October 31, 2006

JILL O'LANTERNS

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Big and Li'l Sister Jill O'Lanterns want to send Ideaphoria's readers their best wishes for a happy Hallowe'en! Indulge your sweet tooth -- I'll be indulging mine!

Nancy Willard is a poet, essayist, novelist -- and one of my favorite writers. She wrote a poem called "Saint Pumpkin," and I'll share the first stanza of it with you:

Saint Pumpkin

Somebody's in there.
Somebody's sealed himself up
in this round room,
this hassock upholstered in rind,
this padded cell.
He believes if nothing unbinds him
he'll live forever.

(From Swimming Lessons.)

In Two Swans Yarns news: Some colors of Satakieli yarn that I ordered from Finland arrived today, including this pumpkin-colored one. As I was unpacking the box, Stormers came along to check on things.

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Satakieli is a fingering weight, 100% wool yarn, great for stranded color mittens, gloves, and so on. It comes in 60 colors, and I ordered an assortment. So far I've received a red, a green, the pumpkin color you see in the photo, white, and natural. I'll be listing these on the Two Swans site tomorrow morning.

Posted by Karen at 03:46 PM | Comments (1)

October 27, 2006

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY

That Wooly Yarn Girl Rebecca showed some vintage buttons on her blog a few days ago. They were unusual, and cool, and I know that I've seen other Seattle Knitters Guild members with similar cards of vintage buttons, so I asked her about them. Rebecca brought a whole big bag of cards of vintage buttons to our Feral Knitting meeting last week so that I could look at them. And Rebecca's been enabling kind enough to e-mail me all kinds of information about the shop in Seattle that sells the vintage buttons. (Big sale upcoming on November 3 and 4! She even gave me advice about where to get a latte before getting in line before the doors open for the sale!)

It's probably silly of me, but out of the whole big bag, the ones I most coveted were a set of 8 Girl Scout buttons -- green, sew-through buttons with the little Scout shield emblem on them. Took me back to my elementary school days. I'm sure I had buttons just like that on my Scout uniform in the 5th grade.

So when I got home from Feral Knitting that night, to placate my Inner Child who was on the verge of having a tantrum about needing some Girl Scout buttons, too, I sat down to the computer, logged on to eBay, and searched for vintage Girl Scout buttons. Sure enough, I "won" a set (or two, by the time of this writing.) And that led me to broaden my search for other vintage buttons. I was surprised at the selection -- and usually they are listed for just a few dollars. I've been high bidder on a few buttons, here and there. (The button stash is growing -- Rebecca, see what you've started?!) And I've been outbid a few times, too.

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The bidding was at $685 when I stumbled upon this one by Lalique. Interesting and unusual as it is, I wasn't tempted to bid on it -- and, at that price, it would be too precious to use on a coat or sweater. Bidding closed at $2,276 and some change. Takes my breath away.

Posted by Karen at 11:42 AM | Comments (8)

October 25, 2006

CHRONICLES

I started this year with a New Year's resolution of keeping a daily knitting journal. The purpose of chronicling the progress of my various projects was to keep me focused so that I could finish more of them than I had in previous, non-knitting-journal-keeping years.

This plan worked well enough for the first project that I finished this year.

However, the Level II vest was the complete undoing of my knitting-journal-keeping. How to record that what you thought might be a perfectly good vest turned out to be only a prototype? And with Take Two of the vest, there would have been far too many entries that would have read: Tuesday: Knitted 4 rounds. Wednesday: Ripped 9 rounds. Thursday: Knitted 1 round. Friday: Discovered that the 1 round knitted yesterday went cattywampus; ripped back 14 rounds (half a repeat) to get everything back in alignment. In other words, I found I was recording more negative progress than positive. And that was too discouraging. Demoralizing. Defeating the purpose.

Last night would have been another case in point. We had tickets to the Annie Leibovitz reading at the University of Washington. I thought, Great, I can knit while Scott drives us in to Seattle!

