Sunday, December 21, 2008

happy solstice night


A month when time moves too quickly
A full week of snow on the ground, with more to come
Cookies
Tree decorating
Tangerine and clove pomanders
Korknisse
A snow walk at dusk
A room full of candles
Homemade macaroni and cheese

And tomorrow, the days begin to get longer again. Happy Solstice.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

colors, and ambitious ideas

I was staring at my Ravelry projects page, sort of spacing out, and realized that all of my projects over the past few months have fallen into a single color scheme. Not one color, but I definitely have a purple/gray/cream/beige/soft blue thing going on.


The weird thing is that these are not all for me, either. Oh well.

I tell myself every year that I am not going to knit Christmas gifts because it's too stressful trying to finish them in time. Then December rolls around and I decide that it is even more stressful to try to shop for everyone, and I decide that making things is a much better idea, fitting in with my philosophy of living and of the holidays. So here I am, starting little projects right and left. I'm not knitting for everyone, and I did downscale some of my ideas (from afghan to scarf, for instance), so I think it is feasible. We'll see.

December is so dark here, I am tempted to call in sick and and stay home to knit in my pajamas all day long rather than leave the house.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

the crazies

It's that time of year. There is so much going on with holiday stress, yucky weather, and lack of light. I go into hibernation. I have just enough energy to get by from day to day. I may be knitting, making, and reading all kinds of things, slowly, but the motivation to write it all down leaves me at this time of year. Plus the lack of sunlight at this northern latitude makes good photos difficult at best.

Some good things: waking up early in the darkness to drink coffee and read for 30-45 minutes before getting ready for work. Yoga, on the weekends and a few days after work. A sketch book full of sweater ideas. My first stranded colorwork.


Two years ago, I fell in love with this pattern (Anemoi Mittens, by Eunny Jang) and purchased it along with the yarn to make it. My first attempt at the cuff didn't work out, and the pattern and yarn were put aside. My knitting resolutions the past two years have included learning fair isle. A couple of weeks ago I realized the year was almost over, I had a queue full of various colorwork patterns, and wasn't any closer to knitting them. So, I pulled out my materials and set to work. My tubular cast on is messy, my tension isn't that great, and I just can't get the hang of holding one color in my left hand. So, slowly I go, both yarns in the right hand. But, it's so fascinating to watch the pattern emerge and mittens are such small things that it goes more quickly than I thought. I am farther along than this picture shows, ready to bind off the mitten tip and knit the thumb.

Two small projects for Mina were quickly cast on and finished last month (last month?!?), giving her some more options for bundling up. They don't match, but that probably goes better with her style anyway.


This is the One Day Beret from Through the Loops. It really is a one day project, too. I knit the whole thing one bright Sunday in October, much of it while walking around outside while Mina climbed the rock in the yard and checked the tree for more apples. I used one skein of Bernat felting wool, and when that ran out I finished up with some handpaintedyarn.com Merino Bulky left from my duchess raglan. The beret is knit top down, so this worked out pretty well - the softer merino wool is the part the touches the skin.


Mina also got a very purple scarf, made with Cascade Pastaza she chose herself. I stranded it with some Fonty Kidopale in a variegated purple/turquoise colorway and followed the basic directions for The Purl Scarf in Last Minute Knitted Gifts. I may have made it a couple of stitches narrower to keep it to preschool scale. It's long, with a thick fringe, and I think it's adorable on her but she doesn't hold still for photos very well these days. (In the one above, she's singing the "We Just Got a Letter" song from Blue's Clues and shaking that envelope enough to naturally blur the address for me!)

I have about 15 other projects going on plus requests for additional winter woolens, many books to read, and general chaos, as always. I'll be cooking and enjoying a simple vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, including pumpkin risotto and a brandied apple and stilton soup. I hope those of you celebrating enjoy your holiday and have some time to relax this weekend.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

in the autumn

Hey you!


Yeah, you. Have you played in the leaves yet this fall? It's a lot of fun.


We've had plenty of leaf kicking, pumpkin baking (muffins, cake, bread, pancakes...), family visiting, and craft making the last few weeks. Little Mina turned 3 last Sunday, and she's been walking around singing "hap booday ti you!" every day since her party. Over the weekend I made her a bright red tutu, which she refuses to model for a photo. (I'm working on it.) The plan for Halloween was a ladybug costume, but I couldn't find polka-dotted satin or bug antennae at the craft store. She was in a particularly rambunctious mood, so a pair of clip on devil horns came home with us instead. What can I say. At least we are replacing the typical pitchfork with a sparkly gold star magic wand.


This tutu is really much fuller and puffier than it appears - the light was coming through it when I took this photo. I used three yards of red tulle and these general intructions. I used one-inch elastic for the waist rather than ribbon, and my strips were several layers thick. It didn't take long, and I think it's the cutest tutu ever.

One day last week I suddenly decided that I NEEDED to start making my own bath and body goodies, so after a few days of research and recipe collecting, I headed to a local soap supply shop and brought home two bags full of goodies. Two successful experiments later I have enough body butter and lip balm to last one person for a year. And I've only used a fraction of the supplies I bought.


The body butter is firmer than a cream but the oils absorb quickly. It's doing wonders for my ragged, dry hands. What I really wish I could share through the internet is the fabulous scent! I combined green tea and kumquat oils and ended up with the fruitiest, brightest, most uplifting scent ever. I'm just a little in love with it. I'm also in love with the process of making this stuff, so expect to see a lot more of it in the future.

