Wednesday, August 31, 2011

August Reading List

Books Read in August

123 - 01 The Real Macaw, by Donna Andrews (8/5)
124 - 02 Death on Tour, by Janice Hamrick (8/6)
125 - 03 The Trouble with J.J., by Tami Hoag (8/7) 
126 - 04 Just Murdered, by Elaine Viets (8/9)
127 - 05 Murder with Reservations, by Elaine Viets  (8/10)
128 - 06 The Secret Mistress, by Mary Balogh (8/13)
129 - 07 Clubbed to Death, by Elaine Viets (8/14)
130 - 08 The Baby Planner, by Josie Brown (8/15)
131 - 09 Human Communication, by Pearson, Nelson, Titsworth,  Harter (8/16) textbook 
132 - 10 Sixteen Brides, by Stephanie Grace Whitson (8/16)
133 - 11 How to Woo a Reluctant Lady, by Sabrina Jeffries (8/19)
134 - 12 Dead Reckoning, by Charlaine Harris (8/24) 
135 - 13 And Thereby Hangs a Tale, by Jeffrey Archer (8/25) 
136 - 14 April in Bloom, by Annie Jones (8/26) 
137 - 15 Charlotte Figg Takes Over Paradise, by Joyce Magnin (8/28) 
138 - 16 Griselda Takes Flight, by Joyce Magnin (8/30)

Death on Tour, by Janice Hamrick, was a very easy-to-read mystery. Even though I had figured out who the murderers were by page 37, it was interesting enough to keep reading. I'd put it in my "junk-food books" category, with mystery instead of steamy romance. (There was a romance, but very g-rated.) I did find one quick kniterary reference: "In the evening, board a felucca and sail across the sapphire waters of the Nile to the lush botanical gardens on Kitchener's Island." I suppose only a die-hard, obsessive sock knitter such as myself would immediately add Egypt to the list of places she absolutely has to visit, based only on the botanical gardens of Kitchener's Island. (For the non-knitting readers, "Kitchener" is a way of seaming two pieces of knitting often used to close the toes of a sock.) On the negative side, and almost making me abandon the book, was a far-too casual, " 'No, I'm not retarded,' I snorted." This is an expression that I truly hate, and I don't understand how it managed to work it's way into a newly-published book. Seriously. Publishers would hesitate to write "nigger" or "kite" (there would have to be a legitimate literary need for those words), so why is a casually-used "retard" okay? It was the one bad note in an otherwise pleasant book.

The dreaded "retard" appears in another book this month. In fact, it made several appearances in Just Murdered, by Elaine Viets. Normally I let it something offensive in a book get past me one time. The second occurrence is when I will put the book down and move on. But in this case, I stuck with the story since it the character using the term was supposed to be a horrible b*tch that wouldn't mind offending anyone. The book, while still being easy 'junk-food' reading, actually had a well-written mystery. 

One of my favorite books this month was And Thereby Hangs a Tale, by Jeffrey Archer. It's a collection of short stories that are wonderfully engrossing. Out of the 15 tales, 10 are actually based on real events. I will definitely be looking for other books by this author.

Friday, August 19, 2011

It's my baby's first day of school

I was thinking about how disjointedly time seemed to flow, passing in a blur at times, with single images standing out more clearly than others. And then, at other times, every second was significant, etched in my mind.
 (Stephanie Meyer)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Meet The Tools Of The Trade

I am still so extremely excited about the new looms. I still can't get over the fact that I was given (yes, given!) two beautiful looms. The floor loom was made by Tools of the Trade. According to my web research, it was built by Arthur Weitzenfiled around 1978 - 1980. Mr. Weitzenfiled built approximately 450 looms in the 1970s, and weavers still look for these as good "working" looms.

There are no manufacturer's markings on the table loom, but after hearing the history of the original owner, I have a feeling that it was also one of the Tools of the Trade looms built in the early 1980's.

The floor loom is a 35"  four harness, six treadle loom, and it seems to be in wonderful shape. I just have to do some dusting, and maybe a little bit of wood oil. 

The loom is 49" wide and 43" tall. Fully open, it takes up 42".

But when I'm not using it, I can fold it up to just 26" deep. So it takes up the same amount of room as a bookcase would.

The table top loom is almost as big. It just doesn't have legs. And it doesn't fold up. It's 31" wide, 22 1/2" tall, and 26" deep.

This loom is also a 4 harness, but only has a 25" weaving width. (Listen to me: "only." That's a lot bigger than the 16" Kromski Harp I was hoping to get someday!)

