Saturday, January 15, 2011

Windy, snowy and cold!

It's such a blustery day here in mid-Michigan today! Although the sun was out earlier this afternoon, it snowed hard from about 4 am till 9 am and brought us a few new inches of fresh clean powder. Now the wind has picked up and the temperatures have dropped....brrrr! Makes me awfully glad for wool socks and wool sweaters to throw on against the chill of an old farm house!

I didn't even venture out to take a picture, but if I did it would have looked something like this ~

Or this ~

Funny thing, though, the sheep sleep outside in this weather even though they have free choice of being inside the barn or out. This morning they were big blobs of snow covered woolies, chewing their cuds and waiting for me to start chores.

Supper tonight is Swiss Steak made with beef that comes from the farmer who puts up our hay. Along with tomato soup canned right here in this kitchen and onions, peppers, carrots and corn put up from our garden or the garden of extended family. The peas are from a can though. I prefer canned peas and don't take time to preserve this particular vegetable ;) Was going to have mashed potatoes with it, but we changed our mind and wanted dumplings instead. They are simmering away on top of the mix right now.

Now if we only had some of that homemade apple crisp leftover for dessert! do you make Swiss Steak? Or what do you think of when you hear Swiss Steak? My mom always made it with a tomato base (in this case, I used home canned tomato soup) along with onions, peas and carrots and usually over mashed potatoes. But I know others who have a mushroom-onion type sauce (though to my mind, this is more of a Salisbury Steak. I'd love to hear how you do it, or how you think of it!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Year ~ Old Projects

It has been kind of fun to look back over my January postings here at the Blog to see what projects, knitting and spinning, I have finished and which ones I have abandoned. It seems to be a theme with me to review those at the beginning of each year and I thought I might as well keep up the "tradition"

I am not a big project kind of person, for the most part. I don't make large elaborate sweaters, or shawls, or afghans - at least not often. I do like socks and mittens and cowls or neckwarmers. Hats sometimes, though I never seem to get hats just right and they are either to big or to small. I have come to realize, too, after my early knitting obsession with lace that I really don't care for small yarn and small needles ;) Need to really consider that one and if I come to peace with it, there may be some really lovely laceweight yarns for sale one of these days!

Anyway, back to some of the projects I have been working on recently.

Here is one of my very favorites, probably because it was a "sheep to mitt" project - a home raised sheep, handwashed fleece, combed into lovely top that I then spun and navajo-plyed and knit:

The pattern is Cuppa Joe Mitts by Anne Podlesak (Wooly Wonka Fibers) from the new online spinning knitting magazine Ennea Collective If you haven't checked out Ennea, do so right away! There have been two issues published so far and it is a very enjoyable and informative resource. They also have a Ravelry group here. Anne's blog is one of my favorites and I have followed it for a long time, so it was fun to knit one of her patterns. The yarn is 100% Corriedale lamb from one of Violet's lambs, Freddie.

Another project I worked on and finished were these mittens made from 100% CVM pencil roving from my friend Bonnie's Sheepy Thyme Farm. The pattern will be available in kit form from Bonnie soon, with the roving to knit them from. The pattern has directions for both the fingerless model shown and full mittens as well. I have been playing around with a matching neckwarmer pattern but haven't gotten that just right yet:

This pencil roving is so nice to work with, light and fluffy, and unlike others I have used it holds together nicely even if you have to frog or tink back. I would like to try overdyeing some to see how it comes out!

Something else I have really enjoyed this past year is the wool-a-long in the Knitters Book of Wool group over at Ravelry. Do you know about this book? Do you own it yet? If you don't, and you enjoy wool at any stage, then you need to get your hands on a copy. Written by Clara Parkes of Knitters Review fame, it is a treasure...and so is the Ravelry group with a fun and kind group of enablers - um, I mean knitters/spinners and others join together to try a different wool each month. I have not participated every month, but these are projects I have worked on:

The wool for January 2011 is Finnsheep wool and I am knitting these Honeycomb Finn Mittens with yarn I spun from rovings purchased at both Bella Vita Farms and Stillmeadow Finnsheep. Love the wool, love the yarn, love the pattern (I have made it before) I am nearly finished with the pair of mittens and I have enough white roving from Bella Vita to spin up some sock yarn and start the Windjammer Socks pattern on January 15th with some other Ravelers. Check out the group if you would like to join in, too!

Dorset wool was one of my surprise favorites from the wool-a-long, maybe because I am lucky enough to have a friend who raises old-fashioned Horned Dorset sheep. I bought some Dorset lambswool roving from Cindy at Ewe and I Farm in New Hampshire to make these Sweet Fern Mitts from the book. I spun and navajo plyed the yarn for a nice round yarn that shows the cables well.

I call them Sweet Gracie Mitts because Gracie is the name of the sheep that donated the wool ;)

One ongoing project from the book is my Comfy Corriedale Cardy. Although we have not (yet!) studied Corriedale, you all know it is my favorite wool so I chose it for this pattern. This is a great sweater so far and is quite mindless for the most part, so I pick it up and work on it occasionally. I had kind of hoped to have it finished by my birthday later this month but not sure that will happen. This photo is just a beginning shot. The wool is 100% chocolate brown Corriedale from Ainsley in her younger days (she is much more grey now)

These are not the only knitting and spinning projects I have started or completed but just a few I thought I would take time to share here. I will leave this post with some pictures of a delicious roving I treated myself to and have been spinning. It is called Cathedral and is a merino-yak blend from the earlier mentioned Wooly Wonka Fibers. It is a dream to spin and super soft, so I have to chose the project carefully, one that will show of the yarn and be next to my skin so I can savor it. Stay warm and hope you have enjoyed seeing just a few of my winter time projects! What are you working on?