Archive for September, 2008

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

A toddler sweater is JUST the thing for feeling productive

I cast on Sunday and am 2 rows away from armhole shaping.

My sister recently reminded me that I cast on left handed, and as I look at the bottom of my ribbing, you can totally tell. The cast on on the inside of the sweater or “wrong” side looks much nicer then on the outside. I need to try to re-learn my cast on.

As of right now, it looks like I’ll have enough yarn. The sweater shrinks up quite a bit, being ribbed, but stretches out to where it needs to be easily. I hope that’s good enough. Clark seems to know it’s his already.

It’s so pretty, I can’t stop petting it.

Thursday, September 25th, 2008


Deep breath.

Close eyes.

Mental calming exercises.

I tried carding the silks into the tan wool and alpaca. Although the colors of silk were really pretty, they weren’t vibrant enough. I carded one batt and spun a little strip of it. I didn’t even bother to ply it, I just let the single twist back onto itself in little, 3-ply pieces.

It (on the left), admittedly has more color and warmth to it than the skein on the right, which is the same wool and alpaca carded with straight, undyed tussuh silk. (Seemed like a good idea. Wrong. The color of the wool and alpaca completely flattened into a drab nothing).

So, I’m re-dying the silk with more color.

I can see in my head what I want. What I’m going for. I just don’t know how to get there, and I don’t want to settle. But I’m starting to think that there’s a reason I haven’t seen anybody producing what I’m trying to produce. Either it simply can’t exist in our physical world outside of my imagination, or it’s REALLY FREAKING HARD and no one else cares as much as I do about getting it.

I dyed Clark’s yarn yesterday. It didn’t come out as blue as the swatch, but I half expected that.

After consulting with Nate, we decided that I’ll knit the sweater as is, and if I don’t like it, I’ll dye the sweater to add more blue. But the color of the yarn is pretty cool. It’s neutral-ish, with hopefully enough blue to pick up Clark’s eyes, which is what I wanted (to bring out the color in his eyes).

That’s where I’m at.

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

Taking the plunge

Well, I’m doing it. I’m dyeing my 800 + yards of handspun wool/alpaca for Clark’s sweater. It’s soaking at the moment.

Once dyed and dried, I’m going to knit it! I need to make something. It’s been too long. I’m thinking a saddle shoulder sweater. I haven’t made one before, and it could be cute, with a 4×4 cable running up the sleeve into the neck with the 2×2 cable rib I swatched for the body (see previous post).

So, crewneck or V neck? Clark’s main use for this sweater will be church, probably over collared shirts.

And I’m going to card up the other stuff I dyed and make fingerless mitts for the girls with it. That seems like an excellent test to see how the yarn holds up, if I get horrid pilling, etc. Plus, they’ve been whining for fingerless mitts, and it’s getting cold. About a month earlier than it’s supposed to.

Bye bye short summer.

I’m still tired. Big surprise. Oh and by the way, the Beef, Tomatoes, and Noodles dish I mentioned last time was really, really, really good. I used 2 pounds of stew beef, browned it, like I mentioned, and added 2 cans of sliced stewed tomatoes. The tomatoes were Nate’s favorite part. I had the leftovers for lunch yesterday and today.

I’m glad my recipe recommendations have been helpful to some of you. And the disposable crockpot liner suggestion from Kate sounds intriguing. Thanks.

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

Tentatively peeking out from under my rock

I am feeling better, I have more energy, tho’ I still fatigue quicker than normal. But for whatever reason, posting has seemed overwhelming to me. Which is bizarre, I’ve been blogging for nearly 5 years.

So, the crockpot meals have been great. In response to Katie’s comment the other day, I soak it all night long and wash it out in the morning. It cleans up easily.

I only had one dud which happened to be on the same night that Carol brought me soup, so that worked out nicely. It was the ham and potatoes. I think the recipe could be altered and saved, but last Wednesday, the only edible part of the dish was the scary looking, mushy bit at the bottom of the crockpot.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m using the Fix It And Forget It cookbook. Whenever I make a recipe from this book, I make notes, highlight the good ones, or write in suggestions for how to make it better on the next try. It can be a very overwhelming thing, looking through 15 stew recipes in one book, so it’s nice to see what I’ve already done and liked/disliked.

The favorite discovery this past week? Taco Soup with Black Beans, pg 36.


Everyone liked it.

The Tater Tot Casserole went over very well, pg 116. Chicken in a Pot has been a favorite for years, pg 168. I add 3 sliced potatoes and make biscuits with it, thicken the juices into gravy… Mmmmmm. Aromatic Chicken, pg 185 was pretty good. I think it’d be better converted into a thai curry by adding the curry paste at the beginning, and the bamboo shoots, bell peppers the last 5 minutes, basil at the end.

