Happy Ramblings

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Knitted moss stitch washcloths - pattern included

Over the past 2 weeks I have been spending a lot of time indoors due to the bad weather. I have been using my list of 20 Winter Comforts from my previous post quite a lot. Mainly spending my time reading and knitting.

I have had the urge to knit since Winter started, but didn't know what to knit. Then I saw knitted washcloths/dishcloths on another blog which looked very pretty and I found a cotton (30%) and bamboo (70%) mix yarn for sale in many different colours.

Later I finally saw cotton washcloths for sale in a gift shop. That made my mind up, I had to knit some washcloths.

I couldn't make my mind up on which colours to choose so I ended up buying 30 balls of 8-ply yarn. Two balls of each colour that I liked!

My reasoning behind buying so much is that the knitted washcloths are eco-friendly, being made from natural materials, and should last a long time. Better than the synthetic dishcloths I usually buy. I also think that cost-wise, in the long run, the knitted washcloths will cost me less. So I am telling myself that I am being thrifty as well.

Here is the pattern that I used to make the moss stitch washcloths:

Pattern

K = knit
P = purl

~ Cast on 57 stitches

~ Knit 8 rows in garter stich (each row knit)

Then work the following 4 row moss stitch pattern until the patterned area is square:

~ Row 1: K6 *P1,K1 Repeat from * to the last 5 stitches then K5

~ Row 2: K5, P1 *K1, P1 Repeat from * to the last 5 stitches then K5

~ Row 3: same as row 2

~ Row 4: same as row 1

Once the patterned area is square and ending on a row 1 or 3,

~ Knit 8 rows in garter stich (each row knit)

~ Cast off all stitches

~ Sew the ends in using a yarn needle.

I used 8-ply yarn which was a mix of 30% cotton and 70% bamboo.

You could also use a 100% cotton yarn instead.

To get the right tension I used 3 1/4 mm needles (the yarn label said to use 4 mm needles, but I found this to be too loose).

The pattern makes one 25 cm x 25 cm (10 inch x 10 inch) washcloth (which could also be used as a dishcloth).

One 50 gram ball of yarn makes one washcloth.

Happy knitting.

Lots of smiles.

Rose x

Saturday, June 13, 2020

20 Winter Comforts

It's that time of year again when the days are becoming shorter and darker and the nights are drawing in earlier. The cool weather is sneaking up on us. The temperature is dropping and here in Auckland it is a mild 16 C during the day and 11 C at night. Soon to get colder.

Winter has begun and I am well prepared against the Winter blues this year.

I've made an activity list, to help me stay happy throughout this Winter, which I would like to share with you.

The first 2 things on my list I have already completed and will repeat them again as needed throughout the Winter season.

1. Bring flowering plants or potted bulbs into the house

- Cyclamens (I managed to find miniature cyclamens on sale for $3 each)
- Hyacinths
- Grape hyacinths
- Miniature daffodils

2. Keep desk clean and tidy and fill with pretty things

- plants
- shells
- candles
- trinkets

3. Go for a walk

- Dress up warmly and get outside to soak up the sunshine when it shines.
- Dress up warmly and walk outside on the grass on a frosty morning. Listen to the frost crunching under foot.
- Take photos

4. Snuggle up inside on a dull or rainy day

- Wrap up in a cuddly blanket or warm throw rug
- Wear snuggly bed socks to warm your feet
- Cuddle a covered hot water bottle
- Read a good book or magazine
- Light a scented candle
- Listen to the rain on the roof while being warm and cosy inside

5. Have a home spa

- Pedicure (don't forget the nail polish)
- Manicure
- Relax in a hot bubble bath with scented candles
- Rich hair treatment mask
- Scented moisturisers
- Beautiful scented soaps

6. Create something beautiful

- Colouring in
- Tapestry
- Cross-stitch
- Make a piece of jewellery
- Crochet
- Knit

7. Plan the Spring vegetable garden

- Draw a plan on grid paper
- Sort out seeds already on hand
- Order more seed if needed
- Work out dates to sow each vegetable indoors or directly into the ground

8. Make a delicious hot drink

- Hot chocolate with frothy milk and marshmallows on top
- Hot blackcurrant juice
- A pot of English Breakfast tea served in favourite cup
- Hot lemon, honey and ginger drink

9. Phone friends and family for a chat

- Phone rather than text or email

10. Cuddle cats

- Cuddle and play with the cats
- Take cats for a walk on the land

11. Watch TV on-demand

- Gardener's World
- Escape to the Chateau
- Doc Martin
- Binge on box-sets

12. Watch beautiful Winter sunrises and sunsets

- Watch the sunrise or sunset from inside the house
- Take photos

13. Blog

- Write blog posts
- Take photos for blog
- Read and answer blog comments
- Comment on other people's blogs

14. Play games or do puzzles

- Jigsaw puzzles
- Crossword puzzles
- Puzzle books
- Board games
- Computer games

15. Watch YouTube

- Funny animal videos
- Funny cat videos

16. Bake something

- Chocolate brownies
- Mid Winter Christmas cake
- Make Russian fudge

17. Practice gratitude

- Each day, in a notebook, write down 3 things that you are grateful for and 3 things that you enjoyed today.

18. Meditate using Mindfulness CDs

- Ten minutes a day

19. Have an early night

- Read a good book in bed
- Have a cup of hot chocolate
- Fluffy warm duvet
- Hot water bottle

20. Have something to look forward to every day

- Plan your day

Use ideas on this list or think of other things to stay toastie indoors or adventure outdoors.

I hope that you can stay relaxed and happy during the cooler days of Winter.

Can you think of anything that you would like to add to this list?

See you soon

Hugs

Rose x

Saturday, June 6, 2020

A week into Winter

Winter arrived here in New Zealand a week ago, but where I am in Auckland it feels more like late Spring. At least the plants seem to think this.

There are new buds on the chestnut tree, sycamore trees and the viburnums. The camelias have flower buds on, which are starting to open, and the freesias, daffodils, ixias and babiana have sprouted from their bulbs.

I hope that the plants don't go into shock when the cold weather hits.

The red hot pokers (kniphofia) have now opened and are putting on a magnificent display.

We have got quite a few red hot pokers now. They have self-seeded in many sheltered spots, much to the enjoyment of the wax eyes which love to feed on the nectar. (We occasionally get tuis feeding on the nectar as well).

The wax eyes descend on the red hot pokers in large flocks and fly from one flower to the next very quickly. I tried to catch them on camera, but unfortunately all I get is a blur.

This week I have been trying to get out into the garden as much as possible between the rain showers. It is still warm enough for me to go outside in a T-shirt without a cardigan. But gumboots are necessary as the ground is getting a little squishy.

The vegetable garden is coming on well. We have harvested about a third of the radishes now. They are yummy, nice and crisp and moist and not too hot for me. I love eating them dipped in butter.

Today I saw our first snow pea growing. It is 1 cm long. So it looks like the bees have been around pollinating the flowers. I wonder how long it will be before the peas will be ready to pick? Yum!

While it has been raining I have spent my time tucked up inside reading a book on surviving the Winter months called Making Winter by Emma Mitchell. And I am also reading through a couple of gardening books to see what I can do in the vegetable patch over Winter.

What comforting things do you like to do during the Winter months to avoid the Winter doldrums?

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Hugs,

Rose x

Sunday, May 31, 2020

7 simple pleasures this week

1. The scent of a rose

My Wedding Bells carpet rose is my favourite rose. It's scent is gorgeous and it has decided to start flowering for the 3rd time this year! We have had an unbelievably warm Autumn, which has confused a lot of my plants, and Winter starts tomorrow! I spent ages looking at the rose, smelling it and then taking photos.

The scent of this rose reminds me of my childhood in England where we had abundant roses growing in our garden. My best friend wanted to show me how to make perfume out of rose petals. So we picked every single rose in the garden and mashed the petals to a pulp with water. The smell was divine while we were preparing the perfume. But not so heavenly after a week in a bottle. My father didn't say a word, amazing.

2. A stroll around our land

We had a few days without rain despite the weatherman forecasting rain all week. So I made the most of it by going for some leisurely walks around our land with my cats Abby and Otto. My cats always come with me wherever I walk on the land. They get all excited and run up and down the trees.

3. Discovering the umbrella grass

I found that the umbrella grass patch has sprouted up again with beautiful green leaves. It has even started to flower. The seasons really are mixed up.

4. My nephew's nature collection

A few years ago I encouraged my young nephew to start a nature collection. I gave him a large shoe box with a lid and we went hunting on the land for little treasures. Now at age 10 my nephew still has his collection and still adds to it. I help him also by keeping my eyes open on my walks, for natural things to add.

On my latest walk I found a monarch butterfly which had died and was lying amongst the dried brown fallen sycamore leaves. It was just by fluke that I spotted it as it was quite camouflaged. My sister-in-law is very squeamish when it comes to insects, so she won't be happy with this find.

I also found 2 feathers, one from a magpie and the other from a pheasant, chestnuts in their prickly cases and a pine cone. I can't wait until I see my nephew again. I haven't seen him since lockdown started.

5. The first snow pea flowers

This afternoon I went to have a look at the vegetable patch and found that the snow peas had started to flower. I was really surprised as it doesn't seem so long ago that I sowed the seeds. Fingers crossed that the bees and other insects will still be around to pollinate them as the weather cools.

