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

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A Bit About Me(me)

Well, this is the second time I've been tagged for a meme by Liz over at Pocket Farm. I was quite the slacker with the last one, because it was about music, and I haven't been listening to much lately, so I had a hard time coming up with answers. This one seems a little easier, so I'll go for it:

Four jobs you’ve had in your life:
1. Teacher of English as a Second Language (private lessons to professionals)
2. Perfume Counter Girl
3. "Outside Sales Representative", which was my boss' IRS code word for "inside secretary who doesn't sell diddly-squat, but for whom we do not want to pay taxes."
4. Yogurt/Ice Cream Shop Girl

In case you're wondering, my favorite was... well, it might be a toss-up between the ice cream shop and the teaching. One let me talk all day, while the other gave me free ice cream and yogurt.

Four movies you could watch over and over again:
1. Punch Drunk Love
2. The Princess Bride
3. Better Off Dead
4. Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Basically, I like to watch corny stuff over and over (including romantic comedies). Seeing a suspense or dramas once tends to be enough for me, though there can be exceptions. If a movie makes me laugh or feel good somehow, I'll watch it again, even if it's not an excellent film in the grand scheme of things.

Four places you have lived:
1. San Diego, CA
2. Tulsa, OK
3. Austin, TX
4. Portland, OR

We could go on and on with this list (and I wasn't even a military brat).

Four TV shows you like to watch:
1. The Shield
2. Six Feet Under
3. That 70's Show
4. basically any decent American show they actually show in English here (ooh, and if I were in the US, I'd love to watch those autopsy shows they have on the Discovery Channel and occasionally on HBO - a bit of freaky info for you).

Four places you’ve been on vacation:
1. Spain
2. All over the middle and western side of the US
3. Hawaii
4. Actually, I've been to lots of different European countries aside from Spain, too.

Four websites you visit daily:
1. Bloglines
2. Cinecinema (the movie channels we get - to find out if there's anything worth getting the kids to bed early for)
3. Yahoo! Mail
4. Google

Four of your favorite foods:
1. Any kind of berry
2. Cinnamon Swirl Bread (or Cinnamon Rolls)
3. Paella
4. Lasagna

Four places you would rather be right now:
1. Visiting my parents in Houston
2. Visiting my brother and his wife in San Diego (and seeing her knitting/stash in person!!!!)
3. Visiting a friend in Chicago
4. Some South American country (just for the fun of it, and to use my Spanish, which is getting a bit rusty)

Well, that's it. I've done it. I can breathe a sigh of relief. Liz is not going to think I ALWAYS flake out on these things. Okay, well, I am going to flake out a little bit. Since I'm leaving for a few days (five actually) to visit my husband's grandmother, I don't want to feel like I missed anyone posting their answers (yeah, that's my reason), so I won't tag anyone. If you're just dying to do this meme, though, consider yourself tagged and enjoy the blog fodder.

Aside from that, enjoy the next five days. And, if we remember the camera, you may just see some beautiful shots of a very lovely part of central France (that most people probably never venture into) when I get back. Among them is sure to be my new sweater, whose zipper is already half-installed. I know people are always complaining about installing zippers, but I really don't find it to be that bad. We'll see when I've finished if I should really be saying that, but I've done it before without any major mishaps, so... yeah, let's not get cocky here. We know what the knitting gods do about cocky knitters.

Wham, Bam, Thank You Ma'am: A Recipe

Ever since I moved to France, I have struggled with having to meet needs that are not easily met. Sure, the medical care is fine, the transportation system is more than adequate, and we have a lovely piece of property here, but what about all of my cravings for food from back home? How am I to deal with that? It's not easy, since I'm truly a food lover at heart. You wouldn't believe some of the things that Americans I know import to France. Seriously, you'd probably be astonished.

My humble list of imports that I just can't find here include powdered buttermilk, huge packages of yeast, baking powder and baking soda, powdered gelatin (though, I think I could easily live without this), barley malt, chocolate chips, several varieties of Mexican peppers, corn husks and malted milk powder. There is an even longer list of goodies I hand-make myself just to fulfill various cravings. Of course, that list often includes items I've imported in order to make stuff. Other times, I'm lucky enough to easily locate all the ingredients necessary and whip up a batch of something that really makes me happy.

That was the case yesterday. We all know I've been craving salty foods since I got pregnant. That hasn't stopped much, and crackers and cheese jumped to the top of the cravings list the other day. Problem is, there isn't a huge variety of crackers available here. I guess bread is more their thing, and I can usually deal with that, but I do love crackers. In fact, the last time I was in the US, I took a little trip to Trader Joe's just before catching my flight home to stock up on airplane snacks for me and the kids. Knowing I often get a little airsick, I like to have plenty of water and some salt crackers to settle my tummy. Looking to solve this problem is what prompted me to purchase Trader Joe's Stone Ground Wheat Crackers (the low-salt variety, I think). I fell in love, of course, and cannot have them anymore.

Remembering the flavor, though, I got online to search for cracker recipes. I came up with one that interested me. After heavily modifying it, I had a quick and easy basic cracker recipe that tasted great with cheese, even if it may not have been an exact replica of those yummy Trader Joe's crackers. They're so simple to make, and I assume much cheaper than store-bought crackers, that I thought I'd share the recipe. Feel free to play around with it, and let me know if you hit on something fabulous that I should know about.

Wham Bam, Thank You Ma'am Whole Wheat Crackers
1 cup wheat flour (stone ground organic is perfect for this)
1/2 tsp salt (Kosher is best, if you can get it), plus extra for dusting
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp butter, chilled
1/4 cup cold water (or just enough to get a pie crust-like dough)

Preheat oven to 375F (approximately). Mix dry ingredients together. Add butter and either process in food processor or mix by hand (rubbing between fingers and those handy opposable thumbs works well) till mixture has approximate texture of cornmeal. Gradually add water, stirring mixture with fork or wooden spoon (or in a food processor) until a firm, non-sticky dough is obtained. Do not over knead, as this will create chewy crackers without much crunch.

Dust a 12"x14" unrimmed cookie sheet with flour. Roll dough out onto cookie sheet using a roller (you can refrigerate the dough for a bit to make it easier to roll out, but it works without this step, as well). Roll it thinly enough to almost cover the cookie sheet. With pizza cutter, slice horizontal and vertical lines to obtain desired cracker size (mine are mini-crackers approximately an inch square). Brush entire dough sheet with either water or vinegar (it may take a decent amount of vinegar to get the flavor you want). Then, dust with desired amount of salt.

Bake until desired doneness is obtained. Probably 15-20 minutes for crisp crackers. A good way to know if the crackers are done is to sneak in and grab one to taste. Repeat this procedure till they are fully cooked or all gone (in which case, you'll have to make a whole new batch).
Note: I wasn't very careful about rolling my dough into an exact rectangle. This made the edges of the dough thinner than the inner parts. This gave me a variety of crunchinesses in my crackers. I kind of like this. If you don't, try to be a bit more exact when rolling out, and you may even consider slicing off the thinner edges and rerolling them. I'm just not a stickler for these sorts of details.

Variations: I'm thinking that replacing some of the water during mixing with vinegar could yield some tasty salt and vinegar crackers (I tried the light brushing, and it just didn't cut it). Also, adding some toasted sesame seeds in with the dry ingredients could be great. Dried Nori seaweed could be good with this, maybe adding a tiny bit of soy sauce (or just toss in some of that Japanese rice seasoning that's got seaweed, salt, sesame seeds and other good stuff all in it). These, of course, would be added to the dry ingredients. And, you could always spike these with whatever spices are your favorite (dusting them over the top with the salt would work nicely).

Allow to cool and serve with cheese or eat however you like crackers best.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Do-It-Yourself Minor Surgery

I'll bet that post title reminds you of the days when we told kids to tie a string from their loose tooth to the doorknob and slam the door. Do we still do that sort of thing, or is that politically incorrect these days? I'll be needing to know in the next couple of years. I guess it can't be any worse than my father-in-law always telling the kids that "we might as well chop it off" whenever they get a little booboo they scream a little too much about.

So, what kind of minor surgery could a pregnant mother of two small kids be performing in her own home with a limited tool selection? Okay, don't get scared, Mom. I swear I wasn't using my sewing/knitting skills to give one of the kids some stitches after a fall. In fact, I just spliced a video tape back together. Lambchop #1 has taken to removing all the VHS tapes from their home in a drawer. This has caused Lambchop #2 to take a sudden interest in these objects. Half of them are now without boxes (or with mangled ones), and Lambchop #2 has apparently moved on to the second phase of his plans. Destruction! Luckily, it seems he had trouble fully unwinding the tape, so only a small portion was chewed up when he pulled.

After almost fully stripping the miniature screws (we probably couldn't perform this surgery a second time) with the only Philips-head screw driver I had in the house, I was able to pull out enough tape to Scotch-tape (scotcher is the verb in French) things back together and give it a try in the machine. It appears that our efforts were not in vain. In fact, the results are actually superior to the original tape itself, because we sacrificed a portion of the previews shown before the film. So, once again, Casper the ghost is our friend, and all is right with the world. Or, at least Lambchop #1 is happy to be able to watch it. She just loves a good scary movie (can you remember back when that would have scared you?).

On the knitting front, if we can even refer to what I've been doing lately as knitting...

I will warn you in advance that I've got pregnancy-induced ADHD. I can't sit still with one project long enough to do anything picture-worthy. I have played around with some stitch patterns in the Barbara Walker books my mom gave me for Christmas. That has yielded one lovely swatch and another one less lovely. Let's see. What else? No, that's pretty much it. Oh wait! I did wind a couple of skeins into balls with my new ball-winder. Great fun, but I'm going to wait till the swift arrives to do any more. I did sit down and weave in all the ends on my cashmerey cardigan. I also washed it, and it's now blocking. I hope to have it dry and a zipper in before Wednesday, when a nasty cold front is due in from Russia. We'll see if it actually happens (the zipper, not the cold frong). If it does, you'll get a picture, I'm sure.

Oh, and in case you're wondering what I do instead of knitting in my spare time, I cook, eat or think of food. I spend my days thinking about my next meals. I even had trouble falling asleep last night, because, apparently, the glass of milk I drank a bit before tucking myself in wasn't enough to hold me off till morning. I lay there for over half an hour calculating today's meals. Pathetic, I know, but the result was a delicious fish soup that is common in this area of France (I morphed several recipes into one, and it was delicious).

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Pass the Salt, Please.

Maybe some of you are starting to wonder what could be going on in my life that has rendered me so lazy that I only post a couple of times a week, and the posts are frequently pictureless. Well, I swear I've got an excellent excuse. Luckily, this time, it's not at all related to toddler vomit. Everyone here is quite healthy, actually. Even the soon-to-be newest member of our family seems to be doing just fine. Yep. That's right. My husband and I have decided to take one more trip down that road of parenthood and bring another life into this world. We'll meet the new little one in late August (harvest season, of course).

We're excited, but it's got me a bit tired. And, then there's the moodiness. Maybe emotional freakishness would be a better way of stating it. I have needed to cry quite a lot lately, but the cruel tears just tease me. They don't actually come. And, then they do. And, at most inappropriate moments. I've cried after watching only five minutes of news (granted, it was sad, but come on - five minutes?), during a kids' movie (Robots, if you're interested in the pathetic details), and while watching my husband interact with the kids.

It's starting to get a little out of hand, really. Just the other day, an old picture of my husband popped up. I looked at it for several moments, then looked at the now-him. He's still beautiful and surely always will be, but he has changed in subtle ways since the picture was taken 6 years ago. There are lines where there used to be none. There may or may not be a little more weight here and there (I'm not telling). Seeing these details made me realize that we are growing older. That's not what made me cry, though. It was actually the idea that we are growing old together that got me. I know. What a sap! But, somehow at that moment, it was such a sweet, meaningful realization to have come to.

On top of all the emotional ups and downs, I've got cravings. Nothing completely bizarre, though I've never had really strange cravings with any pregnancy. I've mostly been wanting lots of salads and salty foods. This is because salt and vinegar seem to settle my slightly nauseated stomach a bit (I could really go for a bag of Kettle - if I remember the brand right - salt and vinegar chips right about now) . And, I'm sure the light feel of green leafies doesn't hurt. I'm not into anything particularly heavy, and meat fills me with that sick, overstuffed feeling almost the moment I bite into it. Luckily for me, it's not the same at every meal, and I discovered today that beans don't do it, so that'll be my protein of choice for a while.

Well, it's time to tuck the kiddos in and decide on my after-dinner snack. Peanut butter and apples? Or perhaps an apricot milkshake? Oh, and could somebody please pass the salt?

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Lasagna Recipe

Since I haven't been posting very much lately (even though no one is sick in the house anymore), I thought I'd tried to throw in a little post tonight. I do apologize for the lack of posting lately, though. I swear I have good excuses everyday, but you probably don't care much about those.

Problem is, I don't have any pictures of my most-recent knitting. I'm a zipper and a collar away from having a finished cardigan. I'm really excited about that sweater, but I can't bring myself to come to a decision about the collar, so it just sits there. I may have made the collar a bit short, but I hate undoing a cast-off row and slipping stitches back on the needles. So, until I can decide if the collar is okay the way it is, the whole thing is in limbo. So, about an hour and a half of work is keeping me from cozy cashmere warmth. Pathetic, I know.

Then, there is the cute little sweater I'm currently knitting Lambchop #1 in some pink Knit Picks Merino Style. I'm really enjoying this yarn, and if it washes and wears as well as it knits, it's going to becoming a staple around here, I'm sure.

But, alas, no pictures of any of this.

So, intead, I offer you a recipe for lasagna. This delicious meal is brought to you by my ex-husband, who spent a year in cooking school in his youth and had a mom who really knew her way around a kitchen. So, who says exes aren't good for anything?

Over the years I've been using it, the recipe has changed a bit, so this is my version, but it's a pretty standard Lasagna recipe, I've found. The ricotta stuff you see in the US, though it can be tasty, just can't compare to the bechamel sauce, in my opinion. And, what's even more wonderful about the bechamel is that no weird ingredients are called for. Most kitchens are regularly stocked with butter, milk and eggs, whereas ricotta isn't necessarily always in the fridge. Bechamel sauce, by the way, is a wonderful thing to know how to make. It's what the French put on top of those yummy Croque Monsieur (ham and cheese) sandwiches before sprinkling with cheese and toasting in an oven. I'm not sure of the origin of this sauce, but my ex's mother, who is Catalan, always swore this was a Catalan sauce. To me, it doesn't much matter. It's just good. This recipe looks long, but really, it's not that complicated. My only complaint is that it dirties so many dishes, but it's so worth it.

Meat (or vegetarian) Sauce Ingredients:
Canned chopped tomatoes (two normal sized cans - sorry, I can't give the actually size, but you should get the idea - you could substitute with one of the jumbo cans)
1 onion, diced
1 garlic clove chopped or pressed
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sugar or some apple or white grape juice (yes, I'm serious - this corrects the acidity of the tomatoes)
1 lb. (1/2 kilo) ground beef
salt and pepper to taste
dash of cayenne pepper to taste
1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Directions for Sauce:
Heat oil in skillet. Sautée chopped onion on medium heat till almost tender. Add garlic and continue till onions are tender and transparent. Add, ground beef and salt and pepper to taste. Brown the meat. Then, add canned tomatoes, bay leaf, sugar, and vinegar. Allow to simmer on medium-low flame till tomatoes become saucy (I love me some saucy tomatoes!) and turn orange-red in color. Remove bay leaf, and add cayenne pepper if desired (just a dash of this gives an excellent flavor without much heat).

Note: For a vegetarian lasagna, you can substitute a variety of veggies for the meat. Eggplant, zucchini and bell peppers work well. Another variation would be to reduce the beef by half and add vegetables to have half meat/half veggies.

Bechamel (white) Sauce Ingredients:
1 tbsp butter or oil (if you're worried about cholesterol, try canola)
2 tbsp flour
two cups milk
salt and white pepper to taste
dash of nutmeg (freshly grated is tastiest)

Directions for Bechamel Sauce:
While meat sauce is simmering (but close to done), heat butter in medium sauce pan. Melt on low heat till bubbly but not browned. Add flour and whisk together. Immediately add milk and whisk till no lumps (or not many) are present. Heat, stirring constantly till mixture is thickened and bubbly. Add salt and pepper and sprinkle in some nutmeg. Set aside.

Assembly Ingredients:
Lasagna pasta (either you can get the no boil type and skip an annoying step or you can buy the real thing and boil them before assembly - if using the no boil pasta, the pasta cooks better in the oven with slightly more liquidy meat and bechamel sauces)
Meat (or veggie) sauce
Bechamel sauce
Parmesan cheese (grated)

Assembly Directions:
Place a layer of pasta (either preboiled or the no boil easy-bake kind) in the bottom of a bread pan (for a small but tall lasagna that feeds a family of four with salad or some other side dish) or a small casserole dish (for a flatter, larger lasagna for the same number of people). Pour a layer of meat sauce (just enough to cover the pasta) over the pasta. Add a layer of bechamel over the meat sauce. Continue in this order (pasta, meat sauce, bechamel) until you are out of sauces, making sure the bechamel is your top-most layer. Sprinkle grated parmesan over the top to cover.

Place in hot oven (like 375F, maybe - I can't be exact here, because my oven is a gas oven without temp settings). Cook till bubbly and browned (20-30 mins).

Serve with a salad and think nice thoughts of exes.

I really do apologize for the lack of yummy-looking pictures here, but I was so excited to eat the thing that I didn't even think to document its loveliness. It was lovely, though. Take my word for it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I Got Yer Button Right Here...

So, the button thing is slightly less exciting than I had hoped, but I guess it's a good enough way to celebrate the fact that I've been blogging for a year now. Oh, yeah. Did I forget to mention that? I don't remember the exact date, and since I'm too lazy to actually look, we'll just call it "a bit over a year" and be done with it. I think I started some time between October and December of last year. I know that's a largish window, but one thing I can be sure of is that I've passed the actual date, so it's fine to celebrate now.

And, why not do it with a button? We'll call this post the official unveiling. So, here's the thing officially unveiled:

This little guy/gal is our new mascot. He/she is currently nameless. Do I sense a contest in the future?

I'm thinking it's not quite right now that I see it on the net like this (Suffer from feelings of inadequacy lately?? Mmm Hmm. Shut up. Who needs your opinion?). Totally my fault, by the way. The artwork is all me. My husband just did the technical stuff of actually making it into a button. It looks great when it's all big, but tiny like a button's supposed to be, I think it's not quite right. Too much blank space behind it? The blog title on the scarf too small? What do you think? Suggestions will gladly be accepted. We can also send our husband back to the drawing board to fix things (okay, not really, but I kind of watched what he did, and I surely could mess with things a bit, too, right?). So, be honest here. How can we improve this button?

Oh, and I guess you're welcome to take it home with you to your own blog. Try to remember to play nice with others (namely me) and use your own bandwidth. Who knows how much bandwidth geocities (where I store it) actually allows you, but I'm pretty sure it's not never-ending.

And, since I just realized I never made an acceptance speech for Jenla's award ceremony (the one that brought you this button-making session)...

"I'd like to thank the academy... yada yada yada (eyes glaze over)... I'd like to thank Jenla for giving me the opportunity to be here... yada yada yada (audience starting to walk out)... but most of all, I'd like to thank my dear husband, Muttonchop. Without him none of this would have been possible. Literally (that's what they all say).

Button, Button, Who's Got the Button?

That is a pretty darn good question, actually. Unfortunately, it's not me. But, with any luck, and if we all cross our fingers (toes are probably not necessary at this point), I should have my very own button soon.

If you have no clue what I'm talking about, let me explain. First, what's a button? Look over to the right in that sidebar, and you'll see plenty. A very large example of a button is the Knit the Classics one over there. If you click on it, it'll take you to their webpage (do come back, though). See now why they're handy to have? If someone puts my button on their blog, it's like having free advertising to get people to come on over. And, why do I not have one? Well, it's a combination of things really (let the excuse-making commence!).

First, there's a lack of know-how. I'm not all too familiar with Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop (don't even have Photoshop, actually).

Then, there's a lack of equipment. Well, there was until very recently. See, long ago, I drew up some artwork to properly decorate this blog. I figured some day it would turn into something. Funny thing about that, though. It doesn't turn into anything on its own. Anyway, we just got a scanner, so the equipment issue was solved.

Then, there was the all-familiar lack of motivation, which Jenla tried to remedy by publicly ridiculing gently nudging me toward moving into the year 2006. "How did they do this?", you ask. These are powerful ladies (at least in the land of knit blogs). Each year they hold an award ceremony to ring in the new year and to celebrate what's fun in knitting blogs. There are all sorts of prestigious awards given, the most coveted of which is surely the one I received. That's right, I got the ever-popular "Blogs We'd Most Like to Pressure to Get a Button" award. I know. I know. I'm trying not to let it go to my head.

And, of course, to not offend the knitblog gods (because they surely have some kind of pull with the fearsome knitting gods), I've embarked upon the creation of a button. Actually, my husband has. I'm learning that this man truly is great to have around. Not only does he do some fine jerry-rigging of antique spinning wheels, but he also knows his way around Adobe Illustrator. Definite keeper.

