Little Cindy Lou Who Would Love it Too

December 15, 2009 at 7:28 pm | Posted in baby, Christmas, country life, country living, faith, family, gifts, Holidays, knitting, knitting for babies, Life, love, Santa Claus, socks, stockings, yarn | 12 Comments
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I just completed this Christmas Stocking for our dear little Sweet Pea. This will be her official Christmas Stocking that will stay on the farm with Grandma and Grandpa. When I first showed it to her, she let out a happy squeal and leaned forward to look more closely with a big grin on her face … at 9 months old she already appreciates knitting projects!

I used some beautiful, soft sock yarn for this Christmas Stocking that I purchased online from Kimber at Fiber Optic. I love Kimber’s taste and artistry in creating colors for her yarns, and especially loved that I could find sock yarn in low-contrast colorways like the Pale Violet and Watercress I used in this design. I believe I will be using plenty more beautiful, artisan dyed yarns from Fiber Optic during the coming year! I named this pattern “Little Violet Who Christmas Stocking” because of the pretty pale violet yarn I used for the main color.

We have also been having fun introducing her to Christmas lights, Santa Claus, the tree, pine cones, snow … so many iconic symbols of holiday joy. She shows excitement over each new discovery!

You can find this pattern as a download in my Etsy store and at Ravelry. Within a couple of days I will add it to my website pattern catalog and will add a printed version of it. If you want a printed version, let me know and I will let you know once I have added it to the store.

Happy holidays!

~firefly

I can plant a tree

June 3, 2008 at 2:10 pm | Posted in blogging, Christmas, country life, country living, faith, family, flowers, free knitting patterns, gardening, gifts, knitting, Life, love, marriage, photography, relationships, romance, stockings, summer, yarn | 6 Comments
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Wheat grows on fireflys farmA few days ago I got out on the tractor and helped my husband mow our three acres of lawn; it was my first time getting back on the tractor since last summer.

Side Bar: This is my third summer on the farm, somewhat hard to believe.

The farmer who rents our arable (–adjective “1. capable of producing crops; suitable for farming; suited to the plow and for tillage: arable land; arable soil” ~dictionary.com) land planted winter wheat last autumn. The fields look much different with wheat growing in them than they did with corn, much of the difference is that with the wheat growing out there we can see the expanse of the fields. It is very pretty, especially when a breeze is blowing and the tall, slender wheat stalks are move along in long, lazy rolling waves. Beautiful, really.

For about an hour I drove the tractor around and around in the “L” shaped piece of land I mow and enjoyed gazing at the gently moving wheat fields, feeling the cool spring breeze that moved the wheat lifting my hair up off my shoulders, watching little butterflies dancing up, diving down and around like little pilots putting on a show. Being out there on the tractor for a while is a great opportunity to enjoy the farm and all its beauty. You really get a feeling of the sense of space out there, back behind the barn and the willow, with the fields off to the north and east and the three-acre yard full of flowering trees and shrubs, the giant and graceful willow, the large lilac tree out behind the barn, all of it so rich, so big, so spacious and wonderful.

Trees planted by others long before firefly came to the farmAs I was mowing and enjoying all that space and beauty I suddenly remembered a tree we planted at the end of last summer way out by west side of the wheat field. We planted four trees at that time, but this one … a Burr Oak I believe … well, it was munched on pretty badly by deer over the winter and didn’t show any signs of growth come spring. The tree was several feet high when we planted it, and it had a protective plastic sleeve at the base, going up about three feet to prevent it from being girdled by rabbits or other rodents over the winter.

My husband recently told me that while there was no sign of growth above that sleeve, he did find some leaves growing down below it, so he removed the protective sleeve and cut the top off the tree. We both hoped it would continue growing and maybe would become a thriving tree someday, after all.

Well, there I was mowing that area of the lawn but I had not see the tree at all. I panicked and worried if perhaps it was so small that I had mowed right over it with the tractor while thinking about other things like wheat fields and lilacs and barns.

