Thursday, January 3, 2013

Knitting up VK Live 2012: Sound of Waves

Happy Fuzzy Yarn "Purple Kale"

Well-made yarns cry out to be something, even if we don't always figure it out right away. That's why we pet yarns, and fondle them, and contemplate them...we need to take their full measure, and help them become what their destiny demands of them. Even if it's just a potholder. Or a hat. Or...

I seized this skein of Happy Fuzzy Yarn merino/tencel at Vogue Knitting Live in 2012. Not fuzzy at all! Silky. Soft. Luscious. How could I resist a colorway called Purple Kale? That's right. Just look at it!!

So...what to do with 400 yards of silky soft fingering weight yarn? Why, lace scarf, of course! One of my ongoing fancies is to create a whole armload of lightweight, lacy, chiefly decorative scarves in a vast array of colors and fibers. But which lace scarf pattern would do this elegant yarn justice...?

Kieran Foley to the rescue. His lace patterns make me crazy. I want to make all of them. His Sound of Waves wrap caught my eye a while ago on Ravelry, and seemed a perfect fit for what I wanted.

I bollocksed the pattern a bit -- I cast on an extra repeat, and ended up with a ridiculously long and quite narrow scarf. It took a looooooooooooooooong time to knit each row, and for a simple pattern it was surprisingly tricky to not screw up -- and on the rare occasions I dropped a stitch (as when knitting whilst riding in a car) OW it hurt a lot. Then I added insult to injury by blocking the finished product in my usual bizarre way: stretching out the wet thing over the shower rod. (I can't lay wet knitting projects out flat to block, I have a Manhattan apartment, and I have a cat.)

Despite all that, I likey! And I'll make another, in some other luscious lacey yarn. This time I'll make it shorter and wider, as Mr. Foley intended.

Sound of Waves scarf

Shrimp Chowder for Dinner

Gosh, no recipes blogged in months...what have I been doing with myself? I hardly know any more! Fortunately I did take photos, occasionally, so I have at least some record of what we ate from late summer through early winter. I used to keep an informal record of home-cooked dinners using a desk calendar, but kept forgetting to add entries; considering the main purpose was to keep me enlightened as to just when I made that soup and yes, it was still safe to eat, being so forgetful was not helpful. So I abandoned the calendar instead of making, you know, greater efforts. Much easier.

I came across this Shrimp Chowder photo from September, and realized that while I remembered the soup was spicy and delicious, I had no recollection of the recipe! I can piece together the basics...chopped onion, probably some chopped pepper, chopped fresh tomato, fresh corn, and lots of well-seared bits of fresh shrimp. All topped with diced avocado. Details? Um. I think I see fresh thyme leaves. Don't remember there being zucchini, but that would've been OK. Maybe some ancho chili powder? Coriander? Turmeric?

There's no help for it. I'll just have to make it again and see where my palate leads me.

Maxillaria uncata

I have a deep love for miniature orchids, going back to my very first orchid explorations. Something about a complete organism being so small, so lovely, is absolutely irresistible. My first Maxillaria uncata was a tiny plant, a division of a friend's vigorous specimen. It bloomed several times before I managed to kill it. I got another, kinda small, and killed that too.

After over 20 years, I finally got another one! A huge mounted beast from Tom Nasser, sure to survive even my wonky conditions. I dealt with the issue of it being mounted by sticking the base in a decorative glass bowl on a hanging chain, and then hanging the whole business fairly close to the end of my tube lights.

I water it by half-filling the bowl; the tree-fern slab is soon saturated, and the moss around the root mass wicks moisture to the lowest growths which then drip daintily onto the sleeping terrestrials in a tray below. Not a great ecosystem, but it seems to work. Eventually those lowest growths rotted a few leaves, but the upper growths put out so many it hardly mattered. Being close to the lights, the plant stays warm, even in winter when the windows are open a bit or the steam heat fails to keep up with the changing seasons.

The adorable stripy flowers are pretty large, by my estimation.

Now if only Mystery Maxillaria (from a GNYOS raffle) would bloom...I would be 3 for 3 for blooming this genus in just one year!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Knitting up Rhinebeck 2012: Dancing Leaf Farm Boogie Woogie

Dancing Leaf yarn Boogie Woogie

They say you shouldn't shop for groceries when you're hungry, and they're right. I've done it, and I nearly always regret it. I end up with too much stuff, or weird stuff, or just the wrong stuff.

At least yarn doesn't have an expiration date, except for how our tastes might change! I really do try to shop for yarn with at least a vague idea of what I might make, but now and then optimism triumphs over organization.

In the case of this wonderful fat squishy bouncy happy yarn from Dancing Leaf Farm, I was actively looking for a big fat wool that I intended to use for an oversized-lace shawl pattern. It wasn't until I got these 2 skeins home, and examined the pattern, that I realized the colors would obscure the lace design. Too many, too short intervals. Oh well!

Fortunately I had a Many Hats Project underway, and the yarn made an absolutely gorgeous hat. I pretty much improvised the pattern, with no regrets. I sent it off with a friend who lives in Vermont.

One skein remains. I think another hat will come of it. Different pattern. This one for me!

Boogie Woogie Hat

Knitting Up Rhinebeck 2012

Rhinebeck 2012 Swag

I missed the 2011 Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival for the saddest possible reason: the death of my good friend with whom I traveled there. Her funeral was the weekend just before the 2011 Festival. Our relationship hardly centered on knitting: we had known each other for over 20 years and she only recently had become a crazed knitter accumulating stash. We went to many, many craft fairs together over the years, took several vacations, suffered losses, celebrated triumphs. Her death from cancer was a cruel, prolonged forgone conclusion nearly 8 years in the making.

But, as they say, life does go on, though I miss my friend a lot. New friends come along. And one such new friend, who is also a total Fiber Fiend AND a Fabric Fiend, insisted we visit Rhinebeck in 2012. And so we did.

And I shopped like mad, although I swore beforehand that I would be frugal and sensible. I returned to the booths of some extremely favorite vendors from the past. I discovered wonderful new vendors I had never seen or shopped before. I also ate a lamb hot dog that was absolutely incredibly delicious.

I really like the yarns I bought this year. Though OOOOH LOTS OF COLORS still caught my eye first and foremost, I was a tiny bit more discreet with some purchases and went for gorgeous saturated solid colors too. I bought a lot of purple and blue as usual, but also some warmer colors, including some out-and-out reds. Partly I realized my stash was getting a wee bit overwhelmed by one end of the spectrum, and I really don't dislike reds and golds -- I just wasn't inspired, for some reason. Some recent madelinetosh yarn purchases might have cured me -- gorgeous rich shades of red and various siennas -- and Rhinebeck helped lock it in. (Also didn't hurt that I've been keeping my hair very dark-nearly-black red, and a fellow selling silk scarves at Lincoln Center Crafts opined that gold and amber tones are flattering to pale, older skin. Hm!)

Although I'm only now getting around to posting the whole stash picture, I've done pretty well making inroads to this year's purchases. I've made a hat, and I'm halfway through a smallish shawl. Also, I've done a lot of anticipatory winding. Hooray!