A perfect little piece of sunshine

June 30, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Posted in 4th of July, country life, gardening, knitting, knitting for babies, Life, love, photography, socks, summer, travel, yarn | 1 Comment
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Every year, right about the 4th of July, our wild raspberries start turning from pale red to deep, almost black purple.  At first you just see one here or there, then the next day another three or four.  And it builds that way until suddenly there are shiny purple wild raspberries in such abundance that you can’t pick them fast enough to eat, preserve, bake and so forth.  Our started turning a little bit early this year, but they are turning slowly day by day.

Our baby grand-daughter got her first opportunity to stand in front of the berry canes and pick, eat, pick, eat, pick, eat with her chubby little hands in that rapid fire way the little kids do.  Oh, how that took me back to my childhood.

I remember standing at the edge of the woods, just inside (on the wooded side) a fence at the edge of our neighbor’s yard where concord grapes were growing.  There I was doing that rapid fire pick, eat, pick, eat, pick, eat.  Only, I was being naughty because those were our neighbor’s grapes and I was picking and eating them secretly; perhaps they tasted sweeter because of my misbehavior, I don’t know.

My husband noted these early raspberries of ours taste flat, and that he hopes for some sunshine to warm and nourish them enough to create more sugar over the next few days so they will be sweet and flavorful.  We have made so much more rain and overcast days this spring and into summer that it will be interesting to see how it affects the various berries and fruits coming in over the course of the summer. We are blessed to live on this beautiful farm, and to have a super abundance of wild raspberries that show up of their own accord, volunteering to berry us abundantly each July.

My son is in Los Angeles at this time, so he will miss out on the plentiful berries this July 4th, but hopefully will be able to get back in time for peaches in August. Either way, he will receive some jars of my homemade wild raspberry preserves from this year’s crop.

The last two days have been quite cool with a pushy, chilly breeze blowing most of the time.  Today the breeze has slowed down, but the air is still surprisingly cool for a summer morning. I stepped out to see if I could find a spot where I could photograph a new sock I am design-knitting for my grand-daughter (more on that in a moment) and thought I would try the spot where we  found the early ripe raspberries.  Rounding a corner, I saw this one little clump of not-ripe raspberries with the most perfect little piece of sunshine illuminating it.  I bent down quickly to grab a photograph before the light changed, and the moment I landed on my knee I heard the tiniest little flutter.  I looked and there was a chubby little baby bird sitting on the raspberries canes right behind that little clump of berries.  Startled, I gasped as my eyes widened and I’m pretty sure he did the same thing.  We stared right at each other for a split second and then he hopped off, landed on the ground where his little brother was waiting for him and then they both flitted away before I could do anything other than notice what had just happened.

Of course, it all happened far too rapidly for me to be able to capture any of it with my camera.  I was able to capture the perfect little piece of sunshine embracing the clump up of berries — and you see that shot at the very top of today’s blog.

Thank you world, universe, and God for aligning all of the ingredients for that perfect moment and affording me the opportunity to witness it.

Magic.

As for the sock knitting, or knitting at all, here is the story. For the past several months it has been somewhat impossible to knit because of a certain little munchkin who seems to be all fingers whenever I settle down to relax and have a knit. The grabbing, the pulling, the wrestling … it all makes for very fitfull, not relaxed knitting that almost happens and then has to be abandoned fairly rapidly. I had to abandon my own Summer in the Country Cotton Blanket knit along, sadly, because it was just too large and when the munchkin (aka Sweetpea) would grab it, I felt too much stress worrying that my needles would get pulled out of 241 stitches that would be very difficult to get back ahold of. So, I set it aside until she is a bit older.

I am longing, however, to knit some socks — for the munchkin, and for myself. So, last weekend I purchased a pair of Kollage square dpns in size U.S. 1 from a seller on eBay — they arrived in Monday’s mail, which was awesome — and I got started on a pair of socks for Sweetpea. I’m using left over yarn from the Little Violet Who Christmas Stocking I design-knitted for her first Christmas from Kimber Baldwin Designs (Fiber Optic Yarns). Her hanks of yarn are so generous that I was able to knit that over-sized Christmas Stocking and still have plenty of yarn left over. The socks I am making are designed to have a slouch with some body, and feature a stripe pattern similar to Little Violet Who, but knit on these much tinier needles the fabric looks quite different. I also added a little ridge detail at the bottom of each stripe for a bit more visual interest and body.

Miracle of miracles, although she did grab at my knitting pretty much the moment I got started, she is now leaving me along and I am actually able to accomplish something. It is such a relief to be able to relax in this way again, and I appreciate her cooperation so very much. I love the fact that she is interested in the yarn and the needles; I gave her a partial skein of some yarn I knew I wasn’t going to use for anything and a large crochet hook so she could do her own “needlework” and that helped satisfy her desire to grab my project.

