Monday, November 21, 2016

Turn of the Season

This morning I got up to a dusting of snow, the first of the season.  Well.  Actually I got up at a quarter of 4 AM and drank a couple liters of laxative.  Having incautiously turned 50 this year, I was due to go in for my first colonoscopy this morning.  The snow was just the secret toy surprise of an already ...ahem ...shitty ...morning.   (Sorry, there's just no other word.  The procedure went fine, and I now have ten years to hope they come up with a better tasting prep solution for next time.  Blegh.) While I'd heard plenty about the prep and procedure in advance, the one part they failed to mention was the effect of swallowing two liters of chilled liquid when you're already feeling cold.  Brr.  It took me ages to get warm after that.  Before you ask- room temperature wasn't an option.  It tasted disgusting enough cold.

However!  To take my mind off other things yesterday (those being the meals I wasn't eating), I put on an audiobook and finished off the latest pair of mittens that fell out of my knitting bag, and a pair of socks.  See:
One pair of mittens in a four-year-old size.  Cute.

Speaking of cute:
Biscuit says hi.  He was cuddling up this morning while I was trying to recover from icicledom.

The socks were a good deal more work- I'd poked along through the first one and cast on the second a little over a week ago.  In between there was a long weekend with a house party and lots of board games and socializing, so I made it to the start of the heel over the weekend.  From the heel turn to the cuff was this weekend.   Pattern is more or less the Seeded Rib sock from Charlene Schurch.   These are for me, and with the chilly weather, I'm pleased to have them done!

And of course the very next thing to do was cast on another pair of socks!  Self patterning, because, fun, and it's good for a traveling project.

Next up- finish that danged sweater!  And also, Super-Secret Holiday Knitting.  Shhh...

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Knits

I have completely given up on being home when there is good enough light to take photos of these- instead I have resorted to flash and crossed my fingers that I might actually see daylight again sometime before March.  The weekend has been mostly dark and wet.  And while I know we need rain, I can't see why it couldn't have all fallen during the week when I'm working.  However.

Between travel and hanging out at our friend's cabin, I completed a hat- ribbing makes a hat that will fit a range of sizes.

Three of these four pairs of mittens happened on the Maine trip as well (the last pair happened since then):

And last but not least on the Maine trip- I finished the front of my sweater, and knit on the neck trim, sewed up the front and shoulder seams (the faux placquet on the front is decorative), and then designed the set in sleeves on the fly.  Without ripping back.   That's a first for me- usually I futz with set in sleeves interminably- and those are from patterns.   I was decidedly pleased with myself.

Now I just need to finish the first sleeve and knit the second before I lose my notes.  Let's not have any bets on whether the second one will work first time through.  I'm trying to think positive.

As for why I haven't gotten further with that sleeve since I got back.  I had an attack of colorwork. It's dangerous stuff, on account of it pushes all other knitting aside and sucks up all one's time and attention until it's done.
Just a random folded-brim hat for the gift bin.

And so now I'm trying not to cast on anything else until I figure out what things I want to knit for the holidays, and whether I have any remote chance of completing them in time.

How about you?  Are you holiday knitting?  Are your plans realistic or optimistic (or completely insane)?

Sunday, October 23, 2016

When Fall Comes to New England

So, weekend before last, I took a few days off to extend the weekend and we went up to stay with a friend who as a gorgeous little cabin on the Maine coast.  For those who don't know, I'm originally from Maine, and went to college in Orono, but it's been quite a few years since I have gone far up in the state.

We drove up north of Portland on Friday night, and stayed over in Freeport, where we got a clue as to what the weekend had in store for us:

Fall in Freeport photo IMG_20161008_082102.jpg

The next morning I took a quick peek into the outdoors mega-emporium which is the L.L. Bean mothership (boy, has that changed in the 35 years or so since I was last there!) while my husband slept in, and we still set off early to continue up the coast via the scenic route.

We stopped for lunch in Camden, which is as charming as ever and I can highly recommend the Boynton-McKay Food Co. for a tasty lunch (in my case, their own homemade chowder with a grilled cheese sandwich on their home-baked multigrain bread- yum, yum, yum!)   We had a walk around the town and harbor before resuming our trek north.
Camden, Maine photo IMG_20161008_111343.jpg

The date for this trip had been set around my work schedule, so it was just a happy coincidence that we nailed the peak foliage dead center.  It was absolutely lovely.  I'm only sorry my photos don't do it more justice.

We went by Acadia National Park and took in the view from the top of Mt. Cadillac.
View from Mt Cadillac, Acadia National Park photo IMG_20161008_153212.jpg View from Mt Cadillac, Acadia National Park photo IMG_20161008_153827.jpg View from Mt Cadillac, Acadia National Park photo IMG_20161008_154319.jpg

We eventually met up with our friend and found our way out to his cabin, which is a cozy and comfortable retreat, with a fantastic view of the water.  This view.
View from Gary's cabin, Roque Bluffs, Maine photo DSCN1245.jpg

The following days were spent in convivial conversation, interspersed with eating (we ate at both restaurants in nearby Machias) and excursions to see more views.  Such as Beal Island.
Beal Island Maine photo IMG_20161010_141311.jpg

The Quoddy Head Light:
Quoddy Head Light House photo IMG_20161010_165843.jpg

And the view from our friend's beach.
View from beach at Gary's cabin photo DSCN1247.jpg

It was beautiful and relaxing and there was a lot of knitting (which I'll show you next post).   On our way back, we drove through inland Maine, first the blueberry barrens, which were stunning sweeps of red in their fall finery.
Blueberry barrens photo DSCN1252.jpg

We stopped by my old college haunts, as my husband had never seen my alma mater.  It was all dressed for the season as well.
UMaine Orono photo DSCN1255.jpg

And we stopped by the Hudson Museum on the campus, and saw exhibit both of local interest and from the university's collections.  There was also an interesting and beautifully photographed exhibit on “Resourceful ME: Exploring the Value of Maine's Reuse Economies" by UMaine Anthropology Department faculty member Cindy Isenhour.  There's an old rhyme we think of as typically Yankee- 'use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without' that pretty much sums up the way I was brought up.  I'm not a big shopper, I wear clothes until they fall apart (to my mother's occasional horror!- to which I say, "where do you think I learned this, Mom?")  and in general I hesitate to replace something unless it's well and truly worn out.    The exhibition makes a real case for the value of this kind of lifestyle, talking about the amount of resources consumed by the making of new products.  It was very thought-provoking.

And in one of those serendipitous intersections of ideas, I had just finished reading a fascinating book- Double Entry: How the Merchants of Venice Created Modern Finance by Jane Gleeson-White.  And in the final part of the book it makes an interesting case for how typical measures of economic activity like GDP don't actually reflect the value of resources consumed- what economists call 'externalities'.  For example, a forest doesn't have any effect on GDP- unless you cut it down and sell the wood.  But what is the cost of not having a beautiful forest, for recreation, to sequester water, to clean the air? We don't do a good job of measuring the value of consumed resources, particularly ones like oil or minerals, that are not renewable.

And on that sobering note, I'll leave you with a slideshow- the rest of the trip.