Things that can cheer me up

Number one.   The first sign of Spring

Bulbs are peeking through

Soon these will be pretty Hyacinths with a gorgeous scent, right outside my front door to greet me each time I go into or come out of the house.  I do love these next few weeks every year, I get a ridiculous feeling of joy each time I notice more plants waking up out of their winter slumber.  The snowdrops are of course already out, they don’t count in a way because it really does still feel like winter when they are braving the elements.  It’s the Crocuses, Daffodils, Hyacinths etc that do it for me.  That feeling that Spring is on its way.

Writing this post has reminded me, it’s almost a year since I began this blog.  For me, it’s quite interesting to read back over and remember little things that are really so insignificant that I would have never remembered them otherwise, as well as the bigger events, the details of which are soon forgotten if not written down.  I’m glad I managed to blog a little bit about Shaggy over the past year, I just wish I had started this years ago when he was younger, more energetic and very amusing at times.   The main reason for starting this thing really was so that I could look back and remember, kind of an online journal.  The fact that sometimes other people read it and are interested/entertained/whatever by my musings is an added bonus…. I haven’t done very well with the post-a-week challenge recently though have I?

I’ll try to get some photos over the weekend to update on my knitting progress.

Gardening and knitting.

Tomatoes ready to ripen

My little back-yard garden is coming along nicely, considering that I really don’t give it the attention it should have.  I do water it most days but haven’t been overly active on the feeding side of things.  I should really because my tomatoes and cucumbers are abundant with fruit just waiting to ripen. 

Little cucumbers

Whilst they were still very small, I thought they were not going to survive so I planted a second crop as back up, some trailing cherry tomatoes to put into nice pots.  Now they are growing too and I’m not sure what to do with them!  I have put one of them in a tall pot with some mini surfinas and a basil variety called Minissimo with tiny leaves to keep them company

Trailing toms, basil and mini surfinas

and I have another two that are still languising in their little nursery pots as well as a cucumber.  I’ll ask Patrick, if he wants them as I don’t know whatever I will do with all these tomatoes if these ones crop as well as the Latah.  Mind you, as they’re not yet even flowering, whether they will fruit whilst the summer is still here to ripen them is unknown to me, being inexperienced in tomato growing as I am.  I also have some Pepper plants which are flowering and one or two of them have tiny fruit on, it’s very late in the year now though so I’m not overly hopeful about the success of these.  I must be earlier with my planting next year! 

Pepper plant in flower
Carrots, radishes and salad leaves

Finally, I have carrots, radishes and salad leaves, the radishes and carrots haven’t come to much yet but the salad leaves are fine, pity they’ll probably all be gone to seed by the time the tomatoes and cucumbers are ripe!

On the knitting front, I finished the Ishbel for Patrick’s sister Coral a few weeks ago and she was very pleased with it.  Here it is blocking. I really enjoyed knitting this and I’m sure I will knit it again and again.

I decided to bead the last section to add a bit of interest.  I was particularly pleased with how it turned out as it was my first attempt at knitting with beads.  I knitted a little sample of the edge chart to practice with and also to decide which of the 4 different beads I had bought (because I couldn’t make up my mind!) to use.  In the end I went for some dark green iridescent ones that I thought looked really effective against the pine green yarn.  The yarn I used was Cygnet Wool Rich 4ply in colour Pinemix.  Below is the beaded edge detail, the yellow things are pins not beads!

Bead detail
Bead detail
 I am almost finished with my Traveling Woman Shawl and am now on the last section and adding beads for a bit of bling.  I’m pleased with this and have enjoyed it more as I’ve gone along.  At first, I wasn’t getting on with the lace pattern, although I have to say it is incredibly easy to remember, I just seemed to have a mental block and kept having to count all the time.  It just clicked after the first repeat of the chart and I got along with it fine after then.  I really wanted to have it finished in time for the weekend because we are going away but I don’t think I can have it finished and blocked in time.  I am also STILL doing the boyfriend’s Hug Sweater!  Mind you, if I actually did some work on it instead of just saying I am still working on it, it might get done a bit faster!!  I can’t say that I’m hating doing it, I’m not, it’s just a bit tedious and there are so many other nice things I want to knit.  I know I will be thrilled once it’s done and I can present it to P, I thought of knitting him a sweater because I wanted to give him a gift that I had spent time making….and believe me, I have certainly spent a lot of time with this one!  Once I finish my shawl though I think I will concentrate on getting it finished.  P just cannot comprehend the constant flitting from one project to another but I know that all you knitters out there will understand perfectly 🙂

Bits and bobs

Stash 2010
stash 2010

Here I am again, it’s been a while, mainly due to my illness and then just generally being very busy.

 A couple of weeks ago, I decided to drag out all of my stash to see just how much there is when it’s all laid out in front of me. You can see the result above!  I’m trying not to buy anymore until I’ve worked through some of this but sometimes a bargain is a bargain and you just have to have it.  I’m not actively buying put it that way, it’s only if something jumps in front of me that I may succumb 😉

Knitting-wise though I am almost finished with my Waffly Jacket, pattern can be seen here  I’m just doing the collar and then have to seam it.  It’s really lovely in the variegated Patons Jet that I’ve used.  In between, I knitted a trellis beret from Woolly Wormhead, using Roman Romance from my stash I may add…polishes halo.  It also is lovely and what with this flipping horribly weather, I’ve been wearing it too!  Next up I think is going to be Stolen Moments Wrap which can be seen here  I have some James C Brett Marble chunky in greeny-blue colours that I won in our knitting group raffle and I think it will look lovely knitted up as this wrap. 

Gardening, my tomato, cucumber and pepper plants are all still doing well but I really need to pot them on soon and get them into my little mini greenhouse that my boyfriend put together for me at the weekend.  The cucumbers are flowering already!  We have done a fair bit of work in my boyfriend’s garden too over the past two weekends.  He had a wall built so that he could create a raised bed with a little pond and water feature.  We had a tonne of top-soil delivered on Sunday and got the raised area filled, the bucket for the pond sunk in and all the plants put in too.  We also planted up some hayrack type wall baskets (12 of them to be exact) and will hopefully be doing the hanging baskets this weekend so in the summer (hahahaha) it will be a riot of colour and we will have a pretty fountain to tickle away in the background whilst we sit and relax and enjoy our work.  I’ll get some pictures up when it’s all done.

That’s my update for now, I must try to keep up with this more often and to get pictures included too.

Container gardening!!

On Sunday, I decided that it was time to start off some of my seeds in my little electric propagator.  I got this propagator last year from our local Freecycle along with loads of plant pots, too many for me ever to use and I ended up Freecycling a lot of them myself.  Freecycle is a great idea and most areas have a scheme going.  The idea is that if you have something you no longer need, you post on the Freecycle site and if anyone wants it, they contact you and you can then arrange to give it to them.  Similarly, if you are in need of something, (say a small electric propagator) you can post a wanted message and if anyone has one they no longer need or use, they can contact you to arrange to hand it over. 

Anyhow, I digress.  So, on Sunday afternoon I cleaned up the propagator which has been lurking in the shed for the past year, plugged it in to warm up and then set about filling twelve little pots with seed compost and planting my first seeds of the year.  Four each of Miniature White Cucumbers, first one on this page, Latah tomatoes, 2nd one down on this page and Kaibi Round sweet peppers, 2nd one down on this page  I attempted to grow all of these last year, the tomatoes were a success and fruited right up to December!  The cucumbers were a partial disaster/partial success in that I put them out too early and we had some really severe rain and wind and they got battered to death.  I then planted another seed and it germinated and grew really well, lovely pretty yellow flowers and simply delicious cucumbers but then I went on holiday and left my 17 year old son in charge of watering them…yep you guessed it, poor thing, along with the tomatoes was almost dead when I got home a week later although after copious watering, the tomatoes survived, the cucumber alas went off to that great greenhouse in the sky.  The peppers just didn’t amount to anything and never flowered or fruited so I think I didn’t start them off early enough and hope I’ve rectified that this year.  It was my first attempt at container growing last year though and I’m naturally hoping for better results this year.

I stumbled across The Real Seed Catalogue whilst searching for organic seeds on t’interweb last year and was impressed by their ideas and ethics.  They encourage their customers to learn how to collect seeds from their own plants and produce a free leaflet how how to do just that, which would seem as though they are doing themselves out of business but they appear to be really passionate about what they do and about growing real vegetables rather than the hybrids we get so much of nowadays.  If you are interested in growing your own veg from seed, don’t go to B&Q for packets of seeds, read about these people here and have a browse through the website.  I can honestly say that the tomatoes I grew last year were quite simply the most tasty and firm tomatoes I have ever had and I can’t wait to be eating them again this year.  Bye Bye supermarket tomatoes for the summer (and beyond if last years crop is anything to go by)

Two days after sowing and my cucumber seeds are sprouting already!  I’m simply astounded at how quickly they have germinated.  I love growing from seed, it never ceases to amaze me how miraculous it all is.  A tiny dried seed has all that creation inside it.  I love how the tiny plant breaks out of the seed case, it peeps up from the compost, doubled over like a little hook and gradually straightens, strengthens and grows, producing flowers and fruit, which then seed and the whole process starts again.  Amazing!  I feel like a new mummy watching my babies grow.  I’ll keep you well posted on progress.