Catch Up & A New Venture

I have not posted in an embarrassingly long time. I have had a lot of knitting to share and ample time to sit down and work on a blog post, but I’ve had a hard time feeling like I deserve to spend my time doing so. I got laid off at the end of September from my job of almost two years. (Go back a little over two years and there is a nearly identical post.) I do not have the luck when it comes to steady jobs. I have also not had the luck as far as finding a new job. Most of my spare time I feel I must spend hunting for, applying for and sometimes interviewing for jobs. I am trying to remain positive that the right thing will come along, but some days that is really, really difficult. I actually feel like I’ve interviewed for the right job many times over since September but I have not gotten an offer from anyone yet. The market is very competitive right now. At every interview I have managed to get I have been told how many people (usually 50+) applied for the job and how they are interviewing at least half of them. It takes just the tiniest little things for someone else to have a slight edge over someone else. I am signed up with about 5 temp agencies (as of today) and have gotten just a couple of jobs from them since I’ve been home. One of them was a month-long. I am getting unemployment. Things could be worse…but I really just want to be done with this job hunting phase and be back to work.

I will get around to talking (briefly) about what knitting I have finished since my last post but first let me tell you about my Etsy shop. In a desperate attempt to feel like I’m contributing (even just a little bit) to my household while I look for my next job I have started an Etsy shop. I have been told by several people in the past that I should consider opening an Etsy shop and selling my knitted items. Mostly I’m selling some cute, decorative Mason Jars with knitted cozies. I made a slew of these as Christmas gifts this year. I am also posting a few items that if people would be interested in they can custom order and I will knit it up special for them. I’m not telling you about this shop to ask you to go buy something from me, but I am asking that if you are an Etsy user, please go visit my shop and maybe like it or an item (or several) that I’m selling. The more traffic that I get and the more likes I get the more attention it will draw from others and maybe some potential customers will find their way to me.. Thanks in advance!  Here’s the link: NicolesKnitGifts

New Finished Objects (corresponding photos below)

A. Turkish Bed Socks by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas – I made these for me. Despite having to battle second sock syndrome with these I love how they turned out and hope to make them again.

B. Pacifier Leash by Angela Munden – Made for my niece. Sometimes she likes to chew on it…silly girl!

C. Wildstyle Hat by Me – Minnie dressed up as Wildstyle from the Lego movie for Halloween. I improvised a hat to look like her hair.

D. Elizabeth Elaine Dress by Taiga Hilliard – I Love this designer. She has the sweetest little baby dresses! I am gearing up to knit another! This one was for my niece! She wore it in her 6 month photo shoot!

E. Molly Hat by Erin Ruth – One of my fabulous sisters in law and I organized a trade. I would knit her a hat and she would make me a quilted table runner. I do not have a picture of this hat on my SIL…so my husband is the stand in model.  (Don’t tell him.)

F. Milo by Georgie Hallam – I love this pattern, I have knit it a few times before. This one was part of my niece’s Christmas gift.

G. Candle Cozies by Silje Camelie – I made these as Christmas gifts for my kids teachers as well as for several family members. They are fun to knit and really cute! (These are also what I’m selling in my Etsy shop.)

H. Chopper Mitten Liners – I used the pattern Classic Mittens by the Bernhard Ulmann Co. to make chopper mitten liners for my Dad. I hope they work well for him on ice fishing trips. 

I. Calypso Shrug/Shoulder Wrap by Debbie Haymark – I started this ages ago and hated it. For some reason I remembered it and went back to work on it. It became my Mom’s Christmas gift. I still need to get better pictures of it before my Mom gets the final product this weekend.

Summer At Last!

How is it the end of June already? I wish I could quote the old cliché here that time flies when you’re having fun, but I feel like I’m still waiting for the fun to start. I guess that is how it goes when you work 40 hours a week and your fun is restricted to the weekends only. I have a couple of days off coming up that will give me a four-day weekend. I am taking my kids to family camp that my father-in-law has been nice enough to get them to for the past several years. I plan to sit by the lake and supervise their swimming while I knit and knit and knit. Doesn’t that sound fabulous? I have taken to eating my lunch at work outside everyday that I can so I feel like I’m getting to enjoy some summer. I typically soak in the sun while I eat, knit and listen to my most current audiobook.

I promised I would post the impromptu item I was working on for Baby Girl when I was done. I finished about a month ago already, but here they are. Leg warmers! I love leg warmers on babies. They are both adorable and practical. That being said, I’ll have to wait to see Baby Girl get some use out of these. The size range on these is about 3 months to 3 years. Right now she is too skinny to keep them on her little legs, but since it is summer that works out fine. I used a solid yarn with a variegated yarn. I almost made it though a whole color repeat. I kind of love that these coordinate instead of exactly match. (This pattern is Legwarmies by Alana Dakos)

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My daughter felt much neglected, knitting wise, during the months leading up to Baby Girl’s birth. And, looking back at the number of things I knit for Baby Girl, I guess she has a point. So, I made it my first priority to cast something on for Minnie. She actually wanted a fun pair of rainbow leg warmers too, but I told her I’d knit those in fall since she shouldn’t wear leg warmers during MN summers anyway. For a few years now I have been thinking of knitting her a summery top. I decided on the Kismet pattern by Sara Gresbach. (If you are at all interested in knitting a summer top, go look at my Ravelry profile(GreenEyed79), there are oodles of tank top type patterns in my favorites.) I am nearly done! At a certain point you split the round you’ve been knitting in and knit half for the front and half for the bank of the tank top and sew them together at the top of the shoulders. I am anxious to see how this fits and how it looks after it is blocked. At the bottom edge there is a little seed stitched edge that is probably supposed to keep it from rolling up but right now that part is always folded up over the body, so hopefully blocking will remedy that I have gotten no other work done. Just knitting and knitting on the tank top. (It has been good TV knitting as it is pretty mindless to knit endless rounds of stockinette.) I do want to get back to my Eiffel Towel shawl! I also plan to start on a Zip up the back Hooded Sweater for Baby Girl soon.

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Last week I went and spent a gift card at my favorite yarn shop (Amazing Threads in Maple Grove, MN) that I’ve been hoarding since Christmas. As I poked around looking for the best yarn to spend my money on I thought about how I go about spending a gift card. Typically I do not go in with a specific project in mind. I just wander around and buy what calls to me the most. Which is probably stupid. That is probably why some of the yarn in my stash has been unused for as long as it has. I wish I was better about shopping for specific projects. This time I did spend part of it on yarn for the hooded sweater for Baby Girl, but the rest was just random yarn that I liked and thought might knit up into something nice at some point. How do you spend your gift cards?

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I’ve been looking at my list of unfinished projects again, big mistake! How do I let things get this out of control? I need to sit down and seriously consider if I’m going to finish these items or if I should frog some of them and reclaim the yarn. I am pretty sure that the Shaelyn is getting frogged. I have come to hate that shawl. Something went wrong with it and I have spent hours trying to sort it back out and I’m not getting anywhere. And after all this time I just don’t love it like I used to. I should save the yarn and knit something else out of it.  Same with the Brickless…for as anxious as I was to cast it on, I’m not sure I’m feeling it anymore. I also think I should have used larger needles. I should go online and see what else I could do with yarn from both of these projects before I frog.

My sister has gotten some proofs back from her newborn photos shoot of Baby Girl. They are so gorgeous! I was especially excited to see photos of Baby Girl modeling some of what I knit for her. Here are few are my favorites. These photos were taken by Rebecca Zenefski. Her website is: www.byrebeccastudios.com you can also visit her on Facebook at: facebook.com/byRebeccaStudios

Enjoy your summer! Eat your lunch outside in the sun if you have to!

Here’s a picture of my kiddos from their last day of school.

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She’s Here!!

My newest niece arrived quite dramatically, early on Friday morning! She is beautiful! I got to go meet her on Friday and bring the last few gifts I’ve been working on for her (currently, anyway.) So, now I can share all that I’ve been working on for so many months!

Back in January I started in a blanket for Baby Girl. The pattern is the Zig Zag Baby Blanket by knitculture.com. I really like the pattern but I have one complaint. Why would anyone design a baby blanket that is so weirdly skinny? I cast on the larger number of stitches listed in the pattern. I knit a good six inches before realizing that the blanket was more like a wide scarf than a blanket. I soldiered on for several more inches hoping it would seem more acceptable as I got more of it knit. It did not. Not wanting to start completely from square one (hindsight being what it is…I wish I would have started over at this point) I decided that I’d finish this ‘panel’ (as I decided to refer to the blanket) and then knit another panel and join them to make a larger blanket. I finish the first panel and decided that I’d make one little color change for the second panel just to mix things up a bit. I also decided to change the order the colors fell in to mix it up some more. (I wish I hadn’t done this.) In my head these changes were cute and lovely. In reality it makes the blanket a little too busy for my exact taste. It’s not hideous, but just not what I had pictured in my head when I started out knitting this. When all the knitting was done and all the millions of ends were woven in I had to figure out how best to join them. I thought I’d try do a crocheted join like I did on all those slippers I knit at Christmas time. I didn’t like how that looked. It might have been better if I’d managed to crochet a bit looser. I took that apart and just did a kind of rustic sewing job. I mostly like how it looks and it does seem to tie the two pieces together well. It seems like I always end up with some kind of snafu with my projects. I’m not sure if it is just me or if everyone else just doesn’t talk about the adventures their knitting takes them on. Since a big part of why I write this blog is to remind myself of how different projects went and to LEARN from my mistakes I am just being honest about what a mess I mange to make of even the simplest projects. Hopefully Baby Girl will get use out of this blanket, even if  it didn’t fulfill all of Auntie’s knitting dreams.

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Speaking of knitting dreams…the dress I knit Baby Girl might be my favorite thing I have ever knit! Really! The pattern is amazing and SO well written. The knitting was exciting and challenging, yet manageable. (Don’t worry there were still plenty of hurdles to be faced.) I love how the finished product turned out! I knit the Lizzy Dress by Taiga Hilliard Designs. I used a ball of fingering weight Stroll by Knit Picks in the Blue Violet color way. (I actually emailed my sister a picture of about 6 balls of yarn I was considering and told her to pick. She narrowed it down to two.) Since I mentioned above I try to be honest while writing this and confess all my knitting messes I’m trying to think of what went wrong with this. The only two things I’m coming up with are really minor and not really messes. When I finished the bodice of the dress and looked at the neck hole I couldn’t image that I had knit this at all in gauge. It looked entirely too small to fit around even a newborn’s neck. When the dress was blocked and I saw my niece in person I can see that I was wrong. The sizing is just fine – hooray! As this is a lace pattern there were many rows I had to count back and figure out where I went wrong when I ended the row with too many or too few stitches left. I don’t see this as big mess either…I think that is just how knitting lace goes. It can be so easy to lose track of yarn overs and whatnot. If you are in the market for a baby dress knitting pattern I would HIGHLY recommend this one! I am kind of considering knitting the whole thing for Baby Girl again in a bigger size and a different color. Really! I finished this dress within a few hours of Baby Girl’s birth! I actually thought I’d have at least a couple more days to finish up. It was great timing though. I finished knitting, washed, blocked and went to bed. I heard early the next morning that she’d arrived and went to the store to buy buttons before going to the hospital to meet her! (How’s that for timing!)

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I also knit her a little headband to go with this dress. I crocheted the flower, but I bought the cute stretchy headband at JoAnn’s. I attached the flower and the accent button and called it good. (I also did this in the morning before I went to meet her .)