On the freeway headed north, I finished up the current round of my Fair Isle project, then whipped out the chart to see what would come next -- and discovered that I'd used the wrong color of blue in the previous 3 rounds. No way to live with this mistake, for this project uses several colors of blue in a progression from dark to light, and the progression was completely screwed up.

So during the drive, while standing in line for the reading, and once we'd taken our seats and were waiting for the reading to start, I spent all of that time tinking back those 3 rounds. Got my un-knitted yarns all wound back around their respective balls just as Annie Leibovitz was being introduced.

Annie began with a few extemporaneous remarks. She said, "It's been a long, hard day. Because it's Seattle. And it's foggy and rainy here -- " and she gave a brittle little laugh -- "but then, when isn't it, in Seattle?" She explained that she and her partner, Susan Sontag, had come to Seattle for a bone marrow transplant in a last-ditch effort too put Susan's cancer into remission. Susan Sontag had been treated at the University of Washington Medical Center. Although last night's reading was in a lecture hall on the north campus, and the medical center is on the south campus quite a distance from where we were last night, I could imagine how Annie had undoubtedly driven yesterday some of the same streets she'd driven only two years before, during the time of Susan Sontag's treatment. It was obvious memories had come flooding back; a couple of times during the evening she remarked, almost like she was in disbelief, "We're so near the hospital."

She explained that she edited her book, A Photographer's Life: 1990-2005 to include photographs from both her professional life and her personal life. She said, "In that time period, Susan was dying. My father died. And my children were being born." It didn't make sense to focus on just the private side of her life, or just the public side. So she edited her photographs for the book to weave at all together. The book is all one chronicle of those 15 years.

She then sat down to read a condensed version of the few pages of text that open her book. On the screen behind her was shown a slide of the book's cover. As she began reading, this slide changed to the first photo of the book: A shot of Susan Sontag, minute as a doll, silhouetted in the deep V made between the two walls of a gorge in Petra, Jordan; behind her, lit up in bright sunshine, is a wall of carvings in that ancient city. As Annie Leibovitz started to read the paragraph of text to go with that photograph, she choked up. She got weepy. She had to read three times, before she managed to get through it, "When I made the picture, I wanted her figure to give a sense of scale to the scene. But now I think of it as reflecting how much the world beckoned Susan. She was so curious, with a tremendous appetite for experience and a need for adventure." At one point, a woman in the front row got up and handed Annie a pocket pack of Kleenex. Annie wiped her eyes and said, "If you've been through the process of grief, you know it's like that. It comes in waves."

Certainly the photograph speaks of passages.

I really didn't think Annie Liebovitz was going to get through the reading. It was not a good sign when her first words to us were, "It's been a long, hard day." But only that first part was the hardest. She had a couple of other moments where her voiced choked. It was a tremendously moving reading.

And it had some light moments, too. The picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger on the ski slopes in a tight-fitting T-shirt drew a laugh from the audience, as did the one of Jack Nicholson in a bathrobe, socks and slippers, cigarette dangling from his mouth, wielding a putter in front of a lineup of golf balls got an even larger laugh. You could see the progression of her career from taking staged, posed photographs of celebrities to taking more candid shots of them in their everyday surroundings; she tried and abandoned studio portraiture in favor of taking photographs of people in context of their everyday lives -- the shot of Bill Gates at his computer in his home office marks the transition from the one philosophy to the other.

She took questions from the audience. One man said, "I own two of your photographs: One of Woody Allen, and the one of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. I wondered if you could comment on taking the photographs. How did you take a picture of Woody Allen in the bathroom?"

Annie said, "I'll start with Woody Allen first. I've photographed Woody a couple of times, and he would only give me, like, 10 or 15 minutes. So the second time he asked me to photograph him, I rented one of those photo booths and told him to take his own picture.

"For that photograph, though, he was working in an editing room. Now I would find that interesting and I would want to take a picture of him in that context of the editing room. But at the time that didn't interest me. I walked down the hall and saw a bathroom, and asked him if I could take his picture there, and he agreed. The walls in the bathroom were pink and, I don't know, at the time I thought it was funny. But now I don't like that photograph all that much."

Then she pulled a face, and said, "Oh, but you own that photo, don't you? Yeah, that's a great one -- it's from my pink period."

She explained about the John Lennon photo (the one where he is naked, curled up around a clothed Yoko Ono) that it was taken on the last day of his life. I had not known that, but I'm sure everyone else in the audience did. She said that Jann Wenner had sent her to do a photo shoot of Lennon, and to get only Lennon and not Yoko. But when she got to their apartment, Yoko was there, too, and she thought, "Now what do I do?" There was no way to not include Yoko in the photos. Annie liked the kiss that was on the cover of the Double Fantasy album that had just come out, and she wanted to explore that idea of the kiss. She talked with them about doing a nude shot, but Yoko had reservations about that and wouldn't agree to being completely nude. Despite all of these complications of the shoot, the resulting photo works beautifully like a yin and yang motif: the lightness of the nude Lennon curled around the darkly clothed Ono, with her dark hair spread out.

She took other questions from the audience, too. She kept apologizing, saying things like, "I didn't really answer that." I think she was in that emotional space of University Medical Center and Susan Sontag's last days, even though she was trying to be present with us and answer questions about film versus digital photography. (There were lots of photographers and photography students in the audience.)

She signed books at the end, of course. It was like the books were coming across the table on a conveyor belt, she was signing them so efficiently. She didn't really chat with anyone. My dear husband, who sometimes amazes me with his people skills, got the longest remark from her (at least, as of the time we got through the line -- she may have spent more time with the people who stayed till the end). As she was signing our book, he said, "I stood in a line this long 30 years ago to have Ansel Adams sign my copy of his book."

She replied, "Ansel Adams was an amazing photographer -- far more technically-oriented than I am. I was honored to have been able to spend some time with him. It's too bad they kept him in a darkroom the last two years of his life." *

"Thank you so much for sharing your story with us."

She smiled and said, "Thank you for coming to hear me." She was very genuine.

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Like the children's book Where's Waldo, this photo is sort of like, Where's Scott? The hand and arm at the left of the photo belong to a University Book Store employee who was opening the books and sliding them in front of Annie for signing. Scott is on the opposite side of the table from Annie but too much to my left to be included in the photo.

*Scott explains: Ansel Adams was very particular and developed all of his own prints. There was so much demand for his work towards the end of his life that he spent all his time in production, and not out being creative and taking new photos.

Posted by Karen at 12:13 PM | Comments (3)

October 18, 2006

NEVER TOO OLD TO ROCK & ROLL

Here's how Qwest Field (the football stadium where the Seahawks play) looked on September 24 of this year:

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(In a charity auction to benefit a local food bank, Scott had won a couple of VIP passes to the Seahawks game that included a tour of the field. He and Allegra had a Dad and Daughter Day.)

Qwest Field didn't look anything like that when Scott and I went there last night, though. Imagine all of that playing field covered with a floor. And on that floor, thousands of white chairs. At one end of the field, a 6-story stage, with a thrust (that's a theatre term for a runway) coming down the entirety of the field. Tons of lighting, electronics, sound equipment. Hundreds of security staff in bright yellow jackets, and hundreds more ushers in bright turquoise jackets. And, although this was nighttime and the sun wasn't shining as in the September 24 photo, we were thankful that it was not raining. (And what are the odds of that, on October 17 in Seattle?)

No VIP passes this time. The view from our assigned seats in the 300 level:

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This picture, taken before sundown when we first arrived at the stadium, shows you the stage. Add to the litany of "I don't like crowds, I don't like noise" that I also don't like heights. We took it upon ourselves to sit further down -- still in the 300 level -- in seats that were less vertiginous.

