Monday, April 28, 2014

Expectations About Hate

There are some days where I'm amazed at how far we've come...African American President of the U.S., same sex marriage equality in many states and hope for a woman for president in 2016.

But On Other Days...

...I couldn't be more discouraged by the kind of hate I hear.  That idiot Cliven Bundy out in Nevada is a very high-profile example of some of the racial hatred that's been less evident until Fox News made him their little Tea Party star.  But racial hatred never went away...it just wasn't so spotlighted in the news.

And homophobia hasn't gone away either.  Just take a look at what our Christian Right countrymen exported to Uganda when they realized fighting marriage equality was a losing battle here in the States.

It seems as if recent Supreme Court decisions on affirmative action are either willfully ignorant, or just ignorant...as are the decisions made about voter discrimination.

We need some major shift in thinking in this country, and I can only hope that this mid-term election in November (and PLEASE don't forget the primaries before that) will be a signal to conservatives that we reject hate in all it's forms, and even if we hold conservative social or fiscal views, hate won't be tolerated.

That's QueerJoe's dream for today.

Current Crochet

Got distracted again.  I had some skeins of Koigu KPPPM in my stash SCREAMING for attention.  So I decided to start on another Interlocking Wave Scarf using just two different colorways of Koigu.



I recently gave away one of these scarfs in LOTS of different Koigu colorways and the recipient LOVED the scarf.  I'm also amazed at how quickly this scarf crochets up.

Readers' Comments/Questions

Maureen wrote:  "I'd love a close-up picture of the blanket!"

Here you go:


Friday, April 25, 2014

SQUIRREL!!!

I just can't help myself.  I see something on Pinterest or Facebook or someone's blog, and I just have to swatch.


The Russians Are Stealing Everything

Often, when I see a stitch pattern on Pinterest, the link that it brings me to is in Russian...and it looks as if the instructions and even the photo is scanned directly from a book.

I guess stealing knitting stitch patterns doesn't compare with stealing parts of the Ukraine, but I still don't recommend it.

Especially when it's not that difficult to re-create it yourself.

And here's the stitch pattern:

Current Knitting


I decided to re-make my demonstration heels for the workshop I'll be doing at the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat this year.


From top to bottom we have a simple short-row heel, a Dutch heel and a toe-up version of the Dutch heel.  My favorite is the bottom one as it has all the advantages of the Dutch heel (which I think conforms to the heel very well, but the gusset seam is less visible.

Finn felt it necessary to give his opinion as well.


He prefers the Dutch heel...but cats can be so contrary, can't they?

Readers' Comments/Questions

Maureen writes, "But what if it explodes??? - isn't it dangerous to have a tank of gas in your kitchen?"

Not really.  The tanks are inspected every 5 years for safety and it's definitely as safe as having a fire extinguisher in your kitchen (which you should).

Christina writes, "Finn, is dad having you sleep on a machine made blanket? You have him knit you a super soft blanket and then post the picture."

First of all, that blanket was woven by an 85 year old man in Edmonton Canada on a beautiful old loom.  Second of all he does have two hand-knit blankets (by me) that he lays on all the time (one in the second bedroom and one in the TV room).

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Fresh Made Seltzer

I love drinking seltzer...just plain bubbly water.  Since Thaddeus drinks it too, I've suggested for a while that we get one of those home seltzer makers:





Soda On-Demand

How many of you have gotten one of these Soda Stream, CO2 infusers?

Overall, it's cheaper to make your own seltzer and it saves on plastic...right?

I couldn't understand why Thaddeus wouldn't want one of these.

Until I realized he wanted to do it in a more industrial (and cost-savings way).


Yes, with a 5 pound tank of CO2, a regulator, a hose and some special caps that fit soda bottles, we are now making GALLONS of our own Seltzer water.  The initial outlay of $164 allowed us to buy all the equipment necessary and fill the tank with CO2.  This set-up will last for at least 6 months and then we just need to pay about $10 to refill the tank with CO2.

I imagine we'll cover the cost of this equipment in less than 2 years of savings on buying seltzer.  Plus, we'll add a lot less plastic to the World.

Current Crochet

Making slow, but steady progress on the crochet basket weave blanket/afghan.


I'm also re-making the heel samples for my workshop, but that shouldn't take too much of my knitting time.

Finn

Just didn't want to go too long without a photo of the most wonderful cat.


Here he is watching us eat lunch today.  I'm loving this guy more and more.

Friday, April 18, 2014

New Thaddeus Recipe

This side-dish is amazing...we had something similar in a restaurant and we loved it.


Curried Chickpea Fries

This dish is a healthier alternative to French fries, it can be completely gluten free and has a ton of flavor.  I personally love the flavor of  Indian spices, but you could substitute rosemary, or chive

Curried Chickpea Fries
Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Time: About 1½ hours, largely unattended

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup chickpea flour
2 cups water (you could also use vegetable or chicken stock)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
Salt and black pepper

1. Grease an 8- or 9-inch pan (Thaddeus uses a round pie pan, but most people use a square pan).
2. Whisk chickpea flour, cumin and turmeric into boiling water (you definitely want to use a whisk for this).
3. Boil while whisking constantly for 2 minutes.
4. Spread the chickpea flour mixture as evenly as possible into the greased pan, cover with foil or plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.
5. Put at least 2 inches of the oil in a large, deep pot over medium-high heat. Cut the chickpea flour cake into ½-by-3-inch strips. Add one of the strips to the oil to test whether it’s hot enough; the oil should immediately bubble vigorously. Working in batches, cook the remaining strips until deep golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the strips to paper towels to drain, season with salt, and serve hot.

Current Knitting/Crocheting

I'm doing a workshop at this year's Men's Spring Knitting Retreat on knitting a sock heel that forms more to the real anatomy of a foot than commercial socks, so I've started knitting up some samples.



I also did some additional crochet on the Crochet Basketweave Afghan, until I realized I had miscounted the number of rows in one of the stripes, so I had to rip back a bit.


I have recovered and gone a little past where I was, but I did promise a progress photo.

Readers' Comments/Questions

Thanks for the two comments about using EverNote instead of OneNote.

I made a comment that I still like OneNote better (see my response in last blog entry comments), but I have to now qualify my comments.

OneNote on Windows is an excellent product...better than EverNote in my opinion.  But on Mac OS, OneNote (which is a free app) is not as good...in fact in some ways it sucks.  I tried copying an Excel table into EverNote and also into OneNote...EverNote handled it great, OneNote wouldn't format the damn thing into a table no matter what I tried (whereas in Windows, it works like a charm).  Those kinds of platform-based inconsistencies with Microsoft products drive me nuts.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Best Organizational Tool Ever

Throughout all of my years at school and then into my worklife, I was terrible at having an organized way of keeping my notes in a place where I could access them when I needed them.

That Was Then

So now, someone at work introduces me to Microsoft's OneNote.


OMG!

This is what I have been searching for all my life.

For those who have never used it it's available as part of the Microsoft Office Suite of softwares, and also free on Mac OS and IOS as an app (they two softwares have a slightly different interface in Windows vs. OS/iOS).

Think of this application as an easy-to-search three-subject notebook, that had unlimited subjects (not just three), and unlimited pages in those subjects.

And that you could easily create pages in these notebooks by copying and pasting, embedding links, taking screen prints, sending Outlook e-mail messages directly to the correct subject, or just typing in notes.

The next time you needed to access your list of birthdays, you could go directly to the page (if you could find it) or do a simple search on the word birthday to find the subject and page where you had stored it.  It can also store to-do lists and html tags, or dates of children's vaccinations or meeting notes...and on and on.

I love this new tool...it has FINALLY allowed me to store information that is relevant to me in a way that is easy to access when I need it.

Current Knitting and Crocheting

I've done some additional work on both the Henry Der sweater vest and also on the Crochet Basketweave blanket.

The blanket doesn't look different enough from the last photo, so I'll try to get some more work done on that project so I can show a proper progress picture, but here's where I am with the Henry Der sweater vest.


The back is almost complete and I've finished one side of the front (after I split for the head opening).

I'm honestly not sure this design idea is going to work well enough to actually wear this sweater...I don't know if you can notice it in the photo, but I did bias knitting on the sides of the sweater and it seems to be torquing in a way I'm not sure blocking will fix.

But I won't know until it's finished.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Openness To Inspiration

As much as I'd like to say how open I am to being inspired, I think my openness is a bit more limited than I'd like to believe.

Limited Openness

A quick scan of Pinterest is a perfect microcosm of how I can sometimes enthusiastically embrace an idea that I find fits my aesthetic views and how I can totally dismiss ideas outside my areas of interest.

