Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bunny Mittens

Ever since I saw and purchased the book Selbuvotter, I have been in love with Folk Style Mittens.  My first challenge, two years ago, was to make a child sized pair for granddaughter Amelia.

After that I was hooked on this way of looking at knitting.  Of course I have been enamored of Fair Isle/ Stranded Colorwork for a very long time so the Folk style mittens and hats just added to my library of books, knowledge and projects.

With the advent of Finger Knittin' Good, which features fingering yarn in other than socks, my imagination was allowed to run wild, resulting in two patterns with Stranded Colorwork in the Folk Style -  mittens and a coordinating hat.   The mittens are now realized with the hat/tam soon to be as well.  Or maybe it will turn into a Donegal/newsboy style cap?  We shall see what comes off the needles very soon.

In my mind I imagined solid colored angora yarn for part of this set and a colorway wool for the rest but just could not settle on which colors.  I waited for Rhinebeck intending to bring home some nice angora/merino/mohair fingering yarn but that deal fell through.  sigh    However, since Rhinebeck feels almost limitless, I walked around with an open mind and sure enough some lovely natural grey angora/alpaca/merino fell into my hands.  Right away I knew which colors to dye the wool yarn -- deep burgundy and teals.  Once the ang/alp/mer yarn was in hand, the entire look seemed to emerge whole from my mind.

Being a math teacher for 22 years left me with many skills, one of which is charting and making things work out numberwise. A very satisfying thing to do.  I got out my pattern making notebook and Knit Visualizer.  Together they are perfect for writing and conjuring patterns.

A regular ribbed cuff was not my desire I so played with several ideas until this one was the winner.

And here, my friends, is the thumb hole, now waiting for its thumb.

While I was immersing myself in the fiber overload that is Rhinebeck, my gloves disappeared.  I must have taken them off, put them down to look at something and just forgot to pick them up. They were not special but I did look for them without success.  It was a rather chilly day with temps in the 30's and either drizzle or rain or just blah but definitely a day for gloves if one was going to be outside.  I must have walked around inside buildings A & B several times looking for an inexpensive pair of gloves I would want to wear more than once.  Ones that fit one or the other of those criteria were findable but not both.  Finally I gave up and ate some lunch under a large umbrella meant to keep the sun from the eater but today doing duty as a rain shield.   By the time lunch was done I knew if I wanted to stay comfortable, gloves or at least mittens were a necessity.

As I was walking toward the barns I spotted the alpaca tent.    Aha!  A whole tent of 'Made in South America' alpaca items.  Sure enough there were mittens and gloves and hats and scarves and sweaters in every size and color.  I picked out some gloves and went to pay for them.  The person on check-out was wearing convertible mittens.  OH.  MY.  YES.   That's really the ticket.  I love mittens as they are warmer than gloves, but rarely wear them as they seem too limiting.  She showed me where her's were displayed and I happily pawed through the basket until I found these.

  I LOVED wearing them and found them so versatile and useful.  All day they stayed on my hands, even while knitting in the Fiddling Tent.  What a great combo idea.  AHA my brain said, "Why not incorporate this idea into your bunny mittens?"

I put my back brain to work while figuring out the basics and nuances of mitten pattern writing.  I also really interviewed those convertible alpaca ones.  Making individual finger necks can be a royal a pain. So to avoid that downer  I thought of simple a simple finger collar where all four fingers were shielded but stayed together.  Jim pointed out that a mere fingerless glove section would eventually pull down, leaving a gap where cold air would come in, essentially negating the warm usefulness I was trying to engender.  More thinking ensued.  Good thing it is chilly as my brain sure was making heat.

Once the thumb and palm are done do we first make the flap or the finger necks?  Such a delightful dilemma.  I pondered this decision for several days until Cathy said the fingers would be more of a pain after the flap than before.  Cathy often makes excellent suggestions.

However doing this either way necessitates making a row of stitches that are on waste yarn &/or have to be picked up later.  I solved this one by leaving the original circ right in the mitten and then, with a new circ, picking up stitches from inside the mitten, in the same row with the ang/alp/mer to make the finger neck.

