Monday, January 28, 2013

This week is going to be a writing week, so in lieu of actual knitting, how about random photos?

A few Saturdays ago, we had an aimless day on the North Shore.

 Messing around in downtown Newburyport, which is on the water.  It's beautiful and New England-y, with consignment shops, a record store, a great bookstore, some good lunch spots and amazing hot chocolate.  (And Julia, who we didn't see - sorry!)

It also has a good men's shoe store.

 We were in it long enough for me to take the camera out. and shoot artsy boot photos.

She knows how long the manshoe thing can take.

.........and it's taking about that long.

 Maybe even longer.

He had no idea we were taking pics.

Until she photobombed him.  

So pleased with herself


He's eventually unamused by the mockery.

Giving me the California bird.   But,  if you're wondering, nope - he didn't buy ANY shoes.

Friday, January 25, 2013

As promised,  the first in my series of collaborative knitting patterns! 

For those of you who may have missed the last post,  Mixed Drinks is going to be a series of designs.   Each one will focus on a specific element of the knitted piece, translated by myself and another designer.   The element(s) and guest will change each time --  although there may be a few repeat guests, since Amy and I are already plotting a sweater for Fall --  but the goal is to look at the different style and perspective that each of us brings to the table.  


My friend Amy Christoffers of Savory Knitting loves cables, detailed lace, and traditional details - such as shawl collars and leather buttons.   She's know for her perfectly crafted cardigans and effortless accessories, all with the right amount of slouch and the perfect mix of old school and modern elements.   With her talent in classic design and effortless slouch, lace hats seemed like an appropriate first drink for us to share!

Plus, we were together at Rhinebeck, and came across the perfect hat yarn.  We each chose a different Foxfire Cormo blend, in a light fingering weight.   Amy's hat is knit in their Camel Silk in a spicy brown, and I chose an Alpaca Lace in a hazy red for mine.  And I might point out here that I never, ever choose laceweight, but she works with it often and was right.   When doubled, this creates a really lovely fabric for a soft, light and slouchy hat - that still maintains a nice, tight brim.

My Manhattan features a classic twisted rib and lace motif, which gave a rounded, soft shape to the deep slouch.

I had some fun with the shaping along the crown, and created a little unexpected leaf and rib pattern on the back of the hat.  

 I love how the two designs work together - and we had a blast shooting them on the girls, who make a perfect ying and yang.   The blonde is Amanda's daughter Cadence, one of Maya's longtime BFFs.  Amy's Manhattan suited Cade's hip look just perfectly,  with it's deeper shape and great color, and mine was a match for Maya, with her classic earthy style and curls.    

For more photos and details on Amy's hat, check out  her blog, Savory Knitting


Some pattern details are below, and the rest can be found here on Ravelry.  
The Manhattan PDF, with both hat patterns, is for sale on the sidebar to the left or on Ravelry for $6.50. 

Yarn:        Thea’s:  Foxfire Cormo Alpaca Lace (doubled) [70% Cormo Wool, 30% Alpaca], 240 yds/2 skeins. Color: Amaryllis.     
                Amy’s: Foxfire Cormo Camel Silk [90% wool, 5% camel, 5% silk], 180 yds/2 skeins. Color:  Bittersweet.

Needles: Thea’s:  16” US#4/3.5mm circular for ribbing, #6/4mm for the body of the hat.
                Amy’s:  16” US#3/3.25mm circular for ribbing, #5/3.75mm  for the body of the hat.

Sizing:      Thea’s: hat is 18 (21”) around, 9” to crown.  Brim is tighter, but stretches when worn:  16 (18)”
                Amy’s:  hat is 12” to crown, 21” around.   

Gauge:     Thea’s:  Ea rep of lace = just under 3” wide, 3.5” high (larger needle). 1x1 ribbing = 6sts to 1” (smaller needle),blocked
                Amy’s: 24 sts x 30 rows = 4” pattern with larger needle, 26 sts x 32 rows = 4” stockinette with larger needle, blocked.


And the second thing we had a bit of fun collaborating on were the Manhattans themselves!  Her drink will be on her blog.

(Forgive the unintentional pun.  We chose the drink based on the colors of the yarn and the fact that we are both bourbon fans.)

 My Manhattan

2 oz bourbon
dash of angostura bitters
dash of sweet vermouth
orange peel (and a quick squeeze)
2 fancy maraschino cherries (these are  Luxardo cherries, which I got in a Haunkkah Cherry Sampler Pak from Zoe)

All hat and girl photos courtesy of Amanda Johnston, 2013!

Friday, January 18, 2013

So, after publishing Chocolate Stout,  I got a comment from a fellow designer who's coming out with a grandpa-esque cardigan that has a shawl collar and a slouchy fit and some cozy pockets -- kind of like Chocolate Stout, but not exactly.   Hers is actually quite different from mine, but it is definitely the same overall shape and idea.  Since I am not sure how she likes to do things, I will remain mum about her sweater for now, except to say that it is a lovely cardigan.  And that it definitely came from the idea of an Old Man who could have been good friends with the Old Man that was in my head a few months ago.
But the note was well timed, because this is something I have thought alot about in the past couple of years.  

How so many of us do begin with the same nugget in an idea - be it a stitch pattern, a yarn, a collar detail, a sleeve length,  or a sweater shape - but we end up putting our own spin on that idea and seeing the possibilities with different eyes from each other.   Often I will find a cable in one pattern that reminds me of a cable in the other, but the way in which those cables were used each time speaks to a different point of view, and a different way of wearing the cable once it's been translated.  

 I love this piece of our world, and I've been wanting to run with it a little.  Plus, it's an excuse to have some fun with my fellow designers and do something where we collaborate a bit.   

Soon I'll be publishing the first in a series of "Mixed Drink" patterns.


In which Amy Christoffers and I play with lace hats together. 


Photo by Amanda Johnston, and thanks to Maya and Cade for taking a hike in the woods with us!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

 Introducing Chocolate Stout, another collaboration with the Plucky Knitter.  It's a new take on the Grandpa Sweater, since Sarah and I fully embrace the idea of Old Man as a style icon.   Allover texture, a few fun details, waist shaping, a modified dropped shoulder and a gorgeous, sophisticated yarn take the old fashioned classic and make it modern.  

The allover cable texture is gorgeous in Plucky's Rustic yarn, and adds a undeniable coziness to the entire sweater.  The Rustic is soft and round and it takes texture like a champ.  The motif is a simple twisted cable repeat, that has just enough detail to showcase a subtly vareigated yarn without being lost in translation.   Plus, it works perfectly when paired with deep 1x1  ribbing.

Ribbing that shows up along the hems, on the collar, and in the arm shaping.

 Pockets also play off of the ribbing, and are accented by smallish leather buttons. 

Bigger, matching buttons run down the front, again giving the cardigan that vintage feel, but you can find these at Jo-Anns, cheap :)

Waist shaping ensures that even with a slouchy fit, there's a feminine shape to the cardigan when buttoned.

And, the modified drop shoulder really works with the cables while giving you a distinct (and easy!) seam at the shoulders.  Since the drop is modified (not your giant 80s rectangle) the shape remains both slouchy and flattering.   The sweater is knit from the bottom up, for minimal seaming, and I wanted to be sure any seams would be easy and not interfere with the look of the cables.

Keeping the clean line for showing off that cool secret arm ribbing.

 All photos by Amanda Johnston - and the color of the yarn is truer in the top shots - we got arty by the lake here!

 The Chocolate Stout pattern is available both on the sidebar to the left and in my Ravelry shop for $6.50.    Some details are below and the rest of the information is here,   Photos of the test knits will also pop up on here, if you are debating colors.

Sizes:  32-54  Sweater is designed with approximately 5" of ease.

Yarn:   The Plucky Knitter Rustic (165 yds per skein)  Shown in Phantom.  1400(1500,1600,1700,1800,1900)(1950,2000,2050,2100,2150,2200) yds   9 (9,10,11,11,11,12) (12,12,12,13,13,14) skeins.  

Needles:  US#7/4.5mm (long circs for body and collar, shorter or DPNs for sleeve)  or size to get gauge.

Gauge:  5 sts, 6 rows per 1" in 1x1 ribbing and textured pattern.  Gauge calculated after blocking.

