Sunday, 29 January 2012

Still bringing in the harvest ...

My mantra for 2012 for growing in the garden and allotment is to "do more, and do it better". Last year our efforts were not what they should have been. Other things getting in the way, other things given more priority. My previous post shows that the seeds are organised, now the planning of the beds is happening, and planning of the sowing of the seeds.

I'm itching to get going on some things, if only I could know that there isn't going to be a cold snap, but who am I kidding, it's still only January (just!). Wait and we shall be rewarded.

In the meantime, Alex is still bringing home harvested vegetables - spinaches, chard and beetroot and beet leaves. Sorrel aplenty too. A wonderfully successful harvest this year is the Oca - we have had many tub loads of these beauties, and many more still in the ground to come.

"One of the 'Lost Crops' of the Incas, this is one of the staples of people in Bolivia & Peru. 
A very easy crop to grow, with a taste just like potatoes with lemon sauce. No need to peel,
just boil and serve with butter. Mmmmm.
And the lush green foliage with yellow flowers is actually rather pretty in its own right. 
Very few pests seem to like it, so its a real 'no work' crop.""
(Real Seed website)

 Oca Leaves close up
Oca tubers

We saute them in chunks in a mix of olive oil and butter - only take about 10-15 minutes, they were even more wonderfully lemony when sauteed with some wonderful Sorrel!

A fabulous plant - in the ground a long time, need very little care, no posts, the tubers start growing when the days start to shorten in late Autumn (November time). The tubers continue to put on growth even when the plant has dies back.

So a little more patience as we are having a cold snap this week, time to get the greenhouse cleared and cleaned, although it will be housing over 100 bare root fruit trees next week for a week so once they've gone to their new homes the sowing can commence.

"There is peace in the garden. Peace and results" - Ruth Stout

Completely unrelated to growing food or Oca, today I have spent a wonderful day Spinning on a yarn design workshop. Lots of spinning, fun and much laughter with friends. Wonderful day!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Yarn Along

Joining in with Ginny over on Small Things for the Yarn Along, thank you for hosting Ginny.

Well I missed posting this last week when it was a newly started project and as it was such a quick knit it's already finished.

Wristwarmers in progress

Last year I knitted myself some stripy multi-coloured wristwarmers and Imogen asked me to knit her some recently. So I had a lovely ball of King Cole Riot chunky and thought that would be perfect for them. No pattern - just in my head, although I did make some notes in case I want to make any more as they fit so lovely. Only used about 50g, so have 50g left for something, who knows what.

 Finished wristwarmers modelled lovely
(yes in pyjamas!)

I'm still (slowly) reading Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett, but this week have also been reading some articles on plying in some back issues of Spin-Off magazine and spinning books. I'm attending a Spinning design workshop this weekend so was looking at ideas to try, inspiration and different ways to ply yarn. Oh and as you may be able to see beneath the first picture - browsing seed catalogues and checking growing charts for the sowing season ahead in the garden.

Looking forward to catching up on all those projects out there.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Seeds and planning ...

combining seed planning and knitting!

I don't like January. There I said it. Not because it's about getting over the over-indulgence and  over-spending at Christmas; we just don't do that. I don't like that it is so dark in the mornings still - it feels darker than December, although the days should be getting longer, I think the lightness is more early evening.

But what I do like about January is the anticipation of the growing season ahead. I love getting the seeds and organising them. This year I have transferred my seeds into a new to me seed tin. My previous tins have served me well but having the option to put all the seeds together was welcomed.

Old seed tins
and new seed tins
 So I have gone through the seed packets and popped them into the month of earliest sowing, taken out a few that we won't use or have too many of to take to the seed swap in February. Seeing them all there organised turns my attention to the guides, charts, books, previous records, etc to plan ahead.

Yes, January is a time for much planning and organising for the garden and allotment plot. I'm guessing I'm not alone in doing this at the moment - how are your plans and organising of seeds going?

Now I just need a good day to get out and clear and clean the greenhouse and I'm ready to sow, sow, sow ...

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Better late than never ... (and one for the Yarn Along)

Well these were a request for Christmas, a pair of hand knitted socks using some of my handspun yarn for Alex. Joining in again this week with the Yarn Along hosted by Ginny at Small Things.

The wool for these socks started from here ...

Dorset Horn Ewe and lambs
such beautiful little lambs!
 then it was sorted  here ...

washed, dried and carded ...


