Oh Holy Hell

Owning a house sometimes isn't all it's cracked up to be. Those of you who've been around Chez Knitting Doctor for awhile might remember the Great Circus Tent escapade from several years back, where we basically had to remodel one whole side of the house.The saga starts here, if you are interested in revisiting it. It makes me too queasy, but it might discourage you from buying a Halloween Fun House if you look through the whole thing.

A couple of weeks ago John noticed water dripping from the ceiling in our lower level. That is never a good thing. Plumber came out, tore some holes in the ceiling and walls in a few places, and found the culprit. the water line to our kitchen refrigerator ice maker had been chewed through and was leaking. And there was a rat's nest behind the refrigerator.

So the water line got replaced, but there is significant water damage especially to our wood floor in the kitchen.

We had a restoration guy out, who tore some more stuff out, including the wood floor under the refrigerator. We have fans and dehumidifiers going both in the kitchen and downstairs. The fucking noise is about to drive me insane, which is not a long drive this particular winter.

The wall guys came yesterday, once the mess is dried out, the dry wall will be replaced, and they will paint, of course they'll have to paint both whole walls in the living room where it got torn up. The floor guys come next week. The real fun is that we have continuous wood floors in the whole main level, so the WHOLE thing will need to be sanded, stained and then sealed. Meaning that at some point all the furniture will be in a pod in the driveway, the pets will be kenneled, and we'll be moved out of here.

The good news, Part One, is that our insurance covers this. We have USAA, the adjuster has already been out. It will cover ALL of it, including the kennel, our moving expenses, and even the cost of the electricity to run the blowers for the past week or however damned long it takes.

Good news Part Two? I caught the damned rat. I came downstairs to make coffee last Saturday and heard a rustle under the kitchen counter. He was in the garbage. I slammed the door, yelled for John, then grabbed a cookie sheet pan and slapped it over the trash can to trap him. I really didn't have the will to bash him over the head, and John didn't offer, so he was carried to an uninhabited section of our neighborhood and released.

We haven't seen any further rat evidence, so I think he was a loner. I suspect one of our worthless cats might have brought him in to play with and then let him go without finishing the job. They are on notice.


Snow Day

We had a bit of snow last night, and since I'm off work today, I get to enjoy Snowmaggedon from the comfort of my own home.

In other news, I finished the Douglas Fir Hap shawl the day before yesterday. I'll get it blocked this weekend and do a photo shoot when it's dry.
Here's how the yarn chicken played out.
Less than a gram left. I ended up just doing the decreases on the tail end a bit faster. It won't show in the finished project, and was the easiest fix I could come up with, without ripping all the way back to before the decrease section and taking out a few repeats.
Happy Snow Day!



This makes me happy.

I'm sitting here early Saturday morning knitting away on my new Rogue sweater, while wearing my old bedraggled Rogue sweater.

Life is good.

The word is still out on the yarn for Douglas Fir. I'm still working away at it, it's been one of THOSE weeks.


Yarn Chicken!

I've been very slowly working away on my Douglas Fir hap shawl.

The pattern is knit end to end. You cast on a small number of stitches (30 in this case), then increase a few stitches each repeat for awhile, then knit the center part for awhile, then decrease a few stitches each 12 row repeat until it's back to 30 stitches, then bind off.
This is one of those patterns that you can use any amount of yarn, you just have to calculate how much you'll need to do the decrease part.
You can see where this might be going, right?
I weighed, calculated, weighed and calculated some more, and waded in. I'm now well into the decrease section, and playing the REALLY fun game of Yarn Chicken.
I have 16 repeats left. The repeat before last took 2.6 grams of yarn. The last one took 2.4 grams of yarn.
I have 18.5 grams left.
Now I know the repeats are taking less yarn each time around, but I'm not seeing any way here that I'm not screwed. If I'm not screwed, it's going to be very close.
Four options:
1. Buy more yarn. I've had this in the works for so long that there isn't a prayer of finding the same dye lot. There are a lot of variations in dye lots in this particular yarn.
2. Rip back to before I started the increases.
3. Decrease at a little faster pace.
4. Just throw caution to the wind and knit faster, because we know THAT always works out.
1 and 2 really aren't options. I'll never find an exact match, and there isn't enough whisky on earth to make me rip out that much. 4 is probably delusional, though I'm going to stick in a life line where I am right now and forge ahead for a few more repeats.
Stay tuned.

Deep Stash, and the Joys of Rejects

I did a little stash reorganization last month. My entire stash is photographed and recorded in a database by numbered box, but it’s gotten pretty haphazard over the years. The boxes were mostly filled by vintage rather than type of yarn or project, and that had really started to bother me. So I dragged it all out and reorganized the whole mess. I found some real gems that I’d forgotten. I also culled out a small box full of stuff that I wanted to send off to Goodwill or somewhere else besides this house.

Predictably, I’ve already dragged two lots of yarn out of that reject box and started new projects. Here’s the first one.


The yarn is Sirdar Balmoral, it’s a lovely wool/alpaca/silk blend. I bought enough of it for a sweater. The first problem is that I don’t really need sweaters with alpaca in them, it’s too warm. The second problem is that color. I’m not sure what I was thinking. Actually I do, the color name is Corgi. There you go. Lewey says it doesn’t look anything like him.

But it’s nice yarn, despite the color. And it’s been discontinued. And it wasn’t all that cheap. So I pulled it off the top of the reject pile and started a shawl. I figure I can overdye it when it’s knit up. It’s way more than a shawl’s worth, but I’ll either put the leftovers back in the reject box, or make mittens or something out of it. This is Cheryl Oberle’s Wool Peddler shawl.

The second “reject” is for John. He saw this and thought it was ridiculous to get rid of perfectly good “guy” sock yarn. This is Lang Jawoll superwash sock yarn, the color looks like a black tartan plaid.


That one is really deep stash, I don’t have a purchase date, but I probably got that not too long after I learned to knit (1999). I guess it’s probably time I used it. And John has been hinting around for a pair of socks for him. I’m not sure why it went into the discard box, it’s actually quite nice to knit with. It’s a nice, basic sock yarn, and has a bonus spool of reinforcing thread in the middle of the skein for the heels and toes.

I’ll let you know if any of the other reject yarn turns into projects in the future. It’s pretty tough to actually toss out useable yarn, even if I have enough to last well into my next lifetime.

I’ll leave you with a cat photo. Will and Zoe are getting along pretty well.


Fritz’s Baby Blanket

As promised, I’m finally getting around to posting a “Finished Project” update. I finished this right before we left on vacation in September, and then just forgot about posting.

Project Details:

Pattern: Quill, by Jared Flood

Yarn:  Frolicking Feet sock yarn, Sapphire Blue

Needles: 3.75mm

Started: 4/29/16

Finished: 9/6/16

For: my grandnephew Fritz

Modifications: none

What I Learned: Babies sometimes get born early. Starting knitting now.

This was a well done pattern, instructions clear and straightforward. This would be pretty in a lace weight yarn as well.

And more photos.



In other news, for some reason I’ve started to get blog comments emailed to me, at least sometimes. We’ll see.

A Real Update

I have been knitting, just very slowly. Nothing new finished, nothing new on the needles. Oh wait, I never did do a Finished Project post for the Fritz baby blanket. Sheesh. I’m probably the lamest knit blogger on earth.

I’ll do that next time. I have to find the photos.

I’ve been doing a little spinning and dyeing lately.

Here’s the spinning. This was spun on my wheel. It’s about a DK weight, will make a nice scarf. Or maybe mitts. Winter is coming.


And last weekend I hauled out the dye pots. This was prompted by John harvesting a big ass mushroom in the neighborhood. Here’s the shroom.

14517670_10157636493100235_5400337272213310140_n 14470574_10157636492830235_8390793986214527243_n

Unfortunately it only yielded a very pale nondescript beige color, despite a couple of manipulations. Not worth wasting yarn for. So I went to the backyard and cut the rest of the fading rudbeckia flowers.


I added a little envelope of mystery dried blossoms, not sure what they were but they were small white flowers, smelled like fresh cut hay and made me sneeze. I expected the combo to yield a yellowish gold color on yarn. Here’s what I got.


Once again, the October skies make it tough to get a good photo. The real color is a very deep khaki, very unexpected. The yarn was mordanted with alum and a bit of cream of tartar, nothing else. This is superwash merino/nylon fingering weight, about 800 yards total. (This is commercial undyed yarn, not handspan.)

That’s it for today.


I know, I know. Catchy title. I’ve gotten behind a bit here.

A bit of housekeeping first. For some reason my blog software has stopped emailing me almost all of the comments you leave here. Once in a while one comes through, but mostly not. This is a royal pain in the butt, since it means I have to check back here to see if anybody has commented, and if I use the WP dashboard to reply, it puts it in the comments after the post instead of emailing you directly.

I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve wasted in the past few months trying to fix it. It is WAY too much trouble to think about switching to a different blog platform. So if I don’t respond, it’s because I didn’t see your comment until it was enough later to make it seem silly to respond. If you have a specific question, please email me directly at loretteirene at comcast dot net.


