Mostly Gardening with a Side of Sock Knitting and Podcasting: A YOP Update

I’ve started a new pair of socks for myself. I’m in love with this yarn, which is Honeybees and Violets Please from Bone and Birch. Other than the socks, I’m knitting on my Hansel Hap. I’ve just about talked myself into focusing on the Arrowhead Cardigan instead of casting on a new one, so that I can wear it in the fall.

My garden is exploding. This is the middle, where there’s a lot going on. I accidentally broke off a pea shoot yesterday while weeding, so I ate it. It was delicious!

Full length of the garden. Elderberries in front. I’m not sure how well they’ll do here, but we’ll give it a try. The sunflower transplants are struggling in the back. I found out what happened to all my seedlings back there. Slugs!

For Mother’s Day and my birthday, Bob put together a flower bed for me out of some old wood he found in the barn. We went to the local garden center yesterday, and while I did get the foxgloves and coral bells I wanted to attract hummingbirds, the bed is looking a little sparse. We’ll see how these do. The smaller two are ground cover, so maybe they’ll spread out.

I did get the lilac bush I wanted, and a rose bush too! I didn’t really want yellow roses, but these had the best scent so I couldn’t resist. I also got hollyhocks, coneflowers, and a Joe Pye Weed for under the bird feeders.

I’m trying out wool pellets in the lilac and rose bush plantings to condition the soil, along with some compost. I’d like to add the wool pellets to the vegetable garden, but I’m going to wait until it needs a feed.

These lilacs smell so good! I have a small bouquet by my bedside.

My new podcast episode is up for The Just Craft! I had a wonderful visit at Tarheelbilly Farm, and am releasing the episode in two parts. I am so grateful to Charis and her husband Ben for spending time with me. It was a lovely day.

The sheep in front is Hollis, whose fleece I knit my Paris Toujours Shawl with. I met Hollis! And a few other shweeties as well.

This is Charis’s hand knit sweater she made with her Tunis yarn. She spun the contrasting gray herself. It’s so squishy and lovely!

And I got a sweater quantity of yarn! I had already purchased two skeins of Clancy’s fleece, and the eight new skeins are from Julie. They are close enough that I think I could use them together if needed. Because I don’t want to dye the yarn and loose the sheep smell, I’ve decided to knit it au naturel into a cabled cardigan. And because I was so pleased with the Franca I knit for my Mom, I’ve decided to knit Kiki by Cocoknits.

This has been a Year of Projects Update. You can read my updated list here. You can find out more about the group here.

Well, That Was Fast: Garden Update

My first squash blossom popped up in the garden this morning. And chipmunks are enjoying our ripe strawberries, the little rascals. But overall, the garden is doing well, I’ve noticed some things are not coming up when I planted them by seed. Critters are probably eating them. Since my Irish Eyes Sunflowers are not making it, and I have LOTS of volunteer sunflowers coming up under the bird feeders, I decided to move some of them to the garden proper along the back wall. I also planted an extra zucchini and yellow cherry tomato under the bird feeders, which the critters will enjoy, I’m sure. It’s near the septic, so we won’t be eating anything out of that garden.

On the knitting front, I’ve decided to cast on one size down on Skipwith, which should result in a 42″ circumference, which is about 2 inches of ease for me. I’ll play close attention to row gauge and the length measurements.

I’ve been working on the next episode of The Just Craft when I can. I had a wonderful trip to Tarheelbilly Farm, and will share photos when the episode goes live, hopefully this weekend.

Work is keeping me busy what with catching up from my vacation, and lots of night meetings this week!

Also, we have a fat raccoon who is eating bird seed like potato chips and washing it all down with hummingbird nectar. And something left its calling card on our porch table last night. What is it? We thought these were from a raccoon, but now I’m not so sure.

Hi! Vacation Day 1 – All The SQUIRREL!

Today is the first day of a badly needed week of vacation. And… I have cast on block. I have so many things I want to cast on, I don’t know what to knit first.

