21 June 2009


Chicken scratch dance.

When I asked, my sister jumped at the chance to model these socks. I'm happy to finally get the chance to share them with you. 

I'm going to call them chicken scratch socks, since I knit them the same time my brother and I were designing and building his chicken coop.

I've been busy with graduate school. I think this is the first time that I can report (since I started knitting five years ago) that I haven't picked up the needles in a week. 

But I won't moan and groan, let me tell  you about these socks. As I described in an earlier posting, the yarn I used is something I painted by hand one night at my knitting circle. The colors I choose remind me of a cob of Mandan Bride corn, so I gave the colorway that same name. 

The stitch pattern is classic Elizabeth Zimmerman: her gull stitch pattern. I think it goes very well with the regular color pattern in the yarn. I wish I had enough of this yarn left to make one of her February Baby Sweaters. 

This last photo is one of my favorites. 

We just couldn't keep Jack out of the frame. He was curious as to why my sister was perched so precariously on the fence rail. 

Jack has been pretty good about the chickens. We've finally gotten to the point where we let them roam around the barn yard.

I've seen him charge them a few times (for fun, I hope.) So far I haven't seen any feathers in his mouth. 

16 June 2009

girl about town

Yarn comes in pretty handy around here. 

I just moved into my new apartment in the city. I was happy to discover that I'd remembered most of the essentials as I unpacked my boxes on Sunday evening. 

It took Monday morning to discover that I'd remembered the coffee pot and coffee grounds, but not the coffee filters. And no more than five seconds later, I discovered that I'd purchased a new shower curtain, but forgot the little plastic rings that fix the curtain to the curtain rod. 

Could have been a disaster. (Or at least a really bad hair day.)

After one attempt to fix the curtain up using two lonely clothespins, my eyes settled on the happy basket of yarn I'd brought with me from home. 

A dozen loops of extra chunky served me nicely, and I can now securely shower behind a sheet of blue plastic decadence.  

Hurrah for life's small pleasures!

09 June 2009

a morning in the garden

We finally got some rain this past weekend. My garden was parched, which made watering a priority. Watering alone can take up over an hour's worth of time each evening, so I'm happy for the break. 

Rain also means all of the weeds are really easy to pull. I spent the morning on my knees crawling around the garden yanking wayward plants. 

I mulch with straw. Usually this works well, but this year I got a fresh batch that sprouted oats down at the south end of the garden. I took care of that problem this morning as well, by turning the new growth under and re-mulching. The oats were a problem above the soil, but now they are a nutritious green manure. 

The flowers above come from various plants around the yard. There's lilacs, bleeding hearts, honeysuckle, and some lacy ones that I don't know the name of. 

Hope your gardens are under control. 

08 June 2009

barn notes : a new coop

I guess a farmer should probably prepare himself for chaos when he adopts a roost of egg laying hens from a cousin who is happy to give the chickens away for free and also be generous (or just plain thankful) enough to include a hundred egg cartons for all their perspective eggs. 

I posted earlier this spring about my family's love of farm fresh eggs. About a month after that post we picked up our adopted chickens, and, lacking a proper chicken coop, kept them in one of the grain bins for shelter. 

Now, our chickens have a proper home of their own. 

My brother designed a new chicken coop for them off of the side of our barn. This project involved tearing down an old granary, and, using the existing foundation, rebuilding the walls and roof. 

He built a roosting box along the north wall that allows us to gather eggs from the outside and avoid the feathered frenzy within. 

The walls of the coop are constructed out of weathered corrugated metal that has been reclaimed from our great uncle's farm. Most of the wood two-by-fours come from our grandpa's stash. 

I think 80% of the materials used in this project have been reclaimed and reused, which was a goal we had at the offset. 

As you can see, the sides of the coop have become a favorite backdrop of mine for my fiber. I also love the windows and trim, which he accented with a wash of red paint.

More to come about the project I made with this yarn (my finished chicken scratch socks) and the comical events/celebrations that surround this new building on our farm.

05 June 2009

hearts & daggers

"Elizabeth reached down to her ankle, taking care not to draw attention. There, her hand met the dagger concealed beneath her dress. She meant to follow this proud Mr. Darcy outside and open his throat."

Okay, how many of you wish this had happened in the original? 

The excerpt above comes from Seth Grahame-Smith's take on Jane Austen's time honored classic: Pride and Prejudice. He's titled his version: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

I must confess that when I first heard about this new version of the original I was shocked and very disturbed, but I've come round. 

Everyone needs a good laugh now and again. This take is hilarious. The Bennet sisters are now fierce zombie warriors, the much hated Lady Catherine, a deranged ninja queen, and Darcy (proud as ever) is quite undone by Elizabeth's sharp tongue and skill with a double-edged sword. 

As for the plot, a horde of "unmentionables" has invaded the countryside and its up to the Bennet sisters, and the aloof Mr. Darcy and company, to save the village and perhaps the entire Regency world. Zombies make every one's life extremely disagreeable. Young ladies of privilege are now expected to master all the social arts, plus the art of war. 

Can't wait for the movie version, though, please believe me, the original text will always remain the closest to my heart. 

Working on a new project, as you can see. I finally cast on my After Hours Shawl. The pattern was written by Cynthia Joseph and is distributed by Briar Rose Fibers

I had the pleasure of visiting the Briar Rose booth at Shepherd's Harvest last month. This particular pattern was sold out, but Chris, the color-savvy designer who creates Briar Rose's yarns sent me a copy - for free! (Thanks Chris.)

My version will be made out of Mountain Colors Yarn. I'm using two colorways, so I'm alternating the yarns every odd row. 

This shawl should be the perfect thing to wrap around my shoulders on late summer evenings when I settle in with a good book and a glass of wine - or perhaps a bowl of popcorn and a horror flick.

I'd better get a handle on my yarn though, right now it's heaped on my desk like a pile of putrid zombie guts. 

01 June 2009

something to dream under

Here's a different take on the traditional wedding quilt. 

When my parents ran off and eloped, my great-grandmother, Ana, made them a beautiful quilt with a large star in the middle of it. I can still remember its pastel patches stretched out across my parents' water bed. 

Unfortunately, neither the water bed nor the quilt made it into the twenty-first century. The water bed sprang several leaks in 1989, and around that same time the quilt fell to tatters from too much washing and use. 

There's a certain magic about handmade blankets. 

The ones that are lovingly constructed and gifted at important events carry an aura of security and comfort. I don't know exactly what it is, all I can tell you is: I remember that star quilt, vividly

I can especially remember the way the colors in the fabric glowed when we used it for the roof of our childhood forts. To my imagination it was the plush drape of a desert queen's caravan tent - camels spitting in the sand included!

I'm not surprised that when it came time for us to make something special for my sister and her soon-to-be husband I insisted that it be a blanket and gravitated toward vibrant colors and patterns. 

I know my sister loved this blanket when we gave it to her this past Sunday. We somehow managed to make it under her radar - she was completely shocked and surprised. (Here, I've been dragging the thing all over town for the last month!)

Phew, I'm glad its finished, and I hope she invites me over one Sunday afternoon, when all of the chaos and joy of her wedding is over. 

Perhaps we'll open a bottle of wine and build ourselves a fort. I can't wait to stretch out on the floor and enjoy the way the sun illuminates the rainbow of colors knit into this blanket. It'll be better than all the stained glass in all of the cathedrals in France!
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