affreca: Cat Under Blankets (Default)
The big excitement this week (both in general and for my fiber hobby) was the Jefferson City Fiber Retreat this weekend. I went with K, who is becoming my favorite fiber buddy. I took four classes, one which was excellent (shibori dyeing), two of which were vaguely OK (spinning dual coat fleeces in the grease and fractal spinning), and one of which I almost strangled the instructor (spinning fun yarns). It was a cheap conference, especially since you could bunk at the 4-H grounds for $15 a night and they provided all of the meals. Sadly, this was the last year of the fiber retreat, as their location (farm extension for one of the universities) is starting to charge for use.

It was a little weird because K's mom passed away Friday night. It was not unexpected, and K is the type to have everything organized, so she decided to continue with the conference (which was nice for me, so I didn't have to figure out how to get myself and my stuff home, or back and forth between the 4-H grounds and the farm). I mostly asked her how she was holding up and made jokes.

I'm glad I took today off of work, to give myself time to like people again. I unpacked my dirty laundry and washed it, and unpacked my purchases and logged them. On the way home, K and I talked about going to Fiber U in July and maybe someday going to a master spinner class.

I also made good progress on March's project. I'm into the striping down the body. I'm afraid it is going to be a bit long, but I think I'll just plan to wear it over skirts. I also made stitch markers to match. I've been using a pair of split rings (with string tied on the end of round marker), but today I sat down with wire and pearls (in honor the pattern name). I still haven't grafted the under arms of February's project.
affreca: (Craft)
Spring in Kansas. It was crazy windy all day, and had a strong but quick line of storms blow through this evening. Hopefully pressures will settle down, they haven't been playing nice with the light cold I'm fighting.

February's project isn't done, but almost so. After fighting with the last bit this weekend, I just finished binding off the neckline. I still have to graft the armpits, but I'm not up to learning the kitchener stitch tonight. So that, then block. I can see all the problems other people have had with it, but it worked out in the end. The neckline is wide in the shoulders, but it isn't enough to continue futzing with.

March's project is coming along. I've changed the neckline to a v-neck, and I think it is working. I've got the back, left front and half the right front shoulders done. The arms are a new style for me, so we'll see how that works out. I haven't made a new set of stitch markers for this project, which is probably wise. The selection of split rings came in, and I've been some of them.

I finished spinning the BFL/silk. I still need to set the twist, but I did get enough yardage out of 8 ounces. It will probably be April's project. I will use the rest of the top I bought for another project. Possibly the grey sweater.
affreca: Cat Under Blankets (Default)
Per [personal profile] james_davis_nicoll; books I have are bold, books I have are bolded, books I've read are italics. Authors I have or read other works by get the same treatment.

A Door Into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski
A Voice Out of Ramah by Lee Killough
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
China Mountain Zhang by Maureen McHugh

Don't Bite the Sun by Tanith Lee
Dreamsnake by Vonda N. McIntyre
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Galactic Derelict by Andre Norton
Gate of Ivrel by C.J. Cherryh

Golden Witchbreed by Mary Gentle
Jirel of Joiry by C.L. Moore
Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee
The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Female Man by Joanna Russ
The Many Colored Land by Julian May
The Next Continent by Issui Ogawa
The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge
Warm Worlds and Otherwise by James Tiptree, Jr.

So that's 12 I've read, and 11 I own. I would quibble on the chosen books for a couple of the authors (I'd pick Dawn over Kindred for Butler, and probably a different Cherryh), but it includes several of my recent favorites (Ancillary Justice and Ninefox Gambit) and several of my formative favorites (Dreamsnake, Snow Queen).
affreca: (Craft)
Well, I did not manage to finish February's project in February. Changing patterns twice will slow a woman down, and February is a short month. I did finish the lace portion of the yoke today, so almost done. Due to the heavy yarn, once I connected the body and arms, it got to be to heavy to take with me to work and I've been only able to work on it in the evenings. And then I spent two evenings celebrating my birthday and Lawnchair's promotion..

But since I couldn't take February to work, I've been taking March's project with me to work this week. I actually knitted a full sized guage swatch (4" by 4"), and cast on the back shoulders today. I shall knit a project with different colors! I mean in the same project. Considering it ranges from purple to green, not actually different colors than I normally use. I carded several random braids into 10 different colors, and spun them up. Hopefully I estimated corrected how much of each color I need. I'm still trying to decide if the stripes are going to go in order (purple, blueish purple, purple blue ... to green) or out of order (purple, purplish blue, green blue, blueish purple ... to green). There's also a bit of black for framing stripes.

