Thursday, September 27, 2007

parting is such sweet sorrow

Good-bye, my sweet squirrelly friend:
Alas, my hands are too big. I'm going to frog and reknit. This was knit on 3s using KP Wool of the Andes (worsted weight), and I can just barely squeeze my hand into it. Should I go up to 4s or head straight to 5s? Any opinions?

Still no FOs, but here's a sneak preview:
F. Pea's Super-Natural Stripes baby cardigan, knit up in Mission Falls 1824 Cotton (in need of a button and a bath). The 4-patch quilt top just needs a border.

More baby knits underway:
Sandy's Diagonal Baby Blanket, a free pattern from Jimmy Beans Wool. The yarn is Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran on size 9 needles.

I couldn't find my mom's tried-and-true pumpkin bread recipe last night, so I tried something new to bring to knitting group. This is based on a recipe from the Land O Lakes website (one of my favorite baking resources), with a few tasty additions. It's not the dark, rich, super-moist version that Mom makes, but it received rave reviews from the knitters. The crystallized ginger gives it a nice spicy kick! I used Penzey's crystallized ginger. Penzey's is just fabulous -- high quality and low prices. Adding walnuts or pecans to the recipe would be great, too. You can substitute 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice for the individual spices.

Pumpkin Bread

1-3/4 C. all-purpose flour
1 C. canned pumpkin puree (not the same as pie filling)
3/4 C. firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 C. butter, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
dash of cardamom (optional)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 T. crystallized ginger, minced
1/2 C. dried cranberries

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients except last 2 (crystallized ginger and cranberries) in a large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed. Gently mix in ginger and dried cranberries.

Spoon batter into greased 9"x5" loaf pan. Bake 45-55 min. or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

summer's end

The new quarter started yesterday with surprisingly little fanfare. I had forgotten how much I enjoy running into my former students at the start of the new school year. They're filled with so much enthusiasm and they look full of energy. A completely different state from when I last saw them during finals week.

I've been knitting like a fiend lately, but no photos this post. With any luck I'll have two FOs to share by week's end.

Have you seen this yet?
Photo: Knitting Daily/Interweave Press

Pam Allen's Knitting Needle Bag is the latest free pattern from Knitting Daily (download here). It's in the new Bag Style book, too. What a hideous name for a book, BTW! I'm definitely knitting one (or two or even three). This will necessitate a yarn store trip, though, since my stash doesn't contain any chunky yarn in the requisite quantity (about 330 yds, I think). Maybe some Cascade 109? I've never tried it.

More things coming soon chez Caffeinated Yarn:
- a book/yarn contest
- book reviews/recommendations
- an awesome pesto recipe

Thursday, September 20, 2007

lesson learned

How to block a baby hat? How about using a small mixing bowl?So far, so good...
Designer: Sandi Wiseheart (which must be one of the best last names ever)
Yarn: The Plucky Knitter, 100% Merino Single Ply Fingering, "Woodland Brown"
Needles: US3 Brittany birch DPNs
Size: Newborn

Hmmm... not so good after all. Looks more like very odd yarmulke. Embarrassingly enough, I didn't know how to pronounce that until I was 19. There was exactly one Jewish kid in my grade in my entire Minneapolis suburb (which was not small), and somehow traditional head coverings never came up in casual conversation.

I'll have to block this again before sending it off to Sarah. The newborn size is quite small indeed, so I would recommend knitting the largest size if you want it to be worn more than once. The annoyance of the YOs at the beginning and end of the needles has motivated me to learn magic loop or 2 circ's.

