Monday, December 12, 2016

The Season

Well, the end of the semester is upon us, which means that I'll be doing a whole lot of writing and a fair amount of grading in the next few weeks, now that classes are essentially done.

But this time of year also means that I can get my craft thing on like there's no tomorrow. So that's what I've been doing.

A LOT of cookies have been made. I'm not sure who's going to eat all of them, because my cats don't seem all that interested in them. So I guess it's up to me...

I've also been knitting and knitting and knitting. Because if it's going to be cold and dreary and a little snowy, and then get even colder and drearier (and perhaps snowier?), then that's just what has to happen.

I finished one little gift, and since I'm quite certain the person who will be receiving it doesn't read my blog, I'll post a couple of pictures.

It's a scarf: an easy knit that opens out into a lacework pattern when you wet-block it, like so:

I confess, it looks kinda cool on the blocking squares, doesn't it? But no, it can't simply remain there. It must go out into the world, sorta like so:

I know the picture leaves a lot to be desired, but trust me, single-handedly figuring out how to photograph a 5-foot long scarf on a cloudy winter's morning (read: no natural light anywhere, really) is just not part of my skill set.

And I didn't feel like trying, let's be honest. I made the scarf, that counts for a lot.

Because while working on the scarf, I also decided to experiment and try making a few Christmas ornaments for my tree. Specifically, I decided I wanted to try to knit a couple of snowflake patterns, and see how they turn out.

Well, they turned out just fine (look to your right), but knitting them takes a while and involves a lot of stitch markers and near-insanity, so that's why, of the two you see pictured to your right, only one is actually knitted (the one on the left).

The other one is crocheted. That went about a bazillion times faster, so that's what I opted to do when the madness came upon me and I decided to make a few more.  Like so:

In the picture on the left, they're drying after being soaked in cornstarch.

It's a way to stiffen them, so that they hang like ornaments, rather than folding or flopping like doilies.

There are several ways to stiffen a snowflake (okay, that sounds odd, but bear with me): you can use glue... yes, I was a bit skeptical about that as well, but yes, you can.

Or, you can use cornstarch, which is what I did. The advantage to glue is, it's permanent. The disadvantage to glue is, it's permanent.

With cornstarch, if something happens to the ornament--I'm envisioning something analogous to what happens when you neatly pack away Christmas lights and the cords spend the summer having group sex (or something), so that they're hopelessly entangled when the Yuletide season rolls around the following year.

With corn-starched ornaments, if there's a problem--if they get bent while being packed away, or a little grubby or whatever--you just wash 'em out and re-starch 'em.

The starching is a sticky mess: I just went old school and added a tablespoon of it to a half-cup of water, boiled and stirred, let it cool a bit and then plunked those bad-boys in. You have to be careful, because you don't want to mess with boiling hot cornstarch: it will both stick to your skin and burn you.

In short, if you're not careful, it will burn you and then keep on burning you. Just like some people... but I digress.

To keep my strength up while being crafty, I came upon a wonderful recipe for garlic rosemary chicken with cranberries--because I need to supplement the cookies with a bit more nutrition, I think. So this was that, going into the oven:

Again, my apologies to the vegetarians and vegans out there, but I do have to say, this recipe was quite good.

And I hate to say it, but I'm looking for a reason to make it again soon, and I haven't even finished all the leftovers from the first time around.

But before I do that, I need to actually do a bit of work.

Because although the semester is rapidly winding to a close and classes are basically over, it ain't over until it's over. And it ain't over just yet.

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