Amaryllis Blooms

My Hippeastrum has bloomed! The photo colours are about accurate--the red has a hint of orange to it.

Foodie Fights: Weed Pizza

I know this will be a big disappointment to many, but there's nothing illegal or mind-altering in my yummilicious dish. I mean, except for the insane rush of endorphins released upon biting into this delicious creation, that is.

Spinning Cotton

I grew three Sea Island x brown NOID cotton plants, harvested them, and spun the bolls into yarn.

18 April 2014

Orchids In Bloom

The Dinner Party Harlequin Phalaenopsis I received from the beau's coworker a few years ago is in bloom again!

Dinner Party Harlequin

The Phalaenopsis (Brother Red Hotshot 'Red Cup' x Brother Precious Stones 'Heart') I got from Al's Greenhouse last spring is blooming again, too.

Phalaenopsis (Brother Red Hotshot 'Red Cup' x Brother Precious Stones 'Heart')

17 April 2014

Manly Lace Mitts

In March, I partook of a spinalong. We all received the same fiber--two 100-gram braids of Haunui Halfbred (one dyed, one natural grey) and about 50 grams of dyed mohair locks. I decided to take some of the undyed fiber and dye it a deep red, because I wanted to make a crepe yarn with some colour contrast.

Here is the yarn:
Lake Sumner crepe yarn
March spinalong closeup

I've always wanted to find a manly lace pattern to knit, as well--but they don't really exist. There are a few scarves, perhaps, but few other articles of clothing can be described as both "lace" and "manly."

So I wrote my own pattern and knit some mitts.
Manly Lace Mitts
Manly Lace Mitts

For those who are interested in knitting a set for yourselves, here's the pattern:

Size 10 US needles

Worsted- or aran-weight yarn (the handspun yarn I used to develop this pattern had 8 wpi). I end up with 2.5 stitches per inch (10.25 inches with the full 26 stitches).
  • If using worsted- or aran-weight yarn and your swatch matches the measurement I made (10 stitches and 22 rows in pattern = about 4 inches square—well, rhombus; the fabric will lean to the right or left, depending on whether you use k2tog or SSK in your swatch) but you want to adjust the width for a smaller or larger forearm, reduce or increase CO stitches by increments of two. If you reduce or increase the number of stitches by 4, reduce or increase the number of pattern repeats before the thumb gusset pattern to 5 or 7; if you reduce or increase by 8 (for children or grizzly bears perhaps), reduce or increase the number of pattern repeats before the thumb gusset pattern to 4 or 8. For smaller thumbs, knit only the first three thumb gusset pattern increase. For larger thumbs (likely unnecessary, as this is a stretchy knit), knit an additional thumb gusset increase.
  • If you go with a heavier yarn, reduce the number of stitches by increments of two, consider increasing needle size, consider doing only the first three increases in the thumb gusset (rows 1 through 12), and adjust the number of repeats you knit in row 17 so that you’re ending at the end of the thumb gusset to knit the thumb.
  • If you go with a lighter yarn, increase the number of stitches by increments of two, consider additional pattern repeats for the thumb gusset (for every additional repeat in the thumb gusset, add an additional SSK, yo between the two k1, yo), and adjust the number of repeats you knit in row 17 so that you’re ending at the end of the thumb gusset to knit the thumb.

Before knitting, whether following the pattern or modifying it, please swatch first!

Purl all even rows unless otherwise noted. Some even rows are noted at the ends of sections because they’re important not to forget.

For right mitt:

CO 26 stitches using a stretchy cast-on, such as long-tail cast-on.

1st row: K all
3rd row: k1, *yo, k2tog* repeat between * until 1 stitch remains, k1
4th row: P all

Repeat 3rd and 4th row in pattern until you want to start the thumb gusset. 10 repeats should give you about 4 inches of fabric, which will be the part of the mitt on the wrist and below. If you want it longer or shorter, knit more or fewer repeats.

Thumb gusset for right mitt:

1st row: k1, *SSK, yo* repeat between * 6 times, k1, yo, k1, yo, *SSK, yo* until 1 stitch remains, k1 (increase of 2)
3rd row: k1, *SSK, yo* until 1 stitch remains, k1
5th row: k1, *SSK, yo* repeat between * 6 times, k1, yo, SSK, yo, k1, yo, *SSK, yo* until 1 stitch remains, k1 (increase of 2)
7th row: k1, *SSK, yo* until 1 stitch remains, k1
9th row: k1, *SSK, yo* repeat between * 6 times, k1, yo, SSK, yo, SSK, yo, k1, yo, *SSK, yo* until 1 stitch remains, k1 (increase of 2)
11th row: k1, *SSK, yo* until 1 stitch remains, k1
13th row: k1, *SSK, yo* repeat between * 6 times, k1, yo, SSK, yo, SSK, yo, SSK, yo, k1, yo, *SSK, yo* until 1 stitch remains, k1 (increase of 2)

At this point, you’ve increased 8 stitches and should have 34 on your needles.

Thumb for right mitt:

15th row: k1, *SSK, yo* until 1 stitch remains, k1
17th row: k1, *SSK, yo* repeat between * 11 times, turn, and cast on 1 stitch
18th row: p9, turn and cast on 1 stitch (10 stitches)

19th row: k1, *SSK, yo* until 1 stitch remains, k1
21st row: k1, *SSK, yo* until 1 stitch remains, k1
23rd row: k1, *SSK, yo* until 1 stitch remains, k1
24th row: P all

Bind off using a stretchy bindoff. I like to purl, yarn over, purl, slip two stiches over, yarn over, purl, slip two stitches over, etc. Seam thumb to base.

With right side facing forward, rejoin wool. Pick up 1 stitch from base of thumb, *SSK, yo* until 1 stitch remains, k1. 26 stitches remain.

Continue in k1, *SSK, yo* until 1 stitch remains, k1 pattern until mitt is length desired, then P ws and stretchy bindoff, then seam the side using the two edge stockinette stitches. Weave in ends.



For left mitt:

CO 26 stitches using a stretchy cast-on, such as long-tail cast-on.

1st row: K all
3rd row: k1, *SSK, yo* repeat between * until 1 stitch remains, k1
4th row: P all

Repeat 3rd and 4th row in pattern until you want to start the thumb gusset. 10 repeats should give you about 4 inches of fabric, which will be the part of the mitt on the wrist and below. If you want it longer or shorter, knit more or fewer repeats.

Thumb gusset for left mitt:

1st row: k1, *yo, k2tog* repeat between * 6 times, yo, k1, yo, k1, * yo, k2tog * until 1 stitch remains, k1 (increase of 2)
3rd row: k1, * yo, k2tog * until 1 stitch remains, k1
5th row: k1, * yo, k2tog * repeat between * 6 times, yo, k1, yo, k2tog, yo, k1, * yo, k2tog * until 1 stitch remains, k1 (increase of 2)
7th row: k1, * yo, k2tog * until 1 stitch remains, k1
9th row: k1, * yo, k2tog * repeat between * 6 times, yo, k1, yo, k2tog, yo, k2tog, yo, k1, * yo, k2tog * until 1 stitch remains, k1 (increase of 2)
11th row: k1, * yo, k2tog * until 1 stitch remains, k1
13th row: k1, * yo, k2tog* repeat between * 6 times, yo, k1, yo, k2tog, yo, k2tog, yo, k2tog, yo, k1, * yo, k2tog * until 1 stitch remains, k1 (increase of 2)

At this point, you’ve increased 8 stitches and should have 34 on your needles.

Thumb for left mitt:

15th row: k1, *yo, k2tog* until 1 stitch remains, k1
17th row: k1, *yo, k2tog* repeat between * 11 times, turn, and cast on 1 stitch
18th row: p9, turn and cast on 1 stitch (10 stitches)

19th row: k1, *yo, k2tog* until 1 stitch remains, k1
21st row: k1, *yo, k2tog* until 1 stitch remains, k1
23rd row: k1, *yo, k2tog* until 1 stitch remains, k1
24th row: P all

Bind off using a stretchy bindoff. I like to purl, yarn over, purl, slip two stiches over, yarn over, purl, slip two stitches over, etc. Seam thumb to base.

With right side facing forward, rejoin wool. Pick up 1 stitch from base of thumb, *yo, k2tog* until 1 stitch remains, k1. 26 stitches remain.

Continue in k1, *yo, k2tog* until 1 stitch remains, k1 pattern until mitt is length desired, then P ws and stretchy bindoff, then seam the side using the two edge stockinette stitches. Weave in ends.

06 April 2014

Announcing: The Homestead Hobbyist

I've been blogging on The Indoor Garden(er) for five years, since I decided to buy seeds and start them on my windowsill in January 2009. But, of the 542 posts on the blog, only 11 were posted in 2013 and 2014. It's not that the plants have stopped doing interesting things that I'd love to share--it's that my interests have expanded well beyond gardening.

Since I started The Indoor Garden(er), I've learned more than I would have imagined about gardening through trial and error and following others' adventures. But it took me a while (too long, some people would say) to determine that growing tomatoes indoors was a little unreasonable given my space and budget. In hindsight, it should have been a no-brainer, but it was exciting and made me happy to come home and see those big, green, 9-foot-tall tomatoes in my studio apartment living room/bedroom/dining room. Since my first gardening attempts, I've side-stepped sequentially into baking, canning, pickling, cheesemaking, winemaking, spinning, and knitting--all wonderful homesteady skills to have. And although I still have quite a number of plants, some of which are doing quite interesting things, I've strayed pretty far from my original interests on this blog.

So I'm rebranding the blog to be more inclusive of my interests--you are now reading The Homestead Hobbyist. Because I live in a city, in a basement apartment in a house with a postage-stamp yard, homesteading can only be a hobby for me rather than a full-blown lifestyle (for now). Sure, I could go a little bonkers like I did with those tomatoes, but through all my semiridiculous experiments, I learned the importance of being reasonable--or, at least, less unreasonable.

One example of less unreasonability ("less" is relative, of course, so it may still be considered quite unreasonable by some): I recently opened a shop on Etsy, also called The Homestead Hobbyist. I opened the shop knowing I'd eventually get around to renaming the blog, as well. Now that I decided that I've hit the soft launch stage of my shop and should go public with my wares, I decided it's time to change things up here too!

My long-term goal with the shop is to offer a small variety of items related to homesteading (either homestead-enabling supplies or homestead-made items). At the moment, the shop contains only hand-dyed fiber for spinning; it has one skein of yarn I spun from fiber I dyed, but it will have more in the future, because I need to check quality of my dyed fiber and get ideas about different ways to spin the colour combinations I'm dyeing. I've been enjoying dyeing, and I have gotten much, much better in the few weeks that I've been more intentional about it all. In a few weeks, I'm taking a two-day dyeing class as part of the Maryland Sheep & Wool festival to get even more exposure to dyeing techniques and theory. I'm also applying to be a vendor at the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival at the end of September--it'll give me plenty of time to get a business license and develop creative (ads, banners, business cards, etc.), and it'll give me a production goal to work toward. Plus, I love working festivals--and I'll get such a thrill being there selling my own products and meeting all the fiber artists who come by! I'm really pretty darn excited about this--and unlike a lot of my other endeavours, the excitement over selling my hand-dyed roving and other supplies hasn't waned, it has only grown stronger the deeper I delve into it.

Here are a few sample braids available in the shop. You can click on them to go to the shop listing, or check the sidebar on the right for recent listings and a link to the shop.

Helianthus

Blue

Midnight Garnet

I imagine there are some gardeners out there who are also fiber artists; I certainly know a good crew of them. I was introduced to spinning by a plant friend I met through the local chapter of the Gesneriad Society. She discovered that I was growing cotton and decided to teach me what to do with it. I found spinning to be a relaxing yet productive activity, and I quickly became enamored with all fibers and all forms of spinning. So for those of you who have read about my gardening adventures over the years who are also fiber artists and may want to know more about my fiber-dyeing plans (or those of you who may not be fiber artists but are also interested), my goal is to focus on dyeing saturated colours in semisolids, gradients, and the occasional variegated multicolour braid. I have a variety of fiber bases I’ll be playing with--Falkland, Romney, Rambouillet, Merino, BFL, Tussah, SW Merino/Nylon, Polwarth/Silk, and the like. In the future, I plan to expand to more luscious blends--especially those that include my favourite fiber, yak. I have plans for custom blends with yak, as well--but that will be quite down the road, as yak and custom blends are expensive by themselves; together, they're only reasonably priced in unreasonably large quantities.

A few housekeeping details for those who might be wondering:

The URL here is still www.indoorgarden-er.com. I did register www.homesteadhobbyist.com, but I couldn't figure out how to redirect everything without breaking all the old URLs--so I'm staying as www.indoorgarden-er.com, although www.homesteadhobbyist.com redirects here. If I ever expand my business beyond hand-dyed fiber, I may build a more robust site to house both a blog and a shop on www.homesteadhobbyist.com--but that's well beyond the rough one-year plan I have.

I also changed my Twitter handle to @Komhuus. Komhuus is a name I use on many online platforms--Flickr, Ravelry, Etsy, and now Twitter (I actually had already used in on Twitter, as a brief-lived science journalist identity back when I was a science writer--I haven't tweeted from that account in two years, so I changed its handle and deactivated it, then reappropriated the name for my main account). If you must know, Komhuus was what I named a character I played for a few years in Dungeons & Dragons. He was one of my favourite characters ever--when he died (at a high level, in a random encounter, no less), I just couldn't enjoy my new characters as much as I enjoyed him.

18 March 2014

Stopping By Al's Greenhouse

I picked up a friend from the airport this weekend, and we took the opportunity to stop by Al's Orchid Greenhouse, just a few minutes from the airport. We potted up and/or transplanted a bunch of gesneriads growing in the greenhouse, then I wandered around shooting a few photos. A lot of beautiful orchids are in bloom right now, although it seems I didn't photograph many of them.

Oncidium Wildcat 'Golden Red Star'

Oncidium Wildcat 'Golden Red Star'

These two photos were taken special for Mr. Subjunctive--a NOID Anthurium growing on the floor of the greenhouse. The new leaves seem to be a shiny bronze green.

Anthurium

Anthurium

Ficus bonsai

Ficus bonsai planting

Adenium grown from seed (about 2 years old)

Adenium

Sinningia leucotricha

Sinningia leucotricha

Sinningia leucotricha

Sinningia leucotricha

Ascocentrum pusillum

Ascocentrum pusillum

Ascocentrum pusillum

Unifoliate Streptocarpus growing epiphytically on a cinderblock. The leaf is about 2 feet long, and the abscission zone is really obvious.

Unifoliate Streptocarpus

11 March 2014

More Amaryllis Blooms

There is certainly more going on in The Indoor Garden(er) world, but these Hippeastrum blooms are certainly the most striking (and uplifting) of the bunch.

This bloom is from the second plant. It is a pretty saturated red with just a hint of orange, just like the first one.

Amaryllis 2 blooming

A close up of the pollen, just for fun.

Amaryllis 2 blooming

Although the face of the flower looks pretty damn red, the back has white streaks like its sibling over at Plants Are The Strangest People, perhaps harkening back to the possible pollen donor being the pink/white amaryllis I had blooming at the same time as the seed parent, "Red Lion."

Amaryllis #2 Back Side

I am, of course, crossing like mad. One of my friends has offered H. papilio pollen--if he doesn't get it to me in time for these blooms, I have a second spike coming up from the second plant, so I can use it on those flowers! Or, I can wait a few years until my own H. papilio blooms, although I'm not sure I have that much patience!

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