a cheerful volunteer

Posted on Posted in designing, food and garden, projects

after some beautiful festival weather, we are back to overcast chilly days. but this happy-faced daisy plant decided to grace us with something to smile about. neither of us remembers planting it so it must be a gift “dropped off” by a bird or squirrel. at any rate, it landed in a good spot in our back yard hosta bed so we will keep it, thank you very much.

but overcast and chilly isn’t all bad . . . it’s good weather for working outdoors and i got all the vegetable plants we have in the ground.

the bare spots await some plants that have not arrived yet (fingers rapping the desktop) from the organic grower in california (supposedly, they’ve had a lot of overcast weather too, and are shipping late). i hope they come soon; most of those are eggplant starts and they need time to grow.

but it’s good . . . the new garden setup is working out pretty well (i still wish i had more room for greens—i may have to see if i can wheedle david to dig up another patch somewhere). there is plenty of room for all the tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, herbs, and squash i wanted. i would love to have space to grow spinach and lettuces (omg, that sounded an awful lot like “i’d like to have space for just a few more balls of yarn . . .”).

(linda, i’m embarrassed to say these are not in the ground yet, but i plan to put them around the base of my little bay tree when i bring it outside this week. they still look happy though, right??)

we were quite torn about taking out the raised beds . . they’ve worked fairly-well for us for five years, producing nice growth, but our planting space was severely limited, we felt. we couldn’t put enough room between plants and wondered if the roots were able to go down far enough (the natural clay and stone-filled soil beneath the beds was like solid rock). hopefully everything will grow well in the new arrangement (in-ground planting).

i hope they will like it this way. these tomatoes are so gorgeous, aren’t they? there are buds already on them . . .

while i worked in the veggie patch last night i enjoyed the wan evening light setting these hardy geraniums to glowing a bit round the edges

these are my favorite cranesbill (i have many . . they are cheap, cheerful, and they grow anywhere, every year—what’s not to like?). i love the buds on those whitish-pink ones. the geranium sanguinaria should be along soon—those are red—and my other favorite.

ok, what about the knitting, you ask?
that’s been happening too. i’m working on a big piece that has to remain secret for a while, but making progress on the many socks i also started (even though i said i was happy working on one at a time, and would not get myself into a sock glut again. sigh.)

i’m working away on the second shifty sock and manon has completed a test knit which is looking very handsome on her hubby. the pattern is all set to go—i just need david to take a few photos. i’m aiming to release this one tonight.

i finished up the monarch caterpillar sock while knitting with debby the other night

it’s positively an invasion of them. i wanted to start the second matching one, but decided instead you’d rather see the sock knitted in the alternate colorway, wooly bear

(ooops, if you look out the window you can see my still-empty planters on the front stoop)
anyway, i’m doing this one in my size; it’s a more tonal mix of warm, rich, blendy colors, just like a real wooly bear would be. i know. you can’t see anything yet. but i have class today so i promise you will see some creepies tomorrow.

adam has the kits for this sock up for pre-ordering, and actually the pattern is done, too. as soon as this newest version is knit and we get some photos. we’ll be all set.

(i’m sensing a theme here of being behind on knitting and photos, hmmm. the thing is, i’m NOT. you should see how much knitting and patterning i’ve been doing. oh yeah, you can’t see that . . hehe.)

and then there are the diamanti—i tell you, it’s a new revelation every day with this pattern.
first i am lovin’, lovin’ the bamboo blend yarn—what was i thinking ignoring it so long (and i know david will like it too).
then, there is the experiment with the stitch motif—here’s my latest progress

i have both socks now past the heel. i knit them in the same pattern on the same needles with the same yarn. the only difference is that i flipped the stitch motif on the sock #2 (above, right), sensing that i might like it better (which i do). it looks much crisper and has more knit/purl contrast.

here’s what’s weird: i fully expected that if i looked at the socks from the reverse direction, the opposite would be true—that i would appreciate sock #1 more. after all, in the other direction, the knit/purl motif of sock of #1 will be the same as sock #2 (knits point UP, purls pointing down)

why then, when i flip them, does sock #2 still look lots crisper (and yes, better—i know it’s just a matter of taste, but bear with me) than sock #1??

i know that logically there is an answer to this . . . it is because of the way the knits and purls stack up . . . that is, they are not really identical when flipped. but—wow.
are you saying wow?? (i bet you are)
it’s a big visual difference, right?

and an interesting thing to ponder. let’s face it, david is NOT going to care which way the purls point, up or down. he likely won’t even notice that the two socks are different, and even if he did, he wouldn’t consider it worthy of actual comment.

but for us, it’s fascinating, right? we could probably get a several hours conversation out of this (oh yeah, i already am). i mean, considering that for top-down socks we are usually knitting motifs that will ultimately be viewed upside down, this is something to keep in mind.

ok, maybe it’s not such a big deal. good thing i have distractions

23 thoughts on “a cheerful volunteer

  1. I’m not putting my veggies out for another week; I’ve been burned by late frosts too many times here in New England, and I refuse to put them in before June 1. Greens and beans yes, vegetables no.

    But about the greens – if by ‘squash’ you meant summer squash, you can grow them vertically, or even on a lean-to frame, and grow the greens underneath. They’ll like the shade, the squash vines like to climb, and you’ll double your space.

    Window boxes work wonderfully for greens, too!

    Happy gardening (and your knitting is lovely, as always).

  2. That up-down thing is interesting. I knit most of my socks from the toe up because if I knit them from the top down I usually end up with socks about a 1/2″ too short because I rush into the toe shaping too early. I never thought to check if the pattern would look different if knit them other way. I am diving into my sock basket right now to check what I have on the needles.

  3. There’s a frost warning out for tonight here in southeast Michigan so I won’t be even shopping for plants until this weekend. We finished digging out the new garden space here at the new house. It’s about 1/5th the size of the old garden but hopefully having the backyard fenced will mean that we won’t lose everything to deer like we did last summer.

  4. That’s very puzzling, that the socks still look so different when flipped. Could it be that the difference is in the tension as you change from knit to purl and purl to knit? By flipping the pattern, have you relocated the transition points for knit to purl and purl to knit?

    For example, when I knit k1,p1 ribbing, the stitches come out perfectly even; but when I knit k2,p2 ribbing (or higher nos. of k stitches), I have to do a “short purl” (throw the yarn counterclockwise) at the transition between the last k and the first p to avoid getting a row of enlarged K stitches at the transition point.

    Regardless of the reason, I share your view that the second sock is the prettier one. Although David may not care about the “mismatch”, I’ll bet that he will notice. 🙂

  5. I do love a convenient volunteer. I actually have a large tree in my front yard that sprung up out of nowhere. It grew in exactly the spot I needed a tree but would never, ever have been able to plant one (tons of old, deeply rooted shrubs all around). My husband looked out one day and exclaimed, “Where’d that tree come from?!” He didn’t believe me when I told him a little birdie planted it.

  6. I’m with you on sock two — and the knit triangles blend so nicely into the toe! You are cruising on all of the sock patterns. The caterpillar socks are great fun 🙂 And the garden’s looking great. Would that I could be so productive!

  7. Yes, California is having overcast weather which is confusing the living snot out of me. Instead of 100+ weather this past weekend, it rained all three days and it is still grey and overcast. I am not complaining, just confused. I have never, ever seen rain in May in my life.

  8. Yup, we’re having icky overcast cold weather in NorCal (don’t know where you are at specifically Marji) – from record setting temps last weekend to 10 degrees below normal now. What a festive Memorial Day weekend (not). I’ve been wondering why my eggplants have not gotten any bigger since they sprouted, and my cukes haven’t even germinated (though the ones I started last week indoors have). CRAZY weather.

    Oh, and yeah, containers are great for lettuces, especially looseleaf varieties you can ‘cut and come again’. I have been amazed this year how easy it is to grow lettuce!

  9. I love and adore and covet (mightily) your pansies. I agree that sock two is much nicer than sock one and I am insanely curious about why exactly flipping it doesn’t just make it look if not the same, at least closer than that. Fascinating!

  10. You are absolutely right — I like sock #2 so much better, too, but can’t figure out whys of it either.

  11. how incredible the difference between the two stitch motifs for the bamboo socks. I too like the second one – seems sharper.
    So these are toe up eh? I wonder when (if?) I will get over my aversion to that method.. sigh.

  12. Wow, that’s a major difference. Thank you. I’ve been considering using just that kind of triangle pattern for a project and this is very helpful. As to why it happens, I don’t know but I think it has something to do with the slanted line where the knit triangles either take over from or sink into purl triangles. Generally blocks of knit stitches rise, blocks of purl stitches sink. When a knit stitch erupts from a purl, it rises higher and pushes the purl stitch next to it down a little. When a purl stitch follows a knit stitch, it pulls that previous knit stitch down a little, so both sink down. Or I may be talking through my hat.

  13. You have such interesting plants! I love all your flower pictures. As for greens, I just stick them in between the big plants in the springtime. My spinach and lettuce usually start to bolt right around when the tomatoes and squash take off, so I just take advantage of all that open space before they do. And it seems like the shade from the bigger plants keeps the lettuce going just a little bit longer.

    It’s fun to see how different the triangles are in the two socks. Huge difference, and you’re right; most guys probably wouldn’t even notice. But then, they’d be fine with plain socks, too. I think it’s pretty interesting how much difference the working direction makes, and it’s great to know when flipping patterns around for toe-up and cuff-down. Thanks for sharing your little knitting discoveries!

  14. Yes, the rightside-up/upside-down purl thing is totally amazing and fascinating. I could talk about it for a long time. And this is from someone who barely does knit/purl texture (I’m mostly a color grrl).

    I’m so glad you posted those photos. And you make me ashamed, how much gardening you can do in a weekend. Dang. I planted a packet of morning glory seeds and a packet of nasturtium seeds, and did a lot of weeding. Good thing we have a tiny lot.


  15. Your garden looks great, we are having weather that is up and down one day its in the 80’s and the next it drops to the 50’s and we get snow in the mountains. We are hoping that we can get our garden in soon.
    I ordered my monarch socks from Adam and can’t wait to get them. I like your sock #2 best also and I cant’t wait tell your done with that pattern.

  16. A couple of questions (I’m behind on my blog-reading, so apologies if you’ve covered this in a more recent post): do you always plant your veggies from, well, plants? Or do you sometimes sow seeds?

    Second: I looove the diamanti sock. Do you think the pattern would work as well with a tencel blend?

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