Friday, December 25, 2015

Advent-A-Long ~ Finale

And we come to the end of the Advent mitten knitting ~ well, save for the thumb on the second mitten!  Somehow, I managed to mix up the stripes towards the end (now how did I do that?!?) but its okay.  And they fit me, so I'm going to get to keep them for myself.

I adored doing this project, it made me happy the entire way and I'll have such special memories of each time I wear them.  I'm still working on one small gift knitting project that needs to be finished before Sunday, as well as a larger crochet project that's also a gift but in the meantime I want to pick up and finish the Outlander themed sock I began one year ago (can you believe it, it's taken me an entire year and I'm still only half way finished!)  Its a great pattern but a bit fiddly and in black yarn so it's not a carry along project.  Do you remember them, my Black Selkie socks? I know I'll love them when they're finished and I certainly don't want to wait till next Christmas to wear them.

  Merry Christmas to all and any who might be reading this ~ are you already dreaming of what to be knitting, spinning or crochet-ing in 2016? I'd love to hear!  In the coming days, we'll be separating the rams and ewes, the rams will go back to their bachelor quarters and after a few days of tussle they won't mind a bit.  We'll put coats back on them, do our best to keep hay and chaff out of the growing fleeces.  It's been a mild winter here but the fleeces seem very plush to me.

God's love and blessings to you, and if I haven't said it often enough I really appreciate each of you who takes time to read and especially to leave a note! Seems like so many are leaving blogs behind but its still my favorite way to connect.

P.S. To my friend Kate who reads the blog, if you see this post, would you email me Kate?  I've been wanting to ask you about something and know I don't have your email (or its probably changed, lol)  You can reach me at serenityfarmswool @ yahoo dot com Hope to hear from you!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Advent Day 20 and 21

There has been Advent Knitting, just not Advent Blogging! A few of you have asked so I thought I'd better update today ~ it won't be long and this project will be finished.

Here we go

The tea kettle holds my ball of yarn, to keep it from rolling around.  A poor woman's yarn bowl if you will ;)  You can see that one mitten is finished.  The thumb looks pointy in the picture but it actually isn't.  I might mention again, that I love an after thought thumb!

I'm happy to say that the mitten fits me perfectly...I was a bit nervous it was going to be to small, but its fine.  And although I love a finished project as much as the next person, I'm going to be sad to see this one done, its been so enjoyable!  

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Advent Knitting Day 5 and 6

On Day 5 (Saturday), my BBAdventalong knitting went for a walk in the woods with me.  It's unbelievable that in the first week of December we've got no snow on the ground and it's nearly 50 degrees!

My husband has been doing an exceptional job of chosing the yarn parcels each morning, and having fun as well.  He chooses and then I knit while he's eating breakfast.  It only takes about five minutes to knit the few rows on each mitten.

I thought these two small logs had interesting  lichen on them, a nice backdrop for the mitten.

What I've been doing is knitting three rows with the colored yarn, and two rows of the main color charcoal.  I don't have a picture from today (Sunday's) knitting, the color yarn is purple. I also took the opportunity to weave in the ends of the colors I've used so far, keeping things neat.  It won't be very long and I'll put in the placement for the afterthought thumb.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Advent-a-Long Day 2 and 3

My husband, bless his heart, is doing a fantastic job of choosing which bag to open each morning - so far we have glittery green, red and then a jeweled blue.  I didn't get a photo of Thursday's blue, but here is the red and green along with the second stitch marker that I made ~

We're having a lot of fun opening the package of surprise yarn and knitting over coffee in the morning.  I'm loving the way these are coming together with the charcoal grey...I kind of wish I'd done socks now, it seems like they'd be a fun pair to wear through the winter.

Since I didn't get a snapshot of Thursday's blue, I thought instead I'd share a picture of my little yarns gathered together waiting for coffee to finish!

I'm off to a Christmas lunch today, celebrating the Joy it means to us with a small group of friends.  That isn't something I usually do, but I'll admit to looking forward to the time away.  I'll be back with some new pictures later today or else tomorrow.  Did any of you decide to do some Advent along knitting?

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Wool, Mittens and an Advent-a-Long

(This was meant to be shared yesterday, the first of December ~ sigh.  I always seem to be behind these days!)

I might have shared before my love of knitting know, little snippets of the lives of other obsessive knitters and lovers of fibers?  There are so many really great ones that I find myself having to do a forced cut-back of my time on YouTube ;)  That said, there are three, well four now, that I never allow myself to miss.  My friend Sarah at Fiber Trek, because its all about fiber, knitting, spinning and (mostly) grey wool!  One day I hope to be able to sit down with Sarah in the wilds of Maine, or here at the midwest farm house, I think we could talk for days! The elegant and always inspirational Isabelle at Fluffy Fibers - oh my goodness, I just feel so happy after watching and listening to Isabelle!  And she has a very sweet and devoted house kitty who often makes an appearance on the podcast.  I've recently discovered FO and Dye with Dave and Elly, who are so much fun to watch - their podcast is usually short but sweet, they are adorable and I always finish watching them with a smile (one of these days I'm going to treat myself to some of Elly's lovely dyed yarns)  And Elly has beautiful hair ;)

But there is one podcast that is truly an Event, an epic event at that, and that is Dan and Kay of The Bakery Bears Podcast.  Funny, sweet, smart, down to earth, dreamers, visionary, generous, kind, talented...there just aren't enough words to describe this husband and wife team and their darling little girl!  I get the feeling that there aren't enough hours in the day for all that goes on in the creative minds of the Jones' ;)  Really - treat yourself and stop reading my blog right now and go check them out, LOL!  I'll be right here when you're done...

Anyway, the most recent brainstorm from Kay and Dan has been an "Advent Along" for knitters.  If you're a member of Ravelry, you can find the details here.  I decided to participate by knitting a pair of mittens using random bits of mostly hand spun wool.  I've placed my yarns in some of the little drawstring bags I have that my Mom made for me several years ago.  This makes the project extra special - its been five years now since we lost Mom, and I can think of her each day when I open one up to knit from.  I decided to make myself some stitch markers as well and you can see those below ~

I think the little bead looks like a Christmas ornament!  Anyway, I put all my yarns in a basket (you see them in the first picture above) and Bill is helping me by choosing which bag I'll use every morning.  So far, excitingly enough, the yarn has been first green with some bits of gold angelina and then red - can you imagine?!?  My main color is charcoal grey wool and mohair, so I'm alternating three rows of the "surprise" colored yarn minis with two rows of the main color charcoal.  Knitting top down (my favorite way, now, of making mittens) It really only takes about five minutes of knitting time - it's actually most difficult to put them away and not keep knitting!  I'm going to attempt to post just a little update each day and to cheerfully say hello, so be sure to check back.  And I really don't think its to late for you to join along for a few minutes of "stash-down" knitting between now and Christmas if you wanted to.  I'll probably share a few other knitting podcasts that I don't usually miss.

And finally, during this season of Advent ~

"The Lord GOD will wipe away
the tears from all faces;
The reproach of his people he will remove
from the whole earth; for the LORD has spoken" Isaiah 25

Note: I didn't post links with the podcasts because my laptop is being funny about it.  If you search for any of them by name on YouTube they should be easy to find.

Friday, November 27, 2015

'Tis A Gift...

After a small, but lovely, Thanksgiving meal with just the two of us at the table...prayers for our children and families...after dishes are cleared a pot of coffee making and outdoors in the fresh air to do the chores.

So many blessings, so much to be thankful for ~ including all of you my readers and far flung friends!

"Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
  'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

'Tis the gift to have friends and a true friend to be,
'Tis the gift to think of others not to only think of "me",
And when we hear what others really think and really feel,
Then we'll all live together with a love that is real...."

(A special hello to my friend Susan! )

Monday, August 31, 2015

August This Year

And so we come to the end of another month ~ August seemed to go by in a blur.  I don't have anything clever to write about but I do have a few pictures to share from the month gone by.  Some knitting, some spinning, a new sheep to the flock.  Market lambs are all sold and the pastures are quiet again, that's nice.  Hay is laying in the field, not being baled because of rain...that's not so nice and could become an issue.  Lots of green tomatoes on the vine, they need the sun and heat but I sure have been enjoying the cooler than normal temperatures - we even had a fire one night to knit by.

The phlox is beautiful again this year!

A new double daylily, this one bloomed a long time.

Nothing beats the old Royal Standard Hosta

A new planting, love the Stokes Aster
Any day now, these Cherokee Purple tomatoes will be ripe!

Another Simmer Dim shawl for a new Outlander reader

Knitting on the porch, sheep in pasture, Corriedale wool

Crazy new sheep "Maril" a black Finn and Edwina's chicken butt!

And there you have it, a snapshot of August!  What did your August look like?  I do know that going forward into September, with only a week until the new school year here in mid-Michigan (and our Colorado boys already back to class) it's a time I want to spend in prayer for our kids going back to school.  We need God's help and care more than ever, it seems, and I don't want to be a Granny who fails in that department!  I can't go to the classroom with them but I can send them surrounded with the armor of God!

Gonna miss my guys when they're back in school...I get pretty used to having them here with me every day.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Random Sheep

Hello!  How is everyone this summer?  We're doing well here at the farm, I think.  To much to say, not enough to say...I'm not sure which it is for this blog post but I thought I'd at least sit down and share some random sheep shots (photos) from my camera.  I hope you enjoy them...

From top to bottom, they are Hannah and her twins, ram and ewe.  We only had three white lambs born this year (I used a natural colored ram on everyone)  These two are stunning.  Second photo is our dear Ainsley (center of photo), oldest girl in the flock now, surrounded by yearlings.  Third photo shows how big the lambs are getting.  Only two months old in this picture!  Everyone has their heads buried in hay because I had to shut them out of pasture for a few days while we clipped weeds.  Lots of rain and lots of growth this year and with fewer sheep, they just aren't keeping ahead of it (a good problem to have actually!)  And lastly, I had to sleep in a fiber picture, didn't I?  Corriedale locks, washed and combed, and just a dream to spin!

As usual, these photographs show our flock of Corriedale sheep and their wool.  Be back soon with some finished knitting projects and hopefully more lamb pics!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Nearing the Edge

So very excited (and sad) to be nearing the finish of "Mo Nighean Donn", my half-hap shawl.

Pattern:  Half Hansel by Gudrun Johnson
Inspiration:  Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Yarn:  Serenity Farms Corriedale (our farm yarn)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Delicious Success!

Caramel-Sea Salt Macaron
I owe many thanks to Angela at Parisienne Farmgirl for my newly discovered delicious obsession ~ French Macarons!  Her tutorial is delightful, helpful, fun and inspiring and my first attempts at these delicate treats was a success*.  You would not believe how quickly my family devoured them and were begging for more (I couldn't believe it myself, one minute I had a tray full of cookies, the next only crumbs)!  I must oblige, mustn't I?  

If somehow you've never visited the Parisienne Farmgirl's family farm blog, you really should right now...And if you want to lose yourself in the love of a decadent little treat, take her tutorial on how to make the cookies (its worth it just to watch her adorable children gobbling them up at the end, LOL!)  You can find it at the link above. 

*I will say that my cookies spread a bit and so were a little larger than the bite size I intended.  It was a humid day when I made these and I think I should have whipped the egg whites just a little longer.  Angela has included troubleshooting tips in the video, very helpful.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Outlander ~Listening, Reading, Watching...Knitting

I should have learned by now not to say I'm going to do something by a certain time or date, because it just never seems to happen (like the knitting I wanted to share with you).  But finally, here I am...

Last year, as I mentioned, I discovered knitting podcasts.  There are so many good ones, I could never begin to list them all and there are new ones all the time I enjoy checking out.  There are three or four I follow faithfully, but the one that's at the top of my list is Sarah's FiberTrek video podcast.  Where to begin, its just soooo good!  There's Sarah, the host.  She loves wool.  She loves grey wool (maybe not exclusively but best).  She loves sheep and wool.  She lives in a ruggedly beautiful part of Maine and enjoys a wood fire.  And she's made it her mission in life to take others on this almost spiritual journey of wool and its traditions.  I certainly feel like she's become a friend.  She shares lots of things on her podcasts, but there was one thing she shared last fall that started me on a roller coaster ride of fiction and the renewed love of reading I spoke about in the earlier post.  That fiction was the series Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.

I loved it!  Fell down the rabbit hole and haven't come out yet ;)  It is not light reading.  It's long; detailed; historic; colorful; funny; loving and heart-wrenching.  A major character, especially in the first book, is the country of Scotland - if you didn't love Scotland previous to reading, you probably will after!  I've enjoyed these books so much.  Although the stories began twenty-five or so years ago, there was a new television series starting up in August (of last year).  This inspired a lot of knitters and yarn companies, so there were Outlander themed colorways for yarn and patterns and knit-a-longs.   Some really neat patterns have come about because of the television show and I've knit a few of those.  Even made mittens of my own design that were inspired by a costume in one of the episodes.  But I've had the most fun seeking out patterns that I already had or already wanted to knit that reminded me of passages from the books.  It's been something like a scavenger hunt!  So while I didn't "knit Outlander" exclusively for the past eight months, it has been a focus.  Those projects are the ones I want to show you now...and dedicate, with much gratitude, to Sarah ;)

Getting ready for some Outlander knitting - books, yarn, pattern, stitch markers, fire in the fireplace...
September Simmer Dim pattern by Gudrun Johnson

(You should be able to click on the highlighted title of the projects to see a Ravelry page link with more information about it)  This was the first thing my daughter and I worked on for knit-night with an Outlander theme here at the farm.  It was a nod to a chapter in The Fiery Cross (book five of the series) titled “Summer Dim” in which Jamie (our hero) says to his wife Claire (our heroine) “Ye’ll ken the summer in the Highlands, Sassenach - the summer dim?” She nods and remembers “that the summer dim was the light of the Highland night, late in summer.”  I'd had this pattern in my Ravelry queue and saw it on my friend Lori's blog when she took a trip to the Shetland Islands.  I loved everything about this little shawl and plan to make another, possibly with thicker yarn and bigger needles to get a larger garment.  This one was gifted to a friend. The color is actually deep reds, russets and auburns, maybe a bit of gold.

Gathering Thyme and Black Kirk Cowl pattern by Kalurah Hudson

This pattern was inspired by a cowl worn by Claire in the television series and it's knit on super big needles!  The pattern writer very kindly offered it for free and so I gave it a try.  Very fast, very simple - not flattering to this chubby farm wife at all though, LOL!  I've given both of mine away, but here they are, our October Outlander knitting projects ~

The first (left) was made with bulky, unspun roving but it was very loose and floppy, so I tried tucking it in like a scarf rather than around the neck like a cowl.  Made on the recommended size 50 needles.  For the second one (below), I went down to size 35 needles and held some black Corriedale yarn doubled.  This made for a much better cowl fabric but still made me look like I was wearing a tire around my neck, LOL!

Outlander Cowl by Andee Fagen was our November project and the start of it is pictured at the beginning of this blog post.  I began making it along with a few others while listening to another favorite podcast Disa's Craftwork but I didn't like how it was working with my chosen yarn.  It's a beautiful pattern though, so I hope to start over with it and a different yarn sometime in the future.

Now comes two projects that are still on the needles, in progress, though they were started in December.  First off, a Christmas Eve sock cast-on with the Bakery Bears and Little Bobbins podcasts, these are my Black Selkie Socks , pattern by Alison Janocha.  I'm totally in love with these, even though the pattern doesn't really show in my black yarn.  This is farm yarn, a blend of Corriedale and Alpaca that I had made with my friend Maple at North Star Alpacas.  It's really nice, all natural black and feels so good to knit with.  I considered making this as a mitten pattern, but was needing a new pair of hand knit socks.  I was making great progress, too,  and then must have gotten caught up watching the series because I totally messed up the heel!  Now I need to take that out (not easy with sticky black yarn) and reknit it.  But I will...

The books speak of "selkies" quite often and in reference to Jamie's father, Black Brian.  Its what made me think of these for Outlander knitting.

And then I saw these magnificent mittens!  From The Castle Fraser Throughout The Year The Woodcarving by Aurelie Colas - I knew these had to be an Outlander project!  Bought the pattern, chose my yarn....and could not get gauge, not even close ;(  The mittens would have been the size of oven mitts and its a very detailed pattern, so I didn't feel I could successfully change it to make mittens that would fit me.  I could, however, make a cowl!  So that's the plan for this, a cowl and probably a lined one.  It's in time out right now, though, because it takes a lot of concentration.  My photo doesn't show much, other than some of the colors I'm using for it.

Wedding Plaid Mittens by me

January found me still working on my socks, but also a new pair of mittens, something I made up myself.  I wanted to make a pair of plaid mittens and couldn't find a pattern I liked that didn't include either intarsia or duplicate stitch.  So I just used my basic mitten pattern with afterthought thumbs and added some blocks of color.  I intended to line these, but they're just a bit small.  They'll be gifted to my daughter who has smaller hands than I do.

I'm really happy with the way they turned out, even though I made a couple of mistakes in the colorwork (maybe you can spot where in the photo)  One mitten has garter rows on the cuff, the other a picot hem and I like the picot best.  These are meant to symbolize Jamie's wedding plaid from the first book, and the picot hem is the lace cuff of his borrowed shirt.  Now in the book, Jamie's plaid was "a brilliant crimson and black that blazed among the more sedate green and white".  In the television series they went with blues, browns and a touch of red (you can read more about the costuming and see some stunning photos at this wonderful blog.  Really, you should take a look!)  I made the first pair of mittens in "show colors", but the second pair that I just started are red, black and grey so those are my February project along.

But knitting for myself is something I've set aside for Lent, I'm only working on projects intended for someone else.  I'm working on a blanket for my grandson and gloves for my son-in-law (neither of them Outlander related).  A third pattern, though, is a pair of mittens inspired by A Breath of Snow and Ashes (book six)  

All queued up for April, when Lent is over, are two more shawls.  Outlander Hap - Mo Nighean Donn is another pattern by Gudrun Johnson, based on a traditional Shetland Hap.  I've knit a mini-hap for a gauge swatch, color test and I like it very much.  I'm using natural colored brown Corriedale, along with silver, moorit (auburn) and gold.  Fans of Outlander know that Jamie calls his wife, Claire, "Mo Nighean Donn - my brown haired lass" and tells her that her hair is “dark in the wavy spots with bits of silver on the surface…”  The gold yarn is for her "great, gold eyes"  I'm excited for this one, participating in a knit-a-long with Gudrun's Shetland Trader Hap kal on Ravelry .  I was also going to make this my Hap pattern for KnitBritish wonderful Hap KAL (be sure to check out her podcast, its another of my favorites) that starts in April, but now I'm thinking I'll make my second Simmer Dim for that instead.  I have some handspun I've set aside for that and I like the idea of beginning and ending my Outlander themed knits with the same pattern.  What do you guys think?

I hope you've enjoyed taking a look through my knitting!  These aren't the only things I've knit or crocheted this winter, but the main ones and like I said it's been a lot of fun seeking out patterns to relate to a favorite passage or memory from the books.  I hope if you're a knitter you might check out some of these great patterns on Ravelry or even join in one of the knit-a-longs.  And if you're at all interested in podcasts, the ones I've mentioned are truly joyful as well as many others.  If there are any you follow, please feel free to share!  Edited 3-5 to correct some spelling and grammar

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Waiting On The Knitting....

Skype Hat with Lining
Took an unplanned trip to the fiber mill yesterday followed by a 6th Grade Band Concert with my grandson so I only have the knitting and podcast post half done, but I'm working on it now.  Truthfully though, I'd rather be knitting than writing about knitting today, LOL!  I think the new post will be up by this afternoon....

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Discovering A Thing Or Two

Like most bloggers, things pop into my head all the time that I'd love to share ~ new ideas; new discoveries; new or old recipes; a favorite garden plant; everyday things around the farm and special things around the farm.  As a knitter, there are tons of things I'd love to share (new pattern, new yarn, new techniques, new ways of doing old know how it goes!)  And then I never sit down and actually put the things on paper - actually on screen ;)  You know how it goes.

Well, today since I've got a little time to spend sitting at the desk I thought I would put down some things that have made a difference in my life in the past few months that still are making me smile.  And then I'm going to share those knitting projects that I mentioned to you in my last post.  

Here we go (and these are in no particular order other than how I'm thinking of them!)  First of all, Tubular Cast On in the round for knitting.  How, I ask myself, in all my years of knitting, did I not know about this?!?  Those of you who are knitters, did you already know about the tubular cast on?  It makes such a lovely edge for things like hats, mitten cuffs and sweater cuffs (on those sweaters that I tell myself I'll finish and wear one day!)  There are lots of tutorials on line, both written and video, so if you haven't tried it before do a search and then give a try.  Let me know what you think.

Another joy, this one in the cooking/recipe department.  Skillet Apple Pie.  Made in the cast iron skillet.  I'll probably never make apple pie any other way again!

Darn it!  Now I'm hungry...
Now this next is actually an acquisition, lots of people have them I suppose, but its new to my family and me and it sure has changed our lives.  And that is a van with a Wheelchair Lift in it!  What a blessing it is to me, I can't begin to tell you.  My husbands wheelchair is very heavy and  I guess I'm not getting any younger.  Lifting the manual chair was really putting a strain on me but now we have a lift that works for either the manual chair or the motorized one when he decides to take that.  I'm so very thankful.  LOL, we will not be hauling sheep in this van!

Podcasts!  I've discovered the world of podcasts, more specifically knitting podcasts.  What an absolute delight!!!  Knitting company no matter the time or day, no matter the weather or how far apart we are ~ someone to share the joy of yarn and patterns and gadgets, and in some cases fibers and spinning.  Do you listen to or watch any?  There are so many good ones, but I have a few that I never miss.  I'll share those with you when I share the knitting projects because they really are tied together at this point.

And that leads me to a rediscovery, rather like finding an old friend ~ Reading.   This is in part because one of my favorite podcasters (thank you, Sarah!) simply recommended a book that led me down the path of reading again!  Reading for the simple joy of a story, for the love of characters and settings.  Reading not because I have to, or to learn something, but because someone recommends a book they think I'll like or re-reading a book I loved the first time around (To Kill A Mockingbird, Little Women, Gone With The Wind or Giant.  My Friend Flicka; Thunderhead, Son of Flicka and Green Grass of Wyoming.  Ken Follett's Eye Of The Needle.  The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford and Old Yeller).  Those are books I loved the first two or three or four times I read I'm loving them again, at least I will as long as my eyes hold out!  My goodness my eyes get tired, even with new glasses.  I know, I know there are audio books but I don't care for them.  Put me to sleep every time!  Plus I can't wake up in the  middle of the night, switch on the light and turn the page quietly ;)  One exception is The Bible - I do love listening to Scripture on audio.  Recently my husband and I have been listening to the Gospels during supper.  A nice ritual for us.

So the podcasts and the knitting projects and the reading are all connected for me right now, and you'll see what I mean when you see what I've been knitting.  But looking back over this post, its getting rather long - how about if I make another post with the knitting tomorrow?  Just to keep your eyes from crossing, listening to me ramble on, LOL!  Will you come back to see?  I hope so!  And please, share with me any new or rediscovered things going on in your life!

In the meantime, I'll leave you with a final new-old favorite ~ Fresh Basil.  I can't seem to get enough of it, and even have some growing on the windowsill for the winter time.  Basil in chicken salad is absolutely divine!

See you here tomorrow for some knit-sharing!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Step by Step in the Snow

I miss blogging!  I miss reading other people's blogs, especially favorites that I've followed for a long time - I just need to quit thinking about it and get back to it...

We've had a pretty good winter so far, how about you?  It's been much better than last year, in many more ways than one!  I celebrated a birthday last month, quietly, and I enjoy that.   I've been doing a LOT of knitting and even some spinning and I can't wait to share that with you, if anyone is still reading ;)