Liberate the Needles, Plus Dr. Al is Totally Going to Haiti!

What’s my new sock-knitting obsession? My US 1 Grafton (now known as Dyak CraftDarn Pretty dpns. They’re wonderful…I don’t even usually like non-metal needles, but I love these. I actually feel a little bad for my old Susan Bates US 1 set, which have been naked for longer than I can even remember…but only a little.

I got the Grafton’s in Vermont this past October, then I picked up some Socks that Rock Lightweight at Stitches East later in the month. Ever since, a certain pair of socks have been on them. Well, I decided it was time to liberate my lovely needles, and these are finally finished!

My Bloody Rainbows

The pattern is Bloody Mary (Rav link) by Sandra Parkes. It’s really just a simple twisted-stitch and slipped-stitch rib pattern, but for a colorway this intense…well, the stitch pattern kind of has to be simple. These shouldn’t really have taken as long as they did, but they turned into my lunchtime-at-work project and lingered for a while.

One sock pooled, and one striped, but I still like them quite a bit. And they’re pretty comfy socks.

Stripes and Pools

I was pretty nervous about yardage when knitting these. For a while, I didn’t think I’d have enough to finish the second sock. It worked out in the end, but there wasn’t a lot leftover of that skein. While the colors are deep and vibrant, I’m not sure I’ll list Socks that Rock as one of my favorite sock yarns quite yet. For the price and the yardage you get, I’m not sure it was totally worth it. That being said, I’m pretty happy with the finished socks.

I’m also pretty happy that my needles were finally ready for a new project. They didn’t stay empty for long though!

Love, love, love how the reds and browns work together!

This Creatively Dyed yarn, also picked up at Stitches East, has been screaming at me from the stash, just waiting to be worked with. It’s quickly becoming a pair of Monkey socks (Rav link)! This is classic Cookie A., and I’m a little ashamed to say that this is my first time knitting this pattern. I know…it’s like sock-knitter sacrilege. But, no worries; I’m going all-out now!

I’m going eight pattern repeats for the legs, instead of six, because 1) I have more than enough yarn and 2) I want them a little taller. Even with the extra repeats, they’re working very quickly. The first sock is already done, and the second is three repeats in. And this is one generous hank of yarn–over 5oo yards–so there’ll be lots of leftovers on this one.

And the Graftons are getting much love. They might just be the *perfect* double pointed needles…and that’s saying a lot!

In other, important news: The effort to Send Dr. Al to Haiti to Save Lives was a resounding success! Not only was the goal met, it was totally exceeded. Dr. Allison will be leaving for Haiti in just a couple short weeks, bringing her medical knowledge and 70 pounds of medical supplies to people very much in need.

Personally, it bring tears to my eyes to think about how many people came out of the woodwork to help–close friends, old friends, mutual friends and complete strangers. The Facebook group has more than 200 members–and it’s only been live for one week. In just one week, so much was accomplished. I’m so proud of Dr. Al and of each and every person who offered their support, monetary or otherwise. It’s been a very moving and inspiring week!

Ishbel, Plus: Help Send Dr. Al to Haiti!

I seem to have a thing for viral patterns lately. I guess you could call it “jumping onto a bandwagon,” but as I see it, they’re viral for a reason. They appeal to people with a broad variety of tastes, different likes and dislikes, for whatever reason. People just want to knit them.

Ishbel (rav link) is one of those patterns. And I understand why.

Ishbel

It’s fabulous. There is so much to love about this pattern. It knits up very quickly, and it’s very well written. It’s stylish, and uses the lace pattern very effectively.

Plus, it’s just plain pretty.

Love how Madori (and her puppy stairs) made it into this one

I knit it in Malabrigo Sock, the “Eggplant” colorway, and it’s a beautifully deep and dusky purple. I knit it on what’s shaping up to be my new favorite needle–my US 6 Addi Lace–and the yarn just opened up into this light, flowing fabric after a  good wet block on the wires. It’s really quite spectacular knit at this gauge.

On my fab and fluffy (sorry, sheepie, it isn’t vegan) new rug, for contrast

I wasn’t sure when I cast on what version of Ishbel I would knit. But it evolved into a large stockinette, small lace version, and I’m really happy with that decision. I started with the garter-stitch-pick-up thingy that so many top-down shawls seem to use, and I really like that technique. I like how the ridges of garter across the top are seamless and continuous across the entire shawl.

I also really like the yarn-overs on the right and wrong sides at the edging throughout the entire pattern. It’s a nice design element, and I like the softness it gives to the edging.

Voila!

So, another FO down! Feels like my needles are on fire lately, but that’ll slow down soon enough, unfortunatly.

In two bits of unrelated news: First, I won Chopped Tomatoes’s yarn-naming competition and a skein of her new Heavenly Infusion laceweight wool/cashmere blend! Woot! I chose her “Thicket” colorway, and I can’t wait to play with it! A little Aeolian, maybe? Some Evelyn Clark, perhaps? We shall see! You really should go check out her stuff, though. Her color palate is really, really beautiful. Thank you so much, Machelle!

Finally, Dr. Allison is a real doctor and fabulous person…so fabulous that she’s trying to go to Haiti to provide medical care to victims of the earthquake. She needs to raise little more than $1,000 to do it, though, and we need to help her! If you can give $5, $10, $20 or even more, every little bit will help! So please please please visit her blog, get in touch with her and lend her a helping hand.

Or, if you’re on Facebook, go to the Send Dr. Al to Haiti to Save Lives page for details on how you can donate. And invite your friends or give us a status update. Together, we will get Dr. Al to Haiti!!

This is one charity that absolutly gets the Weaselmomma stamp of approval!!

555 Yards of Pain, or Finally Moving On to Much Happier Projects

What’s shiny and drapy and was nothing but hell to work with from start to finish?

:::hate:::

Why, it’s the dreaded soy silk, of course! And it’s plied and finished and done done done!

I have never had a finished skein of handspun lose so much dye in the wash. This stuff bled and bled and bled. Thankfully, it’s not feltable, because I was not gentle with it at all. But hey, this has caused some serious frustration over the past year. Had to get it out.

It took close to 15 minutes of rinsing alone (not counting the soaking) to get the water to an “almost clear” state. I suspect it’ll bleed more when it’s finally knit and washed, but my fingers were getting pruny. Just couldn’t take it anymore.

This did, however, sort of confirm what I thought all along: This was so tough to work with because the dye job was really not so hot. While this may not be typical of soy silk, though, I’m not ready to try my had at spinning straight soy top again any time soon.

555 Yards of Pain

I have to admit: The finished yarn is pretty. Despite the knots and the thick-and-thin and the fuzzy sections and the broken plies kinda spliced back together, it’s very pretty. The bamboo silk ply gives this an amazing shine. There’s no memory to these fibers whatsoever, and even in the skein, the drape is fantastic. And despite the drama, the skein is perfectly balanced and with 555 yards of light fingering weight in total, there’s a lot of it.

Pretty, but evil…

It’ll be some time before I actually knit with this, though. It is so full of bad energy, bad karma, we need some time apart to reconcile before I attempt to actually make something out of it.

I’m so glad it’s done, though.

In happier project news, I whipped up a quick skein of handspun: a 100 percent merino single spun from a transitional-colorway batt from Sara’s Texture Crafts. Sara has lovely fibers, and her stuff shipped very quickly from the UK. I was very eager to spin this 1.6 ounce batt.

Love the colorway

I worked to maintain the beauty of the batt. And it came out pretty well. It was a little scary to take it off the niddy noddy, because it turned into a mess of curly yarns.

Ick!

After a good couple washes….

Soaking in some hot water and Soak…ready for some fulling

….a little bit of felting, and some dry time, though, it finished pretty well. Still a couple twists here and there, but for my first single, it’s pretty well balanced and I’m pretty happy with it.

Lovely laceweight singles

Up next: A beautiful project just flys off the needles…

Oh, lace…how you inspire me…

Cast On, Cast Off

Things have been busy at La Casa de Weasel lately, and with my annual busy time at work rapidly approaching, I’m cramming in all the household improvements and crafting time that I can right now. Soon, I won’t have the time or energy for too much else besides work. 

Busy time means long hours, which Madori isn’t fond of either.

Oh, hai! I has a coot lil underbite!

She’s thoroughly enjoying the good life now, though, especially with it being so cold outside!

With the impending doom of busy time right around the corner, projects have been flying onto and off of the needles. First came my Citron (Rav link).

Voila!

This was a test of willpower, and I’m proud to say I perservered. Towards the end of the project, there were nearly 550 stitches on the needle…and I had to work twelve rows like that, then bind off, to put in the final ruffle. Those were some long, long stockinette rows. It was worth the effort, though. In the end, my eyelets weren’t terrible off, only a couple stitches or so, and it’s not really noticable when the scarflette is on.

Rocking the wee daisy as well

And Malabrigo…oh, Malabrigo….I may be suffering from a slight addiction problem at the moment. I can’t really seem to get enough Malabrigo right now. And it’s not that I don’t have some really nice, high-quality fibers stashed away right now, just waiting for my fingertips…it’s just…well…there’s nothing else in this world like Malabrigo!

I’ve worked with Malabrigo Lace before, but once is never enough. Knit at this gauge, the fabric is lightweight, but substantial, drapy and soft and just wonderful to wear. No ichies or pricklies at all. These photos do the colorway no justice, either. “VAA” is a deep, dark green with highlights of blue and brown. It’s really just amazing.

Hi, my name is Weaselmomma, and I’m a Malabrigo addict.

Next off my needles came a quick yet satisfying project: Jared Flood’s Turn-a-Square (Rav link).

Is purty, no?

