Author Archives: lizytish

A Few Random Things (including crochet!)

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So, I did a little crocheting! I worked on my Moorland crochet-a-long blanket (from the Attic 24 blog)

Got the Khaki row finished and started the Meadow row.  I am only doing a few minutes at a time and trying to go very SLOWLY so progress will be extremely slow. I am woefully behind as the CAL is just about finished (the post for how to do the edging is due up next week) but that’s ok.  It’s not a race. Thank goodness.

There has also been some kitchen experimenting around here.  My dad told us about the Presto 06006 Kitchen Kettle Multi-Cooker/Steamer which he makes stews and soups and french fries in.  Paul’s eyes widened when he heard french fries.  So we got one and made some fries….

The day we wanted to make them, we only had some baby red potatoes on hand but they were great!  We will definitely be experimenting with more frying.  And soup.

I finished a great book called Luckiest Girl Alive: A Novel  Lots of twists and turns in this book about a woman trying to maintain a new life despite some major events that happened in high school and which catch up with her. The author is great at dropping little bombshell pieces of information then taking you to another part of the story and making you wait for her to put it all together.  I love that kind of book.

(Click on both those links up there to find them on Amazon.)

I also wanted to show you my new pencil holder.

It is my new favorite tea from Beekman 1802 called Brace the Day.  It is a strong black tea, great for waking you up and starting your morning.  Plus, along with my “RELAX” reminder, I thought “Brace the Day” was a good sentiment too (and it sits next to the wonderful little crochet bowl my mom gave me!)

Next up: hopefully a little more crochet or knitting to show you and probably some talk about all the new patterns that I’m dying to knit.

Hanging On

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Well, the weather has been horrendous here, how about you? Snow last Thursday, snow yesterday.

Early last week – and actually for the past month or so – Paul was working on the plow Jeep to get it running.  It was having carburetor issues and we thought for sure that this was the winter it would crap out on us.  Paul already had to shovel the driveway during a minor snowfall in January.  We have had this 1960-ish Jeep for 12 winters and almost every year, we think it will be the last.  It has had MANY fixes and we are just always hoping we’ll get through yet another winter because replacing it would be very expensive.  It will be hard to beat the $400 deal we got on this one.

Thankfully the last ditch effort of purchasing a rebuild kit for the needle and seat (she says like she knows what she’s talking about but really, she just asked Paul) did the trick.

And we think it can hang on for at least the rest of this winter!

Meanwhile, with the snow coming down yesterday, Paul and I made pretzels!  Paul has been WAY into the cooking and baking since I have been limited in this area recently.  I think he is actually starting to like it.

(Paul declared the one in the lower right to be representative of our intertwined love.  You know, with Valentine’s Day coming and all…)

We used the King Arthur Flour Soft Buttery Pretzel Mix (click there to get it on Amazon) and they are so, So, SO, GOOD!  Especially right out of the oven.  Perfect to have watching tv on a cold, snowy day.

Progress?

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There may be a light at the end of the tunnel and today is “test day.”  Here is what things have come to:

Rock tape to help relax the muscles (there is another piece on the other side of my arm). Tendonitis bands to take the pressure off the elbow tendon.  Hand/wrist support to support the muscles that extend to the elbow.  Crazypants.  (And by the way, both arms look like that.) But, I think it might be helping.  While I am still supposed to be resting and heating, I am able to do some computer work with just a little soreness later, not a lot.

And today, I am trying knitting (for only a few minutes) with the orthopedic doctor’s recommendation of using square knitting needles (I can’t believe he knew about square knitting needles!) which are supposed to be gentler on your arms/hands.  I got some tips to try with my interchangeable set at Knitpicks.com:

And because I wanted to make the shipping “worth it,” I got these too:

How could I not? Reds and pinks were on sale for Valentine’s Day.  These could potentially be a pair of socks for my sweetheart Paul (who absolutely would NOT wear them so really they will be for me!).

Oh and while we are talking about yarn purchases, I went to The Spinning Room the other day, “just to browse” and I came home with these:

I just can’t resist Debbie Bliss Cashmerino and especially the new tonals.

Stay tuned – you may actually see some finished knitting from me someday!

3 Books, A Class and A Window

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Still no knitting but a cortisone shot in each elbow will hopefully help things move along. And abbreviated posts continue….

Here are 3 books I have finished recently:
Missing You by Harlan Coben. I love, Love, LOVE Harlan Coben’s books. Exciting, suspenseful, page-turning stories and this was no exception.

Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing by Jennifer Weiner. I have enjoyed all her books. This one is a memoir and since we went to the same high school, it was interesting reading her perspective on our town and her experiences.  But that was just a small part of the book.  There were so many great chapters.  I enjoy her writing – engaging, witty, thoughtful, and honest.

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah. The first time I read a Kristin Hanna book was The Nightingale: A Novel which I loved.  I decided to try another of her books and I wasn’t disappointed.  A completely different book from The Nightingale, Firefly Lane is a story about two best friends, how they met and a journey through their lives as friends.  I laughed, I cried, I enjoyed it!

(Click on any of those links to purchase on Amazon.)

A Class:

The Baa-ble Hat class was fun last weekend.  This one is so popular that I’ve scheduled another class and it is almost full already!  As someone in the class mentioned, there is something about seeing those sheep grow in the knitted work that makes you just want to keep knitting to see what it will look like…

A window:

Christine did her magic once again with The Spinning Room’s front window.  The most adorable sweatered penquins (and an elephant) playing on the ice!

A List

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A list for you today!

1) We are having a little ice storm today.  Luckily I got to the dentist and back before it started. (No cavities! AND my dentist now has warm towelettes to wash your face after your cleaning. How froofy!)

2) The Rough Waters cowl class was fun this weekend.  Here are the works-in-progress:

Lots of practice with yarn overs and sk2p’s.

3) You may have noticed a new little heading near the top of my home page that says: “My Favorite Things Amazon Store”.  (If you are on a mobile device, click on “Menu”) That is a link to my Amazon store where you can find a bunch of my favorite things (knitting related and non-knitting related).  If you purchase something through there, I get a tiny commission, which helps pay for my blogging host fees. Thank you for your support!

4) While I was not knitting this weekend, my mom came for a visit and we chatted and watched tv.  And had ice cream. A pretty good substitute for not knitting!

5) What I’m making in the crock pot right now: Honey-Garlic Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs.  This is the second time I’m making this recipe – excellent.  And so easy!

6) How about a little book review? I recently read: Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood, Book 1).  Aside from Twilight this is the only other vampire book I have read.  I think I liked it.  It was just very weird to read about vampires as if they were an everyday thing. And it was a little gory. Otherwise a good mystery with some romancy things thrown in.  This series is what the tv show True Blood is based on.  I have the next two in the series, Living Dead in Dallas and Club Dead, waiting in the wings but will wait a bit to read those. There is only so much vampire stuff I can take. (click on any of those links to purchase on Amazon)

7) And here are some additions to my Ravelry queue, accumulating while I can’t knit:

Triteia cowl

Cloud Covered Scarf

MinimalSockz (#800 in my queue. I better be able to start knitting soon so I can start on those 800 patterns.)

Enough typing. Off to heat and rest.

They’ve Got This

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I taught the Two Socks on One Circular Needle class last night and boy was it frustrating — for the participants, not me.  But that’s totally normal. I have taught this class many times now and have come to know exactly what they are thinking as the class goes on.  Because of the fiddly technique, I know they will get frustrated.  They will start saying, “Is this worth it?” or “I don’t think I’ll do this again.”  or “Maybe I don’t want to knit socks.” or “!@#$%^”

So, my job is to keep calm (I’ve gotten pretty good at that) and to let them know at the very beginning that it’s going to be frustrating but also that it’s going to be ok and they will get the hang of it.  Like anything new, there is a learning curve and that’s why you take a class: to learn and get tips and suggestions to get through your project.

For this particular class, I give them one basic question to answer: Where is the working yarn?  It should be in the back, on a cable, not on a needle tip.  By taking a deep breath and looking at their work, they will see, there is only one possible yarn ball/needle tip to work with, even though there are two needle ends and two balls of yarn and the whole thing looks like one big tangled mess!

By the time they come back for the second class after doing inches and inches of practice for homework, they are saying, “It wasn’t that bad!”  or  “I love this!”  or “This is the only way I’m knitting socks from now on.”

Another tip I give is to suggest they work on it a little bit more right when they get home so they can cement what they learned in class.  The ride home gives them a little break and time to think about what was happening in class.

So, while I had those initial “I don’t know about this…” comments in class last night, and even though that picture up there looks like 4 big tangled messes of yarn and needles, by the end of class everyone knew what they were doing. They’ve totally got this.

4 1/2 Reasons You Need A Yarn Scale

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Today, since I am supposed to be resting my elbows (and not typing), I am re-posting something from two years ago (almost to the day) with a couple of updates.

