Elephant Sneeze


County Fair Suspense

Penguin is a nervous mess.  We submitted her little knit hat to the County Fair on Monday, judging was yesterday, and we’re hoping to go sometime today to see if she won a ribbon.

She planned her outfit for today last night, and has repeatedly asked me if she looks “County Fair-ish” enough.  She’s gone back and forth on her choice of earrings.  She thinks I should do her hair…but then she doesn’t, because it’s just going to get messed up when she rides ALL the rides.

She asks me how much longer until the Fair opens, once every twenty minutes or so.

Bluebird, in her funny little way, is trying to prep Penguin for the reality that she may not win a blue ribbon by saying confidence-boosting things such as , “You know, a third place ribbon is better than no ribbon at all.”*

Whenever someone wishes Penguin good luck on her entry, she beams and says, “Thank you!  And remember to keep hoping that I win the blue ribbon!”  She is dreaming big and there is no squashing of her dream.

We’ve driven past the Fairgrounds twice today already.  (The first drive-by granted us the memorable experience of witnessing two Carnies beating each other up with pipes in the parking lot.)  Junebug and Monkeyboy will not settle down for their naps.

Oh, I hope this girl wins a ribbon…

*  Bluebird has also been offering me sage advice in the attempt of keeping my hopes diminished as well, with such gems as “I bet you MIGHT win third place with that one,” and, in response to my statement that I did not know how many ribbons I would win because I knew who I was going up against and they were very good:  “Yeah, especially if you’re going up against Kit!  She knits waaaaaay prettier stuff than you!”

Penguin’s First Knit!

She’s done it!  The first Brookelet to begin and complete a knitted project!  She’s been working away on it diligently while listening to read alouds, and while we’re driving in the car.  It’s supposed to be a hat for Monkeyboy; but, figuring she’d be a loose knitter like Bluebird, I miscalculated how many stitches she’d need because she’s turned out to be an extremely tight knitter.  (It’s now a Christmas present for a soon-to-arrive baby in the extended family–sssshhhh, don’t tell!)

The yarn is that Lion Brand Hometown…something, in colors…something green and something red.

She’s going to enter it into the Utah County Fair tomorrow, and she has big dreams for winning first place, even though first place does not come with a trophy…or a green ribbon.  She’ll settle for blue.

Her next project?  I’m thinking she’s going to take the plunge and try out a Knitted Monster.  I’ve had the pattern book for ages now, and she and her sisters actually read it as a bedtime story.  They pine for knitted monsters of their very own.

Good job, Penguin!  You’re a knitting rock star!

Such a peach

Peaches were on sale for seventy-nine cents a pound on Monday, so I bought about ten pounds.  They were a little on the hard side, so I put them into a big paper grocery sack.  Tuesday found us stomping about the zoo, and Wednesday saw us vegging out due to a bad night’s sleep thanks to numerous Brookelets who would not leave me alone during the night.

I woke up today (late again, due to another night of bed-phobic Brookelets) and remembered that I had ten pounds of peaches sitting on the back counter and that I should go take a peek at them to see how the ripening process was coming along.  As I stepped near the bag, I could smell that beautiful ripe peach smell hanging in the air.  It was time to can ’em up.

Bluebird, my usual jam-making helper, had her piano lesson to get off to; so I asked Penguin if she wanted to help me out with making some peach butter.  She enthusiastically volunteered for the task, remarking that “I’m so glad that I’m six and can finally help make the jam!”  She skinned peaches, added the sugar and spices, and stirred until it started to spit.  Then she kept me company until it was all cooked up, jarred, and set into its water bath.

That’s one gallon (plus one half-pint) of peach butter!

We went big this year, and doubled our usual recipe so we could can up the peach butter in pint jars instead of half-pint jars (that little guy hiding in the middle back in the above picture).  A full batch of peach butter lasts about three weeks in Brooketopia, so I’m hoping this will be enough for 6-8 weeks.  The recipe is my usual, which I now read off of the blog because I’ve lost my paper copy.  (Yay Blog!)

Just look at the golden-spiced goodness.  It’s good on so many things–it’s a great sauce for various meats, a good base for any type of sweet sauce, and just good straight out of the jar on toast or pancakes…or a spoon.

When you walk into our house, you are greeted with the warm fragrance of peaches and spices, and you can hear the little plinkety-plinks of the lids popping.  Ah, the smells and sounds of late summer!

