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August 2009

tickling blackberries

"Either you've been picking blackberries or voting in Afghanistan."

      -words spoken by a neighbor after seeing my hands.

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Arctic
Front
august
system
frost

northeast kingdom
Blast
isolated
late summer
thursday
elevation
polar air

These are words that were spoken this morning, in the forecast for tonight and tomorrow. Words that should not be spoken in August, not now, when the berries are ripening.  This post was supposed to be about tickling blackberries, and warm sunshine and waiting until they were just at the perfect stage of sweetness.  Errrmmm.... I may have to tickle them a little harder this morning.  Something I never do.  A blackberry is a delight, honey sweet and bursting with juice when it is ripe.  Black berries are not necessarily ripe.  Red ones are not even close.  A berry needs to be so full of juice that you risk having it explode in your fingers.  I hold my hands under the berries I'm picking, letting them fall into my palm as I very gently tickle them. If they don't fall, they aren't ready.  Most ripe berries have others equally ripe next to them.  Tickle softly or the others will fall.  It's no fun to kneel down to retrieve them in a thorny patch of canes.  When you lose them, they're gone. 



last week

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Sometime last week, I finished Pompa.  The days of last week are blurred, melted together to be remembered as a week with family, doing things mostly together.  My niece, now a tall and slender 13 year old (need I say more) pleasantly surprised me by getting out of the car after a 12 hour drive, heading for the pond to check out, and catch frogs.  Whew!!  Maturity (??) had not dulled her skill and soon she had one in each hand.  I was SO afraid those days of kids in the pond were gone.  Almost.  Just not this year.  Though they knew that we don't have cell service, that was still the biggest disappointment.  I saw the two of them carrying their phones to assorted high up places in hope of catching that stray signal.  Trips out, away from this side of the kingdom were as much a time to upload all of the waiting messages and emails as adventures.  We managed to fit in two bike rides, one on the bike paths at Stowe, and another day spent on the trail that hugs Lake Champlain in Burlington.  There should be pictures, but.. I was too busy.  We ate.  My BIL made pies. And fudge.  Chris made pizza on the grill. Three pounds of dough makes a lot of pizza.  Yumm.. He's a master at it.

My nephew surprised me.  He's a new knitter.  By the time he left (with a small stash of his own), he was doing short rows, purl stitch, long tail cast on, and k2tog. along with the garter stitch he arrived with.  It was amazing to see how quickly he picked up the new skills.  Faster than I remembered.  We knit on the deck, on the raft, and while watching movies at night.  He's working on head wear to hold back his dreads.  New design ideas are already dancing around in his head.  A circular needle went along with him to try on the trip home.  It was fun.  In between, I worked on finishing Pompa.

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That head belongs to Sam, always ready to help.

Pompa held my interest all the way through.  I love the zig zag patterning.  I decided to knit it as long as the skein of yarn allowed.  It blocked at nearly six feet.  

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  • Pattern: Pompa by Anne Hanson
  • Yarn: Ball and Skein Elise
             50% merino / 50% silk
             375 yards  
  • Needles: KnitPicks Harmony #5

bright spots

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Pompa is a bit over 4 ft. now and still growing, more quickly now.  Finally, the pattern feels more natural to me and I glance at the chart less and less frequently.  It still amuses me to watch the zig zag pattern emerge.  I'm loving it.  My plan is to knit til I don't have enough yarn for another repeat.  I like my scarves longer than the pattern calls for.  It should be well over 60" when blocked.  The Poppy colorway has brightened many rainy days.  It isn't usually a color that I choose for myself.  Must have been all the gray, or maybe that the poppies on the hill behind the barn were blooming so brightly in contrast that inspired me to choose it over my more usual subtle color choices.

Today's sun (and the forecast for another few) have popped a couple other bright spots.

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Thanks to you that have emailed Vermont's governor.  As much as I hate to think it, I believe it is really (the quality of) two lives that are in the balance.  If you haven't read yesterday's post, please consider reading it and writing a short email on Peter and David's behalf.


Save Peter the Moose!

The man you see in this video is a friend, a friend that I and folks in my town (including past game wardens and the road commissioner) call for help when they have wild animal problems.  David was asked to rescue Peter as a wounded calf.  Now, the state of Vermont wants to kill Peter (shoot him, humanely they say).  It is illegal to make a wild animal into a pet.  Peter lives on a 700 acre elk hunting preserve, not exactly someone's back yard.  It is fenced.  The animals that live there are cared for.  I have been there.  If disease is an issue, certainly it is easier to check in a restricted area than in the wild.  Disease has not been found.  Please help us save Peter the moose.  You may not live in Vermont, but you can still be counted. Vermont depends on tourist dollars. 

This link is for an interview with David.  It can not be embedded.  Please click here.  It is worth seeing.  And then... please email my governor, here.  Or phone him on Thursday.

Gov. Douglas 802.828.3333

Help us save Peter. TIME IS SHORT!

Peter moose 

(I don't know who took this picture of Peter.  It wasn't me.  I hope that the photographer won't mind as I am using it as it was intended, to help save Peter.)

If you belong to Facebook, join the more than 1200 people who have already signed on and make Peter Moose your friend.  Or, watch the clip on this blog, David and the Kingdom.


walk with me wednesday

hours of blue
days of gray

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That best describes the summer thus far.  Last weekend, finally, there were more hours of blue.  It was wonderful.  Sunday morning, the logger that I'd had cut a blow down area, came by to move his skidder up the road to a neighboring farm.  I walked the trimmed out woods road with him, checking to see if things had dried enough to get to some large downed maples I wanted to pull out for firewood.  Things are drying, but not dry enough to keep from rutting things up.  Maybe a few more weeks.  Maybe.  A bit later, another neighbor stopped by to check the list of the barn.  I like to double check it every year or so.  The sills are on the ground, not on footings or a foundation so it moves around with the moisture and temperature each season.  Sort of like a boat on the water.  Sort of.  While he was there, we started talking about the family of Canada geese that the town had been home to all summer.  We thought of them as "ours".  So did everyone else with a pond.  All seventeen of them made it through the spring and summer.  Now that the goslings have learned to fly, we no longer see them walking out of the woods, coming the last quarter mile up the hill from my closest neighbor.   They've expanded their home territory from what I think was about 1/2 mile square, to perhaps a mile or so, as the goose flies, of course.  I'd heard them fly in about dusk, announcing themselves and sending out an invitation to another group in the area.  Party night.  I hoped they'd stay away from the yard.  Thirty odd adult geese make an awful mess.  They did, and in the early morning, I heard them take off again. 

In the late afternoon, I left my shoes on the bank,

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and paddled out to see where my summer neighbors were making their homes.  

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 I found the entrance to the otters' den, several for the muskrat, 

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and what I hope is the abandoned beginnings of the beaver's lodge.  I never successfully trapped him this summer.  I did get him in the trap once, but.... he, being the largest beaver I've seen in a while, ripped the door off of the trap and got away just as I got to him.  

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This year's geese may be back next year.  The two sets of parents made their home here for the last two years.  The population has apparently been increasing.  An article in the local paper noted an increase in the bag limit for Canada Geese this year to five per day.  It said that the local population needed to decrease before the transients come through.  Seems like a lot to me.  Fly away quickly my friends.  I saw a red leaf.


Onwards to Pompa

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It has been a while since I worked on straight needles.  Funny, for most of my life, straights were the only thing I had.  If I had to work on a circular needle I would, but those bands..!  It was a constant struggle.  That wasn't so many years ago.  Then they started making the really flexible bands that didn't loop up and hit you in the face and I was hooked.  I use them for everything, alone or two at once.  Pompa is a small project (not a fast one), and perfect for straight needles. I chose a set of Harmonys, and I am really enjoying them.  

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Pompa (another new one from Anne Hanson) is one of those patterns that I had to make the minute I saw it.  I love the angles.   It looked like a knit that I could memorize.  Caution here..not so.  Anne threw in a little surprise in the form of some texture that takes place in all those triangular spaces.  Even though I know that they are there, and can read it when I see it, I can NOT memorize this pattern.  I look at the chart before I begin each row.  Not even the reverse rows, although you can read them easily if you watch your knitting.  With the TV on, I average a couple repeats a night.  That translates into about 4".  This is a fun knit.  It definitely holds my interest.  

This is my second project with Ball and Skein's Elise.  I wanted to knit with it before it went onto the website.  It is beautiful stuff and I am loving it, so that should be in a week or so.


sweet Ishbel

DSCI0074 Ishbel has been one of the most enjoyable and relaxing knits I've done in a while, perfect as a summer project.  I cast on for her at a guild meeting the last of June and blocked her the last week of July.  With a stockinette beginning, it was a snap to make quick progress, even in a busy meeting.

At first glance she reminded me of another favorite, the Wool Peddler's Shawl.  If Ishbel is from the same family, she's the up town sister. She's a little bit fancy, dressed up, ready to go anywhere.  

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Ishbel by Ysolda Teague

Yarn: Ball and Skein Elise, 1 1/2 skeins
Colorway: Faerie
Needles: Knitpicks Harmony Wood (my favorites) #6US
Size: large with modifications / finished size 36" x 78"
Ravelry Link: Ishbel

Modifications:

Section "D" repeated one additional time for a total of 32 rows.  I wanted the last lace pattern to have a little more weight visually.  The additional repeat made it less of a border and more of a statement.  

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