Monday, December 31, 2018

Little Oak Sweater 

One gift I was very excited about was for my niece #7. Her mom gifted me the Coastal Knits pattern book a few years back, indicating that the Gnarled Oak sweater made her think of me. I found a small version of the pattern and thought it might be a fun gift for her daughter.

  • Pattern: Little Oak by Alana Dakos
  • Yarn: Lion Brand Wool-Ease Solids, Heathers, and Twists in colorway forest green 
  • Needles: size 5 & 6
  • Start date: October 28
  • End date: December 25

I did not have long stretches of knitting time, so it took me a little longer than I planned. I also dragged my feet for a few weeks when I had to knit the leaf tips. The directions were not very clear/accurate. I knit the neck of the sweater in a rib pattern instead of as stated to make it a little longer and close the neckline more. Since the yarn was so much thicker than recommended, I knit the smallest size which gave me a 4T size according to the pattern dimensions. This child is two, and it happens to fit just right, so that’s pretty lucky! Finally, I forgot to buy buttons, but luckily my stash still had a few decent choices. Apparently my niece likes the big buttons best - haha! I would definitely knit this sweater again sometime!

Saturday, December 29, 2018


Chanukah and Christmas have come and gone, (with exception of the 7 remaining Christmas days), but of course the knitting is just now getting completed. At the very last minute I decided to knit my sister-in-law some mitts. I had one finished for our gift exchange on December 26, and managed to knit the second one by last night.

  • Pattern: Wheaten Fingerless Mitts by Anne Hanson
  • Start date: December 24 at 6:00 am
  • End date: December 28 at 6:00 pm
  • Yarn: 2016 Shady Grove Alpacas Sport in colorway Dark Star with 10% tencil, 1.7 oz or just under one skein 
  • Needles: size 2 and 3
  • For: Kate

This was another wonderful pattern, very easy and so pretty and rewarding. The Dark Star sport yarn is 90% alpaca and 10% tencil, a combination that I seem to be less allergic to than regular 100% alpaca. I might try this yarn in a project that is for me, just to test the theory... 🥰 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Winter Accessory Challenge

The other day, I was organizing my winter accessory storage. Seeing every item laid out on my bar made me realize that I put so little effort into truly wearing them regularly. So I decided to challenge myself to wear something, preferably several coordinated knits, daily. I’ve only had a few days of non-compliance so far. But I also see a deficit in mittens and might need a warmer white hat to match all those fun shawls and cowls.

Hey, that sounds like an excuse to knit! See you all in a while...

Saturday, December 1, 2018

For Sale: Luxury Alpaca Yarns

Shady Grove Alpacas hit the craft show circuit this weekend! We displayed our yarn and sample knits at the Minnetrista Luminaria Walk last night and tonight. Lots of fun people to talk to, and lots of people who love alpacas walked through. There was one lady who was trying to get her husband to start a farm. (He was in vet school.) Another has stayed at a B & B on a working alpaca farm. All ears on that conversation: my retirement dream plan...

The Farmer in all his glory helped man the booth for several hours while I was busy with a gig. I have a few ideas for display improvement, but we did sell some skeins of yarn, so I’d call that a success!

Happy Knitting to our new customers!


Thursday, November 15, 2018

Frozen Turkey

Who would have guessed that we would have a day off from school before Thanksgiving? But here we are, enjoying the beauty of an ice storm outside.

Our turkeys are less than a week from becoming a delicious meal, but enjoying their best life eating the icicles off of their cage.

Everything looks so pretty encased in a lovely sheet of clear, glassy ice.

The last time we raised turkeys, we had a snow storm right before the holidays. Read about it here.

The chicken coop also looks festive with icicles. I had to buy eggs for the first time today, so I’m already looking forward to the return of warm weather for renewed laying potential. Although I am not complaining about wearing lots of warm hand knits these days!

