Sunday, November 10, 2019

Pumpkin Patch

Happy Fall (maybe early winter?), friends! My social media feed was recently filled with pictures of families at pumpkin farms and picking apples in orchards on beautifully sunny days with perfectly colorful maple trees in the background! A celebration of color and festiveness! I was particularly taken by the display at Trader Joe's a few weeks ago. Shortly after, someone posted a photo of a knit pumpkin, and I simply HAD to knit one too.

My amazing friend Carol had a birthday in mid-October, and just decorated her house for Fall beforehand. I knew she would get a kick out of a knit pumpkin. I knit her a pig a few years ago as a Christmas tree ornament, but it's out year-round, so I thought she might want something special for her birthday season as well. It was so adorable that I made a second one for myself.

Carol was delighted, and I kept knitting... I will make a few more to complete our Thanksgiving decorations this year. I have some yellow yarn that I could mix with the green to recreate a Delicata squash, my new favorite squash to eat. 

The pattern I used is Knit Pumpkin by Katrina McNerney. My Ravelry notes are HERE.

For reading this month, I am listening to "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell, and recently finished a dark but worthwhile novel, The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead. It was based on real events, and my take-away is that we have a long road to travel to overcome racism.vI am adding this post to Ginny's monthly Yarn Along HERE. I have already been so inspired by others' projects and book choices; its worth a look! Till next time, enjoy the fall weather and frostiness. 

Monday, October 28, 2019

Good-bye, Sweet Girl

The first official animal at Shady Grove Alpacas, our sweet Great Pyrenees Tenny, succumbed to bone cancer last Wednesday. She loved to snuggle our legs and get all the petting whenever we came to the barn. A visitor meant that it was THE. BEST. DAY. EVER! A gentle giant, she slept most of the day (unless there were gunshots) and barked all night. This first picture took me 15-20 minutes to capture since she was desperate for petting, in spite of getting an above average number of cuddles already. I consider it her version of side-eye!

Every winter she would grow a thick coat and suddenly look extremely shaggy on a snowy day. She had an extreme aversion to entering buildings of any kind, with the exception of the barn. There were two instances where the temperature dipped so low that we were genuinely concerned and took her inside. She was uneasy throughout, and immediately lay down on a pile of snow for a nap upon her return outside! On one special day every summer, her thick winter undercoat would suddenly loosen and come off in huge tufts. While it was easier to remove at that point, it still took days, even weeks, to get all of that fluff off of her.

She loved going for walks. The breed standard for a Great Pyrenees dog is extreme independence, so walks were often an adventure in leash pulling. You had to anticipate what she would be interested in. She loved digging out of the enclosure and going on her own adventures at the creek. She would usually return completely wet and muddy and chill on the front porch, but there were several times where we were out in the neighborhood for untold amounts of time looking for her. Eventually, we had to put her on a long lead on the outside of the barn to keep her safe. 

Here she is checking out an enormous puffball mushroom. Unfortunately, she didn't let me know that they are highly edible and tasty. 

Alas, the season of having a dog may be permanently over for us. It was a really fun time, but if we can get a Suri guard llama or two, we will have more spin-able fiber and no holes to patch under a fence. We miss her bark and her sociability, and will retain great memories of her antics.

Shady Groves Alpacas Great Pyrenees, Tenny
August 23, 2009 - October 23, 2019

Finally, I noticed that it was finally Fall here. The trees are changing colors. With some relief I see farmers harvesting their soy and corn. I was quite surprised to see that this soy field had managed to mature. After a very rainy June, the farmer who works this field wasn't able to plant until the first week of July. I am relieved and thankful that my neighbors can still enjoy a decent harvest in spite of serious set backs this year.

Here's to being thankful, and to many good memories of a fantastic doggy season!

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Bugs and Books: September Yarn-Along

And hello! I am again several days late for the Yarn-Along. Alas, 2019 seems to proceed by leaving me in its wake! Niece #4 celebrated 7 years on the planet on August 26, and I had this little gift up my sleeve:

I found the book at a Lavender Farm in Accident, MD, near Deep Creek Lake, where we annually vacation as an extended family. It takes place near Deep Creek Lake and at the lavender farm. One of the owners is the co-author and signed the book especially for my niece!

I couldn't resist knitting a little bug to go with the book using the pattern, Wee Phil. My notes are on Ravelry here. Besides reading this little picture book, I have been working my way through a number of audio books, focusing on the works of Malcolm Gladwell and Brene Brown. I also caught up with Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg in his "Shortest Way Home" autobiography. As a fellow Indiana resident, I was interested in his viewpoint and experiences. I found the chapter about how he thinks about making governing decisions as a mayor particularly fascinating. Whether or not you agree with his politics, it was an enlightening book that rehashes a lot of Indiana history between 2004 and present.

Enjoy the other knitting and reading treats at Ginny's blog this month. Always a good time! See again soon, I hope!

Monday, July 29, 2019

It's Getting Ridiculous!

The number of large-ish projects that remain unfinished this summer (including lack of blogging and knitting) is getting a little out of hand. Thus I have made a few daily mini-goals for this week's family vacation time. Blogging is going well (twice in two days - woot!) as is some daily progress on this long-unfinished sweater. I've simply made it a goal to knit a few rows while chatting with the relatives.

I've also played the viola, lesson planned, and written a few emails. And in case you are worried about my vacation, I have also kayaked, hiked (saw three bears yesterday), eaten some wonderful meals, and of course had some quality hang out time with the nieces, nephews, and their parents. Now I have to go accomplish some more goals... Till soon!

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Three Sisters

The lovely folks at Baker Seeds in Missouri did it again. They enticed me with interesting vegetable varieties that I just had to try. I've been reading about the Three Sisters for a few years, the system of companion planting corn, beans, and squash the Native Americans used to maximize soil usage. I was nervous about trying to grow corn, but then I ran across Maize Morado, a black corn that is grown in South America. Peruvians make a delicious drink called Chicha Morado with this variety of corn, so I definitely needed to take the plunge. I chose Cherokee Trail of Tears black beans to climb up the corn, and Delicata squash to fill out the understory.

So far there is one corn plant with a tassle and no corn on the stalk. The beans also have not started blooming yet. But it is super cool to see the beans use the corn plants to climb and use as a support.I had to start the corn a few weeks before the beans to make sure the corn could support these climbers. 

At least a few squashes are starting to grow. 

I also planted some green beans that are really thin and delicious. 

The first batch got used for my first 100% locavore dinner of the season! Purple potatoes and a fresh fried egg rounded out a yummy meal.

The squirrels are starting to knock down the apples, but hopefully there will be a few left for a pie when they are actually ripe.


The snapdragons are looking so pretty this summer!


And nothing says you have a mole problem more than finding squash plants in the middle of the lawn. BIG SIGH.... None of my methods to make them go away seem to be working.

Enjoy what is left of summer. One short week, and I will be back at school teaching.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Summer Yarn-Along

As per usual for 2019, the calendar is a few weeks ahead of where I expect it should be. Thus, I am over a week late for the July Yarn-Along at Ginny's. No worries, the projects and reading lists there are fabulous, and I can still sneak my link into the mix. 

Last weekend I took a road trip with my mother to Canada to see a dear high school friend get married. We had an unexpected delay in the form of four hours of waiting on the highway while construction got cleared. So I took the opportunity to work a little on my Amiga cardigan. I am sure to run out of yarn, so I found a delightful yak blend yarn to match my discontinued yarn at a new-to-me local yarn store: Copper Centaur Studios.  The bonus was serendipitously reconnecting with someone from my undergraduate life, who is one of the owners. How cool is that?

Reading is via audio book today. I just finished The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. Whoa! Tear jerker all the way through. It was so good, though. Next up is Der Schimmelreiter by Theodor Storm that I picked up in a used book store in Canada. Looking forward to some delightful 19th century north-German Romantic writing. Join all the other crafters and readers at Ginny's (link in first paragraph).

Till soon, I hope. Keep enjoying summer!

Thursday, June 6, 2019


May 19th was this year's shearing day, and it was lovely to get another "few" pounds of fiber and see the animals emerge sleekly from under the thick winter fluff. It's getting to be time to contemplate getting the fiber processed again. We have four year's worth of fiber in my study, but also lots of yarn left to sell from our first processing. The to-do list is lengthening!

Greta and Moonstar wandering around in their new outfits!

On Memorial Day, The Farmer and I went to a farm just over an hour north of us to look at some boys for sale. We are hoping to get Dark Star a companion, and possibly purchase a stud male to breed to Greta. She is Dark Star's mom.

They had also just gotten sheared and it was interesting to feel the different ages of the animals. They definitely don't stay super soft as they get older. Our animals are also getting a rougher coat as time moves onward. We'll see what the processors say when they work with the older fiber.

Finally, a friend of mine gave me this card last week. It took me a few seconds to catch what was going on, and then I couldn't stop laughing. Still laughing! 

Hope your summer is off to a great start! Till soon!

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Easter Bonnet 

Happy Easter, friends! The day dawned beautiful and very frosty, so I had no choice but to press my newly finished Wurm hat into action as my Easter bonnet. I hope I can retire it until fall after today, because I am excited to start gardening. I had to cover my blooming gooseberries and currants last night to protect them from the frost. This afternoon is gloriously warm and spring-like.

Knitting details -
*Pattern: Wurm (free pattern)
*Yarn: 1.7 skeins of Savage Hart Farm DK weight yarn from Vermont (purchased at the Whipple Tree Yarn store in Woodstock, VT)
*Needles: 6 (brim) and 8 (body)
*Start: March 6, 2019, plane knitting to New Mexico for ASTA conference and back
*Finish: April 15, 2019 - took a little longer as I had to re-order yarn...
*Ravelry link: HERE

A few other knit decorations for the day that I made a few years ago. The Cadbury robins eggs in the candy dish are DARK chocolate, a delightful find!

Somehow I have another five unfinished knitted items in my Ravelry queue, so hopefully I'll be able to show off something else before too long. And share a few early gardening endeavors!

I the meantime, China Cat Sunflower is not really helping my knitting productivity with his naps on my projects! I'll wake him up when he gets less cute... haha!

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Hats... because it's April

Happy Yarn-Along Day! It's April, and basically Spring, but I have been on a tear to knit hats! I think it started with the airplane knitting on the way to a conference. I got a great start on this Wurm hat, and promptly ran out of yarn on the way home. I finally re-ordered some from The Whippletree in Woodstock, VT, because of course the skein was a souvenir. I am eagerly waiting for more!

Last Saturday, after a whole day of rain, we suddenly got two inches of snow that came down fast and furiously. It stuck beautifully, and did nothing if not inspire another hat! I've been using the Lopi spun alpaca from our lovely Dark Star. 

Coincidentally, we had to make a run for hay on Sunday and got this very appropriate U-Haul with which to carry it home! Who knew that prehistoric camels came into Canada to possibly be our alpaca's ancestors?!

I recently already knit an Elizabeth Zimmermann Spiral hat in Dark Star Lopi yarn, but it was too small for an adult. I used the instructions on Pg 96 of The Opinionated Knitter. My cast-on was not very loose, and honestly needed a few more stitches. It turned out pretty well, though the Suri alpaca yarn still loves to drape, in spite of its thickness. More Ravelry notes HERE.


So I set to work on a second hat that would be more comfortable on me. This time I used the instructions for the 5-spiral hat on pg. 94 of The Opinionated Knitter. It feels a little bit big, but I am excited that I could possibly add a tight beanie underneath to insulate it more for windy days. More Ravelry notes HERE.

 And here is the second hat on the model head! Just a TAD looser and larger!

Since it's also my Spring Break, I've been doing a fair amount of hiking and walking. I am obsessed with the Knobstone Trail, and was able to hike another section with a friend last Friday. I love the starkness of the bare trees contrasted with small spring flowers starting to emerge!

My neighbors set their Brahmin bulls out on the pasture while I was out on a walk yesterday. Magnificent animals!

 Hope you are all enjoying springtime. Check out all the other knits and reads at Ginny's Yarn Along HERE!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Eggs, 7.0

It's early March and right on cue: Ta - DA! Heinrich has laid the first egg for the SEVENTH year in a row! We'll see how productive the chickens will be at this advanced age, but for now I am so excited to eat fresh omelets and sandwiches.


Thursday, February 7, 2019

Yarn Along: Finishing Up!

I’ve been looking at my Ravelry account and noting a few long-time projects that really should be finished by now. After pulling out this sample knit that I am calling “Neck Toaster,” I realized that I only needed a few more rows until completion. It was finished less than an hour later... Since my blogger account is refusing to upload photos today, here is the Ravelry link:
The yarn is from our farm, Shady Grove Alpacas, and is Lopi spun with 10% tencil added in. It took 5.7 ounces of yarn from a skein that weighed just over 6 ounces. Our lovely first cria, Dark Star, was kept in full fleece for 21 months, yielding 12 POUNDS of 11 inch long locks that had to be spun Lopi-style. It is a ridiculously rich and heavy fabric! Here is a link to Dark Star’s first shearing day:
Yarn Along day at Ginny’s was yesterday, and I definitely recommend viewing some additional fun craftiness on other blogger’s pages here:
Till next time!

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Awesome Socks!

Or maybe the expression is “Awsome Sauce?” I’ll have to ask my students when we return to school on Tuesday.

Anyway, I am a bit embarrassed to admit that I may have begged my mom for a pair of new socks. Perhaps persuade is a better term... possibly extort... She was knitting another family member these same socks in February. So when she showed up at Thanksgiving knitting the same socks AGAIN for the same person, there may have been protesting and wrangling. 

These socks are all sorts of perfect: orange, green, maroon and full of that “oh so soft new sock” softness. I’m so happy I got a pair, and that my SIL also has fabulous footwear! My mom is the BEST!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Happy Hat & Yarn Along

Happy New Year, friends! Yesterday I had to drop my nephew off at the airport and took just one piece of entertainment: a fresh ball of yarn and knitting needles. He was flying as an unaccompanied minor, which requires the responsible party to wait until the plane is in the air before leaving the airport. Sure enough, the plane was delayed by several hours, allowing me to get most of the hat finished!

  • Pattern: Wurm, with some modifications (due to winging the pattern!)
  • Yarn: A Wing and a Prayer Farm “Thelma and Louise” DK
  • Needles: Size 4 & 6
  • Start date: January 1
  • Finish date: January 2
  • Ravelry notes here:

I love how springy the hat is, making it super warm and insulated. It was my first time knitting with a mohair blend, and I really liked the feel! I hope it doesn’t pill to much because the yarn was already pilling coming off the skein... We’ll see how it holds up.

I got a few biographies and the novel “Dictator” for Christmas. I had to laugh, as my mom had written the tag from both her and my dad (who passed away in 2017 and loved talking about politics). Looking forward to reading a good thriller of Ancient Rome before passing it back to my youngest brother, who originally gifted it to my dad!  The circle of stories...

Please join all the lovely folks at Ginny’s Yarn Along to get your next pattern and book ideas: