Knitting Notes

Yeah, I may have gone a little crazy with the Pookies this week.    I finished the last of these new three last night.     Let’s see, they involve three different kinds of Cascade 220, Knitpicks Merino Style, Mission Falls 1624 Wool, and the Quince and Company Lark I’m using for the faces.   One of the Cascade 220s, and the Mission Falls are now used up.   (Yay!)

I have to take a little break from these now – my bamboo DPNs have managed to split the pad of my left index finger.    It’s funny – the Knit Picks Harmonys may have much sharper points, but they’re actually far nicer on your hands…


Ice Cream!

So this weekend, I finally got to try out the ice cream maker we found in the basement.    (We were cleaning out the repository of junk left by former tenants in anticipation of the electronic recycling day they had at one of the local schools a month or so back.   I saw this, quickly figured out what it was, ran upstairs to at least see if would work if I plugged it in, and it did!    I’d never buy an ice cream maker, but I won’t say no to a free one!)
What really amazes me is that this:

turns into this:

I decided on vanilla bean, because it’s extremely versatile, and we already had a vanilla bean, so it’s not like it would be a total waste if it didn’t come together.   (Heck, if nothing else, you can pass non-hardened vanilla ice cream off as creme anglaise…)    I used this recipe from David Lebovitz.     Heart healthy, it is not, but damn, is it good!

I ended up making this Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp, because all good ice cream needs a delivery vehicle.     All and all, it was a very satisfying experience, and I’ve definitely proved the ice cream maker works.

The Death of King Arthur

Read for the Once Upon a Time Challenge.

I went a bit old-school in the folklore department for this next challenge selection.

The Death of King Arthur is a thirteenth century French version of the last days of King Arthur (though the text itself claims it’s written by a Welshman).   It’s the third book of the Lancelot-Grail cycle, and picks up after everyone has returned from the quest to find the Holy Grail.

Lancelot is really the main character of this story – it’s his affair with the queen (that he had apparently sworn to avoid in the last part of the story) that drives the action, and ultimately leads to the downfall of Arthur.   This was a apparently one of Thomas Malory’s main inspirations for his Le Morte d’Arthur (which I have read, and it really did give this book a certain air of déjà vu).

As older texts go, this is pretty readable – there are certain non-modern conventions that are a little weird, but I found it far easier to read then Chretien de Troyes.   The chivalrous relationships between the knights and the king are also a bit strange from a modern perspective, but if you just go with it, they make sense.   (It helps I took a Medieval European History class in college – a little context makes the reading easier).

The other thing that takes a little getting used to is that Arthur is a pretty passive character – you would think that everyone’s accusations against Lancelot and the Queen would greatly offend him, and he’s want to get to the bottom of things, but his nephews (mainly Agravain), have to drive him to finally do something about Lancelot.    And, once Lancelot is found out, and there’s a whole lot of grief caused by what follows, it’s his nephew Gawain that makes him go out after Lancelot.    Lancelot really comes out the strongest character in this particular version of the story, for better or worse.

To sum up: if you’ve read Le Morte d’Arthur, you could skip this book – it doesn’t really cover new ground.   But, it’s also highly readable for one of the older Arthur works, so it certainly won’t be too much of a burden if you do decide to give it a go.

Knitting Notes

Pattern: Pookies by Barbara Prime
Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted in the Tuareg and Vaa colorways and Quince and Co. Lark in the Chanterelle colorway
Needles: Size 6 DPNs
I bought this pattern with the intention of working through my worsted weight leftovers, and I’ve fallen in love.    My first go (a puppy) was finished in one day (after an emergency run to Joann’s for stuffing, beads, and eyes).    The pattern’s great – super easy, and so cute when it’s done.   It’s also awesome because you don’t need a ton of yarn in the contrasting stripe color (this is the largest size, so you can do less stripes), so I can see myself blowing through a ton of these with scraps of yarn.   (Let’s see, L will probably get at least two for Christmas, and I can think of at least two new babies coming soon.    Heck, I can probably give these to adults.   All the kids at Mocksgiving?   The possibilities are endless.)

I also knocked out some hexipuffs (in Malabrigo sock Cordovan, Knit Picks Stroll Midnight Heather, and Pine Woods Farms Autumn Leaves).    The last one was particularly satisfying – I had exactly enough yarn for one.    Exactly.

So that’s another three yarns off my current stash page.    I can’t wait until the Pookies swing into full gear, and I can blow out more.

Garden Notes

Well, the iris are out, which means it’s plant whatever the heck else you need to time.
I took Friday off so I could go to my favorite garden center (Broadway Gardens)- the haul from which is above.    It was raining, so I foolishly thought it would be fairly empty.   Ha!   Granted, it was no Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, but there were a fair number of people out in the rain.
One thing I was happy to see was an expanded selection of herbs.    They moved them to a different house, and there were things available that I know they’ve never carried before.   I managed to snag some lemon balm, which I had only see in one other place, at a price so high I couldn’t bring myself to buy it.


This is the finished back yard garden.    New additions this year are: sorrel, green shiso, purple shiso, a Berry something or other heuchera, a new hosta (this one has very long, skinny leaves), two coleus (my now traditional Sedona, and one called Dirty Martini), borage, and lemon balm.

