Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas recap: Quillows

I liked this project so much the last time I made it that I decided to have another go and I made not one, but TWO quillows this Christmas, one for my mom and one for Aunt E.

Unlike the one I made for myself, I didn't want to overload these with pattern, so I chose one large pattern and one solid for each, with matching but complimentary striped fabric for the pillow.

I think they came out really well, though if you look at the close ups of the fabric you can see that I have some issues with the fabric pulling as I sew it. Along the way there are all of these unexpected darts created that I don't know how to deal with. Any ideas?

Overall I'm incredibly pleased with how they came out, and after a bit of struggling it's good to know that my old sewing machine is still an incredible asset. I might have to try some more patterns soon!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas recap: Mom's fancy socks

Now that most of my gifts have been received I can tell you what they were! Here's my second pair of socks, made for my mom using the same pattern as the first, but with a different variation. Raveled here. I used one skein of gorgeous Mountain Colors Bearfoot yarn in Harmony Plum and I still have a large ball left over. I might try to make one more pair with it, with much shorter cuffs.

I made this pair with the "mini-faux cable" ribbing and a textured heel. I love the way the patterns came out; the only problem is that the entire sock is reinforced except for the bottom of the foot, which is the most important part. I told my mom she's not allowed to walk around the house in them because I think they will wear thin too quickly.

I'm so proud!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

White Christmas

Well, at least I can pretend.

Merry Christmas!!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Fall CSA pilot

In the months of October and November, Nic and I ran a pilot CSA program from the Walnut Hill Community Farm. We offered six families a box of veggies every two weeks (a total of four boxes), and in return they came to a focus group to give us feedback for next year. It was pretty successful, and the best part is that we made some great friends in the neighborhood! And since I love taking pics of my own CSA box, you can imagine how many pics I took of the ones we were making up. Here are a bunch of them, and here's the post Nic wrote about it on the Philly Rooted website.

Week 1: Swiss chard, green onions, purple heirloom potatoes, beans, thyme, oregano, dill, cherry tomatoes and small bell peppers.

Week 2: Swiss chard, mustard greens, beans, rosemary, hot and sweet peppers.

Week 3: Swiss chard, mustard greens, kale, mesclun mix, dill, thyme and parsley.

Week 4: Swiss chard, beets, kale, mustard greens, thyme, parsley, dill and dried basil.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

O Tannenbaum

We had our annual Wigillia dinner this weekend, complete with home-made pierogies made by me and my parents. This year we used the recipes we learned in Poland last Christmas and they were much easier to make. The key is that the filling has to have a cookie dough-like consistency so you can roll it up in a ball and it won't ooze out while you're boiling them. Here's the original recipe post, just adjust it to incorporate this new tip.

I also went with my parents to pick out their Christmas tree, at an actual Christmas tree farm that my dad found a few towns away from theirs in suburban New Jersey. We were all kind of shocked to find it and to see the acres and acres of trees that we never knew were there!

I'm also busy busy busy with other preparations, mostly secretive at this point. But some gifts have already been wrapped, which strangely is one of my favorite parts of Christmas. I just love to plop down in front of the TV with my newspaper or paper shopping bags, scissors, tape, and ribbon and just go to town.

Four days to go!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mooshes Takes a Bath

Take one warm and sunny November day, add a tub of warm water and a surprisingly patient dog, and you get cuteness. Every time.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

'Tis the Season

Back in November I organized a make-your-own wreaths class at Urban Jungle and it was great fun! I had a great time gathering supplies (with help from my parents): we collected fir and pine boughs from their home in NJ, and then I collected cedar and many other interesting greens and natural materials for people to use, including pine and fir cones, bittersweet berry vine, rosemary, cinnamon sticks, dried mushrooms, star anise, holly, sweet gum fruits, moss, and lots more.

We used wire bases or grapevine bases - the grapevine worked better because it takes a long time to make a wreath and people liked doing half of it and having the grapevine show through for the rest. Plus, they're cheaper.

I saved a lot of materials with the intention of making my own wreath, but by the time I got to them they had mostly dried up. So I used fir cones, a pine twig, and dried mushrooms to make this little beauty:

I'm pretty happy with it, and since M and I are still in discussions about Christmas decorating in our interfaith house, I think it's appropriate. I got the mushrooms from a local Vietnamese grocery store and I LOVE them.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 9, 2010


While I was on my computer hiatus I started in on my holiday gift-making. Some of them can't be posted here because of prying eyes, but some have already been given and/or will go to people who don't read my blog.

The first project was my very first pair of socks! I used the pattern "Sock Basics" by Chris de Longpre, from www.KnittingatKNoon.com (Raveled). I bought the pattern and the yarn, Filatura Di Crosa Zara Chine, at a lovely knitting store in South Philly called Loop. It's a gorgeous place with friendly people who helped me find a good "first sock" pattern. They even suggested I use a larger yarn to make the knitting easier. What they didn't mention is that larger yarn = larger sock. So these will be for my Dad. But it was incredibly easy and I'm already almost half way through my second pair of socks (I'll have to post about that after the gifting is over).