A lovely clematis growing out by fireflys barnWhen these thoughts occurred to me, I was way off at the other end of the lawn, and though I scanned the area where I thought the tree should be, I couldn’t see anything sticking up. As I headed over that way, I kept looking desperately for some sign of the little tree and then I did see it standing just about two feet high, off to the left of where I had been looking.

What a relief to realize I had not killed the poor thing. As I drew closer still, I could see that it does have several healthy looking leaves and even some tiny branches. It is really something to consider the fact that some day, many, many years into the future, that tree could potentially have a canopy some sixty feet in diameter. How grand it will be, even coming now from these humble beginnings.

When my husband suggested we plant the trees last autumn he told me there is a saying that planting a tree is the ultimate sign of optimism. True, so true. When you look around at any of the truly spectacular trees that exist they have been there for a very long time. When you put a tree in the ground you are actually putting something there for a future time that you might not get a chance to see yourself, and yet, you plant the tree.

We planted four, but we are just getting started.

When my husband was about thirteen years old, he was with his grandfather over at our cottage property a few miles down the road. They were sitting down by the river, and he was looking thoughtfully at an island in the middle of the river. He noticed the island was eroding and mentioned something about it to his grandfather. It occurred to him that if the island continued to erode that way, it might not be there a few years up the road. His grandfather told him that he could take branches from a willow tree and plant them along the edge of the island to try to protect it from erosion, so my husband gathered some branches, got in a boat and headed out toward the island.

He planted three willow branches. More than forty years later, three fine, strong willow trees stand where he stuck mere branches in the soggy ground as a boy … and the island remains. Good going, honey!

We planted two maples and two oaks. I think the maples are Sugar Maples, if I recall correctly. One of the oaks is a Burr Oak and the other is a White Oak. The oaks will grow much more slowly than the maples, and I have no idea how large they could potentially become during the course of our lives. I do know that it will be people other than us, up the road many years into the future, who will get to truly enjoy those trees and see them when they are larger than life.

I like the idea that we have put these threes in for people other than us to enjoy. It is an ultimate sign of optimism that this place will still be here, that someone will be here loving it and caring for it long after we are gone (not that we’re going anywhere for a very, very, very long time).

Pretty little phlox flowers growing by fireflys barnSomeone did it for us, and now we have started the motion of passing the torch to the next folks who will come along and for those who come after still. Hopefully some will be heirs of mine, but I know there are no guarantees.

While I was out on the tractor thinking about all of this, my thoughts went on to life itself. What can a person do in this world to make a difference? Or to do something that lasts.

Sometimes it can all seem so overwhelming, there are so many world-wide, large-scale worries and concerns. What can I do, today, to show that I have hope and faith in you and me and those who come after us, that I have faith in mankind and who we are spiritually and what we will do with our opportunities and resources.

I know that on an immediate basis I can do something like write my blog in an effort to share the good things that come in my own life, my philosophical and spiritual way of looking at life. I know I do make a difference in people’s lives with this blog today, because you write comments that touch my heart and soul, bring tears to my eyes, and tell me in your own sweet words that I have done something that made a difference … today.

As for the future, what can I do as a gesture of faith for the long haul, that we are going to make it as a race and that we will finally some day get it right and knock off all the nonsense like war, drugs, crime, pollution, intolerance, wastefulness, and so on. Who am I, just one woman on a farm out in the middle of not much. I am not a world leader, just an interested party living a quietly productive life in the best way I know how. What can I do that will have any lasting effect?

This tree will one day be mightyWell there is this one thing … I can plant a tree.

Especially a tree that takes a very, very long time to grow. Something I am not putting there so much for me as I am putting it there for someone I don’t know who will stand on this ground in this place many years from now. A person who will lift her head and enjoy a clean breeze of fresh, cool air coming off of a beautiful, healthy Lake Ontario. A person who will feel grateful standing beneath the shade of a great, big, healthy, beautiful oak tree put there by my husband and I way back here in time.

