A Goblin Hat

The Holiday Issue for Rhythm of the Home went live yesterday, and I'm thrilled they have included my Goblin Hat Knitting Pattern. Can you believe it's their last issue ever?  It's one of my go to places for seasonal inspiration and will definitely be missed.  

You can find the pattern here on Ravelry.

p.s. Happy Halloween!

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We Live Here

Well, it's official... after all these months, our little piece of land finally has an address.  Which means we were also granted permits.  Which means that we can finally start building!

Now, we're on a race against the weather to get the shell finished before it snows.

This weekend we had the cement, gravel and posts delivered for the footings.  Luke was pretty thrilled to see the semi trailer waiting for us when we arrived.  It's not every day you have a fork lift in your yard!  (Mike and I were grateful that we didn't have to move 36 bags of cement by hand.)  A few of the supplies didn't arrive, as they had to be special ordered, so we wrapped the palates up tight until we can return next weekend.  


*we finished putting up the wooden fencing we pulled from our deconstruction project this summer.  Of course, that's when my camera battery died, so no photos of the finished fence.

*we warmed our toes around the bonfire.

*the boys practiced their archery skills.

*we took a walk through the woods, noticing all the brilliant color.  

*we reconnected with some of our farm neighbors that we haven't seen all summer.

How about you?  Did you do anything fun this weekend?

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Knitting and Reading

We woke to a light dusting of snow this morning.  It was so pretty, as the sliver of sunrise glowed magenta at the horizon and just above that, the puffy snow clouds swirled about.   I love that magical moment, at the edge of a storm, when the light reflects and it seems like the whole world is glowing the most perfect shades of blue, gray, green and gold.  I am holding onto every last moment of fall, but mother nature has her subtle ways of letting me know that it won't be long now.

Joining in with Ginny late today:

Knitting: New hats for me and my guys, because I'm a firm believer that you can never have too many knit hats.  By some coincidence, I found a skein in my stash that was exactly the shade of the sky this morning. (Quince and Co bare Osprey that I dyed a while back)  I'm adding swirling cables to mimic the clouds, moss stitch for the golden fields, and long lines for the standing pines.  I'll be sure to post a picture when it's finished.

Reading:  Poetry by Edgar Allean Poe.  I found this little book of poetry at the thrift shop a few years ago and I love to bring it out every once in a while.  It's about the size of a post card and has tiny little roses on the front cover.  The first few pages are missing, so I did a little research and it looks like the book was printed around 1899 by Henry Altemus Co.  My favorite part is the handwritten notes from the previous owner.  She's filled all the blank spaces with some of her favorite poetry.

What are knitting and reading lately?

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Simplify the Stuff


I remember a moment during the late fall last year, when I lost it.   The weather was growing cold, and we were spending most of out time indoors. Every corner was filled with books no one read.  The counters were stacked with papers no one looked at.  Piles of clothes no one wore, yet some how ended up in the mountain of dirty laundry each week.  Don't even get me started on the dishes and toys.  I felt like the walls were closing in on me and I was either spending all my time trying to rearrange the piles into some sense of order or ignoring them, which only made it worse.  It left me feeling angry and inadequate all the time.  That's when I decided it was time to simplify and get rid of the stuff.  

It felt good, really good.  I went through the house, room by room, and got rid of anything that was broken, we didn't want or use.  A few boxes went to Goodwill, and it was invigorating to get rid of so many things!  I was dumbfounded at how much that small change had made on the dynamic of our family.  I was more relaxed and creative, and so was everyone else.

As fall changed to winter, the walls began creeping in again.  However, this time, in a different way.  Mike and I were making homesteading plans and all I could think of was how are we going to live in a tiny house with all of this stuff.  That's when my focus shifted.  It was more than the surface clutter, it was the boxes of hand me downs stored in closets, unfinished projects in the basement, and treasures in the garage.  It was time to get serious about getting rid of stuff.

We made a rule.  If it hadn't been used in one year, it would go.  That week, I took three full car loads to Goodwill, and it felt really great.  The process still didn't seem finished, though, so we made another new rule.  If it hadn't been used in 6 months...

That's when it got epic.  In the spring, we rented a dumpster.  I wish that I'd taken photos, because it was a sight to see.  We worked for 10 days adding to the giant metal box, only for strangers to take things out again.  We'd fill it up more, and again people would come and ask to take things home.  It was fantastic.  Spaces of our home were actually cleared out.  The garage was empty, except for our bikes and tools, and I could see the basement floor!

I hope it doesn't come across like it was no big deal to just get rid of everything.  It wasn't.  It was down right uncomfortable.  So many things we hold onto are associated with loved ones or memories of the past.  It became a process of healing, as well.  Many times we cried, but that's where the list came in handy.  It helped us focus on what we really wanted to have in our life.  Some things we held onto and some we were able to let go.

