Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ribby Ruffley Cowl Experiment

I fell in love with some Berroco Boboli yarn at the Orchardside Yarn Shop in Virginia on vacation last summer. However, I was too cheap (and busy) to invest in the necessary 3 skeins for the short-sleeve T I was drooling over. So instead I experimented with a little one-skein improvised cowl pattern starting in rib and then finishing with a little ruffle.
 It looks a little silly with no neck inside! More like a volcano or artistic vase. :-)

I made the Ruffle using THIS tutorial. 
Wearing it turns out to be fun with options.

Plain put it on and go look.
Folded down neck for added warmth on a windy day.
Folded look under a jacket in the cold.
The muffler; or is that a spy film I should be auditioning for?

Finally, I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year! Who would have thought that 2014 could get here so quickly? For me, 2013 surely had some severe tribulations, but I did enjoy the second half much more and am gratefully counting my blessings. The BEST to all of you! Till next year and next time... :-)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Yarn Forest

This  exciting simple pattern inspired me to attempt to knit an Advent calendar's worth of little trees. Unfortunately, time ran out and I only managed to finish 18. Perhaps I will finish it for next year. And the following year 24 lucky friends will get these as wine bottle toppers. In the mean time, I will just enjoy arranging and rearranging my little forest.  Cheers!

Day 3

Day 5

Day 6: St Nicholas Day!

18 trees, you get the idea...

St. Nicholas could use a beard and a real face...

Bead ornament tree topper

Santa is hiking through the woods.

Gnome's - eye view of the forest

Ariel cut-away; stay tuned...

Thursday, December 26, 2013

And Don't Forget to Wash Behind Your Ears...

A few special children in my life needed a little something to open for Christmas this year, so I decided to use up some impulse-purchase cotton yarn to knit washcloths. Add some novelty soaps from the dollar stocking stuffer bin at Walgreens and, violá, a useful and fun gift to keep them clean and smelling nice! The kids who got the tropical fish in a bag were especially fascinated by the idea of having to "free the fish" by bathing. Ha! 

One cloth was entirely garter stitch, while the other six had squares of alternating knit and purl squares with garter stitch borders. I used three skeins of Lily Sugar 'n Cream cotton yarn to make seven total washcloths.

Merry Christmas and Happy Winter Festivities! Take a warm bath and enjoy!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Best Mother-In-Law Award

Stereotypes aside, making your mother-in-law happy should be a priority for any married person. Fortunately it is an easy task for me, as mine is 110% awesome, welcoming, and a great friend! 
Enjoying the company of amazing in-laws who adore hand-knit products is a particular pleasure of mine, which made knitting a sweater for my mother in law a great joy. She has been "in the sweater queue" for several years and this resulting Lamb's Lace Cardi by Christina Wall is the happy result. The wish for this pattern was inspired by the Hey Teach sweater I knit myself a few years ago. Lamb's Lace was so much easier to execute as a top-down raglan pattern and a relatively quick knit for those of your looking for a great pattern.

 I ended up crocheting the front together due to running out of yarn twice AND forgetting to set a buttonhole. The awesome Edelweiss button (found at JoAnn Fabrics) is just sewn on top as a finishing touch.
The sweater fit the recipient perfectly, thanks to a head start on knitting on a family vacation and then plenty of patience as the August birthday deadline came and went with the panic of running out of yarn and finding that perfect fit. I am glad I waited to finish it until this Thanksgiving holiday. Working out the finishing details together was a definite process not to be attempted long distance.
Three cheers for great family! 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Coming Up For Air

It's been a crazy few weeks, so today I took my camera outside to see if I could relax for a few minutes. In times of over-scheduled days, I miss the garden most. It's so peaceful out there, and fortunately also self-sufficient. Ripening fruits were waiting for me at every turn. As you can see, I worked on the tomatoes by putting them away as sauce. There is one more batch of sauce waiting to be put into jars. Let the fall eating commence! There may or may not be much of a Fall/Winter greens garden this year. Seeds I planted in August came up and went crazy while it was hot again this month. The rest of the seeds just went in today... Let's see if the weather holds.
Butternut squash

One of a dozen

Acorn squash

Ever bearing strawberries 

Mmm... Tomato sauce
Those of you waiting for knitting have to wait again... I ran out of yarn on my current project and am pondering the right way to finish. Till next time!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Bountiful Garden

The summer is coming to a spectacular close. The mostly cool days have given way to an extra hot and muggy week, which the peppers and tomatoes enjoyed for the ripening process. I am also excited about the abundance of squash that suddenly appeared, especially since I did not put out seeds until the 2nd week of June. The rabbit eating my beans finally got a stomachache and left, giving me lots of beans to freeze for winter eating. And just in case I get a stomachache too, I will be making my own chamomile tea. Not pictured are massive amounts of cucumber, herbs, some buckwheat, new greens, broccoli and all of my finds at the farmers market. Here's to fresh eating... mmmmm!!!
Little salad peppers

Tomato heaven!

