So summer flew by and I’m back in school.  Two weeks into the semester and I’m already swamped, but I promised myself I’d find time to show you all my new favorite FO.  Back at the beginning of the summer we got in some Madelinetosh Pashmina at Loop (and I just heard a rumor more is coming soon).  I’d been waiting and waiting for it to arrive and I knew just what it was going to be.  The pattern I’d earmarked was the lovely Mary Jane Tee by the ladies of Zephyr Style and published Winter ’08 twist collective.  And the result is as awesome as I’d hoped.  See below for my (somewhat silly) so-happy-about-my-new-sweater face.

Pattern: Mary Jane (ravelry)

Source: Winter ’08 Twist Collective

Yarn: Madelinetosh, Pashmina

Needles: US 2 & 3

Started: June 7, 2010

Finished: August 20,2010

Find it on Ravelry here.

The yarn is definitely a huge factor in what makes this sweater so special.  That brilliant blue is certainly not going to let my fly under the radar.  It is just an insanely beautiful color, which is of course we we all love Tosh so much.  But the base is impossibly good as well.  Pashmina is super soft and smooth.  It is full and springy.  It has the slightest halo, just enough to feel, but not so much that it obscures the brilliance of the colors.  It has lovely stitch definition, making it great for this pattern.  And while I’m normally a t-shirt under my sweaters kind of girl, I really just want to wear this against my skin.

The pattern of course, is the sweetest of sweet.  Especially, I think, when one chooses the second sleeve style option and goes for the cap sleeve.  The cap sleeve directions are not published in the Twist Collective version of the pattern, however I emailed Sarah from Zephyr style and she sent me the portion of the pattern, with the changes for the cap sleeve.  The ease of the exchange convinced me completely of the awesomeness of Zephyr Style.  That and the fact that the pattern is smart and easy to understand.

The construction is a pretty standard top down raglan, with the main difference being the openness of the neckline.  In general it’s a pretty simple sweater, but it’s made more interesting by the details and the bands of textural stitch patterning.  Some favorite details include: the garter ridge at the top of the sleeve, the subtly changing width of pattern bands, and the eyelets at the top of the hem ribbing.

Mostly I knit the sweater as written.  The one exception is a added a few decreases for shaping after the bust.  I didn’t want the tee to be skin tight, but I did want it to have a body conscious fit, and after trying it on as I went, it was clear that one me decreases were going to be required to achieve that effect.  In the end, I’m very happy with the fit.  It’s just what I wanted.  And I can’t wait for it to cool down a bit so I can wear this guy for more than just a Copenhagen photoshoot!

After a long summer of asking myself “where the hell has my knitting mojo gone?” and “what are you doing with all your time?” (answer to both is pretty much summer school), I just thought I’d drop in to say “hi!” and show you the silly hat that brought my mojo back.

Pattern: Pikisi Hat (ravelry)

Source: Erica Knits

Yarn: Malabrigo, Worsted

Needles: US 7

Started: August 1, 2010

Finished: August 8,2010

Find it on Ravelry here.

IRL it’s not so red (iphone photo alert!) and the pom pom is sort of hiding in the picture, but this hat saved me from a knit-less life.  Ever since picking it up, I’ve been picking up old projects and new, and getting some real knitting done.  The pattern is silly, and easy and fun.  And I loved every second of it, even making the pom pom.

Ok so I know I promised that I would show knitting content soon, and I swear it is on it’s way, but first I just had to stop in to tell you about the amazing thing I made myself for dinner.  And while I recognize, that the following photo may look like a boring bowl of white mush it is actually a bowl of delicious summery awesomeness.  It is in fact, Quinoa and Sauteed Cauliflower & Zucchini with Ginger Lemon Sriracha Butter.  Yup, you heard that right.

My initial plan for the evening was to make the Tabasco & Asparagus Quinoa from 101 Cookbooks.  That is until I opened my fridge and realized my asparagus had wilted and I don’t own Tabasco (Srircha is the one and only hot sauce for me!).  So I had to revise my game plan.  And this is what I came up with.  Its is definitely inspired by the idea of the 101 Cookbooks recipe, but lots of changes were made.  Please bear with me on the amounts, as this recipe was largely improvised in progress and mostly not measured.

