My Ongoing Chick Situation: Doubling Down (or, why I will never be really successful)

Last week, bumping along a gravel road after a two-and-a-half hour drive, I thought to myself: What the fuck am I doing?

That didn’t stop me from pushing on, of course. But it was the bud of an epiphany. An epiphany that didn’t change my behavior in any way in this case—but maybe it will, going forward. This was my epiphany: this is why you’ll never be really successful.

If you’re into Skepticism or psychology or science advocacy or just, you know, fact-based anything, you’ve probably heard of doubling down. It’s the psychological phenomenon of how, when confronted with evidence that contradicts someone’s worldview or belief system, instead of reshaping their beliefs to incorporate this new information, they dig in deeper, reject the conflicting evidence, and believe/defend their flawed position all the more ardently. That’s pretty much the root of most human nonsense, from the intense tribalism in our current political system, to the recent increased outbreaks of virtually-eliminated childhood diseases, to conspiracy theories. I understand it intellectually, and I can navigate it pretty effectively in news, politics, and lifestyle—yet it’s still my core Achilles’ heel in many ways. The Ongoing Chick Situation is a manifestation of this.

For several years, I’ve had 2 hens. They’re delightful: a friendly, charming, low-maintenance pair, providing zero drama and adequate eggs for our family. Then this rooster showed up (truly just showed up on the front porch—I did nothing to procure a rooster). After some rehabilitation (chicken jail), we decided he can stay.

Pretty soon, Ruby went broody and I thought, why not? I’ll let her set some eggs. If she hatches them out, she hatches them out, and we’ll have chicks; if not, we’re no worse than before. But I’m not going out of my way here. After all, I’d resolved to spend 2018 tying up loose ends, not unravelling new ones. Money is tight and I don’t want to spend anything on this.

So that was The Plan. (Cost: $5 for a small bag of Chick Starter; Time commitment: 0.)

A week into The Plan, I candled the eggs (with a flashlight and toilet paper roll; still on target) and started to get a little bit excited. Then I stated to spend a lot of time reading about hatching with broody hens on chicken forums, and staring at crazy rare breed chickens online, and researching chicken genetics. Then I bought a proper candler (+$19=$24). 4 days before hatch, all 6 eggs were alive and kicking. Then I thought: But what if she abandons them at the last minute?  I panicked and bought an incubator, just in case (+$84 =$108).

Then the first chick hatched!

The next day: more chicks. Then snake-based disaster, and a personal meltdown, followed by maybe an hour of sleep.

So, sleep-deprived and faced with evidence that the Plan had failed (or, at least changed; after all, there was still one chick), instead of adjusting my expectations and moving on, I doubled down.

Plan B: snake-proof the coop!

Quickly followed by Plan C: snake-proof the coop and replace the chicks!

When I told Twyla about Plan C, she said, “But Mama, that’s just nature.” Yes, my 5-year-old daughter has more sense than me. For half a second, I saw the absurdity of Plan C and almost went back to Plan B. Almost. Instead, I scrapped my to-do list  and called up Beautiful Day Farms (2 1/2 hours away) to see if I could come get some chicks.

First we stopped at Home Depot for 1/4-inch hardware cloth to skirt the coop, 1/2-inch hardware cloth to replace any chicken wire, and a little shovel better suited to trenching around the coop (+$145=$253). Then we set out for the farm, en route to which I had (and squelched) my WTF moment.

I wanted autosexing breeds so I would be sure of hens. But the hatch of the day only had one: a Crested Cream Legbar; so the rest of the chicks were just 50/50 shot at being hens. Since the hen-hatched chicks would have been 50/50, that obstacle was easy to ignore. We came home with 3 just-hatched chicks (the CCL pullet, a splash Blue Isbar—because Twyla’s one request was a yellow chick—and a Spitzhauben), plus a 4-week-old Svart Hona (Swedish Black Hen–“hen” is nominal only at this point).

Plan C: Twyla’s yellow chick, my Crested Cream Legbar, the Spitzhauben; and the inadvertent Plan D: the Swedish Black Hen (who may or may not be an actual hen).

Since the hatch of the day was pure luck and fulfilled my entire chicken wish list (never mind the rooster question, and that the Svart Hona wasn’t actually a tiny chick and didn’t fit into the Ruby adoption plan), I left feeling like Plan C was a success, not yet noticing I’d actually drifted into Plan D (snakeproof the coop, replace the chicks, and brood another chick myself).

