Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Allow me to explain how spring works in Maine.

One day, you admire the tulips that are just forcing their way through the recently thawed soil. The sun is bright, the robins are hopping around in the grass, and spring feels entirely within your grasp.
You go to bed, and when you wake up the next morning, you have this.
One day forward, two months back.

Before the snow came, I went over to Farmer Dan's house to see the new arrivals: two baby goats and two adorable little Jacob lambs. Now if I had a farm with animals, I know full well that it'd be called Clara's Soft-Hearted Home for the Limping, Infirm, Barren, and Disagreeable Creatures Nobody Else Wants. But Dan is the complete opposite. He understands the cycle of life and isn't afraid to roll up his sleeves and take an active part.

I'm still recovering from last year when he arrived at my knit-in (Dan also knits, as well as paints and makes marvelous scones) and announced that one of his most notoriously disagreeable Jacobs was now in the freezer. Never mind that this particular animal had a truly gorgeous fleece. He was, quite frankly, a bit of a jerk.

"One shot right between the ears," as Dan put it, pointing to the back of his head in case we didn't have a clear enough picture already, and the fight was over.

This time I pretended not to hear his comments about which of the contented sheep in our midst would eventually become someone's dinner. (And yes, I eat meat. I realize what a total hypocrite I am.)

I took dozens of pictures and made countless "coo" noises to these animals before finally prying myself away and returning home to face...

The Final Dummy. Casey, as always, took his turn with the red pen. It's amazing how, with each round, you see things in a new and slightly different light. You catch things that somehow you and six other people didn't see before. You notice inconsistencies in the content. You see where you didn't go quite far enough. And best of all, you get to fix those spots and make it better and better. It's very exciting.

On a knitting front, besides swatching various projects from the book for the sixth time, just in case I've also been playing with the "one-skein wonder" theory, using Artyarns Silk Rhapsody as my testing ground. I publish the results, in pattern form, in this week's newsletter. But here's a sneak peek. It's basically the essential shawl skeleton form with very simple trim along the bottom edges. The idea is to help people get familiar with the shawl structure using a yarn that "does all the work for you," and using larger needles so that you get to the finish line relatively quickly.

After you've finished your first one, the training wheels are off -- you can switch to a smaller needle, buy two skeins, experiment with additional patterning, etc.

(And those are rabbit tracks in the snow, by the way. It seemed fitting, since I took the picture on Easter Sunday.)


Margaret said...

Ah yes, Clara Dear, it's like this in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies too. They say that if you don't like Calgary weather, wait 5 minutes. Sometimes, that's all it takes!


Lanea said...

As my grandpap would say, that farmer is smart enough not to pick a $500 solution for a $0.50 problem. The real farm folk are much less sentimental. I try to convince myself I have the backbone to do stuff like that, but I'm so completely in love with Jacobs I doubt I could pull it off.

Clara said...

I know, I know - a bullet is $.25, and a winter's feed and hay is... But still. Maybe we can plan a Jacob heist at Dan's farm when he isn't looking? (Cover your eyes if you're reading this, Dan!)

Anonymous said...

Oh, Clara, I hope you'll talk a bit about how to take of those training wheels (e.g., how to add additional patterning into the shawl's existing structure). Sometimes it's hard to make that leap without a bit of hand holding. (E.g., this yarn looks great on large needles, so when looking for a pattern to add, one should look for something X... But the yarn is fuzzy, so watch out for Y... And multi-colored variations of the yarn will add/subtract Z...)
Can't wait for the book, btw.

Minh said...

I love that picture of Casey... he looks really focused on his task :)

PURLEWE said...

ah.. the 50 cent solution. I hope he at least tasted good.

Love the pic of Case-man. All puffy in indignant. He needs the red pen behind his ears for the full effect.

And you are full of fabulous people with amazing talents.. aren't you?

Laura said...

All I can say is that Casey is one adorable kitty cat and God knows, I think he knows it, but that's okay! :)

Martha said...

Ah, that famous Maine April snow.
And ah, that famous, handsome-ee Casey-man.
And yes, those Jacob sheepies.
The shawl pattern is terrific - will also pass it on to a friend who is a new knitter. I have become a wonderful enabler too. Goodie for her & for me.

fiberlicious said...

I'm also an unrepentant carnivore, but I do draw a line: I won't eat someone I've met.

Hail to Casey The Fierce!