Thursday, March 31, 2011

March and the desert bloom

It's the last night of March. I'm sitting, curled up in my Cambridge apartment with a low fire in the woodstove, knitting a hat, while a wet spring snow falls softly outside.

I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy, despite the chill. Mountain Man reports sweetly from Arizona that he LOVES his sweater and wants to wear it all the time, even though it's 80 degrees there! Here's what it was like last weekend ... how lovely ...

It was actually an unusually long and cold winter in Arizona, too. We had a great deal of frost damage in the garden, losing a fig tree, bougainvillea, and some of the more tender jasmines. But with the winter rains and the warming temperatures, it's greening up now, and the desert is starting to bloom. The brittlebrush has exploded into insane yellows

The ocotillo are covered with green leaves and tipped with their brilliant orange flowers

The first of the cacti -- a strawberry hedgehog, which actually has a fresh, fruity fragrance -- have flowered.

And back in the garden, we were awash in sweet grapefuit and even sweeter grapefruit blossoms, all buzzing with bees.

Can't wait to be back there!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mountain Man's Sweater

At long last, I have knit my man a sweater and made him happy.

It's a simple, seamless, stockinette sweater, knit just the way he wanted it, with raglan sleeves

and rustic rolled edges at the neck, waist, and wrists.

The yarn is a soft, lofty, naturally colored, chocolate brown wool (Fibranatura Shepherd's Own). Quite appropriately, I knit much of it on our climbing trips over the past couple of months - see here here and here. It was always a pleasure to pull my knitting out of my climbing bag and feel this soft yarn in my rock-roughened fingers.

Isis, too, is delighted by it.

The backstory, by the way, is that for years Mountain Man has been wearing these rough wool sweaters that he picked up during field work in Nepal. They're huge, coarse, drop-shouldered beasts that keep getting holes worn in them that I have to darn up. See for yourself.

He loves those sweaters, so I can't disparage them too much, but I must say that I think this new one is a great improvement :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick's Day was my birthday. It was a fine day indeed: sunny, mild for the season, full of good spirits. Mountain Man was visiting, and we spent the afternoon strolling around the neighborhoods of Boston. Here's a pause in the North End after savoring a cannoli from Mike's Pastry.

The new hat is yet another Rivendell, but instead of a snug cap in DK wool, it's a lush, soft, slouchy hat in worsted, single-spun alpaca. The yarn is Cascade's Eco-Alpaca, which is undyed and minimally processed. The cables are delicious in this yarn!

I plan on eventually re-releasing this pattern with instructions for both the DK wool cap and the worsted alpaca sloucher. But ... sigh .... I've kind of lost my steam with the pattern making since I've come back to Cambridge and re-focused on my real work. It's a simple enough pattern that it would probably only take one Saturday to photograph/type/chart/etc. and finish the pattern, but ... sigh ...

What I have had more energy and appetite for is photographing this place. I'll be headed back to Arizona after this academic year, and I'm trying to appreciate all the textures and experiences while I'm still East. Like these antique radiators, packed into an outside lot at a salvage company in Union Square.

They're so beautiful and sculptural. Every time I bike past, I think, "I should really come back here with a camera."

Or take this monstrous pothole in my neighborhood, which reveals a glimpse of paved-over cobblestone streets. I took this photo about a week ago. When I biked past the spot again yesterday, it was patched up and back to plain-old asphalt. It's amazing to think of these layers of hidden history.

And while I'm thinking about my own sense of place, here are two other posts, from two of my favorite blogs, that transported me so thoroughly to other magical places this week: Knitting Iris's St. Patrick's day in Montana and The Times We Are Living In's elk-research adventures in Wyoming. Enjoy!

Monday, March 14, 2011

little bit of lushness

Early spring has finally arrived. It's earthy, dreary, chilly, damp, but altogether lush-feeling to us winter-weary creatures. The ducks have patches of open water to swim through ...

We humans can be out and about with lighter jackets and a playful spring in our step ... hee hee

(Although hats are still welcome! Just in time for the brisk March weather, I whipped up some semi-matching hats for Mountain Man and me. The yarn is the yummy woolen-spun sportweight Cormo from Elsa Wool. His hat is a Cambridge Watchcap. Mine is a Rivendell.)

Best of all, the earliest flowers are beginning to grow out of the thawing earth and tentatively stretch out their petals. Witch hazel. Crocus. Snowdrops.

We went for a walk around Elizabeth Park yesterday and were delighted to come across the spring flower show. I remember this every year -- the excitement of stepping out of a cold, drizzly March landscape and into the warmth, color, and fragrance of the greenhouse.

Talk about lush! I was in rapture: daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, pansies, petunias ...

and will definitely be trying to carry this color through the week!