Tuesday, August 31, 2010


It's that time of year again--while the rest of the country is savoring the last lingering days of their summer, I'm counting the hours until summer is over, done, and gone.

School has started, and darkness is falling noticeably earlier, both of which are counts in fall's favor.

But our cold water is still running lukewarm (from sitting in pipes outside), butter can be softened in an hour at room temperature, and the noonday sun is still enough to bake your laundry in, if you so desire. Three counts for fall.

But look! The hesperaloe pods are going from glaucous green to brown and brittle! (I love bending the stalks so they sproing back and scatter the seeds)

This is also the time of year I start to feel it would be prudent to start stocking up on warm things for fall or winter.

First item to go in this year's stockpile: Gudrun Johnson's Crofter's Cowl. The yarn is Noro Taiyo, which I'd bought in Tucson last year and have been saving up for a Special Project. Taiyo, I discovered, is a single ply with little rough bits of fiber in it, so I modified the pattern by working from bottom to top rather than from both ends to the middle to eliminate the need for grafting. The horseshoe lace only has those nice points on the cast on edge, which means my BO edge is pretty straight and boring, but I was worried that the nature of the color changes and the texture of the yarn would make for a bad grafting experience. And I can live with only having a nice pointy edge on one side of my cowl ; )

The neon yellow and lime green in this colorway had worried me a little bit when I started knitting, but the pinks and browns balance that out nicely. I used exactly half the skein, so I'm tempted to use the other half (which has a great bubblegum pink and carnation red along with a shell gray) for another crofter's cowl, just to see how the colors come out.

Yes, I am modeling my cowl in a tank top. So I may be jumping the gun a bit if I start a big wooly shawl next. It's tempting, though.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Crossing Paths

One of the many things I love about blogging is the way you can cross paths with other bloggers in another state or another country without even meaning to.

This summer, I became intrigued by the flora of the UK. As my springtime forays indicate, I am reasonably familiar with the plants that grow here in the Sonoran Desert, but most of the plants I saw in gardens and fields in the UK were total strangers.

I like to know things, just for the sake of knowing, so not knowing the names of the plants all around was driving me nuts. This was especially the case with those tall, spiky plants with the purply-pink flowers. We saw them all over--on the embankments on the side of the road, in the waste beside the train tracks, and cutting purple swaths through fields around Dalkeith.

My first thought was that they were thistle (perhaps the one UK flower I can identify), but getting a good look at some real thistles (picture taken at Dalkeith Park) proved they were not. I had resigned myself to shelving them at the back of my mind with the UK hills, monuments, and villages I had seen but whose names I would never know.

Then I read Kate Davies' post about the Braids.

There the flowers were! And Kate knew their name: rosebay willowherb! (Her pictures are much nicer, too)

So utterly random, so utterly unessential, finding that name totally made my day. Now I know. I can go back to all my pictures of those swaths of purple and add the tag: rosebay willowherb.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Originally, I'd intended to do a proper summary of the rest of my month in the UK, but there was simply Too Much, all of which defies description. It was a month in another world entirely, and if it weren't for the scads of pictures I took, I'd be tempted to say it was all a dream. The best evidence of the sheer amount of living that was crammed into last month is in the pictures of the *two* pairs of socks I knitted while I was away. Even though the last sock was finished at home, I have never managed so great a feat (feat, feet...giggle)--my previous sock-knitting "record" was a pair in a month.

Here they are:

I don't think I can do socks for a long while now. Cowls, however, are an entirely different matter...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Did the Vacation End?

Back in the Valley of the Sun. I was gone so long, I feel like a tourist gawking at the wide streets, low buildings, and skinny palm trees for the first time.