On our way to the stadium, we had to leave a little early so that we could each get us one of these.

This concert wasn't on my calendar, or I'd have included it in my list of events in my previous entry. Scott has been asking me for months about whether I wanted to go or not. I didn't want him to get tickets; I don't like crowds, I don't like noise. I know how cold we felt at Safeco Field (across the street from Qwest) at the last Mariners game in September, and that was a day game and a month ago -- I didn't want to sit in the stands and shiver through a concert. Not even for Mick Jagger.

Scott ended up with tickets. And once he had them, I wasn't going to let him go to the concert with anyone else!

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Here I am, bundled up against the cold, and having a great time! (The tickets read: No cameras/rec devices -- but of course everyone was using their camera phones last night.) What to wear to a Stones concert? A full set of long underwear, a turtleneck, a sweater, jeans, two pairs of socks, a hat, insulated gloves, a jacket.

Mick came out wearing a burgundy blazer with sequins on the lapels, over a burgundy button-front shirt. After the first song ("Jumpin' Jack Flash"), he took off the blazer; during the second song ("I Know It's Only Rock'n'Roll") he unbuttoned the shirt. Over the course of the next few songs, he eventually removed the shirt; he wore a black T-shirt with sequins underneath. He wore black pants -- I remember reading in the fashion issue of the New Yorker two years ago an article about Mick buying pants for his concerts. The pants have to withstand hours of dancing and cannot bag. They have to be tight enough to look sexy. Mick is a very fussy shopper; the New Yorker reporter got quite a lengthy article out of the story of Mick trying on many pairs of pants.

Keith Richards came out wearing a yellow trench coat and a white headband that probably was intended to have a retro-60's hippie-ish look to it but in fact only looked like a bandage. Keith sang two numbers solo (Ron Wood accompanying on guitar and Charlie Watts playing drums): "You Got the Silver," and "Little T&A." Keith said, "I'm very glad to be here tonight. Of course, I'm very glad to be anywhere." At one point, between the two songs, when he was addressing the audience, he kind of spaced out, then said, "Oh, yes, the show. You'll have to excuse me; I've been brain damaged."

Other than when he was backstage during Keith's solos, Mick skipped and danced about the stage, looking as thin and energetic as ever. Keith, on the other hand, was often far bent over his guitar, or dropped to his knees. (I really wondered if this was part of his performance, or if he was having trouble staying upright.)

The first concert I ever went to was the Rolling Stones in 1975 when they played the Seattle Center Coliseum -- a tiny venue, compared to Qwest Field. The Bigger Bang tour in 2006 might be the last concert I ever go to -- I still don't like crowds or noise. Back in the seventies, the Stones never did encores. That changed in the eighties. Last night the Stones performed "You Can't Always Get What You Want" and "Satisfaction" for their encore -- plenty of sparkly and loud fireworks for the last number. In all, a very satisfying show. I'm glad I went.

* * *

You might be wondering where the knitting news is. Yes, I've been knitting. I've been very diligently working on something that will be a gift, so I'm not blogging about it because I don't want to spoil the surprise.

I also discovered the Red Sweater Knitalong -- and promptly joined in. Yes, I always want to join every Knitalong that comes along . . . but this one I can really justify. Really.

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I have the Salina sweater in process in Rage colored Rowan Felted Tweed -- you last saw some of this work in process in this blog entry. I found out recently that the Vintage Style book that has the pattern for Salina has gone out of print.

Some months ago I also started the Chelsea's Heart Gansey in red British Breeds Guernsey wool, intending it as a Dulaan project, but I'm having second thoughts about it.

More about both of these projects later. Must get back to work, now, and then get ready for the Guild meeeting tonight.

To see some knitting projects, though, visit Terri's blog and check out her completed socks in my favorite colorway! And Jewel's blog for an awesome tea cozy.

