What to Do With Sixty Four Acres

It was just about a year ago that it dawned on us that we were probably going to have to move down to Texas and take care of the sixty four acres we inherited.  After trying to sell it for three years we had no other option, it needed maintenance.  What I didn’t know then was that I had flowing in my veins an inheritance that was rooted in the soil.  My grandfather was a farmer as the generations before him and my grandmother planted flowers on any bare patch of grass she could find. Zinnias

The first inkling that I had this love of dirt inside of me was when, after throwing out zinnia seeds there were suddenly zinnias popping up out of the earth.  Something was unearthed in me that day.

Pear Tree

Today is the first day of spring and it has most certainly arrived in East Texas.  My pear trees are blooming and my dad tells me that with the amount of blossoms on each I will have an abundant crop.  I will harvest those pears and make some pear preserves as my grandmother used to make.  And, I will spread those preserves on biscuits using my grandfather’s recipe.  He made the best biscuits ever.


I thought about my grandmother today and her love of planting flowers.  I looked out over the many acres out there at my disposal.  A blank slate so to speak.  I thought about that first packet of zinnia seed I threw in the ground last September and I had an idea flicker through my mind.  What if I planted rows and rows of zinnias out there with my garden.  I pictured it something like this:


Zinnias are supposedly easy to grow.  Growing zinnias is something I can do with part of this sixty-four acres.  A blank slate painted beautiful with colorful zinnias.

farmersmarketflowers5-of-6I will fill blue mason jars with zinnias and they will adorn my tables.  They will adorn the tables of my friends, too.  The idea is growing on me and I like it more and more.8287372143691bc10659717a6bb872c0

Yes, I like this idea and I think it would have made my grandmother smile.

Hammering Gratitude in the Piney Woods

Sometimes, all I need is a new fountain pen and a journal to drive out discontentment.  I’m slowly learning that a life filled with gratitude only happens if I take the time to be thankful for the specific small things, the infinitesimal moments that add up to my life as a whole.  I can’t just paint a broad stroke of thankfulness across my life and say that I give thanks “in all things”, it just doesn’t fasten.  It only ‘fastens’ if I drive in those specific nails of thankfulness one nail at a time, one day at a time.

When I stop looking for those small things to be thankful for the crummy weeds of discontentment creep in and begin to strangle.  And when the strangling happens it has a ripple effect to all those around me.IMG_4110

Right now I bounce back and forth emotionally from house showings in Colorado and house showings in Texas.  I have no idea where my future will be and I’m finding this a good thing instead of a frustrating situation.

I’m thankful for falling oak leaves, crisp-cool-air, acorn memories

There is a different kind of fall here in the Piney Woods of East Texas.  I’m finding JOY in this.


I’m thankful for deep, complete breaths

I’m thankful for sitting on the deck in my pajamas

I’m thankful for spending more time with my parents


C. S. Lewis says that if you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable:  think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad.  If fact in my opinion, I think it even becomes good because then you begin to live life with an eternal perspective.

I’m thankful for reciting 10 Little Monkeys with my granddaughter

I’m thankful for ‘just the two of us’ in Texas

I’m thankful for a big fenced yard the Kenzie can run in


My wish for you this week of Thanksgiving is that you will become more attentive and aware of the many blessings that fill your day.  Accept the whole of each moment and give thanks.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Weaving, Warp and a Rainy Day

The day has arrived, that day in which I will take a deep breath and begin my weaving journey on the lovely Leclerc floor loom that sits in my fiber studio.  I’m filled with both excitement and apprehension at the same time.  Excitement, because I have long wanted to weave on a floor loom just like my Colorado fiber friends  – just a teensy bit of peer pressure there, I admit it.  Apprehension, because everything is unfamiliar to me and it has always been a little nerve wracking for me to enter in on the ground floor of anything new.

Rainy Day Weaving

Watching Janet Dawson’s Floor Loom Weaving class on the Craftsy platform has helped me understand how the whole weaving thing works.  Ms. Dawson is an excellent teacher.  The class demonstrates front-to-back warping so I will be working through that method to weave three pillows.

