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Attached I-Cord Bind Off

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I am here to tell you that the precise amount of time it takes to pick up stitches along the rather expansive neckline of a Mithril sweater and then do an attached I-Cord edging is the same as the amount of time it takes to watch Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix.  It was a complete match and a happy coincidence, because I did it all in one go.  Unfortunately, because I ended this adventure at 2 am, I'm a little bit brain dead.  I'll do a post later these week and leave behind breadcrumbs for anyone who wants some thoughts about using this technique.  I'm very pleased with it and found it to be surprisingly easy to do, including the join at the end.

I'll leave you with a photo of my happy hunters, Wingus and Dingus, enjoying a surprisingly pleasant (i.e. not blastingly humid) Saturday and some incredibly vibrant colors going on in my garden this morning.

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Farmer'smarket

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Inspiration & Knitting

After an unexpected few days of early summer rain, our garden is beautiful. We have a small urban lot, full of shade from trees in the back, so our garden is a small strip of border in the front yard that I cut in by hand when we bought our house, almost 18 years ago.  Yearly work on the clay soil has made it rich enough to support my plants.  When we bought the house, there were some scraggy bushes and a very sad tree growing.  Now, it brings me inspiration for knitting and dyeing, and a lot of smiles when I discover its secrets.  I thought I would share some of it, beautified by the rain, this morning.

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Zuke

This surprise growth zucchini vine is causing me a lot of amusement and also, providing dinner for tonight.

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Sweet woodruff, with it's tender whorls, is my favorite ground cover.  I've been nursing some tiny cuttings I planted under our cherry tree, in hopes I'll end up with a big swath of it. 

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And because this is apparently the year of the ant in Alabama, I have Tansy, two large stands of it, growing on the path that leads to our front door.  Not sure it deters the ants, but it's certainly pretty.

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Every garden needs a lion-guardian.  Harry is mine.  And because Maine Coon Cats are curious critters, he's always very engaged in my knitting.

The rest of the week I'll be knitting on Drachenfels, my forever project (on the left).  I'd like to finish it in the next few weeks, but since it's all garter stitch and I'm in the long stockinette portion of my Mithril sweater, I may have to cast on something a little bit more fancy — some brioche or some lace — for those times when you need to be all wrapped up in the knitting.  I've just wound the yarn for Mithril's sleeves (on the right), but I'm enjoying the silk & linen yarn so much, that I think it will give Sleeve Island a good name for a change.

Dragmith

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Progress On My Habitat

There is progress being made.  Not progress on a sweater (although there is that), but progress on my tree house knitting room.  The rest of the family only thinks it's a sun porch that everyone can enjoy.  It's actually going to be my knitting nook, complete with a comfy chair and really good lighting.
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I live with one (adorable) husband, four children, two dogs, and five cats.  I like the fun and frenzy of family, but the clutter, not so much.  And as every knitter knows, some (or perhaps most) of the clutter is mine: leftover balls of yarn, a project bag that needs sorting out, swatches, and other remnants of a knitter's life.  But, I have a plan.

When my (adorable) husband announced last year that our back deck was beyond its useful life and I had to do something about it, I dutifully went to work.  Well, not me personally, but we live in one of those neighborhoods where people are very helpful, and before you know it, I was connected with just the right people.  Our backyard has been in the sort of carnage you see in the top left photo for the last few months, but under the watchful eye of Harry the Maine Coon Cat, the plan is coming together.  I'll be able to cook outside, which should give me lots of extra knitting time due to the ease of grilling and the proximity of knitting in the fabulous empty room with no clutter at the moment, just a few steps away from the grill.  I guess it's because it's still being built, but it looks so calm and peaceful and I love the view of the trees.  Hopefully in the next few months, I'll get to show you pictures of  knitting in my clutter free zone treehouse room. I can't really imagine a quiet, private space after 25 1/2 years of raising children, but every time I look at this space, it feels like my own private retreat!

And it couldn't come at a better time!  I'm on sleeve island with the Glacier sweater that I've been knitting for Millennia since last fall.  Just at the start of sleeve island, the second time around on this project, so I could use some peace and quiet to get through all those cables with increases and decreases.  I may just pull a folding chair out there and knit away!

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Starting to Look Like A Sweater

Here is Vodka Lemonade, starting to look like a real sweater.

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Apparently, all of the math-fu I did to get the gauge and the fit right is working, because so far, it seems to be spot on.  I'm very excited!

It's slow going.  There never seems to be enough time!  I knit a few rows at night, but I've been burning the candle at both ends, so you're going to be seeing this one in progress for a long time, I'm afraid.  I'll probably cast on a couple of projects so I have enough to carry around on several trips later this month and in July.  Like always, I'm doomed to be an attention-deficit knitter, working on several projects at once, instead of finishing the one on the needles.  

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If I had any spare time at the moment, I would lavish it on dyeing yarn in colors inspired by my garden. It's gorgeous out there, and I'm drinking it all in, because we've got to redo our back deck later this summer, which is going to cause lots of dislocation, if not outright carnage.  I've taken a few pictures to remind me of the colors when I do find some time to dye.  In addition to the lovely flowers above, I'm amazed by this Borage.

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And by the bee drinking up nectar from my Asclepias.

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Have you ever seen anything prettier?  Nature is putting on an amazing show for us this year.

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Spring At Last

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Today's post is brought to you for the early spring garden. You might want to skip this if you're on a slow connection, because it's going to be photo-intensive.

Spring starts in March in Alabama.  We've already been through cherry tree blossoms, pansies, Dogwood trees and the onset of allergy season.  Now we're into the serious season of lavender and roses.

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Then there are lilacs.  Technically, lilacs should not grow in Alabama, but I adore them and I nurse two of them along by the front steps.  They've been there for 13 years now, through drought and snow.

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They smell heavenly.  In the morning, you can smell orange blossoms and lilacs.  It's incredible.

The bay tree started as a 7" seedling 12 years ago.  It too should not grow in our climate, but it has prospered.  And, I have not bought bay leaves for cooking for the last decade.  Having them growing in the front yard is amazing, and every time the tree needs pruning, all of my friends have enough leaves to last them for the year.

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Our tall garden iris is almost done blooming, but the Siberian Iris is just getting ready to start.  I love how it goes from being a tall grass, to swords with dark tips, to slowly unfurling deep purple iris.

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This year we have some garden projects — first off the addition of a retaining wall down our driveway, which will give me the chance to add some bee and butterfly plants, lantana, asclepias, ajuga, and perhaps a few more roses.

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It's not very pretty yet, but I have high hopes.  Similarly, the backyard, currently the preserve of children and bad dogs, is going to get a bit of an updo this year.  Although the swings and trampoline are permanent, and not particularly attractive, features.  I'm going to replant the beds (often used by dogs for rolling in the mud, but I'm hoping they're more mature and will restrain themselves), bank some azaleas down one side, and see if some drip irrigation will help.

Yes, gardening does cut into knitting time (why is why you're seeing flowers, not knitting, today).  But the results are so well worth it.  I'm looking forward to knitting outdoors later on this summer, hopefully under a cool leafy bower, while the kids ride their bikes and play.

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The End of Summer

I always gauge the end of summer by my wedding anniversary.  We were married outside in early October on a bright, sunny day.  By the time we came home from our honeymoon a couple of weeks later, it was C.O.L.D!

This seems to hold up every year.  Our warm sunny Alabama weather is just about through.

Summertomatoes

We still have tomatoes.  Two huge trails of vines through the flower beds in our front yard.  The children and I go out every day and eat them fresh, like little pieces of glinting red candy.  There are still hundreds of them out there — I'm not sure what I'll do with all the green ones when the sun stops being hot enough to turn a handful of them ruby red for us to eat every day.

Summerbee

There are still bees on the flowers on our front porch — huge bumbles.  We love them.

Summeroranges

This is the end of our summer oranges.  I bought the Judge a "sweet" orange tree to go with our Meyer Lemon tree and they are the bitterest things you have ever tasted.  We like to pop them whole — they are Tootsie Pop sized — into our mouths and grimace in disgust.  But they do sort of grow on you.

It's goodbye to summer.  Sweaters are coming out which is always good — fall is the season of knitting and the adoration of all that is knitted in our household (at least by certain persons in it).  Ollie has already plucked a hat out of storage and realized that he felted one of his favorite fingerless mitts when he left it in the pocket of his jeans.  Ellie has developed frighteningly good judgment about her favorite fibers (cashmere, alpaca, and silk).  So we have something wonderful to look ahead to while we say goodbye to summer.