[knitting] Crown

Finished my Mardis Gras crown this past weekend:


With some gold worsted weight yarn, I swatched on US 6 needles. I tried out bobbles of various sizes, different cables. All the cables were worked in an "O" fashion (with knit stitches in the middle) to create a nice little nest to glue a rhinestone into later. I also did a little purl diamond, for texture, but when the crown was done the spot kind of looked weird without a rhinestone, so I just glued one over it. See the pink rhinestone in the above picture.

This all started because I found a cardboard ring- 19 inches in circumference, 2 inches tall. I measured my swatch and my gauge was 5.5 stitches and 7 rows per inch. Doing the math to figure out how many to cast on and how many rows to knit was easy enough. The plan was to knit stockinette for the inside of the crown, do a couple rounds of purl for a turning edge and do the bobble/cable pattern for the outside of the crown. Then wrap the fabric around the cardboard ring, joining and binding off at the same time.

The crochet trim around the top is from 75 Exquisite Trims in Thread Crochet. I've already used this book twice- it's great. I was flipping through it looking for something "crown-ish" to flourish the top- and I found a trim of CROWNS. So I put crowns on my crown like a clown, yo.


You can't see because I was a little sneaky about not photographing it but the inside hem seriously starts to bias about halfway through the joining. This always happens to me and this is why I don't do many (or any) hemmed things. It gets puckered and unruly.

I've read a couple tips. One is to cast on 10% fewer stitches for the stockinette hem- because it will have a slightly smaller circumference than the outside. This will solve the puckering. I suppose the same effect could be achieved by working the inside hem with a smaller needle- then you wouldn't need to remember about the shortage of interior stitches when you're joining later.

One other thing I've read to to work all the stockinette through the back loop to twist the stitches. It might be worth doing a couple headbands to try to work this out once and for all. Hmmm, yes.

Now that I've wrapped up this crown I can finish up a pair of house slippers. They're bulky and extend up the leg. I'm doing them in all white (because that's the only color of Thick and Quick I had) so I think I'll sew/embroider a design on them after all the knitting is done.


[embroidery] The Sun Sets on Sunbonnet Sue

I have a book of iron-on Sunbonnet Sue redwork embroidery patterns that I'd like to add to kitchen towels or placemats.

Sunbonnet Sue

I Googled a bit on the history of this stitch icon. Her little masked face has been around for a looooong time. She's a good little girl who does wholesome, quotidian tasks. Of course, when I see a scene of her with a tray of drinks, I want to stitch it but also caption it with "I got my drink n my 2 step" or some other lyrics about getting yo drank on.

Ha ha ha, I think. Surely I'm the first person to ever think of mixing a little topical humor with this traditional motif.

No. I found something that is so horribly awesome, so dark and funny, so dismal and ironic- I don't even want to execute my idea anymore because it will never be as good. I present The Sun Sets on Sunbonnet Sue.

I love this quilt so much. I want to fly to Michigan just to see this quilt in person.


Sue. Poor poor Sue. My favorite is Sunbonnet Sue-icide because the stitching on the white around the body gives the illusion of swinging. Genius!

Anyway, if you take offense- sorry for the gloomy material on a Friday (TGIF!) but I think it's a good example of feminism and commentary on the time.


[cooking] King Cake

I made my first King Cake this year.

King Cake

I've never had one but I've seen pictures online. The non-judgement side of me thinks they look festive and fun. The judgemental side of me thinks they look like a drunk 2nd grader's craft project. Like you threw a cake, frosting and sprinkles into a box and shook it up. Like you handed ingredients to a blindfolded person and instructed them to "do whatever". But I digress.

For some reason I got a bee in my bonnet about bringing a traditional king cake into work. I used this recipe, which made two cakes. The only thing I changed was to use vanilla Greek yogurt instead of sour cream because that is what I had. Worked fine.

I bought a package of little plastic babies at the party store and remembered to roll one up inside each cake.

Plastic baby

Whoever gets the piece of cake with the baby in it is the King or Queen.

I found the baby in the cake we kept at home:

Found the baby

The cake is REALLY good and I can see making an annual tradition out of it. It's basically an uncut cinnamon roll log baked as a ring. It did kind of take up the whole evening- mix the dough, let it rise, shape it, let it rise, bake it, let it cool, decorate it. But the end result was worth it.


