Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Knitting and Reading

I know I've said here many times before that I do not like knitting in the round with double pointed needles... but
I really want to knit socks.
After selling several vests and sweaters recently (meaning I could now justify buying more yarn), I made a trip to our local yarn shop on Saturday.
I saw this yarn, Patons, and bought some size 7 double pointed needles.
Success.  I love how sometimes when at first things seem impossible and frustrating that you just drop it for awhile and then come back and attempt it again, and then it works. 

In addition to visiting the yarn shop, we stopped at the library and I borrowed The Smartest Kids in the World by Amanda Ripley.
This is an interesting book.  It looks at the educational methods and cultures of the top performing countries, of which the US is not one, through the eyes of three exchange students.
I am not so sure, however, of what is being measured, in terms of the exams, really equals how smart one is and from what I have read so far, success seems to be measured in test scores, college admissions, and the ability to find what is considered in one's country to be a "good job." 
I am just getting to the section about Finland and am hoping that their educational methods are a bit less traditional and rigorous than South Korea.

Joining in with Ginny today.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Outside and Inside

There was a fairly thick layer of ice on the pond this morning.

The girls and the young buck were happy to see the sun again today after missing it for several days. 

Inside I have been busy playing with greens and browns.
I finished another simply sweet sweater.  I made an error on the arm size.  Writing patterns
is no easy task let me tell you.  I am not so sure I have the stick-to-it to keep knitting samples and working 
through different sizes.  It really makes me appreciate those that do sell their patterns.  The writers/designers deserve to be paid well.

I have dyed two wool/silk scarves.  One a soft sage and the other a shade of brown.
They lack some originality, however, and I am looking for ideas to embellish them - to make them each 
a bit more artsy.  The fabric is delicate so whatever I add needs to take that into account.  Any ideas?

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Weekend

The cold, drizzle and occasional snows kept us inside most of the weekend.
We are slowing down.  Enjoying cups of tea again.

Lots of knitting.
Thomas and his girlfriend, Sam, are able to drive up to church most Sundays from college.  This past Sunday they both joined in with the youth music worship team.
Sam is a fantastic knitter.  The girls were inspired to join her after lunch.

Emmy is using scissors now so I am finding small bit of paper all over the floors.

More inside time seems to equate finding the cushions more often off the couch and chair than on.

My challenge is to get us outside each day no matter the weather, staying out longer than just long enough to do the animal chores.  I am also working on coming up with some productive inside work we can do to keep our hands busy during these dark days.  So much of this does seem to happen on its own, but sometimes a little encouragement can help to inspire.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Blame Game

Our family isn't exposed to a lot of media.  I listen to NPR a little bit each day and that is primarily where I get any kind of national or international news.  With dial-up
internet, I don't bother reading any online
news publications unless I come across an interesting
link to check out.

Yesterday while listening to NPR, I couldn't 
help but be amazed at how our government
is wasting more time and money by holding a 
hearing to find out who is responsible
for the lousy job that was done with the new health 
care web site.

How does that make things move forward?
I really don't get it.  It is kind of like if one of the children leaves
the front door open in really cold weather and I just stand there
by the open door calling each child 
down one at a time asking if they
were the ones that left it open.  In the 
meantime, the house is just getting
colder and colder.

Wouldn't it be better to problem solve?  When something isn't right, 
first let's figure out a better solution.  Perhaps the people responsible
for making the health care web site simply failed.  So what?  Learn from the mistakes, move
forward and make it right.

I sure don't want my children to worry about doing something challenging because they
might fail or make mistakes.  
That is learning at its best.

The blame game doesn't help anyone.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Our Ordinary Days

(Sarah is learning multiplication and we are using the Waldorf Essentials Math Guide.)

Sometimes I wonder if our life is too simple.  There are times when I truly forget what day of the week it is as one day tends to blend into the next.  I think being home based does that to you as we all work and learn right here on our little homestead.

Each day, at least Monday through Saturday, the routine is very similar.  Breakfast, Dishes, Make Bed, Make and Help Younger Children Dress, Pick Up, Bake Bread and/or Other Goodies, More Dishes, Sweep Floors, Help with Some Learning, Try to Stop a Conflict between Two Children from Escalating, Put in  Load of Laundry, Hang Wet Laundry, Fold Dried Laundry, Make Lunch, Get Emmy Down for a Nap, Help with the Business (Packaging, Wood Burning, Computer Work), Do My Darndest to Get Outside to Clean Animal Homes, Plant, Dig, Weed (whatever the season may dictate), Think About Dinner, Begin to Prepare Dinner, Pick Up the House, Do Nightly Animal Chores.....

(Emily peeling crayons.)

In between all the routine I of course, squeeze in knitting, handwork, and growing food.  The beauty of these activities is that I can actually see the progress.

(Abraham asks to do school work.)

But, truly, there are so many other things that happen, much more meaningful things - like Abraham hugging me and telling me he loves me; or Thomas calling many times from college with his first bad sickness away from home (while I felt badly for him, it was neat to still be called upon); like Isaac's face lighting up when he gets one of his rebuilt laptops to work; or Abby building a "cottontail cottage" from found cardboard for her rabbit.

(We celebrate Mike's 47th birthday this evening when they return home.)

Then, every so often something quite unusual breaks up the daily ordinary.  Yesterday Mike brought half the gang down to eastern Massachusetts.  Isaac went to game 1 of the World Series last night with his Poppa. During their visit, they will all get a rush of a different life filled with big stores, lots of people, traffic and maybe from the point of view of some, excitement.  I am glad we get shots of this from time to time because it really helps me to remember that compared to how others live, our life really isn't very ordinary at all.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Working on a Pattern

Still really enjoying this book.

Also, I am again working on the pattern for a very simple knit sweater.  I like knit patterns that avoid double pointed needles so this is one that will require some sewing up of seams but can be knit without having to pay too much attention.  That is a good thing in our house where counting stitches doesn't work very well with all of the distractions.  I would think there are other knitters out there like myself that prefer really simple patterns.

I do look forward to the day, though, when I do have stretches of time where I can challenge myself with a challenging pattern, but that time isn't now.

This sample is knit with some heavy worsted weight wool that I hand dyed in a mossy color and I am using size 10 circular needles, only to hold all of the stitches but the sweater is knit back and forth in sections until the yoke.  I think it will be about a size 4.

Joining in with Ginny.

Monday, October 21, 2013

This and That

The mornings are getting cooler.  The little ones are the first to wake up will stay near the wood stove while the house warms up.

We were blessed to have some visitors on Friday for lunch.  It was really great to get to know another family that lives intentionally and to meet another blogger in person.   Annie is a sweet gentle soul and I think that we would become closer friends if we lived near one another.  They shared some of their honey and some hand dyed yarn.

Over the weekend I have been knitting and taking notes on a simple sweater pattern.  Still trying to decide if it is something I enjoy doing or not.  It is a bit stressful as I worry that others would not be able to understand it all.  When I am done, perhaps I could ask for some test knitters?

We went to a friend's open house yesterday afternoon.  She designed a really neat house and worked alongside the builders adding all kinds of unique details.

Abe on horse back.

Wishing you a day full of blessings,

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Working Outside till Dark

Yesterday I planted garlic.  My homesteading friend told me that she always plants garlic on the 15th of October so I was only off by one day.

The air was warmer than usual and the light beautiful and after dinner I returned outside shoveling and dumping wheelbarrows of compost until the last light left feeling full and complete.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Knitting and Reading

Still working on the ripple knit blanket and my granny squares which I hope will become a blanket as well.
I am looking, though, for a new pattern to try, something that isn't a long term commitment like the blankets.

I am reading a great book - Small Feet, Big Land by Erin McKittrick, recommended by Renee.
Erin and her husband are quite remarkable as they go on excursions into the wilds of Alaska with baby and toddler in tow.  They call home a somewhat remote homestead in Alaska where they work to fish, gather and grow much of their own food and live lightly.

Here is an excerpt - 
"My lack of a shower and a toilet seemed to me to be a calculated and perfectly sensible trade-off between convenience and freedom.  Freedom to stay home with a kid or to be off adventuring with him for months at a time.  Freedom to work a lot or not work much at all.  Freedom to work for free or work on my own schedule on the work I feel is important at the moment.
We live on the doorstep of wilderness, with a million-dollar view, space for a garden, a close-knit community, a cheap and debt-free lifestyle, and a schedule nearly entirely of our own making.  Could I have all that and all the conveniences of urban life?  Maybe, with enough money.  But what would I give up to earn it?"

Joining in with Ginny.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Bit and Pieces from the Last Few Days

Enjoying the beautiful purple wild asters.

Working on some ideas for Christmas gifts.

Finished another Plain Vest for my shop.

The weather has been just amazing for so long now.  What a gift.

I love the little dangling feet in this picture.

This is Polly, the meat bird, that Sarah brought home to rescue from our friend's flock of 50 chicks.
She is huge now!  We are not sure what we will do with her this winter because when we put her with the layers they beat her up terribly.  

At just 2 years old, Emmy pretty much shadows me most of the day.  So when I make bread dough, as I add the ingredients, I give her her own bowl and spoon and let her make her own using just a small amount of the flours, water, salt and oil.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Maggie Rabbit Vest Pattern and Reading

I was playing around the Plain Vest and came up with a quick-to-knit vest for Maggie Rabbit that I made from a kit for Emmy for her 2nd birthday.
Here is the pattern-
With a heavy worsted or light bulky, and size 10 needles, cast on 40 stitches.
Knit 6 rows (garter stitch)
Next row:  Knit first 5 stitches, purl to last 5 stitches, Knit last 5 stitches
Next row:  knit across
Repeat above 2 rows until piece measures about 3 1/2".
Next row:  (buttonhole row) K2, YO, K2tog, knit across
Next row and remaining rows - knit all in garter stitch
Next row:  Knit 9 stitches, BO 3 stitches, Knit 16 stitches, BO 3 stitches, Knit 9 stitches
Next row:  Knit until arm opening, Make 8 new stitches, knit until next arm opening, make 8 new stitches, knit until end
Next row:  knit
Decrease row:  *Knit 3, k2tog *, repeat across
Knit 2 rows.
Decrease row:  *Knit 3, k2tog*, repeat across
Button Hole row:  K2, YO, K2tog, Knit across
Knit 2 rows

I have been enjoying this farming blog and bought their self-published book.  It is a bit about wine, but really it is about a journey toward organic farming.

Joining with Ginny today.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


After reading this and then reading some essays from  The Bill McKibben Reader, that I found at a church rummage sale recently, I have been thinking more about why our family makes the choices we do.  
In Bill McKibben's essay, Consuming Nature, he points out that humans consider themselves to be the center of the universe and that consumerism is mostly about filling the "it's all about me" desire with very little thought about the consequences.

But on the flip side he brings up the point that those of us that have chosen to live more on the outside of this societal norm may also be filling ourselves with a similar kind of "this makes me feel good about myself".   You know like - "You wouldn't believe what it was like doing the morning chores in negative 30 degree weather" or "We had a home grown meal tonight - quiche with eggs from the chickens and veggies from the garden."

 Bill McKibben concludes, though, that living the latter is, of course, better for our planet.

I think, though, that there is something much deeper about choosing less and being more connected to our food, our heat source in the winter, and to each other (our family).    I find an inner peace living this lifestyle and will keep fighting off the never ending temptations of more.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Getting into a Rhythm

I am working on creating a weekly rhythm in our home, especially for the younger ones and myself.

So far we have been good about Monday being Baking Day
Tuesday is Modeling Day.

Wednesday is supposed to be Painting Day, Thursday, Handwork Day, and Friday, Cleaning Day.

I am very good at starting out the week well and then somehow Wednesday and Thursday don't always happen as planned but I am getting there.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Yarn Along - Knitting Another Vest and Reading a Good Book

Still working on a row here and there on the blanket that I shared last week.

So as not to get bored, I am working on using up yarn I have on hand and knit up a beanie hat using a simple pattern from Vintage Knits for Modern Babies.  I added a wool felt heart applique.

Also, using Peace Fleece yarn I had in my yarn basket, I cast on for a size 3T Plain Vest.

I am reading Love Does by Bob Goff and am enjoying it very much.  It is really about how God uses the everyday, including our very flawed selves, in very extraordinary ways and how sometimes we need to be persistent and not decide that a path isn't the right one just because there are challenges along the way.  The author reflects on his own life which included the time he was denied admittance to every law school he applied to, but was determined to get into one school and sat on a bench outside the Dean's office for days.  Every time the Dean walked by he would tell the Dean that all he had to do was tell him to "go buy his books".  Eventually the Dean said those words.

Joining in with Ginny.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Money as a Gift When It's Earned Doing What You Enjoy

Isaac went outside with his digital camera today and took some gorgeous photos.
My skills as a photographer are nearly non existent and I use a pretty cheap digital camera for our business so 
I asked him if he would like to be our business photographer and I handed him two products.  
He asked me where he should take them and I asked him to decide.

When he came back inside and showed me the photos which I was more than happy with and handed him two dollars his response was, "wow, really?"

Now our family probably has a convoluted sense of money.  $20.00 to us is a lot.  We still make less than what Mike was making over 15 years ago when he was on his career track.  

 I didn't expect that $2.00 would make a fifteen year old happy.  

 The real message, though, that I wanted him to get was that when you are engaged in something you enjoy doing and get paid for it, then it doesn't seem like work.  Wouldn't that be a great way to live?