future. I had gotten pretty lax and was posting maybe every 5 days. Beginning December 1, I'll try to post 3 times a week. Hopefully, I'll have enough knitting to keep y'all interested that often. I'm also going to try to be better about replying to comments.

Thanks to those of you who kept reading even the boring stuff, and especially to Chris, who, I think, commented on every single post! I know she reads lots of blogs -- she's probably been busier trying to keep up with comments than she would have been posting every day!

Monday, November 26, 2007

More on the Ear Flap Hat

I know, I know -- y'all are thinking "why is she obsessing over ear flap hats, when she has to finish the Honeybee Stole and she mentioned something about a pink hat for her niece?" Well, of COURSE I'm obsessed with something else, since I have deadline knitting to do!

Thanks for the suggestions. When I pulled out Last-Minute Knitted Gifts to look at the hat Mary suggested, I also pulled out Weekend Knitting, where I found the hat that I think I vaguely remembered, the Almost-Famous Luggy Bonnet (Ravelry info here). I love the heart motif and all the little stripes and even the crochet edging, but, weirdly, it's knit flat! So -- I'm going to use the motif and stripes and apply them to one of the other patterns. And I think I'm going to try to use Cascade 220 from my stash, which, of course, isn't quite the right gauge.

But I cannot do this yet! Must work on Honeybee.....

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ear Flap Hats

I have a sudden, unreasonable urge to make a multi-colored (Fair Isle?) ear flap hat -- for myself! Apparently, last Wednesday's snow affected my psyche, since I've always though ear flap hats were pretty dorky!

Has anyone seen a good pattern? I've looked at these from IK, and like the first one best, although I'd have to use girlier colors.

Any other suggestions?

Good stuff!

As I mentioned yesterday, I visited two yarn shops on Saturday. My plan was to buy only things I couldn't easily get at my local yarn shops.

I had been to Needleworks in Champaign before, and was very impressed with their selection and the friendliness of the staff. They were really busy this time, which is a good thing! I concentrated on sock yarn this visit.

Shibui Sock yarn (7498)

Shibui Sock Yarn (Superwash Merino) in lovely shades of olive green named 7498

Claudia Hand Painted Fingering Weight (Butter Pecan)

Claudia Hand Painted Fingering Weight (Superwash Merino) in Butter Pecan

I also picked up a couple more row counters, some Knit Klips, a bag of Clover needle coils (which I love for holding circs together when they're in my bag), and a little bottle of Soak in the Flora scent. Yarn Barn in San Antonio had a great accessories wall, which I didn't appreciate until I moved!

After meeting my cousin for lunch and a trip to Hobby Lobby, where we looked at garland and mirrors and boxes, I went to Klose Knit in Urbana. Klose Knit reminded me of Hill Country Weavers in Austin, mostly, I guess, because it's located in an old house, although it's much smaller than HCW. They have a nice selection of yarns, ranging from fairly standard (Rowan) to less common. I went for a couple skeins of the less common.

Blue Sky Alpaca Bulky (1018)

Blue Sky Alpacas Bulky (50% alpaca, 50% wool) in pale pink (1018)
This is going to be a hat, probably for my niece.

Mango Moon Viscoe (Venus)

Mango Moon 100% Viscose in Venus
This is gorgeous (and was on sale for 30% off!) but I have not idea what I'll do with it.

I also bought a set of size 1 ChiaoGoo needles and the Holiday Gifts issue of IK, which seems to be sold out everywhere else.

I'll definitely visit both of these yarn shops again!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Drive-by Post

Apparently, my day was too exciting, because I'm exhausted! I went to Champaign today, where I had lunch with my cousin, went with him to Hobby Lobby, where I gave advice on home decor, and then went to two yarnshops. I bought pretty stuff at each stop -- details tomorrow....

(And, Helen - I promise, next time I'm in C-U, I'll let you know!)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Festival of Trees

This afternoon, we went to the Festival of Trees, where we saw

Pretty trees
Festival of Trees 2007

Scary trees
Festival of Trees 2007

Trees decorated in pink
Festival of Trees 2007

Trees attired in dresses
Festival of Trees 2007

Trees sprouting fountains of decorations from the top
Festival of Trees 2007

Orange and blue Illini trees
Festival of Trees 2007

Trees wearing rubber duckies
Festival of Trees 2007

And men in kilts!
Festival of Trees 2007

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

My dad was one of 9 kids. When I was a kid, the whole family -- 18 aunts/uncles, 29 cousins, and ever increasing numbers of cousins' spouses and kids -- would gather in an uncle's basement for Thanksgiving. Nowadays, we're much more far-flung, and many fewer attend. It seems every year, though, someone we haven't seen in a while reappears, but that's okay -- it makes us realize we're all family and no matter what, we'll always be there for each other.

I hope y'all got to spend today with people you love.

Thanksgiving 2007

Thanksgiving 2007

Thanksgiving 2007

Thanksgiving 2007

Thanksgiving 2007

Thanksgiving 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


We got our first snow today, six months and one day after I moved to Iowa. I'm glad I got those mittens finished!

snowy backyard

This is my backyard, well-lit by the parking lot lights across the street. The reflections are on the little lake, which isn't frozen yet.

And here's my Texas car, probably wondering what happened to the nice cozy garage it used to live in!

snowy car

I suspect that my Minnesota friends will be more excited about this than I am....

* My grandmother was 100% German -- her mother had come to America as a teenager, as had both of her father's parents. However, her parents were determined that their children would not be "foreign," so German wasn't spoken at home. As a result, Grandma only knew a few words, and the two I remember learning from her were kartoffel (potato) and schnee (snow). Both of these words came in handy when I lived in Germany!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Oooh! Pretty!!!!

The mailman brought pretty things both yesterday and today.

Yesterday, he brought DPN holders from 3 Owls Knitting, on Etsy. These are the kind of holders that have two end caps, connected by a stretchy plastic cord. I've bought these from her before and love them -- she'll customize them for the length of DPNs you prefer. (Apparently, not everyone uses 6 inch DPNs. Who knew???)

Magic Number DPN holder

The little 1 bead tells me these are US 1 needles. The other holder is for size 2s.

Oh, yeah -- that is a new sock hanging from the DPNs. It's Charlene Schurch's Baby Cable Rib from Sensational Knitted Socks. (Here's the Ravelry pattern link.) You may recognize the Hand Jive Nature's Palette Fingering Weight in Indian Paintbrush. I can't let myself be distracted by it, though -- must work on Honeybee!!!

And today, the mailman brought the yarn my co-worker and I ordered from Elann. I was impressed -- I ordered it last Thursday night! Here's mine:

Baby Silk

Two skeins each of three different colors of Peruvian Baby Silk. Two of them will be used for the Endpaper Mitts. The pink and green are about right in the picture. The dark yarn is a deep greenish brown. I knew I wanted the light green for the mitts, but I couldn't decide if the second color should be light or dark, so I ordered one of each. I'm leaning towards the pink, mostly because it's just so pink!

Oh -- and, wow! This is the only electronic reading device that I've ever even considered buying....

Monday, November 19, 2007

NaBloPoMo Meme

Amy tagged my for this NaBloPoMo meme, which means one less day that I have to think of something original to say.

The rules:
  • Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
  • Share 7 random and or weird things about yourself.
  • Tag 7 random people participating in NaBloPoMo at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
  • Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog
Now, I've done some variation of this meme before, so I'm pretty sure that, if you have a good memory, you'll see some of the same weirdnesses as before.

1. Chopping onions makes my eyes water so badly that I can’t see at all. Even just peeling and roughly chopping one into small enough chunks to throw into the food processor makes me go blind from the tears. Although I’ve always been sensitive to onions, it’s gotten worse in the last few years.

