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.

Knitting, and painting, and writing …

June 30, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Posted in art, country life, faith, family, gardening, gifts, health, inspiration, knitting, Life, love, marriage, photography, relationships, summer, travel, women | 9 Comments
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Good morning … I hope you are having an enjoyable summer so far.

I give mine mixed reviews.

I spent the first part of June in Denver visiting with my parents, which was wonderful of course but not without some bittersweet feelings as well. I love living here on the farm in New York, an I would not trade my life here with my dear husband for anything. We enjoyed our sixth wedding anniversary this past April and continue to feel amazed and blessed that our 3-month online courtship and subsequent marriage worked out so very, very well.

It is, however, not fun at all to be 1,500 miles away from my parents. They have always been two of my very best, dearest friends as well as parents who I cherish, respect, and love. I wish circumstances were such that we could all live close together so that I could help them more. Dad continues to give prostate cancer a run for its money, and Mom does an incredible job taking care of him through that battle. When we all lived in California, very close to each other, my kids and I were on hand to help them if needed … and of course during all of the years when I was raising my kids my parents were very nearby and always on hand to lend a hand, a hug, or a listen whenever it was needed by us.

We have a dream that by some miracle the universe aligns and Dad and Mom are able to come and live here with us. Miracles can happen, and we will continue to pose that dream to the universe and see what we along with the universe can make happen.

Meanwhile, there is love and there is a wealth of technology for staying in touch at least.

I came back from Denver with bronchitis and then had the fun of that segueing to a sinus infection back in New York. I am much better now, but much of June was devoted to the trip and the recovery.

I did manage to take a brief little vacation, right in our own backyard, with my husband last weekend. I shot a number of photos during the vacation using the Instagram app on my Android phone and shared those on Facebook and Twitter. That little app is so amazing, and quite fun to use. I am planning on creating an Instagram chronicle over the course of this summer as a photo journal of a summer living in vacation.

Every year I am stunned all over again at the complete, innocent and rustic beauty of this place and the environment around it.

Creatively, I am enjoying a very productive time these days. I created two small oil paintings while on the mini-vacation, am almost complete with my watercolor of the swans, and have started writing my first novel. I am determined to write at least 500 words each day for the next several months until my first novel is complete. I realize 500 words per day is a tiny little writing target, but making sure I do at least that much work on the novel will ensure I do produce a full-length book over the next year. I have also been knitting: I completed a Biscuit Blanket as a mystery gift to someone I have not met as of yet, am making another attempt at a summertime blanket for myself, and am working on a new design for something I am calling a Friendship Square … more on that later.

Oh, yes … I also managed to make a triple batch of strawberry-rhubarb-cranberry preserves that resulted in a 26 jars of some very delicious jam. The strawberries and rhubarb were locally grown, and the cranberries were from a stock of frozen cranberries I always have on hand. Oops, I just remembered another thing … my husband and I got this year’s Sincere Pumpkin patch going.

I also have been creating some new art prints for knitters … I posted two of my new designs this morning in my Etsy store. They are philosophical, and slightly humorous. I hope you will enjoy at least taking a look at them and enjoying the sentiment as well as the pretty colors I am using.

That is about it for me for now. I want to work on some more paintings today, because I have the August Art Trail to prepare for and a beautiful day to thoroughly enjoy.

Warmest wishes to you and yours.

~firefly

A spring full of creativity

April 25, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Posted in art, country life, family, gifts, inspiration, knitting, needle felting, shopping, travel, women, yarn | 12 Comments
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We have been very busy, very productive. Last week I was not able to blog because I was working all out, day in and day out to prepare two full-color two-sided brochures for the now annual Artists of The Oak Art Trail the last Saturday of August. This is the third year that our artist group has organized and held our own Art Trail event.

The first two years we worked with a local arts organization but this year we have struck out on our own. My husband and I are the Art Trail organizers, and I felt strongly that our ability to organize has exceeded the ability of the arts organization to serve the needs of our community. Their attention is more focused on our neighboring county because a) the arts organization is located there, and b) the other county has a larger population than ours.

In past years when the art trail was orchestrated only by the arts organization there were only a small (microscopically small) handful of visitors to the trail. When my husband and I got involved and added the Artists of The Oak “loop” to their trail and pressed them to move the date from mid-autumn to late-summer the number of attendees dramatically increased (up from half a dozen literally to 80 the first year; up from 80 to 175 the second year).

Anyway, this year we broke off from the arts organization and are creating our own Art Trail. We raised money from local businesses to sponsor the map for the trail and then raised money from the artists in our group to pay for the Artists brochure.

I had an opportunity to get 5,000 of the map brochures and 5,000 of the Artists brochures with free shipping if I got everything done way ahead of schedule and submitted my artwork by this past Friday.

It was hard, focused work but I made the target and now we will have 10,000 promo pieces to distribute far and wide — which is four times as many as we had to work with last year.

If you are interested in our event this year, you can download the map here. Of course, the event is not until late summer, so you will have plenty of time to plan your trip!

Meanwhile, both my son and I have been busy creating. I love these new “Minimalist” prints he has created for various cities.

I admire his ability to keep things very clean and simple in his designs; these new posters are a great example of his taste in that regard. He has also added several new cities to his collection of Subway Signs and Bus Scroll Prints. So far these cities are represented:

  • Dallas
  • Washington D.C.
  • Portland
  • Atlanic City
  • Seattle
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • New York
  • San Francisco
  • Los Angeles
  • Paris
  • London

As for me, I have been combining two of my favorite fiber arts: knitting and needle felting. I have had so much fun creating this doll … and she has been enjoying two of my favorite activities: knitting and drinking coffee. I gave her a tote bag much like one of my favorite totes, and filled it with little balls of yarn rolled up from left overs of some of my favorite yarns.

Last fall I started knitting a pair of knuckle gloves for myself that I was really looking forward to wearing this past winter. However, I was not enjoying the knitting project and never got past mid-way on the first glove. I had intended to complete my gloves and then release a pattern for my readers, but I am not willing to publish a knitting pattern for a project that is no fun to knit, so I never completed the knucks and of course never released a pattern.

When I was working on the doll I had an idea to knit a hat for her, but then I came across the incomplete knuckle glove and realized it would make a great hat for her.

So I unraveled it back to a good length for the hat and voila, an adorable little hat to keep my doll’s head warm. I used some of the curly, unraveled yarn to make tassels for the corner points on the hat which just added to the cuteness quite a bit. I also used a little bit more of the same yarn to knit her a tiny ribbed scarf to make sure she stays plenty warm and cozy.

What I am doing with the needle felting is developing some more of my own techniques and characters so that I will have all kinds of cool stuff to teach in the needle felting classes I will be writing up and selling via my Etsy shop. I love the idea of combining knitting with needle felting because knitters will have an additional way to use their talents. But, for non-knitters I will be sure to include instructions for making accessories without knitting.

Please continue to be patient with me because it is a long process to develop the techniques and characters, then to remake items photographing each step, write up all of the instructions, and get it all published. For me, it is especially painstaking because I put quite a lot of care into breaking down my instructions into very easy to understand and follow directions. The thing is, this is a very fun and wonderful artistic medium and when I pass along some instructions on it I want to make sure others will experience great joy in what they are doing.

That will be it for today, but next time I blog I have a wonderful recipe to share that my son passed along to me for Asian Lettuce Wraps … I haven’t had a chance to make them yet, but he has and he loves them so he shared the recipe with me so I could share it with you fine folks.

I’ll write more in a few days.

Hope you have a beautiful week!

~firefly

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