Friday, April 17, 2009

Deconstructing sweater

I've been deconstructing that sweater I found last weekend.

First, I took some scissors to it and cut up the front to turn it from a pullover into a jacket. I knit up some button bands out of some early handspun I had in my stash.

Then, I thought that since it is a jacket, it needs some pockets. (more on that later).

And there you see my other lucky find last weekend: a free sewing dummy. It has all sorts of moving parts inside so I have to learn how to make it my shape and size.

If nothing else, it's great for photographing things for my blog.

Monday, April 13, 2009

chicks and chicken

I've spent a lot of time over the last few days watching our chicks. They are something new and I'm curious to learn about what they are like. I've never raised chickens before. Sure, I've taken care of friends' chickens from time to time, but they've always been adult birds. Our chickens are baby chicks, they are so small and fragile. There is something inside me that feels driven to protect them from harm.

It's interesting to see the chicks developed. Because they were born in a factory, they have no mother to teach them how to be chickens. A week out of the egg, they have only just begun to learn how to clean themselves. Some have figured out how to sleep like a bird instead of flopping down on the floor with their head at an odd angle. There are all sorts of things they don't know yet that I would have thought were instinctual for chickens. It just goes to show you one of the problems of industrial agriculture: the animals (and plants) don't know how to be themselves or are produced in an environment where they aren't allowed to be what they are.

While watching the chickens I've been thinking about my eating habits. I eat meat, not a lot, but some most days. I'm not going to be vegetarian any time soon and vegan, for me, is a long way off. I think that these are both very good ways of being, but it's not for me just now.

Even though I eat meat, I'm still deeply concerned with the conditions in which the animal is raised. This has two reasons: one, I don't like it when animals are mistreated and forced to live in conditions that do not meet their needs; and two, the quality of the meat is improved if the animals do not experience undue stress. Not only the taste improves, but also the nutritional value that we acquire from eating it. That way, if you grow an animal in a way that is closer to it's, well for lack of a better word, essence, then they may not grow so fat so fast, but you need substantially less meat to get the nutrition and flavour that you seek which leads to fewer animals being killed.

I digress. These chicks living in our coup; half of them will be food. This brings up weird feelings in me. I'm conscious of where I buy my meats and the conditions that they lived and were slaughtered. But this, raising chickens for my own consumption, this is different than driving down to the local butcher and buying something for dinner. I have several weeks to get to know these birds. That's what worries me.

I'm pretty certain I can eat them, but I know I couldn't kill them. Not at this stage in my life. The fact that I faint at the sight of blood has something to do with it. If I can insure they live a life that is congruent with their chicken nature, free from stress, then I don't think I would feel as bad about it as I do when I have to eat a factory or industrially raised chicken.

I think that there is something in the fact that they are food that makes me feel obligated to respect them. I feel more responsible for them than I would, say, a pet. Like I feel more responsible for a fruit tree or a vegetable plant than I do for ornamental flowers. There is a connection there: these things will nourish me, so I need to nourish them.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A sweater find

I found this sweater at a Yard Sale yesterday. It's 100 % wool, hand knit, and possibly from Nepal (but I have my doubts about that). I figure it would be just right for wearing around the farm. It's also about 12 sizes too large for me.

So, I was thinking, should I stick it in the washing machine and shrink it down? It would make it warmer and more durable. But it might not work (I think it's been through a machine or two in it's day). I could steek it and turn it into a cardie. That would be cozy and more practical for around the farm. Any thoughts?

weaving continues

So, I fixed the warp. I don't exactly know how I did it, I just sort of got rid of some of the old warp threads and replaced them with easy to use warp threads. Anyway the weaving is going like a charm right now, so that makes me happy. I wonder though, if I made the weaving too loose.

I'm working under the theory that when I wash it the mohair will bloom and the blanket will appear thicker and warmer. That's the plan at any rate, but what the blanket has in mind is any-one's guess at this stage.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

peep peep - Easter chicks

The chicks arrived today. When we arrived in the shop there was this chorus of "peep, peep, chirp, peep" all around the shop. When they brought the chicks to us, they were contained in a tiny little box.

I tried to count them all as they came out of the box, but some of them got away from me before I could get at them. I think that there are 22 girls (the red ones) and 24 boys (the yellow ones) for a total of 51 chicks. As I took them out of the box I had to dip each one's beak in the water as apparently they don't know how to drink unless someone teaches them.

They are so tiny and so cute. They already recognize me as the person who tends them (I've taken on the job of feeding them as it will get me up earlier in the day and give me a reason to go outside). I almost named one of them George. This is a bad thing because the boys will be food by the end of the summer. They will have a good chicken life first, but I can't get attached to them. But as they are now, they are the cutest little things and they go "peep, peep".

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

weaving woes

A friend of mine lent me a ridged heddle loom to play with. I have to start off by saying that I'm completely in love with this loom. If I were to get myself a ridged heddle loom, this would be the one for me.

Unfortunately, I've made a small error in judgement: It's the warp you see, I decided to augment it with some mohair handspun singles and, well, two inches into weaving I'm just about ready to give up on yarn all together. This is just not working. The yarn is fuzzy and stretchy and sticky and just not warp material. It looks nice, but other than that, I'm not skilled enough to weave with this.

So, the loom and I are going to spend a day apart, after which, I will come back and see if I can salvage this warp. Maybe, I can undo what I've woven so far, cut out the nasty warps and attach some nice warp in it's stead. All this without undressing the loom? Maybe? I have no idea how I'm going to do this. Any thoughts?

Saturday, April 04, 2009


Say hello to the newest member of our family.

Now we can call ourselves a farm.

Friday, April 03, 2009

This might seem like an odd question

This might seem like an odd question, but I would really like to know: Is a person more than the sum of their behaviour? I know Skinner would argue that they aren't, but I've always felt that one can separate who you are from what you do. Well, not separate completely, more compartmentalize.

If someone did something wrong accidentally, like say, ran over your cat with their car, that action was wrong. That doesn't necessarily make the person a horrible, horrible human being. Not in and of itself. The person might be generally good: gives to charity, reads to deaf orphans, &c. or the person might be generally nasty: tortures small animals, rapes trees, &c. or that person might just be average. One action does not a person make, and in this example, I feel that one can separate the one time act of running over a cat from the general theme of a person's life.

Or is it me that is screwed up? Can one mistake define a person. Is the person's behaviour the sum of who they are? Is that all there is to a person's sense of themselves? If I say I don't like behaviour x, is it suppose to follow that I don't like the person who did x? I had always thought no. But maybe I'm the only one. I just don't know anymore.

The past is another country

On this last trip to Seattle, the car broke down in the town where I grew up. Well, one of the towns where I grew up. I was young enough when we moved away that I don't have a very accurate map of where everything was. I had thought that since we had an hour or two to wait until the car got better, maybe we could poke around and see how everything was getting along since we moved.

Not only was there snow on the grown, IN APRIL - what a joke, though I wish I was joking - they had also closed my old elementary school and, I can barely believe this to be true, the quiet old retirement town that we left now is home to, according to the locals, the largest walmart in Canada. So much has changed and so much stayed the same. There are little pockets of the past nestled in among huge developments. Things I thought would never change, have and other things remain.

What I remember and what the place is like now are completely incompatible. I wanted to see the place with adult eyes to learn just how everything was, but no. I can't match my mind's map of the place with how it is now. The landmarks are, well not gone, but overshadowed by development. It's the weirdest thing to go back, because you can't go back. Even though the place is the same, it's not the same place. The past really is another country.