Sunday, December 30, 2012

Congrats to Julie from NYC!
She wrote:  I  will be making Royale Bleu Champagne Cocktails ( so delicious and so beautiful - midnight blue !) before heading over to the dance party and fireworks here in Central Park, NYC with my twin daughters and favorite knitting companions.

Happy New Year to all!!

Royale Bleu
Ingredients for 1 person
• 120 ml Champagne
• 20 ml CuraƧao bleu
• 1 slice of kiwi


I'm a little worried that her recipe is for one person, but hey.   Really, who am I to judge?

Happy New Year to everyone!!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Let's talk about someone else's patterns for a bit.

I've been excited about Knit With Me since last summer, when Gudrun  told me all about the idea behind this collection - the notion of a mother and daughter being able to wear the same pieces, and perhaps even knit them together.  I was especially intrigued since my daughter is just a year older than hers, and already knowing Gudrun's design aesthetic, I had a hunch that the collection might be right up my girl's alley.

It is.  
Rubens was requested, knit (by me, not her), and worn before school was even out for vacation.   She's angling for the hooded cardigan on the cover as well, but will have to wait a bit for that one.   Or maybe she'll start knitting....

Knit With Me contains 12 designs: 6 sweaters, 5 accessories and 1 simple “beginner’s” sweater  - all in  Quince and Co's yarns.   The photographs by Carrie Bostick Hoge are charming and beautiful, and show Gudrun, her daughter (also named Maya) and their friends wearing the pieces,  all of which  hit that perfect note for this audience - timeless enough for both a mother or her daughter, simple enough for a beginner or mid level knitter,  but distinct and sophisticated enough to make up a really unique and gorgeous collection.


      This was Maya's favorite photo, although she imagined her Rubens in pomegranate, with jeans and a sweater, sans chicken.

 like this. 


I think this is a gorgeous collection with a lovely idea behind it, and was very happy to be asked to participate in the blog tour -- part of which is a book giveaway, so you can knit some of these lovely designs yourselves!  To be entered to win your own copy of Knit With Me, tell me what you plan to drink on New Year's Eve in the comments below.  

Please include either a Ravelry name or email, so I can contact you if you are chosen.   I'll close comments on Sunday morning.  


In the meantime, here's one festive idea - and it even matches Maya's hat, so let's call it a Rubens.


You can make this in a larger glass if you like, these just seemed fun at the time. 

splash of vodka  - about 1 oz
 2 parts Ocean Spray sparkling cranberry
1 part ginger ale
lime twist and a little squirt


Saturday, December 22, 2012

The last pattern in my recent batch of designs is Macallan   

Modeled photos, by Brooklyn Tweed/Jared Flood.

 I am absolutely honored to be a part of Brooklyn Tweed's Wool People series a second time.  His SHELTER is one of my favorite tweeds ever, his designs and aesthetic are gorgeous, and the opportunity to be included in such a beautiful collection is really humbling.  I've always been a fan, and it's just so special to get to be behind the scenes of something you admire so much.  
 Especially - twice!!

 For the first collection, I designed  Allegheny,  a top down wool dress, with a little vintage vibe.  

And for this collection, I opted for a less worn type of garment again.  I think the vest is an unappreciated but classic part of a woman's sweater wardrobe, and so many of us skip right past it for the more universally loved cardigans and pullovers.

I can't say how many of the knitters who completed their Alleghenies commented how they "never thought that they would wear a knitted dress..." but ended up loving their version and wearing it everywhere.   I figured if I could convince any number of ladies that they could love a dress, maybe I can convince them to love a vest too.  

With that in mind, Macallan is about about balance and fit and cables.  I wanted it to be classic and wearable, with a little something that would make it special or unexpected.  And it had to flatter a variety of shapes and sizes.

So, a stockinette V neck front and a heavily cabled back give the wearer classic, flattering lines in front, saving the surprise - that intricately cabled back, for the curve of the spine.  The cables tie into the classic feel of the sweater, but are the exact opposite of the simple design elements seen on the front.

But where there is detail on front,  I've paid special attention to what our various bodies need.   A fitted top half with a nice clean V  flatters most necks and bustlines, and looks great with a collared shirt peeking out beneath.   It goes out on Saturday with jeans, or to the office with a pencil skirt, and the length allows for a shirt to peek out below.

High waist shaping takes things in almost where an empire waist would, flattering busts and hiding a little belly.  Coming out of the shaping, I added a bit of extra ease below where that belly, or hips, or a layered shirt often needs a little room.

(these remaining, less attractive photos are by me, on my dressmaker dummy, to show specific details...)

