Sunday, August 31, 2008

the fruits of my labor

Very little actual "labor" is taking place chez Caffeinated Yarn over the long holiday weekend. Instead I've been knitting, hitting the farmer's market, watching movies and WI Badger football, going to BBQs, and heading up to Ravinia to see Aimee Mann and Squeeze! The concert should be a blast from the past. Last weekend I saw the English Beat, who were still pretty good live, though I'm not sure how many people from the original line-up are still in the band. They, of course, played a couple General Public tunes, too.

Katie's lovely garter stitch shawl inspired me to cast on. I'm using Manos Silk Blend in Juniper, re-purposed from my ill-fated lace wrap (no amount of blocking could get it to lie flat):The pattern is the Weaver's Wool Mini Shawl, made popular by knitting genius Terhi at Mustaa Villaa. Mmm... the silk blend is lovely, though I'm sure it will pill like mad. Now I'm dying to try Malabrigo's Silky Merino, which I haven't seen in Chicago or Madison yet.

A while back I knit up another Windy City hat prototype, this time for a dear family friend who gave me a boatload of sterling silver and silver plate serving dishes (including enormous chafing dishes!!! I could host the most elegant tailgate party ever).
Knit Picks Andean Silk, navy

My little Noro number from my last post is drying and will receive a proper post soon. Thanks, too, for all for suggesting that I contact Lantern Moon! I sent them an email but have not heard back yet.

watching :: In Bruges -- meh.

Hamlet 2 -- simultaneously horrifying and hilarious. Not for the faint of heart, as Steve Coogan's character provokes a similar type of mind-bending embarrassment that Michael Scott on the Office does, but EVEN MORE SO. The irreverent musical number "Rock Me Sexy Jesus" truly is the highlight, and Elisabeth Shue is a very good sport. 'Nuf said.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

oh, snap!

Disaster struck at knitting circle the other night. Much to my horror, when I opened my knitting bag, I found my one and only pair of Lantern Moon rosewood needles in this state:
Hmmm... not pleased with the durability of these needles, especially considering the high price. Back to Brittany Birch as my luxury needles of choice! That will teach me to splurge.
Startitis has struck, too, I'm afraid, but at least I'm actually finishing up the new projects I'm casting on. This little number is already ready for a dip in some Eucalan:
In the kitchen:
Black Bean and Goat Cheese Quesadillas
(adapted from a Cooking Light recipe)

1 tsp. olive or canola oil, plus a little more for cooking the quesadillas at the end
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup salsa – this plays a large part in the overall flavor! Use something that's not too watery.
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper (or to taste)
Tabasco or hot pepper sauce, to taste
1 (19-ounce) can black beans, undrained
1/2 cup roasted corn (frozen is fine)
1/3 cup minced fresh cilantro
1 (4-ounce) package goat cheese, crumbled
8 (8-inch) red chile flour tortillas – available at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s
Top with any of the following:
light sour cream

Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, and saute for 3 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup salsa, cumin, cayenne pepper, Tabasco, and beans, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes or until thick. Mash the bean mixture slightly with a potato masher. Stir in corn; heat gently just to warm up the corn. Remove from heat; stir in the cilantro and goat cheese.

Spread the bean mixture evenly over 4 tortillas; top each with 1 tortilla, pressing gently.

Heat a small amount of olive oil (Cooking Light calls for 1/4 tsp., but I find I need a little more than that) in pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 quesadilla, and cook for 2 minutes on each side. Repeat!

It works well to keep the quesadillas warm in the oven while you’re cooking the rest of them.


reading :: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver

watching :: Spaced & Slings and Arrows (season 1)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

au natural

I'm enamored of the rustic, natural feel to both of my latest projects. I'm ready for fall, earthy naturals, and cool temps.

