Friday, December 26, 2008

Yay for Christmas!

Happy winter holidays, readers! I was certainly a very lucky girl yesterday and got really awesome presents, so thank you to all my readers who donated to the "Paige wants clothes, CD's, DVDs and yarn" fund. So yeah, got clothes (I've ballooned this year thanks to tea, crumpets, fish and chips and all those other yummy British things) a few DVDs (I'm such a girly-girl, I got Wanted, the Dark Knight and some more awesome stuff) and a few CDs including the love of my life, Jason Mraz and my other loves, Alanis Morrisette, Pink and Flight of the Conchords. My dad also surprised me with the coolest CD ever- Nightmare Revisted. apprently he'd read about it in Rolling Stone and decided it was all me- I had a Nightmare Before Xmas phase that started my freshman year of high school and is still going strong...7 years running! It's all the songs from Nightmare before Xmas performed by artists including Marilyn Manson (I normally don't dig his stuff but he did a great job on this CD) Amy Lee, Plain White Tees, All American Rejects and some other people you really didn't expect to do a CD like this. It's awesome. I lurve it. I got a little yarn- 4 skeins of Brown Sheep to be exact. I bought some crazy turquoise a couple years ago and love it, but I'm not bold enough to wear something that's as bright and fuzzy as that. So I asked for something to pair it with to make a striped hoodie. I got 4 skiens of a charcoal-ey gray. My mom called up Molly at Stitches and Scones and explained that I'm hopeless at matching colors and so they sent out the Brown Sheep to the house- which is awesome! I'm really excited to start the hoodie- the pile of yarn will probably go to England to keep me company. I'm working really hard on this project manogamy thing and am about to finish the body on my blue sweater that only a few people have seen and nobody has maybe next post.
So, while I only got 4 skiens of grey yarn for Xmas, I did a little pre-holiday stashing. Here's a few show-and-tell pictures that I've been meaning to post for 2 weeks. The blue and green sock yarn is more Sheepyfeet from Mandie, the bulky light blue is my handspun, and that delicious emerald green that looks like mint in the picture is my lover, Malabrigo. I picked that up at Keepsakes in Carmel after having my nose prodded and then disapproved of by a plastic surgeon.
Note**I'm not entirely sure why there's a picture of chocolate cake in there, I tried to upload a picture of my new stash and it just jumped in my blog and I can't get rid of it. It's quite nice though...maybe I should post more chocolate cakes**
So the much anticipated (for me at least) White Elephant gifty-switch is tomorrow night and I HAVE A DATE! I tried to have the blue lacey sweater done for tomorrow night, but it's not going to happen. I'm going to be cleaning tomorrow and won't have time to knit another 3 inches onto the bottom and both sleeves. Was a good effort though, I think. I'll try to take some pictures of interesting things that aren't too obscene so you guys have an idea of what goes on at the Darling house.
What's in my head right now (in case you were wondering)
1. The picture at the top was taken at Starbucks while I was waiting for my green tea. It's a wreath make of red christmas ornaments and green yarn balls. I think I need to make one. I probably have enough green snippets to do it....but I'll get to it eventually.
2. I just watched "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and it was awesome.
3. I still need to make my dishcloth for the gifty-switch in Zionsville. And another Koolhaas hat for Pam in white. I got the yarn on sale at Knit-Stop today. More later once I actually start it. If I can still stand cabling after another Koolhaas, I'll make myself one out of that green Malabrigo. And it will be awesome.
4. I think I'm going to buy a dress form so I can put my sweaters in progress on it to decide if it makes my hips look big without actually wearing it. I think I'll wait until I get a JoAnn coupon. Those things are expensive. If I weren't so strangely shaped, I'd pay a random homeless person to hold still while I decide if my sweater is going to work or not.
5. Amazon has decided to wait to send my Yarn Harlot book and my Franklin book until the new Wendy Johnson book is published so that they can send it all in the same package. That's pretty lame, because Wendy's book doesn't come out until April.
That's about it. I think I'm going to go to bed now...I've got a lot of cleaning to do before the party tomorrow. Toodles!

Friday, December 19, 2008

6 days until Christmas!

So after a super-productive knitting night last night, I brought home a nearly finished sock and seriously thought about finishing it....but I didn't. Instead I played with my spinning wheel and will have some plied yarn pictures in a couple days. I'm working with more of the Lorna's Laces roving, but in blues and purples instead of Rainbow this time. I did take the rainbow and some other blue handspun to SnB for show and tell, and I think it was well liked. Janet had a hard time giving back the blue merino and I think I might have found a buyer for the rainbow handspun! I just have to decide if I really want to sell it or not...
But in more awesome yarny news, I finished the socks first thing this morning, and my Koolhaas hat a few minutes ago! Since it's not the best light for pictures and my mom isn't entirely sure how my camera works, the pictures aren't great, but they are pictures. Here's a few of the Koolhaas, which will be in the mail today. My mom and I went to Knit-Stop the other day and got some alpaca/wool and started the Koolhaas, which I've been looking for an excuse to make. (The yarn is Babe Softy Chic by the Fibre Company and is wonderful on so many levels and I would love to buy more but I need to wait until it goes on sale AND I win the lottery) I completely changed the crown because...honestly? I was too lazy to get up and find the directions...but I think it turned out fine. I actually think I like my version better! Here's a couple pictures of the hat, and because we all hated on compulsive cat-posters at SnB last night, here's a picture of Tubby Custard. She wasn't happy about getting her picture taken, but she was quite happy about the piece of ham that followed.
I already mentioned that I finished the second Wicked Stepsister sock, and it was about time. I got a nasty case of Second Sock Syndrome right after I turned the heel and let it sit for a week before I dragged it out last night at Borders. I wish I hadn't been so burned out on socks, the yarn was absolutely wonderful (go and buy some of Mandie's yarn now! You can find it at and it's called Sheepy Feet. Mine is silk and wool in the color "Black Widow" from the "Better than Black" collection.) The pattern was Cookie's Hedera from I'll get some better pictures soon, but since my mom isn't too sure how digital cameras work and this color is tricky to photograph, I'll have to get some better pictures over break to show off.

That's about it...I'm going to go drop this Chemo Choolhaas in the mail so it can make it's way to Boston. Have a great night!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Back in the Spin of things

Hey there! I'm finally back in the US and still a little jetlagged, but glad to be home. Traveling is always a terrible experience, only made worse by the banning of knitting on airplanes, so I won't talk about that.
Yesterday was my first full day back and slept...alot. Then I started unpacking and got all my Christmas presents wrapped! I'm so far ahead of my usual Christmas self- I blame it on the lack of Christmas knitting. I really like having everything already wrapped and under the tree. Then I went out to El Rodeo with the fam, which was awesome. They don't have Mexican restaurants in the UK, so I was thrilled to have a burrito, chalupa and a quesadilla. You'd be amazed at how much I can eat for a hundred and ten pound person. Then I bonded with my brother over Superbad and attempted to start a lace top, which will probably be frogged later. I'm not terribly happy with it, but I'm going to put it away for a few days and think about it first.

Today I got back to Lucrezia, my darling, my spinning wheel. I started spinning some Lorna's Laces roving before I flew the coop but I didn't get it done in time. Today I spun the rest of the really long spun single and then had the bright idea to Andean ply 400 yards- which obviously didn't turn out well. Andean plying is good for when you've got a little bit of single-ply handspun that you'd like to by 2 ply, but you don't want to separate it out on 2 bobbins to do so. So, had the slightly brighter idea to put it all on my niddy-noddy and then put it around a pillow and pull from both sides, still doing an Andean ply, just on a much bigger scale. I will definently do it again, and will try to take pictures of the process next time. I was thrilled that it worked! I'm also thrilled with how the Lorna's Laces looks all plied...isn't it pretty? I really missed my wheel when I was in was so pleasant to get my rhythm back at the wheel while listening to RENT (listening to La Vie Boheme at the moment...for the 12th time) and watching the snow fall. Its so relaxing...I love being home with my chatty cat and my spinning wheel!

Not a whole lot else going on...there's been talk about a trip to DSW for a new pair of boots to replace the ones I broke in England (at this point I have 2 pairs of shoes in the flat in England, black heels and red heels...not too great for the snow!) and I still need to go to Tiffany to get my Christmas bracelet fitted...I can't wait to start wearing it!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

So this is Christmas

At least it is in William Morris Tower, Flat 6!

I made my first Chocolate Victoria Sponge Cake with Chocolate Butter Icing...and impressed the pants off myself.

