Tuesday, June 17, 2008

What I could do with the help of a few hundred serfs...

OK, so it is not the Great Wall of China or the Pyramids of Egypt. Just the Minor Wall of My Front Yard. I have managed to put in an hour or so of shifting stones after work each night. Turns out I was absolutely right in my suspicion that dry stack walls are harder to pull off then they look. The problem is that you tend to quickly use up all the conveniently rectangular stones, then are faced with all the funny shaped ones. And one little knobby bit on a rock can leave it wobbling precariously or stubbornly refusing to fit into the space you just know it should fill admirably.

Still, for my first attempt I am learning a lot. For instance, tomorrow I am running out at lunch to buy a chisel.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


First, happy Father's Day to all you fathers out there!

Despite (and perhaps because of) my currently busy work schedule, I have managed to complete a carry-along project. Carry-along projects are necessary to keep one's sanity by allowing a little knitting between meetings and while toing and froing across campus to even more meetings. I have become quite adept at garter or stockinette stitching while walking without running into trees or cars. By the end of this summer I may even be tackling lace while walking.

This particular project was about as eco-chic as it gets: Its yarn is made of recycled sari silk spun by a womens' coop in Nepal and sold at 'fair trade' prices, allowing the women to supplement their families' income. Beyond the feel-good aspects, the yarn is a mix of the most gorgeous colors that only silk can provide. I bought mine at a small imports store in Yachats, Oregon, while vacationing with Sharon and Ian. It has been sitting several years, waiting for just the right project. I started to knit the "unraveled" pattern from Knitty.com, but decided the resulting bag would be too shallow. I frogged it and started again. I knit two 11.5" x 9" garter stitch rectangles, then a wide band that goes around the bottom and sides, narrowing at the top of the sides then continuing as the strap. I liked the result so much that I actually dug out the sewing machine and made a lining, complete with 2 large pockets and a cell phone pocket. To continue the eco-friendly theme, I made the lining from cotton fabric scraps left over from the trailer curtains. Many thanks to Allison, who suggested I let the singles yarn unwind a bit as I went along to soften the resulting fabric.

Saturday, June 07, 2008


The foundation stones have been placed and backfilled. Now the tricky-artsy job of fitting stones begins. Note: Rocks are really heavy.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Way behind

No, I have not dropped off the planet. I have just been totally consumed with non-bloggable activities. These include work, and ... well, mostly just work. This totally busy time will pass, but for now I have to shoehorn in other activities were I can. I was going to comment on how unnaturally hot it was. Then I was going to comment on how unnaturally wet and cold it was. Now it is pretty much normal, so there isn't much to say about it.

I did manage to finish the white cotton sweater, except for sewing on the buttons - hand sewing even something as simple as buttons is something I actively procrastinate.

My most treasured progress has been on the foundation ditch for my rock wall. It will be a low dry-stack wall, so I dug a ditch about 10 inches deep and spread sand in it. The sand is to give a nice level surface for the first rank of ledger stone. In a flash of inspiration I used the "car-weight" sand bags that were taking up space in my garage. I used to put these bags in the back of my pickup each winter to add traction. Now I have a heftier 4-wheel-drive, so the sand can go to a higher (or lower) purpose. And tada! I have more space in my garage! I need to pick up one more bag of sand, then I will be able to start moving rocks. I hope to place at least a ceremonial first stone this weekend.

Meanwhile, with absolutely no help from me, the garden has sprung to life. The lavender has sent up bloom stalks, the curl-leaf mahogany have become proper willowy shrubs, and, after a severe pruning, the Perovskia have filled in with dense crops of new leaves. Every year since I bought the house the pink peony has given forth exactly 2 blossoms. Sure enough - 2 more this year.

On the knitting front, I have frogged the recycled-sari-silk bag and restarted it to my own pattern. It will be handbag-sized using squares on both front and back and a shaped strap that forms bottom, sides and strap. Hard to describe, but I have a vision. I'll post pictures if it works out. The surprise project I have previously alluded to is still in progress, so no pictures of that for now.

That is about all for now. I'll take pictures of my ceremonial first rock. Maybe I should break a bottle over it....