Wednesday WIPS

I’ve picked up knitting my 2 Spooky hat again. I’m now on the crown decreases. Maybe I’ll finish it today?

I dyed this Virginia cotton canvas and am planning to sew another pair of Free Range Slacks, this time in the wide leg, cropped version. I need some beach pants for an upcoming trip to Michigan.

I’ve almost finished spinning my Pumpkins for Sale BFL. I’m going to try chain plying. Liz says I can keep it a gradient that way.

I harvested most of the Anaheims. I’m going to de-seed and de-vein them, and freeze them. I also harvested the indigo. I’m drying the leaves so I can dye with them later.

It stayed in the mid 50s today, which is cold for this time of year — even for me! I’m not complaining.

Wednesday WIPS

Sewing

Bob’s shirt is coming along. Just buttonholes and buttons to do now.

Knitting

I’ve finally cast on the Ghost Knitter’s Shawl from Ambah O’Brien. I’m looking forward to knitting a triangle in yarn that glows under a black light. I’m using one of my Gloomy Erina sparkly coffin progress keepers from the Autumn Yarn Mystery Box.

Natural Dyeing

I hapazome dyed some flowering indigo onto more Virginia cotton canvas. Is this a WIP? I guess so, since I’ll likely sew project bags with it for the shop. Unfortunately, the flowers didn’t stay purple after washing. They are still a lovely apricot color.

Gardening

I stuck some Yukon Gold potato eyes into some dirt, and now I have potato plants! My plan is to winter them indoors as a houseplant and then plant them in a potato bin in spring.

What are you working on this week?

Garden Update: Positivity Edition

It has been a weird and wet summer, and my garden didn’t produce much. But let’s focus on the positive, shall we?

The indigo is doing well. I’ve got two different species, apparently. I’m using one for eco printing on fabric and the other for vat dyeing — yarn probably. It will be my first indigo dye vat. This was not the plan. It’s how I’m rolling with what is.

Sweet Woodruff

My sweet woodruff is doing well. If it survives the winter, I will be good for May Wine again next year. The soapwort is alive but struggling to get established. The hops are scrappy. I have no doubt they will be dominant up the back part of the garden next year, which is great because it’s clay and nothing grows back there.

Sweet Genovese Basil

The basil and Anaheim chilis have stolen the show this year. I’ve made pesto, ingredients below:

  • Fresh basil leaves, washed
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic cloves
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Roasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds
  • Kosher salt

I don’t have a recipe. I made it “by guess and by gosh” like my Grandma. (By guess I made it and by gosh you’d better eat it!) I don’t really care if anyone else eats it, though. More for me!

Making my own pesto allows me to eliminate ALL THE THINGS I can’t have, and make substitutions: nutritional yeast for Parmesan, sunflower and pumpkin seeds for pine nuts. My recipe is basically to keep adding things to the food processor until it looks right and tastes good. Helpful, right?

I love Anaheim chilis. I started growing them when I lived in San Diego. Bob made enchilada pie yesterday with the first batch. We’re not sure if we will dry the rest, or use them in another recipe. We probably have enough to do both. I’ll let those remaining on the plants turn red so we can dry them.

I’m thinking about next year’s garden already. Here’s my plan:

  1. A good end of season weeding in the fall. (It’s a jungle out there.)
  2. Plant some greens in the mini greenhouse again this fall. They did well last year.
  3. Let the plants that are doing well reseed themselves wherever they want. (I don’t have any hybrids right now.)
  4. Try again next year with tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and peppers from the nursery.

The thing about getting plants from the local nursery is they are not only hardier than the seedlings I grow myself, they are also better suited to our planting zone. I usually buy my seeds from Seed Savers Exchange because they’re heirloom varieties, but I’m learning they don’t all grow well here.

How is your garden this year? Are you getting much of a harvest? Are you planning next year’s garden yet?

Year of Projects Week 5/52 — Tansy Hapazome

Fiber Art / Natural Dyeing

I managed to get out into the garden this morning to weed and noticed it’s time to harvest the tansy! Tansy is one of those dye plants with natural tannins like indigo, so it doesn’t need a mordant. I decided to test a Hapazome print on the edges of my remaining indigo printed Virginia cotton.

I’m pleased with how this came out. Now I need to decide if I want to continue to print on this fabric, or order more. I think I will order more, as I want to experiment with black walnut leaves and iron mordant.

I may also kettle dye some Virginia cotton and wool yarn with tansy this week. Since this blend of fibers doesn’t take readily to acid dyes or fiber reactive dyes for plant fibers, a natural dye pot may be just the thing it needs!

My flax is also ready to harvest. There are a few stalks that are already too far gone with ripe seed heads, but most is still ok. So that’s another fiber art project this week.

Knitting

I’m super close to finishing my Halloween Livie shawl. One more section then bind off!

Sewing

I should finish my Gather dress and Bob’s Marvel shirt this week.

Spinning

Since I came down with Covid, I didn’t spin for the last week of Tour de Fleece. I need to oil my wheel and get back to spinning.

This has been a Year of Projects (YOP) update. You can read my updated list here, and my original list at this link. You can find out more about the group on Ravelry or Backstage Kath’s YOP bloggers list.

Thorsday Garden Update

The Calendula is one of the few plants thriving in the garden this year.

I’m finally starting to get Tansy buttons! I look forward to dyeing with these.

The flax is going gangbusters. It’s close to time to harvest!

The dye plants that survived the spring slugs are doing well: indigo, madder, and black hollyhocks. The soapwort survived the transplant. I’ve even got a secret okra plant!

I haven’t seen any frogs in a few days. I hear them singing in the woods, though. Maybe it’s mating season?

It’s a Jungle Out There

You know how they say when you time travel you shouldn’t change anything, because you could change everything that follows? The same is true of nature. If you change the habitat, for example add a little pond for frogs to eat your slugs, you might end up with water spiders.

Water spiders?! Yes, water spiders. I have yet to identify this one. I thought maybe it was dead. It was nearly as big as my little frogs. Then I googled “water spiders” and found out there are indeed water spiders that eat tadpoles. Oh no you don’t. I scooped it up and put it in the grass. Are those baby spiders on its back? Is this a wolf spider? I see they do that. Anyway, no frogs for you!

The raccoons had a holiday weekend hootenanny last night. Drunk on hummingbird nectar, they had the bright idea to tear my National Wildlife Federation birdhouse off of the tree! and pry open the metal plate on the back! presumably to get to wren eggs. Impressive! But the joke is on you, masked bandits. Wrens make dummy nests! No eggs for you!

I think today I’ll stay safe and cool inside and work on my Halloween cardigan. We are watching Joe Bob’s Last Drive In — Uncle Sam because that’s what we do.

Garden Meanderings

No finished objects this week. I haven’t been feeling well, and haven’t even been knitting very much. I’m better today, and spent the morning in the garden. I planted several soapwort plants. Also known as Bouncing Bet, I love their happy pink flowers. I used to make my own shampoo with soapwort, and that is my plan. Hopefully the critters will leave them alone. I planted them in different places, in an attempt to confuse and outsmart whatever it is that is digging up my plants. (Commence John Belushi swat team maneuvers.)

Mama Wren has been looking after her eggs in our felt caravan birdhouse. This couple was trying to make a nest in the porch eave on top of a hook, silly birds. So we moved the birdhouse over and they got the hint. I think this must be the same wrens that made a nest in the dryer vent last year.

We moved their nest, which we found out later we were not supposed to do, to a coiled recycled silk birdhouse. They did use it last year and I enjoyed hearing the babies cheeping away in there. That nest is empty now, so I’m going to clean the birdhouse out and try to find a place for it next year.

The soil along the back of the garden wall is mostly clay. I can’t get anything to grow back there, so I’ve moved some daylilies. I think they should do nicely there, and I’m seeing that others are hapazome printing with daylily flowers. I will give it a try today.

