Sunday, 13 March 2016

Garden De-Construction!

 The last time we encountered the garden apprentice was in Calgary, happily building 4x4 raised beds and making grids with cotton twine for plantings.  It was fun and the garden and I got along very well.  Thanks to the very knowledgeable gardeners who took me under their wing at the Silver Springs Botanical Garden in the North West part of the city, I learned so much and was the recipient of some great booty in the form of plants and seeds. house, new garden and endless possibilities but construction.  I have to say that no loving care was given to this plot of land after the first initial plantings in the 1990's.   Juniper was allowed to run wild behind a hedge of bushes that had no business being a hedge.  Creeping Jenny was choking  the rose and covering up struggling lillies.
Landscape cloth - rotten under  a layer or gravel had weeds and quack grass growing up through it.
Oh...and landscaping wood borders were rotten and full of icky bugs.
So...first things first this late winter/ early spring.  Some of the hedging bushes had to be removed and the juniper tamed.

then the layer of rocks had to be...shall we say...relocated.and as much of the rotten landscape cloth as we could, torn up, along with the quack grass roots.   This is high desert country and there are lots of rocks here, big ones, small ones and some in between.
The space is starting to take shape.  Some early planting carefully put in - and edging started with some of those rocks I told you about.
So, the next task was to tackle the insidious Creeping Jenny.
I was feeling quite kindly toward this stuff until I started trying to dig it up.  I even put some on the bank close to the juniper.
but after fighting with it today I have to say most of it went into the green garbage for pickup.
It was doing a fine job of choking out this pretty white bush rose.  
Here we are - finally - took me over an hour to dig up the horrible creeper and I'll have to keep an eye out for errant roots I guess but I feel like I won that battle for now.  Still lots to do ...and we haven't even started on the back yet - well...Libby has - she is having a lovely time digging out there. That's the thing about gardens isn't it.
And on we go.  It's raining now, time to cozy up to the fire and knit I think.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Hope in the year of Fire and Smoke

Last summer was tension making - as I may have mentioned here before.  I slogged through a big move, packing and unpacking in a lovely new space taking a breath....and then.....the valley caught on fire.  There is an irony here, spending time and money to move a complete house to a new location only to have the location go up in smoke.  We were evacuated - half the town was and lived on tender hooks for quite a while while the intrepid firefighters battled spot fires and tried to save us.  I was so lucky.  My new dear little house dodged the fire bullet.  Lots of families weren't so lucky farther south.
But we lived through it.  And we lived through the smoke filled valley when the winds changed.  And we got on.
Which brings me to the challenge.
I belong to a wonderful guild here.  The desert Sage Spinners and Weavers guild.  They tolerate all fibre arts with joy and generosity.  So, weekly, I haul my latest sock down to the community centre and sit among like minded artists chatting, nurturing, and exchanging help and ideas.
Last fall, after we all took a breath when the fires were at last out and the fire camps closed down, we were presented with a challenge.
Create something using the colours of summer - the red of the fires, the greys of the smoke, the brown of the rocks, the green of the evergreens.  It was called the summer of fire and smoke. is what I did.
I call it HOPE.  Hope for a new beginning here in this lovely part of the Okanagan.  Hope for a peaceful, creative life here.  And hope that the winter rains and snow put enough moisture in the ground so we won't repeat last summer.
 I started out wet felting some lovely Mohair dyed by Cattails Farm Fibre - I bought 3 colours from her at the craft fair.
I then turned to needle felting and cutting out my shapes.  
Once I sort of had that under control, I got out the beads.

And here is the result.  Hope in the year of Fire and Smoke. 

