spices and stripes.

In an effort to both stay busy and create a sense of cleansing/starting some things anew, I’ve been cleaning like a fiend this week. Yesterday, I finally knit myself a dishcloth and, inspired by the yarn pirate herself, ditched my sponges. In keeping with my occcasional theme of knits-in-action, here’s a shot of my new dishcloth in its new home:

dishcloth in action

Thrilling, I know. (But seriously, these cloths are surprisingly sturdy scrubbers, and the idea that they will just go in the weekly wash with my other kitchen cloths makes me very happy.)

Also, I tackled the spice cabinet. I wish I’d thought to take a “before” picture, but I was too excited to measure brightly colored seeds and powders into their respective jars. This will be an ongoing project, as the co-op only stocks so many small jars (which I think are intended for lip balms or creams in small quantities) at a time. Still, this cupboard is much happier:

spices

In celebration, I baked some chocolate walnut cookies. I saw this recipe over at the kitchn, printed it immediately and tucked it into the binder o’ kitchen ideas. In a word: yum. My kitchen smelled so rich and chocolately that I had to open a window.

chocwalnut1

These cookies are cooling on newly available counter space — yesterday I lugged the microwave that was in the apartment down to the basement. I figured that since I’ve been here almost a year and haven’t yet plugged it in, I probably won’t miss it, and the extra space sure is nice! Here’s a cookie macro shot:

chocwalnut2

Again: yum. Yummmm.

In the spirit of starting new things, a project I’ve been looking forward to arrived in my inbox yesterday. I’m test-knitting stripes! for Whitney over at whitknits. (You can see her stripes! in this post. All of Whitney’s knitting is beautiful, and this post highlights a whole slew of inspiring projects.) When I saw her stripes! earlier this winter, I knew I wanted one so I jumped at the chance to give this a try.

swatch

Because I am taking my test-knitting responsibilities very seriously, I swatched and even washed and blocked my square of eco-wool to be sure my gauge was correct. It really didn’t take long at all. In fact, swatches dry wayyyy faster than sweaters do. Note to self: there is no reason not to do this all the time.

stripes macro

I spent a few hours catching up on podcasts and getting started on my stripes!, and I’m already loving this sweater. I learned a new cast-on, and this ribbing is so pretty. More pictures soon, as I intend to knit a few more rows before bed.

sheepy slouch.

sheepy-slouch

The spring semester starts Monday, and there are certainly productive things I could be doing (like brushing up on my skills in a certain language so that I can pass a translation test whenever my department decides they’ve found someone to administer it), but instead, I’m knitting a hat. Boh ate my favorite squishy malabrigo cabley slouchy hat (see previous post), but instead of replacing it with a malabrigo look-alike, I’m craving something a bit sheepier, if you will. Enter my second le slouch. This one will be slouchier than the first, and a bit tweedy in appearance. I’m knitting it out of a Romney-Corriedale blend purchased as part of last winter’s snowshoe adventure at a farmland trust in Southern Vermont. I modified the cast on # slightly in order to accomodate my desire to knit the hat on 7s — in part because my 8s are in use, and in part because I want a denser fabric. Hoping to have this warming my ears soon!

dishcloths-fo

I finished these thank you-dishcloths yesterday, which means I’ll have no excuse if they aren’t in Tuesday’s mail. You heard it here first! Also, we were invited for dinner at a friend’s house a few nights ago, and bread was requested, but it was too late in the day to start my go-to no-knead bread. I opened Mark Bittman’s big yellow book, and found a recipe for a lighter whole wheat bread using baking soda, yogurt and honey, and ta-da:

quick-wheat-bread

A hearty, wheaty quick bread that has been great with morning omelettes. I’ll be making this again.

Rather than take advantage of the free time to get ahead on reading, thinking, language study, etc. this weekend, I’m planning to knit and spindle away the afternoon before a planned evening of hunkering. There will be calzone-making, movie-watching and wine-drinking here at Chez Rooster — the dough is steadily rising!

the perils of pooches (and some oh-nine goals).

dsc05552

One minute, the hat was where it always is when it is not on my head: in the basket by the door. The next, Boh is galloping gleefully through the apartment, a destroyed star-crossed slouchy beret in his mouth. At least he looks sad, right?

A few other things I’ve been working on:

blurry-pizza

Reacquainting myself with my kitchen (yay!) through pizza-making. (If you haven’t checked out Smitten Kitchen, do so now. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, etc. I love Everything I Make from Deb’s blog, and you should see the pile of printed out recipes in the kitchen queue.)

Also, dishcloth knitting — some thank yous for hosting us on our north country adventure:

dishcloths

Apologies for my link-laziness: it is unlikely that I will actually connect these patterns to their internet homes. Quick rav searches should do the trick…

So! I’ve been making lots of lists, clearing space on my bookshelves for a new semester’s pile o’ reading, and thinking big thoughts about what I’d like to accomplish this spring, and this year. I won’t bore you with the Grand Academic Plans And Worries just yet, but I do have lots of exciting knitting ideas. I recognize that purely by virtue of writing all of this down, I will not accomplish all of it, but at least I’ll be able to come back to this post for inspiration, should I need it throughout the year.

