Category Archives: Knitting

What I’ve Been Up To: A List in Pictures (and a few words too, because… well, just because)

I’ve been cooking:

Spiced Chickpea Pie filling… even more delicious over rice than in a pie!

Smoky Corn Chowder with Shrimp. OMG.

Making dessert:

Rocky Road Ice Cream, recipe from The Perfect Scoop

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Spice English Muffin Bread with Brown Sugar Butter. Um, yes please.

Sugared Toasted Almond Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

Drinking lots of wine:

I DID NOT DO THIS. My husband did. Weirdo.

Riding the Big Wheel:

Oh my god, I was terrified!!!

Knitting baby items:

No, not for me. For friends!

Finishing up the fourth Game of Thrones so I can upload the fifth one to the Kindle I’m getting in the mail TONIGHT:

Buying too much stuff online,

Admiring our wedding “guestbook” that Matt hung up as a surprise the other night:

… and wondering how all that dust got into my camera!

 

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Lazy days

Right. It’s been forever. I don’t even have an excuse this time. I haven’t been particularly busy, but I haven’t been particularly exciting, either.

My summer has been, well, lazy. Aussie and I have spent time getting back into the swing of things, sleeping in on the weekends and eating leisurely breakfasts, having weekly date nights and exploring our city, plodding our way through “McLeod’s Daughters.” I’d almost feel guilty about our inertia, but, well, the weather isn’t exactly pushing us to action.

That leisurely pace essentially ends now, though. Starting this weekend, it’s WEDDING SEASON (you know what I mean!). In just over three weeks, we’ll be on our way to Australia for what will be the longest vacation of my life (ohmygod, I can’t wait). And then… whoa. It will be September.

Where is this non-summer summer going?

In case you think I’ve been luxuriating far too much in the diminished responsibilities of summer, behold:

It only took me 5 years to get to a farmer’s market… and all Matt and I wanted to make with our spoils was pizza! Fresh peas, artisan sausage, and spinach from the market added to the ricotta, pesto, and parmesan in our fridge made for a very tasty pie.

My ice-cream experimentation continues, this time with Strawberry Sour Cream Ice Cream (recipe, of course, from The Perfect Scoop). Best ice cream ever? Quite possibly. Unfortunately, we aren’t eating enough ice cream to keep up with my making of it, so I’ve got to slow down on this!

My child-self looooved stuffed shells (really, what’s not to love?), but at some point Mom stopped making them. Probably something to do with too much cheese and carbs. So, I made them for my adult-self… and I am still deeply in love (because, REALLY, what’s not to love)? I cooked them in two pie pan and made cute little spirals out of the shells. Really, love. Recipe from 101cookbooks, although I took the lazy route and used jarred sauce.

It took me THIRTEEN MONTHS to finish these socks. One is about an inch taller than the other. Nobody’s perfect. (For the curious: Grumperina’s “Jaywalker Socks,” Koigu Painter’s Palette Premium Merino in an unknown colorway).

Aaaaand… that’s all for now. Pardon the thoroughly uninspired sign-off.

Productive, finally

I’ve been busy! My favorite kind of busy, too — the kind that lets me make fun things while being cozily at home.

First up: AH-mazing (as in, the most delicious thing ever, I died and went to heaven) Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies. I made these for our belated Father’s Day celebration, since, when we were kids, no road trip was complete with Dad buying Nutter Butters from a convenience store — which he would *kind of* share with us. Recipe from The Grand Central Bakery Cookbook.

(These are very much a “sometimes” food!)

Also for Father’s Day, one of Dad’s indulgences from my childhood — Rum Raisin ice cream. Dad and Aussie gave it the thumbs up. None for me, thankyouverymuch. Recipe from The Perfect Scoop.

(Blurry on purpose so you don’t have to see the raisins polluting the fantastic rummy custard base!)

Not for Father’s Day, or even for Aussie (since he likes rum raisin), but purely for me — Vanilla Ice Cream, Philly-style. My first experience with vanilla beans!* Recipe also from The Perfect Scoop (hasn’t failed me yet).

(Most boring picture ever. Enjoy).

It wasn’t all cooking, though. I also made my sister a MAGENTA (the color deserves all caps) slouch hat. “Taylor Swift Inspired Diamond Slouch Beret” by Julie Grantz.

(I’m smirking at YOU!)

But then… back to food. Aussie was so enamored with the blueberry muffins I made last week (and the European romance of eating pastries with breakfast), that he requested another breakfast treat this week. I made Low Fat Banana Nut Bread from Gina’s Skinny Recipes (as muffins instead of a loaf… just reduced baking time to 23 mins), which was described as tasting both like banana AND nuts, and therefore delicious.

(This photo is not, however, delicious.)

