Friday, September 15, 2017

If we were having coffee ... Where I prove I haven't fallen off the face of the earth

This type of blog post is for when I have a lot of little things I want to share, or when I feel the need to catch up. 

 So, grab your coffee/beverage of your choice. One of these days I'll actually take a photo of myself holding a cup of coffee for these posts. ... One day. ... But today is not that day. In the meantime, here is a slightly blurry picture of me with a chicken. 

 

If we were having coffee ... I'd tell you how life has been crazy busy for me these last several months. I decided to let a few things go to the back burner, and the blog was one. Sorry.

When I was looking over the blog, this time last year something very similar happened. The busyness of the season necessitates that I be out and about rather than sitting indoors. 

Back in July I started working on this blog entry again.  I had written a masterpiece, saving often and thinking I would put the pictures in later.  Well, when I opened the post to decide which photos I wanted, everything I had written was gone.  I was so steamed that I put the blog in time out.  Yes, you can do that.

Now summer is winding down, and I feel I can pick up the virtual pen, and put it to virtual paper.

So ...  How are you?  :-)

Me, I'm doing good. Still busy, but not quite as much. The family is getting back into the routine of school, early mornings, getting it all done, and trying to not rush out the door and chase the bus because someone forgot their lunch.

We are also trying to get the new ladies transitioned from the little coop to the big coop.  They aren't quite getting it yet.

Wait, I think I'm getting ahead of myself.  Let me pick a point and start from there.

If we were having coffee ... I'd blather at you about the chickens. So many chickens.  At one point we had around 100 chickens on the homestead. Around 30 of them were meat birds. Best group of meat birds we've had so far.  Very friendly and they didn't act like dim light bulbs either.  Every time we went out to the coop to feed or water them, at least one would come up to you and stand right in front of you and look up, as if to say "I'm ready to be held/petted/loved."  It made it just a smidge more difficult at butchering time.


Meat bird babies back in April.  They grew so fast.


Smack dab, right in the middle, is one of our homegrown babies. They all look so sweet together.


Here they are, out in the open air coop, sometime in early May, or so. Seriously, some of the happiest birds meat birds I've ever seen.

Here's a photo of our first homegrown baby from 2017, fresh out of the egg, back in late March/early April.


Unfortunately we didn't have many eggs hatch out this year.  Either our Roo was shooting blanks, or he just wasn't doing his job. We wound up with four babies.  Two hens went off to live with one of my best friends. They have already starting laying eggs. Hooray! The other homegrown babies were roos, and we found them homes, even though we really wanted to keep one in particular.  He was super pretty, and because he was pretty, he found a new home fairly quickly.

To supplement the flock since so few hatched out, we decided to pick up more Americaunas, Black Marans, and Brahmas.


Americauna babies when they were feathering out.


Our little Maran Roo, back in April.  I held this little guy a lot, hoping to dispell the notion that Black Marans are crabby little buggers. I think it worked.  He's not aggressive towards us right now.  He seems to be a good Roo so far.  Always attentive to his ladies and not a jerk. However, he does like to keep the flock segregated.  As in, the brahmas need to stay away from *his* girls, which are the Marans and Americaunas.  So he chases them away, and comes back to his girls, aka, his angels.



Most of our little Marans.  They are sweet little ladies.


Our Brahma babies have been adorable right from the start. This year we decided to try placing an order from a hatchery. I'm very happy with how the whole transaction was handled.  We didn't lose any chicks.


Baby Brahmas on "delivery day." I flew out of the house when I got the phone call from the post office. It is amazing how many chicks can be squeezed into a small box. They were scipey little babies that first day. They were unhappy and wanted to let everyone know.  As soon as they got into the brooder tote, and warmed up, they quieted down.


All the Brahmas are sweet, except for one. The buff Roo.  He wants to mate all the ladies, all at the same time, and they aren't ready for his rough and wild ways.  He's a feather puller, too, and they aren't into that kinky stuff.

 

He's also sort of a jerk.  I have to shake my head at this, because I was so focused on making sure the Maran roo wasn't a jerk, thinking I didn't need to worry about the Brahmas because of their docile nature and sweet personality.  

We decided to take a break from raising turkeys this year.  Even though we have a ton of fun raising them, and having them in the yard. Butchering a turkey is not an easy thing, specially when it's cold outside, and we always feel so bad when the weather turns cold and we see them shivering in the coop.

I did have a close call with picking out a couple.  We went to an L and H and they had a "special" on baby turkeys. Buy one and get one free.  Oh, it was *really* hard walking away.  Baby turkeys are *SO* cute and sweet.

Maybe next year.

