Wednesday, October 31, 2007

My paper's done. Done and turned in. Hurrah.

Today I get to go to the store and buy the needle I need to continue with the Obsertdorf sweater. I also get to work in my garden, getting it ready for winter.

One more assignment for this class, yet to be assigned...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Rogue is that perfect blend of mindless knitting and stuff-to-do, at least at this stage. The cables at the side are just enough to wake me up, while the mindless stockinette in large expanses is just about where my mental state is right now.
Paper due today. Must. Finish.

Monday, October 29, 2007

There are some dishes that are summer foods (BLTs spring to mind, or barbecued spare ribs), and there are some dishes that are meant for autumn.
Apple Crisp
4 to 6 apples, of a tart variety such as Stayman Winesap or Northern Spy, even better if they come off your own tree, although my tree gave me just enough for one time of making it, so if I want more crisp I need to go buy some
1 stick butter
3/4 c brown sugar
1 c rolled oats, preferrably the Old Fashioned kind rather than minute oats which will make the crumble soggy
Wash, core, (don't peel) and slice the apples into a 9 x 9 pan, or something of the approximate size (a deep dish pie pan works).
Melt the butter and stir in the sugar and oats. Optionally you can add 1/2 c raisins and/or 1/2 c chopped walnuts. Sometimes I do, just to annoy my children.
Spread the crumble across the sliced apples. Bake at 350 F for approximately 45 minutes or until a fork slides into the apples easily. Don't wait until the crumble is blackening around the edges (which is not something I did this year, but have been known to do at least once in the past). Let cool. What "cool" is is up to you, but I recommend not burning your mouth on it as this detracts fom the overall effect. Serve as is or with vanilla ice cream. Mostly we go for "as is".

Saturday, October 27, 2007

There was color in the sunset again yesterday, although we couldn't really see it looking west. Instead, this was the view looking east and it lasted for well over half an hour. Not that we timed it or anything.

I'm making progress on the Rogue - I've finished the pouch pocket outside, ready to go back and work on the body some more. Oberstdorf, not so much - I still need a new needle for the sleeves. Maybe I'll get to the yarn store this week.

Friday, October 26, 2007

This is the view from the back door - facing west, cloudy sky; facing east is a bright sunrise and blue for a while, giving the trees a glow. The leaves looked almost fluorescent, though the camera doesn't really pick that up well.
This is why I shake my head over my neighbor's lack of enthusiasm about leaves on his grass. We have 100 yards of woods running the length of the neighborhood, west of the houses. The wind in the fall tends to blow from the west-southwest. It's just a hopeless cause, y'know?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

This is the same tree I posted a few weeks ago. At this point, it looks about as good as its going to get - soon the topmost leaves will start to fall and then it will start looking a bit ragged.
This is the same kind of tree my neighbor had in his yard - all dozen of them which he cut down last year. A sad loss to the view in my opinion, but this way the leaves don't shade his new swimming pool, interfere with the production of a lawn for his kids to dig ruts in with their miniATV, or litter his yard in the fall. He has his good points, but that isn't one of them.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Go watch this:

Last speech

or at least read the transcript.

I've ordered the DVD and plan to make my kids watch it, and anyone else whose hands I can shove it into.

Friday, October 19, 2007

I'm still spinning grey, but not very quickly. Knitting has kind of pushed it out of the way. Having finally noticed this, I'm trying to fit it back into the puzzle. Life will be easier when this class is over.
Why, just think of it. Since I'm taking an online class, I probably won't have a final. So I'll get finals week off. And then there's always a week between classes... I'll get two whole weeks to myself before the next class starts.
Do I sound a little crabby? Sorry.

Cassie started a topic and Abby kept it going - probably other people I've not yet noticed have had a say. Should everyone learn how to spin? Yes. Will everyone learn to spin? Probably not until something forces them to. I'm not foolish enough to believe that we can go on forever the way we are - when the Apocalypse comes, we're going to be up a creek and not only with no paddle, but without any way to make a paddle and perhaps without the concept that a paddle is possible.

