Saturday, November 29, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

A little belatedly, I'm wishing all of you a wonderful, happy thanksgiving, full of family, friends, and good food.

Thanksgiving table 08

Coffeeboy and I, after a summer and a semester of too much traveling, decided to stay home this year and have a cozy vegetarian Thanksgiving for two, complete with leftovers. We ate a soup in a pumpkin (a childhood favorite, always risky given the pumpkin's tendency to collapse; this we avoided by using a pie pumpkin), a cheese-nut loaf, cranberry relish, stuffing, and of course, pumpkin pie.

Mine turned brownish-gray and looked kind of gross, but it tasted fine! I'm not sure why this happened. Coffeeboy's google research reveals that this might have had something to do with either the inclusion of alcohol, too many spices, too-old cloves, or a lack of brown sugar. Whatever the cause, it was my first time using my great-aunt's recipe, which includes brandy and scalded milk, rather than no alcohol and condensed or evaporated milk. I also forgot to read my mom's notations ,which said things like "use 1/2 brown sugar," "use more spices," and "use 3 T brandy instead of 1 T." Given that her pies were never gray or brown, I bet it was my forgetting of brown sugar. Coffeeboy says this confusion necessitates a great deal of experimentation into the methods of pumpkin pie preparation. I'm inclined to agree! ;-)

Thanksgiving foods 08

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Fiber Flirtations: Corriedale

It's been a busy few weeks, as I've worked on fellowship applications and Coffeeboy has prepared for a campus interview. We just returned from that interview yesterday, and he feels it went well. so far as one can tell. The trip took us both across the country for a few days, to the state where I grew up, California. The weather was hot and hazy from fires, quite a change from the early winter temperatures we're having in Western NC.

Thanks for all your good wishes after the conference! Now we'll need them to make it through the next hurdles. We won't know anything else from them until a month from now, though, so it'll be a sort of crazy month of waiting. Meanwhile, he's had another on-campus cancelled for funding reasons (or something like that) and another scheduled for sometime in late January. I'm still waiting to hear from my one interview school, but am not expecting anything until next week or the week after. And of course, if I hear nothing, then that answers that question...

Meanwhile, I've been remiss in updating you on the spinning! As you might guess from the post's title, I'm going to start a "series" of "Fiber Flirtations" in which I'll post about my experiences spinning with different fibers. After all, I collected such a variety at SAFF that now I need to be able to talk about them!

My first "flirtation" isn't really a flirtation, but more of a long series of dates. I spun some Corriedale pretty early on in my spinning adventures (remember this deep red gift yarn?) Corriedale, as I understand it, is a longish wool, very good for beginners, so it made sense for me to spin with it both when I was starting out, trying to go thinner, and also once I wanted to go thick again. The giftee of the red yarn gifted me back with some gorgeous tweedy light-blue corriedale, a whole 12 oz. of it, which I spent much of the spring and early summer spinning. I ended up spinning it much thinner than I'd anticipated, going for a three-ply, hence the long time spent working on it.

Light blue corriedale 1

I ended up with varying amounts on the bobbins, so I had 2 skeins of three-ply, one of 2-ply, and one of navajo/chain-ply. I think I spun and plied the yarn at a 10:1 ratio and ended up with something between fingering and sport weight. All told there's something like 930 yards there, plenty plenty to make something really nice. I think it'll have to marinate in the stash for a while while I figure out just what's right!

Light blue corriedale 2 Light blue corriedale 3

My next spinning adventure in Corriedale took me to Colonial wool, in a navy multi colorway from Paradise Fibers that Coffeeboy gifted me with last year. This time, I wanted to spin it thicker, aiming for a worsted. I got something closer to heavy worsted or bulky than true worsted, but oh well.

Navy colonial wool heather

The yarn is 8 oz, a three-ply, about 250 yards. I don't remember the ratio I spun this with; probably either 8: or 10:1. I also spun up 8 oz. of the same fiber in a multi-red brick colorway, but I haven't taken pictures of it yet... I think I ended up with about the same amount of yarn, though.

I'm not yet sure what I'll do with all these new yarns; the colonial wool will probably become a hat or a cowl or something like that, I'm just not sure! What I do know is that I have 2 weeks to get a passable draft of the next chapter of the dissertation finished, and that I should probably turn my attention in that direction for a while!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Conference socks

The conference went well; Coffeeboy's interviews went particularly well, as evidenced by the two campus interviews he's already secured!  My interview went, so far as I could tell, as well as could be expected for a first-time interviewee, so we will see what happens.  I don't expect to hear from the school I interviewed with for at least two weeks, so I need to hang on and be patient. 

The conference itself was - get this - right across the street from Grant Park, site of Obama's recent victory speech and screaming crowds.  When we left the hotel Tuesday morning -- the very same hotel Obama would later await the results -- workers were hanging red, white, and blue flags around the hotel; red, white and blue lamps created bright streaks of color on the hotel's facade, and security guards and police cars already waited across the street at the park.  

Later that evening, after we'd spent most of the day on the airplane, we arrived home in time to watch the first results come in.  As the conclusion came ever closer to a victory for Obama, we had a sudden feeling of regret that we hadn't stayed right there in Chicago one more day, just so we could say that we were there when the nation elected its first African-American president.  But no matter, we were home, and at least among the humans, no eye was dry, and even if we weren't there ourselves, our hearts most certainly were, and are.  

At the conference, while flying, and while hanging out with friends and family before the conference, I got a fair amount of knitting done, as you can see!  The colors of the Regia sock really caught my attention, and I even completed one whole sock in the course of the 5-odd days we were away! 

Conference socks 2008
Since I've been home, I've been getting back into the spinning. I have a lot of longwools to show you, some Corriedale and some Colonial wool (which I gather is pretty similar to Corriedale?)  that I've either just finished recently, or have been waiting for the right time to post. 

This weekend, I'm hoping to get more sock knitting done, as Coffeeboy and I drive north to Virginia Beach for a family reunion. I have a wild dream of getting some work done while we're away, but I'm not sure it'll happen.