idlewood, before blocking.

First off, thanks for all your kind comments about that silly blister-burn on my thumb. It healed very quickly, and I was so busy this weekend (headed out of town to see old friends and help out with a crazy few days of interviews for an organization I adore) that I didn’t even think about it until I was driving home this morning. I got minimal sleep, but managed to hop into my car this morning feeling restored in other categories. It was fun — and honestly, necessary for me — to slip back into non-profit life for a weekend, to remember that I really like working with people, to feel useful and productive, to cross things off long lists. (Grad school life is sort of the opposite these days, though I know it won’t always be this way.) I’m super tired from driving 500+ miles and working 12+ hour days (and playing afterward), but I’m so glad I went.

Instead of returning home to keep reading, I took a nap. And since then, I’ve been focusing on smaller tasks around the house, one of which was to finish up idlewood!

I’m really happy with this sweater. It is a tad snug at the waist/hips, but I’m counting on it to bloom and relax just a smidge after blocking. (It is soaking right now.) FO pictures soon!

Tonight? More knitting, cuddle time with Boh (he had a fantastic weekend with K., one of his favorite people) and early to bed. I’ll pick the reading back up tomorrow…

this heart’s (thumb’s?) on fire.

Do you know that song? Seems like song lyrics are all that pop into my head when I’m sitting down to write a blog post. Anyway, this is a great (upbeat, yet sweet) song by Wolf Parade. Unfortunately, it came to mind today because of a minor kitchen disaster that occurred yesterday.

I was making this squash pasta. And somehow, in the process of beginning to move the roasted veggies into the big pan on the stove, I knocked the large roasting pan and it began to fall. I should have backed away and let my dinner make its own mess. But I am a silly rooster, and I just couldn’t. Instinctively, I grabbed the (very hot) roasting pan. Everything still fell, but I managed to acquire a blistering burn on my thumb in the process. Now, I’m no stranger to kitchen burns, having worked for a few summers as a cook for backpacking expeditions, but this one is photo-worthy. Avert your eyes if pictures of blisters gross you out. (Sorry.)

Owch. The thing is, what I was most worried about was whether I’d be able to knit. You see, I worked all day with the idea that I’d give myself an hour to keep knitting on idlewood. (I salvaged about half the squash from the floor, mixed it with the pasta, as in the above photo, and ate it anyway. It was delicious.)

Good news. That blister, while a little tender, did not get in the way of more idlewood progress. I knitted the last few rows of the body and bound off this morning. I love the cowl. Swoon.

This fits perfectly (over my pajamas). I’m still not sure about the pockets — I have a pretty straight/boyish shape, and I’m not sure I want to add more to the hips. What do you think? I’m going to aim to finish the sleeves so that this is wearable (maybe tomorrow?), and if I can do that, I’ll probably wait to block it and decide about the pockets until I get back from my weekend adventures.

Another great line from that song?

sometimes we rock and roll / i’d rather stay at home in real life

this heart’s on fire

still life: dog with sweater.

Clearly, Boh understands portraiture.

And…not so still.

This is what yesterday looked like. Me, rotating from kitchen table to couch and back again. Boh, moving between couch, floor, and bed.

Also, this whole faking it thing? Works for more than just post-relationship sadness. I didn’t leave the house yesterday, but I dressed for work — button down shirt, earrings, cute boots — and I honestly think I was more productive. I’m going to try that again today. (I wonder, does it work if I just wear the same thing?)

Today? More reading. Also? More knitting. I’ve got about two inches left on the body of idlewood, as you can probably tell from that top picture. I’m heading out of town on Thursday afternoon, and I’d love to be able to take this sweater with me.

sweetness, a soaker, and first sweaters.

This dog has been such a comfort to me this week — a mixture of silly and sweet. Last night when I got home from a reading group, we played a game where I told him to sit, walked five paces, turned around and said, “Come on!” and he raced towards me. I think I got tired before he did. Dogs know when you’re having a hard time, and I am so thankful for Boh’s company right now.

I’m almost embarrassed to show you this — the beginning of a soaker that I started six weeks ago. It has succumbed to the curse of my in-the-bag knitting. It seems like I never actually work on the project I take everywhere. I can’t explain it. I started this alongside my dear friend T, who is expecting. (Yay!) We began them together, with the idea that I could help with troubleshooting if anything came up. T. has already made close to half a dozen of these sweet soakers, while I’m still knitting the ribbing of my first. (For shame.) At least I still have a few months before she’s going to need this!

