Archive for August, 2007

i wish there were two of me . . .

Sunday, August 26th, 2007

i have some serious knit-envy going on.

i love my current project(s) . . . all of which are lace (more on the current projects later). i know a lot of people think of me as a “lace knitter” or “lace designer”. and i am.
since i started blogging, the focus of my knitting and designing has been heavily weighted toward lace; it is a fascinating, mesmerizing kind of knitting. which might lead some people to think i am a fanatic who only knits lace (as opposed to them thinking i am just a crazy lady, which is ok).

but the lace thing is a phase; a stopover in a cycle. i have other knitting lives. i know i’ve kept them hidden from the blog for the most part (there is only so much knitting time in the day, week, or year, after all). but—newsflash—i knit sweaters too.

and that’s only a few of the handknit ones we own. in fact, i love knitting sweaters, and i sometimes feel a bit grumpy that they cannot be more a of a priority right now. since i am relying on lace for part of my living, sweater knitting has to take a backseat for a while.
but believe me, sweaters will have their turn too (i almost don’t even want to contemplate the firestorm that could occur when the worm turns; i’ve been known to turn out a couple of sweaters a month in some years . . . and they are real stash-reducers too, which is not lost on me).

as we head into fall and the air cools i have a growing yearning to cast on some DK-weight yarn for a sweater . . . or three. maybe even a cozy worsted-weight one. heck, i’d settle for finishing the two that i have on the needles since last year (both very desirable to me—why am i not finishing them??). other bloggers are starting to talk about the ones they are making to wear to rhinebeck and i am very jealous—now i want one, too.

i know i can bring this one, which is new since the last rhinebeck

but that’s not the same as having a new one FOR rhinebeck. maybe debbieKnitter will make me one . . . what do all of you do about project envy? (uh, besides the obvious—casting on for something new.)

if only there were two of me. i think i could handle it. overseeing two different sets of knitting projects. one of me could continue with all these lace projects and patterns, and the other one could make us some sweaters. and maybe even some sweater patterns. wouldn’t that be great?

well, we’ll see. i have a big deadline at the end of this week (BSP, which is why i was absent most of last week) that i’m knitting toward now. it’s a nail-biter for sure, and it will come right down to the very wire. i have been knitting every day on it—when i haven’t been working on the pattern. over the last two days, when i did not have work or internet service, i put in huge knitting hours. i have not knit this much ins this amount of time since forever (and i’m totally loving it).

i’m more than halfway there; i’m feeling good, but i’ll feel better after the three-quarter mark. if i finish the knitting by tuesday i will be absolutely ecstatic—that means i can block it and mail it by friday, and skip around all the long weekend without a care.
he-he, well, not really . . i still have a couple of socks i need to finish for the next deadline, but at least i will be able to sleep at night.

i thought i would grow to hate this piece—the fact that it is on a super-tight deadline, that i would have to be monogamous, and that the yarn is a bit difficult did not bode well initially. in fact, i could almost say i hated the damn thing last weekend at this time. earlier this week i was stressed about it to the point that i was in anxiety-attack mode for a few days straight. i wasn’t working on it enough between work, business, and teaching.

but now that i have clocked some solid work hours on it, the deadline is incentive and i’m enjoying the challenge (i can’t believe i’m saying this). of course i have dropped almost everything else and sequestered myself in a knitting cocoon. a person can’t do that all the time.

i have taken breaks to cook . . . the garden does not stop producing because i am busy. yesterday i finally got completely on top of the produce that was inside the house. i cooked and dried tomatoes, and made a huge batch of our family’s stuffed peppers

mmmm. i think i need a snack . . .

my garden makes a liar of me, part 7

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007


(flower of the day, toad lily)

they bloomed. and a little early, too, although from the looks of it, there are enough buds to last a while. i added my fingers in the picture for those who haven’t seen this miniature bloom before. it’s worth looking closely too . . it has more than a bit of the vegas showgirl thang going on in its lavish micorworld.
dream big, i always say.

and then i looked out my office window the other day and saw these from afar, amidst the hedge that separates our yard from our neighbor’s.

lots of them too. as if to say, “HEY—it ain’t over til i say it’s over”
david planted a late batch of lily bulbs in the spring and stuck them in all sorts of unexpected paces in the yard. and now they are blooming so we have a whole new crop to gaze and. and smell—the scent is phenomonal.

i’m really glad for the color . . it continues to be dreary. good knitting weather, but dark.
i’m plugging away on the BSP mostly, but yesterday i had classes so i worked on this

i also received a picture from nan, who is test knitting. she’s a lot further than me, and is knitting hers in misti alpaca laceweight

notes from the field on the pattern are all good . . . i’m hearing feedback like “i can’t put it down!”. now we just need something we can photograph to finalize the pattern.

