[painting] Mountain Ridge Lake

I've taken several Joy of Painting classes with an instructor certified in the wet-on-wet oil painting technique. I was thrilled to see Hulu add the last few seasons of the show and I started watching episodes. I realized that I hadn't seen the show since I was a kid and watching Bob Ross do the techniques kind of opened my eyes. I ordered all the basic supplies and my sister gave me her easel. I then picked and episode and did my own at home:

Mountain Ridge Lake

This is from Season 23 Episode 3: Mountain Ridge Lake. I was kind of amazed- this is the first time I have ever done a mountain with a palette knife. I followed along with the episode on my iPad, pausing it when I needed more time. This took just over 2 hours.

I've been much happier painting at home, I think because I get to choose the scene I want to do. Dollar said he thinks the paintings I've done at home have been better and I agree. I am so excited about this new hobby and love that I can start and finish a painting in less than three hours, including set-up and clean-up.


[vermont] Must be the season of the... ramps

Saturday was beautiful weather. I had two car appointments in the morning but raced home to get up into the hills to pick.

Ramps. Wild leeks.

I spent a couple hours filling two shopping bags. I startled three ruffed grouse (who startled me back when they f'ing TOOK OFF to the skies from right next to me like feathered demons from hell), ran into hundreds of spiders (I eventually starting waving a stick in front of me to break the webs apart) and found one deer tick on my arm when I got back home (and promptly stripped in the laundry room, threw everything in to the washer and ran to the bathroom to meticulously shower/scrub).

I put off washing all the ramps but did make a quick chimichurri sauce with a few for supper:

Pulled pork with a quick ramp chimichurri.

I don't make chimichurri enough. It only took a couple minutes with a small food processor-

4 cleaned, chopped ramps
olive oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
pinch red pepper flakes

We had it with some homemade pulled pork- which went well together. The sharpness of the ramps and acidity of the vinegar paired well with the rich pork. And that's a Pillsbury Grands biscuit in the background because I keeps it real. Just kidding, I WAS going to use them to make steamed buns like at the very bottom of this recipe, but when I realized all I had for supper was pulled pork and chimichurri and I was tired and only had enough energy to press a spoon tip into the seam of a boxboard tube- I just plopped them into a cookie sheet.

More washing ramps tonight and making the old standbys- ramp compound butter, ramp pesto, pickled ramps.


[gardening] Bloodroot

Earlier this week I walked down to the brook to take a picture of the bloodroot that were blooming:


I love these flowers. They are so fleeting, only blooming for a day or two. Not sure how they're doing now, since we got more snow the day after I took this picture and the weather has been consistently cool with hard frosts at night.


[knitting] Norwegian Baby Cap

The last baby item I made for the shower was this hat:

Saki hat

Pattern is free on Rav: Norwegian Sweet Baby Cap . The yarn is leftovers from these socks.

It was a good pattern. I would like to make more baby hats and bonnets and mittens from sock leftovers but that stuff can wait until fall approaches (although, considering we got more snow this week, the baby might still need cold-weather apparel in May).

I still have a bazillion free baby patterns to knit but after making all this stuff for the shower:

Pile of handmade stuff

I needed a break. I started all this stuff in January and was done by March. Then Sock Madness 10 started but I only made it through 3 rounds. I'm still working on those socks and when those are done, I'm moving on to shawls. I have a hankering to make shawl after shawl after shawl. The last one I made was this large Batik, finished in January 2015.


[knitting] Honeycomb Stroller Blanket

The last large item I knit for the forthcoming niece was this Honeycomb Stroller Blanket:

Honeycomb stroller blanket

Used a cotton/llama blend that is machine washable. Added a large garter border around the whole thing to add extra inches. Not really crib-sized, just large enough to be used as a cover up for a stroller or car seat.

Honeycomb Stroller Blanket

I bought this yarn from a local woman through craigslist and I have a lot, a lot, a lot more of it. Because it machine washed and dried so well, I'll probably use it for more baby things in the future.


[knitting] Cotton Boucle Baby Blanket

Back to baby stuff, because I still have a few more things to show.

My favorite piece was this blanket:

Boucle blanket

Looks boring, no? I had some huge skeins of undyed cotton boucle. I cast on three stitches and increased at the beginning and end of every other row, which creates a nice triangle. When I thought the blanket was large enough diagonally, I decreased at the beginning and end of every other row. Voila, nubbly square blanket.

Then I got a ball of crochet cotton thread and made a frilly little scalloped trim around the whole thing.

Cotton boucle blanket with crochet trim

It's very simple but so sweet and I love the natural colors. Weaving in the big floppy boucle ends presented a problem- they keep coming loose a bit, which make you want to trim them flush with the surface of the fabric, which is just going to make them come loose more and more. I think the baby is just going to have to deal with a couple visible ends.

This blanket is machine washable and if it eventually gets gross and stained (from food and juice and barf), it would take well to being overdyed with a dark color.


[misc] Murderface Monday

Waking up from a nap Saturday, late afternoon:

MF waking up from nap.

Murderface tries to decide if he wants to get up with me or stay in bed with Dollar:

MF Sleepy. Ready for more naps.

He chose bed. Quelle surprise.

Was a busy weekend- I didn't have time to hike up the mountain to forage for ramps. Will do that this week sometime or definitely this coming weekend. Had a car appointment on Saturday morning, then grocery shopping. Sunday was "clean all the things" day after working on a new Bob Ross painting. Sunday morning Bob Ross painting is my new favorite thing. Was also a "cook all the things" weekend- homemade hummus, ridiculously good pork shoulder in the crock pot, no-knead bread and disappointingly dry brownies (but even bad brownies are still good).


[knitting] Composite

The last top I made for the baby shower was this tiny thing:

Purple Gradient

The pattern is Composite and used half of one ball of Classic Elite Liberty Wool Light. The yarn is 100% superwash wool but the size is very newborn. I'm not sure how much it can be comfortably worn before she grows out of it, even if it is short-sleeved.

The back:

Purple Gradient

This was a good pattern made even better by the fact that there are only two ends to sew in.

I think eventually I'll knit a bear or bunny or doll that can wear these small clothes once she grows out of them.


[knitting] Handspun vineyard sweater

Had to include one handspun, handknit item in the pile of baby knits:

Vineyard handspun sweater

Yarn is superwash wool, chain plied, leftovers from making these socks. The pattern is Puerperium Cardigan.


Vineyard handspun sweater

It's a pretty thick sweater due to the yarn being 3-ply but it will hopefully fit this coming winter. Pretty happy with how cute all the little wooden buttons are with this yarn.


[crochet] Bamboo Pinafore

The next baby item is in crochet:

Bamboo Pinafore

I had a couple partial balls of Sirdar bamboo yarn but they were shades of blue, which presented a problem when trying to decide how to make a garment that would still be "girlie". On a scale of "LOL, whatever" to "Concerned" about this, my sister was at "whatevs- I don't care if people think she's a boy just because she's wearing blue" but I wanted to use this particular yarn up (this baby is going to be my little stash-buster) and still be feminine.

So... lace.

The pattern is free- Angel Wings Pinafore

I consider the top picture to be the front- to be worn like a cardigan- but I think that it's actually meant to be worn the other way around (like a smock). Here's the other side:

Bamboo pinafore - back

Front? Back? Reversible? I don't know. But I would definitely like to make this pattern again in future. Longer as a dress. Would be a great pattern for yarn with long color stripes.


[knitting] Eco vest

The next baby garment I made was a Julian Vest:

Natural vest

It's a vest, so it has to be easier than a sweater, right? Wrong. This thing had 4x the amount of yarn ends to sew in. It's knit in the round but then split for the v-neck. New yarn added for the other shoulder. Then the ribbed neck band and each arm opening. By the time I finished it and saw all the ends to weave in like a bowl of spaghetti, I just said, "Yeah okay I'll finish it but never again."

The back:

Cotton Vest

The yarn is (now discontinued) Red Heart Eco-blend, a recycled cotton yarn. The vest should get softer the more it's washed and worn. And I hope it's washed/worn a lot because did I mention how many ends I had to sew in?

There's so much I've been enjoying about knitting these small things. They're quick, all the patterns have been free, use such small amounts of yarn (and I've been using stash yarn) and I get to start using up buttons in my button stash.

Vest buttons


[knitting] Monkey Stripes

The next sweater is a chunky, striped sweater:

Monkey Stripes

Using leftover Lion Brand Cotton Ease in mint and brown colors. I added monkey buttons because my niece is going to be born during the Chinese year of the Monkey.

The back:

Monkey Stripes

Pattern is Bug Warmer and I opted to make it long-sleeved.


[knitting] Sherbet Stripes

Another baby sweater. Same pattern as the last (rav link for Super-Natural Stripes) but I had less yarn and made it short sleeved.

Sherbet stripes

The yarn is Cascade Cotton Rich DK, which is now discontinued. I used up leftovers from a knit shopping bag that I made back in 2010 and gave to my mom.

Sherbet Stripes

Love this pattern.

