i just have to bring you up-to-date

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It’s January 13th and I’m very belated in wishing you a Happy New Year!!  How is everyone?  I feel a need to bring you up-to-date with all the knitting that’s been going on here.  The knitting has been good but I’ve hit a couple of road-blocks that’s frustrating me.  Primarily, I’m knitting the Tangled Yoke cardigan out of yarn I first used to knit Kate Davies’ Braids Hills cardigan.  I ran out of yarn right after joining the sleeves to the body and right before I was about to start the fun tangled yoke part.  I’m knitting this in BFL DK which is an absolute pleasure.  I cannot wait to get my order in the mail so I can get going.  I so hope it’s from the same lot as requested.  I’m not sure what the chances of that are.  Fingers crossed.

I found some  rustic NH wool in a kind of worsted weight at a craft show I went to a while back.  With all the FREEZING weather I had to knit a pair of mittens.  They’re scratchy but so very warm.  Even though I knitted them quickly and did one right after the other my gauge changed.  As a result one mitt is longer than the other.  Interesting, I thought.  I’m planning to line them to make them softer inside but it’s been too cold to bother with such niceties.  Scratchy or not, they’re the warmest things I have.

I’ve had this dark gray alpaca swatch for some time wondering what this yarn will become.  It’s very special yarn as it’s off the back of my friend’s alpaca, Pepsi.  Frustrated with being halted in my Tangled Yoke progress, I started the search for the sweater pattern that will work with this 3ply sports weight alpaca.  I think I finally found the right pattern.  I cast on last night.  Yipee.

I fell in love with Kate Davies’ Toatie Hottie.  She can do no wrong in my opinion.  However, I don’t have the right needles; they are all too short, but like a true stubborn lass I haven’t bought a longer pair and am struggling along with needles that are too short.  Honestly, I can hear myself and I’m shaking my head.  Edited to add: Longer needles have been purchased and progress is being made.

So what else?  I knitted Steven West’s Windschief hat which fits me perfectly but was intended for Jay.  I guess we might share it.  I knitted a couple of pairs of tiny socks to commemorate the Year of Sock Knitting that 2013 turned into.  I finished 11-and-a-half pair of socks in 2013.  The tiny socks were a free pattern on Ravelry.  I’d planned to knit several and make a stocking garland for the Christmas mantle however, they ended up being decorations on the tree.  Just sweet.

The yarn bowl is from my hubby for Christmas.  He really spoiled me with that handmade piece of loveliness.  I made  a couple of cute little ruffly scarves for teachers at the kids’ schools as well as one for Heather.  Another free Rav pattern.

2014 Knitting Goals include colorwork.  I’m excited to make some cushions for my couches with bulkier weight yarns in beautiful colorwork patterns.  The Pepsi alpaca sweater features colorwork at the yolk, and who knows what else awaits me and my needles.

Oh I almost forgot!  I did want to tell you I recently joined INSTAGRAM.  It is fantastic!.  Please keep in touch with me there.  It’s such a quick and easy way to document the day and do some mini-blogging.  You can find me there @farfromharmfarm.

I hope you are all settling into a wonderful 2014 and your needles are a-clicking.  Ciao!

marin shawl

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I knitted this shawl for a very good friend, the sort who is the best of friends, and who as yet, hasn’t received some knitted love.  After seeing this shawl on Celtic Caston’s blog I knew I wanted to knit this.  It’s an interesting knit and because it’s knitted to be the same both sides so you can’t wear it the wrong way round by accident.  I really enjoyed that it was knitted vertically rather than long, long rows horizontally.  I think this shawl wears beautifully both as a shawl or a scarf.  The yarn is Tosh DK in the Opaline colorway.  I just love that yarn.  A really fun knit and a beautiful finished object.  Rav notes.

merry christmas

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For weeks it’s been a hive of activity here what with the little Miss’s birthday and attendant slumber party followed by the count-down to Christmas.  I was so looking forward to this Christmas season and it has been good, however, somewhere in all the busyness I found I couldn’t quite believe it was upon us already.  So many of the things I wanted to do including baking tons of cookies and chocolate orange cakes, and making homemade advent calendars with tiny gifts for each day were amiss this year.  No one actually seemed to notice (or mind) so I’ve told myself to not sweat it.  But, it seems Christmas seemed a little less special because the effort put into making it was a little less.  All that said, Jay was home from work all day, the kids were very happy with their gifts and we cooked a delicious dinner that was enjoyed by us all.  It was a perfect and happy Christmas day and I was grateful to have my family around me.

And there’s been knitting.

Of course.

