Brought Murderface to the vet. Santana scratched/punched him in the eye. He was squinty in his left over after and hid under the bed. The visit to the vet was fine- she put dye in his eye and used a black light to see if his cornea was scratched. It wasn't, so he didn't need any ointment or medicine.
I rarely knit socks but I started a plain ribbed pair, for something portable and mindless to work on:
I've spent much time recently in the auto mechanic's waiting in room, waiting for scheduled maintenance and winter tires.
The yarn is dyed by me, during a class at one of the early Green Mountain Fiber Festivals:
Of course, I can't work on these "filler" socks now since I'm busy CRAFTING ALL THE THINGS for Christmas. Last night I finished knitting a gift hat and immediately started cross-stitching a project... But after one letter, I moved on to a knew knitting gift... But I need to make sure to embroider a new handkerchief for Dollar... And crochet a doily... And make some Christmas cards...
Then I just go hide in bed and play iPad games and cuddle with the cats.
After taking the "Dabble in Double" class by Lucy Neatby, I was highly motivated to finally start tackling some double-knit potholders. I started with this elephant one:
I cast-on in brown and worked a couple rounds in brown before introducing the green contrast color.
The opposite side:
A bit of the circle border design is lost on this side because I was working brown on both sides. In the future, I'd like to do a tubular cast-on for two colors (I think there is such a thing) and immediately start working the two colors on either side.
Next, because I've had this idea and wanted to do it for a while, I charted out a USACE castle logo and double-knit that:
I like it but need to revise the chart a bit. Also, I'm not so sure why my stitches are so zig-zaggy. That didn't happen with my elephant potholder and I wrapped all the stitches the same way. Huh. Hm.
The inverse side:
I like making these potholders- they are small and quick projects. Once I feel more comfortable, I'll move on to larger double-knit projects.
Had a good weekend- apart from crazy weather. Saturday evening we had to go out to a family dinner but left right in the middle of a squall. Visibility on our hill was zero and I don't have winter tires on yet, so I was sliding. I said, "Nope." We turned around to come home and decided to wait about an hour. We were able to make the dinner but it was slow getting there and back home.
Sunday I braved the wind and cold to go to the Green Mountain Fiber Festival in Wilder, VT. I saw some friends and picked up some new yarn and spinning fiber. And buttons! For future biscornus.
Hurray for a short work-week! I just hope the impending snow-storm-of-doom, sure-to-ruin-any-holiday-plans-that-you-might-have, hope-you-enjoy-ramen-on-Thanksgiving, isn't going to making driving terrible.
One of the challenges this month is to make something based on a nerdery other than your own team's (I'm Team Iron Throne). I'm still slowly-but-surely working on afghan squares for a aran blanket, so I chose this block to make:
It's from the Great American Aran Afghan booklet but looks like the White Tree of Gondor from the Lord of the Rings.
I saw the chart for this block and through, "Oh man, here we go." But it was a quick and fun pattern to work on- the landscape and tree and side cables progressed logically. Based on someone else's recommendation, I printed out the chart and color-coded all of the different cables, which helped immensely.
Old picture of Murderface:
He doesn't sleep belly-up in total abandon anymore :'( Now he has to worry about Penny dive-bombing him in his sleep.
Had my Lucy Neatby class this past Saturday. It was a double-knitting class called Dabble in Double. The class was three hours long- I got there, sat down, blinked and class was over. The time went by so fast. I didn't have too much trouble with the techniques and it's something that I could teach myself, but you learn extra tidbits that only experience and time will reveal- like purling the far side stitches in a clockwise (rather than anti-clockwise) manner. My purl stitched can be loosey goosey at times and this trick helps to sort that out. I've started a double-knit potholder to practice, practice, practice.
3rd time making the Pup Tent pattern:
Modifications: Cast on for a k4p4 brim, long enough to fold over. For the main portion of the hat, I converted the twisted Left and Right stitches to purl the stitch being passed behind. The original pattern has you knit both stitches, I believe just to keep things easy, but on the following round you purl the stitch that was passed behind. So I just did it when the small 2-stitch cables came up. This makes the design pop more. I like it.
I used practically all of one ball of Berroco Weekend. Nice, smooth yarn- perfect for the hat and stitches used- the only negative aspect is that it's made up of a lot of plies that were easily speared by my needles.
The plan was to add a big, foofy pompom to the top. I know I bought two balls. I mean, I'm pretty sure I did. I'm, like, 99.99999% sure. But after looking through the usual stash spots, dumping out bags of yarn, rummaging through tubs and essentially tearing apart the craft room, I couldn't find the other ball. I decided to stop looking and simply make the pompom when the other ball magically appears (I didn't give it away did I? Did I use it for something else?).
I'm sick. I've been sick since Carnage this past weekend. I only had a day or two of headaches and chills, now it's just cough-cough-cough. I've mostly lost my voice. And I'm taking a knitting class tomorrow that my local yarn shop organized. Lucy Neatby and Sally Melville are coming for the weekend and I'm taking a double-knitting class with Lucy Neatby! I'm so excited for it but kind of bummed that I sound like a raspy boy going through puberty. Oh well :(
I can never resist a pretty batt to spin. Opening up a batt is like opening up a pretty wrapped present. I picked this one up from the Fiber Stash booth at the Vermont Sheep and Wool festival this year:
I have to hurry up and prep the fiber before any of the cats (coughPENNYcoughcough) see it opened up on the table and try to rip it apart or, more likely, sit / lay / roll around on it.
Pre-drafting the thick pieces of batt into ready-to-spin balls of fiber:
Spinning the singles:
The finished two-ply:
At this point, I feel as thought I have a dozen skeins of handspun in various autumnal shades. I should figure out a way to use them all together.
Picked up a few bumps of fiber from the vendor Fiber Stash from the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival this year. I love soft, bouncy merino and couldn't resist spinning this right away:
I only had 4 oz and split it into three equal portions, to make a true 3-ply.
The finished yarn:
Love this yarn so much.
Went up to Killington on Saturday for Carnage on the Mountain. This game convention moved from Fairlee, VT and the new location is great. The Grand Resort is really nice and clean. I ran a couple games on Saturday. First, Shadows Over Camelot:
Then a homemade Twin State Ticket to Ride in the evening. Generally, I run two games at every convention for free entry. I think next year I'll just skip running games and sign up to play new games instead. I've wanted to play a historical miniatures scenario for years. Here's one set-up for the Seven Years' War:
The new vendor area is nice- I picked up a few new games. Hive was recommended as a good 2-player so I got that. The rules are simple but it's 100% strategy (no luck-based elements), so appeals to Dollar and I. We played a couple times Sunday- it's a nice tile game.
I was surprised to see snow up at Killington on Saturday but then woke up to this at home Sunday morning:
In the immortal words of No No No Cat: "NO NO NO NO NO NO NO." Ugh, I so don't want to deal with snow yet. Snow tires. Plowing. Shoveling. I mean, really. I still have some Lily of the Valley bulbs that I ordered this summer that need to be delivered and put into the ground still.
Wool/mohair fiber by Fantom Farm (love them so much!) purchased at the 2010 Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival:
Spun into a bulky two-ply:
Knit into a pair of plain mittens:
I think these are going to be my work-horse mittens for all the snow I will inevitably have to shovel this winter. The mohair is a tad itchy/scratchy but the knit fabric is tough and strong.
I had one skein of Shelter yarn and decided to make another Pup Tent. I made this pattern once a couple years ago but didn't get a picture of that hat- it was given away.
Pattern: Pup Tent
Yarn: Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, one skein
Needles: US 8
Notes: I made the large size and was not in any danger of running out of yarn.
The yarn itself is rustic. There is a decent amount of vegetable matter spun into it so that, if you're like me and MUST pick it all out as you go, it's a bit annoying. I've run into this with many of the yarns spun at Harrisville.
I'm making this pattern again but changing a few aspects.
Nobody knows the trouble I've seen...
Nobody knows... my sorrow...
Penny, locked away in Laundry Basket Jail. I want to fashion a little tin cup for her to drag along the bars.
Her jail is nice, though. I don't think many people locked away compare it to curling up into a pile of warm, clean clothes.
Good weekend- productive knitting-wise. Finished a hat, a pair of mittens and a skein of yarn. Started all new Nerd Wars projects for the month of November.
Finished a scarf that I started in 2008:
It was big project. It was lace-weight. It got repetitive and boring really fast. But, it was time to finish it. For good.
Here's where it was when I pulled it from the depths of my hide-it-and-forget-about-it bins:
About halfway through a ball of Alpaca With a Twist Fino. Pattern is Kimono Shawl from Folk Shawls. I made it scarf-sized.
All finished and blocked:
Not the most glamorous photo of it but it's quite stunning in real life. The lightness of the lace is very nice.
I made a mistake on one row on this scarf somewhere (yarn-overs were shifted). I only noticed it when I had worked so much more past it that I decided it wasn't worth ripping back to. When I blocked the scarf, I stood and scared at it for a good 5 minutes, looking for the error. I couldn't see it and thought, "Fine. If I made the scarf and I can't find it, hopefully no one else will notice it. Ever."
My US 4 needles didn't fare so well:
Stained. Which made me wonder: If I were to wear this scarf with a white shirt and got caught in the rain- would this scarf BLEED all over my shirt?
The only answer is to gift this scarf to someone I hate and hope they wear it in the rain.
Just kidding. I washed the scarf prior to blocking and it did bleed quite a bit. Took a few rinses to get most of the extra dye out. Hm. It should hopefully be okay. Will probably give it to my mom as a Christmas gift. And tell her not to wear it in rain. Or snow. Or fog or anywhere even kind of damp-ish.
Followed this recipe. I didn't want to make too much, so I cut the ingredients down to:
1 cup maple syrup (Grade B)
1/3 cup cream
2 tablespoons butter
Boiled, then simmered until the "ball-in-cold-water" stage. After it cooled a bit, I stir-stir-stirred until it was kind of like a warm paste. Then I pushed small bits into a silicone mold to set.
These came out waaaaaay better than I anticipated. I was worried they would be like the opaque maple candies you find in gift shops and general stores around the state. The light tan ones often shaped like maple leaves. They're usually gritty/grainy like sucking on granular sugar.
These cream candies are epically smooth. Better than fudge- softer and silkier. I'm not sure if it was the addition of cream and butter- I think the commercial maple candies are only maple syrup that has been boiled and stirred (perhaps over-stirred? which causes the grit, I think?). These candies have super-strong maple flavor from using Grade B syrup- but that also made these darker. Lighter syrup (fancy) would make lighter candies.
Blend of Wool/Mohair/Viscose by Fantom Farm, purchased at the 2011 Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival:
Spun into just < 700 yards of heavy fingering-weight 2-ply:
This yarn is either going to be a pair to tall socks or a shawl.
Or, I can use it to line a nest for Penny:
I've made a Haruni shawl twice, but never for me. Hmmm...
I recently joined a group on Reddit called 52 Weeks of Cooking. Every week is a different theme. I happened to join when the theme was North African. After searching for recipes online, I settled on Shakshouka:
I basically followed this recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I also made some flatbread to accompany it.
This was so tasty. Inexpensive, too. The eggs ended up over cooked- I watched the pan pretty closely for the whites to set- but the yolks were hard by the time the whites were done. Dollar preferred it this way- more substance/chew to the protein. I would have preferred runny yolks.
Two skeins of brown wool, about worsted weight.
I bought this at the 2011 VT Sheep and Wool Festival from the Fantom Farm booth. They are a vendor that I always visit when I see they are at a festival. They always have interesting fiber and their prices are excellent.
I bought this stuff because of all the copper angelina in the fiber. The finished yarn is so sparkly.
I'll probably make a hat or two with this yarn. If I wear it on a sunny winter's day, I'm sure the glittering will be blinding!
This is how Penny spent most of last week and the weekend:
She doesn't fight the cone, it just makes her sad to be in it. And after a few days of wearing it and not being able to take baths, she starts licking the inside of the cone. Saturday afternoon, I spent a few hours in the bedroom with her cone-free, while I put away laundry and could monitor her licking. By Sunday, she didn't need the cone anymore.
I planted all my shade plants in the new shade garden I dug behind the house- ostrich ferns, hostas, old fashioned bleeding hearts. And I planted bulbs- crocus around the lawn in front of my house and daffodils down along a couple rock walls. I was a wee bit lazy with the daffodils- only planting them 4 inches deep, rather than 6 - 8. I hope they grow :/
Murderface and Penny enjoying some fresh catnip:
Totally unrelated to this, Penny has licked a bald spot on her arm. Could be stress. Could be a food allergy or allergy to something else. Could be other things. I don't know. I tried a bitter spray (did not deter her at all), adhesive bandages (she absolutely didn't like that); as a last resort, she's now in the e-collar (aka: cone of shame, leftover from her surgery) strictly to keep her from licking the spot more.
It's going to take a while to sort out. If it's a food allergy, I've got to figure out what's causing it (the wet food? the dry food? the treats?) and then change that food for all the cats. I don't know what brought this on- we haven't tried new food but that doesn't mean that the food companies haven't changed their recipes.
Days are getting much shorter and cooler. I'm frantically trying to finish things before winter- getting new bulbs into the ground (crocus and daffodils- I can't wait to see you in the spring!) and staining/painting the front porch. Dollar's doing the last of the mowing- shredding fallen leaves so we don't have to rake.
Birds are heading south:
Foliage was excellent this year.
My knitting/spinning mojo has been rejuvenated by the cold weather. I (birthday) treated myself to lots of new spinning fiber to keep me occupied throughout the winter.
This past Saturday I was invited by my neighbor to a cider press at a local farm. Everyone pools their apples together and you go home with jugs of fresh pressed cider.
First, apples are dumped into a big tub of water to be washed:
Then, using plastic milk crates, scoop out the apples and slowly pour them down a chute where they will be smashed and layered between brown cloths.
The guy below rings a bell to tell you to stop pouring apples while he closes off one layer and preps the next cloth. Then rings the bell to tell you to start pouring again. Then he repeatedly rings the bell to tell you to stop pouring apples all together, it's time to press.
Down at the hydraulic press, the juice is squeezed from the apples.
Any pulp is filtered with the brown cloths but the juice is filtered again, through a finer cloth, before bottling.
The leftover pulp after being pressed (good food for pigs if to have them):
And then you start all over again- wash apples, pour them down the chute, press, bottle. Wash pour press bottle.
At home, enjoy the fruit (juice) of your labor: