Saturday, January 2, 2016

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Sketch - Key West

Found this sketch while I was looking through some things today. Painted on the Casa Marina beach in Key West, FL.


Not my best work. Posting anyway. When doing botanical sketches/watercolors, I'm always on the fence about the background. What to do. Leave it blank, or with a muted colorwash fill? Try to approximate the actual background in a blurry way? I think the most successful botanical sketches I've done have used the texture/form of the plant as an abstract element in the background. Or I could go all Georgia O'Keeffe and just say "there shall be no background!"

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Iris reticulata

Finally in bloom today are these Iris reticulata, which I've been planting every fall (I'm aiming for large drifts, eventually). I adore these dwarf iris, and especially the fact that they are found in so many variations of purple and blue. In my garden alone, there are three shades; a clear ultramarine blue in addition to those pictured.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Cozy neckwarmer

I came up with this neckwarmer because I wanted a stash-busting, no-cost, and colorful addition to my ski wardrobe. I had bought some chunky merino two-ply in blue and fuschia from the sale bin *years* ago, and I paired those with half a ball of navy-ish Plymouth Tweed, held double. Lo and behold, the fuschia matched some North Face gloves and a Patagonia hat I already had, so much the better.

I actually tried this first on size 13 needles, but then realized that would yield a softer, squishier fabric than I desired--I wanted a thicker fabric that would stand up on its own and stay in place nicely. On size 10.5 needles this knitted up fast and was soft and stretchy, yet still fitted enough to fit under a parka or coat.

I knit this in a weekend day, not expecting any great hoopla, but have since received a few compliments and requests for the (very simple!) pattern. I'd say this pattern is suitable for someone who is a relative beginner to gain experience working with stripes and weaving in ends (there aren't so many, it's not that onerous).

Of course, there is no longer so much of the cold fluffy white stuff blanketing my yard, but I've heard tell that there is still plenty of it to ski on just a few hours north. Perhaps you could knit this up and throw it over a T-shirt for a splendid spring ski ensemble. Yeah.

Cozy neckwarmer

Yarn: Plymouth Tweed [held double] (C1), two colors of [name/brand lost in the sands of time] chunky 2-ply merino (C2, C3)
Gauge: 10 stitches=4 inches in stockinette
Needles: Double pointed, size 10.5

st=stitches; k=knit; p=purl; pm=place marker; k1r=knit one row; p1r=purl one row

  • With C1/Plymouth Tweed (held double!) cast on 54 st using the cable cast-on method. 
  • Join for working in the round. 
  • P1r. Pm at beginning of round. 
  • Switch to C2. Loosely tie ends together at beginning of round, leaving tails of 4" at minimum. K1r [note: knitting this row prevents the color change from showing on the right side], p1r, k1r, p1r, k1r.
  • Switch to C3. Tie ends loosely as instructed before. K1r, p1r. *K9, k2tog, repeat from * for remainder of row. 50 stitches. P1r, k1r, p1r, k1r. 
  • Switch to C1. K1r, p1r, k1r, p1r, k1r.
  • Switch to C2. K1r, p1r. *K9, k2tog, repeat from * for remainder of row ending with k6. 46 stitches. P1r, k1r.
  • Switch to C3. K1r, p1r, k1r, p1r, k1r, p1r, k1r. 
  • Switch to C1. K1r, p1r, k1r, p1r, k1r. 
  • Switch to C2. K1r, p1r, k1r, p1r. 
  • Switch to C1. P1r [note: purling this row causes the color change to be visible on the right side, here used as a subtle decorative feature], K1r, P1r, Bind off loosely. Weave in ends. 
  • Block, using a large vase or medium size bowl as a form. It may take up to 2 days to dry completely. I finished it off with a brief tumble in the dryer on low.  

Sunday, April 8, 2012

spring: a photo essay

Oncidium hybrid orchid in bloom (a new addition to my collection, this was about to bloom when I bought it so I can't take credit for the bloom, but I hope it will flower again under my care)
Phalaeonopsis about to bloom
Dendrobium 'Aussie's Chip' in bloom (a new addition, bought at the Boston Flower Show)
Meyer lemon in bloom
Kumquat about to bloom
purple basil seedlings
cherry tree in bloom

ferns unfurling within the stone wall behind the house

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

one out of... eight... ain't... so bad?

Here is my eggplant and tomato germination setup:

South-facing windowsill, with a fuzzy athletic heating pad (hey, germinating is athletic work for a little seed) from CVS to keep them at the cozy 75-80F preferred soil temperature. On the right you can see the tomatoes shooting up sprouts all over the place. 7 out of 8 tomatoes are reaching for the light. On the left are some conspicuously inactive squares of dirt. No, those are not mud-pie brownies I made out of frustration with my (currently broken) oven. It's eggplant, doing not much of anything despite my coddling them with cozy heating pads. But wait, what's that I see?

We have an eggplant! It may be only 4 mm high, but baby, it's ALIVE and GROWING. Of course, the other 7 cubes of dirt are still doing a whole lot of nothing, but the tomatoes came up slowly over a week, so I still have hopes for the other eggplant seeds. Did I mention I've replanted the eggplant seeds three times? I had read conflicting information (conflicting "rules" are the special fun of being a gardener) regarding the correct depth at which to plant eggplant seeds--some say 1/4 inch, some say a bare dusting of soil, others say consistent heat is the most important thing--and so I ended up hedging my bets and planting seeds at three different depths. Unfortunately, I do not know which depth this seedling came up from, so there's a lovely science experiment opportunity missed.
Here is what I'm hoping my aubergine will resemble:
Seeds, again, ordered through Seeds from Italy. These babies take 80 days to fruit, so I'm hoping for a long summer.  

Edit: There are now three eggplant seedlings! I wish more had germinated, but now I know better how to plant them, for next year.