There has not been much time for writing blog posts lately. Summertime is busy, and our days have been full with work, and the garden, and with all kinds of projects around here. It has felt good to be making progress. I also can’t believe that it’s July already. I know I say that a lot. I just wanted to pop by for a quick hello, and thought I’d share this pretty little columbine flower. (Because you know I’m never too busy to be taking pictures of flowers in the garden!) Have you been soaking up summertime?
Our harvests the last few months have been full of lots of garden greens. I wrote before about what we were harvesting in the winter– things like mache and endive. Our spring garden and beginning garden harvests are always very green too. We’ve been bringing in:
–Lettuce (All different varieties. Grateful to be enjoying lots of fresh salads!)
–Wasabina (I wrote about that new discovery for us last year, in this post.)
–Kale (Still enjoying Beira, that I mentioned last year, and new to us this year- Thousandhead Kale from Baker Creek. We’ve been eating lots of kale with our meals- in stir fries and soups. We have dehydrated a bunch to use for future soups and Jeff also made some kale chips. We steam it first, then dehydrate it.)
–Collards (We enjoy collards the same way we enjoy our kale. This year’s variety- Jeff grew Georgia Collards by High Mowing)
–Arugula (As I’ve said many times before, I love arugula. I wrote about the two varieties we grow in this post.)
–Red Mustard (Jeff planted Japanese Giant Red Mustard this year. We love it. We’ve sautéed it with stir fries, the flavor is mellowed when we do that. I love the spice, though, so prefer to eat it the same way I love the Wasabina- cut it up in our bowl and then put a warm stir fry on top, which wilts the greens. Delicious! Jeff also decided to experiment and tried fermenting the ribs. They were delicious, but too stringy.)
–Amaranth (Such a beautiful color! Jeff grew this variety for the first time- Chinese Multicolor Spinach.)
–Microgreens (I wrote about them before in our winter harvests post. Some of our favorites are sunflower, arugula, mustard, broccoli, and cilantro. Cilantro microgreens are unreal! One of my favorite things ever. We buy our seeds from True Leaf Market. They are a good place to check out if you are wanting to learn more about growing microgreens. Jeff grew lots of microgreens in the winter and then slowed down in the spring when he was using the space in the greenhouse to get starts going for the garden. He plans to start growing more again as the space becomes available.)
–French Dandelion (Another green Jeff planted this year. This one.)
–Sorrel (The flavor of sorrel is unlike any other. B was SO excited when he discovered some growing wild here, ever since he learned about it he always searched it out on hikes. The tart, lemony flavor is so delicious. Jeff grew this variety from High Mowing, and we added it to salads.)
–Carrots (We’ve grown lots of different varieties. One of Jeff’s new favorites is Pusa Asita Black. It’s not shown in the carrot picture above, the color is very dark. B and I recently finished thinning out all of our carrots in the garden and the ones we pulled that were the Pusa Asita Black actually dyed our hands purple just by touching them!)
–Chijimisai (Grew this variety from Baker Creek for the first time this year. He fermented the Chijimisai, added spices to give it some heat, and it was unbelievably delicious- actually one of the best ferments I’ve ever tasted.)
–Cilantro (Always a favorite. I’m a cilantro fanatic.)
–Sprouting Broccoli (Pictured above. It was a beautiful purple color, which we loved. A fun and tasty addition to our meals. Might not grow that one again though because we have limited space and always need to prioritize what we love growing best.)
We’ve also been harvesting watercress, basil, parsley, and rosemary. Jeff just planted some papalo, knowing we wanted to grow that again this year. Sunny days mean the time of year for making sun teas again. For our sun teas, we’ve been enjoying bergamot, peppermint, spearmint, lemon verbena, and catnip. We’re also growing Tulsi Basil, and can’t get enough of it. It’s so good!
As the season warms up, we start seeing more color out there and in our harvests. We’ve been enjoying some berries for awhile- red currants, black currants, honeyberries, and strawberries. Now, a few days into summer, we’re enjoying raspberries, and the first ripe blueberries. As always, feeling so grateful for the garden, and to my husband- a lifelong passionate gardener- who puts so much hard work and love every day into growing such good food for our family. Gardeners, please share your favorite varieties and things to grow with us, we love discovering new favorites!
