[misc] Penny Monday

Busy weekend. Had a shop-til-you-drop day with my sister on Saturday. We drove over to Michael's in Rutland. I was particularly looking for a few new open-back frames for canvas paintings. The frames were so stupidly expensive, I refrained from buying anything else. Including this:

Santa pet costume.

I'll just make one instead. Sure, I was already planning on making a Santa hat (and elf and reindeer hats- I have three cats and they can't ALL be Santa) but I never dreamed of including a beard. Which I will do now.

Sunday was Dollar's birthday. I spend a couple hours in the morning trying to add to the afghan. I sit on my little craft area and endure Penny staring at me:


Staring at me is one of her favorite things to do. Then she crawled into my lap and passed out.


I crocheted along, until I couldn't anymore. When I wrapped her up:

Penny in the afghan

Yes, I smoothed out her whiskers so they would be pointy like that.

For Dollar's birthday dinner, I made roast beef, crab cakes, baked potatoes, steamed broccoli, baked beans and garlic bread (with the last of my precious ramp butter from this past spring). We had a bunch of his family over, so it was a rather big to-do. For dessert, apple pie (before baking):

Dollar's apple pie, before baking

I tried out a couple new stamps on the crust. It's cute but after baking the design was pretty much lost. I'm making two more pies this week- apple and pumpkin to bring to Thanksgiving- then I think I'm done with pie for a while. I can make it in my sleep at this point. I'm all pie'd out. Well... maybe I just need to try making different pies.


[knitting] Newfoundland Mittens

Working on something quick:

Chunky Newfoundland Mittens

I found a skein of the dark gray yarn when I was rummaging through my stash, looking for yarn for Sophie's Universe. It's bulky-weight, so not right for the afghan. I happened to have a sack of my handspun yarn nearby and pulled out a bulky orange skein. They looked nice together so I went looking for a project.

I have had a pattern for worsted-weight Newfoundland mittens in my Ravelry queue for ages and happened to find a similar pattern for chunky yarn. I like the honeycomb design with the purl blips of color that appear on the right side (another reason I'd like to try bohus stickning in the future). These mittens are fast to work up- since they're only 36 stitches around- so they should be all done by this weekend. 


[art] Joy of Painting #5

I signed up to take my fifth Joy of Painting class this past weekend. I brought along a friend this time, to see if she'd be into it. (She was.) Here are progress photos:

Joy of Painting #1

Joy of Painting #2

Joy of Painting #3

Joy of Painting #4

Joy of Painting #5

The complete painting:

Joy of Painting: Done

Another reason I like taking these classes (besides having new artwork to hang on the wall) is that I have a painting to enter into the Tunbridge Fair next year. Can't wait for another class next spring!


[cooking] Eggrolls

Eggrolls from Friday night:


The filling is:

- 1 lb sauteed ground pork
- 1 bag cooked spinach
- 1/2 head cabbage, thinly sliced
- 3 handfuls bean sprouts
- 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 block firm tofu
- soy sauce, to taste

Mix it all together. The only difficult part is the actual rolling of the eggrolls. You want to make sure there aren't any splits/openings in the wrapper- or else the oil that you fry them in with seep into the inside.

The dipping sauce I make is just soy sauce with a little mirin and ground red peppers mixed in. I try not to over salt the filling because the dipping sauce is so salty.


[misc] Santana Monday

Boo, another weekend gone. Mondays are hard because Santana doesn't want us to go back to work. 

Santana on Sophie's Universe

Friday night I had a friend stay over. We made eggrolls and drank too much. Saturday morning I managed to push down my hangover so that we could attend a Joy of Painting class. Love the painting, as always. When I got back home in the afternoon, I tried to stay awake but had to nap until Dollar roused me to say that the take-out pizza was here. So I ate pizza and went back to sleep. This is why I hardly ever drink- the hangover sucks and I feel like I lose 24 hours to it.

Sunday morning was much better. It was cold but sunny. I usually get up, make coffee, feed the cats and rabbit and go sit on a rug in my craft room. This is my favorite place in the house- it's kind of secluded, I have everything set up within arms reach, I bring up patterns on my laptop (set on a hat box under a table) and listen to podcasts on my phone. The cats come hang out with me here so I try to make little napping spots for them in nooks and crannies between baskets and in bags.

