[art] Joy of Painting #4

Went to a Joy of Painting class last weekend.

Painting, Bob Ross style. #joyofpainting #bunnicula

I always loved the idea of adding monsters to paintings. These classes don't really allow for something like this- because there are so many people in class and things have to keep moving along at a steady pace. If I raised my hand and asked "How should I highlight my monster's fur?", the instructor would probably say "What monster? I told you to add a tree." 

Anyway, I saw that this painting featured a bunny, so I tried to make it a creepy bunny by giving it a red eye and fang. From a distance, you can't even tell- but I know it's there. 

Someday, when I'm feeling more confident in my painting skills, I'll set up all my paintings and add proper monsters.


[knitting] Camera Cable Pouch

Another small tech cable pouch using up leftover handspun yarn:

Camera cable pouch

I slightly sized-up the pattern from the earbud pouch by using heavier yarn and US 4 needles. Now it fits my camera's USB cable cable perfectly.

Camera cable pouch


[spinning] Dance of the Dervish

Spun up 8oz of corriedale pencil roving into a single-ply:

Handspun - single ply

Fiber from Crown Mountain Farms, which is now sadly closed, in a colorway called Dance of thte Dervish.

I was going to do a plied yarn but then I was all, "Naaaahhh" so I spun low twist singles ranging from fingering to dk weight. Some spots have a little extra twist.

Handspun - single ply

Will probably use the yarn for a lacy shawl. Someday.


[knitting] Embossed Leaves Socks

Finished a new pair of socks from Favorite Socks:

Embossed Leaves socks

Used my super-sharp DyakCraft US 2 DPNs. I forget the name of the yarn but it's just a regular ball of Regia or Opal or On-Line or something. Regular work-horse sock yarn.

The leg isn't too long, so it was fast to work up. They are very pretty on.

Embossed Leaves socks

I think I've finished all the socks that I want to do for now from this book. Time to switch to a different sock book.


[misc] Penny Friday

I had some new things delivered from Amazon and was able to add a new wing to the cardboard estate that the cat's have:

New wing added to cardboard castle. This room has a heated fur floor. Penny has claimed it and will not leave for anything.

One of the items delivered was a fur pad that reflects body heat, so it warms up when you lay on it. It fit perfectly into the new addition and Penny wouldn't get out for anything.

This week was a blur. I had Tuesday off work and then Wed/Thur we flew to NYC for a b-day party for Dollar's favorite bass player: Megadeth's Dave Ellefson. It was a free event but of course we spent so much on plane tickets and hotel and cabs and etc etc etc. It was all very nice and easy and relaxed. The flight from Burlington, VT to JFK was 45 minutes. It was all worth it in the end- Dollar got to have pictures and autographs and meet so many of his idols. Next time, though, we're going somewhere for me. Either a knitting or a cooking event of some sort. 


[misc] Murderface Monday

Woke up before 6am on Saturday and couldn't get back to sleep. I got up and fed the cats. Murderface came to hang out with me on the couch:

Up way too early on a #caturday morning. Murderface said he'd hang out with me if I tucked him in.

Then he was face down, asleep in five minutes. At least I finished a new pair of socks.


[crafts] Faux Succulent Garden

I finally put everything together for my faux succulent garden:

DIY faux #succulent garden. Pistachio shell succulents, misc rocks and bits of moss.

I used a sign that I purchased at the craft store. It had "Apple Orchard" printed on it with a big apple. I painted over it:

Faux succulent rock garden

Then I added the pistachio shell succulents that I made a few weeks ago:

Faux succulent rock garden

Then added rocks:

Faux succulent rock garden

And finally variety of mosses:

Faux succulent rock garden

Very pretty. Possibly good Feng Shui depending on where I have it. Kind of useless and takes up a lot of valuable table space, though. I figure when I'm sick of it, I'll take the rocks back out, toss the moss and shells and repurpose the sign into a bottlecap table.


[spinning] Niagara Falls

Last year I took a trip to Niagara Falls and brought back a 4oz bump of Merino:


I split the fiber into two lengths and pre-drafted. The plan was to spin each thin and chain ply to retain the gradual color change from blue to brown. 

If I leave any of the unspun fiber unattended, Murderface "helps" by needle-felting it in places:

Kneading / Felting

Then I have to come along and carefully peel apart the sections that are matted together. Classic Murderface.

The final yarn:

Handspun yarn

They're about the same- one skein has slightly more yardage than the other. I'd like to knit a pair of simple fingerless gloves. Basically sleeves- no hole for the thumb or anything- just arm warmers.


[knitting] Waving Lace Socks

Finished a new pair of socks:

Waving Lace Socks

Pattern: Waving Lace Socks from Interweave Knits Favorite Socks

Yarn: Chugiak Hand Dyed Sock Yarn from Pagewood Farm

Needles: US 2

Mods: I did an extra pattern repeat to make the leg a little longer.

Waving Lace Socks

Working both socks in tandem worked out well- I liked finishing the pair at the same time rather than completing one and thinking, "Oh man... now I have to make another?" Also, this all-over lace pattern works up more quickly than standard 1x1 ribbing. I've always thought socks were so damn tedious to make- and now I'm sure it's because I was doing k1p1 ribbed socks which- yeah- is crazy boring and tedious. I think it's just lace socks for me from now on!


[knitting] Earbud Pouch

I knit a little hexagon pouch:

Earbud Pouch

Pattern: Earbud Pouch

Yarn: Aracunia Atacama (leftovers)

Needles: US 3

Made to hold my girlie pink earbuds:

Earbud Pouch

This is a snug fit. I'd like to make another slightly larger. This is a great little pouch if you're traveling with earbuds, to keep them neatly tucked away until you need them. 


[knitting] Handspun Warlock

I made a 3rd Wilted Warlock and I think I'm all Warlocked out.

Wilted Warlock Hat

I'm keeping this one because it's knit with my own handspun. The original fiber:

Creatively Dyed Yarn

Purchased, I believe, at the 2010 NY Sheep and Wool Festival (my first and only Rhinebeck). The fiber content is 70% wool and 30% seacell, so the finished yarn has a nice sheen:

Creatively Dyed Yarn Fiber Spun

It's a pretty dense bulky-weight yarn. Should keep me nice and warm but the finished hat doesn't have the drape that I desire (and seemingly hardly every achieve).  

I'm going back to knitting socks...


[knitting] Another Wilted Warlock

I made another Wilted Warlock hat, since it's so fast and I have so many leftovers. This yarn is Mountain Mohair again.

Wilted Warlock Hat

And the back, to see the not-so-great color jogs (although I think these are less conspicuous that yesterday's hat).

Wilted Warlock Hat

Both hats are now with my mom, who was very please I was able to make two. Little does she know, she's probably getting more for Christmas.


[knitting] Wilted Warlock

My mother asked me to make a Wilted Warlock hat after she saw the one that my sister had knit. Just what I needed- a simple, fast, stash-busting project. I dug through my yarn and found some Mountain Mohair from the Green Mountain Spinnery. One evening of knitting and wahlah:

Wilted Warlock Hat

The reverse side, showing the obvious jogs where the color striping changed.

Wilted Warlock Hat

Hm, a suppose a technique that I should work on is hiding stuff like this better.


[knitting] DyakCraft DPNs

After I received my DyakCraft interchangable needle set back in January, I did what everyone does... Place a new order. The needles are that nice.

I placed an order for two sets of 5" double-pointed needles in a variety of wood tones. Then I forgot about it because the waiting is the hardest part. I finally received my needles last week.

Here's the set of larger sizes:

DyakCraft Needles

And the smaller sizes:

DyakCraft Needles

The only minor disappointment I have with the set is that they're obviously not all the same length. I actually measured the shortest needle and it was 5" exactly, so they're all at least that long. The US 1 set is the only one there that is all the same length. That's kind of disappointing to me.

Is it to be expected because these are hand made? Did I miss a disclaimer that said, "Due to these products being lovingly hand-crafted in Vermont by a real person and not a machine, expect your needles to vary in length by as much as .25 of an inch. Which isn't a big deal so don't freak out about it and go whining to your blog. Why does everyone need something to complain about? Can you just take stock in the fact that you have your health and family and complaining about .25 inches makes you look insane and petty?"

It's probably the waiting that's the problem. All this time goes by, then I get the shipping notification and think, "Here they come! They'll be the most perfect of the perfectest needles ever hand-turned by angels and picked up by cherubs to be dropped off on my doorstep. Clearly they've been working on these needles for 10 solid months- they're going to be immaculate."

Anyway, I'm just being nit-picky. They are lovely needles and oh-so-sharp. I've cast on for a pair of lacy socks and k2togs and ssks have never been easier. 



[knitting] Two socks at once, kind of

I'm working on a new pair of socks. For the last pair that I made, I knit one and then felt the crushing weight/burden/onus/strain of having to knit another. I did it, I finished the pair but had an "As God is my witness, I'll never knit socks one-at-a-time again!" moment.

So I'm doing a tandem method. Knit the cuff of one using yarn from the inside of the yarn ball. Knit the cuff of the second using yarn from the outside of the yarn ball. Knit the leg of one. Knit the leg of the other. One heel flap, then the other, etc.


