Saturday, October 31, 2009

contains natural and artificial colors

Snapshot from the start of last night's pizza party.

One hour and 33 pizzas later, many full bellies and a funny little dog sniffing the ground for tasty drops.

BTW, shrimp scampi pizza w/ marinated artichoke hearts? :::Swoon!:::
Leah's newest project, stranded socks.

The pumpkin cheesecakes are in the oven and we are otherwise all ready for today's festivities. As if a ukulele band isn't goofy enough, how about a uke band with all members wearing Halloween costumes?
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Friday, October 30, 2009

rolling rolling rolling

Most recent in the wood-fired oven playtime was seven-grain bread, including some loaves with dried cranberries -- my favorite bread ever. I'd say Scott's getting pretty good with this thing.

Meanwhile, guess what handknit has become a favorite sweater? Warms a knitter's heart.

Last spring, when we committed to five solid months of farmers' markets (which meant Scott baking like a crazy man every Saturday and all of us at the market every Sunday, in addition to fitting in his usual wholesale accounts, my work, all of our social stuff, and then piling two more farmers' markets a week on top of it all), I actually had a moment of wondering if we'd be far enough out of touch at the other end that our weekend calendar would have ghost town tumbleweeds rolling by.

heh heh...I crack myself up.

The last of the summer markets was last Sunday. Plans for this weekend include:

Friday: uke band gig/halloween party, pizza b'day party, African children's music performance.

Saturday: uke band/community singalong, wedding of an old friend (costumes encouraged! more old friends there too! friend's kick ass band playing zydeco!), neighborhood Halloween silliness, costume party/potluck dinner.

Sunday: concert in MA that we're totally psyched about.

:::insert sarcastic tone and exaggerated eye-rolling here::: I sure do feel sorry for those poor unsocialized homeschooling kids of ours, sequestered away from society and living an isolated life. ;-)
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Leah has an astounding number of projects in motion right now, worked on in the quiet times in between all her other activities. Since Christmas is coming, many are secrets, but I know there's cross stitch, sewing, knitting, and embroidery among them. I find bits of other experiments scattered about occasionally -- leftover lace from a scavened dress she took apart to make into something else, a zipper for a leather boot she's sewing, a bit of knitting made from drop spindle-spun yarn. Among the projects that have emerged from her studio bedroom lately are:

A felted amulet pouch, made on commission. She knitted and felted the bag, needle felted the kanji for Strength onto it, and made a twisted cord from the yarn and roving she used. I suggested using one of Scott's glass buttons as a closure, but she rejected that idea, saying it would make the pouch too busy and that the flap is long enough for gravity to keep it closed.

A wee sweater, the design for which flowed straight from her head to the needles. The flared skirt is because she wanted it to be like a riding jacket. She knit it top down, morphing her understanding of thumb gussets into shoulder shaping. And then she threw it away because it was just an experiment.

An abandoned start to a Laminaria shawl. It, like all lace, would look a million times better after blocking, but she felt she was in over her head on this one. I think she was just using needles that were a little too small, but she was already moving on.

Now she's using the same yarn doubled up for a Forest Canopy shawl. Bigger needles, more satisfying rate of progress. Beautiful yarn received as a gift from Gail Callahan, the Kangaroo Dyer.

This morning, I saw the beginning of a colorwork sock, one solid colored yarn and one wildly variegated. As I looked at my friends' activity on Ravelry, I noticed that she favorited some incredible colorwork socks yesterday. I suppose this would explain why I saw her taking the entire sock yarn stash bag into her bedroom yesterday afternoon...
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

a boy and his toys

Lixie, who has been mentioned here before, asked Scott if he could do a likeness of a person in glass. He's a cartoonist from way back and has made some lampwork heads from his imagination in the past, so he was game for the challenge. Lixie forwarded a link to one of her blog posts that cracks me up every time, comparing how her husband, Pooch, resembles a baby hedgehog! (Go ahead and click over there for a giggle. I'll wait.)