There was chocolate fudge...
and there was Red Velvet cake (scroll down for recipe!)

and there was Coca-Cola cake, complete with Chocolate and Coke icing and marshmallows (sounds weird as hell, but it's really very good)

The cooks couldn't have been more proud...
(This is one of the Alex-es of the flat, he makes a mean Christmas Chicken, pot roast, Yorkshire puddings and roasted potatoes, I took care of the cakes, green beans, carrots, and mashed potatoes. Together, we can put together quite a meal...for 20)

And finally, after 9 hours of cooking, we were finally ready to eat.

After a ridiculous amount of food, we were somewhat ready for my pride and joy, dessert. So Irene invented a reason for her pseudo-hubby, Tom to leave (his b-day is on Saturday and he's the one that's obsessed with Coke) and then we turned out the lights and put a bunch of candles in the Coca-Cola cake and brought him back and and sang to him. He was appropriately embarassed, but I think he liked it. He definently liked the cake.

Then we undid our secret santa gifts. I haven't gotten a picture of my own yet, so I stole someone else's picture of my gifts...yeah, I really got a necklace and a bracelet from Tiffany! I started crying right there in the middle of the secret santa swap, it was the best present ever! Yikes- I'm still crying! I feel so loved!

Red Velvet Cake:

1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs
1 teas. vanilla
2 T Cocoa
1 teas. salt
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup of milk plus 1 teaspoon white vinegar)
1 tsp soda
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/4 cups flour
1 oz red food color in 2 oz water
1 T vinegar

Cream shortening, eggs, and sugar. Make a paste with food color, water and cocoa. Add to mixture, then add salt, buttermilk, flour, and vanilla. Mix. Remove from mixer and add vinegar and soda (mixture). Spoon together, but don't beat. Bake 350 for 30 minutes.

Frosting... (aka the best frosting in the world)
1 cup milk
1 cup butter
1 teas. vanilla
5 T. flour
1 cup powdered sugar

Mix flour with milk and cook until thick. Cool in frig.
Mix 1 cup butter (real butter) with powdered sugar and vanilla
Beat mixture until smooth. Add flour and milk mixture gradually.

Enjoy! I'd love to know what you think- if you make it, you must let me know how it turns out!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Doin' the Happy Dance, Feelin' the love...

So...I just got back from turning in my last two papers, both of which were written so well, that if Nobel prizes were awarded for essays on Literature, I would have tied with myself. Okay, maybe not that good, but they were pretty darn good. The more important thing is that I am all done for the rest of the semester. And this happens every year, the due dates, the stress and then the epiphany. It hits me every year while turning in the last assignment: It's Christmas! I love it! The Christmas trees, the lights, the cookies, the silly santa hats, the way the trees sparkle when they're covered in ice! I love it all! (I think I'm loving it more this year since I don't have a pile of hand-knit deadlines for relatives expecting knitted presents!) I'm going home in 6 DAYS! As much as I'm going to miss the flatmates and English friends, I'm really excited to go home and see my parents and the cat...and I'm even a little excited to see my baby bro. I wonder if he's grown anymore since I've been away...

So I was talking to my friend Emma (who is American with an English name) and she is also flying out on the 14th (Sunday) and was saying how she has three suitcases to get back and she wasn't sure how she was going to do it. So I volunteered because I only have 1 bag and then she's like, oh, btw, my flight is 4 hours before yours. Poop. But- I have a plan. I'm going to get her and her bags to Heathrow, make sure she gets all checked in, then I'm going to check my bag, hop back on the tube and go get myself a nice, pre-flight non-airport lunch in London. Okay, it won't be that nice, but it will certainly be on the way to Loop yarns! That's right...I'm rewarding myself for getting to the airport with a trip to as many yarns stores I can fit in the 3 hours before I have to take the tube back to Heathrow and hop in line for security, with a bit of a secret. Heathrow has banned knitting/crocheting tools of all sorts, no matter their composition, but I don't think they'd take my bag of new yarn away. Especially if they can't find my sock dpns (they'll be in my shelf bra!) Get on the flight, read my new Sookie Stackhouse books and once we're in the air, get my knit on. I'd love to have turned a heel by the time I get to Chicago, but that might not happen, especially if they turn the lights off again. I am loading a few movies on my laptop this week to help with boredom (so far I have Fight Club and Romeo and Juliet- a nice balance of Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and my boy, Leo) and right now I'm just so friggin' excited to come home!

That's about it...have made minimal sock progress as all weekend was spent in bed with the flu or in front of the laptop writing about different versions of Cinderella. Hopefully there will be a nice big post Wednesday with all my baking pics, a couple recipes and pictures from the Christmas party! Yay!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Is it Christmas yet?

