Sunday, January 31, 2010

Otterwise.com is Live!!

Oscar and I have been working all week so that Otterwise.com would be ready for launch tonight.
Success!

We will continue to add more patterns over the next week, but for now, it all works!!

I Think He Likes It!

I think Sean likes his new sweater, and I think he has plenty of room to grow, too :-}
Success!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Lost in Bobbles

I've spent most of the day working on a new pattern (related to the teaser photo at left) while using Hulu to watch Lost In Space from the very beginning. I am REALLY enjoying it. I've never seen the beginning of the story before. Considering when the series was produced, they had some pretty amazing sets and special effects. The music was great, too! The series spanned 83 episodes, from 1965 to 1968, straddling black and white, and technicolor.
I find the early color tv shows wonderful fun to watch, So vibrant!

Check out this brief (few second) look at a set from episode 3 (black and white).

Friday, January 29, 2010

Pork and Lentil Stew

This is another of those rambling recipes without definite measurements, but it turned out pretty well, and for stews definite measurements are not really a requirement.

First I cooked a bag of lentils on the stove in water.
While that was happening, I put some sliced boneless pork chops in the oven at about 375 degrees.
They were kind of laid out in a fanned line, to fit in the 9 by 12-inch casserole dish I was using.
I roasted the pork until the color looked good (until the fatty bits were brown and crackling)
Then I trimmed most of the fat off (I kept the brownest bits to add to the stew), cut it into bite-sized pieces and put it all in the crock pot.
I added the cooked lentils, water and all. (Lots of vitamins in that water!)
Then I heated up some frozen onions in the pork casserole dish in the oven (after pouring off the broth), not completely cooked, just enough to brown the edges a bit, then dumped the onions in the crock pot too.

Then I added soem seasoning. Some minced garlic, a little salt, some black pepper, about a tsp of dried thyme, some hot pepper sauce, and a big bag of turnip cubes and greens (frozen).
By this time the fat had risen to the top of the pork broth, so I skimmed that off and added the broth to the pot.
After the turnips and greens were cooked, I added some balsamic vinegar and malt vinegar (about 1/4 cup in total).
I think tomatoes would make a great source for the acidity, replacing the vinegar, but I can't have them.

Then I let it cook quite a while until the house smelled fantastic.

It made 9 lunch servings for Oscar, and a bit of supper for me :-}



Thursday, January 28, 2010

Shoot for the Moon

I have been dedicating a portion of time every Thursday afternoon to pursuing the Master Hand Knitters program through the Knitting Guild Association.
At present, my goal is to complete a swatch each Thursday. I am on Swatch number 3. (A 20-stitch wide, 4" high piece in seed stitch).
Previous swatches have taken an hour or so with interruptions and whatnot, but this one for some reason is more demanding. Or maybe I have been more demanding of myself.
Previous swatches have been done in two or three tries, and I am quite satisfied with the result.
This one, I have started 7 times (Above are the attempts that made it past the first row, there were some where I was experimenting with cast on techniques that I didn't photograph).
People who have known me a while would find this hilarious. I am much more known for letting things be however they turn out (and indeed, I still enjoy that in some aspects of knitting) but for this program, something in me wants to show how accurate and precise I can be.
It makes for a good balance with other parts of my life, I guess.

I can no longer control great swaths of my life. I can't garden, act in local theater, go hiking or mountain climbing, etc, etc, ad infinitum... But I can control this swatch, and every swatch, on Thursdays. I can make certain that this little bit of knitting, on which I shall be judged, is the best I know how to make it.
There is still plenty of room in my life for non-precision knitting. And I can't honestly say that starting to knit the same swatch over and over provides me with any sense of joy.
But it does give me satisfaction, and a sense of controlling my destiny again.

BTW, I am moving forward with the attempt you see there on the needles. So far, so good.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Upcoming Big Stuff

I have exciting things happening next month!
First is my webpage, otterwise.com.
Oscar and I are working like very tired dogs (and occasionally like grumpy cats) to get everything ready for launching the last day of January.
I will be having a contest coinciding with the launch, prizes to be determined (I am thinking about perhaps a knitting book or two, or possibly a set of my patterns or perhaps a hand-knitted item. I also want to have a choice of non-knitter/crocheter prize too, for those who read but don't craft with fiber. Maybe a hardcover Fantasy book or the hand-knitted item? What do you think?) Rules will be set out in more detail, but essentially I will have you visit my new website and find something you like, and perhaps something you think could be improved when we revamp it later this year. Then you will come back and comment here on the blog.
The contest will probably run for three or five days, sometime the first week of February.
Next, I will have a pattern published February 1st in Knit Circus Magazine!
I am VERY excited about it. Part of the remuneration is an ad, which will link to otterwise.com (thus the timing of my website grand opening).
Knit Circus is more than a knitting magazine. Content also includes recipes, sewing projects, articles and interviews. I have been a subscriber for some time now and every issue has been wonderful. (here is a link showing content of the most recent issue)
My pattern will be published in the first issue to be totally web-based. This is VERY cool. I love being in on the ground floor of such an exciting change! Knit Circus will be doing some great things with their new format, including expanding the content. Details are being revealed in the Blog tour that kicked off Monday on Knit with KT.
SPEAKING of blog tours, I am delighted to be a stop on the tour! on February 10th, I will be posting my interview with Jaala Spiro, editor of Knit Circus! We will be exploring the topic:
"Have fun, knit, do good- why giving's an integral part of what we do."
Since it's inception, Knit Circus has been about giving. Proceeds from the magazine are earmarked for Heifer International and Kiva loans. I am formulating my list of questions for Jaala this week. If you have something you'd like us to discuss, just pop me a note at otterwise AT gmail DOT com.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

More Help For Haiti


On Ravelry, I have retagged all of my for-sale patterns (with the exception of those already dedicated to specific charities) to have the Help For Haiti Tags. 50% of the sales will go to Doctors Without Borders. All of them also have been changed to be $1.99.
Diana Troldahl Ravelry Designs The same holds true for patterns available to the right of this page, from now until the end of the month.

Cool Craft

While doing a google search for ideas on what to do with Pork and Lentils (a recipe will probably be posted tomorrow) I came across TerraGenesis.

Do you want to know how to make great looking table-top scenery and model terrain on a tight budget? Would you like to exchange terrain making tips and show off your model scenery to a family-oriented community where the emphasis is on encouragement rather than criticism? Here at TerraGenesis, we've been doing all that since 1997.

The specific link was to this: Ork Stompa
(Evidently, lentils make great rivets. Who knew?)

then I spotted the gallery... 199 PAGES of really cool table-top model builds based on all sorts of stuff, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Urban fantasy, Gothic stuff, ancient castles, whatever you can conceive seems to have someone representing it in mini-3-d form. Mainly this stuff is used for role-playing games (Ahh.. I remember my days of playing a hobbit-thief named Michelob, back in my D and D days.)
Anyway, thought this was cool beans. (get it? Lentils, beans.. I crack myself up!)

Fr a good overview, I suggest looking at the winners of the Competitions.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Arrrrrgh

Something happened Friday so that after a certain point in time EVERY email I sent (each of which is sitting smugly smiling in my 'sent mail' folder) in actuality disappeared into the ether, and never made it to the destination. I can email myself, and it arrives ok, but nobody else can hear from me via that particular venue. (Onanism, anyone?)
Turns out it is such an odd problem that it has been lofted up to Corporate for a solution. They are supposed to call me before doing anything drastic like *shudder* deleting all my saved emails to start fresh. (I was up until 3 a.m. downloading all the important stuff to my hard drive, so as not to lose my contacts list, pattern submission info etc).
So, if you did not receive a reply to an email you sent me sometime on Friday or after, I will be going through my sent items folder and sending you a response via my gmail account sometime in the next few days. Today? I will knit quietly at my Aestlight Shawl, hoping I can count with only 3.5 hours of sleep under my belt. Maybe I'd better stop after the garter stitch section and start a second one?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Gumbi

(I am too tired to go get a photo of my finished dish, so I chose a photo of some sunflowers instead.)

Gumbi is a version of gumbo using what we had in the house. This included using chorizo instead of andouille, so it is Mexicali Gumbo, or "Gumbi".
The heart of traditional gumbo is just that: using what you have in the kitchen or back yard to make a yummy stew/soup.

I started by roasting a cut up chicken in the uncovered roaster pan yesterday. I let it cool a little, then removed the chicken from the bones and put the meat in the fridge. I added water to the bones in the roaster (enough to cover) put the lid on, and continued cooking it low and slow in the oven a few more hours.
I poured the resulting broth through a fine mesh strainer and put the broth into the fridge, throwing away the bones.
I also got two packages of Cajun miripoix (peppers, onions and celery) out to thaw.

Today, I skimmed off the chicken fat and added it and enough olive oil to make a total of 2 cups of oil in the cast iron pan and let it heat. A little broth got in with the chicken fat so I let the moisture cook off.

I put the lovely gelatinized chicken broth into the big soup kettle, and added a container (4 cups) of kitchen basics chicken stock. I squeezed out all the moisture from the mirepoix and added the liquid to the broth kettle. (reserving the veg for later). I also added a tsp of my Dad's Cajun seasoning and a shot of smoky whiskey (to replace the smoke the andouille sausage would have brought).

Meanwhile, the oil and chicken fat blend is all melty. I put 1 3/4 cups of flour into a sifter, and while stirring, slowly sifted the flour into the oil. I kept stirring the roux until it turned dark caramel brown and smelled all toasty roasty (about half an hour of steady stirring).

Meanwhile, into the crock pot Oscar added some southern soup veggie mix (included okra) some green beans, and the chicken. We also sprinkled more of Dad's Cajun seasoning in there and let it all cook on medium.

I turned the heat on under the soup kettle filled with broth, then Oscar helped pour the roux into the broth. I let that cook on medium with an occasional stir.

Meanwhile I put the drained holy trinity (Cajun Mirepoix mix) vegetables into the emptied roux pan. I added two chorizo sausages, and about 1/3 rd cup of minced garlic, then chopped up the chorizo mush into burger-like bits.

When it was fully cooked out and a bit browned, We added the chorizo veggie mix and the broth-turned-gravy to the crock pot.
We let that cook another 45 minutes to an hour, then served it over rice.

YUM! With plenty left over for Oscar to use for lunches.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Babylon 5

I decided I needed a break from work knitting, so I've been having a lovely evening knitting on an Aestlight Shawl and watching Babylon 5 on Hulu.

(I'm using some Noro sock yarn for the shawl. Not so soft, but the colors are awesome, and a little conditioner in the soak before blocking will help the texture.)

Friday, January 22, 2010

New Pattern Available!


My newest pattern renamed Hope Springs is available for download HERE from Ravelry! ($1.99)
Here are the details:

A warm triangular hug provides the perfect canvas for hand-painted yarns.
The surrounding waved edge adds a touch of lace without detracting from the dance of colors.
An easy garter stitched border blends gracefully with the face-framing top edging.
Both charted and line-by-line written instructions included.
Easily customizable to any size (instructions for mods given)

Materials: Malabrigo or other Aran weight yarn 630-840 yards. Sample (made with a two-repeat border) used 650 yards (3 skeins of Malabrigo in Kaleidos). Full charts included for a deeper border, which would use up to 840 yards.
6 stitch markers
Circular needles U.S. size 9 (5.5 mm) at least 30 inches long.
Gauge is not crucial, but sample gauge was 15 st and 22.5 rows in 4 inches in stockinette after blocking.
Shawl sample measured 32 inches long, 65 inches wide (after gentle blocking)




Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Soft Waves (?)

I was able to get some better photos of my newest pattern this morning, tentatively titled 'Soft Waves'

The pattern is almost finished. I want to add some written directions for those who dislike using charts, then add the photos. I hope to have it up for sale by Sunday!

First is a photo showing the whole thing:


And this is where the top border meets the right tip of the shawl. I really love how this worked out :-}

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mokihana Finds The Best Stuff

Good tears.


