Side Quest: Catch the Buzz

If you play video games, a la Legend of Zelda, you may know that sometimes a little side quest becomes one of your favorite things. Not the original intent of your journey, but something amazing you did along the way. I recently recounted Joshua and I’s spring break trip. The goal was simple, spend quality time with family and friends back home.

At Judge and Crystal’s house, part of that time meant a mini-road trip to pick up a very special package. And so our very own side quest was born. We started off with a fortifying breakfast at an amazing local restaurant and headed down the mountain. After about an hour, we arrived at our destination: Brushy Mountain Bee Farm.

That’s right. Bee farm. Crystal (my sister-in-law) ordered bees for her birthday a few months ago and they had finally arrived. We drove down to pick them up and I had a blast poking around the farm store and grounds while Crystal and Judge conducted actual business.

The store was fantastic and had a lot of educational material, too. I purchased a praline scented beeswax candle, mostly because it’s the best smell I’ve ever experienced. Eventually we made it outside to pick up the actual bees.

 

Nothing quite like riding an hour and a half home with 10,000 bees in the car. Anytime the car went around a tight curve, the buzzing got more intense! We headed straight home and got started on moving the bees into their new home. I played photojournalist, so I thought you might check out the process.

Please note, this blog post is anecdotal and my recounting of my own observations. For information on beekeeping, do what Judge and Crystal did–contact your local extension office. In their area, they have a bee-meeting on the first Tuesday of the month. Check it out!

Judge walked me through the hive construction:

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The sections with the frames are called supers – this is where the bees live.

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Judge and Crystal built the frames and installed the foundation, made of wax – the bees will build the honeycomb onto these foundations.

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The top section is the feeder – the bees can crawl up under the mesh and eat sugar water poured into the sides. They need to be fed since they have no honey stores and foraging isn’t quite in full swing.

After that, Crystal set to work moving the bees from their box to their new hive. The first  step was to remove a couple of the frames to provide the bees a space to enter en masse. Next, she opened up the box, removed the queen and installed her, and removed the travel feeder.

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After that, Crystal gave the bees a good thunk to loosen the big clump they were in and  quickly dumped them into the hive. This was probably my favorite part to watch.

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Once most of the bees were in the hive, she tilted the box up near the entrance. The bees can find their way to the other bees by pheromones. Before sealing the box back up, Crystal had to very gently reinsert the foundations.

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With that, she used a bee-brush to move any stragglers out of harm’s way before adding the feeder, feeding them, and closing up the hive.

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Once the hive was closed, we cleaned up and left the bees alone. For the past few days, they have been foraging, starting to turn the hive into a home, and working to free the queen.

Bees are so fascinating. Their hive structure and how they function as a group is really interesting, I learned a lot from Crystal. This was such a fun experience, I’m really grateful to them that they let us be a part of it. Over the rest of our time at Judge and Crystal’s, everyone wanted to visit the bees over and over. I think Crystal even had coffee up there with them.

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Bees are makers of the highest order and Crystal’s bees are hard at work. I can’t wait to visit again in a few months and see how they’re doing.

Spring Break

This past weekend, Joshua and I took a road trip back home to visit with our family for his spring break. Very little actual knitting occurred, but that’s ok. We had the loveliest long weekend. Fair warning, lots of gushing and fun pictures ahead.

Kevin and Astra were going to visit some of their family, so the plan was to leave as soon as we dropped them off at the airport. Before heading out, there was coffee and selfies–Joshua had to show that he’s taller than me.

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We got out the door by 4:30 a.m., dropped Kevin and Astra off at the airport and headed straight to my mom’s.

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We picked her up and whisked her away to my brother’s house. The day before, Mom had texted me asking if I could teach her to knit socks and if so, did I have any yarn. Well, we all know that I have some yarn, so I set out to make her a sock knitting kit.

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All the things needed to knit a pair of socks. If you’re curious, she wound up knitting with the HiyaHiya’s–a woman after my own heart. She’s already a knitter, so we were really learning sock construction and knitting magic loop.

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She’s now done with the ribbing, and after much discussion will be proceeding to knit a sock tube. The plan is that when I’m down for Joshua’s birthday in May, we’ll learn about cutting in a heel.

I did a wee bit of sock knitting, by the fire:

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Late at night, with Hendrix the kitty:

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And even on a mini road trip we took, more on that here:

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All in all, I managed to just knit the heel and gusset over the course of the trip:

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I’ll be honest, some mornings, the most fulfilling thing to do was wake up early for a fireside cup of coffee in my pj’s and a little chat with Judge and Crystal:

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Joshua spent a fair bit of his time learning and practicing guitar with Uncle Judge:

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Seeing that just squeezes my little heart. I found a bit of my own inspiration, in the form of seedlings:

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Judge and Crystal’s tomatoes sprouted while we were there. On our first night, this little hexie landscape was bare dirt and a few days later… plants! After a lot of brainstorming with Crystal, looking in their gardening books, and encouragement from Judge, I’ve decided to try a back porch herb garden once again. Maybe with some lettuce. And tomatoes…

We’re back home now, and I’m just teeming with ideas. As spring is springing, I’m thinking about my potential herb garden, canning, fermenting, and general “putting up.” Not to mention itching to get back to my knitting and cast on a new sweater.

