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Monday, August 18, 2014

savoring these summer days

walks at Winnemac Park, where reclamation of the natural prairie is underway:

splashes in the backyard:

crafting -- a sweet knit baby doll for Erik's friend's first birthday:
pattern: knit baby doll pattern set, by Amy Gaines
yarn: knit picks comfy worsted, in honeydew, peony, ivory, and creme brulee
needles: US 4 Brittany straights
my Ravelry project page


This knit baby doll was fun and fairly quick to knit! I followed the directions (aside from making the body a couple rows longer) and knit it flat. I saw some versions knit in round on Ravelry, but I think the seams give it a little more structure. The finishing work was a little fiddly, but it really wasn't too bad. Embroidering the face was the hardest part. I'd definitely make this pattern again -- I found it much less painful than many other knit toy patterns. Perhaps because I wasn't monkeying around with DPNs?

The yarn was leftover from some crochet projects, including yet another diagonal box-stitch baby afghan that I recently finished!
summer eats:

smitten kitchen's zucchini bread (recommended by Tinks and Frogs Rue)
easiest fridge dill pickles (also from smitten kitchen)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

summertime is crochet time

another cozy blanket for a wee one, this time for my dear friend's little boy

yet another crochet blankie in the works

I'm loving the Capresso FrothPro Erik (i.e., Paul) gave me for Mother's Day. It works beautifully, and I've been enjoying cappuccinos out on the front porch lately. 

Other things making me happy these days...
 puttering around in the garden
Anathem by Neal Stephenon on audiobook (absolutely engrossing)
Family Tree, an HBO series by Christopher Guest starring Chris O'Dowd (so funny!)
Doubleknit podcast (Erin and Jessica talk knitting, books, movies... you know, all the important things)
jam tarts, best eaten outdoors
this little guy (now crawling up a storm!):

the bounty of local veggies from our neighborhood farmers' market:

Yes, that is the cat sitting on the dining room table, because that is how we roll, folks. 

Thursday, July 03, 2014

rhubarb buttermere

Just as we finished off the first batch of rhubarb syrup, I washed and blocked my rhubarb-inspired shawlette!

It's rather larger than I expected, and the bamboo/rayon gives it a nice sheen. I'm still a wool or cashmere girl at heart, though, so I probably will use up the bamboo blends I have, but not buy any more.

Pattern: Buttermere Shawl, by Victoria Magnus (of Eden Cottage Yarns)
Yarn: Knitting Notions Classic Merino Bamboo, Ruby, 1 skein
Needles: US 5 Clover bamboo circs

This pattern would make a great introduction to knitting lace or shawls! It's very easy, there's lots of stockinette with just the fun lace bit at the end, and there's no garter tab to mess with. I bound off on the wrong side purl wise --p2tog, pass stitch back to left needle, repeat.

I enjoyed this project thoroughly -- the rhythm of knitting this felt so natural to me, and it reminded me why I love to knit. Very relaxing. I worked on this while watching Family Tree (Chris O'Dowd! I love him! very funny) and the 2011 Jane Eyre (the one with Mia Wasikowksa and Michael Fassbender). So overwrought -- I remember once thinking that Jane Eyre was the sane counterpart to Wuthering Heights, now not so much. Those Brontes! Paul said that I sounded like Mr. Mybug. I suppose I fall more on the "sense" end of the spectrum rather than the "sensibility." But the gothic look was just right, and it captured the spookiness that often gets ignored in film adaptations. The Buttermere shawlette would be just the thing to wear while strolling the grounds of Thornfield Hall.

 Moxie Cat atop a copy of English Home -- good taste, that one.

Remember the spring cleaning KAL I did back in April? Inspired by that, I dug out a couple more projects and finished them up. Huzzah! Two cozy Malabrigo cabled scarves into the bin for holiday gifts (though it will be awfully hard to give away the blue one).

Monday, June 23, 2014

rhubarb season

Rhubarb season comes later in the Upper Midwest and stays longer than in other parts of the country. I tried a new recipe for cinnamon-rhubarb muffins, and they were delicious! The batter relies heavily on sour cream, and it has a texture unlike any other muffin batter I've made.

I made Martha's rhubarb syrup again, and we tried it in champagne cocktails, which were sadly rather disappointing. Far too sweet! And I'm a Nordic type with a sweet tooth, so that's saying a lot. I'll try it again, but with brut champagne. On the other hand, a rhubarb gin fizz is amazing.

Rhubarb Gin Fizz

2 oz. gin
a generous dash of rhubarb syrup
club soda 
2 lemon slices

Pour the gin, rhubarb syrup, and club soda in a lowball glass with ice cubes. Stir. Top off with soda water, squeeze in a slice of lemon, stir again. Garnish with the second lemon slice. Relax and enjoy, preferably while sitting on the veranda.

I'm knitting a Buttermere shawlette with this lovely rhubarb-colored yarn that I picked up at last summer's Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair -- Knitting Notions Classic Merino Bamboo in "Ruby." Easy pattern, perfect for toting around with me. The picture just shows the plain-jane stockinette part, but I just knit the lace border, and let me tell you, it was so nice to knit. Lace is the best.


Erik inherited my love of books, though he's more interested in gnawing on them than I am. He takes Sandra Boynton's smaller board books everywhere. I swear, that woman must sleep on a pile of money. 

 Showing off his lovely teeth! Another one is about to pop through on top.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

a blanket for Elise Viola

A housemate from my Madison days just had a sweet new baby girl, so I whipped up another crochet blanket using my favorite pattern.
Sadly, my favorite organic cotton yarn (Knit Picks Simply Cotton) has been discontinued, so I used Knit Picks Comfy instead. It's soft and cozy, definitely a bit more lightweight, and I have a sneaking suspicion that it will pill more than Simply Cotton. That said, it's easy on the hands and wrists and it comes in a lovely palette of colors.
pattern: swaddle me blankie, by crochet kitten
honeydew (8 skeins) + peony (1 skein)
hook: clover soft touch g
my Ravelry project page
I always love this pattern -- crocheting it feels very natural and it goes quite quickly. As usual, I skipped the hood portion of the pattern.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

spring cleaning, part 4, or, scarftastic

Another project done and dusted! This spring cleaning knitalong is really paying off. I started this Wisp scarf soon after Erik was born. I've knit this pattern twice before, and it's very intuitive and easy, so it was perfect for my sleep-deprived and baby-addled brain. I dug into my precious stash of Plucky Knitter yarns.
While I loved the yarn in the skein, I'm not 100 percent thrilled about how the colors knit up. Such is the way of variegated hand-dyed yarns, I suppose. Always a roll of the dice. I, however, am not much of a gambler, which is why I've backed away from hand-dyed yarns in recent years and returned to the land of solid colors.
pattern: Wisp, by Cheryl Niamath
source: Knitty, Summer 2007
yarn: The Plucky Knitter Merino Wool Handpainted Fingering Weight, Verde Valley
needles: US 7 bamboo straights

I skipped the holes and buttons, as I intended this to be just a scarf. The single-ply merino wool is very soft and cozy -- lovely to knit.
Happy spring from our little Easter bunny!
(Erik was a remarkably good sport about the ears.)

P.S. Speaking of bunnies, I just discovered this heirloom bunny blanket pattern on Ravelry, and I'm dying to cast on! I especially love this grey bunny blanket. Sigh, must finish a few more lingering projects first.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

spring cleaning, part 3, or, block party

Two more projects washed and blocked as part of the spring cleaning knitalong! Phew, does it feel good to clear the decks. Now if only I could get motivated to wash the windows and do some actual spring cleaning...

 pattern: honey cowl, by Antonia Shankland
yarn: Briar Rose Fibers Celebration, .6 skein
needles: US 8 bamboo circs

I picked up this yarn at the 2009 Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Fair. The Briar Rose booth is always one of my favorites to visit, and I linger there far too long since there are so many beautiful yarns that it's hard to choose. Celebration (sadly discontinued) is a 60/40 merino/bamboo blend, with plenty of sheen and drape. There's plenty of yarn left to make a coordinating hat (pattern suggestions are welcome!).

This pattern is easy and intuitive -- perfect knitting while tending to baby or at knit night. The length is great and perfect for doubling up. I don't love the rolled edge, so next time I knit this pattern (which I will!), I may skip it.

I'll post details on the other project soon.