Archive for the ‘food and garden’ Category

holiday weekend

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

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i’m always amazed that no matter what date memorial day lands on, our poppies burst into bloom to celebrate the holiday. how do they know??

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i was convinced that between the cold and wet last week (we had a frost one night), they would be a little late this year. but when i backed the car out on my way to the grocery store friday, there they were, the first pink, papery petals just uncurling—and i jumped out to take a picture for you.

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yesterday, after the weekend events and festivities were complete, i snapped some more on my way home from the office, when i saw that the red ones had since bloomed as well.

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the bees were so greedily feeding on them that their backs had turned bluish purple from rubbing against pollen loaded stigma.

more about the garden later on—let’s talk about the weekend; did you have a good one?

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all of our hard work and preparation to get ready for the great lakes fiber show came to a close on friday, when the whole kit and caboodle was loaded into several vehicles for the trip out to wooster. many MANY thanks to darpan, barb, erica, anastasia, lillian, and david for packing it all and setting it up.

i stayed on at the ranch to greet our weekend guests, cherie and anne marie, while getting ready for my friday afternoon yarn voyage class.

we had a terrific class that evening—so much so that as usual, i forgot to take photos (maybe laura got some?). afterward, dinner with the crew and knitting back at the house, at least for as long as i could keep my eyes open, haha.

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the next morning it was up and out early for all of us to get ready for a busy show day.

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for lauren, our new graphic designer, this fiber event was her first; i think she had a lot of fun.

i’m always so tickled to see new and old friends, knitters who read my blog and hang out in our ravelry groups, people from near and far.

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chris and laramie were visiting from england!

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it’s also nice to see what everyone is wearing at the show. since it’s usually warm for this event, scarves and shawls are the norm, but in the early hours, it’s sometimes possible to see a knitspot sweater in the wild.

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bonnie, who raises sheep and alpacas, used some of her 3-ply 50/50 alpaca/merino handspan to knit this highlander sweater last summer. the stitchwork is just beautiful, isn’t it?

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on a road trip through new england, she purchased these beautiful celtic knot buttons for it.

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on the way back to canton that day, we made our traditional stop at the dalton dariette for ice cream; cherie is now a devotee.

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duly fortified, we went right on to a knit along with our retreat group that night. i had been working on my third triticum sample in stone soup fingering yarn for about ten days by this time and i was just winding up the right front piece, which i had started a couple of days days earlier.

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i finished that off at the KAL and cast on for the first sleeve. i need to have this sample completed by the friday morning, but i really want to have it all seamed up by wednesday so i can wash it will before we leave.

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even though i’d done a lot of knitting up to that point, this meant that i still had to knit two sleeves and the back. i got busy right away; by the time we left the hotel KAL, i had started the ribbed cuff.

sunday was another full day—class for six hours and afterward, i think i took a nap—can’t remember!

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i definitely worked on my first sleeve for at least a bit, but i must have been too tired to get far, because on monday morning just before the yarn tasting, it looked like this.

by mid morning our weekend events were complete and i made a beeline back to my study to put my feet up and enjoy a day of knitting and listening to audiobooks. i probably should have been gardening but i really need to finish this sample too!

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the sleeves go quick, thank goodness; a little before noon i was at the underarm bind off (they are three-quarter sleeves) and ready to start the cap shaping. that took no time at all as the stitch count diminishes with every couple of rows. by 2 pm i was done.

i was so pumped at how quickly i’d knit that sleeve that i figured i could knock out at least the second one before  i had to go to bed last night.

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sure enough, it is possible; in fact, by 7:30 pm last night the second sleeve was ready for cap shaping as well. i had plenty of time after binding off to begin the final piece—the sweater back.

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i got cast on and started the hem ribbing; by the time david was ready to stretch out and watch TV together, i had begun the pattern for the central panel. at this point, i was indeed tired—and even—just a little bit—tired of knitting, though that wouldn’t have stopped me if i wasn’t sleepy, haha.

i was on a mission.

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i worked for a few hours this morning while i had my coffee and made some phone calls; by eleven, i had finished the body shaping and was heading to the underarm bind off.

i knit some more this afternoon during another meeting and now i’m ready to shape the armholes—a finish tonight will be mine!

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i have to run to an appointment now, but when i get home, i will complete the back and steam block all my pieces. i can start seaming while we watch TV later.

more seaming tomorrow and then a nice hot, sudsy bath to make this fabric soft and cuddly and bright—stay tuned!

(also, once it’s done i need to get back to the gardening .)

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springing

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

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hard to believe that just a few days ago the garden looked like this—flowers with buds shuttered tight against the chill and warnings of frost at night.

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then, a magical weekend with temperatures rising by the hour and voilá!

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suddenly every tulip in the front bed popped open and we have a veritable forest of blooms among the shrubs.

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they are especially tall and healthy this year and david really went to town selecting a variety of bulbs.

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from those with unusually shaped petals to ones with striking color contrast (or both!)

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these two are my favorites, i think—i love the pointy petals and green striping.

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or how about this mostly white, traditional one with the little tourist inside?

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david knows that tulips are my favorite flowers every year in the fall he places his order of bulbs and plots out where they should go.

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then in spring wonderful surprises greet me week by week as the various bulbs pop up, put out leaves, and bloom in places i don’t expect. i’m never sure where they will turn up next.

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we still have loads of daffodils and jonquils as well

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the chilly weather last week made them last and last.

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and now, the apple tree is blooming, so pretty.

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thank you so much for all of your kind comments and delicious excitement over the triticum and the mister’s sweater designs that we released over the weekend! it’s really a nice feeling to see such a positive response to them; your enthusiasm makes me so happy! i hope you enjoy knitting them as much as i did.

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obviously we know now that i got my better breakfast version of triticum done in time for the pattern release on sunday, but on friday afternoon it was still a nail biter, with more than half a sleeve to knit, plus blocking and seaming  to go (i lost that morning to finalizing the release of the mister’s pattern for those who wanted to shop at maryland over the weekend).

when i was binding off my sleeve late friday night, i got a text saying, “you win; my grafting is keeping me from crossing the finish line” it was barb, my partner in the big sweater race. (well ok, she didn’t say it quite that way; she used more explicit knitting terms to describe her graft). i told her to come over saturday morning and we’d have a seaming party.

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myself, i could not sleep past six am for excitement—i was about to block and seam a fine gauge sweater i’d knit in nine days. (yes i know i’m a nerdy geek; that has been well established, thank you.)

you’ve seen this all before and very recently, too; i won’t go into any lengthy descriptions of what i did. but i do think the fabric is super pretty in this yarn and shade (porridge), don’t you?

by seven i was done and had a pot of coffee going on the stove (yeah, i even did my blocking before coffee—before stepping foot downstairs in fact).

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i used the quiet time before barb arrived to sew my own graft and stitch the collar to the back neck. next i began seaming in the sleeve capss, the trickiest part of finishing most fitted sweaters.

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when barb arrived she was feeling much better than the night before and we got right down to work on her graft.

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well she’s a pretty quick study and before i knew it, she was halfway across that collar, happily chanting the song of the knitting graft (hey, don’t knock it—it works).

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at eleven, we moved over to the shop because i had to watch the store for the day. we set ourselves up a little tailoring shop in the classroom area complete with mini pressing bench, sleeve board, tailor’s ham, and press cloths.

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barb blocked her fronts after joining them.

by the way, craftsy is having a big sale starting today, so if you need help with these finishing tasks, this would be a great time to pick up my newest class about sweater knitting techniques or one of my finishing classes.

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i have to say, that’s a beauty of a graft barb. i’m always happy to help my local friends through this tricky finishing maneuver, but even if you live far away, you can learn to do it too, with my FREE craftsy grafting class, a seriously great deal.

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when my sleeve caps were completely sewn in, i lightly steamed pressed the seams so they would drape nicely. normally, i would give this garment a complete wash/wet blocking before doing photos, to help that fiber bloom, close up the gaps between stitches, and even out the fabric surface a bit. but we just didn’t have time for that on saturday; i needed to get photos before sunset, haha.

