Monday, June 28, 2010

So...What About a New Sweater?

May be a cardigan?  A nice, mossy green cardigan?  Okay, I have the yarn and maybe the pattern, if it works.  I like to knit sweaters in big pieces, rather than small pieces that have to be sewn together.  I don't like fussy fitting sweaters - I like big, boxy sweaters that I can layer under - turtlenecks, shirts, lighter weight sweaters.  Those 2 requirements work pretty well together.

So what if I take this (Drops 103-1 Jacket) with long sleeves of course. OK, may be it's last year's ubiquitous jacket, but not around here!

and construct it like this?  This is Cirrus  - constructed in one piece to the underarms.  But mostly stockinette with wider moss stitch panels and the front and cuffs.

Both have sleeves that are set in and collars knitted separately and sewn on.  But I have many hours of knitting until I come to that decision.

So far, just a swatch that I have washed to check gauge before and after.

Oh, and the yarn?  Louet Riverstone Chunky in Island Moss.  I like it!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Testing, testing...

Testing.  Blogger has been tempting me with new design templates every time I log in lately, so I thought I'd give it a whirl.  I think I like the new version, but it does seem awfully green!.  I may tweak it a bit in the coming weeks, so don't be alarmed. 

A colleague was in town this week, so I gave her my best tour of Asheville.  It looks a lot like this, except that it was full of people.  Kids were romping in the fountains and pools.  The grownups were on blankets under the trees.  No special occasion - just a hot day in the city.

The workshop that I am teaching is going well.  Good prep and a terrific group of participants - a fine combination.  We will cut them loose tomorrow after presentations and lunch.  I'll do it again with another group in July.

Back to spinning every day.  Since my house is being reassembled (slowly and somewhat thoughtfully) I have carved out a place to spin.  I am much happier if I take some time to slow down and make a bit of yarn.  I'm also back to dyeing yarn.  I was  in the Asheville HomeCrafts the other day and they are happily selling my sock yarns, particularly greens.  So I have recently dyed an olive color and a teal.  I have a purple soaking now for it's second dye bath.  Looking forward to spending a bit of time at the dyepot tonight, both dyeing and planning for future dyeing.

I have knit hardly a stitch this week. Though I am reading sweater patterns so a swatch cannot be very far away. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Not as Quiet as it Might Seem

Sometimes I don't blog because there is nothing happening.  Other times it is because the chaos is not blogworthy.  Then there are times that the busy-ness might be interesting, but I'm just so busy to take the time to blog.  You decide.

Day Job:  I am currently facilitating a Summer Institute for classroom teachers.  We are looking at using Primary Sources as we study the movements of people:  Immigration, Westward Expansion, Lewis & Clark, etc.  Lots more - you can fill in the blanks.  I've been prepping for this for the last couple of weeks & now I'm in the middle of it.  We'll repeat the Institute in July for another group. 

Fiber:  Although the Etsy shop is slowed down (and I have not been posting new items because of everything else going on), I've been dyeing sock yarn for the local yarn shops.  I'm also spinning some very pretty yarn, either for myself or the shops.  And if I'm spinning again, that means,...

Home:  It's getting put back together.  Walls & ceilings are repaired and newly painted.  Furniture is now in the correct rooms.  Soon there will be art on the walls and books in the book cases.  This is a very, very, very good thing.

Garden:  Cranking out  peas (still), beans, cukes, chard (very soon), summer squash (galore) and lots more.  Weeds a-plenty!

Knitting: Swatching for a new sweater.  It will be a moss green cardigan.  That's all I know so far.

Dance:  Just completed the Summer Soiree, a contra dance weekend here in Asheville.  My sweetie was on the committee.  I led an English Country Dance workshop.  I was rather nervous, but got very good feedback from the serious EC dancers as well as folks trying it for the very first time.  George Marshall was the main caller for the weekend and he danced every dance, so I think I did okay.  If not, he would have been gone pretty quick!

On the evening's menu, summer squash fritters (see above)! Yum!!!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sunrise, Sunset

I got a lovely Etsy message yesterday afternoon from SplitRockRanch who included me in a lovely treasury full of mostly fibery goodies, with a bit of photography, beadwork and soap thrown in for good measure.  It's all in the colors of the sunset -  red, pink, orange, purple black - really remarkable work by all the artists.  I am thrilled to be in such fine company!  My roving that is shown here is my PhatFiber contribution, Fire.  I love this colorway to make and to spin.  Like much hand dyed fiber, as close as your recipes and processes can be, the work is always a surprise.  With this color combination, it it a pleasant surprise as well.

