That’s because I’ve moved! Come check out my recent posts on my knitting blog, The Connected Knitter.
Lots has happened for my little family since the last time I posted.
The biggest change is that I finally found a way to buy a little house of my own and we moved in December. We miss our little Mississippi Ave. North Portland bungalow, but it was pretty tiny and now all the kids have their own room and we’ve got lots of room to spread out.
You can see we’ve got our work cut out for us, but it’s already looking much better (this is the listing photo) and we’re excited about the possibilities. We got a great deal due to the unkempt condition of the house (all cosmetic) and the barely-up-and-coming neighborhood. The good news is that we’re having fun with lots of projects and all Portland neighborhoods are improving, so it won’t be long before this is a sweet little spot.
Here’s a more recent photo, after several days out in the yard.
Now that spring is upon us, the garden is taking most of our attention. (I keep using the plural pronoun because I usually make the teenagers help me with all the work, though they don’t quite have the same sense of ownership that I do.)
I had a garden planner come out and take a look at the property and help me decide what I should do where.
It was the best $200 I’ve ever spent. (If you’re looking for help with homestead planning and you’re in Portland, call Renee at Hip Chick Digs.) I can’t wait to put this plan into action. We’ve started with some of it, but it’s a lot of work, so we’ll definitely have to phase it all in.
The parts that we’re working on right away are the springtime veggies and some infrastructure. Some projects currently in the works . . .
The Back 40
This area is in the bottom right corner of our plan and it is a huge area that receives a good amount of sun. Renee suggested I use this area for crops that are too big for a raised bed. We’re thinking corn, squash and potatoes.
As you can see, this area was a disaster — lots of blackberries, leaves, trash and junk. I hired some help to clean it out so we could get it planted soon. Now it looks like this . . .
I’m super-excited about this. We should be able to plant within the next 2 weeks.
I built this little compost bin out of some pallets I found for free on Craigslist. (Can I just say that the free section on Craigslist is my favorite right now?) Renee uses a 3-bin system, and I may upgrade to that eventually (I have the space) but I’m starting with one bin and using the 2 extra pallets to cover in front and on top.
I still have a little repair work to do on that back bed and I’m hoping to get to that today. The other two beds (one of them isn’t visible in this photo) have been weeded and we even planted peas in one of them (Alice built the cute little trellis). Tomatoes will also go in this bed. I’m hoping to get 8 tomato plants in this bed and because the peas will be just about done around the time the tomatoes really need to go in, I should be able to do it. Leeks, broccoli and cauliflower will go in the other beds.
I feel so satisfied that this little project is working so nicely! (It isn’t actually finished in this photo. I’ll post a finished photo later today.) I found some good instructions in this YouTube video. I did it almost exactly like the guy in the video made his, though I got a fancier faucet connector from Home Depot. The whole project was pretty cheap and easy! Here’s the list of supplies I used.
- 55 gallon drum — free from car wash
- Watts Neowasher 3/4″ #HPL-1872 — $14
- 3/4″ brass hose bibb — $5
- cinder blocks (3) — $3
- gutter redirector thingie — on hand
- screen — $3
- Total: $25
I probably could have done it for less, but I wanted to make sure it worked out, so I felt fine spending the money.
I’ve spent a ton of time researching the best way to have chickens on this property.
Originally, I thought I would carve out a section of the shed and have their run be on the left side of this photo.
But, I’m currently thinking that I want to keep the shed intact. There’s a lot of space on that side — plenty for both a henhouse and a chicken run. Now I’m just trying to find a cheap way to get it all set up over there. Once again, the free section of Craigslist is my best friend. I’m hoping to get this figured out before we head back to school next week (gotta love spring break!)
There are lots of other little things that need our attention, and we’re getting to them bit by bit.
- Other planting (Blueberries and hydrangea are already in the ground. Hoping to get some huckleberry out there, too.)
- Pressure washing porch, patio, shed, driveway
- Building driveway beds
- Cleaning gutters
- Painting the house (getting an estimate today)
- Replace ugly chain link fencing
So, as you can imagine, knitting has been taking a backseat! I’ve still got some projects on the needles and knit away at them a little bit everyday, but progress is slow.
My other big interest of the moment is my bullet journal. I’ll put together a post about that soon.
I hope you’re all happily knitting while my life flies by without me.
I have some amazing and interesting things coming together and it’s really taking all of my attention.
It’s all too new to really say anything about, but I will say that I am loving exploring how my personal and professional lives are converging. Truly wonderful things happening here at Chez LLM.
I suppose while I’ve got your attention I will tell you a little bit about what I’m knitting (during the 90 minutes per week I am finding the time!)
- Multnomah Shawl — I decided to cast on this lovely little shawl as my Camp Loopy entry. Go ahead, ask me if I’ve officially entered or have any hope of finishing by the June 30 deadline. I dare you.
- Cookie A Daenerys Socks (which I only spelled correctly because I copied and pasted.) I believe these socks are inspired by Game of Thrones, which I admit, I have never seen. Still, the socks are amazing to knit, though I couldn’t bring myself to use the INCREDIBLE Cephalopod yarn. How could I put that amazing color on my feet?! I satisfied myself by using a similar shade of Cascade.
