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October 2008

September 2008

lovin' a rainy day

The weather in New England has been dismal.  Torrents of rain, measured in inches, gave me good reason to stay indoors and get some spinning related housekeeping done.  Sometimes I really need a rainy day.  There is something about them that makes me want to stay in my sweats and get stuff done around the house.  Not that I needed an excuse, duh.. I was hardly going to be outdoors doing yard work.  Getting up the stairs is plenty of exercise right now.  But, I'm not one for siting in front of the TV all day, and SOAR is coming up soon.  I needed to clean off bobbins in preparation.  The problem for me is which wheel, which bobbins.  All of my wheels are double treadle.  My dominant leg is (was) my right, the broken one, the one with the big boot.  No way to use it.  The best I can do is try to keep it out of my way.  Friday night I spun on the Schacht.  Not bad once I get it going.  Certainly my wheel of choice, but it is heavy and doesn't sit well on my luggage dolly.  Saturday, I spun on the Joy.  Again, once I get going, I go right along.  Its lighter.  It fits on the dolly.  Dave, of The Merlin Tree, came to my rescue with a left foot Hitch Hiker.  The HH is the lightest of all.  I've got options.  Just like the three bears.  What came off the bobbins was a pretty good haul.  I ended up with 200 yds of a gorgeous dark brown mystery wool that I plied and immediately used to cast on for Lisa Lloyd's Rhinebeck Sweater.


Another couple bobbins of a blend of Bess and some beautiful dyed mohair gave me 260 yds of a very rustic 2 ply DK.  Finally, still in the wash water, 398 yds. of another 2 ply, fingering wt. merino / silk / alpaca that I blended and carded last summer.  Not bad, and at least 6 assorted bobbins have been cleared. 


I leave you with this.  I figure if I can't get out to the garden, I'll put a bit of garden on the deck. 


freezing apples.. part 2


This time of year always finds me putting up apples for use during the coming year.  I've dried apples, sauced apples and frozen apples.  The later being the fastest and the most useful. While I don't mind peeling them by hand, when there are literally bushels sitting on the floor waiting for attention, this little gizmo, the Apple Peeler Slicer Corer, is a very handy thing to have.  P1050379You can find them easily for under $25.00.  There is a bit more waste than  peeling by hand.  However, it sure is easier to get help if you have the little gizmo screwed tightly to your table.  Guess it makes it look fun and easy.  I'll take that page from Tom Sawyer and forget about the extra bit of wasted apple.


Personally, my favorite peeler, by far, is this one from OXO.  I carry one in my pack (guess after yesterday, you'll believe me on that) whenever I travel and know I'll have some sort of housekeeping arrangement.  It is a very handy item.


Since C is home too these days, and he as a real appetite for apple pie; he was easily persuaded to operate the gizmo.  He'd never use the slow peeler.  NEVER.  In under a half hour, we had emptied the first bucket of apples and had them bagged and ready for the freezer. 


How to freeze apples:

I like to freeze the apples in pie sized portions.  Here's what you do.  For one 9-10" pie, put 6-7 cups of sliced apples in a freezer bag.  Add to this, 1/2 cup sugar and a good shake of cinnamon.  Adding the cinnamon will disguise the slight browning of the apples as they thaw.  You could add a bit of citric acid or lemon juice to prevent this.  Not all of the apples will be for pies.  Often, I'll grab a bag, heat it a bit and make apple sauce, as chunky as you choose in 5 minutes.  Some bags are filled with apples only.  I use them for pork dishes, adding to sauces, whatever.  It is important to gently squeeze as much of the air from the bags as you possibly can before sealing them.  Rolling them up like a jelly roll works great.  Seal and freeze immediately. They keep all year and beyond. 

One bucket down, four more to go.

what's in the bag..

Having two people in the house in walking 'casts' (boots), one on crutches because it is much faster, presents all kinds of previously unconsidered challenges.  The simple act of carrying mail or for that matter, anything, up two flights of stairs is daunting.  In typical fashion, I'm figuring out systems, cheats, to get us through.  Getting that big can of bird seed up a flight.. there's one that hasn't happened yet.  Each of us have a large Guatemalan crocheted bag that hangs from our shoulder, an extra large pocket to keep our hands free as we lurch around the house.  There are no graceful movements.  Thanks to Cheryl, I have a pair of boots that I realized only this morning, were the right height to balance off the orthopedic boot.  That makes it so much more comfortable and lessens the limp.  Nice boot(s), huh?   


DSC_1580 Last weekend, my friend Cindy, took me to the Harvest Fair at Coggeshall Farm.  It was a glorious day.  We sat and spindled outdoors on an immense green lawn overlooking salt marshes.  Also, it was a learning experience.  Everything is.  My folding chair doubled as a cane.  I carried my knitting bag on my shoulder. But oh, was it heavy.  I love my Ellington bags and carry them everywhere.   This one has pockets within pockets, too many to keep track of their contents without a written inventory.  Sunday afternoon (that accounts for the incredibly contrasty light) I dumped it out to see why it weighed what it did.  Can you believe that?




This only goes to reinforce my feelings about "sealing" a woman's bags upon her death.  A friend emptied her's one night as an illustration to me.  When she'd pulled out the third loaded pistol... well... that's when I knew. 

no walkin' with me, a three legged race

Tuesday was one of those days when I needed a laugh.  Big time.  Turns out that the fall I took on Sunday broke my foot.  I had been sort of laid up since then, between pain, not being able to put weight on it, and the constant icing. Then there was the logistical problem of having to get from point A to point B, 270 miles apart, so that C could have surgery on his foot today. It has been a bit overwhelming.  Getting it, my foot / leg finally into a boot was more of a relief than anything else until the full ramifications set in.  No driving.  No mobility.  Weeks of this AND C will be more of the same.  What are the odds that both of us would have broken feet at the same time?  (I mustn't think about that now, soon enough I won't forget it.)  But the boot allows me to move about and slowly, oh so slowly, get to things that need to be done before C gets home from the hospital later this morning.  Like laundry.. and thus the smile.  When I opened the dryer, out fell dollar bills, lots of them.  And as I pulled out more dry jeans and things, more bills spilled out.  I had to laugh.  Look at that pile.  Too bad they're all ones.  Finders keepers, right? 


There was a second bright spot.  This morning early, after a friend came by to take C to the hospital, I went online and saw this:  

PunchJudy645_72    PunchJudy661_72

It's Anne's new scarf pattern, Punch and Judy.  I love patterns that have that play of positive and negative space.  The yarn is Ball and Skein's new dk wt. merino / silk yarn, Sirena, in Bittersweet.  On size 6US needles, it will be a quick knit, perfect for gift giving or a new fall winter accessory.  It is available as a kit.  If you prefer it in the Northwoods colorway, please let me know.

fall colors, colors for fall


As our neighbor warned, the hill on the far side of the pond was logged, leaving only a fringe of mostly softwoods edging the pond and clearly marking the property line.  In the distance, I can see a hill that wasn't visible to me before.  The next week or so should tell me if it is primarily soft or hardwood by the colors it becomes.  To the visiting eye, nothing much changed around the bowl I live on, but to me there is a sparseness to the skyline, more air and of course, that hill.  I kind of like the hill. 

With the coming of fall came dyeing for the fall shows and of course, dyeing fall colorways.  This year, there are five new colors in the merino / silk lace wt.

bittersweet . riverstone . elderberry . turquoise . northwoods

Bittersweet z   Riverstone z   Elderberry z

Turquoise z   Northwoods z

Sirena, the new dk merino / silk blend in Northwoods and Bittersweet.

Northwoods sirena   Bittersweet sirena

And, in the Super Sock 416..  Fallen Leaves, Northwoods, and another not shown (it sold out and the new batch is still drying) Copper Pennies.

Fallen-leaves sock   Northwoods sock

It is fun coming up with new colors.  Inspiration is abundant, with nature bombarding your senses with all that seasonal color.  I read about the designers using Pantone, and I remember a time using the ColorAid pack.  Who needs that?  Look around, take a deep breathe of fall fragrance and pretty soon.... color!

freeze or frost.. the race is on

Thursday, despite the forecast for a widespread freeze, not frost, we managed to dodge that bullet.  Maybe it was all the preparation, read that as gathering all of the vegetables, fruits and flowers that you can in one day, that jinxed the frost.  Whatever, count me lucky.  I woke around 5 am and checked the thermometer.  Not that I could DO anything, but you know, I had to know.  It read 33.8F.  Okay.  Still, the temperature often drops, just about dawn.  Would it, or wouldn't it.. I went back to bed. When the coffee machine beeped its "coffee's ready" noise at 6:15, the temps were holding steady.  By now, the cats were yowling to go out and I had a cup of the strong, hot elixir of life in my hands so I grabbed my camera, wrapped a shawl around my bathrobe, stuck my feet into my rubber clogs, and walked out the door.  You can't do that in the city.  Well.. you'd get a reputation.


The mist was rolling across the pond.  It is a magical way to start the day.  Cold though, with my bare legs hanging out below my robe.  The grass looked wet.  It was.  But here and there, why I wonder, were small, really small, patches of frost.  Probably Mother Nature letting me know just how kind she had been. 



There's no way to ignore the inevitable.  This year, even the plants seem confused.  The clematis is in bloom with more buds coming along.  There was still a hummer at the feeder this morning when the sun finally showed.


Go by the calendar and it says September.  I put the string beans I'd picked into the freezer along with more bags of blackberries.  I took the elderberrys off the stems with a fork and froze a couple gallons of the liberated fruit.  I grilled squash.  I uncovered and put out the plants that had gone into hiding the night before.  I picked more apples.  I ate cooked apples for breakfast and had apples with chunks of cheddar cheese for my dinner.  It is a good year for apples.  I hear they are fattening.  Does it matter when you're running a race?  I'll win some and lose some and run like crazy until Mother Nature freezes it out. 

hmm... for those of you that asked if that was bear scat.. I was trying to ignore it, but, it looked like it to me and upon checking it out in my handy "scats and tracks of the northeast" book, I'd say, that it says, bear.  Okay then, I'll sing louder. 

walk with me.. hunt and gather


No mistaking it.. autumn is pushing her way in, compressing time and sapping my energy.  Days grow shorter as the work load grows larger and with it an increasing urgency.  The hunter / gatherers are hard at work.  I looked out my window at the elderberry bushes by the pond.  The birds, in increased numbers this year, had been hard on them already.  I wonder what that says about the coming winter.. will it be harder than usual?  If I were to have any elderberries this year, I'd best get out there in between the storms.  By tomorrow it might be too late. 


Already there were mighty few. 


It is hard.  I want the berries to be ripe, dark and full.  The birds aren't so picky and take them as they turn from red to purple.


I cut as many clusters as I could find ripe and headed to the blackberries.  These, I've kept up on.  Gallons are already in the freezer.  It had been four days between the last picking.  Last weekend's VT Sheep & Wool had kept me away.  Oh, the berries were sweet.


Cold from the rain and plumped full.  I ate handfuls as I assessed the job ahead.  It would have to wait, thunder was rumbling closer and I could see the lightening in the distance.  Oh no.. a thief has been here as well. 


I'd be back first thing in the morning to pick, singing my way across the field of trees, announcing myself in advance.