the big zinnia post

I know most of you come here for the knitting, but c'mon, you love gardening too! Am I right? Me too! The garden is so beautiful right now--mid summer, sigh, I love you so very much. Today I'm sharing all the beautiful zinnias that are growing in this summer's garden. This year I went with pastels, muted and bright, and sacrificed the big familiar zinnia blooms for smaller and more interesting blooms. Aren't they GORGEOUS? I'm so happy.

These zinnias are planted in the front of our perennial flower border. The border has wisteria, roses, hydrangeas, dahlias and Shasta daisies. I save a two-foot border at the front for summer annuals. Nasturtiums pop up on their own and I leave about half of them in, ripping out any that are going to take over, then I over-plant with a summer annual I've started in the greenhouse from seed--usually zinnias.

This zinnia border is not a flower border that can be appreciated from afar. The blooms don't shout for attention, and because of that, they invite you to step in for a closer look. Take a wee walk; it's not far. On closer inspection you'll see how truly beautiful and individual (and quirky) the blossoms are: you might spy a thin neon-pink edge surrounding a neon-lime green center or a feathery domed pincushion sitting atop a single layer of plain petals. Each blossom is unique.

These zinnias won't be found in your garden center and are only offered as seeds. They need to be planted in a greenhouse or protected environment which is easy enough but does require a little TLC. The germination of these specialty zinnias is good, not great--a little spotty to be honest, but good enough. They do however transplant very well. All the shopping links are at the end, but in the meantime, enjoy the show. Next week I'll have a vegetable garden post. It's summer!

Behind the zinnias are dahlias, shasta daisies, cosmos and roses.

The bright pink hydrangea is underneath the wisteria pods that need to be trimmed. Next weeks chore.

The Queen Limes

The Starlights

The Pincushions


All the seeds are from Burpee:
Zinderellas (the pincushions)

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Pine Creek

My project notes say that I finished this in March, and here it is July and it's finally photographed, then, whoosh, it was packed away for summer. Won't it be a nice surprise this fall when I open up my chest full of wooly winter knits and see this lacy beauty again!

The lace was easy and fun despite looking very complicated. The pattern is charted and written out row by row but I almost always follow charts. This just needed a little glance at the chart at the beginning of each row to get started, then the row would sail by. Honest! But I did use markers for each repeat and that made it easy to keep track. The yarn is Rowan Purelife British Breeds Blue Faced Leicester DK that I purchased 5 years ago when I was visiting England. The yarn had been discontinued and was deeply discounted. It's so gorgeous I wish I had bought it all up.

The fit is so oversized, yikes! I know it's meant to be, but I'm a bit shocked at how big it really is. I cast on for the smallest size and added less stitches at the sleeve separation but it still came out very big. I made the sleeves way less balloony and made the neck wider and shorter to rest lower on the neck. I do love it but I think oversized is tricky and doesn't always look right on me. This one looks best if I tuck it in a bit.

The two pictures below are what I'm making at the moment; one is fitted, one is oversized. The first is a test knit for adorable Libby Jonson of Truly Myrtle. I LOVE knitting it! This picture was taken last week and as of today I'm done with the body and tonight will start sleeve number one. I'll let you know when the pattern is available--I think at the end of July. The last one is a Weekender that has only one sleeve to go. I guess I don't have to say that much about the Weekender, it's so popular!

Pine Creek by Samantha Guerin 
my project page for Pine Creek
project page for Circus
project page for Weekender

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Last week I was in Sunriver, Oregon on vacation with my family. It's very close to Bend where they have two yarn shops, so of course I had to go and investigate! I love taking home yarn souvenirs! Fancywork Yarns in Bend had a beautiful display of Blue Sky's Woolstok which I had previously used in the 21 Color Slouch and loved, but had never seen in all its glory; all 21 glorious colors hanging on the wall, ready to become a new sweater for me. Upstream by Kate Davies had just come out and to make it I needed 3 colors. So with all those 21 colors to choose from I decided to go with fawn, beige and ivory. Ha! I'm very happy with my color choices. My Upstream is subtle and sophisticated.

We had a long drive home so I cast on just before we left and was finished with the body by the time we drove into our driveway 8 hours later. The sleeves came next, then all three were combined into one piece and then the fun part began--the mosaic stitch yoke. I was so enthusiastic about it that I had that part done in just two days. I fell hard for the stitch pattern and have found it in another pattern using fingering weight yarn, Fiskur by Christiane Burkhard, and I've got that in the queue.

I just loved this in every way you could love a knitting project. The pattern was clear and simple, the yarn was soft and well-behaved yet wooly and rustic, and the fit is perfect--but only after I made some pretty major but easy modifications: The pattern is mean for aran weight yarn and the smallest size is a 36" bust. Neither is that great for me because 1) a pullover in aran weight yarn would be too warm for my California weather, and 2) I wanted this to be fitted with zero ease and a 33" bust. To make these changes I simply switched out the yarn to a lighter weight worsted weight yarn with a smaller gauge and knit the smallest size. It worked! I also added length to the sleeves and body. Lastly I wanted the neck to be a little less tight so I didn't do as many decreases and ended up with 8 more stitches.

Edited in the afternoon: I am answering a question from the comments section at the end of the post. Yes, the little shapes are meant to be fishes and I do think the strands of yarn (which are made when slipping stitches with the yarn in FRONT) are the fins. Also, I do not think that stitch will pull any more than any other stitch and I am not concerned about it. They are not loose and lie pretty close to the fabric. 

Upstream by Kate Davies
from her Bold Beginner Knits book

Fancywork Yarns in Bend, Oregon

My colors were Gravel Road, Driftwood, and Highland Fleece

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Are you ready to romp?

This little romper is a recently published pattern, Tulipromper by Rille Rundt. The fingering weight gauge is lightweight for summer, plus I love the simplicity. The original pattern has a stranded tulip band that I replaced with a more masculine band of mosaic knitting from the Alaskan Pullover. The pattern is easy to follow and sized up to 4 years, plus inexpensive at $3! I used lovely vintage stash yarn, the late and great Rowan Cotton 4-Ply. It's been replaced with something even nicer, Summerlite 4-Ply, but the original cotton is lovely too and my stash is full of it. Either one makes for a perfect light weight summer knit and both go in and out of the washer and dryer with ease. I know I sound like a broken record here, but Rowan really does make the best cottons available for the hand knitter.

My husband thought a pale blue romper might be inappropriate for our very active and very big fella, but I maintain that babies are babies for such a short time and dressing them like babies is quite alright, and is in fact preferable. And oh my! he looked simply adorable in it! After the "photo shoot" we took him downtown to the children's bookstore to buy some new books. Once we got him to understand that he could not throw the books, he took his book reviewing very seriously.  Linden Tree Children's Books has been a beloved jewel and landmark in our downtown for decades. When my own son (Carter's daddy) was young, my father, an avid reader and lover of books, came for a visit and was throughly enchanted with our beautiful children's book store. After that he regularly sent my son $25 to spend at Linden Tree. We have saved most if not all of those books and they are now being read to Carter, my father's great-grandson. Now here I am shopping at the same store with my own grandson and my father's legacy lives on.

After book shopping we popped into the knit store next store to show him off, then strolled down Main Street. Our little one received many appreciative smiles and ouus and ahhs, and quite a few woman stopped us so they could admire him a good long time. Sigh. It's so very fun showing off a grandchild. 

Rowan Summerlite 4-Ply is an excellent and better substitute and is widely available.

I've been asked how I get my 22 month old grandson to pose for me, but honestly, I don't do much except follow him around with a camera. He might show off for me and smile at the camera, but mostly he goes exploring on his own and I always manage to get some great shots. When he is actively moving I use the live setting my on iPhone. During editing I scan through the shots within the live photo, choose the best one, then click off the live setting. When he is sitting still I use the portrait setting. There are many pictures here because I simply could not edit any more out--I love them all! 

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