Tag: chickens

Randomly, on a Thursday 8

Finns Hat

This has been a banner week for communication. Sometimes it seems impossible to accomplish anything when it involves appealing to far-away people I don’t know for a response. It can feel like my phone calls and emails are just wafting off into the void. The last few days have been different, though.

One communication success didn’t have anything to do with knitting, but I’ll tell you about it anyway. I wanted to express my views on a particular situation to the mayor’s office. I couldn’t find an email address and so resorted to calling, thinking I’d either reach an administrative assistant who’d just mark down my position on a list or, worse, that my call would be routed into voicemail hell. As it turned out, I did have to leave a message, but to my huge surprise, the mayor himself called me back not twenty minutes later! Can you believe it? I was blown away. We talked for about ten minutes. He gave me some suggestions about additional people to contact, and I walked away a happy citizen. Imagine that.

There have been a number of other minor communication successes, but the really fun one you might actually be interested in has to do with knitting. I’m teaching a class on double knitting at the upcoming Knotty Ladies Fiber Retreat on Roan Mountain. I’ve been enjoying poking around trying to figure out how the popularity of the process evolved in recent times, and I kept running into a significant gap.

Double Knitting

There aren’t a ton of resources available on double knitting, but up until the late 80’s, it seems like everything out there proceeded on the assumption that the technique must be accomplished in a particular way. If you know about double knitting, the “way” is with the knit or purl one and then slip one method. This allows you to do things like work a tube with two straight needles or to make a piece of flat knitting that has two layers. It gets the job done, but because it takes two passes to complete each round, it’s slow.

The modern way of doing things is to knit each side (of the tube or of the double-thick flat piece) simultaneously. It’s much quicker and more efficient. I learned this method from Alasdair Post-Quinn. His book and his Craftsy class are amazing resources.

DK Books

Anyway, as I perused some of the earlier explanations of double knitting, I started wondering if Alasdair was the first to use this modern method. Before his book, the most comprehensive examination of the topic was Beverly Royce’s book, Notes on Double Knitting, and she does things the old way.

So I sent Alasdair an email last night via his website and figured, not that that was the end of it, but that it would be at least a week or maybe even a month or more before I heard back. The man has a full-time, non-knitting job, plus he writes and travels all over the place to teach classes.

Well, guess what. First thing this morning, I had an information packed response from him that was just as helpful and nice as you could ever hope to get. It absolutely made my day.

In case you’re still following along with the technical end of this and are interested, the short version of the answer he gave me was that he wasn’t the first to use the modern method, but that the earliest source to which he could trace it didn’t present it with the sort of fanfare you’d expect to accompany a true innovation. This makes him think that someone, somewhere must have introduced this technique before. The other things published around the same time as the article Alasdair mentions and those that immediately precede it all seem to teach the old method, though, so it appears we’ve still got a missing link. But thanks to Alasdair’s terrific response, it’s a little gap in my understanding of the timeline now rather than a massive, gnarly one.

If you’re not interested in double knitting, this is probably a pretty boring blog post. But maybe the take-away can be that, every now and then, reaching out to someone in the public sphere for direction or information can actually produce real results.

Checks and Balances

In other news, I’m still working like a maniac and just getting my knitting in where I can. I’m almost finished with the front of Paul’s Checks and Balances sweater, and then I’ll just need to do the sleeves and join everything together.

I also started a double knit hat for my godson who left for his freshman year at TCU this week. That’s it in the photo at the top of this post. Since there’s about a 101% chance Finn doesn’t read the blog, I’m not at all worried about spoiling the surprise.

Poor Alice is moulting.


Augie is pretty much living in this blanket pile because of the crazy thunderstorms we’ve been having . . .


Everyone thinks they’d feel better about the weather if they could mooch some homemade ice cream.

Ice Cream

The garden is winding down.


And there were peanut butter cookies.

PB Cookies

That’s it for now. Knit on, my friends!

Deep beneath the cover of another perfect wonder where it’s so white as snow . . . 2

Snow Day web

We were snowed in for a couple of days over the weekend. It hardly ever gets so snowy and icy that we can’t get out, but Jonas was intense while it lasted.

The raised beds were completely buried by the time the snow finished falling.

Snow Chickens web

The chickens refused to come out of their coop for a day and a half.

We took a short walk on Saturday during a break in the weather.

Snow Bees web Color web

We even used my Louet Victoria box for a make-shift sled.

Louet Sled weg

Mostly, though, we stayed inside and watched.

Augie web

And read.

Textiles web

And knitted.

Squares web

These are the squares I’ve knit on my Geek-A-Long blanket so far.

