Monthly Archives: July 2013

Coming soon!

Do you remember this little feather and fan beauty? It was an earworm (brainworm?) sort of design that refused to leave my head until I cast on.

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It’s ok if you don’t, my Ravelry notes say I started it way back in April. This stole was the perfect project for conference knitting. And it filled in quite a bit as mindless knitting while I polished book patterns.

pinned out

I wove in the ends over two weeks ago, pinned it out to block, and have been too busy to get back to it! I finally unpinned it today so that I can wear it to a wedding* this weekend.

rolled up

If all goes as planned I’m hoping to get photos on location, my friend has chosen a gorgeous location. The pattern is headed to the tech editor next week. With any luck I’ll actually have this little indie design released before autumn…

*Yes, this is the third wedding I’ve attended this summer. No, it’s not the last!

food photo shoot

Food photography weekends are long, but very rewarding. Calley has been working just as hard at the recipes for our upcoming book as I have on the knitting patterns. But it’s very different work (less yarn, for instance)

I’m out of the house at 6:30 to get to the farm with the whole day still ahead. But Calley doesn’t get to sleep in either. This past weekend she was up early getting dough kneaded and rising.

By 8am we’re out in the garden picking ingredients for the photos

ingredients

Calley has already assembled a list of the recipes we’re shooting that day, and the shots and angles she thinks will work best. Sometimes we mix things up, but it’s important to have a plan

shoot planning

Just like knitwear we spend a LOT of time going over all the little details of these photos. White background or blue? Or maybe canvas? What highlights the red in those tomatoes? How do we tackle the grease on the burgers so they still look appetizing*? Which twine goes best with this parchment paper?

string choices

The photo studio is an awesome setup, but one you’d never expect to find, on a narrow dirt road, in the back of a little vermont town, you go up a narrow farmhouse staircase

studio stairs

And find this

studio setup

Props, background boards, tables, chairs, vases, black cloth, white cloth, fancy photogaphy lights and diffusers and cameras – oh my!

When we started discussing this book Calley was taking some really excellent amature food photography. But in the last year she’s worked side by side with a couple of pros from the field. And you know what? Her photos are amazing now! I cannot WAIT for you to see what we’ve got in store for this book.

studio shooting

*answer: blot them with a tissue. Grease can be blotted on and blotted off…

knitting in public

There’s a certain kind of knitting in public that seems to cause a lot of debate. I have OPINIONS and have decided it’s time to come clean.

I knit in meetings: in public, in front of coworkers, on the clock. Apparently this fact would be SHOCKING to some people. But I don’t completely understand why. Let’s review the basics:
I pay attention.
I make eye contact.
I take notes.
How then, could my knitting be a problem? I don’t think it is, which is why I keep doing it. For those of you who are squeamish, but wishing you to could be knitting at work here are my suggestions.

First, maybe a little background would be appropriate. I work in science, (not always a female dominated field) I knit in lab meetings, and at national DNA conferences. Only you can judge how open people in your field would be towards knitting. You need to take into account a combination of things. How will your direct supervisor view this? Management? Are you looking for a promotion? (hey, in my lab knitting might be a positive for that question) These are all key questions. I don’t pretend that just because I can “get away with” knitting at work means it’ll work for everyone.

I didn’t just show up at a lab meeting one day with my knitting. Before taking this step I asked permission. After all, I AM on the clock at lab meetings. I actually stopped into the lab director’s office during break and asked. He looked at me thoughtfully for a moment, and had an interesting response. He explained there was a woman who showed up at town hall meeting day every year with knitting. And she had opinions, she was involved, she spoke up frequently. The lab director said if I could be that involved while knitting I was welcome to. Clearly I owe a lot of knitting time to that woman at town hall meeting day.

I also think this brings up a key point. How involved can you be while knitting? I can knit a plain sock cuff in the darkness of a movie theater. Touch knitting isn’t any harder than touch-typing, but both take practice. I don’t bring complex lace to meetings because I don’t want to be distracted. Judge your own skill level when you consider knitting at meetings. I can work simple repeats and decreases with markers while following a sub-titled movie, and so I stick to that level of complexity during meetings.

