Sunday, December 31, 2006

Guess what I forgot to do when I turned the heel. That's right, forgot to add that nifty little reinforcing thread.

As for the pooling, I kept thinking I was going to have an increased number of stitches at the turn- forgetting that the short row geometry adds distance without adding stitch numbers.

And look at that, the pooling didn't shatter- it just keeps spiraling around until, mysteriously it decided to switch direction up here near the top of the leg.

I am a little bit concerned about getting a real soft stretchy bind off. I think I will try the "Russian Bind Off" which I found on in this very informative listing of Laurie B's Toes and Heels.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

This yarn is starting to pool a bit as the foot takes shape. This is not a self striping yarn- the patterns are coming from a very shallow angle of stacked color. The pure red sections of the yarn are only about 7 inches long. I don't mind the pooling at this point- but I imagine that when I get to the heel and the leg this striped effect will be broken up into a homogeneous mix. I think if I was doing a sock pattern which had a knit texture- I might be annoyed by the dominant pooling effect.

Friday, December 29, 2006

I gave a friend some sock yarn for Christmas (and bought myself some too!) The sales girl assured me that one large ball of the gift yarn would complete a pair of socks. I feel a little wary and didn't want my friend to have any more sock knitting frustrations (I won't elaborate... but let's just say that she deserves to have a nice trouble free knit by now) So upon gifting I suggested that we use her scale and my ball winder to split the ball in half and she knit the socks from the toe up till she runs out of yarn. She's game- but neither of us have done toe up socks- so it will be a learning experience for the two of us.

Beth, from Crafty Canines Stuck on Socks suggested that I try the classic toe up pattern from Wendy Johnson. Last night I tried my first provisional cast on and it was pretty fun to unzip that cast on chain. I'm still not the most secure short row knitter, but the miters of the toe seem to have fallen into place and the foot is getting right going now. I had to rework my stitch counts a little because I'm only getting 6 stitches to an inch on these size 2 needles.

The yarn is Lang Yarns "Ja Woll" and it came with a nifty little spool of single play thread... duh... I was thinking it was for finishing, forgetting that socks really don't have finishing- so why would they have that in the package!? Silly me- it's a strand of reinforcing thread, and I didn't figure that out till just now- so I guess one toe is not going to have reinforcing- but both heels will.

There is some really bright news on the farm- our hens have started laying again. It was so hard to even use store bought eggs when we are so spoiled on farm eggs. The baby managed to get on the table today and knock a few fresh eggs together- since they were cracked already I thought I'd open them onto a plate and show a color comparison between two of our eggs and an egg from a factory farm. Not only are these farm eggs coming from happy pastured poultry, providing a much more beautiful food - they are lower in calories, lower in the bad cholesterol and higher in omega 3 fatty acids than eggs from battery hens. If the visible evidence right on this plate here is not enough - read this great article from Mother Earth News. Here is a chart which shows the nutrients of eggs compared- so why does the American Egg Board say that “The nutrient content of eggs is not affected by whether hens are raised free-range or in floor or cage operations."

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Here is the picture which almost didn't happen. In the first week of December I took the baby to the doctor for his one year well baby check. The baby is thriving and healthy, but I was fighting a mean sinus infection. We joined John for lunch and then took him back to work.

I sat for several minutes in the mall parking lot and tried to muster the courage to get all three kids out of the truck and into the core of the mall for a photo and visit with Santa. I could barely breathe and the thought of the task was almost too much- but I pulled it together and decided that there are some things you just have to do- so we went for it... only to be turned away from the back of the long line because Santa was going to lunch. This event seemed to set the tone for the rest of the month of December.

Near the end of the month John suggested that we give it one more try and he would meet me after work and provide the moral support and whatever else it took to get these kids onto Santa's lap. I didn't manage to get out of the house on time, so John had to kill an hour waiting for us before we all went into the mall together. This time when we got to the amazingly short line to see Santa- we were greeted by a lady with a clipboard and an imposing tower of stacking beepers. What a brilliant merchandising concept- allow people to wander around the mall shopping rather than spend time not shopping on the Santa line. Only thing was, the "wait" was an unusually round number- two hours. Hmmm.... who came up with this one? Poor John, to think he had just spent the past hour waiting for us in the parking lot.

