Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Oh look!

Four years ago I went to Stitches South and I'm ashamed to say that I've only knit one project (February Lady Cardigan) from all the yarn I purchased on that trip. That's about to change.

The Rainbow Cardigan by Ruth Sorenson knit with Kauni yarn has been on my mind since I first saw it on the Yarn Harlot's blog. It's totally magical!

Could I love this sweater any more? No! But I'm going to use a different pattern....and different colors, which makes perfect sense if you're a knitter. So, rather than have a geometric stripe/square thing going on, I'm going to go with a thistle-like pattern.

In this yarn....that I purchased four long years ago.

The colors change from purple to ochre to green to pink. I think the damask/tapestry pattern (originally from Dale of Norway) will be tremendous in this colorway. So I've been planning. While the sweater looks vastly complicated with a bazillion color changes, it's only two strands yarn started at different points in the skein. Now I just need to figure out what colors to start with. I'm not a very mathy person (I'm a victim of the "new math" experiment of the 1970s) so I have no idea how to even begin to calculate where the color changes will occur, and, most importantly, what color combination will be at boob level. Hence my hesitation.

I'm also a bit muddled about the needles. I'm a straight needle kind of gal. Always have been. This sweater is knit in the round and will require the use of circular needles. Ack! I guess I could knit it on super long DPNs, or knitting pins as the Brits call them, but there's an element of horror in that thought as well. So I'll go with circs, but in what material? Nickel plated? Acrylic? Laminated birch? Then add the whole metric thing. The pattern calculations are in pesky centimeters and to be honest, my measurement numbers are getting a little too big for comfort.

All that said, I did start a tiny swatch and I LOVE the yarn. It's wool. It's simple. It's elegant. Some may find it a bit scratchy, but I think it's completely lovely. Stay tuned. I'll try to blog about it regularly, because it's a good excuse to get out of doing house work.

Now, I just have to focus and not get distracted. Oh look! Lacy Baktus!

Size three needles, in Lana Grossa Lace Lux, about 60% complete. Stay tuned. I'll try to blog about it regularly because it's a good excuse to get out doing yard work.

Now I just have to focus and not get distracted. Oh look!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

About stitches...and ticks

Remember back in the day when we all poured baby oil on our skin and laid in the sun for hours...making sure to turn on a regular basis so as to brown evenly? We were like pieces of meat roasting on spits. We were cooking ourselves and permanently damaging damaging skin cells. Gross.

On Monday I paid for that youthful vanity when I had an “atypical” mole carved out of my back. A mole that was the result of all that roasting in the sun. It wasn't melanoma or cancerous, just a spot that would be better if it was gone rather than forget about it and run the risk of it changing into something that could kill me later in life.

This started a couple months ago when, after being referred by my doctor, I made an appointment with a dermatologist to have a couple annoying skin tags removed. Having never been to a dermatologist I didn't know what to expect. I planned on walking in, having a couple tags removed, getting a couple bandaids, and walking out. If it were only that simple…and if it were only that simple, there’d be no point in me discussing it here.

Appointment day. The nurse practitioner called me to the exam room and had me hop up on the table. I showed her the offending tags. Simple. Easy to remove.  

Then she asked me if I wanted a full body screening. 

Um. No. Not really. She asked if I had ever had a full body screening. Um. No? Not really?? I don’t think I’ve mentioned The Tick Encounter yet. I need to go back a couple years...as painful as it is.

The tick encounter. Once upon a time Randy and I went exploring around Center Hill Lake checking out campsites and other potential fun things to do. When we got home that evening I got into the shower and noticed a seed tick on my arm. (Just typing this makes my skin crawl.) I picked it off…and then I noticed another, and another, and HUNDREDS of them. My hysteria was instant and complete. For the sake of my sanity, I have repressed most of the memory, but I believe that was one of my lowest, most humiliating moments. Me. Naked. Totally freaked out. Brightly lit kitchen. Randy. A magnifying glass. Tweezers.

It was worse than awful. At some point during our adventure I had walked right through a nest of ticks. I was wearing jeans so the little bastards went undetected for several hours. My right side was covered with them…from my ankle to my elbow and EVERYwhere in between. Ok, maybe not “COVERED” but way more than 50, and I had ticks where a lady doesn't want ticks! I was too close to a total “just take me to the ER” breakdown to count each pinch of the tweezers. I've had better moments...not sure if I've had worse. I loath ticks.

Back to the appointment…the nurse explained that a full body screening would be a good idea because I’m fair skinned, had never had one before, and we might as well do it since I was already in the office, paid my copay and all that. Might as well. After all, I had just paid $45 and I do like to stretch a dollar. She told me to take off all my clothes, including my bra, but leave my underwear on, then left me in privacy to undress. Oh. Hell. Green cotton underwear and legs that hadn't seen a razor in more than a week (probably longer). It was too late to call her back and tell her I had changed my mind so I kept my green big girl panties on and sucked it up. Why do I even have green underwear? (I don't anymore, I threw them away.)

She walked back into the room and pulled a magnifying glass out of the drawer. That's when The Tick Encounter night came screaming back at me. No no NO! We don't do magnifying glasses. There are just some things that don't look good any bigger than they actually are in real life. But wait! She's got a flashlight. Humiliation complete.

I stood in the middle of the exam room while she scrutinized every inch of my skin. Good times. At least she wasn't picking ticks off me. But as she was "screening" she used Sharpie marker to circle and label questionable spots. My back looked like a treasure map. Including the "elective" tags I wanted removed, there were seven areas that needed to be checked and sent to the lab for closer inspection (like she wasn't close enough).

In order to send the spots to the lab they needed to be removed from my body. In order for them to be removed from my body those seven areas needed to be numbed. She inserted a tiny little needle in the spot on my arm and my breathing stopped. HOLY MOTHER OF PEARL! 
I thought she was going to numb the areas before the procedure! It felt like she had inserted a hot jagged match that had been dipped in sulphuric acid under my skin. She warned me to keep breathing or I'd pass out. Really? How does one breathe through that? The beauty of the situation is that I had 6 more injections to go. Someone needs to invent something to numb the area before numbing the area. She assured me the injection hurts less than removing the spot without anethesia...I seriously doubt it. The spots were removed and sent for biopsy. Only one ended up being "atypical", hence the appointment on Monday.

The mole is now gone and in its place are a couple layers of stitches. The inside layer will dissolve (Yep. Dissolve. Gross.) The exposed stitches, which will be removed in two weeks, look like I squished a giant spider with my back. The doctor is obviously not a fan of piecework. The area to be stitched up was pretty much a circular hole so she really didn't have a lot of stitch options, but seriously....she used ugly black thread and zigzaged a puckered, spidery-shaped looking pattern over the hole. It's going to look like I have a sphincter scar on my back! If I could reach it I'd be doing some mending and repairing. Maybe verigated silk thread in a cool decorative pinwheel embroidery stitch, a few seed beads, some funky knots...


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Berry good

Blackberry preserves!

I have quite a few cookbooks but no "blackberry preserves" or "blackberry jam" recipes. I found "canned blackberries" and "blackberry cobbler", but wanted plain old blackberry jam. Is that the same as canned blackberries? Not so sure. So I turned to the internet. The first recipe to pop up on the list was from Paula Dean. She's been in the news a lot lately (until all this recent unpleasantness in Florida), so why not give her a recipe a try? I don't discriminate when it comes to recipes and, truth be told, her recipe was the simplest one I could find. Four ingredients. Simple is good.

I started with just a little over 6 cups of berries that Randy picked the day before. (I know! A man picking berries?? Almost as hot as a man ironing clothes.) The recipe called for 5 cups, but I figured the extra cup wouldn't hurt. More berries, more better!

I boiled the jars and the rings...(the lids were in a separate pan)...

Mixed the berries, sugar, lemon juice and pectin...

Filled the jars and put them a water bath...

Every single one of them popped!

So the extra cup or so of berries might have prevented the jam from setting, but it still tastes great--if I do say so myself. I'll put this batch up against the preserves at the Loveless Motel and Cafe any day! 

The whole process took just a little over an hour (not counting the picking). There's something satisfying about "putting up" canned goods. Just give me a sheep and a berry patch. If there's ever a natural disaster I'll keep my family in sweaters and preserves. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

About Commuting

Today's topic: why is it that drivers think it's OK to cut in front of other cars in heavy traffic? I'm not talking about signalling, checking mirrors, and then merging. I'm talking about Church Street, which has two lanes. The left lane is for traffic going straight (down Church St) and the right lane is a "turn only" lane onto 8th (or is it Rosa Parks or Franklin Rd or Metrocenter Blvd?...but the Nashville street name rant must be saved for a different day.) This is a common occurrence. On heavy traffic days the left lane could be backed up for a couple blocks while the right lane is wide open. Not so many people want to turn right. I get that. But it amazes me that certain drivers think they are more important than the rest of us and zoom down the right lane and cut into the left lane in front of the rest of us who have been patiently and politely waiting. Who do these people think they are? Let's look at it a little differently...let's say there's a line at the check-out at the grocery store. Would that person blatantly cut in line in front of the rest of us who have been waiting? Some may argue, but it's the SAME. DAMN. THING.

So, on my drive in this morning, I saw the Karaoke Kab. Could this be the future of commuting? Think of the fun! Much better than belting out a tune while listening to the radio. I wonder if the "Kab" has speakers that play the music outside of the vehicle also? The potential!!! The next time I need a cab, I'm doing this and I promise I'll take video!

Friday's playlist:
  • Everybody's working for the weekend
  • Living on a prayer (or maybe I should save that for Monday?)
  • Hit me with your best shot
  • We're not going to take it
  • Ain't nothing but a good time

Monday, July 1, 2013

Scratch and sniff

No rants, no knitting, no stories, just a batch of pretty!

When I left for work this morning all these flowers were buds. What a great surprise when I got home!

Between the lilies and the magnolia blossoms, my yard smells pretty darn flowery!