Task List

Oscar and I made wonderful headway on the house this weekend; so much so that we are still a bit in recovery mode.
Add to that I somehow caught a cold (and have a wicked sinus infection) and my designing needs to be put aside for today.
Never mind, I have plenty to do to keep occupied.
I am currently knitting a sample of my Kiva Bag for Knit Picks. I have decided for that, (and for my other charity pattern, Cloud On Her Shoulders) I can bring in much more money for the charities by selling them through Knit Picks, and, thankfully, Knit Picks has accepted the patterns. Now to get new samples to them! I have gifted most of my samples away, and the one I still have has been heartily loved and used, and is not all shiny-new anymore.
There are three more existing patterns they have accepted, that also need samples. I can keep knitting on those today too.
One advantage of relisting these patterns is the impetus it gives me to re-write the directions using the knowledge I've gained over the past few years.
My next day with a good brain and relatively low pain will be dedicated to writing code for Otterwise.com. I can write enough cut-and-paste html to help put the site together. I also need to choose and resize the photos for each pattern. My self-imposed deadline is February 1st, and it is galloping toward me.
Today, though I will have a day filled with simple sample knitting and lots of hot tea, and hope to have kicked the cold's hind end and feel much better tomorrow.
Oh, and I have new DVDs of 'Waiting For God' to watch.

Monday, January 18, 2010

1st of 10?

Well, my first venture into lace charting has turned out pretty well, despite my lack of blocking (physical) ability. It can be frustrating to know what SHOULD be done to create the best possible outcome and be physically unable to accomplish it. Still. It will be warm, and it will look better once it is dry and being worn.
The important thing is that I was successful in charting an accurate lace pattern (one adapted from an old one I found in Weldon's). The blocked dimensions are 32 inches down the center, and about 65 inches wide from wingtip to wingtip.
Although it is hard to tell from the photos, the lace along the top looks quite nice, and will act like a collar. First nice day outside and we can take some photos.



Sunday, January 17, 2010

Trading Up For Ireland


I was reading Deb Robson's blog yesterday and discovered a free-lance writer named Rosemarie Colombraro was starting something pretty darned interesting.
Remember the red paper clip guy who traded up for a house using Craig's List?
Rosie is throwing her fate on the winds and seeing if she can use a similar method to make one of her dreams a reality.
She wrote:
"I was reading an e-newsletter sent by Barbara Winter, author of “Making a Living Without a Job,” and was making notes on her first article titled “7 Easy Ways to Warm Your Cockles” Since I had no idea I even had cockles, I figured I’d better take notes. I wrote down the seven ways and planned to start cockle-warming first thing in the morning. I read on, and stopped at an entry about a workshop held in Galway, Ireland.

Be still my heart. This area of Ireland had called to me for the better part of my 50 years on this earth. It was on my “Boxcar List.” That’s like a bucket list, but much bigger and harder to ignore. I had written about the female pirate queen, Grainne O’Malley, and recognized her castle immediately among the pictures on the workshops web site. There was a strange need to visit, to walk the countryside and find spiritual sites I knew but could not describe, to breathe the air of a country that I recognized only through genetic memory, through the drops of blood that came from my Irish ancestors. Years ago, I shared my draw to the Galway region with a fellow writer who came from Ireland. “No matter how many generations are away,” he said, “Ireland always calls her sons and daughters home....

I believe that some things may seem improbable, but nothing is impossible. And I started thinking about the guy who had nothing but a paper clip. I did a quick look through my apartment – remember, readers, I am packing, so pickings are slim. But here are some items I found that I am willing to barter to piece together a trip to Ireland, in order of value:

1. 6 AAA batteries. Not new, but a few of them might have a little bunny left in them.
2. A wire hanger, used.
3. My wig, used this summer during my bald period.
4. The hair of a dog. Really. The hair of a dog. TRADED for handspun yarn – see pics and description in “Trading” page
5. A Virgin Mobile Kyocera phone , with chew marks and a battery that is still fairly good.
6. And, if I find it, I will offer a four-leaf clover, found by me. This is surely worth an entire trip, flight and all! Let me know if anyone is interested in this one and I will look harder. (UPDATE: I found it!)