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In the midst of finishing up baby gifts in the last month or so I did start one new thing. We were going to WI for a birthday party that my sister would be at and I didn’t want to bring either of the gifts above that she didn’t yet know about. I cast on a shawl….possibly for myself. I am famous for two things when it comes to shawls. 1.) Not ever finishing them. (I have at least 3 shawls at home I can think of that are in various states of completion.) 2.) Finishing a shawl that I thought was for myself only to give it away to someone else.  I do hope to finish this one and I hope that it really is for me this time. It is the Dinner in the Eiffel Tower Shawl by Jessie Dodington. It was designed to look like different elements of the Eiffel Tower’s structure. It is really pretty. It has been challenging knitting for me. I am enjoying it and hope that my finished project does the pattern justice.

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This is the best picture I have so far. I need to get it on a larger circular needle so I can stretch it out. Sorry!

I have SO many more things I want to knit Baby Girl. I am happy I hit all my big deadlines before she arrived. But, I plan to keep casting on things for  her 🙂 (Here is a sneak peek at one.) It will be finished shortly and I will share details when it is.

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Here are a couple photos of my new niece in a few of the hats I made her. Isn’t she she cutest?

 

 

 

How Time Flies!

My posts keep getting further apart and fewer in number. I just haven’t been feeling like I have anything interesting to say. That, and life has just been too busy. When my kids were little and I was kept busy in the evenings just caring for them, I imagined all the free time I would have one day when they were older and more self-sufficient. Well, I forgot to factor in how much time I would spend on school stuff with them. Between work and keeping my kids on track with the business of going to school, I have almost no time for me. And when I do get time for me I am often too drained to do much besides consider sleeping. Not that I would trade any of it for anything in the world! I am just trying to make the most if it now while I can. I’m sure before I know it we will be empty nesters and I will have nothing but time to knit and read (and I’ll wish I still had kiddos to take care of.)

Since I last posted the kids have gone back to school, LJ turned 10, Halloween came and went and just yesterday we had our first measurable snow fall in the Twin Cities. I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is in a few short weeks! And I’m trying not to even think about Christmas – too close for comfort.

Despite how busy I feel, I have been knitting a few things. I am still working on the Afterthought Heel Socks. Remember how I thought those were going to be the way to go with socks because they were going to be so quick and easy?? They would be quick and easy if I wasn’t so bored while knitting them. I am hoping to finish the boring pair I’m working on for me before finding a totally busy, intricate sock pattern that will excite me and keep me interested in the knitting.

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I am also still working on the Saroyan shawl. It is lovely! I am well into the second skein of yarn. I should be able to start the decreases soon.  I am anxious to try it on and see if I’m keeping it for me or gifting it. It might be a good Christmas gift for my Mom. (Good thing she doesn’t read this.) I would happily knit this again…probably in a more solid color next time.

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I made my kids their new winter hats. Only Minnie got a new winter coat from Grandma this year. LJ’s coat from last year was a little big last year, so it was still going to work for him this year. I did make him a new hat though…now he has choices. For Allison I knit the Amanda Hat by Gina House. It was a really fun pattern to knit. It was a slip stitch pattern which creates the X’s in the fabric. For Logan I did the Mock Rib Watch Cap by Tanis Gray. I fell in love with the feel of Eco Cloud yarn at my LYS and they had a sample of this pattern knit up with this yarn. I just made it a bit less slouchy for him.

I frogged my Ice Queen. It was turning out fine, but it was slow knitting and I realized that I didn’t think I could see myself ever wearing it. I’m not glamorous enough for it and it wouldn’t mesh that well with either of my winter coats. I was sure that I would wear just a scarf out of this yarn though. So, I am slowly knitting a scarf with the yarn. I am adding a few beads though. While I’m not glamorous , I still appreciate a bit of sparkle.

