Monday, December 15, 2008

Around home and Christmas Knitting

Ice on Compost Tumbler
This was a crazy find on the top of my compost tumbler the other morning. Ice in the form of a hollow looking spear.

Sick Gabriel and Rumi
Gabriel was pretty sick last week. Many who read this blog know that he is a third year medical student. Right now he doing a rotation in Internal Medicine. When you are on rotations, you don't take time off for pretty much anything. No dentist appointments, no DMV, and you have to be pretty darn sick to get sent home. Gabriel was the sickest he has been in a few years but I guess he still wasn't sick enough to go home. So this is what he looked like at the end of the day most days last week. This may or may not be better than another friend in med school who has no heat in her apartment and she needs to be there to let a worker in to fix it which is impossible with her rotation so she is just coming home to a freezing apartment each day. I can't tell you how many other stories there are like this. Med school is every bit as brutal as you could possibly imagine. At least Gabriel is safe and sound at this point. Another classmate recently fell asleep behind the wheel while driving home from the hospital after working 30 hours. He broke his pelvis and is lucky to be alive.

Sorry for the heavy tone.

Drops HeadbandDrops Headband

Pattern: Drops 86-10 Heanband in Alaska
Source: Garnstudio website
Yarn: Sublime Cashmere merino silk aran
Colorway: #8 Sage
Needles: size 7 straight needles

One of the many Christmas presents being knitted. I am not sure what is safe to post or not around here in the way of Christmas knitting. Not sure how much my in-laws and certain friends look at my blog so I am proceeding with a little caution and I am sure that a whole lot more will be posted after the holidays. Believe me though, lot's of knitting is being done. What is even more fun is that Gabriel has also knit three hats as presents. I am stealing one of them though, it is just so cute and come on, my husband made it.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Slippers for Carolyn

Interweave Holiday 2008 SlippersInterweave Holiday 2008 SlippersInterweave Holiday 2008 Slippers

Pattern: Aran Isle Slippers
Source: Interweave Knits Holiday 2008
Yarn: Plymouth Earth Oceanside Organic
Colorway: #4
Needles: size 6 straight and circular
Modifications: Did a different aran pattern for tops. Adapted aran pattern from the Lattice Cable on page 182 of the Cables & Arans Harmony Guide.

These were really fun, they are a great basic pattern that could be adapted to have lots of different patterns incorporated in the tops of them. These were a gift for my stepmother who helped me out with a wedding present for friends and generously gave me one of her amazing quilts to give to them. I have been looking for the right thing to knit for her as a thank you but it is hard A) because she is also a very crafty knitter, and B) because she is allergic to all animal fibers. The nice thing though about knitting with cotton is that these are very machine washable which is great seeing as they are worn on the feet. Thanks again Carolyn!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Hourglass Sweater

hourglass sweater
hourglass sweater

Finally finally getting around to sharing my hourglass sweater that was finished back in September. I do love it lots! It is my first basic pullover for myself. The yarn is sooo very warm, soft and beautiful. Pattern is super easy but I was pretty sad to find that even such a simple pattern could not be without a pretty major error in the raglan shaping. That is the last time that I neglect to check and see if there are any pattern corrections on Ravelry before getting started on a knitting project. My only modification was doing a few extra decrease rows to make the neck line a bit less boatnecked. This did make the front of the neck line flair up a bit on my neck and then another modification had to be brought in in order to calm that down a bit. Other than that, I loved the rest of the shaping and I am particularly pleased with the shape and little flair to the sleeves. These photos were taken over Thanksgiving on the back patio that is being built at my parent's new place in Celo, NC.

Pattern: Hourglass Sweater
Source: Last Minute Knitted Gifts
Yarn: Queensland Collection, Kathmandu Aran
Colorways: Color 121 (oatmeal), Color 115 (green)
Needles: size 6 and 7 circulars and dpns

hourglass sweater
hourglass sweater
hourglass sweater

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Knitting Together

tanzania 2008 033
tanzania 2008 035
tanzania 2008 038

My trip to Tanzania was one of the bigger steps that I have made toward starting my business to import crafts from Tanzania to the United States. Other big steps have included quitting preschool teaching, getting a business license, getting all registered with the government, picking a name, building a website (ongoing), and accepting poverty with no end in sight. Ah, the sacrifices for the things we love.

So for two weeks I was traveling with my mom meeting with various artisan groups, most of which were all women. The main group that I am launching the business with is a group of basket weavers from the really remote center of Tanzania. I also am doing some product research and development with a few other groups who do batik, embroidery, jewelery and other kinds of basket weaving.

