Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hat in the Making

A while back, I took this photo of the frost on my car window, inspiring a colorway.

Here it is in batt form. Llama with small amounts of kid mohair and glitz. This will be up for sale, but the true color was hard to photograph in batt form. So I stole a little, and spun up a mini skein. Here it is as a singles on my ball winder. This llama(Ollie) has a natural sheen to his fiber, and there is a bit of glitz for an extra sparkle here and there.

The color above is pretty true.

I couldn't stop there, though. I also did a slightly bluer, lighter version. The batts will be up for sale too, but again I stole a little and made up a mini skein.

The skein on the left is the lighter version, the one on the right the first version. The white skein at the bottom is the natural color. They are resting on a batt of the lighter version. I think the batts, spun finely, would make a beautiful Ice Queen.

I am picturing a hat, with the bulk of it knit out of the gray, but with a band of colorwork using the natural and the two mini-skeins. I've never done Fair Isle knitting, and I'm not about to start quite yet. I want to use the Garter Slip Stitch III pattern from Volume One of the Harmony Knitting Guides. I would show you, but I might have the copyright police on me, since it would show the instructions. It has a lot of speckles and interesting color changes, without having to knit stranded. It is a 4 row repeat, changing colors every two rows. It is written for knitting flat, so I will have to convert it to knitting in the round. I'm not exactly positive how to do that, so experimentation will be in order. It calls for a multiple of two, plus 1. I'm thinking I just drop the plus 1, and on the even rows, purl the knit stitches. Any more experienced knitters want to confirm this, or point and laugh at me for thinking it might be that easy?

This is a all in preparation (practice?) for a bigger project. I want to attempt knitting a yoke sweater, like a Bohus, but not. Like the Cobblestone, but not. I want to knit it in the round, stockinette for the body and sleeves, but the yoke in the Garter Slip Stitch III pattern with 3 colors, and steek (for the non-knitters, you cut the knitting up the middle)it to make a cardigan, with a zipper. With all the learning going on, I think it will take me all of 2009 to do. I think this is as close to a New Year's resolution as I'll get.

Speaking of Bohus, the American Swedish Institute is having a Bohus Exhibit, complete with talks and knitting workshops the opening weekend in January. I would love to attend the workshops etc, but I'm sure that won't happen. I'd even be happy to get to see the Exhibit sometime before it leaves in March.

I went to bed with tickle in the back of my throat, and a sense of dread. I woke up with a slight tightness in my chest. I looked up whooping cough online, and put a call in to the doctor. As a preventative, Mom and I will start antibiotics as soon as I can get to the pharmacy today. With whooping cough, antibiotics are only helpful in the very first stages, usually before the cough even starts. I really need to prevent that cough, for both our sakes.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


I did some blending the other day. This is llama/wool/silk/mohair partially overdyed with raspberry, then blended together with a touch of raspberry sparkly stuff. Angelina, I think it's called. I have just over 6 oz. I'm thinking of putting it up for sale, if I could ever get a decent picture of it. I seem to be having problems with that lately.

I gave my sister her yarn on Saturday. She likes it, and started knitting her scarf. This is where she was when we left around 10:30 pm on Saturday. By noon Sunday, she sent a photo of a 9 inch long scarf, and it is now around 13 inches. Yesterday, while at work, she had a coughing fit that left her basically unable to inhale. Luckily, they have a great safety room equipped with oxygen, so they were able to put her on that until the ambulance arrived. They checked her out, but she refused a ride to the hospital because the oxygen had done the trick. She went to the doctor, and they are treating her for whooping cough, although they didn't culture anything. Whooping cough was going around her work, so they are treating her for it anyway. She is home today, resting and knitting.

She told me something her son (6) had said to her on Saturday. He was sorry that Grandma's (Mom)brain was broke, and that he knows she (my sister) misses her (Mom). Waaaah!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Art before Alzheimer's: Madonna and Child

Mom has alway's been creative. Painting, sewing, plastic canvas, needlepoint. After my Dad died in '96, painting was her grief therapy. She painted on anything. Rocks, wood, gourds. She had the knack of seeing something in a rock or piece of wood, then painting it to accentuate what she saw.

Last night I saw an example of this for the first time. It is my sister's, but I've never seen it before. I had to take a photo to show you. Despite my begging and pleading, my sister wouldn't let me bring it home with me (I wonder why?) so I could photograph it in natural light, so they don't do it justice. Still, check this out.

It is signed on the bottom 1998 Ma. Pre-Alzheimer's. Or at least, before we noticed anything amiss.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Went for a Ride

This drift stands between us and our family Christmas celebration tomorrow.

As you can see here, it starts out at just over door handle level, and goes up from there to the left. It also slopes down the whole width of the driveway, and about the length of the car or more. I have to remove it so I can get the truck out of the garage. I have a shovel. Please send masseur. (Blue-eyed blonde named Sven perhaps?)

First, though, I couldn't resist taking a little ride. It wasn't much of one, but I pulled out the trusty blue plastic sled and rode the length of the drift. Yes, I'm 42, but I still can't resist the call of the sled!

Growing up, we lived a couple of blocks from the park at the edge of the lake/Mississippi, with the perfect sledding hill. There was a steep but short hill, then a wide level spot, then a concrete/stone retaining wall/ledge with a 4-5 foot drop to a stretch of sand/beach, then the edge of the lake. Depending on the prevailing wind of the day, there could be a foot or two of open water before the ice started, or there might be a short wall of ice where the wind had caused it to buckle upward. At one point, though, there was just the hill, then a 2 foot drop to the sand, then a slope to the water's edge. If you got a really good run at it, and with the right snow conditions, you could go down the hill, drop onto the snow-covered sand, and down the slope to the water. You had to judge if you had enough speed to make it over the stretch of water onto the ice. Otherwise, you had to bail out before you hit the water, and then hope your momentum didn't roll you into the water. Good times!

Since we are having Christmas tomorrow, Mom and I just had a quiet day at home yesterday, pretty much like any other day. I had my fiber day! Did some dyeing, some blending on the drum carder, and some spinning. It is gray and foggy so I couldn't get any good pictures of the new batts I made (the photos look gray and foggy), but here is the skein of yarn I will give to my sister (a new knitter!) tomorrow. Assuming I get that drift moved.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Does this remind you of anything? I mean, besides the ten thousand other sunsets I've posted.

It reminds me of the radar shots of hurricanes, with the sun as the eye.

You can see the progression as I walked down to the mailbox. The rays kept radiating outward.

And the sun kept setting.
Have a good holiday season everyone. Safe travels, if you are.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas decorating, or not

I don't really decorate for Christmas. My sister is always apalled. I just never really got into it. I have a little fake Christmas tree that I store in the fiber room and just bring downstairs, already decorated. I just plunk it on a snowflake tablecloth, and woohoo, I'm done! I don't bother to undecorate and put everything away every year, I just haul it back upstairs as soon as Christmas is done.

Since Mom moved in with me, my sister has insisted I do more. She brought me Christmas ornament/decoration shopping, and I purchased these garlands with clear and blue beads. They look like branches after an ice storm. I put those up over the windows, hang a few snowman ornaments on the pegs to go with the canoe,chicken and llama ornaments that never come down. I decorate more for winter, than for Christmas, because all of it I usually leave up until March or so.

I also switch out the curtains for winter. These hang on tension rods at the top and bottom, and are backed by a separate fleece curtain to help block the wind. The tension rod at the bottom helps hold it all tight to the window for maximum wind blockage, as on the left. When I want to let the light in, the bottom tension rod gets put up behind the curtain, as on the right. In the spring, I put up the lightweight yellow/blue/green curtains with the same system.

The curtain for the patio door is hung with a blanket behind it, again to help stop the cold.

We had a break in the wind yesterday, so Mom and I went out to the post office and to the store. It was -9, but it felt positively balmy without the wind. I didn't get stuck on the way out of the driveway, but I did on the way back in. A little bit of shoveling did the trick though. The drifts are something to behold. Unfortunately there is a thigh high one in my path between the hydrant and the llamas' water tank. I managed to slop a good bit of water down my leg and into my boot as I was hauling water through it yesterday. I had to quickly dump what was left into the tank and head to the house, as I could feel that water burning as it froze on my leg and foot.

The wind is back today and has shifted, so all those drifts are being redeposited elsewhere. That's why I usually don't bother to shovel, it all just gets put back anyway.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Fiber Day

When I said yesterday that I planned on doing something fibery today, this wasn't exactly what I had in mind.