Some call this throwing out the baby with the bath water.

I'm starting to believe that creative people are more open to seeing things in a way that they find inspiration.  While I might look at a crochet toilet paper cozy and dismiss the entire thing, a more creative person might see a fabric texture, or a color combination, or a kitsch factor that inspires them to take useful aspects and leave the parts they don't find appealing.

I'm going to try and see things differently.

Current Knitting

At least I am being very productive in my knitting.

I've finished the latest pair of Zauberball socks.


Readers thought these were rainbow socks, but they really aren't.  I love how bright the colorway is and I will enjoy wearing these socks.

I've also gotten past the arm-hole shaping on the Henry Der vest.


Until this vest is almost finished, it will be difficult to decide if this design idea is going to work very well and also difficult to get a decent photo that doesn't make this look like an Alien embryo.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Made In the U.S.A.

As a consumer, more and more, I'm looking to buy products and services that benefit my local community, my State community and/or my Federal community.


Best New Local Product

It's getting more and more difficult to find a wide variety of products manufactured in this country, never mind in my own State, and often, those products are either not exactly what I'm looking for or are more expensive than a foreign substitute.

I am thrilled to have found an amazing new product that's made right here in my own state of Pennsylvania.

Invisible Glass by Stoner, Inc. (great company name!) is by far the best glass cleaner I've ever used and it works phenomenally well on metal, plastic and ceramic as well.  With just one spray application and a swipe of a micro-fiber cloth, my cooking area was GLEAMING!


Thaddeus saw them using this at our local car wash, and he was kind of annoyed that they barely swiped at his windshield and windows, and yet they were sparkling clean.  He found the product in the car-cleaning products section of our grocery store, but Amazon sells it as an "Add-On" so that you can reach the amount of an order to get free shipping.

If you ever try this, you will never use Windex again.

Current Knitting

Only worked on the Zauberball sock this past weekend.


Almost finished with another pair of hand-knit socks.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Finn Again

It's amazing to me that it's only been about six weeks since we brought this lovely boy into our home.

Here Comes Honey Boy Boy

I've started calling him my Honey Boy...he's just so sweet.


In a mere six weeks, he wants to hang out with us all day, he sleeps with us and loves to jump in our laps while we're watching television.


I can't tell you how comforting it is to have a loving kitty back in our home.


A couple of things that make Finn different than our other cats:

  1. He drinks from the far end of his drinking bowl.  So no matter what position he's standing in relation to his bowl, he will only lap up water from the far side away from where he is.
  2. He's not as talkative as our last two cats, but when he meows, they can hear him in NJ.
  3. He's dreadfully allergic to flea bites, and even though he'll always be an indoor cat, and we've never had fleas that we know of in our house, we'll do one of the monthly treatments for fleas and ticks so he never gets bitten again (he was bitten while in the shelter and it took a long time for his skin to heal from the resulting sores).
  4. He looks cross-eyed from certain vantage points (although Thaddeus insists he's never looked cross-eyed to him).
For his drinking, we weren't sure if he'd like it, but we got him one of those water-fountain bowls.


This one is the Teardrop design from Pioneer Pet Products and the water gurgles up on the upper-right-hand side of the bowl and streams down to the upper-left.

The pump both keeps the water flowing, and also filters it.  Fortunately, he likes it.



Don't tell me you still need knitting content after all that!

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Craft Ranking - Survey Results

Thank you to everyone that took the time to rank their preferred fiber-crafts.  It's no surprise that readers here preferred knitting over other fiber-crafts.  Here are the results in order of preference.

Survey Results

Total Survey Respondents:  40

Fiber Craft Average Rating Lowest Ranking Highest Ranking
Knitting 9.4 4 10
Crochet 4.4 0 10
Spinning 3.83 0 10
Quilting 3.8 0 10
Weaving 3.35 0 10
Dyeing 3.2 0 8
Fiber preparation 1.98 0 10
Rug Hooking 1.75 0 10
Machine Knitting 1.23 0 8
Tatting .93 0 5

Current Knitting

Latest Zauberball pair of socks coming along nicely


First one finished, and I'm moving along on the second one.  These bright crayon colors are fun to work with.

I've also finally got a photo of progress on the Henry Der Vest.


All crumpled up, it doesn't look like much, but I think I'm going to really like the final result.