atwitter: march

March 5, 2010

Things have been so dang thinky on this blog lately. I really owe you my chapter-a-month challenge post, but I’m ready for some fluff. Photos! Knitting! Sugary stuff to eat!

I haven’t done one of these atwitter posts in a while. Here’s what has me all worked up these days.

Knitting. Looky! Even though I haven’t posted here, I’ve been knitting. Hats!

matilda, take 2

This one (ravelry link) is my favorite, ’cause I can pretend it’s the 1930’s and it doesn’t smash my (already plenty flat) hair.

(updated the photo: I felted the hat a bit because it was too big. This photo is post-felting.)

my selbu modern

This was my first foray into colorwork. Isn’t it a pretty pattern? I’m a continental knitter, and was hell-bent on learning how to hold both yarns in the left hand. I kept fiddling with ways of stranding the yarn across my fingers and finally figured a way that worked for me. Having both yarns on the same hand made my tension even, I think.

I also knit a pair of super-wooly socks for Chris to wear around the house, but he won’t hold still long enough more me to get a photo. Now I’m swatching for Ysolda’s coraline

The girls are back in action! Here in northern California, my plum tree is blooming, the rosemary is draped in blue and my bees are busy. I opened up the hive over the weekend and found lots of capped honey, and saw Queen Bee-atrice strutting around some glossy white larval bees.

see queen bee-atrice?

Can you see her in the photo, the longer one towards the middle? Yippee! I think we’ll get honey this year!

new blogs: Danielsaurus is fascinating. Here’s a description from the sidebar: “Daniel’s been hardwired to the Internet since he was twelve and spends a lot of time on it finding nifty things to share. Mostly he writes about children, play, kids’ cultures, and the ‘bigger picture’ of childhood in society.” It’s a constant flow of thought-provoking links and wonderings.

Making marmalade. Last summer, stefeneener and denise gave a jam workshop that finally got me past my irrational fears of canning, and at Christmas my parents gifted me with some fine equipment. 

making marmalade

Our satsuma mandarin tree went bonkers with fruit this winter, so satsuma-vanilla bean marmalade was my first canning attempt. Fabulous recipe! It turned out so tasty that I have a big bowl of our last satsumas, ready to make a third batch. Favorite snack: this marmalade with almond butter on Swedish crispbread. Snarf.

New books. I’m still meaning to write a post on Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind, giddy as I am about the ideas in that book. I also read his newer book, Drive, about motivation. It’s also a fascinating book, all about how intrinsic motivation is much more powerful than external motivators, but this one didn’t knock my hand-knit socks off as much as the other book. Because, of course, as a homeschooling parent, I see the power of internal motivation in action every single day. I’ve learned the hard way, as many homeschooling parents do, that my attempts at motivating my kids have not a fraction of the power that their own internal fires do. So the ideas here weren’t new to me, but if you have any doubts about the potential of internal drive and want scientific back-up, or if you want hints for becoming a more internally-driven person, it’s a good read. And, in the section on kids and education, Pink gives a nod to unschooling! Pink’s TED talk on the topic is compelling–it gives you a sense of what the book is like.

And has anyone read 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do)? I haven’t, but am intrigued. Lots of interesting stuff from the author, Gever Tulley, at tinkering school.

So, what has you all atwitter right now?

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristin March 5, 2010 at 10:38 am

Lookin’ good, lookin’ good o’er at the Wonderfarm. Great photo of your queen. I think you’ve convinced me to replace that unknown citrus tree in our lot with a satsuma mandarin. Yours looks very happy.

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patricia March 5, 2010 at 4:07 pm

Satsumas seem to do well in this climate. Ours is against a yellow, south-facing stucco wall, so that probably gives it a little extra heat. The oranges are tasty and kid-friendly too, with those peels that come right off.

Begone, untasty unidentified citrus!

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Angela March 5, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Your knitting is pretty and all, but I’m still stumbling over this sentence:

“Here in northern California, my plum tree is blooming, the rosemary is draped in blue and my bees are busy.”

I’m beyond jealous. We had more #@*$ing flurries this morning. Not enough to cause any trouble, but enough to make me curse. Again. I long for blooming trees and busy bees.

I may come back often just to look at the picture of the bees. Oh, and your truly lovely knitting, of course. (-: Much impressed.

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patricia March 5, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Yes, we’re pretty lucky here with the weather. Although it would be nice to get snow sometimes. It never feels like it’s really winter here. Following blogs is nice, though; when I see snow out there in blogland, I get to have a vicarious snowy winter. I feel like I’m more in tune with the seasons, even if I’m not experiencing the dramatic changes firsthand.

And we get plenty of rain.

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melissa s. March 5, 2010 at 5:55 pm

The hat is amazing! And the bees! And Jam! Just beautiful.

Garden planning over here, I’ve got seeds on the brain. And possibly some chickens in our near future. I’m not as atwittered over the chickening as the coop planning, though (curtains!!)

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melissa s. March 5, 2010 at 5:57 pm

Ooh also, my parents brought up some tangerines from their backyard tree and I’m swooning. I’m eyeing that recipe…

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patricia March 5, 2010 at 6:34 pm

It’s a great recipe! Just know that an overnight soaking is involved.

And curtains on your coop? No way. You need to start blogging again, so we can see!

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melissa s. March 5, 2010 at 7:00 pm

The dust is beginning to clear after our first year of (truly) homeschooling, so I’m hoping to get back to blogging, crafting…etc!

So did you process the jars in a hot water bath to can them? I’ve never done marmalade so I’m wondering how long they need to “bathe.”

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patricia March 5, 2010 at 7:12 pm

I just did a 15-minute water bath, which is what most of my recipes seem to recommend for marmalade.

