30 November 2009

The Mitten Mistake

I missed the final mitten class at Yellow Dog Knitting because I thought I was coming down with something, and didn't want to spread it to the nice people there (it turned out to be nothing...)

I thought it would be a piece of cake to do the liners for Cindi's lined mitten pattern; she showed me her samples and gave me the gist of the procedure. So I was off and running this weekend with some apple green Garnstudio Alpaca, doubled.

Just pick up the first purl round after the cuff, and knit another mitten for the inside! No problem!

Fools rush in...

I turned the cuff the wrong way when I picked up the purl bumps (it should be folded to the OUTSIDE of the mitten; I'd turned the mitten inside-out first. Ack.)

The only way to get it to act as a lining was to turn the whole thing inside-out on itself through the thumb hole - and look what that does: makes the lining purl-side-out.

I am spatially challenged; that much is clear.

Let's get this straight. If you want to make a liner for your mitten, hold a mitten up, normal side out. Fold the cuff to the outside of the mitten. Pick up and knit the purl bumps, on the interior of the mitten, at the point where your cuff ends and the interior mitten hand begins. Knit a new mitten, away from the exterior mitten. When it is complete, tuck it inside the first mitten. The knit stitches of the liner will be against your palm. :)

Let's turn away and look at something else, shall we?

Here's our little tripod, Delilah, snoozing away in the afternoon sun.

Please note: Delilah is a mini LaMancha goat. LaMancha goats are usually born without exterior ears. She did not lose ears (or her missing leg) to frostbite. Delilah sleeps in a straw-filled, snug barn which even has a heat lamp for particularly chilly days. :D

Hope your day is as relaxing and peaceful as hers!

26 November 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing you and yours a holiday full of all good things.

Around our house, everyone's "celebrating" in front of the TV.



Finished Objects

Pattern: Multnomah
Yarn: Colinette Jitterbug in "Sahara", 1.5 skeins, purchased at The Loopy Ewe.

Pattern: Baktus
Yarn: Koigu KPPPM, 2 skeins, purchased at Yellow Dog Knitting.

23 November 2009

Always Busy On A Farm

There really is no "down time" on a farm, and this weekend was no exception.

Chef Jeff shoveled and spread over 500 bushels of manure, alone. The goat barn has a new starter supply of hay for Swedish-style deep bedding for the winter; the chicken coop and nest boxes are fresh and clean as well; and the donkey pucks are out of the paddock. All that organic fertilizer should be great for next year's alfalfa crop - it'll work itself in over the winter and spring.

The house has now been sided outside...

... and drywalled and painted inside:

We celebrated Chef Jeff's 40th birthday with dinner at his favorite restaurant due to a surprise visit from my mother. I also baked orange scones for him this weekend instead of a birthday cake - he isn't fond of sweets. Well, he enjoys sweets, he just doesn't eat them - the man has a will of iron with regard to his diet (which is why he looks 30 instead of 40; me, not so much!)

Tonight we had "dinner in a pumpkin":

This would make a great Thanksgiving dinner for those who don't wish to roast a whole turkey.

The original recipe can be found here (warning: turn down your sound).

I altered it a bit by using dark brown sugar, 1 tsp. of thyme, turkey instead of beef, 3 celery stalks with leaves, Native American hand-harvested and parched wild rice, and white pepper. I used fat from heritage Berkshire hog bacon for browning. The "stuffing" went into a sugar pumpkin that I grew this year. It was delicious!

Next time we make it, we're going to nix the canned soup (albeit organic) and canned mushrooms, and go with dried wild mushrooms. We'll rehydrate them and use the stock from them to deglaze the frying pan, and then add in cream. We will use maple syrup for the sweetener, Worcestershire sauce for the salty, fermented taste, and real chestnuts instead of water chestnuts. Maybe some cranberries as well.

The recipe I made tonight was double what would fit in the pumpkin. Luckily, I have another to use. :)

In fiber news, the four Icelandic sheep and five Angora goats are shorn! Need wool or mohair? Get in touch!

We used Bob Rajek from Rajek Family sheep services for shearing, and were pleased with his care of the animals and the fleeces. He was very easy to work with. He is located in Stanley, WI, and also buys and sells sheep (for those interested) - 715-429-0879.

As far as my knitting, I've finished the large, blue and silver Drops shawl, as well as the Colinette Jitterbug Multnomah. I don't think I'll use that yarn again; it is still bleeding color after 10 rinses! I'm not too crazy about having been exposed to excess dye chemicals while knitting.

If you are thinking of knitting a Multnomah, be prepared to do some fudging - it's not the clearest pattern I've ever read, and you sort of have to see the big picture and intention and do your own thing to make it work out. For instance, fit in new lace pattern repeats on the borders when you are able to after making increases - the number of "repeats" in the pattern seems to be off, and I've seen a whole bunch of projects which don't have a steady Feather And Fan border all the way around the edges because of that.

I finished one gray mitten of Garnstudio Karisma Superwash, and started its mate; they'll be lined with lime green Garnstudio Alpaca. I also have a two-color Garnstudio Fabel Baktus on the needles. Pics coming soon... Who knows? Maybe the next Baktus I make will be the lacy version - I definitely have no intention of stopping knitting Bakti!

Next project is going to have to be a durable farm cardigan for myself; I'm thinking garter stitch, neck down, raglan, with a zipper. Also should do a hat for Chef Jeff - most likely the Doubleknitski.

So what am I most thankful for this week on the farm? Sleep!

Have a wonderful holiday, US friends!

06 November 2009

Moving Right Along

The house construction is moving along so quickly that I can't even get current photos posted before they're obsolete!

I posted on Facebook on Oct. 30th that Dixie mentioned that she couldn't believe how calm I was about the house project. I realized it was because Wausau Homes/Dick Hieb Homes have the process down. No worries. Everything on schedule. The contractors show up on time, right after the last ones have finished their work, and they're all polite and conscientious (they are even friendly to the goats!) We had a single, small concern with one tradesperson - but that was someone we'd insisted on using, who was not part of the usual Wausau crew. We just can't say enough good things about Wausau Homes/Dick Hieb Homes of Black River Falls. If you ever build, check them out if you want a hassle-free house project.

My father was a home builder when I was young, and I remember that there were always problems with the coordination of tradespeople, theft from construction sites, and arguments between contractors (when and if they bothered to show up). I was prepared to have to micro-manage this whole process, and really was not looking forward to it. I have never been so relieved to have my expectations proven wrong. I'm sure that having this house progress on-time and on-budget has saved my marriage and my sanity.

Chef Jeff and I love that this type of "panelized" construction (not modular) is better for the environment, as is the geothermal heating/cooling we chose. We like knowing that the structure didn't get wet or moldy since it was up and roofed in about three days. My good friend Denise sent me this link to share about construction of panelized (different from modular) homes - hope you find it interesting.

To get you up-to-speed, this was the status of the new house on October 2nd:

This was October 27th; the house was up, and they were trenching for the well and the electicity:

And this was yesterday. The interior drywall is almost finished! The UPS man, who is here almost every week, said, "Hey! When did you guys start building a house?!" He was shocked to see it appear suddenly, as if by magic.

The current house is the white building on the right (sinking precariously, day by day, into the hill!)

The 2009 chicken harvest has been deemed a success by Chef Jeff. We experienced only minor losses to a great horned owl and Otter. That would be our dog, Otter - not an otter otter. Let's just say that, for a hunting dog, she does not have a very soft mouth - and apparently has hunted her own vittles in her past life on the run. I learned not to walk her, even on-leash, near the pastured poultry.

If our chickens look oddly bright and yellow to you, that is because that is what natural, pasture-raised, healthy chickens look like. The anemic, chalky chickens one sees in the grocery store are not only devoid of color, they taste as bland as puffed rice crackers. If you haven't experienced the flavor of organic, humanely-raised, free-range chicken, well... you have no idea what chicken is "supposed" to taste like.

Wish I could get Chef Jeff to let me raise a heritage breed hog, because the same is true of pork (and beef, of course). What passes for meat at the supermarket isn't worth purchasing - I'd rather eat tofu. However, seeing as we have an overabundance of guinea fowl at present (25 at last count) and Chef Jeff finds himself unable to take them off to be made into roasters, perhaps a cute pig is not such a good idea.

Most important to us, of course, is that we know that our meat animals lived happy, peaceful lives and didn't suffer - either here, or at our great butcher's shop. Many thanks, Enos Hoover! And thanks to Julie and Vince at Coon Creek Family Farm for recommending him! (Julie's goatmilk soap makes a wonderful holiday gift - she even has bars with a skein of yarn on them!)

