Monday, March 31, 2008

Knit Thai Headdress, Take 2

The Tilden Park Scarf is an easy ruffled and ruched infinity scarf that adds a feminine touch to any outfit.


 I have a pattern written up and some friends are checking it over. Once they're done and I incorporate their suggestions, I'll release the pattern on Ravelry as a free .pdf file! Stay tuned...

ETA: My cat hat pattern is now available through Ravelry. If you're not on Ravelry and would like the pattern, email me and I'll send it to you. Don't forget to check out my other free patterns listed on the sidebar!

Friday, March 28, 2008

International Cat Hats, Thailand

Welcome to the first installment of International Cat Hats, the Thailand edition.


The Inspiration



The Plan



The Reality


Mr. Greaseball is a cultured cat. Although he hasn't been able to travel with us internationally, he has always been fascinated with different cultures and I oftentimes find him curled up on top of our travel guidebooks. Therefore, when the urge to knit a Thai headdress (chadaa) overwhelmed me, I could only think of one model. Yes, that's right: Greaseball.


Greaseball says "Sawatdee Khrab!" (hello) to Mingus.


Stay tuned for more International Cat Hats. You've been warned.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The quickest scarf in the world

This, my friends, is the quickest scarf in the world. It's a drop stitch scarf made from one skein of recycled sari silk.



This scarf could be yours! All you need to do is to donate $50 or more to Cintyu's team for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. She will be raffling off this scarf and either a hat or a scarf (winner's choice). Help kick breast cancer's ass! If you'd like to contribute a knitted/crocheted item, please email me or leave me a comment and I will be sure to give you the necessary information. Thanks in advance!

Mingus, ham that he is, can never resist a photo op. Since I was setting the timer on my camera, then running to pose, he thought this was a very good game for a malamute and he decided that he would hop along beside me as I ran. He's actually at my feet in the first photo.

Baaaaaahhhhh! What's that noise? Why, it's my very own flock of sheep!

Now that Easter notions are 75% off, I couldn't resist buying a flock of sheep. For those of you I see in person, expect a little sheepy goodness coming your way. These eggs are perfect for small items, like stitch markers, that would otherwise be swallowed whole by my knitting project bag. Don't ask how many I bought. It's embarrassing. Even more embarrassing is that I want to go back to buy more. They are so cute!

And what's this? Why, it's Greaseball and Fifty's personal supply of mice. Since they are the most stylish of cats, they have to store their mice in Ikea containers.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

This is a cover dog?

My vet sends us a free magazine. This month's issue features a GSD on the cover (see above), but that poor dog is either not photogenic or just despised the photo shoot! I'm sure that this dog just hasn't been furmiliated enough. Or maybe he just doesn't like being in a headlock.

Maybe the person photographed with the dog liked how she turned out in this photo better? It just struck me as odd that this was the featured pictures, especially when the person in this photo is oh so happy.

Tuesday Pictures

The boy and I were looking for birthday gifts for his mother and my father (stick with me here, there is a point). Conveniently,they share the same birthday, which means that we have no excuse whatsoever to forgot about March 19th. This year's birthday theme was wind chimes! While we found one that my father would like, we couldn't quite find the perfect one for his mother. The boy decided that he would make the perfect one for her.


He made her this wind chime out of bicycle gears and fishing line. It has a very pleasant sound that isn't jarring to the ears like other chimes. I was sad when we had to pack it up and take it over to her, but perhaps I can convince the boy that we need one for our house.

There's something so sweet about a grown man making his mother a birthday gift.

My washcloth swap partner finally received my package, so now I can reveal to the world (all 3 of you) what I sent!

These garterlac dishcloths by Criminy Jickets were so fun to make, and they worked really well with all my variegated cotton yarn, of which I have tons. I've told my friends to not let me buy variegated yarn anymore! However, since I revert to a five-year-old when faced with a wall of yarn ("Ooooh! Look at the pretty colors!), I'm not sure how long I can hold out. I gave my swap partner the blue washcloth, and also sent her this one:

It's the Round Dishcloth by Amy Carpenter. I plead the 5th on whether or not I ran out of orange yarn.

Last week, I decided that my cousin's twins really needed matching beanies, so I knit a tomato hat to go with the finished eggplant hat. Twins everywhere in the world are shaking their heads in disappointment, for I'm sure this matching thing can get old really fast. These twins were also born the day after Christmas, so not only do they have to share their birthdays, but they'll have their birthdays overshadowed. Hey, but at least they'll have each other to commiserate with.



