Monday, June 14, 2021


I think this might be my last COVID-19 post, since I made most of this shawl before being fully vaccinated. I knit surprisingly little during the pandemic, but this project helped me pick up steam again. Introducing the Shady Grove Yarn starring in Slipstravaganza by Stephen West, which was launched as a Mystery Knit A Long in October, 2020. It was my first experience with a Stephen West pattern, and I was not disappointed. It just took me quite a few more months than most other participants!

I once again used fingering weight yarn from our foundation herd animals: Greta (black), Bella (brown), and Moonstar (white). The gray is yak yarn from a local yarn store. The next time I have yarn made, I will get fewer yarn weights and ask for a mix of black and white for a shade of gray. I really wanted to use only farm colors but only had three choices; other yarn weights have less options, in case I want to make something in multiple colors.

My favorite thing about the pattern is the i-cord edges that go around the entire shawl. I-cord is the most appropriate edge for the Shady Grove yarn. The most tricky thing about the pattern is planning the slipped stitches in the row before they need to be slipped. Make sure to make the loops extra long with this yarn, otherwise the rows underneath will pucker.

Upon finishing a very quick blocking of the knit (I laid it out and pinned it in under 7 minutes), we headed out East for a vacation. I managed to not pack enough warm clothes for a trip to the top of Mt. Washington (26*), so it got a little field trip up and down the mountain on the cog train. 

Stay safe out there, and PLEEEEEEASE get your vaccine if you haven't yet. And don't forget to remain kind. Much love to you, friends!

Sunday, June 13, 2021


The COVID school year that felt like it would never end suddenly registered May 21 on the calendar - and POOF - that was that. As per usual, there were a few people I wanted to say thank you to at school, so I knit them some owl washcloths. The owl is our school mascot and the weekly newsletter is called "The Hoot." The title makes me laugh every time I open the newsletter!

Pattern is FREE: Owl Dishcloth by Janelle Schlossman. I used Lilly Sugar-n-Cream cotton and size 7 needles to knit. It was a super quick and satisfying project!

I found some locally-made soaps this year for a nice addition to the gift package.

Here's wishing everyone a restful, healthy summer. Fingers crossed for a normal Fall. 



Saturday, June 12, 2021

Rambling Onward

All farm losses are rough, but this one was especially painful and complicated. We lost our sweet newest herd member, Ramble On Rose, on April 30 after a brief illness, which was probably caused by a parasite carried by local deer. We did not get a necropsy as it would have meant driving two hours one way to drop him off at the Purdue Vet School. 

The poor fellow was unable to stand on April 28. It was damp from massive rain, so I had to blow him dry with a hair dryer in the evening. The vet came on Friday morning, and he seemed to be strong and fighting. She gave him medicine and helped arrange the straw in the barn so he could be even more comfortable. Right before we left the barn, Dark Star was biting and yanking on Ramble's tail. The vet said that was encouragement to get up. After she prepared a weekend's worth of medicine, we returned to the barn for a final vitamin shot, and he was gone. Upon reflection, the vet thought Dark Star had said good-bye with that tail nip. 

We hadn't shorn any of the animals yet, so the next step was to rush off to Farmer's Supply to purchase shears. They weren't cheap... In addition to these activities, my mom was coming to see us for the first time in over 14 months. I was so frustrated that what was supposed to be a long happy hug was tainted by feelings of extreme sadness. But of course having her there was the best thing. Both of us we super calm and matter-of-fact while shearing this amazing animal. The fluff will turn into yarn that will be cherished in a lovely project. I'm not sure I have the confidence to try shearing a live alpaca yet, but we might not need a shear team in a few years.

Finally, we had to clear out an overgrown portion of the garden to make room for a grave. That took about two mornings of hard labor. Mama helped like a champ. We finally got our neighbor to bring his backhoe on Sunday around noon. It was such a relief to put a period on that chapter.

Ramble On Rose loved to hum loudly and inharmoniously, neck wrestle with Dark Star, poop in all sorts of spots that weren't the poop pile, and was inquisitive and friendly to a fault. We enjoyed his energy and spunkiness so much!

Ramble and Dark Star on the pasture, eating instead of fighting, for once!

The Farmer walking Ramble to the barn.

Who doesn't love a good selfie session?!

Rest well, Ramble. You were loved and continue to be missed.

Shady Grove Alpacas: Ramble on Rose - August 9, 2020 to April 30, 2021, age 7

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Weekend of Treats

It was a weekend to write home about: three days, holiday celebration, beautiful weather, delicious food. I started my weekend out with a hike at Westwood Park. There is a nine mile hiking/biking trail around a pretty little lake. Many funny signs warn you about "no exit" so you can plan your turn-around in case you don't think you will make it. It was a great trail with lots of variety and just a little up and down to keep the blood pumping. 

Lots of wildlife was out and about. Besides these nesting Bald Eagles, I saw several varieties of woodpecker, a King Fisher, snapping turtles on a log, and your more common cardinals, jays, sparrows, and robins. Also importantly, there was a team of trail workers removing the invasive honeysuckle.

