It's only been a week since my last post, but it seems like it's been months since I've written in this space.  I'd like to say that it was because I was gone on some glorious hiking excursion, but really it's just been a recovery period of sorts.

I've never mentioned it here before out of respect for my mother and father - in - law's privacy, but it seems like an appropriate time to share now.  About a year ago, Mike's parents moved in with us.  My mother - in - law was recovering from breast cancer at the time {She's been cancer free for a year now!!} and because she couldn't work during the surgery and recovery period, they ended up losing their home.  After much consideration, we let them move in with us.  It has not been an easy journey, to say the least, and has been a true learning experience in patience and tolerance.

Fortunately, for everyone, a couple of weeks ago they both decided it was time to move on and rent a little house of their own.

Our house is so quiet now, without all the hustle and bustle of extended families, extra grandchildren on the weekends, and all the pets {oh, the pets!}.  We've mostly been relishing the quite, slow way of life we're used to and have missed so much.

So you see, we're moving through our recovery period carefully.  The words are beginning to work their way back to me again.  I can see true happiness and laughter returning to our days.  We're patching things up.  Both emotionally and physically.  And with all this extra space, I'm getting a new studio!

Jake moved his room into the vastness of the now empty basement and I'm getting the tiny little room to call my own.  Where no one will bother me, and the three extra dogs don't bark, and the two extra cats don't leave hair all over, and three year olds aren't wiping their jelly faces on my hand spun alpaca.... Oh damn, and I said I wouldn't go there.  I did say we're moving through recovery slowly, right.

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I finally finished the gauntlets that I've been working on for just about forever.  The opera length fingerless mittens have been knit and ripped back, and knit and frogged, and knit and reshaped enough times that I could have made enough pairs for my entire family!  I even managed to finish the last inch in redIt was hard, but a good lesson in stepping out of my comfort zone.  It took me about a week to build up the courage to knit the last inch of one mitten in red for my good friend.  I even darned in all the ends and clipped off the snippets. Then they rested on the back of my sofa for a few days.  I just couldn't do it.   I carefully picked out the end, ripped back the red and reworked the last inch in black.  As it should be. 

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Free Knitting Pattern: Electronics Cozy

Remember the coffee cozies from last year?  Well, again we have about a month until Christmas and I'm just now starting my handmade gifts. I'm not going to beat myself up about it, because I've figured out the perfect guy gift {which crosses off about half the list}; electronics cozies.  The best thing is that it's pretty universal for all those tiny electronic gadgets!  It fits the digital camera we stuffed in our backpack during our trip across South Dakota.  It fits my sister in law's new hot pink cell phone.  And it fits my cousin's ipod touch. 

{Yep, bulky yarn = really fast handmade gift}

You can download the pattern on Ravelry for free!  

~Happy holiday knitting~

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Homemade Lip Balm

Homemade lip balm.  All natural ingredients to nourish your dry, chapped kisser.  Here's how I made mine {very loose recipe}:
About an egg sized amount of beeswax.

Melt the beeswax in a double boiler.

When the beeswax is melted, add four heaping spoonfuls of coconut oil to the double boiler and stir until melted.

Remove from heat and add about 20-30 drops of vanilla essential oil.  Stir.

Pour immediately into small jars.  
{My jars are about 2 oz each and I filled six.  
If you use the commercial lip balm tins, it would likely fill a couple dozen}

Store them in a cool place to set up.  Trust me when I say don't touch them for about 12 hours or you'll end up with a giant finger print in the perfectly poured jars.  {Oh darn, I guess I'm keeping one for myself!!}  When they've set, put the lid on and tie on a pretty ribbon or add a label like this one.


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Yarn Along

A day late, but better than never!  I'm joining in with Ginny for her weekly Yarn Along, over at Small Things. 


I'm almost done with the fingerless gauntlets for a friend.  The original pair was knit with Blue Sky Alpaca Sport but the fabric was too delicate for working in a horse barn, so I ripped them out and added a strand of black worsted.  On size 8's the fabric is really soft and flexible, but thick enough to be warm and comforting in an unheated barn durning our frigid Wisconsin winters.  Even at opera length {21" to be exact}  they're a really fast knit but ahhhhhh I ran out of black worsted an inch before the end.  My friend, in her unconventional ways said, "Just knit the last inch with another color.  How about red?"  I'm going to try it, even though it will take every ounce of will I have not to finish it in black!!  

What are you working this week?

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A bit of wondering around some land this weekend.  We've been fortunate to walk the property through each of the seasons and have just about fallen in love with it's old oaks and aspens, the winding wooded trails and the seemingly endless field of golden wild grasses. 

Cross your fingers for us that the poor housing market will hold out until February and no one will purchase the parcel until then!  If all goes as planned, we'll be drilling our well come Spring!

Where have you been wandering lately?
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All day yesterday, I thought it was Friday.  It happens sometimes.  Among the lego building, knitting, wax melting, baking, and all around daily "ing's", sometimes a day gets lost.  I kind of like it that way.  Not living by the clock or calendar, but by the sun and the moon.  

And sometimes something wonderfully unexpected happens.  Sometimes customers post photos of their finished knitting projects on my facebook page that make me all giddy inside!  That's what happened yesterday.  Colleen posted her Oatmeal Leg Warmers.  Not in oatmeal and brown but in green and orange.  Just look at them, they're fantastic!!  Thanks again so much, Colleen.

And once again, Happy Weekending~

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Raw Beeswax: Part 1

A few months ago, I got to chatting with a friendly acquaintance and beekeeper at a friend's birthday party.  

He shared stories of his small time beekeeping adventures.  

I shared my love of using raw honey and beeswax in my soaps, lip balms, wood polish, and how I also wanted to try dipping candles and handmade beeswax crayons for the boys.  

He mentioned that they just throw away the combs and foundation sheets after extraction.

I gasped.  

He said he would save them for me.  

I said, ok.

A few weeks ago, a bag of beeswax arrived.

Big smiles, all around!
These are the foundation sheets and brood comb.  Brood comb is where the queen lays her eggs.  It stinks really bad and doesn't yield enough wax to be worth the time and effort.  The house stunk for about two days for less than a tablespoon of wax.

On to the good stuff...  We tore the foundation sheets into 1" pieces and melted them slowly in our fancy double boiler.  

When the wax was completely melted, we poured it through our high tech filtration system to remove most of the debris.  It worked pretty well, but some of the tiny particles found their way through. {Adds character, right?!}

Once it's hard, I'll take it out of the bucket and chop it into smaller 2 oz. bits for easy use.  I think we're going to make homemade vanilla lip balm first, so stop back next week for the recipe!

Happy weekending~

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Papel Picado Tutorial

Since Mike and I were gone on vacation over the Autumnal Equinox, we didn't get to celebrate like we usually do, so we're making some mini papel picado banners to take to the woods tonight for a Day of the Dead celebration instead!  Warm woolens, cornbread, a thermos of carrot soup, and a few small offerings should make for a festive night!

Papel picado {perforated paper} is a project I've been wanting to try for years, and now that the boys have good control with their scissors, we decided to give it a go.  We used this tutorial here.  I think I had more fun than the boys making the traditional paper banners.  There's something so satisfying about the act of folding, cutting, and then unfolding to reveal the beauty within.   

"Wow, Mom.  It's beautiful!!" Clearly, I'm not the only one who felt this way!

I see many more of these colorful banners being made through out the winter.  I'm going to try them with felt and fabric too!


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