Deluge

It’s spring. Yep, you already knew that and so did I, but there are times I forget about some aspects of spring in Oklahoma. We Okies get so busy enjoying the first flowers and the days of sunshine that a deluge of much needed rain can leave some people cranky. Dogs however just know to find a good dry spot to sleep. Today as I was washing fleeces in the studio I had the dutch door ajar just to enjoy the sounds of rain and two of our four dogs decided the studio was the best place to hang out. Martha the Terrible cowered in the closet and Stormy stretched out on the bathroom floor. I guess the studio has the Two Dog Seal of Approval.

Our part of the state has been in a burn ban for some time and here on the farm we’ve been dragging hoses around and watering new lavender plants, old lavender plants, sunflower seedlings and the herb and flower beds. The rain and thunderstorms began late last week and won’t let up until maybe Wednesday or Thursday of this week.

Generally speaking I don’t mind the thought of being stranded here on the farm if the roads become impassable. One friend asked if I had plenty of food and books because she knew I had plenty of yarn on hand. Check, check, and check – all good. This coming weekend we have a three day show in Norman, OK and as long as we can get out for that and the weather is bright and sunny on those days I’m perfectly content to stay where I am until then.

The good things about a deluge include a great frog chorus, the abundance of things green, often a good lightening show, and having the fields watered. One of the not-as-good things about a deluge is brown water coming from the tap. The creek is rolling with brown water and quite loud. We’re on well water and naturally that means what comes from the tap is effected by whatever Mother Nature is doing.

Another aspect of spring is the emergence of snakes. Now, I’m generally a snake lover (because I am a hard core mouse/rat hater). Tess is a curious dog and she had her first encounter with a copperhead last Friday. She’s fine now, after a visit to the vet for two shots, pills, and a jar of swabby stuff for the swelling.

For those of you in Oklahoma and curious about snakes and would like to know more I suggest Oksnakes.org. If you’re not in Oklahoma find a website that shows and tells about the snakes in your area. A deluge like we’re having is likely to bring out the snakes that had, until now, not emerged from hibernation. Not all snakes are venomous or dangerous. It helps to understand and be able to spot the difference.
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Wearing Crazy Pants

When I finished the Maaema Scarf I made this deal with myself to finish one other WIP before casting on a new project. Usually I’m pretty good at this little game. Not this time though, before long I found myself pulling on a pair of crazy pants.

First I worked diligently on my Nonpariel Sweater. The goal was to finish it up before the one year mark, which is in May. But when I finished the second front and pinned it to the back section I knew I was in trouble. The armholes were too short to reach my shoulders so I created a little saddle shoulder section and seamed the body together. It looks decent. But I lost steam and haven’t started the sleeves yet.

Nonpariel Sweater
Nonpariel Sweater

To divert myself from the notion that the sleeves on Nonpariel would probably need tinkering to make them fit I cast on the Moonlight Sonata by Kay Meadors using a new black dyed llama yarn in lace.

Midnight Sonata

(I know I know – it’ll be up in the online shop this week) I’m cheekily calling the colorway Amy Winehouse because it reminds me of her lines of mascara. (It’s available in Oak Barn too – well when I get it up on the website anyway.) This is a sweet little crescent shaped shawl, mostly stocking stitch with beads until you get to the border. It’s going nice but beads aren’t always good in the car. I felt a little guilt and the crazy pants were snug when I tried fastening them after starting the new shawl.

Overdyed cashmere & a treat!

Then because I was a few days in deciding whether to use size 6 or  8 beads I cast on a second Maaema. The new one is done in a dark red cashmere cobweb, which I bought and overdyed because I wasn’t happy with the original terra cotta colorway. I love how the cashmere looks in the red and the pattern. The only hitch is I’m getting just a bit of catch on the joins of my interchangeable KP needles. Considering how smooth these joins are and that I’ve never had that happen before I think it owes to the lightness of the cobweb cashmere.

