22 December 2007

Marry Kristmus

21 December 2007

Plied!



I'm pretty excited about my first skein of wool. It's not very balanced, and there's lots of thick and thin parts, but I'm impressed that it went so well. I finally made it up to toronto for the second spindle lesson at lettuce knit. It focused on plying the two singles we'd previously made in the opposite direction to make a 2ply skein. Plying was surprisingly really relaxing, and as our talented teacher implied, very satisfying as well. It's neat to see the wool come together. It'll be really amazing when I can start to dye the fleece myself and plan how the colours are going to interact. I'm well on my way into skein #2. I'm carding grey and bright orange BFL into rolags and trying to spindle standing up not using the park and draft method I started with.

12 December 2007

Beginning Spindling



Last thursday, I ventured up to Toronto to a little knitting/wool store in the market. Lettuce Knit such a cute wool store with lots to offer. They have really nice cotton yarns, lots and lots of sock yarn, roving and fleece, books and mostly some really cool lessons! I'm taking a drop spindle class, and last thursday I learned a couple of methods in which to spin on the spindle. I like the park and draft method where you gather up twist, 'park' the spindle between your knees, then draft the fiber out. We also learned how to predraft and prepare the fibre for spinning. It was really really helpful to go to an in person lesson. This coming thursday we're learning how to ply 2 singles together. I think it'll be really fun and i can't wait! Currently I'm spinning on the spindle we got with the class fee, an ashford student spindle. But i bought a Cascade Little Si spindle previously, so I plan to experiment with that one during the holidays. I REALLY want a Golding spindle after having seen the beautiful work they do. Come to think of it, my talented woodworker/cabinetmaker sister could probably make something really nice!

Now, just recently I turned 29, and for my birthday, my cool mom ordered me a beautiful ASHFORD TRAVELLER spinning wheel! WOW! I did not expect that, and was so excited. It comes in pieces and unfinished, so I'm just deciding right now on how i'd like to finish the wheel. I will probably do that over the holidays as well. I can't wait to try that out! I've read alot of reviews online, and alot of people have had the Traveller as their first wheel, so I think it'll work out really well.

5 December 2007

Ravelry and Owlishly



RAVELRY!!

Wow, what an amazing site for any knit and crochet fiends. I can't even begin to describe the functionality the site offers and it's still in beta! To get an account you'll have to sign up and join the waitlist. I'm not sure how long the wait is but there's a waitlist checker available after you sign up.

After being accepted to the beta and logging on, you'll find you have an account profile. So you can upload pictures of yourself, a brief description etc. etc. In your "notebook" are tabs for 'projects', 'stash', 'queued', 'favourites', 'groups' and some more. You can post projects and link to the pattern and the yarn. The site usually 'finds' the pattern for you if it's on the site already, and you can rate the yarn and pattern via a 5 star system. You can then rate the difficulty and you're happiness with the final product. After you do all this, if your pattern was found, it'll list how many other users have finished projects with that pattern, which you can browse and see for yourself! It's a great way to find other users you may have similar interests with, and to see how other people executed the same pattern. The 'groups' function is cool too. You can search for groups that share the same interests and participate in discussions, or share projects themed toward that group. I've joined a bunch of groups; organic gardening, earth friendly groups, yoga groups, spinning groups, etc. For the favorites section, you can 'favorite' a pattern, designer or project and it'll keep those listed somewhat like internet bookmarks. You can also 'queue' projects you see elsewhere online, or on the site.

It's a really intuitive and cool site for networking with other fiber crafters and i've found more patterns, ideas and inspirations from this site in 2 weeks than i've found anywhere else.

It's on ravelry where i discovered the art of amigurumi, or small crocheted dolls. I bought a few patterns from an awesome lady and made myself a small mexican wrestler doll. It turned out awesome and i think i have a new hobby! So everybody who knits or crochets, join ravelry, go look at OWLISHLY's patterns, you won't regret it!

1 December 2007

Cabled Mitties!



On my journey to become a better knitter, i decided to make my first pair of true mitts. I picked a pattern from an old Beehive pattern book called "Gifts and Accessories by Beehive, book 90". They had increases, decreases, a thumb gusset and some cool looking cables. They were knitted on two needles instead of in the round, and then sewn up the side at the end. The thumb and thumb gusset were knitted as the project progressed, not afterwords. I used a green tweed wool and 3.5 mm needles. I made a few mistakes, but i think they turned out pretty well for my first pair!

25 October 2007

Garlic Growing.. the next generation



I waited to plant the garlic this fall as it has been unseasonably warm. Considering it didn't snow last year until january, I thought it might be good to plant it a little later than last season. I've read that in planting garlic in the fall, the ideal situation, is to let the garlic sprout and grow to JUST below the surface of the soil by the time the frost and cold comes to slow the growth. Then in the spring, the sprout picks back up, starts to grow, and because it is so close to the surface, pokes out right when it should. Last spring when I pulled the mulch off the sprouts were already 4-5 inches long. I either planted it to early, or waited too long to pull the mulch back. So, in short, I'm planting later this year because of the warming winter season this area continues to experience.



Last year I grew two varieties of garlic, one hardneck and one softneck. It was surprising how much bigger the hardneck cloves were. They also had such a beautiful purple veining through them. Since I had about 8 cloves of garlic from our harvest last year left that I didn't eat, I decided to order two more varieties, a red russian hardneck and an italien hardneck. So now I'll have two plots of garlic to look forward to next spring!

19 October 2007

Cheif

At the tanning bed:

15 October 2007

Long fingerless Mitties!



Because of the boost of confidence i got after i finished the first set of fingerless gloves, I decided to start another pair. The pattern is from knitty, and actually designed and created by the same woman who designed the first set I made. They're a bit longer, and for the cables you hold 4 stitches to the back or front instead of 2. The cables were alot tougher to do, especially the hold to the front cables. But i managed, and despite the few boo boos I made, they turned out pretty well. Now I just have a few more things to make and all of our gifts will be done!

23 September 2007

Fingerless Mitties.



This was my first time knitting in the round and knitting cables. The pattern is from a back issue of knitty which is an amazing resource for knitters and crocheters alike! Tons of really cool FREE patterns lurk in the archives, not to mention the myriad of technique and tip articles. Each pattern has a bio of the creator at the bottom, often with a link to their blog. I love this site! And i love these mittens.

Please excuse the dirty fingernails, I was gardening all morning!

12 September 2007

Sophie!

Hallo!... Hai. My name is Sophie.

Seed Saving!


catnip flowers

I've been trying my hardest to save every seed possible from my vegetables. I've been doing pretty well! The romaine lettuce I grew this year and collected seed from was grown from seed that I collected last year, so for some plants I'm saving the second generation of seed. Herbs are fairly easy to save seed from, tomatoes and flowers too. Root plants I haven't attempted yet. Perhaps next year after I get a proper root cellar set up I can see about that. It's been really interesting to see how and where each plant produces it's seed. Soapwort has been one of the most interesting plants to see where the seed grows. The flowers grow in dense clusters at the top. Pods form that hold an amazing amount of seed. When the head dries, and is tipped upside down, the seed just pours out. Chamomile and catnip seeds are tiny. Marigold seeds dry very easily.

tomato seeds fermenting:


marigold seed packets drying:


cilantro seeds drying:


I made the seed packets outlined in the You Grow Girl book, and i think I'll make some more elaborate ones for gifts.

10 September 2007

Homegrown Herb Tea! yummers!



I decided this year to try to grow herbs that'd be great for fresh herbal tea. Peppermint, pineapple mint, catnip, spearmint, lemon balm, lemon verbena, basil, lemon mint (lemon bea balm), wild bergamot, chamomile, and dill. The peppermint dries SO fast. I haven't been drying the lemon balm or lemon verbena as I use it fresh in the tea. I'm storing the mint as whole leaves in jars in a dark, cool cabinet. When I want some tea, I crush the leaves in a morter and pestle. Then I like to spruce it up with some lemon verbena and some lemon balm. The other day I added some freshly cut ginger. I haven't tried the dried chamomile, the pineapple mint, the wild bergamot or the lemon bee balm yet, but the winter should provide plenty of tea experimentation time!

