Friday, August 27, 2010

summer's bounty

numero uno
If you're a Doctor Who fan at all, you need to go check this out immediately (hat tip to Hilary). 


in the kitchen
One of Paul's coworkers generously shared a bounty of tomatoes from her garden with us. 

Inspired by a certain rooster, I made a French tomato tart.  Delicious!  I used plenty of strong, French whole grain mustard, chives, fresh goat cheese, and a drizzle of Wisconsin honey.  An aged goat cheese would be delicious, too, but I was feeling budget-conscious (and too lazy to trek any further than Trader Joe's).  I, too, cut down a bit on the butter in the dough, and it was plenty wet without any additional water.
off the needles
Already off the needles and onto my feet!  An actual pair of socks -- first pair since August 2007.  Granted they're more like footies, but still, it feels like a milestone. Or perhaps a turning point?  We'll see.

Yarn: Koigu KPPM, 1 skein (175 yds)
Needles: US 2.5 Knit Picks Harmony DPNs

A clever little pattern with a very unusual construction technique!  There's some seaming midway through, and you have to pick up some stitches pretty carefully to avoid getting holes, but it's not bad.  The socks are cute and comfy, and they go well with my Danskos.  A slightly smaller ankle opening would be nice, but I'm not sure that I care enough to fool around with the pattern.  I'll definitely be making more of these, as they're quick and useful.  I'd like to think that this pattern might help me make a dent in my stash of sock yarn, but it takes so few yards that it isn't really the case!  I had a bit of yarn leftover from my 1 skein of Koigu, so no need to be stressed about running out of yarn.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

not a shawl, for once

Fall must be in the air, as I have socks on the needles:

Scandinavian clog sock

The only thing that's different this time is that I might actually finish the pair right away! The pattern's called Turkish Bed Socks, from Churchmouse Yarns & Teas on Bainbridge Island, a place I've been wanting to visit for ages but just haven't made it to yet.  It's my first time using Koigu, though I've had a few skeins marinating in the stash for years.

These socks are supposed to be great with Danskos, which sounds perfect, as I wear Danskos all the time once sandal season ends.  Egads, my foot looks ghostly pale!
Thanks to everyone for such lovely comments on my last post!  I appreciate each and every one. Ever since I switched from Haloscan to Blogger comments, I've had a terrible time replying to comments (hitting "reply" just doesn't work for many people).  If anyone has any tips, please share!

Monday, August 23, 2010

summer flies

Indeed it does.

summer flies
Pattern: Summer Flies, by Holly Griffin-Weidner and Donna Griffin
Yarn: OrangeFlower merino/bamboo sock, raspberry, ~3/4 skein (330 yds.)
Needles: Clover US 6 bamboo circs

summer flies

The pattern was a delight to knit, and it involved enough elements that I never got bored with it.  The knotted openwork section required concentration. The picot bind-off was new to me and took a while to do, but the end result is fluttery and lovely.

I really like the butterfly details:
summer flies

I think Beatrix Potter would approve. It looked awfully small as I was knitting it, and I had to fight the urge to embiggen it.  Good choice, as it blocked out to the perfect size. Plus I had plenty of yarn for a change.
summer flies

urban oasis

When we moved into our new place, the deck off the back door looked like a trash heap, littered with an old mop, a bottle of bleach, an electric juicer (still in its box), dead plants, etc. I had high hopes for the space, though Paul thought it was a lost cause.

urban oasis

It doesn't receive a ton of light, but enough for my plants.

There isn't a ton of room back there, but it's spacious enough for this bistro set (where I've been drinking my morning coffee), plus we have the cute Restoration Hardware chair and a grill, as well (not pictured).

urban oasis

Getting used to the lack of outdoor living space was one of the hardest parts about adjusting to Chicago for me.  Seven years later, I've made myself a little green place outside, and it's delightful!  Our neighbors couldn't believe the transformation, and described its former state as a wasteland. In fact, they were inspired to clean up their area, too, and plant a windowbox. Not too shabby for what's essentially a gussied-up fire escape.
kitty-cat weirdness

Capricha in one of her trademark poses:
Capricha with Winnie the Pooh

She loves to stand on top of Winnie the Pooh and slowly knead him with her front paws while she goes into an ecstatic trance.  We call it "giving Pooh the business." What an odd girl!
Capricha with Winnie the Pooh

Monday, August 16, 2010

pink moon

on the needles
Something new!  Brokeknits pointed out the Summer Flies shawlette pattern a few days ago, and I was enchanted. See the rows of little butterflies?  Whimsical and cute, but not too twee.  I'm using yet more OrangeFlower yarn from my stash -- Merino Bamboo Sock in raspberry.  The bamboo content gives the yarn great sheen and a bit of crunch, plus it makes the yarn take the dye in a sunwashed, subtle way.  It's so pretty.  That said, I do miss the super soft squishiness of merino/cashmere/nylon yarn. I have a feeling this is going to fly off the needles. ;-)  groan...

in the post

The ever generous and thoughtful Mia sent me this amazing parcel of goodies:

Not only did she knit me some pink fingerless gloves (which fit perfectly!) and a posh bamboo spa washcloth, she even knit a Traveling Woman shawlette!  I suppose it's fitting, as I knit the exact same pattern for her last winter.  It's so pretty -- she used handspun yarn from roving dyed by Scout.  I can't wait for some cooler weather so that I can wear it!

