Saturday, September 26, 2009

Something I Made

Here's a picture of some socks I finished for Peter. It's the Tesserae Sock pattern from Anne Hanson. I used Cascade Heritage Paints sock yarn. I don't remember the colorway, but it's terrific for a man's sock. It's subtle enough that a sober individual like Peter will wear it, but interesting enough that I don't fall asleep while knitting it.

Peter seems to like them, which is always a bonus. One day the guy may score a handknit sweater from me. But for now, I will revel in the glory of a finished pair of socks.

Happy Day.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

It Was Something You Said

I've always wanted to spin my own yarn. Some of my favorite things in Ravelry are knit from handspun yarn. I often see amazing projects made out of yarn that just can't be bought. I want to make yarn like that! I want my projects to be that cool. It's like I'm in eighth grade again, amazed at the girls who manage to look good in braces. How to they do that?

The process seemed riddled with daunting technical detail, but I was game to try. We have a smallish house, however, with five people vying for space and I was reluctant to bring more stuff under our roof. Later, I would tell myself, when the kids are bigger and I don't have to worry about Henry stuffing fiber into his mouth. Later, when the kids have flown the coop, I'll have more room, more time.

A couple of weeks ago, one of Peter's aunts said something that totally changed my mind. She is in her mid 60s (I think) and is an energetic, intelligent person. But she said something that really shook up how I was ordering my life. We were talking about her trouble remembering how to do new things on her computer. She said that for younger people, you learn things and then you just know it, but when you get older you have to work harder to remember what you learned. It made me realize that I shouldn't put off learning to spin until later but that I should be working now to build a store of information that I can use easily as I grow old. It's important to always be learning new things, of course, but it made me consider the things I want to work at and the things I want to come easily by that time.

I would rather be struggling to learn intricate lace knitting in my 60s and 70s that struggling to remember how to cast on. So, I'm going to set aside time this winter to become acquainted with drop spindles and roving. As I go on, I hope to learn about spinning wheels and that in a year or two I hope to be well versed enough to think about buying a whole wheel. Who knows for sure what will happen? But I'm planning to begin. And I'm glad to be planning a start. I just hope I don't have to move one of the kids out to make room for the fiber stash. There is no room for a fiber stash.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Thinking Ahead

One thing I like about eating from my garden and storing food for the winter season is how it compels me to plan ahead. If I want tomatoes for winter, I must pick and can what is in my garden today. If I want green peppers for my chili or stews, I'd better get the peppers off the plant today and squirrel them away into the freezer. I know apple season is gearing up so I'd better call the orchard to see if they have bushels of our favorite varieties available. I am thinking about the windfall apples that are available for little money that make very good applesauce. There is a lot to keep in mind when you are gathering your resources together.

I admit that I have myself beat this year, though. I caught myself making a list that I usually don't make until January or February. My pad of paper is sitting next to my bed with "Things to Grow" written at the top and a nice list of vegetables lined up underneath. Here are some things on my list. So far.

Swiss Chard. I've never grown this before, but Rachel assures me it grows all summer and we eat a lot of greens.

Potatoes. I have room for a couple, or four, bushes along the side of the house.

Rasberries. We just pulled up the scabby shrubs in front of the house and we'll plant yummy berries.

Leeks. Again with the yummy.



Basil. Gotta do it. Maybe 12 plants. I love freezing pesto for the winter.

Green peppers. We love green peppers and they are expensive at the store and often loaded with pesticides.

Onions. My parents had a huge crop this year and it looked really appealing.

Garlic. This is a fall-plant crop. It seems so effortless in spring when the shoots come up like magic.

Dill. I'm not sure this really counts because all of my plants come up as volunteers, but since I freeze the dill weed and dry some dill seed, I think I will count it.

Carrots. Next time I'm going to lay a board over the seeds until they germinate. This will prevent them from getting choked with weeds before they even get started.

Lettuce. We don't often buy lettuce at the store and after a long winter without much for fresh vegetables this first spring crop comes like manna from heaven.

Tomatoes. Usually I have about 12 tomato plants, but the blight was so bad this year that I am giving up for now. I'm going to give it a summer or two before I try more than a plant or two again. Blight overwinters in the soil so it can be difficult to get rid of. So, I'm going to give it a rest next year. I hope to get my tomatoes from my dad (right, Dad? Wink, wink!).

So, this is a start, of course. I may do some kale, too, and green beans (I strongly dislike picking green beans because the leaves make my hands itch). Green beans are so simple to can and everyone likes eating them so how can I help but plant a couple of varieties?

We just have a tiny suburban lot and only a smallish garden, at that. But there's so much that I can grow right at home. What things do you grow for yourself each year?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

My Back, In Pieces

Oh, my Lord, but my back is aching.

It's that time of year again when the most routine of chores get ignored. Laundry piles us, bathrooms go unwashed (to some extent), meals are neglected and floors uncleaned. Canning season.

So far I've put up, let me see, 28 + 14 + 7= about 49 million quarts of tomatoes. There has been a batch of beets and green beans and a batch of sauerkraut Rachel made. She's making more because there is little else in this world Peter loves more than a pile of sauerkraut. We have plans, big plans, for another session of applesauce, too. Yes, the cellar's getting full and ready for winter. If only I had some squash. The long summer days are dwindling and we're making the most of them.

Next week school is starting and we're all ready to begin homeschooling Thomas. We're homeschooling for a number of reasons and it has been a new experience for me to actually make this information general knowledge to family and friends. It's unlike me to step out of line, to do something outside of expectations, and I've been surprised at how little the surprise of other people has affected me.

When I tell most people, I can tell they are taken aback and that there is a lot going on in their minds, but, this being the Midwest, they actually say very little. Universally, what they DO say is, "Well, what about socialization?" The peer interactions in school must have improved since I went through because I don't remember them being all that positive. Sure, I had friends, but the friends I have today are not the friends I knew growing up.

I don't know what the path will be like. I don't know how long we will do this, whether it will just be for Kindergarten or through college. I know Thomas has friends now and he'll have friends in the homeschool co-ops I hope to join and the scouting troops we'll hopefully be part of later. Really, I'm not worried. If nothing else, he'll learn to swear really well from me or my dad (who will handle any advanced cursing lessons).

In any case, no child of Peter's or mine has even a slim chance of being 'normal', regardless of where he or she is taught to read or write. Wish us luck!