May 29, 2009

Miracles Do Happen!

I present the completed body of the Good Enough Merely Tolerable Gansey (with right sleeve technically begun but a mere two rows along):

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What’s astounding about this sweater as I look at is, not a single element of it is the same as the original pattern, which is unthinkable for a pattern-obsessive like me. But, no; different yarn, different stitch motif, different measurements all ‘round, different needle size… Of course, it was only just this weekend, after almost a year of the futzing and frogging that resulted from my trying to be creative, that I remembered that I had this--which contains every handy-dandy measurement necessary--on my bookshelf.

Here, a close-up of the stitch motif (way more gray than the actual yarn which is a moody but luscious pine-green Cascade 220 Heathers; first picture is much more accurate):

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On the gardening front, despite my best efforts to kill things off, I seem to be losing, pardon the pun, ground:

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Top left: Strawberries, three different kinds.

Bottom left: Every kind of herb that could be squashed into a small pot, squashed into a small pot.

Square bed: In the back, Black Brandywine and English Yellow Perfection heirloom tomatoes

Middle: What looks like a blank area actually contains some quite healthy Half Danvers carrots, with a second round of seeds planted. On the right, a Sweet Garden Burpless cucumber.

In the front, lettuce, which I recently had to thin and did so by pulling out the baby lettuces and…oh, how it pains me to admit this...throwing them away. I eventually had my d’oh moment, realized they were frickin’ edible, and hauled them into the kitchen to fancy up a cold-cut sandwich. Not that I have any intention of trying to live off the land but if I did, I would starve to death in a week.

Even the tomato that I warmed up with the fish hot-water bottle insists on doing well.

Then:

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Now (note change in height relative to tomato cage):

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Well, I'll be.

Posted by Ryan at 07:48 PM | Comments (5)

May 16, 2009

Take That, Mother Nature!

Combine an out-of-character gardening streak and a weekend of unseasonably sunny, warm weather and a girl goes all giddy and buys herself a tomato start. Which means, ‘natch, that the night-time temperatures immediately plunge into the low 40s. Urk. So what’s a girl to do when she needs to keep a tomato warm but is determined not to be the sort who spends $100 to get $5 worth of tomatoes? She goes all MacGyver, is what.

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Covering: A drop cloth. Cost: 50 cents, because it's just part of one roll out of three rolls that didn't cost very much in the first place.

Fasteners: Snack-bag clips. Cost: Have had them around for years so the creative financier in me declares their depreciated value to be $0.

Fish: A hot-water bottle given as a gift by Big Sister. Cost to me, if not to her: $0

Tomato that grows an inch during cold weather: Priceless.

(And if things don't go 100% well and the cheap-o drop cloth develops holes?

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Tape.

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Unfortunately, my apparent brilliance was short-lived. Today was unseasonably sunny and warm. Guess what I bought today? Guess what happens Tuesday night?

Posted by Ryan at 06:27 PM | Comments (9)

May 13, 2009

Kamel-Kaptioning Kontest!

(Comments closed for spam-avoidance. Will post something new soon!)

Cuzzin Tom is having a Kamel-Kaptioning Kontest so, since I have the smartest and wittiest readers around, I say go on over and play! Make me proud, Dear Readers! (His comments are moderated so you'll have to wait until he posts them.)

If for no other reason, fiberistas (and fiberistos?) should go to larf at the funny photos of camels newly shorn for their wool.

Posted by Ryan at 09:58 AM | Comments (1)

May 11, 2009

Bunny Attack!

In my last entry I wrote how on my journey south to my car in the morning, I inevitably drift helplessly north to my little vegetable garden first. And in the evening, despite my attempts to head directly to my door, I drift right past the door to the garden for another peek. Which is why Friday, as soon as I arrived home, I discovered this:

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Discovered what, you ask? It’s a vegetable bed; we know you have a vegetable bed; you’ve told us so ad nauseum. Not the bed; the stuff in the bed. See, when I left in the morning, other than the baby veggies, the only other thing in the bed was the decorative stake in the upper-right-hand corner. Everything else? New. Not of my purchasing. Not of my installing. My garden had been guerrilla cute-ed!

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By process of elimination, I have narrowed the gardening-guerrilla list to one of two fellow knitters, initials GB or LK. Anyone want to confess? Hmm?

Whoever you are, however you thought this might affect me, it so did. I gaped, I stared, I touched, I doubted my eyes, I may possibly have hopped the bunnies across the dirt going “boing, boing, boing,” and finally…I cried. Not a lot, but there was definite ocular leakage. Thank you for this wonderful RAOK that I am enjoying so much.

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I’m still plugging away on the Good-Enough Gansey which is, however, rapidly becoming the Merely Tolerable Gansey. I’m still determined to finish it, though, as evidenced by a particularly bulldoggish, stubborn set to my jaw whenever I work on it. I’m thisclose to finishing the body, which was knit in the round and then split for the back and the front. The front is done, the back was 1” away from being done but some froggage happened last night. It played out thusly:

I'm knitting, knitting, knitting, feeling bulldoggish, accomplished, smug, excited about almost being done with the hard part.

I lift the sweater up to enjoy my handiwork. My stomach drops as I see a mistake.

I remind myself that the mistake is on the back, that it wouldn't be noticeable by someone who stared at the sweater for even a good hour, that this is the Good-Enough Gansey and that mistakes are allowed, tolerated, encouraged, even desirable.

Convinced, I pick up the needles and start off again, confident, reassured, committed to the idea of knitting an imperfect sweater.

This renewed enthusiasm and idealism lasts for all of 20 stitches, however, at which point I start to knit more and more slowly, and then more slowly, my shoulders sag, and the bulldog set to my jaw vanishes. Finally, I stop knitting altogether, and drop the sweater despondently in my lap as I realize that good enough doesn't cut it. I lose the mental battle, and a measurable amount of frogging quickly follows. It now remains to be seen whether the bulldog or the frog will win.

Posted by Ryan at 11:57 AM | Comments (13)

May 07, 2009

Six Years. Who Woulda Thunk?

In belated honor of six years of blogging (as of April 21), a new blog banner! I’m insufferably pleased with myself about this because I’m as good with graphics as I am with gardening or cooking. True, on my monitor, the moss is a hideous, radioactive neon green but meh. Of course, now that I’ve figured out how to crop photos to just the right size, add text and upload the new banner, I may become a banner-changing fool. Don’t get too attached to this one. Just sayin’. (Yes, I’m talking to you, Ken.)

carrotpic.gifDespite the ants’ best efforts, carrots are up! Or, more accurately, carrot is up. It’s this big -- | -- and a stiff breeze would whack it straight to the ground but I’m thrilled. I believe at the moment of discovery, I actually squealed, “You go, little carrot!” and clapped my hands. Some happy foot-shuffling may also have been involved. (My little veggie bed is in the opposite direction of the gate I go through to get to my car in the morning but somehow I accidentally manage to swing by the bed and squint at it on my way to the car. Is this normal?)

Also belated, photos from last Saturday’s Dye Day hosted by MaryB and attended by many of my fabulous local knitting homies. Remember this yarn?

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As much as I joke about the special yarns that I would grab if the house caught on fire, I would truly scoop up these yarn cakes on my panicked way out of the house since they are unique and irreplaceable: a gift from the Cuzz, and a true Mongolian camel yarn, intensely homespun in look, feel, color and…er…smell (not bad, just earthy, musty, animal-y). Thanks to Dye Day, they now look like this (only darker and tweedier):

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As my mother would say, “I am pickled tink.”

Dye Day is a huge event and I am always over-the-top appreciative when one of our group volunteers to host one. These two pictures show only part of the equipment MaryB & Friends set up: chairs, tables, powdered dyes, liquid dyes, pans, buckets, tarps, plastic wrap, vinegar, electric slow cookers, propane stoves, string, strips of cloth, paper towels, towels, water, wooden spoons, tongs, roving, yarn, extension cords, wool winders, swifts…and all set up under MaryB’s deck since Mother Nature chose not to cooperate.

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While, granted, I did arrive after all the hard work was done, I did my part which, judging from the evidence, was much appreciated:

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The fruits of our labors:

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The Gold Medal winner of the day, Evanne’s sock yarn which was white when she started. This picture doesn’t come close to doing justice to the beautiful, rich colors and the sheen and glow of the yarn.

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Camel yarn, transformed:

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Proof, albeit blurry, of a day well spent:

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More photos, including one particularly boobalicious one of your blog mistress (and not in a pretty way) can be found here and here.


Posted by Ryan at 02:39 PM | Comments (10)

May 04, 2009

The Battle Is Joined

How the blogosphere conspires to influence my life, and how real life conspires to undermine that influence:

One+ years ago, under Norma’s influence, I bought one of these

…and, under Rachael and Lala’s influence, I decided to venture into the world of square-foot gardening

…and recently I put A and B together and started a little 9'-square-foot vegetable bed, despite being a life-time member of the Black Thumb Society (I proudly wear the t-shirt).

As I was reading up on vegetable and planter gardening, I was made painfully aware—with what seemed like unnecessarily sadistic glee on the part of the authors of the reference materials—of what I was in for, all the potential threats to my efforts: squirrels, birds, slugs, snails, raccoons, cats, rats…so I was Prepared. Loins were girded, wand was at the ready. Or so I thought.

A week ago Saturday I planted lettuce seeds and carrot seeds and went blithely on with life, knowing that, for the nonce, there was nothing in the garden that could be eaten, chewed, mowed down, consumed, dug up, peed on, pooped on, gacked on…

ant3.bmpFast forward five days. I peek maternally at my garden and notice a little movement on the surface of the dirt, which doesn’t bother me particularly since I expected various insects and worms to move right on in to the new neighborhood. Until I looked a little closer and realized the movement was an army of ants…stealing my lettuce seeds, each little soldier determinedly and stolidly marching off with one seed. I sighed, conceded to myself that it was actually adorable, and let them go on about their single-minded Borg-like business.

Two days later the seeds sprouted and I could plainly see that the ants had done very little damage because, as, again, a card-carrying member of the Black Thumb Society, I had planted wuh-ay too many seeds (unless lettuce is supposed to sprout as thick as grass). But I wonder…what else does Mother Nature have in store for me?

Posted by Ryan at 11:30 AM | Comments (10)