Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Yarn Along

I'm working on a "Tiny Tea Leaves" cardigan for Ingrid.  It completely is an impulsive knit, as it wasn't in the plans to knit at all.  I was in-between some projects, and had so much going on at home that I needed more of a stress-relieving knitting projects rather than figure-it-out-designing knitting I usually have on the needles.  I was going through my patterns looking for a toy knit to get a head start on Christmas presents, and found this one instead.

I am using some stash yarn, which is half acrylic, and half nylon.  I know, I never use acrylic anymore unless I'm doing a baby blanket, because in general it makes my hands ache.  It just has no elasticity to it.  I made Solveig a baby sweater in this yarn, and this is the leftovers.  When the yarn store by me went out of business, I decided to add a bit in the same dye lot to this leftover yarn, so it could stretch to one more project.  It IS really soft yarn, though I don't think I'd buy it again.

Since my other girls are really into bright colors these days, and Ingrid is the only one who lets me dress her without a peep as to what she looks out, I'm going to enjoy this soft pink for as long as it lasts.

She really could use a sweater, and I haven't knit that much just for her, and the Tiny Tea Leaves is such a satisfyingly quick project, especially after my fingering weight, color work, adult sweater.  I'm loving this speed.

I got to finally use my new needles for the body.  For my birthday I got some chestnut interchangeable needles from Dyakcraft, but it took several months for this custom order to be completed and mailed out to me.  Oh my word, they were worth the wait.  They're heirloom quality, and smooth as can be.  I feel a little bad that I used them for the first time using my cheapest yarn, but it was what I wanted to "use up" and the project that I wanted to do.  I'm just happy to actually be working from my stash, and I believe this is the last of the acrylic.  So the needles will have to submit just this once.

Right now I'm working on DPNs, though, from the Fringe Association, which I also got for my birthday…last March and are finally getting used.  I swatched with them a bit before, so it's not quite their maiden voyage, but they are very lovely as well, and have been very good for staying on gauge with the wooden needles.

I'm returning to The Egg and I which I never finished before.  I was getting sick of going through school readers, and picked up a "me" book to read before bed to unwind.  Though this book is so funny, I'm not sure how it is for helping me unwind.  It's the story of a chicken farmer's wife in Washington state in the '40s or so.  I love her voice, and her humor.

Linking up with Ginny's Yarn Along.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Apple Cider Vinegar - How to Use It, How to Make It

It's nearly apple season!  The kids have started to grab some apples off the apple tree during their play time, and I know that applesauce making will soon be commonplace in the kitchen.  I experimented with making apple cider vinegar with apples from the store earlier this summer, and now I'm all set to make some big batches for the first time now that apples are ripening in our yard.

We go through bunches of apple cider vinegar around here.  Here are some basic uses:

-Add to chicken water.  This works to drive the chickens to drink more, which is good for general health, and also serves to keep the chickens intestinally healthier.  Just a little capful or so per gallon or two is enough.

-Homemade salad dressing Yum! (with other ingredients in a recipe involving an oil of course.  Don't just pour apple cider vinegar plain on a salad.  Yuck.)

-Pour into a small bowl and leave on counter when processing lots of garden produce to prevent the fruit flies from overtaking the kitchen.

-keep full strength in a small spray bottle in the first aid box.  (I use a travel size spray bottle)

  • We use this as a natural spray on sore throats for humans.  It tastes nasty, but nothing scares a scratchy throat away faster.  I prefer a cup of tea, but if that doesn't work, time to pull this out.  I learned this from a homeschooling podcast, as the mom talked about dealing with reading all day long to your kids, and how it's hard on your throat.  It really works.
  • We also spray this on the dogs every few days in the summer if the flies won't leave them alone.  Both dogs have gotten sores from flies in past years, and we've found this to be a great addition to their flea/tick medication.  We have on occasion use it on the cats too, but they will really hate you for it, and they normally keep themselves free of flies much better than dogs anyway.
  • We use it for bullying with the chickens.  Occasionally there's a chicken who is constantly bullied by the other chickens to the point that all of her neck feathers are missing.  Sometimes it gets to the point of getting bloody or scabby.  Once chickens see blood, it only gets 500x worse.  Then they really go in for the kill.  So in the early stages, or the recovery stages, we spray full strength apple cider vinegar on the neck.  Not only does it cleanse the area, it gives the bully who dares peck on the wound a huge mouthful of yuck.  Chicken bullying slows down in a hurry after that.
So want to know how to make it in a Weck jar?  Just like other fermentation, you're going to need the jar, a cover that fits, 2 metal brackets, and a glass cover that is for the Weck jar a size smaller to hold the apples under water inside the jar.  I've found that this process works really well in a liter size tulip jar, with an extra lid from, say the 1/5 liter mold jar.  