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meanwhile barb worked on setting in her sleeves; i had showed her a couple of tricks for getting nice seams along the top of the sleeve and she was pretty impressed with her improved seams. we were neck and neck at this point, but soon after lunch, barb got called away for a small emergency. we weren’t going to finish exactly at the same time, drat.

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i went home and finished joining the side and underarm seams of my sweater—by five or so i was done and rushed to put on a bit of makeup while david got the camera ready.

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as the sun got ready to set, we squeezed in a nice photo shoot; the right was perfect and it was a lot of fun for the two of us to be working alone as a team again—we don’t get to do that often any more!

i love the way this sweater feels—so light i keep forgetting it’s there. it’s not at all fussy to wear, either; it stays right in place and looks nice no matter how i move around.

in fact i love both versions—i’m looking forward to wearing my blue tayet version when i get it back from its visit in the spirit trail booth at the fiber show.

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barb was back tonight, with completed sweater in tow and made up for her photo shoot—isn’t her’s gorgeous? this design has many details that make it flattering to a lot of body types—a central feature that pulls the eye away form the sides of the body, lovely fitted shoulders and armholes, another feature at the center back for a beautiful exit, and a shorter sleeve option to lighten up the overall look, should you want to wear it in summer (learn more about choosing a sweater style that will flatter your body in my sweater knitting techniques class).

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barb also chose to knit with better breakfast fingering, but in the sugarfrost shade. barb is tall, so she chose to lengthen the body of her sweater by about an inch and a half . she lengthened the sleeves about an inch (as did i; we both have extra long arms).

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sigh; another person who doesn’t like to smile for the camera—and barb has SUCH a great smile too. what are we going to do with her?

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well, we love her anyway, don’t we?

what a rush, huh? later on, all i had every for was fiddling around a bit with some lace yarn and an idea i have for a new shawl; i’m ready for a bit of lace.

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i’ve had this briar rose stella for a while, intending it for a specific idea i’ve been working out in my head. i think i’m almost ready to start, but need a little swatching to work out the details.

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speaking of stella, while i was in the shop on saturday, i saw that anastasia had unearthed a few remaining skeins of the cranberry stella lace that i designed the winterwood crescent shawl with. we sold out this kit VERY quickly at the time of its release and i know a few people were disappointed not to get one.

these are skeins we held in reserve for the last eighteen months in case of a yarn emergency or lost package. there are just five left and we are ready to let them go now. david has opened up the winterwood kit listing so they may be purchased.

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now that the rush is over to get those sweaters finished and published for maryland, i’m reorganizing my task list to start some new ones. but before i even do that, i need to give both my new BNWs sweaters a nice hot bath so we can really appreciate their soft beauty.

i’ll be back with more about all that in a couple of days—for now, happy knitting.

no place like home

Friday, April 17th, 2015

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i know it doesn’t look like much, but it’s home to me. haha, actually, it almost looks like i live in a nursing home, doesn’t it? oh well, i still miss it when i’m gone for a while.

sorry for the extra time between posts, it’s always a little rush-rush when i get back form a trip because i have to get my bearings and catch up a bit. plus we had a blanket club chapter to publish this week, which i hope everyone is enjoying.

when i prepared to go to new mexico, i packed the last of my two sweater projects in the hope that i would complete three remaining sleeves in the five days that i was to be away. HAHAHAHA.

but one can dream can’t one?
and it’s good to be prepared (remember, i got stuck in hurricane sandy and i was really REALLY happy to have extra knitting that week, though it probably damaged my sense of proportion for life.)

anyway, i didn’t get much done at all on my sleeves over last weekend. i don’t know why; they are the best travel knitting. but somehow i got distracted by my crescent shawl project (which has no deadline) and i couldn’t stop knitting on it.

