Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Owl Baby Vest

Owls are all over the ancient Greek world. Not only do they symbolize wisdom, they also stand for the goddess Athena and the great city-state of Athens. Why not start a baby off on the path to wisdom and erudition right from the get-go?

Owl Baby Vest

ETA: now available as a Ravelry download in PDF format!

This is my first pattern to share. It's an easy pattern, knit in the round. I'm sure there are errors, evidence of my own lack of wisdom. Let me know if you have any troubles. I'll try to put the PDF up as a Ravelry download, too, but it may take a couple days.

Size: 9-12 months

Yarn: DK-weight superwash wool or wool-blend yarn, ~240 yards.

Suggested yarns: Rowan Wool Cotton, Zara, Debbie Bliss Cashmerino DK, and RYC Cashcotton DK. Also a great way to highlight sport/DK-weight sock yarn, such as The Plucky Knitter’s Sport Superwash Merino or heavyweight Socks That Rock. I used Elann’s Peruvian Merino Luxury Superwash DK (not my favorite knitting experience). A solid or semisolid will show the cable-knit owls to their best advantage.

Needles: US 4 & 5 16” circular needles, US 4 dpns. I’m a loose knitter, so you may need to go up to US 5 & 6.

Gauge: 5 sts/inch in stockinette

Guide to Cables:

C4B: Sl 2 sts to cable needle and hold in back, k2, then k2 from cable needle.

C4F: Sl 2 sts to cable needle and hold in front, k2, then k2 from cable needle.



With size 4 circular needles, cast on 108 stitches. Place marker and join to knit in the round.

Work 5 rounds in 2 by 2 ribbing. (k2, p2)

Switch to size 5 circular needles. Round 1: kf&b, k53, kf&b, k to end. (110 sts total)

Work in stockinette until vest measures 4” from cast-on edge.

Work owl cable pattern:

The cable pattern is just on the front; the back is worked in stockinette.

Round 1: p2, (k8, p3) x 4, k8, p2, k to end

Round 2: repeat rnd 1

Round 3: p2, (C4B, C4F, p3) x 4, C4B, C4F, p2, k to end

Round 4-10: repeat rnd 1

Round 11: repeat rnd 3

Round 12: repeat rnd 1

Round 13: p2, (k1, p2, k2, p2, k1, p3) x 4, k1, p2, k2, p2, k1, p2, k to end

Round 14: repeat rnd 13

Round 15-16: repeat rnd 1

Round 17: repeat rnd 3

Round 18: repeat rnd 1

Work in stockinette until vest measures 6.5” from cast-on edge.

Divide for armholes:

Row 1: k until 5 sts before marker. BO (bind off) last 5 sts.

Row 2: BO first 4 sts. k 46, move these stitches to holder (for front), BO 10 stitches, k 45. These 45 stitches form the back.


Work in stockinette.

Rows 1-3: Decrease 1 st. at each end of needle every row. (39 sts remain)

Continue in stockinette until vest measures 12” from cast-on edge, ending with a RS row. Place sts on holder or spare yarn. Cut yarn, leaving a long tail (for 3-needle bind-off shoulder join).

Left Front

Join yarn on right side of work. Working in stockinette, k 22; leave remaining sts on stitch holder or waste yarn. You may wish to substitute fancier (i.e., more invisible) decreases!

Row 1: p2tog, p to last 2 sts, p2tog

Row 2: k2tog, k to end

Row 3: p2tog, p to last 2 sts, p2tog

Row 4: k2tog, k to end

Row 5: p2tog, p to end

Row 6: k

Row 7-18: repeat rows 5 & 6 5 more times (6 repeats total)

Row 19: p2tog, p to end (8 sts remain)

Work even in stockinette until vest measures 12” ending with a RS row. Place sts on holder or waste yarn. Break yarn, leaving a 16” tail (for shoulder join).

Right Front

Join yarn on right side. BO 1st 2 sts, then k to end.

Row 1: p2tog, p to last 2 sts, p2tog

Row 2: k to last 2 sts, k2tog

Row 3: p2 tog, p to last 2 sts, p2tog

Row 4: k to last 2 sts, k2tog

Row 5: p to last 2 sts, p2tog

Row 6: k

Rows 7-18: repeat rows 5 & 6 5 more times (6 repeats total)

Row 19: p to last 2 sts, p2tog (8 sts remain)

Continue working as for left front.

Shoulder Join

With right sides facing together, using the long yarn tail, work a 3 needle bind-off at each shoulder (8 held sts from front + 8 sts from back).

Neck Edging

Using size 4 circ needles, pick up 3 sts for every 4 rows along the left front. Pick up 2 sts in the center, pick up 3 sts for every 4 rows along the right front. If necessary, fudge it to have a multiple of 4 sts. K 24 held back stitches. Join to knit in round.

