Monday

[games] The frustrations of two-player Catan

The weather was poor all weekend so Dollar and I stayed in and played Settlers. We've been playing this variant because it allows us to include the Seafarers expansion. We tried Intimate Settlers a couple times but found that we liked the one-small-island-and-discover version better than two-home-bases one.

Most of our games ended up looking something like:


Final Score- Dollar 20, Amy 10.


Dollar won all but one of the games. I think it's because it takes FIVE MINUTES for him to complete his turn. My turn goes like: "I want to build a road, I discover a tile, it's water, of course it is, sigh, I'm all done." His turns went like, "Oh look, I rolled a seven. I'll put the robber on one of your tiles, steal a card from you, and now I want to... build... a... Hmm... ... ... ... ... Sigh... ... Do I want to build a ship or a road? Hmm... [tap tap TAPPING his foot on the floor] Hm... I- Hmm..."

AAGGHH!!! I understand he’s THINKING of what he wants to do but come on! I was able to knit a small bag, finish a washcloth and start another washcloth DURING HIS TURNS ONLY while we played. Here's one of the small bags in use:



Here are the two I made:



The one on the left used almost a whole ball of Knit Picks Ambrosia (in Lavender). It's about 5 x 7 inches and sooooo soft (and maybe a little on the "girly" side). I knit the I-cord using the Embellish-Knit machine from JoAnn. The little device has gotten some pretty crappy reviews but I think it works just fine. It could have taken me an hour to knit all that I-Cord but the crank-turning device got it done for me in three minutes. No, you can't use bulky yarn with it (or even worsted weight). Yes, the directions are a little unclear and you need to make sure the hooks are doing their hooking thing properly, but after that it is smooth sailing. I swear.

The smaller bag on the right (about 4 x 5 inches) used a negligible amount of Lion Brand Wool Ease. We've been using it for blindly picking out a numbered disk when a new land hexagon has been discovered. The next bag I knit needs to be big enough to hold all the undiscovered hex tiles. We used a hat at first (couldn't mix them up enough), then a brown paper bag (you could shake/mix them up but the bag started to look way ghetto after just a couple games), and currently a small-ish canvas tote bag. The tote bag is working out all right, but it's a little too long. Another knit bag may be in order but I've got so much Christmas knitting to do that I'm starting to freak out.

Oh, and once I figure out how to knit hexagons, I thought it would be totally cool to knit a Settlers bag (yellow for wheat, dark green for forest, etc). Anyone know where I can get a plain hexagon pattern? I know Knitting Nature is full of them but...

Friday

[games] Carnage Con

This year's theme for Carnage Con is "Carnage 9 From Outer Space".

I have a vintage Plan 9 From Outer Space poster in my living room because I'm collecting vintage movie posters. Dollar saw it and said, "You know that's supposed to be the WORST movie ever made?" So I rented it and it was SO bad that I couldn't even finish watching it. Suffice it to say:

"Plan 9? Ah, yes. Plan 9 deals with the resurrection of the dead. Long distance electrodes shot into the pineal and pituitary gland of the recently dead."

So there are several zombie themed games at Carnage. Zombie board games, zombie role-playing games, zombie card games. I'm very excited. There will be tons to see and do. I'm excited to be trying out and seeing games that I've read about but haven't ever played.

I've been in a gaming frame of mind because I recently bought Settlers and have been playing a two-player variant with Dollar.

My knitting has even taken on a gaming theme- last night I knit a small drawstring bag (from this pattern) to hold game bits and pieces. What an awesome way to use left-over yarn in my stash! I'm going to make all kinds of sizes.

Wednesday

[knitting] Felting with Patons SWS

I got one ball of Patons SWS (70% wool, 30% soy) in Natural Earth when I went down to Michael's. I cast on an unknown number of stitches onto #13 circular needles and knit until the ball was gone. The plan was to felt it and then sew in a zipper.


