On My Needles

My second set of videos are now live!  Yes, I said set, because it’s in two parts again.  It seems that my camera only likes to record for just over 20 minutes, but based on my first two attempts, I seem to like to talk for approximately 24 minutes.  So I’m either going to have to learn to talk faster or to say less!

A long-time blog reader told me that watching these videos is like imagining a character in a book and then meeting that character and being totally surprised.  The really funny thing is that it’s the same for me!  How I look, how I sound, my style of speech… all totally strange and interesting to me.  Really?  That’s me??  If didn’t have the experience of recording it, I don’t know that I would believe it!

Show notes down below….

My poor trashed garden….


The Mini Wrap by Fox & Folk

Isis Tailcoat (because I misspoke twice for goodness sake) by Kari-Helene Rane

The No Frills Cardigan by PetiteKnits

Thrysos Yoked Blouse by Teresa Gregorio


A New Direction

I’m including my first, two part, podcast here today.  As I ease back into this space, I think I’m going to be working with both traditional blogging and, the very new to me, video log.  I explain my reasons for this in the video.  It’s really all just an experiment and I’m not at all sure where it’s going to go!

In the part that was accidentally cut I talked about subjects I’ll be covering in the future…things like knitting, sewing, intentional wardrobe planning, homeschooling, home and garden tours, homemaking, and really anything that strikes my fancy! I hope you will take the time to join me.


Yarn Along June

I’ve been puttering my way through reading lately.  Picking something up, putting it down.  Just looking at the pictures.  Reading a paragraph or a page or two and then skipping ahead a hundred pages.  Some books lend themselves better to this than others.  Cookbooks for example.  Some knitting and sewing books.  Or this one: Carl and Karin Larsson: Creators of the Swedish Style.  So many pretty pictures to look at!  And short captions to read to kind of get the gist of it all.  I did read the whole of the chapter devoted exclusively to Karin and found it very interesting.  Also, there is a child’s dress (designed by Karin, of course!) featured in several of Carl’s paintings, that I totally wish to recreate for Seraphina.

I read around two-thirds of Soulful Simplicity by Courtney Carver before it had to be returned to the library.  I’d like to finish it some day.  This is Home: the Art of Simple Living is my current putter, but I’m not finding it as exciting as I had hoped.  The photo on the cover is probably my favorite.

I’m all sorts of flitty and flighty these days.  There are reasons of course.  Since my concussion, back in March, I’ve struggled with reading leading to headaches.  It’s getting better.  Much better than it was, surely, but I’m not quite back to normal and I haven’t yet found my usual groove.  Also, the book supply has been spotty since Steve has been unemployed.  He used to drive by the library every day on his long ride home from work.  I would order books on-line and they would just magically show up with him when he arrived home.  It was a good system.  Perhaps it was a little too easy, we generally had 30-40 books out at any given time and sometimes upwards of 65!  Now trips to the library are rare.  We have a grand total of three books out at the moment.  Often by the time we finally pick up a book, it’s nearly time for it to be returned.

My knitting has been much the same.  Usually I knit my way through much of the day, during car rides, while talking on the phone, as I teach… but my brain is still struggling to coordinate multiple things at once.  And more often then not I still find myself dropping my knitting back in my lap after only a stitch or two so that I can concentrate on whatever else is going on.  I’ve made some serious strides with this in the last couple of weeks and I’m hoping to find that I’m back to my old self soon.

In the month of May I finally worked in all the ends on the twin sized blanket that I crocheted for Seraphine, I knitted a tie for Iain to wear for his senior photos, I made a bonnet for a friends baby, and I photographed not a one of them.  I discovered that mice had made a stash of quinoa in the scrap blanket that I’ve been knitting on sporadically for the last several years and I decided that it’s time to get it finished up, out of that work basket and in use.  I’ve been putting in some work on that and inviting others to do the same.  It will be a generous full-queen size when all is said and done and I probably have nine or ten inches worth of length to go.  And just two days ago I decided that I would really like the option of wearing the blue sweater that I had been working on, before I started bopping all over the place, to Iain’s graduation next week.  So for the time being I’m concentrating on that and sort of nervously knitting away.


Yarn Along January

Over the holidays and on book club break I was so excited to have the luxurious freedom to read whatever I wanted.  Of course I ended up spending the better part of December previewing Christmas chapter books, trying desperately to stay ahead of my prolific young reader.  BUT, but, but, there has been other reading as well.  One day I had about 5 minutes to spare at the library on our way back from an appointment and I practically ran through the aisles, pulling books joop, joop, joop.  No time to really read or consider.  Gut reaction, judge a book by it’s cover and move on.  Below is some of what I ended up with.

Deer Valley Girl: I know many people love Lois Lenski, but I have to say, the “he said…”, “Then she said….”, “she put down the box”, “see spot run”, style narrative bores me.  I prefer books to be descriptive and nuanced.  Perhaps this is not the best representation of her work?  I don’t know.  But I do know that it’s 145 pages of large print with pictures and it’s been in the house for like a month and a half now, and I still haven’t made it through.

The Rules of Gentility  It takes place in the Regency period, so think Jane Austen, only with a twist because instead of just telling the story outright, it’s told from the perspective of the main characters’ thoughts and is therefore often hilarious and far “proper”.  Quick, light, humorous, rather dirtier than I assumed and just so much darn fun it was the perfect vacation read for me.  I could use a solid month of reading books like this, along with some simple knitting and a whole lot of tea and quiet.

Brown Girl Dreaming: Picked up with one of my book clubs in mind, with everything else I’ve only read a small section, but it drew me in right away and I already feel like it’s one I’ll be eager to share.

Bellefleur: Having read one book by Joyce Carol Oates that deeply resonated with me and another that was well written, but didn’t quite strike the same chord, when I spotted this the thought of luxuriously immersing myself in an epic long book by her sounded just delightful.  It took me a while to settle into it.  Halfway through and I felt like I’d already read three or four books and yet still was somehow unsure of myself within this book.  It’s long and jumps all over the place.  There are endless characters and ever more being introduced.  On one page you are in the present time (present to the story anyhow) and the next you are a 150 years earlier.  It’s strange and eerie and haunting and sometimes quite dull and confusing and astounding and with all of that I’m still really enjoying it.  I’m in a race to finish because books clubs have started up again and my reading time is limited!

Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front: I was introduced to this book by a friend of the author and I have to say, I had trouble putting it down and I’m now passing it around to other members of the household.  Overlooking a few editing snafus, this is an amazing, life changing sort of book.

A Country Affair: Not at all what I expected in picking it up.  I had to come back and add it in because I actually completely forgot that I had read it.  I found a library receipt thing and went, “Oh yeah..”  I think we can deduce that it did not make much of an impression on me!

I actually finally, finally, finally finished the Sweater That Shall Not Be Named.  Though it still needs to be blocked and I seem to be taking my sweet old time with this, just as I did with the whole rest of the project.

I’m working on a Lopi sweater for Elijah, who is uber-impatient and keeps implying that it’s taking forever, when in fact it is really not.  It’s pictured above right before I attached the sleeves to the body for the yoke.  I’m now through the vast majority of the yoke.  I cast on round about the first week of November….for a men’s sized fair-isle.  Not. taking. forever.  Actually going fairly quickly, considering he knew going into this that I had some other projects I needed to work on as well.  He always seems to start in on me when he’s sitting somewhere in the vicinity of my feet (which doesn’t seem like the best plan), so I just poke him with my toes a bit, tell him to give me a break, and keep on knitting.

I also knitted myself a pair of slippers, though I don’t have any pictures of them and they don’t really stay on my feet.


Christmas 2017

Seraphina’s Christmas Wish List: Eggnog, jelly beans, chocolate cake, candy, bananas, oranges, clementines, grapefruits.  My mother asked, “don’t you want any baby dolls or toys or books?”  Nope. Just sweets.

Elijah watches old episodes of Bob Ross, Galen watches Elijah, I try to figure out which walls can still fit more paintings.  The northern lights one was my Christmas present from Elijah.  Galen is an extremely prolific painter, but I tend to get fewer pictures of his as he tends to paint at night.

Two books that are perfect for around the time of the Winter Solstice:

Little Snow Bear by Hazel Lincoln has been a family favorite for years.  I believe Elijah received it for his 4th Christmas.  The illustrations are divine and I think they were the inspiration for the painting in this post.  It’s a very sweet and gentle story in which little snow bear goes out in search of the missing sun.  Our copy is worn and battered and greatly beloved.

Lucia and the Light by Phyllis Root was a happenstance library find and entirely new to us this year.  The story is modeled off of Nordic lore, but more modern in tone and appearance.  It had me from the opening page, “Lucia and her mother and baby brother lived with a velvet brown cow and a milk-white cat in a little house at the foot of a mountain in the Far North.  The cow gave milk, the cat slept by the fire, and the baby cooed and grew fat by the hearth.”  When the sun disappears one day Lucia’s mother tells her that they will, “be each other’s sun until the real sun returns”.  The sweet story turns into an adventure when Lucia sneaks out to find the sun only to discover it’s been stolen by trolls!  The trolls, admittedly, were too much for sensitive, three-year-old Miss Seraphina, but I will keep this one in mind for next year.

Life with teens: I have one who walks about draped in home-made whips and another who randomly wears boxing gloves as some sort of bizarre fashion statement.

The baby doll Juliette has been in a somewhat horrifying state for about a year now.  She never really recovered from that time when Galen decided to give her “troll hair”.  And beyond which was getting rather grubby with two years of loving.  When two days before Christmas my neighbor dropped by with some brown mohair yarn I decided the time was ripe for an impromptu surprise makeover.  I do not adore the highlights.  They are what was salvageable of her original hair, plus the little bit of that yarn that I had leftover.  I was afraid that if I used an entirely new hair color she might be too different, so I tried to blend the two.  It’s ok-ish I guess.  I also cleaned her up, refreshed her rosy cheeks and donned her in her new Christmas nightie (of course) she made her grand reappearance on Christmas Eve.

Elijah helped with the Christmas pajamas again this year.  Thank goodness.  It’s too daunting for me alone.  It took 16 yards of fabric to cover those boys of mine!  Sixteen!  We hated the pattern (Simplicity 2771) so much that by the time we got to Galen’s we decided to switch to another pattern entirely (Kwik Sew K3945).  Elijah made that complete set on his own in probably a quarter of the time it would have taken us with the other pattern.  And probably half the size- the others were HUGE!

For the girls I used old standbys.  My favorite Kwik Sew 3423 and it’s bigger sister Kwik Sew 3105.  I used the latter for Mairi Rose’s first Christmas and have turned to them both regularly ever since.  I made them each a pair of pink organic cotton velour leggins for underneath.  And they are terribly sweet and soft and toasty and cuddly in them.

Oh, I almost forgot!  Seraphina’s romper….I was rushing out the door headed for a long car ride and trying to quickly pull together everything I needed for the day’s knitting.  I had every intention of sizing up the Lady from the North Cabled Romper, but something went amiss with my paypal and it decided to treat my payment as a check requiring three days to clear.  Are you kidding me??  So I grabbed a stitch dictionary instead and designed my own as I went along.  I was already well into it when the pattern arrived several days later.

And the chickadee!  I love him so.  It was a little project just for pleasure, started with some friends, mostly crafted on Christmas day, finished a day or two later.  I think I might have to make a tradition of it and make a new bird each year to add to the tree.




And this is as far as I got in what was going to be a very full advent sort of post.  Better some than none?  I don’t know, but here you go anyway.

The garden is covered in ice and snow.  I’ve been scanning/quick reading Christmas chapter books all month to make sure that they are ok for Mairi, who reads at least one a day.  I’ve been making a list so that I don’t have to start all over again with Seraphina.  I should share it here, but who wants a list of Christmas books after Christmas??  I’m absolutely exhausted, but I suppose that can’t be helped.  Christmas pajamas are complete, but for a few snaps still needing to be set.  It took 16 yards of fabric to cover my boys this year, for goodness sake!  The girls’ are of a different fabric and pattern this year- pink and matching, Seraphina is going to be thrilled and hopefully Mairi Rose will be tolerant.  My Grandmother’s shortbread with all sorts of alterations for dietary restrictions turned out only so-so.  Elijah has been covering at least one canvas a week (that is one of the more recent ones above) and Galen has been averaging a painting a day (didn’t get so far as to include those pictures).  We’re supposed to have a snowstorm Christmas morning and I’m pleased about that.  Currently I’m trying to figure out if there is any way to fit in a Christmas Eve nap, but I think I probably ought to go clean up my living room instead.  It’s also my sewing space at the moment.  You might just be able to picture the chaos.  Or maybe not.  I seem to bring with me my own special brand of chaos.  And goodness I need to be on top of it all soon because in 12 days my children have a birthday.  Mairi Rose will be 9 and Iain will be 18 (!!!).  p.s.  Who decided that 18 makes for an adult?  I think I might like to have a word with them…  And there are still gifts and things to be tended to there.  So I think I’ll end here by saying a very merry Christmas and happy holiday season to all of you!!!!

