Knitting and Dyeing

IMG_0019 IMG_0022 Being that it’s the warmer summer months, a lot of knitting has been going on around here. The moment I cast off from my cardigan, I started swatching to knit Scott a sweater. Yes, the first sweater I’ve ever knit for him. When we were first together together I had read in Stitch n’ Bitch that it was the knitting curse that if you knit your boyfriend a sweater, you would inevitably break up. Turns out, I’m a fairly superstitious person because I took that quite seriously. It was only about a year ago that I finally even knit him a hat. But we made it through that, so I knit him a second. Now that we’ve been together for 14 years, I’m ready to brave a sweater. Many other knitters have tried this and still seem to be with their husbands. After our 14 years together, in which we’ve overcome plenty of hardship, if a sweater is going to be the thing that breaks us up, then I don’t know what to say.

All that said, I picked a fairly complicated cabled sweater pattern. In fact it was seeing this pattern come out in Brooklyn Tweed that inspired me to knit him a sweater in the first place. It’s going to take a lot of time to knit this and a fair amount of brain energy to keep these cables straight, so after all of this, if he doesn’t wear this thing, I might just divorce him. Of course I’m completely kidding, it’s been really fun to knit. Not only does it have interesting cable patterns going on it’s full of tiny little details which I love. And I feel that it’s a knitting challenge to make this such a perfectly fitting and comfortable sweater that he’ll love putting it on. And if I achieve such a feat and if he still doesn’t wear it, well then….

In other knitting related news, I’m hooked back into natural dyeing. You remember I challenged myself to make a fair isle sweater out of yarn that I dyed from plants on our property. I sort of dyed myself out with that project. But this spring I’m starting to get hooked again. I watched this video of Sasha Duerr the other day, which is really inspiring. I have her book and Rebecca Burgess’ book as well. Both are really good books if you want to learn more yourself. Anyway, I watched her video in the middle of a sort of ‘down and out’ kind of day and I walked straight out into the garden and picked a large jar worth of marigolds, filled it with water and let it sit in the sun.


I was hoping that just sitting in the sun would be enough to extract the color, but it wasn’t, so I brought it in the house and poured it all into a pot and let it simmer on low for almost and hour. At the same time I simmered the yarn in alum, which is a mordant that helps the wool absorb and keep the color of the dye.

Now I’m not a scientific person by any means, so I can’t tell you the calculated weight of the marigolds nor did I set timers on any of this. I go about all of this in a very intuitive manner. So after simmering a jar full of marigolds for about an hour and then letting that sit for maybe another hour or two until I felt like all the color was extracted from the flowers, I strained it and added the yarn and turned the heat slowly back up to just below a simmer. I did that for about an hour then turned it all off, went to bed and woke up to this beautiful mustard yellow yarn.


It was so magical, I’m already planning on my next venture, which should be the niger hollyhocks. I think I’ve almost collected enough to give it a go. I just wanted to add, that natural dyeing isn’t hard. You don’t need complicated materials. If you are interested in trying this out, you can totally do it. All you need is 100% white wool or silk and alum, which can be found in the spice section of most grocery stores. Believe me, if you are having a hum drum day, and have access to any flowering marigold plants, which are abundant this time of year, you too can try this.

Try it and tell me how it goes, alright?


In the Garden, July 10

IMG_9929 IMG_9930 IMG_9933 IMG_9936 IMG_9938 IMG_9939 IMG_9941 IMG_9910 IMG_9913Taking pictures of the garden really shows a different side of it than walking through it. For instance I now know that I need to fill up those flower beds a bit more. And there is a big bare spot in our tomato garden behind the peach tree, which looks huge in this picture. We don’t plant anything there because the peach tree (which admittedly isn’t looking so hot this year) typically casts too much shade for that spot. Those marigolds though, in front of the bare spot are the most successful we’ve ever grown. Of course it’s the first time we’ve grown them from seed too. This is the first year we’ve been able to grow gourds too! That’s a fun addition. We threw those seeds into the ground from an old packet of seeds as a sort of last ditch effort in gourd growing and it worked.

Most of our meals have been based on what we need to eat in the garden. For instance at the moment we are always thinking of new ways to use eggs, beans and zucchini. We had zucchini fritters last night which us adults loved, a much harder sell on the kiddos.

The kids and I ventured to the yarn store yesterday to stock up on white yarn. I plan on dying with those niger hollyhocks again and trying a dye with the marigolds too.

It rained yesterday! The craziest thing. A group of us had already planned on a pool playdate so we went ahead and followed through with it. California kids almost never get to swim in the rain. For us it’s been a really nice treat to have a rainy cozy day in the middle of our long, hot summer.

How’s your garden growing?

(joining up with Soulemama’s In the Garden)

Knitting & Gardening


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Typically, on weeks that I join up with Ginny’s yarn along and Nicole’s Keep Calm, Craft On, I write about knitting and reading. But it’s hard with the children at home to find enough time to read so I hope you don’t mind that I pair knitting with gardening this week. These pictures seems so calm and soothing. Inside the house it’s a wild mess of sibling bickering this summer, so being outside is always a good place to be right now.

Yesterday I finally finished this cardigan that I’ve been working on since April. I used gorgeous Radius yarn from Knitterly. It’s a 100% merino wool from Vreseis Farm just an hour or so away from us. Dreamy stuff and would be perfect for a highly cabled fisherman’s sweater. The pattern is called Vodka Lemonade and I thought it would be a great little cropped, three-quarter sleeve cardigan to throw on over tank tops, which I wear all the time. I wear fairly simple clothes. Not much lace work or cables, but having the lace work go all the way up the back and the seed stitching makes this cardigan really pretty. Knitting it was fun, this pattern was the perfect blend of simple and interesting for me.

Small parts of our garden are starting to look like little meadows, this time of year at least. Walking around today I realized that I wouldn’t mind if it always looked a bit like a meadow. It takes me a long time to make design decisions regarding our house and our garden. Do we go with structured? Modern grasses? Overgrown, colorful homestead mish-mash? We’re hurting for water too much to go with overgrown and bountiful. Modern, symmetrical grasses planted in tidy rows are just too…structured for my taste. But I’m liking this meadow idea. Maybe I need to work on propagating the plants that are already here and spreading them outwards.

There is a lot of talk about this next winter being an El Nino year, which means that there is a chance that we could get a very rainy winter. Or it could be just as dry as it’s been the past four years. We won’t know until we go through it. But as always I remain hopeful so I allow myself to think that we’ll have enough water next spring that I can plant away, guilt free.



In the Garden

I cut this hydrangea back hard over a year ago. Really hard, because it was somewhat overgrown and never bloomed very well. This receives laundry grey water as it’s only source of water and this year it’s blooming brilliantly! We’ve made a couple changes to how we garden due to the drought, one of which…

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Garlic, Onions and Artichokes

We pulled our garlic two weeks ago. We wish we had saved the name of this garlic because, oh my! It’s beautiful and it’s huge. We’d love to grow this every year. We need to bring some back to our nursery and ask them what varieties they carried last fall to see if we can…

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The Bounty of May

The garden is slaying me with beauty this year. The end of this month marks four years in this house and it’s our first growing season feeling like we’re…well not quite ‘on top of it’. Nor do we have the beast tamed. But we’re the least overwhelmed of the previous years. And I think that’s…

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Knitting & Reading & Unknitting

You won’t believe what happened to me last week. We’ve been planning our school fundraiser. We haven’t had a big party like fundraiser in a few years and since it’s the school’s 20th anniversary, we’re even going so far as to call this a ‘gala’. All of us who got suckered onto the planning committee…

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A Simple Seaside Spring Break

It’s tough to get back in the habit of blogging once you’ve broken it. But I’m going to try get things going once more. After all things are blooming and growing and that’s motivation, certainly. (I do try and keep up on facebook and instagram, if you’d like to follow me there) We took to…

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March in the Garden | Flowering Success

Since there appears to be no March showers to bring April flowers, the plants have decided to make their big show early. There are flowers everywhere. From wild tiny purple flowers in freshly mowed fields, to neglected rose shrubs, to carefully pruned lilacs and promises of blooms from nurtured fall planted seedlings. Eleven years ago…

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