Hand Dyed Yarn




We're running out the door to go north, but I wanted to share some new yarn I've added to the shop.  Merino, wool, gradients, cotton, I'm really loving how they all turned out!  I also added a bunch of upcycled longies this week and have some really exciting new products to share with you on Tuesday.  I hope you had a beautiful weekend~

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From Plant to Sweater






Long winding country roads lined with vibrant fall foliage.  Yes, that's what this sweater reminds me of most.  I worked it top down, using an earthy brown worsted and my plant dyed tansy yarn.  I had just enough for the large block of color on the yoke and a little extra for each sleeve.  I wasn't sure how the increases would look on the solid color, but I really like them; each increase reminds me of the crook of a tree!

With the leftover brown and the green yarn I dyed from the tansy stems, I made up a hat for myself.  As it usually goes, I never get my knits to myself!

I'm working on the patterns for both pieces and hope to have them finished soon.

What have you been working on this week?

{Joining in with Ginny}
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Homesteading

Homesteading:  A weekly account of our journey to becoming off grid homesteaders.  Our path will be long as we are only paying in cash and our funds are very limited.  Mike and I have no idea what we're doing so we'll be learning as we go.  I know we'll make mistakes and that's ok.  It's all part of the process.  

We would love to read about your homesteading experiences, so if you'd like to share your favorite resources, tips, funny stories, recipes, books, website or even just a photo from the week, please leave a link in the comments.


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Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.  ~Albert Einstein





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Botanical Calendar










From all the excitement this week around Cole, I wanted to spend some special time alone with Luke. While Cole was napping, he and I decided to finish up our calendar project we started a week ago.  Both of us wanted to use some of the flowers we pressed back in the spring, and used the template from this one as a guide.  For the holes at the top, I got out the leather punch, and of course a botanical calendar needed plant dyed yarn to tie the pages together.  Luke is so happy with how the design turned out.  Wouldn't this make a beautiful gift for the holidays?  I think we'll be making a few more!

Cole's gotten the all clear from his doctor to go back up north to the land, provided he doesn't jump off of any rocks or climb tree forts!  We'll be taking a long weekend celebrating the Autumnal Equinox and be back here on Tuesday with lots to share for the homesteading series.  

~Happy Autumn, friends~
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Woodland Sunflower Yarn



(Joining in with Ginny)  

Well, the birch bark dye from last weekend was a bust.  Even with copper mordant, it turned out to be just barely ivory.   I was hoping for a soft pink with olive undertones.  To remedy the problem, Luke and I took a little road trip out to some public land and picked a bunch of woodland sunflowers growing along the edge of the forest.  We used the same process as the tansies, using Peace Fleece yarn instead of superwash.  I wanted to play around with an after bath and read somewhere (wish I could remember where) to use washing soda to adjust the ph balance.  The orange yarn is a little too bright for my taste but will make some really cute Jack Be Little Pumpkins for our fall nature table! 


 You can find my knitting pattern here and my Ravelry notes are here.


Note to self:  Must not knit too many pumpkins and get back on track with holiday knitting.


What are you working on this week?


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Homesteading

Homesteading:  A weekly account of our journey to becoming off grid homesteaders.  Our path will be long as we are only paying in cash and our funds are very limited.  Mike and I have no idea what we're doing so we'll be learning as we go.  I know we'll make mistakes and that's ok.  It's all part of the process.  

We would love to read about your homesteading experiences, so if you'd like to share your favorite resources, tips, funny stories, recipes, books, website or even just a photo from the week, please leave a link in the comments.

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Of course we didn't make it up north this weekend, but I wanted to share a few projects we worked on last week.  

*  We played with our new (to us) wheel barrows, collecting leftovers from the neighboring farmer's hay bales.  We'll use the hay for our compost toilet.  

*  Speaking of the compost toilet, we finally finished our outdoor bathroom.  We built it completely out of the free palates we picked up this summer.  If you want to know more about compost toilets, humanure and how it all works, you can read about it in the first issue of our newsletter coming out October 1st! 

*  Earlier this year, I made a necklace using tree branch pendants and my hand dyed yarn.  I've been getting so many compliments, that I'm thinking of adding a few to the shop.  What do you think?

