Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year! (Or, at least, Happy Old-Year-Is-Finally-Over!)

We will not miss 2010. We had heart - breaking losses, an exploding car*, and nasty injuries.
And that's only the stuff I told y'all about. There was more...
(In trying to find a bright side, at least this year we only lost animals, and no people.)
(There's always a bright side. Or so they say.)

I'm a little depressed looking back over my knitting for the year - I don't think I completed a single project. Lots of starts, no finishes.
(If I made New Year's resolutions, I would probably have to address that.)
(Luckily I don't make New Year's resolutions.)

I did finish some spinning, though. Of course, that was in January.
Now I'm really depressed...

* Technically, the car exploded the end of last year, but all the repercussions were this year, so I'm counting it against 2010.

Point of interest - this was my 400th post! Though apparently I don't do anything to post about...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Ho-Ho!

Resistance was futile...

Toldja I've been baking cookies.

And Hallelujah, I can stop now...

Friday, December 24, 2010

I thought shoppers were crazed yesterday...

Today we had couples who never should have been shopping, let alone together, who were calling each other names in the aisles, and swearing at each other about whether Uncle Larry would be thrilled to get a foot massager for Christmas. And there were the guy teams - brothers or best buddies - who had waited till Christmas eve to go shopping, saying "Dude... I don't think that's such a good idea..." or "Dude... trust me, she'll love that" while holding up purple sequined whatchamacallits.
I won't even start on the wailing sugared-up children caroming off the endcaps and throwing screaming fits in the toy aisles.
Personally, I got rammed by shopping carts at least a dozen times today, with nary an 'Ooops, sorry.' All I was doing was trying to clean up the devastation our lovely customers had left in their wake.

Gee, I just love Christmas...

So, anyway.

To all you sane people out there:
Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and much happiness.

I have to get back to frosting the cookies...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Not dead, just baking cookies...

And more cookies and more cookies.
Whose stupid idea was this, anyway?
I'm so Christmased out at this point that I'll deck the next person who says "Ho ho ho." (Working in retail will do that to you. Believe me.)
I'm currently waiting for the last batch to cool so I can put them away.
How crazed do you have to be to be sitting here at 1:30am waiting for cookies to cool...
To hell with the cookies.
I'm going to bed.

Bah humbug to all, and to all a good night.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Because Sheep are Sheep

Why on earth would you want to go in a shelter when you can lay out in a freakin' blizzard, chewing your cud?

Here's Onyx, looking back over her shoulder at me. You remember Onyx, our black sheep...

Merlin stood up as I approached the fence.

And then everybody stood up and shook off the snow.

Foolish fuzzlumps...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Yeah, it's that Winter Wonderland thing again...

Yesterday was the big day - the stars and my schedule and our garage's schedule finally aligned and I got studded snowtires put on my car. (In Vermont, they can be considered all-season tires.) (No, really.)
And it was just in the nick of time - yesterday's weather was freezing rain, shifting to snow in the late afternoon. The roads were slippery enough when I went in to work at 2pm; I certainly wasn't looking forward to the drive home after 11:00.
But when I went out to my car after closing the store, I discovered that the roads weren't my most immediate problem.
I tried to open my car's door and discovered it was frozen shut. It would jiggle enough to kick on the overhead light, but no way was it going to open for me. I started to worry that yanking too hard on the door handle would break it, resulting in a door that would never close again. (Which would be Somewhat Inconvenient.)
I tried the door to the back seat, with the same result.
Working my way around the car, the next door to try was the rear hatch. That one opened without a fight to the death, but since I had picked up my car from the garage immediately before going in to work, the rear cargo area was full of my old tires. The only way I was going to be able to get in that way was to take out the tires, drop them in the snowy parking lot (and it was still snowing hard at this point in my evening. We're talking the full Winter-with-a-capital-W experience), crawl through clambering over both the back and the front seats, kick the door open, then get back out to retrieve the tires.
I considered this plan for about a nano-second.
The passenger rear door didn't budge at all, but hallelujah, the front passenger door finally popped open. It may have been the cursing. Or the volume of the cursing. Or I might have gotten extra points for creativity. All I know is that I really really didn't want to mess around with a bunch of heavy dirty tires in the middle of a parking lot in the middle of a snowstorm.
The drive home was long and slow. If the snowplows were out, they weren't working on any of the roads I was traveling. It was hard to even see the roads I was traveling.
But my brand spanky new tires climbed right up my driveway, which was the first time in days that I hadn't had to give up at the bottom and hike my way up.

So, tonight on the way home, I thought all that was behind me. The roads were clear of snow, I could drive at normal speed, and it looked like clear sailing.
And it was, until I turned onto the country road that leads to our road.
It's a long bumpy curvy road. Picture a roller coaster constructed for cars.
Apparently, when I was joggling all those car doors last night, I loosened them, even though I couldn't get them open.
Every time I hit a bump, or went around a tight curve, the overhead light and the dashboard open-door-indicator light would come on. And go off. And come on again.
It was like I had my own private lightning storm. Inside my car.
At least there was no thunder.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The scarf is a-blockin'

And mango's a-rockin'!

I finished (finished!!) the red scarf yesterday, and immediately soaked and blocked it. It's still drying, but I'm going to make the deadline, with time to spare!
I'll try to remember to get a pic before I package it up for OFA. (I forgot with last year's scarf...)

