Fear not faithful readers (if indeed there are any of you left)!  Finals are over!  I’m back in DC for a month!  And I have plenty of free time!  Which means my little blog will get a decent helping of the attention it deserves.  So stay tuned I’ve got plenty to show you.

Socktoberfest is long over, and these socks have been finished with for a month, but I’m still so pleased with the results that I can’t help but want to show them to you.  So here are this years Mystery Socks from Through the Loops.

Pattern: Mystery Sock ’09 (ravelry)

Source: Through the Loops

Yarn: Sundara Sock

Needles: US 1

Started: October 1, 2009

Finished: November 14, 2009

Find it on Ravelry here.

I know I mentioned in passing that Kirsten was doing another Socktober Mystery KAL this year.  I of course could not even live with the idea of not knitting-a-long.  Just like last year,this years KAL was a real blast.  So many people participated again this year.  There are currently 575 projects listed for the pattern on Ravelry and I think most of those were at least started during Socktoberfest.  I know I’ve said before that I just love a good KAL.  And my thoughts on the matter have always been the more the merrier.  This might have something to do with the fact that photos are my most favorite parts of KALs, I love to see what everyone is doing, and the more folks involved the more version you get to see.  What could be better?

The pattern itself is awesome, of course.  Kirsten hit another home run with this one.  Super fun to work on and brilliant end results for just about every version I’ve seen.  I love the change in direction from leg to foot.  The way the pattern extends down the back of the heel flap is another especially nice detail.  The chevron cuff is so much more interesting than plain old ribbing and the way the toe looks like flower petals is so sweet.  Here take a peak:

This was actually my first time using Sundara Sock.  Compared to some other sock bases I’ve been working with lately it was a hair stiff for my taste. It feels perfectly soft once knit up and blocked, but it could be a bit softer running through the fingers.  Thats said the colors are so lovely.  And her yarns do seem to yield gorgeous end results every time.

So there you are!  More FOs to come & much, much more.  Like a finished Vine Yoke Cardigan as soon as I get some good pictures.  See you soon.


So I promised an FO post and here I am actually delivering!  The first actual FO post in ages (although thankfully not the only FO in ages).  This is my version of the westknits pattern Daybreak.  As soon as I saw this pattern I knew I had to make one and now here it is.

Pattern: Daybreak (ravelry)

Source: westknits

Yarn: Sunshine Yarns, Soft Sock & Plymouth Yarn, Alpaca Prima

Needles: US 3

Started: September 1, 2009

Finished: October 24, 2009

Find it on Ravelry here.

This pattern is simple, but inspired.  It seems this combo is the trademark of Stephen West.  The arching stripes are instantly appealing and the segments created by the slip stitch pattern adds extra interest.  I made the medium, and it came out too large to wear as a scarf, so it’s gotta go around the shoulders.  The upside to this is that this shows off the stripes better.

Sunshine Yarns Soft Sock has recently been discontinued.  As I know I said when I first talked about this project, I had a lot of trouble figuring out what to do with yarn.  It was started in projects and then frogged numerous time.  But it’s so lovely that I never gave up.  This shawl turned out to be just the right thing for it.  And it really is a very nice yarn.  Now that I’ve used it successfully I’d like to work with it again, but I do wonder if others had trouble like I did.  The base is a bit unusual for a sock yarn, it’s very fuzzy for merino and soft in a squooshy way.  It has a nice halo to it.  I think those qualities made the base much better suited to a project like this one than the socks and such I originally tried to use it for.  The Alpaca Prima added a nice neutral backdrop from the lovely dark green, and upped the fuzz ante considerably.  It is certainly a cozy shawl.

So there’s one more fall shawl to add to my stack.  One more asset to my goal of avoiding wearing rectangular scarves all season.  I think I’m all set in that department, but that doesn’t seem to be stopping me.  I of course, have more shawls in the works.  And I have a few more things to show you, so stay tuned.

That’s right ladies and gents, last weekend my Mom and I made the trip up to the Hudson River Valley for Rhinebeck for the first time ever.  As long time attendees of Maryland Sheep and Wool we had been talking about making the trip to Rhinebeck for years (8 years to be exact, we first discussed it when I was doing college tours and went to visit nearby Bard).  In the past the pieces never really came together, we were too busy, or we didn’t think to book far enough in advance, but last year when Rhinebeck rolled around, Mom & I made a promise that 2009 would be the year that the ladies of the clan made it to Rhinebeck!

