[knitting] Squirrely Swedish Mittens

Last week on my trip to DC, I decided to only bring one project with me: Squirrely Swedish Mittens. I am using Frog Tree 100% Alpaca Sport Weight and size US 2 needles. One down (sans thumb), one to go:

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I noticed that all the squirrels look fairly cute and innocent except for that one on the end. That guy looks evil... Enhance!

evil squirrel

Am I the only one that sees horns and a scowling expression?

I'm well into the 2nd mitten but I'm going to get back into the Yoke Pattern Jacket. Someone on Ravelry contacted me about some yarn in my stash- the Classic Elite Skye Tweed I'm using for Dollar's jacket. I'm going to spend the next few weeks trying to Wrap. It. Up. Then I'll know how many balls of yarn I've got left over to trade. Here's the last photo I took of the jacket...

Yoke Pattern Jacket


[knitting] Rangoli Steering Wheel Cover

Here's the Rangoli hat (tammified) in all it's huge glory:

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The pattern is pretty and hat is soft.

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Just not terribly wear-able.

And today I have bonus pictures of Murderface Catdog. He looks sweet but beware...

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[knitting] Raggi Socks

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Another pair of socks for Dollar.

Yarn: Jarbo Garn Raggi. I really liked this yarn- it's exactly the stuff I like to work with: worsted weight sock yarn with great yardage. I picked up the two balls at Patternworks in Center Harbor.

I'd be willing to use this yarn exclusively for socks from now on- it's not too expensive (although, $16 for a pair of socks does seem extravagant when I could knit a pair in Lion Brand Wool-Ease for $4), it's plush and the socks fit like a glove. For your feet. Which, I guess, is what socks technically are.

I have two balls Cascade 220 Superwash in a heathery evergreen for another pair of socks. And then I think that's it for all the worsted weight yarn for socks in my stash. I can't believe it. I'm trying so hard to stash bust but I know I'm going to crack and make an unnecessary trip to either Webs or Patternsworks.

By the way, my sister and I made a trip a couple weeks ago to Proctorsville (I had never been to that part of VT before) to visit Six Loose Ladies. This was a wonderful little shop with local yarns, some familiar and unfamiliar yarns. I had never seen the brand Ironstone Yarns before and I picked up a couple balls of Harmoney for a pair of quick, bulky mittens. There was a class going on in the back, the sales lady was super helpful, everyone was friendly and there were lots of fiber art pieces hanging on the walls. This was a great local yarn shop that you should visit if you happen to be in the area.


[travel] Washington DC - Better stick with beer

Long time, no blog. I spent last week in DC for work and had a nice time.

Almost every night started at RFD (which we constantly referred as "Beers of the World". Check out the beer list. And that doesn't include a double-sided page with 40 different bottles and 40 different drafts that change every month. I had a raspberry lambic that came in a small wine glass. Really, it was an oversized shot of beer. But nummy. I had an apple Belgian beer. Very good. Then a bottle of Lucifer. The next night I decided to stick with one beer: WEIHENSTEPHAN Hefe Weiss. The bar was crowded and I had to shout my order which came out as a very uncertain and incorrect "Weis-en-vise-en Heff-eh-vise-en!" Thank god the bartender could decipher what I was asking for.

We went to an upscale Mexican place for dinner one night. There were seven people in our party and we started by asking for three orders of guacamole for the table. The guacamole guy came out and prepared it at the table and it was very nice. I then looked back at the menu and told one of my co-workers, "Did you know that those three orders of guacamole cost thirty-six dollars?" Which I thought was highway robbery but whatever. I'm the cheapskate at the table who thinks that thirty-six dollars for guacamole is crazy and too much money to spend. The guacamole was good but not THAT good.

The next night we went to a mezze place and you know what? I didn't really like it. Everyone from my work that goes to DC a lot kept telling me to go to this place- go to this place! There were five of us and I think we ordered something like fourteen items to share. I think I only liked three. Which is disappointing because since we were all sharing everything, I got eleven bites of things I didn't really like and three bites of things I did. The sirloin was too chewy, the lamb didn't taste lamby, the chicken was dry, etc etc.

So with all this eating out and getting ripped off, it was really nice to come back home and cook something simple.


[knitting] Gauge-shmage

I started a new hat pattern for me: the Rangoli hat with two balls of super fuzzy Bernat alpaca. This project has been a trial. The yarn is nice and soft but terribly sheddy. Seriously, it looks like a rabbit exploded all over my stomach and lap whenever I put this project aside.

My biggest problem is that the hat is turning out to be an over-over-oversized rasta cap. I didn't like how the pattern created something that wasn't quite a hat, wasn't quite a tam, so I decided to tamify the pattern. And I'm knitting it with bulky yarn, rather than sport-weight.

I would periodically try on the tam while knitting and look at Dollar. He said things like, "Hey mon," and "We be jammin'?" And it grew. It grew and grew and grew. I tried to pass it off as a bold fashion choice. I would think, "It's like wearing a pillow on my head- I can just go to sleep wherever I am."

It IS like wearing a huge, round, cable-knit, fuzzy pillow on my head. Which IS a bold fashion choice... If you're a crazy lady pushing a shopping cart full of recyclables down the street.

I'm going to finish this thing. Then it's either going to be (a) washed/dried to see if it'll shrink down to a reasonable size, or (b) a pillow cover. I'll go out and buy a large round pillow and use this as a cover. Because it's so huge. Huger than a steering wheel.

Happy Valentine's Day, mon.


[knitting] Baby Shower

I went to a baby shower this past Saturday and brought the Ripple Hand Towels (as burp towels) and a baby set:

Pattern: Basic Hat Pattern (infant size) from The Knitter's Hand Book of Patterns by Ann Budd
Yarn: Louet Gems Baby in Baby Willow
Needles: US 2
Baby hat

Pattern: Baby Mittens
Yarn: Louet Gems Baby in Baby Willow
Needles: US 2 (I really should have used US 4 since the yarn was held double)
baby mittens

Pattern: Saartjes Bootees
Yarn: Louet Gems Baby in Baby Willow
Needles: US 2
baby booties

And the whole set together:

Baby set

I was able to make all of it with one skein of the Gem's Baby, with enough leftover for another pair of mittens. Not bad for an $8 skein of yarn. I'm very happy with this yarn- no knots whatsoever, very soft, machine wash/dry. It was super fun making the mittens (because they were fast) and booties (because they're so cute- wookit tha widdle buttons!) but I found the hat to be boring. Maybe next time I'll add cables for use a self striping yarn.


[cooking] Duck Duck Duck Duck Duck...

I finally got around to cooking the duck this week and now the entire downstairs has a greasy duck smell that won't go away.

Here's what I wanted from the 5.78lb duck:

1. Roasted duck for dinner
2. Leftover duck meat used in an imaginative way
3. Duck stock made from duck carcass
4. Rendered duck fat

I really can't think of what else I might be able to squeeze out of the poor animal. The crisp roast duck was nummy but a complete nightmare to cook. I had to use my dreaded largest roasting pan which I hate to use because it's larger than my sink and takes HOURS to clean thoroughly. The smoke alarm went off at least six times during the three hours of fatty, splatty, smokey cooking. As if maneuvering a white hot roasting pan and draining/turning and fatty, splatty duck isn't hard enough, imagine doing it while listening to "WHEET! WHEET! Fire! Fire! WHEET! WHEET! Fire! Fire!"

The next day, I stripped all the meat that I could from the carcass. I read some imaginative recipes for leftover duck meat online and I think I'm going to go with duck dumplings. The dumplings I'm thinking of are called mandoo in Korean.

(ASIDE: If I were to write a detective novel, I'm going to name my main character Duck Mandoo. I just like the way it sounds. "It's Duck Mandoo!" "Oh, Duck Mandoo, thank God you're here!" "Mr. Mandoo? You're table is ready." My imagination took it several slapstick levels further where someone shouts "Duck!" to him and he turns, but they really meant "Get down!" Then he's out at a club doing his sleuthing thing and someone shouts "Get down!" and he ducks but everyone else starts to boogie. Which leads to him having an informant on the street called Boogie Daze. And on and on and on to crazyville...)

So I'll put the duck meat in a blender with shallots and spices and whatnot to make the filling for the mandoo- the duck mandoo. Tee hee, I can't stop saying it.

