Thursday, August 31, 2006


After getting home from the day's adventures, Leah finished her first pair of mittens! These are made from leftover Green Mountain Spinnery yarn from the fair isle hat I made for her (see January archives, but for some reason I can't link directly to the Jan. 4 and Jan. 16 entries about that hat). She used the same pattern I used for my first pair of mittens and is pleased as punch with them.
Jesse, never one to go the easy route and use the drop spindles we already have, decided to make a new drop spindle out of K'nex. Since he's done some spinning himself, he knew what extra little touches were needed, like the hook at the top and the notch on the "whorl," and he also added a place at the bottom to tie his green leader on.
At the end of the evening, we began preparations for going to the upcoming Renaissance Faire with friends. We've heard that it's much better if folks get into the fun at these fairs and wear some sort of period garb. That makes sense...and Halloween's coming. :-) We got one item for our costumes from Goodwill and will get the rest from the clothing swap, and then transform them into something resembling Renaissance garb. This so far has involved a spinning wheel, purple tulle (the wrapping I use for soap bundles), and gold cord that I brought home from Gram's stash when she moved to her apartment. So the fair Maiden Leahvere has begun prancing around the house in her costume and Sir Jesselot requests a red tunic with silver accents, and imagines his dashing self with a thin mustache. I have a feeling we'll be heading to the library for some Gene Kelly flicks soon. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Since our plans with friends fell through yesterday, we decided to go ahead with the microwave experiments that were planned for the afternoon. Some worked very well and some not at all, but they led to a couple of hours of fun and testing. We don't have a microwave in our kitchen (and wouldn't use it for experiments if we did), but the dump fairies provided an old microwave that's perfect for experimenting.
This pic is a blown out bulb from a recessed lighting fixture. It would glow brighter and dimmer as the microwaves pulsed. I missed the most spectacular light bulb experiment, which was a regular bulb, where they could see sparks zip around the bulb in a spiral until the whole thing had been zapped and then it EXPLODED with a big spark. Oh, joy and rapture! I could hear Jesse's gleeful reaction from up in my office. And of course the outlined experiments led to more experimentation, including marshmallows, a pink eraser, soap, and some very cool outer space-looking contraptions made of cork, toothpicks, steel wool, and aluminum foil in various configurations.
Once everybody calmed down from the excitement of blowing things up and catching them on fire :-), we settled in for a quiet evening. Scott was spinning more of the tencel-merino blend that is destined to become a cardigan sweater for me, because that's coming up in the knitting queue. Leah happily worked on a skein of alpaca fiber in cinnamon and cream. I was working on details for a weekend at Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival with friends, but we're considering doing a locally based fiberfest version instead. And Jesse? Oh, he was busy scurrying around the house, gathering more things to be nuked with friends later today. Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 28, 2006

where the wild things are

This was another relaxing weekend in VT. We all agreed there was something very special about it. No one thing in particular made it that way, but the whole was greater than the sum of the parts. We considered blowing the whole thing off because it was POURING on Friday afternoon, but a friend stopped over for a surprise visit and, while she was here, we decided to give it a try. We packed up and left as the rain slowed. Stopped at the end of our street to check out a >14" diameter turtle. Noticed this (digitally enhanced) supercool license plate at a rest stop. Arrived in VT as the skies brightened. By the time we got into the Northeast Kingdom area, the sky was bright blue with the fluffiest white clouds -- just beautiful. Our campsite was on the shore of this pond (seems big enough to be a lake, if you ask me, but it's a pond, according to the VT State Parks service), with tons of mussels for diving boys' entertainment, some of the friendliest ducks in the world, happy (if not productive) fishing spots, most excellent campfire meals, the perfect knitting location, and much appreciated quiet and relaxation.
We realized on Thursday that we missed the deadline for submitting Leah's next Spindlicity article, but we made arrangements with the publisher and let my fingers do the walking to find a farm of fiber animals in the area. We were delighted to discover an alpaca farm about 10 minutes away from our campground, and even more thrilled when they said, "Sure, come on over for a visit!" Leah and I headed for the farm. Jesse and Scott chose to stick around the campground with our dog, Kodi, to fish and continue to mess around with the "button lamps" Jesse made out of mussel shells, crisco, and cord. This precious baby alpaca was born only 24 hours earlier and was still very wobbly on its feet, but oh how soft! All the fuzzyfaces were wary but curious about Leah. Of course this mama alpaca was protective of her new baby. About a second after this picture was taken, I saw the mama's cheeks puff out and we learned that's a sign that an alpaca is about to "spit." And it's not spit like just plain old saliva; alpaca spit is green bile that smells quite nasty. So, yeah, we backed away from the baby! But we got some fiber to spin and knit, and had a great visit as part of a great weekend. Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 25, 2006

the poor peasants

Here we see some poor peasant maidens (Leah and Maisie), huddling near the fire in their log cabin (computer room), wearing their winter woolens (nightgowns from Grandma's cedar chest) to fend off the bitter cold (of mid-August). They just finished stitching handmade lace (cheesy sewing trim from neighbor's basement stash) to their daughters' (dolls) dresses and will sustain themselves with cornmeal and potatoes (chocolate chip cookies) for the remainder of this long, hard winter.