I love the color of wool I used - and I've got a sweater's-worth of it left over and a powerful yen for a red sweater. I'll set the bag next to the bag of teal wool that I'm going to use to assuage my powerful yen for a teal sweater... Of course, both of those bags are behind the bag of handspun Cotswold yarn (because I've already started a sweater with that), and the bin of Goldie yarn (which I'm dying to knit a sweater with.)

And that's just the sweaters. I may be getting a little behind...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cutting Edge

As I was saying to my friend Becky the other day - I think she, Erika, and I are the wave of the future. It used to be that a knitting blog had to have a cat to be official.
It isn't a real knitblog without a chicken or two...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The merging of the flocks

Tonight was the night the Not-Buffs were smuggled into the main flock's coop while everyone was asleep.
The best time to move a chicken is while it's sleeping. Chickens sleep deep. The best time to move a chicken into a new flock is while they're all sleeping. Everybody wakes up in the morning, scratching and yawning and still half-asleep, and no one is really sure that they don't know that chicken they woke up next to. (Chickens aren't all that bright when they're wide awake. When they're sleepy, well... they make wide-awake chickens look like regular Einsteins.)
The fact that their pens have been side by side all this time should help with the 'recognition' illusion - they've had lots of time to stare at each other and get familiar.
We're crossing our fingers that the merger will go smoothly.

The main reason for the big push at unification? We only have two chicken waterers. In the summertime, that's fine - one for each pen. But in winter, when the waterers freeze overnight? It's too big a pain in the butt to thaw two waterers every morning, especially when we're trying to get ourselves off to work. With one pen, we only need one waterer, and we can swap out the frozen one with the one that had been thawing since the previous time we did chores.
Not to mention, feeding and watering one group of chickens is less time-consuming than feeding/watering two groups.
Efficiency R us...

Monday, December 6, 2010

This one's gonna stick...

It had to happen sooner or later. I'll just try to be grateful that it's later.

That snowless streak on the driver's side of the hood is from the jug of water I'd brought out to fill the rabbits' waterdishes. I set it on the hood of the car while I carried the sheep's bucket of water up to them, and while I was gone it slithered off the hood, popped its lid, and managed to empty itself. I had to slog back and refill it.
I just love doing chores in winter.

I laugh at our two groups of chickens. The main flock hates the snow - they were all inside their coop, and judging by the evidence of a trackless yard they hadn't been out since the snow started falling. (I took a picture, but it didn't come out, and I refuse to hat-coat-boot up again just for a picture of undisturbed snow. Not even for the blog.)
The Not-Buffs, on the other hand, would rather be outdoors than in, no matter what the weather.
Here's a closer look. Please notice that two of the hens are outside the fence - the one on the left and the mostly-white one.

Stupid birds. I could have wasted the morning chasing them, catching them, and sticking them back in their pen, knowing full well that they would just hop out again as soon as my back was turned.
I didn't bother.
I have to finish knitting that black hole red scarf, after all...


The Black Hole of Knitting

That's where I am with this red scarf.

It's a Palindrome. It's endless. I knit and knit and knit and knit, and it doesn't grow.
The deadline is looming.

Back to the knitting...

Saturday, December 4, 2010


My car has heated seats. I can't begin to describe the joy of heated car seats in Vermont in December.
Luxury! (Which always brings this sketch to mind...)

Friday, December 3, 2010

I'm taking the night off.

So I won't be posting tonight.

Oh, wait.


Too late now, I suppose.

Well, as long as I'm here anyway, with fingers already typing and stuff, I'll do a chicken report.
Remember our two new roosters?
The big yellow fella is a few months older than the one we hatched, so he's got the whole spiffy tailfeathers and bigtime crowing voice going on. The hatchling rooster is trying to play catch-up while keeping a low profile at the same time. (He is not the top of the pecking order. He's not even near the top. A low profile means you get to keep your tailfeathers.)
He wants to practice his crow, but he knows better than to do it in front of the senior rooster. He usually lags back in the coop while everyone else goes outside, and sneaks in some practicing while no one is looking.
So far he can go "ERRR!" One syllable. Hardly the rolling "Cockadoodle-do" that he's aiming for.
We've listened to a lot of young roosters learn to crow. For the first day or two, they practice one and two syllable sounds, then they're off and running with the multi-syllabic version.
This guy has been stuck on "ERRR!" for two weeks now. We don't know if it's an inferiority complex or if we dropped him on his head...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Music for my ears

Madman and I have many lively arguments discussions about music. He's a trained musician, and I'm a simple plebeian. While we have some common ground (Phish, Bela Fleck, several others), our tastes widely diverge. I yawn over some of his choices, and Gogol Bordello and the DropKick Murphys set his teeth on edge.
But one thing we both love is all things a cappella. From Straight No Chaser to Sweet Honey in the Rock. ( I love Sweet Honey.)

This blew us both away.

Well, for me it's still December 1st...

Technically since it's after midnight, it's December 2nd, but since I haven't been to bed yet, I'm still living in December 1st. (Do you think time travel could be a function of sleep cycles? Or am I just tired?)
I was going to post after work, since that's what I do in the normal scheme of things. But my schedule has been wonky lately (since the nadir of working the midnight to 9am shift of Black Friday) and I forgot that the fact that I was working till 11:30pm would make an after-work post appear after midnight. i.e. tomorrow.


