Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Yarn along - what I can't show you

Joining Ginny and the ladies of the yarn along...

  I am working on a present or two for a dear friend's first baby, so until next week I can't show the knitting that has taken up most of my time lately, and boy do I want to show it. When I have not been knitting on that I have been crocheting this throw, as a Christmas present. I am looking to clean out my stash and spend as little as I can for presents this year, so this simple but soft blanket will be switching it's pattern soon. I have been doing 5 rows black then 2 rows silver, I am nearly out of black so I am going to do 5 rows silver then a row of black and 5 more rows of silver, then flip the blanket do 5 rows of silver a row of black and 5 more of silver. Hopefully, both colors will hold out and I can get a nice throw out of it. I found a tiny bit more of the black this morning so fingers crossed.
What I can show you...

This is a closeup of the black, I don't really like crocheting with it but the material is soft and warm in the blanket. As for reading I have not gotten much done, I am reading through the Backpacking reference I showed last time, it is very dry but interesting if sometimes way overly detailed. I am sure that the section on boot construction would be great if I were looking to buy boots but as a read through it is deadly dull. Which may explain the sleep I am getting as I only get a few pages done each night before turning off the light. It is good though. I have this knitting book too, which I love, I want to make lots of the things shown but more I want to have the author over for a cup of tea and knit. 

Badger has been working with her daddy on cooking her favorite breakfast food. She made me this waffle all by herself, I was in the kitchen if she needed help but the only things she asked was for me to fill up the smaller bottle with oil - she can't lift the big one - so she could measure that and if I wanted maple syrup or corn syrup. Maple, of course, although I will pour that next time.

looking forward to seeing what everyone is working on,

what we bought

Last year My husband and I decided to buy a place by the water - a lake or river that felt like home - to vacation and make memories at with the kids. Not to do this someday, but to do it now. To do it now so that our kids had childhood memories of this home. We didn't know what we wanted other than, the most we could get for the money we had, clear water good for swimming, boating, and fishing. We didn't even have a targeted county, just wanting something that we could drive to in under 4 hours so we could go for a weekend without having to take a day from work or school. Honey and I traipsed through all sorts of places, we learned about set-back laws, we - or rather I - got stuck knee deep in a peat bog that was not the dry land the seller claimed. We saw beautiful places, but after a ten hour day none were home. I was discouraged. We went again. We found it. A river property, with prairie and forest, with neat boulders and nice beach area, with a bay for the kids to swim and learn to handle a kayak in. Then the stress of buying it. By the time it was ours it was too late to show the kids more than photos. After Thanksgiving and ten inches of snow.

Christmas was kayaks and life vests, sleeping bags from grandma, stuff sacks hand made by auntie, fishing gear, and such.

This summer was camping trips, getting a driveway put it (and the nightmares of bureaucracy and expense) that come with it, building fire-pits, then enlarging them, exploring on foot and kayak, meeting the neighbors. It found Mouse researching primitive skills - he loves electronics so this was a mix of both worlds. It saw me starting a knitted quilt for the cabin we dream of building and a knitted welcome mat for same, working on these while we travel up and around the campfire.  It saw plans to learn to backpack and go on longer trips. Butterfly and Badger made sand castles and when visited by cousins spent hours building forts in the woods. We saw the most beautiful skies day and night, and even had to hide in the tent during a hailstorm. It saw us living the way we hoped and dreamed.

This dream was a stretch, we are still, and likely will for a long while, feeling a terrible pinch in money for this dream - I mentioned driveways were expensive right ?! But the dream is worth the work. Find your dream, work your dream, then live it.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Yarn along - milk sweater and a distraction

Joining Ginny for the Yarn Along.

I spent all day yesterday working on this. This however, is complicated as, which thing do I mean. The knitting of course! I am reading Northern Lights by Nora Roberts, which is paced very slowly for her. I realized about halfway through that I have seen a movie based on the book, the book is better, and luckily, I can't yet remember the ending. The Backpacking book is the latest one I am reading to gear or perhaps gird up to a hiking trip we are taking in August. I really should start walking to prep rather than just reading! I read Becoming Odyssa earlier in the week and it is very good, it is a retelling of one woman's journey both internally and externally while completing the Appalachian Trail.

Looking forward to seeing what you ladies are working on! ~ Julia

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

the me I expected to be

Back when I knew everything, aka when I was a teenager, I had an idea of what adult me would be like. Which flaws, or things I viewed as flaws, of my family and friend's families I would avoid and which things they did I would keep and incorporate into my life. I was very opinionated. Often I was right.

