While the hawk flew by
Thursday April 19th 2018, 10:06 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit,Knitting a Gift

Done and drying: I do like that Anniversario colorway.

As the English Morello tree holds up a sign to the honeybee highway: Will Bloom For Cherries.

 



Stilettos
Wednesday April 18th 2018, 12:14 am
Filed under: Garden,Life

This is the time of year when the weeds go to seed here. They come up in January before the grass (which still tries) and choke it out, then dry up when the rains stop.

Except, the rains haven’t stopped, so they are really going to town. Pretty little purple flowers were starting to carpet half the back yard. Charming–if you don’t know.

A friend responded to a tree company’s offer of “free mulch!” and found himself with an entire truckload dumped on his driveway. After several weeks of hard labor trying to get it to his back yard and spread around with his little kids sort-of-helping, he finally cried uncle and begged the teenagers at church to rescue him. They came, and some of their parents, and got it done.

There’s no way I was going to do that to them or me.

In a moment of desperate inspiration, then, the light bulb went off. I have all those frost covers.

I spread them out across almost the entire infested area. I came close. I held the edges down with anything I could find. I should have done this way sooner but I thought of it when I thought of it.

Well, that’ll look pretty to all those airplanes flying up there.

I kept them in place for a week. Sorry, bees, but hey, the cherry and lemon trees are blooming.

My lawn mowing guy was coming today so I gathered the covers up last night, curious to see the result.

You could tell exactly where they’d been: there were short weeds and there were tall weeds, in squares. They’d suddenly put all their energy into trying to outgrow this barrier to their sun and energy. The covers didn’t black it out–they were designed not to–but laid out flat rather than tucked around, there was a double layer everywhere.

I saw just a few clusters of stiletto-sharps.

I was very pleased with myself. It made it worth putting up with a frankly ugly view out there during the experiment.

And then tonight I went to go put a frost cover on the mango.

Oh.

What stabby seeds there were had been velcroed onto the covers. Well, that works, too, I guess.

(On the phone over an hour now with Turbo Tax, trying to figure why our returns appear not to have been transmitted by them last week. Fun times. Glad I asked why there had been no confirmation.)



Spring leaves, once the stitches were flattened out
Saturday April 14th 2018, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift

(It’s greener than this. Photo taken before blocking.)

I would have preferred to have used just the Arroyo dk weight but that would have taken more hours than I had left–so when I found two half-ball remnants of fir-green mink laceweight that matched it and that would smooth out the other’s color changes, I grabbed my size 7s and cast on.

A day later, it’s done. If it’s still damp in the morning it’ll get hairdryered.
Meantime, the still-squirrel-free Stella cherry and the Yellow Transparent apple trees.

A honeybee was happily climbing in and out of those apple flowers.

Tiny baby peaches had shown up overnight on the Indian Free and I thanked those bees for keeping close tabs on the place.



Plus the spiky plants on the left
Saturday April 07th 2018, 9:43 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

Stella sweet cherry blossoms. Squirrel free. We are finally actually there.

(Not shown: bird spikes on various branches and collapsed, old and broken but clearly still useful bird netting tents around the trunk of the tree, making it so the critters have nowhere to scramble down to and no way to leap across from the fence without risking being porcupined. A little cinnamon dusting for extra effect, and I have finally stopped them from chewing off the flowers.)



A son of goodly parents
Saturday March 31st 2018, 11:10 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift,Life,Wildlife

Not a single squirrel so much as ran down that fence line, as far as I saw today. Several times they came down the side fence, stopped, sniffed in the direction of the cherry tree–nuh UH, and turned the other way and disappeared into the yard behind instead. Two new cherry flowers today and they were left alone. Unsweetened grape Kool-aid solution for the win!

The blueberries might need some of that soon.

And over at the needles, beaded silk. It’s Conference weekend, and two two-hour online sessions of watching the leaders of the Mormon Church helped get a lot of knitting done, with an occasional glance over at squirrel antics.

The stunner/not-surprised-in-hindsight was the announcement that someone who grew up in our ward, whose family we know well, was called to be one of the twelve apostles. I cannot think of a better man in every way that they could have asked to represent and offer Christ’s love and compassion to the world. I’m so glad his 91-year-old mom got to live to see the day.

There are two more sessions tomorrow, starting at 9 am and 1 pm Pacific time.  Wishing a joyful Easter to all who celebrate it and every good thing to all.



Well at least it reminded me to prepare
Friday March 30th 2018, 10:40 pm
Filed under: Garden,Lupus,Wildlife

I was looking forward to seeing the fully-open flowers in the morning.

When I got up there was no sign they’d ever been there.

I checked around the ground for snails and cut back some of the ground cover too close to the tree that they could have climbed over from.

As the day went on some new flowers showed white at the top of the tree and I was looking forward to the sun getting lower so that I could go out there and get a closer look.

What I got to see instead was a squirrel this afternoon hanging upside down from the very top of that branch, the very top of the tree, snarfing my flowers. My flowers! There would be no cherries up there, either.

