Gardening and a YOP Update

This pretty yellow flowering shrub is not Forsythia! I thought it was, but I was told it’s Spice Bush, a native understory shrub, Lindera benzoin. (Someone commented on my Instagram photo and corrected me, thankfully.) We do seem to have a Forsythia on the other side of our property, though. Once everything is in full bloom I’ll do some pruning and take a photo so we can compare them.

This may not look like much, but I spent several hours digging up the weeds in the garden so I could plant the peas and cabbage and kale. Unfortunately, there’s a layer of clay under the top soil, and we haven’t had any new garden soil delivered yet. So even though I went ahead and planted them, we may not have any peas, cabbage, and kale this year. I’m really proud of myself for digging this up on my own and I only had a little help from Bob, who worked for 10-15 minutes to dig up a huge root system of some old ground cover. It looked like tree roots, it was so big! He broke the pitchfork handle trying to wrest it from its iron tentacle grip. Once he got it up, he shouted at it, “I beat you, you ol’ stump!” Which is a reference to my favorite scene in “Drag Me to Hell.” I haven’t laughed so hard in ages.

Fiber Art

I felted a new piece today. This is a peek at some unfelted fiber since I’m not showing the work until the show starts.

Knitting

When I started getting excited about knitting again, in 2018 I went to A Wool Gathering with my friend Sara. While we were there I picked up two hanks of this linen and cotton slubby yarn with the intention of making a simple drapey top to throw over tank tops in the summer. I finally cast on yesterday. I’m counting this toward design since I knit a gauge swatch, calculated the width I want, and cast on the number of stitches — even though it’s literally two squares of stockinette seamed at the sides and shoulders. The most basic design ever. Gotta start somewhere, right?

Other than that, I’m knitting away on Water and my Malabrigo Rikke hat.

Sewing

I don’t have any new sewing to show, but I’ve got Water KAL bags to make and I want to cut out my overalls this week.

This has been a Year of Projects Update. You can read my updated list here. You can find out more about the group here.

Yesterday we met one of our neighbors. He mentioned our lot might have been a cemetery at one time? Which explains the limestone pillars. It’s just a rumor, but hopefully we won’t dig up any old bones! No, our house isn’t haunted. I also got bitten by one of his dogs. This was not his fault, as she was on a leash and I stupidly reached down to pet her. His other dog, though, a bulldog named Hammy, was off leash but friendly and adorable. Have you ever been bitten by a dog? It was my first time. I have a small tooth shaped hole in my arm. I will be more cautious about dogs now!

Put a Pom Pom on it!

In the before times, you wouldn’t have caught me with a phony fur pom pom on my head. Or, for that matter, speckles in my yarn or a fade on my being. But I can admit when I’m wrong. I was wrong about these things.

You know why? Because knitting should be whatever makes us happy. I think I was taking my knitting WAY too seriously, don’t you? So here’s my Kenora Toque in Rauma Strikkegarn with a pom pom! (Rav link)

Very happy and look how well it matches my duffle coat.

I’m also really, really excited to tell you I am now on the sleeves of my Turtledove! I cannot wait to wear this so I will probably focus on it until I finish it. It’s very soft and squishy. Also, I want you to know, that after knitting the Cocoknits method, I will never, ever try to pick up and knit underarm stitches again. I will (and did) cast on enough stitches on the sleeve to match the underarm, then I will seam it when I’m done. That way I won’t have those weird holes and ladders that I can’t unsee and pretend aren’t there.

Speaking of fades, I’ve decided to knit a Boxy fade (Rav link). I splurged on a yarn fade bundle from La Bien Aimee. It’s my first time ordering from her, but I’ve been drooling since Knit City.

I also ordered some really nice plaid flannel fabric that I had intended to make PJs with, but it is too nice. It wants to be a dress. So I’m sewing this raglan dress. I love it so much, I also ordered some beautiful blue cotton shirting to make a summertime one. I have a lot of projects to add to my Year of Projects list, don’t I?

I’ve been a little down lately, so I haven’t been blogging much. That probably explains all the splurging. I have one last splurge to share.

This print is from a UK artist who made this for Shetland Wool Week 2020. I’ve been waiting for her Etsy shop to be restocked. Now I just have to find a suitable frame. I will hang it in my studio and gaze upon it lovingly and sigh.

How are you doing? Are you okay? I haven’t really been that okay, and a friend recently asked me straight up how I was. It helped to just be able to say, I am not okay. We lost a family member recently, a dear “Uncle” who was technically not my biological uncle, but he was my Dad’s best friend, and my best friend’s Dad, and definitely an important Uncle to me. We were close when we lived in Oklahoma City, and he was there for me during my separation and divorce, and helped me get back on my feet financially. He helped us get back on our feet financially after my Dad died, too, though I was too young to understand that at the time. So, feeling sad but appreciative. Godspeed Uncle Jack. ❤

Also, I am feeling depleted. As I am sure many of us are after a year of living through a pandemic.

But how are you? Please spill your beans in the comments, if you like.

Knit City Update

This post is an update to my post yesterday.

I am really loving my classes at KnitCity. In addition to Fair Isle Techniques with MJ Mucklestone yesterday, I took Combining Creativity and Culture with Francoise Danoy from Aroha Knits. I enjoyed learning about Maori culture and her design process. I asked her about cultural appropriation. She said she only shares Maori symbols that are okay for anyone to wear, and since she is of Maori descent, she feels supporting her with a purchase of her designs that feature Maori motifs is cultural appreciation, not appropriation, I appreciated her response to that, as it is a topic that comes up a lot in fair trade. I also fell in love with her Ocean Pathways Cowl (Ravelry link) which I’m going to add to my queue.

The happy hour with The Grocery Girls, GG Made It, and La Bien Aimee had over 500 participants! It was a lot of fun, and I think they did a good job trying to make sure everyone felt welcome and had a good time.

My Hansel Hap colors, although I’m using the russet color in J&S not Devonia which is a different fiber content. Except for the fawn katmoget Shetland hanks which I purchased from Ramsey Farms for Shave’Em to Save’Em, this is yarn from my stash and turned out to be perfect together.

Yesterday was Sheep School with Anna Hunter and Shetland Hap Overview with Gudrun Johnson. I learned a lot in both classes. I’m going to start my Hansel Hap soon, and maybe start my farm life in a year or two with chickens, which Anna calls “the gateway animal”. I also took a natural dye garden class with Caitlin Ffrench, and I learned I can use apple tree bark for pink – which I didn’t know – and our black walnut hulls and leaves in dyeing, which I knew but haven’t started collecting. These will be fun things to try that are already growing here. We’ve got a lot of work ahead already just clearing the woods and getting the garden ready for planting.

Today my classes are 5 Steps in Choosing Colors in Fair Isle Knitting with MJ Mucklestone and Wool Traceability with Anna Hunter. I’m sure they will be great. I’ve been really impressed with this event, the teachers, the content, and the professionalism of the event organizers and platform. Maybe some day I’ll be able to attend a Knit City in person!

Note to future Alissa: maybe take less classes next time? They are great but I’m feeling a little overwhelmed. Today I may attend in PJs with the camera off.

Happy Blogversary to Me!

Today is my 4 year blogversary on WordPress! This photo has nothing to do with that, but I got dressed up today and wanted to share. It’s also Friday Eve and it’s been a really long week. I’m sitting next to a fire with a glass of wine and a cat on my lap. I also might have rearranged the furniture so I could be closer to the fire. One more day, then it’s going to be a PJriffic weekend with lots of stitching.

Happy New Year!

My word for 2021 is content, both adjective and noun.

Noun: state of mind which results from satisfaction with present circumstances

Adjective: having the desire limited to present enjoyments

It’s even a verb: to rest or be satisfied; to give satisfaction to

Content is related intent, from the root word tenere, to hold or stretch. Intent is focusing on stretching outward, while content is focusing on holding. So my intention for 2021 is to focus on what I have and be content. I feel I don’t do this enough, and it prevents me from really enjoying my life as it is. I want to slow down a little, settle in, and focus on the content of my life and find the joy there. I’m in a good place right now, and I am grateful for that.

Today we’re eating black eyed peas and greens, and I hope to Skype with kids. I will call my Mom and sister. And I will knit! I hope you have a wonderful day, and wish you a happy and healthy new year!

Tree Farm Socks

📸 Natalie Sheldon

I had a “lemonade from lemons” moment last week while driving my youngest to and from school. Her car is in the shop after the accident. This drive is significant, about 45 minutes each way. I noticed a sign for a tree farm I had never seen before. On the third driving day, I finally spotted the tree farm on the way home. It’s so cheery. We opted for an artificial tree this year for the first time. I miss the trip to pick out a tree. Do you think the tree farm would mind if we came in and walked around for a bit? Maybe they have swags for sale? I will let you know if I am able to visit the tree farm. Tree Farm Socks (Ravelry link)

Moondrake Yarn Advent Day 15

Thankful Thanksgiving

Two of our ten delightful children we are thankful for today.

