Thursday, September 28, 2006

they call it the perfect fit tee

and they're not kidding! I was a J Crew junkie for many years, and I still shop there pretty often. Alas, my figure is not as svelte as it once was, and their clothes seem to keep on getting skimpier and slightly wackier, so I haven't been as happy with them in recent years.

BUT I ordered a couple of their new perfect fit tees, and they are fabulous. I don't usually gush over clothes unless they're made of cashmere, but these are gushworthy. The cotton is silky smooth, the fit is great (body conscious but not slut-o-rama), and the price isn't bad.

What more can a girl ask for?

BTW, this is NOT me -- this is just an image of the shirt.

I made muffins with the new Trader Joe's green tea baking mix. They're not bad, but they're not great either. The flavor is more akin to green tea ice cream than an actual cup of green tea. The texture is similar to inexpensive banana-nut muffin mixes, minus the nuts. A little gummy or something, and I tried not to overmix them. Let me know what you think if you try them!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

noro silk garden scarf

I'm making headway on the noro multidirectional scarf. The yarn is silk garden # 88, and I think it's absolutely beautiful. At first I thought it was scratchy, but now I like the texture.

Short rows are just so clever! Things look a little weird while you're in the middle of a triangle, but it all straightens out in the end.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

knitters tea swap shopping

I started shopping for my knitters tea swap pal, and it was a lot of fun. We have pretty similar taste, which makes life much easier. It's great to be bold and pick out new teas and treats! It gives you license for a little more experimentation than usual, and I feel fine about choosing things that are a little nicer than I would usually buy.

I discovered a new Trader Joe's product today -- green tea baking mix (for muffins or quick bread). I bought one for me and one for my pal. I'll try to make mine first to see if it's any good!

I picked up a replacement set of Clover size 9 bamboo needles(to make up for the ones confiscated in Italy) at the rather ghetto Hancock Fabrics over on Ashland, and I was amazed to see that they were only $4.49! What a steal...

The multidirectional scarf for my International Scarf Exchange pal is going well. I'm using a subtle Noro silk garden colorway. I'll post some pics later.

amy butler

Amazon finally delivered Amy Butler's new book to my doorstep yesterday. There are some great-looking projects in there. I think most of the appeal lies in the beautiful fabric and excellent photography. It's like fabric porn! Or perhaps lifestyle porn...

Some projects are kind of lame, like sleeping masks, "document duvets," and potholders. But others are calling out to me with a sweet siren song:

- decorative patchwork throw
- kitty tunnel (wouldn't the ladies love that!)
- big dot pillow
- short pleated apron
- kimono-style bathrobe
- hanging toiletry basket
- patchwork handbag

The hanging toiletry basket is super cute and it would be very useful, but I'm a little scared by the sheer number of pages the directions cover. I would also need to get to know a product called Timtex. Sounds like a challenge...

Heather Bailey has revealed a sneak peek of her new fabric line, Freshcut, by Free Spirit. I like the fabrics, but I suspect that Freespirit signed her on to replace Amy Butler since she has gone over to Westminster, I believe. This line seems like a more buttoned-up, less bold version of Butler's Charm, but pleasant nonetheless. The colors are great, perhaps less vibrant, but more likely to work with my decor schemes in the bedrooms.

I'm flashing my favorite fall mug for the Knitters' Tea Swap

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Back in the USA

I'm home from my vacation in Italy. Tuscany was absolutely beautiful, and our villa outside Florence was lovely. My family stayed in a 15th century farmhouse surrounded by a lemon garden. The views of the Arno River valley were amazing.

We visited many museums, but missed out on the Uffizi. Next time...

It was a great trip, but I wish I had spent more time relaxing and less time playing tourist. The jet lag is still with me, and I'm ready for bed.

Very little knitting news, except that the airport security confiscated my bamboo size 9 knitting needles. I hope that I can still rescue the scarf, since they spared the yarn.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Off to Florence

I leave for Italy this afternoon for a week-long family holiday. It should be marvelous to relax for a week with my dear husband, who has never traveled to Italy before.

I'm bringing these books:

An important criteria in the book selection was binding -- only paperbacks need apply.

As soon as I get back, the quarter starts, and it is going to be busy. I am teaching the accelerated introduction to Greek, serving as a TA for second year Latin, and preparing for my last big exam.

My second quilting class was last night, and all I can say is that it will take me a LONG time to finish my Charm quilt. I also have been embroidering a set of pillowcases.

I used an iron-on transfer from Pattern Bee (Fairyland). I'm planning a quilt with embroidered blocks of fairies, elves, and gnomes, interspersed with bright red, green, and blue patchwork. I need to find some Heather Ross gnome fabric to put in with the patchwork. Just for accents -- not a whole quilt of gnome fabrics, that would be too much even for me. The quilt will have to wait until after Charm is done, but I can easily get started on the embroidery.

My knitting group had a children's book shower for one of our knitters who is pregnant with her first child. It was such a great idea! She is a librarian, so she truly appreciated the gifts. I contributed a Scandinavian children's book that I love:

The illustrations are marvelous, and it's a sweet little story. It was a hit at the shower. No one had seen it before, which surprised me. I suppose that Minnesota really is one of the epicenters for all things Scandinavian in the US.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Flashing my tea stash

I'm flashing my tea stash for the Knitters Tea Swap. I love warm beverages -- coffee, tea, hot chocolate, apple cider. Some tea drinkers are purists, but not me.

What's in my stash?
- Summer Dreams (green tea blend from My Place for Tea, a nearby tea shop)
- Rooibos Vanilla (My Place for Tea)
- Black Pina Colada (My Place for Tea)

- Republic of Tea Alpine Flowers (herbal)
- Republic of Tea blueberry (black)
- Republic of Tea pomegranate green
- Republic of Tea pineapple green
- St. Dalfour organic black cherry (yuck! don't buy it)
- Celestial Seasonings Candycane Lane (herbal) (delicious! I stock up on this at Christmastime)
- Twinings peach (black) (not that good)
- a variety of Bigelow herb teas

In the little bags on the top right (all from Tea Tyme and Whatnots in Fredericksburg, VA):
- MESNA blueberry (black)
- MESNA Indian spice chai (black)
- Darjeeling

That was probably too much detail. I love fruit-flavored black teas, black teas with cinnamon-type flavors, fruity green teas, and red tea. I would love to try Honeybush tea.

surprise package

A while back Louise asked the question, "What do you get a knitter that has everything? " I left her a comment, and she sent me this great surprise package.

All sorts of goodies waited for me inside! Pearson's Candy (from St. Paul, MN, just like Louise!), a cute floral post-it pad, fancy pens, a little tin, knitting girl mints (these are fabulous! the flavor is green apple, and they're sugar-free), traveling mini-emery boards for when you snag a nail while knitting. All of this was fabulous, but here are the best parts:

Fancy stitch markers
These are so cute; I especially love the cat's face. I always use plain ol' Clover stitch markers, so this will be a big step up.

My very first sock yarn
Froelich Wolle -- some fancy Swiss superwash. The colors are beautiful -- very autumnal and earthy. Now I need to pick up some little tiny DPNs and learn to knit socks!

Thank you very much, Louise.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Sunday, September 10, 2006

seaming away

I finished seaming the shoulders; now it's time for the sleeves. Capricha looks very uninterested in the yarn in this photo, but the instant I sat down at the computer she began viciously kneading the sweater. I don't think there's any permanent damage!

I knit this sweater using Schaefer Yarns Elaine, a beautiful yarn. It's a very thick merino -- I keep thinking that this will make for one very (possibly excessively) warm baby!

I have been hesitating and vascillating over my ISE contribution. I'm not going to frog the multi-directional scarf in the navy/blue Nadia after all -- I'm going to keep it for myself. I'm going to knit ANOTHER multidirectional scarf for my knittee, probably using the same pattern. If I'm feeling bold, I'll do the ribbed short-row scarf from Magknits instead. I'm probably going with Silk Garden, but I may use a variegated Lorna's Laces shepherd worsted (in argyle).

I'm also just dying to cast on for an Irish hiking scarf, but that can wait until ISE is over and it's closer to winter!

Behind the Scenes at the Museum, Kate Atkinson
This book won the Whitbread, and I've heard many positive reviews. It's not quite what I expected. The style is breezy, with a bit of stream-of-consciousness, and full of digressions. The content is at times disturbing, and the contrast with the style is interesting, but also a bit distressing. I'm at about the half-way point.