Here’s more:
JUST ADDED: My high school class ring, circa 1975.
My voice: Got an advertising project that needs a female voice?
My skill: Blog content? A story…on Ireland? Want me to tweet about your Irish wolfhound?

So, whatcha need? Let’s trade! We can’t win if we don’t play. I’ll post offers here and keep you updated on any progress. And if this dream doesn’t happen right now, it will eventually. There is always a Plan B."

She has added a Trading Up For Ireland Barter Page to her site that will log updates on her quest.

What does this have to do with me?
I decided to join in the fun, and traded two of my shawls (the sample of Aconite, and the Berroco Seduce Dragontail sample) for some glorious fiber Deb Robson traded for the hair of a dog.

I've always wanted to visit Ireland, too. I may not get there, but it will be very satisfying to help Rosie go!

So, if you would like to trade for either of my shawls or anything else that is listed (two Belgian lace butterfly pins have been added since I last looked) click on over and, if you feel drawn to, help Rosie get to Ireland!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

How Designers are Helping Haiti

Casey, a guru of Ravelry (responsible for the rocking code and many other fine and wondrous things) Has created a special search tab "Help for Haiti".

If a designer wishes to contribute all or part of the proceeds for one of their designs to the Haiti relief effort, they add that tag to the pattern page on Ravelry, then write in the description the details of their donation (what percentage, where they are sending the money, all that good stuff) Then a Ravelry user simply types "Help for Haiti" in the search box, and all those patterns come up, and the knitter or crocheter can help by buying one or more of the tagged patterns. With more than half a million registered users, this can make a serious dent in the money needed to help.

Both Alison Jeppson-Hyde and myself have ties to Haiti through family members (her son has Haitian friends through the Morman ministry, and my uncle Marshall and family lived there for a time when they were missionaries years ago.)

Putting it all together this morning made the choice of a donation pattern easy:

The bag I designed for Alison's new notebook computer when she was so sick last year; The Alison Bag.
(first link to Ravelry page) I will donate 50% of the resulting proceeds of the Alison Bag to Doctors Without Borders, through the Knitters without Borders program.
That donation deal also goes for the pattern purchased on my blog here (see the 'buy now' button at the right of this page) and for any Alison Bag purchased on Patternfish, through January 31st.





Friday, January 15, 2010

On Haiti

Tragedies like the earthquake are too huge to be completely comprehended. So we cling on to one small story at a time, and it helps us feel connected.
That small change in us can lead to giving what we can afford to give. No matter how small, those parts make up a whole until the charity grown from our love is as big as the disaster which prompts it.

Please find a way to help. It matters, it really truly matters.

I Won!!!! (an Eyeball button!)

This is so cool. I won a hand crafted button that looks like eyeballs! Why am I so thrilled, you ask? Because my BFF Lynx had a birthday, and I KNOW she's gonna love it.



I won it from a comment I left on Corvus Tristis.
The Crow's Cache Etsy shop has some really cool stuff, too. Beautiful hair combs, necklaces, earrings, bracelets.. Take a gander at the gorgeous Maneki Neko Necklace (Amethyst, hematite, malachite and silver). I dare you to look and not want it!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Best Laid Plans!

I got up this morning, worked a bit on a new submission for Knit Circus' Summer Issue and prepared to plunge into my planned afternoon working on my TKGA Hand Knitter master's Level 1 tasks. First I checked the site to see if there had been any updates (there hadn't been the last three times I checked, but why take chances?) and found that program had been updated last week Wednesday!
So I sent off an email requesting the updated package.
So I guess I'll start that Thursday Master's Program thing after I get the update.
So, back to the crocheted Kimono for Great-Nephew Levi (due February 14th) and more work on my Knit Circus submission!
With breaks for dishes and more yarn organizing. And tea.

