Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pssst! Don't look around...

Today was my day off, which means laundry, errands, cooking, etc.  You know the drill - more work than if I was at work.
Grocery shopping was one of the things on the to do list, and I got a wicked good deal.  Leg of lamb for less than hamburger.  It was even less than the marked-down-for-quick-sale-oops-we-ground-waaaay-too-much hamburger.
It's a lot of lamb for just Madman and me, but I'm already thinking ahead to the leftovers:  lamb stew, lamb curry,  stuffed grape leaves, real shepherd's pie.

Just don't tell Goldie and the gang...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fraternal gussets

It occurred to me that yesterday's photo of the gusset was taken from the other side of the sock than I'd shown previously.  Because there's a surprise in the gussets - one is black

and the other is green.


Because the 48 stitches of the sole could only be divided into an even number of stripes, the first stripe and the last stripe (from left to right) are opposite colors, which meant the gussets wouldn't match.  I knew that going in, and knew that I could do some fancy number juggling to compensate, but I decided it just wasn't worth it.   I plan to knit the second sock with the sole stripes reversed, so that the socks will mirror.  Then for the pattern it will be knitter's option whether they knit matching or mirrored socks.

I'm also trying to figure out the topology of turning one sock inside out.  Would it then match or mirror?  (I'm an empiricist, dammit.  I'll have to knit the second sock, then play with turning one inside out...)

Monday, November 28, 2011

You say you want a resolution

We-eell you kno-o-ow, we all want to knit a sock...  (Sorry.  Channeling old Beatles songs lately.  It's either a function of my age, or some sort of mental protest against all the "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" that's already spring up.  Grrr.)

So, the gusset has resolved.  (Which is where all that resolution came from.)  (Again, sorry.)  I like the stronger lines I got by working it this way.

Double-knitting, for me, seems to involve a lot of mental chanting.  "Green/black-green/black, black/green-black/green".  Over and over, in various combinations.  It's the only way I've found to keep going without getting hopelessly confused. 
Makes it a little hard to have a conversation, though...  "Hey, sweetie, green-black, I stopped green-black at Agway black-green this black-green morning and green-black they had green-black a new black-green kind of black-green chicken feed."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I hope calling Murphy's Law doesn't cancel Murphy's Law...

No deer today, the last day of rifle season.  But there's one more week of bow season in early December. 
Venison would make such a nice change from chicken...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I needed a foghorn...

Just got home from work - the store is already keeping whacky hours in preparation for the holidays - and it was so foggy that I was mostly driving by memory... 
The weather has been warming up again, which is causing all the fog.  Maybe it'll bring Madman good luck in his Quest for Deer. 
We figure Murphy's Law will work in our favor this year - the freezers are chock-a-block full of chickens and garden veg.  We have absolutely no room for venison.  Doesn't that sound like he should get a really really big deer?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Woo and Hoo

 Last month I was spinning this luscious stuff - a Corgi Hill Farm merino/angora/silk blend.  And we're talking serious love with this fiber.  It's blue-green at one end, shading down to yellow-green at the other, with white laced through it so the colors shimmer between light and dark.
But then something awful happened - my wheel suddenly developed a horrible clunk.  It took me forever to track down where the sound was coming from, but I finally realized that the pitman rod was hanging up at the top of its arc, making a small clunking noise just before it reached the top and a louder one just after, as the whatchamacallit that turns the axle went up and over.  (You know how I love all that technical talk.)
I would grit my teeth, and try to spin for awhile, but the noise was rapidly driving me batshit.  I could tolerate a few minutes - and I desperately wanted to spin that CHF temptress - but then I'd have to put the fiber down and run walk away from the wheel.  I was afraid that I'd have to call the wheel-doctor to get my baby fixed, but money spent on doctoring is money that can't be spent on more luscious fiber, so I put it off.
I didn't spin for a couple of weeks.  But I missed it.  I really really missed it.  So, last night I sat down at the wheel, thinking "Well, I'll spin as long as I can stand the noise, then go knit or something."
I dabbed a few drops of oil behind her ears, just like I always do, and started to spin.
Silence.  Or nearly so - just that gentle hum of a wheel working smoothly.
I kept spinning, hoping it wasn't just a fluke.
Still with the silence.  Wow.
I finally said to Madman "Ya know, this isn't helping any with my irrational belief that things will heal themselves if you just leave them alone for a while..."
"What?" he asked, turning away from the computer.
"Do you hear any clunks?"
He listened for a moment.  "Hunh."

