Rules for Feeding the Stash

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Treading Water

Well friends, it has been quite the month in the Riddell house. I have had an incredibly stressful and difficult few weeks, and I have been doing my best to keep my head above water. 

The biggest change so far is that Annabelle, my beloved steed of the past six years, finally gave out on me. This has been a huge blow—while she wasn't my first car, she was the car I moved out of my mum's house with, and she was the car that brought me to Illinois, and she was the car that I brought Lee Lee and Coleslaw home in. She saw me through so much, and while twenty-four is a perfectly respectable age for a car, I was hoping we'd have more time together. 

I am currently without a car, which is a huge adjustment. I'm relying on the bus and city e-bikes for now, and I'm hoping to be able to get a new car before winter hits, which gives me a few months to save up some. I'm very fortunate to still have transport available to me, even though it is less convenient than having my own car. 

I pulled out my Sock Blankie last week, and the little squares are just what my tired brain needs right now. There's a part of me that wishes I was working on a sweater project, or a design sample, but apparently tiny garter stitch squares are all I've got in me at present. 

I haven't seriously ridden my bike since before I moved to Illinois, so I'm trying to get out on some short rides to get back in shape. I'd love to be able to use my bike to get to the nearby grocery store and both library locations, as opposed to spending an hour on the bus or paying for a city e-bike. I didn't think I was super out of shape, but it turns out that cycling uses very different muscles than the ones that I've been using lately! I did manage to get to the nearby library (just over a mile from home as opposed to almost two and a half miles), which wore me out more than I expected. I was very careful in the library and only got as many books as would safely fit in my bike basket, and hopefully I'll get my cycling legs back soon!

Otherwise, I'm focusing on taking it one day at a time, worrying about the things I can control and trying not to stress too much about the things that are out of my hands. My main priorities are getting enough rest, staying hydrated, eating regularly, and cuddling with Coleslaw, which are, in my opinion, the only priorities that really matter.

Friday, May 10, 2024

Shawl Project, Family Visit, and a New Treasure

Happy Friday, friends! I did not mean to be absent for almost a month, but it's been a crazy spring here at Riddell House. First and foremost, the yellow shawl has grown, though not as quickly as I'd hoped:

Last week I was in South Dakota for my brother's college graduation. I ended up being out there for longer than I'd initially planned, but it was good to see my family, and I got to sit on a pink boulder and look at the river while the rest of my family went hiking:

This week when I went to the thrift store I managed an incredible score. A vintage all-metal Singer, preferably in a sewing table, has been on my wish list for years, but I've had trouble finding one in my price point and within reasonable driving distance. Most recently, there was one at a local Goodwill that they had listed for seventy-five dollars, which is way more than I want (or am able) to spend, but when I walked through the furniture section of another local thrift store a few days ago I found this Singer Touch & Sew for just twenty-five dollars. 

It fits just perfectly on this little wall, and I can keep my Kenmore 12 Stitch on top of it when it's closed up (my Brother LS-2125i lives on a shelf on an adjacent wall). I'm so thrilled to have found it, and I'm really hoping to find the energy and motivation to start a sewing project soon. My mother gave me some fun fabric a couple of months ago, and I have a project planned for one of the lengths, but between work and taking Coleslaw to the park and a string of medical appointments, I haven't even managed to prewash the fabric yet.

I hope you all have a good weekend! I'm back to my retail job after taking last weekend off for my trip back to South Dakota, but I'm hoping to get some good morning cuddles in with Coleslaw and finish my current library book (Otherlands by Thomas Halliday).

Friday, April 12, 2024

A Minor Setback

I finished the body of the chunky cabled cardigan I showed you a couple weeks ago and it is too small. By a lot. I either entered something wrong in the grading spreadsheet, or I am cursed. The sweater is currently sitting in time-out, because I need to get a longer needle to reknit the body.

To make myself feel better, I cast on a shawl.

Assuming it all goes to plan, it will be very charming and a pleasant little knit and just what I need as a little break from the cardigan of doom.

Friday, April 5, 2024

And Now We Are Ten

Good news, I managed to get a replacement needle for the sweater I shared last week, and last night I reached the divide of the fronts and back. It's looking like a large blob right now—the craft store didn't have a 36-inch needle, so I'm making do with a 29-inch one, and I also never move front/back stitches to holders or waste yarn, I just keep everything on the circ. In the meantime, Coleslaw did manage to get a hold of another sweater WIP, but she only managed one or two chews on that needle, so it's still useable. 

I realized as I was sitting down to write this post that this year marks my tenth anniversary of designing. In fact, I blew past the official tenth anniversaries of my first blog post and my first pattern just last month. We were all, of course, very different people in ten years ago, but I do look back at the Kat of 2014 with a great deal of fondness. I certainly wouldn't be the person I am today without her, and I'm glad I took the plunge into designing. 

Anyway, here's some photos from the past week. My mother visited last weekend, which was really nice, and we got me a new Raggedy Ann and Andy at the antiques mall. 

I've also been dyeing some bare yarns I had lying around my stash—this one was dyed years ago with red cabbage and turmeric, but I hadn't used enough dyestuff, so the skeins were very faint. I overdyed these with even more turmeric last night, and they're hanging in my shower to dry now. I think these will become a shawl sample, once I've finished up at least one of the sweater samples I'm currently knitting on.

Speaking of sweater samples, here's the WIP that I managed to rescue from Coleslaw before she did too much damage. I had to rip out and re-cast on this piece eight times because I kept messing up the stitch counts, but I have now made it through all of the ribbing and TWO (2) full repeats of the cable pattern, and I'm smitten. The yarn is a worsted weight mystery wool, and it's lovely and rustic and crunchy—exactly what I'm into right now. 

Friday, March 29, 2024

Coleslaw Strikes Again

While I am fortunate enough to work from home about half the week, I do have to go into the office a few days, and my office is, frankly, freezing. I've been re-evaluating my sweater collection lately, and I decided I could use a big, chunky, cable and moss stitch cardigan, and I figured that it wouldn't actually take me too long to knit. So I picked up some Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick in Oatmeal and cast on in mid-February, thinking I'd be just a week or two away from a new layer in my office arsenal against the cold.

Enter Coleslaw.

She is the light of my heart and an absolute menace.

This was the third set of needles she's eaten from this sweater, so it's on hold AGAIN while I wait for a new set to arrive.

She's lucky she's cute.

Friday, March 15, 2024

Tale of a Sweater, or, Kat Can't Count

Last summer I started knitting a pullover out of some vintage wool I'd picked up at a church bazaar a couple of years ago, and back in October I finally finished the back and almost immediately realized...I hadn't counted the stripes correctly. 

I have one skein of the brass, two skeins of the orange, and five skeins of the yellow, which means I need to use twice as much orange as brass and twice as much yellow as orange, and then use the rest of the yellow for the ribbing and collar. Pretty straightforward. So I thought and thought and thought and decided that I could do two rows of the brass on either side of four rows of orange, because four is twice two, and then twice four is eight rows of yellow (except for some reason I decided to do twelve rows of yellow?? I don't know what Past Kat was thinking).

Except if I'm doing two rows of brass on *either side* of an orange stripe, then that's actually four rows, and the orange stripe needs to be eight rows. Which means the yellow stripes need to be sixteen rows. 

(I am famously bad at arithmetic. One of my sister's favorite things is asking me things like "what's eight plus five" and watching me get more and more flustered.)

The good news is, I am much happier with how the new back looks. I love the wider stripes, and it's really matching the vision that I had in my head when I first came up with this sweater. 

In non-knitting news, I finally got a spot in the Rancho Gordo Bean Club after about two years on the waitlist, and I am thrilled. I eat a lot of beans, and while I've ordered Rancho Gordo beans in the past, they've always been treated like a special treat instead of a pantry staple, because I absolutely cannot be counted on to remember to place a regular order. 

Upon securing my spot I immediately dove into my remaining stash of beans to make a batch of red beans and rice and a batch of white beans with diced tomatoes, roasted garlic, and Italian spices. Truly, I have been eating like a king for the past week and a half, and earlier this week I got my first Bean Club shipment. I am so excited to try some new beans and explore some new recipes!

Monday, March 4, 2024

Antiquing and Heirlooms

Last week my dad came for a brief visit. It was good to see him (and great to see him give Coleslaw lots of loving). As it was a short visit, we didn't do a lot, but we did make it out to an antiques mall that a former coworker had recommended to me, and we had a blast looking through all of the treasures there. I am, of course, powerless in the face of antiques, so of course I brought some things home.

My first find was this dimetrodon figure. I love dimetrodon, and I have a small herd of them on the kitchen counter in my beverage corner. 


My second find was this raccoon hand puppet. I have a fondness for puppets, and I think this guy has a lot of personality!

I also found two new dolls for my doll collection. They are porcelain, which I usually don't collect, but they really called to me, and I'm excited to add them to the family.

Aren't they just darling? I hope they'll be happy here. 

My final find was this beautiful antique crazy quilt. I love crazy quilts, and I was so pleased to find this one in my budget. It's certainly seen better days, and I've found a couple spots where it's already been repaired at least once. I really love repairing old quilts and extending their lives, so I'm excited to get this once cleaned up and back in snuggling condition. 

You can see one of the old repairs here, though this patch clearly needs more love. A lot of the big holes I've found so far are in this blue fabric, which appears to just be weaker than the other fabrics—most of the other patches are in great condition and I haven't seen any major weak spots yet. I'm also obsessed with the fabric used for the back of the quilt, and I'm thrilled to report that so far the backing appears to be in excellent condition! Of course, knowing more will have to wait until I can get this thing in the tub and cleaned and spread out for closer examination. It'll certainly be a big project, and I hope that I'll be able to find the time to start before too long!


My dad also brough me several boxes of things from his side of the family, including a baby quilt that had belonged to his sister and several figurines, but the main thing he brough was an incredible collection of glass that had been displayed in his house growing up.

Yes, that's Federal Glass. Yes, I cried when he first told me about it. 

The purple/mauve glass pieces are Fenton, which I have a small collection of. I normally focus my Fenton collection on amber hobnail pieces, but I did love these pieces when I first saw them, and as they're family pieces, I'm glad to give them a home. The crystal jar in the front of that bottom photo is actual crystal, and it has my aunt's initials etched on it. 

I've known this Federal Glass collection was coming to me for a couple months, so I ordered a shelf from IKEA a few weeks ago to display it in a manner worthy of its status. 

I mean, just look at how beautiful it is! Look at how the light passes through them!

I'm so pleased with them. Someday I'll have space for a proper display cabinet, but for now I'm thrilled to have them out and able to be enjoyed, and I think having them on display here really ties that corner together!

Friday, March 1, 2024

A Sweater, a Quilt, and Several Mugs

I got it into my head that the next time I blogged would be to show off my finished Dziadzi, and then it took me a while to track down buttons, and then it took me a couple weeks to actually find time to take pictures of it, and now here we are, in March. Whoops.

Anyway, Dziadzi (Ravelry project link) is done, and I'm smitten. I really enjoyed knitting this, and I'm very excited to have a neutral wool pullover to add to my wardrobe. This was also a pretty quick knit, once you set aside the month and a half break to work on xmas knits and the days I lost when Coleslaw got her mouth on it and ate the needles, forcing me to wait for new ones to arrive. 

(I have lost count of the number of sets of knitting needles she's eaten. It's at least thirteen. She is a menace. I love her.)

In other news, I finally had the money to order mugs for my beloved mug collection and I got them all unpacked and set out. I love my mug collection, and it's been very difficult to have them packed up and stashed in a closet for the past year. (Since unpacking them, there is now room in said closet for my mops and broom, so they aren't just leaning up against the wall of my living room anymore.)


I was afraid that hanging the shelves would be difficult—I really struggle assembling flatpack furniture, so while I do order a lot of things from IKEA, it always fills me with a bit of dread. Fortunately, these went up incredibly easily, and I actually had a lot of fun hanging them. The shelves are the Mosslanda picture ledge, which I chose because of the lip along the front edge. 

Another thing I did this week was pull my current quilting project out! A couple months before I left South Dakota, I tripped over a chair and fell on my quilting frame, breaking it, so for my birthday last September I asked for a new one. The past few months have been crazy, so I only just unpacked and assembled the new frame this week, but it's been so nice having a quilt out to work on. 

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Xmas Knits, Finally

I finally mailed out my family's xmas presents last week, and everyone has now received and opened their gifts, so I can finally share my two xmas knits with you all! 

Up first are my mother's socks (Ravelry link), which I knit for the GAL on Ravelry. The pattern is Book Stash Socks, by Nailya Plaskey, which was a really enjoyable knit! The colors are brighter than what I tend to use for myself these days, but they sure were fun to knit up (Zwerger Garn Opal Sweet & Spicy in Fruchtgummi). I did modify the pattern so I could knit them top-down, as is my preference, and, as always, I swapped in my favorite heel and usual toe. I definitely plan to knit another pair of these for myself sometime, but I already have at least three socks on the needles for myself, and I am, admittedly, terrible at focusing on knitting socks except for my mother's xmas pair, so who knows when I'll actually get around to them.

Next is my brother's hat (Ravelry link)! I knit him a Musselburgh for xmas a couple years ago, and when I asked him this year what he wanted, he said, "I like that hat you made me," so it went right back into my queue. He gave me three color choices to choose from so I'd be confident he'd get something he liked and so there'd be some element of surprise for him, and I chose my favorite (honestly, I love this green so much that I was tempted to keep the hat for myself—Knit Picks Palette in Larch Heather). 

Since finishing my gift knitting, I've been back to work on my Dziadzi, which I'd started for NaKniSweMo. I only managed to get up to the front and back divide on the body before having to switch over to xmas knits, but since picking it back up I've finished the body and one sleeve, and I'm hoping that I can bang out the rest of the second sleeve this week. 

Friday, January 5, 2024

Goodbye 2023

Hello friends! When we last met, I was gearing up for a very busy three weeks, but between work and some things in my personal life, it was nonstop crazy up until Christmas. I'm just finally pulling myself out of the fugue I've been in for the past couple months and trying to find some kind of feeling of balance.

Coleslaw continues to be a perfect puppy, and everyone adores her. She'll be seven months old tomorrow, and I can honestly say the past four and a half months with her have been a nonstop adventure. She continues to be intelligent and curious and excellent at finding and chewing on things she oughtn't. We celebrated her first Chanuka and I managed to get one (1) decent non-blurry picture of us:

Because of the things in my personal life I alluded to above, I was traveling for most of Chanuka. We celebrated Night One on time, but then I decided to pause and we celebrated nights two through eight when I got back home. 

While I was out of town, her groomer/boarder/daycare did Christmas photos as a fundraiser for new playground equipment, and they are the best fifteen dollars I've ever spent:

Probably my favorite one is of her doing a perfect Kubrick stare:

Christmas itself was a little weird. It was the first time that my family hasn't been all together, and I also had to work at my retail job on the 23rd and 24th, which was exhausting. We did family video calls on Christmas Eve (to watch A Muppet Christmas Carol) and on Christmas morning (to open presents), and while it was different than years past, it was good to be together that way. 

Coleslaw got tons of new toys, which she loves, but within an hour of opening them she got very overstimulated and needed a nap, so we napped for most of the rest of the day.

We also managed an obligatory family Christmas selfie, again managing only one (1) decent non-blurry shot:

Because of all the craziness that took over November and December, I have still not managed to send my family their Christmas presents, and, in fact, I am still not finished knitting one of them. Fingers crossed that I can get that done soon. 

I got a couple days off from my library job for Christmas and New Year's, which I mostly spent sleeping, since the past few months have been exhausting and draining. I'm glad I had those days, and I'm hopeful that I'm starting to feel like a human person again.

On Monday I noticed that the bag of veggie scraps in my freezer was full, so I made broth in the 1970s CrockPot I found at the thrift store several weeks ago:


For many years I said I didn't need a full-sized CrockPot since I am only one person, and I have a little Crock-ette that works for most things, but when I saw this one at the thrift store, I just knew I needed it. Antique appliances for the win.

Yesterday was my fifteenth Diaversary (anniversary of being diagnosed with diabetes), so, as always, I made a cake: 


It's a very good cake, and I'm very glad that diabetes hasn't taken me out yet, and I'm very grateful for my incredible care team and my insulin pump and glucose sensor (even though the alerts sometimes piss me off). 

Best wishes for 2024, friends. 2023 was hard in many ways, and the last couple months really kicked my ass. I'm proud of myself for handling the challenges that 2023 sent my way, even though they were hard and dealing with them really sucked. I'm hoping that this year I can feel more balanced and get back to doing more of the things that I love that I didn't really have time or energy for in 2023.