Posted by on Saturday, October 29th, 2005

It’s all about the good, the bad, and the goopy around here.

Let me start with the good.  The Socktoberfest socks are lovely to knit, and the finished sock is comfortable and warm.

The bad is that we apparently have some sort of appliance-related curse.  First, our furnace died on Thursday.  And though we know what part we need to replace, Scott hasn’t been able to find one in a store yet, and we can’t get anyone out to the house to fix the furnace until November 7th.  There may be a lot of cold between now and then, but it certainly won’t be the kind of cold folks in West Virginia and the Northeast are experiencing.  I’m glad that it happened in October and not February, because our current level of cold makes this an annoyance and requires us to bundle up, but doesn’t risk our pipes or our safety.  Consequently, I’m knitting on the ruana a lot these days, because it is essentially a blanket at the moment.  See–it’s full of Crazy Lanea.

But the furnace was just the first appliance problem.  Yesterday I met the Black Screen of Death.   My computer could not rouse itself, and it picked a bad time for illness, what with all of the party planning and festival work going on around here.  For the first time, our dog hurt the computer and the cat was innocent*.  Kayo’s fur gummed up the works.  Lots of dismantling and vacuuming was required.  Scott fixed everything.  Except for the  vacuum, which started smoking while it was sucking out the Kayo-fur.  Three appliances in three days.  Ugh.  I will not be touching my kitchen-aid or my sewing machine for a while, I’ll tell you that.

Luckily, appliances are not generally required for blocking sweaters.  Here is Rose, quasi-finished:

She looks fore-shortened because, well, I’m short and it’s hard to photograph sweaters that are on the table.  The neck is still dangerously low (Scott says it’s fine), so I think I’ll go around with at least one more row of crocheted edging.  I dread that.  The lace looks great:

What does not look great, even post-block, is the stockinette.  Either my swatch lied and this needed smaller needles, or the curse has affected DK Soft’s bloom (is yarn an appliance?) or I suddenly turned into a crap knitter.  I’ve been advised to put her away for a while and not do anything rash . . . but we all know I’ll probably give Rose away to someone who will be less demanding of her.  It is in my nature. 

And the goopy?  It’s Pumpkin time, baby!

My friend Tara’s dad makes these amazing pumpkins.  And he taught Tara how to do it when she was a kid, and Tara taught me (thanks Tara!).  And I have two Halloween parties today, so I thought it was time to make another lovely pumpkin.  Wanna learn?  Ok, I’ll show ya. 

Get a pumpkin, a design, and some scary dentist’s tools.  You’ll also need something to scoop the seeds out, something to thin out part of the inside of the pumpkin, and something to cut the top off with.  And a sharpie.  And maybe an exacto knife.  And a latte would help.  This whole process took me about an hour and a half.  Oh, and if you don’t have any sort of appliance curse, you could use a dremel and it would be much easier and faster.  No matter what tools you decide to use, please be careful, work slowly, and don’t cut yourself.

I’m putting the festival’s logo on the pumpkin, since we’re having our volunteer appreciation party today.  This is actually not a great design as-is, because the lines are pretty fine in the knots and spirals.  Tara or her Dad could do this, I betcha, but I’m still a novice. 
So, tape your design template onto the pumpkin:

And take either a pin or an awl or an exacto knife and start tracing the design through the paper onto the pumpkin by making tiny little dots or slices.  This will shred your template (Martha would never tell you that), so you should be prepared to do some freehand work and to blot up the water that the pumpkin weeps. 

Then you’ll take off your design and start carving your design in earnest.  You’ll have to decide whether you want the image to be worked in the positive or the negative.  Here, I’m leaving the orange skin for the negative and removing it for the positive, cuz I’ve only got a little bit of time to do this in.  And you’ll notice that I’m not cutting through the pumpkin–I’m just cutting through the outer skin. 

Believe it or not, sharpie ink will come off of pumpkin skin if you don’t let it sit too long, so if you need to trace over some parts of the design to make it easier to see the design, go for it.  Just make sure you wipe the ink away within about 10 minutes or so.   Once I’ve cut the outline, it’s time to start gouging out the skin.

Here fishy fishy!  This will send chunks of pumpkin skin flying around the room, so be prepared.  Here is what I had after about a half-hour:

And here’s the completed design:

Now we go from detail work to scut work.  Cut the top off:

(Scott did it for me . . . something about "no time for stitches today, crazy girl").  If you plan to light the pumpkin with a candle rather than some little electric light, be sure to make a hole for airflow, or you’ll either have to keep relighting the candle or you’ll burn your pumpkin down.  Don’t laugh, I’ve seen it happen.   And if it happens in or near a house or a forest . . . well, just cut a hole, please, and don’t burn the pumpkin or anything else down. 

Now clean out the seeds and goop inside (and toast the seeds, if you’re so inclined), and get out something to thin the pumpkin with.  I’m using these potter’s tools:

Because they work pretty well and are significantly less likely to cut me than most knives we own.  The thinner the pumpkin behind your design is, the brighter it will glow when lit–spend some time on this.
Whoda-thunkit?  The dog likes pumpkin:

I was wondering why he was bugging me.  The things you learn when you adopt an adult dog . . .

Et voila, a Potomac Celtic Festival jack-o-lantern:

It took a little over an hour, and I know it will be the only one like it on the block or at either party.   I would love to see what someone with better carving-fu could do. 

Have a great Halloween and/or Samhain everyone.

*Scath once threw a printer to the ground and smashed it to bits, and another time he poured apple juice into my laptop while I was writing my senior thesis, and another time he tried really hard to have a hairball on my keyboard, but I as quicker than he, just that once.  The cat hates computers, and he’s not hesitant to kill them whenever he gets a chance. 

Filed in blather,knitting | 2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Cursed!”

  1. Taraon 07 Nov 2005 at 2:33 pm 1

    Hey, cool, I’m on the blog! My 15 seconds of fame. You’re welcome for the pumpkin-carving technique, glad to share. Nice job on the tree! It reminds me of the coolest one my dad ever did–a nested set, with trees (tumtum, I believe) carved into the outer pumpkin and a big hole between them framing the smaller, inner pumpkin, on which was carved the Jabberwocky. I didn’t do one this year but my dad did–check out the URL listed to see the little devil.

  2. lellaon 12 Nov 2005 at 1:23 am 2

    Fabulous pumpkin carving, cranky appliances, lovely lacey sweaters and even some socks on the pins, indeed you really are amazing Mz. Crazy Lanea! You make life a fun thing. Thanks so much. 😉

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