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.

Barrow

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.

Nore

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.

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So here we are, here we stand

October 16, 2009 at 12:37 pm | Posted in art, baby, country living, food, knitting, love, marriage, photography, pumpkin recipes, relationships | 16 Comments
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16oct09-schwenkbaconoirFollowing a long absence from writing, here I am again. Hopefully some of my readers have been able to get caught up on past postings while new readers have found their way here and found out something about what I hope to offer.

It is early in the morning here on our farm. The sweet dog is laying on the love seat nearby snoring up a cold autumn snore, stretching out every now and then. It sounds as if he is enjoying a very deep, satisfying sleep. Good boy, you keep that up.

For the past three years and more, ever since I came to live on the farm, I have tried in vain to get myself onto a schedule of waking up and getting going on my work at 5:00 a.m. (actually, at first I tried to taking on my husband’s schedule, but getting up at a quarter to four in the morning is not something I found I could do on any kind of regular basis). I did think I could at least try for 5:00 a.m. because I enjoy getting up early. For some reason though, I just could not do it.

About one month ago that all changed with the help of a pretty little cell phone. It was time for us to renew our cell phone contract and we got to upgrade our phones in the process. Previously I had one of those Motorola Razrs, which was an okay phone. For my upgrade I chose an AT&T Quickfire, and for some reason I have quite a good feeling of affinity for this new little phone. It has a good sized touch screen and nice little keyboard, and is very pretty in silver and a muted lime green.

16oct09-luckysetthetable2I use it for my alarm clock, and it wakes me up faithfully every morning at 5:00 a.m. Of course, my cooperation is essential in this relationship, because I am the one who has hit snooze only once and then exercise the discipline necessary to get up, get dressed and get going. I have so many paintings to complete in the next few months that I cannot afford to sleep in even one time.

Since I last posted an entry back in August (so sorry for the long absence) I have completed three paintings and am well on my way into a fourth. Two of the new pieces (the sunflower and the cluster of grapes you see in this post) are hanging at Zambistro Restaurant. The third is a small painting that is reserved for the gallery opening in January.

The bunch of grapes I painted is a cluster of Baco Noir I photographed out at the Schwenk Wine Cellars vineyard (Kent, NY) last autumn.  I loved the beauty of the old leaf.  For me, the leaf is really what the painting is about, and the grapes are a beautiful counterpoint to the leaf.  The leaf is beautiful even though it is old and beginning to wither.  It stood watch over grapes along with many other leaves and drew in nutrients from the sun’s rays to nourish the grapes.  The grapes are plump and full of delicious juice destined to become a delicate wine and they could not have arrived at this perfect, plump and ripe moment without the support and steadfastness of the leaf.

Since that last post we have also harvested our pumpkins and today we will set them around in our yard for a visual delight. Yesterday I made some pumpkin bread, but I must admit I could not bring myself to cut into any of the pumpkins we grew yet … it seemed almost like murder to do so. Instead, I used a can of Libby’s pumpkin I had on hand. Soon I know I will have to cut open some of the pumpkins we grew and I know that they will make delicious, soothing, and healthy soups, breads, and pumpkin butters … but oh, how I wish I did not have to cut them.

16oct09-finalharvestOf course, a few of them are destined to be this year’s Jack o’ Lanterns and I do anticipate quite a bit of fun with that. It is so exciting to have such a nice selection of big healthy pumpkins we managed to grow ourselves in the Sincere Pumpkin Patch. We only had a few that were eaten into by various critters (including dogs). We haven’t weighed any of these, but as you can see some are quite large.

With Halloween only two weeks away we have a party to plan and costumes to gather. I used to love helping my children plan their Halloween costumes. I still remember my first costume when I was a child … it was simply a plastic mask of a Saint Bernard with a little elastic string that held it to my face. That was it, just the mask.

I also remember being prepped for Trick or Treating by my older brothers, and my mother taught the boys how to make a sort of a seat with their arms that they could use to carry me if I became tired. It all seemed so official to me, the little shy and quiet girl, as my brother’s practiced making the seat with their arms and had me climb on for a test run in our kitchen under the supervision of my mother.

I could feel the sense of importance my brother’s were feeling at being given such an important task, it was a great feeling that something big was about to happen. A year or two later, we were all in the kitchen again putting a ghost costume on my little brother and prepping him for his big night out. Of course in this later scene I was one of the experienced Trick or Treaters. What a great adventure childhood was, and I treasure the rich memories I have of those days.

Today as we prepare for Halloween on our dear 50-acre farm, I know we will have no visits from wayward Trick or Treaters. So, we will make our own Halloween party with a few friends and at some point in the evening we will all venture out to the Sincere Pumpkin Patch to see about that visit from the Great Pumpkin that we all have been anticipating.

