Spinning Sunday & Marathon Monday

Yesterday was rainy and cold, so I worked on spinning up some of the Widdershin Woolworks fiber mom got me. I haven’t used the spinning wheel in ages. Not only was it dusty, but sometime this winter the cats chewed through the flywheel string. After 30 minutes of tying, tinkering, and swearing I had things going again…although it took longer to relearn the rhythm of the motions. The fiber is so pretty – like the color of river rocks – with a little sheen from the 50% silk.


IMG_4209I kept it single-ply with the idea that I’ll combine it with some repurposed oatmeal wool from an old LL Bean sweater and make a striped super cowl, like this:

(c) marittar

Today was Patriot’s Day, which is recognized in Boston by giving people the day off (yay!). It’s also the day of the Boston Marathon. I love watching races – track or road, sprint or distance – so getting to stand near mile 22 and watch the elite women’s and men’s packs go by was awesome.

The marathon draws a half million spectators, making it the biggest sporting event in Boston. We watched coverage of the first couple miles at my friend’s house, and then walked over to Boston College, where runners had just cleared “Heartbreak Hill” (which has a great story behind its name).

Boston Marathon 2011 near Boston College- Caroline Kilel (far left) is on her way to win it

Lead pack of female runners - Caroline Kilel from Kenya (far left) goes on to win

Boston Marathon 2011 near Boston College- Desiree Davila (far right) is on her way to 2nd place

Desiree Davila (far right) from USA wins 2nd


Knitting Friend Blind Date

Sunday morning sunshine

When I wrote this spring about grownup friend-making in a new city, more than one person vouched for using sites like ravelry and meetup to make online friends who become in-person friends. I trust you guys, so I gave it a try.

This morning a ravelry neighbor and I met at the local Starbucks. It was like a blind date for a knitting friend hahaha. We both have small dogs with questionable taste in food, both moved to the area within the last year, and both spent time in Kenya (her for two years with Peace Corps and me for two weeks with a geography professor, so…I’m sure you can guess which one of us knows Swahili). But yeah, it was a lot of fun!

I learned where the best local Thai restaurants are, why sockyarn might be a better choice than laceweight for the Featherweight Cardigan, where to order dye-able yarn in bulk, and was inspired to finally give this stretchy interlock bindoff method a try.

Egg-dyeing season

It’s getting to be that time. Egg-dyeing and egg-decorating tutorials are popping up on my blogroll. This morning I got an email from a friend who tried the silk necktie dyeing method that I posted on last year. She wrote, “I followed your advice about not worrying if the ties were ugly, and the one with the most pronounced (pretty) diamond pattern was UGLY.”

Three cheers for the ugly ties of the world!!!

Eggs dyed with silk neckties

Last years egg-dyeing efforts

Next I’d like to try some  Natural dye recipes, maybe in conjunction with ferns, flowers, and leaves.

Or, in classic Martha Stewart fashion, there’s this incredibly time consuming yet incredibly impressive method for making eggs that crack open to reveal ganache-filled chocolate. The tutorial from Not Martha is even better.

Grand opening of the balcony garden experiment

Until this past weekend, our 2nd story balcony had a very short and pitiful resume:

– place where I take self-portraits of finished knitwear

– place where I stand to shake out the floor rugs

– place where the cats crouch to spy on birds and neighbors

Edith at the windowsill

It takes a couple oblivious sparrows for Edith to venture beyond the windowsill

My new plan to give the balcony self-confidence and purpose is to turn it into a container garden. It faces west, so there’s a ton of sunlight, and I found a stack of abandoned pots in the basement to get us started. On Saturday we went to Mahoney’s Garden Center and stocked up on soil, seeds, and a fabric Smart Pot that looked very intriguing (it’s behind Read in the photo below).

Container gardening: phase one!

(front-back) Lettuce, Arugula, Peas, Collards, Peas, Read, Carrots & Radishes

Our big puzzle is going to be watering. I’m either going to rig up some sort of pulley system for the hose in the yard, or run a piece of tubing from the bathroom sink. I dunno…we’ve gotta do something. Read claims he didn’t mind watering it with bowl after bowl of water but that doesn’t seem like something I want to do all summer while he’s in Mexico.