  • I still believe that eating a small amount of a 'real' thing - butter, bacon, Parmesan, etc - was better than eating a lot of junk. 
  • I still believe that freshly baked bread is better tasting and better for you than store bought. 
  • I still believe that cake tastes best not from a box.
  • I still believe that family is the most important people in your world so keeping a pretty house and good dishes should be everyday not just for company.
  • I still believe that a book or radio is better than tv.
  • I still believe that every yard should have a garden and the whole family - kids included - should be responsible for working it.
  • I still believe in meals at the table, made fresh from ingredients. 
  • I still believe that laundry should be done often, not just when you are out of underwear, and it should be dried on the line. 

I still believe a lot of things, but I recently got to thinking about this and my implementation of my beliefs is very spotty. So I am calling myself out.

  • Put down the candy and store bought doughnuts.
  • Bake bread more and not just the one plain white recipe, experiment.
  • Baking the kids a cake, make it real, if it is an everyday cake fruit is better than 7up.
  • Clean up a little everyday - maybe the kids will notice and help. Get out the good dishes. clean your own room rather than just trying to get the kids to pick up their rooms. Show them they are important with more than cuddles, games, and words.
  • Turn off the tv, especially at night. I will often stay up later than I want to not because I am watching something interesting but simply because I am too tired to make a decision for I flip from channel to channel watching bits and pieces of something. 
  • My husband doesn't like to garden, and truthfully I don't like to in the middle either. I love planning, cleaning the garden,  and planting. I really love harvest and processing the fruits and veggies, but that middle bit you know weeding and watering not working harder on that limits my garden greatly. I need to mitigate my response, either by planning a lower maintenance garden or by doing that dreaded middle work.
  • Actually, dinners every night at the table we do, but I'd like to teach the kids family style and table settings.
  • My husband does most of the kids laundry up to a point. That point is folding it. He doesn't. I usually end up waiting until there is a mountain, then being irritated by it. He does a lot of work and I should appreciate more it rather than being worn out by the mountain. Hopefully I can try to keep up instead of catch up and that will help.
Hopefully, I can catch up with my teenage self. Today, when the kids got home we had tea, with scones that were ready and still warm. I always saw myself as the mom who would have everyday tea parties with her kids. They loved it and it got snack-time over quickly too. I am thinking gingerbread for tomorrow.

Monday, October 19, 2015

A new technique

Picture batt from California trip with Beaver, Navajo plyed!

 My guild had a program on Navajo plying. I was really interested in learning the technique but my back has been hurting like crazy, so I couldn't haul my wheel along with me to the meeting - heck I had a hard time picking up my purse when it spilled on the floor - I almost decided not to go. I am glad I went.

Basically this is a method of taking a single strand of yarn and plying it into a three ply - stronger and more round for knitting. It also allows you to play with the changes in a colorway while plying to either keep them together or to blend them in the ply.

I have practiced on two skeins now. I really like it and go way to fast. My grandma nearly despaired of ever teaching me to so because I have a lead foot, apparently it is two lead feet Grams!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Bits and bobs from this month

This is Badger, we hit a great park to play in while waiting between husband's cousin's wedding and reception. We spent almost two hours playing at North Beach Park in Racine. This is an amazing park.

Mom knows everything. I hope they always think so. They found this feather in the yard. Who lost it? I don't know. Guess who I asked, my Mom.

This is the star jasmine plant I bought myself as a remembrance of my trip to LA with Beaver. He wants to go there for college (not yet!) and had the opportunity to meet some people who might be able to help and have his work reviewed. He wants to do set design/monster creation type work.

Every year I help a friend harvest her grapes and she helps me harvest my apples. I took home a big bag of green unripe ones she was not planning on using. I found a recipe for sour grape pickles. We shall see.

I made jam out of the rest of the unripe grapes, it is tarter that the ripe ones but these grapes are seriously candy sweet so that is not a terrible thing.

Mouse surprised us all with wanting to go out for Cross Country this year. We asked if he knew it involved exercise and being outside... then agreed quickly. He loves computers, and unless we force him would be on them all the time, so this was a surprise. He loved it and worked hard. He came in at the middle of the pack and his school took 3rd over-all. He is the one with the curly hair.

Triangle loom weaving project. I enjoyed it but will need a much bigger loom to make anything not for my girls.

Butterfly reading her birthday card from my sister. I have a beautiful new nephew.

He is moving so he is blurry but that is Beaver. He loves his team.

Sheep - BFL

Bluefaced Leicester affectionately known as BFL.
BFL is originally from Northumberland and was primarily raised for meat. However, its fluffy wool is a hand-spinning favorite. Fleeces average between 2.2 –and 6.6 pounds. Rams weight between 200 and 250 pounds with Ewes weight between 150-175 pounds. BFL is often used to add hardiness to other sheep breeds.
This is a long-wool breed with a staple length between 3-6 inches and a micron count of 24-28. It is semi-lustrous and quality fleece will have no kemp or hair fibers.
The sheep is said to have deep blue skin with white wool. I am unsure if this means blue in the same way a Russian Blue cat is actually a grey cat, or if they are really blue, but I plan on checking at sheep and wool, live and in person. I am hoping for blue, blue! The breed does carry a recessive gene for dark wool and can present with soft spotted tones or fully darker wool. It should not ever have clearly defined spots.
This breed has no wool on its head, belly, genitals, and utters. It is considered to be an athletic breed with a bold carriage and Roman nose.

Brewing in my kitchen

Well, it is not actually in the kitchen anymore as my Husband requested it move so he could make dinner, but you get the idea...

And the idea is that I am making beer. This is my first try at all grain brewing. An all wheat beer with Cluster and Czech Sazz hops, Orange peel and Star Anise. The first tasting - right before the yeast was pitched was kind of gingerbread-y, so I am hoping that continues.

This is right after the yeast was pitched. Yes, I hate the tiles!

The next morning the yeast monster has awoken.

The foaming spilling overflow, this is my first time using a blow off hose too. I love it. No worries about cleaning beer off the ceiling. 
I have siphoned this to the secondary now and tasted it again. It lost a little of the gingerbread-i-ness and was weak at 3%apv, so I played. I brew wine and cider and mead too so rules are really guidelines. Sorry Germany. I boiled up two cups of simple syrup with cinnamon sticks, star anise, orange peal, and ginger. when that cooled I strained it and added it to the beer. Which technically, might not exactly be beer anymore, but hopefully will still be tasty.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Sheep - East Friesian

One of the things I have been doing is writing the newsletter for my spinning guild. One segment I am working on is on sheep breeds I thought I would share what I found out with you. So here goes, I love spinning this fiber by the way.

The wool from these sheep is approximately 35-37 micron with a staple length of about 4.5 to 6.5 inches and their fleece ranges from 8.8–11 pounds. Remembering that lower micron counts are finer and that Merino average a 10 micron this is fairly coarse wool.
These sheep have clean faces, legs, and tails. Often referred to as rat-tails they do not need to be clipped for hygiene and are distinctive of the breed. Friesians are not considered a hardy or adaptable sheep, however they do well cross bred and are often bred to increase milk production of lambing in a sheep bloodline. They do not fare well in hot climates, preferring a heathland type of environment. Originally kept as household milk producers they don’t do well in crowded flocks.
East Friesian are considered to be the heaviest milking breed of sheep in the world. They were developed in the same region as the Holstein, the Friesland area of Germany and Holland. The average milk production of the East Friesian can exceed 1,000 lbs. of milk during a 220 to 240-day lactation.
East Friesians are efficient lamb producers. Mature ewes average more than two lambs per lambing. Commonly bred with Lacunae and Awassi breeds, these sheep came to American in the 1990’s but are now fairly common in Wisconsin. Historically these are a white cream sheep but with cross breeding browns and black are becoming common.

Here is the link to the farm blog for these cute sheep.

hi world it's me Julia

I took a bit of a break from blogging. At least from actually sitting down and writing out a post, I written hundreds in my head. What the quiet has taught me is I take more pictures and had something to look back at a remember exactly what I was thinking at the moment rather than what I think I was feeling from the point of view of where I am at now. So I will be fitting in more time to record my thoughts.

Finally finished the hairpin lace throw I made for my Grandpa from yarn I inherited from my Grandmother's Stash. He loves it and has shown it off to all the ladies at the senior center. They are impressed with me and with my Grandma for teaching me.

I washed a lot of wool.

Did a lot of craft fairs selling my work and my Dad's these are his work - bowls, pens, crochet hooks, wine stoppers... He is amazing.

Canned a bunch of stuff - only balanced like that for the photo, I am not completely crazy - these are tomato sauce and grape jelly.

We bought property to vacation on, Grow with and eventually move too. It is on a river flowage. I love the idea of my kids running all over this land, finding nature's hidden joys and secret places. Just being in the woods, calms and brings out the kid in my husband. It has been worth the budgeting and the frustration of the search just to see the stress and care fall from his shoulders as we explored the woods. Even if I didn't love it in it's own right - which I do - I would love it for that alone.

I took up weaving and gave some of the family handwoven placemats for Christmas. I really enjoy doing this.

I started writing a novel. I hide in a local coffee shop read while I eat their yummy breakfasts and write for a while. I have about 70 pages, hand written, so I have only just begun, but it is a bit like a date with myself as I intended to be in high school.

Lots of baking, brewing - beer, wine, and cider, I tried making sausage and cheese and plan to explore that a bit more. I've also worked more on the garden this year. We'll see, I like gardening but more in the planning and harvesting and processes aspects that in the tending it aspect.