Friday, March 28, 2014

Yep another one.  Things will be slowing down around here, but not for a little while.  Let's just say I  had a hard time keeping my hands OFF the yarn that people sent me a little while back, and my penchant for instant gratification is showing these days.

But these Ginger Beer Mitts are being released this week for a reason.  As I may have mentioned before, I leave for the Lantern Moon Retreat on Mt Hood next Thursday, and I have a trunk show planned on Monday.  We thought it would be fun to tie into the trip with a design featuring some yarn from a local Portland dyer.  Like Lorajean Kelley of Knitted Wit.

When Lorajean sent me my package of yarns to check out, I zeroed right in on the Welterweight Rambouillet.  I'd been dying for something just a little rustic, and I can't say enough about this color - it's called Yellow Brick Road, and it's a gorgeous, happy, vibrant golden yellow.  I need to have it poking out of my dark blue toggle coat in winter, and I can't wait to have it poke out of my denim jacket if it ever does warm up around here.

The 2-ply sport weight is soft and bouncy and keeps its shape, and the rustic texture is just the right amount of wooly to add depth to an intricate motif while remaining distinct.

And I was dying to play with an intricate motif.

The lace and cable medallions run up the wrist on the thumb side of things to start, but shift over to make room for a stockinette panel once the hand begins.  I love the slant this creates.  They are fun to knit, and just interesting enough to make for an addictive little project to spend a few nights on.

It's easy to modify these for width or length, and instructions are included in the pattern.   And if you are not a yellow person, the Rambouillet comes in a rainbow of gorgeous colors.

The pattern is available for $5.50 in the usual places.  Some details are below and the rest are on the Ravelry page


Yarn:  175 yards Knitted Wit's Welterweight Rambouillet, shown in Yellow Brick Road (sport weight, 2-ply, 100% wool, 350 yds per skein)

Needles:  US#4/3.5mm needles, or size to get gauge.  DPNs or circular needles for magic loop.

Sizes:  7.5 (8, 8.5)" around at wrist, 11" deep.  Instructions to modify depth/width are included.

Gauge:  6 sts/8 rows per 1", 7sts per 1" in 1x1 rib, based on blocked stockinette swatch.


And about that trunk show? I don't tend to do many of these, but it turned out I was in town, with a supply of sweaters on hand, near a fabulous few brick and mortar shop that carries both Plucky and Knitted Wit yarns.  How could I not do a trunk show??

So, if you are in the Portland area,  my mitts, a whole bunch of  my other designs, and I will be there on Monday, April 7 right around happy hour (5:30).

And the shop will have both the Knitted Wit Rambouillet and a limited supply of Plucky on hand for purchase!  Details are here.

Plus, since it's happy hour and I am BabyCocktails, the folks at Twisted knew I'd be wanting a little drink.  We will be whipping up a few Moscow Mules for anybody who wants to join us.  They're  made with Ginger Beer, in honor of the mitts!  Stop by after work and say hi :) 

Moscow Mule 

2 oz vodka
4-6 oz ginger beer
lime wedge

Making this drink could not be easier....  Pour vodka in glass, squeeze lime into vodka, add ice, and fill rest of mug with ginger beer.   In the spirit of full disclosure, this is not my photo, since I don't own a special copper moscow mule mug - this is from the amazon page where you can buy one.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I am more than done with this, but another snowstorm is hovering off the coast and it looks like we are going to have one more bout of winter before we are allowed any sunshine around here.  What that means for you guys (who care more about the knitting than the weather in New England) is that there are accessories in the works.  I can't bear another sweater, and a summer tee isn't doing it for me this year, but hats and mitts and cowls have been on my hands and head - and my needles as well for the past month or so.  Which means I'll be offering them up for your needles soon.   

These Ginger Beer Mitts will be released within the next week.  They were designed special to coincide with the Lantern Moon Retreat next weekend.  We thought it would be fun to put something out by a local Portland, Oregon dyer before I hopped on a Portland, Oregon plane.  With that in mind, these were designed for Knitted Wit's Welterweight Rambouillet.  Soft and rustic, it's a perfect sportweight for some delicate detail - and this amazing color almost made me OK with the cloudy sky this weekend.  Almost.

In a stubborn move on Sunday, we decided to ignore the weather and go for a hike anyways.  Before the wind picked up and the rain started to fall,  I took some photos and we pretended it was actually Spring.   Maya is smart enough to have her jacket on here, but Lucy and Zoe and Nate went straight to tee shirts for the rock climbing.   If only pretending made it so. 

Jackets were put back on soon enough.  And, I thought you guys would appreciate Zoe's hat with the built in braids.   It's from Claire's at the mall.   But she loves it.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I am supposed to be doing the actual math on this design right now, but I'm just not in a mathy place this morning.  So, if I'm not actually working on the project, maybe I can stay aligned with it by writing about the thing.  I am pretty happy with the thing.

Which is good, because I have not always been happy with it.  This particular design has traveled a bit of a windy road to get where it is today.  (Although it's still not actually anywhere but spread out on my dining room table).

It began more than a year ago when I saw this photo of a cardigan in these amazing tonal greens.

So, I went off to the Plucky Knitter Retreat last spring with the goal of finding the perfect combo to knit this in.  (Yay, everybody needs a goal, right?)  I came home with a few skeins of Cozy in a gorgeous dark purple called Cabernet, for which Plucky was going to send me contrasting skeins of Contessa (a deep burgundy).  I sketched and swatched and had it all in my head when the Contessa arrived and I realized that my color combo was not to be.  The contrast was not what I'd had in my head, and the shade of yarn that I now had in hand was just begging to be deep, complex, textured cables, with no distracting bands of any other color.

So, my Contessa became Brandied Cherry.  A totally unexpected sweater that the yarn really demanded I make.  Which, in the long run, was just fine by me.  I do love this sweater.

However,  I was still left without my double color cardigan.  So, we discussed and decided on a new color combination - a great blue with either gray or dark blue contrast.  Yarn was sent, the combo of bright and dark blue was decided upon and knitting began.

There were multiple decisions associated with a bigger lace repeat and their related mathy solutions that kept slowing me down.  Transitions, repeats, sizing decisions and the like put me in a standstill when it came to finalizing this.  And it was a good thing I was slowed down, because soon the future of my chosen yarn got called into doubt.  Poor Cozy is still in limbo, and my sweater remains on holders to this day.

Back to Square One.  By now I was working in a bright orange  yarn, with both purple and pink on the horizon. Given those sweaters, this idea started going into neutral tones in my head.  Still the same idea - dark/light and lace with big, deep ribs, but gray.  Sarah and Hayley (bless their little hearts) discussed potential contenders and sent me One More Bunch Of Yarn.  They will probably not admit how sick of me they had gotten at this point, but I can guess.

This time, I went with Plucky Primo Aran in Gris and Midieval.  Beautiful, right? And I began again.


I got pretty far this time without major incident, until I reached the top and realized that I kind of hated the neckline I'd chosen and that the math was going to be a bear because a whole bunch of the transitions I'd used on my size were not going to fly in all sizes.  So I ripped back and began One More Time (this primo frogs like a champ, btw) and altered a few things and this time I actually got through the yoke.  

But I still hated the neckline.  Grrrrr.  And I could NOT figure out what else to put up there. 

So I put it on my dressmaker dummy and kept looking at it.  And I sheepishly, apologetically told Sarah that the design was in a timeout.  Where it's sat, for a few months.  I'd come into the office, stare at it, flip through a book or magazine and see if any photos gave me a clue, and I'd leave.

Until now :)  

It's still a ways away from being a design, but I am happy with my little collar.  It balances the other lines, has a vintage vibe and yet has a little modern thing going on.  I still have a bit of that math to contend with, but it seems easier to tackle when I actually LIKE the way the sweater looks.   

Wish me luck!

Monday, March 17, 2014

It's been a while since I just popped in here just to chat.  But I've got nothing to release right now, a little time to kill, and a few things in the works, so that's exactly what I'm about to do.

Saturday was the Common Cod Fashion Show, and I was lucky enough to spend the day with a few of my good knitting buddies.  A little lunch before, a great dinner afterwards, and a sleepover with  the traveling designers made for a busy Saturday to Sunday.  Poor Melissa got dragged into the knitting world once again, but was patient and charming and nodded her head a lot.  She would have been happy to keep Maxfield as payment, but I think Amy wants it back.

As many of you know, we all do what we do alone, so having a chance to catch up and talk shop with people who understand why you can't stop petting the cormo, or are obsessed with that cable, or can't stop thinking about this neckline - is always a treat.  We had drinks, we caught up, we hung out. And it was really, really fun.

On Sunday AM, in pjs and  with coffee, I was even able to get a little advice on this Plucky cardigan that's been stumping me.  (It's way more done than this, but I only have this photo to share)  I put it on and explained all my options to Misa and Ellen and got some confirmation that I could be on the right track. Yay!  We'll see -- as I'll be trying out the winning idea later on this morning.

I also managed to see both my favorite babies named Louisa.  One was at the fashion show, and I may not have been able to put her down, even when it was my turn on stage.  This Louisa belongs to Erin and she is one of the most content people you will ever meet. 

The other Louisa has nothing to do with the knitting world, except that she arrived wearing a hat I made her. She belongs to Steph, and old friend who I have known since 7th grade.  She is always happy and we are all obsessed with her toes, which she likes to have out and available.

Between babies and knitting friends, it was a fast weekend!  The North Shore Yarn Crawl was going on in the background and those were great messages to keep seeing in the background.  I am SO happy that you all liked Paloma and Creme de Menthe and I cannot wait to see some of your projects start popping up.   Erin wore my Paloma in the fashion show and I have a feeling that she's going to own it before long - it's in her car right now, so I fear it could already be gone. I may have to make myself another - good thing it's made in bulky and knits up fast! 

