The Knitting Nurse

Rambles and Travels

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Mt. Baker – A Much Needed Trip-That started in the Trees

A few weeks ago I enjoyed 5 days off, spending 4 on the road and one at home.  Not yet dipping into the Cascades, I chose the north section of Mt. Baker Nat’l Forest out Hwy 542 from Bellingham. I figured it would be quieter than the lower portion of the wilderness, out hwy. 20.

Rain greeted me. Sweet, wet, drizzly, foggy rain. And it didn’t bother me a bit.  It’s bone dry out here. WA state to CA is crispy, fires burn everywhere. Not sure what the statistics are.  I tried to look them up but couldn’t find them.  Funny, look for a cat video and there are millions. Ask Google what the Port Townsend WA year to date precipitation figure is and nada.

But I don’t need numbers to tell you our average 19″ per year is sorely short. There are water restrictions in place (not firm enough in my opinion) and concern for enough potable water come September.

So, rain, I reveled in it.

On arrival, I scooted to the end of the hwy to Artists Point, not sure why as I should have known it would be socked in but I still needed to go. The rain was falling sideways and I could hardly see my hand in front of my face. Obviously, no photos taken but this one I took on the way up. That was, maybe, 8 (?) miles from the top.


Retreating down, I set up camp and went for a stroll along Horseshoe Bend Trail, an easy sub-three-mile level walk along the Nooksack River.  It starts across the rd. from the Douglas fir campground.

The river roared so loud I at first thought I was hearing airplanes overhead.

This photo is from farther up the river but it shows you a sampling of the lush, green, thick vegetation along the river.


Trees, dripping in moss,  arch over the trail in places. Enchanting.


These pic are awful, fuzzy, I wonder if there was some condensation on the lens?  Ooops.


This fallen Cedar was almost 6′ in diameter. Now a nurse log, its occupants were pretty thick, they’ve been there awhile. DSCF5628

Lichen, sculptural in form:


Stressed, tired and needing to unwind I plunked down on a rocky river bank and drifted away, letting the sounds and sights soften and blur.

It must be the glacial melt that colors the water this opaque, pale mineral green.

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On the way out I stopped and had a gander at some Devils club plants. These things are gnarly!

What you don’t see in this pic is the underside of the leaves and the stems.


Look underneath and behold, one helluva defense system. Even the ribs on the leaves have spikes on them.


Growing 1-3 meters tall (I’ve seen them close to 3 meters tall) this shrub is related to ginseng. White flowers turn to scarlet berries. Inedible for humans, bears love them. Home in the PNW coastal areas, they like low, wet but somewhat drained areas. This plant still has oodles of medicinal uses.

After the walk I retired to camp, ate and plunked into a chair under a ring of cedars. They were my umbrella, keeping me and my knitting dry. It was a lovely day, a much-needed exploration.

Next post: Getting Above Treeline


Sewing Stuff-Cushions, A Shower Curtain, and a Flashback

I’ve been stricken with the plague. Most of the last 7 days I’ve spent asleep or in a stupor.  Today was a breakthrough in that I enjoyed a whole press-pot of coffee this AM. I also mustered up the energy to weave in the ends on a few knitting projects which are now blocking.  Some are a top-secret so pics will have to wait until I gift them.  In the meantime,  I’ve a few sewing projects to share.


The cotton velvet orange lumbar cushion I made with an exposed zipper. I like its gold teeth next to the orange fabric. I’ve a thing for navy and orange these days.

These new cushions sewn for my couch brighten up the room and the colors work well with a new quilt.  Here’s a pic of it all spread out on the back fence (before I quilted it).


To my delight, I found this slice of yellow embroidered silk and solid red silk in my stash. I don’t remember buying either. What a find! With just a sliver of the yellow, I used every inch as an insert into the red front. Two solid, navy pillows, deco-abric from Britex in San Francisco (I do remember buying that) help settle down the riot of colors. I think…sorta.


A floor cushion was a breeze to make. At the local Habitat for Humanity thrift shop I found a length of woven, obviously imported fabric, though I’m not sure from where.  A huge, firmly stuffed pillow (conveniently there as well) makes for a comfy seat.


Isn’t it pretty?  There’s metallic gold thread in there.


This orange pillow slip has a history, one I first shared with you back in 2008.  Made in India, I purchased it at the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe while living and working in Albuquerque.  It’s been in many different homes with me.  Just look at all that dense hand stitching.  Colored thread on the yellow background denotes areas of color. It depicts women cooking, doing tasks, using a hand water pump. Check out the propane stove in the lower right hand corner.  I just love this piece. And I love the memories associated with this road trip and the festival I attended.  Next year it’s scheduled for July 8-10.  How I’d love to return.