with love, Melody, Steve, Iain, Elijah, Galen, Mairi Rose, Seraphina, and a whole slew of chickens


Yoda Tea (for lung inflammation and congestion)

Back in the spring when I was sick with pleurisy I tried just about everything to ease the pain, reduce coughing and try to get back on the path towards wellness.  This strong brew, named ‘Yoda‘ by my children for it’s characteristic sickly green color, was the single thing that I felt benefited me the most.  With cold and flu season upon us, I’ve had regular requests to share this recipe.

Yoda Tea

1 large fistful of fresh thyme*
2 T. of matcha green tea
1 T. of turmeric
1 T. of whole cloves
orange peel- around 1 orange worth
Around 1/2 Cup of lemon juice
Honey to taste

*Whenever we have made this we have used the fresh thyme growing in our garden.  We grow an heirloom variety of “sweet” thyme, which has a very pleasant and rather milder flavor than regular thyme.  Some people have found that amounts need to be adjusted according.

Place the thyme, the matcha tea, turmeric, cloves, and orange peel in a quart jar.  Cover with boiling water.  Steep for at least 5 minutes, strain.  Add in the honey and lemon juice and drink it as warm as you can tolerate it. I suggest regular stirring or shaking to keep the powdered ingredients evenly distributed.
When I was at my worst I was actually drinking it a quart at a time, but obviously it could also be drunk a cup at a time, which may be more appropriate for a more minor illness.


obligatory disclaimer: I’m a random mother on the internet posting a tea recipe that she found helpful, not a doctor, so use your discretion and due consideration when making your own healthcare decisions.   

Yarn Along: 11/11

Although Ginny, the creator and “host” of Yarn Along, seems to have drifted away from it, I’ve always kind of liked that weekly check in of reading/knitting, especially as a way of easing back into blogging after an absence.

There has been a shift in my knitting since I last wrote about it.  I’ve actually been knitting a great deal, just not posting about it.  My Ravelry notebook is woefully behind.  I’ve been working on a number of projects for my kids and feel as though I’ve comfortably settled back into the way things should be.  It would have been better if I was preparing for autumn, but I’ll settle for preparing for winter instead.  I’m currently finishing up the last strap on a romper for Seraphina, when I have the patience I’m working in the roughly eight-zillion ends on a sweater for Iain, and I’m well underway with a sweater for Elijah (pictured above).

I’m currently reading Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers by Ralph Moody with the book club for adolescents that I run at our homeschooling co-op and  The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl  by Timothy Egan with my high-school group.  The upside to leading the groups is that I get to re-read some fantastic books and share them with these children that I adore.  The down side is that it leaves precious little time for me to pick up a new book on my own!

These two actually have a great deal of overlap and relate to each other.  This was not planned, it just happened that way.  Both groups read at a different rate and they just happened to line up.  It’s been interesting for me to re-read the two of them together.  The first is the author’s memoir of  moving to and working the land on a ranch in Colorado at the beginning of the twentieth century.  It’s sort of like the Little House books, only rather harsher.  The second is a collection of information and real-life accounts of the brutal dust storms that absolutely devastated the high plains during the Depression.  Dust storms that were largely due to the settling and plowing up of the prairie sod in places like Colorado, where people where flocking at the turn of the century!  The politics throughout both are just mind-boggling; horrific in many ways and yet somehow not surprising.  Both books are well worth reading and sharing.

I would love to hear suggestions of your very favorite books for the 13-15 year old range!