Friday, June 29, 2007

Mozzarella and The King

I got a haircut today, which only tends to happen twice a year. A big day, it was. While I was heading to my appointment, it was once again confirmed to me that there is snobbery against Somerville amongst residents from other areas of Boston. In this case, presumably, a resident of the neighborhood in which I was walking, the South End. Here is what I overheard:


Stocky Sidekick: "Ewww! That sign says the mozzarella cheese was made in Somerville."

Tall Transvestite: "Huh?!" (obviously not one bit of interested in what her sidekick has to say)

Stocky Sidekick: "That sign says the cheese was made in Somerville. Who would want cheese made in Somerville. That is like eating cheese that was made in shit. Yuck."

Tall Transvestite: "Hi!!!!" (waving to person in tanning salon)


Why they gotta be dissing on my Somerville?!

Now, to The King. The owners of the hair salon that I go to are presumably obsessed with Elvis. Here I have only partially documented their insane the form of Elvis dioramas and altars in the bathroom:

Also, the courtyard of the Boston Public Library is a great place to knit. I started my Sockapalooza pal's socks there today.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Some Shiny Things

handmade glass beads with wooden beads

(Abby - The glass beads on this bracelet were the ones you gave me a long time ago. I finally figured out what I wanted to do with them. Thank you!)

Sterling silver chain and clasp. Beads are glass and amazonite.

These are the same beads as used in the necklace above. The clasp is the best that I've ever found for multiple stranded jewelry.

Dog Days

New England is in the middle of a heat wave. It is so hot that strange things are happening at our house.

Strange thing number one:
Jack can be found trying to find a cooler spot by wedging his 35 pound body places where it doesn't easily go. Such as underneath every piece of furniture in the house. Here are a few examples:

Jack under couch.

Jack under futon.

When the dogs are not found lying underneath furniture, they are found reenacting civil war battle scenes with their dead dog bodies flopped on the floor and a look in their eyes that says, "Have mercy on me, please!" I've been feeding them ice cubes as a peace keeping action.

Strange thing number two:
I can't get my wedding ring off of my finger. This may not seem strange to you wedding ring wearing, married folk, but this is the first time this has happened to me. My finger is all swollen because of the merciless heat and humidity which makes an already tight fitting ring very stuck on my finger.

Strange thing number three:
I have nearly become a shut-in over the last few days. I've been totally content being at home with the shades drawn until the sun goes down...or the dogs need to go on a walk...or I need to walk to the mailbox...or the garden needs watering... Ok, I haven't been a total shut-in but spending this much time at home is not like me especially when I have a long list of fun things I want to do this summer. For now, I will be sitting in front of a fan, eating freeze pops and fudgesicles, working on whatever suits my fancy and making plans for the more habitable summer days to come.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Two test socks and a skein of Fleece Artist

Dear Sockpal (who won't likely read this until after the socks have been received, but oh well!),

I want to knit you a pair of socks that will fit your feet and your style perfectly. I think I have found the right yarn for your hand-painted, natural fiber taste. How could I be sure that the yarn is good enough for you? Knit a pair for myself first, of course! A big sacrifice, I know. And now I have these socks for myself.

Yarn: Fleece Artist Merino Sock Yarn

Color: Mermaid

Pattern: From Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch

Four-Stitch Ribbing Patterns - Elongated Corded Rib

Variation: stockinette stitch on foot

This yarn is fabulous and the yardage per skein in totally impressive. I made these socks and have enough yarn left to make a short, lacy scarf. I especially liked the heel details in this pattern. Notice the 3 garters stitches edging the heel flap?

I think this yarn will please you. Here is the color I have chosen for you:

It is called Sea Storm.

My plan is to knit your socks in the Slipped-Stitch Rib from Schurch's book. I think it will be subtle enough that the colors of the yarn will show through but a little more exciting than a regular ribbed sock.

Good Morning!

Breakfast today consisted of strawberries, mangos, plain yogurt, mint and honey. Fabulous.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sunny Sunday with Strawberries and Scattergories

Strawberries! Today was one of the best days of the season to go strawberry picking. The berries were ripe and plentiful and the weather was beautiful. Liz, Bonnie and I drove up to Danvers, MA where we got our berry fix at Connors farm. We didn't leave until each of us had stained fingers and at least 4 pints of strawberries.

Me, Liz and Bonnie

We are all thinking of creative ways to consume multiple pounds of juicy, ripe strawberries before they go bad. Do you have any favorite strawberry recipes? Leave a comment.

Paul, Beth and Me

Tonight Beth hosted us for a veggie risotto dinner followed by some game playing. We experienced a long-awaited game of Blokus and followed it with not one, but two games of Scattergories. I finally got my fix of Scattergories. Paul has been forewarning people that they shouldn't play that game with me. I think he is just bitter because I beat him at it one too many times. He was on top of his Scattergories playing tonight, tying me for the win on the first game, with Beth taking the second game. What better thing to top the night off with but an ice cream cone from Christina's? Nothing. So, to Christina's we went.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Watson Adventure

Tonight we had an adventure. Officially, we had an "The Secrets of Old Boston Scavenger Hunt" adventure. Each team had a series of questions that were to be answered by going to various destinations and looking for clues. I wasn't sure what to expect but we ended up being challenged by the questions and needed to haul ass to get the whole hunt finished in the given time. We had a good team and we were pretty dang efficient (although some teammates needed to stop for pizza along the way)!

Teammates (front) Paul, Trinity, Becky, Coleman (back) Peter, Rosie
Our team was the winning team with all correct answers save one that tricked us. Also, we didn't get the bonus point for the most creative team name. That honor went to "Elementary, Dear Watson".

We played against some formidable competition. The hunt was open to the public but it worked out that the whole group of us had been invited by Becky and Brian.

If you live in one of the cities where they have Watson Adventures, I would recommend trying it out. It was an interesting way to have a miniature The Amazing Race experience.

Being out in a touristy area of town reminded me of one of the things that I really like about Boston. Boston is crazy about its street performers. I specifically love the drummers, but I also have a soft spot for the breakdancers. The drummers use random things including buckets, BBQ grill parts and pans as their drums. The amazing thing is that these guys are really good! Sometimes the drummers are adults but I have also seen kids creating some impressive beats with what is essentially a bunch of junk. Here is a blurry shot of a drummer that we passed on our way from the bar to the subway. They add a great energy to the city, so give 'em a buck if you can spare it.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Emerald Malabrigo

Fabric Place is having one of their 25% off of everything sales. It is dang hard to go into an entire store that is on sale and leave without buying anything. Today I thought I might be able to do that since I was going with a friend who was there for a specific purpose. Nope. I ended up buying a sweater's worth of Malabrigo yarn in Emerald. I think it will make a beautiful and warm sweater. Has anyone made a sweater out of Malabrigo? How does it hold up?

On another note. My landlords hire a landscaping company to take care of their properties. Which, at our place, is virtually all building and pavement with the exception of a few trees out front, a couple free standing planters and my garden space. They came while I was away today and dropped a motherload of mulch all over my garden despite multiple signs declaring the garden space as belonging to my apartment. Grr! I think I am going to have to remove it for the sake of my plants and for future tenants who might want the soil to be usable for gardening. They even dumped it on top of my plants....check out my mulchy broccoli:

Thursday, June 21, 2007

I cried and then I put out a fire.

Life definitely does have a sense of humor. Here's why:

Today was my last day of work. Because I am not returning there next year, there were a lot of people that I came to really like, admire and bond with throughout the past year to whom I needed to say goodbye. Leaving the building was almost an hour long process with many goodbyes, see you laters, hugs and parting words of wisdom. By the end of the goodbyes I couldn't hold in the emotions anymore and I began to cry. And it wasn't the pretty sort of crying where one or two nice big fat tears roll down your cheeks. It was the trying-not-to-but-can't-hold-back-slightly-sobbing-can't-talk kind of crying. I knew I needed to get out of the building before I would be able to pull myself back together. So I left and on my walk home is where the humor part happened.

As many of you know, my walk home from work takes me by the Market Basket supermarket. Upon approaching the supermarket I noticed some smoke. The smoke appeared to be coming from a parked car's exhaust pipe. As I got a little closer I smelled the smoke and it smelled like a campfire. That seemed strange being that it looked like it was coming out of an SUV. I know they are all rugged-like but I was pretty sure they don't run on burning wood. Once I was next to the source of the smoke, I realized that the mulch was smoldering. For those of you that read the Yarn Harlot's blog, you know that smoldering mulch can be pretty persistent. As I stopped to ponder how to handle the ever-increasing firey mulch, a couple of customers noticed and walked over to the area. The customer man had a partially full (notice the optimism there) bottle of water with which he attempted to put out the flames. He didn't have enough water and so I came over with my bottle of water to do what I could. I had enough to put the rest of it out. The customer lady said, "Dasani saves the day! They should use that as their slogan." To which the gentleman replied, "This happens all of the time. People and their dumb cigarettes." In my experience I haven't come across many instances of smoldering grocery store mulch but he apparently has a long history of firefighting at grocery stores and is fed up with it.

