Monday, June 29, 2015


For the past several years, we've hung a fern on the porch during the summer. Despite the fact that it's constantly getting twirled around by the wind, birds seem to like it.

I sent the egg photo to my mom, who became very concerned that the brown speckled egg was a cowbird and needed to be removed. I didn't, and it never hatched. 

The other five did! They're red finches. There were three adults who seemed to pay attention to the babies. There is probably a very reasonable explanation for that. I choose to believe that they were a nontraditional family.

They became fluffier and fluffier.

It seemed as if the only time they were awake was when a parent brought food. They seemed to turn consciousness on and off at will.

sooo sleepy

I was relieved to see them start to develop feathers. It made them much more bird-like and less alien-like.

They looked very much like adult (albeit small) birds at the end. The next time I checked the nest, they were all gone.

I kept trying to think of things to do to help them. Should I put birdseed near the nest for the parents? Should I put the fern on the ground of the porch so the babies don't fall? I was able to resist the urge to tinker with the natural order of things, and everything turned out just fine. I'll enjoy wondering if any of the birds at our backyard feeders are these little guys.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Bamboo Citron

There are over 12,000 Citron projects on Ravelry.

Here's mine:
Citron (mine ravelled here),
knit in Habu Textiles XS-45 20/3 Bamboo, colorway 7

I bought this yarn on our visit to Manhattan in 2014. I assumed bamboo wouldn't stretch like wool, so I picked a pattern that didn't need to be aggressively blocked. When it was time to block this, I used blocking wires across the top and just patted the rest of it in place. I was afraid I'd lose the ruffle at the bottom if I pinned it. Result: Ruffle intact.

I added a sixth section. I had a bit of yarn left, but not enough that I could have squeezed a seventh section out. The knitting is not hard at all. The darker stripes are made by doubling the number of stitches in the previous row, knitting those for awhile, then decreasing back down. There's no typical lace pattern, so wasn't a big deal when I  accidentally knit two stitches together or added an extra stitch. Because the yarn was so thin compared to the needles, I did have to watch my knitting all the time. With socks, sometimes I can knit without looking, which makes it easier to do other Very Important Activities, such as watching episodes of Doctor Who. I couldn't do that with this project, which explains why my project page is highly skewed toward socks. :)

The finished Citron is very light, so light that I'm wearing it with a t-shirt and skirt today to work. I wouldn't have thought that was possible in June in the Midwest, but it feels fine. Bamboo really is much cooler than most other fibers.

I feel about the Citron the same way I felt about the Clapotis. I'm not sure what made it go viral, what made every knitter on the planet desperate to knit the pattern, but I like it and am glad I made it.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Zug um Zug!

I love Ravelry. I love being able to document what I've knit. I love being able to search for projects that have used a specific colorway. I love seeing what other people are making.

And I love finding new patterns.

Zug um Zug socks (mine ravelled here),

I was part of Blue Moon's sock club for a couple years but decided I'd prefer to buy the yarn I like rather than taking my chance with the club color. The sock club got me hooked on their yarn. It's really round, which I think gives great stitch definition.*

Occasionally, Tina will have a sale where we can buy three random skeins of mill ends--yarns that either have some knots, are colorways she didn't love, or both. I have trouble passing up on the sale. This yarn is from one of them.

These colors look like summer to me.

There's a Socks That Rawk group on Ravelry that picks two patterns each quarter, one free and one not, and encourages its members to knit it using a skein of Blue Moon Socks that Rock. This is the free pattern for the second quarter. The pattern is a four-row repeat, and it's easy enough that, once memorized, I didn't need to look at the pattern. I think it looks good in variegated yarn and would look even better in solid or semisolid. (Check out the projects for this pattern here.) It also has ribbing built into the fabric, which I love.

I probably wouldn't have found this pattern if it hadn't been for this forum group, and I'm grateful. It's a good pattern I'll probably knit again.

*I know round yarn shouldn't necessarily give good stitch definition because of shadows blah blah blah. I like it. End of story.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Fancypants Tomato Cages

Like everyone who has a hobby that is largely seasonal, I resolve to do better at the start of each season. I'm going to fix gardening mistakes of last year. I'm going to be more mindful about watering. I'm going to eat more fresh produce instead of picking peppers and letting them shrivel on my kitchen counter. I'm going to remember to check the tomato plants as they grow so I don't return a week later to find they've abandoned their cages and are trailing across the pepper plants, bent on garden domination, with stems too thick to bend back into their cages.

One goal I made for this year was to (finally) make my own tomato cages. I like indeterminate (vining) tomatoes, and although I have a trellis that we built, it isn't really tall enough. I used this video as a tutorial, and Andrew agreed to give up a weekend afternoon to help me build four of these. He's a good egg, that Andrew.

I meant to take photos of the process, but I was too busy doing to document. I did stick a piece of rusty concrete reinforcement through the bottom of my sneaker at one point. Hooray for up-to-date tetanus vaccines!

The cages we built are taller than the ones from the video because--why not? They look comically tall, so I'll reevaluate at the end of the growing season to see if the plants need all this height or not.

When we finished, I decided to spray paint them. It. Was. Horrible. I painted both sides of one cage, one side of the other, and gave up. You can see, though, that the red looks a heck of a lot better than the rusty.

Anyone who knows me knows what happens next. I spent this past Saturday in the garage with a quart of oil-based red Rustoleum and a little foam brush. 

It, too, was horrible.

I painted the two unpainted cages. I still have one side of cage #4 to paint, and I think I'll try to spray paint it again. I figure that both spraying and foam brushing are terrible, so I'll switch off to keep the horror of both fresh in my mind.

I sincerely hope the tomatoes appreciate this and reward me with delicious beefsteak tomatoes to make veggie sandwiches. 

And I promise to water more and be more vigilant against tomato hornworms. I promise.