Those buttons!


So many projects have gone onto my needles in the past few months. And—perhaps more surprisingly—even with our busy calendar, a few have actually been cast off! It's a miracle, I tell you.

This little sweater though, I admit to casting this sweater off ages ago. (2014? Really.) Due to a lack of baby girls in my world, I only had a reason to add buttons last week, then promptly mailed it off to a friend with a sweet new babe.

The pattern is Carina Spencer's Gift Wrap Sweater – my favorite go-to baby sweater. I adore Carina's patterns without exception. The construction is clever, and the worsted weight yarn she's partial too for most of her patterns always makes for a satisfyingly fast finish.

As for the yarn choice shown above, I nearly always work with hand wash only wool yarn. I make an exception, however, when knitting baby gifts (at least for non-knitters of those I don't think have a stash of hand wash only clothing to tend to). I can't help but remember back to the profoundly exhausting days of early-motherhood and am certain of how I would have felt about "hand-wash only" gifts when my kids were small. I doubt they would have seen much use, since they'd be awaiting a hand wash until they'd been outgrown.

So this sweater (along with mittens for my own kids and hats for Pete—both of whom have a knack for discovering hand knits in the laundry after the spin cycle) I use this wool blend (afflink).

It's brilliantly soft, the colors are lovely, and it can survive the occasional trip through the washer. I pick it up at my local yarn shop, but buying online is an option too if you don't have a local option!

The buttons, of course, are those that Pete made for me for Solstice from the beach pebbles for Ireland. I couldn't resist. 

And now? I'm back to knitting away on a much bigger sweater: one for me, knit from homegrown, hand-dyed wool. It's the Barn Sweater from Taproot Make. Perhaps some larger stone buttons are in order…


What's in your work basket these days, my friends?


Pokeweed & Wool

Thank you for your beautiful enthusiasm regarding the Women's Herbal Retreat that I shared with you this week. There is room available for seven more women, so if you haven't already done so reserve your space today.

I can't wait to gather with you! 



On our return trip from Maine last October we made an unplanned stop in a state park in Indiana. It was a spontaneous overnight after I got worn out from driving a little camper through high winds all day. I decided it wasn't worth pushing on and we'd add one night to the journey. We pulled off of the interstate and found a campground.

The first thing I noticed as we rolled through the park wasn't the beautiful rolling hills or the hiking trails or that we had the place to ourselves.

What I noticed was the abundance of pokeweed.

I had been wanting to dye with poke berries for some time but it doesn't grow in my region, so I was delighted to stumble upon it – and in full ripe fruit no less!

As we were near the end of our trip I rationalized I could tuck bags of the poison (yes, poison) berries in the cooler and transfer them to the freezer when I got home. And since it's a toxic plant that the park was already trying to eradicate I didn't think the'd mind if I helped out a bit.

We harvested berries and brought them home where I plucked the vibrant, juicy berries off of the stems and tucked a jar into the back of the freezer.

And there they sat. For nearly a year while I awaited first my homegrown yarn, and then the courage to dye it.

This weekend it was time.





While the color is not what I was expecting (honestly, it never really is with plant dyes, except for predictable yellows) I am absolutely smitten with how it turned out. Along with black hollyhock it's my favorite color yet. 

And the many surprises that plants bring to the dye bath? That's just part if the fun for me.

As for what I was expecting, I would say a bit less orange and a bit more red – In the pastel pink to deep magenta range. But truly, this color suits me even more than those.

There's still quite a bit of color left in the dye pot so I'm contemplating adding another skein to see what results. Perhaps a more pastel melon color? Or maybe that pink I was expecting.

We shall see!


P.S. If you are interested in exploring natural dyes yourself I'm quite taken by this book


Homegrown hollyhock shawl

 Or: sheep + flowers = happiness




We became shepherds a few years ago because 1. sheep are fuzzy and cute and look adorable dotted across our hillside; and 2. because I really wanted to grow my own fiber for knitting.

It was a long and varied road that led to those first skeins of wool but we made it – and each stitch I make with homegrown yarn is more satisfying than I ever could have imagined. 

I planted black hollyhocks in my flower garden so that I could have a wider color palate of natural dyes. As a biennial (flowering only on the second year) even my dye plants were a long-game plan. 


Finally this spring I dyed my first skein of hollyhock wool (the bottom skein in the photo above) and it was true love. A complex sage with an undercurrent of blue, it's mellowed to a soft sage green in the months since I dyed it.

