random fall notes

anne wrote this in the wee hours:

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it’s been a very random week, but now that my november club installment has been delivered, i’m feeling suddenly calmer and less frenetic. funny how that goes. all of my secret knitting is now out of the bag, so unless you want to stay surprised—SPOILER ALERT—you can see some of my recent knitting projects here, here, and here. i want to knit at least one of them in two naturals . . . maybe two shades of confection sport or stone soup DK.

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turkeys on the run; i saw them when i was out running myself on sunday. i felt like i could relate so much as they zig-zagged across that lawn, haha. thing have been so hectic and busy around here since september 1st that i’m actually looking forward to the long car ride to NYS next week (we’re going to visit my family for TG).

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so i’m spending a bit of spare brain space thinking about the things i need to cook and bring for the holiday. bake sale items for a fundraiser here in canton on sunday and some kind of side dish using butternut squash (probably not soup; it’s too filling to have before a big dinner). i’ve got to pick loads of greens for several households—i’m very grateful everyone wants some; it pains me to see them die of frost when we can’t use them all. david has covered them with light plastic sheeting to make sure they live at least until TG.

i love this new cookbook, deep run roots, by vivian howard, my current chef hero; while i’m not living in my home town, i can relate to a lot of things she talks about. i might even have mentioned her book in a previous post because i am enjoying it so much. i keep it by my place at the table, then open it randomly to read a bit after lunch or dinner. i think it has more stories and background about eastern north carolina cooking than it does recipes, but there are tons of those too (divided by ingredient, which i also like because it is easier to compare). and they are mostly pretty simple and very healthy. even the dishes that contain bacon and pork use the meats mostly as a condiment; i like that.

anyway, with thanksgiving coming, it’s been an inspiration.

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last friday night i made some time to cook the vegetable terrine from our september club chapter; this was our first course dish.

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it takes a bit of prep, but it’s easy enough to make two at once which is what i did; we had have so much eggplant and peppers to use from the end of the garden. and even after using a bunch of them here i still have a couple of big bagfuls in the fridge. fortunately they keep very well—amazingly well, in fact (if i said how long, you’d never eat a meal at my house). which always makes us wonder how dang long the ones in the store are sitting around, because they don’t keep more than a few days after purchase.

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layers of eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms and potato held together with eggs and cheese. once it cools a bit it is sliceable . . .

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and makes a perfectly satisfying meal along with this months recipe, which is a hearty main course soup. we ate the last of it for supper this evening, mmmm.

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i’m glad i made that second one—as soon as we get back from the thanksgiving break we’ll be getting to work on photography for the next ensemble; the days will be busy and the house filled with people and they will be hungry.

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speaking of ensemble, i am nearing completion of my herringweave cardigan in kent DK (color driftwood, an incredibly complex gray/brown, like abalone). i can never get over how schmoooshy this fabric feels; it would go a lot faster if i didn’t stop to squish it at the end of every row, haha.

since i last wrote i finished up the right front piece and seamed the shoulders, then added the button/neck band so i could calculate that for the pattern, which i submitted to the text editor and is almost done now! time to think about buttons . . .

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i started a sleeve right away but it’s been a busy week getting my chapter written and laid out, so my progress was a bit slow. still, i am just about done and will start the second one immediately. if at all possible i’d like to have this sweater completed before i leave for albany on tuesday. thankfully all that will be required is to block the sleeves, stitch them in, and close up the side and underarm seams (fingers crossed; wish me luck!).

if i’m smart, i won’t dilly dally around doing desk work tomorrow, hehe. besides, i could really use some concentrated knitting time mentally speaking.

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but it’s a tough call—our friend amina offered to knit the sample blanket derived from the dock and cabin cardigan design and with the pattern almost ready to send her, that’s calling to me too; i don’t want to hold her up. i know i’ll work on that a little bit at least.

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last night was knit night and for the first time in a while, it was just barb and me. she is also working on a herringweave sweater but she brought her hypoteneuse along to show me. she’s made it wider to be a baby blanket for a friend and she bought the yarn at rhinebeck. she got the idea of striping it from erica betz, who is knitting a hypoteneuse wrap for emily using better breakfast worsted in milk and honey and biscotti.

