works-in-progress wednesday: join me!

Hello!  Happy Wednesday!  I hope you’ll join me (aka keep me accountable!) in my new endeavor here-“works-in-progress wednesday”-as a replacement for Ginny’s Yarn Along which ended a couple weeks ago.  I think my knitting was greatly improved or at least furthered because of Ginny’s Wednesday link-up (many many thanks to her for all those years of Yarn Alongs!).  I could join a yarn along on another blog, but I feel a bit weird just jumping in somewhere else–like a yarn bully, ha!  So here I’ll stay & attempt to keep my own knitting & other projects going.  If you’d like to join me, please leave me either a link to your own blog in the comments or just a comment telling me what you’re up to this week & I promise to head over to your blog and/or reply to your comment. xx

I am currently knitting a pair of short trousers with suspenders (overalls-a Debbie Bliss pattern) for Harmon in (yes, again!) Quince & Co Chickadee, colorway Belize.  I’ve bought this color sooooo many times Quince might as well just change the name to Bodeker Blue. 😉 Coralee & I moved most of our seedlings outside onto the newly-spring-cleaned 3-season porch on Sunday (thank you, Brian, for helping me set up the porch!).  I love how the stems and underside of the leaves of our German Pink tomato seedlings have a hint of purple.  I cannot wait to eat a garden fresh tomato in a few months.

Coralee dug a few purple violets from the yard & potted them up for me.  Another big thanks to my eldest for always doing so much to make our house a home!

Harmon is looooving the porch.  Also this orange golf ball he found outside on Sunday.  He has slept with it every night & nap since Sunday.  Must be a good ball.

He’s very much into getting in & out of this kid-sized Adirondack chair my uncle Ron made for Coralee when she was a toddler.  He also is working on going in & out of the porch door to the house.  It’s one step, but it’s giving him trouble going back out–he tries to just walk right off it like a plank into the ocean.

Rubrubrubrub RUB the face.  We’re also deep deep deep in the midst of working with our pediatrician to figure out what on earth Harmon can eat & can’t eat.  Allergies, intolerances, auto immune disorders, weight loss, failure to thrive…this has been our life practically since birth & it continues…

I thought his issues were only food-related, but after spending several hours outside Sunday afternoon on the lawn (but around the cats & chickens & dogs & not up in the carrier), his arms and torso flared considerably & his nose & eyes became green-goo infested.  Poor hobbit, he cannot win it seems!  We are most definitely a work-in-progress.

(Above photo of Harmon taken during a brief, glorious few days of no allergy/intolerance-issues early last week!  He was so genial & happy!  All the work we’re doing to manage whatever it is he has going on is worth it, I know.) 

Hope you’ll join us here on a future works-in-progress wednesday sometime soon!


Yarn Along {baby balloon pants}

It’s almost Christmas & the Baby Balloon Pants are not done…I did not properly prepare myself to knit PANTS for a one-year-old on US size 2/3 needles…good grief there are a lot of stitches.  I’ve got about 30 rounds left on the left leg, plus the cuff, before I can even begin the right.  I so want Harmon to wear these white-pine-needles-colored pants for Christmas, but I’ve got a couple other items I need to finish for Christmas as well.  Oh, the dilemmas we knitters face this time of year!  Coralee needs to start picking varieties for the heritage garden she assists with every summer so that’s about the extent of my reading right now. 

As I was snapping the photo of my MC Hammer-esque pants yesterday, Coralee was conducting a ten minute FeederWatch survey in the same room & someone decided to join her!  It will only be too soon before he can actually see out the windows himself.  He has a pair of toy binoculars he knows to put up to his eyes.  Makes this birding mama very proud, I must admit, to see him do so.  I wonder how much he already knows?  I ask him often if he hears the birds or sees the birds as we look out the window…Joining in with Ginny!