The pockets are placed individually for each size, and are proportionally balanced to be evenly spaced between hip and tummy.  Plus, the larger sizes have larger size pockets.  These are placed high on the hip, exactly where a little distraction might hide a muffin top, and the detail on them is all up and down, not horizontal at all.

And, to avoid any extra bulk around the hips and still give you the visual detail, these are faux pockets!
(My husband is calling them fockets.  He thinks he's pretty funny.)

One of my favorite details on the vest are the cable ends which go straight into the ribbing, for a nice vertical line along the hem.  And the cables I chose are intricately detailed and very eye catching.  Creating that head-turning piece of the puzzle, right?

So for anyone who's said that they wish they could wear a vest, but never found one that would flatter,  give this one a try.   For all of you who said they wouldn't wear a knit dress and did,  I'm going to say that you would wear a knit vest as well!  

An added bonus is that it takes so much less time to knit!  No sleeves.

The vest is knit with LOFT held doubled, which creates a lovely round cable.  As someone who shies away from fingering yarn, this was a great way to give LOFT a shot.  Doubled, I could still knit it in #7s!   If you prefer your worsted yarn straight,  SHELTER or another worsted would work just fine.  


The pattern is for sale for $6.50 through Brooklyn Tweed, here or on Ravelry.   
Some details are below and the rest are on the Ravelry page.

Sizes:  (based on finished bust) 32.75(36.75,38.75,42, 45.75,47.25,52.75)"
Yarn:  Brooklyn Tweed LOFT  - 1120(1330,1505,1655,1895,2095,2470) yds.
 Brooklyn Tweed SHELTER - 570(665,755,850,950,1050,1235) yds.
Sample shown in LOFT, in Pumpernickel.
Gauge:  18 sts/30 rows = 4" in stockinette stitch with US#7/4.5mm, after blocking
Needle size:  US#4/3.5mm for ribbing,  US#7/4.5 for body of sweater


And as for the name, Macallan -  it's a Scottish single malt whiskey my husband absolutely loves.  The deep brown color of the yarn and the heavily cabled panel just said malt whiskey to me.

I have no recipe for it, since it's supposed to be enjoyed straight up.  
The 18 year old is the one, and I am TOLD, "It would be criminal to use this in a mixed drink."  

Monday, December 17, 2012

As promised --  this is Nebbiolo, my pattern #2 this week.


A bottle of Nebbiolo is deep and red, with traces of cherry and violet and spice.  The name of the wine comes from the Italian word "nebbia" meaning fog, which gathers on the mountains of Piemonte where the Nebbiolo grapes grow.   And I can't think of anything more perfect for a foggy day in the mountains than a big cozy cowl and a glass of that red wine.

Nebbiolo is a not-so-simple cowl, designed to showcase the texture and color of the Plucky Knitter Bulky.  The motif is a combination of cables and lace diamonds that I think works perfectly here.   The cables show off the smooshiness of the merino and give the fabric a little density, and the lace adds texture and balances the fabric with a little lightness, if that makes sense.  

 You can wrap it around your neck twice for a cozy peek of cowl out the top of your coat, or you can wear it long if you prefer.  Sometimes it folds over on itself for a longer, thinner look, or it can be worn wide to show off the diamonds.  The pattern has instructions for two sizes - and hints to modify the design for other lengths or widths that you might prefer.

And I'll tell you now, this thing knits up fast - it takes 3 skeins of Sarah's Bulky, and once you have the diamonds established, the pattern gets a little addictive as it grows.   You'll be done in less than a week, even with a thousand distractions.

As always, Sarah's Plucky Knitter Bulky is a joy to work with - a round and soft and smooth merino, dyed in the most gorgeous shades.  (This one is Dancing Queen - a deep, bright, and rich purple.)

The pattern is for sale on the sidebar above or on Ravelry for $4.50.   Some details are below and the rest are here

Yarn:  The Plucky Knitter Bulky, shown in Dancing Queen.  300 (350) yds.  3 (3) skeins.
Needles:  US #10.5/6.5mm long circulars
Gauge:  3.5 sts/5 rows = 1" in stockinette.  Each pattern repeat = 4.5" wide
Sizes:  10" deep,  45 (49.5)" long.  Instructions to modify for other sizes included.


Amanda said something funny.  I know I had enough photos, but I love this one.  


As for Nebbiolo, ask for it at your local wine shop.   

Open it a bit ahead of time so it can breathe, and you'll be so very happy on a cold night.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I have a little bottleneck  in the pattern release department over here, so I'm hoping you can forgive me if I release one pattern today and another pattern tomorrow.   There's a third in the wings for right after New Years and then I'll have the decks all cleared to space things out properly again for the new year. 

