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Monday, October 21, 2013

Three By Three Cable Cowl--finished two of them for The Grandmother Project

In the interest of finishing up current projects so I can get on with Christmas knitting, in the early morning no-sleeping-hours, I finished the second Three by Three Cabled Cowl.  It is knit in Queensland Collection Llama Soft Cotton, a yarn which has a put-up of 273 yards in a 100 gram ball and which is 80% cotton and 20% Baby Llama.  It was made in Argentina for KRI.  This yarn is lovely and soft, though at the end of the ball there were multiple areas where there seemed to be some dried glue on the strand of yarn.

This knitting was for The Grandmother Project at the White River Yarns shop where scarves and cowls are being knit for a group of grandmothers in Africa.  This is sort of a "sisters project" because these grandmothers are part of the Tuko Pamoja group and make beautiful baskets and other things for sale to help provide for their families.  To learn more about this group, click here.  Some of their baskets are, or will be, on sale at White River Yarns.  Also they will be at the Christmas Market with a Difference at the Church of Christ in Hanover, NH  Thursday, 7 November to Saturday, 9 November 2012.

This was a rather fun knit project, though when I put down the knitting to sleep and picked it back up, there were times when I started at the wrong row...out of 8 rows in the pattern! SO, there are a few creative spots on the cowl which is about 20 inches long in total.

The knitting was done on size US 7 needles with 33 stitches cast on.  The first and last 6 stitches of each row are knit.

The picture above shows where the buttonholes are at the end of the piece.  Some kind person has donated buttons to the White River Yarns shop so I am hoping someone will sew them on.

The skein of yarn I used made two cowls, with about 12 inches of yarn left over!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Homemade Laundry Soap

Last year M made some laundry soap from a recipe she found online.  She sent us a package with several loads' worth of soap.  It was very well received here.

Ingredients for one batch of homemade laundry soap
Over the last month or so, I have been collecting the various ingredients for the soap.  The Oxy Clean generic was harder to find.  The Dollar Store did not have it in stock the day I was there so I went to Family Dollar and found it...quite a bit more expensive than $1.00 per box!

To make this soap you need six ingredients:  20 mule team Borax--76-ounce box, 3 bars Fels Naptha soap, Washing Soda--55-ounce box, Baking Soda--2 cups, 2 containers Dollar Tree "Oxyclean"-40-ounces in each box, and Purex Fabric Sofener Crystals--28-ounce container.

Fels Naptha soap, grated in Cuisinart
In your food processor, or with a box grater, finely grate the three bars Fels Naptha soap.  In a 5-gallon bucket lined with a double (or preferably, triple) layer of kitchen wastebasket trash bags, pour in all the ingredients, starting with the Borax and ending with the grated Fels Naptha soap.  Mix well with your hands then close the garbage bags and swish back and forth until the mixture is completely homogenized.

Use 2 Tablespoons of soap mixture per load of clothes.  I found that the little scoop in the Family Dollar (the Dollar Tree was out of Oxyclean when I stopped there...) Oxyclean was just 2 Tablespoons so I can use that as a measure for each load of laundry.
Combined ingredients in triple garbage bags in 5-gallon bucket

Because I was making this soap as a demo for a "Family Preparedness Night" at our women's organization at Church,  I printed up labels with the ingredients and "Use 2 Tablespoons per load" on them, which I affixed to some zipper-top snack bags which I then filled with one-quarter cup of soap so the ladies can run two loads of laundry to see if they want to make this themselves.  It is supposedly less than $30 to make this batch.  I made up 30 snack bags which equals 60 loads of laundry and have A LOT left in my bucket.  It may just be a year's worth of laundry soap!

 Happy cleaning!

Fall Sweaters....Completed

Last year I started sweaters for E and C.  I had promised them the year before. I wanted to knit them on my Bond Incredible Sweater Machine.  I had made one several years ago for little L and found it enjoyable.  A couple of Christmases ago I made then for G, A, and L.  Finally I got started last year.

Cardigan knit on the Bond, from Yates' Farm Bartlettyarn in red and blue
In September I finished the red and blue one except for putting in the zipper.  Last weekend I was sick and did not want to share my germs with the brothers and sisters at Church so I stayed home.  I spent a couple or three hours that afternoon at the Bond and finished the front and back of the blue and green sweater.

Still not in good shape physically, I did not sleep well last night so I spent the time finishing the blue and green sweater then inserted the zipper in the red and blue sweater.
Pullover knit on the Bond in blue and heather green from Yates Farm Bartlettyarns

I have just sent an email to children to see what my Christmas knitting project should look like.  Normally I make a pair of mittens for everyone.  I decided to ask what was actually wanted this year!  New strategy....We shall see what tickles the fancy for 1.5, 4,4,4, 6,8,8,10, and 16 year olds. I look forward to knitting what they would like.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Lilae Shawl Adventure

The White River Yarns shop sometimes invites people to knit samples for them.  This time the samples were shawls.  The pattern Karen gave me is Xale Lilae (Lilae Shawl) along with some lovely soft cotton yarn, which yarn I cannot name as she was kind enough to wind for me. I did not think to ask for the ball bands.

When I saw the pattern my stomach clenched!  I am not much of a lace knitter but I decided that I could give it a try.  Since I was going to be spending two weeks in Maine mostly by myself I was sure it would work to finish it in October as requested.

For ages I have wanted to get a music stand to use to hold my patterns at eye level. Now was the time!  I went to Blue Mountain Guitar and met a very nice man who had just what I needed at a very good price:  $14.95!

Music Stand from Blue Mountain Guitar
  I then went to Joann Fabrics and Crafts and found two magnetic pattern holders to put on the music stand. I needed two of them because the pattern for Lilae was two pages long horizontally.
Magnetic pattern holders with magnets, plus homemade long magnet from magnetic tape for very sturdy long magnet.

Here is Chart Two from the Lilae Shawl pattern installed on the music stand and magnetic holders. The hardware works like a charm, particularly with the long heavy magnetic strip I made with some magnetic tape and scraps of fabric.  It would have looked better if I had used some nice scrapbooking paper instead of the fabric scraps, but...I did not have any at the time.

The shawl was fun to knit, after a fashion!  When it was going well, it was great.  When I had to start over, again and again and again, it was not so fun.  When it was two-thirds done, I discovered an impossible error way back there, so I tore it all out once again, and started one last time.
One motif left of center

Left Front end, with crochet bind-off visible

Top Central Medallion with Nupps

It was interesting to learn how to do a crochet bind-off as the pattern instructed.

Even though I knit the entire thing more than once, and most of the rows, or portions of the rows, many times,  it still looks kind of nice.  When I turned it in to the yarn shop there were a group of knitters there, perhaps in a class, and when they found it was a sample, one of them said, "You won't even get to wear it!"  Not a problem, no way!  It was great experience and I learned a ton, but it is not my taste in shawls.  Actually, I don't know what IS my taste in shawls, but I will know it when I see it.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Icelandic Sheep Fleece Project

Blurry Icelandic Sheep from Apple Sauce Farm
While in Rangeley, Maine last week I was able to acquire a fleece from an Icelandic sheep.  This is a breed of sheep that has a double coat:  inner soft fluffy down, and outer longer more "fiberous" locks.  From what I have heard from the lady who sold the fleece, as well as looking around on the internet, it appears that there will be a lot to learn from preparing this fleece for spinning!

Unskirted Icelandic Fleece October 2013
Before even starting the cleaning process I have to decide if I want to spin the thel (soft undercoat) and the tog (soft, strong outer coat) separately or together.  To make clothing items for next to the skin, choosing to spin the soft undercoat separately is a good idea.  To make a nice laceweight yarn, the tog would be a good idea.  OR if I want to spin up some Lopi-like yarn for a nice cardigan, spinning them together is the ticket.  We shall see.

Since C wants to come to our house for some spinning help, I thought perhaps she would like to work on the process from start to finish, so I will probably only do a little playing around with the fleece for now.  I have already pulled off a little batch and soaked in in cold water for 30 minutes instead of washing it in hot soapy water.  It is amazing how dirty the water is after this process.  The fiber is now drying.  By tomorrow it will be ready for carding.  I might do a tiny sample of separate and even tinier sample of combination.
Tog, Rangeley Icelandic Apple Sauce Farm
Thel, Rangeley Icelandic Apple Sauce Farm
Second cuts...not something to spin

Monday, October 7, 2013

Danger, Danger, Danger---Scotch Bonnet Peppers

So, you learn something every day.  OR you SHOULD learn something every day.  Yesterday and today I learned MORE about Scotch bonnet peppers.

In Rangeley at the IGA there was a big styrofoam plate of small round peppers.  I did not know what they were but wanted some peppers to go with some refried beans and tortillas.  I asked a woman who was near the peppers if they were hot peppers.  She said she did not know...so, since there were about 20 peppers for 99 cents, I purchased them.

When we got home from the IGA, I capped one of them, sliced off a little piece and put it in my mouth.  Well, I did not actually put it in my mouth, when the pepper touched my bottom lip, I KNEW I had made a mistake!  So spicy it hurt. I am not a person who likes to throw away anything I have spent hard-earned money to buy, so I left the rest of the peppers there on the counter.  When we packed up to come back to Vermont, I put the peppers in the cooler.

Last night I decided to dry the peppers since a male friend with whom I was discussing hot peppers told me his wife dried their hot peppers and froze them.  Sounded good, to I capped them, sliced them, seeded, them, and dried them. I put them in a couple of cute little glass jars and stored them in the freezer. 

Scotch Bonnet peppers, oven-dried
After washing up and putting the compost on the porch waiting for morning, I went about my business.  Later on I was finishing a few emails before getting ready for bed, I reached up to rub my sleep-itchy eyes.  BIG MISTAKE!  Man, did they ever sting!  I washed my hands again...you can be sure.

This morning I hopped into the shower and as I turned my face up into the lovely warm stream of water I rubbed my eyes with those same hands.  INSTANT BLINDNESS!  I could not believe it.  I had already washed my hands multiple times.  Eventually the burning blindness disappeared and I was able to go about my business.

Tonight, now twenty-four hours later,  I was having a discussion with Dear One, and was very touched by something that he had read to me.  When I reached up to wipe the tears from my eyes, you guessed it!  More stinging pain!  TWENTY-FOUR HOURS LATER!  After many many hand-washings...

So, when the smart people on the internet and other places suggest using kitchen gloves when working with peppers,  I believe I will do it in the future, especially if I do not know the breed of pepper.  Others might want to learn from my mistake.
Closer picture of dried and frozen Scotch Bonnet peppers.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Rangeley Vacation-Day Four

Today we started late and ate leftovers for breakfast (pizza and Reuben--got to get back on the vegan wagon tomorrow because I am feeling less human after three days of eating non-vegan.  Very surprising.) and mostly just relaxed today.

Many rows of knitting finished, then off to the ice cream social where we each had one small dish of vanilla ice cream with strawberries, chopped nuts, chocolate syrup, and whipped cream.  Dear One made a walking tour of the whole facility while I went to look for The Shed where there were some German sausage and Kraut Specials advertised for Oktoberfest.

Sadly, I could not find The Shed but I DID find Threads Galore.  Very nice people.  There were several items I could not walk out without, including some absolutely darling note cards, which I bought.  I also bought an 8 by 8 rotating cutting board.

After Threads Galore I went to The Red Onion again and purchased some cheese-y fries and some sweet potato fries.  They were very good.  After that I burned some frozen mixed vegetables.  So glad the smoke detector was far away!  Dear One was not as thrilled with the mixed vegetables. I had been knitting and failed to set the timer.  Oops!