And it is, quite possibly, my favorite yarn ever. Because squishy, gorgeous, and homegrown in every way? Yes, please!  

Despite my yarn being worsted weight, I chose to knit a Guernsey Triangle after being utterly distracted by my friend Meg's gorgeous version during a visit this spring as we discussed homeschooling, lambs in tutus, and doing yoga with goats. (Among other things.)

Yes, the Guernsey Triangle is designed for fingering weight yarn. Yes, I knitted it in worsted. Rules be damned!

To accommodate for the extra bulk of my yarn I simply cast on the small version with the expectation of it coming out roughly the size of a large. (It did.)




Next up? A cowl with fiber from this cute bunny.

Game. On.


Photos by the ever-helpful Sage. Thank's, bud.

 P.S. My project notes are here

Upcycled Selkie (at long last!)




Let's begin here: I love this cape.

Partially because I made it (which is always satisfying), partially because it's recycled, but mostly because of the love-hate relationship I have had with this yarn for the past five years. Wearing this cape means I won the battle.

This cape began in 2011 when – with a burst of ambitious upcycling spirit – I purchased (then unraveled, then dyed) a women's XXL wool sweater with an American flag emblazoned across the front. It was exceptionally ugly. But the yarn was promising and at $6.00 I couldn't argue with the price of a sweater's worth of wool.

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At the time I remember being rather proud of myself. I thought that upcycling sweaters was a great way to acquire sustainable, affordable yarn. And it's true. But the other truth is that yarn became a bit of a thorn in my side soon after unraveling began.

Because there were knots (so many knots!) and no matter what pattern I tried I could not get gauge to save my life. This yarn defies sizing estimations.

And finally, the wool looked more enticing knitted (American flag and all) than it did once it was skeined up and waiting in my craft room. Don't get me wrong, it's nice thick soft wool. It's just not very pretty when you look at a ball of it up close.

But I set to work anyway to find a pattern that would accommodate with a chunky yarn whose only mission it turned out was to defy gauge. I make and unraveled several swatches that resembled knitted cardboard (so! dense!) and a vest the size of my Volkswagon.

And so (with a slight huff) I gave up for a few years.


But when I left for Vermont and Maine with a camper-load of fiber to drop at the mill I knew it was now or never. If I didn't make something out of this yarn before my own yarn came back from the mill I never would.

And then I found it. The Selkie. The perfect bulky pattern for my burdensome basket of grey yarn. And I got gauge! Oh, happy day.

And the truth is I really fell in love with both this pattern and the yarn (knots aside) as this knit came together. It was a fast project (believe it or not) and I finished it with a set of my great grandma Nellie's antique buttons. A nice touch, I think.

It's warm and squishy and I feel a little bit like my high school art teacher when I wear it. (That's a good thing, I promise.) Or maybe some sort of crafty superhero. Because it's a cape! That I made. Out of an ugly sweater from the thrift store.

If that's not a superpower worthy of a wooly cape I don't know what is.

My project is here on Ravelry.

Farm chore mitts

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I know. I know. More knitting.

But since you all liked the homegrown shawl so much I thought I'd share another project that just came off the needles.

I've had a string of more complicated projects in my knitting basket for the past year or more. Lots of cables, lace, and complicated "no-one-talk-to-me-or-I'll-lose-my-place" kind of work. I needed a "talking project" for my birthday weekend. Something that requires no pattern or little attention to it. So I spent a night wandering around on Ravelry looking for something to knit. When we left for our overnight I grabbed this yarn and a set of DPNs as we set off for the woods.

And thus the farm chores mitts were born.

I picked the lovely yarn up at Green Mountain Spinnery last fall, and loosely based my knitting off of Pinecrest. (Without, um, following the pattern. Because: talking.)

And since we're having another cold snap here in Wisconsin they've been in use everyday since I cast them off.

The truth is, I'd like to spend more time gutting and downsizing every room in my house. Or cleaning. And planting my garden. But here I am, knitting. It's my simplicity and garden avoidance plan. It's working.

What's on your project list this week?



A homegrown shawl

Homegrown Shawl : : Rachel Wolf

Homegrown Shawl : : Rachel Wolf

Homegrown Shawl : : Rachel Wolf

Homegrown Shawl : : Rachel Wolf

Homegrown Shawl : : Rachel Wolf

I do a fair amount of knitting over here, but rarely share finished projects with you. I'm not sure why, but sometimes I feel like you don't need to know what's in my project basket or what's blocking by the fire.