On the knitting front, I have a finished Ingenue that needs blocked and a so-close-it-isn't-funny cowl pullover. I've also finished a few small items that have never even been mentioned, so hopefully I'll get photographs of everything soon. I'm doing what I think of as my typical fall "thing," where I have a ton of inspiration and things I'd like to do, but the realities of diminishing daylight and accompanying loss of energy (pain, fatigue, etc.) send me into super hibernation mode. Fortunately we've had some gloriously sunny days and the colors this year are amazing. I sit in pools of sunlight, soaking it up like a cat. I'm doing my best to keep my chin up. Maybe with intentional focus on a few choice projects I'll make it through the winter more easily this year.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

not quite

Does Ingenue look finished to you?


Yeah, me neither. This proves that under normal circumstances, I cannot actually finish a sweater in under a week. It was a good experiment, though.

I am still planning to see Wendy Bernard this evening, but I won't be wearing this sweater. That's ok. I have a backup.



Snow White has been finished for months, but I haven't shown you yet, have I? I had been planning to take two or three inches off the bottom, but after wearing the sweater for a day I decided against it. Overall I really like this sweater - the yarn (RYC Cashsoft Aran) is soft, the design is lovely. It is very tight though. It has to be a high confidence day for me to feel good in it. I also wish there was just a bit of extra room in the armholes. I tend to tug at them throughout the day, and the tight armholes combined with super-clingy ribbing wears on me after a while. I heave a sigh of relief when I take the sweater off. But, that doesn't mean I dislike it! Now that the temperatures have dropped (it dipped below freezing last night!) I'll be wearing this quite a bit. Including this evening.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

progress report

As of 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Ingenue looks like this:


Normally I would consider this excellent progress. I began knitting late Saturday afternoon, giving myself a deadline of one week later. I'm planning to see Wendy Bernard when she visits Third Place Books in Seattle to sign Custom Knits, and I decided it would be fun to wear one of her designs when I go. One week isn't unreasonable, right? Then this afternoon I remembered that I'm going to need time for the sweater to dry before Saturday afternoon, which in this rainy season really means that I need to be finished knitting on Thursday night. In order to do that I would need to finish the body of the sweater tonight, and then knit one sleeve over each of the next two days. Since I can't really neglect my job or my family, that leaves just three evenings over which to knit... a lot. Really a lot.

Some pluses and minuses: 1) I knit sweater bodies quickly. My fastest knit of all. 2) Sleeves are slow. 3) The ridge stitch at the collar, hem and cuffs is slow. 4) I can probably get Mina to sleep relatively early this evening, leaving several hours of uninterrupted knit time.

We'll see. At this point I'm a little skeptical that I'll be able to finish in time, but I'll definitely try my best. There's nothing like a crazy deadline to make me focus and get things done, and after my last post it should be fairly obvious that I'm generally lacking focus (big time).

Enough analysis, I need to get busy!

Monday, October 06, 2008

evidence...

that I am either very busy or very crazy. Probably both.


Five sweaters. From top to bottom, that's Blossom from Knitting at Knoon, the Cowl Pullover from Norah Gaughan's Knitting Nature, Lily by Marnie Maclean, #11 Forestry by Veronik Avery from Fall 2008 VK, and a swatch (which is now almost an entire collar and yoke) for Ingenue from Wendy Bernard's Custom Knits. Yes, five. And those are only the sweaters. Or how about this?


These books are all "current" in some way - library books, recent purchases, things I've started reading. And the stack doesn't include the three knitting books I just got with a gift certificate, the library book on my desk at work, and a couple other random things. Add to this my full time job, keeping the house in some semblance of order, and a preschooler who is constantly on the go -



and I am very busy. Or crazy. Or both.

(Also, I just sort of announced to the world right here that I would have Ingenue finished to wear on Saturday. Busy (crazy), indeed.)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

this and that

Adjusting to changes in routine and a busier schedule in general has been keeping me from the blog for longer than I intended. I can't guarantee that this will get better very soon, but I am still here. Still knitting, reading, visiting the farmer's market on Saturdays, cooking and baking, and very much enjoying the early autumn. This is, by far, my most favorite time of the year. I don't even know how to explain how much joy a single red leaf brings me. And that particular sharpness and slant to the sunlight! I think I love it even more because I know how quickly it passes. By November we'll be into our long, gray and rainy season, so this special six weeks must be fully savored while it lasts.



Look what I found at the farmer's market last weekend! A precious half-pint of wild huckleberries, hand gathered and carefully washed and packaged. I grew up picking huckleberries in the mountains of Idaho, something I get to do so rarely now that seeing these made me so happy and excited. We used half of them for huckleberry pancakes. The rest need to be eaten tonight. With such a tiny amount I'm not sure what to do with them. Maybe just enjoy them all on their own. (No, they are not blueberries and do not taste like blueberries. They're impossible to explain.)



Look what else - a finished pair of socks! I knit the first sock last winter and finally finished the pair a few days ago. They are just plain toe up socks. I use the general directions written by Ann Budd in the Summer 2007 Interweave Knits, with an Eastern cast on, short row heel, and sewn bind off (except I use a knit front and back (kfb) increase for the toe instead of m1 just because it's easier for me and I think it looks fine). The yarn is Socks that Rock Lightweight in Carbon or Carbon Dating (label says one thing, website says the other). This is almost the last of my variegated sock yarn, thank goodness. It always looks pretty in the skein, but I've discovered that I dislike the finished product. Semi-solids for me, thanks. The minor pooling that went on in this pair is enough to drive me batty.