Good morning...or something like that. I'm a little flu-ey at the moment, so I appologize in advance for the inability to put a sentence together. I woke up yesterday with a sore lower back and hips, and this morning with a full-out flu. Bleh. I should have been a good student and written my papers this week when I wasn't sneezing every 30 seconds...but oh well. I also just sneezed while carrying a hot tea to my room...and now have wet socks and a bright red arm- ouch. Not my day. I just got back from my Fairy Tales class and I'll regurgitate my lesson over the blog instead of having my usual nap- because if I go to sleep now, I won't get back up again for my 1 o'clock Versions of Modernity class.
Today we continued last week's discussion of the nuclear family in fairy tales, and the common role of stepmothers and stepsisters cast as villians. We talked alot about this one story, Juniper (also known as the Rose-tree) where a woman kills her stepdaughter, cooks and feeds her to the loving father and brother, and the girl is reincarnated into a bird, who then somehow carries a millstone back to her father's house and drops the stone on her stepmother's head and kills her. Happy stuff. I wonder why Disney didn't cover that one?

Also talked about Cymbeline and The Three Heads in the Well, both of which have ties to Colchester, the town where I live when I'm in England. Colchester used to be the capital of England, long before London, way before the days of King Arthur...there is actually still a roman castle in the town centre- it's quite nice. They have beautiful roses and demonic squirrels that act like they want to share your granola bar, but they really want to tear your face off...back to fairy tales. Story starts off in Colchester where it looks like a recently widowed Kind is about to marry his daughter, the 15 year old princess (like Donkey Skin, this nasty French fairy much incest in real Fairy Tales) BUT he instead marries a hag who also has a 15 year old daughter. The hag and her daughter tell the king lies about his daughter and he banishes her from the kingdom with only a bag of hard bread, nasty cheese and some cheap beer (sounds like a college student to me!) and she's on her way! She sees this old man (who is actually a faerie in disguise) and offers to share her moldy cheese and nasty bread and beer with him, and he gives her a magic wand and shows her to a magic well. Three golden heads pop out of this well and demand that she brush their hair and lay them on the ground to she whips this magical golden comb out of thin air and does just that. They grant her three "weirds" (not wishes) which if you have studied linguistics, Old English and Shakespeare, you have figured out by now that the three "weirds" have come from three "wyrds" which represent the "wyrd sisters" from Hamlet- they were witches. So they "weird" her beauty, a lovely singing voice, and marriage to a wealthy prince (it's like Sleeping Beauty and Snow White all rolled into one) so she goes and snags herself the 14th century version of Prince William even though she has been disowned by her father and is without dowry, all thanks to old hag stepmom. So mini-hag daughter decides to do what her step-sis did and go find her own darn prince, but she screws up every step of the way. She tells the old man who asks her to share her food to bugger off, she beats the three golden heads in with a bottle of sherry and they "weird" her leprocy, a frog-voice and marriage to a cobbler. So then she meets a cobbler who happens to have an ointment for leprocy and is quite deaf and can't hear how terrible she sounds. So they get hitched, go back to the king asking for land or lordship or something and the old hag kills herself out of embarassment. I think she should have fallen into a vat of liquid hot magma, been eaten by wolves or been given leprocy herself, but a nice, respectable suicide will have to work.

So there...a fairy tale that I'm glad Disney overlooked. And now I'm going to tie it all in with knitting in a most amazing way: by showing you my wicked stepsister sock.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

It's Hump Day!

Happy Wednesday everyone! I'm just going to announce that I'm going home to Indy in 11 days and I'm thrilled to death. I'm really excited about getting my papers done by Monday and coasting on my last week while compulsively baking, my other addictive habit. We had a little vote yesterday for what goodies I will be making for the "family" meal (as in the 14 people living in the flat and whoever else shows up that day) and we decided on Coca Cola cake, Red Velvet cake (I will publish the recipe in the post after the Christmas party, Paisley Penguin- sorry it's taking me so long! Papers first, you know!) Chocolate Queen Victoria Sponge Cake (never made a sponge cake but I'm quite excited- it looks fabulous.) and lastly chocolate fudge. The fudge is really just to use up the leftover ingredients from the red velvet cake, but I don't think the flatmates will mind...

