Keeping the hands busy

Yes, it has been a shamefully long time since I last blogged. Life here on the farm just requires way more time than we ever seem to have. The brutal winter didn’t help much, as we shifted between trying to prevent ice damage and frozen pipes, and endless hours of snow shoveling. (Worst of all: where to put all that white stuff??)

Thankfully we believe the winter is over and gone, and we are appreciating somewhat warmer days and (for now, at least) rain instead of snow. I was, however, able to use some of those no-electricity days and too-tired-to-work evenings to keep up with some knitting projects.

Naturally I started about ten new ones, too, so I’m just now (and very slowly) finishing them off one by one. Here are a few of the off-the-needles-at-last efforts. (Click on photo to enlarge, and to find out what these are.)

The pop, crackle, and mystery of lava

Puu Ol flow 7-15-13 - 1I have recently fallen head over heels in love with lava flows. For an Indiana-to-Colorado-to-New-York girl, that is a pretty strange attraction. But I stumbled across a blog by Bryan Lowry, who lives in Hawaii, and once I started reading about and then watching his videos and seeing his photos, I became a lava lover. (And by the way, if you have some of those what-to-buy-for-them friends this Christmas, one of Bryan’s photos would be spectacular.)

For the past 22 years Bryan has been hiking around Kilauea and lately around her active Puu Oo vent. He is obviously very well experienced in the science of lava flows … but add to that his gift for photography and videography, and I dare you not to be smitten, too. His blog explains the many faces of lava, how it flows, where he is on the volcano, and exactly what you are seeing. As with any expert, it often appears that anyone could lace on their sneakers and stroll around a lava flow, but the truth is quite different.  An active lava flow is about 1500° — one must know exactly where on the formation it is safe to walk or stand. A mistake can quickly be deadly, and this is only one of the many challenges.

Bryan has explored locations visited by very few (if any) humans in the history of this volcano. To see what he has seen is an immense privilege. It is well worth a few minutes (which could easily become hours, so plan ahead) to visit Bryan’s blog, his Vimeo page and his website, where you can view his spectacular photo galleries. I invite you to become a lava-lover with me.

Just to give you a little taste of the amazing attraction of lava flows, watch this video. Hope you love this as much as I do (or even a little bit — that would be a lot!)

Back in quilting mode

I recently stumbled across the “stack and whack” method of making kaleidoscope quilts. I was fascinated, and decided to fool around with some of the fabrics in my stash.

Well, this turned out to be some kind of serious fun …

The ladybug fabric is the backing. I’m thinking a “thousand-miler”* option is a good idea for a table runner.

* A “thousand-miler” is my mother’s definition of a dress that could be worn for “a thousand miles” and not show any wear (like food spills!).


Michigan Sea


I grew up near the southern tip of Lake Michigan, but I really didn’t appreciate my bone country when I was there. On my recent visit to Wisconsin, however, the Lake and I became good friends again.

I’m a firm believer that the Great Lakes are really inland seas, and should receive the respect of being called seas rather than lakes.


Michigan Sea. Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? Really, when it takes two and a half hours to cross by fast boat, and when in the middle you can’t see either side, that’s not a “lake”.  Not in my book anyway, and if I’m wrong about this, just let me have my dreams.

One of the things I truly love is how the water changes, not just from day to day but nearly moment to moment, depending on the weather. I was only in Wisconsin for a few days and all of these photos were taken out of two windows, one looking north, the other east.

IMG_0727I couldn’t get enough of it. Soothing one minute, then in turn awesome, frightening and funny. Going to sleep to the sound of crashing waves in a storm is a treat everyone should enjoy at least once in their lives.

It certainly worked better than any sleeping pill for me.

Thank you, Great Creator, for the blessing of water, for the lessons of power and beauty, and for rocking me to sleep in the middle of a stormy night.



Old slippers

Old slippersA couple of years ago I bought some dark blue slippers to put on in chapel (a fair amount of rich soil, to say nothing of a variety of natural fertilizers, follows us everywhere we go). Lined in fleece, easy to slip on, soles able to withstand being worn outdoors for the days I forgot I had them on when I returned to work—when I finally had them “broken in” I grew to love them.

Needless to say it wasn’t long before they had molded so comfortably to my feet I began to wear them everywhere on purpose, especially in winter.

Now they are faded and falling seriously to ruin. But they have become my friends and the quintessential example of “comfortable as an old pair of slippers”. I plan to wear them till they fall off my feet. Literally. And that day will definitely been sooner rather than later.

I dread the idea of slipper-shopping, and the inevitable sticker-shock that accompanies the task. New slippers will look ever so much better, but that will just be the outside. No, I’m not looking forward to the day these old friends can’t make it one more step.

Holy One, let me be like these dear slippers: let me not fret over my outer cracks and wrinkles and fading skin, and may I become immensely soft, well-molded, supportive and forgiving where it counts.

MORE quilting … and other stuff

Last four blocks

Finally managed to make four more BOM blocks, and I think I have enough to finish the quilt. Which won’t happen soon … need to select sashing and come up with backing fabric, too. I always bog down at this step.

Thrummed mittens

Thrummed mitten in process. “Thrums” are little folded pieces of drafted fleece (on the left in the photo). These are wrapped around the needle as you knit, leaving the loopy ends inside the mitten. 

This combination of wool and air is the perfect recipe for keeping hands toasty warm.

Pile-o-hats: Using little bits of bulky yarn to make toasty hats, too. This is another way to add inner softness and warmth; super bulky wool yarn is inserted in a stranded pattern rather than in individual pieces.

Here is the outside of a hat made with handspun “slubby” yarn …

And this is the inside.

TEAny Hats

These are #16 – 21. Who, me addicted?

Seamen’s Church Institute is sponsoring a knitting project called “Teany Hats”. In conjunction with several Starbucks outlets in New Jersey, they are launching a program to inform customers about the importance and conditions of seamen. As an inveterate knitter, I just have to participate. I think there’s a crochet version, too … so all you yarnies out there, check this out. [These use about ten yards of a light worsted weight yarn—worthy stash-buster and easy-to-carry along handwork!]