Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Wee Bit of Knitting

With the garden finally winding down* I'm finally getting to knit a little more in the evening. I even had thought I might thread the warp that's been on my loom since, I don't know, March? I'm not really holding my breath.

I have the bright purple for the DoN baby sweater. I had planned on waiting to post a picture until I'd finished a full repeat, but I'm not going to. Wait, that is.

Baby Sweater

I did a swatch like the last one, but didn't bother to take a picture since I pretty much knew which way to go. I did ask Len whether he preferred the purple petals, or the blue. I could see the wheels in his mind turning, "do I tell her she's a damn fool for asking ME? or do I tell her I like the purple best?" He liked the purple best. He's nice that way.

Thank you, Valerie, for the very informative article. It seems the best way to set pokeberry dye is using a 56% solution of acetic acid. Which, according to my father, is used as a stop bath when developing pictures. Unfortunately, that bit of information doesn't make the stuff any easier to find. Yes, yes, chemical supply store, I know.

* Sort of. I was horrified to discover more flowers on the purple bean plants. Plants which looked dead before the frost.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Home #8

Soybean Field

One of my favorite things about both this part of the country and this time of year is the changing color of soybean fields. Overnight they seem to change from deep green to sunny yellow; eventually they will dry up and become a deep burnt orange.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Early Frost

We had our first frost on Saturday night. For those of you keeping track, and well, I am, that's a few days short of 4 months. We had some damage in the garden, but it was limited to the tops of plants.

Frost Damage - Beans

The green beans got hit the hardest. I've put up so many pounds of these by now, that if these plants don't produce another bean I won't be too sad.

Frost Damage - Cayenne

The cayenne pepper plants got hit hard, too. The peppers seem ok for the most part; I'm hoping they can hold on for awhile because I'd like them to turn red before picking.

Beefsteak Tomato

The tomatoes are fine, there was a little damage to the plants, but at this point those are pretty superfluous to the fruit's development.


The habeneros went crazy this year, the plants are massive and, thus, protected the fruit. Then again, can anything freeze a habenero?


There was some discussion on a gardening listserv I'm on about what kind of plant/weed this is. It turns out, it is a Pokeweed. Doesn't that name make you kind of happy? Further research reveals that both the berries and roots can be used for dye. The only problem I have with this particular plant is that it is in an inconvenient location, right next to the garden, where it is encroaching on some tomato plant, so it will have to go. If it comes up somewhere else next year, I'll be happy to let it live. If not, I can always make a necklace to remember it by!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Monday, September 17, 2007

Alpha Cook

The scene in our kitchen almost got ugly last night. Len really wanted a dish I make, orzo pilaf. He did not mean for me to make it, since I'd been in the kitchen all day canning tomatoes and pickles. I doubted his ability, it isn't that he is a bad cook, but he has his own ideas which are weird and sometimes scary. Also, his friend, Hal (one of the best cooks I know) was over. And. Well, let's just say that Len is usually on the losing side of their Trying to Drink Each Other Under the Table contests.

So I asked him if he was sure he didn't want me to make this thing.
Him: No, no, just tell me what to do.
Me: Chop up an onion. Now garlic. Now you saute the onion until soft, then add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, then you will add the orzo and saute until nicely brown.
Him: So I assume the onion just gets cooked in there somehow?
Me: Are you sure you don't want me to do this?
Him: Well, I guess that would mean Hal and I could check the grill and smoke.

Hello. My name is Lee and I am an alpha cook. I'd like to think I am not as bad as my sister, who's own daughter says, "she wants to do everything herself, then you have to tell her how good it is." I did let him chop the onion, after all. And he did fine.

Judy and Gwen

Judy and Gwen do not question my position in the kitchen. As long as I don't disturb their nap.

Friday, September 14, 2007

I was Wrong

I don't have five gallons of salsa, I've made only the slightly-more-reasonable-sounding four. Still. That's a lot.

Many Pints of Salsa

Tomato Sauce & Jalapenos

I took these pictures on my way out the door this morning. In the top picture are jars and jars of salsa, and a few of plain tomatoes. On the bottom are tomato sauce and jalapenos.

Pretty Tomatoes, All in a Row

I've been picking tomatoes before they are fully ripe and stashing them on the windows in our sun room. Tomatoes are better when they are fully vine ripened, but we're having some trouble with poorly supported plants as well as tomato hornworms (click on that only if you are prepared to be grossed out). I figure less than fabulous flavor is better than no tomato at all. Plus, they are pretty.

I've had some people landing on the blog using some interesting keyword combinations. If you've landed here looking for a "Queen Anne's Lace Shawl", sorry about that. If you find one, let me know, it sounds like it could be pretty (actually it sort of makes me think about designing one). My personal favorite was someone looking for "Extreme Sadistic Knitting". I don't know what to think about that -- a knitted whip? Or a deadly corset? I'm sure a needle could be used for something. It's a mystery.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Random Thursday

I've been working on something at work which is threatening to eat my brain, so while I have been working on some fun rants (and maybe a rave or two) I just can't summon the brain power to write much. So abbreviated versions will have to do.

1. On my way to work yesterday I was thinking about a "Things I Love" sort of post. I could only think of one item to put on it before my job started swallowing me: Eddie Izzard. I do love him so, in all of his 5'7", stubby, cross-dressing, ambiguous sexuality, massive jawlined glory. Then, lo and behold, The A.V. Club interviewed him a couple of days ago. The interview is fine, but the comments are a total scream. Highly recommended reading. (There is also a very good interview with the always delightful Alan Alda).

