Saturday, April 11, 2015

A spell of smalls

(Green grass and dirty sheep!)
Well, yes, I've actually made it back to this little neglected space. It seems as though my current life revolves around doctor appointments, blood work appointments and physical therapy sessions, so there's not so much interesting blog fodder these days, but I'm hopeful that the day will come when I can call myself a full time shepherd again, instead of a rather passive observer of my husband doing my work.

As promised, I do have a few small knitting projects to show. I had a spell of hat knitting before I went in for surgery and it would appear that my box of finished smalls is well stocked. My "finished smalls" consists of a large box full of hats, scarves, cowls, mittens and mitts that can be offered for sale, if I'm doing a fiber festival or opened for the perusal of children and grandchildren, so they may choose something they would be willing to wear. I've discovered this is the best way to insure that what I gift to my grandkids is actually liked and worn, rather than conveniently lost or stuffed in the back of their sock drawers! I consider this a double win for me because I love knitting smalls and don't feel the necessity for having a recipient in mind when I feel the urge to knit yet another hat!

Now that I'm looking at this picture, I believe that none of these hats have had a bath and a little blocking. That would certainly smooth things out a little, but I like all of them, nonetheless. Starting at the top is the Audrey hat that was part of Karen Templer's (Fringe Association) Hatalong #1. (She's planning a second Hatalong to start this week.) I used some of the Shalasdair Naturally yarn that I brought back from the Isle of Skye, Scotland last September. It's a nice, sturdy kind of yarn that will hold up well. The pattern is fun, with just enough going on to keep it from being boring. The black marled hat (Imperial Yarn Anna) can also be credited to  Karen's influence. It's the Stadium hat and it's a free pattern on her blog. I love this thick, 70% Columbia wool, 30% American cotton yarn. It has a bit of a rustic look that suits me. The multi-striped hat is from a bag of bits and pieces of handspun, naturally dyed yarn that I bought somewhere last fall (maybe Rhinebeck? - wish I could remember). I loved the colors, especially that weird pea green, and wanted to use all the colors to make something I would enjoy wearing. This was strictly and grab and knit project, no planning which colors should be used in which order. I used the same basic pattern as the Stadium hat and it worked out fine. The last hat is a little of my own Tanglewood Farm wool/alpaca blend yarn from 2 years ago, with a tiny bit of my own handspun used as the edging. I used Ann Budd's The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns to come up with the simple hat pattern.

I confess to having several (many!) other projects still on the needles. My Hitchhiker is languishing in time out right now because I made the mistake of knitting on it at times during my hospital stay when I felt unwell. Now, I have some sort of weird mental association with feeling poorly and knitting on Hitchhiker and every time I pick it up to knit on it, I get a bad feeling! I'll just have to wait a little while till that wears off. I did knit the Nordic Wind shawl, after reading about it on the Woolful blog and their Ravelry page for the KAL. I missed getting the small batch farm lopi that was part of the KAL kit, but bought the pattern and used some unspun Icelandic I already had that came from Schoolhouse Press (I think I should get extra credit for using stash!). This shawl was a fast knit and the unspun Icelandic is enjoyable and interesting to handle. If you tug the tiniest bit too much, it drifts apart, but spit splicing was made for this stuff and it takes only an instant to be knitting on your way again with rejoined fiber. The nature of Icelandic wool is warm and insulating, yet the finished shawl is light as a feather (mine weighs 4 1/8 ounces). A quick wash and light blocking softened the wool into something I know I'll be wearing for years to come. .

Next time, I'll have a few finished sewing projects. I seem to have an overwhelming urge to sew right now. I've had great fun picking patterns and fabric, which is at least half the fun, right?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Still here

(The Purple Martins have just arrived, so spring is truly here!)
Well, it's been "interesting" (interesting in that way one tries to describe something difficult to describe).  When last I posted, I was psyching myself up for knee surgery and keeping busy with my to-do lists and the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. (I know I'm not the only woman who feels compelled to do a bit of cleaning and organizing before surgery or going on a long trip, just in case something should go awry.) I worked diligently on my list until the last few weeks before and then lost my motivation. The sheep shearer came two days before my surgery and suddenly I had a big stack of fleeces (on top of the ones from last year that had still not been processed!) and I was completely overwhelmed.

 The surgery went very well and according to the doctors and physical therapists, I was the poster child for making outstanding progress. On the fourth day after surgery, I was transferred to a rehab facility to begin intensive physical therapy and that's when things got more complicated. I was only there one day when I woke up with a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in my lung) and another clot in my leg. Within minutes after I mentioned to the nurse that I was having some difficulty breathing, I was in an ambulance being rushed back to the hospital. Honestly, I did not know how serious things were until days later. I spent two days immobilized while I was pumped full of Heparin and then Coumadin (blood thinning medications). I finally got to come home after ten days of being hospitalized for a surgery that some folks come home from after only one day. Obviously, that was not how I planned for it to go!

(Some of my beautiful flowers)

There were some bright spots. I loved the nurses and staff at St. Joseph East Hospital. They were so sweet and kind to me and so considerate of not just my physical well-being, but also my emotional state. I truly felt they went above and beyond to help me be as comfortable as possible. Secondly, thanks to loving and caring family and friends, I was surrounded with flowers that caused everyone who came into my room to comment on how lovely they were and how cheerful they made the room feel. Mike brought freshly cut daffodils from home every day, so I would not miss out on spring blossoming at the farm. Friends came to visit, bringing special treats and spending time knitting and talking. Other friends sent cards, texts and emails to let me know they were thinking of me. I feel as though I learned some valuable lessons on how true friends show their love and concern. You have no idea how much the smallest gesture means until you are on the receiving end. I feel truly blessed to have people in my life who are willing to show they care about me.

(The view I wake up to at home)
I've never been so happy to be at home and in my own bed. When Mike drove me home from the hospital, the first thing we did was drive right by the house and up to the barn, so I could see all of the girls! I'm not allowed to be in the field with the sheep quite yet, but I visit with them at the gate every day. Now that they are all shorn, the little girls look almost grown up. They still run up to me (the main reason I'm not allowed inside the gate!), but if I see them out grazing in the field, it is more difficult to tell them apart from the adults. I know I made the right decision to not have any lambs born this year, but I really miss them and hope to be able to have at least a few next year.

(Miss Midgie and the Littles playing conquer the mineral feeder!)
I hope to get back to this space much more often now. I've been knitting and before the hospital, I managed to sew a little. I have big plans to use this time of restricted activity to sew and knit without feeling guilty that I should be cleaning out the barn or turning over garden beds or working on the multitude of the physically strenuous jobs that are waiting on me. They will just have to wait.

Spring is arriving in Kentucky by fits and starts. We've had some days in the 70's already, but it's going to be cold for Easter - fairly typical weather around here. I'm enjoying watching the grass turn a little greener every day and waiting for the forsythia bushes by the barn to bloom. Our Purple Martin familes have returned and will be building their nests soon. There is evidence of life being renewed all around us.

I want to say thank you to all who have not forgotten my little blog, even though I've been very neglectful as of late. I'll be back early next week with some knitting and sewing to show.