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Everyone seems to have Damson (Rav link) on their minds lately but the ones I’ve been thinking of are of the fruit persuasion.
One of my new coworkers (incidentally an old boss of mine…yes sometimes this city is very small) invited me over to come pick some of her damson plums. The tree is apparently prolific and there was only so much jam she could make. I couldn’t resist the opportunity for some free fruit, especially ones I’ve never tried before.
I headed over this morning with Jenny and we proceeded to pick to our hearts content. If we were more adventurous/taller we could have harvested more but I think we picked well over 30lbs between the two of us. She has plans to make some damson wine (which I’m very excited about) and I had two recipes in mind for my harvest.
Recipe 1. Damson Liqueur.
I found plenty of recipes online and in the process found a new blog I had to immediately add to my reader but eventually decided to go with a 1lb damson/8oz sugar/250ml alcohol version. Not only is that easy to remember but it filled my quart canning jars perfectly.
Now all I have to do is remember to shake the jars once a week for 8 weeks (some recipes recommend longer) before decanting and bottling. I used up the last of my vodka and made one jar of gin just to see the difference. I have no clue how it’s going to turn out but all it cost me was 2lbs of sugar and a bottle of vodka that I wasn’t drinking anyway.
The rest of the plums are waiting to become jam but that will have to wait till tomorrow. Right now I have a giant pile of undyed roving that is demanding my attention.
The aftermath of Sock Summit and the realization that Stashdown 2009 is a beyond laughable concept right now is still pretty fresh in my mind. Perhaps that is why I motored through my SS09 socks with relative speed (compared to say the Viper Pilot socks).
I will admit there was some non-commuting time knitting but mostly because I don’t have another project on the needles right now that is easy and mindless knitting. The Gull Wing socks are both those things yet fun to knit.
I cast on with my Zen Yarn Garden Art Walk in “Almonds Branches in Bloom” the night I got my Toe-Up book from Chrissy. I actually knit very little while in Portland but really made some progress in the last week.
In the last week between having an hour of bus knitting every day plus the little bit of time I’ve pulled myself away from the dye table I have finished the cuff of the first sock and then sped my way through the entire second sock. It’s Wednesday and I finished casting off the last stitch just as the bus pulled into the Park & Ride.
Check them out! Sorry for the corkboard and plastic sheeting in the background. I wove in the ends after dinner and by then all natural light was gone. You get to see the tiny part of the dye table that is clean.
I loved every part of these socks.
I decided to try the shaped round toe for a change and I’m cursing not trying it out sooner. I put these socks on and I no longer have toe ‘ears’ from the usual toe I do. Why did it never occur to me until reading Chrissy’s book about how I should make a rounder toe because my feet are wide with short toes (known in my family as “Emma’s Stumpy Feet”)
It shouldn’t surprise me that the yarn does pool on the foot but because of the slipped stitches on the instep that effect is all but obliterated. It has a similar effect as my Jester Leyburns I knit a few months ago but after knitting both the Gull Wing is by far my favorite.
Plus my second attempt at a hybrid heel (first were stockingnette socks that are quite roomy) worked out perfectly. I think the pattern called for a different heel and bindoff but I went with the hybrid and YO cast off. Super stretchy for the cuff and the stranding of the pattern prevents the gusset from getting too baggy for my low arches.
All in all…a great pair of socks from a great pattern and in a wonderful yarn. I’m thrilled with the socks on so many levels.
Last week started off strong despite the frantic last minute cleaning before Sobeknofret showed up so we could make the trek down to Sock Summit. Once I got her to promise not to open any closets or drawers the ‘cleaning’ went surprisingly fast
I took her to my favorite ID dim sum place (Jade Garden) and then showed her the wonderful cheese case at Big John’s PFI. I seriously have dreams about that cheese case.
We settled in for the evening with some cider and steak and tried to go to sleep despite our excitement over Sock Summit. After picking up the spiffy rental car with the GPS who hated me we were off. I just have to say I LOVE the whole push button car start thing. I’ve never driven one before and while it seems silly to love it that much I found it far too entertaining.
Classes were of course excellent, Chrissy Gardiner is as always a great teacher and after my sock spinning class with Judith Mackensie-McCuin on Sunday I have vowed to take her Wheel Mechanics class sometime soon.
The marketplace was an overload of colors and fibers. Everywhere you looked there was something pretty to touch. I was a little neurotic and marked on my map the booths I HAD to visit that first night and managed to do all but a little of my shopping in those 2 hours.
My first purchase was Size 2 and 3 Knitpro interchangeble tips that fit the Knitpicks cords. I have no clue why we can’t get these sizes in the US so I picked them up at YarnWorkshop. They are based in Hong Kong and were wonderful to talk to, I even noticed from their street address that I used to just live down the street from them but figured that might come across as a little stalkerish to mention that fact.
Before I knew it I had hit the Miss Babs booth (damn it was hard to chose just one yarn), the Holiday Yarns booth (where I got sucked in by a beautiful color and silly name), Three Irish Girls where I pawed my way through a box before changing my mind while waiting in line to pay because of what the woman in front of me was buying (I have her rav and etsy info somewhere in my bag). I made my way to the BMFA booth to check out their millends…you know…just in case… Finally I hit up the Ms Gusset booth where I picked up some wonderful Polworth/Silk roving and on the second day it was on to the Unique Sheep where I found their Verve Gradient yarn in their special Sock Summit Descent colorway.
I spent all but about 50 cents of my yarn budget and I love everything I got. There were so many other vendors I wanted to shop at but all I could do was look and make notes for later.
The trip was wonderful, the friends were great (especially J & L for opening up their home for 5 days) and as always the food was amazing.
But going to Sock Summit was just the icing on the wonderful cake that was last week. After 8 long months of being one of the unemployed/partly employed I was offered a contract job the day before I left for Portland. It’s with a company I have long wanted to work for and it’s back doing what I used to do. The timing and the opportunity made going away to Sock Summit even more enjoyable. Sadly it does mean my time at the LYS has come to an end but that is probably better for my stash anyway Tomorrow I once again join the ranks of the employed if only for a short while.
I think things are looking up.
I finally made and finished my first cowl. I’ve always liked the look of them but never really saw myself as much of a ‘cowl’ person. However I got in a small batch of a new yarn I’m thinking of adding to Dragonfibers so I needed a good project for it.
I looked up and down on Ravelry trying to find just the right one without success so I pulled out my Barbara Walker Treasury #1 and went looking for a stitch pattern. I wanted something simple yet lacy, a stitch that would show off the kettledyed reds and browns I picked out for my test skein. I decided on the Openwork Leaf Pattern. Since I prefer charts I downloaded the knitting font and made a quick and dirty Excel chart to read off of.
I would model it but the abnormally warm weather here makes that more than a little unpleasant. The yarn in case you’re interested is 50% superwash merino and 50% tussah silk, a nice medium fingering weight and is tentatively called Empress. The test knit went really well and I’m waiting on feedback from another test knitter on her thoughts.
In other knitting news…
Another test yarn. This is a heavy laceweight/light fingering superwash BFL yarn that I just got in. I’ve been wanting to make a nice lacy shawl and this is a perfect reason to cast on. After much indecision and waffling I finally settled on Waves of Grain from Fall Knitty 2008. The patterns on Ravelry that kept calling my name were all heavily beaded shawls and since I’ve never done beaded knitting I decided to go with baby steps. It would have really sucked to get 50 beads into the 6000 bead shawl before I realized that I hated beaded knitting
The sad progress so far. I cast on at Saturday knitting and was happily knitting along until I got 10 rows in and realized I had made 2 mistakes on the first row that I then continued up through all 10 rows. Sigh. It was frogged and started over again.
This project is going with me to Sock Summit though. I’m going to try and get tickets to the world record attempt event and since you can only knit on straights for it to count I have these on some bamboo straights. It’s been so long since I’ve worked with anything but circulars or DPN’s that I almost took out my eye the other day when turning my work.
Speaking of Sock Summit, I decided somewhat belatedly to make up some stitch markers for the swap that seems to be going on at the event. I’m a little fuzzy on the details but it looks like some folks will be walking around with markers on their bags/jackets etc and you can offer to trade with them so you get new ones. Kind of a cool way to meet people and bring home little mementos of the trip.
I of course found some very cute coffee bean beads at Fusion Beads. I highly recommend them, not only do they have a great selection but they are some of the friendliest people there. When I explained what I was making I got lots of help finding the right kind of jump rings and they loved the idea of a sock knitting summit.
I’m now off to finish cleaning the house before Sobe arrives tomorrow and then it is off to Sock Summit. I’ve planned ahead and already gone to the bank to get cash for the marketplace…the last thing I need is to use my credit card there.
PS. For anyone keeping track of my continued lack of fulltime employment…think lots of happy thoughts for me this week. I have two very good potential prospects and I’m trying not to get too excited yet am secretly thrilled at the sudden interest.