Step 1: Give all of your kids an apple for snack.  If you have 5 kids like me, this works great.  This might have been about 2 days worth of snack scraps.  Honestly, I don't wash these scraps or anything.  They go straight from the kids' sticky fingers to the jar.  Or you can make an apple pie, apple sauce, etc.  Basically you're looking for any apple scraps: cores, skins, etc.  If you want organic apple cider vinegar you need to use organic apples.

Step 2: Put all apple scraps gathered into a liter size Weck tulip jar, with an inch or two of headspace.  

Step 3: Cover completely with water, and lay the extra small Weck jar lid on top of the apple scraps to keep them under water.  

Step 4: Put regular glass lid on top, DO NOT PUT ON THE RUBBER RING, but DO put on the metal brackets so that glass lid doesn't move off if the bottle gets bumped by accident.  You want it covered, but not air/water tight.  So leave the seal off.  The fermentation process releases a gas.  So you want air to escape, but no air to get to the scraps.  The weight inside will push the apples underwater so they cannot get the air, and it will allow the excess gas to escape without any pressure building up.

Step 5:  Store jar in a cool, dark place (warmer than a fridge, but out of the sunlight.  Walk around your house and look for a dark safe place not close to a heat source.  Ours sat on the cleaning product shelf in a back hall closet).  Leave for 3-7 days.  I've left mine on a shelf for 2 weeks by accident and nothing bad happened.

Step 6: The jar will now look cloudy, and there should be a foam around the top.  If there is mold, scrape it off, and discard.  That means that it was stored in too warm of a place, but all is not lost.  In this picture is was just broken up apple seeds that didn't strain out, and I just picked out with a spoon.  Just discard the mold, if you get any.  The white foam is good.  That's the "mother."  Think proofing yeast for bread…it means you have good yeast going on there.  It's the fermentation process eating up all the sugars in the apples.  At this point you want to strain out and discard all of the apple pieces, and keep the precious liquid and foam that is nearly your apple cider vinegar.

Step 7: Find a smaller Weck jar, and wash in very hot, soapy water.  I used 2 mold jars that were 1/5 liter size, because that was the closest to grab when I was doing this.

Step 8: Pour that precious liquid, with foam and all, into the clean jars, cover with lid and metal brackets, but again NO rubber seal.  Do not heat up the liquid.  You are not canning them, and you don't want to sterilize this liquid, or you will kill off all the yeast.

Step 9: Put the jars holding just liquid back to that cool, dark spot it you were storing it before.  

Step 10: Leave on the shelf for about 6 weeks.  It will darken, sometimes develop more foam, settle with "stuff" floating around the bottom, and eventually get that strong vinegar smell.  At that point, you can add the rubber seal to your Weck jar, (optional, it doesn't matter) and store wherever you store and use your apple cider vinegar.  The yeast has eaten up all the sugar, and is now shelf stable.

So yes, it does take time, but not your time.  The only time "work time" required for this project is washing jars, and pouring water over apples.  Most of the "work" of making apple cider vinegar happens all by itself on a lonely shelf.  It's just another way to get something free out of food scraps.  :)

Monday, August 18, 2014

I'm Blessed

 It's been a stressful few days.  It's about to get a lot better as my parents are flying in today to spend a week with us.  I wished we could get some of this work done when they were here, so that we'd have the extra hands, but this will work out better anyway.  We'll be able to "relax" while they are here…as much as 5 kids and a garden allow one to relax.  Thursday all of the meat birds for the year were butchered.  Also, our internet got fixed.  Not that either of those things required much of me besides people just in and out of my house, and keeping the kids out of workers' way.  Friday I spent the day canning peaches.  Saturday we husked our sweet corn for the year, and baked it and froze it into baggies for the winter.

In the midst of the chaos, after I got the kids to bed one night, and Knut was finishing up some chores, I made myself go outside.  The sunset was just calling to me.

