Herb Spirals

With my growing interest in gardening, recycling and permaculture I’m exploring ways to make my life easier and my soil better.

One thing I found today is an herb spiral. This looks like something I would find entertaining, and the benefits to the plants sound great! By creating many little micro climates in one place I will be able to grow a wide variety of herbs without running all over the yard.

I am not sure where to put it, but I am sure that will come to us as we work on planning things out.

Elsewise around here I am working on crocheting a hassock, all made with recycled stuffing and structure. The cover is from several scraps of acrylic yarn I have in my stash and I am working several tapestry crochet designs into it as I go. So far I have started and then ripped out six different tops. I gave up on the top for now, and decided to work on the sides. Since I seem to be coming up with all the ideas for what I want on the sides while I struggle with the top. I am on the bottom area right now, and this is the chart I am adapting for the tapestry crochet pattern:

I have nine repeats of it going around. So far I am using a gold colored yarn and one called ‘Claret’ it is sort of a dark Burgundy color. Looks very much like the Griffindor colors from Harry Potter. I am not sure where else I am going with it.

Inside I still have about 20 tomato plants in small pots. Two days ago (on Wednesday) I did manage to plant the 4 pumpkin vines over on the north side of the back yard near the grapevine trellis. I had to dig out a big chunk of bricks to get them in. Almost all of our pathways in our garden are filled with bricks, but I still have tons more. I did line the front beds of iris with them. The whole family spent an hour and a half Wednesday night putting in the beds and planting the iris bulbs. Our neighbors came by and chatted while we were working, and Superman took them back and showed off our veggie garden. I also planted some peppermint under where the hose drips on the north side of the house in the front, and some chocolate mint in the south bed with the roses. My mom gave me all the mints and the iris. Hopefully this coming Monday I will get some papyrus. A good friend of mine has a big plant, and we are going to cut it down and make some papyrus paper and she is going to give me a small chunk to start in my house. Right now I have a pot for it in the living room in our southern bay window, but I am not 100% sure that is where it will stay.

I have also started working on another book. Right now it contains all of the almanac info for my area for 2009 and the first two months of 2010. I am going to see where it goes. I know many friends in other areas who want some of my books calculated for them, but it is a lot of work to calculate all of that out. So far I have included about 800 or so holidays and their history, along with how they are calculated, all of the retrograde charts for the first 19 planets, the moon phases and signs, moon void of course data, planetary hours of the day for sun and moon, and various notable astrological configurations, along with lots of astronomical data that is visible from our earth spot. I would like to work it into a daily planner format. But the problem becomes that there is six or seven pages of data for each day. Which seems a bit cumbersome. Even adding the days planetary hours onto a day chart breaks it over into a two page spread per day, if there is room to write in appointments.

I would like to add our local planting and harvesting data for our county. But getting it down that small seems like it would really limit its usefulness. I just have much more testing and puzzling to do on the whole matter.

Books and Lilies

I just picked up Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on the recommendation of one of my current teachers. So far it is great fun! I crocheted a new bookmark for it of course.

Another of my favorite Filigree Bookmarks. Mr. Norrell is a practicing magician, which none of the other magicians in Yorkshire are. They only study about magic. Mr. Norrell has a vast library which is of course the envy of the Society of Magicians in York. But, he is very polite as he looks down his nose at them, and tricks them into giving up magic (what else would a magician do?) so he can acquire their books and they will quite hounding him.

Being a bibliophile and a pursuer of the occult myself, the descriptions of Mr. Norrell’s library were great fun. Having moved into this new house, it is taking some time for the books to settle into their homes. I have the hardest time with single category classification. And, I am glad I did not take the books downstairs to my ritual room and potion storage areas, as since the April and May rains have come we have discovered that our basement leaks! Joy of Joys. It is the East wall and the mortar needs to be repaired we have discovered.

This morning, while tending to the gardens, I found our first blooming lily from the couple that lived here before us. It is a tiger lily and absolutely gorgeous. I need to trim the roses again, and will do that this evening when it has cooled off a bit. It is late morning, and already the not-mercury-any-more has climbed above 90 F.

In the mean time I am working on some crochet of course. And I have also picked up the knitting again. Been doing much better on this swatch and just need more practice. Someday I will be knitting lace shawls, and that is all there is to it.

To the right is the beginning of my new sun hat. So far I have an ivy lace pattern in the crown, but that is all. I had wanted to do some sort of relief of a charted grape leaf shortly after the lace area. But I tried it out with some fp and bp sc, and it just didn’t work out. So, that has been taken out and I am trying something different. I don’t know what that will be!

In the mean time I joined a CAL (crochet-a-long) for a mystery shawl. So far it has turned out to be great fun! I usually tend to crochet rather tightly, and this is a good challenge, using a very thin thread and a large hook.

New House, New Job, New Shawl

If only this were the house!
If only this were the house!

Wow, where has the time gone?

So much has been happening lately. We are buying a house, and the negotiations have been crazy. But I think we are done!! We signed what they agreed to yesterday, so I am hoping it all goes through and we can get on to the closing at the end of November.

I also started a new job on Monday, and it has used up a whole lot of my time! And I am only part time this week. I start full time tomorrow! Ack.

In the mean time I got my invite to Ravelry!!! I am so stoked. But I am a little disappointed that I won’t have time to use it! I have met lots of neat people so far at my job, working as an order taker over the phone. It’s not glamorous or like my dream career, but it pays, and that’s what counts right now.

I can crochet on my breaks, so I have started the famous seraphina shawl. And I guess I am conforming, because not only am I stitching up a shawl that has been done by everyone, but I am using the Jo-Ann’s Sensations Boucle to do it!! It looks gorgeous all worked up, but it is a bitch to work with. My hook sticks, it doesn’t slide, it is near impossible to frog, and I can’t go very fast with it. At least this whole shawl only involves dcs and chs.

I have much more to blog about, but I am running out of time! I won’t be able to catch much tonight. Perhaps soon.

I do have a new pattern that I am putting the finishing touches on. Men’s slippers. I think I will sell the pattern online once I finish the testing. There seems to be a dearth of men’s patterns. All of the men in my family are raving about them, so I think they have passed the product testing phase!


More Crocheted Bookmarks and Current Projects

This bookmark is my latest. I made it for a friend for her birthday. She crochets too, and recently gave me a beautiful little crocheted wire amulet bag with beads. I thought it was wonderful. Along with it she included some sage from the prairie to the south, some sage from the hills to the north, and some water from the gulf coast (complete with sand). I was delighted. I love to collect waters from all over the world. When friends go off to visit family or far away places I always send them with a plastic peanut butter jar and ask them to bring me back some water. Sometimes I get funny looks, but it all works out.

Anyways, back to the bookmark. I did it all freehand, and just made up the pattern as I went. I tried several different things for the long body of it after creating the woven pentacle. First I thought I would try to modify a wide belt pattern, just doing fewer repeats. But I couldn’t figure out how to make it a belt from the instructions and not an isosceles triangle. I then tried some strange rendition of the hexagon stitch, but the edges were quite crooked. So in the end I went with the tried and true granny bookmark formula.

I attached it to three ch loops on the edge of the pentacle and went back and did the edging and went around the circle at the top when I got there.

I much prefer to stitch items like this in one continuous thread. It seems to make them stronger, but it probably also has to do with my hate of weaving in ends. Is there really any thread worker out there who enjoys that process?

I usually try to use the left over ends to do something to reinforce the piece, but of course that doesn’t always work out.

The pentacle itself is technically my own pattern, but I have seen many of them around. Working out the changes in size is always difficult. I did this particular one with a US size 4 hook (2.00 mm). I started out by chaining 51, leaving about a 10 inch tail. *Then 3 sc into the second ch from the hook. Sc in the next 9 stitches.* Repeat from * to * 4 more times. Now weave the end away from the hook into the pentacle shape. It will be a bit wonky at first, but it will work out. The spaces where there are 3 sc are the corners and should help the piece to turn. Slip stitch the sc your hook is currently in to the first of the 3 sc on the other end. Now, use your hook to slip stitch the starting chain to the 50th chain with the tail left from starting the work. Pull this stitch through.

At this point you can thread the tail onto a blunt needle and use it to stitch down the points where the pentacle overlaps. I pined it to my foam board and worked it out so it would be even, then gave it a shot of starch and a bit of water. I pressed it quickly and then went back and stitched around the inside edge of the pentacle, being sure to catch both pieces of stitching to anchor them together. I went around one more time on the outside edges, and then wove in the remaining tail.

Now you can go back to your regular working loop. Slip stitch one more sc into the middle of the 3 sc. Sc in this stitch and chain 7. *Sc in the middle of the 3sc on the point of the pentacle and chain 7.* Repeat from * to * three more times, joining to the original sc with a slip stitch. Chain one and sc in the same stitch. *Sc 10 times in the chain 7 space, and sc in the top of the sc.* Repeat from * to * four more times and join to first sc with a slip stitch. This completes the pentacle. Fasten off, or go on to turn it into something nifty. Could be a square or circle for a larger motif piece, or the center of a doily, or a bookmark, or just a crocheted pentacle.

This is my current project. It will some day be a snood. But I am designing it all on the fly, so there has been a lot of riping out!

Next to it was last nights break from pattern making! It is a tiny little witch hat from the left over gold thread I used to make the bookmark above. No pattern or anything, just stitching to relieve tension.

There is a better close up of the snood below. It hasn’t been blocked yet, so I tried to stretch it out so you could see the pattern. I used some granny stitches in the center section, and some pineapples. The large solid sections I am on right now have some front posting in them.

I am just starting on a fishnet pattern around the outside edge. I am not sure where I will go after that.

The yarn seems to be 100% cotton. It is actually yarn from my great grandmother. She crocheted a lot, and when she passed way her daughter (my grandma) gave me her crochet supplies. My grandmother knits mainly, and can crochet, but doesn’t very often. She mainly uses it to bind off or start knitting in some circumstances.

This yarn was one of many that had a border or edging crocheted out of it and stopped and fastened on the ball. I am not sure what to do with all of these edgings as I really don’t think I will ever use them. But as a piece of family and crochet history, I hate to unravel them.

I found this at Jo-ann’s back in the clearance section the other day. We were killing time before we had to meet the inspector for the new house, and my darling let me drag him into Jo-ann’s. The sign said it was two balls for $3, but it ended up ringing up as $.99 each. So I was delighted. It is a wool and nylon blend called cosetta purple. By Sensations yarn company. Jo-ann’s is clearing out all of this company’s yarn. It feels very soft and fluffy, and I have no idea what I will do with it. It is a 128 yds in the ball. I could knit a scarf out of it I suppose, since my knitting skills could use some shoring up. But I just haven’t decided yet. I do think it is fluffy enough that I would like to keep it light and knit it. Perhaps a kooky hat!

New Little Witch Hat

Just in time for our Samhain trick or treating, I finished my sweety’s Witch Hat. It is made like the other witch hats I have done but on a smaller scale.

I started with 3 sc in a magic ring and increased by 3 each round. It is crocheted in a spiral to save me the frustration of joins. The band is just done with tapestry crochet, and the buckle is crocheted in with copper embroidery floss. I left very long tails on the copper and used them to sort of over stitch and weave back in the ends all at once.

I made the cone part and took it down around the back so it would cover her ears in one piece. I just turned once I got to the forehead area. Then I broke the yarn and stitched on the brim. It is roughly 3 sc, followed by 2 sc in the fourth stitch. I went around the posts of the stitches of a round just below the purple band. After that I went in a spiral in sc increasing by about 3 per round. I didn’t really count this as I was just following the shape as I went.

I then added on the ties. I started at the lower front edge and chained until I had the length I wanted. I then did sc back up the chain and around the bottom of the hat. After 10 stitches I did a sc decrease until the last 10 stitches. This gathered in the back of the hat and made it curve under the back of her head. I then chained down until the length was the same as the other tie, and did sc back up it. I ended off and wove in the ends. It turned out beautifully and it keeps her nice and warm!

Basket Progress

Here is where I am currently at on my basket project. Things are coming along nicely. I am not sure where to go once I get this pattern finished though.

I am debating whether or not to continue with the twisted stitches method, working increases between the black diamonds, and decreases inside. The other option is to switch to charted diamonds and work them that way. I also have four more colors to add in. Most likely I will combine the charted with the current twisted somehow. Still haven’t puzzled out the details.

I am also not feeling too fuzzy about the current shape, I think it needs to be more flat. I was working 12 increases per round for the flat bottom, and I dropped to six per round as I move up the sides. But I think I need more than six and less than twelve. Which is going to be tricky on a pattern based on six. I am also debating ripping back about three rows to start some big diamonds with their points lower in the design.

In other news, I am doing the beginning research for a new column. I am going to be writing about books, as I spoke about in a previous post. Any thoughts, hints, or tips are most welcome. If you have books to recommend, or suggestions for what you would like to see in a column about books in the pagan/occult world, please send them my way.

House Friends, Progress, and Ramblings

This little guy is one of my house friends. I love summer when they all come out and start to move around the house in the light. This little guy is about the diameter of a dime, and this picture is of him on the ceiling. I have only seen about 15 out and about recently, but I imagine the population in the house is somewhere around 50-70.

They are of the genus phidippus, and are jumping spiders. I find them just cute as a button, and I like the fact that they eat other bugs and spiders! About every three years I buy a batch of eggs from our garden center and plant them in the couch to ensure a robust population in the house.

Since we have a lot of bugs here, living by the river, it does help. Although, I am definitely not winning the war.

Here are some updates on my progress with the crocheted basket. I have just finished the flat bottom and the very next round I am going to begin the gentle curve up to form the walls of the basket.

Things are going well so far, and I have only had to rip it back three or four times. I consider that pretty well considering that I am making it up as I go, and only have a very general plan in mind.

I worked on this on Sunday. My sweet husband and kids let me relax and watch movies while I crocheted. This biggest problem I encountered was how tangled my three yarns became as I continually switched colors. Anyone out there have any tips for this problem with tapestry crochet? Or perhaps I am picking up the yarns wrong when I switch? Having to stop every 15 minutes and untangle the yarn between the hook and the holders is a bit frustrating.

Mostly I watched ‘An Ideal Husband‘ that I had recorded with the DVR a while back. I am not a huge Cate Blanchett fan, but she was quite charming in this. Although Julianne Moore was by far my favorite, but I tend to love the villains. It was a charming and very funny yarn. I wasn’t terribly into the romantic side of things, but I love turn of the century stories and Old English. The rest of the time I caught up on episodes of The Riches. I am a huge Minnie Driver fan, and who doesn’t adore Eddie Izzard? I am still a month or so behind on the episodes, but I will catch up eventually.

I am pleased to feel ahead on my writing for a change. While I have been focusing on this new aspect of my craft, the housework has fallen behind, but I am still pleased with myself. I will spend today catching up on the necessaries, as I listen to past episodes of Cast On. While knitting is not my primary fiber pursuit, I still enjoy the podcast immensely. Stop by and give Brenda a listen if you haven’t already.

In the mean time, I am trying to keep track of column ideas and articles seeds. I think the next one will focus on books. Not only recommended reading lists and book reviews, but how to find out of print books, how to care for old and damaged books, and how to use bibliographies. I think this information would be of use to the greater occult community, both new and old. I may even delve into the depths of book creation and repair.

