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. 


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.

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