shouldering on

nothing says summer like pie and with the advent of berry season—and fortunately, also biking prime season—it’s game on. on sunday i took a little time in the afternoon to bake one of my favorites—strawberry rhubarb.

i had more filling that i needed for the pie and a mess of ripening peaches as well, so i also baked a dish of fruit crisp with a jewel-tone filling. mmm. of course the two of us can’t eat two big plates of dessert in one week, so the pie went into the freezer for now. i’m sure we’ll be able to share it soon with friends.


slowly, slowly (or so it seems to me), i am approaching a completed illas cíes pullover in our hempshaugh fingering yarn, color buckwheat. because i am also trying to finish a surprise extra project to end our IMMERSION club, i am only allowing myself to work on the pullover as a treat at the very end of my day, late at night while we watch TV. haha, which means i often fall asleep over it.

but i managed to sew the sleeve caps into the armscyes over the last two nights and wanted to point out that if at first, your sleeve seams look like the one on the right there, it’s totally not you. it is completely normal for them to become quite distorted from the kind of handling they must take during the seaming process.


fortunately, there is a fix—ham to the rescue (see the left seam as proof!). a tailor’s ham, that is. you might have seen one of these in your grandma’s sewing room or you might even have one that you inherited somehow, but never knew what purpose it served. you might even know what it is and have used one before!


if not, you are missing out on one of the best aids for coercing your hand knits into a final, polished appearance.  let me now expound on the wonders of this magnificent tool. first, note the shape—it’s ham-like oblong form is comprised of every possible curve that might be used in a garment. it makes the perfect form for pressing and steaming curved seams or for molding wool into shapes that conform to the human body.


take that sleeve cap seam for instance; it’s a real mother to press, isn’t it, made up as it is from a series of opposing curves? if you get one part to lie flat than another part doesn’t and just when you think you’ve got it all right, you’ve gone and pressed in a nice crease where it’s supposed to tuck smoothly under the arm, unnoticed.

but with a tailor’s ham, you can lay that seam right over its form and steam in a smooth, crease-free final shape. nice. (for an even more in-depth discussion of the tailor’s ham and shoulder seams, see this post from 2012)


but look what a difference it makes to give that shoulder area the right treatment—WOW. so worth the effort (what tasks in fine finishing aren’t?).


when you consider that this seam is smack at eye level of whomever you might be taking to when you wear it, it is very worth investing in. we might not worry as much about dressing for success in our industry, but a little polish for any look goes a long way.

BTW, there are lots more terrific finishing tricks and tips in this DVD or this craftsy class. almost as good as having me there to harangue you in person.


with my shoulder seams complete, it was time to move on to seaming up the underarm and side seams. i worked on this at knit night this evening while chatting with barb (she is also currently knitting the same sweater, but in briar rose sea pearl for chris to use as a booth sample).

i got one side done and that leaves just one longish seam between me and a finished summer pullover. well, and a nice soak in a hot, soapy bath to make it über-soft and wearable. i am SO going to pack this for my trip to alaska in july, where i will be teaching on a knitting cruise.

i am so excited about this trip; i’ve never been to alaska, nor have i been on a cruise. i am doubly thrilled that our nephew amad, who will be visiting from switzerland in july, is going to join me on the trip. not only that, it will be his birthday week, so we plan to make the most of a wonderful chance to discover the unknown together. if you have some great alaska experiences or good advice to share, please leave a comment (i’m a little curious about what temperatures will be like).

another reason my knitting has been slow this week is that i’m getting used to incorporating the garden harvest into our daily routine.


we are currently dealing with an explosion of greens (much anticipated). this year we tried some new items—emiko cabbage, vitamin greens, mibuno greens, and kuniko greens. all delicious—i highly recommend them.


on monday, my friend mark came over to take some off my hands and while he was picking, i also hauled in a couple of big basketfulls.


half of them became this gorgeous stir fry with mushrooms, eggplant, carrots, and tofu. david cooked the other half this evening in his famous curry tofu pasta. (i know, but it is aMAZingly delicious, trust me).

and here’s the thing—we are not even nearly caught up; today i picked a HUGE bag for lillian to take home and asked the neighbors to please come and take some too. and still didn’t make a dent. i think i might have to start freezing some this weekend.

because even if i did feel a little caught up . . .

there’s a monster afoot right around the corner. it’s c-o-o-ming.