Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Scallop Reveal--Potholders!

It's interesting to think about how a project comes to be. I cook and bake quite a bit, but I'd never once thought about crocheting a potholder until I saw a couple of blog posts about it. Dani posted about some colorful ones she'd made, and then I saw that Carol Anne had made some scalloped ones. After that I couldn't get the idea of crocheting a potholder out of my head. 

I ended up using that same scalloped pattern for my potholders; in addition to the fun edging, I also like the raised lines radiating from the center and the old-fashioned-feel of these potholders. 

Like Dani, I don't think I can bear actually using my potholders to get hot, bubbling dishes from the oven. I do think these will make lovely trivets for using at the table, though. They're double-thickness so my table won't get burned by straight-from-the-oven pans.

I originally made the red one for a friend, but then I couldn't part with it, so I made the blue for her instead. I think I'm only able to give it away because there is nothing blue in my kitchen. I am such a selfish crafter!

Making these potholders has already led me to other projects. I love the raised designs you can make using front post double crochet (fpdc). I first discovered fpdc while making this hat, but these potholders rekindled my love. I have several projects in the works that use fpdc to make cables. I'm so excited about them!

If you'd like more information on the potholders, here it is: pattern, red one, blue one.

Monday, August 30, 2010

csa day: catching up

[two weeks ago--that big thing in the middle is a melon that tasted like cantaloupe]

Well, happy Monday to you! How did the weekend slip away so fast? I spent mine visiting with family, taking walks, having movie nights, and reading reading reading for school. Before I knew it, it was over.  

It has dawned on me that my CSA-documenting has gotten a little lax, and we just can't have that, can we? So today I'm catching up on two weeks worth of CSA vegetables from Finger Picking Farms (last week and the week before).

We've been eating melons, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, and some very delicious okra. Hot red peppers hang on our wall, waiting to be dried and crumbled into spicy dishes.  We've also gotten some beautiful flowers--cockscomb and zinnias--as well as fresh basil. So, we've had plenty of fresh food around, though we've been struggling to find time to cook it.

What works for us during the school year is cooking only three times a week. We cook two big meals in advance, and each lasts two nights. So, on Sunday we cook a meal to eat on Monday and Tuesday. On Tuesday, we make dinner for Wednesday and Thursday.  Then we plan one fast meal to cook on Friday. This week we're planning soup (can't shake the fall fever), pasta, and homemade pizza. 

[our half of the vegetables from last week]

Menu Highlights from this week and last (i.e. I'm not including the night we ate popcorn and easy mac)

Creamy Corn Soup

Enchilada Stack with white beans, peppers, onions, and squash

Pasta with veggie crumbles, peppers, onions, and squash (noticing a theme?)

Homemade pizza with olives, tomatoes, onions, and peppers

* * * * * 

This time of year old routines get shaken up and new ones established. I hope you're finding your groove.

Friday, August 27, 2010

this moment: walking to the bus stop

[Because sometimes I need to use words to remember a particular moment]

Breaths of cool morning air fill my nostrils with the scent of summer's end. It smells bittersweet--green leaves and cut grass mix with the exhaust from yellow school buses, scrubbed clean like the kids on it, ready for the first days of a new school year. 

Acorns lay scattered on the sidewalk, still green. Gray squirrels shake a new shower of them down every few minutes. I dodge the storm and quicken my pace.

The light and shadows keep my attention. My eyes follow the changes in the dappled gray and gold; leafy shadows cross my path with the breeze. The iron fence casts a railroad track onto the concrete in front of me. I walk the tracks, a morning adventure that reminds me of the childhood magic of placing a coin on a hot rail, then returning hours later to find a flat oval slick of metal, an old President's head just barely discernable. I think of high school days spent with my nose buried in books about tramping across the country, my mind filled with dreams of traveling light, train-hopping, and living simply. 

The tracks end abruptly in the shade of a tall beech tree. The contrasting layers of its bark, swirls and rounds of gray, white, and green, look like a topographic map. The world on a tree. It feels rough beneath my trolling fingers. I keep moving.

