Thursday, December 30, 2010

Commitment 2011

I don't like New Year resolutions.  Last year I ran across someone that suggested that we set intentions or a theme for the coming year.  My husband and I set down the intention to be more adventurous with traveling.  Despite grad school, the death of my father and a whole lot of upheaval, we did it.  We took big trips - San Francisco and Arizona, and we took a lot of little day trips, unexpected road trips and enjoyed ourselves.  I also brushed off my crochet skills and worked a lot on it.  Then fulfilled a many year longing to learn to knit.  Oh boy did I!  Most of my holiday projects were knit!  Knitting has added so much to my life.

It looks as if 2011 is going to be adventurous as well.  In 2011, my husband will graduate and he is currently in the middle of a job search.  His job search is broad - we can and are willing to move anywhere.  So we are likely to have to pack up, sell our place and venture off.  It is thrilling and a little mind boggling as well.  Because of a possible move, our garden plans for 2011 are not forthcoming.  Perhaps a potted tomato and some lettuce, but nothing in the ground that isn't already there or volunteers (tomatoes I'm looking at you).  Hopefully in 2012 I can do a garden in a big proper way and chickens too.

Here is my personal intentions/commitments for myself.  What do you plan to do?

2011 Intentions
  • Knit socks.  I tried my hand this year and worked one almost to completion.  I don't like the yarn and I've made a few errors in switching from one person's pattern to a recipe (thanks Yarn Harlot - so much easier first time out of the gate).  I plan to photograph my toeless sock and then frog it.  I can use the yarn for a scarf, hat, etc.  This will be my year of socks.
  • Complete the Loopy Ewe's First Quarter Challenge 2011.  I've started cabled socks.  If they don't work out I have back up projects.
  • Knit a sweater
  • Knit something Fair Isle - what is Fair Isle - feast your eyes here
  • Do a project with mitered squares - what the heck is a mitered square?
  • Clean, sort and GET RID of crap in basement, closets, etc.  We we're gonna move it has to be done, but even so I've feeling the need to go minimal.
  • Continue to expand our network of healthy, supportive, awesome friends
  • Begin writing down every book I read in the coming year.  I used to do this, but fell out of the habit.
  • Find something I really love to do vocation wise (where we end up will have its effects) - find a job I love, go back to school, develop a serious business or a business plan based one what I already do
  • Walk the dogs at least four times a week.  More is better, but I have to start somewhere.
  • Take a photography class
  • Take time at least three times a week to work both dogs.  Both old and young dog love it.  Old needs it for stimulation and the young needs it for energy output.
  • Be more conscious of spending time with Trinket (more on her in another post)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Merry Knitting!

Happy Christmas and a few more day after.  I've slid into a holiday slump.  Yesterday it felt like my head was still full of wine.  I swear I only had half a glass for Christmas dinner.  I did manage to cast on and begin my first project post Wollmeise shawl.  I'm knitting a Claudia hat for myself.  I'm making mine out of My Family yarn which I've had in my stash for a time.  Casted on 108 stitches and using size 8 needles (pattern calls for smaller needles).    I've also casted on for the One Row Lace Scarf for my niece in beautiful Mini Mochi left over from a crochet project.  It is such a simple pleasant knit.  I'll save the bulk of it for an upcoming car and conference trip.

I've been trying to be very conscious about my knitting.  Use only yarn from my stash and put off projects that call for needles I don't have.  Since we are living on poor grad student and in between job money we are being extra careful with finances.  Plus soon we are taking a road trip so I'm scrimping everything to save for some souvenir yarn.  I love going places and picking up yarn were I go.  I'm planning on solving my needle lackage once and perhaps not for all by picking up Addi's Lace Click needle set in the coming months as well.

Sheri from the Loopy Ewe has announced the First Quarter Challenge of 2011.  The challenge is to push yourself and work a project with cables from yarn available at the Loopy Ewe.  I have two such yarns in my stash - Dream in Color Baby in Cloud Jungle and Cascade Heritage Sock yarn in spruce.  So far I have a few patterns in mind - gloves, scarf or fingerless mitts.  Decisions Decisions.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Shawl

Butterfly Bush Shawl by Joyce Fassbender
Link: Ravelry
Yarn: Wollmeise 100% Superwash, Blaue Tinte

Pattern Modifications:
Chart A - one time 
Chart B - Four times (as directed for shawlette) 
Chart C - Four times (directed for two for a shawlette size) 
Charts D & E - one time

I wanted to photograph this shawl in the butterfly dome of our local zoo.  Well it was closed for the day so I hat to settle for the mural outside of it.  That is a lot of butterflies in that picture.
VERY enjoyable knit. I learned a lot and I’m just so in love with the color.  I enjoyed working with Wollmeise, but the best part about this yarn is wearing it.  Soft, sumptuous and eye catching.  One can't help but feel pretty in this shawl.  Happy knitter!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Butterfly Bush Shawl

Remember that shawl I started back in October?  The one with the Wollmeise yarn? Remember it here, here and here

Internet - it is finished.  It is having a relaxing bath now then off for blocking.  Pictures and reflections soon.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

December projects

It showed for the first significant time here today.  I took the day to do a bit of nesting and cooking.  I made breakfast, lunch and dinner will soon be underway.  I fired up the trusty bread maker too. We have a beautiful loaf of rye bread cooling right now.

For lunch I was hankering for vegetable soup with the thought of attacking some of the stores in the freezer.  Here is what I came up with - please keep in mind that I didn't measure quantities - I let my taste by my guide.

Snow Day Vegetable Soup

one small onion
two stalks of celery
two cloves of garlic
one carton of vegetable stock
two carrots - peeled and chopped
10 or so cherry tomatoes - (ours were frozen right out of the garden) I added them still frozen and let them cook down. Canned tomatoes may also be used
one can cream of mushroom soup
red wine
Herbs: basil, oregano, parsley
Frozen green beans and peas
one cup uncooked pasta

Saute onions and celery in olive oil.  When the onions became translucent add garlic.

Add in stock with one cup of water (or so), carrots, tomatoes, cream of mushroom soup, splash of red wine, basil, oregano, parsley, salt & pepper to taste.  Simmer letting the tomatoes cook down and fall apart.  Add in frozen vegetables and bring to a light boil.  Add in pasta and cook until done.  Turn down heat and serve

This improvised soup can take whatever veggies you throw at it.  I wanted to use up some partial bags of frozen to help clear the freezer.

I finished a sewing project yesterday.  I finally tackled making a needle roll case for my set of double pointed knitting needles (DPN).  I found a set on Amazon for $19.99 and jumped at them.  US sizes 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 10.5, 11, 13, 15 were included in the set.  I was concerned about the quality, but I'm currently using the 7s to make fingerless gloves and they are wonderful - smooth strong and just the right amount of pointiness.  I already had sizes 1.5, 5, and 8.  So I made myself a needle case to contain all my tools and labeled them.

I saw cases online that I liked, but I don't really want to spend $42 right now.  Etsy has some really nice ones as well.  I considered many designs, didn't work from a pattern and improvised while I went.  What I ended up was this:  A long thick roll that holds all DPNs, labeled pockets with a permanent fabric marker.  I also inserted some extra pockets here and there for extra storage.  The fabric was found in the remnant bin at the fabric store, ribbon form my stash, and lined with quilt batting for more protection to my tools.

Next up a case for my circular needles.

Update: Holiday Knit List

Holiday knitting is drawing to a close and I can now share pictures of gifts.  The majority of my gifts have been delivered.

Holiday Knit List

  1. Crochet spiral scarf - finished
  2. Crochet round star ornaments (4) - finished
  3. Crochet mohair scar - finished
  4. Winter Flame Scarf - finished
  5. Crocheted Scarf - finished
  6. Broken Spiral Rib hat- finished
  7. Stuffed Dog ornament - out of my first handspun yarn - finished
  8. Child's pink cabled hat - finished
  9. Woman's cabled hat - finished
  10. Cowl (new add on) - will gift her with beads instead
  11. Gift for mother in law? (new add on) - Alternative selected
  12. Hat for husband - he knows about this one, as he picked the pattern. - on the needles now
  13. Crochet dove ornament for gift for hostess - making a shawl pin instead
  14. Five stuffed bears (if I have time) - looks like these will come when they can

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A REAL Knitter

So I completed my first project with cables today.  There is something about knitting an item with ribbing and cables that just made me feel like I've arrived.  I feel like a real knitter Knitter.  I can't think of anything more representative in knitting than the combo of ribbing and cables.  They are everywhere, but most people only get to experience them in factory made knitwear.

Holiday knits are being completed almost daily!  However, I'm also adding to the to be knit list almost as frequently.  Will I ever complete my Wollmeise shawl or socks?!  Perhaps they will be the perfect thing to work on when Christmas day arrives.

I wish I could show pictures of completed gifts, but that will have to wait.  I never know who is reading this blog so I want to keep the secret.

Holiday Knit List

  1. Crochet spiral scarf - finished
  2. Crochet round star ornaments (4) - finished
  3. Crochet mohair scar - finished
  4. Winter Flame Scarf - finished
  5. Crocheted Scarf - finished
  6. Broken Spiral Rib hat- finished
  7. Stuffed Dog ornament - out of my first handspun yarn - finished
  8. Child's pink cabled hat - finished
  9. Woman's cabled hat
  10. Cowl (new add on)
  11. Gift for mother in law? (new add on)
  12. Hat for husband - he knows about this one, as he picked the pattern.
  13. Crochet dove ornament for gift for hostess
  14. Five stuffed bears (if I have time)

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Great Holiday Knit Off

With times being lean, a banked up stash, and my knitting prowess growing - handmade gifts are the way to go this year.  I've been working with a vengeance since the beginning of November (some where finished months ago) on projects and instead of shrinking my list - it keeps growing.

