Knitting and Making

More of the same today.  Knitting, making, and reading.

* The French Creek Cowl was knit from superwash merino that I hand dyed in a rich, warm chestnut.  It's next to the skin soft and sits nicely on the neck, without being stiff.

* Mittens for Luke.  I had just enough of the Peacock Blue left from my Toast arm warmers to make a much needed pair for my smallest boy.  It's a basic pair of mittens using worsted weight merino wool.  I

* On my needles: a cozy cabled hat I'm making up on the fly, using Peace Fleece worsted wool yarn.  I love it's natural, rustic texture and color!  It's a bit too scratchy for me, but my guys will be able to wear it with no problem.

* Reading: I'm told it's something involving whales.

What are you making these days?

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Homesteading and Knitting

Hello, friends.  How has your week been?  We've been busy making for the shop and making for each other.  I can't seem to get a handle on finishing up the email newsletter, but I have been able to make some coherent sense of my knitting pattern notes and am trying to get them in order.  Here's the first of many patterns I'm getting ready to publish.

A highly textured cowl named for the winding, rippling waters of the French Creek. An ancient, natural area my husband I hiked during our 10th Anniversary trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota.
This pattern is a fantastic way for beginners to learn cabling, as you only work the cable pattern every sixth round (perfect for knitting with a babe in tow). It’s knit in the round (no purling), so it works up really fast and can easily be finished in a weekend.  

I knit another one over the weekend, for a handmade holiday gift using a rich chestnut brown.  If I can catch a bit of the sunshine tomorrow, I'll be sure to share a photo of it.  

French Creek Cowl

On the homesteading front, I've been reading more about the pros and cons of raising a small jersey cow vs a goat for milk and Mike is already plotting out the gardens and orchards he hopes to get started in the spring.  I was hassling him about thinking too far in advance, but he's so good at seeing the bigger picture.  I'm sure I'll be grateful when planting season begins and we're ready to go!  As soon as he has the plans all drawn up, I'll be sure to share that with you too.  

p.s. I'm joining in with (late) with Ginny over at Small Things.  

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Why Buy Handmade?


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I know we each have our own individual, deep seeded reasons why we buy handmade gifts each year, but I wanted to share what has inspired us to live a handmade life....

*I live a handmade life, because... I have to create.  Like I have to breathe.  Or eat.  To survive.  When you purchase handmade from us or someone else, you're allowing an artist to carry on.  To nourish the soul.  To find joy.  Achieve dreams.  

*I live a handmade life, because... I know exactly where my money is going.  No middle men.  No giant corporations.  Just people trying to make a difference in the world.  To real families, like us, who are paying the bills, putting food on the table, and reaching goals.  

* I live a handmade life, because... I believe in quality over quantity.  Purchasing high quality, well made items, means they will last for years, sometimes even a lifetime.  Attention, detail, and a lot of love is infused into each item that passes through our hands.  

* I live a handmade life, because... I want art to be unique and original.  I love that when I wear one of my husband's Tree Branch Necklaces, I know I'm never going to see anyone else wearing it.

*  I live a handmade life, because... I care about the environmental impact of mass produced goods on our earth.  From manufacturing, transporting, and disposal; the destruction is astronomical.  All our items are either made of recycled materials or are organic material and can be composted back into the earth.

* I live a handmade life, because... I value connection.  Through this blog and our shop we've met folks from all over the world.  Becoming a part of each other's lives, in some small, significant way is one of my favorite parts of living handmade.  

To say thank you for choosing handmade this holiday season, we're offering 10% off everything in our shop Friday, Nov 23rd through Monday, Nov 26th.  We'll also be posting random surprise discounts over on Facebook, so be sure to stop on over and like our page!

Why do you live handmade?
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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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Today, I realized it's been nearly a month since I wrote about homesteading.

We spent the last weeks bringing our season to an end.

Saddened by our now infrequent trips, yet thankful for the lull to sit down and take stock of plans and all that we need to read and learn over the winter.

The camper's been packed up and will be hibernating in my father-in-law's barn.

The fallen trees have all been chopped up and stacked for tree branch buttons, ornaments, and next years firewood.

One last walk down the trail.

Making our shadow portrait a fall family tradition.

We've also put together a seasonal wrap up to be delivered by email this week!  If you'd like a copy, be sure to sign up for our mailing list at the top right corner of the blog.

Now, I'm off to make pumpkin pie....

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Acorn Ornament Knitting Pattern

It's tradition in our home; making natural, homemade ornaments to decorate for the holidays.  Some we love so much that they make their way into our yearly rotation.  Some get recycled with the christmas tree, at the end of the season.  I have a feeling these will be around for years to come....

I'm also making a few to use along with our Tree Branch Gift Tags on all our handmade gifts!  

You can find the pattern on Etsy or for instant download on Ravelry.

Acorn Ornament
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Hand Carved Stamps

As the temperatures drop and the days become shorter, we're spending less time outside and more time in the house.  It's become the perfect excuse to slow down and try all of the art projects we've been talking about doing this past summer!  

Cole's been researching stamp carving for months now, since watching Geninne's video.
{Isn't her work amazing?  We also love to watch her watercolor videos.  Such talent.}

We started with a shopping trip to the craft store to buy supplies. 
* Speedball Carving  Tool
* Speedball Carving Blocks
* Stamping ink
* Cardstock

I was strangely nervous about not doing it right; wanting to try a small practice stamp and get a feel for the tools.  We discussed positive and negative space and how he wanted his finished stamps to look.  Then as is the way of my middle boy, he jumped in with both feet.  It came out exactly as he planned.  I'm really happy with mine, too.  We both want to get some fabric ink and make hand stamped t'shirts for this winter!  I think they would make really nice handmade holiday gifts.  

Have you hand carved stamps?  I'd love to hear about your experiences.
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Simple Slipper Knitting Pattern

About three years ago, my niece came to visit and she had the most adorable shoes I'd ever seen.  They were made of soft leather in a warm shade of coral pink with contrasting stitching along the sole.  I had been trying for a long time to find shoes for the boys, but I didn't like any of the them found at traditional department stores, so I looked up the brand name on the bottom of the sole and went to the website.  I was so sad to find out that the company had recently gone out of business.

I became a mama on a mission to make something similar for my boys, inspired by these eco~friendly Simple shoes.  I must have made about a dozen slippers trying to get them just right.  Out of pure frustration, I put the whole project into the WIP box, and out of my mind for over two years.  (If you knit, you know all about the WIP basket.  Enough said.)

One night on our drive home from the land, it came to me.  I knew exactly how to construct them into the shape I wanted; keeping them seamless and well, simple.  By the next morning, I had my first pair made, and a rough draft of the pattern written.  Of course, once my guys saw them, they each wanted a pair too.  You can read all about them herehere, and here.

My favorite features of the Simple Slippers:
* Sizes available for every member of the family; from newborn to adult men and women

* Double thick sole for lots of warm, cushy goodness

* Contrasting stitch around the sole

* Seamless construction (good for the knitter and wearer)

* Tab up the back for stability and cuteness

* Knits up really fast (um... like for last minute Christmas gifts!)

You can find the Simple Slipper in both my etsy shop and for instant download on Ravelry:

Simple Slippers
Size Newborn to Adult 
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We snuggled on the couch with our blankets and handwork; waiting to hear the results and feeling grateful for all that happened during the day. 

p.s. (habit and yarn along)

p.p.s The slipper pattern is finally ready and will be available for sale on Friday!

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Slow and Flow

He took a deep breath and sighed, "I like to go slow, and let it flow." (Habit)

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Fresh Air

For the month of November,  I'm joining the talented group of women over at Habit; sharing the small, real moments that make up our lives.

What I really wanted to do was rest in bed all day.  He begged me to head to the woods.  The fresh air did us all good.

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Felt Sugar Skulls

A non~sugary craft to celebrate Dia del los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

This is a wonderfully open ended project and I encourage you and your kids to search google images for inspiration!

Materials we used:
Template (We shrunk the images to about 3" and used them as a general reference.)
Scrap pieces of wool felt
Embroidery floss
Seed beads

Cut out your white skull and sew (or glue) on all of the decorative pieces.  Cut out a slightly larger black piece and attach it to the back for a finished look.

What to do with your sugar skulls?
* Make one for each loved one and hang them as a memorial banner.
* Applique onto a shirt or bag
* Add a pin back for a broach

How are you celebrating the day?

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