Monday, June 30, 2008

Hufflepuff Quiz #5

It's a new quiz for the Hufflepuffs! This time it's a cryptogram, and here is the solution:

'You know what?' Ron murmured, lookig over at the bar with enthusiasm. 'We could order anything we liked in here. I bet that bloke would sell us anything, he wouldn't care. I've always wanted to try firewhisky."

The quote, of course, is from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Herminone didn't approve of Ron's idea. I wonder what firewhisky's like? Is it anything like a Hot Damn?

More Knitting I Can't Show You

I'm back from Border Raids with a nearly-finished knitting project, but I can't post any pictures.

I'm about to start another one, and I can't even talk about it.

The first project is for my Hogwarts buddy, Ophelia Hopkirk. She knows I'll be sending her Hogwarts Sock Kit, but since it's nice to have some sort of surprise, I won't show off the bag until she sees it in person. I'm quite pleased with it, although the whole project took much longer than I expected. But it's nearly finished, and should go in the mail by the end of the week.

I'm also getting ready to make something for my SP12 pal, but won't even say what it is, just in case she reads my blog.

I'm really glad that I'm finished with knitting on a deadline for awhile. It's fun to make things for other people, but it will be nice to be knitting for fun, and not because I need to. For now, I want to try to finish some in-progress projects before I pick up anything else.

I've started a knitalong that's going to begin on July here's my personal challenge. Until then (yes, I know it's only four days, but goals need to be attainable) I will not start any new knitting projects. I will only work on things already in progress. Maybe I'll even finish something - but there's no pressure!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Fitting in at Hogwarts

Not much new to post, so I'm seeing which Hogwarts resident I'm most like. Personally, I like Dumbledore, but I thought I'd come up as a Sirius Black - and really wish I could do a Bat-Bogey Hex like Ginny Weasley.

We're heading down to Kentucky for the weekend for an SCA event. I hope I'll have some finished knitting when I'm back!

Your Harry Potter Alter Ego Is...?
You scored as a Albus Dumbledore
Strong and powerful you admirably defend your world and your charges against those who would seek to harm them. However sometimes you can fail to do what you must because you care too much to cause suffering.
Albus Dumbledore

Sirius Black

Ginny Weasley

Harry Potter

Draco Malfoy

Remus Lupin

Hermione Granger

Ron Weasley

Severus Snape

Lord Voldemort



Sunday, June 22, 2008


These last few days haven't been the greatest, but here's something to get excited about - the Hufflepuffs won round two of Quidditch!

Once again, I got amazingly lucky and found the Snitch. This time it was sitting on Miss Wartbobble's own blog, just waiting for someone to get bored and wander over there while waiting for a release announcement. It's good for our House that I have a short attention span!

So now I'm at work and can't knit, which is a little troubling, because I've realized that I have to complete nearly two tentacles a day in order to have my bag for my Hogwarts spoilee finished on time. When I add in trying to get stuff ready for my SP12 pal, and trying to have nice-looking garb for Border Raids, that's going to amount to a pretty busy week. I'm just waiting for the part of summer where we get to take it slow and get stuff done.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Catching Up Again

Somehow it's been a busy week. I don't know if that means that I've gotten much done, but it does mean that I've been neglecting the blog. So for some updates:

1. I'm still working on the bag for my Hogwarts sock pal. I think I'll hold off on posting more pictures, just so she can enjoy something of a surprise.

2. I bought some new yarn. I know I shouldn't, but Elizabeth had just gotten the bag in when I was at Charity Knits on Wednesday. And this stuff looked like it's been dyed just for me. And Sam was there, which meant I needed to get my yarn in a hurry. Sam may be a worse enabler than Glennalee - if that's possible.

This yarn already has a purpose; it's going to become a Swallowtail Shawl. One of the other charity knitters had one, and it was just beautiful. But I'm going to try very hard to be good, and not even think about starting this project until I've finished some others.

3. Speaking of finishing - I finished a project today! I also started it today, so I'm not sure it counts. It's a little bitty sock, even too small for Oscar. I think I could get hooked on the little socks really, really fast.

4. And I'll answer the two secret pal questions I've neglected:

What is your favorite summertime drink?
- I like a nice rose wine in the summer. Lately I've been enjoying Chateau Thomas' Verandah Rose, but I'm also fond of Red Bicyclette's French Rose. A summer wine needs to be sturdy enough to drink with meals, light enough to drink by itself, and cheap enough to drink regularly. When I was in DC, I bought a wonderful rose from Best Cellars, but I've never been able to remember what it was.

