Monday, 19 January 2015

In My Garden

The garden was a joyful place, yesterday. I managed to get out and do some work - digging! - for the first time since last September. The Dahlias were lifted, and I removed as much soil from the tubers as I could, without damaging them. They were all put into trays, upside down, and labelled. They are now reclining in the garage, away from danger of heavy frost. I dug over some of the bed the Dahlias had been in, weeding as I went. It is now ready for the spring.
 Having done that, I joined Best Beloved in the Veg garden. He was tidying up the Strawberry bed. So, I went through the brassica bed, cutting the last of the red cabbages, and pulling up the dead stems. Some of the red cabbages had been badly frosted, so were rotting, and they went into the compost.
The colours and patterns in the red cabbages always beguile me. Such beauty in the neat patterns of the folds in the leaves.
Also delicious cooked slowly with onion, apple, a pinch of sugar, a grind of nutmeg and a good splash of wine!

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Jars and knitting theory

The Spring Cleaning Bug has bitten. I'm not sure if it is due to the ( comparatively ) mild weather, or from nearly three months of inactivity. Whatever the reason, I found myself sorting through the rows of herbs and spices in the larder, throwing some away and putting others into clean jars. After that, I dug out every jar I could find, and washed it. Now this part is purely down to finding some spare jars for Alchemoonist, who is a great chutney maker, and has run out of jars. It all fits together nicely, though, and helps propel me towards my goal of emptying the garage in 2015! There is so much ''stuff'' stored in there, and it's been there too long.
I really must remember to replace the spices I threw out.
Work on the Vicarage Fete Aran has continued. It is a slower knit than it might have been, as I am designing 'on the needle', as it were. I have found that knitting swatches, doing the maths, sketching, and writing only get me so far. I am better at doing it rather more by instinct, with some of the theory as guidance. My first attempt, using purely theory, based on maths and tension square, saw me cast on a certain number of stitches for the back, and having knitted six inches, found that it would have fitted a Rhino! So, after that I used a lot of guesstimates, using paper mainly to work out the placement of cable stitches. There has been a lot of casting on, knitting so far, measuring, possibly unravelling, and doing it again. But I don't mind. I am enjoying the process, and hope that this cardigan will fit nicely.
At the moment, I have the back knitted up to the armhole, one front, also up to the armhole, and a sleeve, almost at the point of starting the raglan. My intent is to work them to the neck, a row at a time each, to preserve the evenness of the pattern. If I mark the decreases, then I should be able to copy the method onto the remaining pieces. That is the theory!

Monday, 5 January 2015

More treasures

Finding a few early blossoms in the garden is so heartening, so I almost did a little skip this morning.  The flowers that are blooming today are different to the ones I discussed the other day.
Three snowdrops ( Galanthus nivalis) have pushed brave little heads above the parapet of nettles. The earliest I have had them, here.

 The Wintersweet (Chimonanthus preacox ) has really got into it's stride. I am really pleased with this, as it has only been in that bed for about twenty months. They are notoriously difficult to get going. This one had been in a pot for four years, however, so I think it was do or die!

 I was more than a little surprised to find this hellebore ( Helleborus niger ) in flower. 
Commonly called the Christmas Rose, it is more usually in flower at Easter. I had put six plants in a trough of very gritty compost, in autumn 2013, to have on the step by the back door. They sulked about, and only showed a couple of blooms. I moved the trough down by the greenhouse and forgot about it. I should have remembered, they don't like being moved or fiddled with. Now settled in, there are already several flowers, with buds beginning to show on all the plants.
There are also a couple of flowers on a Borage plant, at the back of the herb bed, quite a number of tiny white flowers on a plant that I can't identify (yet - I did plant it, so I must have a label somewhere! ) and the bud of bulbous plant, which is probably an Iris reticulata.