mod bkgd

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

outraged

This news about animals dying of starvation in Chinese zoos is absolutely heartbreaking. I don't know what type of movement it takes to stop these things from happening, but sign me up. China's human rights record isn't exactly stellar either, to put it mildly...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

thirty-two today

Thirty-two already?!? Wow!
Paul baked the most delicious chocolate cupcakes for my birthday. We celebrated with friends at the pub last weekend, with my family in Minnesota last week, and dinner at Cafe Selmarie is on the agenda for tonight.

Add in the fact that we just signed the lease on a cute new apartment (with a nice new kitchen! in a great, picturesque neighborhood!), and my 32nd year is off to a good start despite the nasty cold I picked up while traveling over spring break last week.

Less knitting was accomplished over break than anticipated, but I did manage to finish off two long-hibernating projects, both still in need of blocking (and a proper post with all the details):
An Ariel Scarf (a free pattern by Ysolda Teague) in Sundara Yarn Silky Aran Merino, which is a delightful yarn to knit, although it did leave my needles and hands a striking shade of red. I'm not sure how well it will hold its shape, but time will tell...

The other scarf is a Checkerboard Lace Scarf (a free pattern from the Purl Bee), knit up in Malabrigo sock yarn. This was my first time using this yarn, and I love it! It's soft, has great sheen, and the colors are saturated and deep, plus it didn't bleed at all. I'm not sure I'd use it for actual socks, but I'm definitely going to use it again for scarves and shawls. Now just to think about which color I'd like to try next... Solis? Violeta Africana? Persia? So many great choices...

Still chugging along on the border for the Noro giant granny square, although Kylie has a way of impeding progress.
She truly loves crochet. Smart kitty.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

spring break!

It's officially spring break, and I'm breathing a big sigh of relief! The past few weeks have been a mixture of hectic and wonderful. My knitting circle had its annual retreat last weekend, and much fun was had by all. Only one narrow escape: I nearly drove my Jeep right into a downed tree on a winding country road as I came over the crest of a hill. Thank you, trusty brakes...
I finished up this little guy, whom I've named Lars in honor of his blue and yellow attire:And got a good start on his friend, who still needs a face and ears:
Pattern: Mother Bear Project Teddy Bear, by Amy Berman
Source: Knitting for Peace
Needles: Clover US 6 bamboo 24" circs and DPNs
Yarn: Patons Classic Wool Merino & Cascade 220
old gold, new denim, natural marl, denim marl

The girls at knitting night on Wed. surprised me with these gorgeous flowers as a thank-you for organizing the retreat:
I have some big plans for spring break -- finishing up my blue cabled blanket, sewing buttons on my cabled cardi, finishing up teddy bears #2 and 3, and trying out the afterthought heel technique on a sock. Girls gone wild, I tell you!

We've also been apt. hunting, which is its own form of hell, in my book. Afterward it's a great source of conversation topics (like the eternally hilarious combination shower/sink I once saw in an apt. near Lake Mendota in Madison), but not nearly as delightful while you're in the midst of it.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

PSAs

1)Liberty of London's new line is out at Target now! Much excitement is in the air, although this isn't quite as thrilling as last year's Orla Kiely collaboration. Now if only Target would team up with Cath Kidston, all would be right in the world.

2) Jimmy Beans Wool has a marvelous sale on Amy Butler bags right now. In theory they're knitting bags, but in reality, they look great for a wide array of uses everyday.
Word on the street is that Amy Butler has a line of organic yarn and a knitting book due out sometime in the near future.

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in the kitchen

Inspired by Leslie (as ever), I baked these delicious vanilla sugar cookies last week. For part of the regular powdered sugar, I substituted Swedish vanilla sugar, which is essentially powdered sugar with flecks of vanilla beans. It's available at Scandinavian specialty shops as well as IKEA.
I sprinkled half of the cookies with pearl sugar and half with regular granulated sugar. Both were delicious, and it didn't seem to make too big a difference, except for the appearance!

When my ship comes in, I'd like to get a full set of the Spode Greek dishes. So cheerful and blue, plus who wouldn't enjoy eating their dinner off an image of Zeus wielding a thunderbolt?

more on actual knitting soon, I promise...

my heart belongs to the snows of Buffalo and Chicago, and all the dirty cities along the way

Eric Johnson and the Fruit Bats returned to Chicago for a show at Lincoln Hall (Schubas' slick new larger venue) last night. I'm just enamored of this band -- this is my 3rd time seeing them this year! Johnson's also in the Shins (which don't get me wrong, I quite like), but the folk-rock-melodic pop vibe from Fruit Bats is just amazing.

Here's the band playing "Tegucigalpa," a song Johnson wrote when he was homesick for Chicago:



for more, see here and here

Their best show I've seen took place at Schubas in March 2009, and you can download the whole thing at archive.org. Enjoy!
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It really was quite the weekend, as we also hit the Chicago Beer Society's Day of the Living Ales yesterday.
crammed into the loading dock of Goose Island Wrigleyville

44 types of cask-conditioned ale! In my book, the big winner was Surly Darkness, a complex Russian Imperial Stout, a bit reminiscent of 3 Floyds Dark Lord, but maybe even better. And where's Surly Brewing Co. located? Minnesota, of course. ;-)
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Cocoa Swap 3 just drew to a close! Elizabeth sent me the loveliest parcel:
Such soft and cheerful red merino yarn, along with delicious cocoa from a local coffeeshop, chocolate covered hazelnuts, among other goodies. She knit this cute little creature for me out of her own hand-dyed yarn! What a nice treat at this time of year. Kate sent me a book and some awesome glittery Dream in Color Starry yarn, too:
Many thanks to both!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

granny square madness continues

My Noro granny square is still in progress. While watching the Olympics last week I added 6 more skeins of Noro Cash Island (from Little Knits -- thanks for the tip, blog readers!), as well as a whole skein of brown Fishermen's Wool. That's another 1100 yards of yarn, my friends, and it's still not quite big enough. Time to buy more Fishermen's Wool! Thank goodness it's affordable.
I'm also knitting a sample Mother Bear Project teddy bear for my knitting circle's upcoming retreat. This little guy doesn't look like too much yet, but he'll be cute once he gets his ears, face, scarf, and a bit more stuffing. Really very easy to knit, but the seaming's a bit intense.

We're doing this pattern as a KAL, as well as those super cute French Press Felted Slippers that have been spreading like wildfire in the knitting community.

Clearly I didn't go for the gold with my Rosamund cardigan, but it is coming along nicely, and it was wise not to overdo it on my wrists.
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a frighteningly apt comic over at xkcd: