dog (and knitting) days

DSCN8772They are back with a steamy fury – the dog days of late July.  Here in the Hudson River Valley we are often ‘treated’ to one brutal week in July and another in August.  We’ve already had our July blast, but it appears that we are in for another.  Harley and I go outdoors early these mornings and enjoy the air until it begins to turn sauna-like.DSCN8773A quick stroll through the gardens reveals that someone has been sampling the tomatoes.DSCN8774The basil wants harvesting … I need to make tubs of pesto to get us through the winter months.  I always run out.DSCN8785The Buddha sits quietly in a maze of blooming thyme.  I wish that the birds would stop pooping on his head.  One suspects that he would not mind – that he would find some feature of goodness in the act.  Nonetheless, I’m going to hose him down this evening!DSCN8765Knitting through the heat of the summer seems a peculiar phenomenon to some – mostly, I suspect, are non-knitters.  For me, there is an inexpressible joy that summer knitting brings.  I am a cold weather person which means that I’ll want to have my winter knits ready to wear when the snow flies.  DSCN8764I finally completed the Anne Hanson ‘Cradle Me’ blanket.  This was a beautiful and daunting knit.  It took several years (on and off) to complete.  My photograph cannot begin to do the pattern and wool justice, so I will retry the image after the piece is washed and blocked.  Whenever I finish a large project I always give myself permission to immediately cast on another.  I’ll bet I’m not alone!DSCN8767Heaven.  Paula Kuchera’s (White Barn Farm) cormo, alpaca and silk blend – grown on her farm in Gardener, NY.  This is the most beautiful yarn that I have worked on in a long time – probably since the Lobster Pot cashmere days.  I marvel at its hand – turning it over and over and knitting the most basic blanket that I can showcases the exquisite nature of the yarn.  I wish that you could touch it.  You CAN order it online. White Barn Farm.comDSCN8757DSCN8758My dear sister sent a hand painted skein from Taos.  It reminds me of the wide open skies of the high desert and will be shaped into socks … one can never have too many socks.

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plume poppy

DSCN8752DSCN8754DSCN8753DSCN8751I consider the bees whenever I choose a plant for the border.  The plume poppy remains a huge favorite, judging by the hundreds of bees that come daily once bloom is on.  I’m pretty sure that my neighbor dislikes this perennial as it tends to be invasive.  He pulls the many young plants out of his side of the fence and hey, I’m ok with that.  I have more than enough for my bees on this side.

The plume poppy may be considered weed like, but I admire its statuesque appearance, its generous blooms and how good it is for my bees.  Don’t plant it unless you have a large area that needs covering!  It will not disappoint.

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a new way of seeing

It’s good to be home.  I was happy to climb the stairs to my sewing studio and even happier to find that I had a new prospective -one that I may have gained in New Mexico.  Suddenly I found myself no longer interested in some of my smaller, fussy-cut projects.  I wanted bigger – I wanted clean spaces – I wanted simple.DSCN8734DSCN8737DSCN8739I went walking through the local JoAnn fabric store.  I saw a cotton (the yellow print on the lower left of this piece) and it “spoke” to me.  I cannot tell you how rare an occurrence this is.  Since we lost our wonderful quilt shop in Woodstock, I have had to rely on several brilliant online shops for fabric.  I’m not complaining.  I just miss walking the aisles of a really great fabric shop and selecting my goods by touch, by sight, by heart! Anyway, the yellow print came home and out came Anna Graham’s fantastic book, “Handmade Style” and before long I had a small quilt that pleased me very very much.  DSCN8740Since I was on a winning streak, I decided to make some of Anna’s wide mouthed bags.  SO MUCH FUN!DSCN8741This photo ‘shoot’ took me out to the gardens which have largely beenDSCN8744 ignored due to extreme heat.  The pergola is covered with grapes and wisteria.DSCN8749DSCN8747DSCN8750The Day Lily border is magnificent.  Mid July is something to see in my New York garden!

I have been working on this year’s quilt for the Friends Helping Friends event.  I was asked to create something along the lines of a ‘golf theme’.  Oh boy.  What came to mind were greens … and nine holes …DSCN8756DSCN8755

Can I just say that GREEN is my least favorite color?  I really had to dig to find any assortment in my stash worthy of a nine patch.  Truthfully, I had to get online and order!  It’s good to stretch, to get out of one’s safe zone.  It seems as though that is the theme for the summer of 2015.