Here is the link to the treasury - see what trips your fancy.  But don't wait too long.  Treasuries are rather fleeting.  Thanks, SplitRock.  Love your batts!

I finally spun a batt or 4 myself last evening.  With my house under renovation, I kind of lost my spinning space to - well, everything. Boxes of books, an extra sofa in the studio, furniture mashed together and covered in old sheets, plus tools and plaster dust over everything.  But last evening I went to my Wednesday spinning group and spun the second half of a teal batt I carded a long while back.  It felt great!  The house is getting put back together too.  And that is a very nice thing.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Before There Was Google Maps...

I'm busy at the day job...and I am loving it!  I am preparing to lead a workshop series for teachers about using primary sources in the classroom.  For the section on maps, it's always fun for people to look at their own town. Back in the late 1800s and early 1900, there was quite a business in creating maps to encourage business owners to locate in your town - great railroads, navigable waters, actual roads.  Plenty of churches and schools and stores.  Hey - - things don't change.  Pick us, Google!

Go to the Library of Congress's Panographic Maps Collection.  See if you can find your town; then your neighborhood or street.  I live on a bend in the road, so I can find my house with ease, even though the Asheville maps do not have a north-south orientation.  It's all about the river!

When I was helping clean out my parents' house, there was a mailing tube in a closet.  I opened it up and there was a poster size map of Saint Cloud, Minnesota, circa 1869.  Sweet!   Enough of this - Back to work!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Old Sheep in the News

I heard this fascinating article on NPR (or course) about Navajo Churro sheep and the people who raise them.  Thought I'd share it with you...

Though I admit that I never spun Churro wool, there is a shepherd who brings her fleece to SAFF.  I may test out a fleece this fall.  As the article says, it is a strong fleece, perfect for blankets and rugs - not that I really make woven blankets and rugs, though. I'd like to.

There was very little fiber activity going on at the world headquarters of Smoky Mountain Fibers this weekend, although I did some custom dyeing. But on the home repair front, things cooked!  The LR and DR are now painted - and looking good.  Don't look too closely!  We have not lost our amateur status as painters.  But as energetic wielders of the brush and roller, we did just fine.  Pictures to come!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hidden Garden

There is a charming spot that I pass whenever I walk to downtown Asheville (which is to say, fairly frequently).  I live in an urban neighborhood, but there is a bit of open space.  Some of it is non-buildable, mostly because of the landforms that make it difficult, expensive, or just not a very good idea.  In this case, there is a creek in an underground culvert.  But someone in the neighborhood has a bit of a garden on this reclaimed bottom land.

As traffic goes overhead, pedestrians know to look into the ravine below....

Just about a quarter mile north of downtown, look over the guard rail on the left.  You'll see....

Beets, salad greens, squash, watermelons, all nicely mulched.

As well as potatoes, tomatoes, peas, beans and lots more.  I've never seen anyone tending the garden, but I so appreciate its charm, beauty and tender care.  Someone loves this hidden garden!

Requisite fiber content:  Yesterday I finished one knit hat and began another.  I also knit a bit on my gull lace hat, but it require some actual concentration, so it was had to do while on a web meeting!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Blowing in the Wind

What better place to dry my newly dyed roving than on the garden fence.  The green beans at the base are still too small to need the top (but give them a couple of weeks), so we are adding fiber the other way.

I sell grab bags of colored fiber in my Etsy shop as well as in the local yarn shops.  I started doing them to get rid of excess fibers and leftovers.  Now I have to dye specifically for the grab bags.  The reds and greens are here.  The blues were still in the dyepot when these pictures were taken.  In fact this fiber was still wet when it posed.  Merino wool, it was much fluffier once it was dry.

One of my favorite kinds of weekends (particularly after a busy travel time), I stayed home this weekend.  I worked in the garden pulling zillions of weeds and planting Roma beans, dyed roving and sock yarn, and did a few long-neglected household chores.  Not too many of course.  After all, I still need time to knit and spin and read and blog!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

On the Fruit Farm

This is the time of year that this blog should be titled Smoky Mountain Gardens, although I'd had a good bit of fiber stuff going on.  But even my fiber is influenced by the plant world.  This is a roving I call delphiniums (Delphinia?) and was one of my Phat Fiber contributions.

