Category: Tips and Sneaky Tricks

Budget Garden Tricks

Budget Garden Tricks

The news is overwhelming.  I am not surprising any of you with that statement.  Of course, I take solace in my hooking, my fabrics, my knitting.  But I also find hope and inspiration in the newly popping seedlings lined by my windows preparing for garden season.  I don’t usually attempt seedlings, preferring to defer that task to my wonderful neighbors at Morning Dew Farm.  But there were a couple things I wanted for my garden this year that weren’t available, so I took the small task of starting a few thing on for myself.  And immediately ran into problems.  I’ve cataloged for you here a few of my little low to no budget garden tricks to keep this train on the rails.

Paper Bag Seedling Pots
Sunflowers don’t like their roots to be disturbed. To start them inside successfully, they must be in a container that will biodegrade when planted in the ground. I made these pots out of paper bags and they’ll go right into the soil with their seedlings when the weather warms. I just need to remember to remove the tape, which does not breakdown.
After two weeks, my hot pepper starts had failed to break ground despite keeping them near the wood stove. Looking for a quick fix, I put them in a storage bin lined with Christmas lights and topped with a piece of Plexiglas glass. I confess, I always give my husband grief for his hoarding tendencies.  But being to assemble this little contraption from our barn stash has quieted me for the moment. Within Hours, my seedlings started popping.

 

My little bean seedling has a new home in a pot made from scraps of my rug hooking linen.
I have a drawer full of rug hooking linen scraps that I’ve deemed too large to throw out and too small to be particularly useful. Then my pole bean seedlings outgrew their egg carton start. My little bean seedlings now have a new home in pots I made from scraps of my rug hooking linen.  You could use any scrap fabric on hand.

Dye Trying

I swore I’d never dye.  I have so many stashes and work stations and the rest, I just didn’t feel like taking on one more endeavor.  But a dearth of sunny yellows and primitive reds for some of my post popular designs, in addition to a pile of unsuitably colored specimens culled from my cashmere box lots, pushed me over the edge.  The days are barely warm enough to venture outside for more than a bit at a time, so I hunker in the workshop and hobble together tools and supplies.  I barely follow the directions, but am feeling successful with my first efforts nonetheless.

My first attempt at capturing my desired yellow tones for the sunflower pillows was a success!
I kept adding various wools to the dye pot over the course of an hour and ended up with a range of red tones that I am quite happy with.
Harvest Time

Harvest Time

It is that time of year when we are busy preserving our and our local farm’s abundance.  There are pestos and sauces and most especially this year apples.  And apples and apples and apples.  Then there are more apples.  We are making chutneys, and crisps, and pies, and applesauce, and drying them in droves.  Never one to let me down, Dave has risen to the occasion and has engineered an ingenious apple corer.  Click below to see it in action!

 

Core them Apples!

Salvage Decor

Magnet Board made from Vintage Wallpaper Rulers

A few years back my husband found these amazing vintage wallpaper rulers.  Of course, he snapped them up even though we had absolutely no idea what we would do with them.  They languished a bit.  We’d dust them off from time to time.  They’d go back in the corner.  And then I was decorating my new office.  I knew they would look perfect.  And as it turns out they are, in more ways than one.  That nifty little metal cutting edge turns these beautiful salvaged pieces into an utterly fabulous and tremendously useful magnet board.

Go forth.  Salvage and Prosper.

Repurposed Wallpaper Rulers provide a wall of organization.

Knit Faster: Knitting in the Round

Interchangeable needles are a wonderful thing.  Easy to come by, a great financial value, available in as many styles as there are knitters, and they can help you knit faster.

Once you’ve gotten all your casting on and set up rows out of the way, switch that left hand needle to one two or three sizes smaller than the one on the right.  Your right handle needle is your gauge needle.  The left one, you are just knitting the stitches off of.  If the needle is smaller, the stitches slide more easily, and you’ll forego all that bunching.  You’ll be knitting along at a good clip in no time.

Please note:  If you are a left handed knitter, reverse the above directions.  The smaller needle should be on your right side, instead.

Russian Join

One of the most irksome parts of knitting is attaching a new skein of yarn after finishing the first.  This is especially true for me since I do so much knitting in the round.  I rarely have a seam I can hide a tail in.  Then the clouds parted, the gloom lifted, and yarn join nirvana descended from the heavens.  I was in love.

I can only guess that the Russian Join originated if not in Russia, then at least someplace in Eastern Europe (a quick Google search failed to elucidate me).  That could explain why this Polish girl gravitates towards it.  In truth though, everyone should add this simple technique to their repertoire as it offers a near invisible  yarn join for so many different types of yarn.  In the example below, I’ve used two different colors of cotton yarn for visual clarity.  Other than that, the only tools you need are a yarn darning needle and a pair of scissors.

Thread the first yarn through your needle. Cross the tails of the two skeins of yarn you are joining.
Loop the first yarn back over itself, capturing the other yarn. Thread the needle through the center of the yarn for about 3".
Pull the tail of the yarn, tightening the loop snugly down against the other strand.
Repeat the same steps with the other yarn tail.
Trim off any excess tails.
And there you have it.