Sunday, August 24, 2008

Finch's Fabulous Fig Festival

Originally uploaded by 3Birds
Finch was very pleased and proud to present these figs first to the camera for a quick photo shoot and then to his siblings for an even quicker feast. Did they taste sweeter to him because he'd been warned away from them a thousand times all summer long? I think so. As soon as I said "Oh, we have some ripe figs" he came running, shrieking "Me pick it ripe figs, me pick it, mine figs, mine figs!"

I was sure he'd insist on devouring them before I could take a picture, but he was unusually cooperative when I explained about wanting to take a picture first. I think it seemed altogether reasonable to him that I wanted to photograph the figs; after all, he'd been wanting to pick these beauties for months and his moment had arrived. He fairly quivered with joy and anticipation; clearly Fig Day was an important milestone for him.

After I put the camera down, I expected to have a major fig-hoarding battle, but again Finch surprised me with his civility. He handed them around to each of us with a grand air before popping his own into his mouth. "Eat it Mommy! Eat it Wren! Eat it Robin! Eat ripe fig now!" he urged. Then he whooped and clapped his hands. Our fig festival lasted all of 10 minutes, but it was a high point of this summer.

Our little fig tree (a Celeste) produces several small waves of ripe figs throughout August and September. The figs are small, but delightfully sweet and, well, figgy. They require no peeling, the wee seeds are edible, and they're the perfect size to pop into your mouth whole. I suppose they'd be good for drying since they're so small, but we've never been able to resist eating them as soon as they ripen. Fascinating fig fact: Figs do not produce flowers! And yet they make fruit! Wow!

dinner tonight: black bean and corn salad with honey-lime dressing, sauteed shrimp with lime juice and cilantro

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I Love Lace!

Originally uploaded by 3Birds
I've suspended work on this stole, my very first 'for me' knitting, but I'm diligently knitting my Ravelympics Socks, also for me and also lacy.

I've knit lace edgings before, but these are my first allover lace patterns, and I'm enjoying them immensely. I was worried that lace would require more patience and concentration than I'm capable of, but both patterns are simple enough that I can divide my attention between them and the children and/or my podcasts and not make too many mistakes. Also, lace is very easy to read, or at least my current projects are, so when I do err and then forget what row I'm on, I can figure it out pretty quickly. I suppose a very complicated lace problem would require far more time and attention than I have, and would be difficult to read as well, so I'll save those for when I'm older and wiser and bereft of small children.

Sock the first is completed, save for the grafting. I'm going to put the toe stitches on a holder and finish sock the second and then do all the grafting at once. Grafting does take every ounce of concentration and patience I have, and a quiet room and soothing music as well, so it's best to do it all at once. The pattern is called 'ribbed lace' and is from Charlene Schurch's 'Sensational Knitted Socks.' It's a traditional cuff-down, turned-heel sock, so it won't be refootable, but I intend it for cozy evenings at home, so that's alright. I suppose I could always darn it, since I'll have a bit of the yarn left over. Darning socks is such an old-fashioned chore, but I like it in moderation.

I've also been using my sewing machine lately, since Justin 'fixed' my iron. I'm trying to convince him to write a guest entry on how to do what he did, because the auto shut-off function on these irons is evidently a common source of woe to Rowenta owners. I ran off a couple of bibs from Amy Karol's Bend the Rules Sewing for my niece Piper, and took them to a local baby boutique to get a color-coordinated plate and cup set. Yes, I'm that goofy. Anyway, the boutique owner might like to buy them outright or on consignment, depending on the price. Something to consider!

My next sewing project, and one I need to get started on very soon (like, last week!) is for the Sassy Apron Swap. See the pretty fabric on the below entry? Imagine that in a 40'sesque bib apron with bias trim! I'm a little nervous about using bias tape for the first time, but I think it's well within my scope. Once I've sent it off, I'm going to make myself a simpler apron out of muslin, but with lots of pretty embroidery from Hillary Lang's delightful designs. Because I really miss embroidery!

Further down the pipeline are the children's fall sweaters. This year, I'm using O Wool 'Balance' for all of them: Wren's in 'lapis', Robin's in 'malachite' and Finch's in 'graphite'. Translation: slate, moss, and charcoal! Further translation: blue, green, gray!! I hope it's not too precious to use coordinating yarns. I'll be using different patterns, and Robin's is to have a broad agagte (brown) stripe because Spinster's didn't have quite enough of the malachite. Wren's is to have some lace, Robin's some gansey-style knit/purl designs, and Finch's some cables. I can't wait to get started, but I have to, at least until my socks and apron are finished.

dinner tonight: takeout, but last night was Shaker corn pudding, tomato basil salad, and fried cilantro chicken sausages. Yummy!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

It's Apron Time Again!

Originally uploaded by 3Birds
I haven't been sewing this summer because 1) the kids wrecked the workroom, 2) my iron has been malfunctioning and 3) it's too damn hot anyway. However! I've got a niece turning 1 very soon and a Fall Apron Swap partner expecting an apron by September 1st, so I've set the kids to work cleaning, the husband to work fixing(here, 'fixing' means "bypassing the auto-off feature") and the weather gremlins to turning the sun down a bit and the humidifier down quite a lot.

The children and husband at least are doing their duty and I myself have been hard at work choosing fabrics and trims. I won't describe the project I have planned for my niece in case she is looking over her mama's shoulder while said mama avidly devours my blog, but I thought I'd go ahead and post a picture of the fabric I chose for the swap.

It's from Amy Butler's 'Belle' collection, and I selected it only after agonizing over 4 possibilities over the course of 3 days. I think I've made the right decision -- this fabric is growing on me and I wish I'd ordered an extra length for a skirt for Wren. The pattern is a simple one, but it's to be my first time using bias tape, so I hope that a) I don't make a mess of it and b) I can find a good color so I don't have to make my own. Just in case I bought a yard of a solid green that matches the leaves. Ought I to have ordered a blue to match the flowers? Or a bold contrasting color? I don't know. I'm just hoping my local JoAnn's will have Wright's Double-Fold 1/4" Bias Tape in a suitable color so I won't have to agonize.

I'll also be making a matching hot-pad, and I can't decide whether to make it with cotton batting or some sort of heat-resistant padding. I think cotton batting is sufficient for a hot pad, but if my swap partner is anything like me, she'll use the hot pad as a potholder at some point, and I don't want her to burn her fingers as I have done.

Finally, I'll be sending a favorite pie recipe. How to choose between no-bake pumpkin pie, chocolate peanut butter pie, or bananascotch pie with sour cream? Not to mention pearamel tart and good old apple pie! I really love pie, particularly in autumn, and they're all my favorites. It's a problem to decide!