Work 3 rounds in 2 x 2 ribbing. Bind off loosely in pattern.

Armhole Edging (x 2)

Using size 4 DPNs (or magic loop), join yarn at middle of bottom of underarm. Pick up 5 sts across bottom of underarm, then pick up approx. 3 sts for every 4 rows, then pick up last 5 sts across bottom of underarm. Make sure you have a multiple of 4 sts. Join to knit in round.

Knit 3 rows in 2 x 2 ribbing. Bind off loosely in pattern.


Weave in ends. Wash with gentle, baby-friendly detergent. Lay flat on a towel to dry, gently reshaping to make the sides of the cable panel sit even with the rest of the vest (pinning if necessary).

Pattern & images © Jodi Haraldson, 2008.
Pattern for personal and charity use only.


Apparently the Owl Baby Vest also makes an excellent cat sweater: Thanks, Luscious Luka, for knitting up such a cute vest and letting me share the photo!


If you just like the owls but don't have any babies to knit for, check out some fabulous patterns that use variations of this traditional cable pattern:

- Owl Hat, by Ruthie Nussbaum
- Owl Knee Socks, by Megan Rogers (I'm dying to knit these!)
- Owl Dishcloth, by Janelle Schlossman

Saturday, April 26, 2008

FO: Kanoko Pants

Done and dusted! A very fun knit, but the finished project is a little bit odd. All the Ravelry pictures that show them in use are very cute, though.
Project Details

Pattern: Kanoko Pants, by Yumiko Sakurai
Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton-Ease, Terra Cotta, 1.25 skeins
Needles: US 5 bamboo 16" circs and DPNs

I forgot to bring the pattern to knitting night on Wednesday, so I decided just to wing the stitch pattern on the legs. My memory is better than I thought, as they turned out pretty close to the pattern!

I knit an i-cord instead of a crochet chain for the drawstring (crochet's not my strong suit, even just a chain). A cute ribbon might be a better way to go, or just inserting an elastic waistband.

The top half of the pants could maybe use a few more rows for length. I have trouble seeing a diapered baby bottom fitting in there!
Here's a shot of a Brea Bag in progress. That Norah Gaughan is a genius! I'm using Cascade 220 doubled, and it's so nice to knit with good old-fashioned sticky wool again, rather than all the somewhat yucky superwash and cotton blends I've been knitting of late.
The Colin Meloy show was great! We managed to get very close to the stage. :-) For me the highlight was "The Engine Driver." He played "O Valencia!" as if he were tiring of it (alas... star-crossed lovers are always my favorite). The tour CD ("Colin Meloy Sings Live") is nicely done; I was not impressed with his Sam Cook covers EP, though. The Park West is a marvelous place to see a show -- good acoustics, climate-controlled, very civilized.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Where do you go to, my lovely?*

Tonight Paul and I are going to the Park West for an evening with Colin Meloy. Though I've seen the Decemberists thrice in the past couple years, I've never seen him play solo. Should be a treat!
*Can you tell I've been listening to The Darjeeling Limited soundtrack a good deal as of late? Not my favorite Wes Anderson movie (Royal Tenenbaums and Life Aquatic are tied), but a great soundtrack. That Peter Starstedt song is just fabulous -- catchy, melodic, and darkly funny.

Speaking of quirky movies, I saw Smart People over the weekend -- OK but not fantastic. Thomas Hayden Church really stole the show (rather than Ellen Page, whom I had expected to do so). Everybody Loves Saturday Night's review captures the essence of the film. She makes an excellent point about its affinities with David Lodge novels (which are not exactly my cup of tea). A little deeper character development would have helped.

My knitting needles have been getting a workout lately. The Wabenschal is done (but needs blocking):
I'm working on a pair of Kanoko Pants (yes, more baby knits -- one of the delights of turning 30 is that many of my friends are having babies -- yet another Classics friend had a baby last week):
Also Dragonfly Sock #2:
And a baby project of my own design. It's blocking right now, but you can expect photos as well as a pattern later this week.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

FO: Green Guernsey

Pattern: Organic Guernsey, by f. pea
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Superwash ~ "Dublin"~ 2 balls
Needles: US 4 & US 6

Modifications: I knit this in a slightly thinner yarn than the recommended Blue Sky Organic Cotton; I went up a size to compensate for the smaller gauge. Seed stitch instead of ribbing on the hems. As written, the sleeves seemed awfully long, so I shortened them a bit. 2 buttons instead of 3. Easy little project. Next time I would futz with the raglan increases to get the lines to look neater. Also, the instructions at the beginning are a little unclear re: the stitch patterns. I think I figured it out, though.
Recipes that get the thumbs-up chez Caffeinated Yarn:
- Giant Ginger Cookies, from Everyday Food
- Almond-Crusted Goat Cheese Salad with Raspberry Dressing
Makes lots of dressing -- could do a half batch of the dressing.
- Lettuce, Orange, and Pecan Salad
I subbed almonds for pecans. Still delicious!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

in spring a young woman's fancy...

