Tuesday, October 31, 2006

international scarf exchange

(photo credit: Joni)

Joni received the scarf that I made for her, so now I can post a picture of the finished product! This was a great project for me. I learned two new techniques in the process: (1) short rows, and (2) fringe (OK, not hard, but it was a first for me). I love the Silk Garden yarn. I did mess up a bit while binding off, so I hope the fringe camouflages that.

christmas cross-stitch overload

I love stitching little ornament projects. The problem is that I only enjoy the stitching, not the finishing. Over the years this tendency has resulted in a boatload of little, tiny, unfinished WIPs. Last time I visited my parents my mother cleared all of these projects out of storage and told me to take them away.

So what did I do? I joined a couple holiday ornament swaps, hoping that this will provide me with the long-overdue impetus to finish these babies off.

Exhibit A: Wintry wonderland little blue ornaments

Exhibit B: Cute and cheery bird and Santas.
Exhibit C: Old-fashioned hearts. These are going to be awful to finish off because of their odd shape.

Exhibit D: At least this is a big one! The kitty needs to go into a frame or be made into a pillow. I started this MANY years ago; so long ago, in fact, that I no longer like it. Alas...

Monday, October 30, 2006

I find this highly unlikely

since I clearly exist, and I just don't think my name is that unusual. Silly quizzes.

LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

in the kitchen

The cinnamony aroma of fall baking is in the air this weekend. Yesterday it was Everyday Food's Ginger Pumpkin Bread. I was inspired to make this by Alicia. It is not only delicious, but also easy to make. Adding bits of crystallized ginger would improve the recipe. (NB: photo credit goes to Everyday Food and the Martha crew; I'm not too into food styling yet)

This afternoon my friend Suzy and I are having a joint baking session. The to-bake list includes:

- Lunch Box Apple Cake
  • - Pumpkin Custard Bar Cookies

- Easy Baked Applesauce

I had to explain to my friend Bryan the other night what blondies are. He had never heard of them! Shocking, I tell you.

Recipes for the upcoming week include:

- Polenta Lasagna. I add sun-dried tomatoes, Tabasco sauce, and cayenne pepper.

- Leek and Goat Cheese Focaccia, from Jeanne Lemlin's Main Course Vegetarian Pleasures, a favorite cookbook (in spite of its awful title).

- Black-Bean Quesadillas with Goat Cheese. Once again, I add plenty of cayenne pepper!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

another midwest knitting event

Midwest knitters, take note! This is right outside Madison, in Mt. Horeb, WI, and it would combine quite nicely with the EZ exhibit in Madison.
Blackberry Ridge's annual holiday open house is coming up at the Mill on
Saturday, November 18, from 10:00 until 4:00
Sunday, November 19, from noon until 4:00

Thursday, October 26, 2006

a new scarf for me

My International Scarf Exchange package arrived in the mail this morning, and I absolutely adore my new scarf!
It's a beautiful dark blue, and it looks great with my blue and grey coat. The yarn is Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk, and it is divinely soft. The stitch pattern is beautiful. My pal, Joan, did such an excellent job on this! I have already worn it, and my best friend noticed it right away when we met for lunch.
Joan included other goodies as well: Cast-On magazine, fancy chocolate-covered Oreos, some yummy-smelling Savannah Bee Company honey hand lotion, a neat flower lollipop, and a skein of some beautiful and unusual yarn.Mango Moon Bali Sky, in 3302 Dawn.
So gorgeous! I think it's made from recycled sarongs.
It deserves a very special project!
Joan carries this yarn in her online yarn shop, The Local Needle.
One more pic of my new scarf

Rainy Thursday in the Windy City

This sign greeted me at the baggage claim at O'Hare when I arrived back in Chicago:

Very, very odd. This is the type of sign that doesn't get posted unless there's a history of such activities taking place. Who the h*#@ sleeps on the baggage carousel? How restful could that possibly be? I can see the appeal of sitting or standing if you're 5, but that's about it.

My friend gave me these darling almond bark/pretzel ghosts. So cute and clever!
I finally learned how to use DPNs properly at knitting group last night. Mittens, hats, SOCKS, here I come.

My brother's fabulous new (used) SUV! I absolutelly love it, despite its gas-hog tendencies. 4 wheel drive is a beautiful thing in the winter here in the Upper Midwest. Plus it's a gorgeous shade of blue! **car envy rears its ugly head**

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Behold the power of poetry

Check out this post by Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert. Hat tip to my husband, Paul.