First up: sweater knitting, or rather, sweater completion!

Right now I have Brompton and 28thirty on the needles. I’m happy with how they are coming along, and I just need to find some slightly longer chunks of knitting time to feel like these are worth pulling out — a row here and there simply doesn’t work when you are trying to keep track of increases or knitting huge rows. I desperately want to wear these, though, and I really think I can get Brompton finished in time to turn it into the cozy grad school cardigan I have been envisioning forever!

Other sweaters on the list:

Valia (Santa brought me a bag of gorgeous Malabrigo and the pattern, and I’d love to have this ready for next fall’s holiday trips home, if not sooner.)

Drops Jacket (I’ve had yarn for this forever, love all the FOs I’ve seen, and my apartment gets cold in the afternoons. This is obvious, right?!)

Cobblestone (for me), Tangled Yoke, Salina, Francis…I have yarn that would work for all of these, and they all have long stretches of stockinette: exactly what the frazzled grad school mind requires.

Next up: Socks! I’ve been a member of the Yarn Pirate Sock Yarn Club this year, and I have a gorgeous stash of Georgia’s yarns, but I’ve been slow to turn them into socks. I’ve unsubscribed after this 3-month round as a way to motivate myself to knit with what I have. I think socks have finally clicked for me as great mindless knitting — I can now turn a heel on a basic sock without having to dig for the instructions, and socks really are perfect take-to-school for extra free moments waiting to meet with professors or for class to start.  No specific pattern goals here, except to master the art of both toe up socks (I’m working on my first pair now) and the short row heel (mine are always hol-ey. I think Cat Bordhi will rescue me on this one, as a knitting friend pointed out last year).

I’m also working on learning to cable without a cable needle, so this year, I’d like to develop confidence/comfort with this technique.

Spinning goals: I think I’m finally getting the hang of (and the addiction to) spindle-spinning, and to this end, I want to make time each month to work on my spinning and learn how to ply. By the end of 2009. I’d love to spin up a 3-ply sock yarn to knit (toe up?) socks with.

All that should keep me busy, don’t you think?

business time.

I have no idea why I’ve had a little boy’s tie hanging in my closet. No idea. Until now. I’ll say it again: my dog is ridiculous. Alright, onto a bit more knitting.

Rusted Root isn’t quite dry, but I tried it on anyway last night, worried that it was relaxing too much, and instead, I think it will be perfect. No modeled pictures yet, but perhaps tonight — I’m going to see Wilco, and depending on the weather, I may debut the sweater. (By the way, I recommend Wilco wholeheartedly, in all forms. You won’t be sorry.)

I did put a little package in the mail to my mom yesterday, and because she has no idea I have a blog, I can share it with you now:

I took yesterday afternoon off to catch up on life a bit, and I wove in the ends while sitting outside in the parking lot of the laundromat. (Details: Peaches and Creme cotton, size 7 needles and a basic grandmother’s favorite dishcloth pattern worked corner to corner.) I also ran to REI to take advantage of their big sale (Boh has managed to search out and destroy several pairs of my socks over the last 14 months), and since I was already nearby, I went a bit further to the yarn store. Tough weeks mean treats, in my book, and I settled on seven skeins of cascade 220 heathers in a pretty deep blue/purple/grey — intended to be a long sleeve version of Wicked.

Took everything I had last night to pick up my second wedding present pinwheel instead of swatching or just casting on for Wicked or 28thirty. Must make progress on WIPs…or at least the pinwheel, as I am attending (and helping with pie-baking for) a pre-wedding party next weekend. Happy Friday!

beet the system.

Thank you for all of your kind comments regarding the carnage my Sunday Market Shawl suffered last week. I did a little bit of pouting, but ultimately decided to look through my stash and begin again. I’m using Dream in Color Smooshy in Visual Purple. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Also, I have a new tote bag, doubling as a purse these days. (www.blacksheepheap.com)

Perhaps this should be my new motto. I feel sort of ridiculous making such a big deal about the shawl carnage, given the fact that my car window was smashed this weekend and my big red bag stolen. (In the parking lot of a Catholic school on a Saturday afternoon, no less.) Luckily, I had my wallet and phone with me. I have some calls to make to the bank this morning regarding my checkbook, but mostly, whoever destroyed my car window is enjoying (or not) several knitted items: my hurricane hat, my nutkin mitts and a half-finished dishcloth. It could have been much worse, but I am sad that my knitted items are gone.  I also lost my calendar and to-do list (I wonder if the culprit is interested in crossing a few things off?) and my sunglasses case. Certainly not the treasure I imagine was expected.

Anyway, I’m off to get the glass replaced, file a police report, sort through insurance info — and drink some coffee.  More knitting to share soon, I hope.

a thank you.

I’m sending off a thank you to the folks I stayed with this week, and thought a little knitted something might be nice to tuck inside. This is a super basic dishcloth pattern — Grandmother’s Favorite, I believe, and it went so quickly that I may need to make a dozen more. Now. (Seriously. These are addicting!) Yarn, for those who want to know, is Peaches and Creme cotton worsted, in an ombre colorway.

Happy Friday, folks!