28 November 2006

Made My Day

I'm practically counting the minutes until the end of the semester, and hoping I don't throttle anyone before I get there. All I want to do is curl up in a corner with my knitting, some chocolate, and a great big margarita.

But then today I received such a great package from Alvina in Singapore! Look! Even the package itself is cute:


There was so much great stuff in here that I can hardly fit it all in one picture:

Fun stuff for the kids, great Australian tie for Hubby, beautiful blouse and three (!) pairs of Alvina's earrings for me, lots of great snacks (I love the salad crackers!), and well, so much more. Doesn't the hat look cute on Thing 1? Doesn't Ruthie look impressed, too?

Many thanks, Alvina!!!

25 November 2006

Shopping Idea

So, like me, you're doing some of your holiday shopping online. I recommend that you check out the store at the Hunger Site. Why?
  • They have a really nice selection of things to please just about anyone on you list. I'm drooling over the Peruvian vitro glass jewelry, but there's lots and lots of other nice stuff.
  • They have yarn! Including banana fiber and recycled sari.
  • Their prices are very good.
  • They're having a special now: $1 shipping on all US orders. They ship internationally, too, for $9.95 per order.
  • For every purchase you make, food will be donated to the hungry (the site keeps track of how many cups)
  • Many of the goods offered for sale are fair-trade or the products of cooperative efforts
  • You can add to your shopping cart donations such as sending girls in Afghanistan to school ($20), stuffed bears for AIDS orphans in Africa ($15), or a feeding kit for infants in Niger ($20)

If world hunger isn't your cause of choice, you can order instead via one of their sister sites: The Breast Cancer Site, the Child Health Site, the Literacy Site, the Rainforest Site, and the Animal Rescue Site.

I ordered a bunch of stuff from them last year and was very pleased with the quick shipping.

Okay, commercial over.

Caught Red-Handed


Guess who was painting today.

22 November 2006

Onion Bread Recipe


Linda's Onion Bread
This is a family Thanksgiving tradition. Every year I make these to go with dinner and, even better, to make into sandwiches later with the leftovers. It's my Mom's recipe. I use a KitchenAid to mix and knead the dough. Sorry for the picture--I'm not much of a food stylist.
4 Tbsp dehydrated minced onions
4 Tbsp water
2 C hot milk
1/2 C hot water
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp sage
about 6 to 7 cups white flour
2 Tbsp dry yeast
Rehydrate onions in the 4 Tbsp of water. Set aside. Put all liquid ingredients in mixer. Add onions and seasonings. Add 4 1/2 C of flour. Add yeast. Knead. When all flour is mixed in, add more in 1/2 cup increments, letting flour knead in well each time. Dough is ready when it sticks together in a ball, "cleaning" the sides of the mixing bowl. Dough will still be somewhat sticky. Cover and let rise in warm place for 30 mins. Punch down, knead briefly, and then shape into 2 loaves or rolls of desired size (I usually get about 16 large rolls per batch). Place loaves into loaf pans or rolls onto cookie sheets. Let rise again for 3o mins. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375. Bake for about 45 minutes for loaves, about 25 to 30 minutes for rolls. Bread is done when top is light golden brown.

21 November 2006

Slow Boat from the Netherlands

Remember how a package recently took 3 months to get here from Singapore? Well, today's wonderful package took "only" a month or so to arrive from the Netherlands. Oddly, the package Myriam mailed me the day after this one arrived weeks ago. Apparently, the USPS is randomly routing some international packages via Purgatory. Anyway, look what I got!

If you can, click to enlarge so you can see the cute cute cute ghost that Myriam made, as well as the adorable bunny that arrived last month. That yarn is handspun near Myriam, and the licorice and gingerbread will not last long at all.

The pen isn't from Myriam. It's just the time of year when red pens are everywhere.

Here you can see the Things attempting to learn Dutch, and yes, Thing 1 has a new addition to her (sizable, thanks to you guys!) snowglobe collection.


Thank you so much Myriam!
Getting packages in the mail is one of my favorite things in the world, no matter how long they took to get here.

Sorta FO


This is the first block of the Lizard Ridge afghan.
I like the bumpy texture from the short rows, but it will actually be blocked flat eventually. Each block will be a different color of Kureyon. This afghan is, therefore, an excellent way to use some of my Kureyon stash while safely feeding my addiction to buying more. I've even joined the Kureyon Club at Yarniverse. I plan to do these blocks in between other projects, so it may take a long time before I truly have an FO.

20 November 2006

Monday ravings

  • I occasionally get cravings. They're always for something extremely specific, and never for something we actually have in the house (of course). But they're usually for something I could possibly obtain within, say, a 2 hour drive. Today, though, I have a hankering for a turkey burger from Burgerville. The nearest Burgerville is something like 600 miles away. Woe is me.
  • There is no end to the idiocy of academic administrators.
  • I got a surprise call today from a cousin whom I haven't spoken to in years, and whom I haven't seen since dinosaurs roamed the earth high school. He's visiting his inlaws a couple hours away, and may be able to visit. Wouldn't that be cool?
  • It's been grey here for the last several days. In my opinion, if it's going to be grey anyway, it might as well rain, but it hasn't.
  • Last night I engaged in a Thanksgiving tradition by making 2 batches of onion rolls. These rolls are great warm with butter on them, but they truly reach their potential when they're used for leftover turkey sandwiches. Mmmm. Anyone want the recipe? It's my Mom's.
  • We just bought our plane tickets to Orlando for our February trip to Disneyworld. $225 round-trip. Can't beat that.
  • A student complained to me today because he wasn't advised that when he took the exact same class at the community college and then from us, that the units wouldn't count. Of course, you'd think he might've noticed on his own that the class had the same name and content, but I guess not. And he still can't remember exactly which class it was, so he may be aiming for a third time.
  • I took Ruthie with me today to pick Thing 1 up from school. One child took a look at Ruth and asked me, "Is that a real dog?!?"
  • The other day I mentioned to Thing 2 that I'm a teacher. She started laughing. "You're not a teacher! You're a mommy!" I explained that a person can be both. She retorted, "But you can't be a teacher because teachers don't have bumpy hair. Teachers have straight hair." I guess none of her teachers have curls.

19 November 2006

Failed Photography

I have been trying to get a good picture of the Things for our holiday card. Here is today's failed attempt:



Thing 1 kept complaining that the sun hurt her eyes. When I pointed out that today it's gray out and no sun is visible, she claimed that the air hurt her eyes. Apparently, Thing 2 is impervious to sun and air.

It was much easier to get a shot of the Travelling Roses scarf Leanne sent me, and which Knatolee requested a picture of:


Leanne and Knat, you should meet someday. You're practically neighbors, and you're both nice, creative people with interesting jobs.

15 November 2006

Caps to the Capital


I've finished up these three itsy bitsy hats for Caps to the Capital. It takes about an hour and a half or so of slow knitting to make one. The top left is from leftover Kool-Aid dyed yarn, top right was the leftover Lion and Lamb, and bottom is a bit of Lorna's Bullfrogs and Butterflies.

14 November 2006

Warm Thoughts

It's a routine, gray Tuesday. Work is stressful. I haven't been getting enough sleep. I have too much to do and not enough time to do it. Physical therapy's not helping my hand. But I can smile because today I am wearing my Travelling Roses scarf from Leanne. It's red. It's beautiful. And I keep thinking about how Leanne made it for me as she journeyed through Switzerland, South Africa, and Mozambique, and then back to Canada. :-)

13 November 2006

Nice weekend

Yesterday, some friends and I attended a calendar-making workshop in San Francisco. It was sunny in the city, and it's so nice to drive in on a Sunday when traffic is light. The workshop was in the Bernal Heights neighborhood, a comfrotable, family neghborhood, far from the tourist places. As we turned onto Cortland Avenue, a homeless man came flying down the long, steep hill on a shopping cart, a huge grin on his face. At the top of the hill, a yuppie-looking couple craned their necks to watch his descent.

Right near the community center where the workshop was to be held, there are cute little shops and lots of familes with kids in strollers and dogs on leashes. I saw no children over age 5, though. I wonder where they go? Do their parents keep them locked indoors? Do families move someplace else when their children reach school age? Do all the older kids in San Francisco magically sleep in on Sundays? Anyway, we had a delicious brunch at the Liberty Cafe.

The workshop lasted 6 hours, and even so, I didn't quite get my calendar finished. I still need to cut out the pages with the dates and assemble the whole thing. Other people made calendars that were much fancier and more artistic than mine, but still, I'm pleased with my results. Mine has a travel theme. Here's the front and back covers, and some of the internal pages:



I like the process a lot (although many handwashings and a shower later, I'm still picking medium off of my hands). I'm tempted to make more, time permitting. In any case, it was a wonderful, relaxing day with friends.

After the workshop we had dinner down the street at Moki's Sushi and Pacific Grill. Mmmm. And then I made record time on the drive home, and it didn't rain until I was in bed. What a great day!

And, in case there was any question that Thing 1 is my offspring, here's an unposed shot I got this weekend. Note the size of the stack of books :-)

09 November 2006

Slow Boat from China

Several months ago, I arranged a swap with Liz in Singapore via Gimmeyourstuff. She got my package, but I never received hers. I'd given up. But guess what arrived today, three months later?:


That's a pile of kids' books in Chinese and English, candy from Singapore, beads, and delicious-smelling chocolate drink packets from Spain. Wonderful! And the timing is actually good--I've had a rough week, and I'm ready to starting mainlining chocolate. Thank you, Lizzy!

Thing 1 is my ever-present, ever-willing model. It was coldish out today. Poor kid was freezing in her gymnastics leotard. Notice the new front teeth on their way in?

Here's my latest FO:

This teeny-tiny little hat is made from the remains of my Lion & Lamb, and it's going to Caps to the Capital. I'll be making a few more, and I hope you all do, too. Even for a slow knitter with carpal tunnel syndrome, it takes only a couple hours, and it uses a tiny bit of stash yarn. After the hats are made, I'll be knitting five things for the Dulaan Project. I can't feel guilty about using my hand if it's for a good cause, right?

07 November 2006

This and That

  • Thanks for all the nice comments on Solresol, folks! I'm so glad to know I'm wasn't completely crazy when I thought it was a really cool idea. I'd love to see your finished bags, too. Incidentally, I got the inspiration when I read the book Banvard's Folly. I can heartily recommend the book to fans of the eccentric and esoteric. There's a whole chapter on Solresol. And Gail has posted my pattern on the Island of Misfit Patterns. Thanks, Gail!
  • I voted via absentee ballot. The ballot was so long it required extra postage. Don't you wish that once you voted you got some special code that allowed you to skip political commercials and phone calls? Not that it's not fun to see which celebrity will call you next. We scored Clint Eastwood this week. And that secret code? That should work for NPR--once you give them your money, no more having to listen to Begging for Money Week.
  • The new AntiCraft is up.
  • I finally have a new FO. It's Bombshell from Big Girl Knits. It's knitted in scrumptious Lion & Lamb in a wonderful "Here I Am!" red (technically, the color name is Bold Red, but that's kinda boring), and it's a perfect weight for Fall in the Central Valley--where it's in the low 80's right now but will be in the low 40's by tomorrow night. It's not blocked yet, but here it is:

04 November 2006

Rejected Pattern

I just posted my Solresol pattern, which is the brilliant pattern I submitted to Knitty, and had rejected. Well, maybe only I think it's brilliant. But anyway, here it is. It takes only a few hours to knit up, so makes a good last-minute gift, I think.

Solresol

In the 19th century, Jean Fran├žois Sudre invented a universal language called Solresol. Each word in this language is composed of a combination of some of the seven notes of the musical scale (do, re, mi, etc.). People can have a conversation by playing instruments or humming at each other. But that’s not all. Each of the seven notes is also represented by one of the seven colors of the rainbow, so you can communicate in Solresol via a sequence of colors.

The felted items in this project contain a message in Solresol. The vase (on the left, and which could also be used to hold knitting needles) says dore milasi domi, which means “I love you.” And the bag, which could be used as a purse but is perfect to hold small knitting projects such as socks, reads laresolmi mimifaso. That translates to “string everywhere.”

Of course, you can substitute other messages instead. There is a short on-line dictionary and grammar of Solresol available at http://www.ptialaska.net/~srice/solresol/intro.htm. The color equivalents of each note are as follows: do = red, re = orange, mi = yellow, fa = green, sol = blue, la = indigo, si = violet.

Just remember that you’ll be knitting the project from the bottom up, so you’ll need to knit your colors in reverse order. I’ve separated each word with two rows of black (which shows up better than white, and felts better as well). Where two colors appear next to each other, as they do in mimifaso, knit the stripe double-wide.

This project knits up quickly and makes a great gift. Just include a little card explaining your secret message to your recipient.

SIZE
One

FINISHED MEASUREMENTS
Before felting:
Height 11 inches
Base diameter 5 inches
After felting:
Height 7 inches
Base diameter 3.5 inches

MATERIALS
Note: 1 skein of each color will give you enough yarn to make several vases or bags.
[MC] Cascade Pastaza [50% llama/ 50% wool; 132 yd per 100g skein]; Color: 008 (black)
[CC1] Cascade 220 [100% wool; 220 yd per 100g skein]; Color: 9404 (red)
[CC2] Cascade 220 [100% wool; 220ydper 100g skein]; Color: 7824 (orange)
[CC3] Cascade 220 [100% wool; 220ydper 100g skein]; Color: 7828 (yellow)
[CC4] Cascade 220 [100% wool; 220ydper 100g skein]; Color: 7813 (green)
[CC5] Cascade 220 [100% wool; 220ydper 100g skein]; Color: 8887 (blue)
[CC6] Cascade 220 [100% wool; 220ydper 100g skein]; Color: 8393(indigo)
[CC7] Cascade 220 [100% wool; 220ydper 100g skein]; Color: 9345 (violet)

1 set US #09/5.5mm double-point needles

stitch marker
tapestry needle
clean, empty 16 ounce jar (optional)

GAUGE
Gauge is not important for this project.

