Monday, July 28, 2014

Star-crossed Love

Yep. I've fallen madly head-over-heels in love. And my dear, sweet, (nearly) perfect husband just can't seem to understand and accept it. And he, so far, refuses to enable my acquisition of the object of my deep affection.

It isn't a sudden thing. I've been enamored for a few years. But yesterday, for the first time, I actually met my dearest in person. And I have to say, it is definitely true and everlasting love. I wish I had a picture of the wonderful fiber that has stolen my heart. But sadly, I don't. The shop was near closing and I had four rather impatient people waiting for me in the car outside. I thought the lady who ran the shop might object to me keeping her after hours just because I was taking selfies with her high dollar yarns.

Yes. I'm talking about yarn. What else would I be talking about? (Fabric, maybe, I guess. But I haven't been to a quilt shop in ages. And I seem to be on a knitting jag right now, for some reason...)

This is the closest picture I can find anywhere online. It doesn't begin to show how gorgeous yesterday's yarn was, but it is similar. (This picture came from here if you want to check it out.)
The lovely 100% bison laceweight that I fell for is super soft. Even softer than I had expected from reading about it online. And it knitted up into a beautiful, soft, drape-y scarf (that was lying right next to the skeins that I covet so)...
I'm working on convincing my husband that he really wants to buy me this yarn. (So far, it doesn't seem to be getting me anywhere.) But, if anyone would like to buy me an awesome Christmas present, this would be it. And she says she gladly ships. So, just let me know, and I'll give you all the details you need...  ;) Seriously. I have to be reunited with my darlings as soon as possible.
I know, I know. Nobody in my family is going to take me seriously here. Especially after they find out the price. (But they should! This is the perfect present!) My husband's replies to my ongoing campaign always range somewhere from "It costs HOW much??!!!?!" to "What are you going to make with it?" (That's an impossible question to answer. Why make me lie to you? We both know I'm not going to do anything with it at first other than look at it, and hold it, and rub it against my face, and just generally carry it around like some sort of yarn pet. It'll be months before I'm ready to actually knit with it... I gave him a short list and told him it would depend on whether he bought it all for me or not. I personally see nothing excessive about three tiny little skeins...) I have a sinking feeling that he still just does not understand why I need these yarns. And I'm very afraid that he isn't going to buy any of them... :'(
To console myself, I grabbed up a couple of small skeins and a book that will supposedly teach me to spin. (Which has been on my to-do list for years. Someday, I'll actually find the time. Probably right after I convince my poor husband to get me a spinning wheel and a sheep or two...) I haven't gotten pictures snapped of them yet, but hopefully, I will later today. I tried to be good. And I was pretty rushed, so I didn't have time to do any major damage. My husband would say that's a good thing. I just call it unfortunate. ;)
I also think that I'm about one, maybe one and a half, hours away from finishing the socks for Little Miss. With any luck, I can get that done before bed tonight. Which means that I should have pictures of those soon, too. Maybe this blog will actually see a few finished projects before long. That would be a good thing...

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Mail is Here!

My very first (and second!) box of fun is here! Yay! There was a good size box, and a slightly larger one.
The smaller box was the first order we made. It has a couple of sock patterns sized for little ones and some sock yarn for Christmas present socks. The glaringly pink and purple one is for Little Miss, in case you were wondering. She picked it all out herself. Here's a link to the post that will show you a little about the yarns. They're called Inversibles, by Fibernymph Dye Works. They look pretty neat. And the colors are lovely. I really wanted to order more than we did. Maybe next time. (The blue and green at the bottom is Hedgehog Fibers Lagoon.)
 There was also a little surprise inside- a tape measure and a tiny little snippet of yarn, designed to make you desperately want more. There were several pieces of candy inside the package as well, but they didn't stick around long enough to be photographed. (I had a five-year-old watching me very closely, and she scooped up the candy as soon as she realized I was too preoccupied to complain.)