Short List:

1. Arrowhead Cardigan – Colorwork and it’s a great week to pay attention. It’s cast on and ready in my basket. (All links are Ravelry links.)

2. Vintersol Sweater – My yummy new yarn is calling to me.

3. Celtic Myths Shawl – Cables and it’s a good week to pay attention. I’m so close to finishing it. I think I will try to knock it out.

4. Hansel Hap – since the start of this will be good TV knitting, I will cast this on later in the week so I have it ready when I go back to work and need evening wind-down knitting. The Ramsay Farm Shetland yarn is calling to me. So squishy and smells so good!

5. New socks for Bob. One should always have a pair of socks on the needles.

6. New socks for me. I have some very springy sock yarn I would like to knit into some shorties.

7. Onipa’a Shawl: “Stand Firm, Resolute. Be true to yourself.” I did and I was. I fell in love with this pattern and bought some gorgeous Finn and Kid Mohair yarn from Mindful Folk Farm during Botanica last weekend, dyed with Logwood, to knit it with. It’s gorgeous. Early birthday gift to myself.

8. Skipwith Cardigan: Number 1 in my queue because I would like to wear this and soon. It’s a fingering weight cardi. Even if I do cast on, is that likely to happen? 🙃

Okay, see now I’m overwhelmed and don’t know what to do.

In other news, it’s taking me forever to finish the body of my Anker’s Summer Shirt. “Just a few more inches,” “Just a… few… more inches!” “Ok, two more inches!” “One and a half more inches!” At least it’s short sleeved.

Things are popping up in the garden! It’s getting a little chilly at night and I’m worried. Hopefully the microclimate is a real thing and not a mass delusion by overeager gardeners in northern climes.

Last week I toodled around town with family that was visiting, and bought this pillow in a little shop. JoJo is not as amused as I am, but she does love our new-to-us couch.

Pete has emerged from hibernation. I planted all kinds of flower seeds here, but so far the only thing to emerge are volunteer sunflowers from the bird feeder. I think there are a few sweet peas, too.

Right! Time to sew a dress! 😂

Oh, yeah, I have art to make. 🤣

Wednesday WIPs

I am in love with my current WIP. The yarn is scrumptious and I love the texture. I’m ready to start the raglan increases. I’m excited, because I may actually be able to wear this soon! Just keep knitting…

I did a little research, and confirmed my suspicions that my garden is a microclimate. It is a south facing garden enclosed in concrete, which heats up quickly and releases the heat more slowly overnight. With this knowledge, I decided to go ahead and plant my seedlings. We did purchase a tarp to put over the garden when the overnight temps go lower than 40 degrees, which it is supposed to do Friday.

I saw a calendula sprout this morning when I was watering. It made me happy. We have so many peas sprouting up! I also planted strawberries on the other side of the garden where I have wanted strawberries since we moved in. I thinned the kale seedlings, and boy were they happy I did that. The survivors grew visibly overnight! I’ve got arugula/rocket popping up, too.

Kids are coming this weekend to help us dig out tree stumps and turn the far end of the garden. We’ll add some soil and maybe a little sand, and plant my flax garden there. I planted indigo and madder close to the end, and will plant some tansy seeds as well. I’m excited for my little dye garden.

That’s really all I’ve been working on. I want to cast on some socks for Bob and sew another raglan dress, but I have my monthly felt piece to finish first! It’s almost May! Yikes!

Virtual Travel and a YOP Update

I’ve started signing up for virtual travel events. I guess cabin fever is finally getting to me. Last night I attended a Barn Chat with Wing and a Prayer Farm that featured Gudrun Johnson and MJ Mucklestone sharing information on their knitting trips to Shetland. I missed this at Knit City Virtual, so was glad to get a second chance.