Those of you who follow me on FB know that our little Lucy died a few weeks ago. She had gradually been fading, and when we had a long out of town trip planned, we knew she wasn’t going to last until we got back. I just haven’t had the heart to post about it here until now. Here are a couple of the last photos I took of her.



We had a vet who does house calls come and take care of her at home. We got her ashes back this past week, along with some little nose and paw prints. Those made me just sit right down and cry.

img_7836 img_7837

I guess after that, I’m sort of done updating today. I’ll tell you about the latest dyeing and spinning projects next time.


Yesterday was our 4th day in Newfoundland. We flew in Friday to St. John's, which was an all day project from the west coast. We spent Saturday and Sunday playing in St. John's, which is a surprisingly sophisticated city. It even had a yarn shop.

We wandered around downtown St. John's Saturday morning, had lunch, then spent the whole afternoon at the Geo Centre, a geologic museum. It's more exciting than it sounds. It really was a fabulous place.

This is my birthday trip for this year. My big day isn't for another couple of weeks, but I'm hitting one of those big milestones. Just as a hint, I'm getting the senior discount at museums at this point.

Sunday was lighthouse day. We went to the Ferryland lighthouse, south of St. John's, for a picnic and some spectacular views.

The next stop was the lighthouse at Cape Spear. This is the most eastern point in North America. There are two lighthouses, the old one that the lighthouse keeper and family lived in, and the newer one. The whole process is automated at this point, so no keeper has to live in the actual lighthouse.

Monday we drove to Trinity in Trinity Bay (there are two Trinitys in Newfoundland!). We're staying at a lovely Inn right on the water. This is the little town where Shipping News was filmed.
That dark red building in the foreground is the main Inn building. Yesterday we poked around town a bit, then headed north for some sightseeing.
The local craft and gift shop.
No, I didn't buy any. It was Briggs and Little and Paton's, both of which I can get easily. The Briggs & Little is a great basic sweater yarn, and I don't have room in my suitcase for a sweater's worth. I did buy this.
These are hand knit by locals. I managed to get here without a warm sweater. It's been moderate so far, though the wind yesterday was gale force at times. You'd have to be hardy to live around here. So I bought a sweater in case I get cold later on. I know, I could knit this, but not by the end of the week.
We had lunch by the sea in Bonavista.
After lunch we headed to Elliston and Maberly. These are the root cellar capitals of the world. Who knew?
And some spectacular ocean scenery.
On to the Bonavista Lighthouse.

This one was pretty luxurious inside. One family that lived here had 11 children. Usually the whole family lived here. If the lighthouse keeper didn't have an older son to help, he would hire an assistant. These were prestigious jobs, highly paid, and often passed down from generation to generation from father to son.

Another crappy view.

Inside the lighthouse.

Another senior discount.


John Cabot landed here in 1497.

Last but not least, another lousy water view.

We've had people asking us for weeks “Why Newfoundland??” I hope some of these photos show why.

Off to breakfast, and a boat tour of the area this morning.


Knitting Done!

I finished the edging on the Blue Blue Blue Baby Blanket late last night. I decided to save the grafting bit until daylight when I was rested (I know, an uncharacteristic decision for me).

Grafting went quickly and here it is.

Not blocked, but done, done, done!

I have to get it in the mail on Thursday if it's getting out of here before our vacation, so I'm off to soak the thing. We'll see if it dries in time.



Willie thinks he's helping.

The knitting marathon continues for Baby Fritz's Blisteringly Blue Baby Blanket. It's a big square, with a knitted on edging that consists of eleventy billion repeats of the same 12 row pattern. I have finished 2 sides of the square as of this morning. I started the edging just a few days ago, so I should be on track to finish this hopefully later this week, barring some major knitting screw up, like cats “helping”.

Here's another photo of Fritz.

Awwww. I think he looks a lot like his daddy in that photo.

And like all good knitting marathons, this one is involving major television watching. I started rewatching Game of Thrones earlier this week, I'm one episode short of finishing the first season.

It's too bad Will and Zoe can't knit, that would really be a big help.




Knit Faster, Lorette!

He's here! My grand nephew was born a few weeks early. Parents and baby are all fine.

His name is Fritz Samuel Meske. His grandpa, my brother, was named Samuel Fritz, after HIS grandfather. My baby brother Sam died in a house fire in 2001, but he is no doubt up in heaven beaming on this little boy and his parents.

He's adorable, right? He deserves a baby blanket!

I was right on track to finish this about 2 weeks from now. So we're now into marathon TV knitting. I have the body and border done, and “just” have the edging left to knit. I'm not quite half way done, I did one whole side of the edging yesterday. I think I can finish the rest this coming week. We're headed out of town for a few weeks in September, so the drop dead finish date has to be enough before that so I can get it blocked and mailed.

Back to knitting!


More Time For Knitting

John and I bought an Instant Pot a month or so ago, and LOVE it. We had a traditional stove top pressure cooker that we've used for years, and have upgraded that once or twice over time to better technology. We eat a lot of beans and lentil-y kinds of things, so a pressure cooker really comes in handy.

We finally decided to cave and replace the one-pony-show stovetop thing with this. You can sauté in it, pressure cook, and slow cook, though we haven't used it for that yet. It makes hard boiled eggs like nobody's business. Once you set it, you can walk away and not worry about leaving a pressure cooker on an open flame.

Today's feature is bean soup. The place I buy most of my dried beans and legumes from is Purcell Mountain Farms. They have a huge variety, they are fresh, and the beans are impeccably clean. We eat a lot of beans, so it matters to me where they come from.

This started with a pound of their Paris Bistro Mix.


Lorette's Paris Inspired Bean Soup

1 Pound mixed beans/legumes/grains

Chopped yellow onion, about a cup, but whatever. If you have half of a big onion use it, or all of a smaller onion. Leeks would be good, too.

Olive oil, for sautéing (or your favorite substitute, we often use avocado oil for this)

Some Garlic. I used 2 big cloves. Your mileage may vary. This was for me to freeze for work lunches, so I didn't want to overdo it.

Sliced celery. Again, I used about a cup. As you might notice, I'm not big on specifics.

Carrots, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, and sliced. About the same amount. You can vary all of these by what you have. ***

A small bell pepper, diced, this was a purple one I had in the fridge from last week's farmers market foray.

A handful of fresh herbs, chopped. This had parsley, marjoram, thyme, and oregano from our patio herb garden. And a bay leaf.

Pepper, fresh ground. To taste. I like pepper, so a big hearty couple teaspoons, sometimes I use more.

A half a can of diced tomatoes, more or less, partly drained. Freeze the other half of the can for the next batch of beans.

1 32 ounce box of chicken stock

1/2-3/4 cup of white wine, or vermouth

1/2 lemon, juiced

Salt, again, to taste. See below for comments on salt.

Water. You want enough to cover the beans by at least 2-3 inches, but don't overfill the pot. The pot should not be more than 2/3 full.

You could use all stock, or all water. I tend to use a mix of both, since canned and boxed chicken stock is pretty salty.

Sauté the onion, celery, and pepper in some oil. Add the other ingredients, bring to a simmer. Change your settings to the pressure setting, and put your lid on etc based on your cooker's instructions.

Bring up to pressure, cook for 20-25 minutes. This will vary depending on the bean varieties you pick. The Purcell Paris Bistro blend took 23 minutes at pressure to all get soft. If you're not sure, go a few minutes low and do a quick release to check. I hate mushy beans, especially if they are going into the freezer.

Quick release, taste, add more time if you need to.

I'm not going to get into whether you should salt beans before you start cooking, at the end, or somewhere in between. When I cook them on the stove top, I tend to add the salt about 3/4 of the way through the cooking time. It's more fidgety to do that with a pressure cooker. I'm not 100% convinced that adding salt at the beginning is a bad thing, especially if your beans aren't from five years ago. And it changes the flavor when you add it just at the end, like a lot of seasoning. Since this was the first time I did this mix in the IP, I started at 18 minutes, it wasn't quite done, so added the salt and did another 5 minutes. The canned tomatoes and chicken stock add some salt, so take that into account.

I didn't soak these beans, since most of these were pretty small so I didn't bother. If you are using bean varieties that are larger, I'd probably soak.

And there you have it. Bean soup! I'll portion this out into serving size containers, and freeze for my lunches****.

Four for the freezer, and a larger one for me to eat this week!

***Other veggies work too, and you could do potatoes, or add some rice or pasta at the end. If you are using softer veggies, I'd cook the beans, release, add the stuff that doesn't take much cooking, then cook on the sauté setting until those were done. Since I'm freezing this for lunch food, I don't usually add stuff that turns to mush in the freezer.

****Of course, there won't be wine with my work lunches. Drat.


September 7th


Blazing Blue Behemoth


The pressure is on. This is for my soon-to-be-born great nephew, who is due to make his debut on September 7th.

I have 20 rows (lonnnng rows-there will be 600 stitches on the needle at that point) of the center square knit in the round, then 600 edging rows, averaging about 14 stitches per row.

Knit faster, Lorette!

Send whisky, I might need it.


Knitting Helper


And she's ditched another collar and blingy tag. That's the second one, which is our limit for cat collars. Will lost about six of them before we gave up. The cats are all chipped, so the lack of collar won't make a lot of difference.

Still working on that Blindingly Blue Baby thing.