Tag Archives: yarn

“Mind Your Own Biscuits And Life Will Be Gravy”

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So one week from today I’ll be in my hospital bed at Temple University Hospital, recovering from my aneurysm clipping surgery. And, touching wood and turning around three times and spitting for good luck, I may even be back home by now. Hopefully this will be my last big surgery for a very, very long time, if not forever.

Since this really is brain surgery, I’m going to be hanging around the house for quite awhile. The Brain Guy said recovery time for a craniotomy is about a month and that I should be taking it easy for at least that, if not longer. If you’re a regular reader of this little blog o’ mine, you already know “me” and “taking it easy” don’t really belong in the same sentence. I adore a really good afternoon nap and there’s not too much I love more than hanging around the house in a flannel shirt and some yoga pants, but I’m an antsy little thing.

So I thought (ha!) it would be a fine idea to pull out some of the knitting I put aside when I started learning how to tote up debits and credits back in September. It seems that I’ve got half of one sock done, another sock that needs its mate, a fingerless mitt that needs its partner as well as its thumb, a ridiculous amount of yarn for two sweaters and a duster as well as a pullover I started in June with high hopes of wearing it in, umm, October.

Which was two months ago. Hey, yarn doesn’t go bad.

And it was in that spirit that I decided (ha!) I needed two more projects to keep me amused while my noggin’s healing. I’ve been doing a fair amount of yapping about crocheting and knitting afghans for awhile now, so I figured it would be a good time to put up or shut up and get started, already.

My other justification for buying more yarn…I mean, starting two new projects is this: I need simple stuff to work on. None of my current projects really qualify as “simple”. I love the complicated cables and colorwork and little tiny DPNs and skinny sock yarn. I mean, love. In reality, what I’m really going to need are things that I don’t really have to think about too much.

So here’s the crocheted afghan pattern and it’s a beauty. I’m using Berroco Vintage worsted in all the colors since I think I’m going for a millefiore inspiration with this. I have a vague memory of someone in my family collecting millefiore paperweights when I was a kid and I was fascinated with them. This is going to be for our queen-sized bed and each triangle motif is about six inches across, so I’m going to need a whole boatload of these. I have no idea how many exactly or what colors I’ll be using yet. I’m making this up as I go along.

Why, no, I haven’t really thought about putting them all together yet. One challenge at a time, ‘kay?

And here’s the knitted afghan project for the couch. In my knitting world, this qualifies as “simple” because that sucker’s 20 pattern repeats across. I can live with a few “purl through the back loop” every fifteen rows or so, even though those words usually make me twitch.

I’m also going to get some special, luxe yarn to take with to the hospital with me so I can start a pair of very simple socks. If the yarn is beautiful, you don’t need to do much with it to bring out the best in it. I’m going to be recovering from big, icky surgery and I have every intention of being very, very, good to myself.


 

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Pass the butter, please.

So here’s something I’ve been making for ages. They’re from one of my favorite cookbooks of all time (“Moosewood Restaurant New Classics“). They’re great with a bowl of soup or stew and the kitchens smells like heaven while they’re in the oven. The only drawback with these beauties? They’re scones, so they only last for one day. That problem is easily solved, though. Just eat two.

Rosemary Garlic Scones 

  • 2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary (you can use 1/2 tsp of dried, but they’re so, so much better if you use the fresh)
  • 2 cups unbleached white flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 Tbsp cold unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Line the bottom of a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly oil it.
  2. In a small skillet, heat 2 Tbsp of the oil. Add the garlic, pepper and rosemary. Simmer for about 1 minute (do not let the garlic burn) and remove from the heat.
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Using a pastry cutter, two knives or your fingers (which is what I do), quickly cut the butter into the flour until it’s evenly distributed. Add the seasoned oil mixture and mix well. Quickly stir in the buttermilk to form a a soft (but sticky) dough.
  4. On a lightly floured board, lightly knead the dough so it holds together. Lightly pat it into a 6″ circle and cut it into 6 wedges. Place them on the prepared baking sheet and lightly brush the tops of the scones with the remaining 1/2 tsp of olive oil. I always forget this step.
  5. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the scones are golden brown. Don’t over bake these suckers or they’ll be dense and dry.
  6. Enjoy!

 

 

 

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“Maroon, yellow, blue, gold and gray”

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I have too much yarn.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I still probably have way too much yarn, but today I have a lot less than I did yesterday. Like, four giant Ziploc bags’ worth.