I worked the same shift yesterday - I had to leave the house by 2pm in order to get to work. Madman wouldn't be home till after 6pm. Normally we feed the sheep somewhere between 3 and 5-ish, depending on who is home when.
Since Madman wouldn't be home until long after what the fuzzlumps figured was suppertime, we agreed that I would throw some hay at them before heading in to work, even though it was very early. Otherwise when Madman got home, they would have already stormed the house, and he would have found them sprawled in the living room, eating all the potato chips, and watching Wallace and Gromit.
Now, bear in mind that our sheep always blat at all humans, trying to convince someone - anyone- that they're starving. Sheep are born to complain.
As I headed out the door yesterday, they started up. "Baa!" "Baaaaaaaaa!!!!!" "Maaaaa...." Just like always when a human comes into view.
But when I grabbed an armload of hay and headed for their pen, they all fell silent. Stared at me with big eyes and slack jaws.
"Whoa! We didn't think it was actually going to work..."
They actually looked puzzled as they dived for the hay.
Today, I was leaving at the same time, but Madman was going to be home soon after, so when they started blatting, I just ignored them and headed for my car.
They fell silent. "Yeah, we didn't think it would work two days in a row..."

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I made it through November with NaBloPoMo! (This is the last day, right? (mumble mumble 30 days hath September mumble mumble) Yes! It is!)
We'll see how long the habit thing runs...

Monday, November 29, 2010

If I knew you were comin' I'd've baked a cake

Howd-ya do, howd-ya do, howd-ya do

Or I''d've at least put on a pot of coffee...

The Great and Powerful Norma linked me this morning. There've been people milling around the living room ever since.
Welcome! Pull up a chair and visit for a minute.
I'll be in the kitchen, baking a cake.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

When all else fails, flash teh kittehs...

With special thanks to Naomi, who sent this to Madman, who shared it with me!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A good night's sleep and I'm not quite so unhinged

At least I know what day it is...
I did some plying yesterday, since I was too brain-boggled to knit. (Even the Palindrome red scarf was too technically difficult for me to fathom.) Luckily plying is soothing (almost too soothing) and peaceful and easy, otherwise the day would have passed with nothing to show for it.
Getting ready to head in to work - at least this shift ends at 11:30pm instead of beginning.

Friday, November 26, 2010

I have no idea what time it is. I'm not even sure what day it is...

Looking at the clock isn't helping, either.
11:12 am.
And that means?
I got off work at 9:00 am, after going into work at 11:30 pm on Turkey Day. That much I'm sure of. But since I didn't officially end Thursday, does that mean it's still Thursday or is it now Friday?
The nap I took this afternoon Thanksgiving afternoon is only adding to the confusion.
As it turns out, it was a quiet night. We had freezing rain that started at midnight, just as we opened, and continued through the night. There were weather advisories warning people to stay home, repeated on the radio all night long.
I don't know if they actually stayed home, but they didn't show up at our place. At least not in the droves that Home Office was hoping for.
I went out to my car around 4:30 am to eat lunch (Or supper. Or possibly breakfast. Tough call.) and all the employee cars looked like glazed donuts. Happily, I got my door open, since my lunchbox was on the front passenger seat. (Homemade meatloaf sandwich, if anyone's interested. I had predicted that I would need comfort food, and I was right.)
Where was I?
By 9:00am, the rain had turned to snow. On top of ice. Driving home seemed to take three days, what with the weather, the conditions, and my general punchiness. Which would mean it's currently Monday...
I think I'm going to go take a nap. I hope Madman will wake me up when it's Saturday, because I have to go to work.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy TurkeyDay!

I hope your feast was as good as ours was. Big family gathering with all the trimmings - turkey, gravy, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, gravy, Pink Stuff, and did I mention gravy?

But, every silver lining has a cloud...

Because today is Thanksgiving, that means tomorrow is Black Friday.
The store I work at is opening at midnight.
Guess who got the early shift?
I'm presently drinking coffee and getting ready for work. I hope the nap I took this afternoon is enough to keep me awake all night. I don't think we'll be crazy busy, but it'll probably be crazy crazy. Especially around 2 am when the bars are closed, and the bored drunks have nothing else to do but Christmas shop.
Anyone want to send good thoughts my way? All the gravy in the world can't really make up for this.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

So who's in it just for the chickens...

We lost one of our old friends the other day. Little Miss No-Toes (you may remember her from this post) passed on to that Great Coop in the Sky. She was one of our original chickens from when we first started our adventures with poultry. Six years ago? We're not sure, actually. Pre-blog, anyway, otherwise I could just look it up.
We'll miss the old girl. In a sea of homogeneity, she stood out. (Chickens of the same breed are amazingly alike. Especially when you have a lot of them.) She wasn't actually missing all her toes, but enough of them were shortened that she walked, danced really, like a little ballerina.
The world is a sadder place without her.

And now, since I've talked about chickens again, I have to mention knitting - otherwise my tag cloud will be overwhelmed by chickeniness. (Dear Spellchecker: that is so a word.) My youngest daughter laughs at me that my so-called knitblog is heavily weighted to chickens.
I've got a Red Scarf headed for the home stretch. I'm still knitting Lyra. Frosty Ferns is sitting in time-out while I decide whether to frog or not. (Frog in haste, repent in leisure...) I'm still theoretically knitting the Crimbo hat. (I haven't knitted a stitch on it since the last time I mentioned it, but I haven't frogged it either, so I consider it still in forward progress. Not negative is positive, right?)

There. I can legitimately add a knitting tag.

And here's a question for the lurkers. (I know you're out there, I can hear you breathing...) (Seriously, leave a comment. Please.)
Are you here for the knitting? The spinning?
Or is it just for the chickens?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

On the Use of the Honor System in Confining Chickens

I hinted at this in a previous post. Our Not-Buff-Orpingtons only stay in their pen out of politeness, not because they believe they are in any way required to do so.
I took these pictures at dusk tonight.

In this first one, you can see two blue-tarped structures. The one on the left (rounded at the top) is the Not-Buffs' shelter, the one on the right is the tarp that tents the rabbits' cages. (In fact, you can see Stiffler at the bottom center of the photo. We'll be moving the rabbit cages into the hoophouse for the winter sometime this week.)
Five chickens are perched on the bar over the gate to the main flock's pen (right side of picture), two are perched on top of their own house (left side of picture), and one is on top of the rabbits' tent. What you can't see in this picture is the other three little hens perched on the top of the gate to their own yard.

Here's a closer look at the gate sitters and the rabbit shelter sitter.

Let's do a little math.
Five chickens are sitting on the fence of the other chickens' pen - completely outside their own pen.
One chicken is perched on top of the rabbits' shelter - completely outside her pen.
Three chickens are on top of the gate leading to their pen - so technically half-in and half-out.
Two chickens are on top of their shelter - maybe technically inside the pen. Or not. They're not supposed to be up there, so I'm calling them as out.

Eleven chickens, with only 1.5 in the pen. (Well, three halves, anyway.)

Like I said - the fact that they're inside their pen in the daytime is probably coincidental.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Slipperier than the excrement of your choice.

Driving home tonight was a little nerve-wracking. Cold, wet, misty, rainy, sleety. Perfect conditions for black ice.

For those of you from more temperate climes, black ice (and I'm resisting the urge to capitalize it) is the most slippery substance in the Universe. Even studded snow tires won't help you on black ice.

And, unfortunately, it looks exactly like wet pavement.

So you don't even know you're on it until your car starts to slither in directions you have no desire to go in. (Sorry. In which you have no desire to go. My 8th grade English teacher would have had me diagramming sentences for a month...)

My driving philosophy is to assume it's slippery until proven otherwise. This has kept me out of a lot of ditches.

Home safe and sound. If there was black ice out there tonight, I fooled it completely.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

There, that's done.

The last of the meat birds went into the freezer today. Plucking chickens isn't my idea of a good time on my day off, but it's a necessary component of the way we choose to live.

But why does my cellphone always ring when I've got both hands covered in wet feathers?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Anyone got a day-stretcher I can borrow?

I love these slippers! I especially love the little measuring tape printed down the left side of the pattern. (And it's accurate - I checked it against a ruler.)

The pattern came from the DROPS Christmas Workshop 2010 - dash over and take a peek. Lots of great ideas for holiday knitting. (These little boot slippers also caught my eye.)

Christmas is still six months away, right?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Yesterday was actually the Day from Hell

But I was trying to be polite and not mention it.
I woke up feeling sick - dizzy, light-headed, nauseous - but went to work anyway. Two cashiers went home sick, and we were understaffed to begin with. A store full of customers who just make you shake your head ("Excuse me!! Excuse me!! I've looked everywhere for such-and-such. Don't you have any such-and-such?!? What kind of stupid store is this that doesn't have such-and-such!?! " And you have to try to think of a diplomatic way of saying "Um... You're standing right next to it." Without adding "Dumbass...") (And the kind of people who rip open packaging, then complain that our merchandise looks messy, or who rip apart a nice display of sweaters, rooting around and throwing them everywhere, then complain that they can't find the size they want. (One of our staff had just spent two hours folding and straightening that table, and this warthog destroyed it in under 5 minutes. Rinse and repeat. All day long.) )
I fell asleep on the couch minutes after posting last night. Madman woke me up and dragged me off to bed at 11:30. When the alarm went off at 6 this morning, I hit snooze, and kept hitting it until 7am. If I hadn't had to get up for work, I think I could have slept another couple of hours...
Today was better. Marginally.
At least I wasn't dizzy and nauseous...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

So far, the deer are snubbing Madman

Which is really mean of them.

He's worked very hard to be able to appear out in the woods, what with the pain, the surgery, and the PT. Considering it's his clutch knee that's messed up, the fact that he's cruising out there in his standard transmission car should really be taken into account. Then the hiking through the woods to find a convenient place for the deer to meet him...

Well, I think their behavior is just downright rude.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Sure wish I hadn't played that Get Out of Jail Free card so soon.

I got nothin'.

Still knitting the Niebling.

Still spinning the Goldie.

The Not Buffs are starting to lay eggs.

Madman is healing nicely. He'll be back to work soon. His orthopedist gave him a glowing report today.

Life is good. Though busy...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

That's odd...

The weather has been odd this year. (Though in Vermont, the weather is always a little odd...)
As I was driving home from work tonight (in the dark) (in the rain) (not snow), I realized I'd only needed a light sweater today. It's mid-November.
Last year we were wearing our winter coats in early October. And freezing our butts off.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Still wrestling with Standard Time

I really wish that Daylight Saving Time would just go on forever. Rolling back to Standard Time means it's pitch dark before 5:oo pm, which is wholly depressing. I get home from work feeling like I've worked a 14-hour day, just because it's so dark. I feel like I'm up past my bedtime when it's only 7:30.
And the sheep? They're not taking the change well at all. They've decided that the 'staff' has suddenly developed an appalling habit of sleeping in. And supper is late every.single.night.
And oh, my, how they complain...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

It's mid-November and I should be hip-deep in Christmas knitting...

And I'm not.
This is not good.
So far, I've started a hat.
Discouraging, to say the least.
I have three shawls in progress - all for me.
I have a couple of sweaters in progress - once again, for me.
For years I knit for others - spouse and children and siblings and parents - and I never ended up with anything for myself.

