Ramble at Dusk

“Man always kills the thing he loves, and so we the pioneers have killed our wilderness. Some say we had to. Be that as it may, I am glad I shall never be young without wild country to be young in…

Of what avail are forty freedoms without a blank spot on the map?”

–Aldo Leopold, 1949










Amen, Aldo.
Thanks for always keeping Leopold’s words alive for me, Dad.


Rambling at dusk in the marshy prairie in Dudgeon Lake State Wildlife Management Area (Iowa).
I hope my American friends found time to ramble post-Thanksgiving, too. xx


noro hand warmers, emk shop update, fox sparrow {yarn along}








“Seriously, Ruby, what good are hand warmers?”–I was asked this question last week after the release of my pattern Flora’s Tidy Hand Warmers. Until I actually knit myself a pair of hand warmers/fingerless gloves/mitts & wore them throughout the course of a day, I, too, felt the fingerless-anything was a frivolous waste of good yarn. But I have seen the woolly light & find hand warmers immensely useful:

*staying warm driving my son to & from school–my car is cold for at least 5-10minutes

*protection from temperature changes when working (hauling wood, delivering mail, feeding chickens, collecting eggs, etc)

*protection from temperature changes when using binoculars (we bird a lot) or knitting in the elements (soccer games, football games, etc)

*essential spring/fall accessory when full-blown mittens/gloves are too much


*playing the trumpet in marching band in the fall (my daughter)

*cleaning your iPad/iPod/iPhone screen (my son)

*keeping the outer side of your hand clean whilst drawing with chalk, colored pencils or charcoal (my daughter–she has a pair of fingerless gloves specifically devoted to this activity)

*little ones who want to play outside & manipulate objects, but the bite of spring or fall is too much for bare hands

*drinking hot cocoa, hot tea, hot coffee, hot cider–save some trees, skip that cardboard coffee cup sleeve!

*looking like a hispter (husband, not me)

*looking like a really cool knitter (me me me, lol)

There are plenty of other reasons, these are just mine. I stocked my Etsy shop yesterday with three new pairs of Flora’s Tidy Hand Warmers ready-to-ship & pictured above, graciously modeled by my daughter.  I’m particularly fond of this pair.

Use the code REPEAT10 for 10% off anything in the Ella Mae Knits Etsy Shop if you’d like.

I found the combination of Mountain Girl Yarns sock weight with Quince & Co Chickadee (a strand of each held together) is an inspired combination for Flora’s Tidy Hand Warmers–creates a beautiful, squishy-soft & stretchy pair (last two photos).  I also experimented with Noro Kureyon (first photo) with my pattern & found it knits up beautifully…I just can’t decide if I like the fact that the pair is completely non-indentical.  Thoughts?

Coralee & I spotted a new species of bird at our feeder on Monday.  We spent some time with its identification as it was a very interesting bird.  A beautiful ruddy-colored, round-fat sparrow with amazing streaking on the breast, foraging under the feeder among a healthy passel of House Sparrows.  A Fox Sparrow.

Always feels good to positively identify a new bird.  I think the research involved in the identification commits the species to long-term memory, more so than when a birder more knowledgeable than I points out a new bird & labels it for me on the spot.

Joining in with Ginny.

Cat Cold



We have two farm cats that live outside. They used to roam all over the fields & through the woods when we first took them in a few years ago. Once we had them both fixed they took up residence in our garage & their wandering days ended abruptly (probably a good thing). Now they’re garage cats.  And quite lazy.  Yesterday the female, Pepper, showed up at the back porch screen door, whining to come in, but that’s nothing new. She’d love to be a house cat. I am extremely allergic to cats, however, so that’s never going to happen. But yesterday was just so very very cold for November & June wanted to play with her kitty so badly, I balked & let her hang out in a laundry basket for an hour while June mothered her and “doctored” her with her play doctor kit and gave her balls of my yarn.  An hour of pure bliss for June.  Later, after Pepper had been placed back in the garage with her brother Socks, June spent the rest of the day pleading & whining to let the kitty inside again…always consequences. 🙂

a tidy pattern, a giveaway! {a yarn along}



Mountain Girl Yarns single-ply 'Sugar Plum'.

Mountain Girl Yarns single-ply ‘Sugar Plum’.


Mountain Girl Yarns 3-ply 'le Jardin'.

Mountain Girl Yarns 3-ply ‘le Jardin’.

Knit Picks Wool of the Andes 'Hollyberry'.

Knit Picks Wool of the Andes ‘Hollyberry’.





I finished writing a knitting pattern over the weekend for hand warmers.  Hand warmers inspired by the strong-willed, intelligent, tidy protagonist Flora Poste from the humorous book Cold Comfort Farm.  The pattern calls for Mountain Girl Yarns–any of her sock weight skeins–held doubled.  I knit myself a pair in the colorway ‘le Jardin’ & I have been wearing them everywhere.  With the dry winter air invading our prairie home now, simple hand warmers are almost a necessity to keep the knuckles from cracking.

Flora’s Tidy Hand Warmers are reversible, warm, & stylish. A slight ruffle at the top and deep ribbing throughout the hand, I think Flora would approve. I envision her sporting a pair on one of her solitary nature walks around the Farm or whilst sitting in her “little green parlour” beside the fire, sipping afternoon tea. The pattern suits my own tidy tastes as well due to the short, no-fuss cuff.  I often find fingerless mitt patterns much too lengthy in the cuff, bunching & catching in my winter jacket sleeves. If you knit the pattern as written, the hand warmers should never bunch or get stuck in the Velcro on your ski jacket cuffs. On most womens’ hands they fall just beyond the knuckles. If you have larger hands, there are size modifications included under the section Musings in the pattern.