On the list that I’ve made in the past, but haven’t got to yet is the Hamburger Soup with Barley, pg 34. This is so amazingly good. I always use ground turkey in place of ground beef in these and all recipes (except for hamburgers themselves) because gr beef grosses me out. For the barley soup, I use 2 cartons of Swanson’s organic beef broth and crushed tomatoes in heavy puree. And the Chicken Curry (indian style) on page 187 is fantabulous IF the sweet potatoes you get are good. With flavorless sweet potatoes, it’s pretty lame. We’re going to try that again, and I’m hoping my sweet potatoes are good. I don’t know how to tell before I’m committed and they’re actually cooked.

Tonight, we’re having Beef, Tomatoes, and Noodles on page 78. I haven’t made this before, but it seemed like a good idea to brown the beef instead of just coating it with flour and tossing it in. So I did.

Anyway, having dinner done in the morning when I still have energy has been wonderful. Such a load off my mind. The only downside is, being home most of the day as I am, I anticipate eating dinner all. day. long. Makes for a long day sometimes.

So, I’ve done a little more dyeing.

This is bits of gray fleece, white fleece, and brown alpaca dyed tan.

This is silk noil I was trying to do different colors of cream, beige, mahogany, and dark brown that I was hoping would bleed into each other a little bit. It didn’t quite work for a number of reasons. The blue bit was supposed to be the dark brown. I don’t know WHAT’S up with that. I still think it’ll look pretty carded into the brown. At least the more colorful parts.

This is some blue on gray fleece and alpaca top, white fleece and alpaca top, that I messed up the measurement on. I was looking at the wrong manufacturer’s directions and added too much dye. I had to take the fiber out well before the dyebath was exhausted. I haven’t washed it out yet, it’s still wet from the dyebath Saturday.

I had thrown one of Clark’s sweater swatches in the blue dye along with the other fibers.

It has a little bit of a greenish tint to it, but not as bad as what shows up in the picture. I think I’m going to dye his yarn with this dye. I’d wanted it to be a lightish sort of blue, as light as it could be, being dyed over brown yarn, to pick up the blue in his eyes. With his fair skin and hair, I thought it’d look really good. I’m not sure if it’s exactly the right shade of blue, but I do like it.

I’m wanting to dye my light gray fleece tan and blue to make a tan sweater for Nate and a blue sweater for me, with the same colors of noil blended into both. I think it’d be neat looking if I can get the colors right. I need to try the blue again in the right amount. It’s supposed to be lighter.

Finally, the girls had their first Cross Country meet on Wednesday. I’m so proud of them.

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

A quick check-in

I’m still incredibly weak from being sick. After canceling most everything I could last week to rest, I was hoping I’d be good to go this week. Not so. I MUST do laundry today. I think I might be able to. There was no way, earlier in the week.

On Monday, I spent an hour or so in the Fix It And Forget It cookbook and came up with a week’s worth of crockpot dinners, ventured out to the grocery store, and that wiped me out for the day. On the plus side, I have a week’s worth of crockpot dinners taken care of. I’ll let you know how it goes. Last night was a yummy taco soup. Tonight, we’re having ham and potatoes. There’s Velveeta in it. I’ve never used Velveeta. Ever, that I can recall. Nate was somewhat horrified to find it in the refrigerator, but I figured I’d give it a try. There isn’t a LOT of Velveeta in the recipe.

Yesterday, I worked in Veronica’s class and had my first guitar lesson since June. It was great to be back, and I must once again say how incredibly cool my teacher is. Nate bought Speed Racer on DVD yesterday. It’s a really fun, stilly-stupid movie with some good eye candy. I recommend it.

Anyway, I’m alive. Exhausted and feeling totally pathetic. My dye isn’t here yet. And so help me, I’m going to do laundry and hope it doesn’t kill me.

Friday, September 12th, 2008

The oddest thing…

I have a floating bell fountain, which I love. I can’t, however, figure out how to get the tarnish off of the stationary bells. Any ideas? I’ve used silver polish, brass polish, steel wool… I haven’t tried bleach.

Anyway, this morning, I saw something hilarious. I know it won’t be quite as funny to you, as you can’t see it in action, but check this out.

There’s a spider in one of the floating bells. I’ve been watching it circle round and round, tapping the stationary bells, which sends it into a Disneyland teacup type spin.

I’m curious how it managed to get there. Those bells never stop moving. I took the bell out and set it on the counter an hour or so ago, and the spider is gone now. I think it would have starved on that thing, I can’t imagine how it would have gotten off. I saw it try, once.

My illness is keeping me from a fun luncheon this afternoon that I helped organize with some school moms, which is really annoying. I’m going to spin more wolf yarn today. And pout.

Oh, speaking of pouting…

One of my friends that moved to New York last year (so not Hayden) came back last weekend. I’m very pleased. Welcome back, Carol.

