Over breakfast, Okey and I plotted our day. He so gallantly offered to clean up the house (and even vacuum the stairs!) while I would be busy in the kitchen. I had written the main meals on a post-it note earlier this week: Italian wedding soup and pizza. I had been playing with the following sides: fruit salad, veggie tray, spinach dip, cookies, butterscotch pie, lemon cake and frosting, rolls. He encouraged me to drop a few items. I chose to drop the pizza. He asked me to drop the cookies and a dessert. I refused. He asked me how long I thought it would take to prepare this meal for six guests. I said three hours.

My coworker J put in his two-weeks notice a couple of weeks ago. While it’s sad to see a good coworker and friend leave the company, at least it’s for better pastures closer to his home. I offered to throw him a farewell party, and it was a good opportunity for him to meet a fellow geek (Okey) and for some other coworkers to come down for a night off.

Well, it was a good thing that I started the prep work at noon. I knew I had to start the butterscotch pie as soon as possible allowing it ample time to cool. Likewise, I started the ice tea. Then I baked the cake, a simple box mix to which I added poppy seeds and made homemade lemon frosting. Then I thought I should prep the veggie tray, but then I found ingredients for the italian wedding soup and remembered that should be allowed time to cook in a crockpot. It was my first venture into soy sausage. Although none of my guests are vegetarian, it was easier to prepare meals this way than to get in and out of the local halal market. I mixed an egg with the “sausage” and then pan fried them as meatballs seasoning some onions and celery in there. I stopped paying attention to the recipe at that point, but having added dentali pasta, basil and spinach plus carrots, I feel that my soup was still spot on.

Then I started my spinach dip which consists of one block of frozen spinach (slightly thawed), one block of pepper jack, one block of cream cheese, approximately two tablespoons of butter, a good dose of worcestire (wooster!) sauce, a few drops of hot sauce, heavy cream and fresh ground pepper and salt to taste. Mmm.

Um, so then I assembled the veggie tray. Then I made the fruit salad. Adding some canned pineapple to it is my new favourite thing. Then I started to heat up the rolls that I purchased at Wegman’s. (Purchasing the rolls was another Okey suggestion.)

So I finished at four thirty, well over the time I had planned for. It was all worth it. It was wonderful to spend the time with J and his girlfriend. It was nice to meet my other coworkers’ wives. We had a good time eating food and playing Cranium Pop Culture. I am thankful for a supportive husband who helps me plan things and see them through to fruition.

Our new “endeavor” is going to take time. Six months to two years. It could even take longer than I think it will. It will depend on our ability to complete paperwork in a timely manner. And then will come the waiting. It will be out of our hands. It will be exciting.

knitter’s confession

I resolved myself to finish some projects I already started after the fun hat break. However…

I finished that book by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee and was devastated to learn in the last five pages none-the-less that I will not be able to block the table runner I am knitting for Jenna. The yarn I’m using is a 60% cotton and 40% acrylic blend… and the acrylic is the culprit. It is synthetic and will melt. (Duh!) So while I figure out if I want to tear out hours of work to repurpose the yarn, or if determine that the curling edges are acceptable…

I picked up my cable throw project. I got bored after five rows and remembered why I had put it down. I’m very slow at seed stitching. I told myself I would work on it later this week. That is until…

I got an invitation to a baby shower! I am ready to graduate from bibs, so I am drooling over the possibilities in my books. Oh, I am torn between making a lace receiving blanket (not made of acrylic, of course) or maybe a hat and sweater set? I’ve got one month to knit and no travel plans to impede the knitting schedule, so I think I’ll aim for the moon!

patterns are for pansies

but swatching isn’t.

I’ve been thoroughly enjoying reading Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s book entitled Knitting Rules. I’ve gotten as far as the chapter about how to knit socks, but I couldn’t resist going back to the chapter on how to knit hats. I am very intrigued by her “no pattern” concepts throughout the book. I can read patterns all day long and not understand the principles behind what I’m doing, but she was able to break down the concepts for me so I felt ready to knit my first three dimensional project.

So I picked up my Susan Bates size 8 metal needles. (Blech, I know, but all my other good needles have projects on them.) I found my leftover yarn stash (from all those bibs) and got to work.

I wrote up a simple ribbing pattern, made a quick little swatch to figure out my stitches per inch (4) and even my rows per inch (6). I calculated how many stitches I would need to cast on for a baby hat, then I tore apart my swatch and started my knitting. What happened next would lead to my undoing: I slightly modified my pattern.

Instead of having a desired row of 14 inches, I ended up with a row just shy of 12 inches. By the time I realized this, I was committed to finishing my project. (Why I felt committed to finishing THIS project versus the other four I’ll never know.) I switched out my yarns every eight rows (I did that four times) and I ended with a hat that was 6 inches high. At the end, I had simply a rectangle without any shaping.

Determined to finish the project, I strung the yarn through the open stitches and drew them close for bunching. It was at that moment, I was able to visualize the hat. I sewed the sides shut and added a pom pom on top for flair (and to hide the bunching hole). I was not sure if the wee hat I created could even be worn by a premature baby or if it would be relegated to some lucky girl’s doll, but I was really excited with how it turned out.

With my finished project in hand, I walked to the neighbour’s house whose daughter I had in mind when I started the hat.  I had convinced myself entirely that the hat would not fit; it was inches smaller than I had planned.  But lo and behold, it fit!

If you look at the picture, it appears that Baby A is also surprised that it fits!  Sure, it looks more like a skull cap, but it fits!  I think I will knit more hats in my liftetime, and I know that I will be swatching the actual pattern on any project… I have learned my lesson.

Nota bene: I am not dismissing patterns. They are wonderful and useful in the creation of beautiful, intricate pieces. However, I wanted to point out the fun I had in creating a project without using one.

the most important hobby: living

Back in the infancy of this blog, I borrowed the “Life is Good” slogan from a very nice clothing company by that name.  It has lasted me well, and although life is still good for me, I want to change the header to something a little more personal and unique.

Life is worth exploring

It hits home my belief that all life is valuable, especially life that begins in a woman’s womb.

It speaks to my curiousity through life in that I enjoy many hobbies.

It declares I enjoy travelling to new places.

It says this is my blog.