Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sketchy details

A very quick post tonight as it's already past my bedtime.

Paper piecing isn't working out so well right now. It's one of those weeks where nothing is going right and I'm better off to walk away from the sewing machine and do something else. I keep ending up short of the seam allowance - because I'm trying to guess at the sizes I need and use up a pile of scraps instead of cutting each piece the proper size (and admitting that just about all of my scraps are too small for the pattern I want to make.)

Anyway, I'm sketching out a design I want to make to celebrate the end of our mortgage in May. Hooray! Third house I've had, first mortgage we've paid off. I thought that deserved a little wall hanging. I'm still working on the sketch, but I'd better start working on it soon if I want to have it done on time.

Brown is the colour of Spring in this part of British Columbia. The snow disappears and everything is covered with last year's dust or mud. It'll take a few rainfalls before the hills turn green. That will last for about a month and then the sun and heat will turn everything brown again. That's the way we love it.

The Bobsey Twins were watching the action in the backyard apple tree through the kitchen window earlier this week.They're indoor cats, but come Summer I'll put harnesses on them and attach them to the leads in the backyard so they can enjoy some fresh air while I work in the yard.

Until next time,

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Blogging by the Moon

What a week! I feel like I've been stitching up a storm. I think 2011 is going to be a year of finishes for me. That's just fine and dandy. I've been working on a present that I started in May 2009. Finished it last week and decided to make a couple of little mug rugs to send with it - had some leftover stars from the main piece and lots of leftover fabric. I'm just finishing the binding now.
And I have to say, the stitching went well, the freemotion went well - no picking stitches out and restitching this time. I only made one little mistake while putting the binding on. I'm learning! And then, of course, as I sew the binding down it looks like some of the worst slip stitching I've ever done. Ah, perfection <-- not me.

So, while I'm sewing, this is what I'm thinking of.
My parents were gardeners. My mom was born on the prairies to farmers, who left their Saskatchewan farm during the Depression and moved to rural Ontario. Mom had her flowerbeds and dad (city boy!) had his vegetable garden. They encouraged me while I was very young to grow things - anything. I've gardened all the years since, but in a very neglectful way. My herb gardens resemble more of a weed patch and some years they're so overgrown and I'm so busy at work that I have no harvest at all.
I would love to some day plant a vegetable garden, and each year I aspire to that goal. And each year I fail. But it never stops me from hoping. Maybe this year. The climate here is so hot and the growing season is long, and it would be ideal for growing the usual kitchen garden variety of vegetables, plus a few hot peppers and maybe a few hundred Basil plants. So, although I'm late with planting, I don't think I'm too late yet. Everything just takes off here when Summer hits its full stride. So, I've been collecting some information on the Internet about gardening by the Moon phases:
New Moon to Full Moon (waxing)
At the New Moon, the lunar gravity pulls water up, and causes the  seeds to swell and burst. This as well as the increasing moonlight creates balanced root and leaf growth. Wait until you see the first crescent for planting above ground annual crops that produce their seeds outside the fruit. Examples are lettuce, spinach, celery, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and grain crops. Cucumbers like this phase also, even though they are an exception to that rule.

When the moon is in the first quarter and is moving towards a Full Moon you can also plant ground crops that have inside seeds such as tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers etc. It is also the time to plant 
annuals and flowers that you want to produce showy and fragrant flowers such as roses.

The last two days of the first quarter, just before the Full Moon is considered an ideal time for grafting fruit trees. The best zodiac signs for sowing and planting your Moon garden are during the first quarter when the moon is in a water sign, such as Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces.

In the second quarter the gravitational pull is less, but the moonlight is strong, creating strong leaf growth. It is generally a good time for planting, especially two days before the Full Moon. The types of crops that prefer the second quarter are annuals that produce above ground, but their seeds form inside the fruit, such as beans, melons, peas, peppers, squash, and tomatoes. Mow lawns in the first or second quarter to increase growth.

Repot and groom houseplants
Sow seeds of plants that grow above ground
Graft fruit trees
Plant evergreen and deciduous trees

Full Moon to New Moon (waning)
All plants are at their peak when the Moon is full. After the Full Moon, as the Moon wanes, the energy is drawing down. The gravitation pull is high, creating more moisture in the soil, but the moonlight is 
decreasing, putting energy into the roots.

While the Moon wanes during the 3rd and 4th quarters, it is a good time to prune plants, as the water table is diminishing and so less sap will flow out of the cut ends. For the same reason, the third quarter is a good time to harvest your crops, your herbs, especially medicinal herbs which will be more potent if picked at this time,  mushrooms and grapes. This is the time to plant crops and flowers that produce growth below the ground such as root crops, tubers and bulbs and for flowers, your biennials and perennials, and the perennials can be divided now too. Therefore it is time to plant onions, potatoes, carrots, swedes, turnips, beets, parsnips and radishes. It is also the time to plant trees, fruit trees and saplings towards the end of the waning period and any spraying of fruit trees should be done during this period of the moon phase. You can also plant strawberries now and harvest any vegetables or fruit that have to be stored for a long period of time, because they won't rot as quickly.

In the fourth quarter experiences a decreased gravitational pull and moonlight, and it is considered a resting period. This is the best time to do some tidying up in your garden, pull the weeds, see to the compost heap, spread the manure and turn over the beds. Mow lawns in the third or fourth quarter to retard growth. Wait for the first crescent of the new moon to plant new seeds.

Plant bulbs
Plant crops that grow below the ground, such as potatoes, carrots
Cultivate weeds
Plant biennials and perennials because they need strong roots
Eliminate slugs
Prune shrubs

The Moon and the constellations
When gardening by the moon, planting seeds for annuals are best when planted when the Moon is in a fire sign. Fire signs are Aries, Leo and Sagittarius. Wheat, corn, squash, peas, beans, tomatoes and all fruit 
are best planted here.

The best time to plant flowering plants is when the Moon is in an Air sign. Flowers planted when the moon is in Gemini, Libra or Aquarius will result in showy, fragrant blooms.

Root crops should be planted when the Moon is in an Earth sign: Taurus, Virgo or Capricorn for carrots, turnips, swedes, beetroots, potatoes etc.

Tennis ball love: Ginger is happy with or without her fresh, organic home-grown Catnip

 Finally, when the Moon is in Cancer, Scorpio or Virgo this is the time to plant leafy vegetables. Cabbage, lettuce, spinach, silver beet, grasses and cress will do best when planted during this time.

Of course, sometimes you just can't co-ordinate your schedule with the Moon, in which case you just plant your seeds whenever you can. It'll all work out. It's all good.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Until next time,

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Go green!

A little bit of green, in keeping with the occasion. Snowdrops showing their faces in my garden this week.

I was hoping to put together some quick paper pieced tulips last night for a speaker's gift today, but couldn't do it. Nothing happens quickly in this house - when I'm not up to my eyeballs in work, the household felons - errr, felines - demand my absolute attention. I had my pattern out and was going through my scraps, looking for the right sized pieces... Rusty and Ginger sat or laid on every part of the project, making it my sole job to shoo them away. It was a great game for them. I gave up.

It's not very St. Patricky, but I had quiche for supper. I had to do something with all of those eggs. And I love quiche, especially with lots of mushrooms and asparagus or broccoli. I share it with the cats. Cream, eggs, cheese, vegetables - what's not to love?
I went looking for photos yesterday and came away with lots of good ones, and a dozen fresh eggs. I love small towns. I was wandering down the street, after having visited the horses in the field next to the town swimming pool, the goats and sheep at the ranch next to it, and the horse and pony at the bottom of the hill, when I heard someone behind me call out to get my attention. They figured rightly that I was looking for pictures and invited me into the chicken yard to see the new chicks that had just arrived that morning ny Canada Post. Whay says Spring better than a clutch of brand new cute chicks? So I took some pictures and we talked about them and the rest of their chickens; her husband showed up and I found out that I knew his parents even though I hadn't met this couple before (that I know of), and he showed me his "pet" chicken Gerty, and they made sure I had a dozen fresh eggs to take with me before I left.

I had just gotten a dozen fresh eggs the day before from my next door neighbour, Judy, who has four "pet" chickens in her backyard - Fran, Brunhilde, Gerta and Pearl. Doesn't everyone name their chickens? Anyway, I now have a really good supply of eggs, but I love eggs so they won't last long.
It may come as no surprise that we have a Full Moon coming up on Sat., March 19 at 28 Virgo (almost 29). I think people are already feeling the effects - lot of people driving like idiots (they always do just after the highways get rid of the last of their snow and ice) and others are just so damned funny. I was almost in tears twice today because I was laughing so hard at people. And, of course, the Vernal Equinox (Spring) arrives on Sun., March 20 near midnight as the Sun enters into Aries, the first sign of the Zodiac. Yay!

Until next time,

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Starry eyed

Ta da! I finished my first paper pieced sqare. It's a Carol Doak design from one of her books - which one, I'm not sure because my next door neighbour and partner in crime, Judy, borrowed it from the library and ran the pattern off for us. (But if you want to see more of Carol's designs, you can find them at her site .)

I started it over a month ago and then got sidetracked with other things. Trying to remember where to start after a long break was a hassle. After three or four false starts, I watched a few video tutorials and read some instructions (if all else fails...), and it finally came back to me. I'm happy with it. Don't know what I'll do with it, but it's done. Guess I'll add it to the wall with my other extra and practice stars.

The April/May 2011 Quilt magazine has a paper pieced mariner's compass pattern by Nancy Rink that I just might try. I've always adored the look of the mariner's star but it has always looked so out of my league. It's still out of my league, but what the heck?

My very own sewing machine cover
 It actually smells like Spring out there today. There's still snow here and there, but the ground is finally thawing and there's a hint of rich, fertile soil in the air. And the sunshine is glorious. Hope it is where you live, too.

Until next time,

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Blog and run

Don't you just hate it when everything suddenly speeds up without notice and suddenly you're facing a mountain of work - with an avalance crashing towards you? I really should know by now that people start crawling out of their dens at this time of year, and my job kicks back into high gear.

I didn't even have time to comment on the last New Moon which was at 13 Pisces on March 4 - my partner's birthday and also the placement of his Natal Sun. I've mentioned before that a New Moon is a good time to finish projects and I actually finished one that I'd been working on forever - since the end of January. It was his birthday present, and I finished it somewhere around midnight on March 3, and it's my first finish of 2011.

I think he was pleased with it. I was too, although there were several mistakes, and I fixed over a million of them while I was making it. But the day I stop making mistakes will be the day I walk on water, so I guess I'll just get over it. More than anything, I'm relieved to have finally finished it so I can move on to other things. Like finishing that paper pieced star, for one.
The next New Moon is April 3 at 13 Aries, and before that we have a Full Moon coming up on March 19 at 28 Virgo.

Ginger holding down my magazine collection

Rusty getting positive vibes from my peppermint tea
Until next time,