Saturday, July 14, 2018

Lazy days of summer

I hope I never cease to be delighted with the ebb and flow of life - from a full slate, to an empty one.  From days when there to-do list is there and waiting to be addressed, to other days when the hours stretch before me, waiting to be filled. 

Once upon a time, late in June, I began a blog post this way.  And then I remembered that I had a webinar on the fascinating topic of European Data Privacy Laws to watch while I knit.  So I tidied up my computer desktop, setting the post aside for completion after the webinar, reached for my knitting, got logged into the webinar ....

And got a chat message.  Did I have time to help out with a project?  Of course!  So, keeping an ear on the webinar and an eye on the chat window, I learned about the new project.

And then my phone lit up.  Could I possibly help out with a few tasks?  Of course!

And the blog post quietly faded into the background.  I think it lived in a browser window for three or four days before I laughed and closed the window.  My days ebb and flow, and I delight in them ... and it's definitely been a flow lately.  (Literally  AND figuratively.  Flows with External Resources, or Quick Actions and Process Builders invoking Flows, anyone?)

A quick recap of the past few weeks:
  • The counterpane is progressing.  I'm on square 37, and have decided to take a break after square 40 to knit a Print O' The Wave Stole.
  • Tomatoes and Cucumbers and Kale and Swiss Chard are delicious, fresh from the garden.  I have an oil trap for the earwigs (sardine tin + olive oil.  Dump and refill as needed) and they're not decimating things too badly.  More like vigintimating.  
  • I'm learning lots of lovely Salesforcey things.
  • I spend much of my day being officially helpful to others.  (Yay!)
  • Spraying the town for mosquitoes kept things mosquito-free for about 3 days.  And I wish I  knew what the non-mosquito bites I have are!  
  • I've been going on a few bike rides here and there. I hope to head out on one this afternoon.
  • Cinnamon blondies are delicious.  
  • Cinnamon blondies are cooking on the stove now.  Gotta run!
Quick picture ... Calendula Tea steeping

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

You know that eventful things are happening in my life when I lead off with a picture of hard water scale.
Hard Water Deposits ex Tea Kettle

I've never had such a large deposit break off in one piece before!  It was exciting. 

Vest - in progress
The vest is now completed, and the pattern spreadsheet is ready for one last reality check before I start plugging numbers into the pattern and polish it up a bit.  The vest, in keeping with a Bavarian Twisted Stitch theme, uses a lot of twisted stitches -- including double decreases: left, right, and center.  Some unventing happened to execute those decreases, and Cast On's tech editor had a fabulous way to describe their execution.  (Wish I would have thought of executing them that way!)

As I was about to sew the last seam on the vest, my Ott Light died and bad ballast-y death.  Yesterday, black yarn arrived for a test knit.  Guess what's on my shopping list for today?  A good floor lamp.

Another thing that arrived in the mail earlier in June was a set of HolstGarn Coast color cards.  Sigh.  There are SO MANY colors I'd love to knit up a sweater in.  I propped the cards up next to me so I could contemplate them while I was knitting. Maybe I should run a poll ... Take a look at The Yarnery's offerings and report back in the comments (or colors) which color you like best.

The garden is growing by leaps and bounds, and I really need to get out and spend some time weeding and training a few vines when it is a) not raining and b) too windy for mosquitoes.  The turnips need thinning; kale and chard are making their way onto our dinner table regularly.

Must run ... mom's taxi duty calls.

Friday, June 01, 2018

We interrupt this blog absence to bring you a post

Summer has arrived with a wee bit of a vengeance, and my garden needs work.  Today has enough a breeze that I think I can get some weeding done without being eaten by mosquitoes.  They were out in droves, swarms and several other groups yesterday!

Much knitting has been happening.  And I even have photos!  I worked on some projects to demonstrate yarn dominance.  Does it exist?  Is it a figment of some knitters' overactive imaginations? 
A Pair and a Spare and a Sock
 Assuming that the analysts will grant that the samples were knit by a competent knitter and do not suffer from tension problems, I think the projects show that yarn dominance is indeed A Thing, but is more of A Thing with some patterns than others.  I began my little experiment with the leg of the sock, and quickly discovered that carrying my yarns willy-nilly didn't produce the atrocious results I was looking for.  If you look closely at the sock, you'll see that the band of diamonds DOES have some black diamonds (the rightmost two) are a bit smaller than the others visible in the band.  And there's a bit of kettle-dyed effect going on, where the red darkens in patches. 

Except the yarn isn't kettle-dyed.  It's as solid as Brown Sheep can make their lovely Wildfoote sock yarn solids.  I switched to another pattern, hoping for worse results, and got them -- but only upon careful inspection.  So, another project was called for.  Norwegian Mittens! 

After my somewhat failed sock sample, I decided that yarn dominance fails probably stick out best when there's a yarn dominance success story to compare it to -- so I worked up a pair of mittens with white dominant, and then launched into a third that begins with green dominant, and switches to 'whatever' after the thumb gusset is set aside. 
The Pair and a Spare in a Tea Shoppe
Sitting in a local tea shop on a hot day with a workbasket and some mittens to finish ... what could have been more delightful?  Can you tell which mitten is the spare? 

The May mail brought me a cardigan.  I had to put it on right away, to make sure the sleeves were as long as I had thought they were when I mailed it off to the designer.  They were!  I thought I'd have to set it aside until October, but we had a few cool days that allowed for its wearing. 

Grace: The Cardigan
In other news, our dog - like all canines, and indeed, like all people - is getting old.  He has a limp - unless it's possible to have more than one limp, in which case I'd give him 2 or 3 of them.  Arthritis in spine, hips, and shoulders, plus some neuropathy in the hind end, and we're not sure how much longer he will be getting around.  He still loves going on walks, and prances like a puppy for the first 30 yards or so, before settling in to whatever gait works that particular day.  When we were up at my mom's, he made several slow treks around the yard, catching up on the smells, before heading off through ditch and cornfield to see what he could find over in the woods.  He found a minivan with someone who stopped to see if the poor doggie was lost!  His new best friend!!

Quality of life?  He's got it. 

A friend asked for a photo of the counterpane progress, so I took a break from knitting it to get the 28 completed squares sewn together.  Voila!

I'd be roaring along on that, but another project cropped up with a deadline, so I cast on for a vest.  I knit up some swatches, made some gauge calculations, plotted out how many stitches to cast on, considered the increase after the ribbing, didn't like my figures, changed them, cast on, still didn't like the figures ....
and after a decent interval, pinned it out and took a photo.  Because photos lie MUCH less than the actual swatch does.  It's knitting, you know, and knitting stretches.  This photo is NOT of a 40" vest.  So I left it pinned out (because otherwise, I would convince myself that it was 40"), recalculated, re-cast on, and am merrily sailing away up the back of a vest.  

If I weren't, I'd probably be knitting a Nattroje in HolstGarn's Coast.  Or Frangipani's Falmouth Navy. Or .... so many ideas, so little time!  I've got some lovely skeins of yarn marinating in the stash, too, that should be lovely finished projects.  But one thing at a time.

Today's thing:  Vest + Weeding.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

One week into summer ...

We seem to have gone from winter to summer, and now back to spring.  During the lovely warm spell, much yard clean-up happened, and the garden was planted with tomato and pepper seedlings, and beans and  cukes and turnips.  The kale and chard that I planted earlier, along with volunteer dill, calendula, and maple seedlings, are up. 

The maple seedlings are being pulled up.

Yesterday I spotted a hummingbird, and put out the feeder.  Today I saw an oriole.


Same oriole?  Or another one?
At supper today, there were 5 male Rose-breasted Grosbeaks jockeying for position.

I finished the sample knit and got that mailed off, put together all the counterpane squares I had, knit #29, and have started in on another sample knit. In the SysAdmin world, I'm trying to learn more about how TransFirst works from the merchant end of things. There's always something to learn!

And, happily, always something to knit. 

Thursday, May 03, 2018

May is coming in like a Cheetah

Whoosh! Just when I think that my days are going to lapse into quietness, and I will need to be disciplined so that I don't fall into sloth, something drops into my lap.  Usually followed by several other somethings.  Believe it or not, I said "No" to a new enterprise this week.

Really.  And no one twisted my arm, either.  There is hope for me.

Because things were slow, and because Certain People have been dangling lovely sweaters in front of my virtual eyes, I ordered some yarn so I could swatch for knitting up sweaters at fine gauges.  The yarn arrived (oh, and the needles arrived too.  14" stainless steel skewers at 2.0 and 2.15 mm. If anyone uses them for kebabs, they will need to replace them with shiny new needles.  At $1 and $3 a set, it won't hurt the pocket too much.)    And because I'm adventurous, I enlarged a photo on a website and attempted to knit a star motif from a photo.  The first half came out nicely, but different from what I was planning on, so I switched to a new pattern.  Hey, it's a swatch!

Swatch (HolstGarn Coast, 2.25 mm)
And it'll do beautifully for 'fine gauge.'  The swatch is 26 stitches across. The yarn comes in EIGHTY EIGHT colors!  I'm going to have so much fuuuuunnnnn.  After the Counterpane.  And Project C.  I finished the first iteration of it, but blocked gauge isn't cooperating so I'm reknitting the whole thing.  It should be done by Saturday. 
Meanwhile, summer is happening outside.  The plants are jumping out of the ground to catch up with the season.  I didn't have fresh mint for May 1st (although I could have gotten enough for a cup of tea had I snipped just about all the new growth I could find), but there will definitely be minty goodness for Mother's Day.  Here is what part of my patch looked like on May 2nd. 

Mint, May 2nd
Lupine, May 2nd

My computer work has picked up significantly, and in another sphere of life I've learned I'm developing a new program (it's important to read e-mails you're copied on all the way through until the end.  One never knows what one will learn about one's activities), and when a friend's life calms down a bit, the two of us are developing yet another new thing. 

And Filius' life has gotten busy too.  Jury duty AND interviews (2!)  Will there be lazy days of summer this year?  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018


I have still not managed to make my iPad talk to my computer about photos. I've started to use my camera instead. THAT syncs nicely by putting the card into my computer. Poof, photos. Weather is still an amazing thing around here. We went from blizzard with roads closed on the 15th, to sunny and bike rides in short sleeves on the 22nd. My blood is thinning already, and 55 seems cool. Last week, it was warm.

Some pretty photos from the snowy weekend ...  The bird feeders were VERY popular with our feathered friends, and I simply do not have the skills to do them justice.  There was an incredible variety of birds at the feeders, including a Fox Sparrow couple and a bird I have yet to identify -- somewhat like a Worm-eating Warbler, but the size of a chickadee. 

Three cardinals
Filius' Car
Shoveling the Driveway
Minnesotans in rural communities usually have connections to the farms in the area.  And when one has farm toys to play with ... why use a hand shovel?  Our neighbor's driveway -- make that neighbors' driveways -- are usually cleared with something akin to this, or a Bobcat with a plow attachment, or a John Deere tractor with a snowblower/plow set-up.  The others use snowblowers.  Our snowblower hasn't been cooperative of late, so we tend to get our exercise clearing the driveway.

With the passing of winter and the onset of spring, it's time for spring yardwork.  Willow trees shed, and for the next few weeks we'll spend some time each week raking up sticks from under it, putting them in our collection of trash cans, hauling them to the town compost on Saturday, and repeating the procedure.  Yesterday we cleared the garden bed immediately under the willow tree and have 150+ gallons of sticks to dump, plus some piles ready to put into the cans when they become available.  There are Lily of the Valley, tulips, columbine, daffodils, and irises peeking up already.  Bleeding heart, hostas, and the crocus have yet to make their appearance known.

Next to the house, some Lupine is definitely anxious to see some sunlight. I removed the white collar from around the plant clump so it'd have space to spread out -- then remembered that the rabbits and chipmunks LOVE Lupine, so I replaced it around one plant.  It'll be fun to see where the Lupine has spread to this year.  My mint has some teensy leaves, and the oregano was more than ready to be uncovered from it's blanket of leaves and gravel from the plows.  (Snow plows, that is.)

A few weeks ago, I came across Tea Eggs on the internet.  Anything with 'tea' in it catches my attention, so I looked into it further and decided to make up a batch.  They're easy, and definitely turn hard-boiled eggs into a conversation piece.  I like the inside of the shell better than the egg itself for appearance.  The appearance changes more than the taste -- but I may still make them again.  
Chinese Tea Eggs
And I've actual knitting content!  Here's the blocked shawl from last week's blog entry.  Canis helped me block it by laying down on it.  ARGH! 
A Hap for Harriet

I'm now working on the sample knit I spoke of last week, but just have to share the chiastic structure which happened to my knitting last week.  I was offered a sample knit (A), and accepted it, and the yarn was put into the mail.  The next day, I was offered another sample knit (B), and accepted it, and the yarn was put into the mail.  And I said to myself, "I'll probably hear from C tomorrow with some knitting work."  C was early, and the e-mail popped into my inbox 3 hours shy of the next day.  C's knitting work was electronic, so I got started on it the next morning, and finished it up the day the yarn for B arrived.  Project B was in the final rows when the yarn for Project C arrived.    A B C C B A.  Chiasm!  Or in computer-speak, LIFO.  Last in, first out.

As if I don't have enough knitting going on, my friend Beth's Patreon posts this months have been about Danish NattrΓΈjer, and I am itching to knit one or more at a delightfully fine gauge.   (Counterpane, Carolyn.  You're knitting a COUNTERPANE!!!)  So I ordered some yarn for swatching, and some smaller-diameter needles for use with my knitting belt.  Fun fun fun!

Oh, I know!  In the past, I've had a yearly theme to my knitting -- The Year of the Sock, The Year of the Mitten...  I should do a The Year of Beth's Patreon!  Whatever she posts about in one month, I can knit up the next.  That would be so fun.  AFTER the counterpane is done.


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

More April snows

The projected winter storm hit as projected, and was significant enough to get elevated to Blizzard status and cancel church services.  Unhappily for my sugar consumption, I'd made treats for our fellowship time after church and had an abundance of salted nut bars and chocolate molasses chews.  Willpower for opened treats in the house is not my strong suit.  Some yet survive in the freezer, though!

I took before/during/after pictures of our weather, and my tablet is refusing to upload them.  I'm giving myself 30 minutes to work on the upload, and you will know I was successful if this post has weekend photos in it. 

Today's winter storm got downgraded to a winter weather advisory.  School districts less than 30 miles from us are either closed or closing shortly, so I wouldn't be suprised if it got upgraded to a storm again.  It's currently snowing at a calm, deliberate pace.  And Filia is at work, 17 miles of country roads away.

So much for Minnesota weather.

In other news, I'm plotting to abandon Facebook and use a simpler platform called MeWe that has the delightful features of letting me choose what I want to see and in which order, and also no ads.  The only drawback is that lots of my friends aren't there yet.

Knitting-wise, I'm back to the counterpane.  A Hap for Harriet is completed and blocking behind me.  A sample knit is in the mail to me.  I've a pattern proposal to submit, and some new yarns to figure out what to do with.  Plenty of activity there, in other words.

New Felted Clogs

A Hap for Me, In Progress
Gardening isn't going so well.  Last April, I was busily cracking my shin on a wheelchair, bike riding, cleaning the yard, making nettle soup, and other such outdoor activities.  This April, the nettles aren't even up yet and cleaning the yard has involved shoveling snow.  I am debating whether to repot my tomatoes, or not.  Vir's tobacco seedlings haven't, with one exception, bothered to emerge from the soil yet.  My decision to direct-seed kale may not have been a good one.  The seeds aren't in the ground yet, at least!  But warmer weather is in the forecast, so perhaps there will be time to garden before the first frost.  To give you an idea -- to qualify for crop insurance in MN, corn can be planted no earlier than April 11th, and soybeans by April 21st.  It's the 18th.  Farm tractors still have snowplows attached to them, not plows, harrows, and seeders.  Fieldwork does not usually include bulldozing the snow off the field.  And oh, it's going to be muddy when the thaw hits.

Morning, April 13th

Morning, April 14th.

Morning, April 15th