FO: floating down.

Which, incidentally, also describes my back pain: floating down in intensity. I’ve got a massage scheduled for as soon as I’m done teaching tomorrow morning, and that should make it a lot better. Thank you for all of your kind comments. I’ve been trying to take it easy while still getting  my work done. It’s going to be another busy week… (I feel like I’ve been saying that a lot this semester!) Anyway, do you want to see some handspun?

I thought so.

This is Hello Yarn 75% BFL/25% Tussah Silk in Floating Down, spun as singles. I ended up with just over 400 yards of this delicious stuff. What should I make?

Boh is excited.

Or not. (Silly, silly dog.)

We took a long, slow walk with a friend and her dog on Friday, which seemed to help with my back twinge. Along the way, we saw this bald eagle! (Apologies for the poor photo quality — I took this with my iphone, and zoomed in as much as I could.)

We also saw this Great Blue Heron. Boh and Madigan were too busy focusing on all the Canadian Geese to notice.

I got sorrel in my CSA box this week, and sauteed it with butter and onions and leftover rice. It was delicious.

And last night, I made a big batch of Heidi’s Millet Fried Rice, from Super Natural Cooking. I’d forgotten how much I like millet — and how much I like this recipe. Basically, you cook the millet, and when that’s almost done, you make a super thin egg pancake, by melting butter with some toasted sesame oil in a large pan, beating a couple of eggs as if to make an omelette, and then pouring in the egg. You swirl the eggs around to get a really thin layer, and then fold the eggs over on themselves once they are cooked enough to let you do that. Shortly after that, you remove the egg from the pan, and then stirfry whatever veggies you’re using in a super hot pan, and then you add the millet, some soy sauce, and then you slice the egg pancake into strips and add that, too. I topped mine with onion sprouts and some canned roasted red pepper, both from my spring CSA box. I might have eaten this for lunch and dinner today, too.

Also, last night was Earth Hour, and I participated by turning off as much electricity as possible in my home, and lighting some candles to read by. While I believe that lifestyle activism on its own isn’t enough, I like doing this, and it is nice to remind myself how much I enjoy turning everything off for awhile. I certainly recognize my own privilege in all of this –and that not everyone has the power to make this choice. Still, this is about mindfulness for me. I didn’t really plan ahead, in terms of what I might read, so I was scrambling for something as the official time approached.

I ended up spending part of my hour reading some Mary Oliver poems. The book I’m teaching this week opens with Oliver’s Wild Geese” as the epigraph, which I read to my students on Wednesday. It begins, “You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees/ For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.” It was nice to read it by candlelight.

Looks like today’s photos are all in pairs. I like it. Also, Happy April!

OWCH.

So, I went to bed last night sleepy after a good day of work and play. And then I woke up around 5 am — or rather, I think I went to roll over, and a not-so-pleasant twinge in my back woke me up. I think my hours of writing are catching up with me. Anyway, it took me forever to get myself out of bed and to the Advil. I was very sleepy, and muttering things like, “I need help. There’s no one here to help me” to myself. (Not helpful.) Poor Boh was very confused. The Advil helped me to get back to sleep, and when I actually got up, it became clear that while I was a bit more mobile than I’d been in the middle of a REM cycle, I was not doing a good job of turning my head to the right. OWCH.

Some stretching, some coffee, and a phone call to a massage therapist, and I’m feeling a little better. I’m functioning, but slowly. (And I’ve got an appointment for a massage.) If this is what 30 feels like, I don’t like it one bit. I’ve got a conference paper and a diss-chapter-chunk to finish up, both of which will likely progress more slowly now that my neck and back are in revolt. Boo. Allow me to distract you (and myself) with some pictures of very pretty fiber:

Floating Down (Hello Yarn Fiber Club, 75% BFL/25% Tussah Silk) singles on the bobbin.

A close-up, pre-soak.

Draped over my arm. Aren’t these colors lovely?

The whole thing, ready to air dry. I’ve got just over 400 yards of singles here, and I can’t wait to cast on something in it. I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to take a few days off from yarn and fiber to let this twinge in my neck/back heal, but at least I can daydream about shawl and cowl patterns, right?

FO: fireside chat.

150 yards of soft, squishy 2-ply BFL from AVFKW. I am so happy with the way this poofed up with washing. Tough to photograph the subtle depth of this colorway — lots of different shades of pinks, some pale purple-y grays, even some taupe. (Not as orange as it looks above.) Even Boh approves.  This is destined to be birthday yarn for my friend H – she’ll get it soon. (I forgot to bring it with me to campus today.)

Gorgeous day today — clear sky, lots of sun. I owe Boh a long walk, so that’s where we’re headed.

FO: reflection.

Swoon. 178 yards of some of the squishiest, evenest, prettiest 2-ply bfl I have ever spun.  So excited to get this in the mail to a dear friend. (This is Southern Cross Fibres bfl, from the July 2010 Fiber Club, in Reflection.) There are some leftovers on my bobbins, so I should have enough for a small skein to toss into my bag(s) o’ handspun for later. If that doesn’t make Monday just a bit more bearable, I don’t know what does.

pie and plying.

First of all, thanks for all of your input on my handspun blanket. This time around, the oranges have it, and I am hoping to make some time to wind yarn later today!

I wore my Sunday Market Shawl yesterday, and it was just the burst of color I needed. I reach for this far less often than I thought I would — maybe because of the colors — but it certainly brightens my day when I wear it out of the house. Someday I’ll get around to actually blocking this…

Meet the first pie (for me) of fall. Pears from the tree in the yard of friends, plus one apple to fill out the pie pan, and a crumb topping. Delicious. In fact, this is reheating in the oven right now.

I plied most of my SCF bfl in the reflection colorway while the pie baked, and today I have plans to wash the yarn and set the twist.

Okay, time for pie!

blanket possibilities.

Nope, no hidden meaning in this blog post title. I’m going to cast on a blanket out of mostly handspun as a test-knit for Cosy (you know, and a treat for me!), and I’m looking for some input!

Here’s the first option: greys, reds, burnt-oranges.

And here’s another: greys, yellows, greens, a touch of lavender. What do you think? Pairing solid/commerical yarns is tough enough, so I’d appreciate any thoughts you folks have about how to choose yarns for a project (ahem, for this project!) out of a pile of handspun. Thanks!

Other things going on around here:

I finished spinning the second bobbin of the SCF bfl in the reflection colorway. Boh helped.

A lot.

And I’m making progress on my windschief hat. The more I knit on this, the more in love I am with both the pattern and this yarn. In fact, I’m going to let myself knit a few rows before I dig into the work I’d like to accomplish before I head to campus…

peaches + bourbon = weekend.

I subbed bourbon for the rum in Kaela’s Pirate Peaches, and boy, am I excited to enjoy these. My entire kitchen (okay, apartment) smells slightly of sweetness and spirits. (Yep, present tense. Batch number 2 is simmering away on the stove, prompted by the fact that a tiny piece of peach prevented one of my jars from sealing properly. Rather than re-process a single jar, I dumped the contents back into the pot with another pile of peaches that were macerating in the fridge, along with the partial jar of leftovers that I didn’t process yesterday [to get me back up to 3 lbs of peaches], added more sugar, more booze, and the appropriate amounts of lemon juice and zest, and I am once again enjoying the aroma of peaches simmering in bourbon.) This time, I’m going to try to get the peaches a bit softer than they were yesterday, and I may even break out the immersion blender to make more of a sauce. I ran into trouble yesterday with the ratio of end-of-season peaches (which I think are harder than peak juicy peaches) to booze/syrup, which is why I had some leftovers.

Also, I have no idea what kind of peaches I picked up at the orchard, but I can tell you that they are not freestone. (Ask me how I know that.) Also, the skins did not slip off as I expected they would, which made for some serious peach wrangling…good thing the bourbon makes it worth it. Another lesson from this project? Simmer peaches with the lid (mostly) on. There may have been a slightly sticky residue coating much of the kitchen floor this morning…

See? I also did some spinning. I am mostly through the second bobbin of my reflection SCF bfl, and am looking forward to plying this soon. Happy weekend!

rooster can can.

(A tired joke in canning circles, to be sure. But it is early, and I need a title for my blog post…)

On Sunday morning, I woke up early and set to making a full batch of tomato puree (a la Local Kitchen again). I paused mid-puree to take a picture. (That food mill was actually tucked way in the back of one of my kitchen cabinets when I moved in, despite the fact that my apartment was previously occupied by a solitary male undergrad who made a big mess of the stove and otherwise, to my eye, anyway, did not use the kitchen so much. Whenever I move out of this apartment, I’m taking it with me.) I simmered and simmered the juices from several quarts of paste tomatoes, and ended up with 7 pints of tomato puree.

I am in love with the super bright red of this puree — and am excited to be able to make homemade sauce from on-hand ingredients later this winter! (I also see adding this to hearty soups and stews.)

It is Tuesday again, which means farm day, and I am still struggling to put up all of the additional produce we picked in the fields last week! These peppers need to be frozen or pickled, and I’ve got a full canvas bag full of green beans that need attention.

The canning pot is on the stove, and the jars are on their way to being sterilized for a batch of dilly beans. I’m intending to pick as much as I can this afternoon and then try to freeze or can in all of my spare time this week. Temps have been in the high 40s at night here in town, and up at the farm, the first frost is imminent (after which, much of the field produce that is available for preserving/freezing will be done for the season). I’m just going to keep doing that can can until then — it is (and will be) super rewarding, but man, preserving is exhausting! I may have gotten into bed at 9:30 last night.

I did grant myself a small break from canning on Sunday night, and instead, sat down at my wheel to listen to a podcast or two and finish up the first bobbin of this bfl from SCF in the Reflection colorway. I love these colors, and am really excited to spin up bobbin #2, get this plied together and washed, and then in the mail to a dear friend who knits. (It would be nice to get this to her before the cold comes, so that she has time to knit herself something warm with it!)

Okay, time to pour another cup of coffee and get back to those beans!

FO: sadia.

This is  2 oz. of BFL from A Verb For Keeping Warm in the Sadia colorway — my very first purchase from Verb. I wrestled with these singles a bit, but I’m quite pleased with the way these turned out, and I now have 203 yards of this stuff! (Also, singles dry so quickly! Thank you, warm weather.) I think I’m going to spin up 3 oz. of black bfl from Verb and then see if I will have enough yardage for a handspun daybreak shawl. My singles might not be plump enough to sub for fingering weight, as the pattern calls for, so I’m going to have to wait and see how my gauge compares.

It feels great to be back at the wheel. Also, I photographed this skein on top of an open cookbook in the kitchen. Yesterday I baked some banana bread, but failed to actually look at how hot an oven the recipe called for…which means the loaf was slightly charred around the edges. Still good, but man! I think my brain is officially on vacation. I’ll allow it for today, but soon it will be time to get into a summer mode of productivity.

Happy Wednesday!