So, let's cross our fingers for him, because he's almost done, and it's exactly what I wanted. Yay! Just you wait and see.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Proof Is In the Pudding

Here is the final photo in our Fixing Up An Old Spinning Wheel series. Go back and read the previous entries to see the progression up to this point.

On the right in this shot, you get a portion of the wheel/pulley thingamabob that came with the wheel. I'm not sure if it's an original part of the wheel or not. I'm not even sure how it would have worked if it were. All I know is it served our purposes just fine. This is actually the only part of the miscellaneous pieces that were on the top portion of the wheel that we kept (Colonel Mustard's lead pipe had to go). So, it became our whorl.

What you can't see under the yarn is another PVC pipe. It's approximately the correctly size to slip over this nob that juts out of the pulley device. The black electrical tape was thrown on in another desperate moment last night. I'm not even sure how to remedy this problem another way. I'll have to think it over (or just buy a few real bobbins).

Down on the other end, you see a plastic yogurt lid. They don't make yogurt containers like that here in France. So, this lid is an import. It snuck in with the kitchen stuff we brought from the US. I've yet to find the cup portion, but I guess it pays to not throw things that appear to be junk in the trash.

What you don't see on the other side of the yogurt lid (Brown Cow or Stoneyhill Farms brand, by the way - miss that stuff) is another little pulley device that my husband found at the hardware store. It's the only wheel-like object he could find with the perfect hole to fit the flyer's spindle. It also lends a bit of rigidity to the yogurt lid end.

Once again, you see some of that famous black electrical tape. This time it wasn't really out of desperation, I'm a little embarrassed to admit. I first tried super glue. That didn't hold, though. Guess what does. Yep, electrical tape. Who knew?

A few other uses for electrical tape we've found:

It comes in several colors. I've got green, black, red, and white, I think.

If you remember back to Halloween, the red tape made a nice little Red Cross to put on a white doctor's jacket for Lambchop #2. The white was perfect for a name label on the same costume.

Another wonderful use for the white tape is labeling electrical cords. All of our entertainment system cables are now labeled. It saves a great deal of time when you're trying to unplug a specific machine.

Anyway, as you can see the rehab ain't pretty, but it worked. I've actually spun up some yarn with it. I'm pretty happy with the results, too. I'm sure that an experienced spinner could pick it apart for flaws, but for my first try, it can't be that bad.

A Do-It-Yourself Job to Make Grandpa Proud

We've often joked that my recently-deceased grandfather was somewhat of a cheap do-it-yourselfer. Function far out-weighed aesthetics in his book. In fact, he was often heard using the phrase,"Just put some duct tape on it."

Well, Grandpa, I wish you were here to see what can be done with electrical tape, because it's not just for electricians. Seriously. Why, just look at how lovely our little bobbin/flyer apparatus turned out (yes, that's what's in the picture, in case you had some trouble identifying it).

The flyer was given to me (thank goodness, because no amount of tape and pvc pipe would have made that one). The rest, though, is all homemade. First, up front, you see a block of wood. My husband cut a little U shape in the top for the flyer to sit in. He attached this to a PVC pipe that slips over an original portion of the wheel. You can see where the black electrical tape came in handy in making sure it stayed in place. This was a desperate measure I was forced into while spinning last night. It'll be properly fixed later.

Then, just at the top of that block of wood, you see the flyer orifice and a black string and some light-colored fabric. That is my make-shift brake. Again, this was a desperate measure thing and will be properly affixed with nails later. For now, it works just fine, though.

Now let's move on to the next photo, where we can see the bobbin a bit better.

Colonel Mustard. In the Library. With the Lead Pipe.

Misc. Pieces
Originally uploaded by The Stitchin Sheep.
Okay, I don't know if this is really made of lead, but it's much more useful for a game of Clue than for spinning yarn. This, along with a funny little pully piece with a groove on it were supposed to look like a bobbin.

*Heavy Sigh*

The Flyer?

More Misc. Pieces
Originally uploaded by The Stitchin Sheep.
I'm not even sure what the guy thought you could do with this piece. It's part of some clockworks type mechanism, as far as I can tell. This is the rod he used to hold the "bobbin" in place.

Quaint, ain't it?

Something to Giggle About

Yeah, Sure.
Originally uploaded by The Stitchin Sheep.
I thought I'd post this to give all you spinners a little something to giggle about. If you've ever seen a spinning wheel up close, you'll know that this is NOT what they are supposed to look like.

As I believe I mentioned before, my brother-in-law got this wheel off of ebay for me. Its condition might not have been too bad, but there were some pieces missing. Funny thing is, the seller claimed it was fully-functional. And, apparently, to make it look the part, he threw on some extra pieces to make it look whole.

This is the entire "mechanism" (if you will) as it arrived in the mail.

I'll show some close-ups of some of the individual pieces just for fun.

Then, you'll get some shots of what we've done to it to make it work.

Friday, January 06, 2006

It Works! It Works! It Really, Really Works!

After much fiddling and lots and lots of... ummm, how shall we put this... unorthodox do-it-yourself fixing, the new-to-me spinning wheel actually works. It's got plenty of quirks, some of which will soon be fixed, but it makes real yarn and everything, so I can't complain. I've even got it making something reasonably fine, so we'll see how that works out after plying.

Photos will come when I can pull myself away from it long enough to take them and post them here.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Ugly Avatar

This ugliness brought to you by Yahoo! The idea itself was put out there by Jenla. It's great frivolous fun.

Yahoo! Avatars

That's My Kind of Gift!

Old Spinning Wheel
Originally uploaded by The Stitchin Sheep.
So, I've already mentioned that we draw names for the gift exchange in my husband's family. It's handy, since there are 4 siblings, plus the parents. You pretty much concentrate on getting a couple (or one) nice thing(s) for one person. Most of the time, it works out quite well for everyone involved. It saves time, and if you're lucky, and the person really thought out your gift, you really enjoy what you got.

Can anyone else tell I hit the jackpot this year? Look what I got! So, it's not new, and it's missing some pieces, but we're very hopeful we can remedy that. Months ago, I mentioned to my sister-in-law, who frequents antique/used furniture dealers (as well as other used object shops) to let me know if she ever saw a spinning wheel. I know they can be hard to get back to working order (if even possible), but I thought it may be worth the risk.

Well, months passed with no mention of a wheel. As it turns out, though, her husband drew my name. And, look what they found on ebay. I have no clue how old it is, and its bobbin and flyer were missing. I've been over to house to check her wheels out for comparison, and I think with a bit of ingenuity, we can make this thing work at least a little. It'll be a little moody, I suspect, but then, that's what you often get with crotchety old ladies, right?

You may also notice that there is a flyer up there. It's from Louise's Louet wheel. She gave it to me, and I must say that given the price of these things, it was extremely generous of her to do so. I do believe I'll have to do something to thank her.

So, there you have it, folks. A Christmas dream come true. Let's just hope we can get it rigged up to work. I'll be documenting the rigging, which should be interesting. You just never know what you're capable of when you're cheap enough to attempt making your own bobbins (because they don't just give those things away).

Reversible Striped Scarf

Wow! It sure has been a while since I last blogged. I wish I had some really exciting reason to give (like that we've been flying around the world with all of our jetsetting friends, celebrating the New Year in style on our private jet), but I don't. The truth is we've had all kinds of trouble with stomach viruses or something this last month. Lambchop #2 still isn't doing well, and I don't know if it's something other than a virus or just a virus that lasts extra long. Either way, he's having trouble getting over whatever it is. We've been to the doctor, taken in a poop sample and everything. Now we just have to wait for results.

All of this, along with the holiday rush amounts to an exhausted mommy (because waking up in the night with a vomiting toddler can really zap your energy level for the next day). So, as a result of all this, I've not been near the computer that much. I have been reading all the nice comments I've received. I'll definitely have to get around to making a little tutorial for the whole pants-tracing experiment that turned out so well. It's not at the top of my list, though, so just know it's on the list at least. And, thanks from those who wished us better health around here. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for that, too.

Other than all the mess I just talked about, our Christmas went pretty well. The kids were all very nicely spoiled by everyone. They enjoyed their gifts
and had a great time playing with their cousins. The person I gave a gift to (we draw names in this family) was my brother-in-law. I gave him a couple of things, one of which was this scarf. I actually did finish it on time, and I was very pleased with the results. It grew very nicely when blocked and ended up being very soft. Pretty much exactly what I'd hoped for.

Here it is being modeled by our dashing, if not slightly corny Muttonchop. You wouldn't believe how many shots it takes to get this man to stop acting like an idiot. You can still get a little glimpse of the goofy smirk, and he's sticking his gut out messing around. Goofball. Oh, how I love a man with a silly sense of humor (even if it makes for bad blog posts - I should actually post one of the dumb shots some day to teach him a lesson)!