Friday, July 30, 2010

Peaches

My husband and I spent all of yesterday evening turning these

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into this:

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That’s twenty-three pints of white peach jam, and if there is anything more satisfying in this world than turning a bushel of fruit you grew yourself into a sunlit table full of jam, well, I don’t know what it would be.

There’s that moment when the jars start to seal, that little shnoop sound when the lid pops down, and my heart just cheers inside my sweaty little chest. I do find it something of a bitter pill that fruit ripens, of course, in the summer, so I am forced to can it when the kitchen is 100 degrees, but it is absolutely worth it.

A few years ago, my neighbor (who is one of those old-timey country farmer types) came through the hedge carrying a peach sapling that had come up from a pit in his compost pile. He asked if we wanted it, and we, knowing nothing at all about how fruit is usually propagated, said heck yeah, we do!

I have since discovered that peach trees (and other fruit trees, too) are not ever grown from seed, because you can’t know what the result will be, and most times it will be something yucky—bitter and inedible.

The tree grew, and we waited. One year, a few little blossoms burst forth, and the bees showed up, and lo, there was fruit.

The peaches were tiny, barely bigger than the pits inside. But the flesh was sweet, and white, not too flowery, delicious.

Eventually, we figured out to thin then, and they got a little bigger, and the tree got bigger and more blossoms came, and more bees showed up, and pretty soon, we had ourselves a decent peach tree, making big baskets full of still-petite, but juicy and sweet, white peaches.

Finally, someone clued us in about fruit tree propagation, and informed us that we were in possession of an amazing feat of nature—a fruit tree, grown from seed, that produces edible, delicious, desirable fruit.

Which makes this seem all the more like treasure.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

You win some, and you lose some

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Here’s my sweater.

Every once in awhile (not so often with my knitting, I’m proud to say) something just fails. I had the whole body done, and very hopefully tried it on, and it was just HUGE. I know exactly what went wrong, and there was nothing for it but to rip the whole thing out. Sigh.

Luckily, as my daughter pointed out, I like to knit! So now I still have this perfectly delicious Malabrigo yarn, and it will be a successful sweater someday, and now I must go and look up the dictionary definition of “hubris.”

During the time I was knitting along, blissfully ignorant of the huge mistake that would make my poor sweater a complete dud, I also had a grand idea.

My favorite knitting chair faces the couch, and from there I am able to scrutinize my decorating choices. There was a terrible floor lamp over there, and as I was blindly knitting away I suddenly thought, hey! Wouldn’t a big paper lantern be great in that spot? (I am of the school of thinking that wants to get everything up and off the floors, and also of the school that believes you can change your life if you can achieve the proper lighting, and also of the school that wants to have a little bit of every single decorating style there is, all in the same room. Thus my Victorian/Cottage/Contemporary/Farmhouse/Free-by-the-side-of-the-road decor.)

I marshaled everyone into the car, and off we went to Pier 1 (goodness, I hadn’t been there in ages, and had forgotten how wanty it makes me. Hammocks! Wicker! Fun party dishes! Hot pink silk throw pillows!)

Naturally, the cord is ugly, but I had a solution.

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I’m not sure what I think. What do you think? I’m aiming for whimsically bohemian, but it might be a little too college dorm-ish. Here’s another look:

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I always love paper lanterns in other people’s decor, but in mine, they just look strange. Then again, my decor is essentially that my living room looks like somebody’s yard sale. (Wow, this photo makes me hate my couch. How I yearn for a white slipcovered couch.)

I really want to love this lantern, now that there are two fresh holes drilled in the ceiling (and two more that were mistakes, aargh.) But do I? I’m still not sure.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Miles of Stockinette

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I’m not sure what it is about a heatwave that makes me feel like knitting things that are thick and hearty and made of wool. Possibly they remind me that more temperate days are coming, and that one day there will not be 82% humidity.

I’m doing all this without air conditioning, too, mind you.

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That’s hot coffee right there. Clearly, I have a sickness.

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This is another top-down raglan of my own figuring, since I really really REALLY love the comfort of knitting miles and miles of stockinette. The yarn is Malabrigo worsted, which is, in my opinion, the very best yarn a person can have and still be able to send her children to college. It is soft enough to use for a baby’s pajamas, and it comes in the most delicious array of colorways. This one is called “frost.” I believe it is kettle-dyed, so you get that exciting variation between skeins and you should use two skeins at a time, alternating every other row for a nicely blended effect (or if, like me, you’re lazy and can’t be bothered with having two balls of yarn to deal with, you can do what I did and make your peace with all the striping and variations. )

The top-down raglan is the best ever kind of comfort knitting, since the only measurement you truly need is the length of the raglan--that’s the seam you see in the above photo. If you cast on correctly and work your increases like you’re supposed to, by the time your raglan measurement is achieved, the body and the sleeves all have the perfect number of stitches. Magic! There’s about five minutes of thinking required at the planning stages of this kind of sweater (mostly involving which kind of neckline you want) and you have to swatch. I know. But then your mind is free to wander and your hands are free to knit knit knit, and then, of course, when it’s done you don’t have to sew up a dang thing. Lovely.

The weather forecast is for heat and more heat, so look for this to be finished in a few days.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mossy Cabled Cardigan

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I finished this yesterday, in a big frenzied rush—goodness knows why, since it is high summer and the temperature does not lend itself to a lot of wool. Well, I am a knitter, and this is what I do. When September comes, this lovely sweater will be there, waiting and ready.

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This is my third Central Park Hoodie, and it is my very favorite sweater to knit, and to wear. The yarn is Patons Classic Merino, in Moss Green, shown on me in XS—I like it with a little negative ease, and with wearing, this sweater relaxes a bit anyway.

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A yummy cardigan like this makes me dream of campfires and leaf piles and apple cider. All in good time, my friends.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hot Day in July

It is blazing hot here, and I can’t imagine having a lump of sweater on my lap—one sleeve left—though my thoughts do turn to the next quilt (aided and abetted by the wonderfully inspiring Jane Brocket from Yarnstorm and her beautiful book “The Gentle Art of Quiltmaking”. Go get that book; you’ll be chopping up the curtains.)

Meanwhile, there is this:

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(Black raspberries, I think the variety is ”Cumberland”)

and this:

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(Daylily, goodness knows what kind)

and this:

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(Stargazer lily; surely, the most intoxicating flower of them all. Doesn’t it make you wish you were a bee?)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Summer!

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Ah, it’s summer! That’s all I need, right there. A sunny porch, an iced coffee and a gripping novel about art and sabotage and the Vatican…wait, something’s missing…

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There.

What?

You mean you didn’t have a sudden urge to knit a wooly cabled cardigan on the first of July?

Hmm…

Well, I can’t explain that.

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