Sunday, December 31, 2006

What Would I Wish For

Here it is, the Eve of another New Year. As I sit here in my living room and day breaks around me, its so hard to wrap my mind around the fact that another whole year has come and gone! Yesterday my hand held two little socks in belonging to grandson Mason, already almost four years old and the other belonging to his baby brother Elliot, only a few weeks old ~ and I was struck by the swift passage of time.

I don't have any profound thoughts that I am vain enough to force on you, but I only wanted to wish anyone reading this a year full of joy in the good times and hope in the bad. I wish for everyone a warm and sunny spot in their own home to curl up with a good book, some wonderful knitting or delightful spinning and for the glow of that sunshine to encourage and renew you!

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(Picture above from my living room, at my fireplace...note the knitting, the books and the crack in the stone wall, but also the glimpse of Mason's picture and the soft glow of the sun - all good representatives of my daily life)

I wish for you a family around you full of hugs and kisses, and for a life full of purpose. And while I am not naive enough to believe that everyone will be blessed with all of those things, I am reminded of my favorite verse in the that sustains and encourages me when I need it. I will share it with you:

"Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope...Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are NEW every morning; great is your faithfullness." Lamentations 3:21-23

And what I CAN wish for you is that you have hope for each new day of this coming New Year....Happy New Year!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Harvest Sock Swap '06

Here is part of a beautiful package I received from Nancy in Missouri for the Harvest Sock Swap '06.

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(Grey kitten did NOT come in the package...but he couldn't resist helping me take photos!)

These amazing stitch markers were nestled in the bottom of a gift bag of beautiful fibers from Nancy's own critters! I just can't wait to start spinning some of this, and will always be reminded of Nancy when I do! I have a photo to share of the fiber, too, but Photobucket is being difficult and I will have to post it another day (maybe when I am spinning it?) Also included were some pretty cute sheepy soaps, too!

Thank you, Nancy, for your thoughtful gifts...just right for a spinning fanatic!

Monday, December 25, 2006

A Christmas of Joys

Merry, Merry Christmas Everyone!

A few Christmas time photos for you to enjoy ~

Our newest delight, baby grandson Elliot, born December 15th (ahead of his Christmas Eve due date) with (now) big brother Mason:

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Please notice Elliot's festive Christmas attire, compliments of his Aunt Mo...a tradition she started with my daughter and has continued with the boys.

And a sleeping kitten ~

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(We do not allow the kittens to eat or play with tinsel...I was decorating and turned to find O'Malley sound asleep like this!)

O'Malley the kitten is one half of the dynamic duo of kittens now residing in our house ~ his yet unnamed brother is stalking around the perimeter SOMEWHERE!

What else is there to say about the joy of Christmas? From our home to yours....may God be born and made real to hearts today as He was born onto this earth so many years ago.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

A Brooke Sighting

Ah-ha! I have been discovered - LOL!

Yes Brooke (or should I say Sock-ret Sleuth?) you have figured me out! Did the clues help? I went to the barn this morning to snap a photo of my sheep Brooke, to tease you with:

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If she looks a little disdainful, it is because I had no sheep cookies (also known as Vanilla Wafers) for her. She hates to come running, only to find there are no sheep cookies....she tells me so by turning away like this, then looking over her shoulder in disgust. This is quickly forgotten when she hears the rustle of the cookie box!

This is fun!!! And, now I can order sock yarn from you without trying to remain a secret ;D

Do you think we will be looked down on by other secret Sock-ret folks??? I don't think so, it is a pretty cool group!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Braided Rug Fun

What fun! Last weekend, I got the chance to get away for a few days...spend some time with my best friend Cherie and another dear friend Mary (Hey! We were Cherie, Mary and Cary - we rhymed!) AND do fibery things! We went to a 2-day Workshop with Letty Klein to learn to braid wool roving into rugs (well, we actually made a chair pad in class)

I really went just because Cherie and I have both been so busy that we rarely get to visit any more. An excess of roving to be braided into rugs is not a problem for me...I rarely, RARELY have roving available from my fleeces so if I have it on hand I have purchased it to spin. But this was fun, and I was quickly taken by the beauty of the rugs. I've always loved braided Great-Grandma made them, my Mom and Grannie had them and I often thought I would learn to make them (even have books on the traditional way), but Letty's process is even better...another way to make use of the marvelous natural product our sheep produce!

If you haven't heard of Letty Klein and Anne Brown's book "The Shepherd's Rug", visit Letty's site, Pine Lane Farm Karakuls to read more about it (and see great photos of some of their rugs)

I won't go into detail about the process of making the rug (you must buy the book or take the workshop - LOL!) but it was a fun time, very easy to learn and worthwhile, I thought.

Here are some photos of my in progress chair pad (including ALL of the supplies Letty included in the workshop for us to make the pads):

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Here is a closer look:

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If you ever have a chance to take this workshop, I HIGHLY recommend it!

But we had more fun than just this over the weekend! Wonderful food, great company - the best! - and yarn shop hopping! We shopped at the sweetest little yarn store outside Kalamazoo, called Handweavers. No website or I would share it with you, but it was a wonderful place with two of the friendliest young women running it that day! I bought (no surprise here...) yarn and patterns! The next morning we joined forces with two other friends who were taking the workshop and headed out across country to my dear, dear friend and sheep mentor Rita Walters at Mar-Rita Farms. Rita has a shop on her farm, The Wool Room, that they recently expanded and WOW ... does she ever have some GREAT new yarns! She was just unpacking some when we arrived. I left there with (you guessed it) some of that yarn, some sock yarn, patterns and Corriedale roving ;) We also visited the Corriedale sheep and fed them cookies. Its nice to see some of those old girls who are the mothers and grandmothers of my own flock! Two of my friends left there with fleeces of their own.

It really was a good time, and I came home relaxed and also recharged. Its always good to get away for a time and expose yourself to other creative and like minded people. I'm grateful to Cherie for inviting me to go along and to Cherie's dear Mom, Jean, who put us up overnight in her beautiful lakeside home. It was wonderful to travel with Mary and get to know her better (what a neat lady she is!) We got to meet some other new fiber friends, visit with old fiber friends and just generally have a really good time!

We are thinking of making this an annual get-away ;D

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Some New Things

I have had a longing for color since my recent dyeing workshop with Nancy from Woven Art in Lansing. Working with my own yarns, here is what I came up with this past week. I call this yarn "Bittersweet and Goldenrod" (not for sale):

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And this delicious Corriedale lamb and English Angora bunny blend yarn, grey, overdyed in our Serenity Farms colors (teals, blues, turquoise). I thought laying the yarn out on the frosty Lambs Ears in my garden, with the sun just peeking up, was pretty. This yarn has already sold. I will try to make more soon:

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Not just yarn but roving, freshly returned from Spinderella's, my friends in Utah who do such an amazing job in processing, especially these smaller finer blends for me. Corriedale, Alpaca, Mohair and Silk combine to create SILVER SAGE MOON (below) This is so incredibly ethereal, a photo does not do it justice. I can't stop looking at this one, it just shimmers!

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HONEY SPUN GINGER (below) is a blend of Shetland lamb and dyed silks. This was a very, very pale fawn fleece - almost cream colored. The silk is sunny yellow, seashell pink and palest peach. You can't see the highlights of color from the silk very well in this photo, but it is there - it shines and glows as it flows through your fingers to the spinning wheel:

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Not shown here is the intensely deep and mysterious Corriedale, black Alpaca and dyed silk, haven't even decided on a name for that one yet! about MIDNIGHT TAPESTRY? The colors of the silk is very rich, velvety tones that add so much depth to the roving. And it just doesn't photograph at all well, but I will keep trying. It is raining and gloomy here today, I might be able to get a decent picture.

You can see more of these fibers at our web site Serenity Farms, where they are offered for sale in very limited quantities.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Sock Swaps Update

I am far behind in updating about some of the Sock or Sock Yarn Swaps I am in. A naggling cold keeps threatening to sideline me, hard as I try to resist it ;(

So here, though a few days late, are some delicious goodies I have received in the mail this past week!

First, that sneaky (and very dear) Pamela strikes again! These little treats arrived on seperate days, giving me more than one smile:

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Heirloom pepper seeds, teasel seeds (from your garden Pamela?) and one of those adorable little Lantern Moon sheepy tape measures everyone is blogging about! It is much cuter in person than in photos, and actually reminds me of one of the little black lambs in my own flock - Charm! See for yourself, below is a picture of Charm the real sheep:

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I love squeezing the tummy on the little sheep (tape measure, not Charm!) and the tape reels in! hohoho!

Next, all the way from Oregon, my Hot Sox Swap goodies from Carrie!

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Knit Picks Sock "Parade"; two internet patterns with a lace theme (I had mentioned I love lace as much as socks!); some Tuscany Orange Spice tea AND (not pictured) the most amazingly yummy jam - blackberry I think? Ohhhhh, so good on toasted English Muffins! And that tea? How did I NOT know about this tea before? Here I was, scratchy sore throat and irritating cough to accompany my cold - along in the mail comes all of these things and this tea is perfect! Spicey, even a bit "peppery" to keep me going these past few head cold laden days...truly an inspired choice, Carrie, thank you thank you so much! My box of sock goodies is on its way to Oregon to Carrie, hopefully with no cold germs inside...

I received a soothingly beautiful ecard from my Sockret Pal to let me know that she is thinking of was so pretty! AND I sent another package to my own Sockret Pal that seems to have been right on target, judging from her website - woohoo! (I can't believe I am still managing to remain a secret, I am so terrible at that)

In my own Feet To Prayers update, I sent a little something off to Eve AND am nearing the toe of her sock. My last shopping outing I scored big in the little gift department to go along with her socks - YIPEE ;) Our deadline for that swap will be here before we know it.

A new swap I am in is the Handspun Sock Yarn Swap. I have written twice to the person I am sending to, but haven't a reply yet. But I have been contacted by the person spinning FOR me and we have hit it right off...visiting back and forth! Turns out she was raised here in Michigan!

I THINK those are all of my updates for now - I know it is about all my little cold medicated head is good for. I'm glad we can't share germs just by reading the internet!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Color My Grey's Anatomy World

Well now, how crummy is that? I settled down with knitting and lavender tea last night, turned on the television and was treated to....a REPEAT of Grey's Anatomy!!!!

A repeat already?!? Come on! Of course, I did watch the repeat....and I did still laugh, cry and get all giddy inside at both episodes. Okay - my secret is out....that I (along with millions of others around the world) am a Grey's Anatomy fan (smiles sheepishly)

So here is my post, both in honor and protest of Grey's this week ~ color and grey, mixed up in my world.

Some of the more colorful aspects of my weekend, yarn dyed by me (wool/mohair on the left, 100% silk on the right):

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An absolutely perfect Saturday last! My day began at 4 am, because I had to be awake in time to prepare a sack lunch and be on the road by 5:30, heading for East Lansing. Had to be at THE horse show (Michigan Great Lakes International) at the MSU Pavilion by 7 to catch the first few classes and visit with friends (and my dad!)

Did that and then headed across town to a splendid, creative Dyeing Workshop with Nancy McRay, owner of Woven Art. I joined Nancy (instructor), Kathy and Jill (students like me) and we just had a relaxing yet rejuvinating day putting color to yarn. I followed this with a visit to Nancy's shop to both see the fantastic lace on disply (through the end of this month by the way)and shop - I bought some yummy little cashmere/silk/mohair yarn! I will most definately be back to shop some more...there is just a wonderful feeling when you walk through the door of Woven Art - both energy and serenity. (Forgetful Cary left her camera at home, so no pictures of other dye creations or the front of the shop!) We are blessed by serveral yarn shops in the mid-Michigan area (please don't make the mistake of thinking there is only one!) ~ TREAT yourself to a trip to Woven Art!

Next, another cup of Beaners coffee and I was back on the road to visit my sister and brother in law, see their newly remodeled kitchen and the greenhouse work-in-progress (both are fantastic by the way!). Then off to an authentic Mexican restaurant (oooh, yummy-yummy) and then Kim (sister) and I decided to hit the thrift stores. We had soooo much fun there! Time just flew by, darkness fell and we had to have another Beaners latte on the way back to Kim's house. Then I left to drive home in the rain, but just felt so was truly an amazingly terrific day! (Though sadly, I ran out of daylight time before I had the chance to make it to another Lansing area yarn shop, Rae's Yarn Boutique. Rae is the colorful and creative designer of the current sock pattern for the Six-Socks-KAL group. I think that just means I am going to have to make ANOTHER special trip back to Lansing to visit yarn shops, right?)

Oh, and here are my thrift store purchases (sweaters from Ralph Lauren, JCrew, LL Bean and more....all in shades of Grey! How funny is that?)

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My final somewhat colorful photo this post is of the first half of my pair of Jaywalkers in STR Fire On The Mountain yarn, complete with lime green toes (you might recall that I didn't pay attention to the yardage required for these socks and am, just about positive, that I don't have enough to complete both socks with just the STR) The lime green Regia came to the rescue, and I LOVE it! Wish I would have done the heels in the same shade, but not enough to rip back and do so - LOL!

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What is coloring your world today?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Gift From A Friend

Look at this wonderful collection of goodies!

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All from my Feet To Prayers Partner, Pamela...who has blessed me beyond measure! I wish my camera was a bit more powerful and could capture in close-up detail her fine and even stitches in this unique sock. Pamela was so troubled about ladders, but I HONESTLY see NONE!!!

I love the sock pattern because it combines some techniques I have never used in a sock before. The sideways knit ribbing is wonderfully elastic and stays right up! I don't know if it shows in the photo or not, but the burgundy "solid" color of the Lorna's Laces yarn is not quite solid, it has the most subtle shading that makes it look rich and elegant.

I have been dreaming of a trip to England (a leftover childhood fantasy, I'm sure) Included with all of the gifties, Pamela sent me a DVD with highlights of her part of the world, which happens to be Nottinghamshire, England. LOL...the DVD starts out with a well muscled, handsome man in tights running through the woods with a bow and arrow and I wondered just what kind of movie Pamela had sent to me...hehe...but I am sure he was meant to be Robin Hood! Now I know that I could very happily visit not just Pamela (because we would have so much fun!) but that I would also enjoy the scenery and many neat places to visit (hey, maybe that cute guy in the tights could be found?)

There is also a nice, well crafted writing instrument (ink pen). This is so appropriate because as I child I was always confiscating my dad's nice pens every time he got one....I just loved a good pen and a blank sheet of paper.

OH, Pamela, you just can't know how much you have blessed me these past few weeks! The sock is just the icing on the cake ;) Thank you, thank you, thank you ;D

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Socks, Secrets and Fun

A very special person is sending me gifts for our Feet To Prayers Swap - Pamela in the UK. We have lots of things in of knitting, love of gardening, love of the Lord. She also has a great sense of humor!!!

During the course of this swap, not only has Pamela sent me encouraging notes and prayers, but little gifts have been arriving daily. Seriously!!! Just about every day, a little brown paper wrapped gift comes from the UK!!! Here are the latest two:

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I'm sorry about the flash on the scissors, but I think you get the idea. I have been enjoying some of the packaging as much as the gifts - giving me stores in her area to go on line and look at! And can you see the tea??? Now I have tea from England - woo-hoo! I'm going to take it with me to visit my sister this weekend. Her husband, my brother in law, is from England but I forget the town now, drat ;( I think it is somewhere in the Cotswolds? I just love it - Pamela, you are the best! I'm praying for you, too!

I sent out a package to my Sock-ret Pal, and she has received it!!! I don't want to show an actual photo, but I did knit her some socks in a pretty blue/green color that reminded me the whole time of water. She lives in a southern state surrounded by water and I live in a northern state surrounded by here is my water picture:

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The Mighty Mackinaw Bridge, with Lake Michigan on one side and Lake Huron on the other - simply known as "The Bridge" around here (and everyone would know exactly where you mean). I was just there a few weeks ago (it is about two hours north of where I live), meeting a lady to pick up a pair of Shetland sheep.

I also sent out a package to my Harvest Sock Swap pal, Laura, just today. I won't show a picture here until she receives the package, but remember the apples I showed you the other day? That is a color teaser!

That is the latest sock news from Serenity Farms. How about everyone else? What is up with your sock knitting?

Friday, October 13, 2006

My Garden Is Confused

(Or, I live in Michigan where the weather can change completely in just an instant!)

Last week I was showing you photos of the lovely maple trees as they began to show their fall colors. Here is my garden on Thursday morning:

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We have learned to kind of ignore the weatherman's dire predictions of doom and gloom on any given forcast day. Especially when all of the local channels make weather their lead story (what? slow news day fellas?) But this time the prediction of rapidly falling temperatures and yes, some of the white stuff (snow) was true. In the span of about ten minutes of time, maybe fifteen, things went from this:

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To this:

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And then, the sun came out briefly:

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These same weathermen say that our temperatures are thirty degrees below average for this time of year. Winds are howling around thirty miles an hour. But I am warm (well, except for when I am outside doing chores...there was ICE on the water tanks today!) and I have hot coffee and wool socks and wool yarn to work with. I am blessed and happy. I am a girl who loves her wintery weather.

