Saturday, September 26, 2015


I'm testing a new camera.
So far, the results are inconsistent.

In a batch of snaps taken between house and barn yesterday,
fewer than half turned out as planned.

Azalea explains,
"Surprises are all very well in their way, but we require consistency in some areas. In photography, for example, we have very clear ideas about the images we seek to record."

 "Or, for a more pertinent example where consistency is critical,
let's talk about the supply of carrot pennies.
Yes, let's talk about that."

Ahem. Yes. Thank you for that insight, Azalea.
(Stops typing to scribble "carrots" on grocery list.)

I must set aside time for a careful test, under various conditions.
It's on the Weekend List.

I hope it will be a long weekend,
because it certainly is a long list.

Meanwhile, here's a picture of Fern (left) and Tansy (right),
choosing the Perfect Spot to lie down atop one of the old wells.

These girls turned 5 months old last week!
To refresh your memory,
here they are on the same well cover, in May:

Time flies.

As do baby goats, remember?


I hope your Saturday becomes a day to remember -
in a good way.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

fun tip

Did you know you can sign up for alerts - on your email or by text - for when the International Space Station will be passing overhead in any location you choose? Such as where you live? Or in a location where you plan to be, say, camping under the Big Big Sky somewhere on Earth?

Yep. Here you go: NASA ISS Alerts.

And in case you'd like a little graphic to explain how to use the alerts to know exactly where the ISS will appear on your very own horizon, and in what direction it will be travelling in a vast arc across the heavens, here's the picture that explains it.

It's truly exciting to see that little light crossing the sky, and suddenly feel a real-time connection to the International Space Station and the people living there. And it's so, so, so much easier than going to Astronaut School.

Have fun!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

everything put together falls apart*

Several things are falling apart at the same time here.
The good news is, they are things.

You already know about my trusty little camera. (Replacement ordered, arrangements made to recycle the one that's retiring.)
You may have heard me muttering about the laptop which has been a daily aggravation for a year. (Planned to replace it this month; now reconsidering.)
I can barely bring myself to type the words, but the Little Green SportsWagon - my faithful draftpony 2000 Elantra Wagon  - may need to be replaced before Winter; definitely by next Spring.
And yesterday, mid-cycle, my washing machine stopped washing.**

Good golly Miss Molly.

Deep breath.

Things. Not people, and thank goodness not animals. Just. Things.

Still, in an effort to bring some balance to my little universe, I'm going to spend this afternoon working on some sort of project I can tackle without spending any money. Fortunately, there are plenty to choose from :)

~ Wishing you a peaceful Sunday ~


*post title borrowed from Paul Simon

** That dyed jacket? Still soaking wet. There's just no substitute for the spin cycle, is there? ;)

Saturday, September 19, 2015

saturday swatch

I did something funny last night.

Remember those six little samples of yarn, several yards of each?

I swatched them all.

I cast on the first sample just because it is hard to handle a new yarn and not put it on needles.

Plus, I wanted to see if my fingers would still work with needles the diameter of toothpicks. They would. They did.

And those first few rows of 30 tidy little stitches were so entertaining, I decided to continue and knit all the samples, making a note about which fiber was which. Because this is all in aid of the Big Decision for the next dyepot.

The entire finished swatch was about three by seven inches; half the size of a typical swatch for one yarn.

The little stripes indicate where the samples are linked by their individual pre-dyed wrapping strands. The result reminded me of those packets of jelly candies we used to buy when I was little. Do you know the ones I mean? There were five or six in a packet.

After noting some differences in the yarn as I knitted, and feeling differences in the texture of the knitted fabric - although certainly a "real" swatch would make this much easier! - I decided to wash the swatch to see if each fiber would bloom. Why not?

And this afternoon when I finally began a long-delayed project of overdyeing a plaid cotton jacket, I thought, "Why not take the tiny swatch experiment as far as possible?" and added it to the dyebucket. Not looking for quantitative information; just taking an opportunity to quickly see what the variability might be for uptake of dye.

Do you think there'd be much difference?

When all six sample yarns are based on two breeds of sheep?

Go on, take a guess.

And by the way, the bottom-most sections are the two I was initially trying to choose between.

ETA: the top four sections are merino yarns, the bottom two are British Bluefaced Leicester.

And for the truly hardcore: the 4-ply BFL was knit on US size 0 needles (2mm) while the 3-ply Sport merino was knit on US size 1 needles (2.25mm)

Dyeing is sooooo interesting!

I hope your Saturday has also been colorful and informative.

The jacket is having a second trip through the washing machine, to remove any excess dye. If I can get a few more pictures from my poor camera (the ones about took several attempts) I will post before and after snaps when the jacket is dry tomorrow. My goal was to tone down a squintingly-bright red plaid (with blue, green, and yellow components) into a deep brown fabric with subtle green tones.
Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

choose 1, times 2

Top of my to-do list today: choose replacement for nearly-defunct camera. The research has been going on for several weeks, and I've narrowed it to three models. I am so tired of "shopping," even online.

My little camera has served me very well. I'll miss it. Here's one reason why: I took both these snaps from my chair in the Upper West Side paddock. One right after the other. Snap-snap.

See that yellow oval?
(It was easier than an arrow.)

Here's what's in it:

Not a tremendously sharp image, it's true.
But not too shabby for a camera that fits in my pocket.


In other news, I'm planning a dyepot before the month is out.
Perhaps using "ordinary" dyes instead of botanicals this time...

but haven't made up my mind yet.
Because first, I have to choose the base yarn.

I've been pondering this for a few weeks,
and finally had it narrowed down to two.

(Just noticed a pattern developing here.)

I emailed the seller, who I've not bought from in several years.
Asked if I might have a few sample yards of each of the 2 bases.
(There is a minimum purchase amount - a kilo - 
so this is a big decision/investment for me.)

The owner kindly sent the two samples,
each one wrapped with a tiny dyed sample of that base.
Which is just brilliant.
Dyeing is always an adventure,
but it's nice to start with a clue of how the yarn may behave.

And because Sheila knew what I was looking for in a base,
she also sent four more samples.

It was like getting surprise candy samples in the mail.

And because I know there are fiber folk reading this blog,
and some of you are dye-dabblers like myself,
I'm including a link and a shout-out to Sheila at

Thanks so much, Sheila.
I have now narrowed my choices down.
To three.

P.S. Do you sell cameras?

Monday, September 7, 2015

invisible goats

Invisible Violet.

Invisible Dara.

 Invisible Fern.

Exciting news: I have discovered my superpower.
I can see invisible goats.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

new perennials

Thanks to Wendy's recent garden post, I discovered a new flower to marvel at: Helenium autumnale. I found it right away on one of the online (but off-my-budget) nurseries, and chose my favorite: Ruby Tuesday.

Then I headed for my "local" feedstore (the one that is only 25 minutes away). Before I even began looking for replacement goat collars - the "real" reason for making the trip - I searched hopefully through their last table of lonely perennials.

And found the exact one I was looking for!

 And I do mean "one" - there was ONE plant!

I hastily loaded it into my little shopping cart, and then, in a fit of elation that translated into spendiness, added a Rudbeckia.
It was labelled "perennial" - not all of them are in my area -
and I hope very much that it will be.
Because it is stunning:

The brown tones of this flower are so deep and rich!
I collect images of brown flowers on one of my pinterest boards, but this is the first one I have in my own garden.
Very exciting! 

The Helenium looks a bit stressed, but considering it has been in a pot for who knows how long - several hot and humid months, I suppose -
I think it's done very well for itself.

As of this morning, the plants are neighbors in a mostly-sunny spot, where they can put down more roots (between the rocks, but still better than a pot) and continue to bloom as long as they like this year.

And - I hope - 
grow to new heights and widths and flowery profusion next year.

You know, I had intended to make this post a
"Wordless Wednesday."

But I just couldn't do it!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

september begins

Yesterday was the last day of #drawingAugust, so from the moment I woke up, I was planning to head to the woods. It took 13 hours to manage it, but at last, just before evening chores, Piper and I visited a favorite place.

A path takes us near a little stream, once dammed and channeled with huge stones, and used to power a long-forgotten mill. We often come here. You've seen lots of photographs from this area, but drawing bits of it has been a new experience for me. I think if it was on my property, this very small section of a tiny stream could provide daily inspiration for a lifetime.

Welcome to yesterday's studio:

(It was a two-cushion day.)

Piper and I have been playing little games while I draw.
Can you tell the games include Very Good Treats?

(Hint: the blurry tail is a clue.)

The rocks where I made my not-quite-zero-gravity-recliner
are part of the stone-edged millstream
below the remaining stonework of the dam.

Much earlier, I drew a section of the top of the dam.
Here's that one:

But yesterday I was well downstream,
atop one steep wall of stone,
looking down into one small section of stream.

I began by drawing the stone wall,
then expanded into the midstream rocks below:

Sorry about the wonky shadows;
the light is very spotty under the canopy.

But the sun was going down behind my left shoulder,
so the lateral light got much better as time went on:

Piper and I made up a new game yesterday.
Piper learned that if I tossed a treat
all the way across the stream,
she would have to run upstream along the stones,
then cross near the dam,
then find the little treat on the vast forest floor
and gobble it up!

Piper was very, very good at this.
And she enjoyed it so much, she would then reverse her route,
come back and plop down right next to me,
and look like this:

The game allowed me to concentrate for a few minutes at a time,
and finish the sketch before we went for a walk.

But before I packed up my pen and sketchbook
and water bottle and bug spray
(and "furniture"...
gosh it feels weird carrying cushions into the woods)
I took this final snap to post on twitter:

It really has been fun.
I missed a day or two here and there,
but I think I posted 25 sketches.
Not bad for a photographer.

Although - ironically - the pictures I posted
are almost universally terrible.
I've never shared such awful snaps, ever.
Not in draft documents, not in emails.

Usually I was taking the pictures late at night,
by the bedside lamp,
and hastening to get them onto twitter.
But still.
It's very strange.
I'll have to think about the significance of this.
Now that #drawingAugust 2015 has ended,
perhaps I'll photograph the sketches properly.
Possibly I'll put them all up on a separate, single blog page,
just as a record of the experience.