One of the young maidens emerged from her bedstead the next morning to show off the doll quilt she's making. The village elders were not invited to share their knowledge of such matters, as this peasant girl prefers to create her own map as she explores the quilting wilderness. A true pioneer, she is.

Here we have a different day, different pal, probably entirely different scenario. Princesses in a castle, maybe? Ballerinas preparing for a big show? Ice dancers ready to twirl?

Meanwhile, the men of the village foraged for the evening's meal. Here they proudly display the giant fish they, no, it's the lure they managed to retrieve from a tree. Ah, but there is an abundance of water and muck and rocks and small critters, and the Nerf guns are never far away, in case of a bear sighting, so the village's men are quite confident and satisfied.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

visiting the minotaur

Could be Jim Weiss' Greek Myths CDs; or the Athenians in Midsummer Night's Dream, versions I and II, this year; or perhaps it was Franklin's journey; or that weird middle of the night movie my dad was watching when I was 8 and couldn't sleep, the one with all the hip young folks frolicking on the gleaming white cliffside Greek apartment balconies, but finally, FINALLY, I'm making a lifelong dream of a trip to Greece a reality, with Turkey as a bonus!

You can find us here in March 2007.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

if you insist

I said I wouldn't bore you with inch by inch progress pics of the Bella cardigan as I work it up, but Lori asked nicely, so I'll play along. :-) The sleeves are finished and I have a few inches to go on the back before armhole shaping. Here are the pieces, on a boulder near the stream at Cotton Hollow, where we spent yesterday evening picnicking, swimming, and visiting with three families of friends.
Here's a close-up of the pattern. I messed with the color and lighting on these photos, but no matter what I do, it looks purple/eggplant-ish on my monitor. It is, in fact, burgundy. A deep, rich, silk-wool blend in burgundy. And I like it a lot.
I just started the back on Friday and got a bunch done while camping this weekend, so it's coming along really fast now. Again I had to concentrate for that lacy 7" at the bottom, but from here on up it's an easy knit. I decided not to do the body in the round because I read that some knits need the extra structure that seams provide and this seemed like it might be one of those, with the softness of the silky wool and the looseness of the lacy pattern. Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 21, 2006

split personality

A couple of people have asked what projects Leah's working on lately. Mostly she's been sewing, some by hand and some by machine. She's been dabbling in a bunch of little things that have given her good practice and plenty of room to explore, but hasn't really focused on anything in particular. Last week, though, she scored her first stitch-for-pay ($2!) job and she is oh so proud. Here she is with the pair of shorts she hemmed for our neighbor. Coincidentally, she's wearing the dress that was made as a gift for her by the owner of this darling, tiny coffee and ice cream shop, who we met in Alaska last summer. This dress is actually what spurred on the Goob's interest in sewing.

The title of this blog entry refers to the weekend's split personality, partially spent in VT and partially in CT. We did this shucking and jiving to minimize exposure to water from the sky and maximize exposure to water in natural pools. There was knitting (and fishing) on the shore of Lake Champlain while Jesse was diving...
and more knitting on (and fishing from) the boulders at Cotton Hollow while the kids sat in waterfalls, climbed rocks with friends, and explored our favorite natural playground. Fresh trout for campfire dinner...mmm. I'm about 15" up the back of Bella and Leah is now nuts about knitting mittens. She's more than halfway done with her first mitten and can't wait to make more. Jesse is researching Bushnell's Turtle because he remains fascinated with methods of staying underwater. And no, he tells me, scuba lessons are not nearly as enticing as coming up with his own ways. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

recipe: mini-vacation

1 brisk pre-autumn evening
1 deck surrounded by woods
1 friend
2 or more knitting projects

Blend ingredients.
Simmer until cup overfloweth.

Enjoy with a topping of lively conversation and total comfort. Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 14, 2006


Can you find the knitter? No, not me. The other knitter who was at the Rock Cats baseball game last week.
It was from this distance that her daughter spotted us across stands before the game started! Luckily, the other friends we were meeting also found us easily and much fun was had by all.

Leah ended up with a cold at the end of the week, so we bagged our camping plans. Much of the weekend was spent happily homebound, weeding the flower garden, playing games, and doing much canning. Peaches, peach jam, salsa, tomato sauce, peach chutney...yum!

Had a great dinner with friends last night, one of whom I was meeting in real life for the first time, but I've known of her for years and we greeted each other with a big hug and conversation flowed easily for hours, so she's a friend, as far as I'm concerned. On the way home, I saw a fiery glow and lots of smoke. As I approached my street, I knew the fire wasn't at my house, but definitely close. The firemen were staging at the intersection just past our house and I could hear their radio communication. It ends up that the VFW hall ~5 buildings away from us was thoroughly destroyed. This is what's left of the building as of this morning.

Bella's sleeves are done and I'm ready to cast on for the body, but I need to do a little checking to see if I can safely steek the wool/silk yarn I'm using. In the meantime, I started a pair of mittens from Mostly Mittens, Traditional Knitting Patterns from Russia's Komi People. Seems like a good fit, since I received an email from Gram this weekend, midway through her cruise on the Baltic Sea, including stops in Sweden (where she celebrated her 87th birthday!), Latvia, Russia, Estonia, and other fascinating places where people might wear exactly this style of woolens.Jesse and Scott are down with the cough and crud now, so we'll gladly spend a few more days laying low and enjoying home. Thank goodness for a lifestyle where we can ride the waves like this and all the options are good ones. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 06, 2006

R2R + (MND x 2) = 4:-)

Ahhh...Rebels to Redcoats weekend at Old Sturbridge Village has become one of our favorite annual events. This year there were over 600 reenactors in period costume participating in formal events and also staying in encampments throughout the village for informal interaction throughout the days. As has been the case for at least three years now, Scott, Jesse, and Leah spent all day Saturday and all day Sunday there and came home thoroughly jazzed.

Because the reenactors are passionate about history and especially the time period they've chosen to recreate, they are thrilled to interact with kids and adults who are honestly engaged and inquisitive, and will often become increasingly open and sharing as they realize the extent of interest. Jesse was, as always, entranced by the historic weaponry. This year he focused on the Gatling gun and became an assistant for the reenactor you see to his right in the picture above, eventually earning the opportunity to clean the gun and help carry the ammunition box. He was greeted like a member of the reenactor group when he returned for the second day. As usual, he fell into his spontaneous docent role in the blacksmith's shop too, with the blessing of the blacksmith himself. :-) Leah found her niche on Saturday when she took her turn at the spinning wheel of someone doing a demo and was recognized by the demo'er as a fellow member of Nutmeg Spinners Guild. They arrived home Saturday afternoon just long enough for us all to head out with my mom to the New England Shakespeare Festival's performance of Midsummer Night's Dream. Yes, we just saw one version of Midsummer Night's Dream a couple of weeks ago, but we've seen about five versions all together now and each one has a completely different flavor from the others. This particular version was rollicking, informal, and often downright hilarious. Like when the whole shebang paused for the "flying machine" to pass, while the Elizabethan players looked quite perplexed by this contraption and the audience joined in on a quick round of singing "I'm leaving on a jet plane. I don't know when I'll be back again." Good raucous Shakespeare for the common folk!Back to Old Sturbridge Village for day 2 of Rebels to Redcoats today. Met up with friends, as planned, and more friends, unplanned! Above is Jesse enjoying a walk in the company of General Grant, with whom they had a picnic lunch last year. And here you see Leah (in blue) and her militia friends parading around the common. That's Molly Pitcher behind her, in the bonnet, and crisp militia-woman Emma in red, marching in step with the commanding officers. They came home thoroughly wiped out, treasuring the small mementos gifted to them by reenactors, with many stories to share and the glee that comes from a weekend with family and friends, and boundless enthusiasm for history brought to life. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 05, 2006

coming up for air

Yup, it's been a little toasty 'round here. We handled this by staying in air conditioning or water. Jesse and Leah generally came up only long enough to get a fresh breath of air and then were back in again via another route. Here you see their holding-hands-dock-jumping entrance to our favorite swimming hole.

I know the pic is dark. That's because it was evening, our favorite time to be there. We often have the place to ourselves and stay until it's too dark to see. Other bodies of water this week have included the ocean, pool at a friend's house, a state park pond, and a most excellent time in a local stream with climbable waterfalls, rapids, and many interesting spots to explore.

I too have come up for air, when I pop my head out of work mode to see what's up in the rest of the world. Public service announcement to the cubicle dwellers: Those of us who cover your job while on vacation would appreciate if you didn't all schedule your vacations in the same couple of weeks. Please plan accordingly.

You know how the past month or so has been kind of hectic with the workload? Well, I didn't see it coming, but apparently all of that was just a warmup for this week. It's like we've gone from the pzzft, pzzft of a one-at-a-time lame-o fireworks show to the grandest of fireworks spectacular finales. Because, you know, covering three full-time jobs plus the usual workload will make for a mighty interesting week coming up.

In preparation for the upcoming insane-a-thon and while the boys were gone fishin' with one of Jesse's pals, last night was spent enjoying the comfortable breeze and bright moon in the presence of knitterfriends.
Leah alternated between working on a knitted rug for her doll and a poncho for herself. I continued on Bella and am now ready for the shoulder shaping on both sleeves. (I will spare you the agony of multiple pictures as I inch along on this project. But, Sandy, you're still going to need to tolerate an occasional photo of the results of our recycling efforts. ;-) Knitting content will likely be sparse over the next week or so as these fingers are otherwise occupied, but we'll catch you again on the flip side. Posted by Picasa