My husband and I will care for this little fledgling tree today. We will protect it from the elements, deer, rodents, disease, and pests as best we can. We will watch it, prune it when necessary, and love it and we will do all of that so that that as yet unknown person (who I now almost feel as if I can reach out and touch lightly on the shoulder) will have it to be grateful for in a world perhaps a bit better off than the world in which we live today.

Hang in there little guy, we have big plans for you.

.. ~*~ . . ~*~ . . ~*~ . . ~*~ ..

Detail shot from one of fireflys hand knit Christmas Stocking designsIn other news … I will be publishing a pattern for three hand knit Christmas Stockings on or about June 15th. If you want to receive an email alert about the pattern, be sure to sign up for my eMail list There will be one free Christmas Stocking pattern, and there will be a pattern for purchase (online download or printed) with three stockings featured in it.

Speaking of my patterns, I have been very gratified to receive these comments from people who purchased my new Emily Sweater and Hat pattern:

“Your pattern is beautifully written in wonderfully helpful detail, probably the best presented pattern I’ve seen. Thank you so much. ~ mommypohl

“Adorable sweater/hat pattern! Pattern is beautifully photo’d, and provides clear directions. Thanks soooo much!” ~lbdotson

I also just posted a new set of notecards in my Etsy Store, featuring photos from my blog of yarn, vintage buttons, etc. … perfect for knitters and crafters!

The other day I started knitting a set of pretty little bags from a beautiful linen yarn I picked up last time I was at the yarn shop in the village. I love this yarn, and now that I have been working with it I want to use it to make myself a lightweight sweater for next spring.

After I publish the Christmas Stocking patterns, I’ll get pattern for these new bags published as well. The pattern will include instructions for three to four gift bags for a special purpose … yet to be announced (I think it’s a cool idea, and I’d like to surprise you all when all of the bags are complete … just a few more days till photos are available).

A new hand knit gift bag set firefly is designingThey are a perfect summer knitting project because they are small and not wool. It is refreshing to have a knitting project that actually feels summery in my hands. I’m loving this project very much, indeed, and will tell you more about it as I get closer to publication date on the patterns.

Gotta go now; my husband is coming home a bit early and we’re going to head over to the cottage with Blu and get out on the river in the boat! Hope you have a wonderful day, catch ya later!

~firefly

Baby’s got skills

May 27, 2008 at 6:36 pm | Posted in art, baby, blogging, cats, country life, country living, dating, dogs, faith, family, free knitting patterns, gifts, hat patterns, knitting, knitting for babies, Life, love, marriage, pets, photography, relationships, romance, stockings, yarn | 12 Comments

Dear little Yang KittenA couple weeks ago a friend phoned to ask me if I could use some of her barn wood. She and her husband were refurbishing some of the buildings on their farm and there was a stack of lumber from a section of barn that had to be rebuilt. She said they were going to burn it, but recalled that I had said I could use some old barn wood for making picture frames.

Two days later I pulled in at her place, meeting up with her and her husband to take a look at the pile of wood. It was a chilly spring day with gray clouds and a still-wet ground from an early morning shower of cold rain. As we stood there chatting, all three of us looking down at the pile of lumber I recalled the second email I ever received from my husband, back when we were first getting to know each other.

It was a Sunday afternoon toward the end of January, and he related to me the morning’s events including his having gone to a friends house who needed him to rebuild some piece of equipment (my husband is a mechanical engineer). He told me about spending a couple of hours in the drizzling rain, looking at a poking through an old pile of junk at his friend’s house to see what odds and ends might be there that could be used in the rebuild.

That was one of the very first clues I had that this would be the man I would marry.

You see, from my own childhood memories and life time of living a life influenced quietly by my country roots, there has always been this thing with my father, my brothers, my sister, me … you set things aside that you might be able to make use of later. Not as pack rats. No, this is a different thing. This is resourcefulness.

You put things aside and at some later time when you want to make something or repair something you go to your “store”. What do I have on hand I could use to make that with, or fix that with?