I’ve loved seeing all the different irises in bloom this year around the garden. Most years we have had a few colors of irises, then Jeff planted more varieties last year. This spring it’s been so fun to have new ones everywhere. Such beauty!
Speaking of irises, they inspired Jeff to create these iris earrings to offer in the shop. Aren’t they beautiful? I adore the little works of art that he makes. These earrings were made in yellow cedar wood so they are very lightweight. The wood is also absorbent, making these perfect to use as aromatherapy earrings- just put a drop of essential oil on the back of each earring to enjoy your favorite scent while you wear them.
We are offering free shipping in the U.S. for one week for our iris earrings, along with our trillium earrings. (It’s already adjusted in the listing, so no need to enter a coupon code.) The free shipping for our hand-painted flower earrings will be good through Monday, the 14th. We appreciate your support, we love creating!
In March I wrote a little about our greenhouse, and how much we appreciated having it through the winter. We have really appreciated having it in the springtime too! Jeff has planted many seeds this spring, and having a greenhouse has been so helpful for that. He hooked up electricity to the greenhouse when he was building it, and having lights was amazing for growing microgreens throughout the winter months, and now in the spring has given the plant starts an extra boost. And it’s so warm in there. On cold, rainy days it felt like a warm retreat, and now on sunny days as the weather warms up it gets so hot in there- even with windows and doors open- it’s gotten up to 120 degrees!
See that solar panel to the left of the greenhouse in the pictures above? That’s one of our next projects- to get that solar panel hooked up to run a fan inside. A friend gave it to us years back, he no longer wanted it. The technology has changed a lot since it’s making- the solar panels now are much more lightweight and energy efficient, but that one will more than meet our needs for what we’re wanting it for. We’d like to run more than a fan off it eventually too.
My mom visited in the fall when we were beginning the process of building it, so she has been asking me to send her some pictures of the finished greenhouse. As you know, it takes me awhile to sort pictures in the midst of busy life, so you can thank her for giving me the push to finally get these posted. 🙂 I snapped some pictures of the greenhouse while the lilacs were in bloom, I thought it was such a beautiful sight.
Jeff and I decided to use cattle panels in the construction. (We are really loving cattle panels for projects! I already shared about the Cattle Panel Trellis we put up in the garden last year, and I have more projects to show you in future posts.) When looking at the front of the greenhouse, the roof and the right side wall are cattle panels covered in greenhouse plastic. The cattle panels on that side go all the way to the ground. On the left side wall of the greenhouse, along with the front and the back, there are reclaimed windows as well as greenhouse plastic and cedar fencing. We purchased the greenhouse plastic from FarmTek, in case you are interested.
There are so many things I love about the greenhouse. I’ll mention a few little details shown in the pictures. On the front left there is a wooden face Jeff carved, along with a windchime a friend made with silverware. The colorful window in the front is another favorite thing. Jeff visualized a stained glass window when he was constructing the front. An actual stained glass window would have been awesome, but cost prohibitive, so he found an alternative- one that stuck to a regular window making it look like stained glass. I thought it was a pretty creative idea, and it’s so beautiful when the light shines through. I also love the birdhouse Jeff made, attached to the right corner post, and the little bit of cattle panel sticking out on that side (purposely) so we can use it for a trellis.
Jeff and I built a few raised beds in front of the greenhouse. They’ve been planted with lettuce, lupines, marigolds, columbines, red mustard, wasabina, and carrots. Everything has grown so much since I took these pictures. The valerian plant that is pictured in the pot between the two beds is taller than me now and covered in fragrant flowers. The two bamboo stakes in front of the left bed are for draping shade cloth over during the daytime because everything was getting too hot. Oh, one more thing I should mention from the pictures- next to the lights inside is a brown looking ball hanging- that is a praying mantis egg sack (ootheca.) We’ve had several hatch so far and we have little praying mantises all over the greenhouse. B is quite delighted about that.
I still smile remembering and thinking of the space being cleared for the greenhouse, the posts being set in concrete, the cattle panels being set in place (with the help of my dad visiting that day), each window that got put up, and the evening when the three of us draped the greenhouse plastic over the top and worked to get it secured before it got too dark to see. So many times I headed outside from the kitchen to visit Jeff in the garden and admire the next thing he got done on it, or lend him an extra hand for a minute before continuing onto my other tasks. The whole thing was truly a labor of love, and I’m so grateful to Jeff for all he put into building it because it’s been such a blessing for our family. It’s also made it so he could start a lot more plants to share with our friends for their gardens.
