Thursday, December 29, 2011

Many years back, my father in law and his wife realized that Christmas was the perfect time for a pair of Jewish grandparents to get all their kids and grandkids over for a visit.   They decorate their house and  have a tree and hang stockings.   We all bring presents and  make lots of food and have a big holiday, even though none of us is the least bit Not Jewish.  

There are lots of people in the house, and it feels like there are just as many dogs.   (Really, there are only 3.  There used to be 4.)

This is Moose, who is not camera shy and manages to get at least a part of himself in every photo taken over the weekend.     He doesn't fit in most spaces, but it never seems to stop him.  

This is Howie.  Poor Moose has to endure a lot during his visit, and maybe he's a little too accomodating, since this is not an isloated incident.   I'll spare you the rest of the photos, but I kind of had to post this one, which summarizes both Poor Moosie's weekend, and Crazy Howie's entire personality.   

Aggie, the third dog, is a Husky who everyone loves.  She is very smart and stays faaaar away from Howie.  Usually with a piece of furniture between them for buffer.

Here is my holiday haul.  Doesn't  it seem my family is onto me?  I'm an easy theme to buy for!

I've already begun playing with the Peychaud's bitters, which I hadn't tried before.  They're kind of different - a little like Angostura bitters, but not really - if you put a little on your finger, you can tell these are a little lighter and more herbal.  In a drink, it's hard to tell one bitters from another, so I always do a little finger drop first.

Yesterday I made one of these with it:

2 oz pear vodka
4 oz pear cider
3-4 drops of Peychauds
a good squirt of lemon
fill glass with club soda

It was the perfect drink to do a little afternoon knitting with. 

Hope you guys had a great holiday!
If anyone had an amazing drink on their travels, do share it....

Friday, December 23, 2011

All I wanted for Hanukkah was a fancy camera, which has arrived, so from now on, you can expect Better Pictures on this blog.  

There is nothing within a 100 foot radius of me that I cannot make pretty right now.   It's fabulously fun, and I've spent the last 24 hours playing with my new toy.  I may be driving my family a little nuts, and none of them will actually come near me and the camera right now, so I am stuck sharing a few still life subjects with you to show how amazing this thing is. 

 Just look at my leftover rugelach!

And new yarn for swatching from Blue Sky Alpacas!

Aaaaaand my rearview mirror, 

which I cracked when I drove up this driveway just a little TOO close to that brick bit the other day.  I have no excuses (although I definitely lobbed a few out there), since it's a HOUSE and probably big enough that I should have noticed it there along the side of the car.   But see how my camera makes even stupidity look good.  That cracked glass, those drops of rain, the little bits of light....  it's kind of cool, if you look at it through the lens.  (And don't think about what it's going to cost to fix it)

Really, it is a cool photo.  But, moving on...

This will be coming in January, and it's my St. Germain design, knit out of Bijou Basin Ranch's Bijou Spun yarn.   Since St. Germain is made from the blossom of the elderberry bush, this hat and mitten set has a lovely little flower motif going on.   And Since St. Germain is festive and perfect for the holidays, I am working on a few celebration cocktails for you to serve to your buddies over the holidays. 

Will post those soon - and I'll have really pretty pictures of them too!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Yes, it exists.  It took a little research, but this is kinda perfect. 

(I've found the menorah but not the damn candles yet.   I know they're in a box somewhere and I have till sundown, so that's OK). 


      I thought this drink recipe was brilliant, so it's the winner.   It's a nod to two of my holiday favorites - latkes (potato) and gelt (gold coins).   I added the orange, since orange always seems festive to me.   

Hanukkah Gelt Martini

2 parts vodka
1 part goldschlager  (with the gold flecks!)
splash of vermouth

Shake in a jjigger with ice and pour into martini glass.  Garnish with orange peel or very thin slice of orange. 

See, how perfect is that?  Kind of sweet and desserty, for sipping as you light the candles.   The gold is so festive :-)


Besides that, I'm almost ready for the holiday.  Rugelach and honey cookies are baked and the brisket is happening today.  Tomorrow we eat that brisket at a dinner with friends, which includes kugel, and Thursday we light our menorah and have latkes with a few of our new neighbors.   Covering all the bases, in terms of food I know and love.


Also, in the spirit of the day, my Albanian friends are painting our third floor bedroom blue.

