Thursday, November 14, 2013

Let There Be Chickens

My how they've grown!

Here they are in their new digs, which were cobbled together in a hurry when their deluxe indoor accommodations started to stink beyond what I could tolerate.  Now they live in the garage inside an old dog crate that has been wrapped in cardboard (including their old box, so they shouldn't feel too uprooted) and tootsed up with some perches that we made from scrap lumber and an old cucumber trellis.


You can see from the picture that we are, unfortunately, down to five chicks.  When last we discussed chickens, we were concerned that one of our chicks did not seem to be growing at all. Poor Tiny peeped and squirmed for most of that first weekend while we tried to get her to drink and eat, but in the end there was nothing we could do.

In the mean time, the remaining chickens are suitably ridiculous, which is why we love them.



They are on their way to becoming handsome birds, but for now they look a bit like vultures since their necks and heads have not yet feathered out.


See what I mean?

Lest you fear that I will let you escape without your dose of knitting, here is a little lovey that I made to send out with last month's baby cardigan.  This is not for the baby, however; it is for the new big sister so that she doesn't have to feel entirely left out of all the gift-showering that tends to accompany new babies.


And last, for your viewing pleasure, some natural works of art.


The first one is how, after an extremely stormy night, we started the first morning in November.  We were actually treated to three rainbows, all in the same morning, but I was driving when we spotted the other two and picture taking seemed contraindicated.

This last picture falls into the category of unintended art:


Does anyone else see the face of Bambi-- or maybe Brother Fox-- in this paint-by-numbers-ish chunk of bark? I came across it on my walk last week.  Tempted as I was to bring it home and hang it by the coop to see if it would freak out the chickens, I thought it might be better to leave it for others to enjoy, which I hope they did.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Loot

It's one of those days when I would sell most of my children for a not-entirely-unreasonable price, the messy, bickering ingrates.

Since I'm pretty sure this would be the Wrong Thing to do, my Bailey's and I have taken refuge in my office where I can temper my aggravation with a teensy bit of alcohol and a soothing selection of new-to-me fiber and toys.

First up, the pokey stuff.

Below are a flick carder and a brand spankin' new Zoom Loom, both of which, as you can clearly see, I have already been using.


They were the only items on my Reallyreallyreally Want To Find it at Rhinebeck list.  I found them around lunch time at the giant and very crowded Carolina Homespun booth, which is usually a good place to find tools.  I almost didn't see the ZL, even though I thought I was searching very carefully for it.  I found the flick carder at the far end of the booth, after I had (I thought) shopped the rest of the store.  So I got into line and waited.  And waited. And waited.  Did I mention it was crowded?  There were some wireless issues, too.  And only one register. And A LOT of people.  While I was waiting, my view was limited to the other booths, the back of the nice lady in front of me, and a display of little bitty stuff that I wasn't interested in.  It wasn't until I was at the register--25 minutes later-- that I could finally see into the booth again.  Whereupon I beheld the long sought after ZL.  Not that I could reach it from my place in the line.  I nearly passed out at the thought of standing in that line again to pay for the ZL.  And, as nice as they seemed on the surface, I wasn't entirely sure that, if I stepped out of line for a second to grab the loom, the people behind me would not just swarm the register and conveniently forget they had ever seen me.    Just in time, though, my head cleared and my panic subsided enough for me to realize that I could ask the cashier to charge me for the loom and then go get it.  Which is exactly what I did, and just as well. I did not see either of my prizes in any other booth, although that doesn't mean much given the crowds (impossible to see through) and the fact that we skipped almost half of the barns this year.

Next up is a jar of hand lotion, which I did mean to get, and a skein of Shelter, which is well on its way to becoming a cabled hat.


And last, the soft and fluffy fiber.


In spite of my perpetual claim that I have more than enough fiber, in the end it was inconceivable to me that I might leave Rhinebeck without buying more. I came across this naturally dyed Corriedale at Handspun by Stefania and developed a major crush on that particular shade of yellow (dyed in chamomile). I didn't buy it right away, since I have more than enough fiber, but I also didn't see any other shades of yellow quite that appealing, and just before the festival closed I went back for it and two of its friends (madder + indigo and fustic + indigo).

