Thursday, December 21, 2006

'Twas Time to Lower the Furnace

'Twas time to lower the furnace when all thru the house
Not a tradesman was stirring, not even the help (That louse!)

The living room floor was pried open (site of a future fireplace),
Boards set aside, making a mess of the place.

The makeshift scaffold and boom were set with great care,
with the hopes of getting the furnace to the basement ~ down there.

All things were set, when what to my wondering eyes,
Dirk grabbed a palette jack of biblical size.

He lifted and hauled the great hulking beast.
Surely, once this was done, we would all have a feast!

For Frank the Mason kindly brought his great winch;
So lowering the furnace should be a cinch.

To a hastily constructed platform the furnace of 800 pound
Was rolled over (Did I mention there still wasn't a sound?)

All the straps and the winch held the furnace in check.
Should we remove the platform? Sure! What the heck?

With the beast hoisted, Frank gave the boards a great heave,
When the trimmed Christmas tree caught on his sleeve.

He danced and he spun; the tree teetered ready to take the plunge
When Frank made the heroic Christmas-saving lunge.

As the furnace dangled the tree was put back in its place;
Frank gave the thumbs up, "Lower it down, Ace!"

Dirk ratcheted and the cables went taut with a twang.
We all held our breath. Would it crash or hang?

Inch by inch, foot by foot, the frunace went down.
When it reached the basement floor, not a face held a frown.

All breathed a deep sigh while brows were wiped;
The relief is still palpable even as I type.

Now if you are quiet, from the basement you'll hear
The cast iron rumblings of great heated cheer.

You could hear it exclaim, even tho out of sight,
"Merry Christmas to All and to All many a warm night!"

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Yoda of Brokeback Nebula and the Carrot-colored Socks

Bennie's socks are finished. This ends my obligatory sock knitting until next year. These were knitted up to NOT match ~ Bennie wanted Dobby socks. True Dobby socks without snitches or flying broomsticks. The kind of socks Dobby might actually knit up if he had access to screaming orange yarn and a circular needle.

But wait . . . There's more!

It looks like I have a back yard again. A muddy, rocky back yard, but a back yard nonetheless. No more trenches. Not even trench coats. I believe I'm rather delerious.

The sun sets on yet another idyllic day.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Goodies Galore!

It arrived at last! Stash wool from Kentucky! (Well, it lived in New York awhile first, then relocated.) My dear friend, Ruth, passed on her stash to me ~ 100% Wooland wool. The colors are beauteous (maximus) and I can't wait to get a large project started with it all. She also sent along these lovely earrings . . . Clearly, I couldn't wait to swatch some of the stash (#11 Brittany's, walnut, I think).

And this blog booty came earlier in the week from a contest I won here: My title was chosen for an unwritten blog entry. I won't give away the title here; but I'll keep an eye out for it.

Other goodies in progress:
This is the small hearth in the sun room . . .

This is the oven door . . .

The inside of the oven . . .

And the kitchen hearth proper . . .

And one more thing: My Beamish Boy at the school's Winter Concert. It's tough trying to be cool when your nerdy parents keep snapping pics on the fly. Poor kid, he doesn't know about that Precious Moments angst yet.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Free Plants

Stopping in at my local feed store (got chickens to feed, y'know and they let you know about it), I noticed a sign stating that ALL plants were free and take as much as desired. Okay. Nothing actually 'looked' good, but as my grandmother used to say: There's still a bit of green! I grabbed flats of hardy creepers ~ some cinquefoil, bell flower, stonecrop and wooly thyme. There was also a couple of geraniums and an aster. I passed a few of the FREE plants on to my mother on the way home to hungry chickens. It's unnerving to think one could plant anything in November. Technically, gardens are supposed to be put to bed by now, but I got the okay to plant from my mother with simple logic: The ground isn't frozen yet. This works for one, such as I, who has been gardening-impaired for too long. I've been waiting years to plant anything without worrying where an excavator will be digging. I've found that large rocks and heavily treed areas seem to be safe from bulldozers, backhoes and trenchdiggers. So I'm planting in the woods which seems rather redundant. It satisifies my Inner Gardner. (I must sound positively loopy when referring to these other personalities.) And the beauty of FREE plants is that if they don't appear to be producing any green, it's no big loss. These are fairly hardy though; we've got a fighting chance.

