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The High Country Knitwear Newsletter

With a new Cowboy Hat on the needles, I thought how nice it would be to have a permanent copy of the Bearberry Band—one that wouldn’t get ratty and stained with overuse.  I thought I’d design a Café Press mug and put the chart for the band on that.   It was relatively easy, and once I had this one-off in hand and found it satisfactory--you can order one at a time or dozens--I  designed three more—the Dancing Children and the Wave Pattern from the Peruvian series, and the Musher’s Band with the doggie pawprints. 

Then three knitting bags. 

I ordered one of each.  They’d all turned out pretty well, so they’re available, in case any of you want to buy them.  Just click the Café Press button, order what you want, pay for it with a credit card, and they will send it to you.  I can’t even begin to imagine the computer technology and the printing technology that permits this, but it’s mind-blowing.

front garden peoniesOtherwise, around here, it’s been weed, water, mulch, and deadhead.  And reorganize the stash.

This year, my daughter came for her birthday, and admired what I’ve done with what was, when I got here, a weed patch of epic proportions.  Two entire trees needed to be taken down, a big apple was in desperate need of pruning, and a hackberry and an ash, suffering from stripping by squirrels,  looked to be dying, but have flourished since pruning and feeding.

I kept only five plants in front—three roses in need of pruning, one gigantic and vigorous white peony as old as the house (1922), and a patch of vinca in need of water.  I dug out weeds and unbeautiful plants, pruned the old roses and several lilacs in hopes that they would bloom, and added a few more plants.  This year, one front bed looks like this.

I’m still fighting with the Virginia Creeper that once covered the chimney and two of the living room windows, and I capped the war on weeds by doing what I could to dig out one nondescript bush that finally took a powerful haul from a kind neighbor who volunteered his truck and a length of chain to drag out roots the size of a truck tire.

back garden peoniesIn back, a row of antique peonies had been so overgrown with weeds that the previous owner had not known they were there, and had run the lawnmower over them while the house was for sale.  Recognizable only by a few struggling leaves sticking out of the “lawn”, they got marked, papered on each side for my first winter here, and then mulched over the paper. That next spring, I laboriously dug a full bed around them, amended it and edged it, and hoped for the best, gingerly planting new plants around them—a couple of roses, another couple of peonies in case the old ones couldn’t be saved, some true gerania in pinks and blues, more veronica than now seems quite sensible, and pink oenothera, called here “Mexican poppies,” probably because they are neither Mexican nor poppies.

Neighbors were generous with cuttings, including many iris splits,  supplemented by more from Nola’s, in San Jose—getting no farther than “B” on their tempting alphabetical listing of their catalogue. 

When the tipsy old porch came off and the new one went up, the dangerous and ugly old concrete steps at the side were jackhammered out, since new steps were going in front. 

Zephirine front bedWhere the steps had been, I began a tiny bed, much amended.  For that, I bought a Zephyrine Drouhin rose, the great, thornless climber that covers Monet’s home at Giverny in France.  Sheltered from wind by the porch, it has thrived, as you can see at right.

The same bed also has blue edged  white iris, delphinia, and Asiatic lilies.  And my friend Shannon--artist, knitter, and welder--is designing a trellis for it.  It is assuredly going to need training, since it’s this large at the age of 3.

Knitting:  a pair of mittens for a friend who injured her hand—a not-quite-matching pair, with a full mitten for the injured hand, and a matching fingerless one so she can handle car keys, cell phone, and coffee with her right. 


Blanket squaresNow I’m on to a garter-stitch log cabin blanket, with squares in white, sage green, dark green, periwinkle blue, and ink blue, destined for a grand-neice, Addison, due in October.  It’s a perfect summer project, because the little squares are quick to do, and light; never does one have a huge project across her lap on a warm evening, at least not until the pieces come together.  Here are some squares laid out on the ottoman on the porch, on the way to 35 in all, and a crib blanket five squares by seven. Mine are in knitting worsted, on #7s, with a 10-stitch x 20 row/10 ridge square as a starter.

To make identical garter squares, being careful to make each one alike, follow this sequence:  1) Center square, 2) contrast square , 3) contrast rectangle, 4) contrast rectangle, 5) contrast strip across three colors.  There are an infinite number of variations, of course, and you can make up your own, larger or smaller, in any colors you want

Square 1:  In purl, cast on ten stitches, work 19 more rows even in garter stitch (knit every rows).  Bind off in K.
Square 2:  From the right side of square 1, pick up 10 stitches in K, work 19 more rows (10 ridges) in knit.  Bind off in K.
Rectangle 1:  From the right sides of squares 1 and 2, pick up 20 stitches in K, work 19 more rows (10 ridges) in K.  Bind off in K.
Rectangle 2:  Across the side of the work that now puts Rectangle 1 next to Square 1, Pick up 20 stitches in K, work 19 more rows (10 ridges) in K.  Bind off in K
Long strip:  From the right side of the work that now has squares 1 and 2 and one end of Rectangle 2, pick up 30 stitches in K, work 19 more rows (10 ridges) in K, bind off in K

Here are the mugs and the bags:

Bags and Mugs from HCK

And if you like them enough to make a purchase, the button will take you to the site.

As summer comes on, I hope you all have a fine one, and that you can find something easy to knit, and not too heavy.  If I don’t knit for awhile, it takes me time to find my rhythm when I start again.   In summer, I work on anything that isn’t going to become too large and warm when I’m working it—mittens, scarves, hats, sweaters knit back and forth, vests, hats, and things that can be made in squares and put together.  I hate being in a knitting frenzy just before Christmas, though I tend to give away warm things as soon as the weather gets cold, especially my bag of hats for the homeless, which are great summer knitting.

Knit on,


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