- Vanilla Socks — Yes, do not despair — I am knitting a pair of vanilla socks. They’re my usual 3X1 rib and they’re knit out an amazing shade of Lorna’s Laces called “Zombie Barbecue.” What could be better?!
I would promise a more image-rich photo soon, but I know myself too well. Perhaps a blurred shot from my daily bus ride will make its way.
Until then . . .
We go back to school day after tomorrow.
Which means that tomorrow is a school night.
Which means that tonight is the last night of summer.
I have so much to prepare for but tonight I want to . . .
. . . sit on the front porch
. . . linger over dessert
. . . stay up too late
. . . listen to my children clean the kitchen without worrying about homework
. . . not worry about the dog barking on the back steps
. . . relax and know that my family is active, well, and happy.
Just a quick little post to share with you some of the knitting I’ve been doing lately.
I started a new project for my friend Amanda’s baby who will be born at the end of the month. Here’s a link to my Ravelry project page.
I’m loving how they’re turning out. I bought the yarn from a woman who attends the weekly knit night I started going to. Her business is called Blissful Knits and she has great, vibrant, modern colors. Super cute! I’m thinking of getting a couple more skeins for a hat for myself and another pair of longies for another baby being born soon.
I also finished the Alpaca Socks I was working on. Here they are in their already-worn, dog-hair-covered glory.
They are some of the most comfortable socks in my drawer. Love!
Yesterday I took the kids to a very Portland event called Wordstock. It’s the northwest’s largest book fair and author’s convention and because Alice is doing her 8th grade project on writing fiction, it was just perfect for us.
We sat in on a few conversations with different authors and got really inspired. The best one we sat in on was about the theme of dystopia and fantasy in novels. The authors referenced The Hunger Games several times and it was really inspiring to listen to their thoughts on the genre and the process of writing for it. Both Alice and Leo left with solid book ideas going and they just wanted to go home and write.
One of the authors was Lissa Price, the author of a book called Starters.
I started reading it last night and I’m already about a third of the way through. It’s a great read.
I left Wordstock feeling inspired to write, as well. There were a lot of great booths there with inspiring products, services and programs for authors. One of them, that I’d heard of before, is called NaNoWriMo. November is National Novel Writing Month and NaNoWriMo is a project that challenges writers to write 50,000 words during the month of November. That breaks down to 1667 words per day.
That’s a lot of writing.
I’m feeling somewhat inspired to take it on, though. Though I love the writing I do in my blogging, I would love to do some more creative writing. I’m still pondering the idea (because 50,000 words is a LOT) but whether I participate in the project or not, I’m going to try to give some more attention to creative writing.
To that end, I took some time today to get my iPad a bit more set up to use for writing and blogging. I suspected that I had not been using my iPad to the height of its functionality, but today, after spending some time researching various apps that are out there, I realized how true that is. I’m excited to do more work on my iPad now that its all set-up. Recently I’ve been feeling like I could really use a Mac Air but with my new and improved iPad, I think I can avoid that purchase for awhile. The one thing that I could still really use, though, is a proper keyboard. I occasionally bring my computer keyboard and use it with my iPad, but there is probably a better solution. Most of the time I stick with two finger typing on the iPad touch keyboard.
The other thing I took away from Wordstock is a desire to do a lot more fiction reading. I realize that this may take some of my knitting time, but I think it’ll be worth it. I’ve always been a creative person, but I’ve been feeling lately like my imagination could use a more regular infusion of content. Reading more is just the thing.
I’ll try to keep up my GoodReads up to date so you can all see what I’m currently reading.
That’s all for now. I’ve got more knitting content, as well, but I’ll save that for another post.
This morning I’ve been lazing about — paying bills, eating oatmeal, drinking coffee and taking a little bit of time to enjoy home. Lately it’s been feeling like the workweek blows through like a hurricane and we need these Saturday mornings to catch our collective breath after the storm has passed.
Though part of me has a strong desire to busily spend these Saturday mornings helping my house recover from the deluge, the other part realizes that the soul nourishment of downtime is so much more important. Let the mess sit for a little bit longer. No one will mind the broom handle, disheveled school bag and dirty floor cluttering the shot.
So I’ll sit in my comfy chair and read and knit a little bit longer. Saturday mornings are to be treasured.
Want to know some of the essential components of my Saturday morning?
Knitting Pipeline Podcast — Paula’s voice is so sweet and comforting. And her “nature notes” and poetry remind me to slow down and notice.
McCann’s Steel-Cut Irish Oatmeal — My sister started putting peanut butter in her boys’ oatmeal to give them a little boost of protein in the mornings. It has now become my favorite Saturday morning indulgence.
Bodum Brazil French Press — I am completely sold on french press coffee. Perfect!
It’s been a long time since I posted and a lot has happened in these few months. But we’re gradually raising our heads above the fray, finding our old rhythms and establishing new ones.
Our biggest news, of course, is that we’ve moved to Portland, Oregon. Though it’s taken awhile to find our niche, we’re settling in nicely and loving it. We found a lovely rental house in the southwest part of town that is expensive but came complete with a garden and plenty of craft storage space in the basement. It’s been beautiful, sunny and much warmer than I expected. Portland does rain for 9 months of the year but it is inland so it isn’t plagued by the summer coastal fog I’ve experienced for so much of my life. Sunny 80-90 degree days were the norm all summer. Just lovely.
I’m completely reveling in the fact that I live in an area where the growing season is longer than 3 months. The people who lived here before us were kind enough to plant a couple of tomato plants, which Alice picks her afternoon snack from everyday after school. We can hardly eat them quickly enough — and we’re a family of tomato lovers!
Even though we arrived late in the season (mid-July) I couldn’t resist putting a few things in the ground. The most successful of these are the sunflower seeds that I had hiding out in the bottom of my toolbox. They’re just lovely now and they provide a friendly greeting in the front yard everyday when we come home.
My knitting life has been on a long hiatus as I’ve been so busy preparing my new classroom and entertaining visiting friends and family. In all honesty, I was so nervous about starting my new job on the right foot that I didn’t really allow myself any knitting time. My new class has more students than I’ve ever had before, with a wide range of ability and a grade I’ve never taught before, so I felt that I just couldn’t spare the time to delve into a knitting project. The one exception was that I did complete a pair of socks — knit during times we watched the Olympics. I’ll share pics at some point.
Just this weekend, though, I had my first kid-free, plan-free weekend in months and I’m feeling quite on top of my classroom work, so I allowed myself to knit a bit. I started a new project and pulled out an old one.
This is a simple 6X2 ribbed sock made out of lovely Classic Elite Alpaca Sox yarn. I made my mother a pair of socks out of this yarn a couple years ago for Christmas and I just loved it. I bought this pretty variegated skein at a yarn store in Sacramento when I was there in February. I just love watching how the colors come together and it’s such a simple project I can feel content that while I’m knitting I’m thinking hard about schoolwork.
This is the Making Waves Cardigan that I started way back in June. I’m using Knit Picks Stroll Tonal in the Blue Violet colorway. Though I like the color, I am finding the endless stockinette to be a bit of a slog. But I suppose that is to be expected of a fingering weight adult sized sweater. I’m past the armhole division and am working away on inch 3 of 6 on the bottom half of the sweater.
I’m really wanting to finish my Making Waves Cardigan so I can make this. It is the Pomme de Pin Cardigan by Amy Christoffers. I just love that it has a comfy style with a lace pattern which makes it just special enough to wear for work. I think I will need to do some serious goal-setting for myself, though, if I hope to accomplish it.
That’s all for now. I am enjoying getting out and exploring Portland a bit. Today I plan to take the pooch out for a little hike. Completely justified, of course, by the fact that it is a possible field trip destination.
Oh, and guess what the other great thing about Portland is . . . FOOD! We have the most fantastic restaurants! I almost feel bad visiting one twice! Today I think I’ll pick up some Thai on my way home! Yum!
Spring has finally sprung here in my neck of the woods. We’ve even had a couple of days in the 70’s, which is warmer than average. We’re appreciating those warm days for the blessing that they are and we’re starting to slip into summer mode — breakfast with the sliding door open, bike rides and long walks with the pooch. So lovely.
Because we’re somewhat in limbo this year, I have not thought much about the garden yet. I think I will plant some starts when it’s time, but I’m not starting anything from seed. Though it is so encouraging to start to see the bulbs come up!
My knitting life these days is a combination of joy and frustration. I’ll start with the joy.
These are the Nanaimo socks — the most recent release from Cookie A’s 2012 Sock Club. I. Love. These. Socks. They are like therapy. Just a simple rotating knit-purl textured pattern that is a welcome break from the complicated socks I’ve been doing lately. My enthusiasm for these has caused me to put the Hibernia socks on the back burner for awhile. I’m sure I’ll get to them eventually, but I’m needing something a little more simple at the moment.
Now for the frustration.
This is my Stephen West Daybreak shawl. I do love how the bold colors are coming together. I do love the modern stripes. And perhaps “frustration” is too strong a word. “Tedious” is probably more what I’m looking for. This shawl is made up of miles and miles of stockinette and I’m finding myself just wishing it was done.
My irritation with this project is probably compounded by two things. 1 — I’m making the largest size because I wanted a nice big shawl. 2 — I underestimated the scope of this project. For some reason I thought I would be able to knock this project out in about a week. So here I am at two weeks feeling like I want it done. I’m pretty close — just about 16 rows to go, but they are pretty long rows. Soon.
I’m knitting this as part of two knit-alongs — one with Diane from the Knitabulls podcast and another with the Knitbytes podcast. It’s fun knitting along with people, sharing observations and seeing their projects. Oddly enough, mine is one of four orange and blue Daybreak shawls that I’ve seen in this knit-along!
That’s pretty much all for now. We’ve got just 8 weeks of school left so things are getting super-busy at the same time that they are winding down. I’m off to enjoy my usual Saturday morning tradition — coffee and knitting with Paula from the Knitting Pipeline podcast.