Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Yarn Along 2015.29: Knitting and Knitting and (What?!?) Crochet

Hot, humid, and overcast Wednesday at this little place here.  Weatherman says thunderstorms this afternoon; I'll believe it when I see it.  We've had that same forecast more than a few times in the past two weeks and so far, nothing.  Kind of ironic how we went from too wet to too dry in less than half a month.

Joining Ginny & the Yarn Along today to see what everyone is knitting (or crocheting) and reading.

I did a bit more knitting this week than last.  Partly because the last several days have been extremely hot & humid, so I do things a little differently.  Instead of staying outside for hours at a time working on the garden and other outdoor stuff, I cycle in and out of the house.  An hour out, then a half hour to an hour back indoors (where it suddenly seems so much cooler, despite the fact that we do not have air conditioning) until I've cooled down a bit, then another hour back outside, followed by a 'break' doing indoor stuff. . .

This work pattern allowed me a bit more knitting time than usual, and I managed to get the leg completed on sock #1 of Dad's Petty Harbour socks as well as turn the heel and pick up the gusset.  Yay!

sock in the Susans

 I gave in to the urge to cast on for a washcloth to send to college with DD2 (I'll make a few more too, if time allows).  I made it in yarn that has her favorite shades of blue, and used this pattern.  It's not quite as fast to knit up as most dish/wash cloths since it is entrelac, but, oh, is it fun to knit and I love how the color changes in the yarn are coming out in the pattern.  I will definitely be using this pattern again in the future.  Wouldn't it make fun dish cloths in Christmas red, white and green?  Hmm, add it to the Make For Gifts list.  :0)

As you can see in the picture, I also found a book to read.  This one was on the New Books shelf at my local library when I went in last week to pick up a movie I'd requested.  Plain Killing by Emma Miller is an Amish murder mystery.  Well, most of the characters are Amish, anyway, and the heroine is a woman who was raised Amish, left to pursue an education, then returned to her community (but not the faith) to run a Bed & Breakfast.  I've read about half of the book so far and am enjoying it.

Last on my show and tell list for today is a crocheted item (yes, crochet!) I made recently.  Once upon a time, when I was very young, my mother attempted to teach me crochet.  I mastered the chain, and that was it.  LOL.  Many years later, I picked up my crochet hook again, taught myself to do single and double crochet, and  made the kids several winter scarves and a blanket for each of their beds.  All by the eyeball method, not using a pattern or even counting stitches.

A few weeks ago, DH mentioned wanting me to put a felt pad underneath a ceramic house (DS2 made in an art/sculpture class in high school many years ago) that I use as a doorstop in our bedroom, because the finish on the wood floor was starting to get scratched up where we move the doorstop a couple of times a day to close the door then hold it back open again.  I didn't really want to glue a piece of felt to that 'lovely' house (it's kind of a Seussian looking thing, if you know what I mean), and I pondered for another week or so before hitting upon the idea of making a sort of doily for it.  You know, a nice round something made with yarn.  Being that doilies are typically crocheted, I decided it was time for me to attempt crocheting something other than a rectangle.

But, crochet patterns still look like alien code to me, so I again winged it, first making a few chain stitches and then doing single crochet into them, adding or decreasing where it looked like I needed to in order to keep things circular.  And this is what I came up with, using some fat yarn I had leftover from making DD2 a Rapunzel braid for her 8th grade play in 2012 (a brunette Rapunzel, of course, since my kids all lost their blond locks around the time they started kindergarten).

It's beautiful, yes?

Okay, maybe not that pretty, but it is doing it's job well, sitting nicely under my Seussian house doorstop and sliding across the wood floor when needed, without sanding off the finish.  Plus, I'm quite satisfied with myself for creating a round piece of crochet work.  Maybe one of these days I'll sit down and try to figure out how to read crochet patterns and make something other than a wonky rectangle.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Good Weekend

In the last two weeks, I have worked twelve days straight, and then followed it up with 6-8 more hours of work (gardening, etc) at home each day.  By the time this past Friday rolled around, I felt pretty worn out.  I knew there was still so much needing to be done (ahem, weeds in the garden, ahem) but I also knew I was near the point of exhaustion and needed to go a little easier on myself.  So, I made the conscious decision to not push myself over the weekend.

