break out the alpaca.

Also known as the answer to evening and early morning temperatures in the 40s. Fall is here, and to celebrate, I’ve been working on my Kerrera. I finished the second sleeve this week, and aside from realizing that I did something wonky on the first sleeve and should probably rip back the double garter on that one and do it again, I’m pretty happy with how it is coming along.

Can you see that the sleeve on the right in this photo has a shorter cuff than the one on the left? I can, so I’ll probably attempt to fix that. Here’s a side/back view:

Something I noticed while snapping these pictures: this sweater is pretty heavy, and the drapey gauge I’m knitting it at isn’t necessarily helping. To counter this — and to increase my chances of actually finishing this before another winter goes by — I decided to look for alternatives to the large hood. I found this version by ravelry user belletrism, and I really like the wide collar. I knit the first few hood increases and finished off with some double garter. What do you think?

I really like it, and I think it will be cozy and floppy once I knit the double garter band along the fronts and the outer edges of this collar. I am a little worried about the sizing, as the weight may cause this to really stretch out as I wear it, so I’m already thinking about tossing this in the dryer after I block it (and it dries completely) to snug everything up a bit. I’m nervous about the idea, but I’ve read that a lot of people do this with handknits. Do you?

I hope you all have a fabulous, cozy Sunday. If I can get everything prepped for my class tomorrow, I’ll be spending my afternoon curled up on the couch with Boh and my Kerrera!

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porch dinner season.

These blossoms downtown can only mean one thing: porch dinner season has begun.

I asked D how he wanted to celebrate his birthday. The answer? Dumplings. So last night, he, T, and their charming child, W, came over with Coltrane to splash paws and hands in the lake, enjoy a beer on the dock, and eat dinner (and drink sake) on the porch.

A good time was had by all.

And after they headed home to put W to bed, I snapped this picture of the sunset. I know it is supposed to cool down a bit this week, but even so, I’m super thankful for this burst of sunshine and warmth. I think a lot of us needed it.

I finished the first sleeve of Kerrera, and I’m onto working the sleeve cap of the second. I shortened the sleeve length and ripped back a couple of rows of the double garter stitch cuff to get the right length.

And while I worked on that, Boh continued to refine his lounging skills. Nice work, sweet dog.

word count rewards.

I managed to transcribe a bunch of research photos and write 500 words, so when I got home from the coffee shop, I gathered up my sweet dog and a tasty beverage and headed to the dock. (Oh, and the latte and the brownie I enjoyed at the coffee shop? Those weren’t rewards. I call those “motivation.”)

It was a beautiful afternoon, and it felt like summer: at least 75 and sunny, with just the faintest hint of a breeze off the lake.

Sorry, Boh. You have to actually do the writing to enjoy the reward. I’m realizing this week that it feels good to just focus on one big thing, rather than the pile of tasks on my to-do list. I will need to start easing myself back into grading and prepping for Monday’s class soon, but for now, this glorious weather and the chance to get some of my own work done is really nice.

I was slow to leave the house yesterday, in part because I wanted to make something tasty in my new pot. After flipping through several cookbooks on my shelf, I settled on a recipe for a curry root vegetable stew with dumplings from Amanda Hesser’s huge New York Times cookbook. This is actually the first thing from this cookbook I’ve made — and I can’t wait to go back.

This came together really quickly, and the dumplings were hearty without being heavy. Plus, I got to use up some of my root veggie stockpile. And all I needed to do was heat it up again for dinner after hanging out by the lake with Boh. Win/win.

I’ll definitely make this again. Oh! And I even did some knitting yesterday. Check out my sleeve progress on Kerrera:

I added more decreases, working my way down to the smallest sleeve circumference for a slightly narrower fit, and shortened the sleeves by about 15 rows, as I want to make sure they aren’t super long after blocking. This morning I began the fancy double garter st cuff. More of that if I get a good chunk of work done today…

swoon.

Meet the newest addition to my kitchen: a beautiful turquoise-y blue 7 1/4 quart Le Creuset french oven. This arrived yesterday, an overwhelmingly kind birthday gift from my dearest friend, in celebration of my 30th birthday. I was so excited that I cooked my dinner in it, even though I didn’t really need quite so big a pot for this particular meal.