What did you most look forward to about summer vacation?
- Not being in school, for one thing. And more generally, the long, late summer nights. We'd disappear after dinner and make it home in time for the "do you know where your children are?" announcement that came on before the nighttime news. I don't really remember what we did with that time - play in parks, I think, or just by the river. Nothing terribly exciting - but that was the good part.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Quidditch, Round Two

Here's another homework assignment for the Hogwarts Swap - it's time for Round Two of Quidditich!

1. At the beginning of the year feast, who is the only person who rudely interrupts Dumbledore during his speech?
b. Professor Umbridge

2. Off what street is the alley where Harry first met Sirius?
c. Magnolia Crescent

3. Tonks’ mother had two sisters, both pure-bloods, and both left on the Black Family Tree. What are their names?
c. Narcissa and Bellatrix

4. What spell are the students studying in McGonalgall’s class when Umbrdige is doing her inspection?
d. The Vanishing Spell

5. Who comes to warn Harry and the rest of Dumbledore’s Army that Umbridge and her group of followers are coming to break up their meeting?
Answer: Dobby (five letters)

6. Who are the members of the Order that met Harry Potter in the Dursely’s house during the summer before his fifth year?
c. Alastor Moody, Nymphadora Tonks, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Elphias Doge, Dedalus Diggle, Remus Lupin, Emmeline Vance, Sturgis Podmore, Hestia Jones

7. Moody used the Disillusionment Charm on Harry.
a. Yes

8. Which of these Death Eaters is Sirius related to?
d. All of these

9. At what age did Sirius leave his home?
Answer: 16 (Number)

10. How many of the original Order members were killed (don’t include those who disappeared)?
b. 8

Picture Scavenger:

Kingsley Shacklebolt

Bellatrix Lestrange

Nymphadora Tonks

Remus Lupin


Monday, June 16, 2008

My Birthday

Yesterday was my birthday, but we spent most of it in Indianapolis - traveling from celebrating two other birthdays and a high school graduation.

Aaron sneaked out again in the morning - but this time he returned with pastries rather than an engagement ring. Pastries from Renee's, specifically - which were seriously yummy.

We spent most of the day running errands and doing laundry, so it was a real treat to come home and find this package waiting for me - a present from Kaaelana as a thank-you for finding the Snitch and bringing Quidditch Glory to House Hufflepuff in the Hogwarts Swap.

And this was inside!

A beautiful skein of sock yarn (gee, how could anyone know that I like sock yarn?), with a note hailing me as Quidditch Queen. Between this and all the postings on the HSKS5 Blog, I definitely feel royally treated.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Amanda's Sockday

Amanda's Sockday is today. I'm not going to be able to be there, but she'll be too busy getting her socks to see this, so I can go ahead and post the picture.

These are probably the last Turkish socks I'm going to make in a very long time. I love Turkish socks, but after two years of sockdays the picking-up-heels and weaving-in-ends parts are starting to get kind of tedious.

At least Amanda, unlike Michelle, gets woven-in ends. Because we're out of town, I had to finish Amanda's socks early. So after a few days of frantic knitting, I delivered them to River Knits on Wednesday - and even had time to steam them a little. (I wish I'd done that for all my socks. I think they looked a lot nicer after steaming. Usually, I just expect all the tension issues to shake out in wearing - but this makes for better photographs.)

These socks, like most of the others, are from Dale Falk yarn. Most of the patterns are from Anna Zilboorg's Simply Socks, and the dancing figures are from Charted Peasant Designs from Saxon Transylvania. It, by the way, is an excellent book for anyone interested in historical counted-thread work. Unlike most of Dover's other pattern collections, this one gives the source for every pattern in the book.

I'm sorry to miss the last sockday, and more than a little sad to say goodbye to these socks. I think they may be the best ones I've done, although I've had that feeling about all of them. Either I'm continually improving, or I'm fickle.

Hmm...I wonder if there's a way to get all the socks together again? Maybe we need a Sockday Reunion!


Friday, June 13, 2008


I'm in Kentucky, on a trip to celebrate Aaron's father's birthday.

It was a pretty scary trip down - rain almost all the way. Indiana has had way more rain than it needs, and it keeps coming. I was relieved to find out that my Southern Indiana family was largely unharmed by all the flooding, but that's not true for a whole lot of people. And the rain keeps coming.

I'm really glad we got here when we did, because this is what we saw blowing in after we arrived.

