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?

30

Todays my birthday. I’m thirty. Funny, I don’t feel any different then I did yesterday. I was so sure that the day I turned thirty I would feel different, have an epiphany, know all the answers. At twenty I had a very different idea of what me, at thirty, was going to look like. I was apparently like every other twenty year old, a fool who thought they knew everything. Go figure.

I was never going to be thirty. I was going to relive twenty-nine over and over again. Twenty-nine on the 29th. You have to admit, it has a certain ring to it. And it would be no problem to get others to play along because, for a while, I could probably pull it off, thanks to good genes and my Mediterranean skin (oily might be a bitch in your teens but wrinkles will be a long ways off .) Once I did hit the inevitable time where things sagged, and I was obviously no longer in my prime, people would probably be too scared of the “Old, crazy lady” to refute my claim. Perfect, I could linger forever in my delusion.

Truth is I didn’t plan on this present, back when it was my future. I was supposed to be wearing high heels, not Muck Boots and designer jeans, not Carharts. I wasn’t supposed to be learning how to milk a cow, how to rid pigs of lice using nothing more the canola oil, or trying to calculate how much hay to buy for the winter, striking that balance of not spending money on more than we will use, while at the same time, not purchasing to little and inadvertently starving the sheep, seven of which should also be pregnant. (Note to self, you really, really need to make a decision on a ram , like yesterday!)

I wasn’t supposed to be trying to make all of our food from scratch. Hell, at one time, I had said that I wouldn’t even have time to make my (someday in the distance future) kids cookies, I would find a good bakery for that, since I would probably be much too busy working my über important job, all while being quite fabulous and going to quite fabulous places. Now, spending a Friday night with Kevin, making butter, trying out a new cheese recipe, or baking up some seasonal delight is my idea of fabulous.

Ten years ago I didn’t knit or spin. No reason to own sheep back then. I didn’t garden. I had only just begun to eat organically, and my locavore tendencies wouldn’t surface till about 5 years later. People who knew me ten years ago, probably wouldn’t recognize me now. I have been married to the love of my life, for almost 5 years (sorry Hun, but you weren’t even my type when I was twenty.) I have two littles, whom we parent so far outside the mainstream, and in a way that wasn’t even on my radar back then, that the weird looks and the “do you really want to do that” comments don’t even register any longer. We are living a life that I didn’t even know existed when I was twenty.

It took me thirty years to stumble upon the real me, the one that I created (finally embraced?) and come to find out, the twenty year old Laura was wrong, about almost everything. Thank goodness for that!

Welcome thirty. Let’s see how wrong we can be by the time forty rolls around.