Dill Bed Biologists

Merritt planted a dill bed in our garden about three years ago using Seed Savers Exchange Grandma Einck’s Dill seed & we’ve never had to replant since that summer. Dill is an annual herb, but it is very good at self-propagating! The kids have found Black Swallowtail caterpillars on the plants the last two summers–these caterpillars eat almost exclusively from the carrot family of plants. Finding the first Black Swallowtail caterpillar is a source of immense joy for all three of the older kids. Merritt completed his 4H project this year on the importance of pollinators & focused specifically on including pollinators in your garden plantings using dill, so it was quite important to the kids to be successful in their butterfly rearing this past month. The last of our Black Swallowtail butterflies flew away a few days ago & now the kids are patiently waiting for this first adult batch of the summer to lay their eggs so they can raise another brood. From our research it seems three broods per season in the Midwest is a good year for Black Swallowtails.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Coralee, Merritt, & even June all became scientists, but June does still occasionally tell us she also wants to fly planes.  Time will tell all too soon!


Dill bed.


Free range dill!


Black Swallowtail caterpillar–fourth instar (stage).


Black Swallowtails munching away on dill stalks…& defecating all over my porch!


June LOVES caterpillars, butterflies, moths, lightning bugs, dragonflies…she says she wants “people to know” she wants to help pollinators more than her brother. Merritt & June are the ultimate competitors for some reason.


Black Swallowtail in its chrysalis. The chysalis of the Black Swallowtail caterpillar/butterfly is so strangely shaped.


June doing her “research” . “See mom???”–is her constant refrain.


A Black Swallowtail emerges!


Two at once (female on left)! We took six caterpillars from the dill bed (leaving many behind), one died shortly thereafter, five went into the chrysalis stage, & four emerged.


Male, we think.


Merritt releasing one…they are much harder to handle than Monarch butterflies. Monarchs are fairly easy to handle, these Black Swallowtails are much more active & agitated–they want out ASAP!


Yarn Along {finished Pebble, seed savers, baby on the mend}

 I somehow managed to finish the Pebble Baby Vest I started last week in Quince & Co Lark (Honey colorway) despite Harmon’s severe cold.  I even got the vintage buttons sewed on Tuesday afternoon while Harmon napped passed out from his first set of immunizations earlier in the day.  Poor baby, he can’t catch a break this week; however, I’m happy to report he is on the mend today!  His cold symptoms are probably about 50% improved.  He just has to overcome all the drainage & coughing.  I really feel for parents who end up with a hospitalized newborn due to RSV.  Incredibly thankful we did not.

I finally finished Kingbird Highway & would like to post some of my favorite passages from the book, but that will have to happen next week. Coralee & I have been sorting out all our garden seeds from last summer, both those seeds we saved & those we just had left over, in order to place our annual order with Seed Savers (one of my favorite places to visit in Iowa).  We also use heirloom seeds as part of the work we do at the Richardson-Jakway Historic Site gardens (I serve on the site’s foundation board).  I’m excited for spring just looking at all our seed baggies & packets.

 Finished Pebble. 

Convalescing Harmon sleeping peacefully for a few hours Monday evening.

With Harmon on the mend I now need to turn my knitting attention/time to his baptismal outfit. I’m planning to use a special skein of Ginny yarn I snagged during her last Etsy stocking.  Speaking of…

Joining in with Ginny.

Bluebird Nestling Confirmation!

Merritt & I have determined the nestlings in our bluebird box are, indeed, Eastern Bluebirds! Yay! Last year in this box all five hatchlings were eaten by something & the nesting attempt unsuccessful (obviously). This year, one egg has not hatched yet &, being as it is about Day 13 or 14 post-hatching, that egg is a dud in my book.

This photo (below) is our confirmation of bluebirds–see the tinge of dark blue on the top of the wing near the nesting material?  This would be a sleeping male.  Close discernment of all the photographs I took this morning makes me believe we have 2 males & 2 females in the box.  It is normal to have more females than males in a bluebird brood.  An excellent resource can be found here to determine nestling ages & typical bluebird development.  We’re going to stop monitoring the box up close from here on out as we don’t want to cause an early fledging of the nestlings.  We’ll watch from the driveway.

My front flower beds have become a pollinator paradise this past week as most of my daisies, coneflowers, dill, etc have bloomed fully.  I love how dill just seems to appear wherever it wants after the first year of seed planting.  It really fills in the nooks & crannies of the gardens around here.  We plant Grandma Einck’s from Seed Savers.


IMG_4975[1]I have never had as many Red Admiral butterflies in my yard as I do this summer.  They appear to prefer the coreopsis we have planted behind the garage, but I spotted one among the purple coneflowers this morning.  I considered raising Red Admiral caterpillars with the kids–until I learned this species uses stinging nettle as a host plant.  We have an abundance of nettle in our yard (explains the abundance of Red Admirals!), but I’m not going near it no matter how stunning the butterfly.  June fell into a bunch of nettle the summer she was two, face first, & looked pretty nasty for a week+.

Any baby birds taking up residence in your yard this year?

Yarn Along {Porch Ponderings}

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Spent the entire morning yesterday on the back porch.  It was so cold in the house it was making me tired.  I sat in a chair directly in the sun & let her rays do their thing for about ten minutes.  What a pick-me-up!  I knit for a bit while the girls were inside eating breakfast.  Heard the Chickadees in the woods & a very, very loud woodpecker having a go at a tree.  The boxelders were pinging against the porch floor & screens every few minutes, losing their minds in the late October sunshine.

Our porch has been made ready for winter.  Wood stack in place, summer trappings in hibernation…the garden cleaned out, fall crop of Bibb lettuce nearly ready for harvest…but Autumn seems to have tightened her grip & made a power play…yesterday’s weather was just awesome.

I’ve frogged so many projects lately it’s a bit worrying…I can’t seem to commit….much like this Autumn weather, it’s here, it’s on the way out, it’s here again…currently I’m knitting a knit lovey with Camilla’s fiber thanks to Ginny’s post last week.  Hoping the project works out & it can become my go-to baby toy pattern for Christmas/shower gifts.

Planning to re-read Stephen Crane’s “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky” today in order to aid Coralee with her Lit homework.  I think the last time I read it was in 11th grade.  That’s a lot of Autumns ago.

Joining in with Ginny.

Yarn Along {Oops, I Knit it Again}




Sanders Pumpkin Farm, 40th & final year--2014

Sanders Pumpkin Farm, 40th & final year–2014

This past week has been spent knitting my nephew (~8 months) two hats that didn’t fit, in two different styles…frustration. So I went back to the good old Wurm pattern which I’ve literally knit like 50 times. Oh, well, it’s a classic. And I swear this third cap WILL fit. My nephew is a very very very intelligent baby…read between the lines here, folks–love you, Aunt Ellie! June was kind enough to model as she apparently has the same size head as her cousin. I used Knit Picks Gloss DK for the double-knit brim–amazingly soft stuff, an excellent substitute for Debbie Bliss Cashmerino, but with a prettier sheen. Repeated the colors pumpkin, grey-brown, and the ‘Doe’ Gloss DK in the main body. Used some label-less yarn for the other two colors, not as soft, but still wool.

We went to Sanders Pumpkin Farm last Friday on a homeschool field trip (Merritt had no school in the afternoon & was thrilled to tag along). This is the farm’s last year for pumpkins–40 years!!! Quite a milestone. We will miss the annual visit, but this will hopefully spur me to get better at growing pumpkins. We only got two this year. About 30 gourd-pumpkin hybrids (accidentally) & about 30 Butternuts. Gardening is totally a crapshoot for me, but I soak in the mistakes & my garden improves the following season as a result.

No reading this week. But I acquired more books. I may have a problem.

Joining in with Ginny.