a bit of (not farm) news…

In college I tried to major in English with a minor in Creative Writing but with the demands of being a collegiate athlete (one who traveled for a week at a time, at least 5 times a semester) many professors had little faith in my being able to succeed and I allowed them to shrink my confidence ending up with only a minor in English. Thinking back, a required summer semester of two english classes and a creative writing class (and, oddly enough, no sports duties) was my happiest time at school.

Writing is something that I have always enjoyed doing but not something upon which I focused. I think once, when I was a kid, I had a poem published in a collection, but I no longer remember what it was about. I have always penned poems as gifts to those closest to me but I never had enough faith in my abilities to write publicly. I was urged by Kevin, a few family members and a friend or two to start this blog. I was nervous and self-consicous about putting my writing and ideas out into the world and was pacified by the thought that no one was going to find a blog about homesteading and cohabiting interesting enough to read. Well, I was wrong! Some of you have found our adventures, frustrations, failures and successes interesting enough to read about week after week, and have generously left your comments, suggestions and encouragement. I have found a group of people I consider my friends, people I can talk to and commiserate with and they are sprinkled all over the world. All we have to do is hop on the computer and we can be there for each other, sharing similar interests and experiences. I am indebted to those who provided encouragement to create this space and so grateful for all it has brought into my life.

For quite some time I have been considering submitting some of my written work to a few publications and with a little push a big shove from Kevin and my serendipitous purchase of the first issue of the new publication, Kindred, I finally found my confidence and voice. After seeing a prompt on the Kindred website of homestead, I took it as a sign and decided to give it a go and put my words out there, myself out there. I wrote an essay and submitted it, just under the wire mind you, and found out earlier this week that it will be included in the spring issue of Kindred Magazine titled Sow. I am honored to be included among so many talented writers and artist, some of whom I have been reading for some time, and I’m so delighted that my first piece will be in such a beautiful and inspired magazine; just look at the amazing cover photo below.

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Kindred, the brain child of Amanda, at The Habit of Being, is free of advertisement, published seasonally, and filled cover to cover with stories, poetry and photography. It strives to celebrate life in all its mess, beauty and simplicity, which is what initially drew me to purchase the first issue and what inevitably led to my submission.

To read more of what Kindred is all about go here.

If you’re so inclined, go here to purchase Issue Two: Sow, due to ship the last week in March. I know you will enjoy every bit of it.

Also, stop by the Kindred site to enter a giveaway they are running until next Friday. While you’re there, maybe you will be inspired to submit your work for one of their upcoming issues. I would love to read some of your words in issue three!

Happy weekend all!

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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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! 😉

joining a yarn along

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?