In the front of the house, as a placeholder for the year, I’ve planted cosmos.   The one annoying thing – I thought I was getting a mix, and it turned out I bought a flat of whites.    Oh well.   I love cosmos.   I’ll live if I only get one color.

The side garden is so busy I can’t get a good overview picture, but this weekend,  I added: two tomatoes (a cherry and medium sized one), a pepper, lemon basil, purple basil, Thai basil, Vietnamese cilantro, regular cilantro, parsley, dill, and more Swiss chard (to fill out my pot, and I’ve planted some in the middle of the pea trellis, which can stay there when those go).

The annoying thing there?   I ordered the tomatoes, pepper, and basils from a catalog that has a pretty good reputation.    My package ended up sitting in a warehouse all last weekend (after an initial email telling me I’d get it last Friday).    So, my original purple basil arrived dead (I replaced it this weekend), and I’m really not sure the pepper is going to make it.    It was a small hybrid pepper that I can’t get around here, and the size was the only reason I’d decided to try a pepper again this year.   (I decided I had way more jalapenos than I needed just from the CSA, and it’s a total crap shoot getting full sized bells to actually mature up here.)   I could probably get my money back, but I knew I was taking a risk, so I’m just not going to go there.    This just means I’m back to locally grown starts next year.   Live and learn, I guess.

McLaughlin Garden – South Paris, Maine














So the other part of this weekend’s epic drive was a stop at the McLaughlin Garden in South Paris.    It’s known for its lilacs (the annual Lilac Festival is this weekend), and they’re all planted in a pretty densely packed woodland area that last weekend was bursting with spring ephemerals.    Totally worth the trip.    (They also sold quite a few of them, including the trilliums, for planting.)

Knitting Notes

Pattern: Soledad by  Annika Barranti
Yarn: Knit Picks Merino Style in the Storm Colorway
Needles: Size 4 and 5 DPNs and Circs

I finished my Soledad sweater a little behind schedule, because I’d originally started out with the Age 2 size, and got almost all the way done with the neck when I found that what I thought was a half ball of yarn that was supposed to see me through to the end of the project was in fact a collection of loose ends.    So, I had to frog nearly the entire thing, and reknit the Age 1 size.   Fortunately, I was really enjoying the pattern, so it wasn’t too much of a hardship.

The cables absolutely make the pattern – there’s plenty of interest to distract from the otherwise boring stockinette stitch.    They’re also relatively easy to do, but look nice and complex.

One of my main aims this year is to use up as many of my odds and ends of yarn as possible, which is why I’d found this pattern – I was searching for things to do with this amount of DK weight yarn.   It’s a really nice yarn, though I just noticed today when looking at it to calculate my yardage that it’s been discontinued.    That’s a shame, though I’m pretty sure there’s another line to take its place.

Garden Notes

I actually did a bit of harvesting today – two huge radishes, and salad greens.   The greens weren’t filling either pot, and I could use them for other things, so they came out today.

Part of yesterday’s epic drive was stopping at a couple of garden centers that are further out of town then I’d normally go to on a whim.    I found myself a Raspberry Splash pulmonaria (which I saw at Coastal Maine Botanical garden, and loved), and it’s now in the woodland garden.   I had to move a couple of lamium out of the way to make room for that.

We also stopped by the farmer’s market and bought some herb seedlings.    To the left are green and purple shiso, and the planter on the far right has borage (something else to be determined will also be going in there).    I also planted some mother of thyme and oregano that we picked up yesterday.


I’ve tied the peas to the trellis – every time I tried to get them to stick naturally, a rain storm intervened and flattened them.    Hopefully, this will stick.

My mother gave me some bare root strawberries, which are already doing quite nicely in a strawberry pot.   I’m not going to expect anything out of these this year, but next year should be interesting.

And finally, I’ve dragged out the rest of the large pots so they can settle in before vegetable planting this week.   My Burpee order is currently on the way, and I took Friday off so I can go to the garden center during the day, and hopefully avoid the worst of the hordes.    I’m really looking forward to it.

Pineland Garden – New Gloucester ME

We went on a fairly epic drive around Southern and Western Maine yesterday, stopping at a few gardens and other spots we’d been wanting to see.     The above is the Garden at the Pineland Center, which is just starting to come to life – they haven’t planted the vegetables yet, and the fruit trees are mostly past flowering – but you can definitely see hints of what’s to come.

The Rose and the Beast – Francesca Lia Black

Read for the Once Upon a Time Reading Challenge.

These short stories take nine traditional fairy tales and translate them into modern day Los Angeles.    The language is poetic, and still very much of the traditional fairy tale.    This means that even though most of the tales are not supernatural, the writing keeps that fairy tale atmosphere alive.    They’re really interesting stories – definitely worth a read if you enjoy fairy tale retellings.

My favorite was probably ‘Snow’, which takes Snow White to a canyon outside LA, where she’s brought up by circus freaks.    Definitely an interesting way to take the tale into the real world, and it’s still surprisingly magical.