I know…again with the hats! But this knit up in a matter of hours…total instant gratification. The main color is worsted weight merino yak blend purchased ages ago from School Products, and the stripes are from my Precious, my first Navajo plied handspun. The merino yak has been knit and frogged so many times; it just never worked with another project, and the way the yarn is plied (or actually, not plied…it’s literally six seperate plies with no twist to them that you carry together) had given me trouble in the past. It’s very splitty and easy to split the plies apart. Here, though, it worked out perfectly.

The very clever decreases in the crown shaping are one of my favorite parts about this hat.

I decided even before I cast on that I didn’t want to stripe the whole hat, and I’m glad I made that decision. I really dig the three-stripe motif. And the color transitions in the handspun worked out really nicely. I wasn’t crazy about Precious in the hank; it’s pretty wonky yarn. And I wasn’t really crazy about spinning BFL either, even though I’ve only heard good things about it. But I loved actually knitting with it, and I think the hat looks great.

Can we say matching mitts and maybe even a matching scarf? Maybe! Still have a ton of both these yarns leftover.

Finally, I whipped up another hat in just a couple days using Malabrigo worsted-weight leftovers from my Frost Diamonds shawl and Mulberry Merino leftovers from my Beaumont Tam. Can we say colorwork?

:::love:::

This may be the softest hat on the face of the planet. And it’s made out of scraps! Bonus!

Like a hug for your head

This was knit from Kristin Spurlark’s Nordic Hat Three Ways  (Rav link) pattern and was a great little knit. The pattern is very clear and the chart is very intuitive, making the colorwork easy. I love how the yarns played off each other, and the stranding inside makes it extra thick, extra warm and extra soft….a very happy hat!

It doesn’t end there, though! This just jumped on my needles…

More Malabrigo?? Oh, what could it be??

…and then there’s this…

Superwash merino fingering weight from Whorled Peace, “Sunburst” colorway

…and this amazing gift from Dr. Allison.

Buffalo Gold. Lux # 12. OMG. How do I own this??

Plus there’s even more to come! Some seriously epic awesomeness is on the way, and I’ve been spinning too! I can’t even wait…hopefully, I’ll have enough time!

 

A Chocolately, Cheese-tastic Baconpalooza

Dr. Allison has a theory: Everything can be made better with cheese, chocolate or bacon. This was, however, only a theory. Until recently.

I myself was indoctrinated into the cult of bacon quite some time ago by my mother, who is a fantastic cook and has been known to put bacon in…well… just about everything. Recently, my friend Mark and I had experimented with some new bacon recipes, especially after the discovery of BaconToday.

I don’t remember exactly how the idea of a bacon potluck came around, but when it was expanded to a bacon, cheese and chocolate potluck…well, that’s when the real genius began to reveal itself.

Kristin and her husband Jeff offered to host the party, and on January 2 they ended up the gracious hosts of twenty people and some serious deliciousness. For my part, I brought three things to the potluck. First were the Ghirardelli dark chocolate and thick-sliced bacon brownies…

Bacon-chocolate squares of awesomeness

…then came the semi-sweet chocolate chip banana bread, which was bacon-free…

My favorite banana bread recipe!

…and finally, the bacon apple pie.

 

Seven apples and almost a full pound of bacon are all up in there…

Dr. Allison and I could hardly wait to get to Kristin and Jeff’s house and kick off the party…so, of course, we got there first and with bells on!

Hi, Jeff! We’re taking over your house!!

What was the best way to kick off such a grand affair?

Kristin, Karen and Dr. Allison

Brownie martinis! Dr. Allison mixed some right up!

Don’t worry…she’s a doctor!

It’s worth noting: These martinis contained NO mixer…and they were damn tasty.

Cheers!

Guests began rapidly arriving…

Looks like a party to me!

…and the kitchen began filling up with friends…

Who’s getting hungry??

…and some seriously good-looking and good-smelling things came with them.

Ummmmmm…..

Soon, the main courses were set out…

Check out that spread!

…and everyone started digging in!

Yum!

Our menu included:

  • Kristin’s bacon turkey tetrazinni,
  • Kris‘ bacon mac and cheese,
  • Maura’s bean and feta salad,
  • Lillian, Meredith and Sarah’s bacon pineapple pizza,
  • Emilee‘s…well really James’ bacon brussle sprout hash,
  • Aaron‘s bacon and ricotta french toast sandwiches with chocolate sauce, and
  • Mark’s bacon-wrapped filets.
Cheers again!!

And believe it or not, everybody saved room for dessert!

Oh, yeah….

On top of the pie, bread and brownies, everybody enjoyed:

  • Jenny‘s chocolate caramel pretzles,
  • Amy and Dan’s bacon chocolate cupcakes,
  • Karen‘s white-chocolate-covered bacon, and
  • Bacon caramels from Dr. Allison’s mom Linda in Florida.

If happiness can be measured by a demolished pie, well, this one’s a pretty good indicator.

Served with a slice of cheddar…only went home with the tiniest of slices leftover

So, a fantastic time was had by all…though we did have two doctors and a paramedic on hand just in case! And the concensus was that this smashing success of an event would now become our post-New Years’ tradition!

And what of Dr. Allison’s theory? Now a proven fact!!