Sunday, July 30, 2006

Shameless Displays of Indulgence 

Considering Hoth was afraid of the camera just a week ago, I think he's made excellent progress in the mellowing department. He no longer worries about the big scary clicking whirring flashing black thing and lets it get right...up...close:

Now, if he could keep his @ss a little farther from our pillows, I'd be happier.

I have no interesting knitting. I knit a pumpkin hat, but the leaves I knit looked crappy and while I could have sworn that there was a corkscrew icord in one of my books, I couldn't find it. Also, I have not posted the three hats I made and they were supposed to be there tomorrow. Not gonna happen. I hope other well meaning knitters were not as disorganised as I.

I took scissors to my hair, and once again, too late, remembered that I suck at cutting my own hair. I don't really like going to the shop to get my hair cut either, so when I went today I had the barber cut it down to a quarter inch. That way I can go a couple months before having to go again. I am brilliant. Now the dogs look like shaggy hippies next to me and I know a couple things I didn't really know before:

Well, off to do some one armed push ups.
(truth be told, I always have a hard time believing the person in the mirrror is me, so despite the blogging, I'm not fussed about my hair. I love rubbing it. It feels good.

And I am really regretting not going for some mid-90's hip-hop style and getting something razored into the back of my head, like "hi Nick!")


Sunday, July 23, 2006

The New Hotness 

Say hello to our newest foster dog, Hoth:

He's just turned three years old, has bad teeth, a bit shy, a little freaked by men, takes thyroid medication, has to eat a special fish & potato diet because of allergies and is the tallest dog we've ever fostered. He may be here awhile (and that's all right). While he's no Snowball, (;P) he's a unique mookie bear and very good about not peeing in the house and we lub him vewwy vewwy much.

We're going to teach him to be confident and chill.

Speaking of chill, the irony isn't lost on me that he's named for an ice planet in a galaxy far, far away a long time ago. (Dogs that come in in groups are named for themes. Someone was in a Star Wars mood when he first came in. We also had a Nabu and an Endor that I can remember.) It's very hot here. It's pretty hot everywhere though, and setting records for it, so, enough said. Weather chat is for neighbors and elevators.

I've been spinning, knitting, and goofing off.

Spinning and knitting, color synchronicity.

I've been doing some dyeing too, pics later.

I've been getting really excited about the Louet Victoria--originally labeled the S95, it was renamed after this cutie patootie:

I especially like this bit:
Just as my grand child the prototype weighted 3,5 kg and measured about 50 cm long. Folded, the S95 is still longer than Victoria, my grand child, when she folds herself.

written by Jan Louet.

I like my Lendrum, but I don't love it.

While its endless range of adjustments and accessories are part of a selling point, they're also a pain in the @ss. They don't actually fit in the gigantic bag one buys to carry it in and it's heavier than many other wheels.

The Victoria is priced at a point below the Lendrum (I don't know that there's been an official suggested retail price, but they designed it be at the price level of the S75 or below and $550-$595 seems to be the magic number most bandied about as a retail price) and it's lighter and more compact than anything else on the market.

Anyway, I'll bet a lot of Lendrums are on the market used after this becomes available and widely tested. Mine might be.

Of course, Lendrum owners are a fierce gang, with a yahoo group and all...so who knows. It won't be available for shipping until November, but I've got dibs on an oak one. I'll be taking orders for the Victoria at my site, bag & shipping included for $525.

Click here for more shopariffic info.

Belu's posture telling Tahoe that she'll kick his butt six ways 'til Sunday if he says anything about the hat. anything, buddy, just try some smart lip.

Speaking of smart lip and stupid hats, I never should have said, "one a day fast" about the babyhats. We had visiting family and I've only finished one baby hat since my last post, and you can sort of see the second finished hat under the berry cabled hat on the arm of the sofa next to Hoth. The hat in progress next to the bobbin of handpainted Dorset is some odd skein Bisbee Sock Yarn.

