Accomplishing Nothing

I was hoping by my next post I would have something … anything! … to show you, but I come to you empty-handed.

The mohair stole is still not finished. I measured it on Friday and it was at 59 inches. I measured it last night and it was only at 60 inches. I thought for sure I knit more than an inch. I think it hates me. However, I do have wonderful news about the mohair. It seems that if you don’t try to fight with it, it self-patterns very nicely. Amazing, isn’t it?

The Christmas Tree Skirt has been frogged and recast on. My gauge was only off .25 of an inch from my swatch, but, oh, what a difference it can make.

Progress on my Alpaca Beaded Shawl is at a snail’s pace now. Each row keeps getting longer and longer as I near the top of the shawl. Plus, every 4th row requires the weaving in of 14 beads. I used to get excited for the bead rows (every 4th row) back when I only had to weave in 4 beads. Now, I get excited every time I finish a beaded row. And when faced with too many beaded rows, I pick up another project.

Let’s not even talk about my Mystery Project and the (lack of) progress on it. I’ve had two people stop by on Ravelry and let me know they’re excited to see what I create. Even my MIL asked me how the project was coming, since I had her running around Maine searching down the missing yarn for it. I am plagued with guilt and still I can’t bring myself to pick the needles back up. I HAVE to finish the stole, shawl, and xmas skirt first. Should I mention that I have wicked thoughts about knitting a scarf for my SIL? Somebody talk some sense into me, would ya?!

The Chili Pepper quilt is still missing its binding. The binding tape is laying on top of the quilt right now, but for some reason it won’t attach itself. Ungrateful thing that it is.

Baby Flick’s quilt still requires more machine quilting before I can stitch the binding on. Of course, I should mention that I haven’t even started to cut out the binding strips. Let’s not even talk about who is going to hand-stitch the binding to the back of the quilt. I’m on a hunt for that little green elf!

The Dining Room Roman Shades are still sitting in the sidelines waiting patiently for me to finish Baby Flick’s quilt.

And to prove it, here is a pic of my sewing room.

What have I accomplished?

I raked all the leaves up.

I stuffed a Pumpkin Man.

I put away our summer clothes and drug out the winter sweaters.

I took Jake to the vet. Poor guy has a double ear infection.

I did knit on the stole, shawl, and tree skirt, but they are mocking me now.


Bound Off last night only to Cast On again this morning

I thought I was done with my Mohair Stole. I even laid it out on the dining room table and took a “Before Blocking” picture.

While eating waffles this morning (how happy am I to have a waffle maker again!), I thought about how much I love the stole I made for myself several years ago.
So, I pulled it out and laid it next to the Mohair Stole. It was 15 inches longer! Only then did I try on the Mohair Stole … (I was too excited last night about finishing it to think about such practical issues).

It’s too short.
Mutter …

So, I ripped out the bind-off row this morning over a cup of strong tea and attached the final skein of yarn. I am still trying to find the courage to change the stole from a completed project back to a WIP in Ravelry.

As I’m still mad at it, I don’t plan to pick it back up until tonight’s World Series game.

Quilt Frame in Basement

The quilt frame is back in the basement again. No more crawling underneath it to get to the other side of the quilt. No more knocking the closet door into it and having the whole frame collapse on me (the jury rigging is very fragile). Jake is also thrilled to see it go downstairs. He hated getting bonked in the head every time he came in to get pets or to remind me of the time (i.e. playtime).

Why is it downstairs? It surely isn’t because of any of the inconveniences listed above. The inconveniences were silly and trivial compared to its practicality and usefulness of holding the quilt in place. I only had to twist a knob and thread my needle before I could sit down to hand quilt. No, the reason the frame is in the basement is because I have finished hand quilting Baby Flick’s quilt!

I found hand quilting to be fun and relaxing. I even have a nice callous on my pointer finger to prove it. As this was my first time hand quilting, I kept things simple. My stitches simply followed the outline of the dragon, the clouds, and the framework within the four dragon panels. If you are new to hand quilting, I highly recommend this “technique”, if it can be called a technique. It saved me from having to search for an easy quilting design and from learning how to transfer such a design to my quilt front.

Baby Flick’s quilt has to go back on the machine to complete the stitch-in-the-ditch quilting, but that should only take me an hour or two. I’m so close to being done. Woo!

Mushroom Soup recipe

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 4 cups chopped mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Melt 2 tbsp butter over medium heat in a stock pot. Add all the mushrooms. Saute till tender. Transfer mushrooms to a dish. Throw 75% of mushrooms into a food processor and pulse till mushrooms are finely chopped.

Heat remaining 2 tbsp of butter in the same stock pot. Add the flour and mix till combined. Then, add the chicken stock slowly. Toss in the mushrooms. Cover and simmer 30 minutes.

Increase heat to medium. Add cream, sherry, and cayenne pepper. Stir till blended. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

Genealogy with Gran

I spent yesterday with Gran (Dan’s maternal grandmother). After having brunch at a local diner, we went back to her house to sit and talk. Spurred on by the genetic testing (for breast cancer) I am getting done, I lassoed her help to fill in some of the missing blanks on Dan’s side of our family tree. We only ended up going back three generations, but she told me so many great stories.

After I got home, I spread out all the notes I took on our dining room table.