And that, aside from the unusual amount of time we spent waiting in lines (booths, lunch, trying to leave), is my Rhinebeck story.  The Bailey's and the loot have done their job and I think I'm just about ready to try my kids out again, on a strictly probationary basis. Wish me luck.

Friday, October 18, 2013




And my babies (well, not so much anymore, but you know how it is with moms) holding the babies:




They all seem to be enjoying themselves.

We're worried about the one that Isabel is holding.  She is noticeably smaller than the rest and we can't tell if she is growing. Isabel has claimed her and promises that the chick will be just fine now that she has attained the status of "chosen one."  There may be something in this.  The bird claimed by Isabel the last time, Gertie, is the same bird that got separated from the flock a few years ago, escaped whatever animal it was that tore a bunch of her feathers out and scratched up her neck, and  managed to find her way back to us after spending the night out in the wild.

New birds are not the only excitement around here.  Tomorrow is my annual pilgrimage to the Sheep and Wool Festival at Rhinebeck.

I always think I'm going to spend the day there and not spend a lot of money.  This is a laughable idea. You don't go to Rhinebeck for the purpose of not spending money in the same way that you don't go to a restaurant in order to not eat or a bar in order to not drink.  It's just that pointless.

Here's proof:


This is my loot from Hemlock.  Since I really have more fiber than I can reasonably spin in a year and more than I am comfortable living with, I was sure that I could go to the local fiber festival just for the fun of being there, especially with Rhinebeck on the horizon.


I can hear you chuckling over my deluded state.  Will I never learn?

So what happened to make me toss aside my plans with such spectacular results?  Nothing but a lot of rain and a little bit of grumpiness.  You are looking at one hour's worth of retail therapy, the direct result of spending the first part of the day standing in the pouring rain while the homecoming parade drove by us in buses to protect the band from the damp. The fact that I was so late getting to the festival that most of my friends were on their way home by the time I got there only fueled my funk and I am forced to admit that I succumbed to the impulse to purchase at the very first booth I went to and at surprisingly regular intervals thereafter.  Shameless.  Excessive.  Entirely Lacking in Discipline.  I am properly embarrassed by my fiber lapse. I do not, however, regret the buttons.

Anyway, must run.  I was supposed to work today (I'll save you the trouble:  HAHAHAHAHA!  Will she never learn?), but instead I ended up doing a great many things to prepare for the journey: car wash, road trip snacks, early dinner prep so I can get to sleep early in preparation for the 4:40 a.m. departure, etc.  Now we're headed off to riding lessons or--in my world--guaranteed knitting time. Any wagers on how much stuff I'll bring back from Rhinebeck?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Oh Look . . .


A baby sweater.

Can you see the buttons?


They have little anchors on them, and I might just perish from the cuteness.

I also made a little yarn doll for the baby's older sister, who by now must be weary of  all the attention and all the presents being directed at this squalling interloper.  Can't post a picture of it though, because the cats keep stealing it and running away with it and I have not yet discovered their latest hiding place.

I'm sorry to report that the next knitting project is a sea of unrelenting brown-ness.


To add to the burden, it will continue in its brown-ness for the next 4.5 skeins, about 900 yards. Also, the weight of the project and the nature of the pattern make my hands tired, so, while I would normally not see 900 yards of worsted as an insurmountable obstacle, in this case I feel a little daunted.

Relief is found -- a few precious moments at a time-- in my current bus/waiting room/lessons project:


Do you love it as much as I do? It is the perfect yarn for fall and the promise of a few minutes alone with it encourages me to leave 5 minutes early for the bus each afternoon. Don't tell my husband.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

If you Give a Mom Some Coffee . . .

I had an Unintended Caffeine Incident this morning.  I've been a little tired this week, so when I looked at my work goals and realized just how much I would have to get done today in order to meet them, my first thought was "caffeine."  I don't drink regular coffee regularly, partly because I don't drink coffee every day and can't cope with that squeezy headache you get when you skip your coffee and partly because caffeine makes me very chatty (among other things) and the dog/cats/birds don't approve of excess conversation.  If I were privy to important government secrets, one or two cups of the good stuff would be enough to create an international security crisis.

The benefit of all this is that when I do drink regular coffee, the caffeine kicks in immediately and will not be denied.  I have been known to clean entire kitchens (including the fridge and the dusty nooks in the backs of the drawers) on one oversized cup of Italian Roast.  Basically, I can't sit down until the effect wears off, so I try to use it both sparingly and strategically.

It turns out that I should not self-caffeinate unless I have very specific goals in mind, none of which involve sitting still and focusing.

About half way through my coffee this morning, after editing a mere paragraph-- about one quarter of a page out of the 36 pages remaining to be edited today--I decided that I would be a lot more comfortable if I had a foot rest.  Now. Only the foot rest was  upside down because I was using it (duh) to temporarily store  scrap-booking supplies.  I don't scrap-book, but I was overcome by sentiment around the time of Isabel's Bat Mitzvah.  I got over it, but the rubber stamps and bits of ribbon and fancy paper have  been sitting in the foot rest for  the last six months waiting to be dealt with.  Eventually.  Only it seemed, under the influence of the coffee, that this might be the best possible time to put the scrap book together.  Just a few minutes of work, since I was moving the foot rest anyway.

The scrap book has a cut-out in the cover for a picture and there's no point in doing this kind of a job halfway, so I dug the Bat Mitzvah pictures out of a different office floor pile, where I also found some pictures and albums that needed to be boxed up immediately for  my MIL in Florida and others that should be moved without delay to Isabel's room and more even that belonged in my room, ASAP.  And a framed picture that would go really nicely on the book case in the family room, the overwhelming barrenness of which would surely crowd all other thoughts out of my head until I fixed it.  Now. Since I was making so much important progress, I decided that it was high time to put away all the papers and leftover invitations and bits of ribbon that have been decorating my floor since the Bat Mitzvah. Clearing out all that stuff left some space in one of my "please deal with this stuff soon" crates for my recent magazines (let's combine the floor piles!!!) and revealed some additional papers that needed filing/recycling/shredding and while I was at it, how about dealing with that pile of papers on the corner of the desk? After all the gluing, cutting, filing and boxing, it looked like the floor of my office could use a little vacuuming and since the vacuum was out, the mud room should really be de-furred as well.  Without all the cat/dog fur on the floor to mask it, it became glaringly obvious that the quilt in floor-pile #3, which I pretend to be working on and which the cat really loves to nap on, was also pretty furry, so that had to be vacuumed (and then covered--sorry cat) as well, and wouldn't it be good--since the vacuum was out anyway--to suck up the dusty/crumby/nasty bits lingering at the corners of the furniture. I may also have finished the right front on the baby cardigan, although I did have the good sense not to crank out a few rows on the sleeves of the sweater that I was not supposed to start last week.  And no time like the present for a blog post, too, right?


Here is a picture of the baby cardigan pieces, just so you can take a break from all these words which, by the way, you should have read as fast as possible so you can have some sense of what the inside of my head sounds like right now:


Oooh.  Now that I look at that picture, I can see my desk and that reminds me that I'm supposed to be getting a lot of work done today. The other half of my coffee is stone cold by now and it was kind of bitter to begin with, so maybe a fresh cup would be a good idea.

And where is that damned foot rest?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Just Stuff.

It is a grey and dismal day here, which I will spend working to make up for my abysmal performance during the week.  If I am even the least bit productive today, I will spend some time setting up the loom and working on either the baby sweater that needs to be finished soon or the totally unauthorized sweater that I started last night when I couldn't take the pressure of the baby sweater any longer.

Shelves are assembled and have been put in place in the hall, which at least looks neater, if still a little weird.


 Extra shelves made their way into my office for yarn/fiber/magazine storage and gave me the chance to sort through the accumulation of yarn and paper debris that has been slowly taking over.  Score 1 for a neater and happier work environment.  Too bad it didn't actually help me work.

To compensate for Mother Nature's bad mood today, I offer this, which I took at the beginning of my walk last week.


In the same way that people like to talk about "eye candy,"  I would categorize this as "eye tea": just a little something to soothe the soul and warm up your day.  Enjoy.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Please Don't Tell My Boss . . .

Well, you can't really tell my boss much about me that she doesn't already know because I'm self-employed and only mildly delusional about my work habits. I am, however, having a little trouble getting back to work after a month of time off and it is only a matter of minutes before I ditch the drudgery of office and desk and yield to the Siren song of these plain brown boxes.


They contain bookcases. I agree that the main hall is an odd place for book cases (and armoires and those funky hide-away desks with the flip down writing surface) but our house (due mostly to a poor choice in hiring an architect with no residential experience and my subsequent interference in architectural matters) has some less than ideal design features.  When these "features" are combined with the size of my family and our unrestrained reading/book buying/library habits,  you can imagine how quickly we run out of storage space.  Also, we part with books only if we (a) hate them or (b) leave them out in such heavy rain that they get moldy. No use suggesting that we try to cull the herd.

Our plans for this hall have gone from grand (fill in the ceiling and make a second floor reading alcove, complete with window seats and book storage, then fill in the downstairs wall with built-in cabinetry to meet all of our dish/book/coat/vacuum storage needs) to manageable (downstairs built-ins only) to absolutely cheap (bookshelves from Target, anyone?) as our first child has gotten closer to college, and the book shelves will hopefully keep us happy until we either move or win the lottery. Plus, they need to be assembled, which gives me an excuse to get out the drill and start bossing my helpers around.

Want some eye-candy before I go?

I finally spun a chunk of Into the Whirled fiber into this bit of chain-plied goodness.


No clue what it should be made into next, but I bought the fiber at Rhinebeck last year, and now that I've spun it I am no longer entirely prohibited from buying more fiber this year.

This chunk of blue is an even more recent purchase.


I bought it last January and somewhere along the way I decided to card it into this heathered grey loveliness,

which spun up into this fluffy yarn

which I'm pretty sure will be perfect for a warm and toasty cabled hat like this or this.

But enough.  I'm off to assemble some shelves.

Monday, July 29, 2013


We had some guests over the weekend.  Several were invited by my daughter for what is commonly known as a "sleepover," although this term, as we all know, is wildly inaccurate at best.  In this case, it was more of a prowl-the-mall-eat-lots-of-pizza-watch-horrible-movies-collapse-in-the-wee-hours-over.  They also ate waffles.

Several hours after the sun came up, but well before the sleeping beauties made their first appearance, I found this little guy camping in the chicken coop. I don't know how he survived the night in there, as my hens are as cranky at night as my daughter is the day after a "sleepover."

All the same, there he was, trying to make himself small and unnoticeable.  Not an easy job for a fist-sized amphibian.


I figured it wouldn't be long before the birds found him and started beating on him, so I scooped him up  and brought him outside.

I used the shovel because toads are notorious for pishing on people who dare to grab them, and  I was so not in the mood for that.


I'm pretty sure he was grateful for the rescue, but it's a little hard to tell for sure.

He looks kind of suspicious here,


and positively curmudgeonly in this photo.


Here he is, safely back on the ground


and ready to begin his day.


I hope the dog doesn't find him.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Well Traveled

You might be wondering after my last post whether I conquered the monster to-do list or whether I collapsed in despair and wept for my fleeing sanity.

The answer is yes, of course.

It was a bit of both, but in the end I got enough stuff done to leave home with a mostly clear conscience and a reasonable expectation that I wouldn't have to spend the entire vacation in a panic over the stuff that didn't get done.  More importantly, nobody had to be locked out of the house, no one had to seek professional help to deal with the lingering trauma, and the panic was kept to a minimum.

We packed up our stuff and got on a plane for Costa Rica, which looks like this at sunset.


And like this, if you want to take a break from the beach and head for the pool.


Insanely beautiful, no?  There were also random bands of monkeys that liked to play in the trees near the pool, but they were not terribly cooperative about having their pictures taken.  There will be more, and more beautiful pictures, along with some stories, another time.

This, obviously, is not a picture from Costa Rica:


It is, in fact, a picture of Isabel mailing the thank you notes she wrote after her Bat Mitzvah.

I forgot to mention it in The List, but #22 should have read: Number of reminders/nags/harassments to be issued to Isabel to make her finish her thank you notes before we leave: infinite.

It turns out that only 30 or 40 reminders were necessary.  She finished the notes and we figured we would mail them on Sunday, and when we forgot to do that, I figured we would mail them Monday when we returned the overdue library books and got cash from the ATM.

Monday--i.e., the day we were leaving THE COUNTRY--turned out be be busier than anticipated, which is the kind of development that would surprise no one except us.  No  biggie.  Airports have ATMs and there was a library book drop and a mailbox at our second favorite library, which was conveniently located directly on the way to the airport.

Or so I thought.  The library and the book drop were right where we expected them to be, but the mailbox has moved on.  Not a problem.  Airports probably have ATMs and mailboxes, right?  So there.

Not that we saw one at our local airport.  But, again, no big deal.  There was always the Chicago airport, or Miami International, or the hotel in Miami (seriously, it was a loooong travel day).

Or we could just forget the mailboxes and the poor thank you notes entirely and drag them all the way to Costa Rica and back in the bottom of Isabel's carryon bag.

Which, of course, is what we did. And we meant, of course, to mail them from Miami International as soon as we landed.  Or from the hotel in Miami, even though we spent a total of only 7 hours there, including the 5 during which we slept. Or, from O'Hare, where we would surely find a mailbox during our several hours of layover.

Or--and we should have known this all along-- we could do what we always do and mail them at our grocery store, which really does have everything.

Just so you don't think I've been a total fiber slacker while I was away, below are pictures of my most recent spinning project.

I bought the spindle and fiber last summer. I had already spun the first chunk of the fiber and started on the second when I decided that a Turkish spindle would make the best international travel spindle ever.  It is sturdy, has no hooks or sharp parts that would upset the nice people in charge of airport security, and it disassembles for safe transport so I don't have to worry about it breaking in my bag. Also, the yarn comes off the spindle already wound into a nice center pull ball, meaning that I wouldn't need to take along any paraphernalia for winding off either the singles or the plied yarn.  Yay me.

Plus, if you are in that kind of mood, you can wind your yarn on in pattern.



I have never before been in such a mood.  I have, of course, seen eye-popping pictures of gradient yarn wound in pattern and long ago concluded that I was not the sort of person who would wind on in a way that takes longer than the actual spinning.  I even tried winding on some of my singles in pattern just to confirm that I was certainly not that kind of person.

And then I started plying my colorful yarn and I thought that I would, just this once, give the fancy-pants winding on thing one more try.



You can guess the rest of the story, and while you giggling over how easy it is to convert me into that kind of spinner, you should pause just long enough to be thankful that I did not post every stinking picture I took of every stinking change in the color pattern.  It is like watching a kaleidoscope and I am hooked.  But not hooked enough to wind my singles that way.  I really do have some standards, you know.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

In which We Have a Little Panic

Numerically speaking, my life is whizzing out of control.

Here are my stats.  You may weep at the state of my affairs, if you are so moved.

  1. 1. Number of days until we leave THE COUNTRY (I'm a little freaked out by this part, can you tell?):  6, but only if you are generous enough to count today, which is almost over, and Monday, which is the day we leave.  
  2. 2. Number of suitcases packed:  none; clothes are all dirty and we're not really sure where the suitcases are.  They're duffel bags anyway. We are still not mature enough to own "suitcases" and wouldn't even know where to look for such a thing as a "valise"
  3. 3. Packing lists generated: none
  4.  4. Ideas of what to pack: Zero.  I'm too busy to deal with minor details. (see below)
  5.  5. Number of pages left to edit: 80
  6.  6. Days remaining in which to edit said pages: 2
  7. 7. Panic level resulting from work load/work time imbalance: 6
  8. 8.  Brain power not engaged in freaking out about impending travel and therefore available for work: 25%
  9. 9. Revised panic level: 11
  10. 10.  Loads of laundry left to do: 5, not counting everything we wore this week and will also need for vacation
  11. 11.  Number of children who don't actually own enough shorts to go on vacation for 10 days to Central America: 2/4.  Could be worse.
  12. 12.  Time available to correct #11: theoretically: 72 hours (excluding work days); realistically: 45 minutes (see below)
  13. 13. Number of softball/baseball games to be watched: Five if the teams lose, seven if they win.  I sense a moral confict coming on.
  14. 14. Number of children turning 15 in two days: 1
  15. 15. Number of presents bought: 0
  16. 16. Number of presents thought of: 0
  17. 17. Expected amount by which cost of last minute, panic-induced gifts will exceed reasonable birthday budget: 50%
  18. 18.  Number of unwashed dishes in the sink:  not sure; we can't find the sink under all the dishes
  19. 19. Number of children now on summer vacation and constantly either in my way or up to no good instead of conveniently located and constructively occupied at school: 4
  20. 20. Number of disputes/squabbles/differences, petty and grand, to mediate:  not sure what this number is called, but it is almost certainly irrational and I refuse to deal with it
  21. 21. Number of post-school papers/projects/leftover supplies taking oer my kitchen counter: not sure I can count that high. Certainly the level falls somewhere on the continuum between "Fire Hazard" and "Candidate for Hoarders"
  • Items 2-4, 10-13, 18-21: Bury head in sand, hope they go away
  • Items 1, 5 - 9, 14 - 17: PANIC!!!!!!!

Part A: Wednesday through Friday:
  • Items 5 & 6: Barricade self in office; ignore all other items so as to finish by Friday
  • Items 7-9: pretend I didn't see this
  • Item 10: do laundry while working.  Or really, on occasional breaks from work. There's nothing like some boring work to make folding laundry seem like a treat. Or some boring laundry to make work seem like a good option. Win-win, right?
Part B: Friday night through Sunday:
  • Item 13: pray for rain? Or pack an audiobook (driving is boring!), some sandwiches, and some knitting and enjoy the great outdoors.
  • Items 14-17: pray for inspiration and, maybe, an additional paycheck
  • Items 18 & 21: Barricade family out of kitchen, buy paper plates, and order a lot of pizza.  Also, consider having a bonfire
  • Items 19, 20: Barricade children out of house until they stop behaving like barbarians and develop a sense of appreciation for their lovely home and the joys of summer vacation 
  • Revised plan for items 18-21: Let reformed children back into house, barricade them into the kitchen, and put children to work earning their keep. 
  • Items 1-4:  Well, there's always Monday, right?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Sorry for the lengthy silence.  I am still here, though it's been a bit busy and I don't even have any good pictures to post. Below, in unpunctuated free verse, is a brief summary of the last few months:


There is also a good story about a wedding which included, in what may be the first event ever of the kind, the word 'skulduggery'.  I plan to write about that another time, but that's the same thing that I said about the day that we almost had to abandon EH in the Dominican Republic and you have yet to read that little tale, so don't hold your collective breath.

In other updates, the pool is not open yet, which is just as well since it is 65 and raining here today.  The garden is, in all likelihood, having a year off unless I suddenly come upon a pile of free time not caused by cancellations due to rain. And, it is probably time for me to start panicking about the fact that our trip to Costa Rica is less than two weeks away.  The way things are going, it will undoubtedly rain on us there too.

In the mean time, all sports were cancelled tonight due to rain, so I have finally lucked into a little unexpected time, which I will spend working to make up for all the legitimate work time that I have recently spent playing Candy Crush.  Off we go!

