mod bkgd

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

more handknits in action

As the temperature plunges, more handknit gifts are seeing action! It warms the cockles of my heart, I tell you.

My friend sent me a photo of her little girl snuggled up in the Diagonal Stripes Blanket that I knit. (details on Ravelry)
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One of the Owl Tuques is also seeing some serious use! I knit this one for Paul's coworker's little guy.
I knit the 6-month size, which apparently works OK for a 2-month old with the brim turned up. The Swish Bulky is very soft and cushy. I've knit 3 of these already, and I'll most definitely be making even more.

Monday, December 28, 2009

(there and back again) again

Look who packed her bag for a Christmas trip to Milwaukee
My, what a large suitcase for such a small creature!

Paul had the perfect opportunity to model some handknits:
Yep, we trekked up to Green Bay for the Packers/Seahawks game yesterday. There's nothing like outdoor football on an 18-degree day!
Cheeseheads right in front of us, of course.

Alas, I ran out of green yarn for a hat for me, so I stuck with my trusty Unoriginal Hat and Just Enough Ruffles scarf combo. Blue Moon Fiber Arts Leticia is some warm stuff. I may have made my hat a wee bit too snug, though, as it tends to migrate northwards and give me a gnome-like appearance.

Wishing you peace, joy, love, and adventure in 2010!
~ Jodi

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

more mmmmalabrigo goodness

What's cozier on a chilly winter day than a Malabrigo neckwarmer? I knit a Thermis for barefoot rooster for parcel #2 from my long-ago 3rd blogiversary giveaway. Here's a modeled shot, ganked from her blog:
Pattern: Thermis, by Kris Patay (rav)
Yarn: Malabrigo Merino Worsted in Sweet Grape, .75 skein
Needles: egads, I've forgotten already (note to self: take notes)
Size: s/m

Notes: Super soft and cozy! Perfect for cold weather – more like a warm neck gaitor than a decorative cowl.
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The cushy thermal stitch pattern was so fabulous that I knit up a thermal scarf for Paul for Christmas. We exchanged gifts last night, so I can unveil it!

Yarn: Stonehedge Fiber Mill Shepherd's Wool, Sage, 2 skeins
Needles: US 8

Notes: Man, is it a challenge to knit a 6-foot long scarf in secret! I've been knitting like a fiend on this one -- hence the late-afternoon marathons of Tivo-ed Bones . Whenever I heard Paul's key in the door, I stuffed it in my knitting bag or hid it under a blanket on the sofa. Turns out he never suspected a thing...

Thermal Scarf Recipe

CO 42 (or any multiple of 4 + 2)

Rows 1-2: K all sts
Rows 3-4: K2, P2 ribbing - end K2

End after completing a Row 1. Bind off knitwise.

I'll post modeled photos soon.
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I picked up the Shepherd's Wool yarn at Stitches Midwest in 2007. It's a great value, especially when you factor in the generous yardage (250 yds), cushy feel, and almost local origin (Michigan). On a side note, I was not a big fan of Stitches, and I don't think I'll return. Even though the vendors were quite nice and there was a wide array of yarn and sundries, convention centers are my idea of hell. I'm sticking to the outdoor fiber festivals as much as possible.

Monday, December 21, 2009

happy solstice!

God jul, as my ancestors would say!The tree is up, cookies are baked, most of the shopping and wrapping is done, and it's officially winter break. Hurray! There's even a Yule party on my agenda for tonight. I still have at least two knitting projects to finish for Christmas, though, so it's not exactly smooth sailing, but close enough.
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With Paul's extended family we do a drawing for a holiday gift exchange. I managed to draw the name of a dear family friend who is a doctor and owns a villa in Italy. What do you buy a man who owns an Italian villa? I ended up putting together an odyssey of syrahs from around the world. Sigh...

The other challenge was a gift for a good friend who gave me a car last winter. Yes, she gave me her old Jeep. How do you possibly reciprocate? I ended up knitting her a hat. Small peanuts, but at least it took time, thought, and effort.