I was talking with my friend P. yesterday about sweater-knitting — she called me on the way home from a yarn shop, her first sweater’s worth in the backseat. And as I bundled up to head out for a reading group last night, I grabbed my first sweater. The seaming is completely wonky, the ends are woven in weirdly, the size isn’t quite right…but I LOVE this sweater. Together with thrift-store boy jeans over long-underwear and a couple of long-sleeve layers, it was the answer to single-digit December temps — and to the transition I’m coping with right now. Handknits are magical like that.

jam/toast.

Friday morning, tomato jam and goat cheese on toast. This was exactly what I needed to start the last day of the (school) week. The jam is very sweet at first, and then the flavors smooth out a bit and there is a nice kick (from the chili flakes) at the end of a bite. I was concerned about the consistency of the jam — seemed a bit loose to me — but this was well within the range of the jam category, though I spread it with a spoon instead of a knife. I’ve been reading a bunch of food blogs that focus on preserving, and I’ve seen some discussion about how flavors mellow and meld as canned food sits on the shelf. Or in the fridge. This makes sense — the last jar of my summer 2009 dilly beans were different than the earlier jars. And some meals that are just alright as dinner are incredible as leftovers.

So I like this! It appeals to my love of savory breakfast food, and I’m interested to see if the flavors in this jam mellow over the next few weeks (for the jar in the fridge) and months (for the jars stacked on the shelf). My next plan is to slather this stuff on grilled cheese, and to think about using it as a sweet/spicy homemade alternative to ketchup (and someday, I’ll try my hand at making my own ketchup!).

Also, Friday morning it was chilly enough for a fleece vest and my handspun (knitted) toast. (I swear I wasn’t thinking about blog post content when I both ate jam on toast and then put on a pair of toast. But it works, doesn’t it? Silly rooster.)

Speaking of silliness, somehow the boy managed to get Boh perched on a chair. And then Boh serenely gazed out the window.

On Friday night, after a long week, we curled up and watched a movie, which meant that I finally picked up my idlewood. I am super close to separating the sleeves from the yoke. And I am super excited about this sweater.

Also, remember all that produce I posted about? Stay tuned for a whole slew of kitchen adventures…

charging/recharging.

So, school started on Wednesday. And even though I only had a few obligations on campus, and managed to can and cowl on Thursday (see what I did there? OED, here I come) the start of the semester is emotionally exhausting — something about trying to get comfortable in a slightly different routine. With all this in mind, my friend J. and I planned an afternoon hike, and it was just the kind of recharging we needed.

We headed out of town just after five, and hiked a nearby four-mile loop as we enjoyed the evening light. This really is my backyard — closer than my yoga teacher’s home studio, which is in one of the next towns over. Boh and I need to do this more.

When Boh and I returned, I made this colorful meal — nothing more than a bunch of farm veggies sauteed. I added some leftover rice from the fridge and it sopped up some of the broth created by the fresh tomatoes, and then I stirred in chunks of goat cheese feta to add a creamy texture. Super good, and just what I needed after that hike. This is the thing about cooking from a farm share — veggies that were harvested this week (often in the hours just before the afternoon member pick-up) are so full of flavor and earthy sweetness that you don’t have to do much of anything to them to make something absolutely delicious.

In between finishing one book and starting another, I inched towards the decrease row at the neckline of idlewood. Another inch or so and I’ll be there. I need to wind up another skein of yarn!

This morning, I worked on plying two bobbins of that super soft natural brown alpaca together. I tried to underply a bit, with the idea that a less tightly plied yarn would allow more a soft, alpaca-y halo in the finished yarn. It is soaking right now, so we’ll see how it turns out. On today’s agenda? Brunch with the boy, an afternoon birthday celebration near the lake, and a whole lot of reading/prepping for the week in between. Happy Sunday!

canning/cowling.

On Wednesday night, I blanched, peeled, and cored about a gallon and a half of paste tomatoes. And then I went to bed, more tired from the start of the semester than from the hour and a half of tomato labor! Thursday morning, before I put the water on for coffee, I filled my canning pot, gathered together some jars and lids, and set to sterilizing. 4 quarts and 2 pints of tomatoes had been raw-packed and processed (45 mins in the water bath, according to the scanned cookbook page my parents sent me, complete with my mom’s tiny, perfect notations about the number of tomatoes that fit in a pint or quart jar — love it) by mid-morning. I’m hoping to do this again next week if there are still tomatoes to pick when I head out to the farm on Tuesday.