The first design is Moonshine, a sweater designed to fill a hole in my own wardrobe.

  I needed a long, lightweight cardigan in a neutral color to go with everything.   I wanted subtle detail, so that the sweater would add something to a variety of different outfits - without getting in the way.  Moonshine is designed to work with just about anything - jeans, a dress, or a tailored skirt and office pants (if I had those).   Really, it's just my new favorite go-to sweater.

 The lovely gray yarn, a simple lace repeat, delicate detail, and a perfect fit are the focus here.


And yep, it works perfectly with either jeans or a dress.

The yarn is Imperial Stock Ranch's Tracie Too, in a lovely shade of gray they call Rain.   Depending on the light, Rain is either a straight cloudy gray, a pale silvery shade, or has a hint of blue to it. 

This sport weight yarn is perfect for a layering cardigan, since the 100% Columbia wool is warm, but oh-so-very light and soft.  I am in love with the fact that it comes from a real-live, family-run ranch out in Oregon that's been in use since 1871.   If you don't know about Imperial Stock Ranch, you can read their story here.

Not exactly Moonshiney folk, but still very impressively old school, right?   I think the name is appropriate.

 The simple lace repeat is really anything but boring, and appears almost fluid when worked in a large panel.   You can see below the cool stitch definition where the lace flows in and out in waves.

The undulating lace also makes a distinct edge along the button band, which is crisply finished with a slipped stitch edging that goes all the way up to the shoulders.   It's a small detail that I think gives the sweater some polish.

 The lace is actually very easy to memorize and the cardigan is worked from the top down so there's no seaming involved.  The combination of stockinette, easy lace, and seamless construction makes Moonshine a great first lace garment - or maybe just an easy TV,  holiday, or travel sweater that you can work on when other things are happening around you.

Moonshine is designed with a little extra ease in the bust, and a bit less ease down below, so the whole thing is meant to skim your shape without clinging.   If you've knit one of my designs before, you know that the top down construction means that I have included a few pointers about how to modify this cardigan for your body, so you'll have a fit you like.  The sleeves are fitted to give the sweater a more tailored feel, and again, can be widened if you prefer a bit more room. 

The PDF is for sale on Ravelry for $6.50 or on the sidebar to the left.  Some details are below and the rest of the info is here

Yarn:   Tracie Too, by Imperial Stock Ranch.  A very generous 395 yds per skein.  This silvery gray is Rain.  
1300(1400,1500,1600,1700,1800,1900)(2000,2100,2200,2250,2300) yds

Needles:  US #5/3.75mm   long circulars for the body, DPNs or shorter circular needles for the sleeves. 

Gauge:  5.5 sts/8 rows per 1" in stockinette, lightly blocked.  

Sizing:  32(34,36,38,40,42,44)(46,48,50,52,54)", based on bust size.  Schematic measurements are in pattern.


As for the Moonshine itself,  I did finally find some up at the New Hampshire Liquor Store, since stills are hard to come by here in Boston.  And I've got to be honest about it - this stuff smells and tastes like rubbing alchohol.  It was not good -- and nope, I couldn't bring myself to make a cocktail with it.

Diana gave me a recipe for Moonshine Marshmallows, but even those seem like too much time spent with this stuff.  

Do you see that label?   It's 40% alc/vol and 80 proof.    Am pretty sure this is what was in the Garbage Can Punch my freshman year at college.   I was smart enough to stay away from it then, and after one sip tonight, I plan on continuing to stay away from it now. 

Instead, I decided it was a good night for a Cosmopolitan, which was waaaaaay tastier

 1.5 oz vodka
.5 oz triple sec
1.5 oz cranberry juice
lemon twist, plus a shot of lemon bitters


So, enjoy Moonshine and check back in again soon  - for this:

PS: The credit for all the lovely project photographs goes to Amanda Johnston again.
and PPS:  Blogger is adding strange spaces to the post, it's not you.  Or me.

Friday, December 07, 2012


Well, outside there's a big hole, a bigger machine, and two big guys.  

(The one in the hat looks more than a little like Silent Bob.) 

And inside,  I'm going big in my own way.
Plucky Bulky in Dancing Queen.   On #10.5s.

I think this is the knitterly equivalent of the backhoe, don't you?

Sunday, December 02, 2012

This pattern comes to you via a combination of old friends, which I think is so appropriate for this time of year, when we sit back and appreciate the people and things in our lives.  In both of my worlds - the knitting and the non - I am always amazed by the smart and talented women who I am lucky enough to know and consider my friends - and this cowl was made possible by one talented and amazing friend from each of those worlds.  So, as I wrap up one more year in both my knitting and regular lives, I am again so happy to have both these worlds, and even more grateful for the friends that they have brought me. 

