Saturday, June 21, 2008


I took this image of an octagonal barn a couple of years ago in Washington County. They look funny but they're not unknown in this part of the country, where the winds can be fierce and it makes sense to shape a barn to divert the windforce while maximizing storage space. This one is being maintained very well - so I took the shot. And about 2 weeks ago at farmer's market, a lady bought a small print of it and told me she might paint it.

Well, today, look who stopped by:
Isn't that cool? My work is immortalized on canvas! She says it "felt" like a winter scene, so she made it into one. But she really likes painting barns, and may make a set of paintings of it in all four seasons. I made her promise to stop by and show me when she did it!

Market was busy today, in the sense that a lot of people strolled by. The produce is finally starting to come in and I was next to the strawberry man today. He sold completely out of his berries, called his son to bring another 52 quarts, and sold out of them 20 minutes before market closed. I think it's safe to say that after the long, cold winter, we are all anxious for a taste of summer.

Bill and Suzie, some friends from church, also stopped by the market. Bill is retired and having some health issues, so they had made an arrangement with another vendor there to sell off their silk-screened shirts (pencil drawings of the train station, etc.) at clearance prices. The vendor they'd made the deal with was home sick today though, so I offered to put their stuff in my booth. It really worked out well - it filled in blank spaces to make my booth look fuller, and drew eyes my way, which resulted in more attention to my own stuff. Besides, I'm always happy to do a favor for a friend. I managed to move several of their items, which made them happy, and they insisted on giving me a percentage of their sales which while unnecessary was not completely unwelcome. In the end, I agreed to take their bins of stock home for the week and show them again next weekend while they're out of town. Their gratitude was completely out of proportion with the effort, and I might want one of those train station t-shirts myself.

In between chatting with customers, I also finally managed to finish the mango & papaya baby blanket for Baby Lauren. The colors were a request, and it's still a little brighter than I might have done on my own. But I had several people compliment it on their way by this morning, and I'm sure the baby will like the soft texture. It's an 18 stitch repeat feather & fan with a 2 stitch garter edge, done in a really slick eyelash that gave me fits once or twice, mixed with a fuzzy novelty yarn. I think I'll put tassels on all four corners, and then send it to Michigan by messenger next weekend.

And that's that. I also got back to the mohair mobius wrap for a few moments, but discovered a dropped stitch and had to put it aside until I could grab a suitably small crochet hook to fix it. So I put it back and cast on for a quick cotton market bag. Idle hands, and all that.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Second Wingtip Finished!!!

I finally finished the last bit of the last section of the Tree of Life shawl which required orchid lace. Now all I have to do is a couple little strips of edging lace for the leading and trailing edges, and it's done! Done! DONE! This project has been a regular quest, and by far the largest and most complex bit of knitting I've ever done. Tammy's already got the first wingtip seamed onto the main shawl, and it looks wonderful. I can't wait to set the whole thing up, photograph it, and get it on it's way to its new home. Ta DA!
Next challenge: finding my Barbara Walker Volume 2, so I can get the pattern for that leaf lace edging. I had the book sitting next to the computer for a few weeks as inspiration, but now I can't find it anywhere. It's got to be in either the dining room, living room or my bedroom, and two out of three of those rooms are going to have a major cleaning experience this weekend in preparation for Luc's graduation party next weekend. Also, Rick and I finally went out and bought a cheap bookshelf at Wally World to hold my knitting books and patterns until he has a chance to finish the really nice one languishing in his workshop. I'll be putting el cheepo together and organizing my patterns on it this weekend, so chances are pretty good that I'll come across what I'm looking for one way or another. Still - big, pretty, bright red, very important book: missing. It's very frustrating.
And lastly, things I learned on my morning walk today:
(a) I'm not sure if it was because of today being Friday, or because I happened to be walking about 20 minutes earlier than usual, but I didn't have to share the road with dump trucks full of gravel whizzing by today. I'm guessing it has something to do with the hours kept by the gravel pit a few miles west of my house. I thought for a split second about getting up earlier on a more regular basis to explore this - - and then that mood passed.
(b) Don't talk to the creepy guy in the long beard, plaid shirt, cutoffs and work boots who apparently lives at the farm east of my turn-around point. I met him coming down his driveway this morning and said something cheerful about his cows not being out today. Before I knew it, he was following me along the edge of his yard trying to keep the conversation going. And when I came back that way on my return leg, he was coming around the corner towards me, trying to strike up another conversation with comments on walking and the location of the cows and where was I coming from anyway? (I just said, "over that way" and waved vaguely East.)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Making Hay

I have no idea why rustic geometry and practical precision fascinate me so much; but when I see the rows of sprouts peeking up out of the dirt, or the corduroy effect of fresh cut hay drying in the sun, I just have to play with my camera. Last night on the way home I passed a field that was being cut. From the look of it, the owners were hobby farmers, since this guy was out there with a tiny rusty geriatric tractor mowing an undulating field on the side of a low hill. I pulled over and whipped out my camera, then discovered that my batteries had run dead. I always carry extra batteries for just that kind of emergency, but my purse strap broke the other day and I hadn't transferred all my worldly possessions into a different bag yet. So I scooted the last mile home, grabbed the batteries, flew back - and the guy with the tractor was gone. Coulda been a great shot.

