Saturday, August 29, 2015

Post About Cooking

Most of you know that I slimmed down.  Seriously! I went from a hefty plus size to a 6-8.  Some of you have asked for details, and I sent ya'll to the group that helped me.  If you are curious, too, about what I did, just email me. 

A few knitter-friends have slimmed down, too, using this method, and have been giving me menu ideas and cooking tips.

I've always liked to cook.  Now, as I follow this very health-oriented food plan, preparing food at home is the way to go.

In the bad old plus-size days, my meals were skimpy and my snacking was habitual.  Today, I eat three meals, and nothing in between, which means that once dinner is finished and dishes washed, there is no more hanging around in the kitchen for the evening.  The evening is mine!  My meals are big, especially heavy on the veggies, including a big, big salad with supper.

For a person who has major problems with being over-scheduled, the time I spend cooking and cleaning up might seem like a waste.  It's worth it, though.  I get so much more done than I used to, because I feel so good.

John is a good sport and eats whatever I'm cooking.  He says he enjoys the food plan.  Since John doesn't have a weight issue, he eats the same foods but he doesn't weigh or measure his food.  He actually likes smaller servings than I measure and eat.  John adds a little beer and peanuts to his menu, though!

For breakfast, I usually do eggs, oatmeal, and chop up fruit.  The fruit varies according to what's in season, of course. It's not that I have to eat eggs and oatmeal - these are just foods that I like that match with the specific food groups for breakfast.

Keeping up with the program meant that I had to get organized, so on Sundays, I pack weekday lunches.  Again, following food groups, most weeks, I cook a brown and wild-rice combination for my grain servings, measure and pack that in plastic tubs, then pour in enough frozen veggies for my veggie requirement.  (At work, I nuke the tubs in the office microwave.)  I also get my raw vegetables, fruit and a protein bagged and piled in the fridge.  Often, my protein is string cheese or cottage cheese, because I like those, but some days I pack leftover protein item from the night before into my lunch.

I especially like gadgets - no surprise there!  Recently, on a whim, I purchased an Instant Pot from, an electronic pressure cooker/steamer/slow cooker.  This cooker has a big stainless steel cooking pot inside that comes out and goes through the dishwasher. 

I've always liked using stove top pressure cookers.  I have a regular one and a low-pressure one.  With the stove top kind, though, you hang around the kitchen, wait for the pot to reach pressure, then listen to the valve jiggle to make sure the pressure is regulated properly.

With this gizmo, I can come home from work, load something in the pressure cooker, set it up, and I don't have to watch it.  It has a timer and beeps loudly when it's finished.  I have had a learning curve, but gradually improved in my use of it.  I've pretty much eliminated using my crock pot and pressure cookers, and this summer, I've hardly used the oven.  Yesterday, for instance, I set up the Instant Pot with chicken, wandered off and knitted.  I've been making Origami Sweaters.  My first one is in the photo.  I'll write another post about them, I think.

I checked my watch and came back when it was time to make the salad and cook the side veggies.

I like it for cooking rice using the low pressure setting.  I was doing my rice in the microwave, and it was difficult to keep it from bubbling over and making a mess.  I could do rice perfectly on the stove, but that means staying in the kitchen and keeping an eye on it. 

A friend at my weight control group told me she has one, and how she uses it to cook pieces of chicken right out of the freezer.  I tried that myself, with surprisingly good results.  I'm still figuring out cooking times, especially if I put in something frozen, but it works for me to underestimate, then put the lid back on and cook more as needed.  Eventually, I'll master the timing.  I've been visiting some websites with pressure cooker advice and finding those helpful.  There are a lot of foods I haven't tried cooking.  I tend to shy away from the ones that might bubble up and clog the valve.

I cooked salmon in it the other day.  (I'm crazy about salmon.  So is my dog, go figure!  When I am cooking, he usually ignores me, but if it's salmon, he comes and stares at me with his big, soulful brown eyes.  It works - he gets a little after supper.  We buy him salmon-flavored dog food, and that's the kind he will always eat.)  I've been poaching salmon for years with water, lemon juice and lemon pepper, because that produces moist, tender fish.  I found that using the same mix in the electronic pot actually worked okay.  I didn't know how long to cook it.  You're supposed to be careful not to overcook fish, but my first guess wasn't quite long enough, so I poked at it with a knife and cooked it some more time.

I'm still thinking about buying a spiralizer for cutting my veggies.  Next experiment, I guess!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Friday, August 14, 2015


Updates - John was gone this week, and I was on my own. 

