Monday, August 27, 2007

ER and another Booga

I'd just as soon not have another weekend like the one just past, thanks. Mike, who has been having a few recurring episodes of stomach pain (he saw the doctor about it last week; she diagnosed a possible ulcer & put him on Pepcid AC pending further tests), had the worst episode to date -- he was having such severe pain that we wound up going to the emergency room at 2 AM. They admitted him for a couple of days while they ran tests to figure out what the heck was wrong. Turns out it was his gallbladder, which will no doubt be coming out very soon after he meets with the specialist. In the meantime, the poor guy is home & back to normal, but he's afraid to eat more than a couple of bites for fear of triggering another attack. This, not surprisingly, has turned him into El Grumpo.

Spiral BoogaAll I can say is, thank the gods for the knitting bag by the door. I had the presence of mind to grab it on the way out, which kept me sane during the hours of cooling my heels in the ER waiting room, not to mention the hours of bedside visits once they moved him to a room. I had just cast on for a new Booga-ish bag when this all happened... this one is a little different, though, it has thin stripes from four leftover skeins (two browns, a grey, and a yellow), with a square bottom cribbed from the French Market bag. Much more subtle colors than my California Booga. Also, I just learned a really, really cool way to do single-row stripes in the round like this without carrying up the side! It's in the current issue of Cast On, the magazine of TKGA. Here's how you do it:

1. Divide your total # of stitches by the number of colors you want. Call it n. (Round up to a whole number if you have to, it doesn't have to be perfectly even.) Place a stitch marker every n stitches.

2. Knit your cuffs, or base, or whatever. I knit the bag base in a solid color and then started striping when I reached the sides.

3. On round 1 of stripes, knit to the first marker with color 1, change colors, knit to the second marker with color 2, change colors, and so forth until you knit to the last marker with color last.

4. To start round 2, you will begin knitting with the color you have in hand, which is color last. Knit to the next marker. When you reach it, drop the current yarn and pick up the one that was left hanging, and begin knitting with that color.

5. Continue in this way until you reach the desired length -- every time you reach a marker that has a hanging color, switch colors. The only marker that won't have a hanger is your end-of-round marker. Watch your tension on the color changes! It can sometimes get a little wonky. But there's no carried yarn & no ends to weave. Just stripey goodness.

Anyway, here's my striped pseudo-Booga about three quarters of the way through. The leftovers, in case you are curious, are from Mike's vest (dark brown), a Ravenclaw (grey), and a pre-blog Dr. Who (camel & yellow). Should look nice & subtle once it's felted.

Monday, August 20, 2007

A setback on Angelina

Sadly, I frogged it. About three skeins in, it was so huge that I realized that I had overestimated once more (why do I always do that?!?) and was on the way to making a ridiculously sloppy-large sweater. And Angelina is all about the fit, so that wouldn't do.

So, I've started it over, several sizes smaller. The one good thing -- I was starting to wonder if I had enough yarn in stash, or if I'd have to buy a few more skeins and hope it was close enough to do that crazy two-rows-from-each-dye-lot trick to blend it in on the cuffs. Now, with a lot fewer stitches, I don't think I'll be anywhere near running short. :-)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A recipe for sunflower seeds

1. Plant a bunch of sunflower seeds in a sunny spot (south-facing is good.) Water them when it gets really dry, but otherwise ignore them through the growing season. Yes, they are that easy to grow.

2. When the heads get droopy, lose their petals, and turn yellow on the back, cut them off about 10" or so below the flower and hang them up to dry. An screened porch is perfect for this, so the birds don't get at them.

3. When they're mostly dry, remove the seeds from the heads -- rubbing your thumbs around the edges works well.

4. Brine the seeds by putting them in a big pot with water (to cover, although they will float like crazy) and salt (1/2 cup per gallon or so). Bring to a near-boil, then lower the flame and simmer for two hours. Stir the seeds frequently to get the floaters down into the brine.

5. Drain, but don't rinse the seeds, and spread them out shallowly on cookie sheets. Roast in a slow (250°F) over for a couple of hours, or until they are lightly browned. Keep an eye on them, they could burn!


Friday, August 17, 2007

Heard It Through the Grapevine

I love me some, even though I am trying to consume less these days & not buy every book that catches my fancy when there is a perfectly good library right here in town and all that. I also like to write (and read) consumer reviews -- they help me a lot when I'm shopping, and I feel like it's only fair to return the favor -- although lately I've been writing my reviews on All Consuming instead of Amazon, I don't know why. It could be because I am lazy and it's easy to just click the link in the right-hand column of this very blog rather than perform actual web navigation.

Anyway, Amazon's latest brainstorm is a program called Amazon Vine -- a group of reviewers (by invitation only, thankyouverymuch) who are eligible to receive advance copies of products (mostly books, but also some CDs & DVDs & whatever else they want to throw out there), and who will hopefully review them and generate some buzz for the publishers. Like a grapevine, get it? And who would have figured that I would get an invitation? I had no idea I was a top reviewer. I just like to treat everyone to my wisdom. ;-)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Booga complete

Booga oogaDone & felted! Isn't it cute? It's a bit wildly colored for a forty-something mom, but perfect for a teenager... so Ali glommed on to it. That makes two out of the last two projects that she liked way better than I did. No way she's getting my Angelina, though.