One of the challenges I face in every house we have lived in has been having a place to craft and having a room to use for guests when more than two people come to visit at one time. We’ve always had a home with two guest bedrooms, but one of those bedrooms has always been full of a computer desk, sewing machine, craft cubbies, book shelves, etc. Usually squeezed in around the sides of a double bed. Too much stuff in too little space.
My dream has always been to have a studio/craft space, but my reality has been that we can only afford so much space and so far that extra room hasn’t been an option. Most of the time, the guest rooms are unused, so it seemed like a waste to try to have two bedrooms for guests that made about 1/3 of the house rarely used space. Our family is pretty spread out across the U.S. and the cost of travel keeps us from getting together as often as we would like. So we decided, after we retired, to make one bedroom into an office and craft room we could both use, but to try to figure out a way to do it so we could make room for a bed if needed. That led to lots of Pinteresting, but I think we have figured it out.
For some reason, changing knitting patterns has become a fascination for me. I have books and books of stitch patterns, all for flat knitting. I love circular knitting. I find myself spending hours on diagrams and charts, figuring out how to change a flat pattern to a circular pattern. Can you say 'glutton for punishment'?
The wrong side row has to be reversed and the stitches reversed...I love the challenge. Sometimes you have extra stitches used for spacing on a flat pattern that may or may not translate to a circular pattern.
I found a really useful book for all of this--Charts Made Simple: Understanding Knitting Charts Visually, by J. C. Blair. I highly recommend this book if you really want to get into designing knitting patterns. You should also use the Craft Yarn Council standards for knitting abbreviations or knitting symbols. There is also a great class on Craftsy--Pattern Writing for Knitters. Creating patterns is by far the most fun I have ever had!
Let me start by saying that I have not been paid to write this review, though if you click on the link above and buy it, I might earn a little bit. I just love this book!!
This is one of my favorite books, namely because of this hat pattern, but also because it has so many neat projects that work up quickly as gifts. I made this Pointy Elf Hat for my grandson, Isaac, when he was a baby. Now his mom is requesting a bigger one (toddler size). This one I knitted up in Lionbrand Hometown USA in San Diego Navy. The yarn used in the original pattern is no longer available, but is much nubbier than this and gives a very rustic look (very elfish). The pattern in the book is sized baby to large adult, so anyone can have an elf hat.
The book is divided into chapters by how long it takes to make something--2-4 hours, 4-6 hours, 6-8 hours and more than 8 hour gifts, which helps if you are in a time crunch. There is also a nice section at the end for wrapping home made gifts with home made wrappings and embellishments, plus sources for supplies.
In the less than 2-hour gifts section, you have patterns for a Reusable Hot Coffee-cup Sleeve, Holiday Ornament, Pointy Elf Hat, Pyramid Sachet, Seed-stitch Bracelet, and Linen-stitch Bookmark.
In the 2-4 hour gifts, you have patterns for Soft Baskets (next on my list), Movie Star Scarf (also on my list), Baby Socks (very easy--used it, loved it), Baby Bonnet, Big Lace Scarf, and Family Ribbed Hats (an easy ribbed pattern with sizes for everybody and variations give for different yarns).
The 4-6 hour gift section has Sideways Fingerless Gloves (on my list), Cozy Coasters, Huggable House (sort of a house shaped pillow), Kelly's Mittens, Spiral Seat Cushion and Easy Baby Cardigan (also in the near future-two versions suitable for boy or girl).
The 6-8 hour gifts includes a Beret (which I knitted from Lionbrand baby Alpaca and it turned out beautiful), Kid's Vest, Dreaming of Spring Fingerless Gloves, Very Pretty Lace Scarf, Nesting Squares Baby Blanket/Play Mat, and Cozy, Comfy Pullover (in child's size 2 to men's large or women's 2x large--adding it to my list of things to knit).
More than 8 hour gifts has an Entrelac Baby Blanket, Soft as a Cloud Cowl (three variations), Men's Zip Up Vest, Toe-up Socks, Leah's Lovely Cardigan, and Bright Stripes Blanket.
This has become one of my go-to books for gifts of any kind because of the variety and the estimation of time (very important). Granted, not everyone knits the same, but at least you have an idea of whether it will take a weekend or a week.
Title: Growing Food in the Southwest Mountains, 3rd ed
Author: Lisa Rayner
Illustrator: Zackery Zdinak
Paperback: 113 plus appendices, 128 pages total
Price: approximately $12.95
As a newbie to permaculture and mountain gardening, this book has become my go-to source in my quest to turn our rocky mountain in southern New Mexico into a small homestead. We have 5 acres, most of it tilted, with dense clay soil and an acre of gravel right around the house. Good for a fire break,which we need, but ugly and pretty sterile. I have a big collection of books for gardening in the south, but they just don’t work here. However, when I found this little book, Growing Food in the Southwest Mountains, I started in an entirely new direction with gardening.
The author, Lisa Rayner, gardens in Flagstaff, which is a climate very similar to ours. That is what prompted me to buy the book in the first place-it was for a niche that I could certainly identify with. The book is written specifically for gardening above 6,500 feet in Arizona, New Mexico, Southern Colorado, and Southern Utah, using permaculture techniques. This region is challenging for a variety of reasons--soils low in organic matter, semi-arid dry land with 25 inches or less of rainfall, strong sunlight, large day-night temperature changes, frequent high winds, and a collection of garden devouring varmints like you would not believe. I think they must be ravenous for succulent greens because it is so dry, with humidity often less than 10%. We had deer and rabbits in Texas, but they never descended on my garden like these four-legged swarms of locusts. We also have a real monsoon season, which you have to make the best of because the rest of the year can be pretty dry and water is precious.
I think Lisa does a good job of addressing specific issues like high altitude sunlight, planting time tables, cold climate gardening, water conservation, building healthy soil and sheltering from wind. The appendices includes a glossary of lesser known food crops and a comprehensive list of resources for southwestern gardeners and for permaculture. Other permaculture books give much more detail about homestead permaculture methods, but do not address the specific challenges of gardening above 6,500 feet. I like this book because it addresses my particular niche very specifically. Well worth the money if you live in the mountains of the southwest, in my humble opinion.
I have no connection to the editor or the publisher and was not paid in any way for this review. It is my personal opinion, good, bad or indifferent.
I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 1982 and have been gluten free ever since. I went dairy free two years ago. I share recipes, DIY projects and crafts, gardening tips, life philosophies and thoughts on this blog. This is just my story. In no way should it be taken as medical advice because every individual is different. There are also a few affiliate links for products I use and recommend. I make a tiny amount of money if you buy something and it in no way changes the price you pay.
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