Friday

[knitting] Cotton Ease Socks

My travel knitting for DC last week was a pair of worsted-weight socks for Dollar in Cotton Ease:

Boot socks

I started these in December, sure that I would be able to finish in time for the pair to be a Christmas gift. But these plain socks are just so boring, I can't help tossing them aside for a project more fun and interesting. Well what better place to force myself to finish them than an airport and airplane. I finished these socks in no time. And Dollar loves them, which is always a nice reward.

After finishing the shawl and baby sweater, in a fit of "I want to knit but I don't know what to knit", I started a new pair of socks:

Cotton socks

Oh no. This is usually the point where I go, "Bored now" and start scanning my stash for something else.

The yarn is Lion Brand Cotton Ease, now discontinued. I bought a bunch of  discounted balls from Craftsy for ~$3 each, so that brings each handknit pair of socks to ~$6 each. Less than that, actually, since I'll be able make another pair from the leftovers. This is good practice/training for Sock Madness!

TGIF. I cleaned/tidied like crazy yesterday. I need tons of new storage, though. 

Thursday

[knitting] Handspun Eyelet Yoke Baby Cardigan

Another little sweater for the niece:

New eyelet yoke sweater, in handspun this time. Sleeves may be a little short- I used every inch of the yarn I had. Fiber is superwash merino and seacell. #knitting #handspun #babyknits

Pattern: Eyelet Yoke Baby Cardigan

Yarn: Handspun MerSea- superwash merino and seacell.

Needles: US 6

Notes: I remembered to add the eyelet pattern to the bottom hem this time. The sweater ended up kind of large. I worked both sleeves at the same time from either end of the yarn I had, to use up every. last. inch. Still, I think the sleeves ended up a smidge too short.

So I have a few little sweaters that need finishing in the form of wash/dry/buttons.

I'm down to only a few WIPs. I'm going to wrap up the last pussyhat and cotton ease socks before the first Sock Madness pattern drops next week.

Wednesday

[knitting] Funfetti Shawl - complete

Finished and blocked the Funfetti shawl this past weekend:

Glitz at the Ritz after blocking. This ended up being a nice little shawl. I don't even mind the "oops I ran out of yarn" blue border. #knitting #shawlknitting #glitzattheritz

Pattern: Gitz at the Ritz (free from Knitty)

Yarn: Uh, some unlabeled mystery tweed from some long-ago VT or NH Sheep and Wool Festival. Not helpful. Sorry.

Needles: US 6

As I start working on the open boarder, I realized I was going to run out of yarn. I dove into the stash to look for a similar-weight yarn in a contrasting yet complimentary color. I came back with some navy blue Harrisville Shetland (leftover from these mittens):

Well I don't have enough of the tweed to finish the shawl so I think the border is going to be knit with a contrast blue. I'm sure it will look fine. 😅😁😬😐😕☹️

Before blocking: 

Obligatory "before blocking" picture. This shawl is full of bees 🐝 🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝. I mean, beads. 💎💎💎💎💎💎💎.

During blocking:

Shawl blocking

Used blocking wires, which I hadn't used in a long time.

Overall I'm very happy with it. Love all different colored beads working with the different colored neps in the yarn:

Glitz at the Ritz

Glitz at the Ritz

After blocking it ended up being a nice-sized shawl. Was a quick knit and used up lots of stash beads. I think the blue boarder works well- it picks up the blue neps in the yarn.


Tuesday

[vermont] Holiday weekend

Was a nice, sunny three-day weekend. Did most everything I set out to and went snowshoeing Sunday through the back yard:

Photo

There are lots of nice trails through the back woods, leftover from when the loggers were here a few years ago. 

Nice day to snowshoe through the back yard.

Back at the house, I checked out the gourds hanging on the garden fence:

Birdhouse gourds have been hanging there all winter. They sound nice and hollow and dry with an outer layer peeling away. Will cut them down in the spring and make some bird houses.

They are nice and dry and sounded hollow when I knocked on them. In the spring, I will cut them down and make a bunch of nice birdhouses. Speaking of spring, mud season is right around the corner. I can't wait to start gardening again, enough though that is still months away :/

I did some goooooood cooking this weekend. A homemade Cubano:

Homemade  cubano for lunch. Couldn't resist after having one in DC.