Following that, there were enjoyable hours spent here spinning the carded wool into singles and plying two singles together. A final wash to set the twist and a little help with winding the yarn into balls.

Imogen enjoys helping wind the yarn into balls

The knitting began, and wanting to try something different I followed a method of knitting both socks at the same time on one long circular needle. I like this method - it means the socks grow at the same rate, will definitely be the same length and avoids the Second Sock Syndrome!

Knitting 2 socks at the same time 
(shoe boxes are great for holding two balls of yarn!) 

They grew and grew, and then as usual I got distracted with other knitting and other crafts (oops), but got back to them ... although they weren't going to make it under the tree for Christmas.

 checking the foot length

But hey, better late than never, here they are fresh off the needles today, need a quick finishing wash but already well loved house socks.

Finished socks, perfect fit

Truly local socks too - Dorset Horn (Dorset being just down the road from us in Hampshire) fleece from sheep on the farm less than 4 miles away, skirted, washed, spun, plied, washed, knitted  at home and ready to wear. I have to knit myself some now as they are so cosy, and my daughter Imogen would like a pair too.

The book to share with this post is this one - 2-at-a-time Socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes, which inspired the method of knitting the 2 socks at the same time, great instructions to help you along the way - it is quite self explanatory once you get going though so this is going to be my method of knitting socks for the future. Still also reading the Pratchett book from last week, amongst other books I dip in and out of.

Looking forward to seeing what everyone else is working on. Now what to start next as I also finished the hat/scarf with pockets for Imogen which she loves - although it's so mild at the moment there is no need for it yet, but it's time will come. I will have to take a picture of her wearing it to show the fit and the pockets better than this picture does.

Finished hat/scarf with pockets - might be needed soon!

Off to cast on some more of the handspun for Imogen's socks - she's picked out the wool she wants me to use so here we go ... 

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Joining in the Yarn Along

For a long time I have read other blogs who join in on a Yarn Along - sharing knitting projects and what they are reading. For a long time I have thought I should join in with this as I enjoy both knitting and reading immensely. So this week, the start of the new year I am joining in with the yarn along hosted by Ginny on her blog Small Things - a lovely blog I have been reading and following for a while now.

Hat scarf combination for Imogen

I am this week intending to finish this project started a while ago but needs finishing now so that my daughter Imogen can enjoy the benefits of it while it is cold. This is being knit with a bulky yarn 50% wool/50% acrylic on size 9 circular needles. The hat was based on a pattern from Ravelry that I have adapted a little and added the scarf to. The scarf is simply knit in garter stitch - both sides at the same time ensuring the length is even and I am adding a pocket at the bottom for little hands to sneak into when cold.

As for the reading, I tend to have more than one book on the go at a time, to suit my mood for reading. Currently I am reading Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett, and enjoying reading a new Pratchett book after a long break. I had only realised I had not read this one when I was looking at his more recent book Snuff on Amazon - one for later.

Thank you to Ginny for hosting the Yarn Along, I can't promise I will be joining in every week, but will when I have something worth sharing and in the meantime will always be popping by to see what other bloggers are up to.

I have also written a blog post today over on the jointly written blog Spinspiration for our monthly online gathering of spinners, knitters, weavers, and all things woolly for Woolly Wednesday. Pop over and see what we are up to there - you are most welcome to join us at our informal gathering. I have shared there some pictures of finished (and unfinished) knitting projects from the festive period.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Hello 2012 ...

Happy New Year! Welcome 2012.

"Nothing is more highly to be prized than the value of each day"
 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

No new years resolutions, if you don't make them you can't break them! Aspirations are preferred.

Things to look forward to in the year ahead ...
Lots of spinning, gotta get through that wool! Started back at the wheel already;
Creative craft time, for me and craft time to share with Imogen;
Expanding the etsy shop;
Welcoming the seasons;
Events and celebrations - Chinese New Year, seasonal celebrations, etc;
Sorting out the house and garden;
Days out;
Seeing one of my favourite ever bands in London in May - reformed after 13 years away!
Olympics - tickets bought, looking forward to our days out in London;
Museum visits - a return to the Natural History Museum and a visit to the Science Museum;
Holiday ... don't know where yet;
Spinning more at public events;
Sowing, growing, harvesting;
Preserving foraged and home grown produce;
A seventh birthday;
Making gifts for Christmas! (ha ha, never too early to think about it!).
... and much, much more ...

what are you looking forward to this year?

St Leonard on Sea

Happy New Year x