Today I attended a Spring Skye Woolly Meander. This was a warm and welcoming group that gathered for a virtual trip of the Isle of Skye. I was very unsocial, which I felt bad about, but I didn’t expect to be on camera as I was still in my pjs! But it was a beautiful event and Bob and I are looking forward to visiting Scotland in real life someday. I also learned about Shilasdair Yarns, so that’s on my yarn wishlist now.

Speaking of yarn, I purchased new yarn from Wing and a Prayer Farm for my Vintersoll (Rav link). My gauge swatch worked out. This yarn is a treat to knit with. It’s called Thelma and Louise and is naturally dyed and toothy but soft. I can’t wait to cast on. I love this golden color called Dawn achieved with onion skins and madder root,which will be the main color of the sweater.

But first I want to finish my Anker’s Summer Shirt (Rav link) in Blacker Lyonesse, which is also a very nice yarn to work with in wool and linen. The color is Serpentine.

I finished knitting my Water shawl (Rav link). It’s a lovely pattern and an enjoyable knit once you get the rhythm of it. Yarn is Quince and Co Finch in Bird’s Egg.

Gardening news: the peas are up!

Garden is Ready, Overalls Not

Bob finished adding the rest of the soil to the garden and also finished my snaky path for me.

We’ve really come a long way on the garden. We left the far end as is because there are trees down there and Bob wants to try to pull them out. I can’t wait for seeds to start popping up. Then I’ll have a better idea of where the rest of the herbs and veggies should go.

I made progress on my overalls today. Why is it so tough to get a decent sewing WIP photo? I’m going to have to follow more sewists on Instagram for inspiration.

I haven’t clipped the crotch seam yet, which is why it’s a little bunchy. I hate clipping seams. I may trim it with the serger instead. I still need to add the bib and straps.

Isn’t my orchid pretty? I have no idea how I’ve kept it alive and happy for so long. Benign neglect, I guess.

Dirt and Mud

Bob and I worked in the garden all weekend. On Saturday, Bob moved 1 cubic yard of gravel while I turned over (more of) the soil to try to level it out. The gravel went over the drainage pipe after Bob added more drainage holes, so hopefully we’ll have good drainage and not too much erosion.

Today, Sunday, we moved 4 cubic yards of garden soil. We moved it in a wheelbarrow. We dragged it on a tarp. We moved it one bucket at a time. We finally started moving it in the back of the car. We live on a hill, so using the car as a wheelbarrow was tricky. Even Freya helped. We have 1 more cubic yard of soil to move. We need it on the ends. But it’s raining and we’re exhausted.

I built up a snake pathway with the clay subsoil, and am placing rocks on the clay bank. We still have some clay soil along the back wall, with just a couple of inches of topsoil. So I will plant herbs and flowers back there that don’t mind the clay.

I planted peas again. I put the kale and cabbage and lettuce in the ground. Everything else can wait until we finish the soil. It’s not completely level but hopefully that will be okay as it’s close.

My wool and nettle beanie was perfect today.
I’m looking forward to my garden!

We got our second Pfizer vaccines on Thursday. I felt so bad I only worked half days on Thursday and Friday. I have a rash and swelling around the injection site. Is that a reaction I should report?

I did get about a half an hour sewing time on my overalls on Saturday.

Now I want some comfort knitting. For me that means wool and stockinette in the round or garter stitch flat. It also means I need to cast on something new.

What’s your comfort knitting go to?

Garden Obsessions

My summer seedlings are starting to grow. They are quite happy in the sunny window, but I’m thinking I will have to put them in bigger pots before setting them out in May. They are getting big fast!

We are still waiting on our gravel and soil. Hopefully that will be delivered in a couple of weeks. Even if I don’t get peas this year, I can plant more pea seeds and eat the shoots. I learned that while watching my new favorite show, “Edible Garden”. I’m watching on BritBox, but it looks like you can watch the full series on this site. Also, she has a book! I’m totally getting the book.

