Wednesday, May 30, 2007

orangey goodness

Despite my supposed dislike, the color orange's siren song is luring me in.

Exhibit A:
The Cable and Rib Sweater from the new Debbie Bliss book, Family Knits. Interesting neck and sleeve construction on this one. I really like this book. Check out a review here. The patterns are lovely, even though some are very similar to other Debbie Bliss patterns. The photography is gorgeous. The real upshot of this book is that DB has included schematics (yay!) and larger sizes (also yay!).

Exhibit B:
The Aran Bag from the same book. The pattern calls for DB alpaca silk aran. I've heard that this yarn pills a lot. Any yarn substitution suggestions?

Exhibit C:
A butterfly in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Not too many knitting developments, except for sock progress. I'm working on a 4-patch lap quilt. The colored 4-square blocks alternate with solid blue blocks.

Here's excellent news for those with small kitchens who like to find multiple uses for kitchen contraptions. A friend tipped me off to a fabulous use for the George Foreman Grill -- grilled sandwiches. Works like a charm.

Back from Boulder

The Colorado trip was fabulous. Picnicking, hiking, making mojitos, visiting a goat farm/dairy, catching up with old friends, playing sheepshead, what more could you want? Maybe a yarn shop visit, but there just wasn't enough time.

A young goat at Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy.
BTW, their applewood smoked chevre is quite delicious.

Ouzel Falls, Rocky Mountain National Park

There's still some snow left up in the Rocky Mountains.

Paul and I taking a breather from hiking at Ouzel Falls.

I knit away at my Donyale Socks over the weekend, with not too many inches to show for it. I'll spare you the photos. I did manage to come away with very blue hands, though!

Startitis set in, so now there are some Waterloose Socks in progress. The yarn is Cider Moon's Glacier again, in the "Magnolia" colorway. The subtle feather and fan pattern will benefit greatly from blocking!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

to the finish line

Unlike some cats, Kylie was not a very willing model for the One Skein baby bolero.
This is the best I could do. More details after it comes off the blocking board.
Knitted items are queuing up for blocking. Apparently I've been hoarding FOs for a major washing and blocking frenzy. There are a couple unbloggable items blocking now, then I'll get to these. More FO posts soon.
Donyale socks in progress
Posh Yarn's "Emily" - Bluebell Wood (lovely stuff)
pattern here at Black Dog Knits

Knitting Pure & Simple Easy Baby Cardigan
Jaeger Baby Merino DK 192 Marbles

We're getting the he*% out of Dodge this weekend and heading to Boulder, Colorado. I love visiting Boulder, and some college friends live there. We'll be attending this:

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Summer Knitting Ideas

I'm not usually too big on setting crafting goals for myself since there are so many other to-do lists in my life, but I'm giving it a try. Ali is having a contest asking people to post their summer knitting goals. Head on over and leave a comment saying that I referred you if you're interested in winning a copy of Ali's super cute Fitted Tank pattern and some Blue Sky Alpacas cotton!

1. Knitting socks with fingering weight yarn on small needles. My first attempt at this failed miserably and resulted in me throwing my knitting across the room.

2. A stranded colorwork project, probably the Endpaper Mitts in pink and camel Baby Cashmere yarn.

3. Designing and knitting an original hat pattern. I already have some notes and ideas for this one.

4. Finishing my Forest Canopy Shoulder Shawl

5. Knitting a more complicated lace pattern

Friday, May 18, 2007

questions + 7 random facts

Huzzah, huzzah! There was plenty of yarn to bind off. I thought I had a sufficient amount for seaming, but the Blue Sky cotton has been breaking like crazy. So frustrating! I tend to tug as I so the mattress stitch, but usually my seams come out quite nicely. Any suggestions? Is there another yarn I could use to seam?I'm plant- and cat-sitting for a friend while she's away in Berlin and Paris, and I rediscovered the beauty of the streptocarpus plant.
They're from southern Africa, and they're related to the African violet. They're even hardier, though, and their blooms are just gorgeous. Anyone know where to get one in Chicago? Or even Minneapolis, Milwaukee, or Madison? Seeing this one reminded me of old times. My old roommate was from S. Africa, and her botanist father had managed to bring some of his streps to the US when they moved, so I have a soft spot for them.

Maryanne (who just happens to have the cutest photos of Gnuman the Gnome's Seattle adventures on the Knitting Gnome Swap page) tagged me for the 7 random things meme that has been making its way through the blogosphere.

1. I love learning languages. My main ones are Latin and Greek (classical, not modern -- please no "It's Greek to me" jokes), but I've also studied Spanish, German, French, and Old English. Next up? Old Norse, I think.

2. Cheese is one of my favorite foods. Gjetost, English huntsman, fresh chevre, hand-dipped ricotta... I blame this on living in Madison, Wisconsin for a number of years and having many opportunities to try all sorts of artisan cheeses. Not good for the waistline, though, especially since I also like Cheetos.

3. I can wiggle my ears, and I sometimes do it when I'm nervous.

4. Paul and I have been together since we were 19. He's my favorite person in the world even though he really likes sports.

5. I'm good at playing pool, but only when I'm really pissed off. So I usually don't play anymore.

6. If I don't get my coffee in the morning, I'm a real bear. Seriously.

7. I feel happiest in the mountains. Wildflowers, big horn sheep, marmots, trees, clear air = heaven. Now if I only I could find a way to combine this with Classics, knitting, and coffee. BTW, have you heard that Glacier National Park is losing its glaciers?

Want to play? Consider yourself tagged!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Only time will tell...

if I have enough yarn to bind off the baby bolero from One Skein.

I'm using Blue Sky Alpacas organic cotton in "nut." This cotton is actually quite easy on my hands and wrists; too bad it's a bit expensive. This is one of the natural, undyed colors. I ordered it off the internets, and the color seemed OK at first. As time went on, the color began to remind of the following:

- my couch
- paper grocery bags
- my Chevy Malibu
- the Ski Queen Gjetost (Norwegian goat cheese) that I grew up eating. Note its lovely tan color:
Sigh... I'll pick a prettier color next time.

My trip to the forest preserve went well. We had a fabulous picnic, complete with homemade olive tapenade, goat cheese, Bake Sale Brownies from the Test Kitchen cookbook (not so great -- go with the Land O Lakes recipe instead), and a delicious Sauvignon Blanc. We ran into a coyote by our picnic site, then went on a lovely 8-mile hike that was occasionally interrupted by mountain bikers. The trails were pretty narrow, so we did a lot of hopping into the bushes.

Apparently the buzz is beginning for the film adaptation of The Golden Compass. I enjoyed the first book in the series, probably in large part due to the classical references. The other two turned me off as they became increasingly religious. When I was a kid I really liked one of Pullman's earlier books -- The Ruby in the Smoke. Did anybody else read that one? Pullman has a very distinctive style.

Friday, May 11, 2007

things that make me smile

Kylie looked awfully indignant at having socks gently draped over her. Take a look at this cat. It's so worth the click of the mouse. :-) Now I want to cast on for a baby bolero.

Saturday we're packing a picnic and heading to a forest preserve to enjoy more of this glorious May weather. I'm making the Bake-Sale Brownies from the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook in preparation.

We'll see if they hold a candle to my tried-and true favs. The Land O Lakes website has reliably delicious baking recipes. Nothing I've tried has been anything less than yummy, and I swear I'm not just saying that b/c it's a Minnesota company and my auntie works in recipe and product development. :-)

socks on shrubs

I've been knitting like a fiend lately, but I don't have too many FOs to show for it. I need to block a few things, which is always complicated by my dear felines. I'm also chugging away at a baby blanket. I do have one FO, though.
Pattern: Garter Rib Socks from Sensational Knitted Socks, by Charlene Schurch
Yarn: Cider Moon Glacier, "June Carter" colorway
Needles: US 3 KA bamboo DPNs

Notes: I cast on 48 stitches for these, which is perfect, as they are quite stretchy. I love the colors, which are just the thing for this round of Project Spectrum. I must admit that there were a few knots, splitty areas, and weak spots in the yarn, which was disappointing. Sigh... I used the same yarn in the "Winter Twilight" colorway for a previous pair of socks, and I had no problems then.

Kylie looking a bit suspicious:

Kylie looking downright startled at being an impromptu sock model:
Guess who else was at the Ben Gibbard show last week? None other than the sock goddess herself, Cookie A. Ben did two acoustic shows back-to-back that night, and Cookie and I were both at the late show. I didn't see her, though.

Ben was great, esp. on songs where he played the guitar. There was a good mix of Death Cab and Postal Service songs. The piano he played looked and sounded like a relic from a high school group practice room, and the tempo was awfully slow on all the piano songs. Surprisingly he played a cover of Nirvana's "All Apologies." The crowd was a very odd mix. People did a lot of talking during the show, and the octopus man standing next to us spent most of the evening groping his date. The highlight of the show was a version of "Such Great Heights" played a la Iron & Wine.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Saturday, May 05, 2007

decisions, decisions

After much pondering, I've decided on a yarn and pattern combination for my sockapalooza pal.
Fleece Artist Nova Sock yarn in a variegated cranberry red/brown/gold/plum colorway and the Diamond Lace sock pattern from Miknits. What's the reasoning behind this choice? My pal likes red and purple, geometric patterns, and fingering weight yarn. I need to sharpen my knitting skills with fingering weight yarn before I cast on for this one, though!

Speaking of socks knit with thicker yarn, Wendy has posted a free pattern for basic toe-up sportweight socks that I'm planning to try very soon.

My cats really do like to snuggle. Capricha's giving Kylie quite the thorough bath.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

the good and the not-so-good

good things

1) getting out of the city for a day at Starved Rock State Park

2) spring is really here
3) discovering a bar with a very provocative title at Starved Rock Lodge

4) cruising along on my June Carter socks

5) enjoying a Leinenkugel's Berry Weiss, the true marker of spring for me. What can I say? I lived in Wisconsin for many years. This used to be a seasonal brew, and I would count down the days until its spring release. Blackberries, honey, and wheat , mmm...
6) having tickets to Ben Gibbard's solo show tomorrow night. :-)

7) discovering really cute free patterns at Susan B Anderson's blog (Ms. Itty Batty Hats herself), such as Elefante.

8) finding a lovely pattern for some darling cotton slippers over at the SockPixie blog.

9) planning for this:
10) the BBC miniseries version of Elizabeth Gaskell's Wives and Daughters. Beautifully adapted, beautifully acted, right up there with the BBC Pride and Prejudice. Highly recommended.

not-so-good things

1) waking up to city workers trimming trees with chainsaws and running the chipper at 6 am; consequently developing a headache that lasts all day

2) spending too much time and energy on this fiddly little baby bootie that looks an awful lot like a moon boot

Pattern: Christine's Baby Booties
Needles: painful little size 1s

Do I even bother making a second one?

3) the movie version of Rebecca directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

4) The Owl and Moon Cafe, by Jo-Ann Mapson. The author (or implied author, what have you) adopts a condescending tone to her characters that just TURNS ME OFF. I have a feeling that she feels the same way about the reader. There's also a very strange attitude towards academia. Not recommended in any way.