Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Many of you may have heard of NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, but may not have heard of NaKniSweMo. During NaNoWriMo writers across the globe endeavor to complete a 50,000 word novel. As NaNoWriMo's knitting counterpart, during NaKniSweMo knitters across the globe try to complete a sweater with 50,000 stitches in one month. (For comparison your average pair on fingering weight handknit socks have around 15,000-20,000 stitches)

I haven't participated previously, but having competed in the Knitting Olympics in February and Ravelwealth Games (which ran alongside the Commonwealth Games) this year as well as having a number of friends who are attempting NaNoWriMo I thought it would be a fun time to join in!

So joining I am. I'm going to try and knit Elizabeth Zimmermann's Green Sweater, whose very interesting tale is told in this article in Twist Collective and can be seen on Ravelry here.

I've swatched, I've wound my yarn and today I start!


What You're (Probably Not) Missing at Home, Volume 1

This week's What You're (Probably Not) Missing at Home is seasonal, as it's that time of year that we have to get the calves ready for sale and fill Grandma's basement with wood for the winter.

For those of you who don't know, we have a beef farm, about 2 hours away from our house at my grandmother's, and operate a cow-calf operation, which means the cows are bred over the summer, have their calves in March-April-ish and then we sell the calves at a calf sale in November. In order to sell them, they have to get 2 rounds of vaccine over the month or so before the sale. Dad & I headed up to the farm to do the first round last week.

The first step in doing this is always to get the cows into the barn, of which they're very suspicious! This is what they look like as they run away from where you're trying to herd them!


Then you wander out further in the field to try and bring them back...


Once you do get them closer to the barn, they're usually not too bad to get into the barn, although there was one fun steer that I had to chase around the corral a few times, he's an excited one!

Once we had them in the barn, we let all the cows out because we were only vaccinating the calves, this makes it less crowded in the barn and easier to sort calves, but a lot louder in the barnyard as the mama cows aren't impressed at being separated from their babies. This clip is actually a lot quieter than it was at times!

The heifers we kept over last year and bred this summer got magnets since we're keeping them. (Magnets go in their stomachs so that if they accidentally eat any nails or stray pieces of fencing or other metal it sticks to the magnet & doesn't pierce their stomach lining.)


Then we waited for the vet to show so that we could run the rest of the calves through. We had one cow with horns that needed to be dehorned, and a male calf who was still a bit bull-ish even after our attempt to steer him that needed to be fully castrated. I was in the barn with Grandma sending calves out the chute to the head gate. And let me tell you, some of these calves are going to be fun to get back in the barn after the experience they had this time!


Getting the calves through the vaccination process didn't actually take too long, but you never go to the farm just to do one thing! Always tons of odd jobs to be done!

Among the other things we did:

Fixed the windows in the old chicken coop:

IMG_1518 IMG_1520

Cleaned out the outdoor water trough at the creek:


Trimmed a tree away from the hydro line (shh, don't tell Mom!):


Bedded the barn down with straw (flake straw off the bale, toss it down the hole in the barn loft floor, spread around so it's nice & comfy for the cows):


And various other things, including stone picking, fence fixing, fence checking and more!

And of course we did wood. Grandma has a wood stove in her house that she uses extensively for heat in the winter, so every fall we fill her basement up with wood.

This starts by heading up to the woodlot on the tractors, one with a trailer to fill & one with the wood spliter on the back.


This also means you get to wear such sexy outfits as this:


Once at the wood pile by the woods, Dad gets out the chainsaw, cuts the logs up into ~2 ft chunks & I run the spliter (the blue thing) and then chuck the split pieces into the trailer.


When the trailer is full, we drive that tractor down to the house, back it up to an open basement window and start pitching until the trailer is empty and the basement is full.



And repeat!
And of course going anywhere with the tractors means stopping at every fence and gate, getting out, opening /lowering the gate/fence, getting back on, driving through/over, getting out, closing/putting back up said gate/fence. It is easier though when there are two of you!


Fun times! And of course, we'll get to repeat for the booster of the vaccine sometime this week :)

Up next in the What You're (Probably Not) Missing at Home: What we've done to your room since you're not in it!

New Name, New Blog Series!

Some of you may have noticed that I've updated the title of this blog. I didn't think what I was posting really fit the old name as I was doing more random ramblings that didn't necessarily include knitting and baking and have more of that planned. Don't worry I'll still ramble on about knitting (Especially this month potentially! NaKniSweMo starts today & I'm casting on!) and baking, it will just me more interspersed with posts about other things.

Which brings me to my new series. My brother is on a high school exchange with Rotary right now. So for a year he's living in The Netherlands, going to school there and attempting to learn Dutch. Over the past few months he's been gone there are a few things I know he's either missing being here for or completely glad he's not here to be involved. So with that in mind I'm going to start writing about "What You're Missing at Home This Week" and/or "What You're (Probably Not) Missing at Home This Week". May not be weekly or timely, but you've probably come to expect that, given my history of very sporadic updating!

Friday, September 2, 2011

First Day at Shelter Valley

Going to make this brief because it's almost midnight & I have to be back out at the festival site tomorrow morning before 9am!

Today was the first day of the Shelter Valley Folk Festival and this year my Mom & I are volunteering and attending this local festival.