I hope you are having a nice Thanksgiving. Bob cooked. (I made cranberry sauce.) We delivered food to kids. I took a few photos and they look like Portraits of a Pandemic Thanksgiving. I finished a sock and started a second. I knit a present for a friend. I can’t post it because it’s a surprise. I watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. My belly is full, we’re watching the Mystery Science Theater 3000 marathon, and I’m waiting for my meal to digest so I can have pumpkin pie. I have a lot to be thankful for, and I am thankful.

I recently subscribed to National Geographic. I’ve always loved this publication, even though I’d forgotten about it for a couple of decades. It’s incredibly affordable ($3 per month) includes the print copy plus online subscriber content, and I can specify which content I prefer (archaeology, history, science, photography). After I subscribed, I ran around the house shouting, “I’ve been nominated for membership in the National Geographic Society! Only us explorers can get it!” If you can name that film, I will send you something special in the mail. If you are interested in an updated Thanksgiving story, here’s one for you. 400 years on, the Pilgrims get a reality check. “Good History Upsets Everyone.”

Here’s another cool thing that showed up in my inbox today: Native Land Map

I’m thankful for you, Blogville!

Wednesday WIP

I learned a new thing, Judy’s Magic Cast On. I woke up early and decided to use my freshly caffeinated morning brain to do the new thing so I could get rolling on my Mom’s Franca cardigan. This yarn is so soft. I may need to knit one for myself.

This photo is from Tuesday, and in fact I’m posting this Tuesday and scheduling for Wednesday. Dear Future Alissa, if you don’t know the election results yet, don’t dismay. It may take a few days.

Last Day of Staycation: A List and some Pics

  1. I framed my felt piece and I love it. Thanks to everyone who left kind comments and bolstered my confidence. My friend Sharon said (in our Mother Artists at Work private group to everyone) “Be proud of your work!” She’s right. We should all be proud of our work.

2. I’m going to try to make 2-3 more pieces before the end of the year. This will help me gauge if a solo show next September is something I can manage.

3. I mended my favorite thrift store cardigan with the help of a Katrinkles’ Darning Loom. It accidentally? came out in the shape of Ohio. When Hannah told me she liked visible mending, I didn’t think I would like it. I was wrong. I like it! The gold is my turmeric dyed Cotswold. Also, elbow patch.

4. Bob and I hiked a total of 20 miles while we were on vacation. I will be applying these to my Move 4 Fair Trade mileage.

5. I voted by mail. I followed all of the instructions and took it in person to the post office. That was on October 7. I have been tracking my ballot, and it still hasn’t been marked as received. If my vote hasn’t been registered as counted by November 2, I guess I will be voting in person on November 3.

These are my anniversary gifts from Bob: a silly shirt that reflects my philosophy of life and the new Bill Callahan album.

Here is our Halloween watched list so far:

I will continue to add to this list and post it again at the end of the month.

Are you watching any spooky or spoopy stuff for Halloween?

The Doldrums of Creativity: A YOP Update

View from our driveway. We live here! 🍂🍁

I had so many creative plans for this staycation. Then, at some point last week, I stopped doing anything productive. I read an entire book in one sitting, and I hiked. I don’t regret it.

Felting

Haze Over Maize, Granville 2020: wool and cotton floss

I finished a piece for the upcoming group art show. I was trying to skip the photo stage and create something from inspiration. I spent a lot of time stitching on it. I enjoyed the process as it was very meditative. It is too big for my barnwood shadow box frames, so I had to order a new one. This turned out pretty much how I imagined it.

I tried felting angora yesterday, as an experiment, and it was a disaster.

Knitting

I’ve almost finished my first Halloween sock! 🎉 And I have cast on almost all the October things.

Today this blog post about The Doldrums of Creativity was in my inbox. (FYI When I share things, I do not get compensated in any way. I’m not an influencer or anything like that.) It was a helpful read. I really like the part about having faith in your ideas.

This has been a Year of Projects Update. You can read my original list here. You can find out more about the group here.

Blogville Knitters Skype today at 1PM Eastern! Then my kids will be here for tofu Sloppy Joe’s and Nightmare Before Christmas.

My mums did not disappoint this year.