This past weekend, we drove to Lake County to eat ham. The boy's parents have an amazing garden, so I played with my camera and they wondered why I was crawling around on their lawn. Their bulbs are all abloom. And so were my sinuses.



Some of their flowers were dying while the plants were getting ready for new growth. Again, I don't know why I'm fascinated with dying flowers.

A cool water drain.
The dogs couldn't escape from my lens, try as they might.


Oops, I thought I uploaded the picture where Mingus was smiling nicely for the camera. I guess not.


And on this goofy note, it's time to say goodbye.

Monday, March 17, 2008

I have the bestest swap partner!

Look at what I got in the mail today...

Two amazing washcloths from the bestest swap partner in the world, bdiddydog! These are the ballband dishcloth and the Mason-Dixon washcloth from Mason-Dixon Knitting. The Mason-Dixon washcloth can also fold into a fortune cookie. I love the colors that she chose, too. They totally brighten up my kitchen.

I promised her I'd use them, and I am dreading it. Why? They're too pretty to be functional!

In addition to the eye candy dishcloths, she also threw in some bonus goodies. Lemony soap and a Hershey sheep egg!


I have already snarfed the chocolate kisses from the sheep and have filled her ("her" because of her eyelashes, although that's a faulty standard to use since the boy's eyelashes are twice as long as mine) with knitting notions. I lurve her! And, I am going to find some more of her for prizes for my blog contest! More details to follow...

Vespa had the privilege of modeling one of the washcloths. Again, her exuberance jumps through the screen. (Heh, even though I see Vespa's face almost everyday, I still get giggly over her ginormous ears.)


Greaseball decided that he and the sheep were best buds. It probably helped that the sheep had rattly innards. That cat is a sucker for any toy that rattles, which is why we need to keep our pill bottles stashed safely away.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

It's baby season...

And that means only one thing around here: baby hats! My cousin had twins a couple of months ago and their "We're finally out!" party is coming up. I found just the perfect patterns for the twinsies, and voilĂ ! Two days later, I had a pair of hats for a pair of babies.

The first hat is from the tomato baby beanie from Knitchicks. It's a great free pattern that can be adapted for all different sorts of fruits and vegetables. I decided to do an eggplant spin on this hat, using Tahki Cotton Classic yarn.


The second cute hat has an Easter theme, something that should hopefully motivate me to get my butt to the post office to send these off soon. It's from my favorite baby hat book: Itty-Bitty Hats by Susan B. Anderson. The pattern is Bunny Tails and I knit it using Blue Sky Cotton. This cotton yarn knits like a cloud, but boy does it pill. This hat turned out a wee bit large despite my gauge swatching, but not so large that the kid will be 12 before he fits it. (The ears on this hat are really the same size - this picture just makes them look wonky.)


Since these kids are twins, one boy and one girl, I'm debating making them another fruit cap. Perhaps a red one so they look like a tiny tomato and a tiny eggplant. I can save the bunny hat for another baby boy who will probably fit it. Decisions, decisions...

You can find more details on my hats on my Ravelry project page. Are you not on Ravelry yet? Well, what are you waiting for?!?

My dogs were quite the reluctant models today. Perhaps they feel that they are above modeling baby hats. Well, they're wrong. So long as I have to feed them, walk them, and pick up their poop, they are not above modeling baby gear.

Vespa couldn't be more bored with the camera. "Been there. Done that!"

Mingus was in pure denial that he has been reduced to modeling a hat with bunny ears on it. He wouldn't keep his head straight, so I just plunked the hat on the side of his head. He's practicing his "I don't give a crap" look.


Gee, life is so hard when someone feeds you, picks up your poop, and lets you sleep all day.

Remember the case of the missing needles? Since then, I decided that all the straight needles had to be in the same place. My solution is this:

It makes a lovely center piece.

Hm, what else? Oh, I've been tagged for a meme by Kathleen and A Bag of Olives. She also gave me a smacky "Mwah!" award. How sweet!


So, here are the rules for this meme:

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.


