This Wednesday I am going to look at a pattern or two from another source!
I am currently knitting up the fabulous Arboreal sweater by Jenn Steingass (this link is in Ravelry, I am afraid there are no other links I could find where she sells the patterns outside Ravelry)
I am knitting it up using our Rustic with alpaca base which is currently up in the Etsy shop. I am using the natural beautiful grey base colour, a small amount of cream from the Rustic range and the Gentian for the blue.
It is knit up from the top down and all the colourwork is in a yoke around the neck. Beautiful leafy patterns!
The yarn is knitting up beautifully, Roger at the mill puts a lovely twist into the wool and it really is turning into one of favourites to knit with. I am also loving the combination of the natural grey of the wool with the hand dyed Gentian colour way.
True to my form though, as this knitting is for me it gets left to the bottom of the list, so was put aside for all the Christmas knitting and put aside for the custom orders….. but I plan to get back to it at least one night a week now and keep some progress going!
Jennifer Steingass has many many beautiful yoked sweater patterns so I hope this is my first of many! In fact logging into Rav has set me off again and I now rather like the Forestland sweater….. Sooo many patterns sooooo little time…..
I am starting a series of blog posts, about the things we get done and need to do around the holding…. maybe accountability, maybe a kick up the bum when we need it, maybe all just pie in the sky….. I will add videos onto the YouTube Channel for a monthly tour of the main bits of the holding as well! Hopefully around the same time as my monthly updates posts!
So for a first posting, maybe a list of to dos I seem to add to almost daily. These are over and above our daily chores of feeding and watering the animals which has to be done whatever the weather, although the chickens didn’t like the snow we had recently!
So my list at the moment:
Barn gutterings and down pipes (this will have to wait till later in the year and for a dry time, but we have managed to repair the middle barn sidings so far less water incursion there)
Tin hut finishing (there are MANY small and large jobs for this to happen but it will happen this year!)
New duck enclosure, they need a new house, more space and we plan to add it onto the current large chicken run
New willow plantings, both basketry and biofuel (J has finally said the whole little field can be put to willow!! Yay!! Well other than my dye beds, which will move up to allow for the duck enclosure to be added.
Renovate chicken shed enclosure after fox incursion last year, make the run ‘walk in able’
Make a hedgehog enclosure, Holly will need a safe outdoor garden space to live in come the spring, with log piles, a shallow pond and sleeping box.
2 long hedgerows to cut and reshape into a hedge rather than the tangled mess, and to also add to our wood supplies for next year.
Camping pitch x1 in the far pasture.
Start clearing the holding field for building work/landscaping though this will be an ongoing project over the next few years. I plan to build a cabin to run courses and more forest school etc.
Planting, growing, harvesting, fruit and veg
Planting and growing dye plants
Ongoing garden projects, both for the children and for flowers and prettiness!
Make a pond
Make more wildlife garden areas
Continue clearing and sorting the inside of the barns, removing rubbish, from years of accumulation both by us and the previous owners. Making workable areas and storage.
Pigs, at some point in the springtime the pigs will head off on their final journey to the abattoir
We have always had lots of plans each year for this place, last year we did a lot of gardening and we managed a few final fencing jobs, some holiday let building, a pig house, and a play palace for the boys. In fact since we bought the place in 2014 we have built a house, started and almost completed a second, built a veg garden, three huge raised beds and a polytunnel, planted an orchard, fenced and fenced and fenced. We have built a fruit cage, planted withy beds, a dome and a tunnel, more gardening after beating back enormous bramble forests….
So far this year, we have managed to start cutting back one of the hedgerows, the longest in fact! We are about halfway down the inner side, the outer side was done by tractor flail cutting. So just the tops to do on that half and then into the really overstood half! This has so far gained us about 5 foot more garden space for the holiday let. Now I need to chip the brash and get the willow fedge planted and the holiday let garden can rest till spring, when patio, gate building and planting will start in earnest. The far field hedge will allow us to plant some quick growing pines, for biodiversity, screening and firewood and also to prepare the camping pitch and compost loo site for the summer months.
We have planted our little horse chestnut tree, we have mastered sourdough and we have measured, planned out and written a to order list for the three new enclosures or extensions we need to build.
Each week I am going to spotlight a yarn, pattern or something wooly!!
This week it is the turn of the new Hilltop DK yarn!
Just before Christmas the local Mill rang to say that the yarn from this year’s shearing was able to be collected! Sooooo Exciting!!!! So I hopped in the car and drove the twenty minutes to the mill to collect it ASAP!
This year we had two different lots spun up. I purchased the fleeces from my neighbours new yearling lamb flock, who are Balwen and Torddu, basically Welsh hill sheep. Hence the name of the blend! I was super excited to see what this blend of fleece had turned out like! It is GORGEOUS!!
Its is bouncy and super warm when knitted up. I have already knit up a hat for the farmer, so he can wear the sheep to feed the sheep and I don’t think it has left his head these past weeks with the snow and ice! I have also knitted up a pair of double knit socks for James in this yarn.
James reckons they are the warmest socks he has (and he has a number of pairs of supposedly thermal ones!!) They also look to be really hardwearing as boot socks. Something I most definitely look for when choosing yarn for socks for my husband as he is soooo hardwearing on socks. I have watched many a beautiful pair disintegrate into holes rather too rapidly for my liking. I am not talking of little darnable holes either!! A pair of size 10 socks is just over a skein of yarn, so why not grab two and do contrasting cuffs and toes??
The feel of the yarn is akin to that of the Icelandic wool and as such I don’t feel that it is suitable for neck wear for example, but as a sweater I might line the collar line, but it would do well as a good outdoor sweater for the winter months. Especially working outside in the cold. I have managed to dye some of the yarn up already and it is drinking the dye in beautifully making for really rich colours with plenty of depth.
