Being the continuing story of my creations and curiosities.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Broken Record

SunflowersIt seems that my ranting about the heat wasn’t all in my imagination. We broke the all-time record for hottest day ever yesterday! 34C (over 93F) at the airport (YVR, the “official” weather office) and it was 29C (84F) in our house at bedtime. Yikes. And it was a lot hotter still farther away from the water – although the hotspot in the province was Bella Coola – go figure. Wasn’t it just a short while ago that I was complaining about the 3 feet of snow? And how some of my plants had frozen to death? Some people are just never satisfied, huh? Good thing at least that we haven’t run short of water. Yet. Thanks to all that snow.

Guess there’s always the good with the bad and vice versa. Some things in my garden are doing better than they ever have before. Even if I have to drive myself crazy with the watering or they would just be burnt to little crisps and blown away in the breeze. After getting up at 5:30 am (thanks to a crappy night’s sleep) I spent the early morning blanching and freezing a huge bag of beans and getting some more zucchini ready to dehydrate into tasty chips. I picked some coreopsis (while narrowly avoiding sunburn) and finished up watering the whole garden, front and back. After getting the week’s laundry started and the bed sheets changed (sweaty nights do not make for pleasant repose), it was beginning to get much too toasty to consider any more domestic chores. So I spent the rest of the day lazing about on the clean bed with the big fan on me, knitting and reading. I think I deserve to rest on my laurels for awhile! Which reminds me. Fan-fan needs more water for its “swamp cooler” feature for which I’m very grateful. It’s back up to 29C in the house again and I break a sweat just getting up to go to the bathroom. Blech.

On a positive note, I’m nearly down to the toe on one of Milord’s socks and the other is just past the gussets. Getting there.

I think I forgot to mention that we went on Tuesday to see the Harry Potter movie. Perfecto! I liked it very much even if it does simplify the story considerably. Unfortunately the AC in the mall was broken (timing is everything!) so we didn’t get the nice chilling that we had planned. At least it wasn’t too hot in the theatre. Just to remind ourselves how much Daniel, Rupert and Emma had matured, we watched our copy of the Philosopher’s Stone last night. It also reminded us what a great movie even the first one was. Yeah, I’m a geek. So sue me. I would have adored having those books to read as a kid. Oh wait! I adored them as a grownup anyway!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I’m Melting, MELTING!

OK, enough already. We are nearly at record high temps for our area and I’m not liking it one bit. If I don’t get some serious stuff done around here by 9am it’s already too hot to even think about it. Can we send some of this sunshine back east for a couple of days and then they can send us some rain in trade? Pretty please? Just a little cooling off period? Preferably without the thunder and lightning? Don’t want much, do I?

With T-Man’s help with the watering yesterday (he had time off work), I did manage to get some cleaning up done in the veggie patch but that was only because it doesn’t get the sun until late morning. The chestnut and walnut trees and the garage are in the way and provide the shade:

JulyGardenLater in the day it’s been just baking out there. Some things are doing well though. See?

EdamameTeeny little edamame (green soy pods) for the first time ever in my garden. They are taking their time but I’m looking forward to tasting them. I’ve already got a huge bag of 5 different kinds of beans: burgundy, wax, green, Dragon Tongue (yellow with purple blotches) and runner in the fridge. I’m thinking I might have to blanch and freeze them because they don’t keep very long and I have Way Too Many. We’re also experimenting with the dehydrator that we’ve had for years and haven’t used for ages. T-Man made a batch of local sweet cherry raisins (yum!) and now we’re trying zucchini chips sprinkled with sesame seeds and seasoned salt. If the latter works well it could be a great way to reduce the overload of zucchinis. The drawback is the heat generated in the kitchen by the dehydrator running constantly for days on end.

Oh yeah – I wanted to show you some of my “bagged” grapes:

GrapesThe experiment in protecting them with mesh bags seems to be working so far. Unfortunately the naughty raccoon went for the water hyacinths in my water garden and chomped them up some instead! Bad bandit.

In crafty news, it’s mostly been too hot to knit much. My fingers stick to the needles. Ick. I’m much farther behind on projects than I thought I would be. I had plans to get some sewing and weaving done this summer too but the loom and sewing machine are upstairs in what feels like a dry sauna. Not happening until it cools down. Oh well. Nevermind.

In other news, I watched an online video on cabling from Berroco and Cirilia Rose is one of the few people I’ve seen who knits almost exactly the way I do. (Except for anchoring the cable needle and putting the cable stitches back on the left needle neither of which I bother with.) She holds her needles similarly and uses her left forefinger to lower the yarn for the purl stitch the same as I do. It was interesting to me because nearly everyone does it differently. I find it endlessly fascinating to watch others knit and crochet. Different means to the same end!

Gotta go. Bluet, my little netbook computer, is getting too hot on my lap! Even with the big fan full on me here in the coolest room on the main floor (the bedroom) it’s becoming uncomfortable. I’ll just sit here quietly and try to finish Milord Son-In-Law’s birthday socks for him. I want to get something done today! (Besides the vacuuming and the garden harvesting and watering which are already checked off today’s to-do list.) Here’s what they look like so far:

MilordTweedSocks_prog

No feet yet! Only legs. I’m working on it.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fire In The Sky

We went out to the quaint Maple Ridge Country Faire on Saturday. Last year I volunteered to demonstrate there but this year took a pass. It was very under-attended even though the organisers worked very hard to get the word out for this second annual event. The fibre building (air-conditioned, yay!) was nearly empty and I doubt any of the vendors (all 4 or 5 of them) made their booth fee back. So sad. The weather was stinkin’ hot with periods of thunder, lightning and rain and so not too conducive to the outdoor section of the fair. However I had a lovely time visiting with everyone and checking out the fair entries in produce, needlework, photography, children’s arts and culinary (melting!). T-Man and I also met up with Milady Daughter, Milord Son-In-Law and his mom. It was Milord’s birthday too so we all went out to a yummy dinner at a randomly-picked sushi restaurant afterward.

On the way home the thunder and lightning storm chased us all the way back into town. It was really impressive and went on for hours. The whole sky at sunset was the most amazing shade of brilliant orange. I’ve never seen it quite that impressive before and it eventually faded to ripe apricot with deep violet above. (Of course I forgot to take a photo.) The light was so unusual and apparently it was due to the storm coming in from the east. But the funniest part was when the second instalment of the fireworks festival went on at English Bay and right in the middle of the crash-bang there was a huge flash of lightning and the thunder rolled on for minutes! Kind of put the puny efforts of humans right down. Hilarious! Or it would have been hilarious if we hadn’t been trying to sleep at the time. Between the heat, humidity and noise it was a pretty impossible plan.

No I didn’t have Milord Son-In-Law’s birthday socks done yet. I’m at the heel turn now but the yarn and needles are sticking to me in the heat. T-Man is taking today and tomorrow off work (unpaid furlough) so we got a bit more yard work done than I can usually manage. This morning we did some weeding and I transplanted some little seedlings, harvested beans and cukes (which are coming in nicely now), and watered the whole thing. I’m so upset that my entire greenhouse full of tomatoes are seriously infested with a second coming of the nasty flea beetles. This time they are all the way up to the roof and making lace out of the leaves. Very depressing even though I’m finally getting my first ripe tomatoes. They didn’t set as much fruit as I had hoped and some plants not at all. It’s too hot for them. Man, it’s too hot for me too! It’s 27C (81F) in the house with the fan on and even hotter outside in the shade. I got a bit too much sun on my shoulders in the garden when I forgot the extra sunscreen. I’m not used to this! I will try not to complain because I will be regretting it in January when I haven’t seen the sun for months and everything is wet and cold.

I currently have an overabundance of beans and zucchini which are doing better than usual and it looks like the lemon cukes will be joining in. The peas are still providing though the plants look like dried-up sticks. As long as they’re coming I’ll keep them in because I don’t need the bed yet. Snap and snow peas keep quite a long time in the fridge too. The half-dozen broccoli plants are producing just enough side-shoots to keep us supplied. There’s new up-and-coming lettuce and little baby greens not quite ready to pick yet. I planted seedlings for more raab, cilantro, basil, lettuce and tah tsai (Chinese greens) where the potatoes, carrots and garlic came out and now the whole garden space is filled again. Yum!

I’ve been picking the blueberries and our early bush is nearly done. The later one is just beginning which works out very well. I’ve got quite a few bags in the freezer for winter breakfasts. The blackberries are just starting to ripen and we shared a handful today. If passersby are going to help themselves to the outside of the fence, at least I get the inside for myself. And some of the outside too if I can beat them to it! I’m also still picking coreopsis every other day or so and getting about a quart (or litre) at a time. I have a bucket full of fallen walnuts that are unfortunately not ripe enough for eating but good for dye. I’ll freeze them if I don’t use them right away. I’ve tried fermenting an experimental pail full of nuts and water to see what colour I can get from it after a few weeks in the hot sun. And last but not least, I cut off the woad seeds in the net bag. I saved a bunch but threw the rest in the garbage. There wasn’t quite enough to try dyeing with them unfortunately. The green leaves are looking ripe enough to try a dyebath though so maybe I’ll do that later this week.

Whew! I’m making myself hotter with all that stuff! I’ve got to get this very warm computer off my lap. T-Man is drying cherry halves in the dehydrator and it’s much too toasty in the kitchen too. Good thing supper is mostly leftovers tonight (zucchini! beans!) so I don’t have to hang around in there for long. Thinking cool thoughts…

Friday, July 24, 2009

Entertaining Myself

Since I still can’t move around too quickly (yeah, still dizzy) I’ve been amusing myself by knitting madly, reading blogs and queuing up things to make on Ravelry. It’s very dangerous having so much time to surf the patterns! Dangerous, I tell you. For starters, I so want to make this (Rav link). But first I have to blend, card and spin the yarn for it. Tell me why I keep falling for sweaters that need bulky yarn but only have lace weight and fingering/sock yarn in my stash? I want to have the fibres all carded up at least before I go on vay-cay at the end of August. I can bring Tori The Traveling Wheel with me and work on the project in camp. But first I have to feel well enough to go foraging in the fibre stash. Time’s a-wasting! (As my Auld Great-Uncle Tam would say.)

