"Nothing is exciting if you know what the outcome is going to be."
Joseph Campbell, 20th Century Philosopher & Mythology Expert, from A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living
I'm trying to hold on to that thought. I'm not sure how this knitting is going to work, but I'm still excited:
Pattern: Surplice Lace Top from Nashua Handknits N. Am Designer Collection #4
Yarn: Classic Silk by Classic Elite, color 6955
Size: My gauge is a touch large with the courser yarn, so doing a bit of customizing. Switched to knitting in the round and added a tapered panel to each side to reduce the hip to waist measurement. Planning to start the top below my bustline and do bust darts for shaping. Almost to that point. Cast on a different yarn, but halfway through the first repeat it was obviously not going to work. Got gauge with the swatch, but it bit me when I switched to the pattern work. At least I'm getting faster at recognizing my mistakes.
This last month has had a strange quality. While very busy, nothing particularly horrible or fantastic has happened to me personally, but boy, the world at large has been, well, all over the map. So many things seem to be up in the air right now. Sometimes it feels overwhelming to me. Having a 10-year-old means you have to try to explain natural disasters, food shortages, war, inflation, energy issues and presidential and world politics to someone with no knowledge base, but who is old enough to be thinking about these problems. You have to put away your flippant shorthand used between adults and try for real answers because this is a person to whom you feel an obligation not to offer pat, party-line (whichever one), Pollyanna answers, and yet you do not want to offer unvarnished truth so raw as to make her totally jaded and despondent. I'm always trying to find thoughtful and balanced ways to say humans are self-destructive animals, but chin up honey, we're capable of great things too. "Children are our future" offered up in song, speeches and slogans sounds a bit saccharine sometimes, but right now I'm putting my hopes on a girl who likes math and science, loves animals and wants to work to develop alternate energy sources.
Being around 6-yr-olds can help too. I went to Em's classroom to help make a quilt for her newly married teacher. The kids did a great job making their squares and it was so much fun to watch them color. I'll post more on that next time.
Another way I deal with news overload is gardening and being outdoors. I know this isn't revolutionary, but it works wonders for me. I'd never gardened until we bought this house, so I'm learning all the time. All that talk about "the garden teaches you what it needs" is pretty true. It's educated me to say no to the siren song of a some oh-so-pretty plants at the nursery. This spring there's been some dashing upon rocks and tossing into the compost heap, but overall things are taking root. This view is starting to please me:
Between the tree on the right, the shrubs in the middle and the just planted pepper trees and mallow on the slope (you can't really seen them yet) this whole fence line should disappear within 2-3 years. Not soon enough for me! One of my big goals with this garden is to blur all the edges. The bone dry rock-filled slope makes that a little more of a chore than just putting in some shrubs, but we're getting there.
There's now a bit of dappled sunlight to mark the afternoon. Finally! I adore trees and the lack of them this past two years has been challenging. A changing play of light through the day is a big deal to me, so mitigating the flat bright sun out there has been a priority.
The Pittosporum tenuifolium silver sheen are fantastic in the afternoon sun and photos can't do them justice. Like miniature aspens, it's the play of wind and light that make them sing. Right now they've grown to about 6', but they can go up to 15 feet. I like my neighbors a lot, but I think we'll both we happy when we can't see each other's houses!
My roses are doing pretty well after a scary start. We had two different record setting heat waves and the second one topped out at 98 F in my backyard! Newly budded plants don't like that and neither did I. It looks like one crape myrtle tree won't be blooming this summer because it sent out it's buds over that time and they got fried. Today it's overcast and in the chilly low 60's. I don't mind the delay of summer heat. Ever changing bouquets have started gracing the table. I generally take roses growing close to the ground, through the middle or on weak stems and I fill with whatever else is blooming, so my arrangements are a bit ... casual, but they do smell great.
This one is a day or three past prime, but the lamb's ear is proving itself useful. I swear it kept growing in the vase. There's a lot more going on in this one, but you really need 3D to see it all.
This is a no spray garden, so we've got birds, bees, butterflies and a world of insect life out there. Last year things weren't balanced yet, but so far this year we've not had a major infestation. I'm not an expert, but I've done a bit of research on plant mixing. The trick is creating a diverse enough eco-system and accepting the ebb and flow. Last year the bronze fennel was covered in caterpillars, wasps, bees and ladybugs.
This year those caterpillars brought a banner spring of hummingbird moths. Very cool.
They love the Cedros Island verbena out front. Our front yard is tiny, so we skipped grass completely. Our property is at the base of a hill and on a curve, so the house sits far forward on the lot. I don't mind because we have a good sized backyard relative to the neighborhood and I prefer to garden in my ratty clothes and without making small talk. There are drought tolerant, very low maintenance plants out here, so it only takes a few minutes a month to clean thing up. I'm loving the chartreuse euphorbia with the gray artemisia, red flax and purple verbena in the background.
Yesterday for Mother's Day we went out for burrito bowls at Chipotle, then a latte at Barnes and Noble and closed with a trip to Home Depot for irrigation supplies -- do I lead a romantic life or what? Came home and tried to sneak a nap. The defining moment? "Mom?" Closer "Mooom? Mom?" A little closer "MOOOMM?" Silence. Wait for it... Feel the breath from the small face two inches from my previously napping face ... "Mommy? Are you awake? Look, I made you a card!"
The best part was definitely a late afternoon family hike (with dog) up in the reserve behind us. It's a rocky climb, but one rewarded with ocean and lagoon views. And wildlife. We had a peaceful encounter with a full grown rattlesnake across our path and the girls were excited to tell everyone about it at school this morning. It certainly gets your adrenaline going, but the snake doesn't want you, so the trick is seeing them in time so you can back off. You stand still and the snake relaxes and slides away - everyone's happy. We even found a geocache after a bit of backtracking and much mumbling at the borrowed GPS from my husband. Having a goal certainly helps keep the kids engaged on a two hour hike. Sorry, no photos because we forgot the camera ... and a phone, which we both noticed after the snake meeting. Next time.
Let's see ... what else has kept me away from the PC? All the normal stuff, plus two different in-law visits, softball playoffs, home projects and this twin sized quilt. Almost done, but wrestling with the machine quilting takes a certain mindset and I haven't been in that place these past few weeks. Add the challenge of moving a 20lb orange mass and it's impossible.
Cats are masters of the pretend nap. "What? I can't hear you ..." But I must say he looks lovely on it.
Also, I've found a great local knitting group. I really enjoy blogging, but it's wonderful to sit in person and chat about fiber things. One kind and brave member opened her house for a dying session. Between all the Kool Aid and Mexican Agua Fresca powder in the air it was very fruity smelling for a while. Throw in margaritas and alcohol laced cupcakes (oh my) and fun was had by all. Everyone's yarn looked fantastic hanging out to dry on the patio umbrella, but yet again I forgot my camera. This is becoming an issue! Thankfully Kelie was on top of it. She even captured my henna-looking dyed hands (only two days to wear off). And no, not a spec of dye on my white shirt! Of course that's because it's a baggy old gardening shirt. Had I worn something I liked I would have looked like a drop cloth. When you pop over to Kelie's to look at those photos be sure to scroll down to see her FABULOUS Central Park Hoodie. The color, yarn, buttons, fit --- everything about it is absolutely perfect and I can tell you it looks even better on her in person.
Here are my KnitPick's
lace fingerling weight hanks after drying. (Added later: This yarn is Knit Picks Bare Sock Yarn, natural, 75% superwash/25% nylon, 462 yds/100 gs, $5.99. We ordered as a group, so I didn't have it locked in my mind) I started with Klass Agua Fresco flavors: Pina, Guayaba, Mango, Sandia, Jamaica, Melon and finally Tamerindo (kind of a brown yellow). I got mine at a Mexican grocery story over in San Marcos. Finished with an over-dye of Kool Aid Strawberry and Black Cherry. The Mexican flavors seem to have subtler shading -- less of the technicolor intensity of Kool Aid. Not bad or good, just differnt.
Now I have to figure out what to do with this. (Added later: Maybe socks huh?) Hope to find some inspiration on a new Ravelry group Maria posted about. If you're on Ravelry and knit lace, check out Seasons of Lace, Summer 2008. A final bit of inspiration, go look at Maria's silk and bead lacework ... oh my! I can't wait to see where that goes.