yarn along


Nothing too new to share around here since last week.  I’m still working on the betula shawl, nearing the end of the short rows on one side of it.  It is so much squishy garter knitting which makes it soothing and mindless.

I’m about half way through The Brave Learner and still enjoying it and learning a lot.  I think it is helpful for any parent involved in their child’s education who desires to have a creative and inspiring home, not just homeschoolers.

What are you making and/or reading this week?

Joining Nicole’s weekly Crafting On.

summer wool gathering

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A couple of weeks ago we made another field trip to a local sheep farm, Bovidea Farm, with some good friends tagging along.  The last time we visited it was December and the ground was dusted with snow so it was delight to see the farm in the summer foliage.  The sheep had just recently been shorn and their fleeces have been sent off to the mill.  Farmers Jim + Rose were in good health and cheerful, welcoming our big gaggle of children and abounding in knowledge to share.  I had hoped to purchase a good bit of yarn to dye naturally and be able to share with you all in my little etsy shop.  This time around I decided to purchas a small quantity to see how I like dyeing with it, and what your interest in it might be.  I knitted Phoebe a flax sweater in the worsted weight yarn, and I knit my Tales from the Isle of Purbeck shawl in the sport weight, as well as the shiftalong hat.  I really love their wool, it is very sheepy, rustic and springy.  I am hoping to knit a nurtured sweater for myself in it soon!  The only place to purchase their yarn is by visiting Jim and Rose’s farm yarn store, but Jim was graciously willing to allow me to play around with dyeing and selling it so that others of you can access it also!

Phoebe, Noah and Philippa all wanted to use some of their own spending money to buy themselves each a skein of yarn.  Phoebe set right to work knitting hers up and bound off her first finished object by the next day.  She made a cape for her doll, Kaya.  Noah is working on making a green scarf for one of his animals, and I believe Philippa is also.  It is quite dear to this mama’s heart to see them catching my love for wooly things, however long it lasts.

After leaving Bovidae we went to visit Echoview Fiber Mill since it was just 10 minutes down the road.  We picnicked in the grass there and then did a short mill tour.  It was neat to see the process of milling the fleeces, and I was happy to purchase a couple skeins of their lapidary base to try.  Their yarn shop had so many treats and lovely things in it, and one can’t help but admire their passion for caring for the earth, sustainability, and natural dyeing.  There were a couple of women processing dried indigo on the patio by the front door, many beautiful samples of sweaters, hats, and shawls to try on, and all manner of beautiful, useful objects.  The children were quite wiggly at that point and it would probably be more enjoyable to go back next time without them.

Now I’m doubting myself for attempting to dye and sell such a small quantity of yarn, and with all the heat here lately I haven’t been inspired to dye.  But I’m hoping the inspiration will strike and that some of you may be interested in trying out this special wool.

yarn along


In a week this shawl has grown quite a bit!  I’ve been knitting on it fairly monogamously, with a bit of sock knitting on the side.  I’ve tried ripping back on my nordiska but the cable detail on the raglan increases is making it a challenge!  I just can’t bear ripping it all out and starting all over as it was probably at least 15 hrs of work.  Anyway, in the meantime it is truly so satisfying to work with the beiroa yarn.  I love the slubby bits of brown wool when I come to it, and I love the weight and warmth of this shawl as it begins to take shape.  I’m almost done with the first big triangular section and am excited to start the short row sections on the sides of the triangle.  I know this is going to be something I wear constantly in the fall and winter.

We will start school lightly this week and I have been reading The Brave Learner after seeing Ginny recommend it on her blog.  I am really, really enjoying it and so encouraged by it.  In fact, I don’t think it could have come into my hands at a more perfect time.   She refers to feeling battered by the various philosophies and ideologies surrounding homeschooling–unschooling?  classical?  charlotte mason?  common core?  Not to mention all the various curriculum!  Don’t we all sometimes feel battered by all these ways in which we try to figure out the key to making our home school work?  Listen to this:

“The solution doesn’t lie in materials or ideology.  Rather, to experience joy, peace, and progress in home education requires a paradigm shift–a change in the criteria for how we see and stage our homeschools… The key to a kinder and gentler homeschool is attending to the details we overlook–the coziness of our homes, the principles of natural learning, and the tenderness of our intimate relationships.  It takes courage to move away from traditional methods of measurement: grade level, scope and sequence, the Common Core.  Our kids naturally lead the way, diving into whatever subject matter draws them, fearless in their belief that they can learn anything they want to learn.”

Bogart also talks about the common question we often hear thrown around these days: how do we get our children to love learning?  I love her thoughts on this, her questioning our motives in “getting” our children to love learning, and so forth.  I have been wrestling with some of these things in particular as Phoebe has been having some challenges with math which is making her “hate school,” and my main focus this school year has been about redeeming that love of learning.  I’m eager to learn and read further from Bogarts wisdom!  Already I’m very inspired and challenged.  I would recommend her book, though admittedly am only 50 pages in.

So what might you be reading or making these days?
Joining with Nicole’s weekly Crafting On.

yarn along



I was happily knitting away on my nordiska sweater and was ready to join in the round (you knit flat for awhile at the beginning) and my stitch count was waaayyy off.  I counted increases diligently and I have no idea what I did, but I’ve been avoiding ripping back and figuring out how to do so (and maybe just having to start all over?).  So instead of dealing with it, I cast on a new project, as you do.  Don’t worry, I will get to it soon, I just find that when I hit a snag on a project, often if I set it aside for a bit I come back to it with more clarity later.  Meanwhile, I have been wanting to knit the Betula shawl since it came out a year or more ago.  I am knitting it in the called for yarn and the same color way as the original design, which I rarely do but I realized this is why I love this design so much.  Betula means “birch” in Portuguese, and knitting it with yarn from Portugal is so special.  It is such a soft and yet rustic wooly yarn, and it really isn’t appropriate to work on in all this August heat, but it does make me dream of fall days and I really want to have some warm woolens ready for those brisk days that will be upon us before we know it!

