Tuesday, February 28, 2012

 I spent the last day of February Break in Salem, with my two girls, a knitterly friend, and her adorable baby.  

And since you always have to meet up with your knitting friends in the nearest yarn shop, we spent a little time in Seed Stitch.  Seed Stitch is one of those cozy yarn shops with exposed brick walls, a big comfy sofa and magazines on every table.  It just needs a coffee window and you could spend the day.  It didn't hurt that the owner's daughter was behind the counter and exactly Zoe's age either.   It may have been a long day in the shop, since little Maisie had already made a blanket fort out of the sofa and a sample knit or two.  Zoe was happy to climb on in, and I was able to sniff around the store.

We all know I don't need a single skein of yarn right now, but I did need these vintage buttons.  Our lunch was tasty, the girls loved the museum, we saw a Taylor Lautner lookalike (wearing a very small loincloth) do a few tribal dances, the baby was charming, and we even hit a magic shop.  It was a good day for everyone, although I have no drink to share, since it's a drive away.

Now that break is over, I'm working busily on this spring design.  After a few weeks in limbo, it's finally flying off the needles.  The yarn is the Plucky Knitter's new MCN Sport, in this lovely shade of brown, called Lincoln. I am a bit in love with this color, which is coppery and rustic, like old pennies.  With a tan and a tank top and old shorts, I have high hopes.

Plus, I already have the perfect name/drink for it...  Charleston Tea.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

  This is Ann Weaver's new  Munch Shawl pattern.   

  She was wearing hers the last time I saw her, and I've been playing with shawl construction lately, so she asked if I wanted to give the pattern a test prior to the release, and yes I did.   It felt great to knit someone else's design for a change, and the miles of stockinette were great for a few social evenings without worrying about making a mistake!

The design is very simple, but totally brilliant.   Ann's added these little "wings" to the ends of the shawl that drape down when hanging out, and stay put when wrapped over a shoulder.  Yes, they really do stay put.  I even washed dishes in it -- I had such faith, and it was too cozy to take off, truth be told.    It's the perfect size for free hands and warm shoulders.  

The design itself is great mindless knitting once set up, and the perfect excuse to knit up a batch of stash!  I've had this bunch of Kathmandu Tweeds for years - not exactly enough for a sweater, but definitely enough for a big wrap or scarf.   Because I used stash, my stripes didn't match Ann's intended pattern stripes (I had to improvise, and I ran out of a few colors), but I like the final combination, and am proud to have used these up without purchasing more yarn.   (If I had purchsed yarn, I think I'd have made thinner,darker stripes, but I was trying to conserve purple and had a lot of light green to go through.)

Either way, I think with a white shirt and jeans, it'll get worn.  And when MadMen and Game of Thrones start up in the next few months, I'm all set for my soft and cozy TV wrap.  So, not only to I have a new scarf, but I've learned a new method of wrap construction, used up some stash, and had an extra excuse to chat with Ann on the internet.   A great knit!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

  The good thing about a vacation-less break is time to get a few things done.  Both girls had friends here yesterday, so they were happy to be ignored.   I decided that any exercise or housecleaning wasn't going to happen, so my day was free and clear for knitting progress. 


This project began when Hayley and Sarah came out to visit in January, and Hayley wore a great pair of  lacy legwarmers just peeking out of the tops of her boots.  We discussed and planned.  A little slouchy, a little cabley... And a week or so later, some Plucky Sport in this lovely shade of Bisque arrived in the mail.  I think Bisque will look great sticking out of any kind of leather, and can be layered on almost any color of stocking, so I kind of love this color.  As of yesterday, this pair is looking pretty done.  The knitting is finished, the ends are woven, the chart is complete and the pattern is almost all written.  I just need a name, and the idea of Verner's is really sticking in my head.   It seems a fitting time to name something for the Dimond girls and their family - and Verner's is something I very much associate with them.  So we'll see where that goes, and suggestions are always appreciated.

With that in my pocket, I turned to Charleston Tea over here.  It's the beginnings of a spring hoodie,  finally out of the notebook and on the needles.  This one's been giving me a run for my money.  Some projects are just that way - the sketch had been done, the math had been figured, and the motifs had all been swatched,  but for some reason, the casting on wasn't happening and the details kept changing in my head.  Putting this here or that there changes things, so I couldn't cast on until I knew I had a plan I wasn't going to revise again.