And finally, look at this. This is what happens when a nearly-three-year-old is left unattended with a box of Crayolas. I got home from work the other day to find my laptop had been newly decorated with cerulean lightning. Mina was stealthy, apparently - Jamie didn't even notice she had done it. Fortunately baby oil and q-tips cleaned it right off, and left my computer smelling oddly powder-fresh.

I am very close to completing the knitting on my Cowl Pullover, and I still need to do minor surgery to correct Snow White's length. New sweaters coming soon!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

destash, with a purpose

So the more I've thought about this over the past few weeks, the more determined I am. I need to buy a loom. I guess "need" isn't really the right word. Yeah, I really, really want a loom. I've chosen which one, I've figured out where to get it, I just need to find the money. Fortunately for me, rigid heddle looms aren't all that expensive. You can see my LYS's prices for my loom of choice right here. Even so, I can't justify the purchase just out of the blue. Nor does my LYS want a pile of my stuff in trade. I'll be heading out to the used book and clothing consignment shops tomorrow. Hopefully the proceeds from that adventure combined with my little destash sale will yield enough for that 32" Harp.

One offering has already been claimed via my Ravelry sale/trade page. Here are a few other choice items:















Claudia Handpainted Fingering, 2 skeins, Sharks colorway. $20













Colinette Jitterbug, 1 skein Fruit Coulis, $20
















Noro Hana Silk, 3 skeins, $32













Mountain Colors Weaver's Wool Quarters, 1 skein Steelhead, $15

The above prices all include first class shipping within the US. I'll mail to other countries but may need to charge additional shipping. There are several more things up for grabs on my Ravelry destash page (the STR is spoken for and just pending payment). Thanks for looking!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

jam

More time lately has been spent buried in piles of books than in knitting, but I wanted to pop in and say hello. I'm still putting a few rows in here and there on my sweaters and socks and other things, but nothing is getting finished very quickly unless it's a book. And even with books, I've started far more than I've finished in the last few weeks. Some reading has been for pleasure, some has been academic. I'm not prepared to write about any of it today, I'm just here to say hi and share some jam.



We have an Italian plum tree in our yard and millions of blackberries taking over our neighborhood. I happened to see the little boxes of fruit pectin on the store shelf when I was looking for sugar not long ago, and decided I needed to try making jam. All the recipes for freezer jam I found online used so much sugar I couldn't bring myself to try them. We usually buy fruit spreads with no sweeteners added, and I wanted to make something similar. So I bought the Ball brand No Sugar Needed pectin and decided to experiment. The recipes included in the box didn't have directions for plums or blackberries, so I decided to treat the blackberries like raspberries and the plums like peaches. To combine the two I had to sort of combine the recipes. It all worked out though, so I'll share what I did.

Blackberry Plum Freezer Jam

The following amounts made seven half-pint jars of freezer jam. The blackberries are so small and sour this year that I didn't end up with sugarless jam, but my recipe uses significantly less sugar than anything I found online (and no artificial sweeteners).

  • 3 cups prepared fruit - I used half blackberries and half plums, approximately
  • 1 3/4 cups unsweetened fruit juice - I used pomegranate cherry because Jamie drank all the apple juice and that's what was in the freezer
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice (because the box recipes said 1 Tbsp for peaches and none for raspberries, so I went with half)
  • 2 cups sugar, because my fruit was sour. With the no sugar needed pectin, you can choose 0 to 3 cups. Most traditional recipes use a 2:1 ratio of sugar to fruit; newer ones use 1:1. I wanted even less than that.
Prepare your fruit. I chopped the plums into fine pieces and squished them slightly with a potato masher to bring out the juice (Italian plums are dry). In a separate bowl, I mashed the blackberries and then stirred everything together. Dissolve the pectin in the fruit and lemon juices, then bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat, stirring frequently. When it comes to a full rolling boil, boil for one minute stirring constantly, then remove from heat. Immediately stir in the prepared fruit. Sprinkle in the sugar and stir to dissolve. Ladle into prepared jars, and put in the refrigerator to set. Once set, transfer to the freezer (within 24 hours). My jam set almost immediately, so the jars went into the freezer the same night - except for one, to eat right away.



It's hard to see the beautiful, clear purple in this photo. It was getting dark, but I wanted a picture before they went into the freezer. I tried the warm jam right away, and it's good! Even my husband, who has zero love for plums, thought it was "fine". Now I'm wondering what to do with the rest of the plums. And I'm also wondering whether apple butter can be frozen like jam. Anyone know?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

mosaic



This meme was floating around recently, and I forgot I had never posted my mosaic. I really loved how it turned out, so I'm sharing it now. Click through to Flickr for the photo credits. If you'd like to play too, here are the instructions:

* Type your answers to each of the questions below into Flickr Search
* Using only the first page, pick an image
* Copy and paste each of the URLs into the mosaic maker

Questions:

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What do you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One word to describe you.
12. Your Flickr name.

Other than number five, which is obvious, can you guess my answers?

Knitting is still slow around here, and still no photos of finished things. Soon. I've been reading a lot and enjoying the late summer season. The time from mid August through the end of October is my absolute favorite time of the year. Cooler weather, fresh tomatoes, dahlias, dewy mornings, early fall color changes, ripe blackberries, even the masses of orb-weaving spiders all remind me that autumn is coming.

Mina and I had a perfect farmer's market morning on Saturday. We bought sandwiches and sat on a bench to eat - heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, pesto, aioli and balsamic reduction on mine, fresh ground peanut butter and local jam on hers - and watched the bustle around us. An elderly woman with a Russian accent walked slowly over to tell Mina how beautiful she was. A group of four young men stood near us and began singing old love songs a cappella, harmonizing perfectly. A girl with a black dress, red cowboy boots, and an old fashioned bicycle talked to a guy with a top hat munching handfuls of arugula from a bag. An old man watched the singers, his face filling with nostalgia, happy and sad at the same time, and I started crying behind my sunglasses. Mina, always hyper-alert to my moods and thoughts, got upset and crawled into my lap just as the four singers got down on their knees to serenade a woman in a wheelchair holding a bouquet of dahlias and bells-of-Ireland. A group had gathered to hear the singing, everyone smiling, laughing, and filling the hat with five dollar bills. We wandered off to buy our vegetables and a bouquet of dahlias, my favorite flowers.

We typically go to the used bookstore after the market, but that day we stopped at Northwest Handspun instead, and I got all the information I needed to choose a loom. (Yes, a loom! I'm hoping, very very soon, to order a 32" Kromski Harp folding rigid heddle loom.) Sunday was another good day. We played in the pouring rain in our nightgowns in the morning, visited the bookstore in the afternoon, and had a late lunch sitting in the cafe with our new books. Around these things, I read a lot, knitted a little, and enjoyed feeling quiet. I hope your days have been nice, too.

Monday, August 18, 2008

catching up


Trying to jump back into regular life, both in the physical world and online, is always challenging after some time away. But, after a week of vacation, a lingering cold, and a much needed break from the computer, I'm working on it. I still have finished sweaters to photograph, and new projects to talk about. I started several new things just before my vacation, but worked on nothing while I was gone. I think I knit about four rounds of a sock.


On the beach at Grayland


Kite flying at Grayland

We spent a few days camping on the coast and exploring the Olympic Peninsula. There are so many amazing things to see within a few hours' drive from our home. I can't believe it took me this many years to make a visit to the peninsula, but now that I've done a quick tour I'm definitely planning to go back. We camped at Grayland Beach State Park, just south of Westport on Washington's Cranberry Coast, and then drove north up Highway 101, visiting Lake Quinault and Kalaloch and spending a night in Port Townsend. There are many more beaches I hope to visit, rainforests to explore, and so many other things to see.


Painting at Kalaloch

Several handknits were put to good use on the coast - I wore my Duchess Raglan (in the photo above) almost constantly, adding my alpaca Flower Petal Shawl in the evenings. Mina wore her Swing Thing in the cool mornings and evenings, and one of the skirts I made at the beginning of the summer (top two photos show the skirt).

Evening at the campsite

Before we left, I had been working on several sweaters and the long lacy gloves I started awhile ago. I made some good progress on Lily, from the new Twist Collective. This was my first experience with bobbles. At first they slowed me down quite a lot, but it got easier as I went along. I reworked the rate of the decreases and increases for the waist shaping to end up with a larger waist measurement than the 2XS size I'm knitting provides (24 inch waist?!?). It took me quite awhile to figure it out, and when I was finally done I remembered the Knitting Daily waist shaping calculator that would have saved me all that trouble. Oh well, it was good practice, I guess.


I'm using some RYC Cashsoft DK I had in my stash, and I think it's working out very nicely. I'm ready to start the second half of the shaping, which uses two lifted increases I've never tried before. Fortunately, Knotions has a tutorial on these so I should be fine. I have several other projects on the go and a few I'm itching to start, so there should be more to share soon. In the meantime I'll be trying to catch up on reading everyone's blogs, posting to the Chum, and all the usual activity of daily life. I'll be back soon.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

sweaters!

Still no photos of the finished sweaters to show you. Actually, Snow White hasn't even been blocked yet. I blame the weather. If it was cool enough to wear it, you bet it would have been blocked and on me as quickly as possible. It still doesn't feel like summer here, but 65 degrees is still too warm for this one. As for the camisole, I have no excuse other than lack of inspiration to do a photo shoot. I haven't been idle, however.


This is the pile of the currently most-active projects. The purple is Mina's sweater, the sock-looking thing is not a sock but a long, lacy fingerless glove, and the teal is one of my recent sweater obsessions, the Cowl Pullover from Knitting Nature. The yarn is Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk that I've had forever. I actually need to frog a failed sweater attempt and rescue the rest of the yarn. I think it is a fairly good match for this pattern, although I am nervous about the steeking part, even if it will be machine sewn.

Speaking of sweaters, I'm in the throes of my pre-fall sweater obsession, which this year seems to have come hand-in-hand with a Norah Gaughan obsession. I picked up Norah Gaughan Vol. 3 at the LYS on Sunday, and can't decide which of two sweaters to make first. I also re-discovered an Erika Knight book I bought about a year ago, and have a serious love for these sweaters (drat, I can't find a photo of the second one. Oh, wait, it's on the cover of the UK edition). And let's not even speak of the new fall magazines coming out. No, I'm not thinking about Riding to Avalon or the New Pea Coat. Of course, there is yarn in my stash for several completely different sweaters and none of it will work for the shiny new patterns. Of course. Any suggestions for faster knitting and ways to ignore all other responsibilities in order to knit are appreciated.

Friday, July 25, 2008

air atc's

My partners have finally received their ATC's for the Project Spectrum 3 Air swap, so I am safe to show these off now. I don't like to ruin surprises!


The method I used for my Earth atc's was so much fun and I liked the result so much that I wanted to do something similar. This time the embroidery pattern came from Stitchy Britches. I chose three birds from this border and traced them with a heat transfer pencil, then arranged them on my atc outline. I used the same cotton/linen fabric as last time. Although I loved the earth labels I made before, adding a label to these seemed too heavy for air, so I just went with a freehand swirl in silver thread. I also added tiny seed beads for the eyes, because I still haven't mastered the french knot.

