Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Wow, its hard to fall back into whatever routine we had before our epic vacation. We've all been sort of honeymooning--so happy together... I wonder, how many pop lyrics do you think I can embed in this post?

Kitchen Help
For Christmas Haley received Betty Crocker's Junior Cookbook. I must admit I haven't really helped her put it to much use because its actually easier to just cook things myself than exercise all the patience and teaching skills it takes to lead her through... oy. But I've finally decided I have to do it; I owe it to my future grandchildren and to my grandmother and Mom... Tonight Haley set the menu: Chicken fingers, Ranch Vegetables, Pasta Flea Flicker Salad and "Fruit Vines" for dessert. I knew it was way ambitious to think she could do all of it. First, I don't trust her with a kitchen knife yet so all the prep was mine. Second---she is slllllooooowwwww. So while I think her main contributions were heating the oven, battering the chicken and melting the chocolate in the microwave, we did at least talk about all the steps together and prepare the shopping list ---when it wasn't really frustrating it was totally sweet. And she is very proud of herself. The chicken fingers were some of the best ever (breaded with bread crumbs, cheezits after a nice buttermilk wash...mmmm.) and baked which is so much easier for a kid to manage than frying....

Oh, I love to knit, did you know that? I'm *this* close to being finished with the second Meida's Anklet (Estonian cables, baby!). On the first day I was on my own after the vacation party left, I stopped into Woolwinders to pick up a skein of yarn and to see if I could get my hands on a full copy of the pattern I was using for my Vogue lace/cable shell in DB Cathay---very happy I was to find it ---so as soon as this socky is finished, its back to the shell. My socks are so beautiful, I'm reluctant to post a photo for fear you all will come over here and try to swipe them; I'll have to give it more consideration, see how I feel about your trustworthiness tomorrow. For now, I'll just share this photo of another knitter's efforts on the same pattern. Tsk, tsk; these socks scream for white yarn...

Align Center
I love the texture of the heel flap; not the usual
stockinette but I forget what its called. Honeycomb, I
think. I think I'll use it as a matter of routine.
In case you're a knit-geek, too, note that I dislike the way the toe was designed in these socks so I used Charlene Schurches gradual toe-shape decrease and grafted the toe rather than the "rosebud" they called for (bleh). Additionally, I think for these to be truly "anklets" they need to be shorter so next time I'll probably only do 3 pattern repeats (rather than 7) before working the heel flap. Doing so will reduce the yardage requirements down to just one of the Cascade Venezia hanks ($13.99).

So while in Tampa, I checked out one of the local yarn shops. A lovely place it was, Knit and Knibble in Palma Ceia. Like my own local haunt, its set up to be a place where knitters/crocheters might come not only to shop but also to hang and knit, chat about stuff, get help. While I love my own Woolwinders shop best, Knit and Knibble had a few things to offer that Woolwinders does not, owing mostly to available space. First, they have three computers set up that patrons can use to browse the internet for patterns, etc. I think they also have licenses for each of those machines to run Sweater Wizard so that either solo or with support of shop staff, patrons can adjust patterns to their own requirements. Second, they have also a public-use equipment station---so anyone can come in and use their swift, ballwinder, fringe-maker, bobble thingy, etc. They had lots of gadgets for use that many casual knitters might not wish to invest in. Their store space was large enough to accomodate the usual knit-shop table in addition to two large couches and a couple of overstuffed chairs. Finally, they have a very large kitchen in rear where patrons are encouraged to fix themselves a beverage and where the staff bakes goodies from time to time. It makes for a very very homey environment, warm and inviting. Their stock was amazing, too. Mostly the basics but by different manufacturers than i see around here. I got to see my first Malabrigo---a gorgeous hand-dyed and handspun wool that reminds me very much of Manos del Uruguay and --gasp--a very large selection of sock yarns from the usual self-patterning wool blends to the most amazing supermerinos. I walked away with these as my official souveneir of the vacation:

Sock yarn: two colorways of Jitterbug hand-dyed Welsh merino. You can't imagine the richness of color. I allowed myself to buy two; each should make one pair of adult socks and I promised that I would make a gift of one. But I promised only myself so I might be able to re-negotiate....

I picked up a set of Size 2 Brittany 5-inch double pointed needles after having snapped one of my Lantern Moon sox stix. I'm really annoyed; I love the Lantern Moons and I'm willing to pay the 22 bucks per pair but not if they're going to snap all the damn time; that made about 4 that have snapped on me. The Brittanys feel sturdy and smooth and they were only 7 bucks.

Patterns---although I love the sock patterns I use day in and day out (Nancy Bush and Charlene Schurch), I've always been curious about Mountain Colors patterns so I picked up a couple of very beautiful ones. My personal dilemma is that I tend to fall in love with variegated yarns and with textured patterns but I think the wise knitter chooses either texture OR color variety in a sock and not both. Who knows how I'll resolve the conundrum. Its such a challenge to be me. And I know that these kinds of conflicts must be of keen interest to the rest of the world.

Vacation report -- Installment X

By far, the best part of the trip was the time with the family. I'm happy to report that i was not personally involved in any argument, nor do I think I was the cause of any. With 12 people in a house about 2200 square feet, there's bound to be conflict, especially when the owner is a person who closely monitors water and energy consumption. I think it must have been a very big shock to him, to have so many people in the house, so much noise, so many things heating the place up, so many people wanting to do things he did not.

Niece and Nephew report: I have the best nieces and nephews ever. Only one was not present: Beth's son Mike stayed home to complete Driver's Ed.; their household is in dire need of another driver so I understand entirely. Besides, he just turned sixteen and there's a girl he'd like to spend more time alone with... I did get to see young Mike and his Dad for a bit when they arrived to collect the other three. Those of you who have seen young Mike recently will be astonished to learn he's even more handsome than ever. Seriously, seriously good looking. Think young John Travolta but better nose and more groomed hair. Yowza.

Mary, Kelley and Ryan are as delightful as ever, perhaps even more so. They are all beautiful. Ryan is probably nearly six feet tall and he has a man's voice. At fourteen, though, he's still half-child and I find that just lovely. He's become a music-tech geek as I may have mentioned before. We had a GREAT time together sharing our favorite YouTube videos and tricking out his mp3 player and laptop. Kelley is wonderful and sweet; she's getting better at expressing her own wishes and desires and that pleases me; its so much easier to make a person happy when you know what they like or don't. We shopped for clothes and books, talked about college and boys. Very nice. Its hard to know much about Mary; she spent most of her time with an earphone plugged in her head as she spent HOURS on the phone with her beau, Dylan. I know she loves college and did well; she's definitely growing up.

Daniel is a trip. He is completely spring-loaded; very energetic and bouncy, happy boy. He speaks so well, is really advanced verbally, has a great sense of humor. I enjoyed every minute with him and I'm hoping to get some time alone with him next summer. He and Haley got along extremely well, too. I wish I got to see these kids more often...

Last thing...for today anyway. While shopping for something at Amazon, I discovered this: a Lego watch.

What kind of world is this, exactly? Both Haley and Anna have had birthdays this year for which they BOTH asked for watches and I did not discover this incredible timepiece until after they had come and gone. What a shame it is, then, that I have to keep it for myself.... if you don't love this watch, you must have never been a kid. It is FABULOUS!

No comments: