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.

Sunday, October 2, 2016


Isn't it amazing how much easier it is to figure out a knitting problem after you've had ten hours of sleep?  Yes, I have at last worked out the neckline issues on this sweater.  And at long, long last the body is done.  Now it just needs sleeves.
I must give a lot of credit to Holly's September KAL (Knit A-Long), but as you can see the WIP is not finished.  That's in part because I couldn't put the linen stitch scarf down, but also because last weekend I managed to bang my hand so hard that one finger was black and green and too swollen to bend--the third finger, right hand.  I'm right-handed,  though I knit continental style.  Not that it helped because it turns out that I need all the fingers to curl around the right hand needle to knit at any speed greater than agonizingly slowly.  (No worries, I was more or less back to normal by this weekend aside from some residual stiffness in the afflicted finger.)

Naturally the thing that you can't do, immediately becomes the one thing that you desperately desire to do.  So I kept picking up knitting and putting it down after a few stitches and by Wednesday the swelling had gone down enough for me to finish the current pair of mittens.  (The second pair appeared in my knitting bag this weekend needing to be sewn up so I just finished them off so I could tag both pairs and toss them in the gift bag.)
I opened up my cutting board and balanced it across the back of a chair to take photos, on account of the extraordinary level of assistance I've had this weekend.  I blame the cooler weather.  Here's Biscuit 'helping' me work on the computer.
Here he's holding down the blanket so it doesn't slide off my lap.
And here is on the couch, relaxing after such a hard day of supervising.
Cookie and Jake have been cuddly as well, but have also been napping together for added warmth. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say Cookie snuggles and Jake looks bemused and tolerates it.
Jake is much more okay with it when they're on the bed and have more room.  The castle is a bit cramped for two (but it has a great view of the birds in the bushes just outside the window).

And last but not least, a knitting project that isn't mine- One of the knitters in my Sunday knit group was making these and when I said, "Oh, I know just the person to make one of these for!"- she gave it to me.   Very cute.  I found the pattern so I may have to make a few of my own.