Hope everyone is surviving the weather in your part of the world. Stay warm and cozy!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

New Hobby: Acorn Adventures 

Last summer at Deep Creek Lake, I took my five-year-old niece on a little guided nature walk. The guide paper pointed out several oak trees, white and red varieties. It also mentioned that especially the white oak acorns were an important source of carbohydrates for Native Americans. Whoa! This information needed additional investigation!

Sure enough, the Internet (click on link) expanded my knowledge nicely. First, one has to leach the acorns to get rid of the bitter tannins. I used the cold leaching method, which takes several days. After cracking the shells off the acorns and cutting out any bad spots, I ground the nuts in a food processor with a little bit of water. Make sure not to use too much water, as it makes a mess. Also makes sure to grind the acorns as small as possible. The bigger chunks of acorn still had some bitterness after I dried the flour (picture above). I sorted quite a few of them out before grinding but the flavor was still a tiny bit bitter.

I made this acorn cake. It is delicious and was a great treat at the end of The Farmer’s birthday celebration yesterday evening!
Is anyone else feeling squirrel-y?! I’m ready to forage for more acorns!

Monday, October 8, 2018

Updates Available 

My phone recently reminded me that I needed to update it. It seems like a good idea all around my life. This Fall has gotten a little out of hand. (It begs the question of which Fall HASN'T gotten out of hand in recent years, but I digress...) Here are a few moments from around the farm:

China Cat Sunflower has a new favorite perch on the back of the couch. Not seen: drooling over my shoulder into my cereal bowl. Just kidding! But he does like to investigate any cuisine that might be consumed over one's shoulder. Wishful thinking, cat!

Thanks and Giving are cheerfully eating us out of house and home. They look rather large, but I hope they will continue to get bigger as the days to Thanksgiving grow closer.

Below, we have alpacas chewing lots of lush, freshly rained upon grass this October. I love Moonstar's funny face in this picture!

While the sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, tomatoes, squash, and green beans have all died back and been ripped out, (empty bed above yearning for some carrot seeds and winter greens) the peppers think that October is a great time to ripen. I suspect that our alpaca poo fertilizer was a bit rich. They like to make too much foliage and no fruit when fed too well. Glad they are coming to their senses!

A few snapdragons are enjoying the late summer heat. It was mostly too hot along this wall this year. The flowers were truly underwhelming.

A friend came by to visit. The alpacas and Tenny were so happy to have a new person they could pester for food and petting.

That's a snapshot of events around here. Behind the scenes of this blog, there might be a lot of music prep, test grading, concertizing, etc. Till next time, may the weather cool down enough for you to start enjoying your woolly clothes!

Thursday, August 2, 2018


I finally cast on the Amiga pattern after many years of waffling. The raglan style pattern is gratifying and mindless, and I seem to have chosen the right size for my gauge with weird yarn. My current fear is running out of this discontinued yarn, but hopefully I'll be able to find something compatible. It's knitting up nicely, though surprisingly slowly as the cotton/linen yarn is very slippery on my metal needles. All fingers crossed for success!

My current read is Sophie's Choice by William Styron. The meandering writing style is a commitment, and the subject matter is not bright, but I am enjoying the book nonetheless. Now that school is almost going to start again, it might be a while before I finish this one...

It's one day past Yarn Along Day at Ginny's, but still worth linking up and having a look! Do enjoy everyone's craftiness. Till next time!

Friday, July 27, 2018

Cowl Obsession 

My vacation yarn knit up very quickly in this easy-to-memorize cowl pattern. Somehow I was always picking it up, and in a few days, I was finished! Somehow my souvenir yarns are mostly becoming cowls. Look HERE for another example. Below is the newest cowl.

I used the pattern loosely to serve the color changes of the yarn. Instead of making an eyelet row every 10 rows, I waited until a new color revealed itself fully. Most of the knit rows contain 13 or 14 rows. I knit until I mostly ran out of yarn. A very tiny bit remained.