All in all it was a wonderful trip. Other things of note included an impromptu Easter party and egg hunt and I even snuck out to Johnson City to see my best friends! Joshua and I had a great time on the drive there and back again, and it filled my heart to get to visit with friends and family. Joshua even brought a (borrowed) souvenir home for a bit more practice.

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Happy making {music}!

 

Year of Making: 2017.

On the first day of this year, I decided to commit to one small thing: “put energy into a making project every day.”

At first, that meant a conscious decision to sit down with a project every day. Sometimes it meant sleepily knitting a few rows before bed so that I would keep my commitment. As I went on, it became easier and easier. As I got more in the habit of doing something everyday, I found myself reaching for my projects more and more.

I’ve kept track of what I’ve worked on in a spreadsheet. I’ve been more than a little curious to see how the numbers would shake out. It’s no surprise that I spent 342 of the last 365 days knitting. I tend to reach for my knitting more than anything else. On 266 of those days, I worked on socks. I love knitting socks so it’s not much of a surprise that three quarters of my knitting days involved socks.

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I finished my box of socks a few months ago, but that didn’t stop me from continuing on. I’ve finished five more pairs of socks for myself since then. I love the look of them all laid out. This last pair was knit on Christmas vacation, so it hasn’t made it home to meet it’s new sock drawer mates.

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When I wasn’t knitting on socks, I knit up shawls, hats, mitts, and even a tiny owl for my mom. I’ve spent a significant bit of time cross stitching, quilting and sewing. There were even a few days of canning, fermenting, and crochet thrown in. Looking back it feels like a productive year:

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There is something about looking at a year’s worth of creating, thinking about how my hands knit every stitch, cut all the fabric, pitted every cherry. More than just the products of my hands though, my makes all feel like teeny time capsules, moments of my life molded into something tangible. Knitting socks at the beach with my family, figuring out how to sew my very first garment, picking cherries with Joshua.

Writing about everything has really crystallized that notion that there is a story in each of my makes. I love thinking about that and having the blog to look back at all of it.

Now that my year of making is coming to a close, I don’t believe I’m finished with it. I’m not sure that I will keep track of things daily like I have been, but that idea of putting “energy into a making project every day” still rings true for me. It’s exciting to think about a future full of years of making.

At any rate, I’ll be right here tomorrow, the first day of the new year, spending a bit of my day creating something.


Happy making!

Handmade Holiday

Happy holidays! I was a busy little bee over the last month or so, and now I can finally talk about what I’ve been up to!

I’ll try not to drone on and on, but you can always find more info about my knits on their respective project pages on Ravelry.

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My first holiday finish this year is a super squishy cowl for my mom. It’s the Fingering Brioche Bandana Cowl by Lavanya Patricella. I knit it out of two skeins of Barenwolle BAERfoot sock in the Pixie and Plum Tart colorways. I really love how it came out.

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Next up on the list is a shawl for my sweet sister-in-law, Crystal. The pattern is the Yowza Weigh It Shawl 3 by Susan B. Anderson. I knit this out of Miss Babs Yowza, in the Don’t Be Crabby colorway–the 2016 Maryland Sheep and Wool festival colorway. I’ve knit two of these for gifts so far and really have got to get around to making one for myself! It’s a great, simple and cozy shawl.

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After knitting a cozy hug for my mom, I really wanted to make something cozy for Kevin’s mom as well. Enter the Bandana Cowl by Purl Soho. I found a great chunky, ultra soft yarn in her colors and I was off. The yarn is Plymouth Yarn Baby Alpaca Grande Hand Dye in color 28. This cowl is so squishy!

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I started this pair of quilts for Noah and Madelyn first, but finished them a little late in the game. There are full details in a blog post all about these two. I love how they came out and now I’m itching to finish the three lap quilts of mine sitting in my craft room.

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The very last make of the season is a pair of socks for my brother, Judge. These are my very first colorwork–they certainly won’t be my last–and I think they came out pretty smashing. No pattern, just my regular sock recipe. The yarn is Patons Kroy in the Flax and Muslin colorways.

I’ve been settled into a lovely and lazy holiday vacation for quite a few days now. There has been great food, exchanging gifts, and best of all, lots of time for spending with family. We still have a few days to go and I’m happy to report that my Christmas vacation socks are humming right on, even in the snow.

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Happy making and happy holidays!

Home.

When we spoke last, I was about to head home from Denver to my sweet family for a trip south to see more sweet family. And that is exactly what I did.

Kevin and the kids picked me up from the airport and I came home and unpacked and repacked my suitcase. We got up the next morning and headed out. On the way, during Kevin’s driving turn, I worked on my hat.

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We met up with Kevin’s parents at a sweet little house on Watauga Lake in Tennessee. It was so much fun! We cooked and ate and fished and talked and Kevin’s amazing parents even invited my family to come hang out with us. It was wonderful.

Every morning and every night, I did a bunch of knitting. My very first order of business was to finish that hat, which is what I did on our first night of the trip.

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This is the Bray Cap by Jared Flood, knit out of Malabrigo Rios in the Pearl colorway. I love everything about this knit. The yarn is perfect, it knits like a dream and the color is everything. I want a sweater in this grey. The pattern is a whole other story. It’s so pretty and stunning, and such a pleasure to knit! I’m digging wearing either way, slouchy or folded up beanie style.

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This hat was one of my proposed wardrobe additions, from my wardrobe architect mini-project. I really wanted a nicer, neutral hat that would be appropriate for work. I’m happy to say that I’ve already rocked it on a few cold mornings to the office.

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Once the hat was done, I had nothing else with me to knit but my Christmas socks.

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I have, so far, thoroughly enjoyed knitting on the 9″ circulars. I’ve finished the first sock and I might be sold. I was skeptical about the heel, but it works like nothing doing. My only thing is that you have to switch back to DPNs or magic loop for the toe decreases, but I think it might be worth it. Final verdict to come.

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Mmm, that Christmas sock is just precious.

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I’ve started the second one, but I’m deep into holiday preparations so I’ve mostly been doing things I can’t show. I’ve got an itch to get to a few other projects, including my marled magic… I think it’s been quite a while since I’ve shown it–I finished section 7:

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And then nearly immediately picked up and knit section 8.

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It’s so squishy. My goodness, so squishy. With that, the shawl is nearly done! It’s definitely to the doesn’t-fit-on-needles-and-very-hard-to-photograph stage, but Cosi likes it just fine.

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I now have only to bind the thing off. I’m going to do that this weekend, come hell or high water. I’ve picked out a few pastel-y soft skeins for the bind off and I’m ready to go:

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I really want to knit all of the things. Sew everything, too! I’ve been feeling inspired lately, I have a lot of ideas for new projects.

All in all, it’s been a great week. Visiting all of our family warmed my heart and soothed my soul, and now I get to be home with my little pack of sweethearts.

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Happy holiday season, from my darlings to you and yours.


YoM day 326: Hat knitting – finished Bray Cap!

YoM day 327-334: Sock knitting plus secrets


Happy making!

Life and socks.

I keep thinking, I should write a blog post soon. And then something else happens and I just don’t write. It’s been nice to take a bit of a break, I’ve been a trifle inactive on social media as well. But I do miss writing and sharing. This blog has really helped me coalesce my thoughts and intentions through the simple act of writing things down. I like that.

All that has been happening has been lovely. Since we last spoke, we’ve done some celebrating with my family, had a weekend trip with some friends, and had my favorite newly engaged couple up to visit. Today, let’s look back in pictures and in socks, and I’ll resume regular posts soon. Probably.

While visiting my family we had cake for my birthday:

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They put all 34 candles on it.

I got to visit with my two best friends in the whole wide world for a few precious hours. We were so taken up with each other that we didn’t get a picture together!

We left from my hometown to take a trip with one of the aforementioned besties and another mutual friend. And all of our families. 6 grown-ups and 6 kids stuffed our cabin full, but it was so nice to spend time with everyone. One night, the kids and dads made supper so I stole a few moments of knitting on the back porch.

 

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Second sock with a view.

On our last day, we took all the kids to an adventure park. It was a fantastic idea! Kids had fun and we loved watching them.

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photo courtesy J Gouge Photography – jeremygouge.com

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photo courtesy J Gouge Photography – jeremygouge.com

 

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photo courtesy J Gouge Photography – jeremygouge.com

If you’re noticing a trend, the photo courtesy J Gouge Photography – jeremygouge.com part, well we were lucky enough that one of our six adults is an excellent photographer!

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Our whole group! photo courtesy J Gouge Photography – jeremygouge.com

After we made it home, I managed to finish up my second pair of birthday socks which also happened to be my vacation socks. They are pair 12 for the year! My Box O’ Sox is finished, but we can talk more about that on another day.

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Peepaloo Fields on Sensible Sock in the Sprinkle Colorway

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I cast on another pair almost immediately. I can’t really stand not to have socks on the needles. This is Hedgehog Fibres, Twist Sock in the Down By the River colorway:

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When I got back to work after vacation, my favorite intern of all time had gone back home. She really is awesome and I hope to connect with her in the future. She left me the coolest birthday present:

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Etched mirror, her artistic interpretation of quasicrystals. Physics is cool!

That weekend, my brother, his fiancé, and her little brother came to visit. P.S. He proposed to her and our family couldn’t be happier. I’m ecstatic that we get to keep her. While they were here we went for a nice walk and picnic at the bay. We had a blast.

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Chesapeake Bay

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Impromptu D&D game while supper was cooking

On Monday, as you may have heard, there was an eclipse. We only got 82% coverage here in Maryland, but we celebrated in style.

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Beyond that, I have continued to work on the secret projects. I’m almost done with them! I’ve kept my sanity by continuing to work on socks and the first one is coming along nicely.

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I think that’s it for the last couple of weeks. I’m getting excited to be done with the secret stuff and move on to new things. I feel a bout of startitis coming on–my Ravelry queue is teaming with ideas and my sewing room is bursting with potential!


YoM day 221-236: Sock knitting and secrets!


Happy making!