Monthly Archives: November 2007

Pollyanna with the Latest Fiber Report

Lyda here. Gorgeous and Available Engineer brother arrives tomorrow afternoon. Also tomorrow: another test at the hospital, and other fun surgery-prep stuff. T minus 2 days and counting. ‘Nuff said. I stayed home sick yesterday. Don’t you hate calling in sick when you actually are sick? Such a waste of paid sick days… wait, I don’t have paid sick days. Damn! But I digress…

Quick! Distract them with fiber!

First, the knitting news:

Wednesday night, I pulled out my one remaining knitting UFO, the much-maligned (by me) Twisted Sister Scarf. During the marathon TV watching that was my Wednesday night, I knit away at this scarf, determined to finish it and never let the Evil Twisty Ribbon Yarn darken my needles again.

About 9:30, I noticed that the yarn was almost gone. I bound the sucker off, and called it done for the night.

WOO-HOO! “No more Twisted Sister!”

All that is left on this scarf is adding the fringe (already cut and waiting), and cutting off the ends (which I already wove in). There doesn’t seem to be any point in blocking this scarf, and I’m not sure if I like how it came out, but I am sure it will be appreciated by its namesake, the Resident Sith Master’s younger sister. And if she doesn’t like it, I don’t care. It’s done. It’s history. It’s GEOGRAPHY!

Similarly, the Global Warming Scarf only needs fringe cut and added to be complete. And as previously reported, the “Chuck Norris Bites Frost” scarf is completely done. Knitting score: One real FO and two almost-FOs. What, there are too “almost-FOs”!

Next! Two needles, no waiting.

Next, Pollyanna our intrepid fiber reporter with an update on the Quilts of Unbelievable Enormity update:

As you know, the Cosmic Prince Quilt is pinned together and awaiting quilting for three years  tying off so the boys can have their quilts before they get their PhDs and besides, dammit, I’m sick.

This week, I made my shaky way to Joann’s for extra fabric for the back of the Frog Prince Quilt.

So, I’m cruising the fabric, and I have a little basket with squares of the quilt fabric spread out on the bottom so I can match a color or two at least. There’s no hope of finding matching fabric. Forget dye lots, I bought this fabric at least two years ago. At a discount fabric store. Abandon all hope of matching, ye who shop here. 

And I notice something new. Something weird.

There are labels on some of the shelves, stating that “Calico fabric contains formaldahyde, a substance known to the State of California to cause… blah blah blah.” Hmm. Maybe something from this other shelf over here…

I look around, check the bargain racks (of course), and finally find a fabric that I think will work. It is wild and weird, but somehow it seems to suit the quilt. It sort of… fits. In a completely non-matching, completely unexpected kind of way. Oh please let this work out!

So I purchase all of the fabric on the bolt. This is not as extravagent as it sounds, as it was on sale and it was the end of the bolt. I only got half a yard or so more than I needed. Hey, a girl’s gotta feed her stash! Oh wow, that sounds dirty and bizarre… Go ahead, let your imagination run wild. My little gift to you today. And now, for your ongoing pleasure: the end of this digression.

The plan is to spend tonight cutting and sewing and shudder ironing, and finish the back of the Frog Prince Quilt. Tomorrow morning, before the fun visit to the hospital, I will pin the whole quilt together. That way, I can tie both quilts, and then bind the edges, in the next week or so. A project for my recovery.

Yeah. That’s the plan.

Hey, I can hear ya’ll laughing all the way over here.

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Pollyanna and the Variable Mass of Cats

Lyda here.

Last night, I thought I’d work on the Cosmic Prince Quilt a bit. After dislodging the Dread Cat Tommy from the folds, I spread the quilt out on my bed. Ah, it’s beginning to look a lot like a quilt! (Sorry I don’t have pics for you.)

Since the planets on the planet fabric are roundish, and since there is also a red and white print with circles, I had the bright idea to quilt small circles randomly across the quilt. So I found a template  – a CD makes a good circle template – and using dressmaker’s chalk, I traced some exploratory circles on the quilt top.

