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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Shark

If there is one thing I know, it's that I've got it pretty good. That being said, everything is relative. (Or caused by one's relatives.) I feel the need to take a break from almost everything right now. Knitting isn't doing it for me, and there have been some goings-on over at Ravelry that I have found to be downright upsetting. ("Stay away from the non-knitting threads, stay away from the non-knitting threads," I remind myself. "People aren't always 'excellent to one another.'" Hell, I'm not even involved in any of it and I'm bothered.) A spate of family house guests means things can get complicated, especially when, in the past, things have been complicated. Trips down memory lane sometimes have sharp drop-offs on the side of the road, and one must proceed with caution. Reunions with old friends are full of nostalgia, joy, laughter, and longing and regret over time wasted and missed opportunities. Specifically, my recently deceased friend's absence from the reunion was much harder to deal with than I'd imagined it would be given that I hadn't seen him in 15 years. There was something missing that night that couldn't be found, fixed, or replaced with anything or anyone else. I'm pretty good with the mortality thing when it comes to aging relatives, and I have a number of them who, thankfully, have been around a long time. That also means, however, that the next several years will be spattered with funerals and all of the things that go with them. I feel pretty well prepped for that, but I'm not as adept at dealing with "premature" departures. And, really, who is? Daily walks to the beach with Bonnie Raitt on the iPod are helping, and I don't care if people think I'm nuts because I'm singing along. And, because I am prone to playing certain songs over and over, I try to keep moving...like a shark. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Make My Day

It's been quiet here, and I freely admit to some post-Summit and post-reunion letdown. (If you had told me that I would actually enjoy my 25th h.s. reunion, I wouldn't have believed it, but I really did.) I've been trying a few things to shake the cobwebs out of my head like playing my favorite songs really loud and singing along even louder (much to the neighbors' dismay, I'm guessing) and taking walks to the lake, but I'm still in a bit of a funk. But today, this helped. My skull rock made it onto Skull-a-Day.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lagniappe (A Little Extra)


The husband and I scheduled an extra day in Portland after the Summit to do some more sightseeing. We decided to rent a car and drive to Newport down on the coast. After fueling stops at Stumptown Coffee and Voodoo Doughnuts, we were off.

We visited both the Aquarium and OSU's Hatfield Research Center and then went over to the beach to get a little west coast sand between our toes.

I'm submitting this one to Skull-a-Day:
This one looks like a UFO:

Okay this one is sideways and I can't get it fixed (*shakes fist at Blogger picture upload*), but it's cool anyway, right?


I had no idea just how much I'd enjoy Portland (and the coast of Oregon). It is like finding a whole new passion. You lucky Ducks or lucky Beavers, however the case may be.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

All Good Things...

...must, as we know, come to an end. (Insert sad face here.)

After a refreshing day of outdoor activities, it was back to the Convention Center for my final class and the Sock Summit Luminary Panel.

On Sunday morning, I had a Spindle Spinning Basics class with Abby Franquemont and Denny McMillan. They advocate the use of a bottom whorl spindle, which was a new experience for me. I equated it to writing with my left hand instead of my right. (At one point I pulled out a top whorl spindle just to make sure I hadn't lost my spinning mojo; thankfully, I hadn't, though you wouldn't have been able to tell from what I produced in class.) Now that I know some of the advantages of bottom whorls, I will be looking at spindles differently.
After that, it was one more sweep through the market where the big finds were Stranded in Oz, some of the softest merino evah, and a sweet Queen Bee Creations tote. I had to leave because every aisle was another shoppertunity. Step away from the cashmere!

Finally, it was up to the ballroom for the Luminary Panel. There was so much intelligence and wit up there on the dais, but here are a few gems:

When discussing the creation of EZ's first book, Meg Swansen said that it was typed on a rented IBM Selectric Typewriter. "You know, you make a mistake at the bottom of the page…shit!”

After being posed the question of whether being a woman made it more difficult to be taken seriously in her business, Meg responded, "I don't know, I've never been a man." (Love her!)

