sweetfigs   s w e e t   f i g s


                in pursuit of a fruitful life


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Libby's best friend

My little dog turned eight this summer, and for most of her life, she's enjoyed a midday walk with Alycia.

We get it all in Chicago -- rain, sleet, snow, blazing heat, and wilting humidity -- and yet none of it has made a difference in Alycia's commitment to showing up day after day to walk around the neighborhood with her little buddy.

On the occasional weekday when one of us is home and we cancel the walk, I feel a little guilty, because Libby still looks out the window for her best friend.

When I woke up this morning it was -4F/-20C, but I know Alycia will still be coming over. As a wee showing of our appreciation for her dedication, we gave her this warm wool and silk hat. I confess I wanted to keep it for myself, but I'll be sitting on my arse today in a warm office while Alycia is making her rounds. Brrrr.

Pattern: Fake Isle on Magknits

Materials: Approx. 60 yards/50 meters of Noro Silk Garden in colorway #205, equal amount of Lamb's Pride in M-05 Onyx black, and a few feet of Lamb's Pride in fuschia (no ball band) for the contrasting cast on.

Modifications: used US#5 for ribbing, US#6 for body, and broke Noro as needed to control the colors.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Trudging On

We had a brief reprieve, but the Arctic air is back with a vengeance, and seems to be here to stay for a while. I'm still commuting on my bicycle, but I'm keeping the errands to a minimum and hurrying back to the bike rack before the handlebars and saddle cool off too much. No kidding -- I just compared the forecast for Fairbanks, Alaska and Chicago, and they were almost the same!

Of course it has to be this freakishly cold when my BIL from Texas gets stuck at O'Hare for 24 hours. His oldest has Northwestern University on her short list, so after a hearty breakfast on Friday morning, we headed up to Evanston (in the car!) so that he could take a look around. I'm really glad we did, because he liked the campus more than he expected. When my niece and her momma did the campus tour last Fall, he was on a business trip in South America. I told him Chicago was usually 30 degrees warmer in January, but it's probably tough for him to picture it that way.

Meanwhile, David has been making his own treks back and forth between Chicago and Texas, to take care of his brother Johnny. Johnny wants to be home as much as possible while he's battling cancer and the side effects of treatment, so David is doing all he can to make that possible. Johnny's struggle puts things in perspective for me. The toughest thing I have to do these days is ride my bike in the snow to yoga class...

Lots of cold and time home alone with Libby means I've been knitting. With wool. :) My first FO of 2008 is a hat for my mom. It's super soft and warm, and will coordinate with her dark green coat. Click to make bigger or see other shots on flickr.


Pattern: "Three Tams" on Knitty.

Materials: 1/2 skeins of Berroco Ultra Alpaca in Couscous and Noro Silk Garden in #246.

Modifications: I combined Tam A's first 10 rows with the body of Tam C. Omitted 6 stitches from the ribbing, and broke the Noro to control the color changes. It fits well and didn't give me hat head.

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Ha! A New P.R.!

Yesterday morning I decided to layer up for the trudge over the train station, beginning with the zipoff pants (so not sexy) I can wear over my regular clothes, and the next the thing you know I was dressed to ride my bike to work. So I rode.

I told myself that if it was too miserable getting to work I didn't have to ride home. According to the bank clock on the corner, it was 3 F /-16 C, so I rode fast and kept my hands in my windproof pogies the whole time, except for once when I signaled a left turn and once when I waved to the other crazy person I saw riding a bicycle. I think people are still off work this week because the traffic was really light and I made good time to the Loop. And it worked! My hands stayed warm and I never got that horrid pins and needles, stabbing, burning, ouch, ouch ouch, kill me now feeling when I got inside.

So I've got a new Personal Record of winter riding. Baaaaaahahahahaha!

Riding home at 17 F/ -8 C wasn't much of a challenge. :-)


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Your Mileage May Vary

So much for burning off some of the holiday calories this morning. It's a bitter 3 F/-16 C out there, which means I'll be commuting on the CTA instead of my trusty bicycle.

I have a great setup for inclement weather -- upright steel frame, full fenders, knobby tires, windproof pogies for my hands, and super bright lights -- but 20 F/-7 C is my limit. When it dips below that, I just can't keep my hands warm. The ride itself is not so bad, because my hands go numb, but warming up upon arrival is too painful. The high today is supposed to be a whopping 12 F/-11 C, so the bike is staying at home.

Wish I could stay home too, with Libby and the Regia Silk that is becoming a pair of socks, but I'm going to work and then my first yoga class of the new year. I'm test knitting a pattern so I can't show you a WIP pic, but I do love this yarn.
P1030976It's a souvenir from last autumn's vacation in Bavaria and Austria. We ended our trip in central Munich, just in time for Oktoberfest and a quick detour to the yarn boutique at the Ludwig Beck department store. I may have to find some more of it, in a color that's more fun than sensible grey.


Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

Hi all and happy new year from the Windy City!

Wow, 2007 was hectic! I've got my fingers crossed that the new year will be a bit more predictable.

We got up early this morning when it was still quiet and shoveled up 2 inches/5 cm of fresh snow. OK, actually David did all the shoveling, while I wrestled with Libby and snapped a few pictures. (Click to embiggen.)
Libby and David on New Year's Day 2008

In the afternoon we went to some friends' for their annual January 1st Open House. I ate way too much, but it was all so good, especially the spicy chocolate fondue served with fresh pineapple, banana, and pound cake. I'm putting the recipe on my list for our own party next year -- it included semisweet and bittersweet chocolates, as well as Chinese Five Spice mix and Chili powder.

We were supposed to bring a batch of mango salsa, but while I was giving the ingredients a final stir, the glass mixing bowl burst into about 100 pieces. Gaaak! Since all the stores were closed for the holiday, we had to scrounge around the house for an alternate dish. Brigaderios to the rescue! (My version calls for 5 tablespoons of Hot Cocoa mix from The Spice House, 1 Tablespoon of white sugar, 1 Tablespoon of butter, and 1 can of Eagle Sweetened Condensed Milk). Delicious, but not exactly health food. Oh well, the holidays are officially over and tomorrow we start eating better!