Knitting, spinning, pets, food and other thoughts


I’m reading …

and really enjoying An Irish Country Christmas by Patrick Taylor. I’m having to read it in bits and pieces here and there, though I’d love to sit down and just read it right through. There was a scene early in the story where the cat, Lady MacBeth, knocked over a pitcher of milk, then jumped up to the top of the drapes – the mayhem that ensued when she came down gave new meaning to ROFL – I had tears in my eyes, I was laughing so hard. Then another, where the doctor’s black lab (Arthur Guiness) ran out on the rugby field during a game and made off with the ball … I love the characters (and some of them are really characters!), and plan to find the previous 2 books as soon as I can.

I’m nearly done with the green Trekking socks, and have a serious yen to start something else for trip and visiting knitting, but I’m not sure there’s anything suitable in the stash – gee, I wonder if I can fit in a little stash enhancement on Saturday? I’ve been seeing several yarns that looked really good …

Yu Shiang (yuxiang) Eggplant

Yu Shiang (yuxiang) Eggplant

Last Saturday, we had lunch in Kirkwood (St. Louis County) at a little place we like called Steak & Rice. We shared an order of potstickers, then Himself had Duck with 8 Precious (shrimp, krab and a bunch of other ingredients) and I had Yu Shiang Eggplant with Pork – it’s so good, I hardly ever get anything else there. I would really love to figure out what’s in the sauce, because that’s what pulls the whole dish together. I’ve found a recipe in Mrs. Chiang’s Szechwan Cookbook by Ellen Schrecker (Β©1976; a gift from a friend years ago) that sounds like it could be in the right neighborhood, but I suppose some research may be necessary πŸ˜‰

As an antidote to the really icky weather outside, here are a couple more orchid pictures. I’m so glad it decided to bloom now, instead of while we’re gone to Kansas City over Christmas!

blooms are about 1" across

Mini Cattleya: blooms are about 1" across



I think it might be winter!

It was 12F when I got up this morning, and only got up to 16F this afternoon. Not so cold, I’m sure, for those of you farther north, but pretty chilly for southeast Missouri in December. We got some ice overnight, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as originally predicted, for which we’re thankful. It was, however, slicker than it looked. I found myself very suddenly flat on my back in the middle of the driveway – no damage as far as I can tell, but certainly an unwelcome surprise! The birds have been emptying the feeders pretty fast, so it’s a good thing we got another bag of sunflower seed the other day.

On Ravelry, I recently mentioned drafting the Border Leicester fleece I’ve been spinning, and had a questionΒ  about it, so I’ve added a page with a short video clip of the process, if it’s helpful to anyone.

There were some nice goodies in the mailbox today. My order from Nancy Bush at Wooly West came –Β  I got her Knitted Lace of Estonia, plus a pair of 2-size sock blockers (these are 9.5 and 10″ – a different size on each end) and a really cute sock blocker needle gauge (~3ΒΎ” overall) that I simply couldn’t resist.

sockblockers sockgauge

After I brought the house plants in from their summer outside, I noticed bud stalks on 2 Mini Cattleya plants. They spend the winter under lights in the basement, but one of the buds was open today πŸ™‚ (Note: The flowers on this measure a maximum of 1″ across – we’re talking seriously mini here!)


Thanksgiving Week

I very much enjoyed reading Ireland by Frank Delaney! It’s a big book (556 pgs), but I found it hard to put down. He has a 2nd Irish novel out, which I’ll look for, and a 3rd coming next year. From the dust jacket:

Ireland travels through the centuries, interweaving Ronan’s quest for the Storyteller with a richly evocative unfolding of the great moments in Irish history, ranging from the savage grip of the Ice Age to the green and troubled land of tourist brochures and political unrest.

The first Trekking sock is nearly a sock – just another decrease round, and the toe will be ready to be grafted. The UPS truck dropped off yarn for another deadline project today, so the 2nd sock may not go as quickly as the first.

Trekking XXL #175

Trekking XXL #175

More progress in the Construction Zone, including waterproofing on the outside of the walls. It’s coming along, and plans are to work every day this week except Thursday, with the ever-present qualifier “weather permitting.” Some of it has had to be worked out on the fly, due to some of the unique construction features



of the existing house.

Wednesday evening, we’re expecting one of our daughters & her family, so we’ll have 2 adults, 3 kids and 2 standard poodles added to the mix. Given that most of our “yard” currently looks like the photo, it’s going to be interesting, to say the least πŸ˜‰

The Saturday evening sky was pretty – with the traffic and lights, it was a little different from my usual view. It was chilly, so we got our frozen custard and sat in the car to eat it.

Saturday evening sky from Ted Drewes

Saturday evening sky from Ted Drewes


Cookies again!

I found this cookie recipe on the Bakers’ Banter blog from King Arthur Flour. I need more recipes almost as much as many of us need more yarn, but these were very tasty, even if Himself thought they’d have been better with just chocolate chips and “none of that chewy stuff” (approximately equal parts of chocolate chips, pecans and dried cranberries). I thought they were just right πŸ™‚

I was looking for a listing of books in a series and found this site – it says it has bibliographies for over 15,000 authors, and a very long list of books (over 700) that are “coming soon.” It’s certainly one of those web sites where I could spend a whole lot of time!

