Thursday, June 26, 2008

More Yarn Pron

I got more prize yarn in the mail today. What a great yarn week! Such great stuff, and free, can't beat that can you? I mean you're not likely to find someone that's willing to pay you to take their yarn from them. Although if you do find someone, please tell me. That's a job I'd love to take.
This is Socks That Rock Lightweight in the Rare Gems colorway. Rare Gems is a "random" colorway made from left over dyes, or experiments, or from dying over an already dyed skein. This is one of the reasons why it's not purchasable online, too much work.

So here's some close-ups of some of the colors that are around the skein. There are lots of tealy variations in the yarn. Dark, light, bright, muted. It's like all the other colors are surrounded by a teal base.
I won this skein for correctly guessing the two colors used to knit a pair of socks for Tina (the BMFA dyer). We winners chose light or medium weight and then BOOM special coolass yarn. Isn't this purple neat?
I really like this side of the skein. It's so much brighter than the front. The bright green and orange really jump out at you.
I'm really curious what this is going to look like once it's wound into a ball, and again once it's knit up. I just haven't got a clue, but I think it will be a lot of fun.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I <3 Yarn

Back in April I showed you a cat in a slip. That picture was one of two that tied to win the creative award for the 3rd round of Sock Madness this year. Well today my prize came in the mail, and boy was it worth waiting for. My prize came from Tess' Designer Yarns. This is a group shot of all 4 skeins. Those bluish looking ones are really gorgeous purples, but my camera refuses to tell you the truth. I received 3 skeins of Superwash Lace Merino (very fitting since round 3 was knit using laceweight yarn) and 1 skein of a new sock yarn called Peruvian Sock.You can see a little more of the purplish color on this close-up of the Peruvian Dream Sock yarn that I got. This is one of their new yarns that is 60% Superwash Merino, 20% Silk, 10% Alpaca, 10% Nylon. The skein feels nice and sproingy, and I know it's going to make some kick arse socks.
Below are close ups of the 3 Superwash Lace skeins. There are so many variations of shade in these skeins, and they are soooo soft. I'm completely torn on what to do with them. I really think that I might make another pair of slip stitch socks with them... yes using all 3 colors. But since I'm in the middle of Nanner socks I have some time to think on it.

You can see that my camera wouldn't even take a good close up of the purple, but trust me on this one. This skein is a purple's purple. I want to call it bright and dark at the same time. It has subtle shading within, but it is the definition of purple.
This orange almost glows in sunlight. The colors range from almost yellow to a darker more Cheeto orange (sorry, I guess I'm hungry). It's a beautiful skein of yarn.
The green is cool with shades that vary between a yellower base green and a bluer base. It's such a soft gentle color that I love it next to the electric orange and the vibrant purple.
I am thrilled with my prize pack, and with the colors Melinda sent me. When she asked me what color I'd like for the Peruvian Sock I asked her to send one of her favorites, I think that was a smart decision, cause I LOVE purple.

Monday, June 23, 2008

No Go Yogurt

I decided to give Rachel's yogurt another try today. I figured that I'd give it a fairer shake by doing several things differently.
1. I bought something with a flavor name, instead of an "essence".
2. I searched for something with the furthest out possible expiration date.
3. I kept it colder, to prevent texture issues from slight warming.

I have concluded that this is a thinner yogurt than I tend to eat. I don't think it's too runny when cold, but even slight warming makes it too thin for my taste. I prefer something closer to a custard than a smoothie. It is also much more sour than I like. This time I got a mango, pineapple, passion fruit blend and I could tell that it was tasty, but it was just too sour for me personally. I don't even eat candy that's very sour. I will eat cherry sours and lemon drops, but not anything that most candy eaters would consider a "sour" candy (warheads, sourpatch kids, strips with sour powder whatever those are called).

So I give up, and I won't be buying anymore of that yogurt. They have interesting sounding flavors, and pretty packaging. If you like sour yogurt then you should give them a try, just be ready for a bit of a pucker.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Plurking Isn't as Dirty as it Sounds

Work today was one of the most hectic, crappy, stressful days that I've had in a long time. This does not bode well for next week. As a rule of thumb, if the week before the end of the quarter is crazy then the actual week that ends the quarter will kick thy ass. On a positive note there did not appear to be 400 people laid off, which had been a popular rumor for the last few days.