 

 

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wedding, part 3

DSCN8701My nephew is as wonderful as he is handsome.  We are so thrilled that he has found his love, Joanna.DSCN8720She’s a beautiful person, inside and out.  The icing on the cake is that she is a doctor!  Somehow I feel better knowing this.  (My nephew is on ski rescue patrol and training a dog for avalanche rescue; he is also the young man that I wrote about last year when he was working as a ‘Hot Shot’ fire fighter))  Need I say more?DSCN8706That’s Indie, one of Matt’s rescue dogs … everyone was welcomed to join in this ceremony!DSCN8711 The newlyweds left for a two week bike ride across Iowa while my sister, BIL and mom stayed on in Taos to care for the dogs and new puppy.  Our time in Taos was short, but oh so sweet!  I feel so grateful to have been able to join in this happiness.

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taos, part 2

DSCN8662DSCN8663DSCN8694DSCN8696DSCN8684DSCN8689DSCN8692DSCN8699While my niece, BIL and the Can-Do Guy went sight seeing, my sister and I tackled the massive amount of fresh flowers from Trader Joe’s.DSCN8680DSCN8678DSCN8683DSCN8679We surely had our work cut out for us!  It took about six hours to prepare vases for tables, for chairs, for porches, etc.  DSCN8728Any quilter/knitter worth her salt will find a moment to slip away – to sniff out the local fiber.  I discovered a sweet yarn shop (allegedly where Julia Roberts finds her yarn) and a quaint little quilt shop.DSCN8732I found some local hand painted sock yarn by Widdershin Woolworks- DSCN8729It’s a gorgeous blend of corriedale and nylon and the color will remind me of the high desert sunsets.

Tomorrow – the Wedding!

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casa cobre (part 1)

DSCN8640We travelled from NYC to Taos – a total of 18 hours brought us to the magnificent Casa Cobre and this little welcoming committee.  Hello Clementine!DSCN8643The landscape is pure Georgia O’Keefe.  I’m glad to say that now I GET it.  Her red hills, her beloved Cerro Pedernal with its chopped top, her belief that “it belongs to me. God told me if I painted it enough, I could have it.”  In 1986 her ashes were scattered there.DSCN8651We could sit and gaze at the Sangre De Cristo mountain range from the patios or the hot tub … I became very partial to the hot tub!  Taos changed my way of seeing.  I longed for my paints, my colored pencils.DSCN8650DSCN8645My sister rented this most magnificent house for our family to stay in.  Every wall was graced with authentic art.DSCN8649DSCN8647DSCN8648I cannot remember the last time that I found a house so unique, so inviting.  While the landscape was initially foreign to my ‘English Garden’ sensibilities,  I grew to love it.  There is a serenity that permeates Taos.  It sits as if in a bowl, surrounded on all sides by mountains.  The hills beckon, one’s imagination grows vivid.  I know that I heard drums in the night.  It’s a spiritual place – it causes the small hairs on the back of one’s neck to stand up.  Ascending the mountain with the Rio Grande as our guide, I recalled the many Sunday afternoons sitting with my father, watching westerns.  I’m here!  The wild west DOES exist!  It wasn’t a Hollywood painted backdrop after all!DSCN8653DSCN8657I fell in love with this blue bench.  The Can-Do Guy says that he can replicate it.  Swoon.

DSCN8660I miss my family who stayed behind.  More on that tomorrow …

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Taos, here we come

Last day of work for me –DSCN8607Tomorrow I fly off to New Mexico with The Can-Do Guy, my mom and my adorable niece.  We are going to Taos to witness my nephew’s wedding.DSCN8601The gardens will have to look after themselves.  I’ve arranged for the best care of my beloved Harley and the felines. When I return I will have a very long list of chores to do, and at least three quilts to complete. I have promised to have the Pie Making Day Giveaway ready and I will! I plan to post. A lot.  You’ll probably grow tired of me before August arrives.  This past work year was especially challenging and I won’t lie – I am SO ready for the break. I need the quiet mornings filled with garden wanderings, teacup in hand. There is an ebb and a flow at our place that I need to reacquaint myself with.  The hyperion lily borders want edging.  The herb garden needs weeding.  I see neglected tree limbs that have cracked and a small koi pond that lies unused … my work is cut out for me.