As I was about to get up from the computer to get back to the final 10 rows of knitting which I am committed to finish tonight, J called and gave me the help I needed to use Sibelius 6 on my computer.  I have spent an excessive amount of time putting in the notation for "Now the Day is Over" for our Class Song for Saturday's 45th high school reunion.  I started a second time because I could not figure out how to have only four bars per line instead of 10 bars per line.  Enough for tonight. MUST DO THE KNITTING!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Rangeley Vacation-Day Three

There were still a few stems of kale in the bag so today I made some kale chips.  I did not add any extra salt which made them taste better.
Kale Chips....really yummy.
Today is a day for lots of knitting.  As it happens I awoke at 3:30 AM and worked until 6:30 AM on the shawl.  Still am sure I will not get it finished today, but maybe tomorrow.

Vegetable soup for my breakfast, with some pinto beans on top.  Omelet with mixed vegetables and mozzarella for Dear One.

After a couple of hours of "White Collar" he headed out to hike another mountain and I continued on the knitting.  As of this writing I have gotten through row 18 on the second chart which goes to Row 48.  Having taken off an hour for blogging and emailing, I am back to knitting.  After a while I hope to go for a walk around the circle and on down to the lake.

Dear One hiked to Piazza Rock on the Appalachian Trail and came home a happy sweat hog.  He was ready for some Red Onion pizza so I ordered some when I went to the library to pay my fee for the garlic class I attended last night.  There had been no indication on the signage that a fee was going to be charged so I had gone cash-free to the class.  The librarian took my fee out of petty cash and hoped I would be honest and come pay. 

While the pizza was cooking,  I went to the IGA and purchased Reuben sandwich ingredients. Yes, the Reuben at Red Onion was good, but I thought I could make more than one for the same price.  This proved to be true...

The knitting progressed to almost half done the second chart (working on Row 21 of 48 when I stopped for a walk) when it seemed a good time to walk around the loop.  I discovered that nearly all the cabins are inhabited this week.  The walk was lovely with a light breeze blowing and lovely clouds in a blue sky.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Rangeley Vacation-Day Two

Today was a big day!  First thing upon arising I made some fabulous vegetable soup which I had for breakfast, though Dear One ate his regular hard-boiled egg. 

Because we had read that there was a  Farmers' Market  in town on South Shore Drive which we had already scoped out yesterday, off we went.  I had recently watched a Mabel Ross wool spinning video and was edgy to find a fleece to comb with the dog comb I found.  I was hoping to find a sheep farmer at the market.

When we pulled up to the market we found five tent and five farmers. ONE OF THEM HAD A FLEECE ON HER TABLE!!!  So exciting. I made a beeline to her and asked a few questions.  She has Icelandic sheep, which have a two layer  coat.  She showed me her combs.  I think they were Louet mini combs.  Either way, they were single row teeth.  I had seen some at Halcyon Yarn in Bath, Maine when I was there two weeks ago. Seeing Joan using them with her Icelandic fleece made me wish I had gotten a pair...until I looked them up online and saw the price.  The dog comb was only ten dollars and will probably work.

Joan was willing to sell me an unskirted fleece for twenty dollars if I would come to her farm later in the afternoon.  Dear One was agreeable so we made it a plan.  Now we were free to look at the other tables.  There was some great -looking kale right next door so I filled a bag which turned out to be $2.35-worth. I was reminded of the giant armful of collards we bought in North Carolina when we were there last fall which cost  $3.00!!

Easy part of Bald Mountain Trail
After the farmers market off we went to hike the Bald Mountain Trail.  We both went: Dear One went all the way to the top.  I went up a few minutes and then came back and sat in the truck knitting on a neckwarmer I am making for the Grandmother's Project and spent the time listening to a Steve Havill detective story.

After the hike we went back to the cabin where I did a bit more knitting on the shawl then headed out alone to the Apple Sauce Icelandic Farm to choose a fleece.  I got a quick tour of the sheep and goats.

