Hello! When I plant my garden I like to leave room for lots of flowers and herbs between my rows of vegetables. Planting this way serves a few purposes for me. Cilantro repels insects when you plant it between tomato vines. Chives at the base of an apple tree repel insects that like to feast on the fruit of the trees. Flowers of any kind in the garden will attract bees and butterflies. I choose marigolds (which also control unwanted insects), cosmos, cosmos diablo and bachelor buttons, simply because I enjoy all the reds, golds, yellows, purples and blues these flowers produce.

 

 

For the potted plants near my back door, which is on the west side of the house where it gets terrifically hot in the afternoon sun, I tried something new this year. I planted morning glories, sweet potato vines (in three varieties), flowering bean vines and flowering shamrocks along with a few mini marigolds. The result is lovely! I am pleasantly surprised at how well these plants stand up to the afternoon sun! This photo was taken at hottest time of the day and the plants are still doing okay. The vines are climbing trellises I made of three rods set into the soil in the pot, joined at the top with a washer. The pots are stacked at three levels around a bench. This display adds a bit of color to an otherwise plain entryway on a concrete garage approach. I change the plants with the seasons, of course. I use mums in the fall, lovely lighted trees my husband, Jim, made of old barn boards in the winter. I get a bit lazy in the spring, so I just use silk flowers to cheer it up out there until the weather warms up enough for potted plants.

 

Near the kitchen I like to keep a rather large pot filled with herbs to use in cooking. There I have oregano, thyme, chives, parsley, sage and basil. All of these herbs do well in pots. There is nothing like fresh herbs in a salad! Add them to salad dressings, soups and stews. As the plants mature I will cut and dry them for use later in the year.

 

 

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I have begun a new project that I will call “Sara’s Sweater”. 

When I first learned to spin wool in 1982, our daughter,Sara, was five years old. My first spinning left a bit to be desired, but I crocheted a hat with the yarn anyway, and I made Sara wear it to school. She never forgave me. (I still have the hat.) 

 

The yarn was royal blue, with a tassel in pink, blue and violet. It was primarily the tassel she hated. Apparently things like that get you teased in school. It was warm, though, and she wore it for two winters. For all I know, she may have only worn it to and from the bus.

 

Today, after 33 years of experience, my spinning is much better. A few weeks ago I asked Sara if she would like to have a handspun sweater from her mother. She immediately said “yes!”  She chose a sweater from the Knitswirl collection. These sweaters are knitted completely in the round. They have a very attractive silhouette that hugs the waist and drapes softly around the hips and shoulders. 

 

I am using a fleece from my favorite ewe, Princess, so named because she wears a tiara of white wool in the center of her head. She is a Romney cross and her fleece is an amazingly soft, silky, silvery gray. 

 

I over-dyed the wool in blues, violets and teals. I then blended it with silk and cashmere dyed in the same shades. The added fibers make the yarn shine with a warm glow and they make the yarn very soft to the touch.

 

I used my electric drum carder to arrange and blend the fibers.

 

I spent several hours over a period of three days carding and blending the fibers until I had the results I desired.

Each ball of roving weighs about two ounces and contains equal portions of wool, silk and cashmere.

 

I began spinning the fibers the last week in May. It is now the middle of July and I am nearly finished. The sweater requires about 1600 yards of yarn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each skein is made up of two single plies of yarn. (3200 yards total to spin.) I have one more skein to spin and then I can begin knitting. It will take me about two month’s worth of evenings to knit it. I will enjoy every minute.

 
 
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About twelve years ago Jim and I hung an old-fashioned porch swing in the branches of a tree in our front yard. We sit there often to read the mail or talk about our day. It has hung there undisturbed all this time.

 

Recently I noticed that the wood was showing age. Mold and mildew was growing in spots. I knew that, if I didn’t take care of it soon, we would have no swing! So I rubbed it vigorously with a piece of dry, fine steel wool. I took me about an hour, but I was able to rub away all of the mold and then the wood was smooth as glass.  

 

I used Milk Paint in barn red mixed with a bit of white and I painted the entire surface of the swing. I learned while doing the job that a sponge brush worked best for me. The paint covered the surface of the wood, but it let the grain show through because I chose to mix the powdered paint thinly. The color is just beautiful! When it was dry, I finished the swing with three coats of a 50/50 mixture of tung oil and citrus solvent. Viola! It looks brand new!

 

 

Until next time, enjoy life!