Sunday, April 29, 2012

3KCBWDAY7 Stretches of Time (wildcard)


A broad margin of leisure is as beautiful in a man's life as in a book. Haste makes waste, no less in life than in housekeeping. Keep the time, observe the hours of the universe, not of the cars.
Henry David Thoreau

Ah, if only my life reflected Thoreau’s words.  Only then, could I have the perfect crafting day.  As it is, my crafting is broken up into brief snippets of time, stolen in between work and family obligations.  I long for a day when my linen closet is filled with neatly folded, fresh smelling sheets and towels, my table is set with a pressed cloth and laden with healthy homemade food, my crafting supplies are organized and are not stuffed into nooks and crannies in my bedroom closet and garage, and the promise of a bright sunny day means uninterrupted spaces to pursue my knitting and other hobbies, such as gardening, cooking, reading, and sewing.  But such is not to be, at least not at present. 

My perfect day certainly wasn’t  possible yesterday, when I cooked a big breakfast, packed up a drink cooler, picnic supplies, and a cake and drove 30 miles to my son’s paint ball birthday party, ran home, and then cleaned up and changed clothes to go chaperone my high school’s prom, an event which was a 45-minute drive from home.
A perfect day for these boys, but not for crafting. 

My perfect crafting time wasn’t the day before, either, when I had a teacher workday, so had to attend meetings in the morning and grade piles of accumulated work in the afternoon, and I then returned home to find the pork chops I had in the fridge and had planned to cook were spoiled, and that the door to the freezer was left open, so the food in it was a sodden mess.  I also learned that when the sprayer handle falls off of the kitchen faucet spigot (when the water is running), a powerfully intense wet jet will shoot across the room and rapidly disperse gallons of water onto the CD player mounted under the opposite kitchen cabinet. 

That same evening, after some clean up and preparing of frozen pizza, while cooking a chocolate cake Cockaigne, with its requisite beating of egg whites, thickening of custard over double boiler, and two-times sifting of flour  I was also made aware of the fact that 25 mixing bowls and pots and an equal number of utensils are required.   (I also ascertained that undertaking to cook such a recipe on a Friday night is more than exhausting, although the cake did turn out well.)  Finally, to top off my evening, before going to bed, I noticed a handout (or should I say an ugly reminder) posted on the refrigerator  about a science project due to my younger son's teacher on Monday--not the upcoming Monday after the weekend, but the previous one--days past.  Somehow, this assignment had escaped both my attention.  I immediately confronted my son, who confessed ignoring the paper and said of his science teacher:  "She won't take late work." 

I need to stop.  I digress.  The scary thing is, I could write similar descriptions for nearly every day of life during the school year.  Instead, I'll address the positive.  If life were slower and there were 36 hours in each day, I might fill my hours in the following manner: 

Wake, have a leisurely breakfast, knit for a while, and then shop for plants in local nursery.   






Make a stop at bookstore, and spend hours browsing through knitting magazines and books.    Buy a coffee. 




Go to charming yarn shop and spend time slowly examining nearly every skein.  (Photos were taken at Rainy Day Creations in Pineville, NC.)





Return home, and still have hours remaining to sketch designs, spin, and knit.  Spend time in chair in backyard.  Actually finish a project. 



This  Louisa Harding capelet is almost complete. 


Take my dog for a walk, and spend a moment to enjoy the natural surroundings.   


Have time and energy remaining to prepare a meal for my family.  This repast would consist of food I love, and my husband and children would enthusiastically devour it.  My 14-year-old son would exclaim, "Um, the the delicate seasoning on these mussels is superb."



After this leisurely meal, actually finish a knitting project.  And then, watch some wonderful BBC costume drama, while knitting, spend some time reading a Victorian novel, and go to bed. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

3KCBWDAY6 Skill Set

I made this design using text from Lucinda Mathews article "Knitting By Numbers" in A+ Magazine . . . Living Mathematics.

For three-and-a-half years I’ve been knitting . . . every day.  But I still have a long way to go in developing my skill set, especially regarding my understanding of the mathematical foundation of this craft.  In the area of numbers, I seem to be a slow learner.  In fact, it is only recently that I fully absorbed the concept of gauge and how it changes depending upon the weight of the yarn and size of the needles.  Because of this sort of blindness to the facts and figures of knitting, for much of my limited time engaging in this craft, I have unseeingly followed charts or instructions, without grasping the concepts behind the actual construction of the pieces I knit.  At present, I’m working on a fairly complicated lace capelet designed by Louisa Harding, and, while I understand some of the basic principles of lace-making, I’m still awed and perplexed by how the designer calculated how the rows fit together to form beautiful lace.  I'm similarly flumoxed by how anyone could design a computer or calculate advanced physics (or any kind of physics, for that matter).

I keep plodding on, however, and, barring early senility, do aspire to one day have a complete understanding of how to do the math to create decreases and increases and textured knitted patterns.  I’ve set my sights on seven years from the time I first picked up needles to gain the skills I desire in this area.  While this time frame might seem to be a bit prolonged to some, as a full-time working mother, my quiet, extended time to truly spent concentrated time digesting information and practicing is a bit limited. 

While during my harried present way of life, I will probably merely contemplate rather than practice focusing on mathematical concepts, I will, however, attempt to get some skills under my belt in a more timely manner, including mastering:  intarsia, double, and Fair Isle knitting; and two-at-a-time and top-Down Socks (I learned toe up first and have stuck with this method.)  I also plan to learn how to properly block pieces.  (I'm not certain that washing them in Woolite and haphazardly placing them on a towel in front of my fireplace leads to the best results.)

Once all of my goals are achieved, and if I ever find myself as a bored master knitter and designer, retired from teaching, with my children having fled my stash-filled nest, I might take on gaining skills in the esoteric (and truly terrifying) knitting practice of cutting steeks.  Wendy Johnson presents a great tutorial with lots of helpful photos Knitty.  Brave individuals should check out this piece here.







Friday, April 27, 2012

3KCBWDAY5 The Ruin of the Lace

(an Heroi-Comical Poem in honor of Alexander Pope)




What messy tangle from sleepy knitting springs,
What ire and weariness rise from yarny things?
Say, what rash act could create such a sorry sight? 
What lack of foresight could create this fright? 
In tasks so complex foolish women engage,
With no heed to prudence, ending with mighty rage. 

Fair Elizabeth eyed the skeins so rich and soft,
Picked them off the shelf and held them aloft.
"This soft lace fiber by ethereal fairies spun,
So fine, so gossamer, to knit will be such fun,”
Said our poor naïve gentle belle so sweet,
As she stood at the register, her sale to complete.

On Friday eve, after a work week most chaotic,
Elizabeth picked up the yarns from climes exotic.
She wielded her sharp duo of weapons bright,
Used them to cast on, in the dim evening light.
A glass of wine, a gift of the gods, by her side,
Elizabeth carefully her two needles plied.


Naughty sprites piqued by Elizabeth’s beauty fair,
Perched o’er her shoulder on the easy chair,
And made the  thin fiber began to dance,
Slipping and sliding, a dire mischance.
But to her aid, a tender fairy, a guardian brave,
Caused the yarn ball to drop and the curtain to wave.

But our heroine ignored the gentle alarm,
Continued to knit, heedless of coming harm.
For the impish sprites would make come to pass,
Frantic frogging on the part of our gentle lass,
Who innocent plodded on in her cursed course,
A vision of a pair of lacy mitts, a potent urging force.


Five inches into the labor, the lace didn’t match,
No needed loop to marry a stitch in a perfect match,
No two to knit together, so intimate to grow
So perfectly partnered to maintain count of the row.
Elizabeth sighed and drank a swallow of wine,
Then intoned, “What will become of this project of mine?”

Once so confident, so smug, her aim so intent,
Our fine maiden had now a terrible sin to repent.
Such rashness, such conceit, such downright pride
Had been the cause of this humiliating ride.
She’d forgone a helpmate, and now must repine,
For she lacked a backing, a support, a life line. 


She tore and she cursed and from her goblet did drink,
Till Sol through the curtains into the darkness winked
With his bright rays of morning, so harsh and so bright,
Lighting on poor Elizabeth, an alarming sight,
Surrounded by squiggles of impossible string,
There was nothing, no solace her efforts could bring. 

Her guardian angel summoned her to her silent bed
Sending a morning-dream to hover o’er her head;
Lacy gloves to wear to an afternoon tea,
In a fine British manor filled her morning reverie.
And while our maid slumbered so deep and without care,
To her aid came a thousand bright inhabitants of Air!


These minute creatures, so airy, at such a pace,
Danced and maneuvered the delicate lace,
Whirling and diving, under and over, knit and purl,
To the eye, the fairies were mere light, a whirling swirl.
These fine fairy helpers the gloves did create. 
Two perfect mirrors, each a match for its mate.


The naughty sprites while this happens turn to flame,
And mount up to the skies; the fairies’ goodness ends their game.
Elizabeth wakes and stretches in the sun’s oblique ray,
Smiles and then remembers the night, and is stricken with dismay,
But her melancholy soon expires as she glances apace,
Sees the gift of the fairies atop her vanity, a fitting place.


“Thank you spirits of knitting, of needles, of yarn,
For saving me from unendurable harm;
From this low point onward, I will go forth,
Remembering lifelines and their inestimable worth,”
Elizabeth asserted, as she poured some sugar and coffee and cream,
Picked up her knitting bag and thought wistfully of her dream. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

3KCBWDAY4 All Things Woolly and Wonderful


On the day that I was born there was a snow storm, and when it subsided my mother went for a long walk.  It was January, and my family was living in New Jersey.  Perhaps it was this trek in the snow and my childhood home state that shaped my relationship with the climate I live in now and the type of knitter I am today. 



While not Maine or Canada, Jersey does have some cold winter days, so that typically, when I was a child, each year there were at least several days when it was safe to ice skate on a nearby pond.  Even if it meant feet that ached miserably when they thawed out after a day's skating, the lure of the activity was inescapable.  And, even though I am very sensitive to the cold, when bundled up properly, the northeastern winter weather does not bother me.  Rather, cold days, then and now, tend to invigorate me--as long as I am wearing layers of my favorite woolens.  In fact, when I was in college, I spent a weekend cross country skiing in upstate New York and I was the only member of my small group of friends who did not get painfully cold because I was wearing a zip-up sweater, hat, mittens, and leg warmers made of Icelandic wool.  I wasn't a knitter at the time, but had begged my mother for these expensive items for some time, until she finally bought them for me as a Christmas present.



Ironically, as a lover of all things woolly, I now live in North Carolina, where during some winters there are only a handful of days when wearing wool or alpaca makes sense.  In fact, many inhabitants of this state seem to forgo winter clothes entirely, and it is common to see people sporting flip flops and T-shirts on chilly December or January days. 



But, despite my southern locale, I can't say that the climate of the state where I reside has impacted my knitting much.  In fact, I have enough handmade woolen cowls, hats, sweaters, and shawls to outfit several soccer teams.  When the temperature is scorching in July and August, I sometimes find myself sweating under a blanket of a garment I am knitting, an item that is invariably made out of chunky alpaca or heavy worsted wool. I am simply a sucker for these fibers.



While our climate is relatively mild, we North Carolina residents
frequently have to deal with ice storms. 


It's not just the desire to wear warm clothes that inspires my purchases.  Some fiber, for me, is an avenue of escape.  As I work with wool, I imagine women of the past in Cotswold cottages, spinning by an open hearth, and then working up warm garments for their family.  I see a seaside cottage in some cold northern clime, the wind whistling outside, while the warmth of wool and tea on the hob stave off the chill.  I think about woolly sheep on some flowery meadow in England or Ireland, and how for centuries the natural cycle of fiber production has continued in this part of the world.  When I work with alpaca, I imagine the adorable creatures who produce this fiber and the long journey these animals (or their ancestors) took to farms in the United States.  While I'm not such a romantic that I consciously lose myself in these images while I knit, I do think that they linger in the back of my mind, inspiring me escape from my suburban schoolteacher life by knitting each day. 



