Saturday, December 31, 2011

Almost There

Almost there....

...have seen to the imperfections...

.....rewritten the pattern....

....looking forward to tidying up my stitches....

Then and only then, will I introduce you.  As you can see my work is a little messy and needs redoing, but...

Almost There!

Thursday, December 29, 2011


I have a parcel packaged up, waiting for one of my test knitters to pop by.........I can't believe how nervous I am about this part of the process.  I bet I'll be even more nervous the day I click "post" and make my first published pattern available for sale to anyone in the world......

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Almost A New Year

It's almost a New Year and I can't wait to take it by the horns and run with it.  2011 was a wonderful year for us here on the Homestead and I just know that 2012 is going to be even better.  The last couple of weeks has been filled with planning, working and anticipation of the Holiday Season, here, as with the rest of the world.  The only thing that may have been a little different here than most anywhere else, is that I have also been working on my first hat pattern that I intend to offer for sale on Ravelry.  I am in the process of knitting and writing it right now and I am just a little excited about it.  I have made around half a dozen patterns to date but not the kind of patterns that I would offer for sale as they were all quite plain and just another variation on what is already available (sometimes for free).  The pattern I'm working on is an original colour work Tam, designed from my own original plain Tam pattern.  I hope it ends up looking fabulous and that there might be a few folks out there who think so as well.  Here's a little taste of the work in progress.

I can't believe how much work goes into writing a pattern, especially with charts for colour work and shaping, but I have absolutely loved the process and I can't wait to share it with you.  I am almost finished my part of it, then it's off to test knitting and reworking/editing anything that needs it.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays.

However you celebrate the season, may it be warm and filled with loved ones.  

All the best,  


Wednesday, December 21, 2011


This year the Winter Solstice occurs at 12:30 am on 22 December.  I'm putting the Sole back in Solstice by having a warm evening at home with candles burning to harken back the longer days, surrounded by fresh greenery to remind me of the greens of summer.  For any of you out there in the blogasphere who celebrate Yule or Midwinter or Solstice, I wish you a very happy and joyous one, surrounded by love, warmth and plenty.  May your home fires burn brightly.

Cheers, Chantelle

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Did a little Holiday baking today....

...Cranberry Tarts made from local cranberries and Raisin Tarts made with my very own raisins.  They don't look very nice in the photo but believe me, they smell and taste really good.  Celebrations always need a little sugar!

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Tis the season to start enjoying the fruit of our labour.  If you've been tuned in for a while, you already know how much preserving the food we grow and acquire from local sources means to me.  After working hard this fall to jam, pickle, dehydrate and freeze many pounds of beautiful home grown and locally grown food....we get to eat it!  I started diving into the food stores this week and oh my goodness does it all taste good!

The pressure canner in full swing.

One food that I love this time of year is Clementines.  Unfortunately for now I'm still buying them and they are still coming from a continent away.  We do have a tangerine tree though and last year we had one lonely little fruit.  With any luck, we'll be getting many more in years to come as the tree gets more mature.  Who knows, they may even substitute for my seasonal clementine addiction.

It's hard to share one lonely little tangerine.

If you've ever wanted to homestead, grow and preserve your own food and maybe even have a root cellar, I recommend you check out Kevin's Blog.  He recently posted a video he took, preparing a salad in his root cellar.  I am now experiencing root cellar envy!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sew Pretty

I was in town today and stopped by the fabric store......

The fat quarters at top right were together in a set and are destined to be made into future gifts.  The turquoise with dragon flies and beige with lady bugs are for me and are eagerly awaiting some embroidered embellishments.  The ribbon is for embroidery.  It used to be cost effective to sew your own clothes, not so any more, at least not with new fabric.  I do use upcycled fabric whenever I can, buying this today was a bit pricey and I'm not sure if it was really worth it, but how I loooove those dragon flies.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Thoughts On "Slow Wardrobe"

The Wovember Campaign during the month of November was the brain child of two amazing women, Kate Davies and Felicity Ford.  I had a great time competing in the Wovember contest (and am still hoping to be one of the lucky winners) and continuing my day to day love affair with wool.  I just read a wonderful post by Felicity describing "Slow Wardrobe" in a very interesting twist on the "Slow Food" movement.  This way of thinking and living fits in nicely with Homesteading, and I have to agree with Felicity whole heatedly.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Wish List

I've been adding and subtracting books from my wish list, this is an ongoing thing that I've been doing for as long as I can remember.  This being that season when Santa is watching and listening to hear what you might be wishing for, I thought I'd share.  As well as the beautiful book listed in my last post (which I think is at the very top of my list), I've been dreaming about these as well.