This one, though, is special.

Because this yarn began it's journey right here on the farm. Home grown, home dyed, hand knit. All by me.

When we took our road-trip last fall I dropped a huge bundle of our flock's wool off at Green Mountain Spinnery in Vermont. Two year's worth of fiber from our ewes and lambs. When the wool came home a couple of weeks ago I set to work immediately to dye some skeins, then cast on my first project. And nothing could be more satisfying that knitting with yarn you grew yourself. (Who knew?)

The pattern is Lonely Tree, and I dyed the wool with dyes from Greener Shades, blending a purple, blue, and pink. You can find my project here on Ravelry.

My next project with our homegrown yarn will be natural dyes, using the black hollyhocks that I grew last summer, elderberries I harvested from our farm, and pokeweed that Lupine and I foraged on our return trip from Maine. I can hardly wait to get started! 

Homegrown Shawl : : Rachel Wolf


Thanks to Pete for the photos. x



Seaside Wrap

LuSa Mama's Seaside Wrap

LuSa Mama's Seaside Wrap

LuSa Mama's Seaside Wrap

LuSa Mama's Seaside Wrap

LuSa Mama's Seaside Wrap

LuSa Mama's Seaside Wrap

LuSa Mama's Seaside Wrap

LuSa Mama's Seaside Wrap

LuSa Mama's Seaside Wrap

Despite being the only driver on this cross-country adventure, I did managed to find a bit of time to knit along the way. Usually it was in the morning (and yes, usually I was sitting in the camper bathroom to keep from waking the kids). But knitting is knitting, I say! No matter where I have to do it.

And so it was that just before we left Maine I cast off my Seaside Wrap.

Knit with a scrumptious silk/Merino blend from Sundara Yarn it is indescribably soft, drapey, and so delicious. I'm wild for this yarn – as well as the clever Sensible Shawl pattern! I've worn it almost every day since I cast it off, and have skipped blocking altogether since that would mean a day or two without my wrap.

The shawl crosses in the front and ties in the back, keeping it clear of hay bales, nibbling goats, and breakfast dishes. (Kudos to Sage for being a good sport and snapping a few photographs of me wearing it!)

The perfect luxurious yet practical wrap for this farm mama.

LuSa Mama's Seaside Wrap

And yes, I know I just posted this picture a couple of days ago. But I love it so much I think I'll share it twice! And worth noting, I'm not normally a fan of garter stitch but I thought I'd give it a try just this once. It has officially won me over.

What a simple, rewarding project this was!

You can find my project on Ravelry here.



Shawls for love

A shawl raffle for love

A shawl raffle for love

A shawl raffle for love

A shawl raffle for love

One of the loveliest things that has happened since I started blogging is the development of a handful of new friendships with women I've met online. And though most of these friends I have not had the pleasure of meeting in person (or not yet), we are connected through our shared stories and common paths.

Ginny is one of those friends.

I'm not even sure how we met anymore – someone left a comment or shared a link somewhere along the way and it just unfolded from there – but I'm so thankful that is did.

Among other things, Ginny and I share passions for homeschooling, homesteading, goats, undersized houses, and yes, knitting.

We also share a passion for helping others.

So when Ginny announced that she was going to host a handknit shawl raffle to raise money for Iraqi women and children I was in before I even knew the details. I mean honestly. I was – quite literally – casting off my Forest Nymph capelet when I read her call for knitters. Right that minute. It was knitting destiny.

And that's how it happens that my newest shawl – along with eleven others made by eleven other lovely ladies – is up for raffle on Ginny's blog right this minute.

The money being raised will go to Preemptive Love Coalition and be used for emergency relief, education for refugee children, and small business grants to women in Iraq. 

And I can't think of a more important or beautiful way to wear this shawl that by giving it away and knowing that good will come to families far, far away (in every sense) from this quiet and peaceful valley.

To join us, hop over to Small Things and follow Ginny's instructions for making your donation and entering the raffle. It's easy! And you just might take home a lovely wrap to call your own.

Thank you for your big, generous hearts, and for doing what you can to make a difference in the lives of others, even if it's just $5.

Because no matter how broken our world feels at times, every person working for good is tipping the scales of what tomorrow will bring. You can do that. You can change things.

And I can chance things. It's what we're here for.

What do you say we get to work?

A shawl raffle for love

A shawl raffle for love


Spinning Nutmeg’s wool

From sheep to yarn | Clean.

From sheep to yarn | Clean.

From sheep to yarn | Clean.

From sheep to yarn | Clean.

From sheep to yarn | Clean.

From sheep to yarn | Clean.

From sheep to yarn | Clean.

From sheep to yarn | Clean.

From sheep to yarn | Clean.

From sheep to yarn | Clean.

From sheep to yarn | Clean.


From sheep to yarn | Clean.

Her name is Nutmeg, but usually we refer to her as The Queen.

She is regal in every way, and so wary of people I've honestly only touched her a handful of times.




We chose her for her wool, impossibly soft, dense and fluffy. It starts out black but fades in the sun to a deep chocolate brown as the year progresses.

I was excited to get started on my first sheep-to-sweater project when we adopted our first ewes, but stalled out after trying to wash a dirty fleece in our bathtub and hopelessly clogging the drain before I was even half done.


So the fleeces went back to the basement until Match. Finally when the spring warmed up I was able to scour them outside in buckets and dry them in the sun. And honestly it was a messy, wet, dirty, and fragrant job – yet inexplicably satisfying. I was cleaning my own wool!

Soon with the help of my trusty friend YouTube (this new farming family's school of choice) I learned how to card and roll rolags.

We were off and running.

I spend much of last weekend carding and spinning Nutmeg's wool into yarn. Some day this yarn will become a sweater of vest or mittens or something exceptionally special for one of us. I'm leaning toward a hoodie for Sage. The color is perfect.

But before that happens there is more to be done. More carding. More spinning. And finally plying the yarn and setting the twist. I don't expect to cast on before fall.

Since shearing last month I somehow have twelve fleeces to work with. Twelve giant bags overflowing with wool.

Oh. My.

I think it's time to get busy.

I can hardly wait.


Nutmeg, however, is just wondering where her warm and wooly coat has gone.

Thank you for your patience while Typepad continues to work the bugs out after the recent attacks. This morning it seems comments are down but we hope they'll be up again soon!

 Edited to add: Comments seem to be working now! Here's hoping it stays that way.


DIY yarn storage.

DIY yarn storage from old drawers. {Clean.}

A year ago I scrounged up these old drawers.

And while the old door in that post long ago became this headboard, the drawers were just waiting. For inspiration. Yes, I've used them for shelves and bins here and there, but nothing overly inspiring.

Until this weekend.

I was finishing up the craft room overhaul that I started last weekend and realized I needed a new yarn storage solution.

Because piles, heaps, and baskets of wool only get you so far.

So I shot from the hip and grabbed a couple of those old drawers, cut some branches from our brush pile with a handsaw, and enlisted a volunteer to cut some scrap lumber to size for shelves (thanks, Pete!). 

And, frankly, I'm stoked. My yarn has really never looked so good.

DIY yarn storage from old drawers. {Clean.}

DIY yarn storage from old drawers. {Clean.}

DIY yarn storage from old drawers. {Clean.}

DIY yarn storage from old drawers. {Clean.}

The best part is, you can rock this out in an afternoon.

Here's how:

1. Scrounge up some old wooden drawers. Mine are shallow but slightly deeper drawers would also work brilliantly.

2. Determine which way you'd like your drawers to hang. I arranged mine so that the vintage drawer pulls faced the entrance to the room. Find your right arrangement.

3. Measure the drawer depth and width. Determine how many shelves you would like to add to each drawer. (I added one to one and two to the other.)

4. Cut dimensional lumber to the sizes you determined above.

5. Place your shelves where you want them. Using a tiny drill bit, drill for your nails. (Rad crafty tip: No drill bit? No worries! Cut the head off of a long, thin nail with pliers. Insert the nail as though it were a drill bit. Drill!)

6. Nail shelves into place.

7. Cut tree branches 2-3" longer than your drawer is wide. Determine placement (hint: lower is better so that you can get the yarn out easily), then drill with your nifty handmade drill bit, and nail or screw into place.

8. Drill holes through the back of the drawer for hanging, and hang, using a level to insure they are straight.

9. Stuff with yarn and stand back to admire your awesomeness.

DIY yarn storage from old drawers. {Clean.}

And one last thing. A note on perfectionism: At one point Olive made off with one of my branches, gnawing up one end. Lupine noted, "It's okay, Mama. That'll just make it more rustic."

See? Perfection is overrated.

Happy making!