Sad rooster

It’s been a rough couple of weeks at the Herrick Abode*. I’ll try not to dump all at once, but we’ll start with the story of our sad rooster.

You’ve all seen Chief before, he’s a gloriously red rooster.

chief roo

And he’s always been a good rooster too. Takes care to share treats with all his hens. Helps them find the best nesting nooks. Never attacks his humans. Stands up to the fox in the yard.

Oh yeah, that last part is why he’s a sad rooster these days. Apparently, we have a resident fox. We’d seen him once early this spring, but foolishly thought we’d run him off the property. But A week or two ago I came home to this

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And not just here. There were poofs of red rooster feathers all over the front acre. And a very sore, beat up looking rooster lurking around his coop. Poor guy clearly fought the fox and while he didn’t quite loose, he didn’t exactly win either. Our hens are all gone.

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He’s spend the last week recuperating. He’ll have a nasty scar on his back. But after several days of sleeping in the clean straw he’s back on his perch and I’m finally sure he’s going to pull through. He’s headed back to our friend’s house where he hatched to rejoin her flock. He’ll have some new hens to protect and care for soon.

*Inside joke. Our real estate agent calls our house an abode. I would never have thought of that one myself…

What’s cooking

Nothing. Nothing is cooking in this post, because I have a new fermentation project instead! I got some kimchi starter from my mom over Easter weekend. Kimchi, in case you’re wondering, is a fermented cabbage product similar to sauerkraut but different. (It’s an east/west thing: I think kimchi is Korean and sauerkraut German – but my food geography is fuzzy at best)

I started with the simple kimchi recipe from The Kitchn. In fact I decided to follow it very closely since this is my first try. The big change was that after I’d packed everything in the jar I added some juice from my mom’s kimchi. This is a basic microbiology principle, instead of just letting it sit and hoping the right bacteria take hold adding raw kimchi juice inoculates the cabbage mix with some bacteria that I already know make good kimchi.

I made a couple of small substitutions as well. I swapped out the daikon radish for carrots and I left out the red pepper flakes. I also took their suggestion and used seaweed flakes instead of fish sauce to add umami flavor. The author recommends this as a vegetarian alternative. I was just a little weirded out by the idea of fermented fish products.

I let the jar ferment for five days, tasting it every day. The kimchi had that fermented bite by about day 3 and the extra two days it was more a fading of the fresh cabbage flavor that I noticed. I’m sure the flavors will continue to meld in the fridge.

kimchi

Now I just need to decide what I’m doing with all this kimchi besides eating it as a side dish with the occasional sandwich. Luckily it keeps long-term in the fridge.

Maple Open House

Maple Open House weekend. A chance to drive all over Vermont, visit neighborhood sugar houses, and drink large quantities of maple syrup. Well, that was past years. Windsor doesn’t love her car seat, so more recently we’ve gone to just a couple of them. That was just as well since half the sugar makers weren’t even open. The maple season is wacky. (I mentioned that recently, didn’t I?)

sugar house

Saturday, at least, was seasonably cold, sunny, and generally perfect for maple weekend!

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Also perfect for making friends with the donkey

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And the pretty draft horses.

And I had a chance to take some scenic photos

lamp post

and some close ups

hitching post

Saturday was the right day to get outside, because Sunday was cold, rainy, and then snowy. We stayed inside, made soup, and had a lovely quiet weekend.

Still in progress

Hi, how you doing? How’s the weather where you are? Weather isn’t just a topic for small talk here, maple syrup season is big business and when we don’t have enough snow (we don’t) the trees don’t make as much sap. And when we don’t get the cold nights and warm days (we aren’t, it was 62F overnight) the sap doesn’t rise and fall the way it needs to for sugaring. In short the weather is seriously bipolar and while it doesn’t affect me personally, I can feel it in the community.

It’s also the opposite problem from the one we had back in 2013 when I was trying to arrange a photo shoot in the Sugarbush of Sterling for the Saccharum vest. These photos? With the model shivering and the snow in the background:

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They were taken the second week in April. The sap had barely begun to run, and when it finally warmed up it went too fast. I can tell you, the sugar makers of New England are not pleased with this climate change thing.

Ok, but all that was depressing enough, lets have a peak at my vest in progress to cheer us all up:

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You can barely tell, but I’m done with the tree branch chart. From here on the back is simple 2×2 ribbing which creates the canopy of the trees. I’m also ready to divide for the fronts, so I’m hoping from here it’ll be smooth sailing. Maybe I’ll have a finished vest by the end of the KAL (which is 4/8, not 4/1 – phew)

I also want to show off my button hole modification. Instead of toggles or multiple buttons I decided I wanted one big button for closure. So instead of using the leaf eyelets as they are I modified one leaf:

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Instead of a pair of YOs I worked a double yo paired with a k3tog on the row before. Then I just knit the two loops of the double YO to keep the stitch count the same. I still don’t know which of my singleton buttons I’ll be featuring. I’ll let future-Becky decide that.

FO with a pompom!

As promised, pretty finished photos of the bunny hat! As always, you can check out extra photos and favorite the project over on Ravelry.

bunny adjust

So nicknamed because the gray yarn I used for the MC is a 60% angora blend I picked up at VT Sheep and Wool festival, I think it was 2013 (I have vague memories of buying this skein while hugely pregnant.)

The additional colors are all from Sunday Knits, either her merino/angora or her merino/cashmere blend. So this hat is warm and soft, even though it’s not bulky at all. The stitch pattern incorporates regular 2-strand colorwork and some fun knit and purl patterns in the trim which help the motifs stand out.

bunny pattern

I finished the hat and had an awkward amount of leftover yarn. Not enough for another accessory. But too much to just give up on. So the pompom seemed like an obvious choice. Oh boy do those things suck up a lot of yarn! Especially when you’re making one as gloriously large as this.

bunny pompom

It’s my first real pompom so it’s not perfectly round or perfectly trimmed. I wanted a piebald effect, using the same colors as the colorwork, so I wrapped each color in separate chunks, making sure to focus mainly on the main gray with splashes of the other colors here and there. At least that part worked well and gave exactly the effect I wanted!

bunny other side

WIP roundup

Phew. It’s been ten days since I posted, don’t know how that happened. Let’s have a round up of what’s on, and off, the needles.

This bunny soft angora hat is done, complete with my first giant pompom! Actually, it was done weeks ago, I’m planning a full post for it just as soon as I get the good photos off the good camera.

Finished pompom!

After finishing that hat I cast on for a thick, cozy pair of mitts:

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Also done, except for the weaving in of the ends. And I still need to take photos. Soon my pretties, soon enough.

So what IS on the needles? I’ve got my saccharum vest. The knit along is going full steam and a couple of vests are almost done! I’m almost to the cables, and with a couple of weeks left I’m not really behind, yet.

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But we’ll see how that goes. Because I’m currently distracted by these pretty, pretty socks.

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The yarn is doing the heavy lifting on this project, drawing me in and holding me captive. But I also can’t get over the slip stitch pattern (which you can’t see here, sorry) and how perfectly it breaks up any pooling or flashing. It’s also making the fabric thicker and cozier than average. Perfect for socks.

Saccharum redux

I’ve been steadily working away at my very own Saccharum vest since the start of the month, and it’s making excellent progress!

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I’m eight or nine inches in (I’ve forgotten already) and right now I’m working even until 12.5 inches (so that’s why I’ve forgotten, clearly). I love the simple leaf detail that is the main feature of this part of the vest. It gives plenty of time to get that repeat memorized before throwing the complicated tree cables into the mix.

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There are quite a few other Saccharums growing over in the Ravelry KALs right now (pural, because the wonderful Peace Fleece group has joined in again!) If you’re on Ravelry you can check out all the leafy goodness right here.

The official KAL ends in four weeks, but the thread in my group won’t be going anywhere. So there’s plenty of time for late-joiners if you’re interested!

leafy

Remember the green leafy thing I was knitting? My streak of having more knitting time than computer time continues! This was finished almost two weeks ago, but I’m only just getting to share it with you.

full back

This is a thing of my own design, and I don’t even know exactly what it is. A vest, maybe? But with those cap sleeves that doesn’t sound right. A top? Not exactly, I think of those as summer wear. A cap sleeved cardigan? I guess that’s the closest so far, it’ll have to work.

front full

But “cap sleeved cardigan” is such a long term for a cozy and simple garment. The entire body is knit straight up with no shaping. Since it opens at the front this works perfectly. The front edges don’t quite meet at the hips, but overlap at the button point under the bust.

shoulder

There’s some negative ease at the full bust, but that just helps show off the lace. And it can be worn open easily too.

front unbuttoned

The cap sleeves are created quickly with underarm bind off on one row followed by cast-ons for the caps on the next row. I worked up to the end of that repeat of the chart, then started the yoke decreases.

shoulder close

I admit to being nervous about running out of yarn while I worked those looong yoke rows. But it turned out just fine. I decreased at the yoke and then my plan was to work seed stitch for another inch, or until I ran out of yarn, whatever came first.

back close

Instead I worked and inch and felt it needed something more. I added just a couple short rows across the back to raise the collar up on that side – an addition I’m really glad I had yarn for. After a couple more rows I knew the neckline was the right height and it was time to bind off.

back open

I took some pretty close notes on this one, but who knows if I’ll have time, or still feel inspired by it later, when I have time to write and grade it. Maybe it’ll just be a one-off for myself. Who knows? There are even more photos on Ravelry, if you’re curious.

(and I’ve cast on for another garment already. Don’t look now, but I’m knitting up a storm these days).

Bernie!

Back in 2008 the Yarn Harlot issued a challenge: could knitters everywhere try and get heads of state to hold a sock?

“Perhaps its because I think that politics sometimes does more harm that good in the world,or perhaps it is that the image of a person out to promote their own purposes being asked to momentarily have to serve ours – frankly, just charming. Perhaps it is simply the juxtaposition of a candidate for Head of State holding a sock is just so wholesome, that I am amused to no end. Perhaps it is simply that there is a part of me that really enjoys seeing powerful people befuddled and confused by a handknit….”

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Note that this is not a new photo. At the time of the last election I didn’t get near any candidates. But I did happen to find myself flying economy one row in front of my state congressman, Bernie Sanders. So I asked him to hold my sock (I mean, I was on a plane, of course I happened to be knitting socks)

He was very gracious and seemed fairly comfortable holding a half knit sock. I don’t know if he, or anyone in his family, knits. But we do live in Vermont where it gets quite cold, so we have a lot of knitters…

Tomorrow is primary day in Vermont and I’ll be going down to the town hall to vote for Bernie. But I’m also going to keep Stephanie’s point in mind and make a donation to charity. Because politics can get ugly, but if we all think about how to serve others I think we can counteract that. I hope that’s something we can all agree is worthwhile.

Saccharum knit along

I’m launching another book knit-along next month! March will feature the vest from the same chapter, Saccharum.

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This vest includes leafy trim on the front edges, simple waist shaping, a deep V neck, and most of all: the trees

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This vest is worked up in Imperial Yarns Columbia base. It’s a lovely, single farm yarn with plenty of bounce and spring to make cables pop.

If you’re looking at substitutes I recommend another bouncy wool in a heavy worsted or aran weight. March is still cold, after all. So this vest is meant to be knit up thick and warm!

Please consider joining in the KAL over on Ravelry where I’m happy to talk about vest modifications, yarn substitutes, and there will be some prizes too!