What I wanted to post about earlier today, but couldn't for reasons above, was Plurking. I've fallen into a deep dark well... okay not really dark, but a deep brightly colored well called Plurk. Plurk is kind of like Twitter, but I feel it has a couple of advantages. I find it way more entertaining to say for one, and that's half the battle won right there. I also find it more attractive to look at.

It's still very much the same sort of device. You post little blurbs of 140 characters or less and it creates a timeline of your day. Really the only things I like more about Twitter are that I've found people I know who use it (albeit very little) and you can update through SMS. Now, if I had unlimited texts so that I could follow other peoples twits through SMS I might be more into it, but all I can afford is to send mine then read stuff later online.

Additional reasons I prefer Plurk are more numbered. It groups responses to a plurk under it, like a conversation. You can embed links, photos, and videos in a plurk or response. Even though there is not a text message posting option the web version of Plurk is quite fast even when on ATTs edge network. I figure when we get 3G phones it will be even better. I'm just looking forward to gaining a few more Karma points so that I can change the color of my timeline and also get the dancing nanner emoticon. (I have such high aspirations in life, don't I?)

So if you want to join in and be my friend you can click here. I've only got a few people that I'm following so far, but as I get more fluent with Plurk I know I'll be adding more. It was a bit overwhelming at first, but now I'm having a great time.

I figure if nothing else this explains that little widget over in my sidebar, if you happen to actually view this on the blog itself rather than through a reader. That's the headless Plurk dog that will keep you posted even if you don't want to join in yourself. Now I'm going to go have an icecream and knit before dinner.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Not It

I found a new problem with me cooking dinner last night. It started when we got home much later than usual. Since normally Jeff cooks, I can just plop on the couch or in front of the computer on nights like that and wait for food to magically appear. I don't think I even started working on dinner until 7 last night, and after a few minutes I felt like it was going slower and slower and my stomach was starting to hurt and I got kind of bitchy. I ended up having Jeff cook the steak while I finished chopping the rest of my ingredients, so I still haven't really cooked meat yet, but it was either that or I was just going to give up.

I'm glad I didn't give up because the Mexican Chopped Salad was pretty good. I added an extra clove of garlic to the dressing, and the flavor was good, but there was way too much liquid. I think next time I'll try halving the liquid ingredients and keeping the garlic and jalapeno the same. The next time I make it I will also do something different with the red bell pepper. Jeff seems to like them in strips, so maybe I'll try that. I really don't like raw bell pepper at all, and it kept sneaking into my mouth along with the tomatoes because I couldn't tell them apart. By the time we finished off the salad I had a little hill of red squares left behind on my plate. We cut the steak into thin bite sized pieces, because I didn't want to need a nice for my salad, and the flavor worked really well with the rest of the salad. Without the steak it would have been tasty, but I don't think it would have been as satisfying. I can't just have a salad for dinner, lunch sure, but for dinner I need something more substantial.

Tonight is Jeff's turn to cook. I called "Not It" this morning. I have too many other things to take care of tonight, so cooking is not on the list. Still it's been fun. Of course now I want to create a cook book version of my knitting binder, so I can keep track of recipes I try and what I do differently. I can get plastic sleeves to put the recipes in to keep them from getting yucky while cooking, and then dividers to break them up into categories like type of meal, or main ingredient... (hmm.... maybe that's a little too much for someone that only has about 5 recipes to put away)

Free Cooking Tip:
I learned last night that you don't need 8 limes to get 1/4 cup of lime juice. My limes took about 1 and a half to get there. I now have 6 more limes. Margarita time anyone?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sweet Success

I have decided that it's high time that I learn how to cook. I'm not sure exactly how to go about this process. I have in the past learned how to make specific dishes, but not general cooking. Step one for me was starting to find out how to actually cut up vegetables and fruits, as opposed to hacking at them with a knife until they were the right size. This is still a work in progress, so if you see me in kitchen don't be surprised to find me doing something in a completely unorthodox and complicated manner which will likely involve using the "wrong" type of knife.

