The Knitting Nurse

Rambles and Travels


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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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.

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Here’s bee balm in the brightest fuschia:

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A purple basil that smells and tastes great:

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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.


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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.

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Close up details:

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


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On the Needles, Off the Needles and some Charitable Sewing

I’ve been a busy bee in the crafting department and not so much with the blog.

Just completing a major yarn and fabric destash,  I’ve decided to repurpose quite a bit of languishing stash into charitable knitting and sewing projects.

BTW, is it possible to ever completely destash?

In the past, I’ve knit for Afghans for Afghans. Conflict over there prevents any shipments. I’m knitting up quite the pile of mittens, hats and socks and sitting tight. I’ve my eye on another charity, however, called Wool Aid (Rav link)  (Website Link).  I found them on Ravelry. Depending on what happens with A4A, I may send a box off to Wool Aid.

I’ll photograph these later.

There’s another charitable knitting group on Ravelry that knits and sews for Syrian refugees. It’s called Hats and More for War Torn Syria.  I’ve been piecing up children’s quilt tops from bright fabrics in my stash that need a good home. There’s a gal that volunteers to long arm quilt and bind any top sent to her. What a saint!  It would take me hours to do that. She can zip those out in a flash.  I love piecing.  I don’t care for quilting once I’ve pieced.  What a match up!

The three quilt tops I’ve made up so far:

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This one below is mostly from leftover fat quarters from a grouping I purchased. The pattern I used is Sunsprite by Villa Rosa Designs. I just love their simple designs. Check out their website.

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A plus to these projects is the license to create, to go patternless, to really stretch what you can to with odds and ends. Below, I made a coin stack of scraps using fabric as a foundation.  I then applied strips to frame it and add more width.

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This last top started out as a cute border print I purchased ages ago with no intended project. I split it up and inserted a strip of leftover blocks from my niece’s quilt.

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Quilts are to be about 45-50″ in width and 50-60″ long. It’s a great size for a manageable project. I’ll be making many more.


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My Love Affair with the Maples – Anderson Lake Part Two

I have a thing for Big Leaf Maples. The first time I saw one was my first trip onto the Olympic Peninsula while walking in the Hoh Rainforest.

They are magnificent trees. Usually coated in green moss, they grow to great heights and have lush, full canopies of huge, impossibly green leaves. In the fall these leaves turn brilliant yellow.

Anderson Lake State Park has some fine specimens.

This one is huge, wide, wise.  Unfortunately, no clues to scale are in this photo.

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Light filters down through the leaves making them glow.  I just love to stand underneath them to look up.  They’ll grow up to 120′ tall with leaves up to 12″ wide.  They prefer low to mid elevations and forest that’s been cleared by fire or logging.

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I spotted seed pods on this tree. Note the spider web thread as well.  Look at how the light illuminates the veins in those pods.

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The bark of the maples, covered in moss is a perfect foil for the bright green leaves.  This moss can completely obscure the bark and become soil that new trees sprout and grow from high up in the canopy.

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The wood was favored for making paddles and fiber spinning tools by First Nations peoples. Their leaves had medicinal uses and were fashioned into temporary containers.

Cut stumps will easily foster new growth. Some foresters see this as a nuisance as they can crowd out conifers.

I see them as gigantic beauties.


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Spring Blooms – Rhodies and Other flowers – Anderson Lake Hike Part One

It’s been an early, warm spring and with that comes Rhodie-fever. Rhododendrons abound in the PNW. Numerous varieties adorn yards. I waited with baited breath to see what color the ones in my yard would be (purple, a gorgeous purple). Wild ones dot the woods, clumping under canopy openings and along forest margins and roads.

Anderson Lake State Park is a place I’ve blogged about many times.  It’s close and always affords me a walk in solitude, especially during the week.

I was on a rhododendron mission that day.

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The Pacific Rhododendron, AKA California Rhod. grows to 20+’ tall in these parts. Over 1,000 species beautify the world with the tallest stretching up to 100′.  The Arctic has a wee, inch tall ground hugging variety.  Their range extends from Coastal B.C to Northern CA.  In WA they meet the coastline and stretch into the mountains (esp. the Olympics). Thriving in the understory, most preferring forest openings and the edges of forest.

Blooming begins in April or May.  They bloom earlier at lower elevations. Leaves are leathery, thick and evergreen. They will curl up for protection in cold weather. The plant provides cover for critters but little to no nutritional value. Leaves and flowers contain toxins. In fact, humans have become very ill (heart palpitations, GI upset) from ingesting honey from bees who have fed on rhodies extensively. Livestock have died from ingesting the leaves.

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This is the state flower of WA. I find them stunning, such a cheery pop of color in a technicolor green woods.

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It was a lovely day for a hike. Fresh, spring green perks up the year-round dark greens.

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Fern fronds unroll.

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I came across two oddball plants I’d never seen before.  This one below is a Groundcone, a plant that hitches onto other plants’ roots and saps nutrients from those roots.  A bit of trivia:  A single plant can produce more than 1/3 of a million seeds. The roots were sometimes eaten raw by Natives.

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Not entirely sure about this one as it has no flowers.  I wonder if it is Spotted Coralroot with unopened flowers?

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The Lake was calm under the grey sky.

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Yellow Pond Lily (AKA Waterlily) floated in patches by the shore.  The rhizomes they bloom from are huge, up to 1′ wide and 15′ long. Though bitter, AK natives used parts of the plants for numerous ailments. Some also ate the plant’s seeds and a different variety’s rhizomes (not this one).

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The salal are still in bloom.

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This pretty ground covering plant is False Lily of the Valley.

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In stark contrast, on a rocky, exposed and sunny hillside there are patches of Stonecrop. The succulent leaves are orange in places, so pretty next to the pale green leaves.

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And lastly, The dried blooms from last years Oceanspray. New blooms will soon form.

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