[crafts] Mardi Gras decorations

Working on a new wreath for the entryway:

Mardi Gras

I had an unfinished purple, gold, green deco-mesh wreath. I went to the party store and bought a few beads and feather masks. The little jester is a souvenir that a coworker brought home for me from New Orleans about, oh, 12 years ago. It has been in my office ever since but I thought it would add authenticity to the Mardi Gras theme.

Still working on a knit crown. I baked a couple New Orleans King Cakes last night- and brought one into work. There really isn't a way to decorate a King Cake without the result looking like you were drunk and blindfolded. I've accepted it. I think for next Tuesday, I might try to make an French
galette des rois.


[knitting] Knitting and a crochet trim

I don't mix knitting and crochet enough:

Test swatch

Simple garter stitch with a boucle cotton. I added a crochet trim with cotton thread. So pretty.

I'm swatching for a Mardis Gras crown now. I'll knit the band and probably do the points of the crown in crochet. Gotta get it done before next Tuesday!


[vermont] Basketville

Took a quick little half-day trip with my sister on Saturday down to Basketville:


They do have a lot of baskets here. As far as I can tell, there's no rhyme or reason to the way things are priced here. You can pick up a nice basket, look at the price and say, "SIXTY dollars?!" You can pick up another nice basket, look at the price and say, "TWELVE dollars?!" May all the nice baskets you find fall into the second category.

I picked up some new yarn hiding storage baskets and some little things (woven cotton napkins perfect for x-stitch embellishment), a dollar-sign cookie cutter, a pumpkin/squash scooper/scraper.

Putney is my favorite day trip in the summertime. You have Basketville, Green Mountain Spinnery and Curtis' BBQ (open April - Oct) all within one mile of Exit 4


[misc] Santana Thursday

Santana looking so cute yesterday afternoon.


I started digging through all the pictures/paintings/posters that I want to hang around the house. I found these two, painted by Dollar's step-grandfather a looooong time ago. They are the same scene but a little different from one another:

Spot the difference

So I can do two things. Hang them in separate rooms and then perhaps observant visitors will say, "Wait- didn't I see that same painting in another room?" Or hang them together as a spot-the-difference game. I'm more inclined to do that latter, I think, because it's more engaging.


[knitting] Knitter's Pride Marblz

For Christmas, Dollar gave me a set of Knitter's Pride Marblz double-pointed needles. These needles are acrylic and each size is a different marbled color. I've already used the US 5 size for a couple different projects.

Marblz US 5

The tips are nice and pointy. They're light. The needles are a little flexible, which was a pleasant surprise. I like them very much. Plus, it's just so fun to work with crazy-colored needles.

Here's one of each size from the set: US 4 - US 9

Knitter's Pride Marblz

After using the US 5 a bit, you can see that the text is wearing off but that's where each size being a different color comes in handy. I do feel some squeakiness depending on the yarn I'm using or how tightly I'm knitting but I didn't experience any kind of drag. Stitches slide across the needles easily.

I'm in the market to upgrade my wooden single-pointed needles. I have all the sizes of Clover bamboos that are a decade old by now. Well-used but blunt. A set of wooden Knitter's Pride Dreamz are calling to me...


[cross-stitching] New for the bathroom

Finally finished and hanging in the downstairs half-bath:

New x-stitch for the bathroom

I've had this done for a while, I only needed to add the fly and dotted trail.

I charted this myself on graph paper, which you can probably tell. The words aren't centered (I added a couple flowers to fill up some of the empty space) and the A and V in 'have' shouldn't be so close together. I've gotta get some cross-stitch charting software. 


[misc] Penny Monday

Poor Penny went to the vet on Saturday for her annual exam and shots. I know she has a terrible time traveling but I always forget to either (a) give her a sedative, or (b) spray the carrier with Feliway ahead of time. We made it as far as the end of the driveway before I seriously considered turning around and giving up. It was an ordeal but we made it it down and back. On the way home, Penny looks completely delighted:

Penny coming home from the vet.

She's actually in the middle of freaking out- meowing and panting. (Those are treats next to her in the carrier, by the way. Not poops.)

I have to keep the carrier door open in the car- otherwise she picks and picks at the door and ventilation holes to the point of shredding her nails and bloodying her paws. It's easier to let her roam around the car, screaming at the top of her lungs.

Anyway, once we were back home (Penny had water from canned tuna and was back to normal) I showed Dollar one of the pictures of her. He asked for my phone and searched for a picture of the Fireys from the movie Labyrinth. He found one that looked so much like her, I had to do a split screen of them side-by-side.

Penny | Firey

Perfect. I guess Dollar was right- her face does look like one of the Fireys.


[cooking] Spatchcock chicken

Last night I tried a new method for roasting a whole chicken: spatchcock. This method is popular when grilling/smoking an entire chicken because it opens/flattens the bird and it cooks evenly. It wasn't too hard to prep- cut out the back bone and split a little cartilage node between the breasts.

Spatchcock chicken- before

I roasted my 3 - 4 lb bird for 50 min at 350. 

Spatchcock chicken- after

The meat was perfect and it was easier to carve into segments. The skin looks crispy but it was actually pretty floppy. My tried-and-true roast chicken recipe from Joy of Cooking has you preheat the oven to 450 and then drop it to 350 when you put in the chicken- and then roast for 20 min per lb. That's 1 hour and 20 min for a 4lb bird. The spatchcock method is faster but the skin wasn't as good.

So, I'll try this again but I think I'll preheat to 450 first, then drop it to 350 when I put in the chicken. Or roast the entire bird for a shorter amount of time at a higher temp. Perhaps 40 min at 400? That would be a treat to have a whole chicken done in 40 min after becoming accustomed to it taking nearly an hour and a half. But the skin's gotta be right. It's gotta be right. It's like making a pie and the crust being wrong. It ruins the whole thing. 


[crafts] White Deer

A white plastic deer head:

Deer bust

The plan here is to paint it teal and hang a cross-stitched piece under that says "TL; DR". Teal deer. Ahhh hahahahah, how whimsical.

But... I haven't charted out any of the letters yet. I received a lovely sack of yarn from Webs yesterday- which I hardly even touched. I can't do anything until I'm done watching Netflix's Making a Murderer. I just started watching a few days ago and I am completely obsessed with this documentary. Supper has been eggs over easy and toast for two nights. Usually I'm happy to knit on the couch while Dollar plays Fallout next to me- but I've resorted to plugging earbuds into my iPad and continuing to watch the show while I ignore him and the cats. Everyone in the house will be relieved when I finish all the episodes. Hopefully tonight. 


[crafts] Seashell curio tray #2

I made a seashell curio tray as a gift last year. I liked how it turned out so much, I wanted to make another for me. (I'm trying to simultaneously work on non-knitting crafts because all the knitting I'm doing is super secret.) I dumped out all my shells:

Sifting through shells

After much picking/sorting/separating/fiddling, I had a layout that I liked:

Shell curio tray

Just have to hot glue everything down and then it's ready to hang. We've got so, so, so many pictures and items to hang on the walls- I think we're going to have a "hanging party" soon. But we might have to call it something else or at least preface it with "picture-".


[knitting] Slater Mill 8th Annual Knitting Weekend

Back from a nice, long weekend in Pawtucket, RI to hangout with a friend and attend Slater Mill's Knitting Weekend. Not many pictures from the weekend but it was great. Met some great instructors and fellow students. I loved both my classes. Saturday morning was Design 101 with Julia Farwell-Clay. Sunday was Tips and Tricks with Ellen Mason. Here's my swatch from the design class:


The original idea was to make a tessellation(ish) design that nested white rabbits with orange foxes. You can see on upper left-hand side of the graph paper- I kind of got it to work vertically but couldn't sort out how to stagger the motif and repeat the column. For the sake of time, I just knit a couple rows of fox heads. The idea is worth going back to someday.

Sunday's Tips and Tricks was great. We all received a print out of 50+ tips and everyone in the class had something to contribute. A couple days ago I posted how I make cord for my drawstring bags- there was a great tip on how to use a ball winder to quickly introduce twist into a strand of yarn. I was all AAGGGHHH MY MIND- IT IS BLOWN.

The Mill was fantastic- everyone working there was so friendly and knowledgeable and really invested in the historic site. The event was well organized- wine and cheese reception Friday night, catered lunch Saturday, mid-morning coffee/pastries break. The marketplace had great vendors- I did pick up a few things. And the Berroco swag bag that the students received had a couple skeins of Fiora yarn and a lovely (LOVELY) laser-etched gold ornament of Slater Mill. 

I hung out with my friend and her new puppy. Ate some good food. Watched the Patriots win on Saturday. Came back on Sunday and still had a day off on Monday. Best weekend in a long time. 


[knitting] Ball winding

Having a ball winding party. I got a sack of nearly 50 skeins of yarn this past fall from Craigslist. The yarn is a discontinued cotton/llama blend from Plymouth Yarns. I wound 8 skeins for a project using my usual ball winder.

Winding lots of new yarn.

Then I took out my massive ball winder to handle three 8oz skeins of a bulky boucle cotton. You can see how much larger it is than my regular blue one.

Two ball winders


Winding yarn

After all three skeins (1.5 lbs of yarn!) have been wound. Penny inspects my work.

Natural boucle cotton

I knit little swatches and machine washed/dried all the newly wound yarn, to make sure that it would work for the projects that I have in mind. 

I don't use the extra-larger winder much and it was pricey but I'm glad to have it. It's used rarely- and once I do bring it out, I'm so temped to wind every single skein I have larger than 4 oz- but it's worth it for time saved. I can wind 8oz in 5 minutes, rather than winding a ball by hand, which would be at least 30 min (to an hour- because tangles, they happen).

I'm traveling to Pawtucket, RI this weekend for a knitting retreat at Slater Mill. Looking forward to the classes and some (light... I hope) shopping. I come back on Sunday and since Monday is a fed holiday, I still get to have a bit of a weekend at home. I just need to sort out travel knitting and class supplies to bring.


[knitting] Niagara Drawstring Bag

Simple drawstring bag using all the leftover yarn from the Niagara Mittens:

Drawstring bag

The pattern is "Draw String Bag" by Meg Swansen and it's from the September 2005 issue of Vogue Knitting. I've been making this pattern since it was first printed. The article was more about a Turkish Cast-on technique (with pictures) that creates a seamless, two-sided fabric. I added the pattern page to Ravelry and literally half of the projects are by me. I love the pattern and it's perfect for using up leftover yarn.

This bag is larger than most I've made in the past- about 6 in x 6 in. It is 80 stitches around. For the string cords, I usually cut a long length of yarn (twice the length I want it to be) and put one end under a table leg to hold it down. Then, holding the other end, I roll it (across my pant leg or across the seat/back of a couch) in the same direction as the twist. When it's reeeeeealy taut, I put my finger at the midway point and then bring the ends together. The yarn wraps around itself and I just run my hand down the length of the cord a couple times to smooth it out. Then I knot the loose end. If I'm making two cords (for the drawstring bags) I count the number of rolls that I did for the first cord and do the same for the second.


[knitting] Karisma socks

Three new pairs of socks for Dollar:

three handknit socks

All were knit with Drops Karisma Superwash. I placed an order at NordicMart last year, during Sock Madness, to try out some new sock yarns.

I usually knit Dollar's socks with superwash worsted yarn but these socks knit up just as fast. I knit continental style with DPNS and the socks just seemed to finish themselves.

The yarn was good- I used under three balls per pair and the yarn is so ridiculously cheap, all three pairs were only about $26 total in material. I encountered no knots. 10/10; would order again.


[misc] Murderface Monday

Had some fun with a stuffed tiger that a niece accidentally left at our house. I put the tiger at the top of the stairs and waited for the cats to approach. Santana wouldn't come up- she just sat and glowered at it. Murderface was a little more brave:

Murderface inspects the tiger
"Hello, Sir. Sir? Hello?"

Not sure if friend or foe
"Santana, you dummy! It's not real! You can come up!"

MF and the tiger
"Hmmm, I have an idea..."

Two tigers
"Grrrr- I changed my mind. You can't come up. Stay down there or else!

It was a quality stuffed animal. I so wanted to keep it but alas, we had to return it. We brought it to her in one of our cat carriers. It was so cute.

I'm going to have to start taking pictures of things other than knitting/crochet. I think I'm knitting myself into rotator cuff tendonitis (can you get that from knitting?) so I should probably slow down. Or at least take more breaks and stretch more.


[knitting] Antler Cat Hat

A quick little holiday hat for the cats:

Penny in her reindeer hat

I know Penny looks terrifically unhappy in that picture but I promise that she only wears the hats that I make for a couple minutes and she purrs the whole time. This is yet another pattern from the Cats in Hats book. The antlers are simply i-cord knit over a pipe cleaner. They're a little wobbly- my only recommendation would be to start the base of the antler a little larger so that it can be sewed down more securely.


[crochet] Black Bear Bottlecap Body Bag

This is probably my most favorite gift that I made for Christmas:

bear bottlecap opener and pouch

I bought the iron bear head in Quebec City last summer- it's meant to be mounted on a wall and you pop open your bottle in the bear's mouth. I decided to make an empty sack that you can hang under it, to catch the caps. 

I crocheted, from the bottom up, an empty "body" and made a button hole at the back of the neck. When you mount the iron head, there's a button tab to secure under the head. Then you button the body on and once the body is full of caps, you simply unbutton and dump all the caps into the trash. 

I tried to make cute little arms and legs- but I was running out of yarn and ended up adding what looks like flippers rather than proper limbs. Oh well, it's still adorable. And functional!


[knitting] Niagara Mittens

A new pair of long mittens that fit me like a glove mitten:

Niagara Mittens

I was going to make a simple pair of arm warmers (just 40 stitch stockinette tubes) but changed my mind and decided on mittens once I was four or five inches in. Hence the loooong cuffs.

The yarn is my handspun. I purchased the fiber at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario a couple years ago:


And spun it into two chain-plied skeins:

Handspun yarn

I had enough yarn leftover to knit a quick little drawstring pouch- need to do a little finishing on that before taking a picture.

For Christmas I received a set of acrylic Knitter's Pride Marblz double-pointed needles and made these mittens on the US 5 set. I've never knit with acrylic needles before and I really, really like these needles. Smooth, pointy and slightly flexible- easy to work with. And the needles are so pretty. I think I need to take pictures and do a post on them.


[knitting] 100 mitered squares of disappointment

After all my holiday knitting was done, I finished up the mitered infinity scarf that I started in early December.

One side:

mitered cowl

The other side:

mitered cowl

What the shit. The colors are so irregular- this is supposed to be one colorway.

The original fiber was 8oz of corriedale pencil roving from Crown Mountain Farm in 'Dance of the Dervish':

Crown Mountain Farms

I spun it as a heavy fingering-weight single ply:

Handspun - single ply

Handspun - single ply

Obviously daytime/nighttime, natural light vs. artificial light will affect how the colors look in the pictures but it doesn't really explain why half of the yarn is literally a different colorway from the other half.

It started out with nice deep eggplant and orange but it eventually just turned to a washed out purple and greenish-yellow. With a random square here and there of all orange or brown. This is really disappointing and weird and ugly. I'm just going to be real and say it's a shitty dye job. There was no way to tell it would turn out like this while it was still in the skein. If I had known, I would have made this yarn a two-ply to blend things up.

I'll still use the cowl for myself- it's warm and plush- but I would not give it as a gift or enter it into the fair. It just looks so... junky.

It also makes me a little worried for another 8 oz of single ply from Crown Mountain Farm that I have in the stash:


I guess I won't be doing mitered squares with it.


[misc] Murderface Monday

Morning Murderface

Back to work after two entire weeks off. It was so nice. The first week was spent knitting Christmas gifts non-stop but it was still relaxing to get up, make some coffee and work on projects with the cats chilling around me.

We went to the movies to see Star Wars (twice!), I finally took care of all registration stuff for the snowmobiles (ready to hit the VAST trails), knit knit knit my little heart out... We just chilled and did whatever we wanted all day. It was awesome. 

I think the cats were happy to see us go this morning, so they can get back to their sleep-all-day routine.


[crochet] Sophie's Universe: Part 8

The Sophie's Universe afghan through part 8.

Sophie's Universe

Started introducing some super bright colors and I'm not sure how I feel about it. I did get a lot more yarn in Ravelry trades and now that I have so many more options, I don't know what colors to do next. Take it back to neutral colors? Keep on with the brights? I don't know, I don't know.

I will get back to this during my vacation- right now I'm frantically knitting things for gifts. 


[misc] Oh Christmas Tree

Went out last Saturday to get a Christmas tree. It was sunny and 55 degrees.

Christmas tree shopping

I found a nice little tree for $45. I always want to barter but I'm not sure how to do it. "Hm, I'm interested in this one but... I don't know, the bottom is kind of messed up. Tell you what- I'll give you $40." I really only wanted to pay $40 was I was too worried about insulting them. So I didn't say anything and paid $45. 

At home, in the stand:

Tree up, ready to decorate

And after all the decorating:

Tree decorated

The cats aren't too interested in it- Rocky has been messing with it more. He's knocked down a low-hanging ornament and nibbled a bit on it here and there. This is out first Christmas with the rabbit and as I saw him chewing, I thought, "Yeeeaahh I should probably Google whether or not fir trees are lethal to bunnies." Turns out they're fine as long as they haven't been sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals. 

Time to start wrapping gifts to put under the tree. I guess I need to start making them, then.