Wednesday, November 26, 2014

This and that and a lull

Just a slight one. It's such a busy time of year and the past week has been full. Too full to do much knitting; probably 6 rows at most. But I'll catch up when the frenzy dies down.

Car inspection, registration, start the snow blower, use the snow blower, clean a bit, re-arrange a bit in preparation for the upcoming holidays, finish some home projects such as painting the upstairs bathroom, put a shelf in above my desk, and find ways to make housekeeping easier. But not too easy, joy is in the doing, after all. Just a little easier like moving the toaster oven to a more convenient location and cleaning the cast iron cookware.

I'm not worried about the knitting taking a rest. It's a good thing now and then. I must say I've been on quite a lace kick since mid-summer.

Discovered some new to me music recently. I find it enormously exciting to discover an artist I've never heard of before, even though they may have been around for some time. Such are the two recent musicians whose music I recently stumbled upon. Absolutely love their music.

A young man who goes by the name Passenger:

And a man named Jose Gonzalez:

Part of the recent home improvements has been an effort to make my Christmas cactus happier. It's in its second year with me and is blossoming just beautifully. I've had it resting on a wooden board protruding from the window sill, so on Sunday I made a brand new macramé holder for it. I'm happy because it looks so much nicer than the board it replaces, and I think the cactus is happy to have a brand new house.

Did I mention the beloved snow blower? Yes I did. I started it up this afternoon for it's first run of the season. Snow started falling around 1pm and has been going non-stop. Several inches already. So absolutely gorgeous up in these hills, and when the snow blower is not running there's a most soothing silence and stillness. Luckily I was able to get one last walkabout the labyrinth yesterday and I suspect that will be the last until spring thaw. It felt really good to walk it after a week-and-a-half, like a breath of fresh air, a bath for the soul.

I picked up some Balsam Fir incense over the weekend. Do you remember it? I love the stuff (brings back memories) and what a atmosphere it creates inside the house. In the high days of summer the sense is of wanting the outdoors to flow in, around, and out of the house--blurring the lines between inside and out. Now, approaching the depths of winter, these walls are a solid barrier creating very distinct inside and outside spaces, thankfully. Indoor heating. Now there's something I'm thankful for on this eve of Thanksgiving. And modern medicine, and transportation, and convenience. So much to be thankful for. And I, personally, have much to be thankful for.

Tomorrow I'll join some homeless students at Plymouth State Univ, along with a few professors, and my neighbor (who invited me) and her college-aged children for a Thanksgiving dinner. I think it's going to be quite lovely.

Last but not least, I'm joining a community orchestra with my cello. First rehearsal will be next Wednesday evening. I'll report back.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Slight interruption ...

Golly, 2 weeks since my last post!

I've been taking stock of all the recent changes. Long gone are the green leaves of summer. Their kaleidoscopic display is fallen and the earthy-toned remains are now covered by an inch of frozen water molecules, like frosted flakes.

The outdoor decor is under cover, the dead garden remains heaped upon the compost pile. A goodly amount of wild blackberry bushes have been pulled out by the roots and the task will resume next spring. The spring bulbs made it into beds and the dahlias and gladiolus are tucked in for the winter, down stairs. The gasoline powered machinery is drained of fuel and secured for the next 4 (or so) months. I wrapped a wire cage around the Buddleia and half filled it with some spent leaves; hoping it will do more than just survive the cold months ahead.

I like the light at this time of year (what little there is of it). I like the way it reflects off the snow and makes my rooms brighter. I like the winter sky, the greys, the blues shining through the trunks of trees now unimpeded by foliage. I can see clear through the woods from here to the road. It makes for a cinematic background.

The spring yellow shawl was interrupted so I could make a scarf to go with the Aran vest I made earlier this year. I wanted to have a "Christmas outfit". The scarf was fast to knit up and not very taxing. It's called "Stained Glass Lace Scarf" and the pattern is by Anna Dalvi. Available through Ravelry. I think it's a nice companion to the vest:

Changes ...

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Stole finished ...

The stole I began 2 years ago is done. This is the one I found in a box at the back of the closet back in July. A box from the move, full of items I'd plum forgot about! It feels good to have it finished after all this time; there's so much satisfaction in finishing a project.

It came out OK. It has had a series of issues which I've had to contend with. First there was the big color pool which became noticeable shortly after it was started. That pool is not as visible now that the shawl has been blocked and I think I'm going to simply leave it be. Then, while it sat in the closet, it provided a snack one night for a moth after a quick nosh. It was only 2 small holes and luckily it's easy to hide the patch up in the lace. It's almost impossible to see where the moth left it's mark. And, of course, there are the odd mistakes here and there, again all but impossible to find.

The pattern is called "Print O' The Wave Stole" designed by Eunny Jang. A nice, nice pattern.

I have slight misgivings about using a variegated yarn. The pattern would be clearer without the distraction of color. But still, it's not bad looking.

I bought a new skein of Italian Merino while in NYC last week and yet another shawl is in the works. This one is called Echo Flower and in my opinion, it's a real looker. I'm going to make the shawlette version in this gorgeous, spring color (great color to be working with at this time of year!):

I worked on it last night and we had knitting group this afternoon so I have a little to show, but it's not looking like much yet:

Speaking of this time of year... It was 30 degrees this morning, howling winds, power outage, and the clocks turned back. What happened? It was August just a few weeks ago! Thankfully, power was restored after a couple hours.

Monday, October 27, 2014

A sad day ...

It's been a difficult 4 days. Had to bury Pumpkin today. I found her on the floor of the bird room last Thursday morning, having gone during the night.

She was an inspiration, and like all other birds I've ever known, sweet sweet sweet. For the last several years she was blind in one eye. I believe her injury was the result of a fight with another bird, but I'm not sure. Found her bloody and injured one night after work. She healed slowly but surely and pulled through. Her flight was not as strong after the injury as before it, but she managed quite well within the confines of the bird rooms, both here and in NY. And she held her ground well.

I will miss her. Her 'home' was one corner of the seed platform, a place she found more comfortable than a perch, most assuredly attributable to her previous injury. There she has been every day for the last 5 years (maybe more, I've lost track) as I enter to change the seed and bring fresh water. Never one to let on that she may be a little weaker, she'd feign ruffled feathers and fly over to the window perch while I replenished their food.

Sweet Pumpkin.

Death is hard. The day I lost Pumpkin I was scheduled for a day long class at the quilt shop and almost didn't go. It took me the whole hour of changing the bird's food and doing dishes and getting ready, to decide that my best bet was to go, and if it became too much I could gracefully leave early. It was good that I went. ...

There was a dear woman working at the shop when I first arrived last year. She was always a pleasure to greet when I went in, helpful and congenial. A sweet soul. I saw her last this summer after she had had a heart attack and by all appearances was on the mend. Only last month I went into the shop to learn that she had passed away, having suffered a series of grave health problems. She wasn't very old. It seemed that one moment she was with us, and then she was gone, so suddenly and unexpectedly.

I discovered her portrait hanging on the wall of the workroom last Thursday morning as I walked in for the class, along with some of her quilting work. It was a memorial and tribute. As soon as I saw it I knew, and asked her to greet Pumpkin as she arrived. It brought some deep sadness, but a bit of peace.

Pumpkin is buried up near the trees by the stone wall.

A hard week.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Estonian Lace ...

The Estonian lace crescent shawl is done. Blocked it yesterday. It was my first crescent shawl and the first time I've ever done nupps. They were a source of frustration for a while but eventually the technique evened out. Not until I was over half way through did I think to confer with YouTube for some videos showing how they may be accomplished. It appears to me they are probably easier when executed using the Continental knitting style. I usually knit English style and found it difficult to knit the nupps loose enough--and they do need to be loose--to manage purling all 7 stitches together on the return row. I resorted to using a small crochet hook, yet that look a while to master as well. What can I say? It was worth it:

The pattern is called "Minarets and Lace" by Mary-Anne Mace, available on Ravelry: Minarets and Lace

In spite of the nupp learning curve--and other than the nupps--the shawl is not terribly difficult and I managed it in 2 weeks, start to finish.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Vermont Sheep & Wool ...

Last weekend was the Sheep and Wool festival of Vermont, held in Tunbridge. I almost didn't go because the car hasn't been up to snuff, but the mechanic told me it should hold up ok so I decided to go for it on Sunday. We made it over and back, but it was apparently a close call. The following day I drove the car into the garage and it was discovered that my radiator had a leak. So a new radiator, plus a new block sensor, and new A/C pulley and gas cap adjustment and tire stud has left my wallet blowin' in the wind. But it needs to pass inspection next month, so there it is.

It was a brilliant day, very much a contrast to the downpours of Saturday. The festival was lovely, not quite a large as NH, but lovely, and well run. It's a wholesome feeling to attend one of these festivals, and just thrilling to do so in the autumn months. The animals, farmers, country folk, hand crafts, beautiful yarns and wool, fleeces, crispy air and earthiness. Oh, I do love it.

My stash enhancement:

Mosaic shawl... an FO

The mosaic shawl (it's the New Caesar - Triangular Shawl by Stitchnerd Designs) was finished last Saturday. It had been a most enjoyable knit. There is something about mosaic technique that really appeals to me, not to mention the fabulous results one can achieve with it. I think it's the fact that there's so much slipping of stitches; it makes the work seem to go fast.

It turned out 61" across the long edge and 34" down the center of the triangle. I just barely ran out of the green yarn and substituted a different one for casting off, which gives it just a hint of glimmer along that edge. I like it that way.

My new project is another shawl: An Estonian lace and I'm very excited. Can't wait to show it.