This is how I learned that yes, you can run halfway across the yard with the handset in hand snarling at squirrels in the middle of a conversation with your parents, who are suddenly quite confused as to how the conversation took *that* turn, and not have the line drop out on you.

One very surprised squirrel scrambled out of there at top speed.

I explained what all that had been about.

Meantime, yonder squirrel (or its double) after awhile came slowly back along the top of the fence to within leaping range but stepped no farther. It looked at me from across the yard and through the window. I gave it The Look. It hung its head. It looked at me. I was still giving it The Look.

It gave up and slunk away.

After the phone call was done I went out there with my forgotten-till-now spray bottle of *grape Kool-aid, still good from last year. I was going to make those buds not tasty and not wanted. ZAP. Away with you!

Those were the very first Stella cherry blossoms of the year and thankfully there are a lot more coming.

—–

*Wikipedia: “Methyl anthranilate acts as a bird repellent. It is food-grade and can be used to protect corn, sunflowers, rice, fruit, and golf courses. Dimethyl anthranilate (DMA) has a similar effect. It is also used for the flavor of grape KoolAid.” Let me add, and squirrels think it’s nasty stuff, too. They might actually have a point, but hey.



It sparkles!
Monday March 26th 2018, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Knitting a Gift

Figs!

The woman at Stitches who’d beaded her yarns herself, when I told her I loved that her glass beads were so small, told me that they kind of had to be or they’d run together in the strand.

Knowing she wasn’t going to be selling me any more (not online anyway) till her show season was over, I went looking for what I could find. I bought some beaded silk yarn from this lady and in talking to her, found out she had some in black, too, and in a bit of a leap of faith ordered a skein of that as well.

I’m so glad I did.

The beads on these are a bit bigger (but not big) and heavier and do tend to come in the occasional clump. Alright then. I just take them as they come and keep on going–part of the pattern of the thing, I figure, and it’s coming out soft and sparkly and absolutely gorgeous. Altogether the most perfect thing I could have found for the person I’m knitting it for.



Peachy
Friday March 23rd 2018, 10:21 pm
Filed under: Garden

Thought I’d share a few new peach blossoms for those of you whose winter seems endless this year. (If you ever want instant gratification followed by a lot of pruning work, buy a fruit tree with standard-height rootstock: that Indian Free just turned two.)

Here, let me walk a little closer.



Peachy pink
Tuesday March 20th 2018, 9:54 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Knitting a Gift

Seventy inches. That had been the goal all along.

I put down the wedding afghan project to knit my friend Jerry two hats to wear over his brain tumor surgery scar, and since the afghan is heavy and half cotton it’s hard on the hands and it was easy to let it wait some more while I cast on cowl after cowl.

But it was bugging me, and rightfully so. I was so close. I pulled it out of the overstuffed ziploc today and got to it.

When my hands had had enough for now, I laid it out on the floor.

Seventy. I can’t tell you how good that felt.

I have easily enough on that ball for one more pattern repeat, though, and given that cotton tends to shrink vertically, it would be a good idea. So I will.

Meantime, the Baby Crawford peach (above) still has a few new flowers for the Indian Free that is not yet fully in bloom and can’t set fruit alone. Here’s hoping today’s rain didn’t wash all the pollen away? If anyone knows more on that subject than I do, please let me know. Thanks!

 



Letting it go is a no smalt thing
Saturday March 10th 2018, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift,Life

A few mild days and nights and suddenly there are baby figs (that’s two there, with a leaf whorl at the top) and more Indian Free peach blossoms. (Just noticing–the copper tape needs fixing. It does work at keeping the snails and slugs from eating the fruit tree flowers at night, but only when it goes all the way around.)

I had a cowl I’d started yesterday that I wanted done. I would describe it as densely spun almost more like a sock weight, 66/34 cashmere/cotton (mine was the smalt blue) that I wound off into two 75+ gram balls a few months ago.

Straight from the cone without scouring first. I’d forgotten that. That was a mistake. I believe in letting me enjoy the yarn as much as the person who gets it, but this time with the dried-hair-mousse effect still there, let’s just say it accentuated the knitting-with-cotton aspect.

The wooden circular needles did not want those stitches to slide across (after all, the whole purpose of that coating is to keep fibers together in the spinning process), and when I tried to change to a smoother pair I found my others that said 4mm were, but the one in my hands was more like a 4.2–they didn’t match up and I was stuck with it. At least I’d cast on doubled to speed things up.

I started at 10:30 this morning. Other than a load of laundry, heating leftovers, icing my hands, and a quick run to the grocery store, I basically knit all day long, breaking the yarn at long last at 8:40 p.m.  Done.

After all that angst and those short circs, I finally got to try it on in its crumpled-tin-foil stage of the lace.

Oh. Blink. That’s why I did this. This is actually gorgeous. Who’d have thought.

Almost crowded out by the thought of I DID IT AND I NEVER HAVE TO DO IT AGAIN!

It is soaking those oils out in the suds and will be luscious and soft. Or at least softer. Tomorrow I will simply totally love it.

Whether I’ll be ready to give it up immediately after all that is another story whose ending I quite honestly don’t know yet. Let me look at it in the morning. That vividness is not quite my shade of blue. Close, though.