Asking permission of the presenter (or your lab director) is a great way to make sure they’re not offended by your knitting. It gives them a chance to say “no.” My rule of thumb is to ask permission in any small meeting where my knitting might actually distract the presenter. If the group is 40 or more people chances are good the presenter won’t even notice me, halfway across the room, subtly knitting under the table while taking notes.

Because yes, I can take notes and knit. I have this technique down to a science (heh, I’m so punny.) My tension is generally tight enough that if I let go of a needle the thing doesn’t fall out of the stitches. So I can stop at any point: mid-chart, mid-row, mid-decrease, to use one hand for writing. I always have a note pad (or presentation print-out) in front of me. And I leave the pattern tucked underneath (because remember, whatever I’m knitting is simple enough I can check the pattern once every 10 minutes or so) It helps a lot that I’m left-handed, knit right handed, and I throw instead of picking:

knitting hands

My left hand is never really doing anything beyond maneuvering the needle. So long as I’m not doing anything crazy like cabling without a cable needle (bad plan in meetings) I can stop at any point to write something down.

Once I was comfortable knitting in lab meetings I started to think about larger venues. A four-day conference is a lot of knitting time! I started knitting at conferences later than knitting at lab meetings. It helped that my coworkers had gotten used to seeing me knit and take notes. The other person who helped was the crocheter at the back of the room the very first time I attended a national conference. I figured if she could craft, then so could I. In fact, my knitting has encouraged several other folks who attend every year to bring theirs as well. We’ve practically got a little knitting circle going! We sit together, taking notes, and knitting. There’s strength in numbers my friends, and you never know how many other knitters might show up until you try.

Honestly, I haven’t had ANY negative reactions to knitting in meetings. These days a lot of people comment that I’m clearly paying more attention than the folks playing with smartphones. I’ve had other colleagues comment that I appear to be the only one not drifting off after lunchtime. Anyone who thinks my knitting is odd must be keeping it to themselves. The people paying attention can see that I am too, by the way I ask questions, give opinions, and react to the speaker. And the people paying more attention to the crowd than the presenter? I decided long ago those people’s opinions don’t really matter.

tossed owls

My little nephew James was baptized this month! (not this past weekend, but the one before – I’m a little behind) And we had the honor of being named his godparents! What’s a crafty girl with no free time to do?

owls blanket

Make another fabric blanket of course! This is just like the one I made for my own baby last winter. Two adorable pieces of fabric, stitched together and trimmed with satin binding. I love these things, they’re a great opportunity to use fabric that’s too busy for anything else.

owls corners

And I’m getting REALLY good at the corners. I only had to repin them about two and a half times to get them all this pretty…

Benign? Neglect

I’m three weekends in to a 5 weekend stretch where I have NO free time, and it’s really starting to show in the garden. Neil joined me for 20 minutes yesterday evening when we got home from NH. We mostly focused on pulling the grass that was about to go to seed… Neil’s going to get in there with a hoe and some more dedication today.

In the mean time, does anyone know when shallots are ready to harvest? When I planted them this spring I thought they were a fall crop. But these guys look about ready to leap out of the soil and proclaim themselves done.

shallots

Don’t mind the grass…

You know what does REALLY well under benign neglect? Black-eyed Susans. At least something in my yard is thriving!

black eyed susans

Knit camp!

I usually mention knit camp a little earlier in the summer, but this year I seem to be awfully distracted…

natural setting mosaic

Anyway, registration has been available for awhile, but we still have open spots! Vermont Knit and Fiber Camp is basically a great big, weekend long, knitting group. We sit around the fire with like minded people who don’t complain that you’ve been knitting, and talking about knitting, all weekend.

The camping part is easy, there are plenty of people to help you out if you’re new. And it’s car camping, which means we bring anything (and everything!) that will fit in the car.