Look at all the colors. The yarn was really nice and squishy. There was also a nice sheen from the soy.



Before felting, with Altoid tin for scale.




After felting. Shit man, where'd all the yarn go?




What's with the curl? Well, I did sew in a zipper by hand. I sewed one half in, then the other. But I think one side was pulled tighter or something. Anyway, the stupid thing curled.




I re-soaked the bag in tepid water and then pressed flat. It's (mostly) okay now. The only problem is the awkward shape. What am I going to keep in here, chopsticks? The bag is too short for drum sticks. It's not big enough around for all my double-pointed or single-point needles. My plan is just to let it sit around until its usefulness is revealed to me.

WARNING: If you're going to felt with this yarn, I recommend not leaving the washing machine's side. I usually go down to the basement to throw a sample or swatch in, go back upstairs to do the dishes or cook, then go down to check on it a little later, then back upstairs, etc etc. SWS FELTS EXTREMELY FAST. I probably would have pulled this out sooner, so it didn't end up so small.

UPDATE
Further proof you should check the washing machine every two minutes.

Monday

[knitting] Plum Sprinkles Progress

I started the heel flap (no short-row heels this time). I messed up a little. I'm slightly discouraged.

[knitting] We Call Them (Girly) Pirates



The hat is done. I knit up a lining, tacked it down, soaked it, blocked it. While it was a fun project to work on, I had issues.

Issue 1: Tacking down the lining stitches to the inside of the hat. This was tough because it was hard for me to keep track of rows on the inside of the hat, because of all the carried yarn. Does that make sense? I had to sew down one sitich into (almost) all of the purl bumps in a row but the rows are so hard to see, that my lining is uneven. You'll see what I mean.

Issue 2: It's about half-an-inch too short.

Modifications (on this hat): I knit 5 pattern repeats (I was using #2 needles) instead of 4. I used Knit Picks Palette in white and blush- which brings the cost of this hat to LESS THAN $3.98!!

Modifications (on the next hat): START with lining, knit up and tack down during hat knitting- this will ensure that the lining is all along the same row. Also, make longer.

That means I'm currently down to two unfinished projects: Plum Sprinkles and Starsky. I think about Starsky and I do want to work on it, but I just can't seem to get up the motivation.

Friday

[knitting] Plum Sprinkles

I'm calling the socks 'Plum Sprinkles' from now on. The colored nubbley bits remind me of the sprinkles/jimmys you get on ice cream. Here's my toe-up sock so far:



I was only able to knit three rows last night because I made two (TWO!) lasagnas- one to bake, one to freeze. I used no-cook lasagna sheets to save time but it still took three hours to prepare everything, assemble, bake and wash up. I know it'll be worth it a month or two from now, when I say, "I don't feel like cooking... I know! I'll just shove the frozen lasagna into the oven!"

Anyway, the sock. It's smooth stockinette sailing until the heel. I reckon I'll try out cosmicpluto's short-row heel tutorial.

I'm using five double-pointed needles at the moment (4 on on the sock, 1 to knit with). I think I'll move down to 4 needles (3 on the sock, 1 to knit with) until the heel, to see if the knitting goes faster. Knitting off 3 needles has got to go faster than knitting on 4, right?

The yarn itself is very nice to work with. The color bits keep it interesting and it feels squishier than Gloss. Here's a comparison of the two:

Essential TweedGloss
Knit PicksKnit Picks
65% Superwash Wool, 25% Nylon, 10% Donegal 70% Merino Wool, 30% Silk
231 yards/50 gram ball 220 yards/50 gram hank
7-8 sts=1" on #1-3 needles7-8 sts=1" on #1-3 needles
Machine washHand wash
$2.99$3.99


Cheaper, better yardage, machine washable AND it feels better? In the future I will choose Essential Tweed over Gloss for socks. (For socks. Gloss may be more suited toward Fair Isle mittens or a lace scarf.)

Thursday

[vermont] Vt. is named smartest state

Vermont is named the smartest state- for the sekond konsekutiv year!