I’m still getting a big kick out of double knitting, but I took a little break to finish up my Travel Shawl. The only thing left is the border, but since I’m up to around 500 stitches at this point, it’s taking awhile to finish each round.

Snow Knitting web

How’s the weather where you are?

Sublimation 5


Where to start? (Please ignore Elvis the Rooster for the moment.)

Sometimes I don’t know if I’m fifty or five. I’ve been in an absolute funk for days because yarn I ordered to start my Geek-A-Long blanket seemed to have disappeared in transit. I placed the order at the end of December, knowing it might be a day or two into January before I got it. But you know when it finally showed up? Yesterday! January 6th!

It wasn’t like there weren’t other things to knit. I could have worked on finishing Gramps or the Travel Shawl or cast on something new. I have gorgeous yarn for a sweater for Paul. But those things just wouldn’t do. All I could bring myself to work on were double-knitting swatches while I waited until time to go to the mailbox again and be crushed by no yarn . . . again.

I was a little surprised at my own petulance. It makes me wonder what’s really at stake for me to be so caught up in the idea of a particular project that having to wait felt like torture. Sublimation, for sure. But that’s knitting, right?

The yarn:

Black Yarn

I’ve never been so thrilled by black yarn. It doesn’t look like much, but the second color in every blanket square is black. No black . . . no blanket. 

Here’s the fun part:

Loopy Ewe

I got the colors from The Loopy Ewe, and along with the Cascade I ordered, they sent all these other fun things—sheep calendar, fun Della Q project bag, a little magnifying ruler, a button, candy, and a free skein of Malabrigo(!!!!!). I’m apparently a “Loopy Groupie” now. Not sure what qualified me for that unless it’s the embarrassing amount of money I’ve spent there, but I’m not one to look a yarny gift horse in the mouth, ya know?

Of course, I started my square immediately, and I’m loving it. I realized late last night that I’d made two of what are apparently the most common double-knitting mistakes, a bar and a stitch knit in the wrong color. My first knitting task today will be to work on correcting these things. I don’t even mind since it will be practice for fixing this sort of mistake going forward. 

One of my knitting goals for 2016 is to finish a blanket, something I’ve never done. As soon as my pesky day job is out of the way, I’m on it! Woohoo!!

Sidenote: While waiting for the black yarn, we ushered in the new year with Elvis the Rooster, one of the best gifts EVER (pictured above), and playtime with friends. Happy 2016, dear knitters!


Not Yet, Winter 2

This weekend was all about fall. 

Fall Chicken Coop

The leaves are shockingly beautiful. It’s surprising again and again that they they can be so vivid. I keep trying to soak it all in so I’ll have it in the dark and cold that will be here before long.

Fall at Home 4

Fall at Home 7

I’ve been spending as much time as possible outside. Yesterday, we visited friends with GOATS!

Paul and Gracie

AT Goat 1 web

These guys are angora goats, and their fleece makes wonderful, lofty fiber for spinning and knitting. And speaking of knitting, I did some along the way. Here’s the first sock in this pair, finished except for the kitchenering.


Happy knitting, my friends! And happy fall!

Fall Sunday 1

Keepin’ On Keepin’ On 2

Lots of work going on here. At the end of last week, I had a bit of extra time which was divine. I did a little organizing and planning while taking frequent knitting breaks.


Everything changed, today. The final installment of a big editorial project arrived. In some ways I’m glad. Knowing it’s been out there about to appear in my inbox at any moment has been like waiting for the other shoe to drop. It’s also a good thing in that I can work like a crazy woman this week and hopefully have only a regular workload starting next week—next week being the first week of the Tour de France and the super-amazing-big-fun-for-spinners Tour de Fleece. I’m a little excited.

In the meantime I’m taking hourly breaks to try to keep from getting computer neck. One of our hens is broody, so I check on her.


And our sweet Eudora is still getting medicine to help with her thin-shelled egg problem, so we take care of that.



Back at my desk, Lola provides moral support.


On a fun note, this came in the mail today:



Be well, my friends. I’ll check back in before the week is out. Hopefully, by Saturday I’ll be over the work hump and ready to share lots of Tour de Fleece pics and progress.

Oh, Nature . . . Why Must Thou Be So Slithery 2

It’s going to take a LOT of knitting to get past this evening’s adventure. My amygdala (reference this post) is now set to high alert for about the next five years. When I went to collect eggs just before dusk, I opened the hen house door to find not one but two (two?!!) snakes in the chickens’ nest box. Big, fat, really long snakes. My first thought when I opened the door was, “how did the water hose get in the chicken coop?” About one zillionth of a nanosecond later, I revised my assessment and freaked the hell out.

