27 June 2011

still life with garlic

The irony is my life has been anything but still this past week. I've been busy with the garden, work and - of course - all of the knitting projects I have halfway complete.

I saw this arrangement of bowls and vegetables on my table the other night and snapped a quick photo. If I were a painter I think I would be interested in how the garlic shoots and onion skins compliment each other.

Luckily, I'm not. No time!

Rhubarb stalks are also beautiful when they curve around the base of painted ceramic bowls. At the start of the weekend I tried out a new recipe for rhubarb banana bread.

When G was away at training over the winter the freezer became jammed with over-ripe bananas waiting for a recipe, but regular ol' banana bread gets boring after awhile. (Even with chocolate chips.) Adding a few cups of diced rhubarb to the batter, along with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, sounded like a new twist on an old favorite.

I also sprinkled a mixture of brown sugar and pecans over the batter before popping the loaves into the oven. They turned out delightful. I'm having a piece now, with a cup of mint tea. Here is a link to the recipe.

Knitting is also going well. I'm flying through the cabled front of my Aidez sweater. I think G is getting somewhat resentful, though, of us always having a piece of knitting between us when we settle down to watch some tv for the night.

Here's another view of the long panel of cables that runs down the front of the cardigan. I'm really loving the seed wishbone pattern and the ear of corn twisted stitches. It took me a few tries to get them right, but now I have the pattern memorized.

This yarn really makes the cables pop. It's a new colorway that my mother had spun up this past spring from her flock of CVM romeldale sheep. I believe I shared a few images of the fiber a while back, but here's another shot.

Contact tendrilandtwine@gmail.com if you're interested in procuring some of this wonderful fiber for yourself.

The gals are very busy munching grass and growing more.

23 June 2011

poem pillow

This afternoon finds me at my kitchen table with a jelly jar of wine and my computer. Pots are simmering on the stove and bananas are thawing, waiting to be baked into a bread. It's my day off, which means I sat around in my pajamas knitting until just about noon and then rallied my forces to run errands and prep for dinner.

This project is one I've been waiting to blog about for awhile. I gifted it to my cousin Ashley (often a model of my finished objects on this blog) at her bridal shower this past weekend. It's the poem pillow from Larissa Brown's Knitalong. This is the second time I've made this project and I'm just as thrilled by the results.

I had to practice my penmanship here and make sure that all of the poem would fit on the pillow. The poem I chose to use is Mary Oliver's West Wind # 2, a special favorite of the women in my family. I read this poem at my sister's wedding reception.

While this project is a fast knit, it requires many additional skills: sewing and weaving. I had to dig into my craft supplies to find the additional tools that I would need to piece it all together. I found amazing tidbits in my craft box.

And here are the results. Something that Ashley and her future husband Jeff can treasure forever. (Well, I don't know how keen Jeff will be about the pillow . . . but Ashley's a knitter, so she will take good care of it.)

Congratulations you two!

22 June 2011

cabbage patch socks + bean blossoms

My eyes keep catching on the pale purple accents on my cabbage and ornamental kale. This soft purple color also appears in the pair of home spun socks I'm knitting right now. I brought my project out to the cabbage patch this morning to snap some photos.

I left the "spin" in the yarn. This means I didn't set the twist before I started to knit these socks. So all of the stitches slant somewhat and there is a definite direction to the finished piece. I like this visible tension in the stitches.

I also found a few varieties of cabbage worms on my cabbage. One was bright green, the other was a pale gray-brown. Time to dust my cabbage leaves with some food grade diatomaceous earth. This has worked for me in the past. I forgot to do this about a month ago when I put the cabbages in.

Everything has grown about a half a foot over the past few days because we've received over 2 inches of rain here in the twin cities.

I need to get a rain gauge out in the garden so that I can track this more accurately - though the slugs nibbling on my zinnias should be enough of a confirmation to tell me we're a bit soggy here in Minnesota.

This is the ball of pot dyed combed top before I spun it into fingering weight single ply yarn. It reminds me of the blossoms that appear on peas and bean plants.

Some blossoms appeared over night on my snap beans. Soon I'll be harvesting beans and glazing them with brown sugar and red wine.

21 June 2011

summer solstice

Tonight I came home from work and went directly out into the garden to plant about a dozen asters. My summer job is at a small garden shop. I spend all day surrounded by plants and then come home to pull weeds and spread compost in my own garden.

Here's a few shots of where I work . . . or I guess I should say the plants that I work with. Today there were several thunderstorms over the course of the afternoon. The sun would break through the clouds between storms and make the air hot and humid.

Hope you are all having a happy summer solstice. I'm going to start to spin the combed top I previewed above.

20 June 2011

the red garden

This spring I had a few seeds of flame lettuce left over from last year. I planted them in my lettuce bed and my eye is drawn to their leaves every time I step out my back door. Over spring break I read Alice Hoffman's latest novel The Red Garden and I was inspired to use that as a theme for part of my garden.

This is a red dianthus that survived the winter and came back twice as big in my flower bed. I planted more of this hearty plant this year in hope that it will come back twice as strong next year.

I did ask myself if I could pull off this "stripey" red petunia in the garden but planted it anyway for its playful presence. Striped petunias make me think of carnivals and gypsies.

