Thursday, October 27, 2011

  Introducing Mint and Basil! 

I couldn't stop with just one hat, so I decided to make this a double pattern.   I'm hoping that with the holidays a few months away, you may have use for the extra one as a gift.  And if you want them both for yourself, you can do that too, since each pattern is somewhat different from the other and it won't look at all like you knit two of the same hats.

(The yarn is the Plucky Knitter's newest - Plucky Rustic, which I'll chat about down below.  This color is Oz.)

First up, there's Mint.

Mint is a classic cap with a 70s vibe.  It's meant to be close fitting, worn low on the forehead and snug over the ears.  A textured twisted stitch with staggered lace detail provides a departure from a basic ribbed cap, but still makes for an easy knit and a versatile design.   The brim echoes the ribs and provides a spot for a cool accent button or two.  

I love how the subtle variegation in the yarn spirals around the band,  giving it a little extra oomph around the face.  The handdyed yarn really adds some great depth to the texture, and the bright color gives it a really modern feel. 

A little rear view.


The second pattern is called Basil.  
Basil is a modified slouch, not exactly a beret, but with a bit of extra room for a little drape and an updated shape.   Instructions are in the pattern to modify this for as much or as little slouch as you'd like. 

Basil is a little artsy and romantic - worn back on the forehead, maybe a bit to the side.   Lace and cable medallions come out of a shallow ribbing and add delicate detail around the face.  

And the decreases in the back create a lovely star pattern.  

 And about this new yarn...  

Plucky Rustic is a basic worsted/aran weight wool with a lofty spin . It's a solid workhorse yarn for go-to sweaters and accessories that will be worn again and again.  Evenly spun, lightly plied, smooth to the touch.   Not too heavy, not too fluffy.  And in Sarah's colorways, the Rustic is anything but basic.  (Think Cascade, but way prettier!)

It's coming out any day now, and more info about when and how to get it will be here.

In the meantime, here are some details on Mint & Basil, which are available on the sidebar above to the left or on Ravelry for $6.50 US.

Yarn:  The Plucky Knitter Rustic,  1 skein ea hat (the skein is 165 yds, the hat takes 100-125).
and that color?  That fabulous green is Oz
Needles:  US#7/4.5mm circulars and DPNs (or size to get gauge)
Sizing:  Written for 18(20,22)" heads.  Instructions included to modify larger or smaller.
Gauge:  5 sts, 7 rows per 1" , blocked, in stockinette

All these pics were taken at the racetrack by Caro Sheridan - copyright 2011 Splityarn.  
We cropped out the sleeping guy, who was a few rows above.


As for drinks with mint and basil, I've had a lot of fun playing with these.  You can pretty much crush up herbs in any drink for a little extra oomph, but here two that work well as a pair and tasted good to boot.

Mint Lemonade
2 oz lemon vodka (absolut citron type stuff)
crushed mint leaves
lemon bitters
 muddle those three ingredients with ice cubes in the bottom of a glass and add fizzy lemonade.

Basil Orangeade
2 oz burbon
crushed basil leaves
orange bitters
 muddle those three ingredients with ice cubes in the bottom of a glass and add fizzy orangeade. 
(this is NOT orange soda.  It's like pellegrino orange, or orangina)


 PS:  If you like this double accessory thing, stay tuned for Black Cherry Lambic, which is a cowl/wrap combo, coming up next.   
Also in plenty of time for holiday knitting!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It's almost here.  Maya is convinced that in our new town (which has a few parts that are a LOT fancier than our old town) that people in the big houses will give out chocolate bars the size of our heads.  She swears this is confirmed by other 7th graders and has a few specific streets in mind where this will happen.  I"m not so sure about the giant candy, and keep telling her MY theory - smaller houses, smaller yards = more candy.   More is better, so I can filch it out of their bags unnoticed.

Plus, I'm not driving her over to the other side of the tracks for the big houses, so we may never find out who's right.   I'll be on our porch with my friend Emily and a six pack of pumpkin beer, giving out candy bars smaller than your head.  

Plus, there is a fun new tradition here (in our 'hood), which I'm kind of loving.  Boo Bags.  Ever hear of these?

It's like Ding Dong Ditch - with candy!  The doorbell rings at night, while you are watching TV after dinner.   When you answer it, there's a bag with  2-4 pcs of candy in it on the steps.  The kids decorate the bag with a little note, and unless you see them giggling and running away, you have no idea who drops it off.   It's kind of perfect.   And I don't know about you guys, but once I sit down at the TV, I always wish I had a little bit of dessert, so this is working out nicely.  

But Halloween isn't all free candy.  There's planning to do.

 I've been dying for Maya to be Wednesday Addams for a few Halloweens now and this year we found the perfect dress at Goodwill, so she's in.  It's getting a  few buttons, a black sash, and a felt collar over the existing lace. We've managed the perfect mix of creepy victorian/salem witchiness, and she's trying to get her buddies to be the rest of the Family.

We also found a creepy doll to carry around.  She's missing most her face and is really pale.  I love Goodwill. 

At the same sale that provided the creepy doll, I found THIS.

Can you see it?  I am in love with this,  It's a vintage tweed Christian Dior suit from the 1960s.  With a cropped fitted jacket and a pencil skirt.  The tailoring is ah-mazing.   It cost me $12.

I may have to get my old ad agency job back just so I can wear it.  

Thursday, October 20, 2011

 The other reason to go to Rhinebeck is the shopping, right?   

I went with a goal in mind.   I had it in my head that it was time to find the perfect off white wool.  Something soft and a little lofty, maybe a bit sheepy, but really not that much. Woofy is the word that keeps popping into my thoughts, and Cormo was on my list.  So you see a little bit of off white there, between all the blues?  That's cormo, which is just as soft and wooly and lofty as advertised. 

And it isn't just any cormo, but Foxhill Farm cormo, which was recommended to me by the one and only Yarn Harlot, who I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time last weekend.   She was charming and funny - and  a bit surprised that she actually liked Hot Cider when you added burbon to it.  Seems she is not an apple fan.  Who knew?  

But that woman knows her yarns, and when I mentioned my quest for cormo, she didn't hesitate a bit, and she didn't have a second favorite.  Foxhill Farm and that's the one, I was told.  Go back there and get it.  And when The Yarn Harlot tells you something like that, you don't argue.  You just buy it.  Right?  I can't wait to swatch!

In addition to the Cormo, I got a lovely little batch of vintage turquoise buttons, two skeins of Miss Babs sock yarn in the most gorgeous deep teal color ever, and two skeins of Bijou Basin Bijou Spun, which is a mix of cormo and yak down.   Yak down sounds a little like it's a joke, but it's not.  It's soft and puffy and will make lovely mittens.  I'm not sure what the Miss Babs will be, but the color guarantees that I won't have long to wait before I figure it out.  I just have a thing or two to finish up first.

The other fun thing about Rhinebeck is that it makes me take phone photos, which makes me find OLD phone photos.  I have a crappy phone, and I use it mainly to talk on.  I barely text, I don't have internet access, and the battery cover is missing.  So when I do use a fancy thing like the camera, it often gets forgotten till later.

And then it's like a little present.  Here's a shot from some furniture shopping we dragged the girls to earlier this year.  The space age sofa was too sweet not to sit on.  Or according to Maya, to "LOUNGE" on.  She was asking for grapes here.  Zoe claimed the elf shoe end as her spot.  It looks like something from I Dream of Jeannie's bottle, doesn't it?   The girls begged and pleaded, but in the end, we left it there for another lucky shopper to take home, and we have since set up the old wooden futon in their TV room, and bought two foldy butterfly chairs from Kohls, about which they are overjoyed.  Good enough.

But seeing the picture again, I kind of wish I knew who did buy this.

Monday, October 17, 2011

You'll be reading about 1,000 different blogs today if you're doing any type of Rhinebeck recap, so I'm going to make this easy on you and do a little photo list of highlights I managed to remember my camera for. 

The Eveready Diner, just south of Rhinebeck proper.  Home of the Perfect Bloody Mary, and giant slices of pie.   Stopping here is a great way to end the drive on the way up.   Especially if you follow it with a few hours wandering around Rhinebecks' shops and then stop at that little beer and wine bar right in Rhinebeck center.  I highly recommend an early Friday start to the weekend!

Maybe some traffic on the way into the Fair Sat AM, but nuns behind seem a positive omen during an annoying drive, don't they? 

Questionable signs along the way were pretty entertaining and provided conversational  fodder for the rest of the weekend.
(Really, think about this for a second.  It's disturbing)

Elspeth and Stacey looking AMAZING in their Allegheny dresses! There are much better pics of these two, but it was about to pour so here's the dark and dreary moment when we managed to all be in the same spot as a camera!

The fun of doctoring up everyone's hot cider all day Saturday - Pam was a willing participant!  I had a few choices in my bag - either burbon and orange bitters, or a premixed concoction of orange vodka, pomegranate and cognac.   Seems people expect this of me, so I had more than a few takers over the course of the day, and was glad to be doubly prepared.

Meat Parfait!  
Can you see this thing?? Layers of mashed potato, different meat, cole slaw and barbeque sauce.  W/ a rib stuck in the side and a tomato on top!!.  Stitchy was kind enough to share the rest of this puppy when she ran off for a shoot.  Mmmmm.  And almost as tasty, below, a stick full of potato chips -- which is no small feat of modern engineering.   Can't beat the fair food.

Babycocktails knits in the wild.  This is the lovely Natalie in her Cassis, which she rocked with the coolest boots that you can't see.  She's one many Ravelers I've "spoken" to online and got to meet in person this weekend.  Thanks so much for coming up and saying hi to all of you!  So fun :-)

My travel buddies, Diana and Erin.   Love going away with these two!

The best spot to get your hot cider - it's $1 cheaper than the food vendors and served by local 4H kids.  Plus there's' donuts and muffins.

Seeing a few of my knits out in the wild..  I think this will never get old. 

Meeting Ann and Kay of Mason Dixon knitting around the waffle iron at our hotel, and then seeing them again at the fair,I also got to meet Gale Zucker!  All three couldn't be nicer.  Always a WOW moment to meet some of these people in person.

That's my random array of pics.  Am now back home and ready to get back on track.

You may notice I didn't wear the green cardigan.  Don't worry, it's what I'm about to begin writing today, so it's a coming. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

After leaving you yesterday,  I went for a run - and on that run, I decided that I'd get back home and weave in those ends and put on some buttons and bring the damn cardigan along on my photo shoot with Caro.  (And in that hour, I'd also manage to take a shower, get myself gussied up, gather up all my stuff for the shoot, and get to Caro's, which is a few towns away)  Amazingly, I did all those things, left a giant mess in every room I touched, and was on time.   I did have to straighten my hair in her bathroom. 

However, the gauntlet was worth it.   My thought was that if I was going to do a shoot, maybe I'd get a second opinion from Caro, some flaw-hiding detail photos and then, IF I chose to reknit as a top down and never do seams again,  I'd be all set w/ the pics, right?   But Caro gave it a once over and told me to wet block it.  Apparently, this will do wonders for your seaming talents.  Or lack thereof.   

And you know what?  I did it and it worked.   Amazing.
(Lets not get into the fact that I should have known all about wet blocking already, shall we?) 

So, after discussing the cardigan, we went off for a knitterly photo shoot -- at the racetrack.    

Yep.  With real horses and the music (dududududu dududu  DA) and the old guys in their tweed hats with pencils and folded up newspapers.  (This being Boston, also a lot of  not as old guys in Patriots tee shirts and big beer bellies.)  We had planned on shooting in the track parking lot, but when we got there, we realized it was OPEN.  So who are we to turn down a little location scouting adventure? 

The spot was awesome, and the beers were $4.25.  Unfortunately there's some federal law about ATMs at racetracks, so we were limited to a single beer while modeling around the joint and couldn't sample the $1 hotdogs for which they are famous.  (If we'd have had more money, we'd have had more beers - and the dogs.)   Will remember to bring cash for next time.  

There was a horse named Warm Woolen Mittens, and given his knitterly handle, we did favor him a bit - but he wasn't doing so hot. It seemed that Funky Country and Shoeless Joe had better luck in the heat.  The heat that was hovering around 90 degrees again.   Perfect for donning big knits and posing around the railings while an old guy snoozes a few rows above in his orange folding seat.  I think his horse raced later in the day - or maybe his wife bugs him if he naps at home?  Either way, he was pretty awesome.  Whatever his reason for a folding seat nap, he never moved the whole time we were hanging out near him.  And you don't think we're quiet, do you?

Down by the winner's circle, we tried not to make a spectacle of ourselves, but it was pretty hard to go incognito in the sparse crowd with our giant bag of knits, the fact that I was wearing knits in the crazy heat, and the whole posing and shooting thing.   We didn't exactly blend, if you know what I mean.  Again, if we'd have had more money, I'd have had another beer.    

But even without the additional Budweisers in their plastic cups, it was just fine.  Caro, as always, did an amazing job and I can't wait to see what we got on film.    It was a very productive Monday - I'll have pics to share in a bit,  the green sweater can now come to Rhinebeck with me, and sometime soon I am SO going back to the track with my family soon to put some money on whatever horse has the best name that day.    Right?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Well, for the record, I did finish.  

All I need to do  is add buttons and weave in my ends, and it's only 9:30 AM, so if I was going to do it, I absolutely could.  But I'm not, because in the end, I just don't feel the love for it.   Happily, I didn't give up my whole weekend for this sweater.  We hung out with friends on Saturday, and went to a great barbeque festival yesterday.  Instead, I spent my evenings knitting and seaming and didn't miss out on the great weather.  How glad am I?   The problem is hard to pin down.  There are details in this that I love, and this Osprey yarn is absolutely amazing, but all together, something is just missing, so on the dressmaker dummy it'll stay. My theory is that it's a little too plain in front, and that the long, lean fit isn't something you should do in a heavy yarn, no matter how gorgeous it is.  Whatever, the reason,  I'll be wearing something else at Rhinebeck.  snif.  

I had a short bout of craziness this AM where I thought I could cast on for a new sweater right now and be done in time, but instead of driving myself up a tree for the next 4 days,  I'm going to leave that particular bag of nuts on the shelf.  I did come up with a cool swatch in the midst of my delusion, so not all is lost and I will see if it goes anywhere once I return.   It's a little tweed and lace experiment.
Besides, there are things on the desk that require my attention which are not due this week and will not make me crazy.  This little skein is destined to be a pair of long dressy gloves for the holidays - and the yarn color is just perfect for something named Champagne, don't you think?   I've been toying with stitch patterns, and have yet to choose, but I'll get there soon.   The yarn is Cotton Comfort by Green Mt. Spinnery and it's lovely stuff  - 80% wool and 20% cotton - which will be kind of perfect sticking out from a pair of 3/4 length sleeves, right?  I'm thinking very MadMen with this.  Little pearl buttons and such.

And last, if I'm not giving you a cardigan, I should at least give you a drink, right? 

Still using up my lemon soda here, I've also acquired a bottle of Lemon Bitters.  I'm becoming a huge fan of the bitters - they give almost any drink a little extra depth, and they come in a whole batch of great flavors.  This could be trouble.   Here I added these to muddled mint and lemon vodka/lemon soda concoction. It was pretty good.  And it turns out they are pretty amazing in a vodka tonic with lime, or just a straight lemon vodka martini.  Since it's 80 degrees out here, everything still has ice cubes and bubbles.

Am really hoping the weather changes by Rhinebeck so I can do my burbon and cider.  That requires a little chill in the air to be properly enjoyed.   Although I'm sure we will manage if necessary...

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Remember when I said I'd give myself 12 days to  knit the sweater for Rhinebeck?  3 down, and now I have 4.  The math changed, right?   My new deadline for a wearable sweater is Oct 10.   I moved my deadline up, yes I did...  But if you look below, the magic combination of stockinette and a good, fat yarn seems to be in my favor. 

The reason for the new deadline (besides my amazing ability to make life more difficult than it needs to be)  is that I managed to book a photoshoot with my buddy Splityarn on the 10th.  I have a few other patterns in the queue,which will be ready to publish as soon as I have shots,  and Caro's a busy lady, and this is the busy design/photo season,  so once I have her, I plan to get as many wardrobe changes as possible into one day!   

In addition to moving my deadline up, I've also complicated things here by picking another GREEN knit.  I absolutely love this color  (It's Parsley, from Quince & co), but it's put me in the same drink quandary I was in last week.  As tasty as that grapefruit and mint concoction might be,  I think this sweater is just going to get an Irish Whiskey name and a whiskey drink recipe and I'll call it a day.  There are some great Irish whiskey names out there, as long as I can figure out the spelling!

In related green drink news, there have been a few contenders in the Basil and Mint department:

Burbon, muddled with basil, a bit of orange bitters, and topped off with  blood orange italian soda.  
(The soda is easily found at Trader Joe's - it's less sweet than regular orange soda, but a little more than Orangina)

Lemon vodka,  muddled with mint and a spash of lime juice, then topped with  a bitter lemon drink from Whole Foods (like carbonated lemonade but not sweet).

It's still pretty warm around here, so fizzy cold things seem right.  Next few drinks will get more into the fall spirit of things.   I  need to get back to the knitting, but give those a try and let me know if you like them!

Monday, October 03, 2011

One sweater.

Thigh length, long sleeves. Cardigan.  Knit on  #9s in Quince and Co's Osprey.  

I can do this by Rhinebeck, right?  

I have no plans next weekend......