Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Yarn Along


I have set aside Silje's Ambroise for a bit, and started work on a shrug/cardigan pattern.  This was the pattern wrote and started knitting the sample a few weeks ago, but was stressing over the fact that I had to be stopping all the time due to the fact that the yarn I had picked out was half acrylic, and that makes my arms ache like crazy for some reason.

So after some serious internet shopping, I finally decided to get the yarn "Meteorite" in Shelter by Brooklyn Tweed.  I love using tweed for this project, although the sheen of Madelinetosh would have been perfect as well, but they just didn't have the perfect brown I was looking for that Brooklyn Tweed had.

I'm reading Down the Long Hills by Louis L'Amour.  When my parents were visiting last summer, my mom and I and some of the kids went to my favorite used book store.  She found this book, and she asked if I remembered this.  Of course I did.  My mom read aloud this book to my siblings and I when I was little.  That may have been my first experience being read aloud a novel, and being on the edge of my seat for weeks.  So we got it so I could read it aloud to my kids too.  I have such good memories associated with this one.

It's an old western about 2 kids, aged 3 and 7 who are traveling west in a wagon train, and wander off from camp before dawn to hunt down a pet horse before the grown ups notice it was gone.  When they get back to camp with the horse, they find that there had been a massacre, and they are now left alone in the wilderness, with a stallion who is so large that the little boy can't even mount him by himself.

So I'm reading it before I read it to the kids, since I have such a list of books that we're going to read aloud at night, I wanted to assess reading level and placement on my master list, but I got sucked in, and now I'm staying up, once again, past midnight every night trying to find out what happens next.

This is why I avoid suspenseful novels: not because I don't like them, but I love them way too much!

I love how this book paints a picture of the wild west, from perspective of both the settlers and the indians.  I love the self sufficiency of the children, and how they conquer things that the grown ups thought were impossible for kids to do.  I love the relationship with the 7 year old and his father, who he was headed to meet out west, who comes looking for them.  They have spent so much time together that they practically read each other's brains, and the dad can almost pinpoint what his son will do next, and is the only grown up who believes that this little boy will make it.

I love the relationship between the boy and the horse, how the horse looks out for the boy, even taking on a grizzly to protect him.  (That was the chapter I read last night.  I think my heart has slowed down now...)

Linking up with Ginny's Yarn Along.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Harvest Date


This idea of a "Harvest Date" accessories has been in my head for awhile.  Although I've published a fingerless mitten pattern before, I've never designed a hat all by myself, and so that was quite a new endeavor, and took a few rounds of trial and error.  Once I got it right, though, I just knew it.  I want to live in this hat.  I may be wearing it around the house even.  (Knut hasn't had a chance to clean the chimney yet to start the wood stove yet this year.)

The idea started with "what would I like to wear out to the field to go visit Knut during harvest?"  It's so cold out there on the tractor sometimes, and yet we see each other so little this time of year that I really want to make it special when I do see him.  


These may be some of the simplest patterns I have ever written, and I must admit, it's crazy fun writing a pattern for a quick project like this after spending time writing long sweater patterns in 8 sizes.  The edits from my tech editor this time around didn't make my head spin.  It's also very satisfying knitting something small with a US9 needle, right after finishing my last project which was a large sweater on size US3 needles with detailed color work.  It all went so fast!



The problem was figuring out how to photograph this set when the leaves were perfect, and the clouds were just at that perfect state of overcast.  After some queries to some photography friends, I finally decided just to let Silje use my DSLR, and coach her through doing a photo shoot.  For a control freak like me, it was great to tell someone, "OK, I want you to stand right there, and I want this and this and this in the frame.  OK, take a few more like that" and they just do it.  Then I could see what she was doing every few minutes.  We're an amazing team.  She had so much fun, and so did I.  She got some great ones too, that I wouldn't have thought to set up.  I love seeing the world through her eyes.




We got all of our main pictures done, but I was hoping to catch Knut when he drove the semi truck out to the grain bins, and pull him in to some pictures.  He was such a good sport.





The Harvest Date Set can be purchased here, and you can purchase the patterns separately, or together at a discount.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Contentment

I'm not talking about knitting and reading today, as is tradition on Wednesdays.  I'm still caught in the harvest days of working all day long, only to see what is left undone at the end of the day.  I must content myself with the fact that our days are full of good things.


Just last week, the 3 older kids went to their 4H meeting where our neighbor (who calls their homestead "Yustaboutapharm") taught them how to make wreathes and baskets.  This neighbor and I have been talking about her teaching me how to spin wool for over a year now, but we may have a tentative date planned now.  She keeps sheep and other animals, and always has fleece to play with.  Actually, she's the herbal tea expert in the area too, and I want to pick her brain on tea making as well.  Really, I just want to know everything that is inside her brain.  For now, we had to content ourselves with her showing us how to make wreathes and baskets.


Silje was the only one who finished her project, but the boys got some really big ideas, and were inspired to do some stick-related projects since.  Not only that, but they have a much greater appreciation to basket making now!  Silje made what our neighbor called a "kitchen wreath" which has herbs woven in it to dry.  It's beautiful and smells great.  Silje wants to keep it in her room, but I've convinced her to leave it downstairs for us all to smell and enjoy for just a little bit longer.



This morning I'm dragging the kids through chores and we haven't even started school yet.  I made some blueberry scones.  No one seems in a hurry.  Silje was out until about 10pm last night at a girl's Bible study that is a part of our homeschool group.  I let her sleep in.  I had to have a long talk with David, twice already this morning.  I have been working hard on not yelling at the kids as much, and just letting the weight of their decisions rest on their shoulders without me stopping them.  It's hard, because I see so much possibility in their days, but I cannot drag them through it.  I don't have the strength.  They must see it.  For example, I've been working on not yelling at them to hurry up and get in the car, but simply telling them it's time to go.  Sometimes they don't listen, and then they miss their activity, and don't get to see their friends.  That is really hard for me to see them not have things I want them to have.  But, now when I say it's time to go, they jump and get in the car.  They know that if they don't listen, they will miss out.

Sometimes I just don't understand why they don't see that I'm for them, and I need their help to give them good things.  They're gradually seeing it.  They're still just kids.  I suppose discipline, and learning important lessons are good gifts too.  I'm a big believer in natural consequences, but I'll admit, it's a really hard way to go as a parent, because it involves reigning in myself so much, when I want to sweep in and protect them from all discomfort.  I'm determined to raise kids who are aware that their actions effect others, and they are responsible for their choices.  Those are rarely comfortable lessons.



When Silje woke up this morning, she told me all about her study last night.  They spoke about contentment.  She said they learned about how they make pictures on billboards and magazines, and how they change those girls' beauty to sell things through make up artists and computer imaging.  They contrast that with how God talks about beauty, and finding contentment in our design.  This study is for mothers and daughters, and I was unable to go because of this harvest season.  Next month, though, might be a possibility.  I hope so, because Silje said it was fantastic.

Tomorrow is my "afternoon off" as I call it, where I have a weekly scheduled break from the kids and the household duties that just don't stop this time of year, as Knut can't be home to give me a break ever, and even requires a bit of extra effort from me to get food out to him.  I'll admit, I look forward to my afternoon off a lot lately.  I usually only go to a quiet place and work on the math and spreadsheets of my knitting patterns, but the opportunity to have an uninterrupted deep thought is just priceless to me right now.  It has been helping me not burnout, and to be more present while I'm home.

I felt so guilty when I first started having this scheduled break.  I know it sounds silly, but I love being at home with my kids, so I feel hypocritical to desire to be away from it.  I need reminding too, that I'm designed to have regular rest, and I must be content with that design as well.

Monday, October 20, 2014

I'm Blessed

I foolishly am writing this as I get up this morning and am drinking my coffee and waiting for the oatmeal to finish on the stove for the kids.  Brace yourself for some rambling and grammatical errors.

It feels like ages since I wrote an "I'm Blessed" post, when really it's been a week or two.

I've been blessed this last weekend, with 2 particular friends who saw me in my need, and quietly, simply helped me without any fanfare.  One friend texted me some encouragement when I reached out for some prayer.  What she said was so beyond perfect, and full of so much compassion.  I want to be like that.

Still another friend saw that I was hurting and helped me.  Our small group at church was meeting at her house and watching a movie, and she saw that I was trying to hold and rub my neck, and find some way to rest it.  She quietly warmed up a big rice bag, and just came up behind me and rested it on my shoulders.  Friends, it was heaven, and I didn't even have to ask.  Sometimes as a mother of 5, it feels like no one sees the hurt, and no one really cares.  They're just kids, you know.  So have some one see me, and not just offer help, but help without question, not only made my neck muscles melt, but my heart was so touched by it as well.  It was another needed reminder that I am not alone.

I want so badly to see people as these friends saw me, and just be there without any fuss.  Today, we trudge through the morning, all waking up an hour later than usual because the kids have been up late a lot, and the last thing I need is anyone getting sick so I let them sleep.  Knut left before I got up, as corn harvest has begun, but left a full coffee mug on the counter for me as always.  I'm blessed that I got to talk to him for awhile last night before bed, after our small group Bible study.  It was one of those good, deep theological discussions that made us both think.  I love having someone that I can ask the hard questions, and he can ask his hard questions back.

The colors here are beautiful, with all the trees changing, though the wind is slowly making them bare.  The weather is so ideal right now for harvest.  I'm so thankful for that.  I'm hurting so much today that I think I'll go see my chiropractor a few days early.  The very idea of working in my garden today, like I need to, makes me tighten up in my chest again.  I'm thankful the weather is holding, so I can take my time to get these things done.  I've been able to enjoy so many evenings, on the couch, working on my knitting this last week.  Also, I have been working with the best tech editor ever for my upcoming patterns.

So today I'm thankful for being given such a community.  Also I'm thankful I found my car keys.  Knut will be happy I didn't permanently lose yet another set.

In our stressful Mondays, will you take time to give thanks?  What are you grateful for today?


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Harvest Time









Sorry, internet was out for a few days again.  It's basically impossible for me to blog from my phone, but there has been no lack of things to write about, nonetheless.

Everything is gorgeous right now, just so you know.  The colors of the changing trees are at their peak.  The weather is gorgeous, and last week the kids and I spent a lot of time trying to winterize the garden, and plant some more bulbs for next spring.  I felt bad, though, that we weren't getting as much school done as I thought we should, so this week we're getting a ton of schoolwork done, and I'm feeling bad that the garden isn't getting cleared.  We may just trade off and on like this for a few more weeks.  The weather seems to be holding for it.

Corn harvest is starting for Knut today.  That could likely mean I don't see him for another 3 weeks or so.  It's very common when the weather is ideal like this that his shift runs from 6am to 2am, and he comes home for a quick sleep and leaves before I wake up again, and I just see the indent on the pillow next to me, and a cup of coffee waiting for me in the kitchen, as signs that he was here.  They do still take Sundays off, though, so I'll see him then.  I may try to work out a harvest date and go visit him out on the tractor for awhile.  The older kids are anxious to go riding with him and Grandpa on the combine.  Corn harvest is by far the most fun harvest to go riding along.

My own little corn patch of strawberry colored popcorn is nearing ready to harvest.  We just pulled in our sunflower seeds and half of the black beans too.  I still have the other half of the black beans to harvest, and I'd like to plant garlic this fall still, where the black beans were.  Most of the tomato plants are pulled up now.  I have about half the carrots out, and none of the onions yet.  I didn't get my strawberries replanted and spread out earlier like I intended to, so I'll have to try to do that next year.  I didn't plan that out very well.

We may take a break of school and gardening and just make applesauce all week too.  That has to get done.  We may not be taking as much off during December as I like to, but we'll see how we're doing.  Silje and David especially have been getting such an enormous amount of schoolwork done on our school days...I've been so proud of them.  We're reading some great things, and doing some really fun science experiments.  I've started having us do some family exercise routines at the beginning of the school day, and it's really been helping us all with our focus during the day.  It's probably still the newness of it, but I'll take it.  Anything to help them focus!