The first thing I did after getting the looms was to visit the library for information. I've checked out all the books on weaving, and on recommendations by Ravelry weavers I'm reading Learning to Weave, by Deborah Chandler. There is so much to learn! Terms like warp and weft, shafts, heddles, and dents, shed, and so many more. It's an entire language to master before I can start to follow along on the how-to-do-it portion of the book!

My first step is to learn to do is to warp the loom. You warp the loom by threading the vertical lines on the loom. This is more complicated than I thought it would be, since the path each piece takes helps to determine the pattern in your woven cloth.You have to plan out in advance which heddle in which one of the four harnesses each length of thread/yarn will travel from the warp beam before it passes through the dent and gets tied to the cloth beam. Depending on the thickness of the yarn used and how wide you want the finished cloth, there could be as many as 600 to 1200 lengths to be threaded.

Are you feeling intimidated? Because I certainly am.

I was also given a whole bunch of extra stuff with the looms. Supposedly all of this goes along with the looms, but that was based solely on the fact that it was all stored together.

I'm hoping that something in this pile will turn out to be a warping board. I need a warping board to measure out all the lengths of yarn so that I can warp my first project. Too bad nothing in the piles look like the illustrations in the book. 

While I try to figure out if I have a warping board or need to get one, I'll probably start by organizing the many boxes of yarns I was given. I may not know what I'm doing, but I have enough yarn to do it for a very long time!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Daily Topics

Monday - Wine or Dine
Tuesday - Tuneup / 50 by 50
Wednesday - WIPs and FOs (knitting)
Thursday - Spinning or Weaving
Friday - Favorites
Saturday - Anything goes!
Sunday - Anything goes!
Last day of the Month - Reading Log

I don't know if anyone has noticed, but I've been trying to keep to a regular schedule with my posts. For one thing, it makes it easier for me to post everyday if I already have something in mind to talk about. More importantly, a regular schedule lets you, the readers, anticipate the day's post so that you know whether or not you want to visit me. If you have no interest in knitting (I totally don't understand that, but okay), then you know to avoid me on Wednesdays. On the other hand, if you are as fascinated by my newest love interest, weaving, you will be anxiously waiting for my posts on Thursdays. (Thursdays used to be Photo Meme Day, but it's being bumped out by the new loom.)

As always, I don't make any promises to how strictly I will be following the schedule. It's a guideline, not a rule.

Works in Progress

My floor loom made it home today, thanks to my wonderful friend Kim. I'm very excited, and all I want to do is (1) show it off and (2) start playing with it. But I've decided to wait until tomorrow to post pictures and talk about the looms. Wednesdays have always been my primary day to talk about knitting (Wednesday's WIPs and FOs). When there's something spinning to talking about, it usually just gets added into the knitting discussion.

Now that I have two looms, I plan to document my progress as I learn to weave on them. So I've decided to give the looms their very own day.Well, the looms and the spinning wheel get a day. Thursdays will be LeToTT for me. "Le" for Lendrum, my spinning wheel, and "ToTT" for the looms (which were made by Tools of the Trade, affectionately known in the weaving world as ToTT.)

Since today is Wednesday, let me show you what's on my needles:

The Hedera socks are coming along quickly. I've knit about three-quarters of the pair. I can probably finish these this weekend. I really like them, even if the color is a little too busy (okay, a lot too busy) for the lace pattern. The pattern was so easy to memorize, which is one of my favorite things about a Cookie A pattern. They all look so complicated and intricate, but once you start knitting it's all very intuitive.

My other project this week has been the Lemonade Stole. Actually, I frogged the Lemonade shawl because I just wasn't happy with it. It was part of a knit-a-long, and the intention was for the group to spin the same fiber and then knit it into the same pattern in order to see how different spinning techniques affected the knitting. It was a great idea. And I loved seeing the different results. I just didn't love the pattern we were using. It was a very pretty pattern, and well written. But it ate up yarn, and so my finished project was going to be way to small to ever be useful. I finally banished it to the WIPs pile in favor of a "better" project. But I really am determined to clear away that pile of WIPs, so the Lemonade Stole was frogged. On the suggestion of my friend Paula, I used the yarn to start a new stole using the The Three Way Scarf pattern by Diana Gonzalez. I am totally loving this reincarnated project. This pattern is a very quick, easy knit. And it shows off the yarn beautifully. I've renamed it my Florida A/C shawl.

