Yarn Along – 09/25/2013

I admit, I have made very little progress this week….

This week, I am reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog, I read half of the book over the weekend and I really like it so far.  🙂

On my Yurt Throw, I only finished one and a half square 😦  The square I am currently working on will complete all of the Navy squares.


Here is the overall pattern and progress so far:


I used up all of the rest of the baby alpaca yarn for my husband’s Stormy Scarf and the new yarn I purchased to finish the project just arrived last night.  I started with 3 skiens, and had to by two more.  This scarf just uses the cable pattern from Cable Guy form the Son of a Stitch N’ Bitch book.Here is the scarf so far:SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Yarn Along 09/11/2013

This week, I am reading A Dirty Job and I am STILL working on my Yurt Throw.


I did not get any time to post last week, but I also did not make much progress last week either, there was just too much going on a work, not time to knit.  I am almost done with all of the mustard squares.


Here is my progress/pattern so far:


Yarn Along & Cable Needle Substitution 8/28/2013

This week, I am reading Lolita and I am STILL working on my patchwork blanket, I have a feeling I’ll be doing this for a long time.  IMG_20130828_085959_991

I keep having to re-work this pattern because I found that I can only get 2 squares for every skein, not 2.5.

So, my current plan (and progress) is:


This week, while I was knitting I misplaced my cable needle.  I looked everywhere, but I could not find it.  But I did find something that is easily found around our house…one of Tom’s golf tees. And it worked great!  Had to share, I thought it was pretty funny!


Long Time No Post

Work has been crazy!!!! To many projects going on at the same time!  So what (other than work) have I been up to?  Island stuff of course!  🙂

Until this spring, the island only had two types of trees…Silver Maples and Black Walnut.  So this spring, we planted a bunch of fruit trees (apple, cherry, peach, plum, pear and apricot).  I may have to remove some black walnut trees from near the fruit trees….I have been told that silver maple is one of the few trees that can survive near black walnut trees (they put out toxin into the soil around them).  So far, so good.  The peach tree has peaches on it already!  🙂

We took Friday and Tuesday off around Memorial day, so we have 5 whole days on the island!!!!  I spend one whole day pulling out nettles….I HATE those plants (they sting) !

Now we are finally on to building on the island.  First up…a bathroom please!!  I was torn on this one for a long time….do we put in a septic system or go with an outhouse or a composting toilet.  Well, after reading that a septic tank has to be pumped out from time to time, I thought it was a bad idea…I don’t think any company can get to an island to pump it!  Our last trip to St. Martin, we stayed in a cabin that had a outhouse on the side, and I hated the way that smelled!  And composting toilets have to be emptied out….gross!  So I found one more solutions….a tree bog!!!  It is a composting toilet that you NEVER have to clean out!  Basically, you build an outhouse that is at least 3 feet up off the ground.  Underneath, you have hay, wood chips and/or ashes and around the outhouse, you plant willows and other nutrient hungry plants.  The waste from the outhouse falls into the wood chips below and turns into compost for the willows!  Just add more wood chips/ashes after using the outhouse.  I hope this does not smell like a outhouse smells….  Also to help with the smell, we are building the outhouse with cedar siding 🙂

So to get materials to the island was a challenge…we had to boat it in…

It took three trips to get everything over!

So far, we rented a pole digger,

it was difficult to use….on our first try, it got stuck and we had to dig it out.  We found that adding water as we went helped a lot….

and used 8′ long 4x4s that we place 4′ feet into the ground) and added some support of 2x4s around the structure and have the  floor in place.

I have the frames completed for all the walls except the one with the window, Menard’s did not have the window in stock last weekend, and I wanted to wait to put the frame together until I could see the window actually fits i the space.

After working very hard (and getting very sore), the last thing  I wanted to do was cook, so we ordered a pizza…and they delivered!!!  We just had take the boat and meet them across the river.  AWESOME!

Last weekend I also found the biggest spider ever on the island..huge and creepy…..he was as long as a D battery!  I was in the tent and he crawled up the screen (on the outside thank goodness), so I got his picture:

But other than the work and the spider, it was a great long weekend on the island!

Tom caught a big catfish

We had a huge bonfire

The dog had a great time….she love the mud and the boat

Heading back there this morning for more work and play!

