Tag: garden

The World of Leaf and Blade and Flowers 4



Hello, friends! I hope the warm days are treating you well so far.

After a whirlwind few weeks of work and travel, I’ve finally had a little time to start settling into summer. The flowers are blooming.



The blackberries are starting to ripen.


We’ve tasted our first tomatoes from the garden.


There’s been some hiking.



I’ve begun a love affair with milk kefir.



There’s been some reading.*



Some yoga on the porch . . .



Plenty of knitting, of course (though I’m fresh out of pictures) . . .

And now there’s going to be  spinning! The Tour de Fleece starts tomorrow, and I can hardly wait!


Is anyone else joining in this year?

I’ve been loving everyone’s blog posts lately. I’m behind with commenting, but I’ve definitely been reading. I can’t imagine what I’d do without our wonderful online fiber community.

Wishing you peace, happiness, and lots of knitting AND spinning during these wonderful long days!



The title of this post is from John Steinbeck’s The Winter of Our Discontent: “In early June the world of leaf and blade and flowers explodes, and every sunset is different.”


*The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben has been mind-bending in the things it’s taught me about how trees communicate.





Randomly, on a Thursday 8

Finns Hat

This has been a banner week for communication. Sometimes it seems impossible to accomplish anything when it involves appealing to far-away people I don’t know for a response. It can feel like my phone calls and emails are just wafting off into the void. The last few days have been different, though.

One communication success didn’t have anything to do with knitting, but I’ll tell you about it anyway. I wanted to express my views on a particular situation to the mayor’s office. I couldn’t find an email address and so resorted to calling, thinking I’d either reach an administrative assistant who’d just mark down my position on a list or, worse, that my call would be routed into voicemail hell. As it turned out, I did have to leave a message, but to my huge surprise, the mayor himself called me back not twenty minutes later! Can you believe it? I was blown away. We talked for about ten minutes. He gave me some suggestions about additional people to contact, and I walked away a happy citizen. Imagine that.

There have been a number of other minor communication successes, but the really fun one you might actually be interested in has to do with knitting. I’m teaching a class on double knitting at the upcoming Knotty Ladies Fiber Retreat on Roan Mountain. I’ve been enjoying poking around trying to figure out how the popularity of the process evolved in recent times, and I kept running into a significant gap.

Double Knitting

There aren’t a ton of resources available on double knitting, but up until the late 80’s, it seems like everything out there proceeded on the assumption that the technique must be accomplished in a particular way. If you know about double knitting, the “way” is with the knit or purl one and then slip one method. This allows you to do things like work a tube with two straight needles or to make a piece of flat knitting that has two layers. It gets the job done, but because it takes two passes to complete each round, it’s slow.

The modern way of doing things is to knit each side (of the tube or of the double-thick flat piece) simultaneously. It’s much quicker and more efficient. I learned this method from Alasdair Post-Quinn. His book and his Craftsy class are amazing resources.

DK Books

Anyway, as I perused some of the earlier explanations of double knitting, I started wondering if Alasdair was the first to use this modern method. Before his book, the most comprehensive examination of the topic was Beverly Royce’s book, Notes on Double Knitting, and she does things the old way.

So I sent Alasdair an email last night via his website and figured, not that that was the end of it, but that it would be at least a week or maybe even a month or more before I heard back. The man has a full-time, non-knitting job, plus he writes and travels all over the place to teach classes.

Well, guess what. First thing this morning, I had an information packed response from him that was just as helpful and nice as you could ever hope to get. It absolutely made my day.

In case you’re still following along with the technical end of this and are interested, the short version of the answer he gave me was that he wasn’t the first to use the modern method, but that the earliest source to which he could trace it didn’t present it with the sort of fanfare you’d expect to accompany a true innovation. This makes him think that someone, somewhere must have introduced this technique before. The other things published around the same time as the article Alasdair mentions and those that immediately precede it all seem to teach the old method, though, so it appears we’ve still got a missing link. But thanks to Alasdair’s terrific response, it’s a little gap in my understanding of the timeline now rather than a massive, gnarly one.

If you’re not interested in double knitting, this is probably a pretty boring blog post. But maybe the take-away can be that, every now and then, reaching out to someone in the public sphere for direction or information can actually produce real results.

Checks and Balances

In other news, I’m still working like a maniac and just getting my knitting in where I can. I’m almost finished with the front of Paul’s Checks and Balances sweater, and then I’ll just need to do the sleeves and join everything together.

I also started a double knit hat for my godson who left for his freshman year at TCU this week. That’s it in the photo at the top of this post. Since there’s about a 101% chance Finn doesn’t read the blog, I’m not at all worried about spoiling the surprise.

Poor Alice is moulting.


Augie is pretty much living in this blanket pile because of the crazy thunderstorms we’ve been having . . .


Everyone thinks they’d feel better about the weather if they could mooch some homemade ice cream.

Ice Cream

The garden is winding down.


And there were peanut butter cookies.

PB Cookies

That’s it for now. Knit on, my friends!

Spinning, Knitting, Summering 6

This is what I’ve been spinning for the Tour de Fleece.


It’s Finn in the colorway “Little Islands” from the Spunky Eclectic fiber club.

Finn from SE Fiber Club

These aren’t colors that I’d normally pick, but I’m really enjoying the shades of blue and cream. One of the great things about being part of a fiber club is expanding my color horizons. I’ll probably end up chain plying this when I’m finished with the singles. Then I was thinking I might use it for the yoke of the Garter Yoke Cardigan. What do you think?

I’ve also been working on Checks and Balances here and there. This was porch knitting this evening just before a major, much needed rainstorm rolled in.

Porch Knitting

I got this new project bag from Fringe Supply Co recently, and I love it.

Fringe Supply Co 1

It’s sturdy, so I feel like I can drag it around all over the place with me without having to worry about messing it up. It’s also got several nice pockets inside–a big one on one side and several tall narrow ones for needles and pens or pencils on the other side.


In other news, I’ve been pickling.


Picking blackberries.


Making banana bread.


And opening packages of fun things that have been arriving for the goodie bags for The Knotty Ladies fiber weekend on Roan Mountain that’s coming up at the end of the summer.


I have a little work left to do tonight, and then I’m going to get back to spinning the Finn. I’m trying to ease the pain of returning to work after my nice break by interspersing plenty of knitting and spinning. Oooh, and I’m watching The Wire. Don’t know how I missed it the first time around.


I love you, summer . . . 6

Somehow, I’ve ended up with a lovely window of down time for a couple of weeks. I’m in between summer classes, perched on the dash in the middle of the crazy long sentence that is my current editorial project. The timing couldn’t be nicer.

The weather is fabulous, and this past week, I’ve gotten to do all sorts of decadent things including taking my wheel to the creek to spin.


I also went hiking with my friend D. We like to trek out to this little waterfall.


The going is strenuous at times but not overly so, and the reward is this pretty spot at the end. Plus . . . you almost always meet a dog or three. Today, we visited with this sweetie. Her name is Cocoa. She’s eleven years young. She’s apparently been hiking with her dad and her two human sisters since she was a puppy, so she’s kind of a pro.


She approved of my handknit socks.

Handknits In Action

Other things I’ve gotten to do this week are work in the garden:


And do yoga on the deck:


Snuggle with Augie in the mornings:

Augie Paw

And watch the sun set in the evenings:


Isn’t summer wonderful?

On the knitting front, the big blue rectangle is finished. Pictures of that next time. Be well, my friends.


Wednesday 2

The Crystal Palace Yarn sweater is finished and blocking. I hope to have pictures of it later this week–Monday at the latest. For such a simple, spur-of-the-moment knit, it’s turned out to be something I think I might really enjoy wearing.

Today, I’ve been working on the Easy Folded Poncho. We went to my dad’s so Paul could mow the lawn, and while we visited, I spent a little time making the big blue rectangle bigger. It’s almost finished. Thank goodness. As much as I actually like the look of plain stockinette, I get a little stir crazy when I spend too much time knitting it.


This is the tree I was sitting under.


