July 2005

I noticed that it’s been a long while since I posted a photo of knitting. I figured tonight was the right time to do so, ’cause this picture can serve as a benchmark for measuring how much real progress I make on the flower basket shawl at the SnB tomorrow.

five repeats

And now, another vacation-related picture. I mentioned the booksale that my parents and I went to; well, I also dug a couple of (dozen) books out of boxes in the closet in my room the big guest-room. Since I couldn’t very well carry all of them plus my week and a half’s worth of luggage and fiber home on the train, my parents mailed me two boxes of books. Pictured here are the books I got at and because of the book sale. (Some of them were books my dad bought that he discovered later were duplicates.)

the braiding book should be interesting for edgings

And here’s a gratuitous picture of Mel, who’s been particularly cute and sleepy (and not pointy!) since I got home from work:


I’m joining the Eat Local Challenge for next month.

So, for the month of August, all the food I buy is going to be from the farmers’ market or the co-op, with the co-op foods being marked as local, with the following exceptions: milk, juice, yogurt, salad greens, and dry goods. I’m also going to keep eating things that are already in my kitchen (including my very full freezer), and I’ll probably buy lunch or otherwise eat out a few times, but this should be fun. I don’t know how different it’ll really be, since I buy most of my produce at the farmers’ market anyway, but I like the idea.

I have completely forgotten which knitblogger posted a sample budget spreadsheet (with spending categories that included “yarn and wine”), but, whoever you are, I thank you. I may actually keep track of my spending now that I have a budget that’s more than a scrap of paper with approximated income, bills, and savings written on it. (And just in time, since my rent is going up and my stipend isn’t.)

edit: AHA! It was Crazy Aunt Purl! Go read her blog, even if you don’t need help with budgeting. She’s great.

Yesterday was the second day in a row of excessive heat warnings in Philadelphia. How would that inspire me to knit? Well…not the weather so much. But, like a good knitter, I had my two front-burner projects with me, so, when I found myself waiting for someone for twenty minutes, I knit about a row of FBS. Ah, lace. And then, when I went to get groceries at Trader Joe’s, I had to take my shawl out of my totebag so I could arrange my milk and orange juice without hurting it. That started a nice conversation with the cashier, who’s a knitter newly moved to Philadelphia–I pointed her in the direction of two nearby yarn stores, and mentioned the online communities.

As a testament to today’s much-improved weather (high of 82ºF, yesterday’s temperature at 6:54am), I found myself thinking about shawl shape on my walk to work. I’d like to knit another shawl for my mom, one that’s wider than the usual half-square. That is, I want to knit a triangular shawl whose point is maybe 120º instead of 90º. I think the Feather and Fan Triangle shawl in Folk Shawls is wider like this, but do any of you know of other examples?

I had a very nice weekend. Since I had kitten-playing-with guests both days, I think Mel appreciated it, too. And, most exciting, I actually did some knitting. Anju convinced me that the free TMBG concert at Penn’s Landing wouldn’t just be a kids’ concert, so I met up with her and Tim at the entrance. (I also saw several people from work, which amused me.)

Anyway, I knitted about a third of a repeat of the Flower Basket Shawl on the trolley on the way there. Since I don’t have a new picture, I’ll just ask you to imagine a four-repeat FBS in variegated grey. (Add to the list of “ways in which Naomi is weird”: I see FBS on knitting blogs, and I have to correct myself from “fetal bovine serum”)

During the concert, of course, I couldn’t concentrate enough to knit lace, so I switched to the second wildfoote sock, which grew by about half an inch. Again, no new picture, but I’m sure you can imagine a two-inch toe-hat in red variegated yarn. (Who, me? Variegated yarn in everything? I don’t know what you’re talking about.)

After the concert, we had dinner at Kabul, a nearby Afghan restaurant about which I had heard good things. The food was excellent, if a smidgen pricier than my usual haunts (read: entrees for more than $10), and I particularly liked the lamb with eggplant and the curried pumpkin. Anyone know of good recipes for Afghan-style pumpkin curries?

Then, on Sunday, Anj and Sue came over for dinner and playing with Mel. They brought a blueberry clafouti, which was both delicious and part of my decision to use my blueberries in chocolate cake. It is also quite likely that I will try a pear clafouti when there are pears at the farmers’ market.

Friends + cooking + fibercrafting + music = happy Naomi

edit: oh, yeah, and the concert was quite good, as I’d expect from them

I bought some blueberries at the farmers’ market over the weekend, and, since I’ve been eating so many blueberries and cherries this month, I decided to bake with them. This is my standard vegan chocolate cake recipe, plus blueberries. Mmmmm…. It came out very nicely.

Vegan Chocolate Cake with Blueberries

Preheat oven to 350º.

sift together
1 1/2 c flour
1 c + 2 T sugar
6 T cocoa
1 t baking soda
1/16 t salt (very scant 1/8 t)

combine & add
1 c cold water
1/4 c oil
1 T vinegar
2 t vanilla

stir in most of a pint of fresh blueberries

bake 25-30′
makes a thick 8″ round

I spent my evening reading the new Shoebox Project and the new Harry Potter book. Nothing new is happening re. fibers, except that I got more roving from Three Waters Farm yesterday.