The beforehand project uses a 2-ply yarn and, after searching far and wide for an appropriate substitute in the States, I caved and ordered the yarn Ms. Dawson uses in the class from a Canadian store.  My Christmas tradition is to add a pillow to my Christmas decor, this year I will be weaving them.

Craftsy Weaving Project

Brenda, at Penelope Fibres, helped me pick out Christmas colors for the pillow from the Briggs & Little Regal stock:

  • Red #73
  • Light Brown #24
  • Green Heather #62
  • Washed White #02

When it arrived the wool smelled just like it came straight from a woolen mill – just as it ought to, nice and ‘sheepy.’  Yep, that’s me, a closet wool sniffer.

Because this yarn came in a skein the next step was to put it on a yarn swift and wind it into a center-pull ball to prepare it for the warping board.


Briggs and Little Regal

Next comes winding onto the warping board.   In this pillow project my warp is five yards long so I measured off a guide string a five yard length and then found a path on the warping board with the string that length.  The guide thread stays there to mark the traveling course as I wind the warp.

5 yard pillow warp

Under, over ….. around.…. under, over…..follow the guide string and  the all important cross is formed.


Everything I’ve read and every instructor I’ve listened to says to take all measures to protect that cross and I have done that.


Janet Dawson teaches how to wind two warp threads at once and learning that sped up the whole second half of the warp … double time (wink, wink).


I think I could just melt away in this shade of RED, so pretty it is. I crocheted each half of the warp into a chain and they are all ready for the next step. My friends tell me that winding the warp and threading the loom is half the project.


I certainly hope that is true because what I did today took most of the day.  Time to rest, not completely though because I’m behind on my 10,000 steps today and the rainy day has turned into sunshine.

Sleepy Little Texas Town

A courthouse in the middle of a sleepy southern town, not unlike many other town squares in the south, but this one is in my sleepy town.  This is where we are for the time being, at least until we get my father-in-law’s house sold. I walked around the square this morning on well worn brick sidewalks and tried to take it all in with my camera. We don’t know how long we will be down here but enjoying our stay in this small community in East Texas.

My Little Town

I felt a little like I had stepped back into an Andy Griffith from the sixties, the episode where you transition from black-and-white to color.
My Little Town

There was no sign of Andy socializing with male friends in the Main Street barber shop but I half expected barber Floyd Lawson to step out for a smoke.
My Little Town

When I saw this bicycle I remembered Opie’s bicycle. I always pictured that bike painted red. Do you remember how he tested his father’s parenting skills episode after episode?

Antique stores lining the square made me think of the service station attendants and cousins Gomer Pyle and Goober Pyle, what names! I even flashed back to seeing these kind of signs when I was a young girl.
My Little TownDo you remember back this far?  Prince Albert in a can? Anyone?

My Little TownThere was the fu-fu side of the square, you know, the sidewalk with the cute little boutique shops?
My Little Town

with cutesy decorated birdhouse entrances …
My Little Town

And then there was the artsy ghetto down a side street that popped me right back into present time color, no polaroids here.
My Little Town My Little Town
Art matters, yes it does, doesn’t it?

My Little Town//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
My Little Town
Coming off the side street I bounced between time zones..
I didn’t see the local Maybury drunkard, Otis Campbell, but I’m pretty sure he will be attending the Haunted House at the Athen’s Brewery on Halloween.

Taboo or Not Taboo

The much anticipated annual Boo Knits Mystery Halloween Knitalong has started today, October 1,  and Clue 1 was waiting for me in my Ravelry pattern library when I woke up this morning.

The designer says “Taboo is a top down, crescent shaped, shawl using two colours. It is lacy, beaded, dramatic and magical!”


I’m using some beautiful Sundara Silk Lace that was gifted to me years ago.  The color is called Voices of the Sea.  Its been tucked away waiting for the perfect project to come along and I believe Taboo will be that special project.
Taboo Yarn
The pattern calls for 10 grams of variegated yarn and I chose Miss Babs Wild Silk. My color is called Irises and complements the teal nicely.  The size 6 beads are supposed to match that teensy bit of variegated yarn and I think the Dyna-Mites transparent rainbow purple  beads will be just about right.
Taboo Beads

It is not too late to join the fun …. here is a link for more information.


Clue One – October 1
Clue Two – October 7
Clue Three – October 10
Clue Four – October 14


1,600 Beads

It took an eternity to knit and is the designer ironically named it Eternity.  I wonder if she knew it would take an eternity to knit in 1,600 beads.  The first half of it was smooth sailing but the border, well……you can see for yourself.
Eternity Acero, the yarn I knit it with, was 60% Wool, 20% Rayon, 20% Silk and was different from any yarn I had ever used.  I had great concerns about whether or not I could give the shawl a ‘thuggish’ blocking and didn’t know if, once blocked, it would hold its shape.
This was the first time I used a triangular bead and I see why this brand is popular amongst many lace knitters.

The beads I chose for this shawl are Miyuki 5/0 Triangles in the color 1139, silver lined crystal…..beautiful!

Since they are slightly bigger than a 6/0 round seed bead they seem heavier although……it may just be that there are simply so many beads on this shawl.  At any rate, I bought these in bulk because this clear silver lined triangle is a generic bead that will work with many colors.  This definitely will not be the last time I use this brand and style.
Eternity It seems I left my blocking wires at my ‘Colorado Mountain Home’ and didn’t pack them when I packed for the now affectionately called ‘Texas Ranch’ (although I’m pretty sure you need to have cows to be a real ranch).  That discovery was a moment of despair because I had just finished casting off umpteen little picots that I knew were going to have to be pinned individually in the absence of wires.  I managed, it took the better part of a morning but I got it done.
I’m happy with how the shawl named Eternity turned out.  It blocked out fine and the weight of the beads will keep it there.  This is a special shawl to me for a several reasons.  Firstly, the yarn is a Texas yarn that I bought in Estes Park a few years ago and is from a town my parents used to live in.  Second, the shawl was knit in Texas where we are temporarily living while we try to sell the house we inherited. Thirdly, and most important to me, I try to live my life with an eternal perspective ever before me.
Hubby and I do not know why it has taken so long to sell this beautiful home but we both know that in light of eternity this little ‘time out’ from our regular lives in Colorado serves a purpose that maybe we don’t need to know.  One thing is for sure, I’m enjoying the time down here with family nearby and the warmer temperatures have been a nice change.

3 Terrific Reasons to Have a Fiber Room

Fiber Cave

Men have their ‘men caves’, right?  Well, I think women fully deserve to have ‘women’ caves.  Here are three reasons why:

1. KNITTING – I started out as knitter, as a sock knitter.  The yarn stash grew, a collection of needles began and all my ‘tools’ were hanging out in every corner of the house.  I broadened my knitting horizons and all so needed more tools and more fiber.  When fiber buddies told me the next step would be spinning I said,  “Nope, not me!  There are too many things I want to knit.”   So, it surprised me a bit when I bought a spinning wheel three years ago at a the Salida Fiber Festival.

2.  SPINNING –  I found I truly love it.  There is just something so very relaxing about having fiber flow through your hands and become, gasp, yarn.  It is exciting to see how the colors play together.

Paper Roses

I started with a Schacht Ladybug but soon after traded her in for what I really wanted, the beautiful Schacht Matchless. I named her Betsy.



The braids of fiber are so very lovely, too and it is hard not to collect them.  They look so pretty hanging on door knobs but you can’t really do that if you don’t have your own little cave because people will think you are a bit odd.

Fiber Cave

For the past two years I said I would only knit and spin but I absolutely would never have a desire to WEAVE.  My fine group of knitting buddies said it was time I broadened my horizons even further.  I said, “Nope, not for me because there are too many things to knit, too many things to spin.”  Their main fiber passion was weaving.  Each time we got together I saw the beautiful woven pieces in their homes and slowly, slowly I decided I would give it a try and asked Santa for a rigid heddle loom last January.