I've gone back to working on the Sophie's Universe crochet blanket (shown above) since I got a bit more yarn in a couple swaps/trades on Ravelry. The rounds are taking much longer now- anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes, depending how much is going on in the round. Looking forward to getting another package of yarn in the mail today!


[knitting] Toast

Simple arm warmers to wear it bed, so my forearms/hands don't get cold when I'm reading (or, you know, playing on my phone):

Arm warmers

The free pattern is called Toast on Ravelry but there really isn't a need for a pattern. I used a sport-weight yarn and cast on 52 stitches on US 4 needles. Knit in the round for 12 inches. Bind off loosely. Make two. That's it. The only hard part was counting up all the rows on the first tube so that I could knit the exact same number for the second.

Because they are tubes, it doesn't matter with which end I pull them on. They reach from my mid forearm to nearly the tip of my thumb. The yarn is 50% alpaca / 50% wool, two ply, from Nightingale Fibers. I purchased two skeins years ago at the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival and these fingerless mitts used all 200 yards of one skein. I plan on making a matching hat with the other skein- I'm just fretting over choosing the perfect pattern.

It appears that these benefit the cats as well. I can pull the sleeve down over my hand and then pet the cats, nose to tail. They loooooooooove it. Now I want to invent a petting glove. Like a catchers mitt, but flat... Wait, I just went to Amazon and they've already been invented. Grooming gloves or grooming mitts. Hm. I still think it's a good idea- just knit one mitten and make it webbed between the thumb and the hand. Best petting aid ever.


[knitting] Norwegian Star Cap

Here is the other hat to send to the couple that helped pull our car out of a ditch:

Norwegian Star Cap

Pattern is Norwegian Star Cap from Hats On. 

I made the Medium size and it fits my big head fine. The sizes in this book run large (from my experience). I will make this again with a few modifications:

- will cast on 10% fewer stitches for the inside hem of the brim

Even though you work the inside hem on US 4 needs and the main body on US6, I still had some puckering when I joined the hem to the body. 

- will hold the lighter color in my left hand

The lighter color wasn't dominant for this project. I thought I remembered a "light-right" rule- to hold the lighter color in my right hand but this obviously wasn't correct. 

- will omit the lice pattern on the crown

Was fiddly to work when decreasing.

I really don't do enough stranded projects- I enjoy them. Especially for a small project like this, when you see the design start to become recognizable, it's easy to think "Just one more round.... just one more round..."


[knitting] Aran Watch Cap

A week ago we were driving to a friend's house. Since the time change, it's pitch black out by 5 pm. I've only ever driven to our friend's place maybe 6 or 8 times and the last turn onto a dirt road is abrupt. I rounded a bend, was going to miss the turn, braked and cranked the wheel thinking, "I can still make the turn, I'll just end up driving on the grass a little bit." Only it wasn't grass- it was a big ditch and we went in. The car ended up practically on it's side. As we were rolling, I was sure we were going to end up upside-down. Once we stopped, I couldn't open my door; we had to climb up and out the passenger door and jump down three feet to the ground. Nose into the ditch (missing a hidden concrete block, thank goodness) and the rear right tire way in the air. 

It was a busy enough road but no cell reception. We couldn't call our friend (or anyone) and his house was still a few miles away. About a dozen cars passed us by before a truck finally stopped. It was a couple that had a tow cable and they pulled us out. My car was miraculously fine. Nothing broken, nothing sounding off, no oil/chemical smells. When I was first looking at the car in the ditch, I was like, "Great, we're going to have to get a wrecker, it's going to be thousands of dollars in work that has to be done..." After we were pulled out and continued down the dirt road (at .00003 miles per hour) with the windows open, listening... Everything seemed suspiciously fine. No maintenance lights showing on the console. Huh.

Anyway, the dude that helped us said he didn't want money but I still asked for his mailing address to send him a thank-you card. I am also knitting them a couple hats to send. This aran watch cap is one of them:

Aran Watch Cap

Love this hat and will probably make another for myself. The pattern is from Hats On. The only change I made was to decrease in pattern for the crown over 8 or so rounds, rather than 4 purl rounds as written (I just thought it would look nicer).

The other hat is done. Both have been washed and are blocking. Will probably mail them out at the end of the week.


[misc] Penny Monday

Had a good weekend. I scored a miracle of a deal on a sack of brand new llama/cotton yarn in a variety of colors (49 skeins for $35!!!!). I'm pretty sure I happened to check VT Craigslist at the exact right time to nab the deal. No definite plans for the yarn at the moment but I think a granny square blanket would be very nice.

Penny helped me update my Ravelry projects Sunday morning:

Penny helping me update Ravelry

I received some afghan yarn from a trade on Ravelry and was able to work again on Sophie's Universe for a couple more rounds. Then Penny decided I should work on something else:


So. I found something else to work on. By the way, the socks in the picture are from Sock Madness this past spring, the first round pattern called Alohomora. Love these. Just simple knit/purl but they look so nice on. Will definitely be participating again next year.


[knitting] Aran Afghan Square #15

Not a particularly glamourous photo but I've finished the second-to-last aran afghan square:

Aran Afghan Square #15

The project has kind of stalled while I try to find a pattern that I want to do for the last square.


[spinning] Time to make the donuts, I mean, yarn.

Not sure what to start next for a knitting project, I decided to spin instead. I went digging through my fiber stash and piled up all the fiber I want to work on:

Spinning fiber

My old, last, coveted Grafton Fiber batt. Spunky Eclectic fiber. Ends from Hello Yarn. A couple different things from Fiber Stash. Not pictured is about 3oz of merino/angora blend from Fantom Farm. All good stuff. I've gotten through quite a bit of it with lazy spinning (single ply, worsted-to-bulky weight; a couple hours at the wheel and voila- done!). I'm spinning some of it thin and chain plying. It's been nearly a year since I've spun anything and boy was there a learning curve getting back into the rhythm of chain plying. 

I've started watching The West Wing for the first time and I spend my weekend mornings watching it (I like it but OMG, the writing is sooooo preachy) and spinning.


[cooking] Pumpkin Pie

This Thanksgiving I'm in charge of desserts. My mom usually just buys an apple and pumpkin pie from King Arthur Flour because (a) the bakery is close, and (b) why wouldn't you? I told her I would make the pies this year. My apple pie game is pretty solid but I haven't made a pumpkin pie since the free class I took at, where else, King Arthur Flour last year. So this seemed like the perfect weekend to try again.

Pumpkin Pie

The filling I made is essentially from this recipe but I used all white sugar and no cloves or black pepper. I mixed the filling and left it in the fridge overnight.

The next day I made the pie dough and rolled it out. Poured in the filling. I cut out lots of little maple leaves from the excess dough I trimmed away and rerolled. I dotted the top of the filling with the leaves and thought, "I wonder why you never see the tops of pumpkin pies decorated? I wonder if this is a bad idea." But it baked up fine. Very pretty, in fact.

I think when I make this again for Thanksgiving, I will include a little bit of ground cloves and black pepper for extra spice.


[crafts] Skull Jack o'lantern

Last year I carved my pumpkin way too early and it was all shriveled up before Halloween. This year, I waited until the week of Halloween. 

Skull Jack o'lantern

The stencil I used is here. I printed it out and taped it to my pumpkin. I opened up one end of a paperclip and poked holes along the pattern, to outline where I would need to cut. Then I used my pumpkin carving tool cut. I accidentally broke off a bit of the skull's jaw on the right, so I had to hold it back in place with a toothpick.

I used a round, tin biscuit cutter (like a donut cutter without the center ring) to clean out the inside of the pumpkin. It was nice and sharp for scraping away all the seeds and gunk on the inside walls. I've used spoons in the past but this biscuit cutter was 100x better.

At night, all lit up:

Skull Jack o'lantern

This was quick- less than an hour to clean and cut. Next year, maybe I'll do two. Or get Dollar to make one as well.