It makes about enough to feed me four times, so that would be about four people with smallish to normal appetites.  If you’ve got a lot of big, hungry men coming to dinner, you might need more.  I hope you enjoy!

Quinoa and Sauteed Cauliflower & Zucchini with Ginger Lemon Sriracha Butter

1 1/2 cups dry Quinoa

1/4 head of Cauliflower chopped into bit sized pieces & parboiled for 1 1/2 minutes

1 small Zucchini, sliced and rounds quartered

2 bunches Spring Onions chopped (ends only)

1 bunch Garlic Scapes chopped (ends only)

1/2 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature

juice of half a Lemon (squeezed but not pulverized)

walnut sized piece of fresh Ginger, peeled and grated

Salt & Pepper

First make the Ginger, Lemon, Sriracha Butter.  Whip room temperature Unsalted Butter until fluffy with hand mixer. Squeeze in juice of half Lemon.  Grate in fresh Ginger and add about 4 small squirts Sriracha.  Add small palm-full of salt. Whip again.  Set aside.

Cook Quinoa in your normal fashion.*  While cooking Quinoa, saute vegetables in about two large dollops of the Ginger Lemon Srircha Butter, saving the rest.  Add salt and pepper to taste while sautéing.

Once both veggies and Quinoa are cooked, toss together in large bowl with the remainder of the butter (I used it all, but if you like things less buttery you could use less, and add more to taste at the table).  Serve warm.

Those with a spicier palette may want to add more Sriracha at the table.

*I make my Quinoa like this: Soak Quinoa for 1 1/2 hours.  Drain and rinse.  Bring to boil with 3 cups of water in large-ish saucepan.  Reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer about 15 minutes, until water is absorbed and Quinoa is tender.  Removed from heat and let sit covered for 3 to 4 minutes.  Fluff with fork adding salt and pepper.

Oh dear.  Where have I been?  Well the obvious answer is in grad school.  There’s probably a more complicated answer as well, but let’s just go with that one, as grad school has become my catch all excuse for everything.  Anyway, the semester is over (!!!) and summer school has begun.  And while I honestly really love school, it’s nice to have a bit more time, with the more relaxed schedule.  More time for things like, knitting, reading cooking and hopefully blogging.  But definitely a lot of cooking, especially since CSA season has begun again.  So I’m just gonna show you somethings I’ve been whipping up lately.  And there’s yarny content coming soon, I promise.

As it’s late Spring/ early Summer, I’m sure you can imagine that a lot of what I’ve gotten in my boxes so far are greens greens greens.  In the most recent box (which was actually my second, the first one happened during finals and ended up getting gifted to my Mom), I got Kale, Spinach, Butterhead Lettuce, Bok Choy, Parsley, Green Onions and a few Potatoes.  So fresh and crispy, but largely monochromatic.

I made some Olive Oil and Kale Mashed Potatoes and discovered that adding Kale to a food I actually like doesn’t neccessarily make me like Kale.   Not that it was bad, it just wasn’t my favorite.  But maybe this recipe will make me like it.  I also made this recipe for Pasta with Asparagus and Spinach.  It was in a béchamel sauce, that I managed to make without burning on my finicky little gas stove.  Oh my gosh, was this stuff good.  Sadly, it didn’t photograph so well.  So you’ll just have to take my word for it.

I’ve always been a better cook than a baker.  But I’d like to try and change that in some of my free time this summer.   So inspired by this recipe, I decided to make some shortbread.  Because I really, really love shortbread.  Instead of her lemon chamomile variety, I decided to make Lemon Earl Grey shortbread.  Mostly because despite a growing appreciation for herbal tea in the last few months, I still prefer black tea.

