Thursday, August 31, 2006

UFO update

Note: Tomorrow I will post about our yarn adventures in Vermont. Incidentally, I did not know about Kaleidoscope Yarns until I got home (when I heard about it from some of my S-n-Bers as well as from y'all)--and I had no idea Webs was so close! The place we went, for those of you who would like to guess some more, is actually in Putney....

But for today, UFO wrap-up:

For this month, following a brilliant knit-along called UFO August, I set myself the goal of finishing some UFOs and WIPs. Thanks to the support and encouragement of the KAL members, I actually finished 6 of the projects I had in my baskets!

1. Icarus
See finished shawl

2. Linen Feather and Fan Stole

3. Irish Hiking Scarf

4. Must Have Cardigan

5. Blue Socks

6. Laura Ingalls shawl

A present for a young friend, here modelled by Snow White's evil witch bearing a tomato a poisioned apple and by a friendly pirate.

7. Pi Shawl
While this is not an FO, it has turned from UFO to active WIP. All that is left is about 80% of the edging. It requires a great deal of attention compared to what I have these days, so it is slow going. But it IS going now!

8. Birthday Bunnies in Ballarina Suits
No progress

9. Birthday Fairytale Mice
No progress

Unfortunately, I also seem to have acquired a couple of new unfinished projects:

1. A sock, always a good project to have on the needles:

2. And a knit-in-the-car seed stitch soy silk shawl:

But hey, they don't have to be finished until NEXT August, right?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Ravenous Raven: Eating in Vermont

This week we ate local in Vermont. One day we stopped by a roadside store and maple syrup production facility to purchase some local foods.

We took them to the Putney green for a picnic.

Blueberries, Vermont-made crackers, a Vermont-made rhubarb soda, and two kinds of cheeses... cheddar and maple smoked. The cheeses come dipped in clear wax, wrapped in foil, and then dipped again in colored wax. (Son peeled off the wax and spent the rest of the car trip modelling with it.) The small wooden cheese knife was made at the house across the street from the Sugar House.

We ate well for our whole trip and got to explore some of Vermont's food scene. Wineries, cheeseries, and cider mills abound.

So do fantastic food co-ops. Montpelier's Hunger Mountain is a gorgeous store. We drooled over the displays of vegetables at Otter Creek in Vergennes. We also went by co-ops in Burlington, Putney, etc., and vowed to go in next time we're in town. (There seemed to be a limit to how many grocery stores we should tour on vacation....)

Exploring the beautiful Brattleboro co-op with camera in hand, we were envious to see the announcement of canning classes--including a class for children. I wish we could be there for it!

Co-ops in Vermont place a high value on selling locally-grown and locally-produced foods.

Many state restaurants share that value. Even Italian restaurants advertise that their produce is from organic local farms. Many places display the Vermont Fresh Network sign proudly in their front windows, proclaiming a partnership between local farmers and chefs. I wish we had made it to Hemingway's Restaurant (and could afford it)!

And then there is the Farmers Diner which spends 65% of its food dollar with farmers and small-scale producers in a 70-mile radius.

You know we are in Putney at this point in our travels. Can anybody guess where we will be purchasing more than I should exploring in the next post?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


We spent last week in Vermont. Driving up I-95 just as thousands of motorcyclists were travelling from DC for the 9-11 ride, we were constantly aware of how urban a world we live in. We crossed over the George Washington bridge in New York City, travelled just a ways into Connecticut, and cut off onto Highway 7. Soon we were in an area filled with farms, covered bridges, old houses, and towns incorporated right after the Revolution. We drove through Connecticut and Massachussets, through the Berkshires on the evening of a Tanglewood concert, until we reached Vermont. We stopped in Bennington for the evening.

In the morning before we began our drive to Lake Champlain, we had breakfast in a cute little cafe in town. We parked the car, dashed through the rain, and stood admiring the paintings on the wall while we waited for our food. Surrounding our table were oil portraits of women, young and old, knitting. I felt right at home.

