Monday, April 28, 2008

A Sheepy Pin

I finished the sheep pin kit. I think I'm going to have to watch over my house plants until I bring him over to the shop! He moved right in. He was a lot of fun to knit and I love how he turned out.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

An Easy Meal

It's been a busy couple of days for me. I haven't quite gotten over the crud that's taken over my body and so my busy schedule has made me very tired! It couldn't be that I'm out of shape and getting older could it? I need to get some exercise and so I've put the ticker on the side of the blog - you may notice my great success with my program - NOT :-) It's the weather, right?

I'll start out by telling a funny story on myself. But don't tell the Compadre OK? He was off visiting his mother and I was cooking for myself. I'll be honest and admit that if I'm the only one eating that usually what I do is scrounge whatever is easiest - and that might just be microwave popcorn and canned soup. But I was feeling like making an effort so I cut a few pieces of the bread machine bread that I had on hand and made myself some french toast. All was going well until I decided to heat up the syrup. We keep it in the refrigerator - some people think that it's OK not to but, you know, better safe than sorry and all that. Anyway, probably because it's cold in the fridge the syrup crystallized. I know people that throw away their honey and syrup when it crystallizes but it's not necessary. All you have to do is heat it up and the sugar in the crystals will dissolve and the crystals will be gone. So I did that, I took the top off so that it wouldn't explode in the microwave and heated it. Then I took it out and put the top on and since the crystals weren't all gone I shook it, and I shook it some more, and I shook it really well! And then I looked at the counter, and the cabinets and the floor and the carton of eggs... I'm sure you know what happened. I forgot to look and see if the little top was closed. And I was totally oblivious to the fact that I was spraying syrup all over. If one of my kids had done that I would have freaked out! No one to blame but me. I cleaned up the mess and the Compadre came home and never knew what happened. I wonder what he'll think the next time he gets an egg out of a carton with syrup all over it though.

This is a recipe I tried from the box of recipes that I brought home from Aunt Ann's house. She wasn't sure if she had tried this one and if it was good or not. Her note on the recipe says "Sounds easy and quick. Try it" So I did and she was right. It's easy and quick and it is good. It made enough for us to have for two meals so I cooked all the meatballs and then froze them on a cookie sheet. I'll just have to take them out and add them to sauce and simmer them until thawed for another quick meal. I used a bottled spaghetti sauce - cheating I know - but after all
this is supposed to be a quick and easy meal!

Meatballs with sauce

1 slice bread
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 egg
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic (I used prechopped bottled garlic)
1/4 c. chopped onion
salt and pepper to taste
1 30 oz. jar spaghetti sauce
Spaghetti pasta, cooked
grated Parmesan cheese

Soak the bread in water for a few minutes. I used bread that we had previously cubed and dried and it worked just as well. Squeeze the bread with your hands until dry and discard the water. Reconstituted bread!

Combine the bread, ground beef, egg, 1/4 c. of Parmesan cheese, garlic, onion, salt and pepper and mix well with your (clean) hands. Divide into about 12 meatballs and roll in your hands to form smooth balls. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes or until your instant read thermometer reads 165 degrees.

Simmer spaghetti sauce and meatballs in a saucepan for about 10 minutes and serve with cooked pasta. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I've been knitting

It's been a time of finishing old things and starting new things.
I finished these socks some time ago but haven't shown them to you. They're made out of Tufutsies yarn on the sock machine. This isn't my favorite yarn - you can see the ugly pooling of colors and it was hard to do on the machine. But it should be a comfortable sock to wear in the summer.

I just finished teaching a class at Double Ewe that featured short row
dishcloths. We did the Lacy Round Dishcloth and then I did a Four Corners Dishcloth so that I'd have something to graft together at the last class. They all did so well learning a provisional crochet cast on, short rows and garter stitch grafting! You can see that I can't talk and graft at the same time - there is one wonky place in the graft on the Four Corners Dishcloth. I'm not that much of a perfectionist, after all it is just a dishcloth, so I didn't rip it out for a third time :-)

I started the Hemlock Ring Afghan and I'm already up to row 44. It's all bunched up on my 24" circular and so you really can't see anything yet. I'll take a better picture when I switch to a larger cable. I'm really enjoying this. I sat on the deck on Monday when it was so nice out and knit on it all day. I'm at the point of starting the feather and fan part and Amy tells my that it gets more boring. She has one almost done that she's doing for a mother's day present for Eric's Mom. Better get going Amy!

