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Spoopy Bento Bag

Know your meme – “Spoopy” is an Internet slang word used to describe something that is comical and spooky at the same time. 

I always say I am going to sew more. My sewing skills are solidly in the beginner to advanced beginner range.  I need to practice more, but I don’t have a space to leave a sewing machine set up and knitting is much more portable. And two of my wheels are in the living room so sewing takes commitment. But a few of my friends have been posting projects on the social streams and I was inspired to drag out my sewing machine to make something. 

I decided that something would be a project bag. I found an easy pattern  – a Bento bag. There were no zippers, or snaps, or closures, or other fiddly bit to deal with. Just fabric and thread. There are about a million free tutorials online. I picked on that used a square piece of fabric to start. It looked the simplest.

Crafting is a bit of a challenge with Loki around. As soon as I start setting up my work space he has to investigate. I had to remove him from the table (and ironing board and counter) about a dozen times before he gave up and went back to sleep in another room. So glad he is a tiny cat. Picking him up all the time would get old real fast if he was the size of a Maine coon.

The bento bag was an easy project. It took me a couple hours to make this. Removing Loki from things added about 30 minutes onto this project. I really should start including the Loki factor when I try to craft…

This sewing project had a new to me technique – French seams! They were a bit more work than I am used to but really improved the finishing inside bag. The inside looks much neater without the raw edges of the fabric.

Explanation for non sewers – In the picture on the right the bottom edge is the French seam. The seam in the middle was just folded over twice before sewing it up.

Remember kids – measure once, cut twice. I measured incorrectly somewhere and my bag is a lopsided. The fabric pattern makes it hard to tell, but it was a pain to match up the side seams and sew them because of the unevenness of the sides. Lopsidedness does no impair function. Bag holds a lot of yarn.Makes a great project bag. There is no Velcro or zippers to snag yarn and I can tie it to keep a certain cat out of my projects…

Cyd Hat

Okay, I didn’t really knit The Cyd a hat. She would not appreciate it at all and would probably crap in my shoes while I slept. I instead knitted myself a hat with yarn I picked out to match her.


The Cyd does not approve of knitwear for cats

Ancient Arts Fibre Crafts makes a line of yarn in cat and dog colorways. I think they are called the “Meow Collection” and “Woof Collection.” Naturally when I came across it I bought two skeins – one in Grey Tabby and a second in Siamese. The Cyd yarn had a lot more black then she does, but it was close enough. As long as she doesn’t have to wear it I don’t think she cares.


Pattern is Sockhead. This is the third one I’ve made. It makes great commute knitting. Endless knitting that I don’t have to pay much attention to. I also have a lot of sock yarn. I just cast on Sockhead #4…

Anyways, most of the yarn in the Meow Collection is variegated. Variegated yarn (multicolored with short bits of color) tends to flash and pool – the colors clump together. Flashing is when they clump like a lightening bolt. Pooling is when they clump like puddles. Many knitters and crocheters will try to avoid flashing and pooling but I think that sometimes it can look really neat. The flashing on this hat reminded me of tabby stripes so I went with it.


I had to tweak it a bit. There were a few times when the flashing got a bit out of whack so I would add an increase or decrease to make the yarn do what I wanted it to. The pattern is flexible enough that random increase and decreases don’t matter much.

Quick Recap

In this edition of stuff my cat sits on I have finished my blanket!


I set up to take pictures of it and he immediately sat on it and got comfortable. It’s like he knows how adorable he is. The rest of my knitting is for holiday gifts, so no other knitting projects to report on

I did experiment with core spinning. It wasn’t quite perfect but I am very pleased with the results. The core is a generic wool in tortoise and the fiber I used was a few black/white/grey Phat Fiber samples from a while ago. I knit it into a pouch. I like that the core peeks out a little bit. It was a happy accident.

IMG_5976I think I am going to sew a lining and add a zipper to the project. I just hate sewing so it might take a while.

Knitting Machine

I am almost done with my blanket. I hate weaving in ends are there are soo many. This project make me start thinking about knitting machines. I was intrigued by the Addi circular knitting machines, but they are a bit out of my price range right now. I found a review on Ravelry of some toy knitting machines, so I bought myself one.

Knitting Machine Singer

It’s a NKOK singer knitting machine. The retails seems to fluctuate, I paid about $25 on amazon a few weeks ago. It works better than I though it would but I had really low expectations. The Addi machines are about $200 and this was a fraction of the price so I had a fraction of the expectation. I’ve done some experiments with it and I don’t recommend buying for kids. It’s pretty frustrating to use. If you go too fast or the yarn was not tensioned properly It dropped a lot of stitches. I got the best results with sport weight yarns.

I didn’t find the output that useful either.

KM tube

It makes tubes that are about 2.5 inches wide. I guess I could make leg warmers for toddlers.

KM flat

It also makes flat panels that are about 4.25 inches wide. But it’s stockinette stitch which curls at the edge. I could make a bunch of strips and sew them together, but I am pretty unlikely to do so.

I think it would be handy to make sock blanks with. If I ever wanted to make sock blanks..

Rhinebeck, Revisited

The Rhinebeck sweater was a bust but the festival itself was super fun. I got some yarns, some fiber, some notions, a bottle of spiced wine, and petted some alpacas.

One of the many events was a sheep to shawl competition. Six teams started with a warped loom and a washed fleece. They then had to card the fiber, spin it, ply it than weave it into a shawl. The teams all had themes – I really liked Wizard of Oz and Men at Work the best.Sheep to Shawl Oz

Sheep to Shawl men at work

The weather was perfect on Saturday but a chilly on Sunday. We got some snow but the fairgrounds was still beautiful.


I don’t know these ladies but I was playing around with my friend’s camera at this point. I liked the pom poms on theirs hats and the classic simplicity of the camel colored shawl. Fall Friends

When I said I got to play with my friend’s camera did I mention it was a 5D? It was soo much fun to shoot with. The crop factor on my rebel drives me batty so not dealing with it made shooting a lot less frustrating. I like low light, wide angles, and blown out backgrounds. It was also a lot easier to shoot the animals in the barns when the 50mm behaves like a 50mm.

Baa raffeNo fiber fest is complete without side-eye from a giraffe-sheep.


Smelly SheepyAlso side-eye from a goat.


Sleepy SheepiesThey were napping, but probably giving me side-eye in their dreams.

This was my second Rhinebeck. I had a ton of fun but it’s not going to be a festival I attend every year. The crowds are soo over whelming and there are much closer fiber festivals. Rhinebeck does attract bigger vendors and vendors from outside of the Northeast but it is extremely crowded and can be difficult to shop and to talk to many of the vendors. At one point I waited in line for about 20 minutes trying to buy something.

Rhinebeck Vest

The New York Sheep and Wool (NYS&W) festival is one of the largest fiber fest in the US. There are a lot of knitting, spinning, weaving, and livestock vendors and classes. The event also hosts sheep dog trials and other craft and livestock competitions. NYS&W is held at the Duchess County fairgrounds in Rhinebeck NY so attendees and fiber enthusiasts usually refer to it simply as Rhinebeck. The event takes place in October (prime knit wear season) and a phenomena called the “Rhinebeck sweater” has emerged. The Yarn Harlot talks about on her blog, but the basic idea is creating a new sweater to wear to the event.

There is a very slight competitiveness to it – many crafters will make a garment that showcases their abilities. Like crazy color work or cables. I think the phenomena is more about collective identity than it is a competition. Wearing a handmade sweater demonstrates membership in the fiber arts community. That said, membership to the group will not be revoked if one does not wear a hand made sweater to the event. I went a few years ago and I don’t think I wore any hand knits.

I will be attending Rhinebeck again this year and I am not immune from this phenomena. I don’t really wear a lot of sweaters so I chose to knit a vest instead. I finished it, but I think it’s going to be too cold to wear it. Yarn is a Noro Shirakaba (silk/cotton/wool blend) in one of my favorite colors (grey). Pattern is Forager from the book Doomsday Knits. I picked this pattern because it reminded me of Mad Max and I liked the asymmetry.

Forager sweater vest

Too bad Mad Max was a post apocalyptic desert wasteland instead of the Northeast at the hight of foliage season. Whoops. Maybe I have enough time to go to Old Navy and buy a sweater. If I swap out the buttons it could maybe pass as a hand knit…

Blanket of the Edge of Forever

I might rename my blog to “Projects My Cats Sit On.” I wanted to admire my progress on this project so I spread it out on the floor. Almost immediately Loki strolled into the the center of it, surveyed the project, found a spot he liked, and made himself comfortable.

cat sitting on almost done blanket

It was easier to let him sit there than it was to move him to try to get a cat free picture. He would just whine then move back. I know I’m biased but I think this picture looks better with a cat in it. An unfinished blanket is a bit boring to look at. Maybe his cuteness will distract from the all the ends sticking out.

This blanket is almost done. I have to pick up and knit the border on the left side, weave in all the ends and wash it. I started this project January 2013 and I will be able to finish it by the end of the month. It is a fun project to work on in the winter but pretty miserable to work on in the summer.  While procrastinating knitting this I did some math. This project will contain about 260,000 stitches. I have about 3,400 stitches left.

I am going to end up using approximately 3,250 yards (1.8 miles) of yarn. However the yarn was the cheap part of the project. I am using Knit Picks Brava sport that I bought on sale. The cost of the yarn + pattern was around $30. Labor is the expensive part of this project, it’s going to take me about 135 hours to complete this. There are 100 square and they each took about 1 hour to knit. The border is going to take about 20 hours. Finishing – weaving in the ends, washing and lightly blocking this is going to take another 15 hours.

If I make this again I will use smaller squares. Did I mention I bought enough yarn to make two of these? The second was will be rainbow colored.

Never Ending Winter

There have been signs of spring but It feels like winter will be endless. Went for a nice walk through Boston Common & Boston Public Garden last weekend. And by nice I meant the walk was nice, the duck fights were frequent and the company was fun. The weather was still unpleasant. It was in the 30’s and snowing.

Boston Public Garden pond covered in snow and ice

Most of the snow is gone but the city still felts like a frozen wasteland. That white patch in the front should be a pond. At least the park wasn’t that crowded.

Project-wise I finally finished a wrap I’ve been working on since early 2013. This is a gift for a friend. I don’t wear yellow, it’s not a flattering color on me.

Guernsey Wrap

Pattern is Guernsey Wrap by Jared Flood. It was a fun knit and the color reminded me of not winter. I used Berroco Ultra Alpaca. It’s a 50/50 wool and alpaca blend. It grew a lot after I washed it. It ended up about 80 inches long. It should be nice a warm and cuddley. I really like the texture of this.

Guernsey Wrap detail

My only complaint is the 2×2 ribbing pulls in the sides a little bit.

PAX East

For the past few years I’ve been attending PAX East. It’s getting harder and harder to get passes but a friend of mine had a great plan to alert him and then us once passes went on sale. The plan worked and we were able to get three day passes.

I usually use a free lanyard but this year I decided to make my own.

Chainmail lanyard with d10s

Rings are 14ga 5/16″ ID anodized aluminum from The Ring Lord. I didn’t have the correct pliers so the rings got a little scratched, but I don’t think anyone but me noticed.

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Pattern is the byzantine weave. From what I understand it’s not actually byzantine in origin, but it’s a good beginner pattern and looks pretty for jewelry. The only issue was it was about 10 degrees out so when I was outside the lanyard was a bit unpleasant. And I managed to get it stuck in my hair once.

PAX (as expected) was crowed.

PAX East main floor crowd

This year was a smidge better as Riot wasn’t there. They had a huge booth near one of the main escalators last year and always had a massive crowd around them. It made entering and exiting the main floor really stressful. I got hit in the head by some stupid bracelet they were throwing to the crowd. I imagine the Riot booth created a lot of head aches for the show organizers.

This year I didn’t see any video games I was too excited about but I saw some a neat looking board games. In the Indie Megabooth there was Mech Deck – it’s a card game that uses a mech building. It reminded me a little of the game Cootie. It’s a game I had as a kid. There was a bug you had to assemble with some sort of dice rolling mechanic. The X Files board game looked fun too, but I don’t think I would be able to find enough people to play it with.

One does not simply change hosts for WordPress

I’ve successfully switched webhosts and I think I have everything up and running. It took me about a week to sort everything out. There was much frustration and some tears but there is a lot of documentation for and I was able to google every issue I had. The problem was knowing what terms to google. This was my fist time using phpMyAdmin and I was unfamiliar with most of the terminology. It was a good learning experience. Hopefully I won’t have to do it again anytime soon.

I have finished a bunch of projects and will work on photographing and writing them up. I think everyone like posts with pictures so here is picture of a sleeping cat.

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