My only other knitting is an announcement that the Tour-de-Sock will be starting on October 1st, and I've decided to compete. There are six stages, and the goal is to be be the first to finish knitting a pair of socks at each level. (If you aren't the first, you have to at least complete the entire pair within the nine days allowed for each level.) There are prizes and bragging rights involved. Wish me luck! Better yet, join me in the competition!
 * ~ * ~ *
Blanket Update:
199 squares in 228 days
(Status: I need to get caught up before the big competition!)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

When life hands you lemons...

A reincarnated Lemonade shawl

Tuesdays are supposed to be Tune-up days, where I update on my progress with either my health goals or the 50 by 50 goals. I don't have anything new to report on either one.

I probably should have something to report. It's not like I don't have time for myself. With my son moved out and my daughter's busy schedule (work, social life, college starting this week AND a new job), I get lots of "me" time. Which I've been busy spending either job hunting or cleaning/decluttering the house.

Maybe I'll get back on track for next week. Maybe.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Virtual Party

This weekend's wine was a gewurztraminer from Washington Hills Paradise Peak. (Please don't ask me how to say gewurztraminer. Even after listening to The Crush, I don't get it.) This bottle was opened, by the way, so that I could take part in a virtual taste testing party. I've joined a Ravelry forum group that combines fiber and wine. (I know, real friends wouldn't let friends knit drunk, but we're only virtual friends.) Anyway, our current topic is wines from Washington State, so I had to have a glass of my Paradise Peak in order to hang with the cool kids.

So anyway, this was pretty good wine. I'm giving it three stars.
  • 1 star = It was okay but nothing special
  • 2 stars = It was good and I liked it
  • 3 stars = It was good and I'd buy it again
  • 4 stars = I really, really like it, enough to call it a favorite
  • 5 stars = It's mine, all mine! And I don't want to share.

The aroma was nice and fruity (grapefruit and pear, maybe). It had a light, bubbly taste. It was slightly sweet, and citrusy, with a hint of spices. I started out with it very cold, and as it warmed up it seemed to be sweeter. (Now that I think of it, was it sweeter as it warmed up or as I drank more?)

I paid around $9 for the bottle, so it was a pretty good bargain. A good wine to go with the jalapeno-cheese stuffed chicken breast I had it with, but it would be even better sitting out by the pool. (I have to find a way to disguise my wine glass so that I can do that!)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

You will need to find your passion. Don't give up on finding it because then all you're doing is waiting for the Reaper. (Randy Pausch)

Meet my new loom. It's a table top, rigid heddle loom. And that's really all I know about it.

To be truthful, I'm only guessing at the rigid heddle part. It sounded good, though, didn't it. Almost like I knew something about weaving.

But I am very excited about it. I've wanted a loom of my own for a long time. And now I have two. (There's a floor loom that was also given to me, but I couldn't get it home in my car. I'll be picking that one up later this week.)

The looms came with a whole bunch of accessories. I've got to find someone to teach me, since I don't recognize any of this. I'm not even sure which loom these parts go with. But I'm going to have a blast trying to figure it all out.

I really am excited. I want to start playing with it right now. Only I can't, because the warping board stayed behind with the floor loom. (See. I actually do know some of this weaving stuff.)

Along with the two looms, I was also given a stash of yarn for warping the looms.

Lots and lots of yarn. Just for the looms. 

 Yeah, life is good.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

My daughter loves me!

Look what Becca brought home from work. A new hot sauce for me to try. One of her customers is Mr. Breeze himself. They were chatting, and Becca mentioned that her mom was a hot sauce fiend. So he gave her this Garlic Pepper Sauce for me to try.  (It isn't their hottest sauce, but it's his favorite tasting recipe.)

I suppose it would be wrong for me to just sip it straight from the bottle?

Friday, August 12, 2011

I made ice cream! Yummy, yummy ice cream!

I followed the recipe I found on the Brown-Eyed Baker's blog. It was very easy. Just mix whatever flavorings you want into 1 can of sweetened condensed milk. (Anything with sweetened condensed milk has to bee good.) For my ice cream, I mixed in some chocolate chips. Then whip 2 cups of heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the sweetened condensed milk. Cover it with an airtight lid, and put it in the freezer. According to Michelle, it will take about 6 hours to completely freeze. But if you can't wait, go ahead and sneak a taste after just half an hour. It's very good "soft serve."

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ice Tea, please.

Oh, wait. Just asking for an iced tea gives it away that I'm a Yankee. Southerners just ask for tea.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

We're not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be. (C.S. Lewis)

 I have a finished object. Finally. I had finished knitting the Special Olympics scarf early last week. I think I mentioned last Wednesday that all I had left to do was to finish weaving in the ends. Well, I finally sat down this morning and wove them all in. I could cross at least two more WIPs off the list just by doing the finishing work (sewing up seams and/or weaving in ends). Knitting is fun. Finishing is not.

Anyway, this scarf will be going to the Ohio Special Olympics. I recently found out that one of my friends from high school has a son that participates in the Ohio Special Olympics. So this year any scarves that I knit will be going there in honor of A.J.

The other project on my needles is the Hedera Socks from Cookie A's Knit.Socks.Love. book. The yarn is from Creatively Dyed, in the Envy colorway. I love the yarn, even if it is a little too variegated for the lace pattern. Although the color and pattern work well once the socks are put on and the lace is blocked (stretched) a little bit.
 * ~ * ~ *
Blanket Update:
194 squares in 221 days
(Status: Why do I bother setting goals?)

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Monday, August 08, 2011

Having once decided to achieve a certain task, achieve it at all costs of tedium and distaste. The gain in self-confidencd of having accomplished a tiresome labor is immense. (Arnold Bennett)


If your heart is warm with happiness, you'll need a glass - if sorrow chills your heart, have two! (Hannu Lehmusvuori)

This weekend's wine was a recommendation from my daughter. It's one of her "go-to" wines that she described as being worth twice the price. And she was right. It was great.

I'm talking about Red Diamond Cabernet Sauvignon. I bought a bottle of 2008 at my local Publix store for just under $10. Red Diamond is a Washington cabernet sauvignon, blended with a light touch of syrah and merlot. It's a nice, dark ruby color, with a spicy aroma. In some of the reviews I read, the aroma was described as leather, heavy cherry, and even chocolate. I didn't pick any of that up, but I've had blocked sinuses all week so you can't really trust me.

You can trust me that it tasted yummy. It was smooth (the reviews called it velvet) with a heavy berry taste and a lingering spicy finish. Some of the reviews described a dark chocolate taste, which I didn't catch but may have been why I liked it so much. It was terrific with the cheese pizza, but I think it would also be a nice sipping wine for an evening of knitting or socializing.

This is going on my list of wines to buy again.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Empty Nest

If I had thought to take a "Before" picture, this corner of my son's room would be filled with electronics: a big screen TV, video games, a tower filled with movies and games, etc. Now it's just a dusty corner in desperate need of a vacuum.

My son moved into his first apartment today. I want to be happy for him. It's an exciting rite of passage. It's something that I knew was coming someday, and that I encouraged. I just wasn't prepared to find out on Saturday night that he was leaving on Sunday. I'm hurt that he involved his father in the process, but left me completely out of the loop until the last minute.

Plus I already miss him.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Seriously. Enough already.

I was trying to drown my sorrows in Starbucks and knitting. 
Except that I didn't have enough yarn for the project I wanted to cast on. 
And then I spilled the Starbucks putting the knitting away.

Friday, August 05, 2011

It's no longer a question of staying healthy. It's a question of finding a sickness you like. (Jackie Mason)

I like this flower. I don't know what it it, but it's pretty. 

It's actually from the tree that grows on the side of my apartment. 

The flower from yesterday is from the tree in front of my apartment. 

In the mood for a little culture

I want to go to a museum. I'd really like to go to the Met with my daughter, but I suppose I have to settle for the Norton. Anyone want to come with me?

Go look at this blog post, which was in one of my favorite blogs, The Panopticon, today. Did you check it out? Not yet? Really, go look at it. I'll wait for you.

You're back? Good! Now do you want to go to the museum with me?

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The Good, The Better, and the Bleh

The Good:

I finished walkcloth #2 this week, and I'm halfway through my third walkcloth. I figure that by the time I lose ten pounds I will have knit enough dishcloth's for Becca's new apartment.

I almost finished the first scarf for the 2012 Special Olympics. The knitting is done. I just have to finish weaving in all the ends.

The Better:
I gave my speech (for class) today in front of some of the Fiberistas. I'm not sure how well it really went. My friends told me it was good, but then they're my friends so what else would they say. I'll watch the videotape tomorrow and see what I think before I send it to the professor. I would feel a whole lot better if I hadn't had to cut half the speech out at the last minute. Somehow when I was practicing I timed myself for the five minutes, but really talked for ten. The time limit allowed is only five minutes, with a penalty for every minute you're under or over the limit. On the way to knitting, I ran through the speech one last practice and realized that I had gotten the timing wrong. Hence, the need for the last minute change.

