Chitchat and the occasional in-depth analysis about fiber, knitting, spinning, crochet, cooking, feminism, self-image, and a modicum of personal blathering.

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Monday, December 07, 2009

Here comes the sun king

Well, in a couple of weeks, anyway.

Just a drive-by post. A couple of pictures. May post later in the week, but I had a bit of a busy day today.

First up, Laburnum Creamsicles.


I'm actually almost done with these-I've turned the second heel and am working my way up the leg. I was hoping they'd be done in time to wear tomorrow but unless I forego a lot of sleep tonight, that's not going to happen. The yarn is handspun, fiber I got from the Waynesburg sheep and wool festival back in the spring. I love it-it's so smooshy and soft. The pattern is Laburnum from Schurch's Sensational Knitted Socks, and I did them toe-up with the magic cast-on and the fake flap-and-gusset heel, which I have figured out but-good and need to write up better instructions on. I never seem to get around to correcting my old patterns, though. It's a problem.


I finished all the slippers today. All the buttons sewn on, all blocked, all washed and drying and almost ready for their puffy paint on the soles.


That's a hell of a lot of slippers.

I think these are my favorite. At least, they're my favorite buttons.

This weekend is Handmade Arcade. I look forward to it, I love going there and taking photos and seeing all the people. I got an early entry pass this year for the first time so I won't have to deal with so many crowds to shop. yay!

Work tomorrow. Work sucks. I don't want to think about it.

The days will start getting longer soon. Yule is only about two weeks away now.

Monday, November 30, 2009

I do pretty well 'til after sundown

Damn seasons anyway. I think I need to move somewhere equatorial to avoid turning into a fire-eyed demon during the early winter.

Thanksgiving was nice, I didn't really take any pictures. I took some with my cell phone, but even though I brought the good camera, I never took it out of my purse. It seemed pointless, because every Thanksgiving brings similar photos, similar poses.

One thing that was different was this.


I brought two vegetable dishes. One was ordinary broccoli/cauliflower with garlic butter. This was a savory butternut squash bread pudding, recipe here. It was epic, and delicious. Also, the butternut squash was a revelation-delicious and sweet without the icky fibrousness of pumpkin.

Ok, this photo was also a little different.

But overall...

The weekend also went by way too fast and I had all this grand ambition for things to accomplish and I accomplished not much at all. Not even extra sleep.

I did take some photos of accumulated giftmas presents.
A chair full of slippers. They need buttons, blocking, and ends woven in.

Hathenge one


And two. Some of them need the odd end woven in but for the most part, they're done.

I had to take a break from knitting last week and do some spinning. I spun the wonderful BFL fiber that I got in a Ravelry swap from Lisa.


It hasn't been bathed yet, but it's about 700 yards of sportweight.

I also finished one sock, of the ones that started off being entrelac and a gift, and ended up stockinette and for me.

They did not look right as entrelac. Ugh.

Other than that, there's not been much. The weather has been unseasonably good, as evidenced by the chair-o-wet-socks this weekend.



And the neighborhood doves congregated to drive the cats mad. Figment and Biddy, in a rare moment of fellowship, sat in the back window together, making cute kitty noises at the birds. I didn't get a picture, as the moment didn't last long enough.

I'm craving citrus like crazy. It must be the time of year. There was about a month's worth of sinus woe for me but it seems to have passed, at least for now.

Reading is going well. I read Andrea Dworkin's "Right Wing Women" which was very interesting. Also read the Stephen King short stories, "Just After Sunset" which were mostly very good. The last one, though. Yuck. Not enjoyable at all. Offal, one might even say. HAR HAR HAR. Also reading "Triste Tropiques" by Claude Levi-Strauss, about his work in Brazil and the Amazon. Best written anthropology ever.

This may be the best thing ever.

And finally, if you're a relative or friend looking for ideas for gifts, I have a link to my amazon wish list over on the sidebar. Don't feel compelled, but there it is.

Until next time!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Scrappy Mitts with Flounce


Scrappy Mitts with Flounce
by Jamie Longstreth Fritz

This easy pattern happened because I wanted something for me made out of this special handspun yarn. I had used most of the skein making two pair of slippers, and there was just enough left (50G) for a pair of fingerless mitts.


Materials needed:

50G interesting yarn in a DK weight. The more colorful the better. You can also use scraps of handspun in similar weights.
US size 6 needles (Long circular for magic loop, DPNs, or two circs) or size needed to get gauge.
Size F crochet hook
Yarn needle to sew in ends

Gauge-2 inches = 11 stitches in stockinette stitch. Row gauge is less important as you will decide when they're long enough for you.