[knitting] Socktoberfest progress

With Socktoberfest more than half over, I thought I should post any progress I've made on my goals...

1. Knit Picks Gloss in Cocoa --> Whitby
Done

2. Kool-Aid dye Knit Picks Bare Superwash/Nylon/Donegal
Haven't done this yet but it's no my fault! I need Orange but the grocery store hasn't re-stocked that flavor in months. I swear I look every time I'm there.

3. Knit Picks Essential Tweed in Plum --> Widdershins
I decided on a pattern and I started these yesterday. I've completed the toe and am plodding along on the foot.

4. Regia Silk in Burgundy --> ?
I'm so not going to get to this yarn this month.

5. Sock blockers? Make some out of wire hangers?
I did make a couple to go with #1 but they didn't come out looking the same. My new plan is to go to the Hartford Middle School, to the shop class, and ask them to cut me a pair. All I'll have to do is draw the silhouette on a piece of plywood, right?

6. Stockings
I don't know if this is going to happen.

7. Learn short row heels
Not there yet.

8. Learn toe-up socks
Yes. It's terribly awkward to start but the result (for me) was a nicely rounded toe. I used this method.

So my to-do list for the rest of the week is: dye the yarn, finish the plum socks, visit the middle school shop class.

Tuesday

[knitting] Links

Do you have an overweight, surly cat in need of humiliation? Knit him/her a muumuu.

Knit a felted pumpkin basket for your little trick-or-treater.

Lost your lace pattern in all that color variation? Re-dye the finished object.

This double-knit star scarf is really clever- the stars almost look quilted. I'd like to try it with big circles or squares.

Monday

[amy] How the haunted maze has permanently damaged me.

Friday the 13th. I wasn't planning on going anywhere after dark but I didn't feel like cooking so I decided to make a run to the pizza place. Dollar wasn't coming with me to pick it up because he got home late from work and just wanted to chill. Fine. I drove up into Hanover and saw crowds of people waiting for the bonfire to be lit. GREAT. Now there's going to be no parking. I drove down Main Street, took a left onto Lebanon Street and a right into the new-ish parking garage. I went down, down, down looking for an open spot. Finally I pulled into one of the many available Permit Only spaces because I was only going to be gone for 5 minutes. I got out of the car and shut my door, listening to the sound echo off the concrete walls.

Then nothing. There were lots of cars around but no people. This wouldn't have been so scary if NPR hadn't been discussing horror movies during the entire drive over. Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Nightmare on Elm Street, blood, gore, etc. I wanted the fastest way out of the garage so I made my way toward the stairwell. Just as the door heavily closed behind me, I thought I heard whispers. Suddenly feeling vulnerable in the stairwell (and wishing I had a can of mace), I exited at the next level. I try to find a door out of the garage spot one nearby. I push through and find myself outside but behind the garage in an alley with (easy to hind behind) dumpsters. Should I find my way to the street or go back inside? Street.

Around the corner of the building, I walk by various large construction objects (where it would be very easy to hide a body) and make it to the street, thankful to be alive. I calmly walk into the pizza shop and pay. Now how to get back to my car? The way out was convoluted and somewhat terrifying. I walk down a side street and enter the garage via an unused exit. I walk down some steps and my car should be here. ... It should be... Shouldn't it be here? No, well, maybe on the next level down. Walk walk walk. It should be... here! No. I guess it's on the next level. Walk walk walk. Is that- Is there someone behind me? Walkwalkwalkwalkwalk. Here! No. Where is it? I don't think I drive this far down. Nothing looks familiar! Someone's trying to kill me! I go running for the stairwell, ready to slice any assailant across the face with my pizza box and run up two flights of stairs.

Gasping, I throw open the door to Level Two and see my car. Getting my breath under control, I readjust the pizza box to a more horizontal level from it's vertical shield-like position, and walk towards my car. Not feeling quite safe yet, I sprint the last 10 feet, jump in, lock the doors, check the back seats and open trunk for anybody hiding. Safe. I start the car and drive home. I don't listen to NPR during the drive home.

