Posted in notions, Other Crafts, Pattern, Ravelry knit projects, yarn

Flowers in the Snow Blanket

Flowers in the Snow Blanket

I’m an excellent knitter. I love knitting. If I could knit all day long I would. But instead, I’m crocheting. I’m crocheting the Flowers in the Snow Blanket. I love it but I find it is not as comfortable or easy on my hands as knitting. It’s probably because as a newer crocheter I haven’t found the perfect way to hold my yarn and hook.

Why am I crocheting instead of knitting anyway? The simple answer is I fell in love with the FLowers in the Snow Blanket on Ravelry. It’s sort of a granny square with a circle center. It’s circles inside of squares. And that really makes my eyes happy.

Color Palette

When I decided to crochet the Flowers in the Snow Blanket I knew I wanted to knit this as a cotton/wool blend and I was able to find Brown Sheep Company’s Cotton fleece. I purchased this at one of my LYS’s, Yarn Matters. I’ve used this yarn before and absolutely loved working with it so I  was eager to do so again. I also think this yarn would be great for a sweater.

There are so many colors to chose from in the Cotton Fleece. I went back and forth. Back and forth. Rainbow? Blues and greens? Pastels? Rainbow!?!

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Posted in Chickens

Introducing Coco and Dottie

I’ve decided to introduce two of our most prolific egg layers together. Chuck regularly refers to them as “The Twins” or “The Leghorns” so if figured why not. These are the 2nd and 3rd chickens we got in spring 2018. They are White Leghorns and lay white eggs almost every day. We picked them up at the same time and while we don’t know if they are in fact related there’s a strong possibility they are.

As you would expect of a chicken breed called White Leghorn they are all white, except for their very red combs and wattles. Coco is actually bigger than her “twin” Dottie. Admittedly it’s hard to tell unless they are next to one another.

You will notice in the photo that the chicken on the left is larger, this is Coco, the chicken on the right is, therefore, Dottie. Also if you notice Coco has purple shoulders. I have sprayed her shoulders with something called Blu-Kote [intended for wounds to help fight bacteria as well as disguise the wound further protecting it] in order to help differentiate them for quick identification.

Coco the Crabby Chicken

If you’ve spent any time at all watching chickens you know how they are very individual, each with their own little quirks. Coco is one of those chickens with definite quirks. Both Leghorns are bossy, pushy and first in line. Whether it’s to get out of the run to free-range, get their chicken scratch or snacks, they are always first.

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Posted in Instagram, Our House


This is a pretty busy time of year for us on the Hretz Homestead. We’ve added 7 new chicks to our backyard flock. All the seedlings have been planted. The flower beds have been extended, as have the gardens. An additional two truckloads of mulch dispersed. Plus planted new flowers and 10 tiny trees. If you want to know more about garden prep and such, check out my previous garden post here.

Lantanas are some of my favorite flowers we have planted. The flowers themselves are tiny clusters of fairy size bouquets. I prefer the yellow and pink variegated ones but they also come in other colors and solids as well. These plants get big and bushy with flowers all summer long.

We first had these in New Mexico, where they came back every spring. In Virginia it must be too cold so I had to replace them all. I guess that simply makes them an annual.

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product or service with the links that I provide I may receive a small commission. There is no additional charge to you! Thank you.

A Rose by any other Name

We also added lots of roses this year. Some were found on Craigslist for a cost of digging them up ourselves. This added about 8 new-to-us-roses to the flower bed behind the house.

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Posted in knitting, Pattern, Ravelry knit projects, yarn

Bayside Garter Lace Pullover

Knitting sweaters, any clothing really, isn’t for the fly-by-night knitter. It takes planning, measuring, organization, skill and time. Lots of time. Especially when you are knitting with thin yarn and small needles for a plus size gal.

I started this sweater just as I had finished my January Gansey Sweater and after I went to Marie Greene’s class on sweaters to promote her book, Seamless Knit Sweaters in less than Two Weeks. Although, I definitely have not finished this sweater in two weeks.

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product or service with the links that I provide I may receive a small commission. There is no additional charge to you! Thank you.