Oh, and +$47=$300 now (The rarer breeds are more expensive, $8-$12 ea instead of the usual $3-4/ea at the feed store. But since none of the feed stores have chicks any more, and expensive small order shipping would have put cheap breeds well over that, and dragged out the timeline, I was still feeling pleased with myself.)

That night, I slid the three chicks under the sleeping Ruby, and everything seemed great. Next morning, two of the chicks popped up from under Ruby along with her original chick, and she started sharing a bit of bread with them. But the little CCL got up after the other chicks, had a good long drink of water behind Ruby’s back, then strolled around the other side to see what everyone was doing. Although the chick had been under her wing all night, Ruby spotted the new arrival, decided she was a threat and an interloper, and immediately and repeatedly chased her off with increasing ferocity. So I pulled her out and put her back with the Svart Hona, who I had since decided needed a roommate so she wouldn’t be all on her own when it was time to send her out into the coop (Plan E). I’d put the CCL chick under Ruby again tonight and they could start fresh in the morning.

But the goth chicken started pecking the little chick and I had to separate them.

That night, the little chick went back under Ruby with no fuss. The next morning, the adoption seemed successful. I noticed the CCL seemed to be mostly staying under Ruby instead of joining the other chicks, but wasn’t too worried. I went back to working on the coop.

As I started to clear out the old hay bales (put there to add some levels for jumping around), I thought I saw something black and smooth disappear deeper into the hay. I pulled back a handful of hay and it happened again. When I abruptly yanked apart the bales, there was a writhing tangle of snake or snakes (I couldn’t tell if it was one big one or a bunch of them), right there in the coop! Aha! Busted!

I ran inside to get the a bin and something to grab the snake(s) with (I came up with kitchen tongs,  comically impractical and immediately abandoned). While I was rushing around, my mom pointed out the frantic peeping coming from the kennel. I stopped to investigate and discovered Ruby pecking the crap out of the beleaguered chick again, so I snatched her away and thrust her at my mom to babysit (since I’d just stolen her brooder for the snake bin).

Getting a snake into a bin isn’t as easy as you might imagine (or maybe your imagination is more sensible). I tried to chase it into the bin–obviously, without luck. I quickly learned that yes, even a pretty big snake can easily clear chicken wire. Once it was outside the coop, I was desperate to catch it before it disappeared, so in the end,  I just grabbed it by the tail and awkwardly forced it into the bin and closed the flaps. (By the way, since I knew it wasn’t venomous, it wasn’t at all scary, just embarrassingly clumsy. And I once anxiously called a neighbor to help with a snake in the building. That one ended up being harmless, too. But I’d had a baby sleeping on the floor in the next room and I couldn’t see the thing’s head or tail, just the patterning, which looked too rattlesnakeish for comfort, so I’d panicked.) But I’m sure there are other snakes—there may have even been others in the coop—I’d spent 10 minutes screwing around with the bin and the tongs and the chick, plenty of time for any others to be a hasty retreat.

Since none of the extension offices I called could give me an answer about how far I needed to move a rat snake, and only the nature park in Lawrence said it was okay to drop one there, I left the snake in its bin with some hay in it and a couple of bricks on top. Later, my friend Charlene graciously took them out to her homestead (no chicks, and she’s in the country too, so another mouser of any species is welcome).

Then I texted the (closer, thankfully) Cream Legbar chicken lady I’d found on craigslist to see if she also had a baby chick for our little rejected peeper (Plan F), as well as the older chick I was already getting as a roomie for the goth chicken. Both pairs seem to be getting along well, thankfully (+$20=$320).

So. Instead of an effortless mixed family of adorable chicks in the coop, I now have: 2 chickens in the coop, an unresolved snake problem (which wasn’t a problem at all with full grown chickens—it kept the mice and packrats at bay), a hen and 3 chicks in a dog kennel, 4 more chicks in 2 separate brooders, and an unknown number of potential roosters.  And I’m down $320 that I really can’t spare (plus a tank of gas: $360). And my life is all chickens, all the time. All because I couldn’t just move the fuck on when something I spent all of 3 short weeks looking forward to didn’t work out exactly as planned. 

And this is the reason I will never be really successful.