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Over the river and through the woods

To Grandmother's house we go!
Have a happy Turkey Day, everyone!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Madman's socks

So, I was knitting away last night on the double-knit socks.  Madman looked over and asked "Socks?" 
I smiled and said "Yes."
"That looks really cool.  Can I feel it?"
And again I said "Yes."  I'm always pleased when he takes an interest in the knitting.
"Wow!  This is really thick!" he said.  I showed it off, explaining double-knitting, and showing that it was reversible.
"Oh, wow.  I want a pair of these."
"Sweetie, you haven't been reading the blog lately, have you?"

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Oh, yes, that's much better

Here's the new and improved gusset - much more what I had in mind:

As opposed to the first version:

I guess I should have rotated one or the other of those photos...

Monday, November 21, 2011

For those of you keeping score at home

The pullets are nosing ahead again...

Yes, that's four (count them, four!) pullets standing outside the coop door, trying to figure out how to get in.
One of the less stupid  braver ones actually edged past me while I had the door open, filling feeders, and got inside.  A second one I cornered, grabbed, and boosted over the fence.
The other two are still out there milling around somewhere, too fast for me to capture.  (Madman tried to find them when he got home, but since it now gets dark in what feels like mid-afternoon,  it wasn't possible to find two chickens by the light of a headlamp.)
We honestly can't figure out how they're getting out.  And apparently, neither can they, since they can't manage to get back in.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Gusset, Rip, Repeat...

And repeat again.

I decided that I didn't like the way the gusset was going to resolve when I finished the decreases (naturally, I was almost at that point when I realized it), so I ripped it back to the picking-up-stitches part and started again.
And then realized that I'd made a grievous calculation error (because apparently I can't count past four without making a mistake) and had to rip it out again.

On the silver-lining side, I'm getting very good at picking up the two layers of gusset stitches...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Lured away

I was going to post about something, but made the mistake of dropping by Rav first and got diverted by this thread. (NSFW, btw)
Now I can't remember what I was going to post about...

Friday, November 18, 2011

I've never been afraid to bite off more than I can chew...

I bought the Fall Vogue Knitting issue for one pattern.

It's Nancy Marchant's Crossing Over - a hat made with two-color brioche cables.

I want to knit this hat.

Never mind the fact that I've never done two-color brioche cables.
Never mind the fact that I've never done two-color brioche at all.
Never mind the fact that I've never even done one-color brioche. Brioche is unexplored territory. I have never brioched.

I want to knit this hat.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

One of my Favorite Movies of All Time

In 30 seconds.
With bunnies.

Maybe they have your favorite movie, too...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

And in my *spare* time, I want to try *this*...

This is origami on a whole new level.
And if you click on 'my diagrams' on the left sidebar, there are diagrams and videos to show you how to fold your own.

Like this beauty.

I need to buy some paper...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

As the Heel Turns

I've turned the heels on the Double Knit Sock -

so the stripes have started on the sole.

Actually, I'm a bit further along, since I've now got the gussets going, but no photos yet in case I change my mind and have to start over. (What I visualize isn't always what I end up with. Knitting is a lot like life in that respect...)
The heel turning went a lot smoother than I expected, and picking up stitches for the gussets involved a lot less swearing than I was prepared for, too.
I had some truly spectacular words all lined up and everything. Pity they were wasted. Oh, well, better to be over-prepared than surprised, I guess.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Home of Weird Blog Fodder, or Mr Stinky's Revenge

RIP Mr Stinky. Your aroma memory lingers on.
The good news is that the skunk is out of his misery. The bad news is that we won't be out of ours for awhile.
Yes, skunks do spray when you shoot them. (Good thing Madman is a swift runner.) (Doubly good thing that he got that knee repaired last year so he could be a swift runner again.)
So the chickens are safe again for the time being. Until the next predator moves into the neighborhood, anyway.
Though the skunk smell might hold them off for a bit...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Last Stay of Execution

The prisoner is enjoying a hearty Last Meal. But Chicken-Eatin' Varmints gotta go.
I don't anticipate getting a call from the governor...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Anybody want a slightly-used skunk?

One owner. Low mileage. All the bells and whistles.
Must be picked up, as we will not deliver.

Seriously, what do we do now? Neither of us is willing to put the trap in our vehicle to haul it away. We're trying to talk someone with a truck into doing the hauling, but everyone is remarkably reluctant. (Can't imagine why.) Not to mention there's the problem of how the hell to get the trap into and out of the truck to begin with. (I'm not touching it...)
I suggested he hitch the trap to his garden tractor and drag it up to the woods.
"And what, let it out so it can just walk back down the hill to the chicken yard?"
"Of course not. You should shoot it."
He gave me That Look. (You know the one. The "Are you daft?" look.) "It'll spray and stink up everything."
"So?" (Thinking that a smelly trap wasn't necessarily a bad thing.)
"It'll spray and stink up ME."

And tomorrow is the first day of hunting season. No way is Madman going to head for the woods reeking of skunk...

Oh, $hit. That's not a kitty...

Madman had put out a Hav-a-Heart trap, trying to catch what we thought was a fox or a weasel that had been lurking around our place, raiding the compost pile and bothering the chickens.
When he checked it this morning, he thought he'd caught one of the neighbor's cats.
Until he looked closer.
He's now got a very large, very pissed-off skunk in the trap.

Good thing he's got today off...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Heels checks? Check.

I've started work on the heel flap. Checks R Us...

(The flash throws off the colors, but no flash does, too, and is blurry besides.)

I briefly considered running a couple of horizontal stripes before starting the checks, echoing the top border, but decided against it. The checks start nicely right off the tops of the zigzags.

One thing I like about knitting a checkerboard on a heel flap is that it makes it really easy to count the rows...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The chickens aren't happy with the return to Standard Time, either

I always bitch this time of year about the return to Standard Time. (The only reason I'm not griping right now about the difficulty of resetting my watch, is that my watch died a while back. Probably committed suicide to avoid going off Daylight Saving Time...)
I get out of work at 5pm and am home around 15 minutes later. In total Darkness. So when I go out to the chicken coop to feed and water and gather eggs, the chickens have already settled in for the night. They're pretty grumpy about me wandering around with a head lamp, peeking in nest boxes.
"Hey! What the hell?!? Trying to get some sleep here. Bug off!"

At least the rabbit is happy to see me. He's a little more nocturnal.

And the sheep just cuss me for being so late bringing their supper...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Plotting and Planning

Step 1: Find a pen that works.
Step 2: Find a pen that works for longer than a minute.
Step 3: Take the only working pen in the house and start a shopping list. (First item: pens.)
Step 4: Start drawing socks. (Actually, I cheated - I found an image on the internet, reduced the size, and traced it a whole bunch of times. All's fair in sock-knitting.)
Step 5: Start filling in sock outlines with permutations of stripes, zigzags, and checkerboards.

(You'll notice that the 'filling-in' sort of petered out towards the end. Not to mention coloring in checks...)
Though I like some of the short row heel options (top row), I think that'll wait for another design. I'm more intrigued with the flap/gusset heel configuration, though it's going to be harder to wrap my brain around. I think I have it figured out how to do it (it works in my head, anyway), but I'm questioning my ability to write it out in a fashion that a normal person would be able to follow.
At this moment, I'm favoring the one in the bottom row, second from the left. Still have to decide if I want wide or narrow stripes on the sole.

When I get it done, I might be calling for test knitters. You don't necessarily have to be normal to volunteer...

Monday, November 7, 2011


Totally forgot to post yesterday. Which means I blew NaBloPoMo in the first week.
I think I'll play a Get Out of Jail Free card, and ignore it.
Intention is nine tenths of the law, right?

Still knitting on the double-knit sock. It looks the same as the last photo, only longer, so I won't bother with another pic yet.
Will have to start making decisions about the heel soon. Short row? Flap and gusset? And patterning - the checkerboard or a stripe pattern? And then what about patterning on the sole?
I have the day off tomorrow and plan to do some sketching of options. As slowly as double-knitting progresses (since I'm knitting two stitches for every one, after all) I've got time to consider, yet.
All options are still open...

