Things have been quiet on the blog. I simply find myself with very little to say here lately. Thanksgiving is just days away and I'm slowing down and honoring this holiday season the best I can by focusing on what all I have to be grateful for in my life right now. And with that said, I'm going to take this week off from blogging and return in December with some new posts.

I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving! Even if you aren't in the US, I hope you find many things your life to be thankful for this time of year!

November (So Far) In Instagrams

Lately, micro-blogging has been more my speed. I don't really feel like I have much to say here right now. Instead, when I sit down at the computer, I've been enjoying finally getting a chance to visit your blogs rather trying to compose a post for this space here. I hope you don't mind a cop-out today as I share Instagram photos taken so far this month of the little things. 

1+2: We canned up lots of apple sauce. 3: I made a double batch of granola. 4: Harvested some fall kohlrabi, lettuce and a few scrawny sweet potatoes.  5: Organized my natural dye swatches for the 2014 season. 6: Realized I have become more high maintenance over the years. 7: Fallen once again for the Japanese Maple in autumn. 8: Got up to 7 eggs a day. 9: Harvested and washed up so. much. kale. 10: Made the Maple Cardamom cake from Smitten with Squash. 11: Planted four fruit trees. 12: Had the chickens visit me while clearing out the very last bits in the garden. 13+14: Had out first snow. 15: Loved the sight of the chickens in a sea of red Japanese Maples leaves. 16: Made my Dad's famous sticky buns. 

Find more of these day-to-day moments on Instagram.

Yarn Along - Knitting and Reading

I’m joining in Yarn Along this week hosted by Ginny of Small Things. It’s a chance for those of us who love knitting and reading to share what project is currently on our needles and which book we have our noses buried in. And I personally add what music I've been listening to as well.

Knitting :  Currently, I am charging through a pair of Woodsman's Socks. This is the only handmade gift I've thought of this year. Not sure if I'll challenge myself to make anything else but perhaps if they are all in a bulky weight like this, hand knit gifts would be doable!

Reading : Reading the section on soap making in "Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World." There are a ton of similar DIY books out there but I highly recommend this one. It covers a broad range of topics very well--informative and helpful but nothing too in-depth that that the topics feel uneven. I'm also flipping through a book my Grandma gave me: "The New Knitting Dictionary." Maybe in the new year I can give pattern designing a try, I have already some ideas in mind.

Listening : New albums from Horse Feathers and Damien Rice. (I think my favorite off the latter is "Trusty and True." It sounds so quintessentially Irish.)

While I'm talking about knitting, would anyone be interested in a hat swap/KAL? I was thinking perhaps the beginning of January, after the rush of the holidays are over, running for about a month so it can fit easily into schedules. It would be a surprise-style swap: you answer a questionnaire about your favorite colors, fibers, styles of hat, mention a few favorite patterns, what your head measurements are, etc and your partner uses that info to knit/crochet you a hat. Mention in the comments if you'd want to join in, if there is enough interest, I'll set the gears in motion. (Even if I just have one person to swap with!)

What have you been knitting/crocheting, reading or listening to this week?

Fotografie Kristina Koehler Giveaway - CLOSED

It’s Friday! Don’t you all love Fridays? Well, I’m about to make your Friday even better. I’m super excited and honored to team up with the talented Kristina of Fotografie Kristina Koehler (and at Little Home by Hand) to do a giveaway here!

Kristina’s photos are broken down into categories of various travels and themes. She has photos showing the charm of Norwegian architecture, everyday details and the grandeur of its fjords; the rocky, mossy landscapes of Scotland; the vibrancy, joy and history of Italy; the earthy and floral beauties of Germany; the seaside views of the Netherlands; the ruggedness and deep bond between cowboy and horse; and her most recent series featuring the awe of Western Canada’s mountains and waters.

I believe that what we put on the walls of our home is important, they are little windows to our personal memories or to pull us into other worlds, allowing us to daydream. One of her travel prints would be perfect for your office, offering you a little wandering while toiling away at your computer. A sweet lamb print would fit perfectly in nursery or a log print in a cozy living room or the streets and colors of Italy in your kitchen. I personally ordered the LOGS print to grace my walls. There is something so cozy and earthy about a stack of wood that will bring a bit of that feeling to my desk area.

If you’d like to win a 8x12 print of your choice from Kristina’s shop, simply leave a comment below letting me know which one you would chose if you won! Please be sure to enter a valid email address as that is how I’ll be contacting the winner. Also, if you’d like to earn extra entries, like Fotografie Kristina Koehler on Facebook and follow on Twitter and Instagram and then come back here and leave a separate comment for each letting me know you did. Giveaway will close on November 14th sometime in the evening US Eastern time. I will contact the winner via email. If I do not get a reply by November 17th, I'll draw a new winner.

With the holidays coming up, these would make great gifts. With that said, Kristina is also offering a coupon code BUCKALOO for 5% off your order through November!

This giveaway is now closed and the winner is comment #1: Ine!


Stitched Together

The amazing love that exists in the knitting community is truly impressive. I've experience it first hand, when a group of knitters made blocks for a comfort blanket after my Dad passed away earlier this year. Knitters are constantly stitching up love, whether on a personal, individual level (knitting gifts to keep friends and family warm and fashionable) or on a broader scope (knitting for community members in need.) Maria of Elegant Economy Knits is asking for a bit of love and support from the knitting community right now to benefit a family who lost their husband/father. She has designed a sweater pattern and all proceeds (after Paypal and Ravelry fees) will go directly to the mother and her four young children. It's called the Graceful Pullover and is inspired by the daughters' love of ballet. The Copper Corgi provided the yarn for this project and created an exclusive colorway, called "Pirouette."