Someone (one of the SOAR posters, but I forget whom - sorry) quoted the saying "when an elder dies, a library burns down", or something to that effect. It's not that the data is lost forever - what humans devised once, they can do again. The question is, how long will it take to get back to that point? If textiles have been being made for 20,000 years or thereabouts, we've had a ton of humans working directly on the problems of how to do it and what works best. How many people are working on handmade textile problems right now? Far fewer than the sum total of 20,000 years worth. If ALL of us were working on these problems, no problem. At the moment, we don't have enough people working on the problems to maintain the knowledge already gained, much less make widespead innovations.

There are people who make innovations now, don't get me wrong. And they go to places like fiber fests and SOAR and private classes, and guild sponsored classes, and they teach. Hopefully they teach people who go back to their homes and teach others, preserving the knowledge gained. But how much of this innovation is recreation of knowledge previously known and previously lost?

I took a lace knitting class with Margaret Stove some years ago (wonderful teacher!). Towards the end of the two day class, when we were in more chatty than teaching mode, she made a comment to the effect that "everyone always wanted her to keep teaching the same class, over and over" - she was ready to move on to something else. I think it's a symptom of the fact that we don't have enough teachers, enough people who truly understand how the techniques are done. People who don't have access to teachers have to learn the basics through experimentation. Wasting, so to speak, their creative and innovative talents on techniques that are, or were, already known to the whole of humankind, but which are lost at the local level.

One thing that the internet has proven, is that there are spinners almost everywhere. Many of them in isolation, many the only person they know in person who knows how to spin, or who cares to. The internet has been a boon in allowing them to connect, feel part of a group. I am fortunate enough to live in an area where we have a "huge" spinning guild - 120 people (out of 1.5 million in the greater suburban area). If you say that not everyone who spins belongs to the guild and assume only a quarter of them do, why we're up to almost 500 people! But come the apocalypse that lurks, how many of those presumed 500 will be around to help whoever's left?

Demographically, we fall into an age group that will be hit hard if civilization as we know it collapses. I certainly won't be around - better living through modern chemistry is the only thing that keeps me alive. In most places in the world and almost all parts of past time, I would be long since dead. (I was accused once of being morbid when I pointed this out, but I don't think so - simply grateful that I live in the time and place I do. At almost 50, I've long since passed the life expectancy of many times and places, aside from the illnesses that would almost certainly have put me on the wrong side of the 50% mortality rate for children under 2.)

So, yes, 'everyone' should be taught to spin. My post is certainly from a 'first world centric' position, but the fact of the matter is, cultures that have maintained their traditional arts of all kinds through lack of access to 'modern techniques' are abandoning them with the same glee that our ancestors did when new techniques removed the necessity for assuming that everyone would spin. Each person who knows how to spin or knit or weave is one more tiny candle lit against the dark.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Fall this year appear to be yoyoing temperatures - cool and crisp for a few days, then warm and rainy. This was sunset, looking east, on a warm-and-rainy.
We need the rain, but I could do without the 80 degree temps in the middle of October.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I am making progress on Oberstdorf - having worked up to the bottom of the yoke on the body, I've stopped to make sleeves. Progress is happening, although I'm going to need a #3 circ or else more dps - another 18 stitches of increase and I'm going to have stitches falling off the needles.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

It must be fall. The crockpot is full of bean soup and I have cornbread on my mind.
This is the second of two sweaters I've been promising people in this household. I finally got started with it - Rogue for K. She picked her color (goes with everything) and her style (yes I want the pocket in front) and off I go. The hem was mindless knitting, the cable up the side is just enough to keep me paying attention to what I'm doing, and it's a nice break from the extremely tight knit that is Oberstdorf.
For this I had to go down to a #6 to get gauge (vs. the recommended '8' on the ball band), but Oberstdorf is being done on a #3 so this feels huge when I switch back and forth.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Yes. I have a new toy.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Trees turning color like this is one of my favorite things about fall on the East Coast. This view is from my back window, but actually is directly back from my neighbor's house. The trees more directly behind me haven't started turning yet.
I was taught (perhaps as late as high school?) that color developed in leaves as the chlorophyll died back, allowing other colors to be seen.
I just finished "The Velocity of Honey", an interesting book of essays on science by Jay Ingram. Jay apparently likes to investigate questions that appeal to him and then write about them. How nice that so many of his questions appeal to me as well.
One essay in this book deals with the subject of fall color - particularly reds. Apparently research done in the '90s (long after my time) has determined that reds are not simply present in the leaves and only visible when the green is gone. instead, the reds (anthocyanins) are actively built by the leaves as the chorophyll is being dismantled and stored away in the roots. The reds are sunblock! The purpose of building these anthocyanins appears to be as protection against sunlight ruining the chlorophyll while it is being taken apart and very sensitive to excess light. Consequently, the reds appear first in leaves that are exposed to more light than others, such as on ends of branches protruding from the bulk of the tree on southerly exposures. That describes this tree's turned leaves exactly.
It also explains why there is little color in years when fall is wet (a phenomenon referred to in my family as "raining the leaves off the trees"). If it's cloudy over, no sun block is needed, just as my kids keep complaining to me when I run after them with sun block on grey days in the summer.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

A while back, J asked me for a new ski sweater. (ok, so "a while" = "two years ago"). His old sweater predates our marriage (our last anniversary was "17"). It might be time for a new one. I showed him pictures of ski sweaters, and he picked this one, and picked his colorway (celery green for the body, and shades of green and tan for the colorwork).
I got started knitting (determined I need the smaller needle recommended, as yes I am still a loose knitter).
I had measured his old sweater and compared it to the measurements provided in the pattern and the overall measurements were pretty much identical. I didn't notice that the distance from the bottom of the hem to the underarm was different until I got enough knitting done on the body (in the round, bottom up, raglan style) to start looking for where I needed to start the colorwork. It was at this point that that I realized that the pattern called for the armscye to be set 1.5 inches higher than on his favorite old sweater.
Somehow I didn't think this would be acceptable, and on inquiry I found that this was the case.
I set the knitting aside to decide where I needed to recalculate, but at this point it was now March. Setting it aside meant that I didn't get back to it until May. Do you think I'm going to knit with Heilo yarn in a sweater done in the round (i.e. all in one piece) in May? No, I didn't think so either.
It sat. Last winter, winter came late. We had 60 degree temps until the end of January. There never was any good skiing - he didn't go once. And I still needed to do some calculations. I didn't get around to it until May. Yeah, right.
So. It's been sitting for a while. The other day I sat down and did the calculations I needed to do - it won't be hard, I just change the rate of the decreases from every second row to every third row and I should wind up with the exact rate of decrease his old sweater has.
I have to figure out where I'm putting the zipper on the raglan, since he wants to have the zipper from the drop shoulder sweater, but I have to do sleeves now before I finish the colorwork, and the zipper comes after that.
For such a color junky as I am, I really haven't done much colorwork. This is turning out pretty well for a first project. The picture looks odd because, following advice from several people, I turned the sweater inside out when I got to the colorwork. So far it doesn't seem to be drawing up too much.
I'm just hoping that the fact that I feel impelled to finish this project is merely a byproduct of the guilt I feel over letting it languish, and not an indicator (such as a wooley worm would be) that we are in for a hard cold winter.

Friday, October 05, 2007

And then we have the roving in the second box. You will notice that it completely fills the box. Beautiful stuff.
Ok, the box on top is the box the wool came in; the box on the bottom is the box the wool went into, in a somewhat less compressed fashion. (The cat is still the Tiger cat, still fascinated by the smells).

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The same day that the babies came, this long awaited box arrived from Wooly Knob. This started as a Corriedale fleece bought from Whitefish Bay Farm, which was shipped by them to Wooly Knob for processing and then, finally, to me. Wooly Knob started with a 5.5 fleece (Corriedale and fine = lots of grease - not as bad as merino, but pretty bad - this package weighed about 3 pounds.)
I was almost afraid to open it - it might go bang and explode out.
It must have smelled good - the Tiger cat was all over it.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

My babies arrived from Cathy yesterday - I whisked them into the nursery pot to get them settled in from their trip. Depending on how suddenly winter descends upon us (any time from now through February), they may get moved into the nursery bed, or they may spend the winter in the nursery pot in a sheltered area. I'm so happy they're here!