First, the Flounce.
Cast on 40 stitches and divide to work in the round. I used a long tail cast-on, if you don't want the join to show, you might want to use a provisional cast-on.
1-4 Work 4 rows in 3x2 rib. (K3, P2)
5. K2, YO, K1, YO, K2, repeat to end of round.
Rows 6, 8 10 Knit around
7. K2, YO, K3, YO, K2, repeat to end
9. K2, YO, K5, YO, K2, repeat to end.
10. Knit around
Bind off loosely.

Body of Mitts
Pick up and knit 40 stitches along cast-on edge of flounce, dividing to knit in round. If you used a provisional cast-on, pick up the 40 stitches and undo the provisional stitches.

Work in stockinette stitch (knit every row) until length desired to reach thumb. As pictured, 3 1/2 inches were worked between the flounce and the thumb hole.

K2, BO 5, knit to end. When you reach the bound off stitches, cast on (using thumb cast-on) 5 stitches and continue until mitt is as long as you want it. As shown, 2 1/2 inches were knit between the thumb and the bound off edge.

Bind off loosely.


Pick up and knit 14 stitches in the thumbhole. Work in stockinette stitch in the round until of sufficient length for your thumb. Bind off loosely. (Very loosely!)

Single crochet one row around top of mitts and bottom of flounce. Sew in ends, block, and wear!


I have large hands, so if you need to make these smaller, use a smaller needle size, or just cast on less stitches. Really, it doesn't get much easier than this.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My mind, it does not belong to me

My Grandmother, Frances Fusco Sneed, in her WAC uniform. Veteran's Day is always a day I remember her.

I'm going to try for a regular update thing. We've had a busy few weeks plus I've been sick, and am sick again, so cover your nose and mouth while reading this blog entry just in case I have swine flu. I wouldn't want to be an agent of the porkocalypse.

A couple of weeks ago, for Halloween, we went to visit friends in central PA and indulge in some visiting and foods and some year-end ritual and some hot tubbing, which by the way, was miraculous for my leg. I made good stuff to take up and share and took photos.


Homemade pepperoni bread. It amazed me that every recipe I found for pepperoni bread said "take frozen bread dough and ..." Why? Bread dough is so easy. I made my own Italian bread dough and rolled pepperoni and provolone into it and it was awesome.


I also made gingersnap cake starting from a mix and added cranberries and crumbled triple gingersnaps to the top.


Both were delicious. I wish I had time to bake more, as I really enjoy it.

We went to the park the next day with the dogs, and I took lots of photos. It was a glorious late-fall day and it resulted in a photo set, here in convenient slideshow format for your indulgence or not.

Still knitting, still making the same things. Also making a pair of mitts for me out of leftover yarn from the slippers I've been making.



I imagine I'll write up a pattern for the mitts. They're easy enough, but I haven't done a pattern in a while so I'll post this one. Once I'm finished.

Biscuit is weird. Still.

And Bob still knows it.

Deer in our yard, one morning. Cell phone picture so not great.

And the building caddy-corner from my office, first thing in the morning when it's dark out.

One of the Steelers lives there, and it's also where the Social Security office is.

It's kind of fun to let photos pile up on my cell phone, because sometimes I forget what all is there and when I go to unload them, I get some surprises.

This is the bridge between our two buildings at work. I call this Meatfunk Alley, because the exhaust fan from a Gyro place blows into it and it stinks. I haven't had a gyro since I've been working there.


This was our food, the night we went to Braddock's restaurant, the night we went to the Opera.


And this was in the window of Prantl's Bakery downtown, just before Halloween.

Poor Lily had to have 12 teeth taken out. She has had dental problems all along-probably a combination of bad genetics and poor nutrition as a puppy and while she was being bred. The first night home from the vet and we put a blanket in her corner for her to lay on. Dylan had to share the blanket, but the picture looks like he's laying there to keep an eye on her.

I think that's about it. I've got a lot of serious posts bumping around in my brain, but I can't seem to find the time to write them out. This is becoming a problem.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


The origins of the end-of-October seasonal holiday are those of last harvest. It's not a moon or sun phase holiday. It's not a religious observance in the strongest sense of the word. My interpretation/observance may be different from others. That's what you get here in Buttercupia.

So all year long, we've been growing things and creating things and putting things by, knowing that the dark of the year is coming. Back in August, we had a good harvest that took us through to here. Now we go back out into the fields to see what else we can come up with to eat and to nervously assess if we have enough. This concept works in both a literal and a spiritual sense. What have we wrought in our lives over the prior months? What yield did we take from our gardens, metaphorically and actually? What did we accomplish? Do we have enough, and is anything going to go to waste?

So we get together. Those who have more pass it along to those who have perhaps been less productive or less fortunate. (That lives on in children going from door to door begging candy.) Feasts are given with the bounty that we can't preserve. We finish the work of clearing the last grain and fruit and squash out of the fields and putting it into a form that will sustain us. Canning, drying, freezing. I've been in a bit of a "cook and freeze" kick this past week or two and I think the season explains it.

