New life on the farm

October 7, 2015 at 2:25 pm | Posted in blogging, country living, family, free knitting patterns, gardening, health, knitting, Lace Shawl Knitting, Life, love, marriage, photography, relationships, shopping, travel, yarn | 5 Comments
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imageThis summer was a very busy season around our farm.  We are in the midst of converting our farmland from leased cash-crop acreage to pasture managed by us.  That might sound simple enough but it requires cutting, mowing, fencing, draining, digging, and budgeting, planning, etc. and not necessarily in that order.

We are hosting a small herd of Black Angus cattle and have so far fenced in 12 acres of land for grazing.  Over the next few years  we plan to expand the fenced in land to 40 acres and the herd to 40.

So, that has been exciting.  Now that we are no longer leasing the land, we are able to hike around, explore, and make use of it fully.  We take daily walks and hikes around the pasture and the perimeter of the fields.  There is a small wooded portion along the northern border and we have done a bit of exploring there as well.

We have set aside an acre for me to use for my Daylily and Flower Farm, a new venture I started this summer.  It is so fun to have a little piece of land to use for flowers.  In addition to growing and selling daylilies and cut-flower arrangements I plan to have a small gift shop where people can purchase my various artistic creations such as original oil and watercolor paintings, fine art photography, prints, notecards, handmade books, Thistleonians, grapevine wreaths, and more.

It will take some time to put this all together and in operation, but I have started by planting my first 48 Daylily plants.  It will be three years before I can start selling the daylilies, but hopefully I can get some other aspects of the business going while the daylilies are establishing themselves.

I have also made strawberry, strawberry/cranberry, wild raspberry, blueberry lime, peach, peach pie and apple pie preserves this year … many, many jars of preserves.  Oh, and pickles … my son and I canned lots and lots of pickles too.  My oh my, so much yumminess.

And of course, in the midst of all of these other activities there has been knitting and painting and the routine demands of housekeeping.

On the knitting front, I have some new knitting patterns that have been released this summer and into early fall.  They are all available on Ravelry in my pattern store, and some have been added to my Etsy shop.  (Oh, and by the way … my knitting patterns and eBooks are all Buy One Get One Free in my Ravelry pattern store through October 31, 2015 with coupon code:  GETREADY used at checkout.  Free pattern will be the one of equal or lesser value; put two patterns in your cart for the discount to show up.)  Here is what to look for:

Two Night Cowl

Two Night Cowl Knitting PatternThis pattern is available for free in my Ravelry store through the end of October 2015.  It is a close-fitting, twisted cowl may be knit in two evenings, thus the name “Two-Night Cowl”. The ribbed, twist-stitch faux cable stitch pattern creates a two-sided fabric that looks great on both sides.

You will need any bulky weight yarn (gauge of 3 stitches to the inch on size U.S. 10.5 needles) in two colors, a main color and then a contrasting accent color for the edges. Optionally, you might want to sew a nice big button on the cowl … I like the way it looks with a button detail.

Agua Dulce

imageAgua Dulce is Spanish for “fresh water” or “sweet water”. There is a place in California named Agua Dulce, not too far north of Los Angeles. There you find Vasquez Rocks, a place of wonderful rock formations full of fantasy and dreams. I picnicked there on a perfect spring day with my daughter and parents and have treasured memories of the place.

You will enjoy the relaxing knitting of this piece, as the soft yarns of various textures slip through your fingers. Knit on large needles on the diagonal in garter stitch accented with occasional mesh inserts, a series of increases and decreases gives this asymmetric triangular shawl a bit of a curve to facilitate drapey wrapping.  Find this knitting pattern by clicking –> here.