Barbara G. Walker was asked how she has managed to pack everything in that she has (feminist writer of many books, painter, foremost curator of knitting stitches, etc.), and she proceed to describe a lifestyle that is clearly motived by focus and drive. She admitted to needing very little sleep. She gave a detailed description of her routine, including how she took advantage of the six hours a day she had while her kids were in school to work on her projects, and how she once realized that her tv had been broken for five years before she called to have it repaired. After she left us all agog with her incredible discipline, Steph summed it up: "Recap, don’t sleep, and ditch your tv, right?”

There were so many other wonderful moments: Anna Zilboorg talking of the days when she did craft fairs, and realized she had crossed over to the dark side when her favorite part became counting the money at the end of the day, and Judith MacKenzie McCuin admitting she had moved a few years ago and part of the move was 6,000 lbs of fiber! I could go on and on...

There were questions raised about knitting as it relates to race, economics, gender, and social interaction. It sparked an all-evening discussion with the husband (who came with me to the Panel) that actually started on the Max train. (Another knitter on the train added her thoughts, too, which was great.) I'm so fortunate to have a husband who supports my interest and is willing to participate in it. (I also think might have a bit of a crush on Lucy Neatby, who was charming as anything, even dressed as she is as a punked out Raggedy Ann Doll! To prove it, here is a badly Kinneared pic of her.)

What's next? Tina told me directly that there will be other events, just not next year. She and Steph have formed Knot Hysterical Productions for these future endeavors. There are rumors that the next one will be in Toronto, Steph's hometown. (That part is unconfirmed--I did not get from Tina, though others have said they heard it from her.) Wherever it is, I hope to be able to go. It will be hard to top this one, and it is unlikely that it can be repeated, especially given the age of some of the teachers involved, but there are people coming up who will be dynamic forces in the field, to be sure. Counting the days...

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Day Off: A Portland Travelogue

The husband and I took the day off from the Sock Summit to enjoy Portland. We were mighty busy as we:
  • went to Stumptown Coffee for some delectable brew. (Remember how Voodoo Donuts was playing Springsteen's Nebraska album? Stumptown was playing Born in the USA, and, while not my favorite album, clearly Portland has got my soundtrack down.)

  • we then headed down to the Saturday Market, a weekly art festival featuring all types of artists and craftspeople. I picked up a few very fun skirts made from reclaimed material. (I'm not buying more clothes, I'm recycling.)

  • After the festival, it was off to the zoo. (This has been the only disappointment so far, as there were very few animals. Or maybe they were just hiding from the crowds. If I were them, I might do the same.)

  • From the zoo, we headed up to the Japanese Garden which was lovely and peaceful.

  • We headed across the street to the Rose Garden, which was quite remarkable. The scents were intoxicating. (I took eleventybillion photos, most were blurry. WTF?!)
  • We had time to spare, so we caught the first part of a free concert featuring Devin Phillips and special guest Storm Large (of Rockstar: SuperNova fame).

    Wait, there is knitting!
  • After that, we headed down to the Ravelry meetup where we met up with our friend Jocele who we first met on the SeaSocks cruise. We also got to spend a bit more time with Blogless Carla, Ana, Leslie, Marisol, Linda, Stephen and his pup, Janie Sparkles.

  • As an added bonus, we had an early birthday dinner with Jocele, who shares her special day with Elizabeth Zimmerman. Happy birthday!

  • We rounded out the day with a late-night cappuccino in the club lounge at the hotel.

Not bad for a day off, eh?


Friday, August 07, 2009

August 7, 2009, Portland, OR

Today at Sock Summit, I helped to break the Guinness Book of World Records for knitters knitting in one place, met this legendary woman (Barbara G. Walker):

took a class with this lovely lady (Meg Swansen):

and put on a sock that Meg used to wear that was actually, really and truly knit by her mother, Elizabeth Zimmerman.

I think I need to put a cold compress on my head.

Knitting Ne'er Do Well, Summit Slacker

Here's a quickie 'cause it is late and I haven't finished my homework for my Meg Swansen class and I'm tired and my head is spinning and my sock knitting dial is at 11.

This morning I took the bus out to the Pendleton Woolen Mill Factory Store. One of the salespeople at a regular Pendleton store told me that they had yarn and felting supplies. I also knew that the had selvages which I definitely wanted to check out. The yarn was on cones and was more appropriate for weaving, and the felting fiber wasn't anything to write home about. The selvages were all black, so they weren't that exciting. What was thrilling, however, was this old animated display of the steps it takes to process Pendleton wool:

Most adorable. Also quite fantastic was the display of woven tapestry. There was a wide variety of themes and styles, but the photo-realistic ones fascinated me.

Here is a close-up:It was worth the trip to see the exhibit.

My afternoon was filled with reacquainting myself with knitting friends from past festivals, camps, workshops, trips, etc., and Priscilla Gibson Roberts's Ethnic Socks and Stockings lecture.

PGR has health issues, and we were told that this would be her last outing to teach, so it was extra-special to be there. (Her most recent teaching trip was back in 2001.) It was an interesting, varied, and eclectic afternoon with slides and samples of some of the most amazing sock knitting you can possibly imagine, plus tales of knitting ne'er do-wells and veritable yarn-y feuds.



Following the afternoon class, the Marketplace opened for a few hours. At some point I just stopped putting my wallet back in my bag and kept it at the ready. The stash has grown by a couple of spindles, some new project bags (all featuring skulls or skeletons!), and a few skeins of yummy yarn goodness. (SWAG photos will have to wait for now.)

The evening concluded with the Open Reception during which Stephanie and Tina shared many-a-tale of how no one believed that this little gathering of knitters would become the phenomenon it did. (Those girls have got to get some sleep because they were just the tiniest bit punch-drunk, but who can blame them.)


Gotta fly so that I can finish my homework lest I have to write "I am a Sock Summit Slacker" 25 times.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Get My Cowgirl On

The unabated fun continues here in Portland, and Sock Summit hasn't even begun yet.

After a quick stop at Powell's for a return, we walked to Chinatown to the Chinese Classical Garden. On the way, there was diversion into Pendleton's where a 25% off sale meant that a Sally Starr-like cowgirl shirt was coming home with me. (For those not from the Philly-area, Sally Starr was a peroxide blonde cowgirl who hosted a TV variety show.) This shirt has contrasting piping and big, colorful embroidered flowers, and I am unleashing the cowgirl who bucks within, y'all, so watch out.

The garden was beautiful and peaceful, reminiscent of the Dr. Sun-Yat Sen Garden in
Vancouver, BC.
There were so many incredible sites, not the least of which was this woman's feet.

Seriously, I am all for a pair of heels, and I have suffered mightily from leaving the house in the wrong pair, but these were out of control. Somewhere a barefoot drag queen weeps...


After the garden, we took a walking tour of Underground Portland, though that was largely metaphorical.


I took many, many pictures of above-ground architectural details.



After the tour, we stopped in at Voodoo Doughnut, Too, made all the more fantastic because they were playing Springsteen's brilliant but oft-neglected Nebraska album. The husband got three donuts, the cream-filled, the chocolate CocoPuff topped one, and, at my urging, the Maple Bacon Bar. I had one bite of each. Well, actually, it was two bites of the bacon one. (Dietary restrictions went right out the window when we got here yesterday. I even had my first drink of hard liqor in eight months. Vodka, how I missed you. I will be on permanent detox when we get back home.)

After Voodoo, we made a quick stop at the hotel for a little nosh in the Club Lounge. (What you need after donuts are hors d'Ĺ“uvres and red wine.) Earlier in the day we had read about a variety show featuring music and burlesque and hosted by a drag queen, so we asked the concierge what she knew about it. Her description of the venue was that it was a motorcycle bar. Hmmm....motorcycle bar and drag show...really. In actuality, it was kind of like Barbie's Dream Biker Bar with a cabaret room next door, and I'm guessing that the patrons were more likely to be Vespa drivers than hog owners.