I ended up watering much of the garden myself yesterday because it was so dry and I just couldn’t wait for T-Man to come home. He did finish for me though. I also picked the first bunch of beans and we had them for dinner! Most of the veggies we had were grown in my garden (potatoes, carrots, beans, lettuce and snap peas). And there’s little lemon cukes coming now and the first tomato is almost ripe. Anybody want a yellow zucchini? Or several? I’ve been picking them quite small but I still have way too many! That’s what I get for having 3 plants plus 3 yellow pattypan squash plants as well. In my defence, usually several get eaten by bugs/slugs before they can produce. But not this year. I promise not to let any get too humungous – at least until we are gone. Then all squash will break loose!

I do apologise for the continuing lack of photos but the low light (cloudy) coupled with my inability to focus my eyes means the camera is not happening right now. OK, you ask – how can I still read? Dunno, but it’s possible as long as the text is big enough. And I’m going to stop typing now. I’m hoping to be able to go for a walk later with T when he gets home. Errands need to happen, such as I need my new glasses. And groceries.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Enough Already

OK now I’m annoyed! I’m even more dizzy today than yesterday. At least I accomplished a few things yesterday – today I’m just lying around feeling sorry for myself. And knitting. And I finished the Temeraire book. (Hope Naomi has written the next one! But even if she has, it’ll be several years before it’s out in paperback. Sigh.)

So yesterday I was feeling a bit better in the afternoon and I finally managed to make a new catcher bag for T-Man’s chipper/shredder. It was mostly sitting-down work and not too bad to do. I had some nylon mesh and used heavy nylon thread and a size 100 machine needle. I used a multi-zigzag to stitch some cording along the seams to reinforce and just cannibalized the original draw-cord and toggle to close it. I hope it works ok. The mesh is a little more open and the bag is about 8” shorter than the old one but it’s stronger. We’ve had the chipper/shredder for many years and it’s been very handy for dealing with all the tree and shrub prunings around the yard. It runs on gas instead of electric like the newer ones and is much more powerful. Unfortunately it’s also extremely loud! No muffler.

I also got some ironing done that I’d been saving up for a month. I now have some summer blouses to wear. Yippee! There’s still a pile of T’s summer shirts to iron yet. At least he has enough now to last him until next week or so. I actually enjoy ironing but not when it’s too hot upstairs in my studio where the ironing board is located. It wasn’t too bad yesterday luckily.

Today is much cooler and cloudy and I feel I should be transplanting some of my little seedlings while I can before it gets hot again. But my stomach is queasy when I get up so bending over is kind of out of the question at the moment. I’m going to have to bug T to water the veggie garden too. Hate to make him do it, but this time it can’t be helped. All I can hope for is that the Dizzies bug off soon. I never know when they’re going to happen nor when they’re going away again. It’s frustrating, let me tell you! The first time I got it, I never realised it would become a chronic problem. There is no cure but patience.

At least I’m getting along quickly on Milord SIL’s socks. I’m nearly done one leg and finished the cuff of the other. That’s about 25%. Respectable progress.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Easy

Today I have a return of the Dizzies for whatever reason. I’m laying low and taking advantage of the situation. OK, I already washed my two handwoven blankets and got them hung out to dry on an improvised clothesline. This is their Once A Year Wash! This is the only time of the year when they(especially the Circus Blanket) will dry within a reasonable amount of time. I’m a bit disappointed in the fact that it shrank a bit and the edges are wavy. Hopefully when T-Man gets home from work he can help me pull it out a bit better. It’s too big for me to handle alone! It weighs 8 pounds when dry and right now it’s even heavier than that with the water in it still. The Marigolds & Feverfew Blanket is much lighter (mostly plain weave instead of twill) and has been washed many times so it’s fine. Unfortunately the heavy Circus Blanket doesn’t agitate very well so likely I shouldn’t have tried to stuff them both in the washing machine at the same time. But I was impatient and my washer has a huge capacity. I’ll try to remember for next year.

Meanwhile, I started a new pair of socks (yes, I haven’t completed the last pair yet) for Milord Son-In-Law. His birthday is on Saturday so I probably won’t be done in time but I don’t think he minds. I’m using Lana Grossa Meilenweit Tweed for the first time. I like all this company’s other sock yarns so far and they wear well. This one is black with flecks of beige and tan. Very manly!

Yes, I will get back to my other projects. Eventually. Right now I need a mindless knit because a new 5-part Torchwood is on Space Channel every night this week! And then a Doctor Who special on Saturday, plus Tin Man is finally going to be aired beginning Aug 1. A super-overdose of sci-fi TV goodness! Glad we didn’t cancel cable TV now. It did cross our minds when we weren’t watching it at all there for a while.

And that’s not all! I also have the 5th book of Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series to read. If you haven’t discovered this one yet it’s kind of Master & Commander meets Sharpe meets Ann McCaffrey: the British fighting the Napoleonic war with intelligent dragons. Super-well-written too so don’t immediately pooh-pooh the idea. Apparently Peter Jackson wants to direct the movie version and I’m sure video games aren’t far behind. I like books best though. So much more detail and you can get into people’s (or dragon’s) thoughts.

