KarlieRobinson.com

Rural Housewife or Tech Entrepreneur? You Decide

It might have been -13°F last night, but it was warm in here.

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-13°F

It’s no secret that our house is in need of repair and updating, but there’s only so much money to go around.  When it was time to take down the dry rotting curtains and broken traverse rods, I wanted to find a way to insulate the 2 picture windows in my living room without breaking the bank.

South-East corner of the houseThe windows are a single pane, sheet glass with an aluminum storm window over them. That means they turn our living room into a green house in the summer and still allow a ton of heat out in the winter.  While I know new windows would pay for themselves over time, there just isn’t money in the budget to replace these two whoppers while trying to keep up with the rest of the repairs needed around here (like the $450 drain line for the kitchen sink).

The solution I decided on was a take on the Ikea panel curtain system, Kvartal, and beef them up with a product called Reflectix.

If you’ve never seen Reflextix before, it’s essentially a double layer of bubble wrap with a reflective, metallic surface.  The idea is that it helps reflect the heat to keep it where you want it to stay.

While they’re not the most attractive thing to hang in our living room, we lovingly call our panels the “Blast Shield” since we feel their effect most during the summer months. Without the Reflectix bouncing the sun’s heat back through the glass, our house gets unbearably hot.

It’s been harder to talk about the effect of the insulation during the winter months because it has been relatively mild… that is until this morning.

A Polar Vortex is blanketing Michigan in sub-zero temperatures and dangerous wind chills. Last night’s low was 29 degrees below normal for this time of year and the curtains proved they were working last night by keeping enough heat off the glass to allow them to develop a thick layer of frost – on the inside.

As far as installing the insulating curtains, it’s essentially the same process as drawn in the directions that came Kvartal tracks and mounting brackets, except instead of putting in a decorative fabric panel into the top and bottom rail unit, I used 24″ wide Reflectix.

The only special step required was to take a pin and pop a couple of rows of bubbles on the Reflectix so that I could fit it into the top and bottom rail.  With the air still in the bubbles the material was just too thick.

After a couple of years on the job, the biggest issue I’ve had with the system, besides being less than attractive, are the small, plastic, tabs that allow the panels open and close together.  They were no match for the Robinson Brothers Destruction Company and they broke off within a year of installation.

kvartal with reflectixThe other issue I have is the end caps on the 3 rail units.  It’s fairly easy to pull the curtains back hard enough for them to pop off and have one of the panel glides pop out of the end.

The Reflectix, on the other hand, is in great shape. It’s hard to tell that they’ve been handled twice a day, every day, for a little more than 2 years. I’d even go so far as to say that they’ve exceeded my expectations.  For a product that’s meant to be hidden away inside a wall, they sure can take a beating.

Overall, this was an affordable project and while it’s probably not as effective at saving money on our energy bills as getting new windows would be, I’m happy with the results. Plus, when we draw the fabric across on it’s own track, you can’t see the metallic bubble wrap while you’re in the living room.

Written by Karlie

January 7th, 2014 at 3:05 pm

Mullet Cowl – Free Pattern

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Mullet Cowl

I know what you must be thinking – Why is this called a Mullet Cowl?  Well, it’s not that I intended it to have such an unhip name, in fact it didn’t have a name until late in the process.  But, once I started on the colored section, the phrase “business at the front, party at the back,” was firmly stuck in my head.

Originally, I had planned on making an all-white woven cable because I needed one more Christmas present and after knitting 2 of the Very Braidy Cowls a change of scenery was in order.  Then I remembered my mother-in-law saying that my niece loved mis-matched things. This gave me the idea to give the cowl a front and back.  That way she could wear the white at the front, colored at the front or even give it a 1/4 turn and show a bold stripe. Plus, the cowl is sized to be big enough to slip over your head, but not so big that your neck is still exposed to the cold air.

I’m offering this pattern for free because I ‘m writing it from memory since the cowl was still on the needles when I left for Christmas dinner yesterday and it went home with it’s new owner.  I was lucky I had time to grab a couple of [fuzzy] snap shots with my phone. I also used naked (without ball bands) yarn from my stash, so you probably won’t be able to find these exact yarns anywhere, but I’ll make some suggestions below.

mullet-whiteIf you would like to knit your own Mullet Cowl, you’ll need:

  • 1 ball of Lilly Sugar and Cream 100% Cotton  in white (MC) or approximately 120 yards of your favorite Worsted Weight yarn
  • 1 ball of Lilly Sugar and Cream 100% Cotton in Soft Violet (CC1)or approximately 95 yards of a single color Worsted Weight yarn.
  • 1 ball of Lilly Sugar and Cream 100% Cotton in Violet Veil (CC2) or approximately 95 yards of an ombre Worsted Weight yarn that matches the MC and CC1.
  • Scrap yarn for Provisional cast on.
  • US size 10.5 knitting needles or needles that will give a gauge of 4.5 sts per inch in Stockinette stitch.
  • (Optional) Smaller knitting needle for picking up stitches of provisional cast-on – I recommend a circular needle, just in case your point isn’t going the direction you thought it would.
  • Cable Needle – I recommend Clover U-Cable Stitch Holders because they have a small footprint when hanging to the front or back of your work. Simply slip your stitches on to the short leg and knit them off the long.
  • Tapestry needle for grafting and to weave in the ends – I recommend a metal needle. Plastic tends to bend and makes grafting more difficult.
  • Knowledge of Standard knitting abbreviations.
  • Knowledge of provisional Cast on – Video Tutorial
  • Knowledge of Knitted Cables – Video Tutorial.
  • Knowledge of Grafting – Video Tutorial. (Mantra – Knit, off, purl. Purl, off, knit)

mullet-transitionTo begin, using scrap yarn for provisional cast-on, cast on 64 sts.

Rows 1 and 3 P2, K60, P2
All Even numbered/WS Rows K2, P60, K2
Row 5 P2, *8-st LC (slip next 4 sts onto cable needle and hold at front, K4 and then K4 from cable needle); rep from *, end K4, P2
Row 7 and 9 P2, K60, P2
Row 11 P2, K4, *8-st RC (slip next 4 sts onto cable needle and hold at back, K4 and then K4 from cable needle); rep from *, end P2

Repeat these 11 rows 4.5 times, ending on a row 6 (WS row after finishing the LC row)

Begin adding CC1 and CC2

mullet-multiFrom this point forward, you will continue repeating the rows as outlined above except each row will be knit by alternating skeins  in a CC1, CC2, MC, CC1, CC2, MC, and so on, fashion.

As you’re knitting with one yarn, the other 2 will be left to hang on either side of your work.  When you finish a row, simply drop the current yarn and pick up the next before continuing the next row.

To keep the edges from getting too tight, leave enough slack in the yarn so that you won’t be pulling the previous row too close.  I also suggest holding the yarn from the completed row to the back of the work, along with left needle, so that the first stitch doesn’t get too big as you begin knitting with the next yarn. Feel free to drop it after a few sts.

Finishing In all, the cowl’s 11 rows are repeated 9 times, except for the final WS row.  That row will be made up by grafting the top and bottom together.

Undo the provisional cast on and slip the live sts from the bottom onto your smaller, needle.  The reason I like the Crochet provisional cast on so much is that I can undo one stitch at a time and slip it onto the needle.

Graft (Kitchener stitch) the top and bottom together using the next yarn in the pattern and then weave in all loose ends.

As always, I can’t wait to see your projects, so please leave comments, and post pictures.  And, don’t forget, You can sell this cowl as a finished object. See Begone, Personal-Use only patterns for details.

Written by Karlie

December 26th, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Frilly Skirt – Free Pattern

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frillyskirt

Eureka! I finally found the source of so many orphaned yarns in my stash, and the ball of Red Heart Boutique Sashay Yarn was almost one of the newest un-loved yarns stuffed into the art-deco side board I use to hide store my yarn in.

Turns out, that I am constantly falling victim to my own grand ideas before fully vetting them and assumed I would “whip up” a quick scarf for someone as a holiday gift.  After all, the photo on the ball band made it look pretty good.  But after I got home and began browsing Ravelry projects associated with the yarn, I was overwhelmed with an assortment of scarves that remind me of feather boas.  The idea of a feather boa brought up all sorts of campy imagery when I thought about what someone might wear, or not wear, with it and decided I just couldn’t give it as a Christmas present.

In any case,  I knew this yarn, with the ball band torn off and partially re-wound wouldn’t be going back to the store, but I had no intention of keeping it in my stash for the rest of eternity, but what to make with it?

The good news was that I did find inspiration in the Rav projects.  Way down in the list, past hundreds of scarves, there were 2 other options.  First was the Kelp Forest Shawlette, but I don’t think any of my intended targets was a shawl kind of gal. The second option were various forms of toddler tutu, but the only little girl on my list isn’t a toddler, so I went to the drawing board and came up with my own version.