I’ve also been cowling, which is how I’m referring (aloud, to no one in particular) to the act of knitting the cowl portion of idlewood. I am in love with the way this fabric feels and drapes in this gauge. I think I’ve got about ten inches, so I’m about two-thirds of the way there. If I can finish a book this morning, I’m going to let myself watch last night’s episode of Project Runway and do some cowling. Happy Friday!

idlewood; or, crazy for cowlneck, day 1.

I’d initially intended for my next post to be about blocking the hemlock ring. But that will have to wait until tomorrow. Why, you ask? Because last night I fell hard. For a sweater.

Have you seen this absolutely swoonworthy new design by Cecily Glowik MacDonald? I am in love. I immediately started looking through my stash for appropriate yarns and yardages. Beaverslide? Nope, not tweedy enough. Peace Fleece? Not drapey enough. And then I remembered this deliciously soft natural grey cormo from the Elsa Wool Company in Colorado. I purchased six squishy skeins in the fall of 2007 at the Taos Wool Festival, and I’ve been saving it for the right project. I think this is it. I checked the (handwritten) label, and found that the weight and yardage matched the yarn in the pattern.

So I swatched as I sipped my morning coffee, and began daydreaming of a cozy grey big-cowled tunic-y sweater. And suddenly the fact that the semester starts tomorrow didn’t seem quite so bad. I mean, this is the perfect sweater to be a hip-yet-studious grad student. Right? This sweater will actually help me with my preparation for my comprehensive exams. Right?

My swatch was close enough to the called for gauge, so I washed it, set it out to dry, and then cast on for the cowl neck. This pattern calls for using larger needles than you’d think would be appropriate for the yarn, and because of this, the drape is fabulous.

Boh is not impressed.

So here I am, twenty-four hours after I first laid eyes on Idlewood: an inch or so into the cowl neck, and a tiny bit more relaxed about the craziness that begins tomorrow.

hemlock blob, boh, buttons.

A podcast, an episode of Project Runway, and two mugs of coffee later, I present to you my hemlock ring, in blob form, and I love it. Now, where am I going to block this thing?

Boh has no idea.

Yesterday afternoon,  I quickly added a fourth (red) button to my Shalom, and then swapped out the less matchy orange button (second from the top) in order to make this wearable, and quick. See, yesterday was cold and rainy, and, let’s face it, rather unproductive. A coffee shop work plan took shape, and I decided that I needed to be able to wear Shalom. I think I will eventually swap out the orange buttons for red ones, but this worked wonderfully for yesterday’s coffee shop work date (followed by a french-fries-with-delicious-dipping-sauces-reward-for-reading date). Here are a few more Shalom pictures! (Tough to take good photos in artificial light. The blurry ones are my favorites.)

Back to the pile of reading!

FO: shalom.

Boh is anxious about button selection.

And here’s what I settled on. (Boh’s anxiety was completely valid, by the way. Turns out I made four buttonholes. Didn’t realize that until I sewed on three buttons and tried on the sweater. I’m not sure yet if I’ll move the top button down, leave it as is, buy another funky orange button, or swap the buttons entirely. Thoughts?)

Here’s a full length shot, even though the brilliance of the sunshine puts me (and shalom) in shadow.

Have I told you lately that I love this sweater? School and life got in the way of me finishing this earlier in the spring. Despite the fact that it took me a few months to knit, this is actually a super quick, super rewarding knit.

Yarn:  2.75 skeins of Cascade 220

Mods: I followed the pattern, but I used worsted weight yarn and size 7 needles (thanks to all the shalom knitters on ravelry for their detailed notes). To account for my smaller gauge, I added a repeat of the twisted rib yoke section, and then pretty much knit until it seemed to hit me at the right spot. Oh — and I added a fourth buttonhole, even though there is not currently a button to pair it with.

Even though all of my decisions about sizing occurred totally on the fly, this might be my best fitting sweater to date. Go figure. The weather around here is spring-y, and not too hot, so I should have lots of opportunity to wear my shalom this week!