Friday, March 1, 2013


[The Wart] now discovered, with a helpless feeling, that there were no words for happiness, for freedom, for liking, nor were there any words for their opposites. . . . The nearest he could get to Right or Wrong, even, was to say Done or Not-Done. . . . Later on, the Wart discovered that there were only two qualifications in the [ant] language, Done and Not-Done--which applied to all questions of value. If the seeds which the collectors found were sweet, they were Done seeds.  If somebody had doctored them with corrosive sublimate, they would have been Not-Done seeds, and that was that.*

When last you read me, I was Done!  I had just finished some work and was reveling in my freedom, temporary though it was.  Now I'm back to my regular M.O., with heaps of work and projects that are Not-Done  and probably will stay that way, at the rate things are going.  For starters, some sort of voodoo has been worked on my computer and I cannot open my photo library.  I've had to resort to the circuitous and duplicative method of uploading the same  photos to my iPad, using said iPad to magic the photos off to Flickr, and then plopping the photos from Flickr into the blog.  It's like reaching over your head with your right arm to scratch your left ear. Or, to put it in terms of modern travel, flying 600 miles west to Chicago just to catch a flight to Miami, which was almost directly south of us in the first place.

Ridiculous as the method may be, I've managed to jam a bunch of photos into this post so that anyone who cares to may have a good laugh at my expense.  Not that I'm feeling bitter, or anything.

Exhibit A:


An ingenious solution to the Team Hat that was plaguing me in the last post.  It turned out that I had a commercial yarn in the right colors, quantities, and weights to make a non-handspun hat for Isa.  So I cast on for the Turn  a Square hat (see the way-cool squares at the top?)


with the idea that I would make it two layers--meaning I could use two color schemes-- and Isa would have a hat that was reversible, super warm, and color coordinated with her various uniforms. In an unprecedented burst of ingenuity, I cast on using two strands of the yarn (which is black, not blue as it appears in this willfully deceptive photo) and 2/3 the number of stitches called for in the pattern.  After the ribbing, I separated the strands onto two needles, one for the inside layer and one for the outside layer, and increased into every other stitch to get the number of stitches called for in the pattern. Yay me.

 I worked a few inches of the outside in black and gold and found out that my needle size was too small and I was knitting a 14 inch hat for a 23 inch head.  RIIIIIIIIIP.  Second try:  right size needles and marvellously quick progress.  I finished the black and yellow side and  showed Isa the hat for her approval.  Or disapproval, if you prefer, since there were entirely too many yellow stripes for her taste.  Being a kind and generally accommodating child, she said she would wear it anyway, but after I finished the red side--with half as many stripes-- I decided that no girl on the verge of her teen years should be burdened with a hat that looked like the back end of a bumblebee.  RIIIIIIIIIP.  I plowed through the reworked yellow side this morning and tucked in my ends only to find, while stuffing the inside into the outside, that the red side was significantly longer than the yellow side and that the corners (square top hat, remember?) were skewed by 8 stitches because I moved the marker by a stitch every time I hid the jog in the stripe.



And that is where we stand with that: Not-Done, in so many ways.  By the time I finish with this--assuming of course that I don't flush it down the toilet first--I will have knit the equivalent of four hats, with only one head covering to show for the effort.  Wildly amusing, really, since I originally planned to make a double-knit hat and have instead doubled my hat knitting.

All is not regression and despair, however.  Exhibit B is the second toe of the Yellow Socks.  Third toe, really, since I had to knit the toe of the first sock twice, but let's not dwell on that.


It has so far been a lovely and cooperative little toe and I'm beginning to believe that it might, someday soon, grow to be a much more cooperative sock than the first one, which, after weeks and weeks of being Not-Done, is now finished, although I am not yet emotionally ready to declare it Done.

Here is a picture that is close enough to allow you to see the free-range cat hairs that plague all of my knitwear.