Embroidery is very slow for me, each stitch much slower than knitting, and sometimes it is a welcome change of pace. The rhythm is different, the sound is different; it feels comforting, somehow, and I love to watch the design emerging at my fingertips. I have a few small projects ready to work on (kitchen things, mostly), but I am trying to come up with something larger and more unique.

Last night I finished my Snow White - all that is left is to graft the underarms and weave in the few ends that I didn't finish before my mandatory midnight bedtime. I had to try it on, of course, to assure myself that it fits. My yarn relaxes and stretches out after a good soak, and I had to remind myself of that because oof, is that sweater tight right now! Hopefully it will go into its water bath tonight and be camera ready by Sunday, which means that I have two sweaters to photograph this weekend! Time to choose which one to knit next.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

breaking radio silence

Hi there. It looks like I've been taking an unplanned blogging break, so I'm just popping in here to say hello. The blog has been quiet but life has not; I have plenty of things to share once I get some photos taken and edited. I've been doing lots of knitting, some embroidery, and even beading, along with the usual summer activities - farmer's market Saturdays, walks with the kiddo, family days at the park or taking drives, as well as plenty of relaxing.


This is a test knit for Sam of Knitquest. The Pacific Diamond scarf pattern should be available on her patterns page soon. The yarn I'm using is Socks That Shine merino/tencel blend from Some Assembly Required/Socks that Fit. I think it is perfect for lace - very subtly variegated, smooth, and shiny.

I've also finished my bamboo camisole. This is a horribly blurry picture, taken just after grafting the shoulder straps but before adding the picot edge to the neck and finishing.


I'll get some help with good photos hopefully over the coming weekend. The picot edge helps the neckline a lot, and blocking opened up the lace at the bottom. Bamboo stretches a lot though, and after a few hours of wear my cami is no longer fitted like it appears in this picture. It's now quite loose and flowing, which is still a good look. But it's a very, very good thing that I wore another camisole underneath it when I left the house on Sunday afternoon.

I've also started a sweater for Mina and picked up Snow White again. I attached the sleeves last night and began the shoulder shaping, so I should have a finished sweater soon. Hopefully very soon - I've become obsessed with patterns for several other sweaters and a skirt, but must finish a few things first!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

summertime

The long, slow summer days are here, which for me means more time spent doing summer things and a bit of a slowdown with crafting and blogging. Here's a little bit of what I've been up to, presented in fragments since that's how my mind works right now.

My first overnight trip without Mina - first time away from her at all other than to go to work. It was surprisingly easy for both of us.

My sister's 30th birthday bash (hence the overnight away) - I stayed up way too late and had way too much hefeweizen. The next morning, staggering down the street toward coffee, I saw one of the Ride the Duck vehicles, empty of tourists, go careening at high speed around a corner, driven by a guy in a pirate hat, sunglasses and crazy grin, blasting "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It" at maximum volume. I just stood there and stared, open-mouthed. Wow.

Trips to the farmer's market and lots of fresh veggies. Also, this week, handmade soap!

Summer food, which for me means lots of fruit and vegetables, yogurt, bread, sun tea, and nothing too heavy. Lots of Mediterranean-style food, and mostly vegan meals. There were garlic scapes at the market again this weekend. Last night's dinner was sauteed scapes, yellow zucchini, tomato, and peas with white beans. Perfect.

I've been embroidering. I can't show one project yet because the recipient would most likely see it here. The other project I'll show as soon as there is something to see. Hint - it has to do with the soap up above.

Slow knitting on the stockinette body of my bamboo camisole, while staying up way too late watching episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer online, a show I missed entirely when it was actually on TV. I rate it fairly high on the amusement scale now, though.

Reading The Living, by Annie Dillard, a book I've been meaning to read for many years, since it's a historical novel about the beginning of the white settlements that became the city I live in. Reading the descriptions of the land in this book, I can place where the characters must be standing and know what it looks like to see what they are seeing when they look out over the water toward the San Juans and the Olympic Mountains, or over the land toward Mount Baker. I try to imagine what it was like when my neighborhood was thick with 17-foot diameter douglas fir trees, so close together you had to turn sideways to walk between them.

Trips to local parks with Mina - exploring the mud flats at low tide, watching kids playing in the spray park or on the slides. Mina is too timid to join them. She is tall for her age, as big as the four-year-olds, but at two and a half isn't ready to run through the water or brave the slide like they do. I got concerned on Sunday when other girls, not realizing Mina was younger, made fun of her for being scared. She does enjoy her "splash pool" though, and sat through her first movie in a theater with her Dada yesterday.

Late nights and early mornings - the days are so long! The light creeps through the blinds around 4:30 a.m. and doesn't fade until after 10:30 p.m. I always forget how far north I live. Until reading The Living, where this is mentioned, I didn't realize that we are farther north than Nova Scotia and most of Ontario, which is counterintuitive, since the border with British Columbia is north of here, though not by much.

Hopefully there will be something craft-related to share in a few days. Until then, I'll keep moving slowly and enjoying the season.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

an introduction

It seems a little funny to be putting an introduction here, two years into my blog, but also kind of nice, since I know there are actually people out there reading now. Besides, this is Project #1 for the Farmgirl Hencircle, which I'm pretty excited about. So here we go.