PATTERN NOTES
The vase and the bag are worked the same until the last row. If you want a vase, simply bind off all stitches in the last row. If you want a bag, you will turn the last four stitches into an I-cord.

I’ve used Cascade 220 in this project, but you can use any feltable worsted-weight yarn, as long as it comes in the seven basic colors. I used Cascade Pastaza, a somewhat bulkier yarn, for the bottom and black stripes here because it gives the base a little more heft.

Color instructions below are for the “I love you” vase. Adjust the colors if you wish to change the message. If your message is longer than 7 colors, you may want to change the number of rows you knit in each color, so that your finished project has approximately 60 rows on the side.

4-st I-cord: Knit 4 onto a second double-point needle. [Slide all 4 sts to other end of needle. With yarn in back (it will be at the left side of the work) and RS facing, knit across, pulling first stitch taut so as the create a closed tube.] Repeat to desired length.


PATTERN
Using MC, CO 9 sts. Divide sts. evenly between 3 needles and join, being careful not to twist. Place marker at beginning of round.

Bottom
Row 1: k all sts
Row 2: [k1fb] 9 times
Rows 3-5: k all sts
Row 6: [k1fb] 18 times
Rows 7-12: k all sts
Row 13: [k1fb] 36 times
Rows 14-15: k all sts
Row 16: [k6 k2tog] 9 times

Sides
Rows 1-8: using CC3, k all sts
Rows 9-16: using CC1, k all sts
Rows 17-18: using MC, k all sts
Rows 19-26: using CC7, k all sts
Rows 27-34: using CC6, k all sts
Rows 35-42: using CC3, k all sts
Rows 43-44: using MC, k all sts
Rows 45-52: using CC2, k all sts
Rows 53-60: using CC1, k all sts

For vase, BO all sts.
For bag, BO 59 sts, put remaining 4 sts onto 1 needle. Work 4-st I-cord for 48”, or to about one-third longer than your desired finished length. BO all sts, and cut yarn, leaving a 12” end.

FINISHING
If you have made the bag, sew the free end of the I-cord onto the opposite edge of the bag, forming a strap.

Weave in all ends well.

Felt the piece: Place the piece in a zippered pillow protector (this is to keep fuzz out of your washing machine). Place in a top loading washing machine with a tiny amount of liquid detergent. To assist the felting process, also place a couple of pairs of jeans or old towels into the washer. Set the water temperature on hot and the water level on medium. Turn on the washing machine. When the machine begins agitating, stop the process every few minutes and check the progress of your felting; continue until the project has shrunk considerably and you can no longer see stitch definition. On my machine, this took about 15 minutes, but yours may vary.

Remove project from zippered bag and blot some of the excess water with towels. To block the piece into shape, you may wish to place a clean 16 ounce jar inside the piece. The jar ought to fit a bit snugly. Allow to dry thoroughly; depending on temperature and humidity, this may take a day or two.

If you wish to use your piece as a vase, keep the jar inside to hold water and to provide extra stability to the sides.

[This pattern is copyrighted by dephal. Please feel free to make copies for your own use, but you may not make commercial use of this pattern without my permission.]

03 November 2006

Politics




You Are 4% Republican



If you have anything in common with the Republican party, it's by sheer chance.

You're a staunch liberal, and nothing is going to change that!



The 4%? Well, I couldn't dis soccer moms because, technically, I am one.




You Are 84% Democrat



You are a card carrying Democrat, and a pretty far left one at that!

There's no chance anyone would ever mistake you for a Republican.



Why only 84%? No Hilary for President for me.

01 November 2006

Monkey and Monster


Here's the gang last night, all ready for trick-or-treating. I wish I could say I was one of those creative moms who whips up clever costumes for her kids, but life is just a bit too much right now for costume-making. These came striaght from Old Navy and Target. Still, I love the monkey getup. Notice the banana. :-)

The Things made a good haul, and we ran out of candy to hand out and had to resort to raiding Thing 2's pumpkin for all the gum (which she doesn't chew anyway) to appease the last of trick-or-treaters. It's also possible that a chocolate item or two may have ended up in a parent's hands. After all, we do have to safety check the candy, right?