Pattern: Feather and Fan Comfort Shawl, by Sarah Bradberry
Yarn: Noro Silk Garden, 88D, 3.5 skeins
Needles: Clover US 7 bamboo circs
Notes: Next time I would use larger needles, probably size 9. This color has been discontinued, and the number of skeins in my stash limited the size of the shawl (shoulder size). Beautiful colorway, but plenty of knots in this batch! The pattern is extremely clear and well-written.
Yet another owl hat, this time for me! Yes, Paul and I can be disgustingly matchy-matchy this winter.
Pattern: Owl Hat, by Ruthie Nussbaum
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Green Line Worsted, "Echo," less than 1 skein
Needles: Clover US 6 bamboo circs

Notes: Mods -- 81 sts for ribbing, increased to 88 for stockinette section after ribbing.

The yarn bled like crazy! All over my circular needles, DPNs, fingers (as evidenced below); I even started leaving purpley-brown fingerprints on my camera and doors. So I contacted Beth at Lorna's, who was super nice about it. She explained that I have one of the first batches of Green Line, back when they used natural dyes. She offered to swap me for some of the newer (non-bleeding) Green Line, or recommended that I just keep on rinsing. It took 14 rinses before the water ended up clear-ish (not entirely clear, mind you).

I do love the semisolid color, and the yarn is nice and soft (and organic, to boot). So I would definitely try the new version of Green Line, but I recommend that you steer clear from the earliest batches.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Pattern: Windy City Hat

ETA#2: Apparently I can't count! I've updated the gauge info below.
ETA: Pattern is now available as a PDF
Ravelry download, too.

The Bears are already playing pre-season football games, and there was a cold bite to the air at North Avenue Beach the other night. Time to start knitting hats!

I designed this hat as a holiday gift for my dear friend Suzy last winter. I was inspired by the lace pattern that Melissa (AKA Indigo Mouse) used on the cuffs of her lovely Queen of Diamonds Fingerless Gloves (available here, too). Many thanks to Suzy for modeling!

Windy City Hat


Fits the average woman’s head. Add or subtract stitches in 8 stitch increments and adjust decrease rounds as needed.


  • Soft worsted weight wool or wool blend, approx. 110 yds. Suggested yarns: Knit Picks Andean Silk, The Plucky Knitter’s Merino Worsted, Cascade 220. The first time I made this hat with Andean Silk, I had to break into the second ball. The second time I got by with just one ball. So be on the safe side and buy two – you can always make a pair of Fetching or another hat with the extra.
  • US 7 circular needles (16”) and DPNs or size needed for gauge
  • Tapestry needle


19 sts = 4"

Be sure to check your gauge. I’m a loose knitter – I actually used US 6 needles. You may even need to use US 8.

The Plucky Knitter’s Worsted Merino (single ply) in “Cheeky”


Cast on 80 stitches using either the cable cast-on or long-tail cast-on. Place marker and join to knit in the round.

Rows 1 – 4: work in k2, p2 ribbing

Rows 5 – 8: k all stitches

Row 9: (ssk, k1, yo, k1, yo, k1, k2tog, k1)

Row 10: k all stitches

Row 11: (ssk, k1, yo, k1, yo, k1, k2tog, k1)

Row 12: k all stitches

Row 13: (yo, ssk, k3, k2tog, yo, k1)

Row 14: k all stitches

Row 15: (k1, yo, ssk, k1, k2tog, yo, k2)

Row 16: k all stitches

Row 17: (k2, yo, sl2tog-k1-psso, yo, k3)

Row 18: k all stitches

Rows 19 – 28: repeat rows 9 – 18

Rows 29 – 42: k all stitches

*If you like having a longer hat that fully covers your ears, work a few more rows in stockinette*

Shape crown:
Switch to DPNs when it becomes too difficult to work on circular needles.

Row 43: (k8, k2tog)

Row 44: (k7, k2tog)

Row 45: (k6, k2tog)

Row 46: (k5, k2tog)

Row 47: (k4, k2tog)

Row 48: (k3, k2tog)

Row 49: (k2, k2tog)

Row 50: (k1, k2tog)

Row 51: k all stitches

Break yarn, leaving a 10" tail. Using a tapestry needle, thread the tail through the remaining loops on the needle and pull tightly until the hat top is closed. Weave in ends.

Pattern & images © Jodi Haraldson, 2008.

Pattern for personal and charity use only.

Knit Picks Andean Silk in “Cranberry”

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

let the holiday knitting begin!