In the meantime, Ian's sock is hanging out on the rock. I'm a little nervous about the amount of red I've got left. We may end up with Dobby socks . . . I should have gone to teal sooner. 20/20 hindsight is just too glaringly obvious with knitting faux pas.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Knitting Chair

Some projects completed and in the making . . . Tom's socks, the heel-turn and instep gusseting of Ian's red sock, the Construction throw with ends woven in and a raglan beanie knitted up from a quick knit-in-the-round instructional for a friend. Sadly, the beanie won't fit anyone under this roof, so I need to find it a home. Tragic, really.

Here is the throw in repose on my messy couch.

Here is the weave up close. Careful, don't get lost in the Twill-lite Zone.

This is what I've gotten done with the Rambouillet/mohair mix. The all-white wool spindle is before I added the mohair. I intend to ply all this on the Millie at a later date.

Oh yeah. And finished kitchen cabinets with knobs and handles in the appropriate places.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

No Time to Talk

These are kitchen cabinets. Enough said. Need to get handles . . . NOW!

Flower continues the weighty responsibility by holding down the finished construction throw until I can weave in the ends. A cat's work is never done.

Friday, November 17, 2006

At the End of My Warp

Flower is helping me with the hem stitching on this throw by weighing down the work-free zone. As you can see, having been out of the weaving loop for so long (6 years, at least), I've got Deborah Chandler's Learning to Weave opened to the appropriate lesson page to get me through the finishing of this project. Rather annoying to realize far too late that I should have hem stitched the beginning of the throw whilst still under tension on the beam, but we'll manage. At least I have the waste weft holding those first few throws in.

I like twill. The foot lever combo keeps my interest without confounding me ~ one, two, two, three, three, four, four, one and so on. It's an easy rhythm and the weave is simple, but filled with interest as eyes glide along the diagonal. Jeans are twill woven, but get caught staring too long at your pants and people question your mental capacity and sanity. So check out the twill on your jeans behind locked doors or start a Jean Twill Gazing club. At least you'll be in good company and can act like you've got full control of all your faculties after the meeting.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Invasion of the Oversized Boxes

These boxes lying about represent kitchen cabinets. Did I just say 'kitchen cabinets?' Yes, I did ~ kitchen cabinets. Rolls off the tongue like a skateboard on asphalt. They were delivered today. It's more exciting than getting the windows a year ago because this represents
some semblence of truly finished housing, some marked step toward civilization. We are no longer an overgrown tree fort with glass; we've grown up. (Well, some of us have, but we won't go into that now. I'm basking in the glow of cherry wood and all-plywood construction.) As a result, we are afraid to open the boxes. Well, we peeked at one, but then quickly closed the box lest the construction dust contaminate the surfaces too soon. That is the inherent fear in opening the boxes which contain said cabinets ~ they'll have to be cleaned once released . . . for the rest of my life or the duration of a 40-year mortgage, whichever comes first. (Ever notice how the word 'morte,' which means 'death' is in the word 'mortgage.' Perhaps the closing attorneys should chant, "Dead man walking" instead of "Sign here . . . and . . . here . . ." ~ you're pretty much in it for life, otherwise.)

Upon inspecting one cabinet, I noticed, not only how lovely cherry wood can be, but also that the holes for knobs and pulls weren't drilled. What this means, my dear Watson, is that if one wants to install knobs and pulls one will have to reach for the nearest appropriate power tool (cordless, if possible) and create one's own holes in the presently unmarred, perfect satin surface of the cabinet or drawer. Suddenly, we were vastly unqualified to install our own cabinets. That realization alone had Dirk on the phone with credit card in hand ready to sell more soul for someone holding a doctorate in Cabinet Installation to come Monday and begin work.

We can handle creating our own countertops though. This is where Dirk excels ~ ceramic tile. No worries there, mate. I just have to muddle through the astounding array of ceramic or glass tile choices. Lighting was pretty much the same muddle; but I'm just about through that. There is the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel for lighting. But tile . . . that's another matter. Another day, another tunnel; and probably lined with exotic tile as well.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Remember the Loom

Fanny made comment this morning over tea about how she hadn't been blogged about in a really long time and so what was my problem?
I gave lame construction excuses, she pouted, I broke out the camera. The same throw I started early spring (?) is still on the loom. (That I'd have to refer to my own blog to remember when I started this particular project is nigh on pathetic.) I spent yesterday and a bit of today dusting Fanny off again; she was rife with construction dust. Thanks to the newly purchased industrial wet/dry vac, a goodly amount of dust was easily disposed of without raising too much of it. The warp is not the greatest. As mentioned oh so long ago, I wasn't seeking perfection, only throwing the shuttle and getting back into the weaving groove ~ again, an exercise in process. So I tossed together a warp of two different fibers, wool and cotton, and both have different tensions. The warp doesn't give me a great shed as a result, but we're limping along.

After a thorough dusting (alright, not really so thorough ~ good enough maybe), I finished off the two lousy bobbins of wool I had left since spring(?). Now the shuttle is empty and waiting for refills. Really, the easy part of weaving is throwing the shuttle. It's a quick way to go through stash yarn and handspun single-plys that possess no discernable purpose. I will be using as much of this warp as I can before removing it. I want it clear for a huge amount of linen ~ it's my mini-goal to weave linsey-woolsy. Another goal would be to work with Meek's Lithuanian weaving book and weave up some Baltic patterns.

There, you can almost see Fanny smiling.

Since I had the camera out, I figured I'd haul out all the fiber projects in progress. Here's 1 1/2 pair of Tom's socks. (I'll be working the heel flap and turn while at the dentist's office this morning.)

And on spindles is the marriage, not of Figaro, but of mohair and Rambouillet. I've been carding these fibers together with some fun results. To ply or not to ply? That is the question.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

On Good Penmanship and Dodging Squirrels

Just a quick note on things. We've found that our chickens like to cross the road. Why? Because our neighbor's deck is just ducky for hanging out and sunning on. While my neighbor has been gracious about chickens visiting his yard I don't think he appreciates them hanging feathery butts over the rails and crapping on his deck. He has kindly warned me that his Husky mix does like to tear things apart once she gets her maw on them. So I've been herding errant chickens back to my yard as often as I see them in his. Monday was the last straw. (Is it turkey in the hay and chicken in the straw? Is that how that silly song goes?) I decided to run deer mesh across as much of the top of the pen as I possibly could until running out ~ which wasn't much. The chickens don't so much fly over the fence as climb it, flapping to the top and then tipping over. I figured the deer mesh would be a deterrent.

Then it rained all day yesterday. The deer mesh got weighed down by wet leaves. Deer mesh doesn't work well in the woods. Well at least most of the chickens are in the pen and seem to be hanging 'round the property.

In the meantime, the squirrels are going, literally, nutty. It's crazy how I have to veer wildly around, not only potholes, but dazed and confused squirrels. I saw two on the road the other day that didn't quite make it. A moment's indecision on the road can cost lives. No nuts for those squirrel's families this winter.

Also in the meantime, I'm enjoying Anne Barclay Priest's book. It's a pleasure reading little anecdotes about people in Nova Scotia.

And Tom's first sock is done. It fits. Success.

Now time for flipping paperwork and drudgery.

Monday, November 06, 2006

On Defacating Dolls and Swatches

Generally, our TV is tuned to the Kid Channels; Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, or Disney Channel. I don't care much what's on. The children/youth enjoy the shows and there's rarely anything offensive. Off-hand adult humor is occasionally injected to prevent parental boredom. I even have a few of my favorites ~ Spongebob Squarepants, Camp Lazlo, Billy and Mandy (I miss the Angry Beavers). But there are a couple of commercials which have come to my attention that I find misogynisitc and offensive.

The first is for a Baby Alive doll. With this doll our lucky little girl would get to cradle it lovingly in her arms, feed it (here we will skirt the Breastfed Over Bottle-fed issue), dress it and . . . get this . . . change it if it produces an "Uh-oh!" All three of my children/youth responded to the ad with a grand chorus of "Eeeewwww!" At first, I thought ~ Okay. It's repugnant to me now. I've been through the Diaper Changing phases of my life three times and I don't miss the task. But I had the Tender Loving Care doll in my childhood hey-day; so I've been there doll-wise. I resumed ignoring the commercial.

Then we see a commercial featuring Barbie walking her Golden Lab (could have been a Yellow Lab, I get those confused). She and her pup are strolling along when . . . Oh my! The dog takes a plastic crap! Barbie dutifully picks it up with her pink pooper-scooper and resumes her walk. Another resounding choral "Aauugh!" rang through the family room.

That was it. That was the last straw. Nevermind the Subliminal Message theory. This isn't subliminal in any way. It is a clear declaration that the female species is here to clean up other people's shit. I don't want Bennie growing up with that Crap Clearing Declaration. The cleaning up of someone else's physical crap becomes cleaning up their emotional/mental/spiritual crap. Under no circumstances will I purchase these toys or any like it for my daughter.

In closing, I ask you: Where are the Pooping Godzillas? I've never seen an action figure or their animal counterpart needing any Defacation Clearing Squad. Why aren't there any diapers for GI Joe? At least an outhouse or underwear replete with skid marks ~ something!

I haven't had time to knit this weekend, but I did get to read my latest Knits. At the end of the magazine, in Ravelings, Clara Parkes wrote a sweet essay on swatching as a therapy. This little article spoke to my soul. Much how I enjoy spinning just to spin, sometimes I like to get lost in a knit swatch. Parkes made suggestions regarding mood and color; knitting simple swatches when times seem too complex, or losing one's self in a myriad of cables to puzzle out a problem, using bright colors when feeling drab. In these times, it's not the product, but the process that matters.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Great Light Cliche

As in, let there be some. We got some.

Or, as I had blasphemed with a friend sometime ago: "Lowes and behold! Let there be light!" Light is nice ~ it allows me to see when it's dark.

That's enough about that . . . what's Magic Looping on the needles is the first of a pair of socks for Tom. Some of this wool is from last year's Sheep and Wool shop-fest, but it came from the same vendor, Jamie Harmon. She also had that lovely angora again, but I had to focus on socks for kids. Bennie already has a pair of angora from last year; this year, she chose a screaming orange wool. (Trust me, orange can scream. Green tends to whimper on rainy days though.)

As you can see, Darth is in my knitting chair. He generally refuses to move until he's gotten his 16 hours of beauty sleep so I won't be able to knit until about midnight. That's fine. I don't think I had anything else to do.

In the meantime, I'm sort of straightening up around the Plantation. I'm unpacking things I shouldn't and attempting to keep up with the construction dust. It's a losing battle. I think I'd prefer having the Dust Bunnies move in, but they don't want any part of this action. They like finished hardwood floors and furniture that hasn't been moved in 20 years. At present, I have neither. While the flooring is by no means soft or cuddly, it hardly qualifies as finished flooring and the furniture seems to move of its own accord when I'm not looking. Well, at least the cats are comfortable.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Samhain 2006

This is Parrot Street; another dimension (or dementia) in a portal of time. People spend time transforming houses and yards into . . . well . . . this.

Or this . . .

My guy was there gabbing with all passers-by and trick or treaters . . .

He was accompanied by Smokin' Joe from up the way . . .

Dirk Vader made it out that night . . .

And there was Wolfman Frank . . .

The tree looked on through the fog machine haze . . .

Dirk and the Dread Pirate Bennie on the Beat . . .

It may be a night of spirits and loose souls, but we all know it's about the candy.

I'll try to post something more fibery tomorrow.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Yes, he's back.

And he’s sporting my latest quick hat project. I finished the crown off with some yarn that was included in the Fall 2002 Spin Off skeins department ~ an angora/Corriedale blend. It barely puts a dent in the stash, but I feel better having used it. Really, the things I lose sleep over. I may even have enough left to make another hat.

