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That’s how many were left a full week later. After snacks, smoothies (my first!), chicken and peach salad (yumm!), sharing, gifting, and ice cream toppings, I still had eighteen beautifully ripe peaches, in danger of going past their prime. I didn’t want to make jelly or jams because I don’t eat them. (I still have my homemade concord grape jelly unopened from 2008!) If I still ate toast, I could manage to go through many jars, but I rarely do these days (bummer, that — I love crunchy, buttery toast!).

I forgot to take pictures, but Lynn did, and my collection was within almost as large a haul from the Tyngsboro Parlee Farm site:

I froze fresh, pick-your-own strawberries and blueberries this summer for a winter extravagance. Could I do the same for the peaches? They wouldn’t be whole like the blueberries and strawberries are. They need peeled and depitted. I dithered. I hesitated. I kicked myself in the butt and told myself to get going alright already!

I heart Google.

Freezing peaches is easy-peasy. Who knew? The best part is, I found a reference that didn’t insist I add a cup of sugar for every two cups of cut peaches. This is my new best friend in the preserving fresh fruit category! Adding white, refined and processed sugar to a naturally sweet fruit made no sense to me whatsoever. Turns out you can use fruit juice instead. I snagged a bottle of organic apple juice, a fresh lemon or two, and went to town!

Did you know that the amount of time you dip peaches into boiling water (blanching) is relative to how ripe they are? Joy of Cooking (mine is one of the 1980’s printings) said to slip them into boiling water for 45-60 seconds and then transfer them to iced water for a few minutes. On the peaches I had, this timing meant I cooked into the peaches a good quarter of an inch. Fifteen seconds turned out to be the magic number for this stage of ripeness. Skins slipped off with just a thumb roll across the surface. Lovely!

Those eighteen peaches are now chilling in the freezer, in five freezer-zip-lock-type bags. I only have one large bag of blueberries and a medium one of strawberries. Maybe I’ll dip into the peaches before January… maybe a smoothy with peaches, frozen yogurt, and peach schnappes…

Summer has finally arrived in the northeast. For a large part of June, I wasn’t sure it would ever get here. Daytime highs hovered around 70 degrees instead of the upper 80s. Sodden clouds hovered over wet green lawns and gardens, retarding strawberry ripening and probably other things as well. (But I was seriously looking forward to strawberry picking!)

The first few days of July have been gloriously sunny and warm. We’ll pretend it wasn’t muggy as all get out as well. What possessed me to clean out the range hood and fan above the stove is a mystery, but once started, I couldn’t stop. Besides. It was gross.

I prefer to use ‘green’ cleaning aides, but there are times when those just won’t cut it. Seriously, the grease was so thick I couldn’t wipe it off. I couldn’t scrape it off, either. Out came the Windex Kitchen spray bottle. Then I tried Pine Sol, my first go-to cleaner after Spic-n-Span, and I boiled water so the steam would help loosen the crud.

By this point I figured I had removed maybe one layer of oil, dust, grease, pollen (this *is* New England, you know), and I was getting a real upper body workout while not making much of a dent in the cleanliness goal. Elbow grease is all fine and good, but I like to have something to show for it, you know?

On the left side of the counter was a basin of concentrated Oxy-Clean working on the greasy kitchen towels I had used to help me disassemble the fan and filter. They were now looking much better than the range hood was, so I hotted up the water again and applied said elbow grease and the Oxy-Clean solution to the inside of the range hood.

Hot damn. It works! Every wipe brought another layer off and I could see the silver aluminum peaking out. Three changes of water later, it was practically sparking. Yup. The inside of the range hood that no one ever sees was sparkling! Mount Washmore was piled waist deep in the basement. The rugs bore evidence of two dogs dashing in and out, romping in over-long wet grass. The vegetable garden and flower beds were inundated with weeds. The counters were covered with displaced items, dirty dishes, and cleaning supplies, but that stove top and range hood? Gorgeous!

Next time, I’ll look into how much it costs to replace a range hood. Or maybe try cleaning it more often than once a decade.

After talking about going to the NH Sheep and Wool Festival with #1 grandson for over a month, the day we ended up going was at best, a gray day, but more often, beyond silly to ridiculous downpours. I looked into a couple other things we could do instead of the Sheep & Wool Festival, but he was wearing a t-shirt with sheep on it in honor of our trip and I decided not to even bring other options up. If he was game, so was I. In the end, his rubber boots got a great work out (almost totally dry socks!)! So did the umbrella he insisted on bringing that I didn’t want but was so glad he had!

We experimented with wet felting.

We hardly needed the pan of water. Except for the squirt of mild dishsoap, I had more than enough liquid in my pants and shoes. Limp wool, little plastic beads, and fluffy roving became something so much more.

He was on a mission to buy a small stuffed puppy for his brothers upcoming birthday, so I was able to browse a lot of the (inside – yeah!) vendors. We saw spinning, weaving, roving, and freshly shorn fleece. We followed a quartet of lambs, two black and two white, through the 4-H building. Liam says one yelled “mmbaaah!” at him. How he could be sure with all the sheep and lamb vocalizing going on, I have no idea!

None of the cute puppies or other small stuffed animals fit his small budget, although we did enjoy looking. I saw a felted mermaid I would love to have given my sister but it was out of both of our budgets! Worth every penny, I am sure.

We were trying to hang in until the sheepdog trials, but the sky truly opened at that point and it was cancelled. As we slowly trudged back to the car with Liam walking, skipping, and jumping in the ever-larger puddles and streams, I realized that while I was well and truly sopping wet, I was not freezing. Good thing. Liam had a complete change of clothes in the car (thanks, Jess!) but I did not.

We agreed to try this Sheep and Wool thing again in the fall or next spring, hoping for better weather.

It is finished, she sighed.

This project was over three years in the making. Granted, for 2 1/2 of those years it was in time-out, but still! Here is is, modeled by Blue:

I used a plain cotton worsted yarn from The Hub Mills in Lowell. Easy wash and dry fabric that might shrink slightly at first, but not enough to worry about. There was no fancy fair isle color work, or complicated assembly (according to the directions). It was a devil in the details, however.

Clarity in directions is so important, but rarely found. Remember the last time you tried to read a user manual or an assembly instruction? (Ikea seems to manage it well, but they don’t do knitting patterns—others follow their style with humorous instructions for science fiction assemblies) But I digress… )

In real life, people reading patterns are not able to ask questions on things they think are obvious. Why would they, anyway? It’s obvious! Then again, what you think is obvious and what others think is obvious are *so* different! I once worked on a newsletter where the admin was horrified at the finished peice. I agreed. It was awful. The printer substituted fonts, causing text reflow, messy rags, and an almost ransom-publishing look. It was not the file I sent them. The admin continuted her rant. “The pages have wrinkles and creases in the wrong places!” “But what about the text?” I asked. “What? That’s fine. I can read it okay.”

So when I read the instruction for the Tree of Life Afghan, I remembered to read them all the way through for the main portion before beginning, because I know this can alleviate frustration later on. The directions clearly said to take into account that there was a 4-stitch garter edging on the sides of the afghan and that these were not included in the stitch count of the main pattern areas.

So I added them to the left and right of the afghan as I knit it up.

I really should have read the edging instructions along with the body pattern notes.

By the time I got the to the third section (which was a repeat of the first section), it was very obvious that my count was off by 8 stitches too many. No errata is given for this several-years-old and made-hundreds-of-times afghan. Therefore, I must have (oh crap! not again!) made a mistake.

Remember those four stitches I added to the left and right of the afghan? They were supposed to be part of the edging, which is done last. The edging included a leaf and four garter stitches that would go all around the edges of the afghan, not just the left and right of it.

Now, I *could* have frogged the 2/3 already done and start over (I really didn’t like that option). I *could* have continued and left the leaf edging off (it would forever look unfinished). Or I could figure out how to meld on the leaf border once the main part was done (howzat???). I *could* put it in time-out until I could decide/come up with an option I could live with. Yup. Done deal. Time out, back of the closet. I wouldn’t bring it out until it behaved better for me (read: until I figured out how to handle the edging).

