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.

Summer time and the living is easy

August 5, 2014 at 3:17 pm | Posted in country life, faith, family, flowers, gardening, inspiration, knitting, Lace Shawl Knitting, Life, love, photography | 2 Comments
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20140805-143208-52328702.jpgThat line from the old song is very appropriate for the summer we have been having on our old farm in Upstate New York.

The weather has been amazing, the flower gardens have been resplendent, and the farms seem to be thriving.

Of course there is always much work to be done, both inside and out, but even with the normal day-to-day chores of living that must be attended to and the inevitable difficulties and problems life poses on a daily basis, we have managed to enjoy the past couple of months as if we were partially on vacation and that has been magical.

This spring and summer I have been enjoying two new love affairs … hold on now, it isn’t what it sounds like.

20140805-143514-52514273.jpgThe first love affair is with designing and knitting lace shawls. I have created four designs over the summer, and am releasing the first pattern this week, “Rise Up Singing” (featured in today’s photos) is already available in both my Etsy and Ravelry stores for instant download.

I wrote text directions as well as charted diagrams; both styles are included in the one download so you can knit it either way. I specifically designed this piece to be easy and quick to knit, even if you use the text rather than charted directions.

I will start working right away on patterns for,the other three shawls and will share photos of them as I make the patterns available.

There is something about knitting and blocking a lace shawl that is a special kind of magic, and I hope with my patterns I will be able to help many others learn and experience that magic.

Speaking of magic, last summer we visited a nearby farm where a lady raises Daylilies. Until I moved to Upstate New York I had never heard of Daylilies. Perhaps they are grown in California, but if so I never heard them mentioned. Here they are grown and treasured by everyone it seems.

There is another daylily farm somewhat near our place that everyone refers to reverently as “the daylily place”. Oh my … it is the most magical, enchanting garden I have ever seen in my life. From the road you would never suspect that such a veritable Garden of Eden thrives just beyond the drive. Then, you walk in and … well, you just feel like fainting or something because of the sheer aesthetic magnificence you are suddenly surrounded by.

As it turns out there are something like 1,000 or 5,000 varieties of Daylilies (I can’t remember exactly because I was too delirious from beauty overload when they told us) and the couple who created the garden seem to have each variety in their collection along with myriad other luscious plants mixed amongst them. There are pathways to stroll along and benches placed here and there creating a welcoming atmosphere for visitors.

They even have a spectacular oversized cactus and succulent garden that surpasses any such garden I ever saw in Southern California. How, I ask you, did they manage that?

I was actually so overwhelmed by all of the floral eye candy that I didn’t shoot much photography while we were visiting, and the shots I did manage to click off didn’t even approach doing justice to what I had witnessed.

That was two or three years ago. Last summer we visited the other lady I mentioned above during a Garden Path Tour and she was selling some of her varieties at economical prices, so we bought nine varieties and planted our own little daylily garden right next to our pergola.

After nearly one year of waiting, they started blooming in early July and are still producing a few more flowers. Starting on the morning of the first blossom, I began each day visiting with “the ladies” as I came to think of my dear Daylilies and checking out their latest blossoms.

If you are unfamiliar with this species of flower, as the name infers, the blossoms last only one day. But of course each plant may have many blossoms, so as some fade away one morning, others are just opening up. Some of my plants have just bloomed profusely for about three weeks. They bloom in July and then you wait another eleven months before you get to see them again.

A20140805-145848-53928045.jpgs I photographed them, I did what I love to do … zoomed right inside the flower as close as I could. And, I made a wonderful discovery about this special flower. The way they are constructed at the base allows light to come right in and light everything up inside. I shot some of the most beautiful floral photographs ever, and this one actually brought tears to my eyes because it was so extraordinary.

Another thing I about them is that some varieties have petals lined with incredible ruffles.

Well, the long and the short of it is that I fell in love with these flowers this summer, in my own little garden with only about nine varieties.

By the way, if you have not visited my son’s Etsy store lately, he has some very awesome neighborhood typography maps now as well as two,or three styles of vintage eye charts. That’s Flying Junction at Etsy or visit his company website.

There are so many more things I could write about from this sweet summer we are having, but now life is calling me again and I have to end off. It was quite nice visiting with you a bit, and I hope to see you here again very soon.

~firefly

We are makers of things

September 24, 2013 at 6:52 pm | Posted in art, blogging, country life, faith, family, flowers, gardening, gifts, inspiration, knitting, Life, love, photography, shopping, women | 4 Comments
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thewriterschairHello.

I have been away … at home.  Enjoying life, working out of doors on flowers and vegetables; working in doors on many new things including books (writing, as well as making actual physical books), making pendant necklaces using prints from my photography and paintings, clearing out and rearranging various rooms in our home in search of a new studio space to create for my creative endeavors, cooking, baking,  organizing and participating in our annual Art Trail Festival, resting, reading, studying, … living.

I received an email a while back from Martha Stewart with this as the subject line, “Are you a Maker?”

You know, there is a huge explosion of creativity going on across the globe and Makers of Things are finding themselves, finding each other, and finding a vast assortment of materials, techniques, and inspiration in their quests to make, create, design, build, and grow.

Sunflower PendantSometimes I struggle with my intense desire to create because I can tend to over collect materials for so many different types of creativity that I become too over burdened with materials things that are difficult to keep organized.  Over the past year I have been going through a process of choosing which avenues of creativity I will hold onto and build on and which I will let go of.

I am at heart, at the root of all things, a writer … a teller of tales and a creator of universes.

I am a painter of fine things, using oils, watercolors, colored pencils and oil pastels.

I am a photographer of life and experiences.

I am a fiber artist, with knitting being at the top of my list of fiber arts I am passionate about but needle felting is also included in there along with a bit of sewing and some crochet.

My fiber love extends also to the fibers used in making paper and books, and making paper and books ties back in with that which is at my core … writing.

This is my circle of creativity.

Simplifying down to this point has been an adventure all in itself but it has made it possible for me to simplify my materials and my studio space needs so that I can define and establish a new creative space to work in without our home that doesn't fill up too many spaces that I really need to share with others.

Well Martha … yes, I am a Maker.

ILiveonaFarm_pendantI come from a long line of Makers, and a big family of Makers and I am happy to be living in a world where making things is growing and expanding and exploding in new and even more beautiful ways.

And, speaking of making things … for the Art Festival I made some fine art photography print resin pendants/charms featuring tiny photographic prints of some of my fine art paintings as well as my fine art photography.  They were quite popular, so I decided to add them to my Etsy shop.  This one uses a portion of the photograph I shot back in 2006 when I was knitting on the Lavender Hat & Scarf, back when I was fairly new to blogging.  It is the photograph I use as the header here (see top of page), and I think it makes a lovely pendant for a knitter.

I hope you had a beautiful summer, and that you have been having fun making many things of your own.  With fall beginning and the holidays not so very far away we all move into that happiest, busiest time of creativity in the making of holiday gifts, decorations, and foods.

What fun.

~firefly

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