(ETA: To be clear, that’s not the only reason I’ll never be really successful. I’m also bad at prioritizing, terrible at time management, and I suffer from spurts of poor impulse control, among many other glaring personality flaws.)

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. After they hatch, either. Just don’t count them.

A couple days before Yarn School, a rooster showed up out of nowhere.

Long story short, for the last 3 weeks, Ruby has been sitting on half a dozen eggs and I’ve been getting more and more excited with every passing day. A few days before the big day, I candled them all and all 6 were a go. Yesterday, one hatched and I was giddy.

Based on the dates, two more were meant to hatch today, so I spent today alternately hanging out in the coop and forcibly removing myself from the coop so Ruby could have some space. As the day chugged along, I watched with delight as more chicks appeared. At one point, I hoisted up Ruby and spotted a third, still-wet hatchling out of a white egg (another of PeeWee’s), as well as a pip in one of Ruby’s own brown eggs–after which, I’d made myself quit poking around under Ruby for fear I’d get her upset and make her squash an egg.  By the end of the day, I’d spotted all 3 little gray chicks from PeeWee’s white eggs scampering around the nest, including the aforementioned hatchling, now almost dry, and alert and eager-looking. I was over the moon. When it got dark, I let the other chickens back in to roost and locked everyone in for the night.

A few hours later, I returned to the coop to turn on the sleep sound machine (which helps keep the rooster from echoing distant crows he hears in the middle of the night or wee hours of the morning), and found Ruby huddled with a chick near the door. Assuming she’d hopped out of the nest after it and stayed with it, I went to the nest box, planning to relocate them all to a crate on the floor. I found a dead not-quite-ready-to-hatch chick and its smashed shell, and one  intact egg, but no chicks. I looked under Ruby and it was just the one, with no dead chicks, no evidence of a dust-up or any chick remains anywhere in the coop. When I realized all but one of the chicks was gone, and I had no idea what had done it, I freaked out and decided to bring her and the chick and the last egg inside and put them in a kennel and try to figure out what happened in the morning.

She was fine when I first brought her into the bathroom (it’s got a heavy self-closing door the cats can’t open). But, probably because I was in a distress instead of the usual calm I keep around her, something had just eaten 3 of her chicks and now I was bothering her, too, she started going bananas rushing all over the place, and trampled the last egg–which I would have waited to put back with her if 1) I wasn’t a fucking dipshit; and 2) I had remembered that I’d actually bought a little incubator in case of emergency (though the “emergency” I’d imagined was her getting bored of setting before she finished those 2 late eggs, not all the chicks disappearing in the middle of the night and one of the eggs getting trampled). I was worried she’d trample the chick, too, so I scooped up the egg, turned off the light, and left her alone to settle.

Later I moved her into the kennel (I’d left her just in the nest box with the chick so as not to further agitate her) and split without checking to make sure the chick was okay, not wanting to cause her any further stress.

Then I spent an hour (and by an hour, I mean 2 hours, because Internet Time) online trying to find if there were any local places I could get day old chicks, mainly because it was breaking my heart and I was projecting on to her.

And then I just started crying and it’s an hour later now and I can’t seem to stop. And I know it’s not the chicks; it’s everything. It’s my fears of failure, generally, and anxiety about motherhood and my career and loneliness and my inability to finish anything anymore. It’s my muddied identity and the crushing blow to my peace of mind and, oddly, to my self-confidence, that came from my dad’s long illness and death.  It’s my worry about my mom and about being an inadequate daughter or mother or partner or friend.  It’s the weight of the animals that are gone and the ones that are here, it’s the needing that new life to balance out the old life, like poor arthritic Honeybunch. It’s just another brick on the giant pile of why-can’t-I-get-it-the-fuck-together.

Sometimes, you really need the pure fluffy joy that is a bunch of bright-eyed baby chicks.

And then a snake or whatever eats them all and it’s over just like that.

It just feels like this grim metaphor for life in general and it’s so. fucking. sad.

So, fingers crossed that last chick is still alive.

Here are some pictures from earlier today, when the world still seemed full of possibility.

Ruby with 2/3 gray chicks from PeeWee’s eggs. I’m sad I didn’t get to see what her chicks looked like. The dead one was too wet and underdeveloped.

Today’s CSA share: garlic, rhubarb, chives, radishes, asparagus, chard, mint, turnip greens. The turnip greens went into an insanely good salad I will be making until the CSA exhausts all greens.

