Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Every year, despite the fact that I'm not part of any culture who traditionally does this, I set up a Dia De Los Muertos altar in our home. I know some folks get their knickers all up in a wad when they thing you are co-opting someone else's culture, but y'all, here in America we are all each other's culture. What makes us stronger is when we share. We are a culture comprised of a lot of multi-colored, multi-religious, multi-opinioned pieces that actually fit very well together when people aren't being total fuckwits about it. So yeah, sure, cherish and celebrate your own, absolutely. But cherish those of other folks too and celebrate them if it speaks to you. Let it be one thing we share rather than something that sets us farther apart. This has become a really meaningful tradition in our family each year and I'm glad it was there for us to learn from.

I was just going to let it pass by this year because of time and feeling a little disconnected, but as the day approached, I really felt like I needed to do it. I went digging for all my Dia De Los Muertos stuff and then spent a happy morning making fimo skullies and tiny roses for glueing into miniature altars made out of cardboard ring boxes, glitter, paint and loteria cards. I accidentally burned the fimo and made Uber Goth Dead Roses, which pleased me no end.

So here it is, in the beginning stages.
ddlm1

ddlm2

ddlm3

ddlm4

I need to get some pan de muertos, some mums and flowers and a bunch more candles, I need to make some food offerings which I'll do tomorrow, and then I think it's done. One of these years I want to do the whole big installation with a door and lots of room, but we are space challenged and this is about the best I can come up with and not disrupt the traffic flow around the house. Also, I know I'm a Jew and that's a skelly Virgin of Guadalupe but I found it irresistable. I'll grab a pic of the whole thing when it's lit up and the flowers and bread and offerings are out tomorrow night.

it's a good way to remember folks who I loved who want for remembrance.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

I write about food a lot in this blog. I can't help it, I love to eat. So now the holiday goodies are starting to trickle in at the shop and I'm finding it harder and harder to resist them. A sampling of some of the stuff we're now carrying over the holiday season:

cranberries cooked in Pays D'oc wine (yum, so good!)
fig and balsamic confit (spread on brie, wrap in pastry crust, bake, yum! or just put on ice cream! or foie gras! or, um. eat with a spoon!)
shallot confit (caramelized shallots, y'all!)
chestnuts from France
are already in the store! And these are coming soon!
apple, pear, butterscotch jam
lavender or rosemary honey from Provence
honey drops (hard honey "shell" outside, soft honey center)
sea salt caramels
herb and fruit tisanes
and SO MUCH MORE.

Every time I get to work there's more good stuff that we didn't have before. Plus we got all these fabulous new olive oils. It is INSANE. So. Much. Good. Food. And me, with an employee discount. I'm never gonna keep my girlish figure at this rate.

It's the weekend, so I'm mostly working and not knitting. Yarn later. Food porn now. Don't forget, we fall back an hour tonight. Set your clocks!

Friday, October 27, 2006

simple pleasures

The first Yunnan tea and pumpkin pie pairing of the season has come and gone. Truly I think this is one of my favorite food/tea combos, with the rich maple/earth/molasses qualities of the Yunnan blending so beautifully with the pumpkin and spices of the pie. I try to put this off until November every year but this year I was a few days early. We had pie last night after our roast chicken and steamed green beans. Delicious. Perfect.

There are also a few Honey Crisp apples in the fruit bin, small red apples bursting with sticky juice and so honey sweet, only available for a few weeks every fall. I heard about these apples for years before I found them, they finally made their way West and they are worth every penny. So now I am hanging out and sipping a cup of rich Yunnan well sweetened with turbinado sugar. I think happily of pumpkin pie and apple slices, and dream of crisp fall leaves, while hoping that the Santa Anas calm down enough for the weather to merit actual long sleeves one day soon.