And next, I am getting ready for one more event weekend.  In two weeks (April 4-7), I'll be traveling out to Portland Oregon for the Lantern Moon Retreat, where I'll be teaching my design workshop and participating in a talk with Gudrun Johnston about top down design.  The whole weekend of events sounds fantastic and I am absolutely honored to be a part of it!  

And while I'm out on the West Coast -- if you are local and can't make it to the retreat:   I'll be doing a trunk show over at Portland's Twisted on Monday, the 7th.  Right around beer-thirty!  I hear drinks will be served. 

Details are here:

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Paloma is the perfect cardigan for transition weather.  You know those days when it still feels like Winter, but it looks like Spring - and you are dying to take off your drab gear and look like Spring too?

Well, this looks like Spring to me! It's warm and cozy, knit in a color that just begs for a delicate top beneath and some sunshine up above.  The classic shape and easy fit make for a cardigan that goes with just about anything and is way more fun to wear than the down vest or a zipper fleece you usually grab this time of year.

I love how O-Wool's organic merino takes a seed stitch, and I really love how the texture pops in a pale color like this Desert Blush.  I've added a few details that play with the motif, such as single ribs that interrupt the texture (see them on the pockets?) and bold side seams that add a little contrast.

I also placed more delicate seams along the shoulders to contrast again, while adding a distinct line at the shoulders to balance the slouchy silhouette with a "tailored" accent.  Plus, many of you will like that these seam details make sewing the sweater together a piece of cake.

I also had a little fun working with the transition between ribbing and body.  A little negative space made those ribs pop right up. 

My last detail to share is maybe my favorite detail in the entire project -- pockets!  Big enough for hands, accented with single ribs, with a contrasting stockinette inner panel.  Can you tell I was having fun while designing this one?  I was, and I hope you all like it as much as I do.

This is my second design using O-Wool and I really, really love both the yarns and the company behind the product here.  Jocelyn Tunney runs her business with a passion for both historical and environmental sustainability that makes me feel great about using her products.  Do you know that these skeins are wound in Kensington, PA by a local Philadelphia craftsman who's been working in the mills since his teens, and it's then dyed in an another 1885 mill in Germantown, outside the city?   This is how to keep mills going, and how to keep history and craft alive, and it takes a real commitment to do so.  You can read more about O-Wool here, but I just love those facts.  

You will love that the Legacy is a gorgeous 3ply merino, soft and round and not too heavy.  It's amazing to work with and it comes in a whole rainbow of really lovely colors.

The pattern is available on Ravelry for $7.00 and will also be up on the patterns page here.

Some details are below and the rest are on the Ravelry page for Paloma.  Cristina is wearing the sweater with about 4" of ease, based on finished bust width. 

Yarn:  O-Wool Legacy Bulky, 106 yds per sk. 900(950,1050,1150,1250)(1350,1450,1550,1650) yds
Needles:  US #10.5/6.5mm, or size to get gauge.  I suggest long circs.
Sizes:  36.5(38.5, 41.25, 43.5,45.25)(47, 51.25, 53.25, 56)" based on finished bust measurement.
Gauge:  3 sts/5 rows in 1" textured swatch, based on finished blocked fabric.

The cocktail that goes with this one is awesome.   Springy and refreshing, and it involves one of my favorite things to mix with - grapefruit juice.  Many Paloma recipes call for a grapefruit soda like Squirt or Jarritos, but I wanted pink, and a little less sweet, so I went with a mix of actual pink grapefruit juice and San Pellegrino, about 2/1 so I had the color.  You can salt the rim first or not.

1 can San Pellegrino Pomelo
1 fresh pink grapefruit
salt if desired
crushed ice (I think it's more festive)

Combine 3/1 San Pellegrino Pomelo and fresh pink grapefruit juice in glass.  (about 4 oz/2 oz)
Add 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice in glass.
Pour in 2 oz tequila, add ice
Garnish with grapefruit wedge or lime (since you have both on hand)


Friday, March 07, 2014

I cannot believe I am seeing March on the calendar.   The snow on the ground does not help, and neither do the 15 degree mornings, but I'm looking at the contractors fixing up my front porch and realizing that I am going to be sitting out there in a few weeks!  Which makes me really happy, because this has been one looong winter.   

So, to maybe hurry that spring feeling along, here's a preview of the my next design, Paloma. 

It's knit in O-wool's Legacy Bulky, a gorgeous organic merino that comes in all kind of happy colors.  Warm and cozy enough for a cold morning, but in this pink that just sings springtime. The testers are chugging through, final edits are underway, and my hope is to get this out to you sometime next week. 

And it's called Paloma because the other thing that comes back when spring arrives are gin drinks!