Monday, June 30, 2014

Not in the immediate future, but soon.  These are the next three sweaters coming down the line to you.  Right now, they are all in various stages of editing, test knitting and writing.  Which is much more convenient for me while I am trucking various kids to various places around New England and doing all the Summer Things.  Because I'm all for sitting on a beach with some knitting in my lap, but it does need to be smaller knitting.   Mostly done sweaters are not portable knitting.

So - it's time to move onto some smaller projects, yes?  I'm thinking specifically about hats - because they are the perfect size for the beach, and the perfect amount of instant gratification for a weekend away, right?  

Kind of like this:

 or this:

Stay tuned for these, and I'll be back in touch as soon as the first of the sweaters above is about done.  And for those of you wondering, it's going to be that purple one on top, knit in Shalimar Yarn's Breathless DK.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Congrats to Katie from Fenton, Michigan!

I am a huge Frank Lloyd Wright fan. All those clean lines, and the beautiful stained glass, the colors, everything. I'd love to own a home based off one of his designs someday.

katherinelynn04 on rav

It really was fun to read all of your comments (141 of them!!) about your favorite artists.  I picked Katie totally at random by having Maya pick an number and counting down the replies.   However, I did scroll through and read all the comments each day as you added to the list.  I love the few of you who mentioned your kids - and I totally smiled to see a few of the fiber artists from our knitting world called out as well. 

Thanks so much for your thoughtful responses!!  Till the next contest....

Monday, June 23, 2014

Today is the last full day of school for my girls - the 17 snow days we had have stretched things out a bit, but starting tomorrow my little office here won't be all mine from 8-2 every day.  Sigh.  On the bright side, I'll be wandering around New England for the next 8 weeks or so, since neither my kids nor I are good at sitting still when the sun is shining - and we have many plans for our time off!  

My dear knitters, this also means that I will be away from my computer more often than not.  If you have pattern questions, the best spot to post them really is in my BabyCocktails Forum on Ravelry.  Each design has its own thread and that's where I will be checking in, plus you will find that the knitters in my group are always super helpful and responsive, and the conversations are ongoing.  I will try to get online in the early mornings during the week, but there will be days where I will be away from the computer and remembering details about one of my 80+ patterns isn't easy from afar.

The break will be nice.  I'll be knitting out there, planning for Fall and working on the sweaters already in the pipeline, but enjoying the summer as I do it.  Mmmmm.

And one of the things summer means to me is a bit of extra time to read - so I think this is perfect timing for a book giveaway!  One of my favorite designers and friends, Amy Christoffers - of SavoryKnitting - has just published a gorgeous collection for Interweave called  New American Knits.  (The Interweave page is here, with all info, pics and a spot to purchase..)

If you haven't seen this one, it's full of the classic lines and gorgeous details you know from Amy's past designs.

I've always been a fan of Amy's sense of style.  Her designs are timeless, and she gives such thought to every detail.  I find she works with traditional motifs and shapes, but really gives them something special, so that the traditional sweater is not exactly the garment you've seen before.  Just look at the lines on this yoke:

Right? Whether it's a twist on the motif,  an intentional choice in yarn, or the way she works a seam or a cable across a piece of fabric, it's her eye for subtle, gorgeous detail that always gets me.

Really wearable detail, too.  Any of these designs would work in my wardrobe.  And some of them, like the Tanner cowl below, are absolutely necessary before winter --

The book contains 20 patterns for sweaters and accessories, each named after an American artist that inspired the design in some way, shape or form.   It's kind of fun to think about each and the tie to the style of the artist, but it's even more fun to think about knitting the pieces and wearing them, so if you'd like to win a copy of the book, tell me who your favorite American artist is and what it is about them that makes you a fan in the comments below.  In order to win, BE SURE TO INCLUDE A RAVELRY NAME OR EMAIL or I may not be able to find you!

Thanks to Amy and the folks at Interweave, I'll be picking a winner on Thursday of this week and get a copy of the book out to you!

Happy, happy summer!!   (I have 2 hours, 16 minutes left.....)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Aviation is the shawl pattern I designed exclusively for the Plucky Knitter's 2014 Shindig, but it's  now  available for anybody who wants to make one.  

As I mentioned a while ago, one of my goals this year is to play with shawl construction - and this design is my foray into the world of tip to tip shawls.  It’s a long crescent shaped piece - knit from one end to the other, with both the lace and the shaping worked as you go.

A distinct leaf motif edges the shawl, and ribs divide the body of the crescent into wedges that grow wider as you work towards the center and then narrower as you reach the far end.  I love how the bold garter and ribs balance out the feminine leaf edging to make this both rustic and delicate at the same time.

And it's cozy.  I made sure that it would be nice and big - so it feels and looks great when draped around your neck and it's long enough to be thrown across your shoulders and stay put.

Aviation  was designed to showcase a single ply merino silk fingering yarn, such as Plucky Single because I think it's just the perfect kind of yarn for a summer wrap - beautiful to look at and delicate to wear, but still a nice enough weight for a cool night or a little AC.  It’s just a bit rustic, but consistent enough to show the stitch definition in both garter and lace perfectly, and the subtle sheen of the silk and the a touch of variation in the shading really add something special to the fabric.  As always, that Sarah knows her stuff.


The shawl takes two skeins - or 860 yards, which you can perhaps pick up tonight, as there is about to be a Plucky Knitter update at 8pm.  Update Details are here, post # 303.


A few shawl details are below and the rest are on the Ravelry page
The pattern can be purchased for 6.50, but for a limited time - read below for a little deal!

Yarn:  The Plucky Knitter Plucky Single (merino/silk single ply yarn).  Shown in I feel Pretty.  2 skeins (430 yds per skein) 
Finished Size:  Length from tip to tip = 75",  Depth at center = 15.75" 
Gauge:  6.5 sts/7 rows in 1" in stockinette.  If working at different gauge, finished size will vary.
Needles:  US#6/4mm needles or size to get gauge. 


Until 6/20, you can use the code AVIATION and get Aviation for 50% off the usual price.   
You can do the same with Jill Z's Wavelength pattern and the code WAVELENGTH.   Especially appropriate since you can hit the update tonight, yes?

If you don't have Plucky Single and want to substitute, I suggest another silk merino fingering yarn, with very subtle variation in color and a nice, consistent fiber.  

As for the drink, an Aviation is one of my new favorites - and the vague purple color made it the perfect name for this shawl!


1 1/2 oz gin
3/4 oz lemon juice
1/2 tsp maraschino liqueur
1/2 oz. créme de violette

Shake with ice in a jigger and strain into your glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry, or maybe a little twist of lime.   Give it a try.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Shaken or Stirred is a sweater that you can play with in so many ways.  It's simple and versatile and just a little addictive if you happen to have a stash of Sport on hand...  (I've knit two already)

This is an easy cardigan with a classic look, featuring a unique collar and just a bit of colorwork.   Both the details and the sport weight yarn are delicate, making it a perfect late Summer/early Fall sweater that will go with shorts and a tank as easily as jeans and boots.  It's basic by-the-water  or on-vacation knitting, with seamless construction, lots of stockinette, and a simple mix of stripes -- accented by a 5-row design from Mary Jane Mucklestone's collection of 200 Fair Isle Motifs.   You've heard me mention MJ's books before, and once again I'll tell you that if  you want to play with colorwork, you need one (or two) of her collections.

The narrow shawl collar is worked in garter stitch with a garter rib center, which makes for a distinct border around the fold that I just love.  The stitch patterns kind of play off one another with the border peeking out from below around the neck, emphasizing the different textures. It's a fun collar to knit, and I think the effect is kind of cool.

But the real beauty of this design is the way in which you guys can play with it.  My overall plan with this cardigan was to create a basic sweater pattern that could be customized and modified at will,  depending on what you had in stash and what you wanted to wear.  Just look at the test knits once they pop up on Ravelry!

So, yes - modifications are simple and you know I've added notes throughout the pattern.  It's knitted from the top down with contiguous shaping at the shoulders, so length or width throughout the sweater can be adjusted easily as you go.  Depending on what you have for accent colors, you can knit the colorwork as designed or add your own design.  You can  play with this motif, add or remove stripes, change the placement of the entire panel, or even change the main color when you run out of yarn and must knit from stash (see my second knit below, which I'm calling Stirred).  I totally ran out of Left Coast, so finished the sweater in Message in a Bottle, creating a pale green block at bottom.

Like a martini - the options are endless!  Gin, vodka, shaken, sitrred, olives, onions....

The pattern is available for $7.00 on Ravelry or on my Patterns Page here on the blog.  Some details are below and the rest of the information, plus all the test knits, can be found on Ravelry.