Monday, 23 November 2015

Some days are just like that

I have been working on this crochet sweater for what seems like an eternity now - starting in Calgary and bit by bit getting all the pieces ready to put together through the big move, and the even bigger wall repair and painting.  Finally, finally it looked like it was ready to put together.  Probably I shouldn't have had that glass of wine but at the time.....
Anyway, the idea of this thing is that it is all one piece, except for the sleeves which are crocheted separately.  So far, so good.  The big attraction is that the front looks like a mobius loop as you twist the right front 180 degrees across, matching up the arm holes. 
Except they didn't - match - that is.   I inadvertently created the right armhole on the top of the piece, rather than the bottom. My mistake.

No problem I said - I can take out 6 rows, fix the mistake and we would be good to go - insert the sleeves and get it ready for it's close up, and do the edging.
Except the right armhole and the left armhole didn't match in size.  One armhole was going to be way too small. was the armhole in the middle of the entire piece.  This wasn't not good!
All that work - 29 inches of crocheting across the front which was joined at one side to the back and the armhole in question was in the middle of the join.   I re-read the pattern - I hadn't made a mistake - I had 16 offset V stitches and one shell, and an armhole no one but a small child could get their arm through. 
So..I thought - can I get the back and front separated without tearing out the entire 29 inches, the way, took me most of the summer off and on to complete?  I've done crochet repairs before.  I once backed myself into a corner and took on the repair of a gorgeous Greek bedspread - the repair was right in the middle of the piece.  I though if I can do that...I can do this.
So.  Yesterday afternoon I made a strong pot of tea and laid the entire thing out on the dining room table, figured out where the first sideways row was, took a breath and cut.  Then proceeded to unravel the first row backwards - which, I might add is not quick, or for the faint of heart, but it can be done if you're desperate enough.  And I was.
The live stitches have been captured now on a circular knitting needle, but I don't think they are going anywhere.  Now I have to measure the two armholes, match them up and rejoin the side and back. 
The sweater is called the Lotus and I'm using a delicious pale mint colour from Manos Del Uruguay - Fina colour #408 - it is a mix of 30% silk/70% extra fine merino and I love working with it. and I love love love the colour.

This is an interweave crochet pattern from Spring 2014 - a couple of things about this - The first armhole shaping is wrong which is incredibly inconvenient if you don't catch it (see above)  I think Row 1 should be 14 V Stitches not 16..   I don't know if an errata was ever published.  They are also a bit off on the quantities of yarn needed - Mind you I made a substitution but - don't we all?  So I have 3 full skeins left over of this lovely stuff.  It will go into the stash and no doubt turn into something else sometime else.  Extra doesn't worry me over much.
I'm not moving this thing off the table until I have it joined up again.  

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

On and off the needles.

A new cowl design from me that I am teaching at the Knotty Knitter right now  Our first class was Saturday and for a learn to knit clss, it went extremely well.  Muscle memory is amazing.  These women had learned years ago but then dropped the needles.  They didn't think they remembered, but their hands did.  Gotta love that.
Boot cuffs are all the rage this fall.  Great to put together out of odds and ends, doubling  yarn to make something totally different.  And, I found that if you only get one made and run out of steam, you can use it as a cup cuff for your travel mug.  Keeps the tea smoking hot.  Excuse the blurry phone shot - I took it into the mirror.  Needs must as they say.
This morning Libby and I woke up to snow on the tops of the mountains that surround out lovely little valley.  The sun is shining and it is gorgeous.  If you look closely you can just see the border collie hiding in the tall grass there.

I'm still fine tuning here.  Moving house takes a long time to sort out.  Or it seems to be taking a long time this time.  Stage one was getting everything out of the boxes.  Now I'm onto stage two - wondering why I put that thing in that cupboard and where did I put that other thing.  It's interesting that I can see that other thing in another drawer in a former house - but I can't lay my hands on it in this house.  I swear I have gremlins in here.