The boys did great, too.  We included them in every step of the process, and I think that's what worked. They eliminated about half their toys on the first go around.  Also, we never threw anything away without their permission, so it wasn't threatening to them.  We went through    every   single   toy    together and sorted items into 3 boxes,  Keep - Maybe - Toss.   It was interesting to see what they kept and found sentimental, and again, wasn't what I would have thought they'd pick at all.  For the maybe box, we played the game again with only Keep - Toss.

The level of stuff feels about right for now.  We've removed more than half of what we had a year ago!  Now, we're trying to make sure everything has a place, to keep things from creeping back in.  I'll be the first to admit that I'm lacking in the organizational department, but I've found that it's not difficult to keep the house in order when you don't have very much stuff.  I'd like to talk more specifically about what we decided to keep and how we're organizing everything, but that's for another time.

How do you simplify your stuff?

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Autumn Projects

Luke has been reminding me regularly, that it is only "x" more weeks until Halloween and we need to start decorating.  Some of our homeschooling friends had the same idea, so eleven boys and three moms got together for a fall potluck slash craftapalooza.  Together we experimented with bleach painting t'shirts, dipping leaves in beeswax, paper mache lanterns, and necklace making.  Us moms picked crafts that we'd been wanting to do for a long time, because we know our boys.  As soon as you try to plan an activity for them, they hang out for about five minutes and then run off to create some elaborate game.  Which, by the way, is just how we like it.

I was also able to knit up one more sample for the Harvest Sweater.  I don't have any wee ones in our family to give it to, so I'm going to list it in the shop!  It's a size 2 in oatmeal and black wool with birch tree buttons down the front.  You can find all specific listings here.

What projects are you working on lately?

A few of you have asked and emailed about the how to make the beeswax dipped leaves, so here's what we did:  In a tiny crockpot, melt 1lb of beeswax.  I picked our beeswax up from the local beekeeper, but you can find it on etsy too.  Next, hold your leaf by the stem and completely submerge it into the melted wax.  Lift it out and let the excess drip off.  It will harden up very quickly and then lay it on a piece of parchment paper.  We experimented with both pressed leaves and fresh leaves; both turned out lovely, but the fresh leaves were more vibrant in color.  We also tried other objects, just for fun.  Flower petals, cicada and beetle shells, and illustrations from old dictionaries!

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Shop Update

Now in the shop, Upcycled Longies, in a variety of larger sizes.  I had fun adding pockets and details of ribbon trim from my stash.

Harvest Sweater pattern update:  I'm almost finished with it, but we've had lots of excitement with shop orders and a couple family projects that I haven't had a moment of quiet.  I'm hoping to find a few moments to myself in the next few days to get everything together!

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photo by Cole

photo by Cole

photo by Cole

photo by Cole

The boys and I took a walk through the living history museum today.  It was closed, but we strolled the grounds anyway, picking apples and taking photos. We ran into a couple of the caretakers and the gentleman insisted I take their photo, like the American Gothic painting.  The woman in the photo kept telling him to be serious, as in the painting, but he just couldn't.  Also, he refused to move the rake from in front of his face.  He assured me that's just how it's supposed to be.  

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Yesterday evening we had friends over for dinner.  (A potluck of quiche, a pot of chili and baked apples with ice cream... in case you're wondering.) They have three boys, we have three boys.  And my friend, well, she likes to knit too.   We all look forward to our weekly gatherings of food, games and laughter.  I'm so grateful for their friendship.

After they left for the night, I realized what I wanted to write about for the first Simplify post.  Values.  Before you can even start to think about decluttering and organizing, you have to figure out what is most important in your life.  What brings you joy?  What fuels your creativity?  What are your goals?  How do you choose to spend your time?   What do you want your life to look like?

Write down your answers on a piece of paper, and hang it up where you can see it every single day.  For our kids, we also played a game.  If you could only keep 10 things, what would they be and why.  It was very revealing, and a few things I thought would be important to them, weren't even on their lists.

Here's a few things that I value in my life:

* Walks through the woods

* Being with friends

* Quiet time with Mike

* Painting

* Books

* Yarn

* Favorite t shirt

* Grandma's jewelry box

After you've created a clear vision of your values, it will be much easier to move onto the next step... decluttering.

What would you write on your list?

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Natural Dyeing With Black Walnuts

Last week, on our way through town, I spied a giant pile of freshly fallen walnuts gathered in a street gutter.  I decided people might question my ability to parent, if Luke and I dodged traffic for organic dye stuff, so we went home and headed back out well after dark.  Main Street was deserted and we had the best time collecting handfuls of walnuts under the warm glow of the street lights.

You know you're a fiber artist when, your eight year old doesn't even ask what you're going to do with the bushel of walnuts, he just knows.

I used my Natural Plant Dye Recipe, but made a few changes:

* I smelled lanolin in the yarn, so I washed it first with a little soap.  Lanolin will act as a barrier to the dye.  Obviously, I don't want that to happen.  (The yarn is Quince and Co. Osprey.  They had a sale on irregular bare skeins a while ago, so I bought a few.  It. is. amazing.)