48 things

I've seen this meme all over the place, so here's another.

48 things you probably never wanted to know in the first place



3. WHEN DID YOU LAST CRY? I can't make it through a movie (or a fight) without crying. I cried while watching The Horse Whisperer last Sat. night. Hey, the movie was my parents' choice.

4. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? Yes, it's neat and easy to read.

5. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCHMEAT? Very thinly sliced Boar's Head ham


7. DO YOU HAVE A JOURNAL? Just a blog.


9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? No way, I'm afraid of heights.


11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? Yes, but I wear clogs and sandals as much as possible, so it's not always an issue.

12. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? I'm one tough broad. On a more serious note, I am strong emotionally and surprisingly strong physically as well.

13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR? Chocolate peanut butter. Oooh... Godiva Chocolate Raspberry Truffle, too. And Ben and Jerry's Oatmeal Cookie. I guess I like ice cream :-)


15. RED OR PINK? Red! Either dark red or bright UW Badgers red.

16. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF? I have a hard time with my weight.

17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? I'm not sure.

18. DO YOU WANT EVERYONE TO SEND THIS BACK TO YOU? Not unless they feel like it.

19. WHAT COLOR PANTS, SHIRT AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? Black microfleece yoga pants (best Old Navy product ever!), black microfleece pullover, and black and grey striped socks. No shoes for me!

20. LAST THING YOU ATE? A little Mexican fiesta that I cooked up for dinner. Bean and chicken enchiladas, roasted corn and bell pepper salad, tortilla chips with guacamole and salsa, and margaritas.

21. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? An old compilation CD -- MTV 120 Minutes Never Mind the Mainstream (Vol. 1). The current song is fabulous -- "Ana Ng" by They Might Be Giants.


23. FAVORITE SMELL? Right now it's the White Barn Candle Company "Creamy Nutmeg" candle that's burning right next to me. Usually it's the smell of clean sheets!



26. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON you stole THIS from? Well, I saw many knitbloggers doing this one.

27. FAVORITE DRINK? Gin and tonic, my friend Bryan's excellent margaritas, Green Mountain Coffee, Candy Cane Lane Tea (by Celestial Seasonings)

28. FAVORITE SPORT? Sports? Me? I think not. On second thought, I take that back. I love to ice skate.

29. EYE COLOR? Dark blue

30. HAT SIZE? large

31. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? about half the time.

32. FAVORITE FOOD? Pizza, my mom's Swedish Kringler Bars

33. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? Happy endings. I'm a sucker for Sixteen Candles.

34. IF YOU COULD LIVE ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, WHERE WOULD THAT BE? Madison, Wisconsin or Boulder, Colorado

35. SUMMER OR WINTER? Winter all the way!


37. FAVORITE DESSERT? Tiramisu. Mom's Swedish Kringler Bars



40. WHAT BOOKS ARE YOU READING? Here Be Dragons, by Sharon Kay Penman; Senecan Drama and Stoic Cosmology, by Thomas Rosenmeyer; Against Depression, by Peter Kramer


42. WHAT DID YOU WATCH LAST NIGHT ON TV? Antiques Roadshow. Once again, please bear in mind that I was visiting my parents. I actually saw part of the Lawrence Welk Show with them on Saturday.

43. FAVORITE SOUNDS? Kylie Cat snoring.





48. WHO SENT THIS TO YOU? Stolen from the knitblogging community, Karin in particular.

Monday, October 23, 2006

more on the EZ exhibit

There's more info on the UW-Madison EZ exhibit here. There's even a knitting workshop:

"25 Tricks of the Trade" workshop with Carol A. Anderson: Sunday, November 19, 1-5 p.m. in Rm. 178 in the School of Human Ecology. Carol Anderson will share techniques garnered from over 50 years of knitting experiences: teaching, attending workshops, designing and writing patterns. Carol will share a variety of tips, including yarn joins, calculating gauge, two-color yarn carries, row counting, cable tricks, tips for following Aran Isle patterns and much more. Workshop participants must have knitting experience and bring double-pointed needles, (#4 or #5), a small amount of light-colored worsted weight yarn, calculator, scissors, and a tapestry needle. Registration is limited to 25. The cost will be $20 for the general public, $15 for Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection members, and $10 for students. To registrer, mail a check made out to "Design Gallery Exhibitions Fund" to: Carol Anderson Workshop c/o Design Gallery, 1300 Linden Drive, Madison WI 53706. For more information, call 608-262-8815

Elizabeth Zimmermann exhibit

UW-Madison is featuring an Elizabeth Zimmermann exhibit :

"New School Knitting," composed of about 35 pieces, plus a selection of videos and other materials, will run through Sunday, Dec. 17, in the School of Human Ecology's Gallery of Design on Linden Drive. Swansen will attend the opening reception at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 29, at the gallery. Greenfield will speak at 2 p.m., followed by a question-and-answer session with Swansen.