Was in Alexandria, VA a few days this week for work. Was nice to get away even thought I had too many drinks and not enough oysters. I have plans this weekend to do a Joy of Painting class tomorrow, my taxes (finally, I love waiting until the last minute), day trip with Dollar on Sunday to pick up a new spinning wheel. And I need to squeeze in the 5 Colleges Book Sale. Whew.


[knitting] Natural Stripes Baby Sweater

We had my sister's baby shower this past weekend and I can finally show all the baby things I've been making since January. First, I made this:

Natural Stripes

The yarn is cotton leftovers from these Pretty Petals Potholders.

Natural Stripes - back

Lots of ends to sew in but worth it. I love this sweater so much- it was the first baby garment I made and it only took two evenings. Then I only had to add a couple buttons:

Natural Stripes - close up

I've got to remember to add yarn-over buttonholes to bands in the future. I had to crochet little loops for these buttons.


[misc] Murderface Wednesday


Busy busy this week. Extra busy at work. Gotta finish up some stuff for my sister's baby shower on Saturday. The new pattern for sock madness was released and I've yet to cast on. Will be so relieved when this week is over. The extra winter weather we're having isn't helping. Heading down to DC for a few days next week for work and I'm so looking forward to getting away for a bit.


[vermont] Woodchucks have arrived

Saw this little dirtbag on Saturday:


Was working on my socks in the living room when I heard a commotion outside. Two adult woodchucks tussling and banging into the side of the house. One (female I presume) was gathering dead grass in it's mouth and running back to it's burrow entrance in the rock wall. Building a nice nest, I guess, so it can have 400 little baby woodchucks.

The other starting prowling through the flower beds, looking for food.


I watched it. I know I complain about the woodchucks but I'm trying to take a more blasé attitude toward my annual residents. I'll simply not grow what they eat. I've given up on lupine, coneflower (in the backyard, I do have a spot right in front of the house where the woodchucks haven't come... yet) and a few other things. So this 'chuck walked along front path, eating clovers around the creeping thyme... I realized it was kind of... weeding for me. Huh. Maybe it's Bob Ross influencing me and his love of squirrels and all God's creatures but I'm ready to make peace with these little assholes


[knitting] Rose and Thorn socks - done!

Finished the socks Saturday afternoon:

Rose and Thorn socks- complete

Nabbed spot #36 out of a possible 40. Sprinted toward the finish line starting at 8am Saturday. I knit all morning and afternoon and submitted the pair at 4:30 pm.

This included time to deal with a mouse in the house. Three cats and I'm the one that has to take care of the mouse. Santana helped by tiring the thing out but she has no fangs left to do any actual killing. Penny alerted me when the mouse came upstairs and chased it into the bathroom but didn't really know what to do after cornering it. I stuffed all the possible exits with towels and spent 10 minutes chasing it around until I finally caught it in a wad of paper towel. Then I brought it outside and pitched it over the bank. It looked perfectly healthy and happily bound off down the slope. My only regret is that I didn't see an owl swoop down and grab it.

Murderface napped through the entire thing. I doubt he even knew there was a mouse.

Back to the socks- I really like this pair. The fit is perfect for me. It was an interesting cast-on and a difficult hem to join. The rest of the sock was smooth sailing. Next pattern is going to be released today or tomorrow. No rest for the weary and slow knitters.


[knitting] Rose and Thorn socks- halfway there

I feel like the slowest knitter in the universe right now:

Rose and Thorn socks

Deadline to complete these is Sunday night (provided all the spots on my team to make it to the next round don't fill up by then). Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...


[vermont] Simon Pierce

Went to the bar at Simon Pierce after work on Monday with a friend for some drinks. We had the place to ourselves:

Bar at Simon Pierce

Since this is a glass making, glass specialty, handmade glassy-glass place, there's glass everywhere. The drinking glasses, the light fixtures, the beer tap handles, vases, candle holders- so much glass. Since I can't afford to buy any of it, it's a treat just to drink a fruity cocktail out of one.


After some drinks and charcuterie, we went to browse through the store (while I silently repeated "You break it, you buy it" over and over in my head). Then we went downstairs to see the craftsmen working:

Making glass at Simon Pierce

Making glass at Simon Pierce

The work area is completely open (apart from a railing around it to keep people at a safe distance) and there were three men working. It's nice that they open this up and allow the public to watch and ask questions.

Then we went out onto the back patio that looks out across the raging Ottauquechee River and Quechee Covered Bridge:

Quechee Covered Bridge

Perfect way to spend a Monday afternoon.


[misc] Easter Bunny

Easter Bunny

This was our first year with an actual Easter bunny. We decided Easter will be Rocky's birthday from now on, since we don't know when his real birthday is. None of the cats were particularly pleased with the attention he received all day. I'm not sure he was either.