Tuesday at open knitting night, Kelly asked me to make one of these for a shop sample. It's beaded knitted sheep pin. It's been so much fun and it's turning out just as cute as the picture in the pattern. I have all the knitting done and now comes the finishing. It comes as a kit with everything that you need except four 0 needles and a beading needle and thread. It's not for the easily frustrated, maneuvering those tiny needles and strings of beads all the while knitting with pearl cotton is tricky. But it's doable and got easier with practice. I'm thinking I'll offer a class to make it.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Almost back to life

I’ve been sick. I’ve been whiny, feeling sorry for myself sick. I apologize to those that I’ve whined to (you know who you are). I’ve been sick enough that I really haven’t done anything of note. I did teach my knitting class at Double Ewe but I’m feeling rather guilty about that because I hope nobody gets what I have. Other than that, I’ve canceled out of every busy activity that I had this week. In case you think I’m whining on this here blog – I’m not. Really, even though I’m not over this bug, I’m feeling much better today. It’s amazing how much you appreciate your health when you’ve been sick for a while.

When I was working, getting sick was a two edged thing. On one hand you got to stay at home and you didn’t have to work but on the other hand, well, you were sick. Now, getting sick is just such a waste of time. But since I couldn’t face knitting, painting, quilting, cleaning or anything else on my list, I took the time to read a bunch of books. I have a pile of books that I’d been meaning to get around to reading but I’ve been too busy. So I didn’t read any of those books but I read other ones. You know how it goes – whatever you “should” do isn’t what you really want to do. But I was sick and so none of the rules applied and I read what I wanted to. Wait a minute, I make up my own rules about my life so shouldn’t I be able to read what I want any time? I’ll ponder that. The Compadre went downstairs and brought up a stack of books from our overflowing bookcases for me to read while he was at work. I read through the 3rd volume of Chicken Soup for the Soul, a very old Mary Stewart novel, the Yarn Harlot’s newest book, finished the book about Fred Rogers, and I read two books that I want to tell you about.

The first, Never Miss a Sunset, by Jeanette Gilge is out of print. It was published in 1975 and I can’t remember buying it. Maybe it came from a garage sale. It’s one of those heartwarming pioneer hardship stories. It’s a fictionalized true story that takes place in Wisconsin in 1903, during the time that they were turning the forestland into cropland. The thing that struck me while reading this book while I was sick was how very lucky I am. I have modern medicine at hand. I can take any number of things to help me get over my sickness and to just feel better while I’m sick. In the central story of the book the mother of the family (of 10 children) has a still born child and gets a post partum fever and almost dies. She had this fever for weeks, all they could do was sit by her, pray, and cool her with cold cloths. They didn’t have aspirin, ibuprofen, penicillin, or even a hospital. I can’t even imagine how much she would have suffered. And this is not just a story – this kind of suffering happened all through history. Penicillin wasn’t discovered until 1928. We live in amazing times and we just take it for granted. So next time you’re prescribed an antibiotic for an infection, give thanks!

The second book I want to tell you about is also about Wisconsin. This one, Population: 485, is by a current author, Michael Perry. It’s subtitled Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time. I took this one out of the library because of a review on one of the blogs I read. But I read so many that I can’t remember who recommended it. Whoever it was, was right! Michael Perry really has a way with words. He makes his town of New Auburn, Wisconsin come to life as he tells his stories about being a volunteer fireman. As a first responder, he sees things that you and I hope to never see. His stories about his life and the others that he works with and meets along the way are fascinating, all the more so for me, because my brother in law is a retired fireman. This is one of those books that reminds you of the fragility of life. It’s also one that I’m going to have to have in my own personal library. I recommend you go get it and read it too.

The Compadre took good care of me while I was so sick. He went to the store and brought home Nyquil, he fetched things for me and he made dinner several nights. He makes the best pancakes. He’s a very creative cook and knows just enough about how things work with food to be dangerous. He developed this recipe over time and with a few disasters that live on in family lore. You see, one the the ways to make a batter rise is to combine baking soda and an acid. In pancakes you often see buttermilk as the acidic ingredient. Well, we usually don’t keep buttermilk on hand so one of the ways around this is to put some vinegar or lemon juice into the milk to acidify it. And here’s where the Compadre’s creativity got going, imagine using ranch salad dressing as the acidic ingredient in pancakes. Yeah, he still gets teased about it (like right here on this blog!) But the Compadre doesn’t give up easily despite the family’s groans, blechs, and “I won’t eat its”. He continued to experiment until he got the perfect pancake recipe and I’ll share it with you here. It’s really simplicity itself. As he says, it’s all ones.

You’ll need:

1 cup flour

1 cup milk (or one cup water and 1/3 cup dry milk powder)

1 egg

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

1 rounded tsp. orange juice concentrate (this is the acid)

A little bit of oil

Measure all these ingredients into a bowl and whisk them together. Put a little more oil onto the griddle and heat it until a drop of water skitters around. Pour the batter onto the griddle using a small metal measuring cup. This recipe makes enough for 2 hungry people. When we had all the kids at home we tripled the recipe.

Every family has its comfort foods that you reach for when someone is sick. One of the ones that we always turn to when we have a sore throat or a fever or stuffy nose (all things I have recent experience with) is Russian Tea. It’s completely artificial, very sweet and just the thing you want when sick. I never drink it any other time! I measure all the following ingredients into a glass jar and shake them until mixed completely. It keeps forever as long as it’s in an airtight jar. Use a couple of tablespoons per mug of hot water or to taste.

2 cups Tang

½. Cup instant tea (unsweetened)

1 cup sugar

¼ tsp cloves

1 tsp. cinnamon

Dash nutmeg

You can add a pkg. of unsweetened lemon koolaid if you want – we never do

Monday, April 14, 2008

Hobnobbing with Famous Knitters

It was a busy weekend for knitting in the Twin Cities. It started on Thursday with the Yarn Harlot. The Yarnery sponsored Stephanie’s visit and I went with my friends Betty and April to see her. The weather was, let’s say, challenging. Everything from rain, sleet to snow fell on us and we did have to walk a ways to get to the auditorium on the St. Thomas campus. We got a little wet. But knitters are a hardy bunch. And the Yarnery and Stephanie entertained very well. It was like a giant knitting night with prizes and entertainment. I saw some amazing examples of the art of knitting being worn. But I was a bad blogger and forgot my camera at home! This is a picture of us holding each other's socks that Betty took and kindly sent to me. You can see videos of the “Yarnery Family Singers” on Shelly Kang’s website. They were the warm up act and they were so funny. I did wait in line (we were given numbers as we came in and it made it so orderly and fair) for Stephanie to sign my book – and one for my daughter. Why is it that I always feel so dorkish when I go to a book signing. I’m just basically shy and don’t know what to say. Oh, well, Stephanie was gracious.

Saturday was the Yarnover event that the Minnesota Knitter’s Guild puts on every year. Vendors and classes from famous teachers and Franklin was even there this year to take pictures for his 1000 knitters project.

I took 2 classes. My first one was Enviable Invisible Seams, taught by Ann McCauley. She’s written a book called The Pleasures of Knitting: Timeless Feminine Sweaters and she has another book coming out in the fall. She had many of the models from her two books there for us to see. She is a wonderful, patient, teacher and I learned a lot about finishing knitting. I’ve always felt I had to do seamless sweaters because I’ve been afraid that seaming a sweater would make it look lousy. I think that now I’ll be able to have the confidence to make a sweater or anything else that has seams and know that I can put it together right.

While I was on break from this class I popped into the room next door where Franklin was photographing knitters and I asked if there was a spot left for me to add my name so I could have my picture taken. They worked me in right away after the next knitter and right before Miss T. Franklin was very easy to talk to and I didn’t feel like a dork at all! It was kind of disconcerting to be chatting to a big black camera lens though. We did have a slight disagreement about whether his niece Abigail or my granddaughter Abigail is the cutest though. I think we parted friends, even though neither of us was willing to give an inch. Perhaps there is room for two cutest Abigails in the world.

