Tuesday, August 25, 2015

August: Gardening and Knitting Notes

As the nights cool, my garden has that end of the summer look. Despite this earlier photo, most of the beds are none too attractive. The tomato vines are a mess. They are dying back while a few pieces of green fruit dangle from dry branches. I planted them two weeks later than usual because of heavy May rains. More rain fell in June so they had a slow start. I'm not complaining about the moisture but I am glad I don't depend on my garden to feed my family in the way my great grandmother. I have harvested some tomatoes but will not have enough to can for winter soups. However, the cucumbers thrived in the cooler damp weather. I made plenty of bread and butter pickles and gave away as many cucumbers as I could find willing takers. I'm pulling up the last wilting cucumber vine today. I also made a gardening note to plant only one hill of cucumbers. How many pickles can one family and neighborhood eat? For the first time, I had good luck with a bell pepper plant. We have been eating "orange blaze" peppers in salads and with hummus. Yesterday I chopped up three extras and put them in the freezer. I also have lush basil plants and will freeze some pesto. My slightly haphazard approach to composting seems to be working. I added a fair amount to the vegetable garden, herbs, and perennial flowers along the fence.

The hollyhocks were beautiful before some sort of blight grew on the underside of the leaves. I usually let them go to seed but this year I cut most of them down hoping to minimize the spread of whatever was growing on them. I don't use gardening chemicals or even natural/homemade sprays. I've never found anything that worked very well or seemed worth the time to mix and spray. If a flower, vegetable, or herb grows and thrives I keep it around, if it doesn't I let it go. The perennials in my garden have to tolerate the Nebraska summers and winters.

In knitting notes, I am chugging away on the second gray variegated sock. The single cable running down the side adds just enough interest to keep the project interesting without requiring too much concentration. The cable on the right sock twists to the front and the one on the left sock twists to the back. This thoughtful detail of a mirrored cable on a free pattern is typical of meticulous detail by the designer, Glenna C. I have an Ishbel shawl on the needles - in blue of course. Late last night I picked it up and discovered a few rows back, I had began to knit two edge stitches instead of three. I decided to wait to fix it in the light of day. I'm going to try to drop down and reknit the stitches instead of ripping out six to eight rows. Wish me luck. I am looking forward to cooler temperatures and a chance to wear a shawl. I hope the end of summer is treating you well.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Tomorrow is the Day

Most mornings the temps have been slightly cooler. By afternoons, the air is back to the typical heat and humidity of a Nebraska August. A couple of times this past week, I thought I sensed a slight touch of fall in the air. This morning I found a red maple leaf on the sidewalk and remembered that tomorrow is the first day of school for many students in Lincoln. I remember lining up my two children in carefully chosen outfits on the front porch for photos. I remember the sense of anticipation, excitement, and feeling as if they really were a year older on the first day of school. Our daughter went to a first day of preschool on a hot August day wearing a purple and pink long sleeved sweatshirt because her Grandmother had given it to her to keep her warm at school. The sweatshirt was stuffed into her backpack within the first twenty minutes but she had it with her, just in case. Our son started kindergarten in his favorite turquoise, orange, and black surfboard print shorts, sneakers with black and white checks and psychedelic green and pink designs, and emerald green and white striped wrist bands because that is what he wanted to wear. He is our second child and by then I was less worried about coordinated clothing. I have no idea what the kindergarten teacher thought of his outfit but he had a good day. He still has a wonderfully quirky sense of humor.

This year we watch two grandsons begin the school year. The oldest one, living out of state, begins middle school and the little guy, close by, enters his second year of preschool. Taking stock after the summer, I notice both boys have grown by leaps and bounds and look a year older. I love the idea of a fresh start including new school supplies, new socks and shoes, (they always need new socks) as well as a new teacher and new grade with new chances for learning. Tomorrow morning as I walk, I will watch the neighborhood children on their way to school with a lump in my throat. I wish them all well. I hope they all feel smart and successful at school. In this crazy world, we need all of our children to be successful.

In knitting news, I cast on several projects from stash yarn. I am knitting a pair of So Simple Silk Garden socks, a free pattern courtesy of Glenna C., in Socks That Rock lightweight yarn. The color is called Stormy Weather. These are gift knitting for someone who likes a gray/black/white variegated color scheme. Knitting with these colors didn't appeal to me in January but on these dog days of summer, the silver frosty color is rather refreshing. And no, that is not frost but humidity on the patio table.

Inspired by Susan B. Anderson's blog post on a Louise sweater, I cast on a similar sweater from a pattern called Ramona. After reading her post, I remembered a sweater's worth of teal colored Montera yarn, stored deep in the stash. My sweater will be knit from one color and it will be heavy enough to wear as a jacket. I knit the yoke and separated for the sleeves but have set it aside until the weather cools off a bit. The maple leaf tells me those days aren't too far away.

Happy First Day of School to one and all!