mod bkgd

Monday, July 20, 2015

off the needles: hamamelis

off the needles and onto the hydrangeas:

 pattern: hamamelis shawl, by kirsten kapur
yarn: dream in color smooshy, nightwatch, 1 skein
needles: US 5 (3.5 mm) Clover bamboo circs

I am so pleased with this shawlette! The tonal dark blue is gorgeous, it has a lot of body, and it's lacy without being fussy. Initially I had trouble getting the lace pattern to click, but once I was a couple of repeats in, it made complete sense. I'm definitely going to try more of Kirsten Kapur's patterns, perhaps Cladonia or Cerasifera next. The yarn transferred a lot of dye to the needles and my hands, but surprisingly not as much as I expected when I washed and blocked it. I didn't bother to pin it out when I blocked it, which was a good choice.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

yarn along: labor of love

Knitting and reading along with Ginny again.
For once I'm not reading a novel -- rare! Jera Brandvig's Quilt-As-You-Go Made Modern is inspiring -- I can't wait to try this technique, which takes a lot of the fussiness and bulkiness out of quilting and focuses on the fabrics and the fun parts. Love the Home You Have, by Melissa Michaels from The Inspired Room is helping me reframe how I think about our small flat -- one thing I really enjoy about reading blogs is realizing how much we have in common with people who initially seem very different (age/religion/politics) -- it's humanizing.

On the needles: The Dude -- truly a labor of love, as this pattern was written for the end result (a Big Lebowski sweater), not for the of knitting. Looooong floats, allover 1x1 rib, yikes. This thing has gone in and out of hibernation for the past eight months. I'm aiming for Paul's birthday in November -- wish me luck.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


Steamy, sticky days here in Chicago after a cool and rainy start to the summer. Playground trips, fort-building, running through the sprinkler, swimming, picnicking, flying kites. Summer is much more fun with a busy toddler, though exhausting.
pattern: yoked cardigan, by hannah fettig
yarn: mountain colors 4/8's wool, winter sky, 1 skein
needles: US 7 bamboo circs for the body, US 8 for the sleeves
size: 2 years

I'm not sure that this cardi is really a size 2T! Seems a little small. Easy pattern, fun to knit, and I love the yarn. Smooth and springy, lovely dark shades of blue and purple, plus it had been marinating in the stash forever. Next time I'd try smaller needles when picking up stitches for the button band.


my favorite easy-peasy summer sandwich

French bread or ciabatta rolls topped with roasted red peppers, fresh mozzarella, a drizzle of olive oil, and a healthy sprinkle of garlic salt, broiled or baked in a 400-degree oven for 8 min. or so, then topped with fresh basil from the garden

reclaimed prairie at Winnemac Park

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

yarn along: elsie

Joining Ginny with this week's Yarn Along:
Knitting another Elsie cardigan and reading Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break, by Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall -- an absolutely charming cookbook + collection of musings on Swedish coffee break culture.

I've also been tinkering around with a recipe for a raspberry rhubarb tart. Strawberry rhubarb has been done many a time! I think this version's a winner:

Raspberry Rhubarb Tart

Fruit Filling:
2-2 1/4 C. rhubarb, chopped (1/2-inch pieces)
1 1/4 C. raspberries
3/4 C. sugar
3 T. flour
3/4 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 T. butter, cut into small pieces

Tart Dough:
1 1/2 C. flour
4 oz. (1 stick) butter, cold, cut into cubes
1/2 tsp. salt
1 large egg
2-3 T. cold water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Make the dough by mixing the flour and salt in a bowl. Add the butter and use your hands, or a pastry blender, to break in the butter until the mixture has a crumbly, cornmeal-like texture. You can also make this in the food processor, using the “pulse” feature, being careful not to over-process.

Mix the egg with 2 tablespoons of the water. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the egg mixture, stirring until the dough holds together. If it’s not coming together easily, add an extra tablespoon of ice water.

Gather the dough into a ball and roll the dough on a lightly floured surface, adding extra flour only as necessary to keep the dough from sticking.

Once the dough is large enough so that it will cover the bottom of the pan and go up the sides, roll the dough around the rolling pin then unroll it over the tart pan. “Dock” the bottom of the pastry firmly with your fingertips a few times, pressing in to make indentations.

Chill the tart dough in the refrigerator while you prepare the fruit filling.

Combine rhubarb and raspberries in a large bowl. Sprinkle with sugar, flour, and lemon juice. Toss gently. Spoon into prepared tart dish, and dot with butter.

Bake until the pastry is golden brown and the fruit filling is bubbling in the center (35-45 min.). Cool on a wire rack before serving.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

yarn along: hamamelis

Joining Ginny et al. for this week's Yarn Along:

The lace pattern for Hamamelis finally clicked, and now it's coming along just swimmingly. I just started All the Light We Cannot See -- compelling and hard to put down!
Erik visited his grandparents over the weekend, and Paul and I spent a glorious staycation weekend here in Chicago. Chocolate croissants on the front porch, burgers at the Bad Apple, the new Avengers movie (going out together after dark! such a luxury!).
I even fit in some uninterrupted crafting time both mornings -- a little bit of hand quilting (not my forte, but I'd like to finish this wee baby quilt that I started eons ago) and a handknits finishing frenzy. So many buttons to sew on! Here's the first: 

pattern: lottie cardigan, by carrie bostick hoge
yarn: frog tree ewetopia, #1245, 3 skeins
needles: US 7 (4.5 mm) bamboo circs and US 8 bamboo dpns
size: 6 months


A lovely little pattern. I like that there is plenty of overlap for the front button bands. So many baby sweater patterns don't bother, with the result that the fronts tends to pull when buttoned.

The yarn was an absolute delight. My first time knitting with Frog Tree yarn. Ewetopia is a 2-ply merino, with a special twist -- one ply is superwash, the other is not, so the two plies take the dye very differently. It's a marled yarn, and it's so springy and squooshy. I found the yarn at Knit One Purl Two in Rockford, a very nice shop (much nicer than I expected given its location in a strip mall). I found the wooden buttons at Yarn Con -- I wish I could find this woman's contact info, as she sells a wonderful selection of wooden buttons in a variety of shapes and sizes at affordable prices. A real treasure!

Thursday, June 04, 2015

dispatch from the front porch

Today I squeezed in a little front porch knitting, which is pretty much the best type of knitting.

The pattern is Kirsten Kapur's Hamamelis, which has been on my to-knit list forever. Again, I'm using yarn from deep in the stash (hooray!) -- Dream in Color's Smooshy sock yarn in Nightwatch. The pattern's looking great, but the shawl seems small-ish considering that the second of four repeats of the main chart is almost done. I had a little trouble getting into the lace pattern, something that hasn't happened to me in a long time. There's something about garter stitch-based lace that just doesn't click naturally with my brain, esp. when there's patterning on both the right and wrong side rows. The yarn is springy and has kind of a tight twist -- it would probably make excellent socks.

Summer's finally here, and the university where I work is looking absolutely beautiful. Peonies on the main quads, plus look how quickly this spring's crop of ducklings is growing up!

Speaking of getting big so quickly, here's Erik reading a book. He inherited my love of Richard Scarry.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

yarn along + ashton shawlette

yarn along with Ginny today, from my front porch:

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry and Granny's Favourite cardigan are underway, and both receive two thumbs up. As the NPR review mentions, A. J. Fikry is a love letter to reading and the power of books, and I'm enjoying it immensely. Tugs at your heartstrings. A widower runs a bookshop on a remote island, and he's struggling with the death of his wife and his own curmudgeonly ways. When something special is left in his store, his life changes completely. A little cliched, but I recommend it.

The little cardigan is fun to knit, and the pattern is written for a huge range of sizes, which is spectacular. I rummaged around in the yarn bins and found some deep stash to use -- Brooklyn Handspun Instant Gratification. Lovely stuff!
A dreadful cold struck our household just in time for the long holiday weekend (ugh). While it wasn't the relaxing weekend I envisioned, we managed to do a lot despite feeling cruddy. We started Saturday off right with a trip to the Evanston farmers market (rhubarb! Bennison Bakery's rhubarb cream cheese danish!). I tried two new recipes, both from Smitten Kitchen: ramp pizza turned out awesome, and rhubarb snacking cake is delicious (snacking cake? how's that for a concept? I love it!).
I didn't sew any buttons onto the baby sweaters I'd already knit, but I did block a shawlette that had been languishing.

pattern: ashton shawlette, by dee o'keefe (free!)
yarn: orange flower twist | sock, santa fe, less than 1 (600-yd) skein
needles: u.s. 5 (3.75 mm) bamboo circs

I enjoyed knitting this, but I'm not sold on the tight twist of the yarn. It doesn't help that while the colors are beautiful, they're not very "me." It didn't use very much of this mega-skein of yarn (600 yds), which is a shame!

Nice free pattern. I'd recommend blocking the edging a little more severely than I did to get pretty points.