Saturday, November 28, 2020

New Traditions

Lots of things have changed for the better this year and the holiday was one of them. New houses, new husband for my sister, and our first Thanksgiving together was the start of some new dishes at the feast. Starting with dessert, Brooke's husband John likes LOVES chocolate so I decided to feature a chocolate pie as one of the dishes. I stole this picture off another website, but it looked pretty much like this. 

Graham cracker crust, a big box of Jello Pudding, or two of the regular size, 2 cups of milk, Cool Whip, and peanut butter and chocolate chips. Couldn't be easier. I had a jar with some remaining peanut butter, didn't measure, but it musta been about 3/4 cup. I tossed in some chocolate chips, both semi-sweet and milk and nuked them to melt in the peanut butter. Then I spread this mixture on the crumb crust. (Next time I will use the chocolate cookie crust). Then mix the jello with milk and pour half onto the crust and then add a lot of Cool Whip to the remaining half of the pudding and spoon it on for the next layer. Refrigerate overnight. Before serving, add more Cool Whip as the crowning glory. It was a huge hit. My sister and I love pumpkin pie, so we had a little of both, with lots of Cool Whip. At the store I saw a woman pile 5 tubs of the stuff in her cart. What's a holiday without it? I've been thinking of variations to this basic idea, crunchy peanut butter? slices of Reeses peanut butter cups, or forget the peanut butter and do Andes Mints melted, or Nutella...o my! All the possibilities.
  Brooke brought her famous Bacon with roasted brussel sprouts. Suddenly brussel sprouts are our fave. Roasting them makes all the difference. In fact roasted veggies were the theme of 2020. 

My niece was not able to attend, since someone at her Starbucks job got the plague, so she and her boyfriend self quarantined. We missed having her, but of course she and the boyfriend got big take-home plates of the goodies after we were done. She recently posted on Instagram that she was interested in learning to like mushrooms, and coincidentally I found a fellow mushroom lover in brother-in-law John, so I made Stuffed Mushrooms. Another stolen picture. I didn't have my camera in the kitchen...yeah, right.

Bella mushrooms, Italian sausage, whipped cream cheese, and parmesan, with a few breadcrumbs and parsely to add body and color. Cook the sausage til dark brown and crunchy (ok, just blacken it) and add it to some cream cheese and parm, sprinkle on bread crumbs and parsely flakes and pile into the caps. O, forgot! I did remove the stems and chopped them fine and sauteed them prior to adding them to the sausage mixture. Bake! I reserved two of these for my niece and hope she finds them tasty. 
One suprising new thing this year, is that I pretty much stayed sober. Usually I start drinking as soon as I start cooking, and things get blurry fast. But this year, in my older wiser age, I have been on the wagon for most of the year. So instead of losing my focus, I did what my sister has done and make a punch as a beverage to drink as the dinner gets assembled.

Pineapple juice, cranberry-raspberry juice and coconut-pineapple soda. Not too sweet, a lovely pinky-orange color and just a bit of fizz. Yummy. Pino Grigio was served with dinner and I had a couple of goblets full but was not as affected. 

A fine time was had by all and the weather was superb. Tennessee is just about the best place I could have chosen for my retirement. And my new neighborhood is wonderful. So much to be thankful for. 

Friday, November 20, 2020

Silk and Merino Cowl

Now we are having fun! Getting that last jacket designed and finished was a challenge and having done it, I am ready to make fun gifty type items like this one of a kind cowl. It is made from a collection of soft and squishy silk and merino blends and while multicolored, is still tasteful.

Knit seamlessly with double mitered sections, it is just as lovely on the inside as it is outside. Not itchy, I promise! Available for $60 including shipping. Email me at fibermania at g mail dot com. SOLD

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Silken Wool Jacket

Here's the new jacket with the improved raglan sleeve, new slightly raised neckline, side slits and button placket. My aim was to make a seamless knit, better fitting through the arm, shoulder and neck opening.
So satisfying to finally reach the desired shape. 

The drape of this yarn combo comes from the diamond shape, which has a lot of bias and the silk in the mix adds to that drape. Yarns are Plymouth Boku, 95% wool, 5% silk and Knit Picks Gloss Dk, 70% Merino wool and 30% silk.

Buttons are oversized Mother of Pearl and offer a bit of sparkle to the jacket. 

 The jacket measures 26" in length and 50" around, making it a nice loose fit over other garments. Available for $150 with free shipping. Email me at fibermania at g mail dot com.

Friday, November 13, 2020

New Yarns

I've been shopping from the stashes of other Ravelry members and have found some yummy yarns to buy. 

 Knitpicks Gloss DK, 70% merino, 30% silk. This is just a yummy yarn to knit, and it has a bit of a shine to boot. Here it is now in combination with Boku (95% wool, 5% silk) as I knit a new jacket.

And I found a gal who loves this yarn as much as I do, and luckily, she allowed me to have 7 skeins from her stash of over 60!!! It is 50% merino, and 50% wool. Both are wools of course, but the merino is the softest wool ever, so I like to have it in my knits.

 This is a new yarn to me, Noro Janome, which is 60% silk and 40% wool. Here's another view of this yarn:
I'll be pairing this with a solid color yarn, so that the unusual colors here will be amplified.

I really like Noro Silk Garden yarn and was happy to find one person willing to part with these two lots.
45% silk, 45% mohair and 10% wool. 

 I had one of these skeins leftover from another project and was happy to find 5 more that were in the same color. More silk garden! Yay!
And I have just ordered this yummy yarn from a Raveler, Mirasol Tupa, 50% silk and 50% merino. 

Look for these new yarns to be garments in the coming months. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

?Rigging? the Election?

I don't usually get political on the blog but this was so amusing and enlightening that I decided I had to share it with you.

Listening to the radio on my way to church Sunday, I heard this except from NPR's On the Media, which tongue in cheek proposed ways that the election could be rigged. 

BOB GARFIELD What Trump never explained is how the Democrats were supposed to have pulled off the caper. John Mark Hansen is professor of political science at the University of Chicago. He has studied precisely what would be required to steal a presidential election. John, welcome to the show.


JOHN MARK HANSEN I'm glad to be here.


BOB GARFIELD OK, let's just say that I want to subvert the will of the people and rig a presidential election. Uh, easy peasy, right?


JOHN MARK HANSEN No, not necessarily. You're not going to do it by recruiting yourself and a few friends to vote a couple of times or even three or four or five or 10 times. So you're going to have to -.


BOB GARFIELD Just organize a massive conspiracy is all.


JOHN MARK HANSEN Yeah. For instance, in Pennsylvania in 2016, there were 6.2 million ballots cast. And, you know, suppose that you're willing to kind of cut it close a little bit and you say, well, let's sort of make sure that Biden's going to win by getting him one percent more of the vote. So 62,000 votes. That's a lot of votes.


BOB GARFIELD How do we go about doing that?


JOHN MARK HANSEN One possibility is that you decide you're going to get a thousand of your best friends and you're somehow going to convince them that they should be willing to risk prosecution and imprisonment and the loss of their reputations. You also have to reassure them that out of the thousand people that you've recruited to help you in this effort, nobody's actually going to open their big fat mouth. There are a lot of criminal conspiracies out there that get undone because somebody wants to brag about it or somebody has a guilty conscience or something. So you're going to have to make sure that you can trust and everybody else can trust all thousand of your confederates.


BOB GARFIELD OK, if you want to obsess on details like that, that's fine. I'm not going to stop you. So you're basing this on the idea of having a thousand friends each willing to trump up 62 ballots. But what if instead of doing that, I just get, let's say, 20000 friends to vote once by mail, once in person, and maybe once at another precinct where they used to live one person, three votes times 20000.


JOHN MARK HANSEN You'd have to persuade all 20000 people that they should take the risk of actually casting a second or a third ballot, because the chance of their being detected goes up the more times they vote. So I would think that people would be pretty hesitant to do something like that. In terms of people who are registered in more than one place. I doubt that, you know, 20000 people who are registered in two different places and even there they would risk discovery. And certainly if you're talking about 20000 people doing it, someone is likely to be discovered as having voted in two different jurisdictions.


BOB GARFIELD Now, I know that because people's signatures tend to change over time, mine has certainly mutated, many jurisdictions are being less rigorous about demanding perfect matches. In that environment, you know, can I get any ballot through?


