Monday, September 2, 2013

Labors of Love


Labor Day weekend marks the official end of summer.  Neighborhood pools close their gates for the year on Monday night, and, in many places in the US, the first day of school is the next day.  Since my teaching semester started on August 5, however, it's difficult for me to kick back for a final hurrah, as my mind is already focused on work and the coming fall season.  I have stacks of papers to grade and have long since packed away my bathing suit.  

When I browse Facebook on or around Labor Day, I see images of beaming people swimming or enjoying boating or getaways to the mountains.  My husband and I did toy with the idea of going somewhere, but with football season and school in  full force, a long weekend is time to do laundry, stock up on food for school lunches, and to do some household repairs.  (I even attempted to fix a leaky bathroom faucet on Saturday.  Time--and my kitchen ceiling--will tell if I was successful.)  We also had a football game to attend on Friday night, and after sitting in steamy weather for three hours on metal bleachers next to a raucous group of middle-schoolers, somehow the thought of jumping in the car with two teenagers for a three-and-a-half-hour trip to the beach lost its appeal.

At the end of August, too, there are hints that summer is weary and a change is in the air:  flowers and vegetables go to seed and their stalks look leggy and barren (save for a few droopy yellow leaves), hot temperatures make the grass wither, and pool water is tepid or sometimes bathtub warm and  provides little relief from the heat.  My mindset mirrors the climate.  I am ready to move on.  

Part of moving into fall, of course, is nesting for the coming season.  So this weekend I spun some wool, canned some jam, knit some of a sweater for a niece's baby that is due in December, and seriously began to plan for some Christmas knitting.  I also worked a little bit on the nightmare sweater that's been the star of several of my blog posts--I've decided to limit myself to working two or three rows of this garment each morning, when I'm focused and fired up from coffee--and completed several inches of my Prairie Shawl.


This is llama fiber I purchased at a local farm last spring.  It is wonderfully soft. 


I am a novice spinner and don't possess much technical information about this hobby.  But I do enjoy it.  Note:  That is not a funky pillow on the floor at my feet--it's my devoted Cocker Spaniel, Stella.   




Here, two strands have been plied together. 


The peaches I bought were pretty big and sort of pale. 


Canning is easier with a husband who was raised on a farm.  When he was a child, he and his family would spend an entire day, from early morning until eight or nine at night, preparing bushels of peaches for cooking and canning.  Hence, he shares none of my romantic notions about rural life. 

The peaches are uncooked here. 

Here they cook with a scary ten cups of sugar and some pectin, too.

The jars are sterilized in a big pot and then filled and returned to the pot for processing.

My final product is a bit runny, but still tastes rich and peachy--especially on vanilla ice cream.

In the midst of winter, I'm sure I'll look back on this past summer and wish I'd swum more at the pool, gone to the beach, or spent a few days sitting by a rocky creek in the mountains.  Or maybe not.  Right now, my summertime finances and energy are exhausted, and I'm ready to hunker down for some cozy knitting, spinning, and cooking.  I do, however, have a knitting retreat in the mountains to attend at the end of this month.  Maybe the mountain leaves will be turning by then, and by then summer will be just a dreamy memory.


I even found a couple of hours this weekend to work on an unfinished pair of pants that have been sitting in a bag for two years.  I'm not done yet, but hope to be before Christmas.  These would be great to wear in New York for Vogue Knitting Live.  Don't know if I'll be able to make it this coming January.  Sigh. . . .

The pants are made out of a mohair-wool blend.  I love this fabric and know that I would have to pay a fortune for a store-bought pair of pants with similar fiber content. 

I made some progress on my Eiffel Tower Pullover.

My Prairie Shawl is slowly growing. 

After a lunch out with family, Dennis and I were able to sneak out in the late Sunday afternoon on for some wine (dark ale for Dennis) and a cheese plate.  The brie on the left was made in North Carolina and was delicious, as were the other items on this plate. 






















1 comment:

  1. What a lovely "end of summer" post - full of promise and things to look forward to over the coming autumn weeks. Can't believe you spin along with everything else! What fun! It looks easy when one sees someone else doing it but my hunch is that an awful lot of skill is required to produce an even thread like yours. You are very talented! The peaches look wonderful - summer sunshine in every jarful! Do you use "Kilner jars"? My mother uses these a lot but I've never quite got to grips with them. E x

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