Friday

[knitting] A pair of socks, a pair of hats

I finally took a couple pictures of Dollar's green socks:

 

I love seeing these on his feet. Every time I see him in these, it's like he just brought home a bouquet of flowers for me. And my involvement with these socks is over (until mending is needed)- he washes and wears them on his own. I really like that these socks can be machine washed and dried. The 2x2 rib around the leg is a little too loose, so the next pair will have a 1x1 rib. I used less that two balls of Lion Brand Wool Ease worsted weight. (The socks are on my smaller feet in the 2nd picture. It was too early in the morning for me to wake him up and say, "Hey put these on, I gotta take a picture.")



I topped the pumpkin hat with a corkscrew vine and leaf (both from Knitting on the Edge):

 

I wore this to the haunted maze and got a compliment on it from a high-schooler. She was part of one of those moving packs of adolescent girls. She timidly said to me, "I like your hat," and started mad giggling. Then her friends were like, "Shelly, ohmigawd, like I can't even believe you said that." More mad giggling. Then I was all like, "Thank you." And then they were all like, ignoring me all of a sudden. And I was all like, what-evers.



I'm approaching the finish line for We Call them (Girly) Pirates:


This has been my 2nd Fair Isle project. It was very difficult for me in the beginning, holding two colors of yarn at the same time. Picking with one, throwing with the other. I kept twisting my stitches the wrong way. I didn't really feel comfortable until I completed 40% of the hat. I'm working up the lining now. After I tack that down and block the whole thing, I see how it looks and decide what changes need to be made for Dollar's manly grey/black version.

Tuesday

[amy] Happy Birthd-AAAGGH!

It was a good birthday. Dollar and I got up late on Friday, went for breakfast at Lou's diner in Hanover and then walked up Gile Mountain:



 


 




Afterwards, we went to a bookstore in Enfield, home to chill and have some supper, then drive all the way up to Danville for the Spooky Maze.

The maze was spooky and scream inducing. But it was packed. The line was long (about an hour's wait) to get in, but the nice thing is that they only let one group in at a time (whether your group numbers eight people or just two). Lots of camoflaged ghouls and demons racing down the path at you, jumping out from the corn stalks, waving real chainsaws around in strobe lights.

The fear I felt wasn't so much "I've been kidnapped and now I'm locked in a basement- I think I'm gonna die" real fear. It was more about being startled. You're tense as you're walking, you're waiting for it, you know something must be close at- AAAGGHH! Like that.

Dollar could spot nearly all of the people hiding. He jumped twice, I think. I don't know how he could see them but he would alert me by vaguely saying, "There's one up here." I would frantically start looking around, feeling the panic rise, then jump out of my skin when they STILL scared me. At one point he said, "Here. Here's one." He pulled me to one side of the path and pointed at something down in the stalks. "Right here," he said, holding the tip of his index finger a mere three inches away from a shadowy scull face. The scull face wasn't moving, so I bent forward to get a closer look. I said, "Are you sure? It's not mov- AAGHHH!!!" That's when the person jumped at me. Hoo boy, lots of fun. My nerves were shot by the time we made it out alive.

What I found interesting was that after doing this for so many years, the people who do the scaring really know how and WHO to scare. Even if you spot them and say, "Ha ha ha, I see you," the ghoul won't say, "Aw shucks, you got me." They will stay perfectly still and wait for the right time to get you. Oh, they're good. And my method of self-defense (looking the other way in a "La la la, I can't see you" manner) didn't work. I think the fact that I smiled nervously and looked away made a more obvious target of me.

