Rhymes With Fuchsia

Friday, October 29, 2010

All Squares, All the Time

In between Ten on Tuesday posts, I have been knitting, not that you would know it. It's Pine Street Inn Knit-A-Thon season once again, and I am squaring up, so to speak, to participate.

The truth is that I really enjoy making squares. They are finite by nature, just a little bigger than the standard swatch, and I like to try out different patterns. This year's discovery is crochet seed stitch, aka granite stitch. I used it for the red square and the purple square in the middle. I'm not a huge fan of lacy crochet stitches or granny squares for blankets, because my toes poke through the holes and get cold, but this stitch is a solid as can be. It's dead easy, too:
Chain an odd number.
Setup row: Sc in second ch from hook, *ch 1, sk 1 ch, sc in next ch.
Row 1: Turn, ch 1 (turning ch), sc in ch sp, *ch 1, sk 1 ch, sc in next ch sp, end sc, sc in turning ch.
Row 2: Turn, ch 2 (turning ch plus ch 1), sc in ch sp, *ch 1, sk 1 ch, sc in next ch sp.
Repeat rows 1 and 2.

I've seen this pattern given as just one row, but actually there are two: in row 1 the first chain space is next to the turning chain and in the turning chain at the other end; in row 2 you ch 1 and skip that stitch from the previous row. I really like the way it looks; I plan to use it for a Red Scarf, which will be next up after squaremania ends with the Knit-A-Thon.

So, want to help? Of course you do. The Knit-A-Thon will take place at the State House on November 7, a week from Sunday, from 11 to 4. (Yes, the State House, the thing on Beacon Hill with the gold dome. I vaguely recall being inside it about a thousand years ago on a school field trip. I think it's a pretty cool place for a knit-a-thon.) It is actually not a Knit-A-Thon at all, but an assemble-a-thon, where we put all the squares everyone has made together as gifts for Pine Street Inn clients moving into supportive housing.

If you don't live around here or you're busy next Sunday, I give you option B: my fundraising page. Any donation of any size is deeply appreciated. Want to donate by the square? I have ten so far, with another one on the needles. I'm betting I can make at least another five.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

Ten Ways to Have Fun on Halloween


It just dawned on me that I'm going to miss Ten on Tuesday if I don't get myself in gear. Lately all my gears have been moving very slowly due to a nasty cold, but I'll do my best.
  1. Carve pumpkins. These days some pretty amazing pumpkin templates are available online. I prefer the old-fashioned jack o'lantern myself, but then I am... old-fashioned.
  2. The day after Halloween, chuckle evilly as you cannibalize the pumpkins for pie.
  3. Buy too much candy you like. When half of it is still there at the end of trick-or-treating, sigh heavily and say you might as well eat it, don't want it to go to waste. I try to pursue the opposite strategy of buying popular candy that I don't happen to like, but you never know when something may jump into your cart. Oddly enough I have the same problem with a certain online yarn vendor. (There was no chance that I wasn't going to link that. Really now.)
  4. Bake cookies. A couple of months ago I happened across a bat cookie cutter, and promptly bought it, of course. If this cold stops kicking me around I may actually use it.
  5. Change one detail of your appearance, such as the location of the part in your hair, and watch people squint at you as they try to figure out what's different.
  6. Wear something orange, especially if you never wear orange. This is more difficult if, like me, you don't own anything orange.
  7. Sing along with "Monster Mash" really loud whenever it comes on the radio, especially while driving your teenager and her friends to a party.
  8. Create a soundtrack of scary noises, such as creaks, groans, bloodcurdling shrieks, and political commercials.
  9. Train your black cat to assist you in greeting trick-or-treaters. This is easier (but not much) if you have at least one black cat.
  10. Wear an odd getup that may or may not be a costume. Smile mysteriously when people ask what you're supposed to be.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

Ten Things in My Freezer Right Now

This should be rather interesting, that is writing it should be rather interesting, because I didn't actually look in my freezer before I left for work this morning, so I can't name with certainty everything that's in it.
  1. Ice. Let's get the madly boring stuff out of the way first. Our fridge has an icemaker and a little chute through which you can dispense ice without opening the door. I used to think icemakers were unbelievably bourgeois, but the fact that you don't have to open the freezer to 1) take the ice-cube trays out 2) put them back in full of water 3) take them out again to (if possible) get the ice out and put it either in your drink or the ice tray, which with luck you took out at the same time, must count for something.
  2. Cold packs. These are a wonderful invention, although freezing bottles of water and putting them in with your beer or your sandwich works too.
  3. Chicken. I'm not sure what part of the chicken, but I know there's some in there because there always is.
  4. Packed lunches for me. These usually consist of lentils and rice, two things that are nutritious, especially if eaten together, on the list of things I'm officially allowed to eat, easy to make, and, last but not least, cheap. I may or may not have mentioned that we are in the midst of major house repairs, have been since that big rainstorm at the end of March, actually, when a leak in a window led to various unfortunate discoveries that in turn morphed into basically rebuilding the house from the outside in. Actually the inside is fine, for the most part, but the outside is, or at this point I should probably say was, one vast expanse of dry rot assisted by the occasional carpenter ant. (One of these days I'll show you pictures.) After a couple of months of this I drew up a household budget, something we'd never had before, to see where our money was going and if we could manage to keep more of it... well, keep is not really the operative word there, so much as reallocate. I was astounded to discover the extent of our fixed expenses, meaning that flexible expenses, the easy ones to cut, take up only about a quarter of the budget, meaning that economies that I had always thought too small to matter... matter. Thus packed lunches.
  5. Waffles. I haven't gotten to the point of making these myself yet. There's such a thing as overkill.
  6. Bread. No one else in the house likes my favorite kind, so it's either freeze it or frequently find that the loaf I had eaten only two slices of has turned into a science project. Not that I have anything against science, mind you, but I'd prefer not to sacrifice perfectly good bread to it. See small economies above.
  7. Applesauce. I had never made it before a few weeks ago, when I took out my trusty food mill with the hand crank, very similar to the one my mother had except for the plastic parts, and started cranking my way through the results of this year's apple-picking spree. It's very easy, and the results are good.
  8. Apple pie filling. This year I am not going to be caught short at Christmastime.
  9. Blackberry puree. The only drawback to blackberries is too many seeds, so I separate fruit from seeds with the abovementioned food mill. The resulting puree can become sweet duck sauce or chutney, or probably several other things I haven't thought of yet.
  10. Something extremely inedible. Remember #10 on my fridge list? We go to the dump on Saturday. If I find the offending item in the fridge on Sunday, it's spending the week in the freezer.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