If you happen to be looking for something to do the weekend of August 16-19 (just $12.50 per person, for two nights – more fun cannot be had at that price!) I hope you’ll consider it!

food mosaic

Summer School with Kim!

Vermont Public Radio’s summer school program* learns to spin yarn this week! They visited my friend Kim Goodling over at Grand View Farm.

grand veiw farmer

VPR recorded an audio postcard for you! Listen to the MP3 on their site. You’ll hear Kim talk about carding and spinning her wool. It’s a great little spot for one of my favorite local farms.

*I love my local public radio. These Summer school tidbits come on at the end of the lunch hour and cover all sorts of fun things from throwing a curve ball to tying a fishing fly.

Garden winners and losers

Have you heard? It’s been a little rainy here. It’s rained and rained andrainedandrainedandrainedandrainedandrainedandrainedandrainedandrained. Now usually gardeners don’t complain about rain. But we had the seconded wettest june EVER on record. And it turns out that almost 10 inches of rain in 30 days isn’t great for some parts of my garden…

The biggest losers? The carrots and beets. I planted them back at the end of May and they never germinated. It went from cold and damp to hot, humid, and wet. The seed rotted in the ground. Neil hoed those rows under for me last weekend. If this rain ever lets up July is a great time to plant carrots and beets for fall harvest. If. The. Rain. Ever. Lets. Up.

The other big loser are the leeks. They were planted early, but stay pretty small at first. Weeding the grass from around the leeks turned out to be impossible. Since I couldn’t let the crab grass go to seed that whole row is gone too…

Even my lettuces are struggling. They came up early and we’ve been enjoying super-mega-salads with dinner every night for weeks. But 3/4’s of the way through June we realized that the loose leaf lettuce plants were funneling water right to the base of the stem. Some of the plants got so wet they’re rotted away… Quick! Eat more lettuce so we can thin the rows out faster!

Want some winners? I certainly do after all those depressing losses. How about some garlic and snap peas?

peas and garlic

I’ve got PLENTY of both! The garlic is thriving with all this water. And I’ve never seen the dwarf snap peas this tall. They’re actually an even bigger success just because they exist. I took a risk planting them extra early this season. Because I did they germinated before the rain started. No one has any snap peas at the farmers’ markets this year, and when I asked why they told me it is because the ground is too wet for the seed to germinate. Right.

It’s too early to call anything else. The beans managed to germinate in spite of the soggy ground. Squashes just went into the ground. Small, but at least starting them inside means they germinated. Could be a good year for them (hot, lots of water) but only if I can keep the squash bugs at bay. I’m armed with organic pesticide (first time I’ve tried it) but I haven’t applied any yet because it has to be reapplied after heavy rain. Right.

The hat makes the outfit

It wasn’t that many decades ago when women never left the house without a proper hat. I think this is a tradition that could be brought back, at least some of the time. Don’t get me wrong, it’s probably better that I don’t wear a hat to work. The only headgear that’s really appropriate in a lab would be a hair net…

jackie hat

But for social gatherings? A hat can really complete your outfit. At the May wedding we attended I brought a big sun hat (which also served well to keep the rain off as we dashed from the car to the building.) But for last weekend’s wedding I stepped it up a notch to this pillbox hat:

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I wish I had a photo of the whole outfit, but I had a bad case of camnesia AND my phone was on the fritz. So this is what you get.

The hat is the Jackie pattern from Hat Couture. I think I love this whole book! The fascinater is more Grace inspired, but I wanted the hat to fit and stay properly without needing combs or hat pins.

Theressa Silver did a great job writing this book. Some hats are simple to knit, others more complex. But she also includes directions and tips for the decorations! Decorating the hat was at least as much fun as knitting it for me. But if you’re uncertain about creating the bits and bobs, or you don’t have an extensive ribbon and lace stash (I’ve finally found a use for the leftover bits from crazy sewing projects past!) she has plenty of guidance on finding materials and creating these things.

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I’ll be making at least one more for the next wedding coming up at the end of July…