Friday, December 25, 2009

Plum Pudding (Merry Christmas)

I tried plum pudding for the first time today. It just hasn't appealed to me in the past, but we picked up a small pudding at a British imports shop in Plymouth last month, on impulse.

We will be having it again. And it will be homemade. I had no idea it would be so good! Lovely blue flames and all...not to mention a good dose of real heavy cream from a local dairy...I adored it.

Merry Christmas, everyone. I hope you had a joyous day.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Pattern: Superwash Potholders

Here's the pattern for the potholders shown in my previous post.


Trekking fach (color 1802)*
Cascade 220 Superwash in forest green

No. 6 straight needles (American size)
Size G crochet hook

Stitch pattern (linen stitch):

Row 1 [RS]: (sl 1 wyib) *K1, sl 1 wyif*, end K1
Row 2 [WS]: (sl 1 wyib) K1, P1, *sl 1 wyib, P1*, end K1

Knit 79 rows in pattern. Bind off on WS in knit stitch.

Cut off working yarn and fasten off. (Leave at least 9" of yarn to work crocheted loop.)

At same corner as last BO stitch, work a chain of 20 loops. Fasten off. Weave in all loose ends.

These can be washed in cold water in the washer, but should be allowed to drip-dry.

*The Trekking sock yarn is a light DK weight, and the Cascade a light worsted, if you wish to substitute. I did not take a gauge measurement (and the ones I made are now wrapped up for the recipient) but the finished pieces are slightly larger than commercial potholders. I hate getting burns!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Final Knitted Gifts

All done! And it's December 23. Not bad, especially considering that some of these were rather last-minute ideas.

Here's the set I made for our friend Chris. The mitts are his Christmas present, and the hat is for his birthday...the poor guy's birthday is December 26.

These are the potholders I made for our neighbor. I think they'll serve very well. I'm thinking about making some more for myself, but in red (my kitchen is red and white).

Here's a close-up of the texture. I used linen stitch, so they're quite dense. This would make a good hot pad, too.

It took about two days to make them. Boring knitting, but I like the end result.

An early Merry Christmas, everyone!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

White Christmas?

It's possible, according to the weather forecast. At least I'm in the Northeast now, where a storm doesn't instill real panic. Though in RI there is the most peculiar run on milk and bread. What, you couldn't go a few days without? Ah, well. (Mind,I'm not saying this is a bad idea if you have kids, but adults should be just fine with water for a few days.)

We have most of the food for Christmas dinner and for brunch that day. We bought real popcorn at the farmer's market. Home cured bacon. A pannetone for French toast. Our Christmas cards and the last package went out today.

I finished the last gift today. It's ready to be blocked. Pictures soon.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Ta Da! (Or, finshed.)

Yes, it's true. Not only are they knitted, blocked, and dried, they have been shipped out. Not to sea, but their final destinations. One to my MiL in Michigan, one to my sister in Texas.

These socks are made of Cascade Fixation, and the pattern is just an openwork rib on the ankle. Piece-of-cake knitting, but pretty.

This neckwarmer is made from a pattern in "Knit Two Together", and it's very fast. I used some stash yarn, a blend of baby alpaca, silk, and cashmere. MiL is allergic to wool.

I made myself one a few years ago, from Lorna's Laces in silk & merino, and I still wear it a lot. Lace in a circle, can't go wrong with it.

As for local Christmas knitting, I'm moving right along again. The second mitt is done except for the thumb. It will likely be finished today or tonight, and I'll cast on for the hat, too.

After that, I want to put a stocking top on a sock that looks great, but isn't the right gauge for DH; it's going to become a kitty Christmas stocking. One more thing, too. I would like to knit some potholders for our neighbor across the street. She just lost her mother, who was a grand old dame. They've been good neighbors, and last year Mrs. Brown (her mother) gave me a dishtowel with a crocheted top. J wasn't able to get to her usual craft shows this year, due to the funeral, and family in town. She likes lots of color, so I'm going to dig up some crazy colorway sockyarn and do it in linen stitch. Those will be fun.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Three and Four Are Blocking

(To any non knitters out there, I apologize for the post title. The knitters understand, especially at this time of the year.)

The socks for my sister are done, washed, and in the process of blocking.

I decided that the mittens for MiL were not working out. I don't think they'll be warm enough, etc. BUT they would be good liners. So they're a start to next year's gift. I have some chocolate brown alpaca that will go well with the fawn colored silk/alpaca on the go. I'll make heavy mittens with a lace motif on the back of the hand and tack the two together.

With that in mind, I made MiL's gift this afternoon! It's a lace cowl. The pattern is out of Knit Two Together, the book that Tracy Ullman put out a few years ago. It's exquisitely simple; just a feather & fan pattern in the round. Very forgiving as to type and amount of yarn, to boot. I made one for myself a few years ago from some Lorna's Laces in merino & silk. The cowl I made today is in an alpaca/silk/cashmere blend and it's very soft & warm. She'll love it. It's washed & blocking right now, too.

Pictures soon. When they're all dry...provided I remember to take photos before I wrap them up!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Gift No. 2

These are fingerless mitts for one of my nephews in Michigan. He's about 12, so I decided if they fit me, they should fit him (though they might be a little bit long).

I used Mission Superwash & one other superwash, and Nos. 5, 6, & 7 needles.

My sister's socks are moving right along; I'll probably finish & block them today...I hope!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

So much for not knitting presents...

This is the first. I made it for my FiL. The original pattern is from the Lion Brand website, but I changed the decreases & went from two colors to one. The embroidery was also my idea.

You can't see inside, but I added a snap so that the glasses won't slip out.

It was a very quick knit. I finished it in one evening, while watching movies. It took two days to dry (stuffed with three plastic grocery bags).

I will probably make more of these. The end result is good; better than the photo, I think.

My sister's socks are still OTN, but I've just finished the gusset on #2. MiL's mittens are more than 1/2 done. With luck and persistance I'll have everything finished by Monday, I hope. Oh, I also made a pair of striped fingerless mitts for one of my nephews in MI. I'll put up a photo shortly.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Christmas Tree 2009

The tree topper is new. I bought it today, as I couldn't find my angel without digging through all the stored decorations.

Here are some close-ups of the other ornaments:

I'm not much of a photographer. One of these days I will finally manage to get the flash to stay off. Much of the detail has been washed out, but it gives you some idea of how my idea paid off.

It was quite a bit of work, but worthwhile. I like it!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Quest for a Cat-Safe Christmas Tree

I've been lucky with my pets. Until now.

Than Chai (you remember him, Destructo, The Wonder Kitty?) was a little too fond of trying to climb the tree last year. We locked it into the guest room, but this year there's no room, as it now contains a bed.

So I was mourning the lack of a tree this year, in advance, while paging through a book on Christmas cookies and had a flash of genius. Or hope, or something like that.

What about a tree with ornaments no more breakable & valuable than a cookie? Mind, I haven't gotten to baking the cookies yet (though the dough is chilling even now in the Monitor Top), but over the past week I have done the following:

*gilded walnuts
*made snowflakes from silver doilies
*collected large pine cones, sprayed them w/white paint & added glitter
*studded tangerines with cloves and hung them with ribbon
*bought candy canes

I am going to take a chance with my angel. Only his head is breakable, and the boys haven't tried to climb the tree once. Fa Sing does reach up and ring the bells. I hung lots of bells on the tree to set up an alarm system. It works pretty well, except when the heat sets them off.

Today the Victorian tin icicles arrived from The Vermont Country Store, and they're on as well.