Other than learning basic food prep, I haven't figured out any other way to learn how to cook without just cooking more often. Jeff is usually our cook, and I've tried to learn by watching and that was a big pile of fail. I get in the way, bug him by asking too many questions, and I also get bored and then fail to listen, so that doesn't work. I've grabbed recipes from cookbooks, television, and various websites and they've mostly resulted in disaster*. I lack the cooking knowledge that lets people like Jeff look at a recipe and see inherent flaws in instructions or flavor ratios. I also lack the timing and techniques a more seasoned cook would have, so the deck is stacked against me when it comes to grabbing random recipes. My greatest successes have come from recipes supplied by friends, especially when they are on hand for the first cooking and I can get some off the cuff answers to my questions. Second runner up are recipes from people that I know online, I'm guessing because they tend to come from real people who don't spend their days creating complicated foods for a living.

All of that is leading up to: I cooked last night, and it was pretty darn good. I followed a link from Tim's blog and ended up on Epicurious. I found a few recipes that sounded like foods I would like to eat, and I might be able to prepare with minimal help from Jeff. Last night's recipe came from the Dinner Rush selections that are supposed to be quick and easy. I made the Avocado and Watercress Salad and the Lemon Fettuccine with Broccoli and Pancetta. They both came out really well, both of us were impressed with me. Tonight I'm going to attempt the Mexican Salad with Honey Lime Dressing, only I feel the need to add some meat so I've got a steak to cook and slice up with it. We'll see I guess.

Are there any recipes that you think I should check out? or online recipe sources that rarely let you down?

*Disaster in the case of my cooking means that it was inedible, even by the most polite company, or so terrible that it went straight from a pan to the trash.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Just One More

I am fixated. I'm not sure what the cause is. My brain is stuck on knitting. I'm supposed to be here working. I really do have things that I should be doing. I am taking off Friday so that we can head over to Dallas for the weekend, and catch the kiddos before they head off to their dad's at 6. I basically have a deadline of Thursday 4pm to get anything done that I want to get done this week, and I'm not doing it. I mean you see me here blogging for you, which unfortunately I do not get paid to do. I've checked on a few issues and made sure nothing is falling apart, but that's really all that I've managed.

I want to create knitting designs. Maybe it was inevitable that I would want to write real true patterns. I've always been willing to heavily modify a pattern to fit my vision, and that doesn't seem very far from creation. Some of my very first patterns involved having to change stitch counts, pattern repeats, or adding/subtracting embellishments (like the pattern for a "bunny" hat that I knit as a monkey and as a frog, but never as a bunny). I brainstorm best while actually knitting, so that's what I want to be doing. I have my club sock in my bag, and it's coming along quite nicely, but I try not to spend too much time knitting at work. I want to be knitting, scribbling notes/pictures and mostly just not being here pretending like I'm working, but that's not going to pay the bills.

Part of my problem is that I'm not sure where to start. What concept do I have in my head that doesn't already exist? I have a few ideas in my head, but I fear accidentally recreating a pattern that's already out there. For example, I had intended to write a sock pattern. I've had the concept in my head for a while, and had planned on that being my first all mine pattern. Well, the Zombie sock is almost exactly what I had in mind so that idea is scrapped. On the bright side I have a great sock pattern without having to figure it all out myself. Ideas I have are purses/bags of various sizes, socks (of course), perhaps more socks for men since those patterns can be more difficult to come by, hats because hats are fun, I even have some funky yarn bought specifically for creating an original scarf pattern. I think my goal is going to be to create at least one pattern this summer. That shouldn't be unrealistic.

Meanwhile I need to focus back on my work, and try to stop being a space cadet staring off into space. I have all weekend to think about yarn and knitting, so until then ... well maybe I'll just knit a couple of rounds to take the edge off. Then I'll get right back to work, promise.

Monday, June 9, 2008

It Doesn't Cure Dehydration

Jeff and I saw The Cure last night with Tim and Julie, and it was awesome! and hot! really hot. Seriously man, it was so hot. I keep trying to tell people what a great time I had and how they played so many awesome songs that I kept thinking it would be over after this one, and then they'd play another one of my favorites, but all I keep saying out loud is "It was SO hot". I guess I was traumatized. I really think if the show had gone on for one more encore that I might not have made it. Actually, it did get a little better towards the end, because I think some people left after the first encore ended, and even more people left during the second encore. It was kind of insane that they played two hours and then played two really long encores. I don't think I could have made it through a set like that. I hope they had better air conditioning than we did.