And that’s about it! Now I’m just twiddling my thumbs hoping the sun makes an appearance sometime. A girl can only bake (and eat) so much, right?

*Side note: Vanilla bath products have totally nailed it. They smell EXACTLY like vanilla beans. Nice one.

In pictures…

On Friday night, I made bread. Then I made butter to put on the bread. I felt like freaking Laura Ingalls.

On Sunday, I finished the hat I was (slowly, very slowly) making for my sister. Because, you know, one hand-knit slouchy hat isn’t enough.

Last night, I made banana pumpkin muffins*, because how else would I use three too-ripe bananas, my leftover homemade butter, and that pumpkin puree that is STILL languishing in my freezer?

Today, my wonderful Aussie sent me flowers at work. It almost made me cry.

And… tonight, I had the most blissful massage and facial, courtesy of an awesome TravelZoo deal, at a spa that is ridiculously close to home.

Feel free to smack me the next time I complain.

*These are, obviously, adapted. I made them into muffins to encourage portion control (HA!!!), used raw sugar instead of light brown because that’s what I had, and omitted the nuts because I was too lazy to go to the store. All in all, quite good, but next time, I think I’ll make a loaf instead.

Christmas Knitting

After a two-year hiatus, I once again made knitted goodies for my family for Christmas. I learned my lesson from last time (the year when I made a sweater as one of the six gifts!!)… this Christmas, I made 1-2 skein projects that I knew I could finish in a week or less.

Success! No stress, happy recipients, happy me!

Here are the results.

FOR MY LITTLE SISTER: 16 Sixteen Cable Hat by Circé Belles Bouchles. Knit in Elsebeth Lavold Baby Llama in 014 Purple on US 5 and 7 needles.

My happy little recipient! Doesn’t she look cute?

FOR GRANDMA: My Kind of Town Cowl by Trish Woodson. Knit in Mirasol Yarn Ushya in colorway 1708 (deep red) on US 17 needles.
On Grandma! (Ignore the fact that it’s on backwards!)

FOR MOM: Cable Cowl by Kristina Larson. Knit in Classic Elite Yarns Lush in colorway 4479 (deep purple) on US 8 needles (I went for a more delicate scarf than the original chunky pattern… my mom is too tiny!). Three adorable buttons to complete!

FOR MY AUNT: Emanelle by Nancy Ricci. Knit in Plymouth Yarn Baby Alpaca DK in colorway 5058 (sea green) on US 5.

FOR MY UNCLE: Mr. Tweedy by Liz Thompson. Knit in Rowan Kid Classic in colorway 00873 (navy blue) on US 4.
With Aussie modeling…
Happy with their hats!

FOR MY DAD: Dashing by Cheryl Niamath. Knit in Queensland Collection Kathmandu Aran in colorway 153 (olive green tweed) on US 6 needles.

AND FOR MY AUSSIE: Classic World War II Watch Cap by Helen Waittes. Knit in Cascade 220 Superwash in colorway 900 (dark gray) on US 6 needles.

SEXY BEAST!!!

Three hats, two fingerless gloves, and two cowls/scarves… all knit in seven weeks!

Next up, I think I’ll make a sweater for myself. It can be my while-Aussie-is-away project. I better get started though, because with my (lack of) focus for anything bigger than a hat, a sweater will be a challenge!

The (eventually) adorably precious baby sweater

This, my friends, is a story of perseverance. It’s a story of big hopes, big disappointments, and lots (and lots and lots) of starting over… and (thankfully), it’s a story with a happy ending. (It’s kind of a long story, too, so if you don’t want to read about my epic battle of yarn and needles, just scroll down and look at the pictures!)

As I’m sure you know, at one point I was quite the avid knitter. I knit sweaters and socks and purses and mancala boards. And then, as is wont to happen, I completely burnt out.

Then I got invited to my friends Tess and Evan’s baby shower.

Things changed.

A lot.

Since Tess is my first peer/buddy who is having a baby, I wanted to make something adorable and tiny and perfect for their little girl. I wanted to caress soft baby yarns and use little needles. I wanted to knit!

I settled on a pattern… the cutest little dress with a cable down the front. I bought some yarn — the softest pima/modal/angora (but still machine washable and dryer-safe!) blend ever in a beautiful buttery yellow that looks apricot in other lights. I got some needles… I was set!

Five or six days of determined knitting later, I realized that one armhole was headed in the normal direction, while one would be sticking out of the baby’s chest. NOOOO!!

I scrapped it. The pattern had been badly translated, and I just didn’t want to figure out where it (or I, I guess) went wrong.

ATTEMPT #1: FAIL

Crushed and crunched for time with less than a week left, I cast on some booties. I got halfway through with one, got bored, and frogged it.

ATTEMPT #2: FAIL

Desperate, I picked up another adorable dress pattern. It had the cutest garter yoke with little button closures. Precious! The pattern called for fingering yarn. I figured the DK weight I had would bump up the dress no more than two sizes, and a 6-9 month size would get used soon enough. Four frantic knitting days later, I got to a place where I could measure…

18 MONTHS?!?!? NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Why oh why oh WHY didn’t I pay attention to gauge?

ATTEMPT #3: GIANT FAIL!

Ridiculously desperate and thisclose to giving up on a hand-knit gift just two days before the shower, I stumped upon a pattern called the “Five Hour Baby Boy Sweater.” Ravelry showed me that, in contrast to the dated example on the webpage, it was a damn cute sweater, and not boyish at all! Was there hope?

I ran to the yarn store, eager to ask a professional if I could use my treasured Baby Bunny yarn on this sweater. The lady there was… well… a bitch. Besides trying to upsell me, she countered my indecisiveness by asking me if I’d forgotten to each lunch that day.

True story.

I grabbed some red yarn I didn’t love for a backup… precious moments were ticking away, after all!… and ran home.

This time, I GAUGED. And gauged and gauged and gauged. I figured out a way to use the Baby Bunny in the Five Hour Sweater pattern. Success!

I knit. I knit and knit and emptied out my DVR and talked to Aussie. I knit until it became very clear that I would need a circular needle which I didn’t have to continue. Saturday came, and two yarn store trips later, two trips each on buses and a ferry spent knitting, and another night of knitting and knitting and watching TV… and it was done!

And oh my!! It was stinkin’ cute!

It was the sweater of my dreams.

It’s soft and cozy and feels good when you rub it on your face.

It turned out EXACTLY as I wanted it, and I was ever so proud to give it to the expecting parents. I can’t wait to see their baby girl wear it!

Now, who’s next? As much as the tiny footie jammies I saw at the shower yesterday made my uterus tick, I’m not sure I’m quite ready… yet!

 

Note to Knitters: Pattern is the Five-Hour Baby Boy Sweater, available for free online. I used Plymouth Baby Bunny in colorway 208 HELD DOUBLE on size 9 needles. Rather than crochet a slip stitch to seam the arms (and reduce finishing!), I cut the yarn and did mattress stitch up the arms. 😦 Two mother-of-pearl buttons closed with a figure-8 crocheted cord (one end sewn down) completed the look… and conveniently covered a teeny-tiny mistake! It probably took 7-8 hours, not including endless gauging or sewing on the buttons.

I’m baaack…. with socks!

Goodness, bad Jenni. I have neglected you, little blog. I am sorry.

To apologize, I’m going to show you some pretty pictures today, ok? OK??

So, remember that pretty yarn I bought months ago to make Aussie a much begged-for pair of socks? No? Well, maybe this will help:

Maybe that rings a bell. It was so pretty — green and purply and brownish… loved it! I was so excited to knit some kick-ass socks with it!

Well, then Aussie picked the most boring pattern known to man. I wanted to knit him something spectacular… but he wanted plain ol’ boring… and picked a pattern with endless diamonds.

I’m no fan of knitting texture. I like knitting features, but texture makes me want to claw my eyes out.

*Sigh* See what I do for love?

So, finally, three months later, after pissing and moaning and sighing and humphing about how boring these socks are (I can be such a whiner sometimes!), I finally finished them!

Wait, WHAT? I ended up knitting CAMOUFLAGE socks?

*Sigh* Yes I did.

And even though the knitting of them made my soul die a little, the giving of them made my heart soar. Aussie was SO HAPPY… happy enough to do girly little poses like this one!

All in all, they came out pretty cute, and I have a very happy Aussie on my hands, so all is good.

THEN!

Since those were out of the way, I could finally finally FINALLY knit something that more accurately reflected my own sensibilities. Having sat on a super-cute pattern for fingerless gloves since, well, I bought the camo yarn, I was ready to dive in.

One day and 18 episodes of “Say Yes to the Dress” later (poor Aussie!!), I ended up with these!

Aren’t they cuuuuute? They’re even cuter on!


So glad my nails don’t look like junk!

Not quite as dainty as I envisioned, but still so cute! I love the faux seams framing the thumb. But I really should be holding a cup of tea or something…

Oh, snap! (Shh… the cup is totally a prop. It’s empty. I’m a big liar.)

I love my new glovies so much that I’m going to start another pair this weekend, this time in a yarn that’s a bit more summery… not that the lovely Pacific Northwest weather is giving me any reason to pick a lighter yarn!

(Hint, Seattle: Bring on the sunshine!)

Yarn Porn

I know, I know. I said I was having trouble finding inspiration for posts. Apparently that changed this week.