I love to reuse mesh produce bags. I also planted red onions in decorative clusters in my perennial beds.

Does this count as red? My radishes have been beautiful this year. Tonight I chopped them up and used them in a stir fry with grilled pork.

15 June 2011

9 lives of a ball of yarn

Sometimes it seems like some projects have 9 lives.

They start out as one thing and end up as another. This yarn (from the Kaffe Fassett Regia design line) started out as a sock. I wrote about this phase of the project in a previous post over a year and a half ago when I brought it to my cousin's wedding.

The sock was never finished and the project teetered in knitting limbo for about a year until . . . my sister announced she was pregnant. Then I unknit sock and started knitting a baby cardigan. The project was almost complete, when I ran out of yarn.

And then the project got stuffed back into the far corner of the closet again because school was starting and my sister was only two months pregnant at that time. Didn't I have all the time in the world to finish this project?

Baby's grow slow . . . right?

Not our Hannah. She's already wearing 9 month clothes and she's only around 6 months. I hurried to finish this sweater a few weeks ago and sent by mail to my sister's house. Now Hannah can wear it out on chilly summer evenings.

14 June 2011

more work on the garden

Yesterday I was out in the garden all day. G and I agreed that I was going to wait for him to get home from work (to go over the cleared patch with the tiller one more time) before I dug in. But I woke up yesterday morning, took one look at the plants waiting to be set in the ground and I just couldn't wait.

Here is some of what I planted. Saffron yellow yarrow, golden sedum, lemon verbena, lavender, maroon and magenta coleus, fragrant pineapple sage and two varieties of prairie grasses.

Are you catching onto my fragrant theme? Most of these plants give off a calming and refreshing aroma. As I weed and tend to this garden I want to be surrounded by wonderful fragrances. The butterflies were already flitting over yesterday to check out the garden.

So far this is what it looks like. I still have some annual grasses to plant around the edge and more dianthus to put in, but it's coming along nicely. These plants just need to find their roots and I'll soon have a beautiful garden on this side of the yard.

13 June 2011

fall mitts + summer garden

These mitts were a fast knit at the start of my summer break. They are a free download on Ravelry: Camp Out Fingerless Mittens by Tante Ehm and they are knit from the yarn in my previous post.

Life has been busy here in Minneapolis, we are putting in a new perennial garden.

That's the wheelbarrow in our backyard next to the new garden Garrett cleared for me this past weekend. I can't wait to fill it with flowers, herbs and colorful grasses.

Last night I sat at the table and picked out the seeds that I'm going to plant in this garden. Sunflowers, delphiniums, sweet corn and colorful daisies.

08 June 2011

wool and iced coffee

I knit more in the summer. It's probably because I'm living according to an academic calendar right now, but it seems strange (foolhardy may be a better word) to be sitting with a lap full of wool when the temperature climbs past 100 degrees.

I try to sit in the shade, of course - air conditioning preferably - but sometimes it's hard to beat the heat and the knitting needles have to be set aside and ice coffee must be consumed in large quantities.

Right now I'm working on some projects using this colorway of yarn. A pair of mitts that I saw on Ravelry. I'll be posting images of them soon.

07 June 2011

wild columbine + other stories

Gardeners are some of the most generous people out there. They seem to always be willing to share stories about their own mishaps and triumphs in the garden. Most are also willing to share clippings and plants from their garden beds to those novice gardeners who need somewhere to start.

Yesterday I went to visit a friend from work. She had promised me some plants from her perennial beds and a tour of her garden. I left with three boxes overflowing with lilies, dahlias, columbines and ornamental grasses.

The collection of images above come from my garden and kitchen. The radishes I planted in April are finally bite size and therefore good enough to toss in a salad. I planted one of the wild columbines near our front steps in a shady place. I hope it will bloom this year, but all of the other columbines seem to be blooming right now, so I may have missed it. (There's always next year.)

The spill of carrots and potatoes in the bottom row were an opportunity for me to harvest some rosemary, thyme and chives - plus some shallots and garlic from last year - and roast on the grill. The hibiscus blossom comes from an ornamental tree that my sister gave me last weekend. I put it on the front steps to farewell and greet me as I come and go.

Hope your gardens are spreading their roots.

02 June 2011

have you any wool?

the girls

I missed spring lambing at the farm this year, because of my crazy schedule at school. I missed the lambs jumping around the barn and racing up and down the barnyard. I was home this past weekend and we took a walk out into the pasture.

Sheep are strange animals, sometimes they'll ignore you like you're not even there (unless you're waving a bucket full of grain) and other times they'll come sprinting toward you like you're a long lost bosom friend that they haven't see in years.

Last weekend we got one of the sheep interested in following us out into the green pasture and the rest of the herd followed at a sharp trot. The bottle lambs were mostly interested in surrounding my mother and discovering if she had a bottle to feed them. Since she didn't they left her after a few inquisitive rises onto their hind legs to paw at her hands for the bright green grass.

Here some of last year's lambs are playing on one of my dad's manure piles. They like to play king of the hill and are very entertaining to watch. All of our sheep are coated from the earliest age, so their fleece is protected year round.

We still have some of this past springs skirted fleeces available for hand spinners as well as 2011 spring lambs for sale. Please inquire at tendrilandtwine@gmail.com.
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