When quilting, one is supposed to begin in the middle of the quilt, and work toward the edges. So I heaved this behemoth of a quilt about and around, and eventually ended up with the machine needle right over the chalk line of one of the circles near the center.

I had forgotten about the Sith apprentice cat lurking in the background. All according to his plan, no doubt.

Because of the thickness of the batting, and the hugeness of the quilt, I had some difficulty turning the quilt as I slowly stitched along the chalk line. And as I worked, the quilt became more and more difficult to move.

There was a cat hiding in the pile of quilt on the floor, doing his cement block impersonation. Have you noticed that cats can vary their weight and mass as needed? For example, when they step on your stomach, they weigh ten times what they weigh when you pick them up. And they can walk along shelves that are obviously too small to fit them, carefully weaving their way between items that are too close together for weaving between – until they come to the one fragile irreplaceable heirloom, when they suddenly resume normal mass and send it smashing to the floor. How do they do that?

But I digress.

I took the quilt out of the machine so I could examine the stitches. Uh. No. Not working. Very uneven. Okay, I could hand-quilt the middle of the quilt. How about I try one closer to the edge, just to see how it looks?

Hrm.

I spent the next half-hour taking out all the stitches I had just put in.

Hey, a quilt finished by tying off is a GOOD thing!

Pollyanna and the Random Weirdness of Humans, Gift-Giving Edition

Lyda here. It’s Tuesday, and of course that means it’s time for the weekly Random Weirdness of Humans.

This week, we’ve got reports of Black Friday’s sales and countdowns to Santa’s visit ringing in our ears. So today we go bravely into the Random Weirdness of Gift-Giving, with many digressions along the way, of course.

“It was the best of gifts, it was the worst of gifts…”

1) First, in case you are considering going traditional, you should know that the cost of the 12 Days of Christmas has gone up. For one thing, the milkmaids got their first raise in ten years. I bet they have to buy their own bonnets too. If you are planning on following the song exactly (giving two turtle doves and another partridge in a pear tree on the second day, for example, and continuing on in that vein), it will all cost you over $78,000. And that doesn’t include care and feeding of the livestock.

Personally, I’d rather have the cash.

I’m just putting that out there.

Just in case, ya’ll.

2) Here’s a list of the 15 worst holiday gifts. We will ignore the comments about handmade gifts; the writer is obviously not a knitter / quilter / crafter. Although we all know she’s right about handmade gifts costing more in time and money. But we’re all knitting gifts anyway, aren’t we?

3) That reminds me of the year that My Brother The Doctor (a college student at the time) made all of his gifts with a glass-cutting kit. This was in the 70s; it was a happenin’ craft then. He spent hours and hours turning bottles and jars into lamps and vases and such. No, I don’t think any have survived.

Ya’ll need to remember that ours was a family of eight. Plus my brother had many friends. That’s a lot of bottles, and a lot of glass cutting. For more than a month, you could hear the tink tink tink of the glasscutting coming from his room. Christmas Eve? Tink, tink, tink late into the night.

We still tease him by going tink tink tink.

And he still flinches.

4) … Two three four… And then there was the time…

Alas, we come now to a cautionary tale. A scary cautionary tales, with zombies and emergency rooms and everything. Come with me, to the Dark Side of crafting.

One year when I was poorer than dirt, I made everyone in the family a new stocking, our childhood ones having disintegrated. Except my sister made me one so I wouldn’t have to make my own. Which I still have, ’cause she made it for me and it’s got a unicorn on it and it’s beautiful and special. Yeah, I said a unicorn. Shut up. By this time, I think I had a sister-in-law or two, so I had eight or nine stockings to make.

So I specially designed each person’s stocking. Completely covered in crewel embrodery. Why? Why did I think this was a clever idea? Why didn’t I just embroder their names on fabric stockings I sewed together in ten minutes? Why??

The answer is lost in the mist of time. Or maybe is related to that “overachievement” thing Anna-Liza is always on about. I do know it took forever. I was working on them feverishly all November, with sore fingers and bleary eyes and never enough progress.

There I sat, on Thanksgiving Day in my mom’s living room, blearily working away. An embrodering zombie.

And I poked myself in the eye with the needle.

Oh yes I did.

There was no bleeding, but there was crying, bitching, and moaning. It hurt like a… it hurt a lot. My mom finally took me to the emergency room. On Thanksgiving Day. Late in the afternoon.

Where a tired and very overworked doctor peered into my eye with a really big magnifying glass and a very bright light, and determined that I had poked my eyelid but not my eye. How embarassing. I did not have medical insurance, and this diagnosis cost over a hundred dollars, a lot of money to me at the time. Hell, it’s still a lot of money.

Moral of the story: Keep pointy objects far away from eyes. Or wear safety glasses.

And yes, I still finished all the stockings before Christmas.

Corollary Moral: Crafters are crazy.

Corollary to the Corollary: Zombie crafters are completely insane.

5) The worst part of this story? Only one of the stockings survived more than one season. Everyone took theirs home and promptly “lost” them. I have my mom’s because I found it when we were going through her things after she died. My mommy loved me. And she was a Pack Rat of Epic, even Biblical, Proportions. Clearing out her things was like trying to part the Red Sea. Without Moses.

They were, of course, the most hideous stockings ever created. But they were stitched with love.

6) Other tales of family gift-giving. Let’s see…

My mom was an amazing seamstress, and she also made rugs for a while. When I was a teenager, she made me a rug with a unicorn on it – ah, a leitmotif emerges – I would just like to say for the record that I am no longer besotted with unicorns, I was young and hadn’t discovered zombies yet, thank you very much, digression over – which I had for many years. Alas, a cat with a weak bladder was this rug’s demise.

My mom hooked the rugs.

Mostly because she liked to be able to call herself a hooker.

Ba-dum-dum.

7) My mom had a great flair for getting people just the right thing – a talent I sadly did not inherit. She loved buying presents, and bought things throughout the year for Christmas. Then she would hide them in her closet so we couldn’t get our grubby mitts on them.

For years on Christmas morning, once the unwrapping was coming to a close, my mom would sit with a puzzled expression, and then leave the room.

And come back with a present she’d forgotten about.

Sometimes she wouldn’t remember or find a present until a week later. A Pack Rat of Biblical Proportions. Really. Hers was the Bermuda Triangle of Closets. There could have been WWI pilots lost in there. There was always the possibility of one more something from Mom.

And she also gave us presents during the year, just because she couldn’t wait. She would hand me something lovely, or funny, or useful, or all three, and say, “I saw this, and I thought you could use it in your business.” In my business. *snort* Hey, now, stop that. If I had had the kind of business ya’ll are thinking of, I would have had more money. She also used to hide $20 bills in the book I was reading. She remembered what it was like when $20 made all the difference. And if someone wanted to borrow $20 from Mom, she would tell them, “This is a gift. Someday when you can afford it, you can pass it on to someone who needs it.”

‘Cause that was how she rolled.

8.) My parent’s shopping habits: Compare and contrast.

My dad only shopped on Christmas Eve, and only at Sears. If Sears did not have it, he did not buy it. Also, my dad was color blind. And thought fashion was stupid. Yet for some reason, he insisted on buying the women in the family things like sweaters and purses and robes. After my parents split up, this became a problem.

A very color-blind man with no sense of fashion buying a woman’s sweater. At Sears. On Christmas Eve. Ya’ll can imagine.

The second year after my parents split, it was determined, in a clandestine meeting of the family’s females, that my dad needed to be stopped before he gifted again. It was further determined that I would accompany him on his Christmas Eve shopping trip, and prevent him from buying Presents of the Hideous Kind.

Now, ya’ll, this was no hardship. I loved being with my dad, and he was happy to have my help. I was indeed able to gently suggest more appropriate gifts for the women in the family, and to keep him from unleasing Gifts of Mass Destruction.

But – ya’ll, this is one of my stories – as anyone who has ever shopped with me, or watched TV with me, or even been around me for fifteen minutes, knows…

I am a smart ass. I like to mock things. I make fun of things. Mercilessly. Nothing has ever stopped the mocking frenzy that is me.

So, Dad and I are in Sears, where America shops, on Christmas Eve. And I am mocking the fashions in the women’s department. Yes, this was like shooting fish in a barrel, especially in the 70s.

As we are wandering the aisles, we walk past a display of women’s nightwear. And mid the tartan nightgowns and fuzzy slippers, there is a prominent display of footed pajamas.

FUZZY footed pajamas. In pink and blue. Just like a toddler would wear. Only in women’s sizes. Like this, but lower quality and with a zipper. Be afraid, be very afraid.

How could I resist mocking them? I believe I sarcastically said something about what an awesome gift the fuzzy footed pajamas would make for a sophisticated woman-about-town. Or something like that.

Oh, ya’ll are getting ahead of me. Wait for it…

Christmas Day arrives. I open a big package from my dad.

Yup. Fuzzy footed pajamas. In baby blue.

To this day, I don’t know if he was kidding or not.

The funniest part? The heater in his house was broken and it was freezing. So I actually wore the damn fuzzy footed pajamas.

Oh yes I did.

I think he was pleased. And what the hell, there weren’t any eligible menz around, and the pajamas were warm. 

And yes, I did not mock while shopping with him again.

9) Yet another weird gift-giving story. The year in question, I had very very little money for presents. Another leitmotif, ya’ll will note. Actually, I had none, but I went to Pier I Imports anyway. I bought each person in the family a little ornament. For under $1 each. And I wrapped them up and mailed them the cheapest way possible.

I got my father a little wooden elephant ornament, because he loved elephants. My dad still had the carved wooden elephant that had been his as an infant. You could see the teething marks, and the mend in one of the legs where it had broken. The elephant had the sheen and dignity of a toy well loved. Yes, I’m going all “Velveteen Rabbit” on ya’ll. Just deal, okay? We called this the Daddy Elephant when we were growing up; people gave my dad lots of elephants, but this was the biggest and most special one. This is not a digression; no, really.

So anyway, I got my dad this little wooden elephant ornament, with his trunk uplifted of course. My dad had told me that in China, you never carve an elephant with a trunk pointing down, because the good luck runs out. Although the Daddy Elephant had his trunk pointing down. Did I ever tell you my dad was born in China? Wait, now I am digressing. This little $1 elephant was carefully wrapped and sent across the ocean to Hawaii, where Dad was living at the time with my stepmom.

I felt guilty that I had given everyone such cheap and meaningless presents.

And then I got a letter from my dad.

He said he loved the little elephant best of all the things he had received. He loved the little drip of resin coming off his trunk (which I hadn’t even noticed). He said it made the little elephant look like he was getting over a cold. He kept the little elephant on his desk and it made him smile each day because it made him think of me. That little elephant sat there on my dad’s desk as long as he lived.

You never know what will bring another person joy.

10) After my dad died, my stepmom gave me something from him. She told me that my dad had talked with her about which items should go to each of us kids. And this was what he wanted me to have, and to pass on to my child.

I unwrapped the package.

Inside was Daddy Elephant.

Pollyanna and the Monday After

Lyda here.

First, because I know what ya’ll like, the Fiber Report for the long weekend.

No actual knitting to report. I did block the “Chuck Norris Bites Frost” Scarf this weekend. I only wet and pinned the ends and the seam in the middle. The T-pins worked really well. The rest of the scarf did not need it, and since this scarf is over 10 feet long, I had no room to block the whole thing. The blocking worked well, and while the seam isn’t invisible, it blends in nicely. This scarf is officially completely DONE. Yes, an FO! Shiny!

Quilting is a completely different story. There was much work done on the Cosmic Prince Quilt. I got my sewing machine and all the stuff out Wednesday afternoon and left it out all weekend. The Resident Sith Master spent Wednesday through Friday at his dad’s, so I was a quilting maniac while he was gone.