Mr. Greenjeans from the new Knitty is on the needles. I'm using Malabrigo merino worsted in "Violetas", and the yarn is as marvelous as ever. Some of you may remember it from my ill-fated attempt at the Hourglass sweater. A cardigan will see a lot a more use. I'm a big fan of the YOs along the raglan increases.
My knitting group met at my place last night since our coffee shop was closed, and it was great fun. Martha Stewart's Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares were absolutely yummy. It also inspired a frantic cleaning frenzy! It's so nice and clean in here now.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Saartje's Bootees

The fruits of my test knitting for The Plucky Knitter, using her fabulous merino fingering weight yarn. So soft, so easy to knit with. These booties knit up very quickly. They still need buttons.
Pattern: Saartje's Bootees Yarn: The Plucky Knitter, 100% Merino Single Ply Fingering colorway unknown ~ I'd call it "Woodland Brown" Needles: Knit Picks US 2 circular (metal) Size: large

Next up? A Vine Lace Baby Hat to match, already on the needles. Cute so far, but YOs at the beginning and end of DPNs -- what a b^&*$. Magic Loop knitters would probably enjoy this knit more than I do.

Apparently I've been living in a cave. I had been strangely resistant to Neko Case for a long time (even despite Paul's love of The New Pornographers). I have no idea why. On a whim,I picked up a copy of Fox Confessor Brings the Flood last week, and it has been in heavy rotation ever since. I *heart* Neko Case. That voice... the thoughtfulness of the lyrics... the storytelling! I would love to hear her sing "Long Black Veil", my favorite Johnny Cash song.
I haven't been this excited about any music since I first heard The Decemberists. Speaking of which, Colin Meloy's old band, Tarkio, is great, too. Much more alt country -- finger-picking, violin, etc. There's still the storytelling element, but it's not quite as literary. Sometimes it's a bit forced (I'm thinking of a particularly painful line about Albert Camus).
Omnibus is, as you would expect, a compilation album.

Any new music suggestions for me? Other new-to-me things I've been enjoying lately are Matt Pond, Cat Power, and the tribute album to Elliott Smith. I have tried using Last FM, but I can't get into it. Maybe I need to rate more music or something?

The Flaming Lips show last Friday was great fun, despite the 100 degree heat. Wayne went off on some long-winded, non-specific political rants that detracted from the show a bit. Be concise! Just being disgruntled doesn't set you apart from the crowd and motivate people to act.

Wisconsin Sheep and Wool

Wisconsin Sheep and Wool was a lot of fun. It's not a huge festival, but there were some gorgeous sheep and marvelous vendors there. Connecting with sheep farmers, meeting the little woolie guys who provide me with yarn, petting a soft angora rabbit -- much better than Stitches Midwest. The highlights:

~ Shetland sheep - so little and fluffy!!!
~ angora rabbits - I can't believe I made it home without one
~ Briar Rose Fibers - so many beautiful, saturated colors

I'm doing a little test knitting for Sarah (AKA The Plucky Knitter), so I'll be posting FO pics of Saartje's booties knit up in a super-soft merino fingering weight very, very soon. It feels like fingering-weight Malabrigo.

Paul and I are heading back to Wisconsin for Saturday's Brewers game. This time I'm rooting for the Bratwurst! Hopefully we'll hit an apple orchard on the way home. I'm jonesing for some homemade applesauce.
Check out the fabulous horns on this guy!

Friday, September 07, 2007

smitten with mittens

Heat and humidity have hindered further progress on my Tapestry shawl. Lap full of wool in 90% humidity = not my cup of tea. A smaller project was in order:
Basic Mittens
Source: Knitting for Peace
Size: Adult Medium
Needles: US 6 Brittany birch DPNs
Yarn: Patons Classic Wool

An odd hole is created in the ribbing when you begin to increase for the thumb gusset in the first stockinette round. Next time I would knit one round plain before beginning the increases. These are for the Favorites Fall Swap! I'm in a frenzy over all the awesome mitten patterns out there.

More mittens in progress:
wonderfully whimsical Squirrel and Oak mittens from Hello Yarn
Knit Picks Wool of the Andes (snickerdoodle & chocolate)

Hopefully they'll be done by the time I'm home from the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival this weekend!

My computer had a minor meltdown, so blogging has been light and will be so for the next few days, too.