When I have the cookies in place, I'll take some pictures and post them. Probably before next Christmas, but don't place any bets. It's safer that way.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Menu 2009

It's going to be slightly untraditional this year. DH does not like turkey, and I found a duck at a local market...ergo, duck will be the main course this year.

Since it's duck (does anyone make duck gravy?) I will be roasting vegetables in some of the duck fat: yellow turnip, yellow and orange carrots, yellow onions (do I sense a theme here?) and a few other things, I suppose. I am going to put some chicken stock in the roasting pan, and the duck will be stuffed with an orange, some cranberries, and an onion. I'll use the pan drippings to make a glaze, adding apple marmalade and port.

I also want to make a mushroom gratin. It's very rich. I saute crimini mushrooms in olive oil & butter, with thyme. Deglaze with white wine, and the result is piled into a gratin dish with cream and Parmesan cheese and baked. It's lush.

For something a little less decadent, we'll have green beans almondine, and I might make some kind of cranberry relish.

We'll have a light red wine, and homemade apple pie (already in the freezer). We have some gorgeous eggnog from a local dairy, and whiskey and cognac to add, if we wish. (I'll wish. DH probably won't.)

Also on a foodie note, someone on the jury (I am presently serving on a grand jury) asked for my recipe for chicken pot pie! I'll be writing that out for him tonight.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Crime Bake 2009

Nearly time to go!

I'll be bringing my manuscript with me, though I have not signed up for a critique...I hope that this will give me the push to get back into working regularly (that is, a kick in the posterier to make me act like an adult with a proper work ethic).

This is going to be fabulous. I have been wanting to attend a mystery conference for many years. Twenty at least!

If I remember to bring the camera pictures will make an appearance after I return.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Proof of Socks

I've been making socks still. The knee high cream boucle socks are on my feet right now.

Jimmy's Regia Silk socks are here:

He hates the pointy toes. :-D So his next pair (cream and gray boucle with a Fair Isle band) will have round toes.

Here are the openwork ribbing socks I made a few weeks ago:

Unfortunately, the flash washed out the details. Still, here's some proof!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pumpkin Soup

Yesterday I baked: orange flavored sugar cookies cut out as pumpkins and decorated with orange icing. I also made the maple spice cake. It looks great. (We'll see how it tastes on Saturday. Living dangerously...)

Tonight I made pumpkin soup and pepper-Parmesan cheese spread (just 8 ounces of cream cheese, about a cup of grated Parmesan, a few dashes of Tabasco, and a spoonful of light cream. Freshly ground black pepper to taste).

Pumpkin Soup

3 tbl. olive oil
1 tbl. butter
~2 tbl. flour
2 cans pureed pumpkin
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, scraped and chopped
4 small garlic cloves, chopped
4 c. chicken stock
2 c. beef stock
2 c. white wine
1 qt. milk
1 c. grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbl. lemon juice

For seasoning to taste: Tabasco, Worcester sauce, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper

Prepare the vegetables and saute in the butter and oil until the carrots are almost tender; sprinkle the flour over and stir frequently for several minutes. Pour in the wine slowly, stirring as you do so.

Next, whisk in the stocks. When the soup begins to warm, pour in the milk slowly. Blend again. Add the Parmesan.

Simmer until beginning to bubble at edges, up to an hour over very low heat. Puree (in a blender or with an immersion blender).

Add the lemon juice, and taste for seasoning. You will need quite a bit of salt and Tabasco. If it is still a too sweet, try a few dashes of balsamic vinegar.

Serve very hot, with toasted pumpkin seeds.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Halloween is on its way

So...we're having another Halloween party. Smaller than last year's. In fact, on request. A friend whom we met last December will be having guests next week: her brother and his girlfriend, from France. They're unfamiliar with American Halloween celebrations, and she (the friend) has heard about our parties, and....

I told her we'd have a small gathering. There will be eight or ten all together, and instead of chili this year, we'll be having pumpkin soup. I still have to come up with the recipe, but it will probably be a kind of bisque, very smooth. (I'm going to buy an immersion blender, finally, so as to be able to make this and not deal with cleaning the blender and pureeing hot soup that way.)

There are gingerbread bat sandwich cookies in the freezer--filled with ginger and chocolate, and frosted with more chocolate--and I will be making orange flavored sugar cookies cut out in pumpkin shapes and decorated with an orange icing. The pumpkin bread is already made, and I'm going to make gingerbread or maple spice cake or some other similar thing. I found a recipe for maple spice cake in a 1938 issue of McCall's. It's like gingerbread, but with maple syrup in place of molasses.

Then cheese, raw veggies, and the other usual suspects. We are serving red or white wine and sparkling water.

I'll be wearing (probably) the "daytime" pin-up witch costume from last year, provided that (a) I can find the dress and (b) the damn thing still fits! (I really should stop eating my own baked goods, it's dangerous. Dancing once a week doesn't cut it these days.)

Does anyone else have plans for Halloween? It's on a Saturday this year!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mom!

My mother is a terrific person and parent. She taught us independence, caring for others and how to survive. She's intelligent, well-read, interesting to talk with, and I thank God that my sister and I have her.

My father died when we were very small: I was about two, and my sister was six months old. Somehow my mother picked up all the pieces and never dropped them. (And she didn't have an easy time as a child; her father died when she was seven. Her mother was orphaned at 15 and raised her younger brother and sister.)

But we keep going, all of us. And my mother did it without bitterness or "why me?" or any other kind of self-pity. We had food to eat, a roof over our heads, and even some luxuries now and again.

Happy birthday, Mom. I love you very much.

Friday, October 09, 2009

President Obama...and the Nobel Peace Prize

There's still "Hope" as far as I am concerned.

Socks and more

The knitting continues! Now I have two more new pairs of socks. The second is from a UFO I began in January.

Yesterday I started a pair of gloves from "Holiday Knits"; the Vintage Gloves made of an alpaca/silk blend. We'll see how they go. I had to start them 4x, and then the gauge was off, and...we'll see. It's a good learning experience all the same, I've become too accustomed to knitting with wool. In addition, these are the first complete (ie, not fingerless) gloves I've attempted. If they come out as I hope, they'll probably go to my MiL for Christmas.

We're also re-financing the house. It has appreciated considerably in value, too; we had an appraisal as part of the process...the market value is now 2x what we offered for it last year. Our hard work is paying off. (Now if my job search would do the same. To date I've had a whole 3.5 hours of work since March 6.)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Knitting and apples

I've got lots of both.

We went apple picking last Saturday (on the most perfect fall day imaginable) and got half a bushel of apples. I have made four apple pies, 12 4 oz. jars of apple marmalade, and an apple bourbon cake. (Not to mention the apples we've eaten out of hand and the pork chops smothered in apples, red cabbage and carmelized onions). We still have about 12 apples left.

I also made DH a pair of socks from some Regia Silk color yarn. Within a week, no less, and have finished one of a pair for me, made from some wonderful cone yarn we bought the year I began to knit. It's ivory slub (wool) around a nylon core. I've made a few other pairs of socks, as well as a two piece 30s dress from the stuff. It's pretty and rustic, and it wears like iron. (I also have some in gray and in plum.)

It's good to be knitting again. And this particular yarn is inspirational. It looks so warm (because it is) and I'm thinking that a cabled cardigan in this stuff would be wonderful. Maybe on size 4 (American) needles. The socks I'm making right now are on size 2 needles. The gauge is great for socks.

(But I still wish I could find the Missing Yarn!)

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

A Yarn Conspiracy

Now that I've fixated on a particular sweater pattern, needless to say I can't find the yarn I want. Not all of it, anyway.

I've been through most of the stash and it's hiding from me.

And though I have a ROOM full of yarn (really, I do) nothing else will do. Of course it won't. (If you think otherwise, you're not a knitter.)

Sunday, September 06, 2009

A New Sweater, and Antiques

I really want to knit that sweater. I took a good look at the pattern, and it's probably going to take sport weight, which is pretty good. I've got leftover shetland yarn from a 1920s project I made a few years ago. I might want to buy one or two more skeins of shetland, but otherwise I think I'm set. I hope Fresh Purls has some in; last time I looked I didn't see any.

Now, as for the "antiques" part of this post...I've just signed up for a booth at a local antiques mall. Not just any antiques mall, either. RI Antiques Mall, which is rapidly building itself an excellent reputation. I'm to open on October 1st, and I've got a corner booth, downstairs. It's a good location.

I already have some stock about ready to go: vintage clothes, shoes, hats and books, as well as a bit of kitchen things and furniture. In addition, I'm going to keep a look-out for 60s items, as "Mad Men" is so popular; I want to set up a corner that I'll devote to trends in vintage, so to speak. (I do like the show. I've only seen Season One, but I thought it was great. I think I'm going to borrow it on DVD if I can to catch up and maybe start watching it on AMC.)

Anyone in the area got requests for stock?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The Socks are Finished

Hold your applause.

I knit two different cuffs. Both are twisted ribbing, but one is K1, P3, and the other is K2, P2. Argh!

And I'm keeping them that way. A lesson, and all that. Apparently I knit the first one and then lost the detailed notes, so I took a quick look at the first sock and went on my merry way. I usually knit K2, P2, you see.

Oh, well. I did get back to my oversized Cozy (from Knitty) and am now back on track with that.

The project I'm thinking of starting is a sweater from a British hardcover on knitting, from the 30s, I think. It's garter stitch, in thin stripes. The sort of thing you knit to use up odd balls. I've been thinking about this particular sweater for quite a while, so it'll happen eventually. And it's a very simple knit; as it's garter stitch, not much shaping is necessary.

The pattern is in The Pictoral Guide to Modern Home Knitting, edited by Catherine Franks, A.R.C.A. No copyrite date, but my guess is late 30s.

Maybe I'll cast on for it some time this week (but don't make book on that).

Monday, August 24, 2009

Art Deco Diva does What?

"Knits", she sighed.

Except that she doesn't. Hasn't much recently. I was in a fine knitting frenzy in the winter and early spring. In March I made two pairs of socks for myself and started a pair for DH. Finally finished his socks in early May, cast on for a pair for myself (to be taken to the PawSox Stitch 'n Pitch)...and I will probably finish them this week. There are about 10 rows left (and have been since late last week).

You would think that an otherwise unemployed Hausfrau/writer would seize the opportunity, wouldn't you? Oddly, this state of mine has the effect of making me feel guilty for "wasting" time knitting. If I'm not doing housework or writing, I'm being bad, get it? (I never said it made sense.)

I did go so far as to put the lightweight lace wrap I started in February in the knitting bag where the white socks are living. Because God forbid I should run out of things to knit...even if I'm not knitting.

An analyst could have a lot of fun with this!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Taste of Summer

I think most people associate foods with seasons even now, with foodstuffs being shipped world-wide.

Three of my favorite summer fruits have actually been available this year, though not in any great quantities. A few weeks ago DH found me an apricot that tasted like an apricot and was not mushy (I've never had one from a store that was not, which is why I generally restrict myself to dried apricots); I saw red currants in the market (which go into my favorite tart in lemon sauce); and yesterday I bought a whole quart of sour cherries!

Sour cherries seem to be more rare than hen's teeth these days. I haven't seen them in the markets in yesterday I grabbed the ones I saw, and today we'll be having sour cherry crumble for dessert.

I don't use a "recipe" per se; I pit them and strain out the juice, which I cook down with a few squeezes of lemon juice and simple syrup, mix the cherries with brown sugar, lemon zest, almond extract & vanilla extract, and dot them with butter; pour the cooked down juice over the top, and add the following topping:

a crumble topping of butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, flour, and oats.

Bake at 325 F for 20 to 40 minutes depending on the amount you're making...let cool and serve with ice cream or whipped cream or as is.

Leftovers tomorrow for breakfast!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

July 2008 to August 2009

July 2008:

August 2009:

Click on the second picture for detail; the first won't enlarge, I'm afraid. The light isn't the best on the new photo (I took it after 6:00 p.m.) but the garden is really beginning to look lovely.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Murder Hunt

No, Big Brother, you can go elsewhere. My murders are fictional. I'm not hunting for real victims, I'm in search of ideas.

The hunt for good ideas is never-ending. I have all kinds of rough general ideas. Fleshing them out into something that a reader will like--and believe--is something else again.

Today I've been searching through the archives of the NY Times. (I think they could use a better search engine, but it's still a wonderful source.) Arsenic was a common cause of poisoning in the 20s and 30s, partly because it was so prevalent in pesticides sold over the counter. That's something I already knew, thanks to our huge collection of vintage magazines and the collection of mystery books cluttering up my house, but it is drawn from real life happenings.

How-to is something else. I start writing, and my characters want to ramble on, but I have to give them something reasonably intelligent to say, or I'm just wasting time and cyber ink.

Working on this has confirmed my appreciation of Helene Hanff's writings. In one she talks about her difficulty with play writing, saying, "I specialized in plotless charm." and she also mentions that for the most part, she had little appreciation for non-fiction. (It's not "I was there", as she put it.)

I like fiction. Not the "best sellers", as a rule, but I love mysteries and authors like Jane Austen and E.M. Forster.

I only hope that the idea of me coming up with a viable plot and characters doesn't fall under the heading of "fiction" too.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Finally: evidence!

This unlovely mess is a section of the upstairs bath at Before.

(wait for it....)

These are After.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

It's a Mystery

I do a lot of reading. More specifically, I read--no, devour--mysteries. It's a long standing habit, begun in childhood, when my mother got us a subscription to a Nancy Drew book club. From there I moved on to Trixie Beldon and other YA series, taking in an occasional Agatha Christie, though at the time I couldn't appreciate the subtleties she worked into her books.

As a younger adult I read a few mysteries, but the bulk of my fiction reading fell under the fantasy/science fiction banner, and in the past ten years or so it's swung back to mysteries.

My favorites are either real golden age authors: Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham, et al, or modern works whose authors set the scene in an earlier time, 1920s and 30s for preference.

Throughout all of this I've thought about writing one. It happens to most people who do a lot of reading, especially those who field the "you should write one, you read so many you must know how!" comments. I've been hearing a lot of those comments in the past few years from my husband, who has had to put up with stacks of books on the staircase, next to the bed, on the dining room table and even next to the bathtub.

As of last week, count me in as a would-be author of a mystery novel. It really has begun. So far there have been hours that fly...when my last memory is of noon, and I look at the lower right hand corner of the laptop to find that it's suddenly 4:36, and days when half an hour produces no more than four tortured sentences.

I have a setting, main characters, a time period and some gimmicks that aren't, I hope, too cozy. What I need now is persistence, a cohesive plot, and a better plot to crash the publishing industry.

The Bouchercon will be held in Indianapolis, IN this year. I don't know if I'll be able to attend (I think it might come into conflict with the RBS weekend of this year), but if I can I'll absorb all I can in order to do this thing properly.

It's no overnight job but it's possible (if not necessarily probably) that two years from now I'll be a published author.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Champagne Cocktails

Champagne cocktails are not only a classic, they're easy to make. All you need is sparkling wine (Champagne for preference!), sugar cubes, and bitters (I use Angostura, the only easy one to find these days).

Champagne Cocktail

Put a sugar cube in the bottom of a champagne glass or flute; dash on 3+ drops of bitters. Tilt glass and fill slowly with cold Champagne.

Voila. The traditional garnish is a twist of lemon peel, but in a bar you're more likely to get a maraschino cherry.

There are a number of cocktails that include Champagne as an ingredient--the French 75 is my favorite--but this one is the classic.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

New York

We went into the City yesterday for lunch and a show. And we had a miracle; we didn't get washed off the streets.

Lunch at Sardi's was grand. It opened in 1921 and it's still going strong. We had a very good meal (and cocktails), and had a long conversation with the man sitting in the next booth seat, all about Broadway and Angela Lansbury and the theatre in general. I haven't been there in 15 years or more, but I can still recommend it.

"Blithe" was at the Schubert, just across the street. It was one of the better productions I've seen. I know the play well; I've played both Ruth and Elvira, and done costuming as well.

Rupert Everett played Charles, Christine Ebersole played Elvira, and Angela Lansbury was Madame Arcati. Miss Lansbury stole the show (she's entitled), but the rest of the cast was excellent. The set was elegant and bang on target (right out of the script, which oddly, I've not seen before) and costuming was good too.

It's closing next month (July) on the 19th. If you're a fan of high comedy, Coward, or period productions, I recommend it.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

An 80s Flashback

And a sad one.

Some day! Today both Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson died. I wasn't a huge fan of either, but poor Miss Fawcett; she had an awful run with cancer.

And I did love the "Thriller" album. I won't ever forget coming home to see the video on MTV!

Tempus fugit. What a reminder.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Pink Gin

If you drink too many of these, you'll probably see pink elephants, but you'll have a pleasant journey.

Pink Gin

Angostura bitters
clean ice

For every jigger of gin, shake 1-5 drops of bitters into a shaker with clean ice. Shake briefly or stir, and strain out into a cocktail glass.

Some recipes for a pink gin only require that the final glass be rinsed with bitters, but I prefer to have the flavors mingled more completely.

*My favorite for a Pink Gin is Hendricks Gin. It melds perfectly with the bitters to leave a very faint, almost cinnamon aftertaste.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Movie Picks: Cagney (again)

Lady Killer is another great pre-Code film with Cagney. 1933 brought out another bad-boy-goes-good tale from Warner Brothers.

James Cagney plays a grifter named Dan Quigley who goes on the run with his gang and moll (Mae Clarke, she of the grapefruit scene in Public Enemy), only to find out one of them poisons her against him; when he gets pinched the gang runs off with his money so he can't make an easy bail.

He wallows in his sorrows a while once let out, and a movie director sees him, scruffy and dirty, as the perfect bit player for a prison break scene. With Dan Quigley's genius for manipulating a situation--and some genuine talent--he becomes a star.

The gang comes back, of course...and away we go! Another slam-bang finish, courtesy of the redhead from New York. This film is perfect old Hollywood entertainment. Go find a copy, make a barrel of buttered popcorn, and dig in.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Mondays are for Cocktails

I suppose it should be Friday. But who wants to wait until Friday? Not me!

I'll start off with a classic (re-interpreted).



Now, this is for an extra, extra dry Martini. (A Martini, not a glass of cold gin.)
...for every jigger of gin, add about 1/4 tsp. of dry vermouth to a shaker full of clean, dry ice.

Shake (or stir) briskly for about 15 seconds.

Pour out into a proper cocktail glass. A modern glass (too big, your drink will be lukewarm before you've finished it...unless you really ARE a lush) will hold three jiggers worth. A vintage (pre-1970) cocktail glass will hold a generous one.

Pour the rest into a thermos or put it into a pitcher (which should then go into the freezer).

Garnish (if you like) with an olive (plain ol' stuffed-with-pimento or otherwise) or a twist of lemon zest. To be honest, I vary it. My favorite olive is a pitted garlic and lemon marinated olive stuffed with good bleu cheese.

*something good, please; this recipe will not disguise the bathtub variety; I like Hendricks, Miller's, Tanqueray 10 or Plymouth.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Movie Picks: Cagney in Picture Snatcher

It's probably dull reading day-to-day accounts of the not so rich and famous. Isn't it?

So I will try to drag out something interesting on a regular basis. The Yarn Harlot says Tuesdays are for spinning. In that case, I'll say that Sundays are for movies. I like movie blogs and read a few of the ones that concentrate on old films. (This does not mean 1980s. Think the films your grandparents...or THEIR parents...watched in the cinemas.)

My personal favorites are usually screwball comedy or at least pre-Code, and if it's got elements of both, so much the better.

Accordingly, I'd like to mention Picture Snatcher, with James Cagney and Ralph Bellamy. 1933.

It's a film about an ex-con (Cagney) who has already decided he wants to go straight. He heads to the editor who encouraged him in his dreams of becoming a journalist (this is Bellamy's role), and the games begin.

This one is a good ride. There are some serious and even ugly moments in the film--1933 was a great year for fashion, but not a good time for the common man or woman, especially in the sordid world of this flick. Cagney uses his lightning reflexes and reactions for laughs and to pull you in further. There's even a Mae Clark type scene with an old girlfriend who doesn't want to be the ex.

The girl of his dreams, of course, is the daughter of a cop from the prison. Not just any cop, either; this one filled him full of lead and sent him up the river.

Bellamy gets to play a lush, Cagney gets to mug, and honestly, you're not sure until the very end just what the end will be. I have it on DVD and recommend it wholeheartedly if you're a Cagney or pre-Code fan. It's a helluva good outing for Ralph Bellamy, too.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Too Quiet Now, or, We Had Great Houseguests

Friends of ours came in for a visit from Sunday afternoon to late this morning. They live in the San Francisco area, but were here to wrap up the sale and packing up of his dad's house, go to a family wedding and see usual, they weren't around long enough.

They're also vintage fiends. T is a terrifically talented dressmaker and designer, and J always looks like the perfectly turned out banker in a 1930s screwball comedy. Having them around is a delight.

We started off by absorbing almost too many Manhattans, and gossiping, and showing off the house. (Finished up with a bottle of champagne!)

Monday we drove down to Newport. It was the most perfect weather; mid 70s, sunny, and a slight breeze. No yachting voyage, I'm sorry to say, but we did drive around and take a good look at many of the mansions and take the Cliff Walk for a while. We began, though, with lunch at the White Horse Tavern.

It's been in continuous operation since 1673, and we had great fun lunching there. Everyone else had seafood, and although I started with oysters, I had goat cheese and dried fruit compote (called a salad on the menu). We had cocktails, and my husband and I split a small piece of cheesecake; very good New York style, with a port wine sauce.

I also managed to find a knitting / needlework shop, at 555 Thames Street, called Knitting Needles.

It's a small place, and friendly. I picked up a kit and some Persian wool. We also found a couple of thrift shops. There was a needlepoint kit for a pillow, which I will make to give to my mother-in-law for Christmas, and some crochet thread.

We came back and had a good dinner and then watched a James Cagney film on DVD, called Picture Snatcher. It's a good pre-Code film. Ralph Bellamy is the second lead, and he gets to play a non-Bellamy role, for a change--a newspaper editor who's on the booze. The DVD had some nice extras. A cartoon, a fabulously bad short, and a newsreel.

Late this morning we sent them off (in the rain!) to PA. They'll be flying back to the West Coast from there. But they had French toast, bacon, and coffee under their belts and a boxed lunch (including dachshund cookies).

Friday, June 05, 2009

Advantages to the Vintage Lifestyle (or a reasonable facsimile thereof)

There are quite a few...the charmed old man who tells you that you look just as his mother did as she was getting ready to paint the town red with his dad; the dance partner who tells you about his aunt, who worked in the airplane factory; the wonderful things people pass on from Great-Auntie Muriel's estate, "because you'll appreciate it". Those are all lovely.

Here's another: my hairdresser just offered to trade services. She'll do my hair for free next time if I'll show her the mysteries of a set with rag curlers. It's a wonderful offer.

I've been going to her salon for a few years now. Not often, because I tend to color and cut my own hair most of the time, and having had very long hair at one point (knee length) I grew up regarding salons as a luxury, not a necessity. But she always does a gorgeous job on cuts, colors, and blow-outs. Sets and putting hair up aren't really her thing, but she's growing her own hair out now, and has found that she wants to experiment a bit.

It's flattering and really nice of her. She even suggested we do this on a Sunday, so we've got lots of time for it.

Chalk up another advantage to eccentricity!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Home Improvement

...but no pictorial proof. (It's in the camera, though, really it is!)

The upstairs bathroom is done, curtains and all, and we have landscaped the front garden.

Last year's back-breaking clearing was worth every minute, even in the pouring rain. After that nothing seemed difficult. It took us two days to do the basics. Now, around a small rectangular lawn bordered by limestone we have forsythia, holly, peonies, marigolds, alyssum, bleeding hearts and clematis. The rose bushes are doing well, though it's unlikely they'll bloom this year, and I've planted seeds for pinks, zinnias, poppies, and two kinds of summer bulbs.

I also dug up the square in the sidewalk in front of the next-door abandoned lot and put in more bulbs, surrounding them with stones and blue annuals (don't remember what they're called, but they look very festive there).

Our neighbors across the street are thrilled. Yesterday, one of them compared us favorably with the original owner, a town councilman, and his wife. We felt really good about that. This house was waiting for us to rescue it, and we're well on the way.

Now we just need to paint indoors and finish the guest room. For the outside, (barring the awful, still-paved back yard), DH needs to finish the columns and paint them. I need to scrape and paint the front door, and we'll probably remove the screen door. Also, I'll be spraying the shutters we found last year (dark green, same color for the door) and we'll hang those.

I'd also like to get some stone planters for the front steps, and the steps themselves need some repair. The awful poured concrete next to them...we're not sure when we'll be able to get to that. But we will, I hope, in the next couple of years.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Birthdays and in-laws and all

I had a very nice birthday. My mother and father in-law came to visit. They drove in and stayed about an hour away, but we saw them on my birthday, the next day (Monday) and Wednesday. They've taken to estate sales and brought us a crazy brass dinner gone and other interesting thing. For my part, I loved the 30s sewing box; it's dark wood on a stand, perfect for moving around from room to room.

I have also found that I really like crewel embroidery. I found a pre-printed pattern on linen at a local thrift shop (crewel wool, as well) and finished it yesterday. At this point its final destination is unknown...pillow, bag, footstool...who knows?

Most local yarn shops don't carry embroidery supplies, but we were in Tiverton/Sakonnet on Sunday and Sakonnet Purls does; I found the last few colors I needed there. Today I also found a book on crewel embroidery. It's a good mix. History and how-to are mixed together almost seamlessly.

Other than that, not much. We did finish the bath and bedroom; pictures soon. They need uploading. (I'm lazy.)

Oh---last night DH & I went to see Star Trek,. It was very good. Lots of interesting back-story, and the casting exceptional.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Sheepy Weekend

...coming up!

Tomorrow we're going to the fiber festival at Coggeshall Farm, next to Colt State Park, in Bristol. It's a lovely little festival--a postcard of a New England farm. A Colonial farm, at that. We had a fine time last year. The vendors were very personable, and I got yarn (alpaca and some wool) and wildflower honey.

Stitch 'n Pitch at the PawSox (Boston's AAA team) happens on Sunday. Game time is 1:05 P.M. There's a "family" event after. I'm not sure what it encompasses, but it sounds like fun.

The sad part is this...I have no knitting to take! Jimmy's cabled socks have about 20 minutes left in them, the rest is either finishing, or work that needs a fair amount of concentration. I think I need to dig out some sock yarn and make another pair of Plain Vanilla socks. It's just as well; several pairs of socks have hit the trash can in the last couple of months.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Paint Fumes

Ugh. I've been painting the upstairs bath (finally!) and using an oil-based primer. It didn't bother me yesterday but it does today. At least the second coat of primer (yep) is on...tomorrow or Monday I'll be putting on the paint. Then to the curtains, which I have to design and make. Probably something simple. They will need to disguise the fact that the idiot who made the other unimprovements put the wrong sized window into the frame.

We have the bedroom furniture in now, too. I've ordered a mirrored glass top for the dressing table (it's two small tables to be connected by the glass). That should be ready for pick-up next week. After that I'll iron the vintage draperies & spread, and except for artwork and a decent rug, the bedroom will be set.

Just the guest room remaining, now. We do need to paint most of downstairs, the hallway, and the upper hall as well. Otherwise, though, we'll be fairly well settled.

Time for home repair--the silver lining of being unemployed.

Monday, May 04, 2009

FOs, here and there

I haven't posted many photos, especially lately. My old laptop went to the scrap heap in the sky (metaphorically speaking) and my new one doesn't have the photo software installed yet.

But I moved a few over from DH's computer.

Here is the Frankencozy I gave to my former boss for his birthday.

These are the silk mitts I made for the receptionist. I still haven't given them to her; I was laid off the Friday before her birthday:

I'll find more, and maybe they'll be posted this year. Maybe not....

The Providence Athenaeum and archy

Providence is an old city, as cities go in the United States. Benefit Street, one of the prettiest streets you'll see in this part of the world, has, among its Colonial beauties, this lovely membership library. The library was founded in 1753, by the citizens of Providence, and it was then named the Providence Library Company. The present building was designed by a Philadelpia architect, William Strickland, and opened in 1838. I can vouch for its marvels. As soon as you walk in, something inside says to you, "Now, THIS is a library."

I think it's a wonderful place, and am very glad we decided to join. There are glorious old books, rareties that can't leave the building, and others, still lovely and in good bindings, that can. But for me, the profusion of 1920s and 30s books are the most enticing thing. And downstairs, in the Reading Room (you can sit there all day in an old chair, surrounded by the lovely mustiness of old books, looking across at an "Egyptian" library table, reading, or sitting, or thinking), I found books, plays, poetry and more from my favorite time frame.

Don Marquis is down there. That is, his books are. I have a few volumes of his collected poems, but many are out of print, and difficult to find. The Old Soak is one of the books I borrowed. Possibly, I should read it with a pitcher of martinis at hand, and so, probably won't start it until after 5. But I have just finished the book I mention below.

I also discovered Archy Does His Part. The earliest of these poems and stories was published in 1916, and the latest in 1934. The book itself (a first edition) was published in 1935. This is the title of the last poem in the book:

"what the ants are saying". Here are some excerpts: wont be long now it wont be long
man is making deserts of the earth...

...america was once a paradise
of timberland and stream
but it is dying because of the greed
and money lust of a thousand little kings... talk of money and industry
of hard times and recoveries
of finance and economics
but the ants wait and the scorpions wait...
drought and erosion and desert
because man cannot learn

...dear boss i relay this information
without any fear that humanity
will take warning and reform

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Thanks to Than Chai and Fa Sing (quarrelling over a mouse) I'm awake at 3:00 a.m.

The poor mouse got away; I hope it's relatively uninjured and can find its way outdoors, but I have an awful feeling that we're going to "nose" it in a week or so. Urk.

The antiques sale was wonderful. DH finally found an oak desk, 30s, I think, or a little earlier. It fits nicely into his office, and is working out very well.

My big find was a wonderful 1920s evening coat. Black velvet with black satin geometric inserts and a huge fur collar. I'm not sure what kind of fur. Normally I can tell, but this appears to be upscale rabbit! Back then they used a lot of furs that are no longer popular.

We got a very Art Deco mirror; round, with a 3/4 circle of wood around it, and demi lune shelves. I'm painting the wood white, and will use it above a 30s office cabinet I found at the Salvation Army. Those will go into the upstairs bath, which I am finally finishing. The fabric for the curtains is washed and shrunk and ironed, too...I need to measure and see if there's enough to make an outer shower curtain as well as window curtains.

Another deal was a huge stack of 30s magazines, most in near mint condition. Primarily Yankee magazine and a few different house & garden magazines. There were a couple of knitting pattern booklets too, including a couple of good ones from the 1920s, with patterns more sophisticated than usual for the period.

The rockabilly show was a bit of a disappointment; the first band was a no-show, and the last band not so great, but the middle band was very good, and we picked up their CD. I am glad that we went, in any case.

I'm looking for Art Deco stencils to use on the cabinet...does anyone have good sources?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Springing along

It's lovely here. 70+ degrees F, sunny and there's a bit of a breeze. The cats keep parking themselves in front of the sliding glass door (open, with the locked screen between them and Prey and the Evil Outdoors). Cat TV at its finest.

Yesterday I did what appears to be spring cleaning, and I have actual, concrete plans for finally doing something with the bedroom and the upstairs bath.

Went for a run this morning, and driving back from shopping (sales & coupons, oh my!) I almost wanted to go again this evening.

Tomorrow we're going to an antiques sale and then a rockabilly show. There will be three bands at this one, and I am really looking forward to it.

As for the knitting, I am still working on DH's cable socks. They're looking very good. The 40s sweater looks good, but I am seriously considering a trip to the frog pond to re-do the back. I'm afraid that even with blocking on 100% wool it will be too small, though it's meant to have relatively little ease. This might have something to do with the fact that I need to loose 10 pounds (more. i lost one this past week. must stop sampling all the baking....)

There's a pair of cardinals singing from a neighbor's yard!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I still live here

...but am currently masquerading as a Hausfrau.

And doing it rather well. It's a good thing I like to cook, and mend and even (sometimes) do laundry.

The jobs aren't out there right now. Not at the pay I was getting, which was good, but not great, either. The only things that have come my way so far are temp jobs at $11/hour. And if I'm in the middle of one of those and can't make it to an interview for a permanent position I won't be a happy camper.

I did start myself a new sweater; it's based on a pattern in one of my hardcover knitting books from the 40s. The directions are scant, even for the period. I'm glad I've got some experience behind me, but I'm still puzzled about the collar. It's not a case of picking up and knitting; the trim on the fronts is knitted in conjunction with the rest.

There's no photo of the back of the sweater, but it would appear that the collar is an extension of the fronts trim, folded over and sewn in place, though the folding and sewing up is not mentioned in the directions for making up.

The yarn is nice, a 100% wool worsted from Brown Sheep. We found it at a Five and Dime in West Concord, MA. Really! It was $4.99 a skein, and the yardage is crazy...something like 250+ yards per. The back took less than one full skein. If it turns out too small I just might frog and start over, with an additional pattern repeat here and there. There will be enough yarn.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Fulling it

A few years ago I was able to sell knitted cat toys at a local gift shop. They carry quite a bit of handmade stock, and some is locally produced.

I stopped in last week to ask if they'd be interested again, and got a this past week I have been fulling ("felting") old sweaters and turning them into bags and cat toys and dressing up T-shirts with knitted details and some embroidery. I have two T-shirts, a felted mouse, and one bag finished; the second bag needs a strap and I will make at least one more cat toy.

We'll see what happens; it won't be a lot of money, but all income helps, especially with a mortgage to pay.

If I can remember I'll take some pictures and post them, if I can get to DH's laptop. Mine hasn't enough memory! (Neither do I...h'mmm....)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Baltimore, and socks

It's been an interesting week. Last Tuesday I got slammed with a cold; I was actually an interesting invalid for two days, but that did help, it's almost gone now.

I sent out more resumes, and got ready for a trip to Baltimore, MD. A friend I met in NY (the City) was married. She's a naval engineer, now in Maryland. Some of the others in the NYC crowd were there, too. I got to dance and drink good bourbon and talk and generally enjoy myself.

On Friday I met up with Mimi of Charm City Daily. We've been friends for five years, but it was the first time we met in person! And it was wonderful, she's as pretty, funny, interesting and opinionated in person as in print. (I'd write this even if I thought you weren't going to read it, Ami. Yep.)

Here's the other bonus: long train rides are great for knitting. I finished a simple pair of anklets in Noro sock yarn and got a few inches done on the lace stole.

The socks I mentioned in the last post are destined for the frog pond. Too few stitches, not stretchy enough, and ugly! Fun to knit, though.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Productive, if not employed

I've been busy.

My resume has been updated. I've re-submitted or applied to four temporary agencies, sent the resume to friends who might help me network (and got at least one nibble from that).

I have a preliminary interview for Wednesday, from a submission for a jobs listing I found online, though it's probably a sales position (not my strong point).

I have applied online for unemployment ("unenjoyment" as my friend Nathan calls it). That's a first. But as we have a mortgage I am taking no chances...not in this economy.

Yesterday I also made tapioca pudding. It's fantastic, if I say so myself. (We shared some with the neighbors.) I made a good dinner--ziti with mushrooms and carrots and sauce, with cheese.

Not much has been done with the lace, but I've been trying a new sock pattern, something especially for variegated yarns, with an "aforethought" heel. It's out of Sensational Knitted Socks (Charlene Schurch).

Today's dinner will probably be something very sturdy and comforting, too. The weather is dreary; freezing rain and sleet. March is still roaring.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Laid off

Happy Friday. You're out of a job.

There are so many things I could say...none of them politic or PC...but I'll be a good little liberal who's been fired by panicking conservatives and just say that I am out of work.

DH, thank God, is not, at least not now.

I did get some laundry done.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Love me, Love my friends.

When you have a moment or two to spare, take a look at my links area.

There are some good sites and blogs listed. Most are dedicated in some fashion to the retro and vintage lifestyle. Some are musings on living the life, others a how-to, and some are just good articles and ideas that will probably interest you.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Lace Conundrum

Yesterday I complained about the small size of the Cozy I'm knitting (as I'm using yarn much finer than that recommended in the pattern)...well, it's still bothering me.

I think that the frog pond is in sight. If I rip out and cast on again with an additional 36 stitches it should be wide enough for a stole, more useful than a scarf, for me. It'll be painful, though. I hate ripping out, and it's worse when the work looks good.

This yarn is perfect for the pattern stitch. The colors flow over the pattern, but I just don't need another lace scarf to pack away! I want to wear this one.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Fuzzy Feet; just in time.

I finished the Cascade Fixation socks and the Fuzzy Feet (I felted them about 5 minutes after I was done with the knitting). DH likes them so far...I think I'll make a pair for myself, but with some color work.

The timing is good. DH's feet will be warm today. We got slammed with a Nor'easter again. This winter seems determined to make up for the lack of snow in the past ten! It wasn't a fun commute, but I got here in one piece, as the other poor fools out and about were being careful, too.

Yesterday I cast on for Knitty's Cozy, but in a lighter gauge. I found a gorgeous, misty laceweight merino at Fresh Purls; it's a very fluid mix of pastel blue and green. Knitting lace with this is like working a spun cloud. I don't know why I keep knitting lace scarves...they're not something I wear often, but they're lovely to work and to look at. I had hoped to make Cozy with sport or fingering weight and have a real wrap, but I wanted to use this yarn, and I wanted to make Cozy...and there you are.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Still Prolific

The knitting orgy continues.

The socks from Maizy and Cascade Fixation are almost done. I have also nearly finished the knitting of a pair of Fuzzy Feet (more or less; see Knitty for the proper pattern) for DH. In fact, I'll probably finish them tonight. The felting might not take place until the weekend.

Yesterday we went antiquing and I found some more vintage needlework magazines. Not a lot of knitting in them, but there is a wonderful mittens pattern. Fair Isle Scottie dogs, a la FDR's Fala. What a great excuse to go get some fingering weight Shetland wool!

Friday, February 20, 2009


I haven't posted in two weeks. Somehow it seemed either a means of revenge or (if only knitting related), frivolous.

On Friday night, February 6, a friend of mine was murdered. Not a "random act of violence"; her boyfriend shot her. And the friend she was with. And then the SOB shot himself.

Deb was a force to be reckoned with. Vibrant, pretty, strong, funny, annoying, more than opinionated. She was a successful lawyer and an actor. She also played trombone and euphonium. Her politics were nearly the polar opposite of mine; we agreed to disagree long ago. She was well-bred, generous to a fault, kind, rude, and infuriating. Human, in other words.

It's been years since we were in regular communication, but we were aware of one another. She was one of the first people in my New York crowd to make friends and she never lost sight of me.

A mutual friend e-mailed me late last week about her memorial service. That's how I found out. I took a bus in on the day it was held and came back the next afternoon.

We celebrated (yes, life is for celebrating) her life and her quirks at a good dive bar. Her movies played on a loop (bad commercials, too...she did have a great sense of humor) and we ate and drank and remembered.

I still can't believe she's actually dead, or that the bastard who shot her did so. He must have been carrying concealed. It was the Sabbath, so he'd've known where to find her, and that he'd be able to let himself in. It's all so very wrong.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Not yet...

...but there will be FO photos soon.

I've finished the first MiL sock. Zero ease, because this stuff has no memory, and I don't want them to get all stretched out.

I'm not sure what's next...maybe a cloche (for me), or the Fuzzy Feet for DH.

It's time to decide on a fine gauge pattern for another Me sweater, too, if I can find the right yarn. With luck I might dig up enough vintage yarn from the stash to make one; otherwise I'll see what fingering weight modern yarn I have around.

This weekend will be full of knitting, but we're also supposed to get a February Thaw. I'm looking forward to that; rumor has it that the temps will be in the 50s (F) on Sunday!

Thursday, February 05, 2009


That would be a great title for a mystery involving the vintage trade.

I was nosing around to find a few Albert Campion titles (author: Margery Allingham) and stumbled over a Golden Age Mysteries forum, but it won't let me post. It got me to thinking again about writing a mystery, and of the ones I like to read.

Here are some of my favorite "golden age" authors, in no particular order.

Sayers (Lord Peter Wimsey)
Christie (Tommy & Tuppence, Poirot and non-series are my favorites)
Stout (Nero Wolfe)
Allingham (Albert Campion).

There are a few present day authors who write historical mysteries set in the 20s and 30s.

Jill Churchill (Grace & Favor series)
Kerry Greenwood (Phryne Fisher)
Carola Dunn (The Hon. Daisy Dalrymple)

The later aren't on an even footing with the real thing. Hindsight can ruin a good book (!) but I enjoy them, if only because I'd like to think I could do as well.

"Deadstock", by the way, is term used to describe "old/new" items. In other words, something vintage or antique that has never been used, and might even still have the original sale tags.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Keep going!

(I'm cheering my sudden knitting output.)

The crunchy silk mitts for our receptionist's birthday are done. I'm more than half-way through the first sock for a pair to be gifted to MiL for Mother's Day, and suspect that I might have enough mojo to make another birthday present for a friend who has a birthday n March.

I would also like to make Fuzzy Feet, or a reasonable facsimile thereof for DH. They'll knit up very quickly and will be my first foray into the world of felting (or fulling, if you want to be snarky about it) now that I have my own washer & dryer.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Can't decide

I just bought Boutique Knits and I feel like a 5 year old with a fistful of money in an unfamiliar candy shop!

There are so many good patterns and ideas in this book that I don't know where to begin.

A hat, I think. But there are THREE that I want...and then, one gives me a design idea for a leftover bit of knitting from last year; I steeked it to use part as a collar, and nearly half is left. It might make the beginnings of a really striking cloche.

Does anyone care to give me a shove in one direction or another?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Still Socks

The bed socks are VERY warm.

I need to write up the pattern properly in several sizes and recruit some test knitters. Anyone??

The Slightly Less Bulky Matching Socks are coming along nicely. I finished the first one yesterday and am on the heel flap now. And the vest (finishing) is half-way finished. I still need to pick up for armscye ribbing and seam the sides.

As Zanti mentioned on her blog, it's still cold here. And she's been making mittens.

M'mmm, mittens...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Bed Socks

I've finished the first and am ready to turn the heel on the second. They fit well and are very warm, but are not streamlined enough to squish into my loafers.

Looks like Idea #2 will be put into practice soon. I'm going down a needle size and will do a striped stockinette heel flap instead of a slip-stitch heel.

The bed socks might end up a gift; I have a colleague for whom I haven't knitted anything yet, and these will fit her, too. Her birthday is in March, so she'd still be able to wear them for a while before it gets warm.

I'll be knitting this pattern again, too. It's fast and pretty, as well as a good way to use up scraps on worsted weight yarn. Maybe I'll submit this to Knitty for this year's fall or winter issue. They're ready in about 2 days (or less), so they would make good Christmas knitting.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


The striped vest is blocking, ready to be sewn together. I even started matching socks, but have to rip back; I mis-counted the ribbing I need in between cables. Re-starting will be quick, though.

...depending on how many re-starts! It took me four tries, but I have the formula now. (I promptly got sloppy when picking up in the "beneath" row to line up the colors and will have to rip back again, but these do knit up quickly.)

I'll publish the pattern when the socks are finished.

They might be too bulky to wear in anything but my snow boots, but I'm hoping that I'll be able to show them off in my brown loafers. If they really are too much material, I might start again on a smaller needle. I also have another design idea for the heel, which will render it smaller.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hope: 2009 Onwards

Thanks to the Presidential [Sweater] Advisory Committee (as represented by Fa Sing and Than Chai), the Obama Hope Sweater is finished.

DH and I will be joining an Inauguration Day party on Hope Street (how appropriate!) at a local restaurant after work tonight. I will be listening to the radio all day, and will be watching Mr. Obama on television as he takes the Oath of Office at noon today.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Dream

Tomorrow part of Dr. King's dream will be realized. The very thought of it makes many of us giddy and tearful and sober by turns. It's a rocky path and like true love, it will never run smooth. But it does run.

Even as an American of Irish and German and Dutch ancestry I feel part of this, and that's part of Dr. King's dream as well as mine. As I was born in 1966 I didn't see, first or second-hand, the ugliest manifestations of blatant racisim and xenophobia, but it, along with the best of human nature, is all around us.

I saw a shadow of it in Virginia, in 1989. My ex-husband and I had just moved there. He was in the Navy. We were in our early 20s. I was raised in upstate New York. Few people of color lived in our area, but my mother had grown up in a multi-cultural city area, and had always taught us to respect people in general. In particular, she taught us (my sister, and me) to respect our elders.

Not long after moving in, I walked over to the local supermarket and picked some things up.

On my way out, I paused to let a gentleman in his 70s or 80s go before me. I held the door for him, and said, "Oh, no—you go ahead, sir."

He stopped and stared briefly before thanking me and going out. He seemed startled, but was very gracious.

As you've probably guessed, he was African American.

It wasn't until I was headed home that I realized why he'd reacted that way. It was a shock to me. Not a good one. I hope that his shock was a good one. But I've never forgotten that, or of the time an elderly relative, who had become demented, spit out racist remarks as she relived her past.

I hope that is past indeed. Nothing will be perfect, and I hope those things will not be forgotten, but most of all I hope they will not be repeated.

I am so very glad, happy, and proud that this country; my country is turning such an important corner and that the best person for the job was selected. Not the best man, or the best white man, but the best person.

The sweater?

Yes, it's ready. (The cats helped.) There will be photos later this week.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Colder than usual here.

RI schools are actually closing (which is ridiculous, they don't hold classes they?).

It's a great excuse to knit more, though. My sweater vest is practically knitting itself. I'm well into the decreases for the back armscyes.

And everywhere in the blog kingdom references to EZ (Elizabeth Zimmerman, if you're not a knitter) abound. I need a copy of The Opinionated Knitter at the very knit those "nether" garments. This weather calls for it!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Begin Again

Begin knitting something new, that is. Last night I cast on for the cable ribbing sweater vest in Hip Knits.

I made one a few years ago for one of the nephews; subbed recycled sweater-from-the-thrift and cone yarn that I dyed myself. It came out very well. He even wore it for his school pictures the following year (that's quite a thumbs up from a grade schooler).

This time I'm using the Lion Wool. The main color will be cream, and I'm knitting two-row stripes: *cream/brown/cream/orange/cream/teal/cream/brown/cream/orange*.

The original pattern uses four row stripes, but thinner stripes are more typical of 30s and 40s sweaters, and that's what I like.

I'm already into the stripes. It's a fairly quick knit, the body is on American No. 7 needles. This one is for me, too.

2009 might be the Year of Knitting for Me.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


The Hope sweater is blocking. It should be dry by tomorrow, but I plan to begin sewing up on Saturday. Maybe I should start earlier. I don't like to sew up, but when I take my time I do a pretty good job of it.

And here are Fa Sing and Than Chai, deciding whether the stole is good enough to send to Nana for Christmas:

Than Chai is still wondering where it went. He really liked The Blankie, and keeps trying to climb into my knitting bag to find it. One of these days I'll knit one to keep and he'll sleep under it while I'm knitting.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

On Target

I finished the front and wove in the ends last night! Tonight I'll wash & block it; my workroom is cold, so it will take a few days to dry.

It can be sewn together on Saturday, and re-blocked on Sunday. Whew! (Barring disaster...but I'm not going there.)

There was a nice surprise waiting for me yesterday evening when I got home. The first three Harry Potter books, on audio, as read by Stephen Fry! My mother and nephews sent gift certificates to for Christmas, and thanks to some sales I really scored. The other four will cost considerably more, but I will probably get one or two more sometime this year.

The Stephen Fry version is not available in the US or Canada. I've heard some of Jim Dale's readings; they're very good, but I am a huge fan of Stephen Fry and really wanted his work instead.

Listening to Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone certainly made weaving in go faster than usual. That's what audio books are for (that, and commuting).

Right now I'm working on a pair of leaf green ankle socks in a subtle twisted stitch stripe, and planning a vest with that Lion Brand Wool. I can't decide whether to go with stripes or Fair Isle at this point. Stripes would certainly be easier, but I've been mesmerized by the Fair Isle sweaters that make up the 40's casts' wardrobes in Goodnight, Sweetheart. Granted, thin stripes are just as period-correct, and they'd be fun too.

All decisions should be this important.

Monday, January 12, 2009

I Can Do It

Another several hours and some help from a LYS and I picked up again on row 64. Yesterday was knit, do something else, knit, do something else...

As of this morning, post breakfast, I am within two rows of finishing the chart. The raglan shaping went longer than indicated in the pattern, so I will probably add buttons at the neckline (across the top of the shoulder).

All-in-all, it's coming along. I'll have time tonight to work on it, so with luck (this includes cats in a cooperative mood) I will finish the neckline shaping and weave in all of the ends.

If I'm really on the ball, it might even get washed and blocked tonight, but I wouldn't make book on that!

Inauguration Day is next Tuesday, January 20th. The day before that is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

I wish I could be in Washington for this. A colleague is least I'll get a second-hand report!

Thanks, United States. We're not "there" yet, world, but we're working on it.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Pride Goeth Before Colorwork

Or something like that.

Last night I had some time to work on the sweater (part of it cat-free) and I was rolling right along.

You know that's when things go wrong.

I was within 12 rows of the chart's ending when I finally realized that the pattern (free, with typos, online, need I say more?) neglected to mention at what point raglan shaping had to commence for the front.

15", in case you'd like to know.

I was at 20" when I finally figured this out. It took close to two hours to rip back. That includes tinking, running a lifeline, ripping back, untangling what seemed like 2,000 balls of yarn, and more tinking (no, I'm not quite there yet).

There will be two annoyed cats Chez Moi this weekend. (Cats and colorwork do not go together!)

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Cheap Yarn and other good things

I didn't like Lion Brand yarns when I first started knitting "real" things. Wool-Ease pills like a b@stard, and I do not like novelty yarns.

But I love wool. LOVE it; for the most part I'll choose it over cashmere or silk or alpaca (sometimes. i am human, you know). It's beautiful. It's warm. It has memory. It insulates. It takes dyes wonderfully.

The yarn I choose to use for the Hope sweater is mostly Lion Brand Wool. That got me started.

Since then I've made a hat for DH, a tea cozy (Frankenknit from a hat that was too small for DH) and early this week I bought enough to make myself a vest. Cream, burnt orange, cocoa brown and teal blue. It's on sale this week at Michaels. Half off. That means I bought enough new yarn for a sweater and I spent $20.00. As soon as I've blocked the pieces for the Hope sweater I'll give myself permission to cast on for this vest. It's a pattern I've used before, and it knits up quickly.

The other good thing is Goodnight, Sweetheart.

DH and I got hooked on this thanks to public television. For people who like the past, not to mention clever writing and good acting, it's divine. We bought ourselves the whole DVD set from, as it's not available in the States. (That also meant a DVD player that will play all zones. Worth it.)

We have been watching a few episodes every night, and it's great fun to see it all again, with the bonus of seeing the shows we missed when it was broadcast here.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


I still have about 28 rows of washing, blocking, sewing and re-blocking.

And Mr. Obama will be sworn in two weeks from today! I've got a lot of work to do.