FO: windschief hat.

Last night I finished the windschief hat — and I absolutely love the asymmetry of the design and the stitch definition of this madelinetosh yarn. As you can probably tell, this hat isn’t for me (too big, and not necessarily a good match for my bouncy short hair — I think slouchier hats work better for me), but for a very dear friend with a new haircut and a few rounds of chemo in front of him. I’m hoping this provides warmth and comfort over the next month or so — you know, so I can continue to give him a hard time about everything else, like I always do!

Details: Windschief Hat, by Steven West, knit out of a bit more than half a skein of  madelinetosh tosh worsted (now I think this is called tosh dk), size Medium, using US size 6 and 7 needles, as directed. I knit to 6 inches instead of 5.5 inches before the decreases because the other Stephen West hat I knit (the botanic hat) seemed a bit small to me. I can’t say enough about how smart-looking this hat is. I think it’s a fantastic design and a fun knit that seems perfect for boys who don’t like fancy hats — and girls who like architectural details.

blanket possibilities.

Nope, no hidden meaning in this blog post title. I’m going to cast on a blanket out of mostly handspun as a test-knit for Cosy (you know, and a treat for me!), and I’m looking for some input!

Here’s the first option: greys, reds, burnt-oranges.

And here’s another: greys, yellows, greens, a touch of lavender. What do you think? Pairing solid/commerical yarns is tough enough, so I’d appreciate any thoughts you folks have about how to choose yarns for a project (ahem, for this project!) out of a pile of handspun. Thanks!

Other things going on around here:

I finished spinning the second bobbin of the SCF bfl in the reflection colorway. Boh helped.

A lot.

And I’m making progress on my windschief hat. The more I knit on this, the more in love I am with both the pattern and this yarn. In fact, I’m going to let myself knit a few rows before I dig into the work I’d like to accomplish before I head to campus…

cake for breakfast.

Nope, not birthday cake. Just cake leftover from saturday night.

We watched a movie last night, which means I got some dedicated knitting time. My windschief hat is flying, and I am absolutely in love with the way this yarn is knitting up. The depth of color! The stitch definition! Discuss.

And here’s one more shot of Boh and the birthday boy, because today is the day. Aren’t they sweet?

sundays are for birthday brunches.

The boy is celebrating a birthday this week, so yesterday we headed west, one lake over, for a special birthday brunch. On my plate: poached eggs on top of sausage smoked in house and grilled focaccia bread, with incredible rosemary roasted potatoes. And a glass of organic local grape juice. On B’s plate: focaccia french toast with raspberry puree, rosemary roasted potatoes, and a link of a different homemade, in-house smoked sausage. And a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice. And coffee.

B, looking serious. Also, a jazz band! They did a blues-y cover of Springsteen’s Hungry Heart. Swoon.

The view from the porch of the cafe — looking out towards the lake.

And here we are. (I share these here even though clearly I have much to learn in the taking-attractive-photos-of-yourself-with-your-arm-outstretched department. I also have a perpetual problem with closing my eyes during photos.)

And here’s the beginning of my windschief hat. I am very excited about this. Time to start thinking about making dinner after a very long Monday on campus.

saturdays are for dinner parties.

Dear friends came for dinner last night. (Boh was on cloud 9.) Y’all know I love to play in the kitchen, but I especially like cooking both for and with D and T — we have similar tastes (well, aside from D’s brutal hatred for all things eggplant), we belong to the same farm, and we always have a good time together. They brought homebrew, a bottle of homemade limoncello for my freezer(!), beer brewed with Japanese hops for us all to try (it DOES taste like “sunshine in a glass”), and tortilla chips for the mostly-tomatillo-with-a-peach-thrown-in salsa I made. And I decided to test out some new-to-me recipes based on what could be found in my fairly full fridge. After lots of drooling over recipes on my computer screen, I settled on two ideas from Deb over at smitten kitchen: scalloped tomatoes with croutons, and everyday chocolate cake. I paired the tomatoes with a salad of very peppery arugula, cherry tomatoes, goat cheese, and cherry tomato confit with a homemade vinaigrette with a bit more honey than I usually use. I was really happy with how everything turned out — these recipes have earned spots in my kitchen binder!

Also, here are the results of peaches +bourbon, take two. I did use the immersion blender to make this more sauce-like, and I’m thrilled with the consistency: thicker and smoother, but with chunks of peach.

And here’s what I’m casting on later this morning. I’ve been meaning to start a hat for D. He’s sporting a new haircut these days, and as the weather gets a bit colder, I want to contribute a hat or two to his headgear collection. I was inspired by the Windschief that Laura posted yesterday, so I hopped over to Ravelry to look through other people’s FOs, and ultimately, purchase and print out the pattern. I’m using tosh worsted in malachite, and I’m psyched to cast on.

I really should be reading all day today, but I’m going to allow myself at least a little bit of time for knitting…

rains/pours.

Lots of knitting and posting this week, folks! (Me? Hiding? Procrastinating? Never.) First up, 28thirty, gloriously blocking on the kitchen table:

28thirty-blocking

I won three or four lots of buttons yesterday on ebay, and I can’t wait to play around with color combinations. Right now, I’m thinking big red buttons, but we’ll see…

For some reason, the catharsis of casting off just makes me want to knit more! I dug into the bag that goes everywhere with me for my toe up socks, and realized that I only had a few more inches to go on sock #2. A few hours of decompressing from a very productive Monday-Tuesday and voila! Socks!

socks-fo-chair

Although these socks are not perfect, I am thrilled with them, and I may be a toe-up sock convert! This is my first toe-up pair, and believe-you-me I did some serious wrangling with the cast-on, heel instructions, etc. before discovering knitting by bicycle’s tutorial and experiencing an a-ha moment. The heels do not match, and I can’t quite figure out why. Neither looks wrong, exactly, but they are not the same. Also, my loose bind off is not loose enough. Something to work on.

socks-fo-3

socks-kitchen

Maybe I’ll do a wrap up post on these sometime in the future, but for now, these puppies are on my feet! Notes on my stitch count, etc. can be found on the project’s Rav page or in an earlier blog post. (Confession time: I haven’t even gotten around to weaving in the ends and tidying up those little holes that show up sometimes when you turn the heel…)

Progress.

