Tuesday, May 25, 2010

exile in boxville

The movers come tomorrow, and I'm paying the penalty now for spending the weekend with my new best friend:
Paul and I attended one of the nicest weddings ever this past weekend. It took place at the bride's family's home in the rolling hills west of Madison, in Wisconsin's beautiful Driftless Region. Horses, dogs, local craft-brewed beers, Wisconsin cheese, plenty of sunshine and flowers... heavenly. Paul had a tough time coaxing me back into the Jeep to return to Chicago!
things I wish I were knitting:

- this sock pattern from Churchmouse Yarns & Teas. Don't they look cute with Danskos?

- a wee squirrel from this free pattern at Brooklyn General Store (see the May 1 entry for the PDF link)

Friday, May 14, 2010

friday potpourri

A pilgrimage for more yarn is in order for my gargantuan crochet project (betcha didn't see that one coming!), so I'm keeping busy with wee little sweaters for now:
pattern: Baby Kina, by Muriel Agator
size: 6 months
yarn: Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino #34007, 2 skeins
needles: Clover US 4 16" DPNs
on ravelry

Super easy and very cute pattern! The construction is just perfect. I predict that I'll make many more of these as shower gifts. I love knitting with Baby Cashmerino, too, and it comes in such a beautiful color palette. The yarn was purchased at Chix with Stix, a very friendly and well-stocked yarn shop in Forest Park. I don't get there nearly often enough, as I'm not a huge fan of driving on the Ike (AKA I-290). If you're from Chicago, you know what I mean...

When knitting the row after buttonholes, I knit the buttonhole YO through the back loop, which wasn't the best idea, as the resulting buttonholes are awfully small (and they're quite close together). Using a 16" circular needle also wasn't the wisest plan -- everything felt bunched up and tight.
another little sweater in progress:
Elizabeth Zimmermann's Tomten Jacket. I'm using "moss"-colored Knit Picks Swish DK from ye olde stash. Miles of mindless garter stitch ! I started one of these using some precious handspun long ago, but ran out of yarn and abandoned the project.

I'm still agonizing over what color to paint our bedroom tomorrow. It's down to Frozen Pond, Clear Pond, and Ozone. Blueish-greenish-grey? or greenish-blueish-grey? It probably doesn't make a substantial difference... Paul's no help with decision-making, as he's color-blind and detests painting to boot. ;-)

Kylie has devoted much of her free time this spring to a new hobby:
Ripping tufts of fluff out of her cat bed with her teeth, then spitting them out vigorously! The polyester fluff carnage is absolutely amazing. She doesn't seem to mind wandering around covered in fluff either. That girl...
things I'd like to make:

- happy hangers, by Dottie Angel (look at Alicia's! Everything she touches is just magical)
- crocheted stash baskets, a free pattern on the Purl Bee blog
- felted knitting basket tutorial via Martha Stewart (Paul has a beautiful Irish aran cardigan that he won't wear b/c it's just too itchy. Also, it lends a bulky, Michelin Man-like look that isn't terribly attractive).

things I find intriguing:

- this New Criterion review of Wigs on the Green, a new-to-me Nancy Mitford book (but not new in general, of course -- 1935)
- Laura Bush on Larry King Live, supporting gay marriage and the right to choice
- The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls -- I highly recommend it, and it's a good book to think with when it comes to family, priorities, and self-responsibility

Thursday, May 06, 2010

dispatch from box island

Boxes, boxes everywhere. I listened to an NPR piece about hoarders yesterday while I was packing for our upcoming move, and it hit a little too close to home. Books! Yarn! Cookbooks! Tea! Yikes...
What's keeping me sane right now:
- Nightingale Wood, by Stella Gibbons (who wrote Cold Comfort Farm, one of my all-time favorite books and movies). I'm enjoying it, though it's not nearly as witty as CCF. Perfect for the Anglophile, though.

- a new (enormous) crochet project, the so-called "stripy dog blanket" from The Cool Girl's Guide to Crochet (terrible title, dumb cover, but cute patterns). Perhaps a better name would be "stripy human blanket"? ;-)

I'm using six shades of Lion Brand Nature's Choice Organic Cotton -- dusty sage, dusty blue, strawberry, blueberry, almond, walnut, and pistachio. Mmm... doesn't that sound delicious? I love when the strawberry, walnut, and almond colors coincide, as it looks just like Neapolitan ice cream. The yarn is soft and cushy, probably destined to pill, and it's going to be a very heavy blanket. I'm using a J hook, and it's just half double crochet, changing colors every row.

in the kitchen:
Peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookies! You couldn't squeeze too many more good things into those, could you? I found the recipe on someone's blog, but for the life of me I can't find it now. It's adapted from this recipe, with a few variations:

- skip the eggs and substitute 2 T. flax seeds + 6 T. water, stirred together
- add 1 C. chocolate chips at the end

I used all butter rather than 1/2 shortening, as shortening kind of skeeves me out.

A couple more cookie recipes calling out to me:
- white chocolate and pistachio sugar cookies
- hazelnut chocolate chip cookies

Sunday, May 02, 2010

preparing for the next onslaught of new babies

When you hit your early 30s, it begins to seem as if babies are lurking behind every corner, ready to pop up anywhere, anytime! I'm working on some projects for the next round of my friends' wee new arrivals:
Pattern: Hip to Be Square Blanket, by Jennifer Braico
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Chunky, color #17007, 7? skeins
Needles: Clover US 10.5 bamboo circs
~ on Ravelry ~


Quite a few skeins of the Cashmerino Chunky had knots. Boo! It's a soft, squishy, cozy yarn nevertheless. 71 yds per skein means a lot of joins and ends to weave in.

Easy pattern. The 4-stitch applied i-cord edging looks nice, but it’s not my favorite thing to do. I checked out both tutorials recommended by the pattern designer, among others. The k3, sl1, k1, psso method worked best for me.

When working parallel to the blanket for the i-cord border, I picked up 3 sts for every 4. When working perpendicular, I picked up every stitch.

I would recommend going up a needle size or two for the i-cord edging. Also, don’t pull too tight, or it ends up distorting the blanket.


So I had a good amount of Cashmerino Chunky leftover from the blanket, plus a bunch of partial skeins and odd bits from my beloved giant granny square. Wouldn't it be great to use up all of this Cashmerino? Maybe with some granny squares for a stroller blanket?

If you're a long-term Caffeinated Yarn reader, you know exactly where this is going... Using up stash yarn never goes as smoothly as I anticipate:

Yep, while I do have enough dark pink for the borders, I'm out of contrasting yarn with two squares left to finish:
Typical. However, a couple of Ravelers are coming to the rescue! Knitters truly are the nicest people.

You'll never guess what Colin Meloy (of Decemberists fame) and Carson Ellis are up to! Carson (a knitter, of course) has blogged about it here.