Thursday, 24 January 2013

Not so monochrome any more

buds of Jasmine in the snow

Our covering of snow has pretty much thawed, it was welcome, we had fun but I know I'm happy to see it go now. Will we get any more here? Probably not, but you never know.

What is welcome now is seeing colour return to the world around us. There has been signs of life emerging for a while, I recall an allotment neighbours plot having new rhubarb shoots just before Christmas - a bit early and no doubt the snow hasn't done it any good.

Even in the snow there was colour, our lovely Jasmine brightens the garden just as you walk through the back door.

Take a  little peek at the colours arriving slowly, just slowly for now around here ...

 Crocuses revealing themselves

 Snowdrops back from beneath the snow
 I didn't know the Babbington Leeks were back out of the ground again
 The red veined dandelion is back for salad pickings
and the daffs are starting to burst

Oh I am looking forward to Spring arriving, the days are getting lighter, colour is returning, the birds are chattering louder again.

I'm excited seeing the Bluebells coming through too, one of my favourits flowers - although a while longer before they start flowering.

Madder shoots

And look, see those shoots? That's the Madder ready to grow and spread again. Joy. It makes me think of plans for dyeing wool to spin.

There is colour within the home too, colourful spinning, and knitting, pictures soon.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

In a spin

2013 has started with a lot of spinning.

Firstly I finished the Black Hebridean with a little bamboo blended in. This is a 2ply yarn of DK weight.

Showing a truer colour (hard to photograph black well!)
 close up

Then I started on some of the fibre received for Christmas in a secret santa swap on Ravelry. Here is some Shetland roving 2ply - the skein in the middle. The other skeins are 1ply of the Shetland and 1ply of a batt I spun up that was Romney, Silk, Firestar and Glitz; a lovely sparkly batt.

close up of the Shetland. 
Blended 2ply in the background.

Planning projects with these yarns now.

More spinning in the works, more pictures to share soon ...

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Sharing our ...

Pictures from the last few days in which the South Coast was blanketed in snow, well at least this part of the South Coast was.

Coloured ice marbles also made an appearance in the garden and enchanted Imogen - "I want these to come every year when it snows, can they Mommy?". Well of course they can, although as the night they were left outside wasn't below freezing, Mommy had to requisition the help of the freezer!

 Falling to create a snow angel

And then colour returned to the garden ...

  My favourite - I think this looks like Earth!
Happy accident as one balloon burst before freezing so leaked into a bowl so when this one came out of the balloon it picked up some of the bits of green ice.

 Little hands around the world

Monday, 14 January 2013

Gardening activity and harvest

Finished knitting the tunic jumper, finished it a week ago now! It needed an wash and a bit of blocking so that's where it has been. Now I just need to weave in the cast on/off threads which I left until it was washed so maybe a task for this evening so that I can - a) show you a picture and b) wear it. Just in time too as it's quite cold out there today. More on knitting and spinning in another post soon.

And yes I have now cast on a new project, and been spinning. But today I will write about the allotment.

 Weeding, clearing, path replenishing
Oca on the bottom right cut back awaiting harvest, broad beans in bed beyond

Field beans as green manure

Winter time is a good time to take stock of the garden and allotment, and get some of the groundwork and pruning done. So we have been doing some of this, often just Alex but a few weekends and over the festive period we all went to the allotment and we are feeling positive about the work we've done so far. More to do, there always is but even the wilderness areas that have taken a lot of work (mostly by Alex) are opening up and offering up more growing space. Green manure is doing it's job in other areas.

Broad beans Autumn planted bed

The Broad Beans planted in Autumn are looking pretty good, a few gaps we can fill in with some back up plants in Spring. I have some other seed for Spring planting so we will have some of both this year. We have planted Garlic, but later this year so they are not up yet. We also have a long bed to still dig up the majority of this years Oca harvest. We have already cleared other areas and been enjoying their delights as usual, and having lots of spare have shared some with friends.

