Sunday, September 9, 2012

Plugging away

So, I did finish that sweater I was talking about last time.  And it's too big, I think.  So, since it's linen, I washed it two or three times.  Then I washed it on hot (gasp away - but it's linen, so I can do that!).  And I dried it every single time.  It's still on the big side, but I've decided to think of it as a sweat-shirty sort of sweater, and am calling myself OK with it.  It doesn't help that it's been WAY too hot and humid around here to be wearing any kind of sweater, even for taking photos.  But I finally put it on quickly and made Older Daughter take a few pictures, just so I could prove that it is, indeed, done.  So today's post is about that, and the gardening project I've been working on, and the new-ish things on my needles.

First, the sweater.

See what I mean?  It's too big.  
But it is comfortable.  And the linen is softening up (as linen does) more and more with each wash.  I think that once I can wear it, it will soften up even more.  And I do love the color - it's a very cheerful lime green.  In fact, it is exactly the kind of sweater that should work for what I envisioned it for - something to throw on, once the sun goes down and it cools off.  Which is usually what happens, either because the marine layer blows in from the ocean, or because it's so dry that as soon as there's no solar gain to keep the air warm, the temperature drops by twenty degrees.  But that's not what's been happening around here lately.  No.  Instead, we're getting monsoonal weather, from the Sea of Cortez.  And it's muggy.  The only benefit to this that I can see is that it is now not cold after dark.  This caught me utterly by surprise the other night - I was sitting on the front patio, knitting, and wondering why it seemed so strange to be sitting and knitting outside after dark, and I realized - it was because I wasn't cold.  That said, I hate humidity, and I'd rather need to wear this sweater after dark to stay warm.
I managed to find exactly the right buttons in Grandmom's button box, too.  That made me very happy.  So, all in all, too big or not, I think this will be worn.  Just a quick reprise:  this is Anne Hanson's India Print Henley, from Ann Budd's new top-down sweater book.  I knitted it out of Fibranatura Flax, seven skeins, and just barely made it.  I love the pattern - it's a lot of fun, and because it is knitted from the top down, there is absolutely not a single itty-bitty bit of seaming to be done.  Happy day!

I spent the better part of the morning working on another kind of project altogether.  I should say at the outset that gardening is not one of my strong suits.  I love fresh produce, and I adore cooking with fresh herbs, but if living things can't jump up and down and demand to be fed, I tend to forget about them.  (This means that pets and kids do just fine in my house - plants, not so much.)

(In fact, by way of quick proof, look at how well the chickens are growing!)(That is not their coop; it is their mobile chicken run, which allows them to be out in various parts of the yard during the day without us worrying about cats/hawks/dogs getting to them.  Once they are fully-grown, they may not need it, but they are not, and they do.)

I have a garden bed that I dug out of the gravel parking pad the previous owners of the house had laid (cutting down two producing peach trees, if you can believe), but it's down the driveway, and easy for me to forget about, and given my aforementioned issue with keeping plants alive, and plants' demonstrated inability to make loud noises to attract attention, well.  You can imagine.

There is an odd bit of space by our front walk that up until recently had been the home of many of the kinds of plants that the previous owner liked - palmy, subtropical-y types of things (not my cup of tea)(in fact, he had a habit of layering such plants in front of the plants that were already in the yard, which means that we have a half-acre of wildly over-planted property, and that I dislike half the plants we have; alas, they are often the plants that Rick likes).  In the ten years since we've moved in, it had gotten immensely overgrown, and was utterly dominated by a sago palm that was at least six feet in diameter (I am not exaggerating here)(the sago took up almost the whole space on the left of the picture below, between the post and the black pot).  Not only that, but all the growth was utterly blocking any light from getting into the room that is Rick's office (you can see that window in the second picture).  So I decided it was time to clear it out.  This worried Rick, for whom change is a bit daunting, but I convinced him (it helped that we decided to try transplanting the sago, so it felt less like whole-sale destruction).  I should have taken a before picture, but once we got it cleared out, this is what I was left with.

(Note: I still couldn't convince Rick that we needed to get rid of that camellia.  He just could not let go.)
(Note also: I do not like that camellia.  It was sort of trellised, and it kind of looks like a bas-relief bush.  I don't much like bas-relief bushes, they seem odd to me.  Also, it feels like it's lurking there just as you come in the gate, waiting to mug you with waxy leaves - not welcoming.)

I spent yesterday gathering things - plants, soil, pots, etc, - and once Rick headed out for a bike ride this morning, this bit of space and I spent some quality time together.  I pruned the camellia.  (And now, of course, that I spend blood sweat and tears trying to get it under control without getting rid of it, Rick agrees with me that it really doesn't belong there.)  I planted and potted things.  I arranged and rearranged.  At the end of several hours of work, I ended up with this.
 It's got some filling in to do, of course, and there are plans to add more plants.  The goal is to have California natives and herbs, mostly perennials.  That path in front leads straight to the front door, whence there is a straight shot to the kitchen.  This means fresh herbs for me!
 So far, there are two kinds of thyme, sage, terragon, lemon verbena, both culinary and not-so-culinary lavender, garlic, and lemon balm.  More will go in next week.  I also have several California natives, like sea grass, and a low-growing manzanita, things like that.  The plan is to put some Douglas irises and blue-eyed grass in, too, in that corner to the right.  I think this is going to be much better once it's grown up some.  Time will tell.