Notions:  stitch markers, darning needle, waste yarn or stitch holders  3-4 large (1.5") buttons for band, 2 smaller (.75-1") buttons for pockets.


To try the drink (not the sweater) , Chocolate Stout, I found  this cake,  from the awesome food blog Smitten Kitchen.  The cake was amazing, but I was forbidden to take cake photos since it didn't come out of the bundt pan as expected and turned into a Chocolate Volcano pile of cake.  Still seriously delicious, but not so pretty - and my chef (daughter) was a bit embarrassed about the snafu, so no photo.

As for Chocolate Stout itself, I think it's fun to taste, but couldn't imagine having a whole pint of it, so I recruited a few tasters, bribed them with food and served the 4 bottles for dessert.  We agreed this is a great plan after dinner with friends - and way easier than actually baking and bringing something over!

Here's the rundown of our opinions (from left to right):

Southern Tier Choklat Stout - had an element of coffee, not too sweet, but lots of cocoa  - smooth.  We liked.
Yeti, from Great Divide - the most complex.  Dark chocolate, oak aged, with spices.  It was the most bitter, had a little too much going on, and the chocolate got lost.  Craig disliked aftertaste - We all agreed they may have gilded the lily.  Didn't like.
Samuel Smith Organic  - this one was heavy on the chocolate, and the sweetest.  No bitterness, and smooth.   We liked.
Young's Double Chocolate Stout - the cleanest of the bunch, chocolatey without other overtones (this one was in the cake!)  Our favorite.

Bring some over the next time you're invited out.  It's like a wine tasting, but different. 

Monday, January 07, 2013

OK, people.....

 Before I turn into the Home Shopping Network, how about  a little preview of an actual Baby Cocktails pattern?

This one's called Chocolate Stout. 

 It's my newest Plucky Knitter project, and it'll be published by next Monday.
 The following weekend,  I'll be putting the sweater on and heading to NYC to spend Sunday at Vogue Knitting Live, in the Plucky booth!  Cannot wait...


Friday, January 04, 2013


I got it for Hanukkah.   Along with a swift, a winder, and an assortment of maraschino cherries.  

Santa brought me Bourbon.

Since you asked:

Thursday, January 03, 2013

 How about these guys?  My new favorite stitch markers. 

 Made out of toy wooden beads, - If you have girls, you know what I'm talking about.  Because you had the big bucket full of them.   And your girls put all kind of letters and stars and fish and bears and flowers on their necklaces, and they made you big colorful strings of the same on your birthday.  With the bears and the fish and the stars, and a giant sparkly stone in the center.    

You see... I was visiting my friend Cynthia last week and happened to pick up her girls' Old Bucket.  Digging through it, I realized that buried in the pile were all these way cool beads, and with my knitting only feet away, I informed her that they would make absolutely perfect stitch markers.  So she made me this set right there on the spot!  (worked out pretty well for me, right?)

And then we dug through the bucket and found a whole bunch of cool things that can find new life as knitterly accessories.

She made a purple set with fish....

and matched a few orange barrels and a few flowers with more fish...

and then dipped into an entire Carmen Miranda fruit collection...

with bananas and pea pods and apples and grapes.   I kinda love these.

Plus, she has a million glass beads. 

She's usually making lovely jewelry to sell on Etsy and blogging about the world of beading and the  history behind the materials she chooses, but I'm afraid I got her hooked on a tangent.

Pairing the sets up has proven to be absolutely addicting, and the idea of Not Throwing Out the beads is a pretty big draw, so she has decided to keep digging through the bucket for treasure and pairing up the good ones.   It's actually pretty fun - the digging and pairing up.

And now she has more than she needs - especially since she doesn't knit.  So, she's adding them to her Etsy shop.  You can either purchase a set she's made or, if you pick your own colors and quantites, she'll match up a custom set for you. 

Prices are from $8 - $12.

I do feel a bit responsible for the whole thing, since Cynthia - yes - doesn't even knit, so maybe you want to take a set off her hands?
They're fun, they're useful and you save a whole bucket of beads from the nothingness that stretched before them.

A link to her shop is right here.