Archive for the ‘Our Garden’ Category

We are now on water restriction, but our allotment is enough to keep the garden going.  We are using some drought techniques I wanted to try, like planting in a furrow instead of on a raised bed so the water is channeled to the roots, using drip hoses, and reusing clean water from the house.  A lot of water is wasted waiting for the hot water to get to the faucet, so I run that water into a container and use it to water plants.  I also reuse water that I used to rinse off vegetables.  So far, so good.  We are picking basil, cucumbers, plums, and peaches right now.

DSC01303The garden is green but the lawn is brown.  Can’t eat the lawn, so it is last on the list.

DSC01304I am loving the raised planter my husband built for me.  It seems to need less watering, and the beans and basil are doing very well.  Lots of volunteer dill sprouted there too.

In between carrying around buckets of water, I have been making the ribbings of many sweaters:


Rib borders for future sweater cardigans

After the borders are knit by hand (because I like the way they look, and I think the hand-knit borders wear better) they are hung from the knitting machine needles and the rest of the sweater is knit very quickly.  The knitting machine I use the most was packed up during the recent work on the house, so I had to set it up again.  That’s all finished so time to get back to knitting and sewing.

In the sewing department, I finished up my first pattern using the Sure Fit Design system.  I have a shirt pattern I have used a lot, but I was never satisfied with the way it fit through the shoulders.  I used my SFD draft to alter the pattern and am very interested to see how it fits now.  I cut a shirt out of heavy chambray to test it out.

Read Full Post »

Spring Chores

Now that my machines are all ready for sewing, I am cutting out some tops and hemming some tablecloths.  We are in for a drought year, the pundits say, but we have had some really good rainstorms this winter, and our water supply isn’t as bad off as some counties, so I am going to go ahead with a small vegetable garden.  I’ve started my seeds:

DSC01106We are in the middle of a rainy week right now with another storm front supposed to pass through tomorrow.  Meanwhile, the poppies and roses are blooming.

DSC01110 DSC01109 The lavender and sage are blooming too.

DSC01111Our fruit trees are looking great, but the ancient camellia bush by the front door that was here when we moved in decades ago seems to have died over the winter.   Meanwhile, the rose bush out front has more roses on it than ever:

DSC01090Hoping for a rainy month ahead.

Read Full Post »

Two days ago it was 111 degrees in the shade, and yesterday it was 102.  Not so bad yet today:

DSC00224The temperature will go up, it’s only noon.  I am keeping cool, somewhat, by sewing with my little fan on the sewing table.  I’m working on another top for M from New Look 6871 while listening to a Nora Roberts book-on-tape.Fullscreen capture 6132012 44531 PMThe yoke has been installed and now I am doing the topstitching, then all that is left is to do the armhole binding and hem.  Tops that don’t have buttons or zippers go really fast.DSC00225

The garden has been growing like crazy the last three weeks.  Here are some comparison pictures:

DSC00204June 8

Garden July 1, 2013July 1

I am amazed at my basil crop this year.  It is the best I have ever ever done with this herb.  I’ve already made many batches of pesto and frozen it in small containers, and the basil just sends out new growth.  It is my goal to add to our groceries and to raise enough food to help other people, too.  After I put up enough plums in the freezer to make jam next winter when it is cooler, we gave over 100 pounds of plums and produce to the Food Bank, and some to other relatives and friends.  All this out of my modest back yard.  That winter squash has reached the top of the chain link fence and invaded the neighbor’s yard.  Maybe the neighbor kids will get a pumpkin of their own.  I did plant a lot of peppers but don’t remember which variety, so that is a happy surprise for another day.

Read Full Post »

Middle Of June Already

We have been working on the garden the last few weeks, so the tops for my daughter are languishing in UFO-land.  My husband did go away for a week to help his mom travel to visit his brother’s family, so I used the alone time to tackle the serger.  I don’t know why I had a mental block about learning to use it, but it just seemed to be a big hassle at a busy time.  I finally got over it and learned to use it.  It’s only a machine after all.  I got a big stash of ivory and white knits during my last jaunt to the craft thrift store, so I plan to make things for the daughters and dye them fun colors.