This method is working fine for me. It does require two pairs of DPNs that are the same size. It would also be easier if I had weighed and wound the skein of sock yarn into two equal balls, then things wouldn't get tangled so easily. But I like the idea of working from one ball so that the leftovers are in one piece, rather than two. I don't know why that might matter but it just feels like it would be better.

As the nights are getting colder and the bed is starting be frigid when I first get in, I'm wearing my handknit socks to bed to keep my feet toasty.


[cooking] Romanesco

Picked up my last CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share of the year and was pleased be able to try Romanesco broccoli for the first time.

Last CSA share pickup of the year. Got a head of romanesco cauliflower. Not sure if we should eat it or smoke it.

I cut it up into individual buds and roasted it, which tasted nice but really dulled the color. If I get to try this again, I would probably leave it raw a salad.

Overall, I enjoyed having the CSA this year. In case you don't know how it works, you pay up-front for a season's worth of vegetables. I purchased a small share (since there's only two of us) but you can get a medium or large share depending on how large your family is. Then every week you pick up your vegetables. I received six solid months of veggies including many things I haven't seen before. A head of heirloom lettuce with leaves that looked like long oak leaves. Garlic scapes galore. Kholrabi. Celery Root. Romanesco. It also forced me to regularly cook with things that I wouldn't normally buy from the grocery store- kale, chard, eggplant, tomatillos. Plus, there's always familiar stuff like potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, herbs and lettuces, onions, garlic, peppers, fennel, squash, cucumbers, etc etc etc. Since I was picking up my shares every week right from the farm, I was usually able to pick up a dozen eggs as well. I'll definitely get another share next year.


[crafts] Pistachio Shell Succulents

I pinned this hanging succulent garden craft project a long time ago. I thought that the pistachio shells really did look like sempervivium. Using this project as an excuse to buy all the pistachios, I saved shells for a while and finally glued them together last weekend.

Making DIY #succulents. If I never see another pistachio shell again, it will be too soon.

Pretty. Tedious to make but pretty. I glued them together on waxpaper. Once they set, I turned them over and squeezed more hot glue into gaps, just to secure the shells more.

I used food coloring to dye them:

Pistachio shell #succulents dyed with food coloring. They look really realistic.

The crafter of the original project used Rit dye, which seems to have dyed her shells in anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes. Food coloring took way longer- like, 30 minutes in some cases. Being in the dye bath for so long, some of the shells became saturated and fell off from the hard glue bottom. There was a lot of re-gluing I had to do after the fact- to repair the succulents. So, I wouldn't recommend food coloring.

What to do with them now? I would like to find a small table, with a lip/edge, to display these with my rock collection. I have a wooden sign board that is meant to be hung but I could attach legs to each of the four corners and convert it into a small table.


[cross-stitching] New Life Motto

A new, tasteful cross-stitch piece for the home:


Pattern from Small Stitch Shop.

I searched high and low for sky blue, sparkly aida cloth. Some sellers in the UK offer iridescent aida- but none in the correct blue color. The seller sells kits that come with everything- including the sparkle cloth. I made do with regular old blue aida. I stitched with 4 strands at a time- so the pattern would look puffier and wouldn't show any of the blue background through. 

Fast. Easy. I made a couple mistakes (the unicorn's hind legs aren't quite right and I mis-aligned the bottom word, so that it's not perfectly centered) but I finished anyway... because whatever. 


[knitting] Afghan Square #9

Finished and blocked another square for the Aran Afghan:

Afghan Square

Time to start another...


[spinning] Teal Superwash Merino

The Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival was a couple weekends ago. The fairgrounds are close to where I live, so I can go over easily. I went on Sunday (better weather of the two days) only for a couple hours- just to check out the animals and vendors. I bought a few things- some fiber to spin, some sock yarn. And a little woven rug for my cell phone.

It's been a while since I've spun any yarn but I wanted to work up some fiber from my stash to justify buying more at the festival. "Look, I've spun 4 oz. That's why I can buy 16 more oz of fiber. See, it all works out."

I pulled out a 4oz bump of superwash merino from my stash (purchased at the VT Sheep and Wool Festival last year, from the Fiber Stash booth). It spun up easily into a squishy 2-ply worsted weight.

teal handspun

teal handspun

I've just finished spinning another 4oz into lace-weight singles that I want to Navajo-ply into sock yarn. It took me weeks to spin evenly and thinly, but I can stop whenever I feel like and pick it up again the next day. When I sit down to ply, I'm going to have to do it all at once which I know will take hours. HOURS. Good thing I just started Dan Carlin's Hardcore History "Blueprint for Armageddon" series of podcasts. That's a good 15 hours of WWI history to listen to.


[crafts] Clover PomPom Maker

I've tried a few different pompom-making tools but my favorite are the Clover pompom makers. They are easy to use and make nice, fluffy pompoms. For the hats yesterday, I made a pompom for each.

I didn't have that much leftever yarn from knitting the rainbow-colored hat, but was able to fill up either side of the tool:

Clover small pompom maker

Push the curved arms back together:

Clover small pompom maker

Get to cutting:

Clover small pompom maker

Tie a piece of yarn around the middle, cinch, pull apart either side of the pompom maker and poof:

Clover small pompom maker

I like the different sections of color from the striping yarn. I'm tempted to try some other pompom crafts... like hedgehogs, or Adventures in PomPom Land (that bird's pompom head is so stupidly round and perfect), or it's the right time of year for a PomPom o' Lantern, or whatever this thing is, or maybe animals. So many options. I should use all my leftover yarn for pompoms.


[knitting] Strelisias

I fell in love with a hat on Ravelry. The pattern is called Strelisia and is in Russian only. But there was a chart and I thought I could figure things out. After asking a couple questions in one of the Russian groups in the forums, I gave it a go:

grey hat

The hat has interesting texture and movement from the combination of purled sections and knit sections that slant this way or that way. As written, pattern calls for two colors of yarn- which I think helps accentuate the 'swirliness' of the design. The yarn I used for this was self-striping sock yarn but the tonal colorway was just too subtle. 

Also, this hat is crazy small. I used sock yarn and US 2 needles and I think I'm going to have to give this to Dollar's 6-year-old niece.

I tried again, this time with a rainbow colorway of Revel by Plymouth Yarn and I worked the body on US 4 needles:

rainbow hat

Yeah... it's brighter and fits better... And I was able to knit the entire hat with one 50gr ball but... I'm not in love-love. I would like to revisit the pattern again someday- knit even looser with a longer brim and yarn that has even color repetitions. I think once I get it just the way I want it, it could be one of my most favorite hats.

And in case you want to make one, there is an English version of this pattern called Madreselva. When I went asking for help and translations in the Russian group, I didn't check the designers other patterns first. (Oops.) Had I seen this, I would have simply adapted this pattern for fingering weight yarn rather than the DK weight it's written for.


[knitting] Rockies Socks

For the Canadian Rockies trip, I brought enough yarn to knit three pairs of socks. In my head, I'm a much faster knitter than I actually am. I ended up knitting one pair of socks:

rockies sockies

Pattern: Retro Rib Socks from Favorite Socks

Yarn: Araucania Itata Multi

Needles: US 2

Notes: This is a rather busy colored yarn and I was a little worried that the pattern would be lost- but I think it worked out.

rockies sockies

I definitely felt a little Second Sock Syndrome when I finished closing the toe of the first and thought, "Oh man, now I have to make another one?" I started a new pair and I'm doing them in tandem on two sets of US 2 needles- so I'll finish the pair at the same time.


[misc] Jack old Lantern

Wow. After one week, my Jack o' Lantern has aged from a terrifying, nightmare-inducing demonic face to:

Pumpkin didn't even last a week. Now it just looks like a crazy old toothless man covered in flies and hornets.

What the actual F? Now it just looks like some toothless old man who, at worst, will try to gum you to death. I can hear a wheezy, high pitched laughing in my head followed by a chronic cough. So not scary anymore- apart from the gross flies and hornets hanging around on it.

I'm going to have to pitch it over the bank this weekend. I guess I shouldn't be surprised- I literally placed large piece of cut vegetable on my deck and got mad when it rotted in a week's time. I've read a few things online to help preserve the pumpkin- spritzing the finished piece inside and out with a bleach/water mix and then slathering all the cut surfaces with petroleum jelly to seal/protect but... ugh, it sounds like so much extra work. 


[cooking] Apple Pie Biscuits

The 2nd Baking Bootcamp challenge was posted by Joy the Baker. This recipe features King Arthur Flour's Self-rising flour.

Apple pie biscuits

They're simply biscuits with slightly-cooked apples on the inside but they're not overly sweet, which is nice. I used one McIntosh apple that I picked at Poverty Lane a couple weeks ago. 

This recipe makes about a dozen. I ate one, put the rest into Tupperware, woke up the next morning and there were only four left. You might want to hide them from any late-night snackers you have in your house if you want them to last more than one day. Or, give in and just make more.


[misc] Jack o' Lantern

Spent Friday evening on the deck, whittling a pumpkin. Blades were slashing, bits of pumpkin went flying (a la Edward Scissorhands). I ended up with:

My jack o'lantern is scary in daylight and freaking terrifying at night.

Uh, that's pretty scary. I have Dollar go out at night to blow out the candle when we go to bed because it's too creepy for me. I hope it lasts until the end of the month.