The second box had, of course, my yarn for Camp Loopy challenge 3. It is Colinette Jitterbug in the color October Afternoon. This is the pattern for the shawl I want to try to make. The challenge directions said to use your favorite color, or a color that makes you happy, so I was originally looking for a pattern I wanted to make in green. Or possibly blue. Then I saw that shawl, and when I found this yarn at TLE, I knew it had to happen. There is a little bit of green in this, so it totally counts. :)

 This is more than the required 800 yards. I'm thinking seriously about some fingerless mitts or socks with whatever is leftover. Or possibly a hat.

Also with my Campy Loopy order was this paper. Not sure you can read it, but apparently I am in Bear Cave Ct., whatever that means. It has something to do with the forums over on Ravelry, I think.

Of course, a tiny bit of extra snuck into the order when we got the shawl yarn. (My excuse is that we had to make sure we qualified for the free shipping. Obviously.)

The two little ones are called Unicorn Tails, the white is Antler and the other is Big Sur. I showed remarkable restraint, I think, in settling for just the two. I wanted them all. The colors are so pretty. So, that's on my list to try to talk my husband into...

The larger skein is gorgeous. It is called Willow, by Huckleberry Knits, and the color is Browncoat. Quite apart from the fact that I love that name, the yarn is gorgeous. I wish I had gotten more. Like about 15 skeins more... (I did the math on that, actually. Just a few minutes ago. I was gonna beg shamelessly and see if my poor husband fell for it. But, after seeing the resulting number, I decided that I love him far, far too much to purposely give him a heart attack. Seriously. The number was that bad...)

Apparently, The Loopy Eve has some sort of rewards program. I'm not super clear on exactly how it works, but when I ordered the challenge yarn, I apparently leveled up. Also in my box were these little goodies:

There's a cute little pattern, complete with yarn. And some really great cards for gift giving. They have a place for care instructions of whatever knitted thing you're giving.

And here's how I know this was some sort of reward thingy: Apparently I am now at Sunshine Peak. Which is making some of the chatter on the forum make a bit more sense. I was sort of wondering what they were talking about when they kept saying they were headed places like "Castle Peak". Now I know. And if my husband is generous another time or two before Christmas, it looks like Little Bear Peak is the next stop. I won't hold my breath for too long on that. He will definitely want to see a lot of progress on the yarn he's already paid for.

I guess that means I'd better jump back into the knitting and get away from the computer. I'm trying to get all the rows on my shawl finished tonight before I pass out from exhaustion. Technically, I'm on the last row the pattern calls for before adding the edging. But I'm seriously considering adding a couple more rows to it before finishing up with the edging. I think there's going to be enough yarn to get away with that. I suppose I'll know for sure by tomorrow.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Coming Soon... A Finished Project at Last?

(Wow. This post ended up a lot longer than I expected it to... Consider yourself warned.)

So... I have this WIP. Or, possibly, by now I might be forced to call it a UFO... Either way, I started it way back before my Baby Girl was born. So, that's at least a year and a half. It's a sock. I might have mentioned it the other day. It was going well at the time, but I put it aside so I could knit up some adorable little socks for the impending arrival... And, then I never went back to it.

Until about a week and a half or so ago, that is. I picked it up again. I started knitting around and around. I swear I knit forever, just waiting to find the start of where I needed to turn the heel. It never came. So, I pulled out the instruction sheet and reread carefully...

There's not a heel to turn. There's never going to be a heel to turn. Because, I apparently picked up a tube sock pattern without noticing until now. I need about three more inches of this infernal thing before I can start the toes... It's taking forever.

I snapped a quick (and probably not great) picture of it:

I love the way the yarn is striping itself. And I still love the colors. But if I ever get stuck with a tube sock again... Ugh!! I definitely need a heel to turn so I can see that progress is being made.

Little Miss watched with interest while I worked on this thing during naptime. And then, she came up with her grand plan. Since this sock is way too big to fit her, she decided that, obviously, I should knit her some pink ones. Immediately.