The kids and I have been reading Gone Away Lake, and I’m nearing the end of Knitlandia for my personal reading.

What are you making or reading lately?
Joining with Nicole’s Crafting On and Ginny’s Yarn Along.

sweaters and swimsuits


Looking at these pictures today made me chuckle, the juxtaposition of sweaters and woolens with sprinklers and swimsuits.  We had a few cooler days (more like 80s instead of 90s) last week and cooler evenings, and thankfully here we can escape on the Blue Ridge Parkway to higher elevations and it is usually always chilly.  I’m thankful for those little respites from the heat, the glimpses of fall.  On the weekend we went for a picnic with my parents and of course, I didn’t pack enough warm layers because I couldn’t imagine it being that chilly, but it was.  The fire was so cozy and we hope to get out camping soon, soon!  The kids helped hunt for firewood and good climbing trees, and played hide + seek.  We lingered in the beautiful evening light and Brandon did a short, impromptu map + compass lesson with the older three.  Time up there in the quiet wilderness is always refreshing to my soul.

Meanwhile at home, flowers are growing, the garden is still giving its gifts, and bored sweaty children plead for sprinkler games.  I’m in the thick of planning for the coming year, and I’m getting excited for school days to begin soon.  I mentioned on instagram that I listened this week to the Charlotte Mason Poetry podcast latest episode (from Jul. 23) titled “Habits for Life” and was so reinvigorated by it.  I highly recommend it!

Anyway, these are simple little snippets from my week.  It is the first of August now, and the last days of summer freedom are upon us.  May we savor them!

yarn along


I finished up a couple of projects last week so of course I needed to cast on something new.  I’ve had the yarn for a while for a nordiska sweater and I finally cast it on this weekend.  I’m enjoying the simple stockinette knitting with the cable detail on the raglan increases for interest.

I finished Mother Culture and was so encouraged by it as I rest from teaching during the summer and look to the year ahead.  I highly recommend it!  I have a few more books I had hoped to read over the summer to refresh myself in homeschooling, and I still plan to get to them even though summer break for us is nearly over.  I have been reading Knitlandia and enjoying its lightheartedness in the evenings before bed.

What might you be reading or making lately?

Joining with Nicole’s weekly Crafting On.


July things + Deer Mouse vs. The World

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It is Friday and another summer week has flown by.  As I type, a half-drunk mug of tea sits besides me, thunder rumbles low in the distance while rain patters on outside.  In all my grumbling about summer, the heat, and how deflated it makes me feel, I am reminded of the many things I do really cherish about summer.  There are few things as lovely as a summer storm in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  I treasure their almost-daily predictability and the coziness and reprieve they lend to the hot days.  I am grateful for the produce of the garden, though it has reached the unruly stage where I feel like a gardening failure every time I step foot in it.  It’s only because I can’t keep up with it and manage it perfectly, but really, is that what defines a good gardener? Perfection?  Hardly.  We are still harvesting good food for our table with enough to share, and that is a blessing and a sweetness I always miss come cooler weather.  I savor the long bright days where children can play well after dinner outside and we can enjoy late walks in the cool of the day.  I’m especially grateful for the shift in our schedule, the setting aside of our formal school work and the embracing of the quieter rhythm of learning by inspiration.  My mind so needs the break from the churn of teaching, planning, executing, analyzing, and the children do also.  Lately they’ve been “playing school” and admitting that they are missing it, and it’s always important for them to experience that, I think.  I was reminded at a homeschool conference I attended recently that our brains are able to receive and connect concepts best in our REST.  Over the summer our little children’s minds are marinating the concepts we have taught.  So many concepts click and seem far easier when we pick up our school books again come Fall.

So, those are some of the really wonderful enjoyable parts of summer.  Picnics on the parkway, muggy hikes, the way we cherish a breeze.  Pool visits weekly, farmers markets.  So many things really, why do I complain?  But the truth remains that I am a winter girl through and through, and the best part of summer is the anticipating of fall, the turn, the cozy evenings, the camping, the daily fires, the hot stews and soups, the opening of school books, and all such loveliness.  I feel more inspired/creative in those seasons, more myself.

I don’t often enroll my children in activities mostly because of cost and secondly because of my own need to keep a simple and open schedule.  I am content to keep our running around to a minimum.  However, as our children grow, they need all sorts of experience and enrichment, don’t they?  We mothers will stretch ourselves so far and wide for these little ones we love so much.  So this summer has been busier with activity than normal, and that has been good.  I am feeling the adjustment of children who are getting older and needing different things, outlets and experiences beyond what I can provide at home.  And I do believe we will be introducing more activity this fall, though I will still fight to keep it simple and manageable for myself.

Phoebe spent last week in Drama Camp and finished the week performing in her very first play.  It was truly so special.  She is much braver than her mom!  She played the part of “the farmer” in “Deer Mouse Vs. The World.”  When she was ready to say her first line on stage, she took a big breath with a grin on her face like for a second she was overwhelmed with joy, nerves and excitement.  I held my breath, too, wondering if she would freeze or forget her lines, but she dove right in and did such a great job.  I am so proud of her and marvel at the way she is changing, growing up, transforming right before my eyes.  I can’t help but miss the little Phoebe she used to be but also feel so much joy and excitement about the stage we are in and what lies just ahead of us.  Motherhood stretches us in incredible ways, doesn’t it?  Always, this capacity to increase, to rise to the next challenge, to expand and make more room, to go farther than we thought we could. Always, this holding of our breath as our child takes a new “first step” and we watch them soar.