We got to test out the new food court, complete with it's uncleanable glass tabletops, lousy acoustics, strangely malfunctioning modern toileting systems and creepy claustrophobic safe room style nursing closet. (I think we will have to revisit this allocated nursing room topic again.)

At least when we finally got to visit Santa, Angus didn't cry, he was very interested in looking at Santa and they could barely get him to break his focus to look around at the camera.

Monday, December 25, 2006

This curtain was my Christmas gift to Fiona. It's about $50 worth of materials and 6 hours of labor, I got the fabrics on sale- and I'm very happy with the finished result, much nicer than any of the other "indoor play tent" arrangements I have seen in catalogs. It was a trick to tailor it because I had to factor for the slope of the ceiling when I did the scallops up at the top. I also was doing all the work in secret and away from our home... so that was the biggest hurdle. Big thanks go out to my friends who helped with babysitting! Does anyone know if there is a proper name for this type of curtain/headboard arrangement?

Saturday, December 16, 2006

I try so hard to keep my blog positive that the setbacks of late have left me with a bad case of writer's block. I can't figure a way past this hurdle other than stright over it and I'll be damned if I am going to let the problems of jobs poorly started take the blog out as well- so here goes. It turns out that the contractor we were working with was no good on many levels. Beyond that discovery, we lost our weather or hope of finding anyone else who could do a proper job, what needs to be done - it simply isn't possible to do what needs to happen in freezing or unpredictable weather. We had to face the facts that this job was not going to get done this year, so we wrapped it up... literally.

I hope my friends understand that my Holiday Greeting is not a joke about Jesus, it's a joke on me... because I had really hoped on decorating the cabin with some classic porch lights and a wreath on the door with white candles in the new windows... you can close your eyes and imagine it for me can't you?

Oh, and while you have your eyes closed, you may want to keep them closed and not scroll further if you don't want to see a picture of me skinning a deer. This deer was a gift from John's boss. We skinned it and quartered it at his hunting farm in Kentucky. After we brought it home John did all the hard work of the finish butchering in the kitchen while I went out shopping. We haven't had steaks for a while and boy the were delicious- John is really quite a chef!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Also discovered in the mantle was this small metal object. It appears to be brass and has two sets of lines scribed around it. It is shaped very much like a pen nib, but the metal is very heavy and it's much larger than any nib I have seen.There is no split at the tip to allow ink to flow. Any ideas as to what it might be?
The mantle comes off.

Here is a detail of the mystery sticks... knitting?

This is the Warner's Safe Yeast ad from the flipside.

Log joists under the house.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Today was heavy steady rain so the outside progress on the chimney was held up a little, but John had taken the day off work and was going to make the most of it. The guys just moved inside and made some amazing progress on the interior fireplace. There was a layer of brick which was laid right on top of the floor- that and the old mantle were removed- and a hole cut in the floor so that we could pour a proper slab for a hearth- and when we finish the hearth- it will be level with the floor- opening up a lot more options for that floor space. Cutting a hole in the floor gave us a great view of the joists under the cabin which look to be in great condition.

In the process of removing the mantle, John found some crumbly brown paper which he quickly passed off to me and got back to business. One little booklet was folded in thirds and the paper is very damaged from... (what eats away old paper? termites?) The booklet is stapled along the binding and I am afraid to open it and break all the pages. ...part of it I can read a list of maladies... some other scraps of paper he handed me actually fit in the same image, a beautiful although only partial, full color image of a ...(play twilight zone theme here)... a mother, by a fireplace... with her baby learning to walk!

Here are the three pieces, details in the scene: herbs hanging above the fireplace, a gun over the mantle, hat and coat hung on the wall, a cup and cream pitcher on the table and a third figure seated at the table, this figure appears to be wearing a white ruffled bonnet visible right at the edge of the window frame. There are three thin sticks on the table which I can not identify... but I think they might be knitting needles!!

On the flipside of this page is an ad for Warner's Safe Yeast which has testimonials from around the country and the date July 12, 1887 included (gotta love it when they just give you a date like that!)

Well, I was going to post some more pictures but that's not going well. More later!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The stone (from Kentucky) is washed prior to cutting.

The hole.

This is the back of the unfinished chimney as it was when it was covered with siding many years ago.

The chimney after only one day.

The chimney at the end of the second day.

(Angus chose this week to walk!)

Yeah big boy!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Finally finished! The shoulders of this sweater are pure fun. They have a very native dancer type of feel to them, like eagle wings. A tiny hint of Egypt and a tiny bit o' rasta. The color shading of the yoke bands shade around from front to back.. The center of the back starts with yellow, the arms have red- and the front is blue. I think the climbing ring of yellow adds a little extra visual movement to the entire design.

I love to see his cute face in the middle of that sunburst!

Friday, November 10, 2006

This little sweater for Angus is turning into a very elaborate project. It started in linen stitch with some inexpensive acrylic "Crayon" yarn. Shortly after the lower edge took shape- the yarn began to pool in the most amazing way- like a giant sunset across the back. I fell in love with this unintentional design element and began to try to think of ways to build on it.

I knew the pooling pattern could not survive the arm join, so I decided to switch to a stranded knitting yoke in black and crayon- maybe thinking back to those crayon scratch off art projects from elementary school. I quit with the linen stitch and started knitting a pattern in the varigated yarn with stockinette- but the darkest purple color was just losing it against the black and the patterns would not stand up if they continued being broken by sections of purple popping in here and there in varigate yarn fashion. Ripped that out and back to the armjoin row.

Next game plan was to simplify the design to vertical bars of color between black bars- but rather than allow the rainbow to trace out horizontally- I was going to force each strand of spectrum to shade upward in a straight line by using an intarsia type technique.

I wound off my yarn around some chairs and cut lengths carefully so that the colors shaded in a way that reflected the pooling colors of the lower torso. 25 strands of yarn + one black. I had difficulty at first figuring out how to manage these pieces, (first with 25 little cardboard bobbins- that was a nightmare.) I began to think a simple braid would avoid tangles and then it struck me that if I chained the hank from the tail in- I could feed out new yarn as I needed it by unchaining from the top.

This is not true intarsia because the black strands behind the colored bars- the colored bars are only twisted in once each row- so the colored bar is attached- but slightly able to slide on the strands holding it. I will have to see after blocking if this is an interesting or problematic feature- the ability of the colored bars to curl in on themselves vertically without having to shoulder the stretch of the garment which is bourne entirely by the black stranding- gives the colored sections a little puff.

I'm not working from a pattern and I hope that I can decrease through the shoulders in a harmonious way right up to the neck.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Yesterday, among other things- Phil pulled my giant rock out of the ground with his machine. I found this rock buried in mud years ago and all I knew was that it was big. (Rocks like this are very unusual for our farm)

I am hoping that we can use this rock for our front step.

I asked Broadus to take a photograph of the rock being sure to include something for a size reference. I love the resulting photo (notice the teeny tiny horses in the scene) Speck assumes the "Lion King" pose.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

After at least a century the logs are revealed. In a bold move I am sure seems akin to wearing our underpants on top of our jeans...

We are exposing the original log walls of the 1845 cabin. It was covered with clapboard siding probably as soon as the homeowner/builder (Charles and Elvira David) could afford it. They say that back then everyone would have wanted a clapboard sided house as there was no status or fashion in a crude log cabin. Oh and the clapboard was so beautifully finished! Mr. David was a captain and also had a partnership in a local drygoods store.

Revealing this west wall today uncovers a new mystery... a never finished fireplace back (square hole to the right of the bushes)- log walls without any stone chinking behind the clapboard sides (to the right of the fireplace)... no stones, no plaster, no mud... nothing but fist sized gaps between the logs... stones don't evaporate, and termites don't eat them... whoever put the clapboard siding on there- put it up over these huge uninsulated gaps. Nothing is really holding the logs in place where they are cut for the fireplace except for the framing around the hole! Other areas of the cabin do have fully finished chinking- so it must have been removed - What were they thinking? ...not even any mud or straw for insulation!