But enough of that.  The cowl is what most of you are here for,  yes?  (That, and maybe a drink..)

 The yarn is Sunshine Yarns Merino Sport, courtesy of my old Knitsmith cohort, Dani.  As the knitting friend involved here, she's a woman I know from my old Boston knitting group, who now makes beautiful hand-dyed yarn in wilds of Colorado (or, outside of Boulder...) these days.  She is warm and kind and one of the sweetest women you could ever meet.  Her business is Sunshine Yarns, and she dyes beautiful yarn up in that western mountain air.   This color is called Heirloom Tomato, and it's the most perfect orange I've ever seen.  The sport weight merino yarn is soft and round and complements the stitch pattern perfectly. 

As for the cowl, it features an undulating cable-lace motif that creates a wonderfully fluid fabric, which just works perfectly around the neck.  And the ins and outs of the cables complement the subtle shades of a vareigated yarn kind of perfectly.   

Depending on your mood,  you can fold the edges down for a more contained and symmetrical cowl.....

 or let it fall as it may, for a laissez-faire drapey look.   I kind of like it when the inside shows and you see the dropped stitches :)

The non knitting friend involved in this is Amanda, who's neither a knitter or a blogger, but is one of my favorite Mom friends ever. Our big girls are peas from similar pods.  She's my usual tag sale partner - with an eye for clothing, a fine arts degree and an endless supply of enthusiasm.  (All which came in handy this weekend. )  As an added bonus,  all 4 of our girls love and miss each other (the whole moving thing) and were happy to spend Saturday together while Amanda and I took photos in the snow.  

 We had grand plans to go down to the beach to do this, but a Craigslist sofa was being delivered, so the backyard worked just fine.  (You'll see that sofa in the Moonshine shots I'll be posting next week) 

The Cointreau pattern is available on the sidebar to the left or on Ravelry for $4.50.  
Some details are below and the rest are on the Ravelry page.  

Yarn:  Sunshine Yarns Merino Sport in Heirloom Tomato.  1 skein/215 yards for 32".  2 skeins/430 yds for 40"
Needles:  US #4/3.5mm
Finished Size:  7.5" deep. 32(40)" long.   Shown in 32" size.
Gauge:  5sts/7rows in blocked stockinette.    

And, for a Cointreau drink recipe, this is what Craig makes me when we're watching TV at night.  Often, it's my dessert.

TV Watching Drink

2 oz bourbon
.5 oz dry vermouth
.5 oz cointreau
dash of orange bitters
squeeze of lemon 
2 ice cubes

Pour all ingredients into a short glass and add ice.  Swirl and enjoy the show.

Yep, there were 2 drinks in the photo.  The TV watching one is in the bigger glass.  Trust me, you don't need the recipe for the other. It was an experiment gone awry.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Today's the day for the contest!
(OK, tomorrow, but I won't be near the computer so am planning ahead here...)

Click to visit the Lansing Area Aids Network and make your donation via paypal.

Then shoot Steven an email with your contact and donation info.

And be entered to win some of this great stuff.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Coming off of  hosting Thanksgiving and Maya's big play and an actual knitting submission deadline, plus a big dessert/cocktail party we decided to throw on the Saturday after the holiday (just to keep things going), I was a little wiped.   You  have no idea how good it felt to pick up the needles and make this for Zoe, with no pencils, no plans and no schedule.

It's Plucky Bulky in Icy Audrey, and it began as a swatch for a cowl design, but after I cast on, I realized I wanted to keep going and going and going without a destination.  A few TV shows later, Zoe had a hat. 

And I had my sanity back.   

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Just add a little of each to the bowl when you're mixing.
In case you can't see, that's bourbon and cointreau.

(Just for you, Diana --  no eggs!)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

 I wanted to tell you about a fundraiser that Steven Ambrose of Bitches Get Stitches is working on for this year's  World Aids Day,  which falls on December 1.  You may remember Steven from my earlier Rhinebeck post, as he's the brains behind Nips With Steven - where he photo-essays any Rhinebeckians who are game enough to pose with his bottle of booze -  and he's a thoroughly entertaining blogger in general.   But he's also doing some good deeds out in the world when not photographing drunken knitters and knitting or blogging. 

 Last year, he organized a fundraising contest for the Pittsburgh Aids Task Force and raised just under $5,000 to help them with their work, and this year he's decided to help the Lansing Area Aids Network in the same manner.