We made a weekend of it, heading up on Friday to hang out in the area and staying until Sunday afternoon.  Friday we kept it low key, Mom had a long week at work and I had only finished midterms the day before.  We were both wiped, so we focused on relaxing on the beautiful property of our hotel near New Paltz.  Here’s just a taste of what we found there…

Truthfully the property was amazing.  On one side a mountain rose up behind the lake, while on the other it slowly descended into a valley towards New Paltz only to rise again to the next ridge in the distance.  No matter which way you looked the view was stunning.  I’m such a city girl that sometimes I forgot how wonderfully restorative it can be to surround oneself with natural beauty.  It was just what I needed.

We woke up early on Saturday to head to the festival.  As we were getting ready we could see the affects of the sunlight on the sky over the mountain above the lake.  We didn’t ever see the sun crest over the horizon because the mountain was too high, but the affects on the sky were beautiful.  I went outside on the balcony to watch for awhile.  I had to bundle because it was chilly.  I had on my coat over my PJs, as well as all the usual hand knit winter accoutrement plus I wrapped myself in the quilt.  Despite somewhat frozen fingers I managed to get a few shots to share just how lovely it was.  Like this one of the sky reflected in the lake…

After the sky turned lighter and the colors faded, I hopped back inside to shower and get dressed so we could head out.  We grabbed tea on the way out the door and we were off towards Rhinebeck.  We raced a few buses full of knitters and showed up at the gates at 8:50 and we were ushered in.  First stop was Apple Cider to ward off the chill, and then we headed towards the numbered barns.

We didn’t have a real plan of attack, neither one of us was trying to score anything highly coveted.  Since the forecast was looking ominous we decided to do things that were more outdoors first and then save more indoor areas for later in case the rain came and we had a repeat of MDSW on Sunday this year.  The shopping started fast.  We had to make a trip to the car to unload (mostly Mom’s fiber) after being there for less than 2 hours.  I have to admit I was a little slower to procure, but trust me I caught up.

Saturday was a great day.  There was much to see and buy.  The sun lasted for only a few hours, but the weather held out all day, not a raindrop in sight.  We ran into a old friends and a few new.  I met up with Lina for the first time, which was lovely.  We shopped around in the main buildings and then attempted to have some food.  We were some what thwarted by long lines, but we ate eventually.  We also ran into Andrea, which was awesome.  Always nice to know more knitters in my new town.  It’s so much fun to put real live faces to people you know through Ravelry and blogland.

We got tired relatively early in the afternoon, so with the knowledge that there was more time Sunday, we headed into town.  Downtown Rhinebeck is very cute and we found that Bread Alone had been invaded by knitters.  We decided to contribute and ordered more cider and plopped down to lay with yarn for an hour or so.  We spent the rest of the evening being very low key with dinner in our room and lots of knitting and reading.

Sunday way drizzly, but the weather still held out relatively well.  There was almost now real rain, and what there was kept the crowds down.  Plenty of room to move around on Sunday.  So we did the sheep barns we had missed the day before.  As lovers of wool it’s always nice to be reminded what beautiful and sweet creatures most sheep are.

And I always love a chance to witness the parts of the fiber process I get less exposure too in the day to day.  Somebody needs a trim…

Later we did more wandering.  I finally got to try the potpies that were virtually unattainable on Saturday.  It was delish.  I also picked out a wheel that has been ordered and will be coming my way around Christmas!  And I snagged some fiber, so I can get spinning once it is really mine.

All in all it was a wonderful weekend.  I never complain about a chance to buy yarn, but it’s always a joy to do so in a beautiful setting surrounded by other people knitters.  October is certainly a lovely time of year to be in that part of New York.  That alone is reason enough to travel, but you throw in all the fibery fun and you’ve pretty much nailed my ideal weekend.   Those of you who have been know just what I mean, and for those of you who haven’t, I really recommend it if you can make it happen.  Oh and I suppose you’ll be wanting to see the haul…

Here I am back home in my PJs in love with all the pretty things I picked up.  I’m sure you’re noticing lots of natural sheepy colors.  It’s what I like to buy at festivals and once the weather turns colder it’s what I crave.  I love beautiful hand dyed yarns as much as the next person, but when the air is crisp I just want to sit down with something super wooly.  And believe me, that’s just what I’ve been doing all week.

If it is absolutely necessary to spend the entire weekend doing work for midterms, one might as well start off Saturday morning on the right foot.  So I woke up early (this is a new, but now relatively regular thing for me) and started making breakfast.  I decided to make Pumpkin Pancakes from this recipe, because it feels more like fall everyday.

The recipe is pretty straightforward, the only trickiness I had was consistency.  I have become aware that pancake batter consistency is a very personal thing, everybody having their own preferences for just how thick or thin they like the batter to be.  My family was always in the runnier batter, smaller, silver dollar style pancakes camp, so that is the camp I remain in today.  I ended up mixing in more buttermilk after combining all the ingredients three times in order to achieve a consistency I was pleased with, and it was still a bit thicker than I usually do.

As whole wheat pancakes it’s not surprising that they would be a bit heftier than regular pancakes, so they came out dense, but in a hearty, stick-t- your ribs kind of way.  Let me just say, I’m not much of a whole wheat person.  I’ve slowly snuck it into my diet where I can stomach it because I know how much healthier it is, and I’ve grown to like it in certain contexts.  But whole wheat pancakes have never made me want to jump for joy.  However, the pumpkin in these puppies simultaneously softens and compliments the whole wheat flavor in a way that I can definitely get excited about.

I accompanied the pancakes with a pot of Yorkshire Gold in my brand new Yorkshire Tea teapot (a major thanks to Amanda, who helped me get my hands on one!).  The whole breakfast was delicious and very hearty.  It only took five small pancakes to fill me up and I wasn’t the slightest bit hungry until late lunchtime.  Oh an the best part, the recipe made enough pancakes to least me at least three more breakfasts, so I won’t even have to dip into my toaster waffle stash until midterms are practically over!

Last weekend Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed was in town and hanging out at Loop.  Some of my knitty friends came up from DC to meet him and we did plenty of hanging out (and eating and knitting) in the mean time.

On Friday night he signed copies of his new book at Loop, so we all said hi & had our books signed.  If you haven’t seen Made In Brooklyn yet, it is absolutely necessary that you check it out.  It’s a truly beautiful book, with charming patterns and fantastic photography.  But what else would you expect from Mr. Flood?

Jared was teaching workshops throughout the rest of the weekend and Petra and I were lucky enough to get the last two spaces in Intro to Shetland Colorwork.

Jared taught us all the tricks or stranded knitting.  One of the most helpful things I learned was that the dominant color should always be pulled from the left.  This keeps that strand and its floats on the bottom and keeps the stitch pattern from getting interrupted by those little spaces of background color that you sometime see (like, ahem, in my practice fair isle hat).  This of course, helps the pattern to look pronounced and keeps everything neat.  A truly helpful thing to know.

Jared was a great teacher, explaining and demonstrating everything very clearly.  He patiently answered our questions and double checked on our progress.  Towards the end of the workshop he demonstrated steeking in a way that has completely taken away the fear.  I haven’t had time to steek my swatch because of schoolwork, but I really can’t wait to try.

Needless to say we had a great time.  It was a fantastic way to spend a Saturday morning.

And the rest of the weekend was lovely.  It was so good to see everyone.  We ate fantastic meals, a nice change since I haven’t been eating out much lately.  And I got loads of knitting done.  Managed to squeeze in a bit of homework at the end there too.

And of course now I’m looking forward to the next knitting adventure.  Rhinebeck is only a week away!

So my CSA box has done just what I hoped.  It has inspired me to cook more often and more interesting things.  And it’s overflowed to things that have not one ingredient from the box as well.  Like the Snickerdoodle cookies I made for my guy before heading down to DC for the weekend.

These cookies were more of the aforementioned payback for all the help he has selflessly given me of late.  They were made from this recipe by Martha Stewart by way of Smitten Kitchen (my favorite cooking blog by far).  They are a wonderful cookie for those who don’t like things TOO sweet, because the overall flavor is more of cinnamon than of sugar.  They came out really nicely even in spite of the fact that the pilot went out in my oven in between preheating it for the first time & trying to preheat it for the second time once the dough had properly chilled.  It’s an old oven and I ended up reaching into the broiler drawer with lit match in hand (after clearing the room of gas of course) in order to be able to complete my cookies.  After all I was far too excited about the surprise to show up empty handed even if he wasn’t expecting anything.

In the end the pilot was lit, the cookies were saved and they were met with a stamp of approval from all who tasted them.  Including myself.  Since I couldn’t help myself from testing at least one from every batch.  You know, just so I’d know which batches were the best.

After showing up with cookies (and a new, but still un-photographed hat) in hand, we cooked together with some of the veggies from my box that I brought with me for just such an occasion.  I really wanted to find something to do with that Daikon radish, so I did some internet searching for a recipe that used it in a way I could get excited about and I found this recipe for Vietnamese Sticky Chicken with Daikon and Carrot Pickle.

This yumminess is served lettuce wrap style, which is absolute heaven when you just happen to have a head of the freshest lettuce you’ve ever tasted.  In general it’s a pretty straightforward recipe but it comes out tasting delicious.  The spiciness of the chicken is nicely balanced out by both the lettuce and the slightly sweet, peppery taste of the pickle.  The only change we made was in how the chicken was cooked.  The recipe recommended grilling the chicken in a grill pan, but we were cooking in Steve’s kitchen, which is grill pan-less, so instead we cooked it in a wok.  We first put in the chicken with all the marinade and cooked it like that for a few minutes.  Then we drained the liquid out and put it to the side allowing the chicken to brown while being cooked stir-fry style in the wok.  Once the chicken was nicely browned, we slowly added the marinade & juices back in little bit at a time, allowing all the liquid to cook off before adding more.  This turned out to be the happiest of accidents since doing it this way left the chicken coated in marinade and incredibly flavorful.

In the end, for this I used the Daikon radish, the lettuce and some of the garlic from my CSA box.  Not a bad start.  There’s been a bit more cooking going on and there’s sure to be more to come, with exciting success stories such as these, so I’ll show you more of what I’ve been making and eating soon enough.

And last I just want to mention that Kirsten of Through the Loops is doing another Socktoberfest Mystery KAL this year.  You might remember just how much fun we had last year.  So hop on over to the TTL group on Ravelry to check it out.

So as I mentioned before, things have been getting a bit cooler here.  Not everyday, but many days or sometimes evenings have a a crispness to them that suggests a move towards Fall.  Last week, in the midst of all my cozy knitting time I had this moment where I wanted to start a quick knit sweater and I wanted to start one fast.  I know I’ve got my Sixteen Button Cardigan going, but it doesn’t exactly fly by.  And besides I wanted something that was all about Autumn.  So I hopped on Rav and spotted the Vine Yoke Cardigan from the Fall 09 Twist Collective.  Then I went searching for yarn.

I found this: Madelinetosh Worsted in Copper Penny, which just might be the most perfect Fall color ever.  I’m not usually attracted to yarn in these kinds of colors. I love neutrals, and neutral yarn, but more often than not I choose cool neutrals because in general I am a cool color person.  But in the Fall a place inside me opens up for all those rich warm colors I tend to pass over the rest of the year.  As soon as the yarn showed up on Wednesday I went ahead and cast on in between classes.  It took a lot of will power to get out from under the blanket & off my couch to make it to my last class.

Here’s my progress so far.  It’s going quite quickly, which is unsurprising considering the gauge and the fact that it’s mostly garter stitch.  And quick was exactly what I wanted.  I figured if I had the urge to make an Autumn sweater then it better be done soon!  I also have hopes of wearing this to Rhinebeck.  And unless I lose steam completely, at the current rate that should be a very generous deadline.  I’ve made a few changes.  I was not a huge fan of the way the lace edging at the sleeves and hem made the sweater bell in those places.  So I have decided to leave off that edging and replace it with ribbing.  After all, what attracted me to the sweater was the yoke, all that garter stitch and the general shape of the body.  So I have left off the edging stitches on both the body and the sleeve and I will go back and pick up around for ribbing at the end.  That change will make the sweater much more my speed.  I’m really enjoying working on this in the meantime.  The yarn is beautiful and the construction is very smart.  With any luck I’ll have it all together to show you sometime soon.