On Keeping Up With Old Friends

Don’t Quit Your Day Job


On Unintentionally Long Scarves, or If At First You Don’t Succeed, Don’t Leave It To Clutter Mom’s House

My sister picked up knitting before I did.  I guess I had toyed with the thought before, but when I saw what she was working on, I just had to try it too, because I am a monkey – see it, do it.

So my very first knitting project was a scarf for my sister.  She had just moved to Ohio, where I hear tell it actually gets *cold* in the part of the year known up north as “winter,” and I was still in Texas, where sometimes in January or February the temperature dips into fluffy warm scarf territory for a few seconds.

I bought a set of size 13 needles and a skein of maroon homespun yarn.  (I guess I should go ahead and come out now – I’m an Aggie, as are both my siblings.  Maroon may or may not become a recurring theme.)  My mother got me started, and soon I was stitching away at a very basic fluffy scarf – about 20 or 30 stitches across, until it was the right length.

There was just one little snag.  I never made it to the right length.

I got about halfway to the desired length, and then got distracted by some other entertainment, so the project wound up sitting on the ledge of my parents’ (comically useless) fireplace for the better part of a year.  I would like to say that at the end of that year, I came home, finished the thing to my original specifications and sent it off to my sister just in time for the Ohio winter.  Alas, in reality, I came home to discover a completed scarf sitting on the fireplace.  When I asked Mom where the leftover yarn was, she said there wasn’t any, that she had just used up the whole skein.

Now, I should mention here, for reference, that my sister is well under five feet tall.

I picked up the scarf.  It was more than five feet long.

I wrapped the scarf once around my neck.  It touched the floor.

I told my mother what I had intended for the scarf.  She tried very hard not to laugh while informing me that I shouldn’t leave unfinished projects lying around, or they might just finish themselves.

We packed up the scarf, and I wrote the following note to my sister as explanation:

A few days later, I got a somewhat confused and giggly phone call.  She couldn’t quite explain it verbally, so she emailed me a picture:

Fortunately, she dreamed up a particularly utilitarian solution to our little length problem:

So my mom got a little bit of clutter out of her life, my sister got a spiffy new scarf and a really nifty pattern idea, and I learned yet another valuable lesson:  leave no project unfinished, especially in parental living space.

On Birthday Jewelry

Roommie’s birthday was in March, so obviously, I had to make her jewelry!

The necklace is a variation on a super-simple design I dreamed up at some point last year.

6/0 seed beads (or other beads with similarly sized hole)
No. 2 nylon thread
2 jump rings
Clasp of choice
Size C crochet hook


  • String as many beads as you want to use on the thread.
  • Start crocheting a simple chain, leaving several inches of extra thread at the beginning.
  • Every few stitches, pull a bead up next to the hook and chain around it like it isn’t there.

  • Continue this process until the chain is some multiple of the length you want the necklace.  (If you want three strands, make the chain three times the length of the necklace, etc.)  Odd number is recommended, as it makes finishing easier.
  • Finish the chain, leaving several inches of extra thread when you cut it.
  • Now fold over the chain and string it between the two jump rings, like so:

    You can always make more than three strands with more turns between rings.
  • Take those nice long loose ends and use them to tie down the chains over the jump ring, like so:
    That’s a series of half-hitch knots I use to tie up the ends.  If you’ve ever made friendship bracelets or done any boating, you know what I’m talking about.
  • Pull the loose end back through the series of knots, trim it short and (carefully!) fuse it (but only if you’re using synthetic thread; natural fibers will not melt – just burn)

  • Attach your clasp of choice to the jump rings, and now you have a crocheted necklace!

On Lasagna, or What Happened to My Beautiful Clean Kitchen?!

There are very few places in the known universe where the relentless march of entropy can be quite so clearly observed as in my kitchen.  Every once in a while I am overcome with a sort of madness and actually clean the mess I have made while experimenting on poor unsuspecting foodstuffs.

Today was one of those days.

While home for lunch I actually got out the 409 and a new roll of paper towels (for cleaning, not for lunch) and the stove top and counters were pristine when I returned to work.

Naturally, to restore balance to the universe, something messy had to be made for dinner.

We made lasagna.

entropy wins again!

Lasagna… is messy.

mmm lasagna!

In case you can’t recognize the pieces in that mess of tomato-y goodness, we added a couple of layers of thinly sliced zucchini along with the usual meat, cheese, pasta and sauce.  It was magnificent.

…and I probably needed the extra serving of veggies, because I still eat like a college student when I don’t have a parent around to set me straight.

Speaking of veggies, I make my own sauce, so I can maximize the vegetable content while minimizing the unnecessary stuff that tends to pile up in prepared sauces.  I start with a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes, and a 12 oz can of tomato paste.  If the sauce is going straight onto pasta, I generally skip the tomato paste.  For pizza sauce, I use petite diced tomatoes, because pepperoni just doesn’t sit right on top of large chunks of tomato.

The exact seasoning generally depends on my mood, but more often than not, I add the following:

  • healthy dash of oregano, marjoram, basil, and paprika
  • red pepper (one shake for polite company, many shakes if it’s just me)
  • liberal splash of marsala cooking wine
  • even more liberal pile of minced garlic (again, largely dependent upon the company)
  • optional: dash of dried onion and/or sage, splash of beef broth

I cook this mixture on low heat, stirring occasionally, for as long as I can.  The longer it cooks, the better it tastes.

…unless I let it get too hot and the bottom burns, then I stir vigorously and hope the burned taste is sufficiently diluted.

On Potholders

So a couple weeks ago, the Boy and I baked a batch of his killer chewy triple chocolate cookies.  The cookies were delicious, as always, but he managed to burn the crap out of his hands several times during the baking process because of a variety of potholder malfunctions.  I’ve been meaning to do something about his somewhat inadequate potholder situation for a while, so this week I did:

The yarn is I Love This Cotton – a Hobby Lobby staple, excellent to have around when Sugar N’ Cream just doesn’t have the colors you want.  Speaking of color; this is Aqua Ombre.  I used more or less exactly two skeins.

The pattern is this super-nifty Origami Hot Pad that makes a cool double-thick but seamless square.  I made a slight modification to the design to add the loop.  I just chained an additional 10 or 15 stitches after the first round to make the loop.  I also used two strands of yarn at a time when I made the smaller ones, so they would be extra thick.

It probably goes without saying that I found the pattern on Ravelry.