Friday, May 31, 2013


As school winds down, I'm in a fiber-related nesting frenzy over here. I'm planning and organizing and swatching my little heart out to try and fit things in before people are home around here and I have to share.  Because they will be, soon enough, and then my quiet semi-organized space will not my be own anymore and the thinking will be interrupted.  Alot.  I do have an office, and it's a designated spot for all things BabyCocktails, but it's not 100% private, or nicely hidden, as maybe I'd like it to be.  And those people that live here with me like to do things like change the music and use the computer and talk to me and make me do things for them while I'm working.   They have also found that it's very easy to convince me into going out someplace like to the beach or kayaking.   Which is fun, but not so productive for the design thing.

I have until June 26.  18 more days of till-2pm silence around here.

And since it's a thousand degrees out right now and I can't fathom picking up the yarn, I'll show you.  This is MY half of the office.    Space for my yarn shelves, my bookshelves, some overflow yarn and project piles, a chair of crap, bulletin boards, project folders, and my and dressmaker dummy.  However, BabyCocktailsland is - as mentioned above - half of the room.



On the other side of the room are the family computer desk and printer and filing cabinets.  It is no longer my domain, even though this the computer on which I do all  my stuff and I do get to decorate it with my Bad Art - a collection in progress.   We are a one-computer family, so I have to share with them - and "they" will soon be here all day, including the newly laid off husband, who will claim his spot in the chair for an intense round of job hunting.  And I will  have to hand that chair over, since advertising pays way better than pattern design.  (Any marketing and advertising leads/connections in the Boston Area are appreciated....)  


Yep, I'll be sharing the office and getting quality time with the love of my life soon enough, and the kids will be in and out.  In and out of those French doors which lead to the dining room and kitchen and rest of the house, and the sliders that go to the deck, since my world is not properly hidden exactly away from the action, as explained above.   

So, my time lording over the computer, the musical choices, and the space itself is both lovely and limited right now, and I am going to use these remaining 18 days as best I can.  I have a written schedule.
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Goals for next week include more work on a Plucky Project for August, playing with a light summer vest concept that may or may not happen, and getting as far as I can on this design  - it's Green Mountain Spinnery Cotton Comfort, which you know I am a big fan of.   A while ago I realized that although I love V necks, I hadn't designed one.  (how did that happen?).   So I did.  Anyways, my goal is to have this published in July.  According to my list, that means it should be all knit next week, and then written the week after.


Before that though, the list says I can share something more immediately gratifying....

 Next week I'll be releasing Margarita, a lacy little cardigan that's just about finished in testing! 

I  did post a hint about this one in my Ravelry group a couple of days back and have heard from the folks at O-wool that there was a run on a few of you are already stocking up on Balance in Peridot!   Beautiful yarn, in a beautiful color - I can't really blame you.  :)


And, today's list included buying the tequila to make those margaritas. 
I'll be practicing this weekend.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Your Memorial Day weekend may be brighter and sunnier, but here in Boston it's cold and dreary. However, I've found a few things to make the weekend feel a little happier.

One -  Giant Box of Plucky

I've been picking yarns for a thing.  Thinking about what colors go with each other, and what weights work in different projects.  And arranging them in different lines and piles before deciding who gets to go In The Box.  That's kind of pure joy.




Two - Another Drink

I had a few friends over to knit the other night, and decided that I still wanted my warm weather gin.   And really, nothing could have gone better with cupcakes and chili and chips than this.   

Grapefruit -Rosemary Gin and Tonics
2 oz gin
2 oz grapefruit (about)
4-6 oz tonic
sprig of rosemary
a few juniper berries
slice of lime (I added that later!)

Put the gin and grapefruit juice in a glass over ice.  Add tonic and a couple of juniper berries. 
Smash rosemary in your hand before adding to glass, spritz lime once into drink and stir. 
Add lime slice.  And drink. 
 

Here's hoping tomorrow gets sunnier!

