Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bestiest friends ever

I met up briefly with a few of my knitting buddies at a yarn shop today, and look at the freebies I got! There's a couple of DVDs that fell off a truck that passed by on the information superhighway, a swatch (that one of my friends abused for me to see if it pilled or got nasty -- which it hasn't, KnitPicks' acrylic is totally fabulous) and some temporary tattoos.

And you just know which one is going on my person first, awww, yeah, baby....

Monday, July 23, 2012

I really should...

do something useful, but I'm not feeling productive today. We took one of our basement kitties to the vet -- he's been having some issues and isn't feeling the thing lately -- and later I go back to La Maison de Chat Royale for the week, but now, I really don't feel like doing anything but surfing the internet for knitting patterns and new pictures of Tom Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch (the two best English names evar.)

I suppose I could update my knitting project photos, and maybe take pictures of my stash to update my Ravelry stash pages, but that would require me to get up and do something suspiciously like work. My lungs hurt, my eyes hurt and in general I am just not in the working vein today, so I'm not sure how that will work out.

Meh. That's the word of today: Meh. Meeeeeeeeh. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sweaters, sweaters everywhere

And not a one to wear. No, seriously, I have filthy few sweaters to my name, and flattering ones are even more rare.

Yeah, yeah, it's about ten degrees above the boiling point of water outside, but I like to think ahead to a time when the sun won't be so angry at us and the wind will bring the chill of autumn. I love autumn, more than any other season. It smells like heaven, and temperatures are actually comfortable occasionally.

So I took stock of my closet and realized I'm terribly short of sweaters. At first I considered saving up the blunt and just shopping myself warm and then I thought, Wait a minute, you're a knitter! Why bother shopping for the finished item when you've got a stash like the stock of a small yarn shop and the skills needed to turn it into whatever you want?

So I've finally decided it's time to knit my first sweater for myself. A little but uncertain about it, because that is a lot of knitting time on a garment that (with my history of crap gauge) may or may not actually fit, but I think it's time for me to knitter-up and give it a go. I mean, what have I got to lose? Just time, and that will slip away whether or not I knit a sweater in the interim. Might as well do something that will be useful -- if only from an intellectual point of view, depending on the fit of the finished sweater -- while I'm watching it fly by.

I've chosen Tubey for my first attempt. I browsed through the projects on Ravelry and looked at the Tubeys (Tubies?) knit by other Ravellers, and it seems almost universally flattering -- provided you knit a large enough size. I have measured my assets (hemhem) twice. I know exactly which size I need to make. I know how much yarn I need. I just have to...go for it.

I'm using this yarn:

For whatever reason, the purple at the left looks sorta blue, but it's not. It's more of a true royal purple than this picture shows, although the pink and yellow came out alright. I do not understand why digital cameras have a problem with purples, but they do. Frustrating for a fiber artist trying to convey her vision!

I was going to use these yarns for a sweater I, personally, designed, but time and money being what they are, if I want a sweater before winter this year I'll have to make do and use what I've got.

It'll also help clear out some of my auxiliary stash. That's always a good thing.

And if you aren't from around my parts, you should know we're in the middle of a drought. A pretty bad one, actually, and the constant sunniness is starting to depress me. But guess what we got yesterday?

Yeah! Rain!

It didn't last long, and in the return of the super-nasty heat, whatever water was left on the surface of the ground instantly turned into a hot mist. But for a few minutes, it was rain.

For the duration of the storms, life was worth living again. Hope returned and I no longer felt ground down by the eternal sunshine. Then the literal clouds parted and the emotional ones descended again. Sigh. The sun was shining yet again today. It's like a Dremel to the head, the sunshine. It just never stops!

We may get more rain this weekend, though. God, I hope so.

Maybe this is why I've been bit by the sweater bug. Thinking about autumn makes me happy, and autumn is about sweaters.

