Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Laceweight

Anyone who knows me and my knitting will know that I have a love/hate relationship with fine yarns. It took me a good year or two of false starts before I embraced and fell in love with socks. I'm still working to reach that same comfort zone with laceweight yarn. I've reached a point in my knitting life where I'm ready to expand my horizons and venture into new territory. The February Lady proved to me I could successfully tackle lace albeit at a large gauge. Now I'm itching to try laceweight yarn again. So I took the plunge and ordered 2 skeins of Nicanor from 100PureWool.com. I chose standard shipping and the package took about 3 weeks to arrive from Uraguay. The yarn is fabulous. The softest merino you can imagine, soft spun in a singles yarn. The color is gorgeous. Even though I had other things to attend to last night, I made sure to carve out enough time to wind one of the skeins up and cast on for a wrap.I'm improvising the pattern and it will be very plain. I figure tackling the laceweight yarn will be enough of a challenge without struggling through a lace pattern as well. So far, I'm in heaven. This little exercise in growth may or may not work out for me, but at the moment, the prospect is good.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Garden inventory

Mother nature has turned up the heat so we took advantage of the sunny weather and got to planting the garden. Dad and I took a trip to my favorite greenhouse (Zimmey's outside of Schaefferstown if you are in the area) yesterday and stocked up on plants. He only picked up a few plants. He's more old school about planting things at specific times and whatnot. That's cool for him, being retired and all, he can plant at his leisure. Hubby and I both work so we plant when we have the opportunity. So far this approach hasn't caused us any trouble. So I bought everything I could. A whole garden's worth of plants and all the flowers for my beds for $20! You so can not beat that.

Once again, the long skinny bed is dedicated to eggplant and tomatoes.4 Dusky eggplants, 2 Roma tomatoes, 2 Beefstake tomatoes and 2 Early Girl tomatoes. I've also planted seed for a yellow squash plant in this bed.

The main bed has 2 varieties of onions, snow peas, lima beans and peppers planted so far. We will also be planting cucumbers (which weren't available yet) and pumpkins in this bed. There's still a good bit of room left in the center of the bed for something else, but I'm undecided what I'll plant there. Perhaps broccoli (although the rabbit debacle of last year has me shying away form that. Maybe another squash. We need to get the rest of the weedblock down. I'm only using it on the right side of the garden. I find it difficult to use around the onions and seed rows. But I do like using it where I can. It helps cut down on weeding and also keeps the stray cats from using the garden as a toilet (which they did last night in the uncovered area!) I think we are going to put up chicken wire fencing as well. It will at least keep the rabbits out if not the cats.

I started the okra seeds in little popup pots and they are just starting to germinate. They'll be planted in a bed on the other side of the garden wall. It used to be a flower bed, but I would prefer to put it to use for food.

And finally, the ultimate in hillbilly gardening...the Topsy Turvy. Aren't they the tackiest looking things ever? I'm a bit embarassed to post this picture but, yes, I gave in to the hype and decided to try the hanging tomato planters. The one on the left has 2 Tom Thumb cherry tomatoes and the one on the right has a Bush Goliath tomato. My mother in law grows her tomatoes over a wall (so they basically grown down) and they are the most prolific and tastey tomatoes you can find. I know her excellent soil is part of the equation, but I think the vines growing with gravity rather than against it could only be a good thing. I'll keep you posted if this actually works or not.

Still not much knitting going on here. Still working on the Christmas project, although the end is in sight there. I finished the horrid, scratchy socks.I do love the colors and they did soften up a bit after washing, so all is not lost. I'm sure I'll wear them. I ran out of the variegated yarn on the second sock, so the toe area looks bigger on one sock than the other. At least that'll be hidden in the shoe.

Here's the Nutkin mittens I was talking about.I adore this Imagination yarn. So soft and the colors are fabulous. The pictures don't do it justice.
Since I finished a pair of socks, I started another.
I received Wendy Johnson's new sock book in the mail this week so decided to go toe up this time. I have knit toe up in the past and do like the technique alot, except for the short row heels. Wendy's book offers instructions for toe up socks with gusset heels! Yay!! I'm using HiyaHiya needles and Red Heart Heart and Sole yarn. Love the needles (possible more than KP Options! The join is much nicer). The yarn is also a lovely surprise. I was a bit disappointed with Lion Brand's Sock Ease, but this craft store yarn seems really nice so far.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Starting the garden 2009

I survived another tax season, hooray!! Now I'm seriously ready to get back to normal. The weather is turning a bit warmer, although the nights are still cool.

We've been able to do some work on the garden. We've doubled the size of the main bed, thanks in large part to my dad. After spending the last month and a half rehabilitating from knee replacement surgery, he was ready for some fresh air and exercise. So I came home one day and found he cleared the grass and rototilled the new bed.I was able to get the onions and snow peas planted this week. Like many folks, we are hoping to grow more of our own veggies this year. In addition to my usuals...onions, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, squash and cucumbers, we are adding okra, snow peas, lima beans, garlic and pumpkins (the last mostly for Halloween decorations!) We'll need to wait another week or two to get the rest of the plants and seeds in until the nights quit getting down in the 30s.

We also expanded a small bed that has bleeding hearts and ferns to make room for a blueberry bush.This is a self pollinating, dwarf variety. It will take a year or two to mature to the point it will produce fruit, unfortunately.

Mostly I've got no knitting mojo at the moment. I've got a few projects going...the Colour Your Own fair isle (still on the sleeve), the horrid scratchy socks (thankfully well into the foot of the second sock), a pair of Nutkin socks that are now going to be mittens in Knit Picks Imagination yarn and a Christmas present (don't be impressed, it was supposed to be knit for last Christmas, really determined to make sure it gets done for this Christmas). I work a bit on each of them but nothing is really inspring me. I've ordered some laceweight yarn for a shawl, perhaps that will get me going again.

Instead of knitting, I've been reading. I'm trying to get through Breaking Dawn. As much as I enjoyed Twilight, I just can not get into this book. I think I've mentioned before, I'm not a Bella fan, nor do I really care for Jacob. The vampire thing is the only thing this series has going for it. Everyone assures me it gets better, so I keep slogging along. I've also been reading Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. Now this is an excellent book. It got me back into baking my own bread and what fabulous bread it is. If you love homemade bread, but hate the work, this is the book for you. Plus you can make small loaves so they get eaten up before they go stale.