Thursday, I sewed together the quilt top. First, I sewed together the 11 rows of 15 squares. One-hundred-sixty-five squares, ya’ll. One-hundred-forty 7-inch seams. Why do I do this again?

Then I ironed the seams. I hate ironing – I only iron when sewing; I refuse to have any clothes that need ironing. The ironing is my least favorite part of quilting. But I digress… And pinned and then sewed the rows together into the whole quilt top, which is queen-sized. And then ironed it again.

And that was Thursday. Oh, and I watched the Macy’s parade, and a bunch of other TV.

Friday, I started on the back of the quilt. And now we get to the problem. Sorry, I mean “creative opportunity.”

You see, when I purchased the fabric for this quilt, and for the Frog Prince Quilt, I was planning on making twin-sized quilts. I was planning on using one piece of the main fabric (dark blue background spangled with stars, with colorful planets all over it) as the back of this quilt. I was also planning on using one piece of the frog print fabric for the back of the Frog Prince Quilt.

Ha. The best laid plans of mice and men… or zombies and quilters… whatev…

Of course, the piece of fabric I had was not enough for the back of a queen-sized quilt. Truthfully, it might not have been enough for a twin-sized quilt either. I bought this fabric two years ago, so the chances of finding more, especially in the same dye lot? Uh, can you say “zero,” kids? I knew you could. The lesson: Always buy more fabric than you think you’ll need. Especially for the backing fabric. You’d think I’d know this by now. But no…

I did have an assortment of squares left over from piecing the front. So, I played around with the squares, and came up with a design for the back involving four pieced rows and the planet fabric. I sewed the four rows, then sewed them together. With nasty ironing. I cut the planet fabric in half lengthwise, and sewed one half to each side of the four-row panel. I ironed again, and the back of the quilt was done.

I planned it so that the edges of the back are all the planet fabric (each end of the four pieced rows is a planet-fabric square). When I fold the back over the front of the quilt, to make the bound edge, the edge on the front will all be planet fabric. The four-row panel of other squares will be a surprise only seen when the quilt is flipped over. This does make the back of the quilt more interesting, but it’s a lot more work.

I will have to buy more fabric of some kind for the back of the Frog Prince Quilt, as I only have a few squares left over from the pieced front. And I won’t be able to get the same fabric, see above “bought fabric two years ago.” Sigh. I will have to be creative. And I’m forced – FORCED – to go to the fabric store. Oh, the suffering!

And yes, the digressions continue!

By late Friday afternoon, I was ready to pin the quilt layers together. Because I don’t have a table big enough, I used the floor. I carefully laid the quilt back down (right side down) and spread out the batting. Because the batting was not wide enough for this ginormous quilt, I whip stitched the two pieces of batting together by hand. This helps keep the batting from separating once the quilt is in use. In a hundred years, when it’s finished, I mean.

Then I carefully placed the quilt top over the batting (right side of the fabric up). And spent the next hour carefully pinning the three layers together with big safety pins. I’ve used straight quilting pins in the past, which can be painful for the quilter as well as innocent bystanders and Sith apprentice cats. The pins fall out and hide in the carpet to ambush the unwary. The pins scratch and poke the quilter. The pins attack cats who are testing the comfort of the quilt. Safety pins are, well, safer.

All of this quilting work was done with Tom Cat’s help, of course. Yes, the Dread Cat Tommy carefully supervised everything. He attacked the fabric squares I was arranging for the back. He stole the thread off the machine. He made sure that each phase was completed to his exacting specifications. Ya’ll know. I mention this supervision for a reason. Read on.

Once I had the whole quilt pinned together, I admired the front, and how the whole thing is really beginning to look quilt-like. And nearing completion.

Then I flipped the quilt over to admire the back.

And discovered that mysteriously, the back of the quilt was crumpled on one side. Tommy is not known as the evil Sith apprentice cat for nothing. I had to redo at least half of the pinning, smoothing out the back as I went.

Once it was pinned correctly, Tommy immediately claimed it as his own and slept for hours on it. Supervising is hard work, y’all.

I’m now deciding on the quilting pattern for the quilt. I hope to be able to do most of it by machine. Although I could still flake off and just tie the quilt off. Faster, but not as sturdy.

And in non-fiber news:

I picked up the Resident Sith Master Friday night – after properly greeting the two large dogs that live at his dad’s house – neither of whom is a Sith apprentice, by the way – oh, digressing again…

We had our big turkey dinner at one on Saturday, with a delicious and moist turkey (I wrap the turkey in cheesecloth and baste a lot, plus let the turkey sit for 30 minutes after it comes out) and massive amounts of mashed potatoes (our favorite), plus stuffing (thank you, Mrs. Cubbinson), gravy (from a jar this year, but quite good), and so forth. We had apple pie for dessert (which I bought frozen and baked). Sometimes I do more from scratch, but I was being gentle on myself this year.

We played video games together, and had a wonderful time. Sunday, we rented “Die Hard 2″ (the only one he hadn’t seen) and enjoyed watching Bruce Willis defeat the bad guys. Of course. We also rented the fourth movie in the series, “Live Free or Die Hard,” which we haven’t watched yet. Probably tonight. Sunday, some of his friends came over to play video games, and I watched TV in my room. One of the local channels was doing a 60 hour marathon of “TV classics” so that was… retro. I enjoyed the episode of “The Monkees” but missed the episode of “Star Trek” their ads promised.

All in all, a very good long weekend, and lots to be thankful for.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch:

No real change in the way I’m feeling, so I’ll spare you the whining – about that at least. Gorgeous and Available Engineer brother will be here Saturday and will stay a week. Beautiful Sister may come visit too. My wonderful wise and funny BFF Anna-Liza continues to keep my spirits up with long phone conversations and emails. She reminds me to focus on trust. I’m walking around chanting, “trust, trust, trust” to myself, which is much better than walking in fear. I’m so lucky to have such a wise BFF.

I have a lot to be grateful for. I am so very grateful for my healthy happy son and for my family, and for my friends. I’m so very thankful for my amazing BFF, Anna-Liza, I can’t even express how incredibly wonderful it is to have her in my life. I’m thankful for all of ya’ll who read my ramblings here and whom I so enjoy stalking  knowing through your own funny and thoughtful blogs. And I’m grateful to be able to look forward to a time when this medical problem will be solved and I can move on. And move around comfortably. Plus, no more periods. Ya’ll know you are jealous.

T minus 8 days and counting.

Pollyanna Tinks! She Frogs! She Doesn’t Knit (Much)!

Hey, Anna-Liza here.

You remember I was all excited about finally finishing the Cabled Socks? Now, not so much. I made a really stupid mistake in the decreasing, which I didn’t discover until oh, eight or so rounds into the toe.

Because of the way the cables and moss-stitch columns are laid out, the stockinette sole is somewhat narrower than the patterned instep. However, to get the decreases to mirror each other properly and to be able to have an even number of stitches at the end, when I Kitchener, I have to redistribute the stitches when I’m ready to decrease so that the top of the foot and the bottom have the same number.

Yep, that’s what I didn’t do.

(If you’re a master knitter who has a foolproof technique for perfectly Kitchenering eight stitches on the front needle and sixteen on the back … just shut up).

I didn’t want to just rip, because it’s a pain to reconstruct frogged cables. I didn’t want to tink, for obvious reasons. I’m working on size 1 DPNs, with a relatively “sticky” yarn, so I’m taking one needle out at a time, frogging down to the next needle, then reinserting the original needle to keep from dropping stitches. Faster than tinking, not as precarious as an unmitigated frog. (Hm. I think I came up with another name for a rock band, there. Pollyanna and the Unmitigated Frogs? Or just plain Unmitigated Frog? I think the latter. More genre-crossing. Punk-folk perhaps). Anyway, it’s a variation on the frogging technique where you insert a needle in the row where you want to stop frogging, sort of an afterthought lifeline.

