Thursday, April 23, 2009

G is for Gift Knitting

Today's G is courtesy of Carly.

I looove handmade things, and for my birthday Carly made me a Faberge Cowl. It's Malabrigo Worsted in Polygala, and it's so soft on my neck I wore it all winter without the slightest itch.

Gift knitting is kind of a landmine. I have gifted only five things that I can think of. Three baby blankets, a pair of mittens, and an afghan. Of those, I only know for sure that one is in regular use. And that's the afghan I gave my Grandma, and if I have her a used Kleenex she would display it proudly as one of my greatest accomplishments.

The next few things in my queue are all gifts though. The thing is that I only need just so many crocheted/knitted items for myself, but I love to crochet. I get a lot of pleasure out of just making something. So I guess if it's destined to collect dust, so be it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

F is for Fast

Today's F is brought to you by Jake, Carly's husband (eee so excited for them).

F is for fast - fast like my swift! Jake made this for me for Christmas this year, along with a nostepinne. He turned parts on the lathe, and used some kind of special bearing for speed. He even repurposed a pool cue - it's really one of a kind.

Here are the glamour shots:

The whole outfit with some Misti Alpaca worsted

The nostepinne, with a very handy groove in the handle for holding the tail. Apparently this design change was suggested by Carly.

And one of the very cool (don't know the name of the part) thingies (?) made from a pool cue.

So back to the word at hand - fast. Obviously a swift is faster than using two chairs or your feet or something to hold a hank of yarn while it is wound. But this swift is FAST. It has this flat bearing that just glides like a dream... it's a precision instrument. Leave it to a mechanical engineer.

Thanks again, Jake, for my awesome gift.

Monday, April 20, 2009

E is for Everyday

With some exceptions here and there, I crochet (or now knit) every day. One of my many guilty pleasures is TV, but I can't just sit and watch it. I used to scrapbook in front of TV, back in a world before helping hands and hungry dogs, but now I can't leave anything out on the coffee table, and I'm way too disorganized to bring everything out and put it all away.

The funny thing is that for the number of hours I spend with yarn on my lap, I don't have too awful much to show for it. My numbers of FOs are low. Or maybe it's the size of the projects. I do make a lot of blankets. But I wonder if you counted the stitches in a blanket vs a sock on US 00's how much difference there is.

And besides, it's not all crocheting. I mean, I do actually watch some of the shows. And eat dessert. All work and no play, right?

Here's a peek at my latest project. It's going to be a racetrack rug. It's an oval of green with rounds of this loopy stitch for grass, then a black "track" then more "grass" and a felt backing sewn on the back. It's for Deuce's birthday. I'm slowly changing his room over to transportation theme.

''m halfway through the track now. I hope to have the crocheting done this week. I'm getting bored of SC round and round and round, and am excited for the loop stitch again and the background. Little by little...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

D is for Double Crochet

Wow, back to ABC-Along (thanks Carly for reminding me that we're way behind!)

My D is for double crochet - my worst stitch. It's actually my fastest stitch, but it just comes out so loose. I have to go down 2 hooks sizes from what's recommended for the yarn to get gauge. I'm glad I have it figured out now because it's used in so many blanket patterns.

I made two blankets while I was pregnant, and before I realized the importance of gauge. I love this blanket because Deuce and I spend many happy hours wrapped in it nursing. It is also full of holes. Like, holes between stitches. Not my best work, but it's sentimental now.

This one is a basketweave pattern of FPDC and BPDC, and this one I realy should have swatched. The pattern squares aren't squares, plus there's a halfer at one end. Really bad work. The only thing I like is that it has a round of reverse single crochet that makes a nice edge.
More recently, I've made two Seija Sets, and on these I used the hat as a gauge swatch (apparently that's an Elizabeth Zimmerman trick. Who knew?) These I'm much more pleased with because they don't look so sloppy. Actually, the blanket in the photo could do with a machine washing and a stiff tug at the corners, but that will come soon enough. It's a baby set after all.

So there's a tour through some DC, I stitch I think I've mastered.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Not too shabby

We've made some pretty serious progress landscaping the house in the last week. The first step was to remove the original landscaping, then step back and enjoy a clean slate. Check out what DeuceDad accomplished this weekend!

All along the porch were three 5 ft high shrubs. Yes, only three of them. They took a chainsaw and a stump grinder to remove.

I basically just wrangled toddler and dog, and hauled brush. So today I thought I'd contribute a little more to the yard cleanup and demo-ed the "planter." I use the term planter loosely as nothing was planted in it.


Was reduced to this... (don't ask where the grass went. It's only April in upstate NY, which, sadly, is too early for grass)

... and this...

