It has been a tired week. Every joint and muscle hurts, every task feels too big, napping in the afternoons, scrapping far too much silver for stupid mistakes at the bench. I'm not exactly sure what's going on, though I suspect something viral has snuck home from that teeming Petri dish known as the elementary school. But even (or perhaps especially) self-directed work schedules can only be put off for so long before reaching that critical mass where the prospect of catching up feels worse than the present ailment. So, moving along, here's what I did manage to get done this week:
Yesterday's market was bittersweet. It was one of the first gloriously sunny days we've had, crisply autumnal and fragrant with late flowers and earthy produce, but it was also a day of sadness and communal mourning. We arrived to the news that one of our own, Marc Brodeur, a lovely young man with a radiant smile and an infectious passion for his work as manager of the largest organic farm in the area, was killed in a car accident just a couple of days ago. He was 32.
As invariably happens at such times, (and it was slightly startling to realize that Rob and I have both seen so much tragic death in our lives and careers that shock and "how is this possible" has long since been replaced by "oh no, not again") there is both an outward and an inward response. Outward in the heavy sense of loss, the sadness for and support given to friends and family of the deceased. And inward in the reminder that this could have been me or my family, and what would I wish I were doing differently if it were.
For the first time in a long time (and perhaps ever), I can honestly answer "nothing". Rob was the one to put it into words - that this was a potent reminder that we are doing the right thing. Though some around us (my in-laws in particular) continue to be sceptical of our decision to cash in hard-won careers at what would conventionally be considered their peak, reject the idea that children "must" grow up in the biggest suburban single family dwelling one can leverage, and choose to live on a tiny fraction of our former incomes, we are immeasurably happier. Happy isn't even quite the word; there is still challenge and struggle and heartache, but we have a sense that our energy and awareness are now in the same place as our hearts. (And though I only knew him to chat weekly over armfuls of produce, I have a strong sense that this was the way Marc lived his life. That in no way mitigates the pain of his sudden absence from the world, but it leaves behind a lingering fragrance of rightness and goodness that is surely what any of us would hope for.)
More and more, since we moved here, I notice... my life. I lie in bed listening to the breathing, feeling the warm and solid outline of the man with whom I am still in love after 12 years of marriage, and think "this is Good". I walk my son to school in the pouring rain, surrounded by the scent of damp earth and pine and up the mountain a single shaft of sunlight illuminates a meadow and I think "this is Good." Somehow the knowledge that it could all be lost in an instant makes it more urgent to feel, to taste, to see. It's a little like sitting down to the best meal of your life - it would be terribly sad if you were called away after just an appetizer, but how much more tragic if you consumed the entire feast and didn't even notice.
It was a titch pricy for a vegetable, but I couldn't pass up the photo op. The scientific name is Brassica oleracea botrytis, also known as a Romanesque cauliflower, Romanesque broccoli, and other combination names indicating its presumed (though disputed) origins as a cross between a cauliflower and a broccoli. (I have not provided links because there seem to be few, if any, authoritative references - try Googling it!) It is probably most famous for the fractal properties of its appearance, which is certainly why I bought it. The texture is like cauliflower, and the taste is indeed reminiscent of broccoli. On the whole I think I prefer actual broccoli, but the florets were quite nice sauted in olive oil with heaps of crushed garlic and a pinch of coarse salt.
The mouse is still on the blink, so colour work has been postponed until such time as the replacement arrives. In the meantime, here's a little FO from my morning activities:
I've been pushing myself a bit to regularly acquire new metalsmithing and fabrication skills. It is sometimes all too easy to stay in the comfort zone of familiar and well-practiced techniques, especially when the work is well received, but new skills open up new creative possibilities and preclude stagnation. (Not that I feel particularly stagnant, but one can't be too careful! Plus it's fun.) This pendant was inspired by one of my favorite photos from earlier this year:
Speaking of photos, I should mention that I will be developing a series of professionally printed notecards based on some of my nature photos. A few readers have suggested it, and since I floated the idea in my application to the Christmas fair and was accepted, I guess I've got to get off the fence and get on with it! I will put them up on the website as soon as they're ready.
