Winter is approaching (NOOOOOOOOO!!!) and it is actually starting to get cold out there. Real cold. I have worn hand warmers while walking. Soon it will be full mittens or gloves. Biking now requires a woolen hat that can cover the ears. The horror. All of this serves as a strong reminder that winter is not going to magically pass us by this year. It’s time to break out the knitting needles and make something fantastic for the 2008 Warm Winter Wear Drive!!
What: Knit or crochet up beautiful, warm winter gear for The Redwood Shelter for Abused Women. While I know many of you are from all over the globe we’ve decided to continue to support a Toronto-based organization again because 1. They are doing fantastic work and 2. I am in Toronto and a Toronto-based organization means I can collect and distribute the items from here. You are of course more than welcome to keep it local and make something for a shelter in your area.
Knit, Crochet, or Sew (New items made by you):
- Long Scarves – They have need of thick, warm scarves that can wrap around twice for bundling up.
- WomenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Mittens – They receive plenty of mittens for children but need for larger, adult-sized mittens.
- Baby Blankets – For bundling babies inside strollers. It’s can get cold here in Toronto. This is an awfully tall order for hand-knitting. Sewn blankets or simple square block quilts are a great alternative.
- Larger Items – If you were planning to make a couple of scarves, make one large item instead. They have a need for shawls and ponchos too.
How: A simple ribbed scarf is probably the best place to start for a beginner. Ribbing is simply going back and forth between the knit and purl stitches (i.e. knit 2 stitches, purl 2 stitches, and so on). It is a stretchy pattern that makes a nice, thick material. This tutorial will lead you through the process. You can also try free pattern websites like Knitty. If you have any particularly excellent resources to recommend please comment below.
Check out what we sent in 2006 and 2007.
Details: Please mail your items by Dec 1, 2008. Email me at gaylaatyougrowgirldotcom for the address.
I’m writing this post today for all of you out there, who like me, have hit the cold, hard wall of Winter head-first. If success is measured by achieving an intentional purpose then this has been one of the most successful winters in years. There has been snow, and lots of it. It has been cold. Very cold. The winter dull drums started to creep in under my skin about a week ago and now I’m at that can’t-take-another-minute phase. So I’ve been thinking, What can gardeners like myself do to lift ourselves out of a Winter funk and turn our eyes towards a Spring that is still so far out of reach and buried under a dirty, blackened with exhaust and dog feces snow pile?
- Reflections – The first thing I did was turn to my own book. I wrote about this very topic once. Of course, it was during the summer months when I was blissed out on sunshine and fresh produce. What did I know about winter hardship then? Huh? The first suggestion I gave was to enjoy the time away from the garden to reflect on last year’s experiences and dream about what is to come. Great idea except I’ve been riding that horse for a couple of months now. I like quiet time in a comfy chair with a warm beverage but to be honest I’m kind of over it right already. Take the snow away! Give me green!
- Visit a Greenhouse – The urge to get inside a greenhouse comes on me like clockwork at this time every year. Go on the first sunny day that comes up (if you get one). Bring a camera, or in my case four. I find that taking pictures helps me to focus on the smaller details, get wrapped up in the plants, and forget about winter. A couple of hours with living things in even the lousiest greenhouse and you’ll be a little bit more prepared to face it. Most largish cities have a public greenhouse. I’d lived in Toronto for many years before I discovered that Allan Gardens Conservatory is open to the public and free. When in doubt ask around.
- Force Winter Blooms – You need colour! Forcing colourful blooms indoors is literally as simple as cutting a few branches and sticking them in water. If you don’t have trees you can always ask around or try your local floral shop. Some stores have caught on and sell locally-supplied branches at this time of year. You can also try forcing bulbs like hyacinth and paperwhites if branches aren’t an option.
