23 December, 2011

Miss Manners

I've been reading through some old Miss Manners columns this morning.  I haven't had time to look at these for months, so I thought I'd take a bit of time and catch up.  It's a good thing to do while I'm putting my feet up, which I needed after running all over town yesterday evening and this morning.  Craziness!  I never go out this close to Christmas if I can help it, and waddling all over town five months pregnant was a bit much. 

At any rate, I was very pleased to discover that Miss Manners not only doesn't mind KIPing, but also realizes that annoying knitters may be hazardous.  She's pretty sharp! 

03 December, 2011

Ze knitting, she 'as been 'appening

Really, I've been a much better knitter than blogger this past Summer.  I finished two pairs of socks.  One for my sister, and one for myself.  The pair for my sister (the Jelly Bean socks, on my Ravelry project list) was presented on her birthday in August.  The pair for myself, the beautiful Lake Effect Socks, has disappeared into some vortex, which I failed to notice until cold weather arrived.  I prefer not to talk about it.

I also have been knitting for a special little man who arrived at a friend's house this summer.  First I made him Cargo pants, with a matching hat.  The pooling isn't nearly as noticeable in the actual garment; I hadn't even realized it did that until I looked at the camera.  I modified the pattern with a few short rows across the seat to accomodate cloth diapers, and used the cuff from the pants legs for the brim of the hat.  I was actually quite pleased when the hat brim started pooling, because I thought it would show off the colors nicely, where they really just look more mottled in the pants.  I'm not sure what happened with the picture!  Yarn used: Plymouth Yarn Fantasy Natura.

Then I heard he was outgrowing the hat, just as the weather turned cold, so I knitted him another one.  It came out a bit large; it's modeled here by my youngest, whose head is 2.5" larger than the baby's.  Hopefully he'll still be able to use it.  There was no pattern for this one.  I cast on 84 stitches, joined, knitted for a while, then began decreasing at four equi-distant points every other round.  When I got down to four stitches, I knitted i-cord for a while, then tacked it in a curl when I wove in my ends.  Yarn is Cascade 220 Superwash.  I was going for a gnomeish effect.  What do you think?

I also made mittens, but not enough.  So my youngest is wearing the pair that are too small (actually two halves of two different pairs; he calls them his Stoplight Mittens) so my oldest can wear the youngest's new mittens until I get mittens made for the oldest.  Did that make you dizzy?

Mittens drying in front of the heater, after the first (very wet!!) snowfall!  All knitted with Cascade 220.  You can barely see, in the turquoise pair, I ran out of yarn and finished the thumbs with the same yarn I used for the baby hat.

Pictures of wips coming soon, because there is Christmas knitting going on as well!

09 March, 2011

Where's the logic in that?

I posted this on my other blog, but since I began the chicken saga here as well, I thought I should finish it and not leave you all hanging.  So, here it is:

This post was supposed to be full of chipper advice about the wonders of Freecycle.  On Freecycle, I found shingles for my chicken coop roof, paint for the walls, and wire for the enclosure.  My hens have finished their molting (mostly) and we've been getting three eggs daily.  The whole family loves the chickens, and we've had so much fun watching them and just enjoying them.

However.  This past Monday I went before the City Council to plead for my hens...and was turned down.  Because last year, the citizens of this city informed the City Council that chickens in the city were Not Acceptable - apparently, they are noisy, smelly, and the eggs (!) attract rats - and so the new zoning regulation that would have permitted them was defeated.

And despite the fact that MY chickens are quiet, clean, don't smell, and don't attract rats, there are No Exceptions.  Not here.

Chicago will allow you to keep an unlimited number of chickens in the city (as long as they are for pets or eggs, not slaughter).  Toledo, Ohio allows chicken owners to get a variance from the City Health Inspector, an exception to the prohibition against "farm animals" in the city.  But not here.  Apparently, these people know better.

The next time these people are walking behind their dogs with little baggies of poop (or wishing that their neighbors would), I hope they think about the fact that chickens don't poop in other people's yards.

The next time a dog barks madly at three a.m. right next door, I hope they think about the fact that hens never make a noise louder than a t.v. or a noisy a.c. unit, and that only during the day.

The next time they shake their heads about the filthy yard full of cats and dogs (or one dog, or whatever) down the street, I hope it crosses their mind that it is FILTH that attracts rats, not chickens.  I find the assumption that I would allow my chickens to be filthy really quite insulting.  (And, by the way, I don't leave the eggs in the coop.  We bring them in the house and eat them ourselves, silly people.)