besides the secret knitting i still have a couple of items i need to work up for other deadlines. anne and i are collaborating again on another (much smaller) project for her october kit of the month, which will make a nice holiday project. it’s a pair of mitts and the theme is snowflakes on cedars.

we are thinking about frosty blue-sage and black cherry as the two colorways. anne sent samples in this merino tencel yarn. i have my stitches picked out and will do some swatches when i take a break from the big project.

speaking of anne, i am slowly adding inches to the honeybee stole by working on it about an hour or so each night, and it’s looking luxurious. i’m on the swarm section now.

the other night i came home from an appointment to find that a long-awaited package arrived.

er, a big package.

it contained a spinning chair i ordered over a year ago, hand built by walter turpening, who shows at wooster every year. mine is walnut with a two-tone oatmeal seat and back.

i looked at and test drove his chairs for several years before finally committing to having one built. walter measures the spinner and takes information about your wheel, then builds a chair that will be comfortable while sitting with your feet on the treadles. he even makes the cording he uses to weave the seat and back, devising his weaving patterns using mathematical formulas.

the back of the chair is easily removable so that i can take the bench with me to spinning meetups. walter also builds weaving benches of all types.

my wheels are already flirting with it.

fall comes knocking

Sunday, August 19th, 2007

it is the dreariest of days here . . a chill rain is pouring down and it’s dark.
but in a way, i love that—it’s a great day to knit since we can’t ride bikes or garden. actually there IS stuff to pick out there but it’s going to have to wait til the rain lets up a bit.

the sad part is that this weekend was a true harbinger of fall’s inevitable arrival. yesterday was beautifully clear, cool, and smelled of drying leaves a bit. evening came down surprisingly fast. someone on our street lit a fire, and well, that signaled it for sure. once you smell woodsmoke in crisp night air, you know that summer is waning.

i’ve spent the last few days working a lot more at the computer than i intended or want to be doing, but i’ve done some knitting too, mostly on the Big Secret Project. i am finally settling into a rhythm with it and i’m hoping it will all flow well from here. i still have a hump or two to get over before i can send anything to the test knitters, but i think i’ll be ready for that monday.

once again, wanda and ed came to my aid. i was using my addi lace needles for swatches and really struggling. the yarn for this project is an incredible luxury fiber blend, that is unbelievably slippery, especially at first—to the point of feeling unmanageable. it was unwieldy and driving me mad. i finally caved and emailed wanda to buy a pair in the size i needed.
“no problem, she said, ed will make them. but in the meantime, i happen to have a beta pair in just that size that i can mail today—ed’s made a few improvements and you may as well test them”.
(ed and wanda already have a special place in heaven, you know . . . they do not have to be this nice to me, but still, they do good things for people ALL the time. i want to be like them.)

so anyway, the needles arrive here less than 48 hours later.

they are just what i needed. the points are perfect for me—not quite as sharp as the other jenkins needles i have, but plenty tapered enough for very fine work. and they are longer now, which improves the weight and leverage. ed is testing a new beryl for the join and i like it a lot. it has absolutely no discernible edges to catch fibers.
i gave wanda the feedback she asked for, but these are certainly doing the trick for now. no more slippery-slide-y knitting.

(hehe. you thought you would get a glimpse of the BSP on the needles just now, huh? sorry—it’s under wraps and my lips are sealed. see?? i just can’t be as nice as them . . .)

i also test drove kim’s new sock yarn yesterday by making a swatch.

now everyone knows how much i love kim’s merino/nylon sock blend—it’s super-smooth, soft, and buttery. so i was a little leery about the new yarn, which is lambswool and nylon.

but guess what? i love this one too.

it certainly is different from the other one . . it is spun looser and fuzzier (woolen style). you can see in the photo that the fibers are curlier. when it is knit up it makes a soft, light, and airy fabric with some tooth to it, although not scratchy at all. it’s fine, but it’s beefy. it is a texture i like quite a lot, because this kind of yarn makes cozy footwear, which i prefer at home in winter.

i SO wanted to cast on a sock, but let’s get real . . i have like five different ones on the needles now; i don’t really need to start another, even if it is one of david’s favorite colors and his birthday is in about six weeks (oh damn, i better get creative about a gift, like SOON).

an in other knitterly things, i caved and bought that pin i was lusting after from romi

it’s going to look excellent against some of the bronze-y blue and gold yarns i have here.

i have a couple of other cool things to show you and some mo’ knitting, but i’m goin to save them for tomorrow—i gotta go knit and put some tomatoes on.

i cannot be good

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

i know i said i wouldn’t (or that i shouldn’t), but i did and i know you knew that i would. i couldn’t help myself—just look at that fan-shaped bottom edge

it looks like a parade of ginko leaves—probably my all-time favorite leaf shape. i can’t bear that four other people are knitting it and not me. so this is the deal i made myself: i will work on it in class only, where i need an easy knit so i can listen to questions and such, or when i am just too tired to think about the much more complex project i have going.

ok then.

of course i also have this knit which i started in monday’s class.

my shortie orchid mitts. you can see i did not get a lot done . . i had to rip back about 6 rows when i realized that i had started the chevron lace cuff in the wrong place. i was working from memory instead of reading the pattern. which has been known to bite me in the butt before, so why do i do it? just a lack of attention and/or discipline, i guess.

today i woke up to showers in the morning so i jumped out of bed, all happy that i might be able to knit, instead of watering, for the two hours before work.
ooops.

i forgot about the approximately 20 pounds of ripe tomatoes in the kitchen. so while the coffee perked, i got to work.
i put a huge pot of tomatoes on to cook for puree

and then i cut about a gazillion pear tomatoes in half for drying in the oven

ok, maybe not a gazillion.
now, everyone always asks me how i dry the tomatoes. i got this idea from julia last year and it is the BEST cooking tip i’ve had in years.

see, we love to just stuff the freezer with as much summer produce as we can manage. but at some point we reach the limit. and drying is just a perfect space saver. just look at these pear tomatoes afterward

they shrink to at least half their size, and i can stuff them into zippered bags instead of bulky containers (if they make it that far . . i tend to eat them like candy, they are sooo good). but that’s NOT the best part.

the BEST part is that, when you take them out to throw a handful in a dish, the flavor hit they add is way, wa-a-ay, WAY beyond what the original animal could possible offer. i know what you are probably thinking . . . that i am straying toward exaggeration, right?

but i’m not!

just try it yourself. here’s how:

  • heat the oven to 250 degrees F.
  • cut the small tomatoes in half lengthwise and place cut side up on a parchment-lined cooky sheet (placing them down will make them cook, and you want them to dry).
  • sprinkle with salt and pepper
  • place in the oven and let them dry for anywhere from 1.5 to 2 hours, til they are quite dry but not leathery
  • cool and pack into freezer bags, or eat as a snack. OR pack them in olive oil and refrigerate, but be careful about spoilage. you can also use them right away in any or composed salad, cheese plate, or sandwich.

i do a similar thing with the roma tomatoes to make a concentrate that i use as a paste in sauce. i find that the puree from my garden tomatoes, while delicious, tends to make a watery sauce unless it is cooked forever, which is not good for the other ingredients in our vegetarian sauces. and canned paste is awful. so i stumbled on this quick method for making my own—it’s a LOT less time consuming than cooking paste on the stove.

  • heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • cut the roma tomatoes in half lengthwise and place cut side up on a parchment-lined cooky sheet (placing them down will make them cook, and you want them to dry).
  • sprinkle with salt and pepper and/or drizzle with olive oil (optional)
  • place in the oven and let them dry for 20-30 minutes
  • turn oven down to 250 degrees and let them continue to dry until the inside pulp is thickened but not dry (see photo below); do not allow these to get leathery on the outside
  • cool and then puree (they should be about the consistency of ketchup); spoon or pour into 8-ounce containers, then freeze

i use one 8-ounce container when i make a pot of sauce and it turns the sauce to just the right consistency—not too think or thin, and not too sweet.
i also use the concentrate for indian dishes where the somewhat-smoky intensity really contributes something special.

today was also a day of more arrivals. chris might have taken briar rose out of town for a show, but she still managed to send me more yarn. sigh. that woman . . . if you think that I’M an enabler, lemme tell you: i got nuthin’ on that one.

this is her newest yarn, a bamboo/merino blend in DK weight that she calls celebration.

they are all wily, these dyers. they think i don’t see through them, but i do. i know that they are tempting me with beautiful gray colors that make me weak in the knees.
they think that i think that they are innocently offering me presents. but i know better.
i know that i cannot say no. i know that i am addicted to chris’s yarn. so there.
ahem. excuse me while i shake of this head rush . . .

now, where was i?

oh yes, and then a package came from judy, too. now, i know how this appears, but believe me, this is different. it IS.
judy and i have been trying to hook up to do a project together since we met at rhinebeck last year. a year. we have tossed the idea around a few times but never acted on it for one reason or another.

but finally, FINALLY, we are going to do it. er, well in a couple of months we are. first i have to get the BSP out of the way as well as a few other smaller commitments. but come late october and i will be ready to dive into this:

on the left is judy’s sock yarn and on the right is her own merino/silk artisan blend which is custom spun for her shop alone from her fiber blends and specifications. let’s just look a bit closer at that scrumptious, chubby-cheeked stuff

the colorway for both is end of winter—ok, everybody together now—O.M.G.
we are SO going to be working with that yarn later in the fall. it has manSomething written all over it. i love that she really got the color of earth going on in there; mmm-mm.

she also sent me some hand-dyed alpaca/silk laceweight in her atlantic colorway

it really captures the feeling of the ocean in winter . .

ok, now, i’m feeling a little flushed and overexcited after all that. i think need to go sit with my knitting and calm down a bit.