Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Busy as a Bee

Dear Mom,
Autumn is a very busy time for me.  There are certain chores that I am driven to do, such as annual chicken coop sanitation, clearing the flower and vegetable gardens, and washing windows and screens.  And then there are all the leaves.  Since I started the new part-time job, I haven't had as much time for certain beekeeping. 

Good beekeepers check their hives every 7-10 days and keep log books.  I haven't been a good beekeeper.  I'll admit I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed with the bees.  By mid-August, when other beekeepers were harvesting their honey, my bees had nothing for me.  Nothing.  This is when I started to think that perhaps they would not survive the winter.

The other day, I caught a glimpse of one of the ladies on some Sedum.  By late summer when most flowers have faded, the Sedum is a favorite to the bees and butterflies.  I suited up and braced myself for another dismal hive inspection.

To my surprise, every frame in the second hive box was full of honey! The bees have been busy building up their winter honey stores...hopefully enough to ensure their survival. 

Right now, I am supplementing with sugar syrup and I will be attending a workshop this weekend to make "candy frames" for winter feeding.  Hopefully the colony will emerge healthy and strong in the spring and I will have one year of beekeeping experience under my belt!
Love, Bonnie Jo

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Friday Night Weekly Dinner Date

Dear Mom,
Without fail, every Friday night, we enjoy The Friday Night Weekly Dinner Date with one of my BFFs.  Our families get together at one or the other's house and we share dinner.  Sometimes it's pizza ordered; other times it's delicious grilled steaks.  It's not really about the food.  It's the friendship.  The memories.  The love and laughter.  Shared lives.  We have spent long hours by an outdoor fire, loud and laughing at first; quiet and reflective as the fire dies down late into the night.  My diva usually snuggles on Joey's lap and they whisper quietly to each other. There have been riotous games of Spoons and we have seen some mighty fierce wrestling between all of our boys for that last spoon.  Who will come up victorious?!?!  We have spent long snowy Friday evenings watching movies and eating David's popcorn from his famous cast iron pot.
This past Friday night I made some beer bread and a big pot of  Burgundy Beef Stew.  We enjoyed The Goonies and the kids played Monopoly after the movie.  Shortly after midnight, I heard a loudly whispered from the bottom of my stairs up to my sleeping ears, "Thanks, Wendy, for another fun evening.  I'm going home now . . . . " from the oldest neighbor boy.  I groggily shouted a "good night!" and "Who won the Monoploy game?!"  

Today on this rainy dreary Fall day, I enjoy a bit of Friday night all over again with my leftover stew in my favorite mug for lunch!!

The soup is healthy for me; The Friday Night Weekly Dinner Date warms me!!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Brach's Candy Socks

Dear Mom,
I finished knitting the socks that hug my feet. This is a fraternal, not identical pair. I wasn't willing to sacrifice the yardage to find the exact same starting place in the pattern repeat. I'll do that for short pattern reps, but for long repeats I don't think it is worth it.
The yarn is Trekking XXL and I think the color ( #126) is discontinued. Too bad. It reminds me of a bag of Brach's candy.
This pair of socks is not my usual mostly generic sock pattern. I found the pattern here and I was intrigued by the unusual shaping. Strategically placed paired increases and decreases keep the knitting interesting and create a sock that is shaped to fit securely around the foot. Can you see that subtle arch shape along the bottom of the foot?
Keeping track of all that shaping made the knitting move along quickly, but it also made this a project that required more attention than my usual sock pattern. Also, they do fit my foot perfectly, but not the Young Lady's (yeah me!) , so if I am going to make them for another foot, I'd have to do some figuring.... Or just keep making them for me.
I'd show you the bottom of the foot, but I haven't mastered the skill of kicking my leg up and shooting a photo over my shoulder. I'd probably hurt myself. Not probably. I know I would. And it is weird enough that I am taking pictures of my stocking feet without asking somebody else to take the picture for me.

Another sock inspiration found me in a round about way when I was reading A Stitch to Wear last week. Reading about her baby blanket lead me here and it was as if I suddenly had magnets in my fingertips attracting me to all my sock yarn leftovers. And believe me, I have plenty of those.

Soooo, check this out.
After casting on with my main color (the leftover bit that I had the most of) and knitting a decorative border for the cuff, I knit a different yarn on to each of my four sock needles. One of those being the main color.

Because I am knitting in rounds, each needle has a "new" yarn waiting for me. All  I do is drop the "old" color and start knitting with the "new" color. And around and around I go. When I get to the heel, I'll use the main color alone, and do the same for the toe. The results so far are definitely worth the occasional yarn untwisting that I need to do.

And four partial balls of sock yarn will become a lovely pair of socks.
This is just the sort of thing that makes me believe in the magic of knitting.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Shop Sample

Dear Mom-
Another Cowl Catcher is off the needles. I intended to make this one for myself, but after selling some patterns to the Village Yarn Shop in Zionsville I've turned it over to them to use as a shop sample.
 I used about 1 1/2 balls of Lana Grossa Cento for this cowl, so it would have been wasteful for me if I hadn't bought a 3rd ball to make another cowl for myself. Right? Plus I have some reaaaaalllly cute buttons I want to use on mine.