First of all, what is a farmgirl? Eliza has answered that very well right here, so I'll refer you there. And why do I want to nourish my inner farmgirl? To me, the idea of the "farmgirl" brings together a lot of things I've been thinking about lately as I try to create the sort of life I want to live and share with my family. Back when I started this blog, I wrote about my purpose and hopes for it, and that short description is still 100% true today:

What is Everyday Autumn?

Every year in the fall I get energized. I want to make things, write things, cook, and bake. I start lighting candles and brewing tea. I have a million new ideas. I research, plan, scheme, and do. I learn new crafts and skills. But why just in the autumn? I want to bring more of my autumn self into my life every day, and here is where I will share it all.


And who am I? I'm Megan. I live in Northwest Washington, in a place where land meets water, where the natural boundaries of mountains, ocean, and streams divide the land, and an arbitrary political boundary divides countries. I haven't always lived here. I grew up in North Idaho, in a family full of sisters, on a small plot of land in a small town. I was a 4-H kid, always working on projects in sewing, cooking, sheep raising, spinning, quilting, cross stitch, photography, and anything else that caught my interest. Our family had a huge vegetable garden and small orchard. I can remember bountiful summer days when we sat down to dinner and realized that everything on our table was the product of our own gardening or gathering. It wasn't always like that, but the memories are good.

I went away to college, here, and spent a lot of time in my 20's trying to hide my Idaho roots and show how urban and sophisticated I really was. My craftiness was limited to making Halloween costumes, theme party decorations, a small backyard garden, and my journal. At the same time, I was majoring in environmental studies and literature, so I spent a lot of time thinking about global sustainability and individual expression and trying to work out ways to combine what felt like disparate things into one identity and purpose.

In late 2001, feeling angry and disillusioned with the world, I did two things. Well, three. After reading every fantasy novel in my house during September and October, I taught myself to crochet and I started transforming my written diaries into art journals. The crochet didn't stick, but the art journals did, for several years. Then in January 2005, I learned to knit. Knitting has since become my primary craft love and obsession. However, I also sew, embroider, crochet, and do a little paper art and bookbinding now and then.

Since moving back to Bellingham (for the third time) four years ago, I've come to a clearer realization of how I want to live my life and especially what I want to share with my daughter. I identified the following list in my journal several months ago, as sort of a culmination of what I've been thinking about over the last few years. It just so happens that my list fits very nicely with the philosophy of the Farmgirl.

  • sustainability, green living
  • creativity, art, craft, the handmade
  • good food - vegetarian, organic, whole, local
  • community - supporting local businesses, making connections
  • family
  • learning
So, there it is. Why I want to be a farmgirl. I'm excited to meet the rest of you and see what kinds of amazing things we'll do.

Summer days just fly by, don't they? We've finally had warm weather here, so much time has been spent relaxing on the back porch, taking walks, and trying to keep the house cool. We're fortunate to almost always have a cool breeze blowing in off the bay, so aside from high humidity and allergies that come along with it, I don't mind summer heat one bit.

My camisole obsession hasn't abated. I wanted another cool fiber to knit when my hands are hot and another cute summer top to wear. I've had two balls of SWTC Bamboo in my stash for a couple of years, originally purchased for the Lotus Camisole from Spring 2006 Interweave Knits. I couldn't get gauge for that project and decided I didn't like the shoulders so much after all, so the yarn sat and sat. Just this weekend I realized that it should work for the Silk Camisole pattern in Last Minute Knitted Gifts, a book I've had for even longer than the yarn. Both of them just sitting there for years, and I never put two and two together.


This is the old version of SWTC Bamboo, the chain construction, slightly scratchy kind. I like how it's knitting up though, and I think once blocked it will show the vine lace at the hem beautifully. The color is a bit warmer, more plum, than it appears on this monitor (funny, because it looked accurate on my laptop). It is actually a near-perfect match for this:


This is the wonderful swap package I received yesterday in the Veg*n Summer Swap, through the Veg*n Craft*n group on Ravelry. My swap pal Celeste/anotherveganknit did an awesome job of putting together a package that is just perfect for me! There was some confusion and Celeste thought she was supposed to send to someone else. I was worried because no secret pal had contacted me. It all got straightened out at the end though, and my pal couldn't have done a better job, even if we had been emailing back and forth all month. The yarn is Hemp for Knitting Allhemp6, something I've been wanting to try for a long time, and the color is one of my favorites, almost exactly the same as the bamboo I'm knitting with right now. The cute zipper bag says "veggies are dope" and has a Cowhugger Clothing Company button attached. The pewter peacock is a necklace on a long chain (I'm wearing it today!), and the book is a blank journal with a tea leaf reading theme. There's also a canister of mango ginger iced tea, the kind in silk pouches. Yum. Thank you so much, Celeste!

Other than slow knitting on my bamboo camisole and time in the sun, I've been spending way too much time on Plurk. It's fun and addictive - I love keeping up with what my knitting pals are doing all day and participating in the conversations that are always going on. I don't have a real life stitch and bitch, or even a group of friends in my town, so this is the next best thing. I'll be back later today (hopefully) with my farmgirl introduction post for the Plurkette Hencircle, one of the best things that's happened through Plurk (or anywhere else) so far. Go visit the link if you want to know what the heck I'm talking about - it's pretty cool. And if you want to look me up on Plurk, please do! My username is the same as my blog and Ravelry name. I'd love to chat.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

goodness, of the yarn and food varieties

Finishing my camisole on Sunday relieved some of the pressure I was feeling when looking at the WIP pile. (Why do I let knitting get stressful? That's so silly.) But, it also gave me some kind of strange cami fever, and I've been hunting out new patterns. I have two balls of SWTC Bamboo that want to be something other than the Lotus Camisole I bought them for a couple of years ago. The pattern I most want to make right now, though, needs about 100 yards more than I have. Always a knitting dilemma of some kind.