Getting the pictures up on the wall was major! 
And that's a wrap, as they say, for today.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

An adventure

The markets are full of these wonderful squash, pumpkins, apples, and colourful fall vegetables.  We took a drive this week, Libby and I, down highway 97 where it connects with highway 3, past the geological phenomenan that is Spotted Lake, and up to the little town of Keremeos in the next valley over.   We spotted a very clever recycling bit at a ranch close by the highway using old tires to pen in the cattle - well, why not eh?   And down the road from that, ran onto a small cattle drive which we were allowed to creep past as the cows, ,under the careful watch of mounted cowboys, ambled from one pasture to another.  Libby was quite impressed with this performance.

Aren't the turkish hat squash wonderful?  I couldn't resist buying one just to have for decoration through the fall.
 They definitely don't make apple trees like they used to.  These are maybe 5-6 feet high, espaliered on wire fencing, and absolutely loaded.  The apples look like bright Christmas balls on the spindly branches.

All this lovely fall colour makes me want to knit orange. 

Saturday, 29 August 2015

In the fire zone

I’m sitting here quietly, listening to the rain and thanking whoever did the rain dance for this very welcome rain in this very dry fire zone I seem to be living in.  I’m sure the poor fire fighters are all dancing in the rain right now. 
 It might not completely put out the fires, but  it is a help – as much of a help as the hard working helicopters and water bombers who are grounded.  I hope it lasts a long time.  But here – unlike the coast – it probably will move on.  We need to stall the rain clouds and put a hold on the wind.

Blue sky is in short supply at the moment.  Once the wind came back up this afternoon, the valley is once more socked in with dirty brown smoke.

 I’m crocheting my lovely sweater.  It’s a big project but I have time to complete it and I love the colour – a pale sage green.

The air smells like burning materials.  The smog is being washed down through the rain.  This is not a nice smelling rain which is wrong, but we have been under the smog cloud for over a week now.  It’s going to take time.  

It’s interesting living in a fire zone.  Up here at the north end, our evacuation alert has been lifted, but last night at the south end of town, people were evacuated, and the alert stands.  I met a woman in the grocery store yesterday who is living on the edge- not sleeping well, wondering if she is going to have to make a run for it.

What would you take? If you had 5 minutes to get out?    What is important?  Well, records and files, my computer and camera I guess.  Obviously the first being into the car is the dog, and her food, tucked in and safe so we can make a get away together.  Do you take art?, Pictures?  Enough yarn to keep the fingers busy while you wait it out, wondering if your house will stand or fall? 
 Memories – do you take memories?  What is a memory anyway.  A passport?  Put the passport in my purse so I won’t have to worry about that I guess.

26 homes to the south of town are evacuated – the but forest service is thrilled with the rain
Well, they should be – it all helps.  But it won’t be enough of course – the fight goes on here against the fires.  Apparently the Tesalindan fire – our fire – is 60% contained but that is small comfort to the people in the fire path.  When the stats are read they say some 3700 hectares burning.  Good grief!

These are from my garden - Sunflowers are so happy aren't they?  

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Life is settling down.

July 29, 2015

I did finish the lovely Flying Geese baby blanket by Purl Bee of Purl Soho.  I made it in organic cotton.  It will be cozy for our new baby.  You can check out the pattern here

How much do carports cost I wonder.  I want one for the car and for us.  The car gets so hot out in the Okanagan sun.   The car is filthy right now and really needs some TLC

Here come the quail down the driveway.  They really are cute with their little top knots.  They are on their way down the side of the house, looking for a snack I suspect.  Good friends suggested  a birdfeeder to draw them in but I don’t really want to do that.  Birds are wild.  I don’t want them to become tamed by a birdfeeder.   There is a little green hummingbird who jets in too – likes the red geranium flowers and the orange zinnias in the back garden.  That’s what I want to do, plant more plants – perennials – to draw them in.  I don’t want them to become addicted to sugar water.

There are two big collapsing jet trails off to the east over Mount Baldy.  And the wasps are becoming annoying!  There is a nest in the eves I think.  It will have to be removed before it becomes a real problem  Wasps are big here.  Very intelligent creatures I'm told and their nests are works of art, but still...

 There is a rainbow nearly every evening.  How cool is that.