This is not the first greenhouse Jeff has built here, he has lived on this land for over 35 years, and has built a handful of greenhouses in that time. (The others are no longer, though one is still in the process of being taken apart to salvage any reclaimable pieces.) This one, though, is by far the favorite. We all really love it.
The sweet scent of lilacs on the breeze… apple blossoms everywhere… birds singing… hummingbirds buzzing… seeds sprouting up… new flowers in bloom each day… all these things truly make it feel like spring. See the first picture of the apple blossoms? The one with the pink blossoms before they opened? Don’t they remind you of little rosebuds? Every spring when I see them, that’s what they make me think of. We had a record amount of blossoms on our apple trees this year, that was a happy sight. And we breathed in the scent of the lilacs every time we passed them, savoring them to the fullest, before they faded away.
These pictures were taken maybe three weeks back? By the time I share pictures of what is in bloom in our garden, those things are always done blooming. Can you relate? Life is so busy- sorting and sharing pictures doesn’t happen as quickly as life moves, and everything in the garden changes so quickly it’s hard to keep up. But here they are- the lilacs and apple blossoms- some of my favorite spring sights around here.
Over the years I’ve had family and friends come to me, wanting to learn how to knit and asking where to start. That’s why I’m writing this post, and sharing about my very favorite book for learning how to knit. If you’ve been wanting to learn how to knit, or know someone who does, I hope some things I’ve shared here will be helpful on your knitting journey.
On November 28, 2018, I wrote on the calendar that our son learned to knit and started knitting a hat. He was so excited! B had just turned 8 the month before. He had been interested in learning to knit and had been asking me to teach him. Watching me knit his entire life, he had always been interested in playing with yarn alongside me. When he was younger, before he was ready to learn how to knit, but when he wanted to play with some yarn, we started with a knitting tower. He worked with it a little bit, but what he really loved was learning to finger knit.
Our friend taught him how to finger knit when we took handwork classes with her at the Waldorf School in town. I searched for a tutorial to share with you and was grateful when I came across this video by Sarah at Bella Luna Toys because she does a great job of showing how to do it. (There are more complicated finger knitting methods you can learn, but her tutorial shows the method we learned, and the one that is great for children to begin with.) I wanted to mention it here because B loved it so much, and would gravitate towards it whenever he needed a relaxing, quiet activity. I thought some of you might enjoy it too.
When B wanted to learn to knit with knitting needles, I surprised him with the book ‘Susan B. Anderson’s Kids’ Knitting Workshop.‘ What a delightful book! I love it so much, I cannot recommend it enough. I truly wished I had that book when I was first learning to knit, it’s such a great resource, and that’s why I wanted to be sure to share it with you here. (And it’s not just a great book for kids, but people of all ages who want to learn.) B and I decided to start with the project Susan recommends starting with in the book- Little Hat. We went to Cozy yarn shop to get the knitting needles, and for B to pick out the yarn he wanted to use to knit the hat. I loved his excitement as he picked out yarn for his very first knitting project.
I was amazed by how quickly he learned to knit. I thought perhaps watching me knit all those years might have had something to do with it? For me, I found it challenging when I was learning to knit- several different people showed me how and each had their own method, and I was confused and overwhelmed and it was tricky for me to get the hang of it at first. I want to mention that in case any of you felt discouraged. When it finally clicked for me it was the best feeling, and felt like I had always been knitting. And then I remember thinking ‘this is simple, why did I think it was going to be so hard?’
If I were to learn again I would probably go to a quiet place and watch a video showing how to do the knit stitch over and over again, and practice until it became second nature. There are a lot of videos on youtube to teach you how to knit! It’s also wonderful to learn from a knitter in your life. I’m very grateful to the people who taught me to knit, and to the friend who walked me through many of my early projects. I’m especially grateful because knitting became such an important part of my life. I’ve found knitting to be so soul-filling over the years, which is why I love sharing it with others.
