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The Crazy Chicken Lady

16 May

They say the first step to solving a problem is admitting that you have a problem in the first place. Hi, I’m Eileen, and I’m a crazy chicken lady.

When I first brought home the first batch of a dozen little fluff balls, little did I imagine that a short year later they would have multiplied, through purchases and natural means, to the point where we nearly have thirty, yes thirty total chickens!*

Aww they were so little!

Aww they were so little!

I have to say I have thoroughly enjoyed keeping chickens. If you’ve not been around them, they really are delightful creatures. I am now to the point where I can distinguish between different clucks and noises they make; they range from “Hey! I just laid an egg” to “back off lady, this is MY worm.” See? I’m crazy about chickens.

All the single ladies  . . .

All the single ladies . . .

They’re also delightful to watch scritch and scratch in the barnyard. Sometimes, when the rooster is particularly interested in a lady, he will do the funniest dance that makes me think of a rooster tango. He’ll also alert the girls when he’s found a little tidbit that is particularly interesting to eat to win their favor.

The fullness of my craze became apparent when I found that one little hen was particularly popular with the menfolk, of which I had three total. I say had because we sent two of the three to “freezer camp” a few weekends ago, and the barnyard has been much more peaceful since then. But I digress, so this hen was popular to the point where her back was basically cut open because of all the mating going on. We separated the poor dear and then I did something that solidified my status as crazy chicken lady. I sewed what’s called a chicken saddle for the girl so that the rooster’s spurs would no longer hurt her. You read that right; I sewed for a chicken. We then treated her wound and put the saddle on her. I wish I could say that I had a picture of this, but the durn girl kept running from me after her traumatizing experience and I failed to get anything but a blurry hen running from me so you’ll have to¬† be content with the saddle itself. If you want to see what it looks like when a hen is wearing one, just give “chicken saddle” a google. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Funny stuff, right?

 

If sewing for chickens doesn’t make one a crazy chicken lady I’m not sure what does! Funnily enough, I’m contemplating sewing blankets for my sheep to keep veggie matter out of their wool after I shear them in a few weeks! So just go ahead and add crazy sheep lady to the list as well.

Let me know folks, have any of you sewn for any barnyard animals?

Eileen

*Our hen Amelia is currently sitting on a whole batch of eggs so this number is set to increase soon. She is the only hen at all interested in being a Mother so we just let her do her thing. It’s pretty adorable actually.

The “From the Stash” Sock Club of the Month

14 Apr

I wish I could say that this idea was my own, but it wasn’t. My good friend and knitting buddy Kimberly (whose popular blog/podcast can be found here) posted on FaceBook that she was going to do a “sock of the month club” using her own stash. The premise is so simple and genius! Allow me to digress for a minute.

If you like knitting as much as I do, I’ll bet you have amassed a large stash of sock yarn. For those not yet initiated, sock yarn comes in a dizzying array of styles and colors. Most of them are relatively inexpensive, especially compared to the cost of knitting, say, a sweater. It is very easy to justify popping into the yarn store for a skein or two of something beautiful. Often this results in stashes bursting at the seams with sock yarns. Which is where I found myself this past December.

Enter the “From the Stash” sock of the month club! I chose 12 skeins of sock yarns; anything from hand paints, stripes, and plain colors, and put them into brown paper bags, one per bag. On the first of the month, I choose one bag and MUST knit (it doesn’t have to be socks but so far that’s all I’ve made) the yarn enclosed inside by the end of the month.

January I drew some raspberry hand painted sock yarn and used it to make “Waving Lace” socks. Raveled here.

Oooh wavy!

Oooh wavy!

February’s yarn was a really interesting one. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it and I think I tried out three different patterns before I settled on one. Raveled here.

