Friday, February 22, 2008

"Pilot Hat" Baby Cap

It's a very cute and clever pattern. The author says she made the small size for her son, and he was outgrowing it at 6 months. My beautiful baby nephew is about 6 months old now, and his mother says he's been outgrowing some of his baby hats. So I figured, do the larger size. Gauge is supposed to be about 5.5 stitches per inch, and I was somewhere near that (okay, so I didn't check).

But I think my gauge is a little bit off after all, don't you?

(I tried to get Luc to model it for a picture, but for some reason he didn't think it would be a cool thing for a teen aged boy to do.) Ripping it out now . . . I'll try again with something else. I really love the Little Turtle Knits pilot cap, for instance; just not the price tag for the pattern.

Oh, and Rick got home from the Canadian border about 11:00 last night (19 hours on the road) with an '86 Grand Am in tow. She doesn't look too bad, all things considered. Luc plans to name her "Duchess."

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Beauty of the Season

Rick is on his way to Minnesota to retrieve the other Grand Am, so he and Luc can try to get a new set of wheels going for Luc. I was driving Tasha to her early class this morning, when white smoke started pouring out of my tailpipe and hood scoop. I called Rick, who remotely diagnosed a coolant leak. (House has got nothing on him.) Watching the heat gauge, I headed back home, picked up Luc, and headed to the gas station. Popped the hood, and sure enough the coolant reservoir was empty. At Rick's advice, we filled it up and then watched under the car.

Drip, drip, drip.

Luc has got to get to (1) morning high school classes; (2) afternoon college class; and (3) work - also, I have to get home from work and Tasha has to be picked up from play practice. So the strategy we've worked out is that most of a can of coolant is in the back of the car. Luc or I will check the reservoir every time the car gets started up, and we will fill it if it is below half - full. And obviously, we will watch the gauge like a hawk and only make those few necessary trips before parking the car at home. Rick will be back from Minnesota late tonight or early tomorrow, so we will have more options by then on how to get people where they need to go while he replaces whatever plastic part cracked in the cold weather.

But the green antifreeze puddle does look pretty against the snow.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Series of Unrelated Thoughts

I've been eating a lot of hot cereal in the mornings lately. (Just check recent Wisconsin weather if you are wondering why.) But you can only eat so much oatmeal, even if it is heart healthy and even if you do vary the types of dried fruit you add. So I decided to try to make grits, the kind I used to get in Savannah. Quaker Oats Corn Meal has a recipe on the back for corn mush, and I figured that was "grits" for people who just didn't speak Southern. Anyway, when they tell you to "pour the corn meal into the boiling water slowly" - there's a reason for that. And grits, as I recall, were a lot thinner than the resultant corn mush (even discounting the lumps I made by dumping the whole measure of corn meal in at once). But these things can be corrected for my next try, and I remain convinced that there is very little in this world which cannot be improved by the addition of butter, honey and milk.

Next, here is the cotton nephew sweater. I think it's adorable and plenty soft. I'm making a little pilot cap to go with it, based on the Widow's Peak Cap by Melissa Henderson ( I was planning a second one with colorwork, also in dish cotton, but I had dozens of people from the Yahoo Groups tell me that the cotton bled, and would be too rough for a baby, and would shrink. I still love the green sweater, and if dishcloth cotton is good enough for the baby kimono in Mason-Dixon Knitting, I think it will be fine here. But maybe I will do the colorwork sweater in wool after all.

Next, the simple meal at church is tonight. I drove to Milwaukee yesterday and hauled back a bookcase in Rick's truck, as a favor to my boss, and she's supposed to be out of the office for much of today anyway with a court apearance and some other stuff, so I'm hoping she won't mind my ducking over to church for a bit about 2:30 and putting together some pans of Mac & Cheese. (It seems we have a bunch of cooked & frozen noodles left over from the chili dinner, as well as about 4 cups of shredded cheddar and some beef. So with Betty's guidance, the menu for tonight will be diner's choice of mac & cheese, mac & cheese with broccoli, or mac & cheese with broccoli & beef. There are even some left-over saltines, which I'm being encouraged to crumble up on top of the pans of noodles & cheese before they go in the oven. We're all about using up left-overs around here.) But I still feel like there ought to be some sort of fruit involved. Maybe I'll pick up a couple of bunches of grapes or something.

Finally, I had my last small metals class last night (until the next session). It can be a little intimidating sometimes, because there are some incredibly talented people in that studio and my stuff is pretty basic. But I tell myself that (a) they've been doing it for a lot longer, and (b) I'm still finding my own style. But here's one of my pieces, although I have to work on a better way to photograph it.

