Friday, March 28, 2008

A pretty WIP & some pretty yarn!

My knitting just made my day!! I picked the cloud bolero back up a few days ago and finally got to the part where I separated the sleeves from the body. This is my first remotely lacy project and it's been sort of tough to tell what's going on while it's on the needles, so I really wasn't sure how it was looking. Once I finally had the sleeves separated, I could try it on & find out, and it turns out that I LOVE IT!



I can't believe it was actually making sense that whole time! The pattern as written would have that be all for the sleeves -- I was actually supposed to do a picot bind-off on the last row. But I think that looks kind of stupid, so I'm going to go for probably 3/4-length sleeves. I'll figure it out when I've got the body done.

Also, my yarn from came yesterday!!


It has more hot pink than I expected, and pink's not usually a color I go for, but isn't it beautiful? It's going to be Cherie Amour!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sad news + cookie #8.

Sorry for my absence of late. I haven't been doing nearly enough knitting or baking, but I have an excuse: after over 2 and a half years together, Brian & I broke up last week. Yeah. That's about enough to kill anyone's inspiration for a little while, don't you think? Well, perhaps you would actually think that knitting & baking would bring me lots of comfort during such a time but instead I've been going for the most mindless activities possible: reading guilty pleasure blogs, playing solitaire on my computer, whining endlessly to my friends on the phone, and taking as many hot baths as I can. I'm starting to feel a little better, but obviously it'll take me some time to get over this. Never doubt anyone who tells you long-distance relationships are insanely difficult! It was mainly the distance, I think, that did us in, and I'm hoping we might be able to give it another try in the future, some time when we're actually living in the same state, but...hey, this is already more than I wanted to say about it on a public blog, so I'll leave it at that.

If you do go through a break-up, I probably won't be the only one to recommend chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate as a coping strategy. In fact, if I really like you, I'll probably make you a bunch of these phenomenal cookies:

Recipe: Chewy Brownie Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
Modifications: I think I halved it, but other than that I didn't change much.
Review: PERFECTION. Chocolatey, peanut buttery perfection. If the whole point of this project weren't to try lots of different recipes, and if I didn't have a desire to be at least slightly healthy, I would just make these every few weeks for the rest of my life.

Hopefully next time I'll have some knitting content. I am deeply ashamed that I've been staring at that gorgeous yarn for almost two weeks without knitting it, but as soon as I can get some teeny tiny sock needles I'll be all over it, I promise! I also ordered some stuff from, so you know I'll be showing that off when it arrives. And I'm still working on the little iPod cozy, but it's my knitting-in-public project and I haven't done that for a while. The Cloud Bolero is still happening, too, it's just at a standstill for the moment.

At least Spring is almost here, right? I'm excited to see the snow melting, FINALLY. A belated Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate it!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Gorgeous Yarn!

So I finished my Montana Scarf over the weekend but I don't have any good pictures of it yet -- I never seem to think of it until it's dark, and the few I've tried in the sunlight are just unacceptably crappy. I also can't show you pictures of the hat I knit for a friend over the weekend (not until I send it to him, anyway), and the Felted iPod Cozy I started yesterday is too boring to warrant photographing at this point (picture a green stockinette tube & you've got it). But I can make up for this lack of FO/WIP photos with some seriously beautiful yarn:


Are you drooling yet? That's 2 skeins of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport in Watercolor.


And this is 2 skeins of Claudia Hand-Painted Fingering Merino Wool in Caribbean Blue.

So, reason #230483240238 why you should join a knitting group in your area? Because if you say on your blog that you want to get started on socks, incredibly beautiful sock yarn might just come your way! Seriously, how lucky am I? The wonderful S. of Short N Crafty Sista read about my interest in socks & gathered up a whole bag of sock yarn that had green in it, since she needed to destash & doesn't care for green. I got to pick the two delicious yarns pictured above (an excruciatingly tough choice, by the way, since there were several other beautiful options), and everyone else got to take the rest. There aren't even any words for how grateful I am for this, but it definitely made my week!

I was up wayyyy too late last night trying to find suitable patterns for these. My first socks should probably be pretty simple, I figure, but I also want patterns worthy of these incredible yarns. I've pretty much ignored sock patterns up until now, so "overwhelmed" doesn't begin to cover how I feel looking through them now! There are so many! I'm starting to narrow it down, though, and hopefully I can start soon. I still need to get some of those tiny little sock needles, though -- I was going to run out & buy some today, but I think I might try to be patient and order some KnitPicks needles soon instead, since there are a few sizes I need for upcoming projects.

I did go yarn shopping over the weekend, too! I picked up some Berocco Peruvia in Maroon. (I almost went for green but I'm trying to branch out colorwise.) I'm using it on my aran weight version of Ysolda Teague's Cloud Bolero (Ravelry link). I am insanely nervous about this pattern, since I've never really done lace before, and I fully expect to make 10,000 stupid mistakes and have to restart it more than once. So far, though, it's going decently (knock on wood). I started it last night and have only moved through 10 or so rows, but it looks impressively lacy & lovely and I'm very excited about it!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Culinary Adventures.

Knitting has been going very sloooooowly lately, intentionally. I just don't want to finish my scarf so I'm dragging it out. You all did give me some good ideas on what to do next, though, so thank you! I'm starting to think that maybe I'm being a little silly to insist on something springy next, considering that there are still several inches of snow on the ground & we're supposed to get more today. So I might cast on for some mittens soon, because it looks like I'd certainly have time to use them.

While I haven't been knitting, I've been baking & cooking! That's something I really missed doing in Montana, so you bet I've been taking advantage of kitchen access since getting home. I've made two batches of cookies so far.

Cookie #6: Oatmeal Gingersnaps
Recipe: I found this on a friend's blog that isn't publicly accessible and then I modified it a bit, so here's my version:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
1 1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
Pinch allspice
Additional sugar

Cream butter sugar together in large mixing bowl. Beat in egg and molasses. Combine the dry ingredients and gradually add them to the creamed mixture. Roll into 1-inch balls, then roll balls in additional sugar. Place about 2" apart on greased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until set.

* The original recipe called for ground cloves, which I didn't have, but I do think they'd be a nice addition.

Review: You need to make these NOW! Everyone who tasted one loved them. My mom even sent me a text message that said "Cookies stupendous! Magnificent! Freaking good!" They were soft and chewy and gingery and molasses-y and just perfect. They reminded me of the fantastic molasses cookies my friend's extremely talented grandpa makes, and that's saying a lot. The ginger flavor is very strong, by the way, so if you don't consider that a good thing you might want to reduce the amount of ground ginger. Also these keep really well and stay perfectly soft in an airtight container. So, yes, stop reading this and go make some! You won't regret it.

Cookie #7: Black Forest Cookies
Recipe: Black Forest Cookies

Modifications: None made intentionally, but I have a bad habit of skimping on add-ins, and also of not measuring them, so I think I didn't add quite enough walnuts or cranberries to these.

Review: This is a soft, fluffy chocolate cookie filled with walnuts, sweetened dried cranberries, and chocolate chips. The flavors work together beautifully, but the base chocolate cookie is just kinda "meh." Using dark instead of milk chocolate might've improved that, and perhaps I'll try that next time. Also, make sure to use lots of dried fruit & nuts in these, because the cookies that are heavy on those are the really tasty ones.

* * *

Of course I've been making some things aside from cookies, too! Last weekend I made scones for the first time. Dried Cherry Chocolate Chip Scones, to be specific. I skipped the orange peel & almond extract and just used milk with a dash of vinegar for the buttermilk. Having never made scones before, I was nervous about how they'd come out, but they were absolutely delicious! I gave most of them to my mom to take to a potluck at her work, but I saved a bit of dough in the fridge and the next morning had fresh, hot scones for breakfast. Mmm!

