Sunday, July 31, 2016

Lounging around...

While I do have some things planned for this vacation (as mentioned yesterday), the bulk of it is intended to be a pretty lazy vacation. So what better way to start it off than making myself a pair of wide-legged lounge pants?

I bought the pattern years ago along with some super cheap flannel that was on clearance. Of course, it's waaaaaaaaaaaay too humid to even consider  wearing flannel right now, but on our last trip to Fabricland, I'd picked up several metres of a nice, light floral cotton.
Perfect! I'd actually cut the pieces out last week (I find my sewing projects go a little better if I break them up into stages.)And yesterday I was ready to set to work.  A couple hours later...
Perfect pants for lounging around!

Since lounge pants are pretty straight forward (as far as garments go) I decided to up my sewing game a bit and try out French seams.
Boy am I glad I did. They take a little more time, but they are well worth the effort. Sure, no one but me sees the inside of my pants... but they just make the finished product look so much more professional. This won't be the last time I do them.
I'm wearing them now as I type this, and they are a perfect fit. I guess when the weather cools, I'll have to get around to making that flannel pair!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Vacation away

Today is the start of a week-long vacation....

I'm not going anywhere, but it will be nice enough to just sleep in and not have to check email 50 gazillion times a day.

As usual, I have plenty planned - probably more than I can conceivably do in just a week... but that's just the way it goes. I hope to do some sewing, some drawing, some gardening, and if the weather is decent, maybe convince Dave to go on a hike. But mostly, I'll be knitting (no surprise there!)

One of the main things I plan to work on is Maeve.
What you see there is one completed arm and half a back. The pattern has you continue across the back and right down the other arm, but I'm going to do them as two separate pieces - for a couple of reasons:
  • Several other Ravelers have noted that the cast off from the last cuff looks quite a bit different than the cast on of the first. Working them both the same eliminates any issue there.
  • By doing them separate (then grafting them together), it's easier to make adjustments if my back is too wide or too small. I have narrow shoulders and find most patterns too baggy in the back for me. This way, if I need to adjust, I just undo the graft, and shorten or lengthen, as needed. If I did it as written, I'd either have to live with a too saggy/too tight back, or rip back and entire sleeve to make adjustments.
I also lengthened the sleeves (for my monkey arms), and will probably make some adjustments to the collar, but I'll see when I get there.

The yarn I'm using  is Baruffa Merinos Otto, which was liberated from Mom's stash. I've knit with it before (Dad's Christmas Jumper). It's one of the nicest commercial yarns I've ever knit with, so when Mom reluctantly offered it up (my other option was some Cascade 220) it was really hard to turn it down.
It's a multi-ply, high twist superfine merino. It's pure joy to knit with, has beautiful stitch definition, and zero itch. The more I write about it, the more I want to go buy some more!

For now I'll have to settle for just knitting with what I've got. My goal is to at least finish the other sleeve/half back by the end of vacation.... but no promises... we all know I have the attention span of a squirrel!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Friday Felines

If this cat gets any cuter, I'm gonna die!!!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Dishes or snuggles?

Look at you clever little knitters! On my post about my cotton blankie, several of you noted the similarities between it and a cotton dishcloth's construction. Yep - it's pretty much the same... In fact, on my Rav project page, I called it the Dishcloth Blankie.

But it wasn't until I started making one in cotton that I made the connection. You see the very first one I made looked like this...
It was a mix of high-end novelty yarns, Julie, at The Needle Emporium, had put together kits and written up a pattern that included the colour sequence and number of rows for each colour.  I instantly fell in love with it and had to have it. I had just started knitting and it was well within my skill level. (we won't point out the fact that that bottom corner is super wonky because apparently increasing evenly was apparently beyond me a that point.)

I absolutely loved it, right until I finished it and attempted to snuggle with it for the first time.
You see all that lovely green yarn.... yeah... that's all mohair. Super, super itchy mohair!!! SO ITCHY!!! The blanket it totally warm and cozy if you can stand it against your skin for more than five minutes. Maybe if I was in the arctic, and already wearing a snowsuit....
But after all that work, and money spent, I didn't have the heart to throw it out. So it's spent most of its life tucked away inside the blanket box at the end of my bed (after all - what else are blanket boxes for?) But now that I've brought it out again, it may see new life ON the blanket box. It will work with the colours I want when I get around to redecorating the bedroom. There's current a cat bed on the blanket box, but I'm sure they'd appreciate a nice warm, mohair blankie!

After that debacle, I still wanted an afghan though, so I set out to make one from softer, cheaper novelty yarns.
 As you can see this one has gotten a lot more wear. And those holes aren't the result of said wear...
But dropped stitches. It's a major issue when using novelty yarns... you can't see dropped stitches, and sometimes they hold on just tight enough to hang on until you wash it a few times. This one is currently living out its days as a cat blanket. In fact, it was one of Tux's favorites.