Sounded like a pretty good idea, at the time. Socks for her would be smaller. So, we negotiated a deal. If her daddy would buy me some yarn in an appropriate, Little Miss approved color, I would make her some socks. BUT, I told her not to expect them to be finished before Christmas. (Because I obviously have to do two pairs of socks. Thank goodness the second pair will be even smaller.) She agreed to this, and promptly hit up her daddy for the money. Surprisingly, he agreed.

Judy at Patchwork Times is always talking about the wonders of The Loopy Ewe. I've snuck over to their site a few times, and OH!! The lovelies! So, we went shopping. My very first boxes of fun will be arriving tomorrow, according to the tracking numbers.

Yes. I did mean to say boxes. Here's what happened:

We went over to their site, just to find some perfect pink yarn for the socks. But, oh, the things we found! And I wanted them all. But I restrained myself. We got a little bit of yarn for socks. A pair for Little Miss, a pair for Baby Girl, and a pair for me. (My husband declined to have a pair of socks on the basis of having no plans to go and work in Antarctica.) We checked out and began impatiently waiting for our yarn to arrive. I picked up that infernal tube sock and started around again. Then...

I really have no explanation for it. I don't. I assume it was my resurfacing desire to make something- anything, really- coupled with the realization that Christmas is right around the corner, and compounded by all the glowing descriptions Judy posts of the fun she has doing Camp Loopy. Whatever caused it, I found myself actually thinking that I would like to try it at least once. I mentioned it to my husband. He said, "Whatever you think." And even when I mentioned it would mean buying more yarn (one of the requirements for participating), he still said, "It's up to you."

I promise I didn't run right back and immediately order yet more yarn. I didn't. I actually thought it over for at least 24 hours, waffling back and forth. The challenge requires you to knit an entire project from start to finish, and using a minimum of 800 yards of yarn, and only working between August 1-31. All photos proving a finished project have to be uploaded to their website by midnight August 31... Quite frankly, I'm not certain I can manage it. But I found a shawl pattern I adore, and it meets the yardage requirements. So, I finally decided to take the plunge. I ordered the yarn. And we sat back down to wait for our boxes...

Yesterday, I was wandering through Ravelry, finally checking out some of the forums since TLE had mentioned that they had a thread there to share your Camp Loopy project plans and yarn, and I stumbled upon some very disturbing news (hold onto your hats, it's a shocker): Turns out there is a yarn shop right down the road from me, and nobody had bothered to tell me!!  ;)  Yay! I immediately had to search out their website and find out hours of operation. When I saw that they opened for business in a mere hour and a half, and knowing that I was forced to go out anyway after groceries (with a grocery store less than a mile away from the shop), I had to plan an immediate reconnaissance mission- even though it meant dragging both the girls with me.

Surprisingly, Little Miss was super excited about the idea. And while she was there, she was struck with the sudden, overwhelming desire to knit. So, I had to hook her up.

As you can see, like all beginning knitters (I hope. I really can't handle the idea that I'm the only one who ever despaired of figuring this stuff out in the very beginning.) she has far more enthusiasm than skill. But she's five. And until yesterday, as far as I know, she had never even considered the possibility of trying to knit. We'll have to wait and see how long it interests her. She's having fun, and that's what counts at the moment. She's also already decided that I have to teach her to crochet "when she's ready". Not sure exactly what she means by that...

I managed to get out of that adorable little shop without too much damage. But I did pick up three balls of a beautiful yarn- Painted Desert. They had a shawl done up and it was beautiful! I had already looked at it three times before she showed me what it looked like when it was worked up. That shawl did it. Especially since she had both a knitted version and a crochet version.


                               This is color number 08, I think. I love how it makes the stripes.

I still have at least four rows left, if I remember correctly. Plus the edging. And then, I assume that it needs to be blocked somewhat aggressively. She said you just have to stretch it to the size you want it. I sure hope she was talking about blocking...

Here's a link to the pattern I'm using. The lady at the yarn shop has made at least four of these things already, and has another in progress. She didn't hesitate to grab them and stretch them out completely, either, when she was illustrating her point about the blocking... I've only had a few minutes at naptime yesterday and a little time right before bed last night to work on it, but it's going pretty quickly. I'm glad. I need it to be finished before August 1st. I'm thinking the other two balls of Painted Desert that came home with me will most likely have to be very patient and wait until September before they become anything. I'm also seriously considering going back after another ball or two of the color 18 (?) that I got and knitting it up into this.

And before anyone asks, yes, I do know that this seems to be an awful lot of shawls. Especially for a person who normally has no occasion to wear them. (And, yes, I have already made myself no less than four shawls.) Not sure why I like them so much, but I do. I guess I just like the idea of shawls. And also, they're much easier to make than sweaters. Possibly this means that I should be concentrating on sweaters and practicing, but not right now. Maybe after I'm over this shawl thing... And after I finish up with all the socks...

Thursday, July 10, 2014

It's about time! Or, possibly, this is gonna be trouble...

My Little Miss started her ballet camp this week. Here are a couple of shots of her right before her first lesson on Tuesday.
                                               I love the little bow in the back. Adorable.

Today, as I was trying to get everybody dressed, rounded up, and stuffed into the car to drive her to ballet on time, I noticed a really strange sound coming from the backyard. Listening closely, I realized the sound was coming from the chickens. In the interests of not being late, I chose to ignore the weird noises they were making and chase everyone into car seats. I figured I could deal with it when I got home. They didn't look panicked, they just sounded weird.

At naptime, I went out to investigate. My husband and I had a theory about that noise. We were right. This is the cause of all the commotion:

That noise is the sound a poor little chicken makes when trying to lay an egg. Huh. Who knew?

 Looks like seven of the ten girls decided that today was a good day. I imagine it was something of a shock to the poor little things. (Judging purely by the amount of noise, of course.) And I feel really bad for the poor girl who had to lay that one in the front here as her very first effort.

We've been looking forward to this day. And I just KNEW that those chickens would wait until I had an entire dozen farmer's market eggs in my fridge to pull this on us. (They did.) So, I guess it's eggs for supper. And maybe breakfast. And now, suddenly, I'm re-doing the math and worrying that I will be buried under a mountain of eggs that we cannot eat fast enough, no matter how hard we try...

In happier news, my husband let me order some yarn this morning. (Yes, I needed permission. It was his card that paid for it all. :) So, I suppose that means that my sweet, wonderful husband bought me some yummy yarn this morning. Yay! The only downside to that is that he's gonna want me to use it all...) I'm hoping this means that I'll start squeezing in some sort of crafting time very, very soon. Because the year is half gone, and I have officially started worrying about Christmas gifts. Possibly, I'm a little late on the worrying. My SIL has been counting down all year long (since about two days after last Christmas), so it shouldn't really be a surprise that we are nearing the middle of July, but as always- I was ignoring that. But, my girls (just Little Miss, actually, but if one gets something handmade, the other does, too) have started demanding that I make them things. Which means that I'd better get moving if I'm gonna have a prayer of churning out the desired items in time for Christmas. I'm not sure who is getting handmade gifts and what they will be yet, but I'm starting to plan. Which means I'd better get to work actually doing, as well...

All of this rambling is really just meant to say that hopefully, I will soon have a few pictures of actual craft projects to post. Maybe. (I have been canning jams and pickles, lately. Does that count as craft projects?) I have picked up a knitting project that I started back before Baby Girl was born, and I've been messing with it for a week or so. There isn't much visible progress, but we're inching there. I need about three more inches of this slow, slogging knitting before I reach a point where something different happens. Then I have to start all over again to make the match to the pair... :(  And if I ever decide to knit a pair of tube socks ever again, somebody please- smack me. Hard! It'll be a miracle if the match to this thing gets made at any point in the next three years. I obviously need a pattern that at least lets me turn a heel so I can feel like I've accomplished something. If I can find a good (and easy) toe-up pattern, that would be even better!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Odds and Ends, and June Challenge Wrap-up

Okay, I am so incredibly messed up... This post was supposed to link up with Judy's June Prepping Challenge post about the Thermal Cookers. Obviously, I didn't make it. This makes me sad.  :(
I thought her post was very interesting, as I had no idea that they even made such a contraption as a thermal cooker. Although, I have come across something called a "Wonder Oven" during my wanderings through the internet, and now I think that those might be a homemade version of Judy's little cooker. They sound interesting. Maybe if I had more time to play around with such things, I might try it out. (Although, the solar oven sounds like more fun to me.) Some of the articles I've seen about Wonder Ovens even mention being able to make bread in them. Interesting. But I'm not sure it's interesting enough for me to experiment with. Unless, of course, for some reason my husband decides to buy me one of those things... ;)
Now, on to the odds and ends part of the post...
I finally got my bread made. Although, I didn't even attempt my regular recipe. Instead, I dusted off my copy of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I've had this book for a while, and when I have room in my fridge for that giant bowl, it's handy to have some of that dough just hanging around, waiting.  It took the very last bit of yeast I had in the house, but I managed to make the best loaf of bread I've ever achieved with that recipe. And it was very much enjoyed by all.
Close on the heels of that success, today I managed to make the worst ever loaf of bread I've ever attempted, with that very same dough. (Possibly the worst loaf ever, period.) And it was completely my fault. I forgot all about my (already extremely close to non-existent) time management skills and took the dough out of the fridge first thing this morning. It should have gone into the oven about the same time I looked at the clock and realized we should already be in the car! Little Miss had a birthday party to attend. We made it, just after the stated arrival time, and thankfully, she was not the last person to show up. Whew! So, then, Baby Girl and I raced off to the farmer's market, with only about an hour and a half before they closed shop for the day... We bought tons of yummy looking produce to go with what I managed to get out of our garden this morning. Now I just have to figure out exactly what I'm going to do with some of it. And I'm really wishing I had gotten more of that garlic. He said he won't be back for four weeks! Who would've thought I would manage to use 3/4 of what I bought today. Already! Anyway, back to the bread. It sat there on the counter the entire time we were gone- way too long! So, it's no wonder it turned out to be so disappointing. I might have to try again tomorrow, after we get back from the store. (I can't believe we're already out of milk again!)

This is just a cute picture of Baby Girl that I snapped yesterday evening at supper. All week long, I make a point of trying to put fruits and vegetables and healthy foods in front of them- when I could keep them out of the stinking snack foods (which are all gone now, yay!)- and this is what they decided to scarf down... And this is what Baby Girl considers the appropriate way to slurp the tomato dipping sauce out of the cup! It's a good thing she's so cute, is all...

And here are a couple of quick snaps of my afternoon activities for the day. This is where all my garlic went.  About the only thing doing really well in my garden at the moment- and not getting eaten up by that evil critter- are the pickle cucumbers. (Too spiky to chomp, I guess.)  Although, I did manage to scrounge out a few more things today, too. But not many.

 I'm very new at canning. I've only attempted it a couple of times last year, making jam/jelly. But I love dill pickles, and since we had the cucumbers for it, I tried a recipe from Food in Jars. Well... technically, it came from her book of the same name. I bought it on my kindle a while back. And now I'm going to need the hardcopy version, I can tell.
The recipe says that now I have the jars loaded, I have to wait an entire week, or more, before they're ready to taste. I guess I'll try to be patient. I do still have part of that jar of farmer's market pickles in the fridge... I can't wait to try these, and I really hope they're as awesome as they sound, because it's starting to look like the only substantial harvest I get from my pitiful little garden might be piles and piles of cucumbers. Next batch will be her recipe for bread and butter pickles, I think...

I couldn't believe how long it took to find such simple ingredients for them, though. I found everything I needed at my usual grocery store- except the dill seed. I never dreamed it would be so hard to find dill seed. The last time I ever bothered to notice it, it was a very common spice. Apparently not in this area. I had to go three different places before I finally found any. Boy, I hope these things are yummy! But, at least when I run out, I know exactly which store to go to now!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Aggraving, Stupid Chickens!!

So, I've been trying to free range my chickens in my yard a little bit. It's been going pretty well (except for one stupid girl who insisted on sleeping in a tree a few nights ago), with them staying in the backyard, not bothering anyone... Until today. Today, they decided to go roaming. (Grr...) 

