J Friends

Rain is gently pattering our roof, the smell of grass field burning lingers in the air. It’s a day suspended between the long warm summer and crisp autumn. After several days in the high nineties earlier this week today feels good and right. It’s autumn’s turn to shine.

But first, one lingering glance back at the brief campout the last week of August when the nights are already noticeably shorter,  the cold settling heavy in the early morning darkness.

It was a much needed break with a small creek nearby and swimming pond in the bowl of a tree farm. The owners, T & J are letting what were once intended to be Christmas trees grow as sustainable timber. T selectively harvests the trees as they grow with the long term goal of a healthy forest that will produce trees and income for generations, if future owners have the same attitude he has, “manage the forest to be viable for the next 400 years.”

They allow neighbors to ride their horses along the maintenance roads sectioning the different woodlots. Jeanne took me for a walk Saturday morning, she wanted to share a “secret” path they’d made through the trees. The entrance is quite small, they hope the horse people don’t discover these foot trails.wood-path.jpg

Quietly meandering along the shadowed trail, pressed in by trees, I experienced a deep sense of serenity. The silent tree guarded path transported us far from everyday life.

Turning a corner we saw a green banner flung across the trail ahead. berry-banner.jpg

Mmm, a blackberry draped path.wood-berries.jpg

Yesterday as clouds drifted in with the hint of rain scenting the air we turned our attention to gathering ripe tomatoes from the garden, and moving newly delivered firewood into the wood shed Ed built early this summer. First I had to take clippers to the blackberry brambles that had exploded from the ground to hold the tomatoes hostage. They will pop up everywhere the second your back is turned. A wall of brambles is threatening to overtake a back section of our home. At least blackberries give a delicious return for their invasion.

It was a perfect day for outdoor work, and for using the food dryer for all the ripe roma tomatoes. Some of the dried ones will go into a quart jar and covered with extra virgin, cold press olive oil, the rest will be stored in a cool dark place in ziplock bags.

The living room/kitchen remodel is basically finished except for a few finishing details. Pictures will be posted soon. On Tuesday a dear friend is coming over to help me put some wall paper boarder in the kitchen. Earlier this week Jane came over to give me something she made.

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A folding, carrying knitting basket! She cut and assembled the wood frame and sewed and quilted the fabric – all without a pattern. I feel so honored by this gift of her hands and time.
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A couple weeks ago I was surprised to find a package in the mail, the bookmy-lady-judge.jpg

Just what I needed! Especially last weekend when I suddenly was struck, totally out of the blue, by a severe sore throat and achy, slightly feverish body. This light, engaging book was savored with joy. Ah, a huge thanks to yet another J friend. 🙂

Numbers crunch

Ta Da! Finished, just in the nick of time.finished-smokin-socks.jpg

Yarn: Fearless Fibers 100% Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn
One 4-ounce skein, 550 yards Colorway: Midnight Passion

PatternKnitspot’s Smokin Socks This was a fun pattern to do. I loved the repeating sections. Aurora doesn’t like slouchy socks so I usually make the smallest size in a pattern but next time I’d go up one size since the socks are stretched a bit too much to show the pattern to its fullest.

Needles: #1/2.25mm 16″L Jenkins Circs for one sock, #1/2.25mm Brittany DPN for the other sock.
This was a test to see which I liked better for socks. Frankly I still don’t know. 🙂 They both have their merits. I’ve mostly used dpn so initially I was much quicker with them but once I got the hang of two circs on one sock the speed really picked up. I suspect if I used circs on socks they’d soon be my favorites. But still, there’s something about seeing four needles danging from something so small – it makes sock knitting look so impressive to the unknowing.

Time frame: Began mid July, finished Sept 3rd.
One round = 60 stitches; 6 rounds = 16-18 minutes; Approximate total stitches (didn’t count the heel or toe rows) 18,000.  I started keeping track of stitches and time as the hours ticked away and there was suddenly only a few days to get them done. With a ton of other items to take care of I needed to know how many hours was needed to set aside for the task.

Ten p.m. Monday night the last strand was woven into place. The socks were handwashed and hung to dry the next morning. At 2pm they still weren’t dry so I tossed them in the dryer with a towel. 20 minutes, still not dry. They hung to dry some more until the clock ticked past 4 and still not totally dry so back into the dryer for another 20 minutes. Hmm, barely damp – it’ll do. Wrap them in green paper and tucked them in a shoe box to await the opening of presents. These were so cushy soft once they’d been washed and dried – I wanted to wear them! Fearless Fibers is definitely nice wool! I’m thrilled that there is plenty enough for a scarf. I don’t wear scarves much but this yarn would feel great draped around my neck.

smokin-toe.jpg(This was the first time I’d done a short row heel, and yes, there’s a small gap.)

Aurora’s birthday was Tuesday. She loves wearing hand knit socks especially ones made with love. We feel blessed to have her nearby and to celebrate her birthday with her.

She requested cherry pie, the cherries were from our tree and put into jars. Faith loved it too.
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What else happened Monday? I signed 114 crochet hooks and 36 small circular needles. (Do you know how hard it is to write on a #1 2.25mm needle?) These are for a couple different orders – one huge order (100 items!) is just about packed and ready to ship to a store in the UK tomorrow. What a relief to Ed to have all those items marked off his long list!

Poor guy worked straight through his birthday which was on Saturday the 25th. He got an apple pie (the last of our Gravensteins) to soothe his spirits.apple-pie.jpg

Slow smokin’ socks

Finally! The header reflects this fiber related web blog. It’s not quite what I was aiming for, but for now it’s acceptable. The yarn pictured is merino/tencil, from Chameleon Colorworks, handspun on a Turkish spindle during March.

How long does it take you to knit a row of 60 stitches? Does it make any difference if the needles you’re using are #1 (2.25mm) or #5 (3.75mm)? I’ve been frantically knitting a pair of socks for a deadline. Stitches do not fly off my needles. No, they languish on the tips compelled only by my fingers to move along. Except when trying to do a p2t, then they slide off before the needles are engaged.

1080 stitches an hour on #1 needles is what I’ve been able to knit when concentrating. That takes care of one full repeat on the Knitspot Smokin Socks. I’m doing a total of eight repeats – for each sock – without including the heel and toe areas, add an extra hour or two for those. You’d think these socks would have been finished in July. Ha! They are a bit further along than this:
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The toe of the first one is nowseamed and another 12 rows have been finished on the remaining sock. They were worked almost simultaneously until the heel. One pair was worked on two 16″ circs, which I really started liking except the stitches don’t show up well on the rosewood needles in the evening, my primary knitting time. The other was worked on Brittany dpn, the old tried and true. The soft, beautifully colored yarn is from Fearless Fiber, I’ve been enjoying working with it and look forward to making something with the yellow Citrus yarn I got at the same time.

There’s been a lot happening around here which I’d like to put into future postings. The garden is calling for my attention at the moment.

Good Stuff

early-bird.jpg These days often find me outside with the early birds. Coffee savored along with birdsong, gearing up for another stressful day. The old kitchen table has migrated to the back yard during the make-over.

Sitting at the table is necessary for writing on needles.

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When the last needle has been buffed and written on and the last sip of coffee swallowed the garden calls, conspiring to keep me outside. It’s been sorely neglected. Please don’t ask to see the flower bed! For garden color this year I planted a heliotrope.
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Yesterday I canned two batches of green beans. Nothing beats pole beans for flavor. Long sleeves are needed if I don’t want itchy arms for the next several hours.pole-beans.jpgMaybe it was those long ago days when we daily picked pole beans for two pennies a pound. All morning and into the early afternoon we drug huge cotton sacks slowly along a row picking, picking. I was too short to reach the tops of the vines so shared the row with my mom or sister. At lunchtime we’d sit in the cool shade of the tall plants and eat sandwiches with freshly sliced cucumbers. I was so proud when I finally was able to fill my sack with 100lbs of beans. Hard tedious work, but stuff of memories. Besides, most kids in the area picked crops throughout the summer.

Finally, the first tomato of the season!
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Which Gravenstein would you pick to eat?two-apples.jpg
Good Choice!

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The house is coming along. All of the hard work is finished. Ed is with his old buddies on their annual men’s fishing trip this weekend. It’s a much needed break both physically and mentally. He’s been pushing himself so hard that sleep has been elusive.

I’m looking forward to large amounts of time for knitting, hairpin lace and spinning – all sadly neglected these past couple of weeks.

Slow Transformation

Bone tired, I am. Weary. Ed is exhausted, the brunt of the work falls on him.

Several asked for before pictures (click for larger pics):

Ed’s old corner. eds-old-corner.jpg

The kitchen as it was, in disarray.old-kitchen.jpg

Can you believe the kitchen floor?
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Saturday: Pulled up ancient orange carpet, secured new plywood sub-floor, painted living room walls.
Sunday: no meeting for us instead we laid 214 “boards” of new floor, took us almost ten hours to one by one carefully line up the edges. My poor knees were swollen by the end of the day and threatened to disown me if I knelt down one more time.

 

 

 

Monday: Ed <s>slaved</s> worked in the shop all day turning dozens of little pieces of wood for knitting needles, I packed and mailed over a dozen orders. We’ve been
wiring.jpgrecently inundated with orders. Evening – we ripped out old cabinets and Ed worked on rewiring.

Tuesday: Daytime – Ed made a slew of hairpin lace looms, I frantically tried to get a handle on paperwork, packed and mailed another dozen orders; Evening – hung sheetrock.
Wednesday: Ed churned out Tunisian hooks, I tackled more paperwork, and dazedly looked at the walls wondering how I could help. Ah, mud nails. Ed could tell you I’m a pathetic mudder. Oh but I improved greatly yesterday. He wouldn’t allow me to mud the paper strips across the joins. Ahem, I tried, miserably. It looks so easy. But then, I don’t want tons of microscopic gypsum particles invading the tiniest cranny when the stuff is sanded smooth so I gladly handed Ed the mudding spatula. He has the smooth hand and finesse for the job.sheetrock-walls.jpg

This is the same corner of the kitchen as in the picture above.

Today I signed some 3 dozen Tunisian hooks and mailed a few more packages, Ed assembled the Hairpin Lace Looms. Did I mention that they are mentioned in an article in the current edition of Vogue Knitting? Wahoo! Ed slathered on another layer of mud. We discussed the next steps needed. Unfortunately we need to drive 3 hours down to Roseburg on Saturday to attend the funeral for Ed’s great uncle. Since there will be relatives we’ve not seen in a long time, and Ed’s back can’t endure car rides of any length, we’ll probably stay the night and come back early Sunday. In a way it is good; this enforced break will give us some much needed rest.

Faith approves the new floor. It’s linoleum disguised as wood boards – easy maintenance!

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Change

Weaving has come to a halt, the project finished (finally!), the loom folded.

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Before setting it up again it will be bathed with a lemon juice & olive oil mixture. The fresh squeezed lemon juice will clean dirt and grease, the oil olive will nourish the wood.

Our pottery has come together from various places of honor to congregate for a few days on my dresser.pottery-collection.jpg

Drapes are in the washing machine, dryer and on the clothes line outside.

Today we tear up the old carpet and put the first coat of paint on the living room walls. Next will be the ripping out of old kitchen cabinets, laying down new flooring, installing the cabinets Ed built.

This is not the time to weave. Knitting? Spinning? Maybe bits.