Monthly Archives: August 2013

Blackberry season

It’s been another great year for blackberries in our yard. Although, remember how much jam I made last year? It’s a good thing we still have a little (of this, and of that), because this year I’ve been eating All The Fruit about as fast as we can pick it.

blackberries

These pictures are from last weekend. I went out yesterday evening and discovered the harvest is finally slowing down. But when the harvest is good EVERYBODY gets in on it. Om, nom nomnomnomnom…

blackberries for Jake

I spent 30 minutes picking berries with the boys. Watching them nibble the ripe berries off the shrubs is hilarious. The thickets are so dense it’s easy to loose track of them, all of a sudden there’d be a rustle nearby and one of the dogs would come out of a patch so dense that I hadn’t even thought to check it for berries. Along with the dogs: the chickens, wild birds, and wildlife have all been feasting on berries for weeks now.

blackberries for me

We have about a quart in the freezer which means we’ve eaten another 3 or 4 quarts fresh! And there are still berries out there, some molding slowly on the vine because even with the help of the wildlife we can’t keep up…

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Ondulation kits

Remember Ondulation? I’m sure you do!

ondulation arm perspective

Kristi over at Shalimar Yarns is dying up some GORGEOUS kits for my pattern! If you wanted to knit Ondulation for yourself, but you’re uncertain of what colors go well together, check out her combinations. She’s got 5 kits from a bold, blue “Indigos” kit, to a neutral “Aspens in Winter” theme. All the kits are in her Homage base, which is a cushy merino, silk, and cashmere blend. Wouldn’t that be perfect to wrap up in this winter?

Each kit features a solid CC and a series of gradient mini-skeins for the MC stripes. If you know anything about Shalimar updates it’s that they sell out fast. But the good news is that these are custom dyed kits, so she’s not going to run out! I hope you like them!

Honored

If you’ve been reading the Yarn Harlot’s blog recently, there’s been a lot of talk about knitting for babies. It’s probably just the hormones, but some of it is making me teary… For instance the discussion on Heirloom knitting includes this piece of wisdom,

anything that a baby receives that is handmade with care is heirloom quality. I’ve crocheted many a baby layette and it still amazes me how few babies get handmade gifts anymore.

Well Random Internet Commenter, prepare to have your faith restored, because my friends have been knitting up a storm! I am honored that my baby has received so many handknits. Honored and more than a little blown away.

baby gifts2

My friends at camp outdid themselves, along with cake and tree garlands they managed to put together this piecework blanket right in front of my eyes without me even noticing! Friends who couldn’t make it to camp this year mailed in squares while others were knit and crocheted on friday before I arrived. Saturday morning the crocheters assembled everything. It’s beautiful, don’t you think? I’m told they didn’t even try to coordinate colors…

baby gifts1

Along with the blanket my not-yet-here baby has also received sweaters, booties, a hat. SO MANY wonderful things.

baby gifts3

This little top is especially precious. My awesome boss Marcie died last spring. She knit this top for a coworker’s new little girl the summer before. And this summer my coworker passed it along to me, with Marcie’s original note and one of her own saying that of course Marcie would want me to have it.

Stephanie herself said,

Knitting for impending humans feels like improving their chances. It feels like throwing a line out into the ether and towing them in. Preparing the path, paving the way, and making it clear to the fates that there are people looking out for this kid, and expecting them.

Thank you everyone. You’re all amazing.

day camp

Whew, this has been a busy week! Which is too bad because I have so much to tell you about! Let’s start with last weekend, when I went to the 5th annual Vermont Knit camp.

camp food

Except for Neil and I it was day camp, not overnight camp, this year. I was almost 34 weeks pregnant, and sleeping in a lean-to (with a long walk to the bathroom) seemed like a poor choice.

We still managed to be there from lunch through night time s’mores!
And we happily went geo-casheing

camp hikes

Swimming

camp view

And yes, knitting

camp knitting

And the biggest surprise (for me anyway, apparently EVERYONE else was in on it. Including my mom, and Neil) was the adorable woodland baby shower! The younger girls managed some amazing decorations, and had made a cake ahead of time! And there was knitting, and crochet, and I really need to be home during daylight hours so I can properly document everything and show it to you…

Wee Ambrosia

Another baby sweater! The pattern is Wee Ambrosia by Gudrun Johnston.

wee ambrosia 2

I love it! Love love love. It’s Peace Fleece, and these colors* are closer to aran than worsted weight, so they worked perfectly as a sub for the Osprey yarn.

wee ambrosia back

The pattern is supposed to have a hood. I wanted a hood. But then I ran out of the MC yarn halfway through knitting the hood. Rather than trying to track down more I just left the sweater with a square collar, it’s all good!

wee ambrosia yoke

Oh yeah, the two color thing. It worked perfectly! The garter trim part is easy, but the two color yoke isn’t really hard either. The hexagon stitch pattern is done with slipped stitches. To work it in two colors you simply need to carry both yarns for all rows where those slipped stitches are knit. Conveniently they’re always done in pairs so you can just carry the MC up the edge and work it into the rows where it’s needed.

wee ambrosia

Taking pictures of this gorgeous woolly sweater in summer is kinda odd. This one has a 22″ body, so it’s more of a 12ish (?) month size? Maybe? We’ll see! I’m sure it’ll fit our little girl at some point. And since Neil and I were SHIVERING** while watching the Perseid meteor shower earlier this week I know she’ll get a chance to use the sweater, whatever season it is.

