Thursday, May 29, 2008

More from the Garden, Knitting Plans

More from the Garden

My garden is mostly purples and pinks with the sundry white flower at this time of year. Was doing the daily garden stroll, and was struck by the color of the Johnson Blue Geranium and the False Indigo at dusk. The flowers almost seem to glow. I wish I could somehow capture it on film. At any rate, the picture shows how the flowers seem to be of different hues and saturation at dusk.


I'm wishing I could find a yarn with all of these colors in it (even the green). Would be so pretty!


My pretty mystery bush with the tiny, cupped, pink flowers is in full flush. I'm going to have to use my Native Trees of Ohio tree key and figure out what it is! I'm sure it's something common and not at all exciting, but it still is pretty when it blooms!


The weigelia is just covered with blooms. I wish that it flowered for a little longer.

And finally . . .


. . . another clematis! I love the double blooms of this variety (another one of those root cuttings with no name). It grows up my non-functional gas coach lamp, which now serves at a lovely birdhouse for a family of sparrows.

Knitting Plans

I'm a relatively new knitter (only a few years in) and I've mostly done projects that incorporate lacework or stripes, but no colorwork or intarsia. I've always loved the beautiful black and white Scandinavian designs and Fair Isle work, so I'm looking for a project that isn't too complicated so that I can learn a thing or two and expand my knitting repertoire.

Aren't these mittens pretty? I want to know how to do that! (picture found on Photobucket).

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Interweave Knits

The New Interweave Knits

The new edition of Interweave Knits finally arrived at my local Krogers this week! Woo-hoo! As usual, it is full of great patterns and articles. I especially enjoyed the article about Brooklyn General, a nifty craft store in Brooklyn, NY (I harbor a dream of one day owning my own yarn shop, and this store is exactly what I have had in mind). I've also had to add three more projects (at least) to my to-do list, the Maltese Hat, which I plan to make for my baby Will (so that he'll look like a little gnome!), the Spectrum Scarf (so simple and yet so beautiful), and Gossamer Stars Scarf. I also would like to make a sweater, but haven't decided on one yet.

Such a great reason to shop for yarn. For the hat, I'm thinking Rowan "Felted Tweed" in Herb, Crystal Palace "Kid Merino Solid" in Vine Green, Sage, Fog Green, and Sand (though not necessarily in that order) for the Spectrum Scarf, and, while I haven't decided on the Gossamer Stars Scarf, I'm dreaming of knitting it with Windy Valley Muskox Qiviut (I'm actually dreaming of knitting anything with Qivuit!). In practical terms, I have enough yarn in my stash to knit all of the above, but doesn't a stash alway need adding to?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Yarn that Makes Me Go "Oooohh", News from the Homefront

Yarn that Makes Me Go "Oooohh"

Was spending the evening reading Knitty's yarn reviews, when I saw a yarn that made me (out loud, even) say "OooooHH". If Artyarn's Beaded Rhapsody is as scrumptious to knit with as it is to look at (and the reviewers at Knitty gave it 4/5 stars, so it might just be) I have to get my hands on some! I've been wanting to incorporate beads into my knitting for some time, just haven't really gotten around to doing it, and this yarn gives one the perfect opportunity to do so. How does one get more luxurious than a fiber content of 100% Silk; 70% Kid Mohair/30% Silk with Glass Beads? Yummy!

Here's the rub, though. Luxury is expensive, is it not? At $34.00 for a 100gm/175 yard ball, I won't be knitting any sweaters with this yarn. And I'll even have to think twice about using one ball to knit up a scarf (at least until gas gets less expensive). Anyhow, one can dream, and tonight, I'll be dreaming about billowy clouds of kid mohair and silk.

News from the Homefront

Have you ever had one of those days where you go to bed marveling over the fact that you didn't pull all of your hair out? Perhaps one of those years? Thank God for the healing powers of knitting needles, because without them, I'd be spending all of my millions (or, more realistically, the two pennies I found under the couch the other day) on tranquilizers!

My husband was hit by a car riding a moped 6 weeks ago. Miraculously, he only sustained a broken leg, but what a break it is. His lower leg was shattered and had to be totally reconstructed, he had to get skin grafts, and he was initially in such agony that it was almost unbearable for me to see. I've seen a lot of grusome stuff in my pediatrics days, but when it is your own husband, well, let's just say that I'm glad a wall was there when I saw his leg because the room started spinning.

Tim and me all scrubbed up!

Tim came home yesterday. I missed him terribly. I love my husband. But after the hundreth joke about needing a bell so that he could ring for his servant (ie., me), I wanted to smother him with his pillow.

