which buttons do I choose???

28 May

Ive been knitting Blue Bird by Valerie Morris for my neice Annabelle and although I’ve now finished knitting, have sewn in my ends (althought there wasnt many as the cute little jumper is knit all in one piece) and have blocked it out, I just cant decide on what buttons to pick!!!!!!

Here are my options

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green mottled buttons

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pink and purple mix

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three solid purple buttons

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multi pinks

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baby blue for the purple Blue Bird

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Or creamy white circle buttons

????????????????????

I need some help!!!!!!

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sheltered dug-in slug traps

15 May

My favourite garden accessory this year is the dug-in slug trap. It’s simple and very effective.

Over the course of a week, I had watched as one by one slugs attacked my pepper plants, leaving only the stubble of a stalk and a few discarded leaves. I really didn’t want to use slug pellets. I had put down coffee grounds (fertilising and supposed to irritate slug bellies) and ground mace (it works for human attackers!), and would spent half an hour every night after darkness settled creeping round with a flashlight pulling slugs and snails off tender leaves. Fortunately, my neighbour Angel suggested trying this and it works!

Step 1: I used a plastic picnic cup cup as I don’t mind if it gets ruined with slime and a tin of beer. I actually like Polish beer, so this seemed like a bit of a waste until I learned the slugs like it too. I also decided to make a wee umbrella using a jam jar lid wider than the mouth of the cup and three small stakes, to keep the sun off and the rain out.

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Polish tinned lager, 1 low tray, 1 plastic cup, 1 small pretty plant pot, 3 knitting needles for staking and 1 jam jar lid

As well as the dug-in trap, I laid out two traps that I could move around the garden as needed, using an old pot tray and a high, narrow plant pot. I’ve used this type of movable trap before, although I’ve always wondered whether the trek up and over the sides put them off.

Step 2: Next I dug a hole so that the rim of the cup sits just at surface level. The hole looks enormous with nothing in it, but it is probably about 3 x 2 inches.

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Be careful at this point, I’ve exposed some roots

Step 3: Insert the cup to ensure it fits. I think it’s better to be conservative in your estimates, as it’s a bit easier to dig out than fill in to get the correct size.

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Nestle the cup as close to surface-level as possible, so the slugs just slip right in

Step 4: As I mention above, I was a bit worried about rainwater diluted my beer, so I devised a cover that won’t interfere with the trap itself. After inserting the cup, I arranged three 7-inch 5mm DPNs to form a triangle that will support the jam jar lid to act as an umbrella.

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Angle them slightly inwards so that they form a buttress to hold the lid in place

Step 5: Adding the beer is much easier if you gently remove the cup (but leave the stakes where thy are), fill the cup with beer and carefully sink back into the hole. The other option is pouring beer willy-nilly at the wrong angle so that the foam threatens to sop all over your garden. Trust me.

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Careful with that beer! You don’t want to make the plants even tastier by sloshing it everywhere!

Step 6: Top with the jam jar lid and voila!

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I don’t imagine slugs like watered down beer any more than I do

You do have to be a bit diligent about removing the slugs — I’ve discovered they aren’t as interested in beer when it smells of death. It’s pretty disgusting, but worth it. I’ve been replacing the beer every few days, although once summer hits properly it’ll have to be more frequent.

Even so, it works a treat! The sheltered dug-in slug trap.

13 May 13a

A great natural solution to protecting my baby beans

If you try this technique, link to it so we can see! In the meantime, how do you protect your garden from slugs and snails?

the rejuvenated garden

13 May
13 May 13b

Radishes, runner beans, beet seedlings, strawberries, cress and the guard zebra

This year I am back to gardening with a vengeance, so I thought a little update was in order! Why did I take so much time off? The trouble with container gardening is that once the soil has been depleted there’s nowhere to move the soil. So last year I followed the old farming technique of letting my garden fallow to rejuvenate the soil.

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Bell peppers, a heap of seedlings of unknown origin, peas and potatoes

It’s actually much easier than you might think, mostly because it requires more patience than anything else, and it’s more effective than I could have hoped, too! I was able to bring life back to my container soil without throwing it out and starting again following these steps:

Step 1: Much to the despair of my neighbours, I let my pots transform into a tangle of weeds and beds of moss for at least one full season (here in London that means roughly February to November).

Step 2: About 14-18 weeks before I wanted to start growing, I pulled out the weeds but kept them to one side and lay down almost 30 litres of manure — and if my neighbours had a problem with the weeds, I can only imagine what they thought of this move! For me, that horsey dankness was the smell of my soil rebuilding itself.

Step 3: Over top of the manure, I layered the leaves and twigs of the weeds I’d pulled up (taking care to remove any roots) and let them dry as a sort of mulch. Those pots with moss I left alone.

Step 4: Then I let the whole thing overwinter.

13 May 13f

Tomatoes, strawberries and runner beans

The result was wonderful! When I lifted up the nests of dried twigs and leaves and rolled back the moss, the soil underneath was rich and full of goodness (not to mention full of happy invertebrates)! You can see the results best under the strawberries and lettuce below. That there is 100% revitalised container soil.

13 May 13i

Strawberries and two types of lettuce

Although I have several large plants, only a few of them have been grown by me as seeds. This year I found a whole bag full of seed packets under my sink, most of them nearly two years out of date! So I did what any cavalier gardener would do and chucked them into the soil to see what would grow. So far I’ve had the best luck with cress, radish, bean, pea and beet seedlings, which have all come up like mad. I have two pots with mixed seedlings and no idea what they might be because I, of course, neglected to keep a record. Carrots, definitely, and some herbs, but other than that I’ll just have to be patient to see what comes up.

13 May 13a

Broad bean seedlings with my new favourite garden accessory: the dug-in slug trap

In my next post, I’m going to show-and-tell my Jerry-rigged greenhouse roof as well as my dug-in slug traps. (I was so pleased with my slug traps that I drew a diagram for my secondary-school students to demonstrate how effective they are. Response: ‘Miss, no offence, but you sound a little crazy.’)

stash busting Paulie

8 May

So I’ve finally finished my stash busting Paulie cardigan and I love it!

Well, it is minus buttons but that can wait until the perfect buttons show their face, and a lack of buttons has never stopped me wearing anything in the past!

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I decided to do this project to use up a chunk of my left over sock yarn as well as having a new summer cardigan!
I gathered together a bunch of colours that I thought worked well together a basically worked the colours until they ran out,
you can see in the pictures the change in colour stripes as I went along but as I kept to a strick colour pattern I think it works.
Using the same three colours for the thinner stripes helped keep the pattern together.
I decided to do rib cuffs and bottom band as I personally prefer the rib to the garter stitch for the way it sits but I kept the garter stitch for the collar section.

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I really wanted it to include a hood so I worked a bunch more short rows in garter stitch after the collar until I go my desired shape!

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I think it will be well worn and my stash is tidy and organised with will a few remaining left overs to work those little baby booties and socks that are akways needed at short notice!

The best thing is that whenever I wear it I can look at the different yarn colours and fibres and think about the projects I made originally!!!!!!!

darling buds

25 Apr

Due to a delayed spring, the garden plants have been a bit slow this year however it was a relief today so see some lovely new buds and flowers on my favourite plants!!!

From the Lilac through the Honeysuckle to the Raspberry, there is life yet in what were weather battered pot plants!

I just had to grab a few photos and share!!!!!

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I just hope the lovely weather keeps up into May so I can introduce my chillies, tomatoes and peppers!!
Fingers crossed!!!

twist collective spring 2013

16 Apr

What a delight to switch on my laptop Sunday morning and discover that there was a brand new edition of Twist Collective to peruse over my birthday breakfast! Patter-wise this issue is a bit thin on the ground for me. There are a few things I find interesting, but nothing I’m gagging to knit. Article-wise, this one was fascinating. Spring and summer are difficult times to design for, but well-written articles are year-round.

To begin with the patterns, I really like the looks of Rebecca Blair’s Eliza jumper and Emmy Petersson’s Alvinda cardigan. They both take advantage of the breeziness of a simple lace pattern in a light sport-weight yarn. I also think both would be adorable converted into henleys. Don’t you think Eliza would be super-cute with a little column of buttons?

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I also enamored by Iris Wildsmith’s Galliera tam. Not only does she have the best name ever (she’s a smithy of the wild!) but she has great aesthetic.

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Finally, Michaela Moores’s Castanea is amazing! The stole is beautiful, but the giant circular shawl is spectacular. I love the yarns chosen for the sample patterns; the colours really make the stitch pattern sing.

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On to the articles: I really recommend taking a look at Robin Melanson’s feature, ‘The Error of Our Ways: A Knitter’s Guide to Fixing Mistakes‘. It offers both excellent solutions to common problems and a great pictorial guide that demonstrates clearly what these issues look like and how to fix them. I’ve always been fairly fearless when it comes to dropping down and fixing things in situ rather than ripping back six rows to sort a mistake out.

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All you really need to be able to do it without damaging your work is to follow one of the best tips she gives: learn to read your knitting. This tip is repeated in Sandi Rosner’s article on lace, but it is well worth learning how-to whatever your project. It’s a bit tricky in the first repeat of a new pattern or chart, but it saves endless heartache in the end if you sit back, spread out your work and read the stitches after every few rows/rounds. You catch errors much more quickly, plus it’s really lovely to just be able to admire the results of all that effort you’ve put into your work!

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The other article that really caught my attention is Leslie Petrovski’s essay on plant-based fibres, ‘In the Weeds‘, which gives both a historical perspective of how these fibres have developed in human hands and their advantages/disadvantages over animal fibres. It’s a very interesting read. I’ve never been particularly into plant-based yarns, as I find the inelasticity of cotton yarns difficult on my hands (and the very thought of hemp and linen gives me arthritis). As I get deeper into working with colour and knitting jumpers and cardigans, I’ve got deeper into exploring how different sheep breeds and other animal-based yarns react to different stitches and contours. Plus sweaters and cardigans designed in cotton or linen always seem to be too tunicy and mother-earthy or just somehow less agile than those designed for wools. But this has made me reconsider some of my prejudices and has made me really keen to get my hands on some linen. It might open up a whole new world for me.

Does anyone have any recommendations for plant-based yarns?

All images taken from Ravelry and the Twist Collective site.

new blue chair

15 Apr

When I found this wicker/bamboo?? chair on my old street about 4 years ago it was in pretty good condition, obviously unwanted for space reasons rather than aesthetic.

I had intended to use it in the house not the garden, however due to my freaky OCD style obsession with bed bugs the chair lived outside in the old garden and came with us to the new flat, living in this garden too!

When I saw the lovely BellaDonna chair I mentioned in my post a few weeks ago I just new that I could use the wicker/bamboo chair to recreate the look!
(I would love the original but shipping costs for a chair from Australia are a little excessive…….)

So I took myself down to B and Q and got together my equipment….

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Thin wire wool, primer, paint, brushes and a dust cloth

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I began by using the wire wool to sand down all of the flaking bits of wood and varnish

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This gave a nice smooth finish

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I then used one of the little brushes to brush down the entire chair getting into all the little corners

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Then, using the dust cloth I made sure there was no bits loose on the wood, cleaning it too as I went along.

Once this was done the chair looked like this

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I then used a white primer, giving two coats to the entire chair

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Once this was dry I could start on the main colour!!

After one coat

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And finally after two coats

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I think it will need a few more touches of paint but all in all I’m in love with my new chair!

From shabby

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To stylish

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