I would say more, but I think I have used up all my words. Despite the reminder on the school calendar, we did NOT talk like pirates today, because my literal minded 7 year old daughter took great offense to the concept of glorifying historical figures who were, in fact, violent criminals. Which engendered some angst-filled conversations about school attendence and an emergency "heads-up" call to her teacher who had taken great pains to show up in authentic costume. It was apparently a bearable day in the end, but a certain amount of irritability wafted home with her and was transferred to the computer mouse, whose left button now works ....intermittently. Arrrgh.
Wow - thanks for all the lovely comments on Cobblestone! The only thing better than finishing a great sweater is showing it off to folks who appreciate it! (I'm a bit behind on email these days, but every single comment is truly cherished.)
Now that I'm on a roll, I've resurrected the Mystery Project - more updates on that one another day. It helps that I have finally reached a bit of a balance (tempting fate by even saying that, I know) in the working from home thing. I decided to treat it (insofar as possible) like a "real" job - that is to say, mornings are for jewellery, afternoons for textiles (dyeing, production knitting, etc.) and after 5:00 I am "off" and free to do only personal knitting. In this way, the sweaters and other personal projects make steady progress, instead of "stealing" time in fits and starts, and I am more efficient during the days because I know I can't use the evenings to make up wasted time. (And I need to work hard over the next two months, because my acceptance to the big Christmas fair just came in - hooray!!)
Here's yesterday's dyeing results (not 100% dry, but close enough). I used photographic inspiration for all three skeins this time:
I edited out the dark reds in an effort to keep the colours in a similar value range - this is a fine boucle silk that will become a very open lacy wrap, and I am hoping for an effect that is more shimmering than stripey. I also chickened out on the green, though in retrospect, I probably could have gotten away with the palest lemony-lime shades. I was afraid it might be too busy.
Yesterday was much like the Sunday two weeks ago. Only considerably colder. Also windy. Did I mention there were fewer people, too? None of which dampened my spirits excessively, because thanks to the Comfortable Stool of Magnificence, I was able to knit for much of the day. Round about noon I cast off and wove in the last end, and spent the afternoon toasty warm and also slightly smug for having made my own outerwear on the spot. (I may possibly have flaunted this fact to neighbouring vendors.)
Modifications: I tapered the body from hips to armscye in a gentle A line to accomodate my hips while reducing bulk and boxiness around the bust. Since I chose a finer yarn at a very tight gauge, I did the appropriate conversion calculations; otherwise, I followed the pattern to the letter.
Comments: I love the end result. My goal was to have a sturdy outerwear pullover with slight shaping, roomy enough for layering, and just enough detail for understated class - and that is exactly what I got. This will definitely supplant my fleecy this fall. The pattern is brilliant, and the details are very Zimmerman-esque, from the short rows tilting the yoke into a perfect neckline, to the garter stitch side panels which not only provide visual interest but also duplicate the anti-sagging function of side seams due to the contractile properties of the stitch.
One of my favorite things to do when we lived in Moose Jaw was to run the utility road that bordered the base airfield. I loved the throaty roar of jets taking off, the way the sound reverberated deep in my bones, particularly if it was a formation, such as the Snowbirds heading out to Mossbank for the day. So it was a happy convergence of past and present when the boys (they are in fact, all boys at the moment, though there have been female pilots on the team in past years) blew down the valley unexpectedly for a couple of circuits.
Today's pattern is derived from one of my favorite high alpine photos of the past summer:
The intense mountain top light seems to suffuse everything it touches with an otherworldly radiance. I was particularly taken with the shades of red and pink juxtaposed against the glowing leaves.
The chosen palette of colours:
The idea of otherworldly radiance set off a train of thought about labyrinths and moving toward the light, and this is what I came up with:
It's a 24x24 stitch repeat. The first or second set of 12 rows would make a splendid border for a deep olive or dark cherry red cardigan. For a bolder effect, the pattern is fully repeatable and on a grander scale, looks like this :