My afternoon class was Celtic Cables taught by Melissa Leapman. Another excellent teacher. Melissa wrote among other things the book Cables Untangled. She ran the class with a firm hand and we worked hard. But in the end I learned a lot about how cable charts work, how to read and execute a complex celtic cable and even a little about designing my own if I so choose. We learned an amazing 1 to 7 increase and a 7 to 1 decrease. Because cables pull in the knitting when put in the middle of a piece you need to increase right before the cable and decrease right after. When I did it Melissa’s way they were nearly invisible – the cable was the star of the show and there weren’t any holes or puckering. Way cool! Melissa happily signed my book at the end of the class. I’m anxiously awaiting her new book that’s coming out in October. She had some items from the new book along too. Wow, is all I’m going to say.

I only bought two things at the vendor area. I had already decided to buy another of Jennie the Potter’s mugs and I took care of that right away when I got there. Jenny kindly held it for me until I had time to run it out to the car.
Oh, and Compadre - I only bought one mug - this is three sides of the same mug!

And as I was going by, I got snagged by the display of Tulip sweaters at the Coldwater Collaborative booth. They had kits in the Dream in Color yarn and so I’m going to be making Abigail another Tulip cardigan in the 12-18 month size. Oddly, my pattern came in only one size so I had to buy the pattern too! Well, at least I know that it’s a stupendous pattern and that I’ll be definitely making it again. By the way, Coldwater Collaborative has kits that include the pattern for larger sizes too. And I think that she said even adult sizes! Might have to consider this some more…. I love making that sweater – so fun.

By the way, I'm having to moderate the comments because I got a nasty one from a "Logan" that invited me to "fix" my computer by clicking on a link. I'd already been warned about this by my friend April and so I deleted it immediately. I'll be screening comments so if your comment doesn't show up right away it's because I haven't gotten to it yet. I love your comments but that "Logan" is not welcome!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Some Beery Recipes

I bought some beer. Not for drinking but to cook with. I had 2 recipes that I wanted to try that have beer in the ingredient list. The compadre will have to help me out and drink the rest of each bottle though, (whoops, while I wasn't looking he drank a bottle). While I was at the liquor store I got a lesson in the difference between an ale and a lager. One of my recipes specifically calls for a lager. So the gist of what the young man told me is that ale is easier to brew and takes less time and is more bitter. Lager has more steps to the brewing process and has to sit for a while. It’s less bitter. Doesn’t matter to me – I can’t stand the taste of any beer. But I’ll try cooking with it anyway.

I had
wanted to make Caramelized Onion Pot Roast from the Betty Crocker Slow Cooker Cookbook when I first saw it but we didn't have the beer. Beer in pot roast - I suppose it's there to aid in tenderizing the meat. And to add a certain flavor. We liked the result - but maybe not enough to make a special trip to the store for the beer. It was different and the onions on mashed potatoes were wonderful.

Here's what you'll need:

A 4# boneless chuck roast
olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
6 medium onions, sliced
1 1/2 cups beef broth

3/4 cup beer
2 T. packed brown sugar
3 T. dijon mustard
2 T. cider vinegar

I browned the meat in a cast iron skillet with a little olive oil. Then
I seasoned it with salt and pepper. While I was doing that I put the onions in the bottom of my slow cooker. It's hard to peel and slice that many onions without tearing up! Mixed the rest of the ingredients with a whisk and poured over the beef and onions. Then I cooked it for about 8 hours on what I've decided is low on my slow cooker. I served it with mashed potatoes and we put the onions on top. Yumm.

The jury is still out on the other
recipe that I tried with the beer. I want to try it again and I'll give you a report about Almost No-Knead Bread next week.

Oh, when I'd used all the beer I
needed for my recipes I had about a quarter of a cup left in the bottle. The compadre was at work and being of a frugal nature I didn't want the beer to go to waist, no I mean waste, so I decided to try it. It wasn't so bad - maybe I could learn to like beer...but only if it's a lager - less bitter remember!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Random Things

The Compadre thinks that I don’t give him enough credit for the bread baking that happens in this house. We disagree on who’s made the most bread. He likes to make dinner rolls for holiday dinners and he makes bread for the two of us often. It’s just that he likes his bread, shall we say, less baked than I do. Last time he made bread and he had me decide when to take it out of the oven and it still came out underdone to my taste. He loves it. Hmmm, can this 32 year marriage last.