Living in a geographical area famous for producing and milling cotton (industries which have since moved to other countries), one would think that I would be inspired to work with this fiber  instead of wool.   I do enjoy the feel and appearance of soft cotton yarns, yarns that would be lighter and cooler and would receive more wear in my part of the country.  Also, cotton yarns tend to come in spring colors, which reflect the bright colors of North Carolina's natural environment.  I have knitted a sea-foam blue-green lace vest, and the cotton is light and cool.  Perhaps I should work on something else airy and open using cotton or linen or bamboo.  Maybe someday . . .  But for now I've got a heathery wool tweed cape to complete, just perfect for walking on a snow-covered moor. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

3KCBWDAY3 Following My Bliss

I'm wearing a Debbie Bliss cape here.  Bliss
is in the background, to the left. 


“Indian Trail . . . what a lovely name.  I’d like to visit there.”  A lilting voice with a British accent speaks these words as the person it belongs to reads the name tag hanging from the lanyard around my neck.  I look up from my seat to see a bespectacled woman dressed in black standing over me.  I grasp that this person is Debbie Bliss, the instructor of the class in which I am about to take part at Vogue Knitting Live.  I have to laugh at her words, though, as Indian Trail, the town where I live outside of Charlotte, North Carolina, isn’t exactly a popular travel destination.    


Bliss’s positive comment immediately raised her in my estimation, even though I already was a huge fan of her yarns and designs.  Also, the fact that this knitting celebrity had such an approachable and upbeat style made for a comfortable, stress-free learning experience.  “It’s all about definition,” Bliss aptly said, at the onset of class, which focused on using cables to shape garments.  She then proceeded to have her daughter model samples of garments with flattering shaping, before the students did some hands on work, knitting cables.  Bliss also allowed participants to try on samples, patiently answered our questions, chatted with us individually, and circulated throughout the room offering her assistance.

I made this with Bliss's yarn for class
at Vogue Knitting Live.
I'm working on the capelet shown on the cover
of this booklet. 


This experience of meeting Bliss only added to my admiration of her products and patterns, both of which appeal to me in a myriad of ways.  As an avid reader and Anglophile, many of her romantic designs and the locales in which she shoots her models wearing them are right out of my fantasies drawn from literature and film of British county life.    Bliss’s gorgeous tweed yarns with their exquisite textures, in particular, and the garments made with them, evoke images of country house weekends (such as the shooting parties depicted in Downton Abbey).   While as a public school teacher, I don’t exactly have opportunities to take leisurely walks across heather-filled fields before having cocktails in the drawing room, I can imagine doing so when I look at Bliss’s yarns and garments.  In fact, a cabled vest made with Bliss’s Donegal Tweed in a rust color that evokes nature in the fall is one of the first garments I ever knit. 

Here I am at the Southeastern Animal Fiber
Arts Festival in 2010 wearing a vest made with
Bliss's Donegal Tweed. 


Equally enticing to my romantic nature is the Debbie Bliss Angel yarn, along with the wonderful patterns published to accompany it.  While the patterns in Bliss’s books and magazines using Angel are complex, they are not, like some mohair designs, too absurdly difficult for the moderately experienced knitter.  I made a beautiful oversized lace shawl from this yarn, when I had only been knitting for two years.  Bliss’s website includes copy that describes the yarn as “gossamer” and “sublime.”  I concur.  A shrug made with this fiber would be just the thing for a heroine in a Gothic romance to wear over her taffeta gown at a ball given in a manor house on a moonlit moor, a ball where she meets the brooding man of her dreams.  Aah. . .   Well, I can knit the shrug anyway.  Maybe I can wear it when I chaperone the prom for the high school where I teach.

Detail from shawl I made with Angel. 


