Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Too Pretty to Eat?

These are the delicata squash we grew this year. The vines are well and truly dead, and I have no idea if the squash are actually ripe or not. But they sure are purty...

I've actually squeezed in a little knitting, in amongst all the spinning. Progress has been made on the Selbu gloves:

I even wove in the ends! Though I haven't done the thumb, yet...

And someone else wanted her picture taken...

Now that I've finished spinning the necessary alpaca, I'm starting on the thrummed mittens. I really need to get with the knitting if I want to accomplish everything on my Christmas gift list. But I'm missing the spinning already...
Maybe just a little Shetland?
Just enough to take the edge off. Really.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I used to like Fall.,,

I still do, in theory...
Not too crazy about the End of the Garden, or the Snow to Come...
So, if I can just look at the present, without referencing past or future, I like Fall. The leaves are certainly nice. And the air smells good. And most of the bugs are dead.... 8)

Unwelcome Visitor - Jack Frost!

The weather folk were predicting temps in the low 30's/high 20's for Thursday night, so when Madman and I got home from work we made a mad dash for the garden and performed the annual Northern Ritual known as "covering the garden."
We picked everything pickable, and threw sheets and tarps over everything else that we wanted to try to save.
Decisions were made:
The beans can go - we have plenty in the freezer. No sheets for you...
The kale, chard, broccoli, and brussels sprouts will survive. No sheets for you, either...
Carrots will be fine. Skip them.
Ditto the leeks.
We concentrated our efforts on the winter squash, the cucumbers, and the peppers outside the hoophouse. Then we buttoned up the hoophouse as tight as we could, and fired up a small kerosene heater we have for it.
Then we had homemade pizza for supper. The flour, yeast, olive oil, and salt for the crust were store-bought, and the cheese (but our LOCAL cheese is Cabot! How lucky is that?), but the onion, pepper, herbs, and tomatoes all came from our garden, and the bacon was from a pig raised by my dad. We take pride in our pizza!

Friday morning we heard it had gotten down to 27 degrees. We went out to survey the devastation...
Survivors included the brussels sprouts:
the corn:
the leeks:
and the kale:
The hoophouse protected the peppers:
DOA: the squash and cukes - we had buttercup, butternut, acorn, jarradale, and delicata. All toast...

the tomatilloes - that's a mixed blessing... (See this post) I had picked about as many as we'll need to get through the winter - now we have to try to pick up every blasted one of those little fruits...

While the hoophouse had protected the peppers, the tomatoes weren't quite so lucky - they got nipped:

If the weather stays halfway decent for a while, we should be able to keep getting tomatoes.

And the broccoli and cabbage survived just fine - you can't hardly kill broccoli...
I had a picture of the thoroughly dead beans, but lost it somewhere in the processing/uploading. I went back out to take another pic, but Madman had been busy - he'd already pulled the plants and added them to the compost pile.
So, we froze the rest of the beans we'd picked, and we'll be having the beet greens for supper tonight. A big pot of tomatoes is cooking down on the stove.

Fall is definitely here...


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Catching up (again...)

Saturday was a gorgeous day, and since I was afraid that it might be The Very Last One, I got my butt in gear and washed up the brown alpaca yarn, and the last batch of the Cotswold, then hung them out on the deck to dry.

My spinning isn't great, but damned if it isn't well-balanced!

(And that's not blue sky you see there - that's a blue tarp that we've put up until we can get a proper roof put on... Our 5-year plan has unraveled into a 10-year plan, which is coasting toward a 15-year plan. Damn that Real Life stuff, anyhow...)

There was just enough of a breeze to dry the yarn nicely without blowing it out into the driveway. And luckily, I remembered it was out there late that night and brought it in - we had rain in the wee hours, and I would have been back to square one...

The other big project Saturday was getting new plastic on the hoophouse. Winter had left it looking like this:

We had untwisted as much of the framework as we could last spring, and re-built a much smaller version, but hadn't covered it. Now, with Jack Frost breathing down our necks, we had to get some protection up for our tomatoes and peppers.
Mission accomplished:
We're looking at killer frosts this week, so we'll be holding our breath. The garden has been running so late with all the rain and overcast skies that we haven't been able to harvest enough yet. I'd have my fingers crossed, but that makes it SO hard to type...