  1. Crochet spiral scarf - finished
  2. Crochet round star ornaments (4) - finished
  3. Crochet mohair scar - finished
  4. Winter Flame Scarf - finished
  5. Crocheted Scarf - finished
  6. Broken Spiral Rib hat- finished
  7. Stuffed Dog ornament - in progress out of my first handspun yarn
  8. Child's pink cabled hat
  9. Woman's cabled hat
  10. Hat for husband - he knows about this one, as he picked the pattern.
  11. Crochet dove ornament for gift for hostess
  12. Five stuffed bears (if I have time)
I'm enjoying making each item.  I find that while I'm working each one, I'm thinking about the intended person.  During the whole black Friday crazy parade - I was at home knitting, watching movies and enjoying family time.  Handmade holidays - it is a good thing (sorry Martha).

Sunday, November 21, 2010

With My Own Two Hands

I finished my first handspun skein of yarn today.  Roughly 30 yards (1 ounce of Blue Faced Leicester).  I cannot say how satisfying it was to make this yarn by hand.  Relaxing, creative and full of learning.

A friend shared this song with me today and I will pass on it's loveliness as well.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

On the needles...

So the Butterfly and I have a trial separation.  I made a few minor/major errors - thank goodness for lifelines.  I have some holiday presents that I really need to get to - a scarf and a hat for friends.  So I've put Butterfly into stasis for the time being.  I have some decisions to make regarding this shawl.  I'm afraid if I follow the shawlette instructions my shawl will be too small.  But.  I don't want to run out of yarn.  So far I have two repeats of the butterfly row and I'm planning on doing one - perhaps two more before working into chart c and d to finish it out.  So I'm thinking I'll be bold - solider on ahead securing a lifeline in case I need to rip back and reknit with out a repeat or two of the butterfly rows.  We'll see.  The picture is how she looked when we last knitted together.

On the needles now is a gorgeous scarf - Winter Flame it is a free pattern from Knit Picks.  I'm using Malabrigo Yarn Sock in Boticelli Red.  This is the first time I've used this yarn.  I adore it.  Soft, deep color and great stitch definition.

This is the first of my holiday knitting.  It doesn't look like much right now, but wait for the finishing and blocking.  This scarf is just stunning.

This past Saturday a LYS (local yarn shop) had it's annual sale.  I'm on a yarn diet, but I did pick up two skeins of a basic yarn for some other projects and a pair of Puppy Snips.  What are Puppy Snips?  Why, they are the most adorably perfect pair of scissors!  Small - they fit in my large compartment of my knitting accessories box.  The puppy head fits over the snips and keep them safe and sound.  What a good idea!

Well - back to knitting!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday: Wish List and a Garden Update

Ever since I saw someone using a drop spindle to spin yarn....I've been coveting getting into spinning.  It seems like such a "me" thing to do.  Plunging in and getting a wheel is a little unrealistic right now.  I do so want one some day soonish - perhaps this one or this one.  Until then, I'll practice on my soon to arrive drop spindle.  Drop spindles are found in many cultures and are very inexpensive.  What is a drop spindle you ask, see here.

It has been a long time since I've posted a garden update.  How does a neglected garden grow?
Apparently, pretty well.

These were all harvested within the last few days.  The small cherry tomatoes are from a volunteer plant that has taken off within the last month.  Did you read that right - a VOLUNTEER that I didn't plant.  The best producing plant is one that I didn't have anything to do with - other than letting it grow and then staking it.  Oh well.  They are delicious.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Behold Kürbis

Wollmeise.  Yeah.  I understand now.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Wollmeise Shawl Watch

10/24 - back to work. I finished chart A on Friday and then froze. I was unsure how to read chart B once I got to the repeat. I looked at it and looked at it. I emailed the designer - super nice lady to answer my baby beginner questions.
I’m so in love with this shawl. I have already informed Mister that once it is finished I’m never taking it off.
Working tonight on the second round of Chart B.


Yesterday was the harvest festival for the local market.  The day started off very eventful.  After parking, I heard a woman scream, "Stop that dog!"  I saw someone running and a cheerful terrier sprinting away.  I wondered if I could get him and changed my path to converge with the dog.  He was by this time slowing up a bit to take in the wonderful park smells.  Then he turned, looked at me and I made myself really exciting and interesting.  I play bowed at him, crouched down and asked him to come to me.  He leaped into my arms, wiggling, kissing, and very excited.  As soon as he realized that I had no intention of letting him free again he squeaked in protest - CRAP!  Game over!  The poor woman now caught up with us and I returned him to her.

It was then onto the market.  I visited Dyeabolical's booth.  Earlier in the yearn I had gone and picked up this lovely yarn.....

and made this lovely shawl:

I get more compliments on this shawl.  People just love the color.   Yesterday I picked up two skeins of yarn.
 Butternut Squish Strong Arm Sock Yarn
Merino Silk Lace yarn

The lace yarn was cast on to be a lace knit scarf yesterday.  I'm starting with an easy pattern - something that I can learn new stitches with but be able to watch TV while doing.  The Butternut yarn is giving me the eye and suggesting that it might be time for me to learn to knit socks.  I just love the color and the colorway name.  Perhaps my yarn is correct - perhaps I should learn to knit socks.  Bossy yarn.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Yarn Diets and Binges

Okay, I broke my self imposed yarn diet.

Alpacas d'Auxvasse had a booth today at a local mall.  I went and came away with two skeins.