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speaking of erica, today she and i went to a luncheon where i spoke about our company and the kind of yarns that we make. everyone was so kind and SO interested—they asked a lot of good questions and those who knit promised to come by the shop some time.

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it’s important to people in our community to know about small businesses that buy supplies, services, bring income to our area. this town (and our whole state actually) was in the throes of some serious economic setbacks when we moved here and while things are a little better now, they will only continue to improve if people support productive enterprises that are engaged in healthy business practices.

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anyway . . . people ARE impressed and enthusiastic once they know how we fit in to the food chain here and that we intend to keep it going. we handed out a lot of information and showed off the scarves from my new lace lessons book.

this opportunity also gave me a chance to talk about one of our favorite company projects, our december red scarf fund drive, which is on track to kick off very soon—on cyber monday, november 28th to be exact.

we will once again offer a special red scarf pattern, designed especially for this fundraiser and once again it will be a quasi mystery KAL, with me knitting along with you. AND we will also once again have a new, exclusive, red festivus yarn to offer for more fundraising fun. i’m just priming the pump here, so to speak; i’m hoping to start my sample during my trip. i’ve got a few ideas but need to pull them all together. as usual, you will see it evolve in real time, haha.

those who have been following this event for several years know that our previous scholarship recipient, brandy has graduated and the last i heard was spending a year in in italy for museum studies. our new scholarship recipient is jelissa, who lives in NYC and attends the fashion institute of technology. we are so thrilled that she works in a field so closely related to what we do and look forward to introducing her in person during december.

well, i think that’s all i have for now, but i’ll be back soon as i’ve got a little more spare time this weekend than i did last! enjoy your friday . . .

new

anne wrote this in the wee hours:

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well, it certainly has been a week of surprises and new situations. thank goodness i have knitting; it helps me think through so many challenges, has taught me to relax, but keep my eyes open, and to fix things when they go wrong, accepting only my best effort. it’s one thing i do every day that when i walk away, i know i’ve given the work my best. it always leaves me feeling competent and optimistic.

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i’ve knitted furiously over the last few days, finishing that front piece for my cardigan in kent DK that i showed you in my last post—which now has a name: herringweave.

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on election day we tuned in to the race around 11 pm and watched til well past 4 am, which gave me ample time to cast on and make great progress on the largest part of the back piece. i could hardly sleep afterward, so i was up early on wednesday and at it again.

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while i have much too much to do and cannot spend a whole day knitting, i was able to make very good progress at knit night and afterward, so that tonight, i have a shot at finishing up that big back piece. after this, i just have the sleeves and they tend to go fast—especially when the finish line is in sight!

and i have to say that after all that knitting, it feels good to have accomplished something tangible, and to have gotten my thoughts in order so i can get some work done (though i will need more, heh).

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look what barb knit to go with that cardigan—a matching skirt. isn’t it adorable? the idea was to make a suit that is comfy and easy to wear all day. she’s going to knit a cardigan to go with it, in a slightly lighter shade of kent DK.

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this week, a couple of the orchids started putting out new flower shoots. they’ve been making now roots for a while, but these are definitely stalks.

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and at the same time, the “summer squash” plants that are usually well dead for months by this time are continuing to flower and fruit—this is a first for us, but i’m grateful.

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i love this photo of ripening cherry tomatoes surrounded by a frill of dried leaves and stems—you can tell they are just about bursting with juice; how does a nearly dead plant do that?

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nearly every night it gets almost cold enough to frost, but so far, it hasn’t. it was pretty nippy yesterday afternoon so i picked every last possible pepper and eggplant to avoid losing them all (they keep for weeks in the fridge), but when i woke up, i saw that not a plant was touched. hunh. don’t get me wrong; i am happy for the garden to put out as long as it wants; i am hoping that this year will be like last year, when we were still picking greens in january. as it stands, i’m pretty sure we’ll be bringing some fresh produce to my mom’s for thanksgiving.

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now i bet you are dying to know who won the hardcover copy of a hat for mrs. goldman, aren’t you? first, thank you all  SO VERY MUCH for sharing your beautiful, funny, touching stories about learning to knit; we read through every one with excitement and many tears in our eyes. it really made our week super special, thank you.

