. . . but I'm still here. I've been caught up in the back to school, back to routine part of the year. I am also back to work, after three long months without income producing projects. And, with all the busy-ness going on around here, my kids have had a little less time to do the goofy stuff that usually prompts me to post.
Mostly, for now, there are just the bits and bobs to catch up on. In my last post, I lamented the criminal absence of chocolate chip cookies from my house. This was temporarily rectified, but now I'm out of cookies again and missing them terribly. This is no way to live. I suppose I could go to the store and buy some cookies, but after such a long abstinence, I might eat them all at once and that wouldn't be good either. Making cookies is out of the question. For starters, I don't have chocolate chips right now (never mind buying them, I would just eat them right up) and if I were to bake cookies, not only would I eat too many of them, but I would also eat too much of the raw dough. Feh. I'll just have to drink my coffee and eat some healthy snacks. Whoopee.
In a slightly less recent post, I admitted a temporary defeat in the construction of the chicken coop. The chickens survived the additional week (while we were on vacation) in their giant cardboard box, and then the day after we got home, I busted a move and framed and enclosed the new chicken run. I was tired and a bit cranky (coughravinglunaticcough) by the end of it, but at least I have this to show for my efforts:
Not exactly Better Homes & Gardens material, but good enough for my new birds.
Even if they are the stupidest chickens ever born.
The first day we put them in, they refused to go outside. Never mind that they had been planning wild and creative jail breaks for the last three weeks that they were living in the garage. Once they were in their new digs, they decided that the great outdoors really wasn't their cup of tea. Initially, we put their food and water under the coop so that the would feel compelled to venture out. Nothing doing. They stayed inside and tried to eat the wood shavings and convince us that they could stay hydrated by absorbing the moisture from the air.
The first bird to go outside got there by accident. Or maybe she was pushed, but the only reason that she left the coop was because she fell out. There was a squawk and a lot of flapping, and suddenly there was a bird on the grass, standing as still as a statue and pretending she wasn't really there. She was motionless for a good 15 minutes before she decided that it was safe to look around. It took another 20 minutes before she left the spot where she landed, and even then she seemed to think stealth was required. Eventually, the other birds made their way out of the coop. This was fine, except that they refused to go back in again. They found their food and water and decided to camp out for the night under the coop. Forget my painstakingly assembled coop, forget the clever roost I made for them. They wanted to sleep on the grass next to the fencing. Even the coyotes digging around the run were not enough to convince them to go to sleep inside the coop.
After the first one vanished from the pen, we decided some intervention was required. We fixed the hole in the fence and moved the food and water inside the coop and now they sleep inside at night. They still haven't figured out the roost, though. They prefer to camp on the floor of the coop, huddled right up next to the door that we use for refilling their food.
Vacation was insanely beautiful. We went to Lake Warren in Alstead, New Hampshire. The sun shone and the days were warm (85 degrees every day, no lie) and it was the perfect way to spend a week at a lake. We did a lot of kayaking and swimming and we took hikes and picked wild blueberries and even visited an operational fire tower, where the view was spectacular.
We returned from vacation rested and relaxed and almost (but not quite) ready to go back to school.
Alstead, it turns out, is smack in the center of a mini knitting/spinning/weaving triangle. I did not plan this. Fifteen miles to the west was the place where they make Golding Ring Spindles. Twenty-five miles south west was the Green Mountain Spinnery. And, maybe 20 miles to the south east was Harrisville Designs. I (really I should say we, since the spindle belongs to Isabel even if she never uses it) already have a Golding spindle and had no intention of purchasing another, so I didn't feel right going there and interrupting the working day of such a small business. I didn't realize how close Harrisville was, which is just as well because they are the manufacturers of that sweet little loom I was lusting after when Isabel finished weaving camp and really it was much safer not to let me get too close to one that might be available for purchase. But I've had my eye on Green Mountain Spinnery from the time that I mapped out the trip to Alstead. I've got their pattern books, I drool over their yarns; it was really too much to expect me to be so close to the actual spinnery without visiting. So, on the one slightly drizzly day we had, we packed everyone up and made the pilgrimage. The mill is much smaller than you would imagine. The machinery is lined up in the absolute minimum amount of space you could possibly allow for it and the retail shop is smaller than my bathroom. But who cares. The people stopped what they were doing and gave us a tour of the mill, and then I spent an hour poking through the yarns and picking out four colors of Mountain Mohair to be used for hats.
As a bonus, they were selling mill end singles on cones at a dollar an ounce (processed but unspun fiber costs me at least $2 per ounce). I picked up a few cones for plying experiments. Wheee!
And in knitting news, I can actually report some progress.
First up, my half-stranded socks from Magnificent Mittens and Socks. I started these as part of a class that I took in June with my friend Knitting Deb. She is a great teacher and a lot of fun, and between chitchat and snack breaks, she managed to show me how to make these things. The construction is very weird at first, because you knit a little bitty skinny strip, which becomes the very tippy toe of the sock. You pick up stitches along one side of the strip and knit the top of the sock in two colors, which involved the thoroughly evil (but mercifully brief) task of purling in two colors. Then, after you've knit enough to cover the top of your foot, you go back to the tippy toe part and pick up stitches along the other side of the toe strip so you can knit the bottom of the sock, this time in just one color. Along the way, you do some terribly clever decreasing that joins the top and bottom halves and eventually you turn the heel and go back to knitting in the round. There seem to be a lot of steps, but they go fairly quickly once you actually sit down to knit. In my case, I had abandoned these socks soon after the class in favor of some other projects. When I packed them in my bag for the drive to New Hampshire, I was just past the heel turn on both socks. I finished the first sock on the drive to NH, and the second sock on the next day. They fit like gloves, except on my feet of course. The only drawback is that the yarn is a sport weight and has a pretty well defined twist to it. It feels just slightly bumpy underfoot. But I still love them.
Next up was my February Lady Sweater. I loved the yarn, particularly the color, but I'm really glad this is done. I made the tactical error of also knitting the February Baby Sweater for a new cousin of ours, and I was ready to be done knitting this particular lace pattern before I was more than a few repeats into the body. Still, I am in full sweater mode right now, and the FLS was all that was standing between me and permission to start the next sweater, and so it got done.
February Lady Sweater, complete with weaving implements.
February Baby Sweater with cute heart buttons. It has finally been mailed off to the new baby, who is not so new any more. I hope she has not outgrown it, and that her mother doesn't hate this particular shade of purple.
My finished FLS is pictured with three stick shuttles and a pick up stick that I bought at the Finger Lakes Fiber Festival this year. I did not buy one single other thing at the festival. No yarn, no fiber, no fleece. Are you impressed with my discipline? Don't be. I'm saving the spending for the NYS Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck. I leave in 23 days, 11 hours, and about 40 minutes for my one day on the town with my friend Regular Deb. I have two weaving-related tools on my shopping list, and then we'll see what little surprises hop into my shopping basket. One side effect of all the work that I have lined up for this fall is that I feel --all at the same time--virtuous, deserving, and in need of a little fibery compensation for all my hours of labor. I like to think of it as my way of supporting the ailing economy.
Above is my current weaving project. I did finish a different project using a waffle weave, but I used only one color of yarn and it turned out looking the same color as split pea soup. Not that I don't love split pea soup, but I find the color less than inspiring and I refuse to take a picture of it.
I got tired of the loom taking up space on my tables, so I nailed a peg rack to the wall and hung the loom on it. It is easy to get to, out of the way, and less likely to fall victim to the whole out of sight, out of mind phenomenon. The yarn on there is some crochet cotton that has been cluttering up my "studio" (hahahaha. I have to laugh every time I say that. You can too, if you want) for a few years. I like the whole plaid thing, but I'm ready to move on to something a little more organized.
And, voila! See these books? I have found a way to keep my floor loom lust in abeyance. These books are all about making cool patterns on your rigid heddle loom. There is a ton of stuff to try, and when you combine all those options with the facts that (1) the RH loom is much easier to set up and (2) I already own the damn thing (unlike the $1K floor loom I was swooning over), I should be good to go for a few more years.
Spinning has taken a back seat to all the knitting that has been going on around here. But, I did bring my spindle on vacation and I managed to finish up a bunch of stuff:
BFL spun and plied on my turkish spindle; it only took me a year to finish this. I didn't particularly enjoy the experience and I suspect that the turkish spindle and I might not have been made for one another.
Silk spun from hankies. Lots of pre-drafting involved. Not sure I'll be doing a lot more of this.
More silk, spun but not yet plied. My hands ache just remembering this project.
Mystery fiber spun on my Bosworth. It wants to be a very fine yarn and I'm not fighting it. The only drawback it that it takes longer to spin that many more yards and I don't seem to be in any particular hurry to get this done.
Not that this post isn't long enough already, but I caught Sophie hunkered down in one of my baskets today and thought that she needed a few minutes of fame. She looks very stern, doesn't she?