Now, in my own defense, I’d like to say that there have been a number of challenges since we’ve moved to the mountain, and I’ve risen to the occasion every single time. I’ve managed black widow spiders, gigantic hornets’ nests, the idea of a local bear, and quite a few other things. But the snakes (with an “s”! TWO snakes!) . . . let me just say that I can still feel them crawling up the back of my neck. It’s clear to me that back at the dawn of everything when the frog brain was in its heyday, my people were on very bad terms with the snakes because I am clearly hardwired to lose my mind when I see (two of!!) them.

So anyway . . . I think my husband felt the seismic jolt of my freak out from inside the house because somehow he was instantly there, and he managed the situation. Thank heavens. Here’s one of the snakes after it was ejected from the chicken coop. 


Now, I can see how you might be thinking, “That guy doesn’t look so bad. The face actually seems kind of sweet.” Do not be fooled by the sweet expression, my friends. That snake and its compatriot were out to kill us all. I am certain of it.

Moving on . . . What I had intended to tell you right away was that Eudora is doing much better! She’s back to being her normal curious, active chicken self. She’ll be on antibiotics for a few more days to hopefully stem any infection that could arise, but that’s it. Here she is looking for bugs with her sister:


I’m immensely relieved. She’s such an amazing chicken girl.

In other news I’m starting to get excited about this year’s Tour de Fleece. I’ve been testing out my wheels and thinking about what I want to accomplish. This is some of the Shetland Wool Top from Hello Yarn that I used to knit the pillow cover I blogged about a few weeks ago. I’m spinning it on my Louet Victoria.


When I got this fiber last year, the plan was to spin a sweater quantity of yarn and make a cardigan. As it turned out, though, my spinning wasn’t as consistent as I’d hoped, and there was no way I was going to get a regular gauge with the yarn. Once I realized that, I put the project aside. Having picked it back up over the last couple of days, I’m feeling like the result is fairly even, but who knows. It’s too late for the yarn to become anything sweater-like now because I’ve already turned part of it into a pillow cover. I’ll probably just enjoy spinning the rest for fun. 

That experience has got me thinking, though. I’m wondering if my goal for this year’s Tour should be to practice spinning a consistent worsted-spun yarn. Last year, I spent the Tour trying out a bunch of different things—different fibers, different spinning techniques, spindle spinning, wheel spinning, all kinds of variations . . . It was a lot of fun and definitely kept the three weeks of Tour spinning interesting. Lately, though, I’m feeling seriously anxious to knit something wearable with my handspun, and for that I’ve got to be able to produce a consistent yarn. I sat down with my Ladybug today with this in mind, and here’s what I came up with:


I’ve got several weeks to think about it, but I’m warming up to the idea of focusing on worsted spinning with consistency as my specific goal. I’d like to know that I can aim for a particular weight of worsted-spun yarn and produce it in quantity.

Next stop . . . Ravelry. Maybe seeing what everyone else’s plans are will give me some more ideas.


Plans 3

My husband always says that you plan plans—you don’t plan results. Today, as on many other days, he was proven right.  My schedule involved a set of papers that needed to be graded, an editorial project that needed work, and a couple of errands, in addition to all the regular things. It started off nicely. Porch grading, coffee, motivational knitting:

Morning Work

Happy mail:

Miss Babs 2

Say hello to Miss Babs Yowza! Whatta Skein! in the “Perfectly Wreckless” colorway. Is it gorgeous, or what? I blame the purchase on Cari. She’s behind of lot of my craziness. But more on that another time.

Miss Babs

I was planning to wrap up the day much as I did yesterday, with more sock knitting:

Toe Up Stripey One

And a pretty sunset: 


But our hen Eudora got sick. We’ve had chickens for just over a year, and they are one of the happiest things in my life. Chickens equal instant zen. Especially Eudora. Here she is as a baby, navigating the perch for the first time:

Baby Eudora

She’s named after Eudora Welty, one of my favorite authors, and from day one, she’s been the most outgoing, loving, interesting creature you’d ever want to meet. She’s not the head hen. Nor is she the least hen. She’s her own hen. And she’s wonderful.

Well, something happened today, and one of her eggs broke before she’d hatched it. About half of it was hatched, and the rest wasn’t. And she clearly didn’t feel well. I started calling vets, but no one would see a chicken. I looked online, and the predictions were all dire. In the end I extracted the rest of the broken egg myself, and thankfully, through a friend, was able to find a vet who would at least prescribe an antibiotic. Said antibiotic has been administered, and Eudora seems to be a little better than she did earlier.  Despite the never-to-be-broken, “no chickens in the house” rule, she’s asleep in the downstairs bathroom. Please send good thoughts. Here we are under the heat lamp a few hours after the “procedure.” 


The worst downpour of the year took place as we were trying to get from coop to house. Hence our bad hair.