Edited to add: The updates just arrived in my mailbox! Back on task! (with a cup of tea, too)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Yarn Organization

Today while Oscar is out running errands, I am going through the last disorganized bit of my yarn stash.
I am doing it in two stages.
One stage where anything that already has a specified bag (Malabrigo, Yarn with Design ideas already attached etc) goes in it's special bag or bin, and anything without a home goes in a big empty 'orphan' bin.

The second stage is to take the 'orphan' yarns and create catagories and storage solutions for them (either bags within bags, or drawers).

Then I need to decide what should stay in the living room (hopefully just Works In Progress, design tools and finished objects, eventually) and what will live in the studio.
In reality the studio isn't QUITE ready to receive the majority of my stash, so it will remain in the living room for at least another week. I may also need to expand what stays in the livingroom. The primary purpose of the studio right now is for Oscar to do homework, at least until his back room Man Cave Study is ready for him.

Then on to the 'tools'. I want most of them to live in the studio too, keeping just the basics out for playing around with new ideas.
Now that I work anywhere up to 70 hours (70 hours when I am feeling great) per week on Otterwise and other knitting, I really want the living room to be for relaxation and working on only a few projects at a time, rather than all yarn all the time.

When I am ready to decide on yarn for the next project, I can bring out a selection to play with, then put them away when the decision has been made.

But for now, I need to stop blogging and start sorting, or Oscar will be back before I get anything done!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sean's Big Boy sweater, and books

First, a photo of Sean's sweater. All the knitting part is done. I still need to weave in ends and block it.
It is made of a combination of Berroco Peruvia (the darker green and orange), Cascade 220 (the gray) and Wool of the Andes (the lighter teal).
It is my own design, which I will tweak into a pattern sometime this year.


Leslie Go. asked which books I got, here is a photo.

from top to bottom:
Color by Kristin, Kristin Nicholas
Knitting Lace, Susanna E. Lewis
Andean Folk Knits, Marcia Lewandoski
Knitted Lace of Estonia, Nancy Bush
and
Crazy Lace, Myra Wood

I also have Modern Lace Knitting Books 1 and 2 on the way.

Yummy!

Monday, January 11, 2010

So much to write about

I am having trouble settling on a topic for today's post, so I guess I'll touch on several things. :-}
In no particular order:

-I am expecting my second check from Knit Picks today or tomorrow. Thereafter a check will come each quarter (January, April, July, and October). Sales are doing quite well. I have 6 patterns currently listed, and Knit Picks has accepted 5 more. (These will be patterns I have previously released using other yarns.) My friend Lynx has agreed to knit three of the samples for me, bless her. Knit Picks has also expressed interest in 3 more pattern ideas I presented, for which I already have yarn. Working with Knit Picks has been lovely, and I hope to work with them from this point forward as long as I am designing.

-I have finished the charts needed for my first of 10 shawls I am challenging myself to design this year. It was a big task, as I had first to learn how to chart lace stitches, then learn how to chart triangular lace shawls. It took a few weeks before I figured out that my first (antique and somewhat obscure) lace pattern was not going to work. After I changed to a well-tweaked lace pattern I wrote up last year, it took about 3 days to create the necessary 4 charts. Leslie Ga. has agreed to test knit the shawl from my proto-pattern. Bless her too!

- I am in the home stretch of a sweater I am knitting for Sean-boy. After I finish the second sleeve, all that will be left is a small collar, weaving in ends, and blocking. I sized it hoping it will be wearable this year, and fit him loosely next year. If I am lucky, it might still be wearable a third winter. (It has an easy-fit raglan shaping). Of course I wrote down what I did, and it has sparked two new pattern ideas. I am so blessed that I never seem to lack for new knitting ideas! I don't take it for granted. Sean and family will be visiting next weekend. It has been a looong time since everyone was well enough for us to get together!

-Oscar and I spent time this weekend organizing and sorting through some boxes that have been stored in my studio, soon to be Oscar's study-place. We ROCKED. We found out we work most efficiently when we work together in the living room (bringing boxes out a few at a time) not in the room which is the focus of the organizing. We both get too easily overwhelmed when in the messy room. So, we rocked it out, and sorted through much of my yarn, plus at least 4 boxes that have needed sorting for years. I am well over half finished going through all my yarn and resorting it for storage by manufacturer, and making a special space for my Knit Picks samples and yarn support yarns.

