Thursday, March 23, 2023

let the bind-off begin

Yesterday I tried to capture the floppy-bushel-basket-ness of the current hap.

Here it is, slumped in a heap:

And here it is being held up by the chair:

And this is all I can see while I'm knitting:

Well, that's not *all* I can see. I can also see this:

Because if there is a goat nearby when I sit in this chair in the barn paddock, she or he will climb up on the rock I use as a footrest, to see what I'm up to. And when Violet saw this huge sack, she thought it might be full of carrot pennies and peanuts.

I told her, Sorry, but no. 

There will be peanuts after evening chores, as usual.

"I know you're busy, don't interrupt what you're doing with those sticks.
I'll just have a little look, shall I?"

I suppose it never hurts to check.

The hap is ready to bind off, with 624 stitches on the last few rows. Binding off may take a while, but I'm looking forward to blocking this and seeing it all clean and tidy and stretched out evenly. I hope I like it. If not, I'll have to knit another one. This is a really nice project for nor'easter/insomniac/stop-worrying knitting, whether for 20 minutes or for 4 hours at a stretch. Toward the end I was going slowly to make it last. But now: starting the bind-off.


Thursday, March 16, 2023

variations on a theme

layers revealed in an eroded shell

layers revealed in a sectioned shell


a view of Stonehenge

an alternate view of Stonehenge

Daily Markmaking continues.
What daily practices help keep you focused, sane, alive?


Saturday, March 11, 2023

fiber forecast

 More snow last night and today. This time, very wet and heavy.

The goats are all starting to shed their cashmere undercoats. In every year past, I've started combing Acer by late February. Within a couple of weeks, several others have shed enough for a first combing. I try to keep up, doing a bit every day, because once all the goats have reached what an unkind observer might call "the ragbag stage," it's easy to get overwhelmed.

This year is different. I felt sorry for the goats having to carry their cashmere during that crazy warm December, and by January, I was already seeing bits of cashmere hanging off the ends of horns after a goat had had a little scritch. Starting to drop cashmere in January?!

Now that we've finally been getting lots of snow and consistently cold weather, the goats are using their cashmere for its original purpose and I have postponed taking it from them. There's a time between the cashmere "disconnecting" and falling or being rubbed off by a goat, so there's been some leeway. But the forecast for the next 10 days is considerably warmer, so it's time to wave a comb over a couple of goats who have wisps of cashmere literally hanging off their topcoats. 

In related news (it is, you'll see), a few weeks ago I decided to try to use up the Shetland yarn left after knitting the first and second haps. By making a third hap. 

And because I wanted it to be distinct from the two special gift haps, I added one dyed color to the natural yarn palette, and also created my own stripe sequence. And I'm making it a good bit larger.

The way this pattern works: after knitting the center as a flat diagonal diamond, all the edge stitches are picked up on a circular needle and the rest of the hap is knit in the round and becomes a large and unwieldy knitted sack. Try to imagine knitting up something the size of a very floppy bushel basket, of which one can only clearly see the top edge. So there's not much sense of how the finished item is going to look when it's ultimately off the needle and spread out for blocking.

In other words, my stripe sequence may turn out to be rubbish. But there's no point in worrying about it, because we'll find out soon enough.

I always like to wrap up a knitting project before cashmere harvesting begins (see how we're getting back to the goats?), because when I'm using my hands for slowly combing goats every day for weeks on end, knitting must be backburnered until the combs are scrubbed and tucked away for another year.

This hap could have been done and washed and blocked in February if I hadn't decided to make it so big. But the end is in sight, in part because I don't want to leave this massive project gathering dust while I comb goats. And in part because the stitch count increases by eight on every other row and there is a limit to how many stitches can be functionally crammed onto one needle. 

Speaking of goats, it's time for evening chores - which I can now start after 5 PM without bringing a flashlight. I really enjoy this part of the orbit!

I hope you are having a weekend as magical as a snowfall.


Saturday, March 4, 2023

the week in wilds

 View this morning:

Today is going to be spent quietly, and every tiny task crossed off the list will be celebrated with a sense of accomplishment out of all proportion to the actual endeavor. It's been a challenging week, and I am not feeling my best. I intend to be as kind to myself as I would be to someone else. It's an experiment.

Meanwhile, here are a few images of visitors to the Wildlife Area,
 taken over the past week:

A chickadee, the official Commonwealth Bird, 
about to fly off with a sunflower seed.

A bluebird(!) waiting for a turn at the water basin or a feeder.

Two mourning doves resting in the young maple.

And three varieties of woodpecker!

"Hairy Woodpecker"

"Downy Woodpecker"

"Red-bellied Woodpecker" 

The lack of imagination - and observational skill - and relevance! - involved in the "common naming" of woodpeckers has always baffled me. I am sure we can do better.
Let's think about it, shall we?

And finally, although it IS snowing at the moment and has BEEN snowing for many hours, it has NOT snowed every day this past week. So here is one character who lacks neither observational skills nor imagination:

grey squirrel

I'm so glad the red squirrels and grey squirrels seem to have reached an agreement to coexist here in peace. I have even watched one grey squirrel and one red squirrel play together, and I watched them for quite a while before feeling convinced that's what they were doing. Made me very happy.

I hope you're weekend is shaping nicely!


Wednesday, March 1, 2023

marching on

 I've lost track of the snowstorms.

We are having Winter at last!

It's a relief, really. 

A relief to have snow at a time of year when snow is expected. An actual pleasure to have a cold day followed by another cold day. (Did I mention that this year I was still showering outdoors in late December because every other day felt like October?) And ice-crusted snow that is hazardous for a human to walk on and a problem even for goats. (I admit I could do without the ice. I've often said I'd rather have two feet of snow than a quarter-inch of ice, and it's true.)

There's plenty of food for cats and humans in the cupboard and freezer. Plenty of organic feed for the hens. And plenty of seeds and mealworms and suet for the wilds.

There's still enough hay for at least a week before I have to get another truck up the driveway, hopefully after a brief thaw and before another snowfall. So I'm not going to worry about that today.

You know the expression "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof"? 

I think sufficient is also the good thereof.

I think life is plenty hard
and plenty good.