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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And, we’re off … at Live From The Oak

December 12, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Posted in blogging, Christmas, country life, family, Kindle, knitting, Life, photography, Vintage, women | Leave a comment
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knittingBefore launching into the main subject of today’s blog, I wanted to fill my knitting readers in on where I am at with my hand knit wrap / throw (official title still undetermined, but I’ve listed it on Ravelry in my projects as “firefly wrap“). I finished knitting the main body of the piece a couple of weeks back and since have been working on the border. Initially I was going to knit the border in white, but I didn’t like the contrast so I started it over again …

Read the rest of this blog post over at my new blog –> Live From The Oak

Bittersweet

May 17, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Posted in art, faith, family, flowers, gifts, knitting, Life, love, women | 54 Comments
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Bittersweet.

I look outside my studio window as I write, viewing a great bounty of lush green growth.  

Trees, green grasses, flowers, an abundance of life that is breathtaking in its simplicity and rustic charm.  Several Amish families in open, black buggies pulled by elegant dark chestnut colored horses have passed by on the road, their children wearing straw hats in the bright morning sun.

I am blessed.

I look over at the watercolor painting I am working on with two swans I photographed on our river last year on a perfectly gorgeous June day.  It is amazing to me, that I have access to a river, to swans, to green fields, the canopy of trees, toads, our grand willow … too much to catalog even if I had a lifetime to do so.  The visual stimulation to me the artist is sometimes overwhelming in scope.  And yet, somehow I push through the abundance of subject matter and find something simple to create.

Yes, I am blessed.

Our hostas are amazing, yet again.  I don’t think I will ever cease to be amazed at the overflowing abundant green beauty of the hosta plant and the ease with which it is grown, managing itself with perfect timing and expanding affluence year after year.  My husband and I planted the hostas all around the house four or five years ago and by now they come back each spring huge and just so lovely I can hardly stand to contemplate it.  I am eternally grateful for the the hosta.

Our antique tree peony had a bit of a misfire this year.  March was unusually warm, then winter temperatures came again and many plants became confused as to what they were supposed to do.  The tree peony sprouted three buds very early on, but then the very cold weather in April gave her reason to take some more time off.  By the time things warmed up all she had to show for the year was the three buds.  They opened a few days ago, some two weeks early … very noticeable for a plant the opens her blossoms exactly like clockwork year after year on Memorial Day weekend.

I am not complaining about the three blossoms — they are as extraordinary as any tree peony blossoms ever are.  Last year we had, I believe, something like two dozen blossoms so I am merely noting a rather drastic difference.

For quite some time my freedom to create, whether it be knitting, needle felting, writing, or painting, was restricted by happenings in family and in life.  Life changes much as a river ebbs and flows and I am finding much time these days to do all of the creative things I love so much to do.  I am an artist, and when I cannot carve out the time and peace to create it takes a toll on me spiritually.  

However, I am also an eternal and almost annoying optimist so even when I get down about now being able to create I know things will change I will be able to create again, so I remained hopeful even if a bit sad.  And now, here I am with plenty of time and peace for my creativity.  My studio is like a chapel or temple, my place of religious retreat where I find comfort, meditation, spiritual room to fly, peace to contemplate and pray.

So many blessings brush my cheek as their misty truths cross through my mind: 50 acres; four seasons, Canada geese enjoying remnants of last year’s corn in the field, this year’s Sincere Pumpkin patch, the most wonderful and dear husband, two children to love dearly, a precious granddaughter, three crazy happy dogs, wind, rain, snow, sunshine, water, autumn, rivers and streams, a home, a cottage, more friends than I can count, you my reader, biscuits, laughter, the promise of fresh fruits and vegetables affordable and within easy reach at farm markets all over the place in our area, swans, ducks, song birds, wild flowers, paint, fiber, memories … you get the idea.

I am blessed.

My title today is bittersweet, because with all that I have to be thankful for (and I have only mentioned the tip of the iceberg in terms of the many blessings in our lives) is all so very bittersweet because my father, my dear sweet friend, has prostate cancer.  He was diagnosed with it many years ago and has done a great job with help from my mother in keeping it at bay.

Together they have done a great job with that.

But today, my father needs your prayers.  And my mother too.

Please.

They are truly two of the dearest, most loving people you can imagine and they have done much in their lives in service and kindness to others. They have earned the universe opening up today and enveloping them in a great big, comforting and loving embrace.

Your prayers will help.

Love you Dad and Mom.

~firefly

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