If we were having coffee ... I'd tell you how my crafting took a nosedive once the weather turned nice.  All I've really accomplished this summer were two pairs of socks.  I have a few things (I think) that have been off the needles for a while, and still need to be shared on the blog.  I'll post those items in a separate blog or two.

Vanilla socks
Started: June 6 2017
Completed: August 6, 2017
Needle size: 24 inch circ, 2.25 mm
Yarn: Knit Picks Felici
Colorway: Madrigal;  Lot: 59922


Yup, took me almost two month to knit a pair of plain vanilla socks.

The other pair I worked on was Dead Simple Lace Socks, out of WendyKnits  Socks from the Toe Up book.  I have had this book since 2008 and I've knit just a handful of socks out of it. It was an easy enough pattern that I could take the project everywhere. 

Dead Simple Lake Socks
Start: May 14, 2017 (Mother's Day U.S)
End: July 28, 2017
Yarn: Berroco Sox
Color: Blues
Color: 1436; Dye Lot: 3804
Needle size: US 1 - 2.25 16 inch circs.

 

First toe up sock pattern in many years. Couple boo boos in the pattern.  Would make the pattern again.


At least I can call this a "summer of socks" and not just one pair.

Yes, I finally have a pair of sock blockers.  They are a birthday gift from my MIL.  Yay! I've been wanting a pair for years.

Quilting and sewing pretty much stopped in April. I had fallen of the cross stitch wagon *hard* I have not haven't touched my "Happily Ever After" cross stitch since ... late March. *gulp* I'm getting things ready so I can pick it up again.  I have my needles threaded with floss and just need a chunk of time, and some good lighting.


Yes, I'm still at January's clue. This is probably not going to get touched until the snow flies.


I thought I was going to participate in the Tour de Fleece this year. ... Yeah, that didn't happen either.  No spinning to speak of. None.  My poor wheel has been gathering dust.  I've been listening to old podcasts, and the one gal is talking about spinning, and I have images of spinning pretty fiber again. I want to get the dyepots out again and dye up a braid or two.

There has been no various and sundry crafting done either. I know.  I'm pathetic.

The summer has been cooler and wetter.  My garden hasn't flourished like I hoped it would.  We are getting stuff, but it's not coming at that breakneck speed I hoped it would. 

My poor garden.


Reading has been scant the last several months, too.  I had been listening to audiobooks from the Void Trilogy. I will get back to the series soon.  I put it on hold when school ended and I started commuting with my son.

A couple books I did read were Foxlowe, and Bear Town.


I'm subscribed to a few book lists, and both of these novels appeared on one of them.  If memory serves correctly, I picked up Foxlowe because it was a story set with a "Gothic" background.

Um, if I had known just what the story was about, I don't think I would have picked it up.  However, I reached a point of no return and felt pretty invested in it.  It is definitely not something I would normally pick up. It is a coming of age story about a girl in a cult.  The woman who is the head of it is a sadistic woman who takes out her frustrations out on the kids who live in the commune. There is no happy ending. Just broken kids who grew up and are learning to deal and cope with what happened during their childhood.


Bear Town is the story about a small hockey town on the edge of the woods. Their chance to nationals is just within their grasp. A predictable incident occurs and it rocks the entire town and residents take sides.  What I really liked about this book was the different points of view, and how every one in the town is grappling with the news, and choices being made.  I liked how the novel was ended.  It gives the reader a reminder that actions done when you are young are always there when you are older. It's up to you to decide how to own up to them, and carry them during life's journey.

If we were having coffee ... I know you'd ask me, well, just what were you doing this summer that kept you so busy?

Well, in addition to keeping up with some homestead stuff, which there always seems to be something, (thank you very much Mr./Mrs. gophers) we did a whole lot of fishing and kayaking.

 

We have so many lakes near us, but many have sandy boat launches. We went fishing where ever and just carried the kayaks. Hubby now prefers fishing in a kayak to a fishing boat. You can go where boats can't go, and be super stealthy and just drop your line off the side. My son and I still like the fishing boat, but for me it's more for having our picnics on the water, together. You can't do that with kayaks, necessarily, unless you latch together. Which isn't that much fun. 




So much fish for my boys! Plus, we all get out of the house!

And now here we are, almost at the official start of Fall. I don't know if I can think of the proper adjective to describe how I feel about the quick passage of time that has been this year. I know things aren't going to settle down for a while, still. I know the snow is going to fly before I'm ready for it, and the family will be snuggled up in the homestead, around the wood stove.

Oh, speaking of the woodstove, to show how cool this summer has been, I've had fires in July.  I don't recall there ever being a July so chilly that the heat needed to be turned on.