In the meantime, I’m digging up daffodils and separating and replanting the bulbs around. Bob has finished pruning the apple trees. And I’ve been foraging wild spring onions in the woods. I’d like to plant some native wildflowers in our woods, but we have so many walnuts, they discourage other plants from growing. So that’s something to figure out.

I’m so excited for our garden! Now I’m thinking I should plant potatoes and leeks if there is room!

Gardening and a YOP Update

This pretty yellow flowering shrub is not Forsythia! I thought it was, but I was told it’s Spice Bush, a native understory shrub, Lindera benzoin. (Someone commented on my Instagram photo and corrected me, thankfully.) We do seem to have a Forsythia on the other side of our property, though. Once everything is in full bloom I’ll do some pruning and take a photo so we can compare them.

This may not look like much, but I spent several hours digging up the weeds in the garden so I could plant the peas and cabbage and kale. Unfortunately, there’s a layer of clay under the top soil, and we haven’t had any new garden soil delivered yet. So even though I went ahead and planted them, we may not have any peas, cabbage, and kale this year. I’m really proud of myself for digging this up on my own and I only had a little help from Bob, who worked for 10-15 minutes to dig up a huge root system of some old ground cover. It looked like tree roots, it was so big! He broke the pitchfork handle trying to wrest it from its iron tentacle grip. Once he got it up, he shouted at it, “I beat you, you ol’ stump!” Which is a reference to my favorite scene in “Drag Me to Hell.” I haven’t laughed so hard in ages.

Fiber Art

I felted a new piece today. This is a peek at some unfelted fiber since I’m not showing the work until the show starts.

Knitting

When I started getting excited about knitting again, in 2018 I went to A Wool Gathering with my friend Sara. While we were there I picked up two hanks of this linen and cotton slubby yarn with the intention of making a simple drapey top to throw over tank tops in the summer. I finally cast on yesterday. I’m counting this toward design since I knit a gauge swatch, calculated the width I want, and cast on the number of stitches — even though it’s literally two squares of stockinette seamed at the sides and shoulders. The most basic design ever. Gotta start somewhere, right?

Other than that, I’m knitting away on Water and my Malabrigo Rikke hat.

Sewing

I don’t have any new sewing to show, but I’ve got Water KAL bags to make and I want to cut out my overalls this week.

This has been a Year of Projects Update. You can read my updated list here. You can find out more about the group here.

Yesterday we met one of our neighbors. He mentioned our lot might have been a cemetery at one time? Which explains the limestone pillars. It’s just a rumor, but hopefully we won’t dig up any old bones! No, our house isn’t haunted. I also got bitten by one of his dogs. This was not his fault, as she was on a leash and I stupidly reached down to pet her. His other dog, though, a bulldog named Hammy, was off leash but friendly and adorable. Have you ever been bitten by a dog? It was my first time. I have a small tooth shaped hole in my arm. I will be more cautious about dogs now!

Alissa and Bob Versus Nature

Alissa 1, Virginia Creeper 0

Bob and I worked in the garden this morning. It was exhausting!

Before
After

The next steps are to drill holes in the drainage pipe, add gravel over the pipe to facilitate drainage, level out the existing soil, cover it with landscaping fabric to kill as many of the weeds that we can, and add a foot or so of garden soil on the top. Then I can plant baby plants!

Virginia Creeper was not going quietly. It fought back by thwacking us in the face multiple times. I think it spit in my eye once. I obtained great satisfaction digging up and pulling out the long roots. Bob started calling it, “Virginia Creeper versus Oklahoma Alissa.” I think I prefer to be called Tenacious A. I won the battle, but I’m sure Virginia Creeper will win the war. So the plan is to continue to cut it back regularly while weeding and hope it gives in to human perseverance someday. There are also some trees in the garden that we will have to work around, but they aren’t as invasive so we will take a live and let live approach with them.

Have you started any spring gardening yet? Do you have any tenacious weeds that won’t go quietly? Do you have any tips? What are you planting this year?