one ton tomata

We've been gone a week, and even though we asked our neighbors to help themselves to the veggies, we came home to an estimated 80-90 pounds of tomatoes to harvest.  This picture was taken after we had already given some away!  We sliced some for eating on the spot, made tomato sauce and handed out the rest.  We are at the peak now, but we'll be easily harvesting 50 pounds a week through August before it tapers off.

Yesterday I took a bucket full to church to set out, they were gone in record time.  The Fellowship Committee takes turns serving a light lunch to the congregation after the last service.  People bring in their excess backyard produce to share.  Lemons, apricots, peaches, cucumbers and tomatoes are highly sought after!

The tomatoes here are all heirloom varieties and are grown completely organic.  We start them from seed in January in a greenhouse my husband and son built 20 years ago.  This year I was timid to start the seeds because of our drought.   In the spring we bought nursery center plants when we heard rationing was not going to be as restrictive as we had feared.  We are growing half as many plants as we did last year and are able to cut down on our water consumption quite a bit.  We have a good sized sunny plot in our back yard that we have designated as our vegetable garden.   We both have a lot of time and love to putter in the garden tending the flowers and the vegetables, but the tomatoes have really become my husband's domain.  He takes great pride in choosing the seed varieties but let's me get them started.  Once they are ready for planting outdoors he takes over.  He will spend at least an hour a day with them, but once the tomatoes are harvested he leaves the rest to me.  We are happy with sliced tomatoes and salt, but there's always sauce to be made.

If you've never made homemade tomato sauce, my recipe will leave you swooning.  And it's by far the easiest way to make it, and I know, I've tried dozens of ways.  Here's the recipe:  Homemade Roasted Tomato Sauce.

Clockwise from top left, Kellogg's Breakfast, Black Krim, Old German, Pink Brandywine.  This platter is enormous and the slices from 4 tomatoes barely fit!  The largest slices are 7" across.

We are growing two cherry tomatoes this year, the tiny and sweet Sun Gold, also Black Cherry.

See my greenhouse at the end? I love it.

This beaut is a Giant Belgium.

We ended up with 9 quarts of the best flavored tomato sauce.  My husband sat and ate a bowl of it as I was making it.

Here are a few tomatoes we won't be without:

We are crazy over the enormous orange Kellogg's Breakfast.
Our favorite black heirloom is Black Krim.
We wouldn't dream of not planting the super large Brandywine.
For beauty and flavor grow Old German.
The gigantic Giant Belgium.

When I was a girl there was a song, Guantanamera by Jose Feliciano.  We had no idea what he was saying let alone what it meant, but we all had different guesses.  One gf thought he was saying "one ton of metal", another thought it was "Juan won the medal", but I always thought it was "one ton tomata", so that's what I titled this post.   It's just one of the hundreds of times in my life when I screw up song lyrics.  I'm (almost) too embarrassed to tell you what I thought Pumped Up Kicks was about.  I loved the song and sang along merrily, even whistled, thinking it was a happy song about a family having a picnic. I told my son it reminded me of all the fun family picnics we had when he was little, and he was all, "ummm, mom, nooooo!"  Oops. Turns out the lyrics are not about happy picnikers. Still I sing it when I hear it, but I use MY lyrics.  Mine are much nicer.



There's a new fall yarn called Rowan Finest, a fingering weight blend of extra fine merino wool, baby alpaca and cashmere.  I knit a sample square and loved it; an incredibly nice hand with substance.  The fabric is super soft with a cloud-like weightless feeling, but with stability.  It's hard to explain, but does live up to it's name.  If fingering weight scares you but you've always wanted to give it a go, this would be a good one to try.  And for those, like me, who love tiny needles and fingering weight yarn, you will be crazy over this.  You should start to see this in the shops any day, so go give it a good squeeze.

The supporting pattern book from Sarah Hatton got me thinking of a 60s apres ski party.  Very cool, very retro, and quite elegant.  I'm thinking Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn would approve.  I tried on a few samples at the mill and promptly enlarged my wish list to include the yarn to make two.  For now.  Here are a few of my favorites.

I've ordered the yarn in red for Kay.  Side details, nice shape.  Mad for it.
And the skirt, mad for that too!  And while I'm at it I also love the shoes.
 It would never occur to me to wear that ensemble together,
but it's beautiful, isn't it?  Well, it helps if you are a 22 year old model.

I tried on Evalyn at the mill.  I adore houndstooth and it was gorgeous in black and brown.

Greta, a simple and lovely shortie sweater.

I like demure Lillian.

If only the model were a teensy bit more gorgeous, right?  Um, anyway, gloves and hat would be finest!

Very cool Velma.  Audrey Hepburn would def be wearing this at her apres ski party.

Gloria.  Ordered the yarn for this one too.  See the fair isle?  It's not.  Sarah calls it cheater's fair isle using slipped stitches and some other little tricks.  We all tried this on at the mill.  It's so so pretty and several of us are making it.
Here 'tis. Go to Jannette's  to check out the colors.  She is offering free delivery on Finest.  Nice!


our last he knits/she knits KAL

This is Konrad's and my third knitalong where we both knit the same sweater.  Last season most of the sweaters were for women, well, this is always the case, but I noticed fewer than ever sweaters for men.  My knitting friend Konrad noticed it too.  I had a bright idea for us to knit the same sweater and he could modify it for a man.  In fact, this was not new to him as he has done this before.  Konrad has had the lion share of the work for this KAL, but if you follow his knitting, you'll know that making modifications like this comes second nature to him.  

Our last sweater together is Solitaire by Martin Storey from the Truesilk Collection.  The pattern was meant to use 100% mulberry silk, Rowan Truesilk, but instead I used Rowan Cotton Glace.  It had the same weight and gauge so was a pretty easy change.  My reason for the switch is that I was planning to use this as a casual summer sweater and the cotton was more casual than the silk.  I am however using the Truesilk for a scarf as a gift and it's very lovely.  The Cotton Glace is great for summer, cool and light, machine washable and easy on the hands.  It comes in beautiful, bright summer colors but I was drawn to this clean white which would make the lace pop.

I  made modifications to make it smaller by casting on less stitches for each piece, front, back and sleeves, making sure that the stitch count would still work for the lace pattern repeat.  I love mine, it fits well and I've been wearing it often.  What drew me to this sweater was the pretty lace at the hem and neck.  I knew Konrad would have to remove it, but had no idea that he would be able to keep the spirit of the sweater by using a narrower version of the lace repeat as stripes.  His modifications are genius! I saw it in person when we were visiting the Rowan mill and I could hardly believe it!  We showed it to Martin and he wholeheartedly approved. 

If you are newish to lace, remember it's just a bit of yarn overs and knit two togethers.  This was an easy pattern to memorize and makes sense after knitting a few rows.  A fun lace pattern.

I hope you've enjoyed the three KALs we've had over the last 6 months.  We've had a lot of fun and I've made a good friend.  

We finished just in the nick of time as the fabulous new Fall/Winter season will be available on July 15.   Stay tuned for my favorites that I'll be sharing over the next few weeks. 

Promise me you'll check out Konrad's Solitaire blog post!
The Truesilk Collection by Martin Storey at Jannette's
Cotton Glace at Black Sheep Wools
My Ravelry page for Solitaire has needle size, yardage, etc.


Postcards From Holmfirth

I've been home a week now and have finally gathered my pictures of the Rowan Ambassador trip to the Rowan Yarns offices in Holmfirth in Yorkshire.  We all had such a lovely time, and hope you don't mind me indulging myself here and sharing way too many pictures, but I can't help myself.