Friday, May 24, 2013


Something new:  I am going to try and post a drink each Friday, so you've got something to play with over the weekend!
As I've been saying, warm weather means gin to me, and it should be something cold and refreshing.  

This one is light and cool and does the trick on a hot day. 

  • Gin Sunray 
     
    Add the following to a shaker:
    1 oz gin
    .5 oz triple sec
    juice of a half lemon, squeezed in
    splash of OJ
    2 oz of seltzer
    Give it a good shake and pour in highball glass over ice.  
    Garnish with a lemon slice, and I smashed a little basil in mine -- it was even better. 
    If you like it a little sweeter, feel free to add 7up or Sprite instead of seltzer. 

    (I can't take credit for the photo - it's 7am here!  So I have pulled this on off www.thebar.com)
    Enjoy!
     

Monday, May 20, 2013

The sun is out and the deck cushions have been put on the chairs over here, so I am seriously in the mood for gin drinks and cotton knitting.  The gin is ready, but the sweaters are not exactly.   While I finish up with some new designs, I thought I'd see if anybody wants to get going with a little sale on my previous summer and spring knits.  Keeping you busy until Margarita is ready to share...they are all quick (no sleeves), perfect for wearing soon, and knit in some lovely cottons - courtesy of Blue Sky and Green Mt Spinnery.  You'll be done in plenty of time for summer.

From now until the end of the holiday weekend on Monday, 
any (or all) of the following patterns are $4 if you purchase through Ravelry , instead of the usual $6.50.

A delicate V neck vest, knit bottom up, with some lovely lace detail on both front and back:  Champagne


Also bottom up, a simple tank with some feminine detail that flatters almost any figure, and is easy to modify for yours;  White Sangria 


 Planter's Punch, for those of you who want a tee and like a little cable detail.


Or a lace-detailed cardigan with a cool neckline that's worked top down - Cherry Vanilla



Pour yourself a gin drink and enjoy ;)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

 One of my good knitting buddies has been on a short medical leave  from her Real Job lately, and it's meant that I've had company in the "office" over here for the last week or so.   This has been awesome (well, maybe more awesome for me than for her since I didn't have any stitches....) and it was happy distraction to have somebody to comment on stitch dictionaries with.   Truth be told, she is really nice and claims to like almost all of the motifs and ideas that I sketch, and then furrows her brow when I shoot them down five minutes later in favor of the next Big Idea, which lasts about as long.  After a few days over here, she's pretty surprised anything ever gets knit in the end.

 But, she's about to be drawn back into the world of real employment and responsibility - as opposed to enjoying the sunny days and  indecision of a flighty at-home designer with me.   And I'll have to get used to talking to myself all over again.


We decided we should wrap it up with a textile related outing, and spent the day in Lowell yesterday.  First of all, I want to shoot all my sweaters here for the next year.  Between canals, brick architecture, trolley cars and outdoor cafes, I will never run out of spots.  Plus outdoor cafes = drinks.

 

We had big plans to go to into the actual Mill or Quilt Museum, but were waylaid by one of those cafes and some glasses of wine.  Instead, our day consisted of a yarn shop visit, some walking, a lot of photo taking, a pretty awesome lunch, a very cool vintage everything store, and planning for a trip back to go to the museums Another Day.  


We absolutely will be coming back - both for the museums and the aforementioned yarn store.   
We thought that Classic Elite Yarns had their offices and outlet yarn shop in town, which was what gave us the idea for the trip in the first place.  Turns out they've moved a bit to North Billerica, which we probably should have known, but hey.  Luckily we figured it out on the internet first and undeterred, we just made the yarn stop on the way. 

The yarn shop is called the Hub Mills Store and is in Classic Elite's office building, which means they have ALL of the Classic Elite yarns and never run out of colorways because bags and bags and bags are stored in the back.  It also meant that we got to  bother say hi to our friend Claudine in the middle of her workday!


