Busy Bee!

What a week! After a week of my awesome new craft-reward-enhanced To-Do listing, I have been awfully productive! Not only have I gotten a lot done, but I’ve made time for myself to do my personal crafty stuff. I’ve decided that any crafty rewards I earn each week expire on Sunday, so that kind of urges me to use them up.

I’ll start with the best: Pet Sally Cardigan knitted, steeked, and finished! Modeled by Little Freddy Pickles.

Sally Pet Cardigan

Sally Pet Cardigan

Sally Pet Cardigan

Sally Pet Cardigan

Sally Pet Cardigan

We are not amused. Sally Pet Cardigan

The Pet Sally Cardigan arose from a need to test out superwash steeking. I figured as long as I was going to make and steek a swatch, I may as well make it into something useful, something that would actually test the integrity of the steek. I’m going to post the mods for a pet sweater on my craftzine post next week, if you want to make your small dog or cat a matching Sally sweater.

It only takes 2 balls of yarn (I used Valley Yarns Valley Superwash to test the steek), but due to my poor planning, I didn’t have enough red for the button placket. If you make one repeat shorter and take a couple rows off the ribbing at collar, hem, and cuffs, I think you’d have enough for the button placket as well. It uses a full ball of the MC and the better part of the ball of CC. Now, it just so happens I have enough left over from each Sally to make a cat sweater in the opposite colorway. I see some atrocious pet portraits in my future…

My own Sally Cardigan from the KAL, steeked (suddenly much less exciting, as human-sized):

Sally Cardigan KAL: steeked!

March pound of fiber, finished:

March Pound of Spinning: Forsythia Habit

Mystery project, finished and blocked:

Mystery project

And I updated SEVEN wordpress blogs with the current software, not because I’m a real go-getter, but because my host upgraded its version of PHP, so they had to be upgraded. I also solved the mystery issue with the years-neglected Out of the Frying pan database and did some cleaning.

Sadly, I didn’t get to have my work swap with Charlene this week. My friend Charlene and I decided to start a work trade around our places. She also lives in the country in a place that has a to-do list a mile long, so we decided to swap two full days and two half days each month to help each other with all our two-man projects. Last week we took out some old fence, staked some trees, planted some other trees and fenced them with electric to keep out her goats, and cut back a hulking forsythia. And on my day this week, it was not only storming all day (and most of my plans were outdoors), but I also wrenched my neck a few minutes after I woke up, and am still suffering from it today (it has improved, though). So we’ll catch up next week. I want to get rid of the army of saplings that has invaded my pasture, fix up the hay shed, and maybe, just maybe, get started on the deck!

We saved the wood from the old playground when we turned it into a barn. We had to raise the level of the deck  a couple feet (so it was at least high enough for short people like me and Ron to clear) and put in a tin roof, but our plan was always to replace the boards and maybe add a frame over the top we could cover with Coolaroo fabric for a lovely, shaded picnic area/deck overlooking Cupcake Ranch. But our to-do list, of course, is endless, and there’s always something more pressing looming. But I think the summer of work swap just might yield me my deck!

I also picked my April pound of fiber to spin, fittingly all the Yarn School bits & bobs:

April's pound to spin: Yarn School scraps

This isn’t quite a full pound, but between the extra carder barf and the sample batts I made for demos, I should be able to muster the requisite 16 ounces.

I’m spinning it fine then chain-plying. The one bat I spun was pretty rough stuff–I don’t know what was in it, but I wouldn’t call it next-to-skin. My original plan was for a sweater (I almost always wear shirts under sweaters, anyway, because I’m a delicate flower), but I’m not sure yet. The yarn might be too busy. I’m going to wait until it’s all done for it to tell me what it is. I could always use it as an excuse to pull out the neglected Knitter’s Loom and make a throw in a couple panels…. We’ll see what it wants to be once it’s spun.

And last but not least, I’m working on a new pattern. I really want to focus on handspun, thanks to my growing pile of sweater-sized batches of handspun from my pound-a-month challenge. I’ve had the good fortune to design several projects of Craftzine and Knitty lately, but I’m typically getting yarn support for those, so they’re not winnowing my stash. Meanwhile, it’s growing a lot from my amped-up handspun output. To combat the imbalance, I’ve decided to concentrate on handspun a bit more.

