[misc] Food Stuffs

Christmas break for me starts tomorrow. Only 11 days off in a row (wish it was more) and I'm going to make the most of it. My plan is to do nothing other than:

1. Bake
2. Knit

I haven't been knitting too much recently, just spinning, so I'm going to see how many projects I can crank out. Also, I really don't bake anything other than blueberry muffins, so I'm going to bake every day: no-knead bread, muffins, cookies, savory scones. Dollar will eat it all, I know.

I'm trying to clean out the cupboards- we have all kind of beans and soups and pasta and canned tuna fish and crap that I'm trying to use up so we don't have to move with it. I've been forced to get creative. Last night I made scalloped potatoes. I have a couple cans of crab bisque to use and I decided to use one in the scalloped potatoes. I mixed some half & half with the soup and then added some salt, pepper, bay seasoning. I used my mandolin to slice two russet potatoes. I chopped up some cheddar and swiss cheeses. I put down layers of all that stuff. Baked uncovered at 400 for 50 min. It was good but way too greasy.

I'm willing to try this again (because I have the other can of bisque to use up) using way less cheese- I'll only sprinkle a bit on top and not add it to the layers of potatoes. And I might take an onion to the mandolin as well to add to the layers. The urge to include bacon is great.

Tonight? Steak and curly fries, cuz that's how I'm roll when I'm on vaca.


[misc] Murderface Monday

Woke up in the middle of the night to MF trying to kill me. He doesn't usually sleep on me- every now and then he'll sleep on my chest or stomach, but he's usually along my head or legs. In the middle of the night he decided that my neck looked warm and comfortable and he sprawled out over my neck. He was pretending to sleep but really he was trying to slowly suffocate me with his weight and fur.

Staring me down
I keel you... Youse don't know how, youse don't know when... But soonish.


[spinning] Bitsy Knits

Purchased 4oz of SW Merino at the 2010 VT S&W from Bitsy Knits:

Bitsy Knits

Spun it up into a quick two-ply:

Bitsy Knits

I like it- it's a nice, manly, rich color.

Here's a group shot of the 3lbs of fiber that I've most recently spun:

3lbs of fiber, handspun

I love it. And I love punching down my fiber stash by 3lbs. Too bad I just ordered enough fiber to replace it all. I'm weak! A fellow Raveler was getting rid of a bunch and the prices were so good... and... and... I have no excuse. I just want to spin more pretties.


[spinning] Sage Surino

Two center-pull bumps from Flaggy Mountain Fiber Works purchased at the 2009 Green Mountain Fiber Festival. Surino: 70% Suri Alpaca, 30% Merino:


8oz of fingering weight. Looooooove this color and yarn. (That's not a single 8oz skein, but a 5oz and 3oz just twisted together)



This was easy spinning- the fiber drafted fluidly at the wheel. The fiber came in those two center-pull bumps. I put down a wide plastic bag on the floor next to the spinning wheel and pulled out all the fiber from the bumps onto it. It piled up like a mountain of soft linguine. I felt a little bit like the girl from Rumpelstiltskin who had the piles of straw to spin into gold. I didn't even want to spin it this fine but I was using my Joy so... I suppose the wheel and fiber dictate the grist, not me. I just pedal along for the ride.


[spinning] Forbidden Fruit

Some "fawn brown roving" that I got at the 2009 Fiber Revival down in MA last summer:

Fawn Brown Roving

Not sure what the fiber is but it feels like shetland or icelandic to me. Not soft like merino, but soft in a slightly rustic and wooly kind of way.

These two are not the same colorway, but they're close enough that I spun each and plied them together into a two ply:

Forbidden Fruit

I'm pleasantly surprised with the result. The yarn is maybe a dk or light worsted weight. I think I have enough yardage here for a nice shawl.

Forbidden Fruit


[spinning] Pigeonroof Fiber Club

This past summer I bought a 3-month Fiber Club membership from Pigeonroof Studios.

June - "Legerdemain", BLF, 2 ply.

Fiber Club from Pigeonroof Studios



July - "Squall", SW merino, navajo plied

Fiber Club from Pigeonroof Studios



August - "Char", corriedale, single ply:

Fiber Club from Pigeonroof Studios


And a group shot:

Pigeonroof 3 month Club

I enjoyed spinning them all. While the legerdemain and char fibers looked similar to me color-wise, I like seeing how different they look as finished yarn. Also, the corriedale spun up SOOOO lofty as a single. They're all 4 ounces but the char is a big squooshy skein of softness.


[spinning] Meriboo

I picked up two 4oz packets of Frog Tree Yarns Meriboo roving (70% merino, 30% bamboo).

Frog Tree Yarns

Which were spun into two bulky 2-ply skeins:


This was effortless spinning. The fiber drafted so smoothly at the wheel. I like the sheen from the bamboo:


I didn't wash these skeins like I normally do, but decided to just twist them up right away. I want to keep the smooth shine (I know washing it will fuzz it up a little bit).

I've been using my Kromski Minstrel and Ashford Joy regularly, switching up between the two depending on how much fiber I have and how I want to spin it. My Minstrel bobbins are small, but I have a WooLee Winder, which fills things up evenly. I use my Minstrel for worsted to bulky spinning.

My joy has huuuuge bobbins (can probably hold 5 - 6 oz depending on how thin I spin) but the wheel only seems to want to spin lace to fingering to dk weight yarn. When I try to spin slow and bulky, the singles still end up being thin.

So, I don't fight it. Most of the time I sit at the wheel and start spinning whatever fiber I grab. Within the first 10 yards or so, I know how the yarn wants to be spun. I rarely say, "Okay, I will spin this yarn dk-weight" and check and recheck how I'm doing with my spinning card. I spin and however the yarn turns out is how it turns out. But I've learned that it's easier to spin thick on my Minstrel and fine on my Joy.


[spinning] Natural

I picked up some BLF natural mix at Rhinebeck this year:

Gale's Art

And spun it up into a bulky two-ply:

Natural BFL

Natural BLF

This was easy spinning. I didn't go anything in terms of pre-drafting, other than splitting each 4 oz bundle into 4 smaller lengths. The off-white and brown streaks in the fibers make a pretty interesting yarn.


[knitting] Yarn I dyed

Here are the two skeins of yarn I dyed at last month's Green Mountain Fiber Festival. This was with Ellen from Ellen's Half Pint Farm. I was actually the only one who signed up for this class, so it was good to have all the one-on-one attention, but kind of too bad as well because there weren't other people painting skeins with you, so didn't get to see how their color combinations might come out.

I bought another blank skein and did two:

Dyed by me

I did the one on the right first. If it looks a little wild... that's because it is. It kind of looks like tiger colors in real life. I don't really make of (or with) it.

The blue one I did second, as a tonal experiment. I dyed one end dark blue and as I started running out of dye, Ellen added more water (instead of dye) to reduce the intensity bit by bit. I like how it turned out.


[misc] Murderface Tuesday

More Murderface pictures today because I have no new knitting/spinning to show. My hands are still a mess. The skin is peeling, which is a good thing (I hope) but I can't knit or hold any knitting without the yarn fibers catching and snagging. So sad. I need to take pictures of the yarn I've been spinning. Seriously, it's like... three pounds of fiber I've spun over the past few weeks. I hang out and spin while Murderface is all:

Murderface napping

He's on the spare bed behind me. After a while, I can hear, "zzzZZZZ... zzzZZZZ... zzzZZZZ" coming from him. Awww. Then I get up to take his picture:

Good morning

Oops. Go back to sleep. It's only 11 am on a Saturday. You've got... 7 more hours of napping to do before suppertime. You should probably rest up for that.


[misc] Murderface Monday

Things are feeling pretty wintery around here. I tried putting Muderface's sweater on him this weekend. We got up in the morning, went downstairs. Murderface went to the kitchen and starting banging his head against the dry food bag, like he normally does. I grabbed his sweater-vest-thingie and quickly put it on him. Then I gave him some dry food to distract him and convince him that wearing a sweater is no big deal. He ate his food while I made coffee. By the time I turned back around, he was gone from the kitchen.

I went out into the dining room and saw him. He was looking a little terrified but I told him to chill out while I got the camera. When I came back, he was running across the living room, jumped up onto a speaker, onto a set of drawers... then ran up some of the stairs.

MF in his sweater

He tried squirming out and I tried tucking his arms back in, "No, you're wearing this thing- OW! Don't bite me, you little... Just wear it!!"

MF in his sweater

He eventually wiggled his entire body up and out the neck. I think the armholes are the hardest for him- they aren't quite placed right. I think I might make another but add sleeves. I want him to want to wear the sweater as much as I want him to.


[knitting] Multi-directional scarf

I love buying variegated yarns- all the colors look so pretty and mixed-up in the skein. Then when I go to use it, I usually get pooling. This can happen when the yarn is dyed in regular/precise intervals (usually by a machine) and the knitter doesn't change the stitch count- the same color(s) can stack up and group on top of one another. Let's see if I have an example...

I love the autumn shades of this yarn:

Happy Feet for a Cowl.

But knit up into a cowl, the colors had a tendency to group:

Good Luck Cowl

Not such a big deal for a cowl that sits scrunched around your neck... But still. I gave the cowl to my sister because she doesn't hate pooling like me. It's the bane of my knitting existence (along with knots in skeins).

So what am I supposed to do with all the variegated skeins? How about a multi-directional scarf... The stitch count changes every row, which would prevent colors stacking up:

Multidirection Scarf

I like it. It's easy to customize to whatever width scarf you like. The pattern is fast and easy to memorize. The edges look a little unfinished, so I might go around and crochet a border.

But I think I may have found a go-to pattern for variegated yarns!


[misc] Murderface Monday

Murderface, catloafing on his cat-mat:


He's probably relieved that Dollar and I are going back to work today. I only had last Thurs/Fri off work, but Dollar had the whole week. He tried to ignore us, but it didn't work.