There’s been progress in the Construction Zone! When we had to leave for an appointment* today, there were 3 (!) concrete trucks already here, and we met a 4th truck coming in off the highway at the bottom of the hill. The basement walls are all poured, and they’re supposed to take the forms off tomorrow. Now if we can just avoid having the water freeze up again overnight, like it did last night – yes, cold weather is definitely here.

*Hopefully the last of the after cataract surgery appointments. I’ve never seen the waiting room that full – I knitted an entire heel flap on the latest Trekking sock, and almost finished turning the heel while I waited, it took that long. I was very glad I had something I could do even with the eye drops!


Yarn Doodling Again

I was flipping through one of the Japanese knitting books I got from Needle Arts Book Shop back in February, looking for design ideas, and found a basketweave pattern I wanted to swatch:

Side A

Swatch: Side A

When I flipped it over, I found that the other side is just as nice. I love patterns with 2 good sides, sort of a 2-for-1!

Side B

Swatch: Side B

Hope everyone is safe and had a good weekend!

Monday evening sky

Monday evening sky


A wild pile of knitting needles …

I’ve been very lax lately about putting my knitting needles away when completing projects – well actually, I’ve just been stuffing them into a plastic bag.
needle-bag.jpg When I emptied the bag, it turned into this, needle-pile.jpg
so I think I’d better do a little housekeeping πŸ˜‰

My copy of SpinOff came today! What a visual feast – lots of yummy fiber (*No, the spinning stash doesn’t need more fiber either; keep repeating from * …), and plenty of interesting articles, including an article about Cormo sheep and a really cute baby jacket, both by Margaret Heathman of Margaret’s Yarns. She wrote a neat little book, Knitting Languages, published in 1996, which is really handy for knitting terms in languages other than English. She’s currently working on a second book of knitted snowflakes, which looks very interesting.

I feel like Toby’s been neglected here, but he’s really developed an aversion to the camera – every time he hears the little whirring noise it makes when it’s turned on and the lens extends, he takes off for anywhere else. It may be the flash, but he really doesn’t like that thing! I would love to get a photo one of the times when Maggie just walks up and starts grooming him, but for now, here’s this: toby-maggie_a.jpg Of course you know that’s supposed to be a dog bed, but try telling that to Maggie!


Be careful what you wish for …

you might get it! When we adopted the 2 resident felines from the vet’s office in 2004 (I didn’t realize it had been that long!), I was hoping for at least 1 occasional lapcat. It’s been a long wait. Last night, when I had planned to work on finishing a Cotton Fleece vest that’s been sitting around for a while, as is often the way with those best-laid plans, Maggie (grey cat) had other ideas.

Instead of her usual fast track from the arm of the sofa, across my lap and over to the middle cushion, she stepped onto the pile of knitting in my lap … circled and stayed for 2 hours, all through Numb3rs, the 10 o’clock news and beyond, until I finally got desperate, managed to slide out and set her down on the warm spot where I’d been sitting. She was still there when I went to bed not long after that.


So I switched from finishing to working on the 2nd sleeve of the current sweater (yay, progress – 1 sweater almost down, 1 sweater to go), which worked as long as I put the yarn out of her way, then rather awkwardly looking at a couple of new knitting books.

Ah yes, the new books! I ordered 3 Japanese knitting books from Needle Arts Book Shop, 2 stitch pattern books and New Style of Heirloom Knitting. The books came quickly, and Marsha definitely goes the extra mile – the books were wrapped and tied with colorful ribbon (which Amber almost swiped) and she added stitch markers, bookplates and a packet of helpful information, Interpreting Japanese Knitting Patterns.

Meanwhile, the vest finishing is still waiting.

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Inside looking out …

It looks pretty nice outside right now, but it’s deceptive, as the wind is definitely strong and chilly. A snow squall moved across the St. Louis area this morning, causing whiteout conditions for 10-15 minutes, but it stayed north of us. I still need to go out after a while and fill the bird feeders as they’ve gotten empty again – I can see the chickadees and nuthatches working at picking out the last few seeds. The suet feeder is the only one that doesn’t need filling.

The knitting is coming along – the back of the first sweater is done, and the front is almost to the neck <guess it’s time to figure out the numbers for that and for the sleeves>, and hopefully the yarn for the other sweater will come soon. Of course the little silk number and the 2nd sock are languishing in their respective bags while I work on deadline projects …

I’ve just put black beans on to cook – eventually they’ll be Cuban Black Bean Soup. When PBS started airing Daisy Cooks!, I discovered a whole new-to-me cuisine that I just love. I ordered her cookbook, added more ingredients to the pantry, and several of Daisy’s recipes have become menu staples around here, including her Stuffed Peppers (with slight modifications). Unfortunately someone else in the household isn’t quite as fond of those as I am, so I need to cut back just a bit on the frequency <g>.

Stuffed Peppers ala Daisy