Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bark! The Park!

Tawny thinks we've had the Best morning so far!

He was all excited when I got out his leash and then...we got the car out of the garage and Tawny stepped right into the back seat. We'd always taken him in the pickup before. If you can't guess, Russ driving, me in the middle and Tawny by the window of a Ford Ranger pickup is more than unwieldy.

Tawny loves the park walk. Here he's by some of the May Apples. They bloomed a couple weeks ago, but I've always loved these harbingers of late Spring.

The woods are spongy with three inches of rain this week. Several places along the brick walk, water was oozing between the brick joins, easing toward the lake. Creeks are flowing; the lake is muddy. Fishermen weren't catching much this morning at all.

From the one parking lot area toward the boathouse, sun rays break through early morning cloud cover. Last Fall the Blue Heron was seen in this shot. It wasn't around this morning. There were just a few ducks and geese foraging for insects and people leavings.

We're looking forward to frequent walks at the local county park as school is out for students next Friday afternoon.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

It's almost June

yet tonight there is a frost warning for northern Pennsylvania. Those residents must be pulling their hair out! We're to be in the mid-40's here.

The renovation update for today is that the hallway ceiling has been not only primed but painted in semi-gloss white! Monday will bring the walls being painted. Nikki is just to the top of the stairs, checking out today's changes. He always hides when Painter Don is here, but then always checks to see what has changed in his house. You do know that we belong to him rather than him belonging to us, right?

The hanging baskets are all doing really well this year. This is a fuchsia named 'Shimmering', a double fuchsia. I really like this one. Yesterday I planted the nasturtiums that were started in peat pots into a hanging basket and they've already grown over an inch!

We have two weigeilia bushes. This deep red one is by the herb garden. A pink bush is up beyond the garden, outside the cyclone fence. See the buttercup? When the buttercups have a chance, they don't stay just grass level, but they will grow several feet tall. When we went to Busy Beaver in New Kensington today to buy paint, they also had their seeds on sale. I found caraway and chamomile which I planted in the herb garden, too.

I can hardly believe that the wisteria has begun to bloom. It seems just too early. By next weekend the mock orange and the heritage white lilac will be blooming.

Friday, May 29, 2009

flowery wet sanding

now, there's a strange title for you! we'll start out with the flowers, ok?

first up are some of the chives. i just love these guys, not only for cooking, but for their flowers and their wonderful perennial nature. even here, i can cut them fresh for cooking eight months of the year or more, they freeze really well, too.

intertwined with the spirea is a volunteer native dew berry. you can tell a dew berry from a blackberry in that when the berry is pulled off the vine, a white core is left on the bush. they bloom at the same time of year, so it's quite a show! looks like there may be plenty of berries for cereal and shortcake and maybe even some will get put up in the freezer.

ah, the nearly wild roses! a precious old friend this bush is. grandpa bought two of these for mom after dad died and this one is still doing well. not bad since 1961, right?

yes, there is wet sanding, too.

what is wet sanding? instead of using sandpaper to even the joint compound, you take a squeegie mop and water and mop it down.joint compound is water soluble, so it just smooths right out. no dust!!!

how's the dizzying stairwell grab you?

in the knitting-to-recenter front, the 'drooping elm leaf' has been started (posted on my ravelry project page). i absolutely love the double twisted loop cast on for this project. (stanley,p.66)i had tried a long tail cast on for a swatch and it looked tight, strained, totally uncharacteristic for lace. this cast on is picot-esque, stretches easily and adds to the elm leaf creation rather than cramping it. elm leaf pattern is found in volume 1, Barbara Walker treasury, p. 217. i'm knitting with the cascade heritage yarn from lake michigan when sarah and i went searching for a yarny souvenir. the addi lace 24" #6 circular is working well so far. i'll give full credit to anne hanson of knitspot and tkga research for inspiration.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Bohus Hair Clip

Many thanks to twinsetellen on Ravelry who came up with this idea!

Ellen used a Bohus swatch to create her first hair clip, but I simply used a very little of my leftovers from my Dean Cap and created a 40 stitch swatch. There is ribbing at each end. Patterning in the middle of the swatch is part of the original Dean pattern but adapted for this small space on a purchased hair clip/barrette. The pattern for the process is a free download on Ellen's Ravelry pages(link above). The actual patterns are available from either Susanna Hansson in her workshops or from the charts in Wendy Keele's Poems of Color.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Need Yarn

Cathy and Gwen decided that I needed yarn
when on their trek to Lorna's Laces sale last weekend so sent me a surprise package arriving in today's mail!

