Saturday, March 31, 2012

2012 Garden Journal #3

This was my view from the driveway last Tuesday! Glorious bulbs, plum and crab apple tree in full bloom.

Busy Bee on plum blossoms

I have done almost nothing except admire Spring's progress in the last two weeks. My one major development was putting up some stakes and putting some bird netting other it to protect this garden from the giant rabbits. This is last week's growth.

This is how much the peas and mesclun grew in a week: (Time to do some thinning...

Progress of apple blossoms over the last week:

Today the daffodils are already finished, BUT do you see the abundance of salad greens that re-seeded themselves? Some of the seeds waited for spring after all. I am excited for upcoming salads!

The gooseberry shrubs are blooming, and surrounded by beautiful yellow flowers. I will have to look up the name of that plant... We had a frost scare on Monday night. I covered the peas with floating row cover, but not completely, and one of the gooseberry shrubs with some plastic. Either the protection worked well, or it did not get cold enough to do damage. I left too early in the morning to assess frost on the ground. I'm sure we will have more of these adventures in the coming weeks.

Joining up with Ginny again today! Thanks Ginny!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Wayfarer Scarves

"Sit awhile wayfarer,
Here are biscuits to eat and here is milk to drink,
But as soon as you sleep and renew yourself in sweet clothes I will certainly kiss you with my goodbye kiss and open the gate for your egress hence."
From Leaves of Grass: Song of Myself by Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman is a genius. I could not have chosen better words for the friend I made these scarves for. We were roommates long ago. Even before then we shared a love for great home baked bread (consumed late at night), visiting, and long walks (known also as Hiking). Now she shares these scarves, these "sweet clothes," with her new husband.

The happy couple got married on my birthday last year. I started the scarves late, finished even later, and FINALLY, here is the concluding blog post. WHEW!! Introducing the completed matching Wayfarer Scarf set.

The other genius in this story is Jared Flood, the author of this charming Wayfarer pattern. I always learn something new when I try one of his patterns, and this scarf was no different. How about those long columns of slipped stitches as they wander left and right down the scarf? Beautiful results and enough variation to hold one's interest over many feet of otherwise monotonous knitting is such a bonus.

Finally, I want to acknowledge the sweet generosity of a friend whom I haven't met thus far, but none the less donated a massive amount of beautifully hand spun yarn to my stash. Thanks, A.C.!

The Details: #1, Brown
Pattern: Wayfarer Scarf by BrooklynTweed
Yarn: Handspun yarn by A. C. from a Romney sheep named Helga
Colorway: Brown, natural
Needles: Size 8
Started: July 6, 2011
Finished: August 5, 2011
Notes: Great plane and camping knitting. Many inches knitted in the Pacific Northwest while enjoying the temperate rain forest.

The Details: #2, Gray
Pattern: Wayfarer Scarf by BrooklynTweed
Yarn: Handspun yarn by A. C. from a Copworth sheep named Norman
Colorway: Gray, natural
Needles: Size 8
Started: September 9, 2011
Finished: January 2, 2012

Of course I couldn't resist packing them up in a little hand sewn, reversible, re-usable gift bag.

Here's a toast to "Happily Ever After!" Cheers!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

2012 Garden Journal #2

Signs of life are surging through my garden and yard. It looks like parts of the lawn already needs mowing. The gooseberries (below) are starting to show leaf, as are plum and apple trees.

Pretty bulbs are sprouting in all the usual spots. I also noticed lots of little seed sprouts in this bed. I am hoping for lettuce that re-seeded itself, but I fear that the marigolds also re-seeded themselves. Some lettuce came up last Fall after the rains, so those seeds may be gone already.

Here are some notes, observations, and photos from a few other days I spent in the yard.
3/7 Radishes appeared; Raked leaves around apple tree and put in raised bed
3/10 - Hauled old hay/straw from barn to garden. Contemplating potato patch, or more serious composting.

