It's been raining almost daily for the past several weeks, and although the temperatures are in the mid-80s to mid-90s every day, it feels like it's still spring--which is nice, because I feel like calendar-spring disappeared way too quickly for my liking.
So, what have I been up to that's kept me away from blogging for so long?
In September, I got a new full-time job (no more freelance reporting/part-time contract work! Although, feel free to check out the Agritate label to read what I wrote on a blog I started to focus on science and journalism--I imported most of those posts into this blog, and will likely continue reading articles and writing about them here when I start blogging again. I mean, I've been saving dozens of them to review and write about in the past several months, I've just never gotten around to it.). My start date at the new job coincided with the culmination of DC State Fair 2012, a regional plant show I was participating in, and a book proposal I was putting together. A month and a half later, I got a car.
DC State Fair went off really well, despite a few glitches.
We got T-shirts last year! I'm here with chef Alli Sosna, who judged several of the vegetable and fruit contests.
I won a blue ribbon in the Novice class at the plant show.
My Gloxinella lindeniana won me a blue ribbon at the first-ever Mid-Atlantic Regional Gesneriad Show, Sale, and Symposium.
I was also offered a contract for the book proposal, but realized all the time I currently don't have and decided to turn it down (I don't have a picture for that).
The car is great for weekend errands--but it also opens up a lot more possibility for weekend travel, to visit nearby family or just to get out of the city for a while. That takes a surprising chunk of time when we do get out and about.
My beau shot this photo, our first of the car, because our first-ever load was a bale of hay to use as mulch in the garden plot.
I've made my goal for 2013 to cut back on volunteering and other projects by the end of the year. That means I'm working to hand off DC State Fair to new leaders, refraining from taking on more leadership roles, and in general focusing on my own hobbies and life. It's been nice, but almost more difficult than volunteering all the time was!
Since making that my resolution over the winter, I've filled my time with new hobbies for some reason. I learned how to spin yarn, on supported spindles, drop spindles, and a wheel. You may have read about the yarn I made from my cotton and the silkworms I raised. But it's not like I stopped there.
I've purchased and washed three raw fleeces. This is the first, from a Finnsheep named Beatrice, laying out to dry after washing.
I've spun what I consider to be a lot of yarn. This, for example, is 465 yards of merino/yak 50/50 dyed in "Tuscan Sunset" colours--yellow-oranges, pink, purple, and red. It was a random-contest freebie, and a beautiful yarn. So beautiful, I had to knit a shawl with it (because what else do you do with such fine yarn?).
From start to finish, this took me two weeks. I am addicted to knitting lace, now.
I've tried my hand at dyeing fiber myself (and learned a hell of a lot from that one botched job--one of the lessons being that even botched jobs can be beautiful when spun).
This is the start of spinning of my hand-dyed fiber. The colours are less muted than I thought they would be based on my inexperienced dyeing and the white patches that show through everywhere. It'll certainly be an interesting yarn when I'm through!
I participated in the Textile Museum's Celebration of Textiles in the spinners' area, where I helped kids learn how to spin with supported spindles and drop spindles. Plus, I got a few yards of cotton spun up on my tahkli!
But it's not like fiber arts have been the only thing I've been up to. I'm still all plant-oriented, too.
I started a cotton trial plot at Wangari Gardens this year, to measure the fiber staple length of the 7 varieties stocked by Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. This photo is from a few weeks ago, when the cotton first germinated.
I've been struggling to keep up with my community garden plot, where weeds dominate and my Concord grapes are fruiting.
I went to several plant swaps this year.
I've been to Al's Orchid Greenhouse a bunch of times, helping to spread epiphytic and other gesneriads throughout. This is a unifoliate Streptocarpus growing in moss on a cinderblock that holds up a display surface.
I've been busy. It's been a fun several months, but I feel like my blogging should be closer to the front burner than it is. (Right now, it feels more like it's cooled off and stuck in the fridge, not even on the back burner!) I keep delaying blogging because I no longer have time during my commute (I like to knit, and when I'm not knitting, I'm driving because I have to move the car for weekly street sweeping) and I want to revamp the look and feel of the blog. So it just sits here, languishing. But I'm making more of an effort to plan and write; for example, I kept telling myself I wanted to feature each and every one of the above in their own blog posts, as well as other events and topics. But let's be honest--I'll never find time to do all of it the way I want it to be, so snippets it is, and now I can move forward!