But, there is no reasoning with Concerned Citizens.  So, having cried in front of the City Council ("Clearly this is a very emotional issue for you." they said.  As though no rational person would be frustrated or upset at having to give up their pets because other people are being ridiculous.), as well as the Mayor, I'm re-homing my chickens.  And to everyone who will sleep better at night as a result, I wish a dog next door who barks at three a.m.

04 March, 2011

True Conversation

Tonight I decided that I should knit a sweater for my husband, so I went on Ravelry to look at patterns.  There's lots of patterns for men's sweaters.  I saw a nice basic v-neck sweater, and asked him, did he like it?  Yes, he replied, that was nice.  I made several comments about the construction, etc., and then pulled up the pattern page.  Looking at the photos more carefully, I realized this sweater has ribbing down the sides. 

I have no idea what my husband considers "manly" when it comes to knitting, and since I know that some men are rather particular, I thought I'd better ask.  Was ribbing ok?  He shrugged.  Did he like the ribbing?  He shrugged.  Would he like a sweater with this type of ribbing??  (I showed him the picture.)  He groaned and replied "I'd like roller skates."

22 February, 2011

How to build a chicken coop for free

Several weeks ago, I found an ad on Craigslist - 5 laying hens for $30.

There are women in this world who dream of fancy clothes, perfectly manicured nails, and beautiful shoes.  I dream of...chickens.  And how could I pass up a deal like that?

Problem the first:  Chickens need a place to live.
Problem the second:  We're poor.

Someone (was it Bell, or Einstein?) said that all you need to be an inventor is a pile of junk and a good imagination.  So we pulled out our pile of junk and looked it over.

This is what we came up with.  We also found two sheets of plywood (one long and skinny, one 4'x4'), and two rolls of linoleum that had been left here by the previous owners.  It seemed like a good start.

We took the platform that is there on the ground, and decided to make that our floor.  It was originally screwed to the crib ends for a loft bed for our oldest, and I thought we could just screw it back on further down, and close in the sides.  However, my husband had other ideas.

The 2x4s were different lengths, so he sawed them both in half, then used some strapping he'd saved to add a bit of structural integrity.   My baby helped:

I will say at this point, we looked at a web-site that said you should never start to build without a detailed plan for what you're going to do.  We didn't listen.  It worked out just fine, but the disadvantage of doing it that way is, you have to keep pausing to figure out what you're doing next.  I don't think it probably takes any longer in the end (planning takes time, whenever you do it), and it seems easier to me when you're trying to work with what you've got.  But I'm kind of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of person anyway, and you might prefer a bit more forethought.  So there you go.

Anywho, at this point we decided more wood was called for, and headed over to the local building supply store.  They have a pile of pallets out back, available free to whomever wants to pick through them.  We came home with these:

Can you believe all that wood was just going to be thrown away?  Pulling apart the pallets was a pain; my shoulders are still sore.  But they were free!  So we used those to cover over the walls.  We put another piece of strapping across the middle of each wall, and just screwed the boards to that, top, bottom, and middle.

The screws were a bit too long.  Fortunately, my husband got a dremel for Christmas, and he used that to cut off the ends flush with the wood.

We cut the 4'x4' piece of plywood to cover the floor, leaving it hanging out one end for egg boxes (we had to piece it to make it long enough).  That was where we left it Saturday night.  There wasn't a cloud in the sky, and so we left it out in the yard to finish Sunday afternoon.

Sunday morning when we woke up, it was raining.

We moved the coop into the garage, hoping it would dry quickly.  We didn't want to put the linoleum down on wet plywood, but (this is how I work) we were picking the chickens up THAT afternoon, so the coop sort of needed to be done.

We came home from church and continued working under grey skies, but the floor had dried, and we went ahead and tacked down the linoleum.  We finished the walls, and used a sheet of heavy plywood off one of the pallets to make egg boxes.  They were inserted into the end of the coop and screwed to the 2x4s, and then the floor was screwed to the bottom of the box.

Then we took the long, skinny sheet of plywood for the final wall.  Cut in half, it perfectly covered one long wall.  We hinged it at the bottom (with hinges we found in the basement) so the entire side can be opened up for cleaning.  To let the chickens out, we'll open one half, which will then work as a ramp.  Actually, the coop is low enough that I'm sure the birds don't need a ramp, but that was easier than figuring out how to prop the door open if we had hinged it from the top.

We finished that up about 9 o'clock, so we left the roof for another day.  The only cost for the coop was $3 for the tarp, plus hasps and latches for the two doors and the egg box.  We haven't put those on yet, so we're holding the egg boxes closed with bricks in the meantime.  The doors are held shut with screws, until we get those latches on.  So, to water the chickens, I have to get the drill, unscrew the door, and then screw it shut again when I'm finished.  That's a project for next weekend.

Here's a view of the egg box end:

Next up:  "It's not about what you have in your closet!  It's about who your friends are, and what they have in their closets!"  (Name that movie.)

16 February, 2011

The "Not Knitting" Time

Sorry for being away for so long.  My parents were in town, which was nice.  However, the day before they left my oldest threw up all day, and we subsequently spent two full weeks mostly sleeping, lying around, and recuperating.  That was mostly time spent Not Knitting.

You know how that goes.  You lay there and think "Gee, I could work on Project X."  And you think about it for a while.  And then you think "Or I could start a pair of socks..."  And you think about that for a while.  Or you ponder a lace chart you're working through, or think about exactly what went wrong with the sweater last week.  But you don't knit, for whatever reason.  That's "Not Knitting", and I do it a lot.

Healthy again, we are taking another two weeks (so far) getting back to some sort of routine.  HOWEVER, there has been some knitting going on since we recovered, so without further ado:

Here are the Jelly Bean socks, finished, except for sewing the last toe closed.  I don't need them 'til August (they're a gift), so these might be in limbo for a while.  I'll probably need the needles before then, so we'll see.

Next up, the Thlippers, which were presented on Christmas Day as yarn and a pattern, and cast on the day after Christmas with all due speed:

Coming along quite nicely.  I just need to knit the extra soles, and then felt them and sew some leather soles on the bottom.  I have high hopes of these being finished before too much longer...although, I hear that March will be unseasonably warm, so maybe not before it's too warm to wear them.  We'll see.

This has been an interesting project.  After the MIL Sweater and the Scarf Which Shall Not Be Named, I thought a bit of a break from fine yarns was in order.  I have since learned that the muscles used for knitting bulky yarn are different from those used for sock-weight yarn, and my forearms get sore every time I work on these, just to prove it.  Very intriguing.  I have also discovered that I really do prefer finer yarns.  Naturally.  Because those take the longest to knit up, so that would be the one I would prefer.  My Psyche sets out to make my life as difficult as possible, once again, by making me a Project Knitter who likes fine yarns.  I need to never try Orenberg lace, or I'll probably fall in love and decide I never want to knit anything else.  And that would definitely be a recipe for the Crazy to take over.

16 January, 2011

Wing of bat

Today, my son asked if he could make a Vampire costume.  I said no.  The he asked if he could make a Vampire Bat costume, which was deemed acceptable.  So, he made himself a mask, but he wanted wings, too.

This is how you make Vampire Bat wings:

First, google Vampire Bats, to find out where the wings need to be attached.  Then take the wing, er, ARM-span measurement of the wingless bat in question, and also measure him from shoulder to knee.

Lay out a large piece of brown fabric, and fold.  Use tailor's chalk to trace a batwing shape, using the previously acquired measurements:

Scold the cat for leaping onto your fabric just as the camera snapped, and try again:

The lines aren't very dark; I hope you can see them.  Anyway, cut along the lines, and then attach ties to connect the wings to the body in all appropriate locations:

I put two at the shoulders, two at the waist, two at the knees, and two at the wrists.  I just cut strips of fabric, and zig-zagged them in the right spot.  This was a very quick and dirty project.  Tomorrow, I'm going to zig-zag around the edges of the wings, just to keep it from fraying.

Last step:  Revel in the awesomeness of being someone who can whip up a pair of bat wings on request.

Yesterday was not a good day, in the mothering department.  My children were ill-behaved, and I was Not Very Nice.  I told my son today, as I sewed the ties on these, that when he's all grown up and remembering that his mother yelled at him when he was little, I hope he will also remember that I sewed him bat wings.

09 January, 2011

Slow and Steady

I am a one-project Knitter.  At least, I always thought I was before this past Saturday, when my dear husband sent me off to Sock Club at my LYS to unwind for a while.  (I asked if my being so stressed out was bothering him, and he said no, but he felt a bit responsible.  I decided not to take advantage of that, which I think shows a great deal of self-restraint.)

I drove over to the shop, meaning to buy this month's yarn (pattern included with purchase) when I got there...only to realize I had forgotten my dpns.  I could have just bought another pair, but I have, like, five sets of size 1s already, and really didn't think I needed more.  (Besides which, my favourites happen to be Boyes - probably the only time in my life when I really prefer the less-expensive option - and my LYS doesn't carry them)  (Actually, probably the issue is that I've never gotten my hands on the REALLY expensive ones yet, and my psyche is holding out for the best.  Just wait.)

Where was I?  Oh yes, dpns.  So, I ran home to get them - about a five minute drive.  And I spent 20 minutes tearing apart every place in my house that might contain my bag of dpns.  Along the way, I realized that...wait for it...I have a lot of yarn.  And I seriously thought about just staying home and knitting up something I already had.  Don't worry though, in the remaining 15 minutes of my search, I had plenty of time to rationalize come to my senses regarding the Sock Club yarn.

It's really entertainment after all, not just a pair of socks.

Maybe it's not surprising that I started off as a one-project Knitter, because I started out as a Spinner.  (Came in through the back door, if you will.)  See the wheel?

The needles weren't in that bin.  (The bin and the box under it are fleeces; I knew they wouldn't be there.)

Incidentally, just to share because I love it, this is my Great Wheel:

It was a gift from my husband's grandmother, and doesn't fit anywhere else in my house.  I tried several other locations, and finally decided this was the only way to store it and keep it safe from all the aspiring engineers in the house. 

I searched my bedroom, and found one leg-warmer nearly finished in the night stand.  I searched my craft room and found all my straights in vases, plus a turtle project whose shell is nearly finished (started three Christmases ago).

I went down in the basement and dug through my yarn bins down there.  I didn't unearth my dpns, but I did find a sock I'd knit about two inches of before putting it in time-out...also about three years ago.  (That was when I was pregnant with my third.  I wonder if there's a connection?)  No, I'm not showing you photos of the basement.  Nor of the rest of the yarn stash.  Maybe later.

So, I headed back to the living room, and dug through my purse:

Oh look, it's another sock.  (That's the Jelly Bean socks, which were going to be for my sister, for Christmas, before the Scarf of Doom took over my existence.  Fortunately, I remembered I had already bought her a book.  She gets these for her birthday.)

Didn't want to pull the needles out.  The only other knitting item in evidence was the slippers I started for my husband on Christmas Day:

Which also did not contain my spare needles.  I did eventually find them, in a box in the craft room containing sewing supplies for the needle cases I was designing before Christmas (which is sort of logical, if you think about it.  At least, it was the last place I used them).

But the point is, my whole house is being taken over by knitting.  Projects are coming out of the woodwork, and I've suddenly realized...I don't really mind.

It seems like that should scare me, but I think I'm too far gone.

These are the newest project:

Lake Effect Socks in Dream in Color - Smooshy.  I think the colorway is Candy Floss.  Looks like winter, which is where I'm at. 

07 January, 2011

Fiber Artist's Child

I normally save funny stories about my children for my other blog, but this one pertains directly to the subject at hand, so you will have to suffer:

My son was dressing up with colored pencils taped to body parts at a friend's house the other day.  First he taped a pair to his knees, then a pair to his wrists, then a pair to his elbows.  He was a Super Hero, we were told.

Then he came back out looking like this:

Was he the Statue of Liberty, I wanted to know?  "No, Mama," he told me, very tolerantly, "I'm a Jacob Sheep!"  Obviously.

Yes, I think my six-year-old is probably the smartest one in the world.

06 January, 2011

Addendum to the Nubbly Scarf saga

So, my brother called me up on his birthday (Jan. 3rd) to tell me he'd just gotten his scarf, he'd been wearing it all day, and he absolutely loved it.  (I will knit for him again.)  Then he said "35 hours, huh?  I had no idea.  I mean, I thought a scarf was a 30 to 90 minute proposition."

Once I stopped laughing, he continued.  "You realize that makes this scarf worth at least...$300.  Right?"  I'm so glad he realizes that my time is worth something!  (I will still knit for him.)

He went on.  "I really had no idea it would take so long.  I mean, people knit scarves all the time.  No one would ever pay what this scarf is worth for a scarf.  Are knitters all people who can't do math?"  (I may have had some issues with math, while I was in school.  I may not knit for him again.)