Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Simple Little Gnomes


Joining in again today with Ginny's Knit Along to share these simple knit gnomes.
They are actually open on the bottom so can also be used as finger puppets.
Here is the pattern:
Using size 2 or 3  needles and worsted weight yarn, cast on 16 stitches.  Knit back and forth for 18 rows.  (I used size 2 needles to make a nice tight knit so that the gnome will stand up on its own.)
Next switch to the skin color yarn and knit in stockinette stitch, knit 1 row, purl 1 row for the next for 10 rows.  Bind off.
Sew up back of gnome, and then gather around "neck" pull and knot.  Then sew up back of head, stuff and sew around top of head to gather, pull shut and knot.
Knit hat - cast on 16 stitches.  Stockinette stitch for 5 rows (knit, purl, knit, purl, etc) and then starting the 6th row and every knit row, knit the first two stitches together, knit across and then knit the last two stitches together.  Purl the next row. Repeat the knit decrease row until one stitch is left on the needle, leaving a long tail, break the yarn and thread through loop, pull and then use tail to stitch up back of hat and then sew on to gnome's head.

I am still reading the same book as last week, This Life is in Your Hands, by Melissa Coleman and really enjoying it.   It has brought up some things for me to think about - in particular how our family's life has changed from being more conventional/American to working towards escaping the consumeristic lifestyle to now finding somewhere in between as we strive to meet the needs of our growing children while not being hypocritical to our ideals.

I would love it if you would share some pictures of your little gnomes if you knit some.

Warm wishes,
Tonya

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Simple Rustic Branch Under the Sink Cover




We do our best to make do with what we have, can find, or buy second hand.  When we bought our rustic cottage, the two doors under the sink were in very bad condition so I removed them and added some fabric instead.  That was two years ago and the fabric I had chosen now seemed a bit dull.  It was time for a change - to add a little spring inside (because it really is coming).  This yellow calico did the trick.  We use branch hooks and a branch rod (courtesy of our woods) for hanging.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Beauty

The beauty of God's creation - our first real snow storm of the season has left over two feet of snow.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Emmy Love

When we were in the Boston area last weekend, Emmy was able to see some family.  This is my Mom - who I miss so much.   We don't get to see each other nearly as much as we would like.  Moving away from family was the hardest part about making the decision to move to northern Vermont.


This is my brother, Frank.  I met him when he was an exchange student at our high school, he ended up staying in the states and becoming part of our family.  


Back at home enjoying some time with Dad during lunch.


Getting use to being on my back now.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Choosing Technology



The internet has allowed many families to live simply and home-based.  We, for one, use the internet for nearly 75% or more of our sales.  The family here - is making and selling and living together on their simple homestead.  There are many others.

I am just in awe of how fast technology is advancing.  There are so many areas that are just beyond my comprehension at the moment - I just don't have the time to try and keep up on it all.  Mike and I talk often about how much do we need to make our living.  Do we need to do facebook, twitter and such?   I have started on pinterest, but really that is my creative outlet.  I don't think of it as contributing in any way to our income.  While I have a facebook account I have yet to do anything with it and cannot figure out how it might contribute to our business.

Blogging is the one thing I started years ago to share our family's dreams and accomplishments as a way to keep a journal and to just let others know that there is another option.

Am I going to become completely out-of-it if I don't keep up?  Can we continue to make a living with our little etsy shop and blog?

Wendell Berry, last I read, still typed his writing on a manual typewriter.  Not sure if he still does, but if so, he is still making a living without using computers.

We still have dial-up internet.  Our latest conversations have been about whether or not we should get a satellite connection.  Broadband is not available at our rural location yet.  We are asking ourselves if it will increase our income.  Do we need to earn more?  What would we do differently?  Will it save a substantial amount of time or just lead to wasting more time?  Will it instead be more of a distraction?  Right now I go to our local library 2 times a week to keep up on our marketing (checking stats, feedback in our shop and searching for new ideas, checking out other toy and wedding blogs/shops, etc.), keeping up with blog friends, researching homeschooling topics, and making purchases.  I am able to list items in our shop, make blog posts and answer emails just fine with our dial-up at home.  With a higher speed would we all be distracted with all there is on youtube (educational right?), would it be tempting to constantly look things up instead of going to a book (but maybe that is the future and I am just fighting/avoiding the inevitable), would I be overwhelmed with all the options or does this just become part of life and we would all become used to it?  Do I want us to?

So many magazines have gone digital and we cannot download anything with dial-up and I don't even like reading them on my little laptop.  Thank goodness for new publications such as Taproot and for Aubrey's handwritten newsletter.  (I have passed on the names of those of you that had a couple of issues left from Plain and Joyful Living  - please contact me if that is not satisfactory to you.)

While visiting family over the weekend and talking with my aunt I learned what an Android is and now I am starting to understand I-pod, I-pad, etc...  She said something that has also got me thinking.  She said she really just bought the Android to keep up with technology. She already has a laptop but she doesn't want to be 75 (she is now 57) and have a hard time learning anything new in relation to technology.  We don't have any of those little devices, although our sixteen year old son, did buy himself an I-pod recently.  However, he can't use the online option at home as we don't have wireless here.
We don't even have a cell phone yet.

For now, we are at the point of asking ourselves the following questions when considering a new technology -
1.  Is it necessary for us to make our living?
2.  Will it save us a considerable amount of time?
3.  Will it end up being wasteful?  Will it just be junked in a year or two, for example, and end up having to be thrown away.
4.  Is it safe?  I still wonder about all of the waves.  We are blessed to be in a little knoll where even most cell phones don't come in well.  I pray that all of these waves are harmless, but I am not convinced.
5.  Will it bring our family closer together or separate us more?  For example, each person on their own screens.

What do you think?
Has technology made positive or negative contributions to your life or both?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Knitting and Reading again for the Yarn Along

A sweet surprise was waiting for me at my father's house -
a bag of yarn from a reader that later figured out she knew my father (such a small world isn't it?)
So Sarah helped me decide on which granny square pattern to use to make a blanket.  


I am almost done knitting the first side of the Colins Vest.  It looks as though it will be about a 3T or so.
Last week I also finished another hat - I am just loving this simple pattern.

And finally, I have found a book at the library last Wednesday that I am enjoying - This Life Is in You Hands by Melissa Coleman.  She writes about her parents' back-to-the-land living in the 1970s.  Her father is Eliot Coleman, the author of Four Season Harvest.  So far really good - interesting and I am excited about just the little bits I have learned about soil, especially when working with raw land, which is what we are attempting here.

Looking forward to your sharing and consider joining in with Ginny of Small Things for the weekly Yarn Along.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Came Home to...




... the rest of my beautiful family
... feeling overwhelmed - I have such a hard time transitioning back in and not feeling overwhelmed by all that needs to be done (homeschool, business, unpacking, etc..) but I know it is just because I was away
...  thankful for the clean house
...  some completed projects that Mike took on while caring for the other 4 children while we were gone - pruning the apple trees and finishing the ceramic tiles above our sink (I had told my father that we could find a use for his leftover tiles from his kitchen and I am glad we were able to use them.)

Just settling back in and looking forward to our routine to begin tomorrow.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Visiting the City

Thomas, our oldest, is in the midst of the college application process.  He has decided college is the next step for him and he wishes to major in musical theater.

Thomas, my father, and Nolan

Ever since he was just a couple of years old, we have known that performing is one of his gifts.  He has been acting, singing and dancing with various theater groups since he was seven.  Having a large family and a small income, as parents we often have had to make hard decisions about what play he could be involved with - the time, the travel, the expense had to all be weighed with our goals of not being on the go all the time and not taking too much away from the other children.


Yesterday he auditioned at Emerson College in Boston.  Over 800 young people audition in cities scattered throughout the country and just 50 - 60 will receive acceptance letters.


It was exciting to be in Boston - to people watch, to visit with my father and his girlfriend and my two oldest sons.  It is even more exciting to know that Thomas is working towards the next phase of his life while pursuing his passion.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Loving right now....

This beautiful day
The goats roaming the yard
That we still have firewood
Abraham swinging on a swing hung between two trees
Mike working from home  - being here so that he can push him


Abraham's quiet pretend play
For the paper animals and forest his sister cut out
All of the windows that let the outside in
Our home


Our simple rustic kitchen
A mix of the old with the new
Grateful that we can choose
A fresh batch of granola

Warm wishes,
Tonya

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Knitting and Reading again for the Yarn Along

Joining in with Ginny of Small Things to share what I have been knitting and reading this past week -


I have the main body of the doll know and am stuffing with wool now - here is the pattern for as much as I have done to this point -

 If you would like to join along - I am using size 4 needles and worsted weight yarn - a simple natural wool.
Cast on 10 stitches.
Knit into the front and back of each - so there are now 20 stitches.
Purl and then Knit alternating rows (stockinette stitch) until the one leg measures 5 inches long.
Break yarn after finishing a purl row.
On same needle that is holding the first leg, repeat as above for the second leg.
When the second leg measures 5" and you have ended on a purl row -
Next row, knit across all 40 stitches - this will form the body.

Continue knitting in the stockinette stitch for the body for 4 1/4" then decrease for the neck as follows starting on a right side row  - Knit 4, knit 2 together, across the row
Next row - purl
Next row - Knit 6, knit 2 together
Next row - purl
Now increase for the head -
Next row - Knit 1, Increase by Knitting and front and back to the end of the row   - now there are 44 stitches on your needle
I have 3 inches knit so far for the head and am still working straight but will be doing the decreases soon and will share that next.
***New part****
I just knit another 1/4" or so and then started the decreases for the top of the head - Knit 3, knit 2 together, repeat across the row
Next row : purl
Next row:  Knit 2, knit 2 together, repeat across row
Next row: purl
Next row:  Knit 2 together across row
Break yarn, thread into yarn needle and put needle through loops and pull.   You can begin sewing down back of head with right sides together until just past the neck.

With right sides together sew up each side of leg and continue about 1/3 of the way up the back.  Turn body right side out and start stuffing.***



I am reading the new magazines that came in the mail - Living Crafts and Countryside.  Also, working on finalizing our seed order.  We are ordering all heirloom seeds this season and have found a company from Connecticut - Comstock's - that has been in business since 1811.  I believe they were bought by the Baker Seed company a couple of years ago.  This division offers a nice selection for the northeast.

I really need to find a good book to read and am hoping to find something at the library today.  I look forward to checking out what others are reading to make a list and see what I can find at our small library.

Warm wishes,
Tonya

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Special Treats






On Valentines Day the children wake up to find a little note and treat at their seat at the table - Smart Food popcorn for Thomas, Chocolate bars for Nolan and Abraham, Smarties for Isaac, and little heart boxes of chocolate for Abby and Sarah.

My sweetheart left me a bar of organic dark chocolate - my favorite.  Just a bit was delicious with my morning coffee.  Mike also brought me home a beautiful single rose - the natural food store had somebody selling them for a fundraiser.

Much of the normal goings on are planned for today - but in addition, Sarah and I are going to embroider hearts on some fabric for napkins, I am going to bake a chocolate cake with pink and red sprinkles (at Abraham's request), and Mike and I are going to enjoy a quiet dinner (well, we will see how quiet it will be....) after the children are done eating and they head upstairs to watch a movie.

Wishing you a day filled with lots of "I Love Yous".

Warm wishes,
Tonya

Monday, February 13, 2012

Little Hearts


Found this simple pattern here - crocheting up these little hearts is fun - I made a garland with mine but they would also look so cute on a knit hat too.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Re-Evaluating

In the Tsh Oxenreider's book, Organized Simplicity, she talks of the need to come up with your family's purpose statement.  As our family has realized one of our dreams/goals - that of living simply (are we really? - this a work in progress as well) in a rural, affordable location while working, learning, and being together as a family as much as possible - now it seems that it is time to reevaluate where we are  and where we would like to go - both as a family unit and individually.



We have been brainstorming and this mission statement is my favorite -
Our purpose is to serve God, family, friends, and neighbors by utilizing our gifts as much as possible.

And then, when reading through Organized Simplicity some more, I re-read the author's definition of simple living as "living holistically with your life's purpose."  



Isn't it also true that by using your gifts as you serve others, you will ultimately be serving yourself and when you are following God's purpose for your life then you will find joy.

Has your family come up with a Mission Statement or Family's Purpose Statement?


Friday, February 10, 2012

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Knitting the Doll ... continued ...





Here is the first part from yesterday -
 If you would like to join along - I am using size 4 needles and worsted weight yarn - a simple natural wool. 
Cast on 10 stitches. 
Knit into the front and back of each - so there are now 20 stitches. 
Purl and then Knit alternating rows (stockinette stitch) until the one leg measures 5 inches long. 
Break yarn after finishing a purl row.
On same needle that is holding the first leg, repeat as above for the second leg.
When the second leg measures 5" and you have ended on a purl row -
Next row, knit across all 40 stitches - this will form the body. 


***And here is the new part***


Continue knitting in the stockinette stitch for the body for 4 1/4" then decrease for the neck as follows starting on a right side row  - Knit 4, knit 2 together, across the row
Next row - purl
Next row - Knit 6, knit 2 together
Next row - purl
Now increase for the head -
Next row - Knit 1, Increase by Knitting and front and back to the end of the row   - now there are 44 stitches on your needle
I have 3 inches knit so far for the head and am still working straight but will be doing the decreases soon and will share that next.


Warm wishes,
Tonya

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Knitting a Doll and Reading about Simplicity

Finished up knitting a pair of pants for the little doll and have cast on for a larger doll.  If you would like to join along - I am using size 4 needles and worsted weight yarn - a simple natural wool.
Cast on 10 stitches.
Knit into the front and back of each - so there are now 20 stitches.
Purl and then Knit alternating rows (stockinette stitch) until the one leg measures 5 inches long.
Break yarn after finishing a purl row.
On same needle that is holding the first leg, repeat as above for the second leg.
When the second leg measures 5" and you have ended on a purl row -
Next row, knit across all 40 stitches - this will form the body.
That is how far I am right now and will share more within the next few days.

With so many recommendations, I purchased a copy of Organized Simplicity and am truly impressed with its content.  While I have reduced clutter and thoughtfully consider new purchases, there are so many more  areas to consider on the journey of living simply.  I hope to share some of these in future posts.

Glass, Paper, Beans is a book I borrowed from the library yesterday.  It seems as though it will be quite interesting.  A quote from the back of the book, "Glass, Paper, Beans braids the myths, lore, and history of three staples of modern life- coffee, the glass it comes in, and a newspaper - and conjures an unseen world where trade, fetishization, manufacture, and the unknown hands behind that labor converge.  A classic work on the economics of everyday life."

My bedtime read with Sarah is now, The Tale of Despereaux  by Kate DiCamillo - hmm.. we seem to be reading lots of books with mice as the main characters lately.

Joining in with Ginny for the weekly yarn along.

Warm wishes,
Tonya

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Rustic Branch Mug Holder


Mike came up with this after I requested a mug holder.   Just a birch branch with the back side sawed flat to hang against the wall.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Listening to the Super Bowl




With television, we listened to the super bowl at home, safe and sound as we choose not to have television.  Not exactly the outcome most of us had hoped for, although we did have one family member who was very happy.


Warm wishes,
Tonya

Friday, February 3, 2012

Rid Me of Myself



This is a doodle I made during last Sunday's church service.  It has stayed with me all week.   

Through each ordinary day, I constantly need to remind myself of this.  When thoughts of "I" start creeping in, when the laundry pile doesn't seem to be going down even after doing two loads, or the dishes have piled up on the counter after just washing a sink full, or Emmy slept for only 20 minutes - again - I sing out loud - "Lord, rid me of myself..." over and over again - 



these precious gifts He has given me.  

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Knitting and Reading

This weekly rhythm is wonderful to keep me on track of my knitting projects and helps motivate me to finish them before I start another - at least most of the time:)

So I am joining in with Ginny again for the yarn along -


I finished the sweater for the little knit doll and have now cast on for some pants.  Started knitting up another vest, but this time using size 8 needles and worsted weight yarn.  It looks like it should fit a 2 - 3T.
Finally, I am knitting up another hat for a dear blog reader.

While I am still reading Jane Eyre, I have started on a sweet Gladys Taber book, Stillmeadow Daybook and I am reading a biography about Thomas Edison out loud to Abby and Isaac and anyone else within earshot.  I sure wish I had enjoyed learning when I was young as much as I do now - so much fun!  My hope is that our children also grow up with a life long love of learning.

If you have a moment, please share about your handwork projects and what you are reading and consider joining in with the yarn along.

Warm wishes,
Tonya