Exploratory Knitting

I bought the magazine Knit.Purl (Fall/Winter 2014) and discovered many a project I wish to make.  The pattern for Bio Palm intrigued me enough to temporarily put on hold the search I had going for a project that has been hibernating for so long I am uncertain its exact location.  I really had enjoyed working on that sweater, but once again I let life dance me around again and I lost track of time, the sweater and who knows what else.  I will finish that Fair Isle sweater, but right now I am too intrigued by this new one and its very inventive construction!

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I am using a hand-dyed, worsted weight yarn by Red Barn Yarns in the color Vintage Leather.  The color is fantastic, between that and its name, and the look of the sweater it almost feels like a Steampunkish project to me!

Beyond the ingenious construction found in this pattern I am reaching beyond my comfort zone in the actual knitting process.  Traditionally I am an English/American style knitter.  For those unfamiliar with the sport, that means I hold my working yarn in my right hand and ‘throw’ the yarn around the working needle.  For this event I plan to carry through knitting the entire project Continental style.  Yep, you guessed correctly, holding the yarn in my left hand and ‘picking’ the stitches.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not learning how to knit Continental on this project, I just don’t yet achieve the best tension on my yarn knitting that way.  I am hoping this project will help me to refine my skills.

For those people interested in knowing more about the differences (and similarities!) in knitting styles.  Or even for those who wish to do as I have done, and teach yourself to knit. There are a plethora of videos on YouTube, or you may enjoy the website that brought me through, KnittingHelp.com.  Also, many books and magazines are available.  Those lucky enough will find a new home away from home staffed with nice friendly staff at a local yarn store.  Such an establishment,  (your LYS) will likely have classes you can take as well to learn or improve skills.

I hope to have pictures of my Vintage Palm soon.  I actually would have had some now if I had thought of taking any before I ripped out the project, twice.  I am on gauge, and my tension has improved with the forced practice.  I hope that when I resume the process tomorrow I am happy enough with my results I don’t feel the need to start over…  again!

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Experimenting

…And she’s back!

Someday this should be a more regular occurrence, at least that has been the plan.  In the mean time this is one of the things I have been up to.

Jalapeno Wine Bread

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I found a recipe on Pinterest that has become my ‘Go-to’ for making bread.  This is the original recipe, what follows is my adaptation using Jalapeno wine from Potter wines, a local winery.

~

5 minutes of prep the day/night before
About 45 minutes prep on the day of with an additional
45 minutes of cook time

I use about a 5 qt (or so) cast iron pot with a lid (mine is not enameled).
4 C flour (divided 3/1)
1¾ tsp. salt
2¾ tsp. yeast (divided ½/2¼)
1 Tbsp white sugar
1 bottle (375ML) Jalapeno wine (I especially like the Chipolte)
½ C water

Place 3 C of the flour in a large mixing bowl (must be large enough not to hinder the rise) Add salt and ½ tsp. yeast, whisk it all together.  Add the bottle of wine and mix it in well with a ‘spoonula.’

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it set in a draft free area on the counter top for 12-18 hours.  DO NOT REFRIGERATE.  I usually drape a towel over this as well to help ensure no abrupt temperature changes.

After 12-18 hours, heat water to 100° F (40 degrees C).  Test the water using a thermometer.  Remove from heat and whisk the sugar into the water to help it dissolve quickly.  Then add the remaining 2¼ tsp. yeast.  Allow this mixture to sit and proof for 10 minutes, at the end of that time there should be a creamy foam on top of the water.  Before you combine this yeast mixture with the dough and the last cup of flour, place the cast iron pot (with lid in place) into the oven and preheat both that and the oven to 450°.

Right after placing the pot into the oven to preheat, reserve the plastic wrap used to cover the bowl.  Then, using a spoonula, mix the yeast mixture and the last of the flour with the dough until it is well combined (at first it may look like it’s not going to combine… persevere).  Dump this sticky dough onto a heavily floured surface and shape into a ball (don’t forget to flour your hands well for this).  After you shape the dough (it doesn’t have to be perfect) cover it with the plastic wrap (I also gently drape a towel over this for the same reason as before), let it rest for 30 minutes while the pot and oven continue to preheat.

Remove the pot from the oven, set the lid aside, (Remember this is now 450 degrees hot!  Please be careful).  Carefully pick up the ball of dough and drop it into the pot.  You may want to flour your hands again because the dough is going to stick like crazy.  Recover the pot and return it to the oven for 30 minutes.  Remove the lid and continue to bake for another 15 minutes.

Take the pot from the oven, carefully remove bread and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

~

Keep in mind I have made this just once at the date of posting.  Me and my husband loved the bread as it turned out, I value and rely on his opinion greatly.  With that said, I will likely experiment again, giving the mix more time on the second rise the next occasion I make this bread.  We both really enjoyed the aroma filling our home as this bakes.  I was pleasantly surprised at how well the flavor of the wine carried through to the finished loaf. I am thinking this will pair nicely with a big steaming cup of my husbands homemade cauliflower soup!

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Adjusting

 

Diesel and a pot of cactus

Diesel and a pot of cactus

Doggie boot camp isn’t so very bad, It’s definitely not the posh life we have at home with mommy and daddy…well, in some ways maybe does outshine home, if just a little a bit (the treat bag mommy and daddy dropped of with me is nearly empty, it usually takes a month or more to get it to this point at home!)  I hear mommy is a little worried I am going to be a ‘portly Portie’ the next time she sees me, I don’t think she has to worry too much because these people go on lots of walks and they like to play fetch too.  (I sometimes feel the need to hide the ball just to get them to stop throwing it).

One of our favorite things...laying on a cool floor in front of the vent!

One of our favorite things…laying on a cool floor in front of the vent!

It has been very hot here, they said something about it being 102°.  I don’t exactly know what that means, but I do know they have places in their house where actual cold air comes out of the wall or floor.  I could get used to this.  When we do have to go outside I am lucky that these people seem to realize that water dogs love water!

Wet Portuguese Water Dog!

Wet Portuguese Water Dog!

By the way, the cantaloupe survived my romp through the patch!

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…as did the girls yarny thing she tries to work on now and then.

...and then there were sleeves.

…and then there were sleeves.

I much prefer to have her paying attention to me!

oh, hey...where does this lead?

oh, hey…where does this lead?

 

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Settling in

2014-08-05 07.46.50Our first night in new digs we had to check on our new humans every hour on the hour just to make sure they were breathing.

They were.

Our second night we had to repeatedly find just the right place to move and maneuver our bed and adjust our blankie.  And then we had to check that they would respond appropriately to a doggy alarm.

at 3a.m.

And on our third night …

We allowed our new humans to sleep!

Hallelujah!

iodine

iodine

Diesel has been very entertaining, and quite helpful with many things… but the application of iodine is not one of them!

If the cantaloupe survives the night, after the dog ambush I’ll  see if I can remember to take some pictures. in the mean time…

A shot of the yard that caught my eye.

A shot of the yard that caught my eye.

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Progress and… Trouble Arrives at the Hobbit Hole.

Back

Back

Front

Front

I was able to work the pattern up to where I show it here, before I ripped it out to try a redesign of the front placket.  I had learned somewhere that Jordan (the pattern designer) had reworked the collar, but unable to reach her for possible schematics I ripped back and tried reworking it myself a couple of different ways.  The following picture shows the third and final try.

Rework of design

Rework of design

 Still not sure if I like the results.  I guess I will see if it grows on me as I progress, if not I can always rip out again and go with the original pattern.

Intermission (day-lily)

Intermission (day-lily)

Today is the day my husband and I welcome my parents dog into our home for an extended stay.  My parents came and dropped him off, staying for a while to visit and help Diesel get settled in to his new digs.  When it was time for my parents to leave we (my husband, Diesel and I) walked them out, settled them in the car and watched them drive off.  Diesel seemed to be unbelieving that they were leaving without him, I think he was sure they would be right back.

Diesel, day 1

Diesel, day 1

Soon the realization struck that we truly had been left to the mercy of Frau Freitag and her strict rules and her nice husband who better understands the delicacy of a Portuguese Water Dogs feelings and desires.

Diesel realizes he has been abandoned and might be required to eat spinach.

Diesel realizes he has been abandoned and might be required to eat spinach.

 

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Just what the doctor ordered

Gauge met, and easily enough.  It is so very nice when that happens!  Next step is casting on and starting to follow the pattern.

Done.

stitch

stitch

row

row

This project is coming along so nicely and quickly, even with the very limited time I have to work on it, I believe I may have caught the knitting bug again!!  Time will tell, but I am thinking about current projects more often than when I happen to glance upon them.  Also, this current sweater has me rushing to complete chores so I have a bit more time to work on it.

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Speaking of chores, and throwing in a bit of what makes me tick… this was a little vignette that made me happy as I was ensuring the fruits & vegetables have enough moisture to survive the days heat.

Carnation, borage, onion, California poppy, some plants I am not sure of & yarrow

Carnation, borage, onion, California poppy, some plants I am not sure of & yarrow

I am getting excited about the little watermelons.  Sugar babies are a smaller variety (to fit better in our fridge!)  They are coming along quite nicely.  You might be able to spot 3 in this picture.

Sugar babies, California poppy and Borage

Sugar babies, California poppy and Borage

Another happy!

If I have enough lemons it looks like the garden will supply most of the rest of the fixings for a nice cool quinoa salad today!

Cucumber!

Cucumber!

I generally use about a cup (or more) of quinoa, I like to mix the red and regular varieties about halvsies with roughly chopped vegetables and some minced spices.  I most often add a cucumber or two, about 3 Roma tomatoes, a pepper (usually green or red) an onion (or thereabouts, sometimes substituting part or all for green onion or chives).  Fresh basil, parsley and thyme are also nice additions (we do add dried spices when the fresh ones are not available in our gardens).  A clove or two (or three!) of garlic flavors things up nicely. The juice and zest of two lemons, l usually also add a bit of the pulp as well.  Olive oil to coat.  Season to taste with fresh ground black pepper and red wine vinegar.

My husband and I especially enjoy this meal on days when the heat zaps our appetites.

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Jinxed

When I last checked today’s temperature was at 99°F.  I am officially done checking on that.

A picture from January, a poor attempt to cool down mentally!

A picture from January, a poor attempt to cool down mentally!

As much as I would like to be working in my yard it is much too hot, I’d just make myself sick.  Though, I do have a lot that I need to complete out there because my parents have made arrangements for my husband and I to puppy sit their Portuguese Water Dog.  Our yard is still not quite ready.  A wee bit more cleanup and fencing off of the garden areas is needed to keep our furry friend from harvesting unsupervised.

...work in progress...

…work in progress…

The dog will stay with us for a longer period of time, this go-around.  Instead of letting the busyness of life take over as per my normal mode of operations, my goal is to keep touching base here all the while that we have him, although he is a needy little puppy (little being relative)!

Never mind on not checking the temperature again today.  My phone just decided that I needed to know,  ☼ Right Now ☼  that we are once again in the triple digits.

Jinxed (#@!*#?:!…Grrr)

With that oh, so lovely thought I think it is now time to pull out the yarn for Lyric Tree and swatch until I hit gauge.

2014-07-28 18.18.25

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Coming in from the heat

We are no longer in the triple digits here, thank goodness.  In fact I think we are only registering 94°F, but I still seek cooling relief.  Autumn and the subsequent cooler temperatures can not arrive soon enough for me.  I seriously hope Fall sticks around awhile once it arrives too, because I so greatly desire sweater weather in the mornings and evenings.  The cold of winter can hold off for a while, for I only seek temperatures that inspire knitting not those that necessitate it!  That would also help to make the yard work so much more pleasant as well.

A Beautiful summer view in my neighborhood.

A Beautiful summer view in my neighborhood.

  Inside, away from the heat, while looking around for an activity that isn’t a chore; I come across a few knitting projects in limbo… because life happened, causing me to set them aside.  I have not been able to re-engage my creative spirit just yet to inspire me to do more than a few stitches from time to time… every now and then.

For instance, here we have the socks I have been carrying around forever:

socks

socks

Then, there is also the Market bag that I have been making out of recycled grocery bags; it too sits and patiently waits for me to resume my knitting.

Both projects are nearing completion but I can’t seem to motivate.  I want to, but I’m not sure what my hang-up is.  I could even try to spur the creative juices by making more ‘plarn’ from the grocery and other stores bags that I have been reserving for such purpose. That task can be a pleasant meditative process when I am in the right frame of mind for such doings.  But…

I’m not there.

Recycle Bag

Maybe what I need is something new to inspire?

I have a project in my queue on Ravelry that has waited for me to pick up needles for the longest time.  ‘Lyric Tree‘ seems to be calling my name more loudly these days… Hmmm,  autumn is approaching (though not as quickly as I might like), maybe I should start that project.  If I do, the sweater should be ready to wear by time the weather cooperates with the hopes and wishes of our household.

As I contemplate this new knitting possibility I am looking out the window where I see one of my nighttime visitors in broad daylight!

White Lined Sphinx Moth, commonly known as the Hummingbird Moth.

White Lined Sphinx Moth, commonly known as the Hummingbird Moth.

They are very fond of the trumpet vine this time of year, in spring they frequent our lilacs. We usually only see them during and after dusk and seldom am I given such sweet photo opportunities.

 I leave you today with a look out of another window.

Hanging out on a Virginia Creeper wreath.

Hanging out on a Virginia Creeper wreath.

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Experimenting with Nature

(Iris leaves, Calendula, Rose Campion)

(Iris leaves, Calendula, Rose Campion)

Once upon a time I really struggled with my relationships with plant life.  I had friends that would venture over and water my house plants for me.  I think they felt sorry for the poor things that had been given to me by other friends.  Rumor had it that I had a really black thumb…
I still have the same thumbs.

(Rose Campion, Lithodora, Dusty Miller, Lavender and a few I can't remember)

(Rose Campion, Lithodora, Dusty Miller, Lavender and a few I can’t remember)

While I have always appreciated plants; enjoying the look and feel of having plants around, I hadn’t been as attentive to their needs as one must be to make them happy and help them to thrive.  That has since changed.  I am not a plant whisperer, or a master gardener.  I do enjoy working in our yard, watching little seeds become seedlings  and then, over time develop into (hopefully) a full-grown and healthy plant.  I don’t always succeed.  In fact, more often than not I don’t.   Our yard might say otherwise but maybe I really do have a black thumb.  If so, I have found that if you have patience, and throw enough seeds at the problem you can camouflage that malady pretty well!

(Black Eye Susan, Snow-in-Summer, Cinquefoil, Thyme, I believe the big leaves are Morning Glory-the real stuff, not bindweed, I don't remember what the yellow flowers top left are)

(Black Eye Susan, Snow-in-Summer, Cinquefoil, Thyme, I believe the big leaves are Morning Glory-the real stuff, not bindweed, I don’t remember what the yellow flowers top left are)

I tend to avoid using pesticides and other chemicals in our yard.  Some of our inhabitants may not look as pretty or pristine as some people prefer, but there don’t seem to be any complaints from the birds, bees or other (wild or domestic) visitors who frequent this place.  There haven’t been too many losses due to bad bugs, if any,  at least I can’t think of any off the top of my head.  My good bugs who otherwise would be harmed as well by such measures seem to take care of that problem for me.

 

Hollyhock

Hollyhock

Also, and here is where some of that patience comes in, I try to let the plants tell me where they want to be.  I transplant a lot.  I see it as creating art with the yard as our canvas.  For paint I have the trees (living and in log form), bushes, vegetables, rocks, flowers, herbs, bricks, pots and other planters, and whatever other bric-a-brac suits my fancy at the moment.  Some parts of the canvas still await inspiration.

(California and various other Poppy, Feverfew, Virginia Creeper and a Dove)

(California and various other Poppy, Feverfew, Virginia Creeper and a Dove)

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Flavor

2014-05-27 08.11.35  Variety is the Spice of Life   2014-05-29 08.07.12

Our yard is not your typical yard.

On the whole one might see a chaotic riot of color, without rhyme or reason, but if you were to look closely, there are little vignettes her and there, to be seen from different vantage points, these arrangements may give you a taste of the design.

If you look even closer,

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You might notice little details, shifts in shape, color, texture…

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Details that highlight some of the beauty found in our wide, wonderful, world.

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Beauty that can often-times be fleeting…

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If one doesn’t take the time to look, to appreciate, to savor the beauty around us.

Everybody’s tastes are different, your life experiences and background will shape you differently than the next person, even if you come from the same family.

Or even a similar one.

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You’re not always going to see it, or appreciate it, but if you don’t at least try to look for it- the beauty of this world might just pass you by, or fade from your view.

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And that would be a shame.

I hope for you to always notice, and maybe savor, the beauty that can be found in the details.

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