My Harp

3.  Weaving – I’m a beginner and that is not always a fun place to be.  In the past couple weeks alone I have made a couple rookie mistakes, big rookie mistakes.  I know it will get easier because it was not too long ago that I was confused about how to turn a heel on a sock and I would cry out in frustration and rip the whole sock out because I didn’t know how to fix simple knitting mistakes.

So, if you love fiber as much as I do and own knitting needles, spinning wheels, spindles, looms and lots of stash then carve yourself out a fiber room somewhere in your house.  When your kid heads off to college claim that room!  Because I must confess  – having a place to escape to in the house that you can call your very own space is fabulous-stupendous-awesome.  Having it filled with fiber and fiber toys?  Who needs chocolate?  Who needs a big screen TV?

There is something I must disclose though, if you bring your desktop into your new fiber cave and put it on the floor …… you just may find your dog watching Sherlock with you.

Kenzie and Sherlock

A Dead Wake in Texas

My Daily

My reading these days, notwithstanding the books about Texas horticulture, was nominated last year as the GoodReads Choice for best historical book. It’s called Dead Wake by Erik Larson and is the story of the last crossing of the Lusitania.

This is no dry history book. Thus far I have learned the following facts that I think are rather interesting:

  • On the morning the Lusitania departed, the German Embassy in Washington placed a notice on the shipping pages of New York’s newspapers reminding readers of the existence of the war zone and cautioned that “vessels flying the flag of Great Britain or of any of her allies, are liable to destruction” and that travelers sailing on such ships “do so at their own risk.”
  • The ship was booked to capacity including an unexpectedly large number of children and babies.
  • President Woodrow Wilson’s wife died just a year and a half into his first term – two days after Britain entered the new war in Europe.  His grief was incapacitating.  He wrote in his diary, “looked forward to the next two and a half years with dread.  He did not see how he could go through with it.”
  • Millions of bales of cotton piled up on southern wharves because the war had brought an acute shortage of ships.  Their owners feared submarine attacks and docked them.
  • May 1 was called ‘Straw Hat Day’, when a man could break out his summer hat.  Men followed this rule.
  • Pacifiers were called ‘sucking tubes’ and were tied around babies necks with a cord.

This is just a sampling of new information I’ve put into my noggin and pass along to your noggin.  And since this is a YARN ALONG and we all love fiber and BOOKS……..

One of the passengers on board the Lusitania was a successful book seller named Charles Lauriat.   He brought two invaluable items on board:

  1. The first was a bit of “Thackerayana”, a term used to describe artifacts of Thackeray’s life coveted by collectors on both sides of the Atlantic.  Laureate had a scrapbook containing drawings done by Thackeray to illustrate his own works.
  2. The second was a copy of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol owned by none other than the author himself.  Within the covers of this copy were notes that had been jotted by Dickens about the legal actions he had brought against “literary pirates” who had republished the story against his permission.

On the needles is a beaded Boo Knits shawl called ETERNITY which is appropriately named for it feels like I’ve been knitting it for an eternity!  I’m on the final chart and as a consequence my motivation to finish is climbing.  Maybe I will have a finished shawl to show you on the next Yarn Along.  So…what are you reading?  Knitting?

Where Did All the Pokeberries Go?

Where did they go? They were here last week, the pokeberries that is.  But now, when I want to pick them, they are gone.

Our move down to the Texas property was without incident.  Of course, the usual moving frustrations happened – like ending up down here with a big box of hand-knit wool socks which will never be worn in this climate.  Several important items that were put aside to go on the truck ended up not fitting on the truck at all.  Like a sewing machine.  Like some really comfy chairs for my new fiber cave and now I’m sitting on deck chairs.  Like a pressure cooker for canning  although all the canning jars made it hereLike a rototiller for tilling a garden – do you mean I have to use a shovel to dig one?  Well, that is what happens when you attempt to divide your house in half and live in two places.  Some stuff just gets left behind.


Things are different here.  Not bad.  Just different.  Mushrooms grow here as they do in Colorado but their colors are more vibrant.  This one was found hiding under some leaves I raked away.

