Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Book 12

I just finished my twelfth book for this year, The Eye of Zoltar by Jasper Fforde. Normally, I devour Fforde books, but not this one, at least not at first. That was totally my fault though, not the book's.
If you think fourteen is too young to be driving, think again. The Kingdom of Snodd grants driving licences on the basis of responsibility, not age, something that can frustrate forty-something blokes no end when they fail their responsibility test for the umpteenth time.
Lately, I've just been rather fidgety - I feel like I'm so close to normalcy (or my new approximation of it) but I keep getting little setbacks. So I'm just constantly feeling a bit distracted, like I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. It makes it hard to sit down and focus on something like a book with plot.
...we stopped for a moment to stretch our legs, change drivers and make a short devotion at the shrine dedicated to the once popular but now little known St Aosbczkcs, the patron saint of fading relevance.
I don't enjoy this YA series from Fforde as much as his other stories, but I still do like it quite a bit. The humor is just as random and satirical as his adult fiction (there has to be another way to phrase that... it's not "adult" like an adult movie, just not YA), but it's not quite as smart. (Or else it is too smart and over my head so far that I don't even know I'm missing something. Always a possibility.)
Ralph said he’d not come either, as he had a peculiar allergy to ‘anything without legs, such as cats.’
‘Cats have legs,’ said the Princess.
‘They do, don’t they?’ agreed Ralph in a confused manner, but declined to join us anyway.
Once I finally forced myself to focus, I read this in about two days. And now I have to wait until next year for the next one to come out!
‘But listen,’ I said as the sandwiches arrived, ‘you don’t know the first thing about ironing. Hardly anyone does. The Guild of Master Ironers keep that secret arcane knowledge well guarded.’
Normally I detest cliffhanger books (which this sort of is). I've stopped reading an author I enjoyed just because of a cliffhanger book ending. It's a big hate. But I don't have a problem with how Fforde does his. The main plot story lines from the book are all nicely tied up and then, right before the end, something new is introduced. (Yes, there was foreshadowing, but it wasn't what the book was about so I didn't care that it wasn't unresolved). So even though there's a big issue hanging out there, it just means you know what you'll be getting in the next book - the current book doesn't feel unfinished. It's that unfinished, that-book-was-pointless feeling that I hate.

Though I also really don't like finally getting into something and then finishing it and begin left at a loss. Fforde needs to publish another book. I need something fun to read!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Part One Done!

I mentioned it before, but last week I finished my qiviut cowl. Now, celebrate! Because it is all blocked so it is officially finished!

Qiviut Cowl

I thought I had tons more to go because I had tons more yarn, but turns out it was very close to the length I wanted, so my one week sock-less knitting finished this puppy off. It was even blocking one day before my self-imposed deadline. Win all over the place!

Of course, I was sick last week (head cold) so I just let the cowl lay on my blocking mat well after it was dry, but I'm feeling better so I took (crappy) pictures and it is now officially done!

Qiviut Cowl

Since I do have a lot of yarn left, I have plans to make a matching hat. I have to do math for that first, though, so I'm working on socks right now. Here's a glimpse of my current project.

Pattern Markers

So yeah, gonna finish these socks, probably make some more socks and maybe a sweater, then I will work on the matching hat.

Yay for completed project-that-isn't-socks!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Embargo Over!

It is time for socks!

Socks In Training

Or at least things that will be socks after twenty five hours or so of work.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Smartest Thing I've (Accidentally) Done

My one week sock-knitting hiatus has been successful! I mean, I haven't actually made it a week yet, but that's not what I mean. The main purpose of denying myself sock knitting was to work on my qiviut cowl. And guess what? It's blocking right now! Yay!

Last night was the most challenging part of the whole project: grafting the two sides together. I've grafted stockinette before, but never lace. So yeah, I was ridiculously worked up about it. So I put in a lifeline in both sides before grafting. The purpose was to be able to easily pick the stitches back up if (and when) the grafting went horribly wrong. But the end result was that, once the sides had been grafted together, the grafted row was perfectly highlighted so it was super cake to go back and straighten up the tension. Unintentionally brilliant.