The Dead Zone – “It’s alive!”

Last weekend, Tom & I did a lot of gardening to add some life to the dead zone.  I built the planters from y previous post.  I think the came out pretty good!

I am so excited, some of the plants that I was sure died last year are coming back.  I the top right corner of the picture above are Geraniums!  They died off completely last year, but the Geraniums in another area of the courtyard stayed green all winter, so I was sure these were goners.  But there they are! Last year my mother-in-law wanted to get rid of some ferns (score- free plants).  They turned brown and dies after the transplantation, but they are popping up this spring!


Here is the work on the planters.  They are both constructed with 2×6’s and 2×2’s.

For the larger planter, we cut 6 pieces of  2×6’s at 5′ each, 6 pieces at 2′ and four pieces of the 2×2 at 16″ for the inner corners.

For each of the smaller planter, we cut 4 pieces of  2×6’s at 2,5′ each, 4 pieces at 1,5′ and four pieces of the 2×2 at 10.5″ for the inner corners.

A little stain goes a long way!  I love the color 🙂

We cut holes in the back of the planter to run a soak house through the planter so no watering will be required.  I filled the planters with some bulbs that like shade, I hope they come up soon.

I also got new stones for a path back to the bird feeder by the planters.

Heidi likes gardening, it means she gets to hang out outside all day!


Today, I am planing on adding some more dirt to the planters (there has been some settling), planing more seeds on the roof, and plant morning glory seeds along the fence.  If I get the time, I have more stones for a path back to the hose.  It would be nice not to have to walk through the plants and dirt every time you need to get the hose!

I will have re-post when all the planters are up!



The Island

Last June, I got married.  One month later, we bought a small island in the Rock River in Illinois.  We both love camping, boating, fishing and the outdoors so this little property seemed like a perfect fit for us. And it is so nice to get out of the city on the weekends.  This island is only a 2-2.5 hour drive from home.  The island is long and skinny, but has 7.5 acres.  🙂  Tom wants to name the island Elizabeth Anne Island (after me) which is fitting.  The island next door is Margret Fuller Island.

The south end of the island overlooks the dam.  What a great view.

The north end of the island is shallow and you can walk across to another island that is owned by the state.  There is also a fallen tree and a  beaver dam between the two islands.

Here is the secret back entrance to the beaver’s house.


The island has lots of trees, but only silver maple and black walnut.

Most of the trees have holes in them….I love that.  I want to add little doors!


And a lot of the island is just mud or stinging needles where ever there is shade ….that plant seems to thrive on the island  😦  Those plants are MEAN…you brush against them and you are suddenly So itchy!!!

The west side of the island gets a little more sun, so there there was a lot of plants and bushes (and stinging needles) that were over 4 feet tall.  So I cut a path so you can now walk the whole island.

The island has been left to nature for about 40 years from what we were told, so the trees are huge and there is a lot of garbage and sticks that have washed up onto the island over the years.

There was a shed of some kind on the island once, the remains of it were still there. A tree fell on it!

The island does have some raccoons, we have seen the tracks.  They seem to be digging up some clams. to eat and they leave the shells laying around.


An island does pose certain challenges. There is not power or bathroom (yet).  We also know that there must have been power of some mind on the island once, because there are two old refrigerators still on the island near the shed remains.  We were also told the island floods every spring, so building any cabin is also a problem.  But we have so many ideas for this place.

So last year, we built a dock using these plans



and a picnic table from a kit

and we started clearing some of the old garbage and sticks and planted some grass that can survive in deep shade. We are really hoping the grass may take over a little an push out some of the stinging needles.  At least on the area we tent in!  We also added a solar power motion detection light by the dock.  It comes on as soon as you walk out on to the dock at night.

This year we are planting some different types of trees an adding some shade friendly plants like hostas.  For construction, we want to  build an outhouse, an outdoor shower and either a yurt or a tree house.


I think we are leaning toward the tree house so it would be up high and out of the flood plain. Tom found some building plans for little houses/cabins that are made out of pallets.  The site shows these can be completed in a few days!  So far I think this is our favorite of all the cabin ideas.  Build a platform in the trees like any tree house, then use pallets to build the tree house up quickly.



Here are some more great pictures from the island form last year.