Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Solstice from Indiana

We are in Indiana.

"Well, duh" you're thinking. "It says that right up there in the header ^."

Well, we're supposed to be in New York with our families for the holidays. But events have conspired and we're not. I'm not gonna lie. It sucks. It sucks a lot.

But we're trying to have some holiday spirit anyway. Today is the solstice and we celebrated with a Yule Log. The log must be cut by us on our property, so Bill picked out a great locust round.

We decorated it with a turkey feather for our birds, a (spouted) potato from our garden, and a bit of wool - all things we hope will be prosperous and abundant in the new year. We also included a cough drop for Bill and a bit of tape from my finger splint incident to keep us both healthy. Finally, on the very right is a bit of wrapping paper with a heart drawn on it - for happiness of everyone we love. We chose wrapping paper because the wrapped presents we won't be taking to NY this week are the most tangible reminder of our families right now.

Don't they look pretty??

The orange bobble ribbon is for my sister because she is funky and fun and her present should be too.

(sad face)

Ok - back to the Yule Log. We lit this year's log with the shard we kept from last year. Apparently keeping a bit of the Yule Log all year protects your house from lightening.

It totally worked for us.

Though, we did get hit by a tornado.

But it was a little tornado. It menaced our neighbors much worse than it did us.

So, anyway...that black coal in the center - that's last year's log chunk.

We saved a much bigger piece of this year's log - like half of it. Bill seemed to rather enjoy taking a flaming hunk of wood out of the stove, placing it on the ground outside and throwing water on it.


We also cracked open the Rumtopf. We put this up with fruit leftovers from throughout the summer and fall. There's not a lot of drinking going on here this week, but we each ate a (very potent) peach slice.

We hope you all had a lovely solstice.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Things that come in the mail.

This morning Bill ordered our 2012 chickens. A bunch of them are dorkings.

Dorkings are dual purpose birds that originated in Italy during the Roman Empire. How awesome is that?? (When they come, I plan to show them my Roman oil lamp and see if they know where it came from or who it belonged to.)

They look like this:

(Photo from Wikipedia)

They should not be confused with what my sister calls Dork Birds - little plovers that we'd watch on vacation at Long Beach Island.

(photo also from Wikipedia)

We've also got some laying hens coming - a few more australorps (they lay like champions), a Rhode Island Red, and some Araucanas (aka Easter Egg Chickens).

The extra layers are because we had to order a minimum of 20 (25?) birds (it's a hatchery rule, I swear!), and the dorkings are limited availability (and it's possible we have a slight addiction to poultry). Dorkings are listed as threatened by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, so I'm guessing even the breeder doesn't have a lot of them.

We also ordered three hens for one of Bill's coworkers. We tried to give her some of the Hobbits we hatched this spring. She did some reading, built and coop and picked up three mostly grown chickens. We thought they were all hens. But, every single one of them was a rooster. Every one. They all started to crow and she brought them back. They're in our freezer now.

So, expect photos of new baby chickens that will come in the mail in mid-March.

In the meantime, we had some other cool things come in the mail. I participated in a swap on Ravelry where we picked odd holidays and sent presents to a partner to help them celebrate. My holiday was Lost Sock Memorial Day (a day to move on and and realize you are never going to find the lost mates for those single socks that you keep in the back of your drawer) and my partner sent me an awesome package. Everything was wrapped and decorated with single socks. So cute.

We also had an enormous, mysterious package waiting for us one rainy night.

After much excavation...

...we discovered it is an awesome, Billy-sized rocking chair from Bill's parents.

(That's not my living room...)

It's currently next to our wood stove and is quickly becoming my favorite spot to knit socks.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Spark plugs

Bill changed the spark plugs in our car today. Naturally, Bernie supervised the process.

Sugar approved the finished work.

Monday, November 21, 2011


So, yeah... this:

Two weeks ago was chicken weekend. During chicken weekend, I sustained a plucking injury to my right index finger (a strain? tendinitis? repetitive stress whatever? My muscle - it hurts to move. A lot!). Today, I finally went to the doctor and she gave me a really adorable blue splint to wear for a while. This is awkward for the following reasons:
1) I kinda use my right index finger a lot
2) The blue tape really clashes with my wardrobe
3) For the next 2 weeks I'll have to tell everyone I meet that I injured my finger plucking chickens. It's not the sort of thing I typically lead conversations with.
At least I provided some entertainment for my doctor today. She said she doesn't come across chicken plucking injuries often. I worry that humorous, unique maladies might becoming a habit for us. A few years ago it was Bat in the Bed, and now Chicken Plucking Injury. I don't want to know what's next.

Fortunately, (very fortunately) I have been able to adapt my hands to continue knitting and spinning.
Some lovely Lincoln Longwool, which may someday be a sweater:

Fun fact: I had no trouble typing the word "sweater" just there, as "sweater" is composed of all left handed letters.

Wenselydale - maybe to be a shawl or some such:

The most adorable mittens EVER. I love them, but may reknit them. I used needles that were too big for the yarn and the mittens, despite their extreme cuteness, aren't very warm.

In closing: sweater. Sweaters. sweet sweet sweaters. Stewardess! Sweaters, dear. Sweaters.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

November is for long wool

(alternate post title: November is Longwool-ember)

Look how shiny:

The brown is a Wensleydale roving and the gray is my Lincoln Longwool fleece. Longwools are awesome - they have big scales which reflect light and make the wool shiny. They are also a little bit more coarse. They aren't soft enough for baby sweaters, but so far, these seem wearable.

The Lincoln starts out like this:

Then, I flick it with a very specific wool tool - a dog brush:

When it looks like this, I spin it:

November is also for anniversaries. Bill and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary last week. This photo is for my mom...she sent these flowers to me at work and I wanted to let her see how pretty they are. They still look lovely 10 days later:

Thanks, Mom! Happy Longwoolember, everyone!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A whole post on a pair of gloves

Oh, but what gloves they are.

Handspun from Ava, Ludu and Bees Merino.

The pattern is Albina Armwarmers. It's wonderful.

They've been done for a while, but they needed the right buttons. These are made from cyprus branches.

I like 'em.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Things which are autumnal.

Our lovely old honey locusts have shed most of their yellow confetti compound leaves and are now dropping the leaf stalks.

It's not quite as magical as a rain of gold.

Bill's oven now has a pretty arch and the start of a chimney.

Wood fires are autumnal, right? We had our first fire-to-heat-the-house-and-not-just-look-pretty last week. Note to self for next year... clean the outer surface of the living room wood stove before Bill makes the fire because burning dust smells awful and it's really, really difficult to wipe off a 350 degree stove.

I've been feeling really guilty over the poor quality of my Rhinebeck purchases photo. I got gorgeous tops and rovings which were loving dyed by brilliant people and I showed them to you illuminated by a CFL. Terrible. Here they are in the sunshine. I clearly had fall colors on the brain when I was buying.

Lastly, nothing says autumn like sweaters! ...also pumpkin ale, but I don't have any of that at the moment. So you get a sweater. An unraveling sweater.

I got this sweater ages ago and it never ever really looked good on me. I think people would describe my fashion preferences with the same sorts of words used to describe potato sacks. This sweater was the definition of that. Brown. Loose-fitting. Unshapely. Garlicy.

Mmm...maybe "garlicy" describes mashed potatoes more than potato sacks...but if a sweater can be garlicy, this one was.

So, I'm ripping it apart and getting yards and yards of cotton which I'll dye into less potato-sack-like colors and reknit into something a grownup might wear. Unraveling this $20 sweater is way fun and the amount of yarn I'm getting would certainly cost more than $20. I have grand plans to do this with $5 sweaters from Goodwill too, but the people who donate to Goodwill 'round these parts really like acrylic. Ick. I might have to seek out a fancy Goodwill for sweater unraveling adventures.

Happy Fall, y'all
(it says that on the big window of our grocery store. I couldn't resist.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ooooovvvveeeennnn (and Rhinebeck)

I feel as if I am running out of clever post titles for the oven construction. If you've got any suggestions for future titles that say "Oven progress" in a more interesting way than "oven progress" lemme know.

This is roughly where Bill is at:

He added the two additional arches of bricks and a slanty thing up front. To the very right of the photo is the red brick arch that will be visible in the final product. In between the slanty thing and that arch is where the chimney goes.

An interior view:

That's where the fires will be built and the pizza and bread and cakes will be cooked. Bill is a little further along than these photos show, but not much. This is because we drove hundreds of miles to go to Rhinebeck this past weekend...and visit family. Very important the family visiting (Hi Krista! I know you are reading this in bed...and now all the internet knows too!!).

However, as we didn't bring any of the family back with us, I only have photos of wool to share with you.

Aside from one lovely skein of alpaca, I focused mostly on all sorts of food for my wheel. On the right is a Border Leicester fleece. And then all the rest is tops and roving of various wools...some merino, corridale, finn, cheviot, rambouillet...and a sheep I've never heard of - masham. There is also a silk cap which I'm planning to knit right into mittens (ala the Harlot).

I am clearly in some sort of red and green phase.

These purchases represent only about half of my Rhinebeck budget. Though my plans were big when I started saving money, I don't think I could have actually spent it all - even a wool freak like me can get overwhelmed at the wonder of Rhinebeck. Fortunately (?) I brought a man with me who likes food. Within 20 seconds of seeing the Italian guys from Brooklyn with their tables full of bread and salami, we had a bag bursting with pepperoni, salami and cheese.

It was a good trip!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Oven walls

Bill's epic oven build continues.

After laying the hearth slab cooking surface, he built three oven walls.

He also made this edgey part. As the chair of the oven decorating committee, I assisted in the selection of these bullnose tiles. These are the first parts of the oven that will still be visible when it's all done. All the rest of this stuff will get covered in insulation, concrete and eventually a pretty facade.

The roof of the oven is built on top of an arch form. There will be three rows of bricks when the roof is done.

The rows have to be built one at a time, though and they have to cure before the form can be removed and the next row added. Bill is working on row two today.

It's starting to look more like a pizza oven every day!

The oven is being built just outside our kitchen, about 15 yards off our concrete picnic table and grilling area. We selected a flat, open area as close to the house as was feasible.

And, naturally, Bernie had to approve the site before we started construction.

Fortunately, he likes pizza too.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


We have the most wonderful old pair of honey locusts on either side of our driveway that make a lovely, amazing canopy near our house. The people who planted them are my most favorite Previous Owners.

They are currently raining yellow confetti and making a layer of gold all around the house. I tried to take a photo of the leaves as they were falling to share with you, but there are some things that are too magical to be captured on film.

Instead, please enjoy the leaves that have already landed.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

All the mundane updates

In news that shocked the world (or 5 people), I recently deleted my Facebook account. I realize that this leaves a giant void for all the people in the world (5) who have a keen interest on the mundanity of my days.

As such, I bring you an update of all the things that have happened since I left Facebook one full day ago.

This morning was garbage day.
This evening for dinner we ate garden potatoes for the first time this year.

Whilst we were eating, an autumn leaf fell from a honey locust on to Sugar Pie's fuzzy ear.

Bernie slept through it all as cats are wont to do.

Bill has gotten to this point in his oven building.

I have gotten to this point in my hat and glove building.

(Also, since leaving FB, I have turned into a hard core rocker chick. Hard. Core.)

We received another delivery of wood.

I know, it looks like the last delivery, but I assure you it is not. See the wood in the shed? We stacked that. Also, please note our propane tank has been downgraded from 1000 gallons to 300 something. We use significantly less propane than the previous owners and the huge tank was unnecessary. Wood is the heating source of champions!

Finally, the turkeys want you to know that their tails are growing in for the season and they don't look nearly as silly as they did over the summer.

They want you to know they are handsome again. Image is very important to turkeys.

Very handsome turkeys.