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


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Wednesday Hodge Podge

Summer around Slate Range Camp

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?"


Blogger margene said...

And I love you for going through all the bother to post, with pictures of Rita, no less. Poor Murphy is truly on his last leg so I do know what you mean.
Your pal will love the bag and the yarn! Nice work and I'd love to get a nose full of the lavender fragrance!

10:47 AM  
Blogger Carrie K said...

Aw, poor Rita. She does look a bit poorly.

That bag is cute! So is the Lily of the Valley shawl. I love that color.

Kudos to your hubby going on the firing line. Driving inland from the beach yesterday, the haze from all the smoke was really amazingly thick.

1:40 PM  
Blogger SheKnits said...

Wow! You're bag is gorgeous.

Give Rita a little more time, come fall she will be nice and plump and feeling much better on her own.

I love the Sock kit swap idea.. I may have to do something similiar in the group I own.

I hope you guys don't get too warm this weekend. I know we are sups'd to hit 105 come Saturday... and not cooling down til Tuesday. It's gonna be far from fun in this neighborhood. I'm thinking short shorts and a sprinkler... lol.


8:13 PM  
Blogger Yarngirl said...

Hope it cools down for you! It's cooler and darker here this morning. That shawl is looking beautiful - it has been in my "shawl que" since last year, but in a worshipping from afar way - I was afraid of the bobble. But you make it sound not so bad. Rita - I want to say something about how much I'm touched that she has such devotion - I'm sure I'm not wording it right - but it does set an example. I'm sure with all the TLC you're giving her, it will ease her pain.

3:55 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Love the bag!

What pattern did you use??

6:43 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Beautiful bag! Your sock kit pal will love it.

Poor Rita. I'm glad she's getting extra time with you.

Lily of the Valley is so lovely.

7:32 AM  
Blogger beadlizard said...

Thanks for being the trail-blazer on the lily pattern. I'm sprinting through a Ribby Cardi for DD and then will give a whirl at the lily shawl. I really like it in that shade of blue. And I had the same thought about the crochet hook!

Rita does look depleted, but she looks better than I did when I was 24. The rich feed does take a while to show -- can you find her a hobby -- something like a see-saw she could push with her nose? Would she take to a kitten or a chick, some other partner animal?

It's already warming up down here this morning, not a speck of fog. SG & AA have a siesta schedule during this weather, too, and end up working harder than during more clement weather. --Syl

8:04 AM  
Blogger trek said...

Great swap kit

12:34 PM  
Blogger Helen said...

You've been busy! The LOTV shawl looks really nice. You have my admiration, as I seem to be lace impaired. :)

Rita looks pretty good. There were some burros in my town which were in the 40's when they died. They died within months of each other. :(

2:08 PM  
Anonymous SpiderWomanKnits said...

Wow! Thanks Birdsong for taking us through your days. There was a flow to your post that was thoroughly enjoyable :-)

Your shawl is looking beautiful too and I always love seeing pictures of your burros. Rita's a cutie. Scratch her behind her ear for me ;-)

4:01 PM  
Anonymous Neena said...

I've decided the only thing I can grow around here is lavender. It's a good thing I love it so. :-) Rita's beautiful, poor thing. Oh, and I'm impressed by all your morning energy....send some my way, will ya?

8:55 AM  
Blogger Sharon said...

I'm jealous of your beautiful lavendar. I noticed this morning that the heat has ruined our's. And it's about the only thing the rabbits *won't* eat.

12:47 PM  
Blogger KnitNana said...

I didn't drop down low enough on the blog to see that I'd missed this post! And I think it's my favorite style...a little of this, a little of that! Thank you for Mim's tutorial, your jam looks wonderful...I miss canning jam. Poor Rita..scratch her ears for me. And I LOVE your bag, your choice of sock yarn! You did a great job on your swap items. Dear Birdsong, your lily of the valley shawl is so pretty...

1:13 PM  

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