Posted by Karen at 01:38 PM | Comments (6)

October 16, 2006

LIVING IN THE PRESENT

In the house where I grew up, my parents kept a calendar in every room. Okay, maybe there wasn't a calendar in the bathroom -- but there was one right outside the bathroom door, on the wall above the light switch. That house was a small, World War II-era rambler; with a second wall calendar in the hallway where it branched off to the living room, other wall calendars in the kitchen and in each of the bedrooms, and a desktop calendar on the desk in the living room, the ability to double-check the day's date, or the date of the next upcoming holiday, was never more than a few steps away. We laughed about the sheer number of calendars, when a new year would come and we'd take down the old ones. What would fill that blank space on the wall? (Could our family even live with a blank space on the wall?) Nothing but a new calendar for the new year would do, of course.

Some family habits are inescapable. I can move out of my parents' house, but I cannot leave behind the compulsion to have a calendar handy at every turn. I even keep one of those credit-card sized ones in my wallet, and there's a calendar in my car's dashboard.

I prefer a wall calendar so that I can see how this day relates to the ones that came before it, and the ones yet to come. I liken this to preferring the old-fashioned, dial clock, rather than a digital one -- the relationship of this minute to this hour to this day is always in view, whereas the digital clock only tells you flatly that it's 10:10 now. I've tried those page-a-day calendars, but they just aren't as satisfying, as the day comes in August when I realize that no one's torn off the page since mid-April -- or, worse, I have the compulsion to save their insightful quotes (the Zen calendar, the Shakespeare calendar), or their day's challenge (the Scrabble calendar), and the little torn-off pages accumulate embarrassingly in the kitchen catch-all drawer or taped to my bathroom mirror.

Our kitchen wall calendar, being on public view, notes in my very best handwriting the family schedule: tickets to Evita on the 22nd, Allegra had no school last Friday and a late start this coming Wednesday, the Janet Fitch reading of last week, the Annie Leibowitz reading for next. But I think my life would get completely derailed if it weren't for the calendar I keep next to my bathroom sink, and the to-do list that goes with it. This calendar isn't on public view, and it gets scribbled over with all kinds of personal notes. (This year, because of the New Year's resolution to walk 10,000 steps a day, almost every day has some kind of number on it; about half of these numbers are 10,000 or higher, and about half are less.) Every night when I brush my teeth before bed, I look at the calendar and remind myself of what appointments the rest of the month holds. Every morning, I re-refresh my memory by looking at that calendar again.

In 1997, I was president of a nonprofit organization. As the end of the year rolled around, I started thinking about giving each of my fellow board members and each of my volunteers a gift to thank them for their service. This was going to add up to a number of gifts, and I wanted to keep the cost reasonable on my pocketbook. I hit on the idea of giving them calendars, and I chose each calendar based on what I knew each person's interest to be. For instance, one woman had a thing about lions -- they were definitely her totemic animal -- and so I found a lion calendar to give to her.

One of my fellow board members was trying to knit her husband a sweater for Christmas that year. She'd bring along her knitting to our meetings. I was just on the cusp of taking up knitting in what would turn out to be this very all-consuming way. Watching her count her stitches at our meetings, watching the gray fabric grow on her needles from one meeting to the next, was one of the factors that inspired me to take up knitting that year. I wanted to give her a knitters calendar, and I don't know that I ever shopped for anything so hard in my life. Quilters had half a dozen glorious full-color calendars from which to choose, but knitters had none. Zero. Zip.

The only knitting calendar I could find at the time was the one published privately by the KnitList, where each month had a photo collage of various List-er's projects. It was a homey calendar, the kind photocopied at Kinko's, suitable for List-ers to put a face to a name or see a project that they'd read posts about. But if you weren't on the list, the calendar wasn't really going to grab you. I bought a couple of these calendars, a couple of years in a row, but I don't know whether the KnitList publishes this any longer.

