Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tidings of Cashmere and Joy

Master of Deception

That's what some boarding school contemporaries called me this fall when we got together at an impromptu mini-reunion in Berkeley and we swapped stories of adolescent misbehavior. They'd had no idea I'd been up to such deviant things - but the only difference between me and them was that I never got caught.

I used that skill while putting together a Christmas gift for my husband. It was a stealth project all the way.

Purty, huh?
Jasmin (stealth-enabler of the highest degree) did the actual fiber purchase - it's cashmere roving from Crown Mountain and the exchange reminded me of a crack sale (or so I imagine - I misbehaved in high school but it never involved crack) - she slipped me the fiber only after I slipped her the cash - unmarked bills, dark of night, etc. She also taught me how to spin cashmere which isn't easy as it has a really short staple. Step one was to try spinning cotton - which really SUCKS. I did that for an hour at which point she switched me over to the cashmere and in comparison that was pretty easy.
For the next 5 weeks or so it was all lies, lies, lies. 'I'm going to knit night', 'The knitting's going slowly', 'I'm knitting at Jasmin's house' - well I really did go to the places I said I was, I was just hauling my wheel all over town and spinning instead (which is why the knitting was going slowly - I wasn't doing it). Fortunately my husband left for a week-long business trip in early December, which allowed me to finish the spinning before April '08.
To make a strong yarn, I cabled it - I made two strands of two-ply, then plied them together . Here's the finished yarn - about 300 yards of worsted-weight:

And a close-up:

It took me 6 weeks to spin the yarn and one day to knit this:

Just a simple knit one row, K1 P1 on the next. I ended up with about 6 feet of heavy, soft luxurious scarf.

Things I learned about cashmere:

1) People will try to steal it from you in any form - non-spinners will even attempt to walk off with roving, it's that soft and fabulous. Watch your cashmere at all times. And be very suspicious if one of your fellow knitters suddenly appears to have grown an extra boob.

2) Even the damn dog will try to steal your cashmere. When I finally sat down to knit, Riso hopped on the couch next to me, grabbed the cake of cashmere and set it between his paws. We had to have a little talk after that one. Apparently he likes the scarf too:

3) Even I try to steal the cashmere. Brian wore the scarf all day yesterday - but I did manage to lift it from him a few times to 'make sure it worked'. He had to ask for it back. So apparently I can't even be trusted.

You know what's really too bad? I have a little roving left over - I might be able to make myself a neck warmer or something. Poor me.

So the Christmas Deception was a success. I just hope he doesn't start worrying about how freakin' easy it was for me to hide something from him. (Nope, those aren't shallow graves in our back yard, they're gardens, I swear!)

Trouble apparently got all stressed out by the underhanded goings-on in our house:

I hope everyone had a nice Christmas or whatever it is you do/don't celebrate! Here's another one of my holiday traditions - Orange Hazelnut Biscotti. It's Brian's recipe but lately I've been the one doing the baking. Some of them will get a little chocolate coating as soon as I can make it back into the kitchen.

Brian made those for dessert when he had me over to his house on our first date. I had just started chemotherapy, and he sent me home with some extras, telling me that they had healing powers. Four healthy years later, I do believe he was right about that.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A New Christmas Tradition

I found this on Norma's blog. I may of Jewish heritage but I'm totally making this my new Christmas tradition:

Tequila Christmas Cake


1 cup of water
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup of brown sugar
Lemon juice
4 large eggs
1 bottle tequila
2 cups of dried fruit

Sample the tequila to check quality. Take a large bowl, check the tequila again. To be sure it is of the highest quality, pour one level cup and drink. Repeat.

Turn on the electric mixer. Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add one teaspoon of sugar. Beat again.

At this point it's best to make sure the tequila is still OK.

Try another cup... just in case. Turn off the mixerer thingy. Break 2 leggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit.

Pick the fruit up off floor. Mix on the turner. If the fried druit gets stuck in the beaterers just pry it loose with a drewscriver.

Sample the lequita to check for tonsisticity. Next, sift two cups of salt. Or something. Check the tequila.

Now shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts. Add one table. Add a spoon of sugar, or somefink. Whatever you can find. Greash the oven. Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over.

Don't forget to beat off the turner. Finally, throw the bowl through the window. Finish the tequila and wipe counter with the cat.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Ho Bag and Schwag Hag

There's been plenty of blog fodder recently (probably interesting only if you're a knitter and either read the same blogs or hang out with the same people I do). But there hasn't really been much time to actually blog about it. I don't have a lot of time now but I'll give it a shot - drive-by-blogging:

Ho Bag

Last weekend I spent the day with TMOTPS (The Minions of the Pointy Sticks) celebrating the holidays at Jasmin's (otherwise knows as TPD - Tiny Persian Dictator) house. 'Twas tons of fun. There was a gift exchange, lots of good food, Christmas stockings and a lot of goofing around. Gigi made these for everyone's stocking - look! A Ho Bag!

Atop the Ho Bag are/is? Fetching - slightly modified - for a co-worker as my Secret Santa gift to her. I made them in about 2 days and that includes some frogging when I decided to get rid of the picot edging and cabling at the top and just go with the 4x1 rib. They're made of Cashmerino left over from my first knitting project ever. Yay for stashbusting! I'm going to make myself a pair too - you don't need much in the way of warm clothing around here, but these are perfect for those raw, rainy days that make up winter in the South Bay. It's a nice pattern and a super-quick knit.

Schwag Hag

I got an IM from Jasmin the other day "Dude! You're on Schwag!". OMG I am! Franklin made some more 1000 Knitters goodies and I'm on the bag. Not half-in-the-bag (shut.up.), on the bag. Bottom row, next to the last picture on the right. I'd seen the shot but didn't recognize myself. I commented that I'd like to think my picture was chosen thanks to my sparkling conversation and witty repartee while chatting with Franklin, but no such luck. But I'm glad the random number generator liked #247. As soon as I pick up some Christmas cash, I'm going to place an order.

More fibery fun:

A couple of weeks ago I went to Margit's house for a spin-in. Cindy was there, working on her first wheel-spun yarn ever. Isn't it nice??!!

I think it's BFL but I'm not sure - Cindy, correct me if I'm wrong, will you?

We all celebrated the occasion.

Some people get tipsy from sparkling wine. Apparently I just grow branches with birds on them out of my head.

Thursday, I went to Purlescence to help celebrate the impending arrival of Baby Boo, Nathania and Kevin's little girl, to be born in the very near future. I can't decide if I'm more amazed at the wonderful and thoughtful gifts Miss Boo received or at the large number of wonderful and thoughtful friends that Nathania and Kevin have! It was a really nice time and I was happy to be part of it.

Nothing else to report - but I did want to put in one last picture - my last post I blogged about a roasted vegetable recipe, but I only showed the dish pre-cooking. Here it is completed.

Yum again.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Really Random Wednesday

First - Happy Chanukah to those of you who celebrate!

I'm suffering from a severe case of Startitis:

Miminalist Cardigan (Fall IK) - I'm actually farther along than this.

Mr. Greenjeans from the fall Knitty. I'm using Malabrigo in Stonechat. I've had this in my stash for nearly a year - what was I waiting for? It's FABulous!

The beginnings of Twist by Bonne Marie Burns. I joined the Purlescence Twist Knit Along. I'm doing this in Paragon from The Yarn Place. It's a heathered 100% wool - it's much prettier knit up than in the skein - and it doesn't look too shabby in the skein either.

This is the Zig Zag Lace Shrug by Ava Coleman - I'm making it for this LYS - with beads. What. Did I not have enough to do? Oy.

Heading Toward the Random:

Isn't it nice how my animals leave so much room on the couch for me?

Easy dinner: squash, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, garlic cloves. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast. Yum.

Ok, that's it. I've got some knitting to do. Hopefully on something I've already started.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Bark Like a Dog!

Remember my alpaca roving?

Perhaps not, but there it is. Anyway, I've sporadically been working on this:

Last night, I turned it into this:

This is 3 1/2-4 oz. of 3-ply (about 185 yards), and a little under half of the roving I have in that color. I'm pretty pleased with it.

Alpaca is so easy to spin! And it's soft. And fuzzy. And not super-expensive either.

My best friend raises alpaca in Vermont - I got the roving from her. I'm insanely envious and want some alpaca of my own. But I live in suburbia and while they won't let us have 'livestock' here, no one seems to care if you have a dog that barks constantly. So. Do you think I could train a couple of alpaca to bark and sneak 'em into the back yard?