Here are some views of the garden in the second week of June:


The picture above is of The Back Forty, the section at the back of the yard that used to be a wasteland of brush and a filbert tree that we took out this year.  Planted here are pole beans at the back of the shed, basil, squashes, beets and parsley, beans, and winter squash along the fence (to climb up the fence).


The area above was overgrown with some ground cover that crept in from the neighbor’s yard, but the spouse dug it up last year.  It produced several dozen big butternut squashes last year, and this year the tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers are looking great so far.

DSC00205Here is the main center bed with the 45 or so cucumber plants growing up a trellis in a small area.  Every day I pick 10 or more cucumbers and have already made the pickle relish for next year.  I always plant a wide strip of flowers across the front of the bed so I can see them from the dining table.  There are also onions, peppers, eggplants, and beets in this bed, but the center section is still empty waiting to be planted in more beets and onions.  It is really amazing what a big harvest you can get out of a smallish suburban yard.  There are also some fruit trees that give us apples, pears, several varieties of plums, peaches and apricots.

In addition to working on the serger while the spouse was gone, I was drafting a new sweater pattern to fit the oldest daughter.  She fits in the sweaters I make for myself, but of course wants a younger, more fashionable look.  In particular, I like a comfortable sleeve that fits over other garments, and she likes a sleeve tight to the arm.  She is taller than I am so wanted the sweaters a little longer, and the general measurements needed a little adjustment.  I’ve got the pattern all written out and am working on the first prototype, a red, 3/4 sleeve, raglan cardigan with scoop neck.  It looks, though, like the plums and apples are getting ripe rapidly, earlier this year than last, so I may be spending the next few weeks putting up fruit for jam making, which I do in the winter when it is cold outside (using the fruit I froze in the summer).

Read Full Post »

Harvest Time

The weather here has been hot in the daytime but nicely cool at night.  This means that if I can get going early enough in the morning, I can pick the beans and cucumbers before the sun moves across the yard.

Above is this morning’s harvest – lots of green beans, cucumbers, and my first peppers.  I’m growing paste tomatoes this year, but I confess that I don’t like sticking my arm into the sticky tomato bushes, so the spouse does that for me.  I just wash the tomatoes and freeze them whole, and when I need them, I can thaw them and the skins slip right off.  Then I chop them and add them to dishes.

This week I am doing some utilitarian sewing chores.  I hemmed a new tablecloth, hemmed A’s skirt, and am now hemming M’s pants:

I am a horrible procrastinator, but I think I have improved over the years.  I used to put off school papers or studying for a test until the last minute.  When I do get around to a sewing chore like this that someone has requested, it never is as lengthy a chore as I think, and I am usually done with it in record time.    It occurs to me that right now I am playing around on the computer instead of sewing the hems, so I guess I’d better go to the sewing machine.

Read Full Post »

Trying to decide on the next project.  While I wonder what to sew next, I may as well go down to JoAnn’s this week and see what McCall’s patterns are on sale, and see if there is any gauzy fabric to be had.  In the meantime, the garden is doing very well so far:

This little spot is in front of my herb garden.  Some volunteer statice and some white yarrow have flowered together.  I don’t remember what those purple flowers are.

Here are the two front vegetable patches.  We are harvesting summer squash, basil, onions, and cucumbers so far.  I love the way this photo makes the backyard look so much more groomed and neat than it does in real life.

My zinnias are finally blooming enthusiastically:

I was talking with my daughter, A, and we were planning out future sewing for her wardrobe.  She could use some dark denim skirts because denim is always a useful addition to the closet, but I need to find some soft drapey denim fabric.  The only denim I have in the stash is more of an upholstery weight and can almost stand up by itself.