I’d been meaning to go through the yarn closet for a long time now, but if you’re a regular reader of this little blog o’ mine, you know that the past couple of months have been just a wee bit challenging. And the last thing I felt like doing was pulling out all of the bags and sorting through everything I’ve accumulated over the past couple of years.

Not because of the physical work, mind you. It was just the whole idea of sorting through every skein of yarn because, to be honest, there was a lot of poor yarn purchases on my part and I know I’m not alone in this. I also know that you can’t keep everything. Or that you would want to knit or crochet everything in your stash, either. We all have clunkers in there, buried at the bottom of the bag, just underneath the skeins of the merino and silk blend.

You know, that bag of red eyelash yarn that you bought eons ago because you didn’t know what you were buying? Yeah. That’s what I’m talking about here.

So I decided before I go and pick up my 12 skeins of Osprey for this sweater, before any more cute little skeins of sock yarn come to live in my house, I needed to do a little housekeeping. And here’s how I went about it.

Pick a time when you can devote a couple of uninterrupted hours to go through every bag and box of yarn you have. You don’t have to do it all in one shot, but you really do need to go through all of them.

Find an organization or a person who’s going to take the yarn you no longer want. My local Goodwill was thrilled to get five bags of clean yarn in almost-perfect shape. Please remember that anything you donate must be in good condition. If it’s not, see if you can recycle it. And of course you can always sell it.

And if you were thinking about doing a spreadsheet or perhaps using the “Stash” feature on Rav, right about now would be a good time to start doing exactly that.

Next, figure out what you’re going to keep and what’s going to get donated. And please be honest with yourself. You know what you like to knit and what you like to knit with, right? If you don’t knit lace and you have ten skeins of laceweight, do you really want to hang on to it? Or do you have a friend who would love it and make something beautiful with it? That’s what I’m talking about.

Oh, and I only had three piles: keep, donate and pitch. That’s because I’m a ruthless bitch when it comes to this organizing stuff. And I refuse to hang on to one half of one third of a ball of Sugar and Cream cotton. In barf pink, no less. Out it goes.

I wouldn’t be so cavalier if that was Tosh Sock, of course. You know what I mean.

As you go through your yarn, put aside the yarn you’ve already bought for specific projects. And I will guarantee you that you’ll find yarn for projects that you’d forgotten about.

If you want to, sort it by weight. I have a ton of sock yarn, so once the projects were put aside, I stored the rest of the sock yarn together. And I discovered a couple of neat colorwork possibilities, too.

Once you’ve gone through it all, it has to go back to wherever it was being stored. If you weren’t happy about that situation, here’s a good chance to change that, too.

I’d love to have a huge, open LYS-style storage system, but I don’t have the room for that. So I picked up a few of those closet organizers that hang from the rail and they work perfectly for me. I put the wool in generic ziplocs and write the project name on the outside if it’s earmarked for anything special. If I wanted to get really wild and crazy, I’d slip in the patterns so I’d have a kit ready to go.

Because you never know when you’ll need a knitting kit, right?

I stored the acrylic and cotton in those humongous zipper bags. If you decide to go that route, make sure you get the clear ones so you can see what’s in there, because that’s really the purpose of this whole thing, right?

Sigh.

Sigh.

Sit back and gloat and take pictures of your new stash. Share with other people and make them jealous. Gloat some more.

Now go knit!

“Brother Bought A Coconut, He Bought It For A Dime”

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I have officially lost my mind and I don’t know what happened.

I bought more sock yarn. Not only did I do that, but I’m getting three more sock knitting books. And I’m off to my favorite yarn store in the world next week to get more.

But that’s okay. Really. I gave up smoking a few years ago and I don’t really drink any longer, so good yarn is my drug of choice these days. With everything I’ve been through in the past eight months, I figure I’m allowed to buy as much damn yarn as I please.

Plus, I turned 50 last week. I’m not sure how the hell that happened either, but it did and, like my sock yarn obsession, I’m giving myself a pass on that one, too.

It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say that I’m being very, very good to myself these days. Besides, it’s fun to knit yourself pretty things. *


So, on Ravelry over the weekend, I posted on the “Fifty And Fabulous” forum that I’d made some coconut tapioca.

Now, stop that. Right now. Tapioca is awesome and it’s especially awesome when your mouth is still a bit sore from six weeks of radiation treatment. And it’s even better if it’s made with coconut milk. Yum.

The only thing I changed from the recipe (which is from Moosewood Restaurant Collective’s “New Classics”, one of my most favorite cookbooks ever) was to swap out regular milk for the vanilla soymilk and add a teaspoon of real vanilla extract.

The original recipe also suggests serving this with fresh mango cubes and sliced strawberries which would have been great if I had a fresh mango and strawberries. If you have it, go for it.

Yum.

Tropical Tapioca

  • ½ cup of instant tapioca
  • 3 cups of milk
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 14-oz. can reduced fat coconut milk
  • pinch of ground cinnamon
  1. Combine everything except the vanilla extract in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Give it a stir and let it sit for about 15 minutes or so. This gives the tapioca a chance to soften up before you even cook it.
  2. On medium heat, bring the tapioca mixture to a boil, stirring constantly to prevent lumps and sticking. Lower the heat and, still stirring, let it cook slowly for 5 minutes.
  3. Take it off the heat and stir in the vanilla. Let it cool for about 5 minutes or so.
  4. Pour into individual dessert cups or a large heatproof container and let it chill in the fridge for about an hour or so.
  5. Enjoy!

* WordPress isn’t playing nicely with my pictures this afternoon or I’d post the latest picture of Eunice. Sorry.

Sweeter In A Sweater

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So, now that you’re all excited about my spring knitting (you are, aren’t you?), here’s the plan.

If 2014 was the “Year Of The Sock”, 2015 is “The Year Of The Sweater”. When I started knitting a few years ago, the whole idea of learning was solely (ha!) so that I could knit socks. So I got needles and yarn and took a knitting lesson and bought books and watched YouTube videos and consulted the oracles and brought the knitting gods and goddesses gluten-free wine and fair trade chocolate and now I knit socks. Lots of them, and I do love to knit them. I’m pretty good at it, too.

But they’re only part of what I now want to accomplish. It’s time to move on to bigger things. Like sweaters.

I have never knit a sweater, so in typical littleredyarn fashion, I’m jumping in with both feet. My goal is to make three sweaters this year. The first one is an top-down pullover with an Indian blouse feel to it, the second one is a cardigan full of cable-y goodness and the third is a coat. leonard knitting

Yes, I’m knitting a coat. Don’t look at me like that; it’s just a long sweater.

I think.

Anyway, here are the patterns and yarns I’ll be using.

Up first is the “Indian Print Henley”, designed by Anne Hanson, from the “The Knitter’s Handy Book Of Top Down Sweaters” by Ann Budd. I’ll be using “Galileo” from KnitPicks in Urchin.

And isn’t that pretty? I used to live in Indian shirts when I was in high school (cue up some Allmans for me, please), so that’s a nice, updated trip down Memory Lane with enough, ahem, coverage for this almost-50 year old.

The second one is “Plaits and Links” from Kathy Zimmerman. I already have the yarn for that; it’s the oh-so-luscious “Kenzie” from HiKoo. That’s in the boysenberry colorway. It’s been in hibernation for a few months since I knew I was going to lose weight from the surgery and my treatments. I know some of the weight will probably come back, but I’m going to really try and stay on the cute side of chubby after all of this is over.

The coat? Oh, I’m so glad you asked. The coat is the wonderful “Car Coat” from Vogue Knitting. I think I’m going to use Quince & Co’s “Puffin” for this. So that means a trip to my favorite LYS in the Manayunk section of Philly, a hang with my friend Lisa and a couple of well-spent hours inhaling yarn fumes. Some La Colombe coffee and I’m set for the afternoon.

I’ll be doing more socks, of course. I have a lot of sock and I was gifted with a tremendous amount of beautiful stuff over the holidays. I already know “Zombody, Throw Me Some Beads” is going to become a Larch. Well, that’s what it told me and who am I to argue?

I think there’s going to be a crocheted afghan somewhere in there, too. Maybe. At least I can start it.

And hopefully finish it.

Spring Awakening

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I’m planning spring knitting.

I know, I know. It’s December! It’s cold! It’s the time of year to snuggle up in your sweats and cozy fleece tops and knit big, thick warm sweaters because it’s the only time of the year you can do that without passing out from the weight and the warmth of the wool. It really shouldn’t be the time of the year to start lusting after light and pretty things. Winter only started 10 days ago.

But I am. The last pair of cozy, warm house socks have officially come off the needles and I’m about ready to put the heavier yarns back into the yarn closet (what?) for another couple of months. When I got my diagnosis back in July, all I wanted to do was knit my way out of whatever funk I was in at the time, and there were more than one. My comfort knitting tends to be on the heavier side; it’s all soft and cozy and warm. It’s the fiber nerd’s equivalent of mac and cheese or mashed potatoes and gravy.

