Monday, December 27, 2010

Marching to the Beat of My Own Drum Carder

December 23rd was the last day of my day job.  I retired, again (long sordid story -- I'm calling it Retirement Take 2, and I told the boss that this time I mean it!) leaving behind the academic/corporate world to focus on my own little business.  Good riddance.  While there's much to be said about the benefits of a steady paycheck, there is also much to be said about crafting a life that is truly fulfilling and dreaming big.  I no longer will be commuting 100 miles a day to get my soul crushed.  Instead, I'll be making my own schedule and devoting my energies to the people and things that matter to me.  I'm going to be my own boss. 

For the holidays on the 24th and 25th, I did holiday things.  No work.  It was grand.  Yesterday I got back into the swing of things (I do have a big show coming up, after all), albeit at a slow pace.  I made some markers and puttered around the studio.  I went to the farmers' market, and took the prettier but slightly longer route home.  I carded some batts, washed some fleece, plied some singles.  Then I baked bread and made a pot of soup.  I knit for a while, then read before turning in.  A really lovely day.  My day, not someone else's.  How liberating!

TNNA is just 10 days or so away with Stitches West following close on its heels, so it's time to crank up the production -- there's still so much to be done.  Today is batt-making day.  It's exciting though.  And crazybusy can be a great thing when it's your own crazybusy.  

Okay, the boss says to get back to the drum carder!

Thursday, December 16, 2010


So much to do, so little time.  I am not:  doing housework, yard work, work work, paperwork, designing promo materials, making inventory at the proper pace, not linking to patterns because I need to be stirring the soup instead of blogging, getting with the 21st technology century and going to the cellular store to upgrade my stone-age phone to some hand-held device or other, decorating for the holidays, and and and and.............there is a (long) list.

But I am:

Santa Gnomes (free pattern by Kristin Nicolas)
A secret xmas project
A second sock (my own pattern)
A few other things that have been relegated to the WIP pile (see Santa Gnomes above)

A really horrid mess on my new Hansen e-spinner

EZ's Knitter's Almanac Commemorative Edition
Color:  A Natural History of the Palette (by Victoria Finlay)
The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun, by J.R.R. Tolkien

Brown Bread (Boston style, a most awesome un-steamed recipe)

Chickpea and Arborio Rice Soup (recipe by Marcella Hazan)

A rather nice Sangiovese

Figuring Out
Why I'm spinning a really horrid mess on the e-spinner (and I think I've got it).

Ravelry.  I just can't stop.

John's company.  We're hanging by the fire tonight.

All the many other things that I'd also like be doing.

For more time.

The fine art of procrastinating.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Nice, but Not Nana's

My wonderful MIL gifted me last year with Marcella Hazan's classic Essentials of Italian Cooking.  She knows I love to cook, especially Italian food, so this was a perfect choice.  There's so many wonderful recipes in this volume (including the incredible Chickpea with Arborio Rice soup -- awesomeness in a bowl), but one recipe I blew right past was the Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion.

Tomatoes with butter?  Really?  Maybe I am influenced by my grandmother's cooking style, which being Sicilian is heavily olive oil based (butter is more prominent in northern Italy); maybe it was just simply that this was not the way Nana made her spaghetti sauce (tomatoes, tomato paste, basil and oregano, olive oil, maybe meat or maybe not, but always simmered for hours and hours on the stove until deep and rich and full of complex flavor and an aroma that permeates the neighborhood) and no one makes sauce as good as my Nana did.  But after this recipe made the rounds of the blogosphere and was declared the Best.Tomato.Sauce.Ever, I figured I'd give it a go.

Well, it was certainly different, and I have to give it up and say it was tasty.  It was not necessarily quick (about 45 minutes start to finish), but not laborious either.  You open a can of tomatoes, halve and peel an onion, plop in a wad of butter, toss in a bit of salt, and simmer gently with an occasional stir of the pot. 

The onion gave the sauce just a tiny bit of a bite (perhaps my onion was too strong), and the butter mellowed tomatoes and gave the sauce a silkier texture than typically found in tomato sauces.  Interestingly, this sauce did not make good leftovers (and what good is a sauce if it's not good left over?).  Overall, I'd much prefer a traditional sauce (as my family's traditions go), or a fresh sauce where the tomatoes can shine in their starring role.  

So, not the Best.Sauce.Ever.  That honor still goes to Nana.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Scheduled Panic

Did someone crank up the dial on the time machine?  Because it's December.  DECEMBER!  And that means that next month is TNNA January.  And the following month is Stitches West February.   Slow it down, please!

Given this runaway freight train of a calendar, I thought I'd start prepping for the oncoming show season early, and even count up how many batts I have to make for Stitches.  I was a bit surprised when the simple math resulted in a number over 300.  That's just my base production, not including any of new fiber blends I've been thinking about.  Yikes, that's a lotta batts.  John thought he'd help and put my production schedule into some special scheduling software.  He determined that at my current rate of production, I'd be done in mid-July of 2011.  Since Stitches is in February (of 2011), this is a bit of a problem.  So, production is ramping up.  Marker making is in high gear as well.  Sigh.  Perhaps the holidays can be moved to March?