One of the strangest things about it was here in a town with tons of great brews, there were several people drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon in cans. I really had to wonder.

So, some of you Chicagoans may know of Milly's Orchid Show, a live variety show hosted by Brigid Murphy, aka Milly, Brigid's cowgirl alter-ego. (Cowgirls are a theme tonight.) Milly holds some serious sway, and her show has included Poi Dog Pondering, appearances by Robert Klein, Sex and the City producer Micheal Patrick King, and many other notables. This show, Phoenix Variety Revue, was kinda like low budget Orchid Show. There was a charming vocal duo that performed 40s-era pop and jazz, a belly dancer, two burlesque performers/striptease artists (complete with spinning tassels and obvious evidence of being fans of Brazilian Waxing, a burlesque swing dance duo (more tassels!), and a hula hoop artist named Revolva. The whole thing was hosted by Ms. Zora Phoenix, who offered up both live vocals and the more traditional lip synced numbers. She opened the show by singing Brandy (You're a Fine Girl). You know the one..."The sailors say, Brandy, you're a fine girl, what a good wife you would be." (Now I dare you not to sing it all day. Come on, I dare you.) It was an interesting evening, to be sure, but it did make me nostalgic for both Milly's Orchid Show and a really good drag show.

Tomorrow...a trip to the Pendleton Woolen Mill Store and the Summit begins!!!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

PNW Tales

After an early morning and a very bumpy flight (at least the first 90 minutes of it), we arrived in Portland. We know we're in the PNW because they make your coffee like this:


I've already smashed through every dietary restriction I have, in part because our hotel is plying us with copious amounts of food and beverage. When I booked the room many, many months ago, I got what I thought was a great deal by prepaying. I knew breakfast was included, and free wi-fi sealed the deal. When we checked in, we found out that there were four different "meals" included--plus complimentary drinks, and we're not talking the cheap stuff, either. Our room looks like Coco Chanel came back from the great beyond to decorate it herself, and the towels are the biggest I've ever seen. I think I'll be moving in permanently.



We spent the day wandering about. We walked to Chinatown, the Pearl District, where I found a new favorite shop, Cargo, and around the Pioneer Square area where our hotel is located. We also hit Powell's, which is a site to behold, though I'm going to be going back to return some wildly overpriced used books I purchased. (I got back to the hotel and found out that the Powell's prices were significantly more than I could get the same books used on Amazon. One book was 7x more expensive at Powell's. It was a bit disappointing.)

Tomorrow will be devoted to more wandering. Thursday the great sock adventure begins.

PS I won't lie, no matter how much fun I'm having, I'm missing these two something awful.








Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Portland Bound

On Sunday I finished the Spring Forward socks I was knitting for the Sock Summit Sock Museum. I'm not certain what the colorway is, however. (It was a STR lightweight mill end). I think the shaded solid serves the pattern well, and I hope the designer, Linda Welch, likes them. It's a great pattern that I have now knit twice, though neither pair has been for me. (That is going to be rectified at some point because I'd really like my own pair.)
They are on their way to Portland, and in two weeks, I will be, too. (Must. Start. Homework.)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Cartoon Clubhouse 2 (Pitch's Revenge)

I promise this isn't about to become a blog where I post pics of my cats all of the time...just some of the time.

Inspired by Girlzilla, the husband presented me with one of his trademark Cartoon Clubhouse cappuccinos this morning:

Pitchzilla! I don't usually ascribe thought to my cats' expressions (at least not publicly), though I am fairly certain Pitch is thinking, "Does this latte make my butt look big?"