Knitting on the plane – some gorgeous Zen Yarn Garden sock yarn called Blue Grass is the opening act.   There is 20% cashmere in this delicious skein.  And Miss Babs’ 3-ply fingering in ‘Cosmic’ is the main attraction in a pattern called Reyna.  Both projects are on the needles and ready to rock n roll.  Hopefully ours will be calm skies and no delays.  I cannot wait to see Taos!

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preoccupied

DSCN8611DSCN8610DSCN8612To say that I am preoccupied with my Spider Web quilt would be an understatement.  I’ve gotten to that slippery slope in quilting where I am so anxious to assemble and quilt it that everything else slips to the back burner.  The problem is that this particular pattern wants attention, a lot of attention, and it’s not given to QUICK anything.  Each block consists of many fabric choices.  It’s obvious to me who is leading whom!  (mutter mutter bad words).

So this is my explanation as to why my Pie Making Day Giveaway did not get given last week.  But I promise to pull it together this week.  Sneak peek for those who think I’m full of it…IMG_0090The end of June has been hectic.  At work – computer allocations and a tearful goodbye to a colleague that I will miss dreadfully, each and every day.  At home – preparing to fly out to Taos, NM to witness my wonderful (and only) nephew’s wedding.  Beside wardrobe and  securing the best care for my animals, I am bewildered by WHAT KNITTING TO TAKE!!!!  I think that I’ve settled on one pair of socks and a shawl.  But should I take my Signature circular needles and risk having them confiscated?  Can anyone advise?

 

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socks and stuff

DSCN8617DSCN8616The Go-To Guy received chunky delicious boot socks for Fathers Day.  These were knit from Knit Picks ‘Pearl’ Hawthorne fingering weight.  They require two skeins, but the outcome is definitely worth the expense.  Inspired by the lovely Arianna, I plan to fill his sock drawer so that this coming winter he will have toasty feet every day.  We had a brutal winter last year and he spent a lot of it outdoors.  Hats are next!DSCN8620DSCN8619This is what happens when one is not paying attention to the kitchener stitch!DSCN8621My photo doesn’t begin to do this yarn justice – it’s ‘Nirvana’ by Carol Sunday in the softest shell pink.  I am knitting a pullover, the name of which escapes me.  Just wanted to let you know – Carol’s yarns are to die for and everything that I desire in a yarn – generous yardage, great color selection, humanely grown and beautifully packaged.  Go see her.  Go now.DSCN8628DSCN8635We’ve got some serious climbing hydrangea this season!  I love the lushness of late June in the garden.  The plants thrive despite the lazy gardener, weeds and flowers finding their own way, room for all.  I might pitch a fit before leaving for New Mexico in July.  I might not.DSCN8633DSCN8603I’m still adding to my collection of economy blocks.  There must be enough for a good sized quilt by now!  And speaking of quilting, please stop back this week as I will be hosting a Giveaway sponsored by RJR fabrics.  Here’s a hint ….. Pie. Making. Day.

Last night we enjoyed an enormous pot of steamed clams.  I always take the shells out to the garden where they mingle with the compost.  I put some in the beds because I like the appearance of something seaside in my NY garden.  Always a dreamer, I imagine that the shore is just beyond the stone wall and rows of apple trees in my back yard.  I digress.  The good dog and I were returning to the house when I noticed that he had some kind of treasure in his mouth.  Retrievers are rascals – they are fast and tricky.  You cannot take your eyes off of them, especially the older ones.  They always surprise you.  Harley raced into the house, did some circles around the dining room table and then settled down to enjoy his stolen clam.  You would have thought he had a prime rib!  Love that boy.

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a day without father

Father’s Day, since mine passed, has not been the same – how could it be?  I have to believe that he is in a better place.  Today I walked around outdoors (which is where he was most comfortable) and thought about the happier times.  My father instilled in me a great love and curiosity for all things wild.  We shared the joys of gardening, fishing, dogs, raw clams, the ocean … and so much more.  He may not have been interested in literature or the arts , but he made college a reality for me.  He was gruff and opinionated and stubborn.  But he loved his family and he loved a good joke and he was truly a man’s man.  I miss him more with each passing year.

I took this image the morning before my dad died.

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