They are millends of Lorna's Shepherd Sock, no color listed as they are one-of-a-kind skeins.


(No, it's not July yet, but it is almost June, in answer to the most frequently asked camper question!)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"Where we're at"

Before the weekend hallway update, a little knitting is in the planning stages.

I had seen and drooled over Anne Hanson's 'little nothing', the Elm Row stole. Anne had written that the pattern was from Barbara Walker, but I didn't think too much more about it. Then when I was researching pattern possibilities for a cable pattern, Barbara Walker's 'Drooping Elm Leaf' in the first Treasury (the blue one) jumped off the page at me so I had to duck from the elm limb lash. Perusing Montse Stanley's seemingly endless cast on possibilities, I found that she has one I've never tried that she suggests is excellent for lace, so I'll try it. Nothing is cast on. This is just in the planning stages. Still. Planning stages, heck, it's waiting for me to get to it!

Our next planned beauty is a Bohus hair clip. twinsetellen on Ravelry had used her Blue Shimmer wristlet Bohus swatch to create her first Bohus hair clip. Then she knit another version for a different hair clip. Since I'd been wondering what I would create with my leftovers from the Dean Cap, this looks like a perfect project. Last night while drinking a cup of cinnamon tea, I was looking at Wendy Keele's "Poems of Color" for some additional inspiration. That booklet (and all Bohus references to me) call me like Bali Hai (sic). (Isn't it about time to watch "South Pacific" yet again?) My tea drinking is not a frequent activity. I have lots of teas here, but neither of us drinks it frequently. Something must be up in the ionosphere.

One of the irritations here has been to see the switch plates painted over. It's so easy to just unscrew one or two screws, pop the plate, and paint! Most of the covers I've replaced. As proof that there will not be painted-over switch plates any more, here's where Don conveniently stopped in his work on Saturday. He repaired uneven edges around the outlet and had scraped loosened wallpaper seams.
This upstairs hallway is bigger than some designated rooms. Part of it is original to the house's first construction. As the house was added on to, the hallway grew as well. Corners by the bathroom (added on in the late 1940's) and the East bedroom (built in Fall 1944) both needed work. These rooms and a sliver of the hallway had been a second floor sleeping porch BN (Before Nancy). Plus, the corner by the window had had years of frick-fracking (a kind rendition of my father's reaction to the rain blowing a certain direction for the rain to get under the slate to produce its music on the floor and in the proverbial rain buckets!) leaks through the original slate roof that was replaced in the 1980's. Anyway, that corner had never been completely repaired, so Don worked on it. All painted-over wallpaper seams are scraped and since the walls had never been stripped, there's a lot of repair work.

While Don has been working upstairs, I've been able to make amazing progress on my stealth project, i.e., 2.75 contest entry. No peeking till after camp!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Miracle of Nature

A double rainbow ring around the sun!

This is truly a miracle around here.

We're under a freeze warning for tonight/tomorrow morning with a predicted low of 33. The peonies must be covered and all the plants on the porches brought in. Am I ever glad we didn't plant the chili peppers, eggplant or tomatoes yet!

Friday, May 15, 2009

...and the wall paper comes tumbling down

When we moved back here to faeryland six years ago, I'd mentioned to Mom that the interior needed to be repainted. "Oh, but the outside first," she said. It really did need it, too.

Don the Painter came to the rescue for the exterior and the garage. And now he is rescuing us again. The upper hallway, entryway, living room and dining room are being done this summer.
Yesterday I spent moving furniture and plants and vacuuming and washing curtains. (That is, I did this in between going to the store for Russ, driving him to the doctor, getting his prescription and all the rest for a grumpy sick husband. This morning's update on him is that even one Bactrin has 'done wonders'.) Here is about half of the hallway. The deal is that Russ wll be painting woodwork. There are also two windows to have their clothesline repaired before painting them. They have the old cord/pulley/weight system.

And now as of 10 AM, the stairwell has been scraped. Right now, Don's scraping paint elsewhere in the upper hallway. As he says, the walls will look like bandaids but the old painted wallpaper will be cleaned up by the end of the day.

As far as I can tell, the wallpaper seen here was the original wallpaper my grandmother had put on the walls. She bought this house in 1919. A little Swedish immigrant lady buying a house in 1919! She was the housewife while my grandfather worked at American Tin Plate to support the family of seven children, four born in Sweden and three here in America. Talk about living the American Dream! I have her payment book and her deed plus an earlier deed from 1898 on this property.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A (RTB) Star is Born

She's done all but blocking...

