Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Thanks for all the comments on that last post!  I'm happy to see that you guys are still out there, given the lack of reasons to come back and read lately.   In the spirit of trying to fix that though, a little update on what's on the needles as we coast into vacation over here.  It turns out I've been working with a theme, and I didn't even realize it. 

Did you ever go shopping and when you got home, saw that all the the things you bought were striped?  Or seem to fall in the same color palate?  Well, I went into my office and realized that many of the yarn groupings and projects were mixed colors.  I'm having a little trouble committing to just one at a time. It's not a bad thing, but it's definitely a thing.

This project is the one I just finished.  It's knit in 3 colors - Blueberry Sour, Miniature Lilacs and Princess Phone - in Plucky Primo Worsted. It was my atttempt at a little free-form colorwork.  I had picked a motif and brought the yarn along over Thanksgiving to see where it went, so I could practice the proper way to do stranded colorwork (learning the RIGHT finger positions and such, thank you Mary Jane Mucklestone!).  And this is where it went.

Currently on the needles is the project below -  in Plucky Primo Aran.  It's a combination of Gris and Medieval, and it's going to eventually be a two-color cardigan.    The pattern there is unblocked, so you can't really tell if it's lace or cables or both, and I'm going to keep it under wraps for now.   But I love these two grays together.  

Up next are these three skeins on my chair.   They are a combination of Jill Draper's Hudson in a gorgeous pale blue and purple, and they are about to be knit into a textured, ribbed motif that I love in a sweater of Zoe's.  I just have to figure out how I want to work it and then how I want to use it in a big, chunky cowl.  I'm kind of psyched to play with this, and have been ever since she bought that  little sweater.   Always fun to see where the inspiration comes from...

There's more, but I have much to do and want to leave you with a drink recipe.  Staying with my theme of mixing things, this is a sangria recipe I found on a blog called Pretty Plain Jane's.  She called it a Fall Sangria, but I think it's pretty perfect mid winter too.   (This is her photo, since it's much nicer than mine...)

2 apples (honeycrisp) chopped up into slices.  She peeled hers.  I didn't.
750 ml bottle of chardonnay
1/2 cup of peach brandy
1/4 cup honey
2 oranges, 1 quartered
1 lemon, sliced
1 lime sliced
2 cinnamon sticks
2 slices of ginger - each about the size of a quarter 
3 whole cloves
2 tblspoons sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
club soda

In a pitcher, combine the chardonnay,brandy and honey.  Mix.  Add all fruir except 1 apple and 1 orange (save those for now).  Add cinammon sticks, ginger and clove. Refrigerate overnight.

Next day, strain liquid into pitcher and add the second apple.   On a small plate, combine cinnamon sugar and rim glasses.

Place rimmed glasses on table with remaining chopped apple and orange, bucket of ice and soda water.   To serve, add ice to each glass, pour sangria mixture in, and top with club soda.  Garnish with the a little of the second chopped apple and orange when you are done.   


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Again, there has been a bit of blog silence around  here.   But you get busy and something has got to give, right?  Apparently it's the blog.  I promise it's not the actual knitting - that keeps going at a steady hum in the background.  

In fact, I've knit the sweater below twice in the last month or so.  Picked up the needles with a vague plan and paid the price again.  Old dog, old tricks.

I bought this gorgeous alpaca - merino - silk single ply at the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool last year, because I just had to.  It's called Lyra, and is from Ball and Skein.   And it's soooo cool.

Ball and Skein is always one of my favorite festival booths, and Judy always has really wonderful stuff, but this yarn was just so different - it's soft and hazy and almost ethereal.  I had to grab some, though I had no idea what I wanted to do with it.  The important word there is "some"-  since I bought  just UNDER a sweater's worth, in a color that no longer exists.   (Think, Thea!!)

Looking at it this fall, I decided it needed to be a "going out" sweater, so I sketched and cast on and began.  Then, as I got halfway up the project and realized I was going to run out of yarn, I sheepishly called Judy.  She sent me an actual sweater's worth in an actual colorway and I began again.

Honestly, I love knitting with this yarn so much that knitting two (ok, almost two) sweaters was kind of OK with me.  I'm writing the pattern up now, with hopes to release it just before Slater Mill's Knitting Weekend in mid January, since Judy will be there with me, and I'm betting she'll have some Lyra on hand.  So, even without a plan, it still worked out, but that was my bad.  Designer should know better.

And that's not the only re-knit around here.   See that blue cardigan, folded on the floor in the corner there?  I was not so far through this one when we decided to redirect the yarn choice there as well.  Instead of bright blues, I'm now looking at Primo Aran in some of Sarah's gorgeous Plucky grays.  Much more versatile.  And going on the needles next.  Both projects worked out fine and maybe they even needed to evolve as they did, but...

As I work through these two, plus the various swatches and piles in my office I AM thinking about making a real plan for next year.  A list of sorts, spaced out over the months. Balancing different types of yarn and knits so I can work a variety of designs and can plan on the colors/yarns/quantities beforehand.  It's hard, when the process is so organic and things either do or don't gel together, but maybe I can shop and plan a little more effectively if my chalkboard goes farther than the few upcoming things on the needles and drawn in the sketchpad.  It's worth a try, right?

I do have some fun ideas in mind and have started a whiteboard with some new directions on it -- a few projects for the men in our lives, and a couple of things for the kids. Another e-book or two.  I may lay off on the summer sweaters in favor of more accessories since I am LOVING making those up and have a small pile on the desk already that need writing. 

These are just thoughts though, and I'm doing it all for you guys, so... now is a good time for any of you with requests to hop in.

Is there something you're dying to knit next year?  Something you have been hoping I'd do?  There's a thread in my Ravelry group where we've done this before, but how about a little blog conversation about what's next?  What do you want to knit, what do you want to see, what haven't you tried, what have you been LOOKING for and not finding?  Links, comments, suggestions, all of it are welcome!

Talk to me, people - I'm all ears!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Introducing my latest collaboration with the Plucky Knitter -  Brandied Cherry!

Brandied Cherry is my version of the classic drop shoulder sweater, and it's cozy and soft and loose and cabled.  I wanted to lose some of the boxiness that's often associated with this type of construction and make something a little different, a bit more feminine, and a lot more detailed than the usual suspects.  

So, a varied mix of cables and ribs ensures that the sweater will skim your curves just a bit, while remaining loose and easy.  A repeat of slender cables and single ribs plays off of more complex motifs featured on the front, back, and sleeves -- centering the focus and keeping your knitting interesting.  It's still a loose sweater, but the vertical details are defined as they fall on your body and they create some lovely, flattering lines.


A modified drop shoulder adds a little extra shaping, and a deeply curved ballet neckline is another feminine touch. 

Seaming is simple, since you are working with mostly straight lines and the ribs allow you to see your edges clearly.  As always, there are places where you can modify your sweater for side shaping, length, width, or even a different neckline depth, and I've pointed them out in the instructions. 

Lastly, the Plucky Cozy is just perfect in this. I may be deeply in love with this stuff - and in the chicken-egg way of things, the yarn came first this time.  I saw it and loved it and had to knit with it.  

Cozy is a decadent mix of baby camel and merino that's unlike almost any other yarn I've used.  With some kind of plucky magic, Sarah has created a fiber that looks thick and substantial but feels surprisingly light and delicate.  A dream to knit with.  Again, I'm a bit biased, but I am a FAN.  

But, there's more than one amazing Plucky yarn out there. So we had a sample knit up in Primo Aran as well.  The Aran is also gorgeous in the cables and lovely to wear.


For anybody paying attention, that means I have TWO of these.  But it's a good thing we knit the second one up, because although the two sweaters are spot on for gauge lying flat -- when worn, they fit differently.  The lightness of the Cozy makes for very little drape, and allows for extra ease.  In Primo (and many other yarns), you don't want that ease.  Be sure to read the notes for the type of yarn you choose when picking your size and you will be all set, either way.

By the way, I love them both :)

For those of you with yarn in hand, the pattern is available for $6.50 on the Pattern Page here at the blog, or you can find it on Ravelry.   Test knits and more details can be seen on the Rav page.

For those of you who want to get your hands on a sweaters worth of Plucky Cozy or Primo Aran to knit yours in,  Sarah is having an update on Tuesday November 26th at 8pm EST, on the Plucky Knitter Blog.  More information can be found on the Plucky Knitter blog or in the Plucky Ravelry group if you are unsure how these updates go.

If you purchase a kit, you are buying a sweaters worth of either Cozy or Primo Aran, custom dyed in one of these gorgeous colorways, just for you!  You'll also receive a coupon code via email (about 24-48 hours after the update) that will allow you to purchase your Brandied Cherry pattern from Ravelry for the special kit price of $4.00.

Note that the yarn is dyed just for you, and takes a little time.  It will ship around January 6th.  The update will be live as long as inventory remains and Sarah works hard to have as much yarn as possible on hand!  A few important sweater details are below, and the rest of the info can be found on the Ravelry page.


Yarn:  The Plucky Knitter Cozy, 260 yds per skein, 110 grams per skein.  Primo Aran, 200 yds per skein, 110 grams per skein.  1250(1350,1450,1550,1650) (1750,1850,1950,2050) yards

Needles: US#8/5mm and US#7/4.5mm needles.

Sizing:  35(37,41,43,47)(49,53,55,59)” Size based on final blocked fabric laid flat.  Sweater shown with approx. 7” of ease in Cozy.  If using Primo Aran, pick a size with about 4" of ease.

Gauge:  Width of 7 stitch repeat of the single cable/twisted rib repeat in pattern = 1.5”, 7 rows per 1”.  Gauge calculated after blocking.


And of course, there's a drink! Luxardo Cherry Liqueur seems about right for this sweater. 

To be honest, my favorite way to have this stuff is over ice cream, but in the spirit of the knitting - cocktail blog, below are two different ways to use it in a proper drink.   

One's cool and lemony and refreshing:


1.5 oz of gin
2 tsp of cherry liqueur
.5 oz lemon juice
1 tsp creme de violette

Shake gin, liqueur and lemon juice in jigger with ice.  Strain into martini glass and add creme de violette, garnish with lemon twist. 

And the other is a little deeper and smoother:


2 oz dark rum
.5 oz cherry liqueur
2 shakes of orange bitters

Add ingredients to glass and stir with 1 ice cube.  Garnish with orange twist. 


Thursday, November 21, 2013

I figure it's about time I added some booze back into the rotation around here, so I've been trolling the internets for a few holiday recipes to share before the time is upon us.  One of my favorite things to do when I have a big family dinner is to start with a big bowl of punch.  And I love using my knitting universe-provided punch bowl ;) 

Thanks again Barbara!  (In creating that link and finding the picture, it was fun to look back at the old blog post.  We were moving into this house and my kitchen was in the works, and my office was still paneled, and a bathtub is visible back there, living in my living room as it did all summer.  Plus, it looks like I was working on Vodka Gimlet....)

Anyways, this recipe comes from Martha Stewart.  It's surprisingly easy, really pretty and promises to make for a fun family dinner.   I have pirated her photo, complete with  Smoked Trout Toasts - but I plan on making just the beverage.  Feel free to google the Trout Toasts if you are in the mood.

Amaretto Bourbon Punch


5 cups of seltzer
4 cups of bourbon
2 cups of lemon juice (about 16 lemons, thanks Martha)
2 cups of sparkling apple juice
1 cup simple syrup (I'd go with about 3/4 though and add if you want more sweet)
3/4 cup amaretto
ice cubes
lemon slices and maraschino cherries for garnish


Combine seltzer, bourbon, apple and lemon juices, simple syrup and amaretto in a giant punch bowl. Add ice.   Garnish with lemon slices and cherries.

She's added a rim of sugar as well, but it wasn't included in the main recipe page.  I think you could leave that off for a big dinner - esp since you may be having appetizers while sipping this one.


I have a few more recipes I've pulled and will share them as the days go by (and add them to the recipe page).  Things on the blog have been a bit quiet, maybe some cocktails are what's needed? 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

a little later in December.

(sorry, but short blog posts are better than nothing, right?)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Next Week.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I find that hats are a little like potato chips, and it's really hard to stop with just one - so when The Plucky Knitter sent me a two skeins of her Primo Worsted in this gorgeous pink called Plie, I immediately knew it was time for a double hat pattern.

2 Glasses of Pink Zin - Kinda perfect  as we roll into November - two gifts for the giving.  If you're Jewish, there's still time to eke these babies out before Thanksgivmukkah and for those of you who celebrate the rest of the holidays, you still have weeks ahead of you -- so you can make two for gifts and one for your own head.

In coming up with the designs, the lovely pink not only dictated the name of the pattern, but the look and feel of the hats as well.  They had to be delicate and a little feminine.

The First Glass is a cozy cabled hat that can be worn deep and flat with a little slouch, or if you want, you can fold the brim up and wear it as a more traditional cap.

The cables are intricate and varied, and the crown is fun to work.  I used the twisted ribs as "seams" that the other stitches eventually disappear into.

The Second Glass plays with the slipped stitch motif I used in my Silver Gin Fizz, but this time the slipped stitches are used sparingly, in a delicate offset pattern.   This hat has a narrower brim and a slouchier fit than its cabled sister, and this one is very easy to modify for size, since the repeat is a simple 3-st repeat.

My favorite detail in the second hat is the crown decrease, where the last slipped stitch disappears, leaving just the single ribs to meet in the center.

The 2 Glasses of Pink Zin pattern is available for $6.50.  You can find it on my pattern page here or or go straight to Ravelry to download it.  Some of the details are below and the rest of them are on the Ravelry page.

Yarn:  2 skeins Plucky Knitter Primo Worsted, shown in Plie.  Each hat uses about 175 yards.

Needles/Notions:  US #5/3.25mm and US#7/4.5mm 16" circular needles and DPNs in larger size for crown.  Darning needle and stitch marker. 

Size:  to fit around a 20" head. 

Gauge:  5 sts/7 rows per 1" in stockinette, blocked.  Specific gauges for each motif  are in pattern.

And thank you to Maya and Hannah, who was a really good sport even though this was so NOT what she came over to our place to do this weekend.  :)

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

She had me with Bashful, but then she introduced Plie.

I'm such a goner.

You'll see more of these next week.  

Sunday, November 03, 2013

A day at the outdoor sculpture museum with some friends and their babies and a bunch of knitwear 

is going to mean some photos.

Maya was dying for me to take these so that she could actually have the sweater that I made for her.  And she couldn't have it until the photos were taken, so she was super cooperative at the museum and worked it like a professional.  Now her job is done and her sweater is her own and she's off with her buddies wearing it again today. 

And she kind of rocks it, so although you guys know I'm usually just teasing you with shots that don't show a thing before I get the sweaters finished,  I don't mind ONE BIT if you see these while I'm still writing.  The yarn, since a few of you have asked is Valley Yarns Berkshire Bulky from WEBS.

And btw -- there are a few details that you can't see in these shots, so I still have some secrets.

In addition to Maya's sweater and Black Tea hat, this design got some photo love at the museum.

My friend Margaux - who you guys probably know as Tentenknits - made this colorblock beauty, called the Kendi sweater. She'd already wore it to Rhinebeck, but it was in need of a proper photoshoot. 

And we thought it would look pretty cool with this neon installation on the roofdeck atrium.

It was kind of like a human carwash.  She has a whole bunch of photos, so stay tuned and I'm sure they will pop up soon on her blog.  Except the ones with the dancing.  The fringe makes you think disco, it does.  But she may decide to keep those to herself...

Besides that, it was a weekend full of pumpkin beers that needed post-Halloween finishing and a few of these.  These are good - and worth trying!

I don't think they have a name, since we kind of made them up.  They may exist somewhere, but we invented them based on what was in the cupboard.  It's a ginger-lemon-bourbon thing that turned out REALLY well on Friday when my friend Cristina stopped by.   She's the one that introduced me to the good ginger liquor that's in it, so it was fitting that she was my tester :) 

2 oz bourbon
1.5 oz Domaine de Canton ginger liquor
2 shakes lemon bitters
slice of lemon, and a good squeeze of juice
lemon seltzer

Put the bourbon, ginger liquor, bitters, lemon juice and slice in glass and stir around. 
Add 3 ice cubes
Fill with about 4 oz of lemon seltzer.

And that purple stuff next to the drink?  That's a single ply DK from Ball and Skein called Lyra.  It's an alpaca, merino and silk mix and it's just beautifully dyed in a thousand vareigated shades of purple.  I don't usually play with yarn like this, but I am loving it.

You will see more of this soon -- after I finish writing up Maya's sweater... first things first, yes?

Hope you guys had a good weekend too!

And PS - It's November, and as promised, the With A Splash Of designs are now all available as single downloads on Ravelry for those of you who did not want to purchase the whole collection.  All 7 designs are now also listed as single PDFs for $6.00.   And the collection is still available as well if you do want them all for $21.00.  Happy Holiday Knitting!!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

I'm still going with September Morn, because I kind of love the name with for this new sweater design of mine.  The photos are all leafy and the light near the lake was hazy that morning, and the sweater is the prettiest pale green and it all just goes together in my head.

And since I'm the sweater knitter and the sweater namer and the blog writer around here, and nobody else gets to say "No, it's October", the name is staying. 

September Morn is a simple, versatile pullover with a generous cowl neck, a great deal of stockinette, and a few fun details.  In designing this one, I was really thinking about all the Vodka Lemonade knitters out there who have told me that they really appreciate a classic sweater shape with a little bit of unexpected detail.

With that in mind, I made sure that September Morn would feature lots of stockinette for easy knitting, but I have added a few spots where attention could be paid and a few new techniques can be learned.   Nothing intimidating, just enough to keep you thinking ;)  Like the detail on the sleeve - that ribbing that goes to just above the elbows was the starting point for the whole design this time.   Easy, but kinda different, right?

And it looks pretty with the ribbing along the raglan seams and sleeves.

I also added a little delicate texture down around the cuffs and hem.

And I made sure that September Morn would feature top down construction since that's the other thing that you guys love about your Vodka Lemonades.  So any shaping or modifications for your size are a piece of cake, and instructions are included in the pattern, as always.  You can play with the depth and width of the cowl, adjust the fit at any part of your body, or alter the length of sleeves and body as you please.

The yarn is Shalimar Yarn's Enzo Worsted, a soft and delicate merino-cashmere-nylon mix that the lovely Kristi dyes up and offers in a rainbow of colors.  I loved this pale greenish gray, which is called Silver Sage - it's a little unexpected, and still works like a versatile neutral with jeans or cords or a skirt.


The pattern alone is available HERE for $6.50 on my blog patterns page and all the details and test knits are on Ravelry.    You can purchase a kit with both pattern and yarn through Shalimar HERE.  Kits will go on sale on Wednesday, Oct 30 at 12 noon EST  and be available as long as supplies last -- and that link will be live when the kits are up.

A few details on the sweater are below and the rest of the information is on the Ravelry page:

Yarn:  Shalimar Yarns Enzo Worsted  (235 yds per skein)  Shown in Silver Sage
Needles:  US#7/4.5 mm and US#8/5mm needles - or size to get gauge
Gauge:  5 st, 7 rows per 1" in stockinette.  Based on blocked fabric.
Sizing:  32.5(35.5,37.25,39.5,42.5)(44.75,48,52,54.5) finished width at bust.  Melissa is wearing my sweater with 2.5" of ease.
Yardage:  1050(1150,1250,1350,1450)(1550,1650,1850,1950) 


The cocktail for this one is easy too.

Fresh juice from a half lemon (lime works too)
1 tsp grenadine
1 egg white
1.5 oz light rum
ice cubes

Shake all ingredients in a shaker and strain into glass.


Monday, October 28, 2013

September Morn.  Later this week.

Monday, October 21, 2013

As always, an amazing time with some of my favorite people ever. 

More favorite people.   I didn't take enough photos of the people.  There are so many more.

We've come to call this Ravelry Hill.  Best sweater watching ever.   I see Emily's orange Beekman Tavern in the distance here, and it looks like the crowd is gathering for the big noon meetup.

One of my favorite parts of the weekend is meeting all of you.  It's amazing. This is Lynne, in her lovely Cape Cod.  Seeing my designs in person, on the actual knitters who made then, is just such a thrill.  Sometimes I know immediately who the Raveler is, like with Lynne here - she looks JUST like she does in her avatar (pookiebb).  And sometimes it's just a total surprise and the sweater is a new gorgeous knit I didn't even know existed and I gasp - like when I ran up to the woman in the crazy beautiful yellow Chocolate Stout because I just HAD to.  That yellow.   I don't have a photo, but trust me.  That yellow.  I may have scared her a little.

The flask came in handy, and this turned into a round of cider instead of a photoshoot - sitting where the rainbow wall used to be.  I loved that wall.  But even without it, the 4H booth is still manned by adorable teenagers and the cider is great.  Especially when you toss a little something into it.

Back to the favorite people .  There was a Plucky moment with my buddy Amy Miller.

And my amazing group of housemates.  Such a great combination of women.  

The weekend started off nice and mellow, with a little Thursday down time on our peaceful porch. 

with this view across the street.   And like, one car every hour.  Maybe.  So peaceful.

However, in the country, you must check your feet.  We had an episode.

Coming in early also means a day in town and some boot shopping. 

And when you bring in the city - a little attitude from the badass city folk.   (I know this one's a tangent, but I like the photo so much I had to post it)

Lastly, both of my Rhinebeck Sweaters in one shot!  Emily was a test knitter for Ysolda and did a gorgeous version of my  Beekman Tavern,  I am wearing Brandied Cherry, which the rest of you will see in about a month. 

Of course, a few things came home with me - like my Beekman Tavern (yay!!), a sweater's worth of Bartlett Farms in a really unusual pinky gray shade, a few skeins of a gorgeous plum O-Wool, a single skein of Fox Hill Farm Cormo (I may be hooked now), some Jennie the Potter stitch markers and buttons.... and THE BOOK.  

There is something really special about being a part of this project and it's only partially summed up by the photos above.  Already planning for next year.  Thanks to everybody for an amazing weekend and a reminder of how incredibly lucky I am to get to do what I do and to go where I go and call it my career.   Best job ever.