Trial and Error Gardening

I was so surprised to see some beans growing in my old cooler!  Truth be told, I wasn’t sure it was going to work and am really happy that it has.  Now the question remains, when do I harvest the beans?  I did a web search and found a lot of information about planting and drying them, but no real descriptive instructions on when to pull the pods.  Some YouTube videos showed the gardener pulling up the entire plants by its roots and drying it, but I only have a dozen plants in my container, not a whole field to test it out.  On Wednesday,I pulled pulled a handful of pods, some green and some dark, to try drying them out.  I left most of the pods on the plants in case my little experiment fails.

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My feijoada plant


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Beans!


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Drying experiment

My herb gardens started out well, but now I’m not sure if they will continue to thrive.  OK, well the mint I’m not worried about – that’s a weed that even my baby can’t mess up.  But my cilantro started out with so much promise and now the stems dried out and I am left with a very pathetic pot.  Similarly, the chives grew and we ate them with eggs, but once I trimmed them, they didn’t regrow.  My basil looks like it has had its growth stunted.  Luckily, I moved some of my original seedlings to my friend’s shared garden, and they are doing much better there.  I haven’t harvested the oregano yet, but it doesn’t seem like it’s going to grow much more than what it is now.

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My row of basil in the back, my mojito plant to the left, and two more bean sprouts

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My cilantro is all sad and gone

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The oregano and chives that have stopped growing

The latest addition to my container garden is a Meyer Lemon Dwarf Tree.  I dreamed about having one for weeks and weeks after finding so many growing tutorials on Pinterest.  So I went to a local nursery and bought the last one they had in stock.  I think I’m failing there too. The three fruits on the branches were already there when I bought it and I think I’ve lost more leaves.

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My lity little caipirinha tree

Even my beautiful calla lilies that I got for Mother’s Day seem sadder.   I was able to give some of them away to a friend that is moving and ever since then it seems as though the rest of the plant is mourning the loss of its fellow flowers that were clipped.  I plan to repot them onto a prettier and larger container, hopefully that will help them bloom again.

That’s what’s happening in my little balcony, thankfully we are helping friends maintain their raised bed gardens and so we are getting quite a lot of delicious vegetables from them.  We’ve had radishes, peas and green beans before and this week we got beets, carrots and Swiss chard!  I found a recipe on Pinterest for pickled Swiss Chard stems and did two cans – one for us, one for our friends.   I’m excited to try more new recipes for all the delicious foods we are growing!

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Fresh carrots!


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The three garden beds before things really started to grow.

Massachusetts Sheep & Woolcraft Fair

On May 26th I went to another small fiber festival, The Massachusetts Sheep & Woolcraft Fair.  This is definitely one of the advantages of living in New England; with so many states close together and long winters there are plenty of Fiber Festivals taking place.  I actually missed the New Hamsphire one and chose to skip the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival, since I had been to it so many times before.  It was a quick drive, about 2 hours, to go to this festival and worth the drive.  I discovered some great local yarns, I only wish I had the budget to buy everything that I craved. I ended up with four skeins of Sporty by Spunky Eclectic two pinks, two grays, all very vibrant colors.  I plan on making the Duotone Cowl by Orange Flower Yarn with them… unless something else comes along.  I also got three skeins of fingering weight yarn to practice steeking on a baby jacket.  I’m excited to start that project, but I want to finish some of the ones I am currently working on plus I have a few more baby gifts to make. Here are some of the photos of this great festival, I can’t wait to go again next year!!!

 

Fresh Off the Needles: Baby Items

I’ve finished two baby projects recently: a cap for a friend who is due this month and the Baby Surprise Jacket for my little guy.

My friend doesn’t know if she is having a boy or a girl, so I chose a gender neutral aqua from my stash to make this cute little hat.  Silly me though, I added the pompom to give it a nice finishing touch, but didn’t realize that by doing so it no longer was machine washable since it would likely fall apart in a second.

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Pattern: Foolproof Baby Hat            Designer: Clara Parkes                              Book: The Knitter’s Book of Yarn           Yarn: Cascade 220

 

This was my first try at making Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Baby Surprise Jacket and having done a few other patterns designed by her, I am a fan of her awesomeness.  I also loved the yarn that I found at the Connecticut Sheep and Wool Festival, Lismi Knit a local dyer here in CT.  It’s a superwash worsted weight that created a self striping rainbow, check out her Etsy shop if you’re interested: http://www.etsy.com/shop/LismiKnits The combination of the pattern and the yarn was pure bliss.  Unfortunately I did run out of yarn with just a few rows to go, so I added a few rows with some white yarn from my stash.  I made the last few rows with bobbles to make it look like clouds, I wasn’t sure if it was tacky or cute, but only one person in my knit night group said it was tacky, the others all thought it was cute so I stuck with it.  Just gotta block it and add the zipper so it can  be considered done.

I am also happy to announce that the sweater that I started before I knew I was pregnant will fit after all and I am making a lot of progress on it.  Look:

Pretty Heritage

My Crafty Evolution

I am evolving as a crafter, I am no longer limiting myself to the fiber arts.  I am getting a taste of sewing and gardening and other miscellaneous hobbies (how have I gone so long without knowing the wonders of Mod Podge!?).  Having created a Pinterest account in the last few months might have something to do with it, but I have also made new friends who are just as eager to try different things and so we are exploring these new creative outlets together. I’ve already shown off the off centered bib and I don’t know what will be my next sewing project but I look forward to it.  My new friends and I have started a little vegetable garden in one of their yards.  Since I am restricted to apartment living I have started an urban garden that includes: black beans, raspberries, some flowers and herbs.  I never thought I would enjoy playing in the dirt so much, but it is exciting to see the little seeds sprout!  Here is how they are this morning, and since I am a mom now I couldn’t help adding the garden decor  (forget the gnomes):

Fresh off the needles: Baby Socks

Tuesday was the 6 months birthday of my little Japazilian and his little friend, M.  M’s parents watched them while the hubby and I went to one of his work functions (kinda sucks that it fell on this date).  So as a little thank you/ birthday gift for M, I’ve made these little socks for him (his mom loves the color orange).

Pattern: Baby Socks Designer: Marie Connolly Book: The Expectant Knitter Yarn: Knit Picks Palette in Apricot

Pattern: Baby Socks
Designer: Marie Connolly
Book: The Expectant Knitter
Yarn: Knit Picks Palette in Apricot

I knit them holding the yarn double and followed the 12-18 months instructions since there was no 6-12 months. I also continued the ribbing until it was time to turn the heel.  The only other mod I’ve made is when decreasing for the toes I always ended up with 8 stitches instead of 6, so on the last decrease row I K1, Double Decrease, K1.  The Double Decrease was slip one, K2tog, psso – for some reason I can’t remember the abbreviation for that technique right now.

Loved the pattern; quick and easy and simple!  I could have finished it in one day, if hubby was able to watch the baby for a few hours. Will definitely make it again.

I’m definetly NOT a seamstress

I’ve been considering learning how to sew for a while now – mainly so that I can enhance my knitted bags with a lining. And so I ventured out with a friend who has a sewing machine and we gave it a try. We successfully made an “off centered” Batman bibs for our sons – which is my way of saying lopsided. Considering this was my first sewing project since 8th grade Home Ec class I’m going to keep trying to improve my sewing skills.
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After that experiment, I tried lining a crochet bag by hand and got a beautiful disaster! There is no rhyme or reason to it, I didn’t follow any tutorials. I just cut, pinned and let the needle and thread guide me. I even made a very awkward pocket on the inside and added a little metal ring where I can clip on my keys.

Obviously I am not qualified to give ANY sewing advice, but I can offer one small tip. If you have a purse that you no longer use, or that has a rip in the lining, or a stain in the front, or was just a really good find at a second hand store – tear it up! Just like a car chop shop you can use the parts of something old and put it into something new (sorry I couldn’t think of an example that didn’t break the law). For the bib, I used the inside lining of my old purse to do the backside and for the crochet purse I snatched the magnetic clasp to help close it! I also managed to salvage a small zipper, two purse handles, the cross body strap and a few decorative buckles. Not sure when I will use them, but I am sure they will serve a purpose at some point in my crafting future.
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105th Connecticut Sheep, Wool and Fiber Festival

I went to this year’s first fiber festival this past weekend, the 105th Connecticut Sheep, Wool and Fiber Festival hosted by the Connecticut Sheep Breeder’s Association .  I was so giddy and happy to be meeting new local yarn that I didn’t even mind the rain.  In truth the rain was a bit of a blessing because you know that only the die hard fiber lovers would bother to come out to a festival during bad weather.  So it wasn’t crowded and there was plenty of room to walk around the handful of buildings.  It was a small festival, but I would consider it small since the only comparison I have is the Maryland Sheep and Wool which is one of the largest fiber festival in the East Coast.  Regardless I liked it and had fun!

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