Silje has been spending her free time getting her rabbits all set up for winter down in the barn.  She's worried they'll miss the fresh air, so she's putting on their harnesses as taking them for walks several times a day.  It's hilarious.  The cats follow her around and have no idea what to make of it.

Finally, I decided after much thought and counsel to break up this knitting collection I've been working on, and publish the patterns individually, as soon as they are ready.  So expect close to 4 patterns being published in the next month or so.  I may also have a giveaway coming as well.

Thanks for sticking with me!  Also, if you were wondering where I've been, you can always like my Facebook page (as I can update that from my phone), and get updates on what's going on when the blog goes silent.  Or...you can just know our internet went down again.  :)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Yarn Along


I'm still working on Silje's Ambrosia cardigan, which is coming along quickly, considering how little I've worked on it this week.  Gotta love bulky yarn!  I've also finished (besides weaving in ends) a pair of fingerless mittens for my pattern collection.  Right now I'm debating whether or not to release them in book form, or if I should just stick to releasing the PDFs of them individually like I have always done.  At any rate, they're nearly ready to photograph with the matching hat.

For those who are familiar with my patterns, my Lady Pearl just went live this week (FINALLY!!) and you can find a discount when you buy it together on Ravelry with the child's version: Little Pearl.

The kids and I were in town the other day, and very saddened to learn that one of our very favorite stores, (a Scandinavian import store) was closing so that the owner could move back to Norway.  The owner went to the same knitting group as me at one point, and I'm sad to see her go, but I know she wants to be closer to her daughter.  Pretty much everything was 40% or more, including the books.  Most of them were picked through by the time we got there, (I was sad all of the Elsa Beskow books were gone already) but I did see this book by Astrid Lindgren.  She's one of my kids' very favorite authors.  We are actually reading once again Children of Noisy Village once again during tea times, and of course, she was the creator of Pippi Longstocking.  I had not heard of this book, but I couldn't just leave it there so I brought it home, along with a children's biography of Astrid Lindgren (OK... and a bunch of other things...).

Silje and I have been taking turns reading it.  I think we're both enjoying it, but it's so very different than her other books, at least as far as subject matter, that it took me a little while longer than usual to get into.  Now that my head's getting wrapped around it, I'm getting pulled in quickly.  Silje is 60 pages ahead of me, though.  She really likes it, and is a much faster reader than I am, though I'm pretty sure it's because she has more reading time.  ;)

Linking up with Ginny's Yarn Along.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Harvest Begins







Soy bean harvest started this week.  So far everything is going very well.  Knut's long hours have begun, and we're bringing food out to him at least once a day.  I'm having a tough time managing the enormous feat of getting food on the table, as we are so often in town these days, and when we are home, I'm working on harvesting my own little garden, and preserving what I can for the winter.  It leaves very little time for cooking...or laundry.  We're headed into birthday season in our house too, so I don't see any sign of catching up with some freezer meals put away anytime soon.

So what ends up happening is I spend several hours canning tomato sauce, only to serve macaroni and cheese from a box for supper.  I spent a lot of time yesterday just going through my recipes and finding all the ones I could that could be prepared in 30 minutes either in the morning (crock pot) or evening.

We did some driving today to pick up a pig at a butcher about an hour away.  Another homeschooling family in our circle has a 10 year old that raises pigs as a side project, and we bought half of one from him, and went to pick it up.  My freezers are now full of hams and bacon, and sausages, ribs, roast, etc.  We actually had to borrow freezer space from a neighbor.  I think in 3-4 weeks my freezers should be clear enough to get it back.  Sooner if I can find some time to clean one of the little ones out better.

There is such an enormity of things going on behind the scenes in our lives right now.  I went for a walk outside last night to take some pictures.  When decisions are to be made, and a lot is on my mind, I find that taking pictures is a great way to capture the beauty of the moment.  It allows me to take my mind off of things, and just see what God has given me for just that time.  It's just beautiful.

Have a lovely weekend everyone!  We'll be celebrating David's birthday, as well as one of my nephew's birthdays.  We'll have some company over, and keep plugging away at this garden produce. Don't forget to look for the beauty in each moment.