Before you ask, yes, I'm still working on the problem of Loki 2, the Avengers Scarf. I still cannot figure out how I want to knit it. There's so many options, and I'm trying to weigh them all out. I think I know how I want to work it, but I've got to give it a few more weeks to percolate.

Designing my own? Easy-peasy. Following a pattern? Eh, not so easy, but do-able. Using a woven item to design my own pattern? Yeah, take a number. It might take a while. :-p

Besides, I've got a ton of items in my "in process" bag. I think I need to clear a couple out before I can really concentrate on Loki Deuce. Maybe tonight I'll get another glass of chocolate milk (my beverage of choice for relaxation) and try to get a few more inches of my Double Cross scarf knocked out:

This picture is actually several weeks old, I've got about six inches completed now. It's coming along pretty well -- the stitch is a faster knit than I'd have thought, the yarn is like buttah in my hands.

I won't cast on for my sweater until the end of the month. Just so I can get rid of some of my pending items first. Not that it will help anything, and I probably won't be able to resist casting on before then, but it might help. Just a little.

Monday, July 16, 2012

You. Must. Try. This. NOW.

OMG, people, you will not believe the heaven on a baking tray I discovered this morning!

Chocolate-filled crescent rolls.

Hear me out, now. Just because you eat crescent rolls with a savory doesn't mean they always have to be savory themselves. Dough is dough, and it can be forced into whatever you want it to be with a little tinkering here and there.

Here's the way it goes:

Open your tin of crescent rolls and flatten them out. I use the crescent rolls from Immaculate Baking Co.. It's handy that some companies aren't all up in their baked goods with the soy oils and flours. Blech. But if you prefer a different brand (I wouldn't, on general principles -- soy oil is pretty bitter, and will make it harder to sweeten up the rolls; try and find an all-butter or canola/palm oil version if you can) go for it.

Schmear up your crescent rolls with about a half-teaspoon (the kitchen drawer kind of teaspoon, not an actual measuring spoon teaspoon) of Nutella, or your preferred chocolate/hazelnut spread. Jiff's got a version, and there are some other knock-offs out there, but I prefer the original.

Gods, that stuff is like crack. Oooey, gooey, chocolatey crack.

Roll them up and put them on the baking sheet. Melt a little butter, brush it on top of the rolls. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top (granulated sugar, please; powdered would be nasty) and bake to package directions.

They'll come out all speckled with cinnamon and bursting at the seams with goodness:

Eat like a savage.*

You'll notice that I made the top one out of two crescent rolls instead of just the one. I was experimenting. In future, I think I'll stick to using individual rolls (like the bottom one) because they puff up and come out just about as large as the duplex, meaning you end up with more big, giant hazelnut-chocolate-cinnamon rolls. Win-win.

Now, I'm going to go take my morning medicine:

What? It's for my cardiovascular!

And then I'm going to the local tea shop. I need a cup strainer, and I think they might be able to help in that regard.

Peace, wine and chocolates, y'all.

*Yes, I watch Bitchin' Kitchen. It's a fun show. And she sounds like my grandmother, just a little bit, although how a French-Canadian with Italian parents can manage to sound like a German grandmother from New York is beyond me. But she does. I keep waiting for her to tell me I'm too skinny and need another slice of pork roast.

Friday, July 13, 2012

*heavy sigh*

It's been a long summer, and it's only just started!

 A dry gulch, leading to creepy woods. Total metaphor for my life right now.

I've been doing some work on long range goal setting. Kinda sucks because, you see, I hate the idea of long range goals. The word "goal" -- it's almost the archaic spelling for "jail", you know. Flip the vowels around to "gaol" and Bob's your uncle. I can't seem to separate the two in my mind, probably because of the mental gymnastics that allow you to read those stupid emails where they mix up the letters in a word to prove you aren't really reading words using letters, but more the shape of the thing.

Anyway, I dislike setting goals. There's a part of me thinks I'm just a terrible, terrible slacker, but then there's another part of me that knows I can be a very focused person. If I set a long range goal that I'm determined to meet -- for good or ill -- I get like a horse in blinders. If you don't look up while you're traveling, you miss some interesting possibilities.

If you really want to be honest, I think the major problem I have with long range goal planning is that, prior to the past three or four years, all the goals I've ever set were other people's goals for me. I never chose them. They were homework being set for me by someone else who thought I should or needed to want those things. Because I'm a pretty laid back person and didn't want to upset the people who chose them for me, I'd agree to them, set those goals and then never work toward them because I didn't really want to accomplish them in the first place. Then I'd feel worse about myself for lack of focus, not to mention the whacking great lies I was telling in the first place.... Lots of negative juju around goals for me.

I've found through experimentation that I don't mind short range goal setting, though. For instance, I don't mind planning one year out. That's fine, because those goals are less time consuming and I don't have to be so intensely focused. And even if they go badly, hell, it's only a single year. Not five. Or (Lord love a platypus) ten. And it gives me the chance to re-review my choices annually to be sure they're actually things I want to accomplish and not just static I'm getting from outside sources before I spend that decade on them.

So now I have a set of things I want to accomplish in the next year or so and am not calling them goals. They're just 'things I want to do'. Which, yes, are goals, but let me get all semantic up in here, ok? I just have to set a priority list (because some of them are easier and can be accomplished in the shorter term, while some of them are more in the style of ongoing actions I have to work to make habits, like flossing) so that I know when to start working on them. I figure when I've got my priority list sorted out, I'll be done with my useless introspection -- at least about goals -- for the year. I'll have to make another list next summer, but that's something that can be put off for 365, which is the best kind of slacking off there is.

So's you know, I didn't put knitting on my list of stuff I want to accomplish in the next year. I figure I'll do most of that (since it's fun) without the reminder on my weekly to do list. It's the scary stuff that really juices my oranges I'll have to nag myself about.

Courage; it's on the list of traits to develop. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

I just have to hold out for the rest of the week.

Here's a pretty picture to lower my blood pressure.
I'm cat sitting right now. This cat sitting gig requires I stay up there overnight. Which would, ordinarily, be fine, except...the house is so quiet. It's in a little pocket 'burb (in a larger area of suburbs) that is cut off from everything by a thick ring of trees and shrubs. This insulation prevents the sound of cars from getting in. And I never see her neighbors.

Well, that's a lie, I will see one or two scattered about the countryside, usually at 6:45 in the morning when I'm on her back patio in my pjs and frizzy, crazy hair feeding her outdoor cat. You can't really chat with people when you look that homeless and are holding a cup of dry cat food in one hand and a dish of the prepared soft food she gives her cats in the other. It's a bit of a p.r. nightmare, even for me.

Plus, interestingly enough for a woman with televisions in every room of her house, she has the most basic cable available. Meaning, she gets the broadcast stations, all the news, religious and public access stations you could possibly want, WGN Chicago, ABC Family and Ion.

This would ordinarily not be a huge problem, except the silence is so oppressive, and I'm watching 13 cats who are jumpy, frisky and very, very needy, and I feel like the last person alive on Earth. I need some t.v. with science or history content, or at least commercials to watch so I don't feel all alone, but the shows on tap are...sub-par. I've tried watching DVDs, but that makes me feel even more lonely (since there are no commercials, or they're movies, I know they're not being broadcast.)

I never thought I'd get to the point where commercials help me maintain my sanity.

I do like the kitties, and her house is really nice (if a bit furry), so it's got some upsides. I can't cook when I'm up there, which is cramping my style, the silence is driving me mad and there's one of her cats that screams like a woman when it's fighting, which can give you a bit of a start at 3 a.m. in a strange house, but I'll cope.

I only have to hold out until Saturday. Then I get to come home to my stuff, my cat and my cable with sixty trillion channels. Gods bless AT&T!