The chives got mixed with good salted butter and frozen in little 2 Tbsp balls for future deliciousness in everything from baked potatoes to blue cheese gnocchi sauce to chops.

Mint simple syrup from the stripped bottom leaves of the stems I intend to root.  Super concentrated because I realized too late I was almost out of sugar.

ETA: The surviving chick is alive and mama is tired and wary. My days of peeking under her unmolested are over. I’m strongly considering driving to Beautiful Day Farms (about 2 hours away in Mo) for a few extra chicks for her. In deciding, I get to anthropomorphize on both sides of the question: “But she worked so hard!” “But does she really want so many to look out for?”  And the followup questions for me: Do I really want more chickens (yes) and What am I going to do about the inevitable roosters? I could get just the sex-linked chicks. Then again, those Svarta Honas, tho…

Project a Week! Well, sorta.

My plan was to finish/produce one new project a week, but it turns out maintaining my focus is easier said than done. Instead of finishing each project in turn, as I meant, I bounced around and did little tidbits of various odds and ends. Le sigh. Still, progress!

Project #1: Use the indigo vats. 

I dyed a duplicate dress of Twyla’s with a not-great ombre effect. Might redip it if I can successfully revive the vats when it warms up. It was really too cool at the time to bother. Plus about 2 yards of gauzy vintage cotton with some kind of a rustic print. The irregular print was actually kinda cool, but the fabric was ugly, stained, busted, and yellowed, so a sloppy overdye actually looks pretty good on it. It will become a summer dress for me, probably.

Project #2: Itchy sparklepants sweater. Status: halted. I ran out of attached yarn and can’t locate the second ball. So it’s on hold. Which is fine because it’s too hot anyway, and Twyla probably won’t even wear it, as she claims it’s itchy. She also claims she’ll wear it over a long-sleeved shirt, but she is a notorious liar.

Project #3: T-shirt rug. Status: woven, needs to be finished. Weaving’s done. The edges look terrible. I’m going to bind the whole thing in twill tape, which I hope will tidy it up. Size is weird, too long (about 6 1/2 feet x 30 in) because I warped my loom 2 years ago and couldn’t remember how long I’d made it, so I just continued until I ran out of fabric. The last couple feet are more irregular because I was using the tops of the shirts, so there were seams and printing. I might take that bit off for a more uniform look and a less awkward size, then use it up later in a cat mat or somesuch. I don’t mind the seams and printing per se, just that it’s all at one end.

What I do like are little details like this, a little nod to my former life (this, from the end where the prints are rarer).

And now I’m being fearless and showing the ghastly edges. I bought some 2-inch black twill tape, but I’d rather a wider edge, so I think I’ll sew use a full strip on each side instead of binding it the usual way, if I can make it look nice. I’d really prefer to machine-finish, but I’m not sure my lightweight machine can make it through all this nonsense.

Project #4: Sideways cardigan. After a false start at the wrong gauge, a disappointing end to the contrast yarn, a relieved additional ball purchased on ravelry, and toying with edging options, I decided to edge it and I picked buttons. I started this sweater when I was less plump. If I were still less plump, I may have left off the ribbing at cuffs and bottom for more of a jacket look, but as I am, I felt I need the length. I’ll get a picture wearing it when it dries.

Pattern: 110-2 Jacket in garter stitch with short rows b y DROPS design. I used Lion Fisherman Wool & Noro Silk Garden Light, different gauge than pattern. It was a really fun knit and I’ll make it again, this time keeping the original sleeve shaping intact, and reversing the order of the skeins at the center back point so the colors are mirrored. As it was, I made sure the front was mirrored, but the idea didn’t occur to me until after the second sleeve, and I didn’t have the fortitude to frog back to center back after frogging and reknitting the whole sleeve for gauge. I really like this, but it’s definitely one of those designs I’m not sure I’d love as much if I weren’t a knitter.

Which brings me to this week’s project. Project #5: Destash Log Cabin Throw, formerly Destash Cardigan. Ugly and ill-fitting sweater, but I think it will be a nice throw. A pain in the ass to frog, thanks to the FIVE balls of yarn, including some really sticky fuzzy strands.

Then:

Now, so far:

Perfect television knitting. 20 x 40 center square, then all the additional strips are x 20. This is my first log cabin. If it goes well, I might make one of those caddywampus short row ones next. But I didn’t want to think at all.