I have worked on each of the remaining WIPs, but I'm feeling the lure of new projects, too. This, especially, is calling my name.


A single skein of lovely handspun BFL from Spincycle Yarns, fresh from my local farmer's market. I could only buy one skein, and it's so lovely and soft I'm thinking it needs to be a cowl or neckwarmer of some kind. It's worsted weight, 120 yards, and I sort of want a button and maybe a little ruffle. Ideas?

The other green stuff in the photo is a bunch of garlic scapes. I only learned about scapes recently, and when I spotted them at the market on Saturday I grabbed one of the few available bunches. I knew there was a recipe in my favorite cookbook, I just couldn't remember what it was. Turns out it was Garlic Scape Soup, and it was delicious. It's basically vichyssoise, but with scapes and spinach rather than leeks. Garlic scapes have a definite garlic aroma and flavor, but in a green way, if that makes sense. If there are more at the market this week, I'm going to try the pesto in the blog I linked above.

I also made these chocolate-chocolate chip banana muffins on Saturday - so good! (Although my family is obviously crazy and won't eat them.) The only changes I made were to use whole wheat pastry flour instead of refined white flour, and egg replacer because I was out of eggs. I also had to add a tablespoon or two of milk to get it all to mix - I guess my bananas were on the small side. These came out moist and so chocolatey, but sank rather dramatically in the centers.

Then on Sunday, Mina and I made pancakes, of course. Have I mentioned the pancake obsession? Mina loves them. Really, really loves them. Rather than making the same boring pancakes over and over, or refusing to make them at all, I've taken it as a challenge and opportunity to make the most interesting and nutritious pancakes possible. Mina is happy that she gets pancakes, and I'm happy knowing that I'm filling her up with a variety of whole grains, fruits, and even vegetables. I think up new recipes all the time. This one turned out so good, I'll share. It's not quite as nutrition-packed as some, but it makes a big batch of fluffy, delicious pancakes.

Cinnamon Graham Pancakes

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup graham flour (or coarsely ground whole wheat flour)
1/2 cup oat flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon, or more to taste
1/2 tsp salt

3 Tbsp melted butter
3 eggs, or equivalent egg replacer
2 cups dairy or soy milk
1 tsp vanilla

In a large bowl, whisk the dry ingredients until well mixed. (Mina usually does this part!) Make sure the brown sugar gets broken up well. In a smaller bowl, beat the eggs or replacer until foamy. I used egg replacer, and these pancakes came out lighter and fluffier than I typically get when I use real eggs. Add the rest of the wet ingredients to the eggs and whisk until just blended - don't let all the little bubbles pop! Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir until combined. Not too much. Cook over medium heat on a non-stick griddle, or by your usual pancake cooking method. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

summer hopeful

Another solstice, and another season begins. Although it still doesn't feel like summer here, I'm holding out hope that the weather will change soon (and refusing to look at the depressing forecasts). Yesterday it was warm, oppressively cloudy and humid. Today was the opposite - bright, clear, cool and windy. I've only lately come to realize how much the weather affects my energy and mood. As the day grew darker yesterday and the air felt heavier, I developed a migraine. Oh well. It didn't ruin the weekend. Not by far. A trip to the farmer's market for fresh veggies and fresh yarn, finishing a project, lots of cooking and baking, an afternoon at the park at low tide, and a quiet evening with the tired-out kiddo already asleep on the couch next to me - it's been good.

Yes, I did finish a project! My lace camisole is off the needles and on me. As soon as the ends were woven in I tried it on, and I haven't taken it off yet. It needs blocking, but I don't care. I like it.


This is the Lace Nightie by Carrie Bostick Hoge from last spring's Interweave Knits (Ravelry link or pattern PDF). I used about 3.5 balls of Paton's Grace in taupe on size 2.5 needles (yes, I knit loosely!). I made the smallest size and added a couple of inches in length so it would reach to the low hip. The pattern only gives three size options - 29, 37, and 45 inches. Although it says this is the bust measurement, because the cami has a very low back this corresponds more closely to the underbust measurement. I didn't realize this when I began, or I probably would have done something to size it down slightly. You need a bit of negative ease to keep the back from sagging down, and the smallest size gives me one inch of positive ease at the underbust. You can see how the back rolls down in the photo.


I had adjusted it just prior to having the photos taken, so it's not too bad here, but you can still see a bit of sag. You can also see most of the 62 inches of i-cord that make up the straps - the front straps are 11 inches and the back ones are 20. I-cord drives me crazy, but it wasn't nearly as bad as I expected. I'm pleased with how it turned out, even with the gaping at the back, and I know I'll actually wear this. This is the first garment I've made in a color (or, well, non-color) I really wear.


Jamie took these photos for me today at a park about a mile from our house. I never check the tide table before we go, so today we were surprised with a much lower than usual low tide. Where I am standing in these pictures is usually several feet under water, even when the tide is out. It was weird to be able to stand under the boardwalk, and Jamie got some good shots of the barnacle covered pilings (I'll link that as soon as he gets it on Flickr) here. It was also very windy, even for here, and the park was full of kite fliers.


These were just a few of them. Mina looks like she's not having a very good time in this picture. I think it was just because of the bright sun. She was a little timid about standing on this rock (about two feet off the ground, with a perfectly flat top) but she got over it. The funny skirt she's wearing is one that I made recently from a bit of cotton gauze left from Jamie's Captain Jack Sparrow costume from Halloween 2002 (I think it was the headscarf, or what was left after we made the headscarf). Just two seams, a hem, and an elastic waist - nothing to it. It's nice and twirly for dancing, though.

