Sunday, May 28, 2006

Daisy, Daisy

I love daisies. They are such a happy flower. Shasta daisies are a well-known and popular perennial, but they get up to 3 ft tall and tend to fall all over themselves. I was excited when I found a seed packet of dwarf shasta daisies 3 years ago. I sprinkeld them in a pot and by the end of summer I had 5 or 6 plants ready to transplant in the cool of the fall. Last spring I had to divide the plants and I had an enormous border of blooms all across the bed in front of the house. I planted more seeds and planned to spread the glory to the north fence beds. Sadly many of the front bed plants did not come back this spring. Maybe I deadheaded and cut them back too aggressively? Maybe they are short-lived perennials? I don't know, but I moved most of the new plants to the front and they happy blooms are back. And for good measure, I've got another planter box of seedlings coming up to replenish the beds if needed. Growing flowers from seed is a fun adventure! Posted by Picasa

Watch Out Pom Squad!

Yup, I've got the biggest purple pom poms in my rose garden! I planted giant allium for the first time last fall after seeing them in a catalog. A member of the onion family, they are 3 ft tall, have very strong stems and huge basilar leaves. They do not stink like onions! My niece is visiting for the week and she thinks the purple pom poms are really awesome! Posted by Picasa

Veronica 'Red Fox'

Here's a close-up view of this deep pink Veronica. I purchased some blue veronica this year after the success of these pink plants I set in last year. At about 1.5 feet tall, this is an excellent border plant. Posted by Picasa

Garden Update

Here's the latest out in the yard! Along the north fence are additions I planted last summer and are blooming for the first time. I'm smitten in love with the delicate spikes of Veronica 'Red Fox' (aka Speedwell) in the front. In the background is a huge cluster of Blue Hill Salvia. This is a great perennial but it sprawls out into a deceptively large ball so be sure you give this plant lots of room in the flower bed! In the middle is a fabulous new oriental lily called Lollipop. Unlike Stargazers, the Lollipop only grows to about 2 feet tall, but it is a joy to have in the garden. Posted by Picasa

It's supposed to be a girl

My step-niece is expecting her first baby in July. She's had plenty of ultrasounds and tells me the child is supposed to be a girl. A little visit 2 weeks ago was enough for me to figure out that she would really like something handknit from her great-aunt Kristina. So I hit the web and found this new pattern on the knitting forum. It's a simple top-down raglan cardigan. I'm using the suggested yarn, Bernat Baby Softee in a soft pink, and size 4 needles. After knitting lace the yarn feels fat and the stitches snug, but my gauge is spot on and the sweater is a really easy knit. I have a few more rows to go before putting the sleeves on waste yarn and knitting the bodice. The sleeves are finished on dpns so there are no seams to sew. That's very nice for the knitter and for the baby! Posted by Picasa

Pi Shawl Keeps Growing

This is the second section of clue 4. The 1st section was 24 rows of bumblebees (2 repeats at 12 rows each). Next up is the Norbury version of Traveling Vine, also knit in 12 row repeats. I'm at row 23 so that means I'm essentially half way through clue 4. Gee, only 49 rows left to go, then a doubling round and an edging. I'm really looking forward to finishing! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, May 20, 2006

My Mother's Day Present to Me!

I've always wanted to have fuschias, but I haven't been lucky with them before. Last year I bought a stressed plant that died, but his one is gorgeous so I'm optimistic this time. Keeping fingers crossed... Posted by Picasa

Pi Shawl through Clue 3

Get a look while she's off the needles for a frog session! I didn't like the tulips so I'm going for some bumblebees instead! Posted by Picasa

Moving on to Traveling Vine

I finished 24 rows of bumblees on my pi shawl yesterday and have moved on to my last pattern for the body of the shawl-Traveling Vine. One of the knitsters in the KAL mentioned some problems with the TV so I was leery to start. But as it turned out, her issues were not with the accuracy of the pattern but with the esthetic and her personal preferences. Nevertheless I decided to do some work before starting to knit as frogging 576 sts/row is not my idea of fun. I wrote out both the Norbury and the BWalker version of the pattern. The finished product is the same, but they wrote the patterns out differently. The Norbury was easiest to chart so I sketched it out and compared it to Mindy's variation. Basically Mindy stretched out the vine to make it a 16 row repeat rather than the 12 rows of the original pattern.

After some thought and knowing that I liked the look of the original pattern in the books, I decided to knit the Norbury rather than Mindy's version of TV. I'm not in the mood to deal with any more surprises at this point. I had planned to knit 16 rows of bees to mesh with Mindy's TV so I increased the bees to 24 rows to mesh with the Norbury. At the moment I'm on the 5th row and the transition between patterns is perfect! I am happy! Taking scans or pictures at this point is almost impossible, so you'll just have to wait until I'm done. I just printed off the 5th set of clues so I can think about which edging I want to knit next. Oh boy...the end is getting closer!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

What color is this yarn?

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Ugly Yarn, Achy Body, Foul Mood

If you are reading this beyond the title, I commend you. Most folks would run like the dickens! But let's face it, icky days do happen and apparently so do icky yarns. Did you see my picture? I scanned this hank and posted it unedited. On my computer it looks just as it does in person--thanks to a brand new scanner that scans true to color (unlike my pervious scanner which required much tweaking to look good). OK, so what color did you get? I see beige, aka tan, aka khaki--the classic neutral. Guess what color I *thought* I was purchasing? Not beige, I assure you. I thought I was getting a soft shade of yellow. That's what it looked like to me both on the 'puter and in the printed catalog. Besides, the yarn color name is "sunlight," another reason to think I was getting a yellow yarn. Silly me, to think that sunlight is yellow!

I am not a neutral color wearing person and I (selfishly, I suppose) knit for myself so beige is not a color I would knowingly purchase. Nope, not never ever! No black, no beige, no tan. Ok, I do own a couple pair of khaki pants to wear in the fall and one pair of black to wear in the dead of winter, but they hang in the closet most of the time. I wear bright happy colors and soft pretty pastels. I wear pink and aqua, fuschia and turquoise, and lots of blues. I carefully choose my yellows and greens to get the right shade for my pink/blue skintones and blonde hair. I look dead in beige & black. As a person recovering from depression/dysthymia, I use color (and knitting, and gardening, etc.) to help keep my serotonin levels up. I no longer require antidepressant medications ( a miracle!) so I depend on other things to keep my mind healthy. I am not an angry person, nor do I hold grudges, but I am quite angry with the yarn company for their vanilla, unsympathetic response to my emailed complaint. Not only did I get not-yellow yarn, but I also didn't get the lace shawl pattern I thought I ordered (but didn't show up on the invoice???). Grrrrr!

The weather in East TN has been cold, cloudy, and just plain icky. That hasn't helped my body one bit and my pain level has been outrageous for days now. The bad yarn transaction just put me over the top in the foul mood department. I guess it's a good thing my pi shawl is progressing nicely and the bumblebees are buzzing without a hitch (1st 12 row repeat done x576 sts!). Hmmm, maybe it's the *happy* pink and blue yarn that is helping things along! I decided to send another email to the yarn company-one that expresse my emotion a little more clearly (but still diplomatic). I'm thinking I was too nice in my 1st email and that maybe they didn't get the fact that I am *not* a happy customer right now. Of course I didn't get angry until I got their response to my 1st email--that's when I got mad. I don't get mad too often, so that's saying something---and it ain't good!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Nooooo! Not Again!

I can't believe I did it again! Yup, you guessed it-I frogged clue 4 back to the lifeline. I like tulips but these tulips simply did not fit my shawl. After working nothing but lacy patterns to this point, the large areas of stockinette between the tulips just looked, well, awful. to make matters worse, the colors in my yarn finally started to pool out in this section and the combination of the pooling and the denseness of the stockinette just screamed at me. It looked garish, so I frogged the 10 rows I so delightedly knit in. I took me at least 2 hours to pick up all those stitches, fighting with the lifeline the whole way, redo the doubling round and knit 1 plain transitional row. So now I'm set to start again, but what option to do? I think my best bet is traveling vine, but I think I'd like to knit a small section to separate the vines. I've have the bumblebee pattern on my mind. I didn't like it early on, but I think it will look nice at this point in my shawl. The original is a 12 row repeat (2 sets of bees), but I can change it to a 16 row repeat (3 sets of bees) and substitute the bees for one of the repeats of the traveling vine. I've knit 1 row already, so I hope it works out cuz' I *don't* want to frog anymore. I'm sick of frogs. I don't have a pond at my house--only trees for the frogs to live in--and I'm too decrepit to climb trees. No more FROGS!