And just because I haven't put up a picture of the "little ones" in a while:
There's no way to get all 24 in one picture. If I stood back far enough to frame them all in, they'd be out the coop door and halfway to Canada before I could drop the camera...
And here's a closeup. The fellow in the foreground is a fellow - the comb gives him away. Just behind him and to the left is a hen.
Hard to believe that's this is what they looked like only a couple of months ago...

Peep, peep.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Note to Self:

When spinning white alpaca, don't wear a black shirt...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Supper to end all suppers...

Madman waited for the water to come to a boil, then headed up to the garden to pick sweet corn. (In the rain, I might add, but you can take that as given, considering how this summer has gone...)
While the corn on the cob boiled, I made this - the pestodilla!
Oh. My. God...
I had made fresh pesto this afternoon - we'd had to pick our entire (piddley) basil crop the other night since the temp was headed into the low 30's.
Heaven. Absolute heaven.
It was so good that halfway through supper, Madman looked at me and said "Hey, this is a vegetarian meal, and I have absolutely no complaints!"

And that's saying something.

Go. Cook. Enjoy!

And Spellchecker? Squdgled is too a word. I'm 92% sure...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Spinning around and around

If I take time to go get the camera, take pics, upload pics, etc, I'll never get a post done. Besides, it's night and too dark to photograph brown yarn...
So, anyway.
I finished spinning a third bobbin of alpaca singles, and got them plied. I was shooting for a heavier yarn - at least a sport-weight and hopefully something close to worsted. We'll see when I wash it to set the twist. I want to make some mittens, specifically some World's Warmest Mittens. My Wicked (Good) Stepmother, who gave me the alpaca fleeces, requested thrummed mittens like I made Madman last Christmas. (Please forgive the supreme crappiness of the pics in that post - new blogger, what can I say...) I would make W(G)S anything she asked for, even if she hadn't given me alpaca fleeces...
I'll try to document the process this time. As far as I know, I'm the only one combining thrums with colorwork - but then again, EZ said we all unvent things.
In the meantime, I finally worked out a way to ply right down to the end of the singles, even with unevenly loaded bobbins. When I hit the end of bobbin 1, I broke off the single from bobbin 2 just a few inches longer. Then I overlapped the ends and squdgled them together to form a loop. By pulling the sole-surviving single through this phony loop, I was off and running with a Navaho ply. When that one ran out, I spit-spliced the single I'd broken off earlier, and woohoo - good to the last drop.
Maybe everyone else already knew this, but hey, I'm self-taught here... I enjoy my little victories!
Pics tomorrow.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Vermont Sheep and Wool, part 2


There, that's better.

So, I went to VS&W with my youngest daughter, and besides BLOGGERS, I briefly got to meet her boyfriend's mother. She seems like my kind of gal (she was leaving the festival with multiple bags of roving and yarn. Yep, my kind of gal....) and I think we're going to get along just dandy. (The kids better watch their step if The Mothers join forces...)
Some of the other highlights:

The Purple Goat:The sign said she had been dyed with foodcoloring in order to highlight the luster of the angora fiber. I was just freaked out by the color.
And I asked my daughter "How many blogs is SHE going to show up on?"

Then there was this:Spinning on a Great Wheel or Walking Wheel.

And winding the yarn onto the bobbin.
I had a nice little chat with the lady doing this demo. When I said "On the whole, I think I prefer to do my spinning sitting down...", she said she actually liked this wheel better - felt that it gave her more control and better yarn.
I think it may be all in what you're used to...

And the big score was a Shetland fleece for $10. The last thing Madman said before I left (after "No sheep, please. And no bunnies.") was "Please try to remember how much fleece and yarn you already have." Which I did. But 10 dollars? Even Madman agreed that I really needed to buy it...
God, I love wool festivals!


Just got back from Vermont Sheep and Wool - and OMG!
I met bloggers!
Norma! and Jessie! and Sandy! and Etherknitter! (who told me her real first name, but it went right out of my brain as soon as she said Etherknitter...)
They were all so nice, and shook my hand and didn't start edging away from me - which was brave of them since I'd gone into full-tilt Total Babbling Dork mode. With a smile so big it's a wonder the top of my head didn't fall off...
It was like meeting Rock Stars. They're My Heroes!
And did I use my camera? The one that was dangling right off my wrist?
It stayed right in its bag.Doh!
I'll have a larger update of the festival after I get done pounding my head on my desk.


Friday, September 5, 2008

Hey, mango, welcome to the 21st century!

I just got one of these.... It's my first....