Anyway, good times. After it was over, people kind of milled around an open area in an apprehensive daze, waiting for the wagon to bring them back to the parking lot. A guy waiting right at the maze exit says, "Thank you for coming folks but there's just one thing left- Walk through there." He points at a wooden door. Yeah right, you think. He assures you that it's not scary. Pppfftt, yeah right, you think. No no, just walk through, he says. Well... all right. Once inside, you see that you're standing inside a calming, slowly spinning, vertigo inducing, star-kaleidoscope thing. Somehow is eases the residual tension away.

Highly recommended. The only downside was the long wait. Our ticket was for 9 pm and we probably didn't get in until 10 pm. Maybe the earlier ones aren't as crowded?

Thursday

[knitting] Karaoke Fingerless Gloves


Finished!


I made 80% of one following the pattern exactly and realized I wouldn't have enough for another. I ripped it, which wasn't nearly as tragic as I thought it would be. It's a small project.

I started over. Basically, wherever the pattern said 3 (i.e. 3 more times; for 3 twists), I changed it to 2.

The tops of my thumbs were finished with a couple rounds of moss-stitch. This is because of the odd number of stitches: 15. The pattern says "Pick up 12 stitches and 3 along the hole at the top of the thumb." So this would make 15 stitches, right? 12... plus 3... yeah, 15. So why does the pattern say to finish with 3 rounds of 1x1 rib? You need an even number for that. [sigh] Hence the moss-stitch (knit the purls, purl the knits). Which looks fine because the texture is reminiscint of the twists at the top of the glove.

It's all about being able to adapt.

Speaking of which, the increases for the thumb gussets left insightly holes, which I closed up using a whip stitch from the tail leftover from doing the thumb tops. This gives the pauper-esque gloves a Frankenstein quality.

Anyway, the gloves are a little shorter but they fit like a... They fit perfectly. They currently live in my work bag and I pull them on ever I get chilly fingers at my keyboard. Which doesn't really ease the chilly fingers because these gloves are fingerless. But they're so pretty, I guess that's what warms me up.

Tuesday

[knitting] Socks: The evolution


First sock (never knit it's mate- so sad): Basic pair from Socks Soar on Two Circulars



First PAIR of socks
Basic pair from Socks Soar on Two Circulars



My Second Pair
Creeping Vines from Townsend Socks Knitalong (Yahoo Group)


My third pair: Plain pair from Hand Book of Knitting Patterns
Dollar's socks. Will take a (mis-colored (DAMN THIS CAMERA) picture) soon.

Fourth pair: Whitby from On the Road
To be revealed soon. But they are done

Socktoberfest Questions

* When did you start making socks? Did you teach yourself or were you taught by a friend or relative? or in a class?
Christmas 2004. Taught myself (through much trail and error).

* What was your first pair? How have they "held up" over time?
I do wear my blue stripey and green lacey ones- whenever my feet are super chilly. They've held up fine, although I can't say I've washed them all that much (really, they're only on my feet for a few hours at a time). The nice thing about hand-knitted wool socks is that they don't stink. Ever. Really. They just smell like wool.

* What would you have done differently?
Nothing. Any errors I made I fixed. I first learned the Kitchener Stitch when grafting a toe closed. Actually, maybe I would have liked to have started out on something like "comfy house socks" or something on #5 needles. Starting on #2 was kind of tedious, after knitting everything else I made (scarves, hats) on beginner's #13 needles. You know what I mean? All knitters I know start out with #13 needles and super bulky yarn, because all the stitches are big and easy to see and projects knit up fast. There should be "beginner's socks".

* What yarns have you particularly enjoyed?
I liked the automatic thick stripes of my blue ones. Knit Picks Gloss has been nice. I haven't knit with anything too fine yet.

* Do you like to crochet your socks? or knit them on DPNs, 2 circulars, or using the Magic Loop method?
Used 2 circulars in the beginning but after recently doing two separately on douple-pointed needles, I think I prefer DPN's. It's more managable and portable. Easier to do the turning heel and gusset, too.

* Which kind of heel do you prefer? (flap? or short-row?)
Haven't tried short-row yet but I like the tailored look of the flap.