Friday, I worked my normal hours at the horse farm, then came home and did just an hour or two in the garden, did chicken chores, made dinner for all who were here (*just* a head count of four that night!), and went to ride the Quarter Horse, who has become my main horse by default--as in the other two being retired.  Other than an unplanned dismount during the midst of my ride (code for, I went off his back in an ungraceful manner) that was not due to maliciousness, just a dive and hit the brakes motion on the part of the horse, it was a nice evening.  It's been a long, long time since I've fallen off/been tossed, and let me tell you, that ground is harder than it used to be.  But, true to my horse trainer nature, I picked myself up, shook myself off, caught my horse, got back on, and continued to have an excellent ride in which I paid much better attention.

Saturday I slept in to the 'late' hour of 7:45 a.m.  A whole two hours of extra sleep!  Tried out a new to me banana muffin recipe for breakfast, and then headed off to the local hay & straw auction in the hope of purchasing some straw for about $2 a bale (since all the farmers have cut their wheat in the last week or so).  I could use a few dozen bales of straw to mulch the garden with to help prevent weeds the rest of this season.

Alas, straw that cheap was not to be had, going for $2.30-$2.50 a bale.  And I'm too cheap to pay that when I know there is a straw glut coming.  However, auctions are not attended just for shopping, they are also for socializing, and I ran into a farm mom/wife I know who told me (when I mentioned wanting to find affordable straw) that she would most likely be baling some in the next week or two.  She then told me she would cut me a deal.  So, I shall probably be getting straw at my price after all.

Then, on the way home, I stopped at a yard sale, where I not only found some potential Christmas gifts (I'm always on the lookout for tins and mugs that I can then fill with homemade goodies) and some classic kid's books for the grandkids, but I found 'The Chair' that I have been looking for off and on for over a year now.  I've been wanting a small armchair for up in my bedroom; one that is kind of Victorian in styling--wing back and upright, not slouchy and overstuffed--that I can comfortably sit in to knit, read, or do counted cross stitch when I don't feel like joining the crowd downstairs in the living room.

Again, I'm too cheap to go buy such a chair brand new.  And even the few I've found on craigslist have been pricier than the budget I'd set for such an item.  So imagine my delight when I walked up to the yard sale and saw, off to one side, The Chair with a price sticker of only $10!!  I gave it a test-sit, liked how it felt, and decided that this definitely was meant to be.  Only $10, and in great condition.  Apparently it had been an 'extra' chair in the corner of someone's office for a few decades (yeah, it's older), so had had very light use.  Now that person was retired and no longer wished to keep the chair.  Into the back of my pick-up it went.

Once home, I took the shop vac to it, even though it looked like the previous owner had cleaned it well.  Then I hauled it into the house and upstairs, where I proceeded to spend the next several hours cleaning and rearranging the bedroom (did I mention that DH went fishing up north yesterday with a friend who just bought a ridiculously expensive new fishing boat?).

The Chair, installed in a nicely lit spot.
(note knitting bag near chair leg; I had to give The Chair a test knit, LOL)

While I was cleaning and rearranging, inspiration struck: push pins in the wall to hang hats off of instead of having them clutter up the tops of the dressers!

DH's hats hung neatly. 
 Except for the pictures on the wall--and the light switch-- looks sorta Amish in there.

My big floppy sunhat, hung out of the way.

While I was working on my bedroom redo, I managed to get 4 loads of laundry washed and hung on the line.  Once the bedroom was finished, I hit the garden for an hour or so, knocking out two more rows of potatoes.  The plants seem to mostly be doing well despite the weed pressure; I accidentally unearthed a handful of new potatoes that were all good sized for this time of year.

This morning was the monthly consignment auction (held at the same place as the weekly hay/straw auction), so I played hooky from church in order to go to that.  Missed the May and June ones due to DS1 & K2's wedding, and DH, K3 & my (sorta) vacation.  I scoped out all the consignment stuff yesterday while I was at the hay/straw auction and had about a dozen items I was interested in bidding on.

Most of those went for higher prices than I was willing to pay (again, I'm cheap and none of them was a desperate need).  Two milk crates of antique blue Ball canning jars in pint, quart and 1/2 gallon sizes went for $18 and $24 each.  I had been hoping most people wouldn't know the value (I would have gone $10 per crate) but unfortunately there were some antique dealers there who knew their stuff.  Wall-mounted saddle racks that are about $14 new were going for $10-$12 each (my bottom line was $6).  A decent set of 4 patio chairs fetched $75 (I was hoping for $40).  Seemed like it was going to be a long, hot day in the sun with empty hands for me.

But then the crowd began to thin out; the auction had been going on for about nearly 3 hours at that point, and I scored my first bargain:  a Rubbermaid 100 gallon water tank for only $20!  They are $70-75 brand new at the farm stores near me, and I've been watching them go for up to $65 at the auctions for over a year now.  My top price is set at $40 (or slightly more than 1/2 the price of a brand new one), so I was amazed to be the winning bidder at only $20 today.

Another half-hour went by, and I got my next good deal.  I'd had my eye on a 2-passenger tow-behind bicycle cart.  The same kind we'd had when my kids were little, but then sold about 12 years ago when they all wanted to ride bikes of their own instead of sit in the cart behind Mom or Dad.  I wanted that bike cart and figured I'd bid up to $25 on it.

Well, it was next to an assortment of bicycles that the auctioneer couldn't get anyone to even bid $2 each on.  So, knowing how to ensure a sale, he threw that bike cart in with the bicycles as one lot, and started the bidding at $2.50.  The lady next to me wanted the cart too, so she raised her hand at $2.50.  The auctioneer asked $5 and I jumped in.  Didn't want those bikes and I'd have to figure out how to sell or get rid of them, but that cart was definitely worth more than $5.  Lucky for me the other lady didn't want the cart bad enough to go up to the $7.50 the auctioneer then asked, so I won the whole lot for $5.  Two of the bikes are men's 10-speeds, and DS1 has all ready expressed an interest in one or both, depending on what sort of parts they might need (one has flat tires; not sure if they will hold air or not).

My $25 auction haul

better view of the bike cart

Overall, it's been a good weekend.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Sheep Learnin'

DD2 has been working with her sheep nearly seven days a week since she purchased them about three months ago.  In order to ready them for showing at the county fair in early August, they (and she!) had a lot to learn.  The sheep needed to not only get used to interacting with humans for something other than food, they also needed to learn how to lead, how to stand in a correct show stance, how to be bathed and clipped and have their feet trimmed.

DD2 had to learn all of this too, just on the opposite end: how to catch and lead a sheep, how to pose them in show stance, how to get them to stand still while in show stance, how to move around them while being assessed by a judge, how to bathe and clip them, how to trim the hooves of her sheep.  She also had to learn how to promote them and how to write and send out 'buyer letters', which are letters sent to local businesses and individuals asking them to please attend (and bid on her animals at) the livestock auction at the end of the county fair.

I learned alongside her, or rather, at her side as she first learned all this from her sheep mentors, then taught me how so that I could help her train for the Fair, which is the culmination of this sheep raising project.  It has been a really cool experience for me, partially because I have learned new things, but mostly because I have seen my daughter take ownership of something no one else in our family has tried. At this little place here, she is the resident expert on sheep.  To say she has really blossomed and matured in the last several months would be a vast understatement.

Walking in the big field.

Getting better at the proper stance.

Look Mom, no halter!
I'm a show sheep now!
(For her age bracket, DD2 must show her sheep without halters,
 leading them only by a hand under their chin.)

Learning to stand without a halter.

Learning to get on the grooming stand.

Time for a pedicure!

Clipping off the overgrown part of the hoof.

Can't forget the back feet too!

Hot and wooly lamb, ready for a cooler haircut.

Wielding the electric clippers. 
(A much larger version of what she's seen me cut DH's hair with all her life.)

Ahh, so much cooler!

Me walking one of DD2's lambs;
they need exposure to 'strange' things to ready them for Fair, LOL.

K3 helping to bomb-proof DD2's sheep.

So well trained, even a 3 year old can lead them!

Just about ready for the show!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Yarn Along 2015.28: A Little Longer

Joining with Ginny's Yarn Along on another gorgeous blue sky, breezy Wednesday.

I've done very, very little knitting in the past seven days.  Just enough to get through 4.5 more pattern repeats on the leg of the Petty Harbour sock for Dad.  So, it doesn't look a whole lot different from the way it did last week, just a little longer is all.

I was surprised to see one of my morning glories actually blossomed (mine aren't doing so well; pretty spindly plants this year) when I went outside to pose the sock for it's yarn along photo shoot, so that is the featured flower in this week's progress picture.  :0)  I think the colors compliment each other pretty well.