Maaema #2

The crazy pants were starting to get a little looser with two new lace projects on the needles. I was dyeing last week and came up with a new colorway, Extra Virgin, that has me over the moon. I’m particularly taken with the Extra Virgin in sport weight llama. In fact, I decided it needed a new pattern. Monday night I finished the hen scratches on graph paper and am ready to cast on. I’ll have something to show soon.

Extra Virgin in Llama Sport

 I’ve managed to reach the halfway point in my Cloisters Stole and the bright orangey/red of the Salsa Dancing colorway in Oak Barn never fails to cheer me. Maybe this colorway should be encouraged for people suffering from chronic sadness, bouts of miasma or saved for dreary day knitting when its positive effect is most needed.

Cloisters

Saturday at the Herbal Affair in Sand Springs was wonderful. It was a bit nippy in the morning but we wore layers and began peeling them off shortly after setting up. The whole day was sunny and a steady stream of business. I never had a chance to leave the booth other than to grab a quick sandwich. There were old friends, family, and new friends to talk to, and customers to enjoy. One customer spotted the Maaema and said – “That’s Estonian! My husband is Estonian. His mother grew up there and he speaks it fluently.” I was jazzed to chat with them. He roughly translated the word nupps (the nupps that I love) as buttons. I like the way that sounds, buttons, way better than telling people they are like bobbles which have the negative connotations of bulky 1980’s sweaters.

As I was helping another customer who was looking at the Maaema and buying yarn, and a second customer who was asking about the merino/angora for another project I got to wondering about how the Maaema would look knit in the merino/angora in Autumnal – the soft yellow. It’s been on my mind for two days now. If the original knit in 400 yards of lace was 60 inches long, how long would a scarf knit in 220 yards of light fingering be?  I may have to wind a skein and find out. Ahhh the crazy pants are getting soft and easy to button now.

Merino-angora autumnal
Merino Angora in Autumnal – will it become a Maaema? Only the Crazy Pants know…

Tuesday morning I woke up from a dream about knitting a large shawl from Haapsalu Sall by Siiri Reimann and Aime Edasi using the white Estonian yarn I bought last year. The fact that I’m writing this all down at 4:00am is another testament to the crazy. But really – I think I can wear the crazy pants comfortably now. They’re like favorite old Levis. Soft and warm and a little bit holey – kind of lacy in fact. Can’t you see a beautiful white lace shawl that takes forever to knit worn with a pair of faded Levis and maybe a leather cowboy hat?

Haapsalu Sall – inspiration
What do you knit when wearing Crazy Pants?
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Wearing Crazy Pants

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Color Everywhere!

Someone recently told us how they like to keep busy, and that they weren’t content to sit and watch the world go by. Chris and I both piped up that we like to sit and watch the world! 
I’m not lazy but I love to slow down and watch what is happening here on the farm – or in nature anyway – and for that matter people watching is mighty entertaining as well. Being aware of our surroundings can give great joy. The past few days I’ve been dazzled by these little yellow birds on the feeders. I think we’ve got both warblers and finches munching away on black oil sunflower seeds. It’s hard to catch them in the act with my little Coolpix camera though. As soon as I get close enough to really zoom in they fly off to the trees. I snapped this photo (the best I could get) while walking back from the studio yesterday. This morning there were several dozen in the trees and on the ground surrounding this feeder. Aren’t they dazzling? Especially that one just left of the feeder!
Color is abundant in the new yarns I just added to the Alpaca and Llama online shop as well. Most of the week has been spent dyeing the Alpaca Tussah Silk in lace weight, and the Llama Bamboo in sport weight. The base yarns for both of these weights are a sweet faun color and they take the dye beautifully. When I dye commercial yarns like our Oak Barn Merino or the Lost City Silk, I’m starting with a fairly blank slate of white or ivory, but with the local fibers it’s rarely pure white or ivory. A dye bath used on ivory yarn can have quite a different result when you toss in a faun or gray yarn. It’s always interesting. The faun color is wonderful in it’s own right and so I decided on several of the colorways I’d let a little faun show through. Take for instance the Winter Hike in both Llama Sport and Alpaca Lace, you’ll see little glimpses of the natural color of the fiber in the yarn. Makes sense to me that on a yarn called Winter Hike there should be some tan or brown involved, how about you? The same thing with the new Extra Virgin and Indigo Bunting. I played with the amount of dye used in the pots and the yarn placements so the skeins show just a hint of faun. I hope you’ll like them as well as I do.
Last Saturday was the Opening Day at Cherry Street Farmers Market and it was a busy one! This Saturday we’ll be at the Sand Springs Herbal Affair. The Herbal Affair is the big mama of herb festivals in Oklahoma. Held in the historic downtown district, numerous streets are blocked with barricades for vendors to set up offering plants, soaps and sundries, flowers, art and crafts – oh the Amish ladies will be there with dumplings and pies for sale. The town square in front of the old Carnegie library is transformed to a stage where folk, bluegrass and Celtic music will be played for attendees who’ve taken a break from shopping to sit on straw bales.
If you’re in Oklahoma this Saturday – come out to the Herbal Affair. You don’t want to miss it! In the 21 years that this festival has been going on I’ve missed one, and I’m not about to let that happen again!