I also finished up my Califon Cowl (Raveled) and gifted it to my future mother-in-law for Channukah. It was a sinch and I think I'm going to make another one for someone else for Christmas (secrets are so hard when it comes to crafting for the holidays!).

There's more holiday crafting to come!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I'm back!

After several weeks of searching for the right set-up at the right cost (as low as possible), I now have a laptop with a broken screen, hooked up to an old apple desktop display, connected by the rarest and most expensive computer adapter cord in the history of mankind. I managed to source all of these things on craigslist, so the whole thing cost me about $100.

We also moved M's music studio equipment out of our bedroom and into his new studio (aka the basement) so now I have a workspace that is all MINE, MINE I TELL YOU, MWAHAHAHAHAH! Ahem. It may not look like much, but I get a little excited about it.

So now, back your the regularly scheduled posts.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Technical Difficulties

Sorry guys, I'm going to be MIA for a bit. I had this horrible virus last week that knocked me out with a 103 fever for five days straight (I'm better now) but now my laptop screen has gone almost entirely kaput. I can only see the things that are in the top 1/3 of the screen. Not very helpful. So I'll be back to report on my knitting and other activities as soon as I can get this bugger figured out. Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Rekindling the Fiber Love

I've been fiber-inspired recently because I found this hilarious podcast, The Knit Wits. It's a husband and wife team who podcast out of Tennessee and have a wonderful repore with one another. They usually end up talking about lots of things other than knitting, like "what's in your wine glass?" and these pirate stories that the husband, Rick, tells (he's in radio/voice-overs and you can tell by his incredible voice).

So dug into my stash and pulled out a beautiful Malabrigo yarn in fall-type colors and started a cowl. I had to unwind the boring one I started a few months ago to start this new one, the Califon Cowl by Lelah Olender.

I also dropped by Rosie's Yarn Cellar and Loop, two great stores here in Philadelphia to bulk up my staff. I got a great deal on some Koigu yarn in a beautiful seashore color (four skeins for $20!).

I also picked up a simple sock pattern and some yarn to knit my very first socks! Wish me luck, I'll need it.

Oh, and of course I'm on Ravelry where you can see the shameful WIP that I started almost a year ago, the Balthazar Vest.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Friday, November 5, 2010


Exciting news everyone!

My garden/farming partner Nic and I have decided to take our partnership one step further and start to brand ourselves and write our own grants with the goal of (sometime in the future) being able to support ourselves on our urban agriculture projects alone!

It's an exciting step, and it's actually a process we started back in August. The first thing we did was talk to our non-profit partners and tell them what our goals and intentions are. UC Green offered to be our fiscal sponsor, which we are incredibly glad and grateful for because we can use their non-profit status to write grants. And we've written two grants since then and been awarded both of them! They are both small community grants (and most of that money goes towards materials for specific projects), but still!

And of course we needed a name and a website to feel legitimate. The name took some brainstorming, and we thought long and hard about it. We came up with "Philly Rooted," and we had our friend make us a logo:

Rad, right?

The website development took a little bit longer, but we finally got it all together: www.phillyrooted.org. Check it out and let me know what you think.

This also means that I will start posting more of my farm and garden posts there, in addition to posting at Farm to Philly. I will try to keep this blog up-to-date with my knitting, making, baking, and thrifting activities. The fall weather (and upcoming "holiday season") has me back into my knitting, which I will post about next week (I just got some beautiful yarn and might even try a pair of socks soon!). I also just found this adorable podcast The Knit Wits, which has got me all fiber inspired again.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Veggies Powering Veggies


Nic and I delivered the second CSA box to our families in Walnut Hill: Swiss chard, mustard greens, beans, cayenne and habanero hot peppers, green bell peppers and rosemary.

We pulled the warm season crops and sowed cover crop; rye grass in the middle rows and clover in the long side rows, under the fall crops. The farm is looking good!

We also have some exciting news: Nic purchased a veggie truck! It's a small VW truck that is powered by diesel fuel and used veggie oil from nearby businesses. We delivered our boxes in the truck and were really excited to show it off. Veggie oil powering veggie delivery!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Extending the Season

A few weeks ago my friend Sally and I held a cold frame workshop at The Woodlands Community Garden. Sally is a community gardening guru, the person who runs the Garden Tenders program at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society that I love so much.

A cold frame is like a mini greenhouse that you can use to cover a small part of your garden or place in the grass to start seedlings in. It warms the air and soil underneath it so you can grow crops even in the snow! Of course, you are limited by the height of the cold frame.

I'm using mine to cover the carrot seedlings I have in my plot with the hopes that I can warm the soil enough to get them to a decent harvest-able size before too long. We used aluminum and glass windows that we picked up for free in the trash, and some recycled plastic wood for the sides. The window simply sits on the top of the frame in our design, but you can attach it with a hinge for a fancier version.

Happy gardening!