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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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Airing of Grievances

I'm not really a festivus person but the title seemed appropriate as I sit here wrapping christmas presents, listening to my sample of the White Stripes to decide if I actually like them as much as I think I do, and trying my hardest to ignore the SOS signals coming from my leg. I had a fall last weekend and banged up my bad knee pretty badly in the driveway and I have had no time to get to the doctor as well as no time off I could take. So it has to wait. I am off today, though, because that was a planned absence because holiday festivities were to take place here tomorrow morning, but now that isn't going to happen either. Whatever. I'm trying to make the best of it, but damn, it's not easy.

Younger daughter is in from Tennessee. She arrived last night. I have really missed her. I mean, a lot. I wish she'd move back here. I understand why she wants to stay there.

To add annoyance to injury, I broke off a big hunk of one of my molars on Monday, and no, I can't get to the dentist either, until at least the week after next. I'm using that wax they make for braces so the jagged tooth doesn't slice up my tongue any worse than it has to.

I was planning to pile up all the handknits and take a group photo, but I didn't get to do that, and I'm still working on Bob's socks. If I apply myself tonight and tomorrow, I should be able to finish them. Now the rest of it is wrapped. I'll finish this post with a retrospective.

If I can make it through the next two weeks without landing in the hospital for any reason I'll be very happy.

It is my fondest wish that everyone have the best possible holiday and face 2011 with a bright face and hopeful feelings. Love to all.

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Multnomah in Falkland club "Pacific"


Multnomah in Falkland club "Croci"

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Testing, testing. This post is only a test. If this post had contained actual blogging content, you would not have been bored to tears with it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Plugging along


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Originally uploaded by mensabuttercup
Two and a half pair of socks done. One more sock and I'm there. Oh, and I need to finish Bob's. And possibly finish the ones I started for my daughter's roommates in Tennessee. And possibly make something for my step-cousin. But after one more sock, the pressure's off and I can do what I want.

Maybe I'll spin something. :)

Monday, December 06, 2010

PSA-What I am is what I am

And what I am not is Mrs Bob.

Don't get me wrong. I love my husband dearly, and am delighted to have taken his last name, mostly because in the time I've known him, he's done more for me in more ways than the father I never knew who saddled me with a name I know nothing about, a name that belongs to strangers.

But... When I get a piece of mail addressed to Mr and Mrs Bob, I get angry. It's the erasure of my identity as a person in that casual address, as if I am an adjunct to Bob and have no meaning or purpose without him. This is very much not the case. Bob and I love each other very much and are very much a couple, but we are not a single unit.

Women have been expected to disappear into how men define them for most of civilized history. I refuse this. Men are not compelled to discard their first or last names. Nor are they compelled to declare their marital status in their form of address, why should women have to do so? I am Ms Jamie, not Mrs. Bob. I will not be defined by any societal mannerism that diminishes me.

I took Bob's name because it was a way for me to both honor him and shed a name that that came to mean very little to me once my grandmother passed away. My father brought me nothing but pain and emotional damage. He ruined my ability to trust people, ruined my capacity for interacting with men in a healthy manner for most of my life, and ruined any chance of a normal, healthy relationship with his family. In fact, I feel his behavior robbed me of half my family. I was happy to get rid of his name and take the name of a man who loves and respects me, who would never abandon me, who treats me like a valuable part of his life and not like an unfortunate accident who should not exist.

(Plus, Bob's name only has one syllable, and I've always wanted a name with one syllable.)

So, if you're sending me a card this year, do me a favor, and address it to the people who live here, Bob and Jamie Fritz. It signifies that you acknowledge me as a person, and not just an extension of an admittedly wonderful man.

Thanks.

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Sunday, December 05, 2010

Savory Sweet Potatoes with Bacon Crumb Topping

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This is an easy recipe I came up with when trying to do something different with sweet potatoes for thanksgiving.

Quantities of everything are pretty much to your taste. Mine served 12 people, but it was in the context of a thanksgiving feast where the table was groaning from the load of delicious foods.

Ingredients
5 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed. (approx 4-5 pounds)
Reserved sweet potato peels (try to get a good number of long, reasonably straight peel pieces, as you are going to cook these.)
1/2 pound thin sliced good quality bacon
Two medium sized shallots
Heavy cream or half and half
Ginger, ground
Honey
Sea Salt

Scrub the potatoes well before peeling as you are going to use the peels in the crumb topping. Boil cubed sweet potatoes until they are a good consistency to mash.

