Friday, August 29, 2008

For the love of knitting...

I have a love/hate relationship with the fall. I love the cooler weather after a sticky, hot August but I know that the end to my summer freedom is just around the corner. I love to have to bring a cardigan with me wherever I go and, most importantly, I love that the knitting bug comes back. Each summer, I wonder if my disinterest in wool means my love affair with knitting is finally over, but when fall rolls around again, I am immediately drawn to my stash. On the other hand, with school starting up again, I've let the garden go and my cats look at me like I'm killing them a little each time I leave the house in the morning. The long list of home projects I'd planned to accomplish this summer snickers at me each time I walk past, knowing that all of the repainting/building/and organizing I didn't get to will have to wait for 10 more months.

But, there is the knitting.

The school year starts with faculty meetings. There are ups and downs to these meetings, and with the feisty bunch of colleagues I work with, there are usually some difficult and frustrating moments.

But, there is the knitting.

Megan always asks in late August: so, what are you bringing to knit? And I'm thankful for that reminder, because I'm not ever in the middle of a project in late August (Megan is one of those knitters who keeps working right through the summer, how does she do it?), so I need to plan ahead to be prepared for the first faculty meetings. I can't have a complicated pattern or any UFOs since they would bring frustration (more of which I don't need while sitting in a meeting) and I do have to be able to pay attention and be involved in discussions.

This spring, I purchased a skein of angora wool at the Kutztown festival. This little ball of wool (only 58 yards!) now has had me pondering the idea of getting an angora rabbit ever since (I'll be at the Endless Mountains Fiber Festival in a few weekends to scout out some information) because it is so darn perfect. It's a neutral brown (not dyed) and as soft as anything. Therefore, I knew that the project I used for this wool needed to be simple to allow the yarn to be the star, and small since I only have a bit of it. Immediately upon purchasing this skein, I knew that it would have to find a home wrapped around my neck, so when Megan's inquiry came, I started searching for a neckwarmer pattern.

And here I am in late August, knitting up a neckwarmer. I found this pattern, but have really improvised to the point that it's completely different (mostly because it calls for way more yardage than I have). I'll keep the idea of a bunch of interesting buttons, though. I actually knit it on the first faculty day, then frogged it and reknit it again on the second (I've had to keep making it thinner and thinner so that I'll have enough yarn to get it to wrap around my neck!), but it was the perfect project. It was good to not have a pattern so that a little bit of my imagination could run wild; and anyway, when you work with really fantastic wool who cares if you need to frog it? As I ripped it out, I got some silent nods of apology and regret from others in the meeting, "oh, too bad....and you'd been working so hard on it" they seemed to be saying. Little did they all know that I was really thinking: I get to knit this wool up again!

So, on one of my last days off before the kids come, I'm poking around in my button stash (thank goodness for giant button stashes), and thanking my lucky stars that yet another knitting project has helped me to maintain my sanity as another crazy school year begins. And to chronicle my knitting endeavors this year, I've finally joined Ravelry (get on the stick, Megan) and am having fun poking around on a new site.

Happy almost-fall, fellow knitters!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

An Old-Fashioned Chicken Coop Raising or When Fences Come Down

We had our first chicken fright last night. In the early evening, we ran out to the coop in response to the loudest racket we've ever heard the girls make. Andrew made it outside first and came nearly face to face with a raccoon (which, I've just learned, can be spelled with one 'c' or two) on the lower deck where the girls hang out (but not where their coop is). The raccoon bolted under our deck and we found Amelia and Flora squawking up a storm by their coop. Kateski (the polish with the feathers in her face who can't see hardly anything and is often left behind by Ameila and Flora because she can't tell when they've see where I'm going) was nowhere to be found. We looked all over the chicken run and couldn't find her anywhere. We grabbed a flashlight and looked under the deck, half expecting to see her being devoured by the raccoon. We were in searching-for-feathers-and-blood stage when Andrew though to look over the tall fence to the neighbor's yard, to find Kateski looking safely clueless. And so we called on our faithful coop members to help us construct the larger pen around the coop that we'd been wanting to build. We've had a very dry summer here and digging post holes in the dirt has been quite like what I imagine digging post holes into concrete might be like; and since digging post holes even into plain old dirt isn't the most spectacular task in the world, we were waiting for some long, heavy rains to do half of the work for us. But the rains never came and raccoon did...and so we spent the entire day today digging post holes into concrete.
Well, not really into concrete, but certainly around it. We started by removing a part of a fence that runs between the upper portion of our yard and our neighbor's yard. One of the fence posts was stabilized in concrete. It was a joy to remove, and even more fun to hurl insults at once we really did have it out.
I generally have an uneasiness about anything we do around the house for fear of ticking off the neighbors. This probably stems from the fact that I'm ticked off by them very often (as they must be about me), but am too afraid of having an ongoing subtle war with my neighbors, and so I rarely talk to them about what my concerns are. My two current pet peeves are smoking outside the house which funnels right into our house and feeding the feral cats in the neighborhood who are now taking advantage of my frequently swept front porch by pooing on it. But I figure I'm the weirdo with the chickens in the back yard and I don't want to ruffle any...well, you I've never been brave enough to raise my concerns.

So as the fence between our yard comes down today (I say "fence" but really it was just a sadly aged suggestion of a fence which, to wit, was pulled apart by our bare hands) and I see my neighbor approaching (the only neighbor on the street who I haven't officially told about the chickens for fear that she'd freak out) comes over, plops herself down on the little wall that is now accessible due to the missing fence and proceeds to tell me that she's worried about the cat food on her porch because it may be attracting the raccoon and she hopes our chickens are OK. She points out a few more places on her evergreen that I could cut...the evergreen that I'd been tentatively trimming back so that we could build our coop, because I'd been so concerned she'd be mad about us cutting anything. I'd also been worried that she would flip when I started trying to trap the feral cat colony so that we can get them fixed and vaccinated, but she was thrilled and offered her porch for a good cat trap location. And all of this misunderstanding (which was really just careful avoidance) disappeared because a rickety fence came down.

And because our friends and family deserve to see what we couldn't have accomplished by ourselves, here's the coop-raising progression:

The coop gets a fenced bottom to keep out the raccoon.

Post hole digging is fun!
Mom feeds the troops.
The first fencepost gets leveled.

The girls help by making sure all of the worms around the felled fence are taken care of.

And they make sure to stay hydrated.

Working around a temporary door to nowhere.

Chicken wire saves the day!

Almost there.

Finished coop (still missing netting on top and beams across the top, but it'll do for now!)
The girls are happy in their new digs (with evergreen roost).Whew!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Chicken Scratches

I found a fantastic set of cookie cutters at a yard sale yesterday. They cost a dollar and included the all-important chicken, so they needed to come home with me. Here are the girls sizing up the new chick in town.

Flora always needs to be the first to know what's up and Kateski has no idea what's going on because she can't see anything anymore, poor thing.Amelia is all about recycling.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Home At Last.

Here I am! In my home!! And I'm NOT planning on leaving any time soon. I guess I'll have to make my way out the door once school starts in a few short weeks, but I can tell you that I'm done with airplanes and long car rides and anything having to do with packing clothes or a toiletry bag. While I don't have much that's crafty to show for it, we had a great time in Maine. The weather was pretty grim, but it kept people off the beach and competing for my sea glass, so I wasn't complaining. While walking along the beach searching for said sea glass, I pondered the many reasons I love sea glass searching. These include, but are not limited to:

♥ ♥ ♥

It's free.

When you pick something up on the beach, no one looks at you funny (try that on the street. I dare you).

You are on the beach.

It requires some patience.

Sea glass is trash turned into a treasure.

While you can find lots of glass on the beach, it's not all worthy of being called sea glass - - and if you get too greedy, you'll end up with a lot of unfinished pieces (and in my opinion, you'll anger the sea glass gods, so you'd better just put that rough-edged piece of glass back where you found it, buster.)

It's a barefoot activity.

That elusive dark blue piece is out there somewhere.

Sea glass is one of the only reasons I can think to let my guard down about recycling...maybe if we just threw all of that glass into the ocean...

My dear AB will spend a good, long while finding sea glass with me.

♥ ♥ ♥

I know I promised that I'd get some photos up of my craftiness in China, but I still have to get those photos taken. In the meantime, I'm a little worked up over this pattern here for knitted postcards and may need to make a few hundred of them.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Early Morning Posting

Like, really early. I'm having a beast of a time recovering from my jet lag, which has been enhanced by the fact that:
a. I'm on summer vacation, so there's no real schedule to actually get back to, and

b. I had a reaction to the malaria meds I was on and have had to take benadryl since I got back which knocks me entirely on my arse.

I do have to say that today is the latest I've woken up since I've been home and I feel like a bit of a slob for having slept in 'till 2:30 am.

Anyway, I'm doing a hit and run post because we are heading to Maine soon. That's right, my favorite vacation of the year is upon us. I shall be eating my body weight in lobster and searching for sea glass for hours on end. I may be doing this all at 4 am of course, but whatever.

So to say hello/goodbye, I thought I'd share a few pictures from China. We had a wonderful time and made it into Tibet, which was important since it's the main reason that I made the trip. I have lots of opinions about the government, the people, and the Olympics, but this is a crafty blog not a political one so I'll just leave it at this: it's complicated. Now here are some photos:
Olympics countdown, Tiananmen Square, Beijing.

Smoke signals used to be the best way to send messages from the Great Wall. Today, texting works just fine. Badaling Wild Great Wall.

Gah! Look at those colors! Cloisonne Factory, Beijing.

Game time. Huxian Farmer's Village (in the old village).

Fiber fix at the silk carpet factory, Beijing.
Laser light show, Hong Kong.
I have about 996 more photos where these came from, so every once in a while, I'll toss some up. And, once the sun comes up, I'll take some photos of my personal crafty endeavor in China. I didn't bring knitting because I was taking a lot of internal Chinese flights and I heard that they could be strict (indeed, every day they chose to confiscate something different - - one day it was the toothpaste in our check-in baggage) and decided that I'd draw my journal rather than write it. Sort of inspired by this book, which I've only just begun to read and am already so impressed with, I decided to bring some pens and watercolors. I'll explain more and show the pictures in a future post!

Oh, and lastly, a thank you to my dear AB who took over the blog while I was away. Despite the fact that I had to turn sideways to view the photos and that there were a few days when our toilet was on the front page of the blog, seeing updates of my home when I was halfway around the world for three weeks made me very, very happy. ♥

made. by k.d.