Deceiving how many bricks were in there because many of them were buried. Yes, buried in the earth. When people retire they need to take up golf, not burying masonery supplies in the yard!

After that satisfying demo, it was lunch time and time for some more domestic pursuits. Spring cleaning has created unprecidented amounts of laundry. (2 days, for reference, and contains pillows):
All work and no play makes me hungry for cookies, so I whipped up a batch of these lovelies!

Those are Amish Sugar Cookies, with spring M&Ms added. I hadn't had this recipe since my grandma moved to senior living, so maybe 7 years ago, and I forgot how delicious and fine-textured they are. The M&Ms actually kind of take them down a level. They would have been better substituted for chips in the tollhouse recipe.

But back to the cookies at hand. This is an awesome recipe I need to put back into regular rotation and is from my Grandma Anne - no idea the origin (but if you had to guess? maybe the Amish?).

Amish Sugar Cookies
1 C butter, softened
1 C vegetable oil
1 C sugar
1 C confectioners sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
4 1/2 C flour
1 t baking soda
1 t cream of tartar

Combine the butter, oil and sugars in a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat 1 minute until well blended. In a separate bowl, sift and combine flour, baking soda and cream of tartar. Add to wet ingredients and mix to combine. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 375 for 8-10 minutes. Enjoy!
Makes 5 dozen.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Free Labrador!

Up for adoption is one Labrador Retriever, no papers, eight months old, neutered, microchipped, friendly with young children! Comes filled with cheesecake!

(At this point I hope you're thinking "CHEESECAKE?" Why would a dog come filled with cheesecake? Oh, because HE ATE ONE and it's IN HIS STOMACH.)

And now you know why I want to give away the dog. My plan for a post-Easter post was to tell the tale of the cassata cake. History, recipe, pictures. A real foodie post. Unfortunately, I chose to bring said cake up to room temp on our sideboard at dog height. Then I chose to shower. I think I could have pulled off one of those things and ended up with an intact dessert, but not both. My brown furry friend decided to jump up, eat the delectable cinnamon crust from all the way around, most likely consuming a few chocolate chips out of the perfectly-textured ricotta filling in the process, leaving the cake unable to be consumed by people, let alone served for a holiday.

I would have loved nothing more than to take his tags off and push him into the street never to be seen again.

But I couldn't. After only a month, I have a real soft spot for this animal, Marly tendencies and all. How can you help but love an animal who loves Deuce this much?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

My First Million

Photos that is! I have saved roughly $900,000 dollars on photo developing by using a digital camera. I now take photos by the hundreds (per day!) and develop a tenth of those. Still too many, but I'm sentimental.

We took 466 photos in less than 4 days in California. I had to delete some on day 4 because I didn't bring a second card!

San Francisco Bay from Hyde St.

Me sniffing wysteria in someone's front yard

What a great trip! I don't know if I've really mentioned it here, but we went to San Francisco, then Sonoma for my BIL and Carly's wedding. My parents watched Deuce for 5 days and actually called to say they were missing having him around. I was sure they would have had enough, but I guess he was great. Too young to miss us? That's what I'm sticking with ;)

We had Gunny neutered while he was begin boarded. No pics of that - if you want to see a dog's empty sack I suggest becoming a vet. It seems all the animals in this house are missing parts. We have the fang-less cat and the ball-less dog. Animal self esteem is at an all time low, and number of stitches is at an all time high.

Will post more pics soon. I'm not done processing all yet. I took some time out to watch Biggest Loser. Got to have those priorities straight.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Being Grandma

Catching up on some blog reading, while Deuce is in his just-woke-up stupor, and read this. Kaiser Mommy did a really interesting sort of survey of the life of her grandmother, pointing out the admirable qualities along with some of the troubles that hid in the lives of so many women in that world before women shared their struggles with moms groups, blog readers and therapists.

And of course the comparison to her own life is eerily familiar. Jammies? Check! Kid in front of TV? Check! Dishes that didn't fit into dishwasher last night still on counter? Double Check!

I am still looking at this time at home as an extended weekend. Sure, there are things that need to get done, but soon (how soon?) I'm going to go back to work and not have all this time to enjoy Deuce, my hobbies, and house shoes. I'm living it up!

Should I exercise regularly, and keep a housework schedule? Obsotootly. But I'm not that person regardless of my job, my kid, or anything else. I hope my grandma, Kaiser Mommy's grandma, and all our grandmas felt happy at the end of their day.

Phew, sentimental!

I'm going to go feed my kid maple syrup and then try to keep up. I think that's what Grandma would have done.