2. I made another batch of salsa last night. That brings us to. Five. Gallons. You read that right. Five gallons of salsa. I am so not making anymore!

3. The rabbits ate all of my pickling cucumbers. On the one hand, I'm glad not to have to deal with them, on the other hand those pickles picked up some passionate fans last year. So I went to the Farmer's Market and bought some cucumbers.


I'll pickle them this weekend. You're welcome.

4. I haven't been knitting much since I last posted about it (I guess it wasn't that long ago. While waiting for the bright purple, I've knitted this much:

Purple Cardigan

A top down raglan cardigan using Barbara Walker's system. The yarn is Butterfly Super 10 Mercerized Cotton in a lovely dusty purple. I have apparently entered a purple period.

5. I've been working on a rant about Locavores, but all I can really say is that if I had to live my life without Parmigiano Reggiano, what would be the point?

6. And last, but not least, I heard a terrible rumor the other day, which I can only hope is completely unfounded. It seems that Ann Arbor's venerated Village Corner, employer of misfits, purveyor of fine wine, frozen tv dinners, extension cords and index cards is to be torn down and replaced with a high rise. I'm starting to hate this place.

Now that I'm good and depressed, back to getting my brain sucked out through a straw. Wahoo.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Dad's New Toy

Dad's New Toy

My dad bought a 1963 Morgan a couple of weeks ago. So cute! It was pretty funny watching Len fold his six foot tall, 200 pound body into the little roadster. I am very fond of the belt (it buckles on the other side) which keeps the "bonnet" from blowing open at high speed. I also really like that the frame of the car is made out of wood and that even stubby armed me can put my hand out and touch the ground.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Why Swatch?

I rarely make a gauge swatch for a baby sweater. Babies change so much and so quickly, getting a correct size is a pretty dicey proposition. Especially is the baby in question hasn't been born yet. I figure if I have suitable yarn and needles, and I'm somewhere in the gauge ballpark, the sweater will fit the kid someday (but hopefully not in the dead of summer!)

Some friends of ours are having a baby in December and I want to knit something interesting for them (I'm pretty the baby won't care much). I've been wanting to knit a Dale of Norway sweater, so this seems as good an excuse as any. I settled on the cover sweater in Baby 175, and bought yarn -- light green (9013), lavender (5303) and blue (5726), to be specific. I knew I wanted the green for the background, but wasn't sure otherwise. So, a swatch:


As it turns out, I don't like either of the options. The colors are fine together, but the lavender doesn't pop as much as I'd like. So, I've ordered the bright purple (5135) and will do this again. I think I will use the lavender for the trim -- I want to make the little pants and won't have enough yarn unless I use the lavender.

So there you are. That's why swatch.

And is it just me, or does this strike anyone else as "1974 Vega Tennis Ball Green"? I can't seem to get away from it.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Obnoxious Flower Sweater

I haven't gotten much knitting done in the last few weeks, but I did finish the Obnoxious Flower Sweater.

Obnoxiously long sleeves

Sigh. Too big and floppy. And the sleeves are clearly for someone much longer limbed than I.

Too Long!

Nice pajama pants though!

Buttons helped the floppiness a little. But the sleeves? I took drastic measures. I did something that strikes fear into the hearts of even non-knitters.

I took a pair of scissors to them.

It's true. And I didn't think twice about it either. I took out the seam all the way to the armpit, cut the cuff off the first sleeve and started to unravel. Or at least I tried to -- it turns out, if you knit from the top down, unraveling from the bottom doesn't work very well (it works even less well if you are babysitting year old twins. Maybe that's just me.) Since I am not hurting for yarn, I cut the next sleeve much closer to where I wanted to start knitting down. I wanted to reknit most of the sleeves, rather than just chop it off and redo the cuff, because I needed to end up with the same number of stitches as originally planned.

Sleeve Remnant

I suppose I should have been more pissed off about having to reknit most of the sleeves, but I was much too tired. I might have been more freaked out about the cutting, but having plenty of yarn cushioned that blow.

Obnoxious Flower Sweater

Ugh. What an awful picture! But the sleeves are much better.

Len would like you to know that this sweater is, "1974 Chevy Vega Tennis Ball Green. Maybe a little brighter." He thinks someone will know what he is talking about, and despite my appreciation of lovely old cars, I don't. Besides there isn't anything lovely about a 1974 Vega (I believe the color he refers to is the third car).

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


In the last 10 days, I have:

* Cleaned three bathrooms (2 of which had hardly been touched in three, the third had been occupied by a 28 year old slacker with hair halfway down his back. We won't discuss the bathtub drain).

* Cleaned one very large kitchen. While I managed to miss out on cleaning the two refrigerators (some other very lucky person was stuck with that job), I did empty them of rotting food. And scrubbed the very difficult floor, it's very unevenly layed brick tiles. Dumbest floor ever.

* Cleaned our two small pieces of carpet.

* Washed all of our wood floors. Apparently, I was inspired by all of the cleaning product fumes.

* Made and canned 20 pints of salsa, 4 half-pints of tomato sauce and 4 quarts of tomatoes.

I need a day off. Or three.