Friday, December 22, 2017

Bug Be Gone!

What strikes fear into the lives of fiber loving yarny people?  Moths and/or any other natural fiber eating creepy crawly flying insect.  One random sighting of something flying or crawling near a fiber/yarn stash is enough to make a fiber-ista plumb apoplectic. 

This is nothing to mess around with people!  And the suggestion of switching to man-made fibers is abhorrent at best.

Some of the common remedies to prevent a heartbreaking infestation include:  quarantining all new purchase of fiber and yarn, a little time in the deep freeze, storing in a black plastic bag in the trunk of your vehicle during the hottest time of the year, slipping some aromatic cedar sachets in with your lovely fiber, and my least favorite suggestion of throwing a few mothballs (YUCK!!!) in your stash.

Another remedy, that is my favorite, is the use of lavender.  Cedar would be my next favorite, but I lack cedar trees to provide me with an ongoing supply with which to make my own sachets.

Lavender is quite hardy in my growing area.  It is also a very forgiving plant.  Basically, I made a one time purchase of a few plants and stuck them in the ground and ignored them until they were blooming and I was ready to harvest.  There are several varieties of plants to choose from.  If you prefer, you can always choose to start your plants from seed, but I have had limited success with this option.  Some sources suggest that harvest should occur when the flowering stalks have just begun to bud, while others suggest waiting until the majority of flowers have opened.  My approach:  get to it when I can.  I cut handfuls of flower stalks, tie with twine and hang upside down on my sunporch to dry.  Once dry, it is quite simple to twist the stalk between your fingers making the dried buds/flowers pop off. 

The smell...oh, the smell. 

This year, as a little gift for some of my yarny friends, I made sachets with some of the lavender that has been harvested from my garden. 

First, using some scrap muslin, I cut out about 3-1/2 inch squares and stitched two pieces together with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.  You could certainly make the pouches whatever size you desire. Be sure to leave a small opening to both turn the little square pouch and also to use to fill with the lavender. 

In a bowl, mix equal parts plain, uncooked white rice and lavender buds.  The rice adds some weight to the sachet and also adds an abrasive quality to help "rough up" the lavender buds and release more of their oils.  If you wish, you can also add a couple of drops of lavender essential oil to the rice to boost the scent.  Use a funnel to spoon your desired amount of the rice/lavender bud mixture into the pouch, then hand stitch the opening closed. 

Perfect little lavender sachets ready to save the day and protect the investment of your stash!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Stuck in time...

Every day, on my way to and from work, I pass a lonely farm that sits at the edge of modern encroachment.  The stories that could be told if it could only speak. 

The farmhouse sits atop a rise where it had the early morning sun streaming through the back windows and its inhabitants could sit on the front porch basking in the golden rays of the setting sun.  The fields behind it surely were verdant and lush...most likely with the quintessential Midwest Hoosier corn crops.

What were the people like?  Did the woman of the house spend her mornings baking bread and preparing meals for the farm workers?  Did crisp white sheets hang on the clothesline and snap in the breeze?  Were there children that rose early in the morning, wiping the sleep from their cherubic faces, pulling on their clothes and dragging their feet outside to get the morning chores done before school?

I like to make up stories about what life must have been like in this home and on this farm.

Now it sits, empty and neglected.  The interstate and modern life sidling up like a cancer.
It will be torn down, that is an eventuality.  And with it, another chunk of the past will die.  

Honestly, it breaks my heart to watch and know what is coming.  Why do I do all the "old fashioned" things?  Simply put, there are parts of life that are worth preserving the knowledge of, nothing new can improve upon them.  So, at the heart of it,  I choose to learn and practice all those things that allow me the independence of being as completely self-reliant as possible.  It is a freedom that cannot be bought.

And, of course, IF I'm sitting, then I'm knitting.  There are socks to be made, afterall.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


If you asked me, even five years ago, what my favorite seasons were, the answer would have been a triumphant exclamation of the wonders of all that is summer.  Not so much anymore.  

Seasons are necessary and are a reflection of our own life process.  Without calm and still, there can be no excitement and activity. 