I also solved the fingerless question by making two two-finger necks.  Holds up the glove well, is warm and fuzzy yet cuts down on those teeny tiny going around and round individual finger necks.

Once the necks were done picking up the back-of-hand stitches was relatively simple.  Since the original circ was still there I just moved all those stitches from the cord onto the shaft and continued the chart, plus cast on for the flap section.  I am hoping this can be explained well enough in the pattern. At any case, I will be having a test knitter work these up so that should solve the clarity issue.

After each round I looked at the back of the hand to see if a bunny had yet emerged.  Finally one did.

I was so excited I stayed up late to finish this first mitten.  It also helped that Jim was watching the first game of the World Series so kept me informed of what was going on.   Yay Phillies!  Plus I got to see some nifty Mac commercials.  Go Apple!

Here's the mitten converted with the flap pulled back, over the fingers and secured by a button on the cuff.

And the mitten as a mitten.

There will still be a few minor charting changes to aid in the bunny looking more like a bunny but essentially we are ready to type up the pattern.

We are definitely ready for you to sign up for our Finger Knittin' Good Club which starts out with this mitten, then the coordinating hat, then a shawl and lastly a warm pair of easy toe up socks featuring some HAND SPUN yarn

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Big Boys Toys

Monday morning while I was working in the dyeing room my attention was alerted by that really annoying beeping noise machines make when they back up.  I looked out and this is what I saw.
The Newfield Highway Department had returned to pick up the logs left by the fallen tree.  Jim and I were surprised and very pleased as we thought the remaining logs were our job.  I was so amazed by the work these guys were doing I stopped everything to gawk and take pictures.

This is Brian sawing up the downed tree.

Brian again, almost under the Gradall, which was expertly run by Kenny. The two of them barely seemed to communicate yet worked together as a wonderful team.  Kenny could put that bucket, which turned any way he wanted, any where he wanted.

When they had most of the downed tree in the dump truck I looked up and up and up and asked it they were going to take the topped tree as well.   Brian said, "Might as well, while we are here."

So they made a notch near the base of its trunk to help the tree fall across the road instead of somewhere more dangerous.

Then Kenny maneuvered the bucket part of the Gradall between other trees and behind the one coming down and pulled.

Perfect landing.


Back before we had rural delivery we went down every day to our little Trailer Post Office in West Danby to pick up our mail.  We therefore had to nail our address to a tree so folks could find us. Rural delivery has been a regular courtesy for many years now so the tree marks the end of an era.

The driveway view now as compared to a few days ago.

And wha la --- the new mailbox with a resurrected post courtesy of temporarily one-armed Jim.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Damage

The nice new charger worked like a charm.  BOTH, repeat BOTH cameras now have fully charged batteries and both work.
So this is what I saw when I came out yesterday morning (only I took these this morning).

The new box has been sprayed blue and is now awaiting its decorations in copper.
Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

It was a dark and stormy night.

A little after nine last night I went upstairs to get myself ready for bed.  Before I turned the light on I noticed headlights at the end of our driveway so I just stayed still to see who was here so late.  I waited and watched and finally saw a shadow go toward our mailbox and then return to the car.  "Aha", I thought, "Someone putting political flyers out for the local election."  Then I saw a tall dark figure walking down our driveway.  I read way too many mysteries for my own good.

I went back down the stairs, turned on the porch light, told Jim someone was coming and then turned on the side stairs light too.  Jim went out holding his heavy cane and called to whomever.  I heard a faint voice and then Jim answering but was still clueless except for him asking if the person wanted us to call someone.  Then Jim asked him if he knew how go around?   Huh?

Jim came back in and explained that our road was blocked by a downed tree.  Considering how windy and rainy it was and with so much shaking going on I was not surprised.  I was actually pleased that at least this tree did not knock out our electricity as the last 2 on our road did.   I called the Newfield Town Barn and was told someone would be out soon.   Sure enough within half an hour a pickup truck with blinking lights was parked near the end of our driveway.

