Home



It's been almost two weeks since we've been home now.  Still savoring the bliss of living and working at the lake for five months.  All the while, finishing long anticipated projects, falling into a daily rhythm and preparing for winter.  It doesn't feel like it yet, running around in t'shirts and bare feet, but it's coming, that much I know.  The old timers are saying it's going to be a tough one.  We'll see.  We're all feeling the pre-snow romanticism that makes us dream of hunkering down in the house, cozied up around the fire, a mug of tea, knitting, projects with the boys and a daily pot of soup on the stove.

I've been doing this for thirty eight years now and I'm no dummy.

All of these romanticized notions of winter will be out the door a week after the first staying snow, so I'm preparing... cleaning, clearing, sorting, and collecting what will help us all enjoy the long, dark days ahead.

* * * * *

I wrote this last week, but with all of the preparations, I completely forgot to post it.  Last night it snowed.  The wind blew fierce across the homestead and for the first time, in a long while, we had to get up at night to stoke the fire.  As predicted, we're reveling in the first signs of winter.

Today, I'm snuggled up on the couch with my boys knitting a batch of emergency hats.  When I heard snow was coming, we brought the box of woolens out, only to find that the barn cats managed to wiggle their way in and use it as a litter box.  I guess this will be a good way to clear out some of those left over bits of yarn I've been stashing away all year and get some new woolens to boot!

It's so good to be home.

p.s.  Thank you to everyone who sent us messages over the summer with curiosity and concern.  Unintentionally, we dropped off the face of the internet world {no signal at the campground, except for one spot on the bridge if the wind was blowing just right and you hopped on one leg!} and just spent the summer decompressing and enjoying each other's company.  I didn't even unpack my camera, only taking a few photos with my cell phone.  If you'd like to see how we spent the summer, I posted over on Instagram as @thesittingtreefarm.


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Catching Up and Some Exciting News


Hello friends.  It's been a very long time, hasn't it.  I blame it on Instagram with it's simple, easy, carefree ways.  And only having internet on the phone makes it much more simple to connect there rather than here.  

But, I've missed it here.  

And we have some very exciting news to share.

In early spring Mike and I started talking about the possibility of getting a job away from the homestead.  Summers out here have been much more difficult than we anticipated, income-wise, and we really want to be proactive about the major expense of vehicle repairs that are inevitable with a twenty year old truck.  We also have several projects on the house that need to get finished, like siding and flooring.  Ok, the flooring isn't a need, but I'm really tired of plywood.  However, we had very specific ideas about what the job could entail.  For instance, it needed to be part time and close by (the closest town is 14 miles).  It needed to pay a reasonable wage and be work that would enhance our lives or enable us to learn something of value.  Jobs at the library, farms, or local greenhouse were top on our list, but nothing seemed to work out.  We decided to stop fretting and that when the time was right, things would work themselves out.  Life always works that way, doesn't it? 

And, of course, it did.  

Mike and his cousin went fishing one afternoon and their boat wouldn't start.  The park attendant came over to help out and offered to charge their battery at his camp site.  After chatting about fishing and such, he mentioned that there was an opening at another campground in the park system.  When Mike came home and told me, I knew that this was what we had been waiting for.  We both sent in our resumes and were asked to come in for an interview.  Everything went well and before we even got half way home, they called to offer us a job.  Originally, the job was to be full time for one person.  However, they liked us both so much, and couldn't decide between us, that they created a new job position, as a team.  

Mike and I are going to be running a local campground and county park on a seasonal basis, from May to November.  It's going to mean a more reliable income for the summer months and will work perfectly with our busy winter season in the shop.  

Most importantly, we can be together as a family, working, learning, and living together, which was our whole intention on moving to the homestead in the first place.  

We will live at the campground full time, coming back twice a week to check on the garden and fulfill orders for the shop. Our oldest son will stay at the house, as he works nearby, and take care of the chickens and animals.  

When we moved out here two years ago, I never could have imagined how much life would change or what our path would look like.  Certainly, not this.   As excited as I am, I'm a little nervous and sad as well.  I envisioned us having goats, a small flock of sheep and maybe even a dairy cow, but those dreams will have to be put on hold.  If things work out this summer, living and working at the lake will become a part of our rhythm of the seasons, and I'm totally ok with that.  

Oh, and we start on Monday.  Which means we're going to need a few things to get us started.  Living off grid, means that we've got this camping thing down, but our camper was damaged while we were living in it and building the house, so we need a new one.  To help fund some of our essentials, we're having a shop update on Friday.  I'm hoping to have a few skeins of hand dyed yarn, project bags, and other goodies.  I hope to see you then.  