That, however, was not "The Better." The Better was teaching a 13-year-old boy (the grandson of one of our knitters) how to spin. He had volunteered to be my camera man and videotaped my speech for me. Since he was busy during the speech, I took some time afterward to give him a private spinning lesson. I have to say that he was a joy to work with. He was very polite, smart, and eager to learn. I caught him trying to knit earlier in the evening, and later on he came back to ask me more questions about spinning and knitting. I sense a future Jared Flood (well-known knit designer).

The Bleh:

I was wounded in the call of knitting. While I was waiting for my daughter to finish up at work, I reached into my pocketbook for my socks to work on. Somehow, one of the bamboo needles punctured my palm. Bamboo dpns are not very sharp. And they have a tendency to break when put under pressure. (I've broken a number of my bamboos.) So how in the heck did I manage to poke myself hard enough to draw blood? Ouch!
 * ~ * ~ *
Blanket Update:
191 squares in 214 days
(Status: I didn't catch up. But I didn't fall any further behind, either.)

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Palm Beach State College
I feel like I'm such a slacker. It sounded like such a good idea to make a list of fifty things to accomplish by 2013. "It would be fun," I thought. Instead, it's turned out to be another long list of tasks that I can't quite get to. Sigh. At least I have a couple of items I can update.

16. Finish or frog the 10 existing WIPs.  This past weekend I finished Timothy's scarf. It just needed to be bound off, which I was able to do with the help of a youtube video. I also had to weave in all the ends where he had changed colors (I had him change colors each day he knit, so stripes showed us how many days he worked on the scarf and how long he was able to stay on task.) The idea of weaving in all those ends were what kept me from finishing the scarf sooner. But once I got started, it wasn't too bad.

23. Start recycling at home (and continue for at least 3 months). We're starting month three of the recycling. I would love to say that it's working out wonderfully. Unfortunately, the children aren't 100% into the idea, so I find myself pulling things out of the trash and moving it to the recycling box. Yeck. But there are two full bags (one of glass/plastic and one of paper) to be taken to the recycling area today, so I can feel good about that.

24. Write a letter every other week (at least 12). I wrote the first letter this past week.

41. Change my job.  I'm still looking for work. I had a promising interview last week, but I never heard back from them. I went to a job fair yesterday, but I came away with only one promising lead. It's really difficult, both financially and mentally, to be unemployed.

And that's all I have to add on the 50 x 50 list.

Monday, August 01, 2011

How I spent a sunny afternoon:

Listening to a class lecture on my computer.

(The good thing is that nobody noticed I was knitting the whole time.)

Monday morning wine

Over the weekend I opened the bottle of Conundrum that's been chilling in my refrigerator since May. (Has it really been that long?) I had purchased this bottle after my Wine 101 class on the recommendation of the instructor. My question to her had been, "Is there anyway to keep a bottle of wine from going 'off' if you don't drink it all the first two days, since I'm the only one in my house that would be drinking?"  I hate to buy a bottle of wine for myself, knowing that I'm going to be wasting most of the bottle.

Her solution was for me to buy a smaller half-bottle with one of the new Stelvin screw caps. After I drank that bottle, she said for me to wash out the bottle and save it. Then when I opened a bottle with a cork, I could use a funnel and transfer half of it into the smaller bottle to be saved. The screw cap would keep the wine good for a longer time period.

So I bought the Conundrum mainly for the bottle. Which is kind of funny because I took the class so that I wouldn't be buying wines just because of the bottle. But she had assured me that Conundrum was a pretty good white wine (I like whites) and it would be a good possibility as my personal "house" wine.

Well, she was right that it was a pretty good wine. The Conundrum, out of California, is a blend of chardonnay, viognier, muscat, and sauvignon blanc grapes. It's a nice crisp white. I thought it had a nice floral aroma, and a bright floral taste with maybe a little lemon and an herb finish. According to reviews, there's a bit of honeysuckle in the aroma and a taste of honey, but I didn't catch that. And even though it was good, and would be very nice sitting out by the pool on a hot day, it isn't going to make it on my list of favorites.

And by the way, I had found a bottle stopper at Williams-Sonoma that has a great seal so I don't need to transfer the wine in order to save it.