Friday, August 25, 2006

My Needles Fell on Some Yarn...

...And this came out:
I have to say, I pleased as punch with this little hat. Len's sister had twins a couple of weeks ago (a girl and a boy), so this is for the girl (Madelyn Mae).

I made it out of the yarn left over from Waving Laces, Louet Gems Pearl (Aqua). 96 stitches on #2 needles, picot hem, and an eyelet pattern from Barbara Walker's A Treasury of Knitting Patterns. Seriously. I'm in love with this hat!

I'll be using some leftover yarn for the boy's (Max) hat as well. The Harley riding, tatooed father has requested a pom-pom. Obviously I have to make a pom-pom.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Girl Shoes

Danger! Those are 3.5" heels!
How about with Waving Laces?
Much more comfortable!

I know you had doubts about the severity of my dorkiness. Now you know.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Tomato Sludge

The cucumbers are finally fading away and the tomatoes are starting to ripen. So far just the little Sweet 100s and Yellow Pears are making a showing in significant numbers. Tomato Sludge (roasted tomatoes) is one of my favorite things to do with them:
Cut the tomatoes in half, throw in some unpeeled garlic cloves and herbs (rosemary and thyme in this case), sprinkle with salt, pepper and coat with olive oil. Throw it in a very low oven (200-250 degrees) for 5 or 6 hours, stirring every so often. It's done when the tomatoes have carmelized a bit.
Pop the garlic out of it's skin, pick out the twiggy parts of the herbs and you have the most divine essence of tomato. Spread the garlic on bread, pile on some tomatoes and eat. Fling it over pasta (trust me, your carnivore boyfriend won't complain). I plan to throw this in some risotto next time I make it (maybe tomorrow). Stand over the oven and eat it with a spoon. I swear, this is god's own food.

Media Consumption

It seems I haven't posted about books since June. Even though I've been so busy with the garden and falling into bed exhausted, I really have gotten some reading done!

I have long since finished Assassination Vacation. And Partly Cloudy Patriot. And Take the Cannoli. Hello. My name is Lee. I'm addicted to Sarah Vowell. Who could help it? She's funny, she's macabre, and she is a complete dork. A history dork at that, who should be writing history textbooks. Who else will tell you that Garfield (or was it McKinley?) was such a bookworm that it was hard to tear him away from his books for official events and in an commencement address, he told a graduating University class that he was very sorry that their years in school were because now they wouldn't have time to read?! Or that Chester Arthur (bet you don't remember him) pushed through legislation he thoroughly disagreed with as a tribute to Garfield (civil service reform)? I had to write a report about Chester when I was in 7th grade and have a soft spot for him ever since, even if he was a bit on the corrupt side.

Partly Cloudy and Cannoli are both essay collections. The Partly Cloudy essays were written after 9/11 and is sad, angry, defiant and funny. It's very much worth reading, especially if you are a proud liberal and sick of being told how unpatriotic you are. Cannoli is much lighter fare; the title essay refers to her obsession with the Godfather movies when she was in college.

Then I couldn't find Radio On, Vowell's first book, in town (well. ok, I could, but it was at Border's and I have very mixed feelings about Border's, and a month or so ago I decided I couldn't go there anymore and.. never mind, it's a long story of dashed childhood expectations). So I've been reading Molly Ivins' Who Let the Dogs In (I bought it at Nicola's, if you must know), a collection of columns dating back to the Reagan era. It is very sad to read her describe how much the income gap grew during the Reagan and Bush I years and know how much worse it will get under Bush II. She continues to be optimistic that this country can work it's way back from this disaster of an administration. I'm less sure every day.

Will you hate me if I stop listening to the news?

In music: Sonic Youth's Rather Ripped is a stunner of an album. It's gorgeous, edgy punk at it's beautiful best. Sonic Youth was always one of those bands who I just didn't really get, the way I don't get David Bowie or Steely Dan. They don't suck, I'm just not smart enough to understand what they're doing. Rather Ripped is an album of songs. That I get.

On DVD: Len and I have acquired an severe addiction to Trailer Park Boys. It's a Canadian mockumentary about the shenanigans of Ricky and Julian as they engage in semi-legitimate business between jail terms. Um. Yeah. That show is so wrong on so many levels. It makes me very happy to know that our neighbors to the north have red necks, too.

"Dope dope dopity dope dope" to you, too!

Thursday, August 17, 2006


I know everyone was desperate to know what happened to my first garden harvest. Ok, maybe you weren't.
This picture shows many harvests of cucumbers. Along with the kosher-style dills (of varying, and increasing, garlic strengths) there are sweet and dill relishes and two small jars of roasted jalapenos (now that was a tedious job!)

I am sick to death of cucumbers.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

My Yarn

Here is my contribution to the kool-aid dyeing party. The colors here aren't even close: the purple is less muddy and green is a bright lime. The color combination is gorgeous, but I can't take credit. When I signed up for the knitting listserv, KnitTalk, one of the first messages I read was from someone who had used purple and green kool-aid. As I recall, she dyed the yarn while it was in a ball, purple on one side and green on the other and she hoped where the colors met in the middle would be brownish. Cool idea. She said it worked out, except that trying to skein a wet ball of yarn was Not Fun. What I did with the yarn was even more idiotic. I had two balls of DK merino (what brand you ask? Um. Debbie Bliss? Jaeger? Rowan? Something like that). I wanted to dye them both at the same time. I wanted a long skein. Do you see how this train is headed to Crazy Town? I held two strands of the yarn together and made myself a skein on the warping board, which made a figure eight. Or an infinity sign. The warping board was the lesser of the two evils. What I should have asked myself when holding those two strands together was, "how, pray tell, will you get them apart, as, inevitably you must?" I did not ask that question until it was much too late. Then there were tears, sweat, recriminations. It was bad. Len was patience personified.

Other than that really dumb decision, the dyeing went off with only a couple of hitches. I used four or five packets of each color (grape and lime) in 1/2
cup of water and I used squirt bottles to get it directly onto the yarn. The yarn sucked it up really fast: when I squeezed the yarn to make sure the dye was getting all the way in, the liquid came out clear. Once I was done, I microwaved it for 4 minutes (2 minute increments). I ended up having to add more dye later because of white spots, but I think I'm close enough to full coverage now (there are some lighter spaces, but it seems to be mostly shading).

These will probably be socks. After I finish the Kool-Aid Socks, of course. Yes, really, "of course".

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

More with the Kool-Aid

You would think dyeing with kool-aid with an 11 year old and a 4 year old would elicit cries of "I want to drink it!", followed by red and orange children. But no, my sister apparently raised her children to believe that kool-aid is repulsive (good for her!) and, aside from black fingers and red and orange knees, they remained dye-free. I didn't really need to bother with smocks for them -- I'm smart enough to remember the smocks, but not gloves.

I got a big hank of that New Zealand Wool Pak (10 ply if you're counting) and divided into four roughly equal hanks. That turned out to be a really good decision, since we had too many colors to use in one shot (we were just grabbing them off the shelf at Meijer), and they had two canvasses to play with. They used pink lemonade, Magic Cherry (which is teal), tropical punch, something blue, grape, lemon lime, and Mandarina Tangerina. They did not use the Black Cherry after I said I thought it looked like blood (Cierra, the 4 year old responded that she does not drink blood. Thanks for clearing that up. 'Cos I wondered).
Here is a close(r) up of Cierra's yarn. Her first one is on the right and is half orange and half pink and blue. The second one, left, started out with a lot of colors, then she covered it in grape. Go figure. I actually really like how that one turned out.
Here are Imani's. Her first one is on the left. She was very glad to have another chance, since she doesn't like it that much (she tried to make it colorful, but the orange sort of took over and made everything muddy). The second one is much more to her liking, and I can't wait to see it knitted up. I think for the muddy one, we'll cook up a very strong batch of orange and try to brighten it up.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Foul Morning

So, I woke up this morning to discover that not only did moderate(ish) Schwarz lose against that wingnut Walberg, he lost by a lot. According to (the website under which many Michigan Newspapers live), "The former church pastor vowed to vote against pork-laden spending plans and tax increases while maintaining a firm line against the expansion of abortion and gay marriage." 'Cos you know, those abortionists and gays are running amok in Jackson County.


This was before I got out of bed. At which point I discovered Judy had ripped apart another knitting bag (the one I failed to shove in a closet). Gwen, who has much higher standards of neatness than either Len or I, was crouching on the pile of the dirty clothes Len left in the living room last night. While Len deserved for those clothes to be peed on, my carpet did not, so I had to do something I avoid like the plague: touch Len's dirty laundry. You have no idea how disgusting his dirty clothes are.

Let me mention here: all before coffee. Just sayin'. Pre-caffinated, pre-allergy pill me is not pretty. Not at all.

Wah wah wah. Poor me. But seriously? I'm going to be represented in the U.S. House of Representatives by a fucking asshat. Right now I'd really rather worry about dirty laundry of the sweaty kind.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


I couldn't be more thrilled with how the Kool-Aid sock is turning out. It seems to be coming up with it's own, weird, psychedelic effect. A good amount of this was accomplished on Sunday while at the Yarn Harlot's reading and book signing. Many have sung the praises of the Harlot, and indeed, she is wonderful. But I have to give props to two unsung heros: my friend Stef's husband, who rolled up my car windows so I wouldn't have to drive home in a flooded car. And my darling Len. When I returned from my knitterly fun, I discovered that he had (in the heat and the humidity) weeded a bunch of my flower garden and made me a mix cd. This cd included a song by the John Spencer Blues Explosion (if you are at work, turn your computer's sound off) that doesn't make me want to put someone's eyes out, which took some serious thinking on Len's part.

By the way, the Ann Arbor District Public Library filmed the event and will be broadcasting it on Ann Arbor's Community TV. Keep an eye on the AADL-TV website for the air date. If you're in Ann Arbor. If not, go to Toronto.

On to other things, before I start digressing into my "going to Canda" stories. No one wants to read those.
And here we have another Faye sample* (you can see the first sample here, scroll down). This is really different from that first piece. The diamonds are much bigger in this one, which is really interesting to me because there are fewer purl stitches between the stockinette columns in this one; the major difference seems to be where the first crossing happens. In the first sample, it happens immediately (which involved some faking to get two stockinette stitches to cross). In this one, I started leaning the stockinette lines towards each other to get the architectural effect that I like so much in the original. I don't like, however, how big the diamonds are, so I will try decreasing the number of purls between the columns from 6 to 4 and see how that goes. I have a few more ideas to play with if that doesn't work.

I wouldn't mind trying to accomplish the gathered effect of the original. I think this may be a simple matter of increasing in the bottom half of each diamond and decreasing in the top half. Maybe?

*These aren't really swatches, in that I'm really only playing around with the smocking pattern. Unless I fall head over heels for the yarn and gauge. Then, I guess it is a swatch.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Despite being cute as the dickens, Judy has a couple of major flaws. One* of them is that she has been a terrible influence on Simon and Gwen. If I left yarn out on a table, they might have found it irresistible, but mostly they left my bags (and bags, etc.) of knitting alone. Not Judy. Judy gets into everything, and drags Simon and Gwen into the fun. Now that all yarn has been put away, they have started in on the sad, lonely warp which has been sitting on my loom for months, waiting to be threaded and wound on.
Messy and very tempting.

Worse than not being threaded at all, this warp has been sleyed and partially threaded for months. I couldn't even stick it in a closet to avoid the guilt.
I spent most of Saturday finishing the threading, and winding the warp onto the loom.

This should be a little more difficult for the cats to destroy, but I won't put it past them. If I don't go into some sort of cleaning frenzy this weekend (ha!), I should get this tied onto the front and discover where all of the threading errors are. At which time, I will be pounding my head and gnashing my teeth.
My little bundle of nerouses, Gwen, supervised. I need to vacuum the bed again.

* Judy's other big flaw is that she doesn't like us that much. There is nothing quite so disheartening as approaching a kitten you've had for 8 months and her shrinking from your touch. Seriously. You'd think we abuse her, but she won't let us that close. She loves Gwen and Simon, though. So that's something.