Sunday, January 30, 2011

Just How Cold Has It Been?

Last Wednesday we were hit with a huge snow and ice storm, and it hasn't been warm enough since then for any of the snow or ice to melt away. Melt, yes - enough to create some pretty spectacular icicles - but not warm enough for them to go away.

We had Andrew's birthday lunch at his parents' house yesterday, and I snapped these pictures on some of the bushes outside my in-laws' house.

The poor camellia - this was the first one I saw, and it prodded me to take pictures of some of the others. It looks like it has hands made of icicles.


This azalea caught my eye by how the diagonal branch has an elongated formation - I imagine the branch is under a lot of stress with the weight of the ice.


This is the same bush - but looks like it has some daggers hanging from it:


This azalea also has a thick band of ice - not dagger-like, hanging off its main stem. If you look in the lower left hand corner you can see some icicles that are sticking out horizontally rather than vertically:


Here is a close up:


This one really confused me at first, but Andrew figured out what must have happened. The icicles were vertical at one point, but the weight of the ice on the branch caused the branch to bend, and then it froze in that position, making the icicles horizontal.

Willow has been home with me since Wednesday as well - Andrew tried to take her to school Wednesday morning. He slid 12 feet into the first intersection on the main road, turned around, dropped her back off at home home and said she was staying home with me. The school district ended up calling a short day and yanking the kids at 1pm, then calling snow days on Thursday and Friday due to the road conditions.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Beauty on a Sunday


Isn't it beautiful? My in-laws pick up an orchid every year at the Philadelphia Flower Show (which sadly we will miss this year since it isn't a great place to bring a one-month old baby). My black thumb is amazed at how they have kept this one going for so long. The only houseplant I'm safe with is a Christmas cactus...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Finished Object Friday


One of the ladies in my January due date group delivered a stillborn son earlier in 2010, and the rest of us decided to knit or crochet squares to make a patchwork blanket for her and her husband. This was the square I made. I was supposed to mail this off today, but as I was putting the package together, I noticed that someone (ahem! Eight year old!) spilled hot cocoa on it. Now it is hanging to dry and I will be mailing it tomorrow instead.

Pattern: Xs and Os washcloth (Rav link)
Yarn: Takhi Yarns Coast in Teal
Needles: Size 5 9" straights (I do use straight needles once in a blue moon)

Modifications: If you look at the pattern, there is some lacework in the middle, but I decided I would just knit stockinette for the center to give the square some more structural integrity. Plus I suck at lacework. This was the first time I had ever tried knit a textural piece - and I am quite happy with the result.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Just Bread, Please

You know, it isn't easy to take a picture of bread - it was too dark to go flashless, and the flash just kept reflecting off the bread. Trust me, these pictures aren't doing the bread justice.


I had planned beef stew for dinner yesterday, and since we had friends coming over midday, I knew I wasn't going to have time to run out to the grocery store and pick up bread to accompany the stew. So, I went online and found this recipe: Italian Bread for the Bread Machine. Easy enough. The only substitution I made up front is I used bread flour instead of all-purpose flour.

When the dough was finished in the bread machine I also opted to make one big loaf as opposed to two smaller ones as directed. The picture isn't really giving you a sense of scale, but the loaf is about 14" long by 6" wide at its thickest. I was a little worried about how much longer I would have to bake it with one loaf rather than two, but in the end it was only a few minutes longer and I simply went by how brown the bread was getting.


It was delicious! I have to say that my stew* really paled by comparison - I would have been happy just to have the bread for dinner. The crust was sprinkled with cornmeal before baking, so it had a great crispiness, and the inside was dense and chewy - and it was very easy to slice the bread. That may sound odd, but having the bread be too squishy (that it can't hold up to slicing) or be have a crust so crispy that it just flakes apart when getting sliced are both major pet peeves of mine. My only complaint when all was said and done was that I wish the bread had been a little bit saltier - the recipe only calls for 1.5 tsp of salt, but I'm a novice here - I'm not sure if I can up that by half a teaspoon and not have it affect other parts of the bread.

And hurray for leftovers - this bread is going to make fantastic grilled cheese sandwiches today!

(* The stew? For the first time I tried making a stew that incorporated a bottle of brown ale. It wasn't unpleasant, but had the effect of making the stew rather sweet. I prefer my stews to be more savoury. There was plenty leftover, so I had Andrew salvage the solids and a bit of the broth, and I am going to combine it with some canned diced tomatoes and try to counteract the sweetness.)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

And Already It Starts


Why thank you for getting me this comfy chair with the dangly things!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

WiP It Wednesday

Why, yes - real knitting has been going on around here.

Remember my Reverse Mullet Jaywalkers (party in the front, business in the back?). I am about 3 rows away from kitchnering the toe and starting on the second sock.


Despite the fact that the sock is holy crap pink, I'm still holding onto hope that these socks fit me - but there is no way I am going to try them on until after the baby is born and the swelling has gone down.


And then there are my ugly socks. I know I threatened to frog these - but sometimes a girl just needs a pair of plain jane socks that she doesn't need to think about when she knits.


I started this hat - a secret project - I won't get into who it is for because I'm really not sure whether that person reads my blog or not. In any case, it is Halfdome from Knitty knit in Malabrigo Silky Merino in Archangel. So soft! I could knit these all day just to feel the yarn. I decided to go with an inch of 2x2 ribbing rather than a rolled brim.


And my final WIP is still progressing - here is your weekly Sprog fix:


I found out today that while she is still head down, she is also 'sunny side up,' meaning that her back is to my back. Babies are supposed to come out with their backs to the mom's front - it makes for a smoother exit. Willow was also sunny side up, so I had some painful labour where she kept banging up against my pubic bone rather than sliding out. Here we go again -

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Okay, Sprog - You Can Come Out Now

... Your blanket is done.

Sprog's blanket

As my Mom predicted, it is going to be more of a pram blanket than anything else because of its rectangular shape. I was hoping for something a bit more square, but the final measurements are about 30" by 40".

The Particulars:

Pattern: None in particular - it was a 4x4 checkerboard with 4 rows of border on each end and 4 stitches of garter selvedge on each side.

Yarn: Plymouth Encore Colorspun Worsted in Colorway 7711 (green, white, and yellow stripes), 4 skeins

Needles: Aero Size 8 circulars (24")

I'm really happy with how seamless the striping is on the blanket, especially since 4 skeins of yarn are involved. I'm really particular about things like that, and each time I pulled a bit out of each remaining skein to see which one would match up the best.

Here's a close up of the checkerboard:

Sprog's blanket close up

Whew! I was getting worried that Sprog wouldn't have a handknit by her Mama by the time she arrived - this is a big load off my back :) I have other things on the needles for Sprog, but I wanted to bring her home in her own blanket.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Don't Like Cutting It This Close...


I finished Sprog's baby blanket tonight - and this is how much yarn I had left when I had bound off the last edge. I really don't like cutting it this close! A finished object post will come tomorrow after the blanket has been washed.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Baby Arrival Pool - Updated!


Sepia Sprog 1.5.11 A

I had a much friendlier ultrasound tech yesterday - so I have a picture to show you this week!

Okay - here is a list of everyone who put their name in for a date:

1/5 Discoknits (Deborah)
1/8 Fiona
1/11 Karen
1/13 Penny Karma (Sarah)
1/15 Teri
1/16 Shirley
1/17 Kemtee (Kelly)
1/18 Batty (Vesna)
1/20 Dave
1/22 Dharma
1/23 Bezzie (Kaye)
1/24 Krysstyllanthrox (Haley)
1/27 Turtlegirl76 (Cristi)
1/28 Stariel (Ariel)
1/29 Jaime
1/30 Melyssa
1/31 Zonda
2/1 Tara
2/2 Mom
2/4 Kingshearte

Whew! As you can see, there are still a few days where no one guessed Sprog would arrive. What I will do if Sprog should happen to come on January 25th, for example, I will have a random drawing from everyone who picked a different day. I want there to be a winner regardless of what day Sprog shows up.

Good Luck!

Monday, January 03, 2011

Confounded by the Math


I've been on a frantic tear to get Sprog's baby blanket finished - and I honestly thought I was going to finish it this weekend. But then I measured it.


Let me back up. I'm not using a pattern here - it's a simple checkerboard pattern - 4 rows by 4 stitches. The striping is unplanned - simply a by-product of the yarn. I have 40 squares across the bottom, so I figured if I did 40 rows of squares up, I would have a pretty much square blanket. Not so.

I finished the 40 rows of squares last night, measured the blanket, and came up with 40 inches in width, but only 25 inches in length. CRAP! I'm on my last skein of yarn, so the blanket is only going to be as long as this yarn holds up (I'm anticipating maybe 5 -7 more inches in length).