Tuesday, our dog Sammy had an appointment for a one-shot radiation treatment on a spot where the vet had removed a small, but cancerous tumor.  This was to happen at Texas A&M's College of Veterinary Medicine, so on Tuesday, I took a morning off work and off I went.  Oops! It turned into the whole day.  It's a teaching hospital, and that takes a little longer, but the primary delay was the procedure wasn't going to happen until they did their own evaluation, their own blood work, and lined up on the anesthesiology schedule.  They needed to keep him a while afterwards.  A&M is two hours away, and Sammy doesn't mind road trips if he can roam the car.  This is Texas country driving with high speed limits, and I needed him to not roam all over my body (I had nobody to help me with him), so I put him in his crate for the drive, which he hated.  It ended up being a 12-hour day, including the 4 hours on the road. 

Perhaps because he was knocked out for the procedure, he was off his game afterwards.  He whimpered the whole way home, yet when I stopped the car and checked him out, he seemed okay.  When we finally got home and he seemed to have no appetite, I was worried, but after a day or so he was his old self. 

I haven't done much knitting, just a little "doodling."  Some more knitting parts arrived, though.  I had ordered a bunch of odds and ends to fix up a couple of machines that were donated to our knit club, a 270 with missing parts, and a 970 with a missing CB-1.  I haven't found - and may not find - a CB-1 (has anybody got one for sale?).  Parts came for the other machines, and it's always fun to have knitting items arriving, and they're going to turn out just fine.  However, not sure I want to do this very often; I'd rather knit that fiddle with machines.  In fact, I'd MUCH rather knit. 

Whenever we "adopt" homeless machines, we get to fix them, store them or sell them or find them homes.  We obviously don't have time and space for this, so why keep stumbling into it?  Well, for years, I wanted that first machine, but I couldn't afford it, and when I finally got one, it was like a dream come true.  Then, I kept wanting to add accessories and upgrade, and add different gauge machines, and it was always expensive.  I was always thrilled when I got the newest item and was able to do more because I had it.  John totally understands my emotional history with these machines (he was there and bought me my first one).  He also gets sucked in to the challenge of fixing up anything mechanical.  We're a terrible influence on each other in this area.  :)

I have two more seminars this year, Princeton, Minnesota and Dallas-Ft. Worth in October.  In 2016 I'm going to teach a seminar in Albuquerque next Valentine's Day weekend.  Some other 2016 seminar possibilities are in the hopper.  I'll let you know. 

You know, I love to link to knitting blogs, but I don't see much activity this week.  Tip me off - am I missing some good, new blogs?  Some my favorite blogs to follow don't have much knitting lately. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Inspiration at Anna's Blog

Anna's blog is in Russian, but oh, the pictures!  You can use a translation app to translate the blog, which works quite well with many languages, but with Russian, it comes back with near-nonsense. 

I really like this pullover - the 3/4 length sleeve with the deep ribbing and the simply raglan style:

Monday, August 3, 2015

Crib Blanket at Roz's Loft

Check this out:

Condo Cable

Life's been very hectic, but lately I really want to at least knit a few minutes in the evenings.  Even if I only get to doodle, make swatches, try out ideas, and don't have time for a whole project, I want to fit it in. 

I'm calling this evening's experiment a "condo cable:"

Condo knitting is a technique with larger loops for some of the work.  Sometimes we MKers call it "release lace." 

I programmed the Brother standard gauge machine with the chart, above.  It's 12 stitches wide and 16 rows tall.  It could work with a punch card; you'd just have to repeat the pattern.  The programming is just to help me keep track of when to put ribber needles in work and when to cable.

The pattern is a multiple of 12, plus two extra stitches on the side edges.

The ribber is set up, but cast on 50 stitches on the main bed only for the swatch.  I was using tension 6 and a large, 1-pound ribber weight.  It's always harder to get stitches to knit off when you're doing single bed with a ribber, and weights help.  Machine is set to N, not H on main carriage.

Knit a few rows, then engage the machine's needle selection (KCII; if you can't suppress end needle selection, ignore a selected end needle.  Also, ignore the two needles that sometimes select on the edge.)  When the machine selects 6 needles in a row, I put the ribber on half pitch and brought up 5 needles on the ribber bed, just below the 6 selected ones.  Knit 1 row.  It selects the same needles again.  It will have laid down yarn in the ribber needles.  Drop the ribber stitches by uncoupling and sliding the ribber carriage across and back.  Move the ribber needles back down out of work.

Now, the selected needles have long loops and are the ones to cable.  Use two 3-stitch transfer tools and cable 3 over 3.  Because of the long loops, they'll cable just fine, even though they're groups of 6 stitches.  After you cable, bring the cabled stitches out to hold so they'll knit through more easily.

Keep knitting (main bed only), until machine selects groups of 6.  Once again, bring up 5 needles on ribber below those selected 6, knit 1 row, release ribber stitches, and put ribber needles back out of work.  Then cable the selected needles.

Repeat.  This is easy and fun!  A few thoughts:

1.  Be careful not to get the long condo loops stuck on gate pegs.
2.  Bringing the cabled needles out to hold really helps stitches knit off.
3.  No reason you couldn't do this with your bulky - in fact, I think it would look terrific!

Maybe I'll make a video out of it. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

New Video for August: How to Use Blocking Wires

I admit, this one's a teaser for "Knitter's Finishing School," my latest DVD course (available at  I want every knitter to be able to get excellent results as they put together their projects!

I'm Ba-ack!

The itinerant machine knitting seminar nut is back in town.  Whew.

We arrived at home with head colds starting up - of course, I blame airplane germs - and I'm still sniffly.  But, now that I've been back a few days, I wanted to share the seminar experiences with you just a bit.

First, John and I went to The Knitting Cottage in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, to teach a two-day seminar on Friday and Saturday.  The Knitting Cottage is a MUST SEE if you are ever in that area.  This is an immaculately clean, beautifully organized knitting shop stocked to the brim with beautiful, high quality yarns.  It's nestled in a lovely farming community.  Susan and Elizabeth have a big workroom in the back - also clean, fresh and organized - that usually has knitting machines, but they cleared the back and ussed it for the seminar venue.  We had about 26 knitters in attendance.  Waynesboro isn't a bad drive at all from D.C. or Baltimore, and several people drove to come.

We zoomed through the curriculum and I taught other things, as well.  With two full days to teach, I did a big fat variety of different knitting techniques.  The knitters are terrific; a few of them get a lot more knitting done than I do!

Big highlights for me:  Having dinner with Stephanie and Judy at the Parlor House; seeing Stephanie's sock machine collection and having dinner with her and her husband Howard; Karen giving me an incredible wedding ring shawl made by hand in Uzbekistan (Karen, I've displayed it on a table to show off the Lily of the Valley lace); staying at the fun Burgundy Lane Bed and Breakfast; attending a Mennonite hymm singing with Susan and Elizabeth (glorious), attending church with Susan and Elizabeth; dinner with Carol and Larry; a day of shopping at Amish businesses in nearby communities with Carol, Mary Ann, and Larry (and purchasing an incredible Amish quilt.  Have you got a yen for a real, handmade Amish quilt?  Have I got a source!), attending the monthly knitting club for a few hours, and visiting the Appalachian Trail for a few hours on our final day there (hello to Pyro Moses, Stretch, and Radar from Knitwit and Mr. Fixit).  The photo is John and I at the Mason-Dixon line on the trail. 

We had worked out a triangle route so I could do two seminars.  First, we went to Pennsylvania, taught there, then had fun for a couple days, then flew to Michigan.

I had never been to Detroit before.  Our plan was to visit the Henry Ford Museum.  Cathy, who organizes the Monroe Seminar, told me I'd enjoy the museum as much as John.  She was right.  We got sidetracked that first morning, though, and went to the Ford Rouge factory and watched them build F-150 trucks.  John and I were fascinated, just mesmerized by the process.  We only got a couple of hours of museum displays in before it was time to go, but no worries, we'd be back Sunday.

I taught the same class three times at Monroe on Friday because there were three teachers, then a different class three times on Saturday.  Since I had a limited time to teach, I featured my newest work, techniques out of the baby blanket book, 100 Ways, and Finishing School.  Honestly, I prefer to teach my little brains out, one different thing after another, but for the participant, these really big seminars with multiple teachers are just incredible.  I wish I could go to everyone else's classes!  Well, maybe I'll have time someday to attend as a participant.  They have all the synergies of size. Cathy and Larry had upwards of 90+ people this time.  What I couldn't get over were all the beautiful, familiar faces in Monroe!  It was so much fun catching up with old friends at the hotel.

Two people I spent a little time with have slimmed down, taking advantage of the same volunteer group I attend.  Curious?  If you email me, I'll send you info on the group.

If you don't go to seminars, you really ought to try it out.  Yes, I know I always say that, and I know I'm nagging, but I hate for you to miss out.  The camaraderie with other knitters is remarkable; it's as if we are all old friends almost immediately.  This helps eliminate the issues that come from being in a big crowd at a big seminar - not just that, but being broken into groups for classes helps participants make friends.  We have so much in common, resonate to the same vibrations or something.  I laughed until I was weeping at the hotel.

I don't have many photos this time.  We are always too busy to take many photos, and sometimes John and I find a friend who take some pictures, but we goofed and didn't do it this time.  Say, seminar attendees, I'd love it if you sent me some photos to share!

I have two more seminars this year, Princeton, Minnesota and Dallas, Texas, both in the fall.  Email if you want details.