Monthly Archives: June 2011

ironic

The title, Time on my Hands, continues to be a bit of an irony in my life. Here’s a review of what I’ve been up to. You’ve seen these two:

Play Time
play time 3

Bewitching Hour
hands on time

And there was the preview of pattern 3. I’m updating cable charts as we speak (not exactly now, but every day after work) and it should be available in a little more than a week if everything goes smoothly. Pattern 4 is knit and written.

Pattern 5 is knit and roughed out but needs to be fully written. Pattern 6 is charted, and the first one is knit! There’s a lot of messily-written-on-the-bus notes for that one, which I plan on turning into a pattern before a knit the second.

pattern 6

Pattern 7 looks pretty good in my head, but I need to make some cable charts before I start knitting it. Pattern 8 has been swatched, only to discover the yarn from my stash wasn’t right. So I’m working on new yarn for that one.

And Pattern 9 exists! Yes, there will be a bonus pattern! It’ll be available exclusively to knitters who buy the whole collection. The yarn has been chosen, the design is known (by me anyway) and I just need to do a little charting to work out the final details.

Remember, you only have until midnight tonight to buy the collection at a discount. Starting tomorrow (July 1st) the price goes up to the full $18 – which is still a great deal for NINE patterns! I’m on schedule, and I’m fairly confident the whole collection will be release by September (I’m not saying exactly which part of September yet) I’m still having a lot of fun with these designs, although I am designing a shawl in between, just as a break from the DPNs…

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food in jars

It’s wednesday and already the meat chicks are outside all day. Neil went to feed them this morning and apparently they were so excited they ran right outside and refused to go in. Who’s ever heard of a cornish x passing up breakfast in favor of foraging?

In completely unrelated news I’ve found a new blog I love: Food In Jars. I’ve been keeping food in jars for years, why’d it take me so long to find this? Today I had breakfast in a jar:

yogurt in the jar

Home made strawberry black currant jam, yogurt, milk, and maple syrup to sweeten it. It’s like those drinkable yogurts at the store, except seriously* home made.

The jam making season has started in earnest too! Last weekend my friend Becky** and I made Strawberry rhubarb ginger spring jam, strawberry black currant jam, and rose petal freezer jam.

2011 jam

I’d never had a canning day with friends before, it was so much fun! Everything is more than twice as easy with two people, and the whole ladling and topping jars goes MUCH more quickly. Also I think her handwriting on the labels is better than mine.

*that’d be home made with all kinds of home made ingredients.
**there are a lot of Beckys in Vermont, besides me I mean.

Freedom rangers gotta range!

The little meat birds are spending the evening outside this week. In a week they’ll be big enough I’ll brave letting them outside all day.

freedom rangers

Their integration with the rest of the flock was basically a non-issue. Myles the Rooster came running over when they jumped outside – and then just stood there. Clearly these birds were too small to mate with, but he didn’t want to leave them unattended either. If he’s going to be so protective of them I really should worry less about hawks. The guineas were my other big worry, but they seemed to be far more interested in the high protein broiler crumbles than the broilers themselves. Most of this is probably due to my coop setup. The little birds have been living in the hallway since Day One; fenced off from the big birds but within sight.

coop divisions

I love this setup, it makes things SO EASY when I need to isolate birds for any number of reasons.

And the little rangers have been enjoying their range in the evenings:

ranger gotta range

I bet they can’t wait to be outside every day.

6 years!

Neil and I celebrated our 6th anniversary on Friday in our usual, quiet way. We picked a special recipe and made dinner together. We made a point of lighting a few candles while we ate dinner at the table. I made dessert for a change. The steak au poivre recipe is one of Neil’s specialties, and the beef was from a local farm. Ditto the salad, and the strawberries on top of the angel food cake (and the eggs inside it). Even the salad dressing was home made, Neil’s given up on store bought ranch dressing.

It wasn’t ready to eat until 8:30 though, which is also symbolic of our current state of business. We’ve had an especially busy year. Neil’s gone back to school full time in hopes of finishing his degree in a year, that’s on top of working part time. Meanwhile I have my full time job along side all my design work, which I’m trying to increase as well.

We can do all this because we support each other. We both help with the chores around the house; we both cook, we both clean. I man the flash cards when Neil’s studying for an exam, and he helps wind yarn when I’m knitting under a looming deadline. That’s all part of the team work involved in making things work, and now that we’re up to 6 years I think we’re starting to get the hang of it! There will always be more to learn, and that’s ok too.

Besides, almost anything beats last year, when we spent our anniversary in a mechanic’s yard clearing out our totaled car before the wrecker came for it.

Bewitching Hour

The second pattern in the Time on my Hands e-book is Bewitching Hour.

pretty hands

You can read the pattern details on this page, and see the e-book details here.

I had so much fun with this photo shoot. I’ll admit I still love a chance to play dress up!

welcome

The stone building is a little chapel on the grounds at Trapp Family Lodge. It’s a perfect fairytale setting, the way it’s hidden out in the woods, up a hill through the sun-dappled leaves.

handing over time

Of course the sun dappling through the leaves made for some interesting color challenges in the photo editing.

tall with chapel

The gloves are great, I love the US grown and spun wools made by Quince & Co. Chickadee is a sport weight yarn, which means these gloves knit up faster than fingering weight gloves, but still have a fabric that doesn’t feel thick and funny between the fingers.

waiting

And if you don’t have a lot of chances to wear ball gowns, that’s ok. These gloves work just fine with a regular coat. The long cuffs do a superb job keeping the cold wind out of your sleeves.

bewitched normal 2

Monarch Emerging

Almost exactly one year ago, I found this moth on my porch.

moth

And several blog readers suggested it should be interpreted into knitting. Knitting a shawl that shape and with those colors would have been the obvious thing to do. But I wanted to be more obscure – also I didn’t want to tackle large, non-repeating patterns in intarsia in a shawl. So I designed a skirt.

skirt7

This skirt – Monarch Emerging PDF available from Sanguine Gryphon. The original submission was in browns and pinks with gold beads, however I think the colors chosen by Sanguine Gryphon are equally beautiful, show off the stitch patterns in some amazing ways, and are a little less twee. The pattern is (as I just mentioned) in the summer collection just released by Sanguine Gryphon – it’s an English garden party themed collection and they have some other beautiful patterns in it besides mine ;-) Check them all out here. You can queue and favorite Monarch Emerging on Ravelry.

skirt5

One of the things I wanted to do was make a skirt that wasn’t going to sag horribly when worn. This is not something knitted fabric is great at, but I think my approach is a good one. I interspersed linen stitch panels with moss stitch panels to create an 8-gore styled skirt. The two textures show off the multicolored yarn in different ways, and I like to think they mirror the fuzzy textures on moth and butterfly wings to some degree (or am I fooling myself there?)

skirt-button detail

Below that the skirt increases significantly with the switch from dense linen and moss stitch to open, airy lace. A touch of sparkle is added with size 6 seed beads placed at the points of the lace. There’s a set of increases between the two colors of lace, and a final set of increases to create the ruffle before the bind off.

front view

Rattlin’ Brook

Saturday was the Rattlin’ Brook Bluegrass festival.

Six bands,

singing

sunshine,

sunshine

picnics, friends,

into the sunset

swimming holes, swings,

swingin

knitting, frisbee, and everything else you could want from a sunny summer day.

bluegrass cello

Roses aren’t just red

Saturday’s pie crusts became quiches which went with me to the bluegrass festival that afternoon. I took some really nice pictures. Which I seem to have left on my computer at home. So I’ll show them to you another day. In the mean time let’s look at my pretty pretty roses.

There’s the sea rose:

sea rose bloom

I have no idea what kind of rose bush this is, but it appears identical to the ones that grow along the Atlantic coast from Maine all the way to Nova Scotia. Presumably it’s some kind of rugosa? Whatever it is, it reminds both Neil and I of the ocean. And you can smell it from across the yard, possibly because it’s as big as a VW bus:

rose SHRUB

Jake is for scale, keep in mind Jake is a 70lb golden mix – not a small dog…

New last autumn is a petite little climbing rose:

tea rose bud

My friend gave it to me for my birthday last year apologizing that it was root bound and sad looking after spending all summer in a pot. It over wintered just fine though, and is happily throwing buds and considering the trellis I gave it. This one makes up for the sea rose by not smelling at all, but it’s little flowers are pretty enough to make up for that.

tea rose

Finally, so new I can’t even take credit for it:

angel bloom

my “Angel Face” lavender rose. I think that’s about the tackiest plant name I’ve ever heard, but that’s what it says on the tag. I bought it for the lavender color and the awesome rosey/spicy smell of the blooms. It’s still in the pot while I consider what part of my yard is next for the growing rose collection.

calla lilly
(that’s not a rose…)

Pie Crusts

I have a trick for easy and delicious pie crusts.

pie crusts

Skip the whole “rolling out the dough” process.

After all, that’s the hard, and time consuming part. It’s also the part where I have a tendency to over work the dough and make tough crusts. Instead, I just mix the butter, flour, salt and water until it just barely sticks together. Pat it into a flat circle and place it in the pie plate. Adding extra flour as things get sticky I start in the center and squish the circle of dough out towards the edges. Squish it on right up the sides of the plate, make sure it’s not too thick in the corners – and you’re good to go!

These crusts may not win any prizes at the county fair, but they stay light and flaky. Also, now you know why I’m such a fan of open-faced pies…

Beans!

I had an idea for a what-I’m-wearing post, and then I realized that the shawl in question hasn’t been published yet. And while no news probably isn’t good news on the submission at this point – I’m not going to leap to any assumptions until I hear back from the publisher! So instead, I’m dedicating this entire post to beans.

Yup, beans! I love green beans, and while I didn’t love dried beans as a kid I’ve discovered that really I just didn’t love canned dried beans (kidney, black, etc…) the texture of freshly cooked dried beans is MUCH better, and now I love them too. Also, I’ve been growing them in my garden for two years and it’s stupidly easy.

rows of beans

You can plant bush beans close enough together that once they leaf out they keep the weeds down by themselves. And you don’t harvest them until the end of the season. All this low maintenance growing makes up for the need to shell the beans in the late fall (at least in my mind) I suppose I could still grow pole beans for my fresh beans (they’re easier to pick) but, um, I don’t – or at least haven’t yet!

soy beans

This year I’m growing soy beans for edamame. I tried this two years ago, but the summer was too cold and they didn’t do so well. I’m trying again this year and I’m hoping for a nice warm, sunny summer. I’ve never done this successfully, but I assume I just pick them green (like green beans), blanch, and freeze. Makes sense to me anyway.

jacob cattle

We get jacob cattle beans from the CSA and this year I thought to plant some of them, and they came up! I think it’s cute how they have the little stripes on their cotyledons.

cranberry

I think these are cranberry shelling beans – at least that’s what some blog friends suggested last year at harvest time. This is the third year for them in my garden, counting the year the first plant volunteered itself in my squash bed.

dragon langerie

Finally for green beans I’m growing dragon langerie. Green is a loose term for these, what I mean is green as in fresh (not dried). For 5 years I’ve grown burgundy beans for my fresh beans, so I decided to try something new. I call these guys dragon lingerie beans in my head.