Sunday, October 30, 2005

Jack O' Lanterns

The pumpkins we got yesterday have been carved! The pictures are not great, since I had to take them in low-light with no flash, so I apologize for the blurriness. We relied pretty heavily on Pumpkin Masters' free pattern downloads -- I have three or four year's worth of their pattern books in a box, but darned if I know where.

Shiver me timbers
Hunter made his pumpkin into a skeletal pirate. This is the first year we let him do all the carving himself. Didn't he do a nice job? Ali helped him with the teeth, actually.

A friendly ghost
Ali made a graveyard ghostie with her pumpkin.

Le roi soleil
My nice round pumpkin became a sun in his splendor.

Go Chiefs!
And we gave a nod to the local boys in red with the big yellow pumpkin.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

It's the Great Pumpkin!

It's the Saturday before Hallowe'en, and that means only one thing... getting pumpkins at a nearby pumpkin patch!

I made them look into the sun, that's why they're squintingA central Missouri pumpkin patch is very different from an Orange County pumpkin patch, which is likely to be a couple of hundred pumpkins trucked into the corner of a Trader Joes' parking lot & set up on some haphazardly arranged hay bales. Nope, here you get in the van & head down some dirt road to the farm that puts in an acre or three of pumpkins every year for just this purpose, and you are greeted by the very nice farmer's wife who gives you a little wheelbarrow & a pair of secateurs & wishes you happy pumpkin hunting, and then you head off into an honest-to-goodness Pumpkin Patch, trying not to trip over the dried & withered vines which cross the paths every which way.

This one, this one, that's the one I wantThis late in the year, most of the vegetation has pretty much died off, and a fair number of the pumpkins are past their prime as well, either mushy & rotting where they sit or else so full of squash-borer beetles that their surfaces are positively pock-marked. But there are still lots of sound pumpkins, and we hunt for good ones -- round, orange, and basketball-sized. Or at least two out of three. Ali finds a good one still on the vine, and has a little tussle with the secateurs before she can finally liberate it. Squash vine is tough, woody stuff, isn't it?

Oof, it's heavy, MomShe eventually gnaws her way through it with the clippers & carries her prize back to the wheelbarrow. She is getting so tall and so lovely, I don't know what to think sometimes. Of course, she has that whole slouchy teen attitude thing going on too, which she is perfecting today. "Mom, don't take my picture."

We're going pumpkin-hunting!Hunter, in the meantime, has rejected all the offerings in the immediate area and is searching far & wide over the whole patch for the perfect pumpkin. I have no idea what the heck he is doing here. It looks like he's trying to sneak up on a wily squash. "Be vewy, vewy quwiet...."

Hunter hefts his prizeHe finds one, eventually, that suits his requirements, which after all are only two: 1) It must be reasonably free of bugs and 2) it must be bigger than his sister's pumpkin. A little brother, of course, has some things upon which he can never compromise. Hunter's pumpkin has an interesting green speckling all around it, which leads me to suspect it's not the ripest pumpkin in the patch, but it'll be fine for carving.

The weigh-inFinally, when we get all our pumpkins selected (I choose a slightly lopsided but smooth yellow one for Mike, as well as a perfectly round green-and-orange one for myself), we go back up to the front where the very nice farmer weighs our purchases on an old-fashioned produce scale that looks at least twenty years older than I am. Would you believe we had 47 pounds of pumpkin between us?

Tomorrow, we carve.

Friday, October 28, 2005

TKGA swatches

Just for fun, I've enrolled in the Master Hand Knitters program offered by the Knitting Guild of America, and I'm currently knitting the Level 1 swatches. What am I saying? It's not a "just for fun" project, it's supposed to challenge me & stretch my abilities & all that. If I go all the way through to Level 3, it makes me a "master" knitter, which will look good for teaching-credential purposes at the hypothetical future yarn store.

Can't say it's been too technically demanding yet, but I'm only on swatch 5 (out of 15). I'm using Paton's Classic Merino & size 7 needles throughout. I plan to knit all the swatches in order, then go through the questions & essay portion of the test, then revisit the swatches & reknit where necessary. I'll keep you posted on my progress!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

First Frost

Taken at about 6 am, still dark outIndian summer is over and the lovely tree featured a few posts back is now bare. We woke this morning to a glittery frost covering the lawn & all, which killed off my last few late roses, but turned the street into a diamond-y fairyland for a few hours. It showed up best on Mike's dark-colored truck. Welcome winter!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Rites of Passage

Last night was a milestone chez Imperatrix -- Ali attended her first middle-school dance. There was apparently some dancing with boys involved, although I'm not allowed to ask too many questions. There was complaining that it was over too early (I thought eight o'clock was plenty late for a school night, but I'm only a mom, what do I know?) It was lots of fun, according to Miss I'm-A-Teenager-Now.

All right, what I want to know is, who hit the fast-forward button? It seems like just last week that she was toddling about & scattering Cheerios from her highchair. Actually, I'm glad that she's making friends at school & adjusting to the social life here -- last year was a big upheaval for her. But OK, stop growing up so fast already!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Ugg Scarf

This is Ali's fashion model poseBecause everyone needs a scarf to match the boots. This borrows heavily from Knitty's RockStar pattern, but is much ugg-lier.