Feelin' Froggy handspun

spun from last year’s Tour de Fleece output:

Tour de Fleece greenies, washed!

This was about 10 ounces of a pretty bold colorway I had leftover from one of the Cuckoobatts Club batts, plied with my Succulent combed top. The wool was just plain domestic wool, and the succulent has medium wool and merino plus plain and sparkly nylon, so it’s a net-sturdy socky kind of yarn. But since it’s a heathery solid that coordinates pretty closely with the hand-dyed colorway, it gives the knitted fabric much softer transitions that mitigate the sometimes kind of glaring crafty look you get with handspun from really bright colorways.

In Cupcake Ranch news, everyone’s enjoying the fresh grass. I let the sheep loose on Sunday when I moved the electronet. That always makes for a little crazy fun.

DSC09420

They’ll be back in their jackets soon, but I’m letting them enjoy a little nudism for the time being.

Agnes & Fudgy

Ronnie & Jayne

Hokey Pokey

When the grass is really tender, they do a fantastic job “mowing” it. Here you can see a pretty straight line between the long grass and their last pasture, before I moved the fence.

The sheep mow a path

Once it goes all stemmy, it’s not as tidy looking and I have to mow over it afterwards to get the fresh growth back in.

I had a little worry over Bridgette last week. I won’t go into all the boring details, but let’s just say it culminated in a late-night chicken bath and, ahem, a chicken blow-dry–I couldn’t leave her soaking wet and freezing!–and a night at the Hen Hilton (aka a box filled with shredded paper in the basement), followed by an afternoon of me intermittently guarding her so the other greedy chickens didn’t keep her from eating. Sounds a little over the top (and I admit, I felt the same way, sitting with a wet chicken in my lap and a blow dryer in my hand), but mainly it just meant I was knitting outside in the fresh air instead of inside (I had a couple design deadlines), so it was no skin off my nose. And by the next day, she was back to her piggy self.

As a side note, man, chickens can be brutal. They’re lovely and funny most of the time, but they can sniff out weakness and turn vicious. Okay, I’m a little hypersensitive because Bridgette’s my favorite–it’s not like they were attacking her (though they were back when she was convalescing after the Dog Attack); they were just keeping her away from the food with well-placed pecks. Normally, chickens either peck back or just walk over to a more friendly spot at the table, but when they’re feeling less-than, they tend to just cower and cringe–and not get anything to eat.

Inara makes an entrance

Inara, who is, best as I can tell, Head Girl. She’s been at the top of the pecking order since Patty, the then-leader, was carried off by a wandering dog. Most of the time, she’s a rather benevolent leader, but from time to time, she’ll go all Mean Girls on your ass. Faith is by far the most aggressive hen, but has never had top status. She’s more of an Enforcer. Back when she was just a few days old, she pecked two chicks’ eyes till they were swollen shut, so she was separated for two weeks. I don’t know whether her status never recovered or whether there’s some subtlety to chicken culture that requires a more refined leadership, but despite her scrappiness, she’s never been the top hen.

  • knitxcore says:

    phew/! that was a marathon post.
    i really tried to read it all, but the whole time i just couldn’t stop thinking about that cat sweater. haha.

  • Krista says:

    Nice knit and yarns! Love the blue-green fibers! Those chickens do sound vicious. My husband and I are planning to eventually raise some chickens of our own. You’ve given me new perspective in what to look forward to haha!

  • Louise says:

    Oh my goodness, what a cute cat sweater!

  • Christine says:

    great blog! I love love love your kitty cat and his beautiful sweater.
    You are so creative and talented!

  • Rita says:

    Love the kitty sweater.and of course the kitty!! I would love to make one for one of our family kitties. Your yarns are beautiful!!

  • cindy says:

    Wow, I love the kitty sweater, your yarn and love the sheep pics and chicken stories. I love to photograph both and miss living where I can have chickens. My chickens would always go after my toes in the summer if I had paainted them red! Thanks for sharing!

  • Karen says:

    What a lovely and fun blog! I love the work swap. Most of my friends work for money >:( I should move to the country!

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