*  Jake tested his theories on using pine sap for fuel in a survivalist situation. It burns for a very long time, in case you're interested, and he was able to heat his tea with the small flame.

*  I made a natural dye solution from a large piece of birch I found on our walk through the woods (The birch didn't do diddly, in case you're interested).  I'll post more about the natural dyes tomorrow.  

What's happening on your homestead this week?
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Healing


We lie in the stillness of the night, his fragile body upon my chest.  The rise and fall of his breath.  The calm that the slow and steady rhythm brings to us both.  Just like when he was a baby, except now he's nine and doesn't quite fit in the crook of my neck.  The intention is the same, though.  Giving him comfort and security through the magic of touch and closeness; a little peace in this unfamiliar territory.  Yes, peace is exactly what we need after the weekend we had...  He fell.  Head first off a climbing sculpture at Franconia Park.  He chipped three teeth and broke both wrists.  Until the swelling goes down, he will wear the splints.  Then the casts, and when the pain is a little more manageable, we'll see about the dentist.  For now we're reminded of how life was with a newborn, slow and engrossed in an intoxicating amount of love for this boy.


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How to Become a Homesteader


Homesteading:  A weekly account of our journey to becoming off grid homesteaders.  Our path will be long as we are only paying in cash and our funds are very limited.  Mike and I have no idea what we're doing so we'll be learning as we go.  I know we'll make mistakes and that's ok.  It's all part of the process.  

We would love to read about your homesteading experiences, so if you'd like to share your favorite resources, tips, funny stories, recipes, books, website or even just a photo from the week, please leave a link in the comments.


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Last week someone asked this question in the comments, "When your family decided to become homesteaders, besides finding land, what was the first thing you did?  Was it removing all debt?  Begin gathering supplies? Or something else? "  It was such an important question when we first realized we wanted to take this path, and thought others might appreciate a little insight on how we got here, too.

Our path to homesteading didn't begin neatly at the head of the wooded trail.  It was more like finding our way to a clearing after three miles of hiking with tired little ones through an overgrown timber forest.  Around the time Luke was born, we had a pivotal year that completely changed the direction of our lives.  Our oldest son was in public school and we were in constant battle with his teachers and administrators, looking for alternatives to the standard educational process.  We knew it wasn't right for us, but didn't know our options.  That was when I met a new friend at the hospital where I started working part time and she introduced me to homeschooling. (More on this another day or I may get waaaayyy off track!)  It only took one book, Teach Your Own, by John Holt, to know that homeschooling or unschooling was exactly what we'd been looking for but didn't know it was possible or where to begin.  We started reading everything we could get our hands on about the different methods of learning from unschooling to classical school at home.  We loved reading stories from other families and how learning became part of their everyday lives.  Included in many of the stories were families living on small farms, working, living, and learning together.  Our library list evolved to more and more books about homesteading and sustainable living, when I came across a book in the stacks called Better Off-Flipping the Switch on Technology, by Eric Brende.  This was what we wanted.  Living a sustainable life, connected to the earth and each other.  

The first thing we did was to take our oldest son out of school.  Over Christmas break, that winter, we sat down with Jake and explained homeschooling and asked how he felt about extending the holiday break, permanently.  Of course, he was ready.

The next big change we made, I quit my job at the hospital.  Each night, Mike walked in the door and I walked out.  A kiss and hi/bye were pretty much the only conversations we had four nights a week. We were never all home together at the same time and this was not grooving with our plan to live a connected life.  Losing the income was hard, but we cut out extras like the cable television (I'd been wanting to get rid of the t.v. for a long time, anyway!) and eating out.  It didn't take very many nights of eating dinner together to decide the extra income wasn't important.  

Sometime over the next few months, Mike got a call from a friend, who had been temporarily living with his family on a small homestead while their house was being built.  Construction was finished, so the 100 year old log cabin, barns and land were available to rent.  The owner lives in Florida, and the land has been in the family for years, so he's just looking for someone to act as caretaker and pay the property taxes.  Oh, and by the way, it's all modernized, but off grid.  Would we be interested?  Um, YES!  We sat down and worked the numbers.  Mike would have to quit his job, a 180 mile commute was not an option, but we still had some bills that needed to be paid.  After mulling it over all winter, we decided to just jump in head first.  Mike would quit, we'd sell the house, I'd make handmade wares to sell online and we'd just do it.  This was too good an opportunity to pass up and we'd make it work!  We called the owners to tell them we'd like to take the property and to our utter dismay, they'd told us a buyer contacted them out of the blue and made an offer to purchase they couldn't refuse.  The homestead was sold and we were devastated.  Mike went back to work, our days returned to normal, but we truly mourned the loss of our Birchwood cabin for the whole next year.   To heal, we went to the woods.  A lot.  Walking with the trees, singing with the birds, finding the beauty in the rhythm, and relearning the wonders of the changing seasons through the eyes of a child.  

As the earth renewed itself that spring, we also found ourselves revitalized with a new sense of opportunity.  Feeling sorry for ourselves wasn't getting us anywhere, so we sat down one night and came up with a plan.  An outline of what we wanted, what we needed and how to get there.  First thing was to eliminate unnecessary expenses.  We sold the van.  It was an older model, costing us a fortune in repairs, gas, and loan interest.  We ride our bike instead, and when we need to use a car for out of town trips, we drop Mike off at work on the way.  With that payment gone, we were able to make double payments on our car and get that loan paid off very quickly.  We also paid off and canceled a credit card which had a very small balance.  Family members tried to discourage us from canceling the card, to keep it just for emergencies.  However, in five years, I have to say that I have never missed it or needed it once. We only pay in cash, and live by the philosophy of my grandpa's words, "If you can't pay for it when you buy it, you don't need it."  Good words to live by, indeed.  We don't own a cell phone (except for a prepaid emergency phone in the car's glove box) and eat in, cooking whole foods, as often as possible.  Eating out was taking up a huge chunk of our income.  We also became very conscious of our energy usage around the house, turning off lights, drying clothes on the line, using dryer balls in the winter.  All these little things that add up to lots of extra pennies in your pocket. 

With all of the extra expenses and debt gone (except for the mortgage and my student loan), we could start saving money.  We stuck every available penny into a savings account for several years, and in February of this year, we were finally able to purchase our land!  

With our entire savings spent on the actual land, we're now saving for the next major expense, building our home.  The goal is to start laying the foundation in the spring.  For now, though, we're content to spend weekends living on the land, working on small projects, and stopping at estate sales for great finds!  This week we found two wheelbarrows, a post hole digger, and a variety of tools for cement work.  All for $20.  And thanks to "The Mighty Honda" for pulling through for us, again!!

If you have any other questions, I'm happy to answer them in the comments!
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Steeking



Today, I steeked.  And that is all.

{Joining in with Ginny}
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Homesteading


Homesteading:  A weekly account of our journey to becoming off grid homesteaders.  Our path will be long as we are only paying in cash and our funds are very limited.  Mike and I have no idea what we're doing so we'll be learning as we go.  I know we'll make mistakes and that's ok.  It's all part of the process.  

We would love to read about your homesteading experiences, so if you'd like to share your favorite resources, tips, funny stories, recipes, books, website or even just a photo from the week, please leave a link in the comments.

* * * * *





We haven't been able to make it up to the land since the poison ivy outbreak, but we have been busy researching hand pumps and sand point wells vs a professionally drilled well.  For sure we are going to install a sand point well, so we can start planting trees and gardens in the spring.  I really missed having a garden this year and can't wait to get my hands in the dirt again!  Also, we can install a sand point well ourselves for the cost of materials; about $250 at the hardware store.  We're planning to install a hand pump very similar to the one shown in the photo above.  We found this one on a property we walked two years ago.  

If you're curious about sand point wells, here's a video.

I've also been knitting like crazy.  After tonight, the nights are going to get much cooler.  Which is fine when we're snuggled up in our warm house, but camping is a whole other story.  We're going to be much more prepared for the weather than we were this spring!  Socks, hats, and sweater's are high priority on the list right now.  

What projects are you planning for the fall?

p.s.  I forgot to mention that the yellow is the tansy yarn I dyed a few weeks ago.  I love how it pops against the warm brown!



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More and Less

Today I vow to laugh more and worry less about the abandoned piles and creative clutter.







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