Monthly Archives: October 2015

Not a Roman holiday

Autumn gets me itchy for the opposing forces of nesting and travel.

Autumn is my favorite time in Italy because it is the most familiar – I spent the most time there over the years during these months – and the tourist season calms down a bit. When the leaves begin to crunch, I automatically sniff for roasting chestnuts, but alas, for most of the United States, I’ve got to settle for woodsmoke and cider, which I love too. But we decided not to go again this year for a number of reasons, and headed back north to the White Mountains, then the sea, instead.

north-dawn

Only we headed straight into the belly of American tourism, or more specifically, an army of leaf peepers. We thought we’d be ahead of them, but instead we hit at the peak – don’t get me wrong, it was a glorious multi-hued autumn bomb – but the more accessible trails were like Fiumicino airport. But luckily, we were tucked away again in our now very familiar rough and tumble-down rental cabin on the lake in near solitude, and I’m finally getting back to slightly more moderate trails.

The cabin owners left some knitted and crocheted afghans for us that we haven’t seen in the summer.

north-blanket

But I brought our big guns – vintage wool bed blankets that kept us perfectly warm sitting outside watching birds, otters, beavers, and this time, a mink, although several mornings had frost.

north-blankie

I did just a little knitting – started a gift hat that is identical in color, but hopefully sized down, to the selbu modern I made last year – and the second sock of the pair I’ve occasionally worked on since June, some sewing, and this time I also had work work, which wasn’t really unpleasant to do while away – in fact, I felt more focused.

(And was well-fueled by my favorite licorice allsorts and chocolate nonpareils snagged on the way up.)

north-candy

After a week in entirely non-internet ignorant bliss (though marred by a knife through N’s finger (I didn’t do it), a septic issue that further confirmed my certainty of never wanting to live with one, and a bizarre key issue on our way out that took half the day to not resolve and led to the elderly cabin owners having to shimmy through a window several days later) we headed further north and east to a comfortable seaside cottage near Acadia National Park.

north-acadia

We knew we’d hit crowds there, and with gorgeous weather and colors, everyone should be out, but we happily managed to have several choice trail lunch spots to ourselves and a few excursions without road noises or children screaming for ice cream in the middle of a lovely quiet forest.

We hiked, we biked, we ate a shit-ton of fried clams, chowder, and lobster rolls. The season officially ended at Columbus day, so many of the lobster pounds were closed after that much to our dismay, but the island noticeably got a bit less tourist-peopled.

I saw more sunrises in two weeks than I have for at least two years – it either comes too early or I’m not paying attention – and I shot most of them…

north-maine dawn

I’d been wanting to go to Acadia for a bit – I love moss and the juxtapositions of forest and sea and got just that – more kinds of moss than I’d ever seen before, squirrels on the beach, seaweed smells in the trees, the sounds of the surf in the pines, and chickadees and forest birds at the water’s edge.

north-teaberry

I figured we’d be annoyed with the over populated trails and cruise ships and it would be a once and done trip, but I’d come back – and definitely in the autumn…

north-rhinebeck

And Rhinebeck just happened to be on the way home… maybe more on that later…

north-frost

We left the frosty north just in time, but unfortunately, it hit at home too… more on that next time, or later…

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Filed under hiking, home decor, knitting, sewing, travel

Vested, or not my b[v]est

Once again I got to contemplating my frumpy vest.*

vest-front

I thought I fixed it enough to be happy enough wearing it at the time of that last post. I had added more length, replaced the buttons, and I thought I re-knit the shoulder edging with fewer stitches or smaller needles, but I’m guessing I just gave it a good block. But after unpacking it from summer storage (from a few summers ago, actually) it had reverted back to its stupidly pointy shoulders.

vest-side

This is not acceptable.

It would be almost okay if the vest was wide and boxy and I wore it open to just hang there and flop around, but I figured something so rustic should be more fitted to take down the frump factor a bit.

Only now it seemed a bit too fitted  in other parts too – the buttons at the bust gaped a bit.

vest-bust

So once I again, I set out to modify it.

vest-yarn

I had so little yarn left after making it the first time around, I was hesitant to just frog the whole thing and start over again. I’m still not crazy about vests, but this was the perfect amount of handspun yarn for one. The yarn matches my bike too, but there is too much of it that even if I pimped out the seat and handle bars and other things I’d still have an even more awkward amount left over. And I don’t want pillows or bags out of it, and it’s too rough for next to skin wear, so hats and scarves are out…

So I tried yet again to make it work.

I ripped out the garter armhole edging, opened up the side seams and added a little triangle at the pit for more bust ease, and reknit the armhole with an applied icord.

vest-moss

That worked out to be the perfect solution – much better fit with no pointy stuff on the shoulders.

vest-armholes

And I discovered I can wear it over my orange hoodie if I’m invited to march in the garish parade.

But if I wear it open as more of an outerwear thing, it should have a pocket. I won’t go into the rationalization except I think of fitted things having a degree of implied misery, and open things comfort and convenience and of course, that means having a “snot pocket” – someplace big enough to store a hankie for my ever dripping nose once it falls below 70 degrees.

vest-deck

I think I have just enough yarn leftover for that…

*The color is most accurate in the old post – the thing is a bit more subdued and overall burgundy-ish in real life.

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Is this lump outta my head? I think so.

I have an old cheap sofa that I’ve held onto longer than I probably should have because it’s so damn comfortable.

I bought it about a decade ago off an old apartment neighbor who got it as a gift from her boyfriend who later dumped her and she decided to move far away. It was a bit of a shame though, I hadn’t spoken to her except for neighborly pleasantries until that point, and only when she was moving did I realize she might have made for a good friend.

But her sofa, ugly as it may be, has been quite the comforting companion.

It was too big for my old tiny living room and one had to awkwardly maneuver around it when entering through the front door. But it made for decent sleeping accommodations when need be, and I had the perfect knitting nest in one corner.

I believe a good sofa must be deep and wide.

It is red, and I never much liked red, except for a bit in kitchens, and N never liked that it was faded red – it’s meant to be of the casual canvas aesthetic sort of thing, completed with cotton rag rugs and denim pillows, likely.

Unfortunately, just when I had the cash to buy a new, better colored cover, the big Swedish store discontinued the sofa and all its covers.

Somewhere along the line, I bought some fabric to make a new slipcover, but it wasn’t quite enough – so I bought some more, which still wasn’t quite enough either, but complemented the other, so I thought I would make it two toned, but then I never made it. (The fabric is still waiting to become something though – probably a slipcover for a chair instead.)

In our first house, it stayed propped on its end and shoved into the corner of the basement for a year or two until N took a job long distance and it once again reigned over a living room – a proper sized one, finally.

But then it spent nearly a couple of years in storage – I thought we’d need to trash it after it essentially stayed in a garage for so long, and who wants a sofa that’s been in a garage (especially one infested with stink bugs)?

But it came out fine.

Except the lumbar pillows.

lump-pillows

They were always a bit too lumpy – I think my neighbor had washed and dried them too often or too aggressively – I’d rather not speculate why, but the rest of the sofa is stain-free, so I’m not too worried. But the lumps made the pillows flaccid and ineffective, so I decided it was time for a revival.

lump-lumps

Should I be ashamed to admit I still kept the lumps? They’ll be good in a future dog bed, right?

I really hate to put anything in landfills.

And I wasn’t keen on stuffing it with plastics again, but wadded-up old clothes weren’t comfortable, leaves or straw too crunchy and a bit too earthy, and wool is too dear, so I got some more of the synthetic fluffy stuff.

lump-stick

It came with a free “tool.” Now I like free shit as much as the next guy, but for chrissakes, it’s just a chopstick – a single chopstick in a paper sleeve just like what chopsticks come in – did a chopstick factory accidentally package only singles and the stuffing company get a bargain?

Not to mention I already had a few random chopsticks kicking around in my sewing box along with a pencil or two with the lead broken off for the same purpose… A stuffing “tool” is probably the one thing people don’t really need…?

lump-during

So I crammed the pillows to their fill and made them a bit lumpy in a fluffy way, but that didn’t really matter. I like some poly fill brands over others but I buy it so infrequently that I forget which I like and I’m not certain this was the one…

But now our lumbar regions are properly supported once again when lounging in the basement – the perfect place for a less than perfect but still very comfortable sofa.

lump-after

A bit ago I ordered a pound of yellow dye to revive an old rag rug and turn this sofa cover orange – I figured the best options for overdying it were brown (but we already have a brown sofa upstairs), purple (meh, purple), deeper red, black, or orange – but I didn’t want to worry about potentially staining our clothes if I didn’t wash a dark dye out well enough, so I figured the yellow was the best option and I wanted a yellow rug anyway. But now I’m not so sure – the red sofa actually matches a rug for once and it is the basement, so a bit of a mishmash is warranted…

But I do like orange much more than red…

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Filed under dyeing, home, home decor, recycling, sewing

A time for pie

I’m not a huge fan of sweets.

I like a bit of dark – bloody, earthy, dirty – chocolate after some, though not all, meals.

Or nut cake on holidays.

Or, occasionally, pie.

pie-apple detail

I don’t cook much – that’s N’s job – partly because though eating is a hobby of sorts of mine, most nights I’d be fine with some scrambled eggs and greens or pasta – something quick but nutritious so I can get on with other things.

I am originally from the Midwest, and some might claim that baking is my birthright because of it – like a southerner cooking up the best grits or sweet potato pie, or a Mainer creating a clambake, or a Californian making a… salad – but I credit my years of 4-H (which yes, is largely a Midwestern thing) and baking as as kid at home

My mother claimed her mother always baked a weekly cake or pie for their family growing up (we had more of fortnight treat) so I followed this tradition for several years of my 20s until I began to feel the dough on my body…

But N likes dessert and I like fruit, so a pie or two comes out of our kitchen every so often.

Living in a small town on the edge of rural areas means we can get fresh things by the peck or bushel rather than just a few pretty but pricey pounds from our old urban organic farmer’s market.

So the prescription for a peck of peaches at their peak is to prepare a perfect pie…

pie-peach

And apples are an appropriate answer to the age-old epicurean announcement of the arrival of autumn…

pie-apple

Baking takes more time than I’m often willing to give, and makes a mess larger than I’d like to clean, and I grumble during the whole process, but I do enjoy the end result.

And it helps take the edge off of the loss of daylight.

pie-slice

And it’s even better with coconut whipped “cream” – one of the best things my dairy-challenged self has discovered and consumed by the globs of late…

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