Monday, May 28, 2012

you and me and tea

I assembled my teapot tonight and trimmed some teacups to go with it. It still needs a couple of firings, glaze, and a handle before I can have a tea party. If it were ready now, I'd invite you for tea. We'd have black tea with cream and eat cupcakes with strawberry cream cheese frosting (they're in the fridge now, calling my name).

I'd tell you that:

  •  I need three-day weekends every week.
  • The house smells like strawberries because I bought gallons of them this weekend. I baked strawberry cupcakes and made sweet strawberry jam. Bowls full of berries wait in the fridge for me to make strawberry ice cream and another batch of jam. And the freezer is packed with strawberries for smoothies and muffins.
  • I cleared a place along our fence and planted six tomato plants. They all have charming names: Golden Jubilee, Cherokee Purple, Brandywine, San Marzano, and Japanese Black Trifele. I've forgotten the sixth one, and it's too dark now to look. 
  • I really need to weed my herb garden. It's getting embarrassingly overgrown. Just focus on the tomatoes for now. Please don't look at the herb garden!
  • K put together a couple of Adirondack chairs today. We sat outside at twilight eating strawberries and drinking red wine as the stars and lightning bugs appeared. Our house feels like home these days.
  • We celebrated my dad's birthday this weekend. Please send good thoughts his way. He gets some test results back from the doctor this week, and I'm hoping so hard that they're good.

* * * 

Then, I'd pour you another cup of tea and maybe let you get a word in edgewise. 

What would you tell me over tea?


Saturday, May 26, 2012

kalajoki socks

My feet are pretty happy these days. 

These sunny yellow Kalajoki socks are off my knitting needles and on my feet (err...they will be as soon as the temperature drops below the sweltering 90 degrees it has been this week).

This beautiful pattern is named after the Kalajoki River in Finland because the wavy design resembles the river's winding path. It's a free pattern (unbelievable!), so scoop it up and make a pair of your own. 

I used Yarn Daze Prairie Sport Weight in Sunflower, a yarn hand-dyed in Indiana. The subtle tonal variations add depth to the yarn without overpowering the pattern.

My notes are on Ravelry.

* * * 

P.S. K's grandfather made the cherry stool in the photos. K received it as a gift many Christmases ago. Isn't it great?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

teapot in progress

I spent my studio hours this week throwing a teapot and teacups. Centering the clay on the wheel gets easier each time I try. My hands are finding their positions, gauging the right pressure to compress the clay into a perfectly centered mound. Still, I have quite a few moments of wonkiness, where my hands and fingers don't work together, and I end up with a twisted lump of clay wobbling on the wheel. Luckily, the clay shows me exactly what my hands have done and what they haven't. I see the paths my fingers took as the clay spun and notice if my right index finger pressed too hard or slacked off. I can see from a sunken middle that my left palm pushed down too much. My teacher told me it would take a long time and much practice for my hands to do what my brain wants them to do. I'm enjoying the practice and am not too worried about my mistakes. I only lose a few minutes of time when I make mistakes while throwing clay, which feels amazing compared to my knitting mistakes--they can result in unraveling hours and hours of stitches.

Next week I'll put all the pieces of my teapot together. I'm excited already!

* * * 

What have your hands been busy with this week?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

just because

snails make me happy. 

maybe they make you smile, too?


found this little one while digging in my mom's herb garden. i've got lots of plants to fill my kitchen garden now! 

Friday, May 18, 2012

a knitting bag

Good morning! It's a chilly but sunny Friday morning here, and I have only eight coffee-fueled hours of editing ahead of me before the weekend officially begins! Then it's on to game night, the farmers' market, a bluegrass festival, and a day with K's parents. 

I'll be sure to take my new knitting bag along with me everywhere I go this weekend. Yes, I sewed a knitting bag to store my knitted bag. My Dejeuner Bag needed a bag of its own to keep the yarn from tangling, so I dug out some vintage sheet scraps and made this simple drawstring bag. Now, I'm not the most intuitive seamstress, so it has taken me a number of tries to find a method to make a decent drawstring bag. And now that I've finally found one, I've got visions of making many more. They're fast, useful, and pretty sweet. For this one here I used ribbon that my grandma gave me and leftover sheet fabric from these projects. The felt heart patch covers a hole in the fabric.

I'm easing back into sewing. I'm still such a beginner, and I hate being bad at things! But lately I've been feeling the itch to sew. I want try to make a skirt soon (one of these fabrics would look great!).

Monday, May 14, 2012

Saturday, May 5, 2012

good things lately

 Despite the recent storms, life has been full of some really good things lately. I thought I'd share.

Crocheting African flower hexagons outside is one of my new favorite things. I love having an outdoor space of my own now (except when the neighbor dog is out; she thinks I'm in her space and lets me know it).

{Our garden before the storm}

K made this raised bed with plans from The Vegetable Gardener's Book of Building Projects. It was his first solo woodworking project, and he did a wonderful job. The seats on each side of the bed make planting and weeding much easier. 

Also, even though the garden doesn't look as pretty after the hail storm, the plants are recovering well. I'm impressed by their resilience. We should have plenty of lettuce, chard, spinach, and kale in a few weeks.

{A new biscuit recipe}

We are breakfast-making people. Most weekends we'll make eggs or French toast or pancakes or biscuits. I usually make my tried-and-true biscuit recipe, but I just had to try out this drop biscuit recipe. The dough comes together quickly (great for bleary-eyed mornings) and produces light, slightly sweet biscuits. These biscuits are too delicate for our usual breakfast sandwiches, so we drizzled them with honey. Mmm... 

{A new mug. And a new class!}

I bought this mug at an art fair last weekend and love it so much that I signed up for one-on-one classes with the maker. I haven't been in a ceramics studio in six years! I'm so excited to get my hands in some clay.

{Game nights}

We have game nights several times each week. Sometimes it's just my husband and me, and sometimes we get together to play games with friends. Scrabble night doesn't happen often--we usually stick with newer strategy games. Our favorites right now are Dominion and Notre Dame.

* * * 

Also, today is the Kentucky Derby, which means drinking, gambling, and spending time with family. All good things.

What good things are going on in your life lately?


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

yarn along: the beats

Thanks for all of the sympathy and good wishes you sent my way. We've cleaned up the debris from the hail storm and put a tarp over our skylight, but there's not much else we can do until an insurance adjuster comes to assess the damage. So we're waiting.

In the meantime I've been knitting and reading. You probably figured that. My Dejeuner bag finally looks like something. For the first few rows it just looked like I spilled oatmeal on my knitting needles, so I'm happy that the pattern is developing. At first the pattern wraps took me a long time to complete, but I'm getting more comfortable with them so the rows going faster. I will say that the pattern instructions aren't very clear for the end of each row. Luckily Ravelry came to my rescue, as several other people had already encountered this problem and written helpful tips.

This week I'm reading Minor Characters by Joyce Johnson. It's billed as a memoir about the Beat Generation, but so far it has chronicled Johnson's early life in New York in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Even though I haven't gotten to the Kerouac gossip yet, I still find it interesting to learn about New York at that time and the mundane details of a teenage girl's life. I was a teenage girl enthralled by the creativity of the Beats 50 years later, so I'm sure my teenage self would have loved this book. In a way, I feel like I'm visiting my younger self as I read this book. At 16, I read lots of Beat novels, kept a writer's notebook, and ached to get out of high school. It's a strange sensation to meet that girl again.

* * * 

What were you like at 16? I'd love to hear.


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