Now it’s a few years later since B first started his hat. In the beginning excitement, he showed his hat proudly to our friends at fiber festivals and yarn shops, and it was sweet to witness everyone’s enthusiasm and encouragement. (You sure can count on a group of knitters to cheer on new knitters!) His interest in knitting has ebbed and flowed since then, he picks it up now and then and knits a few stitches or a few rows and then sets it down again.
Out of the blue last month he asked me to teach him the purl stitch. He wanted to do a row of purl stitches in his hat, and that is what he was working on in the picture above. He has been looking over his hat, talking about wanting to keep it just as it is- mistakes and all- because it’s special, being his first knitting project. I felt the same way about my first knitting project, I didn’t know how to fix mistakes yet, and liked seeing how my knitting progressed throughout. My first knitting project (back in 2005) turned out to be a wonky bit of knitted fabric, but I loved it so much and was so proud I had made it.
Awhile back, when I was asked to teach a knitting class for our homeschool co-op, I suggested that anyone wanting to participate get the needles and yarn to make the Little Hat project in Susan’s book. I agree with her that knitting in the round is the easiest way to begin. I cast on the projects for everyone participating and just had them focus solely on learning the knit stitch. There were a few teens there who picked it up immediately, and again I was amazed at how quickly and easily knitting can come. (One of them knit the Wrap Bracelet pattern in the book, rather than the hat because she wanted to make something she could finish that day.) Many of the younger kids watched with interest for a few minutes and then wanted to run off and play in the sunshine (I didn’t blame them.) It made my heart so happy to get a few people knitting that day.
I wanted to write this post to encourage those of you who have been wanting to learn how to knit or have been wanting to teach someone else and are looking for a good way to start. I recommend ordering Susan B. Anderson’s Kids’ Knitting Workshop book, and getting the knitting needles and yarn to make the Little Hat project. The book does a great job of walking you through the process, and then there are always online videos or local knitters that can help too. Happy Knitting!
P.S. The book is not only great for beginners, but also for seasoned knitters who are looking for fun, simple projects. There are adorable patterns throughout and I’ve knit a few of them for gifts. This headband pictured is the Toasty Headband pattern from the book. I knit this one for my nephew to wear during his skiing lessons. (The yarn is Quince & Co. Puffin in the River colorway.) B kindly modeled it, so I could snap a quick picture of it before I mailed it out.
P.P.S. Another pattern I knit from the book- the Cowl pattern on page 63. The one pictured I knit for Jeff’s grandson. (The yarn is discontinued.) I also knit this Cowl pattern for my son and shared about it in this post. This is such a great pattern for a simple cowl, and I have yarn set aside to knit another one soon. I also have yarn set aside to make the Owl Toy pattern and there are so many other projects from the book on my to-knit list!
Lately I’ve been feeling grateful for…
…My family. Always my family. They are my everything. And everything I do is for them.
…Flowers blooming, the sound of birds singing, and seeds sprouting up. There is so much hope in spring. (The daffodils already came and went here. Don’t you just love seeing their cheerful yellow after a long winter?)
…Getting to meet my new nephew (a few states away) on zoom. He is simply precious.
…The satisfaction of long days working hard accomplishing tasks. Some days Jeff and I have barely been able to lift our arms by the end, yet feel so good as we look around with big smiles on our faces at all we’ve accomplished.
…Overhearing our son singing to himself. That sound fills my heart more than I could say.
…Kindred spirits, and friendships that last the test of time. A true gift.
…Making it over here to my blog more often lately, which is something that feeds my spirit.
…How much lighter my heart feels, despite worries and concerns, when I simply quiet down for a few moments, breathe deeply, and reflect on what I’m feeling grateful for.
What are you feeling grateful for right now?
My sister had a baby boy last week! I’m blessed to have five nephews now. I sent this little vest out to her last month. I love baby knits, don’t you? This is the second time I’ve knit the Pebble Vest pattern (the pattern is available for free on Ravelry), and I think it’s so adorable. I knit it up with Verdant yarn by Abundant Earth Fiber. It was really lovely yarn to knit with and I’m so fond of the natural grey color. (That particular colorway doesn’t look to be currently available on their website, but they have a ton of other options.)
I finished up the vest with some WoolyMossRoots buttons that Jeff made in black walnut wood. As always, they were the perfect finishing touch. I’m so grateful for the buttons that Jeff makes- they are so smooth, so beautiful, and really feel like they add a soulful magic to everything they touch. And I’m a fan of the deep hue of the black walnut wood. I’ve used black walnut wood buttons with grey knits before and also with yellow knits and those are two combinations I really like.