*Peace Fleece gauge can vary depending on the color, the dye process apparently affects the final yarn.
**Vermont: Where at least once in August it’ll be cold enough for a sweater. (or every morning, depending on the year)

the other WIP

It’s not really time for any sort of baby-watch. I’m just now 33 weeks along. For those of you who prefer months I like to say that’s 8 months – with the caveat that you must remember that most women are actually pregnant for the whole 4 weeks of the 9th month. It’s not like you hit 9 and you’re done…

week 33

Baby should make her appearance sometime in the start of October. I love that my hospital refers to “due month” instead of “due day” it’s much more realistic.

In the mean time I still feel pretty great. I’ve recently hit the point where getting in and out of chairs is tricky, but other than that I’m still doing well. The midwife tells me I’m her healthiest patient and the nurses all complain that I make their jobs too easy.

I’ll take it.

In the mean time Neil and I have started the fun parts of getting ready for baby. We’ve gotten some nice baby furniture (a pretty floral dresser at a yard sale for $5!!) and we’re teaching the cats to stay out of the bassinet.

And I’m knitting for baby in every “spare” moment I have.

ambrosia

More on the knitting later!

Fall garden

Every year when september rolls around I try to plant a fall garden. You know what? September is too late for fall plantings up here! This year I seem to have learned my lesson. I’m not claiming to have smartened up, it’s due to a combination of factors which essentially boil down to this: I have the space right now.

fall garden tools

I didn’t plant sweet corn this year and I have just 3 (small, unlikely to produce at this point) tomato plants. The garlic and shallots have been harvested, Neil pulled the pea vines, and the lettuce went milky and bitter about 10 days ago.*

So that leaves me with a great swath of bare soil above the squashes and below the broccoli. I planted 10 short rows of TEN different crops. Tiger eye bush beans (55 days to harvest), more string-less snap peas (60), red lettuce (30-45), green lettuce (52), spinach (45), chard (25-50), pak choy (25-50), broccoli/broccoli raab** (48/45), carrots (50), and beets (45).

fall garden time

Assuming we get good germination and growth before it gets cold many of these plants will happily hang out in the garden until the first snows cover them. If we’re lucky I hope to be harvesting chard, carrots, and spinach right up to thanksgiving!

We’ll see how they each do and decide what gets added to the regular fall garden rotation.

*honestly, we’re surprised it lasted through the heat wave at all.
**ok yes, that’s technically two different plants, but they’re sharing a row.

lime and mint pickles

Neil and I had an actual weekend at home – one with NO commitments. This was the first time in, um, over a month… You could tell we were ready for this down time by how much we didn’t spend it sitting down. We made ourselves giant fancy breakfasts and marinated things for hours before cooking dinner. I did some serious veggie garden maintenance and Neil took care of the rest of the yard. We went yard-sale-ing and picked blackberries. The dogs got long walks, and we even did a short hike.

I finally had time to make up a batch of these lime and mint refrigerator pickles that Bristol shared.

pickle ingredients

My version is only a little different from hers. I think. I mean, cucumber size can vary greatly, and I didn’t us a jicama because they just don’t have those at the farmer’s market around here. Otherwise they’re exactly the same!

Bring to a simmer:
1 1/4C water
1 1/4C white vinegar
2/3C white sugar
1 T salt
1 T mustard seeds

While that’s going slice and chop:
3 small pickling cucumbers, sliced into rounds
1 green onion, sliced as thinly as you can
1 lime, quartered and sliced
4 sprigs fresh mint, chopped coarsely

pickle ing chopped

Layer the ingredients into a quart jar, I divided everything in thirds and just dumped them into the jar in layers. I think a heat tolerant jar is a really good idea… Because next you pour the hot liquid over everything. Close up the jar, and when it’s cool enough to touch shake it a few times. Put it in the fridge and wait patiently for at least 24 hours.

I have no idea how long these will last, but I don’t think they’ll be around long enough for that to matter!

pickles

New stole pattern!

You all know how much I’ve been looking forward to this! I finally have a new pattern to share!

ondulation hero

It’s the Ondulation stole! As always you can read the details and buy the PDF on Ravelry. This stole is designed using two different yarns, a semi-solid and a gradient yarn. They’re actually different weights as well. I think there’s a lot of possibility here for substituting yarns and using up scraps. I cover some options on the pattern page.

ondulation hand perspective

This shawl has been in progress since April, which is a LONG time for me to release such a simple design. But you know my excuse: that whole book project thing.

ondulation front cropped

Don’t get me wrong, I love my book patterns, I just don’t love waiting to show them off. Nothing about indie designing could be considered instant gratification. I have to make the design fit around other deadlines, I have to wait on other’s schedules for photos, editing, and even my own schedule can make it hard to find time for layout and editing.

ondulation side view

But once it’s all done there’s no waiting around for publication! And one of the great things about the internet is feedback. That really is instant gratification.

bad year for chickens

It’s been a bad summer for our chickens, we’ve lost four hens since spring. I’m not entirely surprised, the batch of chicks we got when we moved in (spring 2008) are 5 years old now. And while chickens can live to be 10 or more, 5 or 6 seems to be when the mysterious diseases begin to pick them off…

Luckily the new ladies are all doing fine, we still have the four Zibbleses

zibbleses

Ok, that’s just two, but have you ever tried to herd chickens? We can’t tell The Zibbleses apart, hence the name… We also have two white ladies

white ladies

If you’re like me, you don’t believe that one in the back is a hen. I’ve spent 6 months claiming she was a very confused roo. But last weekend we watched her lay an egg, so I guess I have to adjust my thinking…

Those six birds? When we adopted them we were told they’re straight run. So these six hens must be a balance for all those occasions when “straight run” really means 75% roosters…

And we still have plenty of old ladies running around, laying the occasional egg and keeping the bugs down.

old ladies

But honestly? The flock is suddenly down to 10 birds, and I’m starting to wonder if I can pick up a hen or two off craigslist…