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December 2006 Archives

December 3, 2006

I guess it's winter now!

But you wouldn't know it by the 9.5 pounds of tomatoes I picked off my three Juliet vines this first weekend of December.

The bad news is that I picked them because we're probably done with warm spells for the year. The good news is that we're three weeks from days getting longer. Yes, most of them are green, and I have grand plans and at least $15 in new McCormick spices to pickle these babies. Feel free to chime in if you have any great tips or tricks. I do very little vegetable gardening as I'm the only one who'll eat them in this house, but I'm obsessive about my tomatoes. Grandpa and I loved to talk tomatoes and grocery shopping - he was the tomato man - and I loved to call him to tell him when my little seedlings had just started to smell like tomatoes - we were both so tickled by that and excited for the tomatoes to come. He even went into his grave two years ago with one of my homegrown slicers - felt more appropriate than a rose. I lost my Brandywines to blight early this summer, and the sweet little Juliets didn't kick into high grear until those sickly plants had been removed. Though I've enjoyed the little ones tremendously, I didn't manage to produce a single slicer, which means I didn't have a single perfect tomato sandwich this summer. I'm a purist - it MUST be white bread, a thick shmear of mayo, salt & pepper - that's it. It goes without saying that the tomato must be perfect, which has become an extinct thing anywhere. I've hit natural produce stores, farmers markets, and farm stands from the Outer Banks to DC and they all sell the same bland, odorless, tasteless tomato. Yuck.

Wish me luck - if these pickled green cherry tomatoes work, I could be done with Christmas gifts for a bunch of folks. Especially since I don't do Christmas. But that's another story.

December 4, 2006


That slapping forhead moment when you figure something out, right before you kick yourself for being so stooopid! I have no pride, so let me illustrate with a personal, it really happened to me moment:

The first time I attempted to ply some yarn on my fantabulous new spinning wheel, I spent a good 15 minutes trying to figure out how to tie the ends of the two singles onto the bobbin. I mean, I worked up a sweat trying to figure the darned thing out. I (unsuccessfully) poked the orifice threader thingy* in from the wrong side from every conceivable angle to grab those singles so I could tie them on the already situated, empty bobbin. I licked the end of the singles like you do when threading a needle and tried to poke it in that way. At this point I was stomping around and sighing heavily, and still sweating. Brain really hurting now. Here it comes - the lightbulb moment - why would tying on to ply be any different than starting to spin some fiber?? You know, like use the leader and thread it through the right way? Luckily, one of my other favorite pastimes, besides the obvious fiber ones, is to laugh heartily at myself. You can bet that, after I cooled down, I had a good belly laugh.

This is my latest yarn - some domestic wool that I was trying to spin thin. For some reason I'm terrified of putting in too much twist, so I often put in too little. It's not so bad, pretty colors, and I used a bit I had started on my drop spindle to finish two-plying about 94 yards of it.

I am a very unscientific person, and by that I mean that I keep no notes, am known to knit a whole project with the wrong needles because I thought they looked like the right ones (currently, a moebius bag to be felted), couldn't tell you a damned thing about past projects, and get to the end of recipes to find something like "now add the reserved sugar" from way the hell back in step 2 where you put it all in already. But I'm making strides to keep better track - behold the Notebook of Spinning (wah -haaaaaAAAA):

I'm quite proud of it. It lives in the living room, the same room the wheel lives in, and already has three pages filled! See how clever I am? I taped the label from the bag of fiber on the page! I feel so organized. It just goes to show you - it really IS the little things. I'll get a lot of mileage out of this notebook.

*Hook - it's called a hook! I knew it would come around again.

December 7, 2006

Pickle Power!

I did it - I pickled twelve pints of green tomatoes. In all their Ball-jar glory:

I used to do a lot of canning because I used to pick a lot of berries at one of my three favorite places in the world, Homestead Farm in Poolesville Maryland - heaven. I would go in work clothes and heels the moment their recording said the early glow strawberries were ready for picking. (I don't like cooked strawberries - these were just for eating.) Next came blackberries, followed closely by the raspberries. If I was lucky, the wonderful and charming farmer Ben, always in his red hat, would grant me access to his super special black raspberry patch - oh the jam I made from those beauties. Homestead always had a late raspberry field in August, and then came all the fun fall produce - apples, pumpkins, hay rides. I even got engaged in the strawberry patch there a gazillion years ago one early Saturday morning - terribly romantic but luckily, I didn't marry that guy. For some reason, that year I made jam with the strawberries we picked that morning and ick - never ate it. Should have been a sign.

Anyway, this time I treated myself to a canner (big splatter-ware pot with rack), which in all those years I never had, and it made the experience that much better. I don't think I've ever had pickled green tomatoes, but it sounded like a good thing to do, so when they've "cured" for a few weeks, I'll taste and decide if I can give them away. I was a devoted jam maker - inventing ways to reduce sugar by using natural pectins like apple peel and finely diced lemon rind - this is really a first for vegetables. The canner made the required hot water bath easy. I could see doing more of this, and as DH would say, now I have the tools and the talent!

This endeavor took an entire evening and so I have nothing fibery to tell you about. Next post...

December 11, 2006

Monday Treats!

I arrived home from work tonight to find a mystery package at my door from Purl Soho. I simply couldn't imagine what it could be or who would be so savvy to order me something from there. Opened it up to find, inside lovely pale blue tissue, the most amazing, iridescent, apricot/pink Lantern Moon silk taffeta bag and a set of Blue Sky Alpaca dpns from India - made of Surina wood and packeged in a gorgeous little tin. From my sister-in-law, who is my new knitting buddy all the way in snowy Michigan. Outta the blue! And things I wouldn't have bought for myself. We did see her over Thanksgivng, and the two of us immediately flopped on the floor and dumped out the knitting bags for show and tell. What fun!

I have been spinning - all of the lovely BFL from Spunky Eclectic, which is now two-plied and drying from the twist setting party yesterday. This is all my wheel-spun so far - 8oz of corriedale that's plied in lots of ways, and the winey wool shown recently below.

I'm still doing the too-little twist thing, both in plying and in the singles. I attempted a scientific method of splitting the roving into six sections and wrapping them up nicely, with the correct end to start with on top, and placed them gently in a big bowl next to my wheel. (DH strolled by and at first glance thought it was a bowl of water.) We know how good at science I am, so during the course of the several days I spun this lovely stuff, I needed the bowl for the pickling excercise, and simply lost complete track of which end was up on any of them. I achieved one stretch where the colors line up together pretty nicely, but the rest is all mixed up. Not that there's anything wrong with that - but not what I set out for. Gorgeous though! Now to figure out what to do with 220 yards of it. I'm simply not a knit hat wearer, except for my felted Bottoms Up Bucket hat that I'm wearing now, especially since my hairdresser took me veeery literally about "going short." We have a few variables for cutting my hair, the most important of which is how soon I'll be seeing my mom. Since I just saw her and it was long, (which for me means I need a brush) and of course, she commented on how she loved it like that even though it was winging out in the back and poofy over my ears. So I'm resorting to wearing a bit more makeup for a while to avoid looking like my hair's just growing in after chemo. Before and during shots - oh yeah - you forgot we were talking about spinning the BFL:

Haven't managed a good finished shot yet, and I haven't checked out wpi for any of my yarn, and I'm itching to make something with it. I can't bear the thought of felting fiber I've invested so much into making look like beautiful yarn - it seems like going backwards somehow. I'll likely do some sort of accessory-type scarf thing - nothing fancy.

I decided this weekend that one of the very few things as satisfying and gratifying as playing with fiber is home improvement/yardwork projects. We've been working very hard on landscaping for the past 8 months, and things are starting to look good. Come spring, they could look fabulous! I even, after lots of serious discussion with DH, did a leeeelte bit of Christmas decorating. We have no kids, we buy what we want/need all year, don't do organized religion, and so have no real connection to this holiday. I can't stand the pace and the stress in the air and the bad drivers and the general hysteria - it's been a while since we've done any decorating. I think the last time was in our apartment and we ended up draping greenery around the TV - pathetic. So anyway, we have this great house that we love, and in the end decided the only reason to decorate was because our house deserved it. Don't you hate when you've just read the whole story and then the blogger says "sorry, but I haven't gotten a good picture yet" so you have to come back to see it - as if! But, come back later, please - as soon as I have some light I'll snap one! And then don't be mad because it's really anticlimactic and silly that I'm so delighted by three wreaths with red bows, but I am.

December 12, 2006

Wow - you did all that yourself?

I know, this is some bare bones Christmas decorating, but it makes me smile every time I pull up. I tried to aim our little solar spotlights up on them, but DH will surely fix that when he gets home. The one on the far right is noticably smaller than the other two, and at lunch, just before the photos, I attempted to switch it into the middle for a more intentional effect. Forgot that I limked all three together with the invisible fishing line I couldn't see and forgot all about, so unsymmetrical it stays. Mom thinks I should do a couple wreaths on the windows on the sunroom on the other side of the house for balance, but I can see that quickly turning into those candles in every window, and then icicle lights dripping from the porch and... the horror! This is just the right amount for my deep-rooted bah-humbug-ness. Hohoho.

December 15, 2006

Moebius Mania

Or madness. I can't stop. I LOVE these things! They knit up uber-quick, they're mindbogglingly amazing, and they are so organic just like Cat describes them. I have moebius projects lined up as far as the eye can see. Seriously - it's cutting into my spinning time!

These are moebii 1-6, missing #2 which was gifted in the Secret Santa baloney at work. I didn't like it so much - I tried to be crafty and do math in my head (this is never, ever a good idea) and upscale the thing by half. It worked - to a point. I didn't make any scale arrangements for the decreases, and ended up with a bit lot of puckering. I also used only a single strand of Cascade 220, so it was pretty very flimsy felt. The recipient doesn't know any better - and also seemed completely indifferent to the fact that the basket only had one edge. And one freaking surface! Don't you get it? It's a MOEBIUS! Phew.

Anyway, these are all drying after their fun hot water adventure, and the next post will feature them in all their one-surface glory. I love everything about them - right up to blowing up a balloon inside them to dry them in a lovely round shape. The pale pink/purpley thing is a double basket that is thisclose to being done, but I ran out of yarn. And you know, it's just hard to get to the yarn shop when you're a working girl who's got chores and things to do with DH on the weekend. And especially now, with all the absolute worst crazies on the road searching frantically for that perfect holiday present - traffic hell and more than my patience can bear. (Whine) I'll live, it will get finished, and I'll knit some more with something else. The turquoise blob in the lower right corner is a first for me in felting - it fused together. After trying my very best to slice it open, I gave up and now I'll cut it into embellishments - note the circle already cut.. WoolPak sure felts fast, hard, and thick!

December 20, 2006

I love the smell of wet wool in the morning

Okay, so it wasn't morning, it was after work. But I do love the smell of wet wool. Makes me think of the time that, as a hurricane approached, my family was forced to pack up its tent village wet and drive home from Ocracoke with four adults and four children and two 50 pound dogs in a Bronco who were also all wet. Mmmm....memories.

Anyway, it's those magical moebii (?) which smell all wet-wooly, and boy oh boy are they fun. The different yarns make for very different felt and so the fun just never ends. Then you add colors - wheeeee! I see bunches of these like tribbles all around the house. I adore the little turquoise one which is made with WoolPak - single strand of the 10 ply, I think. The surface of this basket is all pebbly and I'm mad for it. Bought it on my 40th birthday trip to NYC last January when we stumbled on Purl - it has been wondering what it wants to be ever since. I'm in the process of making another, and I'll do as many as I can with the 880 yards of this pretty turquoise. The others are two strands of the ever-wonderful Cascade 220 - reliable, sturdy felt. Crappy pictures because one of them had to make its exit yesterday to go on to its new home. When I go to pick up DH's birthday (25th - ugh) honey baked ham on Friday I'll buy enough yarn to finish the double basket (gotta get all errands done early Friday morning - first of eleven straight days I'm off with DH - don't want to waste a minute) and I think I'll try the one with many more twists soon.

December 24, 2006

Somebody stop me!

Not really - I'm having waaaaay too much fun. May I present the latest moebius basket, BUNS!

Cat Bordhi describes this as anatomical in her Second Treasury, and I did consider the bare bum-ness of the pale pink when selecting colors, and I couldn't be more pleased with the results. It's the first time I've ever knint with Lamb's Pride - pretty nice stuff, and double-stranded on 13s it makes for a very sturdy felt. Stands up on its own. Hinies, IMHO, are always fun. (How in the world do you spell that nickname for fanny??) I have another on the needles and one waiting in the wings - I can't stop.

I even managed to do the teeny tiny bit of finishing required to make these socks an FO - finally. Made a pair for twin sis for our big birthday last January and then cast right on to make the exact same pair for me from the giant bag of Elann Esprit sock yarn I bought a ton of for a project it was absolutely wrong for. They've been moving between various knitting piles, and somehow ended up in the active pile in the corner of the loveseat I live in. Two ends to weave in - what have I been waiting for? It's a pattern from Interweave some time ago - don't ask, I don't remember. Slouchy socks - very comfy, and it's hard to beat turquoise anything.

Hohoho and merry merry to all - slugfest continues here through at least tomorrow!

December 26, 2006

It doesn't get any better than this

Or any more ridiculous. Since I took this week between Christmas and New Year's off for the first time in my professional life, I have lots of time to be a) a slug in my pj's, b) a domestic goddess, and c) a mad spinner. Not bad - I know I could get used to this. DH is home with me too - nice. As I just paused to move the slide on my bobbin, I realized I was completely over-the-top silly, because: I'm wearing a new Christmas tie-dye from DH who finds the most amazing shirts at REI with my plaid flannel pj bottoms, I'm spinning up some lovely Wensleydale (I think), and we're watching the Neils (Diamond & Young) and Joni and Van the Man with The Band in The Last Waltz on cable. Could I be any more hippie-70s? For the record, I was born 10 years late in 1966 - but that's another story. For your viewing pleasure, and please do chuckle out loud:

Nice, huh? I think you're allowed to wear prints together if they're in the same color family, no? Isn't my Lendrum pretty?

I'm having one of those David Byrne "how did I get here" times. It really doesn't get much better than this life I've somehow ended up with. I have the very best husband, a fabulous house, two great cats (gratuitous shots below), family, a spinning wheel, and all the other comforts I could ask for. Really - how did I get here? If you knew where I was 20 and even 10 years ago you'd be as astounded as I am. I do believe that, in all the crap, the messes, the failures, the new starts, I've earned this, just like I've earned the gray hairs I'm culitvating.

Just to keep up the theme, I just finished plying the yarn above (spun to the Band) with Richie Havens doing Freedom in the Woodstock movie. Too much! I think it's the finest plying I've done yet - I should make sure to have brilliant tunes on for plying all the time.

The best cats - Indigo and the Bluefish:

About December 2006

This page contains all entries posted to Dawn's Dream in December 2006. They are listed from oldest to newest.

November 2006 is the previous archive.

January 2007 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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