Sweet little Yin kittenI am not a person who has trouble letting go of things I no longer need, I am not a pack rat by any means. I am, however, a person who loves to make things and so when I look at piles of wood or “junk”, twigs in the yard, dried thistles growing in a field, scraps of wood siding that have been blown off our old barn, etc. I think to myself, “Hmm … I think I could make something with this,” and so I put it aside.

I have had the experience of both living in the country where you don’t just up and run off to the store every time you need something, and I have lived in the city where you did do just that. I do know what it is to be both ways.

One of the reasons I wanted to return to the country was that I wanted to live that simpler life again where you didn’t just up and run off to the store. Where you make do with what you have on hand, you let things in the environment stir your imagination rather than being entertained by bright lights and movie theaters and so forth.

When my husband told me about standing around in the drizzle for two hours on a cold January morning looking through and gazing at a junk pile, getting ideas of how to solve a problem by using whatever was on hand, I knew he was someone I wanted to know. As I learned more about him I found out that when he needs something he is more likely to create an invention, a work-around, a gadget, etc. to serve the purpose at hand.

Blu is wondering why there are little fuzzy balls of kitten running around the houseI loved that, because that is how my father has always been. You know, for all of the years I lived with my parents from childhood to adulthood, they always had the same washing machine. Anytime anything happened to it, Dad would fix it. Dad could fix it. He had skills along with the wit and imagination people who grow up on farms must have in order to survive. Mom is like that too. If she wasn’t, and if they weren’t, I don’t know how they would have raised five kids the way they did.

I once knew someone a little too well whose mantra was, “We’ll just buy a new one.” That’s an expensive way to live, and the expense is in a lot more than just the actual dollars you spend.

So, gas prices have gone up and other things have become more expensive as a result. All true. For me though, the changing economy is not something that I look at negatively, even though I know I could. My wish for us all is that we take this as an opportunity to learn new skills of resourcefulness, to pass along a love of resourcefulness to our children and their children.

Something is broken, how I could I learn to fix it myself? I need a new this, that, or the other thing … how could I make that or something like it myself? Someone needs a gift, what could I make that would give that person an “Ah, ha” moment? I’m bored.

Emily Knitted Hat for a Baby Girl Side ViewWell, we have a new pile of lumber from someone else’s old barn stacked up in the back of our barn. The time will come when we will use some of it to make some picture frames, maybe a bench, or … who knows. It will be fun figuring it out.

My husband has very cool skills, skills that I appreciate profoundly. When I need something, he is likely to come up with a clever way of building or rigging something to suit my needs. We want to go bicycling on the Erie Canal bike path, but we need to be able to take Blu with us. So my husband came up with a cool solution. We won a toddler stroller/trailer on eBay and this weekend my husband put his ingenuity and skills to work transforming it into a trailer with a special cage top to accommodate Blu (I’ll photograph it someone soon with Blu in it so you can see how cool it is).

I loved the fact that we needed something that wasn’t really available and he came up with a way to take something that did exist and turn it into the thing we needed.

When I needed a solution for hanging my paintings at Zambistro Restuarant in a way that would not damage their walls, he invented a system for hanging them that is completely unobtrusive and does not require any holes whatsoever in their walls, mouldings, or ceilings. How cool is that? Very cool, honey.

Thus the title of today’s blog: Baby’s got skills.

Tomorrow is his birthday, so today and this week I especially celebrate him.

Emily Knitted Hat for a Baby Girl Top ViewBefore I end off, I just wanted to let you know I have published the Emily Sweater Pattern, along with the pattern for a hat to match. I am sharing the hat pattern for free; the sweater with matching hat pattern together are for sale in both a print version and online download at my website or in my Etsy Store. The pattern is twelve pages with detailed tips, instructions, and closeup shots of stitches, etc. It also includes a full-color cover and two personal journal pages for recording your own project details and photos.

By mid-June I will be publishing at least three Christmas Stocking patterns, so be on the look out for those.

Hope you have a wonderful week!

Best wishes,
firefly

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