The cotton one will have no itch, and still be nice and warm. And I shouldn't have to worry about any dropped stitches. (And I can totally make dishcloths out of any left over yarn!)

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Bugs and blooms and berries, oh my!

The awful heat and humidity continue, but I'm still tending to the gardens, and making new friends along the way.
I wouldn't have see this enormous Carolinian grasshopper if I hadn't disturbed his resting spot by the butterfly garden. You can't see them, but he's got some awesome wings. I just couldn't get a shot of him in flight.
This little Emerald Spreadwing was so tiny he would have been easy to miss if I hadn't been in the right place at the right time. And he didn't stick around long
While the butterfly sightings aren't as frequent as I'd like, there's no shortage of bees in my yard. Big bees, little bees, almost microscopic bees. I think I've built a decent pollinator paradise.

They seem to love the raspberries too. And so do the robins and the squirrels, both of which I've caught pillaging the bushes (though sadly, not on camera - the squirrel is especially cute when he's doing it.). I don't mind so much because I get a nice handful to eat everyday
They are small this year, but bountiful. Sadly, the blackberries are not doing so well. Shortly after I posted that picture of them the other week - the berries started to turn brown and dry. Some internet research has me pretty sure it's a mold/fungus issue. Not surprising, considering all the humidity. It doesn't look like I'll be able to salvage them.

Oh well, there's always next year.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Travel knititng

With Dave's birthday socks done, I needed something small and portable in my travel project bag.  I wasn't in the mood for another pair of socks, so I went stash diving for something different.
I didn't have to dive too deep. Mom spun me this lovely 3-ply yarn not too long ago. It was a superwash merino fleece from Nest, and the colourway is Love Apple. I decided the perfect way to show it off would be to knit Going My Way.

We're in the middle of a heat/humid wave, and cowl weather is way far off... but this is mostly travel knitting, so by the time I actually finish it, we should be getting some cooler weather.

Monday, July 25, 2016

It's not all sunshine and daisies....

Since I flash so many beautiful pictures of the gardens, I think it's only fair that I tell you of the failures, lest you think I'm some sort of gardening magician. My gardens have their ups and downs just like every one else.

First - this spring was very disappointing, with barely a bloom from any of my spring bulbs. I think that was partly do to the cold snap we had in late spring, but I also suspect some of it was due to the squirrels.

The gladiolus that were so pretty in the side garden last year didn't come back this year.  The garlic that started to grow just up and disspeared  - I can't find it at all now. The squirrels ran off with ALL the sunflowers and the chives I started from seed didn't survive transplanting. And lets not talk about my sad attempt at spinach.

It's been a rough year for tomatoes at my place.  I don't know if it's the weather (hot, humid and zero rain) or my decision to do my tomatoes in pots this year, but the poor little grape tomato plant is no more than 10 inches tall with two sad little tomatoes on it.
The yellow pair tomato is bigger and has more fruit, but it was larger when I got it from the nursery, and it's not much bigger now. Normally by now I'd be swimming in tomatoes.

I think the same issues are behind the slow death of my strawberries too...
I think I may have to give up on my dream of backyard strawberries... that or dig another garden!

The  weather is definitely responsible for the trouble with the roses. When the warmth was more moderate, they did just fine. But with this super high heat and humidity....
... they appear to be melting!

And Rocky's poor potted rose...
 It just started dying off for no apparent reason.

You're probably wondering why you haven't heard me mention the Butterfly bush much. It did survive the winter...
But I'm not sure if it's going to survive the insects! It's just getting flower spikes, so hopefully it's bouncing back. Lots of my other gardening friends say this year has been particularly bad for bugs.

As for new additions this year, I don't think the English Daisies are going to make it. One of the poppy plants died right off, the other two aren't looking great. The Sea Holly I got from Brecks rotted before it even sprouted (though they did refund my $)

And the Dwarf Pincushion plant....
It's looking rough, but those little green sprouts have me hoping it will bounce back.

So... it's definitely not all perfection... but those blooms that do survive...
They make it all worthwhile!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Just like Linus

I have a confession to make.
I am one of those people who never outgrew their love of the blankie. No matter the weather, no matter the season, if I'm relaxing, chances are you'll find me wrapped up up in one.

So even though there are no less than three already in the livingroom (one fur, one woven cotton, one sock yarn), when Mom stash clean out included a random bunch of Rowan All Seasons Cotton....
 ... I thought another blankie might be in order!

It's a simple garter pattern I've done a few times before (ages and ages ago. You start with three stitches, increasing at each end   (on right side only) until you've reached the width that you want. Once it's wide enough, you increase on one end and decrease on the other until it's as long as you want. Then you decrease on each end until you have three stitches left. Then you bind off - easy peasy!

Colour changes can happen as often as you wish, and in this instance, I'm knitting each colour until the balls run out. As each row increases, and there are some part balls, this should mean a bunch of random widths.

It's not going to be a fast project, but it's a nice mindless one...
...and Rupert approves.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

A little stitchy stitchy...

Dave's isn't the only July baby in my circle.
This crazy lady celebrates hers a few days before Dave. And when you get to our age, and have known each other for eleventy-billion years (okay, 25...), finding the perfect present can get a little tough. But while I was racking my brain last month, Mom happened to hop on Ravelry post a picture of some quilted place mats she was thinking of making. Sam noticed and mentioned how much she liked them.... and the seed of an idea was planted. The pattern was something easy enough that even I couldn't mess it up too badly. So I went stash diving.

Now my quilting stash isn't very big. Mostly leftovers from the Kitten Kaboodles I have made and the odd fat quarter I've bought on a whim. With money tight, I was really hoping I'd have enough of something that looked relatively decent together, without having to hit up the fabric store.
I was in luck! The mice and white cats at the top were a full yard each - singles bought at Walmart ages ago with the intention of making myself a Kaboodle. The greens and teal pieces were left over from other Kaboodles. The black and white pawprints were random fat quarters (because... pawprints!!!) and the pink came from who knows where! But there was just enough of it for...
...five 5" squares of each of the bottom row. The larger singles were used for sashing and backing
There wasn't enough fabric to do them all the same (you need about a yard and a half to do all the backings the same), so I alternated. Pink-framed ones got white backing, and vice versa.
I enlisted Mom's help for the really tricky bit - the quilting! She's been practicing her free-motion quilting, and placemats are the perfect way to build up to quilting and actual quilt! She did a fantastic job. And the birthday girl loved them (especially because they matched the decor of her camping trailer! Bonus!)

Of course, this small success has me thinking about doing some more quilting... I do have those fat quarters Mom gave me for my birthday....

Friday, July 22, 2016

Friday Felines

Since bringing little Ru home..
...I've often joked that we got a cat for Peno... since he seems to prefer her to us most of the time.

He doesn't like to be picked up, swaddled or anyway cuddled in the ways Tux and Rocky use to. But this week, the tables seem to be turning. He's not struggling right away when I pick him. He's even let me wrap him in blankets a few times...
I thought at first he it might just be my knitting he was enjoying, but he also let me wrap him up in the white fur blankie (which seems to be his blankie now)
In addition, he's started hopping up beside me every night after dinner.
He won't sit on me, but he leans against me, looking for attention. Again, I thought it might just be that I was usually using his blankie.... but then the other night...
...just as I was about to get up (of course!) he just came along and snuggled right down. It's not quite my lap (he still refuses to sit on actual body parts). It was rather uncomfortable for me... but I just couldn't move him. But hopefully this is just the start of more uncomfortable snuggles... it so nice to see him trust a little more every day. Especially considering the scared little creature he was the first time we met...

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Garden time!

Thanks for the Birthday wishes for Dave.

Now it's time to head back to the garden. We seem to be in a bit of an in-between stage. Several plants have stopped blooming, while others are just getting ready to pop.
The purple Liatris is just starting to open. I have some white Liatris too, but it's not showing any signs of blooming so far. I might have to wait until next year.
The Milkweed is taking its time too! But you can see that one little bloom is almost ready. I bet it all pops open in a day or two.
The Stonecrop in the tree garden is just starting to open up. I'm so glad I switched this garden over to all sedums this year. It has done beautifully (especially considering the lack of rain!). I'll do a full post on it in the days to come.
When I showed off my raspberries last garden post, Araignee mentioned that it's blackberry season in her neck of the woods. As you can see, our blackberry season is still a few week off, but the plant is absolutely covered in these soon-to-be-juicy guys!

Anything you're waiting on in your garden?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

FO: Birthday boy socks

Today is Dave's birthday. And there is indeed a pair of birthday socks ready for him to unwrap!
I finished them up on Monday, as promised, with plenty of time to spare for the big day. (I also found a couple of cool rock t-shirts to wrap up with them). Later I'll be making cupcakes, and figuring out something special for dinner.

It's a big, round birthday for him (I'm not allowed to say the number, but we met 14 years ago and he was 26, so you can do the math). I'm only a few years behind him. It's hard to believe that he's anywhere near that number.
Most days we still feel like those crazy 20-something kids who met online and fell in love after just one date.

Happy Birthday, babe! Here's to at least 40 more!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Blooming out

A few weeks back, I noticed that one of my Hens and Chicks was doing something funny...
It suddenly seemed to be getting taller. It certainly didn't look like my other ones...
...which are popping babies out all over the place. After a conversation with Mom and quick internet search, we discovered that it was getting ready to flower!
 Who knew? Sadly, it means this particular plant has come to the end of it's life. Hens and Chicks only flower once, right before they are going to die. It's such a shame, becuase the flowers are so pretty!
But I guess if you gotta go, go out with a bang!