I quickly decided that the free forms I printed out weren’t going to cut it; there is no room to write in all the stories Gran told me. So, I plan to make up my own template on the computer and just print them out later.

Other news: I only have 7 more inches to knit on my Mohair Stole.

Casting on for Christmas

Christmas has begun in my home!

I have already crossed 9 people off my Christmas list. Only 15 more left to shop/make for. Which doesn’t sound like a lot until you start accounting for all the birthdays that occur in November and December. Most of the people on my list have to bought for twice.

I have garnered permission from Dan (my husband) and encouragement from my neighbor to put up two Christmas trees this year. The plan is to trim the artificial Christmas tree before Thanksgiving. We’ll get a real one after Thanksgiving Day. Plus, I already won the argument last year about The Wise Men Day (January 6th). The tree has always had to stay up till Jan. 6th because I won’t let him take it down beforehand, but last year was the first year we actually swapped one small present on the day. I lobbied that we make it a tradition … and Dan agreed. So, I get almost a full 2 months of Christmas! I’m soooo giddy. I can’t wait for Halloween to come and go.

But enough about my crazy Christmas habits, the main reason I wrote up this post was to show you that I have finally cast on for the Christmas Tree Skirt.

My love of cables has kept the tie point from curling.

And after fighting with my mohair stole over the hand painted yarn getting stuck in a rut, I am relieved to be working with yarn that nicely flows from one color to the other.
Thank you, Brenda!

Updates and Cooking

OK, I need your honest opinion. Does this Mohair Stole look splotchy to you?

I’m still following my cheater rule: swap skeins every 16 rows, rather than the traditional rule: swap skeins every 2 rows. I get bits of red here and there, but huge blobs of grey right smack dab in the middle of the stole. I think the yarn is doing it just to irritate me. It’s working!

Since I’m slightly frustrated with my tree skirt right now (it’s the tie point that is giving me trouble), I decided to go hog wild in the kitchen. Yesterday began my quest to find the perfect soup to serve with a Christmas Eve dinner. First up was Cream of Mushroom Soup. It tasted great (I’ll post a recipe of it later), but the texture was a bit off (a bit chewy/rubbery when biting into the mushroom chunks). And my reward from all that cooking, an hour of cleaning.

After Cleaning

Thanks to everybody who left me a comment on my Pumpkin adventure. I am reenergized and plan to tackle the other pumpkin this weekend. Although, this time around, I will be using Jane‘s advice and baking the pumpkin rather than steaming it. I’ve baked squash before and I must admit my “neck pumpkin” seemed more like a squash than a pumpkin. Although, it smelled like a pumpkin. And this time around I’ll be making the pumpkin up into a pie and a soup. I’ll let you know how it goes.

A Thank You from My Niece

I received the sweetest voice mail from my niece Katie yesterday.

What she said:
“Because the quilt you made me is so special, I made you a Tigger card. On the front of the card, it says ‘Tigger, Tigger, Tigger’. On the back, it says ‘I love you very much, Aunt Re’.”

(I should mention why she chose to give me a Tigger card. When we were down in Disney World, I informed Katie on more than one occasion that Tigger was the best. She wasn’t swayed from loving Ariel any less, but it did make for interesting discussions).

I was so touched. I called down to my sister as soon as I got the message. My sister informed me that I was also getting a Tigger from Katie’s stuffed animal collection (mainly because she’s under orders to trim it down). We’re pretty sure it’s the same Tigger I bought Katie when she was first born, but I’m excited to receive it anyway.

I’m not sure that I ever posted a picture of Katie’s quilt, so here are two. It was gifted to her on Christmas 2006.
A close-up
Full view

You may notice that there is a book propped up against the bed. This book was gifted with the quilt. It explained why each of the fabrics were chosen, since the majority of them were leftovers from clothes or bedding that I made Katie when she was younger.

Homemade Pumpkin

After spending at least an hour in traffic on Saturday driving to and fro the Exton Mall to purchase Christmas presents, I stopped on the way back at a Farmer’s Market. Now maybe it was the pent up frustration or the heat or the sheer joy from crossing two more people off my Christmas list, but it occurred to me that I could make my own pumpkin (for pies and muffins and such). After chatting with the farmer’s daughter about which pumpkins were best for this sort of thing, I walked away with 2 neck pumpkins.

Still excited over my purchase, I decided I would tackle one of the pumpkins straight away. After cutting up the entire pumpkin into bite-size chunks, I started to realize what an insane idea this was. There was no way all of this pumpkin was going to fit into my little 3-quart steamer.

I was right. It didn’t. It took 3 separate batches to steam all the pumpkin chunks. Once they were all steamed, into the fridge they went to cool off so I could touch them without burning myself.

Then, the fun process of cutting the rinds off all the chunks began. The rinds were donated to my compost pile and the pumpkin got thrown into my food processor. And out came a wet, mushy mess. Although none of my old-time cookbooks mentioned straining the pumpkin afterward, I did it anyway. I’m pleased with the results.

Total amount of pumpkin extracted from 1 neck pumpkin: 3 cups. I must admit I was slightly disappointed. After all the work I put into it, I expected to get a wee bit more: something close to a lifetime supply.

I have another neck pumpkin. Will I do it again? I don’t know. The pumpkin muffins did taste delicious this morning, but even dirt would taste pretty good after you added sugar, spices, and sour cream to it.