Homemade pulled pork, swiss cheese, pickles, ham, dijon mustard, homemade bread. Got to take out my rarely-used panini press to heat up these sandwiches. I comes out so rarely, Dollar asked, "Is that new? When did we got that?" It's not new but I've only used it once or twice. It mostly stays hidden away in the pantry with a bunch of stuff piled on top of it.

Speaking of bread, I finally splurged on a dough bucket:

Dough bucket

I say splurged but it's only $15. For nearly a year, since I've started keeping a regular batch of no-knead dough in the fridge, I've been using a massive Amish bowl that my mom gave me. It's large, it's heavy, it takes up 25% of the available real estate in the fridge. Since I mix up a large amount of dough to keep for whenever we feel like bread or pizza, it felt like that gigantic bowl would be in there forever, taunting me to "hurry up and use this dough... don't you want all this fridge space back? do you like playing tetris with the bread and tupperware- and why did you buy the OJ with the weird-shaped bottle? you know it doesn't fit on the door."

Anyway, this dough bucket is better. Smaller by a long shot and it even has a fancy-pants cover, so I can rest stuff on top of it if I have to (which I wasn't able to do with the Amish bowl since it was always just covered with saran wrap).

While I was at King Arthur Flour to get the dough bucket, I received a free mix with my purchase. I whipped it up on Saturday:

Went into KAF last week and got a free mix. I love it when mine turn out just like the picture on the box. 💯😎


I think it's very good- although it had a distinct eggnog flavor for me. I asked Dollar what he thought but he couldn't answer around all the coffee cake he was eating. He LOOOOOVED this mix. 

Meh, sweets schmeets. Give me savory any day. Monday, I whipped up a brunch pizza for us with some of that no-knead dough:

Breakfast pizza: ham cheese egg scallion. Homemade no knead dough. 🍕

OMG this f'ing pizza. I pushed the dough out on some parchment paper, topped with ham (leftover from the cubanos) and mozz cheese, then baked on a pre-heated 500 degree pizza stone for 5 min, then added two eggs and baked another 6 min. Then topped thinly sliced scallions and a sprinkle of salt. This was heaven. 

For dinner, I recreated the Feb. 14 dinner I had in DC for my Valentine at home:

Recreating my Feb. 14 dinner in DC for my Valentine at home. Garlic-rosemary lamb chops, creamy polenta, snow peas, balsamic reduction.

Lamb chops, creamy polenta, snow peas, balsamic reduction. I seared a garlic-rosemary-balsamic marinated rack of lamb in a pan on the stove, then transferred to a 400 degree oven for 10 min. I let it rest then cut the chops. Made some coarse polenta on the stove and quickly sauteed snow peas. I plated everything and then drizzled a balsamic reduction. 

Back to the grind now and easy weekday meals (aka. ramen). I think my next challenge is going to be vegan King Cake to bring in to work before Mardis Gras next week. Which won't be too much of a challenge. I'll roll out some bread dough (flour, yeast, salt, water) and slather with a paste of vegan butter plus cinnamon. Then hide the baby, roll it up, make into a ring and bake. That's all vegan, right? Wait. What about the frosting and glitter. I guess I'll check the ingredients of the glitter tonight and I assume I can use some soymilk and powdered sugar for the glaze. If the glitter isn't vegan, the entire vegan plan is going to be scrapped and we're going full-on carnivore. You can't have King Cake without the purple, gold and green glitter.

Friday

[misc] Kitty Friday

Some recent pictures of the cats:

Murderface:

❤️🐯❤️

Bedtime buddy.

Santana:

Santanner bananner. :tiger::banana:

Penny:

🐯💤💤💤💤💤💤

Penny

Penny had her annual vet visit last weekend. Everything's fine, apart from tartar buildup. It looks like we're going to have to spend $$$ for a dental visit for her.

TGIF. Looking forward to a three day weekend. Got supplies to cook some nice stuff (rack of lamb! roast beef! homemade cubano sandwiches!). Going to take the snowshoes out for a spin in all this nice, new snow. Finish up the handspun baby sweater and maybe the funfetti shawl. And start something new? Or go back to the Sophie's Universe afghan like I keep saying I will? Clean the house? Make a King Cake to bring in to work on Tue? Hm. All this planning makes me want to take a nap.

Thursday

[travel] Eating around DC

Was in DC for a few days early in the week. No pictures from the conference but it was good- the keynote speaker from the National Audubon Society was great and it was interesting to see how they're using GIS in their efforts toward the conservation of birds. There is a really cool Plants For Birds section to their website, where you can search for native plants based on your zip code and find trees/shrubs/flowers that benefit specific species. Even with all the wild land around me, I'm going to pick up a few new shrubs that I don't have (specifically witch-hazel, pussy willow, snowberry) and put them around for the birds.

Anyway, the rest of my time was spent drinking and eating around the city. One of the first places I visited was the DC Milk Bar:

My first Milk Bar visit. Cold brew coffee and cookie.

I was so looking forward to this and was kind of disappointed. The cold brew coffee was meh and I got one of the famous cookies to go: cornflake-chocolate chip-marshmallow cookie. I know, it's my own fault for ordering something with ingredients like that but it (a) hurt my teeth, and (b) was greasy. It was kind of gross, honestly. I'll chalk this up as a place that doesn't live up to the hype.

Went to Lauriol Plaza for dinner one night. My go-to order at any Mexican place is carne asada- if they do that well, then I know the place is good. This carne asada was the best I've ever had in my life, hands down, no joke. Even thinking about it now makes me angry that I won't be able to have it again until I go back down. It was a strip of skirt steak (not chunks of meat like carne asada usually comes as) perfectly med-rare on a skillet with peppers and onions. Guac and tomato salsa on the side. Warm tortillas. Bowls of rice and stew-y beans (not refried beans). It was excellent.

Got my Happy Hour DC oyster fix:

Oysters!

Mmm, briney oysters from MA and RI.

One morning, I went to Smoked & Stacked behind the convention center. I ordered the Cali Girl breakfast sandwich: cured salmon, over easy egg, avocado, tomato and sprouts. 

Breakfast. Salmon egg avocado tomato sprouts. Cold brew.

And their nitro draft cold brew coffee was ridiculously good. So good, in fact, that I came back in the afternoon for another.


Best Cubano yesterday at Busboys and Poets. And excellent bloody marys, as well.

Cubano sandwich. Again, this is another thing that if I see it on a menu, I'll order it. A touch heavy on the mayo but definitely one of the best I've ever head. The entire menu at this place looks excellent. Great baby kale side salad and bloody marys, too. Will come back here for sure when I'm in town again.

Last dinner was at Virtue Feed & Grain in Alexandria. I've been before before and their pork shank dinner is fantastic. This time I got one of their Valentine entrees: lamb chops, creamy polenta, snow peas and a balsamic reduction. Everything I love. I had to stop myself from licking the plate clean. This meal was so good and something I'm going to try to replicate at home asap. Like maybe this weekend to make up for being away during Valentine's Day this year.

Friday

[knitting] Funfetti

Started a new shawl- Glitz at the Ritz:

Next shawl... #knitting

I have no info on the yarn other than I bought it a long time ago at a VT or NH Sheep and Wool festival. It's tweed with multi-colored neps, fairly rustic and not very soft. I went through my bead stash (I bought quite a few vials of beads from Joanns years ago when they were having a 99c clearance sale) and found a mix that I liked.

So far:

Tweed wool and beads makes this shawl look like funfetti. 🎉 #knitting #shawlknitting #beadknitting #funfetti

I like it. It reminds me of Pillsbury Funfetti cake. I don't think the beads are getting lost in the yarn- I think the neps and beads compliment each other and give an all-over-speckle-y look. Can't wait to finish this and block it.

Will be traveling a bit next week and I've got to figure out my plane knitting. Probably the new handspun eyelet yoke baby sweater I started... and a pair of socks for Dollar that I never finished in time for Christmas. Looks like they will be his Valentine's gift. 

Thursday

[knitting] More Pussyhats

Time for more pussyhats:

More pussyhats. #pussyhatproject


The hot pink bulky one is complete (just used cheap-o house acrylic from Michaels) but I ran out of Cascade 220 Superwash for the lighter pink one. So I went back to the original project that I originally purchased the yarn for... but never completed.

Rrrrriiiiiip. No regrets, this ugly thing has remained unfinished in storage for nearly a decade. The yarn will be happier as something else.

It's meant to be a shrug from back in the day when shrugs were a thing. It fit weird- the sleeves too long, the shoulders too square. I never set in the second sleeve and this thing has been living at the bottom of a yarn basket for nearly 10 years. So to the frog pond it went:

Ripped sweater. Will skien and wash to get out the kinks.

I had zero remorse about ripping this thing back. The yarn will be happier as something else.

I wound all the balls into skeins:

Kinky yarn, skeined

Now they are ready to be washed and hopefully all that kinkiness will relax. 

Tuesday

[knitting] Eyelet Yoke Cardigan- finished

Wrapped up this little project over the weekend:

Little eyelet yoke cardigan off the needles. Just needs buttons. #knitting

Pattern: Eyelet Yoke Baby Cardigan

Yarn: Berroco Comfort DK print, 2 balls

Needles: US 6

Notes: Was so worried about running out of yarn but I have plenty left over. I'm even tempted to rip back the bottom and make the sweater longer (plus, I forgot to do the eyelet round along the bottom- oops). Maybe.

I've started another cardigan (same pattern) with superwash handspun yarn. Then I'll add buttons to both at the same time.

Monday

[knitting] Knit and Crochet Bags

The bags are finished!

Knit 👛 ✅ #knitting #Ravelry

Pattern for the knit bag: Cabled Bag (note: my bag is a little deeper and I didn't do the X's and O's cables)

Yarn for the knit bag: Plymouth Galway worsted. This yarn kind of picks of lint and fur like a mofo.


Crochet tote ✅ Zipper, fabric lining and straps makes this bag so nice! #crochet #Ravelry


Pattern for the crochet bag: Mermaid Tears Purse.

Yarn for the crochet bag: Cascade Casablanca, discontinued but any worsted yarn with long stripes would work nicely.

The cabled bag is knit as one long piece. I folded it in half and seamed the sides. 

The crochet bag is worked in the round. I finished with a couple single crochet rounds at the top and then seamed the bottom shut.

The end result is that both bags are flat, enveloped shaped bags (which made sewing fabric linings so much easier).


Here's the black zipper being pinned to the knit bag:

Sewing a zipper into a knit bag

It took three tries to get the zipper pinned just right. The knit fabric is thick so that when it was pinned to the zipper all the way around, the zipper was very wavy. So I re-pinned, kind of stretching out the knit fabric before pinning. Holding the project with the knit side facing me, I sewed the zipper to the cabled bag using the knit stitches of the bind off round to guide me. I would pull the thread between two knit stitches, go over one, through the zipper to the back and then up between the next two stitches. Over under over under over under every other stitch. This hid the sewing thread really nicely on the right side as well.

I did the same for the crochet bag- opened up the zipper, pinned into place (three times- had to do it over again and again until I got it right), then sewed the zipper to the inside (over and under every other single crochet).

Zippers sewn into knit and crochet bags. Next up: sewing in fabric linings (background).

Then I spent 10 - 15 minutes zipping the bags open and closed, marveling that the bags zip open and zip closed and I made that happen. Then I showed Dollar that the bags zip open and shut. Then I showed the cats. 

The fabric lining was easy to do since these were flat, rectangular bags. I cut the fabric 1/4 inch wider than the measured width and 1/2 inch taller than the measured height. With the right sides facing one another, I sewed three sides and then folded over and ironed the top open. 

Fabric linings

Then pin the fabric to the inside, on top of the zipper.

Pinning in the fabric lining to the crocheted purse. 👜

Sew the lining through the zipper fabric and over/under all the knit and crochet stitches that were missed when you did the zipper. The stitches can be seen on the inside of bag but if you use a heavy thread that matches the yarn color, you really can't see any of these stitches on the right side of the bag.

