Wednesday, October 31, 2012

New Pattern: Speakeasy


Laying Flat, measuring with a straight ruler:
Across, from Wing Tip to Wing Tip: 29”
Wing Tip to Base: 35”

US 8/5mm straight needles

Tapestry Needle
4 Stitch markers that have clasps (optional)
Blocking Wires and Pins

Handmaiden Fine Yarn Swiss Mountain Silk Mulberry Tussah [50% mulberry silk/50% tussah silk; 218yd/200m per 100g skein]; 1 skein

18 sts and 24 rows= 4” in stockinette stitch before blocking

This pattern is designed for a 100% silk yarn, a very unique feeling yarn. I recommend choosing a heavy yarn with lots of drape. If you choose wool it may not have the same effect, but something like a bamboo should.

You will be working from the center diamond panel first; creating yarn over loops on the edges that will be used later to pick up the wings.

W&T- Wrap and Turn. I like the technique found here:

Shawl Blocking Tutorial:

Monday, October 29, 2012

Changing of the Seasons

It's amazing how it seems as through we've been through a year's worth of seasons in just a few short months here on the farm. We try to walk up to what we now call "The Veranda", the two adirondack chairs that we put at the top of the property, every so often and if I bring my camera I snap a picture. It's so neat to watch things change.

June 9, 2012

September 4, 2012

October 1, 2012

October 24, 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012

Those Darn Birds

We have several big windows that look out over our backyard and on most days I love them. Yesterday was not one of those days.

As I mentioned a little while ago, the birds have found our bird feeders. They are right by one of the big windows and I love sitting and watching all the birds chirping and eating and flying around.

There must have been something in the air yesterday because the birds and the window kept having issues. A lovely large black bird flew into the window early in the morning. I was so sad for it. it seemed ok, but I remembered something that my Uncle recently told me- Most birds that are alive after hitting the window are just stunned and if you pick them up and keep them warm they will be fine. Getting cold makes them more likely to die. Whether or not this is true I have no idea, but it stuck with the animal loving side of me and seeing that black bird stunned on the snow made it impossible for me to leave it alone. It was only 36 degrees outside.

I got a towel, wrapped up the bird, and propped him up on the picnic table. I looked out the window at him periodically and after about 10 minutes he flew away, good as new. I was so happy.

I was still beaming with pride at helping save this bird when lunch time rolled around. The large flock of birds, that we now think are purple finches, were still happily eating as the snow was melting and sun was shining when something spooked the flock. All of a sudden I heard a BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM!!!! against the window. "What the hell just happened!" I yelled to the dogs. At least 10 birds must have hit the window at once. Nothing like this has EVER happened before.

I rushed over to the window to see a few stunned birds flying away, but 3 birds looked really hurt. One was flapping around on it's back, one looked like it hurt it's wing, and another wasn't moving at all. The towel just wasn't going to do it. I needed a box now.

So I went out to the shop and got a box, lined it with a towel, and went back to the house to collect the birds. I picked them up one by one and put them in the box and covered half the box with a towel since it was now starting to snow. Within a few minutes one of the birds flew away. I was worried about the other two so I went and filled 2 sandwich bags with warm water (this is the part of the story where Brian started to roll his eyes at me when I told him about it later) and put a warm bag of water next to each bird. Within 10 more minutes one of the other birds flew away.

I waited, and waited, and waited for the third bird to fly away but he just wouldn't. He was sitting up, looking around and seemed ok but he just wouldn't fly. I put some seed in the box with him just in case he was going to be around for a while, made sure the towel wasn't preventing him from flying away and I left him alone. I checked on him every few minutes and finally, after an hour, he had flown away.

It felt good to save the birds, but it felt bad to not have done anything to prevent this from happening in the first place. So many things used to prevent birds from flying into windows are so ugly- and I really like looking out the window.

Then I remembered that my friend Ashley makes beautiful suncatchers out of Angelina and wool (I get my Angelina from GrittyKnits). I haven't made mine yet, but here is Ashley's tutorial. If you don't want to make your own, sometimes she has some in her shop too, so be sure to check out her website. Wish me luck!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Hello Winter!

The past two weeks have been so busy! We've been fence building, canning, entertaining the most wonderful house guests, and have gone on a few mini road trips.

I've made 2 different kinds of pear jam, applesauce, Rosemary/Sage "Jelly" that didn't gel (so we call is glaze) and I still have about 60 pounds of apples to can. I have so much to tell you (next time)!

The most notable development is that winter seems to be here! I came home from a weekend away to find that our maples had turned yellow and dropped their leaves. It was so gorgeous that the dogs and I had to romp around for a bit. No sooner had I taken pictures of Bomber that it started to snow. The pictures below were taken on October 22nd, 2012. The ground is still white today and it doesn't look like it will melt for at least a few more days.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Bird Feeders

3 months after moving in and putting out bird feeders the birds finally found my feeders! I'm so happy. They are so pretty and fun to watch. They are around our crabapple tree almost all day now, going through a lot of seed. Anyone know what these are? Click the picture to make it bigger.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Lesson in Fiber Fineness

Fiber Lesson of the Day.

As you may have noticed from the All Hallow's Eve SAL and this weeks update in my shop "SuperFine Merino" is popping up in my batts. I am a sucker for soft fiber and when the opportunity presented itself for me to start using superfine merino I jumped on it. It will take a little while but I hope to transition over to 100% superfine merino as the base for my smooth batts. My guess is that it will happen by the end of this year.

Some of you may not be familiar with how fibers are counted/categorized so I thought you might like to hear more about the fibers I use and their fineness.

One way that fiber is categorized is by the Bradford Count. The other is by Micron (fiber diameter). You can see a table of how wools and other fibers compare here.

Here are the counts of what I currently use:
The bombyx silk that I use has a micron count of 13 and is 100s on the Bradford Count
The merino top that I use has a micron count of 21.5 and is 64s on the Bradford Count- putting it just at the bottom of the Fine Wool Category.

The new superfine merino that I am getting has a micron count of 19 and is 70s on the Bradford count- so it is softer than the other merino I have been using.

All of these fibers are next to the skin soft and are the highest quality I have been able to find. I'm hoping that you love the new superfine merino as much as I do. I welcome your feedback on them.

Today's smooth batt update.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Autumn Harvest

The past week has been filled with more play than work while my mom and uncle were here for a visit. But during their visit we had our first frosty weather with night temperatures in the hight 20s. I forgot to harvest our last red tomatoes and when my mom and I went out one morning all we found were frozen marbles. We harvested them all and I promptly got to work on a batch of chili.

We have a pear tree on our property and we have been waiting for the fruit to ripen. We purchased the property after the tree had flowered so we didn't have time to thin the flowers so that the tree would produce less, but bigger, fruit. We ended up with a tree COVERED in tiny pears.

We heard that pear don't do the best here in our part of Montana because they take so long to ripen and the first frost comes early. Well, we had our first frost and I rushed out to make sure the pears hadn't frozen. They hadn't, thankfully, but they still aren't even close to ripe.

I decided to take the advice of an article from Oregon State University Extension Services about How to Ripen Pears. I learned so much about pears! According to the article pears don't ripen to our liking on the tree, if they ripen on the tree they develop a course and gritty texture. They ripen best off the tree, at cold temperatures. They recommended picking the pears and putting them in a paper bag with a ripe banana or apple.

I have decided to experiment. I picked a basket full of pears and did what the article recommended. There are still lots and lots of pears on the tree. In a week or so, I will go pick more (assuming they haven't frozen and rotted) and see if leaving them in the cold, with the autumn midday warm sun will make any difference in the ripening process. I am determined to make some Pear and Ginger preserves from the Canning for a New Generation book, so I really hope this works! Wish me luck!