I regularly look at my local library for books. Via the Libby App, I also use two other library systems I’m not local to, but use with my Kindle.
Sometimes I find the books I’m looking for aren’t available. This usually means that they have been checked out. But you almost always have the option to place a hold, then when it comes in, the app automatically checks the book out and emails you.
This week I hit the jackpot. I guess. Three books I previously requested all became available. And, were auto-checked out to me. Yay. Except I had just checked out a book! Now I have four books to read in three weeks. This is the curse of the place hold button. Better step up my reading game.
Over the Holiday break, my mom drove down and brought my nephew, Anthony, with her. It was an extra treat for me to have both of them. Anthony is a sweet, creative, gentle boy with too much energy to be confined inside.
The first morning they were here I got up and went to let out the chickens as normal around 7am. Just as I was walking to the coop Anthony came barreling out the door with a long sleeve shirt in hand and one shoe still not on. He desperately wanted to go see the chickens with me! I said I would wait until he was properly clothed. Makes me laugh even now.
Dressed now, we headed up the hill. I let the chickens out of the coop and after they all ran out I teased him he would have to clean up the chicken poo. He, of course, was not interested in that. He only had eyes for the chickens, I’d say he had already caught the Chicken Fever after only one night here.
We had really nice weather, most of the day’s mom and Anthony were here it was in the upper 50’s and low 60’s. This was so nice because we spent a good amount of time outside. Which, of course, meant lots of time with chickens. He got up the nerve to pick up one of the chickens and he snagged Agnes! She is an Ameraucana and is very sweet and gentle.
After just a few days he was very comfortable with the chickens. He gave them snacks every day. He even hunted the dirt for worms to give them. No doubt he would be a great Chicken Keeper. Katie? Andy? What do you think? Can he come to live here and take care of the chickens? I’m sure he wouldn’t even mind cleaning up the poo! He loved collecting all the eggs and was very excited about the blue ones. He asked if he could take home some eggs for mom and dad. He also ate eggs almost every day while here. He knew exactly which chicken gifted the egg he was eating. I’m sure that makes them taste better.
As I’m writing this I’m watching the chickens via a closed circuit camera. I’m doing this because I’m trying to determine which one of my True Blues are laying. Currently, Louise, the chicken that was broody last fall and then molted, is in a nesting box. I really thought the blue egg layer was Kittie as she did not molt. Having said that subconsciously I must have thought really it was Louise because that is who I marked as laying in my chart as well as writing her name on the eggs.
A bit of egg-laying background. As the days get shorter chickens lay fewer eggs and some stop laying all together. The end of November we saw a definite decline in egg laying in our hen house. You know, just as Chuck starts doing extra baking of cookies, cakes, and bread. Hens do not lay eggs in the dark, so with the shorter days leading up to the Winter Solstice, this is normal for egg-laying. Now that we are on the other side of the solstice the days are beginning to get longer and therefore more eggs begin to be laid.
The nesting boxes have been like Grand Central Station today. So far I have an egg from Agnes, Ida, and Coco. Louise is still sitting in a box, she has been in and out for the last hour or so. She has been in four different boxes. I guess she is trying to get inspired. Perhaps Kittie has been the layer, and now with Lou, maybe I’ll get two True Blue eggs today. Yesterday I collected my first Cuckoo Maran egg from Gertrude since November!
I’ll keep watching while I do my chores. I hope today is another 5 egg day. We have had three of those this week. For the last month, we’ve been averaging 2 eggs a day. I actually had to buy a couple dozen eggs. With the longer days it will make for busier chickens.
Come for a visit and see if you catch the Chicken Fever, too! We will see how contagious it is with my brother-in-law, Pete, and his family here this weekend. Then the following weekend my oldest two boys, Charlie and Ricky, arrive from Michigan. Also, Charlie’s girlfriend, Agatha, is coming with them. Charlie said she wants to learn to knit, I can definitely help with that, and I think she is the most likely to catch Chicken Fever. I’m looking forward to these visits!
I’m not really the type to set New Year’s resolutions. I always want to be working on bettering myself and our quality of life. I know I need to do things like exercise more, eat healthily and be more patient, always.
So rather than specifically have a resolution here are the things I want to focus on;
make the most of our acre and grow food, and actually eat it
focus on getting chemicals and toxins out of my life, that means you too, diet Pepsi
find my people, I’ve been a hermit this past year
In a nutshell, we are already planning what we want to grow, will refocus on shopping places like the local farmers market and the newly opened Earth Fare, clean up our eating with help from the previous two, and put myself out more in the knitting world and visit my family.
Short and sweet with the intent of accountability. Next time I’ll tell you a bit about my nephew’s visit with my mom. Anthony, too, is a huge fan of our chickens.
Until then I’m off to measure my gauge swatches on my January Gansey for the knit along I joined.
Happy Knitting, gardening, cooking or whatever brings you joy.
We had our first snow of the season last Sunday. It didn’t begin to stick until we had a few inches. So even though we had about four inches it was rather sparse on the ground. It was still beautiful.
The previous day Chuck had trimmed some holly bushes and I used the trimmings to add into the pots and window boxes to bring some Christmas cheer to the curb appeal of our house.
I knew I wanted to add some pine branches in and I considered picking some up when we were at Sam’s Club but I really didn’t want to pay for them. We have many Pine trees in the neighborhood and I thought I might ask one of the neighbors if I could trim some branches from theirs. As luck would have it, with the weight of the snow there were several downed branches from pine trees laying around on the sides of the road. Tim and I stopped and pick up several of the smaller ones. I popped them in the pots with the Hollys and I love how they look.
Let’s talk about a different type of snowflakes. Crocheted snowflakes! I purchased some of these charming snowflakes in the past at craft fairs in New Mexico. I previously hung them, with my particularly tall daughter’s help, from the sky light over our kitchen island. In our new house I needed a new way to display them. I decided to hang them from the window valance in our main living room. it has a large picture window and looks over our backyard. I had the perfect amount for that window. I hung them with command hooks and fishing line. They are so enchanting here. I really wanted to hang them from all our windows! But I didn’t have a source to purchase them here in Virgina.
Now you must understand that I don’t really crochet.I’m really just a knitter. In fact I thought I was rather terrible at crochet. But I started researching for some patterns. I thought if I could fund some simple ones at least I’d give it ago. I came across this book on Ravelry, 100 Snowflakes. I was able to find it for purchase on Amazon and immediately ordered it.
Much to my surprise its very well written. It has written patterns as well as charted patterns for each snowflake. There pictured steps of each crochet stitch in the beginning of the book for quick reference. The snowflakes are grouped by Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. I began with Snowflake #1 and have currently worked through Snowflake #48. I’m proud to say my crochet skills have grown as I’ve moved through the book. I’m using Aunt Lydia’s #10 crochet thread and a size US 6 crochet hook.
In order for the snowflakes to really shine they need to be blocked with starch. Starch is surprisingly hard to find now a days. I looked at both Target and Walmart. There was spray starch but I needed the liquid kind so I could soak each snowflake and then pin it out. Amazon to the rescue. I ended up ordering Aleene’s Starch from Amazon. This is the exact starch suggested in the book.
Today I started blocking the snowflakes. It’s going to take a few rounds as I don’t have enough T-pins. I used some push pins put that doesn’t work as well since I can’t see the finer details because the pins take up more the visual space.
It’s been fun and I want to make all 100! I’m not sure that will happen before this Christmas because I just purchased a Snowman pattern by Susan B. Anderson that I really would like to work on.
What came first, the egg or the chicken? In our case it was the chicken. We have ten of the twelve we originally started with. Shortly said, we had one chicken that developed a cross beak and she was unable to eat enough to sustain life and she went to chicken Heaven. Bea was very friendly and sweet as could be. You can see a short video of her looking for me on Instagram here.
Then there is Frida. Frida was one of two straight run Polish Crested Chickens we purchased. These were the only straight runs we bought, all others were sexed and determined to be pullets or female. They were an, OMG! they’re so cute, impulse buy. We knew we had a chance of having one and possibly two roosters. But I was optimistic and named one Frida and the other Ester.
And, yes, I’ve been told Ester should have an H and it’s spelled ESTHER. Having said that, I don’t care, I have spent my life spelling my name (and the names of our kids) so why not give sweet, little, Ester her own spelling, too?
Anyway, I’m telling you about Frida. Frida turned out to be Fred. When I told this to my son, Rick, he asked why I needed to change the name just because the chicken was now known to be a boy? He was right, damn it! Gender equality and self identifying for everyone and I kept referring to him as “her” anyway. SO, Frida the Rooster was hence forth known as the Drag Queen Rooster, Frida!
You might note- Frida as some Purple feathers. Well, Frida is all black except for the feathers on the very back of her head, those are white. When the hens weren’t pulling every damn one of the white feathers out! I swear. She looked like a Friar, no pun intended. So I kept spraying the white feathers with a thing called Blue Coat which is an antiseptic for animals. The spray dyes the skin blue and as it happens, white feathers purple.
As we moved further into the summer and the chickens were all reaching maturity, eggs were getting laid and Frida was getting frisky. The more Frida matured, the more aggressive she became. That in itself isn’t a bad thing. She protected her flock. Frida gave Cali (one of our dogs) a lesson in messing with chickens 101 and as a result she now has a very healthy respect for chicken personal space. Eventually Frida decided she didn’t like me collecting eggs and started kicking dirt and jumping at me. This continued to progress and I researched how to handle it. In spite of my efforts she became very agressive and even drew some blood from me. It seemed she was destined to go live on a farm somewhere.
So Chuck listed Frida on the Williamsburg Trash and Treasure FB Group and someone called and said he would like Frida, he was hoping to cross breed with his hens and see what interesting mixes a Polish Crested would bring to his farm. Off Frida went. And peace reigned in the run again.
That’s how we ended up here, months later with a Broody Hen and no fertilized eggs for her to hatch. Instead she has been spending the better part of two months sitting in nesting boxes whether they actually had any eggs or not. She has long since stopped laying herself, which is too bad because she lays pretty blue eggs. She is one of two True Blue Whitings we have and her name is Louise. She is a pretty yellow and golden brown and very sweet. I removed her from the nesting box several times each day and at night to put her on a roost. She never stays out long.
Today. Today I took drastic measures. It’s a brisk 55 degrees and sunny. After spending lots of time debating on different ideas I decided to take the plunge, well for Louise to take the plunge actually. It is recommended to but a broody chicken in cold water with the thought that this will lower their body temperature (which is elevated when the go Broody.) I put her in a big bucket of cold water and held her there for 4 minutes. At first she was very unhappy but quickly relaxed and waited it out. Once I released her she ran off and spent quite a long time preening herself and fluffing all her feathers as they dried.
I also decided to “lock” her out of the chicken run all day in hopes the colder day would aid in the cooling of her temperature. Since the gate is shut I have had to play gate keeper to the hens in order for the other hens to have access to the nesting boxes, since they are still laying. I haves pent the better part of the day outside or looking out windows to see who is trying to get in the run. And unfortunately Lou has been up there more than I had hoped. I keep chasing her off and she goes but reluctantly.
Maybe I should have kept my Attack Drag Queen Rooster and let her hatch some. Maybe next time I’ll ask Stephanie to purchase some fertilized eggs from her friend on my behalf.
Today is the first sunny day after rain on and off for the last few so the chickens have found a nice sunny, dry spot to take a dust bath. Click this link to watch a couple minute video. If you haven’t seen chickens dust bathing they look rather strange. I find it entertaining and I’m sure you will, too.
If you give a mouse a cookie and all, then if you finish a shawl, you will probably begin a shawl. At least that is what I did.
I just finished the Maighdeann-ròin, the Seal Maiden, by Nat Raewulf. I made my with three colors, one was a lovely salmon pink tonal and the other two both had this color but one was mostly grey with speckles and the other pink, white and black. I typically am a matchy-match girl when it comes to colors so throwing in the mostly grey skein was a bit out of my comfort zone. I should clarify it’s not that it doesn’t match exactly……More that it evokes a different feeling. I’m not really explaining it right. I typically would have chosen a tonal in another solid color. Perhaps it that I would never have put the grey with the black together. I was really drawn into that grey one with how the yellow pops against the pink.
And here’s the thing. Now that the shawl is finished I actually really like the grey one better than the black, pink and white skein. So now the odd one out feels like its no longer the grey but instead the black. Funny how that happens.
Overall, I really like the finished shawl. I like the way the long tails curly-cue. I so wish I add made the picot edge more pronounced, it seems to need a more substantial defining edge. I used the backwards edge cast on and it wasn’t a good choice. I may go back and remove this and redo it but in reality of taking time to do this I probably will not.
That is this one. It is The River of Dreams by Lauren Rene. This shawl was specially designed for the LYS store, The Flying Needles, anniversary. I also got a special color way dyed yarn made just for this shop. The shawl uses 5 colors. Mine starts with a darker blue-turquoise working through to lighter and lighter turquoise to mostly white. I thought the blues was a nice choice for a shawl with river in the name.
The shawl is a big rectangle with a panel of lace and faux cables. I haven’t made a rectangle shawl in awhile so it will be nice for tv watching as there wont’t be any changes in stitch count.
I haven’t shown you a competed picture go my Magic Stripes scarf finished so I’m popping one here.
We live in a very social neighborhood. There’s always something going on. This month was the Trunk-or-Treat and we decided to give it ago as I mentioned earlier. I did the Witch’s Apothecary. I’ve set up my this before as part of our Halloween decorations.
For Apothecary supplies I use a lot of things we already have in the house. Such as my collection of fossils and Max’s shark jaw he was given when he was a kid from my uncle Jim. I also use the cotton bolls we grew and harvested one year as “Bunny Tails” and assorted other things like this.
I was surprised how interested the kids were. I guess because it was rather interactive and some of the things were real, and I let them touch whatever they wanted. The bird’s nest was from the Robin that built it and raised a brood in one of the hanging baskets on the front porch. The nest was popular as was the shark jaw. The kids also really liked the Spell Book I made last year or the year before. I had a young girl, maybe ten years old that was also dressed as a witch, spend much of the time at our car. She was extremely interested my book, she must have looked through it 6 times.
Chuck made Carrot Cake Cookies that went over really well, too. And my candy packages were well received I think. I was really glad the kids and adults alike were interested in hearing about the Devil’s Claw seed pods collected in the desert in New Mexico and the Petoskey Stones I had, which were collected in Michigan.
I was surprised there were only about twenty cars participating. I guess with all the kids in the neighborhood I thought there would be more. I gave out maybe 50 packs of candy, but I know a few kids came by for an extra one. But in general all the kids were great and most were honest and said that I’d already given them one when they came around again. And many did come around again as their friends arrived.
It was a fun night and to my surprise there was a contest for Best Trunk. The kids vote for their favorite. And even more surprising- We WON! I call that a bonus. They gave me a cute trophy that now I can add to our Halloween decorations.
I’m not sure if we were to go again next year what I would do. It seems people change their themes each year and I’ve only done the witch theme for so long. I have about 11 months to decide.
Until then I’ll have our house lights on Wednesday and see how many trick-or-treaters we get at our actual house.
Several years ago I knit a witch hat. Actually, I knit two witch hats. The first I knit one for myself and one for my son in-law, Matt. Matt’s hat is more Gandolf and mine is more Elphaba.
This year I decided mine needed some sprucing up. Over the years it had become….well…limp. It was always more floppy than I had wanted and I never really liked that that brim was unstructured.
To address the unstructured brim I spent the better part of two days sewing bias tape to the underside by hand. I inserted a 12 gauge black florist wire as I went. Sewing black bias tape onto black fabric with black thread while inserting black wire is not for the faint of heart.
It was worth it though. Having been felted again it has shrunk a bit, becoming more comfortable to wear and now that the brim is wired I can shape it to suit my preference. Which I really like.
I added a spider pin for a little glamorous panache. To go along with my revamped hat I also knit a flat cat. Yes, A Flat Cat, or Professor Meow-Gona-Cowl pattern by Tiny Owl Knits. I am pretty happy with the results on both the hat and the cat.
I’ve upgraded the hat and made the cat for my “Witch Costume.” I’ll wear these with all black, don my wand and Sheath at my waist and set up a Witch’s Apothecary Storefront at tonight’s neighborhood Trunk-or-Treat. I’m looking forward to this and have made goody packs for the kids.
The packs have a 4-5 pieces of candy each and are ‘simply” wrapped in brown paper and raffia. I collecting feathers mostly from our neighbors chickens (as they were molting and mine were not) and washed them. I used a wax seal and then silver Sharpie on the raised bits. The labels have our address incase people want to know which Apothecary they came from. I suppose my vision for these are that if you purchased some things from my apothecary it would arrive via Owl Mail, well at the very least, Chicken Mail.
To round out my outfit I’ll wear my black and green striped socks and yarn danskos. I also have a Chatelaine necklace of sorts, made out of assorted things. I will carry the Book of Spells I made a few years ago. I did upgrade of few things in this book this week. too.
Are you dressing up for Halloween? I think I only dress up as a Witch. I’m going to print some social media icons and those along with butterfly wings will be either Tim or Chuck’s costume. Although it suits Chuck the best, you know he is the social butterfly in this marriage after all.
I haven’t had a true Fall for several years having been lost in a desert oasis. There aren’t many trees in a desert and it’s still rather warm this time of year. So, it’s basically just like the summer only a slight bit cooler, like in the 80’s instead of 90’s. This year it’s different. We live in a beautiful neighborhood with trees galore. Our neighborhood is named Queen’s Lake and we are in Williamsburg, Virginia with the leaves beginning to fall and the nights getting pretty cool now.
I’ve always decorated pretty enthusiastically for Halloween. This is year was a little slower in that regard. I only just yesterday would say I finished decorating. Stevie and Hanna are both big fans of the Halloween time. Stevie got married on Halloween and her rehearsal dinner was a costume party. Which was really neat.
I think I had a harder time getting in the spirit of the season since Hanna is in Oklahoma and Stevie is up in Alexandria. These girls always go big on costumes along with their respective men. And I really enjoy seeing their creativity.
For me this year was a little sad, and anticlimactic, particularly because I don’t have my friends coming over every Monday to knit and share in the joy of a holiday theme.
I try to invoke a witch atheistic. But, basically, a lot of my decorating consists of covering everyday stuff with spider web table cloths. Then I might throw in a pumpkin or two.
This is a very simple thing with a big impact. I’ve been collecting the table cloths, table runners and such for a few years. I find them mostly at Target and Michael’s and I try to pick up a couple new ones each year.
I always set up my “The Witch is in” spot. This is my favorite thing. It’s different each year but always includes this broom that I’ve had for probably 15 years.
I really need to upgrade my rug, but overall, I like the way this turned out. I even had some help from Mother Earth with making this feel authentic. Notice the spider just above the witch hat? It’s the perfect touch. [As a side note, I used a heavy duty magnet to attach the hat to the suitcase so it can’t blow away.]
A nice big Daddy Long Legs, or whatever they’re really named. This year I added the old suitcase I found for a couple bucks at an estate sale a few years ago. The suitcase was living in my fireplace in the living room. My sister-in-law, Ruth, asked why I had a suitcase in the fireplace. I say, why not?
Here’s the first level of Fireplace decorating I did when we moved into this house which included said suitcase. I thought it was charming. I really don’t like having and empty hole in the fire box.
For the fall I changed this fireplace up a bit. We probably will have fires in this fireplace and not in the other one in the family room. I will change this again to allow for that when I decorate for the Christmas season.
The bit of change was adding a old toolbox, cedar shavings and a few pumpkins to “Fall” it up. The big Pewabic tiles hanging over the fireplace have a fun story. You may know of my love of reading and of all things books. I also have a great big spot in my heart just for libraries, and specifically, the Detroit Public Library main branch building.
The Friend’s of the DPL did a fundraiser a few years ago, coordinated with Pewabic Tile, to replicate the story themed tiles that are on the fireplace surround in the children’s room in the DPL’s main branch library.
Following is are the two tiles above my fireplace up close. They are replicas with more contemporary colors that happen to suit my decor style perfectly. These are the “Steadfast Tin Soldier” by Hans Christian Anderson and” Midsummer’s Night Dream” by William Shakespeare. They measure approximately 11×14 but as they are individually handmade they vary slightly, adding to their charm. My brother made these frames using our wet bar counter.
I have two other tiles from this fundraiser. but they currently are living with my brother. I think I should do a full blog post just on Pewabic and these tiles.
But today I’m talking about Halloween decor. The last bit I’m sharing today is the dining room table. I added some table runners to the chandelier and hung my ghosts, too. A simple table cloth and runner I’ve had for a while and some red candles with ghosts from Party lite that I’ve also had forever. Then I added more table cloths to cover up the everyday things, including the chairs that forever are living stacked in the corner……
It’s a pretty low key style with my Witch aethtic going strong. I left the burned out lightbulb to add to the effect, or maybe I just don’t have one to replace it with, whatever.
These are some of the favorite bits. There’s more. Come on over and see. And you can grab a dozen eggs while your here. We have a few. A few dozen or so.
I’ve also finished some knitting projects that need photographing and I’ll update those soon.
The actual updates. First off, I changed the Jaywalker Socks into Wrist warmers. I liked the striping so much. I kept envisioning these under some long sleeves, just peeking out. I love a good I-cord bind off so I decided to finish with that. These are so good. I really want to make a few more pairs. I think the youngest daughter will nee some as she’s always cold.
The I-cord bind off required some extra thinking and details. I cast on 3 stitches using the Backwards E-Cast On, the K2, k2togTBL and slid stitches back to left hand needle. continuing in this way until I came to the increases of the Jaywalker pattern. Where the points are I needed to ensure they had enough give so that the point would stay pronounced. At the point -between the double decreases- I added a single I-cord row with a K3 instead of the K2, K2togTBL. I then continued the K2, K2togTBL to the last row. Here was tricky bit, and I don’t know how to properly explain what I did, so bear with me. I worked a Kitchener Stitch on the live stitches and on the cast on stitches I wove the needle around the legs of each cast on. Clear as mud, right? Well, anyway. This finishing did two things. 1-It gave me a clean I-cord that looked continuous 2- Added the one extra row that the other double decreases have. I think you legitimately cannot see where the beginning and end meet. I’m so in love. Did I already mention that?
As knitter’s oft do. I cast on a new project, because I had a finished one. And I blame my dear friend Peggy. She told me about the pattern you see. It’s one of four patterns in a socks series based on Willy Wonka. I know, right? You see why I had to. The pattern I’m working on is the first release in this set. It’s called Candyman and I’m using the left over yarn from the Jaywalker Wristwarmers and some black yarn, both of these are Wollmeise.
This pattern uses Judy’s Magic Cast On, which will forever remind my of Carol. We spent so many hours working on this cast on together. She is very dear to me. Carol moved from New Mexico to Colorado not long after I moved to Virginia. I will be able to see here next summer when we go to Colorado for Chuck’s niece Beth’s wedding. Luckily for me she is getting married very near to where Carol now lives.
I think I’m ready to cast off the Magic Stripes Scarf. It’s a good length for a tuck just inside you coat scarf. I probably have enough yarn to knit a second one or I could double the length. I’m thinking it’s the right length right now but I’ve put it on hold to give some time to confirm my thoughts.
On the Find Your Fade I have to finish the lace section on color 6 and then there like 32 rows or so of the 7th color and then the bind off. Pretty close to the end on that.
All in all, I’ve made pretty satisfactory progress. Now to not get distracted my those new socks.
I haven’t said anything about the wand sheaths I made. Yes, I did say “wand sheath.” Yes, I and most of my family have magic wands. Doesn’t everyone. These are very special magic wands that my brother, Andy, makes. I made the sheaths based on an item by Alice Starmore from her book Glamourie. It was designed as a needle case but it is everything a wand sheath should be.
I ran some experiments. and realized quickly the 133 stitches she starts with are way too many. After my experiments I found 65 stitches is correct for the wands. I used yarn I spun myself. I also added a flap to the back (that I had sewn down after felting) to create a loop for a belt to go through. I’m quite pleased with these.
I made mine from undyed, natural colored wool and used some of my precious Wensleydale Lockes, also undyed. I made a talisman pouch as well. These should suit the Witch aesthetic I’m going for in my forever Halloween costume.
I also made one for both my nephew and niece. I made theirs with them specifically in mind. Thinking My nephew’s would have caterpillars as he enjoys making friends with the real thing. And my niece’s would have unicorn hair, be cause it’s unicorn hair.
If I do say so, and I do, they turned out quite magical. They were gifted with some rather fun gift wrapping as well.
The wand sheaths were very fun to create. I should’ve taken notes, but was rather lazy about it and my memory isn’t as good as I would like, especially since I made these in July. But…They were happy. I was happy. We all are happy.
Now, if I can just find where I put that darn witch hat!
l’ll leave you with a cute pic of some chickens. Happy knitting!