My finished Cricket, photographed at twilight on the back porch. It's too big for Mimi right now (I think it's a size 2T), but oh how I love love love love this sweater. Isn't it classic? I think it looks very Narnia. It was sort of the perfect knitting experience: Not complicated, but interesting enough to stay interesting. But not so interesting that I ever got stressed out. Enough stockinette that I could chill (while watching Real Housewives of New Jersey [don't tell Andy; he cannot stand it when I watch RH]) and not so much 1x1 ribbing that I went cray-cray switching between knit and purl. I used Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off for the bottom, but I wish I hadn't (though this is an awesome bind-off, it probably is not necessary here, I don't think, and it's a LOT of visible bind-off, AND I did it in knit, not in pattern, which was dumb). I bound off normally (but loosely) on the neck edge and the button bands and I think it's much prettier. I also added a grosgrain ribbon to the inside of the button band (this is in the directions) and I'd never done that before. I think it came out really cool except that my ribbon should have been a little wider. But I was impatient and they didn't have a wider ribbon in that color, and I wanted that color.
Enough about me. But oh wait, if I can say one more thing about blocking your knitting: If you've never done it before, you should really try it. That first photo, without the buttons? That's the same sweater, finished but unblocked. The three photos further down were all taken after blocking. That's the only difference, but isn't the difference amazing? Maybe you have to be a knitter to think so. But blocking will make your sweater (and, I daresay, you) very happy. I block everything, even bunny sweaters. I wouldn't miss a chance. (I'm easily entertaintained. See above.) And as far as hand-washing and re-blocking sweaters (because yes, you do have to block again after you wash, and I only hand-wash handknits), it really doesn't bother me at all. I figure if I can find that much time to put into knitting a sweater, sparing a few minutes to take care of it is kind of a drop in the bucket, and also well worth it. I actually love the process of blocking and I look forward to it a lot during the process of knitting. I think that one of the truly fun things about knitting is just that sense of discovery — what's this thing really gonna be? (That's why knitting the second sleeve and the second sock is such a pain — you already know what it's gonna be.) But blocking, in addition to finishing your piece off really nicely, just ultimately finalizes things, and that seems to provide [to me, at least] that one last element of transformation and surprise (albeit, it's not like a surprise twenty-first birthday party; it's more like a "Surprise! There's a dollar in my pocket I didn't even know I had! Snap!" sort of mild, pleasant surprise) that I think is one of the best parts of making anything.
Chicken and rice pilaf? From Nigella, who I'm in love with again. I wish someone would write a new biography of her. The pilaf was a bit dry, but good. And pancakes, thin and topped only with a bit of sugar the way I like them, for dinner last night, with the leftover strawberries and a banana blended into a Greek yogurt (leftover from Nigella's chicken marinade) smoothie for breakfast. Double snap!
My College Roommate Ann's Swedish Pancakes
1 c. flour
1 T. sugar
1 t. salt
1 c. milk
a little bloop of vegetable oil
Whisk eggs, flour, sugar, and salt together into a smooth paste. Slowly whisk in milk until just combined, then add a bit of oil (just to keep them from sticking) and stir again. Ladle or pour the batter onto the griddle over medium heat, and tip pan to swirl batter into a thin circle. Flip when edges look dry.