Archive for June, 2008

yes, it really is that wet

Monday, June 30th, 2008

i swear, every time i go outside to do something it the garden it starts to rain again. look at that poor yucca plant now . . the flower cups are so full of water that it can’t hold itself up any more. if you’ve been watchng the tour of pennsylvania at all, that is exactly the same weather we are having here. i can’t remember any more the last completely dry day we had.

this morning, i was determined to get the rapini greens in before they were uselessly bolted.
so there i was, kneeling over the bed in a steady morning rain.

it was worth it . . i ended up with over three pounds of trimmed greens from that little two-by-three-foot patch. i am steaming them to freeze in pouches for winter.

and next on my list? these guys

this is a mixed patch of hardy mustard and asian greens. i won’t be pulling whole plants out here though . . . these are cut-and-come-again crops that will produce well all season long (if this year is anything like last year). i can pick whatever leaves are biggest each week and freeze a pouch or two at a time. they add tons of great taste and texture to indian dishes, as well as to the black bean stew we like to eat.

that leaves me with a gap to fill in the middle of my greens bed. i have seeds for chard (see the existing chard struggling along on the left there?) jeesh—what DO i have to do to get chard like norma’s?? she makes it appear effortless.

but i hate plant more of it when i can’t even get this batch to grow well (yet; i’m not giving up).

maybe just some more asian greens . . i had no idea they grew so fast, and man-oh-man, are they way more beautiful than the ones you can buy in the store.

if i have too many of these though, i’m not sure they would freeze well. maybe i’ll try lettuces . . . it’s certainly cool and wet enough.

and then in the “i swear—you can’t make this stuff up” department of gardening

as i headed back into the house, i noticed we have a mystery crop growing right in the fiber of the rug outside the back door. hmm, maybe it’s swiss chard . . .

so, i promised some knitting today and that’s exactly what i have for you.

i’m being very good with getting the socks done i think. every day or two they are a few inches longer. since it is my day to teach, they are getting some extra work.
i’m almost done with the big mystery project . . just finishing up the last bit. after that, i’ll be free to start the next new big thing.

in the meantime, i can’t keep my hands off the new fearless fibers merino/tencel yarn and swatching seemed like a good way to not (technically) start something new

this is a sock-weight yarn so it’s a little heavier than other yarns i’ve used to knit little nothings, and therefore, i tried it with some stitch pattens that seemed to beg for a more substantial yarn.

i’ve been looking for the right thing to marry with the pattern on the left for some time . . . it’s a rather abstract motif that looks like little rippling rivulets, and doesn’t read well in a lot of yarns, especially very fine ones (trust me).

but i think we have a good match here; i like the looser swatch a little better . . when i hold it in my hand it has a lighter and drapier feel. the holes are more open, and even appear to “run” which i like.

the split leaf motif (bottom right) is also very pretty, but has a heavy feeling in my hand—not in the spirit of the little nothings at all. maybe another time with another yarn. the fourth swatch is ok, but again, it has a heavy look.

so the one on the upper left is my favorite. and because swatching is never enough, i caved in last night and cast on for the scarf while we watched the bike races.

just a taste—just to get myself started. i can take it with me to a doctor’s appointment tomorrow.

BTW, deb at fearless fibers is having a promotion today through july 7th—with any purchase of $25 or more you can choose a free pattern from her complete selection. click here to see details on the front page of deb’s etsy shop. she also just added some new color selections to the merino/tencel yarn page, including the serenity colorway, above.

i made some headway on the re-started guava scarf, and oh my.

i’m in love. i would have it half done if i hadn’t been hiding it from myself (must finish big project, must finish big project). and believe me, as soon as the last stitch of that big project is done, i am grabbing this one and holing up in a corner with it for some private conversation.

now listen to this: just a couple of hours ago i said to david, “you know, those day lilies are trying SO hard to bloom, and every day they are juuuust a little bit closer, but never quite”.

and just now i looked at the office window to see

we got one . . . like a little sun.

food is good

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

lace is everywhere . . . even in a cheese; i just love the subtle contrast of the cream and white in this piece, with that spidery band of deep, deep blue drifting between. it looks like a snowscape or even a foggy seascape. there might be a shawl in that . . .

SO. yesterday my buddy kim (from class) and i set out at 8 am, in the rain, for cleveland to enjoy the wonders of what i like to call “real” marketing. we arrived an hour later at the old west side market, and this time i was determined to bring home sightseeing photos.

you like food, right?
this place is a veritable wonderland of smells, sounds, and flavors, all revolving around that very subject. it was a little less crowded today i think, which was good for getting some great pictures to share. the first thing we did was head straight for the chicken seller so kim could get some of her favorite sausage.

then we headed for my personal favorite—pasta

they were already out of two flavors i would have liked to try, but i did score some red pepper fettucini, then kicked myself later for not getting some of that black squid ink pasta on the end (it’s easy to get confused and forget in a crowd like that).

but i made up for it by making sure i went home with some of these yummies

we moved along quickly, stopping here and there to peruse any tasty-looking items that caught our fancy, and were completely arrested by what we saw at the mediterra bakehouse stall.

sorry, he’s taken—his adorable girlfriend was right there with him (she’s very smart i think).

but what nice buns! a nice couple—just look at the beautiful wares they were offering

we made sure we each went home with some of that. i got some semolina sesame bread, and some mt. athos fire bread, which is made from a 30-year-old starter.

we also made sure to pick up some of this

mmm, cake. and they had key lime tarts which is what i picked.
i was so excited to be there . . . this is one of the things i really miss about living in NYC—good fresh marketing with real people behind the counter, ready to expound on the glory of their products. i just can’t get into shopping at the supermarkets here in the same way.

next we headed off to a place that neither of us had been before, to suss out what we heard was a great asian market.

i haven’t been in a store like this since we moved here . . . several thousand square feet of asian groceries, fresh vegetables, and fresh fish. there isn’t anything like it anywhere near us, and our supermarkets don’t carry this stuff (and darn it, i still forgot to look for a few things while i had the chance!)

kim was simply astounded—and that’s saying a lot since she just got back from a trip to japan.

this is just some of the rice . . . what was on the shelf at the end of aisle. there was, in addition, a whole aisle of just rice and when i turned around

even more rice (and that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the items made from rice). i snagged some jasmine rice which i haven’t had in the house for a few years.

i may also have shamed myself over the variety of frozen dumplings they carry . . .

and, if you are looking for a particular sauce

they probably have it.
i stocked up on some asian greens and veggies to make a soup this week (along with steamed dumplings—now we have to use all the ones i bought).

this store is definitely on my list of places to return to; the prices are great and—something i REALLY appreciate, but did not at all expect—every item they carry has the name printed in english somewhere on it, making it easy to navigate and try new things. in a smaller store you could ask for help with names, but in a large store like this it would be easy to get lost among all the choices.

after that we finished up with a stop at whole foods to buy cheese and a few other things. they don’t let people take pictures there but the kindly guy at the cheese counter let me sneak in a photo of the cheese that starts off the post.

when i explained that is was for “knitting research”, he nodded sagely and proceeded to pull out more examples of visually gorgeous cheeses, explaining which ones were mostly just pretty (an not such great cheese), and which ones were truly a heavenly marriage of flavor and eye candy (with samples of course, to further the “research”). this is the second time i have shopped at that store’s cheese counter and each time i have been highly impressed with the guys behind the counter—they REALLY love what they do.

when we got back and managed to get all the goods put away, david and i made our favorite pizza for dinner. he cuts up all the ingredients while i make the sauce and form the pizza shells. last night we used the first of the tiny garden squash sliced over the top, along with fresh-picked basil, mushrooms, and fresh mozzarella. the sauce was cooked using both frozen and dried tomatoes from last year’s garden.

mmmm.

i did some knitting too this weekend but since this post is getting quite long, i think i’ll save that for tomorrow . . . let’s just say that guava makes a good dessert!

i can answer that

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

late last night i received this comment from sunshine:

I have started reading your blog and am wodering where I can see how much YOU matched for this amount that your readers are donating. In other words, I donate $5, you say that you match this correct? If this is the scenario, where can I see documentation that you yourself matched it. Also,where is the documentation that states it is being matched indeed by you and not by monies sent to you from your readers (in thoughts that you will send it in under the actual donators name).I attempted to search your blog to see if there may be a link to this information but am unable to see one.

and then today, after being out all day and away from the computer i received another:

As I commented on a previous blog posting of yours, I would be more then thrilled to donate for M.S. but I find it a bit unsettling that you give the appearance that your site is making rather large donations matching others. If you can show somewhere that you indeed ARE donating, then I will be happy to follow suit. I would like to add that your attitude that reveals through your blog postings appears to be quite pompous and a smidge smug. I am sure you are not that way IRL, but you do your readers such an unjustice by portraying that. Bloggers/designers with far more experience and following don’t portray anything close to that and I am sure they wil never do so.
I am hoping you will take this as contructive critisim and not anything more. It would also be helpful to not hav your patterns all be clained as your designs when they really are just stitch patterns that anyone can do. If you designed the stitch that is entirely different, but you did not correct? I will wait patiently for fundraising documentation, I am sure you have it correct?

i find it odd that in attempting to reply cordially to you sunshine, i cannot get my emails to go through; apparently you are using an email address in your comments that yahoo tells me does not exist. you are also using the IP address of another reader, so that no one can identify you (yet you insist that i be very public about my donations, which strikes me as being just a little odd).

so, i will try to satisfy you with an answer here as best i can, though i wonder from your note if indeed you want to be satisfied.

in the 18 days that i have been running the matching fund challenge, i have linked back frequently to the original post (click HERE to read it) about my booster drive to help claudia raise funds for knitters against MS.

in that post, i was very publicly clear about the goal: i put up a $500 matching fund to be distributed to the national MS society as follows: for every reader who left a comment telling me that they gave i would give $5 to knitters against MS (readers did NOT need to disclose amounts, and the donation could take place any time during this year’s fund drive).

why “sunshine” chose NOT to read that information, or to ask for clarification of it, is a mystery.

if we used up the whole $500 i would add a bonus amount.
everyone was on the honor system; if anyone emailed or left a comment for me, i would believe that they gave, and add $5 to my total donation. for people who let me know they gave more than once, i added $5 for EACH time they gave.

to be very clear, i did NOT promise to match reader donations dollar for dollar; rather, i promised to simply to tally up the total number of givers who let me know they gave, and multiply by $5 to calculate my own gift.

also, i do NOT accept or collect monies directly from readers EVER to forward to any fundraising venture. in fact, i do not accept donations at all from readers, or for any reason whatsoever. readers are always asked to make their own donations directly to the organization concerned, and donations are completely voluntary and discretionary.
any gift i give comes from my own pocket alone.

as for publicly proving what i gave, i don’t know that it is possible. by yesterday, i really wanted to send at least part of my gift in so that claudia could get a number toward her goal. we had nearly reached the original goal of using $500 with 98 total matching gifts (98 x $5 = $490.00)

figuring (and hoping!) that some more would come in over the weekend i sent in a $600 contribution. as of this minute to the best of my knowledge, we have achieved a total of about 110 matching gifts, so i think my contribution will cover everything.

while knitspot does appear on the rolling list of contributors here, i did not ask to have my amount listed next to the name (maybe i should have . . .). i do however have a receipt for the amount in hand (but since “sunshine” uses a fake email address, i can’t show it to them).

since it is our goal every month to forward donations to organizations in need, i feel a little funny about defending myself in this situation. it never occurred to me that anyone would question that we actually do follow through on that goal. i don’t think publishing the particulars about donations is prudent or necessary, even though i felt it important to do so today. any thoughts? do you as readers generally feel uncomfortable with the sort of fundraising challenge we do here every june?

i really try not to beg readers to give money for every little thing. once in a while i mention that another blogger is doing some fundraising to raise awareness that it’s happening. the june booster event is one of the very few that i directly ask readers to help me fight for a cause.

last year someone took issue with the fact that we had a raffle to help get interest in this event, saying that the raffle came across as a bribe. so this year i went for pure begging instead. it’s hard to strike the right balance between keeping things fun and having serious goals, but my hope is that somehow we are doing it.

as for the other constructive criticism in “sunshine’s” note—you always have every right, sunshine, to voice your opinion. you also have every right not to read blogs that offend your sensibilities.

so glad it’s friday

Friday, June 27th, 2008

our yucca is in full bloom . . all at once it burst out with armfuls of flowers.
(must be all this rain . . . )

those are for all of you . . . thank you SO much for your support of claudia’s Ride for MS this month. you deserve big bunches of flowers (and i’m still willing to match gifts with a $5 additional donation til sunday).

before i lived in ohio i don’t ever remember seeing this plant anywhere, though i’m sure it is widely grown. i might not even have noticed it here except that we have a very large one in our yard. the first time it put out its flowering stalk, i watched daily to see what would happen next, not being quite sure what i was looking at. it’s a fast grower once it gets going. its appearance from a clump of what i thought was just greenery took me by surprise. then the size of it—whoa.
then i saw what grew on its branches and called my friend mark.

“mark!” i said, ” there’s something in the yard and i’m not at all sure what it is; can you help?”
“i’ll try,” intoned mark.
“well, it’s a big stalk—at least five feet high—coming out of a clump of pointy leaves that i thought were part of the lily bed. it has arms that stick straight out from that. and then it has these big artichoke-type things on the arms that are HUGE.”
“oh!” said mark, with relief (i think my tone of concern had him a bit worried), “that’s a yucca.”
“ok. but i didn’t put it there. and, it wasn’t there last year.”
“yeah,” he chuckled, “they don’t bloom every year. they didn’t have those in jersey city, eh?”
er, not on my street. thank goodness for real gardeners.

i haven’t been able to get near the garden this week except to snap pictures. it has rained and rained. and then, rained some more. it’s way to soggy to venture in, so i’m letting it grow—things look ok from the edge though. but i will have to get in there and get some of the rapini picked before it bolts (it’s so on the verge). and i’ll grab some other greens too, blanch them all and put ‘em in the freezer.

so i’ve been busy with indoor stuff, mainly the secret project (almost done!), new charts, patterns, and swatches. and second socks. yay.

that’s second sock number 3; and the third caterpillar sock, too. i am so going to get the socks out of the way soon. i just hope i have enough yarn to finish this one . . it might be very close. i DO have another small ball of it here . . that’s not the last of the yarn there, so i might make it. david just has big feet, what can i say?

not a whole lotta bloggable goods though, sorry . . . i try to think of other things to write about but it’s hard. i can’t even tell a funny story poking fun at david a little—he’s been working so hard at his job he’s lucky to get a nap, much less a full night’s sleep. so picking on him would be bad, right? i mean, not that he tends toward cranky or anything, but he might be feeling fragile.

although . . . there is a sort-of funny story about the ant traps he put in the guest bathroom (oh heck—he doesn’t read my blog, so i’m gonna tell it).
see, we seem to get ants in that room only for some reason and it drives us nuts because, of course, that’s the one spot in the house we’d like to appear presentable. so we keep stocked up on ant motels, keep searching for better solutions, and hope our friends are the kind that let that kind of thing pass.

so, last week david came home with a new type of ant trap and placed them in the lavatory. this one was sure to get rid of them forever, right? the next time i walked in there, all i could do was stare in amazement—there were like 300 ants around the one trap.
hmm—a good result, but not exactly what we had in mind

later, i saw the same traps on the front porch just OUTSIDE the bathroom.
that david—he’s a thinker.

i’ve been swatching with the new fearless fibers merino/tencel yarn

i’m gonna have a new scarf started soon i think. i’ve got two stitch patterns that i’m playing with; we’ll see what they look like after a bath, then i’ll decide.

meanwhile, the other delicious scarf was well underway and i was lovin’ the pattern i picked and motoring along alright when i realized that there was too much stockinette near the edges and they might curl too much. darn it. i had just got into the right groove with this yarn, too.

so i ripped out the three or so inches i had knit with the slippery stuff and refigured my chart to have four less sts near the edge. i also decided the chart should begin on a different row to make the corners prettier (ok, yes, i realize i am baring my naked designer pickiness to the world—just be happy it’s me and not you).
so, that’s all the “progress” i have on that today.

but you know what? it’s friday. and that means it’s the weekend.
i’m not saying that means i’ll have lots more knitting to show for myself—but i might.