In other news, I got a call from the optical shop and they broke my old sunglasses frames when trying to put in the new lenses! I get new frames free so it’s not a bad thing. Hope they are now done with both pairs of my new glasses because I need them asap. Especially the sunglasses. It’s going to get very hot around here by Sunday. What a summer so far! Almost makes up for the totally horrible winter we had.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Elaborations

I think it’s interesting the way a project can evolve. Even if you think you know what it’s going to look like when finished, sometimes it ends up with very little resemblance to that image. Case in point: Princess Pink’s Pinafore. I began with an order idea for a pink dress from the soon-to-be-five-year-old Princess. I used the invaluable pattern search on Ravelry to find a free pattern from Berroco for the Victoria sleeveless dress. Because the shop only had 5 balls of the Peony, I got a ball of Merlot to work a contrast hem and bodice. Then when I was nearly finished, I decided that it needed more oomph so I got a ball of Aubergine. When I’d finished the edgings, I had some yarn left so decided to embellish the front with a crocheted motif stitched on. Each step influenced the next. And here’s the final results:

Princess Pink’s Pinafore

clip_image002Begun: July 12, 2009

Completed: July 20, 2009

Yarn: Mission Falls 1824 Cotton, 100% cotton, 84 yds = 50 g, 5 balls 206 Peony (pink), 1 ball 208 Merlot (dk rose) and 1 ball 407 Aubergine (blue-violet). Have perhaps half a ball each Peony & Aubergine left and no Merlot.

Needles: Addi Lace 24” size 4mm and size 2.75 mm.

Hook: Clover Soft Touch 4 mm.

Pattern: Victoria child’s sundress from Berroco. Star: #144 from Edie Eckman’s “Beyond the Square: Crochet Motifs”

Comments: This was quite a quick knit/crochet though there were a lot of ends to sew in afterward.

I never did a gauge swatch but started right in with a 6 mm Denise needle and the Merlot yarn. But then didn’t like how it knitted (too sticky and too large) so reduced down to the 4 mm brass which slid along much better and gave me much closer to gauge. I worked in the round instead of flat pieces with a circular garter stitch hem beginning with a purl round and going 3 ridges tall. Switched to Peony and began st st and decreases at the same time. Switched back to Merlot at the same time as I switched to smaller needle. Began the bodice ribbing with one plain row to avoid purl bumps.clip_image004

I decided at the last minute to add the Aubergine for the crochet finishing. After a hunt through the Crochet Motifs book I chose the very last design. I slip-stitched the star in place and included tacking down the centre for security. It’s kind of 3D anyway!

Very pleased with the results and I hope the recipient likes it as well.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Disturbed

Since it’s lovely hot summer weather here (totally unusual!) I decided to get my behind outside early this morning and get some watering done before my brains cook. I didn’t do any but the tiny seedlings and the deck pots yesterday (actually T-Man did most of the deck pots) so the whole garden was Dry Yet Again. It wasn’t a particularly pleasant experience though because there was a lot of stuff going on around me: the neighbours across were fighting again (why doesn’t she DTMFA?), another neighbour was having her trees pruned with a huge cherry-picker and a chipper (she kindly warned me ahead of time), and the next-door neighbours had their new concrete patio painted with a stinky epoxy. Phew! Even with my earphones in and listening to podcasts, it wasn’t particularly pleasant to be out there on what should have been a lovely morning.

I did manage to get some more coreopsis picked. For the first year ever I can’t keep up with them! So T is happy as well because he gets his flowers and I get my dye. I still need to pick more blueberries and the raspberries on our new plants:

RaspberriesI have been able to keep up with the marigolds. There aren’t nearly as many flowers to pick. I grew these mostly from saved seeds:

MarigoldsThe really tall ones that I get are more immune to being decimated by the slugs. Guess because they are farther for the slimy creatures to climb up! I just love the contrast with the deep blue-violet lobelias. Much of my garden’s flowers are in the yellow/orange and blue/violet range. I just love those colours together. They vibrate.

Well, I went to the doctor’s yesterday afternoon to discuss an odd lump in my neck. Of course it had subsided a lot from the time I made the appointment. But it’s good to get things like that checked out. It turns out that it was a swollen lymph node due to the many bug bites I’ve been getting on my neck. Vampires in the night! Doc was surprised that I get so many bites in the city. We’ve already cleaned out the water garden weeks ago and destroyed the mosquito larvae in it. We’ve checked constantly since then. I’m not even sure it’s all mosquitoes and not something like no-see-ums as well. Whatever – I’m obviously delicious. I’ve got a new bite on my collarbone right now. I puff up quite badly too. No scratching, damselfly.

Meanwhile, I’ve been knitting peeenk! The 1824 cotton is a bit hard on the hands for an extended knitting session so I’m trying to pace myself. Though with a deadline of only a couple of weeks there’s only so much I can spread it out. I’ve also found 2 knots in one of the balls. Does not make me happy. You’d think commercial manufacturers could get a measly 84 yards without a honking join in it? Apparently knot…er, not. I’m going to have even more ugly ends to darn in than usual.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wasting Time Productively

I’ve recently heard (or read) several people lament that their loved ones are “addicted” to technology. Whether texting or playing video games, yakking on cell phones, watching too many videos or, spending too much time on the computer on social networking sites, googling or, er….ummm…reading blogs and hanging out on Ravelry, it can eat up hours and hours of one’s life. What would you be doing if your power was off and your batteries all dead? Would you be bored? Frustrated? Interesting question, huh? Try it. Turn off everything for 24 hours and see how you feel.

I have to admit that although I don’t Tweet or Plurk, do not have a Facebook page nor a cell phone and have no interest in any of the above, I still manage to spend way too much time on the computer and the internet. I can perfectly well amuse myself without those things but truth be told, I miss them if they aren’t available. Even my crafty stuff seems to need access to saved patterns, online information and design software. Technology has integrated itself into my life in a way I never would have believed possible. After all, when I was born the world was still black & white.

Speaking of black & white, one technological thing that has really decreased in my life is TV. I rarely watch it at all anymore. Occasional drama series, British mysteries, Doctor Who – and not much else. I don’t care for most of the current programming and we’ve even stopped paying much attention to the program schedule. For some reason they keep moving around and then cancelling anything I start to enjoy. When you go to bed at 9pm, you usually have to record everything you want to watch and it doesn’t always work the way you want. Very annoying. And it’s not like I could sit down anytime and just flip channels. So many channels; so much fluff and drivel. I’ve got better things to do. Such as write blog posts! And knit.

Speaking of which, Susan asked a while back if I will weave again. It seems like although I love the idea of weaving, the reality doesn’t grab my attention the way knitting does. At least at the moment. Perhaps it’s because I have to go up to the loom and can’t move it somewhere more comfortable. My studio is hot in the summer. Or because I have to wind a warp and thread the loom first before I can just weave and I haven’t made time for that yet. Besides, there are other things I’d also like to do that I haven’t done. That rag quilt I’ve been planning since last year. Or painting the bathroom and the front hall before winter. Never mind. Things get done when they get done. Or not.

Right now I have a deadline on the PP Pinafore. And I’m rather tired today so knitting is a good rest for me. I’ve been walking a lot this week and I have to go to another appointment this afternoon. Luckily it’s not too far. I’ll walk slowly because it’s going to be hot out there. I already picked the blueberries:

Blueberries Don’t they look yummy?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hand Dyed

HandDyed I was picking more of the coreopsis today and as usual dyed my fingers yellow in the process. Luckily it comes off (since I haven’t been mordanted recently!) except for my thumbnail that serves as a clipper for removing flower heads. However I did have a weird experience. I got a bug bite on my leg so decided to try T-Man’s “After-Bite” stuff on it. Then I touched the spot with my coreopsis-stained fingers and left a bright red-orange streak on my skin! Reading the label on the tube said the ingredients are ammonia (which turns yellow coreopsis dye to orange) and mink oil! How does this mixture affect bug bites? Beats me. Certainly affects the dye though. Backyard science lesson for today.

So yesterday I got really ambitious and finally decided to get new glasses. I’ve needed both new frames and an updated prescription for quite some time. It’s hard to get in to see my ophthalmologist (6 month wait) though if I had made an appointment when I thought of it, I’d have been in by now. But I didn’t and I finally decided I wanted instant gratification. I went to my optical where I’ve been getting my glasses for over 15 years and picked out a wild pair with wide temples burgundy red on the outside and bright orange on the inside with a square metal plaque and (gasp!) a jewel at each corner. The rims are metal and only on the top. The bottom of the frame is rimless. They actually look quite modern and fun. Guess I was in a flamboyant mood at the time, huh?

Of course I was still without an updated prescription for my progressive lenses so the shop made a quick appointment for me at the optician (sorry, optometrist) next door. How convenient! It only took about half an hour. Now I just have to wait a couple of weeks for my new lenses. Including my sunglasses which of course need my new distance prescription in them too. I’ll have to wear hats a lot in the meanwhile. Oh, and I also got my hair cut. Before I started trying on glasses frames. I wanted the effect on the “usual-super-short-haired” me, rather than the “hair-sticking-out-everywhere” me.

After watering everything in sight (again!) I decided I was tired of gardening and instead continued with the Princess Pink Pinafore. I have no idea if I’m going to have enough of the pink yarn but the design is such that I can add more contrast if I have to. It’ll just make it more interesting. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it! Here it is so far:

PPPinaforeAt least the texture makes it not quite so boring. More knitting necessary. I have a deadline to meet! At least I can knit and read at the same time.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Quiet Time

I always used to think of myself as an extrovert. I like people, am pretty tolerant of differences, enjoy conversation and don’t mind crowds. However, I discovered that I can’t do creative work in a group setting and after a lot of busy family or friend time I crave time to be by myself. It feels selfish but I want to move with my own rhythms rather than be subject to the whims of others. And I need to be able to hear my own thoughts without a cacophony around me. Or a bunch of interruptions.

Not to worry, T-Man fits in there just fine. He’s a fairly quiet person and, when he’s home from work, likes to go off and do stuff in another room or outside. We enjoy the time we spend together (because we are each other’s best friend) but we can also be together and doing completely different things at the same time. He’s not an extrovert either.

So I guess I’m pegged as an introvert. And getting more so as I age. That could explain why I gave up teaching (an extrovert activity) and am not as satisfied with classes or workshops that I’ve taken recently. I still enjoy guild meetings, hanging out with my Ravelry knitters and family get-togethers. But I’m happiest alone in my own little world of fibres and plants. Go figure.