The size of the buttons were perfect for the buttonholes and I liked the way the size looked with the knit, but if I were to knit it again I would have made one alteration- and that would be to change the amount of buttons on the vest. I would have one button at the top of the shoulder strap (rather than the two the pattern calls for, they were really scrunched together) and four buttons along the side of the vest (rather than the five), and make them evenly spaced. Though I also think it looks cute as can be just the way it is.
I know my new nephew will get some hand-me-down handknits from his older brother, but I wanted to start him off with one of his own too… a little something made specially for him.
P.S. Looks like I need to get a small size hanger to take pictures of my baby knits on, I barely fit the vest on the one pictured. Also it kind of took me by surprise when I was sorting through these pictures because B is holding the vest in the top photo and I couldn’t believe those were his hands! I thought- those are not a child’s hands, they look so grown up. Little things like that remind us how quickly they grow, don’t they?
Inspired by the beautiful trillium flowers that bloom in the woods around our home each spring, Jeff created these trillium earrings. They are little works of art, with a lot of love put into each and every pair. A special offering this spring, there are a limited amount of them available. I would share more about them here, but I wrote all about them over in the shop so to keep from repeating myself, I’ll direct you there. Happy Spring!
This was a special project a long time in the making. I actually finished it in the earlier part of last year, but am just now sharing about it (which is what often happens when I share about knitting projects.) My Grandma Zoe (who my son called Great Grandma Zoe) used to crochet a lot, and each person in our family has a beautiful blanket made by her, including me. She had yarn to make a blanket for my nephew, but her dementia made it so that she wasn’t able to crochet anymore and the blanket was never made. Being the knitter in the family, my stepmom passed the yarn along to me. As soon as I saw the speckled blue and green skeins, there seemed no decision needed to be made as to what to make with the yarn, I felt so surely that the purpose of the yarn was exactly what it had first been intended for- a blanket for my nephew. Both of my stepsisters always seemed to have a close relationship with their grandma, and it made my heart happy to be able to use my hands to make the project Zoe would have liked to make.
I had seen a blanket I really liked when I was at Cozy yarn shop one day. It was a simple seed stitch and I made a mental note that if I ever knit a blanket I would like to make one similar. That’s what I decided to do, since I knew I wanted something simple that I could work on all the time (rather than something complicated that would take my full concentration.) There were six skeins of Nature’s Choice Organic Cotton (it’s discontinued now), and to make the blanket I cast on 143 stitches (you can cast on any amount, but the odd number is needed for the seed stitch), and then K1, P1 every row. I used size 9 knitting needles (recommended size for that yarn), and kept knitting and knitting until I ran out of yarn. (I thought I’d share those details for any of you knitters who were curious about what I did.)
The blanket came along with me on our road trip to Wyoming the summer before last, and I got a lot of progress made on it during the drive. My stepmom wound the skeins of yarn into balls of yarn to get it ready for me, so I could keep knitting away, and that was awesome. I had never knit a blanket before and was a bit concerned that it would take me far too long to finish it. I worked on it when we had our weekly movie night, brought it along with me places if I thought I’d have a few minutes to knit, and bit by bit the blanket grew. I think it took me a little over a year, and then suddenly I was almost out of yarn and I could hardly believe it- is the blanket really almost finished? When I cast off the last stitches and had a look at the blanket, my first thought was that it looked more like a shawl than a blanket. But you know what? It was so soft… and so cozy… and I decided it was perfect just the way it was.
My stepsister has had three boys now. I think Zoe was going to make the blanket for her firstborn. I sent it to her youngest, though really felt it was a gift for all of the boys. B took a picture of me holding the blanket out in the garden before I sent it. As I wrapped it up to mail to them, I thought of Zoe and felt that she would be happy knowing the blanket was made. I know it sure made my heart happy to do it.
P.S. My nephew also got a pair of slippers. I knit this pattern, with this yarn. Also cotton yarn, like the blanket. I usually knit with wool, not cotton, so it felt different to knit with, but so soft and made for a great knit. The pattern is for baby booties, but these knit up larger- perfect for slippers, which I love. I decided to knit each one in a different color, which I also love! I thought it was really fun.