But, a little free time yesterday... and I think I like where I ended up, so I cast on and have enough done to think I'm not about to frog for a new plan just yet.  The yarn is again Plucky Sport, and this colorway is called Lincoln. ( Like a copper penny!)

All that work, and I definitely deserved some company and a drink, so I decided it was time for one of MY friends to come over.   That's  Ashley sitting behind those glasses in the stripey scarf.   She's someone I used to work and hang out with waaaaay back in my post college, single ad agency days in San Francisco (20 years ago??).  And she just happens to live a few blocks away and happens to have a daughter just Zoe's age.  And she appreciates a good cocktail. (She's partial to St. Germain, truth be told)  Kismet, yes?

Anyways, we had these last night and they were definitely good enough to share, so... 


Ginger-Orange-Basil Drink

2 oz of orange vodka (or plain vodka with a good squeeze of orange and a slice tossed in)
2-3 basil leaves muddled in the glass with the vodka and some ice cubes
pour in most of a can of  ginger beer
add a few drops of orange bitters


Not sure what today will bring, but I'm guessing some progress on Charleston Tea and another drink by dinnertime.

Monday, February 20, 2012

  So far, we're 3 days into February Break.  For those of you lucky enough to have actual plans, this may mean skiing or a trip somewhere beachy and warm.   That was us last year, not so much right now.  This year, it's me and the girls here at home for 9 days straight.  We have a jaunt to Salem planned,  haircuts for everyone, some kid playdates, and I do hope to work on some knitting.  The excitement is less than palpable, and we have to fill our days somehow until school starts up again.  So, I have a few drinks for you.

 The first is courtesy of the Wall Street Journal, who ran a full page story on how to make a Manhattan.   This kept us busy for one night, along with a few terrible made-for-TV SyFy disaster movies (Stonehenge Apocolypse, anyone?) 

The paper ran sort of a mix and match menu:  1. pick a whiskey, 2. choose a vermouth, 3. throw some bitters in it.  
We have a good selection of all three, so it led to a few combinations and a "try this" kind of night.

In the "4 tips for a Better Manhattan" section, they added the following:

1. always stir, never shake
2. invest in better cherries (this does make a difference!)
3. give it a twist (see below - this is always an excuse to make another citrus drink afterwards)
 4.  chill your glasses before filling them.


All good advice for a tasty drink.   
And a good way to watch a really BAD movie.

 So that was one night down....   

Sunday, we decided to go up to Maine for a little impromptu visit with old friends.  Waiting to meet them, I  had one of these Monty Python beers, which was surprisingly good.  (The label says it's tempered over burning witches).  While waiting, I also watched the bartender whip up a few Pabst Blue Ribbon and Tangs, which were just scary.  But apparently popular, because she made three in the time it took me to have this beer and wait for our table to be ready. 
Back at the house there were a few more drinks - also worth sharing.  Our friends like their liquor clear - and vodka is a fave over there.  We brought this Ruby Red Vodka and Squamsco half and half soda, from the Route 95 New Hampshire Liquor Store (never drive past without stopping in!  It's tax free :-))  The soda is half grapefruit, half lemon and not too sweet, so it was perfect for mixing.  They were good and definitely worth trying if you happen to have either of these things lying around.  I think Whole Foods may carry the same soda or ones just like it, as I imagine it'll be hard to track this one down.
Zoe is not having one of these.  She's having milk and a brownie in the background, yes,with earmuffs.  It's cold in Maine.

On the way back today, we realized another day was yawning out in front of us, so we killed a few hours at dim sum.  Although not a cocktail, you do have to see these guys.  Little fried melon snacks.    Who knew?

6 more days to go.   Am sure more drinks will follow soon!

Monday, February 13, 2012

It was a busy weekend, full of 8 year old girls and sleepover fun (for some of us).   

The rest of us were glad that the house has two TVs and a lot of French doors, which keep a surprising amount of noise at bay!  I had a couple of simple projects on the needles for distraction purposes.  They included this little number, which is going somewhere in an envelope today.  It will pop up elsewhere on the internet sometime in the nearish future.  How's that for non-informational?