I got a yarn scale for Christmas two years ago and it is one of my favorite knitting tools.  It is not technically a “yarn” scale – it is a Smart Weigh Digital Pro Pocket Scale with Back-Lit LCD Display, Silver  (click there to get one on Amazon).

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Often people use them in their kitchens for measuring food.  It has a capacity of just over 4 pounds, which is plenty for yarn/garment weighing (and for food if you need it for double-duty), and weighs to a tenth of a gram.

It may be surprising to non-knitters (and maybe to some newer knitters too) that a scale is one of my favorite knitting tools.  But I use it for so many things.  Read on, and then get one!

Reason #1: Determining how many yards of a ball of yarn I used.  I weigh the yarn first, knit the item, then weigh the item (or the remaining ball) and do some math to determine yardage.

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71.7 grams of a 100 gram/220 yard skein of yarn means I used 157.7 yards of the skein to make this cowl.  Definitely important to know when I write up the pattern for my design!

Reason #2: Determining if I have enough yarn to knit something.  A perfect example: I knitted a pair of mittens for my sister-in-law for her birthday.

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And then she lost one.  After only 2 1/2 weeks.  She was so upset!  But, it happens.  Since I made this with my handspun yarn, and I’m not terrific at keeping track of yardage for that, I had her weigh her remaining mitten (she has a yarn scale too!). It was 53 grams.

Then I weighed my remaining handspun to see if there would be enough to make a replacement mitten.

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Hooray!  Plenty of yarn to make another one.  Although the berry color is in short supply so those stripes might need to be thinner.  But, hey, the eclectic look is in.  Who needs a perfectly matching pair of mittens?

Reason #2.5 (Related to #2): Weighing yarn while knitting is helpful if you think you might run out of yarn.  You can weigh your yarn, knit a row, then weigh it again to determine how much you use in each row.  Then you will know if you have enough to knit those last 3 rows or if you have to modify your pattern to end sooner.

Reason #3: Separating a ball of sock yarn.  There is a method of making socks where you can make two at a time on one, long circular needle.  [In fact, I’m teaching this class at The Spinning Room this week! The class is full but call the shop to be put on a waiting list so I know there is interest and can schedule another session.]  To do this, you need two balls of yarn, and often sock yarn comes in one ball or skein.  So I use the scale while I am separating the ball, to make sure they are even amounts.

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4) Making sure a ball of yarn is a full ball of yarn. Sometimes I use a little bit of a ball, with the label still on it, and it doesn’t look like there is any missing.  If I need a certain yardage, I want to make sure the ball weighs what the label says it does.

There you have it!  Four and a half reasons why you need a yarn scale. In case you needed convincing….

And here is a link to Amazon again if you have been convinced!… Smart Weigh Digital Pro Pocket Scale with Back-Lit LCD Display, Silver

I can’t knit or crochet right now but I’m still adding things to my queue!  Here are a few I found recently:

Alpine Butterfly Mitts and Hat

Ziyon Hooded Scarf

Cosmic Wonder 

Back to heat and rest, heat and rest, heat and rest.

A Game Changer

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I’m vacuuming.

Right now.

As I type this.

A few weeks before Christmas, I hit my limit. I don’t think it’s any secret that I’m not a fan of cleaning. I do it but only when I have to. I will find anything else to do – I dare say even stack wood with Paul – in order not to do the cleaning.  Eventually, though, it really does need to get done and I do it.

The thing I procrastinate the most about is vacuuming.  For some reason, I just can’t stand it.  So, with my elbows being how they were and, really, vacuuming only aggravated that situation, it was finally time to make the leap….

Yes, we got an iRobot Roomba 650 Robotic Vacuum Cleaner. (click there if you’d like to get one too!)

So far, it’s the best decision we have made since we decided to get married. It’s the best thing since sliced bread. It’s the cat’s pajamas.

Last February, I was listening to this episode of the Knitting Pipeline podcast and she gave a glowing review of it – she loved it so she bought it for both of her sons’ families.  Her daughter-in-law said it changed her life.  Changed. Her. Life. Ever since listening to that episode, when it was time to procrastinate about vacuuming again, I’d remind Paul about this life changing device and how he wouldn’t have to listen to me complain about vacuuming anymore.  Apparently it took ten months and tendonitis in two elbows for me to wear him down.  Whew, that was an exhausting ten months.

I really can’t tell you the weight that is lifted off of my cleaning conscience.  Seriously, a total cleaning game changer. I highly recommend you get one.

On to a fiber-y non-game changer…. the Moorland Blanket crochet-a-long.  I attempted to start this gorgeous blanket this weekend.  I got my yarn chart all ready:

Such a pretty color combination!