Heelless

Heelless

The pattern ended up coming out so small despite the fact that I got gauge and so these ended up being begrudgingly gifted to my daughter. I say begrudgingly because one time I knit her a gorgeous merino/silk beanie and darned if we didn’t find it in the lost and found box at her school at open house. I swore to NEVER AGAIN! knit for her (not true, she actually has another pair of knee high socks that I knit at her request).

Finally, last month I fortuitously drew some lovely mint green yarn and decided I wanted to make something decidedly Spring-y after the long cold Winter we had suffered. Raveled here.

Leafy AND lacey!

Leafy AND lacey!

I love the way these turned out. They are probably my favorite of the lot! Also, how do you like my amazing new sheets? Don’t they remind you of feed sack fabric? As soon as I saw them, I knew they must grace our bed. I’m currently sewing an Irish Chain quilt in feed sack repro fabric that will go with these sheets so well. Poor my husband, the house is going to be so feminine when I’m through with it!

Stay tuned for upcoming “sock o’ the month” posts!

Eileen

Homesteading and Hairstyles

25 Aug

ImageImageImageImageImage

It has been a summer of wonders. Eggs are coming in regularly now. The awesomeness of going out to the barn and gathering breakfast has yet to wear off. We have not found any with double-yolks, but we have found eggs of all manner of shapes and sizes.

The sheep are doing well. We unfortunately lost one, Hemingway, in early July. It’s hard to talk about because I feel like my own ignorance is the cause of the loss. See, unlike people, when they get a cold sheep do not “just get over it.” No, the solution is rounds of antibiotics. I learned this too late to save poor Hemingway and my husband buried him on Independence Day. Hub clipped some of his wool for me to remember him by.

I signed up for a home butchering class and took one of our nine roosters with me. He was a beautiful boy and had a wonderful chicken life. It was not easy to do but I didn’t take it lightly. I very nearly cried but found that I could with good conscious still eat meat. That’s the hub above ready to carve. He tasted as my friend said “of happiness and freedom.” Tomorrow the rest of the roosters will join him. We will then have a total of thirteen chickens in all. Eleven hens and two roosters.

Finally, I cut my hair! The last time I cut “Bettie Page” bangs, I hated them due to my silly cowlick. However, my new hairdresser assured me that she could show me how to beat that bad ol’ cowlick and I think they look pretty good! I’m very happy, I hadn’t cut my hair in over two years and it was very overdue!

I hope you are all having a great summer!

Eileen

In Which We Get to Move in This Weekend

2 Nov

Folks, the seller called me yesterday to say she’d be out of the house by Saturday. A quick call to the moving truck company and we’re good to go to move in this Sunday, a whole week earlier than planned. I guess I don’t need to say this, but I’m thrilled to move! Unless something crazy happens, this is the last time I intend to move in my life and that makes me very happy indeed.

I hope ya’ll are experiencing similar happiness!

Eileen

The Sewing Frenzy Dress

20 Mar

Do you ever go to your local fabric store and fall utterly head over heels over a fabric and rush to the cutting table only to end up buying up the whole bolt much to the chagrin of the jealous onlookers who comment on your lovely fabric that is now yours all yours? Because I sure did. Observe.

How the heck could I walk away and NOT buy all this fabric, I ask you? I swear, after purchase, I took it home and gazed longingly at it and it’s companions (oh, guess I failed to mention that I bought other fabric too, hee hee). If you would like some too, I bought it at Joann’s in the better quilting fabric section.

I knew I had to pick a pattern that would do it justice because if I ended up making something I didn’t love with it, I would be oh so sad. So all that night I pored over my pattern archives, both vintage and modern searching for the perfect pattern to pair with this fabric of wonders. I also knew the pattern would have to have a bit of structure to it as quilting cottons aren’t known for their drapey qualities. After agonizing for hours (literally) I finally found the solution. Enter Vogue 8577. I’m talking the short version sans sleeves. Now I know what you’re thinking, it’s so plain! But after seeing other lovely versions of it, I knew I’d made the right choice. Also LOOK AT THOSE GLORIOUS POCKETS! You can fit your life in them! Ahem.

Well here’s my version of the dress.

Sans Crinoline

What do you think? Cute non? Folks, I’ll be honest here. I’m in love with this dress. I think it’s some of my best work and I’ve hand tailored a coat! It looks very ’50s to me, which pleases me to no end and I think it’s a great marriage between pattern and fabric.

With Crinoline

I made a lot of changes to this pattern. For starters, I cut the top in a 10 and graded out to a 14 for the skirt. I also completely omitted the lining as I felt it would make an already heavy dress unnecessarily heavier. What I did instead was draft an all-in-one facing with the neckline and fronts, stitched it right sides together to the dress and flipped the facing to the inside and top-stitched up and around the fronts and neck. I think it turned out great! Finally, I added a bit of rick-rack to the midriff band and neckline just to further emphasize those particular style lines. I thought about adding it to the pockets as well, but that looked a little too “vintage apron” to me so I opted not to.

Great for a can-can dance!

I’m so pleased with this dress and I forsee that it will be getting a LOT of wear this season and into Summer. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go agonize over patterns to figure out what to make out of that plaid in the picture below!

Until next time,

Eileen

Plans

8 Dec

Now that I have all this free time, I’m not sure what to do with it! See, I’ve been going to school full time and working full time for the last six years. My schedule has largely consisted of the following; wake up, go to work, work all day, go home, work on school work until dinner time, have dinner, hang out with family until children go to bed, study/work some more, go to bed, wake up, repeat. Despite this busy schedule I’ve always managed to squeeze in some form of creativity or another and now that my time is truly mine, I’m looking forward to getting in a lot more.

If you’re anything like me though, you don’t just have one hobby. I have many, many hobbies, perhaps more than any sane person should. They include sewing, knitting, embroidery, reading, banjo-playing and exercising (is this a hobby??). I’ve been reading a lot of “real food” books lately, and I plan to add food-growing to this list come Spring time. I also plan to blog about all these things (too disjointed??) My question is, how is a girl supposed to manage all these interests?

See, I’m a planner. I can’t just fly by the seat of my pants or I’ll get so flustered that nothing will get done. To that end, I’m thinking I need a schedule of some kind to fit in all my hobbies. Things like banjo playing, gardening and exercising will be daily tasks with alternating weeks for sewing and knitting. What do you think? Insane or efficient?

And just so this isn’t an entirely picture-less post, here’s what I wore to work this morning. Save for the long hair, I was channeling Bonnie Parker. I wore three hand-knitted items (hat, gloves, scarf) and one hand sewn (Lady Grey coat!) This was a great outfit for the 28F weather I encountered this morning. Pretty cold for a gal who just moved here from Florida!

All I Need is a Tommy Gun

TTFN!

Eileen

Pretty Pattern Sunday #9 and an Update!

4 Dec

Well uh, hullo there! It’s been quite a while hasn’t it? Well a lot has happened since July. For starters, I found out that I’d landed an amazing opportunity. It’s a generously paid internship and while it isn’t in my field of study, it does have amazing promotion potential so I thought I’d try it on for size and see if it fits. To take advantage of this, my family and I had to leave sunny Florida and move to, of all places, Ohio! I’m happy to say that the slower pace and cost of living is agreeing with us. As a girl who grew up in Northern California, I sure did miss the seasons living in Florida.

I’m pleased to report that the internship is going well. I’m learning a lot but it’s a bit like learning to swim by having your Dad throw you in the pool. I’m not used to working so hard at work (I’m not complaining though!) but then to come home and have to work hard on my last semester of my Masters degree made for a very busy me. Though there has been some crafting, there hasn’t really been enough to justify a full blown post.

Pattern buying has continued in earnest though I find that I’m much more picky. When I look at them, I no longer buy based on prettiness, but buy based on how well it will fit into a more modern wardrobe. See, my internship is in a pretty business-y field so one must dress the part. No more frivolous dresses at work for me (though plenty on the weekends!). To that end, I’ve been buying a lot of early 60s patterns as evidenced by today’s Pretty Pattern Sunday!

McCalls 5803

Isn’t she a beaut? I can definitely wear the fitted version to work. I don’t plan to make this soon though. Temps have been in the 30s and 40s here so I’m not sure that would work! Plus, before I wear a fitted skirt I need to get down to my “fightin’ weight.” Since I’ve been so busy, I’ve not had time to exercise as much as I like. I plan to remedy that post-haste as I’ve managed to pack on more pounds than I care to mention!

I’m so glad to be back! Expect more posts, a blog re-vamp (if I can figure out how!) and more projects real soon!

xoxox

Eileen

The Things I Must Make

17 Jul

Hullo folks- this week finds me a happy girl; standing between me and FIVE GLORIOUS SCHOOL FREE WEEKS is a final tomorrow night and if it is anything like the midterm, I’ll be out of there in five minutes. I’m a test-taking animal, what can I say?

So right now I’m planning and plotting what to make while I’ve got this time off. I’ve got loads of lovely fabric in the stash just waiting to be made into dresses.

Currently on the sewing table is a much needed wardrobe staple- a white linen skirt. It’s still needing a zipper and the waistband sewn on so I won’t show it just yet though I will show you the pattern I used.

Shaped waistbands, how I love thee!

Up next will be a turqoise sun dress. I’ve been craving a turquoise dress for some time now so imagine my excitement buying the last of a bolt of turquoise dotted swiss to make this beauty.

So those are the first two most pressing items. I want to get the dress complete before I head out to Las Vegas and then California later in August. I’d also like to make some sort of 1950s sleeveless collared shirt to wear with my dirndl and circle skirts from that era. Is there anything fresher than a crisp white shirt? I think not. I’ve also got a length of light purple rayon challis with white pattern on that is begging to be made into this:

And finally I’d like to make some pin-up shorts in yellow rayon and some sailor shorts in a navy linen I purchased earlier this year.

What do you think? Totally do-able in five weeks right?

Basket Lid or Hat- You be the Judge!

10 Jul

Well Hullo! I’m just going to plunge in as though I’ve not been absent for over a month. If you’ve been reading you know I’m working on my MA in addition to working full time and raising a family and keeping up with my various hobbies and interests so I’m sure by now you know the routine- I don’t always have time for this ol’ blog.

I wanted to quickly post about something I’m very excited about. One of my dearest, best friends is getting married in August (to coincide with my visit West- what a doll!) and I’ve been named as Matron of Honor. I recently posted on my Facebook account this picture:

I adore my hat + dress!

I couldn’t believe the amount of animosity that I received about my choice of hat! I thought clearly, anyone could see that this was the most perfect, fabulous hat to ever grace this earth, but apparently I was incorrect. I was asked by several people why I was choosing to wear a basket on my head. A Basket! Of all the silly things, anyone can see that this is a lovely 40s pancake/saucer topper! Lucky for me, my dear friend asked me to wear my hat to the wedding and reception. You can’t argue with the bride!

I bought the Trashy Diva “Doll Dress” in the new fab “Slap and Tickle” print to go with it. What do you think? Does the hat go with the dress?

I say “yes” but I wonder if others see it the same way. I’ll be pairing it with leather round toed black pumps and possibly may add gloves . . . but I’m still undecided on that. So what say you? Fabulous hat? Or silly girl with a basket on her head?

TTFN!

As Anticipated

19 Jan

Oh dear, it’s as I anticipated. School is taking over my life once again so I do hope you’ll excuse me if this poor blog is neglected. I even forgot “Pretty Pattern Sunday.”

This pattern from my collection hails from the 40’s when long capes were en vogue. I’d love to make it- it’s so dramatic looking! Alas! No time for fun!