Getting Down and Dirty

This past week Chris and I were busy stepping up 1600 small lavender plants into four-inch pots that will be sold at the spring herb festivals and the farmers market.
It’s dirty work and while potting the first half of the plants we managed to stay snug and warm inside the greenhouse, which is your average 10×30 ft hoop style.  Before long there was no more room inside for our special mix dirt-pile (a mix of organic potting soil, wood ash, and sand) as the plants would require nearly every inch of space.  We moved the whole operation outside and finished up working off the tail end of our flatbed trailer. 
The greenhouse is now full and we’ve entered that pre-spring phase that includes constant monitoring the greenhouse temps throughout the day, opening vents in the plastic when it gets warm from the sun or firing up the propane heater when the temperature drops in the evening. 
There is a certain yearning that begins to creep into me when greenhouse season begins.  I think it has to do with the smell of the soil and also to do with the shaking off of the dark season of winter, deep in my spirit. The rest and quiet time I’ve enjoyed the past few months will help fuel the energy that the coming spring requires. While the calendar we in civilized society generally adhere to tells us that the new year began in January, it feels so much more to me that this is the beginning.

While we sat on the end of the trailer working my eyes rested often on the old raised beds that we moved from behind the farmhouse last year.  This year I’m beginning a new herb garden in the old beds somewhere near our new house. (Is it still a new house if it’s nearly a year old?) Last year I missed not having fresh herbs other than what was in the field and a few scattered containers.  I’ve got must-haves on my list, many culinary, but I want to venture out into the unusual herbs as I did years ago. 

Whether you’re a farmer or a gardener or just have a few pots in the window sill, the smell of the soil – the earth itself – can be most bewitching.  I’m ready to get down and dirty again. 

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Mid-winter lavender

As I scooped malt-o-meal at breakfast I was writing a blog post about design problems with the Equinox Yoke Pullover.  It’s been simmering for days and needs to be composed in a clear manner.  But morning chores came first and when I took the no-longer-warm wood ash out to the lavender field I knew the sweater warning was going to be delayed.

Wood ash is alkaline and lavender prefers a high level of alkalinity opposed to acidity so we let our wood ash cool – completely– and spread it (that’s using the term very loosely) in the lavender field.  It’s organic – it’s sustainable.  It solves the question of what to safely do with the wood ash from the stove.  
What I saw in the field plays directly into one of the reasons I love growing lavender.  These plants want to grow and give it everything they’ve got to thrive.  It’s been a cold winter here in NE Oklahoma. We’ve had a few days of warmth and sunshine lately but a strong winter storm is forecasted to hit us – again.  
The lavender in the field – both the angustifolias and the intermedias have been basking in the sun and are greening up as if spring were just around the corner.  Now they look straggly and woody for the most part just as they normally do during their dormant state.  As I looked closer though I could see green within the gray and new little starts of leaves on the woody stalks.  
Mature Grosso lavender

That photo is from plants out in the field, mature plants.  But out in the pasture that serves as our front yard we’ve built six raised beds as part of a lavender experiment.  They have primarily gravel from our creek, layered with a bit of top soil in the middle which as dusted with lime from the quarry.  The plants have done quite well in these raised beds and we’re hopeful that they’ll be a nice addition that holds less drainage problems and uses less weeding time.  Because raised beds have less adjacent ground to help keep it warm we’ve experimented with row covers this winter.  So far so good there too.  We pulled the row covers ( a light fabric that allows sunlight and rain to reach the plants – yet helps protect them from low temps) off the plants in the past week to allow maximum sunlight.  Again with these plants I’m seeing bits of green and small leaf shoots on the stalks.  I’m nearly giddy but that joy is tempered with the knowledge of Oklahoma’s temperature fluctuations.  
Young Grosso Lavender
Raised beds with row covering pulled aside
Tomorrow the row covers will go back across the raised beds – and I’ll go back to blogging about knitting, yarn, cupcakes and maybe chickens.  
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The wind is blowing fierce and cold this morning and I need to put the row covers back on the raised beds of lavender because winter will be returning with another blast this week.  But instead I stood in my warm little studio stirring what will become lavender-patchouli soap, glancing at the yarn that has finally dried in exactly the shades I was intending and generally feeling pretty happy with my world.  Then out the dutch door I saw an incredibly handsome man put air in the tires of the car parked outside the barn.  And once again I wonder why he fell in love with me – simple plain me.  I could feel the blood drain from my face and tears well up.  I do not deserve this man.

I blinked. I stirred some more.  I breathed deep. Then I flicked my ipod on and did a little crazy ecstatic dance as Willie Nile sang You Gotta Be a Buddha in a Place Like This.
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It’s a Knitaversary Giveaway!

Four years ago my good friend Danny taught me to knit.  Or as Chris has said, that is when I learned I was a natural-born-knitter.
To celebrate I’m giving away one skein of merino fingering weight yarn. 
I dyed it – you name it! (Naming colorways are half the fun of dyeing yarn!)
Here’s how to play along…
Two skeins are shown below. Post in the comments below what you would name the colorway you’d like to own and provide a link to either a blog, facebook, ravelry, or twitter comment about the contest.
Each skein is over 500yds of organic merino. 
The winner will be chosen based on creativity and announced on Wednesday – noonish Central Daylight Time. 
If you’re not into yarn and are in search of a little different contest, become a fan of Clear Creek Lavender on Facebook where we’re giving away one of our Greatest Hits Boxed Sets in a haiku contest.

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Memphis bound

Clear Creek Lavender is once again headed south to Memphis and the Pink Palace Festival.

Earlier this evening I reread  a post written while we were in Memphis last year.  While I haven’t practiced or perfected my southern drawl in the past year I am delighted to be going back to Memphis where being polite is natural and even the barbs are sugar-coated.

I asked Christopher tonight at dinner where we’d had the great ribs and since his memory for names is much better than mine he immediately said “Corky’s”.

MMmmm Corky’s dry rub bar-b-que!

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(cross posted on Clear Creek Lavender Blog)

Shipwreck on a clear day

My blue phase continues with the Shipwreck Shawl , but my Shipwreck will take place in a clear blue sky with lush llama yarn!

This yarn is from my friend Lisa‘s llama “Ally”.  Ally is actually a cream colored gal but I’ve been playing in the dye pot and like the results.
Llama yarn is similar to alpaca but has more luster and less halo.  It’s a dream to knit with and very warm.
We’re off to Winfield, Kansas tomorrow and four days of music and fun at the Walnut Valley Festival while hoping to spread the lavender love as well.   My clothes aren’t packed, the product is ready to pack, the camping gear is sorted, but my knitting bag – it’s ready!  Four projects inside the bag (one never knows what the knitting mood will be), the ongoing socks, a test knit for a friend, barely cast on Almeara gloves, and the as yet begun Shipwreck Shawl.

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Color me happy

Early July means crazy-making in the studio. Soap takes six weeks to cure, so I’m preparing for the fall shows. The bars I cut this morning are just so scrumptious that I had to show them off a little. The green might lighten up a little as it cures. Although I hope not much. This color without synthetics – only natural beauty – herbs and plants.

Here are Lavender Chamomile and Lavender Lemongrass…

crossposting on

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