Excerpt from my Nature Journal

Excerpt from my nature journal::

A damp chill fills the air as the sun sets in soft pastels across the shores of the lake.

A fog has settled in among the nearby field of native wild grasses.

The fires crackle in a rhythmic chant and the smoke does it's best to keep the mosquitoes at bay.

It's almost dark now, that time just before pitch black when you really can't see anything except...

Across the campground, flashlights dance like fireflies as children settle into their tents playing shadow puppets.  Mine included.  Good night my loves.

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{this moment}

Inspired by soulemama: {this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wishing you a glorious weekend!  

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At the Lake

One of the benefits of living in Wisconsin is that where ever we go, we're always just a stones throw away from a lake!  We're also so grateful that Grandma and Grandpa {who are retired this year} live on a lake only 15 minutes away!!  This week especially, as the warm water days are quickly coming to an end, we've been spending every single day near the water.  

{A few of our summer lake adventures}

We're headed out to a different beach again today to enjoy the last of the 80 degree days.  I can smell the changing seasons in the air.  The maples, sumac and poplar trees are already turning their fiery shades of red and yellow. It won't be long now... until we're snow shoeing and ice fishing at the lake!

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Strawberry Jam

Trying to hold on to every little last bit of summer, the boys and I decided to try making jam again yesterday.  With a mama who would rather just wing it, we haven't ever been very successful in getting the jam to set properly, but I have high hopes for this batch.  I read the directions and hovered like a mama hawk as the boys measured and mixed, not wanting to waste any of those precious berries.  

If this batch turns out, I'm going to put up many, many more jars using the blackberries we picked back in July.  Oh, what a treat it will be to have a little bit of summer's delight atop a warm biscuit on a cold snowy day in January! 

What have you been canning right now?

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Hand Dyeing Yarn with Kids

The methodical rhythm of the paint brush has become a much loved tradition for the kids and me on yarn dyeing day.  Two extra skeins for each dye session are ordered and set aside.  The children excitedly and knowingly ask if I set aside a skein for them.  Each child chooses their own color palate and the dyes are mixed in easy to access pans.  I stand back in amazement at how each boy manipulates the color, completely uninhibited.  

Watching their body go in waves of tension and relaxation... oh how I wonder where their mind is off to while creating art.  Sometimes I hear soft whispers, "I wonder what will happen if..."

After all the yarn has been painted, steamed, cooled, washed and dried the boys admire their work.  Sometimes they name each piece.  And sometimes they decide they'd like to sell it in my shop; as Luke has done this time.  

Yellow, Blue, and Green with Red "what if" Splotches:  By Cole

Have you ever done any dyeing with your children?  I always love trying new things with the boys!

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Yarn Along

I'm joining in again with Ginny for her weekly Yarn Along.  Oh, how I enjoy spending my Wednesday evenings browsing through oodles of pages of knitterly love!

Well, I finally got around to knitting with the self striping sock yarn I dyed a few weeks ago.  My biggest fear in dyeing this yarn was that somehow the math would't turn out as planned and I'd end up with sloppy color transitions or {aaaakkkk} the dreaded visible jog.  I've even put off knitting with it because I was so afraid that all the time spent calculating, wrapping, dyeing, and rewrapping would be for nothing.  Then my son picked it up and asked me to make him rainbow socks with it.  How could I say no to a request for rainbow socks, so I decided to suck it up and get on with it.  I even learned a new cast on technique for ribbing that I'll post a tutorial for soon.  {Thanks, Tracy!}

While I'm not a huge fan of the colorway, the stripes turned out just the way I'd hoped - solid transitions and no visible color jog!  I know art is supposed to be all about the process, but this time I can say for certain that the process sucked, and I'm NEVER hand dyeing self striping sock yarn again!  {No Mike, I will not make you self striping adult longies out of sock yarn.  So stop asking!}

Happy Knitting~
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{this moment}

Inspired by soulemama: {this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

~Wishing you a peaceful weekend~

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Natural Plant Dyeing

I have been curious for a long time about dyeing fibers naturally with native plants.  The notion of spending long slow afternoons with my boys in the woods and prairies,  finding just the right field where plants are plentiful, thoughtfully hand cutting each flower so as not to take too many from one area, then bringing them home for the slow process of drawing out the color. 

This ancient form of working with the earth and the changing seasons to create beautiful, natural yarn appeals to me greatly, and so did the photography of this book
Rebecca's book not only has beautiful photography and easy to follow recipes, but she addresses all of the concerns I had about wiping out a whole area's plant life or chosing mordants that won't damage local ponds and our precious water supply.

Tansy is in bloom right now as far as the eye can see, so we decided to start our harvest in an open field a block from our house.

Proper plant harvesting attire...