So that this post isn’t entirely pointless, here’s a picture:


I was starting to look at some slides on the confocal this afternoon, and it looked decidedly questionable. Not only was the staining dimmer than I thought it should be (based on looking at it on the other microscope), but the plain light bits (which are a lot harder to screw up) were also really dim. I checked the amount of oil on my coverslip, and there was plenty, so that wasn’t it. Then I was reminded that the objective might be dirty. OH MY GOODNESS, cleaning made a difference. Those two pictures? Same growth cone, same settings. The other impressive bit? I couldn’t see anything on the objective when I took it off the microscope to clean it. So (note to self) even if it isn’t visibly dirty, it might be desperately in need of cleaning.

While I was visiting Olivia, she told me a funny (true!) story:

One of her housemates was playing Scrabble in the other room, and she overheard the players arguing over the validity of a word that one of them was trying to play. She could hear someone saying, “I’m pretty sure an iwi is some kind of animal,” and thought to herself, “I bet they mean ‘kiwi’. Oh, well, they’ll probably come in and ask me at some point, since I’m a biologist.”

Sure enough, they asked her. But the word was “ewe”.

On Monday, I headed back to Vermont. It was an absolutely lovely day for a drive, so the fact that my lunch stop turned into a scenic detour (along US4 and VT100) was no problem. Actually, the drive from Killington to Waterbury on rte. 100 was my favorite drive of the whole trip–little to no traffic, scenery that I could admire while driving… When I got home, I was drafted into cooking dinner, since our friends Marla and Jim were coming over. It was good to see them, although longer than two and a half hours would’ve been nice.

Tuesday was set aside for “errands”, so the first stop was the Northeast Fiber Arts Center. I spent a lot of money (surprise!) but I really like everything I bought:

cascade 220 superwash and two colors of merino-silk

a silk cap and 8 oz. of wool-mohair

Once my dad got home from work, we got to work in the basement, making two of these in different sizes:

niddy noddy, glowy ’cause the picture was blurry

Wednesday was a long day of Amtrak-ing. It took the scheduled 11 hours to get to Philadelphia from Essex Junction, but it only cost as much as two tanks of gas… I made good use of my time, finishing Emily of New Moon and reading Emily Climbs and Emily’s Quest and then knitting a repeat on my flower basket shawl. Perhaps because I’d spent a while knitting on the train, I spent a good chunk of the rest of the evening spinning. I started with trying the andean-plying bracelet on the corriedale that was on my spindle, but that didn’t work out too well. It was way too tight, and didn’t loosen into a bracelet, and then I couldn’t find the inside end after it broke. So that got moved onto a pair of “bobbins”. I’ll get back to them eventually…


For now, though, I’m working on this:


On Friday (the 8th), I headed down to Somerville, waving to Amy Boogie along the way. After a few slight mishaps due to lack of signage (ah, Massachusetts, and thank goodness for maps), I made it to my friend Olivia’s house. We headed over to a local Thai restaurant, where, much to our surprise, the noodle dish I ordered (sri rad na?) came with penne. It was still quite tasty… When we got back to Olivia’s, she gave me a pair of presents:

a dipping bowl and a beautiful, birch bark-framed mirror

On Saturday, we went to investigate Mind’s Eye Yarns in Porter Square. Alas, they were closed for vacation. So we headed over to South Station so I could get my train ticket home, and then we wandered around Chinatown for a little while. Out of curiosity, I tried a lotus paste bun. It was tasty, although mild and a little sweeter than I usually like, but does anyone know what the yellowy blob in the middle of the pasty bit would’ve been? Some sort of processed lotus root?

After that, we decided to go to the public library to see an exhibit on printing. Unfortunately, it’d closed the day before. Since the clouds had mostly gone away, we went out to Revere Beach. We walked up and down the beach for a few hours. It was great. The water was a bit warmer than in Maine, so we could keep our feet in the water. I can’t think of the last time I’d been to a beach in anything approaching wading weather, so this was long overdue. Olivia’s also perfect company for beachgoing, as she’s a marine biologist.

Revere Beach

Olivia told me what kind of clam these are, but I forgot

a crab shell, remarkably intact

a moon snail

We had lunch from a stand across the street from the beach. I had cheese fries, with about two years’ serving of bacon. In sharp contrast, we had watermelon, blueberries, and popcorn for dinner, while watching a movie that I think was called Boys On the Side.

Sunday was a day of wandering around Cambridge. We started with Woolcott, where I spent a while looking at all the yarn and came away with two fifty-cent patterns. The rest of Harvard Square was a bit more successful at getting me to spend money. I bought two CDs at Newbury Comics (and I was sorely tempted to buy more than that). Lunch was at a wonderful vegetarian pizza-and-stuff restaurant; I got grilled portobellos with red pepper-almond sauce and basil-tofu mash (on pizza), which I’m going to have to try to replicate sometime. After that, we walked along the Charles and then over to Central Square. We poked around in a store full of Archie McPhee-like stuff, got ice cream, and then went to a great bookstore where I found a book I’d been looking for for a while.



…And then we wandered back to Olivia’s, and to her lab, where I got to meet their pet sand crab and see their snails and mussels.

a balloon flower along the way

This was very much a summery vacation. An afternoon at the beach, watermelon, blueberries, and ice cream while I smelled of sunscreen. Quite a difference from Maine, where I was wearing long sleeves over a t-shirt and almost shivering… If only the weather would realize that summer vacation is over and stop being so hot and humid.

The second bit of my summer vacation was a visit to Chantal and Jeremy. I was all excited when I saw that the most direct route from my parents’ house to Chantal and Jeremy’s included a long stretch of US2, because I like driving on two-lane highways. What I hadn’t recalled was that rte. 2 has lots of towns and town traffic, and I hadn’t thought about the effects of road work on two-lane roads. So it was a nice drive, but not as nice as I’d hoped.

My first conscious thoughts about Maine: Maine is huge (you know, compared to the ~2h to cross Vermont, and the seemingly ~30′ to cross northern New Hampshire; it’s big for New England). And it’s gorgeous. Even during the stops for road work, where there was only one lane for a while and the other direction was moving, the scenery off the road was nice enough to distract me.

Later on: You know, there are an awful lot of conifers in Maine. There are still birches and, um, other deciduous trees that aren’t as easily recognizable/some of my favorite trees/as memorable, but there’s a higher percentage of conifers than in the Burlington area. Also, that’s a lot of lupines along the sides of the roads. Mmm, lupines. Seeing them was especially nice since I’d found my old copy of Miss Rumphius while sorting through books at my parents’ house.

So, after a few more hours of driving through Maine, and after learning that Mainers drive really, really fast, I made it to Machias and Chantal’s house.

On Wednesday, Jeremy went off to work for a while and Chantal and I slept in and then went to beaches at Roque Bluffs and Jonesport/Beals Island. I don’t have any pictures of Roque Bluffs yet, since I took those with my real (film) camera and have yet to develop them. Here are a few pictures from the Jonesport area:

periwinkles at the dock

there are roses along lots and lots of beaches, and they smell lovely

one of the amusing parts of taking pictures out the car window

Later, after a bit of a nap, the three of us drove up to Lubec for a free concert of Baroque music. I was disappointed that the woman who was supposed to have been playing baroque flute wasn’t there, but harpsichord and viola da gamba are also quite nice. The performance was good, and they gave some nice bits of historical background information. I knew some of it already, but more context is always nice. (I sometimes miss having people discuss music history at the dinner table.) And, hey, the concert was a great place to knit on the toe of my sock, since I couldn’t see the performers anyway.

Thursday also started slowly, as is appropriate for vacation. Once we’d gotten moving, we went to Chantal and Jeremy’s favorite local diner. The cook called in from the kitchen area that she had fresh strawberries (it was really just strawberry season! in July!), so I had strawberry crepes. Mmmm, strawberries. In the theme of berries, since Maine is such a blueberry-ish place, there’s a store near Machias that’s shaped like a giant blueberry:

me and Chantal in front of the blueberry

After visiting the blueberry, we went on something of a yarn crawl. We started with a store called Shirley’s, which has lots and lots of stuff other than yarn; I bought a spool of dark purple copper wire for knitting. Then, after running some errands in Ellsworth, we set out to try to find Tess’s Yarns. Note the word “try”. We had a general idea of where there’d been signs from the road. Before we got to where they’d been seen, we found signs for “Shaw’s Place, Handknits”, so we headed over that way to investigate. No yarn for sale, but some interesting antiques (including a blue parasol covered in black lace that I would’ve liked for a costume) and some cute kid clothing, and the owner was a very friendly elderly woman who tried to give us directions to Tess’s. Again, the operative word is “tried”–she knows the way, but as a route, not to give directions. We drove around a bit, and we found another sign (a couple of miles off the main road) that said “yarn that way”, but no luck.

We went back to the house to cook some dinner and collect Hartley (the cocker spaniel), and then we went out to another beach.

Chantal and Hartley at Jasper Beach

I blame the poor picture quality on the swarms of mosquitoes and black flies

So, Maine was great. I want weather like that in July! Lows in the 50’s and highs in the 60’s-70’s! (Um, something like 10-20ºC.) But, really, blanket weather without air conditioning! And ocean! Okay, that’s probably enough exclamation points for one paragraph, but I can totally see myself living in Maine sometime. Although I’d probably prefer someplace a smidgen less remote than Machias for anything other than an escape.

I just realized that I hadn’t set the post status to draft when I saved this halfway through. Sorry if you saw a half-written post and got confused…

I’m now home, with a still-somewhat-traumatized kitten. I could probably have had a nice vacation post for you, but I got sucked into trying to ply some corriedale so I could use my spindle for my new wool-mohair. I gave up on the plying and moved the corriedale to a tp-roll “bobbin” and started new stuff anyway. The next problem? On what can I start spinning the mohair-silk?

(Pictures tomorrow, I promise.)

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