minding our beeswax

Posted on 37 CommentsPosted in designing, food and garden, projects

our poppies started blooming last week, about two weeks earlier than usual. and we have scads of them this year. today i went out to take some photos, i found a host of happy poppy appreciators visiting

honeybees positively swarming over them.

inside and out, these busy creatures were fighting over spots on the flowers

so drunk with whatever they found that they even stood still for photos, more times than not

and the sound—it finally feels like summer when the air hums like this.

actually, they were all over the place—some groups split off and found the slower pace around cranesbill a little more to their liking

the last few days sort of revolved around the garden—since it rained all week and we had just one nice day, i busted a move to get the garden in on wednesday night and thursday while we had a break.

fortunately, that was just enough time to plant all the vegetables i wanted to get in before the storms hit again. i even feel good about the way it’s organized

the stuff we’ll want to pick at for the kitchen—herbs, celery, scallions—are closest to the back door; the greens, beets, beans, okra, and root vegetables are in the middle, with the root vegetables mostly in hard-to-reach spots, where they can sit all summer undisturbed.

i even got myself organized enough to label all the seeded rows with markers—something i always mean to do and then get lazy about. which i regret later, because i can’t remember what’s what—not helpful when i want to know the specific names of varieties i liked best. i added the thinning info right on the stick so when the time comes, i won’t be wanting those seed packets i threw out, heh.

learning from experience = priceless.

i have a row of golden chard from starts that my friend kris gave me, which should be ready to eat before we know it. i’m drooling in anticipation . . .

along one one side we have some old planting boxes which i used for the hot peppers

and along the other side, we totally revamped the asparagus bed one more time, amended the soil, and replanted afresh (except for this one healthy root from a previous year, which we kept). fingers crossed, this time it will take. our soil is rather heavy, but i found some roots that are bred for these conditions, so maybe they will like it.

we rotated the tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant to the back this year and the tomatoes have already doubled in height (or more, i think) since we bought them one week ago.

i’m trying something new with the green and yellow squash; something i’ve been wanting to do for a couple of years. i noticed that our squash always grow in the same direction, toward the front lawn, overtaking anything in their path. last year they ended up mowing over half of my greens.

i saw a couple of times where squash plants were used as decorative plantings in front of office buildings or nurseries and i liked that idea (i’ve seen chard used that way too, and i’m plotting . . ). i asked david to dig up planting spots for them on the “lawn” side of the path, so they can grow toward the lawn and away from the other plants. he’s been doubtful about the idea, wondering however he’ll mow around them, but says “we can try it”. i think it’s going to be splendid to have those bright yellow squash flowers facing the street.

hopefully, this will not be the year they decide to grow in retrograde, haha.

we’ll put the mulching and soaker hoses in this week—the forecast is for about ten straight days of nice weather, perfect for the seeds to sprout and take off.

speaking of david, another surprise popped up in the yard that i almost missed.

i love iris and we finally have some, yay!
our honeysuckle vine seems to be responding to the copious rain in the right way, too

a few big blooms opened up today.
and that apple tree david pruned back is covered with fruit, too; maybe some of it will even make it onto our table in the fall

our limited experience of tasting them has been wonderful and we’d love to have more.

with all that going on, i haven’t gotten a ton of knitting done. i wrote the pattern for the baby sweater and sent it off for tech editing and sizing. i also finished the hat to go with it

it’s kind of a dough-boy shape; i like it. we’re hoping the set will fit susan’s grandson so he can wear it for a photo shoot. i decided on a name i like, borrowed from beckie’s husband—he calls their grandson “inky dinky” and i was so taken with that idea that i wanted it for the sweater set.

other than that, i don’t have much. i started a big secret project and have been working on my longjohn sock rather sporadically . . .

i should be able to get back to it with some energy this week, now that the baby set is done.
i’m swatching for new projects too; i need to get going on a shawl, another baby blanket, and that sweater with the spirit trail yarn. i’m also totally out of portable small project to take on my travels in the coming weeks; i’m thinking that another scarf or two and a sock should be on my to-do list (you know, in my copious free time . . .)

we did nice photo shoot over the weekend of the campanula scarf at our favorite nursery with beckie showing it off to great advantage; i ahve to edit the hots, but it’s looking good for getting that pattern out on tuesday or wednesday this week.

ok, that’s enough chatter for today; i think it’s time to knit, don’t you?

port ludlow sock

Posted on 26 CommentsPosted in patterns

oh you sock knitters; you convinced me.
(sorry scarf knitters, i just didn’t get to do photos today; we’ll have to release campanula in a couple of days. i promise, those photos are the very next on my list).

but here’s one of them anyway . . . for me this sock just sparkles with the feeling of being waterside—the abundant light, the sounds, the stones and shells, and the shapes of the lapping ocean—i love them all. and then there are the memories of camp, sigh.
a fun, fun pattern to knit that looks WAY more complex than it is; it’s a great summer sock project. just ask gail—she’s making two pair already!

shown here in size small and knit in blue moon fiber arts socks that rock® lightweight, colorway lodestone, a deliciously cool, lemon-sherbet colorway.

to purchase pattern or view complete pattern information, please click here to visit the product page in the knitspot pattern shop.

this completes my latest episode of “love letter to tina“, being the third sock in a row i’ve knit in her fun and fabulous socks that rock® yarn. but i promise, it won’t be my last; i’m not “taking a break” or anything like that. thank you tina for a wonderful week at camp; it was my first and i hope it won’t be the last.

once again agnes rocked the test knit for this sock; she works so fast it makes my head spin—thank you agnes, you are super-duper!

not to be outdone, gail joined in and knit two different sizes for her test pairs—how lucky are we? gail, i HEART you!

my fabulous friend kim pulled out all the stops to work the socks for a splendid at the tidepools in la jolla, with an audience of curious tourists (and jocelyn and beckie to heckle her), no less (she can handle it, though).

and though we’re not in california any more (pout), i am delighted to treat you to more of those dazzling views and textures found only on the west coast.

ready for cuteness overload?

Posted on 99 CommentsPosted in designing, food and garden, projects

we are drowning.
well okay, maybe not drowning, but wow, we’ve had a LOT of rain this week. i wanted to get out to plant seeds in the garden when i got home from san diego, but it’s been a no-go so far, which is one reason we haven’t had a garden post in a while.

(the plants i bought sunday are lovin’ it; they were singing show tunes about rain when i went out to take pictures . . . i hope they feel the same once they’re planted in the ground).

maybe later today . . . the sun has been out for a whole five minutes just now and if that keeps up, i could work outside for a while after i finish my pattern this afternoon.

all of the perennials are showing off their best stuff right now—it’s that time of year when the leaves are new and bright and full, unscathed by slugs and dryness. epimedium are so gratifying to grow—they just get better every year and come in so many interesting varieties.

obviously, i like things with weird coloring and the added benefit of having them is that brighter plants light up the dark areas of the yard, even on a dreary day like this (or maybe especially on a day like this).

the huechera are busting out this year with their best displays ever (i have four or five different varieties out there). i think they’ve finally matured into the “fully mounding” plants they are supposed to be (i love how plant labels tell us that stuff, but not how long it will take a plant to achieve it).

there is a LOT of green too, don’t get me wrong, haha. i try to break it up as much as possible without it looking like a circus out there, but the hostas dominate at least one area of the back yard and i like that.

my plan to encourage the strawberries to spread outside the garden and take over our [so-called] lawn seems to be working—they have multiplied well on “the other side of the fence” and it looks like we can expect a nice little crop of fruit.

so that’s the garden today—so much bigger than the last time we visited it.

are you ready for the cuteness? not yet?
okay, we’ll look at some blocking shots first, because i know you like those, too. i finally finished campanula and yesterday, while it rained, i blocked it.

really, this cashmere lace yarn from great northern yarns is so beautiful; incredibly well-behaved and well-engineered. when i soaked it, all the spinning oil came out and it bloomed a bit and turned soft as a dove.

it is not a cashmere yarn that turns limp and lifeless when wet-blocked; it keeps its shape perfectly well and continues to show that fabulous stitch definition that makes this pattern pop. truly luxurious.

readers sometimes ask me how i use blocking wires; i think they can seem awkward when you are new to them. the answer is—patience. using the wires is not really faster than pinning; there is quite a bit of setup time involved (which i happen to enjoy).

i thread the wires in and out of each row along the sides of the piece, which in this case are garter edges with alternating purl bumps, which makes working with a piece in very fine yarn a little easier.