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when i left my house i wasn’t quite done with the hem. i pulled it out in the airport lounge while waiting to board the first flight and that’s when it became my weekend knitting of choice.

by the time i got through my first day of classes, i was ready to begin the short row shaping section, so i got that set up in the quiet of my room that night. i did knit on my first sleeve a little bit, but not as much as i thought i would. ok, i got the cast on and two rows of ribbing done; that’s it.

you saw the progress i made on the crescent shawl throughout the weekend—i was all about knitting garter stitch in short rows, alright. plus stopping to admire the fabric—it’s SO darn squishy and soft. and pretty.

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when i boarded the plane to go home at holy-cow-o’clock on monday morning, i had just about ten rows to go—the longest ones, of course. but i was binding off as we landed in denver a short time later; all done, yay.

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it was a little bit of a relief actually. kind of like when you finish off that bag of delicious chocolates you can’t keep your hands off of—much as you enjoyed them, you’re sorta glad they are gone so they won’t tempt you any more. in fact, you may have even eaten the last ones in a bit of a rush to get there, without actually savoring them as you should.

or maybe you just enjoy the good stuff without overthinking everything the way i do, haha. that’s the smart way to live life . . .

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so anyway, once i had the shawl off my needles i got my first orange sleeve out and got down to business. i’ve got a deadline and i don’t miss deadlines, dammit.

my renewed energy for it stood me well because by the time i got off the plane in canton at mid-afternoon, i was all the way to the armhole bind off. since i was basically getting off the plane and continuing on to teach another class, i just kind of kept going and by supper time, i was done with that first sleeve. i’m enjoying the yarn no end—it’s briar rose joyful and i’m not sure what chris will name this colorway, but i will always think of it as orange you glad.

for the next couple of days my time was tied up with a range of projects—putting the chapter layout together and writing up some designer notes (we’d done all the video and photo work earlier in the month), completing edits on sweater pattern files and checking in with test knitters, blocking a couple of shawls (including the one i’d just finished—more on that in a minute), and in between all that, knitting on my sleeves. i had two left for the deadline cardigans and half a sleeve for the pullover. and here at week’s end, everything is shaping up nicely for a successful finish.

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the pullover sleeve is in a holding pattern just until i get the other ones completed. i know i can finish that in a matter of hours and on my own time. my second orange sleeve is well on its way to being done.

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i’m a few rows shy of the armhole bind off and from there, the sleeve cap is all downhill sailing. now that makes it sound as if the orange sweater is really far ahead of the blue one, which i have only to about the elbow.

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my last sleeve piece (spirit trail tayet in colorway midnight rendezvous) is woefully behind the orange one BUT—and it’s a big but—once it’s done, the sweater is fini; there isn’t much finishing work beyond stitching up seams. the orange cardigan however, will need seaming AND button bands and you know they always take longer than we think they will.

still, with no other deadlines in sight at the moment, i feel good about being done with all of it by the end of the weekend. i will finish at least one of these sleeves tonight, probably the orange one and there’s little enough there that if i do, i can block the sweater pieces as well. and when i sit down to watch TV later on, i can seam the shoulders and begin the button/neckbands.

that’s actually an excellent plan for this evening; let’s go with that.

tomorrow we have a wedding to attend in the afternoon but i bet we’ll be home early enough for me to finish the blue sleeve. i’m pretty anxious to block those sweater pieces and see what i’ve got; i’m just dying to see how that lapel/collar works out. the blocked fabric is so different from the knitted fabric, which has a little bit of a wiry feel. once its washed however, it gets much, much silkier.

i’ve allowed for that in what seems like a fair amount of extra fabric, but i don’t want it to look skimpy once it drapes properly. fingers crossed.

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and when all of that is done, i can get back to finishing up the last bit of the sleeve for my luscious pullover which i am anxious to wear, even if it’s just for one chilly day.

sometimes when i spend a lot of time in my desk chair during the day, i want to do something at some point that does not require sitting, so on two different mornings this week, i put a shawl in to soak after coffee that i could block later in the afternoon.

one was the reversible crescent shawl i finished on my trip—i had decided i wanted to gift it to a special friend for an Important Birthday.

