Friday, February 18, 2011

First, the Sshh. Because this arrived yesterday with a bag of fabulous yarn and I'm about to spend the rest of the morning playing with it. And I couldn't be more excited!!

The monkey party invitation is covering up any info on WHAT kind of project this is going to be, but it's my first actual signed contract with anybody, so I'm all kinds of happy about it, and I had to at least share it a little. Besides, it helps me to block out the fact that I'll have to be at a Chuck E Cheese on Sunday AM at 9:30. (If my 1st grade parent buddies are reading, know that I do love you. The fact that I'm dragging my ass out is proof of this, but it's still 9:30 and it's still Chuck E Cheese, so I can whine.)

Whining aside, there's more knitting to discuss. There's this little number for spring, which I was juuuuuuust about done with, but have finally come to the painful realization that I'm about to reknit the whole thing.

I actually love what the design evolved into, but my original intent was a more curvy, kinda fitted top, and every time I wriggle into it, I realize I'm just not a fan of anything so fitted. The feeling had been growing, and when I put it on with the whole hip-waist-bust thing done, I realized it just isn't something I dig. Way too Jessica Rabbit.

SO... take two.

Same sweater, 3" of ease. We'll see how it looks when it's a bit looser, right? I'm feeling very proud of myself for deciding to Do It Right. There's plenty of time with this guy, since it's so summery, so this is all fine and Ill be much happier with it in the end. It can wait.

And wait it must, because Super Secret has a deadline and I'm about to begin.....


Sarah has outdone herself with the most amazing shade of light bluish gray. This is going to be moody beachy - remember? A cloudy, hazy beach day gray.

Later today, I get to skein these babies and get them ready for their journey TO MEXICO on Monday. My goal is to have it fully knit by the time I return next week, so I can finish up the writing and get moving on the rest. Rows of teeny buttons might be involved and I'll need time to pick them out and play with options - beccause I do love my buttons and that's fun.

So yes, don't look for me on the internets next week. I won't be here.

But I'll be back the week after, with pics and progress and maybe a new Margarita recipe?

Monday, February 14, 2011

I am so damn happy with myself today.

As the amount of knitting around my house has increased, the amount of exercise has waned. Projects are addictive, even without the deadlines and and the design gig, but the designing means there's a little backlog even when I'm chugging along. And that makes it even harder to put down the current project and hmm...I don't know... assume the plank position or do a batch of situps(??) when I know I can now justify knitting the entire morning away.

Kicking the laundry and cleaning to the curb is one thing (kinda nice), but losing the exercise has been another, as the consequences are a little more personal. Let's admit it, the knitting is a bit sedentary, and really, things aren't what they used to be once winter cuts into the amount of incidental exercise happening around the sitting - the walking and gardening and other outdoor actuvity. It's all over as soon as the fire's on and the sofa calls, you know?

But now? Problem solved. My neighbor gave me this yesterday and because on this little baby, I can knit AND do completely brainless exercise at the same time. A notebook and pencils go on the table, and yarn goes in the cup holder.

It's genius, I tell you.

And it's not a moment too soon, because I need to put on a bathing suit NEXT WEEK.

Friday, February 11, 2011

This one's a little accessory present for all of you!

Sweet Vermouth, available for free on Ravelry or the sidebar here (scroll down). It's quick and cozy and if you cast on today, you may even be done by Sunday.

This slipped stitch and lace motif had me hooked a few weeks back.

You may remember that I was playing with it out of my leftover Cascade 128. But as soon as I came up with the scarf pattern, I knew the old leftover yarn wasn't going to cut it. The pattern really wanted to be made out of something special, and this Blue Sky Hand Dyed Worsted IS. It was absolutely perfect for it. This color is Midnight ;-)

The dye is ever so subtly vareigated, and the alpaca gives it a gorgeous heavy drape, and the yarn is the perfect worsted-aran weight, so it's not too bulky but it makes a nice substantial scarf around your neck. Which is especially nice when all your hair is gone and it's the middle of winter. Ahem.

SO, before I move on, I want to say thanks to all of you for the crazy and overwhelming response to Mulled Cider and Irish Coffee! I can't believe that so many knitters are liking my designs and chatting in my BabyCocktails group (as of this week, there were over 600 members!!) and making my patterns. It's very humbling and also totally exciting for me!

BTW: I do appreciate all the wonderful comments here, but Blogger doesn't let me link back to many of your email addressess, so if I don't reply, know that I'm still so happy to hear from you, and I didn't write back because your link wasn't there!)

So, anyways, I'll try to keep you in the style you're becoming accustomed to - Here's the recipe for my favorite cocktail with Sweet Vermouth: (I was NOT going to try for anything dark blue)

A Manhattan

3/4 oz sweet vermouth
2.5 oz burbon
1 dash of orange bitters
1 maraschino cherry
bit of orange peel

You take the sweet vermouth, burbon and bitters and combine them with 2-3 ice cubes in a glass. Stir very gently. Place a cherry in a different, cooled cocktail glass and pour the ice and booze over the cherry. Rub the orange peel around the rim and pop it in the drink. It's a good sipping treat for a cold night.


Also in the spirit of keeping things up, here's my next Blue Sky project on the needles.
This time, it's Skinny Dyed Cotton, and it's something for SPRING.

Because it's coming eventually, right??

Sunday, February 06, 2011

When we lived in San Francisco, there was a place called the Buena Vista Cafe, down in the tourist mecca that is Ghiradelli Square. Usually, we'd avoid the whole area, but that cafe made some amazing Irish Coffees. And after a hike in the fog, that drink was just kind of perfect. A warm and cozy pick me up that was both bitter and sweet, with a little kick.

So, when deciding what to call a cozy tweed tunic in the midst of February, the image of a spot at that bar, with a glass in hand, on a foggy day, finally made Irish Coffee the winning name. If you want their exact recipe, it's right here. Step by step. I get wistful just thinking about it!!

Anyways, Irish Coffee, the sweater, is also a pretty perfect mix too, if I do say so myself.
Simple, but different, fun to knit (all the concentrating is up top, and then it's smooth sailing to the bottom!), and easy to wear. The SHELTER yarn is unbelievable - it's a perfect midweight for wearing, a light lofty tweed for knitting, and the colors and texture are spot on for making the texture of the garment really stand out.

I tried to create a sweater where the focus would remain on the yarn, but I wanted to have a little fun with the details. This long line of cables brings the eye into the waist and enhances the slim line of the tunic. Up top, the short sleeves and seamed ribbing at the yoke balance out the length and give the neckline a distinct focus.

Top down construction means that modifications are easy.
The length, width and sleeves can be altered for whatever shape you prefer without changing the basic pattern instructions. You can go straighter or enhance the A line, and the length can be whatever works on your body. Notes are in the pattern at places to think about mods, as well as options for working the yoke in order to flatter different bust sizes.

I think it's a great, basic piece in a very versatile yarn that can be dressed up or down and worn with a variety of different kinds of outfits. I know I've been wearing mine around tons. A few of the testers have already posted their pics, and it's fun to see the mods and outfits they've chosen for their sweaters.

Here's Thao's. You can see she added a little flare at the bottom, which suits her perfectly.

The pattern is available on Ravelry or on the sidebar above for $6.50.

Basic Info:

Sizes: 32-50 (based on bust size)
Yarn: SHELTER 800(800,900,900,1000,1000,1100,1200,1300) yds
Needle: #8 (or size to get gauge)
Gauge: 4 st, 6 rows in 1" stockinette, lightly blocked

More information and testers photos are here on the Ravelry page.


Lastly, in the spirit of mods, here's another take on Irish Coffee
for those of you who like your drinks a little sweeter.

Baileys n Coffee (still Irish, but without the whiskey!)

2/3 cup of hot black coffee
2 oz Baileys
shot of milk
1 tsp sugar (optional)
whipped cream


PS: The great pics of the sweater that even make my dining room look good, (and make me wish I still had my long hair) are by Caro of Splityarn , who rocks :-)

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Sorry to drop off the end of the earth here, but life has been crazypants busy (stealing a phrase from a good friend there), and the knitting has been going on only in the background, once I sit still again. The snow has definitely outstayed its welcome and managed to cause more than bit of inconvenience around here. It's everywhere, and even the kids are over it.

Between storms, I had my 43rd birthday. It began with an hour of shoveling, only to realize I was late to meet Caro for a photoshoot for the Vermouth scarf, which will post next week. (See the pic above!) I finally realized we were, in fact, NOT, going to be shooting at my house and that I was late. I hopped in the car without shoveling off the ginormous Snow Hat on top. Bad Move.

Said Snow Hat slid off at a stoplight and I hit the van in front of me. Dammit, dammit, dammit. People, this is important advice: ALWAYS take the snow hat off your car top!! I heard the noise, looked up, saw it shift, hit the van while looking up, and then, the whole hat was down over the windshield!! I was then, yep, even later to Caro's, since I had to swap insurance information and apologize profusely.

The actual shoot was lovely, as was a little time spent with Amy and Caro. After that, I spent a few fruitless hours searching Greater Massachusetts for snowmelt. Epic fail, and big waste of birthday hours.

Then home for a few hours shoveling snow off the roof of the house (more wasted birthday hours that should have been full of pampering), pickup at school, followed by homework, a slice of pizza, and a school choral concert where Maya had a lovely solo. They put the middle school and high school kids together for this show, which is fun for the kids, and a little more interesting for the grownups too, as we see what our little pre teens will look like in a few years.

Maya was absolutely mortified post-concert when I waited for her in the crowded lobby and we were leaving. While weaving (get it?) our way out through the throng of people, coats, boots and general ick on the floor.... she realized that my skein of WHITE yarn had fallen out of my bag and was trailing somewhere in the crowd. Dammit. Dammit, again. It's a new design, people, and I was NOT going to leave it there, so yep, I had to salmon my way back through the packed lobby, unwinding the string from everyone's legs as I went. It was like one of those laser light traps you see in movie bank vaults, all between knees and shins and ankles.

"Scuse me, sorry..... Um, that's my yarn around your foot... Oh hi, my knitting is around your ankle.... Yes, down there, pardon me. Yes, my yarn? It's around your ankle? Thanks.. " and so on and so on while I trailed my way, bent over and gathering yarn back thru the crowd. In public. At the High School. In front of the 6th and 7th and 8th graders. (OMG!!)

The last bit was around the foot of some popular girl in Maya's grade who she barely knows. Of course it was. She tried to melt into the wall behind me, but since she had the other end of the sweater in her hand, it was useless. I'm afraid I've scarred her for life and she'll never let me bring a project to school again. But you guys understand, right??

Anyways, she's about to forgive me. We're going to the Mall for new Uggs, since we had a report card deal and she held up her end. I'm done shoveling for the day - about to shower and get my credit card. There's maybe a beer in it for me at Legal Seafood if I'm good.

Tune back in next week - the scarf pattern will be free, and my SHELTER tunic, now named Irish Coffee, is also going to post in a few days!

For drinks? It's been beer this week. Less time spent on the prep. Nice and cold after shoveling.