It then took a couple of tries, but a disembodied glass Pooch-like stitch marker is currently winging its way to London.

Doesn't get much more custom (or silly) than that, does it? ;-)

When he's not playing with fire and glass, Scott's lately playing with fire and food. Since the oven was still hot yesterday morning, after the pizza party of the night before, he stoked up the fire again and made a big batch of bagels (about 6 dozen, flavors including cinnamon raisin, garlic, onion) yesterday morning.

And since the oven was still warm yesterday afternoon, he popped a ham in there before he and the kids headed to the indoor water park (free admission!) again for the rainy afternoon. There are no words to describe the delectable results. Holy moly, you guys -- smoky, slightly crispy edges, falling off the bone. The ham; not the kids.

Meanwhile, we're all still raving about the egg sandwiches from the other morning. Fresh sourdough bread, toasted. Fresh local eggs rec'd as a gift from our firewood delivery guy, who sure does like Scott's cookies. Homemade honey mustard. Locally grown lettuce, crisp and cold and green. Tomatoes from one of the farmers at last week's markets. :::drool:::

I just refilled my coffee mug and noticed he's out there with a roaring fire again this morning. I wonder what he's mixing up in the bakery...

Fibery post to follow. There's just too much fun going on around here to fit it all in one post.
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Wednesday, October 28, 2009


(I took these pics a couple of wks ago, but somehow forgot to put them on the blog until today.)

Learning to knit lace can be a pretty big challenge, but apparently not too big a challenge for an 11-year-old knitter on a mission.

Leah's Swallowtail shawl was off to a rough start in July. Torn out and started over.

Another attempt and fairly smooth sailing for a while.

Confidence growing, she moved into the Lily of the Valley section within a couple of weeks, replacing the nupps with beads.

Knitted like crazy, trying to finish it in time to wear to her Great Grandma's 90th birthday celebration, only to step back and realize she had made some big boo-boos in understanding the chart. There were tears and the shawl went into a major time-out, from early August until mid September.

It re-emerged for the Franklin County Fiber Twist almost two months later and was finally cast off, blocked, and debuted at our favorite lys by mid October.

Somehow, none of that matters anymore. I think wearing this lace is all the more sweet for her because of the difficulties overcome along the way. Oh, the compliments! Oh, the proud smile! Oh, the buzz of making something so beautiful from two sticks and a ball of string!
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past few days and more Stitches thoughts

Sunday couldn't have been more perfect for the last outdoor farmers' market of the season. Great Pumpkin Festival theme. Lots of great costumes and a steady stream of friends and customers at the booth. The bakery was completely sold out by the end of the day and Scott had baked a LOT.

While waiting in a pretty cemetery in between activities, Leah spotted a little fox trotting across the grass.

Free admission to the indoor water park! I climbed 24 flights of stairs to slide down those crazy tubes six times. I can't even imagine how many times the kids went down them. Yahoo!

Had another successful pizza party with the new oven yesterday. These are just for practice (and fun!), not for pay. Tweaking our set-up and process, getting to know the oven, and making some mighty yummy pizzas along the way.

Leah and I were talking about our day at Stitches. Decided that, for us, Stitches compares to sheep and wool festivals like grocery shopping at Sam's Club compares to buying veggies at the farmers' market. In other words, there's still good quality and good deals to be found, but it left us feeling a little empty, not refreshed and excited, like we are after a sheep and wool festival.

Also, we like our fiber festivals to be FESTIVE and, in our opinion, Stitches wasn't. I don't know if it was the convention center atmosphere or the rainy day or the ban on taking pictures (except of the Big Sock) or the people Stitches attracts, but the sense of it being a big happy celebration of wooly goodness was absent. Glad Stitches was so close to home this time so we could easily check it out, but we made the decision that the smaller festivals are a better fit for us.
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Sunday, October 25, 2009

just up the road

Wasn't it nice of the people who run Stitches events to schedule Stitches East about 10 minutes from my house? Leah and I didn't sign up for any classes, but we figured we'd go and check out the marketplace, at least. My mom joined in for the day too, keeping an eye out for a new project for herself.

We attended a demo and fashion show, ran into many folks we know, got a kick out of seeing Scott's stitch markers for sale in the Dye Dreams booth, and did some knitting on the very silly big sock that may eventually make its way into the Guinness Book of World Records.

Leah received about a zillion compliments on her Swallowtail shawl. She bought a few Zippy pins and a skein of yarn for another lace shawl. She was in search of an especially beautiful drop spindle, but didn't find one, so she'll browse on Etsy.

My mom loved this Dream In Color experimental yarn with the finest silver thread spun into it, so she bought enough to make a good-sized shawl and some beads to add a little weight and sparkle.
As for me? Well, before we went, I browsed the stash and rediscovered so much good yarn just bursting with possibility. I also emptied my knitting bag of the five current works-in-progress. And then I didn't buy a thing. Not a single thing! Plenty of temptations at Stitches, but really, an abundance of great options already at home and I am content with that.

Excellent guacamole and appetizers to round out the day, then home for some work and a call to my Gram, who is coming to visit soon. Yippee!!
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Thursday, October 22, 2009

color play

Kathy Merrick and Creative Fibers teamed up last night for an evening of putting colors together for projects. Lots of crochet, lots of Koigu, lots of lively debate and discussion by a full house of fiber folks who clearly don't shy away from color.
Throughout, I was working on my first twined knitting project. A few weeks ago, I won some yarn through the New England Textile Arts group. While browsing Ravelry projects that use this yarn, I noticed that it looks good in twined knitting and that's a technique I haven't tried before, so I borrowed Twined Knitting from the library. Plenty of inspiration there, but when it came time to cast on and just do a simple project, there was a little too much information to sift through in the book. Luckily, Ravelry helped me find lots of twined knitting patterns, including one for basic twined mittens. Cast on Tues. evening and by yesterday evening...
Twined knitting is slower going than regular knitting, but I'm not in any hurry. It makes a thicker, warmer, squishier fabric and I'm loving it. I'm letting the variegated yarn do the patterning this time, but there are some very pretty textures and patterns to be made with solid yarn too. Maybe I'll try that next.

Like ripples in a pond, trying one new thing leads to another and another and another. Yahoo!
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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

weirder and weirder

Such a lot of silliness going on around here.

First pizza party with the new oven was a success! You know the baker's always wanted to do this:
as a step toward making pizza pies like this:
Meanwhile, I dug out my 1970s era latch hook and put my mad latch hooking skillz to good use like this:
so my peach fuzzed boy could have a finger 'stache like this!

Goofy goodness all 'round!
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Saturday, October 17, 2009


The first batch of sourdough bread in the new oven was a little bit overdone (still good, just some loaves too dark on top), but Scott had better luck with yesterday's batch. Jesse's learning how to work the oven right along with him and the two of them are just tickled pink with this whole thing -- good fun, good food!
Happy to see the holes for which sourdough is known, and to taste that distinctive flavor of sourdough, made from starter that's been alive since the days of the Oregon Trail and actively in use here for five years or so.

Another happy dance for making something full of holes when the last two Swallowtail shawl knitalong'ers, Lyn and Leah, showed off their newly blocked shawls at our favorite lys yesterday evening. Leah's pretty psyched to have finished this challenging project, having overcome some major difficulties with it along the way. Now that she gets it, she has fallen in love with knitting lace.

While the swallowtail was blocking, she was winding the lovely yarns she received as gifts from Gail Callahan, the Kangaroo Dyer. She printed out patterns for two more shawls yesterday afternoon and cast on for one of them last night, having already determined that one will be travel knitting for an upcoming vacation and the other will be for knitting otherwise. She likes the idea of knitting things that are challenging, beautiful, can be worn in multiple ways, and, importantly, won't be outgrown.

I made a hole too!
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Thursday, October 15, 2009

up for grabs

ETA: The sweaters are no longer available!


Leah has outgrown one sweater and one top that I knit for her. I'd rather they go to knitters (or knitters' daughters) than Goodwill, so here's what I have up for grabs:
First is the Hybrid sweater. Chest 34", length 21", sleeve 17". Knit w/ 2 strands of reclaimed cotton and 1 strand of variegated tencel (see the blog post linked above for better pics of the resulting fabric). The back is stockinette. Has had lots and lots of wear, but is holding up well except for the fact that there are cotton yarn ends that have worked free and are poking out here and there. Easily fixed w/ a tapestry needle and a little time re-tucking the ends. Worth the effort, IMO.

Next is the Josephine top, also knit with reclaimed cotton. Chest 36", length 19", distance from shoulder to tie row 8" (this is the main measurement that doesn't work for Leah anymore -- measure yourself/your intended recipient carefully to see where this horizontal tie will be), armscye 5-1/2" tall. No pokey-outey ends on this one.

Both could stand to be washed, but they're in otherwise good shape.
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it's all about the shaping

Okay, so those odd bumpy red pieces in the knitigami post fold in half lengthwise and are intended to be felted and stuffed to make a 3D cardinal. Mine won't be felted or stuffed, but it's still perfect for what I want. I've never knit anything with such funky shaping and did not understand what I was doing as I went along, just made myself follow the pattern blindly. I had the wing and a good portion of the body done before I realized that the pieces would be folded along the center to achieve the intended shapes! There are some very minor errors in the freebie pattern, easily remedied with a little common sense (even WITHOUT a clue!), but it's still easy to follow. It blows my mind that someone could sit down with a 3D shape in their mind, deconstruct it into flat pieces and then knit all the curves and shaping right into it. I still need to make the tail feathers, but will do that in a different way than the pattern states because my cardinal will stay flat.
The other new project is a pair of Fanning the Flame mittens. I saw a pair of these while at a knit night at my favorite lys recently. I haven't ever done modular knitting, so thought they'd be a fun way to give it a try. I was a few fans into it when I realized it was turning out big. Decided that was no problem, maybe even a good thing, because I'd have enough room to line them with fleece for extra warmth. Thought it was curious that my gauge was so far off (no, I hadn't checked ahead of time), but kept knitting away on them, when suddenly it was as if my needles were made of glowing neon. I looked at them, really LOOKED at them, and thought, "Wait a minute, those aren't size 1 needles. They're size 3s!" Ohhhh, so the size 1s I stuffed in my bag to use on this project were not the same needles I actually pulled out of the bag when it was time to cast on. Cast-on and the first few fans happened while at the haunted corn maze Leah was volunteering at over the weekend, so with all the distractions of ghosts and ghoulies floating about, I didn't even think to check the needle size. I like 'em anyway. Ready to knit the fan with stitches for thumb placement.

Yesterday's experiment with the new oven was bagels. Scott got a kick out of shaping them and they turned out incredibly well. Here's the first batch, plain and sesame.

Some of the 2nd batch (garlic, poppy, everything), about to be baked in the heat of a wood fire. Oh so good.
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Wednesday, October 14, 2009


We interrupt this knitterly blog to bring you news of a new toy at our house and the first of many yummy treats to follow...

After a full week of jumping through hoops, pulling out hair (well, you know, if he had any), and a 13+ hour round-trip drive, what we have here now is a mobile wood-fired oven and an extremely happy baker.

Pizza? Yum.
Next up? Bagels. Like they make in Montreal. OMG - YUM. Fingers crossed!

We will now return you to your regularly scheduled wool- and glass-filled program. Beeep!
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