Winter seemed to me to be the most horrible time of year.  The cold, the snow, the messiness of slush and ice...  

But think of seasons as a reflection of each and every day that we are given.  Spring is like the morning.  You awaken to the beauty of all that is around you and the newness of what the day may bring.  Summer is mid-day when the fruits of your work day burst forth and are available to sustain you.  Fall is the evening, when the day slows and you are able to ponder what you accomplished and admire all that you were able to put aside for the future.  And winter, well, everyone functions best when given adequate sleep in order to rejuvenate your soul and your body.  

This past weekend, we spent some time tucking in the gardens for their winter sleep and prepping the barn, chicken coop, and bee hives for the sleepy cold time that is rapidly approaching.  

There is beauty, mystery, and necessity in each of these seasons...the same as the seasons of our life.

And even in the death that is part of the transition to winter, there is beauty.  

The asparagus is decked out in the colors of the winter holiday and begs to be admired.

The droopy dried heads of marigolds in the lavender bed hold the promise of lovely flowers next year.  I took a few seed heads and scattered the seeds amongst the lavender plants.  Deep purples and bright yellowy-orange will be a cheerful sight when in full bloom.

Two beds chock full of garlic cloves are ready for a long slumber in anticipation of blessing me with bulbs bursting with flavor to be incorporated into the meals that will feed our bodies.

The fallen leaves act as nature's down comforter for the garlic beds.  Sleep tight my little Allium sativum,  I will see you in the early summer.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Proof of life...

What else is there to say that hasn't already been said? 

I have posted here no less than three new posts each week for this entire year.  Oh, wait.  They never left my head to make it to this little piece of the web.  Trust me, they were brilliantly written with stunning photography.  Not buying it?  Me neither, except for the part where I said they never left my head.  Good intentions and all that.

So much has happened at Two More Weeks Farm over the last several months.  (Have I ever shared how this pint sized property got its name?  **making mental note to write that post) 

There have been a few bee swarms, captured and lost, along with a number of nasty stings.  Gardens were planted, harvests taken, foods preserved-including so many raspberries that stuffed the freezers.  A new breed of chickens was added to our flock.  Sheep were shorn, lambs born (even a super surprise lamb from one of last year's lambs!!), lambs were lost and a ewe was lost.  Spinning and knitting have been sort of on auto-pilot.  Socks steadily left my needles, while fiber stalled on the wheels.  Travel has been at an all time record pace over the last few months. 

Where does that leave us/me?  Right here.  Smack dab in November wondering what the heck happened to the last year and all those good intentions.

This time of year also brings with it time of quiet reflection.  And pumpkin bread with hot tea.   Lots of hot tea. 

It is also the time of year when jars of sprouting lentils line up along my counter.  They provide an extra protein source/treat for the chickens to help promote laying and overall health through the winter months.

Leaves are finally releasing their hold from the branches.  Soon, the piles will be raked and blown onto the garden spot to provide blanketed protection to the precious food giving soil.  How stinking adorable is this mat???  DH teases me because every time I go out to the animals, I greet them with a "hello sweet things".  The mat seemed appropriate, so I got two! for the front door and one for the basement door.

 The most pressing projects on needles are some gifts for a precious new bundle on the way.  Every baby needs cashmere booties/hats and a polar bear rug!  The pattern is from Knitted Animal Nursery.

What has been stealing your time?

P.S.  I've missed being here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Granny Time

It's no secret that sock knitting is probably my favorite sort of knitting.  Nor is it any secret that my sock yarn stash has more skeins than I will probably ever knit up...and the likelihood of the socks ever wearing out is pretty slim.

What to do with all the little bits and bobs left from each pair?

Many knitters have succumbed to the infamous sock yarn blanket.  Truthfully, I'm not a huge fan of the mitered square. (never mind that the Modern Quilt Wrap is still on needles:  a combination of the squares and the ever fiddly Kidsilk Haze yarn--a blend of hairy mohair and silk which is enough to make you pull your own hair out)

I wanted something mindless to knit in the evenings.  So, I did the math to figure out how many stitches to cast on to get my desired width for a snuggly lap blanket.  After casting on somewhere around 300 stitches or so (I don't remember exactly how many, my brain is trying to protect me from the memory), and knitting somewhere around 7 inches of garter stitch...with sock yarn...on size 1 needles...I had enough.  This was not mindless knitting.

About that time, my Instagram feed was blowing up with people crocheting the Granny Stripe blanket.  Not to be confused with Granny Squares...which I suck at making...this looked doable.  Plus, the gorgeous color progressions of so many of my hand-dyed sock yarns were being lost in plain garter stitch.  However...crochet.  My crochet skills are rudimentary at best.  I can whip out the simple borders for blankets and the occasional crocheted dish rag, but this was going to be on a grander scale than a dish rag.  Not going to be deterred, the boring garter stitch was ripped out and the foundation chain started on July a baseball game.

Back to mindless evening crafting.  But the balls.  Oh, the basket of balls was beginning to drive me nuts.  So, this past Monday night at Knit Night, I sat at a table in Panera and proceeded to use my very best magic knot skills to hook together (in random order) all the bits and bobs of balls to make yarn cakes.

At this point, the blanket is close to being the general size I want to facilitate proper couch snuggling.  Then there is the border to add.  It's close...oh so very close...and, it's stunning and squishy!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

New blooms...

Not even a year ago, we had the first shearing of our little flock.  Since that time there has been the joy of lambs, the heartbreak of lost lambs and ewe, the realization that there is A LOT of fiber that comes from 19 sheep, followed by the acceptance that I can't do it all myself.  So, some fiber (7 fleeces to be exact) was shipped off to a mill for cleaning and prep into roving for spinning and the rest I kept to process myself.  The mill prep stuff has returned ready to spin.  My stash...well, I got 4 fleeces washed, one (Rose) washed/picked/carded/spun to yarn and the rest are waiting. However, in about two months it will be shearing time again and the fleece flood will commence all over again.  

Back to Rose.  She is a white ewe with a lovely staple length and crimp.  Since she is older, there are some definite changes to her fleece, but it spins like butter and has a wonderful softness.  From her raw fleece weight of 1.64# I was able to get four skeins of navajo plied heavy worsted/aran weight.  Not enough for a sweater, but a pillow would do nicely.

Pattern:  Flower Pillow  Knowing there was not enough yarn to do the back or the flower within the pattern, I just made the front panel.  My plan initially included use of a different handspun for the flower, but the color tones did not mix well with Rose.  A few weeks ago, a good friend showed me some dying techniques and let me practice dye a mini skein of Rose's yarn.  After searching Ravelry for an alternate flower pattern, Agnes (a cottage rose pattern) was chosen.  I made an envelope back pillow cover from some unbleached muslin and hand sewed the front panel to the cover.


Tuesday, January 31, 2017


I don't make very many shawls.  They are pretty and their beauty is appreciated, but from a practical standpoint, I don't have a clue how to wear them to their advantage. problem.  "Regular" it.

That being said, perusal of Ravelry sucked me in with a picture/pattern that repeatedly caught my eye.  Reyna.  The reasons behind this obsession escape me.  But, there it is.  Must. Make. Reyna.

It's not all fun and games when you pick a pattern to knit.  There are considerations for fiber type, color ways, end use, etc.  Color was the nemesis I needed to get past.  Surely, in the vast stash, the perfect yarn to use would reside.  And it did.  Except it took a few cast ons and rip outs to be found.

At long last, Reyna is off needles and ready to wrap around my neck in warm embrace.  The final version is lightweight, soft to distraction, and thanks to wool wash still retains a heavenly jasmine scent.

Yarn used:  Araucania Itata Multi Colorway 1011.  ('s been in my stash for awhile waiting patiently)  The yarn is a lovely blend of super wash wool, silk and bamboo.

What's on my needles now?  Or, should I say, "who" is on my needles?  Rose.  Sweet Rose.  More on that another time.


Friday, January 27, 2017

Sittin' time...