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

Wheel #4

Nate and I are both going to the doctor this morning. We’re both sick and not getting better. After the doctor, I’m heading off to pick up the Clemes and Clemes that a woman I know is selling cheap. That’ll be 4 wheels in my house (tho’ one is out on loan), one for each of the girls, myself included.

It’s very exciting.

I washed an entire fleece yesterday. My revised method is SO much faster. So that leaves me with 2 left to wash. One of them is only 5 1/2 pounds, so that will be quick. I have to wait for my drying racks though. Washing more at a time takes longer to dry because the layers on the shelves are thicker.

It’s been a really long time since I actually knit something. I’m so antsy, but everything I can think of that I want to knit, I want to knit with handspun. That slows things down. But, my dye should be here soon, and I’ll take the plunge and make a big batch of something. I swear I will.

And I still have all that yarn I spun for Clark’s sweater, waiting to be dyed.

That could be a satisfying and quick knit.

In the meantime, I’m tapping my fingers for the dye to get here.

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

Wanna laugh at me?

While we were in California having a great vacation, as I slept at night , I dreamt of fleece.

That’s so funny to me.

I ordered a bunch of dye yesterday. Colors that I can use straight and don’t have to mix. That should eliminate my problems. I’m so ready to be done “sampling.”

The second fleece is almost washed.

It’s the light gray, the one I want to make into sweaters for both Nate and myself, leaving me with three more to wash. I’ve washed this gray fleece much quicker than the others, washing more at a time, not separating and aligning the locks, and so far it’s worked out well. It’s cut my washing time by at least half.

I put Abby at the new wheel this morning before school, and she did great. It’s been quite awhile since she’s spun. I’m picking up another Clemes tomorrow from a lady I know that’s decided to sell hers. Abby likes the Clemes. As I was thinking about the girls spinning, and possibly taking them to fiber events, it occurred to me that a single treadle Ashford Joy would probably be perfect for the kids, as they’re so small and spin so easily. Too bad those aren’t cheap. I don’t think the girls could carry a Clemes, and the Traditional is light, but bulky.

Monday, September 8th, 2008

Well, I wasn’t HEALTHY, but I was healthy enough.

Which means that yes, I am still sick. Not bad. Tylenol and Aleve got me through Disneyland and the wedding surprisingly well. And Nate, who has been sick since the beginning of July, is coming down with what I had. Joy. Honestly, at this point I think I’d rather be sick again myself than have him sick. He takes 5 times as long to get over things than I do.

So, the trip. It was tremendously fun. We went down for a wedding in the family, so my husband and 5 of his 7 siblings (minus the one that just had their first baby, and the one that is just about to), plus my in-laws all converged on California. There were 18 kids, Abby being the oldest, and 13 adults. Most of us flew down together on the same plane.

This picture shows half of the kiddos, and the little boys so excited by the airplanes!

We filled an entire Alamo shuttle. The looks we got were hilarious.

Just imagine the number of strollers and carseats 18 kids under the age of 10 would require…

At Disneyland, we broke off from the group and spent most of the first day as a family. We did the Winnie the Pooh ride first thing.

I discovered a few things right off. First of all, Clark does not like rides. At all. In any form. Liv is a close second, in that she doesn’t like anything that might be scary. Roller coasters are absolutely out of the question, while Abby and Veronica LOVE them.

I also discovered that despite the fact that I went to Disneyland most summers as a kid, I really had no idea what was actually there. Which means that either I have the worst memory imaginable, or my mom wasn’t very adventurous with us kids. Most everything we went on this trip, I’d never been on, and didn’t even know about. Like Winnie the Pooh, Alice in Wonderland, Pinocchio, the Storybook Land cruise, the Jungle Cruise, the Tea Cups, Thunder Mountain…

Ah, Thunder Mountain. I have distinct memories of wanting to go on Thunder Mountain as a kid, and not being allowed to. While we were standing in a brief line (there were almost no lines the whole two days on most everything) to ride it for the 6th or so time, Abby and Veronica, my roller coaster buddies on this trip, wanted to know why my mom wouldn’t let me ride it. So I texted her to ask. She texted back and said that she doesn’t remember keeping me away from it. Having now been to Disneyland as the adult with many, many children, I can understand that she was possibly too tired to go on one more thing. However, I think that she isn’t much of a roller coaster goer, herself. I’d never been on Space Mountain ’til Nate and I went 6 years ago. I didn’t know it was there. We did, admittedly do Matterhorn when I was young. I thought it was my favorite ride at Disneyland. Not anymore. Ah, Thunder Mountain.

All I remember riding as a kid was Pirates, Matterhorn, Small World, Haunted Mansion, Autotopia, a slow, touring train… maybe the Tiki Room… help me out, mom. What did we ride?