 I walked down to the "old" garden, to assess what needed to get done in the coming days.  It's where some popcorn is growing up.  We've never grown popcorn before, and this is heirloom strawberry popcorn.  It's not strawberry flavored, the kernels are just red.  I can't wait to try it.  I was still too close to home, though.  Too close to toys left out, weeds needing to be pulled, and tomatoes that were nearly ripe.  I needed to get further away.

I ended up across the road, in one of the soy bean fields that has the best view of the sunset.  Though it wasn't my reason this evening, I sometimes go here to pray when I'm upset.  It's just so far away from anything that I feel like I can talk, or yell as much as I want and it's just me and God.

It has this particular tree right smack in the middle of it that always captures my imagination.  Sometimes I dream of running down there, and hiding in it with a book.  Of course, walking through a field is not an easy thing to do, as the ground is not smooth and farmers don't really like you doing it much as it can crush the plants.  People don't realize that these aren't rows of sidewalks.  It's piles of dirt, sometimes mud.  You slip a lot, and need to lift those legs high.  I've actually never walked down to this tree, but I think about doing it all the time.  One of these days I'll make it there.  It's farther than it looks, as I can walk and walk and not appear to get any closer, and really you shouldn't be walking in fields this time of year anyway.

Plus animals hide in the plants, and you never know when you come across a skunk or a snake or something.  I'd rather go walking in the winter out in a spot like this, where I can see what is in my path, but the freezing wind hits so badly then.  That's why I've never made it down to the tree.  Maybe this year.

I walked around a bit where I saw a tractor wheel had been, that made a little path for me to walk.  Even then I tried not to trample the beans.  I thought about what a shame it had been that they had been crushed, and yet how convenient it was for me to have a little path.

Trampled... to create a path.

I dwelled on that concept for quite awhile.  Somedays "trampled" is the best way to describe how I feel.  I thought about how Jesus was crushed to make a way for us.  I thought about all the little plants, or grass that has to die so that paths can be made.  I thought about all the things that were sacrificed for the sake of a path.  It's interesting, isn't it? Clearing a path is essentially cutting away branches, pulling up plants, and trampling down soft spots to make way for firm ground, with little obstruction.

In fact, a good path is one that is travelled often.  It's one where things are repeatedly trampled, repeatedly pulled up, repeatedly put to death.  Those paths are easy to identify, and easy to walk.


As I ponder these things, I wonder what paths God is forming in my life, and for what purpose?  After visiting a friend of mine recently who is deeply struggling in multiple areas, God has brought to mind the story of Job, and "Job's friends."  You know, the guys who visit Job and told him how he must have caused all of this pain in his life, and he must have done this to himself, and if he would just get his act together or call out to God, God would take away all of his suffering, and what was the matter with him anyway?

I know when I'm suffering, I need the friends around me who don't search for ways that I could have avoided my suffering, I need the friends who will wrap their arms around me, so that I don't feel alone. Friends that bring comfort, and compassion.

Suffering often has a reason, though I do not pretend to always know what it is, or how to stop it.  Heck, I don't even know always how to get through it other than fixing your eyes on Jesus.  He helps you breathe.  He keeps you from drowning.  As I walked this path of crushed plants, I thought about how these crushed soy beans made a good path for me.  Their suffering (so to speak) brought me out to the field, brought me time of reflection, and brought me safely back home.

I'm so blessed that I have access to the outdoors.  I have lived in big cities where you have to walk quite awhile to find grass.  Nature is so therapeutic.  It quiets the soul, and awakens the senses.  It's such a gift.  I take it for granted far too much.  The Bible talks about how it declares his glory.

I'm blessed with roses, and popcorn in my garden, and freezers and a cold rooms for canning jars starting to groan with being stuffed for the winter.

I'm blessed with paths and trails through the woods and through the fields.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Yearly Long Homeschooling Post

I should laugh at the title of this post…as if I were only longwinded once a year.  Ha!

Last year was really hard.  Not only did we have the normal pressures of homeschooling, we dealt with my injury from the car accident, all 5 of the kids having various degrees of injuries from the car accident, working through some learning disabilities with one of my children, and solving some big problems there.  We did a very extensive standardized test near the end of the year, which our state requires, though we chose one more extensive than we did in the past.  The results were a resounding:

My children are thriving as we homeschool.

I knew, though, that I was not.  I burnt out, crashed and burned, stared at a wall, whatever you want to call it.

