Sunday, January 30, 2022

Small Town Living

There's something to be said about living in a small town. This morning I went out to the kitchen and saw a murder outside my window in the backyard. I tried to get a pic, but as soon as I was spotted the perps flew away.

A terrible photo through the blinds. The only way to capture this guys!

We have lived here over 9 years and this is the first year that the crows actually came down close to the house and visited the feeder. They have become daily visitors, with only 6 coming in at a time. They are extremely skittish and are far from aggressive with the other critters and birds that visit the feeder. I'm really surprised with that as I assumed with their size that they would be bullies. 

If you look closely, you may see it under the lowest branch.

We also have another surprise daily visitor - a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker! It is January and cold, and certainly not an area that this bird would normally be. We are in the nesting/breeding migration area, and this guy should be many, many miles south of here. The poor thing looks so cold and sits perched on the tree all puffed out. It took me forever to figure out what he was because of how puffy he was. I knew he wasn't normal for here but it wasn't until the one day he was at the suet feeder that I saw his yellow breast. Oh gosh! The poor thing!

We now have another regular visitor. I'm not sure if it's a stray or just someone that thinks what we are feeding "him" is better. Every night, usually right after dark, we have a lovely gray, white and a tiny bit of orange cat appear. It stays in the yews next to the house and will not come out until one goes inside. It has now become vocal when I call it. It lets me know it's there by answering my call with a long "meeeoooooooooow". I then bring out warmed canned cat food and he will come out as soon as the door is closed and latched. As soon as he's finished, he runs back in the bushes. I give him a second can warmed, and then after that is done I put dry out for him to eat if he wants. Nights have gone below zero (F) and I know he needs the calories. He is starting to look better, but it really bothers me that he is outside in this cold weather. I put a shelter out with a nice soft, fuzzy blanket in it, but he won't use it. I wish I knew where he went and could rest easier knowing he had a warm place to stay.

Unfortunately, the only way to photograph our shy visitor is through the window.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Twist Hat Preview Knit

Twist Hat 

 I love doing test knits for two reasons - first I get to help the designer check the pattern and give some feedback that is actually listened to. The second reason is I get to try new techniques from a pattern that I may not have been able to purchase. If I buy a pattern, I want to use it over a few times to make it worth spending the money on. On some of the test patterns, I may only want to make it once or just learn the awesome technique. 

This hat falls into the first category. I love testing for this designer. She's great!!! The pattern pictured above is called Twist Hat and is by Verily Knits. Although designed to use 2 solid colors, I decided to try something way out of my comfort zone and use a variegated yarn with a solid. Well, it's turning out a a bit unusual and I'm not sure if I like it. It's bright and cheery but busy. The good thing about doing this with a test is that those that may want to try a variegated can see what it may look like finished and then decide if they want to put the time into it or not.

Not all designers allow you to stray from their norm. Some want the item done in the same yarn as they used, others want specific colors or fibers. Then there are others that you need approval from. This test is actually called a "Preview Knit" which allows you to knit using whatever yarn you want and even make some modifications to the pattern. The pattern itself has already been tech edited and tested, so no worries about catching problems or mistakes. I love the freedom that comes with this type of test.

I'm using Knit Picks Memories in the colorway Easter and Schachenmayr Regia for Hand-dye 4-fadig/4-ply in the colorway 1992.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Garden Planning Starts Now


Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

This morning at 7am, our thermometer read -7F. Although it wreaks havoc with the old body and arthritis, I know it is only temporary and will soon be a forgotten as warmer weather approaches. It is days like these that we sit here and dream of the warmer weather to come as we plan out our gardens. 

Our seeds were all ordered last month and they have arrived, were sorted and categorized. My husband is in charge of the vegetable garden, while I do the herbs and flowers. Hubby is very excited this year as he works on his spreadsheet and plans. He tried using an app to diagram the garden, but decided it wasn't to his liking. On to find another he likes better and does what he wants. Me, I'm a simple kind of gal that puts pen to paper and write notes and sketch it all out. As you may have guessed, hubby is in IT and me, well, you already know I love arts and crafts. Funny how it shows in our methods of planning.

The other evening, I pulled out my old notebook to see if I could find some notes on a project I did years ago. Those notes weren't there, but I did find gardening notes from 2003-2005! It was interesting going back and reading them. That was another life at another house a growing zone from where we are now! One thing I'm quite sure about is, if I had written the notes using a computer, I probably wouldn't have them now. There is something to be said about doing it all the old fashioned way.

This year, I will be journaling my herbs. I bought a leather covered journal that has an old look to it. I guess you could say it looks like many of the journals that are used for the "Book of Shadows". The one I purchased has white pages, although I did want yellowed and deckled pages that had the aged look. I just wasn't sure how "aged" they were. I want something I can sketch and write on without the pages being too dark and interfering with being able to see the drawing clearly. I have enough inks, etc, that I can age my own and not worry about the pages being too dark. 

I am taking a couple of herb courses so the herb journaling is important. Actually, it's important even if I wasn't taking the courses! Learning about each herb is necessary, especially when you are growing and using them.

Last but not least, a little educational video to get the gardening mojo going...

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Mando and Grogu


The start

I confess... I am a Geek at heart. I love the comic book heroes, Harry Potter, the somewhat older Dr. Who, Star Trek and offshoots, as well as some of the Star Wars (the original trilogy and the Mandalorian.) I totally adore Mando and Grogu, so when I saw the diamond art for them posted at Amazon, and at HALF PRICE even, I HAD to order it! 

