Monthly Archives: August 2010

Random thoughts

The chickadees have found the sunflowers in my garden. Suddenly the front yard is FULL of tiny, noisy birds. It’s wicked cute.

The Catamount knit along is ON! The first section of directions will be going live on the page tomorrow. I’ll announce it here as well to the joy of knitters everywhere (I hope) and the rest of you will just have to put up with weekly announcements…

I used to have 5 or 6 decorative hair sticks for holding my hair up. I seem to have lost them all. Right now my hair is up with a US6 DPN. I’m considering buying a set just for this so I don’t start loosing knitting implements.

I love nice, polite Vermont politics (not that all vermont politics are nice) our 5 way democratic primary was so close the 1st and 3rd place candidates are only 696 votes apart. So while they go through the recount they’re all campaigning together. Where else has that ever happened?

I’m wearing my crazy butterfly skirt today and have gotten 3 complements already. It’s a simple, A line skirt that took about 30 minutes to sew. I should make more.

I have decided to add short rows to the front of my Royal Rose sweater. I’ll be working them in the cross-hatch (more properly known as the peerie) section. Instead of 3 rows of each purple color I’ll work 5 (3 normal and 2 short rows). It should, almost invisibly, add 1/2 to 3/4’s of an inch to the front of the sweater. Or something will go wrong and it’ll make me go crazy. Only time will tell!

Due to the egg recall Important People on the Radio keep saying we shouldn’t eat raw or undercooked eggs. The rebellious kid inside me keeps wanting to eat MORE raw or undercooked eggs just because they told me not to.

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Productive harvest

Some harvests are productive, but not necessarily fun. Such was the case Sunday, when I put the first half of the meat birds in the freezer. It was a long day, made longer by the fact that a friend who was going to help out couldn’t make it. She was going to help with my birds in order to learn how to take care of her own. Instead she had a hay delivery arrive that needed to be put away. On a hot day like Sunday I’d almost rather be slaughtering then stacking 100 bales of hay. Almost. So now I’m sore, and tired, but I have a freezer half full of chicken. There will be a lot of long winter nights made warmer with good, home-raised food.

Saturday I put in a fall garden. I ripped out the grass that had taken over the kohlrabi and mescalin patch (which I’d been neglecting since June) And I planted lettuce, swiss chard, and spinach. All three greens will get a great start (especially good since it’s supposed to be in the 80’s all week) from now until the first frost. Our average first frost date is September 25th so that means with luck these plants will have 27 days of true growing season. Everything I planted is only 40-45 days to maturity, and of course with greens you can always eat them when they’re smaller. But once it gets cold these plants won’t die back the way the tomatoes and squashes do, they just sit dormant. Dormant but still delicious. With the addition of a cold frame (we’re hoping to find some old windows to build one) to keep the snow off we could be eating greens well into November!

Along with weeding and planting I replaced the fence post that was broken the day we lost the guinea. While pounding in the new one I missed and hit my other hand full force… So now I have a bruise at the base of my right index finger that matches the sweater I’m knitting.

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I’m very color coordinated these days…

Finished: Little Leaves

I’ve finished my second true lace shawl!

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Pattern, Little Leaves (Ravelry link) by Susanna IC.
Yarn Harrisville fingering weight shetland.
Beads are some glass seed beads from jo-anns…
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I love this shawl in every way
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I definitely love this slightly heavier shawl with the fingering weight better then the true lace weight I made for my mother. I love the texture so much!
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It is a beautiful, simple shawl and a well written pattern. I worked almost all of this shawl while chatting, watching movies, and otherwise not giving it my full attention. The repeat is easy to memorize (I used a lot of stitch markers) and the results are, well:
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Using fingering weight yarn and size 6 needles my shawl is about 50 inches across and only 15 inches long, both shorter and less wide then the original. That’s with the given number of repeats across and an extra vertical repeat of the lace.

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Perfect

Can’t talk

I have to go read the first three chapters of Pegasus RIGHT NOW.

Pegasus is Robin McKinley‘s newest book due out in November and the advanced copies have been getting some fabulous reviews. Robin McKinley has been one of my all time favorite authors since I read Beauty, followed quickly by Hero and the Crown and the Blue Sword as a teenager. And people are saying this one’s even better. I’d read anything by her (including her own rendition of the phone book, I’m sure she could make it interesting)

Also, look at this cover:

How could that NOT grab your attention? Besides, the first three chapters are free! Give it a shot, see if you like it.

