Sunday, November 08, 2009

Cinnamon Bay done

Yes friends, a near miracle ... I have finally finished a project again.

Between the craziness at work and the work at work I feel like there have been weeks in a row where I have knit not one stitch. About two weeks ago I decided I just had to finish my biggest UFO and went to the task.

I'm pleased to say that the Cinnamon Bay beach bag blanket is done and turned out pretty nicely.

Today was a beautiful day outside so we thought it would be great to take some photos and the dog and our outside kitty, Ricki, decide to help out.

Quite photogenic aren't they?

The idea of this blanket, knit from the center out, in the round, is that an i-cord drawstring runs through the edging and you can cinch it up into a bag. Nice idea if you want to use it as a beach blanket because it becomes one less thing to carry.

All in all, I'm pretty happy with this one. The jeannee is a pretty nice yarn and the color is really great. The final project looks quite nice too. The bad news, like any large blanket, it takes a long time. Not a great thing for me since I was so busy and then bored with miles of stockinette. I was never so glad to get to edging ... it was very exciting! I think this would be cute even knitted to a smaller size without the drawstring for a child.

Cinnamon Bay beach bag blanket by Carol Feller from Knitting in the Sun
US 8 dpns and circulars
Plymouth Yarn jeannee (about 16 balls)
(51% cotton, 49% acrylic)
Colorway: (lavendar) 0023 (lot 37841)
Cast on June 18, 2009
Finished November 6, 2009

Mods: Nothing major. I did stop a few rows short of the recommended number for the large size bag because I was worried I was going to run out of yarn. Turns out I had plenty.

Ravelry details here.

And time passes

It's amazing how quickly time can just get away with me. Every semester I say that time goes faster than in the previous year. This year, I really mean it!

Work is still crazy busy, me having said the word "yes" to far too many people and too many projects. I'd say Spring will be better, but I'd probably jinx myself. =]

Everyone around here is good... the whole animal kingdom: cats, dogs, chickens, and people all happy and content. And after ummm,, maybe 3 months, I finally have a finished project to show (next post).

First, let's have fun with the chickens shall we?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Life as normal (or not)

I'm taking life around here just like the chicks do ... one step at a time.

Life doesn't feel very normal right now. I actually feel like someone pressed the time and a half button. I have twice as many things to do these days and not so much time in which to get it all done. This of course makes for a lot of undone "to do" lists.

I am still trying to carve out time for myself, and the chickens, and the cats, and the dog (and of course the spouse ... that's a given... =]).

The hens (and they are now officially hens) have all started to lay now. Beatrice continues to lay almost every day (I think she's only missed about three days in the 3 weeks she's been laying). Ada and Bettina are still just getting started but seem to be getting into the habit. But man on man, are they loud in the morning. I knew roosters were loud but I had no idea that hens could make such a ruckus. That egg song phenomenon ... that's just part of the story. There's also all the agitation that happens before they lay and the chatter that happens when one's in a nesting box that another wants to get into. Crazy chicken talk I say!

Last weekend (not yesterday mind you, but a week ago), S and I took off one afternoon to catch a little down time. We needed to sooth our souls with the Pacific.

It was a great time to go. The marine layer started coming in so it was cool and overcast, almost foggy on the beach. The lights came on at Santa Monica pier while we were there too which made for a nice view. Ahh the ocean ... she is calming.

The other really nice thing S did for me was we went on a yarn visit when we were in Santa Monica. For the first time, I visited Wildfiber and WOW is this place great! The picture on their web page does not do the place justice! The yarns... the colors... the softness. I could have purchased a million things.

Instead I settled on one smallish purchase... some Manos is this fabulous green color. I'm not sure exactly what I'll make, but it's going to be great to knit with. It will be nice to get back to some wool. All summer I've been working on an endless stockinette stitch blanket in a lavendar cotton. I'm sure it's going to be nice when it's done, but it's past finished already. Luckily, I've only got 12 rows left ... now granted every row has about 700 stitches, but hey it's only 12 rows! Gotta look for the little things these days you know. =]

Monday, September 07, 2009

An encore

We were thrilled with the first egg. Today, Beatrice laid a second! Still the most dainty, cute little eggs. We got another "egg song" encore as well. Yesterday I read that this in not uncommon. Here's an example I found on you tube.

The joy!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

A month of good and bad

A month ... time certainly has raced past me over the past 30 days. Back from vacation and into the vortex of work. School started last week and the weeks prior to the start of school are always crazy. You know, everyone has to do everything that didn't get done the rest of the summer? I survived, only a little worse for wear.

Around here, we've had happy and sad events.

This morning we had a happy event which prompted me to post. Beatrice, our most "developed" girl, laid her first egg!

Here she is, the proud egg, layer shortly after the big event. We've been able to tell that she was almost ready to lay for the past couple of weeks (her crown and waddle have really come in and reddened up). The last couple of days she's been very noisy, so noisy I've started to worry that maybe we were wrong and she was really a rooster.

This morning, even before we opened up the house she was really loud. In fact, she was in the laying boxes when I went out to let them into the run. I could just tell today would be the day. She went out into the run for a few minutes and then went right back into the house. We heard lots of squaking and after one particularly loud bout, S wanted me to go out and check on her. The noises that came out of that girl for another minute were very loud exclamations. Then she scooted right out of the house, ran to the morning snacks, and left behind the cutest, most perfect, dainty little egg (pictured next to a regular grocery store egg in the picture below for comparison).

Instincts are really amazing. It has been fascinating to watch our girls go through the different stages of development and just seem to know what to do. We didn't put the laying boxes onto the house until they hit about 18 weeks (which is the earliest hens tend to lay) and Beatrice just went right in, checked it out, and seem to know just what it was for. The girls left it alone until this week and then I could tell Beatrice had been in there just checking it out, scratching a bit, nesting. Now she's a layer. Sigh ... where did the time go? My guess is we still have another week or two before another hen starts to lay.

Also, on the happy news side, we have another baby addition to the neighborhood ... a baby peacock.

The mom has lived in the neighborhood for quite some time. According to some neighbors, years (or another female at least has been here for years). I first saw her about a year ago on a morning walk. You never knew when you were going to see her, or what part of the neighborhood she'd be in, but it was always great to catch sight of her. About 2 weeks ago, driving home from work, I saw her walking in a yard along with her new little companion.

It's unclear to me whether she has an owner/caretaker in the neigborhood or if she really just lives wild in the neighborhood. I've seen lots of houses putting out water and feed for her. As far as I know, there is no male peacock in the neighborhood. There apparently was at one time, but no longer. So, either this girl is another immaculate mother or perhaps the fertilized egg was brought in for her (maybe by an owner?). It's a bit of a mystery, but a happy addition. I've only seen the pair three times so far, but every time is a treat.

Finally, some sad news. Earlier this week, we lost one of our own four girls. One of our reds, Althea, passed away. She just collapsed on Sunday morning last week, and despite a visit to the vet and some care, just didn't make it. We buried her under the budda and think of her often. We were quite worried that the other girls might also fall ill, but so far, no signs of any problems (and with Beatrice's delivery today I'm feeling more optimistic).

So we're remembering our lost friend and enjoying the companionship of the rest of our little family. Good and bad together... I guess that is how life is.

I hope everyone out there is enjoying the end of their summer and having a good labor day weekend.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Beaucolic Maine

Maine is a beautiful place. This past week we took our second vacation to the New England state, caught up with friends and enjoyed the quiet.

One of the big highlights of our trip this year was that we went to see and stay in friend SLO's new house (she's about 1 1/2 hours north of Portland on one of the coastal peninsulas).

She arrived at the house about a week before we did to move in and start to clean up. The house is 200+ years old and just adorable. She has water access, 5 wooded acres, and the house sits up on a bit of a hill surrounded by wildflowers. It is the most adorable thing ... makes me want to pick up and move to Maine. (Of course I realize I've only seen Maine in July and August and the winter is just a bit different). The ruralness of this part of the state is so appealing to me though ... very relaxing.

That lovely view is the meadow next to her house which she gets to look at outside her kitchen window. Pretty nice hmm?

That's S, another of our friends, and SLO after dinner one night.

Of course, I should disclose that our vacation included a bit of elbow grease too. We offered to help SLO paint the exterior of said 200 year old farmhouse. That picture is after we had finished ripping off the remainder of vinyl siding (the easy parts of which were removed about three years ago), taken down the guttering, and scraped off all the old paint. That scaffolding got moved around a lot and was the best tool we invested in all week!

After filling in all the holes in the wood, caulking all the seams of the house, replacing several clabbards, and priming, the house started coming together. After a good coat of paint, re-screened doors, replaced gutters and several other side projects we ended up with the beauty you see in the top picture. A beautiful home for sure!

Of course, no trip to Maine would be complete without lobster either!

S and I can't wait for our next trip!

Monday, July 27, 2009


When Lady Eleanor was making the rounds, I managed to miss the train. On Friday, some friends asked me if I could help them learn entrelac. I love to learn something new and help out, so off to the learning process I went. There are some good tutorials out there already (here and here) but I felt compelled to take photos of my process as I went along anyway.

Curious about how an entrelac scarf looks as we go along? It's kind of like sausage... you may not want to see the messy process but the outcome is all nice and tidy. And with that type of introduction....

I'm using Allison LoCicero's Entrelac Scarf pattern. Here's the process of my learning.

After casting on 24 stitches normally, you create three triangles to start. This serves as a bit of a set up "row".

One ...

This is where things are going to feel wierd to the newbie. You have 8 stitches caught up in the triangle and 16 stitches are just hanging out there doing nothing. Then it's time to do triangle Two ...

Now you start to see what's happening. You have little triange that are attached at the tail.

Then three ...

From here the patterns repeats two "tiers" over and over in alternation.

Tier 1 involves a triangle ...

then a square (or really more of a rectangle or parallelogram if you look closely) ...

then a second square ...

and then a final triangle...

You have a full width scarf now, but it doesn't really look like it. You really need to finish more to see the effect.

Tier 2 involves three squares knit one after the other, all the same...

Here's where I am with the starter triangle row, two Tier 1s, and two Tier 2s ...

You can definitely see the pattern clearly now and get a sense of what the final scarf will be like. An interesting technique with lots of depth.

It seems a little strange at the start with all the short rows and the incomplete sections (especially on the triangle row you start with and the first tier 1, but after you get the sense of where things are going, no difficulties. At first I had to pay alot of attention to when to turn and when not to, when I was to pick up and purl versus pick up and knit. Now, even after this little progress, it makes sense. I've even found myself not really needing to count rows. Once you know what's going on, the end of a square or triangle becomes obvious. The pattern is nice because you can follow the instructions literally until you get the idea then you can just use it as a reminder later.

Bring on the students!

Yarn: Plymouth Boku
Ravelry'd here

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Crochet to the market

Yes my friends, I've engaged in crochet once again. I find it a nice diversion from my other knitting project right now which is miles, and miles (and did I mention miles) of stockinette stitch. Since that isn't all that exciting to show or talk about, I haven't blogged it yet. Hopefully it will look like something other than a blob before too much longer and will be blog worthy.

This stroll down the dark side came in the form of a market bag ... another easy beginner pattern.

After all, who ever has enough bags for produce from the farmer's market?

Crochet Grocery Bag by by Haley Waxberg
F 3.75 mm crochet hook
Lily Sugar'n Cream Solid
Colorway: hot purple and soft ecru
<1 skein of ecru and most of the skein of purple
Cast on July 17, 2009
Finished July 22, 2009

Mods: I accidently made more dcs into the initial circle and ended up with 10 spaces so I just kept with that which made the whole bag a bit wider (45 spaces at the widest). I also extended the handles to 44 chains so it would fit on my shoulder. Last, even though the pattern doesn't specify color changes, I used the ecru for rows 17-24 (of 28) for a bit of color contrast, rather than purple throughout.

Ravelry details here.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Hard work

Who said summer is a time for vacation? They lied. S and I have been doing too much hard work this summer. This weekend was definitely the most labor intensive weekend thus far this summer as we re-did our back patio.

When we first landscaped our yard, hmmm 3 years ago I guess, we jackhammered out an old ugly concrete patio and saved the concrete pieces to use like flagstones. We planted small ground cover between the stones. That looked great for a while ... but then the clover came. I don't know if you've ever had a clover invasion, but it takes over everything ... the ground cover didn't stand a chance. Once the plants and the clover were dead, we had dirt. Not very pretty. We've been talking about fixing this problem for some time and S decided this weekend it was time.

So first we removed all the concrete.

Then we added some sand and added all the concrete back.

Then we added more sand between the concrete.

Then we finished up with river stones between the concrete.

Thank god the final product looks decent, because it is hard work to carry, move, dump, spread, and otherwise manipulate concrete, sand, and stone. And did I mention that I got above 100 degrees F this weekend?

I'm ready to just sit around in the yard for awhile.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Crochet... who me?

Yes me! Three weeks ago (wow, time does fly), the owner of my new favorite LYS, the PurlSide, had a crochet class. I've been wanting to learn to crochet so I could do just this hat, the Inauguration Chapeau, designed by a blogger I follow regularly, Ellen Bloom.

For my first ever crochet project, I'm pretty pleased with how this turned out! I had to rip back almost to the start the first time I began the hat just because of beginner's stupidity in interpreting the pattern (there are 12 posts -- vertical stripes that go from crown to brim on the hat... I amazingly turned that into 24 and had a very frilly placemat going for while!). With a little help from the girls at my weekly knit-night, I got back on track and a short time later had this divine little hat.

