A twist here, a twist there… and a few cables in between.  It's the same hat that Luke was wearing in this photo, but without the pom pom.  It's a good thing, too, because I think there's just enough yarn left to decrease the top!

I haven't been reading much this week, but I'm relishing the short audio stories of Ambrose Bierce.  I love a good ghost story at any time of year.

What are you knitting and reading this week?

(Joining Ginny)
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Our family grew by one this week.  A wee little girl name Alexis.  Her mama, Mike's niece, is doing well.  

I spent the weekend happily knitting the Mira sweater.  In cashmere.  With vintage buttons.  I didn't get to try it on her, though, because rule #1 of newborns… never wake a sleeping baby.  Even for cashmere.

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Heat, or lack there of.
Last night our furnace stopped working.  {deep sigh}  While rummaging through the basement, to find the electric radiators, I quickly realized that Mike couldn't call a repairman until we finished cleaning up the mess from last week.  Our drain backed up.

I spent about 4 hours finishing laundry and picking up.  You know, so the repairman could get to the furnace and I wouldn't be completely humiliated by the mess.

I called the local HVAC office to schedule an appointment.  The very nice repairwoman asked if we had checked the intake and output lines for blockage, because lots of people were having trouble with them this week after the subzero temps and snow.  I said no I hadn't, and asked where I could find the intake and output lines.  She explained to me how to check and sure enough they were encased in ice.

Mike went out with a screwdriver and chipped away the icy build up.  He turned on the thermostat, then the furnace.  Then.... a sweet, warm wave of hot air came rushing through the registers!

After long, cold night it was pure bliss.

I feel a little cheated though.  I have a clean house and no one to witness it.  Anyone want to come over and knit mittens with me?  It's clean.  Oh wait, one of the boys just dumped a box of Legos on the living room floor.  Well, it was nice while it lasted!

{Random Project}

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A New Knitting Pattern: Adair Mittens

sizes toddler to adult

Adair is a Celtic name meaning: a ford by the oaks trees.
Just behind our homestead, where the river flows slow and shallow, the animals have been seen crossing, into the forest where they disappear under a canopy of oaks.
This classic, seamless style mitten is knit from the bottom up using worsted weight yarn and Size 3 (3.25mm) and 4 (3.5mm) double pointed needles.  A tubular cast on, gives the mittens a strong, flexible foundation, and a simple stranded colorwork pattern finishes the top.  The colorwork reminds me of the tall, sturdy oaks growing along the shores of the Chippewa River.
These mittens are my go to pattern around here, for their simplicity and function.  They're interchangeable and really quick to knit.  But, I really adore these mittens, because of the endless color possibilities!  You could mix and match or you could even mirror the colors on a second mitten (I have a love of mismatched accessories!)  
What colors would you choose?

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I can always count on Luke to go on a date with me, when the walls of winter start getting a little to close for comfort.  I love spending time with this little one, because he has a wicked sense of humor and is always making me laugh!  

Our first stop was at our local yarn shop.  Luke picked out a skein of Malagrigo Chunky, in Vermillion.  He'd like another cabled hat, but without the pom pom {please}.  I picked out some gray and goldenrod wool for just one more pair of mittens. (The pattern will go live tomorrow!!)  I also picked up some Dream in Color, for a custom order of Jack Pines.  

After a good dose of wooly eye candy, we made our way to the thrift store.  I picked up a pair of giant basket bowls.  I think these will be perfect for harvesting veggies from the garden next summer!  We also found some fun new books.  The guys are crazy about Mad Libs right now.  We went through a whole booklet last week, so this mega pack was well received.

To end the evening, we went to dinner at a famous rib joint.  After the waitress brought us our menus, Luke disgustedly set aside the baby menu and asked to use a real menu.  In complete opposition, he ordered a whole rack of ribs.  Yep, you can imagine the look on the waitress's face when my tiny eight year old added two sides, as well.  Luke didn't even bat an eyelash and it was a proud, proud mama moment, I tell you.  

