Friday

[knitting] Longing for Spring (aka Mud Season)

With only one spot left open on my Sock Madness team to make it to the next round, I sat down to finished my Round 3 socks as soon as I stepping in the house yesterday afternoon:

Longing for Spring

I only had a bit of the leg and cuff to do on the 2nd sock, so it didn't take very long. I put the socks onto the blockers, took a picture and emailed off the info (misidentifying my team as Team Friggers- I'm on Team Froggers). I made the last spot! Happy but immediately filled with directionless ennui, I decided to celebrate with vodka drinks. Next time I'll celebrate by working on my filler projects- they don't give me a hangover.

Thursday

[misc] Penny Thursday

When you get so hot that you have to throw a leg out from under the covers:

Penny

I'm resisting the urge to post pictures every day of a new crocus bloom or a new blade of grass or buds on one of the new trees I planted last year or some of the seeds I started indoors last weekend already germinating... Well, I probably will post some of those pictures. I can't help it, it's so nice to be outside and see what's growing. 

Wednesday

[gardening] First crocus bloom

So far so good:

First crocus bloom. Stinky deer repellant spray seems to keep the woodchuck away.

Looks like lovely dew on the flower but it's stinky deer repellent that seems to be keeping the woodchuck away. It smells like garlic and rotten eggs and butt. I made the mistake of standing downwind when I was spraying one area. 

Most of the snow is gone- the flower beds are reappearing and in dire need of tidying. I'm daydreaming of all the new perennials I want to add this year. 

Tuesday

[crochet] Moroccan Midnight

I started a new filler project last week:

Moroccan Midnight

It will be a long infinity scarf. I have some skeins of Cascade Yarns' Casablanca which has long color repeats like Noro. I was thinking about something mitered but the color lengths are so long, the squares would end up being quite large. I found a pattern called Moroccan Midnight, which I felt apropos given the name of the yarn.

The pattern was a bit of a struggle. I had to watch several videos on how to do the Moroccan Tile Stitch. The yarn combo looks nice but the cone of brown tweed I'm using is a bit rough and thin- I'm hoping it's spinning oil from the mill and that the yarn will bloom when I wash it.

Anyway, I'll get back to it once I finish the most recent pair of Sock Madness socks.

Monday

[vermont] Officially over winter

I've been pretty chill this winter- enjoying it and not complaining about the horrible sustained frigid temperatures. But after yesterday, I want the snow to go. It was over 60 degrees yesterday! And sunny! And over 60 degrees! It's so nice to just sit outside again. Even when it still looks like this in the front yard:

Front yard

And like this in the back yard:

Backyard

I wanted to get some last pictures of the snow before it's all gone. It's going to be pretty warm this week and I hope it all melts.

I started poking around the gardens, to see what's reappearing. The sempervivium in the rock garden are showing through the remaining ice:

Sempervivium

Sempervivium

And crocuses are starting to poke up on the lawn:

Crocuses

I was so pleased to see many new shoots appearing. Last spring they were eaten by one of the woodchucks so they never bloomed. As soon as I saw these, I went around spraying them with stinky deer/rabbit repellent. Who knows if it will work on the woodchuck I've seen this year. I've scared him off a couple times already but he's already eaten some of my young lavender shrubs.

Finally, a swarm of Canadian Geese flew due north over the house:

Canadian Geese

I'm finally ready to call winter over-with. 

Friday

[crochet] Sophie's Universe: Two

Welllllll, the crocheted blanket has entered the realm of 1970's fugly:

Sophies Universe

My color palette is limited and I'm only using single-ply worsted-weight yarns from my stash. So far, this is only through Round 3. I'll get back to this project after I finish the Sock Madness socks I'm working on.

Thursday

[vermont] Winter Forever

Winter forever. At least I can still do donuts in my backyard.


One last (I hope) snow storm and spin on the snowmobile around the backyard before temps really rise this weekend and early next week. I'm ready for the snow to go. I want to start seeing green things.

Tuesday

[cooking] Crackers

Last night I took a King Arthur Flour class with my mom and sister. The classroom:

Cracker Class at King Arthur Flour

I love Cheez-Its and I was so happy we got to make better, homemade, spicy cheese crackers.

Cracker class at @kingarthurflour last night. We made spicy cheddar and flax seed crackers.

These crackers were the bomb. We also made crispy flax seed crackers that were very good. I'm ready to make more crackers at home. It seems easy to bring a large amount of dough together in a mixer and then portion it out and freeze. Then defrost/roll/bake for instant crackers whenever.

I am signed up for one more class next month: Bagels and Bialys. Can't wait- these classes are so good. 

Monday

[knitting] Char

Annnd another handspun pompom hat.

Handspun PomPom Hat


Fiber is from August 2010 Pigeonroof Studio club delivery. Corriedale in "Char" colorway.