My dye plants are doing mostly ok. Only one Hopi Black Sunflower is still alive, but it has two stalks, so I’m praying for flowers and seeds for next year. The Black Hollyhocks are looking good, but still small. They are biennial and won’t flower until next year. Always a favorite, the calendula are starting to flower now. The indigo and madder are healthy but little. And I learned I can eco print with borage flowers. I love the little blue flowers, and they reseed themselves, so I have a few starting to bud now. The tansy is ready to flower and I should be able to dye with them this year.

I replanted flax in the same spot and it’s doing well. I will try processing it into linen one more time. Here’s hoping I ret it and don’t rot it, like I did last year.

I hid okra in the flax. Shock and awe!

In other news, gluten-free sourdough starter is taking over my life. I will start keeping it in the fridge during the week. I made some gluten-free sourdough muffins with it yesterday, and boy were they good with butter and marmalade! Bob is going to make sourdough pizza crust today.

Bleautiful yarn heading back home today!

Bonjour. Je m’appelle M. Croque

Liz at Highland Heffalump suggested I get a wee pond to possibly attract a frog to eat our plethora of slugs. I thought that was worth a try, so I picked up a small pond from the home improvement store and installed it yesterday. While digging the hole in the garden, I disturbed a frog already in residence! Luckily, it came back. Meet Monsieur Croque!

No, this is not a joke about the French being frogs. I love the French, and French Canadians! I took French for six years in my youth. This is a joke about the dish Croque Monsieur.

Anyway, here’s hoping Monsieur (or Madame) Croque finds the new habitat to its liking. I’m watching for mosquito larvae but hoping those will get eaten as well. If not, I’ll have to clean it regularly, or install a small circulator. I ordered a toad house, and the pond is sheltered in the shade of the Elderberry bush.

I love toads and frogs. I thought I was going to have to go tadpole hunting like I did when I was a kid. I love that M. Croque (to be known simply as Croque going forward) was already enjoying the slug buffet.

I’m not sure what type of frog Croque is. What do you think? Maybe a Cricket Frog?

You and Me Against the Slugs: Wednesday WIPs

One Blueberry Popover Day striped sock

While this sock may look like an FO (finished object) I can assure you it is a WIP (work in progress) as it is awaiting its mate. I have cast on the second sock, but I’m still on the cuff ribbing. If it were Friday, I would have posted it as an FO, because that’s how I roll.

The only other things I’ve been working on are my knitting design and dyeing for my summer yarn mystery box. These are top secret, so I can’t post pics. Today I’ll be typing up the pattern and starting the project bags. Later this afternoon I hope to get back to knitting on my Pumqueen Cardi.

I went out to the garden to check on the new plants, and so far, so good. We have so many slugs, though. Last year, the beer traps worked about 80% of the time. But as I mentioned before, not all slugs are dumb. This morning I was quoting the movie Tremors, “This one ain’t falling for it. This one ain’t dumb.” I think the dumb slugs (or beer loving slugs?) have now been excluded by natural selection. I never put out the Escar-go! because it can harm small animals. I don’t want anything like that in my garden. If I depended on my garden for food, I would take more drastic measures.

Speaking of horror, I’ve started a new-to-me folk horror series by Phil Rickman. I am liking it! I have been struggling with reading lately, so it’s good to find an author and series that I like.

We’ve been to Cleveland and back, and had a really nice stay for Peyton’s graduation weekend. While there, I stopped by Longtail Knits and picked up this beautiful shawl pin that is perfect for my Ocean Moon shawl! We also ate delicious gluten-free crepes, and I had a gluten free scone at a coffee shop. Here’s an adorable pic of Bob and his Mom!

Yes, Peas!

These are the first peas from my garden. They are delicious! I grew snap peas this year and their pods are a little more tender than the English peas.

Many of my garden plants haven’t fared well this year. Between the slugs and the groundhogs (and critters unknown) I’ve lost herbs, peppers, beans, Hopi Black Sunflowers, all of my okra starts, and my cucumber and zucchini are holding on for dear life. I picked up a few plants today that I’m hoping will be grown enough to withstand the onslaught: peppers, cilantro, basil, and dill. Everything has a cage around it.

My Blue Flax is flowering from the Spring Thaw box. 💙