And here is a close-up of the new-to-me sole flap with funky heel decrease technique, the one part of the sock that was Done right from the beginning.


See the upside down date in the picture?  It took quite a bit of manoeuvering to photograph the back of my own foot.

Exhibit C?  A mass of nondescript spaghetti-ish, beady-ish knitting.  It is part of a mystery knit along, so all I know is that it will be a shawl and that each row is now somewhere between 600 and 700 stitches and requires my full concentration, which is why this bugger is very definitely Not-Done.


Hang in there, though: we're almost Done.

Exhibit D: Towels on the Loom,


which, after a great deal of weaving last week, are about 45 minutes away from being Towels off the Loom.

But not today; I think I'm Done.

Need I even credit it?  T.H. White, The Once and Future King.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Let There Be Pictures!

Well, it took me an extra day, mostly because we spent yesterday at dentists and lunches and book stores and riding lessons, so that by the time I got home there was neither the will nor the daylight for taking pictures.  

But today is not only a new day, it is a car-free day.  El-Husbando took his car to the shop and then took my car to work, so the rest of us had no choice but to lounge around the house in our jammies.  I was supposed to get a whole bunch of stuff done this morning, including exercise and a massive clean out of the basement, but instead I read my book.  So there.  

I also snapped a few pictures, and here they are.

First up, my new sweater.  I had a lot of yarn left over from my not-a-clown-sweater (which, incidentally, is now one of my favorites).  So naturally I ordered a few more skeins of the red and made another sweater:

I love this one too; the lite lopi is toasty warm, but no so bulky that I can't move my arms around once I've put my winter coat on, so that's perfect.  Unfortunately, there's still a heap of the lopi left, and I'm now considering making a series of felted bags to use up the rest.

I started these socks (True Love, by Chrissy Gardiner) right after downloading the pattern, which was a valentine's day freebie.

I had no business starting a new sock, and I haven't gotten too far anyway, because I still have a heap of other projects to finish, including these socks:

They were supposed to be Turbo Toes, until I realized that I had changed everything in the pattern and had better call them something else.  I think of them now as Yellow Socks, which is a bit more encouraging than Irritating Socks That Have Had Two Different Toes and Three Different Heels and Will Probably Never Be Finished Because I Can't Work on Them Without Crumpling Under the Burden of Impending Failure.

When I wasn't busy knitting either the Socks that I Shouldn't Have Started or the Socks  That I Really Should Finish, I took some time to vandalize these poor things.  I knit them for a class and chose the yarn its for beauty and softness, rather than for its ability to last for more than one or two wearings under my nasty feet.  The construction of the sock allows you to replace just the sole.  I hope.

This, of course, is a mitten, a Super Mitten, to be precise, from the book Weekend Knitting. It's one of my favorite mitten patterns: quick, easy, and, if you line them with alpaca, super warm.

There's been some weaving going on too, or at least preparation for some weaving.  I bought these two color combinations in the fall

and today, since I couldn't drive anywhere, I finally put the finishing touches on my plans for the cloth and started winding the warp.

 It's going quickly, but my loom is set up for some towels right now and, unlike knitting, you can't just stick your current weaving project on a stitch holder so that you can use the loom for something else.  There's no way out but through, so I think you'll be able to guess what I'll be doing this weekend.

I did some spinning too.

 These lovely yarns are my kids' school colors (if you are willing to accept that the bottom one is more black than blue) and they were intended for a double layer hat for my daughter to wear for softball since a spring sport around here automatically means a lot of people standing outside for a long time in temperatures that are one step away from winter.  At least that was the plan right up until she told me that the hat was supposed to be her school colors (black and gold) on one side and her travel team colors (not black and gold) on the other.  Oh.

To ease the disappointment of having finally purchased fiber and spun yarn for a specific project, only to be thwarted by a misunderstanding, we baked cookies

and scones too, just in case.

I think the muscle burn from winding the warp has finally worn off, so its time to go and finish that task.   Just as soon as I have a little snack to sustain me in my labors.

Happy Thursday!