And, I am working on two blue knitting projects.   "Working" being a very loose term.

Enjoy!  And Happy Hanukkah :-)

Monday, December 19, 2011

   I've never admitted painterly defeat before, but that peeled off wallpaper and the height of the ceilings in the hallway were more than I  could kid myself that I'd ever manage to do.  Even Craig didn't believe me, and he knows I'm just enough of an idiot to bribe some friends and rig a crazy ladder contraption to save the few thousand bucks.  In our old house, I did something like that, and although I didn't manage to kill myself, I never did paint the top 2 feet of the walls.  We had to do it just before selling the place. 

But this time, I kinda looked at it, and I thought about it, and then I caved.  And now I'm a little hooked on the idea that I don't have to do it.   I may have also thrown a few extra rooms onto the job.  Maybe.

Three very nice men painted three floors of stairs and trim and risers and pumpkin walls. And me?  I baked a thousand Hanukkah cookies, wrote up a new pattern, went to 3 holiday parties (the getting dressed with 4 Albanian men in the house, equally divided on all 3 floors, is tricky, but can be done if you have a brightly lit basement). I also knit, and ran, and went out to see live music with friends.  And I watched Robot Chicken Star Wars, which if you haven't seen, you should.  It's really funny.

I could get used to this, I tell you.

In fact, I did.  I tossed a few more rooms onto the job. Once you're spending 4 digits, what's a little more?   Look at my pretty green office.  And my $1 painting of a basket of apples, and all my yarn, finally displayed in my Craigslist barrister bookcase.  Thanks to this thing, I finally know what I've got in stash and don't have to dig in my big, dark trunk anymore, wondering if there is or is not a bag of DK merino at the bottom.

The yarn didn't ALL fit in the bookcase, so the stuff I'm working with is in these cubbies.  Also easy to see. 

With a big window and the sliding door, this room is a little too bright to get a good photo of, but you get the idea.  It's green and it contains yarn and books.  I plan on spending a lot of time in it.


And, so exciting, some yarn has arrived for spring knitting!    More on that later... 

 For now, more cookies need to be made and I am playing with a Hanukkah Cocktail. 
I'll post it once I figure it out.  No rush, I do have 8 days of fun in which to have it.  

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Am hoping this is the FINAL chapter in the leaky roof/collapsed ceiling saga of my poor little office.  Once more, everything is getting cleared out and I get to live in the dining room for a few days.   The office will be painted and we plan on give the floors a little love, and then, only then, will I actually move all my stuff into its permanent Babycocktails home.   The pumpkin plan is getting ditched and the walls will now be really cool green called Olive Tree.  The entry way is getting the pumpkin instead, since we couldn't actually give it up all together.  I think the green will be great next to the dark blue of the Dining Room, and it's just vibrant enough that I'll never fall asleep while working.   It will also look amazing when leaves are on the trees out the glass doors, and I think that maybe I can stop knitting in green if surrounded by it.

For now, nobody can eat in the dining room.   I have a pile system.

And something new to work on.   (yes, it's on a pile)

This is my accidental Quince & Co purchase, when I thought Lark was Osprey and Osprey was Lark.   I"m just not that focused some days.  But it's kind of a happy accident because I ended up with twice as much yarn, and it's keeping me busy while I wait for two more yarn deliveries - one from the Plucky Knitter (destined to be a hoodie) and the other from Blue Sky Alpacas (destined to be something really cozy and cabled). 

In the meantime, I'm going to have a burbon, ginger ale and lime.   
Lime goes with my green theme, for anyone really paying attention!

Friday, December 09, 2011

Can you believe this is the first sweater pattern I've published since July?   It's a good one though, I hope you like it!

Mint Julep is all about classic lines and eye catching color.  It has a tailored fit, an unusual ribbing, and just a little bit of unexpected detail in the back.  My goal was to design a sweater that would have all the cozy elements of a bulkier knit, but with the more flattering look and fit of a fitted, classic cardigan.  

Gorgeous yarn in an amazing color was a fun start.  The large buttons, generous collar and deep ribbing add to the cozy feeling, but seamed construction and simple vertical lines maker a flattering design.

 I designed it to be knit in pieces, but for those of you who are used to my mods, I assure you that adjusting for your shape is easy, and directions are in the pattern on how to modify for your body shape.

Another bonus to the construction is that you can add your button bands at the end, so you can decide what kind of button placement will be most flattering while looking at the sweater, on your body, in the mirror.  Then you add the button holes!

The Quince & Co Osprey is perfect for this kind of sweater.   Soft and cozy, just the right weight, with a little bit of body to it.  On #9 needles, it knits up fast, and the stitch definition is beautiful in the ribbing and cable. And oh, those colors....


A few more shots of the ribbing and cable detail, just for fun. 
I felt that the styling should be a little unusual, but not so far off from classic that this couldn't work in any kind of wardrobe.  Knit in a bright color, it's a fun eye-catching piece, but in a neutral, it could be a great, more conservative, wardrobe staple.

The PDF pattern is available for purchase on the sidebar above, or on Ravelry
More photos and information are on the project page, but some basic details are below:

Yarn:  Quince & Co Osprey, 7(7,8,8,9,9,10,10,11) skeins.  170 yards per skein  (shown in parsley)
Sizes:  32(34,36,38,40,42,44,46,48,50)
Needles:  US#9/5.5mm needles or size to get gauge
Gauge: 4 st, 5.5 rows per 1".  Stockinette, lightly blocked


As for the Julep itself, the green of the sweater and the fact that we shot most of these in the Suffolk Downs Track parking lot dictated the cocktail.    And I do love a Mint Julep!    

Once I had these in the lovely silver julep cups, but a collins glass is just fine if you're without.

5-6 sprigs of mint
1 tsp powdered sugar
2 tsps water
2.5 oz burbon

In bottom of glass, dissolve sugar in water. 
Fill glass with shaved ice and burbon.  Stir until the glass is frosted and add  more ice if necessary.  Put mint leaves on top and serve with a short straw, since the idea is that you'll have to smell the mint!  It does smell good...


Monday, December 05, 2011

Drank the last of our Thanksgiving leftovers and tricked my family into an all-day yarn boondoggle.  


I'll start with the leftovers, as the boondoggle requires much explanation and you may bail before getting to the drink.

Pear- Lemon-Sage Martinis 
Because why let the last of the fresh herbs go to waste...

In the bottom of each glass add a squirt of lemon and a sage leaf and muddle.   
In a jigger (this makes two):  4 oz spiced pear vodka (regular pear would work), 1.5 oz vermouth and two drops of lemon bitters, plus 4-5 ice cubes.  Shake.    Pour over the sage and lemon juice and add a strip of lemon zest. 

If you make yourself one, you may have the patience to read the rest of this blog post.   Or not. 


See, I've been dying to get to Harrisville Designs, way the fuck up in NH, and there just isn't enough time in a school day to get there and back before pickup.   It finally dawned on me that the only way I was getting up there was to plan a day and convince my family that it was going to be a day with a little fun for all. 

I went on the internet and planned such a day.  It started with an awesome diner lunch (we love diners),  and included a quaint town to explore, a gorgeous hike, a post-hike pie stop at a second diner,  and maybe a little bit of yarn.   Just a side stop for it on this otherwise great day, right?


Lunch at the world's shiniest diner was great.  Maya had homemade pot pie and Craig had a meatloaf sandwich.

Everyone loved this joint and it was kind of awesome.  The bathroom doors were old coke machines you could open.   Very cool.

The next stop was Harrisville,  which was billed on some of the  websites I checked as a quaint village.  The drive is long and beautiful, but loooong.  You drive up and the first thing you see is the mill, so we stopped,  fought each other for first into the bathroom, and went in for a bit.  It's a gorgeous shop, and the yarns are addictive, so we may have been there for about an hour.   

Then it was time for the exploring, which didn't go as planned.   Quaint villages are supposed to have shops and a sidewalk and maybe a bookstore, right?   Not this one.  It's a yarn shop and a general store.  Both of which are awesome, but people, that's IT.   Walking along the main road was a little death defying, so exploring on foot was out.  My family was not pleased with me and cried foul.  

This here photo sums it up.  Pretty, yes.  Entertaining?  Not so much.  

We took a lot of pictures and walked around the mill buildings, and then I bribed them with amazing cookies from the general store. 

However,  I did find what I wanted:  The perfect red tweed.  Plus yarn for colorwork mittens for everyone, as they got carried away in the colors and I did owe them for their troubles.  The orange/blue/pink is Maya, and the blue/purple/green is Zoe.  The other's mine.

