mod bkgd

Sunday, November 30, 2008

pretty as a peacock

I met this handsome fellow at Monches Farm on Friday. He never displayed all of his plumage, but he certainly was friendly and willing to strut his stuff a bit. My MIL and I decided to forgo the standard Black Friday shopping and instead drive out to the countryside. I highly recommend a trip to Monches if you're ever in the Milwaukee area-- it's very unusual and charming. Not only can you visit their heirloom chickens and other animals, you can shop for Christmas trees, perennials, gargoyles, antiques, and a lovely and unique array of homegoods. I'm especially taken with the gorgeous local pottery there -- more on that in another post.

My Christmas cactus is beginning its seasonal display:
I just finished seaming up a pair of fingerless mitts in a similarly rosy shade:
Pattern: Irish Hiking Wristwarmers, by Delia Rau
Yarn: The Plucky Knitter Worsted Merino (Single Ply) ~ "Cheeky"
Needles: US 6 Brittany Birch

Notes:
I've knit this pattern twice before, and I'll probably make more! Next time I'll knit them in the round, as I always put off seaming. These coordinate nicely with the Windy City Hat I made from this yarn -- you can squeeze both projects out of 1 skein and still have a little bit of yarn left over. Sarah's yarn is oh-so-soft and lovely to knit.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

wispy

A fellow Raveler has come to my rescue and is sending me some LB Cashmere Blend so that I can finish binding off my Just Enough Ruffles scarf. Huzzah! This is one of the most delightful patterns I've tried in a long time.

In the meantime, though, I'm working on another scarf-type thing: Wisp has been in my queue for a long time, but the discovery that mohair and I don't get along so well (damn that itching, redness, and sneezing) put a damper on that. Until I saw Kirsten's Wisp, that is. I'm using The Plucky Knitter's Single Ply Merino Handpainted Fingering Weight in "Sense and Sensibility."

The cold weather has sent Kylie straight to her favorite winter hiding spot. She even likes to stick all her limbs right under the radiator.
I'm behind on washing and photographing FOs, so I'm hoping Thanksgiving break will give me a chance to catch up. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Just enough ruffles...

But not enough yarn.

just enough ruffles scarf
Oh no! I'm about 1/2 done with the bind-off. Now I get to scour the internet for a tiny bit of Lion Cashmere Blend in "cream" (yes, Lion Brand -- don't judge me too harshly -- it was in the 60% off sale bin at JoAnn a while back -- I just couldn't resist). It's a fabulous pattern, although man do those rows seem long (600 sts at the ruffle section).

More bad news... this time on the Dr. Who front. I'm crushed, just crushed.

However, back on the topic of ruffles, I'm loving the November Ruffle Wrap pattern (rav link) by Kate Jackson. The Yarn Barn of Kansas has put together a pretty affordable kit for it.

Speaking of new patterns, the Interweave Winter 08 Preview is up! The Climbing Vines Pullover is gorgeous. It looks like a Phildar or Rebecca pattern from a while back, though. Also, the new Twist Collective issue is up, and it's great. I'm especially taken with the Critter Comforts section. Too darn cute!!! Talk about creativity in more than just one medium. It almost makes me want to pick up the old watercolors again.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

rara avis

A bluebird of happiness was spotted alighting upon the pothos plant in my study this morning:
Then again on a spider plant in the dining room:
What is this rare and elusive creature? I fear the Audubon guide will be of no use in this instance.

Pattern:
Bluebird, by Marnie Ann Joyce (Curlypurly)
Yarn: Cascade 220, light blue and gold
Elann Peruvian Baby Cashmere, black, for the eyes
Needles: US 6 Clover bamboo DPNs

Notes:
As with most knitted toys, this was a bit fiddly to knit, and the finishing instructions were rather mysterious. It helped to check out the photos from Marnie's blog as well as look on Ravelry. Both Grace and Kim knit very cute birds last spring! I wish I had read Grace's notes on the increases beforehand.

I ended up attaching the tail horizontally with a bit of a curve to it. The beak was enormous when knit as per the directions, so I cast on again with just 4 stitches. It's still awfully long. I went down to size 6 DPNs to get a firmer fabric.
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Winter garland update:
7 hats and 3 mittens down -- 5 hats and 9 mittens to go! While I do have a glorious array of blues, neutrals, and reds, I have absolutely no green worsted weight wool in my stash. I guess this won't be entirely a stashbusting project, after all.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

leftovers

(photo from Garnet Hill)
Last year Garnet Hill's hats and mittens advent calendar captured my fancy, but I never got around to actually making one. That's changing this year! I'm using up leftovers from a year's worth of knitting full-size hats and mittens. While it would have been easy enough to wing it, I decided to go with this pattern.
4 hats down, 8 hats and 12 mittens to go...
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I feel so lucky to have been here in Chicago for the election experience. So many of my friends and neighbors have worked so hard for this Obama victory. Obama's speech brought me to tears Tuesday night. What an amazing time to be an American! I was also touched and moved by McCain's thoughtful and gracious concession speech. Let's hear it for both of the candidates, and hope that we can rebuild and reinvent this great nation together.
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On a much more pedestrian note, I'm thrilled with my find from a charity handbag sale this morning. I've had my eye on Orla Kiely bags for quite a while now.

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We saw Role Models last night, and it was absolutely hilarious. Crass, crude, laugh-out-loud funny. Way better than it had any right to be!

Doesn't it look like the cats are doing yoga together? What a hoot.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Wabenschal, at long last

The Wabenschal I started way back in March is finally blocked!
WabenschalAlign Center
Pattern: Wabenschal, by Birget Freyer (rav link)
Yarn: Elann Peruvian Baby Silk, 3.5 skeins (~380 yds)
Needles: US 7

Notes: This is really more like a wide scarf than a shawl. It's knit from corner to corner. I loved watching the lace pattern emerge -- it looks like honeycomb. The Elann Baby Silk is pleasant to knit, and it has a great sheen. Plus it's very affordable!

Wabenschal
Blocking is my least favorite part of knitting -- I don't really have the necessary tools or the requisite space. Anyone have tips for making it a less painful process?

marbled pumpkin cheesecake
I made a Marbled Pumpkin Cheesecake for a dinner party on Sunday. I hadn't made cheesecake in at least 7 years. I substituted Neufchatel cheese for half of the cream cheese, and I added more cinnamon and nutmeg than directed, as well as a tsp. or so of pumpkin pie spice. I also reversed step 1 and 2, chilling the filling a bit so that it would marble better.

This was good, but not amazing. I like pumpkin desserts that have a lot of spice to them, and this didn't quite measure up. I prefer classic, plain cheesecake, but I may just be reaching a point where cheesecake is too rich for me. Man, when I was a teenager I thought people who said desserts were too rich were crazy.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Opinionated Knitter Kitten

Elizabeth Zimmermann is generally regarded as a quasi-goddess by knitters. Her work is creative, inspiring, and bordering on genius.

So what does Kylie Cat think of EZ's classic The Opinionated Knitter?
Kylie asleep on clean laundry
She threw up on my copy of the book. Sigh... That'll teach me to leave books sitting around on the floor.
The Opinionated Knitter
I think the Tomten Jacket is heading to the frogpond. I'm running out of (precious and unreplaceable) handspun yarn, and I've decided that I much prefer this pattern knit up in solids.

Hope you all had a spooktacular Hallowe'en. I spent the evening with the Decemberists! They cooked up a Halloween-themed set, and they came out dressed as characters from The Shining, reenacting some key scenes.