At school I've been teaching a legion of elementary children how to play Hot Cross Buns on the violin. The Farmer claimed he had never heard of the song (I blame his formative years spent in Panama) and found this classic polka version of the song. Students, teacher, and Farmer all delighted! 

I also got curious as to the history of the song and took a wikipedia deep-dive. And then I had to learn about the pastry, and then I had to make some on the appropriate day. There were plenty of leftovers... I used this recipe  as a base (omitting cranberries), adding cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and candied citron. They were delicious!

For Easter dessert, I found this delicious recipe for strawberry cream. It was super easy and delicious.

The previous week I made the Smitten Kitchen chocolate buckwheat cake, which the cat definitely would have eaten a slice of. It had a very earthy flavor, and almost seemed healthy, haha! And maybe Covid baking is here to stay. 

This is a not-so-funny version of the Easter Bunny who showed up on the deck Easter morning and sent me to the internet for removal strategies. Groundhogs eat 1.5 pounds of fresh food every day, and since I'm unwilling to say good-bye to gardening, this one has to be relocated. I'll keep you posted... 

Wishing everyone a great spring!

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Just... DONE

The year of COVID finished as it began: writing a giant paper that seemed like it was "a good idea at the time." Last year, my school had just closed for a month, the judging I was supposed to do was canceled, and I had the whole weekend to finish writing two book chapters that will be coming out later this spring. This past week was Spring Break, but I used it to write a mammoth paper for a class that I was interested in taking. Both writing assignments were torture and took way too much time, but since their in the rear view mirror now, I am super pleased with myself. ***sigh*** I see a pattern...

In between sentences, I finished knitting the last few inches of another Done by Monday blanket and sewing in the ends. It feels good to have something solid finished as well as turning in that paper!

Pattern: Afghan #10 from Done by Monday, JoAnne Turcotte

Needles: Size 13

Yarn: Handspun by Anne Cohee, 12 skeins, knit holding yarn doubled

Start: July 1, 2017

Finish: March 14, 2021

The blanket was started right before two friends had their wedding reception. (They secretly eloped six months earlier and didn't tell anyone for a few months!!!) They asked for no gifts, but I hope they won't mind getting a late cream-colored blanket for their turquoise couch. It's squishy, warm, and comfortable. 

 Everyone, including me, feels so done with this pandemic. Hold on and stay strong, friends! I'm staying out of reach as much as possible until my second vaccine shot is in my arm and two weeks has passed. I'll be continuing to wear my mask. We can do this! Send me a message if you need some Zoom time to get through another day. Much love and kindness to you!

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Happy Valentine's Day!

Funny thing about this pandemic. Every week seems so like the last week that you find yourself celebrating things that you never considered celebrating before. The continuous state of Groundhog's Day needs a little breaking up. So, Happy Valentine's Day!

I don't think I even shared our very first adult Christmas tree. It was necessary to get some cheer since traveling was completely out of the question this December. I never expected to celebrate in my own house on my own terms. 

We kept it up from November 28 until last weekend, February 6. The tree brought so much joy to all, including the cat! I definitely missed family, but the tree and celebrating at home was phenomenal in its own right. 


A friend sent me a sweet note, reminding me that I should also write more cards with lovely messages to lift up my friends. 

I made these little hearts with THIS pattern and some scraps from a recent project. One heart took about an hour. making these on a assembly line would make the process even faster.

Valentine's Day is not complete without special food. In this case I made quasi-heart-shaped pretzels for lunch. Fresh out of the oven, they were well-received!

The recipe is from the Smitten Kitchen blog, appropriately enough. I used the easy baking soda bath before baking. Caution: the baking soda REALLY bubbles up when you add it to the boiling water. Most of it was on the burner before I could get to the pastry boiled. Plenty left to get the job done, so it worked out fine!

I'll leave you with Bernie meme: still not old! Haha! Although I would have written "I'm s'MITTEN with you!" Hope your days get more lively soon!

Monday, February 1, 2021


Meet my new sweater and friend, Amiga! There is a huge sigh of relief that goes with this finished project. All of the great yarn that my mom loved so much has been used up, and I no longer have to find patterns to match a discontinued brand. You can see the other sweater knit in this yarn HERE

Pattern: Amiga by Mags Kundis (free!)

Yarn: Sachenmayr nomotta (yellow) and Copper Centaur Studios Pegasus (gray)

Needles: size 8 and 9 - very loose knit structure

Start to finish: July 28, 2018-January 10, 2021

While designed to be a light summer sweater in style and yarn choice (cotton + flax), it is surprisingly warm over a turtleneck. It does a fair amount of shedding which is easily removed in the wash. 

It's nice to put a WIP in the finished pile. I'm looking forward to finishing a pair of mittens and a shawl using Shady Grove yarns next. 

Stay cozy! It was a snowy weekend with treacherous roads forecast for Monday's commute. Enjoy the winter! It will be too hot to knit before we now it.