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Adventuring :: Foraging for Ramps







Under a blanket of clouds, three days of drizzling rain, and restless children, Mike declared yesterday to be the day perfect for adventuring, or more precisely, foraging for ramps.  He packed up the basket, clippers, drinks and snacks.  He's good about that... pushing us homebodies out of the house just when we need it.  

We had seen the ramps last week while driving through the hills, but they we're just barely poking out of the ground.  Now, the forest floor is covered with wild edibles; ramps, trout lilies, marsh marigolds, alpine strawberry flowers, and unknown to us yet, some tiny little purple flowers pushing out through the soil.  I even found some new dye plants to experiment with.  

It didn't take long to forage a basket full of ramps, and good thing, too.  The rain cut our adventure short, but it sure was nice to have a change of scenery for a while.  And gratifying to have a handful of ramps for our our pot of chili waiting on the wood stove when we got home.




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Weekend Knitting


Clue one of the Tales from the Isle of Purbeck shawl is complete.  Finally. 

I have a new found respect for all you lace knitters.  Here’s how lace knitting goes for me.  Knit a row, get lost in a daydream about natural dyeing halfway through row and forget a repeat.  Count the stitches in row.  Find out the stitch count is off.  Cuss. Rip row out.  Knit row again, desperately trying to stay focused.  Count the stitches.  Move on to next row.

I love how lace looks and this shawl is going to be a stunning piece when it’s all done, but have to admit that I am not cut out for this type of knitting.  Maybe in twenty years when I’m not distracted by {ahem} children.  Or maybe I’m so easily distracted that I can never be a proper lace knitter.  Sitting still and paying attention are really not my strong suits and both are needed to be competent at this craft.  Oh, well.  Maybe I’ll cast on for a few of these and make myself a new leaf garland in soft spring colors.  Some soothing garter stitch is just what I need.


How about you?  Any weekend knitting?


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Thrift Store Finds




We had a few extra minutes in between running to the post office and doing laundry this week, so we decided to pop into our favorite thrift store.  I'm so glad we did.  

Galvanized buckets.  Because we live on a homestead and can never have enough of them.  I especially love them for functional decorating.

A rug for the front door, but it had to match the rug in the main living area, because, well that's what we've got... one room. 

A sweater to replace my beloved orange wrap that I've been wearing for at least three years.  It's beyond repair, and for me, that's saying a lot.  My boys may also have mentioned that paired with my green knit hat, I look somewhat like a life sized carrot.  So it was either a new hat or a new sweater. Well, I found the sweater.  You know the one.  It fits absolutely perfect. It gets worn everywhere, for everything.  It’s perfect for cool mornings in the garden or folding up the bottom to gather eggs.  Throwing it over a shirt that has stains on the front from your kid wiping his face when he gave you a hug and you need to run to the store for toilet paper, but you’re too tired to change.  Yeah, that one.  It’s cotton and will be perfect for adding a layer during the chilly weather that’s yet to come.  Now, I need to knit another hat to match.  Darn.

What's your best thrift store find?










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The Tansey Sweater Dilemma




If you remember from last week, I ran out of my tansy dyed yarn, just after dividing for the sleeves of the Luna Sweater.  Man, garter stitch sucks up a ton on yarn.  So I frogged.  I also decided to heavily modify my original pattern.  This is bulky weight yarn, so I cast on much fewer stitches on a much larger needle.  Instead of doing raglan sleeves, I worked increased as you would for a rounded yoke. There's only one button hole at the top, instead of three. I added stripes in natural brown and cream as filler and instead of finishing the sleeves, I just bound them off right away.  I really like the way the sleeves turned out.  They're much less fussy this way and I may write up a new pattern with this in mind.  

Then came the hard part.  Which button to choose?  

I posted about it on Instagram yesterday, and it seems the consensus is for the pinecone, with the bottom button a close second.  I think the bottom one is going to be the winner, though.  I'm afraid that the pinecone doesn't stand out enough with the garter stitch and most importantly, it may be too difficult for little hands to manipulate.  

After a good hearty blocking, the finished sweater will be available in the shop tomorrow evening now.

Joining Ginny.  {Better late than never, right?!}




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Three Little {Felt} Birds






Rise up this mornin'
Smiled with the risin' sun
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin' sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true
Sayin' this is my message to you

~ Bob Marley

This song kept going through my head this morning as I put the finishing touches on the felt birds.  It feels appropriate as the blue birds and robins have returned with gusto in the last few days.  The robins have been coming in behind the chickens, picking through their scratchings, pulling out worms and the blue birds seem to be contemplating which of our bird houses to build their nests in.

These sweet little felt birds need a new home, too.  They're made from hand dyed wool felt {I use only low impact, eco friendly dyes}, vintage fabrics, cotton embroidery thread and wool stuffing. They would be a beautiful addition to a nature table or as I discovered when I accidentally tangled them together, a wall hanging!  They would even be sweet as a mobile in a nursery.

