Ladybug Socks! Mexico!

We are back in our favorite place in Mexico again for a week. So far the weather has been perfect, and we’ve had a terrific relaxing time. I finished my latest socks this morning.

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I’m not doing the whole “Finished Project” thing. It’s Opal yarn, the Ladybug color, from deep stash. Knit on size 2 mm needles, usual plain vanilla sock with ribbed cuff. I keep forgetting that Opal has very generous yardage, I could have knit the cuffs quite a bit longer.

Here are a few photos from our trip so far. We came this year with neighbors from home.

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You can probably see why we keep coming back here!

Yes, I Am A Dork

I realized earlier this month that it will be 36 years this year that I graduated from medical school. Where the hell did the time go?

I decided to make a big splurge and update all of my hard copy medical texts. I tend to use a lot of online resources “on-the-fly” when I’m actually seeing patients, but do have a need often to return to actual texts. I can always read those online through my work medical library, but it’s not always the latest version, and I have trouble reading scientific stuff on an iPad on a routine basis. With technical texts, I find that I need to flip around to find stuff, and refer to the index a fair amount, and find that more annoying on a device.

So here they are.

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The only one missing is the pharmacology text, which is coming later this week.

The dork part is that I’ve been pretty damned excited to have these show up. I’m also really excited that I have a monetary allowance at work for education and books, etc. I’m glad I’m not a freshman medical student for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which is the expense of textbooks.

I’m also hoping that there is a reference in there somewhere to the treatment of hernias and back strain, because I suspect my poor mailman has both after lugging all those to my front door.

Happy New Year’s Eve!

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Don’t forget to gather your ingredients for your New Year’s Black Eyed peas!

Once again, as a public service, here’s my sort-of recipe for BEP’s. I say sort of, since I don’t actually follow it exactly, this is just a guideline.

1 biggish onion, chopped

4-5 cloves of garlic, chopped

Celery, about 3/4 cup chopped

1-2 large carrots, chopped

1 Bell pepper, any color will do, chopped

Olive oil

Blackeyed peas, 1 pound bag, picked over and rinsed

1-14 ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained (use the juice if you like it more tomato-ey)

Chicken stock, canned

1 bottle of beer

Splash of worcestershire sauce

Ham hock or ham shank (shank is meatier)

Thyme & oregano, a couple of teaspoons each

Bay leaf

Dijon mustard, a teaspoon or two

Salt and pepper

Cayenne, to taste. I start with about 1/4 teaspoon, and generally add more.

Saute the onion, celery, carrot, and pepper in oil in a big pot. Add the garlic when the other veggies are soft, cook for a minute. Add the rinsed peas, the can of tomatoes, the beer, and enough water or chicken stock to cover by about an inch. I usually use the tomato liquid, too. Throw in the seasonings, except for the salt. Add the ham hock and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook until the peas are done, about 45-60 minutes or so. Add salt to taste towards the end of the cooking time. Keep an eye on it, and add more liquid if needed as the peas cook.

Pick the meat off the ham bone, if there is any, and add it to the peas. Serve with cooked rice. If you are really lucky, someone will make you homemade cornbread to go with it.

Sleeve Island, Part Eleventy-Billion

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I actually have gotten some knitting done this past few weeks, though damned little. It’s been the usual holiday season chaos around here, with too much to get done and not enough time to just sit and knit.

I’m in that endless part of sleeve knitting, where it just keeps getting wider and wider, with ever longer rows. This Peace Fleece yarn is so lovely that I am enjoying it though. And that is a good thing, since I have enough Peace Fleece in different colors to make nine more sweaters. I keep looking at their colors that I don’t have (admittedly not very many!), but I really need to stick with the plan and not buy more until I use some of what I have.

On that note, it’s been nearly 3 months since my last yarn purchase. I’m going to try to get to a year again. We’ll see how that goes. When it comes to those pretty pretty colors, I don’t have a lot of will power!

I hope your holiday season is full of joy and peace!

