Monday, June 26, 2017

Turtle-like progress and flowers

I have been rather busy with yard work. We had a cool and rainy spring with some warm spells. This sent all the weeds into overdrive so I had weeds everywhere in my flower beds and under trees and shrubs. We have been battling weeds since they grew uncontrolled during our China stay. They all set seed and developed strong runner root systems and therefore we generate a large crop every spring. The key to getting things back into control is a ruthless weeding every spring - to pull up every little weed sprout. Then it is possible to keep the new growth under control over the summer and fall, resulting in fewer runners and seeds for the next spring. It is getting better but things are still a bit weedy in the spring.

I go around the entire house and remove all the weeds while patrolling already cleared beds for new entrants. It is pretty exhausting in the spring but makes the rest of the year better. It also leaves very little time and energy for fiber crafts.

I haven't taken photos of the flowers I planted this year yet so you are going to see the spring flowers that are already done and gone.
 I missed most of the lilacs due to really bad allergies. When the trees are flowering, I have to stay indoors because my allergies get really, really bad despite all the medications. But I caught the tail end of the lilacs. I have also got 3 Josee re-blooming lilacs growing in pots on the deck. We've had really bad luck with the ends of our lilac hedge. The first and the last 3 plants keep dying. I am trying to see if letting them grow a bit bigger on the deck before planting helps.

 Rhododendrons. I have 3 colors and this is one of my favorites.
 This is the least favorite of the 3 although I still love it. I love all 3 so it is merely ordering the top of the heap. It is peculiar, though, because I usually love purple.
This is my other favorite. I love the white flowers.

 Spider worts. These are a source of my weeds. They spread their seeds far and wide and I am still finding plants that entrenched themselves in odd places when we were China.

 One of my two azaleas. The others are pink.

 A pink weigela. I also have a darker rose/reddish color.

 I love this combination of colors. The blue of the fescue with the pink creeping thyme and the red of the Japanese maple.

 Tree peonies. My disappointment with these comes from their very short flowering period. But the flowers never disappoint.

 A gratuitous sunset. I've been taking fewer sunset photos this year.

 Blue irises with the last of the azalea in the back.

 Pink herbaceous peonies. I have a white also that wasn't photographed this year.
 The red herbaceous peony flowers with a light flare from the sun. Why is it guaranteed that there will be a heavy rain when the peonies flower? The rain makes them bend over till they are on the ground no matter how much I stake them.

 Siberian Irises.

We put up a bird feeder this year. I got a squirrel proof one and very carefully positioned it more than 18" away from branches as recommended. One morning we found a squirrel had happily swung a branch close enough to the feeder to grab it - Tarzan style. It was then happily holding on the feeder with one hand and eating with the other. The feeder will close if the squirrel's weight is on the feeder but this way the branch was holding the weight of the squirrel. Smart squirrel!

We then pruned all those branches so there is a dome now under the tree, as you can see. Our next non-bird visitor was a chipmunk. A chipmunk is light enough that its weight doesn't close the feeder. It just climbed down the wire hanger and was siting and eating. Birds didn't come when the chipmunk was there. My husband took an old metal sheet and bent it and made the baffle you see in the photo. It is unstable and slippery and is far enough from the feeder that the chipmunk hasn't climbed down over it. I've seen the little guy on the tree and down on the ground foraging for dropped seeds. But I haven't see it on the feeder so I think we've baffled it. Let's see.

The birds keep me busy filling the feeder every few days. They love it.

I started weaving the color gamp scarf in squares, which is the traditional thing to do. But I got tired of changing colors that frequently. So after doing one set of squares, I switched to rectangles. Each rectangle is 3x the height of the square. After two sets of rectangles, I will end with a set of squares so the ends match.
 Here is a rectangle and a half.
 I found it easier to knit in between other things. I finished the body of my Grapevine and have started on a sleeve. I've modified it to add the lace at the bottom and will add lace cuffs. I am debating throwing in a band of lace further up on the sleeve too.

I also, unusually for me outside of Rhinebeck, bought some fiber. Juliespins had a sale and I bought 2 braids from her. This one is called Fig Tree.

 This one is Fushimi Shrine. I tried to buy some colors that were not my usual saturated choices.
Inglenook fibers dyed a couple of colorways for the Tour de Fleece and I bought a batt from them. You can see the inspiration photo on the bag. I probably won't spin it in this year's Tour de Fleece but maybe next year. My plans for this year are pretty well set.

The CSA farm season has started. We had a few weeks of great strawberries. We picked more than my husband could eat and I can't ear fresh strawberries due to an allergy. So I make these strawberry crisp bars which we love. I am on the third and last batch this week. I think it is now too hot for strawberries. I eat raspberries and blueberries fresh so I don't bother making these with those fruits.

Next blog post will be about my Tour de Fleece plans. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017


I haven't done much with fiber in the past week as I have been attacking the weeds outside. The rain and cool spring with bursts of heat have put them into overdrive. They are everywhere and there are more sprouting as we speak!

I took advantage of the rain yesterday to warp the loom. Here is the color order I settled on and I like the way it looks.
 Next up, time to start weaving when I have time.

I also cast on for Grapevine in the Laurel colorway of Calmer. The photo above is not the right color. It is a lovely spring green. I am up to the armhole. As always, I needed to extend the armhole depth. I don't know why a lot of sweaters seem to have a very shallow armscye. I need a lot more depth to be comfortable.

Next up, I have to divide the body from the sleeves.

I also started spinning a Fiber Optic gradient - Autumnal Dawn. I stripped it vertically and will make a simple 2 ply. I hope to be done by the end of the month so that I can start the TdF with a clean slate. But if I don't, I'll just put it aside and continue after the TdF projects are done.

I also ran the blanket through the washing machine again to full it a bit more. I didn't want the individual strands to be separate because the yarn is pretty loosely spun and I didn't want it to develop holes. After that, I cut the knots off the fringe as the fringe braids had also fulled. The fringe is now 3" and I am happy with the way it looks. 

The cool weather has given me the opportunity to snuggle under it a few times.