The baby was incredibly cranky yesterday. He had a wet, nasty cough and wanted me to hold him at all times (except when his daddy had him - yes, he missed his daddy). Running around for all things Tim and having a hysterical baby desperately clutching my pant leg were the two main ingredients in The Great Memorial Day Weekend Meltdown, which happened around 3:30 am, after I was finally able to get 30 minutes to myself in the bath tub.

The Rugrat

Well, the baby woke up with a rip roaring case of pink-eye, so I guess that explains the cranky. He got extra doses of mommy love (and eyedrops) today. And Tim is comfortably settled in and has remembered that we have a teenager and a ten year old that can cater to his every need, so today was actually a pretty nice day. Lounging on the bed with my long-lost hubby and by beautiful baby watching TV is alright.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Book of Yarn, Spring is Busting out All Over

The Book of Yarn

I recently had to return Clara Parkes' The Knitter's Book of Yarn to the library, and I gotta tell you, I didn't want to! Initially, I wondered how a 256 page book about yarn could be getting the great reviews that it is getting - I love yarn, but 256 pages of it? Well, the information on yarn is fascinating, and the book has a large section with really fantastic patterns using the various varieties of yarn featured in the book. I made the Ruffle Scarf. I didn't make it as wide as recommended in the book, but it still came out looking great. The patterns alone are worth the price of the book. I'm going to save my pennies for this one!

Still plugging away at the wrap, which I have decided to modify into a poncho. Made up for the lost stitches and then some. The cables in the pattern don't make for a pretty reverse side, so a poncho it is. Should make a pretty one.

Spring is Busting Out All Over!

Spring is such an exciting time for us gardeners, isn't it? Every day, I take my daily constitutional around the garden to see what is blooming now that spring is here.

Today, a new variety of clematis started to bloom in my rose bed. The Nelly Moser clematis is my favorite variety - great color, nice varigation, long flowering for a clematis, and pretty seedheads once the blooking is over. It is going up a pergola with a New Dawn climbing rose.


Nelly Moser bloom with Sea Lavender flowers

The pinks are starting to bloom! My carnations took a beating this winter and unfortunately didn't come back as bushy and large as they have been in previous years. Most of my lavender died, too; I'm thinking of replacing the plants with starts of catmint from my other garden beds.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Collin Turns 10, Roast Beef

Collin Turns 10

Collin turned 10 today. The big 1-0. We had a little party here with roast beef, new potatoes, carrots, brownies, and Graeter's ice cream, the best ice cream in the world (Oprah Winfrey called their Peach ice cream one of her "Good Things" a couple of years ago and sales went through the roof). The big shindig is this Saturday at the in-laws, where hopefully 8 kids and the family will come.

Collin trying to look fly on Thanksgiving

In a few months, I'll have a 15 year old. Kendall will be going to high school next year. Where do the years go, I ask. I was talking to a friend of mine the other day and we were talking about how we don't really feel any older than we did in high school - o.k., maybe we're a little achier or tired, but overall, when I look in the mirror and look at my kids I wonder when I got older and where the time went. I remember my Grandpa Howard telling me that he looked in the mirror one day (he was around 80 at the time) and he yelled out, "Who the hell is that old man?" So apparently the years keep speeding by no matter how hard we try to stop them.

Roast Beef

1 roast, whatever size you want
1 package onion soup mix
3 - 4 heaping tsp chopped garlic
1 package carrots
around 4 large potatoes, or a package of new potatoes
1 large onion

Speaking of Grandparents, my grandma was the person who truly taught me to cook. Her recipe for roast beef is easy, foolproof, and can be used for pork, too. And when you have eaten the roast, you can reserve the broth that was made, add in some more that you bought at the store to boil some thick egg noodles, and add the leftover beef, and you have beef and noodles!

In a large slow cooker, put around 1 cup of water, add the beef. Coat the beef with onion soup mix and the garlic. Add the carrots and the potatoes, cut up if they are large potatoes, whole if they are new potatoes. Cook on high for around 5 - 8 hours (just check on it periodically if you can to make sure that there is enough juice in the crock pot, add more water if there isn't). Enjoy!

See, super easy, always moist beef (or pork) that just falls apart. You don't even have to sear the meat (I spent years doing this, and one day just didn't, and the roast was just as juicy). And I have placed completely frozen roasts in the cooker and they have been delicious, too.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Unraveling, May Flowers


Was plugging away at my wrap yesterday, got through another repeat of the center panel when I noticed (horror of horrors!) a gaping hole to the left of one of the cables in my center panel. I found the culprit, a dropped stitch rows down - ACK! Had to unravel back to the stitch as it was part of the cable with many complicated crossovers. I'm not a particularly fast knitter (I've tried some of the Domiknitrix's speed knitting techniques to no avail) so this setback will cost me some premium wrap wearing time.

Spent some time yesterday reading WeaverKnits blog, which is really good, a fun read.

May Flowers

Things are starting to bloom here in Central Ohio! Finally some color is popping out!

My Clematis x jackmanii is in full bloom (unusually early for this particular vine, but who's complaining). I planted it 2 years ago from a root cutting, and it already is showing what a vigorous grower it can be.


Saint Francis is looking right at home amongst the Wigelia and hostas.


The Johnson's Blue Geranium should be in full flower in a week or two. Here are some of the early blooms. Such a pretty plant in the rose bed and still my favorite perennial geranium. I'm planning on transplanting starts all over the garden to add to the abundance of geraniums already present.


Here are two of my favorite hostas. They came from a bag of mixed root cuttings, so they are mystery varieties, but they are so so pretty. I love the varigation of this one - the way the greens run into eachother so haphazardly.


This one is a favorite because of the subtle white stripe that runs between the lighter green on the inside of the leave and the darker green on the outside.


The roses are filling out, the lilies are growing taller, the lavender and catmint are setting their buds. How I love the spring!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Mohair Wrap, Chicken and Biscuits

I'm so excited! I've just started to work on a pattern that will use the fine mohair/acrylic/rayon blend yarn that has sat in my stash for far too long. The pattern is from Claire Crompton's The Knitter's Bible: Knitted Accessories and calls for a superfine silk/mohair blend to be stitched with three strands of the yarn. I'm using two strands with a number 13 needle. I may turn the wrap into a poncho, but I'll figure that out when I get to that point.


I've tried to knit with this yarn a few times. It seemed like the easier the proect, the worse my knitting went. I tried a simple lace scarf and ended up dropping stitches, somehow knotting up the yarn, etc, etc. So I unraveled, recycled, and started again, until I decided to make the wrap


Chicken and Biscuits

Made chicken and biscuits for dinner last night. The recipe was adapted from the recipe for chicken and dumplings from the Fanny Farmer Cookbook, by far my favorite since I picked up the discarded copy from the library. It's a lot easier than you would expect, and cooks up in under an hour.

3 - 5 lbs chicken (I use boned chicken breasts)
1 bag pre-peeled carrots
1 package onion soup mix
4 ribs of celery, cut
2 TBSP of prechopped garlic
2 tsp rosemary
2 tsp thyme
2 large bay leaves

for biscuits:

2 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBSP sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 425. Saute carrots, celery, and garlic in stockpot until carrots start to soften. Add the chicken, onion soup mix, rosemary, thyme, and bay leaves to the pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, the reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. While chicken is cooking, prepare the biscuits by adding all ingredients together and stirring well. Remove chicken from heat and break into small pieces. Drop the biscuit mixture onto the top of the chicken and place in oven for 20 minutes, or until biscuits are golden brown. Let sit for 10 minutes, broth will thicken with cooling.

This feeds my family of 5 with a little leftovers.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Knit-Along, Free Pattern Sites

Lion Brand Yarns Knit-Along

For the next two weeks, Lion Brand Yarns will be offering their Tree of Life Afghan pattern for free as part of its first Knit-Along. You can get the pattern, read comments, and get info on how to listen to the accompanying podcast by clicking HERE. This is an Expert level pattern, so it may not be appropriate for beginning knitters, but requests have been made for easier patterns in future Knit-Alongs, so check the site for updates!

Tree of Life Knit-along badge

Sites for Free Patterns

Speaking of free patterns, there are plenty of nice sites online to find them. My favorite is the Berroco Pattern Library which features over 100 fashionable patterns in all skill levels for all manner of knitwear and home accessories. Other favorite sites include, which not only has a impressive archive of beautiful patterns but is essentially a top-notch online knitting magazine with inspiring design and a treasure trove of articles. Knitting Pattern Central has hundreds of patterns covering all categories, including an impressive section of cute knitted toys. On the Crystal Palace Yarns free pattern site I found my go-to patterns for booties - seriously cute cabled baby socks. I've already mentioned Lion Brand Yarns. Their site has trendy and classic patterns suitable for any level knitter. Megacraft store joann's site has too many patterns to even try to describe; essentially they've amassed patterns from a wide variety of yarn manufacturers and put them together on their searchable database. Interweave Knits, a superb knitting magazine, publishes a few of the featured patterns; by going to the site you can also sign up for "Knitting Daily," endlessly helpful daily emails on a variety of knitting topics.

When searching for free patterns on the net, try yarn manufacturers, knitting bloggers (who usually publish one or two original patterns), and knitting magazine sites. There's so much out there, you may never have to buy a pattern again!
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