stuff that comes to our house… knitting the sky!

Stuff that arrived here last week

The boy had been begging for this, and so spent some xmas $$ to get it. He says shenanigans will ensue.
horse mask (1)

DH keeps showing it to the girls, because they were (understandably) rather freaked out by it at first,
horse mask (3)

My mama clearly loves me,
heart (1) heart (2)

Riveting book…
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(not). There aren’t any pictures!

Beads for the sky shawl when I thought I was going to use only the laceweight,
They came packaged so nicely!

knitting the sky!

I joined a KAL (knit-a-long) over at LSG (Lazy, Stupid, and Godless) in Ravelry. We’re all riding a geek high knitting the Celestarium shawl. When I first saw the pattern, I thought “eh, it’s nice enough, but I dunno”, and then I saw that it is a shawl that shows the star chart of the northern hemisphere.

A star chart of the northern hemisphere!

And I knew I had to make this. I’m using that laceweight alpaca that I dyed with the black food coloring. It wasn’t working up quite how I liked with just the single strand, so I am running another strand of laceweight merino (in black) with it.

It is totally addictive. I don’t have any good pictures of it, because it droops while on the needles and it’s hard to capture the color.

The new, too small, beads (I may work these into a lacy border somehow)
sky shawl (2)

Working away on the E charts (there are 4 to get around the circle). There are six charts for F…
sky shawl (3)

I’m looking for a lacy border for this, something that is reminiscent of feathers (but not that feather and fan, no, no, no, not that) or a raven’s wing. I have some old pattern books… we’ll see what I find. I have some time before I’m ready for that.

The cool thing? I can recognize some of the constellations as I do this!

The funny thought? Years from now, archeologists will discover these knitted shawls and think WTF, why are people navigating from a shawl? Didn’t they have GPS and fancy technical stuff???

more maine morning mitts

I only made 2 pair of these to ship out at xmas… special request from a year ago. I still love this pattern for a mindless knit, but I haven’t made many of them this year. The green ones are from my handspun.
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a birthday and a bug and pots and a vest and rocks and dogs with new haircuts


Boyo turned 17 recently. He wanted a batman cake, and this was what happened. I figured it was a success when his friend took a photo, and then he did too. And it was gone by morning (two boys stayed over).
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Look what DH found in the garden digging up potatoes…
tomato hornworm
I thought maybe it was a giant beetle grub, but our entomologist friend said it was a lepidopteran, and we quickly figured out it is a tomato hornworm (which we call tomacco hornworms), late stage pupa. The totally disgusting part is that this thing is alive. It moves. And that loopy handly thing is its mouthparts.


And totally fascinating.


Dad and Linda gave us a fabulous humongous frying pan. We have been at a loss as to where to put it. The oven already holds the two 13″ and the single 8″ cast iron pans. I thought I’d get a pot rack, but the one I wanted (a simple steel bar) is actually relatively hard to find. I did finally find it, for only $16, but then there was the $12 to ship and the extra $10 because I didn’t spend enough.

And so, I bought 4 locally made wrought iron hooks (from Scottish Lion in Round Pond), only $24, and a board from Lowe’s (I got to use the jigsaw and I learned to use the router).

And so this corner,
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was changed.

The board got up (after a miscalculation on where the stud was… but the initial series of holes in the board got plugged, shhhhhh), and even though I had an idea where the pans should go, I hadn’t marked where the hooks should be… and so…

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While I was about it all, I extended the knife slit a bit, and really sanded down that piece to the left of the stove. It gets gummy. And re-oiled the rest of the counters…
pot rack project (4) pot rack project (2) pot rack project (1)


I’ve been wanting a vest… this is made with the handspun I made when I was learning to spin. I thought I might have enough yarn for a vest. Turns out, I probably have enough for three vests… I wasn’t sure at first how to close it up, but after wearing it for a day with just a pin, I realized it really needs closure and put in hooks and eyes. There’s waist shaping and short rows for the bust. I’m reasonably pleased with it, but think I might need to add pockets, because my hands keep looking for them (I have a fleece vest that fits something like this one, and it must feel familiar to my body).

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vest 115

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We took a quick walk at lunch today over to the arboretum, where they have some new sculpture on display.

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From one side it looks like a hug, from the other, a face, or a really pointy bum!