Okay, well, I suppose I've blathered at you long enough. I'll admit, I had been working on this post off and on for so long, that I was cold feet, so to speak. The longer I sat on it, the harder it was for me to work on it. I really hate when I do that to myself, despite my "blogging without obligation" rule.

I promise to not go six months until the next blog post.

Until next time, thanks for stopping by!


Monday, March 13, 2017

Weekend shenanigans, or mostly lack thereof

We had plans for this past weekend.  However, since the weather was cold, and we were all still in recovery mode, things changed.

Which meant time for crafting. Woo hoo! Actually, I did most of my crafting on Sunday.

I started a new pair of vanilla socks on Saturday, because I'm incapable of just sitting and watching tv with nothing in my hands.

Vanilla socks
Started: March 11, 2017
 Needles: US 1.5 - 2.5 mm / 2 - 24 inch circs
Yarn: Knitpicks Felici sock yarn
Color: Time Traveler / Lot #588893


I am doing something a bit different with this pair of socks.  Usually I only do 12 rows of 1 x 1 ribbing.  This pair, I did 1.5 inches of 2 x 2 ribbing.  A gal in one of my Facebook knit groups made a pair of socks out of some KP Felici yarn in a colorway I made a pair of socks out of, and I loved how her ribbing looked.  She does two inches of 2 x 2 ribbing.  I decided I couldn't handle two inches, so I stopped at 1.5 inches.

On Sunday I paid some attention to my Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery "Happily Ever After" SAL cross stitch.

I've made significant progress. I'm so excited - you have no idea!


I completed all the inside border (finally!) and I stitched the title in. Nearly two months after the stitchalong started, I'm finally past the border.

I was going to set this aside, but I was feeling that crafty high when things are progressing better than expected, so I kept going and started working on the January block. 


Not much progress - yet!  January's block is based on "The Owl and the Pussycat."  I took the time last night to read the poem, and read about the author. I think the poem itself is a hoot and a half. The author had an interesting life, and reading about it was a fresh reminder about how different things are now versus then. He made a major impression on someone, and that person was his benefactor for many years while the author honed his craft, and did a bit of traveling. Benefactors don't really happen like that anymore. Sad, because I want to impress someone with my knitting, and have them pay me to knit them stuff, and keep me in the lifestyle to which I'm accustomed.  Seriously, how cool would that be. With my luck, I'd probably get knitter's block and not be able to knit a stitch. 

 

It's going to be so cute when it's done. 

This week I'm starting a KAL/CAL in a Facebook knit group I'm in. I decided to make a Game Day scarf 

Game Day Scarf
Will start: March 15, 2017
 Needles: US 8 - 5 mm
Yarn: Red Heart and Mainstays (worsted weights)
Color: Red Heart (Red and White), Mainstays (Navy)

 

All I have to do is print out the pattern.  I'm excited to start this pattern because it will be my first time making an asymetrical anything.

 Other things that happened this weekend ... not much. Like I said earlier, we are all still recovering from the plague which is making the rounds.

We did make a trip to a town nearby that has a Tractor Supply Store.  We were calling to see when the meatbirds will be in the store, and the dude answering the phone said baby chicks were already in the store, but that they were shortstaffed so no one could go "back there" and verify the breed of meatbird.  We decided to go, and were pretty excited to get a head start on this, and be able to butcher before it gets too warm outside.

As soon as you walk into the store you can hear the chicks cheeping.  There is something about those chirps that is instantly soothing to me. I don't know why. Course I wouldn't be thinking that at 3 a.m. and they are all sciping up a storm.

The bad news: No meat birds. I think this is the store's first time with "chicks days" since it opened, and they probably aren't familiar with the different breeds. Bummer.


Friday, March 10, 2017

If we were having coffee ... (Where did February go?)

This type of blog post is for when I have a lot of little things I want to share, or when I feel the need to catch up. 



 So, grab your coffee/beverage of your choice. Water this time around, because I'm in recovery mode, and need all the H2O I can get. One of these days I'll actually take a photo of myself holding a cup of coffee for these posts. ... One day. ... But today is not that day.  


If we were having coffee ... I'd ask "Where did February go?" But it's been so much more than time flying past quickly. I think my writing muse isn't doing her job. Only ... that is not the whole thing either. I've been sitting in front of the computer so much for work that I don't want to be on when I get home.  Boy, same old, same old.

If I'm honest, my lack of writing has a lot to do with the weather that was very unFebruary-like. (Is that even a word?)

This last month my son decided he wanted to give skiing a try.  There was an "experience day" at his school and one of the options was skiing.

My husband decided to teach him how to ski, and take him out on the hills at least once before the field trip.  We found a small hill near home that worked for a bunny hill.  My son got the hang of it right off the bat.  The next day we went to another hill close to home that would work as a practice run, and was steeper than the bunny hill.


