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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Learning to Shawl and making Yogurt

As previously mentioned, I am knitting my first shawl.  This has turned out to be a learning experience because I have done things that make it look not-too-perfect to the knitter's eye.  I have tried several variations on increases so I could compare the "look".   But I will now pull it out.  This is not a true lace shawl, but is a Romney Kerchief at Brooklyn Tweed.  No use in continuing because I now know what I want to know about this design.  Yes, I found pix of this on the internet with very vague instructions -- not really a "pattern".  Now I can write a pattern that I will keep in my binder. 

Do others keep a journal or binder about their knitting?  I had started a binder with tabs for various sub-categories such as men's, women's, hats/mittens, techniques, etc.  When I was in my LYS recently, the clerk -- aware that I am a relative novice -- suggested that I keep a journal on my knitting.  I think my binder is my journal.  I put in the patterns that I like along with notes.  Now I need to add a tab for shawls.

Not to confuse you too much -- I started this a couple of days ago, and yesterday I went to the LYS and purchased enough of a cotton/linen yarn to make the aforementioned Romney Kerchief.  Yes, I did pull the test version out.  This time, the increases will all be uniform and look the way that I decided was "best" of test.  My LYS does not carry blocking wires because the owner has not been able to find a good wholesaler for them.  Does anyone have a recommendation for a wholesaler?

I am making yogurt today.  I have done this for many years because I am lactose intolerant, and commercial yogurts are not 100% fermented.  They also have too much junk added to them.  Mine is always mellow and creamy delicious.  Generally, I stick with a vanilla version, but I have made chocolate and other variations.  I have also made yogurt cheese (Greek yogurt).  Homemade yogurt is so easy to do, and so much tastier that it amazes me how many people still buy the junk sold in grocers.  My husband is one of those who must have his adulterated  commercial yogurt.

I also recommend kefir for the lactose intolerant.  I had never heard of it until a few years ago when a nutritionist recommended it.  It is better, healthwise, than yogurt because it has a greater variety of strains of bacteria than yogurt (10 to 3).  Not too many grocery chains carry it, but most health food stores do.  I have tried making it at home, but it is trickier to do than the yogurt is.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Yoga Convention

The folks in Portland, OR are enjoying a pleasant distraction this week.  The Iyengar Yoga National Association of the United States is having its teachers' convention there including the appearance of  Dr. Geeta S. Iyengar.  All but one teacher at the studio where I practice have gone.  Sally is remaining here to keep the ship moving forward.  To assist her, Shanan has come to assist with classes.  She taught one of my classes Monday night and Wednesday night and I came away with some new "moves".   It was the first time that I have met Shanan, and she is quite good.   

My regular teacher  is so full of good ideas that he is addictive.  Somehow, he always finds a way to help you to learn to do a pose that you swore your body would never do.  Take handstands.  I tried for 2-3 years to learn to do them to no avail.  After he moved here, it took only one of his handstand classes to have me upside down and elated.  It was liberating!  I took good notes and wrote up the procedure for learning to do handstands.  I have had many requests for a copy of the teaching notes, and others have been able to accomplish this also.  So if you need to work on this, just drop me an email.  I will happily send you an attachment.

Do you get tired of a knitting project before you are finished?  Well, the Avocet B cardigan is getting tiresome, so I have taken a break by learning to do a shawl (actually it is a big bandana).  It is not a fancy shawl, very simple pattern -- but it is a good way to use some cotton yarn left over from Husker's green pullover.  It is certainly going fast!  However, before I can really claim it to be finished, I will need to buy a set of blocking wires.  Have you noticed how much stuff you can "need" for knitting?  We could take a small vacation on what I have spent in the last year for my new hobby. 

I went to the dermatologist yesterday about a little red dot beneath an eye and next to my nose.  Yup, it is coming off.  However, it will swell and generally look atrocious for a while.  I was asked if I was planning to go to a wedding or anything soon.  Lots of stuff coming down other than a wedding, so the little red dot will come off on June 3rd.  So I will look awful for my birthday on June 11th. 