Please say hello to the latest fiber producer here at MapleCorners.

Yep, that's a gorgeous doe angora rabbit. A friend of mine breeds them, and gave me her for Christmas, complete with wire cage and bag of food. She arrived today in a basket, bow around her neck, and a blanket covering her. I don't know the proper names for the angora colors, but she has black face and ears, and every imaginable shade of gray on her body. Beautiful!

Right now the as yet unnamed rabbit (any suggestions?) is in her wire cage on the floor of my kitchen. My friend keeps her rabbits in the barn, so she is probably hot here in the house. I don't have a proper rabbit hutch, and am afraid predators (raccoon and possums) could get through the cage if I put her out in one of the barns. Plus, I don't think I could carry her through the drifts and wind to even get to one of the barns. We're in the middle of another storm. My friend and her daughter got back home (30-40? miles away) just as the winds hit.

My friend realized that I may not want another being to care for, and offered to bring her back home if I wasn't ready/didn't want her. I have thought about adding angora rabbits for a long time, and almost purchased some a couple of times, but in the end had always decided not to, figuring I had enough on my plate. How can I say no to this face though?

Angora blends well with alpaca and wool, and creates a wonderful yarn. My friend says I can use her buck for breeding, if I so choose. Can you imagine how cute baby angora bunnies are? I think I'll wait and see if I can keep up with this one. She may end up going back to her momma if I can't do it.

Friday, December 19, 2008


We got another 5-6 inches of snow last night.

I knew it was coming, so Mom and I went to the post office, library, farm store, office supply store, and grocery store yesterday. So much fun. I found a toaster on sale at the farm store. I needed a new one because Mom picked up the cord and walked away with it. The toaster crashed to the ground into several little pieces. That toaster was at least 24 years old. I probably would have waited for spring for a garage sale to buy one, but Mom must have her waffles.

I got some disheartening news. The senior program that had recently expanded their services to my town told me that they can't supply a volunteer, because Mom is too challenging to care for. I suppose they don't want the liability, since she puts stuff in her mouth. I was hoping to have someone visit her just to keep her awake and occupied while I am working here in my home office. I didn't think that would be that difficult, but I guess I was wrong. There went that little bit of hope.

On a happier note, I got one box of fiber back from the fiber mill. I am expecting another. I plan to take a mental health day tomorrow and play with fiber as much as I can.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Mom wouldn't go to bed last night. Actually, she went to bed about ten times, but she was up ten or fifteen minutes later each time. It wasn't until 3:15 am that she finally stayed in bed and went to sleep. I tried everything, toilet, cookies and milk, rubbing her back, rubbing her feet, nope, she wanted up. She was up dancing around, laughing and whistling (sort of) the theme from Hogan's Heroes. We had watched an episode a couple of days ago, so that surprised me and made me smile. But I mostly wanted to scream! And cry. And just give up.

I wouldn't want anybody to think I'm all cheeriness and light all the time. I try to keep a positive attitude, but sometimes, especially when I'm tired like today, it just sucks the mother lode. Caregiving is haaard! And I swear if one more person in my real life tells me "Oh, you have to take care of yourself first," without either offering to help or even a suggestion as to how I could actually do that, I'm going to take their platitude and shove it up their you know what. Yeah, I'm feeling resentful today too. Which then brings on the guilt. Ugh. (You blogger friends know I'm not talking about you, right? I don't know what I'd do without your support. It's the people who say call me any time for anything and when you finally give in and ask for help, and then you never hear back from them, that have my panties in a wad.)

So anybody else out there want to mess with me today? Huh? Huh?

Monday, December 15, 2008


You know on those hot, humid summer nights when you try to sleep all sprawled out so no body part is touching another body part because you don't want to generate any body heat, and you hope to find a cool spot on the sheets? I slept that way last night, trying to have as much contact with the bed as possible.

I have discovered the joy of an electric matress pad. Where have they been all my life? I am never getting out of bed again.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

360 Sunset

I didn't get photos of the whole thing. I got only about 150 degrees. Starting south.




