Wednesday Hodge Podge
Today's post will be a jumble of a variety of things going on over the past few days. DH is working as a line archaelogist (as in "fire line") at the large fire complex in San Bernardino (SoCal), so I am trying to keep up with tending the home fires, and boy, it's been pretty hot here. Hovering around 100, and even though "it's a dry heat", it can feel like a blast furnace around midday. Successfully coping with such heat involves a siesta mentality, long derided by those in cooler climates as being a slacker. Let me tell you, no slacker I know gets up around 5 AM in order to put in a few hours of chores in the cool of the day, before cleaning up and going to work. There really hasn't been any "cool of the evening" around here until well after dark! I am hoping for some relief soon.
Yesterday morning, I repaired some animal fencing, watered, washed a load of laundry and hung it to dry, fed and then moved the animals around, so that an unused pasture was re-occupied by Rita and the teenaged Assteroid, and also cut herbs to dry, all before 7:45, when the sun was suddenly hitting every place I still need to do some work. This morning it was more watering and more fence repair (I am afraid to turn on the hot wire and have it short out and start a fire), with three or four more mornings of repair work needed to really get things secure around the old Camp. However, it is a bit cloudy overhead, and cooler, so I am hoping the day won't have to hit the 100 mark again.
Freshly-cut lavender... there are also bunches of peppermint and rosemary drying.
The peach jam was made on Sunday morning... it's yummy. Mim has a great jam tutorial on her new blog site (she moved over to Word Press), if this gets you hankering to try making some of your own.
Update on Rita
Sylvia asked for a new photo of Rita, as she was concerned to know how Rita is coping with the loss of her long-time burro companion Louise, who died a few weeks ago. She is still a bit lonely and needy, and here takes advantage of special rations. I am pulling her out from everyone else at breakfast several days a week to bolster her nutritionally, as she looks too bony to me the past several months.
Here is a photo of Rita two years ago, more vital and leading a pack string of animals on an EARs Club outing in Forest City. EARS stands for Equuis Assinus Recreationus Society, just in case you were wondering.
The farrier is coming to trim feet tomorrow, and Rita will be seeing the vet soon, and quite possibly an equine dentist to float her teeth, all efforts to maximize her late middle aged years ... she is now 24 years old!
Lily of the Valley Shawl
I am absolutely loving working on this shawl... I had my doubts about using such large needles, in fact dropped down from a size 15 as recommended to a size 11 (you can see my trusty Denise interchangeables in the photo below). I am still a bit concerned that large, loose loops (say that three times, fast!) could get caught on something while wearing this, but I did opt for a medium-sized version, which will help to contain the abundance of fabric.
The top border and first repeat of my Lily of the Valley Shawl
The pattern is such that I very quickly started to see it develop; each step has a "cue" from the previous row, and the trickiest part is making six sets of bobbles for each of the panels over the course of an 18-row repeat. What this means to the knitter is that on six of the eighteen rows, you will be increasing five stitches out of one, not too difficult if you remember to add a bit of give as you make each increase. The second part of the process, decreasing back down, is a bit more interesting. The directions in the Spin-off article suggest three methods, the first two I considered and abandoned were either to purl five together (yeah, right! I could imagine dropped stitches, but it might work for you), or to use a crochet hook to slip the five off and do some passing over manuever (now why would I do that when I am already holding a knitting needle in each hand - do they know people with three hands?). My method has been to slip the first four, knit the fifth and then one by one pass them over it. This method might be a tad bit slower, but gets my bobble all nice and neatly lined up - at least it is more often than not, now that I have done this 60 times.... it takes me awhile.
What is amazing me is how rapidly this project is going, starting from a knitted cast-on of 176 stitches and steadily decreasing in triangular fashion. I like to work with a mid-range of needles between say about sizes 3 and 8 or 9 best, so I am thinking already that I want to experiment with how laceweight and smaller needles work in this pattern, as well as how fingering, which I am using, looks if I drop down to size 8. Right now though, I feel part of a grand, international tradition, since my fabric looks like that created by the German knitters, working from the notes made in South Africa by a refugee who grew up in Estonia, Edith Haller. Isn't it wonderful the connections that we get from knitting?!
As a side note, while you are over visiting the Interweave Press site to check out that issue of Spin-Off, print the free instructions to make your own Charkha spinning wheel from a cigar box, not that you need another project or anything. I think I would have more fun building the wheel than trying to spin fine cotton thread with it, but who knows what heights of greatness I might aspire to next?!
Knit Sock Kit Swap
This is the cute little bag I made for my Swap buddie in the Knit Sock Kit Swap (check out my sidebar, if you are wondering what this is). I included Mim's Trekking Socks pattern, some lovely Trekking yarn, a card made by one of the other members in our crafts co-op, showing a calico sheep, and a small bundle of freshly-cut lavender from the garden. Not shown is a large bar of Endangered Species chocolate, some sandal candles (they float!), a Soap Rock, and some sock-shaped point protectors. I am hoping she loves using it as much as I did making the bag and assembling the kit.
This has been a post of this and that, fraught with battles on my end with the computer line, Blogger, and Firefox, all conspiring against me at some point. But remember, "Who loves ya, baby?"