Secret blogging

Shhh…I’m actually on a conference call right now for work. It doesn’t require 100% of my brain, so I’m slipping in a little blogging while others are talking. (Yes, it is currently after 8 PM local time; I have one of THOSE sorts of jobs that can conveniently be done remotely: anytime, anywhere. Note the emphasis on conveniently…sitting at home on a Thursday night working when I could be out drinking wine with friends is not ideal to me.)

Not only am I sort of underwhelmed here (no criticism, but I’ve been through this agenda many times before), but I wanted to blog about my latest finished object: more socks!

Neatby inspired socks I knitted these from some Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock acquired during the special tour for the Windy City Knitting Guild. The yarn was labeled “Millends” and I didn’t recognize the color from the usual LL lineup, so I don’t think it is widely available. It may just be one of a kind. *smirk*

Aaaannnyyyway…the socks were knit top down using the general “recipe” and garter rib pattern from Charlene Schurch’s Sensational Knitted Socks book. I started these after I took the sock knitting seminar from Lucy Neatby (also through the Windy City Knitting Guild), so I incorporated some of the techniques I learned: the garter stitch heel and the garter stitch toe. I figured with a garter rib pattern in the “body” of the sock, the garter stitch heel and toe would fit in nicely.

According to Lucy, the garter stitch in the heel and toe are more durable. The heel is knit from the other end of the yarn ball, so it is possible to replace the heel later if there is a lot of wear, too. While I haven’t noticed a lot of wear and tear on the heels of my handknit socks, I have noticed it on my store-bought ones. So, we’ll see how this heel wears compared to the typical slip stitch and stockinette heels I’ve worked before.

Here I attempted to upload a link to a photo on my Flickr account showing more detail on the sock, but unfortunately Blogger is sucking ass tonight and not allowing me to publish the photo. (If you offend easily, pardon my language…I’m angry and have been watching a lot of South Park and listening to a lot of Dawn and Drew podcasts. Why? Because I like them! Yes, I am a potty-mouthed smartass at heart.)

One final note about these socks…I began sock #2 on the second segment of my return flight from Hyderabad, India (the Frankfurt to Chicago flight, to be exact) and completed it through the heel turning. I guess I’m impressed with how much knitting I can do when I have 8 hours of uninterrupted knitting time.

I’m going to start a pair of Widdershins socks next. I’m really intrigued by incorporating a heel flap in a toe-up sock. I just have to master the cast on technique first.

If it seems like I (and others) are knitting a lot of socks lately, that’s probably because they are such a fabulous summer project. Not only are they highly portable (making them my favorite commuting project), but working on socks doesn’t involve having heaps of knitted fabric resting in your lap. Even if that fabric is cotton or linen, it can get pretty annoying when the humidity and thermometer are soaring.

But you already knew that, didn’t you?

I bet you didn’t know that I harvested my first homegrown tomatoes yesterday, did you? I don’t eat them (they smell evil to me), but Mark said the one he ate was delicious. I would attempt to photograph one of the beautiful tomatoes and post the photo here for you to admire, but see my previous nasty comment about Blogger and photos.

OKC and OGC*

Originally uploaded by Linda N..

I’ve been traveling and working a lot, but I have also been knitting. Really. Above are the socks I was writing about a couple months ago: my first toe-up socks made with Knit Picks Dancing yarn. As you can see, they turned out well, despite all the frogging. I actually finished these in June, but didn’t get around to photographing them for a while.

By Thursday of this past week, both the weather and my body were in sync for once and I was finally able to do some gardening. (With my jet-lag and the EXTREME heat and humidity we’ve been having, getting anything done in the yard has been a challenge.) I didn’t pause to take photos, but believe me the raspberry patch was a jungle.

Raspberries really aren’t that complicated to grow and they require little attention from the gardener. I have black, red, and yellow raspberries. There is some variation in caring for them, but the general guidelines are the same.

If you want to get all technical, the terms to remember when it comes to raspberries are primocanes and floricanes. Primocanes are the new canes that emerge within a growing season; floricanes are last year’s canes. Black raspberries bear fruit only on the floricanes; red and yellow raspberries bear fruit on the primocanes, but will also fruit on the floricanes if you prune them in season 1, and let them stand over the winter.

Got it? Here’s how it works in reality.

The black raspberries only bear once a year, in the early summer. After the harvest, the canes that fruited get cut to the ground. Shortly after that, it’s time to prune the primocanes that emerged this year. They need to be lopped off so they’re about 3 feet tall. If they’re not pruned down, they snake all over the place and will root themselves if they can. (The black rapsberries also have thorny canes, so it’s highly unpleasant to walk into one of those long, snaky canes if they haven’t been pruned.) Plus, this pruning also makes the plant put out horizontal branches, which are the ones that bear the most fruit. So, by lopping them off, the gardener is forcing the plant to produce many fruiting branches. Although the “official” guidlines don’t mention this, I usually end up doing a pruning of these horizontal branches in the spring, too. By then the horizontal canes have become really long and need a bit of controlling.

The yellow and the red raspberries send up new canes in the spring/summer that bear fruit in the late summer. After they bear, I prune off the top of the cane where they’ve fruited, and leave these canes to overwinter. In the early summer, those canes bear fruit again, and then I prune these floricanes to the ground. In the meantime, a bunch of new primocanes have sprung up and by this time of year are already flowering and setting fruit. So, I get two batches of fruit from them: one in the early summer and one in the late summer.

I was WAY behind in pruning out the canes that had fruited earlier this summer, so it was a crazy mess of new and old canes in the ‘ol raspberry patch. This was bad not just ’cause it’s poor gardening practice, but also because the compost bins are across the path from the raspberry patch and we had to sort of wiggle our way into this jungle to dump our compost.

Thursday night was pretty productive for me at home. After getting all sweaty and sticky from tackling the raspberries, I cooled down by bathing the dogs outside with the hose. I thought the cool water was refreshing, but I guess they didn’t.

Yesterday it was cool enough outside to finish up more overdue gardening chores. I weeded the veggie patch, picked beans, and dug up the garlic. Nobody had picked anything in the garden for nearly 2 weeks, so most of the beans were added to the compost bin. (My neighbor was going to tend the garden for me while I was gone, but she ended up being really ill and unable to do so; Mark just wasn’t sure what to do.) I’m disappointed in this year’s garlic harvest, too. The bulbs are all pretty small. Actually, I had dug a few up before I left, but thought that if I left them in the ground a bit longer perhaps the bulbs would get bigger. No chance. Instead, the plants withered even more and the garlic was starting to sort of rot in the ground. Yuck!

Today I’m just going to kick back and enjoy my home, I think. It’s good to be back.

* For those who may not know, OKC = obligatory knitting content; OGC = obligatory gardening content.