As if my time isn't being spent on enough projects other than this sock lately, for the past three days I've been battling the urge to cast on for a new project.  DD2 moves into the college dorm in exactly one month, and suddenly my brain keeps nagging at me about all the cool dishcloth/washcloth patterns in my Ravelry que with "for DD2" notated on them.  It's not like she doesn't all ready have bathing supplies enough for college, but I just have the urge to send something a little more personalized with her when she goes.  Besides, washcloths are so fast to knit up, and I have the yarn all ready in my stash. . . 

Not making any promises, but there might be a slight interlude from sock knitting in next week's Yarn Along post.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

My (Sorta) Vacation

This time last year, DH had what seemed like a brilliant idea: to make reservations at an oceanfront condo in Myrtle Beach for his week of mandatory vacation (when his employer is on what is referred to as "Shut Down"--the time when all their auto plants are retooled to make the new model year vehicles).  We would, he and I, drive down, spend several days resting and relaxing at the beach, then either go further down and pick up K3 from her home a few hours south nearly to Georgia or have DS1 & K2 bring her to us, then spend about 2-3 more days having fun with her at the beach.  Since, at that time, DS1 & family lived about 1000 miles from us, we only saw them about once a year.  Going to Myrtle Beach as a way to get closer to our grandchildren seemed like the sort of thing we'd like to do for Shut Down.

It seemed like a great plan, and so DH went ahead and reserved a spot at a time share.  Then, just a few months later, DS1 & family moved from South Carolina into our home.  After the initial shell shock wore off--come on, we'd just pared down to one teenaged offspring at home, when suddenly we had two twenty-somethings, a two year old, and a barely-out-of-the-oven infant living with us; who wouldn't be shell shocked?--we wondered what to do about that time share reservation.  Obviously we no longer needed it as a chance to visit out grandchildren; they live with us and so we see them everyday: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

We could cancel it, of course, but that involved forfeiting some finances.  We could try to sell/sublet it.  We could give it to DS1 & K2 and let them use it to go visit her family down in SC.  Or, as we decided in early Spring, we could keep it and use it as our own vacation, since our large household was wearing on the both of us by then.

Boy, was I looking forward to that vacation as Spring rolled on and my days got crazy with college graduation and wedding and high school graduation stuff. A whole week away from the rest of my family.  No one to keep track of, no personalities to battle work around, no big meals to cook or clean up after. . . Peace and quiet, my time my own.  Ahhh, sun and sand and water and a few good books and lots of knitting, perhaps some sightseeing, and of course lots of private time with my hubby.  Oh yes, I couldn't wait for Shut Down to arrive!

Then, in mid-June, DH threw me for a loop.  One day, when we happened to be alone--no, come to think of it, we were driving out to eat for our anniversary, and going to the new brewpub nearby that was just opening for the first time in fifteen minutes--when DH said he'd been thinking, and he wanted to take K3 to Myrtle Beach with us.

I won't lie.  My heart fell.  My brain screamed NOOOOOO!!!!! I replied, very cautiously so as to not seem negative:  "Why?"

It made sense when he told me his reasons.  The previous year we had brought K3 up to visit us for Shut Down.  DH had told me then that he hoped to start a tradition of us having our grandchildren come visit for a week every summer, and that Shut Down seemed like the perfect time.  After all, he would have no work to do, no texts, emails, or phone calls at all times day or night during that one week every summer where no one in the company works (unlike lots of other nights and weekends and vacations through the year we've tried to have 'off' from his brain thinking about work stuff).  Even though K3 and Toad currently live with us and so see us practically 24/7, that won't always be the case, and it most likely will never happen with any future grandchildren we have.  So, by taking K3 with us (Toad is a bit too young, having not even turned one yet when Myrtle Beach would occur) this year, it would be establishing that tradition of a week of special time with Grandma and Grandpa.

Again, I won't lie.  I didn't want to do it.  I understood the reasoning, but I still didn't want to do it.  Taking a 3 yr old away from home for a week is no picnic.  And it sure as heck would not be the vacation (meaning REST!) I had been looking forward to.  But, in the end, I agreed with DH, and we talked to DS1 and K2 about having K3 travel with us.

