Remember the Kristen I have mentioned, the one who recently got her Ph.D. and who had sent me the orange Russian yarn that Cookie magically knit into the lovely Faux Russian Stole?
She's having a "Congratulations, you now have a PhD but no job!" destash sale on
Ravelry. She has a wide range of stuff
from fancy-schmancy silk lace yarns to good old Cascade 220 to some things she picked up in Moscow. You can find her on
Ravelry under Vertushka, and she accepts PayPal.
Go check out her sale, and please send her good vibes for finding a job, too.
I had no idea camera tripods could be acquired for so little money. This is a dangerous piece of info. (see above quote from Cookie) So I bought one for under 20 bucks, shipping included, on eBay and if all goes well, photo shoots will no longer require another person. Is this too much like .... never mind. (see above quote from Cookie)
Anyhoo. I'm v. v. v. v. v. v. busy these days with this evening course. The long classes and the discussion-oriented content late at night are very energy-consuming, even though I am not doing any of the actual discussing.
So I am extra-thankful to Cookie for providing me more blog fodder. While I can't model it quite yet, I can still take photos of the pretty orange lace.
For me, the most important attribute an orange garment must possess, especially a dressy one, is that I must be able to wear it with a little black dress without anyone thinking "Halloween."
I'm pretty sure this one is a winner. It is a color that will stand out and be memorable in a sea of black or pastels, but without screaming "Jack-o-lantern" or "that aging '70s girl."
Now, speaking of that aging '70s girl, if I could just lose that 10 pounds so I could do that little black dress proper justice again....
P.S. Did you know you could get your own Cookie-knit shawl if you donate to Claudia's M.S. ride? There was a cone of yarn left over from my Ruby Red wrap (it is NOT PINK, but dark red) and it is that same gorgeous Zephyr wool-silk that will be in the new wrap. Go donate! There is one chance to win something from Claudia's wonderful prize basket for every $10 you donate. So donate early and donate often!
P.P.S. I bet the 10 pounds would go if I too would train for and bike that 100 miles. Shut up.
See if you can follow this. I'm kind of fuzzy-brained tonight, so I apologize if it's a bit incoherent.
Back in 2005, my friend Kristen went to Russia for a year to continue her studies in Russian art. She read in the blog that I had purchased the book A Gathering of Lace and some yarn in order to knit the Faux Russian Stole. She thought it was a shame that I might be using non-Russian yarn to knit a Russian stole. She sent me several skeins of authentic Russian yarn with which to knit it.
Here's a photo of the yarn and the chocolate she sent me way back when:
That's gossamer-weight Russian yarn, the kind they use for their lovely Orenburg shawls.
My inability to knit lace is well established. I was going to say "legendary," but that would probably be symptomatic of delusions of grandeur, as if anybody really cares or something, so I'll stick with "well established."
So of course the yarn sat languishing in my stash all these years.
But, as has been well documented in my blog as well as her own and several others, Cookie's ability to knit lace IS legendary. After she completed the last gorgeous lace thing for me, she said something to the effect of "What do you want next." The woman is a crazy machine, honestly! I feel quite certain that if any of us were to meet her in person, we would actually find a robot and not a sentient being, but that is neither here nor there. She knits lace. A lot. And faster than a speeding bullet! Who am I to argue? Ya know? I mean, yeah, I'll take it off her hands -- or her needles, if you will. I have no qualms. I feel I'm doing her a service, really: It gives her something to kvetch about, ya know? (Stop repeating "delusions of grandeur." Or was that another voice in my head?)
Anyhoo, Cookie has this intractable and unmitigated love of pink, which I try not to hold against her too much, and I'm not so sure how she feels about orange in general. I don't think her opinion of orange is so high. So I pussyfoot around her for a bit and I say, "Would it make you retch too much if you had to knit -- orange? And lots of it?" I tried to soften the idea by suggesting that perhaps I will overdye it to become a richer shade of orange or red afterward, not that this would help her gag reflex much during the knitting, but I thought it might palliate the pain.