Needless to say, it was hard to feel all sad and emotional after Dasani saved the day. Thanks Dasani.

I can now start being excited about how I get to have a summer. A real, back to being like a little kid, play almost all of the time summer. It is the first time in my life that I get to have this sort of time off from work. There are bets on whether I will be able to enjoy the idle time or whether it will make me a crazy, must-be-productive, can't handle not being overly committed lunatic. I'm hoping for the best.

Happy Summer Solstice!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Della Q Circular Needle Case

Hooray! Something for organizing circular needles that is smallish, pretty and effective! I am so loving my Della Q circular case. It expands nicely when it is chock full of needles.

It has 12 needle pockets for needles sizes 2-15. The needles sit sideways in the pockets with the tips sticking out. The needles can shift around a little but haven't been slipping out of their pockets if I open and close the case carefully. When the case is closed I haven't had any of the needles move out of their assigned seats.

My only complaint is that the pocket sizes don't include 0, 1 or 10.5. Those are all sizes that I tend to use frequently.

My solution was to put the 10.5 needles in with the size 11 needles which frees up the 10 pockets (I don't own any size 10 circulars) for the size 0 and size 1 needles. It is easy for me to remember they are there because 10 is made up of a 0 and a 1.

I am not really into storing my needles in cases. My straights and double pointed needles are in vases in my apartment. Circulars are the trickiest to organize and store. They lend themselves well to a needle case but up until I saw this case, I wasn't impressed with the options. They either felt too utilitarian, like the hanging storage/sorter version, or too much like a cd case. So far I am really pleased with this case, both aesthetically and practically speaking.

Mermaid in Progress

I have been slowing chugging away on my Mermaid Socks. The Absorba stole me away for a while but I am now back track. I am starting to head down the foot on the second sock. Here are some pictures of the first sock. I am really enjoying this Fleece Artist yarn. That's a good thing considering my recent splurge.

The color is beautiful and the texture is pleasing to knit. I am thinking about what to knit for my sockpal. I know I will be using a skein of Fleece Artist but I am not sure what type of pattern to knit. My sockpal is a male who doesn't desire anything lace-like. The color is so beautiful on this yarn that I am tempted to just knit something simple in order to show off the colors while remaining masculine enough for my sockpal.

Every now and then I make one of these:

I am not much of a crocheter but I do like some simple crocheting from time to time. Every now and then I grab some of my random cotton yarns and throw them in a bag for a portable, mindless project. There is something special about a handmade washcloth.

And now, a teaser. I am working on something that I have never posted about before. It is a craft that I first encountered when I was a little girl. It will take me a while to get a finished project but I will show you some progress soon. Anyone have a guess what I could be working on? Post a comment with your guess.


Meet Absorba, The Great Bathmat!

This is a recently completed project that was made from yarn that has lived in my stash almost as long as I have been a knitter. Both yarns were purchased without a plan. The white yarn was purchased right after I learned how to knit (7 years ago!) because it seemed like such a good deal. Duh! Very few people would torture themselves by knitting with yarn that thick and unforgiving. Little did I know there were very few things that I would want to make from GIGANTIC white cotton yarn. The green yarn was on sale and came as a kit. Again, in a moment of craziness, I neglected to think about what the yarn would look and feel like when knit up...super thick and dense fabric.

So, the yarn moved along with me from residence to residence until I came across Absorba, The Great Bathmat from Mason Dixon Knitting. I had just the right yarn and who can resist knitting a project with such an excellent name! In the process, I also got to try out the log cabin knitting technique. I found the technique to be interesting but the yarn I used made it a painful experience for my hands and arms. I will have to try another log cabin project with thinner yarn.

Yarn: Classic Elite - Weekend Cotton and Sugar 'n Cream - Crafter's Cotton

Colors: 4835 (Green) and 100 (White)

Pattern: Absorba, The Great Bathmat from Mason Dixon Knitting

Variations: Added stripes along one side in order to make the mat more rectangular shaped and substituted my yarns for the tripled Peaches & Cream yarn

Now the challenge will be keeping the bathmat it in the realm of white amidst all of the dog fur that finds its way into the bathroom.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Summer is a-comin'

I can tell because tonight I had asparagus with dinner and then I made some rhubarb crisp. It is so close and I can't wait!

The colors of rhubarb would make excellent yarn. In fact, the color combination of the red and green in the rhubarb and the brown of the bamboo cutting board very much remind me of my recently completed hat.

I made the rhubarb crisp too late tonight for it to be cool enough for me to eat so I am totally having some for breakfast tomorrow. Naughty, I know. But, it will be so nice.

Monday, June 11, 2007

They are so hardcore.

Thanks to Sally, I now know of Hiphopopotamus v. Rhymenocerus. I am totally going to have to listen to more of their stuff. Check Flight of the Conchords out:

Friday, June 8, 2007

Graveyard, Market Basket and Chipping Paint

New England is unlike the Midwest in that there are incredibly beautiful, historic sites/buildings/spaces tucked into communities. Sometimes they are found in unexpected places. I love that the region respects the history of the community enough to not build a Blockbuster on them. I find it humorous what ends up habitating the nearby land.

For example, I regularly pass a cemetery on my way to and from work. It is a cemetery from the 1800s, judging by the dates on the headstones. The old cemeteries in these areas tend to be filled with decrepit headstones scattered about the space. Some of them have intricately carved angels, skulls and crossbones while others have simple name and date carvings.

This graveyard happens to sit right next to the Market Basket (a grocery store that specializing in being the cheapest around). The graveyard is surrounded by a fence, which means that it sits there undisturbed, for the most part. I will say that while I was spying I noticed that someone had tossed a vacuum cleaner over the fence. Maybe the dead needed to tidy up?

The fact that I can randomly stumble across historical spots is one of the aspects of the region that charms me into staying here despite the crazy driving and even crazier cost of living. Plus, I really have a thing for peeling paint. I find it really aesthetically pleasing.

Complain, complain, complain

I don't like to use this space to be a complainer but I can't hold back today. I am one big ball of stressed out me. I am normally fine (ok, stressed but in a coping, positive way) when major things in my life are changing. Since leaving my previous career, there have been a series of rapidly changing situations for me. Getting through grad school while taking advantage of various ways to gain experience and earn money has been the story of my life for the last 3 years. Throughout periods of high stress and uncertainty, I've been ok.

That brings me to where I am now. I am craving some stability, some status quo, of sorts, to savor. Please, give me some routine so I can decompress and not worry about what next, what next, what next. Nope. Not time for that yet, apparently.

I finished my graduate program and am now coming upon the impending end date to my current job. Add to that the fact that our landlord decided that our rent will be $150 more a month than we are currently paying if we want to stay in our apartment. That is highway robbery! Besides the pain of having to move, the drawback is that this is the first time in my grown-up life that I have ever lived in a place for more than a year. We are finally settled in and content and really fond of our apartment and our neighborhood. Things are hanging on the wall. Everything has a place. My garden is here. In short, I am just fine right here. Please leave me alone, Mr. Landlord.

So, not only do I not know how I am going to support myself, I don't know where I am going to live. Now, to be fair, I know that I will work it all is no big deal in the grand scheme of least I have my could be so much worse.....yadda yadda yadda. I KNOW! I am just in a stressed out, want things to be settled, how about some stability please, sort of mindset today.

Phew. Thanks for listening. I'll stop complaining now. In fact, I think I need a nap or maybe some sock knitting time.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Sacrificial Beans

About a month or so ago, I planted bean seeds in my garden. Immediately after planting them, there was a whole weekend of hard rain. I was worried that the seeds wouldn't sprout seeing as they were flooded so much that many of them popped back up and out of the soil. I also has residual worry from the one other time in my life that I had my very own garden space. None of the seeds that I planted in that space sprouted, not the carrots nor the lettuce nor any other seed. I was a little worried that I was somehow defective when it came to growing things from seeds.

Well, lo and behold. The seeds sprouted. So many of them sprouted that I knew I was going to have to thin them out. Since I was so overjoyed that they even sprouted, I was feeling a little sad that I was going to have yank some of them up and out of the soil. I know that is how it has to be done, but it was a little sad. I had to have Paul come out to take the emotional edge of the sacrificial yanking. We each did a row. Don't they look lonely now? Notice the pile of sacrificial beans at the bottom of the photo.

The same story will be happening again in two weeks but with beets. They are coming up like weeds!

If you look at the right edge of the photo, you'll see my collard green plant. It is ready for me to start eating from it. I love walking outside and grabbing something fresh to cook.
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