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whaddaya think? it’s  a wonderfully versatile length, long enough to do a keyhole pull

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or to wrap around twice to show both sides.

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i like it; i hope she does (i think she will). now i need to take those numbers and measurements i wrote down and turn them into a pattern.

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i actually want to make one with the same hem that is triangular—i know everyone loves the crescent style, but my preference is for triangle—what can i say? i march to a different drummer. while i have it all in my head, i think i’ll cast on and knit another for myself.

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i’ve had my eye on this mocha shade for a while; it’s enchanting me with its glints of gold and undercurrents of gray. such complex, rich tones; i must knit with it.

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we had a lot of chilly rain when i first got home and i saw right away that nothing much had happened in the garden. but with warmer temperatures the last couple of days and sun today, we are catching up. the buds on the maple tree just outside my desk window seem to be growing and popping before my eyes.

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even against a gray and rainy sky ( or maybe especially so . . .) they are gorgeous.

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david has been working on the vegetable garden to prepare it for planting in a few weeks—we could even set out onions and greens over the weekend. i’ll have to see if i can pick some up tomorrow.

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the big news really is in the flowers, which are finally blooming and plentifully at that (i was getting a little worried it wouldn’t happen, to tell you the truth).

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my beloved tulips suddenly have big leaves, big buds, and flowers, yay!

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and the jonquils are opening, issuing their delicate scent.

the ground is still rather cold however and around back, the perennials were just barely waking up when i took a walk around the yard this morning.

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hosts are putting out very tentative nubs, but i know from experience that once they get going, we could practically watch them get taller by the hour.

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and our funny friend, the may apple is nosing out as well, enough to be seen in just one or two places, almost hidden. but we know that they will be endlessly entertaining in no time.

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nearby, the fiddleheads are still tightly coiled but beginning to stir. it’ll be a while for them, i think.

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surprisingly though, the lily of the valley has sprung and is taller than i expected, especially the ones close to the house foundation.

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and most have their little buds already, too. funny because these are a hosta and the other hostas are still so small.

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oh i could go on and on—as you know our yard is a bottomless treasure trove of plant life. i think i’ll end with the hydrangea though, another surprise. i feel like it’s early this year, though maybe not.

it’s time for us to go grocery shopping so i’m going to close with a hint of something else—something super special—i blocked yesterday.

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ooooh, i hate keeping yarn secrets—i prefer to talk about it. i’ll tell all next time .  . .

so close

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

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one week later, it’s definitely spring—one day up and one day down; you can’t predict. on friday, the daffodils were ready to burst open at the slightest nudge from mother nature, though it wasn’t to be that day.

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i met up at lunchtime with cathy and agnes (we missed you nancy!) to kick off the holiday weekend, which was always one of my favorites in the city because it is celebrated so widely and differently from one faith to the next.

after lunch i had a couple of errands to run in midtown, but since it was raining i hopped on the train instead of walking as i usually would. in just a few minutes i was at 34th street and close to my destination—M&J trimmings.

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the streets in midtown were literally thronged with people and the atmosphere was festive, despite the dark, drippy weather. swallowed by the crowd outside the subway, i instinctively turned myself into a bicycle wheel to thread my way through.

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inside the store i headed straight for the wall of buttons and quickly found what i came for—brown leather ones. there were several boxes with choices in fact, but only one had enough of the same, correct size for my sweater.

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i would have liked them just a tad darker, but i think i can doctor them with a bit of oil or shoe polish. i would also have liked to get four of them in a slightly smaller size for the button detail at the side seams, but they weren’t available. i’m hoping that something in my button box might match or come close.

sigh, sometimes even when you can choose from seemingly all the buttons in the world, there still aren’t enough, haha. i probably should have made the effort to go on to another button store, but the weather had turned ugly again by the time i left and i was getting anxious to go home. instead i ran by 5th avenue chocolatier to pick up a present for david and headed back to brooklyn to knit late into the night.

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i worked on the back piece for my triticum cardigan as long as i could, but with thick clouds darkening the sky, i had to switch projects fairly early in the evening.

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fortunately, i have the perfect thing for low light conditions—my bright orange cardigan, which you last saw as just a hem. i got busy with that and by the time i went to bed, i had knit to the underarm bind off and little beyond. i actually took this photo on saturday morning, allowing the sun to do it justice.

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the sky outside when i woke up was swirling in the most unusual way—those foreground clouds were moving to the right and the background clouds to left as the wind blew at 25 mph and higher. fortunately, they cleared off soon enough and while it remained windy, the sun shone to warm things up.

haha, it was blowing so hard in fact that running was impossible, the result being that i was pushed all over the place every time my feet left the ground. i had to settle for walking that day instead, which was fine—a good day for it, in fact.

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the farmers market was open on grand army plaza and i visited with my friend mary after lunch. the food offerings are not plentiful just now but non-food ones are abundant.

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forced bulbs and little potting plants provided much needed color, though i’m not sure they were so happy getting knocked about by the gusting winds that afternoon.

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everyone wants spring to take a leap forward and people were buying herb and flower plants by the box, though i couldn’t help but wonder how long they’d be able to keep them alive.

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these little seedlings seem awfully vulnerable, bent as they are in the wind. still, it was a lovely, lovely afternoon.

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back at the apartment, i finished up the back piece for the misters cardigan and got back to work on the one for the triticum cardigan, hoping to make good headway before evening.

before i knew it, i’d finished that one too, and started on the left front piece.

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i really got a lot of knitting done over this past weekend in fact—and it was sooo good to immerse myself in just knitting and making. my hands needed that—and it gave me so much time to think, too.

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i’m trying to decide about how to finish the front edges of this sweater. at first, i thought it would need an added edge of some sort and i planned to knit i-cord all around the front and neck edges as the finish.

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but i’ve been playing around with the four purl sts that lie next to the edge and at least for me, they look nice enough to allow a curled self-edging to form that is nearly identical to i-cord, but without the hassle. the final decision has to wait until i see what they look like after blocking, but if they are smooth and elegant, i don’t why they won’t do. i’m not sure adding an i-cord edge is necessarily, at least for my own knitting. i will probably keep the i-cord finish in the pattern, though for those knitters who are not happy with their curled edges and want more of a finish—knitter’s choice, so to speak.

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the moonrise on easter eve was nothing short of spectacular. with the sky completely cleared of clouds, it rose large and orange and full; just perfect.

the next morning was balmy and calm, so after some knitting and coffee, i headed out for a nice long run. i did a good eight-miler, and then walked around a bit to cool down. i was picking up a few items at the store when i ran into an old friend of ours.

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phyllis represents david’s mom and has a small art gallery in park slope; in fact she had a show of mary’s work on the walls at the moment and told me to come on over to take a look.

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i just wish i had taken more photos, darn it; we were taking a mile a minute and i didn’t end up getting the whole show. i hadn’t seen phyllis in years so this was a nice surprise and a good break. i’m so glad i went into that store—i almost didn’t!

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i spent the rest of the day knitting on the front piece for triticum—if it looks like i’m a woman hellbent on a mission, i sort of am; i want to get these two sweaters finished by the end of next week so they can be shipped out to the dyers to show at maryland sheep and wool.

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and i’m almost there—the week’s knitting retreat was a great success. just two full sleeves and one partial sleeve to go, plus seaming, button bands, and possibly an i-cord edging.

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on the plane last night i worked on my sleeve during the quick flight. this morning i knit on the triticum front while i watched the rain come down in torrents outside. they are each edging toward completion and i’m looking forward to the finishing work.

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and i still have to finish one last sleeve for the pullover version—i didn’t quite get that done before i left. always plenty to do . . .

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here at home, it was much to wet to go out and explore the garden, but i did notice a few crocuses blooming near the front walk—maybe daffodils are on the way?

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robins are puffing up their chests at one another outside; maybe that will lead to a nest we can watch.

robin04_07

the yard is starting to come to life . . . at the next sunny day, we’ll get out and see what’s blooming or broken ground. spring is late, but it’s bound to appear any day now, haha.