I think that preferred shortbread consistency is one of those things that is so completely personal, a bit like which toilet paper you like (ok maybe not quite THAT personal).  Every type is a valid preference, but you like what you like, and you like it because it just feels right.  For me perfect shortbread is richly buttery and never dry.  I prefer softer, so a little crumbly is ok, but the kind of crumbles that come from softness not dryness.  I had never made shortbread before.  But I was a bit suspicious that the flour to butter ratio in this recipe might lead to a slightly drier shortbread than I like, but having never made shortbread before, I didn’t want to muck around with changing things.  In the end, it was a bit dryer than I would like.  But the flavor is fresh and light, and washed down with a cup of tea, it is really lovely.  Next time I’m going to try Jamie Oliver’s recipe from Jamie Cooks.

While that was in the oven, I decided to make something heat free for dinner.  So I threw together some easy avocado salsa.  Boy was that tasty!  Loads of lime, cilantro and a little Sriracha were used to spice up the flavor of the veggies.  I know Sriracha in salsa is a bit unorthodox, but it’s the only hot sauce I have, and while I normally think of it as a very different type of burn, it worked!  I ate the salsa with chips on Monday and on top of a piece of easy grilled chicken last night.  I love it when I can get that kind of milage out of food.

So now you’ve had a peak into my kitchen, I promise next time you’ll get a peak into my knitting bag!

So I think it’s time to admit that grad school is bad for blogging.  I always mean to find the time to put something here, but sometimes that time just doesn’t exist.  That being said, I am so not ready to give up on this yet, so I promise to try and do my best to make time when I can.  But the reality I’m facing is that posts just won’t be as frequent as they once were.  So I’m going to stop apologizing for not posting and just do my best to post when I can.  That is my oath to you from now on.

So now that that is out of the way.  Ravelympics came and went.  I finished both my projects (hurray!), but it was sort of anticlimactic because they were small since school work has been heavy the last few weeks.  March 1 came and my internal clock seemed to know it was Malabrigo March even when my conscious mind did not.  Within in the first three days of march I cast on two projects with Malabrigo yarns.

As you might guess, this was largely motivated by a need for some color in my life.  Here in Philly things are just starting to warm up.  It’s supposed to be beautiful today, but last week it was hovering around the 40s, back and forth from grey to sunny to drizzly again.  And the solution was these little guys.

The first to come was a Verdaia shawl, cast on in Malabrigo Sock in Agaus (which in truth is not quite so blue in real life, a reality my camera refused to accept).  This new shawl pattern cropped up a few weeks back and right away I liked the looks of it.  I had originally planned to make Clothilde with this yarn, but when push came to shove I had plenty of other sock yarns I would be happy to use for Clothilde and nothing else I wanted to use for this.  It’s a nice pattern, the body is relatively simple, with slightly more complexity coming up in the edging.  More details are here.

A few days later I was really feeling the need for some serious lace.  And because Verdaia is relatively simple, I needed to add in something else to fill that void.  In addition to that, I could not stop thinking about this yarn as soon as the sun peaked through the clouds.  It is Malabrigo Lace in Sauterne and it is the most perfect yellow in the world if you ask me.  So I cast on for Aeolian.  This pattern rocks.  And so does this yarn.  I had forgotten how awesome it feels all the time.  I truly love it.  More detail on this one can be found here.

Those two projects have been grabbing most of my attention in the past week.  But Spring break is coming up soon.  And once I recover from having my wisdom teeth out  my plans are minimal and will hopefully involve lots of knitting!  Fingers crossed.

So these are hardly the most inspiring thing I’ve ever knit, and yet they’ve been quite popular on my Ravelry project page lately, so I thought I’d share them here too.


Pattern: Baby Moc-a-Sock (ravelry)

Source: Bekah Knits

Yarn: Green Mountain Spinnery, Maine Organic & Mountain Mohair

Needles: US 7

Started: October 30, 2009

Finished: January 23, 2010

Find it on Ravelry here.

I finished the knitting on these back around Christmas, but it took me awhile to get my act together and sew the soles on.  Eventually my feet just really wanted to be warm, so they won out over procrastination.

Although there is now an adult version of this pattern, I used the baby version and the notes on adapting it for an adult found here.  This leads to a chunkier look than the official adult version of the pattern.  There are also some extra notes on adapting that I took into account here.  The result is very cute.  And with the addition of some fiber trends leather soles they become a more durable slipper for those of us who spend a lot of our at home time bouncing from room to room.

Interestingly enough, I to tried to full these a little in the dryer after blocking more than once.  It wasn’t very successful.  They only shrank and fulled the tiniest amount.  However, the Maine Organic is a sturdy enough yarn that they still have some structure to them.  I wear them basically everyday now, so let’s hope they hold up!

Except unlike in December when I was snowed in in DC with my family, my guy and a friend of ours, this time I am all alone.  Fear not!  I took the opportunity to have a mini James McAvoy movie marathon (so far Becoming Jane and Starter for 10 and I’m planning on Wanted and Penelope next) and knit like a crazy person.  Most of my day has looked like this…

Except of course for the part of that looked like this…

Unfortunately I only managed to dig out the front walk and the sidewalk and not my car, which is in fact that vaguely station wagon shaped mound of snow you can see behind my head.  Which is going to make getting to my first day at my new part time job tomorrow mighty interesting.  Somehow I’ll manage.

Most of my knitting today has been dispersed over a number of projects just started within the last 48 hours.  One of the ones I’m most excited about is a new pair of glittens to replace the pair I made two years ago which are now thread bare and pathetic.  I’m knitting them out of Tosh Sock in Ink, which sure is looking pretty (oh, and don’t miss the snow on sill).

I also recently started a improvised shawl design based on the traditional shawls that show up in all the costume dramas I watch.  I’m using a traditional shetland construction with a vintage lace edging.  It’s been loads of fun so far, just dreaming it up. I also restarted making the Acorns hat with some Tess Cultivated Silk & Wool.  I had begun making it with my one handspun, but it’s still so slubby that it was just looking too knobby.  This version is going to be super smooth.

So my knittings been sprinkled about, but it’s been a productive snow storm.  In fact it’s been a productive year so far.  1879 yds worth of finished projects since Jan. 1.  I know because I’ve been keeping track for the Yarn Snobs Stashdown.  Mostly I don’t have pictures that I’m happy with enough to show you anything yet, but I will share these…

Hardly enough to warrant their own FO post, these little guys make me super happy anyway.  They are knit in Mama Blue Troika Worsted, which it turns out is what heaven would be like if it were a yarn.  More information is up on ravelry.  And more knits soon!

I’d like to introduce you to a new friend.  I’m tentatively calling her Jemaine.  Jemaine is an Ashford Kiwi that showed up under the Christmas tree this year.

I love her.  You know how sometimes when you wait for something for a long time it builds anticipation, and you get so excited, but then once the excitement settles, it’s really not that great.  Well, this isn’t like that at all.  I waited patiently for my new friend since Rhinebeck when Mom & I picked her out.  Meanwhile I spent the intervening months looking at fiber online constantly, making lists of whose fiber I wanted to stash, reading The Intentional Spinner, queuing patterns that are good or handspun yarns and admiring the handspun of fellow ravelers.  And then Christmas Day, I opened the box, harassed my Dad until he put my little Kiwi together (in our family assembly is the truly generous part of the gift) and started spinning.  It was love at first treadle.

Since then I’ve made these.  I squeezed in as much spinning time as possible into the last few weeks of my busy break.  I took a private lesson with Rosemarie at fibre space, which was super helpful.  By the end of that lesson I had made my very first plied bobbin, which turned into this little puppy right here:

It’s a bit under-spun in places and still disorganized, but hey it looks like yarn!  And I got better pretty quickly.

I kept working away on two more bobbin of singles, until Friday night when I plied those up as well.  I soaked and finished everything to set the twist.

When they dried I was left with 4 skeins of varied weight of lofty & beautiful yarns.  They’re definitely not perfect.  The smallest skein got a bit over twisted during plying, although most of it settled when it soaked.  The last skein from my more recent bobbins is a bit lighter weight than the first skein.  They are thick and thin for sure.  But it’s handspun that looks like handspun, which honestly I enjoy!

The one above is my favorite skein yet.  It’s 98 yards of mostly heavy worsted weight yarn.  It’s got some funky spots, but overall it’s pretty consistent.  Oh and it feels amazing.

The fiber for these guys is a bit of a mystery.  It was donated for practice by my Mom who got about a fleece’s worth at MDSW a number of years ago.  It’s obviously naturally colored, and it’s been beautifully processed into roving.  It’s relatively long staple and has very nice fiber alignment.  My best guess is merino, but it might be something else.  Either way, it’s created beautiful first yarns.

So now I’m just as addicted to spinning as knitting.  There’s something deeply satisfying about creating your own yarns.  Stay tuned for more because I’ve started moving onto dyed fiber.  Oooooo colors!

Christmas was a whirlwind, but I’m slowly recovering.  And I promised that I’d be able to show you my Vine Yoke Cardigan soon and here it is.

Pattern: Vine Yoke Cardigan (ravelry)

Source: Twist Collective Fall 2009

Yarn: Madelinetosh, Tosh Worsted

Needles: US 8

Started: September 16, 2009

Finished: November 26, 2009

Find it on Ravelry here.

The second this pattern was released I knew I wanted to make it.  But I could also tell from the get go that the bell effect created by the vine lace edging on the sleeves and hem just wasn’t for me.  So I decided I’d make it but with some mods to the cuff and hem.  I went ahead and ordered a boat load of Tosh Worsted and set out scheming.  At first I thought maybe I’d put ribbing on the cuffs and hem, to give the sweater more of a close fit, but then I decided that plan was likely to screw the whole thing up.  So I came up with the idea to use perpendicular garter bands as a sleeve and hem edging.

I did this by simply leaving off the vine lace edging when I worked the sweater and picking up around the edges at the end.  The pattern is worked back and forth from the neckline to the bottom of the sweater, creating the vertical garter stitch.  The vine lace edging is worked at the end of the rightside rows.  For sizes 30-42 the edging is worked over 10 stitches.  So the stitches had to be accounted for in the length of each row.  When I cast on, I cast on 10 fewer stitches than I was instructed to and continued to work 10 fewer stitches throughout the sweater, including when casting on later for the sleeves. I worked in garter stitch right up to the bottom edge, since I had eliminated the edging.  Then after knitting the whole sweater but before seaming i picked up stitches around the bottom of each sleeve and the bottom of the body, one stitch for each garter ridge.  I worked in garter stitch until each band measure about 1 1/2″ and then bound off.  It was actually quite simple and gives the sweater a sleeker look that I think suits me better than the original.

I’m incredibly pleased with the result, thanks in no small part to the yarn.  This was my first time working with Tosh Worsted and I often felt like I might never need to knit with any other yarn again.  Of course I’m far too fickle to ever truly devote myself to one yarn, but it is seriously beautiful stuff.  The colors are of course to die for.  This one is copper penny, which I bought as the perfect Fall color and am now wearing as a way to spice up the slightly dreary winter world.  And the yarn feels great in your hands.  and creates an incredibly soft, sleek and smooth garment.  My only complaint is that during blocking, despite being incredibly well supported it grew like crazy after being pulled from the water.  I had to push the sweater back in on itself while on my blocking mats to keep it from turning out 8 sizes too large.  In the end it dried in it’s original size, having gotten only a little longer.  Which I actually think was a blessing in disguise.

After blocking, I waited for some time for buttons to arrive from Beijing.  They were slow, so it sat round for a few weeks.  But I wore it for the first time to Thanksgiving dinner and I’ve been wearing it loads since.  It gets loads of compliments, which certainly makes a girl feel good.  So my first truly successful sweater is truly a success.  Yay!

Just a short post today while I’m snowed in (should be sledding soon!).  The other day I made Sparkling Ginger Chocolate Cookies from this recipe.  Boy are they good.

If you are a ginger person, this recipe is for you.  I’ve never been one for super chocolatey cookies, but the blend of flavors here is really awesome.  It’s a pretty simple recipe relying mostly on quality of ingredients and the interest of the flavor combination.  Next time I might use just a little less chocolate.  In some of the cookies which ended up with bulkier chocolate bits, the ginger flavor gets overwhelmed to the point where you mostly taste chocolate.  But other than that it’s totally perfect.  So if you’re looking for a non traditional Christmas cookie to make, I vote for these!

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