-Speaking of yarn sorting, I was very relieved to find I only have 4 projects in process for friends! I had somehow felt as if there were many many more waiting for me to finish.
1. Sean's sweater, almost done
2. Lynnie's platypus, almost done
3. Jason's Cthuluclava, only needing the tentacles and a bit more knitting
and 4. The final seaming of a small jackety thing for Ysabeau from a pattern I am still wrestling into shape, waiting for my skill level to reach my aspirations before actually writing it for different sizes.
I DO still have 2-3 more pairs of socks to knit for Dad, but they are still in yarn form.

- The Malabrigo shawl I am knitting from my 1st '10 for 2010' pattern (tentatively titled 'Soft Waves') is about 2/3rds finished.

-My first two book reviews in a long time have been written and submitted to Freshfiction.com.
The first, for 'Confessions Of A Demon by S. L. Wright is available HERE.
The second for 'Heart's Blood' by Juliet Marillier should be available any day now. (I have two more book reviews coming out in Knit Circus magazine in the next few issues)

-I am blocking out Thursday afternoon to begin working on my Master Level in knitting. Thursday afternoons will remain dedicated to this except when unavoidable deadlines or health crap gets in the way.

- Knit Circus Magazine is going online in early February with thier Spring issue. I will have a shawl pattern (based on another obscure antique stitch pattern I translated into modern terms) and a book review in that issue. I will have another book review in the Summer issue when that comes out. I will be submitting at least one pattern for the Summer issue (socks for little girls). I really like working with the Knit Circus staff. They are terrific people.
I am honored to be a stop on their blog tour, too. (currently scheduled to stop by here on February 10th).

- I treated myself to several knitting books I have been longing for. I am having a wonderful time sipping at each one in turn, soaking in information, enjoying what other knitters are doing with the craft. I will probably write reviews for at least some of them when I am done absorbing them. Always something new to learn, thank goodness! :-}

So, a lot going on for such a quiet retiring person like myself. (Someone clap my brother on the back to keep him from choking on his laughter) :-}

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Homes away from Home: Favorite Restaurants

Alison of SpinDyeKnit (and author of a fabulous book called 'Wrapped in Comfort') blogged in part today about favorite restaurants in foreign cities. ('foreign' in this case meaning not 'home', not necessarily outside the U.S.)
As often happens, her blog sparked memories of my own.
I realized that everywhere I've lived, I have had one or two (or more) favorite eateries. When I ate there, it was like I created my own connection of 'home' to the place. Familiar space, familiar food, familiar faces. I imagine now those connections were a large part of balancing my life. My love of adventure balanced by some kind of connection to place, albeit far from Michigan.

In Tokyo, it was a yaki tori stand just outside the exit from the train station, and a small shop that sold steamed buns from a warmly-lit box on the counter.
In Kofu, it was a Japanese-owned Italian restaurant that served the best white clam sauce I have ever had.
In Nara, I loved to get the smoky whole sweet potatoes served off the carts in the park in winter, and the sushi rolls served in the same location in summer. Across from the school, there was a pub owned by a former British footballer, that had lovely ploughman's . Also near the school was a second floor family restaurant that had great breakfasts (an omelet stuffed with tomato-flavored rice and chicken comes to mind)
Near my apartment was the Boulangerie that provided delicious bagettes, perfect for filling with brie and butter and taking on all-day hikes.
After a long evening of teaching, I loved to visit the little mom and pop place around the corner that was set up to let you create your very own okonomiyaki at your diner-style booth.

And that's just Japan! When I look back, I followed the same pattern where ever I've lived.

Woodland, California: The little storefront that sold slow-roasted pork sandwiches on hand-made yeasty bread, with mayonnaise and pickled jalapenos. It also had the best chicken soup I've ever tasted.

Indianapolis, Indiana: The Thai restaurant that had a beautiful lush buffet, and the best Tom Kha Gai.

