Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Winter is Coming!

We have had a very warm November so far, but I fear my kale will meet its doom this week as the temps head downward into the teens by this weekend.  I am finishing up the last of my 'fresh from the garden and ripened in the basement' tomatoes today in a hearty black bean chili that is simmering on the stove for supper.  Fresh produce is soon to be a thing of the past, so it will be time to hit the larder or freezer for the stored soups and sauces.  I've been able - both because I've been home, unlike last year, and because it's been warm and without snow cover, unlike last year - to keep up with the leaves and sticks in the yard, so there should be a lot less work to do come spring.  Today, the leaves from the willow finally decided that perhaps it is time to succumb to the wind and leave the tree. 

On Saturday, I got a book.  It's all Cheryl and LaJuana's fault ... but I did put it on my wishlist, and my dear mum got it for me.  It's a craft that isn't knitting, so I am torn.  I'm a knitter, and could happily knit the rest of my life and not make everything that is beautiful and gorgeous and knit.  But there was this Facebook video, see, and they didn't know what the technique was (being in Turkish made the point a bit fuzzy for those of us who do not speak Turkish), and it was this utterly GORGEOUS needle lace ... Mediterranean Knotted Lace, to be precise ...
From the cover of Mediterranean Knotted Lace

and I fell in love with it.  Now I am juggling learning needle lace with knitting.  I am competent at one of them, and it's not the needle lace. There's quite a contrast between knitting a shawl with worsted yarn held double, and making knots with size 50 crochet cotton.

Fat yarn, skinny thread

My First Attempts at Needle Lace
Until next week!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

On a beautifully bleak November day

On this bleak November day, before some torrential rain hits, I have a beautiful home day to sit and knit.  The commission is moving along nicely (after the necessary gauge swatches) and I have no pictures.  I sent off a design submission this morning, and am generally having a grand time with knitting.

With writing up material for a knitting class, not quite so much.  It is SO much easier to show someone a technique in person than it is to explain it in writing, especially given the wide variety of knitting methods.  Latvian fringe is something that I've been doing off an on for around a decade, and there are still fiddly little things that I learn about it when I put my mind to designing a swatch in which to learn the technique.  I've gotten two of three swatches for the course knit, and directions written for them.  Next up is to knit them from the directions and fix the directions so that they work!  After that shall come the difficult part -- communicating the 'how this technique is done' in writing.  I hope to snag a child to take some pictures for me over Thanksgiving break.  It is very difficult to take pictures of one's self while knitting.  Although perhaps, with that knitting belt....

Filia and I had a nice time together on Saturday.  She got her test taken, found out she passed it with LOTS of room to spare, and we found the Fiber Festival with no problem.  On the way, we found a little place in a small town that had specialty coffee, tea, soup, sandwiches, smoothies, baked goodies ... and promptly decided that would be a lovely place to have lunch.  Mmmmm!  We managed to make it out of the festival without buying anything, more due to willpower and not having any specific projects in mind than due to the lack of things to buy.  There were some gorgeous yarns there.  And fibers.  And tools.  And books. 

Yesterday saw me driving Mom's taxi and getting not exactly 'lost', but not exactly following the path Google Maps planned out for me in Minneapolis.  Filia had a good interview, then we headed back home for a class (her) and teaching a class (me).  After class, I headed to my mom's house to pick up my pooch, who I learned had a Very Full Day.  It went something like this:
  • 7:30 AM Begin hunting rabbits
  • 11:00 AM Come inside for a drink of water, short nap, and lunch
  • 12:00 Go outside to continue hunting rabbits
  • 4:40 PM Come inside for a drink of water before going home.

Pooped Pooch
He'll have another chance to explore there on Friday.  Mom says her dog had a hard time getting off the couch this morning. They keep each other in good shape! 

