Spring Break

Well it must officially be spring; I haven't had a knitting project in the works for a few weeks, I've pulled out my herbal salve for itchy bug bites (those darn ticks!) Katie and I have been spending nearly every waking moment in our gardens,  and we haven't been in front of our computers long enough to pop in here! 

Enjoying my spring time window sill-especially the sweet gnome made by my friend Avena.

Enjoying my spring time window sill-especially the sweet gnome made by my friend Avena.

If I have had a moment indoors to do hand work I've still been working away at Alabama Chanin's swatch of the month project. March has been a tough one, satin stitching over stenciled fern fronds. I couldn't deal with adding a chop bead to every other stitch as called for, so skipped them. (Really glad April's swatch uses a stencil we've already cut!)

Oh! And speaking of stitching-I finally finished the beret I've been working on for myself. It was too big when I first sewed it together, and languished for weeks. Turns out  a slightly wider seam allowance made all the difference and it now fits just right. I totally love it-so unusual and comfortable.

Big changes happening in my garden. I took down the hoop house (was sad to see it go!) but the plastic will last longer if it isn't up all summer, and I need the space for summer crops. I'm planning a bigger hoop house for next year with more growing space and a way to hang up hammocks for winter sun bathing. We had a friend come over with his walk behind tractor to till up more of the meadow to expand our growing space. What an amazing tool, so effective.

Now to get it all manured, amended, planted and mulched before the weeds creep in! I've expanded my seed starting operation this year by building myself a rack to hold grow light and flats. So far so good, it is home to 80 tomatoes, 50 leeks, 20 basil, 12 dill, and 8 okra growing happily.

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::Tangents is the collection spot for the things we're thinking about, obsessively researching, and doing at home and on the web.

Laura's Tangents

Enjoying working my way through The Southern's Handbook, especially part one on food. Okra, grits and ramps? Yes, please.


Tomorrow is a good day to plant by the moon, so I spent some time today sorting last year's seeds and making a rough plan for the garden. Can't wait to get sowing!


After last Saturday's syrup cooking in the woods it got cold and rainy, so Strider finished cooking off our first batch of syrup on the porch with my little rocket stove. We had gotten the 50 gallons or so we started with down to 4 in the woods. The rocket stove worked super to finish the syrup and take it down to the final 5 quarts, AND kept our house from getting fogged with steam...


Katie's Tangents

I'm also thinking seeds. Since I was late ordering mine this year, I ended up buying my peas locally. This display at our local farm store never fails to charm me- 


The seeds I planted in my greenhouse are coming up! So far arugula, radish and some lettuces have germinated. They are still tiny, but it's a head start on my outside garden for sure.


I'm also working on making our tiny pond a little bigger... 


It's *possible* I've made this too big... you can dig a hole for free, but now I have to figure out how to add a liner, pump and filter on the cheap... 

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mud season

I went for an idyllic, sunny, snow melting muddy walk with my boys this afternoon-first up to the woods to empty the sap buckets, on down the trail past the pond, over to visit our charming new neighbors, up the lane towards home, through the meadow, past the hoop house and home to sit in the sun and knit! 

Hope you are getting to enjoy some of this delicious sunshine too!


In Progress

Laura's Projects

I finished my February swatch of the month with a day to spare! Wow, was this a lot of stitching compared to the January swatch. 

2 down, 10 to go.


The March swatch has yet to be posted, but so far the desktop and the swatch of the month have been the same. If this pattern continues, looks like March is going to be interesting...

I started working with some of the Habu yarn I got at Vogue Knitting Live. Yikes is it thin and boy does it knit up beautifully:


Katie's Projects

I'm back to working with leather, thanks to the untimely death of my tattered vintage wallet. I used that as a rough template, and drafted a new pattern,


and worked with some fun new tools- including a special punch to make the perfect hand-stitching holes! 


Now I have a sweet little wallet that looks like the younger sibling of Laura's wallet...


I'm also having another go at clog-making, but let me tell you, this is tricky business. I can see now why there aren't more casual clog-makers out there! 

And, I'm so impressed with Laura's swatch- I'm not even half-way done with my swatch. I can't believe I'm already behind in just the second month! I'm making good progress though, the trick is, I have to actually work on it everyday. 



Katie's Tangents

Apparently posting to our blog has become a tangent in the rest of my gardening, reading, leather-crafting and stitching life. I've been busy lately, waiting for spring and working on my greenhouse- it's almost done!

Katie's tiny greenhouse

Last week I filmed a segment for Knitting Daily TV in Cleveland. And here I'm going to be one of those bloggers to suggest you follow my instagram feed if you'd like to see more of that trip, I didn't bring my "real" camera. Despite the super-wintery weather that was no-fun to drive in, It was an awesome experience. I taped my segment with the super-pro Vickie Howell, and it was great to chat with fellow guests, Heather Zoppetti, Joanna Johnson and Lauren Riker.

Yesterday my family went over to Laura and Strider's to help boil off their sap. They've got a pretty sweet homemade set up. It was getting dark when I took these photos, so my shots are a bit blurry. This stove is made from cinder blocks and fire bricks. The sap is in the stainless steel pans on top. 

photo 1.jpg

Stoking the fire makes the sap evaporate more quickly of course, and the routine of tending the fire, skimming foam and topping off containers with more sap is a not unpleasant way to spend the afternoon. 

photo 2.jpg

It was warm enough for the boys to play in the woods without their coats, but they hung around  and begged for tastes too...


It always impresses me to remember that it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. It sounds like Laura and Strider are on course to make over a gallon of tasty syrup this year. Happily, I know four boys who will be happy to help eat it up! 

Laura's tangents

Making maple syrup, hellebores and daffodils about to bloom, and fall planted garlic putting on growth. Spring is definitely close-it's hard to imagine we have another snow storm on the way!

I photographed my studio potter mother in law, Teresa at work this week.  



Katie's Tangents

I'm working on a new, secret (for now) project these days that requires me to frequently visit RhymeZone and to match bread mold to yarn colors. 

Moldy Bread and Yarn Swatches

I think I'm going to go with Green Mist, what do you think? The yarn is the lovely Jamieson's Shetland Spindrift from Schoolhouse Press. Seeing the enormous yarn swatch book really makes me want to tackle a fair isle project, the colors are just so great! 

I know it's dull to talk about the weather, but I'm so psyched for the week of warmth that we're going to have in Kentucky! Our January thaw is happening in mid-February, but I'm not complaining! I'm hoping to finish building my little greenhouse.

Yesterday for Sunday dinner I made three new recipes from Jersualem. The whole meal was great, but the shining star was the salad with dates and almonds. We used greens from Laura's greenhouse instead of the spinach, and happily a friend had sumac I could use. I want to try to harvest sumac this summer, it's plentiful around here and added a nice fruity, lemony zing to the salad. 

Laura's Tangents

Just finished reading The Resilient Farm and Homestead by Ben Falk. What a practical, in-depth look at the design and implementation of a thriving permaculture farm. Lots of food for thought...

Around here we are making steady progress on our house build-the plumbing was roughed in last week, and hopefully an electrician will be here any day. After so very much DIY it is absolutely wonderful to pay other people to do some of the work for us! 

(On the left the manifold of pipes going from the pump and pressure tank to all the sinks, showers and toilets, and on the right TADA, yes, what I am most excited for-the washing machine hook-up!)

The current project for Strider and I-putting up 1 inch foam between the rafters to create an air space beneath the roof sheathing. First we nail up little 1 inch strips, then a sheet of foam. It is easy work, just tedious and feels endless. But, we keep working, put up one piece at a time, the pile of foam to be installed keeps shrinking, and eventually this task will be behind us. Then on to the next step!

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