Sunday, September 30, 2007

Amazing Evening at the Farm

Last night I attended a dinner at an organic farm in Denver, NC. Thanks to my friend Kate, Steve and I had the opportunity to purchase tickets at her table for this incredible night. The evening involved a large white tent with 20 tables of 8 people, seven of Charlotte's finest chefs, fourteen organic farms of varying description, a tour of the pigs, chickens, and shiitaki mushroom fields, and some truly amazing people chasing their dreams.

The evening started with a charcuterie platter of cured pork from Grateful Growers farm. My darn camera was in the car so you don't get to see this---or a million other great things. Natalie and Cassie are producing the usual pork cuts, plus salamis, bratwurst, Italian sausage, hot Italian sausage, and now . . . American prosciutto. Lord, it was good. We also had sparkling apple cider from Davis and Son Orchard.

I won't give you the complete menu; you'd hate me if I did. My favorite of the three entrees was the rotisserie fresh ham and sweet potato shepherd's pie; I really wanted both my daughters to taste this. DD1 feeds me interesting sweet potatoes when I visit and DD2 makes a great shepherd's pie. Dessert was goat's milk vanilla bean panna cotta on caramel apple cake with caramel sauce and cinnamon toasted pecans prepared by Bill Dietz of Taverna 100 and Sonoma Restaurants. Unbelievable.

We drank lots of good wine--Windy Gap--Cabernet Franc 2003

The entire meal, no feast, was local organic products. Wow, what a political statement these folks made. The local farmers who produced the ingredients were there along with the man who processes the meat. Oh, and Natalie's chiropractor who was the only doctor of any kind who would come to the farm to help with a very sick 700 lb. sow who was due to produce her litter any minute. One vet suggested she bring the sow to his office. Yeah.

The common denominator in this group was a commitment to produce food for us consumers. Healthy food. No chemicals food. Most of the farms are 5 to 10 acres and these folks work hard just to stay a step ahead of the tax man. Natalie and Cassie get their water from the well on their farm. As Natalie took us to meet the pigs and chickens, she told us how the drought this summer has affected them. The pastures aren't growing anything for them to forage; the pigs need to be hosed down 3 times a day due to the heat; and the chicks have to be kept cool by manufactured shade. She and Cassie has restricted their personal water usage severely in order to take care of the animals. I can only imagine Jenifer at Laughing Owl Farm and her family are going through to get the produce to take to market.

All of the folks contributing to the meal sell at the Charlotte Farmer's Market every Saturday. Kate says you have to get there early if you want their products. Steve and I intend to start this. It is such an eye-opening privilege to meet these folk. We must support their efforts and create a larger market so others like them can exist and share their passion with us.

Hope I see you at the market next week. Bring your knitting.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

My Personal Shopper

It's so great to be friends with the owner of your local yarnshop. Remi's Fleece Artist order came in today and she called me immediately. I hustled up and bought 2 skeins of the Woolie Silk 2ply. I want a Clapotis. I could probably make the size I want out of one ball, but why risk it? Two balls will let me knit it without worry and also make something else.

It feels luscious.

I'm in the process of adding my patterns to Ravelry--orders from my blogging mentor. I'm having a bit of trouble, but will not ask for help until I am desparate. What an idiot!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

NEW Sock Pattern--Estonian Button Stitch

This is my new sock pattern. I remembered a stitch in a square that Nancy Bush submitted to Knitters for an afghan. Lately I've become very interested in Estonian knitting; I'd love to take Nancy's lace shawl class. Of course, I've already had several classes with Merike Saarnit. I looked up the issue of Knitters and the pattern for this sock began.

The yarn is from Yarn Nerd, an enabling assist from turtlegirl76. He does a nice job with the dyeing and I like the base yarn; it has a tight twist. Sorry I've forgotten the details, but 100 grams of any sock weight will do.

The main thing I was looking for was--ta dum--a way to avoid pooling and a way to make the yarn look as good in the sock as it did in the hank. The button stitches broke up the colorway nicely and added texture without making the cuff bulky. (Bulky is not a word I like to hear.)

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the pattern. If you have any trouble with the Button Stitch, email me.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Socks are finished.

Thanks to driving to the beach and back the last two weekends, I finished two pair of socks. The pair above is Brigit designed by Gigi Silvia. Click here.Made jof CTH Supersock on size 1's. I like this cuff so much I might make these again. I knit both at the same time on one 40" needle--Magic Loop.

This is my own design highly inspired by one of Cat Bordhi's new patterns. These socks are made of Crystal Palace's Maizy, a corn fiber. Used 1's and knit two at a time on 2 circulars until I could put them on the Magic Loop.
The cuff was knit in Linen St for about an inch before joining. The split is in the center back. I fiddled with some linen and some stockinette for a while and them moved to all stockinette.
As soon as the cuff was long enough to be past my calf muscle, I shaped the cuff by moving into a k1,p1 ribbing which I continued on the heel flap. After I turned the heel I threw in a bit of seed stitch. All of this was just decided on as I knit.