Saturday, November 5, 2011

More Mayhem

Too tired to post. We butchered the last of the second batch of meatbirds today - twenty-some of the little blimpoids. (We were victims of our own success on the first batch - we ended up selling so many that we didn't get any for ourselves. Had to raise a second batch, and even then we could have sold most of them.) (You know you're on the right track when you have to beat customers off with a stick.) ("My chicken, damn you! Let go! Mine mine mine!")
Anyway, I just finished stuffing the last of them into the freezer. And I had to lean on the door slightly to do it... (There had to be a general purge of the freezer about mid-afternoon. A lot of things went to the compost pile. Bananas-that-would-have-been-for-banana-bread-if-I'd remembered-I-had-them-at-any-point-in-the-last-several-months, chicken carcasses that I'd intended to boil down for stock, etc. And several unlabeled items that I decided that if I couldn't identify it in less than 20 seconds then it should probably be thrown away...)
(Note to self: Label things that go in the freezer. No, you are not going to remember what they are later, no matter how firmly you believe you will. No, seriously, label things.)

Chicken for supper tonight. Gotta go start some pilaf...

Friday, November 4, 2011

Testing... testing... One,... well, just one...

Since Alison so graciously told me I could post my test-knitting pics, I'll let you see.
She's designed this great pattern for warm, cushy socks, and let me test the pattern. Truly, you are going to love these socks -

They have a thick squishy sole that's pure luxury to walk around on.

Of course, I only have 75 percent of a pair of socks, so far...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Actual knitting content

Not much has been accomplished on the knitting front lately. Other than a test-knit for a friend (and I don't know if I'm allowed to show it or not. I'll wait for the go-ahead from her, then I'll be pleased to show off a wonderful pattern!), the needles have been pretty quiet.
I do have another project underway which I can show. (And I had to finish a pair of socks that I'd started last year, in order to free up the needles.) (And, duh... it occurs to me that I should probably take a picture. I'll get on that. Soon.)
This started out as a Crimbo present for Madman, but I realized there was no way I would get them done in time without knitting them under his nose. So I've decided they're going to be an Ice-fishing present, instead. Ice-fishing presents don't have to be secret.
Here's a shot of the knitting in progress:

And I'll just flip the bottom up so you can see the inside:

Yeah. Double-knitting. Socks, to be exact. Because I'm clearly not crazy enough.
I'm going to be designing this pattern as I go. Madman needs really warm socks - and what could be warmer than double-knitting? And I need to knit socks for him (cuz, you know, love and all that), but he's always been resistant to hand-knit socks because the purl bumps bother the bottoms of his feet. Double-knitting = no purl bumps. Win-win, right?
Well, except for the crazy part...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Big Blue Bucket

So, our new little ram, Orion, is fitting right in with the gang. Except for one thing.
He's a grain hog.
Our sheep live on a diet of grass and hay, supplemented with a little grain. Shetlands are a hardy breed, and actually do better when not on too rich a diet. So, morning and evening chores involve chucking some hay at them, then giving them some grain - hand feeding it to them when we have the time (and it's not 40 below), otherwise just dumping some into a big food dish.
Our original three managed to share fairly nicely, with the occasional disagreement that ended in a butting contest, but usually things worked out pretty fair.
Orion, however, thinks he should get all the grain, and elbows... well, horns, actually, the others out of the food dish. They stand around going "Hey! Hey! That's for everybody, ya know. Hey!" while he guzzles all the grain.
So, I tried an experiment. I grabbed their spare water bucket, shook a little grain into the bottom of it, and set it in front of Orion. Once he was engaged with that, I put grain for the other sheep into their food dish, and stood back to watch.
It worked like a charm. Orion, with his head in a bucket, couldn't see the others eating, and thought he was getting the grain all to himself. The other sheep finally were getting their fair share.
My only concern was the bucket handle - I was afraid of it getting hooked on Orion's horns, with him panicking and dashing around the pasture like a... well, like a sheep with a bucket on his head.
Good thing I was worried, because getting his horns caught is exactly what happened. I was close enough to intervene before he realized he had a problem (he was still distracted by the grain in the bottom of the bucket), so I was able to work the handle back off his horns before we ended up with a situation where the other sheep were laughing at him and calling him 'Buckethead.' (It's so hard to maintain any ramly dignity when your flock refers to you as Lil' Buckethead...)
The next day, I came up with a better bucket - a big blue one without a handle.

Much better.

Goldie, Onyx, and Merlin can now enjoy their supper without getting a horn in the snoot.

And nobody has to be a Buckethead...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

神聖的睾丸 ・ Shun-SHENG duh gao-WAHN

Because it IS Tuesday, after all.
I was going to save this one for later in the month - it's NaBloPoMo time again, after all - but who could resist a perfect combination of Tuesday and Nerdiness?
Go here to find out what I'm talking about.
Any other Browncoats out there?