- Get Fussy with Your House Plants – Most of us probably have a house plant or two or fifty brightening up our living spaces. I’ll admit that at this time of year the general day-to-day maintenance of my indoor garden becomes a robotic routine. My time with these plants just doesn’t seem to cut it anymore. This is the perfect time to spend a couple of hours doing a big overhaul. Your indoor plants have probably been to hell and back over the course of the winter. With spring on the horizon it’s the perfect time to do a little repotting, pruning, and showering. The extra attention does wonders for the plants but always seems to give my own spirits a huge boost too.
- Focus on Seeds – To begin, look through catalogues, look online, make lists, talk to others about what they are growing this year. Wait, you’ve already done that? Yeah, me too. The next step is to get some seeds. We are fortunate in this day and age to have so many options available whether we’re seeking to purchase or trade. You can buy some online, buy some from a local garden shop, trade with friends, trade online, trade through a local community group. Find out if there is a Seedy Saturday in your area. Join a larger seed exchange organization like Seeds of Diversity, Seed Savers, or Kokopelli.
Perhaps you’ve already acquired your seeds for this year’s crop. Pull them out. Look at them. Take some out of the package — I like the beauty and variety of beans for this best. Just looking at seeds makes for a minute or two of happy thoughts.
Now grow some. Tending to tiny seedlings as they emerge from the soil is a hopeful and optimistic activity that looks to the future. Someday spring will come and those little plants will turn into bigger plants and then they will go outside and suddenly it will be spring. We’re just on the cusp of seed-starting season in my area. However, it is not too early to get started with hot peppers, especially the habaneros which require a longer season than most. If you’re in a warmer region than your choices are likely greater than mine. Filling out a seed starting chart will put your options into perspective. You can also try growing a window box of greens. I like the Micro Greens ‘Spicy Mix’ from Botanical Interests because you can start harvesting them when they are not much more than sprouts.
Photo by Davin Risk
Sigh. This view of my roof garden from the door feels a million miles away today.
Remember summer? Yeah, me neither. If not for photographic evidence I would have to assume these so-called memories are in fact only beautiful delusions. I know many of you in the Southern Hemisphere are in the midst of it so you will have to excuse my mid-winter pity party. Over the last few days the temperature has plummeted to an unbearable, and therefore unacceptable bone-chilling cold. Unbearable I tell you!! I held out for two full days hunkering down indoors without stepping foot outside until today when I had no choice but to suck it up, put on as many layers as possible and face it. Even worse, our Taste of Summer life-sustaining preserves are rapidly depleting: the red pepper katsup is no more (good-bye delicious sauce!) and I just opened the final jar of Blackened Salsa Ranchera.
Not to be dramatic, but people are dying over here!
See you in 5 months July, wherein you can expect to find me complaining about the heat.
Allow me to introduce to you yet another alternative to the Christmas Tree.
A few weeks back I bought this tiny $3.00 string of miniature LED lights meant for creating miniature Winter Wonderlands. I have a thing for miniatures that stems from repeated childhood trips to the Hobby Shop to visit the rotating display of doll house props for a doll house that would never be. I have to admit that I didn’t really care about the doll house as a play object but rather imagined it as a vessel to hold all those neat miniature Victorian-era do-dads. I just love tiny things and dioramas: tiny food packaging, tiny figurines, tiny ghetto blasters, HO scale anything… everything is more fun in miniature form.
Since I do not have space to store, let alone display the props of a Winter Wonderland (although I do collect HO scale models for a possible future giant diorama that will never be) I thought the lights would be best put to use draped over a small plant. This Tillandsia streptophylla* is larger than my outstretched hand and doesn’t particularly match the scale of the lights, however I enjoy turning them on at night, pausing while reading a book to gaze up at the brightly illuminated bulbs.
*Note that my Tillandsia is starting to put out a flower stalk from the centre!
I know that time is getting tight now as the Holiday Season kicks into gear but I wanted to be sure and mention some gifts to make if you’re coming up dry on ideas for the gardener friend in your life. A lot of these ideas use materials harvested from your own garden but I have found that in a pinch the herbs can be purchased at affordable prices from the bulk bins of local health food stores.