For the knitter in me (and the budding designer), Shirley Paden has written a book to help us learn how to design our own patterns and adjust other patterns to get the perfect fit.

For the homesteader in me....I enjoyed watching Victorian Farm last year on PBS, it was a documentary series of 2 archaeologists and an historian who lived a year as Victorian farmers.  Since the release of this documentary, these same folks wrote a book about the series under the same name.  They also referred to Henry Steven's Book of The Farm throughout the series as their Victorian Farm "Bible".  So they are both on my list.

Victorian Farm: Christmas Edition

Book of the Farm: Concise Edition

For the aspiring seamstress in me...Sew Retro, I sweet book that is part snippets of historical data, whimsical memorabilia and practical sewing advice and patterns, all with a nod to past with 25 vintage inspired patterns.

Sew Retro: 25 Vintage-Inspired Projects for the Modern Girl & A Stylish History of the Sewing Revolution

I think all of these books would make useful and adored additions to my library, being both practical and beautiful.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

....Still Inspired....

Jardin reve, jardin brode

Good news is that I don't have to wait and order this book I told you about yesterday from Euro Amazon....It's available at Chapters online as well!!!  I think there might be a Chapters gift certificate under the tree...hmmmmm and even if there isn't....I have another little Chapters coupon hanging around somewhere....oh there it is....

If the book is even half as beautiful as her blog, I'm going to love it!

Friday, December 9, 2011


I get a lot of my inspiration from other people's amazing work.  I wish embellishments came out of my own head and I guess they do, it's just that they are often originally inspired by an other's work.  I found Cecile through another blog that I like to read.  I have to say I have a textile crush on Cecile, her blog is amazing, her work even more so.  Seeing her use of colour and texture to bring nature to life in floss and ribbon inspired me to pick up needle and floss and take a chance......

If you can guess what kind of flower this is, then I've accomplished something:)  Of course, since I haven't stitched anything in years (and it was counted cross stitch when I did) I think I did pretty well.  Can't wait to hone this skill as it just opens up a world of possibilities.  I hope to buy her book "Jardin Reve, Jardin Brode" (excuse the lack of accents, I don't know where they are on this keyboard).  Oh, by the way Mom, it's available on European Amazon....just sayin'.  Anyway, I don't know if Cecile will ever know how much her work has inspired me but just in case you do read this... Merci Cecile.


If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that I love felted wool and I use it quite a lot.  Today, I took a sweater that I had knit for Mr. several years ago that was way too big (and he was way to kind to say a word about it, he just doesn't wear it) and felted it.  I neglected to take a before photo, but here is an after shot.  It was knit with MacAusland's 2 ply in Natural Grey in a nice checkered pattern (about 5 stitches per block).

Not a great picture I'm afraid, but you can still just barely make out the pattern.  It might be about in inch shorter than he would like it now, but all in all it will be a much better fit.

I also machine knit a sheet of MacAusland's 3 ply in Natural Grey (a different shade than above) and felted it to see how it would turn out.  I need to make 2 more sheets and felt them, then I'm going to cut and use my signature stitch to make a very interesting pullover.  This was Mr.'s idea, I think he's on to something.

This particular batch of yarn felted up very nicely with a soft halo, I think it's perfect for a warm garment.  Here's a closer look at the finish.

Unfortunately the Mr. Darcy that I was lovingly hand knitting Mr. for Christmas is in the frog pile.  I love this sweater, I love the pattern, it was a pleasure to work on it...but I was again making it way too big.  Ok, before you say "did you swatch"....I sure did!  And knowing that I knit loose, I started with a smaller needle than recommended and my swatch was perfect.  In fact, it seemed that anywhere on the sweater that I checked for gauge, it was perfect...but It was still ending up many inches toooooooo wide so instead of going any further and ending up with yet another lovely sweater in the closet....I stopped.  I will let you know how the felt and cut sweater turns out.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

And It Only Took A Week!!

