We Survived 2020!

See description below for information on photo collage.

We survived 2020 Photo Collage (from left to right).

  • We bought a house: photo shows a white house with black shutters and a green tree in front.
  • This photo shows the two of us hiking Black Mountain on a sunny fall day.
  • This is one of our favorites of Loche (our dog, a basset-black lab mix), passing out under a tree for an afternoon nap after a morning of activity.
  • Our house needs a lot of fixing, in this photo we dawn respirators before sanding fresh joint compound.
  • The final photo, this photo shows the two of us in a car, hair blowing with the windows down. Smiling as we drive to look at a potential house.

Trying New Things: Foraging

Fiddleheads

I’m in the woods hiking a lot, and when I’m not in the woods I’m looking forward to the next time that I am. In my mind, and encouraged by my partner, I’m some kind of wood elf. Light on my feet and looking for adventure, cheerfully gathering fiddle-heads in the spring. Naturally, when a local permaculture farm decided to offer a class on foraging, I dawned my mask and eagerly stood in the parking lot waiting for the class to start.

Let me pause for a second and mention my expectations for the course. In my mind, my friend and I would be doing a lot of walking and chit-chatting as we walked from plant to plant. In my mind we would probably learn about 5 plants in the three hour class and I would be able to take my new skills with my hiking. I was wrong, but that’s ok!

Pineapple Weed

For starters, there was not a lot of walking around because there were so many edible plants all around us. We started in the parking lot with Pineappleweed. While you could make the argument that those little flowers looks like the bottom of a pineapple, they’re actually named after the fruit because of the aroma released when you pinch them and the taste that you get when you use them to make tea. This one seems easy enough, just a matter of paying attention to the parking lots (or gravely places) that I’m in.

Not even two steps brought us to our next delicious find: the shagbark hickory nut. This one I have to remember because I think it could be fun to use in homemade basil.

Groundnut

Without even moving we discussed black walnuts and the three steps took us to groundnuts. Groundnuts grow along riverbeds, which means I’ll be keeping an eye out for them the next time I take Loche for a walk. You have to wait until the weather starts turning, the dig them up to access their roots. From there, you’ll notice what look like little tiny potatoes and you can cook them just like potatoes!

Mind you, all of these plants were in the first 10 minutes of a three hour class. We learned about marshmallow flower (they used to use their roots to make marshmallows!), sweet goldenrod (smells like licorice), Autumn Olive (they’re invasive, but I think the fruit tastes really good. Is it bad that I want a bush of my own in my back yard?), Elderberries, June-berries, crab-apples, rose hip, wild strawberries, dame’s rocket, day lillys, hazelnut, milkweed, wild asparagus and a many others that I could recognize and point them out but can’t remember their names. One of them even has blue seeds! This class was PACKED with information, which was both awesome and crazy.

So what did I take away from this class? Foraging is a hobby in itself and you don’t really casually do it. It seems to be an event that takes place purposefully rather than one that is done as you’re walking through the woods (but I did try to keep an eye out during my next hike). It was a lot of fun and probably something I’m going to enjoy reading about.

on Rediscovering Letter Sending

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We proudly hike remote trails, and love the fact that we can finally drive to them with the windows down

I’m very lucky, I live surrounded by mountains, lakes and rivers. On top of this, most of the activities that I enjoy doing take place while enjoying those natural beauties. What I’m trying to say is, not only are my partner and I healthy, we’re still able to do the things we love within the restrictions from COVID-19.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of things that we miss doing. By a lot of things, I’m really only referring to the numerous thrift shops that I enjoy hunting through and the family that is now harder to see. It sucks that my sister is about to have a daughter and there are additional pressures that come with being a new parent. It also blows that I may not be able to meet her for a while. But again, we’re all healthy, so am I really in a position to complain?

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On the positive end of the spectrum, my friends and I have rediscovered sending messages to each other via “snail mail”. It’s been fun sitting down and writing out stationary that I’ve been hoarding since middle school. In her last letter, my friend asked me to knit her a teapot cozy. I used the pattern Cinnamon Brioche by Elizabeth Sullivan and some leftover Alegria, which 100% reminds me of Batwoman. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of how it came out… but I’m more proud of the letter I’m sending with it.

