19 August 2009

My little bit of heaven

There are times, dear reader, when this bear is proud of her green-fingeredness. In truth, she comes from a family of farmers and gardeners, so her ability to keep her chlorophyll-filled friends (try saying that three times fast) alive is not so much a talent as a family trait... But, alas, this poor bear now lives not in the countryside of her upbringing, but in an apartment, with nerry a scrap of grass to spit on and call her own, and so, she has spent a large proportion of her time bringing the countryside, in all its diversity, to her!

May I introduce you to my moderately successful balcony paradise! All year round something is growing, something is finished for the year, and something, somewhere is being eaten by greenfly, slugs, snails, catterpillars and the occasional weevel. I'm a tolerant paradise keeper; as long as these pests don't end up taking over any one species, I let them be. It's not just my little paradise afterall. The slugs get flicked off the balcony into the bushes below, but I'm pretty sure I end up, every few days, flicking the same slugs off again.

On my 3 metre squared balcony I have: (deep breath)
an ash bonsai,
rocket lettuce,
potatoes (more on them a little later),
woad (oh...yes... someday, I will use this to dye things blue... and will stink up the whole east coast doing it!),
a gargoyle,
bizzy lizzies,
an asparagus fern,
green beans,
sweet pea,
wild strawberries,
some blow-in grassy thing,

oh! and this:

A pupa. My very own baby butterfly (or moth, I don't know which) But, still. How cool is that!

Still, despite this seeming success, I fail at feeding myself. Fail terribly. My poor tomatoes caught a wilting virus and died overnight, my chilli peppers followed a few days later...and this is this year's potato "harvest". The largest potato I produced in this fine year is three inches long. : )

I'd fail at being an Irish peasant.

09 August 2009

Yarn Goodness

It seems I am capable of dying roving, spinning it on my lovely wheel to lace-weight and (oh, yes...) navajo-plying it to 4-ply -weight without too much difficulty. This, as you can imagine pleases me greatly. I have accomplished a thing for the day.

I'm just not sure what it wants to be yet. Suggestions?

Now, I can sit back and work on my stash-buster* skirt some more.


And N-Plyed:

* There will be pictures and an explanation of this in a few days when I have enough of it done to make sure it's a viable plan.

07 August 2009

How To: Home Dye Roving for Spinning.

I'm excited! I got it into my head last night that now would be the perfect time to retry a roving home dying experiment. I'm making this into a How To, no matter what the outcome, but so far I think I'm in the clear!

The first step I took was to prepare the roving (about 2 metres of blue faced leicester) in a mordant bath of half white vinegar and half water, and set it on the balcony overnight. Leaving it on the balcony is not a necessary step in the dying process, but for me, it's necessary step in keeping my boyfriend.

Wanting to make things complicated, as I usually do, I decided to dye my roving in three colours using food colouring (for details on how to dye with food colouring, please have a look at this How To), to give a bit of a Noro-esque quality to the finished product.

For this, I took three plastic tubs, filled each with about 300 mls of water, added blue, cochineal, and red to each dyebath respectively, and then, like a long, damp snake placed my one, long piece of roving into the baths.

Once this had been achieved, I built the tubs up, like so, adding bits of cardboard to the sides so that the tubs wouldn't sink too far down into each other; an outcome that woudl have left me with a lot of dyed water flowing out all over the place.

Once they were safely stacked, I placed them in my microwave for 8 minutes on full, removed them, unstacked and allowed to cool. I then moved the undyed roving between the baths into the next bath over, so that some of the dyed roving was being double-dyed. I hope this will give the whole thing a lovely gradual colour change.

After another 8 minute zap in the microwave, I removed, allowed to cool completely, rinced in cool water and am currently letting the whole kit and caboodle drip dry back out on the balcony, out of direct sunlight*.

Tomorrow, if it's totally dry (and unfelted) I'll have a go at spinnign it, and may even try a little Navajo-plying into the bargain.

*But, sure, in Ireland, what ISN'T out of direct sunlight?!

A baffling moment...

You know those moments in your life when you're not sure why you just did what you did. That awesome split-second decision to reach out and stop a vase from toppling over, or the baffling moment when, after watching way too much telly late into the night, your hand decides enough is enough and reaches for the off remote in the middle of a lengthy Cheers marathon.

I love those moments.

I had one last night. Without knowing why, I got up, locked my apartment, walked half a mile down the road, turned right, strolled into the chipper and ordered dinner. I handed over money, got my food and walked home. Crazy, eh? I'm still not completely sure what prompted me to take that unusual and baffling series of actions...

05 August 2009

Tension Magazine

There is very little in this world I love more than new adventures.

Whether that be a trip to the supermarket, a lovely new packet of flower seeds, new shoes, or an inkling of an idea for a new pattern, I get all giddy. The world seems a bit newer, exciting, sparky.

And I have to take my hat off to Josi Hannon Madera, Julie Armstrong Holetz and Laura Killoran who are starting their own, kick-ass crochet magazine. From what I've heard, it's going to feature interesting recipes, great fashion and deliciously challenging crochet (and maybe the odd knitting...) patterns for the more advanced crocheter. And I say; about time something like this happened! Crochet magazines in general haven't really dragged themselves out of the poncho-years yet; boxy patterns in thick, unflattering yarns still happen way too often; and it's lovely to see these three, talented women striking a blow for awesomeness.

I, for one, shall be subscribing.

04 August 2009

New Crochet Pattern - Rasta Kitty!

I'm been meaning to get this lovely little crochet pattern written up for a while, now, and I'm delighted I finally did! It's a slouchy hat that's lovely and cozy for the autumnal weather that'll soon be upon us, I'm sure.

Personally, I LOVE hats with ears, hairbands with ears... anything, with ears, really, so I thought it high time that I share this love with the world. EARS! They're awesome.

With that thought firmly in your mind, I'm happy as Larry to present: Rasta Kitty, the new generation of kitty hat.

Thank you!


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