The duck stock was yet another three-hour chore that added an extra coating of flavorlicious smell to the house. The good news is that I was able to get at least two quarts of dark stock. I had been looking for a chinois expressly for making stock and found one at Board & Basket... for $113.00. OMFG@($^%@!!! No freaking way was I going to spend that much. Here's what I do when I want something but can't find it anywhere: I go to Dan & Whit's in Norwich.

You know their saying: If we don't have it, you don't need it. IT'S NOT A LIE. They have never failed me. I was there looking at the strainers and asked one of the old guys "Do you have a fine-mesh, cone-shaped strainer, also called a sheen-wah?" He looked at me like, "Really? You really need a... whatever you just said?" He says to me, "No. Get that strainer and line it with cheesecloth. If you want something finer, use a coffee filter." ... I stood there. I stood there trying not to slap my forehead. I got the $7 strainer and a $3 package of cheesecloth.

At home, I made the stock. I ran the hot liquid through sixteen layers of cheesecloth. This kept out all the little bits and pieces but it still looks like there's sediment. I'm waiting for the stock to cool in the fridge so that I can easily remove the hard layer of fat on top, then I'll reheat the leftover stock and pass it through coffee filters.

And with the fat, I shall reheat it to whatever hotness it needs to be to evaporate any water, then I'll keep the fat in a little jar (like I keep bacon fat) to cook with.

You know what, I get the feeling that the duck has made me it's little bitch. I really don't feel like I've won.


[amy] Murderface Catdog

I'm writing this as I wait while a sweater soaks. It's the very first sweater I ever knit and it's dear to me. It's in the bathroom upstairs in a plastic tub resting in a specialty soap imported from Canada. I decided that it was high time for a good long wash. It was probably the cat pee that really sealed the deal.

For a while now, a friendly neighborhood cat has been coming around my home. He started to come inside (no doubt lured by the free delicacies I offered) and made himself at home. Dollar and I call him Murderface Catdog for reasons so random and numerous, it would be pointless to get into it now.

He's the most amiable and grumpy little guy. He purrs a lot but also wants to bite your fingers. He will fall asleep in my lap and occasionally fart. It's all pros and cons with him and right now, it's... Let me put it this way: Do you intimately know what wool soaked with cat pee smells like? I do.

Excuse me while I go check on the sweater and a few machine washable things that also received some collateral damage.

I think I know why he did it. I suppose my shallow square knitting basket could resemble a litterbox. If that's where one keeps a few spare balls of yarn and various knitting projects. Factor in that Murderface hadn't been outside to relieve himself in, oh, I'd say three days. The weather has been particularly frigid recently, which is one reason we let him stay over.

Anyway, he left this morning. He didn't want breakfast (I should have known something was up!), just to go outside. I went into my craftroom in the afternoon and noticed a smell. I bent down to pick up my sweater and noticed that it was damp. Wondering how my sweater got wet, I felt all along the damp part and put it to my nose. Smells like wet wool and something... sharp... sniff... like a vinegar... sniiiiiff... what would be... It's pee OH MY GOD IT'S CAT PEE!

I rummaged through everything in the basket, feeling some things wet, others dry, some yarns smelled like pee, other's didn't, or did they? Everything had to go except for the things I could wash. Yeah, I could have kept the yarn and washed it and knit with it, but I would know- I would know that there had been pee. And forget about ever using the yarn to make something as a gift.

The Aftermath: The sweater is almost ready to come out. I washed it three times. I'm looking on the bright side- it was high time to wash the sweater anyway. I've got other smaller things to wash but those will be easy. I'm going to a fancy dinner out tonight where I expect to pay too much money for too little food. I plan on extremely enjoying the meal and telling everyone at the table, "Wow, this is so nice after dealing with cat pee all day long. Could someone please order me another glass of wine, I'm going to wash my hands again."


[knitting] Ripple Hand (Burp?) Towel

Last finished one:

Ripple hand towel

I have three now in pastel colors. I think I will give these has burp towels at a baby shower. I know I'll have another baby shower to attend in a few months and for that, I think I'd like to try a different pattern. Maybe the Mason-Dixon Moss Grid Hand Towels...