I had heard tell that Etsy sold yarn, but never looked at any of it. Now that my love of knitting has been rekindled, though, I’ve been lured in.

Because, well, yarn on Etsy is kind of like porn for knitters.

Am I right?


(left to right, top to bottom, all sock yarns: IVY Sawa Sawa Superwash Merino Nylon Sock Yarn by okayknits, Changing BFL Fingering Weight Yarn by Epicurus, Merino Sport Superwash Merino Sock Yarn in Blackberry by LunabudKnits, Forest Floor in Hand Dyed Superwash Wool and Nylon Yarn by Kangaroodyer, Handpainted Organic Ultrafine Merino 4ply Sock Yarn by zuccherofilato, Blackbird Batik Foot Notes Sock Yarn by FiberOptic, Handpainted Superwash Merino Yarn in Autumn Nights by KNITSPIRATIONS, Handpainted Merino Sock Yarn by WhorledPeace, Coffee Bean Handpainted Superwash Merino/Sea Cell Wool Sock Yarn by UrbanGypZ)

I am especially in love with the Sawa Sawa and the yarn by WhorledPeace. Sooooo lovely!

Makes me want to finish Aussie’s socks in a hurry, so I can move onto something a little…well… prettier!

Now, off to enjoy this gorgeous sunshine we’re having. Happy Weekend!

In lieu of a vacation…I knit.

I need an escape. Seriously. This year is driving me batty so far, and I have to keep reminding myself to take deep yoga breaths.

In the absence of being able to take a vacation to someplace warm where I can be pampered, fed, kneaded, and protected from incessant and often arrogant questions, I am immersing myself in knitting.

And because that’s what a blog is for, I’m going to share.

Remember this glorious yarn?

Well, now it looks like this!

Aren’t they cute? I love this pattern — Sunday Swing Socks; all the swirls and whirls just make me happy. And they look like a Seattle sky in February (the way it’s supposed to look, not this weird blue stuff we’ve been having). And they fit perfectly. And they are comfy. These will be lived in, I can tell ya.

Next up? More socks. My Aussie started requesting some when I was knitting the first pair, then started begging as I knit this pair… so I’m giving in. I picked him out some nice, manly yarn, too (although that brown tends to look more purplish in certain lights)…

Can’t wait to get started!

Rediscovered Love

I’ll never forget my first choir concert in college. No, I don’t remember what we sang, or how we did, or anything like that. What I remember was this: in our down time, everyone knitted.

I thought knitting was only for old ladies, but obviously, I was mistaken. All my young, hip, collegiate peers were expertly wrangling with yarn and sticks, and I felt terribly left out. That winter break, I taught myself how to knit online (resulting in a non-classifiable technique that, fortunately, still results in something that looks like knitting!), and I fell in love.

I knitted scarves — tons of them. I graduated to hats. I used beads, made lace, taught myself to knit socks from a pattern. I experimented with felting, both in the washing machine and in my bathtub. I went on a LYS (local yarn store) solo tour around Western Washington and dyed my own yarn with food coloring. I knitted a purse, a camisole, fingerless gloves, a sweater, and mancala board…

and I burnt out. My love affair with knitting lasted over six years and followed me from college, to the midwest, and back to Seattle. Then, after a completely over-the-top handmade Christmas, I quit cold-turkey. I could hardly bear the thought of looking at yarn or needles. I was done.

And then, just before Christmas, Mary happened. My good friend Mary, who is crafty and domestic, asked me to help her with her knitting. A few weeks later, I was hooked again. It’s all Mary’s fault!

So, anyway, let me share with you the fruits of my rebirth… they’re awfully pretty!

First up, knitted in Cascade Yarn’s Baby Alpaca Chunky (sigh of loveliness!), Silver’s Palindrome Scarf.

(Reversible cables… brilliant!)

(So luscious!)

I LOVE this pattern. It’s simple and soothing, with gentle ribbing and occasional cables to pique your interest, and it results in an amazingly thick, warm scarf. Perfect for keeping your hands busy while you watch TV or gossip with your best girl friends. Gorgeous. Consider me re-hooked!

Next up, I knitted a pair of Fiber Trend’s Railroad Rib Socks because I fell in love with some beautiful self-striping Lana Grossa Soja sock yarn.

(Isn’t the colorway beautiful?)

Unfortunately, they are a fair bit too big. I knit this same pattern a couple years back and didn’t realize just how much the circumference of your feet can change when you lose weight. Oops. So, they will be my at-home slipper-socks… comfy comfy.

Now, I’m working on another pair of socks. (I kind of love knitting them). I will share the finished product with you when I’m done, but for now, here’s the yarn as a teaser…

Love it!