Blurry Icelandic Sheep

Mini Goat with lovely gray coat
Home again to more knitting, then off to  the Rangeley Library where there was a presentation on growing garlic in Maine.  I figured we had a similar climate so we could grown them in our garden.  Good presentation.  Dave really knows his stuff.  At the end of the evening he handed out bags of garlic bulbs to plant!  It turns out this is the perfect time for planting garlic so next week when we get home, out with the old garden and in with the prep for next spring!

On the way home from the library I stopped at The Red Onion for take-out onions and Reuben sandwich, which were very nice.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Rangeley Vacation-Day One

We slept very well in the queen room on the main floor of the cabin.  There is a master suite upstairs which is really nice but not being a fan of long stairways, we satisfied ourselves with the queen room, using the twin room as an extra dressing room.

The kitchen is large and very well provisioned.  They even supplied salt and pepper as well as plastic wrap and aluminum foil!  Plenty of cooking utensils and pots.  By far it is the best set-up we have found in resort kitchens.  We will use it to the fullest extent probably.

We did go to the coffee party and found there were warm cinnamon buns and blueberry muffins to go along with orange juice and hot chocolate.  While happily munching we met a lovely young family with twin girls about 2-2 1/2 years old.  The little girls were full of personality and opinions!  Delightful to watch.  Glad we could want and not manage!

After the party we went to the IGA to pick up a very few groceries, including a very inexpensive cheese pizza, then off we went to do a little exploring in the area.  We took the South Shore Drive around the lake then turned south on Route 17 to go to Height of Land which we had heard had a wonderful view.  We found this to be completely true.  Unfortunately we did not either one of us have a camera in the truck.  No problem: we will come another day.

We then went to see where the Appalachian Trail crosses Route 4, and did find it.  Dear one is considering a hike along the Trail, but will decide later in the week.

We ate the pizza with green peppers and sliced black olives for supper along with some bean burritos after I had spent a couple of hours knitting on the lace shawl I am knitting for White River Yarns. It is due the end of October but I am hoping to finish it this week.

Vacation in Rangeley, Maine

Having just completed a two-week course in Lifestyle Choices at Parkview Adventist Medical Center in Brunswick, Maine (more on this later!), I came home for two days then we were off on part of our vacation for this year.  {Just before I went to Parkview Bob had scheduled a time share exchange at the Rangeley Lake Resort.}

Sunday after Church we headed north on I-91, picked up Route 2 East then changed to Route 16 which took us to Main Street in Rangeley about four hours later.  The first half of the trip was in glorious sunshine where we enjoyed the gorgeous fall weather.  By 7 PM it was very dark and we dropped our speed a bit as the road was VERY curvy and felt narrow with the trees right up to the road when there were not rivers or lakes next to the road.

We were grateful that the small very light-colored deer we saw were not interested in crossing Route 16.  There was one first, then many miles later three more-two on one side of the road and one on the other.  Those guys were not sure what they were going to do as we approached but then made the right decision and headed away from us.  We saw a red fox, which did cross the road but far enough ahead that there was no problem, and a possible gray fox--it was larger than the red fox but not as large as a coyote would have been, so we decided it was a gray fox. 

We enjoyed that wildlife but having had the moose hit several years ago, and noticing all the signs which said, "Brake for Moose.  It could save your life.  HUNDREDS OF COLLISIONS" every few miles, we were very watchful.  About ten miles out of Rangeley Bob said, "Moose!", and there he was, walking down the edge of the road, heading towards Rangeley, too!  Large, dark, with a huge rack.  That really helped the sluggish blood pick up speed and start rushing through our (or at least, MY) veins.

We arrived at the resort just minutes before they closed the office for the night.  We picked up our keys, a binder of info, and a map, plus an invitation to a coffee party the next morning. 

We had no problem finding our cabin, though the entrance had a "speed bump" over the culvert at the end of our driveway.  Hopefully we will not need to make a fast getaway any time soon!

Cupsuptic Cabin