With a small doggie bag, we made our way home.  Bellies and hearts bursting with love.

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One of my favorite parts of unschooling is getting to stand back and watch the curiosity unfold.  

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It seems I have a problem finishing mittens.  I'm doing a few last minute adjustments on the proportions and expect to have the knitting pattern ready for sale on Wednesday!

{Random Project}
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Up north.  First we were going, then we weren't.  Then we did.  Just us.

{Random Project}

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Really, the title of this post should be Random, because that's exactly what life feels like right now. The boys are each immersed in their current pursuits, while Mike and I learn side by side about gardening, construction and animal husbandry.  All the while, we're immersed in our own personal work.  We seem to have no rhythm at all, except that we are bursting with energy and excitement, trying to take in and study as much as we can about the day's current interest.  It's invigorating and intoxicating and exhausting all at the same time!

I suspect that as the anticipation of Spring approaches, I will only become hopelessly lost in my ability to create meaningful connections between blog posts.  I tend to give up on writing when I can't make connections.  Instead of trying to fight it and not write anything,  I'm giving into the random.  I've come up with an idea to keep me on track.  Each morning, I will write down one word.  I may write about it and I may just post a photo, but at least it's something.  I hope to keep it up for the next month and if I like it, I may just keep going.  If not, well, I won't.

* * * * *

So, with that, my first random word...


Around this table, we join together to nourish our bodies, our minds, and our hands.

It's a square, sturdy table that found us at a local antique store a few years ago.

We immediately fell in love with it, and had great fun imagining all of the other families who gathered round for celebrations and ordinary life.

From the 50's, it was formerly a large dining room table, repurposed into a coffee table.  Just what we needed for a trio of rough and rowdy boys.

We have a traditional table, in the kitchen, but it rarely gets used.  This one, with all it's rich history, is where we most often choose to eat, play, work, and create.  No chairs, no fuss.  Just a place where we all gather through out our days.

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A New Year

It's been a few days into January now.  This new year and I have been getting to know each other quite well, and I can decidedly say that 2014 is going to be amazing!  It's my year, the Year of the Horse, after all.

My energy is revived and Mike and I will be using all of the planning and prep we've done over the last two years to finally build the major parts of our homestead in the spring.  Until the snow melts and we can work the land, we'll continue devouring every bit of information we can get our hands on.

Wishing you all the best in this new year!

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Beeswax Candles

Through the bitter cold and freshly fallen snow, Mike and I made our way to the home of The Beekeeper.  {I wrote about him here a few years ago.}  His wife emailed me and said they had some caps they'd been saving all year for us, and did we still want them?  Um, yes please.

So, with eleven gallons of cappings and a jar of fresh honey {in exchange for our homemade soap}, we were set to the task of processing beeswax.   

Here's how it worked....

* I filled the pot full and turned the heat on really low.  The cappings contain wax and honey at this point, so I needed everything to melt without burning the honey.  

* Once melted, I filtered the liquid to remove all the dirt and debris.  The filtered containers of liquid were moved to the front porch to cool.  As it cooled, the wax floated to the top making it easy to wash and separate from the honey.

*  Two of the buckets had fermented over the summer and smelled like mead.  We wanted to try and remove as much of the alcohol smell as possible from the wax, so we melted the raw beeswax very slowly again and filtered it one more time.  I think that really helped to cook the alcohol off and remove the unpleasant odor.

In the end, we processed about 10 lbs of usable wax.

Now, what to do with all this golden goodness?  By coincidence, there is a lovely article in the newest issue of Taproot about candle making and decided it would be fun to try a few jar candles for gifts.   

I made some simple labels for belated gift giving, too.  {Luke was carefully guarding a stack of jars, making sure there were some for us to keep, as well.}

p.s.  The beekeepers also have fainting goats.  Mike spent five minutes with them, and it's sure to say that these delightful creatures have now been added to the "most definitely" list of animals on the homestead.  Oh, how our list keeps growing...
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