[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.


[crochet] Sophie's Universe: Need more yarn

Still crocheting Sophie's Universe. I got up from the couch for one minute and came back to:

I get up for one minute.

I'm quickly running out of yarn. I'm using single-ply worsted weight wool (or wool blend) and the basket I have of the appropriate type is quickly dwindling. I've used Lamb's Pride worsted weight, Malabrigo merino, Manos del Uruguay Classica, etc. I've put up a trade post in the ISO/Destash group on Ravelry- asking for any yarn of this type (no variegated colorways). I will trade my handspun yarn, spinning fiber, commercial yarn that I have. No nibbles yet. I also found some Lamb's Pride that users are selling on Rav and sent inquiries, but after a bit more digging- the people I asked posted them for sale literally years ago. So, who knows if they're still on Rav.

If there are any readers here who have yarn of this type (full or partial skeins)- I will barter with you. Leave a comment and let me know!


[misc] Rocky Thursday


I would love to clip his nails but we haven't even picked him up yet. We've tried a couple times but he freaks the F out. He growls and bites. So we haven't been pushing it but his nails are going to have to be done eventually. The amount of blood spilled (mine) is yet to be determined.


[knitting] Not-so-simple Garter Stitch Slippers

Looking for something easy to work on, I recently fell in love with a pattern for Simple Garter Stitch Slippers (Rav link). 

Simple garter stitch slippers

The premise is pretty simple- knit a garter stitch rectangle, decrease for the toes, close the toe, close the heel, crochet the top of the foot closed and around the ankle. Voila. 

But I thought "How can I made this, like, SO much harder and tedious?" I wanted to use leftover sock yarn in the stash (gray) and add contrasting stripes periodically.

Simple garter stitch slippers

The pair are fraternal twins. As I started to run out of gray, I had to stagger the two colors every other garter ridge (you can see this at the toe on my right slipper). I also used the contrasting color to kitchener the heel closed (I opted for a provisional cast on):

Simple garter stitch slippers

So basically I had about 4000 ends to weave in at the end of the project. I just looooove making more work for myself.

I like the slippers. The angora yarn I used for the crochet trim is a nice, different texture. I am making another pair because the pattern is truly simple, I just made it in an annoying way for this pair. For the new pair, I'm using a new ball of sock yarn, held double. No provisional cast on- not necessary. I just left a long enough tail when casting on to sew the heel closed. To close the toe, I didn't work the last 4 stitches so that when they're rearranged onto 2 dpns, I kitchenered it closed. One slipper is done (sans the crochet border) and I had 2 ends to weave in. Finally, simplicity!


[knitting] Aran Afghan Square #13

A picture of finished square #13:

Aran Afghan Square #13

It ended up so large. I think when it comes time to sew everything together, I'll need to mark each square with the stitch number along the sides, to ensure that I sew everything evenly without any puckering at corners.


[misc] Murderface Monday

So, the weather has turned to this:

Snow, Oct. 18

It's cold and the cats have become extra cuddly. Murderface came to lay on my chest Sunday morning on the couch. Penny came up, too. I thought, "Aww they're going to cuddle together to stay warm" because I'm naive. Instead, Penny wanted Murderface to GTFO so she could have his space. She chomped down on his neck:

Penny and Murderface

Instead of breaking up, I just continued to take pictures:


Sorry, Murderface.

In the end, Murderface didn't budge (or retaliate- way to take the high road, buddy) and Penny ran away to find another spot rather than SHARE a warm spot. Not that it mattered, I moved Murderface to get up after a short amount of time. Poor guy- he just can't catch a break.


[cooking] Heirloom Apples!

Last weekend I went to Poverty Lane to pick more apples. Just when I had finally finished all the McIntosh and Cortland apples that I picked in September, I went back to get more. Their Heirloom Orchard was open for the season and that's were you can get lots of different, rare, interesting apples. I printed off the handy PDF list and went on a beautiful fall day:

Foliage at Poverty Lane

The apple list indicates the variety name, tree number and whether or not it's appropriate for eating, cooking, cider, etc. I really only wanted to pick good eating/cooking apples. If I saw a tree that looked good, I picked a little apple of to eat and see if I liked it. Some apples were so interesting- I swear one kind tasted like vanilla!

Heirloom Apple Picking

I brought all kinds of paper lunch bags and a marker, to keep the different kinds of apples separate. Back at home, I still put them into a bowl together.


The little Wicksons in the middle are so tasty. The gold ones on the left have a rough skin and are called Hudson's Golden Gem. The weird shaped ones on the right are called Calville Blanc d'hiver.

I tried a couple small Pomme Grise with a new Cabot cheese:

Cheese and apples

It's hard to get tired of apples with all these varieties!

I wanted to cook with apples last night for supper. I took out some frozen puff pastry shells (the box had been in the freezer for nearly a year, oops). I made a simple filling of sauteed bacon, shallots and apple. Off the heat, I mixed in some crumbled Jasper Hill blue cheese. I baked the shells, spooned in the filling and baked a bit longer. 

Appetizers for supper

Appetizers for supper because I'm gangster. Actually, it was good I tested this out in case I want to do it again for a party. The apples that I used were soooo sweet that it balanced with the salty bacon and rich blue cheese. If I had used a more tart apple, I might have added a drizzle of honey or maple syrup to the filling (I love blue cheese with honey). 

Dollar doesn't dig blue cheese so he had a ham, apple, melted cheddar sandwich. I'm definitely looking for more savory ways to use apples. I've made two apple pies and an apple crisp this fall and I'm kind of over apple desserts. Until Thanksgiving.


[knitting] Aran Afghan Square #14

Still working on afghan squares:

Aran afghan square #14

Two more squares to go. I feel like I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel in terms of patterns left in the booklet that I want to do. I've been avoiding some that look exceptionally fiddly to work but I'm going to have to do them eventually. Currently all these patterns are from The Great American Aran Afghan booklet and I'm wondering if I should dip into my other The Great American Afghan book to look for aran-y patterns. Maybe...


[crochet] Sophie's Universe: Part 4

I finished Part 3 of Sophie's Universe back in April and set aside the project for Sock Madness. Then summer happened. Now that the weather is cooling off, I picked the project back up and squared-up the circle over the holiday weekend:

Squaring up my circle

I particularly like the colors I used for the corner flowers- they look like sunflowers!

Sunflower corner

The one yarn requirement for this blanket is worsted-weight single ply wool (or wool blend) from my stash. No buying yarn. Which means I can't be too picky about colors. So far I've used:

- Green Mountain Spinnery Mountain Mohair
- Malabrigo worsted
- Manos del Uruguay
- Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride worsted (found a cache of unused skeins in a box above a bookcase! WOOOOOO!!)
- Harrisville Designs Orchid with Cashmere
- Harrisville Designs Flax & Wool Blend
- Navajo-Churro wool from local farm
- Mystery bag of wool from Senior Center

I'm on to Chart 5 and it's getting hard to complete a round without running out of the color I'm using. So I'll just keep going and add/use what colors I have. I will not buy more yarn.* 

The project is getting big and heavy. The cats are circling it like sharks smelling blood in the water:

The cats want the blanket. Now.

Penny's the worst. She has heat-seeking vision like a Predator. If I have this on my lap, she'll drop out of nowhere and try to get on it. If I'm lucky, I can put her under the blanket and continue to work on it on top of her while she purrs.

*I might buy more yarn.


[misc] Santana Tuesday

Santana, looking pretty cute and happy:


Happy because she's in Muderface's spot on the bed. Silly girl.

Had an awesome three day weekend. Great weather for peak fall foliage. Friday I got an Amazon order so we had good movies to watch during the weekend. I went apple picking on Saturday and did the Patriots/Cowboys game on Sunday. Monday was just for finishing up some knitting projects and adding to a crochet blanket. We had the windows open all day. 


[cooking] Shakshuka

I'm in love with shakshuka. I don't know why I don't make it more- it's so tasty and inexpensive.


Sautéed onions in olive oil. Added the last of the peppers from the garden: three banana peppers, a jalapeño and bell pepper. Add chopped garlic. Cumin and coriander. Diced tomatoes. Salt. Taste. Eggs to poach. Serve with bread (I would have preferred softer naan but I had a loaf from King Arthur Flour that I needed to kill). Easy.


What's not to like- warm bread dipped in and smeared with runny eggs and tomato-y peppers. You can always add feta cheese to make it a more substantial meal but I really don't feel like this needed it. As long as you have enough bread. 

Three day weekend, here I come!


[misc] Bedtime

I try to stay awake in bed, to read or mess around on the iPad, then I look over to see Murderface:


So comfy, so passed out., so... sleepy... I roll over and turn out the light. He's just too warm against me, snoring... lulling me to sleep.


[knitting] Aran Afghan Square #13

Went back to working on squares for the aran afghan:

Aran afghan square #13

I'm using up every ball of yarn but I should have enough to finish 16 squares total (for a 4x4 blanket) and sew them all together. Will probably need to buy a few more balls for the cabled border but it's okay if those are a  different dye lot.

Yay for fall and cooler weather- I'm so happy to get back into knitting. I want to make a hundred different things.


[misc] Santana Tuesday

Early morning cuteness:


Today's my birthday- going to take it tres casual. Kind of partied hard last night. Woke up to Penny under the covers with me, tucked into my armpit. Santana by my head. Murderface at my waist. Dollar next to me. Feeling very content and happy :)


[vermont] 2015 Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival

Went to the Sheep and Wool Festival on Saturday with my sister. It was a great day- cool but sunny. Looked like a great turnout and I was impressed that the festival has really improved on the food vendors present- lots of new options.

Alert sheepdogs waiting to perform some herding demos:

VT Sheep and Wool Festival

Walking through the vendors, I want everything (of course). How can you not?

VT Sheep and Wool Festival

I was really restrained this year- so much so that I contemplated going back on Sunday just to buy more. #yarnaddiction. I bought yarn to make a rainbow stripe study shawl, a skein of sock yarn and a small ball of wool to spin and enter at the VT Farm Show. That's it. I keep reminding myself that I already have an insane amount of yarn and fiber to spin.

I distracted myself with all the adorable animals:

VT Sheep and Wool Festival

VT Sheep and Wool Festival

VT Sheep and Wool Festival

And grump little felted creatures:

VT Sheep and Wool Festival

Looking forward to next year!


[knitting] Disco Moss Cowl

Sequin biased cowl

Pattern: Totally Biased (rav link)

Yarn: 'Adele' by Stacy Charles Fine Yarn, 3.5 balls

Needles: US 8

Mods: Cast on 76 st. Knit until loop would be long enough to be worn doubled around the neck, then grafted both ends closed.

I've made this pattern so many times; I love it. It's a good yarn-eater and customizable. 

Sequin biased cowl

The color in the pictures is a little washed out. It's a bit darker in real  life with small rainbow sequins all over. Very nice and sparkly in artificial light. Will definitely get a lot of wear this winter. 


[knitting] Moose Manor Hat

Another finished handspun hat, using yarn spun from a Moose Manor braid of fiber:

Handspun Hat

I started this hat back in April but only just got around to taking a picture and closing out the project on Ravelry. These fold-over brimmed hats w/pompoms are great for using up all (or nearly all) of a 4oz spun skein of yarn.

Original fiber:

Moose Manor Hand Paints

2-ply yarn:

Moose Manor Hand Paints