The remodeling projects for this house/farm seem to be never ending.  The upstairs of the house is so close to being done, it's not even funny.  All that is left big project wise is cutting and installing the custom trim work (then I get to paint it, but I like painting so no biggie...yes it would probably be easier/smarter to paint before installation but the little point about no space in the basement, garage, or workshop to spread it all out to paint and dry gets in the way).  After that, there are only small straggler punch list items to knock out upstairs.  

We had hoped to start on the basement this winter, but it may not happen this year.  I'm okay with that.  By the time spring rolls around, it will be full on garden prep, french drain digging/installing, deck installing and the beginning of landscaping the house.  (I hope.)

In the meantime, the crazy weird weather patterns of late afforded me the opportunity to finish staining the  sunporch ceiling.  It is not often that we have 60+ degree days in January!  There is something about a blue porch ceiling that makes me swoon.  The front porch ceiling was done late last fall and then the bottom fell out of my schedule to get anything else done. 

Whenever I get discouraged with the time line of project completion, all I have to do is look at the album of "before" pictures to remember how far this property has come in such a really short period of time.  Especially when you factor in the critical point that we did the bulk of all renovations ourselves.  

The sun porch BEFORE (there is a reason that these two pictures are the only ones that were shown with the real estate listing!...the rest would have deterred any and all interest)

And now the AFTER (technically, we still need to fashion some cedar switch and plate covers and hook up the electric to the new outer wall plugs, but those are spare time projects)

During the winter, we scoot the table closer to the windows to make room for the firewood rack.

Some of my favorite things live in this corner...the Arkansas cutout my son made from old painted scrap wood salvaged from my grandparent's and great grandparent's garages, the jars of buttons that belonged to my Granny (along with the cooler and lamp behind the table), the Chinese checkerboard that my great grandfather made, the corduroy baby quilt that was my father's, and the fish mount from one of my husband's "big catches" as a child.

To say I love everything about this space is an enormous understatement.  In the spring and summer, it is like sitting in a tree house.  The porch is above the garage and the trees surrounding it make for a leafy retreat.  

This weekend, winter has returned.  But, in a few short weeks porch sittin' time will be back!

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Seedy Side of Life

It's that time of year.  Actually, I should already be a little bit further into the process.


I have three places that really float my boat when it comes to selection and customer service.  My top three choices are:  Botanical Interests, Indiana Berry & Plant, and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

Botanical Interests is, hands down, my favorite source.  This year they definitely cemented a place in my heart by printing natural plant dyes for wool dying information in the catalog!

Indiana Berry & Plant is my go-to source for actual plants that are best for my growing conditions.  Their customer service is incredible!  Baker Creek was my "gateway" to purchasing heirloom seeds.  While I appreciate their enormous variety, I find the catalog to be incredibly a good way, but too much for my brain to process and choose from.

A side effect of ordering a seed catalog is how you magically get put on just about every other seed catalog mailing list resulting in a bumper crop of catalogs that are not needed.

As soon as the inventory of purchased and saved seeds is complete, it will be time to peruse, dream a little about my hands getting in the dirt, and then place those orders!

What are you planting this year?

Thursday, January 12, 2017

I've Lost My Mitten(s)...

and don't know where to find them.


I have no clue.

At all.

Wayyyy back in 2013 I started on what appears to be the never ending Peerie Flooers adventure.  The hat was cast on and actually finished in a normal time span.

Then came the mittens.  Oh, the mittens! So cute and begging to be in my world.

I cast on (in December of 2013!).  And they got pushed aside for other projects.

Then, hold the phone, it's time to work on them again! Never mind that it took over a year to get back to them.

Wait a you see a trend here?  Fast forward to December 2015.  Surprise! They are back and still not done.

This is where the whole story begins to unravel.  Because, I persevered and finished the first one.  I know, I know:  if there are no pictures then it never happened, but the ladies from my knitting group can attest that said finished mitten was in fact a reality.  Trust me on this one, ONE lonely mitten was finished and the mate was cast on LAST YEAR about this time.