So I dedicate this post, happily and teasingly, to my warm weather friends (and especially to Deborah...with hugs)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Socks, Socks & Sock Knitting

Socks have been consuming my life recently...but what a nice thing to be consumed by!

First some updates...for my Harvest Sock Swap '06 Pal:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting, I am not expecting Laura (my pal) to wear apples on her feet - but these lovely Michigan MacIntosh apples very nearly mimic the colors of the yarn in her socks. I am all ready to send the package out to her...and can't find the pattern! It was a purchased pattern for her, and now I can't find it here in my cluttered knitterly house, so had to order another. Then your goodies will be on there way to you.

Also have my first package ready for my Sock-ret Pal. But I am not going to say much here, because I believe she has read my blog and I'm not ready to give away my identity just yet!

A Feet To Prayers Update:

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From my not-so secret Feet To Prayers Gifter...three neat little packages came in the mail to me all the way from England! I love Basil the sheep (the little sheepy bookmark) and then the Jesus band-aids!!! Wouldn't those just be the neatest things for a Sunday school or vacation Bible School class? And just as special and oh-so-cute - Jack 'o Lantern chocolates!!! Thank you Pamela!!! Now, I can forgive you for the scratchy grey wool!!!! LOL

At the bottom right of this photo, do you notice something else? That's right, empty needles, signifying my lack of progress in the sock knitting department for my Feet To Prayers Giftee ;( Not for lack of trying though. I have the yarn and thought I had chosen a pattern that would both challenge you and be soothing (my Pal is an accomplished knitter) Didn't work with the chosen yarn. Okay, went to the second pattern choice. Uh-uh....looked even worse. Hmmm - do I change yarn choices or try another pattern? I was trying to combine some knitting goals for the fall...knitting toe up (for My First Toe Ups), trying a new pattern (Mystery Sock KAL), learning a new technique (a different cast on technique for the toe ups) and finishing something on the needles (Socktoberfest) So far, none of these things has been accomplished. EXCEPT I am still praying for my Feet To Prayers Sis...and that is the biggest accomplishment of all!

More sock news...I am teaching a Toes First Sock Class at a local yarn shop, Sip 'n Knit. And I have a GREAT group!!! I mean they are fast learners, funny, fearless and fun! It has been a joy teaching them, and I will hate to see the class end. I will try to get some pictures next (final) class.

So, there is my sock knitting news and un-news. I have some big fiber news in the works, too...maybe I will post about that later this week - you will just have to wait and see. Grin....

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Why Knit Socks Toe Up?

Or....what is wrong with this picture:

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Do you notice anything not quite right in the photo above? Other than the mushrooms that are sprouting all over our yard and pastures thanks to SO MUCH RAIN? Hmmmm....look closely. Do you see the small little remaining ball of STR Fire On The Mountain yarn, sitting grimly on the toad stool? Do you also see that the foot of my Jaywalker sock is not even halfway complete? Have I mentioned that Jaywalker is now one of my favorite sock patterns? Do you think that I am going to have enough yarn to reach the end of that foot?

I don't think so either.

I carefully measured out my skein of yarn, dividing it in half by yards (not by weight). I have gauge and I am even knitting the Jaywalker pattern with four less stitches per round. I probably made the leg a bit longer than the pattern suggested. And I am not going to have enough yarn.

Had I been knitting TOE UP, I could have corrected this problem by knitting a shorter leg in the sock. I cannot knit a shorter foot and have the sock fit. Sigh.

But there is still hope. See the complimentary ball of Regia yarn in this next photo?

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It is going to save the day (it really does compliment the STR, though the picture may not show it) I am going to chance knitting to the start of the toe, then knit the toe with the lime (frog) green. If I run short on the second sock, I will rip out (frog) back to the start of the heel and knit the heel and toe of the socks with the lime (frog) green. Watch for progress reports in coming days...

And that is ONE reason I really prefer to work my socks Toes First.

By the way, as an off shoot of Socktoberfest, Rebecca and Ozknitter have started My First Toe Ups, a blog/kal for those learning or upgrading their toe up sock knitting skills. Go check it out!

Update: Since writing this post two days ago, we have actually had TWO full days of glorious fall weather, complete with sunshine and full, silver moon at night. I think this is due to the prayers of my knitting and gardening friend Pamela in the UK. Thank you for the prayers Pamela ;D

ANOTHER UPDATE: Well, DUH! Maybe I should change the title of this entry to Why Read The Pattern? The Jaywalker pattern calls for one 465 yard skein of Opal (doesn't say whether or not you have any yarn left over) and I believe this skein of STR is something like 360 or 380 yards? Well, no wonder I am running short on yarn!?! Let this be a lesson to me and (maybe) a help to you in the future.. Thanks also to all of you who have offered your support for the frog green Regia...I have grown quite attached to it myself! My daughter thinks I am going to have enough STR to finish the socks, but I don't want to chance it so will use the Regia toes anyway. Sheesh...I sure feel stupid! But love my socks ;D And still could have avoided the problem by working toe up!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Dear Sock-Ret Pal

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A quiet, non-assuming cardboard box arrived in the mail today. Hiding inside was the lovely confection pictured above. I took a moment to just gaze at, the packaging itself was so pretty! Remind me to show you a picture sometime of both my living room sofa and the wallpaper border I have for my wool room ;) You will see that your taste was right on!

