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.