[travel] My first Spanish Coffee

I'm in Portland, OR this week. The weather has been... Well, this is their rainy season. I guess I was spoiled last time I was here, when it was sunny, gorgeous and warm. The past few days have been rainy and cold. The rest of the week's weather has been forecast to be rainy and cold.

Monday evening I walked up to Powell's City of Books. I scoured the knitting section for over an hour and saw a lot of out-of-print options. (I took only one book on color knitting techniques.) Then I went up to the Music section and saw several shelves of music songbooks. I called Dollar at home and started going through them, "Aerosmith... The Beatles... The Carpenters... John Denver..." so he could stop me on the ones he actually wanted (Alice in Chains and Slayer). I headed down to the graphic novel section but it was too huge and I had been there for hours. I might head back again some evening this week to check out some of the other 3,445 sections I missed.

Tuesday evening we went to Huber's immediately after work for a Spanish Coffee. I've never had one before but the presentation at this place was mind blowing. The menu for this item says "Bacardi 151, Bols Triple Sec, Kahlua, and coffee. Topped with fresh whipped cream and nutmeg. Flamed Tableside."

Flamed wah-?

I captured it on video. [Huber's is Portland's oldest restaurant and the owners strove to retain the original architecture and design... Which means the acoustics are terrible by today's standards. Once the place gets filled, the noise from everyone talking was nearly deafening. So, MIND YOUR SPEAKERS AND TURN THE VOLUME DOWN. Thank you.]

It was amazing. He can only made two drinks at a time, so I got to watch him do it twice for the four of us. I don't know what kind of training one has to go through to be qualified to do this but he didn't spill a drop. No wonder these drinks are $10 each.


[knitting] Done thrumming. Forever.

I finished the mittens:

Thrummed Mittens

Pattern: Thrummed Mittens by Yarn Forward

Needles: US4 (ribbing), US7 (body)

Yarn: Malabrigo Merino Worsted

Thrums: Merino, part of a gigantic ball I got from The Fiber Studio when I bought my spinning wheel last year.

I'm never thrumming anything ever again. Probably. I don't want to say "never" but... Yeah, I'm pretty sure "never". None of it was fun or relaxing or any other reason I like to knit.

The merino thrums are in PILL STAGE 1- FUZZING

Thrummed Mittens

I've thought about taking my sweater stone to the outside of these mittens, but that's insane, right? It's only going to pull/snag the merino fibers more.

But... So the mittens aren't aesthetically pleasing (to me). How to they feel? Slip you hand in...

Thrummed Mittens

I brought them to knitting Tuesday night and had everyone try them on. The best part was seeing all their faces go slack once they pulled them on, like they were sinking into a hot bubble bath. Aaahhhhh... They are soft.

BONUS Murderface video:

Now that the box I was using for thums is empty:

And bear in mind that we all sound crazy-stupid the closer we get to cats.


[misc] Getting read to go


I'm taking a work trip to Portland, OR next week, so I'm trying to decide what knitting to bring. I have it narrowed down to: a pair of fingerless gloves, a pair of socks and a fingering-weight cowl. I was just going to bring yarn enough for the gloves and socks but... you never know. I've got lots of flights, layovers and hotel evenings to fill.


I am working on on 8oz of pencil corriedale roving from Crown Mountain Farms. I divvied the yarn into three equal portions to put onto three bobbins for a (you guessed it) three-ply. I'm still working on the first bobbin :(


I've been reading a lot of comics by Jason recently. His stories are really great. Kind of noir and the endings are always unexpected. The Left Bank Gang imagines Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound and James Joyce as comic artists/writers in 1920's Paris. The Living and the Dead is a rather charming zombie story. All the vignettes in Sshhhh!, ranging from comedy to tragedy, are told without words. Jason is one of my favorite comic artists right now.

For travel reading, a friend recommended The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch (Hi Shelby. I know you said you'd lend this to me, but I went and got it for this trip.), so I'm bringing that.


Asparagus. Asparagus asparagus asparagus. It's in season now, right? Well, maybe it's a little early but I've seen lots available at the grocery store and it has been tasting so good. I just saute it in a little vegetable oil until it's bright green and al dente.


Dollar and I are closing in on the end of Season 7 of Smallville. The show has been introducing lots of characters from the DC Universe, which has been fun.

I recently popped in a disk from the first season of The Muppet Show. *sigh* They just don't make shows like that anymore. I ordered Season 2.


We finally played Alhambra and it was really great. Good for 4-, 3- and even 2-players. There are at least 6 expansions for it and I can't wait to check them out.


[knitting] Button Hat

I finished the March selection for Hat Club early:

Button Hat

Pattern: Robin's Egg Blue Hat

Needles: US 10 (6 mm)

Yarn: Lion Brand Lion Wool, Dark Teal, leftovers from my felted clogs.

Notes: The yarn is worsted weight and I held it double in an attempt to get gauge. I was close. The finished measurement for the hat as written is 20 inches around and mine is probably closer to 22 or 23 inches. For the band of the hat, you work back and forth on straight needles and seeing all those stitches was a nerve-wracking. You do bind off 12 stitches for the button tab but still. I guess hats always look smaller on 16 inch circular needles.

I got the button at Joann's. I wanted a 2 inch button but the largest one that I liked was 1.75 inches. It's wooden and very pretty with a sculpted flower in the middle.


[knitting] Topo hat


Pattern: Topographie

Needles: US 10 (6.0 mm)

Yarn: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Bulky Hand Dyed in Storm (this color is now discontinued)

Here's where yarn and pattern collide and it end up working out in the end. I had had this one ball of yarn in my stash for a while. I tried knitting with it but the color repeats were regular in a way I didn't like. So it sat in the yarn basket, ignored and unloved.

When the Topographie pattern came out, I thought it was a neat idea: use handpainted yarn, pick a color, purl that color only. The resulting purl ridges on the right side of the work would produce an interesting texture.

I wanted to try the pattern to see if it would be a fun hat for Hat Club and I wanted to use up the yarn. So I cast on and decided to do it and finish no matter how uneasy I felt about how it was going. It came out too large for me but it fits my sister's bf really well and it appears to be good for the on-again, off-again, is-it-spring, is-it-still-winter weather we're having. It's not as heavy and warm as the stranded Turkish Patterned Cap that I made for him for Christmas. Plus, the colors work well for a man.

The only drawback I found to the pattern is picking the right yarn. The Knit Picks "hand dyed" is (I believe) actually "machine-dyed", but correct me if I'm wrong. The color repeats are so regular and the company produces so much yarn, I just can't image some poor person dyeing thousands of skeins by hand. So I would recommend a more irregularly dyed skein of actual handpainted yarn to achieve more interesting terrain.


[misc] Murderface Monday

This weekend it was nice enough to open a window:

Nice day

Here's a good shot of MF in profile. Obviously, he has no tail. He has a nice round body and head. And a proud chest I like to rub up and down when he meows for his supper.


Actually, about his prominent chest: I recently got larger water dishes (after growing tired of refreshing his shallow bowls every other day) and I noticed MF drinks from the far side. When the water is very full, he ends up dipping his chest into the water and walks away with a spiky, wet chest. It's very funny.


[knitting] Last minute handspun baby hat

I quickly made a hat last night and added pom-poms today.

Handspun Baby Hat

The yarn is handspun:

Cotton Candy

This was a fairly uneven, thick-and-thin spun yarn to get me back into the swing of things. I really like the uneven texture of the hat. You can tell it's homemade, which is kind of nice.

The yarn was bulky, so I cast on 56 stitches on size US 10 needles. Knit for about 6 inches, kitchener the top closed. Add a pom-pom to each corner.

The hat is going to Dollar's niece, who just turned 1. I think the hat might be a little big but hope it gets a lot of use next winter.


[spinning] Campfire

I finally spun singles! I mean, I always spin singles to make plied yarn, but I spun thick, low-twist singles to keep as singles...


Here it is before. 80% Merino, 20% Tussah Silk by Serenknity in the Campfire colorway:

Sereknity Campfire

The drafting went quick; it only took a couple nights of spinning. I spun slooooowwww, using my largest whorl (lowest ratio) and put in just enough twist to keep the yarn from coming apart. Then I skeined the yarn onto my niddy noddies and left them for 24 hours:


2 Niddy Noddies of Singles

When it came time to wash the yarn, I used HOT water and soap. I dunked the skeins and agitated them a bit to slightly full the yarn. This should help the singles stay together better.

And wah-lah, the yarn is so lofty and pretty! It's about 300 yards, light worsted weight (12 WPI):



[knitting] Thrummed Mittens

I started a pair of thrummed mittens about a week ago. I had been reading about them on other blogs, the subject of thrummed mittens was brought up at a recent knit night and I was seeing patterns everywhere. It was pointless trying to resist.

When I bought my spinning wheel* last year at The Fiber Studio (Henniker, NH), I was given a 1 pound ball of white merino. I spun a bit for practice but quickly moved on to more visually stimulating dyed roving. I've taken off 4 oz here and there to dye, but I swear the ball isn't getting any smaller. Now I'm ripping off chunks for thrums:

Box o' thrums

This is such a small amount of thrums. I think the box would need to be completely full for two mittens. My process is to make "a ton" of thrums, knit them and realize I only made enough for half of one mitten, make "a ton" more, etc.

Thrummed Mittens

The yarn I am using is Malabrigo worsted, so the mitten will be merino yarn with merino thrums. Oooo, it's so soft.

I am having a couple... issues with this project...

Thrummed Mittens

The thrums are getting pretty fuzzy just from my fingers rubbing against the outside as I move the project around and around while knitting. Which is creating a white halo around the dark brown background that I don't really like. I fear that these mittens will look old and haggard well before their time. Like... As soon as they're done.

Also, my thrums aren't adorable little hearts. They are weird half-hearts with the working yarn slicing through left side. I don't think I'm doing my thrums wrong: knit to where I want to place a thrum, insert needle into stitch, wrap thrum and working yarn around needle, pull both through. On the next row, I knit the thrum and working yarn stitch together. Right? Right?!

But all my issues melt away when I try the mitten on. Tell me you don't want to jump into that soft fleece?

Thrummed Mittens

*Last night I finally named my spinning wheel: Patience


[misc] Murderface Monday

I had to remove all (two) of the plants in the house because Murderface would try snacking on them and throw up. I bought a kit to grow cat grass for his snacking pleasure. He tried it:

Cat and grass

But I don't think it tastes like the sweet, delicious grass that grows outside. He has mostly left it alone.

Cat and grass

There were several different kinds of cat grass kits at West Lebanon Feed & Supply, so I'm tempted to give another one a try after this one dies.


[spinning] Dragonfly

I spun a 3-ply DK-weight (13 WPI) 50% Superwash Merino/50% Tencel skein of yarn.


Sereknity Dragonfly

The fiber is by Sereknity and was purchased at the Yarn & Fiber Co. in Derry, NH.




I love the way 3-plies look- The colors break up and blend prettier. And I'm impressed with how thin my spinning has gotten. The singes were 1/3 the thickness of DK yarn.

The one skein is about 228 yards. I'm off to Ravelry to find the right pattern it. (Probably a cowl?)