How times have changed since 1997. The knitting boom has re-invigorated the craft, giving us more knitters, and more different kinds of knitting needles, yarns, you-name-it. And now knitters have almost as many choices in calendars as quilters. Last year and this, Two Swans is carrying wall calendars for knitters. I hung my copy of this over my computer yesterday:

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and it makes me feel right at home.

Posted by Karen at 10:51 AM | Comments (1)

October 13, 2006

FRIDAY THE 13TH

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Stormy wishes all my Dear Readers a happy Friday the 13th!

Posted by Karen at 12:07 PM | Comments (3)

October 12, 2006

MOMENTUM REVISITED

Momentum. A recurring theme for my blog and my life. I'd been making progress on my Level II submission for the Master Knitter program -- got that vest knitted, by gum! But then I set it all aside in order to prepare for my presentation at Guild in September. And I haven't touched the materials since.

Lizabeth and I met for coffee today, to get back to working on the program. After some mad rummaging around in my closet, I managed to find my Level II binder to bring along to our coffee date. That's how long it'd been since I'd touched the materials -- out of sight, out of mind -- I couldn't even remember where I'd put my binder. And my instructions from TKGA were not in the binder, so I have yet to unearth those.

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Lizabeth's vest doesn't look much different from when you last saw it here on Ideaphoria, but let me assure you, she's knitted it up past the armhole breaks, then ripped back, and done many a pencil-pushing calculation to try to incorporate the needed shaping into the stitch pattern. That pocket of mine is my second iteration of that particular swatch, and a great improvement over my first try, which came out sort of trapezoidal (due to far too much fiddling and fussing over the ribbing at the top of the pocket -- a lesson that one really should not overthink or overwork these things).

We met at the Columbia City Bakery. I'd never been there before, but you can tell by the latte cups, the fresh tulips in vases, the wooden tables and chairs, that this is a place with great ambience. (What a juxtaposition -- to find fresh tulips on the tables in this cafe, when only yesterday the Zestful Gardens farm had suffered its first frost. In our modern lives, are we in tune with the seasons?) I didn't find a website for Columbia City Bakery, but I did find that a Seattleite had put some pictures on flickr that capture some of that ambience -- click here to see them.

Posted by Karen at 04:41 PM

October 11, 2006

TUESDAY RECAP

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At Zestful Gardens, yesterday, at last, a good photo of my sister. I weigh the tomatoes on the scale (only two pounds, this week, whew!), while my sister holds the sugar pumpkin. The woman behind us wearing the blue fleece vest is the matriarch of the farm. She told us she felt sad, because the first frost had come that morning. That marks the end of the green peppers and other delicate vegetables that didn't get harvested beforehand.

* * *

Last evening, Jennie and I went to University Book Store for a reading by Janet Fitch from her new novel, Paint It Black. She read from the first chapter and it was pretty hard-hitting (plot: 20-year-old punk girl living in L.A. learns that her boyfriend has committed suicide); after reading, and in contrast to the hard-hitting emotion of the chapter, Janet Fitch was quite upbeat, chatty, and entertained a number of questions from the audience, including one from yours truly. "I'm wondering about the artistic decision to kill off one of main characters right away in the book," I said. "Was that a decision that you made from the very first draft, or a decision that you came to later?"

"It was a decision from the very beginning," she said. "I'm not interested in glorifying or romanticizing the character who commits suicide; I'm interested in the ordinary people who are around afterward who have to mop up. The person may think, 'Everyone will be better off without me,' but really what they do when they kill themselves is to spread their depression to everyone around them." She explained that its a novel about the process of grief; how do people who are left behind after a suicide bring meaning back to life?

With my literary criticism hat on, I have to say that it is unusual for a main character to die within the first few pages of a book. The only other book I can think of that's similar is Another Country by James Baldwin, where, for about a hundred pages, you get to walk around with the main character, Rufus, get to know him and even love him, and then he kills himself; the remaining couple of hundred pages of the novel are about how Rufus's friends pull themselves together after losing him. With my literary criticim hat on, I think readers are not drawn into a novel that is so very hard-hitting right in the first 20 pages. Despite this reservation, I bought Paint It Black anyway.