So I finished the monkeys in the last post, and I cast on socks with my new Louet Gems yarn (pictures below) and HATED IT. Seriously- I kept knitting tighter and tighter and I just don't like how the yarn feels. I figured I may have just been having a grumpy, sleep deprived day and frogged it. Then I realized I had SnB in an hour and grabbed a set of size 2's and the black/overdyed red Sheepytime silk/wool from Mandie ( and ran to the bus stop. By the time I got to the bar I had cast on and knitted the first two rounds of twisted rib and was ready to get my drink on. After a couple dropped stitches within the first inch I figured I'd switch to hot tea though...probably a good idear. I took some pictures this morning of last night's progress- this sock goes hella fast. I love the naughtyness of the color and the lingere quality of the lace (pattern is Hedera from Cookie A, this is my second pair this year)...but to try to keep it with the theme of life in England, I'm naming these socks the "Wicked Stepsisters" because I'm procraftinating with them and avoiding writing my paper for my fairy tales class, which is ironically on the construction of the nuclear family and the importance of evil stepmothers and stepsisters in Grimm's fairy tales. It's interesting...but I still don't feel like writing it right now. I also have a paper on the use of archaic language in 18th century poetry...gag. I think I'll knit socks today instead.
*By the way, the color in the first picture is more accurate, but the bottom picture shows the pattern a little better. If you haven't made a Hedera sock, drop whatever you are doing and cast on. Seriously*
I also need to run to Tesco to buy food- I'm completely out of's amazing how you can have food in the fridge, go away for the weekend and return to having no food at all. It must be the floor poltergeist. He steals milk too, but only whole milk. And mostly just my whole milk. The poltergeist might be called Luke.
Anyhoo, since my camera ate my stash pictures, I thought I'd retake one. The stuff still in the skien is my wonderful new Mirasol Hacho, the large purple ball is the Kraemer Sterling and Silk and the two smaller balls is the LOUET FROM HELL!!!! It's nice yarn, it just doesn't work with any of the patterns I've tried. I'm also very impatient. Maybe it will go home to Indy, maybe it will get left here and I'll deal with it next semester. Who knows. The Hacho will probably become a scarf...I've rubbed it all over my face like a cat trying to dream up what I will do with it boring to do another fan and feather scarf with it? It love multi-colored yarn, but there's not a ton you can really do with it as far as lace goes...any ideas? Any ideas on what I can do with the Louet from Hell? If you can come up with something good, there may be a terrible British gift involved....

Monday, December 1, 2008

Monkeys off my back

Hey there! I'm back from my wonderful weekend away in St. Neots visiting my mom away from mom. I did a ton of Christmas shopping, but my family occasionally reads here, so I'm going to stop talking about
I had a wonderful weekend of wining, dining (and shopping obviously) and beautiful, blissful, uninterupted sleep. I took my laptop with every intention of finishing the essay that was due today, but didn't. I did get the laptop out about 4 times and stared at Microsoft Word for a while, write a few lines, save it, then delete it a minute later, but I actually started over as soon as I got back here. 4 hours before the essay was due. I cranked out my 20 pages, cited my sources, proofread and send that beast in sent that beast in 10 minutes before it was due. I was actually started to get nautious as 4 o'clock approached- I was terrified. There are no extensions for any reason. Well, 1 reason, but I don't plan on getting beaten to a pulp and go to the hospital anytime soon. But then again, it could put my nose back where it used to be....and there's 1 monkey off my back. The essay- not the fugly nose that makes even Barbara Streisand look normal.
I barely touched my knitting this weekend. Seriously- it was that good. I did buy a little something for myself...but I didn't get a picture since it's past 4 pm here and therefore pitch black outside and any pictures taken of yarn with the flash look like something out of the Wizard of Oz. I picked up 3 skiens of this Peruvian yarn I'd never seen before but fondled innapropriately in a different store. It was on sale here and all three were the same dye lot, so I'm really glad I didn't buy it at the Remnant Shop as originally planned. It's called Hacho and it can be found here: It's beautiful stuff- the colorway I got is all different greens and purples (shocked? I know!) So, minimal knitting this weekend but I did pull off a miracle on the ride home this morning...
That's right! I got over the Second Sock Syndrome and finished the second pumpkin monkey (homesick socks on ravelry) and kitchenered the toe shut after I finished my essay. It's a good feeling...been wearing them ever since. Can't wait to get them home to Indy and get some really good pictures of them so I can add them to the hand-knit-sock rotation. Two monkeys off my back. It was a good day.