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and thanks to Random House Children’s Books as well for offering the giveaway copy of this book. which was won by jani M! congratulations jani; i have emailed you to make arrangements for receiving your copy.

ok, it’s late and i need to get some knitting done before i hit the sack; i will be back soon. an TGIF, right?

keep them coming!

anne wrote this around lunchtime:

oh wow, the flood of learn-to-knit stories to our email box this morning has been fantastically touching, charming, and a true testament that all over the world, knitters at least, still find common ground. thank you SO much!

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i learned to knit from my grandma and my mom so long ago that remnants of my first projects probably do not exist. but i do have this gorgeous scarf which was david’s first project, and which hangs on the back of my desk chair, where i can reach for it any time i need to feel warm.

david was taught to knit by my our dear friend kim3 as a surprise for my 49th birthday. you can read more about this gift in the blog i wrote back in 2009. i’m going to try to convince david to write just a little bit later today about learning to knit.

if you haven’t done so yet, drop your own comment at the end of sunday’s post to be included in the book drawing.

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golden cozies

anne wrote this in the wee hours:

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fall color came on a little later than usual this year. we didn’t see much of a foliage display at rhinebeck and even after we got home, the leaves clung stubbornly to their summer greens—fine with me, since the weather was also miserable and it was not worth a look out the window.

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but this past week, they have offered a truly spectacular change and with sunny, warmer days, my very favorite color combinations were painted across the sky. i just adore that vivid contrast of orangey gold against a sky so blue, it appears almost purple. it makes my heart beat fast just thinking of crisp air and sun, cozy knitted sweaters, and cable-y goodness.

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perfect then, that my current projects are all-fall, all the time. my secret projects are so huggably soft and squishy and full of fall fun, that it’s a daily battle to keep them to myself. thank goodness i have this twill and cable cardigan on the needles to share.

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the current project is the cardigan version of that twill pullover i knit back at the end of the summer (above), in kent DK color mussel shell.

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while the pullover is man-sized, this prototype is my size—and not just because i coveted one for myself, but also so that i could make sure that the cables would fit and look right on a smaller canvas. i think they look fine, but they won’t fit on a size smaller than this, especially where they converge at the shoulder.

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i finished the left front last night and started the right front this morning; between my morning class and watching the shop while erica had a day off, i’ve completed about six or seven inches. i love my fingering weight sweaters to pieces, but it’s always fun to knit one in a heavier weight because it goes so fast. plus, i don’t own a sweater in kent and i’ve always wanted one; this one will not become a shop sample, haha.

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i’m knitting the cardigan in the same kent yarn, but this time using the driftwood shade. oh, the lusciousness. as you can see from the photos, this color has a wonderful mix of gray and brown romney fiber and the underlying white merino really allows the glossiness of the longwool to highlight the cables. it’s soft and squishy and delicious, sigh. i think this will be vary quick knit . . .

well, actually it has to be; we need this sample for the fall/winter ensemble, which we will be photographing at the end of the month. no problem; i am in a “making” mood since i got home—a symptom of fall nesting or cocooning or whatever we want to call it.

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i know most people have put their gardens to bed for the year, but i just can’t do it yet—ours is still producing so much abundance—even the zinnias are still flowering. and anyway, let’s be honest—that’s a job that david will probably do, so it’s up to him to decide when.

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but i think he agrees that as long as we are picking stuff, those parts of the garden stay. the fall garden certainly looks a lot different than the summer garden did, but is no less beautiful or productive.

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it’s true that our okra grove has finally dropped most of its leaves and stopped producing pods—really, just in time since they were getting so tall that i could barely reach high enough to pull the tops down to get at the okra, haha. i think they stand about seven feet tall right now. i’m wondering if they will dry and harden enough over the winter to use for a pea fence next spring (or support some other vining plant) or do they get mushy and weak when they freeze? they are certainly spaced evenly enough that with little string or light fencing material, they’d be a very pretty support. i’ll have to consult with mister knitspot.

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our greens are nothing short of astounding—the chard is as beautiful this week as it’s ever been and so prolific.