I’m sure I’ll pick up the sock again tomorrow, but right now I’m pissed off with it and I’m starting a new hat for Darlin’ K instead. This will be a basic 2 x 2 rib, I think, or perhaps a deep 2×2 rib cuff, deep enough to turn up, with a stockinette body. We’ll see. I’m using a semi-mystery yarn from my stash. I know it’s wool and recycled silk, a fairly rough spin, worsted weight with a little thick ‘n’ thin action, but I can’t remember what it’s called. (Ball band? We don’ need no stinkin’ ball bands. Quick, what’s the reference?) It’s what’s left of a skein I used to make a large swatch for Knit One, Purl Too when they were still a brick-and-mortar store. Deep blue, with multi-colored strands of the silk shot through it. Poppy? Might be the brand name. A newish brand, not real big yet. Local to Colorado. I’ll post more when I can track it down.

I frogged the Sunny Garter Rib socks, because I was just too damned bored with the pattern. I thought it would be a good “easy/decompression” pattern between more difficult things, but the more difficult things turned out to be not so much, after all. (Except for decreasing my sock toe. Sheesh). So I’m looking for a more challenging pattern to put that yarn to use with. It’s Tofutsies, in a pretty Caribbean palette of turquoise, blue and yellow. Maybe the Monkey socks. Maybe Pomatomus. It doesn’t really stripe, it’s more speckled, so I think it would work with those two patterns.

Still working away on Darlin’ K’s Cabled Rib Cardigan and my Origami Cardigan. Those will be a while. Still haven’t touched Eris since I got to the DPN part on the first sleeve. Stupid, really–there is no seaming, so once I get the sleeves done, all that’s left is the blocking and I’ve got me a sweater. Don’t know why I can’t seem to pick it up, except maybe I’m burned out on the yarn. I like the Debbie Bliss Merino Aran okay, but it’s not my favorite yarn ever, and I have to say I’m glad I paid half price for it. (That was over two years ago at a store that was going out of business. Sorry). I mean, it’s not like I mind endless rounds of stockinette … oh, wait. I do.

I’m thinking about frogging Mr. B’s pullover (on which I’ve done about three inches) and starting over in a larger size. I have an odd feeling it won’t be done this winter. I haven’t even started Mr. R’s yet.

And I have got to muck out weed out find the rest of organize my stash. And my pattern stash. Oh, and figure out what needles I have.

This long weekend isn’t going to be long enough. I need a two week vacation with no distractions. And maybe a backhoe.

Pollyanna Cooks! And No Smoke Alarms Are Triggered

Hey, Anna-Liza here.

Finally. (Sorry, Lyda. I’ll try not to do that again. But I think I’ve said that before, haven’t I?)

Okay, so yesterday was Thanksgiving. I have a whole meditative post in my head about all that we have to be grateful for, but I haven’t actually written it yet, so that’s something you can be grateful for, anyway. But I don’t promise I won’t sneak a little in. (If you think you have nothing to be grateful for, go whine in a corner. I have no patience for you).

First, for those of you who live elsewhere (Lyda), here’s a taste of Rocky Mountain fall weather. Monday this week we had highs in the 70s (Fahrenheit, in case anyone outside the U.S. ever reads this), sunny and warm. Tuesday was in the 50s and dropping. It snowed (3 or 4 inches) Tuesday night and continued into Wednesday, with highs in the 20s. Or teens. Our office closed early (3 p.m.) which was very nice as we didn’t have to drive home on frozen roads. It had stopped snowing by then, but was very, very cold. Thanksgiving Day had highs in the 20s again, and it should break above freezing tomorrow.

Next week, who knows? It might be up in the 60s again, it might snow, it might be sunny but freezing. Ah, November in Colorado.

We had a very mellow Thanksgiving, my favorite kind. We drove nowhere, and the Knitting Sprite and her boyfriend were our only visitors. Her boyfriend went to his folks’ place first for dinner, then came and hung out with us for a while, so it was just the Knitting Sprite most of the day. We did do a little knitting, and talked about it more, but we were cooking mostly. She was working on a pretty basketweave stitch scarf, and I am literally an inch and a half away from finishing my cabled socks. See the cuff in the photo? That now looks like the other sock, minus the decreases for the toe.