I’ll look forward to your blog revival!

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stefaneener March 6, 2010 at 7:41 pm

Ha! I was eyeing Coraline for some new yarn. . . but I have another idea too. Pretty picture of the queen. I’m planning a hive foray tomorrow, so maybe. A kid says they’re going to help, but we’ll see. If she does, then pictures.

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patricia March 8, 2010 at 8:05 am

Oh, knit Coraline! Then we can race each other and maybe we’ll both get a sweater done faster than our usual sluggish rate.

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Just Peaches March 9, 2010 at 8:19 am

What has me atwitter? A friend of mine gave me a lovely little package for Christmas. It was a ball of sock yarn, some bamboo needles and a package of lupine seeds from Cape Breton. Now I’m a self taught knitter and there is no bloomin’ way I would ever presumed that I could knit a sock. But guess what!? I turned a heel and the sock actually fits. And to top it off? Those lupine seeds are starting to sprout! Its nice to have someone believe in you.

You might not realize it Patricia, but like my little Christmas package your blog and your comments to your readers are both inspiring and encouraging. Marmalade? hmmm

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patricia March 9, 2010 at 8:52 am

Good for you on the socks! There’s nothing to make you feel accomplished like successfully turning your first sock heel. What a great little story about your Christmas package.

And see, you’re inspiring and encouraging me right back. Thank you.

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Barrie March 10, 2010 at 5:44 pm

OK, this is great–you may have managed to finally convince me to can my own marmalade. Last year I bought way too many kumquats at the farmer’s market to discover that I didn’t really like popping them in my mouth as a snack like I’d expected. I thus resolved to make them into marmalade when I found a great recipe that only used honey as the sweetener, but then I lost my nerve (or my momentum) and those kumquats sadly languished away into a science experiment before the winter was out.

Now, we have moved to a house that just so happens to have a tree bearing some sort of small orangey thingy, and they may very well be tangerines. Should I take the plunge? Do you think I can replace the sugar with Rapadura (basically just unrefined sugar)? I think I read somewhere that acidic fruits like oranges and other citrus are safe enough to can using just a heat bath and not pressure, because the acid keeps bacteria activity low.

That tangerine vanilla flavor just sounds amazing . . . I have been making crepes with my leftover sourdough starter and this sounds like just the thing to use for sweet crepes (not fermented long enough to get sour).

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Barrie March 10, 2010 at 5:48 pm

Oh, and I’m so excited for you to get honey soon! The queen is beautiful, and your hats are lovely. Finally turning a sock heel is a great feeling, isn’t it? Now I’m going crazy and using short-row shaping for all kinds of other free-form projects.

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patricia March 10, 2010 at 11:47 pm

I do know it’s fine to can marmalade with just a water bath, but I don’t know about Rapadura. I’ve never tried preserving with it.

Anyone else know?

Regardless, you should definitely try making some marmalade with your small orangey thingies. But maybe you should taste them first. 🙂

You’re making crepes and free-form knitted projects: sounds like you’re settling in. Hooray!

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gever March 12, 2010 at 8:31 am

I’ve read “Fifty Dangerous Things (you should let your children do)” and I think it’s some of my best work! 🙂

Your mention of the book title caused your wonderful blog to pop up on a Google Alert for me – what a treat to read some of your back-postings.

So, here’s my take on the book (I think it was Jack Kerouac who said “Don’t ask me, I only wrote the damn thing.”) For a Maker of Things, such as your self, the book is primarily a validation of what you already know about the value of hands-on learning, but for those who do not share your proclivity, it is a guidebook of sorts – an encouragement to help a child experience the world with both hands and mind, to foster curiosity. For the adventurous child who enjoys a free-range life, it is a source-book of new ideas, and for the over-protected child it is a call to action, and in all cases it is a positive context for the parent and child to have a rational discussion about recognizing and mitigating risk.

All the best,
-gever

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patricia March 12, 2010 at 3:57 pm

Well, if you can’t properly recommend a book, there’s nothing like having the author show up on your blog to do it right. Thanks so much, Gever!

And I love being referred to as a Maker of Things.

I’ve already called my local bookstore to order the book. A good number of my readers are homeschooled parents like myself with kids who–as you say–enjoy “a free-range life”. I think they’d love the ideas here, and I look forward to sharing some adventures with them. I can’t wait to take my eight-year-old driving!

Best of luck with the book and with your camp. And thanks so much for taking the time to say hello.

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Denise | Chez Danisse May 13, 2010 at 9:40 am

I saw your mention of E.B. White’s essay “Afternoon of an American Boy” on Orangette. I read the essay and really enjoyed it. As a woman, it is easy to forget how difficult it is for a young man to enter the world of dating. Oh, the anxiety. So here I am, popping over to see who made the mention. Hello. I love your hats! I haven’t done any color work as you’ve done in your 2nd hat image, but this might have to change. Yours looks fabulous!

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patricia May 14, 2010 at 8:49 am

So glad you popped over, Denise!

And really glad that you read White’s essay. I’m an unabashed E.B. White fan. I wrote about him last year, when I spent a year studying favorite essayists.
http://patriciazaballos.com/2009/08/14/july-notes-on-eb-white/

And if you’re intrigued by colorwork, I highly recommend that hat pattern! http://www.kelbournewoolens.com/selbumodern.html
It’s free for one, and it’s a great introduction to colorwork. It was my first colorwork project; it was very doable and a whole lot of fun to knit.

Thanks again for saying hello!

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Denise | Chez Danisse May 16, 2010 at 2:36 pm

What an interesting project. I’ll have to take a look and see who else you studied.

The colorwork seems a little intimidating to me, but I’ll give it a try, eventually.

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