Alpaca Sock Yarn - new for Alpacas d'Auxvasse
Blend of alpaca, merino, nylon and bamboo.

100% Suri Alpaca - dreamy color don't you think?

I also purchased another skein of Wollmeise from a Raverler who was destashing.  It is a beautiful color - I'll show you when it gets here.

Tomorrow - is the last crafting day at the farmers' market.  I'm heading down to visit a favorite local spinner and dyer of yarn.  We'll see what comes home tomorrow.   The I promise myself - no more yarn.......for a while at least.

Wollmeise - Part Two

So yesterday I finally did it.  I made a decision and cast on the Wollmeise for a shawl.  I finally choose the Butterfly Bush Shawl.  I wanted to do a lace project and this one seems a nice beginning lace shawl.  I'm also a sucker for butterflies - especially since I'm in a period of transition as well.

Internet, I'm in love with it.  I love the blue of the yarn.  I love that I have loops of dark blue, medium blue AND light blue on my needle at the sametime.  Wollmeise might not cause me dramatics, but wow it is pretty.

So far this shawl has taught me new things.  How to insert a lifeline and I've learned new stitches: ssk, s1,k2tog, psso.  Neat!  It is fun to see the pattern slowly emerging.

Knitting: A Journey

So weeks ago when I first began to knit I can honestly say for a about a day - I hated it.  Just hated it.  I was convinced that I would always be a crocheter and never a knitter.  All the while I kept at it.  I kept knitting.  Then I began to love knitting and then hate crocheting.  Now, I'm more balanced.  I love both.  I honor both of my skills.  Now if you want to offer me some yarn to learn which one I love more, we might be able to talk about that confession.

With the acquistion of a new skill, I've been to many local branches of our public library in search of reading materaial.  I've found a few gems that I'll share.  The first is Knitting Rules! by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.  The Second is Yarn Harlot also by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.  Both books are humorous accounts of knitting.  The first is a little more about knitting itself and help bring me through my initial dislike of the skill.  The second are essays about knitting and knitters.

I'm almost finished with  Yarn Harlot (note my clever bookmark - a ball band from yarn).  She has a follow up book  Free-range Knitter that I'll look for soon.

So I've done some rearranging in my purse to accommodate my projects.  I went to the container store last week and found a nifty little pill box with three compartments - one large and two small.  So now I have a new needle and stitch marker box.  For $0.99!

So it is official, I now have pattern binders for crochet and for knitting.  I'm slowly accumulating knit patterns and trying to determine my next big project.  Do I go with the Wollmeise project or should I do a scrap shawl project to use up some of my remaining sock yarn pieces?

I've finished a bit of projects.

Mister's hat:


My first knit shawl:

Another easy hat:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


It came.  Now what should I make with it?

Shawl patterns that I am considering:
Sorbet Shawl 
Lucky Clover - may be outside of my abilities right now.
Summer Stroll Shawl
It's Good to Be a Girl
Butterfly Bush Shawl

Help me make a decision!


Monday, October 11, 2010

Playing Hard to Get

Wollmeise.  That word can cause websites to meltdown, whip knitters into a frenzy, and a lot of bad behavior.  I first heard of it shopping on of my favorite stores/e-retailers, The Loopy Ewe.  I learned that they have to release it into the market slowly, a little bit at a time, and no one knows when it will go up on the shopping site.  People will stalk the site - waiting.  When it hits the yarn goes fast - very fast - like minutes people.  The Loopy Ewe announces when the yarn hits with Facebook.  Then there is the flood of comments - scored some!  Whoohoo I got five skeins!  Dang - missed it again!

I've been online at such times - I go, I look, I dither about color and then suddenly there isn't a choice anymore.  Do I need more yarn.  No, really not.  I have lots of beautiful yarn.  I've never even seen Wollmeise in person.  Never touched it.  I'm curious about the stuff though.  Why does it drive so many people crazy.  Why do they fight over it?  One of the features that I'm not fond of on The Loopy Ewe is that products can be removed from your cart while you are in the shopping site or even in check out.  If someone is faster than you - your yarn is gone.  Eewww.  I understand that they can't hold merchandise for ever in limbo, but ewww.  I've never had this happen to me, but I've read the stories online.  

So how can you get your hands on Wollmeise if you are unwilling to jump into the virtual mosh pit?  Ebay has lots listed.  I read a post form the owner of Wollmeise that stated - sellers who repeatedly resell the yarn on Ebay may be blacklisted for future ordering.  Yikes!   So don't buy direct from Wollmeise and then turn around and sell it on Ebay.  Got it. I looked around and saw prices on Ebay were getting inflated than their retail sale price at the yarn stores.

So, I did what any sensible person would do.  I went on Raverly, found someone destashing a beautiful skein and bought it from him.  I'm excited.  The color looks truly wondrous.  I'm worried however; what if it doesn't live up to the hype?

Here is the same color - different skein of yarn.  What do you think?

Wollmeise Blaue Tinte Contrast

Friday, October 8, 2010

I'm a knitter now

So while I have plenty of free time on my hands, I've taken up knitting.  Last week I arrange for a private lesson with one of my favorite knit shops.  I began work on a scarf using Encore Worsted yarn in a yummy not quite navy blue.  The stitch that I was started on was simple - knit two, pearl two (k2 p2).  Thus began my leap into knitting.  At first it didn't go so well.  I dropped stitches, reversed stitches and generally did a good job of mucking it up.  Instead of going back to the shop to get help, I wanted to figure it out on my own.  I frogged the whole darn thing numerous times and got pretty good a casting on.  Finally I went to the shop and got some additional help.  Today, I'm a happy knitter.  I finished my first project which turned out to be a cowl instead of scarf.  I got bored with the basic stitch and I'm ready to take another leap into more advanced projects.

I've started a hat for Mister.  I go from knitting preschool to a middle school project - knitting in the round!  So far it is going really well.  I'm using a very very basic easy project to begin with - Knit Picks Easy Peasy Knit Hat which is also demonstrated on YouTube here.  So far It is looking like a smooshy circle - I knit on.

Meanwhile, I've been crocheting up a storm.  I've finished more shawls, scarves, a baby blanket, a baby hat and even my first cardigan.  Right now I have two projects on the hook - a scarf/wrap call Clapochet based on a knitted version Clapotis.  Both are free patterns.

This will be my second and third Clapochet.  One is in a very dream brown tone with silver thread - Dream in Color - Starry yarn and the other in Cascade Alpaca Lace painted yarn.  I've never worked with Dream in Color yarn, but I'm hooked.  This wrap is a commission for a friend.  She allowed me to pick the pattern and yarn color and I really hope she is pleased.  It will be a very dreamy wrap.  One thing I really like about this pattern is that it is not a one trick pony.  Need a scarf?  Great.  Need a wrap - good to go!

Here is my first execution of this pattern:

After I complete the Dream in Color Clapochet and Mister's hat I already have my eye on my first knitted shawl: LaLa's Simple Shawl.  I'm going to attempt this shawl by changing the yarn to a very delicate Dream in Color Baby.  It is a lace weight/really light fingering yarn.  I've chosen Cloud Jungle.  I've looked at it seem that folks have changed the needle size from 10 to a 6.  I'm going to try 8 and if not I'll go down.  We'll see.

It is very exciting to be able to crochet and knit!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A sign that all will be alright

So I've been inactive for a few months.  Right around my last blog entry life got interesting.  Yes, the type of interesting that is italicized.  I don't want to directly write about it specifically.  Suffice it to say that it has caused some uproar, changes and a period of time needed to adjust to it.  In the end, I'm left with good stories to share, a lot of lessons learned and I'm okay.

With the stress of the last month, I've been crocheting more.  Crochet helps me manage my stress levels and I've hit the yarn in a big way.  I finally attacked a much coveted project - the Infinity Wrap.  I don't know why I thought it would be such a big scary project.  It wasn't too bad.  I had to learn a few new skills, and let go of my obsession with adhering to the pattern directions.  I don't know why I fixated on the directions.  I usually have no problem going off script.  Once I did things were fine.

The result:

Right now I'm sitting in a coffee shop with Mister.  I'm taking a break from working on my very first sweater to write this.  In the corner, five women are knitting and talking.  I've had the urge to learn to knit again - been thinking about it for weeks.  I decided that I'm going to go for it.  Perhaps take a class or individual lessons.  Somehow having women near knitting or crocheting makes me feel that everything will be okay.  Yarn over ladies (crochet/knitting term - not to be confused with game over).

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Summer Doings

It has been hot here in the Midwest - very very hot.  Today I believe the heat index was 106.  I don't even really bother to check the weather anymore.  My garden is suffering from heat and bit of neglect.  Happily we've had rain the past few days for a bit.  I'm stepping up my efforts to water in the mornings. I spotted eggplants in bloom!  I picked the first two tomatoes yesterday - REALLY late compared with last year.  Last July we were drowning in tomatoes.  Hopefully, production will pick up.  I noticed the potato plants are dying back; could it be that it might be time to find out what we have?

I've been busy with summer projects - cleaning, clearing out, crafts and readings.  I signed up for a 10 book summer reading club and I'm happy to say that I finished early last week.  Yay!  I've enjoyed my summer reading.

  1. Friday Night Knit Club - Kate Jacobs
  2. The Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell
  3. Knit Two - Kate Jacobs
  4. Bed of Roses - Nora Robers
  5. In Defense of Food - Michael Pollan
  6. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night - Mark Haddon
  7. Savor the Moment - Nora Roberts
  8. Sweater Quest - Adrienne Martini
  9. Cleaving - Julie Powell
  10. Fireworks Over Toccoa - Jeffery Stepakoff
My cleaning projects have been going well.  Mister and I made a To Do list of big projects and we've been tackling them when we can.  As I said before, it's hot here.  The air conditioning is plunking away, but still I feel hot all the time.  Mister and I also sat down yesterday to schedule out our major chores and when we wanted to do them - vacuuming, sweeping, recycling runs, etc.  We put them into our Google calendar to help keep us on target.

Speaking of Mister......

