Thursday, February 26, 2015

Healing and Trusting

So Emmy fractured her collar bone on Tuesday evening - she fell off our bed backwards and landed on her left shoulder (she is a lefty so this is a bit of an inconvenience for her).   She has a little sling - but it is very painful for her if she moves her arm the wrong way.

We will be adding another patient to our house on Friday as Mike is having a double hernia operation.  From what we have read, he will probably be in quite a bit of pain for a few days after the surgery and then it will be a few weeks before he is back to doing the hefty chores around here.

I am thankful that my health is good, nobody is sick, and I am hopeful that we will all work together as Emmy and Mike heal to make the next couple of weeks the best we possibly can.

To that end, with the winter season still in full swing, I decided to change things up a bit around the house.  I added a little art nook to our dining room the other day and that has sparked some new projects.  Sarah is going through a 50 states coloring book and looking up each bird, painting them and writing out a list of them.  

I am working on letting go of my fear of the children choosing to use computers and have set up a little computer nook for them under the stairway.  Computers have been one of those scarcity issues in our house.  Since the younger ones know that the teenagers use their laptops, they, of course, are intrigued and want to use them as well.  (Oh and I use one too!)  No matter how I set limits, I have only found it to lead to them wanting to use them even more.   I have gone back and forth on the computer issue and now I am working on choosing to trust all around and to  honor our children's choices instead.  Not just let them go and do what they want, but instead learn more about what it is they want to do and why and then explore that together.   Check out this youtube video (note:  some minor language is used that some of you may find inappropriate)

(Oh, do you know of a good BBC series or something similar that would be good to download while I am at the library as we will be having quite a bit of down time over the next couple of weeks?)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Knitting and Reading

I am joining in Hat Along No. 1 at Fringe Association.  It is the Audrey hat by Jessie Roselyn and the pattern is being shared there for free.

I am using Rowan felted tweed  (something I had in my stash) which is a 50% merino, 25% alpaca and 25% viscose.

It will make a nice hat on the not-so-cold days and the pattern is a lovely chevron repeat.  I am using my stitch markers to make the pattern easier to follow - I only have to worry about the 12 stitches between each marker!

Mike and I are reading The Nourishing Homestead by Ben and Penny Hewitt.  It is the kind of book you can keep out by the rocking chair, open up to any section and just read.   I agree with most of their views on nutrition and much of their basic philosophy of why they live the way they do.

I hope the Hewitts don't mind if I share a quote -

"The culture of modern corporatized agriculture has directed us away from a holistic understanding of soil health in much the same way that the culture of consumption has directed us away from skills, self-reliance, and community."

Joining in with Ginny.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

One Moment at a Time

With yet another night of frigid cold (-20 degrees F), I push forward concentrating more on 
the very moment right in front of me.  Spring seems so far in the future I haven't even thought much of the gardens I will plant.
There have been no breaks this winter.  I can't remember the last time we saw a temperature above freezing - usually there is an occasional warmer than usual day to boost your spirits and remind you that spring will come.

Another day of jumping on water buckets to break the ice, bringing in armload after armload of firewood (thank you dear husband), trying to think of another creative idea to do inside, warming up every little while by the wood stove - truthfully, it is tiring at this point.  With Emmy coming down with the flu this morning, Mike won't be able to join Isaac and Nolan on a trip to the Boston area to shovel roofs with my father - there is great money in that right now.  I was afraid being on my own here on the homestead would put me past the breaking point.  I was afraid I would have to tell Emmy too many times that I can't snuggle with her because the wood stove needed tended or the animals needed me, or the next meal needed to be prepared.   I was afraid that I would lose it from being exhausted after having to get up every 2 - 3 hours to put more wood on the fire.  Mike and I are a team and this time of the year, truly depend on each other.   The money would have been a wonderful blessing, but we're not doing this life for the money anyway.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Fierce Convictions

I am reading  Fierce Convictions, about the life of Hannah More.  Hannah More  was passionate about education for women and the poor, reform of morals and manners in high society and low, and especially the abolition of Great Britain's slave trade.  She actually lived her life doing something about these things.  

I read this quote in my devotion this morning by Emily P. Freeman,“Tears are tiny messengers sent from the deepest part of who we are. They whisper – here is where your heart beats strong. This is a hint as to what makes you come alive.”

For me tears flow when I read of orphans or when I think of children in homes where there is no love.   Whenever i have held one of our newborn children, the tears come flowing out as I think of the little babies that are hardly ever held.  I cry at night when Emmy, at three years old, comes into our bed and reaches down to put her hand on my belly - her comfort now that breastfeeding is over.  

What brings tears to your eyes?  
Do you feel moved to do something about it?

We sponsor two children - one in Mexico and one in Malawi, and we work hard on being intentional with our family each day - working on being loving, blessing, and encouraging to one another and others.  Of course we constantly fail but we have the hope of Jesus.

But really, I know there is so much more we could do and I am praying that my eyes will be opened to something, some path, some way - that may in even a small way bring warmth and love into the life of one baby or child that otherwise may not have had even this most basic human need.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A New England Yarn Journey :: Knoll Farm Part 2

I just want to share a little bit more about Knoll Farm with you.

I asked Helen a few more specific questions about the sheep to yarn process at Knoll Farm and the following are her answers: 

"We have 35 ewes at the moment. We graze about 35 acres. We have a professional shearer come twice a year, in May and September, and we do all the skirting and sorting of the wool. We have many colors and patterns of Icelandic sheep so we sort by color as well as quality. 

I do knit, and I love to knit sweaters in worsted or sport weight, but also love the bulky traditional “Lopi” yarn for hats and vests. We always try to have a variety of yarn in stock – some bulky Lopi weight, some 2-ply worsted and some lighter. My favorite wools are the lambswool that we have dehaired for a softer feel, or the ones we blend with alpaca or llama. The black/white blend of lambswool/alpaca that we have in stock now is very lovely knitted up.
We are a bit low on stock at this time of year, but we will be getting more wool in soon. We also love to play around with dyes here at the farm with our white and gray wools."

So, a little bit of an update.  I purchased two skeins, each 4 oz, of her natural cloud yarn with his a double-ply yarn spun right in southern Vermont at Green Mountain Spinnery. 

I already showed you the Plain Vest I knit.

The other skein I dyed using the low impact acid dyes, using the kettle method, sprinkling the dye over the yarn using a moss green color.

So far I knit up these simple children's socks - the pattern is from the little book, A Knitter's Home Companion.  The pattern is called Quick and Easy First Socks and it is truly a simple pattern, great for the beginner knitter wanting to try knitting their first pair of socks.

This is what I have left of the two skeins. 
I am going to make a pair of these boot cuffs next with the green.

This ends our first stop at a New England Sheep Farm.  
So far my gut instincts telling me to search out local and/or small farms to buy my yarn from have been confirmed by this first experience.  

Knowing that our money is being used to support a family making a life, who are committed to caring for their sheep and their land - is worth every penny.  Not to mention the joy it is to knit with this beautiful yarn.

(Honestly, I am longing to try Knoll Farm's lambswool in gray, and may at some point, but will restrain myself and move on to learning about another local shepherd first.)

Thursday, February 5, 2015

A New England Yarn Journey :: Knoll Farm

My first stop on the journey of exploring local yarn is Knoll Farm in Fayson, Vermont.
Peter Forbes and Helen Whybrow  purchased Knoll Farm in 2001.

They began with a flock of sheep; planted gardens and a field of blueberries; revived old apple trees and tired pastures; built a bread oven, workshop, bath house with living roof, and small yurts for outhouses and meeting spaces. They pulled out old barbed wire and re-dug springs, installed solar panels and converted their energy to wood.  They started a learning center, Center for Whole Communities, that is now a nonprofit leadership center for land and people with programs all over the country. 

Knoll Farm raises 100% purebred Icelandic sheep.  They sell their raw fleeces as well as spun.  They spin and dye some by at at their farm in micro-bathes, and the rest they have spun at Green Mountain Spinnery in Vermont or Morningstar Fiber in Ohio, where they specialize in Icelandic, which is a dual-coated fleece with a very long staple.

A little about the Icelandic Sheep Breed -
Very few Icelandic sheep have been cross-bred or exported from Iceland since Viking settlers brought the breed there nearly 1,100 years ago, making Icelandic sheep one of the purest breeds in the world. Renowned for their exceptional fleece (which is marketed in this country as Lopi yarn), and “gourmet” meat, Icelandics are an excellent all-around breed that is becoming increasingly popular around the US.

Icelandics range in color from white to blue-gray to deep brown to black, spotted and mouflon. Other desirable traits include easy births, common multiple births, excellent mothers, highly alert and curious dispositions, fast growth, delicious meat, naturally docked tails, and hardiness. 
For more about Icelandic sheep, visit the Icelandic Sheep Breeders website.

I purchased two skeins of their Cloud Yarn which is a double-ply yarn spun at Green Mountain Spinnery, and comes in 4 oz. skeins (approx 225 yards). Definitely coarser than their lambswool but knits up very well for any garment not worn next to the skin. 

I decided that a Plain Vest, in size 12 months, would work well with this yarn, providing warmth for a baby while not being directly on their skin.  I love the almost delicate look of the natural color and thoroughly enjoyed knitting with it.  I did not find it coarse to the touch but only a little itchy if held to my cheeks.   It is such a joy to think that the yarn comes from a small farm right here in Vermont and that the finished vest will provide warmth for a young child, not to mention will look adorable.

I love the idea of supporting others in their quest to make a life, not just a living - and that is exactly what Helen and Peter are doing at Knoll Farm.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Knitting, Making, Work and Play

I knit Emmy a hat using undyed wool I purchased from Quince and Co quite awhile ago that they were offering at a special price and dyed it using low impact acid dye.

The pattern is the Little Woolens Prairie Grass Hat in the toddler size.

Folding paper from this tutorial.

Abraham figured out that if he unscrewed the handle from the pot cover, it would make a great spinning toy.

Stitching little wool hearts.

Birch drying on our mantle.

Nolan coming in from the cold basement workshop.

Appreciating the beauty of this winter.