Yarn Along: Raspberry Ropes & No Idle Hands

The sunflowers are in bloom as the temperatures stay high, and I’m knitting away on a wool sweater for my Junebug.  I’ve picked up the stitches along the cabled “scarf” portion of the yoke, did the arm increases and now I’m just motoring away on the body.  That’s about 7.25 inches of body there, and I’m going to keep going until 9.5 inches or so, when I’ll start on 2 inches are ribbing.

I’m a little anxious over the yoke and its fit.  I was smart this time and added a few inches to the measurements so that there would be some “give” in the garment, but the cabled yoke on this may not have needed any such give.  We’ll see.  Don’t make fun of me if this ends up fitting Bluebird better than Junebug.  (It would get more wear that way…but then I’d have to turn right around and knit up another sweater to fit Junebug because that just would not be fair to the poor girl!)

The book this week is No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Knitting, which I’ve been working on since last summer.

I love this book, as it combines two of my favorite things:  history and knitting.  It starts off with the Colonial Era and guides you through American history via the knitting habits of the times.

I’ve made my way to the beginning of the Second World War, and all this reading about women rallying their domestic skills to support the troops just invokes a strange nostalgia in me.  I don’t want war–it’s the idea that a generally feminine vocation was needed during those times.  (Well, not as much by WWII, but definitely during earlier wars.)  Knitting has been all but relegated to the world of hobbies and amusement, and it used to hold such an important place in the daily lives of women.

It’s hard to explain the pull of wearing clothes you made yourself, or eating food that you grew in your backyard, or just fixing something without having to pay a professional to fix it for you.
Personal satisfaction with a job done well?
A feeling of success?
Whatever its name, I like to do things myself, and I find myself yearning for a time when people truly understood the significance of knitting sweaters for your children, instead of quipping, “You know you could buy that at Wal-Mart for way less, right?”  A time when everything wasn’t going so fast and you could attend quilting bees with your friends and talk to your neighbor over the back fence before heading in to fix dinner.  I love having a washer and dryer, and a dishwasher and all those modern-day conveniences; but I sometimes wonder…
Maybe Little House in the Big Woods is a dangerous book for young children to read, as it fills their heads with the idea of personal industry and self-reliance.  I am so interested in that lifestyle and I totally blame Laura Ingalls Wilder for planting the idea in my heart!

Regardless of which century I’m living in, I can always knit and it will make me happy.  I’m very excited about how this cardigan will turn out!  Who can resist such a happy tweed?  (Actually, that would be me.  It seems I’ve done a lot of knitting with very bright pink yarn in the past year.  I have a secret little hope that the girls will branch out in their color preferences over the next few years, despite pink being one of my favorite colors.  It’s a whole lot of pink.)

Reading about interesting times and knitting for a spunky little girl–there aren’t a whole lot of other ways to pass one’s time more pleasurably.

Join the Yarn Along at Small Things.

Yarn Along: Sugar Plums & Raspberry Ropes

This week I’ve been pre-reading At the Sign of The Sugared Plum by Mary Hooper, and I started knitting up a cabled-yoked cardigan for Junebug.

The book is about The Plague in London during 1665 and I couldn’t tell from the reviews whether or not it would be appropriate to include on our literature list for school.  Some reviewers have said that it’s too graphic for young children, others have said that it’s just fine and that it paints a vivid picture of seventeenth-century London and The Plague itself.  I can’t pass up such a possibility, so I ordered the book in order to form my own opinion:

I love it!

However, given that it’s written for the middle-school crowd, I read it with pencil in hand to mark passages that I will omit when I read it out loud to the girls.  I’m of the opinion that an eight year old and a five year old girl don’t need to hear about prostitutes, the king’s mistresses, or wallow in any romantic passages.  I will leave out seven different selections throughout the book.

There’s a sequel to the book, Petals in the Ashes, that deals with The Great Fire of London which happened in 1666.  I’m thinking of buying it as well.

The cardigan for Junebug has been long in coming.  I stitched up sweaters for both Bluebird and Penguin last year, and promised Junebug that I’d make hers when I was finished with theirs.  Here we are, a year later, and no sweater for Junebug.  While we were out Yarn Questing a few weeks ago, I told her that she could pick out any yarn she liked best and that I would make it into a sweater for her.  After many almost-choices, she chose this “Minnie Mouse yarn with rainbows in it” and has requested a cardigan with white buttons.  I’m adding the cables because I need a little something in the design to keep my interest.

See more books and yarn at Small Things.