Hmmm…could also explain why I’m more and more reluctant to travel away from home too. Though T and I have to go on vacation at least once a year because he doesn’t get a holiday if he stays home. He enjoys not looking at all the home repairs and such that are calling him. That leaves him free to see new vistas, read, walk, sleep in and generally recharge the old batteries. Even though a big part of our usual vacationing includes a lot of driving, he doesn’t mind. I’m very ok with our camping holidays and enjoy them as much as he does. Our old VW van is “mini-home” to me. But I’m always happy to return to my truly familiar space. And proper bathroom facilities, hot showers, laundry and an oven. We’ll be heading back to Utah’s red rocks in September this year. It’ll be fun.

Meanwhile, I spent a good 4 hours again yesterday in the garden. I harvested all the potatoes which began as a small bag of sprouted yellow fingerlings in the drawer. No idea of the variety. I got a half a bucket full from a single 6-foot row so I’m pretty happy with the increase. I’ve planted some mixed greens in part of the freed-up space which hopefully will give me some baby lettuce, mizuna and arugula before we go away. I also harvested the carrots even though they’re still quite small. I was reminded why I haven’t grown carrots much because most of them (even the Flyaway variety) have rust fly damage right in the middle of the root. The early ones I picked weren’t too bad but it got worse as time went on so I should have picked them all the the first time. The recommended coffee grounds didn’t seem to work that well but maybe it kept them away from the top section. Next time I’ll try mixing some in deeper in the soil. I’ve tried floating row covers in the past and they only managed to hold in the flies! Talk about unintended consequences. There was a reason that I went for years not growing carrots at all. I may go back to that if my efforts to thwart the evil flies and their even more evil offspring doesn’t pan out.

If you notice the lack of photos today it’s because it’s quite dark and cloudy out again. It’s supposed to clear up later with the same “sunny with cloudy periods” as the forecast for the rest of the week. I’ve started two new knitting projects (even though I still have two I haven’t finished yet) including a sweater for me and a sundress or pinafore (Ravelry link) for Princess Pink’s upcoming birthday. Hope I have enough yarn because I had to buy a contrast ball after I denuded the shelf of pink (#206 Peony, Mission Falls 1824 Cotton)! I guess I could always get another contrast ball (#208 Merlot) if necessary. It feels a little odd to knit with this nubby cotton and it took me 3 tries with different needles to get close to gauge. It didn’t slide at all well on the plastic Denise needles. I ended up with my usual Addi Lace circs in 2 sizes smaller than the pattern called for! Photos are coming soon.

The other item I cast on is a modified Stardust (Ravelry link) from one of those monster skeins of sock yarn I got in Spokane from Newton’s Country Yarns. It’s a lovely variegated green and at nearly a pound should be plenty. I couldn’t get gauge so I’m going with a larger size and will fudge the neckline decreases to hopefully compensate. I’m also attaching the “tie” sections down to the hem because I’m so not a bow person. I was inspired by my Ravelry knitting buddy nellum’s version (pardon the photo – I took it for her under the rare influence of a homemade beer!) Otherwise I never would have considered this from the pattern as written.

Off to pick the coreopsis! Again. I can’t seem to make a dent in them and picking the flowers off just encourages them to more production. Goody! Lots o’yellows for my yarn. Or oranges. It’s mutable.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Bamboozled

It’s nearly 29C (84F) and I was back in the garden today weeding, watering and splashing everything (including myself) with fish fertilizer. I smell like the tide went out! Our large bamboo that was damaged last year when our next-door neighbour put in the fence is now popping up all over the place with new shoots. It took the big loppers to deal with the biggest one that snuck up metres away from the main stems. Hope it’s haunting them next-door too. Just sayin’.

Speaking of bamboo, I finished my version of the Ishbel Scarf and here she is:

Bam-Boo-Bel Scarf

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Begun: July 1, 2009

Completed: July 10, 2009

Yarn: SR Kertzer On Your Toes Bamboo sock yarn, 75% bamboo/25% nylon, 328 yds = 100 g, 1 ball.

Needles: Addi Lace 24” circular, 4mm.

Pattern: Ishbel by Ysolda Teague, from Whimsical Little Knits, smaller size.

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Comments: Lovely little pattern which I managed to screw up in the plain area about 4 times. Last time I just picked up the stitch but it left a tighter area in the knitting. Won’t show while wearing though. I love how fast sock yarn knits up compared to cobweb lace yarn. I will make this one again I think. Meanwhile I want the matching beret and I have more than one ball left to do it with. Plenty. Might even be enough left for wrist warmers.

Meanwhile I’m carrying on with the Beaded Bias Scarf which is more than half done. I want to get that one off the needles so I can move on. Though I guess it’s kind of a perfect knit for this hot weather: small, knit on 2 bamboo dpns and in cool tencel yarn.

And speaking of bamboozled, I had a fun time looking after my neighbour’s house while they were away. Today one of the cats tried to escape and in catching her I managed to set off the alarm for about 3 seconds. I expected a call from the alarm company but when it didn’t come I figured all was well. Until I was putting away the hose (more watering) and a cop showed up in their back yard! I told him it was an accident and he gave me a hard time for not phoning it in. Then a short while after I got home I got a call from the neighbour who was finally home and wondering what happened because they had called them on cell phone and a cop (another one or the same one?) had been by. Yikes! It turned out the cats had knocked the upstairs phone off the hook! So that’s why the alarm company hadn’t called. They tried and couldn’t get through. I should have checked but how was I to know? I didn’t even know where the phones are located. Too much responsibility, I swear. I have enough trouble with my own house. Everyone survived though so I guess we’re ok. Did make me swear off getting another cat myself however. Pesky critters! Cute though.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Nary A Tire Track Or A Footprint

Yes, I survived yet another loooonnng (OK, only 4.5 hours) session with the grand-beasties. Successfully passed them off to their other grandmother and collapsed quietly with my knitting for awhile. They were really pretty good actually though I didn’t hear Other Grandmother at the door because Somebody was yelling in my non-augmented (aka deaf as I can be with no hearing aids in) ears. She had to phone me to get my attention! Which of course I was glad to provide. Here’s the kids; what’s your hurry; can I help strap them into their car seats?

It has gone back to summer here and, though the rain was really needed and was a pleasant change for awhile, I’m happy to see the sun back. It was freezing in the house for the last couple of days. Just watch. I’ll be very quickly back to complaining about all the watering I have to do again.

So since it was finally light enough to take photos, here’s my current main project, the Bam-Boo-Bel Scarf:

BamBooBel_progAs usual with lace on the needles it’s not very interesting really. I’m on Section C of the pattern with only 12.5 rows left to go to the end. Talk about a quick knit! Even including all the frogging I did in the beginning.

Now that it’s nice out again (with a bit of occasional cloud just to keep it reasonably cool) I have to get out in the garden. I have to pick this:

CoreopsisAnd then dry it to get this:

CoreopsisDryingCuriously all these plants were grown from seeds that I saved from the more red-based flowers last year. None of that colour variety showed up though there are a few with larger red centres and a plant or two with the “seashells” tubular petals. Interesting if failed experiment. Also there is this:

WoadSeedBaggedCaptive woad seeds! Just waiting now for them to dry out some more after the rain before cutting them off for next year’s plants. And the next batch:

Woad Looking just about ready for the first harvest very soon. And speaking of harvesting, I got about a pint of blueberries yesterday off the earliest bush which is loaded with much bigger berries than usual this year. I would have gotten a lot more but the grand-beasties were “helping”, with Princess Pink instructing her little brother to “only pick the blue ones, not the white or pink ones”. He quickly got tired of trying to pick them from the bush and picked greedy handfuls out of my container instead. I just love the way he calls them “blowwies”. That boy has more L’s than he needs! Too cute.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Sky Is Watering For Me

OK, now we’re getting somewhere! The rain is actually doing something useful though we still watered everything yesterday anyhow. It’s a great excuse to take a break indoors for a change. It’s cold in here! The furnace is off for the summer so it’s only 17C (63F) in here and I’m wearing heavy sweatpants and a sweater and two pairs of socks. What a change from just a couple of days ago when my eyeballs were melting while wearing nothing but a camisole and shorts.

So I’d like to answer a couple of questions that Anne left in my comments yesterday. The blocking mats are actually an interlocking mat system for utility rooms from either Rona or Home Depot. (Sorry I can’t remember which now.) Alternatives might be the play mats for kids that come in bright colours. I’m using the smoother underside because the top has a pebbled traction surface. The wires are welders’ TIG stainless steel rods from KMS Tools. Any welder supply should carry them. I got mostly 1/16” that are a little flexible and a few 1/8” that are stiffer in case I need those features. I just use regular ball-headed dressmaker pins to pin the wires out. The mat is in six 2-foot square segments so they can be combined in different configurations if necessary and then taken apart to store in a smaller space. Works a treat!

Anne also asks if this setup would work for non-lace garments. I think the wires wouldn’t be quite so useful since it’s much harder to thread them through solid knitting. Though I suppose you could do that if you were patient. And careful not to snag. They also don’t bend for tight curves, not if you want them to straighten out again. But you could designate some wires for special uses and shape them however you like, cut them shorter or whatever. They are cheap enough.

The mats are a perfect place to pin anything out and you could probably get all or most of a sweater’s parts on it, depending on size. The only other thing I could wish for is a measured grid pattern printed on the mats! I suppose I could buy some gingham or plaid fabric and spread that over the mats under the item if that was important enough to me. Maybe next time I go to a fabric store I’ll look for something cheap and appropriate. Unfortunately there aren’t any fabric stores near me so it’s a trip on the bus to find one. I thought about using a Sharpie pen and ruler to draw the grid on but sometimes the ink isn’t as permanent as you’d like. I’d worry about transfer to my precious lace. Meanwhile I just eyeball it or use a measuring tape and ruler for more accuracy.

I’m really glad I picked about 2/3 of the coreopsis flowers yesterday and deadheaded the marigolds before the rain set in. The marigolds are in the freezer (easier than drying them) and the coreopsis are attempting to dry on mats in the kitchen. They may have to wait until the sun comes out again to dry properly though. Meanwhile I’m stirring them often to prevent mould.

Still too dark to take photos. I have the lights on in the house to see what I’m working on! Now that I’m up to the lacy parts of the Bam-Boo-Bel Scarf (aka Ishbel by Ysolda Teague) it’s going much better than the plain section. It’s quite a holiday to knit lace with something as thick as sock yarn, I must say. I just might have to make more than one of these since they go fast.

Unfortunately nothing else is getting done around here. I have to babysit the grand-beasties yet again tomorrow. Their mom is in England visiting her grandparents and their dad seems to not be able to stay away from his store in the meanwhile. Funny that. Besides 4 days of the camping trip last week where all the available adults were sharing the duty of watching them, this will be the third time babysitting in a week. I have been well-reminded how exhausting a 2-year-old can be! This poor tired Granny hopes to switch off to their maternal Grandma in mid-afternoon. Before I collapse under toy tire treads and dancing doll footprints.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Family Time

Bet you thought I fell off the planet, didn’t you. Nope. Just so busy that I didn’t have time to post. And here it is raining again for the first time since the last post I made. Hmmm…interesting coincidence, huh?

We left off nearly two weeks ago with me packing for our annual family camping trip to Manning Park. The weather was perfect and we had a great time with representatives from four generations (one not even born yet!):

4GensHere is most of the gang at the picnic ground at Lightning Lake. (Hopefully it’s clickable for big. I left it large on purpose.) Some went fishing. (Six rainbow trout came home with us.) Some hiked up Mount Frosty until the snow came in over their boots. (Not me.) Some knitted:

KnittinThat’s me and Milady Daughter working on lace projects. Some threw a little Half-Birthday party for Stargazer. Some roasted marshmallows over the campfire. (And then wouldn’t eat them.) Some sat up until midnight drinking wine and telling family tales. Some played bocce and a bolo game (one bolo got permanently stuck up a tree) and flew kites (luckily not eaten by trees). Some played in the water:

WaterBabiesWe saw a frog, mom and baby ducks, chipmunks, ground squirrels, deer (right in the campsite), whiskey jacks (aka Canada jays), and a bear:

BearNo, we weren’t quite that close! I used my optical zoom to its max. Still too close for comfort anyway! And I came home with only one mosquito bite. We all plan to do it again next year. Fun!

Of course we got home to a dry-dry-dry garden and had to spend quite a while watering madly. It has become the bane of my life, watering. Even today with the tiny bit of rain we’ve had, I still need to water. The soil is bone dry only a short way below the surface. I’m even spending quality time watering my neighbour’s garden while they are away. Never ending… Remind me about this when I’m complaining about the never-ending rain we usually have around here instead, will you?

So I’m sure you want some more crafty news, right? I finished my Seaweed Shawl while I was away. I blocked it on the deck using my new mat and wires and it worked a treat:

Seaweed_det Seaweed_blocked

I’m really pleased with how it turned out. So here’s the scoop:

Seaweed Shawl

Begun:  October 14, 2008
Completed:  July 1, 2009

Yarn:  Henry’s Attic Alpaca Lace, 100% alpaca 2-ply lace or cobweb weight, 4960 YPP, plant-dyed by me in comfrey & coreopsis from the garden with an alum mordant. Approx 70g (765 yds) used in shawl.

Needles:  Addi Lace 24” circular, 3mm.

Pattern:  Laminaria by Elizabeth Freeman from Knitty, Spring 2008.

Comments:  Yeah, I know it took me donkey’s years to finish but I got sidetracked by other things, most importantly the Papyrine Wrap. I think that one insane row of the blossom pattern became kind of tedious too and helped to slow me down. The last section went really quickly in contrast. She’s done now finally and I’m very happy with the results. The pattern design was excellent and it made me realise how complex the Estonian lace patterns can be!

I still have nearly half of the ball of dyed yarn so I’m thinking of overdyeing it again to change the colour for another scarf. Maybe with the woad? Which is almost ready to use, methinks.

Meanwhile I was working on the Beaded Bias Scarf while we were camping. I made so many mistakes in the beaded section it wasn’t even funny! I spent quite a bit of time tinking back. I’m over halfway done now in spite of the fact that I can’t knit and talk at the same time.

Also, on Wednesday (Canada Day!) right after I got the Seaweed Shawl blocked I started a new lace project immediately: Ysolda’s Ishbel in the smaller scarf size. I’m calling it the Bam-Boo-Bel Scarf because I’m using the On Your Toes bamboo sock yarn that I dyed warm red. (A good colour for Canada Day, eh?) I also had trouble following the simple early part of this scarf (st st with a few increases). Same problem too – trying to talk and knit at the same. Sheesh! I make less mistakes in complex patterns because they are divided into logical repeats where it’s immediately obvious if it doesn’t work out correctly. This pattern is elongated from the usual triangle by increasing at the edges on the purl rows and increasing at the edges and the centre on the knit rows. Simple? Not quite. With an unknown number of plain stitches between it’s easy to forget a yarn-over or alternatively put one in where it doesn’t belong. It’s hard to see the difference between a yo every row and one every other row, trust me. Unless you stop and look reallllllyyyyy closelllllllyyyyy. Photos when it brightens up around here.

Back to watering…