This wrap may be made larger or smaller, according to your preferences. It is knit diagonally and works up into an asymmetric, elongated triangle with crescent shaped wings.


imageBarrow is one of my very latest patterns, and I am very excited about it.  It has become chilly enough here that I can finally wear my Barrow, and I love how wonderfully cozy and versatile it is.  It looks great with jeans or a skirt or dress, and it pairs well with sweaters, jackets, or a comfy old hoodie.  I wear mine when we go hiking around the pasture.  I collaborated with Dream in Color Yarn on this piece and on Nore (see below), using several of their deliciously beautiful colorways in the Smooshy with Cashmere fingering weight yarn.  The yarn is absolutely beautiful, has a lovely sheen, and is a complete pleasure to work with … and of course, their  yarn dying methods and colors create amazing works of fiber art.

This one is knit from the bottom up; the bottom crescent shaped section is knit from tip to tip in garter stitch with super easy short row ruffles, then stitches are picked up along the upper edge of that piece and the rest is knit from side to side, working upwards to create an oval shape on top of the lower crescent.  It is a really interesting design, knit entirely in garter stitch but with short row ruffles, shaping short rows and eyelets to give some great visual interest.


imageThis large rectangular shawl was made with more than 2,000 yards of Smooshy with Cashmere fingering weight yarn from Dream in Color.  It can be sized down easily (directions included in pattern).  The middle portion features an easy to memorize and easy to knit lace stitch pattern and then a border is added at the top and bottom edges in two colors with some great textures.  The result is an elegant yet rustic piece that looks as if it came right from the Irish countryside, which is fitting because the inspiration for this piece is the Irish river Nore.

Barrow and Nore are also available as an eBook.


Dream Silk Cowl

imageEarlier this year I came across a bulky weight 100% silk yarn. It is completely amazing to handle and knit with. When you knit your first few inches with it, you will know exactly what I mean. My daughter and I both feel in love with this luxurious, thick yarn and I know you will too.  (I am selling a very limited amount of this yarn in several colorways in my Etsy store. The pattern is free with any purchase of Dream Silk Bulky from my Etsy store. After yarn purchase, I will send the pattern to you free at Ravelry as a gift, so it will be in your Ravelry library.)

While you may of course use this pattern with any yarn that will give you the gauge listed here, try to find a yarn with great drape so that your cowl or wrap will drape appropriately. If you use a bulky stiff yarn without great drape, I am not sure what the results will be. I would suggest looking for a bamboo, or perhaps a heavy linen, or a cotton. The key word is: drape.

Return of the firefly

March 17, 2015 at 3:41 pm | Posted in knitting | Leave a comment

imageWhat a winter.

I love winter, I love snow, and I am not one of those people who become impatient for winter to be over about as quickly as it begins. I do not even get tired of winter when it is half or two thirds over.

Of course, living in the Los Angeles area for 36 years gave me more than my fill of seemingly endless summer, relentless sunshine, 85 degree holiday seasons, and miserable heat waves. Some people love that kind of thing, but I am not one of those people.

That having been said, I am enjoying the warm up of mid-March this year, the sound of the birds chirping and singing, and the promise of the sin’s warmth on my back in weeks ahead. It isn’t that I grew tired of winter this year, but I spent much of February and early March with one heck of a head cold that just never seemed to be done with me. And, we all know that when there is a cold going around in a home, the mom or grandma has not only to see herself through it but must use precious energy stores to nurse others through as well. Not a complaint, just a fact of life.

The past month has left me feeling quite drained, and those little birds singing about their joy in the outside world is uplifting to my spirit.

Sing little birdies, sing.

There was one upside to the head cold, and that was having more restful time for knitting, and I was able to finish something very special I have been working on, a beautiful shawl. There was something about this shawl that it became the most enjoyable knitting project I have ever worked on; the finished piece is my favorite item I have ever knit. It is luxurious and somewhat delicate with a kind of down-home elegance.

imageI used a knitting technique I have been testing and developing for several months, a technique that is enjoyable, flexible, and relaxing to use. I have several different shawl patterns using this technique in various stages of development that I will be rolling out to you knitting patterns as I complete them.

This technique is so awesome, in my humble opinion, I think it would make a great mystery knit-along (MKAL). So, I started a Ravelry group for me as a designer last week and then I posted the MKAL as a pattern. The first clue was released on Sunday (15 Mar) and the second clue will be released on April 1, 2015. The first clue teaches all of the techniques and provides practice sessions to prepare for the start of the knitting on April 1st.

I hope you will join in the fun. If it goes well I will release more MKALs as I get the other designs and samples knit. Each shawl pattern in the series of MKALs will be a completely different design, even though each will utilize m new technique in some form.

Oh, and I had fun coming up with a unique name for my mystery knit-alongs … Bride of Fleckenstein MKAL. So, the first one is Bride of Fleckenstein MKAL 1.

For more info or to join the fun, visit the pattern page at Ravelry.

Meanwhile, enjoy the approach of spring.


The handmade gift

December 9, 2014 at 4:11 pm | Posted in Christmas, inspiration, knitting, love, women | 7 Comments
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IMG_4701It is nearly Christmas and all over the world … all over the world … fingers are flying as artists, artisans, crafters, and makers of things endeavor to gift the finest gift there is…love.


That is the root of the season. And we seek to flow and show our love as finely and as broadly as we possibly can.

We do that, we humans. We do.


I remember the exact moment when I realized love is the one true thing, the key to the universe. I know where I was, what I was doing, the color of the sky, the other things in motion around me, the time of day, how I was sitting, where I was heading. I also remember the amazing feeling of abundant clarity and spiritual fullness I felt when I realized that simple truth.

IMG_4714Regardless of your faith, you can believe in Christmas if you choose, because the simplicity of the holiday is love.

Regardless of who or what Jesus was, you can believe in the love that was his message.

Love one another.

I mean, how simple and direct can you get.

Love one another.

Forget about everything else, all of the religious teachings and trappings and ceremony and wars over whose god is God and what we all ought to think about any of that.

Toss all of that out. There was this guy, his name happened to be Jesus of Nazareth and he said we all ought to love one another.

Love. One. Another.


IMG_4713That message changed the world, and changed it for the better.

So, to celebrate that message a bunch of us all over the world celebrate first and foremost the concept of loving one another. And we get inspired to do all kinds of great and wondrous and small and perfect acts of kindness and brotherhood toward those we are close to but also toward others we do not know.

We find and create ways to embody the love that guy suggested.

I read an article several years ago about a survey regarding gifts people love and don’t love to receive at Christmas. Sadly, handmade gifts were on the list as being not appreciated.

That’s really bad news for someone like me because I love to make things, and I love mostly making things for other people. I am a maker of things, and when I really want to show someone that I love them I make them something.

Making things and giving them away, that’s my way of showing my love.

IMG_4668This brings me to the subject at hand, the handmade gift. In particular, I have something to,say about handknit gifts, but what I have to say relates to all handmade gifts.

When someone knits something for you, what they are really giving you is love.

It might look like a scarf, a hat, some gloves or socks, a tea cozy…whatever. It might be fine, classy, and beautiful. Or, it might be an ill-advised combination of colors in a horrifyingly inconsistent striping pattern. Either way, that handknit piece is a gift of love. You were thought of as the person chose the pattern, picked the yarn, worked a swatch, cast on, knit along, made mistakes, tangled their yarn, came to the end, cast off, wove in the yarn tails, and gazed at their completed piece. Every step in the process involved love.

Love, the secret of and key to the universe. Someone gave that to you. By knitting you a gift. Do you realize how divinely special that is?

When someone has given of themselves by making you a gift, even if it isn’t your style or taste, even if the fibers don’t suit you, or,the colors make you want to gag I suggest you give love in return by wearing or using the handmade gift at least once. And as you do, focus on the love residing in and resonating from the fibers of that thing.

IMG_4477And know this: You are one of the most fortunate human beings on the planet. Someone loved you enough to make something for you.

People. We are here on this planet together. We have the freedom and the ability to love one another.


Keep it simple. It is a celebration of the message of love.

And together we can change the world for the better in a big way, for a little while each year.

Merry Christmas.


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