Saturday, July 3, 2010

Things to do today

   Summer is the time of relaxation - no teaching.  However, so many things need to be or want to be done now. It makes for busy days.
On today's agenda we have:

  1. make blackberry currant jam
  2. bake bread
  3. kiss the children
  4. clean living room
  5. grocery shop
  6. water and weed gardens
  7. sew  youngest son's new shorts
  8. sew daughter's skirt
  9. lang laundry outside
  10. put boxes in attic
  11. go for a drive to see if the blueberries are ripe at the local blueberry farm
  12. get ice cream on the way home from aforementioned blueberry farm
  13. make dinner (with bread and jam to go with it)
  14. welcome home hubby after a week away

    Tomorrow I have to do some of the same things - laundry never ends, does it?  The big ones for tomorrow are:

  1. tend to the bee hives
  2. mow the lawn
  3. take the kids swimming
  4. pick more blackberries
  5. unpack the van which will be full of things from my mother-in-law's place
  6. kiss hubby
  7. kiss children
  8. watch fireworks
  9. recognize the work that goes into giving me the  freedom to do these things I like (and don't like) in this wonderful country I am privileged and blessed to live in 

Friday, July 2, 2010

Spinning, knitting and berrrying

    I would like to start this by saying I am very frustrated - I was about to post this - and it disappeared . Somehow my finger slipped and must have hit command or option or something, but my very long post went poof!  Oh well, I really wanted to write it twice anyway.  It allows for editing!
     I am still practicing with my spinning wheel.  There was no class this week as my teacher was moving into her new home, and I had no one to watch the kids (so it all worked for the best).  The upper photo is the 2 oz. of Icelandic rovings I bought  to practice with my new wheel.  Not too shabby - there are irregularities in thickness, but I like it.   The picture below is  a bobbin of the Corriedale top I had on hand.  Again - although there are some beginner bumps, I think it came out fairly nicely for only the third thing I have spun - and without the wisdom of my teacher to guide me.  However, sharing the successes means I need to share the blunders as well.  These are still singles - I have not plied anything at home yet. 

     Although the photo is sideways and I cannot get it to stay right side up, you can see the twisted mess I made last night.  I was not carefully shifting the newly spun yarn along the  hooks on the flyer, so I had a bobbin that looked like mountains and valleys.  It is an argument for getting one of those flyers which have the sliding hook, making for a smooth bobbin.  Anyway,  at one point some of the newly spun yarn slipped off the bobbin and got wrapped around the spindle that the flyer rides on and it was a mess.  When I took everything apart and got it untangled, here it what it looked like.

Not irreparable, but not pretty either. 

         I have actually been knitting quite a bit.  Working on old projects, learning  things for new ones, as well as trying new things.  I have often knit in the round, and slavishly followed the directive to be careful NOT to twist the stitches when casting on.  Well, I was playing with making a cowl/scarf which could be worn as a single draped piece or be worn looped over once for a two strand necklace look.   I was working with Caron's Simply Soft in Persimmon - nothing expensive when I am playing. I thought, "Gee, I wonder what would happen if I did twist the stitches?"  
     So I cast on a large enough number of stitches for what I thought would be a double length scarf (I actually should have used a longer needle), and looking around for the Knitting Police, I TWISTED MY STITCHES!!!  I knit along in a simple eyelet  pattern - I forget exactly what it was - I never wrote anything down.  Something like K1, K2Tog, YO, and possibly another K1.  Nothing fancy and it changed a little by the end.  I had set the scarf down for a couple weeks and never thought to count the pattern.  Anyway,  below is the unblocked result, with just part of it pinned out, as well as a shot of it on the needles  It just has a twist in the scarf so you see both sides.  I think it is pretty.  When I block it, it will have to be in two parts, as the twist means I cannot really lay it flat. 

    Another thing I have just started to do is to teach myself cable stitches so I can start making my Fisherman's Sweater.  To all of you who assured me they were simple, I say, indeed you were right.  I just have to count!  To this end, I have begun a sampler scarf for my son in a green wool he picked out himself.  I started with the honeycomb pattern, as it was the center of the sweater I want to replicate.

     I have a garden behind my garage which has been a source of frustration and joy since we bought this house.  It is shaded by the neighbor's white birch trees, but gets some morning sun.  When we arrived, it was a pretty woodland garden with ferns, jack in the pulpits,  some lily of the valley, the odd tiger lily, and three gnarled mountain laurels.  After a couple years, the  ferns took over, so we dug them all out.
           Ha! That was a joke, which only others who have tried this can get.  If you have a garden full of ferns, you never get them all.  Any piece of root/rhizome left behind produced more ferns.  But I yanks most of them and threw them down our cliff. (This used to be part of our back yard with about 20x 50 feet of lawn and five pine trees, but all that washed away in the flood of 2006. Now, anything which either builds soil - all the autumn leaves we rake, or holds the soil - anything with roots, gets thrown down the cliff to try to halt erosion). 
    I planted some red currant bushes in the garage garden, since they are one of the few fruits that can handle dappled shade without issue.  They did well there. I think they still are doing well.  The problem is, we can't see them.  We have been gifted with blackberries (or black raspberries - I do not know the difference) by the birds.  Our entire garage garden is one huge bramble.    It is a mixed blessing.  It brings back fond memories of July days spent with my sisters diving into the neighbor's bramble, getting scratched to bits, but having raspberries to show for it.  I love watching my children and the little boy from next door snacking on the sun-warmed berries when they get hungry while playing.  We discovered that blackberry and red currants together make wonderful jelly.   Of course, I HAVE to cut some of it back soon, or the bramble will choke out the currants.   

The bramble behind the garage.

The currants - so shiny and jewel-like.

The blackberries or black raspberries (and my daughter's manicured fingers).
If anyone knows which type of berry these are, please let me know. 

  My wish for you is that  you are having lovely weather and are able to go sit in your garden, or on your terrace and eat warm blackberries.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The tailor

The Tailor (Il Tagliapanni) by Giovanni Battista Moroni.   This is my favorite painting of a late Renaissance subject.  I love the clothes - the details of the ruffle at the cuff, the tiny slashes on the doublet and the gorgeous paning on the breeches.  However, my favorite thing is his face.  His eyes look right at you, assessing you as a customer, an apprentice - we don't know. We see the intelligence and the shrewdness in his face and want to know more.


blech, and may I say, blech, again

    I do not like humidity.  Not that I hear a lot of other people running around saying - "Oh, humid weather?  Sign me up!"  I do not mind the frizzy hair - although it is not lovely to see, but the constant sticky, I need a shower feeling is nasty!
     Hubby heads to his mom's place again this week to finish (we hope) cleaning it out.  Possible buyers are niggling around with the price.  I don't understand why a person can't say - this is my price.  This is it.  You pay this I give you that.  So right now there are discussions of taxes and fees and all the other fal dee rol that goes with selling/buying a house.  sigh...
     I want to take the boys to the pool for an hour or two.  A couple things give me pause - one: the men's dressing room.  My 14 year old has high functioning autism. This means he is more than capable of walking through the men's dressing room to the pool.  But sometime, somewhere between the entrance to one and the entrance to the other he gets lost.  I have had to send life guards into find out what he is doing.  It was a lot easier when he could walk though the ladies dressing room.
    The other thing is the possible thunderstorms today.  As luck would have it, most times we went to the pool last year, if there was a chance of storms, we arrived a few minutes before they did!  And now the clouds are rolling in...
    When all are in bed tonight, I may get more spinning done.   I have been focussing on wax today - I set up the most basic of solar wax melters, credited to Paul from New Zealand (I think).  Just a styrofoam cooler box, a plastic dish with a bit of water in it covered with a paper towel.  The wax to be melted is put on top of the paper towel and the slum gum is filtered off as the clean wax drips through into the dish below.   A piece of clear plexiglass on top allows the sun in and hold the heat.  When I get a minute I will paint the inside black to help with heat absorption since our area is not overly hot in the summer.  For now, however, a bit of aluminum foil will have to help.