Yarn:  The Plucky Knitter Primo Sport, 275 yards per skein. 1100(1150,1200,1250,1300,1350)(1400,1450,1500,1550,1600,1650) yards of main color.  Plus, about 50 yards ea of 3 accent colors. 
Shown in:  MC, Wintry Mix  AC:  Left Coast, Narragansett Gray, and Sticky Toffee

Sizes:  33.5(35.5,36.25,39.5,40.75,43)(45.25,46.5,48.75,52,53.5,55) Finished width around bust.  Worn with 2.25" ease in photos, but this classic shape can be worn with more or less ease if a different silhouette is desired. 

Gauge:  5.5 sts, 8 rows per 1" in stockinette, 5 sts, 8 rows per 1" in garter stitch. 

For those of you looking to get your hands on some Primo Sport to knit yours, there will be a Plucky Knitter Update soon.  Sarah is moving into a new space this week, and timing on the update will be announced when they have things settled.  In the meantime you can evaluate what you will need and what goes best with the colors you may have!  Check the Plucky board on Ravelry for any announcements.

Have SO much fun with this!   As for cocktails, below is a whole list of martini variations you can play with if you want - shake or stir 'em. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

There is a line about the biggest hurdle to success being the ability to show up in the first place, available and ready to go.  Of course, I can't remember it right now, but if I could, it would be a totally appropriate way to begin a blog post about last weekend, when I decided to show up at Squam Art Workshops. 

Actually, I didn't decide.  I was emailing back and forth with my friend Amy on Friday morning and she included the sentence, "Any desire to just drive up to Squam on Saturday and check it out?".   YES.  And as I thought about it, I realized there was really no reason this couldn't work.  My family members all had things they could do, my car worked, and the drive is less than 2 hours away.  I picked up the phone and within moments, Amy and I had Travelocity (or something like that) up on our screens, confirming a Squam-adjacent room for one night.

Our little motel was kind of perfect, and made for a lovely Saturday afternoon/Sunday morning on the beach with snacks and drinks and knitting.  I can even justify it workwise, since Amy and I have a few things in the works and we got to spend a little time on them.  Plus, I picked up a little Fibre Company Canopy for an upcoming collection, got color advice straight from Jared Flood on a BT sweater I have on my mind, and bought stitch markers (much needed) from the lovely Karen Templer of Fringe Supply Co.    So really, I kinda HAD to go.  

I'd been hearing about this retreat for years, sighing over the photos of porches and cabins and rustic rooms full of sparkling lights -- and inviting docks and sparkling water.   And even though we were at the actual retreat for just one evening, the magic I'd seen in all those photos absolutely translated.

Here was the walk into the Art Fair - candles in giant ice blocks and a thousand twinkly lights (of which you only see a few in this pic).  So many beautiful things for sale, and more importantly, all the lovely people who make those things.  Plus, all of the other people who make things - Elizabeth, who makes the entire event happen - the Ravelry crew who makes the "space" that allows us to be together time and time again, friends who make yarn and designs that inspire me  (and you) constantly, and the retreaters who love and make all of the things that inspire them.  Knitting, sewing, jewelrymaking, writing, pottery, photography - you name it.  It's a bit overwhelming and it fills me with that lump in my throat that comes from knowing that it's all part of something bigger.  Something beautiful and earthy and connected - and based in what we do with the things we love to play with.  And I was only there for a bit of socializing on Saturday night!  Is it pathetic that I'm waxing all poetic about it after a few hours (and a few beers) or does it just speak to what Elizabeth has created?  I'm going with the latter.

I ended my 26 hour trip by spending Sunday afternoon in bustling downtown Ashland where we found a restaurant that sells vintage magazines and a thrift shop featuring both R2D2 and one of the dudes from ZZ Top (He's looking down here so his beard and shades are hidden, but trust me on the resemblance.)  was a nice way to start the drive home.  So, pretty much it was an all around win, yes?

I'm so glad I decided to show up.
And since Amy apparently liked the word:  #squannabee, highly recommended.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

It's been a little while since my last sweater, but Shaken and Stirred is just about ready to go!  Those of you who went to Grand Rapids for the Shindig saw a few of the test knits in the Fashion Show, and the rest of the test knitters are finishing up. I am hoping to release it next week  - and with all this extra time between designs,  I was able to knit a second version.  So -- if the colorwork original is Shaken, I'm thinking that the second one is Stirred.

I used the same instructions as for the first, except I went all stripes and my yarn quantities dictated a different collar.  It was great brainless knitting while I worked on other fall design swatches and ideas - and now there's more room on the yarn shelf, so I definitely derserve a drink, yes?

I realize I've been remiss with the Cocktail half of things around here - but rest assured there have been drinks.  It's only on the blog that I've been letting it slip.  Check out my Instagram (@theacolman) and you'll see what I've been doing in the cocktail department on most nights.  I find it's just easier to post there while mixing and making dinner than to take the photos and get back into the office here for a proper blog update. 

But I have a little time right now, and a few photos of what I mixed up last night, which was pretty good.  This particular drink came together thanks to both Facebook and my hairstylist.  (As they often are inspired by my travels in a given day, that's where I traveled yesterday.)

Early in the day, Laura Nelkin posted a photo of a rhubarb ginger syrup she had made, which she was mixing with seltzer - so of course, that led to a conversation about what else could be mixed with it, right?   I made myself some Rosemary syrup a week or so back, and it was so very easy and  great with a bit of gin and lemon, so I logged off Facebook with plans to get some Rhubarb at the Farmer's Market this weekend and get cracking.

Then I went to get my hair cut and my stylist started talking to me about his favorite summer cocktail, which also sounded crazy good.   It's based on a combination of pink grapefruit, mint and pear vodka.  The liquor store is conveniently located right down the street from the hair place, so I made a pit stop on my way home.  And since rhubarb and pear were on my mind, these came home with me.

I can call it the Tommy Nelkin (my stylist and Laura's names?) can't I?
In a jigger, combine ice w/ 1 part bourbon and .75 parts pear liqueur and give 3-4 shakes of the rhubarb bitters.  Shake and pour over ice.  Add a splash of soda and a few slices of pear.

I'm going to work on a version of that grapefruit-mint-pear thing too. But not today.

Today, I need to get back to this, which will be Zoe's sweater eventually.   She's been bitter ever since Maya got her Mango Smoothie, so keep your eyes out for her very own, a Shirley Temple, in a few months.   I am dying over the color of this yarn by Sandra of  Duck Duck Wool.  It's a deep red with subtle undertones of orange in it.  It might be the happiest yarn I've ever knit with - so it's kind of perfect for Zoe, isn't it?  :)

Monday, June 02, 2014

So, it finally, finally feels like June around here.  New England has been waiting so patiently for some sunshine and flowers and warmth, and we're getting it.  My kids may still have a month of school left (thank you January snowstorms....) but that means I have a month left to work on the deck and plan things.

And I'm a sucker for the planning - especially when it means day trips around here. I love me a "best beaches" or "hidden treasures" or "10 festivals not to miss this summer" article.  So when I saw this at the bookstore last week, I snatched it up and went home to flip through while working on some cables.

I immediately gravitate to the trips up North when I get these magazines, so I was doubly pleased when I flipped it open to an article all about sheep shearing off the coast of Maine with gorgeous photos taken by Gale Zucker! And it was totally kismet-y because I'd just been thinking about Gale and her gorgeous photos and emailing about my own trip up to Portland, ME that morning.  So I'm pretty sure the universe wanted me to blog about it.  Hence this Monday AM post with my coffee.

So, there is this amazing place in Portland called A Gathering of Stitches - which is a "making" space for fiber and textile craftspeople".   And what that means is that it's a space dedicated to all of us - they have spaces and equipment and resources for the fiber community to use, and they host all kinds of classes and workshops and events in a number of crafty disciplines.  I think it's brilliant.

And I had just been discussing the Gale's workshops when I opened that magazine.  She's doing a weekend of classes the last weekend in June.  I always think she brings such personality into all of her shots.   Have you seen what she did at Rhinebeck?  This montage of portraits from the Festival may be one of my favorite things ever.  You can't watch it without smiling.  She gets us all.

And even in a still shot, she creates something cool:

Anyways, I hear through the grapevine that there is a spot or two left over that weekend,  and I know it will be a great experience for all involved.  That personality in her work comes from somewhere real -  she is not only talented, but warm and funny and engaging in person - I know this for a fact, since we've hung out - and maybe had a drink or two over dinner. 

But I should probably mention my class, don't you think?

I'll be teaching a Design Workshop where I take you guys through my own design process, talk about yarn and stitch patterns and construction and details and what to think about/how to put it all together. As we go through the steps, you'll be working on a little something with yarn from stash that you'd been dying to use up, and when it's all done, you have marching orders to design your own cowl.  I've taught this a few times now and it's just fun, I promise.

October 4th, and the page is up to register already.

So that's one trip up to Portland I've managed to wrangle together - now I just have to work in one of these and I'll be all set.  Happy Monday, people.  I'll check back in soon.