On the very first day of the trip we met with a women's group that is weaving banana leaves into baskets and purses. While I was meeting with the group one of the women stood off to the side knitting while she listened. At the end of the meeting I went to the car and pulled out my knitting which was currently Eunny Jang's Endpaper Mitts (perfect traveling project). Little did I know how interesting my knitting would be! The other woman had never seen knitting in the round, or double pointed needles, OR fair isle/stranded knitting (working two colors at once to make a pattern). She was really eager to try my project so I let her give it a go as the whole rest of the group looked on giggling. The poor woman was knitting a hat flat like a square! I could see the gears turning in her head as she worked my mitten in the round. It was one of those fun things that happens when you travel and you end up connecting with people in ways that you never would even imagine.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Tanzania celebrates Obama

As some of you know I was recently in Tanzania working with small artisan groups to develop a line of products to import to the United States. It is hard to know where to start in blogging about this trip but I guess one place to start is in sharing what it was like to be in Tanzania during the US elections.

It had been a hard decision to be gone over election day for many reasons including having volunteered for Obama since before the primary. We had to go when we did though because the rainy season was coming and if we waited any longer some of the roads that we needed to travel may become impassable. So I sent in my absentee ballot before I left, took my Obama pin to wear every day, and crossed my fingers, and toes, and held my breath...

I am sure you have seen many pictures in the news about the international response to Obama and this was certainly true where we were. We saw many buildings painted with images of him, Obama t-shirts, many cars with Obama bumper stickers, spare tire covers, and even mini buses painted with his image and the Yes We Can slogan. People loved our pins and many people asked if we would give them ours. We had planned on bringing buttons to give away but after going to 4 different Obama headquarters in different cities and having them all be out, we finally gave up.

Because of the time change the election was not offically called until the wee hours of the morning on Wednesday so then while the US was sleeping Tanzania was partying.

Here is the email that I sent out on Wednesday after the election.

Dear friends and family,

While you are all sleeping back in the US I am celebrating in the streets with all of Tanzania! My mom and I were actually out in the bush this morning and had previously wondered and worried whether or not we would quickly hear the election news while out in a national park. But at 6:30 this morning the screams of joy could be heard across the safari camp as the staff got the first official news of Obama's victory over their radios and the one tv. Now back in Arusha we are wearing our Obama pins and are stopped up and down every street greeted with hugs and great excitement.

The local mini buses are painted with Obama signs, and we have seen cars with his name written into the dust on windshields of cars. Lots of t-shirts, newspapers, people are celebrating. For them this is also a big victory, Obama stands for a great deal to the people here. It is a clear reminder that nothing is impossible and that with hard work and determination one can overcome any obstacle. We have talked to many people that feel that he is their president too. I have also heard that Kenya is declaring tomorrow a national holiday, it sounds like mostly because everyone is partying so hard no one will be able to go to work tomorrow.

It has made for a really powerful end to an extremely important trip for me as I start my business working with small women's groups of artists. It has sealed an already strong bond and sense that we are really one big family and that there is no alternative but to work together to make a difference in our communities and the world. One of the biggest things that I am doing in my work is taking down the boarders and fences between people and the sense that Obama is trying to do the same is overwhelming here.

I will send more in a few days when I am back in the US and I can put some photos online as well.

So much love and peace to you all. Now the real work begins, don't turn your backs, Obama is made up of all of us and we must stick with him and offer our greatest efforts to make this a better world.


Here are some of the Obama related photos that I took on the trip. There were so many more that I wished I could have taken but it is a big no no in Tanzania to take photos without permission and also not a great idea to hang out of a car window with a camera, it might get swipped. The group photo is my mom and I with the Oliver's Camp staff in the Tarengire National Park, all of us wearing our pins and grinning just hours after the news had come in. Also the last photo is of an artisit named Samuel in Arusha that we had make some paintings for us.

Dala dala's for ObamaDon't forget to vote ellies!Oliver's Camp staff show supportOliver's Camp celebratingSamuel and Sarah

Thursday, October 02, 2008

I Heart My New Camera

Did I mention that I love my new camera? I have to make a public big smooshy THANK YOU to my grandmother Millie who contributed along with my parents to making this camera possible for my birthday. It will be a huge help to me in my new business and it has been really fun and gotten me very excited about photography again in a way that I haven't been since high school.

