2015 Garden Updates (#1)

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My garden this year is going to be a little different… usually I have that lovely raised bed in my parents’ backyard, but since I’m staying in the city this summer, I’ve got a lot less space to work with. No to worry, though, I’ve read time and time again that balcony gardens can produce way more food than you expect! Since May was crazy with moving and everything else, it’s been a bit of a slow start, but here’s what we’ve got right now:

-Little pots of herbs (dill, parsley, cilantro, chives, and lavender from seed, and spearmint and Italian basil from purchased seedlings)
-A planter of leaf lettuce (Grand Rapids, from seed)
-A planter of spinach (Bloomsdale Longstanding, from seed)
-One of those upside down planters with a cherry tomato plant in it. There were originally two, but the wind the other night proved to be too much for the less sheltered plant. I have no idea if these planters work, but they were recommended in a book and I’d love to make space vertically.

I’ve still got lots of things I’d like to plant, and for now, the next few tasks are replanting that tomato plant, planting carrots, and turning a really big rubbermaid tub that we got off freecycle into a self-watering planter. I think I’m going to put beefsteak tomatoes and pole beans (probably Kentucky wonder again) in it.

In completely unrelated news… is anyone going to the Textile Museum sale tomorrow or Saturday? Tips from anyone who has been in the past? I’m really looking forward to it!

Yarn Along

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This week, I’ve been…

Knitting :: A simple pair of toe-up socks, but with a twist- an afterthought heel! I’ve never done an afterthought heel before, but I like it so far! The yarn is Turtle Toes self-striping, which I picked up at the Toronto Knitter’s Frolic a few weeks ago. It’s neat because it comes in 2 identical small skeins- one from each sock. As long as you start from the same end of both balls, your socks turn out the same!
(Rav link)

Reading :: I’ve just started Where’d You Go, Bernadette, which lots of people have been recommending. I’m only a little ways in, but it seems like it will be a fun summer read.
I’ve also been perusing The Beginner’s Guide to Growing Heirloom Vegetables, which is a nice guide to some basic heirloom varieties with beautiful photos. I just wish it had more info about container gardening with heirloom varieties- if you have any resources, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

What have you been knitting and reading this week?

Linking up with KCCO and Yarn-Along.

Lately

PicMonkey Collage

Hello friends! I promise I’m still alive, the past few months have just been insanely busy. Fortunately, classes are done and I’ve finished all but one of my final exams and assignments, so I’m slowly getting back into doing things that aren’t schoolwork. A few general life updates for you today:

1. We’re moving! We’ve found a new apartment, and I’m so excited to move in at the beginning of next month. I cannot express how happy I am to be moving from a basement into a place with lots of windows and lots of light. We even have a balcony, so I’ll be planting some veggies in containers (I’ve actually already started some of the seeds). I’m really looking forward to being able to blog more often, and with the better photos… expect to see a lot more of me around here in the next few months!

2. I am so excited to announce that I’m starting a business this summer! I’ve won a grant and it’s going to make it possible for me to do some really cool stuff in the upcoming months. I can’t tell you too much yet, but I can tell you that it will involve some very special yarn and some very special dyes, and you’ll be able to buy the yarn starting in May. More news to come in the next few weeks, and the launch should be sometime around the second week of May.

How have you been the past few months? I’d love to hear about any updates in your lives!

Toasty.

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As I think I’ve mentioned here before, our apartment can get pretty chilly. Even when the heat’s working properly, it’s a pretty old house and the basement is the coldest floor. I find my hands are always so cold when I’m doing computer work, so when I saw Leslie’s little collection of gloves a few weeks ago, I knew I had to make a pair for myself.

I am so pleased with how they turned out! They fit perfectly, they were so easy to make, and they keep my hands nice and toasty! The yarn I used is Rocky Mountain Dyeworks Troll Falls Worsted in Bronzite, which is perfect for this pattern. Rocky Mountain has been discontinued, but Hasmi now sells her yarns as Raventwist, and is still one of my favourite Canadian dyers.

Big thanks to HX for helping me take photos of these!

(Rav link)

What have you been knitting this week?

Crunch time.

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I promise I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth, despite the radio silence here last week. I’ve just hit crunch time for this semester… all of my energy is being funneled into coursework, job hunting, apartment hunting, volunteering, and so on. I did get to go home for reading week, though, so that was a nice break. I’m hoping I’ll be back to regular posting next week. In the meantime, I hope you’re all well- let me know what you’ve been up to in the comments!
(Knitting above- my Aidez Cardigan)

7/52: Looking Back.

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Every week this year, as a little photo challenge, I’m sharing a black and white shot of my roommate’s cat. To see all of the photos so far, go here.

This week, she is…

Still at our apartment while I visit my parents during my reading break, so this week’s and next week’s photos are from the past 2 months. This one is from the week H got Lyra, when we were both still home for Christmas. She’s settled in so well since then!

Brunch and Cables.

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As I’ve mentioned before, H and I are doing Sunday brunch with a few friends, alternating between our apartments. It’s one of my favourite things… shuffling in from the snow, making cups of coffee and tea, mixing ingredients for pancakes, maybe knitting a few rows if there’s a spare moment.

Right now, I’m working on my Aidez… I’m hoping to finish it before the weather gets too warm to wear it (although given the temperature this week, it’ll be awhile). I’m about halfway through the back, which will be the longest part since there are so many charts at once. I’m still in love with this colour… Cascade Eco+ in 958 Cinnamon.
(Rav link)

How has your week been so far?

Linking up with KCCO and Yarn-Along.

Natural Dyeing.

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As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’ve been gathering supplies for awhile to try out natural dyeing! As you can see above, my first attempt was pretty successful.

I dyed 10 mini skeins in total (20g, about 40-50 yards each). I mordanted all 10 skeins using alum and cream of tartar (7g of alum and 6g of cream of tartar per 100g of yarn) by simmering them in a big pot for 1 hour.

I dyed 5 of the skeins in simmering dye baths for 1 hour, using dyes made from onion skins, turmeric, frozen spinach, avocado pits (smashed open) and black beans (soaked for 12 hours). For the remaining 5 skeins, I drained off the leftover dye from each pot into jars and put one skein into each jar. I let them sit for 72 hours and they’re drying now.

Fortunately, the skeins dyed in a hot dye bath are well dried, so you can see the colours! I love the bright yellows from the turmeric and onion skins, and pink from avocado is so unexpected. The only dye that didn’t really take was the spinach- I think perhaps vegetable dyes might take better to fibre mordanted in vinegar. Maybe I’ll give it a shot, although I’ve heard it makes your house smell awful.

If you’d like to give it a try, here are a few of my favourite resources:
Liesl’s posts on natural dyeing
The Modern Farmer guide to natural dyeing
Kate’s very instructive post on dyeing
Kate’s tumblr posts of her dyeing experiments
C├ęcile’s natural dyeing posts

Have you ever dyed yarn? What are your favourite natural dyes?