I'm following Chris' lead and getting started on holiday gifts! I don't usually do much holiday knitting, but I want to give some small projects to friends this year.

Here's yet another Windy City hat (I'll share the pattern soon -- just need to get some good modeled photos), as well as some Irish Hiking Wristwarmers. I'm using The Plucky Knitter's merino worsted (single ply -- not sure if she still carries this base yarn) in "Cheeky." It's super soft and gorgeous -- reminds me of Mmmmmalabrigo.
Lisa Lloyd's A Fine Fleece is a lovely book for both spinners and non-spinning knitters alike. So many beautiful, timeless cable patterns! Consider yourself warned, though, that the sweater shaping is traditional/boxy rather than fitted. I picked it up after reading good reviews here and here. I just cast on for a Twilight Scarf, one of the few non-cabled patterns:

I'm using Knit Picks Gloss Lace in Aegean. The yarn has a nice crunch to it. It's not the softest, but that's fine
Reading :: The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell
An engrossing, thoughtful, and suspeneful novel! Who knew that a sci fi novel featuring Jesuit priests could be so interesting?

Watching :: the latest Inspector Lynley mystery
I'm so sad that the BBC cancelled Lynley! There's only 1 episode left. Apparently the actors had no idea the end was in sight when they were shooting.

Capricha in bed

Thursday, August 07, 2008

more owl-y goodness

May I present Owl hat numero tres:
Pattern: Owl Hat, by Ruthie Nussbaum
Yarn: Patons Classic Wool Merino, Charcoal, less than 1 ball
Needles: US 6 Clover bamboo circs

Another one for Paul, as his last one stretched out with wear. I reduced the number of stitches (88 total after the ribbing), used smaller needles, and moved the owl cable pattern closer to the ribbing. I'm not sick of the pattern yet!

Though I still have the sleeves left to knit on my February "me" sweater, I'm already swatching for my next sweater:
Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk for Ysolda's gorgeous Liesl (round neck, 3/4 sleeves).

A family friend recently gave me a treasure trove of silver and silverplate serving dishes. Gorgeous stuff, far too elegant for my current lifestyle, but I'm excited to display and use them sometime down the road. So I'm knitting her a hat and scarf set as a *very small* token of my appreciation. The hat is done (and I'll be sharing the pattern soon, so no pic yet), but the Lacy Waves scarf is a WIP.
EXCEPT... I somehow managed to lose the other knitting needle. How exactly does one lose a size 10.5 bamboo needle? Craziness. The scarf's not thrilling me anyway, so I may frog and pick something else that works on a different size of needle, as I'm too busy with school & work right now to make it to a yarn store (I'd rather spend that time knitting, enjoying a glass of wine with Paul, and snuggling with my sweet kitties).
Listening :: The Replacements, Don't Tell a Soul (love that 1980s Minnesota rock scene)

Reading :: Elizabeth Jane Howard, The Light Years & Marking Time (vols . 1 & 2 of the Cazalet Chronicle)

Friday, August 01, 2008


Coming back from vacation can be rough. Colorado is so beautiful. I love the laid-back vibe in Boulder, the wildflowers, the fresh air up in the mountains, seeing snow in the middle of summer, etc.

I visited two marvelous independent bookstores (Boulder Book Store and Tattered Cover), experienced the sinus-clearing power of the Mint Room at the Celestial Seasonings factory, hiked in the mountains, drank delicious microbrews, and visited with family and friends. I only hit one yarn store, and I didn't even buy anything, although a lovely 100% Bebe Maillebox kit by Bouton d'Or was calling my name.
Here's Lake Isabelle, up in Indian Peaks. See why I didn't want to come home to Chicago?

It has been very hot, both in CO and here in Chi-town, so knitting has been less frequent than usual. I have been cooking, including an indoor picnic last Tuesday.
Albuquerque Corn Salad, from Cooking Light (not quite as delicious as Avocado Corn Salad)

Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates, from the blog Everybody Likes Sandwiches
(chilling these overnight greatly enhances the lemon flavor)

More knitting content soon, I promise, including a free pattern.