Then I started out with my first, second and third colors:

I tried to do a little at a time.  Sort of.  Boy, is that hard.  But then my elbows started hurting and I stopped.  Today I went to physical therapy and surprise of all surprises, the therapist said the best thing to do to get better is to REST.  Heat and rest.  Heat and rest. Heat and rest. Heat and REST.

I probably shouldn’t even be typing.  So, I’m off to heat up my rice bag and rest!  The sooner the elbows get better, the sooner I can get back to my hobby passion obsession.

Holiday Wrap Up and 2017 Plans

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So, the holidays happened.  Boy that goes by quickly, doesn’t it?  Here is the wrap up:

We had family time with my family in Connecticut and my sister made these Grinch kababs:

Sorry about the blur but you get the picture.  So adorable!  And really yummy. (And yes, my sister is wearing a cute Santa apron.)

We also had family time with Paul’s family in New York.  Remember the star cookies I made?

Well, they turned into this:

And it was yummy.  I also made Toffee Squares from the Pioneer Woman and Jamaretti cookies from Martha (of course, because I love Martha).  They were also yummy.

After the Christmas rush and just before New Year’s (where we just sit at home so there is nothing to tell there) we took a little trip to Skaneateles for an overnight.  We stayed at the Skaneateles Suites and they have the most wonderful boutique hotel.

It was great!  It is a small hotel, like a bed and breakfast but without anyone to cook you breakfast.  The rooms are just like a “regular” hotel room with tv, bathroom (with jacuzzi tub), coffee maker, desk, wifi and a comfy bed.  They also give you a basket of breakfast items (since they don’t provide breakfast) including instant oatmeal and Nutrigrain bars, and some other snacks. It was really a great place to stay and the staff was so friendly.

The hotel is located just off the main street so we could walk to shops and dinner and bakeries and see the lake.  We had such a nice relaxing time and got to see some of our favorite cable shows since they have better cable than we do.  You should go! (We are going back….)

On the way out there we stopped at Patchwork Plus which is a quilt shop that has yarn.  We got to the door and saw this:

And so, this happened….

I know. So bad. And Paul-the-enabler had to go get a basket since his arms were getting full.  And then I had to fill the basket.  He almost went for another. (Ok but…60% off????)

Then, on the way home, we stopped at Beekman 1802 in Sharon Springs since we hadn’t been there in a while and I picked up a few things:

Excellent sauce, excellent (strong) tea, and excellent lip polish.

So now we are on to 2017. As usual, I’m hoping to blog more. I’m hoping to make some of it instructional and gain some readers, so if you like anything I’m saying please share or forward to anyone you think might like it.

I’m also hoping to knit more!  I finally saw the doctor and will be going to PT for my ailing elbows.  The Moorland Blanket crochet-a-long is starting today and I’m hoping to do a tiny bit of that since I just can’t stand it anymore.  I haven’t picked up a knitting needle in weeks.  WEEKS, I tell you!  It’s just not normal.

Here’s to a great 2017!

Interlude

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In the absence of knitting (the trees proved to be too much apparently and now I need another little rest – how annoying is that?), I give you Christmas baking and an experiment…

My most favorite sugar cookie recipe to date I discovered back in the spring through Smitten Kitchen and her Confetti Cookies.

Oh. My. Gosh.  So tender and just wonderful.  And the sprinkles are fun.

So, I decided to use the same recipe with my new sheep/knitting cookie stamps from Juniper Moon:

And make little packages to give to the new owners of The Spinning Room!

Then, I used the same recipe, with an additional 1/2 cup flour, to make rolled cut-out cookies:

The sprinkled ones got taste-tested.  The others will become something else I’ll show you another time.

I highly recommend this recipe.  In fact, (heads up if you are local and like a free treat) I may or may not be making more sheep/knitting cookies to share at The Spinning Room.

In experimental news, I made a wonderful caramel sauce that my friend Chrissy told me about.  A can of sweetened condensed milk, immersed in water, heated in the crock pot for hours and hours.

My first try, for 8 hours, looked like this:

It didn’t look quite dark enough so I decided, after Googling for a little more information, to try again.  This time I put it in a canning jar so I could see how dark it was getting and left it in for 10 hours….

Ok, looks the same but the second one definitely tasted more caramel-y! Found that info here.  We are looking forward to trying it on something!

P.S. If you are reading this on a computer and not a mobile device, you might notice a wintry addition to the blog! (And if your are reading it on a mobile device, I bet that just made you want to go look at it on a computer…)