The Maizy yarn feels nice on my foot, but I'm not wild about the colors. I suspect the corn fiber doesn't take dye well which is why all of the colorways are muted. Don't know if I'll use it again.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Decisions! Yarn sale

As I write, a nice man is grouting the bathroom and the glass man has measured for the shower walls and door. Can it be that a second potty will be available by the weekend? Steve and I are not a one potty household. The time is here to decide on colors--I'm not sure I can.

Instead I spent some time with my bead trash and made new markers. The small ones are designed to use with socks to mark the gusset decrease site a la Cat Bordhi. Meghan gave me the life saver type beads (do they have a real name?) some time ago and I enjoyed conjuring up a way to use them. My wraps are getting better, and it is such fun to just play. Remember when you first learned to knit and were mixing lots of yarn to make scarves? This is the same kind of fun.

Also made the row counter described in this issue of Knitters. Very simple and works well. I think the guild would enjoy making these for a program.

OTN -- a top down raglan from the Adara yarn I bought from elann. I just love the feel of the linen and cotton and thought I'd enjoy it in a "sweatshirt" substitute this fall. The time has come to decide if it will be a pullover or a cardigan. My life is nothing but decisions; I might as well be working again. :)

Little_Knits is having a big sale on Opal sockyarn(among other great things), so I ordered these.

Opal 6-Ply - Magic (Color #1711)

46% Off Sale!
Fiber Content: 75% Superwash Wool and 25% Poly

Yardage: 458 yards per each 150 gram skein (one BIG skein is more than sufficient for a pair of socks)

Gauge: 6-5.5 stitches to an inch on US size 3-5 needles

Opal Rainforest Peacock

45% Off Sale!
Fiber Content: 75% Superwash Wool and 25% Polyamid

Yardage: 462 yards per 100 gram skein (one skein for a pair of socks)

Gauge: 7 stitches/inch on US size 1-2 needles

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Veil of Leaves

From Cat Bordhi's new book and knit in Cotton Fine. I don't really like them.

At no point do I attribute my dislike to the genius of Cat Bordhi. Nope. Nor do I think the fault likes in Cotton Fine. The fault is clearly mine in that I chose cotton for a pattern that really needed a yarn with lots of memory so it wouldn't stretch out. The fault, Horatio, lies with me.

I still do not like the short row heel. It feels like it will be eaten down by the heel of my shoe. Maybe it won't, but it feels as if it will. I do not have to be rational about this. I am retired. I paid my dues.

The cuff is lovely, but stretched out and I know of no one who needs to add width to her ankles.

The socks, therefore will stay with me. I will either wear them under really long pants, or just use them to help me remain humble. Stay tuned for the new ones knit in Maisy. Corn. Who would have guessed?

On the needles today, a top down raglan made from this yarn.
elann Adara from
Fibre Content: 87.5% Mercerized Cotton/ 12.5% Linen
Made In: Brazil
Care: Machine Wash Cold Gentle/ Dry Flat
Gauge: 18 st/4 inches 4.5 mm (US 7)
Yardage: 85 m (93 yards)
Size: 50g (1.75 oz) ball
Price: $2.48 USD

It isn't the most beautiful yarn I've ever seen, but I love the hand of it. And I think it will get softer over the years. This may be a zip front cardi or a v neck pullover (haven't decided yet and don't have to decide for another 1.5 inches. I think of it like a favorite sweatshirt. I really like to feel the fabric. And the cost is wonderful.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Carpal Tunnel and Socks

It's official--carpal tunnel diagnosed! Cortisone in both wrists and nerve test is scheduled. Surgery will follow. BUT . . . my doctor is a wonder. She is a former East Meck High student, a tennis player and -- wait for it--a knitter. She was a fabulous teen and is even more awesome now. Chapel Hill, Harvard Med, Duke residency, and a sweeter girl you'll never meet. Best of all--she never even hinted I should stop knitting.

Finished object for you is the pair of Socks That Rock socks I knit for DH. Again I am trying to enhance the hand-dye, so this time I knit his K3, P1 cuff with an extra step. Round 1, I slipped the first of the three knit stitches. Round 2, I slipped the 2nd. Round 3, the 3rd. Round 4, none. It mixed the colors nicely and gave the piece a bit more texture.

Also finished is the Mystery Stole #3, but I can't block it until I uncover the guest room bed which can't be uncovered until the bathroom is finished and --well, you get the point. I received an invite for another mystery stole group through Yahoo that I joined. It will start in October, so that's the goal for blocking this one.

Finally on Ravelry where my username is jprater. I've put a few projects on there, but that will go slowly.

On the needles--The Harry Potter scarf, Brigit socks, new socks with Crystal Palace Maisy (corn fiber). I'm trying to avoid anything but wool for a few days, so that means felting. Easier on my wrists. I knit a large fair isle piece with 9 roses on it. I wish I knew what it was. Maybe a pillow top or the front of a bag. Oh, well, I enjoyed the knitting. I want to build up a bunch of felting and then have a go with the washer all at once.

Very tired from the cortisone which reacts on me like speed, so haven't slept much. I'll try to be more inspiring next time.