In launching the balcony garden experiment, I’ve found a lot of tips, ideas, and inspiration on a blog called Life on the Balcony. The blog’s related Flickr group is also fun. Based on my lunchtime meanderings there, here’s what I’m planning for “Phase 2”:

– Find and revamp discarded junk (like this old metal BBQ) into more cheap planters

Plant potatoes in a trashcan

Plant strawberries and cucumbers vertically using old wooden pallets

Oregon radishes circa 2008

If all goes well, or even mediocre, hopefully I’ll have photos of Boston-balcony-garden-edibles in a couple months. What are you planting this time of year? If you have any tips for container growing, please share!

the big TWO NINE

Last week was my 29th birthday. My mom and dad like to call first thing in the morning, which is very sweet. Mom always sings the entire happy birthday song to me, then passes the phone to dad so he can ask “so…do you feel older?

“Uhhh..(pause)…I guess so.”

Jonathan and me with our Easter tree, circa 1986

My dad likes to play on people’s apprehensions about the passage of time. As kids he used to ask us in July: “so how does it feel now that summer’s more than half over?” and then chuckle as we panicked about all the fun we had to cram in before school started.

With all of the changes last year brought I definitely felt the year go by. There were some sad parts to adjusting to a new place, but overall the last 365 days were pretty awesome. As for feeling older-in-an-aging-way, Boston traffic has not let me forget that my motion-sickness only seems to worsen the farther I get from childhood, and there are a few suspicious lines on my face that weren’t there several years ago. Also, I feel older when I have to tell people that Sam is 11. It’s hard to believe that he found me almost 7 years, 3 states, and 5 apartments ago.

Well…here’s to twenty-nine and all that last year brought me. And here’s how I celebrated:

new haircut

I got my hair cut (sorry this is a lil blurry, but it shows the back). Not exactly in honor of my birthday, just coincidentally around the same time.

new haircut

I let Carlo at Salon Cu (he is great btw) have full creative freedom. He made it kinda punk in a 29-year-old-way. I like it!

My birthday card from Taiwan

All the little messages of love from family and friends have gotta be the best part of birthdays. This little card came from Taiwan, and its sender writes the greatest notes


On birthday morning we walked to Sofra cafe down the street (I'm a big fan of morning birthday celebrations)


We ordered turkish coffee, a sweet rhubarb foccacia, and something called "morning bun" which was lemony and very delicious.


Read put a piece of "morning bun" on top of the camera, then deemed this "one of top Sam portraits ever". I guess now we know how Sam's food feels


Mom and dad sent merino/silk roving from Widdershin Woolworks. Just the excuse I needed to dust off the spinning wheel.

And to top it off this morning, a spring start on our balcony garden experiment. More on that later!

Osoberry: the free foxflat-illustrated purse pattern

Thank you friends for all of your (fun and unpretentious) name suggestions! I’m going to give the award to Sandra, landscape architect extraordinaire and former roomie, who suggested “Osoberry”. Sandra, I’m sitting here with Samson and we’re commiserating about how much we miss you. He even confesses to missing Rider…

Sandra and Rider

So, back to this bag and its new name. Osoberry, also called “Indian Plum,” is native to the Pacific Northwest and it’s one of the first plants to flower in early spring. Yeah!! What a positive namesake. And appropriate. For some reason the bag feels very Pacific-Northwesty…maybe because most Boston ladies I know carry nice leather handbags. I’ve considered assimilating, but with my track record of busted pens and spilled hair oil, investing in a pricey handbag seems ill-advised.

Osoberry, also called Indian Plum; Syn. Nuttallia cerasiformis (c) J.G. in S.F.

I had in mind a tall fold-over shape, but wasn’t sure how to construct the bottom until I saw the $4 reusable bags in the checkout aisle of Market Basket in Somerville (best grocery store ever, by the way). The body of the Market Basket bags is made from one piece, which just needed a little height to reach the fold-over shape I was envisioning. I added a reinforced bottom that doubles as a set of exterior pockets, and replaced the double handles with one long shoulder strap.

Osoberry bag- folded over

Unfolded, it can fit a lot...lunch, a knitting project, some books...

The blue fabric is from IKEA, and the orange and purple are dissected thriftstore pants. I used light blue thread for some fun contrast. Last week someone asked where I bought it, which as all knitters and sewers know, translates as “that doesn’t immediately strike me as homemade.”  Exccccellent…

bag closeup

Osoberry bag closeup. Blue IKEA fabric plus two pairs of thrifted pants

Inspired by an  Enchanted Broccoli Forest cookbook that I bought at a used book sale this fall, I wrote out the pattern by hand. So if you’re in need of a new bag, a one-day project, and a way to use up some mismatched fabric, click here for the very special foxflat-illustrated Osoberry Bag Pattern. Happy Spring!


My birthday present from Read is peeking out of the upper right-hand corner. No more sharing a laptop with a grad student in residence! yay!!