Category Archives: Uncategorized

Image

book in progress

IMG_20150317_211352_528_1

Carpentry

The poor chickens have been all cooped up this winter. Well, I don’t think they think they’re “poor” because if you open the door for them to come outside they look at you like you’re crazy*.

But last week their coop got a little less, um, cooping? Coop-like? What I’m trying to say is the door blew apart on a windy week day night. And the short days combined with the day job means the poor birds had no door for 3 days straight. Every morning I’d hear the rooster crowing as I went to my car and I’d be thankful that a fox hadn’t gotten them all overnight.

So this weekend, during naptime, we made a new door.

IMG_20150314_151731_274_1

This is a rustic “barn board” door that Neil and I agreed some hipster would probably pay good money to have. But for us, it’s something we could slap together entirely with supplies we have on hand. The rough cut 1×4’s and 1×6’s are cheap lumber we have left over after fixing the roof last summer.

IMG_20150314_155817_455_1

Neil had to literally dig the lumber out of a snow bank with a shovel. Then we had to scrape ice off the sides to get it to lie flat so we could line everything up. And let’s not forget that we had to take 1″ off the width at to bottom because the amateurs who built our coop (oh yeah, that’d be us) didn’t quite frame the door square… I like to pick on us, but mostly I’m proud we built this thing 7 years ago and it hasn’t fallen over or blown down yet!

IMG_20150314_160852_261_1

It was a cold, blustery way to spend our saturday afternoon. Although it was better than the sleet we had on sunday. At least by then the chickens had a new door, so their deep layer shavings stayed fluffy and dry. And after building a whole door from scratch we did feel pretty accomplished!

*ok, chickens don’t have the brain power for that. But they DO look at the snow like it’s an alien substance that they’d rather not touch, thankyouverymuch.

Image

Wordless WIP Wednesday

IMG_20150311_073611_948_1

phone photography

It’s pretty cool living in the future. Have you noticed? Suddenly I get alerts on my phone when packages are delivered to my doorstep – all that in spite of living in a part of the world that still doesn’t have cable…

But the thing that strikes me constantly is the power in these “phones” we’re all carrying around. The camera alone has more photography tricks than the digital camera I used to shoot the pictures for Kingdom. I wish that were an exaggeration, but it was kinda an old camera when I took these pictures.

blue castle virtical

As I’ve slowly learned to utilize my phone camera to the fullest capacity I’ve had to pull out the DSLR less often. And I’m fine with that. It’s still the best camera for design photo shoots, and I bring it any time I think we’ll appreciate it (birthday parties, sightseeing). But for Ravelry project updates?

Phone.

Night time yarn documentation?

Phone.

That time Windsor put a scarf on all by herself and she was so proud?

1425957163900

Phone.

I learned a LOT of tricks at Gale Zucker’s phone photography class during my retreat last month. If you ever have the opportunity to take a class with her – don’t hesitate! She’s an excellent teacher. It was in her class that I got really comfortable using fun things like photo mats and frames. I’m honestly amazed at how clean and pretty that after-dark shot of the gradience yarn is. It may look like just another yarn photo. But if you’ve ever tried to get nice lighting, and color correct pictures after 4:30 in January, you know how impossible it can be. Those editing tricks are from her class as well.

And I promise not to add inappropriate lens flare to all my photos.

save_20150301205401

(Maybe to some, but I promise not all of them…)

Hawthorne

A couple of weeks ago I got an exciting package from the folks at Knitpicks. They sent me a couple of preview skeins of their Hawthorne yarn, fingering kettle dyed and the new sport weight.

I think I’m an excellent knitter to review these yarns, mostly because they’re exactly the sort of yarn I love. First let’s talk about how they feel in the hand. These are not merino yarns, the labels say these are “fine highland wool” and I’d agree with that assessment. These yarns are softer than your basic wools (softer, for example, than wool of the andes or cascade 220) but I can tell just from the feel that they’re going to be hard wearing. Both the fingering and sport weight are 20% polyamide (that’s a type of man made fiber) which again will make these excellent sock yarns.

hawthorne sport

Next, look at the twist. These are highly twisted yarns (although not over-spun, or anything negative like that.) Both weights are made of two plies twisted back upon each other to make sproingy, cushy yarns. One of the biggest problems I had with the Stroll yarns (I used stroll sport in my Foote Brook socks) was that the plies tended to split while knitting. I don’t think I’ll have this problem with these yarns.

hawthorne kettle

Finally the colors. I’m holding Compass kettle dyed fingering and Vancouver in the multi sport yarn. Compass is a lovely golden yellow, gorgeously saturated. While Vancouver combines teals, greens, and purples in a single variegated skein. I also love that the kettle dyed yarns are made up in colors that will coordiate with the multi dyed colorways.

How will they knit up? I wish I could tell you. I took them both too my knitter’s retreat weekend, and didn’t get around to knitting either. Turns out there are only so many hours in a day. But I will get back to you and let you know once I give them a try!

(Please note that I did receive these skeins free for review purposes. However my opinions are my own, I won’t review something I don’t truly enjoy and think that you will like.)

Ski day

IMG_20150303_115635_862_1

Back to life

I’m coming down hard after a wonderful weekend high. We had a little designers’ retreat here in Vermont so I got to see (and meet) online friends in person, spend the whole weekend knitting and chatting. Oh, and I slept all night without a baby waking me up. I didn’t break out the camera often, so I’m going to borrow from a few friends (oh, and I’m on Instagram now – I’ve been in denial for a bit. But if you’re over there I’ve got my usual user name: BeckyinVT)

The lodge is gorgeous in the winter. We had snowshoeing, sunshine, and a beautiful fire place to curl up in front of with our knitting. The food at the lodge was absolutely amazing, they even make their own granola:

breakfast

And the evening’s entertainment was hilarious, if not entirely appropriate for polite company. At least we were all able to relax!

evening

Moths

This is one of those stories where you can hopefully learn from my mistakes. I was in the craft room a couple of weeks ago – looking for a spinning project to take on a little retreat weekend I have coming up. My craft room was the messy sort of organized. And honestly it’s seen a bit of neglect over the last year. But I always had a basket or two out in the open, displaying the pretty fiber. I picked up one long neglected project and unthinking, turned it over.

moths 1

Hint: cocoons in your fiber are never a good sign. (I mean, unless it’s a collection of silk worm cocoons. I guess there’s an exception to every rule.)

Lesson #1: never EVER leave your fiber untossed and unsealed for a long time. This project had been hibernating for year. I go through and toss the stash (checking it for bugs) at least once per year. But I hadn’t flipped this little pile of wool over in much longer than that. Turns out that spraying cedar oil only goes so far…

Unfortunately a lot of my craft room had this problem. Because I’d “never had moths before” so I wasn’t worried.

moths 2

And of course it’s the pretty, pretty handspun that was all the most exposed. That basket also held a couple of cocoons at the bottom. Luckily not all my stash was in trouble. I keep my sock yarn in this pretty hat box, with cedar balls at the bottom. And this yarn all checked out ok:

moths 5

And none of my design yarn was hit. Which is a bit of a shock, since I kept my “inspiration” skeins, um, like this:

moths 4

Lesson 2: laundry baskets just give the moths plenty of access on all sides. I think this basket was only saved from damage because I have a regular habit of flipping it over and sorting through it.
Lesson 3: Moths hate turnover.

Any designs I’m not wearing regularly are stored away carefully. I have a large collection of rubbermaid bins, and I’ve been adding to my freezer bag collection recently. Because these open topped bags?

moths 3

They’re all gone. I think it was just luck that none of their contents were damaged.

Most of my personal stash lives in this lovely old chest.

moths 6

I wish the chest were cedar, but it’s not. Instead I have a variety of cedar satchets, boards, and balls scattered throughout. I went through the whole chest. It looked fine, I was congratulating myself on no damage. When I found this:

moths 7

No cocoons, no moths, no eggs that I could see. Just one, ONE skein with a little nibble taken out of it. Seems unlikely that it could be the sum total of the damage. So I bagged up ALL that yarn as well.

Lesson 4: when you have moth damage. Nip it in the bud.
All yarn with obvious damage, and any yarn with exposure (such as Every. Single. Skein. in the chest with that one nibbled skein) ALL that yarn went into plastic bags. I bagged stuff that was stored together in giant freezer bags and grocery bags. But I didn’t cross between storage areas (no point in creating more exposure – even briefly)

Um. I have 4 kitchen trashbags of exposed yarn.

Luckily none of my finished garments showed damage. No yarn stored in other rooms of the house was harmed. My kilt, Neil’s pea coat, the wool couch blanket in the living room: all ok. So it could have been worse.

Also, since I’m counting my blessings, it’s COLD outside.

Lesson 5: Freeze the little buggers to death.
Moths and larvae die below freezing, but you have to freeze for 2 weeks. Then you let everything thaw for a couple of days – so any potential eggs can hatch (eggs are hardy.) Then you freeze again! It hasn’t been above freezing on my porch yet this month – so I’m almost done with this freeze thaw cycle and I haven’t had to plug in an extra chest freezer yet!

Luckily the majority of my spinning stash is perfectly safe. Why is that?

moths 8

Because apparently I’m much better about storing it… When the yarn all comes back inside I’m going to have a zipper-baggy party. Then my yarn stash will look like this too!

Play Dough!

Here’s a combination craft recipe and cooking recipe! Home made play dough. This stuff is awesome, it’s my mom’s recipe and I remember many fond hours playing with it as a child. This weekend I shared it with Windsor for the first time.

play dough ing

The great thing about this recipe is that it’s cheap and non-toxic (although a bit salty). Which means when Jake eats it, or it gets full of dirt and we throw it away, I really don’t mind. Just be aware that the food dye can stain things if you add too much or don’t mix it in thoroughly.

Ingredients
2.5 cups flour
2.5 cups water
1.5 Tbsp cream of tarter
1.25 cup salt
5 Tbsp vegetable oil
food coloring

Directions
In a medium saucepan mix everything together except the food coloring. Put it over low to medium heat, and start cooking. Stirring. Keep stirring, this doesn’t take long and you don’t want it to burn.

Once it begins to thicken, add the food coloring. We did yellow (less likely to stain, but also less fun) and needed almost 20 drops. You’ll need far fewer for blue.

Continue stirring until the dough is thick and begins to gather around the spoon. When it’s so thick you can’t really stir it anymore, remove from the heat and put on a plate to cool.

play dough cooking

You can also mix the colors in once it’s cool. But be careful not to get the food dye all over your hands. Once it’s cool you’re good to go! Be sure to store it in an air-tight container or it’ll dry out. And like commercial play dough, this doesn’t dry smoothly. It tends to crack as it goes.

play dough time

(yes, she does have playdough stuck to her cheek. That’s the sign of a good time!)

Head to Toe

As much as I talk about knitting for myself as we all know I’m drawn to the adorable things I can knit for Adorable Windsor. And that’s exactly what drew me to Head to Toe: Kids’ knit accessories


(also on Ravelry and from Cooperative Press)

This book has so many great kids knits that I didn’t even know what to start with. My colorwork bug (it’s some version of startitis, that disease sure can mutate) wanted to do either cannonfire

or Northumberland:

I love that color pattern in both colorways. And I love how Katya shows the mirror colorways because they look so different!

Then there are the cables. Cheviot Hills are gorgeous, but I don’t know that Windsor would understand fingerless mitts yet

And Back Hand Hitch has the same problem:

So what did I cast on? Breamish:

Windsor really needs some thicker socks for this cold cold winter. Unfortunately, I had grand plans of having at least one done by this blog post. But it turns out knitting goes a lot faster when you actually knit things. Instead of just dreaming about knitting them…

CameraZOOM-20150213151832566

I’ll get there. Eventually.