In Which I Find a Hidden Vegetable

The spaghetti squash plant is trying so hard.

When we brought the plants home from the gardening store where we bought them, we made a sudden stop at a stop light and the plants pitched forward in the backseat where they were. The spaghetti squash and cucumbers fell off the seat and some of their vines broke. It was quite hard on the squash. But, I planted them in hopes that they’d be able to recover.

We’re now 6 weeks into the growing season, and while I’ve gotten a lot of blooms, they’ve all wilted and fallen off the plant and not turned into fruit. Since squash need the full growing season, this has been a little sad. I thought it might be a pollinator issue; I’ve not seen a lot of pollinators in the backyard where the plants are. But, when I went out to try hand pollination (with the help of q-tip), I found the spaghetti squash has a little beetle friend.

Hello, beetle buddy

So, now I think that maybe the trauma of the quick stop isn’t something my spaghetti squash plant can overcome. I was checking on my plants and doing a little weeding, lamenting the lack of squash and wondering if I’d get any cucumbers this season, either. That’s when I noticed, quietly growing under several large leaves, a cucumber.

my first cucumber!

I am so proud of this little guy, doing its own thing without any attention. This little cucumber was just growing, silently, while I watered and weeded and didn’t notice. It is nice to be reminded that if you just keep doing your thing, you can grow and make progress on whatever you’re working on.

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How I Use Productivity

On A Playful Day‘s instagram the other week, she had a discussion about structured play and how some kids (and adults!) do better with a little structure. It was such a lovely conversation and it got me thinking about my own relationship to structure and how I still struggle with it. I was well into adulthood before I realized that I thrived with structure and that I floundered in less structured environments. This isn’t to say that I can’t deal with unstructured time or work environments, but it is to say that I need to bring my own structure to situations and better manage myself so that I don’t let situations overwhelm me or feed my anxiety or tear at my self-esteem. I’ve spent a lot of time, especially in the last few years, building structure that I can work within. So, this insta-stories conversation really resonated with me. I’ve talked about the various productivity apps and programs that I use, but I don’t really use them to be productive, I really use them to build scaffolding in my life so that I can get things done.

Sometimes, it seems like the older I get the more my life is like being in a kindergarten classroom. I work a lot from home, and the areas at home where are work are different than the areas where I recreate, and I work on different kinds of work in different spaces (like having stations!). I build in rest times, using the forest app and the pomodoro technique (I also like to read and knit or spin after lunch for a bit if I can). I have snack time. Sometimes it amazes me that I ever devalued or avoided doing these simple things that take care of me. How did I ever get the idea that these things weren’t useful or valuable?

So, when I’m being “productive” and using the forest app, its not just keeping my off my phone but its helping me to work and to relax. (It also helps me track my work time, although, there are other ways I do that.) I use asana to keep an eye on the things I need to accomplish in a given time period. Sometimes, you don’t know what to do next and having a list already made saves me the time (and the frustration) of having to look. I am proud of myself for building this structure in my life, even if I’m both a little annoyed that I have to and a little annoyed that it took me so long to realize that I needed it.

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The doldrums of shawl knitting

I’ve reached the part of shawl knitting where nothing new and exciting is happening but the shawl is not done. I love wearing shawls and I love lace knitting. There is something really soothing about doing a pattern with a repeat. But, once you get into a pattern, it is a lot of the same thing over and over again.

Those rows are getting so long

But, look at all the progress I’ve made! For the lace part I’ve been using leftovers but I didn’t really do a good job regularly switching between the leftovers. This is okay; the leftovers go well together and they add to the texture of the piece. I’m not sure I would notice if I didn’t already know that it was more than colorway.

In the progress department, earlier this week I wove the ends in from previous color swaps. So many pieces languish forever in the purgatory of the knitting being finished but the ends not being woven in. (The pussy hat I knit in January 2017 to wear to the women’s march still hasn’t had the ends woven in.)

Ooh! Speaking of weaving in ends, I finished the boneyard shawlette. Cooper did not enjoy modeling it, but he did it anyway.

Boneyard bandana on the lovely Cooper

Anyway, back to the original discussion. I’ve decided to switch colors once a week. So, in the past week, I’ve done seven repeats. I might actually finish this piece this summer! I’ll have a summer-colored shawl in time for fall.