But there's a silver lining to every cloud, right? And light at the end of tunnels? In this case it's more of a wooly lining, kept at Stone's Throw Artisans. We discovered this little Georgetown gem thanks to Ravelry, and since I'd lost a needle for my Audacity socks, we really had to make a stop. And look around. And so I picked up some Wildfoote yarn, too - a new brand for me!

The Audacity socks are only a backup project. Right now, I'm working on my bag for the Hogwarts Swap - it's the "Jester Tentacles" bag from Cat Bordhi's Second Treasury of Magical Knitting. I checked this out awhile ago from the library, and it fell under my "three copies" rule (if I see more than 3 projects that I'd be tempted to photocopy, I definitely need to buy the book). But this is my first attempt at Moebius knitting, and so far it's going reasonably well.

The cast on was a little tricky, because it's easily possible for your needle to be too long, and I don't think the book really indicates this. I used a 48" circular needle, and the Moebius band was seriously stretched as I worked it. This isn't a problem for something that's going to be felted, but if I keep up with this I'm definitely stepping down to a 36" needle.

Her directions also require you to buy a lot of needles - using a 16" circular for the basket or bowl portions, and then 2 circulars as you decrease. Since I rarely use anything larger than size 4, I don't want to buy a whole bunch of bigger needles. So I'm using magic loop - it's slower, but it keeps the needle purchases under control. So far the bag is progressing nicely, the directions are perfectly clear if followed one step at a time, and I'm looking forward to the finished product.

I haven't completely neglected the Audacity sock. We
were in Indianapolis on Wednesday night to check out a potential wedding caterer, and the sock saw this at a nearby bar.

The really amusing part? This seems to be the main concern. What kind of people visit this bar, if noise is their biggest problem?!? Wouldn't "don't crash airplanes into the roof" be a better courtesy to offer the neighborhood?

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Potions Ingredients?

I'd hoped today's blog entry would be about the great time we had at the Vintage Indiana wine festival yesterday. But yesterday was cold and wet, so we stayed in.

I can't even show off any knitting, because I'm frantically working on Amanda's Sockday socks. I've finished one foot, but need two socks before Wednesday. This may be a bit of a challenge.

So I offer this, as an alternative pretty picture. Aaron's planted a lot of flowers in the past few years, and they're in bloom. This is spiderwort, an Indiana native, although it was deliberately introduced to our yard. The flowers open every morning, and wilt and close by afternoon - I'm catching this one just a bit past its prime.

When we were looking through a list of potential wedding flowers, I joked that we could have "spiderwort" and "tickseed," and get the Bug Bowl people to come to the wedding. I didn't realize that spiderwort was so pretty! I may have to re-think tickseed, too.

And this is dianthus - specifically, "firewitch" dianthus. So it really does sound like I'm stocking a kit for Hogwarts, doesn't it?

For now, I'm back to my knitting. I hope to have more pictures of socks - and other fun stuff - soon!


Friday, June 06, 2008

Magical Creatures

We Hufflepuffs have another quiz - this time we're supposed to write about Magical Creatures.

My friend in Ravenclaw has a really cute crup, but the Magical Creature I'd most like to own is a niffler. Aren't they adorable? This little fellow looks a bit like a cross between a rat and a mole, and they're supposed to be very affectionate.

I've always loved rodent pets. I used to have rats who loved to high-dive off my bookshelf. They'd climb up the wall, jump off the shelf onto the couch, and then run around and do it again. I don't know if they were magical or not, but they were sure fun to watch!

And nifflers, of course, are supposed to be wonderfully useful for finding stuff. Some of the books on Magical Creatures suggest that's a problem, because they'll get into things, but it's not like I haven't seen that problem before.

I think Oscar may be part niffler. See how he has a long, pointy nose? He has a curly tail, too. He's definitely very affectionate. He's also attracted to shiny things - he's tried to bite my ring, and he chewed up an earring once. I even caught Max with a whole gold chain in his mouth, so he may have some niffler tendencies, too.

Just like a niffler, Oscar loves to burrow. When he's inside, he likes to sleep under blankets.

And when he's outside, he can't resist dirt. He'd dig himself a tunnel if I'd let him.

So I may not be keeping any Magical Creatures at Hogwarts, but I think I have a magical half-breed or two at home. Surely Muggle dogs couldn't be so ingenious at being bad!

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Thursday, June 05, 2008


Isn't this a good time for a nice piece of pie?

Summer is always a good time for a nice piece of pie - especially when the rhubarb is in season! So even though we've hit the days when it's hot even at night, I baked a rhubarb-strawberry pie.

