Monthly Archives: September 2010

new camera

My new camera has arrived, and it’s pretty cool. It has way more features then my old camera, and there’s going to be a learning curve, I can tell. It doesn’t help that I’ve had only low, crappy light opportunities to play with it… But it takes pretty decent macro photos, even in my dark living room at night.

darkmacro

So I’d love to see what it can do in good conditions.

Likewise, in the foggy, cloudy, barely dawn light this morning I got a nice shot of the farm across the field from my bus stop using my shiney 10x zoom.

farm

And the misty foliage
mist

And, if I wanted to, I could print 30×40 inch photos. I’m not sure what I do with such a print, but hey, it’s an option!

Final KAL update!

The final pattern update is live over on the catamount KAL page!  I’m very excited to see some completed sweaters.  Hopefully people will be able to share some nice photos once their sweaters are done.  The free pattern will only be available until October 13th, at which point I’ll be switching it out with a nicely formatted PDF download (that you will have to pay for)

Please pardon the short post.  I have to go work another thousand SSK’s on my current secret design in progress.  I can not WAIT to be finished with this (I suck at project monogamy, which is a downside requirement of designing) Next up is a lovely brown vest on nice big needles and some mossy green-brown spinning fiber.  And who knows what else, because I feel a serious case of startitis coming on…

Harvest Market

Saturday after doing a pattern photoshoot with a friend* we headed over to the harvest market in Underhill. Yard sales, a flea market, barns full of books, and yummy fair food were the order of the day. At the flea market I applauded the folks selling hand knits at reasonable prices ($40 for felted mittens = win) and cringed at people underpricing their work ($90 for a SILK AND CASHMERE hand knit lace shawl? The yarn alone must’ve cost $70)

I ate fried dough while trying not to dribble powdered sugar on the silent auction. I had a chance to complement the wonderful ladies who made the green and white purse I’ve become so fond of. I also had a chance to ask the burning question I’ve had since spilling beef stew inside my purse (yes, they are washable)

I found some really fabulous steampunk glasses at the booth that was also selling hunting rifles and real animal pelts:
steampunkglasses
(it was an eclectic booth)
If you like steampunk, or are wondering what I mean, you should check out the Fall Sanguine Gryphon patterns. They’re amazing!

It was a gorgeous fall day. While the sky was cloudy and the wind blustery it didn’t rain on us at all. The harvest market is right up there with a good fiber festival and pumpkins and mums on front steps in the my-favorite-parts-of-fall category. A few weeks ago on twitter I learned that roasting chilies are a sure sign of fall in the southwest… Do you have a favorite sign of fall where you live?

*I can’t show you the project, but I wore something, drapey, to go with it:
sleevepeak

Canning: a timeline

Sunday 9/26

6am – alarm goes off
6:30 – I actually get out of bed
6:45 – animals are fed, I make a pot of tea, and start pulling canning jars out of every hiding cabinet, and the backups from the basement
7am – comparing recipes and ingredients I come to the realization there are enough tomatillos for a quadruple batch of salsa
7:05 – I’m going to need to buy two more boxes of canning jars
7:15 – after comparing cupboards with ingredient lists I’ve created a comprehensive shopping list
7:30 – mouse poop has been washed out of the basement jars
7:40 – finally dressed and in the car for church and shopping, I realize I never drank any of my tea
8:57 – at the grocery store, I realize I left my carefully composed shopping list on the kitchen counter
9:25 – accidentally cause a mini-scene at the checkout line because the “coupon” for the merlot is actually a mail-in redemption. I switch varieties of wine. After all this is for pasta sauce, not a dinner party.
9:45 – leaving the farm and garden store I realize they either missed one of my purchases or the canning jars were half price. My receipt isn’t itemized so I don’t know which and I just head home.
10:18 – I remembered everything on my shopping list!
10:28 – Tea reheated I decide getting the jars into the dishwasher for sterilizing is my best course of action.
11:33 – it’s taken almost an hour to fit everything into the dishwasher. I may have started a bigger set of projects then I realized.
11:45 – I need another quart of tomatillos, heading out to the garden.
11:50 – SO GLAD I have a food processor, 2.5 quarts of tomatillos chopped for salsa in about 30 seconds.
11:55 – I almost take off my thumb at the knuckle cutting sweet corn off the cob.
1:06 – No white vinegar? How’d I miss that? I run to the corner store.
1:15 – eating corn of the cob for breakfast, or is it lunch already?
1:35 – set up the GIANT canning pot on the out door cooker.
2pm – first batch of salsa in jars, second batch on the stove.
2:05 – starting to thaw the tomatoes.
2:30 – I pour myself a glass of wine.
2:35 – 25 8oz jars of salsa in the canner. I have to stack them, but use the wire rack between the jars for water circulation.
2:55 – jars out of the canner and cooling.
3pm – clean up salsa mess in preparation for tomato messes.
3:15 – making up my own spice mix for the ketchup: peppercorns, cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, clove, ginger and paprika.
3:40 – the squeezo may be messy, but nothing else takes 7lbs of tomatoes down to 6 quarts of juice and pulp this quickly.
3:55 – ketchup is simmering, but I have to add more juice a little at a time because it won’t all fit in the pot at once.
4:13 – based on my rough calculations if I start the pasta sauce now I’ll be canning until 10 or 11.
4:15 – the glass of wine surfaces, and I actually drink some of it.
4:16 – I decide to plow ahead, the jars are already sterile, and I don’t know when I’ll have another chance to spend all day canning.
4:30 – Gallons of frozen, marble-like tomatoes out of the freezer and into the sink.
4:40 – chopping onion, and fresh herbs 1-3 cup amounts.
4:45 – I’ve peeled so much garlic my thumb is starting to bleed.
5pm – Neil’s home! He throws himself into the fray rescuing me from the garlic.
5:30 – I squeezo, squeezo squeezo while Neil sautes the herbs.
5:45 – more squeezoing, its taking so long as I’m working in batches as the tomatoes thaw. Neil chops the fresh tomatoes.
6:15 – Neil cracks the two bottles of merlot, all but one glass go into the sauce.
6:30 – Simmer, simmer, simmer.
6:40 – I realize I have no corn chips to go with my extra salsa – back to the store for the 3rd time today.
7pm – Simmer, simmer, simmer…
7:20 – I start cleaning, chopping blocks, kitchenaid, bowls, buckets, and more.
7:59 – Salsa lids are all sealed! 25 jars go into the cupboard.
8:20 – I finally find 30 minutes to sit down.
8:50 – Ketchup finally simmered down, 15 4oz jars go into the canner. I need the flashlight to find the canner outside.
9:11 – Ketchup is cooling on the counter.
9:45 – Pasta sauce is ready!
10:15 – 13 pint jars go into the canner.
10:30 – I’m brushing my teeth and putting on my PJs while the jars boil…
11:06 – Pasta sauce out and the canner is turned off.
11:15 – All the jars are all labeled and cooling on the counter.
11:30 – Bedtime

preparing for Rhinebeck!

I am going to Rhinebeck! And the recent camera scare* makes this even more exciting for me then before!

This will be my first ever Rhinebeck festival, although I’m getting to be old hand at the smaller New England festivals in NH and VT. I’m hoping some of what I know can be applied to Rhinebeck. One thing I know will have to change. My standard mode of operation is to see everything once then go back to make purchases. I have heard that Rhinebeck is A) so huge and B) so popular that to attempt to see everything is folly and even if you did the good stuff would be gone by the second time around.

I will also be playing Rhinebeck Bingo, which sounds like a really great excuse to go up to random people and start talking. Talking to strangers is one of those things I always kinda want to do, but sometimes chicken out from. So I hope the bingo game will help out.

My friend and I will be camping, so lets all hope for nice, autumnal weather. Nothing too hot and pleaseohplease nothing too cold. We’re going to drive down Friday night, and hit the festival all day Saturday. I’m hoping to be at the Ravelry party as well, and if we’re not exhausted we’ll go back Sunday morning for a little more fun before heading home. I’ll be wearing my newest sweater, Catamount (of course!) If you see me please say hi!

*Camera scare is over. A blog friend who’s a photographer recommended a decent looking camera at a great price. I, fearing doing research and purchasing on something I know nothing about, took her advice and purchased a Kodak Z915.

Sterling wedding

Neil went to Sterling college and we’ve noticed a theme in the weddings our friends and his fellow alumni all seem to have. Sterling weddings are gorgeous, usually out doors, often pot luck, and always a blast.

Men in their best carhartts and woolen vests. Women in cute, unique dresses.

wedding

Striped tents with fluttering banners.

reception

Seriously some of the best wedding meals I’ve eaten have been pot lucks.

potluck
And those are compostable wooden flatware pieces. Even the cups were compostable…

As it gets cold, the shawls come out. I love when all the ladies have a gorgeous woven or knitted shawl on hand. It makes me feel right at home.

almost autumn

Before I smashed my camera, I did manage to get some lovely photos showing that autumn is just arriving in my little corner of VT:

oldsunflower

asters

mapleleaf

asterandmoss

backlitapples

wanted: one camera screen

Sunday night I was going through my normal routine, getting ready for the work week and cleaning up after myself from the weekend. I went to take my camera out of my purse. The strap was hooked around something, and in one of those moments that I couldn’t repeat if I tried, I flung my camera across the kitchen. It smashed into a cabinet and landed on the floor.

The screen is broken. It shows me a bunch of white and gray stripes.
stripyscreen

Yes, they’re pretty stripes, but I can’t adjust any settings. I also can’t, you know, see what I’m taking pictures of. I’m pretty sure the guts of the camera are fine. I took this picture of peanut (at 11pm in my dark kitchen, and the white balance is set for sunny outdoors photos) with the camera after dropping it, so this is promising, right?

notbroken

It’s a pretty decent camera, Nikon Coolpix 5900, and I didn’t really want to replace it, nor do I know anything about replacing it. It looks like I might be able to get just the screen replaced (for about $100) but I’m also looking into getting a new one. I really don’t need or want anything fancier, but if I can get something similar for the same price as replacing the screen it might not be a bad idea. Does anyone know anything about cameras and want to give me some advice?

In the mean time I’m kicking myself pretty hard about this. It was just a silly, klutzy mistake. But it was a silly, klutzy mistake that took my camera out of action just 8 days before Knitty’s pattern due date (and of course I haven’t taken pictures yet) It’s also less then a month before my self-imposed deadline for the PDF version of my Catamount pattern. I had never thought about it this way, but I need a camera for this little business I’m starting to cobble together out of my hobby. What’s worse is that I don’t have an account labeled “business expenses” anywhere. This repair is going to have to come out of my Rhinebeck money. I don’t have a lot of extra spending money these days.* I’ve been saving a little every month since May, but if this camera problem costs more then $150 I might have to skip Rhinebeck. That’s right, I may have forced myself to choose between a new camera and Rhinebeck. I hate being a grown up sometimes.

*who does anyway? And do they want to give me some?

shetland

At the 2008 NH sheep and wool festival I picked up some gorgeous shetland fiber. Two ounces of each of 4 natural colors:

shetland

I loved them, still do really. I have great plans for this fiber. Divide each into one ounce chunks, and over-dye the natural colors with a single color, red, or maybe blue. I figured this would give me 8 colors which would coordinate perfectly, and I could knit a beautiful monotone fair isle vest (or hat, or something) out of them. Like I said, I have big plans.

But instead they’ve sat, in my fiber stash, for a year and a half. Finally on my birthday weekend I decided it was time to give the plan a try. I had some henna in my freezer, leftover from a hair-dying experiment. It turned my dirty-blonde hair a fun shade of reddish orange coppery sort of color, so I figured it should do the same thing to wool. Right?

Well I thawed the henna out, and diluted it down; it was the consistency of mud, that’s what you need to keep it in your hair on your head for 4 hours. I primed the wool by soaking it in white vinegar, and then threw everything in a stainless steel pot on the stove. I let it simmer for 4 hours. You should pretty much always dye in a well ventilated space away from food preparation areas. But I make a few exceptions, kool-aid dying and onion skin dying among them. In this case I figured if it’s safe enough to soak into my scalp for 4 hours I could use my kitchen cook stove. After hanging it in the sun to dry, I ended up with this:

notredshetland

The fiber in the center is clearly dyed, but not the coppery red I was hoping for. Instead it’s a mustardy yellow. And the yellow must be a gray-ish yellow because the dyed off white fiber and dyed gray fiber are almost impossible to tell apart.

So I’m going to call this a Failure. It happens, especially with dying experiments. But I’m not giving up on this fiber. I’m planning to over dye with something else. I may use a basic kool-aid red since the mustard yellow should tone it down out of the fluorescent range. I could try an acid dye, but I worry about reactions between it an the henna. There’s rumors in the hair-dying world that some metallic salts in commercial dyes can react with henna to fry hair, or turn it bright, frog, green. I don’t really want to risk either of those things on my soft, scrunchy shetland.

Fiber Calling

Over my birthday weekend I gave myself time to play with fiber. We all know there’s a difference between Knitters and people who knit. I believe there’s an equal distinction between Spinners and people who spin. I’m just a person who spins, but I do love playing with fiber!

When I first learned to spin I thought I was going to spin all my fiber for all my knitting. All new spinners go through this stage, right? Well I took it one step further and bought about 4 POUNDS of fiber, some merino, some corridale, some alpaca and cotton, and some silk. Believe it or not I actually got the cotton/alpaca spun and knit into a sweater AND spun about half the corridale. But those paired projects didn’t work out and that’s a story for another day.

The rest of the fiber has sat, and become core stash. I pull the merino out any time I want to try dying something, but I still have a LOT of plain white merino. The kettle dyed brown corridale was a bit compacted by the dying process (which I did myself, so have no one else to blame) and while I did get about half spun up, I think the difficulty of spinning it was part of what killed that project. And so everything has sat, and waited, and sat some more.

unblended top

Those are the merino and corridale, along with some green BFL that I got tired of being all one color, and the golden tussah silk. I have about 1 pound of the corridale, 1/2 a pound of the merino, and 8 ounces of the BFL and silk.

My friend, at who’s house we had the birthday party, owns a drum carder. And I’ve been thinking for awhile that a drum carder would be just the thing for my compacted brown corridale. And I’ve been seeing a lot of pretty spinning fibers (thanks to Jodi) and wishing I had more pretty batts of my very own.

fiber

And then I decided to try some blending. I broke all the top into pieces about 1.5 feet long. Having twice as much corridale as anything else I decided each batt would be 2 strips of corrdale and 1 each of merino, BFL, and silk. I fed the corridale in first, then the merino, then more corridale, the BFL and finally the silk. They layered each on top of the one before on the first run through. So after taking the batt of the carder I’d tear it into quarters and put them through sideways to mix the colors some more.

blendedcloseup

I think the batts came out WONDERFULLY! Also I have a few:
batts

And a few more:
morebatts

In fact, I made 14 total.
lotsofbatts

I left one for my friend, to thank her for the use of the drum carder. But I still have 13 more (and fiber to make another 4 or 6). I’m thinking if I spin them up into a DK or light worsted weight yarn I should be able to make a gorgeous sweater out of all this! What do you think? I’d want something plain enough to really show off the yarn. And since it’ll have some variegation to it I don’t want any kind of fancy cable or lace that will be obscured by the color. I have quite a few sweaters in mind, but I’m not sure any of them are exactly what I’m thinking of. So far my list includes:

But I’m still researching options. Do you have a nice, plain, comfy sweater pattern you could recommend?

Tomorrow, the fiber project that didn’t work so well…