At the corner I stop. I like the certainty of the bus stop. Stand here, sooner or later, something will happen. I wait, taking in the stillness after my brisk walk. The bus with its fumes, its crowded passengers, and its old driver will soon arrive, and though I am anxious to start the day, this pause at the bus stop feels right. It's funny, but even though I know the passing traffic is filling the intersection with honks and humming, what I hear is quiet. 

* * * * * 

Find more moments on SouleMama's blog.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Scalloped Sneak Peek

Just a little look at what I've been working on lately. Scalloped edges make me happy!

* * *

What projects are you working on?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fall Fever

I've got fall fever bad. I just didn't have a name for it until last week when I opened the newspaper to this comic. It seems like this guy is on to something...

Today is my first day back to school and work, and I'm ready to get into the groove of a routine. I'm ready to spend my evenings with a cup of hot tea, a book, and an open window. My hands are ready to get tangled up in wool yarn while making Christmas presents. My feet are ready to crunch fallen leaves on my neighborhood walks. My arms are ready for cardigans again. I want to shiver in the cool, smoky autumn air and then throw on a sweater for that delicious feeling of warmth and comfort. I'm ready to wear jeans and socks again.

I want to eat soup. I want to go to fall festivals and come home toting bags of apples. I want to bake with lots of cinnamon. I wouldn't mind a frost. I'm ready for hot, humid days to be just a memory.

I'm ready for fall. Hurry up and get here!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Baby Ripple Blanket

I've showed a couple of sneak peeks of this baby ripple, and here is the final product. Hopefully it will be wrapped around a new baby boy in about 4 or 5 weeks. 

I started this on our road trip to Minnesota, so I think it holds within its ripples the magic of traveling and a love of adventure, that might just rub off on little Gabe. 

The edging is single crochet with picot bobbles on the tips of the zigzags. 

I think this blanket will look so sweet with a baby playing on it. 

* * * * * 

Find more information about my Baby Ripple Blanket on Ravelry.

If you're interested, I made an Ocean Waves baby blanket when Gabe's big sister Emma was born last year. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Summer 2010 Vintage Swap

First off, let me just say that today is such a lovely day. The windows are open! I can feel the breeze blowing in as I type and the temperature is still under 80. It feels like a dream. 

Now, on to the Vintage Swap goodies. My partner was Amanda of Urban Almanac and she sent some doilies, a hand-adorned pillowcase, and a cheery yellow teapot. 

Over the years I've collected quite a few teapots, which I justify by telling myself that each teapot creates a different mood for a tea party. Some are small for solitary sipping, others are large and whimsical for more celebratory occasions. I am running out of room for teapots, so I've had to become pretty picky about which teapots I buy and which I leave at the store for someone else to love. 

This yellow teapot definitely has a spot in my life. I mean, it's yellow! Plus, it has such wonderful details, like the golden oak leaves and acorns and the little hook to secure the lid. I love it.

As proof that this teapot was meant just for me (and to better show off it's gorgeous color), it matches my sunshine chair perfectly. I see in my future quite a few fall evenings spent curled up in this chair, crochet project in hand, and this teapot steaming beside me. Cool breezes from the open windows will keep me company. I can't wait. Thank you, Amanda!

Here are the things I sent to Amanda. You'll notice that we both gathered yellow and green items. My finds ended up being very kitchen-y. I sent her a metal recipe box, buttons, a half-apron, a green Pyrex bowl, a wooden spool of yellow thread, and a zigzag hand towel. I hope she finds some use for these vintage items. 

I had a lot of fun picking things out with Amanda in mind and was thrilled to receive such a great teapot. I'm not sure when the next Vintage Swap will be, but if you want to participate, just keep your eye on this blog for more information.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

csa day: summer bounty

A box full of vegetables from Finger Pickin' Farms

This is what the box looks like when it's delivered to the front porch. Piles of good things waiting to be uncovered. I usually scurry out back with the box and my camera to document all the things we got. Not this week. It was too darn hot.

After the photo session, Dad and I divvy up the vegetables. This week we got tomatoes, squash, sweet peppers, hot peppers, green cucumbers, white cucumbers, potatoes, sun gold tomatoes, and green beans. Dad's excited that we're finally getting things he likes; he wasn't such a big fan of the kale or beets, but at least he tried to like them. 

* * * * * 

In other food news, last weekend I made some really amazing cupcakes if I do say so myself. Peach cupcakes with brown sugar cream cheese frosting. Yeah, my tastebuds are still having dreams about those cupcakes. I think brown sugar cream cheese frosting might just be my favorite frosting of all time. There's still an extra little stash of it hidden in the fridge that I will not be sharing (sorry K!). 

I halved the recipe and still ended up with 16 cupcakes. The only thing I'd change is to add more peach. I used two medium ones for half the recipe and it could definitely have used more. 

* * * * * 

Hope you're eating well this week!

Friday, August 13, 2010

this moment: night out at the movies

* * * 
a friday ritual inspired by soulemama.

find more moments on her blog.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

vintage picnic party and other things i love

List of things I'm loving today

1. This pinwheel floor cushion made using Sandra's method. It fits in perfectly with my style, which K recently described as "picnic/party". I'd add "vintage" and agree that it's a spot on description of my style.

2. Sweet peas in a milk glass vase.

3. Tea. Tea is always on my list of things I love.

4. This little matryoshka who is stuffed with lavender. Her name is Beatrice. She smells (and looks) so sweet.

5. Spending the afternoon with my sister, painting our nails and watching a favorite movie.

6. Feeling a breeze while out walking with K tonight. I've missed breezes.

7. Scoring some pretty skirts and cute shoes for fifty percent off at the thrift store.

8. Leftovers for dinner because it means I didn't have to cook.

9. A (relatively) clean apartment.

10. A new shawl to work on!

* * * * * 

What are you loving today?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

South Bay Shawl

So yesterday I became a shawl person. Mind you, I've been crocheting this shawl for a week, but I didn't know if I'd like it. I just had the yarn and the hook and wanted to try something new. Luckily, I ended up loving it. 

I also love that a shawl is a socially acceptable way to wear a blanket in public. Having a hard day? Wear a shawl. You can snuggle up at your desk and pretend like you're back in bed. 

This shawl is cotton, so it will be perfect to wear sometime in the next few weeks when the heat index finally dips below 100. We're burning up here in Kentucky. Right now, though, I could keep this shawl in my bag to use when I'm out at a restaurant or movie since those places crank the a/c like they're trying to recreate the chill of the arctic. It's so hard to find a comfortable place in the summer here. It's always too hot or too cold. 

I also love the versatility of the shawl. Wear it in the front, back or on the side. Making this shawl, I kept commenting to anyone who would listen that I was not going to be wearing this shawl "like a grandma." I had definite ideas that I would not be mistaken for a little old lady in this. But you know what? I kind of like it just thrown over my shoulders. Those grandmas might be on to something. 

This shawl pattern had enough variety to keep me interested, but not so much that I couldn't memorize the stitches. After the first few rows I could easily work on this without glancing at the pattern, a good quality if you like to craft while doing something else, like watching things on Netflix (oh my, I've been completely sucked in). 

One of my favorite things about this shawl is that the materials were cheap cheap cheap. Last week I bought a big bag of cotton yarn at Goodwill for $3. This cream yarn was maybe a third of the bag, so I'm estimating the cost of the shawl at $1. Not bad. And I have enough lavender cotton yarn to make another shawl. I'm thinking this half-moon shaped one

For more details about my South Bay Shawl, click here

* * * * *

I almost forgot I wanted to include some great crochet links:

Sarah London is giving away a free crochet pattern of your choice. All you have to do is leave a comment about your favorite American yarn HERE

iCrochet has some serious crochet eye candy. Leave your link there to show off your crochet projects.

The Royal Sisters blog has got a lovely new tutorial up. I can't wait to make some Star Hexagons of my own. 