OK. Not that I've got that off my chest, I found another one of those crazy blog quizzes where you offer a bit of trivia about yourself and the quiz magically makes grand statements about what kind of person you are. This one is pretty close, remarkably close, eerily close. How do they do that????
Your Birthdate: June 6

You tend to be a the rock in relationships - people depend on you.
Thoughtful and caring, you often put others needs first.
You aren't content to help those you know... you want to give to the world.
An idealist, you strive for positive change and dream about how much better things could be.

Your strength: Your intuition

Your weakness: You put yourself last

Your power color: Rose

Your power symbol: Cloud

Your power month: June

Thursday, May 11, 2006


After several years of struggle with this plant, I finally found a happy spot for it along my neighbor's fence in the backyard. This fast growing vine is covered with blooms! Posted by Picasa

Yellow Trillium

A pair of Yellow Trillium are well-hidden in a field of green growth in a bog near the Sinks. The Sinks is a popular swimming hole in the Smokies. Posted by Picasa

Rushing Waters

The view of rushing waters from a footbridge across the creek at the Elkmont Nature Trail. Posted by Picasa

Eastern Tiger Swallowtails

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The Little River

Another view of the Little River at Metcalf Bottoms in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This is my favorite place to picnic! Posted by Picasa

The Little River at Metcalf Bottoms

This was the view from my picnic table at the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area. The water level was quite high and the current swift. Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterflies surrounded us in this serene setting. Posted by Picasa

The Sinks - Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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Starting Clue 4

After knitting endless rows of vines I finally finished the Clue 3 section of my pi shawl. I opted to work my vines in 3 sections of 16 rows each. Mindy had suggested doing 4-12 row repeats, but I prefer the look of odd number repeats. The sideways swirling of the vines balances nicely with the swirl of the peas section.

Mindy & Iris posted clue 4 on Monday so I had a few days to think about what to do next while I finished clue 3. Once again the decision wasn't exactly easy. I dismissed the onion pretty quickly, although it would have been fine with my flower & vine theme considering I *am* growing giant allium in my garden. The 4th clue was an adaptation of Ogee Lace. It looked pretty but I wasn't sure it would mesh nicely with what I already had and it looked a bit more complicated/risky to knit. I *did* place another lifeline last night, but I DO NOT plan on needing it this time. So I nixed the Ogee Lace. Ditto for the Traveling Vine option. Having just knit 48 rows of vines, I'm sick of vines. Plus, someone posted an inquiry about a possible editing issue with the TV option, so I *really* don't want to go there.

The remaining option was for tulips. The flowers are formed by openwork on a stockinette ground, similar to the daffodil option for clue 3. The tulips look ok, but the clincher for me was a simple lace "path" that forms a straight line separating the repeats of the flower motif. This kept the linear aspect to my shawl intact and added lacy interest to the pattern. The bonus is the knitting is very simple and straightforward--a good thing since I would be knitting 72-96 *very* long rows of this clue and a complicated lace pattern would take an eternity to get through. I'm not up to that much patience with this shawl. I'm on the 4th row and the knitting has been delightfully easy so far. The amazing thing is I'm still working off my 1st ball of yarn. It's amazing how far 440 yds of laceweight yarn will go. The experts say that 2 balls isn't enough, but I doubt I'll need more than 3 balls.

Now that I've updated the obligatory knitting content, I'll share some pix of what I've really been up to: Working in my garden and playing in the park--The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, that is :-) The weather has been unusually cool and we've had lots of rain lately so the Little River was really gushing and the vegetation was thick, green, & lush.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

False Hopes and Frogs

Gee, I sounded terribly positive about the Pi shawl on Monday. I made it through the 18th row today-about a third of the way through the trellis motif. I have weathered my incorrect guess on how to fix the stitch count problem on row 17, tinked back and reknit the row using the correct edits, and fought through yet another row of trying to knit left leaning decreases into a double yarnover. I've also learned to *not* try to recommend a pattern correction to the whole list but to say "hey, there's a problem here" and wait for the designers to fix it. Silly me trying to solve the problem and move on. LOL

Maybe it was the 2-day walloping migraine, maybe it was the end of the semester crunch time get-it-done-and-turned-into-your-professor crisis, maybe it's just my fickle perfectionist tendencies, but I'm just not getting this buds in trellis design. Oh, I think I'm knitting it adequately enough, but I'm just not feeling the love here. Nope, not loving it at all. That's one of the challenges of knitting lace--you can't really tell what it's looking like until you've made a significant commitment of knitting on it. Pulling and stretching small segments just don't give you the answers. Finally I had the courage to admit I hate those goofy little loop knots that come from trying to knit a decrease into a double yo. I don't like the way the trellis was/wasn't lining up and the buds looked more like big knots stretched out on a mesh of strings. That's it! I frogged the blasted thing back to the lifeline.

Lenore mentioned she was doing the vines selection for her 3rd clue. It's the only 3rd clue option left that I might have a chance of liking as there is too much stockinette w/o lace in the daffodil option. The vines look very easy to knit, but they still have enough laciness and texture to not look too dense. Right now an easy knit sounds mighty appealing as I'm mighty grumpy at this point. To add to the pain, I found a significant booboo in my leaf lace shawl too. somehow I got off count on the last leaf sections worked on each side and on both sides of the center line. I tried fudging and creating 2 missing stitches, but it was too obvious to me that I goofed. The downside here is I have no lifelines so I'll have to frog carefully. The upside is I wanted the needles (#7 32") from the leaf lace shawl to step up for the pi shawl. So I pulled the needles and resumed work on the pi shawl. I'm going to let the other one sit for awhile cuz' right now I'm in the mood to frog the whole thing. I love Kiri and the Flowre basket Shawl patterns, but I'm not feeling the love for the leaf lace. Tonight that's a dangerous thing! Rib-bit, rib-bit!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Climbing Queen Elizabeth Rose on May Day

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Camelot Rose

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Tropicana Rose in a Field of Purple Pansies

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Pretty Purple Pansies

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Love and Peace Rose-May Day 2006

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Happy May Day!

It's May Day and the sun is shining and the weather was perfect--not too hot, not too cold. I was happy to see the sun since it was cloudy and cool all weekend, but without the promised rain. If its going to be that gray outside then those clouds better be watering my garden and lawn doggone it! Can you tell I don't like gray days??? LOL

I have another reason to smile today--the workers finally finished the project. For 3 weeks I've had guys crawling all over my house, ladders clanging and hammers banging. Guess what my heads been doing too? Yup, clanging and banging. But our almost 40 yr. old house has a totally new roof, brand new vinyl & aluminum siding, eaves, & soffits, 5 new windows and all new gutters. Wow it looks great! It's been hectic, but I'm glad that my folks &/or I were at home and supervising the work start to finish. It's good to be there to answer questions, give directions on our preferences, and make sure the work is done to our satisfaction. There are still a couple of little details to be taken care of, but the bulk of the job is done. I'm looking forward to returning to my peaceful existence. So is my dog, Miss Emme.

With all the commotion I didn't get much productive knitting done last week. I'm continuing to work on the leaf lace shawl as it's my take-along easy knitting project. I'm up to 9 repeats completed thus far. I was excited to download the 3rd set of clues for the mystery pi KAL last Friday. I quickly vetoed the hot peppers and the vine options and had to decide between the daffodil and the buds in trellis designs. The daffodil is a large outline created by yos and k2tog on a field of stockinette--nice but not all that exciting I thought. The trellis design continued the linear effect already established by the snowdrops and had nice lacy interest. So I chose the trellis and once again, I got the design with chart challenges and other interesting little issues. Oh, and the knitting is a bit dicey too with lots of double yos and converging double decreases. On Friday it was slow and go. By Saturday I was growling again over shifting sts and rows that start with double decreases. Yesterday I was thinking about frogging and doing the daffodil when things finally got a little bit easier and the lace started to look like something instead of a collection of strung out holes. So I'm hanging in there today at row 15. I must be getting better at this 'cuz I din't even bat an eyelid when I found another "problem" with the charted design that needed to be edited in order to knit the thing. I guess that's progress?!?!?