Behold, Tunisian Simple Stitch!

Behold the the product of my first module from Jennifer Hansen’s Tunisian crochet class on Craftsy.  It’s called the Tunisian Simple Stitch.  It’s completed by front and back passes with your hook.  This picture was taken  after the “front pass” for simple stitch and you’ll note obvious similarities to knitting since all of our stitches are still on the hook.

Not that I knit.

I’m using Afghan crochet hooks that I picked up at an estate sale  a year or so ago.  I started with the Boye Cro Hook – size H.

And it just felt too thick for me.  My stitches seemed looser than what I was seeing in the video.  So I posted a question as to whether my using a decades old Afghan hook was the best plan.  I’ll get back to you on the response.  But in the meantime, you’ll note I switched from the blue Boye Cro Hook

To a lovely pink Susan Bates #8 of the same style.  Now you know and I know that the letter-to-number conversion means my #8 hook is also an H.  And yet, it’s visibly smaller.  (I know you can’t really tell in this picture, but trust me, it is)

Which just confirms that I’m a Bates girl (no offense to Boye).  The hook change seemed to bring my stitches more in sync with those from the video.

And speaking of the video, I’ve only completed the first lesson, but so far the learning methodology is solid.  Jennifer Hansen is very knowledgeable and she’s taking the time to cover the questions a newby has with the process-like pointing out where you’re likely to drop stitches at the end of the row.

The first project for the class is a Silk Spa Cloth-the ecru in the background of this pic

Predictably, I’m using Catania cotton instead of silk.  Jennifer recommended bamboo as a close 2nd choice for the silk.  I’m just not ready to use the pricier fibers while I’m learning.

Overall, so far so good with my new Craftsy geekery.  Onto Lesson number two!

Geekery of the Crafty Kind

 

So I’ve been stalking Craftsy.  A relatively new site that offers an increasingly broad array of online crafts coursework.  There are sewing classes, quilting, knitting, crochet, beadwork, and several others-all taught by prominent artists within their field.  They frequently offer discounted deals on classes they’re introducing or highlighting.  I’ve considered several, but didn’t bite the bullet until they posted Jennifer Hansen’s Tunisian Crochet.

To tell you the truth, I didn’t even know I wanted to learn Tunisian.  And yet I found myself clicking to purchase.  Go figure.  There have been a lot of cute Tunisian projects in magazines lately.  And I’m pretty excited to be trying a new learning medium.  Is that geeky?  Yes, it’s pretty geeky.  I’m cool with that.

Part of the sales hook for Craftsy is that once you’ve purchased the class, you can take it as many times as you want, whenever you want.  There are several projects of increasing complexity for coursework, and my plan is to  post my progress as well as feedback on the class and curriculum.

So now I’m going to dig my afghan hook out of what will probably be the last giant tupperware tub in the far corner of my storage area.  I’m going to make a very icy bourbon and coke (because it’s Friday night, I’m a grown up and I can). Then I’m going to sneak away and leave my husband entertaining my six year old and his buddy during their first big sleepover, and begin my class!  Yes, I know.  It’s wrong on so many levels.  To tell the truth, if I find the stinking hook, I’ll be ahead of the game.

Have a great weekend!

 

 

The Official Chicken MissionRecap

I had chickens as a kid.  Let me correct that statement.  My mom had a flock of free ranging bantams.  And I’ll be honest. I hated those chickens.  Due to their prolific elimination, I was labeled with the moniker of “chicken doo foot” for a couple of years of my childhood.  There was also this horrible little rooster that would chase you at will.  He had gigantic spurs for such a little rascal.  My older brother spent a lot of time and energy feeding a deep anger toward that rooster, and would inevitably torment the chicken as much as the chicken ever tormented the rest of us. I don’t remember why mom got rid of them, but I remember it being a happy day.

Needless to say, it was a little confusing for me when I realized I wanted some. It was counter to everything I’d stood for as a young person.  I was a confirmed chicken hater.  I can’t even tell you when I stopped.  Probably about the time I started thinking about the experiences my children weren’t having.

I was raised in the rural agrarian south, with all the life experiences that went with it. My friends and I grew up with an understanding and appreciation for livestock and the work that goes into it.  My kids are somehow managing to grow up in the new rural south. A place where it’s actually possible to maintain a weird kind of quasi-suburban lifestyle.  I’m not really okay with that.  If you’re going to grow up in East Texas, you really need to understand and experience the whole rural agrarian thing. Otherwise, I might as well park them in a Dallas suburb and move on.

On top of all of that (and oh, how I hate to be a lemming but…) the whole industrialized food chain thing is freaking disturbing.   I just want my kids to be able to eat an egg without wondering what the idiots have fed the chicken.

So I had chickens on my agenda for several years before I pulled the trigger.  It was the unexpected gift of our little red coop that pushed the goal to reality and launched my three month chicken intensive as chronicled on Such the Like.

Today I’d like close out my generalist’s study of poultry keeping with a list of really important things I’ve learned about chickens the last few months.  Because as it happens, I really knew nothing when I started.

1.  They poop.  A lot.  And their poops are all different and some of them are weird, which can make you paranoid about the quality of their poop.  And you find yourself inspecting their poop.  Boo.

2.  They’re work.  Before I brought my ladies home, I had been told that a backyard flock was little or no trouble.  “You throw them out there and feed them. No big”  I can’t agree with my friend’s statement.  Refer to number one on my list.  Chickens poop a lot.  I don’t like the way poop smells.  I don’t want my neighbor to smell poop.  I like him. It’s not something he should have to worry about.  So I spend some time making sure the coop is maintained.

3.  Plan your coop.  I love the little red coop! There are a lot of things about it that are awesome.  There are also a lot of things that aren’t working for me right now.  It’s important that food and water be easily accessible for the chicken and for the human.  My chickens have no problem getting to their rations.  Unfortunately for me however, I have to crouch or kneel to change them out.  Not ok! You don’t want to be kneeling in a chicken coop people (reference #1). So I’m  looking at improvements to our coop to keep it from being a complete hassle-especially during the summer.  We have a lot of 100 degree days inTexasduring the summer.  I need this coop maintenance thing to get a little more streamlined.

3.  Chickens can be brutal.  Granted there was the mean rooster from my childhood, but that was a rooster.  I thought hens were laid back, gentle, and generally vacant.  Not so much as it turns out.  The stories I’ve read will curl your hair…and the whole cannibalism thing! Wow.  My ladies have spunk! They’re feisty!  They’ve got that certain look in their eye, and I’m keeping my eyes on them.

4.  Certain chickens are good for certain things.  Make sure you’re purchasing a breed that works for your climate and your goals.  For me, it was good layers that are heat tolerant and docile.  Don’t get sucked in by the babies at the feed store. Do a little homework.

5.   The more time you spend with them, the more gratifying the experience.  But isn’t that how it is with everything?

A Plethora of Poultry: The Desk Reference Edition

So I’ve been quasi-obsessed by the chickens.  I know it and you know it.  Given my track record, no one should be surprised that I’ve been reading and googling incessantly. It’s probably time to give a recap of the great resources I’ve found and utilized.  Maybe in the process, it will give me closure and I’ll be able to bring the chicken mania to a more reasonable level of engagement.

I started with Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens by Gail Damerow

This book was epic.  It provided me with more detailed information on the care of poultry than I could absorb. I waded through it, but I felt like I needed something a little more streamlined to get me off the ground.

So I downloaded The Working Chicken by Anna Hess.

This is a succinct well-organized e-book available for your Kindle through Amazon.  It cost .99 and was a great read.  I felt like between the two, I had a good basic overview (Hess), as well as a desk reference (Damerow) that I would be able to go back to when needed.

So I moved onto magazines, which is very much my MO.  Of course, first there’s the mothership…It does not disappointment.

Then Hobby Farms Annual Poultry Issue

Then Chickens…Hobby Farms’ “Essential Poultry Publication”

And of course, there’s the litany that is my Chicken Blog Roll…

Many of the following blogs a present a staggering array of detailed (sometimes graphic) information that poultry keepers need to know.  They are passionate about their flocks and their posts demonstrate intense connections with the animals they keep.

ADozenGirlz, The Chicken Chick

Fresh Eggs Daily

Lessons Learned from the Flock

Tilly’s Nest

The Tangled Nest

Eggs and Chickens

For the Love of Chickens

HenCam

My Pet Chicken

Backyard Chickens

There are a ton of resources out there, and the enthusiasts are true enthusiasts.  Many of the blogs I’ve highlighted are absolutely beautiful, and the bloggers have brought chicken keeping to the level of art.

If you have an interest, enjoy! I certainly have.

Bella and Buffy

I love the Hogwarts’s four, but the group just cried out for a little more diversity!  Enter Bella. Our new three month old Golden Laced Wyandotte.

Bella is absolutely beautiful!  She’s also about half the size of the original Hogwart’s four.  Believe it or not, this came as a surprise when I got her home.

In my mind, she’s three months old-they’re about three and a half months old… I figured after a short quarantine period, I’d easily be able to introduce her to flock.  I fully expected the whole “pecking order” thing.  I didn’t, however, expect Hermione to freak out and hammer Bella’s head like she was a snake or something.  Lesson learned.  I quickly extracted Bella and she now resides in our recently launched chicken tractor.  At least until she catches up on the chicken growth chart.  But here’s the deal.  She looked so little and lonely in the tractor all by herself.  Not to mention, the Hogwart’s Four kept staring at her in a relatively hostile way.

I felt terrible for her.

Enter Buffy, the Buff Orpington.

This one’s a corker!

She’s two months old and from the same breeder as Bella.  They bonded quickly and now the tractor is a happy little island of chicken cuteness.

Bella is actually Bellatrix LeStrange, the whacked out witch from Harry Potter.  I love the name Bellatrix, but my daughter argued, “Mom, this is a sweet chicken! Not an evil witch chicken.”  I told her she had a point, but what can I say, I like the name Bellatrix, Bellatrix LaStrange?  I think it’s an awesome name for a chicken.  She thought about it and said, “Well, i guess Bellatrix was actually kind of pretty in a really freaky way…”  We were still mid-debate on Bella’s name when we brought our little Buff Orpington home.  I knew immediately what her name had to be.  There could be no other name for this one.  It had to be Buffy the Buff Orpington.  Buffy, named in honor of  that bombshell demon killer, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  That’s it! We all agreed.  Buffy and Bella.  Bella and Buffy. Right about this time, my husband walked in and said, “What? Now we have a group of vampire themed chickens?”  No honey, it’s just a happy accident.  Chicken destiny….rock on….