Thursday, March 17, 2011

One Wanderer Returning, One Leaving

Right now what I should be doing is gathering my tax information. Instead I am writing this post because I can't contain my excitement at the news that my son Tim is returning from Austria and will be settling, at least for a little while, in Lake. This means I will be able to see him on a regular basis, for the first time in nine years. It fills my heart with joy, and I am looking forward to a fun summer spent with three of my children, since the youngest boy is taking over his brother's wandering ways and leaving in April to go to Nevada to train for a bike trip from Arizona to San Francisco and down the coast to San Diego. I'm not quite sure where these wanderers sprang from, but I think it's a wonderful thing that they wander, as long as they return home.

I spent most of yesterday as a passenger riding to Ottawa airport to pick up my nephew and then going to Camden, New York to attend the wake of his Grandpa (my sister Jane's father-in-law). 390 miles as a passenger and 60 miles of driving to get to and from my brother's house made it a very long day, but I was glad to do it. As I told Ethan's Grandma, as she thanked us, that is what family is for. It also enabled me to spend some time with my cousin and his wife, something that hasn't happened in a long time. I appreciated the chance to reconnect and learn what is going on in their lives.

Camden is on Tug Hill and gets a lot of lake effect snow. This snow bank was on the edge of the funeral home parking lot. That is a huge Victorian house behind the snow bank. It seems they had a particularly snowy winter because this snow bank is somewhat melted.

All that riding gave me the opportunity to get some knitting done. I worked on my cardigan sweater, and I'm almost done with the body. I need to measure one of my sweaters to make sure I have the right length. I also started a pair of socks from some of my handspun.

I love the way these socks are turning out. I added stripes because I was afraid I wouldn't have enough of the main color. I tend not to knit with my handspun, and I am going to make an effort to do it more often. Although the yarn does provide wonderful insulating properties in my house, knitting or crocheting with it seems like a better thing to do. I'm thinking of making an afghan using handspun. I need to give that project a little more thought-crochet or knit would be one of the major decisions. When it comes to afghans I usually opt for crochet because it is faster, but I've never crocheted with handspun.

As I was taking photos of the sock this morning Seamus was busy sleeping on a pink sheepskin.

And Gerard was busy being his usual energetic self-scratching his neck on the carpet and almost tumbling down the stairs, embarrassing for a cat.

He also spent some time checking out the desk-seeming to have discovered it for the first time this morning, although it's been in that spot for over a year. Silly cat.

Gerard, Seamus and I wish you a Happy St. Patrick's Day! Don't drink too much green beer! Do they still make green beer?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I'm Late, I'm Late

This post was promised on Sunday to those Facebook friends who wanted the recipe I talked about making for my friends who came to knit on Sunday. I made Heath Bar Cookies and they are quite yummy.

Heath Bar Cookies

2 1/2 cups unbleached flour 1 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt 2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 package Heath Bar Toffee or Chocolate Bits (or you can chop up some Heath Bars)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside. In a separate bowl, combine Heath Bar pieces and chopped walnuts. Set aside. (I must confess that I did not sift the dry ingredients together and the cookies were fine.)

2. Beat together the butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and vanilla.

3. Alternatively mix in the flour mixture and the Heath Bar mixture, a third at a time, until well blended.

4. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Be sure to leave room between the cookies because they spread a little. (I did not line my cookie sheet with parchment paper because I couldn't find my parchment paper, so I used an ungreased cookie sheet. Cleanup was a bit difficult because some of the toffee melted and then hardened on the pan.)

5. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are just starting to turn brown. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack.

Makes between 5 and 6 dozen cookies.

I finished spinning the batts I threw together last week from bits and bobs I had left over from making batts for the shop. I was feeling the need to spin something light, fresh and spring-like, and ended up with approximately 420 yards of worsted weight yarn. I'm not sure what I am going to do with the yarn. I had intended to make socks, but I have more yardage than I expected, so now I'm thinking a little shawl of some sort. Or perhaps a cowl and some fingerless gloves. This yarn is definitely outside my color comfort zone-very pale and a bit pastel, but I still like it.

The yarn is actually a little more buttery yellow instead of white as it appears in the photos. I added a bit of angelina so the yarn has just the right amount of sparkle. From looking at the yarn on the bobbin it's easy to tell I don't have a Woolee Winder. I'm usually better at keeping the yarn even on the bobbin, but here was so much to talk about at my spinning group that I was distracted.

I'm also spinning two pounds of fiber I purchased at Rhinebeck a few years ago. I discovered it in the back of my fiber closet and have enjoyed spinning it, but sometimes need to take a break from the brownness of it to do something different. I'd say I have another pound and a quarter to go. I hope to get it done in time to make a sweater from it next winter.