I am tinking back about 4 rows of Serrano - yet another Stupid Knitter Trick - I read the wrong line of the direction and bound off for size small, not size large. D'oh! Caught it 4 rows later when my count wasn't right. Ah well, live and learn. I'm shaping the sleeve cap at the moment. I think when I get that sorted and on waste yarn, I'll knit the body and then the second sleeve last. Stupid Knitter Tricks aside, it's going so beautifully.

Nothing like finding yet another mistake and realizing you have to tink AGAIN, to make you think of all manner of blistering invective that you can't actually say because you're sitting at the mechanics in a waiting room with a very nice elderly gentleman who looks as if he might keel over if you let loose.

I got one of my teapots back from the kiln today! It's STUNNING. Pics soon. They're having overglaze problems with Duncan, so the other teapot is not done. Both teapots are spoken for/sold, at this point, as far as I know. At least, I think one of them is spoken for and I KNOW the other one is sold. I'm getting a little antsy as I have presents and commissions to get done and am about to hit my retail holiday hell (and also it's NaNoWriMo!) and I have NO pottery made to sell and the kiln is being... vague... about when this will be sorted out. I do, however, have my Etsy storefront registered, and soon there will be actual content. And a banner, courtesy of Miss Knotty Mouse, a la Mousie Masala. So. Very. Shiny.

http://rainware.etsy.com

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Serrano... powered by too much Halloween candy

serranosleeve

Houston, we have one sleeve, about halfway done. Another 6 inches or so and I get to shape the sleeve cap.

Increases: I did this wrong I think? Not sure. But it seems like a wrong that will end up working out ok. It's an m1 on each side, every 7 rows, for a total of 8 increases (on the size I'm knitting). Rather than work the stitches into the pattern and end up with an unbalanced pattern, and because the st st portion will end up seamed on the bottom, I felt okay keeping the lace pattern centered and the increases on the outside of my pattern markers. This will not work on the waist increases/decreases and other shaping in other areas, but for the sleeve it was fine. You won't be able to see the area where the lace becomes st st once it's seamed and on. Now I'm at a point where I can fit another entire repeat on each side so that is going to be a little less "obvious" as I go.

This sweater as a whole is absolutely a little bit outside my current skillset. The finishing process and putting the pieces together in particular are going to be really challenging. Knitting the sleeve first was a good idea, I'm making a lot of mistakes where it's easy to rip or even tink back a row or two and I don't lose too much work. When I get to shaping the body, it will not be as difficult as it seemed the first time 'round. I'm glad I'm sticking with it and I'm having a thoroughly good time with this one. As I've said repeatedly, it is just so clever and well designed.

The only other comment I have to say is that the "miracle of blocking" had better work on this puppy because it looks *extremely* small. The pattern says this will be the case. I now understand why one checks gauge on both unblocked AND blocked swatches. I did not check the blocked swatch, so must knit on and wonder if it is going to fit me in the end and block to pattern specs. It should be ok, it feels like it will block well and I was spot on with unblocked gauge. I reassure myself that if it is too small for me it will most assuredly fit one of the children and my work will not be in vain - but after all this? It had damn well better fit ME.

There is $20 worth of Halloween candy sitting in the snack bin. The children talked me into it and I, because I am STILL having PMS from hell (PMS + Santa Ana conditions = I'm about to go all Raymond Chandler on someone's ass) I did not resist the siren call of Nestle caramel minicrisps, or Kit Kat snack size bars or any of the other "good" candy we got. See, I buy "good" (read: chocolate, brand name) candy. My husband, Mr. Yarnpirate, buys "crap" (read: 50 gallon drum of no name crap that is not even chocolate that hello! no trick or treater in their right mind would want!) candy.

Invariably, if I buy the candy, we end up having to buy more just before Halloween. I am not sure why. I AM sure that the new Dove milk chocolate and caramel squares are quite possibly filled also with crack. That must be why I can't leave them alone.