 Meanwhile, I have cast on for another sweater.  This is going to be Scoria, when it's all grown up (assuming I have enough yarn; I am still trying to knit at least some things out of stash, and I had what I'm hoping is a sweater's worth of this yarn stashed away, so here I go).  I am knitting it out of Plymouth Yarn Vita, a cotton/cashmere blend whose virtues I have extolled in the past.  I still love it.  It is my hope that this will become this year's conference sweater - we shall see.

I have also been working in fits and starts on Color Affection.  My gut feeling is that I'd be further along with this if it weren't for the fact that managing the three balls of yarn isn't easy.  It's not so much having three balls on the go that's the issue, as the fact that they're those flat little balls that yarn like this tends to come in, which are worked from the outside in, rather than center-pull.  This means that it's not possible to just have them sit nicely in a bag whilst I knit; they have to be able to roll around.  It makes this less good for knitting in meetings than I'd hoped.
I'm (as you can see) trying something different; I'm knitting this out of Cascade Kid Seta, so it's very fuzzy.  I'm still not sure what I'll think of that in the long run.  In the short term, I'm kind of liking the wrong side even better than the right side.  What do you think?

I've cast on for one more thing, and bought yarn for yet another, but I think those can wait until next time.  It's time to settle down and knit by my incipient garden for now.


Lori said...

Jocelyn, dear Jocelyn. I too love the shade of green of your sweater, even if it's too big. Linen just gets better and better and better. I got a nasty stalker and had to move, but I'm keeping up with you no matter what. Myanmar in a couple of weeks, and granddaughter a couple of weeks after that. Sending a big hug your way.

Willow said...

Love the sweater! You are making me want to knit that. And work up something in linen. And plant more CA natives--I have manzanitas, sages, and grasses in my back garden. But not keep chickens :)

Lynne said...

The sweater is a gorgeous colour, and your new knitting projects looks great too!

The camellia doesn't look like the same plant after you shed blood, sweat and tears on it!

Jane said...

I love the sweather, lovely pattern and colour. Sometimes big and comfortable is just what you need at the end of the day. It's beautiful.
You've transformed that little patch of garden, it looks so much better already. Once everything has grown in, it will be stunning, and smell gorgeous

Wanderingcatstudio said...

Your sweater looks fantastic. I have a linen vest I really should wear more.


More chicken photos, please ma'am. Also? Love the sweater.

twinsetellen said...

Great post - you had me chuckling out loud several times. Mugged by a camelia, indeed!

I am so impressed by all the activity. The new corner will bring smiles to your face every time you pass it, as I am sure the chickens already do. And the sweater will get better and better, even as it is lovely now.

Samantha said...

I prefer the wrong side of my Color Affection, too ... :^)

Mary Lou said...

Of course I wish we had a camellia that could mug me. The garden looks great. And the sweater is fine. I think that TD raglans are difficult to get to fit properly without lots of fooling around. They really are more like a sweatshirt. And that is a gorgeous one.

EGunn said...

Yay, Jocelyn is back! I always do a little happy dance when a post from you pops up in my feed reader. (No pressure intended...just glad you're here.)

I think the sweater looks fine. Of course, I almost always wear my clothes a bit too big, but really it looks fine to me.

I can't believe the before-and-after shots on the camellia! It looks much more friendly in its trimmed-back state. Herbs are wonderful to grow, and hard to kill. It's also hard to forget to water them when you're running out there every night to get things to put into dinner! I very much miss my previous herb gardens, but I'll have another someday.

Helen said...

Linen should always have enough room to drape a little, so I think it's lovely as it is, and a heavenly colour. And I could have taken care of that camellia in a matter of days; as soon as a camellia sees me, all its buds fall off, or at least that's how it seemed when I tried to keep one. It was SO depressing. But it looks like all your hard work in the garden has been very beneficial.

twinsetjan said...

Ooo! Love the lime green! And I think the fit is just dandy for a very comfy sweater to throw on without hesitation. I bet this becomes one of your very favorite sweaters of all time.

And good work protecting the hens...we lost two of our seven to hawks. Now ours have a play yard too!

The garden is lovely in being and in potential!

Anonymous said...

Love the linen sweater!!! You're going to get miles of use out of it.

Nice transformation on the sidewalk / corner area!!!

Chickens!!! :)

Kim said...

Yay! You did the India print! What size did you end up making? And what size WOULD you make next time? I still like it! Trying to figure out what yarn to use for mine! And now, what size!