30 May 2023

There and Back

Hello - I hope you had a good weekend, and if you were in the U.S. that you had a good Memorial Day weekend. We got home from our trip to WV yesterday afternoon about 3 p.m., and this week we are both on vacation, so it was nice to sleep a bit late this morning and be able to take our time getting going.

We were really lucky on our trip - no traffic anywhere, and perfect weather! We did see a really pretty sky on Friday evening as the sun was setting:

A LOT of time was spent just sitting on the porch and laughing:

On Sunday, we went to the Backyard BBQ festival at Oglebay Park, where there was live music, good food and drink, and a bourbon tasting (I don't really like bourbon, but I tasted some - it was fun!). The others tried the various BBQ places, and said that the food was really good. The music was great, and there were lots of doggies waiting to be petted!

After spending some time at the festival, we walked around part of the park, and saw some others enjoying some snacks:

We had a great picnic on Sunday, and as I said, since the weather was perfect, we were able to grill outside, and spend the early part of the evening outside. We had to come inside later because everyone wanted to see the finale of the show "Succession." It was so much fun watching with a group - usually I see the entire episode, while The Tim falls asleep about 15 minutes in ... then he watches the episode on his own and we compare notes. But being able to watch and comment with others was really fun. (None of us predicted the right person to take over, in case you are wondering.)

And then it was Monday morning, and time to get on the road. At one point in the trip we stopped to get something to drink, and this woman was in front of me in line. Keeping it classy along the PA turnpike:

The kitties were very glad to have us home, even though they really like our cat sitter. But of course she only stops in twice a day to feed them, whereas generally one of us is always around to serve them. 😉

Today will be a day at home, relaxing and doing some small-ish errands. We will likely make a day trip to the Jersey shore one day, and we have plans to meet up with my niece Amanda and her husband Pat this coming Saturday to spend the day in Annapolis. 

And we have to celebrate. Technically, Saturday will mark one year since Alfie joined the family. But since we will be gone for the bulk of the day, we are going to celebrate on Friday. We figured that would work better, since we will be at home, and he is unlikely to mind, since getting extra treats, etc. is a good thing no matter what day it is, as far as he is concerned!

So it will be a nice, leisurely, but fun week for us. Works for me!

26 May 2023

Long Weekend Ahead

I hope those of you in the U.S. have a good Memorial Day weekend. I know for a lot of people, this is the "unofficial start of summer," and they look forward to it more than just about anything else. 

I don't like to think about the beginning of summer, my least favorite season, so I just look forward to the long weekend. 😊

But I do look forward to more choices for fresh fruits and veggies, particularly anything that includes "-berry" in its name. And later today, we are headed to WV for the holiday weekend, and it will be fun to see everyone and hang out on my sister's front porch.

And I'm looking forward to next week, when myself and The Tim are on vacation. We both were able to take the whole week off, so we have some day trips planned, and will likely try to do some of the kinds of things you need both people to do (i.e., bank stuff, home repair loan) - you know, not fun, but necessary to move forward with some things. But interspersed with the day trips, and without any other schedule, it will be wonderful. I'm not sure we could be more excited if we actually were going on a week-long trip!

So no matter what you are or are not celebrating, or where you are or are not going, I hope you enjoy this weekend, and can spend some time doing exactly whatever you're in the mood to do. 

And don't forget the reason for Memorial Day while you're at it. Brave people should always be remembered and honored.

22 May 2023

And Now I'm Kind Of Obsessed

Hello and Happy Monday! (I don't know if that's a thing. But I hope your day goes well, in any case.) 

We had a good weekend, nothing big, but everyone was in a decent mood, and yesterday especially the weather was lovely. It was busy at the yarn shop, but not crazy, so that was good.

Today I'm getting my hair cut, and I'm looking forward to it. It's time to go super short for the summer, so even though it's already what most people think of as short hair, a lot of it is getting cut off. 😀

Then I have a couple of small things I want to do, before I sit down to knit for a while. Right now, I'm working on a summer top and I must admit to being kind of obsessed with knitting it. I'm almost at the point where it will be joined in the front to make a V-neck:

I'm loving this so far! I did have to do a lot of ripping back and re-doing with the increases on the sleeves, but at last I'm on track. The stripes are making me happy, and I like these two yarns together. The coral-ish is some really deep stash yarn from MadelineTosh called Pink Grapefruit, and the lighter shade is a new acquisition, Fiberstory Fave Sock in the Barely colorway. I really didn't have enough of the Pink Grapefruit to do a whole top, and I didn't like anything else I had with it, so I could justify buying the other yarn in order to get some stashbusting accomplished. 

I'm knitting the Rock It Tee, and skipping the mohair for the alternating stripes because a) I want to be able to wear this in warmer weather, and b) because I'm just not that much of a mohair person. I like my version much better, LOL!

I started a couple of other things, but right now this is the one I want to work on all of the time. Which is fine, because maybe I'll actually finish it and be able to wear it in the time of year it is supposed to be made to wear! Of course, I'm also seeing this as something that would be fine under a blazer, a sweater, etc. in cooler weather. So I think it will be something really useful in my wardrobe.

And that's it from here for right now. I hope you have a project that is making you happy, and that the week treats us all well.

19 May 2023

Friday Funny

Sometimes it seems that this applies to us as well as our guests! 😀

Have a good weekend.

15 May 2023

FO-rogging I Shall Go

Hello there! I have nothing terribly exciting to report, I'm afraid. Remember these socks I've been knitting?

Yeah, I did finish them. And you know what? I'm going to frog them. I finished knitting them, and tried them on, and they are fine, but I don't really like the fit. Just overall, not in one single place I can re-knit and fix. I know if I left them as they are, I would just never wear them. And though I have plenty of yarn left to give these away and knit another pair for myself, I'm not sure who I could give them to, since even if they fit someone else better, I have no one who would take the care to wash them without having them start to shrink almost immediately.

I generally wash my handknit socks in the gentle cycle, and then hang them to dry. I have found that it keeps them from shrinking and/or getting somewhat felted. I used to just put them in the wash and the dryer, but they didn't last very long that way. And after all of the time knitting them, it killed me that they were finished after only a few wears.

So, I'm planning to frog these, and either re-knit them using the frogged yarn at some point, or used the frogged yarn for something down the line and make another pair with the leftover yarn for myself. I like the yarn too much to just toss the one pair and start another. So it will be reclaimed, and all of it put away to knit another day in another way.

I'm disappointed, but not really upset or sad. I think I've finally reached the point in my knitting life when I'm just as happy to start over and have something work better as I am to start something the first time ever. I'll live, and besides, it's only knitting, right??

I hope we all have a good week, full of fresh starts, or happy continuations. Take care.

11 May 2023

Just Say No

And I don't mean Nancy Reagan's drug crusade here. I'm talking about telling yourself "no" when you are tempted to say things that well, you maybe should have considered just a bit longer.

For example - at the yarn store, you can call and make an appt for a private lesson if you feel that you need it. It can really be for anything - maybe you don't know how/don't remember how to cast on, or maybe you have been making a pattern that is asking for short rows and you've never done them before. It costs $36.00, and you get someone's undivided attention and help for an hour. Which seems like a good deal, if you ask me.

Tuesday, I had one scheduled for someone who wanted to learn how to weave in the ends on their project. Most people who come in for lessons are nice, and grateful that you can teach them something they didn't know before and they can take their time learning how to do it with someone right there. Then there are those like the Tuesday Lady. Oy.

She was close to the end of knitting a scarf and had used multiple balls of yarn, so she had several ends to work with. But before that, she wanted to know "how long a scarf should be." I asked her if she was using a specific pattern, because the pattern would tell you. But no, she had a moss stitch pattern that she was repeating. So I said, "Well, the one answer is that it can be as long as you want it to be, or as long as the amount of yarn you have to knit it." To which she responded, "How long is that?" Sigh.

So I said, "Some patterns have you knit until the scarf is 60 inches long" (because one pattern I have knit long ago suggested that), and she wanted to measure what she had. What she had done so far turned out to be 59 inches, so she had another inch to go. She then said, "Will you do that for me?" and I told her no, but I'd be happy to sit while she did it. (Spoiler alert: She was not pleased with that answer.)

Then we moved on to weaving in the ends. I showed her how to do it with two ends, and then said she should give it a try. She said she didn't know how, so I showed her once again. It should be noted I had gone very slowly, explaining each movement. Then I said she should try it. She did one, and it was fine, but she then declared she didn't like doing it. I told her she wasn't alone, it was a part of a project that a lot of knitters didn't like. So then she said, "Then you should do them all." I said I'd show her one more time, and then she absolutely had to do the others. Which she did, and they were fine, and she bitched about it the whole time, because she didn't want to do it. 

Then she proceeded to knit another inch to finish the scarf, and she bound off and said that she "couldn't possibly weave in that last end, it was just too much." But I refused to do it for her (this is supposed to be to teach YOU how to do it), and she was not pleased. Then she handed it to me, and said, "You need to block this now for me so that I can give it to the recipient." I told her that we did block things for people, but it was not free and was done with the understanding that it would be done when staff members had the time to do it, and that we charged for the service.  It may not surprise you to learn that she was not pleased. Apparently a store where she used to live was "full-service." You went in and said what you wanted to make, they helped you choose yarn, took your measurements and wrote up a pattern, you knit the pieces, took them back to the store and they seamed, blocked, and finished them, and you "ended up with something really beautiful." Good for them, you know?

Finally, she kept asking me if I could recommend someone in her area who could help teach her more about knitting, and find a knitting group. She lives in a far away suburb (a very wealthy one) that I have heard of, but don't even really have a clear idea where it is on the map. So I said, I wasn't familiar with the area at all, but I know that a lot of public libraries have classes or provide spaces for knitting groups to knit, so she should look into that. And she responded:

"I'm NOT going to a public library. I HATE libraries. They let anyone in who wants to come in, and no decent people go to libraries."

At which point, I told her that I had spent my adult life working in libraries first as support staff, and later as a librarian, so I had no more ideas to share with her.

Now. At this point, the average person *might* have said, "Oh, I didn't mean all libraries," or "Oh I'm sorry if I offended you," or some other thing that you knew they didn't mean but they were saying because they were embarrassed. 

What did this lady say? "I'm not surprised. Only someone who had worked in libraries would make me do all of this myself."

And this my friends, is why it's a damn good thing that my parents taught me manners, and that I was in a professional setting and knew I had to behave as a civil adult.

But oh, she has paid for it all in my imagination, let me tell you! 😉

[Editorial note: I "made" her weave in 8 ends and knit 1 inch herself to finish the scarf. And then I guess "made" her have to block it herself.]

08 May 2023

It's All Because of Kym

A few times on her blog, Kym has talked about how she has a large cookbook collection, and decided that she was going to choose a book each month and cook one recipe from it each week. Her reports about successes and fails - plus just using the cookbooks - really inspired me. Plus it sounded like fun!

So I decided to give it a try, starting in April. And, much like the fitness project where I sucked in my niece Amanda and my friend Lisa, I sucked them into this as well, because it seemed like something they would enjoy. I know both of them have a LOT more cookbooks than I do, and they love to try new recipes, so why not use resources we already have? 

For my first attempts, I chose a book that Lisa had actually sent to me a while back:

I remember when I first received it, there was a recipe for Chunky Creamy Mushroom Soup that I'd wanted to try, but I never had enough mushrooms on hand when I'd think of it. So that was going to be my first recipe to make.

Now personally I don't feel strongly one way or another about Chrissy Teigen (apparently she is the singer John Legend's wife and a former supermodel?) - but apparently at some point she either had a cooking show, or was on a cooking show, and Lisa decided she was legit - hence the gift of her book. Having said that, in general, Lisa takes much more time and care on a daily basis cooking meals than I do. She is more than happy to spend the bulk of a day prepping and cooking, whereas I enjoy that level of things when I'm in the mood.

So - how was the Chunky Creamy Mushroom Soup? Well, I can tell you that the recipe was well-written, easy to prep and understand, and the resulting soup was absolutely delicious! We had it with a salad and some of The Tim's homemade olive and rosemary sourdough bread, and both of us absolutely devoured it. Needless to say, I used mushroom broth instead of the called-for chicken broth, but if anything, it gave the soup an even more robust flavor. This one will go into regular rotation, especially in cool/cold weather, when we love soups for dinner.

Next, I decided to try the Vegetable Tortilla Stew. I was amused when I read the intro to this recipe, because she says she wanted to include a recipe for her vegetarian friends, even though when making it she wanted to add chicken - but she kept it vegetarian. Except, she committed a classic non-vegetarian mistake - she used chicken broth! 😊

Anyway, this one required more prep and something new for me, but I was determined to try it (and I used vegetable broth, LOL). When I was tasting it while cooking, I thought it was nice and spicy, but I knew the true test was when The Tim tried it because he likes spicy at a whole 'nother level than I do. His verdict? "I don't even need to add a lot of hot sauce to this." I consider that a true sign of a successful dish! So that's another one that we'll have again.

And the "new" thing in this recipe? It has you make tortilla strips fried in oil. I am generally deathly afraid to do anything even close to deep-frying, because I have a fear of things going south quickly. But I decided to give this a try, because it wasn't deep-frying per se, rather frying the strips in more oil than I would ever generally use, and getting it to "fry" temperature, but since it was smaller scale, I figured I'd brave it. And the good news is that a) they were delicious, b) it worked just fine, and c) it wasn't nearly as scary as I was thinking it might be. 

Having told you all of that, I realized at the end of April that there were four weeks in the month, and I'd only remembered try the recipes in two of the weeks ... whoops! 

So far in May, I'm doing better (you know, with all of one week under my belt). Just as a teaser, here's the cookbook I chose for May:

I'll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, thanks Kym! This is such a fun challenge, and the three of us are really enjoying it. For anyone reading and thinking of giving it a shot, I'd say do it - it's really fun, and why not use a cookbook, even just occasionally, if you have one?

03 May 2023

FO Post: Parisian Apples

Sorry to have disappeared there for a few days - things got a bit crazy at the end of last week, and then I worked on Monday, filling in for someone, and this is the first chance I've had to sit down and properly write a post.

You may remember that I had started a hat a few weeks ago:

It zoomed along pretty quickly, when I had time to work on it, and pretty soon I had a nice amount done.

And very shortly after that, it was crown decrease time!

And now - voila!

Project: Parisian Apples 
Pattern: Chelsea in Paris, by Christina Lundborg (free on Ravelry)
Yarn: Loop Sprig held with Loop Posy, both in the colorway Apple
Needles: US size 4 and 5
Modifications: None
Notes: Shortly after I started working at the yarn store a young woman came in and bought a skein of these two yarns in this colorway and said she was going to knit a beret. I remembered that I had this pattern in my Ravelry library, and I just think the Apple colorway is so perfectly red, that I went ahead and bought some myself. 

I got caught up in knitting other stuff, and then decided that this would be one of the projects I would make once I finished my cardigan. I knew that I would be making it and then putting it away to wear next winter, bur that was fine.

The yarn is really nice to work with, and the two together make a lovely hat. This was my first time using mohair in a project, and though I'm happy with the result, I don't see myself knitting with mohair regularly. It was easy enough to frog a few stitches with it, but it would drive me crazy if I had to take out rows in a sweater or shawl or some larger project. Having said that, I have enough of both yarns remaining to knit either another beret as a gift, or something else so I'll knit with mohair at least one more time ... 😉

I have mixed feelings about the pattern. Overall, it was good. But when you are doing increases after the brim, the pattern says, "increase by x stitches in the next round." Which is fine, but I prefer it when it says either "increase every x stitches," or "K4, kbl," or another specific instruction. I was just annoyed that every time for a few rounds, I had to stop and count and do the calculations. And granted, sometimes the counts would mean that you increased every 4.5 stitches (meaning you had to decide when for yourself), but it was just annoying. Especially when the decreases were very specifically written out. 

But then again, it is a free pattern ... so you get what you pay for, right?

I found it amusing that after blocking, when it turned it to the inside to finish drying, it kind of looked like some weird mollusk:

I like wearing berets, because they fit closely around my head and ears, but have room on the top rather than being tight. Of course I know you are supposed to wear them like this:

But really, I wear hats for warmth, and how warm would that be? Nope, I wear berets down over my ears, but maybe that's just me.

Or maybe it's because I am not French. C'est la vie, right?