Friday, October 20, 2006

kts2

Thank you Jaime! Talk about booty! My KTS2 swap came today! Oh my gosh! There's honey (made from bees local to my pal!) and sugar sticks and a caramel cube, some nifty stitch markers, two skeins of koigu in one of my favorite colorways (how did you KNOW???) and a skein of Lambs Pride that is just begging to be a winter cap. And then some teas! There's a tin of mystery tea, it looks kind of like black tea with cornflower and chamomile, but I'm not sure. And then .5 oz each of City Harvest Blend and Spiced Ginger Mint. Yum!!! Those came from The Tea Trove. Also there's a bag of sticky fingers scone mix! My favorite!

Today I had Adventures With Fast Food and Adventures At The Grocery Store. The first, not so much fun. Mental note, no matter HOW hungry you are, no matter HOW yummy you think you remember fast food being, it is NOT yummy and you will feel ill after eating it. Just drive home and make a sandwich. That's right, I ate my first fast food in... well it's been so long that I don't remember how long. I tell ya, I think I'd have been safer having bacon wrapped mystery meat on Hollywood Blvd from an unlicensed street vendor at 2am than eating that Western Bacon Smells Like Death Chicken Sandwich.

At the grocery store, my basket contained a HUGE london broil, two heads of fresh broccoli, fresh bread, shallots, two romance novels and two quarts of Brownie Batter ice cream. I might as well have been carrying a big old sign over my head in neon, screaming, "HEY! I HAVE PMS! ALSO! HI! IT IS THE GRUMPY WEEK OF THE MONTH! FOR YOUR OWN SAFETY, GET OUT OF MY WAY!" because nothing says hormonally challenged like red meat, chocolate ice cream and trashy romance novels. I may be the only person in the world who craves green veggies at this time of the month, but I assure you, they really do help.

Knitting? I ripped out my sock again. But the sleeve is growing nicely, thank you. I'm in the "continue until sleeve measures 8.5" portion of the pattern and I think we're good until the increases start....

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The week in knitting in review: Heavy yarn vomit with a high chance of tequila.

yep, that's right, I had to frog Serrano AGAIN. But. I am tenacious. I cast back on, I put on my thinking cap, I knit both cuff halves together on one circ and I think, I daresay, I have prevailed. THIS TIME, it is going smoothly!

serranosleeve
Two cuff halves, joined!

sleeve up close
Close up.

So far, so good. *fingers crossed* The picture doesn't show it well but the stitch count is working out fine and the repeats all line up where they should be and I think I may actually have a SLEEVE starting to form on the needles! WOOO!

Next hurdle: increases. See Rainy rely heavily on her lifeline!

Otherwise, I've been having adventures with tech supports, blinky lights and working lots. Yay!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Serrano continues to give me fits, but I cast back on a sleeve and after going back through the KAL comments and questions, I think I figured the thing I was having issues with, out. Huzzah. Jeeeeez. Maybe I'm not up to a 'piquant' pattern after all. I will persevere, though, just watch me. I am GLAD I started the KAL because at least other people are making (and solving) the same mistakes as me. This pattern is not easy. But I love it.

I started the new socks yesterday while I was riding the bus and I really liked the pattern I picked but now not so much 3" later. It's a little tight. I may frog and redo something different.

What is it with the frogging? Everything this week, frogged.

Enjoying the fun over at KTS2. Loving the posts and seeing what people are getting from their swap pals. The pictures and descriptions are awesome. I've heard from my most excellent spoiler (and am very anticipatory!) and got my spoilee package off last week - I am told it has arrived, so YAY! I think half the fun is the anticipation of waiting to see what someone thought of your box, you know? This was fun, I'll do it again next time if they have another round, and given that I'm a little broke right now going into the holidays, it's probably good that I'm not doing a full 3 rounds of SP!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Stupid. Knitter. Tricks.

