Thursday, February 27, 2014

O is for Octopus

My first memory of an Octopus is at the Undersea Gardens in Crescent City, California, now known as Ocean World. It was a barge that I believe was submerged below the water level and had tanks with all kinds of fish and other sea creatures.  A diver would swim through the tanks and at some point in the show would poke at the octopus and get him to shoot ink at him. My favorite thing to do was to go there and then go to the Ship Ashore restaurant for dinner afterwords. I think this was my usual request for a birthday dinner until we moved away from the area when I was ten.

Octopi are really smart. My daughter told me recently about  lab that was studying different types of marine life and they would come into the lab in the morning and the fish tanks would be empty. This continued to happen - they finally set up a web cam overnight and it turned out that the octopus was escaping from his tank, opening the tops of the other tanks, eating the fish and then returning to his own tank and closing the top after himself (how polite can you be?).

There are several patterns on Ravelry right now with Octopus on them. I so badly want to make them.  I love the Embrace Octopus Sweater pattern. I think it's gorgeous. I added it to my queue for future projects. I think it would be so beautiful in a charcoal gray background and a light gray for the octopus.

If you click on the projects tab, you can see other interpretations of the sweater. They possibilities are pretty endless.  I wish I were a talented enough knitter to take what I see an apply it to other patterns. At this point I have to follow the pattern exactly - I am not good enough to adjust for size or apply a pattern other garments.

I guess I will just have to keep practicing. Darn it.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

N for Niddy Noddy

If you are a knitter as I am, you probably know what a niddy-noddy is. Or, maybe not. I just learned what one is recently.

A niddy-noddy is a tool for winding yarn into a skein, the beautiful twists of yarns that await your inspiration for turning them into a something gorgeous.

I prefer looking at yarn wound into skein rather than 'caked' (a cylinder that pulls from the middle). I can feel the weight and visualize how it will knit up better in the skein than in a cake.

My favorite pastime outside of knitting and cooking (and reading too) is to peruse a new yarn store. I don't do it often because it ends up costing me more than is reasonable on my income at this time. Plus, I have so much yarn it's hard to justify buying more until I finish the projects in my current queue.

I originally learned to knit from my babysitter when I was six or seven. My mother was into knitting at the time, a cherry red sweater vest with a cable pattern and pearled buttons on the front. I knitted a red blanket for my barbie dolls. Later, I started an afghan with a chevron pattern in the earth tones that were so popular in the early 70's. I'm still not overly fond of earth tones, but like them better than I did then.

I didn't knit after that until I was in college. I needed a pastime for the evening when my then infant daughter was sleeping and I wasn't doing homework. I made a fair isle style pullover and took a knitting class at the local yarn store. I also started a blue cardigan that is still languishing on the needles. It had bobbles and a subtle lace pattern. Sometimes I think I will finish it, but instead I think I will unwind it and save the yarn. It's a beautiful cotten silk blend that is a bit nubby. I can see it as a scarf/mitt combo or even a pair of stockings.  I'll figure it out eventually.

I also have a sweater that I knit for my daughter that only needs assembly and a button band. I think if I hurry, my youngest granddaughter who is about to turn two will be able to wear it.

I didn't knit again for many years. I picked it back up again when I was getting ready for surgery. I started simple, with a pair of slippers. The pattern is from Fibre Trends for felted clogs. I have since made several pairs, for my family, friends and myself. That also has led to several sweaters, scarves, dishcloths, cowls, and hats among other things.

I think knitting appeals to me because it offers me a creative outlet but still is very linear so doesn't require me to completely set aside the analytic part of my brain that is always present due to my profession.

I love the community of knitters. was a revelation to me. The best way to explain it is that is Facebook for knitters, crocheters and spinners. It was the first place I found that I didn't feel like I needed to hide my knitting. There are young, old, middle-aged and everything in between knitters there sharing their patterns, their FO's (finished objects) and advice. It's almost as wonderful as a knitting group. Due to demands of my business, I haven't been able to attend some of the knitting groups I've tried out over the last few years, but am hoping to be able to soon. In the meantime, Ravelry has turned out to be a great substitute and supplement once I'm able to participate again.

I don't get nearly as much time as I would like to knit, but am hoping to change that soon. It keeps my hands occupied, keeps my mind active and the satisfaction of creating something handmade makes me happy. I look forward to the day when I can retire and spend time knitting sweaters for the great-grandchildren I hope  have then.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Creosote and Pantyhose

After three years, I'm finally at a place where I feel like I have something to say again. It's been an eventful three years - three new roommates, a move (across the street but stressful nonetheless), left a job and started a business among other things.

So, I'm starting this blog anew. A blog about knitting, food, and family.

We had a couple days this week that were almost spring-like.  Weather above freezing, blue skies (pale, but blue all the same) and a lot less snow by the end of the day.  Still sub-freezing temperatures to come, but much better than it has been by far.

We are starting to plan our garden for the year. We have a 10x15 plot at a community garden. I'm trying to come up with a plan that will maximize our yield. I'm using a tool I found at GrowVeg. I'm impressed so far with the tool. You can search your location to see what others are doing. I just received my first email advice telling me it's time to seed my onions indoors. The timing is based on my local climate and according to the website, they will prompt us to set starts out, harvest and rotate crops.

My next step is to plan the container gardening for our porch and patio. I love having a home where I don't have to to mow, prune trees, or the best part, shovel snow (which we have had more than our share of this year), the drawback is that there is no where for me to have a garden at home.

My grandmother passed away last month. When I was a little girl and we would visit in the summer, my sister and I would help her in her garden. They lived at Lake Pend Oreille in Idaho near the town of Athol. The property was a lakefront home on a very steep slope so my grandfather had put in terraces using railroad ties. I still remember the smell of the creosote oozing out of the ties and to this day I associate that order with gardening. At the end of a hot afternoon working in the garden, we could go down to the lake and jump in.  The Pend Oreille is very cold - it's the 5th deepest freshwater lake in the lower 48. We would never last long in the water, my sister would be blue and shivering after a few minutes and I wouldn't last much longer.

I'm looking forward to a garden this year, I think mostly because it's the best way I can think of to pay homage to my grandma. She was very connected to the earth, as the daughter of farmers and she and my grandfather farmed for a time near Lapwai Idaho. Even in her later years when she still lived on her own in Vancouver, Washington, she always had a garden with flowers and tomatoes and herbs at the very least.

I hope that my granddaughters will become connected to her through me. She wasn't always an easy person to be with, but I value all that I learned from her. When she passed, my daughter and I realized that we are using all of the lessons we learned from her in frugality. We laugh over some of the sillier things, like the pantyhose with no legs and the peeled Asparagus, but we appreciate the lessons in making things last, fixing them, and making do with what you have.