winter

winter

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Fiber Fluff & Stuff.

So, my friend Jim the Odinsman has just gotten into knitting. It's been exciting to watch the stuff he has been posting. It is equally exciting to see how excited he is about this new craft in his life. He is a little self-conscious about his mistakes, but, honestly, he is doing a lot better than I was when I first started out. My rectangles and squares came out lopsided and could only be called such in the loosest of senses. He seems to have a natural knack for keeping his tension even. I'm still not good at that and I've been trying to figure out this knitting stuff for about eight years now. (Not counting the time when I was eight and my Grandma K. tried to teach me. That was just a mess and I gave up.

Somehow, things came full circle. After Grandma K. passed, I inherited some of her knitting stuff and among the fist full of knitting needles was that purple set of circular needles she gave me when I was small and I handed back in great frustration. I also discovered the sweater she had started for me when I was much younger. It is half finished and it looks like she ran out of the same style of yarn for the back. It is bitter sweet. I'm still trying to figure out how I'm going to approach the matter. A part of me says I should try to finish the thing, another part of me says that it won't fit me, and then I've got yet another part saying that it would be better to use that yarn for something like the baby hats for the NICU at Strong.)

My spinning got interrupted last week by the snow days. I wound up spending more time trying to keep the kids out of trouble than I did spinning. So, I am attempting to get more done this week. I am still using that rainbow colorway that I was before. I have switched from the turkish spindle over to the french spindle. This is not because the turkish spindle is full as much as I really want to do a 2 ply yarn from the singles off of the french spindle. Because it is tricky to work with that super fine stuff, I am going to spin up another full spindle on the french spindle. I am starting to get kinda close to that. It helps that I figured out how to make what I am calling a 'table top' distaff.

I picked up one of those silly things that look like a giant lollipop with smaller lollipops inside. Because the 'lollipop' opens up into two hemispheres, it has a very stable base when I am resting it on the open side. Inside the sphere portion, there is a plastic divider with holes that the sticks for the lollipops go. I figured out that I could pop that divider out and pull out the styrofoam block inside. I then filled it with some stones and popped the divider back in. The side with the divider is where the 'stick' of the thing attaches. So, I wound my fiber around the end of the stick pointing up in the air and secured it like I would on a larger distaff.

Wouldn't you know it, the darn thing is perfect for using a supported spindle at the table. It stands up a little bit over a foot, which means I'm not waving my arms around like a madwoman. I have found that this means that my shoulders don't bother me so much and my arms are less likely to get fatigued by it. I also found that it makes stopping spinning an easier affair as well. Instead of somehow wrapping the fiber around the spindle when I set it down, I can just wind the single up on it until I can rest the tip of the spindle in the bit of fiber where the drafting triangle is. Nothing gets unspun or tangled. It just sits there nice and tidy, waiting for me to come back and work some more. I think this was a great idea and I'm very pleased with how it is working.

I am almost on the last third of the ducky scarf. It is coming out a bit shorter than I anticipated, but I have a plan for how to compensate for that. I'm going to add some buttons and a loop for closing the two sides of the short scarf around the wearer's neck, like some kinda fancy cowl or something. I've seen a few interesting ideas that I am trying to decide which is going to work best. Still, I am going to finish this damn thing because the gift is now three months late. It is very annoying for me.

It is still the beginnings of this large shawl/cloak that I am crocheting. It has 5 points, including the two ends as one point where they meet. I'm making it up in shades of purple. I will be doing some white in this as well. The idea was inspired by looking at a chunk of amythest. I'm pretty sure that I don't have the right number of points for the crystalline structure, but I'm not going to worry about it. I am in the planning stages for Yule gifts. I am seriously thinking about making something with Pi on it, like a scarf or something. The other thing that I am considering is that I may do something needlepoint. As I was falling asleep last night, the idea hit me that I could do something cross stitch with the number 3.15 shaped to look like an apple. I may have to play around with that to figure out how to get it right. But it could be super cute.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

9 Patch Entrelac Washcloth (Crochet)

This is a really simple washcloth. If you know how to do tunisian crochet, this is probably one you could do almost in your sleep. The first square is made with a foundation row of 7 stitches. You pick up 6 stitches, plus the starting loop on your first pass. Do your return pass as per usual. Make six rows. Then do a cast off edge for the seventh row.

Turn your work 90 degrees. Pick up 6 stitches in the edge of the first square. Adding the loop from the final stitch of the earlier section, you should have 7 loops on your hook. Do your return pass as per usual. Repeat the process that made the first square. When you do your cast off edge, you have two options. You can bind off when you finish casting off or you can slip stitch down the edge to the join with the first square. Which ever you choose, when you get to the part where the new square joins the edge of the old square, start working for your 7 loops as if your were starting that second square over again.