Next up is finish plying the white BFL/silk for a Melusine shawl. And dig through the stash for some fiber to send. And inventory the KAWS door prizes.. and everything else.
affreca: (Craft)
I have managed to get through the tricky part of February's project's sleeves, now onto lots of cabling. The honeycomb pattern does not thrill me, and I'm worried that the yarn is to heavy. This is going to be a damn warm sweater, and wear like a leather bomber jacket. It might even turn knife attacks.

Thursday was the monthly spin in at Yarn Barn, so I started back spinning the yarn for the mermaid sweater (hopefully March's project). The combination of not loving honey comb and touching my wheel got be excited about the mermaid yarn again, and today I finally finished carding the wool for that project. I'm pretty pleased by the color gradation.
affreca: (Craft)
I'd told myself that I'd read a couple of documents for work this weekend. Like everytime I tell myself that, I get to Sunday evening hating the idea. And I'll be out of the office most of the next two days...

So I knit. I finished my January project (Campbell & 2nd using my handspun in purple and greys) today, except for weaving in ends and blocking. It is a couple of days early, but I then cast on for February's project. This will be try number two to use the yarn I spun for the sweater that got ripped out after sitting unfinished for two years. It's a two ply, roughly aran weight, in Ashland Bay's English Garden merino. I love the color (in fact, the sweater I finished at Christmas is the same fiber and colorway, just spun finer). February's project (subject to change) is a free cable sweater (Lempster), and we'll see if I can make it work. Thankfully there are enough people who've made it to explain the corrections needed.

Soup of the week is a triple batch ofmeaty lentil soup, made with ground beef. Last week's potato leek soup was OK, but I ended up freezing over half. Hopefully I'll like it better when I need fill in soup.
affreca: Cat Under Blankets (Default)
Still on the stove, so I can't say if it is a keeper yet or not. Following the recipe at Cooking and Beer.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large leeks, dark green parts removed, diced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced (or more)
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
6 cups chicken broth
1 can drained garbanzo beans
1/2 cup tahini (or however much is left in the bottom of the jar)
1 cup heavy cream

1) Melt the butter in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Once melted, add the leeks, and dried thyme. Season with salt and black pepper. Stir. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the veggies are tender. Add the garlic and potatoes, cook for 2 minutes before stirring in the vegetable broth. Bring the soup to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes.

2) After 2 minutes, stir in the garbanzo beans and tahini. Simmer for 5 more minutes until the beans are warm and the tahini is fully incorporated.
3) Blend the soup until smooth and creamy with an immersion blender. Season to taste with salt and black pepper, and then add the heavy cream. Cook for 5 more minutes until nice and warmed through.
affreca: Cat Under Blankets (Default)
I am not a regular poster, but.. And after years of trying, I think I've managed a lentil soup that tastes close to the one at Aladdin Cafe. I just needed to suck it up and use some tomato sauce.

1/2 onion (1/2 cup)
1 carrot (1/2 cup)
2 cloves garlic
1 small can tomato sauce
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp Turkish spice blend (Penzey's)
6 cup chicken stock (1 large tub)
1 1/3 cup red lentils (rinsed)

Put a little oil in the pan, start cooking the onion and carrot. When the onion is mostly translucent, add the garlic, then the tomato sauce and the spices, then the stock and the lentils. Bring to boil, then simmer 15-20 minutes. When lentils are soft, mash with stick blender. Add salt to taste.
affreca: Cat Under Blankets (Default)
Chicken, Lentil and Barley Soup
Ingredients

1/2 cup dry lentils
1 cup sliced leeks or chopped onion (1 mid sized onion)
1/2 cup chopped red or green sweet pepper (1/3 green bell)
1 clove garlic, minced (2 cloves)
2 tablespoons butter
5 cups chicken broth (stock)
1 1/2 teaspoons snipped fresh basil or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
1 teaspoon snipped fresh oregano or 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
3/4 teaspoon snipped fresh rosemary or 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed (skipped, none in house)
1 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken or turkey (chicken thighs poached in stock before started soup)
1 1/2 cups sliced carrots (3 carrots)
1/2 cup quick-cooking barley
1 14 1/2 ounce can tomatoes, cut up

Rinse and drain lentils; set aside. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven cook leeks or onion, red or green pepper, and garlic in margarine or butter until tender but not brown. Carefully stir in chicken broth, basil, oregano, rosemary, pepper, and the lentils. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
Stir in chicken or turkey, carrots, and uncooked barley. Simmer, covered, about 20 minutes more or just until carrots are tender. Stir in undrained tomatoes; heat through. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
affreca: (Books)
Migraining today, so not enough energy to do the what I've been reading.. but I can do the 60 Essential SFF Reads meme

What I've read from renay's 60 Essential SFF Reads:

Bold = read, italics = read another book by the same author, strikeout = didn't finish

Grimspace by Ann Aguirre
Primary Inversion by Catherine Asaro
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear
Flesh and Spirit by Carol Berg
Chime by Franny Billingsley
Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop
Tithe by Holly Black

The Long Tomorrow by Leigh Brackett
Cordelia's Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold
War for the Oaks by Emma Bull
Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

Synners by Pat Cadigan
Foreigner by C.J. Cherryh
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Survival by Julie E. Czerneda
Tam Lin by Pamela Dean
King's Dragon by Kate Elliott
Black Sun Rising by C.S. Friedman
Slow River by Nicola Griffith
Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly
Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge
Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb
The God Stalker Chronicles by P.C. Hodgell

Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson
Valor's Choice by Tanya Huff
God's War by Kameron Hurley
The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Daggerspell by Katharine Kerr
The Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein
Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress
Deryni Rising by Katherine Kurtz
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
Ash by Malinda Lo
Warchild by Karin Lowachee

Legend by Marie Lu
Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey
Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
Dreamsnake by Vonda N. McIntyre
The Thief's Gamble by Juliet E. McKenna
Sunshine by Robin McKinley
His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik
Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

Diving into the Wreck by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
The Female Man by Joanna Russ
Old Man's War by John Scalzi
A Door Into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski
The Grass King's Concubine by Kari Sperring

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
City of Pearl by Karen Traviss
Her Smoke Rose Up Forever by James Tiptree, Jr.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge
Farthing by Jo Walton
The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells
affreca: (Craft)
Like so many I've lost the habit of posting, though not that of reading. So I shall try to post.

At the start of the year I decided that it was the year of knitting, and that I would knit some every day. And then I ripped my socks multiple times, and ignored the resolution. However, I brought yarn and needles for a pair of fingerless gloves that a coworker/friend asked for to WisCon. Between the flights and panels, I finished the gloves in two days, and then restarted the socks. And then I finished them, and started a new pair from the BFL/silk dyed by Two Windows. And then didn't like how the pattern was working so started a couple of shawls and sweaters before finding a project I liked (very simple V-neck raglan).

Currently I'm working on both the socks and sweater depending on which annoyed me the least. With the socks I tried a new heel (sweet tomato) and think they work.
affreca: (Brave)
Well, I haven't gotten the official letter, but by checking the online database I found out that I managed to pass my professional geologist exam and can add two letters to my signature block. And try to ask management for a raise. Sushi and choya may have been consumed in celebration.
affreca: (Books)
Read: I finished Black Ships. I loved the setting, which made me poke around corners of wikipedia. Story was OK.

After that I started Marguerite Reed's Archangel. Which I should like, but just wasn't into at the time, so I picked up some fluff. We'll see if I get back to it.

Said fluff was books 1 and 2 of Lauren Esker's Shifter Agents series, Handcuffed to the Bear and Guard Wolf. The series consists of paranormal romance thrillers, with the heroes (so far, next it's the heroine) working for a federal agency that polices shifters (werewolves and the like). The shifters remind me of my high school World of Darkness days making up extreme were creatures (the heroine of the second book is a were-koala). Handcuffed to the Bear is what is says on the tin, with the hero (a werebear) and the heroine (a were-lynx) waking up naked and handcuffed together on an island being hunted by werelions. Guard Wolf involves the werebear's partner being handed a box of werewolf puppies and trying to find their family with a sexy werekoala social worker. Fluff. I'd recommend them if it sounds like your level of fluff.

Reading: Last night I ran out of stuff to read while traveling for work, and when looking for inspiration I was reminded off all the good reviews I've seen of Heather Rose Jones' Daughter of Mystery. I'm about 12 chapters in and loving it.

To Read: Probably the sequel, The Mystic Marriage. And then give another try to Archangel
affreca: (Books)
I'm giving myself amnesty for everything between when I last posted and last week. If you're really interested, friend me on goodreads (because I've mostly kept up to date on what I read there).

Read: I spent the early part of January starting and stopping books, both new books and rereads. Out of desperation, I went to Goodreads for inspiration, and was reminded that I hadn't read the last Laundry Files because it was more than I like to pay for ebooks, and I for some reason I didn't grab the library's copy. I like Stross's shift to Mo in The Annihilation Score, though her life in government service was very spot on (including the issue of developing uniforms, though that is more from a friend than my experience).

From there, I decided to try Seanan McGuire's Indexing stories. Pacing is weird (I assume due to it being released in bits by Kindle Serial), but I found it fun.

Reading: Random trawling through Amazon recommendations brought me to Jo Graham's Black Ships, a retelling of Aeneid. Readable so far, and I'm curious to see how it goes. I'm debating if I should follow it up with Le Guin's Lavinia, or if reading two versions back to back would be distracting.