I might have enough yarn left to make a matching hat, or I might make some little wrist warmers — it depends on what I have left over.

Well, summer is out there calling my name through each of our forty windows, in the singing of the birds, and with the ripening of the berries. I need to pay attention to what it is telling me … what is summer saying to you today?

~firefly

P.S. If you didn’t get a chance to read last week’s post, check it out for information about the loveliest summer art trail … Artists of The Oak in Orleans County … coming up this August 27th right in our own backyard! (Literally.)

The Advent of Santa: Day 2

December 2, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Posted in baby, Christmas, country life, country living, dogs, family, gifts, Holidays, knitting, knitting for babies, Life, love, pets, photography, snow, socks, stockings, yarn | 3 Comments
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It snowed heavily for much of the day yesterday; after about the first hour or so it started sticking to the ground.  We got several inches of snow, and the dogs had a particularly good time romping in it.

In today’s Advent of Santa you see a second Santa Claus from my collection.  This one my son bought for me in Colorado when he was about eleven years old.  He was visiting with his father before Christmas, and saw this Santa in a shop window.  I love how whispy and ethereal this particular Santa is, plus he has great sentimental value to me because of the connection with my son.

Speaking of my son, his English Bulldog is boarding with us on the farm for a while and, being a Los Angeles-raised Bulldog who was born in Texas, yesterday was his first time in the snow.  The first moment I took him outside he instantly looked all around excitedly and started snapping at falling snowflakes, trying to catch them in his mouth.

He ran around, jumping belly first into the snow and then twirling around, making his own version of snow angels.  I had never seen a dog making snow angels before, and I couldn’t help but laugh heartily.

He isn’t trained on the electric boundary fence yet, so I have to take him out on a leash, and he was running this way and that pulling me along, joyously jumping into the air (quite a sight to see a chubby, short-legged bulldog doing that) to try to catch the snowflakes. He is definitely a snow-loving dog.

This morning did his first ice-skating on the frozen autumnal pond that has filled in out by our grand old willow tree.  He took one step onto it and started skating around before breaking through.  Such a cute little guy, and so much fun to see him discovering an entirely different world.

I just finished this long, long, long hand knit Christmas Stocking for my daughter.  I will release a pattern for it next week sometime, but wanted to show a photo of it today because it is long and skinny like the Santa Claus in the top photo.

This is knit from two hansk of Foot Notes Sock Yarn I purchased from Fiber Optic Yarns (Kimber Baldwin Designs) last winter.  The two colorways I chose were her low contrast Batiks, Tomato and Pale Watercress. Amazingly, because her hanks of yarn are so generous in yardage, I still have plenty of left over yarn. I even knit a miniature version of this stocking for the Christmas tree, and still have plenty left over. I think will knit a pair of real socks for my baby grand-daughter from the remaining yarn … and even then will probably have some left over!

It is snowing again, the Nutcracker ballet is playing on the television in the background, and I am feeling rather Christmas-ie all up and down and inside and out.

I hope your advent of the season, whatever it is, is going well.

Until tomorrow …
~firefly

Copyright © 2010 J. L. Fleckenstein ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

New pattern and sock yarn give away

September 29, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Posted in baby, Christmas, family, gifts, Holidays, knitting, knitting for babies, love, yarn | 1 Comment
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Just a quick note to let my knitting readers know that I just released a new knitting pattern yesterday, the Teddy Bear Picnic Blanket.  I have been on a break from new pattern releases for several months for … personal reasons.

This Teddy Bear Picnic Blanket is an easy cable knit with a pretty edging consisting of contrasting color “puffs” (similar to bobbles) and a ruffled picot trim.  Knit in worsted weight yarn on size U.S. 10 needles, it is also a quick knit.

I also give conversion information in the pattern to turn it into a baby or child sized blanket or an adult sized afghan.

So, if you have been knitting dishcloths for a while and would like to work up a similar project this would be a good choice. Make it out of worsted weight cotton, or go for a more luxurious yarn (I used Royal Llama Silk from Plymouth Yarn Col.).

I also include a little Teddy Bear Picnic story in the pattern that you could read to the dear little one you give this item to as a gift, making it extra special.  The pattern is available in my Ravelry and Etsy stores so far.

Speaking of my Etsy store, my other Etsy store is devoted to my art, and one of my latest paintings (Antique Tree Peony in Khaki Monochrome) has been included in a very lovely new Treasury titled Belles Fleur.  I love this particular selection of Treasury items, so I think you might enjoy checking them out as well.

And, for the September Sock Yarn Give Away, participate in this survey before midnight on Sunday October 3, 2010 and you could be the September winner.

Meanwhile, hope you are having a great week!

~firefly

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