Knitting F.O.: Socks!!!

I finished my first pair of knitted socks last weekend! These have been a long time coming, and I am so happy I stuck with it and completed this project. 

These were made with Cakewalk Yarns in the Brooklyn colorway, using 2 sets of size 0 Addi Turbo Sock circular needles (40 inch length).

After watching several YouTube tutorials on how to Magic Loop (use 1 circular needle to knit in the round), I followed the fabulous video tutorials by Tina from the Knitting Blooms podcast (I am a long-time watcher, highly recommend her show!). First I watched her Toe Up Socks - the Toe video, then knit up the foot to my length before starting the Short Row Heel video

After that you knit up the leg, then I did a 2 x 2 (2 knit stiches, 2 purl stitches) ribbing for the cuff. Then I followed Tina's video for the Super Stretchy bindoff. And done!

They are so soft and cozy on the feet, I am very happy with the fit. This is mainly due to following along with Tina's VERY detailed sock pattern that goes along with her videos. In it, she tells you exactly how to measure your foot and get the right number of stitches and gauge for a comfortable fit. It did take me several tries to get my fit "just right" since I tend to be a loose knitter and my gauge changes as I knit, which is very frustrating. While the average knit sock, from what I can tell, is about 64 stitches in the round, I needed to go down to 56 stitches (28 on each needle) to get my desired snug sock. 

It was worth the ripping back and downright frogging of my first pair! I have already cast on a second pair, using Madelinetosh yarn (yarn nirvana!) and plan to knit them the same way now that I have the notes to follow.

Look Ma, I'm a sock knitter!!!



Easy Vegetable Gardening: Tutorial and Tips

You'd think with a blog name like Crafty Garden Mom I'd actually do a little more gardening than I have in recent years. After all, planting a garden with my oldest daughter who was 3 at the time, is how I came upon the name for this blog and the subsequent podcast. But limited time, and an admitted laziness to actually getting outside and my hands dirty, has kept me from keeping it going. 

Here's our sad little plot prior to Maddy (the youngest child) declaring she wanted to garden and grow something.

She and Sam had grand plans of planting about 30 different kinds of vegetables and fruits in this little 3' x 7' plot. Bringing them back down to reality, I convinced them that since we were just "getting back in the game" this year, let's keep it simple and grow a few things we know we will eat, and decide at the end of summer what to do next.

I have been a big fan of the Lasagna Gardening method for planting a vegetable garden, and was happy to pull out my copy of the book for a refresher on what to do, buy, and prep for a quick turnaround (from ground to planting) in about an afternoon.

I highly recommend you buy or borrow the book if you're interested in gardening this way. The main benefit to me is that there is no tilling of the ground, because you build the garden from the ground up. This really is the best way to minimize the work for maximum harvest in your vegetable garden.

To kill the weeds and encourage earthworms to start doing their soil magic, lay down newspaper or cardboard to completely cover the area you will be planting. Then use a hose to saturate the paper so it "sticks" in place, which makes it easier to start layering on top without shifting.

 Don't skimp on the newspaper, put it down 3-4 sheets thick, 
it really does take the weeding down to a minimum!

Next, add a 2-3 inch deep layer of peat moss. I bought mine at Home Depot.

Then start adding alternate layers of grass clippings, straw, dried leaves, soil conditioner, manure, more peat moss, and compost. We don't have manure or compost laying around, so I bought mine at Home Depot. 

It is OK if you need to purchase all of the items for this first garden, don't worry about it. I used to have a compost bin going in our kitchen, but found keeping one in the house with a toddler was....problematic at best. I also live where every ant in town thinks a crumb on my floor is an open buffet, so having food scraps around in a container that has to "breathe" is also problematic. Plus it just got kind of gross after awhile. I am fine with purchasing some "black gold" from the professionals, and our local garden center has a very good blend.

Keep layering (like a lasagna!) all of these items until your garden is about 18-24 inches deep. This may seem rather high, but it will break down by about half over the upcoming months. Plus you want to give your plants lots of room to let the roots dig down deep without having to break through your original ground cover which may not be as nutrient rich.

The girls' loved helping plant our garden, and getting their hands right in there. 
Maddy had more "issues" with the bees buzzing curiously around.

End on a peat moss layer, and add a little bonemeal and wood ash if you have it. Now you're ready for planting!

We chose to plant vegetables, but you can plant just about anything that grows: ground cover, plants, flowers, small trees, fruit bushes.... Patricia Lanza uses lasagna gardens all over her yard, front and back, for all of her gardening.

After much debate, and a long conversation with Maddy about not being able to plant a gummy worm bush this year (she is still very  skeptical of my knowledge on this subject), the girls and I decided on romaine lettuce, spinach, zucchini, several varieties of peppers, sage, thyme, cilantro, and chocolate mint. Samantha loves the idea of chocolate mint. It smells divine, but I will need to look up some recipes to use with it because I'd never even heard of it before.

I put the 2 zucchini plants on the far left side, and will need to keep a sharp eye on them as I know how they can completely take over a garden if you're not careful. I also used several pepper supports I purchased years ago (you know, when I actually gardened annually) from Burpee. I highly recommend these supports if you're growing peppers or eggplants - they are so worth the money. They allow the plant to stay upright as the weight of the peppers pulls it down. Once your peppers start touching the ground, they are quickly susceptible to bugs, slugs, and blight. Burpee still sells them as a customer favorite, you can find them here.  

In the book, Patricia Lanza goes into great detail of the best plants and vegetables to grow in your lasagna garden, with many tips for each variety. In fact, since the actual lasgana layering part is so simple, the bulk of the book is about the plants not the planting!

We planted our little garden about 2 weeks ago in a single afternoon (about 2-3 hours, including lugging all the supplies from the car to the back yard) and things are moving along well. We've had several evenings of rain which has helped to keep the ground moist, and the lettuce has been filling out nicely, almost ready for the first picking.

Lasgana Layers Tip! Just yesterday I scored what I think is a 25-30 lb. bag of coffee grounds while getting my daily caffeine fix at Starbucks. I've known they offer these leavings (there are signs in many stores, often overlooked) but hadn't taken advantage of it before because...hey, just getting back into it after years off. The barista was SO happy to have me take this rather heavy bag off her hands so she didn't have to drag it all the way in the back dumpster. I would have liked to have been able to use the grounds as I was originally layering, but the garden will still benefit from me sprinkling a good amount all over the current top layer, and use a hand rake to mix it in.

I will keep you posted as our garden grows!



CGM Podcast Episode #75: Lasagna Podcasting

Listen to the episode here

Show Notes 

Life Update:

  • Upcoming Disney trip!
  • Helping my parents move - decluttering/helping them purge
  • Book mentioned: 

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast

F.O.s and WIPs:
  • Finished my vanilla socks! (blog post to come with pics and details)
    • Link to Knitting Blooms podcast/sock tutorials here.
  • Outlander Blocks: see previous blog post for pics and free patterns here.
  • Have you checked out the free pattern burning up Instagram? The One Hour Basket by Kelby Sews.
  • Art journaling: here are a few of my favorite You Tube channels for inspiration (enabler alert!!):

We planted a vegetable garden (blog post with pics to come!) using the book/method: Lasagna Gardening by Patricia Lanza. She also wrote Lasagna Gardening for Small Spaces which I recommend.

  • Book mentioned:

Book Reviews:
The Rook by Daniel O'Malley

A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman

A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley

Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova

Thanks for listening!



Thursday Thoughts

Thursday Thoughts: random stuff I'm thinking and spit out on this blog, usually with bullets because I even think in list form.  
For past Thursday Thoughts, visit here.

  • The countdown to our Disney cruise has begun
  • Sam asks me every 2-3 minutes when we're going.
  • Maddy could care less until she remembers she'll
  • get to meet the Disney princesses 
  • and be their best friends
  • and sing with them
  • and dance with them
  • and eat with them
  • and paint nails with them
  • she has big plans
  • for those Princesses
  • I have big plans for a pina colada
  • and a massage.
  • I have continued to work on the Outlander blocks, but
  • ran into a busy week at work
  • so I won't finish the next 2 until tomorrow, which is a day off
  • Thank Bejeezuz.
  • I also have plans to make the
  • Hour Basket
  • Have you seen these popping up everywhere on Instagram 
  • and blogs?
  • Most everyone who makes one says it really does only take
  • an hour
  • While I have big dreams of popping out 6-10 of these baskets
  • It's more likely I'll make 2 at the same time
  • and see how I like it from there.
  • I have also been itching to make another
  • Jazz artist quilt like Billie Holiday
  • only maybe this time
  • Dizzy Gillepsie
  • or
  • Duke Ellington
  • or 
  • Bessie Smith
  • Bessie might be good
  • because there's an upcoming HBO biopic 
  • with Queen Latifah as
  • Bessie
  • who was not always a nice woman
  • but extremely talented and "before" her time
  • musically
  • They're already talking Emmy award for Queen
  • or is it Ms Latifah?
  • Whatever.
  • I have high hopes for this one, the 1920's costumes
  • sucked me in.
  • I really wish Mother Nature would
  • make up her mind what season it is.
  • Today it is 50 degrees out
  • tomorrow it's going to
  • reach 80
  • Every weekend up to now it has been too cold
  • or raining
  • so I haven't planted our vegetable garden yet.
  • The girls are anxious to plant their favorites
  • But it seems they think we have 
  • acreage to put in about 60 different varieties
  • when we're working with a 3' x 12' plot
  • They both think this is perfect for
  • The Great Watermelon, Charlie Brown
  • because there needs to be a summer
  • mythical garden character like at Halloween.
  • Good grief.


Outlander Applique Free Patterns: Blocks 1 and 2

Here are the first 2 Outlander line drawings to use in making your own applique or embroidery blocks.

 Jamie (block 1): 
I cut my background piece 10.5" x 12"


Link to print out line Drawing/pattern is here.

 Wedding Night (block 2):
 I cut my background piece 10.5" x 13"

Link to print out line Drawing/pattern is here.

Both of the patterns above assume you have basic knowledge of doing fusible applique (tracing onto fusible web, ironing onto fabric, etc..) Fear not if you're a newbie, there are many good videos on You Tube on this simple technique! Here are links to a few of them:
Stay tuned for more Outlander blocks to come (more Jamie, Claire, even Captain Jack Randall are in the works!) Thanks so much for your interest, emails, comments, and downloads. I appreciate it.


Copyright/sharing guidelines: I am not very "strict" about these things, after all, Outlander the book, tv series, or brand is not my idea or property. But I would appreciate it if you do use these patterns in making any project, that you link back to my blog and reference Crafty Garden Mom and/or Tanesha Nurse when you share them on the web or among friends. All of these patterns are for PERSONAL USE ONLY, no commercial use (i.e. Etsy, Craftsy, etc..). Thank you!


What We're Reading This Month


Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
(on sale 6/9/15, I am reading an advance copy)

A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley

The Liar by Nora Roberts

Samantha (age 8):

Maddy (age 4):

 Peanut Butter & Cupcake by Terry Border

 The Pigeon Needs a Bath! by Mo Willems

What are you reading this month?



WIP Wednesday: Outlander applique

The Outlander tv series on Starz starts up again this Saturday, and I have been working on some (fusible) applique blocks for a wall quilt.

First up is Jamie, because well...it's Jamie!

(Yes, the kilt did get a bit shorter...artistic license and all LOL)

And of course any Outlander quilt needs a block with both Jamie and Claire, so I decided to go with the wedding night scene:

 (I still can't get over how low that dress/corset is...even in the finished gown!)

These are of course, unfinished, un-embellished blocks, simply fused fabric onto a background piece. (I use Pellon 805/Wonder Under) Once I have all the blocks I want to use in a theme quilt complete, I will piece it together then quilt and add embellishments (buttons, embroidery, quotes, etc...) as needed.

In a few days I will post my line drawings of these blocks so you can make you own Outlander theme quilt. If I had the time and was a better blogger, I would probably pull together some kind of quilt-along. But as usual, I'm all over the place and my theme of 2015 is "simplify." So to keep it simple, I will just post the blocks as I make them, and when I think I'm ready to move on, I will post the layout of my finished quilt with a detailed post. You could of course just make mini quilts of any of the blocks you like best.

I think you'll like the new ones I'm working on, but I'm open to suggestions on people or things from the first book to try!

Season 1, episode 9 of Outlander can be viewed on the Starz cable channel Saturday, April 4th at 9 pm EST. You can watch the very first episode without a subscription here. The Starz network will be running an Outlander marathon (episodes 1-8) starting at 1 pm April 4th.

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