Herd of Cats Shop Update & Photography Woes

Finally, a shop update! It seems like the last one was a million years ago – and it probably was! And for the first time since selling handmade online, I finally have photos that I am satisfied with. I decided last week, after having a very frustrating time with mediocre photos, that something needed to be done. I like to shoot in natural light, but my set up just wasn’t cutting it (I would just use my dining room wall as a backdrop – which was fine, but not great). Welcome pallet wall. I’d love to take the credit for that thing, but it was mostly my husband (I provided moral support?). And boy, do pallets have a ton of nails in them. But regardless of the not-so-fun time disassembling and reassembling pallets, the results are good and I am a happy camper. And the best part is that I can move the wall around as needed – no more waiting for the perfect time of day to shoot. Good photos = justice to the aprons.

Now on to the new aprons. I’ve got some adorable critter prints – I couldn’t resist! That octopus print!

Herd of Cats Aprons

And of course florals (goodness knows I love my florals).

Herd of Cats Aprons

I’m working on some new aprons styles, but my guess is that they won’t be ready for my shop until after the new year – November is the busiest month! It’s all good though.

So that’s what I’ve been up to lately.

Garlic Harvest 2015

I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but I harvested my garlic this week. 10 days from November. I’m really lucky there isn’t snow on the ground.

Let’s talk about what an awful gardener I’ve been this year. Wait, let’s not. I think it’s obvious. The good news is that the garlic is still totally fine! The bad news is that I need to eat it all fresh – or figure out what else I can do with it soon (pickling, freezing, etc). The thing is, when you don’t harvest it at the time you’re supposed to (let’s say, August, in my case), the garlic will think that it should start to get ready for the winter. So once the weather starts to get a bit chillier, like it has been here, each clove will start to get green sprouts (similar to what happens when I plant garlic in the fall for harvesting the next year). As well, all those layers of skin that help the garlic cure, have pretty much just fallen off – some skins on my garlic are still intact, but most have come off.

Garlic

Also, harvesting it at this point is more difficult. The stalks are all dried out, so you really need to dig deep and pull the bulbs by hand. No big deal, just a little extra effort. I say no big deal, but I was actually cursing quite a bit.

So the moral of the story is: harvest your garlic on time if you want to actually be able to cure it properly for long term storage. Otherwise, be prepared to have a lot of garlic that you can only use in the short term.

And as always, the best part of the garlic harvest (besides eating it) is the wonderful smell of fresh pungent garlic filling the air of my home. I love it.

Sometimes I’m not an awful gardener! Here is proof (last year’s garlic harvest)!

The Horrible Garden Season of 2015

How is it possibly the middle of October already? I’m having a hard time expressing my guilt over not updating my blog in quite awhile. The truth is, life got in the way. But I’m here.

This gardening season was pretty much a big fat bust. It started off really strong, but got destroyed somewhere in the middle by the big hail storm. It bounced back a bit, but was pretty disappointing all around.

The community garden took the biggest hit – which is funny since it is almost directly across the street from our garden at home. Our home garden got it pretty bad, but somehow the community garden got it worse. The community garden didn’t really bounce back and I pretty much just abandoned that garden for the season (don’t worry, I eventually cleaned it out like a good gardener).

Pumpkin

My lone alley pumpkin – I’m shocked that I even got this guy! My pumpkins plants took a huge beating from the hail.

Surprisingly my squash and tomato harvest at home was better than anticipated. The squash plants mostly bounced back and then started producing edibles. As for the tomatoes, there were a lot of bruised and un-salvageable fruits (probably about 1/3 of the harvest), but all of the undamaged tomatoes were amazing.

So now the season is basically finished, and I’m left with the task of cleaning up the garden remains and getting ready for the upcoming winter. In all honesty, I’m actually glad that the garden season is finished – I just need to put that difficult season behind me. I’m sad, but I also feel a bit of relief – this time of year is always difficult.

Purple Cauliflower

My cauliflower harvest consisted of just this guy.

In order to try to get myself pumped up for the end of the season, I’ve recently become obsessed with natural yarn and fabric dyeing. So I’ve been scouring my own garden to see what sorts of things I can collect and experiment with. I was able to get a pretty decent harvest of marigolds from the front yard (I’m still waiting for my mordant to arrive, so you’ll need to wait to see the results. I know, I’m impatient too). I also harvested the few rose hips that I had (why is it that when you actually decide to do something with them, the harvest is so weak?) –  I’ll have to forage for some more. And I’ve also got an indigo dyeing kit that I cannot wait to try out. I know there isn’t much time before the snow arrives, so I need to get started on the experiments very soon. In addition to the dyeing experiments, I’ve also been making a mental list of some of the projects I can keep myself busy with this winter (needle felting, maybe learning to crochet, starting a big knitting project, more weaving, some sewing adventures) – and I am getting a little excited about them.

Marigolds

Lots of marigolds waiting to be used as dye!

Finally, my apologies for not updating the blog in awhile – I was doing everything I could to avoid facing the damaged garden, including neglecting my poor (primarily gardening) blog. I’m going to try my hardest to get back on a regular posting schedule – I love writing about gardening, and cooking, and crafting, and whatever else. I will make an effort. Let’s put this season behind us – onwards and upwards!

Garden Update

It has been a long time since I’ve written about my garden. The last time was over a month ago, when I wrote about the hail storm that pretty much wiped out my entire garden. I was pretty depressed for a few weeks afterwards, avoiding the garden and even avoiding looking out my window – I’d thought things were finished for the year. But in a surprising turn of events, the resilient little trooper made quite the comeback!

Thank goodness! I don’t want to say I’d given up on gardening forever, but I’d pretty much given up for this year. So to my surprise, when those shredded zucchini plants started sprouting new leaves, and then flowering, and then producing food, I was ecstatic!

Some things did actually get damaged beyond hope – like a lot of my potted tomato plants. But the indeterminate tomatoes that were growing in my raised bed actually came through a lot better than I ever expected! In fact, I even harvested my first Blue Beauty this past week!

Blue Beauty Tomato

And I somehow narrowly missed every single frost warning in the last week. So my plan is actually to go out and harvest the bulk of the tomatoes this week, before they actually do get murdered by the Winter Man. I’ll also make my way over to the community garden to clean it up, and harvest all of the remaining zucchini in the front and back yard.

Zinnia

My zinnias are absolutely stunning this year! A few holes and bruises from the hail, but I can deal with that!

Other than that, I’m feeling much better about winding down in the garden now. It seems too early to be time, but after this next weekend is over (I am so excited about the Commonwealth Collector’s Club pop-up market!), I am going to dedicate quite a bit more time to putting the garden to sleep for the winter.

Herd of Cats Aprons at Branch Market & Studio

Wow, what a whirlwind of excitement around here lately! Secret Wool Society has its first pop-up market coming up, and Herd of Cats aprons are about to make their first appearance in a real live storefront!

Herd of Cats has been pretty low-key lately as I’ve been focusing all of my energy on weaving, which is why I was surprised (and very flattered) when Branch contacted me asking if I would be interested in being a featured artist in their new market and studio. Um, yes please!

Branch is a brand new market and studio located in the small quaint community of Black Diamond, Alberta (just a short drive outside the city of Calgary), featuring unique handmade goods from local artisans, as well as a space to teach creative classes. I am so excited to have my aprons featured in such a lovely and unique space. If you’re local, I highly suggest making the trip out to visit Jodie and Rebecca, they have created a truly wonderful space.

Branch

And in case you’re wondering, I do have an Etsy shop update in the works for Herd of Cats, so even if you are not able to visit Branch in person, you can browse my aprons via the internet!

P.S. I will be back with a garden update soon! Things were looking pretty bleak after the hail storm, but luckily a lot bounced back and I’m looking at a half decent harvest. More details soon, I promise!