twist and shout

Because I just never shut up

Bugga…bagged! February 25, 2010

Filed under: knitting,life — kathy @ 3:13 pm

Got it! That's the new countertop, BTW...

Yes, I knew there was no sense in it when it happened 10 days ago, with Stitches West just a week or so away, but I simply couldn’t help myself. Here’s what happened: while aimlessly perusing The Sanguine Gryphon’s site last week, I noted there were several skeins of —gasp—Bugga merino/cashmere sock yarn available for purchase! “This couldn’t be happening,” I told myself, “just a browser glitch or something.” And to prove it, I put a skein of a lovely blue-green turquoise “Southern Stink Bug” in my cart. Imagine my surprise when it actually did show up in my cart. “Yikes! There is Bugga available!”  And with that I hurried to check out before it escaped. So, after nearly a year of stalking, it arrived in the mail a couple of days ago along with a luscious skein of Gaia Lace Cashmere/silk lace yarn–fabulous stuff–even better than the Bugga, IMHO.

Gaia Lace...yummy!

Of course, ironically, Stitches West starts today!!! This purchase of Bugga did take a nibble out of my budget, but, ah well. it was worth it for the bragging rights and to actually have a skein in my collection. I will say, however, that since my rant last May about not being able to get my hands on any Bugga, I learned that one could actually get this yarn base (Merino/cashmere/Nylon) from several other dyers, among them Handmaiden (Casbah), and Pagewood Farms (Alyska), that are luscious and delightfully dyed. The Bugga, however, is also fabulously dyed, and once I had it in my hands, I understood the infatuation other knitters have with it.

Now, regarding Stitches West, I ran out to the Santa Clara Convention Center this morning to confirm my class registration and so I’d have my badge to wear into the Stitches Market, which opens at 5 pm tonight! My pulse is racing! The bug is coming with me and the nice young fellow who signed me in gave me a guest badge for her. What a sweetie. I already know that I’m not going to $$ much, however I did sloop down to the Market and grab a market brochure, and just before writing this post I marked where I’m going: Blue Moon Fiber Arts, Brooks Farm (for Mas Acero for Darling Cuz), Miss Babs, and Webs for Madelinetosh Lace. The other yarn I’d really like to find is the new Madelintosh Merino that is a single ply like Malabrigo. I LOVE Malabrigo, but the color pooling can be annoying, depending on the garment. And seeing the new colors of Maddy Merino at Eat, Sleep, Knit (see my sidebar) make me think that the colors might be more subtle.

The Market Brochure!

I’ll let you know what I come home with! 🙂

Oh yes, and on the Home Front: Counters are in, Limestone Floor is mostly in, and some of the furniture is ordered, though we won’t be able to sit on any of it until the middle of May. Sigh 🙂

Gotta run and shower–3 hours ’til the market opens! Yippee Ki-O!


Putting Humpty Back Together Again February 19, 2010

Filed under: life — kathy @ 3:23 pm

I ran into a pal today who was out walking her cute little dog. She asked me, “So, is the remodel getting to you, yet?”

My answer was, surprising even to me: “Not really.” But honesty, the thing that’s getting me through it is the thought that at the end of all this dust is something that’ll be (I hope) pretty cool. Here’s a peek or two at where the project is so far.

The view from the door...

They’re working on the limestone floors right now. Counters and finishing the bathroom next week. I hope.

...another angle.

Actually, the only thing that’s making me a little insane is the dust. I was warned that it would get everywhere, and whoever told me that was not kidding. But even little dust piles on the cereal boxes and the Progresso soup cans inside my makeshift guest room pantry won’t last forever. Does dust have any nutritional value? Hmm.

And another distraction… just 7 days until Stitches West. Well, actually 6 days. Since I’m registered for a couple of classes, I get to go on Thursday evening for a preview of the Market. That could be a little dangerous, in fact. 🙂


Rippety-Doo-Da, Rippety-ay! February 15, 2010

Filed under: knitting,life — kathy @ 2:54 pm

What is it about ripping out a lousy project that has always frustrated me so?    

Even the yarn is making a Sad Face


Perhaps it’s the thought that I was wrong. Wrong about the yarn, wrong about the needle size, wrong about the project size. That’s part of it, I guess. Nobody likes being wrong.    

But what is the most grating to me is not that I was wrong; I think it bothers me because I feel like I just wasted a number of hours on something that I will not be able to use until I spend more hours on it or on something entirely different.    

Case in point: the Victorian Neck Cozy. It was lovely and romantic– something to make me feel again like a delicate maiden, showing off my longish neck. Instead, after 16 rows of pattern, not including the false start on even larger needles, I thought this puppy looked, well, large. I pulled it on and realized it was not merely large. It might even be a bit large on Shrek. I’d ripped half out before I stopped and took a quick pic. Sad.    

Worse, I’d optimistically signed up with this project for the Yarn Harlot’s 2010 Knitting Olympics     

I thought: “Here’s a perfect excuse to put aside some of the other things I’ve been slogging through, as well as finally get my hands on that Malabrigo Silky Merino in Indecita I splurged on last summer.” Love this yarn! Oh well. It just didn’t work. The yarn just didn’t want to be a Victorian Neck Cozy.    

On the other hand, why get hung up on it? It’s better to rip it now, than to be in denial for the next 2 weeks or so, only to find it didn’t fit then and it would be an embarassment to wear.    

Anyway, after lots of researching (thank you, Ravelry), talking (thank you, Darling Cuz), and asking the yarn what it wanted to be, I decided I’m going to transform this glorious fiber into a “Shetland Triangle,” or possibly another favorite shawl, the Forest Canopy. I gave away each of  my 2 Forest Canopy shawls and frankly would like one of my very own. I was thinking of doing an “Ishbel,” because my Darling Cuz was raving about it, and I always like what she makes. However, the very first  3 lines of the pattern sent me into a tailspin: “Cast on 3 stitches. Knit 6 rows. Pick up 3 stitches of garter stitch, then 3 stitches from cast on edge.” HUH?    

Just couldn’t wrap my head around that. Why would you do that? What would that look like? And I couldn’t reach the Cuz to ask, since hers is finished, though I’m sure there are also others of you out there who also understand those instructions. Just not me. If so, please be so kind to enlighten me.      

Ah well. I’m excited to start that Shetland Triangle.    

Simple Things in Handmaiden Casbah--Yum. Simply, wonderfully mindless!


Also chugging along on my “Simply Luscious” Simple Things Shawlette/Scarf, and still working on the “Lion Neck Cardigan,” and with Stitches West in less than 2 weeks, I’d better make a dent in my stash so I can fit in a few skeins of this and that here and there.    

That Stash. Boy oh boy. You know, as far as stashes go, this one is about average in size.  Trust me, I’ve seen larger.    

Even so, last Wednesday I found myself  wildly digging through it to find the skeins of Dream in Color Classy I succumbed to at Purlescence’s “Jammie Jam Day after Thanksgiving” yarn sale. Did I have enough to make myself the Feb Lady Sweater? Did I buy 4 (not enough)skeins, or 5 (just barely enough)? It took me all day, going into my bins and baskets multiple times (no easy feat considering a 6 foot tall framed print is standing against the door of the guest room yarn closet and the rest of the room is piled high with delicate objects such as lamps).    

I really am very organized...


By 3 pm, an hour after I’d admitted defeat, I came back to my senses. No pile of wool was gonna get the best of my dusty brain. I made a cup of chamomile tea and thunk. (Yes, I thunk. Like Winnie the Pooh) Lots of things got thunk, but at last  I had  a vague memory of cleverly shoving the yarn I got at the sale into an empty suitcase that also lives in the yarn closet (at least I thought it was a clever place to stash it at the time–I wish I would’ve written myself a note to that end–I can’t even count how many hot flashes I had looking for that yarn). Bingo. And happily I now know I have just barely enough yarn. Goody.    

...and there really isn't all that much.


One thing is certain after all that searching and sweating: I will be very careful to limit my Stitches West fiber purchases to single skeins of sock yarns and a skein or two of lace yarn, although I clearly don’t need more of either, and I certainly don’t have many places left to put them.    

Enough said.    

Also thinking of planning my summer trip to coincide with this:  Anyone wanna come with me?  

On the Remodel Front: Our kitchen is a maze of gorgeous cabinets stacked one on top of the other, all which will be installed in their proper places tomorrow. I’m so excited!!    

Except this thing is filled with sock yarn. (tee hee)



Seeing yourself in a funhouse mirror February 8, 2010

Filed under: knitting,life — kathy @ 3:09 pm

Body image. It’s something I think, for most of us, shifts—even (in my case, anyway) tilts—as time goes along. Trouble is that what I see really impacts my fun. Case in point: my “Lion-Neck Cardigan” from the wonderful book, Custom Knits by Wendy Bernard.

Using the most luscious Karabella Camissimo yarn with extrafine merino and baby camel.

I started this sweater well over a year ago, and at that time, I thought it would be wonderful to make it a bit oversize to wrap myself in while I drank my morning cuppa joe. I mean, this was one freezing old Eichler.  Okay, as usual, the “what the hell size do I make this puppy?” question came up. This question is always far more difficult for me to answer than “what yarn should I use…?” Those of you who know me, know that since having my kiddo, I’ve become a bit more, ahem, zaftig, in the bosom department. Moreover, the pattern sizing goes something like this: Finished (bust) measurements: 23 1/4, 26, 27 1/4, 32, 36  3/4, 41, 44 3/4. Here’s where the funhouse mirror comes in.

I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, “I want this to be comfy and loose, so I want positive ease, not negative ease.”  So off I went, knitting away until I lost interest, and/or it got too in here hot to work on.

And now, many months later, after finally getting some much needed down time to knit, I pulled this sweater back out and worked on it all weekend. I was nearly to the bottom when I tried it on (thank heavens it was a top down project). Wrong, wrong, wrong. Can you say yeti?  Yes, it was HUGE (it shouldn’t have been; I was making a hybrid of the 36 inch size). Even CR would’ve been swimming in it, and he’s got a great big muscular chest and shoulders. Worse, I think my gauge had relaxed a bit from back when I swatched.  3 stitches/ inch instead of 4 stitches/inch.

So even though part of this knitting disaster was due to gauge, why did I think I was this large? Seriously? I mean, I know I’m not skinny and I really don’t have much trouble with it (Okay, I lied. I want to be skinny again). But what was I thinking? This sweater looked like a great big labradoodle laying there on my bed.  After a few choice curse words, I figured it out. It must have been something to do with the mirrors in the house. And since all our closet doors (every single one) have mirrors on them,  I wish I could recall which one I was looking in when I decided I needed to make this so ginormous. I have to walk through the house with blinders on, because every single one—I swear to you—makes me look different.

Ah well.  Rippppppp! So, 20 rows into it, it’s already looking better, and I’m a happier camper.

You know, as much as I despise ripping, there is a certain freedom in knowing you can rip something out and do it over. Sewing, while you can rip seams and redo, once you cut that fabric, it’s cut.

My Barbie Doll foot pose

Well, here’s a project I’m really happy about. I was worried these Broadripple Socks would be too tight around the top where they hit the lower calf. But just like my Darling Cuz said they would do, the tops stretched nicely. Yippee! There was a bit of pooling, but nothing I couldn’t live with and they’re nice and comfy.  I’m in love with the pattern. So easy to remember that you don’t have to do it in seclusion, but not boring at all.

Also on the “bust” front, I did my knitting “homework” for one of my upcoming StitchesWest classes “Short Row Bust Darts” with the legendary knitter, Lily Chin.  Lord knows I need this class and I’ve been trying to get into for a couple of years. The homework was a simple task consisting of making a 42-stitch swatch with a half dozen rows of garter stitch followed by a few rows of stockinette using a plain worsted weight yarn. Easy.

I can’t wait for Stitches!


And having gone to Stitches Midwest a few times, I can tell you, there’s nothing like Stitches West (except, maybe, for Sock Summit, which I so sadly missed this year because of other plans). Being with so many other fiber-obssessed folk will be a most welcome change from dust and contractors.

The only sad thing is that my Darling Cuz won’t be out here  this year to experience it with me…

Closed up and ready to go!

Well, on the remodel front, We’re ready (just a little cleanup needed) for the cabinets to go in! Hip hip hooray! The bathroom’s ready to go together! Yay! Then onto the counters, the floors, the fireplaces, and the appliances. Good thing I love painting, because I’ll have that work cut out for me…:)

And I need to get myself back on track making sparkly things, too. I’m way behind in that department. Busy me.

You know, with all the problems (I’m talking mostly cosmetic, here) this house had when we started the remodel, including the issues I’ve had with the mirrors. it makes me wonder if the previous owners got those mirrors from a carnival. Hmm.


Come see my new kitchen… February 2, 2010

Filed under: knitting,life — kathy @ 11:36 am

Just kidding. Well, not really—this is my new kitchen, for a while anyway. It’s actually pretty workable, which makes me wonder about all the $$ we’re spending on the new kitchen.

It’s in the guest room. Here I have my microwave, crockpot, toaster, and coffeepot (I wasn’t going anywhere without that). Oh yes, and an electric frying pan (thanks, Erica, for that idea). Dontcha love that Halloween vinyl tablecloth? I have some cookbooks and some spices on one shelf, and my new pantry hidden just below. Reminds me a little of my old Drake dorm room way back when.

It’s working pretty well. Okay, so I have a hell of a big work triangle now since the fridge is in the kitchen and the sink is in the MBR–I don’t have a laundry tub. Didn’t the women who bought these houses from Joe Eichler tell him women need laundry tubs? And basements? I mean, where else does one stash stuff you must hang on to (ie: Christmas decorations, bulk packages of TP, paper towels, stewed tomatoes) so you can stash yarn in the house? In my house, you have to go to the garage for more TP, because last year after Stitches West, nearly a dozen skeins of DIC Smooshy, Blue Moon STR, and various other sock yarns moved into their previous hiding place. I just have to be a bit more prepared to make sure there’s TP in the house. Whatever.

Yesterday, I learned how to microwave pasta (I guess I already knew how to do that thanks to Kraft Microwave Mac and Cheese, but that didn’t occur to me at the time.), and so I made an old family favorite that I’ve named after my sis who gave the recipe years ago (I’ll jot down the recipe below). It worked out great in the electric frying pan, even though it didn’t have the crispy brown top jack cheese gets in the oven. It was just nice to be able to hang in our jammies and eat something cozy and warm and satisfying. Doing the dishes is a pain in our tiny bathroom, but I figured out a system for washing up that works great.

Don’t get me wrong, I love going out to dinner. I love being served and not having dishes and pans to clean. But if we do too many of those, I won’t get my chairs for my new sitting area in our kitchen. Going out to dinner is super expensive out here. Even the cheaper places cost a lot. If I wrap my brain around it, 12 trips out to dinner cost me a Quinn chair from Room and Board.

I’d rather have the chair.

Well after dinner, I cozied up on our bed with CR and the Bug to watch “Lawrence of Arabia,” and worked some more on my Broadripple Sock number 2.

About 2.5 inches to go...

I’ve learned that I probably should’ve used a yarn with elastic in it as written, since the garter ripple cuff and the wavy pattern pulls in nice and tight. And I have one larger ankle, thanks to the blood clot I had years ago, so it’s really a snug fit. I hope it’ll loosen a little, since the foot is too long for the Bug, and frankly, I really want this pair. At any rate, I’m hoping to find the time to finish it today, problem is, then I have to decide if I want to work on one of my UFOs (which is what I should do), or if I want to work on the “Victorian Neck Cozy” by Wendy D Johnson in this amazing Malabrigo Silky Wool, color: Indecita.

I’ll let you know which it is…maybe both. LOL

Oh, here’s Karen’s Recipe. And if any of you have some ideas of what I can make for dinner in our makeshift kitchen (besides Lean Cuisine), I’d love the recipes!

Karen’s Krazy Casserole

1 lb. Ground Turkey

1 TBSP olive oil

2 cloves garlic or 1 tsp garlic powder

1 medium onion, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 tsp cumin

1 cup prepared salsa

1 small can chopped green chilies

1 cup frozen corn

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

8 oz. nonfat yogurt

8 oz. lowfat cottage cheese

1/2 tsp cumin

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

8 oz whole wheat (or white) pasta, cooked

8 oz (or more if you love it) shredded jack cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Saute onion in olive oil until softened; add garlic, and turkey and saute until turkey is cooked through. Add the cumin, salsa, chopped chilies (including the liquid they are in), chopped cilantro and corn. Cook a few minutes over medium heat.

In a bowl, mix the yogurt, cottage cheese, chopped cilantro, and cumin.

In a lightly greased 9 x12 baking dish, layer the casserole as follows: cooked pasta, meat mixture, yogurt mixture, then top with jack cheese. Bake 30 to 40 minutes until cheese is brown and bubbly. Enjoy!

Edited to add: For more of a kick, add a dash of ground chipotle seasoning! Penzey’s version is verry good. 🙂


Love among the ruins February 1, 2010

Filed under: life — kathy @ 1:11 pm

A girl and her snail…true love.  Actually, we call the Bug “the snail queen” because for some odd reason, snails are drawn to her. Weird.

Also weird, this bit of snail trivia: snails have teeth! At least 10,000. (“Well duh, Kathy. What do you think’s been eating your hosta?”)

More here:

Her name's Suzy. Ain't she cute?

With our house in ruins, there’s not much fun in being indoors. So after CR spent a good bit of time vacuuming the unbelievable piles of dust along every edge of every floor, and even the walls and the backs of the doors, we tackled the task of cleaning the “fish fountain,” out in the front courtyard. Which is where we found Suzy. We’ve had such an overwhelming problem with algae–and I mean we’ve tried everything–that we suspected that after 3 years of fighting, the huge goldfish we had in there finally sucumbed to that miserable green stuff. Sure enough, there were no fish in the fountain. Very sad. On the other hand, the Bug will probably get a few in a small tropical fish in an aquarium after we remodel her room.

Oh yes, and hopefully we’ll each get a  kitten, too, when we’re finished with the remodel. I miss my Foozle so much. I see here everywhere, it seems. In the corner of the bedroom very early in the morning, I could swear I see her curled up there, sleeping, since that was one of her special spots. After I catch my breath and wake up a little, I realize it’s just my slippers. Sigh. I miss that little monster.

So the remodel is going along fairly steadily. No complaints here. I’m just anxious to see it all finished. I know that this whole process is basically an exercise in learning patience for me. Now’s when I wish I were a strong guy who could do some of this work myself so I could get it going, as well as do it the way I want without any discussion. Such a control freak, I am.

It’s pretty amazing to see this old place stripped done to the bare bones.

Kitchen, sans cabinets

Fascinating. Must be how a med student must feel when they first start studying physiology with a cadaever. I mean, just look at these amazing old fireplaces…it amazes me that the guy we bought this house from felt compelled to cover these fireplaces, so appropriate to the house and its style, with white marble and black granite. So 80’s. And not in a good way. Whatever. I just feel bad that the faces of these fireplaces are covered in this horrid adhesive that won’t come off, no matter what, so we’re going to cover them with this stuff called “stacked Virginia ledgestone.” Here’s a preview:

Of course we won’t be building a flatscreen into it. We don’t even  own a flatscreen yet. But I digress.

Anyway, it’s going along fine; I’m spending all kinds of quality time with my new BFFs the electrician and the contractor. Come by and meet them if you like. 🙂 I’ll be here writing and catching up on some new jewelry designs, and looking for a good excuse to take a break and show you around.


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