JOHN MARK HANSEN In terms of mail in ballots, the risk is not so much that your signature will not match, but rather that jurisdictions oftentimes will ask for identifying numbers. So in Pennsylvania, you either have to submit your driver's license number, your state ID number, or the last four digits of your Social Security number. And it's getting a hold of those numbers and matching those numbers. It's going to be the problem,.


BOB GARFIELD But it's also easy just to get a thousand driver's licenses, no?


JOHN MARK HANSEN Uh, not so easy.


BOB GARFIELD I must say. I rather resent your negativity. What about rigging the game during the counting process? Like Trump said on Wednesday morning, somehow finding all these votes after the polls have closed. Can't that be done like sneaking in an extra zero or two or moving a decimal point or even substituting computer data with fake counts that I've sneaked in on a thumb drive?


JOHN MARK HANSEN Well, your chances are better, but there are still quite strong safeguards against doing something like that. One is that most jurisdictions allow partisan observers to actually watch as the ballots are being counted and as the ballots are being tallied and as the tallies are being reported to the central office. And they have an opportunity to say, you know, I don't like that. That's not the way that things are supposed to be going. Even if there aren't any partisan observers, you still have the problem of how you're going to report all those extra votes without someone thinking, boy, that's sure an awful lot of votes being reported from that particular jurisdiction. They only usually report 300,000 votes and now they're reporting 360,000 votes. And that's kind of suspicious.


BOB GARFIELD You know, I'm sorry. I just think you're naive because what you don't know is that I am a pretty good coder. I managed to change everybody's phys ed grade at Aaron Burr High School to an A plus. So, why can't I just break into the county system and just have my way?


JOHN MARK HANSEN This is something that election officials have been worried about quite a lot. And so they've invested quite a lot in trying to maintain security. As you're probably aware, in 2016, there were actually some hacker attacks on county election offices or attempts at hacks on county election offices, particularly from Russian sources. And they seem to have been uniformly unsuccessful. So there's been a lot invested in trying to maintain the integrity and the security of the vote reporting system and the vote recording system. But even beyond that, again, how would you necessarily do it in a way that wouldn't appear suspicious? Various jurisdictions, various counties, they tend to vote pretty similarly from year to year. It would really, really be unusual to see a 20 percent change in a vote or an addition of 50000 votes, so you've got the problem of how you're going to do it without someone noticing when it goes up to the next stage.


BOB GARFIELD Look, John, I've laid on the irony with a trowel, and it's probably getting tedious for the audience at this point. So can I just ask you very plainly - the scenario that President Trump and his proxies are suggesting, is it remotely possible to have taken place with the kind of safeguards that each state has built in the election process going back, you know, a century?


JOHN MARK HANSEN No, this would just require, to use Joseph McCarthy's words, a conspiracy so immense as to make it nearly impossible to be detected and really expensive and risky for everybody involved.


BOB GARFIELD That would mean that the president is a liar.


JOHN MARK HANSEN Some people have said.


BOB GARFIELD John, thank you very much.




BOB GARFIELD John Mark Hansen is a professor of political science at the University of Chicago.


Friday, November 6, 2020


 My dear friend Patsy, who is trying with all her might not to laugh in this picture, came over yesterday to make tamales with me. We now live in the same town, which makes our friendship even easier to enjoy. When we get together it doesn't take long for the decibel level to rise and when we were at the same church in downtown Chattanooga, we were known by some as the Cacklers. Patsy is responsible for giving me inspiration and permission to remake my kitchen in the previous house and I am so grateful, because I'm sure that new kitchen did the trick in selling that place.
 So yesterday, as we were cleaning up the tamales mess we made (very YUMMY, by the way), I groused a bit about my refrigerator which has given me fits since we moved in. (First world problems). The icemaker never made cubes, just crushed ice which if we aren't very careful, shoots out ice all over the place. The cold water feature was only ever room temperature, but the worst part is that the three drawers just never slid right, and after taking them all out and repositioning them, nothing changed. The drawers just fall out of their slots and it is a struggle to get them back in place. Adding to that, the storage is scant, which is because it is not standard depth, but counter depth, making it difficult to get all the usual stuff I store into it. 
Arrgggh. Patsy and I talked about the kind of fridge we liked best and we settled on freezer on the bottom which I had several times in previous homes. At that point I was already tipping over the edge in deciding to get a new fridge. A minute or two of shopping onlne and I found the right one and showed it to Dave who nodded in agreement. I ordered it and it is coming today!!!

I've had this exact model in my downtown Chattanooga house and left it there...well, I had to sell the house didn't I? I loved the fact that a whole gallon of milk will fit in that bottom door rack. And everything moves around to suit my desires. NO stupid ice in the door and water spigot taking up space in the freezer. Just open the bottom drawer that has the icemaker with nice cubes in it, and we're done. ha! Thanks Patsy for again being in cahoots with me!
So happy about the election! Waiting was agony, but it looks so close to being over. Yay!
OK Now, it is Friday and time for a new knit. This is the new version of the Diamond Patch Jacket, which in this iteration is knit upside down from all the previous models. What??? After making 22 of these from the bottom up, I realized I could improve on the construction and cut out the annoyance of having to sew parts together at the finish. I hate that part! Also, I figured out how to add a button band that doesn't pull up and distort the fronts, just lying flat as it ought to. Yay! 

Here's the trick I devised to make this all so much easier, faster and better fitting.  Starting with that back neck triangle, knit it first, and also knit the raglan sleeves (at least the top part, or sleeve cap) first. Then the rest of the diamonds can be picked up from the edges of those parts. NO seams!
The diamonds face downward in this version, which probably doesn't matter to anyone. No side seams to sew because the whole body is knit in one piece. The sleeve cap is put on waste yarn and then picked up at the end and knit in the round downward to the wrist. Side slits are built into the design which is really easy to do too. Loving the fit of this model. And now I am going to actually write out the pattern and offer it for sale on Ravelry, just to see if it floats. Let me know if you want to be a test knitter and I will send you the pattern for free (when I finish writing it!).
This model is now available since I got the pattern figured out. The yarn is Noro Taiyo, 40% Cotton, 30% Silk, 15% Wool, 15% Nylon and Nashua Handknits Creative Focus Superwash, 50% merino, 50% wool, with mother of pearl buttons. The cost of the yarn makes up the majority of the cost to make it available to you. The size is 44", and is about 26" long. $150 plus free shipping. Email me at fibermania at gmail dot com. SOLD

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Election Day and Anniversary

 Not only is it Election Day (finally!) but it is also the blogaversary, 16 years! 
So I am giving myself a gift of this rainbow baktus scarf. I dyed this merino sock yarn years ago and had leftovers from the socks I made and gave away. Now it has been knitted, with teeny tiny #2 needles and is just wonderful to wear. So light and bright. It goes with everything, since I really only wear black, white or gray, ha! But with those neutrals, one needs a spot of color. 

In order to make this I used 13 different skeins of yarn, and had lots of fiddly ends to weave in. What a pain. Next version I am making from commercial sock yarn and which will keep the ends to a minimum.

The blog has been a very rewarding endeavor for me over the years, keeping track of events and creations, and I have had so many great exchanges with my readers. Just today I heard from one who had a lovely example of paying it forward. She knew of an elderly lady, Ms Lucy, who was always cold and had seen a scarf I made on the blog that would have been the perfect thing to keep this lady cozy. She told me about it and I sent the scarf to her for her friend. Ms. Lucy used it until she passed away, and just today I got this email:

By the way, it is serving it’s sixth owner as it has kept each warm throughout their last days and then each family lovingly returned it back to me with the request that it be passed on to another to use to keep them warm! I’ve never once asked for it to be returned, it’s been given freely each time with no expectations of getting it back and it continues to come back again and again. 
Thank you Joan for sending me that good news. 
And thank you to all you readers who comment and those who don't. You have made a real difference in my life and I can't imagine all I would have missed had I not found this way to reach you.

Monday, November 2, 2020

It's Cold Out....Already!

Wow! It got cold here overnight. 35 degrees and we expect a frost tonight. That's what you get when it becomes November, but it was so quick, from warm and balmy to chilling. In anticipation, I have knit a generously long cowl, in 100% merino. Here's my arty shot, trying to show both sides at once.

I moved the full length mirror into my studio and you can see the back of the doubled up cowl in the reflection. The cowl doubles as a hood, when pulled up over the head, with no gaps at the neck. 

Available for $60 including shipping. Email me at fibermania at g mail dot com. SOLD