Thursday, May 24, 2012

Crocheted purse in progress - bottom section complete.

I found a pattern that was very close to the kind of purse I want to make, except larger than I wanted. The pattern calls for two strands of yarn used together and a larger hook. My crochet guru told me that I could use one strand and a smaller hook and get a proportionately smaller bag, so that's what I set out to do.

I'm using inexpensive cotton worsted weight yarn on a cone, in bright white. And a size H hook. I started with a G hook, but that made a denser fabric. I wanted a more open and mesh-y texture, so I went up a hook size to get the look I wanted. I'll be lining the bag in white twill, so all the little holes won't be a problem. The bag includes a button flap, so I found this white ceramic button at the craft store that I thought would be perfect for it.

I completed the oval bottom, and am just starting to build up the sides of the bag, It's worked in the round, although not in a continuous spiral, you chain and start each new row. The pink marker notes the last round of the base, so I won't lose track of how many rounds to go up before it's time to stop. Although, with this bag I think you could make it as tall or short as you wanted.

By the way, here's the pattern link:  Crocheted Circles & Stripes Tote Bag Pattern

It took a few tries to get the hang of crocheting in an oval, but once I figured out the spacing of the increases and paid close attention to my stitch markers, I was able to complete the bottom section. The sides will be mindless crocheting, just row after row after row of double crochet rounds to make a tube.

After the sides, there will be the flap, strap, and a pocket for the outer back part of the purse. Although I might make the pocket a square instead of a circle as the pattern shows, or even not put the pocket there at all. It all depends on how long it takes me to get the body of the purse and the flap completed. But I like external little pockets on my purses to hold my phone and keys, so it'll probably be worth my while to include it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Garden veggie haul, 5-23-12

Picked today, clockwise starting at top left:  Assorted herbs (thyme, oregano, and rosemary), patio tomatoes as well as two yellow pear tomatoes underneath. To the right of that is one green bell pepper, and several golden "yummy" peppers beneath one Ichiban eggplant. Coming back around from right to left, are some Roma II bush beans, followed up by some basic bush green beans (I think maybe they're Blue Lake?) And then running in a circle around the beans are a bunch of Husky Cherry Red tomatoes.

A truly awesome little haul!

Some of the herbs, most of the tomatoes, and the big bell pepper are going into a batch of homemade spaghetti sauce, along with a couple beautiful big tomatoes I bought at the farmer's market. The rest of the cherry tomatoes are going into a batch of tabouli, and the Yummy peppers will go into a cucumber salad with some cucumbers from the market as well. The Roma beans I'll probably just blanch and lightly sautee' with a bit of butter and salt and pepper, and the thinner green beans are just enough to maybe make one jar of pickled dilled beans. The eggplant will get cut up and sauteed with some mushrooms to go along with the spaghetti sauce.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Crocheting: Learning a new skill, and picking a new project.

I haven't done any crocheting or knitting in quite some time. Instead, I've been doing a lot in the garden, as well as working on random projects around the house. Also, it just didn't feel quite right to work with yarn when it's so hot and humid outside. I know that's a silly reason, but it is what it is. I was at the library Thursday, which is also where they hold the weekly crochet (and knit) group, and one of the women who participates is a librarian and asked where I'd been. I realized that I've missed the needleworking group a lot. The social part of it is as important as learning new skills and working on projects. Since I don't have any really big projects planned, I thought about what I could work on that I could use now, instead of having to pack away until Winter.

I'm really not into little decorative projects all that much, and don't really have much interest in making small useful projects like dishcloths either. I did however, think that it'd be a fun project to make a white cotton crocheted purse for Summer. And decided this at around ten o'clock last night. Fortunately, there's a Walmart with a craft section about five minutes from my house! I got a big cone of white cotton yarn for the purse, and then also bought a small ball of cotton yarn in a really pretty shade of red because I just really liked the color and figured it'd be something pleasant to look at when I do practice work.

I spent some time looking online at purse patterns, and narrowed it down to a few, but that red yarn kept calling to me, and I thought "FLOWER!"  It'd make a really pretty flower! I've never crocheted a flower before, but figured it couldn't be that hard, since I've finally made it into the "intermediate" category as far as crochet skills. So, I got out a hook, and got online, and went to Youtube to find a tutorial.

I used this tutorial, as I've used some of her other tutorials before and the instructions and video are very clear and easy to follow. Youtube: Crochet Geek- Crochet Flower - How To Add Rounds  This one was no different. I only had to rip out stitches twice (which is pretty good for something new to me) and when it was over, ended up with a pretty yarn flower. I decided to only make two layers of petals, since it was getting pretty big and also since it was getting really late and I wanted to get at least a few hours worth of sleep before this morning.

I pulled part of my hair back, and made a ponytail with it, and secured the yarn flower to the hair elastic with a bobby pin, through one of the back loops. It looks pretty cute that way. I'm going to look for a little clip to stitch it to, so that it's more secure than just a bobby pin.  And make more of them in different colors!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Garden Update: Roma II Bush Beans

I got my first picking of Roma II Bush Beans this morning. There are about as many left on the plants to finish growing, and still some flowers to set. I'll get two decent pickings and then probably one or two a little smaller. That's the thing about bush beans as opposed to vine beans. They produce all in one short-lived burst and then taper off production really quickly. Vine beans tend to produce all season.  But since I have such limited space, bush beans tend to work better for me. Come Fall, I will plant several more bean plants, and break it up into two plantings, two weeks apart, so I have a more steady supply. Possibly buy some very long bamboo stakes to make tall teepees, and try some vining beans too.

I'm going to use the ones I picked today in a really simple side dish for two. Just the beans, stewed until tender, with cherry tomatoes, garlic, some fresh herbs, a pinch of red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. I'd like them any way to be honest, green beans of all sorts (along with yellow and purple beans too) are one of my all-time favorite vegetables.

I've never grown this kind of bean before, and never even had a chance to eat them fresh, only frozen. You just don't see them fresh in the supermarkets, not even Whole Foods or Central Market. They may show up from time to time at farmer's markets, but I haven't seen them. Which is strange because they are very easy to grow. I guess they don't ship and store well? You hardly ever see organic green beans in general either. Maybe every once in a while I will see packages of them in one of the larger supermarkets or the local organic market, but they're rare to find. More incentive to grow my own.

I had planted them in 5 gallon buckets, thinned to two plants per bucket, but not all survived because the neighbor's free-range cats dug some up. They put out a lot of runners, more than bush beans usually do, so I made short bamboo stake teepees to help support them and that worked out really well. They're in an area that doesn't get full sun, but does get a fair amount, and they seem to be doing as good as I can hope for them in that area. Full sun is a hot commodity in my garden, so things that will tolerate a little shade and still produce enough to be worth their while, get planted at the edge of sun and shade. Eggplants and cucumbers tend to do okay there too. Not as productive as full shade, but enough for our use. I save the few sunny spots for tomatoes, peppers, melons, citrus, blueberries, and sun-loving herbs.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Garden update: 5/9/2012 - With photos!

Things that are growing in my garden, photos taken yesterday evening as the sun was going down. Pardon the photo quality, my phone camera isn't all that great.

Above is a flat of "Fino Verde" basil seedlings. A compact bushy plant with a more spicy flavor than sweet basil. They'll be ready for transplanting around the end of the month I think.

Above are some "Roma 2" Italian style broad green beans. They're coming along nicely. I have 7 or 8 of these plants, and they're supposed to be heavy producers, so I'm looking forward to a nice harvest. Come Fall, I intend to plant 12 of the plants since they're doing so well.

Above is the first cucumber of the season, I believe this one is a Japanese heirloom. It might be a Marketmore though., I can't remember which I planted where. LOL! I hand fertilized it just to be sure. I haven't seen many bees around, and it's easy enough to give Nature a helping hand.

Above are a LOT of maturing jalapeno peppers. Hot peppers always do really well for me, I guess they like the hot and humid climate. Home-grown is always hotter than ones I find at the store too.

Above are lots of Meyer lemons maturing on the older of the two trees. The younger tree isn't producing this year, but I read that they sometimes do that, alternate bearing years, especially when immature.

Above is the first bell pepper of the season, this one gets picked when it turns red. Bell peppers don't produce as well for me as hot peppers, but the ones that do make it to harvest are very tasty.

Above is a cluster of yellow pear tomatoes. When ripe, they'll be bright yellow and about an inch and about an inch and a half long.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Gardening update, early May 2012.

Above are some things I picked from my garden yesterday. Ichiban eggplant, Black Beauty eggplant, Ghost eggplant, Husky Cherry Red tomatoes, Tifblue blueberries, and sweet basil. I also had picked a larger Patio variety tomato on Saturday, which got used right away.

Aside from what I've been picking, there are loads of peppers forming on the plants. Mostly jalapenos and Yummy sweet mini peppers. But also one good sized bell pepper so far, and a couple of tiny poblanos. The other bell pepper plants have plenty of blooms and maybe a few have set already, I haven't checked very carefully. And I have a bunch of tiny little Italian style wide green beans, about an inch or two long. I've got loads of cherry tomatoes setting, and even though the other tomato plants did poorly, there are about a dozen fruit set amongst them so far, and they are still growing and blooming, so maybe I will get a fair harvest from them yet. Nothing like last year though. The cucumber vines are growing well, and some have even started to flower, but so far only male flowers, which is to be expected, the males always bloom first, then you start to see females. The melon vines are growing like crazy too. I am very, very excited about them and am really hoping to see some fruit come July. Herbs are doing well, except for the Cilantro, which is already starting to bolt from the heat. But I have plenty of seeds and can keep planting more. Citrus trees are doing well too. Lots of baby lemons, as well as a few oranges and satsumas. I also planted a ton of assorted color impatiens in the back yard for color and they are doing really well. As are the few begonias I planted at the same time.

So, so far, so good, we'll just have to see how things go when it really starts to get hot over the next month.