Monthly Archives: May 2011

Not Dead

Soooo…. Thursday night we were hit by a massive thunderstorm which knocked power out for 20 hours. But we were the lucky ones, further south they got 5-7 inches of rain in just a few hours. So while I was home trying to keep baby chickens warm without a heat lamp much of the rest of northern VT was closed and/or under water.

Needless to say, all that knitting and pattern writing I had talked about did not go according to plan. But I’ve (mostly) recovered, and I’m happy to announce that the first pattern in the Time on my Hands e-book is now available!

cover page

Details on the collection can be seen here and on Ravelry.

The patterns in this book will be released one at a time over the summer, with the full collection available by autumn (it’ll be September or October depending on other deadlines) There will be 8 patterns which are also available individually, and one surprise pattern which will only be available through the collection. The e-book costs only $18 which is a significant savings over the single PDFs.

The patterns will all be hand-related: mittens, gloves, fingerless mitts, and wrist warmers. Along with women’s patterns there’s a children’s mitten pattern, a men’s glove pattern, and some unisex fingerless mitts. There will be cables, lace, color work, and texture. In other words, there will be a little something for everyone.

First up:
Play Time mittens are striped kids’ mittens with i-cord ties so they don’t get lost or separated.

Play time 1play time 4

You can see details on the pattern here and you can favorite and queue it on Ravelry.

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Wind and Unwind

Since I’m knitting mitts on the bus, and spending my home time on the computer – what am I doing to unwind at the end of the day?

green

Spinning! This is some of my white montadale dyed with green food dye and vinegar. It’s a super easy process which I use because it’s food safe and so I don’t have to have dedicated dying equipment.

When the green is done I’m going to ply it with this multicolor montadale I finished up awhile ago.

multicolored 1

Why yes, that IS a lot of fiber on a very small spindle. By the time I got 2/3’s of the way through I knew I was going to try and pack it all on there. The last bit was a struggle – but I did it! Hopefully each colorway is about 2oz (I need a real scale, so I can’t give exact numbers) Once plied I want to spin up a little white and do some crazy-bright-colored socks with white toes and heels. I’ve never knit handspun socks, so I think it’s time.

someday socks

Cuffs

I may not be talking much about knitting, but I sure am doing a lot of it!

cuffs

I’m almost half way through the mitts for the book. I’m not showing finished projects quite yet, but I have been putting up some sneak preview photos on both Twitter and my Facebook page. So if you like sneak previews you really should follow me in one or both places.

Of course the remaining designs are mostly in fingering weight yarn. And what’s more, I need to sit down at the computer and write up some of these. One is only recorded in chicken-scratch notes made on the bus while knitting. I don’t usually work that way, but it’s a fairly simple pattern. However the rest need charts, and I need to make the charts before I can knit any more samples. Since my last few weekends have been spent in the garden, or at the library, or visiting farms* – well clearly I just need to focus. There will be some serious focusing going on over the long weekend.

If my timing works out there might also be the first book release by then!

*and I’m trying to ignore the weekend lost driving my car to the mechanic.

Welcome to the 1990’s

I just spent my whole lunch break on the phone/live chat with various phone companies. Turns out I still can’t get unlimited high speed internet in my house. Verizon Wireless has 3G signal but there’s a data usage cap. Fairpoint’s DSL speed is “conditional” which means they don’t really know if I can even get service at my house.

That’s right, I still live in the 1990’s. Welcome to my life.

(Sorry for the whinging, I try not to do it often. But it just seems like I ought to be able to post at night, or update PDFs of patterns without having to make it to the library during their open hours.)

Farm to Yarn

Sunday afternoon my friends Amy, Dana, and I did a little farm sight-seeing. The Northeast Kingdom put on it’s annual Farm-to-Yarn tour and so we visited a few nearby farms.

First we went to Dilner Hillside Farm – where they raise Angora goats (and bunnies, as well as chickens, sheep, and a dairy goat)

more angora goats

Don’t forget angora goats make mohair fiber, which means this little kid:

kid mohair

Is essentially kid silk haze on four legs!

Next stop was Buzz & Honey’s Fleecy Flock where we met this year’s friendly bottle-fed lambs:

bottle lamb

Ate delicious pumpkin bread, and admired how very VERY green their pastures are:

baa baa gray sheep

Finally we stopped at North of the Andes Alpacas for some fuzzy-headed goodness

fuzzy heads

They’d just been sheared one or two weeks ago, so they looked very skinny with their funny, unsheared bobble heads on top. But the best part of this stop was the cria – a baby alpaca born less than 24 hours before

cria

I think mom’s ears are worth noting as well. So fluffy! The baby is doing very well:

cria nursing

And they didn’t have any more black fleeces for sale – which is just as well because I’m not sure I actually need another fleece right now…

Meanwhile back on the home range:

chickens

My brahmas seem to have an odd fascination for the bale of straw destined to be garlic mulch…

Dear dogs,

Thank you for behaving when it matters most.

We all know that I love you even when you steal a dozen eggs off the counter and eat them all. I even love you when you roll in dead things and I have to give you a bath. And while it’s a real pain to have you run off for 20 minutes in the morning when I was PLANNING on taking a shower – I’m sure you have your reasons for that too.

But when we met our neighbors out for a walk in the field (the field that they own which we enjoy walking through I might add) you guys were perfect little angels. And I thank you for that.

Jake: I know the reason we got such good behavior from you is because there’s nothing you like more then having your face petted. We’re all really lucky that petting your face is exactly what the 11 year old girl wanted to do. I’m so glad you remembered your training and sat down in front of her instead of wiggling, or worse, jumping all over her.

Reggie: Your behavior with the 3 year old boy was stunning. I’ve always known you’re good around kids, but that performance should earn you an oscar. You didn’t back away when he pet your fur backwards. You stood completely still when he picked up your leash. But really, the best part was when you walked, slowly, right at his side the whole way back to their house. You didn’t pull on your leash, you didn’t lag behind, you didn’t try and escape. I think we both know which end of that leash was more competent in the walking department, but you absolutely convinced him that he was in charge of the walk. Well done!

In short, thanks for making us look like good dog owners. I will try and remember to pick up treats next time I’m at the store.

Love,
The one who feeds you

PS: could you please stop eating things off the counter? Or is that too much to ask?

What I’m wearing – green

I’ve seen this “what I’m wearing” thing on a few other blogs. At first I laughed at the idea, I have so little sense of fashion, why would anyone care what I’m wearing? Then I pondered it. After all, it’d give me a chance to look back on older knitting and sewing projects. I can tell you about the ways I mix-and-match a wardrobe that I suspect is smaller than average.* And it’d give you all a chance to laugh at how little fashion sense I have for someone who calls herself a “designer” Win-win-win, right?

wearing green

So today I’m wearing green. My Dulce sweater with a green camisole underneath and my green danskos. My dulce sweater really needs something under it when I wear it to work. And I was looking sadly at my green camisole because the V in the front is just as deep as the dulce V. BUT! Then I realized the back is a nice straight line…

tag what tag

Yup, I’m wearing it backwards under my sweater…

leaf necklace

Even my necklace is green. It’s a handmade little thing that I bought off a LJ raffle years and YEARS ago – as in, I’m not sure Etsy was even in existence at the time… The box says Butterfly Rose Creations on it, but the LJ hasn’t been updated since 2008 and the facebook group is stagnant since 2010. Too bad, because I’d buy another silver leaf necklace if I could find one…

*I heard on (I think it was NPR, one of their silly weekend shows, but still) that the average american has 7 pairs of jeans. I own 7 pairs of pants TOTAL: 4 work pairs, two pairs of jeans, and a set of capris.

I can’t believe it worked

Neil and I were plotting to try and get a chicken mama or two to nest IN THE COOP this year. Our free range birds are wily creatures, and every year since we got them they’ve nested outside in the woods. Last year we lost two potential mama hens this way (turns out there are predators in the woods too, who knew!?)

But they love to lay eggs outside, even when they’re not nesting the heritage breed birds have those genes that make them want to hide their eggs. Earlier this spring we found they were hiding some (bunches really) in the hallway of the coop, behind the old dog crate and the icky bits of sheep fleece that I’m saving* for garden mulch.

And that’s when our plan started. If we left the eggs there – just the right number (8-16) would one of the hens nest there when she felt the mood? I’ve been carefully picking up the oldest and leaving a good sized clutch in the hall for over a month now. Neil picked up the rest of the eggs yesterday, but carefully left the “hidden” clutch alone.

And last evening there was a mutt hen sitting on them, protecting them and squawking at me! I really can’t believe we tricked one into nesting inside! Very exciting. These will be third(ish) generation farm chickens. The mutt chickens are our three newest hens, who were hatched late last summer. And their mother was hatched in our woods as well.

Any number of things could still go wrong. I could have left the older eggs in the clutch by accident. Our new rooster could be, um, not fulfilling his side of the bargain. She could be too young or not have the right temperament for nesting for 3 weeks straight. She could do what her mama did and decide all she really wants to do is nest and not attend baby chicks.

But if everything goes right then in 21 days I’ll have adorable baby chicken pictures to show off!

*where do you save such things if you don’t have a chicken coop hallway I wonder?

oil

A confluence of things is happening right now, making me think about all the ways that oil (the petroleum product, not the food ingredient) is, and isn’t, used in my life.

Saturday morning Neil turned on the hot water, only to have it run cold, and cold, and cold… Turns out sometime last week we ran out of oil. This happens to us every time. The “problem” is that we use so little of it. Well – that doesn’t seem like a problem to me. But to the delivery companies it is. Turns out no one will provide regular delivery service once a quarter. And since we go through about 100 gallons every 6 months it just Doesn’t Make Sense to have them drive to our house every month to top up the tank. I suppose we could try and pay more attention to when we’re running low, but so far it’s caught us by surprise every time. And so we call around to find some company to deliver another 100 gallons. But we’re hardcore (or cheap) and refuse to pay the emergency delivery fee, so sometimes it means waiting a few days for the oil*. After all it’s not really an emergency. Although due to lack of clean spoons I accidentally got schmaltz in my tea this morning. I suppose I could wash dishes in cold water…

On top of that my lovely little diesel jetta is taking a week at the spa (mechanic) as a result I’m driving either a pickup truck or a subaru – both get about 23mpg. The difference between 23mpg and 43mpg is really surprising on another level when I experience it this directly. I mean, sure diesel is more expensive, but I’ve done the math, and my little jetta is still saving an awful lot of money. It’s 12 miles to my bus stop. So in my jetta: 12 miles divided by 43mpg = 0.28 gallons of fuel. So even at $4.29 it only costs $1.19 to get there (and another 80 cents to get to work, that bus is a GREAT price)

In a subaru we have the same 12 miles divided by 23mpg = 0.52 gallons – almost twice as much! So even though gas is cheaper ($3.97) it costs $2.07 to get to the bus stop.

I miss my little car way more than I miss hot water…

La Moelle

I’m really excited to show you one of the things that has been keeping me so busy recently! This is not a new vest pattern – in fact La Moelle was one of my very first indie designs.

lamoelle

But just about everything else here is new. New photos (of the same vest, that Bartlett yarn wears well!) new layout, fancy new layout software.

la moelle PDF preview

In the process of re-working the layout I realized there were a number of things about the pattern that could be better. Instead of counting stitches on decrease rows – why not use stitch markers?? So I got into re-writing the pattern, and re-wrote almost the whole thing. I even tweaked some of the numbers to improve the flow of the pattern and the fit of the bust short rows. Then I had the whole thing re-tech edited.

lamoelle side

I’m really enjoying my new layout software (Adobe Creative Suite, just like what the pros use!) and I’m excited to re-work all my old patterns into this shiny new layout. Along with this I’m also re-doing the way my patterns are displayed here. I now have a page for Indie designs and one for Published patterns. You can always get to those pages from the top menu. As I re-do the PDFs for these designs I’m setting up pages for each of them as well. So you can get more details about La Moelle, as well as see the shiny PDF previews for Dunkelipa, and Root Cellar.

As I re-do these patterns I’m trying to be really cognizant of the ways people use PDFs. I worked with my tech editor (and a bunch of friends, thanks guys!) to choose a font that worked well on screen and in print (turns out there’s a lot of personal preference to fonts, but I tried) I put all the necessary info for getting started right on the very front page (in case I ever sell hard copies!) I tried to leave enough white space for notes. For cables I provide charts and row-by-row directions. And I chose pattern graphics that are simple, should load and print quickly, and won’t take a ton of ink. I’m also trying to make these printer friendly. For instance, on La Moelle there are only photos on the first and last pages along with the pattern requirements and schematic. So if you’re knitting from a printed pattern you could actually just print the middle 3 pages.

Stay tuned, I have another La Moelle themed post coming later this week!