You can find them in our MamaCollaborative shop here.







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Knitting, Crochet, and Sewing




This week has been filled with all sorts of knitting, crochet and sewing...

The little sweater I was knitting last week has been frogged.  I ran out of yarn {sadness}, so I'm going to have to come up with something else.  Maybe stripes or a little color work pattern.  

I cast on my Tales from the Isle of Purbeck shawl.  It's been really difficult for me and I've ripped back at least three times, or I quit counting at three anyway.  Non repetitive lace knitting {aka chart reading} is something I'm not comfortable with, but wanted desperately to try and step out of my comfort zone.  I've been hiding out in the loft so that I can concentrate without any distractions.  It seems to be working as I've finally moved on past the first clue.  I'm told it gets easier from here. Good grief.  Let's hope so.  

For our Spring Equinox celebration, I made the boys each a Pokemon ball or Pokeball, as I was corrected.  They're are wild about the card game and absolutely loved their gifts.  Cole asked me to show him crochet this morning and I suspect his intentions are to make a whole arsenal of them.  

I can't seem to focus on one craft right now.  It must be the seasonal change or my work with MamaCollaborative, but I've been finding inspiration from all corners of crafting.  I especially love this little felt bird that Taryn posted about on her blog.  I'm making mine out of scraps of wool felt that I dyed last winter.  I can't wait to see these finished, and just in time for the return of the blue birds and robins.

Tell me, what have you been crafting this week?


Joining Ginny


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Snow Day Adventure





The snow came down fast and heavy the night before, giving us a six inch cover over our small part of the world.  We had planned to go to the post office in the morning and almost decided not to, but I'm so glad we did.  We make the forty mile drive every few weeks to pick up mail at a quaint little post office in the mountain.  We could have the mail delivered closer, but the little mountain town has the best coffee and pulled pork sandwiches, and makes for a fun date for the two of us.  Mike and I get to have lunch along with a few hours of uninterrupted time to talk.

I always forget my good camera and alway regret it, so all the photos above are taken with our old cell phone.  Seed order picked up.  Sheep farms.  Snow covered trees. A log cabin tucked into the woods.  Coffee and time spent with my love.  Not a bad morning at all.

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend with your loves.
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How To Avoid Doing All The Chores


I can sum it up in one word.  Knitting.  Especially with Peace Fleece yarn I dyed using last year's tick weed.  It's going to be just the perfect color for a little Luna Sweater.

What are you knitting this week?

p.s.  Joining Ginny for Yarn Along



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A New Adventure :: Mama Collaborative





I'm so very excited to announce tomorrow's grand opening of Mama Collaborative.  We are a group of nine amazingly talented artisan women, from around the world, coming together in support of each other's creative pursuits.

The shop will be a collection of natural goods for mama, baby, crafting and home, stocking on a seasonal basis.  The first being Spring.

I invite you all to sign up for the newsletter to be notified of stocking dates and inspiration through out the year.

Email Address:


Meet The Artists

Kim:
I am a homeschooling mama to one, a writer, nature lover, dreamer, foodie, lover of all things handmade, and a creative doer. I am happy to be here with these other inspiring mamas.

Melanie:
Home school mama to five in New England. We spend our days together creating all sorts of things, attempting to garden, reading good books, and observing the natural world, where we draw much inspiration. 


Tonya:
So happy to be working with these other women to share our creative pursuits. As a mom of seven children, I find joy and beauty in the daily ordinary of raising a family, keeping up with our homestead dreams, and helping to run a family business.  

naturalearthfarm.net/blog

Jules:
Hello, I'm Jules and I'm delighted to be with these inspiring women. I am a mama, a wife, and a shepherd who loves all things woolly. We are raising our three kids on a farm in BC, trying to make as much of our own food, clothing, and furniture. 




Kris:
I am a mama to four and farmer's wife who loves all things handmade. We live on a small farmstead in Vermont where we attempt to grow most of our food and raise veggies, milk, eggs, meats and maple for our community. 

www.oldgatesfarm.com

Taisa:
I am a mama to three, living in a cabin in the mountains where we homeschool, make stuff and grow a weedy little garden. I am delighted to be joining these amazing, creative mamas in this collaborative. 

heartfullearning.com

Melody:
A yarn obsessed, homeschooling mother of five, aspiring designer and artisan of life. Her creativity and children run amuck in a messy house and untamed garden, in a wild wood, on a mountain in New England. 

www.littlehomeblessings.com

Kirsten:
Passionate knitter, sewer, toymaker.  She prefers to use vintage, upcycled, or sustainable made materials in her craft.  She spends her free time drinking coffee and going on walks with her family in Western North Carolina.

littlepennycress.blogspot.com


Thanks so much for your support!  You can also find us on Instagram and Facebook @mamacollaborative  We hope to see you there.



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10 Things to Love About Life in February






Now that February's almost over and I've only posted once, oh wait I haven't at all.  I thought it would be more efficient to post about all the things I've loved about life in February.  So here we go...

:: Traveling to Florida to visit my mom and dad.  

:: Seed catalogs

:: Buds on the trees

:: A mostly still full woodshed

:: Long, lazy mornings by the fire, reading out loud together, knitting, and stitching

:: After being without for over a month, a finally fixed computer

:: Significantly more daylight

:: Biscuit making

:: Crunchy snow and mud

:: Piles of books

How about you?  What were your favorite things about February?


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Knit Trees



Luke was looking out the window the other day and mentioned that he missed the trees. More specifically, he missed all the colors of the autumn leaves and having giant old trees near the house like we did in town. Sigh.  Me, too.  I miss the low hanging branches of the fifty year old basswood out our front window and the maple, out the back, of the same age.  Moving out here meant giving up a few of those things that we loved, but we gained so much more.

He agreed.

Still, the trees.

He and I picked out a few of our favorite fall colors and I'm going to knit a tree garland for the window.   It won't be quite the same, but maybe some color will help perk things up!


What's on your needles this week?

p.s.  Joining Ginny




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Taking Stock



When it feels like life is moving way too fast or I've accomplished absolutely nothing, it's nice to take stock at the end of the week.

Making: Oatmeal and brown sugar soap

Listening: Woolful Podcast #42

Snacking: Quesadilla's made right on top of the wood stove.  No dishes necessary!

Giggling: While reading out loud from "Little Heathens".  The boys made me read the chapter on outhouses twice.

Enjoying: Clearing the clutter.

Waiting: To visit my mom and dad in Florida.  They bought us all plane tickets for Christmas.  It will be Cole and Luke's first time seeing the ocean.

Loving: The clarity of the night's sky this time of year.

Buying:  This pattern.

Bookmarking: Small Business Blog

Hoping: My computer cord shorted out and I have to wait for a new one before I can upload any patterns.  It should be here on Wednesday, I hope.  Unfortunately, Birchwood will have to launch next Sunday, instead.  In the mean time, I'm having a 50% off sale on all my patterns over on Ravelry.  No coupon code needed.

Smelling: Sage from last summer's herb garden.

Admiring:  Lyrics written by my oldest son.

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Knitting Goals


Do you have knitting goals for this year?  I do.  As Rachel keeps saying, this is the year to get shit done!  {She's a breath of fresh air, this woman. If you haven't checked out her blog and Instagram, you really should.}  I have so many patterns that have been sitting in my "to finish" file, it's overwhelming and exciting and terrifying all at the same time.  Some of them have been there for years.  Most of the patterns are almost finished even, just needing the photos or tutorials put into a template.  Some of them, only need a once over and then to be uploaded to Ravelry.  I get distracted with being a mom, a wife, or that little voice in my head that says it's not good enough.  I'm working on that last one by the way.  It's a big one.  Anyway, this week, I'm starting with a pattern that is the most special to me.  It was a part of our journey to homesteading and I can't wait to tell you all about it on Sunday when the pattern goes live!



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Sweet Fern






The welcoming scents of sugar cookies, gingerbread, pumpkin pies, and fresh cut pine have all disappeared with the passing of the holidays.  While we continue fill the house with the daily smells of bread baking, coffee and other treats, the tightness of a winter home can become pretty stale by mid January. This week we decided that a little pick me up was in order.  The hill at the front edge of our property {aka the sledding hill} is covered in Sweet Fern bushes, so we made an afternoon of harvesting and sledding.  A few cups of leaves for tea and a few cups for sachet making. Several sachets will be hidden in drawers and corners around the house and many will be kept aside for restocking the shop.  

What's your favorite way to freshen up the house this winter?
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Wood Carving






While the temperatures are below zero outside, we've been finding ways to occupy our hands and minds inside.  Audio books, knitting, baking, drawing, and the latest obsession, wood carving.  Cole asked for carving knives at Solstice this year and was pleased as punch when he received not one, but two sets from various family members.  He's been spending hours nestled in front of the wood stove making swords and daggers out of pine and birch.  Last weekend, Jake and I joined in the making, too. Jake started working on a spoon, but it split just as he was finishing the bowl.  Too bad, because it looked just like this spoon and I love it for making bread.  I started a wooden mushroom, after watching this video.  For my first attempt at carving anything other than sticks around the campfire, I'm happy with how it turned out.  Just a little sanding around the edges, and I'm calling it done.  
We made a huge mess, and I didn't even care.  It was such fun and I can't wait to see what else comes of our wood carving obsession this winter.  Have you done any wood carving?  We'd love some beginner project ideas if you'd like to share.

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