Back to the Singer Treadle Sewing Machine that Mr. Homesteader bought me for Christmas....I was so happy to see that the brand new leather drive band made it here today all the way from the UK in only a week (in December no less).  So with any luck, when I get home from work tonight Mr. and I won't be too tired to size, cut and latch it together.  I sew so (snicker) want to play with this beautiful thing.

Dave wanted to get it working for me this afternoon, but I told him that he'd better let Mr. do it.  So he checked it all out and decided to continue grabbing and dragging the yarn I was knitting with across the house instead.  He's so helpful.

Speaking of knitting....this is as much as I can show you as it's still classified "top secret", but dear knitters just think of Mr. Darcy that hung out over at Knitty sometime back in 2009.....if I say any more, I might get into trouble.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Warms The Heart

This video is so cute........

Sweet Christmas Carol

If that doesn't put you into the Holiday mood.........

Another Job Finished.

I finally finished the socks that my Father asked for.  I love making them, but I have to say I'm looking forward to making something different.  I'd tell you what that something different is but Mr. Homesteader reads my blog....SPOILERS!

Six pairs of warm, hand knit, 100% wool socks.

They make nice ornaments too!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Now We're Talkin'

So that sewing machine I told you about yesterday, you know, the one with the knee lever...I gave it a try today and it took less getting used to than I thought it would.  I decided that the first thing I make on it should be both for me and old fashioned so I set to work making a doll.  I drew a pattern out yesterday for the doll and dress.

And finally this morning I was able to play with this amazing machine.  See the black iron lever in the front...yup that's how it runs.

The doll was made out of a pillow case.

Then I made her a dress from an old dress of my own.

She's so pretty that she doesn't even bother dying her hair, it's make of natural brown 100% wool yarn (of course).

Her name is Miranda.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Ok , quick post just to let you know how challenging the smaller details in life can be.

See this....this is a catalogue picture of another vintage sewing machine.  This one I've had for about 13 years now.  It is an early electric model.  When I bought it I noticed that there was no pedal so I figured I'd keep my eye out for one and if one came along I'd be all set.  I paid very little for this machine so I didn't mind it sitting around looking pretty for so many years, but my recent acquirement of the treadle machine re sparked my interest in getting this one working.  Mr. took a long look at it (he understands physics, I don't) and he couldn't figure out how or where a pedal would actually plug into the machine.  So after further examination, he discovered that there was a lever inside of a hole at the front of the machine and when you moved it it made the motor run.  On even closer inspection Mr. saw that there was an odd shaped metal thing, neatly housed inside of the didn't take him long to figure out that the metal thing fit the strange hole and turned the lever!!!!  Unfortunately I'm at work right now and haven't been able to play with it myself yet.  He assures me that it goes like snot.  He said "the good news is that works great, the bad news always did".  Well now, all that needs doing is the electrical cord to the machine and from the machine to the light to be replaced as the insulation is dodgy.  Voila......

Monday, November 28, 2011

Santa? Is That For Me?

I know that it's a month early, but Santa stopped by and brought me this!  Santa and I picked it up yesterday for a song (if I told you how little we paid for it, it would make you weep with envy).  It looks like it's complete and works very smoothly as it was obviously very well taken care of for the last 85 years.  I have wanted one of these all of my life, and as far as I can remember it's the same model that my Grandmother had.  To add to this great tale, the gentleman who we bought it from knew the two women who had owned it (the second was his late wife).  As it turns out, this machine was probably originally purchased from the general store that my husband and I now own!!!!  I also know many of the relatives of the two former owners.  Santa ordered a new drive band for me today, the old one had dried up and broken years ago, and I am waiting like a schoolgirl on Christmas Eve for it to arrive so I can give this beautiful piece of Victorian engineering a very serious workout.  In fact it's first work out in this century.  Of course Dave had to check it out with me to see if it was in good condition.