after pinning out a center point on each of the four sides, i just measure from the edge of the carpet to get one straight edge, then i pin out the others based on that one. i’m not really super picky about getting it perfect; life is too short. eyeballing the overall result works pretty well for me (but then, i’ve been measuring things for a living most of my life; i should have well-developed skills. hecklers, have at it).

it takes even very fine cashmere yarn a long time to dry and with the chilly, wet weather, the wait seemd interminable. but finally this morning it was ready. i unpinned the gossamer thing from its mooring on the floor and gave it a whirl on the dress form (and a few other places around the house).

it drapes into the most luscious folds

not the collapsing kind that get flat after a minute or two, but nice rounded ones that hold their shape, surrounding the form with lovely curls of pure softness and light

it has luxurious substance and yet

it is sheer as a veil.
hopefully we’ll get some nice modeling shots before friday; i’m trying to decide which pattern to release first, the port ludlow sock or this scarf . . . let me know which you want.

okay, need a little break after that? maybe a cigarette?
cuz i’ve got cuteness for you and i want you to be totally ready (we’ll wait).

are you ready?
maybe you need a little ramp-up . . .

the hat i’m knitting to match the sweater is on the needles. i didn’t get all that far because it was very late last night when i started. i spent most of last evening finishing the sweater and this morning i sprang out of bed so i could block it (well, “sprang” might be an exaggeration, but i was excited).

i decided a little steam blocking would be just right—even though this is knit in one piece, i was able to lay it flat enough, one part at a time, to block the openwork areas.

it still needs the underarm seams to be stitched up; i’ll do those this evening. i left the garter areas mostly alone, except for the collar

after it was all steamed and looking pretty, it looked even better than i’d been imagining it

it needed buttons though, so i took out my myriad button boxes to see if i had something on hand. i don’t want buttons that compete too much with the textured fabric.

i found these, which i like a lot because they’re simple and they are a perfect match for one of the colors in the yarn. i’ve had them since the year one; i don’t even remember where they came from, but that’s the point of keeping a button box, right?

at this angle i like them a lot, with the light illuminating them. they seem plenty fancy and they glide very easily in and out of the buttonholes (important when performing this trick on a wriggling baby).

my other choice is very cute, but i hesitate—these perl grey bee buttons would be murder for a busy parent to fuss with (and maybe too textured for the fabric). on the other hand, they do lend a certain humor to the sweater and if i go with a honeycomb-ish name, they’ll be perfect. so i may use them just for photography in the end.

i dunno, what do you think? are these too plain? i love that they add a very straightforward touch to this jacket, like it’s saying: “yeah, i’m wearing lace, but don’t even think you can mess with me”.

but i digress; let’s get back to the cuteness—i WUV this thing!
it’s just what i wanted; now i have to think of a good name . . .

i’m working on the pattern and when i’m done, it has to go to tana for sizing and tech editing and after her, it has to be test knit. so it’ll be a little while before it’s published, but hopefully, not too long.

it’s a slo-o-ow day

Posted on 26 CommentsPosted in designing, projects, spinning and fiber

this series of “franklin” photos is worth a thousand words for how i feel today

though today is MUCH better than yesterday

beckie and i agreed that the first day back was like being under water . . .

spinning class was a bit of a blur, though i know we laughed plenty

a ride to the nursery to buy garden plants helped

we found most of what we needed (though they were pretty low on plants)

i kept catching myself gazing intently at nothing

and it was a huge stretch to get motivated even for that.

afterward, all i could manage was a long nap.

you’d think a little dinner would perk me up, but i hardly tasted it

and i wasn’t much of a conversationalist either

david had to do all the chatting (you can imagine how well that worked out)

i do feel a little more alive today; enough to get through email, take pictures, and talk about knitting at least. thank you for all the nice compliments about my new shoes—i wasn’t expecting such a reaction.

while not a fan of maryjanes and never able to wear these rubbery outdoor shoes comfortably (most run way too wide), i found a pair i liked while shopping in la jolla last week. they are ahnu brand and i don’t know that name of the store we were in, sorry.

the most important thing is—they are green.

today i assembled all my knitting projects for photos and realized that despite all the running around we did, i made a LOT of progress on them while i was in san diego. it’s a great feeling to end a vacation with.

let’s start with the baby sweater . . .
i have two sleeves finished and started the body. i had it further along actually, but ripped it back last night to make the garter panels at the side seams a little narrower; i didn’t like them as much before (and it’s not that much to go back and fix).

the knitting notions classic merino sport is knitting up as beautifully in this project as it did for the blanket and i just love this pear colorway.

it’s not the greatest day for taking photos (rainy and dark), but it’s a lively spring green with dashes of blueish green and yellow green in it; a nice, complex semi-solid that is soft as butter.

i need to start thinking about buttons for the front . . . not sure what i want. we visited as cute as a button in point loma last week, but didn’t see anything there that seemed right.

we did, however, get completely sidetracked in the vintage-and-discontinued button section, where we found boxes of items that are not on the website; you have to visit the studio to see them (by appt; please call ahead). obviously, i’m a sucker for natural buttons in horn, antler, and shell—i’m always in need of smaller sizes, too, so these were perfect.

but i still need something for the little sweater . . .

here’s a sock project i’ve been keeping to myself for a while and i don’t really know why—roger socks in lorna’s laces yarn; a new colorway called catalpa, designed by amanda. i fell in love the instant i saw it—i find yellow/gray mixes extremely attractive (and when they also have a little green added, well . . .). when beth asked if she could send a skein of something, i didn’t even hesitate to pick this color.

i love lorna’s laces sock yarns; they wear like iron. david has a couple of pairs that are old, but still look new and are without any thin spots. that’s saying something, let me tell you. so i thought it was time i had my own pair. i don’t have any rogers, so i decided to cast on for those. that was in january, heh. i took them along on my trip and finished the first one, then cast on right away for the second one. love them; they are wonderful traveling companions. i’ll probably finish them up on my next trip.

i made some project on the longjohn socks in shalimar zoe, too—this one is going a little more slowly, maybe because it’s bigger and the fabric is more tightly knit. i think i’m over the hump on it now—i was able to get to the heel and that is usually the turning point for me (no pun intended), where my speed picks up in anticipation of reaching the end. the cayenne colorway gets more attractive as the sock gets bigger, too—at least all the flight attendants think so . . .

it was fun that all three of us were knitting longjohns last week. ok, maybe it’s dorky to take such pleasure in that, but i do; it makes me smile to myself every time i think about the three of us knitting the same socks together.

sue me.

see that?? it’s the light at the end of the tunnel. my cherry blossom cashmere lace yarn is getting low—that means my camapnula scarf must be getting close to done.

i’ve finished almost 25 repeats, which was the number i estimated i’d need to make a 32-inch length, unblocked. it looks like i’ll be on target to get that length, but i might go a little longer. the scarf will grow about 30 percent in blocking, and i like these little ones to be around 42-45 inches. but i may add a couple repeats to make sure i end up closer to 45 inches.

at any rate, i’m almost there. the pattern is written and proofed and waiting for a finished photo. once we have that, it will be all set for release. i’m hoping to finish today in class and maybe block it tomorrow.

craig has received his shipment of lace cashmere in the heathered colorways he’s been talking about and they are just lovely. my favorite is that root beer colorway on the left—a natural brown/gray mix. also pictured are magenta, blue iris, and charcoal (in the sport/DK weight).

later in the summer, i’d like to use the brown mix to design a new shawl—i don’t think i’ve done a pattern with a natural colorway yet (and i love them so!)

speaking of yarn, i actually received several new samples just before i went away and prepared a little yarn parade for today.

from chris at briar rose fibers, a stunning new merino/silk blend, with a twist that promises nice stitch definition and high gleam. this unusual copper-and-deep forest colorway is really intriguing, too. you will find this yarn in her booth at regional wool shows; it won’t be on her site yet (but with the right encouragement, it might eventually, hehe).

and then there is her new polwarth spinning fiber, which IS available on her site. something to spin on my new wheel, once i finish the cream romney i’m spinning on my schacht wheel.

one last beautiful yarn i have to show you is a handspun alpaca from bolivia, imported and sold by hope fibers in four natural shades and two yarn weights (worsted and bulky). traci is experimenting with bringing in some naturally-dyed colorways as well—you can see more and order a color card from her etsy shop.

well, i have a class coming in just a few hours and i think before they get here, i should engage in some strenuous exercise to get my blood circulating (i don’t think more knitting or another nap is what i need right now, haha; i might get stuck).