[misc] Murderface Monday


Great weather this past weekend. Spent Saturday morning working on my socks. Then Dollar's bandmates arrived for practice and I headed outside to start cleaning up the flower beds. It's so nice to see small green shoots coming up. I don't want to jinx anything but I haven't seen any woodchucks yet. I'm nervous about woodchucks eating all the young plants. Rather than stress about it, I'm just going to spray what I can with liquid fence and move on to planting seeds, dividing established plants and working on the vegetable garden.

At least I know that the woodchucks don't like catnip:


I cleared off this little plant and it has a lot of nice growth already! I brought in a few green leaves for the cats to enjoy in bed. The first fresh catnip of the year was nearly too much for them.


[gardening] Crocuses

Crocuses blooming in the front lawn:

Hey, it did bloom.

I planted these bulbs here and there a few years ago. I can't even describe how happy it makes me to have things blooming. I'm ready to start some seeds but we've had a cold snap the past week or so. I think things might start warming up again. I want to start cleaning up the flowerbeds and planning where things are going to go this year.

TGIF. This week was so busy, I'm looking forward to a weekend of knitting in my jimjams. I've got to catch up on my sock madness socks.


[knitting] The Joy of Winding Yarn

Hulu recently added some seasons of Bob Ross' The Joy of Painting.

Winding yarn, watching Bob Ross

I think winding yarn and watching Bob Ross is just about the most relaxing thing for me. After I finished winding yarn, I laid down on the couch under a blanket and watched episode after episode. Dollar eventually came into the living room and asked what I was doing. I could only reply, "I'm... sooooo... relaaaaaaxed."

I signed up for another Joy of Painting class in April. I think I'm going to invest in some Bob Ross supplies to start painting at home- now that I have the episodes to guide me!


[knitting] Rose and Thorns Socks - The Beadening

I got a relatively late start to casting-on the next Sock Madness pattern:

Rose and Thorn socks

I say relatively late because the pattern dropped Sunday evening and I cast on 48 hours later. By then, several knitters had completely finished the pair. There are fast knitters in this competition but you're placed on a team according to your own speed, so I'm on the second-to-slowest team (whomp whoooomp).

Anyway, I wound my yarn, strung my beads, watched a couple instructional videos and was able to complete the beaded cast on without incident. I'm ready to join the first hem; then I'll switch out to DPNs and use the same circulars to immediately do the second hem. Best to get them both out of the way at once.

My picture above doesn't show any of that, other than the pre-strung beads. I was pleased to find the match with material I already had in my stash. The yarn is a pretty, ever-so-slightly-semi-solid coral color and the beads are dark copper. When the beads are on the yarn, you might think that they are transparent smokey gray and you can see the yarn through them, but that's the copper-colored core.


[vermont] Green Mountain Fiber Festival

This past weekend was the 8th Annual Green Mountain Fiber Festival. I went early Sunday morning. I particularly enjoyed seeing samples from Fallingblox:


I bought a couple of his pattern books. I also got a new needle gauge from Katrinkles:

Needle Gauge

I first saw her buttons and knitting sundry at the VT Sheep and Wool Festival last year. Now whenever I see her, I have to get some buttons or a little something else.

Many great vendors at this event. I saw the cuuuuuutest yarn bowls:

Kitty Yarn Bowl

Kitty Yarn Bowl

Those were at the Kick the Moon Studio booth.

I didn't buy any yarn/fiber because I keep reminding myself, "I have enough yarn. I have enough fiber. I have enough yarn. I have enough fiber." But many of the vendors were selling bundle of mini skeins in gradient colorways. This seems to be the hot trend right now. They were so hard to resist! 


[cooking] Pie-nisher

Dollar's favorite comic character is the Punisher. We've both been looking forward to the the new season of Daredevil being released, which features the Punisher. I made a blackberry pie to celebrate:


The words around the outside are latin: Si vis pacem, para bellum. "If you want peace, prepare for war."

In this case, I've been telling people that it means "If you want a piece of pie, prepare for war." Or, "If you want peace, prepare a pie." Both are true.

Before baking:

Punisher Pie

Made a double crust as normal and rolled out the top and bottom a little larger than normal. I cut away some of the excess and re-rolled to cut out the Punisher skull. I used a pizza cutter to cut thin strips of dough for the letters. I didn't plan spacing too well, so the pacem/bellum words are a little scrunched together.

I brushed the top crust with milk, which made a nice adhesive for the skull and letters. Then I cut away through the eyes for steam to escape. Overall, it was a success!