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The only other new thing that I’ve started is the Brickless by Martina Behm. It is another shawl/scarf sort of piece. I think it is for me, but my projects have a way of belonging to others by the time I’m done with them. It just depends on if I think I can wear it or not. I had no intention of knitting this. One of my favorite podcasts was doing a knit a long with Martina Behm patterns, which I wasn’t participating in. Then, people started posting their shawls on Facebook and Instagram and I fell in love with it. I managed to resist for a few weeks and told myself that it could just go on my list of projects to do someday. Well, you can see how well that worked out.

Happy Autumn/Winter!!

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I Heart Pintrest

Well, we finally moved out of winter in Minnesota, but apparently we’ve skipped spring entirely and moved straight into summer. On Friday, April 19th my kids had a snow day thanks to a late in the season blizzard. This weekend it was in the 70s and we hit 80 today! What a difference. But we still have brown grass and leafless tress. It is crazy to think that my kids will be done with school in a little over a month.

Friday the 19th:

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Yesterday:

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I finished my sunglasses sock. I like how it turned out, but I think the ribbing was meant to keep the glasses in, but mine doesn’t. I just made a little tie to cinch it closed and it works fine. I even like how the purple and green stripes worked out. This was a fun little pattern to do.

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I started a Citron with some of stash…and I’m pretty sure it is getting frogged. I’m just not feeling it. It might be my choice of yarn. Or, it might be the fact that I was doing yarn overs for all the make-ones, which of course results in a series of holes. None of the other photos I have seen of this pattern have those holes, so…I’m not sure mine is right. It might also be that I discovered that I read the pattern wrong. I should probably just start it over again because I haven’t knit in days because I don’t want to work on this.

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Onto the subject matter which is reflected in the title of this post! Pintrest is awesome. I am not new to it, but I felt the need to express my love for it publicly. If you have not checked Pintrest out, do yourself a favor and do it! It is such a fantastic place to get ideas. Ideas for anything! I especially love to look at recipes and crafty stuff. But, there is SO much more on there. I also get a lot of good ideas of things to do with my kids. LJ’s Arts and Academics project for school this year was a Pintrest idea: a Lego maze! I found a craft that I was interested in trying and so Minnie and I did it today. We lined cake pans and a muffin tin with designs of pony beads and then baked them at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. And we have…sun catchers! Well, only one is a sun catcher so far, I need my husband to drill holes in the others.

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I am hoping to get a new knitting project going that really inspires me. I need my knitting to keep my stress levels under control. It has been too many days since I knit at all and it would feel good to sit down with some knitting and let some stress go.

We had a little thunderstorm pass through earlier tonight. Hopefully our April shower will bring some May flowers (and leaves and green grass!)

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Mystery Demystified

Well, my mystery project is finished and it has been gifted to the recipient, so I can share it now. My sister-in-law is currently on her first trip to her dream destination…London, England!! Back in the fall she asked me if I would make her a shawl she found and fell in love with in a Jane Austen Knits magazine. I agreed, but should have gotten the ball rolling on it right away. Skip to one month before her trip when I remembered it. At that point we determined I would probably not be able to finish the shawl for her without giving up sleep entirely for the next month. Feeling bad, I looked at knitting patterns on Ravelry, determined to find a pattern I COULD finish in the time I had left before she crossed the pond. I picked out a pattern I’d heard about on podcast I love. Paula from Knitting Pipeline is the designer of this pattern called Ellison Bay.  It is a gorgeous pattern. I had a great time knitting it. I’ve even had a few people ask me to make one for them too!

Here are photos of the shawl and of my sister-in-law wearing her shawl in London. The brooch she is wearing with it she bought at Portobello Market in Notting Hill! Jealous!!

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I finished another gift earlier this week. Booties for baby Gemma. I have always wanted to try the Saartje’s Booties pattern. I actually used a pattern which someone wrote based on the Saartje pattern but instead of knit flat you knit it in the round and inside out. I really detest knitting things flat if it is something I can knit in the round. I’m glad Kris Stanton figured this out and shared her pattern: Saartje’s Booties the Bockstark Way. Hopefully Baby Gemma will get some use out of them this spring!