Sunday was our first wedding anniversary.  We took a road trip on Saturday and then stayed Sunday night at our honeymoon hotel.  It was a lovely and low key event. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mind the cobwebs

Hello neglected blog.  I've been busy.  Very very busy.

The garden is growing and growing.  I've harvested a small crop of peas, lovely chard, & my first beets - small ones.  The garden got a huge weeding effort a few weeks ago and I'm trying to mind it closer.  Things are just cooking along.  The Yukon and Red Pontiac potatoes are in flower.  The beets are growing mighty, the corn is sprouting nicely and there are a few flowers blooming on the tomatoes.  Here are photos from last weekend.

My other project is a major craft studio organization and construction.  With space in the basement, I've carved a nice niche for myself.  Finally I'll have a bead table again so I can get back to making jewelry.  I'm on day three of a major bead sort.  After four years of nomadic beading efforts they've gotten into quite a mess.  I'm sorting by color and creating some custom bead mixes that I'm going to sell on my new shop site.

Yes, shop site!  Here is my new shop with a shawl listed for sale:

In other news, I'm still job searching.  Very discouraging.  200 applicants for every teaching job?  Yikes.  We'll be okay, but yikes!  I can keep my assistant job and perhaps add a few hours tutoring.  I've finally surrendered my anxiety about lack of job.  There is nothing that I can do about it.  I'm doing everything I can to look and apply. 
But I'm making good use of my summer.  Summer is a time for reading, organizing and processing what I've been through these past few months.  Mister and I are planning a second honeymoon for our anniversary which is coming up in July.  I can't believe it has almost been a year.  Wow!  We've had quite a year.

All in all, I'm happy.  I've been connecting with fun, healthy and wonderful people.  My life is finding it's balance and I have much to look forward too.

I'll end on a picture of some food porn.  Eggs in a nest - chard from the garden and eggs from the farmers' market.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

10 (plus) Shawl in 2010

I belong to a group on Ravelry that has issued the challenge of crocheting or knitting ten shawls in 2010.  I've completed my challenge.  Here are the lovely contestants.

I've decided to sell a few shawls. Two of the ten were gifts for friends and were happily received. A few of the ten were for me. Two are presently looking for homes.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

These May Days....

Happy Harvest day.  For the past few days I've been harvesting a few strawberries a day.  Today I broke out the shears and took a few chard cuttings.  The colors just hurt my eyes with beauty.

I did some extensive work on the garden and patio today.  Cleaning up, putting away and planting the last of the seedlings.  I donated a few plants to a local chapel for their plant sale.  I got a few back today that I'll bring into work tomorrow to see if anyone wants to plant them.  If not I'll have a few more eggplant and peppers to plant.

Mothers' Day is always a hard day for me.  This one I've been missing both my parents.  So I took a nap and then got to the garden.  I should always remember how much better I feel after that.  Somehow I forget.  Maybe I should start paying my garden for the therapeutic work it does for me.  Something about weeding and getting my hands dirty.

I've started using hanging baskets in the garden.  Since my space is limited on the ground I need to go up.  Peppers and eggplants are experimentally planted in them.  We'll see.

As far as eating here is our meal tonight.  Stir fry with chard from the garden and chocolate torte cake with strawberries from the market.  In honor of Mister's birthday yesterday.
In other news, the worm bin got a new layer today.  The worms have pretty much turned all the paper and scraps into compost in their first layer.  So tonight I tore and tore and tore and tore and tore and tore and tore newspapers up.  Then I misted them with a mister bottle (SO much easier than wetting it, which gets it too wet).  Then I added coffee grounds, filter, many tea bags, strawberry scraps and chard scraps.  Then I removed the lid from the first layer - said hello and then added the new layer.  I'll check it tomorrow evening to see if anyone has moved up.  Very exciting to have home made compost.
While at the farmers' market yesterday I purchased some locally dyed yarn (YAY!).  The was a person there hand spinning yarn with a drop spindle.  He made it look so easy and relaxing.  So it seems that I'm destined to start spinning my own yarn.  I've already started scouting classes nearby and we'll see.  Here is a video of a similar process.

If you hand spin yarn, drop me a line.  I'd love websites and book recommendations.

Monday, May 3, 2010


 Overdue for updates.  I've spent the past four weeks drudging through some pretty serious grieving.  Nothing much has gotten done as a result.  The garden is neglected.  The housework is neglected.  The only thing I've been wanting to do lately is to crochet and stay home.  I've felt the need to do some spring hibernation.

The funny thing about grief is that it sometimes sneaks up on you.  I've been missing my dad pretty much everyday.  Sometimes I want to tell him something - and then - I remember.  He's gone.  I've resumed my daily morning walks that I fell out of a few years ago.  This is something that dad and I did together.  Everyday, even cold ones, dad and I would do our mile walk in the morning together.  It was often a quiet time; just the two of us.  I'm glad that I've started doing my walks again.  It has allowed me to start losing weight again, but at the same time it is very painful. 

The funny thing about this experience of parent loss is that it has caused me to mourn for my mother in a totally new way.  So very often when I'm just wanting to hide out from social obligations it is because I'm mourning two very different people in many ways.  Grief can also be exhausting so very often I'm pretty tired by the time that bedtime rolls around.

