Friday, August 31, 2007

haulin' oats

Watch out boy, she'll chew you upOh, here she comes
She's a yarn-eater
Ah... the immortal words of Hall & Oates. When I was little, I thought the name was "Haulin' Oats."

The "Simple Yet Effective Shawl" is growing, and it is just eating up the yarn. 3 balls down, 3 to go. I want this to be luxuriously roomy for staying warm and cozy while researching at the freezing cold library this fall and winter.

Rowan Tapestry is a loose singles yarn, and it's easy to knit with larger needles than recommended. I'm using bamboo needles with blunt tips, which I think helps a great deal. I wouldn't want to knit a sweater at a tight gauge with super-pointy Addi's, that's for sure.

Fall is on its way... :-)

Monday, August 27, 2007

tea and sympathy

Alas, I'm wallowing in the depths of a summer cold. Last week I could sense it coming on, so Friday night Paul and I skipped a b-day party and stayed home to watch Pan's Labyrinth. (an excellent but disturbing film). My Spanish is OK, but I knew I would have to look at the subtitles some, so I cast on for an easy project.
Apparently I've caught not only a cold, but also START-ITIS! I hear it's highly contagious. This is the Simple Yet Effective Shawl from cosmicpluto knits!. I fell in love with Larissa's version back in June. The yarn is Rowan Tapestry. I'm using US 8 needles, and it's creating a nice, drapey fabric. My SP10 sent me a couple skeins, and I found a couple more (of the same dyelot, no less) in the sale bin at Arcadia last week.

Saturday and Sunday were spent in The Land of Milk and Honey (AKA Wisconsin). After surviving a family gathering in the green rolling hills outside of Mt. Horeb, Paul and I took a brief detour through Madison on the way home. We walked down State St., around the Capital, and down Langdon. My throat hurt too much to enjoy a beer at the Terrace, so I alternated between people-watching and sneezing ferociously while Paul enjoyed a Spotted Cow. We stopped for dinner at the new Paisan's on Lake Monona, which attempts but fails to recreate the dark, rather dingy atmosphere of the old University Square location. I'll stick to their more upscale cousin Porta Bella in the future. :-) Many an event has been celebrated there over the years (like the night Paul proposed!!!!).

Speaking of good things from Wisconsin, many thanks to Peaknit for the award! I like the spirit of the thing, even though the button sports a very Barbie shade of pink.
I accept with pleasure! I'm passing this honor on to a few more marvelous female bloggers:
- Micki at A Thing 4 String
- Nicole at cocoknits (who has inspired me to use bloglines at long last)
- Jana at Exile in Knitville

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

dispatch from the frog pond

Dublin Bay Socks
19 August 2007

The Hagrid-sized Dublin Bay sock has morphed into a cuter, smaller sock:
Dragonfly Socks, a free pattern by Jocelyn Sertich
Fleece Artist merino sock yarn, mahogany
US 1 bamboo DPNs

My sock model? Lakefront Brewery Organic E.S.B. It doesn't get much more elegant than that, does it?

Inspired by thoughts of Festivus knitting, I wrote up a little hat pattern for worsted weight yarn (Knit Picks Andean Silk). If it turns out well, I may ask for a couple test knitters before I post it.

While we're on the topic of all things red, here's the Smarty Kat Love Bucket in action:
100% Capricha-approved

Available at Ye Olde Target, of course.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Recipe Round-Up + Tuesday Fun

Baking Bites is one of my new favorite blogs. I tried Nicole's recipe for a Parmesan Tomato Tart to accompany the always delicious and incredibly healthy Summer Minestrone from the Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special cookbook. It was wonderful, and I never would have thought of this simple combination of ingredients. I used some fancy schmancy heirloom tomatoes that I had real qualms about buying because of their high price, but it was well worth it. I economized on the Parmesan; I bought a block of the slightly waxy, less expensive stuff (minor gripe: the new Whole Foods near my apt doesn't sell Grana Padano, my economical Parmesan of choice).

Other successful new recipes I've tried lately:

- Martha's Easy Chocolate Cupcakes
Truly easy, sinfully rich and moist. I substituted light sour cream for regular.

- Chicken, Chickpea, and Zucchini Stew
Flavorful, healthy, and not sinful at all. I omitted the tomato paste and served it with yet another Parmesan Tomato Tart.

- Dorie Greenspan's Swedish Visiting Cake
Found via Knitter in the Kitchen. The lemon zest is a great touch. You need to take this out of the oven when it doesn't seem quite done yet to keep it nice and moist. This is good, but not quite as good as my standard Scandinavian Almond Cake (I would post the recipe but it requires a fancy Scandinavian pan).

Tuesday Fun
Check these out:

- the Action Park entry in Wikipedia. Sounds like the most dangerous place in the "civilized" world. I would love to hear from anyone who has actually been there!

- the Stanford University Marching Band entry in Wikipedia. Very rarely do I wish I had attended a different college, but this made me briefly reconsider. Sick and wrong, but oh so very right!

Friday, August 17, 2007

super - (not so) natural stripes

I'm happily settled back in at home here in Chicago after a few days in Minneapolis. Babies were visited, baby sweaters were presented, and much fun was had by all. Alas, I forgot to take my camera. Plus all the sweaters were too big, just as intended -- that way they'll fit this winter! Hopefully parents will send me some photos of sweaters in action.