Even going as far back as my college days at Michigan State University, I still remember the Kung Pao chicken delivered by The Great Wall Chinese restaurant right to my dorm room. I've not had any better in all these years.

Wow. Now that I've lived here in Ypsilanti for so many years in a row (12 years, a new record for me) it's no wonder I have so many home-connections to restaurants around here. Hmm.. it's been too long since visited Dalat's, come to think of it.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

I love really bad TV

I often get up earlier than Oscar. Especially when we hit the sack around 11 p.m. I rarely sleep more than 7 hours, so on those occasions I am usually up (and rested) by 6 a.m.
We have a small house, so noise travels pretty easily. So those early mornings have been kind of quiet and a bit boring until recently.
For Christmas, we each got a set of headphones. Now I can knit while watching bad TV on Hulu.com.
This morning, I discovered 'Cleopatra 2525'.
It has to have one of the, uh, most striking theme songs I've ever heard
The theme song is based on a pretty good hit from the 60's
In the Year 2525 by Zager and Evans
But when they used it for the Cleopatra 2525 theme song.. well. Let's just say they changed it up a bit.

I don't quite remember what I was doing in 2000 to have missed it the first time around, but I am enjoying the show immensely so far. (Of course I've only been watching about 10 minutes).
One of the actors is Gina Torres (Zoe from Firefly). I wonder who else I'll spot?
It's pretty easy to make me happy, I guess.
Bad TV. It's a lot like Saturday morning cartoons for my age group, only with hulu, I can create my own ever changing lineup.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Why I Love Oscar

Well, there are a multitude of reasons I love Oscar, but one of them is because he is always willing to help me accomplish my dreams.
On this particular morning, he was willing to climb early out of a warm and cozy bed, tramp outside in the chilly Michigan weather, trip over weeds and hidden holes in the yard, and help me get photos of my 'Mysig Means Cozy' socks.
We've been together ten years, and it just keeps getting better. (He isn't grumpy in the first photo, he's just sleepy and standing in very bright sunshine)



Thursday, January 07, 2010

Why I love dogs



I miss Kitsune.

Visitors

We had a lovey evening. My niece Liz, her beau Tucker and (squeal!) their sweet bull terrier pup Roxy visited last night.
Roxy liked falling asleep on me :-}

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

More patterns up on Knit Picks



Three more of my patterns have gone live on Knit Picks; Elijah Hat, Catseye Socks and Mysig Means Cozy socks.
They have a gizmo that lets you pick out the yarn for your project the same time as you get the pattern, which is pretty cool.


Here's an example screen shot for my Catseye pattern:

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Another Teaser

I am currently working on a new shawl pattern. My first of the 10 for 2010 challenge. I am challenging myself to design 10 shawls in 2010. This one is a warm and cozy start.


I also spent some time yesterday creating this ad. I am pleased with how it turned out. It will run in the Spring issue of Knit Circus (online), and link to my own website!

Yes, Otterwise.com will be live this month! (link is to the splash page Oscar made for me) Thank goodness I have a husband who knows how to build web pages. I am sure could learn how to do a rudimentary one, but his are MUCH better. And I'd rather spend time learning how to build knitting charts :-}.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Scheduling Life

As much as I enjoy my hard-won free spirit reputation , I really do accomplish MUCH more with schedules and deadlines.
Now that the pattern business is taking off and actually paying back some of the money I've spent on yarn, I don't want to become so mired in 'work' knitting that I lose part of the joy.
Like many ADHD folk, I have a tendency to hyper focus on one thing and neglect everything else until I run down and wind up too exhausted to do the next important thing.
Not good.

So I have been pondering what activities in my life I really want to focus on, with the goal of creating a workable weekly schedule incorporating all of them.

One unexpected outcome of the good pattern sales has been an increase in my self confidence; to the point that I plan to begin writing fiction again.

I also want to keep learning new tools for design and writing.

I also want to complete the first tier of the master Knitter's program offered by TKGA.

I feel the only way to make progress on these fronts is to work on them every week.

Add in the house reorganization, and of course time with my beloved Oscar, and time spent communicating with dear friends and my empty life feels pretty busy these days :-}