The pattern is Stacked Eyelet Cowl by Ami Madison in Sour Cherries. And the yarn is by Spincycle in Sport weight with color way "rusted rainbow," which I find quite apt!

Here's how the cowl wears in real life, a little more slouchy, or pulled up as if there are gale force winds.

While I am not quite ready for summer to be over, school to start, or gardening to end, I am looking forward to cooler weather so I can wear this treat!

Saturday, July 21, 2018

New Seattle Yarn!

Vacation time = time to buy some souvenir yarn. Seattle did not disappoint with its So Much Yarn shop really close to the Pike Market, a true tourist destination. This beauty is by Spincycle Yarns, local to Washington State, in color way "rusted rainbow." I have to confess to being a little obsessed; it is knitting up like a dream into a lovely cowl. More on that later…

We also visited the lovely Chihuly Museum and Garden. It was an unbelievable splash of color, light, and creativity. The museum tour available straight to your phone was very enlightening. Dale Chihuly spoke about his creative process and gave background on each piece.

In the Garden under the Space Needle.

A rowboat filled with glass balls, inspired by an installation in Norway where he would throw glass balls into the water and some teenagers would fish them out of the water for him to repeat the process.

A small part of a glass garden inspired by the gardening his mother used to do while he was growing up.

The Pike Place Public Market, located on the ocean and offering so many delights: fresh flowers, anything you might want to eat, raw or processed, bake shops, craft booths, etc. We spent a lot of time looking around here!

The flowers! I wanted ALL of the bouquets for placing around my house!

So many delicious fruits to sample. This vendor caught my eye with all three colors of currants, blackberries, and Rainier cherries in a pre-made nosh cup ready for eating. I did not partake, but was so tempted...

Beautiful displays of chili and garlic. They look a little bit like Chihuly chandeliers!

I want my next cheese plate to feature every one of each of these. WOW! I would eat way too much if I lived close by.

So many colors of veggies!

Tourist enjoying the Market!!

The arrival hall in Seattle for the Amtrak train. Allow me to recommend the ride from Vancouver to Seattle. Great ocean views right on the water most of the time.

And here we are: a couple of SHEEP standing in front of the original Starbucks store taking a selfie like everyone else! (Can't have a knitting blog without some sort of sheep feature!)

Hope you are enjoying summer!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Peepers 2.0

We got a new chicken house from a neighbor a few weeks ago (crazy story of getting it to the house), and felt compelled to get some new birds.

Introducing Thanks and Giving, the new turkey chicks.

They are adorable, with the softest, highest pitch peeps you can imagine. So cute!

Yesterday was the first day they were allowed to be outside. They sat in one place for nearly two hours before they started to move around. I think they enjoyed themselves once they got over their skittishness. Here's looking forward to a summer of fun bird watching!

Friday, June 8, 2018

Camelid Collection 

End-of-year thank you notes and gifts made their way to my desk the last few weeks.

There were quite a few handmade alpaca cards and a llama drinking bottle in the mix. So thoughtful of my students to remember my passion for these animals and so polite to write heartfelt messages! And a good reminder to me that creating and writing notes of appreciation completely make someone’s day. I am starting my summer with that lesson and returning some personal emails. Letters to follow!
Happy Writing!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Washcloth Factory

It’s Yarn Along Day! Check other crafty goodness out here: 

Let’s start with the reading, which was featured in January as well. I am actually going to through-hike the 58-mile-long Knobstone Trail this week! Just a little reading to brush up on the details before I leave early tomorrow morning. I am beyond excited!!! Woohoo!

I’ve been wanting some mindless knitting and needing some quick end-of-school thank you gifts for the secretaries. Washcloths to the rescue. Now I can’t stop, though, so if you know someone who needs a washcloth, message me!

This is the little gift combo I came up with for some important secretaries: reuse cute pails that a student gifted me cookies in with a handmade washcloth, some organic handcrafted soap, and a thank you note.

Happy Summer and enjoy your crafting!