Friday, March 16, 2012

Two Firsts

I have never knit a garment. I knit very loosely, so I've always been worried about making something that would fit. So yesterday I knit my very first swatch for a hooded vest, and blocked it, along with blocking the scarf I finished the day before. (The blocking is also a first.) Here you can see the scarf and the swatch pinned to some foam matting:


Jake was intrigued all night by this new addition to his house and kept sniffing it... but nothing smelled like supper. By this morning everything was dry, so I unpinned it.

The scarf turned out beautifully:


I already liked the color and the pattern (above you can see the knit side and the purl side, both are very interesting) but the blocking changed the texture of it to be very soft and drapey. I am very pleased with it, but I don't know if I will be able to wear it until it gets cooler! I have a new top it would go very nicely with...

Here is a close-up of my swatch. I found the pattern last fall (October, I think) when I went to the knit expo in Schaumburg. The yarn is Lion Brand, bought at JoAnn's. It is undyed, and the label says it has natural oils. I didn't really notice that when I was knitting. Now I am in unknown territory. I stretched this when I blocked it... quite a bit, and now the gauge is off. I am supposed to have 20 stitches in 4 inches, and I have 15 1/2. So, can I block it again and hope it will shrink a little, or do I have to try again with smaller needles? I am already using needles 2 sizes smaller than called for.


Our spring is still accelerating. Today the daffodils are out and all the maples are flowering. I guess tomorrow we will see the tulips!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

This and that

In Arizona my dad was telling the story of a visit to southern Mexico for his work. His host had a meeting that did not involve him, so dad asked to visit the local ruins. While he was there exploring a lady started following him around trying to sell him some woven shawls. He was not too interested in that kind of stuff, so he declined, but the lady kept dropping the price, from $12 to $3, at which point he bought the shawl, with very mixed feelings. She must have been in quite a bit of need to drop the price so far, but did he take advantage of her? To this day he is not quite sure.

It would be wonderful to be able to put people with beautiful handwork into contact with people who want, appreciate, and can afford beautiful things. That is happening more and more with fair trade items around the world, but there is a long way to go yet.

After my dad told the story, we were getting ready to leave the house, and my mom came out of the bedroom with the shawl in question. The weaving is amazing! The yarn is a little bit coarse, but this is a very warm shawl. When I admired it, my mom gave it to me. Isn't it beautiful?


A few days ago I receive a package from my mom with something I had forgotten (my scissors earrings). She wrapped and padded them in this apron:


It is old and faded, and has a few holes, but my mom told me her sister, my aunt Marcia, made it for her when she was a child. I can just see my aunt making it, and my mom bustling around the kitchen helping out with her apron on. Thank you mom, for sharing it with me!

Weather-wise we have skipped right from early spring into mid-summer. The plants are all bursting out to catch up. Yesterday when I went outside there was one crocus:


Today they are all up:


I planted a dozen crocuses in this spot probably about 30 years ago, 4 yellow ones, 4 purple ones, and 4 white ones. The yellow ones were the first to disappear, and the purple ones lasted several more years. I don't know if you can see, but a couple of the white ones have some purple tinge to them. I don't know if these are a blend between the original white and purple ones, or if they are the purple ones that have lost their color. All I know is that I love it when they come up every year.

Have you ever heard of a vegetable called romanesco? I hadn't until last Friday. Our food pantry got a donation, and we were all amazed at how beautiful (and strange-looking) they were. This color is not accurate, they are a much brighter yellow-green. The pointy spirals are very interesting, and when I looked in wikipedia they did confirm that these heads demonstrate fractals and Fibonacci numbers. So cool!


We were a little nervous to eat it, but I went ahead and cooked it like cauliflower. The verdict is it tastes like cauliflower, but it feels like broccoli in your mouth. We would definitely eat it again, if we ever saw it again!

Monday, March 12, 2012

It was so much fun!

VIP day was a lot of fun! C and I got to sit in the rocking chairs, while everyone else had to sit on the floor. I was amazed even before I started one boy asked if I had been knitting ahead of time (I had!) and two boys knew that some clothes come from wool. Another girl knew about silk worms.


Everyone was very interested in and excited about the cotton bolls.

I did go a little long, but the kids were interested through the whole chat.

It was quite an interesting peek into a whole kindergarten world.