Materials & Such: #6 circular needle, hand spun that works out to a gauge of 4-5 st per inch, a pair of working hands w/ opposable thumbs (I know it seems discriminatory against cats and those that knit w/ feet, but it was my second lace-knit project ~ thumbs seem kind of important.)

These are the directions as executed:

CO 80 stitches and join ends w/o twisting. (It's best to shoot for an even number of stitches that are also a multiple of 5 for the lace pattern.)

Row 1: p2 k3, repeat to end

Row 2: p2, k1, yo, slip one st knitwise, slip one st purlwise, k these two stitches together, repeat to end

Row 3: p2, k3, repeat to end

Row 4: p2, k2 together, yo, k1, repeat to end

This is the lace knit part and can be knit to desired depth/length depending on whether the brim folds up or not. (The pattern is borrowed from Holly’s Socks by Laurie Corriveau. It seems the link-a-ma-whats-it isn’t working; but a Search Engine should yield fruitful results.) I then switched over to Lee Raven’s simple pattern for the crown, decreases and finish as follows:

Round 1: p2, k2; repeat this round for about ½”

Round 2: p2 together, k2; repeat round of p1, k2 for about 1”

Round 3: p1, k2 together; repeat round of p1, k1 for another 1”

Round 4: sl 1, k1, pass sl st over k st; repeat round until down to 10-15 st.

Break yarn, leaving a good 6-8” tail and thread that through the remaining st w/ a tapestry needle. Pull stitches closed and knot end to keep from unraveling (or take Prozac).

Enjoy finished product.

We also managed to get down to the local Halloween parade Saturday night. Generally, the parade consists of big folks, wee bairns and the occasional canine in costume milling about on the church lawn and then walking down Main Street to the gazebo for treats and hot chocolate. This weekend, the gazebo was flooded, so the procession ended at the tracks in lower Cold Spring.

In costume, Bennie as the Purple Haze, Dirk as the Dark Leprechaun and Ian as Subzero (I don't think he'll be able to fit into this costume again next year . . . the neck was barely discernable and there was a definite wedgie.) Tom was absent and being cool with his friends at Cold Spring Pizza. I was wearing the camera.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Latest Knits on Site

Nights at the Plantation are slowing down. I'm able to sit and knit while everyone is lost in Camp Lazlo or Spongebob. Through the Cartoon Network haze, I've finished Holly's Socks with the Trekking (XXL) Superwash wool/nylon blend. It was a simple lace project that's encouraging me to try out yet another more challenging pattern. I'm not much of a shawl person, so I have to hunt around for other interesting reasons to knit lace patterns ~ curtains, maybe. I'll be needing a few of those. I only have 72 windows of varying shapes and sizes.

Since I need another hat (Bennie has laid claim to one I knit years ago from my first handspun) I thought I'd take this simple lace pattern and adapt it to Lee Raven's simple hat instructions from Hands On Spinning. (Can anyone live without this book? Okay, if you don't spin maybe.) So I took the stitch from this:

And I've come up with this:

Here is the leftover from a pair of socks; fiber content, something and mohair. The socks wear like iron. I don't intend to turn the brim of this hat and since I have an even number of stitches, it will be easy to switch over to k2p2 for decreasing at the crown. This lace pattern works with 5 stitches; p2 and two varying yo's in the three knit stitches, all acheived in four rows. I will transcribe the pattern at a later date and if I've met with success.

Here's the site again to check out the sock pattern:

In the meantime, I haven't been anywhere in the vicinity of the Drawing Board. The inactivity nags and gnaws at me. I've got good excuses for not sketching, but I won't go into that. They're lousy excuses no matter how good and important they sound. I suppose it's just another Dry Spell ~ yet another of many that my Inner Bohemian Artist and I must traverse searching for an Artisitic Oasis in a deep Desert of Nothingness. (Add an 's' to that word and at least the journey would be tasty and filled with empty calories.) We'd just have to be aware of mirage in the vicinity; nothing more distressing than coming upon false inspiration.

Thought for the Day: Aim high, but hit low when necessary.