Read Full Post »

The new project under construction is New Look 6871, a top with a curved top yoke.   It seems to be a little more fitted than other peasant tops, so I decided to give it a try.  First I had to do the alterations using the pivot and slide method, then I cut out this first practice version from a piece of cotton that I found at the thrift store.  M is coming over tonight to try it on.  This pattern could look nice with embroidery on the yoke, but first we have to see how it looks on her.  This is a very easy pattern to sew.  I was rushing to finish most of it for the evening try-on, thinking that I would be sewing on it most of the day, but I was finished by 8:30 this morning, leaving me lots of time to go plant more beans in the garden.

The garden is growing very fast this year.  We were very late planting it but it seems to be making up for that with rapid growth.  I picked the first cucumber this morning.

None of the zinnias are blooming yet, but the basil is ready for the first batch of pesto.  In addition to basil, I planted beans, squashes, beets, peas, and onions.   And tomatoes.  I almost forgot them because they are planted behind the shed.

This is my 400th post!  In celebration, I think I will go make some spaghetti.

Read Full Post »

Not too much sewing has been going on around here, because we have been digging and planting and weeding.  The picture shows the garden about two weeks ago, and more things have been planted since then.  The weather has been weird – hot for a stretch, then cold and windy.  Today it is hot again, but I think the plants like it.

When I am worn out from garden work, I sit down and sew in some of the hundreds of ends on the afghan that is nearing completion.  After the ends are done, I just have to crochet the border.  I also got a shock when I found out that the wedding my daughter will be taking part in is in a few days, and I didn’t have the three weeks I thought I had to do alterations on her bridesmaid dress.  All I have to say about that dress is that the people who sewed it really were serious about it, because it was seriously sewn to stay sewn.  It took forever to deconstruct so that I could shorten the straps on the bodice.  But it is done now and on its way.

Next up is the last of the sleeveless tops, if I ever get around to cutting it out.  The real reason that my sewing has lagged lately, though, is that I am rereading the Sue Barton Student Nurse series that I loved as a girl.  Copies had disappeared from the local libraries, and apparently they are in demand because they had gotten so expensive to buy on used-book sites.  However, some company has reissued them and I now own them all.  Wonderful books,  I’ll never get tired of them.

Read Full Post »

It’s still wild out in the backyard, but we are pulling weeds and getting started on the plants.

I finally set up the little greenhouse whose original cover has rotted away, so I covered it with some clear plastic and fashioned a little window using the ever-useful duct tape.

 I was going to sew a cover but got lazy and just clipped the plastic on with clips and clothespins.  It worked.  Here’s a view inside:

There are not too many plants started yet but I try to start a few flats of plants every other day or so.  So far I have tomatoes, peppers, winter squash, cucumbers, basil, and resurrection lilies, plus two six packs of flowers I bought at the hardware store.

In sewing news, I have two tops cut out that I am ready to start sewing.  This came about when I ran across two interesting pieces of fabric during the sewing room cleanup that I cut out right away and work on when I am tired of going through my stash. So far in my destashing adventure, I have gone through most of my boxes of patterns and have weeded out four boxes full of styles I will never sew.  I took two boxes to the thrift store, and they were delighted to get them.  I’ll pick a different thrift store for the next batch to spread around the largess.  My plans are to move my cutting table into the sewing room turning the guest room back into a guest room.  In order for this to happen, I have to store my mountains of fabric somewhere else.  I’m still working on a plan.

Read Full Post »

We went from cold spring to hot 90 degree weather in 12 hours.  Meanwhile, my new rose bush, Joseph’s Coat, bloomed for the first time:

I love everything about this rose and hope it climbs all over the fence.

One thing about trying to clean up your act is that you find stuff you had forgotten you had. Here’s a few old patterns that turned up while I was going through my pattern stash:

Look at that fashion artwork in McCall’s 4003!  Those girls are easily 8 heads high and would look a bit freaky in real life so out of realistic proportion are they.  It does make the clothes look nice though.

I also found the pack of missing crochet hooks that I have been looking for.

Not much happened today in the sewing room because we went into Oakland for the bead show.  There is still stuff all over the living room waiting to go into storage, so maybe tomorrow I can start culling the fabrics.  Like I said, it will be a long process.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »