Samstag, April 15, 2017

Eggquest 2017

I did it! I dyed red eggs that are really red!

My red Easter eggs were disappointing last year. I have had this problem ever since the Greek Market in Salt Lake City closed a couple of years ago. Caputo's sells some of the items I used to buy there, such as Greek feta and olive oil, but they carry predominantly Italian, not Greek specialities. I had bought Greek Easter egg dye on Amazon, but the dye clumped and adhered to the eggs in a patchy scum that rubbed off and left the eggs a dull pink. Not pretty. This year I searched the internet for ideas. Some people recommended dyeing with onion skins, so I decided to try it.

The recipe said to use the skins from 15 yellow onions. I just took all the loose skins out of the big bag of onions we have in the garage.

I boiled the onion skins as directed in 4.5 cups of water (is that a liter?) with 2 T. white vinegar for 1/2 hour, then drained and let the water cool to room temperature. That took another 1/2 hour. The dye liquid looked promising!

I then boiled the eggs in the dye liquid. My technique is to bring them to a full boil, then simmer for 17 minutes. I read this in a newspaper article years ago. I think Chris's mother read the same article, because that's how he learned to boil eggs.

While they were beautiful, the eggs were not the bright red I wanted. However, the silver lining on that is that if your eggs aren't perfect, you feel better about going ahead and eating one.

The dye liquid still looked vigorous so I cooked a few white eggs in the same water to see what they would do. Immediately after cooking they looked surprisingly like the brown eggs.

I decided to leave the eggs in the dye water overnight to pick up more color. And it worked! Happy Easter!

Donnerstag, März 23, 2017

I Get My DNA Report

I decided finally to take the plunge and get a DNA kit from last year some time when they were on sale. The kit came. It sat around for a long time. I am really grossed out by spit, what can I say? And I have xerostomia, which is just the fancy name for dry mouth. Spitting is not on my regular list of activities.

Finally, in January, I sent in the kit. I got periodic encouraging emails explaining how Ancestry was processing my DNA. But I didn't get the email with the results until this week. Boy was I ever surprised--and a little disappointed.

It turns out I am more British than most British people. My friend Helen and her daughter, both born and raised in the UK, are a third as British as I am.


Of course, what did I expect? I know what my family tree looks like. I was neither disappointed nor surprised to be mostly British. But I was disappointed that Ancestry didn't break it down further. I wanted it to say 25% Welsh. Other people get a percentage of Irishness; why not Welshness? And I was a little disappointed that there weren't any big surprises. No one is going to make a video about my results. Although it will be fun to figure out who the Finnish or Russian ancestor is. And another family member said it was disheartening to learn that I am more British than he is--his mother placed great stock in her British heritage.

But I decided that I need more information about my DNA. I had heard about mitochondrial DNA tests, so I searched online and found National Geographic's Genographic project. They promise to track your ancestor's migration for 5,000-10,000 years, and will tell you if you have any Neanderthal genetics. Although I saw an article that says some people think the Neanderthal link is bogus, and sadly I didn't bookmark it.

Anyway, I ordered the Nat Geo kit on Monday and it came yesterday. I already sent it in!

I don't think it required quite as much spit as the Ancestry kit. Although I admit that as I sat there spitting into the tube I was a little jealous of Gaston in Beauty in the Beast, who considers expectoration one of his especial gifts.

Nat Geo says it will take six to eight weeks to get my results back to me. I'll let you know what I find out. I'm sure it will be interesting, even if I turn out not to be part Neanderthal.

Montag, August 15, 2016

A Not-Shaggy Dog Story

While we lived in New Orleans we had a bloodhound, Trusty II, who was very dominant. As long as Paul was around, Trusty didn't show aggression. However, Paul decided to leave his job at Tulane University before the position at the University of Utah was actually available and went to Hawaii to work for six months. The idea was that the kids would finish their school year and we would all work on getting the house ready to sell.

Unfortunately, Trusty decided that with Paul gone he was now alpha in the family pack. He ignored me completely and instead challenged Howard, who was then just fourteen. The dog would come up to where Howard was sitting and growl in his face. Given that the dog outweighed Howard by probably twenty pounds and had much bigger teeth, this was pretty scary.

We turned to a dog psychologist who said that we had obviously neglected this dog's training. He told us that we would have to use extreme measures in this situation. He recommended we get a canned-air boat horn and honk it whenever Trusty showed aggression. This is a very loud product, intended for signaling boats in fog, but since dogs have sensitive hearing he thought it would stop the aggression. The psychologist warned that the dog should not see the boat horn; the sound should appear to the dog to be an act of God.

I bought the boat horn, and the next time Trusty showed aggression towards Howard I held the horn behind my back and honked it. Trusty immediately backed away from Howard. However, there was another dog in the family--a very smart and protective Australian Shepherd named Blue. Blue saw the boat horn and decided that it must be attacking me. He, in turn, went after the boat horn and accidentally bit me in the rear. By this time the boat horn had frozen in the "on" position and would not stop honking. Blue kept attacking the boat horn (read "my behind") until I could get to a door and throw the horn into the yard. I was laughing so hard that I couldn't do anything else to reassure Blue. He didn't injure me, but we decided that boat horn training wasn't going to work for our family.

We ended up giving Trusty back to his breeder. She informed us that his mother had been so dominant and aggressive that she hadn't been able to sell her. Trusty II ended up living with a retired military officer who otherwise lived alone. We learned to shop very carefully for puppies. Our next bloodhound, Trusty III, was a lovely dog who made us happy for nine years.

Trusty III

Note from Paul: Now we need to start looking for Trusty IV.

Donnerstag, August 11, 2016

Closing In On the White Knitting

The White Knitting made it to giant square stage last week.

After this picture was taken I finished the Xs at the top and knitted the garter stitch border. But then I had to decide what to do about the edging.

Apparently Estonian practice means knitting the edging separately and then stitching it on. I do really hate sewing things on. I mean, sometimes you have to, for example in order to stabilize the shoulders and neck of a sweater. But for me, it's usually a procrastination trap.

Another reason a person might need to sew on an edging is if it has to be knitted from the outside edge in. Some lace patterns only work in one direction. I thought I had better swatch the edging from the straight side out, and make sure it would make points.

Not very pointy, but the edging in the pattern photos isn't very pointy either. So--I think it's OK to knit the edging on.

The other different thing about this edging is that the corners are not shaped by knitting, but are meant to be gathered at the corners when the edging is sewn on. Nancy Bush describes how do to this by joining several stitches of edging to each stitch at the corner of the shawl. I picked up stitches following her sewing instructions, marking the corner stitches with safety pins.

At this point I had 800-plus stitches on the needle. I couldn't see any point to counting them all. Instead I counted one side at a time, separating the stitches into groups of twelve with removable markers. 
As I expected, the stitch count was never exactly right. However, while working with just seventeen stitch repeats I could move the markers around and then correct the stitch count by picking up an occasional extra yarn over. 

I used up every stitch marker I own, including several lovely matched marker sets my sister Christie made for me. 

And now I have just twenty (really long) rows, and then done. I wonder if knitting the last four rows or so on a size larger needles will make the points pointier.

Sonntag, Juli 24, 2016

I Learn to Crochet

Technically, I learned to crochet when I was ten. This involved a lot of creation of long crocheted chains. I know what single and double crochet are. I have failed at making a lace tablecloth (my squares got smaller and smaller) and a lace baby bonnet (my stitches that were supposed to look like bullion stitches in embroidery looked like rats nests). But Robin had a cute hat that I really wanted to try, Puffs and Bows. 

photo ganked from pattern page
When we went to Heindselman's last week as part of the Sister Retreat I bought some Plymouth Gina and two crochet hooks.

Robin got me started on the pattern.

Apparently the puffy stitches are related to bobbles, only different. They actually remind me of the nupps from The White Knitting, because you get a bunch of loops on the hook and then pull a loop through all of them at once. The White Knitting has just taken up all my crafting time lately. I have a deadline!

More shopping

At our house we are trying to pay down credit cards rather than run them up, so I have been shopping way less. There were a few exceptions this month. For example, I had a Wollmeise event; I couldn't help it, the exchange rate was so good!

Taking pictures with my phone does not do the colors justice, so I am going to link you to the website. From left these are Delphin, Mäuseballet auf der Wiese, Auf dem Roten Teppich, and Hoity Toity.

I have a kind of love/hate relationship with Wollmeise. I love the colors, the smooth finish and the tight twist. However, this tight twist can make this yarn a bear to wind on a ballwinder. It tends to kink up. Also, the socks I have knitted from Wollmeise wore out really quickly, probably because it is slightly finer than other sock yarns I commonly use. For example, Socks that Rock Lightweight has approximately 277 yards per 100 grams, and Verdant Gryphon Bugga! has about 353, while Wollmeise has 383. So I prefer to use Wollmeise in scarves and shawls rather than socks.

The other thing I bought was this adorable project bag, Summer Fireflies, from Stitched by Jessalu.  This purchase is totally down to Jennifer at Holiday Yarns, because she put a picture of it on Facebook. I don't even know if she bought one or if she just lured me into it.

The fabric and workmanship on this bag are just beautiful. Right now the Wollmeise is living in it, but I think Frangipani (no progress there, sorry) might move into it soon. 

So. My two new things that I pretend I am learning how to do are water color and crochet. If I actually do either one I'll be sure to show you. 

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