When we first got there I was really starting to get upset, because I couldn't see. I'm 5'6" and I've never felt so incredibly short in my whole life. There were people shorter than me sure, but it seemed like 80% were my height and another 9% were taller. It seemed like no matter where I tried to move some tall person would scoot over so all of a sudden I couldn't see again. In fact I'd started to think I was going to have to make do with watching Mr Shiny Pants* and occasionally the drummer, when I could see him. During the second song people started to shift, and I was able to catch glimpses, then Julie came to the rescue and found me a better view. For a while I could see really well, but then the crowd shifted and I was screwed again. When a new spot opened up Tim lined me up with a great view. I had 4 heads across of short people and I could see great! That one was eventually compromised and I just shifted back and forth a bit, trying to catch peeks where I could. By the time the second encore came I had a great view and it made the rest of the show worth the sore neck that I've still got.

The show was really awesome, and I'm still astounded that I was soooo close to the band. I mean, with a little effort I could have forced my way to within a few feet of them. It would have been easier during 60 Seconds of Something**, but that's not really my style. I'm not like all the pricks and prickettes that just shoved through the crowd to get up closer. I'm also not like the sort of people that would show up hours in advance to try and get up close real early then have to fight to keep my spot. Just knowing that I could have if I wanted to was enough for me. We were still really close, I'm terrible with distance, but I'd guess that we were within 30 feet of the stage.

Things I saw at The Cure (in no particular order)
- A girl with gigantic moles to the bottom left of her mouth smoke Marlborough lights. She was ugly, and slowly killing herself, so I suppose I'll forgive her rudeness, she's being punished enough.
- A ex-supervisor from work. I'll only call him SK because those are his initials, and I have nothing nice to say about him except that he was smarter than TS.
- A really short guy with a baseball cap that kept moving to be right in front of me. It wasn't really his fault that he kept ending up right in front of me, because he also had problems seeing through all the tall people, but it is his fault that he was wearing a baseball cap and kept turning his head in such a way that the bill of his hat would block my view.
- A lady with a gigantic purse. Giant purses in and of themselves are not criminal in my book; I own a lot of giant purses myself. However, you should not carry a large purse on your shoulder that is protrudes 4 inches in front of and behind you that is made of rope. Briefly she was in front of me and every time she moved it sawed a hole in my arm. If I still smoked I would have used my lighter to set it on fire.
- Lots of great people having a great time that kept their personal belongings and limbs in check. I'd say most of us fell into this category, but we're boring, so I'll keep going with the non-boring folks.
- A beer cup fall from the balcony above us and hit someone 4 feet away from me. I knew it was going to happen, and I was grateful to have moved away from the kill zone before it did.
- A strange guy doing weird dances that made him look really drunk or high, but since he never once hit anyone in the large crowd with his flailing limbs he must have been pretty aware of what was going on.
- A lady with a black veil and feather hat that didn't seem to want anyone to stare at her. Sorry, but if you have just a veil we might be able to pass it up, but when you add an 8 inch feather I've got to look.
- An arm punching the air from over the balcony above us. You couldn't see onto the balcony above us from below, so it was kind of impressive that I saw an entire arm up to the shoulder. They must have been practically hanging off the rail.
- A woman wearing a hot pink uglydress that wouldn't have looked good on very many people, and definitely not on her. She was standing spread legged on the balcony across the room from us, it was a strange posture and again I stared. I'm happy to report that you could not see up her skirt from where we were.
- I didn't see, but did smell someone smoking skunk somewhere nearby. Why do people only smoke skunky stuff in public? I wouldn't mind them doing it around me so much if they'd smoke something that smelled better.

I'd totally do it again, but I might try for a balcony seat. Now that I've been really close I think I'd like to settle for more comfort and maybe some binoculars. Does that make me officially old? I don't care, my tired old bones had a GREAT time! Thanks Tim for driving us all around, and to whoever suggested that I at least temporarily revoke my ban of Billy's Brew & Q. It was pretty tasty, and I wouldn't have ever gone otherwise.

*Sorry, I'm really bad with names, even with people I've actually met in person. I'd never have know who this was without Julie mentioning it. To me he will likely remain Mr Shiny Pants, but you deserve to know who the heck I'm talking about, so I stole that link from Julie's blog post.

**I actually remember their name, but last night Jeff and I were so wore out that even our brains were tired, and we kept butchering it in new and interesting ways. They are not a band I'd ever go see on purpose, but I think it would make kick ass sound track music for a zombie movie or maybe a horror slasher film.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Much Finishing This Morning

I finished up a couple of projects today. I stuffed Iza's frog last night, and today gave him a cute little smile. This would have been a very quick project if I'd had all the stuffing and eyes and actually finished the putting together in a timely manner. The actual crochet was very quick. I fretted over how to seam him together, and tried to find instructions, but in the end I just pretended to know what I was doing, and it seems to have worked out fine. Now I'll just try and keep him free of cat hair for the next week, and then he'll be off to his new home.
Since I was in the mood for completing projects, and since all these projects need to be ready to leave town on Friday I finally sewed the buttons onto Lily's Baby Surprise Jacket today. The baby socks and jacket are already covered in cat hair, because the cats kept laying on the yarn while I was making them. I' m going to wash all the baby stuff tomorrow and then they'll just need to dry by Friday.Now I can devote my full attention to my May club socks, or even start a new project guilt-free. I've completed all my current dead line projects, yea!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

More Like It

Well, that attempt to rip back to the toe failed, and I in fact had to begin all over again. Aargh! Someday I'll start to make real progress on this sock. The good news is that it looks properly like the pictures on the pattern now. So, maybe all my jinx will be done with and it will be smooth sailing from here on out.

I've also taken a few "before" shots of Iza's frog. I feel terrible, because I haven't named him (or her) yet. Maybe it will speak to me once it's stuffed and sewn together. Here's a shot of the empty frog husk. I also have cute little plastic eye bits to go on the whites, so they look my eye-ish. The mouth is just going to be embroidered on (I think) well I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.I also have a little strawberry plant that is doing quite well. I hope the bush he's planted under continues to protect him from the summer sun. It's already entirely too hot, and it's only just begun. This is the biggest and best looking plant, a total of 5 of my original 9 plantings are still coming along.

Try Try Try Again

I like to brag about being a fabulous knitter. I know, pride comes before the fall right? I should really keep my mouth shut. I still maintain that I'm a darn good knitter, however I am a terrible reader. I've been working on my RSC May socks since Friday when I got the yarn, and I've made very little progress. Julie was more than patient with me as I knit up the toe at her birthday party. I couldn't help myself. I mean, you've seen the yarn it's beautiful! I just had to start on it. I stopped knitting after the toe though, because that's where things get a little more complicated. Then we proceeded to party the night away, and we didn't stop until 4am. It was an awesome night of relaxed conversation and I'm glad the birthday girl enjoyed it.

The next morning I frogged the whole thing. I knew I'd made a mistake when working the toe, and I'd fudged it to just be done, but the next morning I wasn't happy with my decision. I couldn't even see where I'd messed up or fudged, but I really love this yarn so I wanted to do it right. I did work on Iza's present before I re-knit the toe. I have a little self control, just not much. This time the toe came out with the exactly perfect stitch count. I still don't know what I did wrong the first time, but at least I did it right the second time. Meanwhile I've made excellent progress on Iza's present. I hope to have pics of before and after assembly tonight, or tomorrow at the latest, so I'm over a week ahead of the deadline on this one.

But back to my knitting disaster. I've gone and knit the first 23 rounds of the foot pattern, and I know there's something wrong. Honestly I've known for quite a while. My sock just doesn't look like any of the other pictures that I've seen. I tried to pretend for the first 15 rounds that it was an optical illusion, or that the look would change after just a few more rounds. Isn't great how we can lie to ourselves and ourselves will totally go along with it, even though we have to know that it's a lie? Well, I finally stopped lying to myself, and decided that I was definitely doing something wrong again. After frowning into the computer monitor for a while I decided to pull out my pattern and read the stitch definitions for LTC and RTC. Yeah, I've been doing them completely backwards of the way they were written. I've put the left stitch on the right side and the right stitch on the left side.

That may all be greek to you, but in essence: I buggered it up because I fail at read. *sigh* again. Well, now that I know what I've done wrong it's time to try again. I've taken a picture of the failure in the hopes that soon I can compare it to success. (Disclaimer: It is a crappy iPhone pic that is neither in focus nor true to color. However, I plan to rip back before I can get to a real camera and take a better shot, so it is going to have to do.) In case you want to see what other people have gotten from the pattern check out Miri's sock and bit over here.