I got a few things for swatching.  Including one of my all time favorite yarns, which had fallen off my radar - Classic Silk. -- it's from one of my first patterns - Nantucket Red -  and I just love the stuff,  but hadn't touched it in a while.   As soon as I saw this bluey-purple colorway, I knew it was coming home again.
I may have grabbed a few other things too.   In front is some Montera in a color I already think of as Brandied Cherry, and it's in serious need of fat cables.  Next to that is a skein of Kumara, which blooms into a soft, thick aran fabric when washed and is begging for lace.   There was more, but I showed restraint. 


I'm afraid that the yarn sale from earlier this week has done little to counteract what's happening in my Fall/Winter 2013 basket. 


So I cast on today for Tanqueray in the hopes of getting through all those skeins.   Tanqueray will be something simple with a cool detail that feels very Great Gatsby to me.   The yarn is Green Mt Spinnery's Cotton Comfort, in a gorgeous silvery gray.   Twisted rib, stockinette, and this time - surprise.... seams!  


 In preparation for all the knitting, my herbs are looking ready for use.   Some of the  liquid kind of Tanqueray will be paired with smooshed basil and a squeeze/twist of orange, and a splash of tonic later tonight.  

I also have rosemary, two kinds of mint, sage and oregano.  Let's call it a food herb garden, but you all know better. 
I'll need dill for my gin.


Monday, May 13, 2013

OK, That was quick. Yay!
 I'm struggling with my swatches today, so I wandered back to the shelves and pulled a few more.  

 Jo Sharp Kathmandu Tweed in dark dray with teal and light gray flecks 4 skeins, plus a bit.  
$20 SOLD



One big skein of blue tweed, heavy aran weight . Guessing 200+ yards, but not sure.  Got this at a festival way back.  
$10 SOLD


6 skeins of Amy Butler Organic Tweed in Aran Weight - color  0021 a  lovely purple. (98 yds per skein)
$30 SOLD


Bought this last week for a project I realize I'll never do.  Cascade Ultra Pima, 4 skeins Color 3705, 220 yds per skein
$30 incl shipping  SOLD

2 skeins of  Lorna's Laces shepherd sock in Bittersweet (215 yds ea)
 plus one skein of Alsan Trends Royal Alpaca in petunia (220 yds)  
$20 SOLD


 5 skeins of Rowan Wool Cotton in color 911, a deep red.  (123 yds each)
$25 SOLD

New Hampshire Sheep and Wool is one of my favorite annual yarn events - pretty small, kind of local, and really, really mellow.   I'll spare you the photos you see from every yarn event  -  full of barns and sheep and yarn and just show you the piece that we added to the Festival.   Beer Pavilion.


A plan was hatched over the internet a few months back  to add our own selections to the refreshments offered.   Each of us brought a big, made-for -sharing beer, and a few cups.   It was definitely worth the effort of carrying a few extra ounces in our bags, and the fairgrounds has a conveniently located selection of unused vending gazebos and porches just ripe for hanging out in.   We met once before lunch, and then had the remainder of the selections with our burgers and dogs.


 It was a pretty perfect break from the sheep and the yarn shopping and I have high expectations for next year.   Plus a few more pavilion attendees.  :)

-----------------------------------------

In terms of yarn shopping however, I need to do a little office-cleaning, The combination of Plucky Retreat, yarn purchasing daytrip to Salem, and this weekend's drive up to New Hampshire have left me with a little space problem over here, and in order to make room for the stuff I plan to knit next, I need to weed out a bit of what's hanging out over here.    

So, yarn sale.