I made Deb’s garlic butter roasted mushrooms, and oh-my-goodness were they delicious. I can’t wait to make something else in my new pot today!

My WIP sorting a few days ago led me to pick up my Kerrera again, after months (maybe even a year?) away. I’d stopped after working the body and joining the shoulder seams. The next step was a short-row sleeve cap and the sleeves. I was a little nervous about the short rows, but the instructions for handling the W+T and the wraps on the following rows are very clear in this pattern, and that helped a lot. Now I’m working on the straight portion of the sleeve!

It feels fully like spring or early summer here, so even if I work diligently on this, I probably won’t get to wear it until fall, but that’s okay. It seems I’m always knitting out of season!

I’ve been enjoying my spring CSA greens every which way: on a sandwich with sprouts, under a fried egg, over rice — I can’t get enough.

And here’s a sweet shot of Boh, cuddling on the couch. He’s such a good boy. Alright, time to make a plan for the day. (I’m hoping I’ll get enough writing done that Boh and I can fit in a long walk.)

WIP smart.

Sorry about that. I can’t help myself. (Seriously. Last week I taught a section on Marco Polo, and it was all I could do to not begin class with: Maaaaarcoooo! And yes, you’re right. I do not work on 12th-century China. The class I’m TAing covers a lot of ground.)

Anyway, back to knitting. This weekend, I took a mini-vacation to my friend K’s apartment. She had minor surgery on Friday, so Boh and I went to keep her company and help her with things that are tough to do one-handed. (You know, like open those child-proof pill bottles.) She’d certainly have managed without us, but I think our plan was more fun. I tell you all of this to explain that on Thursday night, I found myself deliberating not over what books to pack, but over what knitting to bring with me. The weather has turned fall-like, and as such, I’ve been in a sweater-knitting mood. And then, while digging for my notions bag, I came upon my (rather embarrassing) pile of unfinished cozy sweaters (which even includes a neglected, and thus totally unhelpful test-knit). As soon as I touched the Ultra Alpaca fabric of my Kerrera, I knew that was the sweater that would be coming with me.

I discovered that I was a lot further along than I remembered, and this weekend I knit the reverse stockinette portion of the back and both fronts. This morning I did the three needle bind off to seam the shoulders, and slipped it on to get a sense for the fit. So far, I am very happy. (I decided to do the bind-off on the right side, as I’m not sure the pattern suggested which way to do it. I figured the raised, but clean, seam on the outside would make the sweater sit more comfortably on my shoulders, and mirror/echo the fake side seams on the body. The wrong side looks really great — an invisible seam — and I was probably supposed to do this the other way, but I think I like the choice I made.) You can’t see the shoulder seams in this pictures, but since I’m knitting this as part of a relaxed KAL, (Hi, Mick and Laura!) maybe this info will come in handy.

Next up? Sleeves! (Actually, a big pile of reading first, then the sleeves.)

world spins madly on.*

I got up this morning, and pulled the covers up to half-heartedly make the bed. Usually, this is Boh’s cue to do some kind of dog stretch and get out of bed.

Today, he didn’t move. In fact, I put the kettle on, ground the coffee, and served up his breakfast, and he stayed in bed. It wasn’t until I grabbed the leash and opened the door that he reluctantly decided to get out from under the covers.

I feel your pain, Boh. I’m tired too.

Despite my sleepiness this morning, I do have some knitting progress to share. I woke up early yesterday to give myself a bit more knitting time, as I’ve been feeling a bit overextended this semester.

My Kerrera is starting to look like a cardigan! I’m into a very soothing stretch of stockinette, and I absolutely love how this Ultra Alpaca feels in my hands. Even though I should keep reading the book I have to teach this week, I’m going to try to squeeze in a few rows this morning before getting to work.

Time for coffee, but before I pour my first mug, I wanted to mention The Weepies. Their first two albums, Happiness (2003) and  Say I Am You (2006) — which I have only just learned are actually two shorter albums, rather than one full length album — are some of my favorite early in the morning or late at night things to listen to. (*This is the name of a track on Say I Am You. I’m listening to it right now.)