Life's Little Details: Knitting, Sewing, Green Living, Frugal Living and Cooking In A Little Corner of Southern French Countryside.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The Amish Route to Heaven

They may not have electricity, but those Amish sure now how to eat! Cinnabon's got absolutely nothing on these people. I'm thinking of converting, because if the sour cream roll recipe I found online is any indication of their regular diet, I'm there. It won't be that big of a change in lifestyle, right? I mean, I don't have a microwave, and our plumbing only works halfway correctly. These people fascinate me anyway - the way they live almost entirely from what they make with their own hands. I really don't think it could be done except as a community of people sharing tasks, but I am secretly in love with the idea, even if I do have an aversion to early-rising and all that hard labor - Ugh! But then, if you eat too many of these sour cream rolls (as I have this evening), you need the heavy work load to exercise some of those extra calories off. That said, though, I must recommend this recipe. I have to say it is without a doubt the most delicious online recipe I have ever tried, and that's saying a lot, since I regularly search for cooking inspiration on the web. Just to tease you a little, and to convince to try these tasty treats: the glaze that tops the rolls tastes like a caramel sauce (the type they dip apples in) with a slight tartness from the sour cream used to make it. Amazing by the spoonful. You can't imagine it on top of these rolls. Mmmmm.

So, if you like baking, and you don't mind spending a few hours away from your knitting, here's the site for you:

Incidentally, the site sells looms. There is a small loom that's used to make sweaters, blankets and other items. It looks pretty nice, except that apparently they currently are out of stock due to a fire - but there are always the sour cream rolls, so all is not lost.

A Little Woodworking

This knitter has been doing a little woodworking - and when I say "little", I do mean it. Last night, after the kids were off to bed, and dear hubbie was busy at work in his office, I whipped out the kid's pencil sharpener, a long wooden dowel, a sharp knife and some sandpaper. I'll bet you'll never guess what I was up to. Nope, not a second Noah's Ark. Better, at least unless the recent rains around here don't let up soon (then, I may have to rethink that ark idea). I made a set of 5 double-pointed 4 mm needles. More useful than the ark around my house, at least. Okay, so they aren't all exactly the same length (but only because I really didn't care to take exact measurements), and I may need to sharpen the points a little more after I try them out a bit, but these "design details" are what make them unique. And, really, if they work, who cares? They're pretty, too - or, at least to their mommy they are.

They're in the middle of a trial run, knitting up a headband to keep my hair under some amount of control at night. After my most recent haircut, I can't get it to stay out of my face when I lie down without clipping it back with hair-devouring metal barrettes. Solution: knit headband. After all, when a knitting solution exists, it is always the best solution to go with, right? If only I could felt us a new toilet seat after the last one broke - those suckers aren't cheap! But, alas, not everything can be knit, so when it's possible, of course, it must be done. The headband doesn't actually require dpn's, but I do need to try them out, and the size is right. They may not be perfect, but they work, and for the approximate dollar it cost me to make them, I think they're great, not to mention the fact that sets of 5 dpns are not easy to find around here. So, I'll be making them in a few other sizes as well. And, let me say that if you haven't tried making your own needles, and you enjoy detailed knitting, you'll love this, I swear. And, it's a relatively quick fix compared to dyeing or spinning (you'll want to keep the vacuum handy, though).

In non-knitting news (for those who actually care), the home organizing frenzy continues on, though at a less frenzied pace. I'm proudest of recently conquering the buffet in our kitchen. A very badly treated antique that we acquired with our temporary home, it's in need of much love, some sandpaper and a lick or two of something to revive it. But who has time for that? So, I did the next best thing in attempting to organize it. The marble section is often hidden beneath homeless odds and ends, as is the fate of most flat surfaces in our home. Armed with a couple boxes of ceramic plates and doodads from Spain I found in our storage stuff, I cleaned that sucker up and decorated it. Despite the fact that my husband despises these kitchie objects, my hope is that their presence will deter the pile-up of other objects that we all agree are less attractive. As any good husband should, he has kept his mouth mostly closed about the matter. I've even added some badly needed extra shelf space with those hanging wire basket-shelves. Not antique, for sure, but more organized is definitely better. Next thing to do is clean up the glass doors and put them back on it. By golly, by the time we get ready to move, we'll have made ourselves a real home here!

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Basketball Hightop Baby Bootie

Well, here is baby bootie number one. Is it wrong to be giddy with pride at something you've designed? Maybe it's because it's so tiny, but I love this thing. If it had cheeks, I'd want to pinch them. I just need to make the other one, and if there's enough of the white yarn left, I may add a few more embellishments (mainly a Converse-like circle, and possibly some more stitching). I can't wait to see these on some tiny little feet!

The Promiscuous Knitter

Oh, how many people searching for naughty adult sites showcasing naked women with knitting needles are going to be disappointed to find themselves here? I love it! But, for those of you who have not recently picked up your trusty dictionary, I can assure you that "promiscuous" does not have to be used in describing sexual habits. It can be used to imply that a person is fickle with any action they choose to participate in. So, this is an ideal description of many knitters out there, not just myself.

Has this blog suddenly become an English course? No. So why, then, do I bring this to your attention? Well, you may recall that I currently have several unfinished projects lying around, taking up valuable knitting needles (improperly using them as stitch holders). They really need to be finished. The goal should be, then, to rid myself of these nagging obligations. Never mind the sense of accomplishment, think of the knitting needles to be freed forever (or at least until the next project shackles them to it for months)!

So, naturally, I have cast on for yet another project. This one's a quickie, though (don't you love the way I'm sticking with the promiscuity theme here!). Because, once upon a time, some knitter I know decided to make a cable baby blanket for her sister-in-law's daughter-to-be, and said baby will be upon us in a matter of weeks, said knitter has decided to get crackin' on the baby's other intended gift (so she will at least have something). So, I am happy to announce a pair of Basketball Hightop Baby Booties in the works. Since I've never seen any, I'm working from a bootie leftover from my kids and making things up as I go along. So far, so good. I hope to have a picture to show you of a finished bootie by the end of the day. With that said, back to work!

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Big Red House

Big Red House
Originally uploaded by The Stitchin Sheep.
Pictures, pictures and more pictures! We're just on a roll, aren't we? We can all thank my husband for the recent eye candy. He's been taking pictures left and right around here. We've even got a nice picture of a very proud hen I may still share with you. She's a funny little creature.

This one is our new house, which is eternally in the works. I love the angle he got on this shot. It perfectly showcases the "leaping platforms" (I'm a firm believer that every house should have them in case you can no longer stand the torture small children can subject you to). There will actually be stairs coming off each of those platforms, but I thought it looked funny at this stage.

Love's Not the Only Thing in Bloom

My apparently sometimes romantic hubbie took this shot of the almond tree just outside our front door just after a spring rain. Perty, ain't it?

Limp Butterfly Bath Puff

Originally uploaded by The Stitchin Sheep.
This is the Bon Bon bath puff from Looks quite a bit like a limp butterfly, hence the name. It's made of Incredible by Lion Brand in color #201. It's much softer on the skin than the mesh bath puffs you get at the store. If you wring it out well and shake it after each use, it dries before the next.

It's Springtime, and Love Is In Bloom

My daughter is in love (she's 3 1/2 going on 25, apparently). After coming home from a wedding last summer, she instantly wanted to marry her best friend. Now, she no longer wants to marry him. Another has stolen her heart away, and this time it's for real. She thinks (and talks) about him constantly. He's a little boy in her class (with a rattail - eeek!). Today, when I picked her up for lunch, she looked defiantly at me and refused to move. I asked her what was wrong, and she pointed to the boy next to her. "I want to marry him," she said shyly cocking her head to one side. She has also asked Daddy to talk to the boy's father about getting him to come over to the house. Is this how it starts?? My daughter is becoming boy-crazy already? Well, hey, at least there's no talk of dating or sex at this age. Isn't childhood great? You can fall in and out of love easily with never a heartbreak to crush you. Fabulous!

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Ooooh, Good Idea!

I just had a fun idea for a kid's hat (or a kid at heart, I guess). A Shrek hat! How funny would that be? A lime green knitted hat with funny Shrek ears. My kid loves that movie, so I may actually make one. I've got lots of dye-your-own Knit Picks wool to do it with (forgot to mention I came back with eight skeins of that, too). Something would have to be done to make the ears stand up. Stuff 'em, I guess. But, that could be a fun quickie project to try - not to mention an excuse to dye some yarn.

Oh, and I'd like to take a brief moment to thank everyone who left such nice supportive comments about my recent family situation. It's really nice to know others are thinking of you when your life seems upside down. Thanks.

Back in the Swing of Things

Or, at least I''m working on it. I almost started a new project tonight while watching a movie. I say almost, because I made a nice little center-pull ball out of the yarn, and I started calculating for the sweater I plan to make. I just haven't actually gotten anywhere with it yet. That'll come. When it comes, it'll be a spring/summer sweater for my daughter. I found some really cute lavender 100% cotton yarn at Michael's while in the US. So, the plan is to make a sweater for her to wear on cool days and nights. Part of the yarn is variegated, while the rest is a matching solid. I plan to make the sleeves solid and the body striped. It'll be a simple stockinette stitch sweater, because I think I just need a project that I can lose myself in right now. I don't want to have to think too much.

Other than that yarn, I also bought an unnecessarily large quantity of unmercerized cotton for making kitchen rags with. I had heard they are much more absorbant when hand-knit. So, since you can't find unmercerized cotton around here, I stocked up. I figure, since I won't have the urge to knit tons of these things at once, this stuff should last me quite a while, right? Random wedding gifts? Perhaps. Am I that cheap? Perhaps. Really, I just want to try them myself. And, they should give me plenty of mindless knitting should I ever need any.

In addition to that rag cotton, I also purchased some 100% nylon tape (Patons, I think). The plan was to make a tank for my daughter, but it got used for something else. Sudsing up the other day, I decided I could save plenty of money (at least a few cents, anyway) if I could make my shower gel last longer with a bath puff. I did have one - actually still do - that was store-bought, but the kids have played with it to the point where I'm unsure of its being sanitary enough to use. So, what do we do in these instances? Knit, of course. I remembered seeing the bath puff pattern (Bon Bon) on, which suggested a fast-drying nylon yarn. Not being a huge synthetic fan, this new yarn is all the nylon I've got aside from a funky eyelash yarn I'm still wondering what to do with (steering wheel cover and fuzzy dice for my husband's tractor?). So, at least part of the meant-to-be-a-tank tape yarn became a rainbow bath puff. Works wonderfully, though it lathers a bit less than the mess ones you buy. It's so much softer, though, and I highly recommend knitting one up if you find the others scratchy. When I get around to it, I'll post a picture of it and the yarn details. I'm just not in the mood tonight.

So, you see, after my month-long hiatus from serious knitting, I'm working my way back into things gradually, beginner-style with easy projects that require very little thought. I've still got those I was working on before my trip that need to be finished, but I can't bring myself to touch them yet. One was a shawl I intended to give to my recently-deceased grandmother, and I don't know when I'll be able to work on it again. The other is the baby blanket I really do need to finish in the next couple of weeks, or the soon-to-be-born baby will get cold. We can't have that!

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Back to Knittin'

Well, I may not be better than ever, but at least I am back. I'm a bit jetlagged, and I don't have much knitting to show for my month off, but at least I made it safely home, with kids and all. There was really no knitting time in my stay in the US. The trip intended for saying good-bye to my grandfather turned into a hellish emotional nightmare for the entire family. My grandfather was, indeed, in his last days and passed away soon after my arrival. That was expected. What we didn't know, though, was that my grandmother, as well as my great-aunt were each hiding a case of pneumonia, thinking it would soon pass.

The day after my grandfather's death, my grandmother went in to the emergency room. She spent 7 days in ICU, fighting hard for her life, and, in the end, lost to a stronger adversary. My great-aunt, too, went into the hospital, though she was in slightly better condition. She is still working back the strength and good health required to be discharged, but she will survive. The whole ordeal was painful, as you can imagine, but I have learned a valuable lesson that should be conveyed to as many people as may read this little post. DO NOT LET A LINGERING COUGH GO UNCHECKED. I cannot stress this enough, especially for those over 65, and of course, for any newborns. Lying on her deathbed, my grandmother's comment was this: "We've been sick before, and we've always gotten better." She had been battling a cough for several weeks, and she really thought nothing of it, until she was too weak to hold up her own head (but by then, she had such a lack of oxygen that she was no longer coherent enough to think she had a health problem). And, for those who take aspirin on a daily basis as a blood thinner, be especially careful, because this practice, though good for the heart, may mask the telltale high fever associated with pneumonia. Like my grandmother, you may never know until it is too late.

On the brighter side, we were able to have several last days together, filled with many precious last moments. My children were able to play with and enjoy the company of their great-grandmother a few last times, and for that I will always be grateful.

I don't know what knitting is in store for this little sheep in the near future. I had many plans, both knitting and non that somehow seem less important that they once did. For the moment, all I want to do is clean. Whether this is a psychological bi-product of grief or due to the fact that spending a month away from home only magnifies the mess when you return, I'm not sure. I only hope the mood will last long enough to make a dent. When the mood strikes me, though, I will show you what little knitting I have accomplished. This will include a bath puff that works quite nicely (only took an evening) and the silk tank I was working on before I left.

One last thought for this post:

My grandparents spent 63 years married to their soulmates. I know that is an unrealistic and romantic notion, but seeing them over the years is proof of the existence of soulmates. Not everyone may find them, but my grandparents certainly had. They truly were an example of lasting, loving marital bliss. The only comfort I can find in losing them both at once is the thought that neither will be forced to live without the other.