It’s an enormous old maple. When I’m near it, I can’t help but breathe and relax. I think about how while it’s been patiently rising and growing and being its incredible tree self, so much has happened in the world, good things but also bad and scary things. Knowing it was here in this spot, spreading its limbs and roots and being home for birds and squirrels, standing in the rain, reaching toward the sun, making a place of shade in the heat of the day . . . knowing that it kept on doing all these things through so many human ups and downs and that it’s still here . . . it helps me.

And while we’re talking nature, take a look at this little guy.


Isn’t he beautiful? He spent some time hanging out around my spider flowers today. They’re blooming like crazy.

Turning to more frivolous pleasures, when we got home from my dad’s and running errands, I found this goodie in the mail.


Sometimes when I’m in a real work crunch, I buy things. I have a strategy that keeps this from being as bad as it sounds in that I will put off purchases I’m going to need to make anyway until one of these work crunch periods arises. Then I bleed off the work tension by buying the new yoga mat to replace the disintegrating one I’ve been using for the last five or so years, or I go ahead and order the case of giardiniera we love but can’t get in Tennessee.

The recent work madness was pretty intense, though. Hence the new project bag. I’ll be getting a few more in the mail this week. This one cracks me up. It’s from the StitchesPlusPurls Etsy shop.

The new issue of Ply also came today’s mail.


I’ve been putting together my plan for this year’s Tour de Fleece, and it wasn’t going to involve spinning bulky yarn. After looking through the articles in this issue, though, I might have to reconsider.

I hope you are well, my knitting friends. Wishing you love and light.

this fresh morning 8


Someone is stealing weeks. It has to be that, or how it could be June 13th?! Yikes!

It turned out I wasn’t quite fully healed by the peach. It helped, but it took until the end of last week for me to feel like I was totally back on track. As a testament to my improved condition, I returned to the Crystal Palace yarn sweater I left in pieces before my trip to Texas and started the seaming.


Lola swears she put snuggling on the calendar for that time slot.


We finally worked out the details.


I finished the shoulders and the sleeve caps, and I’m hoping to do the rest today. Then, it’ll be on to the neck, and that’ll be it. I’m kind of excited.

In other news it’s my favorite time of year in the garden.




Everything is looking hopeful and healthy.

All of this means so much, especially today, as I think about all the people closely affected by the horrible, horrible events in Orlando. The words that keep running through my mind are Mary Oliver’s lines from “Invitation,” one of my favorite poems in her collection Red Bird:

it is a serious
just to be alive
on this fresh
in this broken world.


Sleeves and Such 3


If it’s okay with you, I’m going to skip the part where I go on and on apologizing for the posting desert the blog has been over the last couple of weeks and get right to talking about sleeves. K? K.

It’s been ages since I’ve knit a sweater with set-in sleeves. I almost always choose the seamless route because I love the idea of being completely finished with the whole thing when I bind off on the last row. As I’ve been dealing with the pile o’ Gramps in my lap lately, though, the idea of knitting the sleeves separately and not having to constantly reposition the sweater body while I’m going around and around on each sleeve has become pretty appealing. I’m actually thinking I might do something with set-in sleeves for Paul’s sweater, which is one of the next projects on my list.

What do you think about sleeves? If any of you have thoughts on sleeve knitting methods, please share them with me. 

Gramps Sleeve

At the moment I’m perusing patterns for a quick sweater for myself to see what I think before I commit to anything for the Paul project which will be a significant investment of knitting time. I’m looking at a couple of patterns by Amy Miller, Put the Kettle On and Sixth Street. I especially love the funky shaped hem of Put the Kettle On. These patterns actually call for you to pick up stitches and knit the sleeves as you go, but I think I could modify them without too much effort for the sleeves-knit-separately route. Both patterns call for bulky weight yarn, so they should be pretty quick knits, important so that I don’t get derailed en route to Paul’s sweater.

Here are a few pictures from the last fiber guild.

