Thursday, August 17, 2017

Beautiful Bethany

Bethany is going along just swimmingly
I did accidentally use the yoke chart for the larger sizes (it's a bit longer than the smaller sizes), but I compensated by skipping most of the plain rows after so it should work out about the same.

As you can see, I'm onto the skirt now, and it's not nearly as exciting... just a few little eyelets broken up by several rows of stockknit. But I'll motor through it. Ideally, I'd like to have it done by the end of the weekend, but that's probably a little too ambitious. I've got some outdoor work that I really need to tackle. I guess we'll see how it goes.

Have you got any plans for the weekend?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

On to Bronte

With Exhibition done, the needles were free for another commuter project. I grabbed the Cornflower blue Barn Cat I'd dyed up for, but decided not to use on my handspun cardigan.

I got an decent amount done Monday's commute. This design is Bronte. It has a picot edge (which I still have to tack down), and a pretty little lace design that reminds me of willow branches trailing in the water...
Of course, that's hard to see until it's properly blocked... the joy of lace. So I guess you'll just have to wait a bit to really appreciate this one.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

In need of colour

After getting Exhibition off the needles, I turned my attention to the baby cardi. I'm happy to say, as of Saturday night, it was on the blocking board. It's still there, so you can't see it yet (but soon).

Since I still have about a month left to work on fair projects, I thought I'd see if I squeeze in another baby item. Both of my recent FOs were grey, so I decided it was time for some colour. I did a deep dive in the stash and came up with some cheery pink Twinkle Cat DK.
This is the start of the Bethany dress.  I haven't gotten very far because I got distracted by the pinwheels (they are done now and I can't do anything more until I get more fabric). But it is DK, so it should move a little quicker than my usual fingering weight knits.

Like the cardigan, this will go to baby Wren after the fair.

Monday, August 14, 2017


I'm finally starting to get my studio in order,  and I've been just itching to take my new/old machine for a test drive. But first I had to do a little light reading...
Once I had bobbin winding and threading figured out,  I was rocking. First up, I grabbed a couple left-over squares from the cat quilt.
A  few minutes later....
Perfect coaster! (Can't mar the finish on the desk - Dave put so much work into it.)
Second task... time to get a move on the pinwheels  I started ages ago. I had enough half-square triangles (HSTs) cut to make 27 wheels.
The machine only does straight stitch, but that's all you need to piece quilts!  The machine does have a seam guide, but it's screw is missing, so as you can see, I had to get creative.
Soon enough I was flying, and a few hours later, all those HSTs turned into squares. Then those squares were turned into rectangles. I could have continued, but I long ago learned the lesson not to push my sewing. Mistakes start happening, and soon I'm doing nothing but ripping seams.
So now I've got a nice little tub of half pinwheels ready to be sewn into full pinwheels... as soon as I'm rested and rejuvenated!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Easing out of summer

I've mentioned before that you can already taste fall in the air - mostly in the evening. But you can see it in the garden as well, with the plants that are going strong.
I'm happy to say that despite losing a few to fungus, I'm going to get a decent amount of blackberries this year. And just look at the size of them! This is the Loch Ness variety, known for its big berries and thornless vines (if only the raspberries were the same. These ones are very juicy, but very tart. They almost bite back! I won't get enough to make jam, but maybe next year if the plant keeps going as strongly as it has.
The Butterfly bush is another sign of summer winding down. I think she likes the cooler nights. i get a few blooms in July, but come August/September, she really starts to shine.
To me, the biggest sign of impending autumn are the Black-Eyed Susans. The go strong in late summer and shine all the way to October.
The Echinacea will go well into fall too.
Hopefully the Ruby Star coneflowers do just as well. I'm still a little dissapointed that they are almost indistinguishable from the Echinacea (AKA purple coneflower). The only difference I can see is that the Echinacea's petals tilt down.

I planted quite a few new coneflowers this year including white, yellow with red, orange and yellow, but so far the one that has bloomed is..
Pink! But at least its more pink than the "Ruby Star"
The Beard Tongue I bought on clearance is blooming again. I hope it makes it through winter. It's a pretty little dragon-looking plant.
I planted several of these African Daisies (Osteoperemum), and I'm tempted to dig them up before the frost. They can't over-winter outside, but I might just be able to keep them going until next spring as a house plant.
My double bloom Campanula is FINALLY blooming. It's one of the first plants I bought when I moved here. I'd never seen a Campanula like it. When opened fully, the blooms look like little blue roses. It started life in the tree garden. It came back the next year, but I could tell it wasn't happy, so I moved it to the Little Bee Garden. There it did ok, but it's blooms never opened up. This year I moved it to the front garden, where it only gets a few hours of sun. It seems MUCH happier there, so there it will stay.
And that lovely impostor Anemone has opened fully. Last years Anemones didn't make it through winter (not sure if it was the cold or squirrels that got them) but I really hope these ones do. The blue ones are lovely - but this one is just AMAZING!

What's amazing you in your garden?

Saturday, August 12, 2017

FO: Exhibition

First... thanks for the the funny comments about our "old man" Rupert yesterday. You're right... he's not old at all (he turns two in October) but he's always had something of a "grumpy old man" attitude about him. And he's very good at guarding his yard. He hates it when Relic or Ollie come to visit. He tolerates the squirrels, cardinal, finches, starlings, grackles, juncos and sparrows (they just get a light chatter)... but his Number One nemesis seems to be the robins.  I don't know what it is, but he can't stand it when the robins are in the yard or on the fence. Yesterday's picture captured his ire perfectly.

Now... onto business.

I know I said I wanted to finish the baby cardi up by the end of the week, but when I got off the train on Wednesday, I was halfway down the foot of the last Exhibition sock. For ankle socks, they'd been on the needles far too long (a month!!!) and I thought of how nice it would be to have a fresh pair and  new design started for Monday's commute.

So I set aside the baby cardi and pushed on through with Exhibition.
And I'm so glad I did. As mentioned before, Exhibition is a lacy little ankle sock (which of course can be made longer) perfect for the end of summer when mornings and nights are a little cooler. It's an easy two-row lace pattern that works well with self-stripers (as picture) but I think would look great in a multi or semi-solid too.

And with this pair done, I'm officially  one-third of the way through my planned designs for the e-book! Only eight more pairs to go!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Friday Felines


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Let the sun shine in...

The Indian Blanket sunflowers were finally starting to wind down, so I cut off the remaining blooms (and traded them with a neighbour for some honey-garlic pulled pork) and chopped down the enormous stalks.
The Butterfly expansion garden can now see the light of d ay again. As you can see, it's a fair bit more sparse than the other gardens. That's partly becusae it was not getting much light. But that large hole in the front is where my burgundy Blanket flower was. I got one bloom on it, and then two days later, it was all wilted. Some sort of fungus just ate away at the base and destroyed it.
Earlier this year, Dad gave me some poppy seeds. I have them planted in a pot for now, but I think they will fill that hole nicely.
The Peach Foxglove isn't as robust as it could be - probably due to the shade, but it's blooming nicely. Hopefully it will beef up now that it's getting more sun.
The dollar store Anemones have done quite nicely shade or not.. I love this purply blue. The package was supposed to be a mix of just blue and white.
But this lovely rose one it about to bloom.
Speaking of Dollar Store bulbs, the Triteliea has been a great bloomer. It can't over winter, so I have it growing in a pot. I think next year, I'll plant it with something with similar foliage to fill the container out better.
And the first of the Dollar Store glads has bloomed - what a lovely coral!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

In a jam

Earlier this summer, I was planning on making a batch of strawberry jam. My batch from the other year is almost gone, and I'm not fond of store bought jam. But strawberry season is VERY short here - just a few weeks. There are no berry farms within walking (or even bus) distance, and I just wasn't able to wrangle a ride to one in time.

So I figured I was out of luck this year... but through the magic of science...
Local strawberries in August! Courtesy of the local grocery store. I paid several dollars more than I would have at the berry farm in June... but it's all in a good cause.

With the help of Chez Wandering Cat's newest snoopervisor...
I set to preparing all the berries. And once I convinced the snoopervisor to STOP LICKING them...
It didn't take long to get them all ready for the blender.
I don't like huge chunks of fruit, so I find the blender works better than a potato masher or food processor.
It didn't take long, and soon enough I was ladeling sticky sweet goodness into jars. I got a respectable eight jars of jam - more than enough to tide me over until next berry season. And I may even enter a jar in the fair!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Good ol' fashioned knitting

The Old Shale baby cardi is coming along nicely.
As you can see, I'm through most of the body. This is on hold now while I knit the sleeves. Then they will all be joined up so I can finish the yoke. I generally prefer to work top-down, but I couldn't be bothered to re-work the pattern.
It's got a nice little bit of lace to keep it interesting, but for the most part, it's a pretty mindless knit. I'm hoping to have it wrapped up by the end of the week. I have 43 days left to get at least a few fair entries together.

Monday, August 7, 2017

"PANK"in' it

PANK... Professional Aunt, No Kids.

This weekend was a long one in Canada (today is  "Civic" holiday), so I took advantage and spent some time with one of my favourite young ladies... (and kitten monopolizer)...
Miss Lily.  We ate junk food, watched movies, dyed her hair and just generally hung out. But the highlight was introducing her to one of my fondest childhood memories...
Hamilton's Festival of Friends. Since it's inception, up until a few years ago, it's been held in Gage Park - a beautiful sprawling park in Hamilton's east end. 
As a teen, I lived about a 15 minute walk from the park, so we were pretty much guaranteed to spend the majority of the weekend there. A few years ago, for various reasons, it got moved to the outskirts of the city. It was a major uproar, and since the move, people have argued to bring it back. And this year they finally did.

It's only a 20 minute bus ride from where I live now, and I knew Lily would love it. So we spent the afternoon wandering through the vendors stalls, buying festival bling...
Listening to music, checking out the gardens...
 Making friends...

Chatting with the locals...
... and just generally enjoying the day.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Welcome to the Jungle

Back at the start of the season, I showed you a view of the back gardens that looked something like this...
a month or two later...
I know the pictures are small, but you can see that it's gone from nice and tidy to a wilderness. Part of that is my fault. I made a mistake with the Indian blanket sunflowers. I thought they were the nice short, 2 ft tall red ones... but as you can see, they are well over six feet now.
I can't complain too much, they are beautiful, and they bring the bees and birds and butterflies. But they have shaded out the newest garden. The plants there have done alright, but they'd do even better with a bit more sun.

The mammoth sunflowers are up against the house, as I knew they'd get big. They've been slower growing (just closing in on 5 ft now) but they've had one downside...
I thought my double-blooming Oriental Lily would be able to compete with it - it should grow almost as tall. But it just couldn't keep up and got shaded it out. It did bloom, but they were small and weak. Something to keep in mind for next year.

The raspberries have thrived with all the early rain we had. Despite a huge chop back, they are bushier than ever. I think I'll thin them in the fall so I don't have so much work to do next spring.

The blackberries are doing well and it looks like I will get to eat a few this year.
 If I can get them before the birds! this one was already half eaten.

Come fall, I'm going to have to give Chicago Peace a good pruning
It's big and beautiful, but I don't want it to take over the Little Bee Garden. And I want to make sure Crimson Glory has space to thrive...
And while we are in August, and you can already taste fall in the air... there's still a couple months left of beauty in this little jungle of mine.