>after about a half-hour at today’s stitch & bitch, i finally worked up to the last arm-warming ribbing at the end of the bianca shawl. only half an arm’s length left to go! right now it’s this humongous longish rectangle (table-runner, anyone?), but all that the finishing entails is sewing up the arm-warmers, c’est tout. okay, so where’s the snow? i really want to bust out the woolen layers now!

although i still need to complete the charlotte sweater (it’s been waiting patiently for me on my desk for a few days now), i did some swatching for this great pattern i found in a gedifra booklet for wintery goodness. i picked this sweater in particular because i would like to get more adept at fancier decorative stuff, like lace or interesting stitch manuevers, but they tend to be too lacy. my taste is usually more minimalistic and anti-frou-frou, but i liked the clean lines and geometry of this feminine sweater:

so pretty! but not too girly. girliness gives me a headache…

so the pattern calls for gedifra living (100% wool), on size 10 needles or thereabouts. however, i am substituting the living with schachenmayr merino stretch, a wool blend with some bouncybouncy. i tried doing it with size 10.5 at first, but the gauge was wayyy too tight. i was also wondering how i should go about knitting with stretchy yarn… i’m a tight knitter by nature, so do i knit as usual, or should i take into account the bend and stretch of the yarn as i pull each stitch through? i drastically switched to size 13 needles (whoa) and got a much more accurate gauge. ever the more ambitious, i rehearsed the lace pattern through all 24 rows. the fact that an actual open-weaved design emerged from a bunch of k2tog and ssk amazed beyond belief. another scare though… how would i ever figure it out if i made a mistake or did the wrong stitch where? does frogging become completely incoherent? ah, the questions that keep you up all night.

anyway, here’s the evidence:

[� la goldilocks]
this one was too small…
this one was too big…
but this one was just right!

i love the color, and i think the stitches are pretty well-defined given the dark color and the soft yarn. i promise i won’t start this one until charlotte is complete!

[and an oops as i begun another ‘side’ project, some basic socks from weekend knitting with highland wool from elann. however, it’s sort of a satellite project that will stay put at niknak’s place and will amuse me if i ever find a spare moment there :) ]

speaking of yummy, s.l. and i passed up wang’s tonight to try this new chinese place in allston, shanghai gate. as soon as i saw the facade signage, i knew i would love the place (the font was this super-thin modern sans serif, simple black on white). the place was filled with a lot of people (of which a majority was chinese: good sign for authenticity) and a ton of tempting plates on every table. gets the liu approval for interior… sparse decor, light green walls, simple black painted mural on the back, exposed brick and air ducts, pristine square white plates. it was modern and neat without being pretentious in the least. the waitresses were unbelievably friendly, although two dishes we ordered (our favs! scallion pancake and stinky dofu) were not available as advertised. the place could have used some sound-absorbing interior pieces, only that the bare walls made the whole place a bit noisy, so you have to speak louder as you eat spectacular morsels of food. i have to say i must go back for the paradise mountain chicken–studded with black beans and smoked dried chilis–which was medium on the szechuan spicy scale but totally tasty. the salt + pepper mushrooms were cute little pingpong balls of deep fried savouriness… the breading reminded me of the type used for fried banana, but hey, give me salt and fat anytime. in lieu (liu!) of the stinky dofu (still sad), we got this thing called crispy tofu. they almost reminded me of a weird mutation of french fries… long rectagular logs of tofu that are steamed and silky inside, and crispy on the outside. an orangish-pink dressing (french? kinda bizarre) and a sour/hot/sweet red sauce did the accoutrement thing. the last entree was the lotus beef, boiled and steamed meat with lots of spices (more flavor than spice) within a lotus leaf. pretty good, although the chicken definitely won the gold starz of the night.

as i say again and again, allston and brookline is the land of yummy. somerville comes in a close second. mmm mmmmm…. *dreams of stinky dofu*…

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