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.

Cast On Thursday: Gauge Trouble

Yesterday, I knit two swatches in hopes of being able to cast on a cardigan. I need more cardigans in my wardrobe, but I keep casting on pullovers.

Frangipani Sport: 5.55 stitches per inch on size 4 needles
Rauma Fingering: 5.65 stitches per inch on size 3 needles

Frustratingly, my gauge was similar with different yarns and different needles, and not close enough to cast on either cardigan pattern. Boo. (I may throw caution to the wind and cast one on, anyway. If it’s a little big, that may work out okay. Right?)

Instead, I cast on my Hansel Hap with the Ramsay Farms Shetland. This pattern is fingering weight yarn knit on a size 8 needle. I’m hoping it’s supposed to be a very loose gauge, but I’m worried it’s too loose. It’s a shawl, though, so I’ll try to relax.

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!

Sunday Year of Projects Update

I haven’t been keeping up on my YOP updates. Since it’s been a while, I thought I should do that today.

Sewing

I finished sewing my Ophelia Overalls, and I love them. I’m going to sew a pair for each season. These are my spring overalls. I’ll sew a linen pair in summer, a corduroy pair in fall, and a wool flannel pair in winter. Pattern is by Decades of Style. Fabric is organic cotton twill from Koshtex.

Next I’ll sew another Raglan Dress in blue cotton shirting.

Knitting

Water is coming along. I get frustrated with the lace sections, so it’s in time out a fair bit. It’s not that it’s difficult. I think I’ve got it, so I stop paying close attention and then make a mistake. It’s not great TV knitting.

I’ve knit a gauge swatch for an Anker’s Summer Shirt (Rav link). AJ is knitting one, and it was in my queue, so I thought, why not? Impromptu KAL. My gauge is spot on in this Blacker Lyonesse linen and wool, so time to cast on!

I also knit a gauge swatch for Kate Davies’ new long sleeved Treit in Foxglove. I’m having trouble getting gauge so I think I’ll sit on it a bit.

I’m going to let Bob pick out some yarn from my stash, and then cast on a new pair of socks for him. He really likes his Valentine’s Day socks and wears them a lot.

Felting

I have a new piece finished for March, and meant to lay out my April piece today. But I’m tired after all the sewing, so I guess I’ll do that next weekend. I checked my wool colors, and I should be good to go. No colors to dye for the next one.

Design

My cotton and linen slub tee is coming along.

Podcast

My new episode “Grow Your Clothes: Rust Belt Fibershed” is available! I had a great time on this interview and ended up having to cut quite a bit, but may have enough left over for another episode. If you would like to give it a listen, look for The Just Craft on Stitcher, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Google Podcasts, or you can listen at thejustcraft.com.

Baking

I made some banana bread today! I like walnuts in my banana bread, but can’t have them (tree nut allergy) so I added pumpkin seeds instead.

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

Shout out to Kelley of Ramen Needles / Dye Mad for adjusting my yarn club subscription when I asked her not to send me superwash if possible. She sent me this gorgeous silk and linen this month. 💙

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!

Eager Beaver Gets the Job Done

I feel like an entire year of pent up pandemic energy exploded this week!

The Just Craft is now available on Stitcher, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts. Google Podcasts had already indexed my episodes — which I didn’t know — but I’ve submitted the new feed to them. I‘ve got two exciting interviews lined up. And James is going to interview me for Podcast Tactics! Now I need to come up with a new logo concept.

I am the cow’s tail (as my Mother and Grandparents would say) on the Water shawl KAL. (That means I’m behind everyone else.) But I did finally finish the second lace short row section. It’s been a rough week, and I have to pay attention when I’m knitting this. The good news is that the lace is repetitive, and I think I can read my knitting now. That should make it go more quickly and easily.

I received my yarn for the Beaver KAL. I ordered Bougie Beaver but oops received Saturday Night Beaver. It’s really pretty and is very close to another yarn I have in my stash. Weirdly close. A little more gold, though. I really wanted Bougie Beaver for my Jessica Jones Cowl, so I ordered another skein, this time in Solo Fingering. I left an order note indicating to send me Bougie Beaver, please and thank you. I’m sure they are overwhelmed with eager KAL beavers.

I am making an effort to not order anymore superwash yarn after this. Here’s an article from Woolful that talks about reasons why superwash wool is not environmentally sustainable. This isn’t new information to me, it’s just that I hadn’t really wrapped my brain around just how many dyers are using superwash wool and how, now, if I order yarn online without paying close attention, it’s likely to be superwash. My eyes are agog at the colors, and I don’t stop to think about the environmental cost. I have purged my stash of some, but not all. I don’t even like the hand of superwash for garments for myself, to be honest. I may use what’s left in my stash for knitting for family and friends who will likely throw their garments in the washer and dryer.

Here’s my second Rikke hat I’m knitting in Malabrigo Arroyo. Oops. It’s sport weight instead of DK. I went down a needle size because my last Rikke was a little big and floppy. I hope this one fits! This is the Anniversario colorway, and it is really pretty.

This is my most recent yarn purchase. It’s my favorite wool from my favorite farm. And hopefully I will soon get to meet Clancy, the sheep. This is the same yarn I used to make my Paris Toujours shawl that I wear all the time. It’s my favorite garment. Maybe I’ll even get to meet Hollis, the sheep who provided the wool for my shawl? I need to decide what color to dye it, although it’s very pretty as is.

YOPing on a Sunday

I updated my Year of Projects (YOP) list today, and it felt good — a reminder of why I should keep doing Year of Projects.

Fiber Art

I reached out to the gallery owner to share my work so far, and make sure the show was still on in September. And it is! So yesterday I looked through my photos for inspiration. I think I will spend some time sketching today. I have four pieces completed, although the fourth is in the still-hemming-and-hawing-and-stitching phase.

Knitting

I’ve been working on my Water shawl since I finished Turtledove. I’m almost to the short row panes.

I also need to cast on the Getting Warmer cowl (Rav link) for the silent auction winner for our fundraiser at work This will be a nice mindless knit for when Water is too challenging for my evening brain.

Sewing

📸 The Avid Seamstress

This is the raglan dress I’m making in the plaid flannel, although I think I will make the sleeves elbow length and a little more fitted than these.

📸 The Avid Seamstress

Here’s the short sleeved version which I will make in a blue cotton shirting. They have a tutorial on their website if you would like more information about this dress. Today my plan is to piece the pattern together.

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

Bonus content: I am trying my hand at making vanilla extract. At work we are developing a partnership with a Fair Trade vanilla bean farm. Extract is super easy to make. I split the beans and dropped them in vodka. They have only been in there 2 days and it already smells amazing!