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In which I cook with produce from my garden

The kale, swiss chard and broccoli have all reached a size that I’ve started harvesting it. We’re going to have kale and swiss chard every week until the first hard frost, probably. (And, maybe beyond that if I can figure out how to grown greens indoors.) I am very proud of the my plants. I’ve got an eggplant, tomatoes and chilis coming in. The squash and cucumbers are still blossoming. And, then there are all the greens. With my first kale harvest, I made a white bean, avocado, and kale salad. It had a citrus dressing. (I was going to make the dressing from scratch, but then I remembered that Newman’s own makes a wonderful citrus vinaigrette and so I just bought that.)

Great northern bean, avocado and kale salad

With the first swiss chard harvest, I made a sausage, swiss chard and swiss cheese quiche. It didn’t occur to me that I was making so many “swiss” choices, but I did. The quiches were crustless and probably needed more chard and less sausage. They were still pretty good though.

Chard, sausage, and swiss cheese wuiche

The first broccoli harvest I used to make a pasta salad. I’m pretty proud of this one. To the broccoli I added rotini, shredded cheddar jack cheese, red onion, craisins, candied pecans, halved grape tomatoes, and a bag of broccoli slaw. With this one, I used a white balsamic with honey dressing from my local grocery store. It might be my new favorite dressing. The pasta salad was a big hit.

Broccoli salad. Look how beautiful my little broccoli is!

This might be the summer of quiche because for the second time in a week, I made quiche. I used some leftover chicken with sharp cheddar cheese, and kale sautéd in olive oil with garlic and shallots. The chicken didn’t really add anything to it, but the kale with the garlic and shallots was awesome. This was also crustless; that was just easiest. Crust can be nice but it is a hassle.

Chicken, cheddar and kale quiche

I don’t know what I’m going to make with the kale, chard and broccoli next. I bought some tomatoes, beets, fennel, mint and tomatoes at the farmer’s market and I’ve already made a beet, fennel and mint salad and I have plans to sauté the beet greens and serve them with some potatoes. The plan was to make BLTs (maybe BCTs? or BKTs?) but I think I also might make a cucumber caprese salad with one of the tomatoes. My basil plant is definitely ready for a harvest.

I love this time of year. There is so much bounty on display and it feels like there is time to try new things. At the farmer’s market we saw kohlrabi, purple cauliflower and so many summer squash and zucchini. Oh, do I have some plans.

So, even though I have dissertation edits and I lot of other work on, I’m so thrilled to have this creative outlet. I mean, you gotta eat, right?

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Tour de Fleece: Day 1

I wanted to start off strongly, so for today I set myself a goal of finishing this lovely blue roving.

I started with 4 ounces of it awhile ago and 3 or so ounces of it have already been spun. It has been awhile since I’ve actually broken out my wheel and done some spinning. I don’t think I spun at all last winter and spring. Since most of the four ounces are already spun (there’s just what you see there left), I had a jump on it.

I had planned for it to be a two-ply. I think the plan was to then Andean ply it. This technique allows you to ply two ends of the same single together. But, this technique isn’t great with a whole lot of yarn and 4 ounces of spun single can be a lot. (It is a favorite technique of mine, though.) The video below shows how to make an Andean bracelet, which is the set-up step for the plying technique.

But, while I was spinning, I realized that I had a bobbin with some Shetland spun on it and that the last of roving is also in my to-spin queue. So, I think I might spin the rest of that Shetland and then ply the brown with the tropical sea. I think it might make a nice hat in the end.

This lighter brown at the front I have already started as a single.

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In which I prepare for Tour de Fleece

I sat down to start planning last night for the tour. I have all this roving but I’m not always sure I know what I want to do with it. I know that this blue is going to be a two-ply fingering weight, mostly because I’ve already spun most of it.

And, this is meant to be a gradient from one end of the rainbow to another.

This is goat fiber! I don’t think I’ve ever spun goat before!

This beautiful wool is going to be fractal spun.

This is from Sweet Georgia Yarns. I love it so much.

But, I’m still working on the rest of them. Even if I only manage to get in 15 minutes a day, I bet I can get through at least those three projects. Then, I’ll get to think about what to knit with them. Ah, so fun.

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Ooh! I a new (old) project!

So, last week I cleaned out my storage unit and moved into a pod. There’s a story there, but let’s put a pin in it to talk about a WIP.

I am so excited about doing Tour de Fleece this year. It’s been a few years since I’ve done it and I have a backlog of roving and I’m so excited to do some of that kind of creating. So excited. I knew that I was going to be cleaning out my storage unit prior to the beginning of the tour and that I would have a chance to pull things out of storage to spin. I found a bag that had roving in it and brought it home without even looking through it.

Roving from Shetland Sheep. Look how beautiful it is

When I got it home, I went through the bag and found a project bag. I was excited to find it, because it is a cute bag. But, then I realized there was something in it. A project. There was a project in my project bag.

Oh, just some lace I had lying around

So, hot on the heels of finishing the boneyard bandana, I have a new (old) lace project. The yarn I used here is handspun shetland wool. I’m pretty sure I didn’t spin this. I think it was spun by Joy Killjoy, the ’52 Spitfire. I love the color. It’s such a lovely natural color. I don’t know what I’m going to do about the hole at the top, though. (You can’t see it very well in the picture, but it’s towards the top). Part of me thinks I’m going to keep going with the pattern (I’m pretty sure its Deborah Frank’s Dark Passenger and that I created a ravelry project for it when I started the shawl.) and then I’m going to darn the hole closed. But, part of me wants to frog it all and start something new.

What would you do?

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Transitioning to only one digital to-do list

I mentioned in this post that I had been using both trello and asana. This has, essentially, doubled my work in maintaining my to-do lists. I started using trello first, and it was a good place to think through long-term goals and how to break that up into smaller pieces so that I could make progress and not feel overwhelmed. But, I had to remember to update it, I had to migrate individual to-dos to my other lists. It has become a pain. At first, it was that I didn’t really get to know all of the features. I have since learned how to watch tasks and the web interface has updated so that there is a home screen that has your due-soon tasks listed. This is a crucial element for me, but the app on my phone isn’t structured that way. So, I have decided to transition all of my long term to-do lists into Asana, the other app I have been using. I always feel bad when I stop using an app because I know people that build apps (especially ones with free features and paid features) work very hard and I feel like I’m abandoning them. Perhaps I shouldn’t get so emotionally invested in my technology. But, right now, Asana has the set of features that I need and it is set up in a way that is intuitive for me, so I will be using that app only going forward.

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Snarkiness for a good cause

This is an organized effort of goodness, knitting and snarkiness and it makes me so happy. Countess Ablaze had a colorway called If I want exposure, I’ll get my tits out. It was a lovely, intense variegated pink and purple color. And, someone copycatted it. So, she decided that the only way to deal with copycats was to ask other dyers if they wanted to do their own version (with a part of the proceeds going to charity).

I love this idea and I am here for this kind of collaborative work.

Folks also created patterns, project bags, and stitch markers. It is an exciting page, I recommend giving it a click-through.

I had some birthday money (my birthday was last month) and so, I bought a few skeins of yarn and three patterns to go with them. (The other way around, really. I bought the patterns and then picked yarn to go with them). I am very excited about my future knitting. There are some seriously fun colors and patterns on that link, go check it out!

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That isn’t what I meant

On Saturday, I was working on my boneyard shawl. As I was knitting, I was admiring to pooling of the colorway. I got so excited about it and I said out loud, “I can’t wait to be done!” I was near the end of the first skein and I got the second skein out so I could transition to it.

I started with the new skein… and then I stopped. My second skein is a different weight.

Well, I feel silly now

So, I’m kicking myself that I picked up two skeins of different weights for the same project. How did I not notice? But, I’m also irritated with the yarn shop. I picked up two skeins that were right next to each other on the display and then the shopkeeper wound the skeins into cakes for me. So, she also didn’t notice that I had picked up two different skeins. Or, maybe, while we stood there talking about potential patterns for the shawl I said I was going to make with the yarn, she thought I had done it intentionally. I don’t know.

So, I had to decide what to do. Do I try to get my hands on another skein in the same weight (when I bought the original yarn from a (not to me) local yarn shop and it is dyed by an independent dyer) or do I frog back a repeat and make a shawlette?

I decided to frog it back. So, I’m going to finish this project this week. But, this was not what I meant when I said I wanted to be finished with it.

I now have a second skein that I have to decide what to do with. I might make a hat or a pair of socks. They’ll probably be short socks, though. Any suggestions are welcome.

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