Knitting a Spring Cardigan (or two)

My great-nephew recently celebrated his first birthday and I wanted to knit him something bright and colorful. I chose this boxy, cropped cardigan pattern called Haiku that I found on knitty.com, a great resource for knitters and chock full of free patterns.

When I knitted the pumpkin hat for my granddaughter last year, I fell in love with Blue Sky Alpacas organic cotton. With a rainbow of wonderful colors to choose from, it’s so soft and yummy.

I chose Pickle for Liam.

And Lemongrass for my granddaughter, Ella, because I just had to make one for her, too!

I found some brightly colored buttons in the shape of building blocks, rocking horses, and teddy bears at Joann Fabric’s – perfect for Liam’s sweater. But I didn’t really like any of the flower buttons I found there so I made some purply-pink blooms with yellow centers out of polymer clay. It was soooo easy with a flexible Sculpey push mold I found in my toolbox.

Now that the little ones’ cardigans are finished and in the mail, it’s time for a new project for my pointy sticks. Perhaps a summer sweater for myself. This pattern looks promising!

Saturday Morning Tea

The rain clouds have finally parted here in New England but not without some severe flooding in certain areas. My thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by the storm. I hope that the warm temps and bright sunshine help clear all of this water away and folks can return to their homes and businesses.

This morning’s tea is a Ceylon black tea from the Deniyaya estate, located in the Ruhuna district in southern Sri Lanka. I’ve written about another tea grown in this district here.

The plucking is predominantly composed of very fine tip, giving the dry leaf a “salt and pepper” look.  The fine, needle-like structure of the leaf reminds me of South African Rooibos.

Because of its fine structure, I steeped the leaf for 3 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. It didn’t take up much room in my teapot’s infuser at all.

As I poured my first cup, I notice a pronounced, rich molasses aroma wafting up from the dark amber liquor.

I’m enjoying my tea in a new teabowl purchased from Salty Dog Pottery at a recent art show I attended. As I browsed around the show, I was immediately drawn to the soft colors and symbolism on this piece. The shiny glazing is created with salt!

I love the layered complexity of this tea. I taste cocoa, whispers of vanilla, hints of fruitiness and a smoothness that carries into the finish.

Today I am spending the afternoon with my precious 17-month old granddaughter who is here visiting from New Mexico. The day has graced us with warmth and sunshine so we are going to enjoy a trip to the playground and a long walk on the bike trail at a nearby pond. Oh yes, and a trip to the toy store for a Dora the Explorer doll! Ella loves Dora and calls her “Do-ba”, “Do-ba”.

What are you enjoying today?

You are the bows from which your children, as living arrows, are sent forth. ~Kahlil Gibran

Saturday Morning Tea

I had a wonderful start to my morning today. The phone rang as I was preparing my tea and, as I said hello, I was greeted to a happy birthday song from my parents. My heart smiled as I poured water over the tea leaves. Thanks Mom and Dad. I’m so blessed.

The tea I’ve brewed up this morning is a Kenyan black tea from the Milima tea estate. I’ve found conflicting information regarding this tea estate. Some say that it’s a compendium of 3 tea estates and other information indicates that it really is its own tea estate located in the Kericho Highlands of western Kenya. The Kericho region is where most of the tea is grown in Kenya and it lies west of the Great Rift Valley.

I steeped the leaves for 4 minutes in boiling point (212 F) water. Most of the tea that comes from Kenya these days is of the CTC variety. CTC means crush, tear, curl, a mechanized processing of the leaf which results in a consistent granular structure.

This leaf, however, has an intact structure though it is broken, not whole. Its leaf designation is BOP which means broken orange pekoe.

The tea liquor steeps up very dark and full-bodied. It makes a great breakfast tea that would certainly hold up well to any additions like milk and sweetener.

I enjoyed my tea plain so I could discover the interesting fruit and spice flavor notes. Mmmm…apple…nutmeg….soft but there.

I’ve written about another Kenyan tea here.

While this tea is very smooth compared to its CTC counterparts, there is a zip in the finish. Look at that dark liquor, almost like coffee.

I am looking forward to a day of hanging out, shopping and lunch with my lovely daughter. A perfect birthday celebration. We plan on visiting the bead store which I’m hoping will jumpstart my dormant creativity. Now that I’m all moved in, my studio is ready and waiting to embrace me once again.

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.  -Neil Gaiman

Saturday Morning Tea

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Outside the sky is weeping, reflecting what my heart feels inside. This past week was a very sad one in my home. We lost our beloved black Lab, Jack, and the world feels as if it has shifted upon its axis and will never be the same again. It came suddenly, however, we had time to say our farewells and honor our dear old friend. It is amazing to me how everyone who hears the news comes forward and generously opens their heart and shares their own story about the passing of a beloved pet. They are in our lives for what feels like the briefest amount of time, like a shooting star blazing across the heavens and then it is gone. But their wonderful memory lives on forever in our hearts. Jack taught me so much about loyalty and unconditional love. So much about love…

I need a big dose of comfort this morning and so I turn to green tea. I am sipping a green tea from China that one usually associates with Japan, an organic Gyokuro. Produced for the Japanese market, everything about this tea is Japanese except for where it is grown. I have written about Japanese Gyokuro tea and its unique growing and processing here and here.

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The tea bushes are shaded with a dark cloth approximately 3 weeks before plucking. This gives the leaf an amazing deep emerald color.

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It reminds me of cooked spinach, very healthy and very green.

I steeped the leaves in 180 degree F water for 3 minutes.

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The color of the tea liquor kind of reminds me of that Italian liqueur, Limoncello, made from lemon zest, alcohol, sugar and water. The taste is not lemony at all, however, but clean and quite vegetal.

As I slowly sip and gaze out at the wet day, a gentle calm slips over me.

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As the tea cools, a lively, tart pungency is revealed, a flavor note that I associate with Japanese green teas.

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Clean. Fresh. Simple. Calm.

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Rest in peace, my dear, beloved friend. You will always live in my heart…

I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive.

~Gilda Radner

Taos Journey – Last Day

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The last day. So final.

This is the day that you find yourself trying to fit in everything that you wanted to do but didn’t get a chance to on all of the other days. So, it turned into a “bits” day – a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

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A little bit of knitting.

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A little bit of walking around the grounds, poking in and out of all of the wonderful nooks and crannies of Mabel’s house.

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Here’s the door to that fabulous doorway.

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A little bit more shopping. There’s Dad relaxing while we buy more yarn at Weaving Southwest.

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A nice scenic drive for a little bit of picture taking.

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Relaxing in the living room.

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And the sitting room.

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I sure will miss this wild, beautiful land.

You might have noticed that I haven’t posted any photos of my shrug yet. Weeeelllll…it is almost done with just the sleeve seams to be sewn and the little yarn ends to be woven.

Stay tuned for the “ta-da” moment of my Taos Shrug!

It is not a country of light on things.

It is a country of things in light.

~Georgia O’Keeffe (on New Mexico)