:12/30:

This past week we have hunkered down and avoided going outside if at all possible.

Yes, I am getting a bit of cabin fever, but at lease I am hunkered down in my own home.

My heart is just hurting for all my fellow Californians who have lost their homes, loved ones, workplaces, businesses, pets, and lives to the fires.

I have avoided going to the news sites to read anything or see any video about the fires. The one time I did so was to be greeted by the grizzly image of a dead deer.

However, I have broken my social media ban to check on people I know. I have quietly gone on Instagram and Twitter to make sure they are OK. Unfortunately, some of those people have lost everything.

Around the homestead, we have let any outside work go undone. We can rake leaves and pick up chestnuts later. The garden won’t suffer any for being mulched a couple of weeks after we had planned. Our lungs are much more important to us. The only real outside time we spent was doctoring one of our chickens. Chewy got attacked by some sort of canine, but Helios and Sol, our roosters fended the predator off and herded the all the girls back to the barn.

I am taking the time to knit like crazy on D’s Chicane sweater. I bought the yarn for him back when B was a few weeks old, so it’s….thirteen years past due. Thanks to the smoke, I have only half a sleeve left, and then I can wet block all the pieces and sew it together.Then it’s just a matter of sewing on the zipper. It can’t be that hard, right?

I’m also taking advantage of the enforced seclusion to put together a curriculum of sorts. No, not for the kids. This one is for me. I went into the garage and dug through our still-packed book boxes to get all the homesteading books I have bought over the years. There are many! Most of them I have read or leafed through, but this winter I am really going to study them.

This is exactly what I need to get me through my long cold winter days: knitting, books and a warm cuppa coffee/tea/apple cider/mulled wine….mmmmm, mulled wine. A kitten sleeping on my lap doesn’t hurt.

 

:10/30:

img_0761img_0762img_0764img_0763img_0766img_0765

Hiding from the Camp Fire smoke has proved to be productive. On Friday I was able to pick up another cabinet (also free!), this time with a bookcase hutch. It proved to be perfect for organizing my modest yarn stash and crafting books. It was also the impetus I needed to get my spinning fiber and equipment put away in the other cabinet I have out in the living room. The best part was I got to get out the sewing machine I bought years ago and never use. I keep telling myself I’m going to learn to sew. It hasn’t happened yet. Now that the sewing machine isn’t taped up in a box I may actually do it.

:finally fall:

img_0435img_0450img_0438img_0490img_0492img_0493img_0422

Fall is my absolutely, hands-down favorite season of the year!

This weekend I had a perpetual grin on my face because knitting season has arrived!

We are settling in to our little homestead, but when I say that it’s not the kind of settling in where there is a respite from doing.

Oh, no.

Not. At. All.

It’s more about us starting to find our footing in the rhythm of work needed to make this property into what we see in our heads. It comes with ups, like the beautiful, heavily ladened vines of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. And downs, like the vines getting decimated by birds and resulting a very poor harvest. It’s about figuring our how to work around D’s new work schedule. It’s about despairing our chickens were cannibalizing their eggs, and then finding the hidden nest with thirteen eggs. It’s about a disastrous first attempt at making jelly, and the triumph of finally getting a perfect gluten-free, made-from-scratch apple pie…with apples from our own orchard. (It’s not pretty, but the taste was amazing!)

So, now I have the freezer packed with local, grass-fed chicken, beef, and pork. My knitting mojo is letting me get through long neglected projects such as these two pairs of Stepping Stones for my parents. And I have also thoroughly cleaned and re-oiled my Ashford Traditional. That’s a braid of undyed Shetland wool Atalanta is trying to spin.

And of course, I had to include the photo of a kitten falling asleep in a shoe.

Unfortunately, the last month has proven to be horrid for my fiction writing. The story I was working on is just…gone. I’m not ready to give up, so I keep approaching it from different angles, but it just doesn’t seem to want to let me continue.

I am not willing to give up just yet though.

 

 

:more downs than ups:

So, I had a post I started to write, between putting together Ikea furniture for the kids’ bedrooms (Am I the only one who likes doing that? It’s like giant Lego sets!) and getting the house cleaned up for my parents’ visit next week….

….and then the water stopped running and we realized the well was not working.

Right now I am just too tired to say anything more. We got everything working, and I will write it all up once I get a chance.

On the up side of things, I finished my Rikke hat. YAY! Nights here are going to be in the 40s next week, so it will be great to wear it while I drink my coffee and watch the sun rise over the vineyard.

IMG_0014
Talk about a game of yarn chicken! That tail is all that was left of the skein.
IMG_0015
So cozy! (Excuse the bed head)

:getting dirty:

Thank goodness for California’s long growing season. I am just starting to set up my vegetable garden. The area set up for the kitchen garden is quite a generous size, but I just do not have it in me to go big right from the get-go.

As I have said before, there is just too much to do.

So, we are going to go this year with a no-til or no-dig garden. It was Doug’s idea. He found a blog on permaculture gardening, and we figured why not give it a try.

The weekend after the move, we took a bale of hay we found in the little hay loft, moved it to the garden and covered the area we were going to plant. Then we let it sit.

The theory is to cover the ground with straw or cardboard. Then build rows or mounds of soil on top of the straw, and then plant. The straw suppresses the weeds and as the plants grow the roots dig down through the straw and anchor themselves. This is supposed to keep the soil from becoming weaker (especially season after season) from disturbing the soil’s ecology.

This morning we started building the rows  and mounds where we will plant.

IMG_0008

It won’t be the prettiest garden in the world, but I’m so happy to have it!

I am by no means an experienced gardener. I was raised in the suburbs, and my mom always hired someone to do the yard work. My experience consists of a small garden in Georgia, some five gallon buckets I used to grow pole beans and tomatoes on my balcony when we first moved to Cali, and helping my much more experienced neighbor plant a big (for me) garden which produced beautifully that year.

It was a glorious way to start the morning!

Then the rest of my day consisted of chauffeuring the kids to their activities…and knitting while I wait.

IMG_0009
Working on my Rikke hat. We are getting a cold snap next week, and I am so looking forward to a last bit of cold before the heat of summer hits.

:quick hello, dear blog:

Oh! The things life throws at you. I am, as anyone can see, not posting. However, this time it is a deliberate decision, not neglect. Life has thrown some curveballs at me and none of it is shareable. I am willing it all to be over soon, so we can all settle back into our version of normalcy. That way I can get back to posting and sharing in this space. One really good thing I can share is I am back to knitting and working on a Rikke Hat for the cold snap we have coming up.

Also, R.I.P. Stephen Hawking. Your brilliant mind shall be missed, rest now.

:no stitches west for me:

Stitches West 2018 is about to happen. The vendors are starting to set up in the marketplace. Thousands of knitters are about to descend on San Jose…

…and I will not be a part of it.

I want to go.

So, so badly.

It does not help that it falls on my birthday week each year.

You have no idea how badly I want to go.

But, alas, I will not be going this year.

This year is a year of prioritizing a few things above knitting. Yes, I know, it didn’t sound right to me when I wrote it down either. I am trying to comfort myself with the fact that I have plenty of yarn and fleece in my stash to tide me over. I don’t really need more.

It’s not working very well.

I could go and just look and touch and squish and sniff the yarn, but I am afraid it would make it worse. I do so love all the pretty yarn.

So I will stay away, and hope that next year I’ll really get to enjoy it all.

:stitches west 2016|recap:

Yes, this post is going up way late, but I swear, that is how long it has taken me to assimilate the overload that is the Stitches West Marketplace.

We first moved to the South Bay area on Valentine’s Day of last year. After two years of being away from my husband, it took us months to spend any kind of time apart. It was necessary for us to reestablish our family. Even when I found out that Stitches West is in San Jose and always falls around my birthday (happy birthday to me!), I didn’t even think of going.

This year, ironically, Doug had to be out of town due to help him mom with something, so with the kids which a friend and after dropping Doug off at
the airport, I found myself with the entirety of the Stitches West market- place to play in and birthday money.

So, first, let me say that it is HUGE. Ginormous!

So many people.

So many booths.

So. Much. Yarn.

I didn’t quite know where to look.

When I first got to the hotel, the Marketplace had not opened yet. I was
tickled to see so many people knitting! There were knitters everywhere. I
got coffee and sat down to knit

I fangirled when I met Andrea Mowry

by myself, and who should sit down
right near me but Andrea Mowry. I
had come with a very short list of
projects I wanted to buy for and her Range Shawl was one of them. She was so sweet and I got to spend the time knitting and talking with her. She
even gave me suggestions of yarns for the shawl. If a designer tells me what to use for her pattern, I am definitely going to go with it (more on that later). She also introduced me to Annie Claire. They were so nice, and it was all I could do
not to go all stupid fan-girl on them.

Another one of the designers I wanted to meet was Carrie Bostick Hoge of Maddermade. I love, love, love her designs, and bought her Maddermade Anthology 2 so I could knit Lucinda. I wanted to die when she asked me if I wanted her to sign it and it took me a moment to realize who she was. Sorry Carrie!

img_3558

Carrie Bostick Hoge

So that brings me to my purchases.

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

Hiya Hiya 4″ sharps interchangeable needles

My big deal purchase was a set of interchangeable knitting needles. I was
trying to decide between the ChiaoGoo and the Hiya Hiya. Luckily I was able to try them out while there and decided on 4″ Hiya Hiya sharps. The
shorter needle lets me hold them in a way that does not hurt my right wrist.

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

Madder Anthology 2

I met Carrie at the Never Not Knitting booth where Alana Dakos helped me pick this gorgeous Quince and Co. Owl in the color way Canyon, for my Lucinda sweater. She had the cutest little booth with all these vintage inspired notions. At this point I was too shy to ask Alana for a photo. Her booth was packed with people!

I picked up this little kit of lotion bar and lip tin from Love+Leche. My hands are loving these in this dry Cali climate.

At the YOTH booth, I picked up a gradient of their Father, 100% Rambouillet wool for my Range Shawl in Portobella, Cacao, Shiitake, and Nutmeg, a copy of the pattern Blanche by Veronika Jobe and a couple of skeins of the yarn called for in the pattern, Little Brother in the Shiitake color way, as well as a Fringe Supply Co. Field Bag and a couple of notions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Finally, I found a copy of the first Barbara Walker, A Treasury of KnittingPatterns and a couple of hand thrown coffee mugs from Pawley Studios.

I spent way too much money and had a great time.