* How many pairs have you made?
4.5

[cooking] Blueberry Pie



Crust
2 cups sifted all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup + 2 tbsp. vegetable shortening
1/4 cup ice water
1 tablespoon corn starch

Filling
4 cups frozen blueberries (do not thaw)
1 cup sugar
Juice from one lemon
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Little melted butter

Preheat oven to 400 F.

In a bowl mix flour and salt, cut in shortening, mix; add water a little at a time and mix until all flour is moistened. Make a ball with the dough and place on a floured board. Divide in half. Roll out to an approximately 12" circle and place into a well-greased 9" pie plate, leaving an overhang. Dust with 1 tablespoon cornstarch.

In same bowl, dust blue berries with flour. Dust with corn starch. Mix in sugar and lemon juice, turn into pastry-lined pan. Roll out remaining half of dough and place over top of apple mixture. Fold edge on top pastry under edge of lower pastry and trim. Seal with fingertips. Cut steam vents, brush with butter.

Bake for 50 minutes, turn down heat to 370, bake for another 10-15 minutes, until the top is golden. Let cool completely before cutting.

Notes:

1. This pie was maybe a little too sweet. I'd recommend using only 1/2 cup of sugar but I haven't tried it yet so I can't vouch for the taste. I would have preferred this pie to be really tart. The idea of dusting the berries with crushed SweetTarts did cross my mind for one crazy second.

2. The flour dusting and extra long baking time were because I used frozen berries. The recipe would be different if you use fresh berries.

3. You've got to let the whole thing cool, for real, or else the filling will ooze out. I waited 3-4 hours and there was minimal ooze. The pie slice held it's shape and filling well. Nice "berries and cream" flavor when eaten with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Monday

[knitting] Stash enhancement

Saturday was a big shopping day. I drove an hour down to Keene, NH to hit all the craft and knitting stores. The first stop was Michaels.

[sigh] Michaels was awesome. So much better than Jo-Ann, although perhaps you can't compare the two because Jo-Ann is more about fabric. Michaels had so much wonderful stuff: aisles and aisles of beads, pictures, stamps, baskets, vases, yarn, etc etc. I was really only there to get Patons SWS. Everyone's been talking about it (and felting with it) and as far as I could tell, the only place to get it is at a Michaels craft store.

By the way, how do you say "Patons"? I always said "Pah-tons" (like cheerleaders twirling "bah-tons") but a woman at Michaels referred to the brand as "Pat'ns". Anyone?

When I first walked into the store, I looked for a flier to see what was on sale. I asked a clerk:

AMY: Excuse me, do you have any spare fliers I could have?

CLERK: For the coupon?

AMY: [pause] Yes.

CLERK: That's okay, I'll give you a coupon voucher at the register.

AMY: Oh thank you. [pause] And that's for...

CLERK: 40% off one regular priced item.

AMY: Okay, thank you.

Wheee, I love coupons. I ended up using it on The New Crewel by Katherine Shaughnessy. I'd like to get some plain window valences and do some crewel embroidery all along the bottom. Right now there are no, I repeat, no window decorations of any kind (other than blinds) in my home. Bo-ring.

At Michaels I got one ball of SWS in Natural Earth, one ball of Rumor in Hibiscus Heather and one ball of Lacette in Touch of Black.

SWS will probably be knit and felted down into a small cosmetics bag. It reminds me a lot of SWTC Karaoke.

Rumor is so big and soft and squishy, all I want to do is squeeze it and press it into my face. I don't think there's enough in this one ball for a hat, but I'll give it a try. If that doesn't work, I'm going to use it with like-colors to make a scarf.

Lacette is only so-so (it was an impulse purchase). It doesn't feel super great but I think I can make an elegant evening scarf with it. I'd like to knit it with beads to give it a little more weight/drape, since it's really quite light and airy.

But this was only the beginning of my stash enhancement...