31 August 2010

3 ton boxes (and other heavy hobbies)

My recent three weeks of blogging silence can be blamed on the exhaustion that results when one changes residences. Over the last five years I've moved around seven times. This time, however, I think I may be living in my new location for a while.

For those of you who follow this blog, you'll know my current location when I write that I'm finally living in the house that overlooks my garden. (Garrett's house!)

Every time I move I rethink my hobbies . . . the bags of books, cooking and knitting magazines. Are they really worth the backache and the pain of moving them from point A to point B?

Yesterday we finally got my last bookshelf in place and I was able to unpack all my books. Garrett had a hard time believing this, but every book that I chose to bring with me is a book that I have read and would reread.

Here are some of the greatest hits:

Barbara Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer
Alice Hoffman's Here On Earth and Practical Magic
Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility
Mary Oliver's poetry
Rumi's poems
E. M. Forster's A Room with a View
and much much more, of course!

Still, I have to admit that I did appreciate the lighter boxes that had to be moved from my apartment. The baskets full of fiber and yarn.

The yarn in the top photo is some of our mill spun CVM romeldale fiber in a soft charcoal gray. I already have a sweater (Interweave Fall 2010) in mind to knit with it when I get the chance.

This naturally colored yarn makes me think of all the colors and textures that can be found in the world around us. Shells, bark, horns and bird's nests.

A sheep's soft fleece.

Here's a specimen from our pasture at Crosby Hill Farm. She's pretty proud that last year's fleece made it into yarn.

Happy knitting and spinning everyone!

11 August 2010

valentine's chili + coffee (iced)

I don't know if anyone else out there is like this, but I found this recipe in Good Housekeeping for "Red Valentine's Day Chili" and even though it's August in the middle of a heat wave I had to try it out.

First of all, the recipe called for tomatoes, peppers, onions and beets. Ingredients that I have on hand in the garden.

There were some things that I tossed into the chili pot even though the recipe didn't call for them. Tomatillos for example. I have one tomatillo plant, and I swear, if it could it would take over the entire garden.

I've cut it back several times, but it's still branching out. Its fruit reminds me of Chinese paper lanterns.

Here's some of the ingredients mixed up in the pot. One of the things I love about cooking is chopping up all of the vegetables and mixing them together. This recipe called for a red pepper, a red onion and two large beets.

All of those shades of red looked fabulous combined together. This shot reminds me of some yarn I just spun. The magenta flashes are like the ruby red flesh of a fresh beet. (Beets are one of my favorite veggies, by the way.)

Anyway, I find it always feels good to use something from the garden when I'm cooking. Another great thing about this recipe is that it allowed me to use some of the stewed tomatoes I had stored in the cupboard from last year's garden.

I used two pint jars and let the chili sauce simmer down into a deep red sauce.

It was tough to beat the heat while making this. (I chugged two large glasses of iced coffee.) This chili -- even though it's peppered with hot spices and ground up chipotle peppers -- wasn't hard to eat in the heat.

There's something about spicy food and hot climes. (And I guess anything goes well with an ice cold beer.)

09 August 2010

when the opposite occurs

I was home at the farm this past Thursday, and you know what that means: I spent the entire afternoon planted on my butt spinning fiber.

This fiber.

A while back, when I finished dying it I thought it was a bit of a dud batch. Some unexpected things had happened. I expected the black dye to absorb more and hoped that the reds and magentas would stay subtle, but the opposite occurred.

More rosy reds, less dark blacks.

I guess I should know by now to keep an open mind when I start tipping jars of color into the dye pot.

If you don't unintentionally do what you never wanted you won't get results that you couldn't imagine. (I only sanction this mindset with dying fiber, finger painting, and plant combinations in the garden.)

06 August 2010

some tendrils & some twines

I'm working on several projects here in early August. I can't deny one of the biggest is the garden. Suddenly I have weeds and vegetables everywhere. I thought I could keep up with my two rows of green beans, but the bean pods are starting to grow into food fit for giants.

I had to compost a bunch yesterday. I know I could wait for the beans inside to mature, but I haven't got the time or a place to allow them to dry out . . . yet.

I'm just happy none of my plants have fried in the sun, but I've managed to keep on top of the watering. It's relaxing to stand out in the backyard barefoot and water the thirsty garden at twilight.

The image above is of the floral edge of the my garden. I have petunias, moss roses, rosemary, thyme, blooming cabbages and marigolds -- an afterthought this past spring, but now it's one of my favorite parts of the garden.

Here's a project that I'm working on: Jennifer Tepper Heverly's Windjammer Socks, found in a lovely book The Knitter's Book of Wool by Clara Parkes. I recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in breeds of sheep and grades of fiber. The first entry is about CVM romeldale sheep, so how could I not check out this book?

The yarn I'm using is from Briar Rose Fibers: Grandma's Blessing in all shades of green things that sprout. So far I'm loving its plush texture and soft finish.

And finally, I'm almost done with the baby sweater I'm knitting for my friends' new daughter. The yarn is Kaffe Fassett's collaboration with Regia sock yarn. I've had to tweak the stripes somewhat, but for the most part I've let it stripe as it was designed.

I should be sewing in these loose ends this afternoon.

Looks like this weekend will be a mix of bon fires and volleyball with a bit of spinning on the side. (Hope the weather complies.)
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