Some of Bliss’s designs are less romantic, but are still aesthetically pleasing in their simplicity of form.  I purchased Debbie Bliss’s Essential Baby Knits and made a crossover baby sweater using Baby Cashmerino.  There are no frills and furbelows on this garment, but it is beautiful in its minimalism.  The Cashmerino yarn, too, is so consistently spun and has the perfect amount of give and softness. 


This Crossover Sweater uses Bliss yarn and one of her designs.


Ultimately, while I wasn’t able to uncover the personal details of Bliss’s life (through much Googling of “Debbie Bliss biography”), I am a great admirer of her products, which must—I idealistically suspect—reflect something if not of her character, at least of superb her artistic sensibility and vision.  Like my favorite British authors such as Jane Austen, Bliss creates a fantasy world for humble mortals such as me, one we can visit from time to time, basking in its beauty and replenishing our spirits, before we foray back into the grittiness of our harried modern lives.  Finally, as an English teacher I also have to add that I love the designer’s name.  When discussing any other individual would a blogger be able to use the ambiguous and symbolic phrase, “meeting Bliss”? 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

3KCBWDAY2 The Garden of Yarnly Delights

I woke in the early morning and crept outside to weed my garden bed.  Dew drops clung to the grass and the air was thick and moist.  I headed to my garden, where, much to my surprise, I saw that the fiber fairies had deposited brightly hued gifts for me.  I quickly ran inside to grab my camera, wondering if maybe my vision was some dawn dream, but when I returned outside I saw that the colorful yarn balls were real.



The yarns presented a kaleidoscope of colors and textures. 


 I set out to gather my bountiful harvest into a basket, stopping for a moment to stand on a chair to see if I could see any of the airy band who had deposited my gift.  




I caught a brief glimpse of some mischievous little sprites, not the good fairies who had left the glorious present, but, rather, some pesky creatures whose aim is to torment humans--stealing knitting needles, misplacing scissors, distracting knitters so these imps can push yarn off the needle and make us drop stitches.  I had to swat at one particularly troublesome one who was poised to grab the tail of a ball of yarn and unravel it.  Others wielded tiny daggers made with thorns to tear holes in the leaves of my magic yarn plants.  They vanished into vapor when I attempted to take their picture.   

I quickly gathered up the colorful balls of yarn and returned to the house.  Afraid the vision of the mercurial spirits would vanish from my memory as fast as these creatures had disappeared from my sight, I quickly drew a sketch of one of them from memory. He'd had ahold of a ball of purple yarn and, with a determined expression, was attempting to unwind it and wrest it loose from its nest in the cabbage leaves. 

I made some blueberry pancakes for my family and shared the tale of my morning over breakfast.  My two boys raised their eyebrows and the eleven-year-old one said, "Knitters are weird." 

I haven't seen any fairies or sprites since that day, but I've taken to leaving them thimbles full of honey and diminutive powdered sugar cookies.  Maybe their sweet tooth will draw them back, and the good-natured ones will leave more gifts to uncover in the early morning hours. 


Monday, April 23, 2012

3KCBWDAY1 Shades of Meaning

My leftover balls of yarn attest to my preference for vibrant colors.


“With color one obtains an energy that seems to stem from witchcraft.”


Henri Matisse


Last winter I dyed my hair a shocking red color, not because I was in love with that particular shade, but because I was in need of a spark to reignite my bored and tired self.  While I am a natural strawberry blond, by late December each year the lack of sunlight has wreaked havoc on my hair, turning it a dull brownish color.  In the same manner, finishing up the end of a semester as a high school teacher during the winter months is always accompanied by exhaustion and the need for revitalization of my spirits.  In the winter an infusion of bright bottled red is a surefire way to to add a punch of energy and warmth to my appearance and to my psyche. 

In a similar manner, I am very aware of the emotional impact of colors when I choose clothing, yarn for my knitting projects, or fabric and paint to decorate my home.   While I can appreciate the earthy organic appeal of brown, I never feel quite comfortable wearing this color or living surrounded by this woodsy tone.  While I do have a few brown pieces of clothing (and I often don these garments in the morning as I get ready for school), I habitually take them off again before I leave home, in favor of wearing fuchsias, greens, purples, or blues.  

I have knitted a brown vest with wonderful chunky multi-toned yarn, but before its completion the unfinished work sat in a bag for well over a year.  I literally dreaded looking at the brown yarn, especially in the middle of winter, choosing instead to work on brighter-colored garments whose hues instantly affected my mood in a positive manner.  Ultimately, I did make myself finish the vest, with just enough time left before the temperatures grew warmer to wear it once  before packing it away for a year.  The garment is cabled and attractive, but wearing it makes me feel dull and washed out. I do sometimes, however, choose black clothing, but typically because this color (or lack of color, I suppose) serves as a backdrop to highlight colorful makeup, hair, and sometimes a bright scarf or belt.  I have knitted a couple of black items, including a favorite lace sweater, but when these garments were works in progress, I often put them aside for a while, so that I could handle and look at something more colorful.


<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>    
Here is the vest.  I am
smiling in  this picture, but
feel dowdy  wearing earth
tones.



The fact is, color has an overwhelming impact on my consciousness.  Of course, I am not alone.  Writers and artists are well aware of the effect of color, hence the dystopian world of 1984 is depicted as gray and dusty and the movie world of Pleasantville is only imbued with color when its inhabitants break out of the constraints of their sanitized world.  Apparently, according to an article by Jeremy Laurance in The Independent, depressed people actually do tend to see things in shades of gray.  The author of the piece gives Claude Monet as an example.  Monet, renowned for his use of colors inspired by nature, used "sombre" tones to paint his dying wife.  And marketers have known for ages that color impacts a person's attitude and behavior--hence the prevalence of hunger-inducing red in restaurant dining rooms. 

I loved the colors of the yarn on this mannequin so much (which was on display
at Vogue Knitting Live in January of 2012), I had to take a picture. 

So maybe the rich hues of hues of yarn and fiber I gravitate towards and the dyes I have used from time to time to tint yarn provide effective coping mechanisms for me.  Bright colors help me to deal  with the dull cinder-block world of the public high school classroom, with its current mania for  testing, data, and accountability.  In this environment, one which pays lip service to individuality but praises uniformity, one where students and teachers are sometimes cut off from the world in all its rich variety, texture, and color, vivid tones, like my red hair coloring or the dazzling shades of a variegated yarn, provide a boost of cheerfulness and hope. 

The rainbow colored sweater made with
Noro yarn perks up my spirits (as do the
beautiful spring blossoms behind me.)



Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sublime Saturday Morning

I was a bit down last week, because I realized that my financial resources along with my limited physical stamina at this time of the school year would prevent me from making the four-and-a-half-hour drive to Stitches South in Atlanta this weekend.  However, I ended up discovering that sometimes a rewarding yarn fix can be found close to home.

This morning, in search of some yarn for a Ravelry knitalong of the Iris Schreier cabled shawl in the spring issue of Vogue Knitting,  I traveled to Cottage Yarn in Mint Hill. I also wanted to go to this local yarn shop  because several vendors would be displaying their knitting-related products in front of the store today. When I arrived there I found some interesting items to peruse.  I wished I could buy something from all of the sellers, as I always want to support fellow handcrafters, but had to stop myself from purchasing cute stitch markers with photographs on them from Knit Cubby, as I just made my own beaded markers last week.  (Knit Cubby's wares can be found at www.knitcubby.etsy.com.)  I was also tempted by the Gerschubie Fiber Arts table, with its display of beautiful hand-dyed roving and felted dryer balls.  I have a stash of fiber at home which would make more than enough yarn to knit a California king bedspread (if I would ever actually sit down and spin it), so I acted with self-restraint and moved on.  I couldn't resist, however, purchasing a pattern for a felted "Izzy Wellington" doll from Anita Wheeless of The Pattern Box.  This doll reminded me of the antique china dolls I admired in museums and books when I was a child.  Wheeless's pattern, however, is based on a popular wooden doll designed by Izannah Walker in the 1800s.  Information about Walker and her doll can be found at http://www.izannahwalkerchronicles.com. 