Pattern: Star Crossed Slouchy Beret, by Natalie Larson
Yarn: Malabrigo Merino Worsted in Pagoda, .75 skein
Needles: US 9 and 10.5

Notes:
Super cute! I enjoyed knitting this, especially with the soft and cushy Malabrigo. It was looking a bit small and not so slouchy when I finished knitting. Then I blocked it on a dinner plate, and the plate may have been a bit too large. Time will tell if it fits properly -- I can always wash and re-block, I suppose. Great free pattern -- definitely give it a try.
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I found this at a used bookstore last week:
Fabulous illustrations by Edward Gorey may make this one of the best books ever.
I've determined that Kylie is a Gumbie Cat:

I have a Gumbie Cat in mind, her name is Jennyanydots;
Her coat is of the tabby kind, with tiger stripes and leopard spots.
All day she sits upon the stair or on the steps or on the mat;
She sits and sits and sits and sits--and that's what makes a Gumbie Cat!

But when the day's hustle and bustle is done,
Then the Gumbie Cat's work is but hardly begun.
And when all the family's in bed and asleep,
She tucks up her skirts to the basement to creep.
She is deeply concerned with the ways of the mice
Their behaviour's not good and their manners not nice;
So when she has got them lined up on the matting,
She teaches them music, crocheting and tatting.

I have a Gumbie Cat in mind, her name is Jennyanydots;
Her equal would be hard to find, she likes the warm and sunny spots.
All day she sits beside the hearth or on the bed or on my hat:
She sits and sits and sits and sits--and that's what makes a Gumbie Cat!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

sunshine

Finally, a sunny day when I'm at home and can take pictures! I'm puttering around the house in my PJs when I should be reading books and articles on literary theory. Ah well, it's nearly Christmas.
I knit these slippers using Mission Falls 1824 wool last year, and they're holding up marvelously! The seaming's a bit of a pain, but they're cozy and snug. Plus I feel rather elven as I wear them. Not as elven as Pam's cute new Elf Shoes, though. ;-) Anyway, if you're looking to knit up a quick holiday gift, I do recommend the pattern.
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I'm using Knit Picks Palette for my wee mittens, and I'm quite taken by the color combination:
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The scent of fresh-baked cookies was in the air chez Caffeinated Yarn over the weekend.
I tried something new as well as an old favorite. The little circles are a variation on Sarah's peppermint cookies on the blog Handmade Homeschool (which I found via Mary Catharine's post). I substituted 1/4 C. Penzey's natural cocoa powder for 1/4 C. of the flour. Yum! I used my usual powdered sugar icing, adding a dash of mint flavoring.

A few years ago I tested many recipes in a quest for the perfect sugar cookie. The winner is from one of my mother's old church cookbooks -- Peaceful Pantry, from Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, Minnesota.

Grandma's Sugar Cookies
~ Ilah Robbins

1 C. butter
1.5 C. sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3.5 C. flour (sifted if you're feeling fancy)
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Cream butter; add sugar gradually, creaming until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Sit in vanilla. Sift dry ingredients together; add gradually to creamed mixture. Chill thoroughly (at least 3 hours). Roll out on well-floured surface to 1/4" thickness. Cut in desired shapes. Bake on cookie sheet covered in baking parchment 6-8 minutes at 375 degrees.

Tip: fill each pan with the same shape so that the cookies bake evenly

Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

Frost with a basic powdered sugar/butter/milk/vanilla icing.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

wee mittens

on the needles...

a bounty of wee mittens is in the works (pattern here):
What have I been up to? Another trip to Minnesota, lots of (unbloggable) gift knitting, cookie baking, and reading, both for research and for pleasure. Busy, busy. :-)
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in the kitchen...

Over the years I've learned that there are a few key ingredients that nearly always ensure culinary success chez Caffeinated Yarn. Leeks, shallots, almonds, pumpkin, goat cheese, and black beans are at the top of the list. Leeks and shallots are under-appreciated in the U.S. but absolutely phenomenal. They're like onions' more sophisticated older cousins. You know, the ones who can get by with wearing dramatic hats and actually impress you when they pull out the guitar (rather than send you scrambling for your earmuffs).

Shallots are more delicate than onions, with a slightly garlic-y and sweet flavor and an immensely satisfying deliciousness.

