Wednesday, December 31, 2008

there and back again

Paul and I made it to Milwaukee, Minneapolis, back to Milwaukee, and home again without any more meltdowns of our own. Many thanks for all the kind comments on my last post.

It's a real bitch to see your families' health declining, though. Dementia, back problems, MS, Parkinson's-like symptoms... the guilt you feel at not being there to help combines with extreme relief to create an emotional sinkhole. December 08 has been rough. My hope for the New Year is for things to be easier for a while. Heck, I think the whole country could use that.

So comfort knitting has been in order. Another feather and fan shawl is on the needles: This time I'm using Noro's Cashmere Island rather than Silk Garden. It's soft and free of allergy-inducing mohair, but I do miss the silk sheen. It's labeled as a DK weight, so I went with size 8 needles, but size 9 or 10 might be better. We'll see how it blocks out. BTW, you can score some Cashmere Island for a song at both Webs and Little Knits (which also has Malabrigo Dos).

Before Christmas a friend and I braved the snow for a trip to the Garfield Park Conservatory. It was a real treat on a grey day.
the holiday poinsettia exhibit

I received numerous warnings about how rough the neighborhood was, but it seemed OK to me, especially in the middle of they day. I highly recommend it, and it's easily accessible by the blue line. I'm already planning to return in the summer to see the outdoor gardens.
the aroid house

One more thing: a link to the Vampire Weekend concert at SXSW (from NPR).

Happy New Year to all!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

in which the fates continue to conspire against me

Today was filled with lovely surprises, such as:

- having to call campus police because a creepy guy was lurking around my very empty department and following me

- a broken furnace + a 48-degree house

- a Jeep that won't start


Here's hoping that everyone else is having a much better countdown to Christmas.

Monday, December 22, 2008


Last week was rough chez Caffeinated Yarn. Here's the score:
food poisoning: 1
Jodi: 0

Due to my "trick stomach" I haven't had coffee since last Monday. This is a new record; I haven't gone this long without the magical bean juice since I was 15. But I'm finally feeling much better. For a while there I was too sick even to read or knit. The horror!

The shopping, baking, and gift wrapping are almost complete. We're making the cold, snowy trek to Minneapolis on the 24th. Let's hope that Old Man Winter cooperates.

A new scarf for my mother-in-law:
Pattern: Just Enough Ruffles, by Laura Chau
Yarn: Classic Elite Lush, Granny Smith, 3 skeins
50% merino, 50% angora
Needles: Clover US 8 bamboo circs

I cast on an extra 20 stitches to get a bit more length. I only worked 13 short rows on each side, as I was needlessly afraid of running out of yarn again.

The "apple green" Malabrigo was just too bright for me in the end. I picked up this soft angora-blend yarn at Lakeside Fibers on a day trip to Madison. It's one of my favorite yarn stores, especially on a cold wintry day when you can relax with a cup of delicious coffee while looking out upon beautiful Lake Monona. Madison, oh how I miss you! Someday I'll be back... unless Boulder or Portland steals my heart, that is.

Wearing this scarf is like snuggling with a bunny's soft tummy. Heavenly!
I couldn't resist knitting yet another Owl Hat. I've even used this exact yarn before (Patons Classic Wool Merino, grey mix). It's fun to knit every time. This one's for my brother-in-law, who has demonstrated a surprising appreciation for handknits in the past.

2006 cookie of the day: Kanelkakor (Swedish Walnut-Cinnamon Cookies)

Happy Solstice to all!

With love from chilly Chicago,

Monday, December 15, 2008

a cookie a day...

The Christmas knitting isn't done yet, but I took a break from it during an especially stressful point last week. I picked up the Malabrigo cowl neck sweater that has been languishing shamefully in a corner since last March:Half-done with the second sleeve... This is a minor triumph since I procrastinate knitting sleeves. I have no fewer than 3 sweater bodies that just need sleeves. Perhaps I should start knitting sweater vests? Unfortunately I think they'd be rather unflattering. What has really helped me this time is thinking of the sleeves as mini-scarves.
I picked up some Malabrigo for another Just Enough Ruffles scarf. This one's destined for my MIL, who requested an apple green scarf. Now Malabrigo calls this color "apple green." My internal color-ometer is going off, though -- it seems more like an acid green. Any thoughts? What springs to mind when you think of apple green?

The tree's going up tonight, and I have big plans in the baking department. In December 2006, I posted a cookie recipe a day from the 15th through 24th. How about a trip down memory lane?

Dec. 15, 2006: my German great-grandmother's Pfefferneusse recipe

Capricha in her standard winter pose

Monday, December 08, 2008


I finished up my Just Enough Ruffles right before the pattern was "Harlotted." This pattern is well worth all the attention! It's fun to knit, easy to follow, and it showcases soft yarns quite nicely. I'm planning to knit two more -- one for my MIL (apple green), and one for me (light grey).
Pattern: Just Enough Ruffles, by Laura Chau
Yarn: Lion Cashmere Blend, cream, 4.2 skeins
Needles: US 9 Clover bamboo circs

I was lucky to find a fellow Raveler (veganpurls) who had some of this yarn on her destash page, in the exact same dyelot. Hurray for Ravelry! I was also lucky enough to receive a beautiful skein of handspun superwash merino from Micki, spinner extraordinaire. It's just gorgeous!

And I was also very lucky to receive this book from Kelly:
I must admit to being terribly out of it when it comes to all the latest vampire books/movies/shows. My friends were discussing them at knitting circle a few weeks ago, then my in-laws did likewise at Thanksgiving, and I felt like I'd been living under a rock. Or perhaps in Plato's cave? I blame grad school.
Kylie Cat hard at work,
testing the temperature of towels fresh from the dryer

P.S. Check out Melissa's blog for a detailed examination of how cats help do laundry. I think Artemis and Kylie are kindred spirits.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Fred's Ascot

All that time in the car over the Thanksgiving weekend paid off:
Pattern: Anthro-Inspired Scarflet, by Kim Seio (rav link)
Yarn: The Plucky Knitter Aran Cashmere ~ Pumpkin Latte, 1.25 skeins Needles: US 8 Clover bamboo straights

A quick-to-knit project that's great for using precious yarns in small amounts. Congrats to Kim for writing a lovely pattern! The yarn is supremely luscious, and the colors look nice with my corduroy fall coat. The only downside is that it's now December and the snowy weather here in Chicago calls for more serious winter gear.

Also, it reminds Paul of Fred from Scooby Doo.
I must admit Paul has a point. Maybe I should have picked a different color?

On the Hi-Fi:
- Fleet Foxes
- Blitzen Trapper, Furr
- Simon and Garfunkel, The Sounds of Silence
- Matt Pond PA, Winter Songs