Friday

[spinning] Atlantis

Spun up a quick skein of yarn. I don't spin from batts very often but opening up a batt is like opening up a Christmas present.

Friends in Fiber

Unrolled:

Blue Batts

It's a mixture of merino, mohair, tencel and glitz. Spun up:

Atlantis

It's a little overspun and uneven because I'm a bit rusty at spinning. And I was in a hurry.


Thursday

[knitting] Optim Fan Shawl

The shawl is DONE!

Fan Shawl

Awwww yyyeeeeaaahhhh. I love projects made with handspun yarn. Here's an old post of what the fiber looked like before and after I spun it.

Optim Fan Shawl

The pattern is Panda Silk DK Fan Shawl from Crystal Palace Yarns. I added an extra row of whole fans before doing the last row of half-fans because I was working with thinner yarn and smaller needles.

If someone asked me whether or not I'd do this pattern again, my answer would be "Oh hell no." I had 47 ends to sew in. Show me a modular fan shawl that is crocheted, with only 2 ends to sew in, and I'd try that. But this? 47 ends felt like 470 ends. 

Still... it's so pretty. It was worth it.

Optim Fan Shawl

Light as air. Super soft. Love love love.

Wednesday

[vermont] 2013 Maple Open House Weekend

My sister and I went down to Maple Knoll Farm in Springfield, VT this past Saturday for the VT Maple Open House weekend. This was probably the easiest drive we've had to a sugarhouse- the farm was just off a paved road. Yay- no mud to drive through!

A decent number of people showed up at the same time we did. We got a tour of the sugarhouse and I bought quarts of syrup.

The main room with the boiler:

Boiler

A back room with the reverse-osmosis machines:

Reverse Osmosis Machine

This was so interesting to me. Basically, the same reverse-osmosis method used to purify drinking water (separate the good water from other "stuff") is used for maple sap, only the water is the by-product and you want the concentrated sugars and minerals to move on to the actual boiler.

I was conflicted. Traditional-me thought, "Hmpf. Sounds like cheating to me." Progressive-me thought, "Yay science! Think of all the time and fuel costs saved by using this system." 

The brand of these machines was Lapierre. Maple syrup is serious business to Québécois so I wasn't surprised that this was invented up there. And I like that the primary language on all the surfaces was french:

Reverse Osmosis Machine


In the back-back room were the storage tanks. Everything in this place was spotless.

Examples of animal damage to the lines:

Animal damage to taps and lines.


This was a nice visit and nice farm. Good prices for their syrup, too!


Tuesday

[misc] Penny Tuesday

Penny's favorite toy is Da Bird. It's just a thin 3-foot plastic pole with string and feathers at the end. This only comes out once in a great while and it's stored above the fridge the rest of the time. It's for supervised play only because Penny's proven herself to not be smart enough to not eat toys. 

Crazy eyes


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Google Reader, which I use and love, is going away July 1. I've made the switch to Feedly and I like it. The only things I don't really like is that there is (minimal) advertising in the sidebar and new posts published don't immediately appear in the feed. I don't know if Feedly runs a script that only grabs new content every few hours but I've noticed that when I publish here, it takes a while to appear in Feedly. 

Monday

[misc] Murderface Monday

Caught a cute picture of Murderface mid-yawn:

Tiredface

Then I turned round to see Penny on the windowsill:

Tired Penny

Why is everyone so tired. Sheesh. 

Santana?

Santana

She's getting there. She's about to head-flop/pass-out.

Now I feel like taking a nap.


Friday

[knitting] Afghan Block #4

Afghan block #4

These afghan blocks aren't getting any easier. I had to keep no less than 8 stitch marks on the needles throughout this project to keep track of all the different patterns. The beginning of this project is sprinkled with small errors that I left in because they weren't too noticeable (some cables twisting in the wrong direction). My biggest concern was avoiding mistakes in the large braided cable in the center of the square. 

Also... I'm pretty sure the first day of spring shouldn't look like this:

First day of spring

I don't know which I prefer- an everlasting winter simply so I don't have to deal with mud season, or... mud season.

Thursday

[knitting] Frankensocks

Finished the socks!

Frankenstein Socks


Pattern: Frankensocks

Yarn: Plymouth Happy Feet, green and grey. One skein of each color. Some red for decorating.

Needles: US 2 (2.75 mm)

Notes: My socks are much, much simpler than the original Knitty pattern. Mine are like a pair of stale biscuits and the original Frankensocks are like a 30-layer crepe cake. Night and day. But that's okay. As someone who struggles with socks (love to wear handmade socks, kinda hate making them), I was just happy to finish these.

I had fun stitching the red yarn at the color joins, to make the socks look more "pieced together" and "Frankenstein-y".

Frankenstein Socks

The nice thing was, the more uneven and crooked the red stitches, the better it looked.


Wednesday

[misc] Magic Coasters

Dollar starting sorting through binders and boxes of old Magic the Gathering cards. He found a pamphlet that contained lots of nice artwork images. He marked off the ones he liked and I made some coasters for him:

Magic Coasters

Colorful and coordinating felt backs:

Felt backs

I like making coasters. I like it so much I think I might start an Etsy store with my sister and sell them. Soooooon...

Magic Coasters
"Buy my coasters!!!"


Monday

[misc] Penny Monday

I was uploading some pictures last night and Penny came to sit on my desk. She watched the mouse move across the screen and when I minimized all the windows, she seemed particularly fascinated with my wallpaper:

Penny admiring Penny

Since she was into it, I Googled "videos for cats" and found a squirrel video:

Penny watching a squirrel video

It will be nice when the weather is nice and warm and I can open up the windows for her. But, it looks like winter wants to deliver one last (I hope) storm this week.

Friday

[knitting] WIPs

I'm still doing Nerd Wars on Ravelry. This round there's a new challenge category called Flexible Schedule where you finish up misc works-in-progress. Here are the two that I'm going to try to finish this month:

Frankensocks


Fan shawl

Both of these projects are three years old. They've been hidden away in a plastic tub for THREE YEARS. It's kind of embarrassing, actually. But, I'm making good progress on the socks- I've already made it to the heel flap of the 2nd sock. The fan shawl will be so, so, so, so pretty once it's done and blocked. I just have to force myself to make all those modular fans and sew in all those ends.


Thursday

[crafts] Test Coasters

I made a few random felt-bottom coasters, testing out different tiles and paper.

Coasters


Top-left is Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the United States, from Vermont. I ripped the picture from a bargain book of US Presidents that I have. Top-right is Mark Twain (obviously), picture is from a Dover clipart book. Bottom-left is sleeping kittens from a children's book. Bottom-right is central VT/NH from an atlas.

Wednesday

[knitting] Another Chance of Flurries

Another Chance of Flurries hat:

Chance of flurries 2

Same specs as yesterday (same yarns, different colors) only I made this one a bit longer (longer ribbed brim, longer colorwork before starting the crown).

The most major difference between these two hats is that I switched which hand I carried the contrasting color in. It's a subtle difference. Here's a really good blog post explaining the importance of color dominance when doing stranded colorwork.

I'll put the two hats side-by-side:

Chance of flurries 1 Chance of flurries 2

For the cream hat, I carried the green yarn in my right hand. For the brown hat, I carried the burgundy yarn in my left hand. I noticed that when I made the cream hat first, the green stitches were kind of recessed back into the fabric. I first heard about color dominance years ago from a Lucy Neatby instructional video and it sprang back into my head. It's very subtle with this pattern but the burgundy stitches are more prominent on the second hat because I carried the yarn in my left hand.

The thumbs of my Vespergyle mittens from a few weeks ago illustrates this issue better:

Vespergyle mittens

The thumbs are knit 1 white, knit 1 blue around. But since I carried the white yarn in my left hand, the overall effect is that the white "rises" to the surface (really, the stitches are just bigger).

Something that I'll keep in mind as I find more stranded projects to work on...

Tuesday

[knitting] Chance of Flurries

After the Vespergyle mittens, I wanted to do more stranded colorwork, but I wanted something faster and easier.

Chance of flurries 1

Pattern: Chance of Flurries Hat (rav link)

Yarn: Harrisville Flax & Wool Blend (off white), Green Mountain Spinnery Mountain Mohair (evergreen)

Needles: US 7 (brim), US 8 (colorwork)

Mods: The pattern is written for bulky yarn, so I had to cast on more stitches to account for the worsted weight yarn I was using. I cast on 80 and then did the pattern as written. I carried the green yarn in my right hand.

Good project, apart from the Flax & Wool yarn. There was so much vegetable matter in it, I eventually stopped trying to pick it out. The yarn itself is rather lofty and I was worried that pulling out so many twigs and hay and whatever else would undermine the structural integrity of the yarn. This yarn has been discontinued- I picked it up from a bargain bin at the mill years ago.

I may still add a pom-pom to the top. I might wait until I had lots of hats and then go on a pom-pom-making spree.

Monday

[misc] Murderface Monday

I saw a video of a cat that could see an optical illusion of swirling snakes. I decided to try it with Murderface:

Murderface

He really didn't know what to do. He just looked at me, like "Treats? Treats now?"

[misc] Santana

I've got to make a vet appt for Santana next. She's had a coughing/asthma problem for a while and I want to get that checked on. And I happened to look at her one remaining canine tooth and it looks a little chipped or something. 

Santana

Oh, Santana. I just want to make sure you're okay.

Friday

[misc] Penny's slipper

Grainy picture take from my iPad in bed:

Protective Penny

I woke up the other morning and saw one of my pink slippers in Penny's bed. She apparently brought it up from downstairs. I've never seen her carry anything that big before. She likes it and got very protective of it when Murderface came through and sniffed at it... Now I've got  to figure out something else to wear on my feet.