Repeat this process for the next two squares. This should give you what looks like a plus sign. Bind off your final stitch and (if you haven't already) break your yarn. Change to your secondary color. Pick a corner. Work from the outside edge of the second square to the outside edge of the first square (that corner where everything joins). Pick up 6 stitches, including the first chain loop (which I joined with a slip stitch, it is unnoticeable in the final project). Chain one at that last stitch you picked up, then do your return pass. After this, you will pick up for your forward pass one stitch in each stitch across except for your final stitch in the row. That stitch, you will pick up going through the edge of the square beside you. Return pass is done as per usual. When you have your 6 rows done, cast off as per usual and when you get to the final stitch, cast off as if that final stitch is a single crochet through that stitch in the other square. Break off your yarn and then move to the next corner.

When you have all of the outside corners done, change yarns to main color. Single crochet around the edge of the whole work. At the edge of the outermost corners of the outside squares, work 3 single crochets into the corner. When you return to the first corner, work a single crochet and then slip stitch to the first stitch of the round. Then work a round of half double crochet. When you get to that 3 stitch corner, work one stitch into the first of the three, one stitch, a chain, and a second stitch into the second stitch of the trio, and then one stitch into the third stitch of the cluster. When you come back to your first corner where you started, work one stitch into the side you come up to, the one stitch, chain, and a second stitch into the slipped stitch, and then slip stitch into the first stitch of the round. After this, work a round of moss stitch. At the corners, you will work a 3 chain space rather than a single chain space. Slip stitch together after two chains for the final corner worked where you are joining with the beginning of the round.

I used cotton yarn for the main color. The secondary color is acrylic. I think the cotton yarn was called psychadelic from Sugar and Cream (I am not entirely sure, and I have since recycled the ball band.) and the acrylic yarn was an odd bit of the Red Heart Super Saver called neon brights. The combination of cotton and acrylic works really well on pots and pans. The acrylic is scrubby enough that it can take baked on stuff off with a bit of elbow grease but soft enough that it won't destroy your nonstick pans. (It also works really good on crock pot crocks with out scratching it up to bits.)

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Monday Menu


This week's menu is pretty simple.

Sunday is pizza night, as per usual. I was planning on making french toast casserole for breakfast but looking at my pantry, I think it is just going to be waffles.

Monday is going to be a busy day because the kids are off from school. (Superintendent's Conference day.) We're going to be having pancakes for breakfast. I picked up two small packages of mini-pancakes. Because I can't manage to make a decent pancake to save my life. We're probably going to be doing leftovers for lunch, but it may turn out to be something else entirely. I'm going to let the kids pick if they are not too much trouble in the morning. Dinner is hamburgers, as per usual. And I will be making my usual peanut butter carrot salad for dinner.

Tuesday is going to be a cereal for breakfast day because we're all going to still be adjusting to the time change. My boys have school, so I am just doing lunch for myself. I made some nice vegetable stew based off of the West African peanut stew and the West African vegetable stew on my Pinterest board. I whipped that up for lunch today and had enough left over for three days of lunches. I didn't put onion in it because the onion I had turned out to have gone bad. And I didn't add chicken to it because I wanted to keep it mostly vegetarian. Dinner this night is going to be baked chicken on root vegetables. I have parsnips, potatoes, carrots, and a squash. While the squash is not a root vegetable, I have been wanting to have squash for a little while now. So it is getting added to the mix.

Wednesday is not going to be pancakes for breakfast because I am pretty sure that the two small packages are not going to last past one morning. I may try to do something like make french toast sticks the night before for the kids to have in the morning. I am going to have oatmeal. Lunch is going to be something I grab while I'm out and about running errands. Dinner is going to be this super tasty pot roast stew that I have in this Cooking for Two cookbook that Beloved and I got as a gift from somebody years ago. The nifty thing about it is that it features a turnip. It is kinda hard to find recipes that feature turnips for some reason. I, however, may be looking in the wrong places too.

Thursday is going to be cereal for breakfast. I've got a big thing of cheerios that we really need to eat up before it goes stale. Lunch is going to be something I grab while I'm out running errands. Dinner will be lentil chili. I am having a hard time finding where I put my container of cashews. I may have to pick up another one when I am out.

Friday is going to be waffles for breakfast. Lunch is going to be that stew I made today. Dinner is going to be General Tso's chicken for Beloved and I. The kids are getting chicken nuggets. I think it will go well.

Saturday is going to be busy. In the morning, I will have to get the pork roast started in the crock pot before I go out to spinning guild with my mother in law. I am going to try to pack a lunch for her and I as I did last week. I need to talk to her to find out what she may be interested in. I want to do what I can to make stuff a delightful little moment of luxury when we're having our day out. If I can manage it, I am going to try to add something involving really awesome, high quality chocolate. Because you gotta have a little chocolate once in a while, right?

I am posting this a few days early. Life looks like it is going to be super busy over the next several days. So, I am putting this up tonight. It is my hope that I am going to get things organized enough to start posting regularly again.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

A Life of Its Own!