Hello! It has come to my attention that you require my Tea Genie magic to keep your pot cozy. I promise, you ain’t never had a friend like me.

You don’t understand, by day, I walk the streets like the classy lady that I am. Shaking my red hair, rocking a black tank and winking at all the ladies. By night, I’m a tea vigilante. Swooping in to save heat and providing maximum relaxation. (Seriously though, flip me inside out to the colors you’re in the mood for. I don’t mind).

You should also know that I come with a special utility belt so that I can hug my pot better. Just slip the buttons through the loose edge and I’m not going anywhere (My other side will hold onto the spout. I’m a professional after all).

It’s been so long since I have sent something other than a thank you letter or holiday card through the mail (ok it’s only been five years). Don’t get me wrong, I’m the girl who sent her boyfriends handwritten letters when we were long distance, even when an email would have been faster. You can’t help but feel a little more loved when a letter comes in for you, there are more steps in the way of sending them. What I’m trying to say is, I’m not sure why I fell out of practice, but I’m going to make an effort to send at least a post card when this is all over. After all, I can’t be the only one who’s tired of getting only bills in the mail.

On going off the beaten path

94404582_725926194612925_8566214286488109056_nIt’s that time of year, there’s mud everywhere and people are remembering that it’s nice to go outside. For those of us who hike through the winter, this means getting up a little earlier to beat crowds to trails and having a backup plan in case everyone wants to hike the same trail you do. COVID-19 seems to have caused an increase in the number of people looking to get out. This is awesome and we’re excited to see so many people enjoying nature, minus the few people we’ve run into that don’t respect the trail (Don’t light fires in the middle of the brush! There’s a lot that can burn right now! Also, please clean up your trash.).

With everyone looking to hike, we’ve taken to seeking out trails that require all-wheel drive and some grit to get to or generally harder trails. We actually drove up to one mountain, only to turn around and attempt to access it from another side! It would have been an amazing story if we had been able to locate the trail and walk on more than an old logging road. Not that I’m complaining, it was absolutely gorgeous back there.

img_20200422_113123It seems as though our hiking habits have leaked into my knitting again; I’m currently working on another Flax Light by TinCanKnits and couldn’t help but deviate from the suggested “fingering” weight that the pattern calls for. For all of the sweater’s ribbing, the plan is to hold a skein of Rohrspatz & Wollmeise Lace-Garn that’s been sitting in my stash double. For the rest of the sweater, I’m holding the Lace-Garn with Stacy Charles Fine Yarns Luna Effects. The result is this fuzzy (and a little tacky) sweater that makes me feel like I belong on the original set of Full House. I can’t help but get excited as I set the sleeves aside and begin to take on the body, good thing I live in the mountains and might get to wear it on a cool summer night.

The crazier undertaking has been converting Azalea from a thin strap tank-top into a short-sleeved sweater. The body of the tank is simple enough, minus some cool lace at the bottom, and knits up relatively quickly. Once those pieces are knit, you’re supposed to pick up stitches and knit 3 rows or so to make straps. In other words, once you’ve knit the body it shouldn’t take much longer to complete the project. But I’m a knitter and what’s the point of knitting something if you can’t make it what you really want?

Using the yarn I bought in Spain, I enthusiastically knit the front and back pieces. Then I took a deep breath, picked up the side stitches and knit sleeve caps. Sleeve caps are really cool! I’ve never done them this way before, but I knit a different sweater that has you seam them on at the end and really like the way it makes the sweater fit. After knitting the sleeves, I seamed the sides and tried it on with my fingers crossed.

00100lrportrait_00100_burst20200422085305802_cover-3It fit! The armholes weren’t too small and the lace bottom hung nicely despite my first attempt at the single crochet seaming technique. Then I looked up and noticed how low the neckline was. I cannot stress how deep the v on this v neck was.

The problem with knitting is that you begin to run out of ways to fix problems as the problems appear closer and closer to the end of your project. At this point, I wasn’t going to pick up stitches and work a few decrease rows to make the neck smaller because I wanted the seam to line up with the ribbing. So I held my breath and picked up the many stitches required to start the neckline ribbing… only to be excited when it worked!

Overall, I’m happy with the way this tank turned t-shirt turned out. There are a few things I would do differently – like lengthen the body and skip the 6 rows of stitching before starting the sleeve caps — but it was a great experiment!