I feel pretty, oh so pretty...

I feel pretty, oh so pretty…

And now that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, I can feel a lightening of the load, too.  It’s only a little bit, but things don’t seem as weighty as they did a month ago. I got through the holidays in one piece. The cards got mailed, gifts were bought and exchanged. I didn’t get to see everyone that I wanted to, but that’s okay. Our family and friends are all pretty close to where we live, so there’s no need to wait until next Christmas to see them. Why can’t we celebrate in April instead?

It’s time to break out all the lighter, beautifully colored yarns and make spring things. My last day of treatment is three weeks from today and I’m ready to throw a party.

Afghan Hound

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So, I’ve been home from the hospital for a little over a week now, and one thing is clear. My goddess, I’m an antsy person. A first class fidgeter.

I’ve been joking about this with my cousin, since our late grandfather was a notoriously jumpy guy and I’m clearly his granddaughter. The apple that fell from the tree can’t seem to sit still, either.

And recovering from surgery kind of demands, as my cousin told me, to “get the ants out of your pants”. Or something like that. The message was to just sit back and relax and sleep and snooze and let your body heal. Be a good patient, damn it.

I’m doing my best; I really am. I am tired and I am sitting back and relaxing and sleeping and snoozing. Really.

And for as wiped out as I feel, I still want to “do”. I’m a maker and I have this innate need to create things. I had all of these great, grand plans for my recovery time, too. I picked out fiddly, intricate knitting patterns to keep my mind quiet and yarn in colors that would break your heart. I looked at crocheted tablecloth patterns where the hook required is only slightly thinner than a toothpick and three days’ worth of crocheting would yield a piece only slightly larger than your smartphone.

None of it is working. I don’t have the patience or the mental sharpness right now, and that’s as it should be. Hey, major surgery, right? Cancer, right? I’m supposed to be tired and taking naps with the cat on my lap, not fiddling around with elaborate knitting techniques.

But the hands still want something to do and the mind needs to be occupied and I’m all fidgety and I want to make something, just not anything that involves a lot of thought or concentration or color changes or exotic cast-ons involving flying fingers and multiple knitting needles. In other words, the crafting equivalent of a bowl of really good
mashed potatoes.

I needed an afghan. Or two. Afghan2

As it turns out, it’s exactly what the doctor ordered. I pawed through my yarn stash and found just about enough for one and ordered yarn for the other. I chose patterns that won’t get all cranky if I nod off with my yarn in my lap and drop a couple of stitches. The colors make me smile. And when I’m all done, there will be two lovely afghans just waiting for someone who needs a nap.

The complicated stuff can wait for another time.

Committing Neatness

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I am organizing my yarn closet.

Actually, I’m reorganizing the yarn closet, since the first (and second, and possibly third) time around didn’t work out so well. I’m hoping the fourth go-around will be the charm.

I’m like the fifteen year old girl who stands in front of her clothes closet and it’s crammed top to bottom with the inventory of a small department store and screams “I don’t have anything to wear!”

Hello, lover.

Having been that fifteen year old many years ago, I can tell you right now that there is plenty of yarn in there to knit with and quite a bit of it’s the good stuff, too. The problem is that there’s a lot of yarn in there that I bought when I didn’t know what I was buying or what I was going to use it for.

It’s like buying a fabulous pair of shoes that you know, deep down, you’re never going to wear. But, they’re red! They make my ass look great and ooh, lookie here! They’re on sale! I have nothing in my wardrobe that will go with a pair of mock crocodile pumps with 6 inch heels that pinch the pinky toe on my right foot and I don’t think I can really walk in these, and I can’t remember the last time I went out clubbing, but maybe some day I will!

Oy. And Vey.

Oy. And Vey.

See? It’s this kind of thinking that explains why there’s a skein of some Italian ribbon-eyelash concoction in my stash. I’m not in love with pastels, I really don’t use novelty yarn but, hey! It’s really kind of pretty, it’s on sale and I might use it one day. What the hell, get two. Here, take my credit card.

Maybe yarn should have an expiration date where it just goes *poof* on that particular day and is magically replaced with something the knitter will actually use.

Or maybe I just need to get out more often. Maybe I’ll take a drive somewhere.

Anyone want to go yarn shopping?