Wednesday, January 28, 2015


Honestly, my husband probably deserves a sweater more than anybody around here.  He's waited a thousand times while I finished one more row, spent countless hours of his life in yarn shops, lets me go to Rhinebeck on our anniversary every year, drives way more than he wants to so that I can knit in the passenger seat, has learned an entire lexicon of knitting words, and never once tried to make me go back to the corporate world for a steady paycheck.

I'd say he's earned a sweater.

So I tried to design one that he'd really love and wear.  First, I knit in one of my favorite yarns, EVER.  This is The Plucky Knitter's Scholar, (the same yarn I used in Chartreuse).  Scholar is a gorgeous tweedy mix of  75/25 merino and cashmere.  It's round and soft and warm, and no matter how picky your man is, he will love wearing this yarn almost as much as you will love knitting with it.  And you will love knitting with it.

The design is an easy, soothing knit with just a few details thrown in.  Nothing fussy, but enough to keep it interesting. 

A bold textured rib on the upper half of the sweater emphasizes a broad set of shoulders nicely and shows off the distinct lines of the yoke shaping.  A simple design, with a few details.  And seamless bottom up construction means that if you need to tweak things for fit, it's easy to do in various places.

The Plucky Knitter is known for some amazing colors, and the one shown here is Rum Raisin - which was very appropriate since high end rums are one of Craig's go-to drinks.  His favorite one is Ron Zacapa, hence the name on this design.  I love the deep burgundy shade with just a hint of brown in it,and it turns out it's pretty close to that Pantone color for 2015, so we're on trend.  

If you are hoping to get some Scholar of your own, The Plucky Knitter is having two Instant Gratification Updates this week - one is at 8pm tonight and the other is  9am tomorrow - in her Etsy Shop.  These updates feature a mix of yarns, but there will be some Scholar in the mix!  Then, next week she is planning a bigger update with more Scholar sweater quantities available for order - in case you need time to check in with your men and think about the options.....   Exact details are  here:


The pattern can be purchased on Ravelry or on the patterns page of the blog here, for $7.00.  (And it will be available through LoveKnitting for the EU knitters)  Some details are below and the rest of the information, plus the test knits can be seen here, on Ravelry.

Sizes:  32(36,40,44,48)(52,56,60)"  Based on circumference around upper chest.

Yarn Plucky Knitter Scholar, (75% m erino/25%cashmere), 255 yards per skein.  Shown in Rum Raisin.  1150(1250,1350,1450,1550)(1650,1750,1850) yards needed

Needles:  US#7/4.5mm and US#6/4mm needles, or size to get gauge.  

Gauge:  5 sts/7 rows per 1" in both stockinette and texture motif, using smaller needles. 

I can't give you a cocktail using Ron Zacapa because I am often told it's a CRIME to mix this stuff.  Pour about 2 oz into a small glass and sip.  You can add an ice cube if you want, but that's it. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Red Hot Ale.  I was skeptical about this one, but it's strangely addictive and kind of amazing.  A combination of warm dark beer, cognac, lemon and orange.  It has a lovely, deep, almost sour-but-not overtone, but then all this complex stuff goes on in the background.

Plus, serving is suggested in a teacup, which opens up a whole new category of vintage tableware around here.  I have lots of different teacups that I don't use nearly enough, so I'm excited about that.

My usual faux-working buddy Jenna is to thank for this.  She loaned me a cocktail book that her publisher is working on, and it has a whole chapter on heating drinks with pokers.  Yes, pokers.  Like when you actually stick a hot metal rod into the cup, right?  .

However, I don't own a metal rod that I was comfortable putting over my gas stove until it turned ORANGE, and I was even less likely to purchase an heating element.  I decided a small pot was still OK for this.  I still may check out the poker bit, but I have to figure out what I can use that won't burn my house down or scare the shit out of my kids and husband. I have a record (remember the dining room table/iron incident?).  It concerns them when I play with fire. 

Making the drink in a small pot worked just fine, but I'm left wondering how much better it may get if I figure out this poker thing.  I bet that heating the ends of a pair of BBQ tongs could do it.... 

For now, this worked.  I got a nice big flame, kept it on for just a few moments on high and poured straight into the teacup as soon as tiny bubbles appeared at the edges.

If you try this, note that the heat intensifies any bitterness in the beer, so they suggest something malty and not hoppy - Ommegang Abbey Ale was recommended in the book.  Plus, the fructose in your syrup will carmelize, which adds flavor but lessens the sweetness, so add a little more syrup if you want.  You might need to play with balance just a bit. 


1 oz cognac
3 oz malty but not hoppy Abbey Ale
.25 oz simple syrup
.25 fresh lemon juice
3 dashes of orange bitters
a pinch of salt
1 orange twist

Mix all but the orange peel and poke (or as I did, pour it in tiny pot and put over heat for a sec).  Serve in a teacup and twist the orange peel over the top before adding.

The book is called Liquid Intelligence and the author is Dave Arnold.  It focuses on different techniques and the science behind the perfect cocktail, so he does a ton of experimenting with heat and cold and ice and water and all kinds of things.   If you are a longtime reader, you know I'm not a perfectionist about these things, and I'd rather have my drink than spend hours figuring out if it could be just a tiny bit better.  However, the recipes are interesting and some of his techniques don't take too long to figure out.  This could be fun to play with, so expect a few more.  (Until Jenna wants her book back.)

There's plenty going on in my knitting world as well, but having just come off of an intense stint of knitting and editing, plus another amazing weekend at Slater Mill, I'm giving myself a little break here.  I'm getting ready for a few launches, playing with accessories, and progressing with my Rockwell.   

Next up (as in next week), I've got a sweater for the men in your lives....

It's called Zacapa, which is my husband's favorite rum.

Friday, January 16, 2015

because I have an entire weekend to pack for, a shower to take, and a few chores to get done before I leave for Slater Mill. 

But how often does a girl get a sweater design published in Amirisu?

Blue Sky is a simple summer tee.  It's exactly the kind of thing that I reach for when the weather gets warm - because it's light and airy and easy to wear.  Details along the raglan and side shaping are echoed at back, and short rows allow for a subtle dip in the hem.   It's lovely, soothing knitting, that stockinette.  And it's worked in Berroco's Maya yarn - a chainette yarn in a pima cotton and alpaca mix that's next to skin soft, with a touch of sheen and a flattering drape. 

There are 6 other beautiful designs in the magazine, plus articles and an interview with Amy Hendrix of Madeline Tosh - - you can see the whole thing HERE.

I'm off for a few days now - teaching and talking and trunk showing down in Rhode Island with Amy Christoffers, Bristol Ivy, Ellen Mason and Gudrun Johnston.   As soon as I do that packing.

Monday, January 12, 2015

I think I've saturated the internets with photos of my daughter in her sweater by now, but it had just been too cold to take any pics of me in my Shirley Temple once I'd finished.  And given the unusual back detail, I know that some of the adult knitters out there need to see that V on an adult rear end before they can imagine putting it on theirs.

So the moment it warmed up a bit on Sunday, I grabbed Melissa. 

I made sure to include a LOT of pics on my project page, so you can see things from all angles.  And do note that my sweater was knit with the V open to the small of my back.  The pattern contains notes on modifying the sweater for a higher V, which would create a taller, narrower opening - as well as two options for kntting the back fully closed, either with a straight line between the back cables or with a graduated angle between the back cables, mimicking the shape of the open V, but in fabric.  

Moving on from Shirley, I also wanted to share with you that I've been hosting my first KAL in my BabyCocktails Group on Ravelry.  It's a sweater KAL and your WIP can be at any stage of the game to join in. We are knitting our sweaters until Feb 16, and I've already given away a Shirley Temple's worth of Duck Duck Wool and a Hot Toddy/Plucky Hat Kit as prizes in Week 1.

Week 2 begins with this - 4 skeins of Green Mountain Spinnery's new Mewesic yarn - a lovely, soft DK tweed - in this deep gorgeous teal shade called Atlantis.

Check in on the forum to see how you can enter to win and join us for knitting, encouragement, a few drink recipes, and lots more prizes! :)

Friday, January 09, 2015

Shirley Temple was designed especially for Zoe.  Ever since Mango Smoothie, I knew this was coming, right?  Her first request was for a bright, spunky color.  And her second was for a sweater that was just a little different, and kind of fun.  But still cabled.  And classic. 