[knitting] Simple Garter Stitch Slippers

Simple Garter Stitch Slippers

I followed the pattern for the Simple Garter Stitch Slippers as written and it was so much easier this time around. I cast on 40 stitches, leaving a tail long enough to whip-stitch the heel closed (it's so unnecessary to do a provisional cast on- which is what I tried the first time I did this pattern). I worked 36 garter stitch ridges before beginning the toe decreases. I didn't work the last 4 stitches so that when I rearranged the final 16 stitches onto two dpn, I could easily kitchener the toe closed. In the end, I only had 2 ends to weave in before doing the crochet border.

Nice, squishy slippers. Will definitely do this pattern again.


[knitting] Dinosaur Cat Hat

One last Halloween hat for the cats. I made the Dinosaur hat from Cats in Hats:

Dinosaur Hat

I used a green/brown tonal yarn. Easy to whip up during a movie like... Jurassic World!

Penny was in bed and I put the hat on her:

Dinosaur Hat

I feel certain that Penny loves wearing these hats. She purrs the entire time and lets me tie the string into a bow under her chin. And then I take a few pictures and pull the hat off. None of the cats end up wearing these hats for more than 60 seconds.

Dinosaur Hat
"Why don't you like this hat, Murderface? It's so warm and cosy!"


[knitting] Banana Cat Hat

Our cat Santana has several nicknames, one of which is "Santana Banana". When I bought the book Cats in Hats, I was delighted to see a Banana Hat.

Working on Santana's Halloween costume

It is ridiculous. Absurd. I had to make it. It only took one hour on Sunday morning to whip up. The base is knit, then the banana is knit, stuffed and attached. Santana was napping peacefully upstairs in her pillow cave. I woke her up to try on the hat:

Santana's Banana hat

She loves it!

She loves her new hat

She probably thought she was still asleep but having a nightmare. She turned her back to me, wedged her head between the pillows and froze.

"Wake up, wake up, wake up. This isn't happening."

I took the hat off, rebuilt the pillow fort around her and let her go back to sleep. But it was totally worth it.

Banana Cat Hat

It is silly and phallic looking. But I'm building up a tidy little collection of cat hats. Perhaps I'll make enough to create a personal calendar in the future.


[crochet] Murderface Monday: Fedora Edition

Got to work this weekend on the cats' Halloween costumes. I wanted to make a cowboy hat for Murderface but it ended up a fedora:

Murderface in the fedora

Pattern is from Cats in Hats. This is the 3rd pattern I've made from the book and I think there might be an error in this particular pattern. It was easier to shape into a fedora than a cowboy hat. But it still turned out super cute. I added a black strand of bulky yarn as an accent.


Seems to really suit Penny:

Penny in the fedora

I'll make a different hat for Murderface. Maybe a posh top hat.


[crochet] Sophie's Universe: Need more yarn

Still crocheting Sophie's Universe. I got up from the couch for one minute and came back to:

I get up for one minute.

I'm quickly running out of yarn. I'm using single-ply worsted weight wool (or wool blend) and the basket I have of the appropriate type is quickly dwindling. I've used Lamb's Pride worsted weight, Malabrigo merino, Manos del Uruguay Classica, etc. I've put up a trade post in the ISO/Destash group on Ravelry- asking for any yarn of this type (no variegated colorways). I will trade my handspun yarn, spinning fiber, commercial yarn that I have. No nibbles yet. I also found some Lamb's Pride that users are selling on Rav and sent inquiries, but after a bit more digging- the people I asked posted them for sale literally years ago. So, who knows if they're still on Rav.

If there are any readers here who have yarn of this type (full or partial skeins)- I will barter with you. Leave a comment and let me know!


[misc] Rocky Thursday


I would love to clip his nails but we haven't even picked him up yet. We've tried a couple times but he freaks the F out. He growls and bites. So we haven't been pushing it but his nails are going to have to be done eventually. The amount of blood spilled (mine) is yet to be determined.


[knitting] Not-so-simple Garter Stitch Slippers

Looking for something easy to work on, I recently fell in love with a pattern for Simple Garter Stitch Slippers (Rav link). 

Simple garter stitch slippers

The premise is pretty simple- knit a garter stitch rectangle, decrease for the toes, close the toe, close the heel, crochet the top of the foot closed and around the ankle. Voila. 

But I thought "How can I made this, like, SO much harder and tedious?" I wanted to use leftover sock yarn in the stash (gray) and add contrasting stripes periodically.

Simple garter stitch slippers

The pair are fraternal twins. As I started to run out of gray, I had to stagger the two colors every other garter ridge (you can see this at the toe on my right slipper). I also used the contrasting color to kitchener the heel closed (I opted for a provisional cast on):

Simple garter stitch slippers

So basically I had about 4000 ends to weave in at the end of the project. I just looooove making more work for myself.

I like the slippers. The angora yarn I used for the crochet trim is a nice, different texture. I am making another pair because the pattern is truly simple, I just made it in an annoying way for this pair. For the new pair, I'm using a new ball of sock yarn, held double. No provisional cast on- not necessary. I just left a long enough tail when casting on to sew the heel closed. To close the toe, I didn't work the last 4 stitches so that when they're rearranged onto 2 dpns, I kitchenered it closed. One slipper is done (sans the crochet border) and I had 2 ends to weave in. Finally, simplicity!


[knitting] Aran Afghan Square #13

A picture of finished square #13:

Aran Afghan Square #13

It ended up so large. I think when it comes time to sew everything together, I'll need to mark each square with the stitch number along the sides, to ensure that I sew everything evenly without any puckering at corners.


[misc] Murderface Monday

So, the weather has turned to this:

Snow, Oct. 18

It's cold and the cats have become extra cuddly. Murderface came to lay on my chest Sunday morning on the couch. Penny came up, too. I thought, "Aww they're going to cuddle together to stay warm" because I'm naive. Instead, Penny wanted Murderface to GTFO so she could have his space. She chomped down on his neck:

Penny and Murderface

Instead of breaking up, I just continued to take pictures:


Sorry, Murderface.

In the end, Murderface didn't budge (or retaliate- way to take the high road, buddy) and Penny ran away to find another spot rather than SHARE a warm spot. Not that it mattered, I moved Murderface to get up after a short amount of time. Poor guy- he just can't catch a break.


[cooking] Heirloom Apples!

Last weekend I went to Poverty Lane to pick more apples. Just when I had finally finished all the McIntosh and Cortland apples that I picked in September, I went back to get more. Their Heirloom Orchard was open for the season and that's were you can get lots of different, rare, interesting apples. I printed off the handy PDF list and went on a beautiful fall day:

Foliage at Poverty Lane

The apple list indicates the variety name, tree number and whether or not it's appropriate for eating, cooking, cider, etc. I really only wanted to pick good eating/cooking apples. If I saw a tree that looked good, I picked a little apple of to eat and see if I liked it. Some apples were so interesting- I swear one kind tasted like vanilla!

Heirloom Apple Picking

I brought all kinds of paper lunch bags and a marker, to keep the different kinds of apples separate. Back at home, I still put them into a bowl together.


The little Wicksons in the middle are so tasty. The gold ones on the left have a rough skin and are called Hudson's Golden Gem. The weird shaped ones on the right are called Calville Blanc d'hiver.

I tried a couple small Pomme Grise with a new Cabot cheese:

Cheese and apples

It's hard to get tired of apples with all these varieties!

I wanted to cook with apples last night for supper. I took out some frozen puff pastry shells (the box had been in the freezer for nearly a year, oops). I made a simple filling of sauteed bacon, shallots and apple. Off the heat, I mixed in some crumbled Jasper Hill blue cheese. I baked the shells, spooned in the filling and baked a bit longer. 

Appetizers for supper

Appetizers for supper because I'm gangster. Actually, it was good I tested this out in case I want to do it again for a party. The apples that I used were soooo sweet that it balanced with the salty bacon and rich blue cheese. If I had used a more tart apple, I might have added a drizzle of honey or maple syrup to the filling (I love blue cheese with honey). 

Dollar doesn't dig blue cheese so he had a ham, apple, melted cheddar sandwich. I'm definitely looking for more savory ways to use apples. I've made two apple pies and an apple crisp this fall and I'm kind of over apple desserts. Until Thanksgiving.