This will be Sweet Pea’s first Halloween, and I know my daughter will make it extra special and we will have a great time.

My husband is taking a vacation day today and we are going to venture out to breakfast at the Lighthouse Restaurant on the Point, a cozy café out by Lake Ontario that some friends of ours opened last March in a what used to be a crab stand many years ago. We have been going there each Saturday morning for breakfast, but this week we break that tradition because of the vacation day.

Tomorrow he will be helping some friends move, and I will be helping a local vineyard harvest their grapes. I expect it will be cold and wet, but a great adventure that includes a tasty lunch and a free bottle of wine. I wish my husband could be there with me, because everything is more fun with him by my side.

Until next week, this is firefly signing out. Hope you have a great one!

~firefly

Taking in Upstate Western New York

September 26, 2007 at 4:37 pm | Posted in art, blogging, country life, country living, dating, faith, family, food, free knitting patterns, knitting, love, marriage, photography, recipes, relationships, romance, yarn | 20 Comments
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An apple orchard on the road to Clayton New YorkLast weekend my husband and I took a three-day road trip exploring the Thousand Islands area of New York, the Adirondack Mountains, and a drive back home via Route 67 from Saratoga Springs going west toward the Buffalo/Rochester area. Our first day out, we left before dawn on Friday morning and arrived in Clayton, New York up in the Thousand Islands area before noon.

We both love the feeling of being up and out on the road at early morning dark and through the various, sometimes misty, stages of dawn while much of the world is still asleep. There is something exciting about being up and out on an adventure when others are not even thinking yet about their day. I don’t know why, but it has always been that way for me. As a child I used to get up at five or six in the morning and go outside to run around the neighborhood with my dog. I could feel an energy that was all my own, and only my own, running around in the quiet of a new day just beginning to bud. I carry the feeling with me still today, and it is one of the things my husband and I hold in common.

A misty morning lake on the drive to Clayton New YorkOur morning drive took us along the shore of Lake Ontario much of the time, and through farming communities along the way. The apple orchards flowed one into another and farm stands seemed to be around every bend.

I continue to be amazed at how much agricultural activity there is in the state of New York. Before meeting my husband, and before coming here to see it all myself, I never had any clue that New York was such a farming state … a beautiful, simple, humble farming state.

It is also a state of many old barns, old mills, and factories. I find the old buildings more beautiful than those that are newer. Older building had such character of detail and materials. I know there is a practicality and economy to new methods of building, but the lack of charm stands out in stark contrast when you take a drive through an area like this that is so rich in heritage. You see the old places along the way that are wasting away, and somewhere further on you come across a pocket of “new” and you can’t help but feel a yuk inside … well, I certainly can’t help it.

Door of an old deserted mill on the drive to Clayton New YorkWhen we arrived in Clayton we were delighted to find the place we had reservations at was a cute little 50’s/60’s style roadside motel with a few rooms in a one-story building and then, down the hill by the water half a dozen sweet little cottages of the same era. It was clean and tidy with a beautiful view of the St. Lawrence river and the beginnings of the Thousand Islands.

The folks at the motel let us check in early, even though it wasn’t even noon. We were able to take a bit of a nap to the sound of … nothing but a light breeze and a few crickets. Then we headed over to my husband’s favorite museum: the Antique Boat Museum. We wandered around the museum for two or three hours, viewing their wonderful collection of antique wooden boats of all kinds. Another thing I didn’t yet know about Upstate New York until this trip is how prevalent boating and canoeing are up this way and what a rich part of the history of the state they are. Of course, it completely makes sense when you consider the abundant supply of water. Keep in mind though, I am used to living in the desert of Southern California and this thing of being around so much water is a new experience of senses and awareness for me.

It was quite warm that day, so after the boat museum we headed back to our motel so I could change into cooler clothes and get my hair up off of my neck. Then it was off again to do some photography in the countryside and find a place to eat. After driving over to Alexandria Bay and turning back to Clayton, we finally chose to eat at a restaurant in a converted Victorian house across from the Boat Museum, The Harbor Inn. The food was wonderful … my favorite was their fresh homemade hummus served with little triangles of whole wheat pita bread. I would love to know their hummus recipe, because it was some of the best I’ve ever had.

Sunset on the St Lawrence river in Clayton New YorkAfter dinner we walked through Clayton (small place, doesn’t take very long) and landed out on a peaceful bench along side the St. Lawrence river where we spent two hours sitting quietly, enjoying the relaxing flow of beautiful river and the little bit of activity that was going on … two or three people fishing, seagulls, a handful of sailboats and other vessels enjoying the last couple of hours of hazy sunlight, a couple of large freighters going by. Oh, I sigh just thinking about the utter feeling of peace and relaxation.