In case you are interested, here is another link about the Puppet Bike. It's a great little piece done for a show on WBEZ, the local public radio station.
The boys and I are about to head out to the balcony for some serious sock knitting.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Girlzilla and The Puppet Bike

I had my camera with me all day. Did I take any photos at the Midwest Fiber and Folk Fair? Nope. I forgot it was in my purse. It's kind of tricky anyway, since some of these types of events restrict photography, but most would-be photogs aren't up to any fiber-y espionage; they just want to spread the yarn-y goodness around.

The fair seemed smaller this year--about 1/3 smaller by my (non-scientific, could be completely wrong about this) estimate. Last year there were vendors lining the hallways (the event is in a community college classroom building), as well as in tents outside and in the gymnasium, but this year there were few hallway spots. I missed Miss Babs and Jennie the Potter, but I expect I'll see them both at Summit. Two of my favorites, Brooks Farm and Briar Rose, were there. I can't seem to resist either of them. I become weak in their presence, and usually end up double-dipping, going back for seconds (and sometimes thirds!) before I will myself to stop.

I have a couple of book recommendations for you. I've got an Audible.com subscription, and I finally finished listening to Son of a Witch, the follow-up to Wicked. It was good, but Wicked was such a great read, and I was not nearly as enamoured of the sequel. I might feel differently if I had read it as opposed to listening to it, and I started to think that maybe audiobooks were leaving me a little cold. Then I downloaded The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. It's a Swedish book that has been translated into English, and I am loving it. It's got some great hooks: a 40-year-old unsolved crime, corporate wrongdoing, vengeance, and a bit of sex, though some of it is unsavory, to say the least. (It's not gratuitous, however. It works in the context of the storyline.) The Swedish names take some getting used to (and some sound somewhat similar, which wouldn't be an issue if I saw them written out), but I am enjoying the narration. It's making my Sock Museum socks go more quickly.

I also started reading The Help. Just this week I got a Kindle and it was the first book I downloaded to it. I have stacks of actual paper books to read, and instead I am reading an electronic one, but there is a good reason. I thought it would be easier to "turn" pages with the press of the button when I was on the treadmill. With a paper book, I'd have to take it out of the rack each time I wanted to flip pages, which makes keeping a steady pace kind of tricky. And, hey, if it means I use the treadmill more, that's good, right? Anyhoo...I've only read chapter one, but I love it already. The characters are well-crafted, and feels like it is going somewhere important.

I had my camera with me tonight when the husband and I walked up to Clark Street for some sushi. The little girls next door have been busy little sidewalk artists again this summer. This one looks like Girlzilla about to decimate a village:

On the way home, one of our favorite neighborhood oddities, the Puppet Bike, was open for business. (The Wikipedia entry about it is very interesting. There is also a YouTube video here (actually, there are lots of them if you do a search) but keep in mind that it isn't as charming on video as it is in person.)
It is what it sounds like, a puppet stage mounted on a trike. The first time I saw it was downtown, but it has since take up residence here in Andersonville, and we love it. The "show" consists of Steiff handpuppets bopping around to recorded music.
It's often older, fun stuff from the 40s and 50s (Louis Prima and the like), and the "staging" is quite simple. Whenever the curtain is up, you can count on a crowd of 15-20 people, young and old, watching it. There is a tip box, and hilarity ensues when cash is deposited, especially if it's a bill bigger than a dollar. (The puppets can reach into the tip box from the back and sometimes a tug-of-war breaks out.)

Yes, our corner of the urban jungle is populated with stuffed tigers, alligators, and bunnies.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

More of the same, only different

Since last post, I've been inspired to do more gardening. We have two small plots directly in front of the house, one which has a yew that I despise and a sad, unshapely Japanese Red Maple. All of the bulbs I planted a few years back have been pilfered by squirrels, so it's really quite barren. The other plot had nothing. Getting rid of the yew and the maple will be more work than I'm personally up to, so for now, they are staying. On the other side, I added some hydrangeas at the side of the house, some of the same plants that went into the parkway garden (hosta, huechera, astilbe), and the specimen plant at the center of it all is a Contorted Filbert. It's a little sparse at the moment, and I think I need to add a few things with chartreuse leaves to spice it up before I call it done.

In knitting news, the Sock Summiteers are compiling a Sock Museum that will be on display at the Summit and will hopefully have a life beyond. They were taking suggestions for more patterns (in addition to the ones they had chosen), and I wrote in requesting that they include Spring Forward, written by Sock Camp friend, Linda Welch. When I didn't hear back, it slipped my mind. Turns out that they had some kind of glitch in their response system, and they were writing to me and thinking I was being unresponsive, and I wasn't getting their emails, so I thought they weren't interested. It's all straightened out, but now I have less time to complete them. It's not a hard pattern, but a false start delayed my progress. My first attempt resulted in some pooling that was decidedly not "museum quality", so I ripped and restarted with a different colorway. The second try is going much better, and I should have them completed by the weekend, figuring in other things I have scheduled over the next few days.
After a long, cold, wet spring, in late June, we launched into summer with a vengeance. Fortunately, we had just one week of high temps, and the last few weeks have been in the 70s to mid 80s. It has made for a magnificent season so far. I've been inspired to be out and about more, enjoying the balcony with the cats as much as possible, and taking in the neighborhood offerings more frequently.
(That's Pitch enjoying the balcony. He never really looks like he's enjoying anything (he has a stern countenance), but--trust me--he is having a great time.)
Here are a few shots from the small-but-lovely farmers' market which is a new addition to our little bit of Chicago.


ETA: Sorry about the weird paragraph spacing. I seem to have chronic spacing issues here on Blogger. Ugh.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Rundown

It's been a fun-filled week, and it's only Thursday.

I finished the Green Gable. She is washed, blocked and ready for action. I started and am about 70% finished with a fourth Chickami. I used some variegated Elann Sonata Print from Ye Olde Stashe that had been partially knit and frogged. It's doing much better as a Chickami than it was in its previous incarnation. I've started Samro's A Little Something. I'm not far along at all, however, because this week has been jam-packed with other activities.

I am Tour de Fleece-ing. I'm not on a team or anything, but I have committed to spinning every day, even if I don't get home until 11:40 and only have 20 minutes. That was last night after seeing a show at The Goodman Theater, and the Journey Wheel and I were not getting along at all. I just could not get the tension adjusted properly. Things were better today. I'm currently spinning some Romeldale with silk noil and tussah silk mixed in. It may actually turn into real yarn that I can use.

Tuesday and Wednesday were largely taken up by the joint gardening project my next-door neighbor, Diane, and I took on. There is a 10' swath of parkway that runs between the street and the sidewalks in front of our houses, and it was in sad, sad shape. She had straggly grass on her part, and I had nothin' but dirt on mine. (I had a landscaper put in vinca a few years ago and it all died. All of it. Since then, nothing grew, not even weeds.) We have a few challenges that make it tough to grow things. It is mostly shady (big trees and shadows from the buildings block a lot of the sun, and big trees have big roots), and our neighborhood is chock full of dogs that just gotta go. Still, we were determined. After studying the sun's movement throughout the day and having a landscaper turn and amened the soil, Diane and I went to work. We purchased a variety of plants that featured interesting leaf shapes and colors, made two trips to a stone supplier for limestone and granite rocks, stopped at Home Depot, Lowe's, and a local garden center more times than I can remember, and we got dirty. We went for an informal, woodland vibe, and I think we did pretty well.
Many of the plants will eventually have blooms or the leaves will change colors with the seasons, so we're excited to see how it goes. Hard to believe, but there is a half-ton (seriously...1000 pounds) of stone in there that we hand-picked, loaded onto wagons, pulled to the scale, loaded into her car, unloaded from the car, and placed and replaced in the garden. And now we are tired. And sore. And happy that we did it.
Ooooh, and look at the "skull" rock that I found. I'm sending this pic to Skull-a-Day.

The husband and I also got a surprise invite to a Cubs game this week. We're not big sports fans (that's an understatement), but it was great people watching which made for a fun evening.





