Saturday, August 25, 2007

80% & 55%?

Well, just a little update, without any big excitement. I finally received the two more skeins from KnitPicks for the baby blanket & have just started on skein #9 - so just one more after this, and then 22 ends to knit in (10 skeins, plus one break in a skein). The blanket still looks about the same as it did in the last post, though. The 2nd sock hasn't gotten far, since while I was waiting for the yarn from KP, I started in on another baby blanket for a recently arrived person. These people are having babies faster than I can knit!
And there has been so much going on other than knitting. Next Wednesday is K's dissertation denfense!!!! Yea! Needless to say, the tension levels around the house are a bit higher than usual. And, of course, his defense is making me realize what I haven't gotten done on my diss over the summer. Thursday marked 1 month until the wedding. We picked up the license this week & I had to make the decision about whether I'm changing or keeping my last name (keeping).

Friday, August 10, 2007

60% & 50%

Two new projects, both at least half done. The yellow item is a feather & fan baby blanket for my cousin's new baby. They live in Arizona, so I thought cotton would be a good idea. The yarn is KnitPick's Shine Sport, cotton 60% Pima cotton, 40% Modal, in Apricot. Usually, this blanket takes 8 skeins of yarn, but those tend to be skeins of 145 or so yards. But Shine Sport skeins are only 110 yards, and like an idiot, I didn't take that into account. So, I ordered 8 skeins, got started & had to order 2 more. Now I've knit up 6 skeins, with 4 more to go. Somehow, though it will end up being the same size as the others I've made, knowing there are 4 more skeins just makes it seem like it's more than usual. Also, the yarn is slippery and harder to knit with.
But, then, earlier this week, I had the blanket draped across my arm and thought, wow - that's a really nice feel - this would make a lovely wrap or light summer cardigan. Hmmm... Lots of nice colors in Shine Sport...
So the blanket is at 60%, and with one sock finished, that makes 50% of a pair of socks. This is also a Knit Picks yarn - Felici, 75% Superwash Merino wool, 25% nylon, in Hummingbird. Even though it has a bit of pink in it, I really like the colorway. This is my second pair of socks. The first pair was basic top-down. They didn't turn out well. While those two facts are not necessarily related, I wanted to try a different method this time, so I'm using Ann Budd's "On-Your-Toes Socks" in the Summer 2007 "Interweave Knits." So far, it's working out great. I was able to try the sock on throughout the process. It definitely fits this time.
And this will probably be the next pair of socks - it's self-striping sock yarn by Kaffe Fassett! In several really awesome colorways. Hard to pick just one.
And, today's arrival - a not-so-awesome colorway... This is my favorite yarn for making baby blankets - Sirdar Snuggly Baby Care DK, 60% acrylic, 40% cotton. And apparently it's not being made anymore. I can't find it anywhere. Except for this package of 10 skeins in lime green from an ebay seller. I don't think it really shows up in the photo, quite how lime this green is. It is quite vibrant. Who will want this near their child? So sad. I've been trying out some replacement baby blanket yarns, but nothing so far has been as satisfying.
And this is a new, unwelcome, visitor to our yard this week. I bought this shepherd's crook last weekend to set up a birdfeeder in front of one of the windows the cats can easily sit in. The feeder's beside a couple of bushes, so it's working out great for the birds. But now THIS! A groundhog! Where did it come from? Where does it live? This will not be good for the garden.

Monday, August 06, 2007

How does the garden grow?

(I ask myself rhetorically...) Pretty well. This is one of my favorite things about having a house - having the garden space to play around with.