The pumpkin crop did not fare as well as the poultry; I grew three, two of which are in this photo. I wouldn't let Chef Jeff make them into pie so he was forced to buy others from the farmer's market. I was pleased to see that though my crop was not abundant, at least my pumpkins were larger than the ones he bought.

Blogless Denise keeps asking about my mitten class at Yellow Dog Knitting yesterday. It was wonderful! Cindi taught me many things I didn't know. I'm so glad I went and got to pick her knitting brain for tips.

As usual, there were plenty of goodies to nibble on during class. It wasn't knit nite (nor was it yet 5 p.m.) so I was good and didn't ask for wine. :D

Michelle and Dianne (the friendly, fearless leader of the CraftLit tour of London, Bath & Wales in 2010!) are taking a class with Cindi for a specific Drops cardigan. It is great to have access to a local yarn shop where one can request a class for any topic! They have some free patterns on their website if you are interested...

My mittens are working up very fast in superwash Garn Studio Karisma. I love the simple pattern that Cindi wrote, and I think these are going to be very comfy and toasty. You can see here that I've made my thumb gusset. Cindi is a great teacher because she knew how to handle my Eastern European uncrossed crazy knitting style and didn't bat an eye when I needed help with the mount of an increase. She told me how to do it my way, and didn't tell me I had to learn to knit like a normal person. How great is that kind of personal attention?

My other WIPs are a Baktus in Garn Studio Fabel sock yarns, and a Multnomah (the Fall-colored yarn, the name of which I can't recall at the moment). I love small projects, especially for gifts!

This is a behind-the-scenes shot of my stylist correcting the layout of the subjects to be photographed. Emma's such a great assistant.

And here she is with the baby sister she picked out herself from the Humane Association - Miss Molly. Molly always looks small until one sees her next to Dobie Emma! My girls - love 'em to bits!

The winners in the contest for the funny Yellow Dog Knitting totes will now be announced! Drumroll, please! They are:


Linda M


Congratulations! Would you three please email your mailing addresses to me so I can send you your totes? Thanks to everyone who left a comment on that post, and to Dixie for donating the bags for the drawing.

I love to read what you have to say, so I hope you'll always comment, even when there isn't a contest going on. Have a lovely weekend!

04 November 2009

Mitten Class!

Yay, my mitten class at Yellow Dog Knitting is tomorrow! Any locals care to join me? Just call the shop at 839-7272 and I'm sure they'll reserve a spot for you. I am really excited to make some wool mittens with soft alpaca liners. Here is the yarn I've chosen.

Miss Molly was a doctor for Halloween. She was so humiliated that she refused to look at the camera. (Nah, she was really a good girl. We just dressed her up for the photo op - didn't want to freak her out by taking her to the vet for trick or treating!)

So, anyone else get sucked in by V? Between that, Eastwick (on tonight - yay!), and Dollhouse, I should be getting in some good knitting time (which will hopefully make up for the brain cells I'll be losing). At least the current series of Masterpiece Contemporary is addictive as well. I hope that watching it on PBS will ease my conscience about too much TV time. Andreas Viestad is on again in reruns as well - awesome. We love his recipes.

Since the big switch to digital TV, we lost our CBS station. Our flimsy antenna has been broken in assorted walk-by accidents, so now every time we want to watch something, it's a matter of lifting what's left of the asymmetrical rabbit ear up in the air above our heads and moving around as if running a metal detector upside-down over the ceiling. Once a program is tuned in, nobody can move anywhere in the house until the TV show is over; if a person or a pup passes by the TV (even walks over it upstairs), we get snow.

I have a feeling (and a hope) that TV and cell phone reception will be much improved in the new house, as it's up high on a hill. I also have a feeling that the bad juju in this house may have a lot to do with electromagnetic energy!

Comment entries are now closed for the Yellow Dog Knitting tote bag - and Dixie kindly gave me another to give away! So I will be choosing TWO winners and will let you know who they are in my next entry!

Have a wonderful evening, and do some Sudoku or something to make up for any TV watching you may be doing along with me. ;) It'll be our little secret. Along with my current nail polish obsession... what's your guilty addiction?

Ooo, I hear Andreas talking about lingonberries and caviar (NOT together) - got to run while the reception is good!