To Read: Either the previously mentioned, or Marguerite Reed's Archangel. Unless someone recommends something else.
affreca: Cat Under Blankets (Default)
Knitting: This is the year of knitting. Which is just my way to focus my efforts on one art. My goal is to knit at least one row per day. My first project is a pair of socks (my first). I'm now at the easy part, the leg. Getting the heels done took me a week of tries until I got it right. Whee! I'm doing both at the same time, toe up on two needles because I don't want to come back to them. My biggest problem now is the laddering on the sides. I'm pretty happy with the purse that I've repurposed as my knitting bag and have been throughing it in my work bag so I can knit on my breaks.

Spinning: Not as much since I'm not making the effort to spin every day. The current project on the wheel is my sport weight merino, in English Garden. I bought more roving than I should at Wamego Wool fest, so I have plenty keep me busy.

Reading: I finished Ann Budd's Getting Started with Socks earlier this week. It wasn't a useful as I wanted since I started my socks the other direction, though it increased my confidence in not actually following set instructions.

I'm currently going through Elaine Eskesen's Dyeing to Knit. I'm eh about it, but that might be because I've read lots of dyeing books, and find the discussion of the color wheel and nature inspiration repetitious.
affreca: Cat Under Blankets (Default)
I'm usually not a believer in New Year's resolutions. But.. maybe this year I'll try. Might be a sign of middle aged suburbia. So I'd like to get back into posting here. My plan is Fiber Tuesday, Reading Wednesday and Physical Thursday.

cut for exercise chatter )

Goulash

Jan. 3rd, 2016 12:18 pm
affreca: Cat Under Blankets (Default)
Mostly following recipe found here.

2 lb. ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cups water
2 cups chicken stock
3 cans (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp basil
1 tsp savory
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. aleppo pepper flakes
1-2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2½ cups uncooked elbow macaroni

In a large pot, cook and crumble beef over medium-high heat until no longer pink. Add the onion, green pepper and garlic. Cook until tender, about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic, water, tomato sauce, tomatoes, herbs, paprika, crushed red pepper flakes, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add the elbow macaroni and stir well. Return lid and continue to simmer for 15 minutes or until the noodles are done. Allow to sit covered for 5-10 minutes and mix well before serving.
affreca: Cat Under Blankets (Default)
I've got a post on fiber stuff, books and meme (where I was at age 28). No good reason, but just not in a chatty mood right now. Focus is on leaving for yarn school tomorrow. I'm proud to be the type of woman who fits three days clothes and a spinning wheel in my carryon suitcase but also pack my spinning chair (it's got short legs for a short legged me). I'll drive down after work tomorrow. Whee!!
affreca: (Books)
Read: Finished The Quartered Sea. I think it ends up the least good of the series, and I have issues with it that aren't worth bringing up on decade old book that nobody else has read.I followed it with The Traitor Baru Comorant. Which I adored while reading it, and am side-eyeing now. Partially because I kept seeing reviews that mentioned the romance, so I was not expecting how that romance ended. And then read reviews that brought up the tragic queer narrative, and I'm having trouble arguing with those reviews. And now that I'm finished with the book, I find the handling of the evil empire as very heavy handed.

After that, I started Naomi Novik's Uprooted. Again, I'm agreeing the reviews that it bogs down in the middle. In fact, I'm a couple of chapters from the ended, and still feel like I'm reading through the marsh. Which might be why I decided not to take the library book to work, and started reading a romance during my work breaks.

Which was The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. I impulse bought it after a review on Smart Bitches, and it is ridiculous. It roughly based on Prince William and Kate. I'm just trying not to judge myself for reading and enjoying it, OK?

Reading: See above.

Next Up: If I need more fluff, I've got one of the latest Zoe Chant novellas on the nook. Or my reservation on Nnedi Okorafor's Lagoon came in.
affreca: (Craft)
Reading: I'm halfway through one of my latest purchases, Respect the Spindle by by Abby Franquemont. Which is good timing, because I'm teaching spinning with a spindle at next month's guild meeting, and I'm not actually a great spindler.

Spinning: I'm trying to finish plying the merino so I have bobbins free for Yarn School and then Spinzilla. I'm working on the second pair of bobbins because I still can't find the broken end on the first pair I was working on. Still not sure how I'm going to deal with that.

Weaving: Apparently, Lawnchair doesn't think I have to many looms because he bought me another one while at Walnut Valley Festival. He was going through the craft area, taking pictures for the website, and became fascinated by peg loom weaving. I've read the instructions, and it seems such a weird way of doing things.

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