Thursday, August 21, 2014

cooker karma

The younger boys and I haven't had too much adventure this summer. Secondo is usually working or at cross country practice, and any spare minute I get at home, I am frantically trying (and failing) to catch up with the backlog of work. A few days ago, I had some errands to run, so we decided to combine it with a few fun things as well.

First up: the thrift store. The adventure bar is set very low around here. We haven't been in ages, and we used to get there at least every other month. Secondo was on a work clothes mission, and I was trying to find supplies for my farm booth. My particular goal was a turkey roaster oven, the kind with the temperature control that works like a giant crock pot. My crock pot bit the dust just before Maryland, and it was way too small anyway. Too much work for too little result! I have one on loan from Robin but even that one was a little restricted. I needed to pull out the big guns.

Amazingly enough: this one was on the shelf, in excellent condition with every part present. It didn't appear that it had ever been used. The price was a problem though. $25 for a used one? I may as well buy one new! I walked away for a minute, to think about it, but started to second-guess myself almost immediately. I am forever penny-wise and pound-foolish. What I needed was on the shelf. Why not just buy it?

I walked back and started to pick it up, then heard an employee behind me.

"Looks like someone beat you to it."

I turned, and found him talking to an older woman next to him. She looked disappointed. "It's the price, you see. I was just asking someone if they could lower it a bit, because the one just broke at the group home where I work, and we don't have any stoves to cook on."

I know when I'm beat. Any wool that I would have tried to dye in that cooker would have immediately discolored and felted to boot. I handed it over, with a smile. Always good to be gracious in defeat.

The next morning, I took a quick look on Craigslist. Two older local listings popped up, one for $10 and one for $20. I e-mailed them both, to see if either was available. The $10 got back to me immediately and I made arrangements to pick it up later that day. Soon after, an e-mail came through from the owner of the $20 cooker. She was leaving town for three weeks, but if I could wait until her return, she would sell it to me for $15.

And that's how I ended up with two used cookers for the price of one. Cooker karma.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

cat obsession

Valentine is a funny little cat. She doesn't like to be held or cuddled too much, and she has very definite ideas about how much is too much. My husband and Secondo are her clear favorites and she seeks out, and tolerates, attention from them more than anyone else.

She is not too fond of the dog, especially because he has taken it upon himself to enforce the rules of the house as he perceives them, i.e., no scratching on the furniture and no cats on the table. She does love to bat at his tail as he goes by, which he pretends to ignore.

She is fascinated by but terrified of the rabbit. I will have to get a picture of them together sometime, with her seeking out contact but backing away from him at the same time. They got into a cage match in his digs in the basement a few weeks ago after she jumped in. We weren't sure at first who was the victor, but now we know: it was clearly Oreo.

She loves carrying around things in her mouth, especially things she brings up from the basement. Fleece, roving, my bras, socks... everything is fair game.

This represents a few of her favorite things, all together: wool cat toys, dryer balls, and the knee-highs I use to make them. She brings each of these things up on a regular basis. When I started production recently for the fiber festivals this fall? Her idea of nirvana, because now she could bring all three up at the same time if I leave them unattended. One night she was so persistent in bringing them up to our room that I had to go downstairs at 3 am to lock them all away in a tin where she couldn't get to them.

But her very, very favorite thing? Lamb jackets.

Unfortunately I have not been able to capture her on camera with one. She is pretending to ignore this one which she just deposited it in the middle of the room. Dusty would like to point out that he had nothing to do with it.

They are clean, at least according to our human standards, but they must have an irresistible lamby scent still about them because she finds them wherever I hide them and drags them upstairs. Her favorite maneuver is to bring them into our bed at 2 am, growling and mewling the entire time, and drop it on the pillow between us. I will admit that the first time she dropped a large, dark, fuzzy thing in the middle of our bed, I freaked out a little. I feel this was more than a little justified but my husband is still chuckling.

Edited to add: the minute I hit "publish" on this post, she meowed behind me, and I turned to find her dragging a lamb jacket into the middle of the room. I grabbed my iphone and hit the camera button, but it was too late... She was already claiming ignorance of how it got there.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

with help like this

Blocking has become a difficult business around here, ever since mid-February or so...

Pins tend not to stay where they were placed. I am lucky if the piece manages to dry before she gets to work.

She usually spits them out next to where she removes them, but not always. One or two are usually carried down the hall to be placed where they have the maximum likelihood of being stepped on.

Some pins are tougher to remove than others. I should be grateful for the help.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

road trip results

One thing road trips are good for, apart from spending quality time in your car cooped up with other annoyed people, is finishing long-marinating projects, especially if you have someone who drives while you knit. I am thrilled to report that my Follow Your Arrow shawl, that I started on January 13, is finally done!!  The last stitch was bound off on the way back from Cleveland, where the four-generation picture was taken. The ends were woven in and clipped early on Sunday, and I had the time to block it today.

Sorry for the less than artistic photo but it's pretty amazing I got it blocked tonight and I'm not going to ask too much more of my brain.

This one was a real booger due to my running out of yarn so close to the end of the last clue. I just realized that I never blogged about ripping out the entire border, because the striping solution I first tried didn't look quite right, and I knew that its half-assed-ness, plus a mistake I made when slipping the yarn (holding it in back instead of in front) would bug me the rest of my natural born days if I ever did manage to finish the shawl. Ripping it back allowed me to weigh the yarn, to discover that I had over 200 yards of brown yarn going into the final clue. It should have been enough. Oh well.

It was one of those projects that required the fortitude of angels because so much of that blasted knitted-on border had to be knit a second time, and I found it incredibly tedious the first time. Not sure why I didn't choose the other clue when I had it all ripped back, but my approach for each clue was to choose my anti-clue, i.e., the clue I normally would not have chosen, and certainly a clue that bored me so blind, I had to knit it twice, fit into that category. At least I am very happy with the solution of knitting the "fan" parts of the border in the other color, and best of all, this gave me enough brown yarn to finish this time. The rest of the shawl—I'm not sure. The jury is still out. Maybe I just need a little distance.

Monday, August 11, 2014

jiggety jog

We are back from a quick jaunt out to Ohio, though any trip that has to travel along the PA turnpike from end to end cannot possibly be described as quick. Or a jaunt, for that matter. That road takes all the jaunt out of a person.

We started off with a day at the Sweetest Place on Earth, Hershey Park. Yes, we live within throwing distance of another big amusement park, but Hershey has a special place in our hearts.

We had the added bonus of sharing it with some of our favorite people on earth. Rides are that much more fun with cousins, especially when you get to be the big guy. He won't hold my hand any more, but he happily did for his younger cousins who idolize him.

We have been there enough times that we didn't mind taking turns providing babysitting services instead of going on rides. About five minutes after this picture was taken, the baby decided that her fist wasn't doing the trick and proceeded to wail so loudly and determinedly for her mother that my husband nearly chased down a roller coaster car to hand her off.

After Hershey, off to Ohio to see my aunts and great-aunt and assorted cousins, since we were already part of the way there. We missed a few, but we managed to pack quite a lot of family visiting into two days, thanks mostly to my aunts who took us around.

Our visit happened to coincide with a rib fest right by our hotel, which made my older sons very, very happy.

This is my favorite picture from the trip: four generations in one shot. As an added bonus, I am the tallest person in the picture!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

in honor of world cat day

One does not simply fail to honor world cat day on one's blog if one has a cat to honor.

Friday, August 8, 2014

dog days of summer

The sheep agree that if it is anyone's fault, it is the dog's.

But the shade of a willow tree always helps.