I carried my Sock-ret Package to one of my favorite quiet places, my shade garden (and the weather is nice here today, so I could do that!) You might notice that a lot of blog photos are taken in this garden. I lifted the lid:

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Oh joy of joys! More surprises!!!! I opened each one carefully...five in all:

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Dark chocolate with orange is one of my absolute favorite treats in the entire world!!! How did you know? Had I mentioned that somewhere? Then there are the cutest little beaded sheep stitch markers...little spotted sheep ;) A very silky lotion, Aveda Caribbean Therapy (hey, maybe I can spin some of those silk caps I have if my hands are a little smoother!)...a pattern for lace gloves (not shown in the photo)...and finally (with great fanfare) a skein of Misti Alpaca Lace yarn in a rich, elegant burgundy/maroon color. 437 yards worth!!!

What a very special Sock-ret Pal I have! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! You made an already good day ever so much better!

Sending you hugs, wherever you are! The box came from New York....are you there, too?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

More Benefits to Sock-ret Pal Participation!

One of the (many) benefits of participating in the Sock-ret Pal swap are the special things offered to us by special stash, I mean artists who paint a masterpiece or two into yarn. Another wonderful thing is "meeting" new friends who share a love for some of the same things we do ;)

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One of those people is Susie from Perchance To Knit (Hurry, go check out her yarns!). I got the sweetest email, introducing herself and letting me know she is right here in my own state! And she spins! And she is not that far away!!! And...she has some amazing yarns, including a specially created colorway for the Sock-ret Pal knitters. Can you see it in the photo above? It is so amazingly colorful and beautiful that Bamboo (my kitten) can't believe his eyes! He has to have a closer look:

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Isn't that just the prettiest creation? And a sparkly little stitch marker as well! Woo-hoo!!! I have decided that I am going to give myself a Sock-ret Pal gift by "giving" this yarn to ... ME ;D Thank you Susie for sharing your talent! Thank you Rachel and Dani for this Swap!

The other neat part of the Swap is that I have a really fun person I am gifting to. I have really been enjoying her blog and so far I haven't slipped up and given away my identity. I have a pair of socks nearly finished for her and some little gifts to go along with that I hope to get in the mail by first of the week.

And to my Sock-ret Pal, gifting to me...did you see my note about my sock/foot size? I will share it here, too ;) My foot (in U.S. measurements) is 9 1/2 inches length from heel to toe; 9 1/2 around the instep; 11 inches around the widest part of my calf; and I usually knit to a height of around half way between my ankle bone and knee (around 7 inches high) but I really don't mind if they are a little shorter. My feet are medium all the way! A womans medium anything fits me pretty good and I am not fussy about my socks, if they are a little big I will still wear them. To small, well, then my daughter would have to have them ;D
By the way, you are very good at being a secret! Grin...

Its October

Or should I say, its "Sock-tober"?

LOL - Sock knitting has a tendency to take over my life at times. It is my all time favorite thing to knit; I generally have at least three pairs of socks on the needles at any given time and I have a file full of free patterns from the internet that I would like to knit at some point as well as several sock pattern books (both old and new)

Presently, I am part of three sock swaps and two sock knit-a-longs (see links in the sidebar). I am teaching a Toes First Sock Knitting class at one of your local yarn shops. And I have been POURING over Nancy Bush's Vintage Sock book....oh, oh, oh LOVE that book ;)

Because most of the socks I am knitting right now are for other people out there in blog land who MIGHT stumble across this blog, I am not going to show any pictures of socks in progress. But since it is fall, and I am mostly knitting in fall colors, I thought I would include this photo from the Burnham woods as it is beginning to make colors. Happy sock knitting!!! And be sure to check out some of the links connecting us to the far-reaching world of sock knitting!

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Letter to My Sock-ret Pal

Dear Sock-ret Pal knitting for me, whoever and wherever you might be (grin),

Isn't this great fun? Do you want to keep yourself a secret, or do you want to let me know who you are? I don't mind either way, so you can decide okay? Whatever is easiest and most fun for you. I have tried to answer the questions below. I also have a website for my farm and you can see that by visiting Serenity Farms

I just answered a whole bunch of questions for my Feet To Prayers group and you can see them in yesterdays post. Between these two days of questions and answers, you should know a lot about me! LOL...

Here goes:
How long have you been knitting? About 35 years
Do you consider yourself a beginning, intermediate or experienced sock knitter? I think I am pretty good at sock knitting

Favorites (fiber related):
What colors do you love? I really like all colors, including brights, dark velvety tones and all naturals - the picture below is of the natural colors of my own flock of sheep that I really love:

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Do you prefer solids or variegated? Hmmm, depends on the mood ;)
What fibers do you most love to knit with? Corriedale wool, Llama and Angora rabbit. Most recently I have been taken up with Shetland. You can see examples of a few of the things I like, below:

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Photos above from top to bottom - roving made from Corriedale ewe Hannah blended with Angora bunny; Fleece and yarn from my Corriedale ewe Ainsley and bottom, raw Shetland fleece from a ewe named Peg)

Who do you consider your favorite yarn vendors? I have several friends in the fiber/yarn world and I like to support them. My friend Margaret with her glorious laceweight yarns in unbelievable colors (can’t get her to work with wool though!); my friend Eve who does an amazing job with blends and with colors are two of my very favorites. For fibers, there are probably to many to name, but Eve also has exquisite fibers and my friends at Spinderellas have to die for rovings, their Thrums. For sock yarn, I love STR (Socks That Rock) but have recently found myself in love with the Sheaffer Anne.
What projects (other than socks, of course*S*) do you most enjoy knitting? Mittens (grin) and anything lace. I am addicted to lace knitting and sock knitting, so of course lace patterned socks are a personal favorite!

Dislikes (fiber related):
What fibers can you not stand to knit with? I don’t like acrylic (okay I know, not a fiber) And do you know, I am not fond of cotton or of silk...unless the silk is in a blend with wool
To wear? I don’t have any trouble wearing natural fibers
What colors would you never wear? I really like all colors

The Tools:
Plastic or Metal? Bamboo or wood? Yes (grin). I don’t like the older aluminum needles, but I love bamboo for socks, addi turbos for most anything, and I have a set of the Denise circulars that are plastic that I like. My daughter just got a set of the Knit Picks circulars, with sharper points than Addi’s and I think they are going to be nice
Circs or Straights? DPNs or Magic Loop? I have learned the Magic Loop method and see its value, but I still think I prefer dpns
Are there any knitting accessories you don't have in your collection but would like? Hmmm, have to think about that!

The Extras:
Do you have a wish list? If so, please share the link! No
Do you like sweet, sour or salty? (or all of the above? *S*) Yes - grin Sweet or salty first of all though
Do you have any allergies your pal should know about? (Certain foods, smoke, pet hair, etc) I really hate cigarette smoke
Favorite scents? Scents you can't stand? I have a hard time with most scents, can't stand anything flowery but do okay with spicey or citrus
Do you collect anything (other than yarn and knitting toys of course)? Not really, but I enjoy anything with sheep on it
When is your birthday? (month and day is fine!) January 24
Do you spin? Yes - the picture below is of one of my favorite spinning places - my living room Dye your own yarn? Yes

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Your favorite author/band/vacation spot, anything you think will help your pal know you better... Hmmm, will think about that, too ;) I know my favorite vacation spot is my back yard with my family and critters (that is Eve the sheep below)

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Feet To Prayers Questions

I am part of THREE new sock swaps this fall! Sock-ret Pal (starts in October); Harvest Sock '06 and the Feet To Prayers Swap/KAL/PAL (prayer-a-long). I am also Knittin' Mittens ;) You can read more about any of these swaps by following the links in my sidebar. All of these swaps and knit-a-longs in an effort to use up some of the yarn stash!

I have had so much fun with some previous sock and fiber swaps I have been in (and am really looking forward to these new ones!) that I am giving a try at being hostess to a small group (The Feet To Prayers). If all goes well, we may go "public" after the first of the year - LOL! Anyway, we had questions to answer to help our Sock Sisters get to know us better and I have posted my answers here. I thought it might help whoever is knitting FOR me in the Harvest Sock '06 Swap! (Sock-ret Pal will have its own questionnaire, I understand)

Here goes:

When is your birthday? ~ End of January

Do you spin your own yarn? If so, do you also like to work with raw fleece (washing, dyeing, carding) or only from prepared fibers (roving, top, batts) ~ Yes, I spin my own yarn, using a wheel (have never mastered the drop spindle!) I do all of the above.

What small projects do you like to make? Socks, mittens, scarf, hat, baby items, wash cloths, doilies, shrugs etc ~ My very favorite thing in the world to make are socks. Lace patterns are my second favorite, so as you might guess, lace patterned socks are right at the top of the list!

What are your favorite scents? ~ I am allergic to an awful lot of scents, so don't usually purchase any. I do like citrus scents and also spicy scents (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger) Nothing flowery

Do you like stationary and cards? ~ Love them! When I was a child, a brand new notebook with blank sheets of paper or a really nice pen would keep me happy for days!

Do you like hand lotions or soaps? ~ Yes, but again, most scents bother me

Do you like to make/or use stitch markers?~ I love them AND use...don't make them myself, but my daughter does

Do you collect anything? ~ Yarn (grin) No, really, I don't collect anything though I always love things that have sheep on them

Do you have any allergies? Smoke, food, fiber, pets, etc.. ~ Some fragrances, as I said. And cigarette smoke really bother me

Do you have any hobbies? (besides knitting, of course!) ~ Gardening

Do you like scented or unscented candles? ~ Back to the scents thing - if I have a candle burning, it usually has a spicy or a citrus scent

Are there any books you are secretly wishing for? ~ No, or if there are probably to many to list!

Do you have a favorite Bible verse/story or character from the Bible? ~ My very favorite bible character is David. And Peter. Both flawed, both perfectly human but used and loved by God- made perfect by Him!
~ A scripture I love is Lamentation 3:21-26 "Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him." The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD"

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Monday Morning Rain

For once, the weather man was correct in his predictions and following two glorious fall like days over the weekend, Monday morning looms grey, damp and drizzly. The wind has a subtly different sound to it than during the spring rains - not really mournful, though, and in a strange way, soothing. As if the seasons are returning in the proper way, letting me know by the changes that fall is coming and following will be winter.

I love fall and winter. I prefer cool, even cold, weather to hot. My animals prefer it, too. I like the seasons where the ground is covered with white stuff (giving the appearance of clean), no bugs, and perfect for wool.

I am, after, a sheep farmer and wool is my main crop ;)

Except for the sound of wind and rain, and my washing machine running, the house is quiet this morning. Alex is at school, Bill is asleep and Mason won’t be here to visit for a few more hours. Watching the rain and feeling the chill in the air, what would any self respecting spinner/knitter/shepherdess want to do? Why, sit down and soothe her spirit with wool and yarn, of course! The rest of this week is already stacked up against me as far as commitments, obligations and errands for other people. It is sooo tempting to give myself some attention today, to sit in my newly organized and comfy sanctuary (wool/knitting/spinning/praying/reading/soap room - see picture below):

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But I am on a mission.... Part of the reason this room IS cleaned and organized is because I am craving some order and cleanliness in my life and the house is reaping the benefit of it. I don’t have these urges often, and they don’t usually last long...but I am determined. I have a closet to finish clearing out in Alex’s new room, then I move on to my “office area” (computer/knitting/spinning/praying/reading room....are you seeing a theme for our house here?)

I want to show you my fiber stash:

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That’s it. No rooms or closets crammed full, no tubs hidden under the beds, no garbage bags doing double duty as fiber storage. I know that this is a pitifully small amount of fiber stash compared to what I read many of you have (grin) and this is to my credit as I am a compulsive buyer/hoarder of any thing that interests me, usually. But even this amount of fiber seems like A LOT to me, and each bag represented here has an accompanying project kicking around in my mind that I would like to accomplish in my lifetime. So here it is, out in the open for all to see - especially me - and to keep me motivated. Some of the white in the lower right corner of the photo I would like to dye.

Yarn/knitting projects are not so controlled. One of the things I accomplished in this recent flurry of cleaning was to separate out and bag up purchased yarns plus the pattern and accessories needed to work that particular project. Most of it is sock projects, followed closely by shawl type projects. I have SEVEN separate purchased sock yarns with patterns planned to go with them. That does not include handspun or mill spun sock yarn....there might be to much of that to count! That does not include the FOUR socks that are currently on needles! Shawl projects with either purchased yarn or my own spun yarn...that number is around four or five, with two of them actually on the needles. And then, just to tempt me more, this project shows up on the internet, the Hidcote Garden Shawl by the designer of the Icarius Shawl. Oh, how can I NOT be tempted to at least purchase this pattern and dream of one day knitting it??? I ask you...and my lavender beds ask can I not???

Also on needles, two different mitten patterns. Two sweater type, the Blackberry Shrug from online Knitty magazine, is nearly finished. I just picked it up again the other day when the temperatures began to drop. It was close to completion this spring when the hot, muggy weather encouraged me to put the bulky wool work is time to finish up:

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Knit from my own Corriedale yarn and minus the bobbles (and believe me, if it were finished I would be wearing it this morning). The other sweater project, also from my own wool - yarn spun by Spinderella’s, is the Granny Smith Cardigan and it is only swatched for, not actually started. So I am going to set a goal of finishing the Blackberry this week so I can cast on for the Grannie Smith (only three months late for the KAL)

My other goal? To finish AT LEAST one pair of socks per week until all of the socks that are now on needles are complete. Did I also mention that I am currently participating in FIVE online KAL’s or Swaps AND our local fiber/knitting group is gearing to start again in a few weeks?

So you can see, that ongoing in-the-works projects ARE the downfall in my life - a real weakness. I get easily bored and easily distracted, so having multiple projects is stimulating to me...but not very satisfactory if I don’t complete them....

And finally, in yesterday’s post I asked about the pattern I am using for my richly colored Socks That Rock yarn? As I am also working on the Jaywalker sock from yarn sent by Stariel....halfway through the leg portion and LOVING the thinking this might work for the STR! After all, Jaywalker was always said to be a good pattern for this type of yarn. may see a DIFFERENT sock in the works here in coming days - LOL - but still the completion of an already started project!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Opal, STR and Alpaca Socks

Well, no, I didn't need another project on the needles (grin) but I wanted to at least start my Jaywalker sock before the Summer Sock Party '06 officially ends. So I cast on tonight with the wonderfully soothing Opal sock yarn in watery blues and turquoise. is the completed ribbing for the cuff, and all ready to start on the pattern:

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And here is the finished first half of the sock pair, knit by Stariel, on my foot:

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I don't think I showed that before, and it really, really does fit perfectly ;) This picture is also a truer representation of the color than the one I took today. What a difference the early fall sunlight makes. Anyway, thanks again to our hostess Tonya and my sock knitter from Boston, Stariel! I may have mentioned before that I am probably one of the few sockknitters who had never tried Opal yarn. I'm not a fan of self-striping yarn, but I like this one that is more random in its color than a self-stripe. Now I can see myself looking for more Opal, when this sock (and others on the needles) are finished.

Back on my birthday in January my daughter, who has long been a fan of Socks That Rock yarn (even before the current mania all over the internet!) gifted me with a skein in the Fire on the Mountain colorway (With help from Toni at The Fold with the color!) It was such a glorious thing to look at, and I took a long time trying to find a sock pattern that would suit it. After three or four attempts that just didn't work (these are quite bold - no, bright - colors) I decided I would just do a simple 3x1 rib the length of the sock. Here is a picture:

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But then, I became intrigued by the way the sock looked on the inside (3 purl x 1 knit):

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What do you think? Do you have a preference just by looking at it? I've got a little farther along to knit before I decide for sure, but I would like to finish these socks up and be wearing them soon!

And my final sock post, a wonderfully fall colored Alpaca yarn, hand dyed by my friend Maple from North Star Alpacas (the bay black yarn on the toe is also from one of Maple's Alpacas!)

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My plan is to work the heel and cuff in the bay-black yarn as well. I know the pattern doesn't show really well in the picture (the yarn is a little fuzzy) but it is kind of a wandering rib stitch that waves in and out. This particular alpaca has almost no give, bounce or memory (and yes, I know that there is some alpaca out there that has both...this one just doesn't) but the yarn itself and the colors are soooo lovely, I had to give it a try! So I wanted a rib stitch pattern or small cable that would offer some support to the yarn. I'm not sure that this is the one I want. May go back to the toe and start over with a different stitch pattern.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Where School Starts

What The Farm and The Farm Home Should Do For The Child -

(This post and the previous one (Grandma, What Do Bees Say) were written within days of each other this week, and I think speak to the same subject - what a farm can do for a child. I have a copy of a wonderful old book, published in 1919, called Farm Life. It was part of a series of books published for Sears, Roebuck & Co. It is a beautiful old thing and I treasure its wisdom and sentiments. I quote from it here and hope that you will enjoy it as well.

I have known in my heart for a very long time that this place that my husband and I live was not meant to be just for us. God has not allowed us to have it, to remain here, simply for ourselves. I always thought it might be a place to share with a larger group. But maybe His plan is for us to focus on these children that have become part of our lives - our grandchildren and now Alex. Time will tell and I only pray that I would be willing and worthy of the task!)