Knitting plans for this week are to finish the commission - perhaps by Saturday, but that may be pushing it.  I'm chewing over what sort of goals I ought to set myself, and starting to think about Christmas music for the harp and piano.  And having children home for Thanksgiving, and Christmas break, and homemade caramels, and hot spiced tea, and .... many good things ahead. 

Until next week,

Thursday, November 05, 2015

For want of a nail ...

Right about now, I should be working on a new commission, but it's really hard to do that when the yarn didn't arrive.  The local post office is still working the bugs out of teleporting packages.  So, tomorrow around 1:30, I shall float off to the post office, collect a box of yarn, return home with all deliberate speed, and cast on.  Probably for a gauge swatch, alas. 

That means that today, I can tidy up loose ends in preparation for immersing myself in delightful knitting.  Some of that tidying involves writing a blog post, which was not written yesterday because I was clearing the knitting decks off so as to be ready to KNIT today.

It's been a rather eventful week, in a small sort of way, in our peaceful little town.  First off, I still have Live Plants growing in a Minnesota November.  Taking advantage of the opportunity, I picked some parsley and popped in front of the pellet stove to dry.  There's more room in my dried parsley container, so why not?  I still have fresh kale, too, but am not so nutty as to dry that. 

Earlier this week, tree trucks arrived and I began to wonder about the future existence of the tall pine tree across the street. 
Indeed, my thoughts were only too accurate.  The tree is now gone, as is the walnut further to the right of the photo. 
 On Saturday, the yarn for Filius' Jayne Hat, Attempt at the correct colors #2, arrived.  I picked them up on Tuesday after Bible Study (and a cup of delicious Coconut Curry soup with my mom, who did not have Coconut Curry soup).  Wednesday morning at 8:30 I hunted up needles and a pattern ...
 and at 10:30, I finished knitting the hat.  I collected the pom pom maker from the Closet of the Crunchy Mouse Skeleton at my mom's that afternoon, made the pom pom in the evening, and snagged a photo of the hat before sending it off to Filius via my Helpful Model and Filia.  Cunning, isn't it?  I think it looks like a candy corn.

The rest of yesterday - when I was home, that is - was devoted to my Latvian Mitten #2, in an attempt to finish off the knitting of it before today's Glorious Yarn arrived. 

Having finished the Latvian Mitten, and having no Glorious Yarn, I cast about for something Productive to do (other than weave in the ends of said Latvian mittens) and decided to tidy up my Ravelry projects page.  I went hunting for photos of my photoless projects, and got several taken care of.  One of them was my 2014 Clogs.   They are well on their way to being an excellent example of why we don't have much in the way of archaeological evidence about what the Common Man had that was knit 400-500 years ago.  Something about being well-used and used up. 

2014 Clogs

Random Scarf, Acrylic, with Bookcase

Unblocked Latvian Mittens, Graph 113, Upitis

The Other Side

Cheater Thumbs, with Elegant Mistakes

And finally, another picture out my front window.  You may notice there is a TREE there!  It's a curious thing.  The project updates mentioned that they were going to begin replanting trees this week.  Since there have been no trees in the boulevard strip on our property in (my) living memory, which stretches back 20 years, this was of no concern to me.  But yesterday morning (while working on the Jayne Hat), I noticed they were digging holes.  And yesterday afternoon, there was a tree laying next to the hole, and to the one further to the left.  And yesterday evening, in the pitch black, a crew came around and planted the trees.  Something else for Vir to mow around.  

Thanks to the stakes that were put in place yesterday, but which are no longer there, I know that the tree in front of the house is a Red Oak, and the one to the east is a Maple.  Other trees in town are Pin Oaks and Lindens.  

I also did a good bit of stealth knitting this week.  One commission - started, blocked, dried, seamed, reseamed due to perfectionistic tendencies, and mailed off - and one nice bit of travelling knitting that should show up somewhere around Christmas.  

This upcoming week has an exam (for a job) and a job interview (for a different job) for Filia.  Mom's taxi drives again!  I'm looking forward to spending time with her, having quiet knitting time in the car, and detouring on the way home Saturday in order to get a knitting belt at the Fiber Festival in Hopkins, MN.  Next week, I just may have a report on it -- or I may put off playing with it until I get the commissioned knitting done.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Vernon Gansey, Day 24

There are a few ends to weave in, but otherwise ... it is done.  I like it.  I really like it.  I am pretty sure I will need to knit another gansey, 'just for practice' once I get a little bit of experience with my knitting belt, which I hope to get on November 7th. 

Next up on the needles ... ripping back several rows on a Latvian mitten, centering the design properly, and finishing a pair of Latvian mittens.  Except for when the yarn (ordered yesterday) for a certain Jayne-style hat comes in, when I will be working on the hat.  And when traveling ... I have some yarn for a pair of traveling socks now.  And Wendy Johnson's Sanquhar Cowl, and Fair Isle Cowl, and Crazy Norwegian Cowl, are all calling me.  Loudly.  But ... the mittens get to be first.  And probably a class that I need to write up, too.  That has a deadline. 

Construction work is ... possibly done for the year?  Could it really be?  I arrived home yesterday to see, through the rain which started promptly at 4:00, JUST when the forecast said it would, shiny black streets in front of our house.  And this morning, the 8x4 plywood board that was covered with all sorts of workplace notices (the sort of thing that is normally above the water cooler, I believe) was removed from our front yard (which may have functioned like a water cooler for this project, slightly.  The yellow grass that was underneath it is getting happier by the minute.)  The only thing I can think of remaining is popping in whatever grass seed stuff they want to put down at this time of year.

Exercise in the cooler months looks to be quite doable.  One bike, one trainer (a sort of stand for the back wheel, so one can pedal away and go nowhere), and one good book seems to be all I need.  If I only read the book while I am pedaling, and manage not to curl up on the couch with it, I will get in plenty of exercise.  Good books are addictive! 

I received an e-mail from the college today, informing me that Filia is on their graduation list for this fall.  Six weeks from Saturday, as a matter of fact.  How the time has flown!  (insert proud maternal beam).  More transitions all 'round. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

With apologies to "If you give a mouse a cookie ...."

If a mom finishes her breakfast in peace ...
she'll want to tidy up the dishes.
And when she tidies up the dishes, she'll think about soaking the beans for tomorrow's meal.
And when she goes to soak the beans, she'll notice the bean soaking bowl is missing.
And when she mentally tracks it down, she'll remember there's fat from bone broth in it.
And when she remembers that fat, she'll pop on to Google to see what to do with it.
And when she's on the computer, she'll see a pretty picture of a gansey, and fall to dreaming about knitting.

But when she goes back in kitchen, she'll notice her tea cup is empty and head to refill it.
At which point she'll notice the beans on the counter.
And the laundry basket next to the counter.

And then go write a blog post before filling the tea cup, getting the laundry going, moving the fat into a jar, washing the bowl, soaking the beans, opening a new packet of beans to pop into the now-empty bean cannister...

And then reheat her cold tea.  

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Vernon Gansey, Day 17

Did I really call this a cardigan in my last title?  It's a gansey.  And a jumper.  And a pullover.  But not a cardigan.  That may be the next one, though.  It's moving along at a right proper pace, and I am pleased with it.  As always, I have planned it a big snugger than I wanted, and I am - as always - hoping that blocking will correct it.  There are all those nice cables and patterning to stretch out, you know.   The first 500g of yarn sufficed for the entire body, and I have no doubts that there will be leftovers sufficient for a pair of socks or a hat or mittens or all the above, once I finish up with the sleeves.

The sleeves won't get finished unless I get to working on them, though.  Sleeves are stubborn that way. 

 Construction work is still going on.  (Yup, still.  But there are rumors of an end looming next week!)  On Monday I was surprised to find out that there was going to be some natural gas work in our yard.  It was a nice change from the water main/sanitary sewer/storm sewer/street/sidewalk work going on along the south side of our property.  This was a one-day project on the west side.  I wonder if their diggings will also be reseeded as part of the Grand Project? 

Here's the view out our front window.  Sidewalks!  Level dirt for the street!  Dirt (black dirt) tucked up smoothly against the sidewalk, ready for seeding!  And the pretty white sidewalks all cleaned off after yesterday's dirt-dumping and smoothing.  Which makes me wonder why we, the populace, should keep off the sidewalks for 7-10 days after pouring (and we, to the hour, at the 7 day mark as I type this), while the construction guys have been using them since last Thursday and there were skidloaders or other tracked vehicles playing with dirt on them yesterday? 
Unique Fall Colors in Minnesota

While I was picking up sticks under the willow tree this week, I found some very pretty colors.  I couldn't resist bringing some inside to photograph.

One of my forthcoming knitting projects is a Jayne Hat for Filius.  After much ado, I got the yarn ordered.  Due to a glitch, I had to repick the colors from my computer monitor.  The yarn came in on Saturday ... and we decided that the colors were Just Too Wrong.  Filius found a blog post detailing a rather detailed person's analysis of the hat and appropriate colors, so I ordered those.  Once they come in, there will be a 6-7 hour hiatus from the gansey to get the hat done.  It'll be cunning. 

The garden has been taken in, with the green tomatoes stashed in the basement for nice, slow ripening.  I'm still enjoying fresh herbs and lettuce from the garden, as are the bunnies.  In a few weeks, the pace of life will slow down even more (pleeeeeease!) as the weather suggests that outdoor activities be curtailed. 

I just finished reading Captains Courageous, by Kipling.  It was an excellent way to spend 3 sessions on my indoor cycling trainer, and it's a wonder I hadn't read the book before.  Next up on the trainer is Ngaio Marsh. 

And now ... to knit!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Vernon Cardigan, Day 10

It's been a delightful week of knitting.  Filia and Filius will be home tonight on midterm break, and the construction work outside is moving right along, and I am feeling swamped with Bible Study .. need to figure out how to deal with that swamping.  It's a time management issue, I'm sure.  If only I wouldn't head off on all those bunny ...

LOOKIE!  A Knitting belt!

Ahem.  Yes.

Now that I have all this free time, I really should concentrate on learning something in a steady, organized  manner.  Maybe actually devote some time to reading the authors who inspired C. S. Lewis, perhaps?  (And what, get halfway through what he read in one year of before starting college between now and the time my mortal coil gets reskeined?)

No, let's be distracted.


Did someone say pictures? (No?  Well, pictures you get anyway.)

 I've been growing radishes in the spring for the past several years, according to the package directions.  If the bunnies don't get them, then they grow skinny and tough -- about the thickness of a pencil lead, and about as chewable as a nice piece of leather.  This fall, Filia planted some radishes before she went back to college ... and God blessed her efforts greatly.  Guess who gets to plant all the radishes from now on?  (That's a Nr. 2 pencil, about 7" long, Cherry Belle on the right and Purple Something on the left.)

Construction update:  On Saturday, the crews were busy going plink, plink, plink with hammers, putting out guides for the curb.  Come Monday, the cement trucks rolled in and the curbs became reality.

Today, at 7 AM, the forms for the sidewalks began to go in, and the cement started to flow just after lunch.  By the end of the day, it looks like our block will have SIDEWALKS!!!!  Not that we're supposed to use them for 7-10 days, while it cures ... but SIDEWALKS!  We're going to actually look civilized!

Speaking of civility, our water tower now boasts a nice fat white stripe between the tropics.  
And, if I'm going to name this post after my gansey, I should include a progress photo.  Last Wednesday evening I started the first cable row.  Yesterday, I finished up the half-gussets for the underarm and started working back and forth on the back.  I'm doing the back first since it has fewer design decisions than the front.  I calculate I have 2 days before I need to read up on how to do horizontal shoulder straps this way.