[cooking] More pasta

Had a guest over for dinner last night and had to practice my pasta-making skills at home:

Successful pasta at home

Only this time I made twice as much as I made on Sunday- a four egg pasta. What a long, arduous process. My kitchen looks like a bomb went off. I used attachments for my Kitchen Aid stand mixer and the results were the same as in class.

Fettuccine made at home

There was enough to cook for three people plus plenty of pasta leftover to freeze. 

All right, that's enough pasta. Time to get back to knitting. After cleaning up the kitchen.


[cooking] Perfect Pasta

Yesterday morning I took a Pasta 101 class at King Arthur Flour. For my birthday back in October, Dollar said he would buy me a class of my choice. Pasta was the only one I wanted and I had to wait 5 months to find a class that wasn't sold out.

The class ran from 9 am to 12 pm and the time flew by. I blinked and two hours had passed. The class was: watch the teacher make the dough, make your dough, roll it out, cut 60% into fettuccine and make ravioli with the rest.

Here's what I got to bring home:

Pasta 101 at @kingarthurflour. Fettuccine and ravioli to bring home!

This class was awesome. I mean, look at that pasta I made. I've only made pasta at home a couple times and it was messy and I didn't really know what I was doing and the pasta was too chewy. All of those things were explained. Any question/concern I had was answered. The instructors were great. The atmosphere of the class was great. 

Towards the end of the class, one of the instructors came through and took a handful of fresh fettuccine from everyone to boil together for lunch. A wild mushroom cream sauce was made to toss with the pasta. Add some fresh snipped chives and voila:

Lunch is the fettuccine we made with wild mushrooms. Heaven. ��

This was so good, I wanted to cry. The fettuccine was so silky smooth and tender. The mushrooms were tasty. There were fresh baguettes (of course) and butter. 

For dinner, I cooked up the pasta I brought home- ravioli for me, fettuccine for Dollar, both tossed with brown butter. We had it with some roasted salmon- which is one of his favorite foods. I knew the pasta was good when he ate it all before finishing his salmon. He was like, "Yeah. Okay. So I assume we're going to never have boxed pasta again?" Once you have fresh pasta, you never wanted to go back to the dried stuff.


[misc] Penny Friday

I think this is how we're all feeling about the never-ending frigid temperatures:

Penny in warm laundry

Penny snuggled deep into a blanket and futon cover straight out of the dryer.

I just signed up for Sock Madness 9 on Ravelry, just before the cut-off time. It seems to be a very strict, very challenging competition that starts imminently and runs through the end of May. I think sock knitting is all I'm going to be doing for the next three months. Gulp.


[misc] Murderface Thursday

A week and a half ago, Murderface had to have one of his canine teeth extracted because of decay. Santana was missing three of hers by the time we adopted her and eventually had to have the last one taken out for the same decay that MF had. Who knows if these teeth problems are hereditary or what but Santana's track record doesn't bode well for MF.

Anyway, I brought him down to the vet on a Monday morning. He was sedated, his tooth pulled and the rest cleaned. He was awake by 1pm and we picked him up at 3. He was out of it and stumbled around for the rest of the evening- we had to keep and eye on him at all times so he didn't try to jump on things or slip on the stairs.

Here he is recovering at home:


His diet has to be straight-up soft food for 14 days. I found some soft treats that I could give him. This is him hearing the treat bag crinkling:

Murderface waiting for treats

When it's treat time, the cats show how deserving they are by being nice and kissing one another:

Kissy Kissy

Then they eat all the treats and go back to hating and fighting with each other.

I had a quick trip to the DC area again this week. When I got home last night, the cats showed me how much they missed me. Murderface cat-loafed on my chest on the couch during a movie:



[knitting] Super simple striped socks

My travel knitting last week for DC was a pair of socks:

Super simple striped socks ��

Pattern is just the basic sock formula from Ann Budd's Handy Book of Patterns. Cast on 68 stitches, used US 2 needles. Yarn is Sari Bamboo from Wisdom Yarns and I have a decent amount of the originally 100g ball leftover.

I was trying to take pictures of the socks just before kitty suppertime so Penny followed me around, reminding me that it was almost suppertime. 


[knitting] Aran Afghan Square #12

The last square I've finished:

Aran Afghan Square #12

I'm in the middle of some socks at the moment, but then I'll go back to making the last three squares for the afghan. Then it will be hours and hours and hours of sewing.


[knitting] Aran afghan square #10

Continuing to plug away at squares for the Great American Aran Afghan.

Aran Afghan Square #10

I think I have enough yarn for 16 squares total, sewn together. I would have to buy more for a garter-stitch border but it's okay if the dye-lot is different for that; I just want to be able to complete the main body with all the same yarn and dye-lot. That should make a nice, square lap blanket. 


[knitting] Felted House Slippers

I knit/felted three pairs of House Slippers over the holidays. I gave them all away but I did make a 4th pair for me.


Pre-felted slippers

I used undyed, local wool that I picked up at a VT Sheep and Wool Festival one year.

After felting:

Felted House Slippers

They really didn't lose much of their stitch definition but they are smaller. I ran them through 2 wash cycles and they seemed to shed a lot during the process... I was starting to get worried about clogging up my washing machine and/or drainage tube with stray fibers, so I stopped.

They are really soft now. The original yarn was kind of rough and I thought it was only suitable for rugs but these slippers are ridiculously soft. They are a bit too big for me, so I'll put them into a basket and keep them as guest slippers.


[travel] DC

Had a quick trip to DC this week. Passed by the back side of the White House:

White House security was in no-joke stay-on-the-sidewalk mode this afternoon. Didn't get to see the Prez.

Everyone had to stay on the side walk. Usually you're allowed to meander up to the black fence at the edge of the grass but everything was blocked off and security was tight. We saw several people (tourists and joggers) screamed at for setting one tippy-toe off the sidewalk. Typically this happens when the president or some other VIP is returning to the White House. Who knows- who knows when they're arriving, who knows who it will be, etc. I get on my phone and searched "where is the president", which you'd think wouldn't work, but it's how I figured out that it was the African American caucus that was coming up to the White House for a meeting. Their bus pulled up in a few minutes.

While we waited, we watched the overly-friendly, overly-fed squirrels:

Black squirrel at the White House

And this trip was my first time sampling raw oysters around the city:

Had so many oysters in DC this trip.

My new favorite food.

I brought sock yarn as my travel knitting and managed to knit one entire sock. Now I've got a couple days to figure out what to do for Valentine's Day.

[misc] Murderface Thursday

Enjoying the sun last weekend. 



[knitting] Cupcake Hat

Using some of the leftover super-bulky yarn from the pillow covers, I whipped up a hat:

Cupcake hat

Pattern: Cupcake by DROPS design

Yarn: Encore Mega, 1.5 balls

Needles: US 11

Made the L/XL size. Perfect fit for my big head. Made the pompom using my Clover XL pompom maker in 3 minutes flat. Too bad I can't wear the hat inside my car- there isn't enough clearance above my head to accommodate the grapefruit-sized pompom. But this hat is definitely a keeper for me. 

I'm tempted to order a slew faux fur pom poms to add to hats. 


[knitting] Wesley Hat

A new hat knit with three colors of light-weight mohair/silk yarn:

Wesley hat

Pattern: Wesley

Yarn: Sublime Yarns Kid Mohair Blend (discontinued) in tan, pink and navy. 

Needles: US 6 (brim), US8 (body)

The above picture is a little pink overall. This close-up is a better representation of the color combination:

Wesley hat - stitch close up

Modifications: I only really used the stitch pattern. I prefer long, slouchy toques over berets.

The brim is 120 stitches on US 6 needles. Then I increased to 132 and started the main body with US 8. I worked the pattern straight for 10 inches and then decreased rapidly as such:

Color A round 1: *k2tog, slip 2 with yarn in front, k1, slip 1 with yarn in front* around.
Color A round 2: k1,  *knit2tog, k3* around.
Color B round 1: *slip 2 with yarn in front, k2tog, slip 1 with yarn in front, k1* around.
Color B round 2: *knit2tog, k3* around.
Color C round 1 and 2: Same as for Color A.