But first, for those of you that don't know, here's the Rowan Ambassador story:  About a year and a half ago Rowan Yarns sent out word that they were looking for ambassadors, or "champions of the brand".  From the applicants they chose 14 hand knitters from around the world.  Rowan sends us samples of yarns and books and only asks that we honestly review them on our social media sites.  We do this without pay.  In recent years, this kind of relationship between consumers engaged with social media and different trades such as fashion and others has become common practice.  In my case, I was already promoting Rowan because I had been a huge fan for a dozen years, so this was nothing new.  But having early access to new releases has been a dream for me.  I can assure you that none of the 14 ambassadors feel any obligation to promote Rowan, but we have been chosen because we are all Rowan fans.  Rowan has made it very clear that they expect us to be honest.

So with that said, Rowan recently invited the ambassadors to England, to their offices in Holmfirth in Yorkshire to attend the first ambassador's conference.  It was to be a chance to finally meet the other ambassadors with whom I've come to be friends with online and also to meet the Rowan team.   It was LOVELY!  Rowan is such an admirable company with the most talented and generous people with whom I am very thrilled to be associated!  I came home and told my husband I had certainly hitched my wagon to the right star!  Our time flew by, but it was very exciting to be with the some of the most influential people in the hand knitting industry. 

Over the next few weeks and months I'll share some of the things I've learned such as their design and yarn selection process, but for now, I'll just share some photos and footnotes in captions.

Here is the first night, when we all meet each other for the first time.  Surreal.  Exciting.  Memorable.  It was so great to finally meet IN PERSON friends that you "talk" to almost daily on FB.  What a wonderful group of people, and they all knit!

The Rowan designers spent every day with us, as if they had nothing else to do in the world.

An impromptu lace designing class led by lovely Sarah Hatton.
Sarah is coming to California, see the footnote at the end of this post for more information
regarding her classes.

Linda on left and Dayana on right brought their finished KAL afghans to the mill for us to see.

I love this picture of dear Karl schlepping us to and fro, never once losing his smile.

The town of Holmfirth and it's inhabitants were lovely.

Holmfirth was decorated for the Tour de France which would travel through the center of town the week after we left.

Our first hour there we found a knit store!  All of us entered en mass to this tiny, pretty store stocked with Rowan.

Every morning we were picked up for the 5 minute drive to the mill.

Seriously, my heart skipped a beat when we drove up to the hallowed doors on that first day!

This sign says it all, they were so welcoming.

Kate showed us her collection of Rowan magazines, starting the Mag 1.  I loved going through the early ones.

The secret stash.

My sentiments exactly.

Samples everywhere!  Trying on like crazy! Hope we didn't leave them in too much of a mess!

Haha, I love this one.  Konrad deserves a kiss.

Martin, Marie, Lisa, Sarah, Gemma, Kate.  Nicest people ever.

Palling around with lead designer Marie Wallin who conducted a design workshop, more about that later.

Karl, the ever congenial, reasonable and patient RA handler.  My, he has his hands full with us!

Just me and Martin having drinkies.  Old buddies.

Martin Storey, I love this man, here with the original KAL afghan.
 He spent 3 days with us, milling around, chatting, helping out,
 answering questions and offering advice in his amiable and elegant way.  
What a charming, talented and lovely man.

Here I am between Lisa Richardson and Sarah Hatton, two favorite designers and now friends.

The last day we sadly said our goodbyes, but it was sweetened by some champagne and cake!

I was so happy to hear that Sarah Hatton is visiting Calfornia this month.  She will be at Ball and Skein in Cambria, a lovely little beach town and shop if you've never been there.   Sarah will also conduct a knitting retreat in Lake Tahoe for Jimmy Beans.  My friend Leah and I are taking her professional finishing class in San Francisco at Imagiknits on the 22nd and then on the 23rd we'll be at her lace knitting class at our local yarn store, Uncommon Threads.  Hope to see you there!

Coming up, some FOs, maybe even an afghan!