I am maybe half done with a pumpkin hat made of a spare ball of Jaegar Cadiz (50/50 silk/viscose blend) which I'll edge with single crochet green Noro Cash Iroha around the brim edge and use the green Noro to knit a twisting i-cord vine and leaves. Originally I cast on 42 stitches, but thought that would be too small, NICU sized, so I ripped it and now it's 70 stitches on size 4s and will be a pumpkin hat to fit a pumpkin head--a mother's silly hat revenge for a painful perineum. ;)

Or just a hat for a healthy, happy breastfed baby. Who knows.


Sunday, July 16, 2006

Knitting, babies & b!tches 


Last Monday night I finished my first pair of adult size socks.

I didn't kitchener the toe until Tuesday morning however, because I didn't have Jessica to hold my hand and talk me through it step by step for this one (unlike the first one, finished at the baseball game and she didn't actually hold my hand because that would have made kitchenering the toe even more tricky, but she did watch me and tell me exactly what to do so I just shut my brain off and followed her voice to HappyTidilyGraftedToe Town), but the knitty tutorial did all right. Not as pretty, but done.

Doing the second heel I realised that I have a "literacy issue." The heel flap instructions did not say "purl 1, slip 1" like I had remembered. Just "slip 1, purl across" like Stella had said in the comments. It does make a bit of visual difference, and feels a little different on, but not so much that I'm making a third sock.

Both socks were made with one skein of my dye-o-rama pal's yarn with a fair bit to spare, so I could make a matching pair if I was so inclined. I love the colors, but the polyamide content in this elann makes 'em a little crunchy feeling, so I know they'll wear like iron. (not a bad thing).

Pattern modifications: None, although I didn't knit as long a foot as specified as I have shorter feet. The "lovey lace" pattern was very easy, but kind of baggy. I guess I'm not as cankly as I think.

Knitting & Babies

Given the subscription numbers, it's highly unlikely that anyone reading here is unaware of Yarn Harlot's baby hat post(s). But just in case: (scroll down each entry for the pertinent bits) Original post here, baby hat Q & A here, Jeanne's mailing address posted here.

A big amen to the original post, and not just the maelstrom of issues surrounding breastfeeding but also the not-putting-acrylic-on-babies thing--if you've ever done a burn test on acrylic you'll know why the idea of it freaks me out.

Acrylic burns fast and hot, spreads and melts fast. Ingeo does the same.

Pure wool is self-extinguishing and flakes instead of melting. Wool also becomes warmer when wet, instead of stealing heat from the body when wet as cotton does. The market is now so large that the old "rough wool" is no excuse--there are wools out there softer than many of these unnatural yarns marketed for baby knitting. The only excuse out there against wool now might be the "easy care" issue, but I think it's more a different mindset. Washing our wool stuff doesn't seem any more of a PITA then doing laundry or dishes. Fill a sink/washer, let the item(s) soak for twenty minutes in the soapy water, drain, refill, soak, drain, lay it out to dry. Little increments of time. As I'm given to understand that everything is reduced to little icrements of time once the baby comes, I don't see what the big deal is. Although I can understand the One.More.Damn.Thing. complaint/viewpoint.

Anyway, superwash wool is out there and now, easily available. One caveat though is that the polymer it is coated with to keep it from felting does burn, but the self extinguishing properties of the wool still exist within it and it behaves in a burn test almost exactly like pure wool, but the flame spreads over the surface a little farther and extinguishes a fraction of a second later. Enough of a difference to tell a difference, but a small difference.

Cotton is not self extinguishing, but does not spread in such a scary fast flame as acrylic. But it will burn completely, with little orange glowing worms of flame spreading throughout the fiber unto powdery ash.

People generally don't smoke around kids any more, but still...just in case, and especially during barbecue season, please don't encase kids in petroleum products.

Anyway, my point, before I got distracted by setting samples on fire at the bathroom sink?