Char

And the original fiber:

Fiber Club from Pigeonroof Studios

Specs for the next round of Sock Madness have been released, so I'm sure that's all I will be working on for a while...

Friday

[crochet] Sophie's Universe: One

Started a new project:

Sophie's Universe Crochet-along


Pattern is Sophie's Universe. The above picture show all the rounds for Part 1 (and the first round of Part 2). I can't even describe how well written the pattern is- with step-by-step photo tutorials, links on how to do specific stitches, photos of different color combinations. And it's all free! 

I'm using mystery/leftover single-ply leftovers. I'm hoping to complete it through Part 4 to finish with a small, square blanket for the cats. But who knows- I might have to keep going. Or start another for me.

Thursday

[knitting] Mostaza Hat

And my filler-knitting hat is complete:

Handspun Hat

Love love love this hat. Cast on 96, k2p2 for eight inches, switch to stockinette for five inches, decrease rapidly, add pompom. I used every inch of the original skein to make this hat. Every inch. That never happens. The deep fold-over brim and the pompom ate up lots of yarn. 

I'm so pleased with the hat- the fit is great- I've cast on for another with more handspun.

Wednesday

[misc] Penny Wednesday

When my sister was over this past weekend, she said, "Penny's eyebrow whiskers are funny." I asked what was so funny about them and she said, "She has two that stick straight up."

Penny has two eyebrow whiskers that stick straight up. �� #catsofinstagram #antennas #catbug

Well huh. I never noticed before but it's the only thing I can see when I look at her now. I mentioned it to Dollar later and he was like, "What?" He never noticed either but now refers to them as her 'devil horns'. 

Untitled


Tuesday

[knitting] Cable Madness

Finished the first round socks for Sock Madness:

Cable Madness

Pattern: Cable Madness

Yarn: Gage Hill Crafts' Mystic, dyed naturally with jewel weed. Purchased at 2014 VT Sheep & Wool Festival.

Needles: US 1

Notes: I finished these around 9pm. I washed them, put them onto sock blockers and was going to wait for them to dry before taking pictures/submitting to Sock Madness the next day. I got into bed with iPad and started going through all the finished socks. Only so many people from each team get to move forward each round and I started to get a bit antsy. I'm on one of the slowest teams but started worrying that all the slots would fill up overnight. So I went downstairs to take pictures and submit. Then I fell asleep as soon as my face hit the pillow.

Monday

[vermont] Maple Open House Weekend

Went to visit Johnson Family Sugarhouse and their brand new facilities in Chelsea, VT this past weekend with my sister. It's only a couple towns north of my house. Unfortunately they weren't boiling but we got to see their massive equipment.

The wood fired boiler:


Boiler

If I remember, I think they can produce two barrels of syrup a day, or 600 gallons. That sounds like so much but they have help from this:

Reverse Osmosis Machine

A reverse osmosis machine that is easily 4 times the size of the first one I saw two years ago. You use it to take out most of the water from the sap and you boil what remains- it's faster and saves so much fuel, which is especially important when your fuel is wood.

I wasn't sure how the sugaring season has been so far and the answer is- it hasn't really started yet. So far this spring, we've only had a handful of nice, warm days. Ideal sugaring weather is 20F at night and > 40F during the day- that's ideal for sap to run. We're just not there yet. The season could still be good or over in the blink of an eye.

Before leaving, we were invited to stop by whenever we happen to be by and see steam coming out the chimney- that means they're boiling. Maybe I will. But just in case, I'll stock up on some syrup before leaving:

Liquid gold. Visited a sugar house today and sampled a shot of warm, fresh syrup. And replenished my maple reserves for home.

I'm pretty sure that's what my perfect pantry would look like, but I just bought a couple bottles. I'll be back for more.

Thursday

[vermont] Ruffed Grouse

Heading home this week I had to stop for this little fella strutting across the road:

Ruffed grouse

And I mean strutting. This ruffed grouse was taking his sweet time- stepping inch by inch- presumably to attract any female that might be watching. Not this female, though. I eventually grew impatient and started to crawl forward in the car. He took the hint and scooted right across the road onto the snow:

Ruffed grouse

Thank you! Good luck finding a female soon!

Wednesday

[knitting] Filler Knitting

Speaking of Nube, I went on a yarn-winding spree a few weeks ago and happened to grab my lone skein of Malabrigo Nube handspun. I started a basic 2x2 ribbed hat while waiting for the Sock Madness pattern to be released:

Handspun ribbed hat

I'll get back to it once the socks are finished but it is working up to be such a soft hat. 