In addition to working my underemployment job, I come home to search for jobs as well.  Things have been busy around here. Which brings me to my project which needs more energy....

The Garden Tragedies.

Rather than tell you what's growing, I'll write about what didn't go well.
  Lettuces top this list.  I didn't do well with lettuces.  I'll have to try for a fall crop.  They were leggy and I never did get a harvest.  Onions are not worth mentioning.  I think I have one plant which still has pathetic growth.  Beets are trying to hold their own.  I reseeded outdoors, but then we had heavy rains.  I counted only three plants.    I think I'm most disappointed about the beets.  I love beets and I couldn't wait to see the targeted insides of the Chioggia.

Carrots are trying to grow.  With hard rains plants are struggling.  I planted five Blue Jade corn plants.  Three remain after a severe storm on Friday. 

Because of heavy rains and my lack of energy I still need to plant:
Black Valentine Bean
Lyaluk Cucumber

The Well Garden:

Tomorrow is planting day.  I'll put the tomato, pepper, basil, and eggplant seedlings into pots and see where they go.  Of all the plants these guys are champions.  The peas burst into bloom a few days ago.  It all started with one and now there are five or more blossoms.  Potatoes are doing well - growing growing growing.  I need to finish planting my La Ratte (late, late, late).

I keep telling myself that I failed with this crop, blah blah blah.  Honestly, I'm trying to think of the garden as a grand experiment until Mister graduates and then we can have a house with some land.  Then I'll go for it.  I'd like to find a garden mentor then.  I'd like someone to help me plan out, plant and trouble shoot.  In exchange I can help them in their efforts.  We'll see.

For now, I'm just trying to keep my chin up.  It is frustrating job searching for the second year.  Teacher shortages aren't here and there are hundreds of applicants for each position.  I've opened up my search range outside of the teaching field.  I just need to hang on until Mister graduates.  Each time I wonder if I'm doing the right thing by pursuing teaching I get a little reminder.  In Arizona, we were sitting in the grass waiting for a performance in the park to start.  A kindergartner sidled up to me to watch me crochet.  Before long I was teaching her how to do a simple crochet stitch and answering her questions.  A few weeks ago while hanging out in the bookstore with Mister, a second grader walked up to me and watched me crochet over my shoulder.  I looked up at him and his face was just alive with wonder - "Wow! Your sewing is really pretty."  Then on Friday a first grader almost ran out in front of my car.  Luckily I saw her and slowed down.  Mister laughed when I talked to her about safety and making good choices.  It seems I'm a teacher.  Each time I doubt this, a little person comes into my life to connect with me.  My life is speaking - again and again.  So it is doubly frustrating when circumstance won't allow my life to find a place to speak.  Last week I finally surrendered my anxiety in this area.  I'm doing the best that I can to find a position.  It is so much easier to float with the river than to swim against the current.  All I can do is keep applying and hope that a call comes.

So that is all the news from Lake Woebegone - where all the teachers have classrooms.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Garden Update

What's Growing:
Strawberries - fruit to appear soonly
Sweet Chocolate Pepper

Red Wetersfield Onions - hmm very whimpy after lots of care.  Next year I'll try sets.  Transplanted to garden bed this past week.

Listada de Gandia Eggplant

Chioggia Beet - I'm not sure this one will go anywhere.  Seedlings transplanted to garden bed - little root action.  Perhaps next year they should be directly seeded to garden.

Rocky Top Mix Lettuce
Plato II Lettuce Mix
Cracoviensis Lettuce

Five Color Silverbeet (chard) - nearly wiped out by hard rain.  I bought a supplemental six pack set at the farmers' market last week

Mustard Greens
Black Cherry Tomato
Garden Candy Cherry Tomato
Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach
Cherokee Purple Tomato
Melrose Pepper
Little Marvel Garden Pea - creeping up toward the sun

Just Planted
Tonga di Parigi Carrots
Blue Jade Corn
Yukon Gold potatoes
Red Pontiac potatoes

What's to come - later planting:
Black Valentine Bean
Lyaluk Cucumber
La Ratte Fingerling Potatoes

Brandywine Tomato
Verde da Tragilo - all but three seedlings were wiped out due to heavy rain.  I'm not sure if the remaining plants will make it.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

What I've been doing....


Crostini, green leaf lettuce, watercress (farmers' market find), spicy chicken sausage, roast chicken (from the night before), walnuts, goat cheese and homemade vinaigrette. 

Iced tea - mmmm.
Garden Days

Strawberries in bloom...soon.

Seedlings have been moved to the outdoor greenhouse. 

I've taken a baby step today with the garden.  I put up the new and hopefully dog proof fence to block off a larger area for pots and garden bed.  Potatoes - two kinds were planted today.  My shipment of La Ratte potatoes should arrive this week.  Still to plant: carrots and corn.  We've had such warm weather that I'm tempted to out of the greenhouse, but I hesitate.  We'll see.  Last frost date is next week so maybe.


Started this shawl using the local yarn that I bought in Sedona.  I went to Sedona's Knit Wits to find Sedona color yarn and found this beautiful soy silk.  So much fun to work with.  I'm trying to pour all my recent and past thoughts and mourning for my parents into it.

Going to Sedona was going home.  It was far more joyous and sad than I would have ever guessed.  So a shawl will be the result of my trip and a good remembrance.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

By My Hands

We have been back from our trip a grand total of three days.  I've gotten very little done that I wanted to get done.  Sunday, I mostly just sat around thinking about being tired (and I was) and then we ran errands.  Monday I returned to work and I returned home tired.  Today I came home after running errands and headed to the patio to do some much needed transplanting of seedlings.  I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by my charges.

Clearly next year I'll have to move operations to the basement with full shop lights which we already have.  I'm using full spectrum lights on these guys and they are loving it.  Not everyone was happy with my absence and a few plants went to plant heaven.  The Brandy-wine tomatoes never germinated.  The Cherokee tomatoes only have two representatives remaining out of nine planted.  The loses though are minimal and honestly, I think we'll live.  The Basil party is booming and I think I'll have quite a few plants to give away.  I planted extra in hopes that I can give plants away.  The eggplant seedlings are a beautiful and strong sight as is the pepper pairs.

What's Growing:
Garlic - getting bigger
Strawberries - planted last year
Sweet Chocolate Pepper
Red Wetersfield Onions
Listada de Gandia Eggplant
Chioggia Beet
Rocky Top Mix Lettuce
Verde da Tragilo
Plato II Lettuce Mix
Cracoviensis Lettuce
Five Color Silverbeet (chard)
Mustard Greens
Black Cherry Tomato - sprouts spotted today
Garden Candy Cherry Tomato - sprouted today
Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach

Cherokee Purple Tomato
Melrose Pepper
Little Marvel Garden Pea

What's to come - later planting:
Tonga di Parigi Carrots
Blue Jade Corn
Black Valentine Bean
Lyaluk Cucumber
Yukon Gold potatoes - purchased seed potatoes today at the farmer's market/grocery
Red Pontiac potatoes- purchased seed potatoes today at the farmer's market/grocery

La Ratte Fingerling Potatoes: on order to be delivered in April

Brandywine Tomato

I just realized that most of my planting is "done" - at least the first stages.  Most of the seeds have been started.  So I have accomplished something.

Yarn Work

I've been busy crocheting.  I have 11 squares left for my granny square shawl that I've been working on.  Right now I'm working on an additional project with yarn that I picked up in Scottsdale Arizona.  I'm taking a break from the squares for a bit.  Soon I'll finish the squares and get back at it.  I have been working on it however - this is the first piece that I'm blocking.  You lay out the piece pin it to a surface then steam it or wet it down.  In the case of the squares, I spritzed them with water and let them dry.  After I have most of the finished squares blocked I'm going to experiment with putting them together.  Right now I have a few ideas floating around in my head.  I want to make sure that one of them looks the way it does in my head.

Yarn Site I'm obsessed with

Blocking the squares

Scottsdale yarn - beautiful color change.  This will be my "Desert Memories Shawl"

We had a wonderful very enriching vacation.  I'm still trying to process the experience.  It will defiantly be a blog post soon.  The other day I was thinking while I was crocheting and I realized just how connected crocheting makes me feel to my mom.  This was further highlighted when my aunt said to my cousin, "...just like Auntie Bette used to do." 

Monday, March 29, 2010

Coming soon....

Still trying to settle back in from vacation mode.  I will do an update soon on vacation, seedlings (my oh my) and yarn.  Lots to report and pictures to come!

Here is a sneak peek:

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I'm on Vacation...

Mister and I are in the middle of our Arizona (Going Home) Vacation.  We are seeing, picturing, crocheting, reading and visiting family.  I'm having a great time, but I'm starting to miss my seedlings.  Oh yeah, and I guess I miss the dogs too.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Changing Over - Homemade Microwave Popcorn, iced tea and more

In keeping with trying to do more ourselves, save money and eliminate unknowns from our diet.  I've been wanting to make our own microwave popcorn.  Saturday was Farmers' Market day and we picked up some organic local popcorn. Beautiful!

So how to make your own microwave popcorn?

Brown paper lunch bag
1/4 cup of corn
drizzle of olive oil
dash of salt

Fold bag top over a few times and stick in the microwave for 2-3 minutes.  Listen and take out when 5 seconds between kernels.  Pour in bowl - add more oil if desired or cheese, etc.

Last bit of advice - do not leave unattended with family or significant other. 

I did some calculations.  Our bag from the market was $3.75 and has about nine servings (1/4 cup of un-popped corn).  That is about $0.42 a snack!  Cheaper than the store and no chemicals in the bag.  We can also recycle our brown bags after! 

We have made other changes around her as well.  I stopped buying pre-made ice tea and started to make it at home.  It is so very difficult.  Boil water add to pitcher over 4 tea bags.  Let sit for 3-5 minutes.  Take tea bags out, put in bowl for worm bin later.  Chill the tea and refrigerate.  We have a ridiculous amount of tea on hand anyway and now we do not have an additional plastic jug to recycle.

Next task: home made instant oatmeal.  Just as soon as we use up the prepackage stuff we have on hand.