I have mentally titled it "Hope Springs Eternal," and I'm working on the theory that such a title is not pretentious. There is a vine worked into the torso with chasing, but I don't think it's dramatic enough and I plan to open it up with my jeweler's saw to just make an s-type cut-out of the vine. (My instructor was worried that this would make the piece spread too much. We'll see.) Also, the rock she's sitting on is a piece of stone from our retirement property in Arkansas. Once I'm completely happy with the figure, I'm going to epoxy her butt down on the rock and display her in my office. But I really like the colors brought out of the copper by the fire patina, and she's easily my favorite piece to date.

That's it, except Rick & Luc have located another Grand Am in Minnesota or some such place which is the same year as our dear departed Duke. They're talking about buying it and transplanting Duke's new exhaust, new struts and some other erstwhile prime parts. It sounds like a nice project to me, but certainly not something that will get Luc to class tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Duke's Demise

First of all, Luc is fine. We had some weather yesterday (surprise!) and his car door was frozen shut, so by the time he got it open he was running late for school. He called me a few minutes later to say that he'd wrecked his car, but he "was only going about 40" on this ice-covered turn. He skidded out of control, spun, and then hit a semi truck on the driver's side right behind the door.

Duke is totalled, obviously. The truck, on the other hand, has a cracked battery box and a slightly bent conduit of some sort on the undercarriage. State Farm says if the total damage to the truck is less than $750, it won't affect our rates. I've got my fingers crossed.

To be fair, at least 4 other cars skidded into the ditch while we were getting Luc's paperwork from the cops and waiting for the tow truck. There was no safe speed on this road - the cop almost fell down just trying to walk between his car and mine.
But Duke is dead, and now we have to figure out how Luc is going to get between high school and his college class - not to mention his job. Anybody got a cheap car for sale?

Monday, February 18, 2008

I Appreciate You, Honey

I have a basic understanding of welding and the effort that goes into transforming a wreck to a restored automotive work of art. I just don't find the individual steps of the process fascinating - and the garage workshop is usually too cold and too dusty for me to be comfortable spending a lot of time in it. But Rick is feeling very inspired about getting a VW Beetle on the road for me by Summer, and the rag-top sunroof has been a major component of that effort. He was actually bouncing with frustration yesterday when out of politeness he spent his afternoon on a different project.

So, since he wants some recognition and appreciation, here are pictures of progress to date. You'll notice he's welded a new tail section onto the body. The big square thing is the sunroof section, and he had to open up a bunch of little compartments all around the inside edge, replace hardware and repair sections of rusted metal, and then close them up again. And those rusted bars on the table are actually the struts for the sunroof - lots of work to do there before they are functional again.

Impressive, isn't he? (Timothy the shop rabbit thinks so.)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Church Services and Choir Practice Cancelled Due To Weather

What's a girl to do?

The blue sweater was my first attempt at f. Pea's organic cotton baby sweater - in some decidedly non-organic acrylic stuff donated from a friend's stash. The yarn is not much fun to work with, from a textural point of view, but I wanted to try the pattern out on something more or less disposable before I really invested in it. And I'm usually not much for those patterns which call for picking up stitches all along a long edge for a buttonband or whatever. But this turned out pretty well, and now that I've done the buttonband once I'm feeling a little more confident. (Theoretically it is not done, since the ends need to be woven in and the button loop & button sewn on. But it's already migrated to my "done but homeless" pile, so those things probably won't happen until just before the bazaar next fall.) Meanwhile, I'm starting one in a size appropriate for the World's Cutest Baby (in case I should happen to run into him in a few weeks) out of Lily Sugar 'n Cream in Key Lime Pie 02713 - I think, since I lost the ball band already. I'm leaving out the shoulder ridges and color changes, which simplifies the process and lets the yarn's color variations steal the show without competition. I'll just have to keep my eye out for the right button(s).

The yellow & coral thing is the baby blanket in process for my very fruitful cousin, Julie. (Her son was born almost 4 years ago on April 6. Her daughter was born last year on April 6. She's due again in the first week of April. We counted it back while we were teasing her, and aparently Independence Day is celebrated enthusiastically in their household.) Anyway, I'd promised her another blanket for the new baby, and she specifically requested something very soft and fluffy in "bright, bright yellow and coral." I'm about 1/2 done with it, and all I can think of when I look at it is "mango and papaya salad." It's awfully bright. I find myself a little overwhelmed by the color, and keep wandering away from it in favor of something more fun - say, a little green sweater.

Tomorrow: a bunch of "in progress" photos of VW parts, in appreciation for the enormous amount of work Rick has undertaken so that I could drive a VW this summer. I think it's like me making a sweater - sure, it's an act of love, but there's no way in hell I'd do it if I didn't also really enjoy the process.