Today is the day I finally need to face getting my tax information ready to take to the accountant. I am also going to the dentist this afternoon. Doesn't that sound like a fun day? Tomorrow I will be going south to attend the wake of my sister Jane's father-in-law. I will be riding with my brother so it will give me a lot of knitting time. We have decided that next year we should skip the month of March. Not only is it the season of frost heaves, pot holes and mud here in the north country, but it is a month filled with anniversaries of the days people I loved have left this world. It is also the month where we begin to see signs of spring, and the return of warmth to the north country, so it seems we have to keep it.

The return of warmth means the return of the Canton Farmer's Market. I'm pining for fresh, local vegetables, and it's such fun to be a vendor and see familiar faces returning to visit our booth. I especially love it when people bring projects to show me that have been knit with my hand dyed yarn or handspun from my fiber. I feel like I have been a part of their creative process, and that is a good feeling.

Seamus, pondering when that cold, white stuff is going to leave.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

When Will the Madness Stop?

The madness would be snow. I have tried not to complain too much about the snow here on the blog. (I save the complaints for Facebook.) I was on my way to bed and took a look outside and it's snowing! There is 100% chance of snow tonight, 100% chance of snow or rain tomorrow, and 90% chance of rain on Friday. I'm glad I don't live near any bodies of water that might flood. It seems that tomorrow ill be a good day for knitting and spinning.

Today was my spinning day. As always, I spent a lovely time with my spinning group with homemade vanilla pudding for dessert. Yum! My latest spinning project has been 2 pounds of wool I discovered at the back of my spinning closet that came from Rhinebeck a couple of years ago. It's been fun to spin, but because of the above mentioned continuation of snow, I was in the mood to spin something a little light and bright, so I quickly carded up 6 ounces of pastel and white batts before spinning today. I think I got a little carried away with Angelina because I was covered with it when I was done spinning. I'm happy with the way the fiber is turning out. I am focusing on spinning worsted weight. I have a natural tendency to spin fingering weight yarn, and really have to concentrate to spin anything heavier. I think I've been successful. The 6 ounces is spun and waiting to be plied.

I will take photos of the yarn tomorrow. Not that I think there will be sun, but at least there will be light. I really need to make a light box. I seem to be resistant to the idea, and I'm not quite sure why. Perhaps it's because one of the supplies is poster board, and the mention of poster board brings back many stressful times of being told by a child, usually at 8:45 at night, that poster board was needed for a project that was due the next day. And as hard as I tried to keep poster board on hand, I never seemed to have what was needed. I will work at overcoming my poster board aversion so I can create a light box and be able to take photos at any hour of the day or night.

Gerard's eyes look quite freaky in this photo. He does love to sleep with hand knits. Can you see from this photo how tiny and svelte he is? 15 pounds of solid muscle, that is Gerard Fuzzywinkles.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

There's a Dalek in the House, and Avocado Melmac Too!

I recently participated in a tea cosy swap on Ravelry. What a fun swap, and what a lovely swap partner I had. Her name is Eirian and she is from Penarth, Wales and works in Cardiff, both of which are locations where Dr. Who is filmed. I love Dr. Who! It's an odd thing, because I am far from a fan of science fiction, but there's something about this series that I love. The Daleks are Dr. Who's most feared enemies, and I now have a Dalek residing on top of my tea pot. It made my day when I opened the package and saw what Eirian had crocheted for me in lovely blue and green yarn, my favorite color combination.

There were also lots of other goodies-her favorite book of 2010, some Dragon's Bite Chocolate made in Wales, Yorkshire loose tea, some PG tips green tea, and "bits and bobs" from Wales-a Penarth thimble, a Wales stone coaster and a Wales refrigerator magnet.

The chocolate is broken because Seamus and Gerard were playing with it. I heard the fall of something to the floor, and then the thing being batted around. When I checked it was the chocolate. Darn cats!

Aside from the Dalek, the most exciting addition to the package was a chocolate Kinder Egg, which is contraband in the U.S. I feel so wicked. I personally think U.S. border agents are big fans of Kinder Eggs and are confiscating them and then eating them all. Here is Seamus, knowing it is evil, trying to knock the Kinder Egg to the floor.

And here's Gerard investigating the invading (the Dalek's love to invade) Dalek tea cosy. I had a difficult time photographing the tea cosy. It took me longer to get a good photo of the cosy than it takes me when I'm photographing my yarn and fiber for Etsy.

Eirian took the time to find out what I liked and created a lovely swap box, and I really appreciate it. It took almost a month to get here, and I'm thinking that was some kind of divine intervention, because I opened the package on March 4, which is the anniversary of Jane's death, a day I definitely needed a lift. In some ways it is hard to believe that it has been a year, and in other ways it seems like yesterday.

I took a trip yesterday with Holly to put some new goodies in our booth at North Country Neighbors. It's full of awesome new treasures, so if you are in the area you should check it out. While there both Holly and I made some finds in other booths that we could not resist. I realize that the reason I have the booth is to empty my house of way too much stuff, but this is the first time I've brought anything home (oops, there was that blue lamp), but other than the lamp I've been really good at not giving into temptation. So for $10.70 I am now the proud owner of these beautiful treasures.

OK, I'll admit I love little ceramic animals, and these were so darn adorable. Look at the bowing birds that were made in Japan. They do have cute little faces, but I couldn't get them to stand up. They actually rock. And since Bob Marley's Three Little Birds is one of my favorite songs, how could I leave them there? I always try to follow the advice in this song to not worry about a thing, 'cause every little thing is going to be alright.

A stoneware, oven proof bowl from Universal-Cambridge, O. I'm sure my children would be tsking at me for bringing another bowl into the house, but I did take one to the booth yesterday, so the count of bowls has not increased.

I also found four new plates that I am going to use as my summer dishes this year. I have a small problem with dishes I've been told because I have three sets of dishes that I change seasonally, along with two sets of "good china", one set my Mom's, one set we received as wedding gifts, and a set of everyday stoneware that we received as wedding gifts as well. That's not too bad, is it? These plates are Symphony from Salem China in Ohio and they are edged in 23 Karat Gold. Very fancy!

And the final, most awesome of purchases-avocado melmac-all this beauty for $2.50. How could I resist? I've been looking at them for weeks, and then there was this half price sale, and I realized resistance was futile.

I don't know why, but I'm feeling the urge to serve deviled eggs on that platter. Wouldn't they be beautiful? And I'm getting my Mom's Jell-o copper molds out of the basement and taking my Joys of Jell-o cookbook off the shelf and returning to the 1960's. We'll have some ice cream punch in the cups too. It will be a party!

Time for some spinning. I am participating in handspun swap, so I'm going to start to spinning for that. Thanks for sharing my weekend acquisitions with me!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Lion or Lamb?

March has arrived. It's a sunny day, but very cold. Does this make March a lion or lamb? Yesterday was quite a lion day. Schools were closed because of freezing rain. My driveway is now a lovely skating rink. I hope the sun is going to help solve that dilemma, because I definitely don't have enough salt to melt the entire driveway.

A new business is opening soon in Waddington, a small town nearby on the St. Lawrence River, which is also the carp fishing capital of the world. I kid you not. A few years ago there were many international carp fishermen visiting for the world carp fishing tournament. The new business is called Grassroots Community Coop and their intention is to support home businesses and cottage industries. Their stated goal is to get back to grass roots: with neighbors supporting one another and their hard earned dollars remaining in St. Lawrence County. The space for the cooperative is huge, and I think it has wonderful potential. My yarn and fiber will be a part of the cooperative-very exciting. They are also planning to have art and craft classes. I have been searching for quite some time for a perfect place for a knitting group to be held, and I think this might just be the place.

Along with the coop there will be The Fireside Eatery. This will be a 50's retro restaurant, and they are planning to have fun events like dinner and a movie featuring a classic movie and murder mystery dinners. I'm looking forward to a new restaurant to try. The chef is a recent Paul Smiths graduate, so I'm sure the food will be delicious.

Yesterday after the roads had been cleared and salted I headed to Waddington to check out the Coop space and help with cleaning and painting. It was my first chance to see where my products will be, and I was delighted with what I saw-a huge sunny room with views of the St. Lawrence River. I can't wait to see it filled with beautiful things. It was good to meet Debbie and Suzanna, the two people bringing their vision to fruition in this venture, and to help a little in moving their plan forward. We did some cleaning, and I will go back again soon, once the water is turned on. It's a little hard to clean without water. I do love the smell of Murphy's Oil Soap!

I finished my hats for Warm Hats not Hot Heads, a group of knitters who have banded together to knit hats for members of Congress. The organizers are devoted to the idea that softer rhetoric would help our country to find better solutions to our challenges. Hats are being made and sent by the knitter or crocheter to a member of congress as a way of saying that soft words are appreciated, as is the person's service to his or her country. I made two hats, one for my representative, Bill Owens, and one for a representative I much admire who is from Long Island, Carolyn McCarthy. Enough hats have been knit to send one to every senator, and the effort is continuing to send hats to every member of congress. Here are some not so great photos of the hats I made.

This is Meret by Wooly Wormhead, a hat I have made several times and really enjoy knitting. It's lace, but an easy to remember lace pattern. This photo was taken before blocking. It's made with Lamb's Pride Worsted in the color Misty Blue, a color I love. It's sort of blue and sort of grey and beautiful.

The other hat is Turn a Square by Jared Flood, another hat I have made several times and enjoy knitting. This photo is also before blocking. It is made with navy and grey leftovers I had-one is Cascade 220 and one Lamb's Pride Worsted.

These two yarns are the old reliables in my knitting arsenal, and ones I turn to when I am low on colorways of my own yarn. What are your favorite yarns to knit with?