Argh! Blogger ate my photos. Edited to add the photos again.

As spring finally arrives in the chilly Upper Midwest, my "fancy" is turning to spring flowers, bunnies, and farmer's markets. Madison's fabulous, down-to earth farmer's market has spoiled me forever, I'm afraid, but I still enjoy Chicago's Green City Market. It's less genuine and hippie and far more yuppie, and the prices are high, but at least it's organic and mostly local (unlike the other markets in Chicago, which sometimes sell bananas -- the horror!).

I'm knitting up some Saturday Market Bags with stash yarn.

Source: formerly Magknits, now available here
Yarn: Cotton-Ease, "lake," less than 1 skein

Needles: US 13 and US 9 straights

Notes: Inspired by Amy's recent Saturday Market Bag over at Good to Be Girl, I followed Disdressed's modifications for making 2 handles. Worked like a charm! Unfortunately, I did not follow Rhonda's mods for knitting it in the round. If you make one, knit it in the round!!! Seaming up the lacy sides is a huge pain. There's no real border, so it's hard to do it neatly. Like Disdressed, I knit the body of the bag in one piece, folding it in half. I thought it would be stronger not to have a big sewn seam across the bottom; however, a nice cast-on or bound-off edge would make one seam across the bottom quite easy and sturdy.

Here's an action shot:
Spring has also put me in the mood for all things twee. I'm in love with the pink, pompom-bedecked slippers I found on clearance at Target:
They're completely over the top. It's hard to find slippers/shoes that fit my ski-like feet. I think I'll go back and pick up a couple more pairs "to spare." Invariably I step in cat barf or spill coffee on my slippers -- they don't last long here. In fact, Kylie puked in my favorite Puma sneakers last week -- now I need to go shoe shopping.

I also picked up buttons for the little green baby sweater:

Monday, April 07, 2008

trains and things

The whole movie thing was no April Fool's Day joke. Seriously, my block was a movie location all last week. I didn't get to see either Johnny Depp or Christian Bale up close (alas!). Instead, I slept poorly all week because a truck with about 5000 cables coming out of it ran all night long directly outside my bedroom window. Sigh...

Here's a pic of a scene they filmed using a vintage (or reproduction?) El car. If you look closely, you can see that the "riders" are actually mannequins dressed in 1930s garb.
Despite spring fever and lots of reading, some knitting has taken place:
Pattern: Cherry Red Handwarmers, by Creativeyarn
Yarn: Jaeger Extra Fine Merino DK (sadly discontinued)
Needles: US 5 Lantern Moon rosewood straights

DK-weight is the way to go with this pattern. The pattern's yarn specifications are slightly cryptic, because Creativeyarn lives in Italy and yarn is categorized differently there. The mesh pattern is slightly looser than the ribbing. The ribbing itself is slightly tight on my arms, so I would go up one needle size for the arm ribbing, then stick with the smaller needles for the lace pattern and hand ribbing. I'm a big fan of this yarn; it's too bad that it has been discontinued. It's very springy and soft.

An old FO that never received a proper post:
Not the best photo, I'm afraid, but it's all I have.

Pattern: Easy-and-Elegant Cabled Mittens for the Whole Family, by Marci Richardson
Source: 101 Designer One-Skein Wonders
Yarn: Mountain Colors, Mountain Goat, Lupine
Needles: US 3 bamboo DPNs

What a great pattern! It's easy to follow and well-written. Plus it has a wide range of sizes. I had to go down a couple needle sizes, as usual. The yarn was very hard to photograph, and looks much nicer than the photo. The mohair made me itchy and sneezy though, which is a bummer.

Recipe Round-Up
Rave reviews go to:
- Chewy Brownie Peanut Butter Chip Cookies over at Baking Bites
- Lemon Artichoke Pesto, by Kristi over at Fiber Fool
I tossed it with thin spaghetti and served it with grilled chicken breasts seasoned with Penzeys' Trinidad seasoning (a mixture of coarse salt, lemon peel, garlic, clove, and ginger)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Guess what's happening in the back alley tonight?

Universal Studios production trucks and camera crews are lining the streets of my neighborhood, and our back alley is hosting all the action. A couple of handsome devils are involved:

Mmm... Johnny Depp. The movie is Public Enemies.