The skirt I came up with is knit in the round, inside out and has a fairly large top opening with a draw string to accommodate a wide variety of sizes.  (One size fits most children)

If you would like to knit your own frilly skirt, you’ll need:

  • 1 Skein of Bernat Super Value in white (MC) or approximately 200 yards of your favorite Worsted Weight yarn
  • 1 Skein of Red Heart Boutique Sashay Yarn (CC), Boogie or approximately 30 yards of your favorite Ruffle Yarn
  • US size 8 circular knitting needles, 24″
  • 6 stitch markers – 5 that match and 1 unique for the beginning of the round.
  • Tapestry needle to weave in the ends.
  • Standard knitting abbreviations are used.

To begin, with MC, cast on 210 sts and join to work in the round while being careful not to twist your stitches.

Round 1 place unique marker and work *K1, P1* Repeating between the ** to the end of the round.
Round 2 work K1, P1 until the last 6 stitches. Then with the CC, stretch out the first few inches of your ruffle yarn and locate the top and bottom edge (with metallic thread).  Ruffle yarn is a mesh and to create a clean look for this project we will need to hide the raw edge.

  1. Fold about 1/2″ of the end of the mesh over on itself and line up the top, bottom and middle rows of the mesh.
  2. Insert the right needle into the first loop on the left needle as if to knit.
  3. Before wrapping your yarn as you would for a knit stitch, pierce both layers of the bottom row of the mesh with your right needle
  4. Wrap your yarn and then draw through the combined loops and complete the knit stitch as you normally would (5 stitches left to finish the round)
  5. For the next 5 stitches, you’ll complete the same actions as you did in steps 2-4, except you’ll be working across the folded edge of the mesh, using the strands/holes in the middle portion of the mesh to incorporate the end of the mesh into the knitted stitches.

Round 3 Continuing with CC using just the top 2 threads of the mesh knit all stitches.  DO NOT break yarn after finishing the round
Round 4 MC – Knit all stitches
Round 5 MC – *K 35 and PM* 5 times then K 35 (end of round and unique marker already in place)
Round 6 MC – K all sts except SSK after each marker and K2Tog before each marker.
Round 7 CC – Skipping at least 2 holes in the mesh to provide enough slack to reach this round, K all sts using the top 2 threads of the mesh.
Rounds 8-12 MC – K all Sts

Repeat rounds 6-12 until there are 48rounds and 126 stitches on your needles.

Round 49 CC – K all sts using the top 2 threads of the mesh. At the end of the round, leave about 1″ of mesh for finishing and cut CC yarn.
Round 50 Begin by hiding the raw edge of the CC yarn just as outlined in Round 2 except you will be starting with the top edge of the mesh and working to the bottom.  Be sure the raw edge is folded under since there won’t be any layers above to hide the raw edge.

Finish the round in K1, P1 ribbing with MC.

frillyskirt-insetRounds 51-54 MC K1, P1 ribbing
Round 55 MC YO, K2Tog repeating these 2 sts for the entire round
Bind off loosely.

Using the remainder of the CC, a belt or a pretty ribbon, weave in and out of the YO holes left at the top edge of the skirt to form a belt.

As always, I can’t wait to see your projects, so please leave comments, and post pictures.  And, don’t forget, You can sell this skirt as a finished object. See Begone, Personal-Use only patterns for details.

Written by Karlie

December 24th, 2012 at 10:12 am

Annabelle’s Knit Broomstick Baby Blanket

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Annabelle's Knit Broomstick Lace Blanket

Would you believe this is the first time I’ve ever designed a blanket for a baby girl?  The process was funny for me this time because with all the little boys I’ve been knitting for, my biggest gripe was that everything was too pretty.  When I started this design I found myself griping about not being pretty enough and I knitted and frogged (rip-it, rip-it) so many iterations that I wasn’t sure if the yarn was still usable.

My first try was a single strand of peach with the same needles I used for the Knitted Broomstick Lace Scarf, but Annabelle will be a January baby and I wanted to be sure she’d be warm.

Then I tried holding the yarn double and bumping up to US size 8 and the big US 36′s I used for the Knit Broomstick Lace Wrap. This time, however the blanket was much too thick.  In fact I knitted a whole skein this way and when I looked at the skinny little section I had, I knew I wasn’t on the right track.

Frogging this time was a bit of a challenge because I had to separate the yarns and re-wind them as a single.

Next, I decided that the answer was 6 gathered loops using the US size 6 and size 36 needles, and set out knitting.  When I got almost to the end of the ball (that use to be the first skein), I knew I didn’t have enough yarn.  To make matters worse, I had been messing around for so long I couldn’t find the ball band to match dye-lots.  ARGGGGH!

So I resigned myself to adding a contrasting color, but I knew simply switching colors wasn’t going to look good.  You guessed it… I tore it all out – again.

Baby Annabell's Knit Broomstick Lace BlanketBut, as you can see, I finally figured everything out and have a unique stripe pattern in the blanket to show for it.  Knitting with 3 skeins at once might seem a little odd, but by switching between them and carrying the extra yarn along the edges the 4 row repeat turned into the stripes you see in the finished blanket.

Although the pattern gives directions for recreating this blanket exactly, you could probably get a similar effect by using a self-striping yarn if you’re not excited about alternating skeins.

The finished size is approximately 31” by 30” but the blanket has a lot of stretch in both directions.

As with my other patterns, you may use this pattern to create finished objects for sale. Please see Begone, Personal-Use only patterns for details.

 

Written by Karlie

November 2nd, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Random Acts of Patterns

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Knit Purl GurlLast week, on Google Plus, I was introduced to the most amazing idea by the Knit Purl Gurl, Karrie Steinmetz when she posted…

Tuesdays are for RAP (Random Acts of Patterns)! http://www.ravelry.com/discuss/friends-of-knitpurlgurl/2319615/1-25#24 Please join in!! #knitting #crochet

Although I didn’t quite catch the marketing implications of random patterns until after I had gifted nearly 20 copies of my designs, Random Acts of Patterns is just brilliant on so many levels.  Here’s why…

The premiss is along the same lines of Random acts of Kindness, but in this case the idea is to find a neat pattern and buy it for another Ravelry.com user using the “send as gift” function that’s part of the check-out process.

There are 2 functions of this process that are very intriguing to me.  First, it’s a way to help generate income for independent designers.  The second is that it’s a great way to advertise your own designs by sending them out to random knitters.

From a strictly business standpoint, when I buy ad placements, I take a chance that I won’t have enough sales to break even.  For example, I purchased Ravelry ads a few months in a row.  The fist run I did better than break even on the cost of the ads by also making enough money to cover the cost of the materials used in the pattern.  In the second run, I didn’t do quite as well, but broke even on the ads.  The 3rd and 4th times were a bust putting me in a position where I needed more pattern sales to break even on all of the expenses.

There are many reasons why the same ads didn’t do well over time.  Summer months aren’t always considered as Knitting months.  People may have been tired of seeing the ads. Or any number of things.  While it is possible to hone in on the winning combination the idea of Random Acts of Patterns presents a whole new twist on marketing.

The main consideration with #RAPatterns, for the indie designer, is that patterns, once created, don’t represent revenue until someone buys them. The next consideration is although you might be running at a loss with materials and time put into the design, giving away promo, electronic copies, doesn’t create additional expenses. I always say that word of mouth has to start somewhere and this is a great way to kick it off.

Knit Purl GurlThe bonus of Tuesday’s being for #RAPatterns are the limits designed into the practice. Coupons, door busters, annual sales and all the rest are just ways companies train customers not to pay full price, for anything.  But a random pattern given only on Tuesday is more along the lines of winning a prize. There is no expectation that waiting will result in a discount so people buy when they’re ready to.

By participating in Random Acts of Patterns on Tuesdays you have a great way to get some patterns out in the wild where they might generate some buzz for your work all while keeping people guessing about your next move.  It also doesn’t hurt to be seen as generous either.

The next question is how this process can be adapted for other business models.  Are there businesses this wouldn’t work with?  Why not?  I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment, below.

PS, don’t forget to thank Kerrie for this amazing idea.  Click either knitter to visit her site.

 

Written by Karlie

October 22nd, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Knit Broomstick Lace Wrap

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A few weeks ago, I was in desperate need of a hair cut and as I sat down in the chair I plunked my purse on the counter. My stylist nearly squealed with delight asking loads of questions about it.  Although I told her I don’t really like to knit finished objects for sale, she begged, I agreed and while I was picking up the wool I needed for her purse I fell in love with Patons Classic Wool in Lemongrass.  I bought 3 skeins not knowing what I would knit with them.

Well that’s not completely true, I had been working on increases to release knitted broomstick lace from it’s natural, scarf-like, rectangle shape so it could become a lot of other things. The problem with that is that broomstick lace doesn’t behave like ordinary knitting because of the large row of loops so standard ratios of increases didn’t yield a predictable shape.

Initially I wanted to create a triangle shawl, but it looked more like a carrot than anything you’d be able to drape over your shoulders.  The next iteration had a wider angle, but was creating too much fabric and arching at the center back.  I felt as if it would bunch up at wearers neck and look funny.

The roundness was intriguing to me though and I decided if I couldn’t beat it, I would join it and this wrap was born. The best part is that I learned a lot about increasing with Knitted Broomstick lace and I hope it won’t take me as long to push out patterns with even more shaping.

You won’t believe how well this wrap stays on your shoulders. By adding increases in the style of a Raglan sweater, it hugs and won’t let go. I also think the Broomstick Lace gives this wrap great flexibility to be dressed up or down depending on your moods.

Although the pattern calls for circular needles, this project is knit back and forth using the extra length to accommodate the ever growing number of stitches.

Front of the WrapIf you would like to knit your own Broomstick Lace Wrap, you’ll need:

  • The Pattern, available for download at Ravelry (and with the buttons below)
  • 3 Skeins of Patons Classic Wool or ~630 yards of your favorite Worsted Weight yarn
  • US size 8 and US size 36 circular knitting needles, 40″ or longer (Hint – Addi has this monster sized needle in a circular)
  • 4 stitch markers large enough to slide over your largest needle

As always, I can’t wait to see your projects, so please leave comments, and post pictures.  And, don’t forget, You can sell this wrap as a finished object. See Begone, Personal-Use only patterns for details.

Written by Karlie

July 21st, 2012 at 11:43 am

Garner Market Bag

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Wool is alright, I guess, but I love knitting with unusual things.  I’ve knit potholders with strips cut from old t-shirts, turned plastic grocery bags into plarn and the mason twine I had left-over from my rose project was just begging to be knit into something.

That something turned into a market bag because the nylon will stand up to major amounts of abuse, which is why masons, landscapers and construction workers can drag it all over their work sites.

If you hadn’t guessed by now, mason twine, isn’t something you’ll find at your local yarn store, but will find at your local hardware.  In this case, the twine I used came from my local Tractor Supply Co., but if you’re going to knit this bag you can find it at any building supply store.  It might be called mason twine, builders twine or go by another name, but whatever it’s called on the label,  you’re looking for 100% nylon, size/gauge 18 in a color that pleases you.

High visibility is an understatement for most of the available colors and the pink is  hellaciously bright. My solution was to tone it down a bit with black, so I picked up a spool of Red Heart Nylon Crochet Thread.  It’s even size 18, just like my hot-pink mason twine, though they aren’t quite the same. The twine is just a bit thicker, braided and less prone to splitting than the twisted Red Heart.  Though this isn’t a problem for this bag and the contrasting color and texture give it life.

To Knit this bag, You’ll Need:

  • The Pattern, available at http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/garner-market-bag
  • 2, 150 yard spools of 18 Gauge 100% Nylon Crochet thread or Mason Twine in Black (color A) and Pink (color b)
  • 2 different stitch markers
  • Tapestry needle to weave in the ends.
  • US size 13, 32” or longer circular needles for the body and between US size 5 and 8, 24” circular needles or longer for the band and strap.
  • 1 double pointed needle in the same size as your smaller circular needles
  • Optional:Stitch holder

Garner Market BagThe bag has a bottom-up, seamless construction and I used size 5 needles to knit the top band and handle of the prototype, but only because I’m the family Sherpa and wanted a smaller opening so that I could smush jackets, mittens, scarves and other items of shucked clothing in without them popping out of the top.

To loosen the top band and opening of the bag, without adjusting stitch count, choose a larger needle.

Handle length can also be adjusted, just keep in mind that knit will grow some so er on the short side.

If you’re not ready to create the ultimate in seamless bags, you don’t have to use Judy’s Magic Cast-on.  It’s just soooo cool to use when you get the hang of it.

Another consideration is that I had no idea there were other colors. Red Heart offers, Black, White and Natural, and there’s all sorts of neon at the hardware store but until I searched Amazon for a link to share, I had no idea how many color combinations would be available in Nylon for this bag.  I had considered other yarns and textures – like a smooth yarn and a fuzzy one as a stash-buster project, so please, knock my socks off and post your pictures at Ravelry for me to see.

And, don’t forget, You can sell this bag as a finished object. See Begone, Personal-Use only patterns for details.

Written by Karlie

June 11th, 2012 at 4:25 pm

Snuggle-Up Book Club

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Last week, I was in my kitchen listening to NPR, like always, when a segment came on about the Backseat Book Club and instantly thought “what fun,” but then I frowned, knowing every chapter book entering our house seems to have a boy barrier in it. Ya know that spot, somewhere in the first chapters, where the young, male, reader decides the book is a dud.