Check out Dave in this pic, he looks like he's going to punch me, haha what a guy.  He was actually in a great mood and was a very good boy all day.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My Wovember Entry

I was making a bowl of Scottish Oats for breakfast and looking forward to finishing a cabled hat I was making in natural Oatmeal coloured MacAusland's 2 ply wool yarn, when I realized that they go together in more than just colour.  Wool and oats are both warm, protective and comforting.  Figured that this would make a good entry in the Wovember photo contest.

I did finish the hat today....right after I finished the oats, both were terrific.

Dave spent quite a bit of time snuggling me this afternoon, he's just under 6 pounds at just over 4 months old...he's going to be very big.

And handsome don't you think?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cat Adventures

Although Dave (that's our cat) is almost always in a good mood, spending too much time cooped up in his carrier while making too many stops on the way to his appointment, did not make him a very happy guy at all.

He was so young here, he still had blue eyes.

By the time we made it to the vet for his appointment, he was in a really bad mood.  The receptionist, although well meaning, decided that she needed to take him out of his carrier and fuss over him after he had already hissed at her.  So after hissing 5 more times at her, I actually had to tell her to put him back in his box.  Needless to say, that made his mood even worse.  Being held against his will for two needles and a pill really, really pissed him off.  He was so traumatized on the way home he decided to poop in his carrier, thank goodness it was less than 10 minutes to drive home.  He's much happier now that he's home, but now he's in for the weakness and crappy feeling he gets after a needle.  Poor little man.  I feel so bad for him.  Good news is he forgave me and was looking for love immediately upon our return home....such a good kitty.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Chaud 7

Just cast on sock pair number 4 of 6......

....they look white but they're actually a really nice oatmeal, and of course...MacAusland's 2-ply 100% wool yummmmm!  These should keep Dad's feet warm:)

Monday, November 14, 2011

....and now for something completely different...

Green living, homesteading, being a kinder custodian of the planet, leaving a smaller footprint, wanting less....yup that's what I'm about.  In keeping with my newer lifestyle, I've decided that instead of buying new chairs for the living room, I am going to try reupholstering for the very first time.  I'm no stranger to textiles.  I can sew, spin, knit and mend but reupholstering is definitely a first for me.  The chairs, two classic wing backs, are 18 years old and except for dated, stained and worn fabric...they are in very solid shape.  So I took a trip to a local fabric store last week and rummaged through their bargain room and found this...

Then I spent a couple of hours yesterday doing this...

Now my hands are sore from removing staples, but I was very happy to see just how solid these chairs are.  Wish me luck in the finished product, I'll post the results.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

In Sheep's Clothing

In honour of WOVEMBER, check out this great film taken in the 1930's  In Sheep's Clothing .  I love it!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Mildest Wovember Ever.

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I'm a proud believer in the myriad qualities of wool and can't wait until cooler weather arrives every year so that I can wrap myself in it.  Well this week, the second week of Wovember, the daytime temperatures have been in the double digits on the Celsius scale....that means warm.  So far for Wovember I've been working with 100% pure wool every day, It's been cold enough to sleep under 100% pure wool every night, but I'm afraid it's been too warm to even put mittens on!  This is very rare on the East Coast of Canada.  It usually does get very cold here at this time of year (and very damp which just makes it feel colder), but not this year...actually we've had a few Novembers like this due to climate change (don't get me started on that....just be kind to the Planet, OK).  I have managed to wear wool everyday by wearing a sweater as outerwear, but I'm afraid that's the best I can do.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

One for me....One for you....

Not much progress on Keefely Mitten number 1 since yesterday.  As much fun as it is to make something for myself, I have to put it down from time to time and work on paid knitting.  A promise is a promise so I take knitting orders very seriously and try to get them all completed in a reasonable amount of time.

Keefely Mitt

Today's cast on is a cabled hat in natural white MacAusland's 2 ply 100% wool yarn.  There must be a thousand cabled beanie hat patterns available that look similar to mine but I can't help being proud that this was the first pattern that I made myself.