Finally the heat has broken for real -- the a/c is off, the windows are open, and I'm content as can be. There's another baby sweater in the works:
This time it's the super-natural stripes cardigan by f. pea. I'm subbing Mission Falls 1824 cotton from my stash, so it's not all that natural, but it sure is cute and fun to knit. Top-down raglan = not many seams. Thank god, since there's a ton of ends to weave in as a result of all the color changes. Needless to say this is the back view, as I can't bear to show off all the dangling ends in the front. Great pattern, easy to knit. I think there are a couple errata for the stitch counts for the 6-12 mo. size that I'm knitting. I'll look at the math again and email Ms. F. Pea herself before posting any numbers, though.

I hit Stitches Midwest with a couple girls from my knitting group last Sunday. We had a good time, and it wasn't very busy. I didn't even go too yarn crazy, instead making an effort to buy yarns from the Midwest -- a handspun thrummed mitten kit from Handspun by Stefania and some oh-so-soft merino 3-ply Shepherd's Wool from Stonehedge Fiber Mill for Christmas knitting.

I had hoped to meet up with a few Midwestern bloggers, but I was so busy getting ready for the MN trip that I didn't get organized! Oh well... there's always the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival coming up in a few weeks (Sept 7-9). It's in Jefferson, WI, home of one of my close friends from college, a rather smelly Friskies plant, and the late Rosemary Kennedy (a very sad and frightening tale).

Friday, August 10, 2007

danke schoen

Viele danke to Helga, my Sockapalooza pal! Not only did she knit me these beautiful blue ankle socks:

She also knit me these gorgeous Regia Canadian Colors socks:

Die Socken sind wunderbar! My feet will be very warm and happy this fall and winter. Both pairs fit perfectly, and I couldn't be more pleased. Helga sent me lots of goodies, too:
The chocolates and tea are delicious, and I'm excited to try a new sock yarn (Woll Butt). She sent along some Opal bamboo dpns, too -- I had no idea Opal even made needles. There' are even some beautiful-smelling handmade guest soaps! Everything is so thoughtful. Thank you so much, Helga. I hope your Sockpal knit you some wonderful socks, too.

Continuing in the Sockapalooza vein...

I finally finished my socks! For a while there I felt like little miss Goldisocks. Remember the Fleece Artist Dublin Bay socks that were too big? Then the Little Shell socks turned out too small. New pattern + new yarn = just the right size.
The Breeze ankle socks from Knitty made for a pretty quick knit in spite of all the fiddly cables and lace. What a great pattern! The yarn is Rowan 4 Ply Soft in "Clover". I used size 1.5 Pony Pearl dpns, and I combined the sizing for medium and large. My pal's feet are wider than mine but the same length, so I used size large for the width and size medium for the length.

I just need to weave in a few ends, wash them in some penny royal Meadows wool wash, and send them off! I feel bad that I took so long and that they're just ankle socks, but this has been an exhaustingly busy summer for me. I also learned some valuable lessons about sizing and gauge.

Friday, August 03, 2007

a decaffeinated afternoon

What a lovely Friday! The heat has been relentless here in Chicago, but it has eased up a bit today. Nevertheless I've switched to iced tea as I settle in with the new issue of Interweave Knits.
This iced tea is fabulously refreshing, and the color is quite eye-catching. It's made by Rishi Tea, a little company up in Milwaukee. It's not all that peachy, despite the name -- I mainly notice the rooibos and the hibiscus!

Ah... the new Interweave. I really like a couple designs:

- Tangled Yoke Cardigan, by Eunny Jang. Beautiful shaping, great garter rib elements. I already have enough Rowan Felted Tweed for it.

- Tilted Duster, by Norah Gaughan. Very cute and swing-y, in quite an unusual shape. It might look horrible on me, though.

- Tyrolean Stockings, by Ann Budd. Love all the cables! They have a very retro look, and they would be super cute in the winter with a short skirt. Or peeking out between jeans and clogs.

The staff sock projects are appealing, and the Minimalist Cardigan and Counterpane Pullover are OK. The rest wasn't of much interest to me. Some things (like the elfin scarf/hat and the luna knitted dress) are downright hideous. I was surprised to realize that Brooklyn Tweed/Jared's Cobblestone pullover didn't do anything for me. Usually I love his knitted projects.

Breeze ankle socks are on the needles:

I'm using Rowan 4 ply soft, and they aren't kidding -- it's wonderfully soft. It reminds me of baby cashmerino without the accompanying vaguely acrylic-y feel. Also, I love Pony pearl DPNs! They have a good amount of bend and give, they're not too long, and they're nice and smooth. I want to pick up more sets of these.

I finally looked through my new knitting books from the big KnitPicks sale. I love these two titles, even more than Knitter's Almanac and Knitting without tears. EZ is so charming, and they're a joy to read.
A while ago I cast on for a Baby Hat with Leaf Edging using DB Baby Cashmerino. So far I've just done the edging, which was a ton of fun and incredibly adorable. I'm not going to work on the rest of the hat, though, until I finish my overdue Sockapalooza socks.

Speaking of Sockapalooza, my pal, Helga, just sent me a sweet e-card telling me that there's a parcel on the way. YAY! I can't wait to try them on. Many thanks in advance.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

My heart goes out to all those affected by the 35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis.

I used to take this bridge across the mighty Mississippi to the East Bank of the U of M campus every day, and it's just unimaginable.