While listening to the discussion about the May 2012 selection, Heart of a Samurai, I was secretly begging the voices on the radio to give me a hint of how I could get books that are worth reading read in my house.   Instead, I was a little down trodden because I had just listened to a wonderful discussion about a seemingly wonderful book and I had no idea how to present it to the kids.

Then it hit me… I’ll read it to them!

Before I could get distracted and lose my fabulous idea, I went to my computer to find the book at Amazon.

There it was, just a click away from being in my possession. Then all of a sudden I was scared that the boy barrier was more than just a problem of text and eyes.  Would they give up part of their summer to listen to me read?  Could I compete with back yard adventures, video games and the swimming pool?

Yes, if I could present the idea in the right way.   In this case, my marketing skills were needed as I attempted to create the perfect summer reading package.

I can’t tell you what might float your kids’ boat, but at my house a cuddle in the bed is a coveted activity.  It’s equally enjoyable on lazy weekend mornings and for rewatching the Last Airbender on Netflix, so that was my hook.

With my idea in hand, I began my sales process… “Summer vacation is almost here,” I would say to one of my boys, “Don’t you think we should have some more cuddle time?”

Then, with one buy-in for cuddling I’d wait till I had boy #2 in a position to answer a casual question and then ask, “Your brother thinks we should have more cuddle time this summer, what do you think?”

Then a little later in the day I’d ask, “Do you remember when I use to read stories to you all the time? Wasn’t that fun?”

Of course they said yes, I wasn’t asking questions to get a no.  But with my pile of freshly minted “Yeses,” the Snuggle-up Book Club was born.

In the days we waited for our books to arrive from Amazon, I kept the hype going.  “Oooh, the books have shipped!” And , “they’ll be here tomorrow!” “When do you want to start the book club?” “Should we wait until the end of school, or start when they get here?”

Needless to say, we’re starting our book club tonight and the membership has agreed to some ground rules.

  1. We read at least one chapter a day.
  2. If we don’t read our chapter, we’ll make it up the next time we snuggle up to read.
  3. We can always read ahead, but not as an excuse to skip a day.

We also decided we can take our book club on the road.  One suggestion was to take a blanket when we walk the dogs out in the field and let the dogs run while we read.

Now all I have to do is make sure the club lives up to the hype, but I’ve got them this far, I think I can get them through the boy barrier this summer and a little more excited about books.

 

 

Written by Karlie

June 5th, 2012 at 7:12 pm

300 Feet of Thorns, Planting a Bare Root Rose Hedge.

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One thing I love about our new house is that we have 2 acres of  blank canvas.  Although the house isn’t new construction plunked down in the middle of an old corn field, my husband’s grandfather, in his later years, went through a “Mow it down” phase.  So the peonies that use to line the entire length of the driveway are long gone and so is the asparagus patch, leaving vast expanses of easily mowed lawn. In fact my expanse of lawn rolls right into the neighbors, with only the occasional lawn mowing to mark the property line.

While the lack of fence or other markers make our yard look like it’s much bigger than it is, our dogs, chickens and the neighbor girl, on her quad, tend not to see where one lawn starts and the other stops.

We knew we wanted a fence of some sort, even before we started the move last summer, but getting moved took most of our time and energy last year.  Heck, we’re still unpacking.  Though not jumping on fence construction gave us plenty of time to think about where it should go, how it should look and all the other nuances of the project.

We considered more chain link, like we have around the other half of the property line, various bushes, trees, split rail, and just about every style fence you could think of before we settled on Robin Hood Musk roses.

They might take a few years to reach their full glory, but they’ll be better looking than chain link, less maintenance than wood, cheaper than vinyl, and I won’t need to trim them like I would with a hedge. Plus 300′ of thorns should keep dogs and chickens from wiggling through.

HOW MANY ROSES?Measuring with Google and the Gimp

The first thing I had to do was figure out how many roses we would need to create a thick hedge along the property line. Since I didn’t have a handy dandy Measuring wheel and I couldn’t find our 50′ tape measure (remember that move I was telling you about?), I turned to technology.

I won’t go into details of how I got a rough estimate using the GIMP and Google maps, since it’s a bit technical for a gardening topic. But if you’d like to see a tute on the process, please leave a comment and I’ll write it up. Otherwise I’ll assume you’re not interested.