If you know of any good crochet blogs, be sure to leave them in the comments. 

Monday, August 9, 2010

weekly wanderings: joe ley antiques

this week k and i, along with his parents, spent some time meandering around a huge antique store downtown. joe ley antiques has four floors packed with old stuff. it was a pleasure to browse, and i know we'll return to scour the massive record collection in the basement. 

i really enjoy finding collections of things already put together, like these vintage tennis racquets. 

this is one of several staircases that were lined with books. it made my bibliophile heart race.

wooden shoe forms piled in a barrel. 

and finally, the feet that carried us through more than two acres of antiques. whew...

* * * * * 

where did you wander this week?

Friday, August 6, 2010

this moment: playing at the antique store

antiquing with mom and jules. lots of moments to remember.

photo by mom.

* * * 

find more moments here.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

csa day: tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and corn

In this week's CSA box from Finger Pickin' Farms we found:

Top row: Tomatoes, hot peppers, corn
Bottom row: Sweet peppers, potatoes, sun gold cherry tomatoes 

Meals have been simple this week. Corn on the cob, tomatoes and cheese, done. Tacos. Mushroom and egg toast made with shiitake mushrooms and eggs from the farmers' market and whole wheat toast from my freezer. Mom had us over for dinner one night. She made some really delicious baked spinach and ricotta egg rolls and pineapple upside down cake. We've been snacking on fudgesicles and basking in the glory of air-conditioning on days when the heat index has reached ridiculous numbers like 114 degrees.  

I did bake cinnamon rolls last weekend. I was craving a luxurious Sunday morning with lots of coffee and cream cheese frosting. K put on some classical records while we read the newspaper. It was amazing, and I think it might just become a weekend ritual. 

I hope you're staying cool and eating well this week!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

weekly wanderings: madison, indiana

this past week my mom, sister, and i took a day trip to madison, indiana, which is less than an hour's drive away from louisville. madison is a small river town where the three of us have had lots of adventures. 

[little pink houses for you and me]

when julie and i were kids, mom would sometimes take us to spend weekend mornings at clifty falls state park. we'd go on little hikes, look at the waterfalls, and play in the nature center. in the afternoon we'd head to nearby madison. we'd get ice cream and roam the quiet downtown streets, stopping in antique stores and occasionally seeing a movie at the old theater. 

[old school fabric shop]

once the theater was playing some came running, starring frank sinatra, dean martin, and shirley maclaine, which was filmed in madison back in 1958. i talked my mom and sister into driving up to see it, but i ended up sleeping through the whole movie. what can i say? i was a teenager, and i had my nights and days mixed up. 

[bottles of essential oil concoctions to cure your ills]

each time i go to madison i remember all the times that have come before. i love the feeling of familiarity, of fun times had and still being had. it's a place where the magic of my childhood still seems to linger.

[architectural detail]

[bathtub cactus]

* * * * * 

do you have a place you go that instantly transports you back to childhood?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Crocheting a Cardigan

A note: I began this cardigan in March and wrote the following piece in April. Now it's July and I'm happy as a clam and hot as heck in this little wool cardigan.  I think it might work for an October wedding I'm going to, plus I'm sure it will make it into my everyday fall wardrobe, paired with a t-shirt and skirt.

          I cradle a skein of firecracker red yarn in my hands, imagining all of the things I can make with this baseball-sized round of wool and decide upon a cardigan. I've dubbed it “the wedding cardigan” because I've got six to attend in the next few months, and I need something to wear. Memories yet to be made flash through my mind. I think of the friends and family I’ll catch up with and the dancing I'll do while watching couples start their married lives together. This sweater will witness it all, sure to smell of perfume and sweat by the end of the summer.

I pick up my green aluminum hook and begin making a chain from the yarn, the slick metal sliding easily through the stitches. The start of a crochet project is my favorite part because of all the possibility a little ball of yarn holds and the magic of seeing something appear where there was nothing before—hats, socks, and scarves just seem to materialize in my hands.

Muscle memory makes crocheting quick work and allows my mind to wander. I feel the soft crimson wool sliding between my fingertips, linking me to faraway sheep, their fleece like low cumulus clouds dotting the hillsides. The wool has been dyed brilliant red and spun into delicate strands, perfect for lightweight projects. In an afternoon, a collar has emerged. I pull it around my neck and take a glance in the mirror. I think this is already my favorite cardigan.

Crocheting is often saddled with the label of “outdated craft”; it conjures up images of chunky ponchos and acrylic granny square afghans. Not to mention the word itself looks dangerously close to “crotchety,” an adjective reserved almost exclusively for sour octogenarians who are set in their ways. Though crocheting is gaining momentum again, the craft still doesn't have the hip-cred that knitting does. I’ve never heard of celebrity crocheters and a quick scan of a bookstore magazine rack tells me that knitting has a much bigger following than crochet. Sometimes it can be lonely being a crocheter.

            Despite these negative connotations, you can find me most every evening spending my downtime with a hook in hand. I loop strands of yarn over the hook, weaving it in and out of stitches, creating an intricate web of knots. I sit alone, nestled on my couch beneath quilts on cold nights, perched outside on the steps when warmth fills the air. Though solitary in my task, I feel surrounded by more company than I can count.

            When I crochet my hands are not my hands. They are my mother's hands, which taught me the craft, dry from the latex gloves she wears day in and out as a dental hygienist, and rough from weeding the garden and working the soil in the evening. They are my grandmother's hands, which have created mountains of afghans, her blue and purple veins peering through thin skin, wrinkled like crepe from years on this earth. My hands move quickly, making even stitches, and I see my great aunt's hands, her knuckles knotted, still crocheting to keep arthritis from stiffening her fingers beyond use.

            I've talked crochet with my dad's sister who learned from her grade school teacher and spent her recesses in the classroom learning new stitches. My mom's sister remembers keeping a hook and yarn in her purse, crocheting rows of an afghan in her free time. It is a craft that lends itself to befriending women of a different generation from my own. Crocheting gives me a connection to women that I never had before; we have a shared interest that expands conversation from mere pleasantries to a discussion of creativity and the feeling of satisfaction we get from making things with our hands. It's a feeling that sometimes gets lost in the daily shuffle of mass-produced items, bought cheaply and without much thought.

            That's not to say that technology necessarily hampers hand-crafting endeavors. On the contrary, I've found that blogging about crocheting has brought me a circle of friends eager to share details of their latest creations. They are women who keep their hands busy with yarn in such scattered locales as Texas, New York, Oregon, and Ontario. Swapping patterns and ideas makes me feel like part of something more than just making myself a sweater. It involves me in a growing movement to return to a simpler way of living, to appreciate the handmade despite (and perhaps because of) its flaws, and to find ways to feel productive and useful in a world that often prizes mechanical efficiency over human creativity.

            The wedding cardigan is still in progress. As the spring evening light grows longer, the short red sleeves are taking shape, growing row by row. Soon this sweater might seem just like any other one, hung in the closest or left lying on the floor after a night out, but when I see it I’ll always remember the making of it and the thoughts of family and friends that are crocheted in each stitch.  

* * * * * 

Well, now this cardigan is finally finished. It got a bit lost in the move, tucked into a box, but when I found it again I began working on it again with gusto. Seriously. I've been in a crochet haze for days now. It's all I want to do. I'm really pleased with the way the cardigan turned out, though if I had more yarn I definitely would have made it a few inches longer.

A brooch dresses it up, and makes me happy because I've got a small collection of vintage brooches started, and I'm always looking for new ways to show them off. 

Check out the project page if you're interested in the details of this cardigan. 

Lastly, thank you to all my online crochet friends! I love visiting here and on your blogs and sharing patterns and inspiration. You guys make me so happy. If you're on Ravelry, please friend me. I'm persimmontea on there. If you're not on Ravelry, you're seriously missing out on a wealth of free patterns and wonderful people. Join in the fun!


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