free range easter eggs

This was our first year making Easter eggs from our backyard chicken eggs. Since they are fresh, we steam cooked them, hearing that this makes them easier to peel. We shall see.

free-range-eggs-steam

I was also uncertain how their brown color would look with the Easter egg dyes applied. We totally LOVED the colors we got. Such rich jewel tones, I’m never going back to plain old pastel white eggs. The kids didn’t even want to add any extra decorations to them (ie. stickers) they liked how they turned out so much. We did get our colors leftover from our neighbors, who had put a bit of glitter in, and lot’s of vinegar, so that helped as well.

brown free range colored easter eggs

Then, while the kids weren’t watching, I sneaked all of the tiny knitted animals I made for them into the basket to see how they looked. I really like how they turned out. I made chickens and baby bunnies, but then I had to branch out to a few more exotic animals: a lion, penguin & polar bear.

easter-basket-knitted-animals

Of course, Lola always gets a sneak peek of everything I make for the kids.

cat peeking in easter basket

It was such a gorgeous day today… 75 degrees, sunny and warm. This never happens here on Easter weekend. Usually it’s cold and rainy. So we had to celebrate by breaking out the hammock in the backyard. The hens even enjoyed sitting on it with us.

hammock-hens

Happy Easter To All!!!

little lawn mowers

Yesterday was the first day we had to mow our lawn since last fall, as the weather is finally getting warm enough for it to grow again. We usually dread the backyard most of all. The grass grows so thick and wet there, it takes about an hour of back-breaking pushing to mow it. So I was pleasantly surprised when it only took me about 15 minutes yesterday. I realized that our chickens have done a really great job thinning it out for us. Even if their edge work is a bit extreme and jaggedy, I don’t really mind, especially since they are so good at “weed-whacking” around the kids’ sandbox. And they really seemed to love nibbling the freshly cut grass. It must taste as good to them as it smells to me. Yet another benefit to raising backyard chickens! Now, if we could only figure out a way to prevent them from pooping on the patio… my husband’s pet peeve.. poop in any form.

lawn-mowing-chickens

birthday puppy

Alas, not a real one. I wish. But in honor of my sweet prince’s birthday, I had to take a break from knitting all of the Easter teeny-tiny treats to make a teeny-tiny puppy for him. Dogs are by far his favorite animal, and Chocolate Labs most of all. It wasn’t completely original, so I’m not posting the pattern… it was inspired by a photo of one that was made by a person who was inspired by another person’s pattern. But here she is, for your own personal inspiration, or just a dose of cuteness for the day:

Happy First Day of Spring! (for those of you on the Northern Hemisphere)

separation anxiety

Besides their early morning demands to be released from their coop, my hens are pretty quiet. With one big exception. Whenever Cleo (our red hen) goes up in the nesting box to lay her egg, Gloria comes over to our window and squawks like MAD. It always scares me a bit at first, like something has come into the yard and is attacking her. It’s THAT loud. Cleo, on the other hand, never does this when Gloria lays her egg, and I wonder why. I’m pretty sure that they have established Gloria as the leader of the duo, based on my observations of their friendly face-offs as pullets. I’ve never seen them peck at each other, they are the best of friends, but there were a few weeks that they would arch their necks and get beak to beak until one of them backed down (Is this why they call that game where you race head on at your opponent, until someone veers: “chicken”?) Almost every time, it was Cleo that veered. And it seems to be Cleo that generally follows Gloria around. So what’s the deal with Gloria’s squawking episodes? Is she lonely? Is she trying to tell us that Cleo has abandoned her? Is not submitting to her leadership? Needs protection? I’ve also heard that hens will often squawk after laying an egg… to show off? Mine don’t do this, so maybe Gloria is taking it upon herself to show off for Cleo? She is, after all, an exceptional egg layer, even providing us with easy-to-peel fresh hard-boiled eggs.

mae-chickens

mama hen egg cosy… free pattern

What I originally set out to make before I became thoroughly distracted by the tiny chicken pattern was an egg cosy for my kids’ Easter eggs. I couldn’t find exactly what I was envisioning, nothing nearly cute enough to match the cuteness of the tiny chickens, so I looked to some of the other patterns for inspiration and then created my own. Of course I had to match the style of my tiny chickens as closely as possible. I’m now planning to put the tiny chickens in plastic easter eggs under the egg cosies, so the kids can let them hatch again and again.

knitted egg cosy

egg-cosies5

I’ve never publicly published a pattern I’ve created before, so this will probably not come across as completely professional, but it was so fun to make and I liked how it turned out, so I wanted to share it.

Yarn: A small amount of Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift (or similar) 100% wool in whatever colors you want for body, comb & beak (I used a pale yellow & light turquoise for the bodies, deep red for the combs, and dark orange for the beaks, with a bit of black silk/alpaca mix yarn for the eyes)
Needles: size 2 (2.75 mm) double points or long circular using magic loop method (my personal preference)

Body:
CO 40 stitches with the main color.
K4, P4 (5 times) and join in the round.
Continue pattern for 8 rows.
Change to K all the way around for 16 rows (I did 12 rows here for the yellow hen, but I found I liked a little more egg coverage).
Bind off 24 stitches
.
K 16 stitches and join these in the round for neck
.
K 8 rows.
K2tog 8 times (8 stitches)
.
K2tog 4 times (4 stitches)
.
Break yarn and thread through 4 stitches, pull closed.

Finishing body:
Mattress stitch at base of neck along the back for 8 stitches with edges tucked in, then pull edges up to be visible and lightly close by sewing a running stitch back and forth underneath the edges. This gives a slightly raised look to the tail.

Wings: (make 2)
With the main color, starting 5 stitches down from the top of the back, and 6 stitches from the tail end, pick up and knit 8 stitches.
Row 2: Knit (starting a garter stitch).
Row 3: K2tog, K 4, K2tog (6 stitches).
Row 4: Knit.
Row 5: K2tog, K 2, K2tog (4 stitches.)
Row 6: Knit
Break yarn and thread through 4 stitches and pull closed. Weave in loose ends.

Comb:
Pick up and knit 4 stitches along the top of head with red yarn.

comb1

Row 2: Knit
.
Row 3: Knit
.
Bind off.

On one side of the head there will be stitches of the body color showing through, so cover these with the red yarn by looping over them when you weave the ends in.

comb2

Eyes:
About 3 stitches from comb and 4 stitches from front of head, wrap one stitch with black yarn 3 times. Repeat on the other side of the head.

Beak:
With orange yarn, starting 1 stitch below eyes at the front of the head, pick up and knit 2 stitches down vertically.

beak1

Using iCord method knit 3 rows.

beak
Break yarn, thread through 2 stitches and pull closed.
Weave in loose ends back toward head, and weave a couple more times around the base of the beak to make it a bit triangular.

Wattle:
Just below beak, pick up and knit 2 stitches down vertically.
Using iCord method, Knit 2 rows.
Break yarn, thread through 2 stitches and weave in loose ends back to head.

wattle

Finish head by lightly stuffing it, and weave some of the loose ends from the embroidery underneath the stuffing back and forth lightly to secure it.

Place cozy over plastic egg or hard-boiled egg. It looks best with the pointy end toward the tail. This would also work well to keep a cooked egg warm and cozy.

egg-cosies2

egg-cosies3

egg-cosies4

Hopefully they will make it to Easter. My cats seem to have adopted them:

cosies-butterfly cosies-lola

tiny chickens

I stumbled upon this free pattern for a tiny knitted chicken here: http://blog.makezine.com/craft/project_excerpt_teeny-tiny_moc/ and I made my first one tonight:

tiny knitted chicken

I am in love! I’m going to make as many as I can to put in the kids’ Easter baskets. I might even put them inside real eggshells like these people did: http://gingerknitters.wordpress.com/2012/03/04/how-to-make-cascarones-with-knitted-mochimochi/

put-chicken-in-egg

frankenstein egg… the fascinating conclusion

We cracked open Gloria’s Frankenstein egg this morning and… no monster chick, no baby T-Rex, not even a double yolk! Just one VERY big yolk. However, it seems to have had a strange effect on my family after eating it:

family mustaches

I guess Gloria has been foraging large amounts of that “Portlandia” hipster juju that’s been growing roots in the soil around here lately!