It’s been a long time!

Sorry to be away so long, I have no excuse.  Just lazy!

Last week I wound up the TDF (tour de fleece, for you non-spinners).  I was pretty sure I was done on Friday, finished all the Three Waters Farm fiber I had, and as I was on their team, what we spun was to be at least 50% their fiber.  But I was having such fun spinning that I just kept going and spun one more braid, not TWF, so not in my official count, but still fun and pretty. I tried a traditional 4 ply.  Never did that before. It is an interesting yarn, quite firm and dense.

So here is all my spinning.  I figured up the yardage, and it is about .9 miles spun in just about three weeks.

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And the blue that I finished up on Sunday – sorry for the poorly lit photo – not sure what the phone was doing with colors…the blues are brighter than that, and the counter is gray. Go figure.

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I picked out a few more braids to spin up, but haven’t started them, time to get back to knitting.  Durrow has been sadly neglected, so I am plugging away at it.  I love how the medium purple is looking with the navy.  Can’t wait to link it to the squares done with the darker purple.

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That is really is for crafting since I have seen you last.  finished but haven’t blocked the frieze cowl.  I missed my window of dry days this week, we are back to the muggies now.

I have been trying to work in the yard a bit here and there, but the weather has been so awful to work with, I just do five minutes some times and can’t see for the sweat pouring off my head.  I did manage to get this to happen, with very little effort on my part – put the plant on the porch and water it now and then, and voila – a bright summery miracle!

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I planted sweet peas and morning glories beneath the trellis that you can see, and one on the other side of the porch.  On this side, that gets morning and mid day sun, they are literally 2 inches high and haven’t budged in weeks.  I water them, truly I do.

On the other side of the porch they did the same thing until about a week ago, now they are growing like mad, and have started climbing the trellis.  That side gets afternoon sun.  I am hopeful for some pretty, sweet smelling flowers there soon.

In front, I am working on clearing weeds and putting down soil and mulch along the outside of the new path.  I have literally gotten about 4 feet done. Many more feet to go.  Sigh.

The pool effort comes along.  I feel like I am finally making progress, though there is still al lot of sediment in the bottom that stirs up when ever it is touched, I think the amount is being reduced each time I get in and stir it up, them run the filter. I do that about twice a week, though with the weather so awful and hot again, I might do it more this week. It should be clean by September!  I am definitely getting the bigger, more powerful filter and vacuum for next year.

Other than that, I have been working. A lot again this week, enough that with only 2 hours of vacation time, I have Friday completely off.  I love when that happens, as you know! A is taking classes all week, culminating with a certification test Friday, so she is studying all of her waking hours.  We are not very exciting!

Last weekend we had a visit from nephew D and his wife A, they have recently relocated from Colorado to Vermont, and are taking advantage of the summer good weather to come to Maine fairly often to visit family while the traveling is easy. He is a teacher, so has been enjoying his summer vacation. It was great to see them and hear more about their lives and work.

This weekend looks to be a nice one – Whorls and Purls on Saturday, and then we are meeting Mom and B for supper on Saturday night.  We will go to a local seafood place and they will all have lobster.  I am not sure if I will have crabs or scallops, but I won’t have lobster, that is for sure.  🙂

And with Friday off, you know you get a bit of a list!

  • Laundry  – I will get it rolling, I am sure A will wind up finishing it Sunday.
  • Bathrooms – the darned things need cleaning every week and it is annoying.
  • Grocery shopping – I usually go on Saturday after knitting, but it has been really awful there the past few weeks, so I am hoping that Friday will be better. Maybe the morning?
  • Hair cut if there is no line.
  • Post office – while I am out, what is one more stop?
  • As much front yard gardening as I can get done before the sun is overhead and too hot.

That should be enough chores to get me hot and cranky, so I will jump in the pool to cool off, then come inside for knitting and spinning on the porch for the rest of the day. I want to make good progress on the Durrow square, and then start spinning the next thing. I should go upstairs and start cleaning and organizing in the craft room, but not sure I will have the energy.  Between work and the heat, I find that we are both just drained and don’t have a lot of energy for anything that doesn’t absolutely have to be done.  But maybe I will do as my friend Deb suggests and tackle one small section at a time.