Suffice it to say, that the area I wanted as roses was the north (top) and East (right) borders of the red box shown in the photo.  By measuring the border in pixels (px) and counting PX between the marks on the scale provided I came up with approximately 300 lineal feet of fence/hedge if I start at the NW corner of our lot, and make a jog to the garage. (The numbers in the image are for the whole lot, not just the shaded section – I’m recycling images)

According to the nursery, I needed roses every 2 feet to form a hedge or 150 roses. For this project, that came out to $525 or about one-third the cost of the supplies I’d need to cover the same distance with chain link.

I placed my order on May 9 and 3 big boxes showed up a week later.

With bare root plants, time is of the essence.  You don’t really know how long they’ve been out of the ground and what the conditions were like in shipping.  If you want to ensure their survival, it’s important to get them in the ground as soon after arrival as possible.

If your permanent location won’t be ready for a while, you should heel them in.  A fancy term for a temporary planting.

SOAKING

The first thing you need to to with any bare root plant is get them out of their package and soak them for several hours, in water, before you plant them.  Even though the plants were packaged in plastic to keep them from drying out completely, they still dried out.  Trust me, they are thirsty and if they are well hydrated before they go into the ground, they stand a much better chance of thriving after planting.

I could only get the first 50 roses into water because I was running short on water-tight containers.

Since I was going to plant all the roses within a short amount of time I cheated a little bit by not unpacking all the plants.  Instead, I assumed they were packed well enough to go further across the country and that they’d be alright if I left the remaining boxes in the shade while I got the others in the ground.

Once I started planting though, as I emptied a bucket, I would unpack a group of roses and start their soak.  Though if I were to do this again, I would probably order 50 roses at a time, about a week apart.  More on this later.

LAYOUT

Marked Spotts and Fly the dog keeping an eye out for squirrels. Our town’s code book states that although a fence can be placed directly on the property line, plantings need to be 4 feet from the line.  Which in our case works out just fine since the roses should get to be between 4-6 feet tall and wide leaving them just shy of the true property line by the time they mature.

Since there’s no way I could eyeball a perfectly straight line 4 feet off the property line for nearly 250 feet, I turned to a trusty Mason Line. Though any string will do, I purchased a high contrast color so that I could see it easily against the lawn.

Using a tape measure, the line and a couple of sturdy sticks to act as stakes… I measured 4′ from the surveyor’s mark on the NW corner of the yard, and placed my stick.  Then I tied my line to my stick.  While trailing the line behind me, I walked to the other end of the property to measure 4 feet from that property marker and placed the other stake/stick.

However, before I tied off the string, I lifted it out of the grass and pulled on it a little bit to be sure it wouldn’t sag, be blown around by the wind or otherwise be dragged off by a wondering dog.

Depending on how long your string is, you might find it has a lot of stretch in it before the slack is taken up.  So make sure whatever string and stakes you’re using can handle being tugged on.

When I was sure my line was straight and would remain straight, I tied it off.

Next we measured along the string, every 2 feet to mark where we would dig our holes for the roses.  We used leftover spray paint to mark our spots.  While it’s probably not the most environmentally friendly way to do it, it was on hand and was a way to use up the paint which was already a potential environmental pollutant.

With all the spots down, we rewound the line to get it out of the way while we worked.

Indecently, the process was exactly the same for the 90 degree turn we made from the property line to the garage. We just didn’t have to worry about a perfect off-set, since that was already set  so we eyeballed the placement of the string on both ends. In our case the location was based on where we’ll put a vehicle gate later on. After all, it would be a real bummer not to have access to the back yard if we ever need to get a truck back there.

PLANTING

We bent the rules a little bit.  Normally you would want a hole wide, and deep enough to spread the roots out so they aren’t crowded.  With 150 roses to get into the ground and my husband volunteering to dig, any reasonable hole was just fine with me.

Except for a few places near the trees where there were roots in the way, every hole was the same.  My husband simply drove the shovel in the ground 4 times, as far as it would go, to create a ring around the white dots and pried out a big plug of dirt and sod, leaving it at the side of the hole. Poor guy even broke 2 shovels while helping me.

For the most part, the roses 4 Seasons sent looked like the one pictured below.  There were a few that were bigger and smaller, but on average, this is what we put in the ground.

Since the roots were going in all directions I had to work them into the hole along with the dirt and sod left behind.  Now I didn’t really want the sod growing back as a weedy mess around my beautiful new roses, but without it, I wouldn’t have enough dirt to back fill the hole.

Average RoseTo get around this problem, I put the sod in first, before the rose and soil.  In some cases I had to tear the sod into smaller pieces and work it in between the roots in sort of a cone to drape the roots over the top to get everything to fit back inside.  I didn’t fret if I couldn’t get it all back in the hole and composted the rest.  I just needed it as fill and a small depression isn’t a bad thing, especially when watering, I just didn’t want a row of craters.