We hit 90 degrees May 11th.  It was in the 60s earlier this week.  Texas weather ...  And the AC was not working.  The repairman came out yesterday, and fortunately, the offending part is under warranty -- barely.  However, enough time had gone by that the labor was not under warranty.  When you are hot, you don't care.  Just fix it!  We are now very very cool.  No one can live in Texas without good old air conditioning. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Wonderful Son and his Very Smart Wife

For Mother's Day, my Son and wife, Dina, sent me a gift card from Amazon that I can use for my Kindle.  This was decided upon after he called me.  He said he wanted to get me something that would last longer than flowers which I thought was pretty clever of him.  His wife, Dina, is the techie in his household and she did the arrangement via Amazon.  The Known World will be mine shortly. 

Speaking of Dina, she is one clever gal.  She started her own infant and toddler shoe company, Uniquely Squeaky.  She researched places to get them made in China, covered the legal side of things, and started designing and importing the shoes for sale locally.  She called on a national company's headquarters to get into their outlets.  She has done all of this without any prior experience at importing or retailing.  The business is growing nicely.  When Husker heard what she was starting up, he was full of questions for her -- retired customs broker that he is -- but she had covered it all.  She never ceases to amaze me. 

Husker and I are lying low today.  I went out nordic walking in our neighborhood before 8 a.m. this morning to enjoy the cooler-than-normal Texas weather.  It was in the 60's!  We are blessed by a neighborhood that is a safe, friendly, quiet place to walk without any through streets (no through traffic!)  There are 4 long steep hills with the rest of the neighborhood ranging from gently rolling hills to flat.  I like the challenge of the hills.  It was a nice way to start Mother's Day. 

Son has been a real asset to me.  He is always thoughtful, calls me regularly, and likes Husker (my 2nd husband).  Some of me has rubbed off on him:  tries to stay in shape, is a bit hyperactive, won't tolerate debt, and is a Ford man.  Unfortunately, he hasn't learned to knit yet.

Speaking of knitting, here is a shot of the re-designed Avocet B cardigan as it progresses downward to the hips.  I am knitting this in Paton's Classic Wool, so there is no chance that I will be wearing it before late fall. 

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Back to knitting -- post RSI (repetitive stress injury)

The last sweater that I made (for my husband), really did an injustice to my right wrist and somewhat the same to the left wrist.  I gave it a rest (no knitting!) and also bought a brace.  The brace definitely has helped, and after a couple of days or so, thought I could go on to my next project.  That was not to be.  I began to get achy again.  There were days of knit-a-row, rest-a-day.  Finally, I just put everything aside for a long rest. 

Yesterday, I was able to knit several rows with the brace on, and did not experience any pain.  Not wanting to push the envelope, I did not put several hours into my work.  It is hard to pull back from something that is so enjoyable.  How many others have experienced this sort of knitting curse?

I am now enjoying my new project.  Following guidance from Wendy Bernard's Custom Knits, I have re-written Avocet B (  So far, so good.  I have reached the midriff, working top-down.  Last night, I tried it on again, but think that next time I will shorten the yoke about 1/2-1".  That would also take care of the slight amount of roominess.  It should not be a problem to continue as is for this version, but I definitely think that I allowed for too much ease and too much armhole depth.  Not a serious problem, but could fit a little bit closer.  Also, I converted this to raglan.  The results of this will be a new "basic" pattern for other cardigans.  After all, I have 1 daughter-in-law and 4 granddaughters!  I am sure they all need cardigans.

Yesterday was our annual Dinners for 99.  That is a picnic south of town at the home of a couple of friends and the invitees included all persons who were participants in Dinners for 9 during the September-May period.  This is kind of a supper club activity through our church.  The weather during the last 2 years' picnics have been less than optimal by being hot and steamy.  This year was a delightful exception with the temperature about 72, low humidity, clear skies and a light cool breeze.  There was so much food!  Of course, I tried to sample some of most of it, and that resulted in not being hungry the rest of the day.   Husker made 2 chocolate bread puddings for us to take along with  vanilla ice cream.  I also took the new cardigan in my work bag which was quite a conversation starter. 

Yes, Husker cooks.  In fact, he is quite an accomplished cook and does most, though not all, of our cooking.  BB (Before Brenda), he determined to learn to cook by cooking his way through Better Homes Cookbook, a la Julie and Julia.  Ladies -- he also irons -- and yes, he has brothers -- married brothers. 

Speaking of Husker's brothers ... younger bro, George, is also a restaurateur and definitely a gourmand.  Cooking skills are not wasted in their family because everyone seems to have talent in the kitchen.  

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Women in Wine

The title sounds like we were immersed in a barrel of wine.  Far from it!

It is actually the title of an event on the calendar for Grace, a delightful almost 2-year-old restaurant in Fort Worth, TX.  Four of my girlfriends and I went there this past Wednesday for this weekly affair in the bar.  Hosted by co-owner Caroline and sommelier, Jennie, it is an opportunity for ladies to sample 3 wines and partake of ample hor d'oerves.  Because the day was Cinco de Mayo, the featured wines were from Mexico.  You hear a little about the origin of the wines, and receive a handout that further details the wines of the evening.  It is a nice way to get out with your girlfriends, learn a little about wine, without stretching the wallet -- or waistline with a big meal.  Unfortunately, I was the designated driver, so all I could do was sip a little of  the wine, but not too much.  If you are ever in Fort Worth, look this gem up at, or go to 777 Main St.  Reservations are required for the dining room. 

Okay -- I must 'fess up.  Caroline and husband, Adam, are family.  Adam is my husband's son, and Caroline is his delightful business partner.  BUT, I am not prejudiced -- the restaurant is a real winner.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

George and Susan get Married

Husker and I went to a wedding on May 1, 2010, and it was a very merry time.  Actually, the wedding couple were friends of mine, but Husker seems to have decidedly enjoyed himself among so many strangers.  His route to a good time is all about degrees of separation ...

While standing outside the chapel, I introduced him to another student at the same yoga studio that I attend and her husband who happen to live in Denton.  Because of their domicile, Husker could not resist asking if they knew the Eli Young Band which started in Denton.  They began to talk about how much they liked the band, their daughter was a friend of a young lady who was engaged to a member of the band, etc., etc.  Bingo!  Was the young bride named Sarah and was she engaged to the bass player?  Yes!  The bass player is Husker's youngest son.  So we were all bonding then and there.  It is such a small world.

This morning proved once again that it is a small world.  The church choir had a guest soloist for Missa Gaia, Brad Leoli.  Brad is a teacher of saxaphone at Denton's U of North Texas.  Did he know Cheree W, a student there of saxaphone performance?  Yes!  The world shrinks a little more.  Cheree is another attendee of the said same yoga studio.

But back to the most important topic of the last evening...

George is our common yoga teacher (see how this all ties together), and one fine teacher he is.  Well, about 47 years ago, he asked out a certain fair-haired lady with whom he went to high school.  She said no because of some restrictions on dating by her parents.  He thought she didn't like him.  Fast forward about 45 years, and he moved back to Big D and guess whom he ran into?  As the wedding invitation said, a spark was kindled, and the rest is history.  The wedding was held in the first church founded in Dallas (1844) in the continuously used site (1856).  The venue was beautiful and packed with yogis, old classmates, friends, family.  The groom and best man wore their kilts, and the bride was beyond beautiful.  The reception was held at the home of the bride, and there were so many people there that one had to be careful about walking around the pool.  I was sure that someone would take a bath before the evening was out.  A band played, the wine and champagne poured, and the buffet dinner was stretched out over two rooms.

Husker was able to put a face on many of the names that I sprinkle through my conversations about my yoga classes at the Iyengar Studio.  He decided that he likes those folks.  However, he is not going to start taking classes.