So that is why I have been referring to my week in Myrtle Beach as my (sorta) vacation in all my posts since returning from that (sorta) vacation.  It was a vacation in the sense that I was not at work, and gone from home.  But it really wasn't very relaxing (especially traveling 14-16 hours one way with a nearly-but-not-totally potty trained 3 yr old in the back seat of a company car) and I got very little knitting or reading done, pretty much no sightseeing, and absolutely no private time with DH.

What we did, though, was spend 3-6 hours every day in the water/on the beach.  Our mornings consisted of wake up, potty-and-dress-and-brush teeth-and brush and fix hair for K3 (me. since DH doesn't do that sort of thing, never did, even with his own daughters), cook & eat breakfast, then go downstairs to the beach.  If it was low tide, we played in the waves.  If it was high tide, K3 typically didn't like the more aggressive water and stayed further up the beach making sandcastles.

That brought us to lunch, and then a nap (funny thing; K3 napped every day of our vacation yet her parents can rarely get her to nap at home) and then bathing suits on again and back down for more sun, sand, and water.  Then it was time to either go out for dinner, or have me cook dinner while DH took K3 in one or more of the several pools.  After dinner we often went back down for more water play, or if it was low tide, a walk along the water's edge looking for shells.  We were back to the room for the night by 8:30, then began the bedtime routine.   K3 usually was asleep around 9:15 or 9:30, then I got to knit (!) or talk quietly with DH (!) for about an hour before we turned the lights out and went to sleep.

We did tour the local microbrewery, New South Brewing one afternoon, with K3 along.  She was one of a few children on the tour, and did amazingly well.  So well that when we went back a few days later to refill the growler DH had bought (he 'needed' to take some beer home to MI), the manager set her up at the bar with a wristband (wristbands required for drinking) and a juice box, and taught her a new fist bump (fist bump w/jellyfish).

just sittin' at the bar w/Grandpa

If you are ever in Myrtle Beach, I highly recommend checking out New South Brewing.  The tour is free (and cool) and the beers are great.  I sampled a few during the tour, and had a glass of both the stout and the Russian imperial stout (although not on the same day!  I'm a light weight!).  Good stuff.

Another day K3 was a little bored with the water; well, honestly it was high tide and she didn't like how strong the waves were, and kept asking for us to go "swing me higher".  After two or three requests for this 'swing me higher' I figured out she wanted to go to a playground.  And so, being obliging grandparents getting a little tired of a restless preschooler, we located a nearby playground.  That ate up about two hours between the driving to find, and the swinging at--they had about five different swing set-ups and K3 of course had to try them all.

On the next to last day of our vacation in Myrtle Beach, the three of us went on a dolphin watching cruise.  It wasn't horribly expensive (DH chose one where K3 was young enough to qualify for free admittance), and it was sort of fun.  K3 loved it.  We saw four dolphins, as well as got to experience a sudden strong squall (and really, really big waves) on the ocean.  We sat up on the top deck, so K3 also got to watch the captain drive the boat as well as play peekaboo with two of the crew members.  What is it about a blonde in a sundress, anyway?

So there you have it.  The story behind why I keep saying my (sorta) vacation.  Because it wasn't totally a time for me to rest and relax, to have my husband to myself and to do whatever tickled my fancy.  Yet, it was time away from my normal life, time at the beach and time discovering new things.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Hay Window

Typically, in my part of Michigan, hay is ready to cut for the first time each year around Memorial Day weekend. That is the point at which the hay has formed seed heads and is at it's nutritional peak; and any 3-4 day stretch of dry weather between then and by mid-June means the farmers will be out making hay.

Wouldn't you know, Memorial Day weekend is right when our unusually rainy weather began: rain every second or third day week after week.

A few brave/desperate farmers cut hay during a forecasted 2.5-3 day dry spell at the beginning of June; only to have to bale non-quite dry hay on the morning of the third day, racing to fill wagons and pull them under cover before the heavy rain showers that arrived early, or let their hay lie in the field getting rained on repeatedly for another two weeks before getting a chance to bale it dry.

Early June came, and went, without an opportunity to put up good hay.  Mid June came and went, without an opportunity to put up good hay.  Late June came and almost went, when right at the end of the month the weather suddenly turned favorable for hay making for a good five days straight.  All the farmers went wild, rushing to the fields, tractors pulling haybines as fast as they could.  Everything else was dropped, because our hay window had finally arrived, and no one wanted to miss it!  It seemed like every hayfield for miles and miles around was shorn in the same two-day period.

And then everyone was raking, and tedding, and baling, and unloading wagons in order to fill them up again, all at once also.

That much desired, much awaited, hay window happened at the tail end of DH and my (sorta) vacation.  As we were getting back from taking K3 for one last walk on the beach, one last sand castle building time, one last playing in the ocean waves, I received a text from home.

Your hay is mowed.

And a light shone down from heaven, and the angels sang, and a huge weight came off my shoulders as I knew I'd have hay to feed my horses for the coming year.

Honestly, that's what happened.  Right there in a condo full of dirty clothes waiting to be stuffed back into suitcases, and wet bathing suits draped over the balcony railing in the evening sun, and a 3 yr old asking for a snack.  Heavenly light, angel song, burden lifted.  I have hay down, with a perfect weather forecast for drying.  And I'd be home before it was baled.

Yikes.  All that hay would be getting baled the afternoon after DH, K3 and I would return home.  The same afternoon I would need to wash over a week's worth of laundry, get everything else unpacked and put away, and had kind of hoped to relax a bit would be the same afternoon hay wagons would need to be unloaded into the barn.  120+ bales per wagon.  Probably five wagonsful: my field averages 100 bales per acre for first cutting. There would be no rest for the wicked (me), not with hay to put up.

Thankfully, there was a section of my hayfield about two acres in size that had heavier clover and thus needed more drying time.  Which meant that on Sunday afternoon (the afternoon I had planned to take it easy after spending Saturday waking up at 3:30 a.m. to drive 16 hours home with a 3 yr old in the backseat), we only had to put 3 wagon loads--equalling 396 bales--of hay into the barn. The other 230ish bales weren't baled until Monday evening, so didn't have to be dealt with until then.

And then the rains returned Monday night and we've been in a wet pattern ever since.  Which means that my hayfield is rebounding well and should make a good second cutting later this summer.  Provided we get another hay window at the right time.

Meanwhile, I have about 400 square bales of nice dry grass/clover hay for sale if you know anyone in mid-Michigan who's looking for some good first-cutting horse hay.

my 'extra' hay;
about 400 bales all for sale

pretty good color for late June hay

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Yarn Along 2015.27: Manly Socks

Happy Wednesday!  The weather at this little place here currently is sunny (YAY!!), mid-sixties, and a light breeze.  A bit cool for my tomato and pepper plants, but lovely feeling to me.

I'm joining in with Ginny for this week's Yarn Along.

Last week I mentioned having started a new pair of socks while on (sorta) vacation.  I had gotten a whopping 3 rows of cuff done on sock #1 when I had to pack up my knitting and make the long drive home. It was a few days after returning home before I was able to pick up my knitting again, and when I took my barely-begun sock out of my knitting bag, I was dismayed to find that one of my dpns had lost all 24 of it's stitches in transit.

Oh bummer!

I decided, since socks have a small number of stitches per round, and since this was a k1 p1 pattern, to just go ahead and frog the whole sock rather than take the time to attempt to pick up 1/3 of the sock without a) messing up the pattern and b) having 24 dropped stitches travel down multiple rows while I was trying to stuff the needle back through them.  So I ripped out all my 'progress' and didn't even feel bad about doing so.

Over last weekend, I began again.  And I dug up a pair of point protectors to keep my stitches on their needles when my knitting is just sitting around waiting to be worked on.  I'm not sure what happened before; if it was the traveling, or if it is this particular yarn--it's kind of slippery and new to me--that caused the dropped stitches disaster.  Anyhow, that problem seems to be fixed now, and despite it's wont to slip a bit, I do like the yarn.

I am using (hopefully) 2 skeins of Knit Picks Comfy Fingering yarn in the colorway Planetarium to make a pair of Petty Harbour socks intended as a birthday gift for my Dad this fall.  I say hopefully because the total yardage of the skeins is somewhat less than the total yardage the pattern calls for.  Typically I have quite a bit leftover when I make socks, even if the pattern says it uses the same yardage as the skein I am using, so I'm hoping that what I have on hand is enough.  My back up plan is to order another skein if I have to, but I'm hoping that will be unnecessary.  Because it's silly to order just one skein when you can have free shipping if you order lots of skeins. . . and I have more than enough yarn in my stash currently.  Or so I'm telling myself in my present cash-strapped and crowded-housed state.

My dad is allergic to wool, which is why I decided to go with the Comfy yarn instead of the superwash wool sock yarns I've used in the past.  Comfy is cotton and acrylic.  Like I mentioned above, it seems to be more slippery to work with than wool.  It also feels really stretchy the more of the leg of the sock I knit up.  I hope it won't end up baggy when worn.  I don't know about Dad, but socks than bag and bunch up drive me nuts to wear.

Petty Harbour in the lilies

As you can see in the picture, I've managed to get quite a bit knit up in just a few hours.  I'm half-way through the leg all ready.  The pattern is a very easy to memorize 4-row repeat and I'm sure that is why I've gotten as far along as I have in a short time.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Sun Block, Bug Spray, and Sweat

That's what I smell like lately.  Yep, a little TMI, probably.

When DH and I got back from our (sorta) vacation on the evening of July 4th, we found two things that hadn't been at this little place here when we left:

Knee-high weeds in the entire garden and swarms of mosquitoes.

Normally, in the summer, the best times to weed the garden are early to mid-morning and late afternoon to sundown.  Unfortunately, those are also prime mosquito feeding times.  And we happen to have extraordinary mosquitoes lately, the kind that will even bite through denim jeans!  Not only will they bite right through my shirt and pants, they are completely unaffected by most bug sprays.  My go-to bug repellent for humans is Deep Woods OFF!, and if I can get my hands on the 'Sportsmen' version, all the better.  However, even that is only holding them off for about an hour and a half before the nastier little vampires start biting in spite of it.  Not a failing of the bug spray; the mosquitoes are just that bad.

So I have taken to weeding my garden during the middle of the day.  You know, the hottest part, when the sun is the highest, and all the experts tell you to avoid being outdoors for an extended length of time so you don't get skin cancer and/or heat exhaustion.  And, since it is the hottest part of the day, and our average humidity this time of year is somewhere above 65%, I am not wearing jeans to weed the garden.  I'm pretty dressed down: shorts and a tank top.  Even so, the sweat is flowing freely.  (Boy, I'm just full of TMI today.)

To protect myself from the scorching sun in my scantily clad state, I liberally apply a 50 SPF sunblock (Finally found one that works for me!  No sunburns so far, knock on wood).  And then, to protect myself from the mosquitoes that are desperate enough to come out in the withering mid-day sun (surprisingly a lot of them are venturing forth although they are only a small fraction of the early and late in the day horde) I liberally apply my sportsmen scent OFF!.  And I do mean liberally.  Probably not healthy to have it gleaming wetly on all exposed skin, but hey, I'm all ready anemic (another post for another day) I can't afford to be a mosquito buffet.

Which means that if you happen to stop by my house anytime from mid-day on, I will smell like sun block, bug spray, and sweat.  Good thing I'm not too concerned about impressing people. Well, honestly, I'm more concerned about the state of my garden than how I smell. I prefer my garden to be impressive. :0)  As for the smell, that goes away after sundown, when I shower all my protective goop off.

Look!  I found bean plants!  
There actually are veggies in all those weeds!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Chickens Went Off To Freezer Camp

Which is a nice, non-gory way of saying early this morning, before the sun came up (and in the rain), I loaded all my broilers into the cages I'd placed in the back of the pick up truck, and drove them off to the processor.

Yes, these cute little guys that arrived at this little place here this spring:

That looked like this when they were ready to move from the brooder in the garage to the portable pen in the great outdoors:

Came home from the processor today looking like this:

After parting out about half of them before putting them in our big chest freezer (in other words, cutting them up and packaging them as boneless skinless breasts, leg quarters, wings--have you started growing the ingredients for your Super Bowl party yet?--and soup carcasses), I sat down with my chicken catalog and figured up my next batch of meat birds, plus a few more pullet chicks for the laying flock.  Then I ordered up about 40 more birds to arrive in early August!

More birds because with so many of us living at this little place here, we are going to need 50+ chickens in the freezer to feed us for a year. We ran out of homegrown chicken before winter arrived last year, and having to rely on chicken from the store has been a frustrating experience.  It doesn't taste as good, the texture isn't as good, it's origin is questionable (has it traveled to China and back?); plus, my lifelong low-end-of-normal blood pressure (even during pregnancies!) is now flirting with the high blood pressure classification.  With the doctor asking me if I have been eating a lot more salt since my physical in 2014, and me not liking salty stuff at all (I salt almost nothing on my plate) DH is pretty sure it's the sodium-solution injected chicken from the store that is to blame for this drastic change in my diastolic and systolic numbers.  So, I'll be raising more chickens yet this summer, and for many summers to come.

You gotta do what you gotta do.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Yarn Along 2015.26: Moose Drool Finished!

I'm joining in with Ginny today for the weekly Yarn Along. Trying to get back into the groove after being gone on (sorta) vacation last week with DH and K3 (K3 being the reason it was only sort of a vacation--having a mostly potty trained 3yo along for the week sure made for a busy grandma if you know what I mean. . .)  Anyway that vacation is the reason I didn't post for last week's Yarn Along.

But, I'm happy to say with all the driving involved in getting to our vacation destination and back again, plus a few chances to sit poolside and knit while  DH and K3 splashed around in the water (I have eczema, which means my skin and chlorine don't mix well, so I avoid actually going in pools; preferring the 'less clean' water of ponds, lakes, and the ocean for my swimming time), I was able to finish sock #2 of my Moose Drool aka Zigzagular socks!

poolside knitting

pattern directions give you a left sock and a right sock;
I was happily amazed how easy it is to make mirror image socks.

I love how the pattern continues down the leg, through the ankle, and to the toes of the foot

I even finished these socks early enough in our vacation that I was able to cast on and knit a few rows of my next project, a pair of Petty Harbour socks for my Dad's birthday in October.  Unfortunately, somewhere between packing for home on Saturday and pulling out my knitting for picture taking today, one of the needles slipped and I lost all 24 stitches on it.  I think I'm going to end up just ripping out the sock (only 4 rows) and starting it over.  Ah well.  A report on that next Wednesday.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

I Need Some Down Time

Which, given the fact that it's been nearly two weeks since I last posted, and I haven't hardly done any posting in months other than my weekly (well, until last week) yarn along posts, might sound funny.    Might even have you wondering if you want to bother to check back to this blog in the future, because there might not be anything new to read.

But actually, what I have in mind is more blogging, not less.  I'm not talking about down time from this little place here (as in the blog).  I'm not even talking about being at this little place here (the homestead) less often.  Nope, I'm thinking more of both.

What I need, though, is some me time.  Because I've been stretching myself way too thin for many, many months, and I've lost myself along the way.

What do I mean by losing myself?  Well, being grumpy and unhappy.  Staring at walls with a mind that is alternately blank or such a chaotic jumble I can't make heads nor tails of my thoughts.  Getting downright excited when I pull in the driveway after work and see absolutely no other vehicles on my property.  (There are currently eight--yes, eight!!--people in residence here, with an occasional ninth overnight and sometimes a tenth popping in for a few hours.)  To be ecstatic over the prospect of being alone is not a proper thing.  Nor is the feeling of massive disappointment that comes over me when I pull in from a morning at work and see that there are two or three other vehicles parked up by the garage.

I am massively overwhelmed.  I'm not, by nature, a crowd-loving people person.  I like my space, and I like organization and quiet.  None of which I have had hardly at all this year.  I can feel myself spiraling downward, and I don't like it.  I need to pull myself up by my bootstraps and insist on some down time, otherwise I'm going to crash, and that won't be good.  Summer is too important of a work time food-wise (gardening, canning, etc) for me to crash and be in lay-on-the-bed-lethargic mode.

So, what I want to do, what I know I need to do, is get back to blogging regularly.  This blog is the place where I not only share things, but where I get my creative need to write fulfilled.  I also need to get back to spending time regularly with my own horses, one of which is in her own downward spiral in terms of health (but hey, it's inevitable, she's 26 which is rather old for a horse). I need to get back to running and exercising,which I have not done since DS1 & crew moved in with us nine months ago.

Also what I need, which is not so up to me to make happen, is for the other occupants of this house to tread a little more lightly upon my space.  Respect my time.  Respect my system of housekeeping. Respect my food-stores, don't waste them, and replace them with similar quality items if they happen to use up all my bread, my tomato sauce, my whole milk, my real vanilla.  Be the mature adults that they all should be.  Well, except for the grandkids.  I don't expect them to behave any more maturely than a 3yo and a just-turned 1yo can.  But their parents need to guide them more, keep an eye on them more, have more patience with them, than those parents have been.

Hopefully you, Dear Reader, will be seeing more of me this month.  I hope you're looking forward to that as much as I am.  :0)