A View from Sierra County

Small town life and politics, lots of knitting, and travels with and without my five burros

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Location: In the Sierra Nevadas, United States

I blog about rural living and social issues, and the creativity that comes from knitting, as well as post random pictures of the Sierras and my burros. "In order to be an artist, one must be deeply rooted in the society" - Simone de Beauvoir


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Sunday, March 19, 2006

Busy Almost-Spring Saturday

A busy Saturday means lots to report! Friday is the day we receive our CSA box of veggies, so Friday evening was partly spent on sorting, planning, cooking and storing. This week's box included Napa cabbage, which will go into a stir-fry creation, beets, carrots, lovely rainbow chard, parsnips, lettuce, kale and dandelion greens... now many people have probably never eaten these before, but we had! Our veggies come from Live Oak Farm in Rumsey, and they had included a recipe, but I used my own. You might watch for the tender wild dandelion greens to begin appearing and give it a try:

Wilted Dandelion Salad

2 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and chopped finely, set aside
3 strips of bacon, chopped into 2 inch long pieces
1-2 cups of dandelion greens, stems removed

Wash and destem the dandelion greens, then carefully pat dry and place in a serving bowl. Fry up the bacon pieces until cooked. Use a slotted spoon to lift the bacon from the pan and drain off excess fat. With tongs, gently toss the cooked bacon into the dandelion greens immediately; this will wilt the greens somewhat, but should not turn them into a soggy mess. Serve topped with the chopped, hard-cooked eggs.


Friday evening was also spent admiring my Ruffled Shawl:


She deserves a better photo shoot than merely draped over the back of the chair, but here she is. I will be taking some nicer photos out in the sun later today, but wanted to share a bit about the process now. This shawl is a pattern that Margene and Susan found at a festival last fall, and when I saw a picture, I fell in love with the design and ordered a copy of the pattern from Windy Valley Musk Ox. I began it on Christmas Day and pretty much sailed along through the pattern and the regular increases up to 325 stitches, in about 4 weeks of evening knitting, interspersed with the usual small projects on the side.

Then, I got to the "foundation points", which is what the designer called the short-row shaping that the actual ruffles would fill in later... here is where I have to disagree with the pattern designer in labeling the level of experience as "Intermediate". Lucky for me, I am NOT an intermediate knitter, but an advanced one, as it took mentally visualizing where the designer intended for me to go, and working it out myself to get it.

The foundation point part was muddling-clear, but the ruffles took several goes, complete with plenty of ripping out. I had intended to use the red mohair you can see on the edging and make the ruffles off the foundation points, but it turned out, after I had finally mastered one half-ruffle on the edge, and two complete ruffles, short-rowing back and forth and filling in between the foundation points, that my red ruffles were coming out a slightly larger size than my purple shawl body, so I was relieved to abandon that part of the pattern, and be content with a simple picot-type edging, which WAS adequately described...

Except for the part where my increases (twice in each stitch around, after picking up along the top edges) would lead to 965 stitches... do you know how LONG it takes to knit a row with 965 stitches? Well, while doing the increases, I thought about how my children were already grown, and would probably have my grandchildren, who would be grown, before I ever got done. Finishing that increase row helped my perspective, but it still took two hours to bind off that many stitches!

As I was finishing up the shawl, I got into a bit of a conversation with Susan, asking her if she had ever made the pattern up... she hadn't, but had just picked it up to give it a read, and agreed that the instructions were none too clear. To add insult to injury, she discovered that this pattern is now available free at Yarnmarket. If you still want to give it a try after reading my rant, you can get it here. I will be done with my ranting after I tell you that all knitting designers are created equal, and this experience has given me even greater love and respect for Susan, Miriam, Eunny, Annie, and some of the other fine, independent designers who spend so much time on making sure their instructions are clear and test-knitted by other people before selling the patterns to the unsuspecting public. Enough said.

I do love the finished shawl, and have it draped over my shoulders as I type. It provides very light warmth, and will probably live on that chair in the photo, for just this reason.. the purple yarn is Bernat Sweety (I am not sure this yarn is even still made; a non-knitting friend gave it to me), which is acrylic, but works for lil' ol' me, who can't have sheep wool and bare torso skin together without major itching.

Saturday was also a "work" day for the teeny, tiny crafts business. Here is a photo of the bag I finished for a special order, drying on our hearth. I probably wouldn't have picked the pale grey myself (it is Knitpicks Wool of the Andes, for enquiring minds who want to know), but my associate who ordered the bag had decided to "go practical" and select a color that would go with a lot of things, and I was very happy with the finished results... even my 20-year old son suggested I should be expanding my business, which the oldest has been promoting for over a year, and he's the hardest to impress in this household. I stuff my felted objects with plastic garbage bags off the roll, to retain the shape I want while drying; now the garbage bags are hanging up to dry, so I can re-roll them!




I also finished up a very quick scarf, after vowing not to put any more scarves in our shop, simply because it was "relief" knitting; I have cast on my Mountain Peaks shawl but find it slow going using laceweight at this point, and my hands appreciate it if I alternate that type of work with worsted or bulky projects to give them a rest (honest, they told me so!). The scarf was a mixture of a strand each of leftover fun fur, cotton ribbon, and lopi-type wool, and has a lot of stability while still feeling cushy. I only needed to cast on seven stitches - a big change from working with 965.

Saturday was the first glorious day in what seems like weeks, after the bout of weather we have been having. Things were frozen pretty solid in the morning, and this morning as well, but much of the snow melted in open areas in the past 24 hours. We took a drive through some backcountry roads and past Bridgeport and the South Yuba River State Park, ending up in Penn Valley at two of our favorite thrift stores... I found two 14-inch, size 2 circular needles for a quarter each, as well as a book about Scotland that was over 100 years old! Look for illustrations and photos from this book to appear in upcoming posts, as I get them scanned, as I want to share a few of people knitting while chatting at roadsides, etc. We had a late lunch in Grass Valley, mexican food is my favorite to eat AND cook! I also picked up some pillow forms for another crafts coop project, as well as groceries, and we headed home through sunset-lit skies.

5 Comments:

Blogger margene said...

The shawl is really fabulous!

10:16 AM  
Anonymous susan said...

It's beautiful! And I'm impressed and amazed you could figure it out. I gave up.

4:17 PM  
Blogger Ruinwen said...

I love the shawl! It is beautiful!

Ruinwen
:)

5:13 PM  
Blogger Stacie said...

I love the gray bag! I just posted pics of my first felted project, and I am hooked! I love the texture and weight of the finished project. Got my Noro on eBay today and it's on its way!

8:35 PM  
Blogger KnitNana said...

Birdsong! Your shawl is so YOU! Love it love it love it and can picture you wearing it as night falls, your needles clicking in the firelight!
(I'd add Grumperina to your list of those who can design and test knit - she's amazing!)
:)
(((hugs)))

9:42 AM  

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