Zipper and lining:

Two fabric linings sewn in. Just have the bag straps to see on.

Then all that was left was attaching handles. I had a couple cheap-o sets hanging around and just whipstitched over the bottom half of the rings, through the knit/crochet and interior fabric. It looks a little messy on the inside but I just wanted to get the handles on and start using these bags.

This was a great learning experience and confidence booster. I was worried that hand sewing would be awful but it really only took 30 min to go around to do the zipper in each bag and another 30 min to do the lining. Easy to do during a movie at home. I'm ready to queue and make more bags with proper zippers and linings.

Friday

[cooking] Pizzaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh


Pulling this out of the oven, I could hear angels singing:

And then there was pizza. 😇🍕😇

TGIF. Michael's is opening today is West Leb and I'm going tomorrow to check it out. Then Super Bowl Sunday. And a buncha craft projects to finish up. And a bunch more to start.

Thursday

[knitting] Moonlight Sonata shawl

Shawl complete:

Moonlight Sonata shawl. ❤️ Super fancy photo shoot in pjs and ponytail. #knitting #laceknitting #moonlightsonatashawl

Pattern: Moonlight Sonata

Needles: US 6

Yarn: 100% linen yarn from Finland, gifted to me

Moonlight Sonata shawl

I started this shawl last summer, with plans to bring it to San Diego. I didn't finish in time (story of my knitting liiiiiiife) and it kind of sat at the bottom of the knitting basket until a few weeks ago. I'm still trying to finish dormant WIPs.

I did the picot bind off, which gobbled up yarn like crazy and took 4.5 hours. Here's the blob (the lighting makes the yarn look lighter than it actually is):

This blob is finally off the needles. Bind off only took 4.5 hours. 😅 #knitting #laceknitting

I usually do an extra-stretchy bind off for shawls by knitting a stitch, knitting another stitch, moving the two stitches back to the left hand needle and then k2tog through the back loops. Then knit another stitch, move the two stitches back to the left hand needle and k2tog through the back loops, etc. There's no passing stitches over other stitches. This eats up yarn, especially for this project when factoring in the picot and you're casting on and casting off two new stitches throughout the bind off. 

Anyway, I sewed in ends and gave it a warm soak in Eucalan Wrapture in the Jasmine scent (omg this shawl smells so good now) and blocked:

Shawl is blocking. #knitting #laceknitting

It looks extra dark above because the yarn is damp.

This is the most accurate color:

The shawl is linen so it should last forever, right? #knitting #laceknitting #moonlightsonatashawl

I love love loveit. Used my DyakCraft wooden needles to knit it. The pattern was free. The yarn was free. I thought about squirreling this shawl away to be entered into the fair this coming fall but I don't think I'm going to be able to resist wearing/using it this summer. 

Wednesday

[knitting] Eyelet Yoke Cardigan- a beginning

Starting a new project for the niece:

New baby sweater for the niece. 💚💕💙💜💛

I have two balls of Berroco Comfort DK Print. I'm using US 6 needles and the sweater is coming out kind of large. Could end up being a short-sleeved cardigan if I run out of yarn. This is an easy, small project to pick up and work on here and there when I have some time to fill. 

I'm still working on finishing the knit and crochet bags- the zippers and linings have been sewn in. Now to attach the bag handles and they're done. It has actually been a great experience and I'm ready to start queuing more bag patterns now that I'm not longer afraid to give my hand knit and crocheted bags a proper finish.

The Moonlight Sonata shawl is done and blocked. Got to find time/light to take pictures. I think the next shawl is going to be Glitz at the Ritz (which will use up mad beads, yo).

I'm obsessed with this Inner Beast crochet pattern. What a great use for scraps and leftovers! I have to make one! If you're on Ravelry, look up all the finished objects- they're wonderful.

Sign-ups for Sock Madness 11 start today and run through the month of Feb. Instructions are in the Sock Madness Forever group on Rav. I'm signed up and this will be my third Madness. I only make it through 3 - 4 pairs of socks before I'm eliminated but I've added many new, beautiful socks to my collection thanks to this competition.