I drew a few things, she made a few comments, and we drew a couple more things. But she was sold the minute she saw the skeins of Duck Duck Wool's 100% superwash worsted in this color - September Issue.  I'm knitting another Shirley Temple for me in Duck Duck's Maker's Merino, which is another soft 100% wool, but non-superwash - cause I'm a grownup.  

(You can get your own DDW on Saturday 1/10 - tomorrow!  She's having a shop update at 9am EST with both bases and all kinds of colors for both ready to ship and custom order - - HERE)

Shirley Temple is a classic cabled pullover with a little surprise in back.  The bold lines and vivid color are SO very Zoe - she's almost boingy, she's such a happy, eager, charming little person.  The big textured cables are featured on front and back and stockinette sleeves contrast with the purl background of the motifs.

Faux seams run down each side of the sweater and are echoed with fat ribs along the center back and V detail.

As mentioned above, I decided I wanted one too -- and sized the sweater all the way up to a 52" bust.  Mine is going to be in Down Feather, a pale gray for a little maturity, and my V closes up much higher up on my body for a narrower, more closed line down my back. 

Besides the cables and the back detail, this is a basic bottom-up raglan sweater, and can be easily modified for length or width.  My ideas on how you may want to play with the V in the adult sizes are included in the pattern, as well as thoughts on knitting this with a fully closed back.

The pattern will also be for sale on the Patterns Page of my site, and on Ravelry for $7.  A few details are below, and the rest of the info is on the Ravelry page:

Child:  22(24,26,28,30) intended to fit a 4(6,8,10,12) year old.  
Adult:  (32,34,36,38,40)(42,44,46)(48,50,52) Sizing based on finished measurement around bust.  

Duck Duck Wool Superwash Worsted, 100% merino/218 yds per skein. Shown in September Issue. 
Child:  650(700,750,800,850) yds
Adult:  (950,1050,1150,1250,1350)(1450,1500,1600)(1700,1750,1800) yds

5 sts/7rows per 1" in stockinette.  US#7/4.5mm needles or size to get gauge.  Cable gauge in pattern.

PS - That hat is another of my patterns - Hot Toddy

And as for how to make a Shirley Temple?

3 oz lemon-lime soda
3 oz ginger ale
dash of maraschino juice
and a cherry.

Zoe likes it when I also add other things - like an orange slice or an umbrella or a plastic monkey.  

Sunday, January 04, 2015

This was my 2014, in knits.

It's cool to see the published designs all together and evaluate what I put out there.  It was a year with a bit more work behind the scenes than previously (two more sweaters, in fact) so there were less published knits overall.  I tried my hand at shawl design for the first (and second) time, and taught my first classes.  I also spent some time working with new methods of sweater construction and learning new techniques -- and in my travels, I found a love for portable accessory designs.   In fact, there was a lot of travel this year -- including events in Oregon, Maine, San Francisco, NY, NH, and Rhode Island - plus Quebec!  And collaborations with friends - both in the design and yarn world.  It was a year of doing new things and I've ended it with a desire to try even more.

So thinking about 2015?  You can expect more experiments in sweater construction - I have a yoked one on the needles now, which is coming along nicely in Jill Draper's Rockwell yarn. There will be  designs for the Other Members of our families, because how many sweaters can a girl have?  There will be more teaching and travel - can you say EUROPE?!!!  More collaborations with friends, designs in familiar and new yarns, and a few more mini-collection e-books.  Plus, whatever else comes to mind.  I'm a girl who likes to make some of this up as I go.  

I've kicked it off with a BabyCocktails Sweater KAL in my Ravelry group, for anybody who's interested in beginning the knitting year with some company - and great prizes and tasty drinks - CHECK IT OUT HERE! 

And, Happy, Happy 2015 to all of you!!

I sincerely thank you for sharing your yarn and your needles with me this far and I can't wait to see what you do with my next batch of designs.   I'm hoping to see lots more of all of you in 2015!  Visit me here and on Ravelry, Twitter and Instagram anytime!