Maria's goal is to have 1,000 patterns sold by the end of November. Please help her out by spreading the word, mentioning it on your blog, social media and adding it to you favorites or queue on Ravelry or better yet, purchasing a copy for yourself. I've already started one, seen above in Knit Picks Stroll Tonal, and am loving how it is coming together! 

Follow Maria and the progress of this fundraiser on Instagram @eleganteconomyknits

Monthly Sock Challenge : 3 of 12

Earlier in the year, Vibeke hosted a Color Swap. My partner was the lovely Anu who sent me a package packed full of gray colored treasures, including a skein of Knitlob's Lair yarn. I quickly scanned Ravelry for a pattern to suit the yarn and Kalajoki seemed like the perfect fit--a Finnish pattern for a Finnish yarn! Except, the pattern called for sport weight, not fingering. So, I abandoned the idea, investigated other patterns, but nothing felt right. I always have trouble getting gauge on smaller needles so, in the beginning of October, I decided to just experiment a bit and found that I might be able to make a lighter weight work. As I went on the fit wasn't quite right, the fabric was knitting up looser than a sock should be since I bumped up in needle size, but, again, I remained hopeful I could make it work. (Beside, the monthly deadline was approaching fast.) I was near the end of my second sock when I realized what was supposed to be the left foot was actually a second right foot! I took it as a sign and ripped out all my work and started fresh, on smaller needles, two-at-a-time (to be sure I was knitting a sock for each foot.) Plus, I'd rather have been late and missed my deadline than have a pair of socks that didn't fit right. I managed to finish these with a couple days to spare and have two (a right and a left) socks that I love. 

My November socks will be a gift pair in a (mercifully) bulky weight! Hopefully it helps me carve out a little extra knitting time to finish up other projects. And I'm impressed with all the socks you've been knitting up! They look so great! And I drew the winner of the first giveaway for a $25 Etsy gift card and it is Melissa. Keep submitting to the linky, in a couple months, I'll do another giveaway!

3 Questions : Fran

3 Questions is an interview-style series featuring some of my favorite bloggers. Every week, I ask one inspirational person 3 completely random questions and ask them to share three photos that represent Who they are, What they do or make and Where they feel the happiest.

Fran is a beautiful young woman living in the French Pyrenees where she crafts a slow life, treading lightly on the earth and appreciating the little things that make up her days. She forages, sews and spins wool from local sheep. (Sounds so dreamy, doesn't it!?) Fran lives with chronic health issues and has no doubt learned a slow life is the best approach. She also exudes a grace and appreciation that I find incredibly inspiring. I think we can all benefit from embracing a slow, intentional life. Her blog is always such a treat--squishy balls of hand spun wool, baskets of local flora, beautiful scenery and wise words from a deep-hearted woman.

Who do you think you are most like in your family? If we're talking looks, I'm the spitting image of my big brother. If it's character, then I'm most like my mum. But when I think about the course of my adult life so far, then I'd say I'm most like my paternal grandmother, Marguerite. One evening back in May, when I was over the UK visiting my family, my Pa pulled out a pile of old letters. The paper was yellowing at the edges and covered on each side in tiny, neat handwriting. When we looked at the date, we saw they were over sixty years old. All the letters were written in French and addressed to my grandma, sent from her father back in Switzerland. In the late thirties, aged only eighteen, she left her family and rural village in the foothills of the Alps near Lausanne to travel to Britain and work as anau pair. She started first in London before moving to Bristol (where I was a student) and finally settling in Dorset. Just after the war, she met my granddad and they set up home together beside the sea. Although she went back to visit her family for occasional holidays, she never returned to live in Switzerland. In that hour I spent with my own dad, unraveling the curly writing of my grandma's father, I felt incredibly close to her, and to her life story. It was comforting to read between the lines of her father's talk of the weather, the harvests and other banalities of daily life, to see the strength of their connection, despite the hundreds of miles between them.

What is the most generous gift you have ever received? If you follow my blog already, you'll know that I've lived with CFS/ME and Fibromyalgia since I was eleven years old. Living with these life-limiting conditions can at times be rather trying, not only for me, but also those I am closest to. There are good days and bad days, pyjama days and bed days. Sometimes I have periods of improved health when I can do things and sometimes I can be bed bound for weeks, if not months at a time. When I first fell ill, it wasn't just my own life that ground to a standstill, but that of my immediate family too. Within weeks, I was too poorly to leave my bed to wash and dress myself, let alone go to school. So my mum gave up her work as a secretary to stay at home and look after me. For a long time after, I was riddled with guilt at her decision. But in the past few years, I've started to be able to look back on those times we spent together differently. I no loner see her actions as a sacrifice but rather as a gift, one which I will treasure forever.

Who is your role model? No one individual in particular springs to mind. But I'm forever inspired by the seemingly "small" people who overcome "big" hurdles in their lives. People I have known personally who have faced adversity or tragedy with dignity and hope, or who have followed their convictions or dreams and made them a reality, no matter what stands in their way. I'm especially inspired by the busy and often unacknowledged women all around me who juggle many things, work hard in their chosen jobs, work hard to care for and love their families and friends, contribute to their local community, and just generally get things done...while having a laugh at the same time. I hope I am growing into a woman like them...

Be sure to check out Fran’s blog.

Click here to see all 3 Questions interviews.