I think there's been some form of backlash...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Playing the Get Out of Jail Free card...

Too tired to post, so I'll just share the site of my favorite photographer. Though it might be the captions that are the best part...
Go spend an hour or two!

Friday, November 12, 2010

It's chicken time!

It occurs to me that I haven't shared a picture of our new rooster. He was a gift from Madman's folks - they'd bought some straight-run New Hampshire Reds and had an overabundance of roosters. This guy was too pretty to go in the freezer, and since they already had plenty of roosters to keep their hens giggly, they passed him along to us.

Standing behind him is a young rooster that we hatched ourselves last spring - one of the few survivors of our incubating efforts. (I was going to post a link, but it made me too sad.)

So far we're calling them New Rooster and Little Rooster. Not inspired names, but descriptive.

And I might as well throw in a view of some of the Not Buff Orpingtons while I'm at it.

The neck feathers on this one are amazing. They're white with the edges tipped in brown.

And here's one of our older hens, molting. Because the best time to let all your feathers fall out is in November in Vermont.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Why is Bloglines trying to make me nuts?

Because I swear they are.
First they were going to close down at the end of September. I put off dealing with it until the middle of the month, then finally switched all my feeds to Google Reader.
I don't like Google Reader nearly as well.
(Why do I have to tell it to mark the posts as read? Isn't just reading them good enough?)
(And why do they put all blogs whose titles start with "The" under "T"? Suddenly I had to look for "The Panopticon" under the T's, instead of under the P's where it belongs.)
(And I think some of the feeds didn't transfer at all. And with the 200+ blogs I try to follow, it was easy to miss the fact that some of my favorites hadn't come along for the ride.)
Then Bloglines announced that they were extending the deadline through the month of October.
Ditherer Supreme that I am, I had to decide whether to keep reading Google Reader, or use Bloglines for as long as they lasted. Decisions, decisions. I decided that I might as well continue to make the best of it, and stick with Google Reader, since I was going to be stuck with it forever anyway.
Now Bloglines announces that some other company is going to continue the service unchanged. So I've switched back to Bloglines.
But, after several weeks of ignoring them, I'm now almost 2000 posts behind. Some of them I read on Google Reader, but since Bloglines doesn't know that...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

This blows me away

Tammy Rizzo's Ply-on-the-Fly technique.

And she's got an updated version.

I haven't been brave enough to try it yet...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Just in case there was a pool...

My official cast-on time for Lyra was this morning at 10:42.

The first time.

Then I realized that "Knit all intermediate rounds" meant exactly what I suspected it did. One round too late, of course.

So my second official cast-on time for Lyra was this morning at 10:52.
(Y'all can settle on a winner by yourselves.)

And away we go...

If you're wondering how I missed that key clue - check out the size of the row numbers on this chart. (It's inside the '0' hole of my needle gauge.) Hard to see, even with bifocals. That's my story, anyway.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Of Chicken Guts,Twitchy Fingers, and Imaginary Friends

Since I had today off and Madman is feeling more mobile, we butchered a couple of chickens this morning. They were some of our remaining meat birds that had gotten a reprieve when Madman slagged his knee, due to the fact that neither one of us was capable of carrying a madly-flapping well-over-10lb bird*. These are some big honkin' chickens at this point. Picture a blimp with feathers. Picture a blimp with feathers taking 5 minutes to turn around 180 degrees, with little tiny shuffling steps. Big honkin' chickens.
One is in the freezer and the other is in the oven. Full of stuffing. The house is starting to smell really good...

The twitchy fingers are due to this:

I soooo want to cast on. This very minute. Like in now. If I could type and cast on at the same time, I'd have needles in hand.
(I'm still trying to decide if I want to let my innate stubbornness win and finish the Frosted Ferns that I've started (and tinked and knit and tinked) or if I should let my sensible side reign and just chuck the whole project out the window.)
The Great and Powerful Cookie took pity on me as I beat my head on the chartless Niebling and passed along a Niebling that is less likely to land me in the Loony Bin.
She's one of my very favorite Imaginary Friends... (I was once trying to explain to my mother about friends that I'd made on the internet, whom I've never met in person, and she said "So, basically they're your imaginary friends then." Never argue with your mother. (You won't win, anyway))

*These birds dressed out to over 10lbs. Picture a small turkey. We have no idea what they weighed before we removed all the unnecessary bits...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I'm getting faster

Daylight Saving Time again.
I managed to reset my watch myself this time.
And it only took half an hour...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

I didn't know Churchill was a knitter...

Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.
-Sir Winston Churchill

Friday, November 5, 2010

Just under the wire

This post, that is.
Our chickens are another story. I keep wanting to get a picture of them at roosting time, but lately either I've been working at that time, or it's been pouring rain, or both.
It seems that our little Not-Buff-Orpingtons (who are now getting old enough to lay eggs - I found one in their coop the other day) basically just stay in their pen out of politeness. It's certainly not because they think they're confined.
I got home from work recently at about dusk, and saw that there were two of the little hens roosting on the gate, three more on top the fence, one on top of the coop door, and two on the roof. That means that only four were availing themselves of the shelter of the coop.
They're definitely not Buff Orpingtons. They may not even be chickens...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Spinning round and round

I manage to squeeze in a little spinning time here and there, but not nearly enough.
Progress is slow, but steady.

I love the yarn I'm getting from Goldie's fleece. It's a glorious heathery cream/gray. I've been recording the yardage on each skein as I take it off the niddy-noddy, but I'm purposely not totalling them up until the project is finished. I'm sure I'll get enough for a good substantial sweater, but I want the final total to be a surprise.

Three-ply makes it seem like it takes forever to get anywhere, but at worsted weight, at least the bobbins fill fast.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

For I am weary, and my Niebling has no chart.

I don't understand why tinking is slower than knitting...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Vote, USA!

If you don't vote, you've got no right to bitch.
(Personally, I like to bitch, so I vote every time they give me a chance...)

Monday, November 1, 2010

It's that time of year again...

Though I don't join (not a joiner, me), I do the work. This will be my third year of self-flagellation posting daily for the month of November.
So, I'll open with a Madman progress report. He's now had two PT sessions (the first was only 48 hours after the surgery, which seemed awfully soon to me...) and is doing well. He's gone from crutches to furniture-walking (and how I adore that term!) to walking unaided. Well, hobbling unaided, but the progress is clearly visible. With his eye firmly on the prize, he's keeping up with the deer talk in the area - who's seen deer, and where, and how they were behaving. Hunting season is one powerful carrot on a stick.
Frankly, I'll just be glad when he's healed enough to carry big sacks of animal feed again. Apparently, the sight of a 100-lb woman staggering up a hill with a 50-lb sack of grain is either amusing or guilt-inducing, depending on whether you're a sheep or Madman. (Those little fuzzlumps thought I couldn't hear them tittering behind their hooves...) I'd been watching the feed level in the galvanized can we use for storage falling lower and lower, but had been hoping that Madman would be back up to par before the time came to refill it. I tried talking the sheep into going on reduced rations to stretch out the feed, but they didn't think it was fair for them to have to go on a diet just because the female member of the staff was too lazy to carry a piddling little 50-lb bag up a steep hill.
It's amazing what you can do if you put your mind to it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

He's home

A little loopy from the meds, but happily on the road to recovery. He'll have to spend the next couple of days planted on the couch, leg elevated, with ice galore.
Seventeen days to the start of deer season, thirty-two days to the end...

Madman's going into the shop for repairs...

It's the Big Day. Madman had his pre-op stuff yesterday, and the surgery is this afternoon. He's sooooo looking forward to getting this process rolling.
Let the healing begin!

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Madman status report

He had his MRI last week, and saw the orthopedist today. Surgery next week, 2 weeks recuperation , 6 weeks physical therapy.
He's been doing the math - looks like he'll be sufficiently recovered in time to hit the woods with his rifle for at least part of deer season.
The man has priorities, after all...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

OMG - it's almost November...

Part of me is thinking I should be limbering up for NaBloPoMo by posting more frequently. The other part is thinking I should be squirrelling away post ideas for NaBloPoMo, so why waste them now.
Dither dither dither.
You can pick me out in any crowd - I'm the one in the corner arguing with myself...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Of Sheep and Chickens and Blown-Out Knees

I figured it was about time I put up some pics of the animals, so I headed out outside armed with my camera. I briefly thought about trying to get some photos of the rabbits, but they look exactly the same as the last time I photographed them. Though maybe a little fatter. Anyway, if you're interested, just click on 'rabbits' over in the sidebar. (Though the first thing that will come up is the sad story of Hopper. Just warning you.)

The sheep are another story. They loooooove to have their picture taken. So much so, that they crowd forward to be first.

I managed a quick shot of Onyx by distracting them with some tossed in blades of grass.

I had to give up on capturing a pic of Merlin - he insisted on pressing his nose up against the lens in every picture. You can't take a picture with a sheep nose pressed on the lens. Truly.

Goldie used to be easier to photograph, back when she thought we were the Spawn of Hell and refused to get near us. But in the last couple of weeks, she's suddenly gotten friendly. After a year and a half, she finally trusts us not to eat her if she gets within reach.

Now she does this.

And this.

She'll actually come up to us now and let us scritch her. In fact, she insists that we scritch her. We're flabberghasted and delighted.

On to the chickens.
These are some of the hens that we got as chicks last spring. The ones that were supposed to be Buff Orpingtons, but clearly are not.

Definitely not.

Not even close.

Mutts. That's what they are. Guess who we'll never be buying chickens from ever ever again?

And the blown-out knee? That would be Madman. Torn meniscus. Pain. Crutches. Inactivity. I think it's the inactivity that's bugging him the most. Not a guy who likes to just sit around, my Madman.
MRI and surgery coming up.
Poor Madman.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Hip Deep in Green Tomatoes

Why does it seem like I work harder on my days off than I do at work? (And I work really really hard at work...)

I had to make a quick trip across the border to NH this morning. Shopping opportunities are limited up in our corner of the state, but goodies abound on the other side of the river. I'd no sooner crossed state lines when I saw blue lights flashing ahead - a cruiser and a big silver minivan were pulled over at the side of the road. I changed lanes to give them plenty of room, thinking the trooper had caught himself a speeder, when I saw a very large deer - a doe - lying dead at the edge of the road. The minivan had a serious punched-in look on its front bumper.
It's bow season for deer in Vermont - apparently NH has a minivan season.

(And remember this from last year? Yeah. Hunting season + Madman = that smell in the dryer area...)

We're madly putting the garden to bed (when Madman isn't sneaking through the woods with his bow) since they're predicting hard frosts for the next several nights. We've had a few light frosts that finished off the fragiles like beans and squash vines. Today he grabbed all the tomatoes and peppers out of the hoophouse, since it's going to be too cold for even that to offer protection. At the moment, every flat surface in the house is covered in tomatoes in all stages of ripeness.
Anyone got any good recipes for green tomatoes?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Update tomorrow. Swearz.

It's really hard to come up with something to post about lately. Same old, same old, every day, it seems.

Still spinning Goldie's fleece. Still...
Wrapping up garden stuff.
Work is work, and evermore shall be so.

I'd take pictures of the foliage, but last week's rain pounded all the leaves into the mud.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Never mind...

I wimped out and stayed home. I've been suffering with the current version of the Killer Cold that's going around up here, and the prospect of a long drive, with detours, in an unfamiliar area, just couldn't compete with the idea of lying on the couch wrapped in a quilt, knitting and whining.
There's always next year...

Friday, October 1, 2010

Holy Crap!

(I'm thinking of adopting 'Holy Crap' as my middle name, BTW. Seems like life is always sneaking up and surprising me...)

This time, the Holy Crap is for Vermont Sheep and Wool, which I thought was next weekend. It's this weekend.
Which means I have to go tomorrow, or I won't get to go at all.
Use it or lose it, so to speak.
A goodly portion of Vermont is currently flooded and impassible.
What the hell. As long as it's not raining crocodiles and elephants when I get up in the morning, I'll be headed out, Google map in hand.
Hopefully Google won't try to route me through Ohio this time...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pickin' n' Grinnin'

As in, finally I tried out my new picker. (Check out the link for full shots of the spiffy gizmo - I've only got closeups here.)

I grabbed some of Goldie's fleece that had been languishing forever. Well, at least since last month when I washed it expressly for trying out the new toy.

I loaded it up.

Ran the slider back and forth a few times.

And a big ball of fluff comes out the other end. Amazing!

I ran it back for another pass.

The verdict? It opens the fiber really really nicely, and gets out all the smaller bits of VM. Not so good on the big bits, but those are the easy ones to pick out by hand anyway, so I'm pleased. In a matter of minutes, I had a huge pile of fluff ready for the carder that was practically VM-free. (And if you've heard me whine about how full-of-crap my Goldie's fleece was, you'll know what a boon that is.)

View the crap left behind...

My favorite part is the cleaning instructions that came with the picker:
Turn it over and dump it out.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Home again, home again, jiggety jog

I actually got in around 9 o'clock last night, but was way too tired to talk, let alone post. Back to reality today, with a full plate at work, so I'm still tired.
But I had a great time, visiting relatives, partying with my dad for his birthday, and there was The Great Pig Chase.
A neighbor had dropped by right around dusk to let us know some pigs were out and wandering up by the road. We grabbed flashlights and ran out the door, my dad and I going one way, and my daughter and stepmom the other. Dad checked the barn as we went by, to see who was missing - Chunk and his two lady friends had apparently decided a post-supper stroll was a wonderful idea. I spotted fresh pig tracks in the driveway (not that I'm much of a tracker, but with recent rain and lots of mud, even I could spot the tracks) and had just pointed them out - "Look, there's pig tracks" - when I looked up and spotted pigs. "Look, there's pigs." I blocked one possible exit while Dad looped around behind them to urge them back to the barn. They trotted past me and I stayed to guard the rear in case they changed direction, joined by my daughter who had worked her way around by way of the road. But we figured they were headed back to the pen anyway, since they were happy to get settled back in their comfy quarters for the night. If the neighbor hadn't tattled on them, they probably would have gone back to their pen by themselves, leaving us with a driveway full of tracks and a mystery the next morning.
Herding pigs by flashlight - you just can't buy entertainment like that...

Friday, September 17, 2010

More on the hay sculptures

Apparently this is a much bigger deal than I realized.
Here's a link to some photos. I didn't see all of these, and I don't see a photo of the cows that I did see. (Well, I thought I saw cows. They sure looked like cows. Well, I sure thought they looked like cows. Maybe they weren't cows at all...)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

September is kicking my ass

So much to do, between the garden, the animals, getting ready for winter (sigh), even without the spinning and knitting.
I'm not only behind in posting, I'm behind in my blog reading. (Bloglines informs me I have well over 800 posts to read...)
So, naturally, I've gone on vacation.
I'm currently visiting my dad, relaxing, recharging my batteries.
I'll try to post a few notes from the road, but be warned that I forgot the camera.
I really really would have liked to get some photos of the latest fad around Killington - hay bale sculptures. Teddy bears, cows, jack-o-lanterns. And penguins. You haven't lived until you've seen a family of hay bale penguins...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Whole lotta not-picking goin' on

I'd wanted to try out my new yarn picker today. I've got wool all washed and ready to go. I had the day off.
The day just got jam-packed.
We butchered a couple of chickens this morning, Madman and I. The original plan was to do the remaining 10, but none of our helpers (i.e. amateur chicken-pluckers) could come and help today. So we tackled what we could handle, given how many other projects we had for the day.
Then we put 24 pounds of elderberries in the freezer. (Woohoo! Free fruit!) I would have taken pictures, but it's the same process as last year. Forks, fruit, bowls. Berries ricocheting all over the kitchen. After the first couple of hours, the fun starts to wear off...
We didn't start any wine, yet, but we will. In the meantime, the freezer is holding the elderberries for us, and, as a by-product, doing the mashing for us as well. (The formation of ice crystals within the berries smashes the heck out of them. Does a much better job than we could ever do with a potato masher.)
I butched the basil, since now that it's almost September, we could get a frost at any time. (Gotta love Zone 3. *sigh*) I made 3 batches of pesto, 2 of which went into the freezer. I filled icecube trays with the glorious green stuff - I'll bag up the individual cubes once they're frozen solid. Perfect little portions to add to pasta or soup, come winter. (So our ice cubes will taste a little funny for awhile. Big deal.)
And somewhere in between all this, I managed to bake a loaf of bread.
Madman picked beans while I was picking basil. We ate some for supper, but the rest went into the fridge, since we'd completely run out of steam by then. Tomorrow is another day.
And the rest of supper? The Second Annual first pestodilla of the season - homegrown tomatoes and homemade pesto. Life is good...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Still kicking. And knitting.

Life goes on. Goldie eventually stops crying and searching for her lost lamb. We stop tearing up every time we look at the sheep pasture. We're counting on better luck next time. (I think we've earned it...)

In the meantime, Goldie's fleece is being spun, slowly but surely.And there's been knitting.
Maplewing has been temporarily supplanted.

I Niebled. I have committed Niebling. I blame Cookie.

In this picture, you can see my cheat. There's no chart, so as I complete each round, I mark it out with highlighter. I'd much prefer a chart, which makes it easier to read the lace, but that's not an option with this particular pattern.
And this is the third iteration of this project - I'm shooting for a shawl rather than a doily, and the first try was on needles that were too small. (I wanted a shawl that was bigger than 24", which is what my best geometric skills told me would be the diameter, extrapolating on the first 20 rounds.)
On the second try, I'd hit 24 rounds when I realized I'd dropped a stitch around row 11. (One of those k2togs that didn't meld properly...)
This is the third try, and I'm sure hoping it's the charm.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Damn it to hell.

We lost Kohl.
Our best guess is pneumonia brought on by heat stress.
Goldie is crying.
So are we.
I've run out of words.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I can be picky about birthday presents.

Seriously. And here's why...

Big heavy box. Very heavy.
A collaborative gift from Madman and our two daughters.

The only marking on the box was an address in Oklahoma. No help there.
Finally got one end of the box open. I could see wood, but couldn't get the object out of the box.
Did I mention it was heavy?
So I cut open the other end, and pushed.

What the? A coffin for garter snakes?

But wait. Let's get a closer look at the interesting end. I had an inkling at this point. Do you?

Open the latch, lift the lid, and...

It's a handmade wool picker. And not the scary pendulum kind. (You know, the do-it-yourself mastectomy kit.)
Best. Present. Ever.
Now I've just got to go wash some more fleece...

It's my birthday, so I made myself a present. (How to make a lavender wand)

And I remembered to take pictures, so you can make one, too!

I read about Lavender Wands years ago - a nifty little sachet made of woven ribbon and stems of lavender - and wanted to try it myself.
There were a few bumps in the road, however...

Year one with the lavender - the plant was too young and didn't put off enough blooms.
Year two with the lavender - I picked the lavender, carefully dried it, then read the instructions. I was supposed to make the wand while the stems were still green and pliable. And unfortunately, I'd picked all the lavender. It's tucked away in my sewing room somewhere. I think.
Year three with the lavender - I forgot to watch for blooms. By the time I remembered to pay attention, it was too late. Blooming over.
Year four with the lavender - a tough winter killed off about half the plant. Not enough blooms.
Year five with the lavender - rain and more rain and even more rain. Not enough blooms.
Year six with the lavender - there'd been some recovery from winterkill, but summer was a repeat of the previous year. Still not enough blooms.
Year seven - hey! That's this year! And look! Lavender!

All you need is stems of lavender and ribbon. I used an inexpensive polyester ribbon, because that's what I had on hand. Silk ribbon would probably be extremely nice for this. Be sure to cut the lavender stems nice and long. (I used 17, because that was almost all I had. Be sure to use an odd number of stems!)

Step 1: Line up the bases of the flowers. Make a slipknot in the end of the ribbon and snug it up tight around the stems, just under the flowers. (Don't cut the ribbon from the spool. There's no way of estimating how much will be needed, and you don't want to run short in the middle of weaving.)

Step 2: Spread the stems out like the spokes of a wheel. The flowers will be pointed down, and the stems will be bent outward. Use your thumb to try to hold them into place.

Step3: Start weaving. For the first row or two, go over and under a couple of stalks at a time, since it's pretty tight going. (Note - you can weave clockwise or counterclockwise - whichever feels more comfortable. Doesn't make the least bit of difference in the final product.)

Step 4: Keep weaving. From here on, go over one, under one, around and around.

Here's what it looks like from the bottom.

Step 5: Start tapering. By pushing down gently on the stems, and pulling the ribbon a little tighter, the weaving will start to enclose the flowers. Keep going.

Basically, you're weaving a cage around the flowers.

Now here's where the camera bit me on the ass. Though it assured me it was diligently recording the pictures of the next steps, it lied.
So, step 6: (not pictured) When the weaving reaches the point shown in the last picture, start gradually pulling the ribbon a bit tighter as you go around. Not drastically, or the ribbon in previous rows will go all wonky and loose - you just want it to start gently tapering.
Step 7: (also not pictured) The last row or two, after you're past the last of the flower tips, will be woven over 2-3 stems at a time and under 2-3 stems. Wind the ribbon around the last row of weaving and then down the stems for an inch or so. Tie it off with a bow, cut the ribbon, and trim the ends of the stems even. Take a sniff or two (it smells divine!) and hang it somewhere airy to dry.


And only 7 years in the making! Maybe patience really does pay off...