While the potatoes are cooking, cook the bacon. Cook it nice and crisp, then place on paper towels to drain. Reserve the bacon fat.
Place a layer of potato skins into the bacon fat and cook until crisp, turning halfway through. Drain on paper towel with bacon. Do this two more times for three pansful of crispy potato skins.
Slice shallots very thin and cook in bacon fat until just crisp, being careful not to burn. Drain on paper towel with bacon and skins.

Place the bacon, the potato skins, and the shallots into a bowl and crumble together with your hands or a pestle. Set aside.

Mash the sweet potatoes using a hand masher, a ricer, or a mixer, to your preferred consistency. Add cream or half and half to taste. Add sea salt, ginger, and honey to taste. Since sweet potatoes vary greatly in sweetness depending on variety and season, you really have to taste them to get them flavored the right way. You want a nice hint of sweet and salt without it being overpoweringly sweet. We're not making candied yams here!

Spread the potatoes in a deep casserole dish or baker. Sprinkle crumbled mixture on top.

You may now reserve the dish for as long as you need to, I made mine the morning of thanksgiving and baked it uncovered for about 20 minutes before mealtime. It was delicious.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

2/3 of the way


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Originally uploaded by mensabuttercup
I'm proud to report that two of the three yarns pictured there have been made into a pair of socks, and the third one is well begun. That leaves one and a half socks for Bob, finishing a couple of scarves, and something for my cousin, probably another scarf. I have three weeks. I feel much better about this now than I did a couple of weeks ago.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Leaving Light Up Night


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Originally uploaded by mensabuttercup
I took this photo of the Transportation Center with my cell phone last weekend leaving downtown. It was a lovely crisp late fall evening and people were streaming into downtown Pittsburgh while I was streaming out.

I'm happy to report one of the three skeins of sock yarn has been dispensed with, the second is well-started, and I have a plan for the cousin and the father in law who need gifts. All is well. I have almost a month, after all!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Daunting


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Originally uploaded by mensabuttercup
Three big cakes of sock yarn. Three pair of socks that need to be done by December 24th. I have chosen the patterns, wound up the yarn, cracked my knuckles, put "eye of the tiger" on the stereo, and am staring down a large glass of raw eggs, all in an effort to procrastinate further.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A week's work


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Originally uploaded by mensabuttercup
1282 yards of sportweight three ply and 189 yards of laceweight two ply. This is the Bluefaced Leicester wool I dyed a few weeks ago. I've been shirking my holiday knitting and spinning it up in the evenings. It took me about a week, and for a pound of fine yarn, that's not too bad. I have enough to make myself a sweater or tee. And it's soft and beautiful. I could not be more pleased with it!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

You make the best of what's still around

So I had a severe computer crash last weekend. There was some sort of power problem that caused the surge protector to kick off, and when I turned the computer back on, there was a BSOF. (Black Screen of Futility) I attempted to start in regular, safe, last known, etc but no dice. Nothing would work. Fortunately we have a very dear friend who enjoys (he claims!) fixing computers and figuring out weird problems like this. I am proud to say that Dave said he's heard of crashes like this, but he's never seen one in the wild. It's not often that you get to show something completely new to someone who has been working with computers since personal computing began.
At any rate, buying that online backup program from Comcast ended up being a very good idea because I did not lose the thousands of photographs, knitting patterns, musical files, and so on that I had when my hard drive got wiped out. All is restored now, except my email which has shuffled off this mortal coil for good. Still no idea what happened to the computer or why, only that there was no hardware failure.

So anyway. This week is our "Moveiniversary". Veterans' Day 2002 is when Bob took a huge chance and loaded up his Accord with all his belongings and moved to a new city and a new home to be with someone he'd only met two months previously. I took a huge chance having a strange man with no job move into my home with my daughters and me. Over the years, I'd learned not to trust my instincts where men were concerned, and with reason. After talking to the aforementioned Dave, who knew Bob from Mensa, I decided to give my instincts one more go. It was probably the best decision I ever made.

Here's Bob and Dave together at our wedding. Dave served as best man since he was partially responsible for us getting together in the first place.

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My best friend Melissa was our matron (though she insisted on Maid) of honor because she was my best friend, and because she saw a picture of Bob before he moved in and said he had the kindest eyes she ever saw. She was given to hyperbole, but in this case I don't think she was exaggerating.

So I'm knitting and spinning and getting busy being one of santa's elves in my fibery workshop and enjoying it for the most part. I have three and a half pair of socks to knit and three scarves to finish in the next six weeks or so. And I still haven't decided on anything for my father in law. No pressure though, right? The hard parts are over.

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Multnomah in Falkland club "Pacific"

Multnomah in Falkland club "Croci"

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Beaded sail

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We're going to see Omara Portuondo tonight to celebrate. And we're having dinner in the restaurant that is in the first floor of the building where I work. There are good reasons for this.

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

All done!


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Originally uploaded by mensabuttercup
Surprisingly, I'm not really in love with it yet. Maybe it will grow on me, or maybe it'll end up a gift.

I'm not making any hasty decisions in any case. Follow the photo for more photos!

Bob went to Columbus for the weekend so I've been listening to a lot of music, watching the dogs, and cleaning a bit. It's a little depressing how messy the house was but it's better now, except for the craft room, which needs an intervention. And Anna's old room, which is starting to turn into Dump Stuff Central, which I do not like. Maybe a project for next weekend.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Work in progress


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Originally uploaded by mensabuttercup
Working on this simple lace shawl in handspun yarn. It's a two ply heavy laceweight handspun. The roving was a gorgeous graduated braid running from yellow into purple and I managed to split it in half lengthwise to preserve the color change during spinning. I wanted a simple lace project for it, so I'm doing a crescent-shaped feather and fan shawl that, although I'm a little behind on holiday knitting, is probably going to be mine.

There's nothing wrong with being a little selfish now and then. And I have a couple of months to go. Right?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Color my world

I'm mad I can't go to Rhinebeck this year so I went through my fiber stash and found some undyed fiber to play with. I have a sample pack of Jaquard acid dyes and some white vinegar and a pot that I can dedicate to dyeing so why not.

Into the pot...
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The first one was actually purple and red and blue. I am not sure what the fiber is but I suspect it's merino. It was not marked, which tells me I got it in a destash and didn't pay too much for it, so it was a good one to begin with.

It came out like this.
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Not bad, eh?

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Emboldened by my success, I moved on to a bag I knew was in fact Merino. That is the one pictured in the pot above.

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Even better! I think this one may be my favorite.

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I'm well known to be a sucker for blues and greens, though.

The final pot of the day was some Bluefaced Leicester.

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Varying blues over a very pale lilac.

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Everything is out drying in the fall sunshine. I don't think anything is felted beyond redemption, and all in all it was a good experience, something I'll do again in the right weather and with enough vinegar.

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I know I've been away for a good long while. I had some trouble with my glasses, that kept me from doing more on the computer than absolutely needed, but that's been mostly resolved. I still need new glasses, but I can see again, thanks to Armour Etch and it's handy removal of my incredibly crazed anti-glare coating.

Then there was the RG. A great success and lots of fun. With some tweaking, next year will be even better.

All along I've been knitting and spinning and falling in love with spindles all over again. I blame Abby Franquemont, and her amazing book, Respect the Spindle. Here's a few of my most recent acquisitions.

A turkish by Valkyrie, currently spinning up a lovely BFL/Silk blend.

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a Bosworth Mini in Zebrawood that I am still getting to know.
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Gorgeous custom turned French style spindle from Gripping Yarn.
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A reproduction Victorian spindle by Spanish Peacock.
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a Tiny Turkish from Threads Through Time spinning some amazing mulberry silk.
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Just so you can tell what's meant by "tiny"...
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and finally, a Fibership from Dyakcraft.
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It's hard to say but I think that one is my favorite-it really spins like a dream and is so pretty. A tiny flick and it goes and goes.

Believe it or not, I still have a couple on my list, mainly a Tibetan spindle, and a Russian and a Rose from Gripping Yarn. They're all different and all wonderful in their own ways, and if any of them suffer from disuse, they're quite easy to destash on Ravelry in the spindle groups.

And of course, knitting. I'm working on a few holiday gifts, have finished quite a few, and need to get on socks in earnest.

I'll close with this odd yard ornament we saw on the way home one day. Can't tell what it is from as far away as we were but I can tell what it looked like from there. Yikes.

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