Saturday, July 04, 2009

Wherein I Ask for Bad Picture Forgiveness

I thought I'd post while I'm sitting here waiting for my Starbucks delivery. (What?! Your Starbucks doesn't offer delivery? Mine doesn't either, actually, but the husband will be bringing my Venti Decaf Nonfat Extra Dry Cappuccino with Three Splendas shortly, I expect.)


In the fine tradition of poorly lit, badly focused mirror pics, I present Chickami #1 and Chickami #3. (You've already seen Chickami #2, the Chococami.)



I love this pattern because of its wearability. (It's a vest! It's a camisole! It's a dessert topping! The Chickam-o-matic!) The rows and rows of stockinette can drive one to distraction (especially when you have to knit entire sections over again), but the end product is worth it.

As mentioned in a previous post, there were a few stitches making me cranky.

They just were off, and no amount of fiddling was helping, so I ran lifelines with the intent of cutting out the offending section and grafting the halves together. It occurred to me that the grafted row might end up bugging me, too, and that's a lot of kitchenering for what could be a not-great result. I bit the bullet and ended up cutting and re knitting from the top lifeline down. Stitches look the same no matter what direction they're knit in, so it didn't matter that I was knitting down on a garment originally knit up. In the end, I think it was the better--though more time consuming--choice.

So, the inventory is:

#1 (Purple) Skinny strap, fitted version

#2 (Brown, aka Chococami) Wide strap, no shaping, pucker stitch from the Chocolate pattern on the cover of the current Verena

#3 (Sedona Red, aka CSI: Chickami (my last post explains the name)) Wide strap, no shaping, eyelet pattern from ChicKnits Sitcom Chic

I don't think I'm done yet, but I'm not sure what the variation will be for the next one. I've got loads and loads of Cotton Fleece, and I also have some Elann Sonata Print that would be nice for a variegated version. Plus, I am within an hour or so of finishing the Green Gable, and a few hours more to finish my Cardigan with Leaf Ties. (I come out of the gate fast, but I am not good in the home stretch.)

In other domestic news, this week I received an order of heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo.

Sorry about the pic being sideways. It is correctly oriented in my computer, but every time I upload it to Blogger, it rotates and I just can't fix it. Just tilt your head to the right and please forgive me. Aren't they pretty, though? Those Vaqueros look just like little cows! They are more expensive than grocery store beans, to be sure, but the varieties are so cool. Two days ago I made a crockpot of Flageolets with sauteed bacon, onion, green pepper, bay leaves, red pepper flakes and rosemary. YUM. Yesterday I did Yellow Eye Beans (they look just like Black-Eyed Peas, only gold) with sauteed bulk hot Italian Sausage from our local farmers' market, onions, bay leaves, red pepper, basil, thyme and parsley. Today I have Cranberry Beans in the crockpot with some onions, garlic, and bay leaves. When they are cooked to the right point, I intend to use them to make baked beans. I'm on a big legume kick right now. Earlier in the week I made red lentils with onion, garlic, rosemary, a cup or so of leftover Pinot Noir, and vegetable broth. I served them over brown rice. I loved them (the red wine and rosemary tasted so...French), but the husband didn't like the texture of the lentils. C'est dommage.

I'm a big fan of using the crockpot in summer. Even though many recipes have a distinctly fall/winter feel about them, the crockpot doesn't heat up the kitchen. (Of course, after sweltering last week, we are now in the low 70s, so heat in the kitchen isn't really an issue. I'm sure it will get hot again just and my neighbor and I are scheduling our joint gardening project in front of our two houses.)

Some of my weakling tomato plants are slowly coming around. About half bit the dust after transplanting. Worm castings from the worm bin would have helped, but my little flock (herd? gaggle? troupe? team?) of worms had just arrived, and they hadn't yet started producing. I filled in with some heirloom varieties from garden centers and the farmers' market, so I should still get some decent ones. I hope they don't all get ripe when I am in Portland for Sock Summit.