8 skeins Rowan Amy Butler organic DK in Cinnamon.  6 skeins untouched, 2 have been started and rewound.   (131 yds per skein)
 $30, SOLD

 
3 skeins Elisabeth Lavold Silky Wool in color 48, pale green (192 yds each).  
Plus one skein of Green Mt. Sylvan Spirit in Amythest (180 yds)
$25 SOLD


$30 SOLD



 Frog Tree Alpaca Sport in a dusty lavender - color #82.  5 skeins, two without bands, but unused. (175 yds per skein) 
$20 SOLD


Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran in color #137, Empire.  6 skeins, 93 yds per skein.  (I'll also send along the seed stitch mobius cowl I began out of the other 3 skeins if you want to frog it for a full 8 skeins of yarn.)   $25 SOLD
 2 skeins of Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed in color #417, Fleece. (147 yds each)  These are leftover from White Russian! 
$10 SOLD



Two skeins of Valley Yarns Stockbridge - colors I didn't choose for Sambuca.  Terra Cotta and Soft Yellow
 $5 each/$7 for both,  SOLD

If you want to purchase any of these, email me at theacolman@yahoo.com.

To keep this easy, I will accept Paypal only, and take sales on a first come/first served basis, using the email times sent. 
 

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

As I'd mentioned a while back, there are more than a few things going on behind the scenes here at BabyCocktails central.  A few of these changes are fully behind the scenes, and a few of them will be obvious to all of you once they happen.  This one is of particular importance to the yarn store owners out there who carry my patterns, so I guess it's partly behind the curtain, but not entirely.  
 
 In an effort to ensure that I can keep providing both PDF and print avenues to the shops out there that support me, I've made a move.


As of today, my print patterns are available through a new distributor.  If you are a store owner looking to carry my designs,  you will find me at Stitch Sprouts from now on.  I have a snazzy new designer page over there, off of which you can order your copies.   I'll be adding to the page as time goes on, but for now there are 19 sweater and accessory patterns available.  

And, if you're a knitter who wishes your yarn store would carry print BabyCocktails patterns, feel free to let them know!



 




Monday, May 06, 2013

 As a designer,  I often get going on things, only to realize that they are not turning out as planned.   I swatch and  sketch, and knit and then hem and haw and change a thing here or there, but sometimes that nagging voice in my head just turns out to be correct.  As much as I want the elements in an idea to come together, I have to finally cave and realize it's time to revisit the whole thing. 


This was the case with Mimosa.   Love the yarn, love the idea.  But the two together - and the time of year - are not a match.

My oh so lovely perfect buttery-yellow yarn from Spirited Fibers is just not going to lend itself to a lacy, summery, cardigan.  I kept telling myself that the color was perfect and that a cozy cardigan in spring would be just the thing.   But the farther I got into this, the louder that voice in my head was getting.    Buttery yellow, yes.  Cozy, no.

The fabric is squooshy and round and lovely -- but as it knit up, I came to see that I was mixing spring and fall and winter in the same spot.  This yarn wants a pretty substantial, soft and woofy sweater.   It's meant for a big collar and apple picking, with boots and jeans.   Not open lace and shorts and sand.   So it's going back into the skein and will come back next fall.  It will still BE a Mimosa, but a whole different kind of Mimosa.  Winter brunch mimosa.  Fireplace and quiche.

---------------------------------

However, I still needed to find a yarn for my summer sweater.  This is a friends on the deck kind of drink, and the season is beginning.  Plus, I am absolutely hooked on this lace and not ready to fold.

So instead, I decided on/went searching for a slightly rustic and not too delicate cotton blend.  It needed to come in a great color, be able to take a really distinct motif, and I was again hoping for a smaller, indie company to work with.   

Enter O-Wool Balance in Peridot.  Love.  It's perfect.
 

 
The new yarn has changed more than a few details from the original sketch, but it's summery and light and kind of exactly what works for the lace and the season.  And as for what back deck drink it should be, that was easy.

 I may be a day late for Cinqo de Mayo here on May 6, but it's going to be a Margarita.


Saturday, May 04, 2013


 First, congrats to Pixiewear (Rav name), whose name Zoe picked out of the comments to win Amy's book. 
PM me on Ravelry with your address and info!

And second, one more post about Amy - well Amy and me, really.   And some Plucky Knitter Plucky Sweater Yarn. 

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Many of you already know that we've been friends for a bit.  She lives just down the road from me and we get together to chat about things -- including knitting and design  --- pretty often.   So, last month when we sat down for lunch, we had to laugh when we realized that not only were we working on projects in the same Plucky yarn without knowing it, but we'd also inadvertently chose the same ribbing treatment for our sweaters!



Funny right?   But our design similarities end there and I love how we each interpreted the same yarn and ribbed detail so differently.  

  Amy's Aislinn is a tailored cardigan with delicate lace details and a waist tie that adds to the feminine feel of her design.   Worn with a full skirt and shot in a gorgeous garden, the feel is decidedly ladylike, and as with all Amy's designs, the attention to detail is perfect.   

 

 My Cape Cod is a classic boatneck pullover with bold, symmetrical lace details on both front and back and an easy, comfy fit.   It was designed with jeans or shorts in mind, for wearing after the sun goes down at the beach.  I shot it simply with a pop of earring color and denim.   And if you know the two of us,  the jist of each speaks to what we do in our lives, and to how we each wear our clothes. (ie.  Amy has an actual day job to wear that skirt to.  Me, not so much.)


 Both  are designed with special attention paid to fit, we carefully choose the details we felt would work on different body types in each sweater, and we wrote both patterns so that you can modify them as needed to flatter your shape.  


But again, we each came to the table with different ideas.  Aislinn features seamed construction, a more fitted silhouette, and is easy to modify using the principles in Knit to Flatter.  Cape Cod is a looser, more casual design.  It's worked from the top down without seams, so modifications can be done as you knit and have the option of checking your fit while trying the sweater on.  



Amy and I have compared and contrasted our designs and personal styles before, but it's fun to see it before our very eyes.   
Honestly, I think both are lovely sweaters, knit in gorgeous yarn - and both are versatile enough to be worn with jeans or with a skirt in one's wardrobe, but I do think that the look and feel of our photos, the choices we've made about the elements to use, and how we've used them are fun to see. 

And we aren't the only ones playing with Plucky Sweater .  Look what else showed up on my Ravelry page today!  
Kirsten Kapur just released one more interpretation of Plucky Sweater in this lovely cardigan .

 

As a knitter, you don't have to choose.  Just buy enough yarn.


PS:  All the photo credits here are family related!  I took mine of my sister, Kirsten took hers of her daughter, and Amy's husband shot Amy. :)

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

 I can't tell you guys how happy I am to be able to write this post!  

Amy is a  good friend of mine and I have been watching her work her tush off for a few years now.  All so that you can knit sweaters that look and make you feel great.  She's put her heart and soul into this project and it shows.


From the original tank top photoshoot and subsequent blog tutorials, to teaching umpteen thousand Fit to Flatter classes, to planning and shopping the book idea around, and then to I-dont-know-how-many months of straight design and knitting these 20 patterns every waking moment, she has left no stone unturned and has managed to compile an amazing collection of tips and tricks and thoughts to make your knitting all it can be. 
 

  You did hear me say 20 patterns, right?  

Each one designed with Amy's exquisite attention to detail, employing different elements of Amy's philosophy on what looks good and how to make it work for your body.   

 

She's included classic, wearable shapes, and added easy to follow commentary throughout on modifications, techniques, and styles that you can adapt to these sweaters - or any others you may be working on - so they work best for your shape.  


And if you want to see for yourself,  I've got a copy to give away.   

You can enter to win it by commenting on this post by noon on Friday May, 3!  

Since it's MAY and the sun is finally shining, how about a springy drink while you wait to see if you're the winner?

This was Maya's idea and it was amazing.  
 

Strawberry-Lime-Cilantro Smoothie

10-12  fresh strawberries
zest of one lime, and juice of half the lime
4-5 sprigs of cilantro chopped up
10-12 oz of vanilla yogurt
splash of milk
ice cubes 
 
Blend and pour.   
Serve with sliced strawberry and lime on rim. 
 We are still experimenting with our favorite booze to add.  So far gin works,  tequila is amazing, and rum is the next thing to try.