To be perfectly honest, I spent hours on my knees, I mean hours at the end of our last school year, asking God if this was really what he called me to do.  I played out in my head what it would be like to send my kids off to school.  I played out in my head quitting this whole homemaker/homeschooling gig and going back to work and being a "working mom."  I get emails from knitting publication editors, I have opportunities to contribute to books.  I could have a job tomorrow if I wanted one.

I walked away from that soul/God searching with a renewed peace that this was exactly what I was supposed to be doing, and yes, it's hard, but it's good.  It's the plan.  Stay the course.  And He will sustain me.  Sacrificing is hard, but on the other hand, isn't it the trademark of a Christ-follower?  How can we possibly be walking in the footsteps of Christ if we avoid sacrifice?

I also walked away with a renewed conviction that I need to be taking care of myself better than I have been, if I'm in it for the long haul.  There must be balance.  This is a marathon, not a sprint.  I am not the hero.  I am not the Savior.  I have spent some time this summer reading books from homeschool veteran Sally Clarkson.  I've been having tea, Facebook conversations, and phone calls with friends I've met with homeschool networking who have graduated children and have some wisdom to pass down.  I've been gleaning wisdom from all of them, and soaking in their advice and words of grace.

So I'm making some big changes this year.  They have been hard decisions, as I choose between several good things, to find the right things.  I don't know if these changes are permanent or just this year.  I hope that every year I will be open to change, though, so I don't think anything is permanent.  The first change made was that I'm stepping down as Sunday School teacher at my church.  Teaching 6 days a week it too much.  I love teaching there so much, and get much joy from it, but I feel so much at peace about stepping down that I know God has someone else lined up to take my place.

The second big change is we are stepping away from our homeschool co-op.  Now, we're not stepping away from our homeschool group, or association, which has various activities throughout the year.  We are only stepping away from one of the homeschool group's weekly gatherings.  We will still do some field trips and other activities with them.  I just found I need to schedule in down time at this stage with the kids.  As in, write on the calendar "stay home and play" instead of leaving it blank.  We are adding maybe band, and starting piano lessons for David, and signed up for some nature study field trips.  I have to take away activities somewhere, and we're having to cut deep to do that.

One of the main reasons that we're stepping away from the co-op this year isn't because we don't love it, because we do.  It was so beneficial.  It's just that is the only day a sitter is available for me to use.  I need to make a priority of taking care of myself this year, and that means that taking care of myself has to replace something.  I've arranged for a 17 year old homeschool student to come once a week in the afternoon and finish up a few assignments with the kids while I go to the library and work on my knitting patterns, or have coffee with a friend, or wander around an antique store.  I'm thankful that my knitting business will be able to pay for this weekly down time, and I hope it will enable me to release the backed up pile of patterns that each need loose ends tied up to actually get published.

I'm always a proponent of moms taking time to rest and regroup, but for some reason, I had to work through a lot of guilt in making this decision in regards to me.  I feel guilty for pulling my kids from their co-op to do it.  I feel guilty for spending money on myself when I could give it to someone who needs it more than I do, or spend it on my family.  I feel guilty for needing to get away, and not being strong enough to carry this all on my own.  I finally realized that I was merely having to lay down some pride, and that is normally a good thing.  It wasn't guilt that was plaguing me, it was pride.  It's easy to confuse the two.  It's the idea that everyone else needs help, but not me.  Nope, I'm fine.

I need to take care of myself, and there's nothing wrong with that.  It's okay to say, "Nope, I'm not enough, I can't carry it all, and I need help."  Whew.  Glad to get that off my chest.

I was stuck in this cycle of getting up, spending all day long with 5 kids, finally getting them to sleep, Knut coming home from work at various hours, often when I just get the kids down, and then wanting to actually spend time with me, and then me staying up until midnight or 1am just to experience being alone.  I know there are moms out there who know what I'm talking about.  Then you wake up the next day, groggy and weak, and go through the next day exhausted.  Repeat.  I need to jump off this crazy cycle, and hopefully by scheduling in alone time, I can make some progress to get off the merry-go-round of staying up until the wee hours of the morning.

Other than that, we're just continuing on.  I normally list on the blog what curriculum we are using this year, but I hesitate in doing that because we are using such a hodgepodge of curricula this year that should I list them all, there would be the impression that we are doing all of the parts of the curricula listed, and we aren't.  Though it's tempting to make you "oohh" and "ahhh" and say, "Wow, that's a lot!  I could never do that much!" I don't want any other moms to feel defeated by the illusion of what someone else is doing.   Plus, I simply don't have the time to list every single book, and which pages or chapters of those books we will be using.  There are very few changes we're making this year, so we're doing a bit of Sonlight books, a bit of My Father's World books from last year, a bit of Apologia, a bit of Saxon, though I may switch Silje to Teaching Textbook this year when she finishes the book she is on.  David will likely stick with Saxon.  We are reading "living books" and discussing them.  We are doing a bit from some hand-me down Shurley English textbooks, and some Institute for Excellence in writing.  We will memorize poems, Scripture, Shakespeare, geography songs and timeline jingles.  We are doing some Simply Charlotte Mason art studies as well.

I will say Silje will be going deeper into art.  David will be going deeper into chess.  Elias will be doing some basics as he's kindergarten age now.  At that age I require 15 minutes each of reading, writing, and arithmetic.  Everything else is optional, and they participate as much as they want.  That system has worked very well for us.

Elias is showing himself to be even more into art than Silje is, who is normally our resident artist.  He spends hours coloring, with such attention to detail and passion that I have not seen with the other kids at this age.  He's no prodigy, but it's something he's becoming very passionate about, and he's taken to carrying a notebook around, in case he sees something he wants to sketch.  He has so many ideas for stories in his head that he just sits and acts out through his art.  I'm excited about that, and hope to open some more doors in this area for him this year as well.  This kid is very quiet, and keeps his thoughts to himself most of the time.  So I'm eager to see more of what is in his head through this means of art and stories.

I have also been working hard in getting a better organizational system for our homeschool "stuff."  Last year Knut built in a bookshelf and cabinet.  The bookshelf keeps our school books, and the cabinet keeps our school/craft supplies and manipulatives.  It's great.  However, last year I had school papers floating around everywhere from bookshelf ledges to the dining room table, to random end tables, and in the back hallway.  I don't want to hunt down a math page.  I don't want to go through a stack to find a writing assignment.  So this year I got these pretty baskets, with little chalkboard plaques for everyone's name from Target.  I have one for me, that holds files for each kid, for lessons I have in the works, and some household papers.  Silje, David, and Elias each have a "To Do" folder, and a "Done" folder.  The 2 younger kids just have 1 folder right now for any artwork, or worksheets, as they are mostly playing and will "grow into" their file basket in years to come.

I was so pleased how Knut hung them, because he kept every scrap from his bookshelf project, and the piece of wood he hung these baskets on, so that the weight would be on the studs, was some old moulding he had to pull off the wall to put in the bookshelves.  So it's original to the house and looks like it has always been there.  There's a good space above these baskets that I want to get some vinyl lettering of some quote in regard to learning.  I'm debating between about 20 quotes right now.  Actually I've narrowed it down to a short list about 7.

So it will likely get done in a year or so.  Ha!  That's how long it will take me to over think it.

My goal was to keep the system simple, as I'm not a very organized person and have learned that the more detailed the system is, the less likely I will use it.  So the kids will have a log sheet or worksheet for a particular subject, and will move the log sheet or assignment from the "to do" folder to the "done" folder when they finish it.  That way when I want to find something, it will be in the "done" folder.

In theory.

I have used checklists with the kids in the past, but I've found that they conveniently skip over some lines and I have to go through it pretty thoroughly to make sure they do each thing, and each part of each thing.  So I'll still have to hold them accountable, but hopefully this will help me hold them accountable.

Well, that's my big plans for the year in a large nutshell.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Back Online

Well, Knut was working on a house project last Sunday.  It was more tinkering around than doing serious business.  He accidentally cut our wifi cord, and we just got it fixed today.

There is so much I want to catch up with on the blog.  I'm not even sure where to start.  I had been working on a big homeschooling post on our plans for this year, but about half of it got lost when I stupidly tried to save my work online when we had no internet.  It's still in my head, so maybe I'll get it done for tomorrow.

I'm so scatter brained today.  The butchering crew showed up this morning to butcher our meat birds.  We hired out that job this year…with no regrets.  The team that came did a fantastic job, and we now have chicken for the year all tucked away and on its way to freezing.  The internet guys showed up just in the middle of butchering, so I had a crew outside, and a crew inside, and kids running all the places in-between.  And I haven't been able to achieve one thing on my to do list today, which I honestly decided to give up on around 8 o'clock this morning.  There's just too many distractions.

But the little girls are now napping, so pour yourself a cup of tea, friend, and sit with me.  How has your week been?  I just picked up a crate of peaches that I ordered 2 months ago.  They just got in yesterday and no I have dozens of peaches to can.  I was planning on doing that today until I realized it just wouldn't work.

So I'm just sitting around, watching other people work and eating peaches.  They're really good cut up and sprinkled with sugar.  I've never tasted peaches so good.  Once I get my house back to myself, tomorrow maybe, after I pick up Silje from camp, we've got roasted peach and honey jam to make, with a touch of ginger, and maybe this weekend some canned peaches.  The sweetcorn is ready to be put away for the winter too.  Knut is thinking we'll have the family over on Saturday to husk and cut it all then.  Never a dull moment.

I had a supper out with friends on Sunday and Monday night, and a meeting Wednesday night, and along with back to school meetings, I'm doing the agonizing decision making of figuring out which activities my kids will do this Fall, and which activities we will exclude.  More on that tomorrow…if I remember it all.  :)  I wish we could do everything, don't you?  There are so many fun things to do.  We can't, of course, and it will hurt our family, and yours, if we try to do it all.  So it's decide which good activities will make the cut, and which ones won't.

I canned dill pickles, and sat them next to the fermented dills in our cold room.  I can't wait to compare the two.  Both have to sit for quite some time to cure.  As soon as I get the tomatoes done, I want to take pictures of my cold room with a wall of canned goods for this winter.  The farm harvest may not be that great this year, or at least it's not anticipated to be, but our garden harvest is just blowing me away, and we're just trying to catch it and store it as fast as we can.

I made this recipe of Roma Fresca from some of our fresh garden tomatoes that are just starting to ripen, and it is d.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s.  I highly recommend it.  I can't stop eating it.  It's another fermented food, but tastes like a fresh salsa, (like the kind I was once served in Mexico) not like sauerkraut.  Oh, it's good.

We spent a lot of time climbing ladders, and measuring the barn for new siding, which it desperately needs.  That will be going up next week, right when my parents will be in town.  I love it when they visit.

I had to get 2 fillings at the dentist.  That wasn't fun.  My mouth feels better, though.

Silje is at Bible camp all this week.  We get to pick her up tomorrow.  I miss her, but honestly, it's been nice not having David and her bickering non-stop.  We've been busy, but overall it's been pretty quiet.

I cannot wait for school to start.  I just can't wait.  Not because I'm just so excited to do a million more things with my kids, because that's not it even a little.  I'm excited for routine, and I'm excited for my kids to have a job to do everyday.  They need something to do.  Seriously.  I didn't mean to do as little school this summer as we did.  I really was planning on doing 1-2 days a week of school.  But the garden got crazy, activities got crazy, and I just got swept away by all of it.  So we have some review to do, and we just need to get back in the saddle, so to speak.

Maybe I'm just anxious to get my garden done.  I haven't burnt out from the garden yet, which is good. Normally I have by August.  The only weeding that gets done now is if a big one is in my way as I'm trying to harvest.  Right now there is only time for picking and canning/freezing.  There is not time left for weeding.

Finally, this is my Yarn Along picture I never got to post yesterday on here.  It's just a Tiny Tea Leaves sweater for Ingrid this winter.  There are some things I want to tell you about this yarn and project, and the new wooden needles I'm finally using.  I'll probably be finishing up the sleeves by the time of the next Yarn Along, so I'll save all that information for then.  I know I don't have much time to knit these days, but I need to force myself to sit at least a little, and this with a glass of wine and some pieces of dark chocolate with "Singing in the Rain" playing on the t.v. is pretty much the best way to unwind from a day of canning.

Sigh.  It's good to be back.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Yarn Along

So, I'm going to have to go off of my camera phone for a few days since Ingrid broke my camera card reader…again.  She's Miss Destruction these days, with an innocent smile on her face.  I stay on top of her, and she is learning how to listen, but whenever I ask anyone else in the house to watch her for a few minutes so I could do something like, say, use the bathroom, she ends up destroying something because "they" think she's quiet and happy, and have no idea what a stealth-like ninja she actually is.  Oh, and she can climb up and reach all surfaces in the house now, which makes it more fun.

Also, she learned how to say "Eshooozed!" (excused!) when she wants to get down from her high chair.  It's so cute, she's forgiven of all the things.

As I wrote yesterday, I am wrapping up several knitting projects, and thinking carefully about my next one.  Next on my list was a pair of fingerless mittens for my collection coming out next year.  The details of this one will stay secret, but I'll let out some peeks here and there.  Yesterday I spent my knitting time finally, FINALLY making a choice on what these fingerless mittens will look like.  I bought yarn for them a few months ago, and have been hemming and hawing for awhile between about 4 different stitch patterns for them.  Yesterday I finally made a decision, and that decision changed the yarn I was going to use, because it needs a fine yarn.

You see, I had bought worsted weight yarn, thinking these would be a quick knit, but the stitch patter I picked up will really work better with a smaller weight yarn.  So I'm stealing some yarn that was intended for some socks for the girls for Christmas, and I also found some a bunch of leftover Madelinetosh yarn from the "Madame Phelps Shawl" that might work as well.  Hopefully I can stay within my stash, but there's no guarantees.  I may stop by the yarn shop the next time I'm in the city to make sure this is the best option.  :)

I am still reading The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson, though it's nearly done.  It's been a good read, and one I will probably revisit in a year or so.  Knut, Silje and I just went to se "Les Miserables" on stage this last week, and I've been thinking about picking up that ginormous tome…unabridged just to be crazy.  What a project that would be!  It would be epic.  I'm thinking about it.  You'll know what I choose if for the next 1.5 years you see a picture of the book every week in the Yarn Along.

Linking up with Ginny for the weekly Yarn Along again.  Please continue to keep her and her friend's family in your prayers as they still mourn the loss of a much loved lady.  They have all been on my heart so much, I find my thoughts and prayers on them throughout the day.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Finishing Up

I have multiple knitting projects that are finishing up right now.  My "Lady Pearl Vest" which is knitted up in 2 versions, graded, and now is photographed.  It's a grown up version of my "Little Pearl Vest" and I have made so many of those that I finally needed one (or two) for myself.  There are some modifications made to the pattern due to the fact that most women like more shaping to their garments than babies do, and other things that would just make it more wearable for an adult.

There are still some things to finish up, but they are all little things.  Therefore they will probably take me forever.  Actually, this pattern is scheduled to come out later this month.  I have to at least attempt to give myself deadlines.

I really struggled with this photoshoot.  I wished my sister was here to help me style this piece.  I needed her eyes badly.  I texted her some pictures, and she said she wouldn't change a thing, so I'm just going to go with it.

The photo shoot felt like an awkward reenactment of senior pictures, so I tried to goof it up, and take some pictures with Missy.  Yeah, that didn't work out so well.

Knut suggested I go stand in the corn.  Yup, that's what we farm wives do… go into the corn field and stare deeply into the horizon, wearing fabulous hand knits.

He kept not taking the picture unless I was staring right at the camera and smiling.  I kept telling him to take pictures more naturally.  The other problem with having your husband take pictures is that there are far too many pictures of your butt on the film.  Boys.  I've hired a photographer before and she was good, but I've realized I want more control over the pictures.  I don't want to hand it over to anyone.  I think I'll hire a model again for the next pattern.

Speaking of next patterns, I stayed up until midnight last night, finishing the neck on this beauty.  When you're an inch away from finishing on a huge project you just have to stay up and get it done!  I have been perfecting this pattern for a few months.  Some nights I would just sit and try to think through how exactly the yoke decreases will work within the color work.  I have never put as much thought and sweat into a pattern as this one.  As I cast off the last stitches last night and tried it on (it's blocking now) I nearly cried.  It's so exactly what was in my head, and so exactly perfect that I just can't wait to share it with you all.  This one is not scheduled to come out until October, but maybe I'll get it done in September. Maybe.  

I stole this picture from my instagram account.  This is just a little friendly reminder to follow me there as well for fun stuff!  Oh I can't wait to show you the whole thing!  

Next up is a little knitted accessory project which will be kept mostly secret for my collection coming out next year.  Oh, and I have a cardigan for that collection that still needs sleeves too.  I wish I could say all of this finishing up was calming all the knitting ideas going on in my head, but they still clutter up my thoughts up there.  Oh well, one can hope those ideas will settle eventually and let me sleep.