So the first half of the first day, poor Liv stayed out with Clark and an alternating parent as Abby, Veronica, and the other parent rode rides. Then we did the carousel and tea cups. So I guess I overstated earlier. Clark LOVES the tea cups and likes the carousel pretty well.

I tried so hard to get a picture of Clark’s face on the tea cups. He had the most exuberant smile when the tea cup would get a good spin. It was pure joy. So amazingly sweet.

The first half of the second day, we were at California Adventure. Nate loves Soaring over California. We did the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Veronica did it twice, even though she thought it was too scary, the hype and narration more than the plummeting elevator.

She was extremely ticked that she was too short for California Screamin’ and the Maliboomer.

Once back at Disneyland, we did Space Mountain twice. I think I rode it 6 times over the two days. Veronica wasn’t with us at the end of the first day, so she heard about it and couldn’t talk of much else ’til she got to ride it herself. I’m wishing I would have bought some of the pictures they take on the rides. Their faces… so cute. Especially the time I made Liv come on Splash Mountain with Abby and Veronica and I. I’d promised her I wouldn’t let go of her the whole ride, and told her she could close her eyes, so Abby was in the front, huge smile, Veronica was behind her, huge smile, Liv was next, with her eyes slammed shut and my hands on her shoulders, and I was in the back. It was great.

At around 5 on the second day, after playing in the fountain in Toontown

…Nate was all tuckered out, so he took Clark and Liv back to the hotel, and Abby, Veronica and I stayed ’til it closed at 11,

shopped for another 45 minutes on Main Street, and got back to the hotel around midnight.

It was great. We hit Thunder Mountain (again) twice, then got Pirates (again) on the way to Splash Mountain (again) twice (seriously soaked that second time). Then the lines started picking up, so we stopped for dinner in Tomorrowland around 8. Rode the Teacups (again)

saw the amazing fireworks and light show (really, holy freakin’ cow),

waited in a long line so Abby could do Matterhorn again, FINALLY got to do Alice in Wonderland (which I’d been wanting to do since the previous morning tho’ we never did make it to Peter Pan. There was ALWAYS a long line on that one. Is it cool? I haven’t done it), and squeezed in the Storybook Land cruise for Veronica, who was dying to ride a boat into the mouth of the big whale. Should’ve got a picture of that.

Funny story, the actor they had dress up as Jack Sparrow on Thursday was shockingly good. He looked just like him. The amazing facial structure that Johnny Depp has and everything. He was also not stopping for pictures, which was lame. The Jack Sparrow wandering around the streets on Friday was hilarious. He came running down the walkway in front of the Tiki room, arms and legs flailing like in the movie. I leaned over to Nate to say that it was a different actor than the one on Thursday, when all the sudden he was behind us, his hands on our shoulders, hiding from whoever was chasing him. Then he swings around, eyes Nate’s pineapple juice (completely in character) and takes it, like he’s going to drink it. He stops, sniffs it, then scoffs at the lack of booze no doubt and hands it back, waves his hand dismissively, and takes off again. Nate shouts after him, “but why is the rum gone?”

So much fun. All I want to say, aside from a HUGE Thank You to my father-in-law for taking us all down there and arranging everything, is I WANT TO GO BAAAAACK!

To the happiest place on earth.

Monday, September 1st, 2008

Taking the week off

Ugh, I’m sick. I’m really sick. A little better today, I wasn’t able to get out of bed Saturday and Sunday. Tomorrow is the first day of school. Wednesday, we head to California for a wedding and will be gone the rest of the week. We’re going to take the kids to Disneyland for the first time. We’re all excited.

Please, please let me be healthy.

So, since I missed Health Group on Saturday, I’ll just say that it’s been tough. I’ve been doing pretty good. Getting some exercise, eating pretty well. And I’m still puffy and on the high end of my normal weight range. Whatever. I have too much on my mind to worry about it now. When the kids are back in school and I’m back in a routine, I should be able to be more consistent.

So, our little trip to the cabin was super fun and Clark was just fine after sleeping the morning away.

Clark, who wouldn’t go near the trampoline in February, wanted to try this time.

Liv took to the spinning wheel and did really well. With my kids at least, they seem to do much better with a single treadle wheel. The double treadle is too much for them.

She filled a bobbin.

The spinning wheel was on this gorgeous place called Fox Island. The people selling it were a nice, older couple. Retired school teachers. The wheel is perfect and came with the lazy kate and 4 bobbins. I’m glad I thought to bring spinning wheel oil though. The wheel would barely turn and squeaked and squawked like crazy ’til I got some oil on it.

When we got home, I oiled the wood and took steel wool to the metal bits. It looks and spins great.

I think I’m going to card up the fleece I’ve been dyeing for the girls to spin. That seems like the best use for it, and they need something to learn on.

My throat is killing me and I’m tired. There’s not a TON to do to get ready to go, but I do have some work to do. Wish me luck. I’ll see you next week.