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I started on another pattern that I found in my book, Sock Yarn One Skein Wonders. It is a quick one. It is called Ruby Begonia Sunglasses Sock. I have a case for my sunglasses, but it takes up entirely too much room in my purse. This one will keep my sunglasses from getting all scratched up, but is also skinny. I am using some yarn that I purchased online and was really unhappy with the colors compared to how they were shown online. The colors are turning out better than I thought they would.

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We are SLOWLY moving into spring here in Minnesota. I’m hoping we are really and truly done with snow. Our yard has almost no snow left! I have never been so happy to see so much ugly brown grass. What a change from last year. Last year on Easter morning our photos were taken out in our lush green yard. Here is one from this year, inside since we still had a lot of snow.

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Happy Spring!!

Ugly Socks!!

These last couple of insanely busy months have been a good example of why I need knitting in my life. Between work, the kids being back at school and family obligations I wasn’t finding a lot of time for myself or my knitting. Even the time after my kids go to bed and I’m still sitting in the living room watching TV has not been spent knitting. On top of being too busy, I was also too tired. During this period of time where I wasn’t doing much knitting things felt very disjointed and I was not handling stress well. My job is at the peak of busy season right now. My co-worker (there are only two of us who do what we do) and I are so, so, so busy and there is not an end in sight to the mountains of work coming in. While I know I’m not expected to get it all done I can’t help but let it stress me out. I go home exhausted and sore from sitting in a certain hunched position all day and typically with one of my eyes twitching.  Not good. Even though I was sure it would be mistake to get back into my knitting because I was already tired, I did…and it is the thing that eases the stress of it all. I’m handling it all more calmly and the eye twitch rarely shows up. Moral of the story…keep knitting; even if only a couple of rows a day because it is where I let go of the stress.

Since I have not been taking a lot of time to knit it is a good time to finish up unfinished projects, of which I have many. I have been anxious to cast new things on again, but I’m trying to patient and wait until I have more time to spend working on them. After I finished my cousin’s mittens (Berry Stitch Mittens – see below) and shipped them off to Milwaukee I cast on the second Hermione’s Everyday Sock for my pair. I’ve been working on it for a few weeks now and am proud to say that I finished! I have a love/hate relationship with these socks. I love the yarn and I love the pattern but I’m not sure I like them together. My first thought evey time I look at these is…wow, those are ugly! The pattern is very textured and I think with a yarn this wildly colored it is just a bit much. I liked the yarn fine on its own and on the bottom of the foot where you stop doing the textured pattern it looks pretty. That being said I will wear these ugly socks proudly (to bed, not out in public!)

Berry Stitch Mittens for my Cousin

My Ugly Socks!

What to work on next? I need to finish the Traditional Gansey Socks and I’m probably half way done with the second one. I have an American Girl Doll sweater for Minnie that needs one sleeve. I am more than half way done with the Shaelyn Shawl, but that one needs some tinking back and fixing which just makes me want to grind my teeth right now. I have more unfinished projects than these, but these are the main contenders.

Actually, before going back to another unfinished project I should knit my kids their winter hats. Every year my mom buys my kids (and their cousins) new winter coats. She buys them on clearance in the spring so she gets great deals on them. I’m amazed that she always manages to find such cute coats on clearance! So every year I knit them a new hat to match their new coat. For LJ’s new coat I’m planning on using the extra yarn from Baby J’s back zip sweater. I want to make him the Koolhaas Hat by Jared Flood, but wonder if it looks too feminine. I will have to show it to LJ and see what he thinks. For Minnie I want to do a purple hat that matches her coat and add a flower in a pink…or maybe a beret. Thoughts?

New Coats

The Koolhaas hat by Jared Flood

I can’t believe that Halloween is less than two weeks away! Our pumpkins don’t look any different from the last picture I shared. They don’t seem to be getting any bigger. Next year we will have to try to plant them earlier and see if they grow bigger for us.

Happy Autumn!