Knitters will be welcome for drop-in sessions starting at 7 p.m. on Thursdays, Nov. 2, 9 and 16 in the gallery. Plans for a weekend knitting workshop also are in progress. All events are free and open to the public. For more information, or call (608) 262-8815.

Sounds like it's time to make a trek back to my alma mater.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

knitting away in Minnesota

My plan was to knit up a swatch of my newly-acquired Plymouth Suri Merino, an absolutely lovely alpaca/wool blend that puts the Knitpicks Andean Silk to shame. Lo and behold, I now have another scarf on the needles. There should be plenty of yarn to make one of Grumperina's Odessa hats as well. Minus the beads, of course.

I absolutely love this easy, reversible stitch pattern. Just one row to remember! This is a blessing after the mess I made of my lattice scarf while watching The Horse Whisperer on Saturday night. Messing up on a bias knit scarf resulted in a very funky shape, much to my dismay. The movie was far better than I expected, though fairly predictable. The real star of the movie was Big Sky Country -- Montana. The cinematography was fabulous, and I longed for mountains and open spaces while I watched.

My mother is doing far better physically than I had anticipated. She actually has been cooking up wonderful meals for me in an exact role-reversal of what I envisioned. I did bake my dad a carrot cake for his birthday, though, when Mom needed a rest.

We did some thrifting yesterday and found a few goodies that, alas, cannot be mentioned publicly.

I joined the Holiday Ornament Swap, and I'm already planning my contributions. Maybe little knitted mittens or stockings? Or embroidered felt birds a la last year's Anthropologie catalog? I would love to find a pattern for knitted (*not crocheted*) ice skate ornaments. You know, those cute ones that use paper clips as blades. I have a yellow pair (with bright pink pompoms) that my grandmother made in about 1960 or so.

Friday, October 20, 2006

sweaters + 50 nifty united states

The Sienna Cardigan from the fall 2006 issue of Interweave Knits has also piqued my interest. Not in orange, but maybe in a lovely shade of blue Malabrigo. Heather (at All Things Heather, 10/1/06 post -- I can't get the link to work) knit a beautiful Sienna in Jaeger Shetland Aran. I just happen to have an abundance of navy Jaeger Shetland Aran, and this might be a great opportunity to use it.

Karin has reassured me that tackling a sweater for the first time isn't that intimidating. I may go with the Hourglass Sweater from Last Minute Knitted Gifts, despite the abundance of mindless stockinette. I love the finished products that I have seen, and it would be great to learn about waist shaping, sleeves, etc. without having to worry about the stitch pattern. I have only knit baby sweaters, and you don't need to worry about waist shaping there! Babies look darn cute in just about anything. :-)

In other knitting news, frogging Andean Silk isn't all that fun. It gets a little fuzzy and icky. Not my favorite yarn, but I like it better than most acrylic blends.

Inspired by the other night's successful Rachael Ray meal, I chose the very next recipe on the page: Seaman's Potpie. Awful name, awful recipe. Gluey consistency due to excessive cornstarch, very little flavor, terrible aroma, and very expensive to make. The name alone should have warned me away!

Which of the 50 United States have I visited? This may help with trip planning! Apparently I have neglected the Pacific Northwest and New England. Sorry, the southwest and the south are both just too darn hot for a winter-loving Minnesota native like me.

create your own visited states map

check out these Google Hacks.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

my latest fiery concoction

Rachael Ray's Buffalo Chicken Chili was a huge hit last night. I made a few modifications:

- I added 1 extra carrot (adding 2 extra carrots would be fine, too). I love to sneak more vegetables into recipes like this.

- I used lean ground chicken breast.

- I cut down on the butter and olive oil.

- I added a 15-oz. can of cannellini beans, with some (but not all) of the liquid drained off. This was a huge improvement over the original recipe.