Ancestors

I’ve gotten sucked down the ancestry.com rabbit hole again this week. It started when I saw a patient in my office with the same last name. We talked about possible relatives for a bit, and when I got home, he had sent me an extensive genealogy of his family. It turns out that his grandfather and my grandfather were brothers.

I had been on ancestry.com for a while, but gave it up a few years ago. Well, this spurred me on to get to work.

So far I’ve traced the Meske side of my family (Meske is my birth surname) back several generations, to my great great great grandfather in one branch, and 5 times great grandfather in another, he was born in 1712 in Germany.

We haven’t known much about my mom’s side of the family past her parents and grandparents. I was able to find the ship manifesto from when they came to this country in 1905. They were the last of the family to come over, It was my grandfather Johann, grandmother Josefin, daughter Antonina, and another daughter Gladys, who is on the ship log as Wladyslawa, I think. It’s hard to read. She was 14, and a big line was drawn through her name, with a notation that says “trachoma”. She was not admitted, and was sent back to Europe. Can you imagine that? We had heard this story before, but had not seen paper documentation of it previously. No one in the family knows what happened to her.

Here is a photo of the document.

Johann Podensky

Click on that to make it bigger. Their names are right where that dark horizontal line sits. One of the challenges of finding relatives is that a lot of names got changed when they came to this country. And there may have been multiple alternate spellings in old birth records and baptisms, etc.

I just need more hours in my day. I’m still knitting, but everything looks about the same, so no new photos.

 

Sock Project

I have been knitting socks almost since I learned to knit almost 20 years ago. Since then, I always have a sock in progress, as soon as I finish a pair,  I cast on another one.

My finished sock stash is starting to show its age a bit. I still have a dozen plus good pairs, but some of those are getting a bit thin in places. My hand knit socks far outlast commercial socks, but they don’t last forever.

I’m hereby declaring 2018 to be the year of sock knitting. God knows I have sock yarn to spare. I have yarn in those boxes upstairs to knit well over 200 pairs of socks.

Here’s what I am working on now.*

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I’m thinking I could finish those with a couple of good football games on deck.

What about you all? What are your knitting plans for 2018?

*Just because someone almost always asks, the small red spool is Wooly Nylon. I use it as reinforcing thread for heels and toes.

Sleeve Island

After a couple of false starts, I have the first sleeve well on its way. Normally sleeves are the most boring thing on earth to knit, but these cables are more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

 
The first false start involved my apparent inability to count. I finished that whole ribbing hem and then realized I had too many stitches.
 
The second false start only involved undoing a few rows. The ribbing is knit on a smaller size needle, and I was a couple of rows into the sleeve and realized I had never switched to the larger needles.
Here is a close up of the cable that goes from the cuff up the side of the sleeve.
 
 
And a gratuitous photo of Lewey doing what he does best on Saturday.
 
 
Have a happy weekend!

 

At Least I Can Knit

I woke up early yesterday feeling yucky. I hate calling in sick, so I sucked it up, got ready and went in. It should have been a sign that the cup of tea I made before I got in the shower almost made me gag. Anyway, I made it through the morning, canceled my afternoon and came home. I'm out again today, let's just say that nobody in my office would want me there spreading this to everyone else. It just pisses me off that I get this stuff, since I'm sort of a pathological hand-washer, especially at work.

I haven't been accomplishing much besides zoning out, but today I was able to pick up the knitting. I didn't work on my Rogue sweater all summer because, well, heavy wool and summer heat. But now that it is cool outside I want it done done done so I can wear it this winter.

That's where I am right now. I've finished the back, and the front up to the v-neck split. I few months away from this almost made me forget how much I love Peace Fleece, and how much I love this pattern.

This is the left front, I just finished separating the two sides.

And here is that gorgeous cable up the sides.

The pattern is Rogue, the yarn is Peace Fleece worsted weight in the color Amaranth. They have this back on their website for sale, and it is on sale, if you need some. The color is really much deeper than my photos show. Anytime I take a picture of this it either turns out pink or bright red. It's more of a deep garnet red. Here is the photo from their website.

At least on my ipad, that is much more accurate.

I'm off to try more tea and toast. Sigh.

 

Give Us This Day…

The Daily Bread:

1.5 cups white flour

1.5 cups whole wheat flour

1.5 tablespoon vital wheat gluten

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon buttermilk powder

1 cup water

1 tablespoon molasses

1 egg

1 tablespoon yeast

More flour/water if needed for the dough

I am using a bread machine for this one. My hands have gotten old enough that I have trouble kneading dough by hand, plus it is just easier. I generally use the dough setting and bake the bread in the oven.

I use King Arthur flours, they are top quality and worth the slight extra cost. You can get buttermilk powder in the baking section of most supermarkets. The vital wheat gluten is from King Arthur as well. I use it with whole wheat flours (or rye) to help the dough rise. I use about a tablespoon of the gluten per cup of whole wheat.

The yeast that I use is Saf Red Instant yeast. It is foolproof, and you can just add it directly to your bread machine with everything else.

Bread machines vary, but I put in all the liquid ingredients, then the dry on top, then turn the machine on to the dough setting. Once it preheats and starts kneading, you should check it to see if the dough needs more flour or more liquid. If it looks just a bit wet, give it a few minutes, since the flour will absorb water gradually as the machine works. If you add too much flour at the very beginning you'll end up with a brick.
Once it finishes the dough cycle, take it out of the machine, punch it down, form into a smooth ball and let it rest for a few minutes to relax the dough. Then shape it into whatever you want to bake and let it rise again until nearly double. Then bake. I'll probably do an oblong free form loaf on a baking stone with this one. I put a bit of cornmeal on my baking peel, put the shaped loaf on it, wait for the rise, then slide it into a preheated oven onto the baking stone. Try to do that part quickly so your oven doesn't drop in temperature too much. The cornmeal helps it slide off the peel onto the stone. Flour works too.
Baking temperature is more flexible than you think. I usually start at 400, but my oven runs just a bit cool. You may need to adjust if it looks like it is browning too fast. Baking time is around 20 minutes, but that depends on whether you are doing one big loaf or smaller rolls. It's done when it is nicely browned, has a hollow sound when you tap the bottom, and I use a thermometer to check temperature. 190 F is about right for most bread.
Then the hardest part, waiting for it to cool before you cut into it. This is supposed to be part of our supper tonight, so I'll try to save some for that!
Final action shot!

 

Mind the Gap!

We have had a fun couple of days in London for the start of our England vacation. John got off the plane feeling under the weather on Friday and Saturday right after we got here, so Saturday I was on my own. I walked pretty much the entire Kensington Garden park, which is right across the street where we are staying. And I found a yarn shop.

Loop London is on a tiny walking-only street with a bunch of other little shops. It's not a big shop, but it has some mighty fine yarn choices. Here's what I came away with.

There are two skeins of lace yarn from Eden Cottage, and two Wollmeise Pure wool yarn. The first two will be shawls someday, the last two will likely be small “neck things”, which I am growing quite fond of.

John is all better now, and we've spent our time being tourists, and doing a lot of walking. We've got the tube system sorted, at least for our little local neighborhood, and buses and taxis will get us everywhere else.

Here are a few other photos:

Every single tourist here takes their photo in front of one of the iconic London telephone booths.

Even better with Big Ben in the background.

There are lots of fine pubs.

We had a tour of St. Paul Cathedral today. What a remarkable place. We got there just before their midday Eucharist service, so I was privileged to attend that.

You hear “Mind the gap” about every few minutes while riding the Tube. I suspect if you are a Londoner, you don't find it quite so amusing.

And that last photo is your medical public service reminder for the day. If you haven't gotten your flu jab yet, please do so!

Tomorrow we take the train to Canterbury for another adventure!

 

22 Little Clouds

I’m finally getting around to posting some “finished” photos of this one. It’s just been too warm to think of wrapping it around my neck even for a photo. We definitely are feeling the early fall weather around here though in the past few days.

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Project Details
 
Pattern: 22 Little Clouds, by Martina Behm. This is the second one of these I’ve made. It is an easy pattern, and very versatile to wear. You also can use any amount of yarn that will give you a wearable size.
Yarn: Cashmere spun by a woman named Maliknoz, from Afghanistan. This was imported and sold by Peace Fleece.
Needles: Oh who knows. For the first time ever, I didn’t bother to write it down anywhere, and it’s already back in the needle case.
For: Me
Started/Finished: Started June 30th this year, finished August 25th
Modifications: none
What I Learned: Cashmere is a dangerous thing. This is divinely soft. I looked at a lot of different pattern options for this precious yarn, and decided simple was the best.
I predict that this one will get worn to death.
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Winter Is Coming

I did finish binding off the 22 Little Clouds shawl yesterday, with 17 grams of yarn left. I'll get it washed and then show a photo of it, but it is perfect.

Now it's time to resurrect an old project. This is Rogue, done in Peace Fleece. That color photo is pretty close to the real thing (Amaranth is the color name). I've been working on this for almost two years, so I think it's time to get this one done. I have the back done, and am working on the front. Then the hood and sleeves, and it will be my go-to winter sweater.

Here's a close up of the side cable. This photo shows it much pinker than it really is. The actual color is a deep garnet, with little flecks of blue and black. The lighter color bits seen in all of my knitting are usually Corgi fur, with an occasional silver strand from me.

I know it still feels like summer, but it has been dropping into the 50's here at night, so autumn and winter aren't far off. What's everybody planning for cool weather knitting?

 

Yarn Chicken

I am nearing the end of this shawl. This is 22 Little Clouds, and I'm making it in that cashmere yarn hand spun in Afghanistan. Obviously I want to use every bit of this lovely stuff possible.

The shawl is an elongated triangle shape, with a ruffle border. The instructions say to save 25% of the yarn for the ruffle and bind off. The ruffle section starts by doubling the stitches on the needles, so I have about 600 stitches per row. I have two rows left, and then the bind off, which will eat yarn like crazy. My last row used about 6 grams, and I have 38 grams left.

So I'm trying to decide if I'll have enough to do FOUR more rows before the bind off instead of two. That really would be playing yarn chicken, I think, and having to undo most of a 600 stitch bind off if I'm wrong would take more whisky than I probably have in the house.

Stay tuned.

 

Blockhead

It only took me a month and a half to getting around to blocking the Ruffles shawl. In my defense, it's been 90 degrees here, and I can't wear it anyway.

At any rate, I got it washed and pinned out this morning.

I just did a “down and dirty” blocking. This yarn and the garter stitch makes for a really squishy comfy fabric, and I didn't want to change that too much.

This is the first time I've used those blocking pins. They are from Knitter's Pride, and it really makes getting a straight edge easy. I would need a ton more of them to do a bigger lace shawl, but I might just fork over the money for another set. They aren't cheap, and I have a huge set of blocking wires that work just fine, they're just fidgety. I went to a local welding shop several years ago and bought a big pack of thin wires. They work just like the expensive fancy blocking wires and were dirt cheap. I'll probably think about it for a bit, it's around $25 for one set of those**, and I'd probably need a couple more for a huge shawl. I think I might rather spend that on yarn. Not that I need that either.

I'll show a modeled photo once it's dry. And maybe once the temperature here drops into a reasonable range for woolies.

**Update. Amazon has them for 20 bucks, with free Prime shipping, so they're on their way.

Ahhhh.

Sunday afternoon on the lake, me, my knitting, and the cat. It doesn't get much better than this.

I'm still working on the same projects, slowly but surely. The lovely stuff in the photo is the Afghanistan cashmere, I'm knitting 22 Little Clouds with it.

For those of you following my attempts at not buying yarn, I caved yesterday and made a purchase. I'll post a photo when it gets here, but here is where I got it from. I'm sure you would have given in as well. I made it a few days past 8 months this time. Go sign up for her newsletter, and you'll be tempted too.