Ten Ways to Have Fun on Long Car Rides

Since time passes much more slowly for kids, it's not surprising that I recall the weekly visits to my grandparents who lived a good hour away as being much longer than the four-hour-plus ride to Rangeley, and the three-hour trip to Rhinebeck that I'll bet inspired this theme seems like a piece of cake, although the journey home always seems longer. (I still don't know if I'm going, and if I am going I still don't know if I'm going for one day or two. The latter question depends largely on finding somewhere to squeeze in.) In any case, with one possible exception I'm going to limit this one to diversions that were available when I was a kid. All of these assume at least two people in the car.
  1. Play Ghost. Start with a letter, any letter you want. The next player adds a letter, and so on until someone is forced to complete a word. After giving a letter, a player must be prepared to give a word that could start with the letters given so far. The loser of each round gets a letter of the word ghost, and the first complete ghost loses the game. In the Superghost version, each player can add a letter to either end of the existing letter chain, again as long as the resulting chain can be found in a word.
  2. Play Alphabet. Find each letter of the alphabet in turn on objects outside the car. With the recent trend of naming car models with strings of letters, preferably the less commonly used ones, this is easier than it used to be.
  3. Play Twenty Questions. This is an oldie but a goodie.
  4. Botticelli. The player who is It thinks of a person (who may be real or fictional), and another player asks a question like "Were you a famous Renaissance painter?" to which It answers, "No, I am not Botticelli." If It is stumped, the asking player then gets to ask a boolean question like, "Are you alive?" Subsequent questions must conform to all of the known characteristics; if it's been established that the person is a real, living, male American movie actor, for instance, only questions whose target has those characteristics are allowed. It can bluff: if It is Dustin Hoffman, for instance, and the question is, "Did you appear onscreen in drag to play the title character of a well-known movie?", It may answer, "No, I am not Robin Williams," but if It can't think of another actor that fits the bill, It must then admit, "Yes, I am Dustin Hoffman."
  5. Knit. Admittedly, this doesn't help to entertain the other people in the car, so it's best to be able to knit while playing Botticelli.
  6. Listen to show tunes. One could listen to anything at all, actually, but show tunes seem to be especially enjoyable. They can also lead one to...
  7. Burst into song. This sometimes happens to us while on the way to visit family for Christmas. You probably would recognize the tunes but not the lyrics.
  8. Play Cat's Cradle. Needless to say, this requires at least two passengers.
  9. Play Mad Libs. This requires literate players, one of whom can read and write in a moving vehicle without becoming ill. It can be quite educational: Miss B learned all the parts of speech when she was six so that she could play with us.
  10. Talk. This may be a last resort, but under the constraints of space and time I've learned things I didn't know even about my blood relatives.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

Ten Things to Love About Fall

  1. Changing leaves. The brilliant reds and oranges are glorious, of course, but, as you see, even the more muted colors can catch the eye.
  2. Golden light. There's something about the light of evening at this time of year. It happens in the spring, too, but not as noticeably. Maybe all the leaves magnify the effect.
  3. The kids are back in school. In the summer Taz is in summer school part of the time, but on a different schedule from regular school, Miss B is away at camp part of the time, and we're away on vacation part of the time. Much as I love summer, it's nice to get back into a more consistent routine.
  4. Apples. Picking them, baking them, eating them.
  5. Changing clothes. A couple of weeks ago I unearthed some cold-weather clothes I had almost forgotten. It's like a new wardrobe I didn't have to shop for.
  6. Halloween. I love carving pumpkins and seeing all the costumes and handing out candy. Apparently at least in some respects I never grew up.
  7. Thanksgiving. I love making dinner with all the traditional dishes and baking and quality family time. See Halloween.
  8. Pie. See Thanksgiving, also apples, although it is not just apple but pecan and pumpkin and even Key lime pie (a favorite of my favorite men, season in, season out).
  9. Holiday knitting. As the daylight retreats and the air chills I can feel the brainchildren unborn stirring within me. It's an incredible rush, quite different from the Hitchcockian terror that inevitably ensues as deadline projects first circle and then descend, beaks extended.
  10. Pine Street Inn Knit-a-Thon. My getting to Rhinebeck this year is looking doubtful, but I wouldn't miss the PSIKAT for the world. This year it's at the State House. Yes, the thing with the gold dome. Want to come? You can join Team Flaky, in honor of pie crust, among other things.