My role as a festival volunteer is parking, directing people where to park and helping them back to their cars after dark. It went well today although it was stinking humid and very hot out in the sun in the middle of the parking lot for my 1-5pm shift today.
I have to say though, Shelter Valley knows how to treat their volunteers! Upon registration you get a t-shirt, a meal ticket for all meals over the weekend and if you choose to, a camping spot on site. And the food is amazing!! Today's meals were pasta salad and pizza for lunch and chili, cornbread and assorted salads for dinner, so very tasty!

My view for much of my 4 hrs parking looked like this:

After parking I headed over to dinner and then up to the main stage where the show had already started.

Layah Jane started us off with a great voice & an amazing guitarist (I think his name was Oliver Robertson?)

Donne Roberts was up next with his band (drummer was a lot of fun! Whole drum set was hand drums, no drum sticks!) and some music inspired by the folk music of his native Madagascar. During this set we started to get some rain, you could tell by the way the whole audience collectively reached for their tarps/umbrellas/raincoats/ponchos/etc!

Then there was a lovely introduction for the guitar maker, guitarist and singer Grit Laskin, but just as he was about to start, the artistic director of the festival came on stage and warned us all that there was an intense, but small, thunderstorm cell headed our way and advised us that they were shutting down the main stage for a bit and that we should all head to our cars. We were lucky and for the most part the storm passed to the south of us and we were in the clear, but we did have about a half hour delay. Grit boasted when he got back on stage that when he took the stage the whole audience stood up and left! The humour was appreciated by those of us who had waited out the storm!

Grit went on to play a wonderful set, with a few guests, playing the guitar, mandolin and squeeze box. His fingers seemed to fly over the strings of his guitar!

Oh Susanna was on next, she was one of the acts of the night I was really looking forward too. I wasn't hugely impressed by her set, but I'll be searching her out in workshops tomorrow, sometimes I prefer the artists in the smaller stage settings than headlining the main stage. Her comment about this festival was that she seems to have been type-cast, singing in workshops with names such as 'Love Does Not Conquer All' and 'Death Becomes Her', so she was "going to play to type tonight & proceeded to sing us a song about heartbreak and death, rock on!"

I knew Mom's shift was over in the middle of Oh Susanna's set and so went out to find her after. Note for the future: set a meeting place if you're going to be trying to find someone in a large crowd of people in the dark! I did find her and went on to watch Karen Savoca & Pete Heitzman with her, neither of us were super impressed with them, but they seemed to be a crowd favourite.

Next on stage was Royal Wood, who I have seen last year at Home County Folk Festival and really enjoyed. His set was really good & I'm excited to see him again tomorrow.

Headlining the night was Ron Hynes, who is amazing. We decided though that since the show was running late and we have to be there bright and early tomorrow morning and we would be stuck in the parking lot if we stayed to the end, to call it a night before Ron Hynes finished, which is too bad, but we're exhausted and it's only day one!

Did I mention bright & early tomorrow morning? Yes, I'm booked in to work parking 9am-1pm and then again(!) from 9pm-midnight so tomorrow will be a long day! Also planning on heading over early because there is breakfast for the volunteers & apparently the scones are to die for... we'll see :)

People I'm very much looking forward to seeing tomorrow are Chic Gamine & Luke Doucet, I've been told I also must make a point to catch Eliza Gilkyson, who I haven't heard of but now I'm intrigued!
Probably no post tomorrow night (because of above shifts!) but hopefully one to wrap up the weekend!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Stitch & Pitch at the Blue Jays!!

Earlier this summer my brother had been complaining that he had never been to see a Jays game, my response? "I'll go with you but we have to go to the Stitch n Pitch game" (expecting really to be going by myself or with Mom who I've been able to drag along before), imagine my surprise when not only did he say sure, but my Dad piped up and said get 4 tickets, we'll all go. So Wednesday night found us working our way downtown Toronto to the Skydome (bite me Rogers, it will always be the Skydome!) to sit in the only sold out sections of the stadium, the Stitch n Pitch sections!!


Brother at the baseball game

Stitch n Pitch is an event organized by TNNA (The National Needlearts Association) with major and minor league baseball teams across the United States - and the Blue Jays!! (Find one near you!)


They stick the knitters up in the 200 level in the outfield where we can sit and knit (or crochet) without fear of being hit in the head with a ball. There were over 500 of us there! Even Ace (the mascot) came up to visit us, wearing a scarf knit by one of the knitters and presented to him on the field at the beginning of the game.


The game was great, they were playing the Seattle Mariners and we were sitting right behind Ichiro, who having lived in Japan for a year I think is really neat!! The Jays got 3 home runs and beat the Mariners 11-6.
Despite being brutally hot outside, once sitting in the dome in the shade with the roof open there was a lovely breeze and it was great to sit there, enjoy the baseball game and knit!

The sock at the game

One of the best parts of going to Stitch n Pitch are the goody bags & taking 3 non-knitters with me, I ended up with 4 of them!


They all had the same yarn, so now I have enough purple/white yarn to make someone a sweater :)


We also got samples of Eucalan wool wash and coupons to use at the stores that had sponsored the game.


Not only did they do goody bags this year, but there were prizes on various seats throughout our section & I scored 2 of them! This lovely BFL yarn from Two Sisters Stringworks and a copy of the Yarn Harlots book 'At Knit's End' which I have been meaning to buy, so bonus!


At the end of the day though, the game was awesome and I am totally looking forward to next year's Stitch n Pitch!!


And for the record, this is how much sock you can knit during a baseball game: