I went weak in the knees last week when I saw Fluffbuff’s latest finished item, Wisp, and had to give in and, oh, so uncreatively copy her. I’m like that though: in most cases when I see something I like 100%, I just have to make it, right down to the color used. I guess I lack creativity, oh well. So that day I ordered the same yarn, Habu Kasuri Silk Mohair, in what appears to be the same color (sorry Francesca, we’ll be twins), and it arrived 3 days later and I cast on that night.

Part of it is that I love mohair, especially if it’s really good quality, and mohair scarves (see my previous entry) and the lightweight warmth they provide. Habu Kasuri Silk Mohair does not disappoint as it is superbly soft, fine and lightweight; it’s so fine it could perhaps be classed as gossamer. In fact, I like the yarn so much I may use it to make another of my all time favorite scarf later this year, Simply Sensational (see also previous entry).

While in the beginning stages of knitting Wisp, I have found that my usual bamboo needles just aren’t cutting it in ease of knitting with such fine yarn, so I’ve finally given in and ordered a set of Knitpicks Options Interchangeable Needles in Harmony Wood, which are reputed to have fine points comparable to Addi Lace. Amimonogatari seems to like them, as do others, so I thought they’d be worth a try and I am anticipating their arrival.

The other day I awakened to find this spectacular surprise outside.

Every twig and swordfern leaflet was coated in snow. It was just a beautiful day, and there was enough snow to put my son on the toboggan from Norway that a neighbor gave us at Christmas. My neighbor got four toboggans in a trade with someone on Craig’s List. My son wasn’t too sure about it, but we had fun scooting down the drive on it together. It was his first legitimate sled ride, as opposed to the improvised sled of last year that consisted of a tote bin for toys with wheels on it.

Afterwards, we went inside and warmed-up by munching on my latest food addiction, Brainy Brownies, from The Sneaky Chef cookbook. They have wheat germ, whole wheat and pureed spinach and blueberries in them and you wouldn’t know it, they taste just like an ordinary brownie. They’re simply delicious.

Wash day

We’ve had lots of sun lately and if you don’t mind my saying, I live for the sun. In fact, when December 21st arrives, I practically hold my breath all day, enduring the shortest day of the year in anticipation of the lengthening of the days come the 22nd. When it’s sunny, I find myself doing all sorts of cleaning, and it seemed time to wash “the girls”, the three mohair lace scarves I knit some years ago.

Washing light & lacy scarves is such a breeze, because you can roll the damp scarf in a towel, stomp on the roll, unroll it and the scarf is only slightly damp and ready to wear.

This one is Simply Sensational Scarf by Eugen Beugler made using Knit One Crochet Too’s Douceur et Soie and it’s my all-time favorite scarf; I made it about 10 or 12 years ago. It’s very soft, elegant, provides decent warmth under a coat without adding bulk and takes-up no space in my purse, so it’s often my scarf of choice to wear when I travel.

This is the same pattern, but for this one I used Rowan’s Kidsilk Haze. I like Douceur et Soie somewhat better than Kidsilk Haze: I find the Kidsilk a little bit scratchy and almost too fuzzy to see the pattern very well, but Kidsilk has really nice deep colors to choose from, whereas Douceur colors are very pale.

This is one I knit in 2005 from some multi-colored yarn I bought in Japan that I wish I had more of. You can’t quite tell, but there is a narrow band of beige-mauve in among the purple-pink-coral bands. I used a stitch pattern from a Japanese book of 300 stitch patterns called Knitting Patterns 300 ISBN 4-529-02071-1.

Life returns to normal.

While recovering from the flu, I actually did manage to do some work on Cabled Coat, albeit for short bits when I wasn’t lying in bed staring at the ceiling. And then I frogged it when I realized that what I’d done was wrong again! Boy, if I have to knit each piece at least twice, I might as well give up. Partly it’s me, and partly the instructions are a bit…um…challenging. I must be in some sort of knitting purgatory, because I keep getting into projects that seem easy enough, and then turn out to be anything but. But it’s a beautiful sweater—if I ever get it done, maybe I’ll wear it.

Here’s part of the godet of the coat. Of course, this is the second try:

Here’s the back of coat. This is also the second try:

At this point, it looks like the beginning of really swinging ski pants they used to wear in the 1970s. Well, doesn’t it?

Last night I made risotto with prosciutto and peas; something mild but filling for tender stomachs after the flu. Mmm, nice and creamy!

Oh, and about the Italy trip? It’s on, baby! You see, my sister won a trip for all of us! Location and date have yet to be determined. Stay tuned! Ciao!

99.9 Fahrenheit degrees and counting.

I’ve been laying low all week because my husband came down with the flu a week ago, and then I came down with it on Monday. We didn’t get our flu shots. My temp has been slowly falling from it’s peak of 103 F (39.4 C) of a few days ago.

Things have been pretty dark around our home all week; I haven’t been out of the house since Monday, and it wasn’t until yesterday I ventured to raise the blinds to let the light in. My husband went back to work Thursday. Our poor son, while fortunately spared due to his flu shot, had begun to reach his tolerance of not being entertained and doted on by us, when my mother (also had her flu shot) braved it and came out yesterday and today and took him for walks, read, sang and talked to him. Let’s just pray that the flu shots hold for this strain for them both.

Lying in bed, I was vaguely aware of torrents of rain, and the wind in the evergreen boughs above our house. It was rather pleasant. Awake for short bits, I’d check in on everyone else’s blogs. Thanks for the entertainment, my blogging friends!

That’s all I’m good for, for now. I’m going to sleep now, to the sounds of two owls hooting overhead. Star-crossed avian lovers, no doubt.

Un-Cabled Coat

I was making really good progress on Cabled Coat, and had completed about 1/4 1/8 of it when I measured it and found that it was too big. In checking the gauge on the piece that I’d completed, I found the same maddening thing happened that has be happening for many years when I knit a garment: I start-out fine and then my gauge loosens as I progress. Frustrating! So I frogged it back down to where the gauge is right, about 60 rows, and will try it on smaller needles and see how that goes. Now I remember that it’s not just because I don’t have a lot of knitting time that I don’t knit sweaters much anymore. I’ve been here before: Stitch Gauge Hell.

Stitch gauge hell is when I dutifully make a stitch gauge and then move on to the garment and everything is just fine until I get really comfortable and start knitting really quickly and the gauge changes. Then, I stop everything, set the sweater aside, pick up an unused skein of yarn for the project and a different sized pair of needles, make a new gauge, and the gauge is….wrong! Frog it. So I get the next numbered sized of needles, make a new gauge, and the gauge is really wrong. Frog it. So now I pick another set of needles in a size in the other direction, and the gauge is really wrong. Frog it again. Then, I pick up the needles I originally used on the sweater, and the gauge is correct. I go back to where I left off on the sweater, and everything is fine for a bit, and then the gauge goes off again! At this point I am not going to make any new gauges, I’m just going to try to knit with smaller needles with the same tension in my hands as when I knit with the larger needles, and check the gauge as I go along.

The Japanese confectionery (wagashi) class my mother gave me for Christmas was a lot of fun Saturday. Going to the class on such short notice was made possible only because my mother worked with my husband to make sure that I had nothing else scheduled that day, secretly signing me up for it weeks in advance, and then giving me the class on Christmas. I took some cell phone pictures to share.

We made two sweets; the first one was nerikiri, which had sweet lima bean paste on the outside and sweet red bean paste inside.

Then we made hanabiramochi, with white mochi (sweet rice dough or paste) on the outside, and inside was pink mochi, sweet lima bean paste with miso (misoan) and strips of candied gobo (burdock root). The matcha accompanied it very nicely.

With leftover misoan and gobo from the class, I went to Uwajimaya and bought the remaining ingredients to make some rather rough-looking hanabiramochi the next day. I seriously doubt that I’d make wagashi on a regular basis, but I’ll definitely take more classes.

Happy New Year!