It's the Round-The-Bend (RTB) devised by Meg Swansen with a new icord technique by Cameraguy (Chris Swansen). I highly recommend the DVD but Meg's book "Handknitting with Meg Swansen" is sufficient.

Shining here under the stars (star flowers), RTB shows off her pressed flower buttons in a pre-thunderstorm sun ray.

Berocco Ultra Alpaca in celery, teal and moss on size 7 circulars are highlighted. RTB was cast on in August and finished today, all but her bath and dressing in the boudoir. A few beauty sleeps were required as she waited for the pansy shawl and several other projects. Her adoring audience (me) hopes her dressing will approximate the swatch's blocking results. If not, that's another reason for the summer lighter diet to succeed.

To magnify, embiggen and chuckle because there's a camera strap included, just click on either picture.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

There's sun between storms!

We had 7/10 inch of rain yesterday, drizzle last night and more rain within the next hour. This morning we were fortunate to have a bit of sunshine. Just perfect weather it was for me to take these pictures of new plants and a contest entry! First a coleus "El Brighto" that Russ chose. He loves to have a coleus by the pond each summer. (All pictures are clickable to embiggen!)

Just to share one of the many purple violets that grow as weeds here and a flowering ground cover that is from one that my Aunt Elsa brought back from a trip to England decades ago. It reseeds well.

Look at the colors in this cinnamon fern grouping! The ferns are now two and a half feet tall! I love how the sun plays on the fern as it unfurls.

When we were at the nursery last weekend, Russ restated how he hates geraniums from childhood of visits to the cemetery bearing red geraniums with his granny. But he saw "Jewel", a purple and white geranium and wanted to bring it home. So, Jewel is now planted by the pond.

A new herb garden has been begun between the peonies and rose of sharons. Planted so far are asparagus, tarragon, lemon balm, fennel, a nicotiana, armeria and several herbs that reseeded from last year. Part of the garden wasn't weeded last weekend when I planted the new herbs and such....borage will be seeded there, too.

Before the rain ruins the rhododendron, this beauty just has to be shared. It has started to sprinkle now. Rain tonight and thunderstorms the next two days just do not thrill me. I'd be happy to share this rain with the parched areas of the country.

And now on to a peek at some knitting!

These last two photos are of the Contest Entry for 2.75 this summer. I won't show much more of this until after camp because it's a secret until the Big Camp Reveal. But look how well the pansies made it through the winter! These are the very same pansies I bought when casting on the pansy shawl!This year's topic we voted on last year is "Recycled Knits".

Is it July yet?

Saturday, May 02, 2009

May Day

The calendar continues to get away from me. May Day has come and gone. I've taken some pictures, but they are a couple days old so progress continues beyond what is here.

Lilacs are almost fully out now with 60-70 degree days. Last night there was a breeze from the north and lilac scent wafted through the back porch. Love that!

The 3-variety apple tree has been totally full of blooms this year. Last year I was concerned for this tree as it didn't have nearly this many blooms. The apples were bigger, granted, but we were concerned that the apple had seen better days. Guess it was a combination of weather conditions and bloom cycling, though, for this year the tree is back in its glory. Each Spring we've had an orchard oriole visit for a few days. He visited this week. The last two days he was here he brought his lady friend. They paid no attention to the young cherry tree in full blossom, only the apple tree. The peach tree is just starting to bloom.

It was raining when RTB, McNeil and I ventured onto the porch for an update. McNeil is a Boyd's Bear sheep I found at a Shipshewana, Indiana, shop about ten years ago.I apologize if this doesn't show up too well. As of last night, though, RTB has its shoulder seam and sleeve seam finished. I fought a bit with it. When the whole back section was knit one row short, it creates a different set of conditions upon which to base seaming. My next step is to weave in the ends. They're getting a bit out of control. Then the plan is to connect the two halves and block. My thought is that it is better to block before knitting the icord around the edges because the icord before blocking could pull the garter stitch and bulge it with the icord curling. The swatch grew with blocking; so, if the jacket does the same, then the icord finishing could create an unexpected edge. I'm really hoping the jacket does grow the expected amount with blocking since that's what I based the calculations and needle size upon.

Lastly, the rhododendron is blooming...both the lilacs and the rhododendrons are two weeks early this year. They've been in bloom for Mother's Day in the past, but it seems unlikely they will still be in bloom for it this year.