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all the asian greens i experimented with are also producing beautiful, crisp leaves and stems; if only i could keep up with them enough to pick them at their peak and use them in every meal. sadly, i don’t have time to cook every day (oh, how i wish!), nor am i cooking for a large dormitory of lumberjacks, so we just can’t seem to make a dent, haha. but i do make an effort to use them often.

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and the black kale is just loaded with leaves, ready every day of the week to be part of our supper. i’ve made several batches of soups and things, but i’ve yet to make kale chips with it. i’ve got that on my list, for whenever i have some free time this week. i’ve heard that this type of kale (lacinato or cavalo nero or black kale) is the best for chips. i know i love it best and i don’t grow other types any more because i favor this one for the types of dishes i cook.

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we also still have loads of great sweet peppers; i’m kind of playing weather chicken with them this week because i want them to turn the maximum redness and sweetness, but also because once i pick them, they will need a spot in the fridge.

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same with the eggplant, which are still flowering for heaven’s sake. and while the fruits are smaller at this time of year, they are for the most part, still very beautiful, though even more susceptible to the effects of frost. i know i should pick the more delicate vegetables this weekend; today it was 34 degrees when i woke up and bret’s roof was covered in frost. but our garden is rather protected and everything out there was fine. still, the day is coming . . . and soon, i know. it is, after all, november. sigh, i can’t complain; we’ve been incredibly lucky this year.

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i mean, i am still cooking heavily with ingredients that i picked within hours of preparation; it doesn’t get better than that.

and for sure the greens will last a while, even after the frost. the kale will actually be even better and the chard—well, we were still picking fresh chard in january this past year, so i’m hopeful we’ll be as lucky this year. hard to tell with the winter predictions being so dire, but maybe we will even experiment with covering them or putting up some sort of hoop house.

oh man, let’s get back to a warmer subject, haha!

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i had a chance or two to wear my dock and cabin cardigan at rhinebeck, having attached the buttons late on the night before we travelled. and i love the way it feels; it will be even better once it’s broken in.

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but for now i’m keeping it as pristine as possible til after the ensemble photo shoot. this weekend i’m working on getting the pattern out to the tech editor for sizing.

but my friend nancy planted a seed—well, actually, she out and out told me—that this cardigan fabric would be perfect for a blanket design as soon as i had the time to write one. and as soon as i read her comment, i knew she was right—we do need a blanket in this fabric; i love this idea. only in stone soup DK weight, softer and squishier to knit on bigger needles.

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yes, like this, yum. i knit these swatches in river rock (front) and slate (back) right around the time we went to the michigan fiber show, so they are all set; i just need to put a pattern together and figure out how to get a sample knit. maybe my next project? it’s been ages since i knit a blanket but i suddenly have a desire to do one and maybe that would be a good project to travel with over thanksgiving. if anyone else wants to test or sample knit this one, let me know; that will give me a goal for getting the pattern ready.

i think the twill and cable fabric would make a great blanket, too . . . just saying’.

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i missed buying a copy of nora gaughan’s new knitted cable sourcebook at rhinebeck, so when i got home i ordered a copy. wow—this arrived right at the perfect time of year, just when my attraction to cabled fabrics is at its strongest. there are some wonderful new stitch patterns and panels in this book—look for some of them soon in my knitting.

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i was sent a review copy of this adorable picture book—a hat for mrs goldman—from Random House Children’s Books and i want to share it now because some of you may have a young knitter in your life who will appreciate receiving a copy.

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it’s a wonderful illustrated story book about the bonds that form when a child learns to knit from someone they love. i won’t show you lots of pages as i usually do, because it would give away the story in this case, but it’s very nicely done. i’ll be sharing my copy with my nephew amad, who is learning to knit now; he reads well above the age level for this book, but i think he’ll enjoy reading it to micah.

and lucky for us, sterling has offered a giveaway copy of a hat for mrs. goldman to our readers! if you’d like to win a copy, leave a comment at the end of this post telling me who taught you how to knit. i will close comments on tuesday night at 9 pm EST—a little gift for getting all of us through election day without killing someone, haha.

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and with that, i think the sun has set on this post; see you again soon!