Tomorrow or sometime this week I'll show you my new yummy yarn and share my weekend cooking - it was a particularly good weekend for that, I guess. I'm feeling sleepy and maybe slightly sunburned, and this post is long enough. Happy Summer!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

choices

At least I can never, ever say that I am bored.



Apparently my inspiration basket did its job. Two more projects somehow added themselves to my current interest pile, bringing that total up to five. Maybe I can blame the cold weather we still have. Thigh high, bulky alpaca legwarmers and opera length lace gloves both seemed like really good ideas last week when I started them. Now I'm having trouble choosing what to work on. In addition to those projects, that is also Snow White's first sleeve and the cotton lace cami in the photo there. My lace ribbon scarf was hiding in my bag and didn't make it to the photo shoot. It would have fit in with the pale palette well, though.

I've been fitting in bits of knitting here and there between everything else going on lately. The weekend spent in Seattle for my sister's graduation, the summer phase of my job, shake ups at my husband's place of employment, house guests, allergies, and the usual business of life. I've been tired and evidently a bit out of it. It took me until noon today before I realized that while I had managed to leave the house with a ring on each of the usual fingers, neither of them were my wedding ring. Little things like that keep happening. Hopefully I can keep some kind of focus long enough to actually finish some projects before starting any more new ones.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

yellow


For the last two phases of Project Spectrum 3, I've gone through my art supplies and pulled out everything that fell within the color triad. I keep the supplies in jars and bowls at my artmaking end of the kitchen counter, just sitting there for inspiration. I didn't do that with air. I knew there wouldn't be much to gather besides white paper and gray graphite pencils. The only yellows I have came in sets, like the watercolors above. I started doodling with the waterbrush a couple of nights ago, just to see what it was like to purposely choose to use yellow.

Yellow has always been my least favorite color. Or maybe orange is. I'm not sure. While the warmth of yellow (amber) and orange (citrus) scents are among my favorites, I'd rather not look at the colors too much. The house we are living in now has some yellow and orange walls, carefully planned and painted by the owner, who lived here before she rented it to us. Still in love with her first house, she asked us not to repaint for the first year. I learned to live with the colors, and in the winter to kind of like them. Going into our third year here and given the go-ahead to repaint if we wish, I'm having trouble choosing new colors.

Two knitting patterns I have been looking at recently were knit in earthy yellow ochre colors by the designers, and I'm having trouble choosing alternative colors for myself. They both seem perfect as they are!


On the left is Hew, by Canary Sanctuary, and on the right is Chrysalis, by Melinda Hunt for Sanguine Gryphon. Two more projects to contemplate and add to my long queue! I never thought I'd actually want to buy yellow yarn, but these make me want to.

I'm still working on Snow White and the lace camisole, slowly but surely. I have an event I'd like the cami finished for, so I do have a self-imposed deadline. We'll see - if you've read here much you probably realize that I'm not very good at focusing on one thing for long. There are just SO MANY things I want to do!

Monday, June 09, 2008

airing

The other day I wrote how I wasn't ready to move on to the Air phase of Project Spectrum 3. Yesterday, though, I was suddenly compelled to completely clean and rearrange the living room. At our house, the living room is really for living - we have a very small space, and out of necessity do everything in that room. Books, laptops, stash, movies, toys - it's all in one small space. It's much nicer now, airier, I guess, and more useful. This project took me most of the day, and in the process I decided to "air out" and reorganize the stash, including switching the yarn in the inspiration basket from earth to air.



I have a lot of possibilities here, and this doesn't even include the various smoky gray/purple yarn or the Snow White sweater and Lace Ribbon scarf already in progress. My knitting baskets and tools moved to a different corner of the room, and their new arrangement makes them seem almost decorative.

Inspired by all gray and white (and with sore hands from knitting with cotton) I did some work on Snow White last night. I had finished the main body knitting when I set it aside, so last night I worked on the first sleeve while watching Frida. It's still so cold here that if I finished it within the next week or so I'd probably still be able to wear it. I know me and sleeves though (we aren't friends), so I'm not counting on it. But, I'll have a lovely new sweater ready for fall.

I also finished my cowl, but there are a couple of issues. One, it's a bit bigger than I wanted, and two, I can't photograph it clearly to save my life.



Here it is laid out flat. The color is not accurate. This is Colinette Jitterbug in Castagna, which is a gorgeous, rich mix of chestnut, plum, olive, ivory, and smoky pale mauve. (At least my skein is. They vary). You can sort of see the pattern in this, but overall I think the colorway has too much going on for the lace. It is better in person though.



Here it is on me, hanging down more in the front than I wanted, even after careful arrangement in back. It's still wearable though, and I did wear it around on Saturday. I found a way to fold it over in the front that brings it up around my neck the way I wanted. The color is a little closer in this one, but dark. I might try blocking it more severely. I gave it the very lightest of steam blocks, because this lace is very stretchy and I could tell a hard block would make it grow a lot. But, I'm wondering now if a good blocking would stretch it enough that I could twist it double and wear it closer to my neck. I haven't decided yet. I may also knit it again in a tweed - I've got a lone ball of Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool in that basket of yarn you see above, and I also have a failed neckwarmer in Rowan Felted Tweed that needs to be frogged and repurposed. We'll see.

I have more house organizing/airing planned for the week, more knitting on my in-progress sweaters, and who knows what else. I'm sort of a go with the flow kind of girl.