Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Loom Knitted Stocking Hat

Winter is in full force here in Michigan. We got 5 inches of snow last night and the temperatures have been bitter cold.

The secret to staying warm in our climate is to wear a hat. If my head is warm, I can sometimes forego my winter coat altogether and be outside in a heavy sweater or flannel.

My favorite, favorite winter hat is starting to look pretty raggedy. I got it 6 years ago at an underwear store of all places. Aerie by American Eagle. And the faux fur is getting matted and it's just dingy all around. I'll still use it to work in, but I wanted a nice warm hat to wear out running errands etc.

I saw this pattern on You Tube over at Easy Me World. She has an easy-to-follow video that explains step by step the loom knitting process and the pattern for this hat.

I did change things up from her example. I made my hat on my 41 peg round loom because I wanted it nice and loose fitting.

I also did the brim 24 rows wide for a 12 row folded brim.

The yarn I used was Big Twist brand the 100% acrylic Chunky Yarn #271012 in colors:

Chunky Cloud White #12001
Chunky Dove #12003

I am in love with this yarn! I believe it is exclusive to JoAnn Fabric, but it might be available online. It's a super soft yarn with a clean nap and has substantial weight. I doubled the yarn for this project and I still have more than half of each skein left.

In the video, she suggests using one skein of each color and pulling from the inside and the outside of the skein. I've tried this several times and I always end up knotting up the skein so I bought two of each color. If you can successfully use her technique, then 1 skein of each color will be plenty for this project.

To make the pom pom I used my 36 peg loom and wrapped it around the front and back, then tied it in the same way she describes in the video.

The whole project knitted up very quickly and I love the resulting hat!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sunlight Pumpkin


Sunlight is a true yellow pumpkin. This variety is very similar in size and shape of a sugar pie pumpkin weighing around 4-6 pounds. They have nice, sturdy stems and a uniform round/oval shape with light-medium ribbing.

To learn more about different pumpkin, gourd and squash varieties, visit the Iron Oak Farm Pumpkin Page.

Mystery Pumpkin Rouge Vif D' Etampes Cross

I found this pumpkin at a roadside market and fell in love. I've never seen such an interesting squash. The shape is the traditional French, Cinderella form with the wide base and short height. This is my favorite pumpkin shape. To further it's character, the pumpkin is mostly a greenish black with blood red flesh poking through on the underside. It also has a bit of true pumpkin orange around the stem.

Over the years I've studied a lot of pumpkin varieties and never come across such a creature. Which, as a pumpkin collector, is exciting and frustrating at the same time. Finding pumpkin varieties and researching them in a Field Guide type manner can often lead to dead ends. Some of the most interesting finds aren't "official" varieties at all. They are crosses. Mutt pumpkins; meaning that two varieties were cross pollinated, then the resulting fruit produced seeds that have the potential to produce a cross variety.

Roadside stands often sell "true" pumpkin varieties because large pumpkin distributors don't usually  save the seeds from pumpkins from their field. They usually order "true" seeds from a seed company so they can predict the result. Especially if they're growing more than one variety within close proximity of the other, where pollinators can easily wander from one field to the next.

Another reason large scale pumpkin growers order seeds rather than save them, is that sometimes cross pumpkin will be barren of fruit. You may get a nice, trailing vine, but often the plant is sterile.

My gut told me that this was a cross, even though I found it at a market, and even though there were many similar pumpkins at this particular stand, but I bought it anyway with the hope of finding a new variety.

After I brought it home I started the research where I always do. With one of my favorite books by Amy Goldman, The Compleat Squash. If you have interest in anything pumpkin, squash or gourd related, I recommend this book. I treat it like a field guide for pumpkins, and browse through the beautiful photographed images whenever I find a new specimen.

With no luck, I turned to the internet. Each night I spent a bit of time researching different search combinations, and I couldn't find anything like it. 

After much frustration, I contacted Ms. Goldman directly, and she generously took the time to answer my pumpkin inquiry. She too didn't recognize it as a categorized type, so I am officially checking this one off as a cross.

I feel like it probably has some Rouge Vif D'Etampes in it. That's probably where the true blood-red color is coming through, also the shape. For now it is a mystery pumpkin that I plan on saving the seeds from and growing as an experiment next year. I may get nothing, but it's worth the time to see what happens.  

Our Little Pumpkin Evelyn Grace

We welcomed our first child into the world on October 5th, 2016. I'm not ashamed to say that I'm simply enjoying every bit of being a mom and the blog and Facebook page have been neglected. But so many of you have sent kind words and inquiries as to whether or not she had arrived, that I thought it was due to take some time and thank all of you for being a part of our lives and for the interest in our new little one Evelyn Grace.



I am smitten and overwhelmed with love. 

Warty Goblin Pumpkin



This is such a cool pumpkin. Warty Goblin is a hybrid that is heavily warted. The warts keep their immature green color long after the pumpkin has turned orange. This particular specimen is more ripe and the warts have also turned orange. Warty Goblin is however difficult to carve. The skin is quite hard and the warts make it difficult to slice through. This was Zach's carving pumpkin this year. He got the job done, but it was cumbersome.

To learn more about different pumpkin, gourd and squash varieties, visit the Iron Oak Farm Pumpkin Page.

Baby Boo Pumpkin

Baby Boo is an adorable miniature pumpkin. The skin is pure white that turns a cream color when fully ripened. Unlike some miniature pumpkins, this white fleshed variety is edible. The pumpkins average around 2-3 inches high, by 2 inches tall. They have a nice squatty, squared off shape.

To learn more about different pumpkin, gourd and squash varieties, visit the Iron Oak Farm Pumpkin Page.
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