Meanwhile I had gone back upstairs still holding the book I was reading that I had gone up with the first time (have you read the Miles Vorkosigan series?  Oh my, 13 well written interesting exciting books in this addiction.)   I heard chain saws and saw shadows from the truck headlights.  I could see two men going back and forth for at least 30-40 minutes.  The play with the blowing tree branches, darkness, shadows and blinking and still lights was a good show.  I did think about going out to kibbitz and find out just what had come down but my tiredness and the weather negated my impulse.

This morning I donned a raincoat and went out to the leaf covered driveway.  Before I even got to the end I could see what had happened.  A large tree from our side of the road came down and took out part of another large tree plus part of our lilacs and smashed the mailbox besides blocking the road.   I spent quite a while clearing branches off our driveway, then went in to get the new-to-me camera to photograph this latest weather extravaganza.   Guess what?  The battery had not recharged from my computer.  Shoot and major shoot.  I am sorely tired of this stuff.   What's with me and camera batteries?

So I got Jim up just to have some company but really for him to tell me what to buy at Lowes.  I knew a new mailbox but did we need a new post  and framework too?  Jim said he could salvage the post and certainly had plenty of wood in his shop for the rest.

So Jim went on shop duty, as I am open on Saturdays from 11-3, and I went in to town.  I stopped at Lowes first to purchase another Jumbo mailbox.  Sadly they only come in black.  I then must have spent half an hour choosing spray paint.   I came away with a nice pale turquoise and some textured copper paint.  It is supposed to be mild tomorrow and partly sunny so I am planning the spray for then.  I have overnight to think of just how I want to do it.  I may leave it plain but then again.......

Next I went to Staples.  My new friend, Junior the Easy Tech guy, was there.  I showed him the SLR Kodak and told him what I had tried.  In case the problem was Mac to camera he tried charging from the USB cord with a PC.   Same result.  Well that's some relief.   Then we started looking at Kodak battery chargers, least expensive and up.  The first two would not fit but the third and last did. While we were looking Cathy called saying she had found the original charger but since she was on her way to Auburn it would not do me much good today but she did suggest I get an extra rechargeable battery to have as back up.   Good idea.  That last Kodak charger also works in the car so seems more useful than the original one.  I also purchased some Godiva chocolate to charge my very own batteries.

The person in front of me on line waiting for Junior was asking about her PC laptop battery and why it was not charging.  The person after me had a small digital camera that would not charge.  Does anyone know which planet is in charge of batteries and whether or not it has gone retrograde?

 I am home having consumed all the Godiva.  First thing back I wrenched open the packaging and plugged in the new equipment.  Now the new battery is charging.  I has been charging for well over an hour.  I will be patient.  I will be patient.  I will be patient.

Meanwhile while I was looking the new charger over I noticed it would also charge the battery from my other Easy Share camera.  Now wouldn't that just be a fine thing?   A small one to take on trips and the SLR for close up and web use?  We shall see.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Yesterday Cathy insisted I borrow her Kodak SLR digital camera as it was languishing in its case.  Poor thing.  I had to rescue it. (Is there a Camera Rescue Society?)  I used to use and love SLRs but with film.   When I switched to digital the SLRs were just too expensive and I couldn't justify the expense at that time.  Then I just forgot about SLRs.

Carl and I explored this camera's uses over a coffee.   We tested out near and far.  Such fine detail with the Manual setting plus the M setting is also like an SLR tutorial.  NICE.  Cathy may not get this one back.  It is over 18 months old so maybe the Kodak battery disease timeframe has been passed.  We can hope.
Now I can again take pics.  Thank you Cathy.

The bunnies are very into each other.   They have lots of play and running space so really don't need me or Jim for much except our servant duties - food, cleaning and brushing.  I have been very disappointed in the fact that neither one will willingly come to us or sit in our laps.  Char, the bunny maven, says I am way too permissive.  She is right.  Our cats and dogs never act like this.  We have been trying by peaceful example to get them to be positive around us.  Jim eats breakfast by them and reads out there whenever it is mild, like today.   I feed them and clean up but they usually make themselves scarce during those times.  Maybe they don't want to be given chores, who knows?

