the hustle

i can’t believe it’s been a full week since i was here last. the boy called me yesterday wondering where i was and why i hadn’t been posting updates on the birds. hmm. good questions.

to start, let’s start at the beginning. easter? we stayed home and i cleaned and we ate food but nothing fancy and it was a real “scotts” kind of holiday celebrating in that my mama and step-dad don’t do holidays because they are hard working people and the best holiday is the uneventful one.

there were eggs of course and easter cookie house decorating.

and this past week, there was knitting (duh)

this is the fastest little sweater whipped up in a day! find the pattern here

remember the yarn i spun… here? i spun it into 3 color ways by plying the light and dark together, then the light by itself and the dark by itself. i really had no idea what to knit so i decided a circle would be it. good round midnight moon. it’s small having used size US 6 needles and measures only 24” in diameter, but i lalalalalove it. you can find the pattern i followed here. i didn’t do any sort of edging though, just a few rows in garter. ta-da!

and there was even a date night! we went out for first friday to see the wonderfully talented sweet heart that is maryanne who had some work in the primary colors exhibit. then we ran into all of our friends that we only see when we venture into the city for events such as this.

we even ran into hubbie’s carl and went out for drinks. we were really getting crazy. ha!

and there were early morning painting parties

a busy week, yes. but on top of all of this - i’ve been on a massive cleaning spree. each day i tackle one or more rooms. the downstairs bathroom, lovingly referred to as “the kid toilet” got a good scrub and painting. there were muddy dog scratches on the walls, kid doodling, scrapes and marks of all mysterious sorts and painting was the only suitable option. then, i emptied the kitchen and filled boxes of unnecessaries, cleaned, and rearranged. a marvelous thing happened after that. with such a stunning kitchen and bathroom, the rest of the house looked a lot like a shit hole. the play area and toy closet were next. i plowed through there the next day. i cleaned out the laundry room a while back, but it got a touch up, too. yesterday was my work area and the kid’s room. granted, the kid’s room was such a disaster it ended up being more of a cleaning for sanity spree than cleaning for clarity spree. the work area on the other hand was the most profound transformation.

i had so much that i held onto because i thought i’d hem those or fix that zipper or transform that stained shirt into something... someday. but, as time went on i realized someday never came and finding fabric i bought soon after having alizah (11 years ago) was the final straw. drawers of remnants and scraps and bits of yarn and JUNK got dumped. goodbye. i tell the kids before each holiday that they must clear out the toys they no longer love to make way for new ones and i realized i need to do the same. i mean, not with yarn of course, but you know… other stuff.

the last room is our bedroom and the real issue is laundry - like, when is it not? and that feels pretty damn good. we’re reusers for sure but i suppose there’s a fine line between reuse and hoard and i’m feeling that out. slowly. there is a lot more painting that needs to be done (like the whole house) but i’m totally ok with waiting for the next big push of energy. no forcing. no fighting. it’s counter productive anyway.

now, for the birds. our birds are crazy. they lay a lot of eggs, you see. they sit on them for a couple days, then ignore them for the most part. every time we get ready to dump the nest, there are more freaking eggs. we tease them that they’re bad parents, but i don’t think they understand. as with most things around here, we’re just gonna feel it out and when the time is right - the nest is outta here.

and finally, for the biggest news here in the strangehower home… we got our little mae registered for kindergarten. she’s so excited - bounding with joy actually - and she got alizah’s kindergarten teacher which nearly sent her into a baby heart attack. her happiness is nudging my gloom aside. but, still. bittersweet.

so, with that, i believe we’re up to speed. boy? are you out there? xo



waking up feeling heavy with a cool, fresh breeze licking at my nose is good.

eating simple, fresh meals with a side of warmer weather is good.

waiting (impatiently) for our two little eggs to (hopefully) hatch this week is good.

evening thunderstorms that rattle window panes…

planning trips to visit loved ones…

new opportunities to learn and teach and grow…


father-in-law breaking his tooth and now matching a proud five-year-old granddaughter?  

also very good.

dog nose coming in for the attack.  good.

sweet sleeping kitties…  well, you know.

dear sunday

i’m willing to share a good deal of my dyeing and spinning secrets once and for all!  ha!  most of them are dirty ones so if you’re a dyer or spinner by trade you may want to brace yourself.

sunday morning dye pot.  hot pot.

i turn on the heat and in go the first bits of merino to become the dark wool.  then a few minutes after the pot begins to steam, in go the second bits of merino to become the light wool.  laziness brings forth many of my happy accidents so i’m learning to fine tune the art of corner cutting.  

sink dump and i thorough hot rinse.  now to cool.  i squeeze the wool gently, then jelly roll it in a towel and stomp out the excess water and straight to the wheel we go.

singles.  dark and light.  lovely on their own actually. and yes, you read correctly.  i spun the wool while still damp.  it’s one of my greatest dirty little secrets.  i was impatient once last year and began spinning before the wool was completely dry.  it didn’t bother me in the least and i felt like i had more control over the fiber.  when i plyed the singles and let it dry it became a smooth, bouncy, soft yarn.

i thought i’d give it another go to see if i could get the same result.

here the yarn is still wet.  it seems stiff and has almost no spring to it, but late last night i checked on it and it was dry, smooth, bouncy, and soft as can be!  i actually knit a swatch, too which i forgot to take a picture of - and we’re looking at size US4-5 needles making this a sport weight.

i hope that wasn’t too terribly jarring.  hee

it was good to get that wheel out, tighten it up and watch the flyer whirl.  i needed that break in routine.  i needed to remember what it was like to sit quietly and draw.  inching and pulling and working those legs.

mae and i did the hard work of weeding in the afternoon.  with the warmth and the rain and the fresh soil i laid down, our seeds weren’t the only things springing to life.  it seemed over night our entire garden was overrun with weeds.  the dandelions.  so bittersweet pulling them, yanking and breaking them.  i hear my liz in my head telling me how much good they can do and in my untainted soil they’d be perfectly medicinal.  maybe some day i’ll grow a dandelion patch.  wouldn’t that be something?  beans and corn are making their way out of the soil now.  we found so many of them.  i think all but a few of the corn have come up now.  march.  woah.  

sunday dinner.  my mother has been making artichokes this way for as long as i can remember and i’m sure i was the only kid in second grade who not only knew what one was but had it at the top of her list of favorite foods.  i remember going around the room on the first day and having to telling the class your name and something about yourself… what your favorite foods and colors were, etc.  i said artichokes and my teacher gasped.  she asked if anyone knew what an artichoke was and no hands raised.  then she asked my to share with the class about that “unique vegetable”  how horrifying.  ha!

my alizah loves her artichokes, too.  she was squealing with delight when she got home from her dad’s and the house was filled with the thick odor of garlic and greens.

and now for the SURPRISE!

saroyan is DONE.  perfect.  it’s cooling a bit outside and now is the time for it.  


thank you, more please.

gratitude.  it’s been a topic here.  choosing happiness and joy over defeat and sorrow.  our alizah is prone to seeing the glass as half empty and it was time for a talk.  she is a quiet child, mostly.  she is brilliant and beautiful and secretive and sly.  she’s a slippery one and i normally choose people with grit to share my time with.  it’s funny how we have been gifted to each other.  our talks often shift toward the side of lectures and this one was no different.  it’s hard to keep on the side of conversation when she is so tight-lipped.  how do you get through to a pre-tween that the cast shadow is only one perspective?  all you have to do is turn around and the light will be shining in your face.  so, i force happiness upon her for now.  my mare.  my lovely, kind mare has been buried under the burden of bad news repeatedly and yet i can still hear the smile in her voice.  my heart aches for everything she’s been through these past months - now more than ever.  i’ll follow suit.  i’ll smile through the pain like i’ve done so many times before. we’ll be the example still.

i had a dream last night that mae and i were driving through a cemetery on a cold, stormy night.  in the dream i got creeped out and then was suddenly walking down a dark hallway toward a morgue.  i could see a man’s body on a table at the end of the hall and i grabbed for the wall, then was transported to a crowded room where hubs and i were arguing about money.  a man came over and emptied his pockets giving me $1.37.  i burst into tears knowing he had just giving us everything he had to his name. more often than not my dreams are telling me stories.  i’ll stay aware.

i’m staying quite busy on the pattern writing front and am eager to move forward still.  i wrestled with a fairly simple bonnet pattern all last week and still have one arm to complete on millie (pictured above).  that bonnet.  so silly.  i was the bonnet lady for so long and there i was knitting, ripping, knitting, ripping, writing, scratching, knitting some more.  i thought i’d gone mad.  it’s those simple solutions that can be so damn elusive!  in the end, i finished and am quite happy with the outcome.  millie will be done soon enough and dellie is in testing.  lauren sent me pics the other day and so far so good.  god love her for working the 2T.  this is going to be such a relief when she’s finished.  i decided it was time to knit something for myself.  i need it right now - so one sweater was ripped to make way for the new.

i do this.  it’s actually one of my favorite things about knitting and something that makes most people have a knee-jerk reaction.  once i’ve knit something and i feel i’ve gotten my fare use of it, i will rip it out and re-stash the yarn or cast on immediately.  if i sew something i can never have that yard of fabric back, but if i knit something, that yarn is as perfectly useable as the day i bought it or spun it or what ever.  it’s the ultimate recycling and this yarn is five inches away from it’s new life already.


p.s. squam registration opened today!  i wish i wish i wish i was going.  another year.  or, maybe i’ll surprise myself as i’ve resolved to do….

spin, dye, ply, tra-lalalala

lemonish + ecru = corn i’d say.  the ecru is well, ecru dye rather than undyed fancying itself as such.  

this was yesterday’s yarn.  i was thinking about naming it “sunday morning” and it seems fitting.

today was a complicated melody.  purple rain maybe?  how about wild berry skittles?  

these pictures are so deceptive!  the yarn looks so thick and bulky when really this blue is easily dk & the yellow sport.  i should work on my photography skills i suppose.  they’re both 100% merino and deliciously soft.

the gray anklets in the SUN!  much cuter than those gross pictures from the other night.  the other anklets are finished, too.

i’m really liking the look of these.  they’re slouchy and cool… too bad i only have a wimpy ball of this yarn left.  i spun it from some pre-dyed corriedale that i’m pretty sure i’m out of now.  oh well.  these were worth it!  

i’m considering posting a free pattern of these anklets but only considering for now.  poor mama is having a harder time adjusting to the school schedule than the kid!  at least mae was more than cooperative in the footsie photo shoot today.  wow.  i’m looking at the above picture and realizing she has my mother’s feet for sure.  HA

so, speaking of my mama… she stopped by the house over the weekend and dropped of a BUCKET of blackberries.  i mean, it’s one of those giant icecream buckets!  crazy.  someone gifted them to her so she gifted them to me because she’s a terribly busy woman with no means to wrangle such a mass of berries.  the girls and i tried our hand at jamming.  canning?  no.  i like jamming better. or smashing and splattering, plopping and glopping.

we got 8 jars out of only half the bucket.  the girls and i are SO excited to see how it turns out!!! i’ll post a review of course - even if it’s a complete disaster!   and of course, mama came by during one of her impromptu visits today and snatched up two jars just like that.  

oh!  i nearly forgot.  i knit a swatch of cupcake…

mmmm 5sts/inch on US6 needles and so so so soft.

this is the problem with spinning yarn and being a knitter.  i always think i should sell it or gift it to my fiber loving friends but i really just want to knit it all!  such a selfish girl.  bad!

well, i think that’s all for now.  i have a pile of dishes waiting for me and little girls to tuck in for the night.