I had my first taste of rhubarb pie when we visited friends of my mother's in Peoria, and have been on the quest for the perfect rhubarb recipe ever since. I developed this one, which doesn't at all remember that Platonic Pie I had so long ago, but I'm pretty happy with it.

Quantities of everything are pretty vague, depending on how big your pie pan is, and how much rhubarb you can get. But here's what I did last night:

Rhubarb (1#, for this pie)
Strawberries (also 1#)
Sugar (1/4 cup, and I like to use Sugar in the Raw)

Eggs (3)
Cream (1 pint)
Sugar (just a little)
Saffron (a pinch)

A pie or tart shell, unbaked or blind-baked, depending on your pastry choice

Cut up the rhubarb and the strawberries (I like to cut the rhubarb VERY fine, and the strawberries a little bigger), mix with sugar to taste, and let sit for a few hours on the counter, or overnight in the refrigerator.

Using a fork, fill the pie shell with the rhubarb/strawberry mixture. The idea here is to leave the juice behind. Save the juice and use it for a lovely summer cocktail!

Grind the saffron with a pinch of sugar. Whisk together the cream, eggs, saffron, and as much sugar as you think you need. Gently pour it over the fruit in the pie shell. You want it to ooze around and fill up the shell - but not overflow!

Bake at 400 for about 30 minutes, until a knife stuck in the center comes out clean.

You don't have to be picky with anything on this recipe. Shift the strawberry/rhubarb balance as you like. You want the shell to be full of the egg/liquid mix, but I've made it with 2 eggs instead of 3 before. If you haven't made enough of the egg mix, you can just pour more whipping cream into the pie shell to fill it - everything will percolate together as it bakes. And keep a light hand with the saffron - I've found out the hard way that there is such a thing as too much saffron!

So while I'm working all day, I know I have something yummy to come home to. It's summer in Indiana, and the farmers' markets are full of all sorts of goodies.


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Presumptive Nominee

I've had something in my refrigerator since Super Tuesday.

It's time to take it out now.

We just drank a small bottle of Champagne to celebrate that Barack Obama has clinched the 2,118 delegates needed to become the Democratic party's nominee for President of the United States.

Even though I should be working on Amanda's socks, I brought the "Audacity" socks out to celebrate on this night. Now I have a deadline for finishing - I need to be able to wear them on November 4!

(Let me add, because I'm just so proud of her, that Blackbunny, the yarn dyer, has a new book out through Interweave Press!)

We're all curled up in front of the TV - even the dogs got a couple drops of Champagne, so they could share in the celebration. (And they seemed to really like it. This is kind of frightening.)

Tomorrow I'll get back to work on Amanda's socks. But now I'm too teary-eyed to do colorwork.


Sunday, June 01, 2008

Back in Black

Maybe this won't be so bad after all. I brought the black sock to Sock Club yesterday, trying to resist all temptation to buy new yarn. I even left all my spare needles at home, so I couldn't switch to a different size of yarn. I think that helped.

What really helped was that Michelle showed me a better way to do the "left cross" - just knitting through the back loop of the second stitch, rather than doing the funky twist thing. Now that the yarn gets to go where it wants to go, and I don't really have to see what I'm doing, the whole sock is going much smoother. I finished two pattern repeats yesterday, and I'm even reasonably confident that the finished sock will fit. (Mine doesn't stretch nearly as much as Michelle's - I think I cast on too tight. But it should be OK.)

That's the big advantage to sock club - Michelle has already worked through all the pain-in-the-neck parts, so she can warn everyone about them. And it's a great excuse to start more socks - so what could be better?

Speaking of socks, I've finally made a good start on Amanda's socks, after initially getting a toe that was much too big for Aaron. No pictures, since the socks are a surprise, but I hope this means I'll conclude this Sockday activity with a pair of completely finished socks!

On the Hogwarts front, our first round of Quidditch concluded yesterday. Like my fellow Hufflepuffs, I was waiting by my computer (and even got up early to be there) to search for the Snitch when it was released at 11:30 in the morning. And I'm proud to be able to report that I found the Snitch! We had to search through a collection of clues, and I managed to find it in spite of some moments of confusion - I didn't realize there would be clues to follow. So now Hufflepuff is in the lead for House points, and I spent the day skipping around the house saying "I found the Snitch!" Go Badgers!

Some people might think this whole Hogwarts Swap thing is a bit geeky. Maybe even a bit too geeky. I'm not sure I should get into that conversation right now.