There's also fancy "tequila" soap from Biggs & Featherbelle, homemade jam (yum!), and books, Needles and Pearls and The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family, which is of great interest to me as I'm a big fan of The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate.  Any book about an eccentric family in a crumbling British estate pretty much has my name written all over it.

Mia also sent me a bounty of her gorgeous handspun yarn.  Lots of blues, in nice, heavy aran weights. Any suggestions for patterns that really showcase handspun?  The skeins range from 196 to 300 yds.
lesson learned. twice.

Fresh off my finishing high from Hemlock Ring, I picked up Gaenor again and chugged along at a brisk pace.  Much to my chagrin, I ran out of yarn quite a few rows from the end...  Yeah, relying on guesstimation to figure out when I was halfway out of yarn didn't work at all.  
This is beautiful yarn -- OrangeFlower's 50/50 merino silk fingering in "leafy green." Naturally I don't see any more of it on Ravelry, and she doesn't do repeatable colorways.  I'm waffling between ripping back a little more than halfway or just ripping out the whole thing. Both the pattern and the yarn are amazing, but a springier merino with more body might work better with the pattern and the sawtooth edging.  The silk content gives this yarn lots of wonderful drape, but it may not be the best for the pattern.

After this knitting fail, I asked Paul whether I should start something new or resurrect a project from the graveyard of abandoned knitting.  His look of surprise at the existence of said graveyard prompted me to rummage around amidst the shades of handknits past.  I emerged with this Damson:
Another project where I had run out of yarn!  I had started the contrast edging last summer, but was stymied by Row 109, in which you do some fancy "(k1, p1) twice into the double YO" action.  Apparently doing something similar on my Hemlock Ring enabled me to wrap my head around the concept, so I quickly did the last row and bound off.  It just needs a good blocking (and a proper FO post). 
notes to self
1) check yardage
2) check gauge
3) weigh yarn
I'm very busy with proofreading for work right now, and Kylie insists on helping.  That cat...

Monday, August 09, 2010

almost there...

off the needles
Hemlock Ring, in need of a thorough blocking.  That fancy bind-off took freakin' forever, so it had better look awesome when it's blocked.  Knitting this actually went pretty quickly, thanks to a cache of Masterpiece Mystery episodes on the DVR.  Plus it helped immensely to know that Barefoot Rooster was out there knitting a gorgeous brown Hemlock Ring at the same time. ;-)  Knitting camaradarie is the best.
in the kitchen
Pasta with fresh corn pesto, recipe courtesy of Lottie + Doof (adapted from Bon Appetit August 2010). This was amazingly delicious.  I did some tweaking of my own, as we had no bacon in the house.  Instead I just sauteed the corn in a bit of olive oil.  I subbed egg papardelle for the tagliatelle, added extra red chile flakes, and cut back a little bit on the oil.  Yum!  Sorry for the crummy photography -- neither food styling nor using the flash bulb is my strong suit.
Craigslist bounty
 Major score off Craigslist today!  Paul's picking up one of these Restoration Hardware vintage-style chairs for me as we speak.  I'll post pics in situ very soon.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

best. cookies. ever.

 in the kitchen

The melt-in-your-mouth buttermilk chocolate cookies recipe from Baking Bites truly lives up to its name.  These are amazingly good.  Rich and chocolatey, chewy and just a little bit tangy.  The recipe doesn't call for any eggs, which is surprising and also very handy to have in your recipe arsenal.  Then again, it's quite rare that my fridge is stocked with buttermilk but no eggs.
on & off the needles

The baby boom continues among my friends and relative (it must be an early-thirties thing), so I'm working on baby gifts!  This is my first foray into knitting wool soakers, a concept that's simultaneously awesome and kind of gross. 
Pattern: Adaptation, by Connie Stults (free!)
Yarn: Stonehedge Fiber Mill Shepherd's Wool, "Lakeshore," ~ 2/3 skein
Needles: US 5 and 7 straights, US 7 DPNs
Size: medium (21" hips)

An easy and quick pattern!  These are knit flat in one piece and then seamed up the sides.  You then pick up stitches for the legs.  I had a hard time figuring out how loosely to bind off the leg openings.  We'll see how they work!  Next time I'd try a pattern that's knit in the round, as the seams may be a bit annoying.  These are worn over bulky diapers, so the seams won't be next to the skin at least.
on the tube

I'm totally hooked on The Fabulous Beekman Boys on the Green channel this summer.  Brent and Josh, a couple of "big city" guys, have renovated a beautiful farm in upstate New York and are building a business making goat cheese and goat milk soap, two of my favorite things in the world. These guys are a hoot, and I just love how Farmer John cares so much for his goats.  Brent's really something -- kind of a drama queen, and Josh manages to keep the couple tethered down to earth. Josh, of course, is a Wisconsin native. :-)
Aren't their goats adorable?  

On the subject of cheese and Wisconsin, check out this recent Lottie & Doof (foodie) blog post on visiting Madison, my alma mater. If you haven't made it to Madison yet, you should go now.  Like stat. But don't tell me about it, as I'll be very jealous.