I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. I was still dealing with my allergic reaction to something in those naturally dyed skeins on yarn. I had to go see my doctor and she told me that I had chemical burns all over the insides of my hands. I also had a rash breakout- from the top of my feet to my face. I'm nearly all better now, but I'm still in a continual state of sloughing/molting my top layer of skin. This shit was f'ed-up, for real. The palms of my hands are turning back to a normal human shade- they've been bright red and inflamed for a week. And they felt burned- as though I placed them down in a hot pan. I wasn't able to put my hands in hot water (an upside to all this is that Dollar started doing the dishes, heh) or open bottles. Anyway... it was f'ed-up.

I spun a lot these past couple weeks and have lots of new, pretty yarn to take pictures of.


[misc] New House

For the past months and months and months (I'm not sure when we started talking to the bank to get the ball rolling... June?), we've been jumping through all the necessary hoops to acquire a home construction loan. We were FINALLY approved and the building has started. I went up a couple weekends ago (when the weather was nice) to check out the progress on the foundation:

Foundation panoramic

That's the foundation for the house. The attached garage will be at the left end of the house. The right end there is going to be a family room. It's going to have a full basement under the house.

The land has been in the family for... 100+ years, I think. My grandmother sold 99.5 acres to my mom years ago, and that where we'll be. Most of the land is hilly forest, but there's lots of open fields and pastures that my uncle has been maintaining:

Fields panoramic

Here's a picture from back in 2007, looking down at the old farmhouse and barn from one of the fields:

Farm Foliage 6

The new house is going basically where the barn was:

Site work for the new house

Both the house and barn came down. The house currently looks like:

Site work for the new house

It's sad, but it had to come down. It was falling down, no one had lived in it for years, there was black mold growing... We're salvaging stone blocks from the cellar and old wooden beams to incorporate into the new house:

Site work for the new house

Site work for the new house

There's even a little pond:

Site work for the new house

The new house is going to be a modular, delivered in 4 - 6 pieces (probably some time in January). It's going to be a trip moving from "urban" Hartford Village to rural South Royalton but it will be so nice having the privacy. I wonder what Murderface is going to think...


[spinning] Vineyard

I've been spinning quite a lot recently. I finally finished up 8oz of superwash merino from Sereknity that I started way back for the Tour de Fleece:


I spun it really thin on my Ashford Joy (in the pic w/MF yesterday)... I loooooooove the huge bobbins on this wheel. It can hold at least 50% more than one of my Kromski Minstrel bobbins (even w/the WooLee winder!).

The final yarn was navajo-plied:

Vineyard - Chain plied

I used this video as reference on how to navajo ply. I did one skein just the way she showed- holding the end of the loop back in my right hand, guiding the twist forward and back with my left hand. Well I wasn't doing something right, because I could barely bend my left thumb after I was done with one bobbin.

The next day, I sat at the wheel to do the 2nd skein. I set things up, made a loop and started chain-plying. Only, I was surprised to notice that I was holding the loop with my left hand and pinching/guiding the twist forward and back with my right hand. I wasn't even thinking about it- I had completely switched hands. I think this might be because when I'm spinning the singles, I'm drafting the fiber with the left hand and lightly pinching the twist with my right.

I wonder if the person plying in that video drafts with her right and pinches with her left. Also, maybe she's left-handed? I wonder if that has anything to do with anything.

Anyway, I felt 100% better doing it the way my body naturally wanted to do it. No hand or finger cramps after I was done. Also, n-plying does empty a bobbin fairly quickly, which is nice.

Vineyard - Chain plied


[misc] Murderface Monday

Happy Birthday, Murderface!


Happy Birthday, Dollar!

We don't know when MF's birthday is, so we just gave him the same birthday as Dollar. MF is turning 6 today. I need to stop by the feed & supply store on the way home to get him some gifts.

Went to the Green Mountain Fiber Festival this weekend- it was great. I got to dye lots of yarn and fiber. It was a good atmosphere and a good location. I was too tired to cook supper last night, so we ordered out. I got some kind of horrible food poisoning or something. I was barfing all night (Dollar wasn't barfing but his stomach was not good) and woke up this morning with a swollen, red, itchy, painful hand. Is that a side effect of a food allergy? The only other thing I can think of that would mess up my hand was handling naturally dyed skeins of yarn right out of the dyepot. Two skeins, one dyed with goldenrod and the other dyed with jewel weed. I'm not allergic to either plants... so why might the dyes bother me? I don't know, but wtf. I need to get some benadryl.


[knitting] Gothic Paths

Another finished hat:

Crooked Paths

Pattern: Crooked Paths by Knitting School Dropout

Needles: US 5 (3.75mm) for ribbing, US 8 (5 mm) for main body.

Yarn: Dream in Color Classy, 'Gothic Rose' colorway

Mods: Did two repeats of of pattern, rather than three.


Crooked Paths

These pictures more accurately show the color. I love this hat. Still turned out fine w/out the extra pattern repeat after blocking around a large dinner plate.

Love the pattern on the crown:

Crooked Paths

Looks like a flower to me. <3 <3 <3 this. Will be going to my mom for Christmas.