In the "olden days", people had a good reason to be nervous about this time of year. The growing season was at an end. All the grain and veg and fruit they were going to get was in the pantry now, and had to last a while. There weren't any grocery stores. Empires nervously calculated if there was enough winter wheat put by to make bread for the populace. Sometime it wasn't, and sometimes wars and revolutions happened as a result. So yeah, people get a little nervous. Customs arise out of necessity and ritual arises out of custom. That's how we become civilized.

So this year I look into the freezer and into the craft room and into the cupboards and into my heart and figure out if I've done enough to survive, to take us through the coming dark and into the spring, into the light. This is a tough time of year for me, personally. Family angst, bare branches, cold mornings, ache in my bones and joints that tell me I'm running out of reserves and I have to take more care. Dreams of my youth that tell me I'm older now and I'd better watch I don't run out.

I think it's been a good year. We have a full freezer, a nicely-stocked pantry. We're not going to go hungry, despite my fruit and vegetable anxiety. Inside, I've grown too. I'm trying to be more tolerant and understanding, while learning about my place in the world and figuring out what brought me here. Figuring out what will move me forward, keep me growing as a person and as a citizen of the planet and the human race. It's not always easy. In some things, like empathy and outrage and words, I have extra. In other things, like tolerance and understanding, I may need to go from door to door and collect a little extra from my neighbors. It's a process.

I know we'll survive until Spring, though. I know that Yule will find us rejoicing at our survival and prosperity as we share those special bits of bounty that we hid for the darkest times. I know my work, both public and private, both for pay and for joy, will continue to develop and I will continue to strive for a sense of pride in work, and maybe sometimes I'll find it.

May the last harvest find you all prosperous and happy.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Potato Leek Soup

My own version, started with Emeril's recipe and moved on from there.

About five pounds of young white potatoes, sliced thin or diced.
Three large leeks, cleaned and chopped
One large sweet onion
Half pound pancetta, cubed
Half a stick of butter
A pint of heavy cream
Most of a bottle of dry white wine
4 cups vegetable stock
Garlic to taste

2 tsp Rosemary
3 Bay Leaves
Tablespoon dried parsley
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Salt to taste if needed

In large soup pot, combine onion, garlic, pancetta, and butter. Cook over medium heat until the onions are soft and the pancetta is cooked. Add the leeks, stir to coat with oil. Add potatoes, wine and stock, and seasonings. Bring to boil, cover and simmer until potatoes are tender.

Mash potatoes in the pot. I used a hand masher, you could use an immersion blender if you like. Add the heavy cream, stir, and simmer until cooked to taste.

If you're into puree type soups, you can run the whole thing through a food processor when it's done but I like chunkier soups, plus I don't have a food processor.

Also, I cleaned the potatoes really well and left the skins on. I like the nutrient boost from the skins, but if you're a purist, you'll want to peel them.

Pictures later, maybe.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Move me on to any black square

It's been a while since I posted here and really no excuse-just busy. Two weeks ago, my younger daughter Anna was here. Last week, I had a cold. And this week, well, no reason in particular, I just felt overwhelmed.

I've been knitting like a mad thing. Am currently on the seventh hat and have four pair of "Mama Janes" knitted. They still need finishing. I'm down to 1.5 pair of socks to get done before the dread winter holiday so I don't think I'll be rushed this year.

I mentioned Anna was in town a couple of weeks ago-she was in for a wedding and we had a nice but very brief visit.


We had dinner on Sunday at my mom's house with some other family and of course the wonderful sister reunion of the two of them. I know how much they miss each other, and I'm glad Anna has a better car now-maybe she will be able to visit more.

We went to Idlewild the following week. We haven't been since the week after we got married, and it was a really nice time. Here's a slideshow, but I'll pull out some favorites.

It was their "HallowBoo" event and not all the rides were open, but there were lots of people (and kids) and I did ride a few rides. My leg held out better than I expected, too. Some favorites from the train ride...



It's really unworldly beautiful up there.

They had some funny/seasonal stuff set up in the woods.



But the scariest thing I saw all day was in Storybook Forest.


F...E...A... hmmm, what letter could be missing???


Not all was scary though.


Truly, one of my favorite places.

A few random crafting photos and I'll close. I'm overtired, overwrought, overworked, and have a lot on my mind.


(this yarn is handspun BFL and like knitting puppy kisses. It's amazing. Best yarn I ever made.)

(Angee from Cookie A's Sock Innovation book. A gift)

(My "alaria" pattern [see sidebar] in Fibranatura Yummy.)

Handspun cashmere neckwarmer.

Oh, and check out this awesome basket I won at the Western PA Wildlife Center's Harvest Festival.
(plus a gift card for a local restaurant)

It's been an interesting and busy few weeks, but nothing momentous or earth-shattering, just highly unmotivated to write or thinking "I'll write later" and it doesn't happen. I need to stop doing that.