6. Planting more vegetables

Dad finished clearing and digging the remaining half of our enclosed vegetable patch this week, then he bought some seedlings to plant. The garden centres are now open with plenty of stock and luckily weren't too busy. We felt that it was too late in the season, with the colder weather coming, to try to grow these from seed.

We planted; celery, lettuce, curly kale, more kohlrabi and sprouting broccoli. Then protected against slugs with slug pellets the next day because the slugs had had a feast in the night on our new veggies, grrr.

7. An afternoon tea treat

I bought a box of Mr Kipling's French Fancies as a treat this week. They are imported from England and I found them when I was doing our grocery shopping online. They are little petit fours made of light sponge and icing. They went perfectly with my Twinings English Breakfast tea. Yum!

What things have you enjoyed this week?

Looking forward to hearing from you :)

Rose x

Edit: Post linked to "My Corner of the World" at the Photographing New Zealand blog

Monday, May 25, 2020

It's bright red and spotty all over!

The fly agaric mushrooms, amanita muscaria, have opened up at last underneath our chestnut tree. It all looks very autumnal with the chestnuts and brown leaves scattered amongst them on the ground.

You can now see the white gills underneath the mushrooms and the remnants of the veil (the white frilly bit on the stem).

The warty white spots, dotted over the red, were once part of the veil that covered the whole mushroom.

Slugs have had a great time munching on the mushrooms leaving big gaping holes. But don't be fooled, these mushrooms are highly poisonous to humans.

I went for a walk in the light drizzling rain this afternoon to take these last two photos. The cloudy weather and water have made the colours in the mushrooms really pop out.

The mushrooms look like they could have come out of a fairytale. All we need are some little elves and goblins in the photos!

I am getting happier all the time with my new cell-phone camera. It is much better and easier to use than my old camera. I can now take clear close-up photos. Big smiles :)

Hugs

Rose x

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

My Autumn vegetable garden is growing well

We didn't grow any vegetables over Summer this year because the weather was so very hot and dry. The soil was as hard as concrete, impossible to dig. We hadn't intended on doing anything with the vegetable patch through Autumn either, due to the continuing drought.

Then lockdown occurred so suddenly. People started panicking over possible food shortages and a lot were bulk buying, leaving shelves in grocery stores empty. Dad was getting very worried, it reminded him of his experience of severe food shortages during World War 2. So we talked and decided to ressurect the veggie patch again.

Luckily we'd had some rain at this time which had softened the ground up a bit, enabling it to be cleared and dug over. Dad fixed the fences around the vegetable enclosure to stop (or try to stop) the cats from digging in the soil and also to stop the pukekoes from raiding the patch.

Buying vegetable seedlings was impossible for us because the garden centres were all closed. The only thing we had available to use were packets of seeds left over from previous years. Some of the seed was past its use-by date, but we decided to try using it anyway. We also had some potatoes in the pantry that had started sprouting.

We decided to grow mostly Winter vegetables:

- Silverbeet (Swiss chard)
- Kohlrabi
- Pak Choi
- Sprouting broccoli
- Snow peas
- Potatoes

As well as some quick growing vegetables:

- Radishes (German Giant, French Breakfast and White Icicle)
- Mesclun
- Dill

The mesclun grew very quickly and was ready to start harvesting after a month. I pick individual mesclun leaves from the plants as the plants will keep on growing. I love cut-and-come-again plants like this.

The snow peas are doing very well too, despite the seed being so old. I covered the snow pea seeds with wet paper towels overnight before sowing them. I think that that helped.

(If you look carefully at the bottom right of the snow pea photo, above, you will see my cat Abby trying to figure out a way into the veggie patch!)

The dill has grown prolifically this time. It is the best success we have ever had with dill germinating. The seeds used had been gathered and dried in previous years.

It is really too early to harvest any dill yet as the plants have only just started growing. But I needed 1/2 a cup for a recipe I was making. I took a couple of leaves from some of the plantlets, just enough for my meal, I think they will be okay. Fingers crossed.

Everything grew apart from the kohlrabi and silverbeet, which is a pity because I like these. I did find a perpetual silverbeet seedling in one of the old overgrown vegetable patches that I will transplant.

But first I need to do some more weeding. The weeds are growing as fast as the vegetables. I notice the weeds more in the photos than in the garden! Dad removed tonnes of oxalis, but didn't manage to get all of it out. We don't use any chemical sprays, so this means finding the oxalis bulbs and picking them out by hand. I wish the slugs would eat them instead of my vegetables.

Thanks for stopping by. See you again soon.

Hugs

Rose x