1. I don't follow rules well, and I'm going to ignore rules 3 and 4. If you'd like to participate, tag! You're it!

2. I am under 5 feet tall.

3. I spent 3 weeks bicycling through central China with the boy.

4. I'm an indoor rock climbing junkie. Seriously.

5. I still keep in touch with my pen pal from the 4th grade. She's in Indiana and she has 3 kids now.

6. Originally, I wanted to name Greaseball "Graphite". It didn't stick.

7. I played the viola for 10 years.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

How to Make Sauerkraut (Choucroute)

Before my fateful trip to Alsace, I didn't think much about the lowly cabbage and I certainly didn't think much about sauerkraut. Sauerkraut was the stuff I picked off my hot dog. It was the rubbery white stuff that was always too tangy, too salty, or just too weird for me to eat. Then, I was lucky enough to spend 2 weeks in Alsace, where cabbage is king. Just look at this dish, choucroute garnie:
The woman who owned our guest house made this memorable dinner for us. Okay, I'll admit that it doesn't look like the most delicious thing ever, but it is - don't be fooled by its humble appearance! It is basically a casserole layered with choucroute (sauerkraut), liver dumplings, and sausages. The choucroute was unlike any sauerkraut I had before: it was only mildly sour and it still had hints of green, both in appearance and taste.

When I returned to the States, I just had to eat more sauerkraut. However, store bought sauerkraut was just as awful as I remembered it, which meant that my only choice was to make it myself.

Making sauerkraut seemed relatively simple, the real stuff is just cabbage and salt, but I was skeeved out by the fermenting vessel. Most instructions I read talked about making your 'kraut in a plastic bucket with a pillowcase over it. Yuck. Those same instructions talked about how it is important to monitor your 'kraut and to skim off any white scum that floats to the top. Double yuck.

Enter the Harsch crock. Although wonderful sauerkraut can be made without it, it made a lot less scary to have this tool on my side since it eliminates the "skim off the white scum" step that it is most 'kraut recipes.

Are you interested in tasting what real sauerkraut? Unless you have an awfully good supplier in your neighborhood, tasting fresh sauerkraut means making it yourself. So, here's my method for making tasty 'kraut. You can click on the pictures if you would like to see a larger image.

Tools you'll need:
  • Knife
  • Cutting board
  • Kitchen scale
  • Food processor with a slicer blade (not necessary, but a huge time saver)
  • Crock and weight stones
  • Masher (I use a French rolling pin)
  • Pen and paper
  • Calculator

Ingredients:
  • Cabbage
  • Kosher or sea salt

Start with green cabbages. In my neighborhood, I can find organic green cabbage at Monterey Market and El Cerrito Natural Foods. Pick cabbages that seem unusually heavy when you pick them up. Give them a good rinse in the sink and let them dry.


Next, use the knife to halve, and then quarter, each cabbage on the cutting board. Use the cabbage's core as its centerline. Once the cabbage is quartered, you can easily cut out its core.

Weigh the cabbage and write down this number. You'll need it later when you have to calculate the needed amount of salt.

Slice the cabbage using the thinnest slicer blade on your food processor (a mandolin or even a knife can be used instead to slice the cabbage).

Now, it is time to calculate how much salt you'll need. Grab that piece of paper with the cabbage's weight. What you're going to do is to calculate 2% of that weight. This resulting number is how much salt you'll add to your cabbage. For example, if you have 1000 grams of cabbage, you'll need 20 grams of salt because 1000 g X .02 = 20 grams. Use the scale to measure your salt.

Here comes the fun part! First, put a layer of salt on the bottom of the crock, and then place a layer of sliced cabbage. Repeat until the salt and cabbage is all in the crock.


Pick up that stick, channel your teenage angst, and mash that cabbage!


As you mash, liquid from the cabbage will release, resulting in a satisfying "walking through the mud with rain boots" sound.


Since I like to ferment around 8 pounds of cabbage at a time, I repeat these steps a few times until my 7.5 liter crock is at capacity.

When your crock is full, place the weight stones on top of them. They should press down on the cabbage with enough force for the stones to be submerged.

Stick the lid on your crock, fill the gutter with water (if your crock has one), and let it sit in a cool, dry place. The temperature in my house fluctuates between 55-65 deg F, and at this temperature, it takes 4 weeks for my sauerkraut to be ready to eat. Once I like the consistency and taste of my sauerkraut, I store it in the refrigerator to slow down the fermentation process.

Enjoy! If you have any questions or make this using these instructions, please let me know in the comments section.

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