Imagine my surprise when she immediately accepted! She asked what pattern. I said I already had the pattern -- the Faux Russian Stole -- and I explained to her the provenance of the yarn. She was all over it.
Look what arrived in the mail yesterday:
Highly orange. (The color in this photo is quite spot-on accurate)
The photos below don't show the color well, but show some of the stinkingly gorgeous Russian-style garter lace that that girl (or robot or whatever she is) just whipped right out in no time flat.
Cookie held the yarn TRIPLED -- yes, I said tripled -- to knit this stole. Can you believe that? I can't.
As for the orange, I am pretty steadfast in my love of orange, but I still felt certain that when I received it I would want to overdye it to tone it down somehow. However, at least in the evening light in which I see it right now, I LOVE it. I'm wearing it as I type this, and it seems to look very nice against my skin tones. The color makes me happy, as orange often does.
The fourth friend in this story is Joan. She did a knitalong with Cookie of the same stole, but hers is in blue. I really doubt that Cookie needed any help, but I thank you anyway, Joan, for being her knit buddy in this project.
Yesterday I noticed that one of my plum trees is barren of fruit and the other seems to have some embryonic plums, but only (I think) because I hand-pollinated the second when I saw that the blossoming times of the two were not in synch. The first one was about to drop its blossoms when the other one was just barely opening its fertile little blooms. I have no idea if that's what really happened, but I did attempt the hand-pollinating, and it seems plausible enough.
But wait! Did I say "barren"? ALMOST. I found one little plum on that first tree, the one whose blossoms were past their prime when I discovered the problem, and I distinctly remember hand-pollinating THAT one in that location. So it worked! But one tree, one plum, and lots of variables that lie between it and coming to maturity -- disease, weather, insects. But here it is, recorded for posterity, this teeny zygote of a plum.
Go, little plum, go!
Whereas the other plum tree, which is the one that still had viable blossoms at the time I did my little fertilization ritual, has several:
So I noticed on the tag of the second that it says, "Use Toka" for a pollinator. Rather than get in my car or on my bike and ride the two or three miles to the nursery I bought this plum tree from to see if they have any Tokas, naturally I did the more modern and logical (ahem) thing: I Googled "Toka plum Vermont" to see if I could find a nursery that carries Toka plums. That, though it did not bring me to such a nursery, brought me to The Extreme Gardener.
Seems like an interesting read and a great resource, if not to me, then especially to my Northeast Kingdom friends who are bravely battling the fierce and super-cold weather up there. And she's got 'tude! which you know is a direct route to my sarcastic little necrotized heart.
I have not gone all the way down her blogroll, but the name of one blog there tantalized me, so I clicked on Eat My Yard. The first post I read cracked me up, and its tone was so familiar and smart (use of "fucked up" right in the sidebar and talk about tampons in the same post as use of a garden pond as a substitute for an SSRI --yeahbaby, now we're talkin') that I've added it to my Bloglines, as well.
There's a lot in a blog name. While I really do value the fact that my own name is in my blog name because I think it makes me more accessible at bloggers' gatherings, rather than the "And you are?"-insert-person's-name-which-means-nothing-followed-by-blank-stare-followed-by-blog-name-followed-by-"Oh! Yes!-[repeat-blog-name]"-which-may-or-may-NOT-be-a-genuine-expression-of-recognition-promptly-to-be-in-most-cases-forgotten phenomenon, I do love a great blog name. And this is particularly true since the name of my blog, with the word "knits" in it, is, you know, only sometimes accurate and awfully misleading.
There are a few blog names that always give me a chuckle and sense of wonder and great satisfaction and admiration for the cleverness they took to create. Sometimes the blog and/or the blogger lives up to the name, sometimes not, but still, oftentimes the name is good enough to make me click on it.
"Eat My Yard," "Extreme Gardener," those are a couple good names, and they seem to have the right stuff. So, since this is the season when this blog, despite the ill-chosen name, becomes more to do with gardening than anything else, there are two new gardening/eat local blog friends to share with you.
These are baby pears, which have absolutely nothing to do with this post because they managed to do the deed on their own. I have far, far fewer pears than I did last year, though. It was cold, rainy and windy during the pollinating season, and I'm sure that has a lot to do with it. Damn weather.
Our day's food yesterday was mostly local and celebrated the new greens of spring.
Breakfast was a crustless quiche made of asparagus, chives and scallions from my garden, thrown together with what I could find in the fridge: some Greek yogurt from Quebec (a part of which is just about as local to me as Burlington, Vermont), local eggs, and a bit of feta from the supermarket.
It was good, but it would have benefited from from the addition of some bacon or smoked meat or fish, and maybe Jarlsberg or Swiss cheese rather than the feta.
For lunch I threw together a soup of spring onions. I took onions from last year's garden (I've still got a few left), scallions and chives from this year's garden, local garlic, one chopped baking potato, and a bunch of celery. I sauteed all this in a tablespoon each of butter and olive oil, then simmered it 'til tender in some homemade chicken stock. I pureed the lot of it and added about 1/3 cup half and half at the end.
That was some fandamntastic soup!
Dinner: More of that soup (This time I served it chilled, and it was even more delicious after the flavors had blended during the day.), more asparagus, served with a small piece of local grass-fed beef steak, and......drum roll, please...... the first salad of the year from my garden, composed of baby greens, herbs (mint, parsley & basil) and a few pansy blossoms. I added some of last year's pickled beets and dressed it all with a light dressing of walnut oil, apple cider vinegar, and just a touch of dijon mustard and maple syrup. Chichi, huh?
The weather in the afternoon was so gorgeous and conducive to growing after the rain that I could almost see the greens growing before my eyes. I picked them in the afternoon and washed and crisped them for dinner. That is a pretty large platter of salad, from the seeds I first sowed at the beginning of April, and it was more than enough for the two of us.
It can't get any fresher or more local than that. Gardener's heaven!
I'm sorry, I can't help myself. This particular asparagus root produces such MANLY spears. Here's one poking up.
And here's a normal-sized spear in comparison:
Every time I see that root on steroids put out another one of those monsters, I can't stop laughing. It reminds me of an episode of 30 Rock I watched a while back on DVD. Alec Baldwin's character is on the phone apparently being questioned by his dating service while at the same time conducting a business meeting at work. He listens to the question on the phone, tilts his head slightly, and answers matter-of-factly, "Five and a half, but it's thick," then proceeds to address the people in the room about their ongoing business, without missing a beat.
Do you ever wonder how it is that I get through my days with a mind like mine?
Hank's garden has created quite a stir with the neighbor boy. He's
about five, I think. He came over when I was planting yesterday and
said, "That's so COOL!" I told him that I'm hoping a toad moves in.
"You mean a frog?"
"No, a toad."
"Like a turtle?"
"No, a toad."
"It's sort of like a frog. More like a frog than a turtle." He leaves, stymied, to ask his dad what is a toad.
Then he spent the rest of the day coming back literally EVERY.THREE.MINUTES.
"Did a toad move in yet?"
"No, not yet."
"Did a toad move in yet?"
"Did a toad move in yet?"
"Did a toad move in?"
"How about now?"
"No, not yet."
"Did a toad move in yet?"
"No, Corin, it'll be several days or weeks before it happens, if it happens."
"Seven DAYS!? That's when my birthday is!"
"No, not seven. Several. Many days or weeks, if it happens at all."
He fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinally gave up, which is a big "whew," because
little does he know it, but I'm not known for being the most patient
with kids, eh?
I got the rest of the stuff in the food garden yesterday. It took a good deal of garden Tetris to get it all in, but I managed. I had to move a few things that I had put in previously, and put in a couple of pots -- one for the artichoke that I'm excited to watch grow (I've never grown one before) and one for some summer squash. Now I just have to plant a few flowers on the front porch and I'll be done -- all except for finishing the weeding and the mulching of the perennial beds in the front yard.