Mando and Grogu 

Diamond Art isn't for everyone. It's sparkly and very simple and has a blocky look like cross stitch. My kids think it looks cheap, but for me, it's a nice alternative to counted cross stitch, which my older eyes don't do well with any more. My start is at the lower right hand corner. So far I'm enjoying this kit!

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Last Year's Orders Trickle In


Gorgeous bulky yarn from Southern Skeins

I had done a test knit for Jenna from Southern Skeins last month. It was a lovely and easy hat pattern that used her Southern Bulky line. I ordered the yarn from her to use in the test but unfortunately, the household came down with an illness and the yarn didn't get sent in time. That was ok, as I dug into my stash and found something that would work. I know it wasn't the gorgeous Joyous colorway that is pictured above, but I was still pleased with the outcome. The yarn arrived today and oh is it beautiful! Such a bright and cherry colorway and the yarn is soooo SOFT! It is a 100 gram skein of 110 yards of a heavenly soft blend of 80% super wash Merino wool and 20% nylon and now begs to be used - and soon! She also sent me a bag, a sachet of Stash tea in Cinnamon Vanilla and a lovely stitch marker plus a note thanking me for testing! How lovely is that?!!!

Rip-It Rip-It Hat

The Rip-It Rip It Hat that is in the above photo, it the test knit I did for Jenna. You can go to Ravelry and download the pattern for free. There, you will see the hat in the Joyous colorway in all it's bright, squishy and cheerful glory. Isn't that yarn gorgeous knitted up in that hat on the pattern?!! My hat above is an unnamed mill-end and just doesn't have the same effect. I added pom pom to give it a little more color and I think it turned out quite nicely.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Test Knit and Happy Mail

From Catherine at Creative Ewe
Aren't they gorgeous??!!

Yesterday morning, I found a surprise in the mailbox - a nice squishy package addressed to me from Catherine at Creative Ewe Yarn Shop. Catherine has a wonderful YouTube channel that I love and look forward to. Her projects and her conversational style keeps me coming back again and again. Her videos are done in a style that feels like you are sitting at the table with her and having a cuppa while enjoying a nice conversation about all kinds of things from home, to family, to knitting and crocheting. Well, one day, I commented on her video and the next thing I know is that I found an email from her asking for my addy because she had something to send me. Boy did she send me something, too!!! In the package was 2 skeins of Mariquita! They are sooo soft and the colors are to die for. Each skein has 400 yards of the most luxurious 50/50 blend of baby alpaca and tencel. I have been oooh-ing and aaaaah-ing over it ever since it arrived. Now, to find the perfect pattern for them. 

On the needles:

I am currently working on a test knit for Nadia Bugakova. It's a lovely cabled pixie style hat that I'm really enjoying working on. Right now, it's slow going, not because of the design, but because my arthritis has decided to make knitting difficult. I will make the deadline, but really should have been done by now. Make sure to hop on over to Nadia's Etsy shop to if you'd love a digital download of this hat. It is just as awesome.

Peak Cable Hat in progress

I'm working on the worsted weight version of the Peak Cable Hat using Lion Brand Lion Wool in the Rose colorway. I'm using 16" circular needles in 4.5mm and 5mm as well as a cable needle. The rabbit stitch marker is from Kristie at Teadoddles. I bought one of her Mini-Mini Maker Club that was offered inher Etsy shop and that was included in it. I LOVE her Maker Bags. I'll have to show the ones I have from her in a future post. You will definitely be hearing more about Kristie and her new quarterly club that I joined this year. I can't wait to receive my first shipment!!! (and no - it's not yarn!)

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

New Year, New Challenges


Although January 1st is just another day without a calendar to mark its importance, there's something satisfying and almost mystical to think about a new year and a new beginning. Each year, my last week of the December is spent reflecting and looking at my goals list to see what I had accomplished, what I didn't get done, and deciding what I would like to roll over to the next year. Most of the time, I will roll all of the goals I didn't meet, but I do find things that won't make the cut because of life changes. Births, deaths, marriages, divorces, illnesses, moving away etc. all have an impact. Since life likes to get in the way (quite a bit I should say) I make goals and not resolutions. To me, they are much more realistic and I don't feel guilty if I don't make that goal, as there is always next year.

The goals this year are not much different than any other year. There will be a few changes - and these are bit more significant than my list from years past, so I will list them here:

  • Hubby and I will be planting a decent size garden which means a lot more work both in the garden and putting it up.
  • I'll be challenging myself to learn new skills in different crafting areas, including knitting, crochet, leatherwork, sewing, jewelry making, embroidery, paper crafting, etc
  • I have a few adult pant-by-numbers I want to do. I got them for a Christmas present for myself. 
  • I will be attempting to sew some much needed project bags
  • Now- the biggie... No more yarn purchases. I really, really need to use my stash up. I will put an exception in, and that is I may have to purchase something if my daughter requests something special. She has done that in the past, so... 
  • I am going to be working on donations throughout the year. Since I will be working on my knitting and crochet skills, I'll be working the special techniques on hats, mitts, etc., so this way I can practice my skills and create some lovely donation items. 
  • I need to smash some paper pads and supplies and get some cards made. I am planning on once again donating some cards to the #cardsforcubs program that Bearly Arts collects for every year. 
  • I'll be creating a herb study journal. I'm waiting for my journal to arrive from Amazon.
That should be enough to keep me busy for the year. I do find it funny when people complain about being bored - especially with this time of being limited on what we can and cannot do as well as limited travel. I don't have enough time in the day to get everything done, let alone be bored. LOL

Do you have any plans for this year?