Saturday, October 25, 2008

Just can't stop talking about the chickens...

We've reached a new and hilarious milestone in chicken development - the youngling roosters are learning to crow.
Rooster chicks are born with an innate desire to crow, but there's no innate ability to crow to go along with it. It's a learned skill.
They start out making strangulated "ER!!" noises, with overtones of rusty hinge. Then they progress to variations - "A-ERRRK!" and "ERRRRKKK-AH!" and "ERK!_ERK!" It takes many many tries over many many days to arrive at a true rooster crow.
Now this is hilarious in and of itself. The range of sounds produced by that crowd of little roosters is rich and crazy.
But in the coop next door is our full-grown rooster, Big Red, he of the Monstrous Ego. In his view, his place in the universe is Top Gun, Supreme Master, Cock-of-the-Walk (literally), and Boss of All Chickendom. Every crowing noise from those out-of-sight little roosters is seen as a challenge to his Majesty, and a personal affront.
So he answers each little "ERK!!" with a full-tilt 5-syllable how-dare-you full-throated crow.
Now there's at least a dozen of the little guys, and only one of him.

Big Red is starting to get a little hoarse...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Oy, too tired...

I got a promotion at work. That's the good news. The bad news is that my hours changed so that now I have to be at work before I used to get up. So I've been getting up *gasp* In The Dark. Not so good for a night person.
And the workdays have been longer. And exhausting. More mentally than physically, but still, exhausting.
So not much knitting has been happening. Or anything else, for that matter.

As for feeding chickens in the dark? Sucks rocks...

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Originally uploaded by mangofeet
Madman picked a pile o' pretty peppers, a pile o' pretty peppers Madman picked...

Last night, with temps predicted in the 20's, we decided to call it quits on the hoophouse. Madman went out and picked all the remaining peppers and tomatoes. The smaller peppers on the left are the bells, the larger ones are our ancho chile peppers. We had really hoped for some of the chiles to turn red, but I think the variety we grew this year needs longer days, or maybe more longer days, in order to fully ripen.
Over the next day or two, we'll be chopping and freezing most of these peppers. Come winter, we'll be able to pull out whatever we need for making supper.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Just checking...

We have a match.
Now as long as I don't screw up the star on the back. Or the palm pattern. Or put the thumb gusset on the wrong side.


How long do you suppose I can knit while holding my breath?

Are we tired of WWM, yet?

I finished the first mitten, sans weaving in the last of the ends, and cast on the second one. Almost missed the beginning of the thumb gusset, but made a quick recovery. Frogging thrums is a messy business at best.

Someday my spinning will be better and more consistent, I hope. Until then, I just keep practicing.

I finished the pinky on the second Selbu glove.

And cast on a third. I'm shooting for a glove that will match the first one, but I admit I'll be happy as long as it matches either of them... Two half-pairs I can bear, but THREE half-pairs would probably send me right over the edge. I'll be watching this one with great paranoia...

A friend of ours gave us some elderberries. Not enough for a batch of wine (sigh...) but enough to make a lovely elderberry buckle:
Madman liked it a lot...

For some strange reason, every time I say elderberry buckle, I hear "Buckleberry Ferry" in the back of my head.

And, last but not least, the chickens are in molt. Every fall their old feathers fall out (the inside of the chicken coop looks like the site of a chicken explosion) and new feathers grow in. The transition stages make them look pretty pathetic. With most of their feathers gone, they end up looking like lizards. With goosebumps.
Last year, they molted in November - nothing sadder than seeing a bunch of cold, shivering, half-naked chickens.

Our poor rooster has lost most of his tail feathers. Lucky for him, he has a big enough ego to convince himself he's still the best looking rooster alive.
I don't have the heart to tell him that there are a dozen roosters in the coop next door that are all prettier than he is. And all better-natured than him, too. (He has turned mean in his "old-age" and attacks us on a too-regular basis.) One of them will be chosen to be his replacement...

The really sad part about the molt is that the chickens pretty much stop laying for a month or two. We've gone from 4 eggs a day to one every other day. Since we can sell as many as we can produce, this is not good news. In another month or two, the young hens will start laying, so at least we have that to look forward to.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

World's Warmest Mittens, part 4

Flying along on the Alpaca Herringbone Mitten. Nothing like lazing on the couch with a mega-cold to get some knitting done.

I need to check the chart and make sure I haven't gone past the point where the decreases start... (Not that I've done anything like that before. Uhn-uh. Not me.)
As I'm knitting these, I'm also considering a matching hat. It would be easy to cobble the herringbone pattern into panels, with a plain brown column setting off each panel.

Would a thrummed hat be Over The Top?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

World's Warmest Mittens, part 3

Work continues on the thrummed alpaca mittens, albeit slowly, since my wonderful Madman has shared his cold with me...
I managed to get a few more rows worked last night, between the hacking, sneezing, and nose-blowing...The pattern would show better if my spinning wasn't quite so lumpy. I'm still having a consistency problem, especially when I'm not spinning laceweight.
Peeling back the needles to give you a view of the inside:

I'm thrumming with the alpaca fleece, too, which is harder than using wool, since alpaca just doesn't have the "grab" that wool does. But I promised WGS alpaca mittens, and alpaca mittens she shall have.
And I finally puzzled out a way (the hard way, I'm sure. Story of my life.) to chart what I'm doing. This is a chunk of Elliphantom's chart, hand-drawn at great effort by yours truly. (Feel free to comment on my Mad Charting Skilz)

The main part is just plain two-color knitting. The orange dots represent where the thrums go. I wrap the stitch normally with the white yarn, but before I pull it through, I add the thrum, then pull both through together, completing the knit stitch. On the next row, I knit the white yarn and the thrum as if they were one strand, and give the thrum a little tug from the back side to make sure it seats itself.
These mittens end up being very warm - two-color knitting is warm in and of itself, just from the extra layers of the carried yarn. Adding in the soft cozy thrums makes them even warmer.

Now I'm going to go lay down on the couch for awhile. And cough. And maybe sneeze. And maybe knit some more.

And I decided that I just didn't have the heart to frog the glove. So now I have 1/2 of two pairs. Unfinished, of course...


Saturday, October 4, 2008

World's Warmest Mittens, part 2

So, while I'm deciding what to do about the Selbu glove, I'll start the thrummed colorwork mittens I'm making for WGS. (Wicked Good Stepmother)
Once again, I'm using Elliphantom's gorgeous Herringbone Mittens pattern, with some mods.

First, I knit a full cuff in K1P1 ribbing - these mittens are for a woman who'll be wearing them to the barn to do chores. (Note: pigs steal mittens. They also steal hats. And untie shoelaces. Pigs have a very strange sense of humor...)
And now, let the thrumming begin!

As soon as I can figure out how to chart where the thrums go, I'll put up the chart. So far I'm completely inept...


So, I'm flying right along with the second Selbuvotter glove. Just starting the decreases on the pinky. But somewhere in the back of my brain, a little voice was calling...
I finally stopped, looked, and listened.

See anything wrong with this picture?

Look a little closer...

See it now? How about a little closer, yet?

I left out that little 3-row border. On the cuff.


So, now I have two options. I can either rip out most of a glove (the disheartening option), or I can knit 2 more gloves to make pairs out of what I've already got (the daunting option.)


Decisions, decisions...