All of the above photographs were taken with the old 50mm Nikon lens from my old manual camera strapped on it. It looks very funny to have this spiffy new digital SLR with an old lens on it. BUT it takes beautiful pictures. Small depth of field, great in low light. These were all taken late in the day yesterday, all inside with natural light except the one that is obviously outside. This lens only works on the camera manually so it has been a joy to control aperture and shutter speeds again and manually focus after handing all control over to digital for the last couple of years.
"B is for bone" is for Analisa. Heart you boo!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


My dog is the same color as the river rock at my favorite swimming spot and the same color as the yarn for my latest sweater...There are no coincidences.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Giving Thanks

What a wonderful month in the mountains! Amazing to watch summer slip away as each day was cooler, crisper, shorter. Giving thanks every day for the warmth of the sun, the freshness of the river, all that the Earth gives and receives. Just beautiful.
Bellow are photos from walks in the woods near the house, the sweater that was my big project for the month, my new hobby of baking fresh focaccia (nothing better than letting dough rise in a sunny window) and the first use of the wood stove for the year.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

New Hat, New Camera

Pattern: Inga
Source: Ewenique Fiber- The Blog
Yarn: Knitpicks Merino Style
Colorway: Storm and Nutmeg
Needles: size 3 and 5 circular needles

Two new things to be mentioned here on this post. First off is that these are the first shots taken with my brand new SLR! I am very pleased. This hat is also my first fair isle project so that is also very exciting. It was really fun. I am a tight knitter so this was a good lesson in loosening up a bit. The hat is really big which has been a problem for other knitters that have tried this one. I even already started the pattern a few rows in but I would have to do it even more for the hat to fit me or most people. Luckily I have a large headed brother in-law-in-law and his birthday is in a few weeks.

Monday, September 15, 2008

September in Celo

We are spending the month of September up on the family farm. It has been really really wonderful. Now that my mom has finished building a second home (right next to my in-laws farm), it has been nice to have our own space when we come up for this long. Especially because Gabe is using this time to study and I am working on my business it is also nice not to have the usual distractions of 20 goats, 2 sheep, 2 lamas, 3 rabbits, 5 dogs, many chickens, the list goes on.

It is also a really nostalgic time of year to be up here. The final days of summer where the line between summer and fall blurs into a perfection of temperature, color, burstingly ripe tomatoes, and the last several jumps in the river for the year. We say prayers of thanks for every warm day that we can still sit out on a big rock in the sun or for bare feet because we know it won't last much longer. Although the surrounding foliage is still a bright blanket of green, the shade seems to have shifted slightly and lonely bright red leaves that seem to appear out of nowhere float past as we dip in the river. Fall, my favorite.

We have been in a really bad drought here in western North Carolina and the river has been soooo very low. But a couple of weeks ago a huge storm brought something like 8 inches of rain in less than 48 hours and the river rose several feet. A few days later Gabe and his dad decided to tube the river in it's unusually swift currents. The pictures below are right after their climb back up the hill from the river after their float. I thought they looked so cute. Usually we never tube with wetsuits or helmets but this was precautionary after the flooding.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Some more busy knitting

I have arrived! I have joined the Elizabeth Zimmerman knitting world. After admiring a zillion Baby Surprise Jackets on blogs from around the world I finally dove in when Knitpicks recently had a huge sale on books. My cousin Emily recently had twin girls which is no small feat any way and certainly after 10 weeks on bed rest in the hospital these girls are quite the miracles. I had to rush on a knitted present, her due date was the first week of September but all the way back in May when Emily was hospitalized with contractions I knew I had to step things up a bit. I actually got to hand deliver these sweaters last week when my mom and I were in New York on business and made a little side trip up to see Emily, Jim and Susanna and Rebecca in Connecticut.

The pattern: Baby Surprise Jacket
Source: The Opinionated Knitter, by Elizabeth Zimmerman
Yarn: Getting back to you on this one
Needles: size 7

This picture is for Carolyn who had not heard of this pattern. For those who have not heard of the Baby Surprise Jacket, this magical sweater is knit all as one piece. This is what it looks like before it is simply folded up and turns into the above sweater with the only seaming being from the shoulder to the cuff of the top of the sleeves. Pretty amazing.

Pattern: Yarn Over Cable Socks
Source: Sensational Knitted Socks
Yarn: Yarn Ahoy! Hand painted sock yarn
Colorway: The Desert Song
Needles: size 1 dpns