Grafted Cowl

So now my cowl is all finished and blocking and I have enough leftover yarn to make a matching hat (which will require some math so I'll get started on it later). And since my cowl is all done, I can lift the sock knitting embargo! Tomorrow, I'm going to ball some yarn! Whoo!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Day 3: Weakness

Well, I haven't caved yet on my one-week-with-no-sock-knitting plan, but I skirted the line a bit today. I pulled out some sock yarn that I want to knit with next and went through my yarn cabinet to select matching yarn for contrasting heels. That's not against the letter of the law, but perhaps it's against the spirit.

Dan says I won't make it a week... and he's probably right.

On the plus side, I'm getting slow but steady progress on my cowl. I think I'm close to finishing it but I'll end up having so much yarn leftover that I think I'm going to make a matching hat.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

This Is Harder Than I Thought

Since finishing my last pair of socks, I told myself that I really needed to work on my cowl for a bit. So I resolved not to do anything sock-knitting related for one week and focus on my cowl.

Today is Day 2 and I'm already sad I don't have socks to work on.

Apparently socks are my ultimate comfort knitting. So on days like today that I feel a bit under the weather, I crave socks.

I'm hoping by confessing to my resolution in a public location, I will have the strength to stick to it.

We shall see!

Monday, October 13, 2014


I had almost forgotten since it's been kind of busy lately, but last week I ran in to an interesting visitor: a walking stick.

Walking Stick
Walking Stick
Walking Stick

Pretty wacky little thing, isn't it? He was remarkably patient with my picture taking, though at one point when I got a little close, I'm pretty sure he waved his little antenna in warning that he was going to eat me.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Most Fabulous Socks Ever

I just finished another pair of socks! I'm probably more in love with these socks than any other pair I've finished, which is saying quite a lot! But I can't help it - they are fabulous!


The stitch pattern I used was a neat little kind of fluctuating rib/basket stitch that really managed to keep my attention - five rows of 4/2 and five rows of 2/4 separated by a round of knit. A few times I almost missed the round of knit but otherwise, something about this was just really engaging for me. I had to pay enough attention to know when it was time to switch between two different rib sections but at the same time, five repeating rounds was long enough that I didn't have to give huge, massive attention. The perfect combination of interesting enough not to be boring but not so interesting I couldn't watch something distracting on TV.

Not only were these fun to knit, I love how they turned out. The yarn is that pink confetti birthday cake yarn I've mentioned before and the colors are just completely fabulous. And the crazy vibrant colors just worked so well with the pattern. LOVE IT. And since they were turning out so wonderfully, I wanted to use ever bit of yarn I could. Therefore, these are about four inches taller than my typical socks. To keep them from getting too tight as they moved up my leg, I switched to a larger needle size about half way up the leg and it worked great. And I ended up with about two yards of yarn left, so I'd say mission accomplished!

And for those of you following along at home, these are number 20 for the year!

Next up? Well, I really need to work on my lace cowl. It's been languishing in my knitting bowl. Poor cowl. Hopefully I can get some work on it done before I am distracted once again by socks.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Drive-By Update

Just to close out an issue I mentioned a couple of weeks ago: earlier this week Emmett went back to the vet for a check up and he was given an official clean bill of health. No more UTI for the Emmett!

On the same trip, we also took Happy in for her annual exam and shots and we got more good news for her. All of her blood work looks good and her renal values are holding steady, which means her chronic kidney issues are being well-managed.

Good news all around!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

New Toys!

Last weekend, my lovely new washer and dryer were delivered!

New Shiny

I've been spending some quality laundry time getting to know them and ultimately, they are fabulous. I'm still getting to know the dryer a bit (my old dryer was so particular that I'm having to unlearn all the little tricks I've come up with to get the clothes to come out happy) but I'm kind of floored at the washer. It has really brought home how horrid my last one was. Everything is now feeling so clean!

And, in more good news, I've learned how to felt in a front loader! Lots of knitters will tell you it isn't possible, but it so is, proven by the fact that Dan now has slippers that fit him!