I don’t get it…. Gas prices are over $3 and traffic still hasn’t slowed down. We were on the freeways in DC going to the airport and the speed limit was 65. My sister was going about 72 and we were the slowest thing on the road. Don’t people know that if they slow down they will use less gas and spend less money and less of the our money will go to the dictators and terrorists that control the world’s oil supply. The government website says that for every 5 miles you drive over 60 mph you pay an extra 20¢ per gallon or as the Compadre says, an extra 7%. Ouch! So if you’re going 15 miles faster, just think, you’re effectively paying 60¢ per gallon more than you should! That’s based on $3 per gallon so the more the price goes up the worse it gets. And it seems the bigger the vehicle the faster they go.

I went to the small city where my Aunt Ann lives this weekend and drove a little slower. The posted speed limit on the 4 lane highway I drove on, was 65 and I drove 60 (in the right hand lane). Most people passed me but a few were going my speed and I did catch up to a few. But when I got to the city freeways I felt unsafe going slower than the 70 miles per hour posted because of the level of traffic and the speed that most were going. Why is it that out in the “country” more people understand that driving slower is better economics. It did take me longer to get where I was going but slowing the pace of life is a good thing! OK, end of rant.

You know, I really did like my job. I had a moment of grieving for it while we were in Maryland. The kids there were in school and we were discussing something about school lunch and I really missed being in the thick of it. I’ve been retired now for 3 months and it still hits me sometimes. But these old knees are still not any better and I know that I made the right decision. Still…

I love receiving comments on my blog. Because I use Blogger I can’t respond back to comments directly – I don’t know your e-mail address. Sometimes I can find you because I can link to your website and if you have your e-mail addresses on your website then I’ll try to send a personal response back. I really appreciate your comments. It lets me know that people really are reading what I write and it’s fun too. So if you don’t hear back from me, know that I really am glad you commented and I thank you.

I just talked to my son John. We were talking about getting old (he’s 30 years young!) and he said that he noticed a sign that he’s getting old. He’s all excited about getting a cool new recycling bin from his garbage hauler. I understood completely! It’s the little things in life.

I came back from my visit to Aunt Ann with a shoebox full of her recipes. We went through about half of the recipes that she has written on index cards and selected the best. I’m working on entering them into my computer and I’m going to make a recipe book out of them. A lot of memories were shared and I got most of them on a voice recording. What a fun weekend! I feel very responsible for these recipes – I need to get them copied ASAP and back to her. She said if she needs one she’ll call me and I can dictate it back to her. At 80 some years old she doesn’t have internet or even a computer so I can’t share my work back to her electronically.

I’m working on knitting swatches for the two classes that I’m taking at Yarnover this Saturday. I’m teaching a knitting class at Double Ewe tonight. I was at DE last night for knitting night and I’ll be there on Friday also. I need to make the sample for the class that I’m teaching next Wednesday at DE. Miss T and I were talking and she asked what happened to the lying around reading books part of retirement! The funny thing is – I have several books that I requested from the library that are due or overdue and I haven’t gotten around to reading them! I can’t renew them because someone else has requested them so I put my name on the list to request them again. Maybe next time around I’ll have time to read them!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Down Home Country Cooking

I love church cookbooks. Or any other organization's cookbooks. I have quite a collection of them and I've found that I can usually trust the recipes in those cookbooks to be good cookin'. A few weeks ago my friend Michelle gave me a cookbook that fits into that category and then some. She said she'd never use this book and would I like it. Would I like it!! This book is so cool to me - a former military Mom. Amy was in the Air Force and while she was never deployed so I've never been a blue star mother myself, I have great sympathy for those who are. So Recipes from Home by the Blue Star Mother's of Minnesota is just fascinating to me.

Most of the recipes are from Moms in southern Minnesota and feature the kind of food that you'd find at your typical country potluck (Minnesota term here). My sister in law has relatives in southwestern Minnesota and so I've been to several potluck type wedding showers with great food. Well here are the recipes. Where else are you going to find Snicker Salad (which I've had and it really is great) which calls for 2 tubs of Cool Whip, 4-5 cut up apples, and 4 cut up large Snicker bars. You mix it up and eat it right away! No redeeming social value here but it sure tastes great!