My Cabled Hat

Monday, November 7, 2011

First Time FairIsle

For some time I've been craving trying colour work, namely fairisle.  There are so many beautiful patterns available both old and new, by so many talented designers.  I've had my eye on these Keefely Mittens for some time, so today I cast on....

I can see that I'm still a touch tight with stitching, but I think these mittens will still fit me just fine.  I'm pleased with my first attempt.  I'm using MacAusland's single ply 100% wool in dark grey, light grey and white.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Things That Go Together.

I'm a homesteader.  I'm also a knitter.  These things couldn't go together better.

The last couple of days have been productive (even while nursing a head cold) and full of WOOL.  Told you I had Wovember in my heart every day of the year.  I've been working on an order of hats made from woollen blankets and stitched together with wool yarn and I'm still working on wool socks for my Dad. 

I also took a few minutes today to pick the hips off of the wild roses that grow just outside my back door.  I didn't plant those roses there, the birds did and I thank them for it.  I decided to take out the seeds and throw them into the hedgerow, figuring that without seeds the fruit would dehydrate faster....and they did....

These little beauties are headed for a jar with the addition of dried Lemon Balm and Lavender from the garden to make a wonderful fruity tea blend.  In the coming years, maybe the hedgerow will be full of them.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

More Than Just A Blanket.

I see blankets as more than just blankets, especially those woollen blankets that every family seems to have.  Some of those cozy wool blankets are ooooooold, some new, some in excellent condition, some with scorch marks, some with wee stains, some with the edges worn, torn or missing.  But one thing they all have in common (other than being made of wool) is family history.  When I look at an old blanket, whether it is in good shape or not, I see history.   A blanket can really tell a epic even!  People have been made under blankets, born on top of blankets, kept warm in winter, kept snug during a flu bug and yes, have even taken their last breath under that beautiful piece of textile.  An entire life lived (or many many lives lived) under and on a single blanket.  That's quite a story for one simple piece of wool cloth.  High Fives all around for the Wool Blanket! 

A modest sampling of my wool blanket collection sitting on top of a yarn chest my Father made me.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Taking Wovember to Heart

When I first read about Wovember (see my last post) and I decided to wear or work with 100% pure wool all month long, I realized....Hey, I do that almost every day anyway, all year long!!!  I love wool, I love everything about wool.  And yes, it bothers me that some labelling (and people) call yarns and fabric from other sources by the name "wool".  Wool is not a pseudonym for yarn, nor vice/versa.  Wool is wool.  Yarn can be made from wool, and in most cases that's the only yarn I use.  I do often throw other fibres into the mix like alpaca, mohair, cashmere, seacell and silk....all natural, but they're not wool.  Wool is wool.  Wool comes from sheep.  Wool smells like.....wool blankets.  Wet sheep smell like wet wool blankets.  Just thought you should know that.  Wool is fire resistant, incredibly warm and holds it's thermal properties even when wet (just ask the wet sheep).  Wool can be itchy and coarse (great for outerwear and carpeting), it can be extremely soft and comfortably worn against the skin, and any degree of coarse or soft in between.  Wool makes a good insulation.  Wool is a natural product.  Wool is harvested from sheep without needing to kill or harm them.  Geez, what more can I say, I love wool and everything about it.  For any of you who read this blog and have not yet knit with wool, I urge you to try it. 

These are wonderful mitts that a friend gave me last year, she knit them from I believe merino wool?  This is what Wovember means to me.

Wovember also means a continuation of my work guessed it...WOOL!

This is the inside project page of the my new book Knitting Socks from Around the World, I loooooove this book and winning it was even better!!!!  Thank you Helene.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Read all about it here at the  WOVEMBER Website.  I'd tell you all about it, but they say it so much better than I can!

Two of Six......

......sounds kind of Treckie.....Two of Six....Seven of Nine....sorry, I couldn't help myself.  Sock pair number Two of Six is on the needle and building fast, this time in burgundy.  All 6 pairs will be made with MacAusland's Woollen Mill 2 ply yarn.

Today was also bread day, once a week I make two loaves of bread for DH and I to enjoy for the week.  This week I made Unbleached, Organic, White.  Next week's batch will be a Light Organic Rye.