However they do need to be groomed and I have had it with the 'if I am nice to them, they will love me" routine.   Today we captured each one, one at a time.   We started with Gummy. Jim held her while I brushed and brushed.   Her coat is gloriously beautiful--- all silver and black with blue grey fluff.  Very fine fluff but she rarely gets a matt.  Her ears went up fairly quickly but she was always alert to any relaxing on Jim's part and then would try to jump  down.   In the past I have allowed her to do that but today I said, 'No.  You will go down when I say so."   Amazingly she cooperated and when she was let down did not go far.

Then it was Keeper's turn.  Keeper is easily startled and always runs when even Basel comes outside.  Today we got her picked up and as soon as Jim held her she relaxed.  Keeper's fluff is finer and longer than Gummy's but also matts in the blink of an eye.  She picks up hay easily which seeds matts.  I clipped and carefully cut a lot from her rear area.  Oh my, her little grey tail is still there!  I brushed and brushed and brushed with clouds of fluff in the air until Jim started to sneeze and his eyes ran.   Then he passed the quiet one over to me.   She sat nicely for more brushing

Notice the basket of fluff on the right and the fluff in my hair.

and then I got my reward.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Easy Share No More

I thought my digital camera was all fixed.  It worked for two days after charging the new battery.  Then in the midst of taking pics of Jim's new folding stool it quit.   Just folded itself up and that was that.  So we went through the whole move the battery around, plug it in thing.   At first it would not take any power, then it seemed to so I left it alone to charge for 24 hours, unplugged it and packed it in my Rhinebeck satchel and off we went.

One, read that ONE, shot into the trip, when I was taking an early 6:30 am shot of a busload of knitters and spinners and crocheters, it folded itself up to never work again.   That's right, no matter how much fiddling I did, the camera just would not operate.   Ayne generously loaned me her Canon for the day however, so I merrily went off to do my thing rummaging in booths and finding finds.

Somewhere still in the first two hours of the Rhinebeck Rummage, Ayne's camera said it had run out of battery.   I carefully put it away thinking I must have very bad battery mojo.

Today the camera was taken in to Staples where I purchased the new battery last week.  Their Easy Tech person looked it over, got the same one green blink, 4 red that I sometimes get, thought for a bit, then decided to try out a a Universal Charger just in case the problem was with the camera's cord.  Two hours later we didn't even get those green and red blinks.  The manager helpfully gave me Kodak's 800 number.

Kodak has an extension number for just this problem so it must be a common one I am assuming. That's not too reassuring.  I spoke with a nice young man whose command of English was very good.  However even his understanding of what I told him did not fix the camera. Nothing I can do will make it work.  It is also more than a year old so out of warrantee.

These are my options:
Send it in for service.  That will cost $60 plus $10 s/h plus applicable tax.  Take into account I spent $29.99 on a new battery last week and we are now approaching new camera price range, if low end.

Second option they gave me was to receive a coupon for 25% off a new Kodak camera if purchased online from them.   The coupon will not arrive for 3-7 days. Obviously they are not anxious for me to have more Kodak moments right away.

Do I really want another Kodak?  Would another brand do better and last more than 2 years?

Friday, October 16, 2009

More than an Inch

Well, gosh darn it, if those weather people weren't wrong again.   Why do we give them so much air time?

Here's that hosta from yesterday.

Snow is rather pretty on leaves.  We are sure glad it is warming up to almost 40, allowing the snow to fall off before the weight of it all breaks more branches.  This pic was taken after it had been dripping for over an hour.  Doesn't near show you what we woke up to this morning which was inches of new wet white stuff sitting on branches and leaves and railings.  The sumac were particularly impressive with red berries sticking out.  There is so much coming down off the trees it feels like a localized snow storm.  Even had to shovel off the steps.  Yikes!  I checked, it is still October.

And the buns are insouciant (I got that word from Cat Bordhi's new book).

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Portent or Anomaly?

My digital camera has been on the wane for several weeks culminating in a dead battery.   Once I replaced and charged the battery, all the camera's woes seems to have disappeared.
I will do a catch up blog very soon.
It is snowing.  We are expecting an inch and it is only mid October.

Whaddya think?