Several years ago I had a friend who turned his suburban yard into something of an orchard, with fruit trees, grapes, strawberries and several other fruits.  I always admired his variation on the backyard vegie garden.  A few years ago I started on the same path.  My boyfriend like to dig holes and not only supported this idea but went a wee bit crazy with it.  It started innocently enough with a couple of elderberry bushes for a very practical reason:  they grow under black walnuts and they screen the neighbor's rather unsightly yard.  That set of neighbors have moved on, but the elderberries have filled in nicely and seem to like to spread.   Currently in bloom, look for elderberry cobblers and pies later this summer.

Do you like raspberries? I do.  So a couple of years ago the BF dug a trench and planted about a dozen red raspberry canes.  They are quite happy, even inside their 'cage.'  Last year we had a good crop - we even made 2 batches of preserves.  Yum!   

For a city lot, my yard a fairly big.  A house between my other (the Good Neighbor) neighbor burned down many years ago.  The then-owner of #95 bought the lot and for many years it was the 'hang out' yard for all the neighborhood kids.  A sloping lot, there is a ledge about 1/2 way down.  It is now the Blueberry bed.  About 6 plants with different varieties to stretch the season.  Because it is only their 2nd year, there was a good bit of domestic discord over whether the blossoms should be sacrificed to put energy into roots and leaves and branches.  In the end I persevered to allow a couple to bear fruit.  Science, after all.  And it is a banner year for blueberries in these parts, so I decided to tent the berries so the birds (and kids!) wouldn't get them all!  A couple have ripened and I gotta say, very tasty!

The newest kid on the lot is Miss Figgy - a brown turkey fig that we planted last fall, so this is her first summer. We hope to get a fall crop of figs.  So as not to bore you, my good readers, I'll just say that we also have grapes, rhubarb and a rogue stand of blackberries.   

I've been called a little fruity a time or two.  and I'm all for it!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Outside is a Good Place to Be

Since my house is undergoing destruction major repairs right now, outside is a good place to be.  I have spent a good bit of May digging in the dirt and am beginning to have something to show for it.  The sugar snap peas are a wonderful part of my diet right now, crunchy and full of green goodness.  I am having salads of lettuce (4 kinds) and radishes (Easter Egg mix) and baby beet greens.  I can probably start snitching baby chard leaves too.

The tomatoes are filling in nicely along with the peppers, eggplant and basil.  The summer squash seem to grow by leaps and bounds each day.  The Delicata squash are a bit slower, but they look good.  The winter squash are beginning their annual sprawl across the yard and this year I want to mulch them better, so I don't have a field of tall grass with squash runners amuck.

The flowers are happy too.  Each year we have poppies that self seed in seemingly random places.  I've been pulling them out of the beet bed, but I like them to grow in the flower beds, later I'll mow some of them, but their delightfully sculptural seed pods provide food for the birds as well as visual interest.  Next year's poppy surprise comes from them too.  This year we have doubles and singles.  Some are highly ruffled, others pleasantly simple.  Mostly red; a few purple.

Just above the poppies is the row of blueberries and eggplants; above them are the lavender roses.  This year I'm going to let the roses go natural.  No more sprays; just heavy mulching and frequent cutting back of the spent blooms.  Fine Gardening's article (though I can't find it on their site) has encouraged me to go organic and force them to toughen up!

One of my favorite totally (ok, nearly) maintenance-free plants is this big old-fashioned yellow rose.  I don't know the name of the variety, but I got a start from my friend Heather, how dug hers up from her grandmothers garden over in Brevard, NC.  Right now it has hundreds of fragrant blooms.  The only maintenance: cut it back now and them, tell it how beautiful it is, send loving thoughts to Heather & her grandmother and occasionally burst into a chorus of the 'Yellow Rose of Texas.'

Requisite fiber content:  I knit a bunch of hats!  My Memorial Day mini-break was to visit friends a couple of hours away.  While at their house, it rained a good bit, so swimming, working in their garden and hiking were somewhat curtailed.  Sitting on the porch, knitting, talking, knitting, eating, reading and knitting were in high demand.  My hostess knit at bit too, making an orange coaster.

I will be happy after the house is put back together and I can move around my dye studio more easily, every surface is not covered with non-fiber related tools and I have a place to sit and spin.  I am going a bit crazy in that department.