Monday, February 1, 2016

Indulgence Fingerless Mitts

looked at the large amount of yarn leftover after finishing my Thumb Joint Socks and thought it would be a shame to toss it back into the stash. 

I've been wanting a new pair of fingerless mitts recently, so I immediately cast on. 

To keep things simple, I followed the numbers from my socks. That plan worked out fine. 

The only "issue" as I was knitting was with the thumb gusset. 

I guess I've been following knitting patterns more than I've been designing them lately. 

The first gusset attempt came out shorter than I wanted. 

Even the second one, technically, wasn't what I had in mind. But these mitts were for myself and my patience only extends so far, so the second attempt was used. 

Despite the gusset struggles, the fit the fit is quite good. 

Everyone at knitting group appreciated them. One woman liked them so much I emailed her the pattern. 

The marvels of modern technology. I was able to open my Note over the pattern and send it away!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Garden Anticipation

When I was at the store yesterday I decided to take a turn through the garden department to see if anything was out yet 

Boy, howdy, was it well stocked! So many exciting options. It was a good thing I didn't have a shopping cart or I would have bought all kinds of goodies. 
I saw this cedar raised bed kit that made me rethink the cinder block idea. However, when I got home and showed the picture to hubby he pointed out it was less than 4" long. That is shorter than I want, so that's out. 
There was a wealth of seed starting options. It was good to see what my choices would be. 
I think I like the self-watering ones best. The 75 cell units are very appealing. It is unclear whether any of them are reusable. 

I exercised self-control and didn't buy any. It was easier to resist knowing I won't be starting seeds until next month. Good thing I found that spiffy calendar from the local extension service!

When I got home I checked my notes, and the special calendar, and realized I would be starting only 14 plants inside. The others will be sowed outside. That means I can get a smaller, but fancier seed starting set. 
And, of course, there were seed packets galore! Enough to make your head spin. 

Again, I didn't buy any because I didn't have my notes with me. I still have some seeds from last year that are still viable I'll have to check them before I stick up. 

I will probably start stocking up next week. 

Another thing I did was check the Burpee website for prices and options. I'll probably end up ordering my asparagus and strawberries from there. They are having a sale, and free shipping if you sign up for their newsletter. They are also included packets of flowers that appeal to bees in orders placed by sometime in May. 

Since they don't mail the live plants until the proper time for your zone, I can place my order now, take advantage of the special offers, and get a "surprise" in March!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Back to garden talk

I have a sprout!

This time I am saying it with excitement, unlike when I found that onion the other day. 

Nothing yet from the other little pot. 

Now the trick will be keeping it alive.

I read in those library books that window sills don't provide enough light for a sprout, which needs plenty of overhead light. 
That might explain why my plants last year were so pathetic. 

If it doesn't seem happy in the window, I'll have to move it somewhere it can have a lamp. 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Thumb Joint Socks

I finished a pair of socks! I can't really claim they are my first finished object for 2016 since the knitting was actually completed in December. It just took me forever to weave in the ends.

Since buying the book "Sock Architecture" by Lara Neel at Rhinebeck in (gasp) 2014, I've been experimenting with alternative constructions. Not that I've knit many pairs of socks in the last year.

Usually I knit top down socks with a traditional heel flap, round heel turn, gusset, and wedge toe.

After reading Sock Architecture, I first experimented with the Round Toe shaping in the book. It does provide a nice fit. I think I'll stick with it. She also includes a Swirl Toe, which seem shallower than the Round Toe, and I might try that next before I commit.

For heel constructions, I tried the, uh, Square Heel. But so much time passed between the first and second sock that I couldn't quite remember what I had done and the two heel turns don't really match. So that might have to be revisited because I can't really judge the heel turn fairly in those circumstances.

I went really wild on the socks I just finished. Totally out of my sock knitting comfort zone.

For these socks, I worked an afterthought heel. Specifically her Thumb Joint, Hat Top construction.

The idea is you make the heel as deep as the wearer's thumb, which might make measuring easier because you always have your thumb with you.

The verdict is still out on this whole afterthought business. Socks are my easy, mindless project. That is why I always knit the same socks, the same way. I don't have to think about it much. I knit the leg until it is as long as my hand, knit the heel flap and turn, then try on the sock to get the foot length. Simple.

With the afterthought heel construction, the knitting process was very disjointed. I wasn't sure how long to knit the foot because I couldn't try the sock on. I ended up knitting a few rounds of the foot, putting the stitches on waste yarn, then knitting the heel.

Not very much of an afterthought!

Then I went back and finished the toe. Of course, I carefully wrote down how many stitches and rounds were involved at each step.