We started off pretty well. All the bird-types just hanging out in the backyard (none of them seem to like the front yard much- which isn't the best thing, because I was hoping for a little help picking bugs out of my garden...), minding their own business. So, my girls and I went down to the Splash Pad near my father-in-law to play in the water with their cousins, and on the way back we stopped for groceries. When we pulled in to the driveway, I didn't see any of the birds, but I didn't worry about it because they like to hide under the back porch for some reason. I unloaded the car, got Baby Girl down for nap, and had just finished reading our chapter with Little Miss when... the doorbell rings.

So, I answer the door and the guy says, "Hello. Um... I have chickens in my front yard?" WHAT!??!! GRRR... Yep. Those rotten little things had gone right back into the back neighbor's yard. So, I went to round them up. Where'd they go? "They were right here just a second ago..." Then I hear it. A happy little clucking noise. Right down by the road! UGH!!

So, after herding and chasing and fussing (and threatening to put them in a pot) for half an hour, stepping in every stinking spider web in the state, and sweating buckets, I finally bribed the creepy things back into their run. Then I told them to consider themselves back in prison. For the foreseeable future. Or forever. Whichever it takes. I hate that, but I absolutely can't have them annoying the neighbors. I guess this means I'll be trying to figure out how to enlarge the run- again. I hate to keep them all locked up like that...  I just need a farm, that's all... Oh, well. At least the ducks stay in the yard like they're supposed to. I hope... :(

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

June Prepping Challenge- Tuesday

It's Tuesday- the second day of June's prepping challenge over at Judy's Patchwork Times.  This month we're considering how we would cook food to feed our families if there happened to be a prolonged power outage, a subject of concern for anyone who has small children...

Today was one of those days when the kids refused to eat. They started snacking behind my back first thing in the morning and didn't seem to stop. (This is the biggest reason that snack foods are going to be removed from my house very soon. Most of them, anyway...) The only plus side to this is that Little Miss has begun automatically sharing the snacks with her little sister. I guess sharing is good. What isn't so good is the fact that every time I offered them food, they refused to eat it.

So, today would be very easy to do with no power. The only cooking done in the house was the leftovers I reheated for lunch. Needless to say, my bread didn't get made... Maybe tomorrow?

Supper was in a restaurant with my in-laws. Decent food, lovely company. :)  We ate grilled sandwiches, which would also not be too difficult with a cast iron skillet and a fire, so the only changes would be 1) we would've eaten them at home, and 2) we would've skipped the French fries that came with two of the plates. But the fruit cup would still have been simple, just all of us would've had them...

Judy's alternative cooking article today is on Dutch ovens. I mentioned yesterday that my husband has a couple. We also have a couple of cookbooks with recipes specifically designed for them. I haven't been able to try them out yet, but I plan to- soon. (I keep trying to organize a camping trip, but something always comes up. I think that would be the perfect excuse to play with them.) Eventually, my husband will be home from work long enough for one of us to wrestle the kids while the other plays with fire. ;) Either that, or the kids will both be old enough to allow me to get things done without hanging off my legs or falling into the fire pit... (Which is my biggest fear, really. They don't have enough fear of fire. They get that from their daddy- he seems to have slight pyro tendencies. This is why I can't burn candles in my house anymore. I miss my candles...)

Anyway, I love the Dutch ovens and I want to learn to use them so I have the excuse to get an entire set of them. They always remind me of the Laura Ingalls books I used to read when I was younger. (Can't wait to introduce my kids to them!) I'm glad that my husband wants to use them and is willing to learn with me (even if all he wants to make is chili). And with our woodpile, I think that this would make a reasonable cooking alternative if it ever becomes necessary. Now, I just need to practice!

I'm throwing these pictures in, just because I've been trying for weeks to get this little pucker face she makes. And because my husband's phone will not let him download the pictures we send him while he's at work...
                     So, here's Baby Girl and her cute little pucker. I have no clue why she does this.

                                                                    ...and again. :)

                                                    Little Miss also had to get in on it. :)