Set and match
Thursday March 08th 2018, 11:59 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Knitting a Gift

Leaves and flowers on the Santa Rosa plum, with the Indian Free peach behind it popping out its first flower.

The teal-blue silk cowl came out roughly 13×13″. It will stretch downward somewhat over time, and I’ll tell the recipient that if she wants the top edge tighter I can do that: you pick up two stitches, cast off the first, pick up another, cast the previous one off till you’re done. No problem.

Not that I think she’ll find the least bit of fault in it, I just thought I’d throw that out there in case anybody hasn’t done that before to fix a too-loose edge.

Meantime, I took the second skein of Chalet and knit a not-oversized baby alpaca cowl in order to give my friend Y several to choose from; she wanted cashmere, I have a cashmere one, but color is everything and this is softer than some cashmeres and beige goes well on her. Up to her. It’ll be dry in the morning.

I used the last of the yarn from last week’s hat to win my game of yarn chicken.



Blossoming
Thursday March 01st 2018, 11:53 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift

On the day of the first decent rain in a month, out in the yard these August Pride peach flowers are darkening on their way out while the Santa Rosa plum is just getting going. I’m hoping that most of the buds wait a few more days for the sunshine to keep some pollen for the honeybees and fruit, but hey. I’m just relieved it’s raining. (That is an understatement. It’s been bad.)

The tree bracelets down there are wide paper-thin strips of copper to keep the snails from crawling up at night and eating the flowers and fruit. It works, too.

Today’s half a cowl so far: the Cat Mountain Fiber Arts yarn that I bought at Stitches–I’m not seeing it on her site (yet?)  50/50 merino/silk, 225 yards/100g in the colorway Wood Nymph. Pretty stuff.



One more way to stay in touch
Monday February 19th 2018, 11:57 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Garden,Knit,Wildlife

There! I said in triumph, done with it for the night. I octopused it.

You what? He wasn’t sure he’d heard that one right.

You know how octopuses can squeeze into anything? I got 61″ of afghan and that ball into that ziploc. (Warning: great National Geographic video in that link, annoying announcer–you might want to turn the sound off.)

Meantime…

I was talking to a friend yesterday who has just bought a house a half hour north of us and is getting ready to move into it. This is a rare and marvelous achievement around here these days. I was wondering out loud if she’d like a fruit tree as a housewarming present.

Because I know how many times I’ve wished I’d planted mine when we moved here, rather than most of them at 25 years later when my kids were newly grown and I needed to still see something grow up year by year under my care. Plus I wanted the fruit. Plus I think they’re pretty trees.

She instantly knew exactly what she wanted and she was ecstatic–was I serious?

Absolutely! As I thought, my late father-in-law is the one who encouraged me to start gardening, and that would be the best use I can think of for some of the birthday check he gave me in December just before he died.

I checked the Dave Wilson site and they said the Blenheim (Royal) was the #1 apricot in California and the top-rated one in their taste tests. But also, as I said to her yesterday, one good thing about apricots is that they’re a little tart and squirrels don’t like tart.

It turns out she knew her apricot varieties and Blenheim was her favorite. Well then.

Yamagami’s, my favorite nursery, had the Royal variant in stock. Perfect.

She helped me get that big thing out of my small car this afternoon, exclaiming, I can’t believe you did this! I can’t believe you already did!

Take pictures for me when you get it in?

She couldn’t wait to.

And I came away thinking, how often do we get to spend money on something that will last the rest of the recipient’s whole life? That tree will keep giving and giving and giving, and you learn with the first one and who knows where it’ll take her from there.

I could hear one of my favorite doctors in my head, an avid gardener, when I asked him about the squirrels, answering happily, I have MILLIONS of apricots! They hadn’t touched them.

I said a little prayer for Jennifer’s tree to grow and thrive along with her three little kids. They need to wait a little while before they climb it, though.

A bowl of them (cupping my hands for size) in five years? An excuse for a visit.

She’s looking forward to it.



Springing forth
Saturday February 17th 2018, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift

Progress.

Meantime, the blueberry flowers look like pale blueberries, the first two Santa Rosa plum blossoms opened today (that’s the mango tree under the frost covers for the night in the distance), and the August Pride peach, which spent last year in curl-leaf-disease survival mode, is in sparse but full bloom, giving it its all.



Stitches pre-Stitches
Saturday February 10th 2018, 11:54 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift

The rest of the Tropic Snow peach flowers have opened and the tree is just glorious.

I had to wind, scour, and let dry the next 300+ grams of the coned afghan yarn, having run out of what was ready, so knitting-wise I had a day or two on my hands.

Thus this cowl of long-hoarded Handmaiden’s Camelspin came to be. Lovely stuff, from lovely people, made mostly of silk and it puddles just so (lack of selfie skills notwithstanding.) Nova Scotia was the colorway, if I remember right, and there’s a bit more green to it than shows here.

I really, really like this. I really like even more anticipating surprising the person it’s for.

There’s enough yardage left from the one ball that I could make a second cowl, and it wouldn’t have to be too much smaller.