Here are the socks I knitted for my family in Scotland for Christmas.  I love this picture.  I hope your Christmas and holidays have been warm and full of love.


DSC_0021The kids insisted the tree go up on Sunday and they took great pride in decorating it.  I think they did a beautiful job.  Their popcorn garlands turned out great but actually was quite finicky to make because the popcorn kept breaking.  It probably wasn’t stale enough before we started.

I’m knitting every spare moment I get which sometimes isn’t much at all during the day.  However, I find if I can at least lay my hands on some yarn, even if not to knit it, it helps me find my feet.  I might wind a ball of yarn ready for a project or I might wash another skein of the BFL that’s being re-knitted.  But the best is when the kids have finally settled down to sleep and there’s still an hour or so for me to sit, feet up, knitting going.  Currently I have a shawl, cardigan, mittens, a little scarf thingy, and a pair of socks on the go.  I’m dying to cast on a hat.  I really enjoy having multiple projects – each for a different mood or concentration level.  I remember in college feeling my brain change due to reading lots of different texts at the same time.  I liked having different reading for different moods and so it didn’t feel like a choice between reading or not, but a choice between reading great literature or a legal text, or something else.  It’s the same with knitting, a choice of what to knit – not whether to knit.  I love it!

My good friend V emailed me a couple of pictures of the shawl I recently made for her.  I didn’t have time to wash and block it properly before I gave it to her so I know it will soften up once that is done.  It’s made with Tosh superwash merino DK and it took up over 2 and a half skeins.  It’s a big shawl.  I got carried away with all that garter stitch.  Thanks for the photos V!

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Have a great weekend.

thanksgiving and beyond

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A five-day-weekend with wind so cold the kids won’t go out and play for more than 10 minutes at a time.  Even the cat keeps coming in!   We play lots of Monopoly and Candy Land.  I find I’m truly polygamous in my knitting with at least three projects in full swing at once.  The kids don’t seem to mind taking my turn at throwing dice and moving my piece around the board as I click away at my needles, we enjoy double checking each other’s counting, just to make sure they moved my piece the correct number of places (they are slippery in this regard).

I finished a pair of self-striping socks.  Truly knitted in their entirety in the car while waiting for school to get out, or at the doctor’s waiting room, or the dentist, or at soccer on a Saturday morning, or waiting to drive through the bank drive-through.  They are plain vanilla socks with an after-thought heal.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy (as George likes to say).

Today, being Saturday, we turn our sights to Christmas.   We are waiting for Jay to get home from work so we can put up our tree together.  It is the earliest we will have ever put up a tree, but Thanksgiving is late this year, and we have FIVE days to get through so the tree and attendant decorating shall happen just as soon as Jay comes home.  Both kids have been making popcorn and cranberry garlands today.  Buddy has been most accommodating with cleaning up the popcorn mess that has fallen on the floor.

Ahh, I almost forgot.  Sorry for the sneak peek photo (in the last post) and then the radio silence.  A slight slip-up on my part in that I gifted the garment before taking any proper pictures of it.  It’s a rather lovely shawl made for a very good friend.  We waited for our girls together, an experience that bonded us friends for life.   It was high-time she be the recipient of some knitting love.   And so now she is.  Here is a picture from the pattern:


Turkey drawing by Heather.  I’d love to embroider her drawing.

sneak peek


getting the kinks and wiggles out


My energetic assistant and I found the biggest book we could and started winding the BFL around it.  I tied the green ties around our little skeins and then we let them soak in the sink for 20 minutes or so while we went off and did some jumping jacks.  After that I hung them to drain over the kitchen sink.  Right now they are hanging on plastic coat hangers near the fire.  (George is wearing his konjo sweater which only just fits him this year.  It’s safe to say it’s still a favorite.)

DSC_0006 DSC_0005 DSC_0017 DSC_0018 DSC_0019I’d didn’t realize this yarn had so much stitch memory from the Braids Hill so when I started knitting the Tangled Yoke cardi it began to look slack and uneven.  I had to again rip and start over, with a little soak in between.

all sorts of therapy







Therapy of the retail sort,

The garter stitch sort,

And the getting out in the woods sort.

All good.

learning curve

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Seeing I mentioned the Gudrun Johnston cardigan in my last post I thought we could have a look at it together.  I knitted this exactly a year ago and it’s nice to see my knitting is getting better.  I definitely made this too small, and I see that low neck line again (what’s up with that?)  But just look at how I joined the arms – loose and sloppy.  I also found a weird wee hole which I bet was from putting the knitting down and picking it up again later and zooming off in the wrong direction (I”m not sure how I did that but I’m pretty sure that’s what it was.)  The point of showing these pics is to see how much my knitting is improving (although my measuring and sizing skillz are rubbish).  Here for one last time, is the Braids Hill cardigan and the sleeve I put on.  Mmmmmmmm, just look at that.


I really do like Gudrun’s cardigan and I plan to rip it out and start over in the correct size one of these days.  The yarn is Madeline Tosh pashmina but I don’t remember the colorway.

lamenting but moving on

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This is not a progress report but instead a lamentation about the Braids Hill cardigan.  I stalked this pattern upon seeing it on Kate Davies’ blog as it was being released.  I watched and read the Ravelry pattern boards with relish.  I made a special trip to Webs to buy the yarn.  I found the perfect yarn!  I reveled in the joy of again knitting from a Kate Davies pattern and still I ended up frogging this beautiful piece of clothing.

I hear you cry, why?  Well, let’s think back to about this time last year when I all but finished a Gudrun Johnston cardigan (I don’t think I ever posted pictures of it but it’s sitting quietly waiting for it’s due frogging).  I had read the pattern sizing wrong and knitted a cardigan too small.  This year, I measured myself incorrectly.  Huh?  How’d you do that?  Well let’s just say I was overly optimistic in my measurements and although this piece was inspired from among other things the “18th century laced stays and stomachers”; this particular article once tried on looked too tight to even be a corset.  I was saucily busting out of the top and I knew they’re’d by gaping holes between buttons.  I looked downright indecent!.  Nuff said.  I should mention I had perfect gauge.  Perfect!  Just the wrong damn size.

Kate Davies is a wonderful designer and a terrific communicator which makes her patterns a safe place to dare new techniques like tulip button holes and Sunday short rows.  I even mastered the art of the twisted stitch which was a hard won triumph during the knitting of the Business Casual socks not so long ago.  Kate Davies is one of my knitting heroines and I truly enjoy working from her patterns.   I can see my knitting skills are being honed from all the practice I get, but it was nothing short of miraculous to see my sleeves beautifully take shape without gaping holes or puckering.  I made some size modifications from the waist to the bust to allow more room for my ample front but even that didn’t help.  Oh how I hated pulling this all out.

But pull I did.  And then I had a good objective look at the pattern and at me.  The neck line on the Braids Hill is not for me.  I need a higher neckline.  So, I spent time carefully looking for a replacement and have found it in the Tangled Yoke Cardigan.  I have cast this on in earnest in a size bigger than I might have chosen before.  I am still eagerly awaiting Kate’s newest patterns which she is releasing any day now.  Here’s to learning from our mistakes and never giving up.

knitting weather

Oh it’s blustery and raining outside.  Perfect inside, cozy, knitting weather.  Lately I’ve been buying lots of yarn which is making me rather anxious and emphasizing the need to knit (even more than usual).  I’m not sure I like having too much yarn waiting…accusingly.  But today I’m free to knit, so knit I shall, with a hot cup of tea because we have the sore throat thing that’s going around.   DSC_0023

stash enhancement

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I’m not one for hoarding a lot of yarn (my husband might disagree with that statement, but I think by most knitters’ standards, I’m not a stasher).  However, not long ago a friend and I went to the famed WEBS store.  Having planned ahead, I had a good idea of what I was looking for.  After much browsing, I bought a sweater’s worth of Debbie Bliss BFL in DK weight in a bright autumnal red.  I’ve never knitted with Debbie Bliss but even more exciting is that it’s Bluefaced Leicester.  I’ve heard so much about BFL and I have to say, I’m smitten.  It’s gorgeous.  Both soft and sturdy it has good stitch definition which is exactly what I was looking for.  The color is what I had in my mind’s eye for the project and I love the singular yellow strands that randomly appear.  Having since started knitting with it, I am even happier with my purchase.  I think it’s perfect and I love stealing time to knit it up.

Next was an unplanned purchase which resulted simply from gazing around the store.  Lorna’s Lace Solemate is a superwash, nylon and viscose blend so it’s perfect for socks.  The colors caught my eye as they are all pretty and range from a peachy pink through a deep pink/purple.  I never feel guilty about buying sock yarn for some reason.

For the first time I was able to see with my own eyes the Madeline Tosh yarns before buying them (I have always bought it online).  WEBS has a healthy supply of Tosh to love on.  There was a lot of caressing and admiring the colors and softness.  Eventually I found a lace weight in the Curiosity colorway which is a beautiful grayish lilac.  100%  superwash merino wool.  Yummmmm.  This is going to be a big lacy stole that I’ve been eyeing up for some time.

I also bought my drop spindle from a corner of the shop that must be a spinner’s haven.  Baskets and baskets of colorful roving and stuff that I know nothing about begged to be touched and examined.  I wished I had even more time to putter in the shop but sadly the date had to come to an end as pesky children had to be picked up from school and brought home for snacks and such.  Sigh.

The last picture is just to show the colors here the other day.  It’s the same tree as in the previous post (2nd picture).  The colors have peaked and are beginning to dwindle.  We lost power on a windy afternoon recently and many trees lost their leaves.  Winter is coming.  Curiously, I am less resistant to the idea of winter these days which I attribute to the thought of knitting my way through the cold and bleak days having fun with color and softness and cheering myself up in the process.   So I wonder, does knitting help you deal with Winter?


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Friday after school the kids and I sat out on the back deck.   Glorious and gentle sun lit the leaves which are only starting to turn around our house.  Heather painted a Fall scene while George thrashed around in the fallen leaves.  Such fun.  I took up my new drop spindle and attempted to spin some wool into yarn.

It’s an extremely addictive pursuit.  Just like the knitting and crochet before that, the interwebs have introduced me to spinning.  There are many great knitting and spinning podcasts, but a favorite vidcast is Yarnraising.   Malia is just so knowledgeable and cute.  She has a knack for storytelling and somewhere in all there I was seduced into giving spinning a wee try myself.  As events lined themselves up to gently push me on I found myself buying a cheap spindle at Webs in Massachusetts.  And I digress, but Webs is awesome.  A friend and I recently made a road trip there and what a fun time we had.   I bought with purpose, having pre-planned my goals, and so shopped without haste or guilt.  Future post.

So with podcasts to educate me in the fascinations of spinning and a drop spindle in my basket next I found a flyer from a local yarn store offering a class in drop spindle spinning.  I signed up immediately and was both disappointed and elated to find I was the only student.  Sad for the shop, thrilled for my one-on-one time with an experienced spinner who wanted to show me how to do it.  Having never spun before I didn’t even know how to hold the spindle but as you see she has me spinning yarn, albeit uneven and over-spun.   I don’t care, it’s a lot of fun, and a very enticing rabbit-hole to leap into.

meet Coco

It’s not often that I win a prize from a bunny-maker extraordinaire.

But just the other day, I did just that.

When the package arrived I was excited and even a little emotional, as the little girl in me flooded back for a moment.

Coco arrived in a carefully sealed box with a happy clue stamped on the side.


She was prettily wrapped and held a little note card from Julie.


Upon unwrapping the tissue I looked at her little brown bunny face,

and her pretty little dress and shoes.

We smiled at each other and said “hello”.

I stroked her fuzzy wuzzy ears.


She shyly whispered

that she would very much like to spend her time with me,

rather than the children,

and I said,

“Yes, if that’s what you prefer.”


Little Cotton Rabbits is a captivating blog and

Julie is a talented knitter, crocheter and writer.

I am so happy to have won Coco.  

Thank you Julie for your kind and generous give-away.

catching up

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It feels like a long time since I left a chatty post about what’s going on here at Far From Harm Farm.  Unfortunately, my online life was considerably interrupted due to losing the internet for a couple of weeks, but we are back up now, thank goodness.  In addition to not being able to communicate or check in with you, we have been busy finishing up the summer and starting kindergarten and 2nd grade.  We are well into the swing of it now and things are settling down to a decent pace.  After-school activities really get going next week but we’ll worry about that next week.

George has taken to kindergarten extremely well.  I’m so impressed at the many changes in him in the last couple of weeks.  In preschool his class was made up of 3, 4 and 5 year olds whereas he’s now with 5 and 6 year olds.  He’s feeling like a big boy and his natural curiosity is being challenged and fed all the time.   In the last couple of weeks he has actively started to learn to write his name and the letters L and O.  He is counting like a champ and has even taken paper and pens out to draw by himself.  All of these basic things were a reach for him before, simply because, I think, he had so much else to learn and absorb first.  He appears to be catching up to himself, and let me tell you, it’s wonderful.  Wonderful.  WONDERFUL.

Heather has bounced into second grade with a new confidence I haven’t seen before.  The confidence seems to be in herself and her appearance – she is proud of her beautiful curly hair and has even shared a little bit about Ethiopia with her friends.  One of her class’ first assignments was to find a bag and fill it with a few things that represent “you”.  She chose to take her ballet slippers, the Ethiopian flag, and some hair care products.  This was the first time (that I’m aware of) that she would have openly talked about herself and fielded questions without mama bear to protect her.  Her teacher said she did great.  I’m a very proud mama bear.

On Saturday we had friends over to celebrate the Ethiopian New Year.  Everyone ate heaps of  doro wot, shiro wot, and mesir wot (all aromatic and tasty stews) warm cabbage and lentils, ayib (a kind of farmer’s cheese), injera (flat bread) and strong buna (coffee) to finish off.  It was a fun night of Ethiopian music, dresses, food and friends.

In other news, Jay is still working all the hours.  I am still knitting and walking quite a lot.  The running has fallen off for now, but the walking is great.  And here I am blogging again.  All feels well.  It is a good feeling and one which I will hopefully hold on to for a while to come.

George’s socks have been finished for a while.  They are squishy and warm.  I grabbed a free Ravelry pattern which was extremely basic and well explained so would be a great sock for a beginner.   The pattern can be found on my Ravelry page.


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Do you want to come with me for a picnic in the woods, perhaps with some teddy bears?  That’s exactly what this little cardigan complete with tiny leather buttons makes me think of.  And it makes me super happy.   My friend from Kenya recently had a baby boy so I wanted to knit him a little cardigan.  I chose this bright orange because it’s a happy and strong color.  It’s such a quick knit being knitted top down and in one piece with raglan sleeves and a garter stitch button band.  The handsome cables down each side of the button band along with the leather buttons give this a nice masculine feel, while the pima cotton is super-soft.  I knitted this up following Heather Cabanas’ Bigger Bitty Cardigan pattern and used the recommended Knit Picks comfy worsted.  The only modifications I made were to reverse the matching cable so it went in the opposite direction (the pattern had them going the same direction) and I made the body a little bit shorter than called for, although I’m not sure why, it just seemed the right place to stop.  My ravelry notes are here.

we be too busy to blog


Will return tomorrow,

but for now,

enjoy a pic of my son knitting alongside me.

This week he started kindergarten,

and knitting.


summer day

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I realize there’s a bit of a summer theme in these last few posts but what else could there be, really?  A morning spent outside with the kids playing followed by another glorious couple of hours waiting for Heather at rehearsals on these beautiful grounds.  The show is next weekend and will be performed in two locations, one being here.  A box of Knit Picks yarn arrived and I had to take a snap because it made me so merry on the inside.  The tomatoes are from the garden and a farm share we were gifted this week for looking after a friend’s cat while they vacationed on Martha’s Vineyard.   They were delicious and especially so after being cut up and tossed in sea salt and left to stand for 15 mins (to drain off the excess liquid).  Then you sprinkle oregano over them and drizzle them with a dressing made of 3 parts olive oil, 1 part balsamic or red wine vinegar and a clove of minced garlic.  Definitely throw in a seeded and chopped red chili pepper if you have one.  Toss and serve.  Thank you Jamie Oliver!

And here’s the friend’s cat enjoying my company while I enjoy my knitting and Voolenvine.


perfect summer evening

stg balcony

I had this space all to myself yesterday evening.  It’s a house and gardens that is a national heritage site and is open to the public.  Yet last evening, while Heather rehearsed for a ballet performance somewhere else on the grounds, I was allowed to wander around the gardens alone after hours.  In the end I sat here knitting with the gentle sun going down.


(The socks to match the hat.)

long summer afternoon

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Oh this summer is flying by.  Last summer seemed long and slow with lots of perfect weather but this summer has been completely different.  It’s been fast and sometimes frantic.  Lots of camps and our trip to Scotland (which seemed to take up most of July, but surely it didn’t!) has made this summer very busy indeed.  The weather has been meh… with some redemptive and beautiful days here in August.  The cool sleeping weather has been utterly joyful.

Our little friend “G” went back to NYC yesterday with lots of warm hugs before she boarded the bus with her fellow Fresh Air kids.  It was an early foggy morning and everyone seemed a bit sad that our friends were leaving, or that their vacation had reached it’s end.  We promised to have her come stay with us next summer, for an even longer stay.  During her stay she taught the kids and I the art of “creek stomping” where we waded knee deep in any old brook we could find in an attempt to catch tadpoles, frogs or fish.  Hours of fun for the kids and of course I slipped off to the waiting deck chair for some knitting.

The pictures above are from yesterday afternoon after we were all home from day-camps and work and the sun shone warmly but at a slightly lower angle.  Sitting in the garden with my knitting and the kids happily buzzing around me (and Jay working away on his pool platform/patio which deserves a post of it’s own) I was reminded again of last summer and all the time I spent sitting in the garden and knitting while my new son learned about his new life.   I think I might feel my most contented when in the garden knitting, the sun on my back, and my kids and hubby nearby.  It’s a simple thing to want, yet it’s taken years to achieve and I feel extremely lucky to have it and to know it’s good.


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