Simple changes often lead to bigger changes. That seems to be how it works out. I started keeping a 'Control Journal' after reading about the thing on FLYLady.com and thinking about how it would make it easier to keep track of everything. Somehow, I have found myself at a place where that big ol' binder is not quite enough for me. I realized that lists help me but I needed a daily schedule. And I realize that the big binder was too big for that purpose.

So, I picked up a smaller binder. I put in a few sections already and I am going to be slowly adding to it as I go along. I still use the big binder but it is now where I do my weekly planning and my monthly planning. My daily stuff is in the smaller binder. The first section has my daily agenda.

The times slots are broken up by hour. I highlighted the things that go over an hour. Right now, the yellow highlighter is for my schedule on Keen. If I have to change a block, I put an 'X' through it. If the 'X' is for the whole hour, I block off both blocks of the section. If the 'X' is for a half hour,I block off one section. Less time, I note what time the other thing is happening. Right now, my schedule is in a bit of flux as I get everything ironed out. As you can see there is a lot of 'open' time. I expect this is going to change as I go ahead.

I have a section with my daily task list.That is pretty boring, so I didn't take a picture for you. After
this is a section with my Zone Cleaning lists. If you look in the bottom right hand corner of the daily page, you'll see a note 'Z1'. This indicates that I am working in Zone 1 that day. So, I would open up my binder to the Zone 1 cleaning list. I would then check off what I got done in that 15 minute cleaning session. I anticipate some things are going to be done in only one session and others are going to be done faster. I also anticipate that this is going to turn into even the stuff that takes longer going faster as I get more stuff back to a fairly clean condition most of the time.

It is as though my efforts to put my life in order has taken on a life of its own. I'm not going to complain but I am a bit bewildered. Somehow, in the midst of all of this, I have found time to get stuff like late Yule gifts finished and more time to work on my spinning. I dare say all of this is actually working out well. Despite my having migraines multiple times over the last few weeks (thanks, crazy weather) and my life getting disrupted some by the kids being on break last week, I am still getting stuff done.

Oh, here's the travel coffee mug cozy I made for Kate's dad. It was going to be all crochet but I got annoyed with it. So the bottom of it is about four rounds of double crochet before I just knit it all. When time came to cast off, I was having trouble making it stretchy enough to fit right. So, I whipped out the crochet hook I used to start. I cast off with a single crochet for each stitch and a chain stitch between them. I think it actually came out looking pretty nice. The yarn is from Red Heart. It is called Neon Lights.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Worn down, but whatever.

Today was a kinda long day. The kids are home on break. I have the lingering effects of a cold. It was not a great combination. Still, I managed to get out and get a walk in, socialize a bit, and get the kids to play at the park for a little while. The lake is not completely open water, but there is a marked decrease in the ice covering it. That wind blowing across it made my hands very uncomfortable as I was trying to do some knitting while the kids played. I guess, however, it was not a bad thing. I mean, shivering does burn calories, right?

I have made some big changes to my diet. I have dramatically cut down how much carbohydrate I have been eating and equally dramatically increased the amount of fiber and protein. This has resulted in my feeling full more of the day with out a huge difference in how much I eat. I am also making a point of cutting out things like processed foods and artificial sweeteners. I don't have much love for plain yogurt, but I am eating it anyways. I am just adding fruit to it. So far, I think the biggest challenge in that area is the fact that the kids have been eating the strawberries I picked up to put in the yogurt.

Still, it is healthy and they're getting good eating habits out of the matter. Honestly, I'll buy more fruit if it means that they are eating stuff that is better for them instead of a ton of sweets. We're still having some fighting over eating dinners that are not chicken nuggets or their favorite sandwiches (PB&J/PB&Nutella for Snuggle Bug and Ham & Cheese/Pizza for Cuddle Bear). I am finding that involving the boys in making dinner is making them more likely to consider eating some of what we make.

Dinner tonight was scalloped potatoes with ham. I used a bacon alfredo sauce in it with a lot of cheddar cheese. It came out pretty good, in my opinion. I made sure to eat only one serving. When I found I was still hungry afterwards, I had the peas left over from dinner last night. (That was hamburgers with peas.) I have been cutting down on the amount of bread that I am eating. It is not exciting. I am not entirely thrilled with having my sandwiches with out bread. I assemble the stuff for my chicken salad sandwich on the plate like a salad, put a big pile of bean sprouts on the side, and then eat the whole with a fork. It is an intermediate step between the salads I was doing last year at about this time and what I was eating for lunches up until this week.

My goal is to get myself back to eating a diet that is more heavily based in vegetables. I am not completely sure how I am going to do so. Portion control has been a big part of what I am doing right now. I am also stopping myself when I want to go get a big scoop of ice cream or something. I ask myself if I really am hungry. If the answer is yes, I then get myself some vegetables. Not as much fun as ice cream, but I want to be healthier. So, I am going to make that sacrifice.