I'm so proud of him! He thoroughly enjoyed his school trip to the ski hill.  He got such a keen interest in skiing that my husband found him a set of really nice used skis, boots, and whatnot. This is something both my husband and son can do together. Woo hoo!

Yeah ... So they both know how to ski, they both directed their sights on me, and started cajoling *me* to start skiing.

Back when I was about my son's age, my elementary school had field trips up to the ski hill and it was super fun and great for everyone, except those who didn't know how to ski. I was one of the few who didn't know how to ski.  The teachers and chaperones let the kids loose on the hill and we were basically on our own.  The first year I didn't even know where the bunny hill was, much less where any instructors might be.  I ended up going down a hill I had absolutely no business going down, and falling down at least once. It was a disaster.

The second year we were actually directed to the bunny hill, but there was no one to show us how to do anything.  So, yeah ... I have no fond memories of skiing, and not much desire to learn.

My dear, sweet husband, upon learning just how crappy my first skiing experience was, decided he needed to do something about this.

I was talked into trying skiing again. I used my husbands old boots and skis, and we went to the little hill by our house.

It was a trip, let me tell you. I have crappy balance, I don't like feeling out of control, and I hate "speed" without a sense of security, if that makes any sense.

I finally got going a couple times, and I kept veering off to the side of the "run," and I'd panic and try to readjust.  A couple times I just gave up and went right into the snowbank.  After a while it was sort of comical, as if I was purposefully aiming myself for the one snowbank.  I'd crash, start laughing and need help getting up.

The one time I fell backwards because things "didn't feel right." (Yes, I put that in quotes) and when I got up, tried to back myself out, I started moving forward again.  I was so caught off guard that I feel backwards again. After this my husband started calling me a fainting goat. Which is actually really funny when I think about it.

Eventually I started feeling more comfortable, but exhausted.

The next weekend *someone* decided we should try it again.  Only this time, there was no snow. It was all ice.  Really hard to feel comfortable and safe while skiing on glare ice. 

Frustrations abounded. It was beautiful day, all week actually, so, no surprise the snow had melted.

Oh, did I mention that by this time I had my own set of skis and boots?  Yup. It was my Valentine's Day gift.

So then it was decided we should hit a different ski hill in the area.  One that none of us had been too. My son had already been chomping at the bit to go skiing again, and it was another gorgeous day. So, why not?

We packed up a lunch and I spent the day on the bunny hill. The boys tried to talk me into going on the ski lift, to the top of the hill.  I refused.  In addition to all of my other quirks, I have a fear of heights. It's something I know I need to overcome in the near future.

My boys, however, have no fun quirks. They were up and down the hill all day.


My son LOVES just going.  My husband, thanks to years of skiing, has developed a certain panache with skiing.

I got really good on the bunny hill, and outgrew it pretty quickly.  I ended up walking up part of one of the hills, putting my skis on, and trying out something a little steeper.  My husband was kind enough to carry my skis for me, which was good because I was wore out by the time I got to the spot.



You can tell I was still feeling a bit unsure, and I had no idea what I should do with the poles, so I just held them.

If we were having coffee ... Other than the skiing, there hasn't been much going on, except for illness. Those darn cooties!  We've all spent time home sick the last couple weeks. Some more than others.  The illness is really sticking with my son.  In fact, I had to go pick him up from school Wednesday, and keep him home yesterday and today. He was home Monday and Tuesday, and two days sick just over a week ago.  There must be a few different things making the rounds at the school. He's currently in bed, sleeping. My poor little man.

If we were having coffee ... I'd say, with some regret, that my crafting has slowed down considerably the last month.

The quilt I started months ago, I was determined to finish it by the end of this month.  Specially since my son kept asking me when it was going to be done.  I kicked it into high gear, and completed it. Yay!

 

Completed on Friday, February 24, 2017, at 11 p.m. on the dot.   It was one of those sewing sessions where I stayed up a bit later than usual since I knew I didn't have to be at work the next day.

For being my first quilt that can be used and loved, I'm really pleased with it.  I put the binding on with my sewing machine.  I'm not real keen on machine binding, I've decided. Unless there is a different way I should be doing it, even with a walking foot, the material still moves at different paces. Or, maybe it's because the piece was so big?  Really hard to say, and I just don't have enough experience with quilting, to know what is what.

Oh, and I tried following a tutorial on sewing the binding pieces together, on the bias.  Yeah, that didn't work out quite so well for me either.  Again, I probably misunderstood something. So I had to make some design features.  But still, I'm so pleased with it, overall.

My son claimed the quilt as his own, as soon as it was completed.  He's currently snuggled under it, along with a few other blankets.

If we were having coffee ... I'd ask what you think my next quiltish project should be. I think I should work on a few small things and get some practice in for binding and hand quilting. Table runners maybe?

If we were having coffee ... I'd let you know that I did make a project bag with the valentine-themed fabric.  I made it right after posting my last blog entry.


It came together so nicely and I'm so pleased with how it turned out.  Then I looked on Instagram. Someone I recently started following posted a bunch of bags in this shape.  Here I thought I was being unique in my bag shaping.  Oh well. I did add one of those circle things that has the hinge and you can open it up.  Now I can snap my bag onto any other larger purse, or strap, and not worry about losing it.

If we were having coffee ... I'd let you know that it hasn't been all sewing.  I did some knitting.  Not much, however. I've completely fallen off the dishcloth bandwagon since I couldn't really make heads or tails out of one pattern in the KnitPicks dishcloth-along lineup.

I did make one granny square dishcloth. I used some leftover dishcloth yarn.

Started: March 5, 2017
Completed: March 5, 2017
Hook size: H - 5 m.m.
Yarn: Sugar and Cream
Colorway: Summer Prints - Leftover / Lot: 150127079 ;
Yarn: Hobby Lobby - Crafter's secret
Coloryway: 42/Lime / Lot: 141156


 

While I'm at it, I need to share a cute little pumpkin I made back in January, and forgot to share on the blog. 

KnitPicks Spice Pumpkin
Made: January 2017
Yarn: Leftover Cascade 220
Color: Orange
Yarn: Brown cotton yarn for the stem
Needle size: US 2


I would love to make more of these.  However, the combo of the number of stitches and needle size was a bit hard on my hands.

I finished another pair of Vanilla Socks. These socks caused me some problems.  When I had finished both socks, and was getting ready to make the second heel, the yarn broke on me.  I still have no idea how it happened, and this was a first. 


In a panic I wrote on some of my knitting groups, saying "Oh my gosh!  What do I do to save this?" One gal stepped up to the plate and talked me off the ledge.  I spent the next evening tinking back and picking up stitches.  I decided to rip the yarn back a row, rather than try to save the row.  Then I did a join and added yarn back in, so I'd have something to work with. 


I got it to a place where it was okay for me to get sick with the flu and not touch it for five days or so. 

And then, I carried on like nothing had happened. 

Voila!


I haven't worn them yet.  They are screaming to be put on my feet.

The Window Cat
Started: 2/4/17
Finished: 2/12/17
Needles: US #4 - 3.5 mm, DPNs and 16-inch circ
Yarn: Caron's Simply Soft leftover yarn
Color: Grey

 


 I used buttons for the eyes, and red Red Heart yarn to hand stitch the mouth and nose.  I named him Gray Cat, and my son put him in the window that faces the driveway.  It's sort of nice to see a smiling face as you pull up to the house.  I was asked to make another one in blue. I haven't decided yet.

Fast and Cozy cloche
Started: 2/17/17
Finished: 3/5/17
Hook: N - 9 m.m.
Yarn: Lion Brand Wool ease
Color: Fisherman / Lot# 74472


Used "Love for Roses" pattern for flower embellishment. Red Heart yarn in red and dark green colors.


The only variation I made from the pattern was to make one more round after rounds 6-9. I probably wouldn't do that again.  I would LOVE to make more of these, in different colors.  It's so warm, and doesn't slid off my head. 

I had set aside my "Happily ever after ..." cross stitch project for a while.  Despite being as careful as I could be, I still had some booboos. So I set it aside until I could rip out and redo. 


Here it is, March, and I'm *still* working on the border.  I was hoping to be further along than this.  

If we were having coffee ... I'd let you know that I haven't done much reading or audiobook listening worth mentioning.  My brain has been far too scattered. I've listened to bit and pieces of audiobooks my husband was listening too, in the car. 

I did read "Prairie Evers," based on my son telling me "You should read this mom." Since I'm always curious about the books my son reads in school, I heeded his advice, and checked it out on my Kindle. It was a quick and nice story. 

I have started the next book selection in the "Well-Read Mom" book club. This one is "The Minister's Black Veil" and "The Birthmark."  


Like when I read "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," I feel a yearning to read other books from a certain literary period in the U.S. 

If we were having coffee ... I'd say thank you, for reading this all the way through in one sitting.  Or even if you had to break it up into a few reading sessions.  I really did not mean to go so long between posts, or to have two coffee dates, back-to-back. The year 2017 has not gone as expected, for various reasons, for me, or for many people I know. I'm trying to just go with the flow. I do hope things are going well with you, dear friend. 

Oh! Before I forget, I have something else to share. 


