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Things I do when I’m not farming: knitting

Mostly I’m putting this here as a blog post in the hope that it will inspire a vague sense of accountability and I’ll actually finish this thing. You see, I’m one of those knitters who’s really good at starting projects but really terrible at finishing them, which leads to a certain accumulation of forlorn unfinished objects.

My latest project is a shawl, from the “A Handsome Triangle” pattern in Victorian Lace Today. Except that I hate knitting with lace weight yarn, aka “thread” and also shawls knit with tiny yarn are very pretty but basically useless for staying warm. So instead I’m knitting it from heathered brown wool, in fact Fisherman’s Wool from Lion. It won’t win awards for the delicate beauty of the stitches and pattern, but it will be a durable, warm, functional garment. The lace pattern is a little too fancy for me to call it Shaker-esque in its simple, functional beauty. But my preference is definitely for items of clothing that prioritize durability and functionality over, say, the ability to pull the whole thing through a woman’s wedding ring. Much like my beloved Soay sheep, this is a shawl meant to endure and be good at its intended function rather than being flashy and high-maintenance.

Oh wait, you wanted a picture? Here’s part of one half, all stretched out so you can see the lace pattern.

Dark brown sweater-weight wool, knitted into a pattern reminiscent of over-lapping leaves on a vine.

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I’m still standing

Ack! I am sorry to have worried people with the long quiet – I didn’t realize quite how long it had been and then people started getting worried. Everything is fine here, it’s just been a busy time! What have I been up to?

1) Working Sid! He worked for four hours, a new record, at the State Fair one Saturday. He was freakin brilliant and handled everything with grace except for some worry when we were among the various steam engines. I had a bit of a nervous moment when we decided to cautiously try looking at the goats. I was worried that Sid would distress the goats and was prepared to leave quickly if they looked alarmed. What I was not prepared for was the fact that the goats all started moving towards us in their little pens, even climbing up on the panels to get a better look. We skedaddled before we could find out what, exactly, the goats were intending to do. It just seemed easier on everyone that way.

He also worked for a couple hours at Carter Mountain Orchard another Saturday, and was mostly brilliant. But we clearly need to work harder on his “Ignoring Other Dogs” skills.

I’ve added a banner to his harness handle that says “IGNORE ME I’M WORKING” which is helping HUGELY reduce the number of people who decide to try to distract him while he’s working, but I’m still kind of bitter about the die-hard dog lovers who just have to coo and call to him. It’s extra embittering because it means I don’t feel very much like I’m part of the wider community of Dog People anymore since they’re the ones who absolutely insist that their desire to interact with Siddy is more important than my safety.

2) Doing Chickenstuff! I set 24 eggs in the incubator a little over 10 days ago, so they’ve still got a while to go. I candled them at the 10 day mark and three had not developed, so I pulled them. There’s a couple others I’m not sure about, so I’ll be candling them again here soon to see if those eggs have developed at all and if not, pulling them to make room for hatching, which should happen between October 21 and 23 (there’s a bit of a range of dates that I was setting eggs). Meanwhile I’m waiting (im)patiently for the silkies I bought earlier this year to finish growing up, but I think I have a good breeding trio of blues and a black rooster (Belphegor).

This weekend we’re building some breeding pens for chickens, renovating existing chicken pens, and generally winterizing them all. If you’re local enough to want to help out let me know, we will feed you after we have used you for manual labor!

3) We are pretty sure Mr. Thomas a Beckett has a home! The last remaining problem is that it’s in Boston. I have a ride for him on October 26th or 27th up to Ruby, NY, but we still need to get him that last 200 miles, so if you are between Ruby, NY, and Boston, MA, and would like to help Mr. Beckett get home, please click on “Contact” up there and let me know!

4) Cleaning out my yarn stash with the help from maid sailors maid service. The time has come to admit that I do not knit enough to reasonably keep all the yarn I have, so I’m going through it and selecting a bunch to send off to friends who are busier knitters than I am. This has cleared out a bunch of room in the yarn closet, which let me clean off a good chunk of my work table, but there’s still more to do (mostly getting dog paraphernalia somewhere else to live) so that I can set up my sewing machine and serger. Of course, in the middle of this the eggs in the incubator are going to hatch and my room is going to be filled with baby chickens again…

5) Knitting. I know, I just said I don’t knit much. But when the weather gets cooler, I get the urge to knit things, and since fall has descended upon us most emphatically, I’ve taken up yarn and needles again. I also need to go ahead and clean out my stash of dyeable stuff by actually dyeing it and then possibly seeing about selling it as I must admit that, realistically speaking, I am not going to wear that many silk and cotton scarves. Although it is getting colder…

I think that’s everything! Well, not quite, we also hit up the Fall Fiber Festival and Sheepdog Trials at James Madison’s Montpelier, which was a hoot and a half and I bought a very small and reasonable amount of yarn and also a lambskin to use padding out some spots on Sid’s harness that I’m not entirely happy with. Watching the border collies move sheep around is always great. Usually it’s quite warm for the fiber festival and the sheep are kind of somnolent; this year it was cool and damp and the sheep were belligerent and giving the dogs and shepherds a lot more trouble than I’ve seen previously. And there was a visit to Blackthorn Kennel so Sid could run around like a lunatic and Daniel and I could hang out with Christine and admire her chickens. Sid still desperately hopes that Christine’s dog Coal will be his friend, and Coal just keeps ignoring Sid while Siddy gets more and more frantic licking his face and wagging his tail and generally acting like a kid with no friends sucking up.

I think that really is everything this time… I will try to behave myself and not go so long without updates!