The Growing Season

Baby_melon_1 My gardening is starting pay off.  Well, the tomatoes have suffered from grasshopper badly, but I did spy one lonely little baby tomato yesterday evening.  But what has me really excited is the baby cantelopes that are making all over the vines!  They love the hot weather.  Can’t wait to cut these babies open.  Calabasa squash is producing well and there is lots of basil.

Pear_tree My big ambition this year is to harvest pears from my 30+ year old pear tree.  The previous owners who built the house planted the tree which at one time had 3 different pear grafts on it.  I can only distinguish 2 different types of pears now, but I suppose the other graft could still be there.  The tree is large and it is completly loaded with pears this year.  I want to make my grandma’s pear preserves, one of my favorites.  I have lived in this house for 6 years and I have yet to taste a Pear1 ripe pear.  Ever.  The squirrels get them every year – every last pear Pear2 on or about the very day they are all ripe.  They have a party and invite all their friends while we are at work and the clean the tree out.  Not this year.  We have begun a squirrel management program.  This does not involve squirrel relocation.  I don’t believe in foisting your problem wildlife onto unsuspecting habitats.  So far I have successfully eliminated one squirrel.  I think I have about 6 more to go to call it good.  If you have recipes to share, I am accepting them. 

Flame_acanthus There are other things growing in the yard, like this native flame acanthus. and this guy (Texas spiny lizard) has been all over Spiny the front yard this week.  I just hope he can continue to evade the resident roadrunner.

I am hoping to see blooms on the plumerias soon, but it’s my first ones and I have no idea when they bloom or if I am even doing it right.

And I’m knitting baby things and dreaming of toast with homemade bread and pear preserves.   Mmmmm.

His n Hers socks

Hisnhers These socks are for my son-in-law’s brother and his bride-to-be who are getting married in September – in Montana.  They were supposed to be knit as a Christmas gift, but that didn’t happen.  I hope they can still use them.  They are both Nancy Bush patterns.

Hers: Latvian Lace (Folk Socks) in strawberry merino/cashmere (just like the ones I made for my first sock pal), and
His: Gentleman’s Fancy Socks (Knitting Vintage Socks) in Stahlwolle Socka. 

I love Nancy Bush socks, don’t you?

Forgot about “J”

Somehow I managed to post "I" and "K" for the ABC-along and completely skipped "J".  I know I’m behind, but I shouldn’t be careless with the alphabet.

Jose "J" is for Jose.

The next door neighbors have some goats that they graze on our property regularly.  I don’t particularly like them and I don’t want them to destroy everything, which they can and will do if left unsupervised, but we have a lot of grasses and forbes we aren’t using, so the goats might as well have it.  The neighbors dad, Jose, drives the herd over and watches over them making sure they don’t eat my wysteria, pear tree or native plant bed.  He also prunes the trees and waters the garden because he doesn’t think I do it enough.  Jose used to do landscaping in California and Colorado and now can’t do that work because of an injury, but he is very helpful to us.   He brings us tomatoes out of his garden because mine never made.  He brings over eggs from their chickens and helps with all kinds of things like when we get the car stuck in the mud at the back of the property. 

Garden_june Jose and his wife, Bertha have 12 grandchildren so whenever Abby outgrows clothes or toys, we pack them up for Jose and Bertha to take back to Mexico.  They go down several times a year and sometimes they bring us back gifts and beer.  Jose likes the beer they make in Monterrey, Sol, which he brought back for us to try.  It’s alot like Corona.  They have a home in Monterrey so they can come and go in the U.S. as they please.  They have 3 children here and 2 in Mexico.  So while their youngest daughter is in college here, they live here most of the year.

Jose’s English is better than my Spanish, but sometimes we struggle to communicate, but he and Bertha are dear people and good neighbors. 

Chivas

A Canadian in Texas

Harlot3 What were they thinking?  I have no idea, but July 29th, during some of the most searing heat of the Texas summer, the Harlot, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee will be making an appearance in Austin, her only Texas stop in 2006.  I lost track of how many times I have whined to Stephanie about all the knitters down in Texas who would love to meet her.  Finally, the rumor seems to be true, she’s really, really coming.  Now I feel like a big fat groupie, but wha d’ya say we give her a big ol’ southern fried welcome while she’s here.  We’re gonna need quite a few knitters just to fan her while she holds court so she doesn’t get the vapors.  We’re also gonna need chocolate, and lots and lots of ice cubes.  Anyone know if Screech is available in Texas?

When:  July 29th, 10-1
Where: Hill Country Weavers
           1701 South Congress
           Austin, Texas

¡sí! ¡sí! CeCe!

Cece2
Yay!  Cece is done and I love it!  It caused me no small amount of grief – or exercise of expletives, but I persevered. I used Plymouth  Linen Isle (cotton, rayon, linen) and I only used 6 skeins – I bought 9.  This yarn is perfect for southern climates without having to go the all cotton route or the acrylic blend route.  And it’s soft.  I made the 38, though I might could have done the 36 since it’s fairly generous and stretchy, but it Green_button
might have been a bit snug for my vanity.  I dug through my granny’s button tin and found the perfect button.  The closeup doesn’t capture the color but it’s almost a perfect match. I have not yet fully mastered knitting lace, I need more practice, but I will keep at it.

Bonne Marie, I will never again question your math, especially since I am the one with a bona fide deficiency in that area.  It’s a great pattern and I may even have to make another.  I did learn that I need more quiet when I am working on lace and that is sometimes hard to come by in our household.

I love weekends

Meme Alert! ( Hit the back button now, Norma)

Please leave a one-word comment that you think best describes me — it
can only be one word long. Then copy and paste this into your blog so
that I may leave a word about you.  Via Margene


I took the day off to clean house because my mom and aunt came to visit.  Monday is a holiday, Juneteenth, and I have a gig with my friend Tami to install some laminate flooring – What, you didn’t know I moonlight?  Well, not normally, but I have helped her lay it so many times, that I am an old hand and we are getting pretty fast at it.

Tomorrow morning is the Austin Knitting Meetup and I’ll be popping in.  I had hoped to have CeCe finished in time to wear it or at least show it off.  Well, I lost track of how many times I have ripped it.  But I think if people will just leave me alone for an hour or two, I might be able to join the sleeves, again, without screwing up the pattern too much.  I even emailed Bonne Marie because I was frustrated and desparate and obviously pathetic.  She was very sweet and didn’t makee me feel like an idiot – I can do that all by myself.  Margene said that "knitting lace keeps me humble".  That’s an understatement for me.  I am retarded at knititng lace.  I am determined to finish this though and to eventually get to where it doesn’t  make me want to have a yarn bonfire.  I got the yarn in Houston and on sale and I was so excited to get it – Plymouth, Linen Isle, made of cotton, rayon and linen, and perfect for Texas Summers.  It’s a pretty soft sage and will go with a ton of my boring neutral clothes.  Wish me luck, pictues soon if I am not too ashamed to admit I ditched it after failing. 

By the way, did you know that if you’re in a hurry and just google "Margene", her blog is the first listing?  Awesome to have that much googlejuice devoted to your name. 

Oh yeah, and Tom got a summer job.  Woohoo!

“K” is for…

You know, I really tried to make the ABC-along posts about things other than knitting, because it just seemed so obvious a post.  Well, this is my one deviation.  I could have made it about my daughter Kandis, but I think she would have freaked out and I’ll just save that for her birthday.  So, though it lacks imagination, it is meaningful to me:

"K" is for Knitting

When I was 12, a friend lifted a ball of rug yarn from her grandma’s knitting basket and smuggled it to school to teach me to knit during gym class.  She didn’t, however, manage to grab the knitting needles, so I learned the fundamentals of knitting on 2 pencils and a misappropriated ball of rug yarn.  Something about the whole process captured my soul.

There was a little neighborhood shop, The Let’s Knit Shop close to our home and I would walk up there and sit around with all the older women and knit as they chatted, smoked and drank coffee, all the while knitting and shopping and planning the next project.  Mrs. Harter, the woman that owned the shop would help me if I got stuck.  She knited American style.  Mrs. Armbruster, her partner from Germany knitted Continental.  I think that’s why I knit a hybridized Continental style, they were both a heavy influence on the development of my skill.

Afghan I knit this afghan for my maternal grandmother.  I got it back when she died.  It was kept for many years in a plastic bag in the linen closet because my grandmother was very alergic to wool, but I didn’t know that.  Notice the 70′s colors?  Notice the big stitches?  It was knit holding 5 different yarn colors together on size 35 needles.  They were all the rage for the impatient knitter.  I think this was knit around 1970, I was 14.  So this afghan, the oldest thing I have that was knitted by me is 36 years old.

Aran When I moved to Austin in the 1980′s there was one yarn shop – Donna’s Yarn Barn and I shopped there often.  I wanted badly to make an aran sweater, but I didn’t trust my skill level since I had never had any formal classes.  Donna assured me that I possessed the skill and told me that if I got stuck, she’d help me out.  This is my first aran sweater.  From a Vogue Knitting magazine, knit with something like Fisherman’s wool, with the lanolin still in it, in about 1989.  I still wear it, though it is much baggier than I wear sweaters now.  It’s still warm and that’s what’s important to me in the winter. The design was actually a re-styled update of an even older pattern they ran back in the 60′s or 70′s.

While browsing the dollar table at a mall bookstore one day some time later, I ran across a copy of Anne MacDonald’s No Idle Hands. First_sockI snapped it up and began devouring it.  I had never bought or read a book about knitting that wasn’t patterns and techniques.  I finally understood what drew me to knitting.  And I finally felt the connection I shared with my grandmothers and all those women who came before me and those who follow.  Then I REALLY wanted to knit some socks.  But the very act of knitting with DPN’s on such small needles mystified me.  I mentioned this to Donna and she encouraged me.  She sold me a book she said had the best instuctions and she warned me not to try to over-think it, just follow the instructions and once again, if I got stuch, she’d be there.  These chunky raggedy socks are my first pair.  I still wear them, though I make more refined and better fitting socks than these now.