I was hoping to turn east and get the moonrise, but there were too many clouds. The sky was pink that way too, but I decided to stop because I had run outside in just my house sandals, (and clothes of course, I'm not stupid. Ok, no jacket or coat though. It was 40 degrees here yesterday!) following tire tracks that had crunched the snow down.

Can I also tell you how much I love my blue plastic sled? Although it is about 37 right now, there is a cold front coming, and wind chills are expected to be -30 to -35 here by morning. I wanted to give the animals more bedding, as well as some of the extra good hay, both of which are stored in the granary, about 75 feet from the llama barn. Rather than carrying the bales through the drifts, I loaded them, two at a time, on the little blue plastic sled of joy, and pushed them over to the barn, lighting skimming across the drifts. Yeehaw, I love when a plan actually works!

I spread out the two bales of bedding, and fed the one bale of "candy" hay. The other I'll save to feed tomorrow. Now at least it is over in the llama barn, and I can just run out there to feed it, and not have to lug it over. In those temps, skin can freeze in seconds, so the more I can get done today, the better.

I hope all you up north readers are doing ok. We just got some rain, no blizzard like you are getting.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Isn't it amazing how, even frozen, water still ends up looking like waves?

If I were any good with Photoshop, I'd put a little surfer dude riding that wave. I'm not, so use your imagination.

The five inches of snow we got Monday night was transformed by the bitter winds that came Wednesday.

I walked out to the mailbox yesterday, and saw waves in the driveway ditches.

The snow from the field ended up caught by my driveway. The ditch is full, so now it is starting to drift over the driveway too. I'm glad the truck has 4 wheel drive.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What is it?

I found this little doohickey in my toaster, along with a little piece of paper. I thought maybe it was a little foot for a counter appliance, but nothing is missing anything. It obviously covers a nut or something, but I can't find what it goes to. It is fairly soft and pliable.

I never know what I'll find in the toaster.

EDITED at 11:30 pm to add: Found it!

It is the covering for the on/off switch for my flashlight. That was driving me crazy. Mom often carries it around (no batteries in it), I never thought of it as unsafe before. I have now hid it in the cupboard.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Poor Judy

I think Mom was prepping Judy for a little brain surgery.

I can't get it off.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

No big ting.

We only got about 5-6 inches. It might get interesting when the winds pick up later, they're forecasting 15-20 mph, with gusts to 30. Here are some random photos. I liked the little snowcap on the fencepost.

Monday, December 8, 2008


Llamas got an extra bale of hay, all water buckets outside are full, plus I filled two 5 gallon pails and brought them inside.

Chickens fed and watered and coop door securely fastened, rechargeable battery thingy for the pellet stove is charging and in the house, pellet stove is full, and pallet of pellets is sitting right outside the door.

Leftover pot of chili and cornbread muffins with corn, onions and peppers (story about that later) are waiting to be warmed for supper, and a whole lot of cookies are available to tap into if it comes to that.

The weather service's timing was spot on. The winter storm warning went into effect at 3pm. I looked outside at 2:50, nothing. Looked again at 3, and flakes were just starting and it has been going gangbusters since then. I made these preparations because there was talk of ice in the mix, which is never good. If their snow totals prove as correct as their timing, we should have 6 to 10 inches of snow out of this storm before it all ends tomorrow afternoon. Yeeehah!

Another baking PSA. If you get the idea to add a bag of frozen corn/onions/peppers to some cornbread, mix the cornbread first, then fold in the frozen vegetables. Don't just dump everything in the bowl and start mixing. The frozen veggies will freeze the milk instantly, resulting in a very dry mix that won't mix because there is no liquid. All is not lost though. Hold it in front of the pellet stove for a few minutes, the milk will thaw and you can eventually moisten everything enough to put into the muffin tin and bake as per normal. Very tasty, and perfect with chili!

Wait, three posts in a row without photos? Am I sick?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas Baking

My sister came over yesterday, and we baked up a storm. Between the two of us, we did 7 different items, then each kept half.

I never liked baking cookies. It just seems so inefficient to me. I like bars. You mix it, put it in a pan, bake it, cut into squares, boom, done. Not the constant in and out of the oven, rolling into a little ball or whatever. Yesterday just confirmed my dislike. My sister made these cookies that I adore but would never bake myself. Mix the dough, roll into balls, dip in egg wash, roll in walnuts, bake five minutes, take out and press a dip into each one, then bake another five minutes. Let cool, then fill the dip with white frosting, and press an M & M into the frosting. The result is heavenly, but I'm not making them.

Don't get me wrong, we had a wonderful time, chicken wild rice soup for lunch, salami sandwiches for supper, and ended the night wearing mixing bowls on our heads, (don't even ask) but the cookie thing about drove me crazy. Bars are the way to go!

Of course, I have to laugh at myself. I'll spend a year or more in the process of taking fiber from alpaca to shawl, but won't spend a few hours baking cookies. It's all about what you love doing, right?

Saturday, December 6, 2008


If you're making Spritz cookies and the cookie press just isn't working right, check to see if there is an egg sitting on the counter.

Friday, December 5, 2008

A day like yesterday, sunny but cold and windy,(-5 windchill when I was out) is good motivation to actually patch that hole in the thigh of my favorite chore jeans. I was trying to figure out why that leg was so cold. Duh. Those clouds were dropping very isolated snow showers, then the wind was blowing snow across the ground. It was like a very cold fog effect. It also made for a nice sunset a couple of hours later.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Mama Pea asked a question about fulling, and Rick very capably answered in the comments. The above is the triangle straight off the loom, without fulling. The weave is pretty open.

Here it is after fulling. The weave is closer, the fulling has created more of a fabric. I just hand washed it in hot water with a little bit of dishwashing liquid, and squeezed and rubbed slightly between my hands. I rinsed in hot, then cold water. The combination of hot water and agitation caused it to full. The shock of cold water also helps the fibers to tighten up. Bear in mind I did this on purpose. Don't wash your favorite wool sweater/socks/whatever this way!

This little triangle alone works great as a scarf around the neck and buttoned in the back. It covers that little triangle at your neck where your coat doesn't go. However, I plan on stitching it together with several more to form a stole. I haven't decided if I should stitch using the same yarn, so that the seams disappear, or use a contrasting yarn so the stitching becomes a design element. I have more to weave before I have to worry about that though.

Look, Ursa the dog made a snow angel! I saw her rolling first this way then that on her back in the snow. When she got up and walked off, I couldn't resist taking the photo. Her tail made the head of the angel. She's so talented.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Winter is back!

A few inches of snow on the metal roof of the granary makes for some odd icicles.

The snow started to slide off the roof, taking the icicle with it, but then stopped. Can you see the two droplets in mid-drop? (If somebody with more knowledge about Blogger can explain why some pictures can be clicked for big, and some can't, I'd sure like to hear. It is always a crap shoot for me where that is concerned. In other words, help anybody? ETA: Thanks to Rick's help in the comments, you can now click for big. Thanks Rick!)

A short Mom story. I am constantly asking Mom, "What's in your mouth?" because I just never know what she has put in there. Usually, she opens her mouth to show me. This time, she nonchalantly and immediately answered, "Mice," and kept on chewing. Don't worry, it wasn't mice, it was just a piece of turkey. She makes me laugh every day!

Monday, December 1, 2008


Some of you may remember that I don't particularly like heights. I'm ok if I have something sturdy under me, like a mountain. In other words, looking over the edge of a cliff doesn't bug me. A look-out tower does. I get light-headed. Closed steps ok, open steps or ladders, no thank you. Yes, I'm a freak.

When I caught the rooster on Saturday, I failed to mention that he was at the very top of the hay bales in the llama barn. I didn't have a problem getting up there, the bales were sturdy. I caught him, tucked him under my arm, and started back down. I hit a wobbly bale. Oops. It's hard enough to hold onto an unhappy rooster while climbing down bales. Add light-headedness to the mix and you can imagine my predicament. I let him go, and climbed down two levels of bales. He hadn't moved, so I was able to catch him again and get down the rest of the way without incident.

Look, I worked on my sock over the holiday.

Another inch or two and I'll start the toe.

After knitting about 6 inches, I also gave up on knitting a lacy, airy stole. I decided to weave it instead.

This is an 18 inch tri-loom. The weaving is done from the top down, and from the outside to the inside. I'll weave several of these, then stitch them together. I'm still using the alpaca/wool/silk/angora yarn that I had allotted for knitting the stole. It will full some, but because the yarn is fairly fine it should still make for a light open weave.