A timely hat

My daughter, Lydia, has been working on a few projects.  The other day she finished this hat for a friend’s birthday.

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Music is a large part of my girls lives.  It’s also a shared interest with the recipient of this gift.  She plays and writes music for the harp, and also plays the piano.

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Lydia found the pattern for the music notes through Ravelry.com.  She scaled it to the appropriate hat size.  The photography also belongs to Lydia.

A little sweater

I was reminiscing about my beginnings with knitting the other day, while celebrating my youngest son’s third birthday.  But, something I love even more is that my daughters have also caught the vision; the love of the needle arts and/or the love of creating something to give to someone else.

My daughter, Hannah, created this sweater over the summer months prior to the 4-H County Fair.  It’s for a toddler girl.  She found matching buttons within the “stash” that belonged to her late grandmother.  Her efforts earned her a Grand Champion in her age category and a Reserve Champion overall in needle arts in Dodge County, Minnesota.

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My girls have also enjoyed participating in “Ravelry.com” Did you know there are over 4 million knitting and crocheting members there?

A little birthday

Ben is three-years-old today.  What a blessing to spend the whole day with him.

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He’s wearing the “bobby” sweater I made for Sam (his older brother) in the last few months of carrying him.  Funny memories it brings back.  I used to get everything that I had to do while standing (ie. housework) done, and then take my knitting project outside to work while sitting in a lawn chair, watching the older kids playing in the driveway on the hill in Chaska, Minnesota.  I believe it was the first sweater I made, one piece at a time.

 

Smocking on Baird McNutt Irish Linen

I’ve been enjoying doing a little English smocking on Irish linen. It’s been a while since I’ve had this pleasure, and this is my first try on Irish linen, which is lovely to work with and touch.

A few years ago, I took a correspondence course with the Smocking Arts Guild of America on “Advanced Stitches”, that is stitches that are less often published. This course encouraged the use of stitches that are rarely seen, such as the Cretan, honeycomb, and herringbone stitches and variations of those stitches. It also encouraged the art of creating your own smocking design. I am young in my abilities with this art, but I’m having fun.

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This piece is smocked, but unblocked, and of course, unfinished. It’s a little unnerving for me to post unfinished projects, but a friend recently encouraged that people love to see things in progress, so I am sharing my work in progress.

Often, it is said, a piece should have one distinct focal point. I am still thinking through the English smocking. Should I add a little embroidery or keep it simple, which is my taste? I am a fan of the contrast between blue and white.

This is an over-blouse intended for my nine-year-old daughter. It is the “Ainsley” pattern by Children’s Corner. I have a second front piece pleated. It will have only white on white work with the surface honeycomb stitch, as my daughter needs an all-white blouse for a choir requirement this year. The Baird McNutt Foyle white linen with blue smocking is my diversion from working only black on black or white on white.

Retting the Flax

It’s been a great summer, and I’ve gotten just a little behind on my writing about our flax science project. In July, the flax was hand pulled and put into beets. The beets were left to dry for a few days.

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When the flax was completely dry, we stored the flax beets inside our garden shed until we were ready to begin the retting process. One Sunday afternoon, we worked to remove the flax seeds, which will be a healthy addition to breads.

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After the seeds were removed, the flax beets were placed in a bin of water for about four to five days. (It’s true that the water and the flax become quite fragrant, and it’s not a good fragrance.)

With rubber gloves on, the flax is removed from the water and laid out to dry (holding your nose, of course).

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After a day of good sunshine, dried flax looks like this:

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Once nicely dried, a stalk can be taken in hand and easily bent to expose the lovely long flax fiber that eventually becomes linen.

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Flax Harvesting

It’s been a few weeks now that we’ve enjoyed the little periwinkle flowers on our Marilyn flax crop.

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But, all good things come to an end, and the flowers do not stay forever. They say, when the bottom third turns yellow, the lower leaves start to fall off, and the seed pod is almost ripe, it’s time to harvest flax.

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This morning we decided it was time to pull the flax by hand.

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Here in Minnesota, the morning was cool, but it’s supposed to reach the 80s F today. We went out first thing to handle the task. The kids thought it was great fun.

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We’ve been comparing our flax with how the flax looks on the Irish Flax Farming videos online. Our flax looks just a little more dry and yellow through the length of the stalk than those in Ireland.

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The kids carefully laid the flax stalks in one direction, creating neat bunches or “beets” that would be kept together with ties of a few flax stalks.

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Finally, the bunches were lined up together to form “stooks”.

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