Pattern The oldest pattern that I still own is this little pamphlet from Bernat of just vests, copyright 1978.  I made two of one of the designs and I wore mine for over 20 years.  I still like some of the designs, just not the ones on the cover.  The pattern didn’t provide yardages or even guage, just specified a particular Bernat yarn.

Needles_1 The oldest tools I still own are these wooden needles which belonged to my paternal grandmother.  I never saw her knit, though I now own a gorgeous crocheted cotton bedspread she made while my dad was in the Navy during WWII.  One of these is pretty badly scorched and I don’t know why.  My grandmother was burned very badly as a young woman, but she wasn’t knitting, she was ironing with one of those irons that are heated in a open hearth.  Her dress caught fire and she ran out of the house in a panic.  My grandfather was walking home from work for lunch when he saw her and chased her down and rolled her on the ground to put out the flames.  The scars were still visible on non-public parts of her body in her old age.  I don’t know what else if anything burned in the house.  I’ve never knitted anything with these needles, I keep them in remembrance and in continuing that connection from one knitting generation to the next.

What’s the oldest knitting or knitted thing you own?

“I” is for…

INSECTS! 

Yes, the bugs of summer are upon us.  Lots of folks hate bugs, knitters are no different.  Well, I don’t hate bugs, though some bother me a bit.  The bug kingdom is such a diverse universe that there is something for almost everybody to like if not love.  We don’t purposely kill very many insects at our house.  We know that most of them serve a greater good and that sometimes you have to weigh the benefits of keeping some helpful bugs against some negative attitudes about them.

Y_jackets Web_worms Take wasps for instance: Normally, I am a little unnerved by things that fly at me buzzing.  I have been stung by bees and wasps and it isn’t fun, but I didn’t die and it doesn’t happen all that often, maybe 3 or 4 times in my life.  So, what good are wasps anyway?  Well, they are predators of other insects.  In fact the web worms that wasps love to eat, can devastate pecan and other trees by consuming large amounts of leaves and leaving ugly webby things stuck in the trees.  When I was a kid, the neighbors used to create long torches and burn the ones they could reach with their poles,  But honestly, it may have killed those worms, but it didn’t help the tree much.  If they hadn’t killed every wasp nest in the area out of fear the wasps would have done a very good job of gobbling up many of those destructive worms.

Cicada One of my favorite sounds of summer is the cadence of the cicada, and as a kid I loved finding their shell casings after they morphed into the winged adults.  The mating calls of these insects are so loud that the cacaphony drowns out almost all other sumer night sounds for several hours.  I caught this one in the process of emerging from its juvenile shell as a bright green winged adult.

Stick_bugs One of my personal favorite insects we see around our area of Texas is these enormous walking sticks – I call them stick bugs and the females can get over 6 inches long.  I wish I had a ruler when I took this picture because this female (the larger one) is just gigantic. Sorry if you consider this insect p0rn, but to me it’s just nature re-investing itself.  These guys don’t bite or sting but when you come across one unexpectedly, it can be startling.  They eat plants and even nibble on our cedar which I have never seen any creature eat but goats.

Pearlcrescent Besides creepy scary bugs, we also have butterflies.  Everybody likes butterflies.  This one is a Pearl crescent, and I don’t know what flower it’s feeding on, but usually I find it on my native butterfly weed.

So, what is your favorite insect? 

Planet Houston

I’m headed to Houston tomorrow morning!  Normally not my favorite place to visit, BUT this is a for a quickie yarn crawl with Christine and Katy (gotta talk her into blogging) and maybe Staci.  I can’t bring the van, so no furniture this trip, oh, we’re still going to Ikea, I just can’t buy anything bigger than a breadbox.  But we are bookending the Ikea visit with trips to two yarn stores.  Sometimes I feel deprived living near Austin with it’s one lone yarn shop.  Nothing wrong with it, don’t get me wrong, but I go in there so often, I know everything they have and I need a change of scenery.  Yes, there is another yarn store in Cedar Park that is almost 39 miles from me.  I go there when I need Cascade 220 – they have an entire wall of the stuff.

Trek_800
Trek_closeup
I got my Trekking yarn for the Trek-along, but I’m not happy with it.  If I find a better one in Houston, I’m snagging it.  There wasn’t much choice left when I got mine, but I had to have something.  It’s a jacquard and I really wanted one of the cool colorways with suble color changes.  It’s not a bad color, just not THE color.

I am also looking for something to use for CeCe, that won’t cost a fortune.

Baby_britches
Oh yeah, and I made some baby britches.  It’s form Last Minute Knitted Gifts and it’s knit with Rowan Denim.  I had to use the darkest shade because that was the only color the shop had 3 whole skeins of.  But I think they worked out.  I washed them once.  Thinking about a second one, but we’ll see.  It’s for my nephew whose baby is due in October.  I wish the fabric had turned out a bit softer, but perhaps that comes with additional washings.  I still think they are cute.

Happy weekend y’all.