I bought Paint It Black anyway, because I had read her first novel, White Oleander, and thought it beautifully written. Lyrical, even. In talking with Janet Fitch, she said that she spent 10 years learning her craft and getting nothing but rejections, and, since I spent the 90's doing the same thing, I very much appreciated her honesty.

I was affected by Paint It Black by a weird synchronicity, too. About three weeks ago I learned that an old boyfriend of mine from high school, who was living in L.A. and who, from all appearances, was having a pretty darned successful career, had died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. I'm still stunned and shocked and want to know, Why? (I wasn't consciously aware of the plot of Paint It Black when I chose to go to the reading; I chose it because I'd enjoyed White Oleander and because Jennie and I like to go to readings. But the unconscious mind is a powerful thing, and I think it was my unconscious mind that put me in that audience last night.) How do we bring meaning back to life?

Posted by Karen at 09:51 AM | Comments (7)

October 10, 2006

Week in Review

Last week on Monday at Feral Knitting, this was the scene:

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Wendi's baby is due this month, so we had a little cake to celebrate the imminent arrival of this new little person. (Behind Wendi, you see Rebecca knitting on her intarsia pillow cover, April browsing a pattern book, and Devorah counting stitches.)

I took a page out of Ryan's book and was so busy gabbing with the other Feralites that I knitted a grand total of 76 stitches (the width of two pattern repeats) on the Sandness sweater. Good thing Scott didn't give me any deadlines, when he mentioned that he'd like me to knit this sweater for him.

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Pumpkin field at Zestful Gardens.

Every Tuesday since June, I've been driving out to a little family-run farm, Zestful Gardens, in Puyallup to pick up produce. The farm is a CSA (community supported agriculture). My eldest sister and her husband have had a share in the farm for the past three years that they have split with a friend of theirs. This year, their friend decided not to participate. I've always been intrigued by the notion of a CSA, so this year we Campbells are splitting the share with my sister and brother-in-law. (And all summer long, I've tried to get good photos of my sister at the farm, but the brilliant sunshine and the deep shade have defeated my little Sony camera.)

My sister is a gourmet cook, as I've written about earlier. My own interest in cooking comes and goes. Picking up produce at the farm has given me a whole different strategy for menu-planning. "Well, I picked up 7 pounds of tomatoes this week, now what do I do with them?" Some of the items -- kohlrabi, for example -- have been things I've never bought at the grocery store and have never cooked before. Several times over the summer the share has included one head of cabbage (among other things). Split between my sis and me, that's given me half a head of cabbage to put in corned beef and cabbage. Scott has never been happier to come home from work and sit down at the dinner table.

The summer share runs through the end of October. It's been an interesting variety of stuff -- we even had cantaloupes and watermelons, two weeks' running this summer. Who knew you could grow melons in western Washington state?

We've been impressed enough with the variety, the 100-percent organic quality, and the incredible freshness of the produce we've gotten this summer season that we've decided to continue on with the winter share, which will take us through November and probably into December.

In Two Swans Yarns news: I am pleased to report that the Two Swans website has been improved. There had been a couple of programming glitches that had plagued the shopping cart. But those were de-bugged, as of last weekend -- hooray! (If you are someone for whom the shopping cart would not cooperate, I hope you will give it another chance. It will be on its best behavior, now.)

And, there's even more improvement in the website! The Projects template now works just the way I've always wanted. Visit a Projects page, such as the page for the Alcea sweater, and you can now purchase all of the supplies for that project with one click of the button -- if you need different quantities of any of the items, simply enter your quantities in the little boxes on the screen. (I am still doing some data entry, behind the scenes, to bring all of the various projects listed on the site up to speed with how the template works -- am about 50-percent finished with this task.)

Posted by Karen at 11:32 AM | Comments (4)