Sunday, March 29, 2015

Itching to Garden

A few winter aconites have graced our brown garden beds already, but I was really looking forward to getting my hands dirty before too long.

Last weekend I couldn't stand it any longer, so on a visit to Lowe's, I picked up a dozen broccoli plants and some pre-started spinach.

In no time, I had a garden bed prepared and all the plants tucked into their new earthen home. The weather forecast predicted temps in the teens (the forecast did not disappoint), so I threw a few layers of garden cloth over everything to keep them snug.

Yesterday I saw the first crocus clump in the garden.

My knit pig keeps going on journeys throughout the house. After he was found in a decorative basket of knit eggs, I couldn't resist this tableau.

Unfortunately all this chilly weather is still making me crave some new mitts. That is certainly the surest sign that spring is right around the corner, right?

Monday, March 9, 2015

Spring Chicken

While the age of our chickens may not be the youngest any more, they seem to be harbingers of Spring. 

Heinrich laid her first egg today. Bright weather and warmth must be close behind! Cluck, cluck!!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Darned Mittens!

No, I'm not using profanity; I just fixed the poor thumbs of my  Woodruff Mittens with a darning needle and leftover yarn. The mitts are my favorite hand warmers this season, and with impending cold weather on the horizon AGAIN, it was time for fast action.

And fast action it was. I took care of the problem on the ride to and from the gym today. Don't worry, I had a chauffeur! The one on the right was practically disintegrating, so it got pulled a little tightly into a small knot. Oopsy... The other one I took a little more care with, so it was more successful.

Bring on the wind chills. I am ready for those gusty breezes!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Slow Progress

My resolution to ride the stationary bike and knit is not going well. However, there is some occasional work being done on the Trigere pattern. I think I might have to start setting a deadline to push to the finish finally. Warm weather is due to return sometime this year in spite of the bitter frostiness we are currently experiencing. 

Maybe I'll knit some mitts first...

Saturday, January 31, 2015

THAT Craft Show Kid...

To say that I grew up in a Renaissance Family might be an understatement. My father is an artist with many interests: 

Wood carving

Landscape Painting in oils

Instrument Building

My mother has equally diverse and amazing gifts in the crafting department:

Sewing and quilting (more on quilting in a later post)

Straw Art. 

Yes, those ornaments are made out of STRAW that was soaked, split, and ironed flat before being divided into strips, woven together and then clipped with scissors at the ends. She also made greeting cards with differently shaped flat pieces that were glued onto paper, and decorated colored eggs with straw. Amazingly tedious, yet beautiful.

We often hit the road with our parents to help them display their wares at various craft, wood carving, and art shows. A hands down favorite destination was the Bucyrus Bratwurst Festival. As you may guess, it was quite the German affair, replete with the afore mentioned bratwurst, beer, and plenty of people wearing Drindlkleider and Lederhosen. If you were part of the craft show, German dress was required. In spite of the fact that I had a great dirndl that I wore for several years, no pictures of me in it have been unearthed. Too bad; I looked pretty cute in it with my long braids that won the pigtail contest one year!

The amazing thing about this particular craft show was that each crafter had a hand-picked unique talent, and no two tables had the same items for sale. In addition, it was required that the crafters actually practice and demonstrate their craft for the visitors. There were lots of people who asked questions and were invited to try alongside the experts. This was a smart practice, because many visitors were then inspired to purchase something afterwards. My brothers and I were all over this, and we learned a lot of cool crafts from the others over the course of the years that we attended. I have fond memories of weaving baskets (basket still around somewhere, but lost in a box), rug hooking, doll house furniture making, rug weaving, intarsia wood pictures (one of my brothers excelled at this), wood carving, lace making, etc. But my absolute favorite was Mrs. Straw and her spinning wheel, drop spindle, and hand cards. Our families probably made a quick connection thanks to the fact that my mother demonstrated the Straw Art.
1986! What were you doing when I bought these goodies?
Nor will you find hand cards at this price point today!
I was so obsessed with wool work that I insisted that some of my birthday money from one of my aunts go toward hand cards and roving. I think the spindle was a gift the previous Christmas. Most of the roving was spun up pretty quickly. 

I started knitting a sweater, of Mrs. Straw's description. She knit four pieces for the front and then one piece for the back, sewing everything together with blanket stitch. I experimented with knit and purl stitches, but soon realized that my spinning was pretty poor (look how thin the yarn is in spots) and that the gauge was way off. 

Thus it languished many years, except when I would knit a few rows on the back piece with the remaining yarn.

A few years ago it occurred to me that all these pieces could simply be sewn together and used as a narrow lap blanket. Sometimes it takes me a while to follow through. This November it was so bitter cold that I made a move and started sewing. Even before it was completed last weekend, the blanket was in use on my lap while driving in my car. What a comfort!

Covering up with this blanket is like the whole sheep is taking a nap in your lap: delightfully toasty!
Oh yea, my mother also knit those amazing socks sticking out at the end of the blanket. My parents have many more hobbies that were not mentioned in this post... No wonder I have no free time! I'm exactly like them!
So, get out those 28-and-a-half year old projects and finish up. Even a tenuous youthful attempt is sometimes worth a grand finale!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Spin & Knit 2015: A Resolution

Happy New Year!

I gave up New Year's resolutions a decade or two ago, but I thought I would give this year another try. My title sounds pretty misleading, since I do have one of these spinning beauties, but I'm afraid that I need to spend some time on the (recumbent) stationary bike instead. Must keep in shape for upcoming hiking adventures after all, and knitting seemed like it would be a good pairing with all that peddling. So my goal is to ride and knit 30 minutes on any day that I don't visit the gym or don't have evening orchestra rehearsal.

Looking into the Black Mountain Range at sunset. (Peru)
I gave it a whirl this evening. (See what I did there?! OK, go ahead and groan...) Instead of knitting, I ended up talking on the phone and then writing an email on my phone. So we'll have to see if there will be any additional knit items to blog about. Ready for finishing are a sweater, a hat, a crafty blanket I started as a pre-teen, a jacket, and some fingerless mitts.

I'll keep you posted, but don't hold your breath...

May 2015 be an enjoyable one for you!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Pig in a Tree

When I was a child (and well into adulthood), my father would always hang a cute little piglet ornament on our Christmas tree. I think it was from his childhood, or maybe a silly gift from my grandmother at some point. This year it did not make it to the tree, even though there was a lot of begging for it. 

Pigs in a wood.
Later, in graduate school in Boulder, CO, one of my brothers and I found a big bin of similarly sized pigs in the toy store on the Pearl Street Mall. We bought a whole bunch and then "pig-bombed" the next Christmas tree, to the delight of my father and ourselves. (No one but my dad was allowed to decorate the tree. To this day I have not decorated a Christmas tree). 

Truffle hunting.

Helping St. Nicholas
The truffle hunt continues...
After knitting all the acorns for Thanksgiving, I realized that it wasn't just a squirrel that would enjoy eating acorns. Where does jamon iberico de bellota come from, after all? 

 And I knew just the recipient who would enjoy a knit pig for his Christmas tree...

I used this pattern to knit three pigs. The first one was an immediate part of our family, complete with find the pig contests, and stress when it was not immediately locate-able... It is currently our road trip mascot in our car.

The second one did get sent off to my brother with a load of acorns for his tree. I hope his wife is not too tired of pigs. The rehearsal dinner of 2009 kind of stocked the place up with the critters!

The third pig got unleashed on my mother-in-law on Christmas night, because she was also immediately smitten with the little guy. However, for fun, we hid it (in a pretty obvious place) and are just waiting for some squeals of discovery... I wonder how long it will take... Tick-tock... It's been 4 days already...

ETA: My mother-in-law found the pig in her purse on January 30th in the early afternoon! We were ready to stage an intervention before long!