Thursday, April 19, 2007

In spring, a young (!) woman's thoughts turn to gardening

So, it's spring. That's pretty much established, future snow dumps notwithstanding.

This is what I have been waiting for.

I bought this house last fall in a heartbeat - no time to plan, prepare, wrap my head around the change in location, routine and life. It was a 180 degree turn in everything I thought I wanted, needed and dreamed of. Buying a house is a big deal when one is convinced that one doesn't want any sort of responsibility whatsoever.

As a result, that last six months have been pretty sucky. Lots of reasons, but the end result is that the crazy has been pretty close to the surface.
Slowly, the crazy is being raked up and bagged with the dead leaves, picked out of the shrubbery with the litter and thrown into the dumpster.

I'm not saying the crazy has been packed away permanently. It's probably gone north to a colder climate for a while. But for right now, the little house in the boonies is a good place to be.
I saw a rabbit in my yard when I got home tonight - I got as close as the cement pad away before it skedaddled:
I was smart enough to take advantage of the fine weather and realized I could start my seeds outside (look! It's the folk fest flip flops!):
This is how the cukes, tomatoes (two varieties), basil, oregano, sweet marjoram, sweet peas and xeriscape flowers look in their home for the next six weeks: I am quite delighted with this. I've been meaning to do it since I bought most of the accoutrement on Easter Saturday. By the way, I have never had a garden in my entire life. This is completely new to me. I have completely faked it. Yes, I have some success with tolerant houseplants, but houseplants by neglect does not a green thumb make.
Just because, this is the latest in a series of horrible self portraits. I cannot photograph myself to save my life. Really, I am far prettier than that. It would help if I pushed my glasses up my nose every once in a while.

I just wanted to show how HAPPY I am, to enjoy a glass of wine in my back yard at the end of a day's work.

And yet! There is still knitting! I started swatching for Icarus while watching Grey's Anatomy tonight (I know, it's a shawl. How could it not fit? I should just stop when I'm close to running out of yarn). Well, it's not that simple. This is a custom dyed-yarn. I want to see how the colours play out. I want to get the kink out of the new circ before I start it for real. I'm a pansy, and this gets me out of reading the chart for another day (I don't have a problem with charts, normally. It's just that I'm on my fourth glass of wine and I haven't made dinner yet. I will. Soon. I promise).

In kitty news, Parker managed to scrape off his cone on Tuesday (the surgical gauze holding it on had worn away with his constant scratching. I was growing tired of that sound) and the two non-dissolving stitches were removed this morning. I promised him that it was the last time he was going to the bad place in a very long while.
I have my boy back. He's being a complete pest. I love it.


Deborah Cryderman said...

Totally unrelated to your post, I need advice. I just got yarn to make Blaze ( and tried to do a test swatch last night. The pattern tells me to cast on 186 stitches on circular needles. I cast on 24 stitches on straight needles (which, after using circular needles, are like having broken arms!). The cable in the centre of the test swatch is great, but the outside edges are a mess!!

How do I calculate how many stitches I should cast on for a test swatch? Is there an easy calculation??

Misstea said...

Oh, goody! I love giving people advice and telling them what to do. Therefore, glad you asked.

First of all, this sweater is knitted in the round, and gauge can be different when knitting flat. Also, when you knit flat, you will have to convert every even numbered row to be worked from the wrong side. Pain in the a**, and far too much work for a swatch. So, you can do one of two things - knit your swatch in the round, and cut it to lay flat when you measure, or knit flat on double-pointed needles and instead of turning the work, slide your work to the other end of the needle and bring the yarn around the back side loosely and keep knitting as if it were in the round. This uses more yarn, but if you run short, you can unravel the swatch and use it. Cutting the yarn leaves a whole bunch of useless bits of string, and, frankly, taking scissors to yarn gives me the heebie jeebies (I have never steeked anything in my life, and well, a girl's gotta have limits).

I just checked the pattern, and it says you want 23 stitches to equal four inches over the pattern. But, it's a six stitch repeat, and 23 divided by six is not a nice number. I would cast on 31 stitches, using the outside three stitches on either side as a garter stitch border and work 24 stitches in the pattern, but only counting 23 stitches when I measure. That way, the swatch lies flat and it's easier to measure. The middle 24 stitches would be worked in the pattern, leaving out whatever does not appear in brackets. Make sense?

One other thing - I do three or four rows of garter stich at each end, to prevent the swatch from curling. Again, makes it much easier to measure.

Note: since this knitting in the "round," assuming you are using dpn's, the garter stitch is knit one row, purled the next.

Also, stitch gauge is far more important that row gauge in this pattern, so as long as you get stitch gauge, and the row gauge is close, that's good enough.

I have tried to make this clear, but I know that I'm no good at learning new things without seeing it. If this is not clear, I'll whip up a swatch in some scrap yarn and take lots of photos. Let me know how it goes.

Deborah Cryderman said...

Oh Goddess of the Yarn!! I KNEW you'd have the answer!!!

Yes - it does make sense and I don't know what you did with the math to come up with the not nice number, but I'm incredibly glad to hear the 31. 24 is what I tried and let me tell you - not pretty. Well, I had one proper little cable running up the middle, but the sides were.... UGLY.

I never even THOUGHT of dpn!!! Not even for an instant!! I'll have to try that. Oh, may I just tell you I think you are BRILLIANT!!!! YOU are BRILLIANT!!!

Thank you so much!!!!

Misstea said...

I am so happy to have helped. I am a firm believer in swatching, so I am very glad to hear that you are starting off in a good direction. It really will save you heartache later one. Maybe not this time, but at some point, for sure.

What I meant about the not-nice number was 23 stitches (the number called for in the gauge swatch) divided by 6 (the number of stitches in the cable pattern) equals 3.83333333. That's not possible in knitting, so bump it up to 24, I say, add 3 stitches on either side for a garter stitch border, and now you can produce a swatch that means something.

If you need more help, please ask. I'm delighted to be of assistance.