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Checking In

Sometimes the urge to escape is fierce. Other times it’s just middlin’. The serious fierce urge usually signals pain and time for withdrawal. The middlin’ variety is usually more like a check-in with what’s going on with myself and occasionally involves well — a birthday.

Earlier this week I took three days off and drove to a rustic cabin in the Ozarks for a little time with myself. I consider this time alone – away from responsibilities – a good way to re-evaluate the past year, or several years, and see if I’m on the right path with my life. It takes several hours on the road before all the voices of the inner critic fall silent. (You know the inner critic right? The voice that says, “what a bozo” to about everything.) Once that happens I find I can journal and think about the things in my life that have occurred and how I’ve dealt with them.

Socrates said “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Not that I’m some great philosopher, but I think if you never ask yourself the hard questions (am I doing what I’d like to be doing, am I happy, do I follow my own advice, do I respect myself and others, what changes can I make…) then you are just plodding along with someone else steering your life or maybe just standing still and not actively involved in your own life. I’m not sure which is worse, but neither are very good.

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Being in a beautiful natural setting does wonders for the spirit. Of course, I am lucky enough to live on a beautiful farm, but if I’m home I’ll find this and that to do and only occasionally get quiet enough to check in without a sense of guilt over not taking care of the endless things that I should be working on instead of being in my head.

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My only responsibility on this getaway trip was to feed myself. That’s pretty easy. Once I arrived the first order of business was to unload my car of groceries and personal items. I spread out all my “stuff” on the kitchen table. Journal, pen, snacks, food, colored pencils, books. The window beside the table opened onto a deck. From the deck I could see where the Buffalo River takes a turn and the mountains beyond. I made myself some hot tea and settled in.

Soon I got down to journaling. At some point I looked up over the rim of my reading glasses and out the window. The mountain looked like it was on fire! I panicked and rushed out onto the deck. It was the sun’s last light, not fire. The colors were spectacular — in the clouds, the sky and on the mountain. I decided it was too good to miss so I threw on a sweater and took a little walk.

The first night in the cabin was cold, much colder than I had anticipated – in fact – it got down to 30 degrees F (that’s -1C). All night I ran the cabin heater and snuggled under the quilt and a blanket. The next morning the fog over the river was incredibly thick. As I drank a second cup of coffee I watched as it slowly disipated.

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Then I switched from jeans to shorts and pulled on a sweater over a tank top to go for a 3.5 mile hike. I took my camera, my journal and my sweet time on the hike. Just as with journaling, I looked for new growth, simple beauty, tranquility, abundance, slick spots, flights of fancy, and hazardous terrain.

Here are a few highlights – from the hike that is.

 Question Mark Butterfly

Zebra Swallowtail

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

After spending over three hours out in the woods I tiredly made it back to my little cabin. Then I had a nap, read a little, did some knitting, more journaling and before long I discovered I was ready to head into the nearby town for dinner.

The second day had flown quickly. The third day dawned bright and sunny. I drove home to find a smiling man and four crazy dogs happy to see me. I think I’m ready for another year.



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eta: If you’re interested in butterflies and moths I heartily recommend you visit 

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