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Susie noted that this black spot is called an enclave. She’d seen some of this sculpture a couple days ago, with some other geologists.
arboretum sculpture (16)

Needless to say, she heard very different things from us than she did from the geologists. WHAT is that? Giant bull testicles! That’s a sexy piece. Cylons! A face! A bum! (these were not things the geologists were saying…)

This piece was made from a single piece of stone… we were strong doubters, but then we were convinced…
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And Sue was with us, in her hunter orange… we stuck close to her, and nobody was shot.

Pinkish beige on the outside, and black and shiny inside… remind you of anybody?
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The bum (face on the other side)…
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Do you see those mosses growing on the granite? My guess is Andrea rupestris, but I didn’t look closely.

Oh look, they’re trucking in another piece… wonder what it is…
arboretum sculpture (39)

dogs with new haircuts

These are really lousy pictures, sorry!

clipped dogs (2) clipped dogs (3)
Zuzu begging for a toy, and Gravy coming to get one.


Getting ready for Thanksgiving… friends from far are coming, and friends from near will be here too.

We are blessed.

murder in the neighborhood

Of crows that is…

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(sorry for the blurry pics!)

They are raucous and incredibly entertaining. Some of them make cronking noises almost like a raven. I think that’s because there are sometimes ravens nearby, and the crows are trying to play with the big boys.

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The Cornell Ornithology Lab has some info, including recorded sounds. The crows around town make caws, calls, and rattles like those, but they also make that cronking sound. I have no idea what it is.

Hmmm… Life Histories of Familiar North American Birds suggests it might be a lovesick crow…

The prolonged ‘car-r———-a———-c——-k’ of a love sick individual in spring, uttered in various tones and drawn out into prolonged gurglings, though somewhat like the call of the young for food is still quite different.

But they do this all year round here…

In a 1923 excerpt at the Life Histories book, Townsend notes this…

The conversational notes of a small group or family of Crows are always entertaining, and the observer is impressed with the extensiveness of their vocabulary and with the variations in their feelings. At times the notes are low and confidential, pleasant and almost melodious, if I may use that word here; again they are raucous and scolding, bursting at times into a veritable torrent of abuse. In the same way, in human conversations, one may, even without understanding the words, be able to interpret the meanings and motives involved.

Maybe I’ll manage to record their crazy noises and play them for somebody who knows about such things.

In the meantime, we also have a super lucky elephant.

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Twenty-five pounds of jasmine rice. Is that a bat hanging on that elephant?

Crazy dyeing weekend and poking about the garden

Two weekends ago, I went with Dianna to Kristen’s place in Vermont to hang around with friends and dye fiber and yarn. It was a blast! We had pots going outside for natural dyeing, including an indigo vat, and there were acid dyes on the porch… we experimented with kettle dyeing, painting and steaming the fiber, crock pots, dyeing with plants and fungi, overdyeing what we dyed, overdyeing bleh fiber we brought… Chaos, but great fun, and great folks to spend the weekend with. Many of the same folks as were at shearing in May, but we missed Sara!

All the photos are here in my flickr set, but here are a few highlights…

Everybody hanging on the porch, getting ready,
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The indigo vat… the fiber comes out of the vat green and turns blue on exposure to oxygen. Way cool!
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Acid dyes, Toby handpainting, and fiber wrapped and ready to steam:
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Simmering weeds, and rinsing Phaeolus dyed yarn,
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Some of our results:
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The rain held off until we were done with the bulk of it all! We got to visit with Kristen’s flock, and I got to help with the foot rot treatment (just a few of the goats, they’re all doing far better now).

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The calf thought Toby was made of milk. He started on her hand, moved to her crutch, and then her knee! Little Blue (see the shearing link, first paragraph) has gotten bigger, and he’s a little fatty, but he’s still the smallest goat!
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And here’s the stuff I dyed:
dye weekend results

Couple of mystery skeins dyed in indigo. I think they both are from Friends Folly; the top one is a mohair/wool blend and the other is angora or an angora blend.
dye weekend results (12)

Some old gray icelandic called Georgetown that I used to make DH a sweater years ago (rav link), and some Aarlan alpaca/wool/silk that was a brownish to start with. The icelandic took the “paint”, the color is more subtle on the other yarn. These are on the bottom, on the right, and here,
dye weekend results (5)

I also overdyed some charcoal mohair in indigo… only one half of the skein. It’s subtle and hard to see in the photo, but I like it. This is hanging in the middle on the bottom of the big pic.

Pretty sure this was dyed initially with goldenrod, and then into the indigo. Much better! It’s just domestic wool roving from Halcyon.
dye weekend results (3)

Tencel and Seacell out of the crock pot and acid dyed. The fiber went from being smooth and silky straight to somewhat kinky. I think it’ll spin up well. I can tell which is which by feel, but not in the photo.
dye weekend results (2)

The photo doesn’t do this color justice… It’s a fabulous grey/green/sagey color. It’s handspun romney that a friend picked up for me. Dyed first in tansy, giving a really “meh” pale yellow, so we added some iron, which saddened the color and made it kinda greyish green, and then we added what was left of the goldenrod to the pot, which deepened the grey-green.
dye weekend results (19)

There’s also some pink/purple romney roving (it’s in the top photo). I was stepping outside of my usual color scheme with that one. I think it may go to somebody who will love it more than I will.

garden pics!

Pappus of some seed…
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You can see I was screwing around with the macro on my little point and shoot,
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Seems like everywhere the damned Japanese beetles are mating…
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What was interesting, though, is that many of them would assume some weird posture when I got too close… legs out and up at an angle, and both the male and female would do it, as would the ones near them.

The morning glories are doing well, as are the sungolds behind them,
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And DH was away for a week, and I didn’t pay any attention to the cucumbers… oops,
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We’ve managed to squirrel away most of these in neighbors’ and coworkers’ cars…

I can see clearly now… and bats!

Well, when I’m in the barn and looking out. More to the point, the glass won’t be falling out of the panes any time soon.

This was a rather large project for only 3 windows, lots of work to get the old panes out, clean up the wood, sand, paint (primer and two coats, both sides), get the new glass in, and get them up.

To start with:
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Windows out, panes out,
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Variety of points I found,
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Kinda not a lot to work with in places,
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Between waiting for things to dry, and having to do things like work, and going away for a weekend to play, the project took almost 2 weeks,
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(the photo on the right was waiting for 4 replacement panes).

windows done (1)

windows done (2)

And now I have to do the ones over the deck.

I learned a lot in this process…

It is easy to break glass getting the panes out. It is hard to cut glass when there’s only an inch or half an inch to trim off. I ended up having the hardware store cut it for me.

Only after I set the glass in the smaller windows with narrower mullions did I learn you can trim the ends of the points (not the pointy end, the flanges).

I bought a glazer’s putty knife, and it was really helpful, because it’s so stiff.

I was extremely frustrated with the local hardware store. I went to them first to get more DAP 33 glazing compound and points. They didn’t have points. And I waited 20 minutes while the single person available helped another person, and then another helper came out. He couldn’t find the points either. So I left the compound and went off to Lowe’s, where one can buy a whole gallon of the stuff for only $6 more than the quart cost at the local shop. And they had lots of points.

Apparently the DAP can be very variable. I’m used to it sometimes being a tad dry (add a drop or two of linseed oil while you knead it). But the new gallon was wet! It was unworkable! I found one reference online where they talked about adding whiting to stiffen it up so it’s workable. This is calcium carbonate, or lime. When I asked for whiting at the local hardware store, they didn’t know what I meant. I said what I wanted it for, they still didn’t know. So I said “calcium carbonate”. She says “something a little less Latin please?”. Sorry, hon, not Latin. Anyhow, I told her “you know… lime???” Oh, we have that, but you have to buy 50 pounds. Cripes. I needed about 3 ounces.

So I used cornstarch on my hands. It helped. And I kneaded some into the compound. Probably beetles will get into it, but we’ll be gone by then.

Also, I re-glazed the windows over the deck about 10 years ago, and they are in sore need of it again. I learned this time around that it helps if you either put down linseed oil on the mullions (I didn’t do this, but if I had oil paint, I would have), or prime and paint them (this is what I did).

I did take the windows out and had them flat to work on. I can’t imagine doing all these little panes in place.

There, now you know.

Bats! At work!

We think they’re living on the unoccupied 3rd floor… in the past 5 weeks, we’ve had 5 bats in our office areas… one was flying up and down the hall. These two were just hanging out. One in a doorway, where it wasn’t there the 5 minutes before, and then it was. It was squeeky/noisy/unhappy about being moved. The other I discovered under my gym bag. It was pretty sleepy.

Claire thinks they’re cute, and they are. It’s nice to see they don’t appear to have the dreaded whitenose syndrome. We think these are little brown bats.

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bat no. 2 (3) bat no. 2 (18)

Good thing Claire has such long legs (she’s a few inches taller than me!)… she hardly got any burdock on her.

All the bat appear to be behaving normally, so we don’t really worry too much about rabies. But I tell everybody not to touch them!

I have loads more to post, but it’ll have to wait for another day… dyeing! spinning! dinosaur bra!