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Garden Work

Garden Work

May 20, 2010
In between the days and days of rain have been a few nice, warm, sunny days. We’ve been able to use those nice days to get our garden started. The past couple years have been pretty embarrassing in the vegetable garden department. The first full summer we, under my ambitious direction, plotted out a 20 by 26 area of our yard and dug up the grass, roto-tilled, planted tons of things and actually harvested a lot. The second year I couldn’t put the time into it that I wanted/needed to, so I grew mostly weeds. Last summer was the wedding and we knew we’d be busy and gone on our honeymoon for a whole week and didn’t plant anything. But we also didn’t do anything out there to prevent the whole 500+ square foot area from being completely consumed by weeds that eventually grew into 5 foot tall tree-type things!
So the task of clearing out the “garden” was a big one. Ryan set to work and got it cleared out in half a day’s time. The following weekend he bought landscaping timbers and started building raised beds. The weekend after that we salvaged a lot of great soil from other areas of the yard to fill our new raised beds.
Last weekend I planted cherry tomatoes, red peppers, brussel sprouts, carrots, radish, parsely, borage, thyme and oregano. Last night we filled another bed with more salvaged dirt and I planted two lemon cucumber, two bush cucumber and four zucchini. I learned my lesson with zucchini that second year. I only planted one plant and didn’t get a single zuke from it. If you only have one plant, there is nothing around for it to cross-pollinate with, and you get no fruit. (it’s still called fruit on a veggie plant, yes?) So this year I’m making sure and planting four. Because I LOVE zucchini! And I want to try to stuff and fry some zucchini blossoms, and don’t want to feel bad about picking the flowers and tiny baby zukes before they get big.
Here is how it looked out there this morning.
We have two more beds to build and need to find dirt to fill three of them. I think we can salvage more dirt from the rest of our yard, enough to fill one more bed, but then we will probably have to buy some for the last two. If we dig any more, our yard will look like a quarry. The next bed will have broccoli, cauliflower, and jalapenos. Then we’ll have one whole bed for Watermelon, since that is a vine and you need a lot of real estate just to get one or two melons. And the last bed will be for lettuce and spinach. We are also going to plant sweet corn around the west side of the garden (so as not to block sun all day) and green beans and sugar snap peas on the north side, to grow up the fence. I had such a problem with japanese beetles the last big garden year, I hope these past two years of no garden has fended them off a bit. I still got A LOT of beans that year, despite the beetles, so even if they do come back I’ll have a squirt bottle filled with soapy water at the ready!
On the rainy days, I’ve been knitting. A lot actually. I have my Whisper Cardigan about 18 rounds away from casting off for the 2nd sleeve.
I am still working on the second toe-up sock, I carry that one in my purse but rarely knit on it.
And for some reason, decided to start a second pair of toe-up socks using my Twizzle sock yarn that I coveted for so long.
I have already turned the heel on the first sock! This yarn is a bit bigger than most of my other sock yarn, so it is going really fast. I should probably be using size two needles I think. But the density of this sock will be great on size 1.
Today is only Thursday. Every day this week has felt like Friday for some reason, and I keep waking up and 3 seconds later being pretty disappointed that it still is not Friday. Looking ahead at the calendar, this weekend appears to be the last weekend we have totally free until late June. I plan to use it to it’s fullest!

This post originally appeared on Textile Stockpile on May 20th, 2010.  A year’s worth of posts were lost when I switched servers, but they’ve been found and I’m updating and reposting them here. Stay tuned for more!

Snow today, gone tomorrow

Snow today, gone tomorrow

Last week here in Michigan we got A LOT of snow.  I’d guess it was almost a foot over a whole week.  8 inches of it was all in one day, and I even got to have a SNOW DAY from work!!!  So when I saw that the temperature for the coming week was going to get into the balmy forties, I decided I should use the snow while we had it.

My mom-in-law told me about Snow Dying, she said you layer the (soda-soaked) fabric in a container however you wish, then cover with snow and pour the dye over the snow.  So that’s what I did.  I waited until about 4:30 Saturday afternoon and soda soaked my fabric while I mixed 5 dye concentrates (I don’t use a recipe or anything, I just mix between 1 tsp to 2 Tbsp dye powder with 1 cup of warm water).  I set the dye concentrates outside to cool a bit while I wrung out the fabric and got my containers together.

Outside on the picnic table covered with at least 8 inches of snow, I slapped the buckets deep into the snow to keep them upright in case it got windy.  The first bucket, I put about 2 inches of snow in the bottom, layered the somewhat scrunched fabric on top and then more snow.  I packed it down a bit too.  It was really heavy, wet snow.  Good snow-man snow (and boy, you should have seen some of the pretty impressive snowmen around our house!) Then I poured the dye concentrate over the snow.  The liquid was still pretty warm, so it did melt the snow a bit. 

Bucket 1, one yard of fabric, two dye concentrates, lots of snow
In the other bucket, I scrunched the fabric into the bottom of the bucket and packed some snow on top.  I poured the first color of dye concentrate over the snow and let it sit for just a minute (I was outside with no coat and just rubber gloves, and I am impatient).  I layered a second piece of fabric, with more snow and more dye and did it all once more so I had three layers of snow and fabric.  I basically followed the Parfait Dying instructions from Color by Accident by Ann Johnston, but added layers of snow. 

These are two from the ‘parfait’ bucket
I figured for the best results, I would leave the buckets outside overnight and let them thoroughly re-freeze and make sure the dye can really get into the fiber, which I thought may have been slowed a bit by the cold temperature.    The next morning I brought the buckets in and put them in the bathtub to warm up enough to scoop the snow out. 
Then, rinse, wash and admire.
I didn’t realize when I was mixing my colors that I was pretty much making purple each time.  oops!
Next time I think I’ll try layering the soda soaked fabric and snow but leaving that outside overnight (depending on how cold it is, it may only take an hour) so the fabric can freeze.  Then pour cold dye over the snow.  I think that would give me crisper lines and more mottling. 
Also over the weekend, I finished my first toe-up sock!  I knit around and around until the leg was about 12 inches from the heel.  I was worried that the taller the sock got, the tighter it would be on my leg, so my first thought was to increase stitches.  But I couldn’t decide how to stick to my 2 by 2 ribbing and also add increases.  So I increased every 8 stitches on one round, but changed to all knits to create a roll top sock.  I did a few more increase rounds and maybe had a 1/2 inch worth of stockinette and decided I didn’t like it.  I ripped back to before the increases and decided all I would need to do to make the leg circumference bigger AND keep my 2 by 2 ribbing is go up one needle size.  So for the last two inches of the leg, I used size 2 dpns.  
Toe-up sock #1,  toe taken from IK Summer 07, heel and cast-off from Socks from the Toe Up by Wendy D. Johnson
I don’t think I’ve been this fiber-productive in a long time.  It feels pretty good and I think it fended off a cold I felt coming on.  Solid proof: knitting heals your soul and your body.  I’m sure the chocolate helped too.