You decrease 33% of the total number of stitches every two rounds. I thought about adding a pompom to the top but I didn't for a couple reasons: 1) the decreases blended in so perfectly with the rest of the pattern, I didn't feel the need to hide it, and 2) this hat is light as air but still long enough to slouch nicely; I thought a pompom would only weigh things down in the back of my head.

Stash busting is going nicely. I can't even remember the last time I bought yarn. Maybe at the VT Sheep and Wool festival last October. I need to find good one-skein projects and projects for my handspun. I think I see a ton more hats in my future.


[quilting] Finished Quilt

I got the call that the quilt was finished, so I drove up to Fairlee to pick it up on Saturday. At home, I put it onto the guest bed and took about 100 pictures of it. I love it soooo much:

Finished quilt

I like the spiral pattern that was sewn on. I picked the thread. I brought them the navy blue fabric to sew together for the back. I picked the puffiest batting they had. And they finished the binding.

Santana on the finished quilt

Santana was so put out that I woke her up for these pictures. In my defense, I wanted to take these pictures earlier but her and Murderface were napping on the bed in the sun and looked so peaceful, I actually waited a couple hours before I was like, "Okay, I have to take these pictures now before I lose the sunlight."

Santana on the finished quilt

Anyway, the quilt and super-awesome and colorful and unique. As grumpy as she appears, Santana loves it, too.


[knitting] Batik Shawl

A finished project for myself:

Batik shawl

Pattern: Batik by Kitman Figueroa (rav link)

Yarn: Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool in Nature's Brown, 2 balls

Needles: US 10

Notes: This shawl is super-sized. I made the Large size and upped the ante by using a worsted weight yarn and larger needles.

The yarn is okay- not terribly soft. There were knots to cut out here and there. I used ALL of the two balls.

The pattern is thorough but some of the symbols she uses in the charts are a little odd to get used to. For example, her purl stitches are blank boxes, which I'm used to representing knit stitches 99.9% of the time. The first few rows are kind of messed up but you can't really tell.

Quality Control

Well, apparently Penny can tell.

The pillows and the shawl total nearly 5lbs of yarn that I've converted in "actual stuff". 


[knitting] Super bulky pillow covers

An embarrassingly long time ago (2008), I started an afghan using super bulky yarn. I got as far as one square:

Square for blanket

Yarn: Encore Mega

Needles: US 15

Pattern: A square from The Great American Afghan booklet.

I made the square, marveled at how big it was... and shoved it into a tub with balls and balls of the yarn and stopped thinking about it. I took it out over Christmas break and decided to finally do something about it. I didn't have enough of the yarn for an entire blanket but the square was a perfect fit for one of my two 26 in x 26 in Euro-sized pillows. I made another square in the same pattern and finished them as pillow covers:

Pillow covers

I made half-sized panels for the back and added buttons to make a closure- so that the cover can be removed and washed. Because cat barf. It will inevitably happen.

Button closure

I didn't make any kind of button holes- the yarn is so bulky that I just used the stitches as button holes.

Pillow covers

These two pillows took 16 balls of yarn. SIXTEEN. But, there is only 64 yards per ball and it takes approximately 30 minutes to knit an entire ball, so it's not too bad. Other than the billion (maybe I'm exaggerating) ends to weave in.

Nothing like knitting through 3.5 pounds of yarn to whittle away at the yarn stash!


[vermont] Snowmobile

Bought myself a used snowmobile:


It's a single-seater. It is currently at a family member's, waiting for the electric start to be fixed. It still starts fine with the regular pull. I've never owned or driven a snowmobile, so this past Saturday I got my first lesson and drove it around a bit. SO easy and SO fun. One lever to go, one lever to stop. Easy. I still need to get the right kind of gear and I won't be going on any VAST trails this year but I finally have a snowmobile! Now we're looking for one for Dollar.


[vermont] Drag racing a peacock

A farm on my hill has peacocks, which are out and about (in the road!) now and then. I love to get a picture when I can:

Peacock in the road. #vermontproblems

Finally blocked a large shawl that I knit over Christmas break. I'm wrapping up a pair of super-bulky pillow covers. Being able to knit through a ball of yarn in 30 minutes is soooooo satisfying. Will need to visit the craft store to find buttons for the closure. I have a couple works trips coming up and I think socks will be my travel knitting. I only need to make two more afghan squares to finish all the pieces I will use for an aran blanket. And I have one more pair of slippers to felt.


[misc] Murderface Tuesday

Murderface, keeping me company on the couch:


Had a long weekend. Friday I had a dentist appointment (yaaaaay- not) and had a surprise trip to the vet. Penny is prone to conjunctivitis and Thursday night she was having trouble with both her eyes (she also licked a bald spot on her stomach). I have several tubes of leftover ointment and put some in but this only seems to make her eyes worse. Friday afternoon I brought her down and this was the first time a vet told me she has feline miliary dermatitis which seems to be triggered by either an allergy or stress. I got new ointment and after several days of application morning and evening, her eyes appear to be getting better. 


[music] That 1 Guy

Went to Higher Ground in Burlington on Tuesday evening to see That 1 Guy:

That 1 Guy at Higher Ground last night. Awesome show! #buttmachine #that1guy

We first saw him open for Buckethead years ago. He plays an instrument of his own invention called The Magic Pipe. He plays with his hands, with a drumstick (held "backwards"), with a bow... with his feet. He plugged in a cowboy boot and played it. He plugged in a saw and playing Somewhere Over the Rainbow. The way he performs is totally surreal and mind-bending but the music is catchy, highly listenable, smart and funny. That 1 Guy is a performer that I will always want to go see live if he's within a 100 mile radius.

He's on tour now. You should definitely go see him if he's going to be within a 100 mile radius of you.


[quilting] New old quilt top

Years ago (I'm talking 10 years ago) I bought some quarters from Joann's and made a simple square top to see if I was into quilting. Well, it turns out I'm not. So I folded everything up and shoved it into a box. 

I heard about a place in Fairlee, VT that finishes quilts. They have a big quilting machine and software that can stitch various designs and they can take care of everything. But it was a little pricey and I'm cheap so... 

As a Christmas gift, Dollar said he would pay to have it finished. So I pulled the top out to measure the area. Penny "helped":

Measuring quilt top that I made a decade ago. Planning on sending it away to be finished. Because quilting clearly isn't my thing.

I brought it up to Barnyard Quilting on Saturday. I picked out the batting, thread and quilt design. The woman who helped me was so nice and helpful and accommodating. They have so many amazing projects on display around the shop, I felt a little sheepish bringing in this thing of random squares. But I can't wait for it to be finished (at the end of the month). Will it be enough to push me over the edge and buy a sewing machine and take up quilting? Possibly. But probably only if Dollar keeps paying to have my quilts finished for me.


[misc] Murderface Monday


Murderface is my buddy. He's sleeps with me every night, at my side or between Dollar and I, for all 8 hours. Every now and then he skips a night and sleeps downstairs but that's so rare. I love him so much for this. He's such a chill, sweet cat. I used to post pictures of him here all the time when we were living at the apartment- he was an only kitty and he went outside- there were lots of photo opportunities. Now there are two more cats and he doesn't get to go outside. Penny is usually at my side all the time, which is why there are so many pictures of her but Murderface is #1 cat in the house. He's never bad  (even when he's bad), he gets his meals first, he's not malicious like Santana nor skittish like Penny. He's just the best cat ever.

P.S. He's not sick or super old and frail. I just don't say these things about him enough. 


[embroidery] Three new hankies

Dollar's handmade Christmas gifts were a little late but the did get finished:

New embroidered hankies for Dollar. The one with thistles is an homage to Braveheart.

Iron-on patterns from Sublime Stitching. The one with thistles I made as an homage to the handkerchief that William Wallace keeps with him his entire life in the movie Braveheart.

The hankies themselves are organic, cotton and a heavier fabric than most others I've seen but they're still too delicate. I'm looking for rugged, white cotton handkerchiefs. If anyone has a good source, please let me know. 


[crochet] Elsa doll

I crocheted an Elsa doll from the movie Frozen for a niece:


The pattern is free on Ravelry.


Pretty much stuck to the pattern. For the sleeves/cape, I ended up using a mohair/silk blend because the acrylic worsted I was using was just too heavy. Now the sleeves and cape are soooo soft and airy. I added glass safety eyes- it was hard to get the eyelids right. Without them, she looked totally alarmed. Get the angle wrong and she looks either super sad or super angry. Now, she just looks bored to me. Which is the best I can hope for, I guess. And I added lips because Dollar thought she looked weird without a mouth.


[knitting] Spirit Bear

I was lucky enough to take a double-knitting class with Lucy Neatby a couple years ago. I made a couple small double-knit dishcloths and started a larger wall hanging. The pattern is simply a chart on Ravelry suitable for any many types of crafts: knitting, filet crochet, rug hooking, cross-stitch.

After a year-long hiatus, I finally finished it in time to give as a Christmas gift:


The nice thing about double knitting is that there's no wrong side. Each side is an inverse in color and picture of the other side. 

I like to think of it as a brown bear on one side and a polar bear on the other. I was pretty sad to see this one go- I absolutely loved the finished project. Thankfully, the pattern author has so many other charts she offers for free- Spirit Eagle, Spirit Caribou, Spirit Fox. I'm tempted to do a Spirit Beaver.

Most of the charts come in two formats- square and knitting. I accidentally knit the square chart, which is why my finished piece is rectangular. Be mindful to knit the "knitting" chart, which has the elongated stitch boxes.

I need to work out a different needle to use for double-knitting, though. I used Knit Picks Rainbow Options circular, which I like because they have such sharp tips. But the wooden tip on the US 5 size that I used was way too long and once the project started to grow, it was hell on my wrists. Next time, I will use a circular needle with a much shorter tip. 


[crafts] Seashell curio tray

I bought a couple bags of miscellaneous seashells from a thrift store and a craft store. I suddenly had 1,000 shells and started perusing Pinterest for craft ways to use them. I saw an old printer's drawer with shells glued in and hung like a work of art. The small spaces for movable type were a perfect fit to showcase different shells. I copied the idea with a curio tray:

Seashell curio tray. Made as a Christmas gift. Good thing I have enough shells left over to make one for me.

Given away for Christmas but thankfully I still have 975 shells leftover and plan on making another for me. The only time consuming part of the project is pawing through all the shells and placing them in compartments just so. Then hot glue-gunning everything down only takes 10 minutes. 


[misc] Murderface Monday

Vacation over :( It was so nice to have nearly two weeks off. Of course, the first week was a frantic blur of trying to finish up presents in time but the second week? Ahhh. So relaxing. I started a new knitting project just for me and did an epic marathon of Gilmore Girls (it's sad how homophobic and sexist the show is- and their problems are so inane and self-inflicted; I've started referring to the program as "Rich White Female Problems").

It was nice to spend all day cuddling with the cats. For the first few days, they'd circle me after breakfast, like "What are you still doing here? Are you staying? Yay!" After a week, they were like, "Go back to work already. You're permanently damaging my sleep cycle with your coffee-making and laundry-doing at all hours of the daytime!" Eventually, they started to turn on each other:

What did the five fingers say to the face?

I have so many crafty Christmas projects to share this week. 


[knitting] Felted House Slippers - Blue

The blue house slippers felted nicely and were given to their recipient last night:


Santana had to come check out the commotion:


[misc] Penny Monday

While Murderface never really liked this sweater, Penny doesn't seem to mind it.

I should probably turn up the heat in the house when the cats start wearing their winter sweaters.

There is a mobility issue but the thing is warm. The yarn is a wool/alpaca blend and if there's anything Penny loves, it's being warm. She'll purr while she's wearing it. And she can wiggle out of it easily if she wants to. Next, I'll make a sweater that she can't get out of so easily.