This past work week was a bit hectic. To compensate, I've done nothing but just what I wanted to do all weekend. There is no better antidote to a crappy week than a Saturday and Sunday spent knitting, reading, playing flute, and cooking with my husband.

The cooking was scallops and grits. Here is the finished project.

Scallops with red pepper, green onion, a little jalapeno, garlic, parsley, and white wine, served over cheese grits. Yum.

Here's the knitting.

I've finally gotten to the last ball of the handspun yarn. I wet spliced it together this morning.

This is a pretty simple shawl pattern, the only challenge will be to guess how much yarn I need for the 12 row garter border. Since this is handspun and hand dyed, I want to use every bit of it that I can.

Out came the trusty drug dealer's scale. The last row I did took 2.6 grams of yarn. I have 126 grams left. Of course the rows get longer as I go, so I'll have to keep weighing as I knit, but I should be able to get several 12 row repeats done still. This should be a nice big cozy warm shawl when it's done.

We're off to the market for provisions, then back to knitting!


Days Like Today

Slow down what’s the hurry

There’s no rush today

There won’t be too many

Days like today

     Cheryl Wheeler, Driving Home

The day started out blessedly cool, in the mid-50’s. We decided to put on sweatshirts and wool socks and eat breakfast out on the deck, since there surely won’t be too many perfect days like today.

Breakfast was a frittata made with leftover ratatouille from last night. Here’s the ratatouille.

We’re at that part of the summer where we have a profusion of vegetables, and we’ve used up all the zucchini ideas. Enter ratatouille. This one was a baked version*. You cut up all the veggies, toss with olive oil and lots of chopped fresh herbs, put in a casserole dish and bake. Much easier, and much less mushy than the usual fidgety stovetop version. This one has sliced onions, 2 bell peppers, 2 small eggplants, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and lots of garlic. The herbs were parsley, thyme, marjoram, tarragon, and oregano. The onions were from the store, the herbs from our patio garden, and the rest was from our CSA haul from last week. We had this last night with a white bean vegetarian “stew”, also cooked with lots of garden herbs.

There was plenty leftover, so we made a frittata this morning. I put a little grapeseed oil in the skillet, then enough ratatouille to cover the bottom of the pan. I heated it up, then poured over whisked eggs and cooked until mostly set, then ran it under the broiler to finish cooking. I topped it with a bit of grated gruyere and broiled for another half a minute.


And just because I’m in that sort of mood, here’s some music for you.

What will you do with this perfect day?

* If you need a “real” recipe, this was from Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything Vegetarian cookbook.



I was about to catalogue that lovely Coreopsis dyed yarn and get it into the stash, and then decided that this is just ridiculous. It's not every day you make your own yarn. I handspun this on my Watson wheel (100% BFL fiber), then dyed it myself using flowers we grew in the back yard. It deserves better than to disappear into the stash forever.

So I hunted around for an appropriate pattern, and came up with Stephen West's Boneyard Shawl. I didn't want something complex and lacy, since this is roughly worsted weight and a bit on the rustic side. I also already have 3 lacy complex shawls on the needles. This pattern is one of those that you could knit with almost any weight yarn, and is adaptable to variable yardage. These are fine qualities when one is knitting with handspun that isn't entirely even, and when one isn't 100% certain of the yardage. An extra bonus is that it's a free pattern. I can see making more than one of these.

Here's where I am.

This is pretty much dead simple. It's mostly stockinette, with a garter row thrown in every so often, and increases along each side of the center spine and at each end. You knit until it's big enough, then knit on several rows of garter stitch and bind off. Bob's your uncle.

And yes, those are little Buddha stitch markers. I made those myself, too, with little Buddha beads I found a long time ago.

Have a happy weekend!


Dyeing Adventure

I realized today that I never blogged about my dyeing adventure a few weeks ago.

I had bought a whole bag of Bluefaced Leicester white spinning fiber some time back, thinking I’d dye it first and then spin. I’ve discovered that it is a whole lot easier to felt unspun fiber than yarn, so after one attempt, I spun it first with plans to dye later. Here is the result.



The dye material is tickseed, or Coreopsis (with a bit of dried marigold I had saved from last year that wasn’t enough to dye anything by itself). John planted these in pots down by the lake, and I’ve been dead-heading them since they started blooming earlier this summer. I simmered in water for an hour or so, then let sit overnight (mostly because I ran out of time). The next morning I strained out the flowers, and in went the wool.


The wool was mordanted with a mixture of alum and cream of tartar to help the dye set. It all simmered for another hour, then I let it sit until it was cool. Then out of the dye pot, rinse, dry, and skein it up.


That is 366 grams of wool, about 790 yards total. I think it will make a nice rustic wrap of some sort.


I’m home from work today with a migraine, not getting a whole lot accomplished. It’s getting better at this point, though I still feel like somebody poured Karo syrup into my brain. It makes for a waste of a perfectly good day off.


And, because it’s my blog, and I can, I’m posting one more photo of my last finished project. I posted this on Facebook, and somebody commented that all it needed was a tiara. Here you go, Dorothy.

Pink & Sparkly-6272


Though THIS is the one I really want.


So you suppose Princess Sofia will send that to me when she grows tired of it?


Pink & Sparkly

I finally got around to getting photos of this today.

Pink & Sparkly-6259


Project Details:

Pattern: Heaven and Space, by Martina Behm

Yarn: Bouton d’Or Songe, in PINK. 3 skeins. I bought this in a yarn shop in Nice, France when we took a cruise that left from there in 2006. Deep stash. 570 meters out.

Needles: 3.75 mm

Started: December 6, 2014

Finished: June 7, 2015

For: Me!

Modifications: None. This is one of those patterns that you can adapt for pretty much any yarn. I knit until I had just enough left over to do the bind off.

What I Learned: Note to self. Please remember to check the lot numbers on ball bands in the future. This was knit with 3 balls of yarn, after I blocked it, I noticed that the center ball of yarn is just a shade off. Not enough to notice when it’s around your neck, but still.

Here’s another photo.

Pink & Sparkly-6268



That one shows the shape better. It starts from one point (the one at the top in this photo, then increases at both sides, then binds off at the long straight side. If you look carefully you can see the very slight shift in color in the center section.

Last but not least.


Lewey says “Happy Fathers’ Day!”  He adores his human dad.

Give Us This Day–

The Daily Bread!

Here's the finished bread from Friday;

It was lovely. “Was” is the key word in that sentence. So I made some more:

This one was baked in a bread pan in the oven. I made it partly in the bread machine, but hit the “quick” rise button by mistake so I finished kneading it by hand. This is buttermilk/wheat/oatmeal bread. Here are the ingredients. I made this partly by weight instead of measuring cup, just as an experiment.

2.6 oz rolled oats

1 1/2 cups water

12 oz white bread flour

4 oz whole wheat flour

1/4 cup buttermilk

1 1/2 Tablespoon honey

2 1/4 tablespoon avocado oil

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 teaspoon yeast

1/2 tablespoon vital wheat gluten

Mix the oats in the water and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Add the wet ingredients to the bread machine pan, then the soaked oats, then the dry ingredients. Process on the dough setting. Shape into whatever loaf you want and bake. My baking times tend to be a bit free form. This was baked at 425 for about 35 minutes, but I turned the temperature down about half way through. The milk in the dough makes it brown faster.

And here is some of the last of Friday's bread, toasted and with some peanut butter for my lunch today.


In other news, there might be a finished knitting project around here. Here's a preview:

It needs a light blocking but it is done. This is one of those patterns where you just knit till your yarn runs out, but you need to bind off after a pattern repeat. I wanted to use as much of that Pink & Sparkly as possible, so out came the trusty drug dealer's scale.

6.7 grams left–not enough to do another pattern repeat with! Full project details to follow when it's blocked.

Oh, The Plans I Have!

Even though I made the decision to work part time several months ago, today really feels like “it”. As of this week, I am working 4 days a week, mostly Monday through Thursday with three-day weekends. Today is the beginning of that first three day weekend.

Ahhhhhhh. So what am I going to do with that extra free day?

As I've been warned by many other people who have retired or started working part-time, those extra days seem to fill up with activities pretty quickly.

Knitting, spinning, dyeing, reading, writing, flute playing, blogging, baking. Perhaps even get to the gym now and then.

Let's start with baking, shall we? I used to bake bread quite frequently, but it has gotten so sporadic that some of my bread ingredients have gone past their “use by” date. Here's what's going on in the bread machine today.


As usual, I sort of made this up on the fly. Here's an ingredient list:

1 cup water

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon avocado oil

1 1/2 cup unbleached white bread floor

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup rye flour

1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten

2 1/2 teaspoons yeast

1/2 cup seed/grain blend

I get most of my bread ingredients from King Arthur Flour. Any decent supermarket should carry their basic flours, I buy the other stuff from their online store. The vital wheat gluten helps lighten up whole wheat or rye breads. I use Saf Red label instant yeast, which has never failed me. The Harvest seed blend is from their store as well.

A photo of the finished bread will follow later. I make this up in my bread machine and then bake it in the oven. Bread machine-baked bread is OK, but I like the texture better when it's baked in the oven.

One last photo for the day.

Our peonies are near the end of their blooming, but there are still a few out there!

I'm off to plan the rest of my day!


Still Working On It

This is the never-ending knitting project, but I am nearing the end of this monstrosity.

I have “only” nine repeats of the edging chart to go. Each repeat has 20 rows, 370 stitches, and 50 beads.


In other news, yesterday was a momentous day. It was my last day of working full time. On Monday I start working just 4 days a week. Of course, in a blast of karma from the universe, I developed a case of food poisoning from a “free” lunch on Thursday, and ended up calling in sick yesterday. All is well today though, and I am certainly going to enjoy this tiny first step towards retirement.

Maybe with that extra day each week, I can begin to make a dent in the 211 MILES of yarn in my stash.


Great Yarn!

The yarn fast is officially busted. I can talk ad nauseum about what made me decide to not buy any yarn for 1 year, 43 days, but I know you are here for the yarn.


When I fall, I don't fool around. That is enough yarn for 3 mid-sized shawls. The shop is A Great Yarn, which is a new shop in Chatham, it is a combined yarn shop and used book store. The owners couldn't be any nicer, and she carries some really unique yarns.

From left to right in the second photo:

Hikoo Rylie, color is Sandbar, which is a very soft pale sage. It is 50% alpaca, 25% mulberry silk, and 25% linen, about a worsted weight. There are 500 meters.

The second is Plymouth Linaza, color Red. This one is 50% alpaca, 25% linen, and 25% tencel, sport weight. 804 meters. I think it is the exact color of the lovely cardinal that has been serenading us out the window of our room at the Inn.

Last but not least is Zitron Glanz Punkt (who knows what that means?), color is Beach Glass. This is 60% silk, 40% modal (tencel), also about a sport weight. 600 meters total.

1904 meters added to the stash.

These little shawls-to-be will provide me with great knitting pleasure. I don't feel one bit guilty. The colors will forever remind me of this trip–the beach, the sandbars, and that very cheerful and brilliant red cardinal.

We've had a great adventure in Cape Cod. We got here Sunday in the late afternoon after dawdling around along the coast. Yesterday we dawdled around all day driving north up the Cape, dipping in and out of the Cape Cod National Seashore (a National Park). We mostly had the beaches to ourselves all day.

Today we stuck around the Chatham area. We went to the yarn shop, then spent a lovely hour or so at the Chatham Marconi Maritime Center, which is a small museum devoted to the whole Marconi wireless invention and the evolution of wireless from the early 1900s to after World War II. The first transatlantic wireless transmission from the US to Europe was from the towers that he built just north of Chatham. We saw the site yesterday, though the towers are long gone due to beach erosion. And Chatham was the location of one of the major wireless units that intercepted Enigma-coded transmissions from German submarines, then transmitted them to Washington DC where they were then decoded. It is a fascinating story, and we learned about the whole thing from the lovely enthusiastic woman that was running the museum today. We spent the afternoon in the sunshine checking out the waterfront, and have dinner reservations later this evening.

Tomorrow we head back to Boston for my medical conference which means three whole DAYS of knitting.

That's all I have to say. I'm going to go take a nap and dream about knitting.


Cape Cod Breakfast Conversation

We're on a little mini-vacation this week. I have a medical meeting later in the week in Boston, and we arrived a few days early to visit Cape Cod since we've never been here before.

Here was the conversation at the breakfast table this AM.

Me: “I'd like to stop at that yarn shop we passed* yesterday.”

John: “Aren't they closed today?”

Me: “What?”

John: “Aren't all yarn shops closed on Mondays?”

Nice try, dear. Nice try.

Here are a couple of photos. First is from Plymouth, the monument that honors the Pilgrims that came over on the Mayflower.

And next is the sock on the way to Cape Cod.

*Cape Cod appears to be a yarn-rich environment. We drove by at least three yarn shops yesterday. I'm getting a feeling that the yarn-shopping fast may be approaching its end.


Pink & Orange!

One pair of socks done, another pair started. I tossed the stash, and this is what came up next.


The yarn is Trekking, fairly vintage. The color is imaginatively named “1000”.

I just love knitting little picot sock tops. They are sort of a pain in the arse to get started*, but they are so freaking cute once they get to this point.

I know, I know. I am a sock nerd. This will be the same damn pattern, with picot tops instead of ribbing. I live on the edge.

*Cast on, knit seven rows plain, then do one row of yo, k2tog around, then another 7 rows plain. Then turn up the hem and knit the next row with the cast on row to make a little picket fence top. Ingenious. I didn't make this up, I learned it from Claudia.


Monday Is A Good Day

For new socks!


Project Details:

Well, it's the same old pattern, my generic top down, ribbed cuff, heel flap sock. Knit on 72 stitches with 2.25 mm Ivore double point needles. The yarn is Opal, one of the Dreamcatcher colors.

I started these back in September, finished yesterday. And no, they don't match. That's intentional. I actually knitted one sock from the outside of the yarn ball and the second one from the inside, so the stripes are mirror images. I am endlessly amused by self striping sock yarn.

These are for me. Though John looked at them and said “I'd wear a pair like that!”.

I haven't started the next new pair of socks yet, but as you all know, I plenty of sock yarns in the stash to choose from. Stay tuned for what comes next.


Lace Appreciation

Me: “Oooooh, you have to come look at this.”

John: “What?” “Huh–nice!” (said in a very half hearted exclamation).

Me: “No, really, it's gorgeous Shetland wool garter stitch! Look at those garter stitch wedges! Look at that lace mesh!”

John: silence

I love him anyway. Even if he has no clue.

My new lace is fabulous.


A Hap Of A Different Color

Hap version 2.

The Whisky Galore!* yarn just didn't work with this pattern. It is a very fine drapey yarn, and really wants a lighter, more delicate lace pattern. Since I already have a big light and delicate lace shawl in progress (Evenstar, I'm looking at you), and I already had the Hap pattern loaded into Knit Companion, I went rummaging through the stash looking for a more suitable yarn.
This is another well-aged stash selection. It is Elemental Effects Rustic Lace, a 100% Shetland wool yarn, which is a much better fit for this pattern. Here is a photo of the yarn.
It's pretty tough to get a photo of that color, especially on a grey April day. It's a deep bluish green, more green than blue, and approximately the color of our backyard Douglas Fir trees at twilight. So Whisky Galore! has been renamed Douglas Fir!
This isn't actually version 2, it's more like version 5. This isn't that complicated of a pattern, but I kept screwing it up and having to rip it out. I think I have it off and running at this point. I don't think this will be TV knitting, but only because of the dark color of the yarn.
If you are trying to figure out the pattern, it is knit side to side. The body is garter stitch, with those lace mesh points at the bottom border of the shawl, knitted on as you go. The garter section keeps getting bigger until it's big enough, then knit straight on for awhile, then decreases again at the other side point. I have 3 skeins of this yarn, so it should be a biggish shawl when done.

*Yes, the yarn name has the exclamation point in the color name. If the dyer thought it was important, so do I.