When I wind off sock yarn I often end up with mini-skeins. Baby hats, even knit in sock yarn, knit up incredibly fast, like one-a-day fast. And it's superwash merino, so they can wash it in the washer but it'll burn (almost exactly) like wool.

Never knit something without an eye toward its fiery destruction, I always say.

I haven't much of a clue about baby proportions (I am always blown away by how wee we all start out) but I think this cantaloupe is about the right size of a big-ish newborn noggin. Roughly 55 yards of the fingering weight, a cable pattern made up on the fly. I did do a rough sketch of it on paper, but the cable as knit had fewer crossings, not like you can really tell in the variegated yarn anyway.

Anyway, this is definitely a great way to use up project scraps as they really don't take much yardage, and being small and not laying in the lap, they're nice for summer knitting. They're also great for trying out stitch patterns, little wearable swatches.


I thought I was getting better about missing Snowball, but in the last few weeks the grief has come back. Not the same crippling wave of it, but the futile stabbing pain of absence. The fresh reminder that I'll never get to rub my face in his fur and scratch him while he leans against my leg. That no one follows me around while I do house work and I'll never laugh at him doing his happy spins around the yard again. I thought I saw him in the kitchen about three weeks ago, coming in from the deck but it was just a combination of Tahoe, peripheral vision, and wishful forgetting.

And then I got an e-mail that this beautiful girl had to be put down because of osteosarcoma too.

I really thought I'd had a post on this blog about her, but I cannot seem to find it. She was at the center when we were fostering Jasper and I couldn't bring her home, but she was one of the ones that really made my day. We would hang out in the car for lunch, sometimes go to McDonald's (my lunch hour was before the breakfast cutoff time and I love the hash browns, and she liked the sausage mcmuffins, and I went back again just a month ago after not having gone since she was adopted and the lady at the drive-thru asked, "Where's Rosie?"), sometimes go to my house. I loved her. Her goofy smile and bounce made my day. For other people she would just stand there, but the way she bounced around for me and our happiness together made people say, "hey, that dog is cool," and put out the extra effort to draw her out, so she started being more affectionate with EVERYBODY--it's a not uncommon domino effect, and it's not something people would like to admit, but there is competition to be the dogs' FAVORITE person, the person they all go apesh!t for--and got adopted by a nice couple from Beverly Hills.

They had e-mailed me about six months ago to tell me about the cancer, but the e-mail saying she was gone, plus this inexplicable new wave of mourning for the Wallyball made me need another greyhound around.

I love my dogs. But there is something about taking a dog and bringing them home and watching them just open up, learn new things, become brave and confident, be silly, spread out, cause trouble...it's awesome, and I love it. It's probably just ego stroking, but I love how just a little extra effort with a dog can effect huge changes in their behavior, turn a shy dog into a happy bouncy goofy love-glutton.

Anyway, Monday we brought home Teak.

Long story short, she's an awesome little girl. She'd been a shivery nervous wreck at the kennel, but had a great time at our house, especially since there was a ten minute gap in adult human supervision and she kicked Belu's ass.

I'm sure Belu deserved it.

I came home and Belu had a scallion sized hematoma on her neck and a tooth/claw scrape on her side; a little table on the deck had been tipped over and a machete was buried point first into the deck a half inch or so. It must have been quite a little scuffle.

Belu likes to nip Tahoe when he gets excited when we come home--I think she tried this with Teak, and Teak showed her that this was unacceptable. She never broke the skin, just bruised her, which if you know how thin greyhound/whippet/italian greyhound skin is, you will be able to respect how amazingly well-tempered her bites were. Just fabulous. We weren't sure that Belu had learned her lesson, and Heidi said it was okay to bring her to the movie night that night; by the end of the evening the blood in the hematoma had been mostly reabsorbed and was almost undiscernible.

She decided on a policy of pretending Teak didn't exist, looking right past her, leaving her alone. This is amazing if you know our powermad little b!tch when she's at home.

The first day or so Teak was a little clingy. At one point I was walking in the house and stopped and she walked headfirst into my backside and I nearly cried with gratitude. Snowball used to do that all the time, and while I know we'll never have another dog like him, it was nice, this...I don't know what you'd call it. Anyway, I think I'm starting to sound pathetic and most people aren't reading this anyway as there are no pictures, so I'd better wrap it up.

She was adopted yesterday, and while I'm hoping it will be her perfect happy forever home, she'll always be welcome back here. So it was a short foster experience, but good balm for wounds all around. My SIL and nephews will be visiting this week, but next week we are bringing home another.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Yoghurt & Figs 

First off, go say happy birthday to Heidi.

(when come back bring pie)


I'm not sure what else to say about the yoghurt, but here are some answers to questions posed in the comments and a bit of addenda.

The first batch I made was with a quart of whole milk and a 1/3 cup of the dry nonfat milk, rounded tablespoon of plain yoghurt (starter culture) and left it in the stove overnight. (instructions straight from google) It tasted great but was a bit thinner than storebought.

The second batch I tried the quart of skim milk, the cup of dry nonfat. Thicker, better.

This batch I've added some vanilla too at the higher heat stage and doubled the amounts. Vamos a ver.

However you make it, as long as you add a rounded tablespoon of plain yoghurt to be the starter culture at the lower heat stage (around 100ºF, higher heat would kill it) you will have as much active happy healthy bacteria as storebought, sans marketing, sans aspartame.

I have read that the less fat in the milk you use, the less thick your yoghurt will be. Makes sense to me. So you might have to choose. Also, for thicker, cheese style or "greek style" yoghurt you can layer some cheese cloth in a bowl, pour the yoghurt mixture (after its 6-8 hour incubation) into the bowl, gather the ends of the cloth and suspend it over the bowl in the fridge. Leave that overnight, and keep what's in the cheesecloth, do whatever to the whey.


I love figs. Dried, but especially fresh. There's really nothing you need to do to a fig to make it better, IMO.

But when we lived in Sacramento, there was a restaurant that started up in the doomed Shakey's pizza burned out space and when we went the first day or so after they had opened we had one of the best meals ever. We came back a week later and it was awful and apparently, that's how it stayed. Anyway, this fig thing is one of the foofy things we had. Quite easy to make.

The figs I used were even, perhaps, overripe. But it turned out all yummy and smoky-sweet all the same.

Turn on the broiler of your oven, and cover a cookie sheet with tinfoil.

Anyway, with a spoon, scoop out the the pink guts of the figs. Mix with an equal amount of chevre cheese.

Spoon the guts back into the centers of the figs.

Place upon cookie sheet. Stick cookie sheet in the oven, under the broiler for about ten minutes, or until the cheese and sugar in the figs have gone all melty and carmel-rific.

Dribble a bit of balsamic vinegar over it (or not) and you're done. Carefully plate 'em up as they'll be very skooshy. And hot.

Maybe they don't look all that sexy, but they're yummy. The goaty cheese and the carmelised sugars in the fig make it smokey an sweet, and a bit of balsamic vinegar lends an acid sweetness to cut the fatness of the flavor.

Next up:

Knitting, bitches & babies.


Monday, July 10, 2006

Happy Monday Morning 

Bit of surreal campy commercialism for you, dear?

(you'll want your sound on)

A more in-depth Yoghurty post tomorrow, I promise.


Tuesday, July 04, 2006


Red, white and blueberry.

Homemade yoghurt*, super easy!

Hope everyone has a yummy and safe 4th of July!

*combine 1 quart skim milk heated to just under scalding & 1 cup dry nonfat milk in a sterilised ovensafe bowl. Let cool to about 100, 110ºF before putting in a rounded tablespoon of plain yoghurt (from the store or a previous batch, whatever, you just need starter culture) and mix in well. Wrap in a shawl (or clean towel, whatever) and place inside the warm (but switched off) oven. Leave overnight, 6-8ish hours. The longer you leave it, the tarter it'll get so it depends on your taste.


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