Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Farm

The kids and I drove over to Georgia to visit my Uncle Gary and Aunt Stacey. Can only one day be a constant roller coaster of awesome? Yes, friend, it can. We swam, fished, golfed, ate (oh boy, did we eat), picked apples, and toured every one of the 380 acres inside the fence plus a few more outside the fence including a hidden 27 acre lake.

Since we were with Gary, every minute of our tour was full of stories that were so funny my cheeks hurt from smiling. He is a wealth of knowledge and the unbounded excitement he has for a 250 year old pecan tree or discovering the location on the shoals of the original settlers is infectious. He is a man who loves what he does and you can't help be inspired by that.

We rode around on jacked up golf carts, sometimes going so off road that my backside only touched the seat intermittently, and went on a dusk search for deer. I was foolish enough to think this land was too beautiful to describe during the day, but then the sun began to set and the long shadows stretched out to chase us back to the house. The beauty of the night's silhouettes under the quarter Buck moon was humbling. We were in town to celebrate my mom's 60th birthday and my daughter's 6th. Both exclaimed this was the best day of their life at different points. That is a better gift than anything we could have put in a box. Thank you, Gary and Stacey!

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
Albert Einstein

Monday, July 20, 2009

Shop Update

I didn't care that it was raining and the bench was wet. A bag with 5 pounds of powdered sugar smothering a lump of fried dough gets heavy. Sometimes you have to get your pants dirty to enjoy life.

New photographs are available in my shop. Grab a coffee and come visit.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

On Math and Chopin

Say it with me, ahhh divina proportione

I am sure I have mentioned before how poor my math skills are. Dirt poor. When confronted with having to do math in my head and answer out loud, my mind closes a door. No matter how furiously I knock seeking the answer, the neurotransmitters hiding behind the door insist loudly there is, "nobody home, go away, don't come back later." It hasn't helped my case that I am surrounded by a family of engineers and math teachers who all just 'get it'. They can visualize the numbers but I can't. Math is a foreign language to me.

There is hope though; if you show me math in a practical sense, I get it. Take the golden ratio or 'divine proportion', which I won't butcher by trying to explain. Aesthetically, it equals all of those perfect swirls in the sunflower up there, pleats in pine cones, crests of waves, even our own human form. According to this wiki article, the ratio is easily recognized in the works of my favorite composer, Chopin. Nocturne No. 2 in E Flat is a good example of the use of proportion, especially the sequence towards the end, which reminds me of watching the koi bubbling from the bridge at Seiwa-en, their scales shimmering beneath the cherry blossoms floating on the surface of the lake. Isn't it odd that even the happiest memories can quietly break your heart?

So, there you go, even when I finally understand a math concept, it still threatens to drive me to tears. I guess this is life's way of reminding me that the mind and the heart have to be in balance, in proportion, for contentment to exist. That is a language I am beginning to understand.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Opus Spicatum

I love to study brick and stonework. Masons combine strength, engineering, and art to create practical structures from an unforgiving medium. Some very clever masons will throw in an odd pattern on an otherwise plain wall or path. One of my favorites is herringbone. Opus Spicatum is Latin for spiked work; the technique is usually an accent since it is, structurally speaking, weak. Aesthetically speaking, for me, herringbone is especially captivating in mossy walkways leading to secret gardens, smartly cut wool suits, and knit hats.
Pattern: Opus Spicatum by Kate Gagnon (she who can design no wrong)
Needles: US #4 and 6 circular
Yarn: KnitPicks City Tweed alpaca (oh, the tweedy softness!)
Knit to pattern. For photo, hat is stretched on a plate, and wears more like a beanie rather than a beret.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

When Life Gives You a Wedgie, Make a Hedgie!

To alleviate the pain of the worst haircut of my life, other than the "Dorothy Hamill" my mom subjected me to at the tender age of five (sorry, Mom, it still stings), I am focusing on this little fellow. He makes me smile every time I enter the room. After I trimmed up the uneven ends and borrowed my daughter's barrettes, the haircut isn't so bad; it just isn't at all what I asked for. Too add insult to injury, my husband came home from work and after a prolonged silence declared "wow, it makes you look approachable." I chose to ignore that.

For anyone who has suffered an unfortunate shock at the hand of another, this pattern is for you. Bad feelings instantly vanish on sight of these wee hedgies, who are the epitome of approachable.
Pattern: Little Oddment Hedgehog by Little Cotton Rabbits
Needles: US # 2 and 4 dpn's
Yarn: oddments of Knitpicks Bare DK and City Tweed in Tahitian pearl and Merino Style in black
I can kitchener stitch with my eyes closed, but mattress stitch alludes me so I knit this up in the round. I began at the end of the pattern (the nose) and followed the directions backwards, increasing where decreases were originally written. Before I kitchenered the last 14 stitches at the rump, I stuffed him full of cotton balls. The body yarn was not thicker than the face so I knit in garter rather than stockinette to give him a textured look. I can see many more of these in my future, maybe an entire array. By the time I'm done knitting a whole herd, my hair should have grown out a bit. Ah, the promise the future holds.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Old Town

My 4th of July celebrations started early with a morning trip into Old Town before we walked down to the Farmer's Market by the creek. There are several new businesses and the owners were so gracious I had to share. These shops are all located in the 1880's buildings that supported the train depot, coal mines, gins, and mills that flourished here for many decades.
La Reunion Coffee Shop, operated by Del and Robin Howell, will be my go-to spot once my son starts preschool in the fall. I plan on spending many a free hour nestled amongst the antique furnishings, and exposed brick and beams, noshing on their excellent coffee and delicious bistro food. The shop has a wonderful island plantation vibe perfect for reading Hemingway while sipping your favorite brew.
If La Reunion takes you back in time, Wildflower Wax Candle Studio and Boutique, brings you back to the present with fabulous candles, jewelry, unique gifts items, and vintage boots. The studio evokes that perfect blend of kitsch and cool, and best of all, the items are made by local artists. Want to be an artist? Make your own candles in the studio!
Cross the street to that little tin-roofed shotgun shack I fell in love with a few months back
and welcome Judy Ellington who operates The Monkey Basket. She puts together the best gift baskets and gift items. Judy is a familiar face here and we are lucky to have her back in town again.
Congrats and good luck to all of the owners, I am glad you are here!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Holy Guacamole.

My husband's Grandmother, Gwen, sent this Classic Elite sweater kit my way when she realized she would never knit it up. Included are eleven 115 yd skeins of Inca Alpaca in a wine color, one each in eight other colors, plus a natural and grey skein of Caravan Camel. Wow. There is plenty of the wine for a long sleeve pullover for me, but what do I do with the other skeins? My eyes are bleary from searching Ravelry for hours after receiving the package. Any suggestions?