Luckily, the other two projects on my needles are in easy phases, as this week will see alot of receipt gathering, a bit of printing, and some excel chart making, in preparation for  my annual visit to the tax guy.  Complicated by moving and mortgages and all kinds of fun and dreary mathematical stuff.  

But rest assured, those Plucky Sport legwarmers are half knit and three-quarters written.  And I do love them!  Pics soon. 

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Introducing Chambord,  a cozy pullover for late winter. 

This sweater has a drapey cowl, a beautiful cable and deep ribbed details along the edges.  It's knit in a soft tweed and is meant to be worn with a little tee shirt peeking out below.   It's a very classic sweater that would go with almost anything. 

All photos by Caro Sheridan and used with permission, 2012 Splityarn!
The shaping is engineered to hide that bit of late winter weight we all seem to notice by February.  With that in mind, the length is shorter, the fit a little looser, and the ribbing begins higher, and then angles slightly away from the body.   Other details, such as the cowl, cable and cuffs, draw the eye away from the tummy and give balance to the shorter silhouette.  

The outer cable is one I saw a while ago on a friend's thrift shop sweater and loved.  It did take me a few tries to get a version of it that I liked, but I'm happy with this one, even if it's not so much the same as the original.....   It's worked on a stockinette background, which allows it to blend into the body of sweater along the outside edges.   This less distinct quality is kind of perfect in the Felted Tweed.  

The sweater is designed top down, so if you are lucky enough not to have a tummy to hide, or just feel a different shape is more flattering on your body, it's easy to alter the length or the width as you like, and try the sweater on as you go.  A few of my test knitters did play with proportion, and you can see their sweaters on the project page once they post their photos.

If subbing yarn, almost any aran weight tweed would look lovely, but I suggest one with a nice drape and some softness, so the cowl will feel good on your neck.  A soft aran weight merino, like Sublime's Merino Silk Aran would be gorgeous.  Berroco Ultra Alpaca would also work well, or a subtle heather or hand dyed yarn.   I'd stay away from anything stiff or scratchy, or too vareigated, as the cables would be lost.   Do check gauge if you are subbing!

The pattern is available on the sidebar above or on Ravelry for $6.50.   
A few details are below and more can be found on the Ravelry page here:
Yarn:  Rowan Felted Tweed, Aran in Plum  
Sizing:  32(34,36,38,40,42,44,46,48,50) 
Yardage: 850(900,950,1000,1050,1100,1150,1200,1250,1300) yds.
Needles:  #8/5mm and #9/5.5mm.  I suggest long circs for the body and DPNs for the arms


As for a drink, I experimented with Chambord a bit and think it's best simply in champagne.   It tends to remind me of cough syrup in a lot of the recipes, so maybe I'm just not a fan, but in champagne, it's got a nice balance.

Except the booze pics, which I take myself...
Chambord and Champagne
1.5 oz chambord
add chilled champagne

That's a really easy one, yes? 

Friday, February 03, 2012

Thanks to everyone who "shared" my birthday with me! 

Thanks also for all the lovely birthday wishes in my email and on Ravelry and here.

I hope you all enjoy your new patterns and I cannot wait to see the FOs start popping up soon!!

Happy knitting everyone. 

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Maybe it's because I got such a late start to the season, but here I am in the beginning of February, with about 6 projects I want to get moving on before the end of the winter.  (These are not them.)   And I'm woefully aware that in knitting time, I'm already working on April.  I'm completely torn - do I get going on the spring things or try to bang out the last winter ones?  The compromise so far is a crazy mix of spring and winter knits on the needles at the same time, with a sneaking suspicion that they are not ALL going to make it.  So, to my Australian and New Zealander friends, get ready, because I'll be putting out the tweeds in May for you.  Or, maybe I'm looking at it all wrong and should be considering myself extra prepared for Next Fall. 

Regardless, these three projects are almost, almost, almost ready to go, and will show up on Ravelry in the next month or so.   Photos will be taken this weekend, and with any luck, the purple one will post next week.

For anyone wondering, the next drinks on the menu are Chambord,  St. Germain, and Vodka Lemonade.  In that order.