Tags: agriculture, art, autumn colors, country living, culture, family, farm, farm life, farming, gardening, green, home, inspiration, knitting, love, marriage, personal, photography, thoughts, travel, Upstate New York, women
This 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
This 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 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 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.
This 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
Earlier 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.
Tags: children, Christmas, craft, crafting, design, gift idea, gifts, handmade, holiday, inspiration, knitting, Life, love, making, photography, women
It 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.
Regardless 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.
That 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.
This 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.
And 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.
Tags: farm life, knitting, lace knitting, photography
That’s what I’ve been up to lately. I have designed seven knitted shawl patterns, published five of them (see photos of all,of the shawls at the bottom of this blog) and put up five peach pies in the freezer.
Okay, I have been doing plenty more than just this but these are highlights.
Living here in small farm and orchard country in Upstate New York is an amazing blessing during harvest season in particular. Everywhere you turn there is a farm stand, farm market or green thumbed neighbor brimming over with fresh berries, fruits, and vegetables beginning in June and continuing far into the fall.
Everything is fresh and fantastically delicious, it just makes you feel healthy and prosperous looking around at all the bounty. My biggest problem is that I’ll get home with bunches of goodies I procured at a very economical price and then often I have so much going on that I have a hard time getting around to making preserves, pies, and so forth.
Such was the case this week when we brought home eight quarts of the most wonderful plump peaches you could ever hope to come by. I had intended to make peach preserves and a each pie but I couldn’t get around to doing either.
Then yesterday, worried the peaches would go bad, I quickly peeled and sliced them up and did this very cool thing … I packaged them in five pound lots in ziplock freezer bags, tossed them with the sugar, cornstarch and spices necessary for peach pies and then I frozen them in pie dishes.
This morning I took the frozen bags out of the pie dishes, and they are shaped like pies now they just don’t have crusts yet. But I put them in a large 2.5 gallon freezer bag, all stacked up.
Now, when we want a peach pie I’ll just put a crust in a pie dish, put one these frozen pie-shaped peach pie things on the crust, add my top crust and bake.
None of the peaches were wasted, and now we have five mostly ready peach pies waiting to be enjoyed anytime we wish.
I’m going to do this with apples also. 🙂
As for the shawls, I started designing and knitting them back in early spring. Writing the patterns up and getting them published and marketed is very time consuming, but I have managed to get five published recently in my Ravelry store and at Etsy. The others will be ready in October.
The five I have already published are available individually, but then I also published a collection of all five for those who want it all at an economical price.
The collection is titled “The Livin’ is Easy”, a line from my most favorite song of all time, “Summertime” from the musical Porgy and Bess. The others in the collection are also named from lines in the song. One, “Abbie” is named for the actress who first sang the song on stage.
Three are top down triangular shawls, and one (Take to the Sky) is a rectangle; they range in difficulty from easy to moderately difficult.
Take to the Sky is perfect for anyone new to lace knitting or wanting an easy project to use for learning how to follow a chart. I wrote the pattern up to be very clear and easy to follow and I include instructions as to how to follow the charts.
If you learn about this pattern here on my blog and want to give it a try, you can get it for half price at Ravelry by using the coupon code: PEACHPIE at checkout. (The pattern is priced at $4.00, so you will get it for $2.00).
Today is a chilly, windy day and autumn is clearly on the way, but we still have flowers blooming outdoors and we are enjoying of the last vestiges of summer we can find because this has been our most perfect summer so far.
Hope you are having a beautiful day.
One of These Mornings
Take to the Sky
Remember, you can get Take to,the Sky for half price at Ravelry by using the coupon code: PEACHPIE at checkout. (The pattern is priced at $4.00, so you will get it for $2.00).
The Livin’ is Easy (5 Patterns) eBook