Some of the recipes are named so and so's favorite. It's especially touching to think these are the favorite recipes of some of our soldiers "over there". By the way I couldn't find an internet link but the address in the front of the book, in case you would like one, is;

Blue Star Mothers of America
Department of Minnesota
P.O. Box 45
Sauk Centre, MN 56378

I tried two recipes out of this book. The first was Beef Stew by Linda Schmiesing, mother of SGT Lisa Schmiesing. Another great crock pot recipe. I didn't take a picture of it because it was very similar to pictures of other stew like recipes I've made previously - and also because I'm a bad blogger and I was just lazy. But take it from me - this was a good basic stew recipe.

My version takes:
3 carrots, cut up
3 potatoes, cut up
2 pounds beef, cut up
1 cup beef stock
1 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 bay leaf
1 spoon of bottled minced garlic
Pepper to taste
1 tsp. paprika
3 onions quartered
1 stalk celery with tops, cup up

Put all the ingredients in your crock pot in the order they're listed, stir just enough to mix spices, cover and cook on low for 10 to 12 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours.

I brought the recipe book along on our trip to Delaware and the following recipe was one that my sister had been looking for, for a while. It's called Monkey Bread and isn't the same as what I have thought of as monkey bread but it's good too. We made it twice while we were there and enjoyed it thoroughly both times. Finger lickin' good!

You'll need:
4 cans Country Style refrigerator biscuits (we used 2 large cans of biscuits)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
3-4 tsp. milk

You unroll and cut up each biscuit. In fourths if you have the smaller biscuits or more if you have the larger biscuits. I think that my sister cut up the larger ones in eighths but use your judgment - you want bite size pieces here. Shake the pieces in a plastic bag with the sugar and cinnamon a few at a time. Put them in a bundt pan. You don't need to grease it. Bring the butter, brown sugar and milk to boil for 1-2 minutes and then pour over the biscuit pieces. Bake 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees. Oh, this recipe can be divided in half - which is what we did.
Put them on the table in front of a hungry teenage boy and watch them disappear!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Three Yarn Shops and a Quilt Shop too

As I mentioned yesterday my sister had figured out that there were two yarn/needlework shops near Bethany Beach where we were staying last week. Because it was off season one of them, The Spinning Wheel, in Fenwick Island was only open on the Saturday and Monday that we were there. So we had to get there right away and as it turns out we went twice - on both Saturday and Monday. This is the shop where I got my Paton's Street Smart booklet, and a few other things.... Now I can copy the Yarn Harlot and make the Must Have Cardigan.

I've recently learned how to do punch needle embroidery and so I picked up a few kits and a book. And some knitting needles that I thought I would use during the week. It was for one of those projects that I, in my overly ambitious planning, brought along and didn't even touch - but now I have the needles for it!

The second shop was Sea Needles in Bethany Beach. By the way both shops were lovely. Sea needles was jam packed with stuff. It was here that I found the first of my "souvenir sock yarn." The store had sample socks done in these colorways and they were very cool. I'm sure that the Fortissima yarns are available to me locally but I hadn't seen these particular colors before and they'll make great socks - either by hand or sock machine. The baby book has some cute patterns that I better start soon. Couldn't resist - Abigail was right near and looking so cute herself!
I also picked up a 12" addi needle to try for socks. Hope it works. And Anchor brand crochet cotton is hard to find. I use it for tatting - and see the cool case for my tatting. My sister found the cute frog case at JoAnn's in the clearance bin when we got home so I shouldn't have bought it. Bummer.

I made my string bag for the sale at Stitches with Style while we were at Bethany Beach so that I'd be ready to go for Saturday's String Bag Sale. Amy had traded pattern revision skills for her string bag with her friend Jen so she was ready too! So as soon as Abigail was fed and ready we hopped in the car for some more serious shopping! By the way Abigail loves to shop too - as long as she's tucked into her sling. Amy had planned what she wanted and when we got to the store zeroed in on her yarn for the Pretty as a Peacock Shawl. I knew that I wanted Eco Wool for the Hemlock Ring Afghan and some more "souvenir" sock yarn. Alpaca and nylon sock yarn - I'm anxious to try it! I got some Tahki Classic Cotton too - Kelly, you should carry this stuff! My sister wants a scarf that we saw on display and she actually bought the Classic Worsted yarn. I'm not sure if I'm making the scarf or if Peter will be advanced enough with his knitting to tackle it. It's called Not a Celebrity Scarf and is a free pattern from the shop. It's very similar to the Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf and uses a lot of short rows. Looks like a fun thing to knit. Hmmmm, maybe I should teach my sister to knit...

My sister doesn't knit but she quilts, scrapbooks, and cross stitches. So she was very patient with Amy and me while we spent looong periods of time in a yarn store. But we knew from Amy's friend Jen that there was a great quilt shop nearby. The Quilter's Hive was a nice store and I almost got out of there without buying anything. After all as the Compadre says I start quilts but never finish them. But my sister found packs of fabric that apparently had been kits and they were color coordinated already and they were only $5 each..... And then there was the bag pattern that my sister found that I had to have too. When I'll get to these I don't know.

Then of course the challenge was to stuff all this "stuff" that we bought into our suitcases for the trip home. Remember that Amy made 9 bears for the Mother Bear Project. She also had ordered some yarn for me from Knit Picks to make up enough for free shipping - you know I was coming out anyway and so I could just bring it home with me. We considered borrowing a suitcase from Amy that had originally been mine, but by using our expando capabilities and our great packing skillz we got it all in. Then came the great weigh in. Our suitcases were just under the 50 pound limit and we passed! I don't know what we'll do when the airlines limit us to just one suitcase each! I have to admit that I did look at some of the travelers that had light loads with envy. But I had fun admiring all my treasures when I got home. Now to practice some restraint in the face of Yarnover and Shepherd's Harvest. Ha, ha, ha!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

What I Did on my Vacation

Question: is it possible to be on vacation from retirement? I was in Delaware and Maryland last week while everyone in my previous job was at work. How’s that for cool! This week they are all on spring break and I’m here at home “working” on knitting, cooking, putting away all my stuff that overflowed from my suitcases, and all the other stuff that a retired lunch lady does.

So, did I accomplish anything while I was gone besides playing with baby Abigail? I depends on whether you count going to outlet malls, knitting stores and watching endless episodes of Law and Order and Mythbusters. (We don’t have those shows at home because we refuse to pay the outrageous prices that Comcast wants).

The weather was really too cold for walking the beaches except for Wednesday when we did go to Ocean City and walk the boardwalk. I can only guess from the miles of mostly closed trinket shops how crowded it must be during the “on” season. But we found stuff to do. My sister had scoped out the yarn/needlework shops ahead of time and we were able to find them without trouble. We even went to one of them twice! The outlet shops in Rehoboth Beach were a serendipitous discovery. My sister and I both needed new jeans and she loves L.L. Bean and I love the VF Factory Outlet. She did much better than I did at finding her size but I did get one new pair of jeans and one pair of shorts that fit perfectly. Another Question: why is it so hard to find jeans in sizes for slightly larger than average women that actually come up to the waist? Don’t the manufacturers know that older women also buy jeans? That’s why I was so excited to see the outlet stores because we knew that they’d have something in our size. Then there was the Carter’s and Oshgosh outlet stores! Abigail is now going to be the best dressed 6 month old this summer courtesy of her Grandma and Great Aunt!

So between shopping and beach walking and watching TV (I can’t work on something while watching TV because I can’t hear it without watching it) I made a string bag with one skein of Hempathy, finished a soap sock that is the prototype for the class I’m teaching at Double Ewe, tatted two crosses, and started a pair of baby Uggs. Oh, and I brought my stitch marker stuff along so I could make markers for Amy. Of course I had many more things along to work on – I always am waaay more optimistic about what I can accomplish. I actually brought enough yarn to make a sweater! My daughter Amy though, is much more single minded about her knitting and gets much more done than I do. She made this pile of 9 bears for the Mother Bear Project (3 of them on this trip), a pair of child size socks in the Coriolis pattern from Cat Bordhi’s new book (sorry I didn’t get a picture but they are very cute), and worked on the second of a pair of socks. She is a fearless knitter – she started the sock with a tubular cast on and found the coriolis socks to be easy.

One other thing that Amy and I did. We taught my nephew to knit! I started a hat in the round on a circular needle for him and he is knitting along like a pro. As with most new knitters he’s knitting a little tightly so I’m not sure about the size of the hat but with practice he’ll even that out. He’s a fast learner! Great job Peter. And I just wasn’t thinking – I didn’t get a picture of him with his knitting. But he did hold Abigail for a while…

I’ll fill you in on what I bought at the three yarn shops and one quilt shop that I went to, tomorrow. I’m a little worried about putting it all out in photos for the Compadre to see!