I promise I haven't been entirely focused on unhealthy baked goods, though! I made homemade Lara-type bars just the other day and loved them. Have any of you had Lara bars? They're great! Despite my best attempts to eat homemade everything, I tend to make food that isn't really portable, and so before long days at school I usually find myself checking out nutrition bars and the like at the grocery store. Most of them are full of the kind of unpronounceable ingredients that scare me right off, but Lara bars are refreshing in that they only have a handful of ingredients, and all of them are things you've heard of and feel comfortable eating. For the most part, they're just pureed dates with some nuts, spices, or dried fruit mixed in. And did I mention that, on top of all of this, they actually taste really really good? So of course I had to try making a couple on my own! Mine were sloppier than the packaged ones, but otherwise good, and I'll definitely be trying to improvise some cool flavor combinations in the future.

Also, yesterday I made my first tofu scramble. Heidi Swanson at had intrigued me with the idea a couple weeks ago, and once I tried a bite of Brian's curry tofu scramble at the delicious Missoula breakfast joint Food For Thought, I was sold on the concept. Admittedly, I've never really eaten scrambled eggs (yes, seriously), so I don't know how/if a tofu scramble compares to that, I just know that I liked it! I kinda sorta followed the Heidi Swanson recipe but I wanted a spicier version, so I used lots of cayenne pepper, cumin, & turmeric. Then, because we had some, I topped it with crumbled vegetarian "bacon." It was really quick, tasty, satisfying meal, and I'm looking forward to experimenting with the recipe some more. Unfortunately I can't give you anyone else's review of it, because as I was packaging up the leftovers for Mom to take to work, I spilled them all over the floor! Talk about disappointing.

Anyway, I'm sure you were all pretty thoroughly bored with this, so I promise the next post will have some more knitting content and, if we're lucky, maybe some pretty yarn pictures, since Knit A Round is having their winter sale this weekend!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Give me ideas!

I have lots of baking goodness to share, but first let me just beg you guys to help me get inspired. I'm dangerously close to finishing my scarf and I have no idea what to knit next. What should I make for spring? I have some ideas so far but nothing that's really standing out and it's sort of depressing. Luckily I'll be yarn shopping this weekend, so I think that'll help.

Also, I've decided that I'm ready to come over to the Dark Side. That's right, guys -- I want to start knitting socks. I know that some of you bad influences have been waiting for this moment, so please recommend me some good beginner patterns and fill me in on where to find affordable sock yarn. (I just realized that this is a seasonally inappropriate urge on my part, since I never even wear socks when it's warm out, but...I guess I'll just be really prepared for next fall & winter!)

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Vacation photos & FO's!

Hi everyone! Sorry for the long absence. I only just got back the other day from my lovely week in Montana and I have lots to share! It was an absolutely beautiful trip and you can see all my best pictures from it here. Here are previews of some of my very favorite ones:

In every picture of me in that album, I am wearing something I knit! That's partly because I stayed up very late the night before my flight seaming the right sleeve on my green cropped cardigan so I'd be able to wear it during my trip. Here I am wearing it (and my Calorimetry!) on the first evening:

And here are some closer views:

P1060029 P1060030

I didn't have time to make a button loop or sew a button on before my flight, but now I've gotten so used to wearing it open like a shrug that I'm not sure I'll bother. I did buy a beautiful bone button for it at a bead shop in Missoula, though:


The cardigan got a lot of wear & many compliments during my stay, but I definitely needed something to keep the chill off my neck, so I cast on for a little neck-warmer during my layover in Denver. A few days later I had this:


Here's a closer shot, enthusiastically modeled by my poor cat Bob:

And one last close-up with the button:

I love the way the stitch pattern works with the subtle variations in the yarn! The pattern is here but I skipped the buttonholes because I couldn't settle on where to place them. Instead, I've just been shoving the one button through one of the naturally occurring holes in the stitch pattern. It works well enough like that. The only thing I dislike at all about this is how horribly it rolls. I knew it would but I was definitely in denial -- if I make this again, you bet there'll be a garter stitch border. As for this one, I'm hoping blocking or maybe crocheting the edges will help.

Of course I also bought yarn & started a souvenir scarf in Missoula, but I'll tell you all about that once I've finished it &/or taken some good pictures. For now I'm trying to catch up on all the blog posts I missed and I'll definitely be making some cookies later in the day. Have a great weekend, everyone!