Busy Is Good

Just keep telling yourself that!

New Yarn

Photo of rainbow gradient yarnEarlier this year I launched a new business, Washtenaw Wool Company, with two friends, Michelle and Heather.  We’re having a blast, learning a lot, and watching this seed of an idea grow into something that suits all of our different skills perfectly.

It’s all very stimulating! We’ve been dyeing up yarn using unusual and sometimes time-consuming methods. We’ve been building our community of like-minded makers. This weekend we have a show, a local show luckily, and then we will hit the yarn design drawing board in earnest.  I. Can’t. Wait.  Local wool yarn, here I come!

New Design

I am aswim with design ideas and lack only for time to make them come alive.  I have socks, a pair of fingerless mitts, and at least two shawls partially written up. I’ve designed an entire shawl with the help of Miriam Felton’s Lace Shawl Design Craftsy class and the Stitchmastery software. Now I just need to knit it!  Ah, time, you fickle friend. Is this the point where designers find test knitters?

Photo of a knitting swatch.

New Skill

I’ve started teaching knitting classes at one of our local yarn stores and privately. Turns out, I really like to teach knitting!  I’ve been doing it for years informally, but I am finally embracing the idea that I have something to share with people who don’t know me.  I was a little worried before my first class because I did not enjoy teaching snarky freshman Composition at the community college.  So kudos to me for not letting that one terrible experience define my relationship to teaching in general.

New Words

As my writing time becomes more precious, I feel a visceral tug to connect pen to paper.  I am no nube; I know this feeling.  It means, “Write more. Something needs to come out.”

Spring this year is slow to arrive.  We had thunder and graupel (I learned that word today) this morning.  My dreams — mundane and not — continue apace, fed by the energy of busy creativity.

How has the transition between winter and spring been going for you? Please tell me in the comments below.

Week #1: What We Did With Our CSA Share

A photograph of a salad with cucumbers

I do grow some of the vegetables my family eats, but the garden has been hard for me to maintain for the past several years, so this year we downsized the the vegetable garden and signed up for a CSA half-share with Tantre Farm in Chelsea, Michigan.  (Read more about community supported agriculture here.)

Tantre is well-regarded locally, but I didn’t fall under their spell until my daughter’s preschool took a field trip to the farm.  It is a magical place — welcoming, hardworking, and kid-friendly.

This is not my first CSA, but it is my first since having kids.  We decided to hedge our bets and split a share with some good friends of ours.  Since there’s only two of them — and they’re not vegetarian — they were only too happy to go halfsies.

Here’s my record of what we received and what we did with our Wednesday box of mystery!  All amounts were halved unless otherwise noted.

Week One

Arugula, Asparagus, Sorrel, Green Onions, Parsnips, Potatoes, Radish, Rapini, Sauerkraut, Spicy Salad Mix, Spinach

Arugula: We received both Astro and Sylvetta (aka wild rocket).  We used some of it in a dinner salad on Saturday and the rest went into pasta sauce on Monday night.  I’m not completely sure which type went into which dish.  I had figured out which was which (Sylvetta is more deeply lobed and pungent than Astro), but I wasn’t involved with Saturday’s meal prep and Monday’s meal happened really fast.

Asparagus: We didn’t get a lot of this — after splitting, I think it was 4 big stalks — but we added to them a few spears from our own asparagus bed and they were roasted with oil and salt for Saturday night’s meal.

Sorrel: I haven’t used it yet!  I have some in my own garden (a VERY winter hardy vegetable and yet it took a beating this past winter) and want to make Sorrel soup with it.

Green Onions: First of all, they’re huge.  Easily twice as thick and twice as long as the ones you buy at the grocery store.  I forgot to use them in my pasta sauce so they’re still in the fridge.  My mother gave me the idea last night to plant them so I might do that!  Green onions are perennial and I have some growing in my garden already.

Parsnips: There were about 4 or so small ones and I gave them all to my friend because Matt does not like the flavor of parsnips.

Potatoes: We each got a quart of German Butterball and I still have mine (potatoes keep well!).  Maybe we’ll make oven fries or hashbrowns with them tonight because we’re having eggs and oatmeal (aka BFD, breakfast for dinner).

Radishes: We got about 8-10 French Breakfast radishes after splitting. My five-year-old and I ate these with lunch on Saturday.  Yes, I am not kidding even a little bit about that.  Yes, I was also surprised.  We had them with dipping dishes of oil and salt, which I learned from my soon-to-be sister in law, who swears to me that radishes are just vehicles for salt.

Rapini: Also known as broccoli raab, this one was tricky.  I was all for cooking it, but my weekend chefs decided to put it raw into a salad.  The salad disappeared so no harm done, but I kind of hope we get more so I can try it my way.

Sauerkraut: We got a half jar of pickled watermelon radish made by the Brinery a very new local business that is in partnership with Tantre Farm.  It is zippy and yummy.  Matt kept putting it on hot dogs this past week (we had a lot leftover from a cub scout picnic) and I ate it as a side dish with my lunches.  We’re about halfway through our half jar.  It will get more tangy as time goes on.

Spicy Salad Mix: This went so fast.  It was used for some sandwiches, etc, but ultimately ended up in Saturday night’s big salad.

Spinach: It was used on sandwiches, but I think I still have most of the spinach!  Of course, last week I only just finished off the bag of spinach I received three weeks before at our membership meeting.  I couldn’t believe how long it kept — talk about fresh!  If we get more spinach this week, I might cook it with some bacon to make greens in the style that my mother-in-law’s family makes.  That or it goes into a salad.

That’s week 1.  In less than an hour, I am going to pick up our Week 2 box.

In other local food news, a friend gave me a dozen eggs from her suburban chickens yesterday (hence the dinner we’re planning) and my son is taking great pleasure in picking greens from the deck planter to put on his daily lunch sandwich.  I planted mesclun seeds a month ago on a whim because it was too cold to put in the flowers yet.  Then the squirrels or chipmunks dug around so it’s rather uneven, but as I like to tell people when they express nervousness about gardening: the plants WANT to grow!  And grow they did.

It sounds like we eat a lot of sandwiches, doesn’t it?  Not really, except maybe the boy, who is picky.

When Your Space Heater Dies in May, Knit Up Some Fingerless Mitts

Feels a little bit like I’m living in a Dickens novel, but I am stubborn enough to wait until fall when space heaters are available again at the corner hardware store.

Photo of a fingerless mitt.

Meanwhile, in this cold spring, after working for an hour or two in my basement office, my hands ache from the cold.

It probably goes without saying, but taciturn I am not: it is really hard to take pictures of your own hands when one is using a cell phone.  Do I have a fancy camera that attaches to a tripod and has a timer?  Yes.  It is a DSLR hand-me-down (oh, but we paid for it) from my fancy brother.  I wish I knew how to use it better.  I also wish there were 25 hours in the day, but my tiny tyrant is home in an hour and I need to get this posted, pronto.

Photo of a fingerless mitt.

I take breaks from grousing to admire my lovely Pageturner Mitts knit out of Noro Silk Garden.  The yarn was a random lone skein I had and lone skeins, especially those that are beautiful, are so hard to do something with.  Maybe that’s just me.  Now I want to make myself a pair of mitts for every day of the week.  The pattern is the classic and elegant, yet simple Pageturner Mitts by Sarah Jo Burch.  I cast on 40 stitches instead of 30 because I wanted some extra coverage.  I knit each block of garter 6.5″ before sewing up, which gives a nice amount of negative ease.

Pageturner Mitts would make a great quick gift if you use a beautiful yarn, like Noro Silk Garden, or something tonal or handpainted.

I finished these on Mother’s Day weekend and haven’t even worn them out of the house, but they are getting noticed.  My five-year-old thinks they’re the bees knees and keeps stealing them so I am making her a pair.  She is normally into pink, as our species demands of these young females, and when I pulled out pink yarn for her she said, “No, I want orange.”  Okay darling, I will make you orange ones.  And I am.

Matt laughed to see me wandering the house in May, wearing wooly-silky fingerless mitts and all I have to say to that is: polar vortex.  It is still happening, my friends, even if it is only in my mind.  It may not be snowing, but damn this weather continues to be weird.

 

Piedra Del Sol / Sunstone

In observance of Brigit, a poem (actually, part of a poem because this is a very long poem):

Piedra del sol (Sunstone) by Octavio Paz

I want to go on, to go further, and cannot:

as each moment was dropping into another

I dreamt the dreams of dreamless stones,

and there at the end of the years like stones

I heard my blood, singing in its prison,

and the sea sang with a murmur of light,

one by one the walls gave way,

all of the doors were broken down,

and the sun came bursting through my forehead,

it tore apart my closed lids,

cut loose my being from its wrappers,

and pulled me out of myself to wake me

from this animal sleep and its centuries of stone,

and the sun’s magic of mirrors revived

a crystal willow, a poplar of water,

a tall fountain the wind arches over,

a tree deep-rooted yet dancing still,

a course of a river that turns, moves on,

doubles back, and comes full circle,

forever arriving:

New sweater just in time for spring!