Listening to:
Solace, Sarah McLachlan

Capricha is such a beautiful girl! She's "my" cat, whereas Kylie is most definitely my husband's cat. They're both about 10 or 11, and we're their third (and final!) set of owners.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Fall's in the air, scarf's on the needles

I started a scarf for my partner in the International Scarf Exchange, and I'm not sure how I feel about it. The photo's a little dark -- I could use a little camera & photoshopping practice. It's not just the photo quality, though. The yarn doesn't showcase the pattern very well.

Yarn: Adrienne Vittadini, Nadia
Needles: Size 9 Clover bamboo straights
Pattern: Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf by Karen Baumer(free pattern)

I swatched for this scarf in Noro Silk Garden, too, and it looks lovely, but it feels scratchy as all hell. Any opinions? Does Silk Garden soften up after washing enough to be wearable?

Tomorrow I'm leaving the city and heading to the woods for an orienteering event. I haven't gone orienteering since I was in junior high, but the idea of spending some time in the fresh air with friends sounds great. When I told my mother that I was doing this, she immediately burst into laughter and said, "I'll pray for you. Make sure to bring your cell phone." Not much faith in me from that one, huh.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Charmed, I'm Sure

I went to my first quilting class last night, and it was a lot of fun. I'm making Amy Butler's Charm quilt. This picture hardly does it justice! The pattern is for a 50" x 50" quilt, but I'm building it up to 60x72 to make it more useful.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

back in business

1 pair of scissors + 1 gin and tonic + an annoyingly long period of time = a tidy ball of yarn

Listening to:
I'm Your Fan: The Songs of Leonard Cohen, various artists

The Mask of Power: Seneca's Tragedies and Imperial Rome, D. & E. Henry

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

I'm not feeling the love...

for the Bernat Handicrafter right now:

What a mess! Center-pull, schmenter-pull... I don't believe it.

Book Bounty

I scored a few new reads for me at Half Price Books during their 20% off sale. The Half Price Books in Skokie is great. They always have a lot of fiction and literature, as well as mysteries. I think it may help that it's a fairly new store. The location in St. Louis Park, MN is never this good, and the one in Madison, WI is sometimes this good.

Yarn Bounty

Note to self: Do not go shopping in the suburbs of Chicago on Labor Day EVER AGAIN! Skokie was insane. I picked up a number of skeins of Bernat Handicrafter cotton, though. I'm just loving the green colorway! I envision many Mason-Dixon projects emerging from this yarn bounty.

I started another dishcloth alredy. I'm using the "Chinese Waves" pattern from the Dishcloth Boutique website. Nice and easy! I knit this while watching the first couple episodes of Arrested Development Season 3. My husband got me hooked on the show last winter.

My order from WEBS arrived today. I have 3 colorways of Noro Kureyon (3 skeins each), perfect for felted bags. These are overstock colors, and some are better than others. I also ordered one skein of each of the overstock Silk Garden colorways, and they are both beautiful! I think I'll order more for scarves. There's also one skein of Mission Falls 1824 in the most beautiful color -- sky. I'm going to make a baby hat with it using the pattern in Last-Minute Knitted Gifts.

Kylie is uninterested in yarn today. Apparently plants and the open window have captured her fancy instead.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Happy September!

I know this isn't a popular view, but I'm absolutely thrilled that September is here. I love fall almost as much as I love winter. Apples, soup, pumpkins, crisp air, cool temperatures, wool sweaters, clogs... simply marvelous.

Crafty Goals for September

- make 2nd green baby mitten
- seam and block green and blue baby sweater
- finish baby quilt (I’m halfway done with the hand quilting, then I need to add the binding)
- make 2 log cabin pillows
- make quilted bag
- felt 2 booga bags
- put together fabulous knitflix swap package for my swap buddy
- quilting class: Amy Butler’s Charm quilt. It’s going to be BEAUTIFUL, baby. I love Amy Butler’s fabrics, and I can’t wait to make some things from her new book.
- remember to go to Quiltology to meet Amy Butler when she's in town
- get my hands on some of that darling Heather Ross gnome fabric. Most of my online sources are out of the blue version.
- learn to knit socks!

For me these are fairly lofty goals. I’m spending a week in Italy in the middle of the month, so that will make them even more of a challenge!