Anyway, I puttered around the neighboring fields a bit, trying my telephoto out on a few things, and discovered yet again that I don't think much of my telephoto. It just attenuates too much of the light, and I'm not impressed with images that look dingy and have dark corners.

Bottom line - the pics shown are really a poor expression of the interesting stuff going on around here during first cut. And after getting 14" of rain earlier this month, the growing things are trying to take over the world - which lends a certain urgency to the whole enterprise.

And last of all, I ran home, did some weeding and attempted to mow down the sumac seedlings attempting a coup in the west yard. It turns out the carburetor on my mower has suddenly malfunctioned, and it will only run for 20 seconds or so at a time. Rick promises he will take a look at it before those sumac's are knocking on the window . . . .

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Happy Accidents

Back when I was in training at Keesler Air Force Base (long, long ago in a land far away), something rather unexpected happened. I was NOT dieting or even watching what I ate, which was often pizza and beer or other junk food. But I was doing PT 3 times a week - just a few calisthenics and a 2 mile run - and more importantly, I was marching to class to the tune of 2 miles a day, and dancing all night at the Airman's Club. And I just sort of accidentally lost a lot of weight and got very fit and even managed a tan. It was the only time in my life when I actually liked my body, and it happened completely without any special sacrifices or personal commitments. Then of course I graduated and went on to my permanent assignment, which did not include marching 10 miles a week, PT, or an Airman's Club (although I did manage to keep up on the pizza and beer). And that was that.

I've thought a lot about that one summer of the size 5 bikini, and tried to figure out how to duplicate the results in some sort of civilian (and civil) fashion, which is part of the reason I've been walking in the morning over the last two weeks. I'm past the part where the morning walk is a refreshing slice of life, although it still has its charms. Late last week I spotted the first wild rose of the season down by the train tracks, and yesterday I spooked a young doe who was up past her bedtime. But I hope I'm establishing a routine that will just become part of my day, like those marches to class in Mississippi. I'm trying to exercise accidentally, as part of my normal day, rather than in purposeful dedicated time that I may be tempted to skip once I start feeling lazy. So far, I've walked a total of 16 miles in the last two weeks. And I bought myself one of those exercise balls, because I'm hearing that just the simple act of sitting on them (instead of the couch) exercises a lot of those little "balance" muscles, and I like the idea of exercising while I knit or read e-mail or whatever. And I bought myself some of those weighted gloves that add 1 pound to each hand and wore them during my walk this morning. (Can't hurt, might help.) And I'm two weeks into the Thursday night yoga class they're holding at church. And there's all that lifting and running around I do as part of the farmer's market set-up and tear-down.
So, I am not doing an exercise program, just like I am not on a diet. I am simply making minor adjustments to my daily routine.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

For Want of Chocolate

I ran to Evans over my lunch break on Monday - one of those small-town stores where if they don't have it, you didn't really need it anyway. They have a surprisingly good color selection in single skeins of Sugar & Creme, and I found a matching ball of the tan color from the baby surprise sweater. Okaaaaay, but it wasn't my first choice. I bought it, just the same. (They also had the "country brown ombre" represented elsewhere in the sweater, but the browns in the dye lot available just didn't have that rich chocolate tone so I put that one back.)

Yesterday evening I somehow wandered an extra 20 minutes South on my way home from work to the Saukville Wally World, which has an excellent color selection of 1 lb cones of Peachese & Creme. At $4.04 per gallon for the cheap stuff (and the sticker on my gas cap says I'm only supposed to use the premium gas), I'm not exactly sure how this happened. It's just that I was convinced the sweater needed, nay, was destined to have an all-chocolate button band and edge. And since I hadn't seen the chocolate yarn at Evans, and I have a pretty good eye for color variations, I was pretty sure that it was a Peaches & Creme shade that I would find in Saukville. And sure enough, I walked out of there with a big cone of chocolate cotton, and maybe a couple of other pounds that just somehow jumped into my cart. ($6.97 each - how can you not? And I owed it to myself to ensure that the gas had been expended as efficiently as possible.)

But when I got home - it was a different chocolate. Ghiradelli vs. Nestle - just the kind of subtle difference that I would hate if I tried to ignore it. And so, after all that, I finished it with the chai-colored yarn after all. At least I found some little pseudo-leather buttons in an appropriate brown, which may look cute.

And now for something completely different - the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life of Sheboygan County is scheduled to begin on Friday, July 18, 2008 at 10:00 p.m. at the Sheboygan Falls High School, with volunteers walking the track continuously until the next afternoon. They have a bunch of dedicated laps, including the survivor's lap - always, ALWAYS makes me weepy - and the lighting of the luminaries. I'll be walking on behalf of my friend Michelle, one of the most loving, giving, saintly persons ever to work a church kitchen, who battled breast cancer for decades and was able to watch both her teens graduate from high school before going on to her reward about a year ago. And I will walk with my Aunt Jo in mind, another heroic woman who left the world a slightly dimmer place with her loss (again, to breast cancer). And there are, of course, others.

If you would like to sponsor me, drop me an e-mail at jascott at excel dot net. (I hope I don't regret posting that online!) Paypal is probably the easiest, although I'm not well enough educated to figure out how to add a button here. Or donations can be sent care of First Congregational UCC, 1405 Highway 67, Plymouth, WI 53073. (Again, I really hope I don't regret posting that online.)

Thank you.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Knitting in Public

I finished the second cotton "farmer's market" shawl on Friday night (and didn't photograph it, because you've seen enough of them by now to get the idea). But Saturday was not only Farmer's Market day, but annual World Wide Knitting In Public Day. Even if I hadn't been sitting at the market tending to my knitting (as it were), I needed something on my needles which would be interesting and appropriate, but which wouldn't demand more attention than I could spare. Solution: a baby surprise sweater in cotton. Besides, what would WWKIP day be without Elizabeth Zimmerman?
I actually had one customer come up to me at the farmer's market, recognize the pattern, and then recall that it was WWKIP day. I even got to do my knitterly duty by her, since she was working on the same pattern and was confused by the amoeba-like appearance of the work in progress. (I am personally forever amazed that EZ came up with this pattern in the first place. Most human minds just don't work that way.) But I was using up scraps and started with the tan, progressing to the ombre and finally the chocolate brown. I should have had plenty of the chocolate, since I started with a full skein and also should have had a separate ball representing the leftovers from my own cotton shawl. I am now 8 rows from the end - 8 stinkin' rows - and can't find the stupid ball of chocolate. I must have given it to one of the new knitters I was helping at the Winter Weekend retreat. Michaels is sold out of the ombre, which would have been my next choice, and Wally World doesn't have the chocolate or the tan in stock. So I had to put the whole thing on hold until I can get to a more well-stocked vendor. Did I mention I only have 8 stupid rows to go?
Meanwhile, we've completed our shake-down period at the farmer's market and are starting to feel organized. I'm now in my "permanent position," stall 15 - and lucky to have it, since it's one of the few where you can sell your goods from two sides. I wasn't intimidated by the elderly ladies katty-corner from me, who are selling crocheted afghans and washcloths. Their products are a completely different style, and have that distinct "grandma's house" tone about them. I have noticed, however, that two stalls east of me are some older ladies selling fabulous cabled wool sweaters. The term which immediately sprung to mind was "serf's work" - an old Russian expression for something so labor-intensive that it wouldn't be practical to produce if you had to pay a living wage to the craftsperson. I'm charging $75 for a shawl that takes me about 12 hours and about $15 in materials to produce. I justify my $5 per hour wage by saying it's fill-in work performed while I'm riding or watching TV or whatever. I just don't have the heart to see what they're charging for those beautiful sweaters, but I'll bet it's not nearly enough. Oh, and there's a photographer around the corner, selling prints and cards and such; but she seems to specialize in close-ups of flowers, so my barns and farm gear and cows and landscape stuff shouldn't be too much of a conflict.
But the real surprise was to discover the lady from Hares to Ewe has a regular stall there - kind of like discovering that your favorite bakery just opened a branch outside your kitchen window. This time I was good - just bought a couple of grab bags of odds & ends which will be useful for colorwork. But I'm going to have to be on my guard.

That's about it. Father's day - Rick got the Garmin he's been hinting about, and when I chatted with Dad about 8:00 in the evening he was sounding a little put out that I was the first of the children to actually get in touch with him. And today I'm doing my Erin Brockovich thing again - I love it when I get paid to drive around in the sunshine and chat with people.

Onward and upward!