Tuesday

[knitting] Cable Madness

Last Friday night the pattern for the first round of Sock Madness was released. I spent much of Friday night and Saturday knitting:

Working on a new pair of socks. #sm9 #sockmadness9

I want to do the 2nd sock with the cables mirrored but I don't know how to print mirrored pages on my home printer. I went to Staples to see if the copy center there could do it. I handed the page with the chart to the guy behind the counter and asked. He said, "Well, let's see..." He read a bit, handed me back the paper and said, "Nope. Because of that text at the bottom." I read:

Cable Madness Socks (c) 2015 Karen J. Buhr
No part of this pattern or other material may be distributed without written permission of Karen J. Buhr. Pattern is for personal use only and is not for commercial use.

He then went on to say something about not reproducing it and something else about it being illegal to get another company (presumably... Staples?) involved. I blinked. Hard. I wanted to say, "Homie, do you know how much copy-wank I've read on Ravelry? AH KNOW MAH RIGHTS!" Partly because not much of that would make sense to him, partly because this guy was on an obvious power-trip and arguing would get me nowhere.

What he said didn't even jive with the copyright text, which was so confusing to me- I wanted one page, printed backwards. I said, "But... this is just for me." Without any further trouble, he took me over to a printer and printed out a single mirrored copy of the chart. I paid the 11 cents and walked out. What the ever-loving F? Truly, I understand the concern but I didn't ask for 20 copies so that I could sell them as bootlegs on the black-knitting-market. If I wanted to do that, I'd just walk up to a printer and make the copies.

I guess I'm just bitter that the copyright issue, which I haaaaaaate reading about on Ravelry, bled over for a moment into real life. I don't want any drama or trouble on a Sunday morning while I'm sleepily running errands.

Monday

[spinning] Pre-drafting Malabrigo Nube

I'm donating 4oz of Malabrigo Nube for an auction online. I loved all the colorways when I saw them and bought quite a few when they were first released. My first experience spinning with it wasn't great. It requires a lot of time pre-drafting and otherwise preparing the fiber for actual spinning. Once it's prepared properly, the fiber is really quite nice- so soft and great colors. Rather than sending someone a brick of compact fiber, especially if they're buying it in a fund-raising auction, I decided to spend the hours pre-drafting it into perfection.

The original small, dense braid:

Malabrigo Nube

Unbraided:

Malabrigo Nube unbraided

The next step was to split it into thin, manageable pieces. You know the fiber is nearly felted when it sounds like you're tearing apart bed linens when you split the fiber into strips. I wound the pieces into little nests:

Fiber divided, before predrafting

Penny always likes to help. The next part I don't have pictures of because it was literally hours of me just listening to movies on the couch while I worked each piece. Starting at one end, I would go down the length of fiber, pulling it open to open up all the fiber. Then I would go down the length and pre-draft every inch or so, just to make sure that they fibers could slide past one another. Then I wound the fluffy, airy (finally like a "cloud") fiber into a little parcel. Repeat (for what feels like) a hundred times.

In the end, all 4oz looks like:

Malabrigo nube

Ready to spin and it will spin like a dream. Because the strands are so thin, you wouldn't have to draft much or put much twist in to create a worsted weight yarn. Personally, I would spin this all as one very thin single ply and then chain ply.

Penny literally couldn't resist these soft bundles of merino. I had to package it all up in a plastic bag after the picture so that she would keep her paws off it all.

Malabrigo nube


Thank goodness I have one last braid of Nube for me. This is the right way to prepare it, even though it's totally tedious and takes forever and I kind of resent having to do it in the first place. When all was said and done and I look down at this:

Malabrigo nube

I had to debate internally: "I'm keeping it. No, I'll donate it. You haven't told them yet that you're donating it- they'll never know! I'm donating it. No, I'm keeping it. It's so nice. I'll donate it. I'll keep it. Donate! Keep! Donate! Keep!"

Seeing how nice this fiber turned out is good motivation to prepare the last braid of Nube for myself.

Friday

[knitting] Jewel-tone Rikke

Finished a Rikke hat:

Handspun Rikke Hat

The yarn is handspun fiber that I bought at Vermont Sheep and Wool and spun back in 2008. I love the vibrant colors- especially the highlighter yellow. I just noticed that I've been working with drab and natural colors for ages. Vibrant color is just what I need at the dreary end of winter. I think I'll start adding bright neon colored yarn to my stash.

Wait- it's the first day of spring! I feel more cheerful already.

Wednesday

[cooking] Sugar on Snow

Since it's sugaring season and since there's still snow on the ground- it's time for Sugar on Snow. I had a friend over who had never tried it- and it had been years since I've had it myself. 

The premise is simple: boil maple syrup to reduce it more. You boil syrup to 235 F or, if you don't have a fancy-pants candy thermometer, you can just boil it to the softball stage. Periodically drop a drop of the heating syrup into a glass of cold water and see if the syrup holds it shape. When it stays as a ball, it's ready.