Why’s it so special? Since 2004, more than 750 artists from 92 countries have sold and displayed their art.  They receive 90% of the profits.  Total sales, thus far, exceed $21 million. You can see photos of artists working their craft on this old post I made in 2008. I don’t know why WordPress has changed all the formatting making it look odd. Never-the-less, I just enjoyed revisiting the photos.


Ok. The shower curtain.  After making our new bed quilt, being in the fabric stash-diving mode, I figured out how to make a shower curtain using 16 fat quarters.


After trimming all to the same size, I laid them out in a pleasing manner and seamed them up. All seams I serged.  Needing length, and to help meld the riot of patterns, I added a header with buttonholes in the most fabulous salmon color.

Piece of cake!  What a great way to use up fat quarters. One could slowly collect a bunch for this, or purchase a set.  Hmmm…

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Welcome to the Backyard-Flowers and Veggies

Hey folks.  I’ve been really sick this week. Today, however,  I’ve enough oomph to finish this draft I started THREE weeks ago.  I’d like to get caught up. I have some beautiful pics to share from a trip one year ago, some knitting and sewing projects to share, and much more.  With rest, I hope to publish some more posts this weekend.

A few weeks ago I gave you a tour of the front yard’s gardening.

Since then, I’ve painted the porch ceiling sky blue (seen drying in the photo below) and the decking in this really cool Behr paint called  DeckOver.  Like painting on brownie batter, it has non-slip traction in it and filled in the wood’s scratched up surface well.


This product is like magic, erasing scuffed up wood, easing a Virgo’s mind. IMG_6272

Voila!  Much better.  The steps will have a rebuild later this month, becoming wider and more safe with a hand rail.  photo-5

Moving on to the backyard. This space will eventually have a large deck, a garden shed, a firepit/outdoor oven as well as a greenhouse.  A chicken coop will likely go up next spring.  I think.  Probably.

The arbor Pete built last summer to woo me  (It worked!)  marks the start of a path we’re carving out of overgrown brambles in the back corner of the lot.  It will take time (and convincing the roses to not grow back so thickly…yah right) to create a blend of native plant and watercourse gardens. You wouldn’t know it now (drought…big time) but it’s quite a low, water catching spot in the wet months.  Remember all those wheelbarrows of clay and sand I mentioned in the last post?  They are becoming a raised pathway.


A deep purple clematis and pale yellow honeysuckle now course up one side of the arbor and a lovely pink honeysuckle just got planted next to the other side.  Shade annuals, a couple rhodies (one surprised me with the most gorgeous purple blooms), a lovely yellow rose rescued from an overplanted spot up front and some raspberries and rhubarb a kind neighbor donated to the cause define this corner.




A delicata, acorn, yellow and zucchini squash spill onto the lawn. I try and catch the fruits when small.  Out of town two weeks ago, a giant zucchini got away from me and will likely be shredded and frozen for future breads.


Moving over to the veggie beds. Two raised beds make good use of the sunniest corner of the yard.


A fledgling-photo of the first raised bed, freshly planted:


Bush beans in the newest raised bed grew like mad once the early, hot weather arrived.  Being too sick to play outdoors this week, they beg for picking and either freezing or being canned as dilly beans. Mmmm…I need more oomph!


The early heat and strong sun made the basil happy.


Now finished, loads of sugar snap and snow peas climbed the fence.  Most were eaten while just standing there.


Pink Nasturtiums?  Why, yes!  I’ll be saving its seed for next year. So pretty! DSCF5532

I can never get enough pansies. These went in early and are still flourishing despite the heat. DSCF5537

Three sunflower varieties went in. Giant Jerusalem Artichoke tubers I plunked in the ground, as an experiment, have now grown to near- two inch stalks. I eagerly await their sunflower-like flowers.   DSCF5553

Lupine with hollyhock behind it:


Daisies – Like nasturtiums, I can’t get enough of them. I found a ruffled version for the front as well as new brown eyed susans. DSCF5558


And check this out+++++a family heirloom plant known to us as “Tall Yellow Flowers” survived a plane trip home in April and transplantation into my garden.


Originating in my mom’s great-grandparent’s Hinkley, MN farm these beauties landed in my now deceased grandma’s yard ages ago.  All sisters and my mom have transplanted clumps from there and now I have some here in Washington.  This makes me oh so happy. A few flowers proudly display, now, promising to grow to voluminous proportions. Next year, I won’t plant the sunflowers next to them.  In this blog post, you will see a grand display in my sister Ali’s former back yard.

As a final treat, while laying on the grass and soaking in the evening this little hummingbird paid me a visit, slipping from gladiola to gladiola. i can’t figure out which type it it. Anyone?  Must be a female.


It enjoyed a rest stop, just as I was.


Gardening’s become a form of both relaxation and exercise, mind therapy, a creative outlet, and a way to personalize our home. It evolves and teaches me many lessons.

Thanks for sharing it with me.

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Welcome to My Garden-The Front yard

Last summer I posted gardening pics, at my rental home, sharing the process from fledgling to full grown. This year, I’ve been so busy (sigh…) I missed out on sharing the fledgling pics.

A few days of much needed rain have plumped up and greened the garden.  It’s been a bone dry summer.  We skipped spring, prompting us to think about putting into place water catchment systems before the winter rains start. How I hope they do.

Anyone have any experience with this? I’m thinking beyond the rain barrel and about digging in tanks for rain water and maybe even grey water.

This is my first home. My first owned home.  And I have to share with you just how happy, giddy really, and proud I feel each time I step out into the yard. It was a blank slate, barren, lifeless upon receipt last September.  I can’t find a ‘before’ pic anywhere. Huh.

After countless wheelbarrows of moved soil (sand-capped clay, quite useless to plant in) the amendment began. We had 8 yards of compost enriched soil delivered.   Pete’s an animal. He loves to dig and move dirt around.  Without his help this would be a very slooooooow project. Creating a beautiful space together is fulfilling in many ways.


On to the photos – starting with the front yard. A walk now leads from the sidewalk to the front steps.  Those front steps are getting an overhaul at the end of the month, becoming wider and more gracious (and safe – man are they narrow). I’ve painted the front door the closest color to the Golden Gate Bridge I can find, something I’ve dreamed of since first seeing its spans. The color is called Fireweed by Benjamin Moore. I have no idea why as it isn’t even close to fireweeds’ true color (magenta pink).  The porch ceiling I just painted sky blue.  More on that next time.  Again…another product of a repressed homeowner gathering ideas for nest-feathering over the years.

Pete made beautiful window boxes we hung under the front and side windows. They really spruce up a plain facade and are lovely to look at from the inside.


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As you can see, I have a thing for bright, primary colored plants – reds, oranges, purple and blue especially.  And nasturtiums…the more the better. I’m collecting the seeds to plant next year from several varieties.


Three bare root fruit trees went in in Feb.  There’s a Gravenstein apple tree, a grafted multi-vatiety tree (with wee honeycrisps growing) and a Frost Peach. I unfortunately didn’t notice the deer grazing the apple trees. Temporary deer fencing now guards them.  How lovely it will be when those trees begin to mature and leaf out providing some privacy and a pretty view from the indoors.


I’ve discovered fuschias, thanks to the help of Stephanie and Doyle at Egg and I Fuschias in Chimacum. That is a really fun place to visit, the number of varieties of fuschia (and some native plants) is staggering. Stepping into the greenhouse is like entering a magical world. Do see them if you are in this neck of the woods.  With Stephanies help, I brought home “Lena,” that’s her name…and the varieties name…to grace the front porch. She’s hardy and good for a fuschia newby such as I.


Three varieties I have in pots, maturing, to be transplanted into the ground.

This one is called Surprise and has loads of smaller blooms.


This one is called Army Nurse and has HUGE blooms.  She’s destined to be planted on the street side of the house.


I’ve interspersed herbs, chard, annuals and perinnials by the front the door. I really like having all mixed up together. In true rookie style I’ve over-planted and will need to transplant eventually.


Here’s bee balm in the brightest fuschia:


A purple basil that smells and tastes great:


A fiery red ecchniacea: DSCF5508

Most plants up front attract bees and butterflies, something I consider very important.

On to the back yard in the next post.


Kurt’s Quilt

It’s been gifted and the recipient loves it.  Now I can share.

I’d long planned on making this friend a quilt.

After auditioning many combinations, I settled on a grouping of reds, gold, rust, blue and purple batiks.  The pattern I chose was Limelight by Villa Rose Designs. I’ve sung their praise before.  I added three blocks to make it longer for his almost 6′ frame.  Quilts should cover one fully for naps, I think.  Robin at Robins Nest Custom Machine Quilting, back in MN, quilted it for me on longarm machine.

Here it hangs on the trusty backyard fence.  That’s the only spot I have for photographing quilts.


Close up details:


This was fun to make and great way to use batik fat quarters. I’ll surely be making it again.


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