Thursday, February 14, 2019

Love-Bites


"When I say 'I love you,' it's not because I want you or because I can't have you.  It has nothing to do with me.  I love what you are, what you do, and how you try.  I've seen your kindness and your strength.  I've seen the best and the worst of you.  And I understand with perfect clarity exactly what and who you are."

-Spike; Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Monday, February 4, 2019

Peas Be Mine!

Princess Elizabeth Sweet Pea
We are currently six weeks out from Spring, although you'd never know it from the view of snow flurries outside my window, right now, and for me that means it's time to start sowing seeds indoors in order to get a jump start on thriving Summer garden beds.

Last year, I accidentally found the perfect location for my sweet pea patch, and they absolutely exploded both in blooms, and in height.  To be honest, my expectations were kind of low since I'd never had much luck with robust sweet pea plants before.  I had done a little research, and also stumbled through blogs, and online articles about all of the "keys to growing sweet peas" I could stand, and it seemed that all clues pointed to starting the seeds indoors, and not waiting until after the last frost to take action.  The truth is though, for all of my indoor-plant-starting, I found no difference between the indoor starts, and the seeds I'd just kind of tossed out there late in the season to sort of fill in any bald spots.  So, I'm left believing that no matter when you plant, as long as you find your Goldilocks location (and you're in a temperate climate) you'll have a full season of hearty plants, and vigorous growth.  For reference, the area my sweet peas did the best had dappled morning light, and what I call afternoon sideways sun - where plants can receive sunlight, but it's not a harsh, direct beam shining straight down on them, it's an indirect exposure to the sun hanging low in the sky.  I'm curious to find out if I can get away with the same laissez faire approach this year, and have the same results, or if my 6 foot tall, late season sowing additions were just a big, wild, and happy accident.

At any rate, February is an excellent time to start poppy, tomato, and sweet pea seeds inside, if back yard gardening is your thing.  For my experiment, I'll be splitting my sweet pea stash in half, and starting one batch early, and adding the rest directly outdoors later in the season.

Happy planting!

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Purple Rain

I like the idea of spending a little time each day doing something for myself that will result in an actual tangible outcome, so when the idea of making a temperature blanket found me I was pretty well sold on the idea from the start.  As 2018 wrapped up, and projects wound down I had begun negotiations with myself not to start any new, long, and drawn out activities for the upcoming year ... So, naturally, that's exactly what I did!  For the last couple of years, I'd been toying with the idea of knitting a "sky scarf," where you look out the window and whatever color the sky is at that moment of each day, that's the color you use to knit a row of your project, but this being the PNW, and all, I figured if I wanted a grey scarf with little bits of blue in it here, and there I could just make that in a weekend, and not drag it out for an entire year.  I'd also kicked around thoughts about the Doctor Who scarf, but does anyone really need a twelve foot long scarf?  Answer: Yes (but I just wasn't feeling it this time around).  I needed something easy, with enough color variation to be exciting to me, and something that wouldn't take up too much of my time, and end up feeling burdensome.

Enter the temperature blanket. 

Each day this year I'll be recording the temperature for my location, and knitting the corresponding color into my blanket.  First, I needed to make my own temperature gauge, since the ones I'd found floating around the interwebs had numbers on them I see in these parts only a few times per decade, and I want to make a blanket that has more than three and a half colors in it.  Shrinking my color palette down to nine colors, and adjusting the numbers to reflect temperatures (in Fahrenheit) that are more common to my area was a crucial step.  Since my climate is so temperate, I'll also be recording the year's lowest lows to its highest highs transitioning on days when the temperatures stay the same both night, and day.  Not only will this make a more interesting blanket, and ensure the use of all of my colors, but the finished piece will depict a broader summary of the year's fluctuations.  To me, recording just the highs would be like telling a partial story.  Next,  all I had to do was figure out what on earth I was going to make.

Visions of chevron, and cabled lap blankets danced in my head, but I didn't want to have to learn something new for this, especially if it was going to be an everyday sort of thing, and since I began planning this around December 28th, I didn't feel I had enough time to perfect a new technique.  Also, this project is supposed to be relaxing and result in a gift for myself ... It's not going to feel like much of a present if I'm giving myself a headache every day for a year trudging through difficult patterns.

Then I found this

In a brief yet informative post, Staci walks us through everything we need to know about knitting a scrappy bedspread.  Bingo!  "I mean, why knit a little throw blanket, when you could knit an entire queen size bedspread?" I said to myself as I, once again, over-complicated something I'd been attempting to simplify, but when I saw her adaptation of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's Traveler's Life Afghan pattern resulted in 620 rows of stitches, I knew I was barking up the right tree.  I wanted to knit a garter stitch piece that could accommodate my desire for knitting two rows per day which will give the blanket a solid cord of color for each day on one side resulting in clean, sharp stripes, and create a bit of a gradient effect on the other side.  In the end, mine will come out at 730 rows, which will probably create enough fabric to pull over my pillows and create a nice, old fashioned crease of a smartly made bed underneath them, but we shall see.  Like Staci, and Stephanie I'll also be using the color changes as a further design element by clipping my yarn free from its skein at the completion of every row to create fringe up both sides of the blanket as I go instead of having to add it later.  Hopefully, tying them off at 5 strand increments should work out alright (stay tuned).

If you're interested in joining in, it's not too late!  

You can use my color / temperature chart, make your own, or find something else online.  Pinterest, of course, is loaded with ideas, and if you're not into the Care Bear Stare of a color palette I've created, there are folks who've made some pretty slick tonal combinations that elevate the look of the entire project I think, and give it a little more polish, and make it feel a little more grown up (that I wouldn't mind trying myself at another time).  Anyway, if you do want to take the leap, sort your yarn out, and you can find a back log of daily temperatures HERE.  Just click on your region, and go to the light blue "NOWData" tab to narrow down your selection even further.  Once you do, you can then select the dates you wish to view, et voilà, all of the daily highs and lows!

The Knitty Gritty:
Needles - Addi 40" Circular size: US 9 (5.5 mm)
Pattern - Staci Perry's adaptation of The Traveler's Life Afghan by, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Yarn - Red Heart Super Saver Yarn (It's cheap, durable, and available in a wide variety of colors)

xoxo

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Affirmative


My word for the year: YES