yarn along

Joining Ginny in her Yarn Along over at Small Things.

The shawl is almost off the needles. I had hoped to finish it last night after the kids went to bed. What, 30 rows and casting off was too much to expect at 11pm at night? Yes, indeed it was and as I became more tired I found myself missing increases, not realizing it until 20 stitches later, and having to rip back and fix it. If I have learned anything in my 5 short years of knitting it’s to stop and put whatever I am working on down when I start to make silly mistakes, especially when I am extra tired, as it’s only a recipe for an assured, and rather frustrating, disaster.

DSCN9723

Luckily, I already cast on my next project over a month ago (does anyone else do this? I always start my next project before the last one is done as if the world would come to an end if something wasn’t lying around the house sitting on a set of needles), a Honey Cowl using a delicious hank of Madelinetosh Merino Light which I snuck in splurged on after stumbling upon it while shopping for yarn to use on the few holiday presents that I was planning to make last December. It was the only hank left in the amazing colorway of Earl Gray and I just couldn’t leave it sitting there, all sad and lonely like, on the yarn shop shelf now could I?

DSCN9732

I brought my new find home, immediately put it on the swift, wound it and tried to decide what to make with it. I had a very difficult time finding a pattern due to the fact that I only had the single hank, so larger projects were out of the running. I didn’t want to use it on something for the babes because they always, oddly enough, outgrow their hand knits (I know, how dare they) which are then tucked away in the hope chest for their little ones to wear someday. This yarn was too gorgeous to be worn for mere months and so I decided to make something for myself, something I rarely do, although you wouldn’t know it looking at the two projects that I have shared here with you.

DSCN9731

I am probably pushing the yardage I have to complete a large size Honey Cowl but I really wanted something simple that would highlight the beauty of the yarn (I think any intricate stitch work would have detracted from it) and I was really in the mood for a simple, quick knit that didn’t necessarily require a lot of attention while I worked on it. Apparently, I will also be needing a nice cozy cowl by the end of this week as today’s 50 degree weather is soon going to be replaced with snow and below freezing temperatures, yet again.

DSCN9724

While I sit and knit I pulled Keeping Bees by Ashley English off the shelf to thumb through because we finally have a local and natural beekeeper (thanks to a recent trip to our local food co-op and a quick and serendipitous perusing of their ever helpful bulletin board) coming this weekend to talk to us about our bee situation.* See, ever since we have moved in we have had a hive that took residence in the wall of our main livestock barn, which also happens to be located right at the gate to entering the hops yard. Consequently, Dad was stung at least three times last summer, just walking through the gate, and Kevin and I ended up spending a lot of our time, down there, shooing the kids away from the spot. Bees have always been on our ever growing homestead agenda but no one here has any experience or practical knowledge and we have had an extremely hard time find someone local willing to guide us. We have no interest in killing off an entire, and apparently perfectly healthy, hive but they obviously can’t stay where they are. Ideally we would just like to gently relocate them to a better spot on the property that is safe for both them and us, while also being able to harvest some honey in the near future.

DSCN9691

Hopefully come next fall we will be the proud stewards of a honeybee hive that looks less like this one…

DSCN9735

and more like this one!

What are you knitting, crafting, and reading this week?

*The irony of this post and the unintended relationship between my knitting, reading and weekend plans does not elude me. However, it was completely unintentional and I didn’t even realize it until I had finished writing the post. Let’s chalk up my delayed realization to not having had a full night of sleep in over four years. That, and for quite a while now, I have had honey (and all things honeybee for that matter) on the brain, so maybe I unconsciously conjured the current theme of life here on the farm! 😉

baby, it’s too cold outside

20130123-163617.jpg

We have had quite the cold snap around here as of late. A week with temperatures feeling like they are below zero, or colder. Hence, we have only done the absolutely necessary outside (breaking water in the few unheated waters, delivering daily meals and collecting eggs), you would too if, while milking your cow, the milk was freezing to the side of the pail almost instantaneously! Instead we have been attending to indoor chores (ugh, I’m getting tired of looking at tax paperwork) and doing our best to entertain ourselves while being cooped up for what looks to be a relatively short period of time. I have never been so happy to see a HIGH of 20 in the forecast.