The grass will die deep in the hole providing green manure for the rose to feed on as it gets established.

To get the soil in around the roots I crumbled about half of the dirt back in the hole and sprayed it with water from the hose to settle it around the roots. Only spraying until the water was at the same depth as the soil in the hole. I was also careful not to blast the roots too hard.  I need them in good shape to help the plants get established.

After that step I put in about 2 tablespoons of Azomite, the rest of the soil, and watered again.  While not a traditional NPK fertilizer, Azomite has many trace minerals that will help the rose grow strong. The best way is to think of it like giving your plants a vitamin pill.  I used Granular Azomite because the wind is always blowing at my house and I could see a plume of dust fertilizing the whole town if I went with the powered form.

2.5 DAYS ON MY HANDS & KNEES

In all, I spent nearly 2 and a half days crawling along the property line to plant the roses. Which is why, if I do anything this grand again, I’ll break the shipments up and do no more than 50 at a time.

Day 1, Thursday – Layout and 50 roses planted. Wrists, knees, and legs all ached at the end of the day.

Day 2, Friday – 80 roses planted and some darn good advice from my husband to stop for dinner and start again in the morning.  Although I was really close to being done, my body was screaming at me.  I started planting a little after 9am and although I was moving along faster than I had the day before, I was getting slower and slower as the day went on.

Day 3, Saturday – I was excited to be finishing, but at the same time, my body was not happy with me being back on my hands and knees.  I managed to finish up fairly quickly and gather the left over bits of sod to compost.   In fact, while I was gathering the sod, husband dearest was making me lunch and while I ate, he finished picking up the rest.  Then I spent the rest of the day in bed watching Netflix and knitting.

On Sunday, I had to get back to mom duty and all the other things I neglected while working in the yard.  My kitchen – oh the dishes and mess in there, but now that my body is getting over the effects of crawling around the yard, I’m making a dent on the dishes.

AWESOME FUTURE

All I know is that this rose hedge should look amazing in just a few years and then, like the pain of child birth, it will all be worth it.  In fact, the roses planted on the first day were already showing signs of bud growth when I checked on them before getting started Friday morning.

I’m also looking farther into the future when I’m too old to get excited about lawn hacking or even lawn care.  With luck, once these roses establish themselves, I won’t have to do much except admire them.

I’ll keep you updated though and report back on how they’re progressing.

~Karlie

 

Written by Karlie

May 21st, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Begone, Personal-Use only patterns.

with 5 comments

Hand knitting has to be one of the most tedious ways to create fabric, but like so many others, I’m addicted to it and fuel my addiction by sharing the patterns I have created.  Now that I’m writing up patterns, one thing I don’t understand  is why some designers annex their copyright saying that you’re not suppose to use their pattern if you’re going to sell the finished item.

When I create a pattern, I have time on my side.  Although I put in hours of work to develop the pattern and  knit a prototype, I can count on reselling the same pattern many times and many visits to my blog to see the free patterns.  In theory, I’ll eventually break even and may even profit as long as people keep coming back.

However, when someone buys a hand knitted object, they have no need for a pattern.  Regardless of skill, or time, if the buyer could knit the object themselves they would and since they’re not, the pattern used isn’t even a consideration.

Therefor, if people are going to create items for sale from my patterns, I’m going to encourage them to do it.

Here are my caveats (AKA help a Sista out)…

  • Do not redistribute patterns.  After all, selling patterns and blog visitors is what keeps me going. If you sell the yarn I used in one of my patterns and want to redistribute it, please contact me.  My bulk rates are reasonable and I’ll even personalize the PDF with your shop address and logo so it will look snazzy for your customers.
  • If you have helpers knitting finished objects for you, please buy a copy of the pattern for each of them.  Again, selling patterns keeps me going and my bulk rates are reasonable.
  • You must include attribution with the object.  If you’re selling online, please include a link back to either the blog post, here, or the Ravelry pattern.  Or if you’re selling at a craft fair, a note safety pinned to the object with pattern name, Karlie Robinson Designs and  KarlieRobinson.com is the way to go.
  • If you like the pattern well enough to create finished objects to sell, would you do me a favor and post pictures and details at Ravelry? I’d love to see your work.

So here’s to all the budding fiber arts entrepreneurs.  I hope my patterns contribute to your success.

 

 

Written by Karlie

April 25th, 2012 at 12:15 pm