Self Portrait

Things are green here.  Lots of green to mow.  I take care of everything within the fenced yard and hubby takes care of everything else, all 64 acres ….. except the original road into the property and that is my job because I need a place to walk.  The first time I cut the lawn it took two and a half hours in second gear.  Today it would have been quicker because I moved up to third gear but on my fourth turn around the yard hubby came out and informed me that I forgot to engage the blade.  I’ll learn.


Things grow here, like zinnias.  I threw out some zinnia seeds and three days later they are growing!  That does not happen where I live in Colorado.

Morning Dew
Another thing I am not used to is dew on the ground and on the windows.  Early morning dew every morning.

My Daily

I’ve been researching all the plants on the property and identifying them by consulting with my friend named Google who is one brilliant lady.  My dad had a few books to lend me, too.  My nose is in this book most days and I’m throwing in a few thousand beads for fun.  I am so ready to finish this shawl!

I showed my mother a berry bush with a fuchsia vine and dark purple berries on it.  She told me that she painted her face with those berries when she was but a girl.  She also told me not to eat them because she thought they were poisonous.  They might be elderberry.  They might be Pokeberry.  They resemble each other a lot but elderberry only has a fuchsia stem where the berries are and Pokeberry has a fuchsia stem throughout throughout the plant so it turns out that my berry bush is a Pokeberry.


I went to bed wondering if I could dye wool with the berries.  Shortly thereafter I decided to get up and do some research and was thrilled to find out that people have been dyeing with pokeberry for hundreds of years.  It produces shades everywhere from garnet to pale pink depending on how long the wool soaks in the pokeberry juice.  I turned the light off purposing to wake up early and pick a gallon bag full of pokeberries.

The next morning most of the ripe berries were gone.  Where did the pokeberries go?  Some critter? I’ll beat them to it next time round.  Pokeberries are supposed to produce fruit through Halloween so there is still time.

The Pigseyes Adventure Checked Off

Would Elizabeth Zimmermann be proud of me?

Flora & Fauna

I’ve completed my buttonhole research for Level Two of the Master Hand Knitting Program and my brain is on buttonhole overload right now.  Something tells me Elizabeth would be sighing, shaking her head and telling me just to chill out about my ‘pigseyes’ but I don’t think the TKGA Committee would have the same reaction.  Instead, I suspect I will have to resubmit some of these swatches but, nonetheless, I am still thankful for this buttonhole journey.  I will feel a little more confident the next time I encounter a buttonhole.  I won’t be knitting ‘pigseyes’ anymore!

There are many different buttonhole designs and believe me, I experimented with just about all of them.  Some of them looked a whole lot better in one fabric than another so I can see that this is an essential skill to have.

Master Knitting Level Two

I have knit my horizontal, vertical and eyelet buttonholes in single rib, double rib and seed stitch.  I have figured out how to space buttonholes on a band given a certain number of stitches – not only horizontally but also with a 1″ of knitting above and below each buttonhole – whew….took forever.

Master Knitting Level Two

The final swatches are on the blocking mat as I type and tonight I will weave in the tails.  Tomorrow will be their photoshoot for we are now to keep a photo record of everything we submit to the TKGA Committee.

Brody I’m in Denver this week because I am grandma to my daughter’s golden retriever.  While I am sweltering down here in the Mile High City she is up in the cool mountains at a nurses retreat.  It is hot today and there is no air-conditioning so the pooches are pretty lethargic which makes for good research time. Kenzie

This afternoon I will be writing my second book report, four required, on Deborah Newton’s Finishing School – A Master Class for Knitters.  This book has proven to be a valuable resource for all the seaming swatches I had to do.  I’m hoping it will live up to its reputation when I research the next swatch, picking up stitches.

Master Handknitting Level Two

I’m used to picking up stitches along gusset edges on socks but Swatch 18 will be simulating a scooped neckline.  It will test my ability to select appropriate decreases for a neckline, accurately pick up stitches along bound-off selvedge edges and calculate an accurate ratio for picking up stitches along a selvedge edge.

Staying Hydrated

Hmmmm…..Maybe I want to take a nap on the couch instead.  I’m staying hydrated!