Roving from Gerschubie Fiber Arts by Brunner Studios. 
 Anita Wheeless of The Pattern Box holds the Izannah Doll.  Her
patterns for other toys are adorable, too, and some of these can be found in her book,
Storybook Dolls to Knit. 

When I returned home in the afternoon, with some silver Sublime yarn for the shawl and my doll pattern, I found a package from Kim, the hospice nurse in California with whom I was partnered in a Downton Abbey exchange organized by Subway Knits.  Kim had sent me a box of adorable treats, including a hand-knit tea cozy made from Noro yarn using a pattern from Churchmouse at Home.  This knitting exchange is the first one in which I have participated, and I have to say that the experience has been a great deal of fun.  I hope Kim likes the items that I sent her as much as I enjoyed receiving the thoughtful gifts from her. 

This tea cozy was made for me by my partner in a Downton Abbey exchange.  She also  sent me other goodies, including tea and two beautiful
skeins of Louisa Harding yarn. 
I need to get some beads and then I can cast on the shawl found in Vogue
Knitting.  For information about the Ravelry knitalong, click here. 

Finally, on Monday I will begin posting each day for a week as part of EskimimiMakes Blog Week.  Be sure to check out the blogs of other participants in this event.  You can "Google" the code I will post by each blog title to find posts from other participants. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Finishing Up: Spring Break Part II

Where a Knitting Project and Week Off are Completed

My one azalea bush is in full bloom. 

Thursday

Woke up itching and with congested nose, as a result of weed-wacking yesterday.  Am in antihistamine-induced haze all day.  Sit on couch and knit capelet and work on Noro cardigan.  Spend evening at home.

Friday

Have decided that I need to get on a horse again (used to ride before children), so that approaching a horse won’t be a foreign experience when the boys are in college and time is available for this hobby.  Drive to my sister-in-law’s house in the country where she wisely points me to the cutest, gentlest, My-Little-Poniest Icelandic horse.  My sister-in-law Karen and her husband started breeding Icelandics after Karen broke her back falling from a tall Appaloosa horse.  (Icelandics are low to the ground and calm-natured.)  Sina, the mare, is interested in eating and hanging out in the shade, so our approaches to the morning’s exercise are similar.   In evening have dinner with friend Lauren at Italian restaurant—after eating first dinner with family.  Am stuffed and contented as Lauren shares amusing anecdotes and bears present of antique teacup with plant inside. 
Photo of Sina from Windgait website. 

Gift from friend.


Saturday

Meet former principal for coffee.  Have much to catch up on, including shared trip to Italy  last May.  After three hours of coffee drinking, come crashing down and feel lightheaded and exhausted.  Do household chores and nearly finish seaming Noro cardigan.  Watch Larkrise to Candleford in the evening. 

Sunday

Finished cardigan.  The button band does
lie flat, just not in this picture. 

Amy Lane, author of The Baking Pocket Bible, gives this book
a favorable review on her blog:  CookingCakesandChildren.
Last day of break!  Wake up with urge to wring the last bit of leisure out of my holiday.  Teenaged son is sleeping and husband goes to church.  Take younger son for brunch to Café Monte (for escape from reality into French atmosphere) and then head over to Barnes and Noble (it’s special teacher discount week).  Buy a copy of Debbie Bliss's Knits to Give, as it includes several projects I intend to make, including a tea cozy and necktie.  (The cheerful colors and fresh graphic designs pop off the pages of this book.  It was difficult to resist buying it.)  Go to the Fresh Market and buy produce and sweets.  Go to Hancock Fabrics for buttons for cardigan and then return home to sew them on.  Cook dinner and get ready for week at work (and a return to healthier eating and spending habits). 

Goodies from The Fresh Market.  (Photo taken by my son James.)