As promised, I have knitting content. I finished Fina Hyrnan yesterday afternoon:
Sorry the colors are terrible. You'll have to trust me that it's a sort of mossy green.
It is a small shawl, longer than it is wide, even after stern but loving blocking. I just hope it is large enough to suit my friend. I think she'll like it, even if it's too small, just because I made it. She's that sort of friend.
And then I finished the last sock of an ugly, failed pair (the vision I had for them did not materialize).
Because they were ugly and failed (oh, and too big) they suffered from Second Sock Syndrome. But they were tying up the sock needles, which needed to be freed for Julia's arglye-a-long, for which my very professional graph and written schematics are here:
I know you're all impressed with my technical skills. Really, I do have some.
Anyway, turns out now that I didn't need my DPNs after all--but just as well to have finished the large ugly socks.
And THEN (see, it really was a crafty Sunday) I cut out the pattern pieces and fabric for my sister's Christmas present, a tote bag of black toile with a periwinkle blue canvas bottom & straps and black-and-white awning stripe lining. I am really excited about this bag, despite the fact that I can barely sew. If I can pull it together, it'll be really cute. And the best part? All the materials are stash. And even better, the toile and the awning stripe fabric were free, scraps left over from my boss's sister's renovations.
But alas, it's not all rosy skies, sunshine and puppies over here. Traditionally, the cussing begins when the sewing machine comes out, so don't hold your breath on this bag. Oh, and the other thing? My sister and I have completely opposite taste. So if I think it's really cute, she won't. But she's getting it anyway! She can give it to her daughter if she doesn't like it (my niece and I have identical taste).
But all in all, I'm pretty pleased with my holiday gift progress. Two shawls down and a tote bag begun. And the stash is a little smaller, too!
Monday, July 31, 2006
As promised, I have knitting content. I finished Fina Hyrnan yesterday afternoon:
Sunday, July 30, 2006
I find it slightly alarming how unafraid the turkeys are of me. I saw this guy through the window while I was sewing. He stood there while I opened the screen and took pictures, talking to him all the while.
After a bit, he started walking toward my neighbor's unmowed meadow
to join his hens
basking in the shade of my neighbor's crabapple tree.
P.S. What's that you say, this is a knitting blog, not Martita's Wild Life? I totally agree and promise knitting content SOON!
Saturday, July 29, 2006
I know I'm not officially part of the Saturday Sky club, but we have nice clouds this evening so I thought I'd take a picture:
The hubby has to work tonight, so I'm indulging in things he dislikes: shrimp curry and a glass (or 2) of wine for supper on the patio and sitting out until dark, watching the night fall. It's a lovely, cool evening, aftering a sweltering day.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
I don't usually do these, but I was curious how I'd do. Also, don't feel like doing any work. Turns out I am not a very adventurous person. I'm more the domestic sort...
(Completed items in bold)
01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said 'I love you' and meant it
09. Hugged a tree (drunk)
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise (drunk)
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game (1986 ALCS playoff game, Red Sox v. Angels)
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby's diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster (drunk and sober--I don't recommend drunk)
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking (drunk)
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 10 provinces or 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer then you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger's table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your cds (I vary between this and categorizing them by genre--which doesn't work as well as you would think)
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Posed nude in front of strangers
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken (this is a huge jinx and no one should bold it, in my opinion)
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
D&D Pitch for more than 6 hours straight (drunk)
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an "expert"
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Had a one-night stand
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror.
96. Raised children.
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
98. Created and named your own constellation of stars
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn't stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an illness that you shouldn't have survived (I was 3 and had a spinal tap)
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Petted a stingray
110. Broken someone's heart (not my finest moment, he was a really nice guy, but all wrong for me)
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper (with my horse)
129. Changed someone's mind about something you care deeply about (convinced my best girlfriend c. 1976 that John Denver was so cute)
130. Gone back to school
132. Petted a cockroach (you know, when I see a cockroach, I don't usually think to pet it, just saying)
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
135. Selected one "important" author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions (have skipped all high school, not college)138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you're living your dream (about 15 years ago)
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn't know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146: Dyed your hair (pretty much a constant)
147: Been a DJ
148: Shaved your head
149: Caused a car accident (20 years ago, in a parking lot)
150: Saved someone's life
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
When I planted my garden, I thought I did it for the flowers, and to beautify my yard. Now I know that I do it partly for the beauty, partly because that's what women in my family do--we have some drive to plant things, even my sister who never once showed interest in gardening growing up has a vegetable garden now--and partly for the totally awesome bugs.
Really, we have outstanding insects. I find myself going out to the garden, not to gaze on the blossoms but to gaze at the things flying around the blossoms. Even the neighborhood's pet ginormous tom turkey likes to bask in our garden (don't have a photo of that yet, but my husband's seen him). I don't know what turkeys eat, but I sincerely hope it's Japanese beetles. With slugs for an appetizer. Turkey escargot!
Here are a few of our regular visitors:
This dragonfly was not as accomodating as my blue friend. He made me chase him around the yard like a groupie.
We have a couple of butterflies. I call this one the Greater Butterfly, because it has better color.
This is the Lesser Butterfly. Its lower wings are not as bright orange as the other's (not that you can tell from my photos).
We have diligent bees around the yard. I've learned not to interrupt their work--they'll chase me off if I get in their way. They've never stung either of us, and I need them to pollinate the vegetables, so we all live in peace together. In the spring, they are all over the silver-bell tree by the kitchen door. Conversation with my husband this past May, as he looked out the kitchen window:
"Hey, look at that tree," he said.
"Yeah, what about it?"
"It's covered in bees. We've got to chop it down."
"That tree has been covered in bees every spring for the ten years we've lived here, and you've only just noticed. Ever been stung?"
"We're not chopping the tree down."
However, we have a new member of the bee family buzzing about: a very, very scary hornet who's taken up residence in the garden:
I see him out there almost every day and keep a respectful distance.
But speaking of things flying around the garden, I have a confession to make: I'm not totally sold on the hummingbirds. I know, I know! But mine aren't that pretty (which, I guess, means I have females), and when they fwap-fwap-fwap around your head, it's like the biggest, scariest prehistoric insect is coming right at you. Seriously, the first time I saw one on the patio, I dove under the table. You hear their wings before you see them, because they're so frigging loud, and then you look up, thinking, "gee, that helicopter's flying pretty low," and instead you see this flying thing the size of your fist darting around you. It's a little scary, I don't mind telling you. I mean, they're fine to look at through the window, and I'm sure they're great pollinators, I'm just not sure I'll be buying a feeder anytime soon.
Not to mention they taunt me: I sat in my kitchen sink for an hour one afternoon trying to get a picture of the damn things (they favor that silver-bell tree), and they only came by after I put the camera down. Couldn't stay away from the tree until I got the camera out, but then... oh, suddenly there's better nectar elsewhere.
You'd be bitter too.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Look what I got in the mail:
Lucky me, I won a skein of Vesper sock yarn in Claudia's MS ride drawing! I never win anything in raffles, so I am very excited about this. And is it not the most festive, Parrothead-ish color that will unquestionably lift the winter blahs? (The colorway is named Tropicali, in case you like it too).
And here's the progress on Fina Hyrnan:
Other than a few chart-reading mistakes (I find these charts hard to read--not because they're in Icelandic but because they appear to be sketched out in pencil) and poorly-spun yarn (really, there are spots spun so fine they might just not hold together), it's been smooth sailing. The blue edge is my provisional cast-on.
And then I knit it until the body was almost, almost done, and ripped it all up. Fooled you! It was way too small, and insufficiently lacy. I ripped back to the provisional cast-on, put it on larger needles and started again. This is as far as I've gotten:
It's about twice as big now and each row takes much longer to knit. Which is a good thing. The other good news about this whole experience is that I have discovered that my poorly-spun silk singles are, even at their thinnest points, apparently strong enough to survive repeated rippings. Maybe outrageous overtwist isn't all bad...
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Remember theme days at summer camp, like Backwards Day? My camp always designated one day in July as Christmas, when you’d sing carols and make each other gifts. That’s what I feel like now, as I start my holiday presents.
I hate to shop. I realize that this is weird and anti-American of me, but I can’t help it. Shopping stresses me out, especially shopping for others. Even when I’m given a list, or possibly more so when I am given a list, because then there is the expectation that I will gift that exact item, and I have to run around to find it.
Last year, by complete coincidence, almost all my gifts were handmade (by me or others—I bought several at a craft sale). I think I set foot in the mall just once, to buy my husband a DVD. And it was the pleasantest, least-stressful holiday I can remember in years.
So I pledged that this year, everyone (with the possible exception of my nephew) would receive handmade gifts. At first I felt a little guilty about throwing out the lists, and I had a little twinge of “what if they don’t like it?!” fear. And then I said, screw them.
Ha ha, just kidding! But it does feel a bit self-centered and thoughtless to prepare gifts with almost complete disregard to their recipients’ wishes. Until I remembered that some of the gifts I have treasured the most, carried with me through the years, clung to like an old teddy bear, are the ones that came unsolicited. Items I never in a million years would have thought of, things I didn’t need, presents that were pure surprises. Sure, it’s fun preparing a list and receiving things off it, but it might be even more fun to get things you didn’t see coming, both because you have your horizons broadened and you gain some insight into the gift-giver.
Last year I knit scarves and gloves, sewed belts, and painted ceramics; this year I plan to sew tote bags and knit shawls, mittens, hats and one sweater. Since I’m working on a much larger scale this year, I need to start a lot earlier, so I’ve timed my progress with the weather (light/small things in summer, heavier items in fall).
July: sew totes, knit shawl #1
August: knit shawl #2
September: knit hats/mittens/socks/scarf
October: finish hubby’s sweater
November: finish hats/socks/mittens
One of the best parts about this whole odyssey is that almost all of the above can be created out of stash and homespun. And it’s not done completely thoughtlessly—for instance, the two shawls are earmarked for women who will truly cherish them.
I decided one of those shawls would be the completed Swirl Shawl.
When I saw it blocked on the carpet, I realized it belonged to my beloved aunt.
Next up is the Fina Hyrnan from Three Cornered and Long Shawls. I’m knitting that in the green silk/wool I picked up at Claudia’s winter swap . I’m a little concerned about the yarn because the singles have, shall we say, a little more spring in their step than I’m comfortable with. But it is July, so if the experiment in handspun is a failure, I have time to regroup.
Now the only question is, when will the cussing start? I’m guessing when the sewing machine comes out, but I’ve never knit an Icelandic shawl before…
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
You know how so many of us love dragonflies? Have dragonfly jewelry, fabric, tattoos? Well, it turns out the dragonflies love knitters right back. Last weekend, as I was knitting on the patio, a dragonfly perched right on my thigh and watched me knit for about two minutes. I didn't think anything of it until this morning, when another dragonfly (not that I can tell, really, it's not like I tag them) sat right on my baggie o'yarn while I knit and stared at me like he was mesmerized. Maybe the knitting motion hypnotizes them?
Nothing could make this little guy budge. When I pulled more yarn out of the bag, he just did a little logrolling and stayed put. Who knew knitting was so fascinating?
Until a big breeze came by and swept him up. That's when he flew over to my calf.
At that point, I was like, dude, I have to go to work. I can't be entertaining dragonflies all day. It doesn't pay well and it's hard to explain on your taxes.
I wasn't going to walk into the house wearing a dragonfly (fyi, that is where I draw the line), so I did a little yard-straightening-up. I thought the walking motion would joggle him into flying off, but instead he just hung out on my calf as I walked around the yard, doing a little weeding and watering. I sincerely hope my neighbors didn't see me, because they would just not understand walking around one's yard with a dragonfly on one's leg.
Finally, I really had to get in the shower and get ready to go. I held a piece of today's newspaper up to the dragonfly, and he walked right onto the Living/Arts section. Then I took the paper over to a shrub and he walked right onto a branch.
And then he flew away.
Monday, July 10, 2006
I finally got my kayak out yesterday. It's been in the basement since September 2004--my spare kayaking time last summer went to wedding planning instead. In the intervening year, a spider had decorated it with a fascinating tubular web that I genuinely hated to hose off.
My kayak's not a fancy-shmancy piece of boating equipment, unless you consider safety-cone orange plastic the height of style. But it's visible (extremely) to motorboats, can be dragged over sand, weighs only 30 pounds and very nearly fits inside my car.
Obviously, lugging a wet, sandy kayak home inside your car isn't optimal, but I'm too short to ever be able to get the thing on top of my car alone. This way I can go kayaking whenever I want, not just when there's someone around to help me fasten the boat to the roofrack. I just have to rig up a way to keep it from sliding right out the back of the car when I go over a bump (like it did yesterday).
Luckily there wasn't a car within miles. I am not the first person in my town to have something obstreperous fall off the back of their truck. If you come to visit me, I'm just saying, don't tailgate. I think because it is a fairly sleepy town, people (you know, like me) think, well, I'm just going across town, I don't really need to tie this down.
I never said it was an especially smart town.
It wasn't the best time to go kayaking--high tide on Sunday morning brings all the motorboats, and the greenhead flies were biting. But it was great to finally be back out on the water.
The marsh is kind of fascinating to poke around in, lots of little inlets
and sandy beaches where tiny shorebirds forage for food.
There's a constant cheeping in the marsh as the birds chat, but if the cheeping becomes especially frantic you know you have ventured too close to a nest. At that point, hasty backpedaling becomes necessary, or you'll be divebombed by angry shorebirds. Some of these birds are large, and they all tend to have long, sharp bills ideal for cracking open clamshells. You really don't want them coming at your head.
Speaking of large scary birds, there's an osprey nest in the marsh, chock full of ospreys:
and across the inlet from the ospreys is a duck blind for hunters.
There are houses out in the marsh, too. This one belongs to the local
evil bitch grande dame.
This one belongs to my friend T. (This picture was taken a few years ago, when the house was looking better).
There was a boat parked at the dock, and I could hear voices inside, so I stopped to see who was there. It was another friend, C, who is patching up the holes in the wall and replacing panes in the windows. Last year's storms left the place about one Nor'easter away from disappearing into the ocean.
And I thought to myself, what are the odds that you would run into someone you know in the marsh? If you had told me this would happen ten years ago when I moved here, I'd never have believed you. So many people move to a town and set no roots down. But I volunteered for a town board right off the bat, and I swore I would never commute to Boston. At some points, I've had to work three local, part-time jobs to make ends meet (and my hubby still moonlights). I often work six days a week; my husband, seven.
When I made myself that promise, I thought I was just sparing myself a hellish commute; I didn't realize I was tying myself into a community. Sure, I'd make a lot more money in Boston, but I wouldn't have to time my trips to the Post Office to keep them from being two-hour-long social calls. And I wouldn't run into friends in the marsh.
Sometimes I do wonder if the trade-off was worth it. I think to myself, gee, if I just sat in my car for 4 hours a day, we could afford that Caribbean vacation. Is living in a town that's your home really that important?
But I have to admit, sometimes it is. Sometimes running into a friend is the highlight of your day.