Buttons, buttons, buttons

Catamount (and the subtle stripe vest, AND the lace shawl) are all blocking at home right now. I’m very pleased with myself.

And now that the sweater is finished I’m pondering buttons. No, that’s not quite right. I’ve already decided on buttons, but I suspect other people may be pondering them.

I got my buttons from Incomparable Buttons. This isn’t the first sweater I’ve attached their buttons to either and I really love them. They’re nice ceramic buttons, hand made by a small company employing local women in South Africa. Also, they’re entirely machine washable, which is more then I can say for a lot of my sweaters… Also they’re sold in several of my LYSes, so I have a chance to see them in person, which is always nice.

I put these buttons on my tangled yoke cardigan 2 years ago. That’s one of my most-worn favoritest sweaters – which is to say those buttons have been through hell and high water. I smash them against things, bang into stuff, yank on them, get them caught on things, and they haven’t chipped, broken, or shown and signs of wear. They got a little dirty one time when maybe I should have washed my sweater more often… But that’s not really the button’s fault. So, um, I guess what I’m saying is if you’re looking for buttons, see if you can find some in your area!

I picked some stripy ones to go on my stripy sweater (L281, looks like you’ll have to find them in a store, or choose something else)

(The button company didn’t ask me to say any of this, in fact they don’t even know I’m writing this, I really just like their buttons)

Unfinished – the finishing

I’ve had NO time to knit recently. Although, since I don’t count bus time I am still getting some knitting done*. Although again, I’ve had so many errands to run that I’ve only ridden the bus 3ish day of the week for two weeks. But there is a problem with this method. I’ve been cranking through knitting on the bus, but I don’t like to do finishing on the bus. I will if I cast off in the morning and need something to keep my hands busy in the afternoon.

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But in the last week I’ve completed the knitting for two large projects, only to have them languish on the table in my craft room, waiting for me to have free time in the evening.

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The only things standing between my and wearing my new Catamount sweater are:
the process of weaving in a few ends
doing the kitcheners on the underarms
blocking

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And my little leaves shawl just needs the ends woven in and a good solid blocking as well.

Even design XXXXX is done except for a block and some photos. It’s getting bad up there. Today on the bus I’m knitting the neckband and arm trim for the subtle stripe vest. It’s just an hour or two from joining the “to be blocked” pile… The almost finished UFOs are going to gang up on me and attack pretty soon.

In other news, other then design YYYYY, which hopefully I’ll cast on for soon, I’m suddenly, shockingly, short of in progress knits. In fact, I’ve moved a really old UFO out of the closet and onto the craft chair in preparation for fall.

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Don’t you think my Royal Rose would make a lovely sweater to welcome the new season in with?

*THIS is how I’m so productive with my knitting. My baseline for knitting time isn’t 0. It’s 6-10 hours a week. You probably don’t want to know how many hours a week I knit when I’m getting “lots” of knitting time. Also, I’ve never calculated it.

Pasta with sweet corn

I’m going to call this the Everything’s better with bacon veggie non-pesto pasta dish. How’s that for a name? The inspiration came from this recipe. (which came from this one, follow the spider web back if you want) Which is pretty much what I made here, except for people who hate cleaning out the food processor as much as I do.

After making this just once it has landed squarely on the list of “easy, quick things to make, which I will repeat often” It uses delicious summer veggies wonderfully, but will work just fine in the winter when I’m feeling short on vitamins. Especially since dried tomatoes, frozen corn, and frozen pesto are already on my list of things I always have on hand.

The recipe below fed Neil and I with plenty of leftovers for lunch. So I’d guess it’s good for 3-4 people depending on their appetites.

ingredients
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
4 ears fresh corn or 2-3 cups of corn kernels
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 large cloves of garlic
1 cup basil leaves or 1/4 cup pesto
4 slices of bacon
1/2 lb penne pasta
1/4 cup olive oil (or less if your bacon is fatty)
salt and pepper to taste
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 T real maple syrup (if I didn’t have this I’d sub in molasses, but not fake syrup ewww…..)
1/4 crumbled feta

Cut the cherry tomatoes in half, mix in a bowl with the olive oil and some salt and pepper. Place them cut side up on a roasting pan (hold the olive oil for later) and roast at 300F until the edges are golden brown, about 45 minutes. I roasted mine until everything else was done and they were perfect.
chop all the other veggies, and the bacon, so it’s all as small as the corn kernels, smaller for the basil and garlic.

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I started the water for the pasta now, and added the pasta once it was boiling.

Cook the bacon over medium-high heat until almost crisp. Add the onion, stir, and cook for a minute more. Now add the corn, garlic, and basil. Stir to coat with bacon fat. Add the olive oil from the tomato mix if you need to.
Cook for 2-3 minutes until the veggies are about half cooked. Add the balsamic vinegar and maple syrup, stir to coat again and cook for another 2ish minutes, until the sweet corn is fully cooked but not too soft.

I suppose if you really wanted it to be a “pesto” you could put it in the food processor now. But I think mushiness is a mean thing to do to sweet corn.

Stir in the drained pasta (you didn’t forget about it right? it’s right there on the stove after all) and the crumbled feta. Season to taste. Put the roasted tomatoes decoratively on the top.

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This is a classic example of how I like to cook. I enjoy making food from scratch and Neil and I eat pretty well. But we also both work outside the house. So we need to be able to cook something quick and easy when we get home. I think the whole process took about 45 minutes. But after I got the tomatoes going I spent 15 in the chicken coop feeding the birds and putting the low perch back where it belonged. Then I checked my garden and opened a beer. THEN I started cutting corn off the cob and chopping basil, onions, and garlic. So, if you’re less distracted then I am you could probably do it in 30 minutes!

Night Terrors

Saturday night, 2am, I was awake and out of bed before my conscious brain had fully processed why my subconscious brain decided I needed to be awake. I processed the sleeping memory of the sound as I ran down the stairs with Jake right on my heels. Distressed squawking, like a chicken being chased. But at 2am?

Once outside Jake ran up and down the driveway with his nose to the ground. I used the big flashlight to check out the coop. The poultry door and human door were both closed and secure. The window was cracked, but only at the top, and not by enough for a bird to get out.

I went into the coop, the birds were all asleep, mama in her igloo, guineas and layers on the high perch and meat birds on the low perch and the floor.

Then I heard another sound, an eerie yipping and yapping, multiple canine voices blending together into a constant sound. It wasn’t a howl but an animated conversation. Based on the sounds I’d guess it was between 6 and 10 coyotes. They were nearby, possibly as close as the horse pasture across the street. That might be only a few hundred feet.

I exited the coop and Jake was waiting right by the door, his gaze and all his energy focused on the spot across the road, but when I spoke he followed me back inside.

After regrouping the next morning I’m quite sure we lost a bird, well, at least one bird. But I don’t know which, or when. We’re down to only 22 meat birds, we should have 23. However it’s been 4 or 5 days since I did a head count, and since they sometimes like to sleep under the coop instead of inside I can’t be sure when the one went missing. On top of that there are the two hens who might, we’ve been hoping, still be nesting outside. And who might, if we and they are lucky, eventually give up on the eggs (clearly not fertile) and come back to the flock.

Any of the three possible missing birds would match the orange feathers I found on the lawn Sunday morning.

Baaaaaaaaby chickens!

I’m having a really great time with my knitting these days. I’ve never been good at project monogamy, I like variety in my knitting. I’m more focused these days since designs almost always have deadlines. But still, variety, spice of life, you get the idea. Besides Catamount I’m knitting this one really great XXXXX and then last night I did some stitch pattern swatching for a XXXXX with XXXXX yarn. I love the yarn, although the gauge surprised me and I had to account for that. And then today I had another great idea I’m going to submit to XXXXX and we’ll see how that goes.

Um, anyway…. Look! Baby chickens!

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small happiness

A list of little things that have made me happy recently, in no particular order:

  1. Good beers with my friend Calley last night.
  2. Coming home to dinner waiting for me.
  3. Free yarn:
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    From Yarn on the House. If you don’t read her blog, you should. Unless you don’t like free yarn…
  4. Jake caught the kitchen-mouse this morning (that’s right, not either cat but the 65lb retriever)
  5. The guineas perching on Neil’s car this morning.
  6. My home made english muffins with home made jam.
  7. Getting two freezer rabbits from the CSA.
  8. Used bookstores, and 3 new books for me for under $10 (Yarn Harlot- Secret life of a knitter, Princess Academy, and The One-armed Queen, if you’re curious)
  9. More Green Mountain Spinnery yarn. I ran out of the MC for my sweater knit along. Who knows what I was thinking, my yarn requirements clearly state I’ll need 4 skeins for the size I’m knitting, and I knew I only had 2. Somehow I thought I could make that work?