The next morning, we were up and away early again stopping for breakfast at Beefer’s Family Restaurant to try out their “famous” breakfast buffet. We were their first customers and couldn’t have been treated any nicer. An older gentleman greeted us as we came in as if we were old friends. He told us they always wait until their first customers arrive before they start cooking eggs and pancakes, etc. for the buffet because they want the food to be as fresh as possible.

We could hear sizzling coming from the kitchen as the cook hopped right on it, and we were shown to a nice little booth and served piping hot coffee. Within a few minutes the buffet was ready to go and we each had a nice assortment of scrambled eggs, pancakes with hot syrup, house potatoes, and bacon. (I am a vegetarian, but oddly enough bacon is the one meat I eat on occasion). The breakfast was hot, fresh, and delicious. Even though it was an all-you-can-eat buffet we were both fine with just one serving of our choices then off we went, headed for the Adirondacks.

A stand of autumn trees in the Adirondack MountainsWhile Western New York has been showing early signs of autumn since mid-September, the Adirondacks were in full bloom when we drove through them. There were still some green trees, but the fall colors were glorious. Most striking was the brilliant red leaves which were showing in abundance. I fell in love with the Adirondacks as they reminded me of a perfect combination of North Carolina (where I grew up part way) and everything I have come to love about Western New York. Water, water everywhere, soft old mountains, and trees to delight the eyes.

At Blue Mountain Lake we stopped off at the Adirondack Museum for a couple of hours and I went into sensory overload. I literally could not take any more in, it was all too much. It got to a point where I was feeling quite dazed and “full”. The collection at the Adirondack Museum is impressive in size, and the quality and character of the wonderful old artifacts of boating, sporting, farming, living, creating, etc. is … well, I am speechless to tell you the truth. The entire experience of driving through those lovely mountains and stopping off at the museum left me wanting to return to the area many times in the future to settle out my feelings of being a bit too “full” of everything I had seen.

View of Blue Mountain Lake from a deck at the Adirondack MuseumMost exciting to me is the idea of taking our canoe up there next year sometime to do some camping and canoeing along with sight seeing. We both want to do that very much, and had quite a bit of fun as we drove south through the park discussing some ideas and details of the trip we might make.

If you have read my blog since last year, you have heard me mention our friend, Winnie of the Buttons as I like to call her. I gave her that name on my blog because she gifted me with a huge collection of antique and vintage buttons last year before she moved away to Queensbury, New York to a retirement community. Our primary mission on this trip was to pay a visit to Winnie which we promised her we would do before summer’s end (we were only a couple of days late for that).

A peaceful scene on the way to Saratoga Springs New YorkAfter leaving the Adirondacks, we arrived in Queensbury about two-thirty and checked into our hotel there. I have to say, and I am sorry to say it, but we were not fond of Queensbury–at least not the part of it where our hotel was. It was a complete contrast to the peace and beauty of both Clayton and the Adirondacks. Busy streets, shopping malls everywhere, crowds of people, wall-to-wall cars.

However, the area where Winnie’s retirement residence is situation is much more quiet and we could tell she is completely happy to be where she is. She drives out into a more rural area to attend a country church much like ours that she left behind and it is great she has the opportunity to do so. We had a wonderful afternoon and evening with her and then it was off to our hotel for a not-so-restful night of attempted sleep in spite of the loud sounds of a drunken fellow who, for some odd reason, decided to sit down right outside of our door with a couple of his friends at one-thirty in the morning. Oh well, the contrast only goes to make the early parts of the trip even more beautiful.

The next morning we were up early again and spent the entire day, from eight in the morning until six at night, making our meandering way back home. Route 67 (and later Route 5) was a picturesque alternative to Interstate 90 as we made our way through village after village, continuing to demonstrate to me the abundance of farms and croplands in Upstate and Upstate Western New York.

The trip was wonderful, scenic, inspiring, educational. Even after all of the beautiful places and scenes we saw, I was still happy to get back home to our farm.  It has become my most favorite place on Earth. There is just something about home, a friend waiting for you with open and familiar arms.

A little girls hand knit sweater pattern available soonKnitting News: Here is a photo of a little girl’s sweater not designed or made by me. It was designed and knit by one of the owners of my LYS (Local Yarn Shop for non-knitting readers) and she has agreed to share the pattern on my blog. Today I can show you the photo, and next week sometime I hope to have the pattern available. It is a scrumptious little thing, and quite affordable to make. The materials come to less than $20. The plan at this point is to start utilizing knitted creations by the two ladies who own the yarn shop (they are the source of the yarn I make available on my website) and my daughter as well as continuing to share my own with you. That way I can bring you even more quality knitted items and more knitting content while also continuing to do the other things I do (photography, writing, and painting).

Have a beautiful day!

~firefly

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