To every thing, there is a season

And a time to every purpose, under Heaven.

Whew, doggies!  It's hot out there.  We're having unseasonably warm weather.  It shouldn't be this hot until mid-July.  I'm only working in the yard really early in the morning.   I pull a few weeds and cut back some dead growth and pick the spent blossoms, but mostly I water.  The hot wind is drying out the flower pots almost faster than I can water them.  But, the flowers are still lovely.  Saturday morning, a cool breeze blew through and I was already bug sprayed up, so I just sat out there and enjoyed being outside, not thinking anything in particular, and watching the birds and squirrels.  It was very, very nice and only lasted a few precious summertime comfortable minutes.  There will, of course, be flower pictures later.

I had a couple days off last week or I was going to lose the paid time off, so I had time to work on several projects.  I decided it was time for another appliqué flower.  We left off on the Chinese Lantern block.  I have one of these that I grow in the greenhouse and it makes a really nice orange and yellow flower with a second set of dark petals in the center.  This was a nice little bit of hand work and I knocked it out on Saturday and Sunday.  I added all the embroidery to give it some detail.  It was pretty flat without it.  

 Chapter 2:  It's not me, it's the pattern

Y'all, I swear.  I've done it twice and both times, it was messed up.  It was time to start looking at other patterns.  When I put it on, I saw the flaw in the pattern photo and wondered how I'd missed it before.  It looks pretty nice, right?  The thing I kept focusing on was the t-shirt they stuck in the collar so you can't see the wrong side rows.  

Look again at the shoulders.  Nobody's shoulders slope at that steep angle.  104 rows of the sweater are between the waistband and the underarm.  102 rows of the sweater are between the underarm and neckline.  I don't know about you, but half my torso is not above my underarms.  That's why the back stuck up like it did when I tried it on last time.  I thought it was because it was stretched lengthwise and that when I blocked it to the right width, it would be fine.  But, there's no amount of blocking that's going to fix this.  

These pictures were taken after about 5 minutes of me and Rob futzing with it, folding and pulling and squeezing extra fabric to make it fit my body.  They show the beautiful potential of the sweater.  But, in reality, it hangs to my knees, the underarms are in line with my belly button.  If the shoulders weren't bunched up on my shoulders the sleeves would hang well below my fingertips.  You can see in the second picture how the right side hangs down.  It did that all over.  And, the collar is another 50 rows wide at the center, way too big for me.  But, look at the back!  How beautiful.  

Everything that's wrong with this sweater is wrong above the underarm seams.  I definitely want to keep as much of it as I can.  I realized that all I needed to know was the rate of decrease to create the raglan.  I started looking at patterns and all of them had one thing in common.  Starting at the underarm seam, they reduce 8 stitches for every right side row.  This pattern had a complicated decrease that sometimes decreased as little as 2 stitches and averaged 4 per RS row.  Taking the extra fabric out of the shoulders will raise the underarms to where they need to be and will shorten it to just about right.  The one dimension that was right on the sweater was the diameter.  Thank goodness.  That's the dimension that would have made me remake the whole thing.  

Last night, I took it apart down to the underarm seams.  Four large balls of yarn.  And, I put in the first row, decreasing 8 stitches, plus 2 at the front to shape the collar.  The pattern said this would take 2000 yards of yarn.  It took about 1950.  When I finish the sweater, I'm going to make a red scarf and hat to match.  

Chapter 3, walking through the garden

It was a good week for flowers.  Every morning before work, I walk around the garden.  It's a very peaceful way to start any day, but especially a work day.  

This is the TX red star hibiscus.  I took some seeds from this and started some new plants.  I gave most of them away, but the two I kept look good.  This flower is from the parent plant.  Not sure whether the child plants will have the same vibrant flower.  

This is a yellow echinacea and the picture below it is a red.  I saw these at the garden center over the years and wanted to give them a try as a change, especially since echinacea are so easy to grown.  

I put this one in the ground between two pink ones and it never bloomed.  They overshadowed it and I wasn't even sure it survived.  I dug it up and put it in a sunnier place last fall and it looks like it's going to do very well this year.  

Chapter 4, that's all the crabapples there are.

I have two crabapple tress that my Dad gave me about 20 years ago.  The arborist tried for years to get me to cut them down and replace them with pears or regular apples, but I wouldn't.  They only made enough fruit for a full batch of jelly one year and the last couple years, they've struggled with too much shade.  I've let the apples drop in the past, but this year, I climbed up on a ladder and picked all there were.  Not enough to make jelly the way I always had, with Surejell.  But, I found a recipe that worked the old fashioned way, cooking the jelly and juice to just below a "soft ball stage".  It thickened up perfectly and is a very tasty jar of jelly.  And, no matter how few crabapples I get next year, I know I'll be able to squeeze at least a little jelly out of them.  

Everybody have a great week.  I met my newest boss last week.  She scheduled a half hour to interview me about how I liked to be managed.  She's young.  I don't think she's managed many people before.  When she said she wanted to schedule time to get to know me, I was like, cool.  We'll chat about parenting and hobbies.  But, this was interview style and she typed my answers into a document.  It ended up being uncomfortable and I wasn't able to relax and let her get to know me.  Maybe one day, I'll get to give her private feedback about that and suggest that going forward, she just sit and talk without interview style questions and write up her notes later.  I think we both would have gotten more out of it that way.  

Be well.  Do something you don't think you can do.  Smile spontaneously at someone you don't know.  It's such a good feeling when they smile back.