1 ball Lion Suede Mocha (MC1)
1 ball Lion Suede Taupe (MC2)
1 ball Joann Sensations Icee White (CC)
Size 11 needles

Gauge isn't critical here, but you should be somewhere around 10 st = 4" in MC.

Cast on 16 st in CC. Work in garter stitch for 4 rows.
Begin color pattern:
Change to MC1, work in garter stitch for 18 rows (9 ridges).
Change back to CC, work in garter stitch for 4 rows.
Change to MC2, work in garter stitch for 18 rows (9 ridges).
Change back to CC, work in garter stitch for 4 rows.
Repeat this color pattern until you have 7 blocks of MC1 & 6 blocks of MC2, ending with CC. Bind off & weave in ends.

Bonus recipe for Taco Tuesday

Nano Salsa
Or, How to use up a bunch of veggies sitting on your counter

3 small green chili peppers
2 Roma tomatoes
2 small red bell peppers from neighbor's garden
1 small green bell pepper, ditto
1/2 large yellow onion
5 or 6 sprigs of cilantro
1 or 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (available in the Mexican food aisle at supermarkets) - Hot!
1 tablespoon lime juice
Salt & pepper to taste

Wash, seed & stem all the fresh veggies, and chop coarsely. Throw everything in the blender & process until desired consistency -- I like it still a little bit on the chunky side. Serve with chips!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Falling Leaves part II

I think that I shall never see...The fall foliage, I'm being told, is mediocre this year because of the drought. To my former-Californian eyes, it's spectacular. The oaks are mostly just going dull brown, but the maples are quite showy nonetheless.

There's a large tree on the property line between us & our neighbors on the east side, I have no idea what it is. It's a good 50 or 60 feet tall. It has gone a brilliant yellow that absolutely glows in the early-morning sun. (It is also dropping leaves all over lawn, which Hunter & I are raking up at the lower left.) Soon it will be bare, but right now it stops me cold everytime I walk out the front door with its beautiful color.

Learning to Knit

Note the tongue sticking out.  I am told I also do this while knitting a tricky bit.A new knitter is born!

Friday, October 14, 2005

Falling Leaves completed

Fallen arches?  NahFalling Leaves is a lovely lace pattern, yes indeedy. But don't use a busy colorway (like Sock It To Me's Cancun Fiesta) or it will overwhelm the lace.

I've decided I just don't like toe-up socks. I know knitters who rave about them, they are so easy, they love trying them on as they go, etc. But I want my heel flap. Is that so wrong? Socks fit me better with a heel flap & darn it, I'm just going to knit them that way from now on. (I suspect the heel-flap thing is because of the post-surgical shape of my foot. When they pinned my ankles into the non-pronating position, it did wonders for my arch & my heel pain & all that good stuff, but it just makes my ankles look like fat granny ankles. And I used to have such a pretty ankle too *sigh*. Anyway, the heel flap & gusset give it a bit of a snugger fit, avoiding the dreaded baggy-ankle look.)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

My sweet huz

Viking Patterns for KnittingLook what my wonderful husband gave me for a (slightly early) birthday present! A copy of Elsebeth Lavold's sumptuous book with more knotwork patterns than you can shake a stick at. It just warms the cockles of my little cable-happy heart. There's even a rune alphabet, all done in cable stitches. (Swedish runes, to be sure, not Elder Futhark; but that's OK since a lot of the symbols are similar anyhow.)

Thank you, honey, I love it! *mwwwahhh*

Work is Hell

For the last three days we've had major network issues at work. They tell us the gateway server went a little whacko, I dunno, all I know is that no one on campus could get out to the Internet and no one off campus could connect to any university webpage. The network was finally stabilized yesterday afternoon at quitting time... hopefully we will have a quiet day today, I think we deserve it.

Also, I've started a knitting group that meets Wednesday nights at the Student Union on the CMSU campus. Last night was our first meeting, and the response was a little underwhelming -- but both of us had a good time. We'll get more as word spreads.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Nano Peppers

I was growing some tomatoes and peppers in pots in the backyard, but the drought in July & August killed them off -- or so I thought. I happened to look at the pepper plant last Friday and behold! An actual pepper! Then I found two more this morning! Mike calls them my Nanopeppers. They may be tiny but I am proud of them & my drought-hardened pepper plant. We were going to have chicken Masala tonight, but that may change to fajitas now.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Headed for Winter

Winter's a-comin'The cool fall weather is making me realize that my wardrobe is in serious need of some winterization. The kids have some scarves & hats that were made for camping/ski trips & whatnot back in California, and Mike even had a few old things, but I didn't have any hats! Well, easily remedied. This is a k2p2 stocking cap knit up out of some leftover Patons Shetland Chunky (Blue Jeans colorway) on size 10 1/2 needles. Super simple, super quick. I still have enough for a matching scarf, too.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Red Mule Completed

Red alertTwo words: Super Bulky. Two stitches per inch. Cast on Friday, finish Sunday. Gotta love it!

This thing is, like, seriously WARM. Wearing it for half a minute to take a picture was enough to start overheating. Should be perfect for football games in the dead of winter!

In What City Do I Belong?

(Hint: The fact that I corrected the grammar of the quiz title should be a big old tipoff...)

You Belong in London

A little old fashioned, and a little modern.
A little traditional, and a little bit punk rock.
A unique woman like you needs a city that offers everything.
No wonder you and London will get along so well.

What City Do You Belong in? Take This Quiz :-)