Friday, January 26, 2007

Early Spring

One of the really nice things about Los Angeles is that spring comes early and lasts a very long time. Spring seems to be especially early this year even though it has been cold. Maybe because there has been no rain to slow things down. My lavenders are in bloom and the azalea has decided to open a few of its buds. The clivia has sent up some blooms, but they are very low in the plant as though they came up and then realized that it was still too early. Last year and the year before, I received some potted bulbs as a Christmas gift, a bulb of the month club idea. The first year, I got beautiful blooms from all the pots but after the blooms faded and the greens turned yellow, I just moved the pots to my potting bench and ignored them for the summer. They got no water at all and dried out. I didn't think they would come back, but after a little fall rain they started to sprout. I am giving them regular water now and am eagerly waiting to see what I get. The deep purple hyacinth has already bloomed, but again it's a short bloom, low in the plant. But the smell!! I wish there was some way to upload a whiff of its intoxicating cinnamon aroma to you.

I went bonkers over lavender a few years ago. My friend Kathy has had great success with her plants. But although I was able to get cuttings from her to root, as soon as I put them into the ground, they died. She says I need to clean the potting soil off the roots before putting them into our clay soil. Next time... Her French lavender has the best aroma. I have successfully grown a Spanish lavender and a lace-leaf lavender. It is really hard to get a good picture of lavender because its beauty is in the mass of blooms. Each individual flower is tiny. And of course, the best part is the smell although the lace-leaf variety is stinky. Pretty but stinky.

River, my lace knitting project is coming along slowly but surely. I was worried that it would end in a bog because it seemed that for every three rows forward I was frogging back two. I have learned the hard way that you don't do lace when you are tired, or when there are distractions. The yarn (Rowan Kidsilk Haze) is gorgeous, but a bit difficult to work with, it is so fine. I tried switching to bamboo needles because the metal ones are slippery, but found that I couldn't see the pattern as well on the bamboo, and the delicate yarn was getting stressed by pushing it back and forth on the needles.

The instructions do not come with a chart, which would have been very helpful, so I made up a chart of my own to keep track of the repeats. It's just a table that I created in Word. The rows to be repeated are listed down the side and the number of repeats goes across the top. I check off a box as I complete a row and when I have filled in all the boxes I will have completed all 11 repeats. The clear boxes are for when the pattern starts with yfwd (or YO), and the shaded boxes for the K2tog rows. The number of plain Ks at the beginning of each row varies giving the pattern its offset waves, so I have listed that number along with the row number. The pattern goes 3, 4, 5, 6 in the yfwd rows, and 5, 4, 3, 2 in the K2tog rows. The total number of Ks in each row at the beginning and end always add up to 8, so if you start with 3 you will have 5 at the other end. This is a way of double-checking the number of stitches you have because it is so easy to drop one. I also count the stitches as I go back on the WS K rows. Now that I have the pattern memorized, it should go much smoother.

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