expectations

I’m functioning at a “low expectations” level right now. I don’t expect to finish much knitting. I don’t expect to get much personal time. I don’t expect to write many blog posts (surprise!) I don’t expect to take photos during daylight hours… Pretty much all my energy for expectations goes into getting dinner made daily, getting to work and back, getting the laundry done. All my free time is spent playing with Windsor. She’s freaking adorable these days and I’m really very happy with the way my life is right now. It’s just very different from before.

But here’s the thing. It’s mid April, and I realized I haven’t even thought about my veggie garden. Usually I would have it all mapped out about a month ago.

garden seeds

And gardening? It’s entirely about expectations. Hopes, dreams, and expectations. What will grow? What will the weather do? What will fail? These seedlings, they hold the promise of expectations, both of success and failure.

seedlings

We’ll see how it goes.

Verbena

Did you see the newest issue of Twist Collective? More importantly, did you see Verbena?!?

photos © Linus Ouellet

This was supposed to be my first big design after I finished up the book. That was my plan when I sent in the submission. But then, I fell behind (you knew that already) Luckily I have a very good friend who helped out with the knitting (thanks Dana!)

Here’s Verbena again on Ravelry, please favorite, queue, you know the drill! You can buy it there or from Twist Collective’s website.

Verbena

This asymmetric top also has an unusual construction. The skirt is knit first, starting from the point and working a mitered triangle with increases at the center line. Then the front and back are worked flat and joined together.

Verbena

The bodice is worked in the round after picking up stitches, so beside the three needle bind off this is pretty much seamless. It’s a soft summer top with drape and style – and I kinda wish I had one in my own size…

Meet Chief

Our old rooster, Thomas, went to the big barnyard in the sky about a week ago. The old guy was, well, old. He was only about 3, but in meat-bird years that’s got to be at least 9…

Luckily our friend has a few extra roosters, and was happy to find a new flock for the one that was getting picked on.

Chief

Under-roosters tend to be good guys. They’re generally happy to have found a new flock of their own, and they know what their other options were like.

Chief integrated into our flock like he’d always lived here. I put him down in the coop and he started to woo the ladies with his dancing and skill in finding food. I went to check on them all an hour later and he was standing, surrounded by hens, like he owned the place. Which, as the only rooter he pretty much does!

more mittens

These are the mittens that took forever (Pinales, pattern available!). I started them back in January. I think the first pair were knit in a weekend, but this pair took 2.5 months.

forest pinales

Honestly since March started I kept waiting for spring be around the corner. I figured I didn’t really need to finish them before fall, right?

forest pinales 3

Well, it was -6F Monday morning, -4F Tuesday morning, it snowed on Wednesday. Oh and this morning? It was a toasty 2F ABOVE zero.

So in honor of the winter that Just. Won’t. End. Here’s my third pair of Pinales mittens. These are knit up in Peace Fleece instead of Bartlett. Otherwise I just stuck to the pattern. It’s a sign of how sleep deprived I am that I changed. Nothing.

Maybe now that I’ve finally finished these mittens spring will come? Please?

forest pinales 2

Mmm, maple

maple sugar house

Vermont’s maple open house weekend happened last weekend. It’s been so SO cold the sap has only run a few days so far. A lot of the local sugar houses weren’t open because they simply don’t have anything to boil yet, and they may or may not have anything left from last year to sell. It’s just been a weird winter…

But Boyden’s was open, and as usual, the place is shockingly photogenic…

maple doormaple chandelier

And of COURSE we couldn’t go eating all that sugar on snow without sharing any. Windsor has had a little yogurt on a spoon so she sort of knew what to do when we offered her some sweetened snow:

maple first

That’s her “new flavor” face. Trust me, she loved it. She started reaching out to the bowl of snow with both hands! Then after just two stops she got tired and it was nap time. But all in all, a successful outing!

maple sign

more sewing

Baby things are fun to sew, they’re so little and quick! I found some tutorials on the internet for sewing baby pants, and decided that would be my next task. I haven’t been very satisfied with the commercially made baby pants. They’re either roomy fleece or super structured mini-adult pants. They’re all adorable, but why does my infant need pockets anyway? She doesn’t have the pincer movement to pick up anything to put in them…

baby pants 1

So I started with the fleece pants and cut out a template with a quarter inch along the side seam and a half inch (ish) at the top.

baby pants 2

Next use the template to cut some sweater sleeves to match. Using the sleeves means I just have to sew a crotch seam and a waistband! The internet is full of brilliant ideas.

I tried sewing the elastic into the waistband three different ways before I settled on this one. I didn’t want elastic all the way around, just across the back. So I cut a strip the correct length and stitched the edges along the side seams – do this first!

baby pants 3
(easier to visualize on the corduroy pants)

Then fold the waistband hem down and stitch underneath the elastic being careful not to catch it. Voila, elastic waist in the back only but still nice and stretchy.

baby pants 4

They fit her with a little room still to grow – exactly as I’d hoped! On these I can fold the cuffs down when she gets longer too:

baby pants 5
and yes, I have lots more gray sweater still to play with!

Oh yeah, and the corduroys:

baby pants 6

So adorable!

Bootie time!

Windsor needed some new booties. I had some extra felted fabric lying around (old sweater, diaper cover that went through the wash by accident) I figured I should be able to make these things work out.

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I measured her little feeties and I figured the sole and cuff shapes would be easy. The foot bit seemed a little more tricky, but I had lots of sweater, so I figured I could take a few tries and still have it work out. I cut the sole and the foot from the sweater, the cuff and tongue of the boot from the diaper cover. Luckily for me, they came together just perfectly.

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And they fit too!

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Lady of Rohan

This post was meant for friday, but man oh man life with a five month old can be crazy! For anyone who isn’t on my mailing list I wanted to let you know my Lady of Rohan shawl pattern is now up on ravelry for purchase!

Lady of Rohan hero

I can’t wait to see your version. I’ll admit I’m thinking of one in grassy greens right now.

Lady of Rohan preview

The PDF is just $6. As with all my patterns clicking the button above will take you to an automated paypal checkout where you can pay with credit/debit card or paypal balance. The download will automatically be e-mailed to you, and added to your Ravelry library if you have an account there. Thanks to Ravelry for making this feature available to members and non-members alike!

I usually start to dream of spring round about March. This is the time when baby goats start showing up over at Fat Toad Farm (seriously adorable, go look!) The sugar bushes are all being tapped, sap is starting to boil into syrup all over the state.

And we still have all of mud season before spring really starts to bloom.

LoR narrow trim

Fish stew

I did that thing where I decided it was easier to create a new recipe than follow someone else’s (again). You do understand this is how I got into designing patterns as well, right?

I wanted a non-cream-based stew to use up the white fish in my freezer*. I wanted veggies and a clear broth, and fish. And I didn’t want to stop at the grocery store for clam juice or celery.

Ingredients
3 shallots
1 bulb of garlic (5-8 cloves depending on size)
2Tbsp olive oil
3Tbsp sherry
1 carrot
1 handful fingerling potatoes (probably 1.5 C sliced up)
1 C chicken stock
1 15oz can diced tomatoes
1 6.5oz can whole clams**
1 6.5oz can chopped clams**
2 fillets cheap white fish (feel free to substitute with something nicer ;-)
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp thyme
salt and pepper to taste

fish stew ingredients

Slice the shallots and garlic. Saute in the olive oil 2-4 minutes over medium high heat. Meanwhile grate the carrot and slice the potatoes.
Toss in the sherry. Stir. Toss in the carrots and potatoes. Add the chicken stock and enough water to cover everything. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Drain the cans of tomatoes and clams. Add both, plus the spices.
Nestle the fish into the soup add water if necessary to cover the fish.
Simmer for 10-15 minutes more, or until fish is done and flakes apart as the soup is stirred. Salt and pepper to taste.

fish stew

And yes, I store my leftover soups in mason jars. I’m not trying to be a hipster, they’re just the most leak-proof lunchbox container I can find.

*which, honestly, I’ve decided was cheap, doesn’t cook evenly, and not worth buying again. But I’m not gonna throw it out either.
**the clams were not cheap. We’ve been buying Bar Harbor products since they showed up in our local store and I love them. But then, I’m predispositioned to love small, local-ish, companies…

What’s this?

Well well well, it looks like someone has found a tiny bit of knitting time.

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These herringbone socks have been on the needles since November of 2012. There’s been a lot of hibernation for this project. But I’ve started knitting during pumping breaks. It’s only a few scattered minutes, but it’s better than nothing. Between the book and real life I don’t think I’ve knit at home in weeks.

At this rate it’ll be another year before this sock is finished. Luckily it’s the second sock. Also luckily Neil’s feet aren’t changing sizes.