Rice Pilaf with Shallots and Parmesan

Serves 2-3 as a side dish ~ doubling this recipe works very well

2 tsp. butter
2 T. minced shallots
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 C. basmati rice (can sub long-grain, but basmati has more flavor and aroma)
1 C. chicken broth
1/4 C. dry white wine (or sub more broth)
2 - 3 T. grated fresh Parmesan cheese (I use something halfway decent like Grana Padano)
2 T. minced fresh parsley
dash of salt freshly ground black pepper
dash of salt

Melt butter in a small saucepan over med-high heat. Add shallots & garlic, saute 1 min. Stir in rice; saute 1 min. Stir in broth and wine; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15-20 min.

Remove from heat. Stir in cheese, parsley, pepper, and salt. Bon appetit!

Friday, December 04, 2009

snowflakes

A few snowflakes danced merrily through the air yesterday, and it made my heart sing.
The holiday decor on this lovely row house caught my attention on my way to campus yesterday. Badgers spirit! Now that's what I call decorating.
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I should have spent all of Wednesday on my research, but I surfaced for air partway through, binging on Tivo-ed episodes of Bones and casting on for a new (Bones-related) knitting project -- Saroyan by Liz Abinante (rav).
The pattern is completely intuitive and makes perfect sense. I can tell this is going to be one of my serial knits (like owl hats, feather and fan shawls, and just enough ruffles scarves). Saroyan's very similar in appearance to the Cedar Leaf Shawlette, but much less fiddly in construction, plus it's free.

The yarn is Elsebeth Lavold Silky Cashmere in Cassia, purchased on closeout at a steep discount from Webs. Talk about skimpy yardage! 44 yds/skein. Now briefly ponder the blurb about this yarn on the website:
Silky Cashmere from Elsebeth Lavold is a worsted weight yarn of 55% silk and 45% cashmere. Wrap yourself in comfort as this fiber is exceedingly soft and feels wonderful against the skin. Silky Cashmere is designed for cooler weather fashions such as stoles, shawls, boleros, pullovers, cardis and blankets. (emphasis mine)
It truly is soft, with a nice sheen to boot, but can you possibly imagine knitting a blanket out of this yarn? At 44 yds/skein? Can you imagine the number of joins and ends to weave in? Or the cost? Someone was definitely smoking something when they wrote this up.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

over the river and through the woods...

Paul and I made the trek to Minnesota for Thanksgiving. It was unseasonably warm and sunny, which was a delight. We managed to squeeze in visits with family and friends, a baby shower, a trip to the Happy Gnome in St. Paul (great selection of microbrews from the Midwest), and a walk along the mighty Mississippi in St. Paul. So pretty despite the lack of foliage!
view from Mississippi River Blvd. in St. Paul

Plus we stopped at State St. Brats in Madison for a Spotted Cow and cheese curds. That's a lot to do in just a few short days! All that time in the Jeep was good for my knitting mojo, although my leg muscles feel as if they've atrophied from too much sitting.

Pattern: Upside-Down Daisy, by Susan B. Anderson (rav)
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran (pink), less than 1 ball
oddments of Lion Brand Cashmere Blend (cream) and Cashmerino DK (green)
Size: 6 months
Needles: US 6 needles for the hat
US 5 for the green stem (I used a DK weight yarn to make it less bulky)
US 7 for the cream-colored petals

Notes:
This little hat reminds me of flower fairies! The hat itself is very quick to knit, and the pattern's very clear but rather fiddly. Only 5 petals fit on the hat (rather than the 6 specified in the pattern), and applying them is a pain in the neck. I made each of the petals a few rows longer, a fairly common mod on Ravelry. The finished product is darling, and I'm looking forward to giving it to my friends' new baby girl next Sunday.
Babies are popping up everywhere, by the way. My friends are reproducing at an alarming rate, and I'm hard-pressed to keep up with the baby knits!

I had sworn off knitting baby blankets a while back. They take too long, they use so much yarn, they get pretty boring... you know the drill. Well, apparently I fell off the wagon, as I'm almost done with one:

I'm using Jennifer Braico's Hip to Be Square pattern (rav) and (many, many) balls of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Chunky. It's soft, squishy, and nice to knit, but most balls have a knot or two, plus the yardage is pretty skimpy. All that's left is the applied i-cord edging and weaving in a million ends.

One more photo from Minnesota:
Minnehaha Falls, Minneapolis