Sunday, October 18, 2009

Cider Day

Yesterday turned out to be a beautiful, sunny day - and a fun one, too. One of our neighbors invited us (and many of his other friends and neighbors) over to make cider.

We weren't sure what to expect, so we wandered over around noon, and stepped in to help. I first joined a couple of people who were chopping apples.

There was a big tub of them, but it looked like we were making pretty good progress.

Then I looked around the corner and saw this. This was a serious cider-making operation. They'd started about 9 AM, and went through at least six bags of apples before I took this picture.

Cider making turns out to be a simple, if labor-intensive, process. The chopped apples - stems, peels, cores, and all - first get mashed in a mill. This may have been the messiest part of the process, because the apples had to be guided through, and the pulp would go everywhere.

Once the apples were mashed, they went into the press. They'd press by hand first, and then use the screw. It was kind of surprising to see what a difference the apple variety made for juice yield. Courtland apples produced just a little juice, but Jonathans freely yielded a lot of it.

Most of the cider is going to be fermented, so it went into a carboy...

and a keg. Aaron made a cyser a couple of years ago, and it was a complicated process - more like winemaking. We're just now enjoying the results.

This cider is going to naturally ferment, using whatever yeast was present on the apples and in the air. There were some bottles of last year's, and it was a tart, very fizzy drink - almost like an apple Champagne. Apparently you never know what you're going to get, so it will be interesting to see how this turns out.

The results will be in soon - this style of fermenting just takes a couple of weeks. I hope we'll get a chance to see how it turns out! We were able to bring a bottle of the fresh cider home, so we'll enjoy that in the next day or two. The whole day was a fun way to get to know some of our neighbors, and the dogs (especially Max!) had a great time acting as the apple clean-up crew.

Yesterday was also a knitting day. The Hogwarts swap has a competitive element, and the first pattern came out yesterday. So I spent the evening knitting - only to lose by 27 minutes. I'm kind of sorry I skipped dessert to knit, but perhaps my sweet-looking hat will be some consolation. This Wizardly Incognito Cap is made from Cascade 220, on Size 6 needles. I hadn't planned candy corn at first, but when I realized that the yellow & orange I pulled were candy corn colors, I decided to go ahead and add the white, and have the excuse to knit nice wide stripes. So yes, that's another project started - but it's also another project finished. I think I really will be able to turn to finishing things now - or at least in a day or two. Between the apple mashing and the knitting, I'm pretty sore today.

Friday, October 16, 2009

In the Mail

This was a good week for mail - I received my very first LSG RAK, and couldn't believe how nice it is.

KnotMyDayJob posted a pair of shoes as "free to a good home," and since they looked like my size and I don't have many respectable shoes, I said I'd love to have them. So I was expecting shoes - but I wasn't expecting all the other things that came with them. She sent me candy, cookies, nuts, and some fabric bits which will come in very handy for sewing little bags. My small sewing projects don't use much fabric, and I feel kind of guilty asking the people at the fabric store to cut me a bunch of eighth yards of calico, so it's nice to get other people's leftovers.

Getting the package nudged me to get my own RAK action going, so I sent off four packages today. Three were for LSG members, and one is for my sister - I finished her Calorimetry this morning. I've been pretty good at guessing how many stitches I need to cast on for each yarn, which is lucky. I'm wearing my own headband almost every day.

I'd like to report that I'm going to get back to finishing things, but I'm afraid it's not that easy. I went out shopping yesterday to pick up yarn for the latest Hogwarts Swap, and I've started something for my spoilee. I won't be sharing pictures of the work in progress, but since I have a separate character blog it's probably safe to show off the yarn here. I think my spoilee's "team colors" (this round is Quidditch-themed) make a lovely combination, and I was lucky to find a Homecoming sale at one of my local yarn stores. So that's one more project started, but sooner or later I'll get around to the finishing.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Here's a finished project, just in time for Halloween.

Meet Boo. Boo the Bat is a Mochimochiland pattern, and a project I started last October. He's been on hold for quite awhile, but he knitted up really quickly once I paid some attention to him. I did most of the knitting at Tuesday's knit night (a little less than two hours), finished him up yesterday, and then blocked and assembled him today. Blocking is really important for this pattern, because the wings are just a single layer and have to be blocked to shape.

And the wings are functional! Boo has a little button, so he can fold his wings together and take a nap. His little loop feet make it possible to hang around like a proper bat. When Kerry described Boo's feet to me last year, I knew I had to knit one - so I'm glad he's finally finished.

I'm not exactly sure where Boo is going to make his home. Since our bats in the attic are still around, Aaron's not feeling especially bat-happy right now. But who wouldn't love Boo? We'll see if I give in to the temptation to make him a few friends before Halloween!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Well, um....

So I may have started a new project. Or two. Or three. Three is still "just a few," right?

I've been down with a nasty set of migraines for the past week - the first one hit while I was in Indianapolis for my cousin's wedding, and they just haven't let up. (The wedding, by the way, was lovely. It was a very fall-themed wedding - Crystal made the leaf-decorated invitations and programs herself, the attendants were in fall colors, and they used silk leaves as place cards for the tables. They even had an autumn-orange getaway car!)

So I haven't gotten much of anything done - but it seems like I've managed to get a lot of things started.

I misplaced my new Calorimetry headband, so I've had to make myself another. It's still cold here! We finally had some sun over the weekend - it was almost confusing to wake up to bright and cheerful light. But that seems to have been just a weekend treat, and there's no warm-up in sight. So I have another headband, this one made from another mystery yarn I had around. Cast on 110 stitches, and I've lost track of how wide it is - I was going for something a bit narrower this time.

They're so quick to make, why not another? I'm trying to take it easy, so I curled up with NUM3ERS on the on-demand TV, and spent several catch-up episodes knitting. (I'm glad Amita said "yes" to Charlie - I can vouch for the quality of mathematicans as husbands!) This Calorimetry is about to go in the mail, as a Random Act of Kindness for someone in the LSG group on Ravelry. I cast on 90 stitches, and used Nele, a big, thick yarn Aaron brought back from Germany. The yarn I had made kind of a narrow band, but it should be enough to help keep someone warm.

And now I'm working Calorimetry #3 (or #5, if you count all the ones I've made). This one will go to my sister, in Montana. Two weeks ago they were enjoying 80-degree days, and now they have blizzards! She actually closes off part of her house each winter, in an attempt to conserve heat. (Her dogs are bigger than mine. I wonder if that helps?) So I guess I can't complain too much about the cold days here - and I hope this will help Nancy keep a little bit warmer.

Once these are done, I'll get back to work on the UFO collection. I spent some time going through the stash, trying to find projects that needed attention. I seem to have a few....

Friday, October 02, 2009

Winning the battle, losing the war

So far, so good. One thing finished, and nothing new started.

I have my very own Calorimetry, and it's nice and toasty warm.
But not warm enough, I fear. Although I've tried - really tried - to avoid turning on the heat, I had to give in. It's just too darn cold, and too darn wet. I really can't make pot roast for dinner every day, and I'm running out of excuses to turn on the oven.

But I'll still appreciate having the nice warm headband. I've set the thermostat to 69 degrees, and I'm not touching it. I won't say anything if Aaron feels the need to turn it up, but I'm not touching it.

Next project - the Baby Surprise Jacket. At least I hope it's next - I've had some trouble finding the leftover yarn for seaming. But tomorrow we're off to Indianapolis for a wedding, so I'll do some serious knitting during the trip, and then come back to sew up a jacket. And to avoid starting any new projects!