"Nowhere can the foundations of that education which makes for lasting benefit to humanity and to true happiness for the individual be better laid than on the farm. Here the old-fashioned virtues of obedience, orderliness, patience, promptness, cleanliness, self-control and self-reliance are essentials to success; and the child should and will be led to value them, even before his or her schooldays begin. Indeed, on the farm, helpful habits are formed of necessity and almost unconsciously - taken from a book on Farm Life, published in 1919 for Sears, Roebuck and Co.

School started up this past week here in Michigan and all across the country. Alex begins the eighth grade, going back into public school and back to classmates he attended with from kindergarten up until middle of fifth grade. That is when his mother passed away and he was taken away to live in a new place in a new school with new challenges. Some he was unable to overcome. And so he is back with us, and I am so thankful every day for the opportunity to make a difference in his young life.

When he first came back to live with us, he was full of anger (rage!), frustration, remorse, sadness and insecurity. Some of that remains. But we also see a change as he learns to cope and to care for others and himself. As he begins to heal. So much of that is because of the farm.

When he first came back to live with us, he seemed to have forgotten all he had known and learned in his early years. “I will do the chores because I have to and its what you expect from me, but I’m never going to like it and I will never be a farmer when I don’t have to” was his declaration.

And when he first came back to live with us, he began helping Bill prepare a horse for sale. He attended his first horse sale, where he was welcomed back into “the fold” by friends and family members who had known him in his youth, who knew of his life story because of us. He got to drive that horse in the sale preview with Bill. He was accepted, he was treated like a normal kid, he was given responsibilities by others as well as us. And he handled them all and began to blossom. Then Bill fell ill, and full responsibilities of the farm fell on me while he recovered. Only I was NOT alone....Along with extended family members, Alex took on that day to day responsibility with me. I needed him, the farm needed him, “Doc” (Bill) needed him and probably most of all - the animals needed him. He learned what it meant to have another living creature rely on you for food, water and care. Lambing season began, and it was the worst lambing season of my entire life (including when I was a kid on the farm!) We had triplets, we had backwards lambs, we had a terrible prolapse on a young ewe with twins during a horrific thunderstorm. We had one of our elderly ewes deliver twins and only have half of her udder working, so we supplemented those two lambs (left them with their mama so they could still be “sheep”, but brought them bottles of milk supplement throughout the day to keep their tummies full) These two lambs, plus one other, have become the start of Alex’s personal flock of sheep. Because yes, he did fall in love with farm life. With tending sheep. He learned to build fence with my Dad (Gramps as Alex calls him) This summer we saw and heard such advances as his excitement over having a clean barn, having hay and straw in the mow and even this week as he adjusted to his school schedule he was already thinking ahead to lambing season and getting up at 5 am so he would have time to check the barn before he got ready for school! How many teenage boys OFFER to get out of bed that early? LOL

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Yesterday we had people here to buy a ram. I heard Alex - the same Alex who wasn’t going to like farming, who been so socially immature that it was often difficult to take him in public - I heard that same boy tell these folks how much he loved shepherding. He told them the story of how he had gone from refusing to touch a slippery newborn lamb to helping deliver and even to bury one that was lost. He told how when he had a bad day, he could come to barn and sit amongst the lambs and watch them jump and play with the joy of life. “How can you stay mad or sad after that?” he asked.

How can you indeed.....

“I believe that the country which God made is more beautiful than the city which man made; the life out of doors and in touch with the earth is the natural life of man. I believe that work is work wherever I find it, but that work with Nature is more inspiring than work with the most intricate machinery. I believe that the dignity of labor depends not on what you do, but on how you do it; that opportunity comes to a boy on the farm as often as to a boy in the city, that life is larger and freer and happier on the farm than in the town, that my success depends not upon my location, but upon myself - not upon my dreams, but upon what I actually do; not upon luck but upon pluck. I believe in working when you work and in playing when you play and in giving and demanding a square deal in every act of life” - Edwin Osgood Grover

“Nowhere can the foundations of that education which makes for lasting benefit to humanity and to true happiness for the individual be better laid than on the farm. Here the old-fashioned values of obedience, orderliness, patience, promptness, cleanliness, self-control and self-reliance are essentials to success....Indeed on the farm, helpful habits are formed of necessity and almost unconsciously” - Ella Frances Lynch.

Grandma, What do bees say?

The Farm Is A Wonderful Kindergarten -

“Most parents would regard kindergarten as the first step in education, and it is. The word means “children’s garden” and the most wonderful children’s garden in the world is the farm kindergarten - the house, the yard, the barn and the fields“.....from Farm Life, published 1919

Mason and I have developed a new routine in recent weeks, and that is to watch the bees. The Sedums are all in full bloom, as are the garden Asters. They are FULL of bees - busy honeybees and gentler bumble bees. Every flower head has at least two bees each, sometimes four or five. Three year old Mason is fascinated by this! “Grandma, lets go see the bees!” and off we go. He pulls up his chair...”Grandma, come and sit with me”

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On my busiest day, how can I refuse to stop and watch until my heart bursts with the joy of the late summer sunshine, a garden overflowing with flowers and bees and butterflies and my three year old grandson alternately sitting quietly to listen, hands folded in his lap or kneeling down to ask the bee in a cajoling voice “Bee, what are you doing? Are you making honey?”

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Then we have to run and check on Miss Agriope, the beautiful yellow and black spider, an orb weaver who has her web suspended in our flower bed. “Grandma, spiders won’t hurt us. They catch ‘squitos and flies in their web” This is what I have told him and now he repeats it back to me every time we visit the web.

Then it is back to the sedum and the bees. He leans in close and listens. “Grandma“, he says, “What do the bees say?”

They say, I love you, Mason.