I also spent a portion of yesterday refreshing my memory of wood kilns, for pottery. For many years I have built and fired my pottery in wood kilns. Living near the river, I have access to natural clay deposits, and enjoy harvesting in the summer, when the organisms have had a chance to deposit a good layer. It then takes time to clean it, and form it. Then I have to build a kiln and chop the wood and fire it. But as a work of Craft and a trans formative process it is a great teacher. A friend and I are exploring taking a group of young Warriors out to a local site for the same process. I think we will build a small tunnel kiln in the ground, and perhaps mix some low fire clay with the local clay we harvest. Time constraints will probably limit us to only 3 hours of firing time or so, since we will have to remain on site for the cooling also. Or perhaps, we may explore building the kiln here in someones backyard. More things to explore and ideas to pursue that call me away from folding laundry and doing dishes. But alas, the family deserves my care, and so I part for another day.

Crocheted Jacket and a New Idea

Today I thought I would share with you my crocheted jacket. This is the first garment I crocheted. It is all granny squares as you can see. And it was an exceedingly simple construction.

I used Red Heart acrylic yarns, because it was what I had. I also have some bits of scraps from my yarn stash here and there. Each square is four rounds, with three different colors for the center, and a black round for the border.

I made four half grannies for the neckline. Each sleeve is 4 wide by 4 squares long. The back is 6 squares by 5 squares. Each front is 6 squares tall and 3 squares wide, With the second row being 5 tall, and the third being 4 tall, with the half grannies stepping it down. So that is a total of 92 squares!

The bottom edge has squares that have a really intense red in them. It was a scrap ball and I managed to just get these squares out of it for the bottom edge.

It is all attached with a single crochet in black. I have been secretly debating about extending the bottom so it would be around mid-calf length. Right now it hits around mid-thigh.

I have not put an edging on it, since I keep thinking I am going to extend it. But in the meantime I haven’t been making granny squares either, so perhaps some day.

This is what I am currently working on now. The picture is my inspiration. I am making the basket. At first I thought about just using a coil method to weave the basket. But honestly, I haven’t done that since middle school, and I thought I might do better just simple crocheting.

I am crocheting over a piece of wire as I go, so that it will be a bit heavier and stiffer. I want to use it for dancing, just like in the photo. Weight is really important. I may even go grab my lead curtain weight and crochet over that for the base too.

Right now it is on an H hook, but I am thinking I might start working with two strands in each crochet and go up to an I or a J. I am still experimenting to get the look I want.

I am also going to browse the raffia when I go do the shopping this afternoon. Perhaps that will give me more the look I want.

This second photo shows the other colors I have picked out to add in later. The background will be the light tan color I already have in there.

I am excited to make one, because these big baskets are very hard to find around here. And I am not to keen on mail ordering something I want to be able to balance on my head. I like to try it on before buying, and with them running anywhere from $50 to $200 each, I want to make sure I get what I want.

So I am hoping this little experiment turns out well.

Crocheted Snoods

So, we have already established that I like to crochet. And, I think briefly we touched on my strange and twisted love of history. And hence another fusion of passions: snoods.

I am a practical kind of lady, and tend to look to the past for what other practical ladies did. Snoods fit the bill for me and my hip length hair.

These two snoods are both my own inventions for the patten. Modeled by looks on some I found from the Civil War era. I did try to find and then follow some patterns, but they always came out way too small. I have A LOT of hair, and I finally gave up and just kept trying it on as I went.

The tan colored one is actually some sort of chenille yarn from an exchange long ago. It turned out to be fairly stretchy after it was all crocheted up. But oh my! It was such a pain to frog it! In fact after trying to frog it twice, I gave up and just cut the yarn and started again.

The brighter yellow in the edge is a grosgrain ribbon that has a piece of elastic about an inch long holding the ends together. The elastic stays enclosed in the ribbon the whole time to allow it to slide inside the yarn. I wore it without the elastic for about a year, but by then it had stretched out a little too big, and it wasn’t staying on my head even with the hair pins.

The pattern is made of chains and treble crochets. I increased the number of chains between the tr on each round, joining the rounds. I then switched to a triangle pattern for the band done with double crochets.

The purple one is made from some gorgeous silk yarn that was a Yule present from a crocheting friend of mine. There is a piece of round elastic concealed in the last row of single crochets on the outside edge.

I like the way it turned into a sort of web pattern. And even though the holes get to be rather large before I gathered it back in for the edging band, it still holds my hair very well. The pattern is simply chains with single crochet attachments, worked in a spiral. I then switched to some sort of hexagonal/square pattern for the band, not really sure what it is, but it ended up looking nice!

Some snood trivia: Did you know snoods are more like hair nets than hair bags? You are meant to style your hair neatly and securely, then place the snood over the top to hold the style down during activity and wind. There are also two types of snoods, full head snoods, and low snoods, that hold the hair in a hanging bun at the nape of the neck. The low snoods are often connected to either a headband or a large barrette. Snoods are also usually made of yarns/threads with a lot of grip, so they hang on to the hair.

Crocheted Bookmarks

Today I thought I would share another one of my passions. Besides loving hats, I am a certified bibliophile (and a sesquipedalianistlogodaedaly to boot).

So to keep track of all of my reading pursuits, I have been crocheting bookmarks.

I like for each book to have its own special bookmark. There is something charming about knowing that this book means enough to have its own work of art crafted for it.

The top green one with the ribbons I worked up a little while back from a pattern I found online. It is cute, and I think I may work some more with some changes. It currently lives in a copy of the Zohar.

The bottom one I also found the pattern online. It was rather difficult at first to see how it was going to work out, but it turned out great, and is one of my favorites. It is currently residing in Mulesand Men, by Zora Neale Hurston.

The pink one is a filet design that I made up as I went. I originally was going to make a pattern from Llewellyn.com (unfortunately no longer available), but then when I got to the first filled square, I realized that it was design for a 4dc mesh with half squares, and I had only done a 3 dc mesh. So I just made up a goddess type pattern as I went.

I am not a fan of pink, but I had some left in my stash from my great grandmother. So I used up the last of one ball of pink, and then when I ran out, I grabbed another ball of a variegated pink and white to make the tassel and connecting chain out of. And I used up yet another little scrap of pink thread to tie the tassel with and create the neck. This pretty little number is living in “OverSea, Under Stone,” the first in the Dark Is Rising series by Susan Cooper. If you like the Harry Potter books, you should definitely check these out. I am re-reading them again, and I just love them.

The top two crocheted bookmarks here are the same pattern. Usually called a V shell, or just a shell pattern. My great grandma taught me this, and I have several variations of them around. One lives in TheHerbalist by Joseph E. Meyer. If you are interested in herbs, or old remedies, this is a book you simply must own. It is an invaluable reference. The other is spending some time in a collection of Sherlock Holmes stories: TheAnnotated Sherlock Holmes. The link is to a newer version than what I have.

The next one down in green with the six petaled flower is just something I made up one night. It is currently residing in “TheMystical Qabalah” by DionFortune. Another one of those books you must read if you are interested in Western Occultism. I am reading it again for the more-than-I-can-remembereth time.

The bottom white one was inspired by this patternfor a book thong. Of course I didn’t really follow the pattern. This one is living in Cleopatra- a Biography by Michael Grant. This book is a bit ehh. It is definitely history, and can be dry at times. I find myself putting it down often, even though I like the dates and names type of history reading. But a friend loaned it to me, saying that is was supposed to be the most complete look at her entire life, not just the parts she was famous for.

I still have lots of crochet thread left in my stash from my great grandmother. So I am off to make more bookmarks. If you have an odd or unusual pattern link, send it my way.

I found several of the patterns I used here.