Eggs in the incubators! March 4 we started filling the bators. We are all excited for baby chicks. 

Okay, that's it!  Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, February 3, 2017

If we were having coffee ... (First coffee date of the year)

This type of blog post is for when I have a lot of little things I want to share, or when I feel the need to catch up. 

 

 So, grab your coffee/beverage of your choice. I have a homemade hot chocolate. Yum! One of these days I'll actually take a photo of myself holding a cup of coffee for these posts. ... One day. ... But today is not that day.  

If we were having coffee ...  I'd say:  Oh my goodness, ya'all! I blinked and January disappeared. At the beginning of the month, I had *grand plans* and I shouldn't have because the universe caught wind of it, laughed mightily and said "Not today, lil missy. You got another think coming."

A lot has happened this month.  Not all necessarily for me.  If it all had, I think I would have crawled into bed and never come out.

The biggest thing came a few Fridays ago.  There was some news and *bam* my work life is changed significantly, and someone I've worked closely with for the last eight years is not there. It took me at least a week to wrap my head around the announcement and my work changes. I do believe I've finally settled into the new routine. Thankfully, I've been here before, and know what must be done to keep the trains on time and in the right directions.

The other *big* news is that our sweet Grandma P passed away Saturday, Jan. 21.


We got Grandma P the first year we had chickens. She was part of a group of older girls we purchased after a fox attacked and killed most of our hens from our very first group.

Okay, now I re-read that blog entry and am feeling all the feels.  I still feel awful about that rotten fox coming onto my turf.


Grandma P, back in March 2016, telling us a short story.

My DH and I figured she was at least three years old when we took her home.  I wasn't sure what to think of her, when we first got her.  Her booty was bare because she lived with a feather eater and she had a couple tail feathers sticking up.  I used to joke about her wearing feather chaps.

She didn't care that she could feel a breeze.  She walked the yard with an air of dignity most can't match.  She would sleep in one of the nesting boxes when everyone was in the smaller coop. This was before we built the Chicken Shack of Love,  We figured it was partly because she couldn't get all the way up to the roost. Or, she wanted to ensure her nether regions were well-protected.  Or, she just liked keeping her body heat close to her.

When everyone was moved to the bigger coop, she would go to bed early, to ensure she got a coveted spot on the top roost.

She stopped laying eggs a few years ago. Every once in a while she felt the urge to go sit in a nesting box, and she would sit there for a few hours and leave doing an egg song.  The nesting box was empty, unless a hen went in there earlier and laid an egg. Grandma P didn't care if it was her egg or not. She'd sing just the same.  Old instincts die hard, I guess.

R.I.P. Grandma P, you are missed.

All the other chickens and roos have been doing fine. No signs of spring fever yet.  They are acting a bit prima-donna-ish right now.  We decided to do fermented feed.  The flock likes it, a lot.  However, in the morning, they don't like to get out of bed to eat, so the feed freezes in the bowl frequently, and the birds get pouty when this happens.

Soon we will start thinking about hatching baby chicks out.

If we were having coffee ... I'd also say that with all this going on, plus weird weather patterns, I got a lot of crafting done.  At least it feels like it to me.

Back, during Christmas holiday, I decided it was time to make myself a Deadfish Hat.

 

This hat was knit up in just a few days.  I used no modifications, despite being cautioned to ignore the original pattern.  I was able to wrap my mind around the instructions and I think it turned out pretty good.


I used Caron's Simply Soft yarn that was leftover from a summer project.  I would definitely make this pattern again, but with a different yarn.  As much as I love the Caron's Simply Soft yarn, I fear it might be too soft for this pattern.

My first finished project of the year was a Brambles beret. I am really happy with how it turned out.

Brambles Beret
Yarn: Cascade 220
Color # 8885; Lot #2J9995
Needles: US 4 and US 6
Started: Jan. 1, 2017
Finished: Jan. 7, 2017
No modifications.

 

I broke down and bought a foam mannequin head. It's so awkward trying to take a picture of your own head, while trying to show off head knitwear. 

 

I think she looks pretty cunning. And a bit blown out.  The sun must have been shining on her face.


One of my next projects was a dishcloth.  I signed up to receive Knit Picks blog posts via email since they started posting their 52 weeks of dishcloth KAL for 2017.

I'm working them in the order they are posted.  Except for the Aquarious one.  I decided I had no interest in that one.

The first one I did was the Snowflake dishcloth. I won't be making this one again.

Snowflake dishcloth
Yarn: Sugar and Cream
Color "Summer Prints"
Needles: US #5, 16-inch and DPNs
Started: Jan. 14, 2017
Finished: Jan. 21, 2017
No modifications.


Why won't I be making this one again?  Look at all those ends!


