Knit the Dog

[...because if I ever run out of yarn--- I can just knit the dogs.]

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Bless me, Father, it has been...ummm.....more than a year since my last confession.

We have another granddaughter, who is now walking and talking and being very busy. GD1 is in Montessori school and really wants to be a princess most of the time except when she is a very motherly Mama Chicken, or a puppy. My hubby is less than a year away from retirement, which will be an adjustment for both of us. I'm much the same. The dogs are another year grayer and stiffer but still very much themselves. (It's all about the treats.)

I've lost some weight, roughly 40 pounds, over the last two years but have been stuck for the past nine months at one spot. I have around another 30 or 40 pounds to go depending on which diet authority one consults. My daughter has been having good success with Dukan so I am trying it too. The all protein days are tough, since we have a veggie garden this year and it is churning out tomatoes, cukes, squash, beets, and beans. The veg/protein days are easy! So far I have not had a craving I can't knit past. But I'm only four days in. Still, for me, that's a record.

Went to Sock Summit II the end of July, loads of fun, report next time.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sometime in the spring

It's suddenly hot, summery, and dry. It's pollen season-- not little bright dabs of pollen on a bee's leg, but pine and oak pollen that you practically have to shovel out of the driveway. Yellow cars, yellow pavement, and when I dusted today [having written impolite words on all the tables] the cloth was yellow. This is compounded by drywall dust, since we're finishing off that room over the garage. Teams of Mr Aredondo's cousins and in-laws have been slapping joint compound and sanding seams like dervishes. They are incredibly fast, very good, and speak almost no English, so we communicate by gestures and head-nodding. The dogs are very unhappy about these invasions. They've been ultra protective since I've been stuck at home with The Great Broken Toe, and every time a short stocky workman comes to the door they go nuts. Kind of embarrassing.

The room looks great, with the drywall up and a new window in the gable end-- like an attic, but a cozy one. I want to keep it light, airy, with a tree-house vibe, but contemporary. Phil doesn't share my fondness for spare, streamlined modern stuff, but one room of it that isn't used much won't trouble him.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Woeful toe

Not sure how it got to be March. Our daffys are all coming out at once, leaves popping on the trees, and the dogs are sneezing and rubbing their ears so it's spring for sure. I'm laid up with a busted toe, thanks to a spectacular and graceless fall in the shower. At least I had finished the shower so was clean when I went to urgent care and then the orthopedic guy. Did you know that doctors refer to one's footal digits as the "great and lesser toes'? This here is a right-hand great toe, it's pretty well crunched, and that means no driving for a couple of weeks and wearing das boot all day and to sleep in. Ha-ha. Just very happy it wasn't a leg.

On the upside I am knitting the following:
---Second small pink sweater, this one for Cate who thought the first one [see pic], for grand-bebe#2, was hers-- I just need to block the little one & get snap tape for the closure;
---top-down raglan in cotton for me;
---couple of crocheted blankets; and I might finish some UFOs.
Waiting in the wings are a ruffled scarf and a lace cardi. So there will be lots to do while the Great Toe heals.

Made raisin bread tonight with the no-knead bread recipe that has made the rounds for a few years. It has been published in New York Times and by Mark Bittman among others. This bread is as easy as falling off a wall, and amazingly flexible.

My current version:
Mix three cups flour (I use 1 C whole wheat to 2C bread flour, and add a little wheat gluten or wheat germ or ground oatmeal) with a teaspoon of sugar and 1.75 tsp salt. Dissolve 1/2 tsp instant yeast, or really any dry yeast, in one cup warm water; throw into the bowl with the flour, then add another 5/8 C warm water (use it to rinse what you dissolved the yeast in.) ---for a total of 1 5/8 cup water. You may need a little more if the flour is very dry.
Mix all this together into a wettish, rough dough. That's it. Put the bowl in a warm place, covered with a dishtowel, for at least a few hours. When it has risen about double, stir it down and let it rise again for a few hours. Before it climbs out of the bowl, stir it down again and turn it out onto a floured surface. A good-sized cookie sheet with a rim works great and contains the mess. Cover the soft, floppy dough with a light layer of flour and fold it over gently a few times. Make it into a nice neat mound and let it sit while you heat your oven to 450 degrees. Yes, that hot. Put a cast iron dutch oven, or an oven proof pot with a tight lid, into the oven to heat as well. When the oven reaches temp, plop the dough into the heated pot (be careful of your fingers!) and cover. Bake 30 minutes, turn down to 400 degrees and take off the cover, and bake another 20 or so minutes until loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when you rap on the bottom. Butter liberally and stuff yourself.
This bread has a thick, chewy crust and is moist inside. It's best eaten in two days. The texture depends on the flour you use. I've added Parmesan cheese and herbs; raisins soaked in Marsala; and various grain additions. I've raised it overnight, or for only a few hours. Basically I've abused the recipe every which way and the only loaf I didn't like was the one where I added a cup of soy flour in an effort to increase the protein content--- resulting in a very, very odd object that got composted.
I will say that I have a distinct advantage when it comes to keeping yeasties happy, because my oven has a "proof" setting that holds at exactly 100 degrees and they love it. As they say, your results may differ. But definitely give this a try. Googling "no-knead bread" will turn up lots of info.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I love to travel. I've been on so many airplanes I have it down to a smooth routine; I love scoping out a new destination and planning where to stay and what to see and eat and do. These days I especially love visiting my daughter and her family in Seattle. In fact I'd move to Seattle, or one of its suburbs, in a heartbeat. It's a fascinating, elegant city and the Pacific Northwest is rife with things to explore, and drop dead gorgeous too.
And I love to come home. Glory knows I've had enough homes, having moved something like 29 times [only seven in the last 30 years though.] There is absolutely nothing as wonderful as sitting in your own domicile, in the most comfortable chair, with sun streaming in the window and your current dog gently snoring at your feet, and knowing that for at least the next few minutes there is nothing on earth you have to do. I know the history of every object here, the cooties are all our own, and the smell of home is so familiar that I can't tell that there is one.
It's not possible to learn this until you have your very own place, and you have traveled far away from it for at least a week and then come home tired of nameless hordes of fellow travelers and pulled your suitcases in the door, and breathed that deep sigh of--- home, I'm home. Like we did last night [which was November 17th and I haven't blogged since, bad me. Wrote this & then wandered off somewhere.]
Which is why I'm working on the next trip, late in February. And at least one knitting retreat somewhere in the mountains; and maybe an anniversary trip to France; and we'll just have to see about the rest.
We had a few inches of snow in December, right before the east coast got slammed with a bunch, and unusually it hung on to be enjoyed for almost a week. We spread nets of white lights over the ivy in front of the house for Christmas, and when we turned them on they shone through the snow in a really cool and eerie fashion. Phil also hung his five light balls in the Japanese maple. I don't know if this is a southern thing or all over now, but there is a neighborhood in Greensboro that hangs so many lightballs from so many trees that driving through it is a close encounter of some kind. Very alien but one must applaud the amount of work they go to to do it.

This morning, we awoke to about 8 inches of white and not-so-fluffy, and it's still coming down but now it's all sleet. Might take pictures later. The dogs like to eat it but now that they're senior canines, they don't want to stay in it for long.

Phil's interminable sweater is DONE. I detoured to make myself a nice hat and then another hat for him, and some scarves and mits and baby blankets and a few other things. But now it is done, and it fits, and will keep him warm at work. I learned a lot doing it and now I'm ready to tackle a sweater for me.

And there have been the taxes. Which is why I haven't been blogging; that and political despair, but that's for a different venue. For the third year, I'm volunteering to help elderly & low income folks do their tax returns through AARP Foundation. Due to some unforeseen stuff, I have ended up pretty much in charge of the whole show, including training counselors and becoming, help help, an expert on certain issues. This is such a poor fit for math-challenged me that it would be funny if I weren't panicking too hard to have fun. Dear cosmos, please let it all be over soon.
Today, since we are snowed in, I'm going to bake and organize all my knitting and do laundry and just generally be domestic. And knit. Oh, honey, I am going to knit up a storm.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Presto change-o

In case any of the maybe four people who read this blog were to care, I changed my name on Ravelry. When I started into this knitting social thing, I just used my name (first & middle together, to whit-- Susanjane) because nobody else had it and I had no imagination. But I wanted to have something a little more definitive. Naturally all the really cool and unique things I came up with were already being used by people cooler and uniquer than me, so I just kept putting stuff in until finally something cleared: piedmontknitter. I'm a knitter. I live in the Piedmont. Everybody in the Carolinas knows where that is, and the rest of you can just be intrigued. So there.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Southeast Animal Fiber Fair was fun in spite of the rain. I communed with every rabbit, angora goat, sheep, and alpaca there. The Shetland sheep were hands down the winners... no bigger than lambs, buried under mounds of wool, with such cute delicate faces peeking out. I am a total softy for ovines. Makes me miss the sheep I used to have in Pennsylvania.
The fiber, of course, is what I went there for. Did I score? Oh, my yes. Two bodacious 400 yd hanks of wool/silk, in slightly variegated tones, one light blue and one brownish; and the queen of the show, 647 yards of plump handspun blue-faced Leicester, in dark blue with threads of teal, green, and a trace of purple running through it. I visited it twice before I finally gave in and ransomed it to bring it home. What will I do with it? I have no earthly idea. Not enough for a sweater or even a vest, too much for a scarf. I may have to sleep with it. Just, you know, for inspiration.
Friday night there was a sort of Ravel-revel, with door prizes. Tons of prizes. We watched the skeins of Dream in Color Smooshy and cashmere and merino march past us to their happy new owners. Nice books, useful knitting bags.... all going to Other Tables. Finally the lady across from me won something: five very small stitch markers in a teeny tiny bag. We realized there was a cloud over us, an unlucky, perhaps even cursed, cloud. More prizes walked past. We were getting desperate. Really, we were getting downright bitter. At last-- my number was called! I won! What did I win? The following: two outdated pattern books for nothing I would ever knit, a tape measure ['made in China'] and a set of very large, very purple, plastic knitting needles that light up in the dark. I am not making this up.
Continuing to knit on the seven or so projects I have going, concentrating on Phil's sweater and the rusty orange wrap. And the lace scarf I had to start, and the ruana I thought I might make with some of the new wool. And the baby blanket in the den, the shawl in the livingroom........
Trees are turning, leaves are falling, we're making Turkey Day plans. It's knitting weather!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Me one, engines zero

I do not get on well with internal combustion engines. They can smell my fear and anxiety, and know they have the upper hand. When I need to start one-- lawnmower, weedwhacker, whatever-- I carefully feed it the specially mixed fuel [they all have delicate dietary habits], go through all the rituals: position the throttle, push the red thing halfway down, bow to Detroit, kill a chicken; then I pull the start cord. And pull it. Pull some more. Stand on the thing and pull with all my might. The machine makes a few farty noises and subsides into a deep sulk. Then I go get Phil, and he gets within 20 feet of it, and gives it The Look of the Engineer, and it spontaneously purrs to life (Yes, Master! How many rpms, Master?) And then Phil looks at me patiently and says, "You must not have
...tickled the throttle
...massaged the choke
...hinckled the thingus.
And in a display of mature dignity, I cry "I did! I swear I did! It's a piece of crap! It hates me!"
Now, we have a lot of leaves, from our umpty-seven oak and tulip poplar trees, and with Phil on the road every week this month it falls to me to do something before the house disappears under them. If I tried to rake them all I'd have carpal tunnel of the entire body, so I have to use a leaf blower. My nice tame electric one has developed a Short and smokes alarmingly. So this past weekend Phil gave me a detailed lesson on starting the gas blower.
Today I got the thing out, fed it, burped it, and carried out the following procedure: press the red button down, depress the throttle this much, flip the choke up, push the carb bubble 3.5 times, pull the cord while easing up on the throttle and whistling Dixie. It started. It ran like we were made for each other. We blew leaves like a couple of pros.
Some days there ain't no tellin'.
I've finished the back and 1.5 fronts of Phil's cardigan, and hope to be onto the sleeves by the end of the week. I won't take it to SAFF though, since I think I need idiot knitting for that---- so I'll take the rusty orange wrap, which has 21 of its 50 inches done.
No internal combustion engines will accompany me except my car, with which I have a satisfying intimate relationship. Besides it's still under warranty and had better behave.