Staying on 7, we headed through rolling countryside, quaint towns, and farming districts until we reached Grand Isle. David was attending a committee leadership retreat for the United States Breastfeeding Committee. Son and I came with him to enjoy the exquisite retreat center and its lakefront grounds. The estate, a lovely old inn now used for weddings and civil union celebrations as well as small organizational meetings, was a perfect place to relax. We studied the Renaissance while sitting on the wrap-around porch, practiced math, did some knitting, played croquet and bocce, learned to skip stones on the lake, and read and read and read. And we ate incredible food. The chef at the Lake House put together lovely meals with everything from organic produce from a neighboring farm to ice cream made on the island.

David, Son, and I were not the only people knitting at the retreat. One woman was knitting a Christmas stocking for her new grandbaby. Another was knitting a baby blanket. David worked on both his socks and his sweater for Son. During the meeting when the members found errors in their work, they brought them out to me to try to fix. I was officially christened their Knitting Doula. What a perfect title! I think we have to pass it on to the Yarn Harlot.

After the meeting ended and we left the island, we took a few days to explore Vermont. First we stopped at Ben and Jerry's to tour their facilities. (We tried not to roll our eyes too much when they talked about being bought out by Unilever.) After seeing the room where they package two flavors a day, we tried the one they were making that morning: Apple Pie. Delicious.

In addition to the other big Vermont companies like Cabot, Basketville, King Arthur Flour, and the Vermont Country Store (I am obsessed with their merino long underwear), the state is full of small family businesses that produce cheese, maple syrup, cider, wine, honey, apple products, etc. More about that soon.

Vermont is also a state of many fine colleges. We drove by Bennington, Middlebury, the University of Vermont, and the almost-in-Vermont Dartmouth, among others.

When we reached Brattleboro, we went to a show of breastfeeding art in a downtown cafe. There are some incredible photographs displayed there--some clearly intended to be art and some intended to document family life. What a pleasure. If you are near Brattleboro, check it out!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Wedding Ring

This weekend, David and I celebrated our 11th anniversary. As we got dressed for dinner and I pulled out my Icarus shawl, it occurred to me that it might be a true wedding ring shawl--fine enough to pull through my partner's grandmother's ring which I wear always.

* * *

I've been missing you folks! We've just returned from a trip to Vermont. Stories soon!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Ravenous Raven: Dinnertime

Chicken from South Mountain Creamery

Potatoes from our CSA mashed with swiss chard from our garden and buttermilk from South Mountain Creamery

Green beans from our CSA

Tomatoes with basil, both from our garden

Red wine from Boordy Vineyards

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Irish Hiking Scarf

Or is it the Irish Spinning Scarf?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Thanks, Moms!

When the mail arrived, this box came with it:

This box of goodies was the prize from Stuntmother's blogiversary drawing. And what a prize!

In addition to beautiful correspondence cards, there was:

Baby alpaca yarn (looking quite mammary in this pic), destined to be fingerless mitts? a delicate scarf? a little tam? Yummy!

Sock yarn in a perfect colorway--subtle but full of life.

And even this for Son! I snapped the picture just before it sailed away.

Thanks so much, Stuntmother!


In another box delivered the same day, I received my order for this beautiful hand-dyed fiber (colorway Ocean Mist) from local dyer extraordinaire Mama-E:

I can't wait to spin it up!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Vote Early and Often

Over on The Knitting Fiend, Lucia is running “The Addicts Choice Knitting Blog Awards” contest. I was nominated in the category "Best Stories of Physical or Personal Maladies & Dramas."

Go vote for me!

And--well--YIKES! My competition? Both Rabbitch and January One! If by some chance you don't already know their blogs, check them out! (But hey, for my sake, vote for me before you even look at theirs.)

The Ravenous Raven: Going Local

Gazpacho with lots of CSA veggies
Roasted corn in the husk
Homemade challah
Maryland wine (Elk Run Chardonnay)

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Must Have Cardigan


Still a little growing room...

Love these buttons.

Can't get it off the model!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Contest Results

Thank you all so much for all the excellent suggestions for names for my spinning wheel. Ideas poured into the comments and into my inbox. I'll share a few especially interesting ones and then the winning suggestions:

Sarah, knowing that my wheel is a Kromski, felt it deserved a name linked to his country of birth. She wrote, "I really like the traditional Polish names for this one." Angeluna suggested the names of Polish saints.

Many of you shared Angeluna's sense of the mystical and metaphoric but suggested non-Polish examples. Katherine suggested Zihna, "which is Native American and means 'spins'." Carole offered Samsara, the Tibetan Buddhist concept of the endless wheel of rebirth. Bluerose suggested Saule, saying that "In Baltic religion Saule is the sun goddess who determines the well-being of all life on earth. As the full light of the sun, she is also represented by a daisy, a wheel, or a rosette." Uncomformed gives Moirae, the name of the greek goddesses who spun the threads of fate.

Others of you played on the model name Symphony and suggested names based on musical terms or composers. My favorite of these was the suggestion first offered in an email from Donna: Chopin. Chopin was one of Poland's most famous composers. Ironically, as she pointed out, Chopin never composed a symphony. (He composed pretty much exclusively for the piano, my instrument of choice.)

FemiKnitMafia suggested Seamus, a name I love partly because it is the first name of one of my favorite poets and teachers. But Kate said, "I don't know why I'm convinced she's a girl, but I am.” On that front, Lolly's Beatrix and Patricia's Gertie sounded really good.

But then there were a couple of names that resonated very deeply, although the writers had no idea this would be true. Elena offered Alma, the name of one of Son's four grandmothers. And Spinmama suggested Anka or Anechka, Polish for "grace". Although she was thinking of my graceful Polish wheel, I have another connection: my name is from the same roots.

Despite all these terrific suggestions full of humor and meaning and thought, two people came up with what was clearly meant to be. One posted it in the comments just as the other sent me an email. And the winning name is:

ANNABEL LEE from Rebecca and Diana!

"Annabel Lee" is a poem by Edgar Allan Poe, author of "The Purloined Letter." Written to his late wife, it contains some of my favorite love lyrics:

We loved with a love that was more than love
And so, all the nighttide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling! my darling, my life, my bride.

(In the name of disclosure, I should tell you that, in good Poe fashion, he is talking about a dead woman.)

Go here for a truly creepy musical setting of the poem. And there is this. And then there has to be the Esperanto translation....

Thanks to all of you for playing. Congratulations to Rebecca and Diana! A wee little gift will be coming your way.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Dreaming Dreams

Having trouble with the lace edging of Pi, I consult my oracle, author of "The Purloined Letter," Edgar Allen Poe. I show him my problem and ask his advice.

Poe takes Pi, pulls out his knitting bag, puts knitting needles in his hand, and quickly fixes my mistake.

Note his cool "Man at Work" tote bag:

After he puts the stitches to rights, I ask him if he would be so kind as to drape the shawl around his shoulders and allow me to take his picture for the Amazing Lace contest. He does--

--but then pulls out his pattern bookto show me the proper pose for the Pi Shawl, as shown by Norman Kennedy's mother:

P.S. For those of you who have followed the interconnected stories of Pi and my father's health (see 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5), I am pleased to report that after an extremely bad response to chemo and other drugs, his medications were adjusted and he is significantly stronger. Just as I approach the end of Pi, he approaches the end of his course of radiation. Thanks to all of you who have offered him your best wishes and me so much support and kindness.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Ravenous Raven: Local Dinner

Lamb Curry with Cauliflower, Cabbage, Apples, and Yogurt
Served with Roasted Okra and Chapati

Lamb from Smith Meadows
Cauliflower, Cabbage, Apples and Okra from our CSA, Licking Creek Bend
Yogurt from Seven Stars
Amma's Chapati

Our favorite way to cook okra is to roast it whole. Arrange the spears on a cookie sheet with plenty of room to breathe, toss them in a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast in a preheated 400-degree oven for about 15-20 minutes. This turns okra haters into okra lovers. Try it with quartered brussel sprouts, too!

Check out Son making Liz's homemade tortilla recipe!


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