While in the shop, I met a knitter buying yarn to make Allegheny!  How funny is that?   Maya was floored that I was recognized by a stranger in a yarn shop, and my status has gone from totally dorky to maybe a little bit cool in the big one's eyes.  So, nice knitter from NH, if you are reading this, I thank you for my newly earned  pre-teen respect and hope you enjoy your Allegheny!

 Here was the haul.

We drove a little and finally gave up on finding trails for hiking or spots to explore on foot, and as it was getting late, we drove back towards Boston.   And even though everyone was in a good mood, they were fully aware that we'd done nothing all day but eat, drive and buy yarn.  So I was happy to see this sign on the way back.

  There was skeeball and air hockey and we won lots of stupid little tickets you can redeem for crap.

You don't grow up in New Jersey without a love for skeeball.   Talent's another story, but we do love to play.

 Maya kicked my ass at air hockey and Zoe got glowy bracelets with her tickets.

 The second diner was close by, so it was time for pie.  The pies were good. 

We did wander around this town for a little bit, admiring the rural New Hampshire style holiday cheer. 

We actually had a great time, even though my well laid hiking and exploring plans all fell through.   But I have a feeling they aren't going to believe me the next time I bill a great family outing that may just involve a yarn detour.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

 Another collaboration with ThePluckyKnitter!  And this one gives you three patterns in one. 

After knitting myself the original cowl,  I was too hooked on the stitch repeat to stop, so I decided there could be a scarf version as well.  Then, while writing, it seemed only right to work the numbers so a wrap could also be created, in case someone was lucky enough to have a bigger stash of this gorgeous yarn to use up.   

The stitch pattern here is truly addicting, and the combination of cabled texture and delicate lace in the handdyed yarn is so beautiful as it works up that it's hard to put down once you begin.   The Primo is a dream to knit with - the subtle variation in color, plus the distinct stitch definition really showcase the pattern to a T.   And that combination of merino and cashmere feels just lovely while you're working it. Plus it's so pretty... and, again, hard to put down.

(The lovely color and texture which you see in these pics is thanks to the photo genius of Caro Sheridan, aka Splityarn.  As always :-)

(The scarf below, is done in the color Bashful)

By playing with dimensions and a distinct cable border, I made each of the three versions into a different take on the same idea.    As always with my patterns, instructions are included for a number of ways to modify these for whatever length and width your wardrobe and stash seem to work best with!

Both the wrap and scarf are worked flat, in one long rectangle.  The cowl is worked in the round. 


 The cowl is done in the color En Vogue.

 There are three sizes given for the cowl, and I have the smallest on here - but it's still big enough for doubling around the neck. 


(Edited to add:  in the pics, I was wearing the cables on the top, but in real life, I find I wear them facing down, with the lace on the top, folded towards my neck.  Either way works, I'm just sayin' it's an option...) 

Kits to purchase the yarn and pattern directly from ThePluckyKnitter will be available later, and I will be sure to post about it as soon as we have information on when.  She has some great new colors in the works, (and rumor has it some not-so-repeatables), so stay tuned!  

Worth waiting for, I'm sure.  But...we decided to release the pattern solo first, rather than hold onto it, while so many of you have yarn in hand and holiday travel planned.  Why let all that airport waiting or passenger seat sitting go to waste?  


The specs are all on Ravelry, but here are a few FYI basics:

Gauge:  5 st per 1", blocked lightly in stockinette
Needles:  US#7/4.5mms or size to get gauge

Sizes/Yarn Requirements:  
Cowl = 35(39,42)" long x 10" wide  - 400-600 yds
Scarf = 56" long x 12/5" wide - 600 yds
Wrap = 60" long x 18.5" wide - 900 yds


And as for the drink on this one, the Lambic is best served cold and with no extra embellishments. 

It's a pretty sweet beer, kind of festive and dessert-y.  Could be a fun thing to bring to a holiday dinner.  The bottle itself sure does look pretty - that red on top is shiny and tin-foily, and it has both a cork AND a bottle cap.  (which seems important to note...)


Again, I thank you guys for all your patience and your continued support of me and my designs during the long, dry spell that was moving and settling into our new home.   We're now moved and settled, and I'm hiring an actual painter to finish what I haven't done, so I can get back to the knitting and the cocktails properly.

There's lots more in the works these days, and I am planning for one more pattern release next week!