Some of the Oca harvest so far

Another harvest has been the Yacon and we have now dug up the rhizomes of these to replant in the Spring - don't want to lose them to frosts or frozen ground if we get it.

Some of the Yacon harvest

We've already enjoyed much of these, but here are some harvested at the weekend. They are an interesting tuber, grow a bit like a potato, similar in looks to a sweet potato, but the texture and taste are very different. They are also known as Peruvian Ground Apple, or often described as similar to pear. They certainly are similar to apples/pears in texture and have a sweet taste to them. Absolutely lovely raw in salads.

 Kales and chards harvesting and Sprout posies below

Also harvesting various greens - various Kales, some Sprout Posies, Chard, and Sorrel are all still producing; as are the perennial onions. It's so nice to be able to go to the allotment in January and bring back something fresh for tea.
Some of the Kales for continued harvest
Perennial area - Perennial Onions, Welsh Onions, Wild Garlic and Sorrel
and weeded Asparagus beds beyond

Lots of other areas weeded, cleared, covered with mulch to feed the beds. The Asparagus beds are weeded and ready for a new layer of well rotted manure to nourish the soil and plants. Pruning and path replenishing, it's all good.

And then there's all the promise of things to come ...

Figs on a bright Sunny day

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Revealing ... finished shawlette

A finished item from handspun yarn.

Spun from the gorgeous Autumn colours fibre below in November 2012, this is superfine Merino roving from Colinette and is super super soft. I love Autumn and the colours you see so this I decided would be knitted into something for me.

roving and separated into lengths for spinning 

Autumn leaves yarn

After browsing patterns on ravelry I decided upon a shawlette called Garden View, a free pattern and very simple but very pretty. I then had to be patient as I was knitting socks for Christmas gifts, so the skeins sat to  one side for a while. But Christmas day afternoon it's time came and I cast on. Knitted on and off for a week and it was completed. The pattern has seven leaves in the design but I added an extra leaf to the middle to make it just a little longer as my yarn was slightly off the pattern WPI gauge (no of course I didn't knit a swatch!).

I have blocked it to give definition to the pattern and here she is ... my Burnt Autumn leaves Garden View shawlette. I shall wear it more like a scarf and it is perfect for that as it isn't too wide.

Blocked and showing the scarfs entire length
 outside in slightly better light 

View of the rear
 Shawlette/scarf ready to wear 

Something to wear to brighten up any dull Winter days.

Linking up this project with Linda for Creative Friday.

Okay, back to the tunic knitting ...

Monday, 7 January 2013

Knitting on ... sticking to a target

I finished the Garden View shawlette that I started recently, it was finished a few days ago now and is currently blocking now so I shall share a picture of it soon. It's quite a dull day here so it won't photograph well at the moment. Knitting in my handspun Autumn colours, I love how it has come out.

sneak peek at blocking the shawlette - better pictures soon!

Having finished this quick knit, there are lots of ideas in my head of what to knit next. My plan this year is to really whip through some of the stash of yarns and especially the handspun yarns - they are beautiful as skeins but they deserve to become something more than a skein.

So my problem is what to start next. Then there is also the how many projects to start next. I like to switch between things so have to have at least a couple of things on the go. But I do want to try and avoid knitting project start-itis!

So while I think about it some more I have challenged myself to not cast on anything new until I have completed a WIP from last year - do you remember my handspun jumper/tunic I started back in April 2012? Knitting with the zwartble x fleece I spun in 2011, this tunic saw many false starts in casting on but eventually got going. Then it got left to one side for other projects, or spinning.

Tunic/jumper in progress

I picked it up again a couple of days ago and declared it will be done before anything new. Keep me on track if I start talking about casting on something new, or if you see me browsing patterns on ravelry. I'm allowing myself time to spin too but this jumper is all I am going to knit until it is finished.

Back soon with pictures of the shawlette and hopefully the tunic jumper soon too.