Also, I have to think of something fun and celebratory to do for A after her test. She will be tired, it is 8 hours long, so the celebration can’t require expending energy.  Maybe I will bake her a cake or something.  Got any good ideas?

What are you guys doing to celebrate summer this weekend?

 

 

What I am up to this week

I got my first payment from the shop and promptly went onto the lovely web and ordered some more yarn.  Several colors (and loads of white for dying) of soft baby ull for little things, and some Madeleine Tosh Prairie for a shawl.  Because I just can’t get enough lace shawl knitting. 🙂 I did save a bit for some wool purchases later this summer.  I am set for a little while on that front, though. And I hope to have more income from the shop this summer, so I have been cruising the internet scoping things out.

This weekend I will actually be WORKING at the shop, because the wonderful Sonja has the big Celtic Festival in Belfast (Maine, not Ireland) to attend.  In return for me covering the shop, she will take some of my product to the festival, and not charge me the commission for anything she sells there or that sells in the shop this week.  So, it could be a big payday, or it could just be a favor.  Time will tell.  She was quick to suggest that I bring some knitting with me.  She doesn’t know me well enough to know that I don’t need to be told that, lol.

That means that tomorrow evening I will head there after work to learn the ropes of her system. The shop has no AC – but it has a beautiful window onto the bay which opens, so I hope the breeze is coming up the river while I am there, to keep it cool.  I suspect that window and the front door are all the “AC” the place has.

We are getting a few days of hot weather, I am so glad the pool is ready for me!  I went in as soon as I got home from work, it felt really good. I can’t remember what it was like before pools came into my life, except that I hated the really hot weather and now I don’t mind it AS much.

There has been a bit of crafting happening – but things that take time – so the pictures aren’t too exciting.  There is this hat:

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made with my handspun!  I am knitting it in the Seathwaite pattern which seems appropriate as the colorway is sea breeze.  I am loving the stripes so far.  Hope they work well with the cables.  🙂

Here is the Reyna Shawl I have been working on – it is my travel piece, so is slow going.

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And here is a baby hat and matching booties – this will go to the store this week, hopefully be sold quickly!

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The spinning I am working on is this lovely Romney braid in the color way Broad Bill.  It is a bit of a challenge to me – first thing, it feels a little bit slippery, and while fluffy, I really have to watch the drafting or it breaks because it is too thin.

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But I think I have that part figured out.  The other thing is that the super Debbie at Purple Fleece suggested I chain ply it so the colors don’t muddy.  But I was not feeling confident enough to do that after I had been spinning it for a bit, so I decided to spin up some of her solid black corriedale and ply it with that.

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I really like how the first skein came out – the colors seem to pop (no photos of that yet.)  And I was amazed that after spinning two ounces of each color and plying, I had a whole lot of the black leftover.  That photo above is what’s leftover. That means I have been spinning it consistently thin!  Very exciting to me.  I will finish the colored spinning soon and then do all the black.  What black I have left I will ply to make thin black yarn.  Not sure what exactly I will do with it, but I will come up with something.  Not that I like knitting with thin black yarn, but I will get over it. 🙂

Last weekend I got out some dyes and the book Mom gave me and messed about with mini skeins and a bit of leftover roving.  The results are…interesting.  And bright! But I got the idea.  I was hurrying a bit because A bought strawberries to make jam, so needed the kitchen to be food safe. I think I will do more of it, and try more of the things mentioned in the book.  And I can’t wait to see how the roving spins up.  It is about an ounce, so it won’t make a whole lot, but it will be good practice and I will be able to see how the whole thing works together.

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Lastly in the crafting world – it turns out I sold one of my little collages at the shop, so I am making a few more to bring over – they are nothing fancy, just made with bits and scraps and shells and sea glass, but they are fun to make, and I am pleased someone liked them.  The prices are low, in part because I want to have things at different price points and in part because they take very little in the way of materials and thought to put together. But I don’t want to be making thousands of them, so this might be it for a while. First stage is to paint the little canvases… then go away for a day while they dry.  Maybe these take more time than I thought.  🙂

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Outdoors things are growing, whether I wanted them to or not.  The garlic is doing REALLY well this year, very exciting!  And the tomatoes survived the short drought and have blossoms.  Carrots are slowly popping up, and the lettuce is re-thinking it’s decision to grow.  Strawberries are coming slowly, a few a day, so they are just snacks to the gardener.  Weeds and grasses are doing exceedingly well, and I will have to get out and weed whack in the next few weeks.  So glad we have no lawn, but the straggly mess does look better when it gets cut. Daylilies here and there are blooming, and blackberries are taking over the world, but at least they are bearing fruit – which I might get before the birds do – or not. Birds are chowing down on bird seed, but I see the cherries are ripening on the trees, so I expect birds will switch over to those soon enough. We had a tiny baby deer and her mama and sister in the field the last few days, I wish she would eat what I want her to eat.  😦 At least since the baby came along, they have not come as close to the house in their grazing.

So that’s it in my world this week – not all about yarn, but it’s always there in the background, doncha know?

 

 

Full of photos of yard and needle work

I’ll start with the finished objects.  I am amazed at how many there really are!  Two shawls – Leftie, just finished today – still on the needles here, as yet unblocked, but already well loved.  This is the yarn I dyed myself.  Lots left, I am thinking about a sweater….

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And Indian Feathers, which I finished a while ago, but just got photos of.  It is pouring rain, so they are inside shots.  The close up is pretty accurate, color-wise. The beads are there, but as I mentioned before, too small for the pattern.

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Another Indian feathers – this one, 1/3 the size of the original.  Also, larger beads, and more of them.  Still unblocked, but I think it will be big enough to be a small cowl.  I think I will wind up adding buttons to it.

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The trapper cowl – I am pleased with how it came out – very warm and cozy.  I think it is a Christmas present, but I might keep it.  Or just make another one….

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That’s the lot of finished items – I’ll have socks done for you this week I think.  And maybe cast on another shawl.  Or a sweater. Or both?  Who knows?

Next up the yard.  This is for you, Kepanie.  I know I have confused you all with my endless pool project – here’s how it works (and why it is endless!)

Here’s the area the pool will be in eventually:

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So, I need to clear a circle, 20 feet across, and make sure it has no rocks, is just sand.  Here’s how I do that.

I dig down into the rocky sand about a shovel’s depth (which often takes several tries to get, because it is rocky!) and put it into the sieve on the wheelbarrow.

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Then, using a rock (it took wearing out the fingers of several pairs of gloves to think of using a rock, not my hand) I sift the sand from the rocks.

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When I am done, I am left with a wheelbarrow full of sand and a sieve full of rocks.

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I dump the rocks in the other wagon, and the sand on the cleared ground, to later be spread and leveled.

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Then, I take the wagon of rocks over to the place where I am putting in the path.  Dump them, shovel out some sand if need be (about every other load of rocks, I need to excavate some more sand, but it is easy digging – no rocks!) and take that back over to the pool area.

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All of my work is supervised by Zumba, who just doesn’t get it.  Lots of people don’t get it.  But When I have a pool to swim in, I will be a very happy person.  Luckily, it hasn’t really gotten hot yet, so I am not worried that I am missing prime swimming weather.  🙂

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Here are some other shots of the crazy place I call a yard.

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The wygelia is in bloom – it did not mind being under 5 feet of snow this winter!  Well, perhaps it did – it is a funny shape this year.  🙂 But it is blooming like mad.

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Here is the lupine by the driveway, spreading nicely to fill in the space between driveway and woods.

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Here is a shot of that deck I love so much except in the midst of a snowy winter. It is sunny all morning, then has increasing shade in the afternoon – a lovely spot to eat dinner.

Speaking of winter – remember this shot?

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Yeah, I know, I try not to, too.

Here it is now –

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Much better!

The raised beds are coming along – these photos are already a couple of weeks old, I forgot to take some yesterday.

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Tomatoes and yellow squash, with some marigolds.  Tomatoes have blossoms on them now!

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Strawberries, which I ignored this season, are producing the most they ever have.  I will dig out a lot of them this fall, though, they take up too much real estate for the amount they produce (we have had three so far.  🙂 )

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Radishes, carrots, peas, lettuce and pumpkins.  Radishes are up, but not getting round. Peas are up and looking ready to bud, but not growing tall because a deer keeps trimming them. Carrots are up, but not very well.  I will likely reseed them when the radishes are done.  Lettuce not up at all, I’ll reseed that as well.  Pumpkins are up and growing.

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Sister-in-law L’s garden – cilantro, beans, carrots, all seem to be happy!  As are the volunteer morning glories.  It looks nice and lush in her square.  🙂

So that is it off the camera.  It piles up quickly!

This week is going to be a fun one – first off – Friday is a holiday!  So only 4 days of work.  I like that… Tuesday I have my very first ever spinning lesson!  I am going to learn how to spin on a drop spindle, and hope that I love it and that a spindle will keep me happy for many years, because I have seen the price of wheels.  Yikes.  Can’t wait to share with you what happens when I  try spinning.  🙂

Sister in law L’s son D and his wife A are back in the USA after two years in Madagascar.  They will be around this week, and we will be so excited to see them, and get to know A better. I am hoping for good weather all week so I can continue to make progress on that sandy project, but if it rains, I can sit and spin and knit. And think about how happy I am this week with SCOTUS.  And how pleased I am at how YOUNG my favorite justices are. They will be on that court for a long time to come.

So that is what I am up to at this moment.  All exciting, I know!

Another summer trip to Monhegan Island

I love this place, but it isn’t for everyone – Mom thinks she doesn’t need to go again next year.  Stepdad would have been OK not going this year. A didn’t go this year.

They all think there is nothing to do.

I agree.  It is why I love it! All there is to do is wander around and take photos, look at the beautiful scenery, listen to the birds, soak up the fresh air and sunshine, and eat really good (if expensive) food. (And even knit!)

Of course if you paint, there is plenty of that to do.  And there are galleries to explore.

This year, we stayed at the Island Inn, because it would be easy for a non-walking stepdad to get to, and because it has private baths. Plus it has that porch…and lawn.  You’ll see – here are my photos – from the dock in Port Clyde, past a famous little lighthouse and an immature eagle, to the island, then through two days there and back across the Gulf of Maine to home, with a brief slow down for seals on a rock. I loved every minute of it.

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Our ferry, the Elizabeth Ann

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The last of Port Clyde and the mainland we will see for a couple of days

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Marshall Point Light – famous for being the lighthouse Forrest Gump runs out to touch in his transcontinental run.

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A young eagle just sitting on a rock, hanging out.  Not close enough for a great photo, unfortunately.

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Here we come!

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Almost there….

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I love all the gray houses perched on the rocks

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Incoming boat is an important event each day, and most of the island trucks are on hand to meet it, to haul gear and supplies to local hotels and cottages.  But not people – unless you are completely infirm, you walk to your destination.  No bikes, no mopeds, ne rental cars, in fact, I don’t think there are any cars at all – just pick ups, four wheelers and golf carts.  And pickups have the right of way, because they belong to people who are working hard for a living.

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Here’s our hotel – the Island Inn.  Our rooms are on the backside – nice and cool as they face east.  We had our dinner and breakfast here, but had lunches out while wandering the island.

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The view from my third floor window, across the “meadow”.  If you can spot the flag on the left horizon, you can find the place we usually stay – it is the first building under the flag.  Up and over a very high hill, that we knew we didn’t want to walk up and over this trip.  And we didn’t.  Zipping up it in a golf cart is an entirely different proposition, however!

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These shots are the view from the hotel porch, where we spent long restful hours, rocking and knitting. The island across the harbor is Manana.  It’s looming and stark, but it’s rocky bulk creates a safe harbor for Monhegan boaters and fishermen.

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The lighthouse, and the next few shots are the view from the hill it sits on.

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In this shot, you can see the Inn where we stayed – it is the big mansard roofed building in the center of the picture.  Our rooms were on this side, which faces east.  We got to see the sunrise over the hill.

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This is one of my favorite little island houses

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I do love poppies – and gray houses, and of course, blue, of any kind.  Any wonder I love this little garden?

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Monhegan’s School – a dwindling year round population means that keeping it open is a big commitment.  But without it, you lose the families.  So the community makes that commitment, and by all accounts, it is a great school – K-8.  It sits on a rock (of course) but there is a little flower garden under the window.  I love that there are little gardens all over this island, tucked wherever there is some soil on the rock.

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Back to the hotel lawn to await our ferry – of course, some knitting while we wait – I even have Mom knitting out in public these days – and knitting with lace weight yarn – her first time.  I, of course, had socks on the needles – I cast them on for the trip, because I knew they would be the perfect island project – not too heavy or complicated.  I knit most of a sock, so I am glad I had them.

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Seals on the rocks on the way home.  An hour on a  ferry is a good transition from Island life to real life.  IT is a culture shock to get off the boat, into the car and drive home.  I do dream that someday I will be able to live there for a long time, but I know it is just that. And I keep dreaming it anyway.

Remembering

Funny thing as I get old… I miss things I took for granted when I was younger and that are gone now.

This time every year the sandy jungle we call a yard erupts in berries of all sorts – raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries. I bemoan the lack of a yard most of the year, but this time of year finds me out with a bucket picking berries in the hot sun, enjoying the peacefulness of the process, and breathing deep the smell of the berries, the sweet fern that grows everywhere, listening to the hum of the bees and cicadas.  And thinking about being a kid on Block Island with Ma, picking blackberries in hotter sun, when all I wanted to do was go to the beach.  But first we had to go berrying with a bunch of “old” ladies who didn’t really appreciate other people’s grandchildren.  I did not enjoy it.  It was the price I had to pay to be on the island and to go to the beach after lunch.  But now I find I miss it.  I miss the days when all I had to worry about was someone saying I had certainly grown since last summer, or how soon we would fill the baskets and head home. I miss having my grandmother sharp and lively and able to hold a good conversation, and to take enjoyment out of life. While I still have her, I sort of don’t, and I miss her.

And all week, my other grandmother, Gram, has been on my mind. I wasn’t sure why, but I would think of her sort of randomly as I worked on an art project or put things away in the craft room.  Finally, I realized why she was coming to mind more and more.  Her 101st birthday was Thursday.  She isn’t here to celebrate it, but she was certainly on my mind all day. She was not lively or fun when I knew her.  She was steadfast and calm, with a sharp wit, very observant.  She was a skilled craftsperson, a wonderful seamstress, but not a teacher.  So my Ma taught me how to do the basics of things like sewing, and then Gram would demonstrate how to do things better, or give me a book that told me how. It is an interesting combination of skills these two ladies had. One could knit and cook to beat the band. The other could do any kind of handwork (except knitting!) and thought a day that didn’t involve meal prep was a gift of the gods.

Then there is my friend Kate.  She has been gone nearly three years now, she died on Ma’s 100th birthday.  When I called Ma to let her know Kate was gone, she cried.  She wondered why she should live to be so old and someone like Kate should die so young.  Good question that of course there are no answers to.  Kate was a friend who did all the heavy lifting in the relationship.  We met, we think, in kindergarten or first grade.  But we became friends in 6th grade.  When we went our separate ways, it was always Kate who would call on my birthday, or when she came back home. We would chat like we saw each other yesterday, and it was like that for the rest of her life.  We would see each other maybe once a year, for short visits, where we talked nonstop for however long we had.  We rarely talked about troubles or troubled times, but about fun and life  and the universe and friends and people we loved. She made me think about things differently, in a more positive way. Yet I knew that for Kate there were many troubles.  I would get worried when I didn’t hear from her for a long time, but I learned not to call her then, that if she was in a bad place, she could not be upbeat and she didn’t want to talk about the bad things.  She would call me when she could handle it.  A funny sort of friendship that way.

Now Kate is gone, and even though I didn’t talk to her often, I realize that I always knew she was there, and that a bubbly fun conversation could come at any time.  But now it can’t, and the world feels very much emptier.  I have been thinking about Kate a lot this week, because her sister called the other day – she is in town and wanted to say hi. I thought what a powerful person for relationships Kate was, if her sister, who was grown and gone by the time Kate and I became friends, thinks to call me when she is in Maine.. Kate must have loved me very much.

I miss Kate, and both my grandmothers… but I need to learn from this missing.  Learn to appreciate what I have and who is here now, because there is no telling when they will go and I will only have memories.