I can't say I really understand what was going on here, because there were local homes built with brick or milled lumber. It does not seem that the cabin was erected without effort- but aspects of how the cabin was finished seem such a mystery. We have to think on our feet because we didn't know what we would be dealing with untill the siding came off- but now we have winter fast on our heels and little more (or less) than some drywall holding it off.

We will probably do a fieldstone square in the central area to finish the fireplace back.

This is a close up of the southwest corner joints where the rest of the house was added on. I wonder why the angled panels? Some interior plaster lath visible. The log joints are shaped like a little house with a pointed roof.

I think I should have learned yoga last week. I am so stressed right now.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The majorette and the baby clown! What fun we had!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Off to the Halloween parade!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Last Sunday we went to the Ohio Cup Disc Dog competition at Riverdowns Racetrack (in the infield) The weather was awful- it was cold with no sun and a brutal hard wind blasting us across the filed all day. I packed a camping tent to shelter the baby and that worked out really well. Mom joined us with some meatloaf for lunch and held the baby in the tent when we went out and took turns trying to throw discs to Speck in the toss-n'-fetch. Everyone in the family, even Fiona, did better than me. My frisbees flew like turkeys thrown from a helocopter. Speck was fantastic and undistracted by the other dogs and people there. He did so well for John and Broadus that they made the cut to go on to the second round. Broadus wound up winning third place Juniors- and he got a beautiful ribbon and dogtag medal.

I photoshopped this picture as a joke to show what the weather felt like.

I have wanted to take a picture of the kids and the goat cart with the fall colors for two years now and today it was warm enough for them to wear their German costumes. I was kind of hoping to get something greeting card quality, but my focus and timing were off today. The kids did great modeling under the circumstances. (headstrong goat issues)

I made Fiona a hat in 24 hrs- it was a very rewarding knit to have a start and finish. I used some white unspun Icelandic yarn I had recycled out of a Goodwill sweater. Yesterday I dyed two small hanks with Wilton's dyes and by evening the yarn was dry and ready to knit.

The pattern is a really cute elfin little thing with a mitered ribbed edge and short row filling in the ear flaps.

The color pattern was just something I made up. This hat really hugs the face and nape of the neck. It's tempting to always put ties on an earflap hat- but for this design that would be overkill. I finished the hat by 9 AM and it was big enough to fit me- I popped it in the wash and it felted down really nice. This is going to be a WARM hat. I'll make Angus one after we get through haloween.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Last week I put a lot of work into rehabbing our chicken shed. I pressure washed the old paint off, took off the old rotted trim and replaced it with new, reframed the door and built a new dutch door (which was a trick because the walls are not plum), put in a concrete step and ramp, repainted the rabbit hutch and the shed- interior and exterior, changing the color from peeling white to neutral greens. I want to do the block pony barn to match before winter, and I hope that I get enough warm weather yet to paint.

Bianca the bunny has not been feeling well and she went to the vet on Saturday for snuffles. She is now in antibiotics 2x a day and seems to be doing better on them. At first I thought the change in her behavior had to do with changing the color of her hutch- but when she developed labored breathing I knew it was more than that.

I'll finish here with some pictures of Speck's frisbee antics. He is such a jock and a joker. We play with him every night and he brings us a lot of joy. He is even developing a backflip- but it's difficult to catch on film.

Speck's herding is also improving as we are now letting the goats go loose out of their small pen to the big horse pasture. Speck is getting better at listening to me when I ask him to gently drive them out of the pen and he backs off when I tell him. He also knows that penning is the goal when we bring them in and he no longer charges inside the pen behind the goats- now he stands proudly at the gate with a grin on his face.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

See a video of me spinning with my Kromski Polinaise.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The baby goats are so sweet to handle for shearing, they are not like the big goats at all, they are so soft and lightweight- they just go limp and lay still for the most part, even when not being held in a shearing hold. After shearing Jesse in a shearing hold (you can see him nekked and peeking out from the side of the proch) my back was already complaining- so I put April on the table (yes- there is a goat in there) and she just laid there like a kitty getting her belly rubbed. Look maaaaa.... no hands!

If you don't rememebr who April is, you can check back in the April 2006 archive and see pictures of her then. She was May's girl twin and could not stand up after being born. She could not nurse because of this and I worked very hard to get that baby up to her mom regularly. She wore little braces on her legs made out of yarn and duct tape and within a few days she was able to rise and walk unassisted. Look at her now! Jesse was Nana's boy twin, and her is the newborn Nana is cuddling in that touching birth photo.

I tried washing fleece with Orvus paste for the first time- that stuff works really well. It cost about $20 for 120 oz at the farm supply store. I have heard it also does wonders to get Clydesdale feathers white. The first batch of fleece I washed bits that I considered grade B, dirtier and a little matted, but not bad enough to toss. After washing I thought I may as well dye it right then since it was already wet and hot.

I dyed a pink and blue cotton candy combo- and it combs out into a really soft lilac. If I can figure out how to spin it- I might use it on a hat for my daughter. It's not really grade B after all!

Friday, September 15, 2006

It's a crisp cool September morning and my left foot is snug and warm in my new sock. I won a contest over at and my prize arrived this week- totally making my day. I was headed out to an afternoon of dance classes with the kids and was lamenting the fact that I didn't have any knitting to bring with- and there on the mailbox was a package containing two beautiful balls of Sisu fantasy from Norway. I dashed in the house to grab my sock needles and we were off.

I made the pattern up as I went and decided to try a few elements offered by Elizabeth Zimmerman in "Knitting Without Tears" The four stitch garter border on the heel flaps and a German heel. I don't like the German heel- it's too square and baggy, not fitted- and since these were going to be clog socks- the baggy heel is a downer. The sides of the heel flaps on the other hand- are as streamlined as can be- a benefit lost when wearing shoes that don't touch the sides of your feet.

The top stripe of the sock is green and it worked out that the toe was green too- bonus! The green ran out about 5 rows too soon- so I borrowed some green from the other end of the ball to finish. The remaining yarn has no green left- yeeeowch- that was close! The other ball of Sisu does not start with a green repeat- which makes me think that I may not luck out being able to start and finish the same way. This other ball may be asking for yellow or aqua- which may leave my heels looking like nautical flags. I'm going to try to not stress about this. Knitting without anxiety!

I got my baby a pair of Robeez booties last week and as a big bonus for me- they came in this cute little bag- perfect for a sock project- it even has a little handle and a zipper and it fits two balls of yarn and a set of DPN's perfectly.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

I think that there is a very big clue as to who my secret pal is in the above photo- that yarn has got to be a clue... it's very beautiful varying from aqua to periwinkel tones. I'm pretty sure the fiber is silk- it's as soft and shiny as can be. At first glance I thought it was a machine made yarn- but as I untied the bow I saw that it's got some thick and thin and is navajo plyed- and no mill does that!

Another clue about my secret pal is that she is the princess of packaging. I think she might have experience in retail, industrial design, or guest industries- her packages are so beautifully crafted and chic. Major pampering!

Inside the package is a Procion adventure! I have never tried these dyes- and just yesterday I was talking to a friend who is a master of tye dye and batik and she told me that she gets all her supplies from Dharma Trading. I had just visited their website and was amazed and overwhelmed by the various offerings- and then today- as if by perfect intuition- Here is this beautiful package from my SP- it's Manos cotton and four colors of procionMX dye and the soda ash and urea! I am so excited to try this new dye process- I hope I don't mess it up.

When I took photos of this gift for the blog- I forgot that I had a sunset picture from the other day still on the disc- 3 of the the colors of the dye- *I think* are very close to the colors found in this scene! ( the black cherry is missing ) Nice huh?

Thursday, August 31, 2006

I had not tried dying my mohair roving, so this week I gave that a go. It was also an experiment in hand painted oven dyed roving. The last time I had dyed mohair it was in the locks which I then worked with combs. This time I wound up felting the mess of it. I don't know how that happened- but mohair likes to gob together just sitting around on a shelf, so I'm not at all surprised by the long colored strips of felt I produced. At least I was only doing a small trial run. It was slighty spinnable, but made my fingers tired. I do like the way that the pink, plum, grey, blue and white all meshed together in this marled 2 ply. I think I am going to have to stick with dying finished yarn.