[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.


[knitting] House slippers - before felting

I've been working on several pairs of house slippers to felt:


Pattern is from Knit 2 Together by Mel Clark and Tracy Ullman. I did a fugly pair back in 2008. They weren't even worn until last winter when I wanted something easy to slip in and out of on the cold floor. 

I wore holes into the soles I wore them so much. They were perfect. Soooo ugly but perfectly shaped to my feet and not bulky. So I sat down to paw through all my yarn scraps to make some more. I felted these three pairs last night and I think they might be given as Christmas gifts. We'll see how they look in a few days when they're dry. I can always make more- for me, for guests- since the stash overfloweth. This is a great project to quickly use up leftovers.


[misc] Santana Thursday

Packages are arriving, presents are being wrapped, kitties are curling up inside empty cardboard boxes:



[crochet] Elsa

Making an Elsa doll from the movie Frozen, as another Secret Santa gift for a niece:

Creepy start to a new crochet project.

Off to a creepy start.


[vermont] Winter Wonderland

Our house is just at the right elevation that we haven't lost any of the sticky snow that fell last Tue/Wed. The drive home along our dirt road looks like:


There were rumors of possible blue sky over the weekend. On Saturday, I saw some:

Only blue sky I've seen in days.

But that was basically all of it. Some sunlight came across the back yard:


Very pretty. We've got some rain forecast, so I'm not sure if everything is going to melt away or turn into a crystal ice wildness. We're probably in for more power outages in either case.


[crochet] Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Finished the TMNT in time to give them yesterday:

My citrus fruit are covered with TMNT. Better than fruit flies. #turtlepower

These were the only project I worked on for two solid weeks. I'm glad I did all four- they look great together.

Penny and TMNT

Pattern is free (rav link). Unfortunately, even using two full balls of Plymouth Galway Worsted in green for the bodies, I ran out of yarn for the feet. All the other yarn is already in my stash. And I had the safety eyes. I didn't need to buy anything- my favorite kind of project!

The next project is a crocheted doll from Frozen.

[misc] Penny Monday

Penny generously allowed me to sleep in for one extra hour on Sunday, but then...


...informed me that it was time to get up and feed her.

Saturday was a snowy snowed-in snowstorm day. I finished crocheting most of the turtle pieces- time to start sewing them together. Sunday was a cleaning day- I also picked up a nice, tall Christmas tree. It was still very closed/frozen from the weather on Saturday, so we put it into the tree stand and are waiting for the branches to drop. 


[knitting] Aran Afghan Block #10... interrupted

I started a new afghan block a couple weeks ago after I decided that I was sick and tired of making socks. I got halfway through:

aran afghan block

Then the holiday gift-making guilt-o-meter ratcheted up from "You've got plenty of time" to "You're never going to finish it all!!" Then I started the turtles. I'll get back to relaxing with pleasurable knits after Christmas.


[crochet] Turtle Pieces

Dollar and I are Secret Santa to one of his nephews this year. I asked what the boy is in to and his mom said "Ninja Turtles". Unsure whether or not this means the old school Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from the cartoons I grew up with or the freaky live-action ones from the recent movie, I decided to go with classic TMNT.

Debating whether or not these #tmnt need two arms apiece. Wouldn't it be more mutant if they only had one? #turtlepower

If I never see green yarn again, ugh. Why I decided to make all four, I don't know.

The first head and body I made are riddled with mistakes- the torso is inside out, unnecessary slipped stitches, lumpy filling, etc. The prototype is Donatello, though, and I reasoned, "He's the scientist of the group, so he wouldn't mind being the guinea pig. He would prefer it to be that way. I'm sure." 

I'm nearly done with the arms (which look like a cross between a pickle and green piece of poop), then on to the shells. And bellies. And all the accouterments like arm bands and knee bands and belts and... That might be it. I hope that's it.


[knitting] Vineyard Socks

Some handspun chain-plied yarn from back in the day:


Vineyard - Chain plied

Knit into plain socks:

Vineyard socks

Cast on 56 stitches, used US 3 needles, plain stockinette body. The only problem is that the two skeins of yarn that I made weren't exactly the same weight. These socks were knit identically, obviously, but one sock weights 49 grams and the other is 65 grams. Whoa. You can definitely feel the difference- one feels like a normal sock, the other feels like a heavy winter boot sock. Thankfully I only wear my handknit socks in bed and I can't tell the difference between they're actually on my feet.

They've very soft and warm. Lovely bed socks. This is just a good lesson for me to be much more precise with my spinning when I spin for socks.


[misc] Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Went to see a Trans-Siberian Orchestra show this past weekend. I'm glad this is becoming an annual thing- the music, lights, lasers, pyro- it's such a great show and totally puts your into the holiday spirit.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

I have so many pictures but I'll stop there. It's such a bright and fun and uplifting show. Highly recommend.


[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.