The notes made the second sock go a little smoother. I was able to put the waste yarn in for the heel and continue straight to the toe. That was kind of nice, and probably how the experience was supposed to go.

However, I was working on them for so long, with such long breaks in the process, that I sort of forgot about the heel situation on the second sock. For a moment, as I was finishing the toe shaping on the second sock, I got that little thrill of excitement when you finish a project.

Then I remembered I had to go back and knit the heel. ugh.

At least the heel wasn't all that big, which meant it didn't take long to knit.

Weaving in ends was avoided for far too long and didn't take much time when I finally did it. There were, however, extra ends to weave in because of the afterthought heel.

As you can see, I'm a bit whiny about the whole thing. On the bright side, they are pretty socks. I imagine this construction would allow you to have a lot of fun with colors, or using up scraps, if you plan ahead.

I'm just not positive it has won me over. But, I suppose, that is why we try new things. Don't know whether or not you'll like it until you try it!

Friday, January 1, 2016

More Garden Stuff

It has been brought to my attention that my main topic of conversation lately has been about my future garden.

This wasn't said in so many words, but events revealed it to be true.

Recently, I went to the pantry cupboard and found this onion.

I said, in what I thought was a proper tone of disgust, "One of my onions sprouted!"

Hubby, however, thought I was reporting an exciting event and asked why I'm growing onions inside the house.

In his defense, I was working on smuggling my Earth Box into the house last week to try to grow tomatoes. My plan stalled in the garage because it was too heavy for me to lift up the steps. It has since been wheeled back out to the shed.

After all, the seeds I planted in wee pots in my office haven't even sprouted yet!

In the mean time, planning continues.

While we were unpacking I found this old, unused notebook. The markings indicate it was made in France.

Why we have a French notebook is beyond me, but I'm not going to complain. It seems to be custom printed for Square Foot Garden planning!

It is printed with graph paper instead of just ruled lines. Much easier to draw garden plans.

I have transferred my notes over from the first notebook I was using, but have also realized it's time to reel myself in.

It is way to early to be thinking about my garden this much. In my growing zone, I won't even be starting seeds until March! All this planning and daydreaming is beginning to make me annoyed I can't start my garden right now.

This all means it's time to return the library books and revisit them in February.

I've also realized I'm going to have to scale back the planting plans for this year. There won't be much spring planting happening this first season. We didn't prep the garden plot when we first moved in, which means now we have to wait until the ground has thawed in the spring.

Oh well, at least I'm formulating these thoughts now. It will save me flailing around too much in the spring, when time will be of the essence.

Until then I'll knit, and plot where in the house I can start my seeds when the time comes!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Garden Planning Decisions

This morning I started telling hubby my thoughts and concerns about the garden.

After listening to me rattle on for a while he said, "I thought we were going to do a raised bed garden."

Um, what?

He want on to agree that we have poor soil and will have to add top soil to make the garden viable.

This all sounded very familiar. In fact, it was what I had decided to do after we nixed the greenhouse idea.

The books had led me astray! All my angst, research, and comparison shopping last night were unnecessary because we'd already decided on raised beds weeks ago.


We then went on to discuss what we would use for the frame (sides) of the raised bed. I had read online that wood will rot, although that seemed to be mainly in Florida, and the pre-fab frames I saw online were a little pricey. (In fact, the cost of the pre-fab frames was a factor in leading me to the idea of buying a bunch of Earth Boxes.)

After tossing around a few ideas, we settled on....cinder blocks. That came as quite a surprise to me. I figured hubby wouldn't want them because he would think it was ugly. He did say I should paint them to dress them up.

Hubby is very concerned that the garden doesn't turn into an eyesore. That is one of the reasons the promise of easy maintenance with Square Foot Gardening idea caught my eye.

But cinder blocks seem the easiest since we shouldn't have to dig trenches to sink them or put in supports. We're thinking we can just plunk them on the ground where we want them and move on. (We could be wrong.)

With all that settled, I can now move onto the fun of deciding just what I'm going to plant and when!
I think I will still use the principles of SFG to organize my garden.

Despite the fact that I'm supposed to start small, I think I will still want to start with two 4' x 4' beds. I really want to try growing asparagus, since it is our go-to green veggie, and it takes several years for it to get established. Therefore, I want to plant it right away.

In the mean time, I might use my current Earth Box for the herb garden. That might allow me to extend the life of the plants by bringing it into either the shed or the garage next winter.

Mint is the other random plant I know for sure I want to grow. I'm concerned about it being invasive. I think I will plant that in the big red pot I bought last year.

There are high expectations for the red pot. It has to be attractive, keep the mint contained, and also have enough room for a big, bushy mint plant.

I have to get mint for my cocktails from somewhere!