Hey look, I've been working on Serrano!

serranofrogged

Yes, that IS a bottle of Patron tequila and a Cthulu shot glass thank you very much. Sometimes strong medicine is required when frogging hours of work.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

str purple rain
I need a swift and ball winder. I think I'm asking for one for Xmas for sure. I gave in to temptation a few weeks ago and acquired a skein of Socks that Rock in "Purple Rain" because, well, it had my name in it and it was gorgeous, and I wanted it. So now I am winding it. Since the mom socks got finished, I really do need a sock project to carry around with me.

str pr close
Seriously, these colors. SO gorgeous.

serrano 2nd repeat
slow but definite progress on Serrano. I'm really happy with the way this is coming along, even if I am maybe having to wing it with the waist decreases because I might have sort of done it wrong but it looks fine and the count is ok, so that's what really matters, right? Not a lot of knitting time, but I'm making it work.

I've been a stay home mama for about 10 years now and this fall I went back to work selling the premium olive oil to the masses, as I've mentioned before. This morning I have been running around getting some laundry done and tidying up the place, finishing putting the kitchen back into order, and keeping one eye on the clock because I have a closing shift today. Tomorrow is going to be the same and the day after that I work an opener until 5:30. So I'm taking things out of the freezer, planning some meals for the week in advance, making sure kids have their keys, all the while cleaning, doing laundry, making sure I eat and am medicated, all the things I've done as a stay home mom for years - but now it's in fast forward and there is no sense of being able to do it all in *my* own time - rather, I have to do it in the time I have. I stood there with the fridge door open, holding my little package of frozen chicken and the thought flashed through my mind, "Yes, well this is what most of the world does. So get used to it." and that was a good thought. Like it's not so special or novel, it's just what people have to do and I can do it too. I am just like everybody else.

There are solutions to all my problems. Not easy fixes, not happy fixes, but solutions that make it work. Whatever happens, I can make it work. The dominoes of self-crippling ideas that I've accumulated over the years are all tumbling down in my head and there is this pattern which they are forming, looks a lot like letters and they are spelling out C-A-P-A-B-L-E and I really like how it feels.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Ok I am pondering uses for white truffle infused olive oil seeing as how I now have 8.5 oz of it sitting in my cupboard. 30% off, even. I love my job.

So lay your food pr0n on me, what's your favorite use for truffle oil goodness?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Today has been all about Stupid Knitter Tricks. Like, putting the waist decreases for Serrano in the entirely wrong place. So had to tink back, unknit, ladder down three rows, pick up stitches and then put the decreases into the *right* place which took most of an hour. Oh how I love to waste time. Though there's certainly something to be said for figuring out how to fix stuff without having to frog the hell out of everything. I think I really must be the world's slowest knitter, but it's coming along anyway. I'm beginning to have faith that there is actually a sweater on those needles.

Monday, October 02, 2006

serrano repeat 1

Serrano -first repeat and hem. Have I mentioned what a cunning hem this is? Cleverly fashioned. Ditto the facings for the hook/eye closures. Slipped stitch every other row insures that it will fold neatly when the time comes to sew it down. This is a well thought out pattern. I can already tell that the details are neatly designed to make the finishing look sharp and professional. It's hard to photograph black yarn, but you can get an idea of the stitch pattern anyway and it'll look great when it's blocked. Ah the miracle of lace, right? This is a GREAT knit. It's the perfect weight for LA and has a great feel and nice stitch definition.

You know that you want to join our knit along! C'mon, all the cool kids are doing it!

I'm afraid Icarus has been languishing in the knitting bag while I've been obsessing over busy with Serrano, but I've been carrying My So Called Scarf around everywhere since it is a fairly simple pattern to do while you're busy doing other things. That's growing nicely and I am about to wind up and start on the second skein. Hopefully that'll be done and off the needles by the end of the month.

I'm afraid I've gone and gotten myself hooked on that new NBC show Heroes which has lots of things I like and which I think everyone should check out. They're streaming it over at NBC.com if you missed the first few eps. Go, go, it's actually must-see TV!