Which brings us to this week.  Seems about right that I should work on the never ending pair of mittens.  (side note, the cute little matching hat that I did finish is still so stinking adorable and wonderfully warm to wear when outside doing barn duty)

So, I ventured to the basement and my  stack of storage boxes bursting with yarn and WIPS lovingly curated/organized stash of yarn and WIPS.  Success!  Located the project on the first try!  Waiiiittt a minute.  Where is the finished mitten???  In my hat/glove box?  No.  In my car?  No.  In my dresser?  No.

Sigh, I have lost my mitten.

So, here I sit with a cuff lining and most of a cuff done on the mate to a missing mitten.  I don't dare rip it out and reclaim the yarn because that would guarantee that the missing mitten would magically reappear and require this be started all over again.

I feel like a forlorn little kitten.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Monkey Butt

What do you get when you cross a few burs picked up from the fencerow and smushed into fleece with an old ewe that likes to lay down and snooze more than anything else?

Monkey Butt...that's what.

Rose is taking her sweet time heading back to the barn so she can take another nap.

Tocq doesn't care where she gets to go as long as the grain bucket makes an appearance and she gets some chin scratches.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


I'm not one to actually set New Year's resolutions.  It is more likely that I will make a list of goals/things to accomplish for the year.  That really is no different than pretty much every day...lists are my friend.  It's safe to say that there are a lot of lists floating around in my world and even, that on occasion, there have been lists to organize my lists.

That being said, this is one of my favorite times of year.  My files get purged of old and unnecessary items and then set up for the upcoming year.  My handy dandy labeler gets a lot of use.  File folders, file labels and section tabs abound!  It truly makes me giddy!

For as long as I can remember, I have kept a detailed line item budget for my finances.  The depth of detail has varied over the years depending on what changes I wished to make and goals that were being worked towards.  It baffles me how so few people have any sort of real handle on where their finances go or how to make them work for them.  Last year I decided to keep a log of exactly what we spent for a handful of budget line items.  I've done this several times over the course of my adult life and it is always an eye opener.  My goal was to see where we spend, how much we spend (for every outlay) on average each week and to get an idea of what our actual farming costs are.  This past year was the first full year of having bees, chickens and sheep.  While we don't keep them for financial gain...yet...we do have some long term goals for them.  The bees will provide us with honey.  The chickens provide eggs on a daily basis that we freely share with friends and family and they provide meat. The sheep provide for pasture grass maintenance, give us fiber that I can process for spinning and knitting with, and potentially offer another meat source.  Care for all of these critters does come with a cost, but it is one that we believe is far outweighed by the benefits that are provided both short and long term.  That being said, it behooves one to know what your costs are to be able to properly budget.

As the year came to an end and I was doing some number crunching, it was interesting to see how our finances were being utilized and where changes could be made.  Do I have to?  No, but I choose to.  So, my major goal for the year is to keep another full year log, but even more specific.  Instead of only tracking eight breakout lines, there will be twenty-three sub-lines to monitor.  It is a means to an end of minimalizing multiple aspects of our life.

Other goals for the year include: finally getting the train wreck piles of photos (digital and physical prints) purged of unnecessary photos and organizing and dividing for myself and my sons to have copies; installing the kitchen backsplash...the tile and supplies have been sitting and staring at me for long enough!; installing and painting the rest of the trim work upstairs; and rumor has it that the mammoth project of finishing out the basement may start this year...but I'm not holding my breath.  The only other goal in my little world is to improve the speed with which I process the fleeces from the sheep.  Last April I foolishly proclaimed that I could and would process and spin up all nineteen fleeces before the next year's shearing.  HAHAHA!  Didn't happen.  Annnnnd, I had to resort to sending a portion of them out to a fiber processing mill.  It's good to have goals, but also so very important to recognize your limitations and come up with a workable alternate plan.

That's it.  Perhaps if I keep the goals few and properly planned for they will get accomplished.  If not, then they will roll over to the next year having been replaced in the current year by any number of items that may or may not have been on my Master List.  It is all good.  Everything eventually gets done in the right time.


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