I finished the first sock in forever the other night. It was so close to being finished I don't know why I abandoned it. The pattern was a new one to me and it is the best fitting sock I have EVER made. It absolutely hugs my foot. The second sock was started last night and I will show off the pair when I am done. I've also been planning my Christmas knitting projects- searching out patterns, going through stash yarn. I am pretty excited about my ideas, but haven't actually sat down to see if I can realistically pull it all off.
Until then, I am the Little Engine That Could....ithinkicanithinkicanithinkican....

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom!

Dear Mom,
Happy Birthday.

I love you!
Every stitch is knit with warm thoughts and gratitude.

Patons Must Have Cardigan (rav link)
Cottage Craft Wool, Black Cherry

Monday, October 11, 2010

Felted Wool

Dear Mom,
I think I mentioned in the post about Judy's new home that a hunt for wool sweaters to felt was the real reason I was trolling through the Goodwill. I was successful in that quest, too, and have spent a good chunk of creative time making mittens, hats, and headbands with the felted wool. 

Last winter I purchased a pair of this type of mitten, made from recycled sweaters and lined with fleece. Very warm. Since then, I have seen these mittens in other places and knew the pattern had to be out there somewhere. A little internet search and I found a free pattern I could download. After my first mitten attempt, I wasn't happy with the way the palm piece fit and I adjusted the pattern piece a little. 

There are endless possibilities for combining color and pattern. Even using the "wrong" side of a sweater can provide another look.

Then mix in the embellishments- like bows and buttons and embroidery, which I did a little of on the backs of this pink and purple pair, and you can easily become obsessed. Since this photo was taken, I added a button the the green knot on that headband.

Laying underneath this pair is a toque that I made without a pattern. I was on a roll and neglected to write down any of the measurements. Not good, because I like the way it turned out and may want to make another.
I also used last summer's bucket hat pattern to make a hat to go with that first pair of mittens I showed you.

I don't feel like I have exhausted my ideas for felted wool. Heaven knows I haven't used up the wool I purchased. It almost seems like the supply multiplies once you start cutting the sweaters apart, and then I find myself considering the potential of all the little scrap pieces before I throw them out. Some of those pieces are definitely worth hanging on to. ( And I do!)
A few days ago I caught myself grabbing my scorched tea cosy when I needed a pot holder fast. In the next instant I froze, staring at my hand wrapped in the soft comfort and protection of the wool cosy and realized that I had stumbled upon another thing I could do with all that recycled sweater wool.
If When I go on my potholderfromrecycledwool frenzy, I'll show them here.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Garden love

Dear Mom,
I love having a vegetable garden, but not everything about it. And especially not the end of year garden clean up, which is what I did yesterday afternoon. As I was pulling up corn stalks and withered vines, and harvesting the last of the grape tomatoes and heirloom pear tomatoes I found this,
My garden loves me back.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Another Cover Girl

Dear Mom,
I can't sit on the news any longer. It has been posted on Facebook and I know that this blog gets nowhere near the traffic that Facebook does, so I think it is safe for me to make the announcement....

The Young Lady will be the Cover Girl on the winter issue of Kiki magazine, due to be released in early November!!!


If you are a friend of Kiki magazine on facebook, you can see some more photos, I think. (I don't do facebook.) I have some more behind the scenes photos, too, but I will wait until the magazine in on the newstands before I share them.

This all came about almost effortlessly, after I filled out a "Would you daughter like to participate in the magazine" questionnaire quite some time ago and had pretty much forgotten. An email in August asked if she was still interested and a photo shoot was scheduled.
I cannot say enough really good things about the women we met at the photo shoot and their kindness, energy, and honest concern for the girls. The Creative Director, Abigail Carlin, the Marketing Director, Amy Mauch and Photographer Trish Knapke are genuine ladies. It was their friendliness and demeanor that set the tone and they are excellent examples of creative women in business. I am thrilled that the Young Lady had the opportunity to see women like that at work.

The only requests made were that the Young Lady wear No Makeup (which she does not), and do nothing that made her uncomfortable.

When I learned that the Young Lady has been chosen as the cover girl I think I stopped breathing and my heart skipped a few beats. And as exciting as it was to have a cover of my own, this is waaaayyyyy better. I couldn't wait for her to get off the bus, and shouted at her in a most undignified manner to RUN!! I covered her eys and sat her down in front of the computer screen with the image of the magazine cover displayed. We shrieked like girls and did a happy dance.

This is from the Kiki magazine website:

"Kiki is a magazine for girls who love life, appreciate creativity, and recognize good ideas. A Kiki reader thinks for herself, has her own look, and is on her way to being a confident, strong, and smart young woman. She's a girl with style and substance! "

The experience we had and the women we met support that statement. I am thankful she had this opportunity, that Kiki magazine gave a positive life experience, an affirmation of her individual beauty and an esteem booster to a girl who's kind heart remains steadfast - a true Young Lady.