[crochet] Sophie's Universe: Part 8

The Sophie's Universe afghan through part 8.

Sophie's Universe

Started introducing some super bright colors and I'm not sure how I feel about it. I did get a lot more yarn in Ravelry trades and now that I have so many more options, I don't know what colors to do next. Take it back to neutral colors? Keep on with the brights? I don't know, I don't know.

I will get back to this during my vacation- right now I'm frantically knitting things for gifts. 


[misc] Oh Christmas Tree

Went out last Saturday to get a Christmas tree. It was sunny and 55 degrees.

Christmas tree shopping

I found a nice little tree for $45. I always want to barter but I'm not sure how to do it. "Hm, I'm interested in this one but... I don't know, the bottom is kind of messed up. Tell you what- I'll give you $40." I really only wanted to pay $40 was I was too worried about insulting them. So I didn't say anything and paid $45. 

At home, in the stand:

Tree up, ready to decorate

And after all the decorating:

Tree decorated

The cats aren't too interested in it- Rocky has been messing with it more. He's knocked down a low-hanging ornament and nibbled a bit on it here and there. This is out first Christmas with the rabbit and as I saw him chewing, I thought, "Yeeeaahh I should probably Google whether or not fir trees are lethal to bunnies." Turns out they're fine as long as they haven't been sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals. 

Time to start wrapping gifts to put under the tree. I guess I need to start making them, then.


[crafts] Paint your own pottery

Went to paint pottery last week at Tip Top Pottery:

Painting Pottery

Painting Pottery

It was nice and relaxing- plus, you can bring wine!

I might go back this week to make a couple more pieces.


[knitting] Bosnian Slippers

Made a new pair of house slippers to add to the guest basket:

Bosnian Slippers

Yes, they do look like platform hightop sneakers. I would have preferred the sole to be purple as well,but I ran out of the dark color and didn't want to introduce a new one.

Bosnian Slippers

The pattern is worked back and forth, one color at a time. The increases only happen every 4th row and are a little fiddly to work (making 6 new stitches out of 1) but results in the pretty, frilly design along the top of the foot. There was a fair bit of sewing to do at end, to close each slipper up from the top of the leg to the tip of the toe. 

Pattern is free on Ravelry. My recommendation would be to use a long (longer than 16") circular needle to make these slippers. I used single pointed needles it was a little difficult- the rapid increases create a natural curve to the fabric where the toe is. A flexible cable accommodates this better.

Not a bad pattern- would make again. I saw one modified version on Rav that looks more like a lady's slipper- to sit lower on the foot (less like hightop sneakers). Would require less yarn, as well.


[knitting] Newfoundland Mittens - Finished.

Newfie mittens

Pattern: Chunky Newfoundland Mittens (rav link)

Yarn: Lamb's Pride Bulky, gray. Handspun Grafton Fiber batt, orange.

Needles: US 8


Notes: No major modifications. Did the tip of the hand in purl, rather than knit. I love how these mittens turned out- they fit really well. Will definitely make another pair.


[misc] Murderface Monday

Another weekend gone. Had the winter tires put on and the car serviced at 8 am Saturday. Got home, puttered around the house a bit and then took a way-too-long nap in the afternoon with Murderface.


My first mistake was getting back into bed. Murderface will inevitably climb onto my chest and settle down for a nap. I think, "Well, I can't move him now... that would be mean. Maybe I'll just... close my eyes for a... ZZzzzZZZzzz". 

Murderface is feeling much better. He's not wheezy/sneezy anymore. He was sleeping so much, it's nice to see him up and about and causing trouble.

Who? Me? Cause trouble? ... You know it ;)

Sunday I made a trip down to H-Mart with my mom for some Korean food supplies. Looking forward to eating strictly Korean for a while.


[misc] TGIF

After MF's drama last week (and we've been pilling him since), Thanksgiving, travel to DC and back earlier this week- I am so happy it's Friday. I'm getting a new phone this afternoon and then I'm just going to chillax at home.

Penny was pretty chillax last night in her tub of hot, straight-from-the-dryer towels:

Penny in hot towels.

That's pretty much my goal for the weekend.


[misc] Murderface Thursday

Well, it has been a while since my last post. Thanksgiving has come and gone and it's December already. Murderface came down with something at the beginning of last week- hadn't eaten in a couple days, fever, dehydrated- which resulted in us bringing him to the vet for an emergency visit one night and then back to the vet in the morning when he still wasn't eating and still had a temperature. 

He's feeling much better now:

Murderface wants more food
"Stop taking pictures of mittens and give me more food!

He's on antibiotics for some mystery infection. It appears (to me) to be respiratory because he's a little wheezy and very snotty since starting the pills. He's been sneezing and clearing out his nose nonstop. I assume this is just the virus working it's way out of his system. He only has two days left of pills (hurray! we'll ALL be relieved when it's done!). He's eating/drinking as normal. 

During this ordeal, we received some new information on Murderface. He had an x-ray done, to make sure there was nothing foreign inside of him, and we learned of a couple past injuries. His right hip isn't even in the joint and his has a fractured back:

MF xray

I've never had him x-rayed before- there wasn't ever a need. He's been living with us since early 2008. There's nothing to be done about the injuries now- they are very old and his bones have healed/fused how they have and that's that. This information pretty much broke our hearts. I think he must have been hit by a car before he came to live with us, when he was still an outdoor cat. When Santana was having asthma issues a few years ago, I had her x-rayed and the vet at that time saw some indicators that she may have been hit by a car as well. Both of these are pretty good cases for keeping cats indoors-only.

MF is a normal, healthy, active kitty- running and jumping around the house- but now I'm aware that he could be living with chronic pain. He's still extremely affectionate and friendly- he doesn't hide when people come over. This is something the we need to be more aware of to give him a comfortable and appropriate quality of life. I added some stairs along our bed to help him get up some years go- but I attributed that to encroaching old age. Someone in the Rav cat group recommended a heating pad for him to lay on- to help with joint pain. I actually already had one that he uses and now I realize that he goes to it when the weather drops to ease any aches/pains.

Anyway... It's sad but good to know. Murderface has known all this time and never gave overt indicators (that I've picked up on). I think now we've got to be more diligent about giving him food and treats for joint/hip health. And look for signs of arthritis in future visits to the vet. 


[misc] Penny Monday

Busy weekend. Had a shop-til-you-drop day with my sister on Saturday. We drove over to Michael's in Rutland. I was particularly looking for a few new open-back frames for canvas paintings. The frames were so stupidly expensive, I refrained from buying anything else. Including this:

Santa pet costume.

I'll just make one instead. Sure, I was already planning on making a Santa hat (and elf and reindeer hats- I have three cats and they can't ALL be Santa) but I never dreamed of including a beard. Which I will do now.

Sunday was Dollar's birthday. I spend a couple hours in the morning trying to add to the afghan. I sit on my little craft area and endure Penny staring at me:


Staring at me is one of her favorite things to do. Then she crawled into my lap and passed out.


I crocheted along, until I couldn't anymore. When I wrapped her up:

Penny in the afghan

Yes, I smoothed out her whiskers so they would be pointy like that.

For Dollar's birthday dinner, I made roast beef, crab cakes, baked potatoes, steamed broccoli, baked beans and garlic bread (with the last of my precious ramp butter from this past spring). We had a bunch of his family over, so it was a rather big to-do. For dessert, apple pie (before baking):

Dollar's apple pie, before baking

I tried out a couple new stamps on the crust. It's cute but after baking the design was pretty much lost. I'm making two more pies this week- apple and pumpkin to bring to Thanksgiving- then I think I'm done with pie for a while. I can make it in my sleep at this point. I'm all pie'd out. Well... maybe I just need to try making different pies.


[knitting] Newfoundland Mittens

Working on something quick:

Chunky Newfoundland Mittens

I found a skein of the dark gray yarn when I was rummaging through my stash, looking for yarn for Sophie's Universe. It's bulky-weight, so not right for the afghan. I happened to have a sack of my handspun yarn nearby and pulled out a bulky orange skein. They looked nice together so I went looking for a project.

I have had a pattern for worsted-weight Newfoundland mittens in my Ravelry queue for ages and happened to find a similar pattern for chunky yarn. I like the honeycomb design with the purl blips of color that appear on the right side (another reason I'd like to try bohus stickning in the future). These mittens are fast to work up- since they're only 36 stitches around- so they should be all done by this weekend. 


[art] Joy of Painting #5

I signed up to take my fifth Joy of Painting class this past weekend. I brought along a friend this time, to see if she'd be into it. (She was.) Here are progress photos:

Joy of Painting #1

Joy of Painting #2

Joy of Painting #3

Joy of Painting #4

Joy of Painting #5

The complete painting:

Joy of Painting: Done

Another reason I like taking these classes (besides having new artwork to hang on the wall) is that I have a painting to enter into the Tunbridge Fair next year. Can't wait for another class next spring!


[cooking] Eggrolls

Eggrolls from Friday night:


The filling is:

- 1 lb sauteed ground pork
- 1 bag cooked spinach
- 1/2 head cabbage, thinly sliced
- 3 handfuls bean sprouts
- 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 block firm tofu
- soy sauce, to taste

Mix it all together. The only difficult part is the actual rolling of the eggrolls. You want to make sure there aren't any splits/openings in the wrapper- or else the oil that you fry them in with seep into the inside.

The dipping sauce I make is just soy sauce with a little mirin and ground red peppers mixed in. I try not to over salt the filling because the dipping sauce is so salty.


[misc] Santana Monday

Boo, another weekend gone. Mondays are hard because Santana doesn't want us to go back to work. 

Santana on Sophie's Universe

Friday night I had a friend stay over. We made eggrolls and drank too much. Saturday morning I managed to push down my hangover so that we could attend a Joy of Painting class. Love the painting, as always. When I got back home in the afternoon, I tried to stay awake but had to nap until Dollar roused me to say that the take-out pizza was here. So I ate pizza and went back to sleep. This is why I hardly ever drink- the hangover sucks and I feel like I lose 24 hours to it.

Sunday morning was much better. It was cold but sunny. I usually get up, make coffee, feed the cats and rabbit and go sit on a rug in my craft room. This is my favorite place in the house- it's kind of secluded, I have everything set up within arms reach, I bring up patterns on my laptop (set on a hat box under a table) and listen to podcasts on my phone. The cats come hang out with me here so I try to make little napping spots for them in nooks and crannies between baskets and in bags.

I've gone back to working on the Sophie's Universe crochet blanket (shown above) since I got a bit more yarn in a couple swaps/trades on Ravelry. The rounds are taking much longer now- anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes, depending how much is going on in the round. Looking forward to getting another package of yarn in the mail today!


[knitting] Toast

Simple arm warmers to wear it bed, so my forearms/hands don't get cold when I'm reading (or, you know, playing on my phone):

Arm warmers

The free pattern is called Toast on Ravelry but there really isn't a need for a pattern. I used a sport-weight yarn and cast on 52 stitches on US 4 needles. Knit in the round for 12 inches. Bind off loosely. Make two. That's it. The only hard part was counting up all the rows on the first tube so that I could knit the exact same number for the second.

Because they are tubes, it doesn't matter with which end I pull them on. They reach from my mid forearm to nearly the tip of my thumb. The yarn is 50% alpaca / 50% wool, two ply, from Nightingale Fibers. I purchased two skeins years ago at the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival and these fingerless mitts used all 200 yards of one skein. I plan on making a matching hat with the other skein- I'm just fretting over choosing the perfect pattern.

It appears that these benefit the cats as well. I can pull the sleeve down over my hand and then pet the cats, nose to tail. They loooooooooove it. Now I want to invent a petting glove. Like a catchers mitt, but flat... Wait, I just went to Amazon and they've already been invented. Grooming gloves or grooming mitts. Hm. I still think it's a good idea- just knit one mitten and make it webbed between the thumb and the hand. Best petting aid ever.


[knitting] Norwegian Star Cap

Here is the other hat to send to the couple that helped pull our car out of a ditch:

Norwegian Star Cap

Pattern is Norwegian Star Cap from Hats On. 

I made the Medium size and it fits my big head fine. The sizes in this book run large (from my experience). I will make this again with a few modifications:

- will cast on 10% fewer stitches for the inside hem of the brim

Even though you work the inside hem on US 4 needs and the main body on US6, I still had some puckering when I joined the hem to the body. 

- will hold the lighter color in my left hand

The lighter color wasn't dominant for this project. I thought I remembered a "light-right" rule- to hold the lighter color in my right hand but this obviously wasn't correct. 

- will omit the lice pattern on the crown

Was fiddly to work when decreasing.

I really don't do enough stranded projects- I enjoy them. Especially for a small project like this, when you see the design start to become recognizable, it's easy to think "Just one more round.... just one more round..."


[knitting] Aran Watch Cap

A week ago we were driving to a friend's house. Since the time change, it's pitch black out by 5 pm. I've only ever driven to our friend's place maybe 6 or 8 times and the last turn onto a dirt road is abrupt. I rounded a bend, was going to miss the turn, braked and cranked the wheel thinking, "I can still make the turn, I'll just end up driving on the grass a little bit." Only it wasn't grass- it was a big ditch and we went in. The car ended up practically on it's side. As we were rolling, I was sure we were going to end up upside-down. Once we stopped, I couldn't open my door; we had to climb up and out the passenger door and jump down three feet to the ground. Nose into the ditch (missing a hidden concrete block, thank goodness) and the rear right tire way in the air. 

It was a busy enough road but no cell reception. We couldn't call our friend (or anyone) and his house was still a few miles away. About a dozen cars passed us by before a truck finally stopped. It was a couple that had a tow cable and they pulled us out. My car was miraculously fine. Nothing broken, nothing sounding off, no oil/chemical smells. When I was first looking at the car in the ditch, I was like, "Great, we're going to have to get a wrecker, it's going to be thousands of dollars in work that has to be done..." After we were pulled out and continued down the dirt road (at .00003 miles per hour) with the windows open, listening... Everything seemed suspiciously fine. No maintenance lights showing on the console. Huh.

Anyway, the dude that helped us said he didn't want money but I still asked for his mailing address to send him a thank-you card. I am also knitting them a couple hats to send. This aran watch cap is one of them:

Aran Watch Cap

Love this hat and will probably make another for myself. The pattern is from Hats On. The only change I made was to decrease in pattern for the crown over 8 or so rounds, rather than 4 purl rounds as written (I just thought it would look nicer).

The other hat is done. Both have been washed and are blocking. Will probably mail them out at the end of the week.


[misc] Penny Monday

Had a good weekend. I scored a miracle of a deal on a sack of brand new llama/cotton yarn in a variety of colors (49 skeins for $35!!!!). I'm pretty sure I happened to check VT Craigslist at the exact right time to nab the deal. No definite plans for the yarn at the moment but I think a granny square blanket would be very nice.

Penny helped me update my Ravelry projects Sunday morning:

Penny helping me update Ravelry

I received some afghan yarn from a trade on Ravelry and was able to work again on Sophie's Universe for a couple more rounds. Then Penny decided I should work on something else:


So. I found something else to work on. By the way, the socks in the picture are from Sock Madness this past spring, the first round pattern called Alohomora. Love these. Just simple knit/purl but they look so nice on. Will definitely be participating again next year.


[knitting] Aran Afghan Square #15

Not a particularly glamourous photo but I've finished the second-to-last aran afghan square:

Aran Afghan Square #15

The project has kind of stalled while I try to find a pattern that I want to do for the last square.


[spinning] Time to make the donuts, I mean, yarn.

Not sure what to start next for a knitting project, I decided to spin instead. I went digging through my fiber stash and piled up all the fiber I want to work on:

Spinning fiber

My old, last, coveted Grafton Fiber batt. Spunky Eclectic fiber. Ends from Hello Yarn. A couple different things from Fiber Stash. Not pictured is about 3oz of merino/angora blend from Fantom Farm. All good stuff. I've gotten through quite a bit of it with lazy spinning (single ply, worsted-to-bulky weight; a couple hours at the wheel and voila- done!). I'm spinning some of it thin and chain plying. It's been nearly a year since I've spun anything and boy was there a learning curve getting back into the rhythm of chain plying. 

I've started watching The West Wing for the first time and I spend my weekend mornings watching it (I like it but OMG, the writing is sooooo preachy) and spinning.


[cooking] Pumpkin Pie

This Thanksgiving I'm in charge of desserts. My mom usually just buys an apple and pumpkin pie from King Arthur Flour because (a) the bakery is close, and (b) why wouldn't you? I told her I would make the pies this year. My apple pie game is pretty solid but I haven't made a pumpkin pie since the free class I took at, where else, King Arthur Flour last year. So this seemed like the perfect weekend to try again.

Pumpkin Pie

The filling I made is essentially from this recipe but I used all white sugar and no cloves or black pepper. I mixed the filling and left it in the fridge overnight.

The next day I made the pie dough and rolled it out. Poured in the filling. I cut out lots of little maple leaves from the excess dough I trimmed away and rerolled. I dotted the top of the filling with the leaves and thought, "I wonder why you never see the tops of pumpkin pies decorated? I wonder if this is a bad idea." But it baked up fine. Very pretty, in fact.

I think when I make this again for Thanksgiving, I will include a little bit of ground cloves and black pepper for extra spice.


[crafts] Skull Jack o'lantern

Last year I carved my pumpkin way too early and it was all shriveled up before Halloween. This year, I waited until the week of Halloween. 

Skull Jack o'lantern

The stencil I used is here. I printed it out and taped it to my pumpkin. I opened up one end of a paperclip and poked holes along the pattern, to outline where I would need to cut. Then I used my pumpkin carving tool cut. I accidentally broke off a bit of the skull's jaw on the right, so I had to hold it back in place with a toothpick.

I used a round, tin biscuit cutter (like a donut cutter without the center ring) to clean out the inside of the pumpkin. It was nice and sharp for scraping away all the seeds and gunk on the inside walls. I've used spoons in the past but this biscuit cutter was 100x better.

At night, all lit up:

Skull Jack o'lantern

This was quick- less than an hour to clean and cut. Next year, maybe I'll do two. Or get Dollar to make one as well.


[knitting] Simple Garter Stitch Slippers

Simple Garter Stitch Slippers

I followed the pattern for the Simple Garter Stitch Slippers as written and it was so much easier this time around. I cast on 40 stitches, leaving a tail long enough to whip-stitch the heel closed (it's so unnecessary to do a provisional cast on- which is what I tried the first time I did this pattern). I worked 36 garter stitch ridges before beginning the toe decreases. I didn't work the last 4 stitches so that when I rearranged the final 16 stitches onto two dpn, I could easily kitchener the toe closed. In the end, I only had 2 ends to weave in before doing the crochet border.

Nice, squishy slippers. Will definitely do this pattern again.


[knitting] Dinosaur Cat Hat

One last Halloween hat for the cats. I made the Dinosaur hat from Cats in Hats:

Dinosaur Hat

I used a green/brown tonal yarn. Easy to whip up during a movie like... Jurassic World!

Penny was in bed and I put the hat on her:

Dinosaur Hat

I feel certain that Penny loves wearing these hats. She purrs the entire time and lets me tie the string into a bow under her chin. And then I take a few pictures and pull the hat off. None of the cats end up wearing these hats for more than 60 seconds.

Dinosaur Hat
"Why don't you like this hat, Murderface? It's so warm and cosy!"


[knitting] Banana Cat Hat

Our cat Santana has several nicknames, one of which is "Santana Banana". When I bought the book Cats in Hats, I was delighted to see a Banana Hat.

Working on Santana's Halloween costume

It is ridiculous. Absurd. I had to make it. It only took one hour on Sunday morning to whip up. The base is knit, then the banana is knit, stuffed and attached. Santana was napping peacefully upstairs in her pillow cave. I woke her up to try on the hat:

Santana's Banana hat

She loves it!

She loves her new hat

She probably thought she was still asleep but having a nightmare. She turned her back to me, wedged her head between the pillows and froze.

"Wake up, wake up, wake up. This isn't happening."

I took the hat off, rebuilt the pillow fort around her and let her go back to sleep. But it was totally worth it.

Banana Cat Hat

It is silly and phallic looking. But I'm building up a tidy little collection of cat hats. Perhaps I'll make enough to create a personal calendar in the future.


[crochet] Murderface Monday: Fedora Edition

Got to work this weekend on the cats' Halloween costumes. I wanted to make a cowboy hat for Murderface but it ended up a fedora:

Murderface in the fedora

Pattern is from Cats in Hats. This is the 3rd pattern I've made from the book and I think there might be an error in this particular pattern. It was easier to shape into a fedora than a cowboy hat. But it still turned out super cute. I added a black strand of bulky yarn as an accent.


Seems to really suit Penny:

Penny in the fedora

I'll make a different hat for Murderface. Maybe a posh top hat.