Impromptu Terrarium, The Extent of His Tomato-Hating and Some Fiber Things

Every week there is a lovely selection of caterpillars in the corn: bright green, ochre, mocha, burgundy…their fate, generally, is to become dinner for the chickens. I admire them, and then they’re tossed into the coop with the husks. The birds aren’t allowed to range much in suburbia, so they need all the fresh protein we can provide.

This weekend, as I shucked, I plucked out a particularly robust lime-green caterpillar and showed it to The Boy. He grabbed a step stool and I placed this new friend on the cutting board for a walk around. Pretty soon, there were seven caterpillars curling up, stretching out, or strolling around on the board amongst the corn trimmings.

When it came time to bring all the trimmings and husks out to the birds, including the caterpillars, The Boy grabbed my wrist and said, “But Mama, I LOVE THEM!”

And so we’ve had some pets for a few days, munching away and getting fatter in a glass jar, their impromptu terrarium. The Boy marvels at their sticky feet and their mandibles and Mr. Lime Green’s massiveness, especially.

We’ll let them go for Equinox, to fulfill whatever their destiny…an autumn feast for some other birds in the garden, perhaps.

Finally, as the first day of Autumn approaches, we are seeing some tomatoes ripening…still not enough for preserving…just enough for a salad here and there, so I’ll be acquiring some bruised heirlooms from the farmer’s market next weekend for a canning fest. As I was asking about them, The Boy could be seen stomping fallen tomatoes into oblivion on the pavement. They were already smashed from their fall, but it wasn’t enough for him to see tomatoes the way he would prefer them: inedible and NOT on his dinner plate. No, they had to be completely obliterated…deliberately, with malice and spite.

I admit they are on my long List of Foods I’d Prefer Not to Eat Fresh (just wait until I show you what’s happening in the dehydrator), but I don’t take pleasure in their destruction. I led him away. Quickly.

And then I finished this:

Some old handspun from Way Back. Before the Lendrum, even. I suddenly felt the need to knit up some comfort with it instead of letting it languish in a box. Must be the changing seasons…oh, and the impending garage sale. Anyway, I will really appreciate this thing for two days every month, at least, so definitely worth the effort.

To add to the randomness of this post, I have been listing lots of carded batts and dyed locks to the shop…yarns are on hold until I finish up the fresh order for Purl Jam, which I should be shipping out tomorrow. Helen will be holding a Spun Monkey Preview Night at the shop, so if you’re local, keep an eye on the Upcoming Events listings or pop in to get the skinny. There may be wine involved.

Lots of Autumn-y colors and such.

Happy Tuesday!

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buzz buzz buzz~i wonder why he does….

…’cause he needs some new digs, that’s why…

Yesterday afternoon, we saw/heard this football-sized swarm on the rose arbor:

As we were bereft of beekeeping equipment, I tried to get hold of some beekeeping friends who I knew would be interested. When I didn’t hear back, we decided to go for it ourselves. C was on his way home from work by then and so he stopped at Biofuel Oasis to pick up the necessaries. He already had a Tyvek suit from work…

…and was soon ready to go.

He was very calm in this new situation…you never would have known how adrenalized he was…

…even when the bees got reeaaally mad. It wasn’t an easy catch. They were wrapped around part of the arbor and the rose vine…nothing we could cut off for removal all in one go.

Tap, tap…into the hive box.

We’re not 100% sure yet they’ll stay…there’s a lot of activity around the hive box, but still clumping on the arbor…and, well…I don’t really have any idea what I’m talking about. Right now, we’re just hoping there are some scouts doing the happy dance.

Exciting. And I’m hoping we have enough borage and blossoms and berry bushes in our own yard to keep them busy…anyone know how far they travel? Pretty much every neighbor around here owns one of those poison sprayer-backpacks or pays someone else to wear one for sickening their flowers and trees…I’d like to think it won’t be of interest to these bees or present in the honey they produce, but…

Shifting gears, we had a birthday:

There were smiles and wishes and a crepe paper crown…

Click the picture for a link to my Ravelry project page. It was a fun knit…quick and satisfying, although embellishing was the best part. I saw some comments about tearing issues, but I made sure to crinkle the paper every few yards before I knit with it, and the crown whipped right up, nice and smooth.

Pete also got a birthday knit…

The photo links to Ravelry, but you can find the free pattern here on the Bamboletta blog. I used some of my long-draw handspun and I’m really pleased with the results.

Sadly, I did not photograph the Handmade Ho Down on Saturday…it was a little crazy and I was totally exhausted. I had an awesome helper (thanks, Alli!) and so for most of the show I spun, spun away and felt buzzy with fresh ideas. Expect new goodies in the coming weeks. Many thanks to everyone who came to play!

Rockin’ the Rain Day

My boy is in pajamas and a helmet, a knight in the night, dutifully putting away the things of a rainy day. Books and a log cabin, his uncle’s old game of Mousetrap. I will tend to the dripping raingear later…this afternoon he tried to dig a hole in the mud large enough to make a lake for his boats, but it wasn’t raining hard enough to fill it. Maybe tomorrow…

A good day, slow and gray, and now that it’s just about story time, I can cuddle up with the Fuzzy Beast:

Laura, Mary, Ma and baby Carrie are waiting out the blizzard for Pa to come home, with icy snow blowing into the house and onto their bedcovers…while the Boy and I are snug, he with his story wax in hand, me with my knitting and C’s soothing voice in our ears. We are two chapters away from finishing book four, btw…and after reading the third, Farmer Boy, which I enjoyed immensely, I find the trials of the Ingalls family almost unbearable. And how, tell me please, did they not die of malnutrition eating corn mush and white bread all winter long???

Speaking of fooooooood, today was Baking Day. Since our Pa’s the workin’ man now, we’ve been trying to think up healthy snacks to make for him to grab on his way out the door in the mornings. Inspired by this granola bar recipe, we imagined up our own variations.

The only failure was in that the above picture should be showing you a slice of a granola BAR. Instead, we ended up with just plain awesome granola.

Basically, we followed the recipe, but with our own flavor variations. I’m not a fan of corn syrup, so I chose to replace it with honey or maple syrup. Perhaps it is the “glue” ingredient that prevents the bars from falling apart?

Flavors we invented: Cashew Orange…for the 2-3 cups fruit/nuts we used 1 1/2 cups cashews, 1 cup sesame seeds and 1 cup currants. We added orange peel (2 oranges) extract instead of vanilla and used a combo of butter/honey and our homemade pecan butter.

Pecan Coconut…1 1/2 cups pecans, 1 cup coconut, 1/2 cup currants. For this one we used a combination of butter and coconut oil and used maple syrup instead of honey and our homemade pecan butter.

Peanut Butter Chocolate…(we doubled this recipe) 2 cups currants, 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, 1 cup almonds, 1 cup coconut, 1/2 cup pecans, 1/2 cup sesame seeds. Butter/coconut oil/honey for the liquid ingredients plus 2 chopped up semisweet chocolate bars.

I realize now that we forgot to toast the dry ingredients first…we were a little too excited about our project! I’m sure that would have improved the flavor slightly, but it’s hard to say as these are all Wicked Awesome.

I will leave you with a Perfect Sky, since ours will be dark and dripping tomorrow:

xoxoxo

Nerd Alert

I’m so thrilled with this project and the fact that it’s actually, finally finished…can you tell? I rarely smile for the camera on purpose, but I couldn’t wait for C to snap a photo of this one. I spent two years on it, mainly because knitting with cotton is a terrible thing to do to one’s hands. Oh, the appreciation I have now for the elasticity and gentle kindness of working with wool. My solution was to take the project out of storage and, for the last few months, knit only a few rows each night as C read the Boy his bedtime story. Eventually, the few rows here and there added up to a completed project!

The pattern = totally enjoyable. It would have knit up quickly in wool, so my grand plan is to work this up again, but with long sleeves, a cowl neck and in some sort of burgundy/rusty colored plied wool yarn.

I did, however, start up an insane knitting project that I will have to finish first. It will be my first sweater that must be seamed and it’s…mohair. And…cabled. I will get through it because the yarn is the prettiest green ever. Truly. I spent more time than I care to admit converting the pattern into a top-down knit, but ultimately decided that I should just suck it up and learn how to seam. So, yeah…more on that later.

Oh, and I bring you my first ever Bathroom-Mirror-Self-Portrait. We all have to do it sometime…right?

I missed out on the opportunity to have C photograph some new scarves for the shop. I will attempt some fun with a tripod this week because he landed a job and will no longer be around 24/7 to swap parenting duties and take pictures of me wearing things. I will miss him during the week, but oh, how we’ve needed this to happen. Tomorrow is his first day, and he is adorably nervous.

Check these out in the meantime, while I figure out the tripod thing:

These were all submitted for the book I was vaguely telling you about in a previous post…and are now available and up in the shop.

The top right piece was created using the last of the organic merino wool I dyed with acorns from the 400+ year old oak tree in the backyard.

Happy Monday!

Post-Yoga Post

I’m back in the routine, and it feels wonderful.

Regular yoga practice was one of the last vestiges of my other life to fade away after I met and married C. Rock climbing, hundred-mile bike rides and my certification as a fitness instructor all evaporated in the bubbling steam of novelty that was my new adventure in love. I held onto yoga for a long time, until a heart-breaking miscarriage led me to drop out of the prenatal classes I’d switched to. I never went back.

Although it’s been about eight years since I touched granite with the intent to climb it, I have made several attempts to bring regular yoga practice back into my life. A slew of major life changes interrupted me, of course…a successful, albeit mostly horizontal, pregnancy; the subsequent and continuing motherhood, more than one cross-country move and many of shorter distance…it is no wonder, I suppose, that taking care of my own physical body fell by the wayside.

When we came back from the farm in early December, I committed myself to creating some discipline in the early morning hours. There are no set days, but I have managed to make it happen three days per week, continuously, for more than two months. It is now officially routine and I intend to bring more rewarding activities back into routine practice, because I have not felt this good in a very long time.

So, to bring some no-pressure knitting routine back into play, I’ve left this group and I’m starting a MeKniSweMoDo…does that make sense?  There are no rules. I’ll finish twelve sweaters within the year, but not necessarily on a monthly basis. Also, I may just be finishing some of them rather than starting all of them, as I have too many WIPs to unburden myself from. Oh, and no way are they all going to be adult-sized. The real goal here is to find a knit night and get out more. Nothing would be more motivating than that.

I have somehow managed to make time for a wee project in between all of the other what-not. Last week, the Boy finally admitted to growing out of his slippers. Happening upon this pattern (here is a non-Ravelry link to flint knits blog), I said, “How about some elf shoes?” Half-expecting to be shot down, I was pleasantly surprised when my query was met with a list of acceptable colors and a declaration of NO STRIPES. Sure thing, my Boy.

This pattern is easy to follow and the slippers are a delightfully quick knit, very satisfying.

In fact, I finished them last night, shortly after taking the photos. They are gigantic and ready for their ride in the wash. Hopefully, I will not forget to check on them. You only need say the word “felt” around a skein of Malabrigo and it will become a solid wad. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that this sweater, although only worn half a dozen times, looks about a hundred years old now. I plan to knit another version with some airy, long-draw handspun, plied and much less pill-ish.

Nuno update this weekend. Shooting pics for a book submission (Thank you for the link, Celeste! And Heather, wish you were here to make me beautiful!).

Parkday is at an ice rink today. Anticipating needing to lay on my stomach with an ice pack on my butt later.

Um…Please Explain.

We set up some snow bowling outside yesterday, and then the kiddos wanted to go bowling at a "real" bowling alley…

So we took them and here’s my question: What in (insert your deity of choice here)’s name is this Candlepin Bowling? Is this a New England thing? If anything will make me move back to California, it might be this. Really. The ball is just big enough that my hand doesn’t fit around it and the shape of the pins was…oddly disconcerting. 

ETA: I would have liked Candlepin a LOT better if the balls were just a shade smaller to accommodate those of us with stumpy thumbs. And I’m just kidding…I  LOVE NEW ENGLAND.

Oh, and I test-knit this pattern for Lee of Leethal:

Some funky striping handspun from the early days…
Fun! But not my colors…

Balls!

It was warm enough in the studio today to play with the carder for more than five minutes. Hooray for a little teaser thaw!

I made these:

Some are for my shop and some are for Urban Fauna

I have been absent, yes. Winter melancholy is really sinking in…it was warm today, the moonlight is bright and sparkling, but another snap of cold is sure to follow, and it turns me inward…I am ready for Spring and planting veggies and opening windows and muddy boots and only two layers of clothing instead of six.

I hate to say it, but we’re still moving…there is a renter moving in March 1st, though, so we have added impetus to complete the process and just be done with it already. One of us has to get out there each day to feed the chickens, who are still holding down the old fort, waiting for their chicken coop to be finished on this side of Hwy 9.
C has been sick on his days off every week for the past three weeks, hence the slow progress…on pretty much everything. It’s hard for him to get well when every exposed orifice gets filled with shredded paper all day. He’s always pulling chunks of it out of his eyes and ears, constantly blowing it out of his nose. Gross.
However, after the job he’s working on is finished, it looks like his hours will be pretty dramatically cut. The economic crisis has finally trickled it’s way down into the cellulose insulation industry.

So. I’m getting my arse in gear, applying to shows and regularly updating the ol’ Etsy. Starting with tonight’s ball update and continuing with some yarn and felt scarves throughout the week.

Oh, and I tried hanging out with a new friend:

Apparently we have zero chemistry. Needless to say, our relationship is already suffering. Sigh. We’ll try to work it out, though, so no details for now.

Mr. Lendrum, however, has come through above and beyond…LOVE HIM. New parts are on the way to me now, at no charge. LOVE HIM.

And now I shall attempt to rest even though the night seems brighter than the day and this giant round moon makes me crazy. Chocolate cookies have been washed down with peppermint tea and the house kitties are on the prowl, waiting for me to turn off the light so they can use their night eyes.

I’ll leave you with this:

I made a hat. (Rav link)
I love it.