It's got buttons and doodads and stuff.
Madman picked it up for me yesterday afternoon and handed it to me when I got home from work.
I opened it, looked at it, and looked at him. "Okay, now what?"
So he showed me what all the buttons and features are - which I'll never remember. And it has a camera, which means I'll probably end up taking a lot of inadvertent pictures of my foot. Or the palm of my hand...

I'd been resistant to the idea of a cellphone for all these years, though Madman has had them for work-related stuff. But the time had come.

Now I'm ready for my flying car.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Finally some knitting content...

Making a little progress on the Selbuvotter glove. (I'd be making more progress if I didn't keep spinning instead of knitting, but there ya go. If I could only knit and drive...)
Of course, I couldn't leave well enough alone... This glove actually is a combination of three different patterns from the book. I used the cuff from one, the back and palm from another, and the fingers from a third.
Maybe the next one I'll stick to a pattern. Or maybe not...

I had a little surprise the other day - Jean from The Scottish Lamb ambushed me.... er, I mean, presented me (yeah, that's it) with this award:

Holy crap!
Go visit her blog, by the way, and check out the great video she made of a method of creating hole-less sock gussets. Good stuff!
So, now I've got to pick out seven blogs to pass this award on to. Argh! I've got about a zillion blogs in my Bloglines feed, all of which I love. So, with a little coin-tossing and random-number generating, here we go:
Pioneer Woman
The Furry Fury
Farm Witch

Please accept this award from me and ...
1. Please put the logo on your blog.
2. Link the person from whom you received your award.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4. Put the links of those blogs on to your blog.
5. Leave a message on their blogs to tell them!

Or not. It's up to you...

Too little, too late?

Well, we've FINALLY had a week of sunshine, for the first time all summer. We've all been walking around blinking in the sudden bright light. This summer has been rain, rain, and more rain - sort of a non-frosty version of last winter (snow, snow, and more snow...)
August was particularly bad - by the 5th of the month, we'd already had more rain than we usually get in the whole month of August, and it just kept raining.
Our garden has been waterlogged this year. The carrots washed away - we currently have more growing in the path than in the row. The peppers were stunted - some of the plants only got 4 inches tall, then just gave up and stopped growing. (I think they're sulking...) The corn got off to a slow start, but has just gone crazy with the last 10 days' sunnier weather. We're just holding our breath, now, hoping the 1st frost holds off. (We've had killing frosts as early as September 1st. Last year we had a frost on the 15th of August that killed our beans and cucumbers. Gotta love gardening in the North - it's a real crapshoot.)
On the plus side, we've finally gotten some tomatoes. I had a tomato sandwich for lunch today - sliced tomato, homemade white bread, mayo, and a little salt. You know it's good when the juice drips off your elbows...
So now we're picking and freezing green and yellow beans, brussels sprouts, and swiss chard, and I made a batch of sweet pickle relish the other day. We've got sweet onions and leeks that are doing fine. We might get some peppers - the anchos are setting nicely, but not anywhere near red.

And of course, we've got tomatillos all over the garden...
Four years ago, I bought 4 tomatillo plants at the local greenhouse. I'd never grown them before, but I love chicken enchiladas with tomatillo salsa, so I thought I'd give them a try. I planted them in one corner of our greenhouse, reasoning that they were from Mexico and would appreciate a warm climate to grow in.
I looked them up on the internet to see how to care for them - they were described as a tall, rangy plant. I should have investigated that website's descriptions a little more - they probably would have described Triffids as charming little houseplants...
The tomatillo plants grew up and up and out and over - four plants took over most of one end of the greenhouse. When they hit the roof, they started growing sideways, right through the tomatoes in the center of the house, and over into the peppers on the other side.
And the fruit... Each plant had hundreds of little green tomatillos... Hundreds....
And here's what we learned:
1) Each plant has hundreds of fruit.
2) Each fruit has hundreds of seeds.
3) No matter how carefully you clean up the garden, you can never get all the fruit picked up.
4) All tomatillo seed survives Vermont winters and sprouts the next year.
5) No matter how many tomatillo plants you pull up, twenty more will pop up.
6) All these plants will have fruit too.
7) See number 1.
The first year, we had tomatillos in the greenhouse. The second year, we had tomatillos in the greenhouse and at the northwest corner of the garden. The third year we had tomatillos everywhere in the garden. The fourth year we had them in the yard too.
I just hope I can keep them out of the house...