So, yay! I’m on my 4th week of this plan, and I’ve wrapped up 2 projects and made progress on 3 others.  Going forward, I plan to do ONE THING AT TIME, TASKS TO COMPLETION. We’ll see if I succeed.  My new plan is that for ever 2 WIPs I knock out, I get to start something new. I was going to force myself to suffer through all of the UFOs before moving on, but that’s too cruel. It’s already getting hot to knit.

Fiber School inspiration!

I’m always so giddy and inspired after Fiber School that I can’t wait to get started on an exciting new project. Usually I spin around in circles for a few weeks and get nothing done and lose all my good good motivation.

So this time, I decided to make a list of all the projects I want to do, so I don’t forget them. Then I decided that I should dutifully dispatch (finish or discard) all the UFOs in my life before starting anything sexy and new.

Here’s the list, UFOs bolded.

Exciting Projects:

  • Use the indigo vats (this got to cut the line since it’s time-sensitive)
  • T-shirt rug
  • Bags from Yarn School castoff weaving
  • Looped long rigid heddle bag
  • Fractal spin from last year’s Plyaway
  • Fractal spin started at February Spinsters
  • Alpaca batt spin started ages ago
  • Dyed fiber packaged and stored
  • Twyla’s bed
  • UFO Birdy’s sparkle sweater
  • UFO tiny Scout cardigan
  • UFO sideways cardigan
  • UFO Mitered rainbow throw
  • UFP Planned Parenthood mitten pattern
  • UFO Mystery striped forgotten raglan
  • UFO Binge throw
  • UFO Stash cardigan
  • UFO baby seat cover 
  • UFO bacon pillow
  • UFO funnel neck
  • UFO Yarn School sampler
  • UFO garter cardigan
  • UFO Billy socks
  • Unravel and make sleeves on Birdy match sweater bigger or lose the stupid lost weight I gained back
  • Mend Birdy’s matching sweater so she can actually wear it before she outgrows it
  • Mend Little House dress Georgie started to eat
  • Matching Tula Pink octopus dresses for me and Birdy
  • Ditto Tula Pink chipmunk
  • Ditto Tula Pink birds and bees
  • Ditto 1Canoe2 chicken/egg
  • Ditto 1Canoe2 beehive
  • 1Canoe2 quilt
  • Tula Pink quilt
  • Amy Butler quilt
  • 1Canoe2 bloomers for Birdy
  • Neutral fat quarter bloomers for Birdy
  • Rando mix & match fat quarter bloomers or tops for Birdy
  • Dewberry quilt (this is starting to look like I’m a quilter; sometimes I get confused during good sales & think I’m a quilter and end up with a shitload of precuts, which is the case here)
  • Try to revive them with color remover & washing soda when it warms up again.
  • Overdye ugly handspun
  • Freeform tapestry picturey thing
  • SampleIt loom carry bag
  • Experiment wet felting those batts leftover from Felt School
  • Dye up all the white and light brown fiber odds & ends
  • Batts to fill the batts case
  • Locker hooked roving rug
  • Top woven rug
  • Shaggy locks rug
  • Rug warped to color shift
  • Pygora process & trade with Laura
  • Process all the old fleeces accumulated in my closet
  • Back and hang curtain in office
  • Prune surviving apple trees and remove nuisance and dead trees
  • Back door curtain
  • Back window curtain
  • Beer kit!
  • Wine kit!
  • Yardstick growth chart for T
  • More wool balls
  • Silk rug
  • Dyed sheet rug
  • Simple Modern Sewing ruffle jacket
  • Simple Modern Sewing wrap blouse
  • Simple Modern Sewing linen pants
  • Simple Modern Sewing skirt
  • Do a sewalong
  • New feminist mittens
  • last PP mitten variation
  • Giant pile of sheets that need new elastic
  • Hoop and shower curtain
  • Carding videos
  • Cricket planner stickers
  • More bulky socks for dad
  • Eyelet yoke sweater
  • Something with that unspun noro stuff
  • Cardigans and cardigans and cardigans
  • Hot tub time machine!
  • Optimize kitchen drawers
  • Optimize pantry
  • Handknits repair kit (organize project remnant yarn)
  • Year 2 book
  • Year 3 book
  • Year 4 (gulp!) book
  • Twyla’s deep thoughts book
  • Twyla’s art line in my office

So my Big Plan is to do a project a week. I’ve got to finish or otherwise dispatch UFOs before I start new projects. When I’m in Houston, I’ll bring a project with me.

WINTER WOOLFEST RESCHEDULED

Due to concerns about ice this weekend. Winter Woolfest has been moved to Saturday, January 28.

I’m a bit excited to get a couple extra weeks to dye, card, and obsess over my new booth (the Columbian nixed tents this year, so I finally invested in some fancy panels).

Please join us in Wamego at the end of the month for fibery fun!

Tour de fleece 2016, so far

My Tour de Fleece goals this year were modest: 1) a fractal spinning project; 2) complete an unfinished spinning project. Given the volume I still have left of my chosen  YIP, I’m not overly optimistic about my chances, but I’m still going to give it a shot. I’m visiting my folks, so without any competing projects from home, I have more spinning time than usual.

I’ve culled so much of my fiber stash that I had a rough time selecting a good candidate for a fractal spin, since most of my remaining fiber is either natural colored fiber, farm roving, or Hello Yarn dyed in random rather than repeating progressions. Since I didn’t have an ideal candidate, I picked something I though would make a good shawl  (my planned project), a BFL/silk blend.

Hello Yarn for Yarn School, “Kindled” colorway. Halved lengthwise, one half spun continuously, then continue to halve each remaining strip lengthwise and repeat. I think I got a total of 4 splits. You can see how the progressions get shorter across the bobbin with each split. Spun on a Scacht Matchless to Jessica Jones and Sarah & Duck.

Finally, chain-plied to preserve the scale/repeats–except I don’t think the colorway was inheriently suited to this projects, too many colors spaced too closely to really spell out the intention really clearly. I won’t know for sure till I knit it. Either way, it’s soft and beautiful, and a pleasant, gentle colorway.

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Next project, still underway, is to add to the half bobbin spun at the last Spinsters meeting I attended last winter. Started as Littlefarm bicolor roving purchased at Missouri Fiber Retreat in 2011. I think it was BFL, or maybe Finn? It’s always harder to guess roving that top if you can’t remember, since there’s so much variation within a breed & small farm runs can be more indicative of individual animals than the breed standard.

Lazy, sloppy spin in a 2-ply. It’s been all over the place depending on my mood, sometimes careful shortdraw, sometimes fuzzy long draw. I figure it’s going to be a rough, fuzzy, irregular sweater. Spun to lots of Last Week Tonight, a bit of Stranger Things, and Cosmos.

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I brought my Electric Eel with me  to MD Anderson this time for my dad’s chemo & realized if I’d been doing that all of the last year instead of joylessly dicking around on my ipad, I’d have a lot more yarn & sweaters right now. I’m going to leave the Eel in Houston so I can spin whenever the relentless Fox News barrage makes me want to self-deport. (Though today, Dad’s letting T binge on cartoons, so I’ve gotten a refreshing break from the “fair” and “balanced” news (that’s where they put the quotes, right?).

In bright news, dad’s current chemo is making good progress against his cancer, after many months of mixed results, progression, and autoimmune & diabetic complications. It was great getting good news that wasn’t immediately tempered with bad news! If only he would quit smoking, I could start to relax again. Anyhoo, back to spinning!

Knitting again!

I’m knitting again! Huzzah!

Hats are what I should probably be knitting, but since it’s been such a crazy mild winter (with the exception of a smallish ice storm after Thanksgiving that kept knocking out the power for a couple days)–I’m talking December days in the 60s!–it’s been hard to get to excited about hats. And I love sweaters, so that’s where I started.

First up, garter toddler cardigan in 4 balls of Noro Silk Garden Lite (hope to publish the pattern this winter). It’s so cushy and cute, I kinda wanna make my own, but I’m not sure how the shape will suit a woman’s body. But since my own Silk Garden Lite sweater is possibly my favorite handknit pullover (the Silk Garden just wears and resists pilling surprisingly well, especially for a single–though I guess it’s technically kind of a phony single…), it’s very tempting.

As usual, I had to break up the color progressions because the orange was too long and too aggressive to use full strength as it appeared, so I just busted it near both ends and rejoined it to omit the retina-blasting section of all but little bit on the yoke. The buttons are natural antler from Melissa’s Mohair.

And now! I’m making myself a funnel neck sweater from some long-abandoned Schulana Morbido, which apparently only 6 users on all of Ravelry have actually made into anything (and two of them were me, and both of those were frogged or chucked out). It looks like of like a horrid blob of crusty lava on the needles and I was getting nervous about my improvised pattern, so I put it on some scrap yarn at the last Spinsters Club last Sunday (Christmas swap! I got mine stolen three times, but still ended up with something that suits me) and tried it on and huzzah! Down to the shoulders, anyway, it looked pretty much just as I had hoped. Stable, tallish funnel neck and nicely fitted raglan shoulders.

Photo on 12-12-15 at 12.21 PM #5

But since my neck and shoulders are pretty much the only parts of my body I don’t kind of hate right now, we’ll see if I’m as well pleased when I’ve knit my way down to the trouble zones (so, pretty much everything including and below my armpits). I’m about to divide for sleeves, which should spread the funnel out to my shoulders a bit.

The trick will be to find a compromise between the bulk of the yarn and the camouflaging requirements of my lumpy torso and thick arms. I need it to stretched down my shoulders with some negative ease for the funnel to have the look I want, but I don’t want a bunch of lumpy bumpy yarn clingy to my own lumps and bumps, so I need a bit more ease below the pits. Maybe a quick tuck under the bust and then an A-line? But I don’t know how that will shake out.

Besides knitting, I’m busy as usual with my little datebook factory. This year is The Year of the Rascal! I love love love making these, mostly because they involve HOURS of poring over magazines from well before I was born. So many candy-colored appliances, so much bacon & cake, such shiny cars and adorable children and crazy rocket ships, and so, so many bras!

Calendar time, of course, means Überlist time. I haven’t started making my 2016 list, but early December is when I start sifting the current list, writing off anything failed or unrealistic, sorting out and color coding the slim-chance possibilities (instead of actually doing shit), patting myself on the back for the successes, and scrambling to squeeze in a few last-minute accomplishments in a vain attempt to finally, once, ever reach Brenda status (there’s a 90210-based ranking system, and I’m forever stuck in stupid Kelly territory). I’ve got about 3 more days of self-delusion before I scrap 2015 and start dreaming about all the amazing stuff I’ll never get around to next year.

5-minute baby overalls clothespin bag

Ahhh! Fiber School is over, everything’s back in order, and the buildout of Ron’s new tattoo shop is wrapping up. Now if the rain would just lay off for more than a day at a time and let my basement dry out, I could relax.

I haven’t knit in forever and despite my rigorous culling, I was kinda languishing under the weight of a stale stash. But my new rigid heddle loom inventory (a pleasant side effect of Rigid Heddle School) has gotten me energized about weaving, I’m looking at my old stash with new eyes.  I just made a yummy new rug, I’ve already got the loom warped again for another variation & I’m going to build up a nice inventory of them and start selling them this summer. It’s always a struggle to fine a lovely handmade thing that a million other people aren’t making.

Aside from rugs, I’m warping my little SampleIt so I can make one of these amazing bags. Shit like this is why I love Pinerest (everything else is why I hate Pinterest).

On my back-burner to-do list forever has been craft projects from all the baby duds that aren’t special enough to keep or fancy enough to sell. For the most part, that means I have bags of unsorted baby crap, but one of the few things I devised that I think is worth sharing is this baby overalls clothespin bag. Baby overalls are super cute and outgrown immediately. They’re also sturdier than your average baby duds, which make them ideal for something useful you can have in service for many years. Twyla’s still pretty small (though years too big for these), but I’m sure when she’s big, I’ll get a tickle out of thinking of her in these.

Here’s how you make them. Step one, cut off the legs and sew up the bottom.

The other steps (box the corners and screw to a wooden hanger if you don’t want to fuss with latching it over the clothesline) are optional. Shown here, it’s only a quarter full. Filled, it can hold all of my clothespins, which equals more than I need to completely fill my 70′ of clothesline, even with baby clothes.

clothespinbag

(By the way, if you’re fed up with shitty clothespins, invest in some vintage ones from ebay. New ones, even the big ones from Lehman’s, are crap. Maybe they’re fine for gentle climates, but they’re a joke in Kansas wind. Vintage ones are worlds better. Look for the 3 3/4″ size and thick wire in the picture, as  there are a lot of people selling ratty weathered new clothespins as “vintage.” The non-springy type work pretty well on lightweight items, too.)