2. I can’t go down (or up) a flight of stairs without imagining myself falling. This is particularly annoying now that I live in a 3-story townhouse.

3. This is my favorite “big kitchen spoon.” It was my favorite before it broke, and continues to be. (Ask my sister if you don’t believe me!)
My favorite spoon

4. Although I really like a skim latte with half the usual amount of hazelnut syrup, I drink regular coffee black. Even if it's bad coffee.

5. Corn field mazes terrify me. When I was a little kid, I was repeatedly warned about walking into fields with corn above my head – little children could be permanently lost in a corn field.

6. I enjoy doing laundry.

7. Although my parents both loved fresh tomatoes and ate them at every chance (Dad put sugar on his), I don’t like them. I like them chopped up really finely in salsa, and in sauce, and in ketchup – I just don’t like big hunks or slices of raw tomato. It's mostly a texture thing, with a bit of acid sensitivity thrown in. And neither do my sister or brother.

I think Amy tagged all of the NaMoSoToBloFo-whatever members, I know, so, if you need blog fodder, consider yourself tagged.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Look! Knitting!

10 rows of Beehive section

That's the first 5 repeats (100 rows total) of the Beehive Section of the Honeybee Stole. There's another 5 repeats of this, then 58 rows of the Bee Swarm Section and 66 rows of the Bee and Honeycomb Section (a.k.a. the Scary Section). Then it's finished off with a 16 row edging. Then, turn it around, remove the provisional cast-on, and do it all over again.

Will I get it done by Christmas? Ummmm....... maybe.....

On Tuesday, it will be 6 months since I arrived in Iowa City. Because my ca. 1984 fridge's freezer has a dire warning printed on the inside of the door about what will happen if you don't defrost at least every 6 months, I got that done today. I actually began the prep at least a week ago, by beginning to use up as much stuff as possible from the freezer. Here's it is, frost-free:


As you can see, there's not too much perishable there. That round, bucket-like object next to the ice bucket is the container for my ice-cream maker, ready in case I have a sudden urge. And the two ziplocs behind the orange mug (again, ready in case I have a sudden urge) contain shrimp frozen in water. I was most worried about them, but I put everything in an ice chest and put it on the balcony, where it was maybe 40 degrees. The shrimp was frozen solid three hours later when I reloaded the freezer! I have vowed, though, not to wait 6 months again.....

I did discover a handy implement in ice removal:


It's Pampered Chef's Handy Scraper. It worked great for dislodging ice and picking up said ice from the floor of the freezer.

Tomorrow -- soup!!!

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Two Objects were Finished today. First, thanks to my brother, the previously-discussed programmable thermostat was installed. He apparently tired of my incessant questions about installing it -- I really can do things like this myself, but I worried a lot about doing something that would cause my heat not to work at all -- so he drove over this weekend to take care of it for me.


I have to do a little touch-up painting, since the new thermostat isn't the same size as the old one, but I actually have a can of (matching) wall paint, so I'll get to that tomorrow.

The other finished object is the second Bus Stop Mitten.

Bus Stop Mittens

When I went back to the thumb of the second mitten, I realized that I had screwed up the gusset increases. This part of the mitten was done while I was listening to some speakers Thursday afternoon, and apparently I wasn't paying enough attention to the mitten! I didn't twist the M1 increases. Not a single one. So I have rather attractive little holes up the sides of the thumb. Attractive, but not warm. So I sort of whip stitched them shut from the inside. Not so pretty, but fine for now. I have enough yarn that I could make a third mitten, if I decide I can't stand it.

Now I have to concentrate on the Honeybee Stole. I counted today, and realized that this section (20 repeats of 10 rows, done twice since this stole is knitted from the center to the end) is much longer than the other sections. That's good -- this section is interesting but not difficult. The other sections look much more interesting.... and maybe difficult....

So tonight I'll work on the Honeybee while I watch this weekend's Netflix -- Easy Rider and The Queen (yes, I do have eclectic taste!).