20130123-163505.jpg

The sunrise is beautiful but I would rather be curled up inside, in front of the fire, with a hot cup of coffee.

20130123-163526.jpg

That 6 degrees on there, it actually felt like -15.

20130123-163434.jpg

They have spent a lot of time staring out the windows, wondering why we won’t let them go out to play in the snow.

20130123-163543.jpg

When we do venture out we are constantly looking for a quick escape from the frigid temperatures, this day we linger a little longer than usual in the barn wishing that sunlight streaming in actually felt warm.

DSCN9670

Through it all the ladies have kept up their laying and we have been fighting to keep the coop feeling warm for them. We do come out to a few frozen and, consequently, cracked eggs everyday though.

With every challenge there comes opportunity (that’s been my daily mantra as of late after all) and with our extra time inside we have been…

DSCN9682

Making future plans.

20130123-163715.jpg

Grabbing a nap when we can.

20130123-163659.jpg

Taking time to play games, Trivial Pursuit for the adults, Crazy 8s or Go Fish for the younger set and Scrabble for the bunch of us.

20130126-213753.jpg

Cuddling up in front of here whenever possible.

DSCN9674

Taking the time to sit and create when the urge strikes us.

DSCN9672

Being warmed by the sweetness that the kids show us. PJ brought this back to me after a trip out with Nonni. I think he learned that from his daddy. I’m glad he’s been paying attention.

20130125-003432.jpg

Been waking up to this in the slow cooker for breakfast, hoping it will help us to warm up on these very cold mornings. Overnight Oatmeal: Steel Cut oats cooked in milk and water, your choice of fruit (in this case Ida Red apples) cinnamon and maple syrup. Yum!

20130123-163742.jpg

And when nothing else was able to warm us up we indulged in a glass of this (Rhubarb Tea is on the agenda for spring.) It’s delicious and if you haven’t tried it yet you should grab a bottle, your sweetie and cuddle up under a blanket, preferably by a roaring fire.

Here’s to staying warm. Cheers!

joining a yarn along

DSCN9636

I have been wondering how to include my knitting projects here for a while now. I am not a master knitter, we are not processing our own fleece yet and this is decidedly not a knitting and crafting blog. However, crafting, in all it manifestations, is a part of all of our lives, usually on a daily basis, which is why I would like to share a project here and there. I do not create patterns from scratch in my spare time (maybe I would if I had spare time?) with the exception of some Elizabeth Zimmerman sweaters. If you are unfamiliar with knitting, they are made using a predetermined calculation for sizing the sweater with different neck options. You take measurements of the person the sweater is for, figure out gauge and input your numbers into Elizabeth’s equation and, like magic, you have all your pertinent stitch counts.

DSCN9639

Anyway, I am a fairly new reader to Ginny’s blog, Small Things, but her Wednesday Yarn Along seems like the perfect way to post updates on my knitting projects, also infusing each week with incentive to make progress when motivation begins to wane. All while affording me a way to not only include what I am reading at the moment, but to get some great inspiration and ideas, both of the knitting and book sort, and, at the same time, sharing it here with you.

DSCN9643

This is my version of a Textured Shawl Recipe, not a proper pattern, per say, but more of a guide in using different stitches while using your preferred method of knitting up a triangle shawl. My notes (what little of them there are) can be found here on my Ravelry page. I had bought some Malabrigo Worsted at my LYS, it’s not my favorite yarn to work with but it is soft and this particular colorway is quite pretty. Depending on the light it can appear anywhere from purple, to gray and even sometimes black. I had actually put this on the needles before the holidays but with the christmas knitting and crafting surge, which always takes hold in December, I set it aside until after the new year.

DSCN9632

If you asked Kevin about my knitting he would tell you that I am most definitely a frustrated pattern writer at heart because every time I choose a pattern to knit I inevitably have to tweak it. I tell him that is what all knitters do, hoping to attain a custom fit or to use a preferred method, but I have yet to convince him and his stock response is “If you aren’t going to follow the directions why don’t you just make a pattern for yourself.” (I am quite sure that I lack both in knowledge and creativity to make my own patterns so, for now, I will stick with using those written by others.) As usual this project was no different and with suggestions from Ravelry users I made a few changes, the biggest being that I decided to reverse the called for textured pattern on the left side of the shawl so that everything appeared to radiate from the center line knowing that once completed it would drive me nuts if it did not . I am happy with the result achieved, thanks to that minor tweak, but I think it caused the knitting to become tedious and slow (maybe that’s why the pattern writer chose not to reverse it herself?) I can’t deny that I’m looking forward to casting off soon and moving on to something else.

DSCN9644

As for the books, I am reading Shannon Hayes’ Radical Homemakers, which I thought I had not read, then when I looked at the Kindle app on the IPad, realized that I had bought it over a year ago and had already gotten through over half of it. Since I have been feeling frustrated as of late, and in need of a little encouragement in this lifestyle we have chosen, I decided to reread and actually finish it this time. I also have been “stealing” Kevin’s abridged version of Henry Stephens’s Book of the Farm, a gift that I had given him for Solstice and that he obviously does not guard well. It is a book from 19th century Britain, a sort of “how to” of living life on a farm, which is broken up and organized according to the four seasons. It is loaded with ideas on how to work and live on the farm using old and often quite creative methods. I love it!

What have you been Knitting (or just crafting in general) and reading these days?

we went a wassailing…

DSCN9509

DSCN9496

Yes, you read that right, we went wassailing to our lone apple tree (the same apple tree that I wrote about this past summer) in hopes of inspiring more of an offering from her this coming autumn. It was the final celebration of our holiday season. From what I could gather in my research, wassailing usually commences on Twelfth Night (January 6th) or Old Twelfth Night (January 17th) in most counties in England. We settled on the 6th as it felt like more of a completion to the season.

DSCN9500

DSCN9499

DSCN9502

The kids gathered musical instruments and we made a raucous. PJ, the youngest male in the family, was perched in the tree where he sang a song he had written, off the cuff, about how much he loved apples. We offered our tree stale bread soaked in hard cider, we drank, toasted and sang a more traditional tune to awaken her and entice her into production. Finally we finished by pouring cider about her roots. What may seem like a silly tradition to some felt more important to me as we stood in the cold singing and and drinking. We were sending our thanks for what we have and our intentions for a good growing season filled with joy and prosperity out into the universe, loud and clear. We were finding another way to give back to Mother Nature because after all without her where would we be? This symbiotic life between us, the soil, the plants and the animals is beautiful and fragile, a gift that we deeply appreciate.

DSCN9503

DSCN9506

DSCN9505

Throughout our holidays we ate things we had grown or hunted, gave handmade gifts which were often made of materials harvested from this land of ours and we celebrated together with family, friends and neighbors from both near and far, most often, right here on the farm. During the first week of the new year we have wrapped up projects from last year and started writing goals and farm plans for 2013 and beyond. I, myself, am greatly looking forward to the coming year mostly because it will consist of much less start up and much more of the everyday life of being a homesteader. The kids will both be a bit older, a little more independent, undoubtably more capable and, in turn, hopefully more involved in the day to day goings on. We adults have garnered, I dare say, more knowledge out of the last year’s experiences than we did in the previous ten and feel better prepared because of it.

DSCN9501

So here’s to the coming year, and all that it might bring. Hopefully it will be abundantly blessed, undoubtably beautiful and spent quietly together…until next January that is, when, if you drive by at just the right moment, you will be able to see a bunch of hippies dancing and sing about their apple tree.

Huzzah!