More about the Yarn

I chose to use Cascade Roslyn which is a DK weight with 383 yards per 100g skein. I’m sure that means nothing to you if you’re not a knitter, but trust me, it’s a nice light yarn made from a blend of wool and silk. It has a classy tweed look to it. The color of my yarn is a light denim color leaning slightly turquoise from the silk. This yarn gets even softer as you wear and wash it.

#cascadeyarns #roslyn #wool #silk #yarn #cascadeyarnsroslyn #knitter #knit #knitting

I’ve used this yarn to make swatch samples, this is my first time for an actual whole project. I really like knitting with it.

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Quick Bird Watch Update

Lots of busy work going on here at the Hretz homestead. Chuck and Tim have fully planted our gardens. Also, all our flowers are in. I’m generally on flower-power and chicken duty while the men do the grass and food production. This works well for us.

House Finches

Today is touching base on the birds. We have seen the first round of House Finches come and go. The 2nd round had an unfortunate nest collapse leaving all the eggs smashed on the front porch. the third set of finches have a very full nest with 6 eggs. which in my experience is l larger brood.

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Posted in Chickens, Nature

Bird Watch 2019

Bird watch 2019 has officially begun. Nesting is in full swing and the set of eggs have been laid.

Our neighborhood, Queen’s Lake has Bird Sanctuary signs posted as you enter. And I have seen more varieties of birds in our yard than anywhere else I have lived. Also, this neighborhood happens to back up to New Quarter Park.

New Quarter Park has many amazing walking trails. The park is a 545-acre preserve. There are mature woodlands and open meadows, which offers a diverse habitat that supports a variety of plants and animals. I had not realized until I googled a link for the park that it sits on a bluff of fossil shells. Another really interesting thing about the area is the surrounding tidal creeks and marshes.

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Posted in knitting, Ravelry knit projects

Oliveknits January Gansey

I’ve finished my January Gansey sweater by Oliveknits. It took me longer than the 8 weeks that the Knit A Long ran but I’m OK with that.

Marie Greene

Marie Green is the woman behind Oliveknits. She is a knitwear designer with lots of sweater designs under her belt. She currently is touring the country doing talks and book signing for Seamless Sweaters in Two Weeks. I was lucky enough to get a spot during her stop here in Williamsburg.

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Posted in Chickens, Homesteading, Nature

Garden Prepping

Garden prepping is in full swing here. My husband Chuck has started his seedlings. We moved some existing plants, planted last year from the front gardens, into different gardens in our backyard to protect them from deer. If I had realized the deer would be a problem I would’ve done more research when we started revamping last year. And of course, the chickens are doing their part turning over all beds in prep for planting.

Other Garden Prepping

We dug out flowers from neighbors who were looking to thin or remove perennials. Then planted them into our gardens In addition, we have reworked some of the garden beds from last year. We made some larger and added another new bed. We are trying to make the beds curved in such a way as to accommodate our riding lawnmowers ability to navigate with ease.

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Posted in Blogging

Agnes the Ameraucana

Today I’ll be introducing you to Agnes the Ameraucana. I’d like to tell you about her as an individual chicken. You will learn a bit about her personality, appearance, and eggs.

I spend quite a bit of time observing and interacting with my chickens. It was important to me from the very beginning that my chickens were comfortable being handled and around people. I felt this was important for both their health and safety.

Agnes the Ameraucana

Ameraucana was my number one chicken breed request. Ameraucanas are usually friendly, they lay blue eggs and are a medium size at 4-5lbs.

But who is Agnes the Ameraucana? To start, Agnes was the very first chicken I chose. We got her and all our current chickens at Jamestown Feed & Seed. She was brown with darker stripes, she was running around in the pen with the other chicks, she was very active. Agnes was one of two Ameraucanas we picked up on March 23rd, 2017.

Agnes the Ameraucana chicken #chickens #chicks #chooks #backyardchickens #backyardpoultry #ameraucana #hens #homesteading #raisingchickens
Agnes on the left and Beatrice on the right, both Ameraucanas

When I picked these chicks I purposely chose two very different colors. I was new to chickens and wasn’t sure how a chick would look compared to the adult, fully feathered, chicken. I wanted to see how each color chick changed as it grew. Jamestown Feed & Seed only had two colors available, there are eight colors in the Ameraucana breed.

If you are interested in some early blog posts on our chickens be sure to see this post and this post.

Agnes as an Indivual

Agnes the Americauna is as advertised very friendly, she always checks to find out if I brought treats and is one of the first to take food from my hands. However, as soon as the food hits the ground she prefers to peck it from there. This is probably why she is so busy, always looking for bugs and any other food she can find.

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Agnes is a bit of a loner. She tends to find a spot a bit off from the others to get her scratch in the mornings. She also will often be on her own when free ranging. Agnes likes to find spots under bushes or along the back flower bed to forage for bugs and tasty plants when free-ranging.

Though Agnes is always ready to come running to me when I come out of the house she is the last to arrive as she is farther off in her foraging. She doesn’t want to miss the guaranteed snacks I might be offering.

I often give them Grubblies or mealworms and Chicken Chew from my hands to encourage friendliness. Often they get kitchen scraps and fresh sprouts as well. And I want them to come to me when I call for safety reasons, too.

My favorite Feature

I love Agnes’ little cheeks. She has what I think are referred to as Muffs. Tufts id feathers on either side of her beak giving the appearance of chubby cheeks. Makes me want to pinch her sweet little cheeks like a Grandma.

Agnes the Ameraucana chicken #chickens #freerange #chooks #backyardchickens #backyardpoultry #ameraucana #hens #homesteading #raisingchickens #whatmychickenseat #whatifeedmychickens

The feathers on this sweet little hen are a beautiful mix of browns, many of the feathers have a golden center that almost sparkle in the sunlight.

Agnes the Ameraucana chicken #chickens #freerange #fresheggs #chicks #chooks #eggs #backyardchickens #backyardpoultry #ameraucana #hens #homesteading #raisingchickens #whatmychickenseat #whatifeedmychickens

Agnes’ Eggs

Ameraucanas are bred to have the blue egg gene. I was especially excited to have blue eggs in our egg basket. I have three blue egg layers, Agnes is one of them, the other are Kittie and Louise.

What I didn’t anticipate was that Agnes, our oldest chicken, would be the very last to start laying eggs. She absolutely was. In fact, she Introducing her very first egg on Christmas Day! Her eggs tend to be a medium size egg, just slightly smaller than the other two blue eggs I get from Kittie and Louise. Her eggs also tend to be smoother almost shiny compared to the other two.

Agnes the Ameraucana chicken #chickens #freerange #fresheggs #eggs #backyardchickens #backyardpoultry #ameraucana #hens #homesteading #raisingchickens #whatmychickenseat #whatifeedmychickens

How we named our Chickens

As I’m introducing you to our chickens I thought you’d want to know how we decided to name our chickens.

The chicks were named in alphabetical order as they came to our home. Not all the chicks came on the same day but rather spread out over a few weeks. Therefore, you know Agnes the Ameraucana was the very first chicken simply by her name!

As I planned and researched in preparation to get chickens I decided we would refer to them as The Ladies. I wanted to verbally separate them from the dogs who we refer to as The Girls all the time. Going along with the Ladies idea I felt that old fashioned names would suit them very nicely. You might say they all have “Old Ladies” names.

Agnes the Ameraucana Pin It for later

Agnes the Ameraucana chicken #chickens #freerange #fresheggs #chicks #chooks #eggs #backyardchickens #backyardpoultry #ameraucana #hens #homesteading #raisingchickens #whatmychickenseat #whatifeedmychickens

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Agnes. Should I do a full series of chicken introductions? Let me know in the comments. Have any questions?

Happy chickens.

Posted in knitting, Pattern

Little Knit Hats

Quite a few years ago I worked up a bunch of little knit hats. I had so many people ask me for the pattern for them. I quickly wrote down what I did. Periodically people still ask me for the pattern. I decided it was time to write out a proper pattern, originally I had posted this on my blog in 2008.

This pattern doesn’t take much yarn, any leftover sock yarn works great. It’s fun to take an hour or so to knit one of these wee hats up for a Barbie or other loved toys and make a child very happy. I knit this hat for my nephew’s little dog when he was here visiting from MIchigan.

Knit little hats #hats #knit #knitting #knithats #little #knitter #knitallthethings #barbieclothes #barbie  #dog #toys
I knit this a little larger than my pattern is written, casting on 30 stitches

You can easily find my pattern via Ravelry here if you should like to add it to your library, queue it or add it to your project page. It’s also at the bottom of this post.

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