Here, in the back, is one of the house's original garden beds. Last year, my mom & I weeded it out & found a lot of something in it, which turned out to be gladiolas. Since then, I've been adding many other perennials to it, though I seem to trend heavily towards shades of purple. These are two of last year's additions that I'm particularly pleased with this year - a Rose of Sharon (one of my favorite garden plants) and anise - both happily flowering. The anise has been flowering for maybe a month now, and garnering lots of attention from the bees.
Not far away, I started a raised bed garden in the spring, largely due to K's desire to try growing red onions. The first photo is back in May.
And here it is this past weekend. The onions did not do well at all. The green tops died off, we dug them up & found they were about the size they started. However, the radishes & spinach did well, and the tomatoes and herbs are doing great. In this picture the tomatoes have gotten so tall that they fell over the tops of their cages (just 2 large tomato plants here - one cherry tomato & one Brandywine). Later on, I stuck in stakes & tied them up.
The garden's not getting nearly as much sun as I expected this spot would, and the reason seems to be that the walnut tree is bearing nuts this year. So many nuts, that it's weighing down the tree branches. Occassionally, they fall, but our neighbor says when they really start to fall things will get interesting. Some of those branches are at least 50 feet up in the air, which will give falling walnuts quite a punch.
The main challenge the walnut tree has presented is that there is a toxin, called juglone, in its leaves, bark & roots (I wrote about this last fall as well). While being vaguely aware of this, I nonetheless went ahead & put walnut tree leaves into my first batch of compost, then wondered whether that was a good idea. This weekend, I read a suggestion that after the compost is ready, to try it out in a pot with a tomato plant, because tomatoes are particularly susceptible to juglone. And, because the compost I bought from Agway for the raised bed garden apparently had some tomato seeds in it, I happened to have a volunteer. So, compost experiment is underway!
Last on this garden tour, is the front garden. Last year, I divided some varigated hostas that were in one huge clump at the side of the house, between the driveway & the house foundation. This year, they really took off & made an impenetrable barrier of hostas. There were things planted behind them, you just couldn't see them without standing on the stoop by the front door & looking straight down. So (with a bit of advice from the contractor who is going to put a new layer of roof on next weekend), I rearranged things up front & farmed out some of the hostas. I took 3 hosta clumps away entirely - one to the other side of the front steps, and 2 to the back yard. 3 others moved to the back of the garden, the big ferns to the middle of the garden & the little ferns that I had forgotten were even there, to the front. And I brought a few small, newer perennials in from other areas of the yard to fill out the front.
There's still this rosebush, which is a real pain - absolutely covered in small & large thorns, and very attractive to aphids & japanese beetles. The simplest way to deal with the japanese beetles is to take them off the plant & kill them, but with the thorns, that can get a little painful (leads to me in the front yard grumbling, "Damn it, I'm trying to help you!") One friend at work insists I can't get rid of an old rose. What's keeping me more from yanking it out is the fact that it's so well-entrenched. It was taller than me when we moved in (last fall I cut it down drastically). It does not move when pushed. I've stuck a shovel in & met with some pretty solid tangle of roots - roots which no doubt extend under the driveway & sidewalk to the east and north.
Knitting-wise, I started a new baby blanket for my cousin Kristin's new son, Trent, and a new sock (toe up sock - the picture is from mid-week, since then I've turned the heel & am headed up, going 'til the yarn runs out).

Saturday, August 04, 2007


Here's a little problem child:
LC & I are making this baby quilt for some friends (who, coincidently enough, have a new baby). I figured out how big the inner pieces would need to be in order to use this triangular pieced border. It's kind of noticeable in this shot, but the fabrics are from a line of Beatrix Potter fabric - with large scenes from her books in the center. The blue has faint white-lined images of her characters. The backing we have is like the center panel, but in a toile format.
Only thing is, I apparently figured wrong. See that gap between the completed section & the right-hand border? Hard to miss.
What we need to work out now, is whether it's fixable - like are the seams a little too narrow on the triangle pieces? Do we make a new, slightly wider border (the cream with little specks which are actually radishes)? Or do we trash the triangle border entirely & just finish it off without it?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Baby Surprise Jacket

Well, it's been a busy summer so far, and it's flying by. I haven't gotten a lot of knitting accomplished (but I have interacted with a prison guard - now that's fun). Last Saturday I finished this item for a friend's baby shower - sewing in the frog buttons on in LC's car on the way up there & popping it into a gift bag with these great books just before we got to the house. The construction of Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Jacket was truly a surprise. With Cupcake looking on, I matched up the points as they were marked on the diagram, and - wow - it actually makes a little jacket.
So, here is the cast-off, no seams sewn version (with a messy thread left right smack in the middle - how did I not notice that?). Quite impressive how it turns into a little garment.