Cari Magic

This is lusciousness from my friend Cari. She’s one of the contributors to the April edition of Spinning Box. There are also some insanely gorgeous dyed locks from her Angora goats that I didn’t successfully photograph. She’s turning into one of those dyers whose fiber is like a magic spell—it draws you with the force of thousand magnets to immediately drop everything and spin. Resistance is futile.

And here are the babies:




And Sidney, ML’s glorious peacock:


And here is my tiny forsythia transplant that not only made it through the winter but is actually BLOOMING!!!! Yay, Spring!!



Deep beneath the cover of another perfect wonder where it’s so white as snow . . . 2

Snow Day web

We were snowed in for a couple of days over the weekend. It hardly ever gets so snowy and icy that we can’t get out, but Jonas was intense while it lasted.

The raised beds were completely buried by the time the snow finished falling.

Snow Chickens web

The chickens refused to come out of their coop for a day and a half.

We took a short walk on Saturday during a break in the weather.

Snow Bees web Color web

We even used my Louet Victoria box for a make-shift sled.

Louet Sled weg

Mostly, though, we stayed inside and watched.

Augie web

And read.

Textiles web

And knitted.

Squares web

These are the squares I’ve knit on my Geek-A-Long blanket so far.

I’m still getting a big kick out of double knitting, but I took a little break to finish up my Travel Shawl. The only thing left is the border, but since I’m up to around 500 stitches at this point, it’s taking awhile to finish each round.

Snow Knitting web

How’s the weather where you are?

Errand Day 2

Today was errand day, so we got to see our friend Miss Kitty at the Feed Store.

Shop Kitty 3

She was must have been feeling especially social because she actually left her comfy box on the shelf long enough to get some pets and help us do our shopping.

Shop Kitty 1

We had lunch at the usual spot, and it was a beautiful day, so we sat outside and ate while I knitted on Calligraphy.

Lunch Calligraphy

Last night, we cooked dinner for my dad, and Calligraphy kept me entertained while I waited for the bread to finish baking.

Dinner Calligraphy

These beauties are from the garden. I planted them among the tomatoes this year to help deter bugs, and it seems to have worked!


Thanks for stopping by. Happy knitting!

Handknits In The Garden 3

Pink Stripey Socks

I thought you might like to see the pink stripey socks in action. I love them! When I cast off Sunday morning, I couldn’t resist wearing them even though I was headed out to work in the garden. They were super comfy. I’ve already washed and dried them, and they look as good as new, ready for next time, which might just be today!

The garden surprise on Sunday was that one of my poppies bloomed! It’s a Florist Pepperbox. It’s the first poppy I’ve ever grown from seed. I hadn’t noticed that it was about to bloom, but the second I stepped outside Sunday morning, I saw it waving in the breeze among the marigolds. It was looking a little tentative when I took this picture, but as the day went on, it opened up and started to act like it belonged. 


And there was this guy. He stayed for quite awhile and kept me company while I weeded and poked around.


Here’s what I brought in from the vegetable garden.


This is the first year we’ve grown the foot-long beans. My aunt actually sent the seeds for these from her neighbor’s garden in Texas. With all the amazing things happening in the world today, one of the very most amazing to me is that a little brown seed from Texas could arrive in the mail, sit in my filing cabinet all winter, be sprouted and planted in the spring, and turn into these crazy, yummy long beans in my garden this summer. Nature will not be outdone.

Sunday night, I used zucchini and thyme from the garden to make “Creamy Zucchini, Walnut, and Thyme Soup.” It was pretty tasty, but this soda bread from the Eat Cake for Dinner blog was to die for. I seriously think I could eat it for every meal for the rest of my life and not get tired of it. 

Soda Bread

While I watched the Tour last night, I started plying the singles of the Hello Yarn Shetland I’ve been spinning. It’s a little barber poley, but I love it anyway. I think I’m going to end up with close to 400 yards, which will definitely be enough to make a nice shawl or cowl. I’m considering Xenia. I actually prefer Appia, but that design needs a less colorful yarn, I think.

Minerals 1

Minerals 2

Minerals 3

 Hopefully, I’ll finish up the plying today and be able to give the yarn a good soak tonight.