Itchy fingers…

My Bismarck-Mandan Garden Club presentation has been moved up to 17 March, so I’ve been trying to spend all my time working on my Mushrooms and Edibles powerpoint – I’m up to my third revision, and I think it is flowing much better. The second revision was still 15 mins over time, so hopefully when I get a chance to practice this one it will have made some difference.

But it’s so hard to not have a yarn project going! My fingers want to be working on something, and my mind wants something comfortable to focus on… but of the three Projects Of Semi-Urgency that have jostled their way to the front of my list, two are original designs and need some work before I can start them; and the third is Marlaina Bird’s Thrummed Mittens, and I have to make all the thrums before I can actually begin crocheting. I can’t justify taking that much time away from the presentation. I think this is a bit of sign though that I do need to broaden my leisure activities again, so I think all this is good for me.

Well, in a week I can start something again… and then start revising my mushroom talk for the 4-H Youth Activity Day in April!

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Lingonberry Square pattern is up

From Crafts

I finally bought myself my very own copy of Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden, a book guaranteed to make your mouth water and your green thumb dream of orcharding. Lee Reich is highly appreciative of lingonberries, as they’re a cranberry cousin that can be eaten fresh (when totally ripe). A lot of the awesome fruits I will be featuring here do need some added sweetener to make them palatable (sea buckthorn, anyone?) so this is quite a useful trait.

There are two variants of lingonberries. Both will spread to form a reasonably good groundcover (although you’ll want to interplant with something else, as they won’t quite control weeds by themselves) – the taller get to perhaps 1 foot tall, while the var. minus stay creepers 4″ or below. The square is meant to represent the creeping variety spiraling over a paving stone, the tips of the branches laden with fruit.

Wikipedia Commons
Vaccinium vitis-idaea, by Jonas Bergsten

Click on the Rare Fruit link at the top of the page for all my fruit square patterns together in one gallery; scroll down for links to the original pattern.

A bowlful of Lingonberries

Sumac square is done!

From Crafts

I’ve already talked about sumac before – here is a Rare Fruit Sampler Afghan square celebrating it. The pattern is available through the Rare Fruits tab at the top of the page – it’s a nice easy crochet, with the leaves and fruit worked separately and appliqued to the background. The fuzzy stem and fruit clusters make a great way to use up some of the eyelash yarn in your stash.

From Plant Pictures

How many afghans can you really use?

One of the major reasons I’ve gravitated towards smaller knitting and crochet projects is that they will get USED – baby hats can be gifted at the rate of 5/year minimum especially now that people have seen what I can do; and it’s okay to have several bags around the house, even if their primary purpose is to hold my next knitting project. It’s hard for me to just make something cool whose sole purpose is display (*cough* mochimochiland‘s devastating Resisty the Resistor *cough*). I have too little storage space!

So how did I happen to get excited by four great crocheted afghan patterns at once? Argh! Yes, in winter in ND I use seven blankets in my north-facing bedroom (which is so cold I’m tempted to knock a hole in the wall to check if there even IS insulation), but you still have to put them somewhere when you’re not using them! And awesome ones like these I would want to treat nicely:

In addition to the rare fruit afghan I’m working on myself,

  • The Ankh-Morpork Knitter’s Guild on Ravelry is doing a Pratch-ghan-along, where you read one book per month and design a 6″ square based on it. Sir Terry is so prolific you might catch up in 3 years or so…
  • The Guild of Calamitous Intent has a VB-themed afghan square design project starting soon. I’ll be contributing a square based on Dr. Venture’s prided speedsuit, and likely will be dashing off a quick Phantom Limb containing glow-in-the-dark purple yarn. The designs other people have called are cool enough I’ll probably want to make them as well for a complete blanket.
  • The Dendarii Free Knitters have started a similar Vorkosi-gan design call, and I’ll be doing a Hidden Identities square where Miles’ Dendarii uniform jacket unzips to reveal his Barrayaran uniform.

Plus, while trolling for Naruto AMV on Youtube, I was reminded of this great graphic orange-navy-and-white quilt I had wanted to do…

Well, it’s a good problem to have, I suppose!

Ribes rubrum, var. “Square”

The second square in the Rare Fruit Sampler Afghan ‘s done!

I am very thankful for the currant family, as they will produce a crop in partial shade – meaning I can piece them into the understory of my back garden, dominated by a 60-year maple tree. I find the leaves very aesthetically pleasing, and the berries look like translucent jewels hanging on their strigs – so they were a great candidate for an afghan square. I eat them fresh, but then again I love sour things.  This fall I gave one to a small boy, and got the most interesting face in return; he extremely politely declined a second serving. (The pink are sweeter than the red, and additional sun exposure will help noticeably.)

Click on the Rare Fruit Afghan Pattern page at the top for the collection and link to the patterns.  I’m calling this the red currant square, although the design will work for red, white and pink currants. Black currants have a slightly different fruiting structure and so properly belong on their own square.

From Crafts
From Fruits

Rare Fruit Sampler Afghan begins!

Crochet is uniquely suited to 3D sculpture – with each stitch’s ability to stand on its own I find it very easy to create rounded forms that can support their own weight. I enjoy all of the crocheted strawberries and tomatoes I’m finding on Ravelry, but if you have read any of my past posts, you know that strawberries aren’t nearly bizarre enough for me. So, I am working on designing some stranger fruit.

In my research into fruit that will be successful in my climate (USDA Zone 3b/4a), I have become enamored with Sea Buckthorn, or Seaberry. A tart small orange berry on thorny bushes ranging from 4-10 feet tall, Sea Buckthorn is a popular fruit in Europe but undiscovered here outside of exotic fruit nursery catalogs and enlightened Extension research stations (go Carrington!). It’s a great permaculture plant as it has multiple outputs – fruit, plus it’s a nitrogen-fixer, plus the thorns make it a great hedge if you’ve got deer to keep out. The delicious fruit catalog pictures always show branches laden with orange berries squished tightly against each other. While I was working on possible berry representations, I came up with a flat sheet of bumps that basically cried out to be repeated across a length of fabric, and thus…

The North (American) Rare Fruit Sampler Afghan!

Oddly enough, I blame Ravelry’s Guild of Calamitous Intent and their upcoming KAL’s, Minion Hats and the Calamitous Afghan.

Square One, the Sea Buckthorn, was designed for the Ravelympics, and is posted on my new Fruit Sampler Afghan page.

Additional squares will feature other rare fruits, especially small fruits, that can be grown in the North. Not necessarily from North America – Sea Buckthorn “singlehandedly kept the Siberian peasants alive for hundreds of years” – but I couldn’t pass up the great North American Afghan naming tradition. 😉

What would you like to see? I’m thinking Medlar, red or white currant, gooseberry, mulberry, ground cherry, honeyberry, arctic kiwi, sumac, elderberry, perhaps mountain ash… There is unfortunately quite a lot of stuff that is basically A Red Berry which resembles every other red berry ever – lingonberry, goumi, cornelian cherry, highbush cranberry, hawthorn and rosehip 😉  – and black currants, aronia, blueberries and saskatoons are basically identical as well. Maybe it will turn into a tiny botanical guide with leaf shape and flower to help differentiate them, who knows? But it should be fun, and fairly unique yet. Which is cool.