6 August 2007

random midsummer harvest



yum!

2 August 2007

Powdery mildewy Zucchini!



So the month of june pretty much saw no rain. Then in july, it rained a fair bit, not a whole lot, but some weeks it'd be a little rain everday. So my powdery mildew spray routine was, at times, halted for a week here, a couple days there. Or the spray I did in the morning would be negated by the rain in the afternoon. This all resulted in the powdery mildew making quite the comeback. The zucchini is still strong, still producing, butI've had to prune off over half of the leaves, and the remainder still have some mildew on them. I've made a new batch of the organic powdery mildew spray from Gayla's book to keep combating the mildew. It was working pretty well back in june, early july, so i think if there are some good days where I can spray everyday I can keep the plant alive for much longer. Luckily it doesn't seem to be affecting the productivity of the plant, or the fruit. To be continued!

25 July 2007

Red Tomato!



The tomato plant is JUUUST starting to give up some red tomatos. yum! I've been waiting for SO long to make a tomato red lentil dahl, and in a couple days i'll have enough homegrown tomatos to do just that. I thought, at the beginning of the season, that the tomatos had contracted tobacco mosaic virus. However now, they are 100% healthy and HUGE. These tomatos are supposed to be cherry tomato sized. Some of them are as big as the vine tomatos you would purchase at the supermarket. Go organic tomatos! I'm growing two kinds, both purchased from the cottage gardener seed supply company from ontario. The first is called pink ping pong, the second is Bloody Butcher. The latter are the huge ones.

As for the tobacco mosaic virus, perhaps the side dressing of compost, and careful handling let it subside. Still battling the powdery mildew on the zucchini plant though. The baking soda/insecticidal soap spray seems to keep it at bay, but not completely get rid of it. It has been quite rainy though, and therefore quite humid. But I'll keep truckin' with the spray.

15 July 2007

Potatos, Tomatos, Onions!



The tomatoes seem to finally be turning red. Yesterday I harvested all the potatoes, and then learned that I should have waited longer. From what I read I should have waited until two weeks after they bloom. THey didn't have flowers yet, but they're barely alive after some severe aphid damage. I got some decent sized potatoes still, and they were fine to eat. Some had scab, which I also read about but need to do more reading on. I forgot to take a picture of the Warba potatoes before I mashed them into some feta and onion potato cakes with some of the dried dill from last year, but I did get a picture of the Red Pontiac that I intend to eat today(above)
.
potato buckets:


I also harvested all of what I refer to as Happy Dude Onions. I got them from a really nice guy in Oakville at a Seedy Saturday, but I couldn't remember what type they were or anything else that he told me for that matter. They were all quite small but that's fine with me. My red onions are still growing and they look awesome. I put the happy dude onions on the squash frame from last year, so they could dry in the sun for a few hours before bringing them in to hang. Now they're hanging in the basement, hopefully I will be able to use them all.



It rained a bunch last night, and the rain barrel is now about 1/4 full.

Since it rained enough last night I didn't have to water this morning, but when I went out to check the soil I did find a bunch of raspberries were ripe. This was exciting since they've only ripened one at a time so far.

14 July 2007

Bugs!



rainbow bug on soapwort, cucumber beetles on zucchini.

12 July 2007

Patio herb area in bloom.



This is a partial part of my herb garden. I LOBE all the variety. In the forefront alone visible there is rhubarb, echinacea, feverfew, chamomile, thyme, mint, cilantro, borage, sorrel and a few others back behind the bed in containers liek morning glories, lemongrass, oregano and rosemary. To the right are a bunch more things like your standard basil, dill, strawberries, more thyme, more borage, onions, green onions, scallions, wild ginger, more varieties of mint, bergamot, lemon mint, comfry raspberries and garlic. I love herbs and I love my herb garden.