Thanks for such a super pattern Ellen!

Inauguration Chapeau by Ellen Bloom
US US 5 / 3.75 mm, US 6 / 4.0 mm, US 8 / 5.0 mm, and a US 9 / 5.5 mm crochet hook
Patons Classic Wool Merino
Colorway: leaf green
<1 skein
Cast on June 18, 2009
Finished July 6, 2009

Ravelry details here.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Chicken coop city around here!

So as I mentioned in a previous post, last weekend the chicks made their big move from the house (inside) to the outside. That meant we had to take the four walls we had been using as an indoor coop, add to them a floor and roof, and, oh yeah, take it outside.

This is the house itself at the end of our first day of work. Cute I think. You can see the big door -- the people door -- that's for us to get in and out to clean the house and refill food and water. At the bottom left is where the pop door for the chickens is. In the picture above you can just see where the hole is; we actually have a flat door that slides in from the left to right to cover the door hole and close up the house.

After a second full day of work, we also had a run!

The idea here is that during the day the girls will have the "run" of both the house and the run and at night we'll be able to securely shut them up into the house to sleep.

You can see in this last picture that they are just as happy as can be in the run, scratching at the dirt. Dirt baths have become a BIG favorite around here too.

It was quite hard for me to actually move them outside. I really gained some appreciation for the concept of an empty nest. The first couple of nights I slept in the back room with the windows open so I could hear if they called out in distress. I'm happy to report though that they have taken to the outside like pros. They seem very happy with the extra room and like traveling back and forth between the house and run.

So our urban homestead seems to be in full swing now. Here we are, garden and chickens all residing next to our patio and deck. Gotta love it!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Textured Shawl done

Yes... it may seem miraculous... but in the blog silence I have done a small, very small, amount of knitting. And here to prove it is my most recent finished object, the Textured Shawl.

Years ago, I purchased 2 skeins of super soft suri merino as a yarn souvenir during a trip to Philadelphia. A few weeks ago, it suddenly dawned on me that the textured shawl would be perfect for it … a pattern already in my favs on Ravelry and designed for this exact yarn.

The pattern is essentially a recipe and is easy, with great results.

And the shawl, super warm and soft.

I was excited that when I finished this girl up we had the trip to Crystal Cove State Park scheduled. It was the perfect place for a photo shoot and we had perfect weather for it. We took photos early in the morning when we still had the marine layer, nice and overcast and just cool enough, even though it was June.

Looking for a good way to use up some special wool? This one is a winner!

Textured Shawl recipe (free pattern on ravelry) by Orlane
US 9 circulars
Blue Sky Alpacas Suri Merino
Colorway: garden (an emerald green)
2 skeins (and I used every inch... ok, I literally had one inch of yarn left when I was done... I had to use the cast on tail to finish binding off!)
Cast on May 28, 2009
Finished June 18, 2009

Ravelry details here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

3 weeks

and finally a post! That is a very sad record for me. Lucky for you I'm going to have several in a row. First a couple of catch ups and then a FO!

And where do we start with the catch up... well with growing chickens of course!

The girls are about 9 weeks old now! Crazy old ... it's hard to believe. If you're any judge of chickens and remember past posts on the girls, you'll also realize what we have come to understand. Our buff orpingtons, not so much orpingtons. Our best guess at this point is that we have two lovely rhode island reds.

At least we were right about the barred rocks. And these two girls, they have gotten huge!

This is S's favorite thing (and really mine) right now too... the morning frolic with the girls. They are really a bit tired of their little house and ready to move outside permanently. Our plan is to make that transition later this week. In the meantime, for entertainment, they get the run of the kitchen a couple times a day. This basically involves me putting a big pile of zucchini, spinach, lettuce, or some other veggie down for them and then them running crazy around the kitchen. Very entertaining.

Other than chicken time (and the dreaded work... which I am not currently enjoying and will not discuss fo fear of depressing the whole world), the other fun, fun thing we did recently was take a trip to the beach. Two nights at Crystal Cove State Park in southern California (this is close to Newport Beach for those with the geography). We love this little place.

We watched lots of sunsets (well OK only two, but it felt like lots) ...

and took lots of walks and runs on the beach. A great spot. Check it out if you're close by.

Lucky for me, the beach made a great spot for a photo shot of my most recent FO -- the textured shawl. I'll post that soon. Yummy suri merino -- stay tuned! And of course... more chicken fun to come as well!