Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Bell Sleeve Pullover Part 2

Hal took some photos of my in my pullover after I got through about 20 rows of the body, the part below the yoke/armhole section.
It's a bit short at this point and the pattern only called for a total of 30 rows. I'm within 2 rows of 50. At least it's now below my belly button.
Once I finish the body I start on the sleeves, I must say though it looks really nice sleeveless. I may make another one some day without the bell sleeves the pattern calls for. Heck, if it turns out I don't have enough yarn I could just end this one this way. I have 2 skeins left though so hopefully this will be enough.
Just had to add, the body is finished, a total of 50 rows of the pattern repeat of 4 rows, plus two.

Garden Update with Photos

So something ate through the two stems of one of my potato plants over the course of 2 nights. I assumed it was a cutworm but couldn't find it buried in the sand any where in the vicinity, nor could I find hide nor hair of it the second day. Fortunately, there was a small leaf at the base of each toppled stem so I put a small mushroom can around each leaf as well as the potato plant right next to it. No damage today. Doesn't mean there won't be damage tomorrow, plus my bean plants which are just sprouting are only a few inches away on the other side of the bunny-protection chicken wire.

On the other veggie fronts, 4 of my tomato plants are poking out above the walls o' water. I'm leaving them on another night because it dropped to 39f last night and tonight is also supposed to be cool. Summer returns Friday with highs predicted to be in the 80s and lows in the 50s and 60s.
tomatoes in walls o' water
I have lots of cucumber and zucchini and pumpkin sprouts, too. Every variety I planted including seeds from last year has at least one sprout and often 2 or more. No real leaves yet, another day or two before those appear. I really need to think about planting another crop of beans, too. I have lots of space left. Perhaps another hill or two of cucumbers would be good, too.
And these are the flowers I picked up in Alpena last week. The orange ones are Gerbera and I got some yellow French marigolds and some dusty miller. I think they look good in my purple pots.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Crocheting Onward!

I started this Bell Sleeve Pullover on May 18th. I had about 4 false starts, first trying size Small (bust 36) which seemed almost ridiculous and indeed when I got to the underarms it was much too tight. So then I tried Medium (bust 39) which was closer but still too small. One of the biggest problems seemed to be that both those sizes only had 15 rows before the underarm join was made. Being a tall person I should have just realized that would make a big difference and head straight into the Large size (bust 43) even though a 43" bust seemed much too large. But I went for it, with a size US7 (4.5 mm) hook instead of the G hook (4 mm) I started with .
This is the finished yoke section. I've gotten much further now, at least 20 rows of the body done. I've dropped from the US7 hook down to the G hook just below the bust and now the F hook, 3.75 mm to make it just a bit slimmer in the body. I do have more photos but the camera is on the shelf 10 feet away and I do not feel like getting up to download them. But now that I finally have the size it's going quickly. Hopefully, the sleeves will be fairly easy to do.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

New Bed Number 2 and Nook Number 1

Went back to Art Van's last Monday and exchanged the Serta iComfort Prodigy mattress we bought 2 months ago with it's softer cousin the Savant, the one I originally preferred. Perhaps I should have pushed harder for that one, but I really thought there wasn't much difference. But after sleeping on the stiffer Prodigy for 60 days and occasionally waking up with aching hips, (Hal also had some uncomfortable nights) we decided to return it and get the other one. Besides we never heard that celestial choir telling us the mattress was pure perfection.

It arrived Friday and we've had 2 nights on it already. I like it better, I think Hal does, too though he still hasn't heard that choir. It's possible we need to break it in as we were told we'd have to break in the other one. This mattress is actually $200 cheaper than the Prodigy but the Art Van policy is you have to replace a mattress with one of equal or greater value. We weren't expressly told that but it's in the fine print which, of course, we ignored. So we didn't get that money back, plus we had to pay shipping this time which was close to $100. The lesson learned here is try the cheaper item first THEN get the higher priced one if you have to. We'd be $300 richer now if we'd done that. Could have bought 2 nooks this weekend with the sale Barnes and Noble is having.

Which brings me to the nook. B&N had a sale before Mother's Day so I finally bought a nook as I've been wanting an e-reader for some time now but $269 was more than I was willing to pay as there wasn't a lot you could do with their HD+ model. But then they added Google Play apps this year and dropped the price to $179. (For Father's Day they dropped it to $149, the bastards!)

It's a nice little device, touch screen, color, an 8.9" screen. I've read a book on it as has Hal, and we're reading another now. We've been sharing it to see if we want to get another, but those virtual keyboards leave a lot to be desired, it's a bit slow with the online stuff, though the couple of games I've loaded give me some amusement. Hal has decided the nook is mine to keep, he wants a tablet with a detachable keyboard, a better ability to utilize external memory (he wants to load camera cards from his wildlife camera and though I did download a photo viewing app for the nook, it's not really tailored for it). What Hal needs is one of those Microsoft Surface tablets but they cost around $1200, so he's planning on waiting a year or two till the market has more or better and cheaper offerings. Till then he'll just keep using his laptop.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Off to Alpena

I'm taking my neighbor and friend to Alpena today to one of her doctors. After that we'll be going grocery shopping and having lunch at the all you can eat China Buffet. We eat there almost every time we go shopping.

I was also in Alpena yesterday with Hal. Two months ago we bought a mattress set, one of those memory foam sets from Young Appliances, now an Art Van franchise. It was a Serta iComfort and those things are NOT cheap. But our old Sealy Posturpedic pillow top was almost 20 years old and sagging badly. Since we had taken out a first mortgage on the house to make essential repairs, (new roof being one of them) and had some extra cash we figured why not, with both of us having bad lower backs it seemed like a good idea.

So we've been sleeping on it for 8 weeks, about 3 weeks into it Hal determined he didn't care for it, so called our salesperson who said we had to actually sleep on it for a whole month so we did, he got used to it eventually but never really fell in love with it (on the other hand, his sister bought a new King Koil from them downstate and LOVES hers, it was a lot cheaper, too.) During the final 5 weeks I also woke up a few times with aching hips. We had picked the firmest one of the series, the Prodigy. We actually waffled between it and the softer Savant. I preferred the Savant at the time but Hal thought it might be too soft. Well, we obviously picked wrong. So we called Art Van a few times, finally talked to the rep and we went back to Alpena yesterday and made an exchange after trying out the 2 beds once more.

Immediately we both felt we preferred the Savant, which is actually $200 cheaper, but we won't get a refund because their policy is to exchange for the same or higher price set. We didn't realize in the fine print that was the case. We did know we'd have to pay for delivery this time. I'm sure the salesman could have made us a deal for something but we are lousy negotiators and just wanted to get this over and done with. So the new bed will be here Friday. With the original mattress and therefore this one costing close to $3000, including fancy pillows and a mattress protector (required for the possible exchange guarantee), I feel it's only right we LOVE our bed. Hopefully, this will be the case.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Veggie Gardening 2013

I'm planting less this year. Last year with the 6 week drought, the super heat wave and cold weather tomatoes pretty much combined into one massive failure. So this year I did not start seeds indoors, instead I bought 4 larger size tomatoes at Wal-Mart for $3.38 each. Two of the pots had a second plant which I managed to separate and plant.

I kept postponing planting outside because the night temperatures kept dropping into the low 40s and high 30s. Then June arrived with a 3 night cold snap, the lowest low hitting 31.8 Fahrenheit. I have no idea if there was a frost or not but last week I finally planted the 6 outside and placed "walls o' water" around them to keep them warm at night. (Just do a web search, links change all the time) I haven't used them in years but figured why the heck not. They're a pain to set up, keep falling over till you get the cylinders filled. I ended up placing my flat nosed shovel inside each one till filled. I must say though, the plants are busing out nicely.

I bought 4 varieties: Celebrity, New Girl, Early Girl and Sun Sugar, a cherry. Assuming they do well that ought to be enough for 2 people. Won't be enough for canning but I haven't canned tomatoes in years.

A few days ago I also planted 3 types of bush green beans in the same garden. (This is the one where the hutch run used to be, I surrounded it with 50 feet of 36 inch high chicken wire.) My usual 2 varieties of Jade and Masai and a new one, a flat bean the name of which escapes me just now.  In a couple weeks I will plant a second crop.

Much earlier, well late May as, again, the weather was lousy, I planted one crop of snow peas. Dwarf Grey Sugar I bought locally. I don't think I'll plant more till August. Generally peas like cooler weather, no idea how this batch will do as May ended up being hotter than average and thus far June is acting like it should still be May. But warmer weather will return eventually.

The last few days I've been trying to dig out the garden across the driveway. It is filled with tree roots, weeds, and the lower half is very, very wet. I tried weed killer which pretty much was a total loss. The drier part I did finally get clean enough though there are some roots that are just pulled up and hanging about on top of the dirt. (This is dirt, not soil, it's not good enough to be called more than dirt). I'll need a hand saw to remove the roots as their wider than an inch in diameter.

I dug some holes along the center line and planted 13 hills of both pickling and slicing cucumbers. I had seeds from last year and new ones from this year. Higher up where the roots are worse I planted 6 hills of zucchini, both green and yellow. One is called Butta that I planted last year the first time and really liked. Only planted one of the Romanesco variety I tried last year, I have a vague memory of it not lasting well and having a thin middle like a gourd. I did plant another generic green variety called, Dark Green Zucchini. No idea if that's an actual variety or just something the seed company threw together out of leftovers.

I also planted a few dill seeds between the zucchini. Dill seed for pickling is not cheap and dill is usually easy to grow. Hopefully, I won't mistake it for weeds and pull them up if and when they sprout.

I also have those 8 strawberry plants and 10 more I bought at Wal-mart but I think are dead because it's been more than a week and they look dead. The All-Stars I got from the Alcona conservation district are already flowering.

So that's my gardening report for now except I did also get my blueberry plants from Miller Nursery. Three of the 5 were pretty nice plants, one had few roots and another had a couple of limp twigs. But I planted them and they all seem to be alive so my fingers are crossed they will survive.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

My Purple Shawls

Okay, I figure I ought to post a couple photos of the finished shawls. The first one is Small Talk a free pattern I found at I used a purple wool/acrylic blend. It was the one I ran out of yarn for so had to end it one row early. I'm keeping this one for myself. I had to pin it out on the floor on a piece of the old living room carpet in order to block it. Blocking involves getting it wet, pressing out the excess water then stretching and pinning it to dry. After I blocked the main body I had to block the edging in sections because it curved so much. Ziggy decided it was a good place to take a nap.
At ravelry it is apparently "the thing" to hang one's shawl outside for photos, so I used the clothesline behind the house for the finished TADA! photos. It came out to be about 70 inches wide and maybe 30 inches long.

The other shawl is the Catkins also from and created by yarnpumpkin. Here it is blocked. Because it is microfiber, aka 100% acrylic it needed to be steam blocked. I just got it damp, pinned it out, then used my trusty steam iron held about a half inch above the fabric and kept pushing the steam button till I had gone over the whole thing twice. It held its shape well as can be seen from the outdoor shots.
I did add beads to the bottom edge, 8 mm purple and black beads that I had bought when I visited Hal's sister a year or so ago. I couldn't get anything bigger than 6 mm up here and the holes were too small for the yarn. I gave this shawl to Hal's sister when I went down for a baseball game at Tiger Stadium last month. She really seemed to like it.

Currently, I am pausing in the manufacture of shawls and trying to make myself a pullover summer sweater by Doris Chan. I'm on my 4th try. I've never crocheted a garment before and figuring out which hook and which size sweater to make has been a challenge. This is how it looked on me after I finished the yoke (3rd try). It was a bit tight in the underarms which I was afraid of as I am having a hard time getting the gauge right. This was size medium using a G hook (4.5mm). I have now gone up to a US 7 hook (4.5mm) and as size M and L are worked the same until the joining of the underarms, I'm just winging it till I get close. The bust size for medium is 39", for large it is 43", quite a difference and as my bust is only a 38" the large size seems a bit excessive. I guess I'll find out once I get there.