I'm very pleased by this whole thing. I mean, no one wants to have a major appliance break, but it was ultimately a great chance to get new and shiny lovelies since Dan and I are really too cheap to go out and buy something so expensive when we have a working version at home. So yay for new appliances!

Now if I can just convince the oven to break...

Friday, October 3, 2014

Cidering (Part One of ??)

It's a bit ironic that I've had to go gluten free after I was just starting to get into beer. Even more so considering that my favorite types of beers ended up being wheat beers. Yes, irony abounds.

Since I had gotten to enjoy having a beer every so often and now I can't have any of my favorites, Dan and I have decided to find new gluten-free favorites. While that means I'll be trying some gluten free beers, I'm doubtful I'll have too much luck (as I didn't have much luck with beers in general - it takes a special beer for me to love it). So I wanted to try some ciders, too.

And thus begins our quest!

Woodchuck Belgian White Cider
Woodchuck Private Reserve Belgian White
5 out of 5

We really started this quest of with a bang; this was the first cider we tried and it is fabulous.

It's apple-sweet with a tingle of tartness and a citrusy herbal note on the back end (from the added coriander and orange peel) that isn't strong but gives a great depth of flavor. This earthiness keeps it from being overly sweet, too. There's a hint of a wet white wine sweetness, like a muscadine or dessert wine, that can build to a bit of a tart apple aftertaste at times, but that's not unpleasant.

I like this one so much, the next time we saw it in the store, we bought a six pack.

Crispin Hard Apple Cider
Crispin Natural Hard Cider Original
4 out of 5

The taste isn't near as sweet as I thought it would be based on the smell, which is very green apple sour candy. The taste is more like that dark apple flavor in warmed apple juice. There's a touch of dryness and a hint of tart but nothing that builds to stickiness. It has a fairly clean aftertaste with an aftertaste of green apple peel.

This one is not as fabulous as the first cider we tried, but still very good and I'd have no problem drinking it. It does strike me more as a wine or wine cooler replacement than beer replacement because of the strong apple smell and lack of mustier notes.

Tieton Cider Works Barrel Aged
Tieton Cider Works Barrel Aged Cidermaker's Reserve
2 out of 5

Well, there goes my theory that I am just a whole lot less picky with ciders than I am with beers.

This one smells like white wine with occasional notes of feet. The taste is very much white wine, though overall it is rather mild. And rather sour. There's no real apple taste except at the very end and then it is more of a dried or old apple note that alternates with a tart white grape taste. And the aftertaste tastes a bit like mayonnaise and it leaves a thick body-odor note on my tongue.

I can't say that I like this one too much. Feet, mayonnaise and body odor? No thank you.

Woodchuck Farmhouse Select Hard Cider
Woodchuck Farmhouse Select Hard Cider Original 91
4.5 out of 5

This one is very wet-wine with a strong apple candy note. There's something really different at the end of the aftertaste. Brussels sprouts? Cabbage? Fish? It's even in the smell - kind of lemony/sour but not. I couldn't figure it out but Dan got it: stinky cheese! (He votes blue cheese but I think it's more Brie.)

Yeah, it's pretty funky, but honestly, I kind of love it. There's even a bit of something in there occasionally that makes me think of Ritz crackers. Wild!

Of course, while I think it's really tasty (proven by the fact that I ended up drinking most of the bottle that Dan and I were sharing), the uniqueness of it (cheese!) does mean that this one isn't a daily drinker. Definitely a special occasion thing.

So there we go! Four ciders down, lots more to go! So far, I'm starting to detect a pattern: I like Woodchuck ciders. The two I've tried both have a heavier note that reminds me of my beloved wheat beers. We've got a few more offerings from them (including a pumpkin cider) so we'll see if that trend holds true.

I have no idea how many parts of my cidering quest there will be but I imagine quite a few as we are have a lot of different ciders. I'm really enjoying the process so far (but have learned that the big bottles are limited to the weekend!)

Yay for ciders!