Go outside and pack some pie plates, meatloaf or cake pans with snow and bring them inside. When the syrup is ready, drizzle/pour the hot syrup into the snow. It cools so rapidly that it becomes taffy.

Here's a warm spoonful:

Sugar on Snow

Turn it over and roll it around with your utensil- it solidifies but still remains a bit soft

Sugar on Snow

Jab it with your spoon or a fork and eat. It's cold and chewy. Sooooo good. This would be fun for a party- pack snow into pans and keep the syrup warm in a fondu pot. Some people eat pickles as a chaser, for a sweet and sour experience. I would prefer to pair this with sour cocktails or beer.

If there's any leftover syrup, you can stir-stir-stir-it-up into maple cream:

Maple Cream

It will turn light in color and thicken. You can pour it into a bowl and wait for it to harden. My leftovers here got hard and not really spreadable. That's fine- you can still eat it as is (that's maple candy) but next time I might stir in a bit of butter and cream to make a spread. 

Tuesday

[cooking] Pi Day

This past Saturday was 3/14, or "Pi Day". This year was extra-special because 3/14/15 isn't going to happen again for another 100 years. Most people make pies but I went a savory route and made a quiche:

Not a pie, but a spinach quiche for Pi Day. #piday #31415

Recipe was vaguely: make a single pie crust, blind bake it. Add swiss cheese, bacon and sautéed onion, sautéed spinach with all the moisture squeezed out. Pour whisked eggs and milk over the top. Bake for 30 min. 

I would make this every weekend if I didn't know how much butter was in the crust. (It's one stick.) 

Monday

[knitting] Alohomora

Finished the first Sock Madness socks in time to qualify for team placement:

Socks are done. #sm9 #sockmadness9


Pattern: Alohomora (rav link)

Yarn: Elann Devon (discontinued)- two 50gr balls.

Needles: US 1

Nice pattern, if tedious. The great part of Sock Madness is seeing HUNDREDS of versions of the same pattern. This pattern seems to err on the large side and when knit with solid (but dark) colors, these socks make a handsome pair for a man.

Thursday

[vermont] Spring?

Well, I think Spring is finally happening. Yesterday it was sunny and above 50 F. I decided to treat the cats with an open window for a few minutes.

Sharing an open window

The first open window of the year is the only thing that can bring Murderface and Santana face to face without bloodshed. 

Snow is melting fast. Dirt roads are turning into mud. Sap buckets are on trees. Yes, it is finally Spring.

Tuesday

[knitting] Sweater Socks

I managed one more pair of worsted weight socks for Dollar:

Sweater socks

The yarn is Spud & Chloe Sweater, a cotton/wool blend, which is why I'm calling them "sweater socks". Penny gives the pair her cat butt stamp of approval.

Monday

[misc] Penny Monday

Fast weekend- made even faster from losing an hour. I spent most of the weekend knitting:

Penny wants some socks


I'm actually quite close to the toes for both. I finished Season 3 of House of Cards and we had a Star Wars marathon and watched the first three movies. We were in a Star Wars mood because our dining room table has been transformed into the Death Star:

The dining room table is now the Death Star. #x-wing #starwars

Dollar plays a miniature game called X-wing and all the ships are so awesome. So detailed and painted really well. I've tried playing and it's not really my thing. 

I went out for a ride on the VAST trails on Sunday morning. I'm still waiting for the electric start to be repaired on mine but I was able to go out on an insured/registered snowmobile, to see how I like it. I LIKE IT. We rode for 23 miles.

First time out on the #VAST trails. 23 miles. So much fun.

There are so many trails around us- and we give VAST permission to go through our property. We rode to the house and up the driveway so that I could give Dollar a spin. I was like, "This is break, this is go, this kills the engine. And go." I can't believe you don't need a special license or training. 

Here's a picture from our driveway of Dollar on the trail:

Dollar on the snowmobile

The trail goes right by the house, so it's kind of obligatory for us to have a snowmobile. Snowmobiles. We need more snowmobiles.

Friday

[knitting] Fraternal... almost identical socks

Finished a pair of socks for Dollar:

Mismatched Green socks

Don't worry, Penny. I'll make you socks next.

So these socks... are different. One wintery evening, in poor indoor light, I pulled leftover superwash worsted weight from my stash. I've knit Dollar many pairs of socks over the years and it was time to use up odds and ends. Lo and behold, I had enough green to make a proper pair. 

It was hard to see the difference, right?

The yarn looks the same under certain light

In natural daylight, I was all "awwwwwwwwwwwshit".

But up close- they are different.

You can see the yarn in the back has blue in it. Whatever, at this point I'm just hoping they're the same yarn (Cascade 220 Superwash) so they wash/wear the same. Plus, as I use up odds and ends from the stash, the socks I make are going to look progressively crazier and crazier. At least each sock here is entirely one color.