Green Green Everywhere

A Sweater for Anne  Me

Oh my!  I returned a few days ago from a week-long trip to New Jersey to see family and friends.  I had a few days to myself before David joined me and I planned to blog during the trip.  It was a great trip with so much to write about but in the end the words wouldn’t come.  So, rather than push it, I decided to let it go.  I am home now, back in my space where creating just seems to happen.  So remember this?

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This was the yarn that Anne selected for the sweater that I was knitting for her.  Well, it’s a good thing I like green. In fact, it’s my favorite color.  Because this sweater turned out to be my size (barely), not hers.  I had warned Anne, as I was halfway through the project, that it was looking a little skimpier than I had anticipated.  This was disappointing because one of the reasons we chose this pattern was because I had already knitted it up in a short sleeve version that fit Anne perfectly.  Sorry honey.

The thing about knitting is that if you change the weight of the yarn even a little bit the gauge can be off.  Gauge refers to the number of stitches per inch, both horizontally and vertically that you need to have in order to achieve the finished measurements.  A way to “make the gauge” is to change up needle sizes.  This also helps knitters adjust for how loosely or tightly they knit.  So before a project really gets going there’s a bit of tinkering that goes on.

In this case, the yarn Anne chose was slightly lighter in weight than the one I had used previously and even after upping the needle sizes the gauge was a little bit small.  And I learned that a little bit small adds up to a whole size small when all is said and done.  So without further ado, here’s my new sweater:

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And up close, here’s the lace pattern:

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And the trim:

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If you’re thinking, “wow, those stitches are soooo even”, so am I!  As a relatively new knitter it’s been a real challenge to knit with even tension.  There are a couple of reasons why this project was so technically successful (the gauge issue notwithstanding).  First, the entire sweater is knit “in the round” using these:

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Knitting in the round means that the entire body of the sweater is knitted at once eliminating the need for pesky seaming which I’m not great at.  In addition, the smooth “stockinette stitch” which makes up the non-lace part of the body is achieved by knitting all the rows.  If a project requires turning the work after each row the stockinette stitch is created by knitting a row and purling a row.  For me those purl rows are a bear;  the motion is not as natural for me and this inevitably shows up as uneven tension from row to row.  And that brings me to:

Blocking

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Years ago when I first tried (and failed) at knitting I complained about uneven stitches, and my mother always said “oh, you can block that out”.  I didn’t even get that far back then, but now I get it.  Blocking is essentially wetting the sweater, either by submerging or spraying it, pushing and pulling it into the proper shape and dimensions, pinning it down and letting it dry completely.  Wetting the yarn literally causes it to relax and the stitches almost reorganize themselves into a more even configuration.  Plus any lace patterns or cables will become more prominent. My “pinned into submission” sweater is shown above.  I blocked it yesterday and it was fully dry this morning.  Blocking hides a multitude of sins and in this case, helped me make a too-small sweater fit.

As it turns out, Anne is in the middle of mild Chicago summer weather, and David and I are headed to Montana in ten days to explore Glacier National Park.  So maybe this turned out the way it was meant to.  I will be rocking this look, “apres-hike” in Montana:

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And while we’re on the subject of green, look what else we came home to:

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This honking zucchini is our first full-size veggie from the garden.  Shocking to see it really!  Well this guy is slated for some zucchini, quinoa and parmesan fritters.  Details to follow 🙂

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I Got A Nikon Camera

I never dreamed that I would love taking pictures so much.  In fact, I have been camera-phobic my whole life.  I didn’t want to take pictures, and I didn’t particularly want them taken of me.  I’m not entirely sure why this was so, but I suspect that it had to do in part with the fact that stopping the action to take pictures took me away from the present moment.  I can understand the desire that people have to preserve memories and create records but trading off the now for a future experience wasn’t usually a trade-off I wanted to make.  Plus I never quite believed that all of those smiling faces were necessarily attached to happy people.  The disconnect bothered me.

The family I grew up in was not into pictures.  In fact I have no idea what I looked like as a baby because there are literally no shots of me  until I was about a year old.  I was a second child so we know how that can go.  That being said my father took enough pictures to record our family’s life and he could get particularly enthusiastic when on vacation.  In later years and once the grandchildren came along everyone was more excited about taking pictures.  Between my father, father-in-law and ex-husband we filled plenty of albums of  us and the kids and I’m glad to have them.  But I was never behind the camera.

When I decided to start this blog I knew I needed to supplement what I wanted to say with some pictures so off I went to Costco, and here’s what I bought:

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Coolpix.  Very cool indeed.  Since I haven’t owned a camera since, oh, 1975, I didn’t want too many bells and whistles.   I’m definitely a point and shoot kind of gal.  But oh my, things have really improved since the kodak instamatic with the little square flash bulbs!  Happily for me, this camera came with a very slim instruction booklet and it took just minutes before I morphed into Lisa, amateur photographer.

Time for my Close-Up

Each time I pick up the camera I’m learning how to use its features to capture the shots I want.  I’ve been really pleased with the results so far.  But today, as I was planning a different post about my garden (zucchini! tomatoes!) and a heroic little succulent I have indoors when I ran into this:

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And this:

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and this:

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Oops.  My very smart camera had been taking super clear pictures on auto-focus but when I was zooming in (which today’s post needed) it wasn’t working out.  Back to the slim manual.  Today I learned about the “macro” setting which adjusts the autofocus for close-ups. Simple enough.  So here we go…

We have tomatoes!  They are small and still green but it was a thrill to see them, especially in focus:

 

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Wow!  You will not be seeing any close-ups of me using the macro setting, that’s for sure 🙂

Next up, our budding zucchini plant:

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Ah yes, there it is!  Ratatouille anyone??

And finally there’s this:

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This leaf is attached to this very unique succulent:

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My friend Steven gave us this plant when he visited last year.  It had much more growth at the time and it was supposed to flower but over the course of a few months all the leaves fell off and there was only the stem.  I felt terrible about this and tucked it away in the corner of my dining room and tried not to feel guilty.  I haven’t touched it for at least six months.  Imagine my surprise when it started to sprout both from the top and down at the bottom.  Amazing example of the power of benign neglect! I’m excited to see what happens next, and I will provide close-ups on the blog.

I’m a Photographer?

Well, yes, I believe I am.  And as I write that I am in touch with the degree to which this blog is not only about literary expression, but about the sharing of my design aesthetic.  It’s thrilling to engage with a whole new artistic medium, and I’m looking forward to exploring all the possibilities.  My readers, of course, will see all of this unfold on my blog.

For now though I leave you with my last close-up of the day:

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Blueberry sour cream crumb cake.  Looks good enough to eat.  I think I will…