If you would like to purchase my pattern as a downloadable PDF, you can find it here in my Etsy shop or here in my Ravelry shop.  Use the coupon code FLORA at both shopping venues for $1.50 off the pattern price now through Sunday, November 16th.  *Note: I don’t think my Ravelry store is working properly, but I know the Etsy pattern sale link works–same price & discount.

I would like to give away one pattern sample in hopes of sharing Flora’s sensible taste with others and also to give the lucky someone the chance to behold the exquisiteness of Camilla’s Mountain Girl Yarns knit up.  For your chance to win either the Mountain Girl Yarns ‘Sugar Plum’ sample hand warmers OR the Knit Picks ‘Hollyberry’ sample (knit with the longer cuff), leave one comment on this post.  Comments will close & a winner will be randomly selected on Monday, November 17th.  The winner will be notified via email & announced within this post–so please don’t comment ‘Anonymous’ if you’d like to win.  Winner will choose one of the two samples (Sugar Plum or Hollyberry, both are perfect for the holidays!) to be mailed to her/him by me.  U.S. & Canadian mailing addresses only, please.

I hope those of you who were inspired to read the novel Cold Comfort Farm by my last Yarn Along post have found Stella Gibbons’ humorous little novel entertaining!

Joining in with Ginny!

And the winner of the Flora’s Tidy Hand Warmers Sample Giveaway is…..Bernice Fischels!!!!

(I used RANDOM.org to determine the winner.)

Thank you to all the lovely knitters & non-knitters alike who left a comment and/or purchased my new pattern. The enthusiasm has been much appreciated! I’ll be in touch with the winner via email tonight!

These Trees


These Trees

Are my bulwark against the black as it creeps across the ridge.
Standing solid in the wind of many storms.
Their skyward tops once cut like blades of grass, but still the maples stood.
And now These Trees reach higher than before, pushing beyond the cut.

As I lope along at my chores, quickly before the dark completely drops,
These Trees exist ready, in the back of my thoughts, a safeguard.
Nature’s sentinels
These black lines, These Trees, are the last to disappear
Into the night.
As long as I can see These Trees,
I can linger for a moment more.


Happy weekend ahead, friends.

Cold Comfort {yarn along}




Since the weekend commenced, I have begun, half-finished, almost-finished, & even finished nearly a half-dozen projects & every single one is now wound up back as it were before the weekend…so I decided to read a book Sunday night. One of my favorite films of all time is ‘Cold Comfort Farm‘ starring Kate Beckinsale when she was like 22 or 24 or something.  I’ve probably watched it an unhealthy number in my lifetime.  I picked up the book ‘Cold Comfort Farm’ from the library as I have never read it & I seem to really enjoy checking out books & then not reading them…let’s just say Stella Gibbbons’ book WILL be finished & soon. I have been laughing with every page read. I was also inspired to finally, actually, knit something & not frog it. I call them Flora Poste’s Mitts, but I may change the name when I make it to a final pattern. This is version 1.0 modeled by Coralee in some fading light with my phone camera. I used some Merino wool/silk & they are delicate & stylish & warm & also reversible.  The reversible part I especially adore.  Absolutely a tidy object, one that I think Flora would choose to wear. I am excited to finish this pattern & knit some for my shop.

“…on the whole I thought I liked having everything very tidy and calm and round me, and not being bothered to do things, and laughing at the kind of joke other people didn’t think at all funny, and going for country walks, and not being asked to express opinions about things (like love, and isn’t so-and-so peculiar?).”

Flora Poste.  In the context of the story this is hilarious.  I swear this book is truly a FUNNY book in the genius sense.

Have you read any of Stella Gibbons’ books?

Joining in with Ginny.

The Girl Who Saved Halloween & a Recipe







Picking up where my last post left off, June missed Halloween this year due to her croup. She wasn’t too upset because she was just too busy feeling awful. Her fevers have abated, thankfully, & now just her cough, her horrible cough, remains.

Friday–Halloween–was pure crazy around here at the Bodeker homestead. I had my daycare baby, unexpectedly, and it was an early out from public school for Merritt. I really did not know how I was going to make a nice Halloween for my kids, like I try to do each year, with the sickness & the busy day…in steps Coralee to the rescue! I set up the GIANT pumpkin, all 40+ pounds of it, in the dining room for her, with the lid cut out, & she went to it. She is ANAL about pumpkin carving, my goodness.  That pumpkin was CLEAN.  She also took it upon herself to decorate the house with her own artwork, something June loved. She kept the house picked up most of the afternoon, too, after spending all morning on schoolwork. Such a doll!  Brian took the older kids trick-or-treating for over an hour in the evening while June & I watched ‘Puss in Boots’ on DVD.

I am so thankful for how everything went last Friday & very grateful for all your well-wishes for June.  The good vibes have spurred me to share a recipe link with you. It is for Salted Caramel Date Loaf from my favorite cooking/baking blog on the planet, Not Without Salt. Most of my new recipes nowadays originate from Ashley’s blog. Everything I have made from her has been spectacular. The only changes I made to my Loaf recipe was I used chopped raisins (not dates), I put the raisins into the caramel reduction first before the water, and I baked it in a deep, round casserole dish so it was a cake & not a loaf. And as Ashley indicates in the recipe, it was better the next day. That would be today. I tried so hard to get a lovely photo, in focus, but I was too eager to get a forkful in my mouth before naptime ended & thus the photo turned out a little blurry. But it was so oh oh so good. Salty. Super moist. A bit bitter. Caramel undertones. Gooey. Just yum. No one in the house but me seems to really like it…which isn’t exactly making me upset. xx