Monday, November 26, 2012

November Update

Been typing furiously, zeroing in on 50k words for National Novel Writing Month. I'm right on target so things look good again this year.

I've been crocheting "granny squares" from various yarns that I've come across. This is a great way to get experience with yarns and fibers so I'll know what I like working with and what I don't when I attempt larger projects later.

My neighbor handed me a few small balls of left over yarn and they're all very different. One is a very rough fiber, but it didn't come with a label. It started to hurt my hand after a while and it wasn't very easy to work with. The resulting square was pretty scratchy, but still, I sort of enjoyed it.

The next ball was the direct opposite. It felt incredibly soft sliding through my fingers. A ring of "fuzz" formed around the yarn as I worked and I just kept pushing that ring further down the yarn toward the ball.

My neighbor also gave me a skein of some acrylic stuff she didn't want to use. I have to say, it's so great to work with! I managed to take about 5 minutes off of the time it takes me to make a square just by using that acrylic stuff. But when I make my next project, it will likely be from wool.

I haven't used cotton yet, but I figure I'll come across some of that soon.

I don't know how many squares I'll make but I'm already up to 10 of them. How many does it take for a blanket? 400? :)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Crochet Update

No, I don't think this will turn into a crochet blog any time soon, but you never know... :)

Here's what I worked on recently. It was my first attempt at color changing.

Trust me,  you do not want to see the other side! My joins were TERRIBLE. I know how to do them, but for some reason, I keep doing them in the wrong stitch. I look at it and say "Yes, that's the stitch." but it's not. Alas. I have a hard time seeing the stitches, and my glasses don't help. Maybe I need one of those big magnifying glasses...

I have signed up for a beginner's crochet class, but it doesn't start until January! That's ok, I'll keep banging away at it until then.

Of course, my two lovely daughters fawned over it, and that made me feel (slightly) better. They're so positive!

Not sure what I'll do next, but I do know that I hate this yarn. It's some old craft store stuff my wife had in the closet for 10 - 20 years. I crocheted some stuff with wool and loved working with that, so I'm only using this acrylic stuff for practice.

I like making objects (bags) more than the idea of making a shirt/sweater/etc. Not sure what's next. A cowl maybe? Those seem popular these days... A scarf?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Nanowrimo Checkin

Well, we're about 1/4th of the way in, and I'm about on target -- I need to write another 400 or so words tonight.

Instead I'm tying this... Hmm.

Yes, procrastination has popped up big time this year, like weeds. I don't have a very detailed plot outline (most of it is blank, with items like "awesomeness ensues" and "character building happens" and "a subplot update would be nice here").

I found the BEST way to procrastinate today. I don't mean best as in a great way to procrastinate (Hello Internet!). Rather, I mean I found a productive way to procrastinate. I started writing the first chapter of my _next_ book. Ha! Take that, Muse.

Anyway, I'm on track and wishing I had a much more comfortable writing setup here at home. This keyboard/mouse/chair are all wrong for me. Ick. And Ow.

Ok, now, back to the (word) grind!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Major Coop/Run Cleanout

We spent a whole day this weekend working on the coop/run. It felt really nice to get some of that work done, stuff I'd been eying for a year now.

When I build the combined coop/run 3 years ago, we placed it in about the only spot we could in the back yard. It sits on a patch of dirt bordered on two sides by cement, one side by a small paver patio and the back wall is up against the fence at the back of our yard. Between the fence and the coop's back wall is about a foot of space, and in the middle of that is the old 2x8 that made up the back of the planter box I built about 12 years ago in that very spot. We left the back board there on purpose when we tore out most of the rest of the box and installed the coop.

Well, one unintended consequence was that litter from within the coop/run (bits of hay, feathers, food, dirt, pebbles, poo, etc.) worked their way through the 1/2" wire mesh and began to pile up between the coop and the back board of the old planter box. After a couple of years this pile was about 8" high and it basically kept water and dirt in contact with parts of the run. I never liked that, but I also knew it would be incredibly hard to move to coop to clean it out back there.

But this weekend we planned on mucking out the run and doing a bunch of other cleanup in the area. My wife looked at the coop and wondered aloud if we could nudge it a tiny bit over for some reason. We tried and it turned out to not be too difficult to move.

So we sprang into action. Soon we had the coop out in the middle of the lawn and we cleaned up the back. The run hadn't started rotting so it looks like we managed to avoid that. Phew! We completely filled our compost bin with the debris we raked and shoveled out.

The birds were not amused.

Then, before we put it back into place we attached 2x8 boards along the bottom on the back and left side so that debris wouldn't work its way out as much (chickens will scratch, and fling stuff out regardless, but this should make a dramatic difference.

Then we ran to the store and bought some metal rain gutter and attached it along the back side of the coop. Originally, when we put the coop in place, we figured the rain would run off and then fall between the fence and the back board of the old planter box and just soak in to the ground or run off somewhere.

But what was really happening was the water was seeping into the run. So this gutter will redirect the water to the pumpkin box I built to the left of the run earlier this year. Perfect!

When I left for work our giant compost pile was up close to 120F and I'm sure it'll be hotter by the time I get home tonight.