Ditto (grandchild #4) is arriving at the end of the month. I have made baby afghans for his older 3 siblings. He deserves a special blanket as well. I looked at my stash. I thought about the afghan in time-out. I pored through patterns. I looked at the afghan in time-out.

I got out the offending afghan, determined to figure out how to meld the garter and leaf edging. Being a a stubborn sort, I did manage it. I reused to allow myself any other knitting until the afghan was done.

See? You can’t tell I futzed with the edging.

*FO=finished object

Have you ever noticed how one item in a photo or sign grabs your eyes to the exclusion of all else? The other three-quarters of the image may as well not exist for all the attention it gets. Flipping through recent photos, looking for ones to print, etc, these ‘pairs’ flashed, scorching my eyeballs. Side-by-side comparisons I do not need…

My sister and I learned this ditty in Girl Scouts. When you are 10 and don’t even *have* boobs, it’s funny. Nowadays, not so much.


I know I am supposed to provide tags for my entries, but I absolutely refuse to add ‘boobs’ to my tag cloud.

The problem with so many of our toys and hobbies is that we must pay for the supplies with which to indulge in them. My favorite yarns are not cheap, but they last longer than flowers do. (I will not mention the rosemary plants I buy from Hannafords. In my hands, they die almost as quickly as fresh flowers.) During the winter, playing at or practicing with floral arranging has been an indulgence limited to the quick bouquet grab at the food store. I love to have flowers throughout the house, especially in the winter.

Some people buy chocolates. I buy books, yarn, or flowers for my retail therapy.

Thanks to Lee, I have found an enabler for my floral passions. The Power of Flowers Project is about 20 minutes from my house. When a new donation of flowers becomes available they need to be picked up, broken down, refreshed, and repurposed into new bouquets before being delivered, free of charge, to any and all who need a pick-me-up.

Before taking apart the arrangements Paper mache containers form a mountain fo recycling A variety of tall and short containers hold sorted items

Imagine being able to freely play with a room literally *full* of flowers: roses, calla lilies, freesia, tulips, hydrangea, mums, larkspur, iris, exotic greenery, palm fronds, ferns, gerbera daisies, thistles, snapdragons, bells of Ireland, and many I have no name for. Purple spikey thing, green ball of foofy stuff, etc., were the identifiers we randomly used. We understood each other.

I am a ‘process florist’— my joy comes in creating the arrangements. I was totally joyed spending three hours in a chilled room making arrangements over and over for the Power of Flowers Project. I came back the next day when another, even larger donation arrived. There were six of us working for several hours before the last of the usable flowers were gone.

This tray is holding about 20 small arrangements. Floral arrangement creativity

Even so, there was leeway for self indulgence— I brought some straggling flowers home for myself, and dropped off a fresh bouquet at my neighbors’. She loved the treat and I felt terrific for doing it.

Spider mums don't tolerate much handling and are not saved

Read more about the Power of Flowers Project here, and here.

Behavior Modification: Changing how you react to something to increase the probability of success.
Behavior modification is something we demonstrate for our children to emulate (actions/language). How to respond to gifts? How to handle compliments? Criticisms? Frustration? Challenges? Dining etiquette? Crossing the street? Thinking ahead/planning multi-step projects?

I can’t tell you how happy I was when I became an adult in a home where I didn’t have to be a constant ‘good example’ for the children. My social and safety skills were sufficient for just the four of us (hubby, two dogs, and moi). Unfortunately, driving solo appears to have deteriorated my driving skills. Unless dogs were in the car (they do not wear seat belts, so I am very careful of how the car leans, shifts gravity-wise, decelerates, etc.) I drove knowing my balance was compensated by pressure on the brake, knowing when to lean in, etc., plus I wore a seat belt. I forget to do the same for the rare human passengers. My son commented. Ouch. My mother commented. Double ouch!

Knitting Modification: Changing how you create something to increase the probability of success/fitting/enough yarn.

Select yarn (in this case, light worsted weight superwash marino stash from Tangled and Warped).

Select basic pattern. My go-to resource for raglan everything is from Spinnerin vol. #309, page 17 (c)1963. Out of print. My original was photocopied from a co-worker. I found one on eBay last year in mint condition. It replaced the deteriorating 35-year-old version that I used for almost every sweater I made for my kids (‘way back when they still wore things I made them).

Guestimate result. I was an English major, so it’s a ‘you do the math’ thing. Guess wrong. Call to get child’s height. Decide it will be a top that will fit her until she is at least four (she is 18 months old now).

Select stitch pattern to insert/add to the basic pattern. Curse stitch pattern. Look for errata online. Finally locate it but it doesn’t cover your situation. How could it have been missed? It has been duplicated and promoted on several blogs. How could they miss this major issue?

Rant to all and sundry on errors. Books in general have errata these days rather than correct patterns from the first printing. Having to check for errata before beginning a project is annoying and unprofessional! Be sure to stress this inconvenience to knitters and non-knitters alike. Grump. Grump some more.

Realize you have converted the pattern to be knit on circular needles rather than back and forth. You compensated by changing the knits to purls every other row, but you neglected to reverse the sequence of stitches as well.

Oh. Um…

Center leaf pattern from Knitting on the Edge, page 121—a really great book with very few errata after 5 years on the market. My apologies to Nicky Epstein. I own a few of her books and this is the first (admittedly self-induced) problem I have ever had. (Not the first self-induced one, and definitely not the last.) (sigh)

Behavior Modification: Accepting that changes are multi-step processes will increase the probability of success. Remind self to assume children are always present and act accordingly (said child may be a shortsighted self…).

End result: A jumper dress for Docious that will grow with her from 18 months (as a dress) to 4t (as a top). Modeled by Blue. (Human model not available at time of photo session.)

New York is HOT

NO,really, it’s HOT. It is steamy, close quarters, in-your-face HOT. Sardine-close, hold-your-breath squeezed-into-a-subterranean-tin-can close.

Then you go outside into windy, frigid atmosphere and recoil in frozen pain. Breathing icicles of air, driving shards of frost into your lungs.

The apartments in NYC are also hot. You can’t really control the temperature that comes into the apartment through the radiators, nor through the heating pipes that travel up through your apartment to the floors higher in the building. Most NYers have at least one window cracked all winter. One is toasty warm wearing just your own skin. Fresh air by the head of the bed compensating for the steamy heat… I loved it!

The NYer winter uniform is The North Face outerwear, in black. New Yorkers apparently are not aware that it came in colors and neither was I (at first). Only one brave soul sported North Face winter garb in non-standard (for NYC) color.

I tried to kinnear a shot of the variety of black coats, parkas, jackets, and activewear, but remember the part about this being NYC and the subways are (insert paragraph one here)? I couldn’t get *to* my camera, let alone sneak a photo.

There are a lot of people in NYC (doh!), and almost as many hole-in-the-wall places to eat. Truly a culinary melting pot of different cultures blending different tastes from every major and minor country/region in the entire world. The Chilean-Brazilian-Asian chicken restaurant we enjoyed for dinner is a good example. An entire roasted and spiced chicken with curried rice, and garden salad. We were served by a plethora (okay, there were only three or four hovering) of Mexican and Chinese wait-staff. To get there (four short blocks away) we passed several equally small bakeries and restaurants featuring cuisine from mixes of Vietnamese, Mexican, French, Philippine, Vegan, well…you get the idea.
Waving 'hi' to DH

Vogue Knitting LIVE did not see fit to list more than a few dining option$, and most of those were inside the Hilton it$elf. (Yes, I did mean to use dollar signs—$8.50 for a cup—not even a mug— of coffee???) There was a Starbucks within sight of the hotel, but the lines extended OUTSIDE the building. Two out of my three days were booked solid with classes and lectures, leaving only 30 minutes for lunch/food scrounging. Frigid wind tunnels outside discouraged aimless wandering. The hot dog vendors outside made a killing on the starving masses.

INSIDE Vogue Knitting LIVE it was also totally hot, with the most impressive collection of knitteratti superstars ever seen in a single gathering. I took pix of many superstars. Franklin Habit probably came out the best, if a mite fuzzy. The Yarn Harlot managed to come out fuzzy *and* have glowing demon-possession eyes. Nancy Marchant was completely back-lit which shows off her fit figure but illuminates little else. The crowd around the Susan Boye booth were hogging Drew the Crochet Dude. Lily Chin was in conversation with Brett Bara (Knit & Crochet Today on PBS). The lighting (as mentioned previously) totally sucked. My photo skills are limited at best. I’m more of a ‘lucky shot’ photographer. Out of respect for them I won’t be publishing any of my fan shots.

The class teachers were all superstars and just the nicest possible people IRL (in real life). When Taiu Landra (Koigu Wool Designs) pulled her mitered knitting pieces out of her suitcases I blurted out “I know that piece! I have that book!” (Knits from a Painters Pallette) Fiona Ellis encouraged us to chart our own Celtic cables after going over the basics of knitting Celtic knot designs (definitely NOT your grandmothers cables!). Many faces I didn’t know until I managed to connect their work with them (Nicky Epstein = Knitted Flowers and Knitting on the Edge, for example).

I passed *this* close (in the Market Place, there were so many people you couldn’t help but rub shoulders!) to Cookie A (link goes to my first of many designed by her), Jared Flood, Cat Bordhi (a typical Cat-style video), and so many more familiar faces from, Ravelry (a huge time sponge and wonderful reference for ideas, patterns, and, and, and), and the Twist Collective patterns.

The latest count of attendees that I saw was 3,000. Wow.

Would I do it again? I would WANT to, but its final expense tally was much higher than anticipated. Remember, I only purchased extra mawata and a set of needles. I stayed at my sister-in-law’s and rode the subway to the Hilton. Bonus—walking the streets of Manhattan and viewing treats like this:

Vogue doesn’t ‘do’ swag

Writing the promotional content for these seminar/conferences is a delicate balance of what the organizers think will be of interest and who they can get (presenter/instructor-wise) to commit to the event. What Vogue wrote last summer for course titles had different titles when I got there, and different content as well. Then again, things I was interested in last summer changed by the time of the conference, so I guess that’s a fairish exchange.

I was wildly psyched about two classes. Two color brioche knitting led by the mistress of all that is brioche, Nancy Marchant, and knitting with mawata (silk cocoons/handkerchiefs) led by the knitteratti genius of The Yarn Harlot. I had a migraine during the former but did learn enough to carry on. The latter was much better situated room-accommodations-wise, and I seriously scored terrific mawata for future playtime. (If I didn’t purchase it, she would have to cart the 30 grams back across the border. I am nothing if not helpful. Okay, I wasn’t the only one being ‘helpful’ —but I did my share!)

As I mentioned above, classroom accommodations were not always ideal. Many classes were held in regular hotel rooms into which a large table was crammed with seating for 16. Lighting was abysmal for knitting. Squeezing behind seats to show samples was uncomfortable for all. The only place to store samples was in the bathroom!

On to the Market Place

When you have a premium product such as ‘luxury’ yarns, apparently you do not need to have swag to offer the masses that descend on your conference exhibit location like locusts (or lemmings?). Fiber artists will pay through the nose for the good stuff! Example: Yak is expensive to collect and process for use. They charged a whole lot for little bits of it. Cashmere is a highly desirable fiber, too. In this case, ‘inexpensive’ is a relative term.

One place gave out fingernail files but did not have their logo on them, so I can’t say who was so generous. They were very fine grain, which does help keep your nails from snagging on the yarns. Lion Brand Yarn gave out large paper/fiber totes but as they were not selling any of their yarn at the conference, there was nothing to actually put in them (from Lion Brand, at least).

Two yarn companies had decent conference sales (BOGO and 50% off selected 10-pack bags of Noro, Debbie Bliss, cashmere, silk, etc) Those two places were MOBBED from Thursday evening when the market opened until midday on Sunday, just before closing. Even then, there was a solid line around the bins. I dithered, pondered, and had skeins lifted out of my hands (may I?) by other, presumably more organized shoppers. Reminding myself of the six bins of string already in my possession at home, I reluctantly took my self (and my slim wallet) to other booths. It must be my disappointment clouding my memory as to which companies were offering the deals.

Most of the companies did not offer any conference ‘deal’ (printer conferences, educational supplier conferences, and consumer electronics conferences give serious swag) other than not charging tax and rounding the retail price down to the nearest whole dollar. (I was greedy spoiled by the fore-mentioned conferences.) This no-tax-rounded-down was the big offer at the booksellers who mostly had books by presenters who signed them for you.

But not the book *I* wanted (Knitting Brioche: The Essential Guide to the Brioche Stitch by Nancy Marchant). I put it on my Amazon wish list. I’m just sayin’….

I do not wish to imply that the participants were anywhere near as frugal with their time and their efforts as the merchants were. This large bin was empty Thursday evening.

I took the picture Sunday at noon. Quick knitting no matter how you look at it!

Classic gorgeous shared spaces with weird off-the-wall impractical designs. People who attended the conference sported their best work in color, cables, entelac and fine fibers. I saw lots of heathered colorations in sweaters, jumpers, vests, scarves, felted hats, and yes, socks. (Franklin Habit was gifted with bobble socks by an admirer. I saw them. I touched them, even! Gorgeous!)

Some companies have almost religiously devoted followers. Blue Moon has built their reputation on fair prices for gorgeous, quality product. It was also mobbed the entire time the Market Place was open.

People passed one another, pausing to admire handiwork worn (which was why you wore it there, of course!). I was surrounded by eye candy in all shapes and forms. Exhibits showed many examples of what could be done with the yarns on display. The mochi mochi exhibit was a delightful play town, fully landscaped and inhabited with droll animals and adorable houses:

But wait! There’s more! Not today, though.

Currently, I live in Northern Massachusetts. I am visiting my mother in Pinellas County, Florida, ostensibly to assist her in downsizing in preparation for a move to an assisted living facility this summer.

From the air, you can see rectangular (with 90-degree angles) ‘ponds’ almost as often as you can see ‘normal’ (organic? native form?) water bodies. Frequently there are boats moored on the water in these green rectangles. It remind me of the game “Battleship.”

People are dressed for all kinds of weather…at the same time. Driving down the street you see people in boots and sweatshirts near people in hot pants and tank tops. Some wear massively-brimmed head gear, while others sport sunglasses that would fit right in with Mardi Gras attire.

Main roadways have 40-45 MPH signs, but are lined with shops so you cannot go anywhere near that speed. Although some do try.

There are a lot of senior citizens here with deeply tanned and weathered skin, wearing red hats, sequins, the latest high-tech athletic shoes, and using walkers. Except for the hats, I was referring to the men. Men wear baseball caps with lewd sayings or team logos on them. Actually, so do a lot of the women. Many of the men sport low ponytails so length of hair is not necessarily a gender identifier.

Small dogs abound! Most are carried from poo place to poo place. Larger dogs have owners attired in designer leashes that sport attached plastic poo pick up pouches among the large silver studs. Outdoor art festivals are magnets for these life forms. Acknowledging pet popularity, many outdoor cafes and bars post ‘pooch friendly’ alfresco dining and imbibing sections.

The art festival I browsed yesterday catered to pet vanity with matching jewelry items for pet and owner/staff.

The last two images were taken with my Droid2 in brilliant sunlight and sharp shadow. I couldn’t see what I had until I got back. Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Florida is almost totally surrounded by water and is filled with lakes and other small water bodies yet it in a drought. I miss the soft, lush green of the mid-Atlantic and northeastern states. You don’t dare go outside barefoot because the grass is more like shards of sandpaper even when it is green, which most of it is not just now.

Compensating for the above is the fact that I can go outside in shirt sleeves and feel a glorious breeze and sun on my face. That’s more than enough for now.

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