Thursday, October 30, 2014

shattered sun

When I saw a sample of the shattered sun shawl at Windy Knitty (my favorite Chicago yarn store), I just had to make it. Immediately. I bought the yarn that night and cast on right away. Lo and behold, a finished shawl! This is really unusual for me. I tend to dither about what to knit, and yarn marinates in the stash for a good while. The experience was refreshing, and I love the shawlette.
pattern: shattered sun shawl, by Felicia Lo
yarn: madelinetosh tosh merino light, esoteric, 1 skein (420 yds.)
needles: Clover US 5/3.75 mm bamboo circs

Tosh merino light is incredibly soft and cozy. Yes, it will pill, but it's like butter to knit, and it's wonderful to wrap around your neck. Unlike my last Madelinetosh yarn experience, this skein had just one break/knot. The pattern is well-written. My only complaint is that I don't love the ruffle and the bind-off, but that's minor and merely a personal preference. I had a little yarn to spare at the end, but not much.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


How quickly a year passes... Erik turned one, and we celebrated Peter Rabbit-style. How I love this sweet, funny boy of ours.

Carrot cake, which Erik loved. He didn't know what to do at first, but then just about polished off his whole cupcake (though a good number of crumbs bedecked his high chair afterward).

Wee bunny-shaped chocolate sugar cookies with just their fluffy white tails frosted.

I made a traditional Swedish kladdkaka -- a cross between chocolate cake and brownies. I used a nonstick kladdkaka pan with raised fluted edges, but any nonstick 9-inch cake pan would do. No need to break out the mixer for this recipe! It's easy to mix by hand.

Swedish Chocolate Sticky Cake

1/2 C. butter
1 1/3 C. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract (or 1 T. vanilla sugar)
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 C. high quality natural cocoa powder (I like Penzeys natural high fat cocoa powder)
2 eggs
1/2 C. flour

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9” cake pan.
- Soften butter and add sugar, vanilla extract/sugar, salt, and cocoa powder. Mix well by hand.
- Stir in the eggs until the mixture is smooth. Add flour, stir until combined.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake on the lower rack of the oven for 25-30 minutes. Don’t overbake -- a tester will still have sticky crumbs.
- Allow cake to cool for 15-20 minutes. Then hold a plate over the pan, invert the pan, and release the cake.
- Optional: Serve dusted with powdered sugar, or with ice cream or whipped cream.

Serves 6.

Monday, October 13, 2014

in which I am proven wrong yet again

Erik's new barley hat isn't all that big after all. Our little woodland sprite celebrated his first birthday in Door County last week.
It was a magical vacation -- fresh air, fall colors, lots of firsts. Erik was initially skeptical of the hiking backpack, but he warmed up to it and loved riding up high and looking around.

 And goofing off at Newport State Park:
Plus Erik managed to sport an amazing number of handknits -- not only his barley hat, but also his burnett cardigan and October vest.
The cardigan in action at Al Johnson's (mmmm... lingonberries! Scandinavian kitsch!):

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

urbs in horto

Chicago's motto is urbs in horto, "city in a garden." Sometimes the garden seems hard to find amidst the bustle and busy streets, other times you can't miss it.
I took a tour of the Lurie Garden yesterday. The autumnal air was cool and crisp, and the perennial plants were looking decided fall-ish. You can see Frank Gehry's Pritzker Pavilion in the background, along with the Smurfitt-Stone building, Two Prudential Plaza, and the Aon Center. An unmistakably Chicago backdrop to a lovely garden.
 A mix of native and non-native plants, a quiet spot in the midst of the city.

I have to remember these peaceful city moments when I long for nature and want to get out of dodge. We drove seventy-five minutes to meet friends at a pumpkin patch last weekend, and while it was lovely, it was essentially in a suburban subdivision.
Erik enjoyed the pumpkins, the baby goats, and testing out his new hiking backpack, and we all munched on apple cider donuts and luxuriated in the beautiful, warm day. Despite the pumpkins and autumnal trappings, it didn't much feel like fall -- it felt like summer's last hurrah.