My Taos Wrap

Inspired by the rich colors and textural landscape of Taos, NM, I started this wrap at the Jane Thornley knitting retreat I attended there last September. If you’d like to read about my journey there, I wrote about it here, here and here.

Fully intending to complete my creation once I returned home to New England, I found that life kept pulling me away from this particular set of circular needles. It was only after I moved into my new home permanently and life settled around me that I could wrap myself into this project once again.

Worked from wrist to wrist with a series of increases and then decreases, I felt like I was climbing a mountain – up, up, up, resting for a bit on the peak and enjoying the view, and then down the other side. In my case, I made the descent side of the “mountain” symmetrical yarn-wise to the ascent. Where I started out intuitively reaching for the next ball of yarn, I retraced those color choices for the second half of the wrap, a balance of right brain and then left brain thinking. After completing my descent and binding off, I sewed small sleeves starting at each wrist.

As you can see, my wrap can be worn quite long. Alternately, I can always bunch it up for a shorter, bulkier wrap. I prefer wearing it in its full length glory. And with a flower sprouting from my head!

In wearing it a couple of times already, I have discovered that a shawl pin would help it stay on my shoulders more securely. I’m still considering whether I’d like to make one of polymer clay or bead embroidery. What do you think?

I’ve already started another free-range knitting project – a Winter Woods vest, inspired by Jane Thornley’s Winter Forest Evocative Guide and my Sunday hikes in a nearby wood. Here’s a peek at what’s on my needles.

There’s something so magical about blending colors with yarn. Mmmm…

What project are you working on?

Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you. All the other tangible rewards will come as a result.

~Maya Angelou

Saturday Morning Tea

Our week was blessed with bright sunshine and deep blue skies even though temps have been hovering at the freezing mark during the day, dropping into the teens at night. I’ve warmed myself every night by wrapping in a big granny square blanket with a steaming teapot close by. The tv show LOST returned this week and, yes, I admit it, I am drawn to that show for some reason. Perhaps it’s their determination to survive that I admire.

This past week I replied to an e-mail from a customer disappointed in the tea I chose for my morning tea today. They thought it would be a green tea and, even though it is processed as a green tea first, I explained how it is far from it in flavor.

I introduce you to Ho-ji Cha tea, a roasted green tea.

Ho-ji Cha tea is traditionally grown and produced in Japan. Using what’s called Bancha (meaning common tea) green tea, the green tea leaves are roasted in porcelain pots over a charcoal fire. Roasting the tea leaves turns them a rich russet color and creates a completely different kind of tea from its original green state. This particular tea has been grown in China.

As you can see, the steeped leaves are chocolate brown with some twig mixed in. Straight twig tea is called Ku-ki Cha and is also very popular in Japan.

In my research, I have discovered that this type of tea was first created in Kyoto, Japan in the 1920s by a merchant but I have not been able to find out why. Perhaps he wanted to “spice” up the taste of the common grade of green tea. I have also read that the roasting process lowers the caffeine content of the leaf. I don’t understand that since all tea leaves are heated up to halt the oxidation process. Personally, I think this tea is lower in caffeine because it is common to have twigs from the tea plant mixed in. There isn’t any caffeine in the twigs.

I steeped my Ho-ji Cha tea for 3 minutes in 180 degree F water. As it brewed, its warm, toasty aroma filled my senses.

The flavor of the glowing, dark-amber liquor is woodsy, toasty, nutty and smooth with a whisper of sweet caramel in the finish.

The roasted flavor lingers in my mouth for a long time.

The winter sky is shrouded in a thick, gray blanket. Aside from the gentle water sound of my fountain and the classical music playing, my morning world is silent. I sip my tea and savor the quiet moments.

Weekends are for getting back in touch with myself.

“Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself

and know that everything in this life has a purpose.”

~Elisabeth Kubler-Ross