3/11 - planted peas and mesclun mix in raised bed that also has strawberry plants. Saw giant (pregnant??) rabbit and fear that without protection, this product will not survive to maturity.

3/15 - harvested the rest of the mache (it was beginning to shoot) and turnips; Mesclun mix is sprouting!

3/17 - no gardening done today, but the peas are also showing signs of life

Joining up with Ginny today.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sweater Surgery

Last summer, a friend of mine asked me to fix some of her sweaters that some pesky moths had gotten into. This was a much more challenging project than I anticipated initially.

A very fun sweater made with bulky wool from South America.

I used a lot of duplicate stitch to strengthen the stitches to the left and right of the holes, thus hopefully preventing unraveling. In larger holes I used chain stitch crochet to replace the missing stitches and followed up with some additional duplicate stitch to make it look like knitting again, with varying degrees of success. After washing the sweaters, I found many more weak spots that weren't quite a hole, but that needed reinforcing. Unfortunately, I also found a few more mothy creatures. Yuck! A second wash was necessary.

Made in Iceland with that legendary Icelandic wool. I was so lucky to have matching yarn in my stash, though it was of inferior quality and not at all Icelandic. It blended nicely though!

As we approach summer, here are a few tips that I learned to preserve fine knitting and prevent or limit pests from eating your entire fine line of knits:
1.) Wash sweaters before storing for the summer. Bugs are more likely to be attracted by the dirt than the actual wool, surprising as that may sound.

2.) SOAK or Eucalan wash are my favorite washing products because they don't require any manipulating, which is hard on fine knits. Just fill a small tub with water, add the washing agent, let the garment soak for 45 minutes, drain, and either spin out in a top loading washer or roll garment between towels and squeeze out excess water. Block to dry on a drying rack or sofa/bed/floor on a layer of towels. In a pinch I use Woolite as a handwash, but then you have to rinse the garment several times to get all the suds out.

3.) Store clean knits in a sealed container with some sort of cedar product distributed generously in it. Refresh the cedar with a cedar spray or by sanding the wood lightly to restore the scent every year. I suggest several smaller containers to limit a potential invasion.

4.) Check the clothes one last time before putting them away, noting if they have any holes or weaknesses on a piece of paper stored with the item. When getting the knits out again, compare the notes and check for bugs again.

Enjoy these last days of sweater weather. It is getting nice and warm here, and I am starting to think about washing the woollies and putting them away soon. Awwww...

Saturday, March 3, 2012

2012 Garden Journal #1

There is no better way to keep yourself accountable for amazing garden results if there are potentially many viewers of your adventures. Bringing all of my work to one spot will make looking up what I did so much easier. I am the champion of writing items on small scraps of paper that always get lost or misplaced. Thanks to Ginny for making a linking list for like-minded individuals to share their labors!

This is my "beginning" shot. I have landscaping cloth on several garden beds to keep the feral cats from using it as a toilet. I weighed it down with old milk bottles that still contain (frozen) water from the rain barrel.

I haven't really stopped gardening as I am experimenting with a very primitive cold frame. The plastic on the top got a rip from some ice, so I just covered it up with floating row cover material. The rapid growth of the plants inside is telling me that enough light is indeed entering the cold frame. All the towels around the frame are covering some huge gaps in the plywood. Like I said primitive, but highly effective. Rainwater-filled cat litter containers are holding the plastic and row cover material in place so that the wind doesn't loosen them up.

A view inside the frame. The spinach regrows enough for me to harvest 1-2 dinner salads per week. I pick away leaves from the outside of each plant, allowing the inner leaves to re-grow. Behind the spinach is mache, the world's most delicious green, followed by turnips and carrots, which are both slowing adding bulk to their roots. I planted some radish seeds last Sunday, 2/26, in an empty spot as an experiment when (or if) they might show up.

My bulbs share a bed with some lettuce plants that have existed since last fall with no protection. The lettuce has survived, but has not grown any since fall.

Here is this weekend's harvest! I better go prepare that salad I was planning with dinner.

Best wishes for a productive growing season!