Friday, September 25, 2009

Get "Fresh" With Me

Friday, September 18th, marked my local TV debut here in the Quad Cities. I was on Paula Sands Live (PSL, if you're a local!) to promote a screening of "Fresh... The Movie" that was sponsored by the Quad Cities chapter of Buy Fresh, Buy Local and Progressive Action for the Common Good. This documentary is a great showcase of awesome farmers using innovative methods for providing incredible, fresh food. I highly recommend it!

The next morning, it was off to the market once again. Maybe it was the excitement from the PSL and the movie the night before, but everything about that day was awesome. It started with the debut of an absolutely beautiful banner that was hand-quilted by my mom. This banner will follow Em and I in all of our future endeavors. Thanks, Mom!

A couple of hours after the market started, I had a very special visitor. Right when Em and I started selling at the market, a really great family stopped to talk to us. One of their daughters asked me if I could show her how to make the bags I was selling. I love the fact that she is so young and interested in knitting. A few weeks later she stopped by and I gave her a pattern that I wrote down for her. Well, last week at the market, she stopped by with her very own market bag! Meet Bronté (and her bag)!

The next photo shows a close-up of the bag. What a beautiful job! I may have some competition. Thanks for showing me your work, Bronté!

The most surprising part of the day came at the end, when I realized I sold an entire batch of Emily´s amazing caramels. Seriously, people were raving about them. Emily had made them the week before when we were both at our parents house. I was sorry she wasn't there to see it, but I was pumped to let her know she's getting rich off caramels AND she gets to sleep in on Saturdays. We're currently trying to figure out a way for her to ship them here, so the caramels may be back soon; you'll just have to stop by the market to find out!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Back to the Market

So a lot has happened since my last post. For one, I have two new brothers from other mothers. Jorge, from Mexico, is second from the left in the picture, and Kensuke, from Japan is on the far right. They've been great additions to the family...even though I now have to sleep in the camper when I come home to visit. Regardless, I miss them and the rest of my family very much now that I'm back at school.

I spent a week back home between moving from Iowa and moving back to the dorms, and the Friday after I got to Marinette, I enjoyed my second fair of the summer. This time it was the U.P. State Fair, which I haven't missed once since I can remember. This year the newly-arrived foreign exchange students came with us, and a great time was had by all petting farm animals, eating fried food, and checking out exhibits. Below are some picture highlights:

Yes. They judge hay. I have no idea what the criteria can be for such a competition, but obviously someone figured it out. And yes, they apparently smoke suckers in Upper Michigan. Now, I am not a picky eater, but I don't think any amount of money could convince me to pop one of those babies in my mouth. This is probably wrong of me, but for some reason I feel canning should be limited to things that have the ability to undergo photosynthesis.

The following week I moved into my dorm...a much easier task this year than last, mainly because I had approximately 500 pounds less of kitchen equipment with me this year. Seriously, this is what my dorm room looked like last year:

Yep. That's an ice cream maker on the top shelf. And seven varieties of flour on the bottom pantry shelf. And a food processor. And two full sets of pans. And four stock pots in various sizes.

My first week of classes went well. I'm taking Old English, Literature & Ecology, Spanish, an anthropology class called the Culture of Language, and Chemistry. That's a lot of English for a Biology major, I know. And the more observant of you may notice that my course list contains no Biology classes. What can I say? I'm trying to take the holistic approach (my anthropology instructor would be so proud) to learning. And I am doing a 3-day, 1-credit Mushroom Identification workshop, so I guess I did manage to squeeze some Bio in this semester.

Anyway, after three whole days of classes and five whole days away from my family, I had the opportunity to return to Marinette for the weekend. Laura was home, and I hadn't seen her in about two weeks (which is a lot after having lived with her for the whole summer), so I was very excited to be back. Saturday my Mom, Laura, and I visited an art gallery/farm (only in the Midwest) that reminded me a lot of Miss Effie's. Of course, there's no replacement, and the day really made me miss my adoptive parents! I would have more pictures, but my camera batteries ran out. Fortunately this happened after I snapped a picture of this cool rooster sculpture:

And I walked the mile or so downtown to my first farmers market in almost a month! I was having serious withdrawals. The Stevens Point Farmers Market is nowhere near as big as the Freighthouse, but it is quaint and adorable and small-town and just what I needed after a week of rigorous studying. And I ran into an old family friend who also happens to go to UWSP. Only good things come from visiting your local farmers market, people. Sorry for the lack of pictures, but I haven't gotten around to buying more batteries for the camera yet. No worries, though...I'm planning on going every weekend I can until the market closes for winter, so I promise I'll take pictures!

I'm going to leave you with a quote out of one of the books I have to read for Literature & Ecology (Bill McKibben's Deep Economy). Actually, McKibben is quoting from economist Kenneth Boulding. Anyway, I'm a sucker for doggerel, especially of the environmentally-conscious kind, so here goes:

"One priniciple that is an ecological upsetter
Is that if anything is good, more is better,
And this misunderstanding sets us very, very wrong
For no relation in the world is linear for long."

I know, it's pretty lame. But it probably made you think, too.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Back to School...

A lot has changed in Davenport since the last post. Emily has moved back to Wisconsin and I have weathered my first market without her. It was a bittersweet day. The booth seemed empty without her, but I did sell an entire batch of her famous caramels! I also finally finished the special order market bag!

This bag is an original design, and it turned out pretty much how I envisioned it. I wanted to give this bag more structure, so it would look more like a classic, rectangular grocery bag. I did this by increasing and decreasing every other round at each of the four corners. The use of left and right leaning increases and decreases created an edge that I reinforced with extra yarn after the knitting was complete. I also needed an open mesh-type pattern that did not twist, as the yarn over mesh I had been doing creates a diagonal pattern. The stitch I ended up using was the "Star Rib Pattern".

I added a pocket inside for keys, cell phone and money. This was done by picking up stitches along the back on the band and then casting on the same number as the stitches that were picked up. Knitting these stitches in the round creates a pocket that is already attached to the back. I finished the pocket using a three needle bind off and tacked the corners to the body of the bag for stability. I searched my tin of buttons from the antique store to find the perfect match, and I think I did: an old, weathered wooden toggle, painted white. I wanted the straps to be sturdy and not stretch as knitted straps would. So... I used woven strapping (in this case blanket binding) and sewed this to the bag. I did, however, want the straps to look knit. I achieved this by knitting a tube that I placed around the binding. The tube had tabs on each side that covered the binding. After using embroidery floss to sew the straps and tabs to the bag, the binding is invisible! Also, note the tag sown into the bag. "An Original by Laura Rose Oman"! Hopefully, I'll be using a lot of those tags in the future. See the photo below for a picture of Vicki (a satisfied customer, I hope!) with the finished product.