I had to weave in 34 ends.  I think that's crazy to have that many ends on a dishcloth.


So, uh, yeah ... never again.

The next dishcloth I make was the Knotted Cables dishcloth

Yarn: Hobby Lobby cotton yarn
Color 42/Lime
Needles: US #7
Started: Jan. 22, 2017
Finished: Jan. 24
No modifications.



I like how this one turned out. This is almost my first time working a more complicated cable.



Early in the month, when I needed something to occupy my hands while I was a passenger, I made a "Grandma's Favorite Dishcloth"

Yarn: Sugar and Cream
Color "Pastel Delight
Needles: US #5
Started: Jan. 14, 2017
Finished: Jan. 14, 2017
No modifications.

 

I kind of messed it up at the start, but the rest went all right.

Currently, all that is on the needles is a vanilla sock I'm making with Knit Picks Felicci yarn.


Vanilla socks
Yarn: Knit Picks Felici "Sunset"
Color: Lot #66362
Needles: US #1, 2.25 mm, 16-inch circs
Started: Jan. 19, 2017

 

I'm a few inches past the afterthought heel.  I think I'd like to try something different with the heel.  I need to do some research. I love these colors, though. 

 If we were having coffee ... I'd tell you about my cross stitching endeavors. Yes, I have been steadily working on cross stitch.  First, I got some kits from Hobby Lobby.  I don't recommend doing so. I was *not* happy with them.  I showed one of my projects in a previous post. I'm going to show it again.

A Mr. Turkey, for Thanksgiving. This was my first dive back into cross stitching. The piece of fabric was so small that it hurt my hands trying to hold onto it.  The aida fabric was also really stiff, which made it hard to push the needle through. 


He is a cute little bugger though. I was so glad to get it done. 

The next project was another kit from Hobby Lobby. This time I did a witch's hat, for Halloween.

 

This project went smoother because I had a 3-inch hoop, and there wasn't a whole lot of color changes, and whatnot.  This one took me a couple evenings, maybe.

The third cross stitch project was a cardinal. I love how this one turned out.


I am a bit miffed at the instructions.  Instructions stated to start the project X amount from the bottom of the cloth.  I did that, and it doesn't look like the kit photo.


The project shown in the kit photo is much higher than what it should be, according to instructions.  So I'm not sure what I'm going to do with this one.  Frame it, most likely.

All those little kits gave me practice for the mother of all cross stitch projects.  The "Happily Ever After ..." Stitch-along from The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery

 

I've been progressing on this project ... slowly.  I am enjoying it tremendously. The cloth is a dream to work with.  I don't feel like I'm fighting it at all. 

The February clue was released a couple days ago.  So far I'm still working with the pattern release from January. That part included the border, title, and the pattern for January. So far, I finished the title border, and started working on the border for January.  Like I said, slow and steady.

The sun decided to hide behind a cloud when I took this photo.  The photo doesn't do the project justice


 If we were having coffee ... I'd let you know that I dug out a needle punch kit out of stash.  I bought this four years ago.  Why?  Cause I thought it would be something fun.  It is. Sort of.  I go through the floss really quick, and need to refill quicker than I thought I would. Which wouldn't be so bad, except I don't have the hang of threading the needle puncher really quick.  Any quesses as to why I chose this one?


This project will take me a while to complete. 

 If we were having coffee ... I'd let you know some spinning has been done.  This is corriedale fiber.  I think it's superwash, but I wouldn't bet on it.  It's the fiber I got back when I first received my spinning wheel.  This month marks the eight year anniversary since I got my beloved Kromski Minstrel. My wheel was given to me for Valentine's Day.


I'm definitely out of practice.  The muscle memory is slowly returning.  Last summer I purchased a craftsy spinning class.  I think it was a Jacey Boggs one. I haven't gone through the lessons yet. The plan had been to work through them this winter.  However, winter is going at breakneck speed. 

A downside to spinning again is wanting to dye fiber.  Oh, I want to play around with the dyepots so badly, so I can spin up pretty, pretty colorways. I'm being good though.  I have enough on my plate as it is.

If we were having coffee ... I'd tell you I did a little bit of sewing, and I got my boxy bags!

I have wanted to make boxy bags since I first saw one online.

 

I tried looking up tutorials online, but couldn't find one that really worked for me.  So it's been a bit of trial and error. 

 

But finally -- success!

I immediately tried make a larger one.  It didn't turn out quite like I thought it would.  It's all right, it fits the one project perfectly, I think.


Isn't the fabric adorable?


I do have a project in there, ready to go.  Sort of.


This yarn was from a Valentine's Day yarn club, about four years ago.  As soon as I saw it, I knew which pattern would go with it. The "True Love" sock pattern by Chrissy Gardiner.


Look at that pretty cabling.


This will definitely be a work-only-at-home-project.

I have more fabric on hand to make a project bag. I decided I needed a Valentine's Day themed project bag.  Cause, why not?


I picked this fabric up at Hobby Lobby.  This time, I'm going to try making a wedge (?) bag.  Zippered on top, boxed corners on the bottom.  That should work, right?  I'm totally winging it this time around.

 

 If we were having coffee ...  I'd also tell you back in September, or maybe October, I started a quilt top. I *thought* I'd blast right through it.  Oh, then the universe laughed at me and kept me humble.  I got the quilt sandwich done during December. I'm currently working on the quilting bit of it.


I don't remember the exact quilt dimensions. I think it might be five feet by five feet, or so.  It's big enough that my son and I can snuggle together under it. My son has decided he wants this quilt, rather than wait for me make another one just for him. Fine by me!

As with most things, I'm teaching myself how to quilt. One day I decided to watch a couple youtube videos because I can't quite get the hang of the rocking motion when hand quilting. I also can't stand to hand quilt while using a hoop. 

Well, after watching those videos, I realized I've been doing it wrong. 

Gah!

This quilt is almost done.  No way would I rip all the quilting out and start over.  However, I will make a quilted table topper, and practice the hand rocking motion on it.

If we were having coffee ...  I'd say "Let's talk books!" Cause I haven't been reading a lot.  I did listen to a couple audiobooks and I enjoyed those.  The first one was "A Corner of White" What a sweet book.  At first I had no idea what was going on.  Then I realized there were two worlds. There are a few fun and silly things, but at the heart of it is a really nice story about friendship. As one reviewer said, I did NOT see the ending coming. I'm eager to listen to the second book.  The audiobook was a great production too.  The voice actors did a fantastic job.

The other audiobook I *sort of* listened to was "The Feed." I didn't hear the first few chapters of the book, but I was able to catch on fairly quickly. This book made me a bit sad, at the end.  It's a story about a boy, who thinks he's not very smart.  Then, he meets a girl who is so opposite of him that it scares him a bit, and causes him to question himself and what he knows in this world.  Or, if you want to quote wikipedia:

"The is a young adult dystopian novel of the cyberpunk subgenre written by M. T. Anderson. The novel focuses on issues such as corporate power, consumerism, information technology, data mining, and environmental decay, with a sometimes sardonic, sometimes somber tone. From the first-person perspective of a teenager, the novel presents a near-futuristic American culture completely dominated by advertising and corporate exploitation, corresponding to the enormous popularity of internetworking brain implants"

Why yes, I did lift that from the wikipedia entry.  But since I linked to it at the beginning of the paragraph, I think this is okay. The audiobook production on this novel was so fabulous, as well. The audiobook companies are getting better and better with their productions.  No longer is a voice actor just reading.  The stories are really engaging.  It makes me think of the old time radio programs.  Only better!

This novel is also part love story.  By the end, if your eyes aren't tearing up, then I don't know what to tell you. 

And then ... we come to my book from the Well-Read Mom's book club. "All The Light We Cannot See," was the October book selection, if I recall correctly.  I borrowed this book from one of my friends.


I will have to re-listen to the audios for this book, and reread the essay about it.  This book was beautifully written.  Oh my word!  The author did such a good job setting up the character backgrounds, where they were currently at, and made you wonder what the future held for them. I could see the towns in my mind's eye.  I felt how desolate Werner was in his school.  I felt the panic of Marie-Laurie when the bombs hit Saint-Malo.

Then, the author broke my heart.  The story didn't go the way I thought - no, hoped - it would go.

Despair!  I was reading the story, and something came so abruptly and unexpected that I think I went slack jaw for a moment, trying to process what I just read.

No, my heart was broken, with 30 pages to go. I appreciate that everything wasn't wrapped up with a neat little bow.  Everyone and everything was connected together and I felt a little bit of closure. 

When I was done I thought "This, THIS is why I hate reading books written in this era."  I feel so ... I can't even adequately put in to words how I feel when I think about this time in human history.

The author created a beautiful story, but I hate the era. I am thankful I didn't have to live through it.  I don't know if I could have survived.

If we were having coffee ... I'd say thank you, for reading this all the way through in one sitting.  Or even if you had to break it up into a few reading sessions.  I had been sitting on some of this stuff for so long, and I wanted to write about it all.  I didn't make any real goals or resolutions for 2017. I had thought I'd write more frequently, in bite-sized entries, and keep a more accurate record of my projects on the blog. I guess I've got quite the start now.

Thanks for having coffee with me! I hope your drink didn't get too cold.