Easily distracted by games in the tall grasses...

and giant grasshoppers...

A quiet moment under the tree was a wonderful end to a cool summer day.

Have you ever tried plant dyeing?  I'd love to hear about your experiences!

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Gardens and Such...

Grandma and Grandpa stopped by this weekend with a basket full of veggies from their garden.  Our veggies are a little slow going this year, but their garden is bursting at the seams with cucumbers, beans, and peppers! 

Right now the cucumbers are a plenty and we're eating them fresh with herbed cream cheese,  grilled with rice, and my favorite ~ sliced and quartered with a drizzle of dressing.  Here's how I make it in case you're interested.

Fresh Veggie Dressing
3 parts Olive Oil
1 part Red Wine Vinegar
a squeeze of lemon juice
Minced onion
Garlic, Salt and Pepper to taste

Put them all together in a mason jar and let it sit for a few hours. 
 Shake and pour!

What's your favorite way to eat cucumbers?

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In our search for the perfect piece of land for our homestead, I can't even tell you how many swamps we've visited.  Realtors can be crafty folk, taking photos of the land across the road while standing on the listed property.  A little shady, if you ask me.  Today we decided to go wandering up north and visit a listing sent to us by Realtor #4.  It turned out to be fantastic.  A little bit of woods, a lot of open space for a jersey cow, sheep, chickens, gardens, orchard, bees and solar!  We're not getting our hopes up too high since we haven't seen a survey map yet, but this one may be a keeper!!  

Signs of turkey and deer on the property.

A long rustic driveway.

Wild grasses and a gorgeous view.

On the way home, we decided to stop at one of our favorite lakes for a picnic and an afternoon of swimming.

It's really hard to eat corn on the cob with only one front tooth!

{Yes, I have three children!  This one rarely gets his photo taken.}

A home for the crayfish.

The crayfish whisperer.

Who knows, maybe by next year this long winding road will bring us home.

Wishing you a happy weekend~
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Self Striping Sock Yarn

A few weeks ago, I received a message from a woman asking if I would make her a few custom skeins of merino self striping sock yarn.  Delighted at the opportunity to learn a new skill I said yes, with a disclaimer that I'd never before made self striping sock yarn. We agreed that if she liked the results she could buy them from me.  If not, I would just keep them for myself.  {Either way, one of us was coming out a winner!}

I checked out books from the library, researched online blogs and did all the math.  So far so good.  I can do this!!  Blank yarn was wound into a ball.  Chairs were set up at the correct interval.  Blank yarn was methodically wrapped around the chairs.  Lots of tiny little pieces of wool were tied to hold everything securely in place.  Yarn was carefully removed from chairs.  Yarn was placed gently into a large bowl with water and vinegar to soak.

{And here's where it goes bad.}

Yarn is removed from the large bowl of water.  Yarn gets tangled.  Lots of bad words were yelled.  I panicked.  All those books and blogs lied. {Kind of like being a parent.  They don't tell you about all the really bad stuff upfront} Mysteriously, the writers left out the part where the dyers begin to silently scream and cry and throw a fit in the middle of their kitchen because 29 feet of merino sock yarn is now tangled into a giant knot.  {Insert deep breath, for future reference.}

After an hour of wrangling the yarn on my dirty kitchen floor, it was ready to dye.  I used the dip method and none of the colors came out as planned. {Probably from all the dirt!}

I rinsed it again {but with a new plan of attack this time} and put it back on the chairs to dry.  Yay, hardly any tangles!  It's much easier to separate the skein when it's divided into colors.  

See, lots of tiny little pieces of yarn holding everything together.

It's dry!  Now I can start winding it back into a ball.  

...and around the other side.

...stopping to admire the beautiful color transitions.  

And there you have it, hand dyed self striping sock yarn.  I'm actually glad I tried it, because now I know that I will NEVER do it again.  This weekend, I'm hoping to knit something with it and see if the stripes actually worked out!

p.s  My client was very understanding, as I had to graciously decline her request.  

In case you're brave enough to try this yourself here are a few of the resources I used:
Twisted Sister's Sock Workbook


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Living Vicariously at Sock Summit

Since I couldn't manage a ticket to Portland for the all encompassing knitters paradise called Sock Summit {insert long sigh here} I'm left to live vicariously through kitting blogs and YouTube!  And just in case you don't knit and don't know what Sock Summit entails, here's a link:  Sock Summit

Some other fun recaps of the weekend:
Knitting to Stay Sane
Yarn Harlot

{Normally, I avoid large crowds like the plague, but these are knitters, so really how bad can it be?!}

Maybe next year.

P.S.  There was a bit of a self~striping yarn dyeing fiasco in our house yesterday, which I'll tell you all about tomorrow.  {Bad rainy day photos will be included.}  Happy Knitting~
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