Straight from Steven's blog, here's the HOW:

1. on december 1st, click this link to visit the lansing area aids network website and make a donation via paypal. the suggested minimum donation is $40, the cost of one rapid hiv test. however, i know $40 is a lot money for a lot of people (myself included). since i don’t want to discourage anyone from making a donation they can afford, all donations will be accepted, even if it’s only $1.

2. shoot me an email at with your contact information and the amount you donated. the details of your personal information will be kept confidential. this is so i can keep track of the total as it grows, and so i can make sure you get your prize.

3. winners will be chosen at random. it could be you!
the fine bold print:

*entries will only be accepted on world aids day itself (dec 1st)! this means 12:00am – 11:59pm is your 24 hour window to make a donation and send me an email to be entered to win some loot. i’m in the eastern standard time zone here people, so my giveaway is too!
And, since I posted this a bit before I should have, if you have already made a donation because I didn't have all the information yet, email Steven at and he'll enter you.  My bad for posting too early!

The prize page is here, and there's some fabulous stuff on it.  Patterns, yarns, books, bags... take a peek!

So while you're being Thankful for all you have this season, maybe throw a little extra karma out there into the world towards Lansing - and you may walk away with something pretty awesome, in addition to the feeling that you did a nice thing.

And if you're a BabyCocktails fan, there are 5 packs of 4 BabyCocktails patterns of your choice in the mix.  Just sayin'

Have a great holiday!!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Just checking in as I have a half hour before running out.   

Sometimes I find that a half hour is just enough time to waste, and not enough time to get anything done, you  know?  So here I am, posting instead of doing one of the thousand other things that might be a better idea. 

Anyways,  since this weekend was already hugely packed with Stuff,  one of my oldest and favorite-est friends who lives far away was in town for a conference.   As luck would have it, she could stop by and spend the night on Friday and I could send Craig to help with Oklahoma wardrobe for the Friday show and miss the performance, since Maya was third cowhand from the left in that one.  Phew.

So I got to hang out with her and we  made these. 

Pear-Lavender Gin and Tonics

2 oz gin
2 oz of pear nectar ( Goya pear nectar comes in a single soda-sized can at your supermarket)
Add ice to glass
fill remainder of glass with tonic water
add 2 shakes of lemon bitters and stir
add a slice of lemon to the top
and last, take a few lavender petals and crush them in your fingers, sprinkle on top
 (culinary lavender is at any fancy supermarket, or a Savory or Penzey's if you're lucky to have one nearby!)

 We had them in front of the fire and spent the night catching up till Maya got back and filled us in on the first performance.   It was another Girls Gone Mild Evening, and it was great.

Friday, November 16, 2012


Most of the activity in the house for the last and next few days revolves around Oklahoma! (where the wind goes whistling down the plain).  I can sing most the songs from the movie by now, since Maya scored the lead role and has been crooning around the house for weeks.   

She's the one in the pretty frock, above in one of the show's  awesomely posed PR pics.  It's hard to recognize her all girly, but there she is and I am dyyyying to see her do her thing this weekend.   I've seen a little during the dress rehearsal and was already a puddle of proud parental tears.  We'll be going to all the performances -- two in actual seats and two backstage, since it's a cooperative theater and many jobs must be done.  

And of course, we will be hosting various grandparents and friends who are coming out for the event and staying through to Thanksgiving, so it's kind of like our holiday begins this weekend and continues onto next.   Our guest list has gone down a bit though, and is hovering at 15.  Very do-able.    I love all 15 of them dearly, and am looking forward to all of it.

Behind those all important happenings,  I've just finished my Sunshine Yarns cowl and am really happy it.  The undulating stitch pattern gives this cowl  an amazing drape, and I love how the lace is sometimes hidden, sometimes not.   I am going to let the pattern sit for the next week, since I have no bandwith to catch any mistakes right now -  and hope to release the week after Thanksgiving.   

But in the meantime, if you have a skein of Sunshine merino sport lying (225 yds) around, you may want to wind it into a cake.


In addition to the cowl-making and play preparation, I have also just finished the pattern materials on that white sweater, which many of you have been asking about.   Still a secret, sorry!  (unless you witnessed a certain group photo shoot at Rhinebeck ;)  Anyways, the collection that it is going to be a part of won't be coming out until next Fall, and I promise to let you know all about it then!


For upcoming knits, I am working my way towards colorwork on the gray sweater, still playing with the brown and purple skeins I showed you last week, have begun work on the collaborative project I mentioned,  and just got this in the mail a few days ago.   ARAN.  Yep, ARAN.


So, the drinks around here have been the pre-made kind.  And they are very good.

Happy weekend!  I'll check back in before Thanksgiving with a Pre-Turkey cocktail for you guys.