Cabled sock and cuff

I did a traditional turkey dinner with trimmings–mashed potatoes, baked garnet yams, in-the-bird stuffing, casseroled stuffing (is that when it becomes dressing? Hm.), green-bean casserole (yes, with the cream of mushroom soup and the french-fried onions), lots and lots of gravy, and KSprite’s contribution was stir-fried kale with shallots. Okay, so not down-to-the minutiae traditional, but as traditional as we get.

Baked yams? Oh yeah, baby. Get the garnet yams, scrub them, poke holes in them with a fork, put ’em on a cookie sheet and bake with the turkey for the last hour or so. The cookie sheet is because they tend to leak juice a bit. Yummy, and no marshmallows are harmed in the making of this dish.

I roasted the turkey breast-side down and then (with Darlin’ K’s help) turned it over onto its back for the last hour of cooking. I did stuff it (against the recommendation of the linked recipe) with my traditional stuffing which includes pecans. The upside-down roasting keeps the breast meat from drying out while getting the dark meat cooked enough. Turning it over means the breast skin gets browned.

The first time I cooked it this way, I tried turning it over myself.  I ended up dropping it, and it slid back and tipped the oven rack up, then ended up down in the bottom of the oven at the very back, with all the drippings spilled everywhere, and smoke you would not believe! And it wasn’t done cooking yet, so I couldn’t turn off the oven (unless I wanted to throw away a fourteen pound turkey with stuffing and have PBJ for the main Thanksgiving dish). We opened the doors and windows and prayed all our neighbors were visiting relatives. No fire trucks showed up, so it was okay. And the turkey tasted fine. The gravy was only okay, since I didn’t have much in the way of drippings to use for it.

This year went much better. And the moral of the story is, roasting turkeys are both hot and slippery, so get help when you want to turn them over.

Non-traditional turkey roasting and yam-baking aside, I’m very traditional when it comes to dessert. Pumpkin pie, back-of-the-can recipe, with real whipped cream from my mixing bowl, not a spray can. You can keep your pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin chiffon pie, and all that artsy-fartsy mess. And I’ll eat Cool Whip™ when it’s served me, but I won’t have it in my house. (Have you read the ingredients? Geez).

This year, the kids and Darlin’ K did the pies on Wednesday night. I laid out the crust for them, DK did most of the ingredient-adding, and the boys did the stirring. Mr. R. cracked and added the eggs without mishap. They both enjoyed destroying “pumpkin island” in the last stages of mixing. They had a good time, I got to go to knit night, and the pies turned out great! 

(Note that I did not say I “made” the crust. My crust is pretty much not quite as good as Pillsbury’s, so I save myself the time and mess and get it from the refrigerated case at my grocer’s. What? Cool Whip™ is a completely different thing. And whipping cream is nothing like the job of making pie crust or from-scratch cream of mushroom soup. Shut up).

When it was time for dessert, all I had to do was whip the cream. I add a little vanilla to mine, and whip it ’til it’s good and stiff (I know what you’re thinking, stop it. We’re talking about Thanksgiving here). That way, any leftovers will keep in the fridge overnight and still be good and stiff (stop it, I said!), maybe even for two days. If you’re wimpy about your whipping, the cream will revert to runny status fairly quickly.

I’ll be blatant with the gratitude rather than sneaking it in. Feel free to skip if you want (you ungrateful beast).

My Beloved Creator, I thank You for my family, my friends (in particular Lyda, my long-term BFF and partner in crime–please make her healing process easy and fast), my home and my neighborhood, my lovely new job, knitting and books, my beautiful life in general, the awareness that I have much to be grateful for even when life isn’t much fun, and the fact that I didn’t set anything on fire or burn out my hand mixer when I made Thanksgiving dinner.

Oh, and wine. The Carneros Fleur Pinot Noir (2006) was especially good. I’ll have to get that again.