Vicki asked for more wide-angle, whole-garden shots. This is harder than it seems, the reason being that the food garden space takes up almost the entirety of the flat land of my lot. Immediately upon stepping away from the planted space, one drops down precipitously. To get a shot of the entire garden, one apparently needs a wider-angle lens than the one I have, or to be able to step back. If you step back, you step DOWN a lot, and I just can't seem to manage it! I'd need a crane to take a photo from the street above me, because thankfully the hedge I planted is now mature enough to block the view from up there, and even if I got on my roof, it is too far down the hill to make it doable. There is a rock in the corner of the garden space, and I stepped up on it and held the camera above my head, and got this:
Actually, that is one of the better ones. The first one was only the roof of my neighbor's house and some trees and sky, but I won't take up the bandwidth to show you THAT useless shot. This completely shoots above the entire tomato bed in the foreground, and several beds on the left/front/whatever you want to call it, and the entire new asparagus trench (which has yet to show even a hint of anything alive in it. Perhaps I really did black out and plant some roofing men that day and not asparagus.)
Here's another attempt:
The red is the red plastic tomato mulch product that I swear by. Picture a big red blob there with 12 tomato plants, like this:
But that still leaves out a big chunk of the garden, and if you wanted a CLEAR photo of the garden, well, you've come to the wrong place. I seem to be unable to comply with that request. Just so you know I tried, I took 48 photos. These are the best ones. So, you know, all I can say is I tried.
And also: "Did a toad move in yet?"
Note: I got the black recycled plastic grow beds, tomato ladders, bean towers, compost bins, pea fence, and red plastic tomato mulch here. I realized the other night when guests showed up and I was showing them my garden that I have a small fortune invested in this stuff, and I've given that company a good piece of my disposable income. I've bought it little by little (or maybe that's a lot by a lot) over the space of 20 years. I should have taken a part-time job with them a long time ago, since employees, I believe, get a good discount. Dayum.
I harvested my first gorgeous radish yesterday morning, and another bumper crop (relatively speaking, given the few plants I have left) of asparagus. The blueberry bushes are heavy with blossoms, as are the strawberries, and now the weather is right (finally) for doing the serious planting.
Lucky for me, I had the day off yesterday to hit the garden spots. As always happens, I expected to not buy very much, but.... well, yeah, you know how that goes. I gave in and bought another pea fence, we had to buy bags and bags of potting soil to fill the empty raised beds and to top off the others, and some composted cow manure and loads and loads of veggie and flower plants.
So it's off to the planting marathon weekend!
Except, wait a minute..... I got everything in yesterday (!) except the tomato plants, the beans, and the one artichoke plant that I bought. I'd also like to find some space for some summer squash. I cannot believe it. I got this all done in one little teeny afternoon, after I had done all the plants shopping and the attendant visiting with people I knew who I ran into at the various gardening centers, and with hardly any effort at all. All hail the raised beds.
2 packets of peas (I dug up the poorly germinated ones to reuse the space)
2 more varieties of lettuce (about 4 square feet of space)
6 cabbages (2 each of early green, red, and mid-season green)
6 sweet red bell peppers
6 various hot peppers
5 winter squash (directly in the compost bin, since it was such a success last year)
Hank even got his own garden with parsley, sage, rosemary (no thyme -- that's elsewhere, heh), cilantro, red lettuces, marigolds, alyssum, baby bok choy, and eventually a zucchini. While I was planting Hank's garden, one of those hummingbird moths was seriously hanging around. Those things are very interesting-looking. But of course they are what lay the eggs that become tomato hornworms. We are not amused.
Still to be done: 1 artichoke, 14 tomatoes, beans, a summer squash. I have no idea
where all these things are going to go. Ohboy, do I feel another
expansion coming on?