Chamomile for tea.

Butternut squash

Acorn squash

5 pounds of green beans

Monday, July 15, 2013

Life Happens, and It's All Good!

A ridiculous amount of life happened between early June and the present, and it has left me short of breath and unmotivated to talk about every little thing on the blog. So let's recap the big events, and move forward with important projects, like knitting, in greater depth later.

First of all, I celebrated a Landmark Birthday, for which my mother and I baked a total of nine cakes. There was a very random approach to invitations, but the turnout was good and about half of the cake was eaten. The rest lives in the freezer and we are slowly nibbling our way through it.
From right front, counterclockwise: Mulberry Jam Cake with pecans, Traditional Family Birthday Bundt Cake, Sachertorte, Streusel Cake, Waves of the Danube, English Cake, Egg-Heavy Cake, Mulberry Jam Cake w/o nuts, Hazelnut Macaroon Torte.
 Gardening has been late but steady. I did get a head start on potatoes and onions, and we have had several meals with our own potatoes. So delicious!
First potatoes, mid-June!

Young onions

Getting ready for harvesting

Spindly tomato starts...

Become this WALL of tomato plants. Note to self: don't plant so close together next time, no matter how tiny.
Bean explosion, but no edibles yet.
New project: Buckwheat!
In between feasting on sweet baked goods and putting in a garden, I spent an absurd number of vacation hours at school, cleaning out my room. The first impulse was due to the custodians threatening to throw everything not cleared off surfaces or still lying on the floor into the trash. Then I applied for a new job at a local high school. Then I got offered the job, and then the clean out became even more necessary. I did not realize how much stuff I took down there... It's time to toss some things in earnest. And move into my new office!

In the middle of job interviews, we went on a scheduled Landmark Birthday Trip to Lexington, VA, where we rented a cabin just outside of town and then enjoyed driving and hiking in the landscapes, sightseeing, local farms and breweries, and excellent restaurant dining.

We learned about polyface farming techniques at Broadview Ranch. The farmers fence their cows and pigs into really small fenced spaces, and move them almost daily. Then they bring in the chickens behind them. The chickens scratch the manure which spreads it for fertilizing, and also eat the bugs that inhabit the cow piles.
"Coop-estoga wagon" houses 175 chickens!
 Yarn stores were located, visited, and lightened of merchandise...

A delightful view from the Blue Ridge Parkway.

This is the bell tower of the Robert E. Lee chapel, which is on the campus of Washington & Lee University in Lexington. I had no idea that he was the president of this college for many years after the Civil War ended. His final resting place is in this chapel.

A must-eat location, The Red Hen prides itself on its locally sourced food. We ate here twice and it was well worth it. Everything was fresh and in season. We did chuckle about the "local" cheese plate. Its contents were purchased at a local shop, which basically got cheeses shipped to it from the entire world. I guess being a locavore has its limits.

We took the tour of Stonewall Jackson's house, but I was particularly enamored by his gardens. Someone took a great deal of time and effort to re-establish what was grown there and label everything in great detail.

The Jackson's had COLD FRAMES!!! These are newly built, of course.
 After our week in Lexington, we met my husband's family at Deep Creek Lake in Maryland, for our traditional family reunion vacation. Several nieces and nephews "took some lessons" with Auntie E on the violin. They performed the D-A-D song, the Ant Song, and Mississippi Hot Dog Rhythm with the bow at a very informal concert the night before we left. Nothing is more wonderful than sharing music with young family members!

And finally, today is a big day on the farm. Cassidy turns ONE already! She is a beautiful animal and so full of love and curiosity. Today she just followed me around the pen like a dog while I was taking pictures.
Happy Birthday Cassidy!

 A little while after I crouched down to her level, she just sat down next to me and let me pet her for a good 15 minutes. These were some of the resulting pictures:
Snuggle bug

Silly friends!
As I mentioned earlier, there is important knitting content in production. I will not clutter this post up any more, and leave you to wonder about it until I get another opportunity to post.

Till then, Happy Summer!