- I crumbled blue cheese over the top of the chili and skipped making the blue-cheese corn pancakes. I served sourdough bread instead.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

winter preview from Interweave Knits

I'm taking my cue from Fig & Plum and checking out the new sneak preview. I subscribe to Interweave Knits, but I never make much from it, probably because of my fear of committing to a whole, adult-sized sweater. Here's what caught my fancy:

The Nantucket Jacket -- very classy. I like its lines and shaping; however, I fear that the presence of so many cables may look too bulky on anyone who's not a size 4 (i.e., me).

A cardigan for Arwen -- more my style, but awfully short. I like the cable details, as opposed to the allover cables.

Enid Cardigan -- gorgeous! I love the colorwork and the graceful neckline. It's definitely beyond my knitting capabilities at present, but maybe someday. :-)

BTW, the pumpkin knit up very quickly. All I need to do is make a trip to Joann for some stuffing and knit up a little green stem to attach.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

autumnal stash-busting

I dug into the stash and pulled out a skein of chunky orange yarn to knit up a cute pumpkin in honor of autumn.

Pattern: Carol's Pumpkin Pattern, by Carol Sanders
Yarn: Lion Wool-Ease Thick & Quick in Spice (a dark, heathered orange)
Needles: Clover US 11 24-inch circular

This is going to be a quick knit! I had forgotten how quickly bulky yarn knits up.

Here are a couple finished pumpkins on display.
I found the pattern online on a yarn store webpage, but I haven't been able to retrace my steps.

If you're interested in the pattern, leave me a comment and I'll send it to you as a Word file. It calls for worsted or DK yarn and 13-inch circs. I'm adapting the pattern to use the yarn I already have. :-)

Deep and mysterious? Really?

You Are Emerald Green

Deep and mysterious, it often seems like no one truly gets you.
Inside, you are very emotional and moody - though you don't let it show.
People usually have a strong reaction to you... profound love or deep hate.
But you can even get those who hate you to come around. There's something naturally harmonious about you.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

I took a trip out of the city on Friday afternoon to an apple orchard and pumpkin patch in Indiana. Here are some of the fruits of my trip. I picked up plenty of apples, cider, and cider donuts, too. Yum!

The Boy has been working awful hours at the office lately, so he missed out on the orchard and proceeded to spend all day at work on Saturday, as well. :-(

I added fringe to my noro scarf for the ISE, and it looks great. It just needs a steam block, then it's winging its away across the country. I also added another two feet to my red lattice scarf.

My mother was in the hospital last week, and I'm planning a trip to Minneapolis for the upcoming weekend to cheer her up and help out my dad. I'm gathering up hearty, healthy recipes so I can cook them some meals while I'm there. Hopefully I can freeze them a supply of dinners. This is a bit of a challenge for me, since I don't eat red meat and I love spicy food. They eat plenty of red meat (and pork) and they can't take anything too spicy.

I'm also putting together a little gift package for my mom. I think I'll hit Paper Source for some card-making supplies, make her some CDs,
and select a couple movies.

You can tell it's getting colder around here. The cats are getting fluffier and snugglier, just how I like them.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

another scarf on the needles

This time it's a lattice scarf. I was inspired by this one over at Tea and Cakes.

Yarn: Knitpicks Andean Silk (alpaca/silk/merino), Hollyberry
Needles: Brittany birch US 7 single points

I have 3 skeins of yarn, so we'll see how long it gets. It's a pretty skinny scarf, so it might be very long. I think it will look great up against my charcoal wool coat.

At first I didn't like the feel of the Andean Silk. It seemed pretty solid, and it doesn't have much give or spring. I'm growing to like it over time, though. Too squishy a yarn would just stretch out with wear.

This would definitely look more lattice-like if I had used larger needles, but I'm fine with it. There's always next time...

Knitters Tea Swap bounty

Susah H. sent me two wonderful packages for the Knitters Tea Swap. They both arrived on my doorstep on Tuesday. What a lovely surprise after a long day on campus! All I can say is that Susan has exquisite taste.

A sampler of 6 flavored black teas from Adagio, Susan's favorite tea source. I'm drinking the cinnamon tea as I type, and it's delicious! The beautiful handpainted yarn is "Rhumba" from Dancing Leaf Farm. Not only are the colors wonderful, the yarn itself has a great hand and there's a ton of yardage (300+). And it's organic merino wool! I think it's the perfect yarn. Maybe mittens and a hat?

Also from Adagio is this clever infuser mug. Not only is it cool and mod looking, it has a lid to keep tea hot while it steeps. The mesh infuser doesn't leak tea leaves like my old mesh infuser spoons do. Plus the whole thing is dishwasher-safe! What could be better? Susan has also simplified my birthday and Christmas shopping this year. I'm going to buy a bunch of these great infuser mugs as presents for all the tea-drinkers I know.

This morning was perfect for drinking tea. There were a few snow flurries in the air here in Chi-town. Here's some evidence:

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Sigh of relief

My parents' visit went well. They gave my apt. the "Good Housekeeping seal of approval," so I guess all the frantic last-minute cleaning was worth it. We went to the Lincoln Park Conservatory and Zoo, which they loved. I also took them on their first trip to Trader Joe's. It was packed since it was a Sat. afternoon, but they still enjoyed it.

I discovered a great new TJ's product: candied walnuts. Delicious for munching and snacking, they're also a great addition to my favorite salad. Here' s the recipe:

Blue and Green Salad

Mixture of baby lettuces, baby romaine lettuces, or spring greens

Chopped apples – crisp and tart apples are best. I prefer Granny Smith and Haralson, a variety developed at the University of Minnesota.

Chopped walnuts – Trader Joe’s new candied walnuts are fabulous, but plain/toasted work well, too.

Crumbled blue cheese – I often use Trader Joe’s crumbled Amish blue cheese (very affordable)


Use roughly equal parts of the following:

- rice wine vinegar

- olive or walnut oil

- raspberry preserves or jam. I use Malkin’s raspberry jam, which comes in a can and is hard to find outside of Minnesota and Canada, but I’m sure that just about any good quality raspberry preserves would do.

I add a little bit of pepper to the mixture, and I shake it up well.
Combine salad ingredients and dressing and toss.

Addendum to SP9 Questionnaire

Here's proof that some of my knitting needles actually do have a good home!

Secret Pal 9 Questionnaire

Wow... this is quite the questionnaire. There's a lot of detail in here!

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
I like natural fibers (esp. merino wool) as well as interesting blends. I love Malabrigo – it’s such a soft and cozy wool yarn. I like Lorna’s Laces in general, especially the superwash and the oh-so-luxurious Lion and Lamb (50% silk / 50% wool). Alpaca is great, especially when blended with wool. Silk/wool blends are another favorite. Like many knitters, I’m not into boucle, fun fur, or acrylic, although acrylic has its place, especially when I’m knitting for babies and busy moms. I'm not a big fan of mohair or anything too scratchy.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
A few needles are displayed in a cute sheep pottery vase in a bookcase in my living room. The rest live in an old cardboard box. I’m embarrassed to admit it.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
I have been knitting for almost a year. I’m an advanced beginner.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
Yes, I have an Amazon list. See here. It includes plenty of non-knitting content, so be forewarned!

5. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products, etc.)
I love lavender and vanilla combos (but not lavender separately, except for that horribly expensive but marvelous lavender hand lotion from L’Occitane). I like fairly natural scents – coconut lime verbena, mint, almond, lemon, citrus, nut. I’m a sucker for lovely handmade all-natural soaps, especially ones made with oatmeal, honey, goat’s milk, etc. I like milk-scented body products (like the Body Shop’s, or the Au Lait brand sold at Target).

I often burn candles in my study while I work, since the study doubles as the cats’ room and the litter box is in there. Stinky! All the above scents are great, and I also like pumpkin/cranberry/cinnamon/nutmeg type candles in the fall and winter. Soy candles are super neat!

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
Yes! Dark chocolate is a favorite, and I also like chocolate combined with hazelnuts and Milka brand milk chocolate. I’m also into scones, lemon curd, shortbread, and Pepperidge Farm cookies. I’m not too big on fruity or gummy candies. I love to bake, but I try to keep it under control.

I’m trying to watch what I eat, so a few treats are great, but my waistline doesn’t need an abundance of sweets. I love flavored coffee and tea (esp. fruity or spicy black and fruity green tea). Other healthy options are granola and dried fruit.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?
Quilting, cross-stitching, embroidering. No spinning for me!

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
I am a bit of an audiophile. CDs and MP3s work for me. I like indie rock, alternative rock, 80s pop, classical piano, and Brazilian music. No rap, R&B, hip-hop, or country (except for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band!).

My favorite artists include Belle and Sebastian, Snow Patrol, REM, Reindeer Section, David Bowie, U2, Pet Shop Boys, the Smiths, the Decemberists, and Death Cab for Cutie. In terms of classical composers, I appreciate Rachmaninoff, Chopin, and Liszt. I would love to add more Mozart and Beethoven to my music collection.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?
Blue is my absolute favorite color! Dark blue, light blue, navy… it’s all good. I also like plum, dark red, sage green, lavender , and neutrals like black, grey, and cream. I’m not too into yellow, orange, or olive or forest green. I like solid, heather, and variegated colors.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
I am married with no kids. I have two cats, Kylie and Capricha. They are 10-year old domestic shorthairs, and they love catnip! They tend to be strangely picky about cat treats.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
Scarves, hats, and mittens – yes! I live in a cold climate, and I love winter. No ponchos for me.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
Baby sweaters and blankets, scarves, and mittens. I also like making bags.

13. What are you knitting right now?
- Noro Silk Garden multidirectional diagonal scarf for the International Scarf Exchange 3
- Baby kimono from Mason-Dixon Knitting
- Another multidirectional diagonal scarf in a variegated navy/blue alpaca/wool blend
- lattice scarf

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
They all have their uses. I prefer bamboo or wood, but I use others, too.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?

17. How old is your oldest UFO?
6 months – I have to finish seaming a baby sweater. Ugh… seaming :-(

18. What is your favorite holiday?
I’m not very religious, but Christmas is still my favorite! I love cold weather, snow, ice skating, sledding, skiing, baking, spending time with family and friends, and relaxing. I also like all the bunnies, tulips, and spring weather associated with Easter.

19. Is there anything that you collect?
Books! I’m a voracious reader. I collect mugs and tins with British themes. I also like patterned blue Polish pottery mugs.

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
There are a couple basic knitting books that would be great additions to my knitting library: Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac and Ann Budd's Handy Book of Patterns. I'm dying to knit the mitred mittens in the EZ book. I saw a gorgeous pair made of Noro!

There are some more knitting books on my Amazon list (Greetings from Knit Café, Natural Knits for Babies and Moms: Beautiful Designs Using Organic Yarns, Knitting on the Road).

I want to start knitting socks. I have the book Sensational Knitted Socks (which seems a little overwhelming with all the charts), but if there’s a great basic super-easy sock pattern out there, that would be perfect for me.

I use Debbie Bliss patterns for baby sweaters, but I’ve never used her yarn. It would be nice to try that. I would love to try knitting with a soy-blend yarn like Rowan’s Tapestry or Paton’s Soy Wool Stripes.

I subscribe to Interweave Knits.

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
I want to learn to knit socks! I also want to try cables – I’m planning the Irish Hiking Scarf as a first cable project. I already picked up some Clover cable needles. I love the look of Fair Isle. I should probably start with something easy, but I’m dying to knit the Squirrelly Swedish Mittens from Elliphantom’s website. I don’t have any teeny tiny needles (no straights below a 5, and no DPNs below a 4).

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
Not yet, but soon enough! I wear a US 9.

23. When is your birthday? (mm/dd)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

not too much news on the crafting front

I have been busy organizing, though! My parents are coming to town for the weekend, and it has spurred a cleaning and organizing frenzy. I reorganized my WIP basket. I feel a bit like I'm keeping the Ziplock folks in business! I want to make a whole bunch of simple drawstring project bags for the basket in coordinating floral prints. I found this basket at Ye Olde Target a month ago, and they just added bed linens in the same floral pattern.

My father built this shelf for me. I keep part of my mini-collection of Great Britain-themed mugs and tins on it (only half the shelf is in this picture). I'm "flashing" my favorite teapot.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Major Knitter is embarking on a project to teach kids how to knit, and it's for charity.

She's collecting chunky/bulky yarn and size 10 and 15 knitting needles. I'm going to rummage through my stash for some likely candidates.

knitflix + progress

I received a fabulous package from Bekka for the Knitflix swap. I have been wanting to see The Girl with the Pearl Earring for a long time. I enjoyed the book, and I love watching (and critiquing) literary adaptations (as does Bekka). She also included a beautiful blue skein of Manos (my first Manos ever!!!! It's Juniper, #43), some cotton yarn to feed my MDK addiction, yummy fruity candies, and a box of fancy green tea that I'm going to try this afternoon. The tea is Happy Elephant Green Monsoon. There is also some delicious candy-like dried fruit that I already brought to my office and munched on while grading quizzes yesterday afternoon! One more surprise from Bekka:

Yarnplay, by Lisa Shobhana Mason
  • The Lorelei Tank Top is absolutely gorgeous, and I think I could wear it over a tailored white shirt this winter. Plus the pattern calls for Noro!
  • Another highlight is the k.i.s.s. (keep-it-simple-so-your-man-will-wear-it sweater) -- very classy, and I think my husband actually would wear it. It's a little bit J. Crew and a little bit funky.
  • The Manta Ray shawl is lovely, and it would be a great beginning lace project for me.
What have I learned from my first swap? I need to kick it up a notch! I'm afraid that the package I sent Bekka doesn't even begin to compete, but I certainly put thought into each item. One of the wonderful things that I've discovered since I started knitting last fall is that knitters are very generous and thoughtful people.


The Noro scarf is coming along nicely. I did some good work on it over the past couple nights while watching DVDs -- a couple episodes from Season 3 of Buffy as well as the movie Shopgirl. Claire Danes played a poignant Mirabelle, and the movie was surprisingly good and very thoughtful. I was prepared to be turned off by the Steve Martin/Claire Danes relationship (remember that awful Winona Ryder/Richard Gere pairing a few years ago?), but it was touching and well done. I loved the scene where Ray sits on the futon in Mirabelle's apartment. Also, the cat interfering in the action during a love scene was awfully humorous.

Here are the beginnings of a Mason-Dixon baby kimono, balanced on the arm of my couch. I may frog this and go with garter stitch instead since this curls up so much. I'll have to look at some finished versions to see how it turns out in stockinette.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

vacation reading

Mini reviews of my recent vacation reads:

Laurie R King, A Monstrous Regiment of Women
King’s mysteries featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes are far more thoughtful than most of the mystery schlock out there. Mary not only solves crimes (not the most interesting part of the novel – I’ve read two Mary Russell novels now and the mystery aspect is neither terribly exciting nor very innovative), but she also ponders feminism, religion, mysticism, and the nature of love, all in a very engaging setting. The characters are well-drawn, flaws and all. I suspect that King has been influenced heavily by Dorothy Sayers, whose Gaudy Night lurks in the background of this novel.

Cornelia Funke, Inkheart
A light-hearted read, somewhat like Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy and the Harry Potter books, but not as engaging as either series. Funke published this in German, and I read the English translation, which may have marred the experience. A young girl discovers that her father can read characters (and creatures) out of books, just by the sheer power of his voice. She also learns about the consequences of this gift, or should I say curse. Fine, but nothing special, aside from Funke’s enchantment with books and promotion of bibliophily. I must admit that the author’s name drew me in! I immediately thought of Tobias Funke on Arrested Development. Plus I wanted something light to read in a busy airport.

Elizabeth Von Arnim, The Enchanted April
As I read this book, I realized that it seemed awfully familiar – I saw a movie adaptation a few years ago. This is also a light read. Four British women come to Italy to escape their family and friends; they rent a villa for the month of April, and it changes their lives. Despite being fluff in many ways, this novel has a great strength. Von Arnim effortlessly shifts and slides into the different character’s consciousnesses. Von Arnim’s not afraid to voice the selfish and irrational thoughts that people harbor, and it seems quite genuine.

More on Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys and Anya Seton’s Katherine soon.

what a long strange week it's been

The first week back at school is always a little rough. Exhilerating, but rough. I have a busy plate this quarter, but keeping busy helps me stay on top of things. With schoolwork, that is -- maybe not with the knitting, though.

I emerged from piles of books and papers to head to one of my favorite Chicago yarn stores, Loopy Yarns, to stock up on some supplies, namely lots of knitting needles. I couldn't resist a gorgeous skein of Lorna's Laces Lion and Lamb, a 50% wool / 50% silk blend that is just luscious. I ended up choosing the colorway Tuscany, in honor of my recent trip. It was a tough selection, since many of the yarns are named after Chicago neighborhoods, and I really liked the Lakeview colorway (my neighborhood). Another time, I'm sure.

Here's Tuscany:

Here's Lakeview:

I have been knitting away at the Silk Garden scarf. I added the third ball of yarn today. I have decided that fringe is definitely the way to go this time!