Monday, December 9, 2013

Late Autumn Snapshots

I'm still catching up on my blogging and past photos. Being absent the whole summer makes me feel like I'm scrambling to get back on track.
This particular batch of photos is not from any one day, but rather snapshots scattered throughout the autumn. 
The garden did well in most respects this year. We had a good corn crop, zucchini coming out of our ears and lots of butternut squash. The tomatoes were rather sad this year though. I think they had a touch of something because most of them were rotting before they even ripened fully. 
Because we had warm weather so late into the autumn it felt like the summer lasted for a long time. And that thrilled me.
I love all the seasons, they each hold their own charms, delights, activities and trials. But spring and summer have a special place in my heart because it is the time of year when I can be outside, as much as I want without the limitations that colder weather brings. There's is no bundling up in coats, warm socks, hats, mittens, cowls and boots to face the blustery, bitter winds for a quick run to the city or nearby post office before dashing back inside out of the cold. 
When it is warm I just walk outside, barefoot in the grass, to do chores, spin out on the patio, check on the garden, or just take a meandering little walk. I can be in nature and revel in all the glory that summertime brings. 
Cool summer evening, the tree frogs making racket high above, a blush of pink on the horizon as the last light fades. Early mornings with dew-drenched grass and having oatmeal and tea out at the picnic table in the front lawn. Taking walks before the heat of the day hits. Sinking toes in the cool earth, or walking across the hard, rain-deprived clay. Picking veggies and flowers on a quiet evening. Bonfires with friends and family. The cheerful crackle of logs and the chatter of voices. Trips to the lake, across the hot sand, cooling our feet at the end of the journey. Hiking in the still calm of the forest. Bicycling with the wind in my face. Climbing the bluff at our favorite cabin and smelling the crisp lake air. The sound of the wind blowing high above in the pine boughs. The smell of a freshly mowed lawn. Watching the sun rise....
I could go on and on. 

And maybe someday I will. As I have been typing this up the thought occured to me of jotting down my favorite things/memories/moments of each season. I'll probably write it down in my art journal, make it all fancy and splash on some watercolour. And then maybe I can share my thoughts on here. Or perhaps even photos of the actual project. 
Meanwhile, what's your favorite season? And why is it your favorite? I'd love to hear from you!

Up Next: Thanksgiving Snowfall

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Late Summer project: Painting

There's nothing like a splash of red paint to make a wall look good! Still need to finish the detailing but it's coming along fine.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Project Portfolio :: My fourth Age of Brass & Steam Kerchief.

After I finished my previously shown shawl, but while the Age of Brass and Steam Sal/Kal was still going on, I decided to start another shawl with the same pattern. My sister was wanting a shawl and the Age of Brass seemed the perfect fit. This is the fourth one I have knit and it fairly flew off of the needles. The yarn I used was all various handspun skeins that I spun over the last year or so. I believe the majority of it was spindle-spun; I can't remember about the last section though...that may have been done on my wheel. I obviously need to keep a more detailed spinning journal!
 Instead of doing the standard bind-off I opted for a few more rows of garter stitch and then did a picot bind-off. It made for a tidy edge and the picot gave it a nice feminine flair. I've always been a fan of picots, other then the fact that they eat up a lot of yardage. But it's worth the yard and time in the end. 
The shawl blocked out beautifully.  I just wet it, squeezed out the water, and laid it flat to dry on a towel. When cold weather hits blocking knit items does become rather tedious. It sometimes takes days for things to dry and this little shawl was no exception. It always amazes me how blocking works miracles on a project. This particular pattern is very forgiving when it comes to blocking. A lot or a little, it always turns out splendid. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Spinning in Literature

"People speak of the way in which harp-playing sets off a graceful figure; spinning is almost as becoming an employment. A woman stands at the great wool-wheel, one arm extended, the other holding the thread, her head thrown back to take in all the scope of her occupation; or if it is the lesser spinning wheel for flax (and it was this that Sylvia moved forwards to-night) the pretty sound of the buzzing, whirring motion, the attitude of the spinner, foot and hand alike engaged in the business - the bunch of gay coloured ribbon that ties the bundle of flax on the rock - all make it into a picturesque piece of domestic business that may rival harp-playing any day for the amount of softness and grace which it calls out."

~Excerpt taken from Sylvia's Lovers by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell.

I have always enjoyed reading through the classics. Elizabeth C. Gaskell's more popular works such as Wives & Daughters, North and South, & Cranford, are all particular favorites of mine. I have also enjoyed the BBC screen adaptations of the above named novels. In comparison to Jane Austen I find that E. Gaskell is not always as well known as an author. Often Jane Austen is raved about in particular circles while Mrs. Gaskell is almost virtually unknown. I find Jane Austen novels intersting, but nothing in comparison to E. Gaskell. Jane Austen had a very keen insight into the character and emotions of people in everyday circumstances. Her characters are very believable because they are so relatable, even to those of us in a completely different time period. 
However, much like Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell tackled problems of the day and culture in which she wrote. There is a depth to her books and they give you something to bite into and chew over for awhile, making for a fascinating reading experience. 
After being familiarly acquainted with the three novels I have mentioned, I recently decided to read some of Mrs. Gaskell's lesser know works. I read Ruth recently, and am still formulating my thoughts on that one. It's a different style then her other books I had read and I wasn't sure how I felt about it. I'm hoping someone of my acquaintances will read it and then we can have a jolly discussion about it. I'm still working up a book review for that one.
Having finished Ruth I moved on to Sylvia's Lovers. I was hesitant about starting it, based on the name. It sounded a bit absurd and not my cup of tea at all. But it was a free kindle download so I took a chance. During the week I don't have a lotnof time for reading, normally I squeeze it in during my lunchtime. Right now I'm 37% through Sylvia's Lovers and I am enjoying it. The first part moves slowly, there is a great deal of whaling talk as it is set in and around a whaling town & community. But it reads much like Mrs. Gaskell's more popular works and thus far I have found it quaint and enjoyable. Probably one of the reasons I like it so much is the fact that there is so much spinning and knitting mentioned. It's not often that I come across fiber arts in reading, so when I do I am thrilled. I'll be sure to share some more snippets on future posts. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Summer in Snapshots :: Part Two

1. More turquoise toes. And a bark dye stock. I did a little natural dyeing this summer. I will share photos of the tumeric-dyed Romney soon. This particular dye bath never went anywhere though. I had to leave the bark to soak for two weeks. And then I forgot about it and next time I checked it there were little creatures swimming in the water. Maybe next summer I will have more success with bark and dyeing.
2. My favorite spot to spin in the summer is out on the cement slab that functions as a patio for us. Part of the day it is shaded and part of the day the sun shines on it. At the height of summer it is often too hot to spin there in the sun but there's normally shade in the mornings and certain times in the Afternoon. I like to spin here in the evenings too, when everything is glowing and golden. I hung my lighthouse chimes in the tree and between those, the birds, the pretty flowerbeds, and the general sounds of summer it makes a nice place to congregate in the evenings.
3. We have a long hedge of Concord Grapes that my Grandpa planted on the property years ago. They are old and gnarly, and they need a great deal of love. I've done some research on when to prune them and how to care for them. Three years in a row someone stole the grapes right out from under us. Last year however we were able to pick them first and they made the most delicious grape jelly. Nothing compares to homemade grape jelly. Sadly to say they didn't do as well this year so no jelly until next fall.
4. When Queen Anne's Lace first unfurls it is glorious to behold. I've heard these also make excellent dye. 
5. & 6. Purple Cone Flower (Echinacea Purpurea) and Painted Daisies from my flower patch in the garden. Interesting fact I learned about Echinacea today, its name originally came from the Greek word echinos which means hedgehog. This is in reference to the spiky center of the flower.
My flowers did very well this summer. They bloomed all summer and very late into October. Cold weather and frost have finished them off for this year. I'm looking forward to adding to the patch next year. Winter is the time to study seed catalogs and plot out next year's gardening strategy.
7. We had a wonderful apple crop this year. These were also planted by my Grandpa, many  years ago. They've never done well for us but this year both trees were loaded with apples! We picked a few in September but most of them weren't ready until recently. We just finished picking them last week. I would like to make apple butter out of some of them. But many will end up as pie or just be eaten as snacks. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Project Portfolio :: The Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief

On Instagram recently there was an 'Age of Brass & Steam' Spin-along, Knit-along that I participated in. It actually landed at a timely point in my summer/autumn transition. I wasn't quite in the mood to do Autumn or Christmas knitting but this sal/kal gave me the push to get going. Now I'm excited to begin Christmas projects and I am  working on my third shawl since mid-September. But back to the Age of Brass.
Since it was a spin-along the first question to decide was what fiber to spin for it. I rummaged through my stash and pulled out an assortment of Autumn colors to card into punis. The fiber content of this shawl ended up being various blends of Merino/Corriedale/Dorset/Fine wool/BFL. I had about 7.2 ounces total after carding all the different blends. They were each spun individually,  some on my wheel and some on the spindle. Then I Navajo plied them at the end. The resulting yarns were heavy-worsted to bulky weight in thickness.
The Age of Brass is a super quick knit. It is free on Ravelry, and would make a great first-time shawl project for a beginning knitter. I am very pleased with how this one turned out. It was my third time making this particular pattern so I knew what to expect from it and tweaked the pattern accordingly for my yarn needs.
The Saturday after I finished it I blocked it aggressively in hopes of wearing it that  Sunday. It didn't dry in time, and I have yet to wear it out and about. But maybe it will get it's first airing tomorrow while I'm running errands. We'll see.
Until next time, my friends! Take care.

Summer Hiking

This Summer we went on several hikes in the surrounding countryside. The first ten photos here are from a hike that I went on with my brother and his then fiancee. It was a new hiking trail to us and we really liked it. Unfortunately we were on somewhat of a time schedule so we didn't go as far as we would have liked. Maybe if it's accessible in the cold season we can do a winter hike there. It was certainly very pretty in the summer! The beginning of the trail ran along a lake. There were lots of pine trees, wildflowers, patches of moss, various fungi, and other vegetation that made for an interesting hike. 

The last four photos are from a short hike we took the day of our church picnic. The picnic was held in a park with plenty of wooded areas and a swampy pond or two. We tried some trails I hadn't been on before and all in all it was a lovely hike.

Although fall weather has hit and the temperatures are dropping, I am still hoping to do some hiking. My favorite trails (aside from the AT in Tennessee) are about an hour and a half north of here. We've only been up that way once or twice this summer, and I've never been in the autumn. 
How about you? Any particular places or times you prefer to hike?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Summer in Snapshots :: Part One

1. Haybales in a nearby field. Nothing smacks of summer like the sight and smell a freshly baled hay field
2. Late evening mist over the fields.
3. Brunch on the front lawn. Tea. Oatmeal. Knitting. It was pretty much a perfect morning. 
4. My flower patch was a profusion of colors this year. This is year two for the perennials and they really took off. Purple Cone Flower, Black-eyed Susan, Painted Daisy, Miniature Sunflowers,  Sweet William, Coreopsis, and I know not what else. It was quite lovely and I picked many a bouquet from here this summer. 
5. Knitting. I didn't do as much this summer. But I did design a pattern or two. And I gathered lots of inspiration for the winter months when I do more knitting & designing.
6. Painted my toes aqua. Collected rocks on Holiday. It's impossible to go away to our secret cabin and not bring a few home. Well....we bring a few more then a few. *ehem*
7. Spinning. Lots and lots of outdoor wheel spinning. Out in the cement patio is my favorite place to spin. It's breezy, sunny, I'm surrounded by flowers and the ground is level for my wheel to sit on.
8. Hiking. This summer we went on several hikes. Found some new trails and explored a new area. I'd like to go back someday. There is just something about the smell and silence of a pine woods in summer....
9. Gardening. This summer we had an excellent crop of zucchini,  butternut squash, corn, and peppers.  The tomatoes perished, after yielding a bumper crop of greenness and a few god red ones. They sort of just wilted and rotted away. It was disaapointing. But I was happy for all the zucchini. Eggs with zucchini,  peppers, mushroom, onions, and tomatoes was my lunch most of the summer. So delicious. I wish I could grow a zuke plant indoors all winter. 
10. Celebrating! Watching fireworks from out on the dunes. 
11. Berrying. An abandoned blueberry patch. Picking was free and oh, was it pretty there.
12. Hollyhocks by an orchard. Single-blossom hollyhocks rank in my top 10 favorite flowers. They're so pretty, & elegantly old-fashioned.