This week, I’ve been reading a lot about Progress (with a capital P) and modernization in the 19th century. Something about all the language of improvement, advancement, expansion, etc. made me pick up my toe up sock project again (despite the fact that I think I most enjoyed reading things that explored the uneasiness with ideas of modernity that existed alongside the narrative of Progress).

toe-up-first-sock

Strange light in my house this morning — these socks have a lot more green in them than you can see in this photo. The lights and darks are definitely pooling, and there is a big weird dark splotch near the top (a function of the calf shaping I’m adding rather sporadically), but I actually love the big chunks of light/dark that make stripes.

After several false starts, this sock is flying. This expansion of my sock-knitting skill set would not be possible without this tutorial over at knitting by bicycle. The heel does not involve wrapping, and for that, I am extremely grateful. I’m so excited about being able to knit tall socks without worrying about how much yarn I’m using, and I’m thinking that this is going to turn into an almost knee-sock! (Yay.)

eggs-and-bread

I took this picture last week: fried eggs, homemade bread, good coffee, and at least ten minutes with the New Yorker = a good day.

Back to work — hoping to reward myself with finishing this sock today!

two coffee mugs, a yardstick and a soup bowl…

…walk into a bar. Nevermind. Instead, they enable this rooster to attempt to determine (in an incredibly unscientific manner, mind you) if she has divided a skein of sock yarn into balls of roughly equal weight:

homemade-scale1

This was necessary because yesterday I was determined to start a toe-up sock, encouraged by this tutorial over at knittingbybicycle. If one of the benefits of toe-up socks is being able to use up all of your yarn, I reasoned, I need to divide my yarn so that I can take full advantage of this approach to sock knitting. First I wound the yarn, and then I wound a ball from the ball I created, thinking I’d just stop when they looked about even. But even though they looked even, one of them seemed a bit tighter, and therefore, heavier. But I wasn’t sure: hence, the contraption pictured above.

toe-up-tosh-11

Here’s what I’ve got so far. I’m following the tutorial for the 64 st sock, which might be a tad roomy for me with these needles (US size 2, 3 mm) and this yarn (Madelinetosh superwash merino in colorway pool), but I figure I’ll rib the whole leg if that seems to be the case. It’s a bit too early to tell. Here’s another picture of the sock:

toe-up-tosh-21

I absolutely love the striping, and the yarn itself is wonderful to work with — it is slightly thicker than the other sock yarns I’ve used, and I’m finding that these are moving along quite quickly.

Also, I’ve added a bit to my sock yarn stash. I couldn’t resist the gorgeous pictures of Malabrigo sock yarn over at The Loopy Ewe. This came in the mail on Monday:

malabrigo-sock1

From left to right: Malabrigo sock in Ochre, Boticelli Red and Alcaucil, and Cherry Tree Hill sock in Slate. This yarn is gorgeous. I was initially thinking that the darker shades would be good for boy socks, and I may make a dressier pair for my dad out of one of these skeins. I’ve ordered a few more options from Webs, and I’ll share those when they arrive. The particular boy I have in mind lives mostly in hiking boots, so something thicker (but still superwash) seems like a better fit.

Time for another cup of coffee and a bit of sock knitting before I tackle this morning’s pile o’ reading. The sun is shining here. Have a great Wednesday!

santa is a very nice man.

That is a funnier post title if you are a member of my family. The story goes that my uncle, as a child, discovered the closet where Santa was hiding that year’s Christmas gifts. His mother found him and proceeded to interrogate him to figure out what, if anything, he had been able to piece together about his discovery. To the question, “Well, what have you learned?”, my uncle replied, tears running down his face, “Santa is a very nice man!”

And, indeed, he still is. I received several knitting-related gifts this year. I am very excited about the set of these:

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They are even more wonderful in person. I was a little nervous about the crazy colors, but they are more subtle than I thought, and a joy to knit with. I immediately transferred my Clapotis to a circular, as it was becoming a bit unwieldy as the increase rows progressed.

Eventually I’ll make my knitting resolution list for 2008, but here’s a spoiler: I want to become far more comfortable with socks. To aid me in this endeavor, Santa sent some treats: sock yarn from The Plucky Knitter and Madelinetosh, and Ann Budd’s Getting Started Knitting Socks (it is raining and I am lazy. I will add the links to these folks eventually. Promise.)

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Clearly, Boh is just as excited about the yarn as I am.

I also received a surprise treat from my grandmother. She taught me to knit more than 20 years ago, and though it needed about that long to hibernate before I returned to it, she is super excited that I have taken it up again with such fervor. She dug through her basement and invited me over to show me this:

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Which were inside this:

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I started looking through these, but ultimately decided that they deserve a rainy day and a pot of tea — like today. Too bad I have to go to work in about 20  minutes. This bounty was accompanied by a garbage bag full of acrylic blend yarns and a few unfinished projects. I couldn’t say no to the stash, despite the fiber content, and I’m thinking that it would be great to begin work on a log cabin blanket for my grandmother using her yarn. I am also in need of a mindless project…I’ll have to look at the colors and make some decisions before casting on.

Vacation is over — back to the office. The weather seems to agree with me that this is less than ideal.