* I skipped the mordant.  Walnuts have a natural tannin, which acts like it's own built in mordant.

* I filled a giant canning pot with walnuts and added water within an inch of the top.  When some of the water cooked down, I added more.  Total simmering time: 2 hours off and on (I had to leave town in between, so I couldn't leave the stove on.)

* The whole slurry sat overnight to cool.

* I poured the dye into my dye pot and added a skein of the pre soaked yarn.

* Yarn and dye simmered for 90 minutes

* When cool, I washed it again.

* Not quite dark enough, so into the dye pot it went, along with another skein.  I thought it would be neat to have different shades of brown.

* Simmered another 90 minutes and washed.

Final notes:

* I didn't use fresh dye stuff.  I actually forgot about it for a week, so the walnuts got moldy.  Rebecca Burgess recommends fermenting the walnuts for three weeks, but I've been there - done that, and it stinks.  I think the rotting walnuts may have actually been sufficient.

* The colors are gorgeous, but I was hoping for a deeper brown, so I'm going to let them sit overnight and check them in the morning.

Have you ever dyed with walnuts?  What was your experience?

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A Finished Sweater

The Harvest Sweater is finished, and I'm so pleased with how it turned out.  I have a few things to edit on the pattern and then it will be ready to go!  I'm hoping to have it all ready to go live on Monday.

(Joining in with Ginny today.)

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Yarn Sampler

Today was so sunny and warm, that we spent the whole day at the state park and didn't come home until dark.  Of course, it was then that I remembered I promised you a post about my yarn sampling class...

First of all, let me just say that I'm not big on taking knitting classes.  I'm more of a learn it myself from Elizabeth Zimmermann books, in the comfort of my own home, kind of girl.  If I need help, I can Google it.  And if I'm still stumped, I can ask my brilliant knitting friend to come over for coffee.  She almost always has the answer.  Also, if you've ever taken a class and are completely honest with yourself, there's usually only one or two other people in the class you can stand to be around.  You know the scenario.  I choose to spend my precious time away from my family very carefully.

However... when our local yarn shop posted a class for the Yarn Sampler, my brilliant knitting friend signed us both up!  {She knows me so well.}  There were tables of yarn, along with drinks and hors d'oeuvres, so it was all good.  I swatched over a dozen different yarns that I would never in a million years have picked for myself, and even found a few that I loved.  It turns out I'm partial to organic merino and baby alpaca.  Shocker!

I splurged and bought myself a skein of emerald green Madelinetosh Vintage.  It's so soft and I'm going to make it into a cowl for myself.  I also picked up a bare skein of Cestari to dye with.  It's a bulky merino made here in the US.  Both of them have been put away until my patterns are written, though.  It's just too tempting.

What yarn would you want to sample or splurge on?
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Weekend Knitting

I'm working really hard this month to get all of my knitting designs together, written up into patterns, tested, and photographed.  I get distracted so easily with new ideas, that the actual patterns often get put on the back burner.  I'm going to work really hard to stay focused and not allow myself to move onto a new project until the current pattern is complete.  The first design I'm working on is the Harvest Sweater.  It's a top down cardigan that I originally made for Luke last year, using plant dyed yarns.  I love neutrals with a giant pop of color! 

p.s.  A friend and I went to a yarn sampling at our local yarn shop this weekend.  I bought yarn.  If you stop back tomorrow, I'll tell you all about it and show you what I brought home.

p.s.s.  I'm thrilled that so many of you were interested in hearing more about my simplifying process.  I'm thinking about using Friday's posts to write down my thoughts and what I accomplished each week.   I hope you'll join in the discussion, I'm really looking forward to it.

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Jake asked a great question tonight, about money, as it related to current events, "When do people decide that enough is enough."  That's the big question, isn't it?  We've had this discussion countless times between Mike and I, the boys, and friends... for us it was when I graduated college and decided to not get a full time job.  I wanted (needed) to stay home with my babies.  We decided that one income would be enough for us.  We would make it work, because it was more important for me to be with our kids, than have a giant home or to accumulate more stuff.  As time went on, we let go of the pursuit for more, better, best, and came to the realization that the life we wanted was simple.  I know I've said it before, but we just want to live with the rhythms of the earth, eat good food, spend time with each other, and do work that leaves us fulfilled.  That is enough.

Simple is not easy, though.  I've been wanting to write about the topic of simplifying for six months now, trying to put our process into words.  I'm going to mull it over a little more and try to break it down into smaller posts, because it's just to much to sum up in one neat little package.  Stay tuned...

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October Sponsors

Welcome to our October Sponsors!  Please take a minute to click over and visit each of them.

Artisan Wood Buttons, Wooly Delights, and Herbal Goodness

Beautifully Crafted Quilts * Hand Dyed Playsilks * Vinage Inspired Aprons * Other Artful Bits

Dustin and Amanda create natural, waldorf inspired wooden toys for all ages.

Animal knitting patterns and toys.

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