I will be releasing the natural coloured yarn and two rich deep colourways on Friday this week!!!!! (did you see the sneak peek on Instagram??)
Into the wild via the Etsy store, so if you fancy grabbing a skein or two pop over to the shop on Friday! In the meantime there are plenty of gorgeous yarns to coo over and buy in the shop already!! Including our popular Rustic with Alpaca DK, Pure Llanwenog DK (even in a rainbow of miniskeins!! And as always our ever popular sock yarns!!
Still on the go we have the Hazels shawl…. which I seem to be taking forever to write up let alone chart….
And the Hive shawl, which is nearly written (honest mum!! 😂😘) which need blocking final photos and a trip to the tech editor!!
I am also now working on a range of foraging and smallholding inspired patterns!! Mushrooms, more leaves, animals and even a hedgehog set of patterns which will be released to raise money for our local hoggie hogspital who nursed our beautiful Holly so well!!
I have knitted up some fabulous sweaters for the boys using our beautiful rustic with alpaca yarns!!
You can see which one is more impressed at the photo shoot for his new jumper!!
The yarn is a gorgeous blend of next to skin soft yarn!! And the colourways lend themselves beautifully to colour work patterns and these yoked sweaters, the Diplodocus sweater by Kate Oates is perfect for my two dinosaur enthusiasts!!
We have all sorts of colours sure to please your dino lovers too!!
He really does love it! Just didn’t want to take photos 😂🥴 Here are the colours we have available in the Etsy shop!
We grew a heap of pumpkins this year as I use them for forest school usually, for Montessori activities, for the mud kitchen etc but with the current circumstances, Forest school was cancelled this year for the Halloween special….
So we have been thinking of ways of using pumpkins!! Luckily our Piglets LOVE them and have eaten a good few of them!!
But we have also made pumpkin muffins and the kids loved them!!!
STEP 1Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with muffin cases. Mix the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and both sugars together in a large bowl. Break up any lumps of brown sugar by rubbing them between your fingers.
STEP 2Whisk the purée and eggs together in a jug, then add to the dry ingredients with the melted butter. Whisk for 1-2 mins with an electric hand whisk until just combined.
STEP 3Bake for 15 mins until golden and risen and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Lift onto a wire rack to cool completely. Will keep for three days in an airtight container.
We added dark chocolate chips for added yum!! And also tried a few with cream cheese icing like you would use on a carrot cake!! Yum!!!!
Two 100g skeins of our pure Llanwenog Aran weight yarn
A professional grade dye specially blended for you, in two colours and you can choose the base colour, and either a tonal or contrasting colour!
A full set of instructions helping you to get the effect you want from your own hand dyed yarn!
A perfect gift for a knitter or crocheted for Christmas to give them a taste of creating their own unique yarns!!
The yarn is a gorgeous pure Llanwenog yarn, from the sheep here on our holding. These sheep grow enormously bouncy fleeces and we take them to a local mill, literally a few miles up the road from us here is West Wales where they get scoured, sorted and spun up into a wonderful yarn, which is next to skin soft, and fabulous to knit with.
So many people say this to us!! And it always makes me laugh a little, yes in so very many ways we are living the dream, but I really don’t think a lot of people realise how much hard work the dream is!!
Take this week for example!!
All the rain and wind, meant slipped roof tiles and James braving the ladders to fix them, because water had started to come in through the ceiling in the boys room!!
We had a small electrical fire resulting in us losing our immersion heater…. no big deal we light the Esse for hot water mostly at this time of year! But more wood hauling…
More water around than ever it seems…. and for some strange reason multiple air locks in the water pipes of the house (seems to be a weekly occurrence requiring us to drain the system)
So we go puddle jumping to feed the animals and the pigs are happily digging themselves ponds!!
Rats!!!!! (And foxes!! We have lost 10 chickens this year to two fox attacks one where they clear chewed through the wiring of the cage!) but back to the rats, they have increased hugely this year and now as well as trapping the beasts we have to repair rat damage building the ducks a new home and repairing the floor of the chicken house, despite having “rat proof” feeders! We also have a nest in the workshop, so each time we go to get firewood we catch movement out the corner of our eyes and they are wily beasts avoiding the traps set or even bold enough to lick them clean without tripping them!!
And we have been working hard on the new build! James has painted the internals walls, the rear access ramp and front steps have been built by our wonderful builder!
And that’s before we even get started on the effects of Covid, isolations and lockdowns….
BUT would I swap this?? Would I go back to life before????
A million times no!!
Thank fully living here we have been (until this week) sheltered somewhat from Covid effects and having the land here means we have always had something to do and somewhere to go! The land allows us to get outside every day, to work, to look after our animals and to play.
We have the time and space to grow our own food and raise our own animals for eggs and meat and wool. So we know where our food comes from and how they have been raised and treated, which is important to us and waking round at this time of year both shows me how much we have done and how much more we have to do to put everything to bed for winter, then the willow harvesting can begin and I can put in more fedges, new plantings and try to soak up some of the water!!
We have some snippets of time to follow our own interests and this will hopefully increase as the years go by and things get more under control!!
Tomorrow we bring in the horses for winter and move the sheep into a more sheltered field for the winter, and maybe a bit more gardening or repairing…. today we eat a roast dinner from our own animals and our own veg and maybe I’ll steal some time to knit!!
And one day we will have field shelters, under control gardens and land, rat proof poultry pens, and a holiday let up and running!! So rather than living the dream more working towards or on the dream!! 😁