Monday, June 29, 2015

Maybe?  Details are here. 

And if not, I'll be posting all my cocktails and knitting progress from the road on Instagram.  
I'm @theacolman.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

I have the honor of wrapping up this week of gin cocktails with A Playful Day, and I think it should be done in style.  I hope you have had fun reading (drinking?) along and that maybe you took a night to try one or two of the ideas we shared.  Perhaps you'll be tossing a sprig of thyme on the grill next time you make burgers or saving a few strawberries from your fruit salad for a drink with dinner in the future?

I for one, can't wait to get over to the UK and have a gin cocktail in person with Kate, but I must get through the end of school over here, and spend little time in Amsterdam and Belgium and see my daughter sing in Brugges before I make my way to Brighton.  But soon enough it will be July 11, and I know Kate and I will take time out for a cocktail somewhere.

In the meantime, for our final dueling gin drink,  I decided to make it a toast-worthy recipe.

The French 75 is a mix of champagne, simple syrup, gin and lemon.

It's important to CHILL your cocktail shaker for this one, so toss it in the freezer for a few moments while you gather your ingredients.

French 75

4-6 oz champagne
2 oz gin  (I suggest a London Dry for this one)
1 tsp/.5 oz simple syrup
.5 oz fresh lemon juice
lemon twist
crushed ice

Shake the gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and ice in the cocktail shaker and strain into either a champagne flute or collins glass over a bit more ice (not too much) and stir,  Add champagne and top with your lemon twist.  It's fresh and bubbly and festive.

I'm making mine and then raising my glass high to toast my Grandfather, who we just said goodbye to this week.   He lived a long and wonderful 90 years, and was one of the kindest and warmest people I've ever known.  Not many people get to know their great grandchildren, and we know how lucky we were to have him with us this long.  It's been a bittersweet few days full of memories and family and tears, but we know it was time and we are grateful for the many years we had with him. He will be loved and missed for years to come.  And he did enjoy a glass of champagne - so this French 75 seems extra perfect right now.  

Thanks for playing along with Kate and I.
Don't forget that the KAL will continue for one more week over on Ravelry....

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

This is working out to be kind of fun.

I started off with the Greyhound Shawl and drink on Monday.  Kate raised the ante yesterday with her lime and basil Gin & Tonic. I did make that G&T for my pre-dinner porch moment and it was perfect. The slices of cucumber make for a gorgeous drink and besides that, there was gin and basil and lime.  So it went fast.

Pressure's on now for something a little different, so I'm going to suggest a Smash today!

It's summer and the berries are in season, so this one's a Strawberry Gin Smash.   If you've never had a smash before, you'll like this - because it's a whole category of drink, and you can customize it based on what's in your fridge! There are all kinds of variations on smash cocktails, but the basic idea is to combine crushed ice, sugar, spirits, and fruit in season,  

Today, we're using strawberries, gin, & cucumber - with a dash of bitter amaro added for depth. 

Strawberry Gin Smash

2 slices of fresh lime
2-3 slices of cucumber
1-2 basil leaves
2-3 strawberries, hulled and cut in half
.5 oz simple syrup or a tsp of sugar
4 oz gin  (yep, FOUR)
1.5 oz Fernet Branca or Nardini or 1 tsp oz balsamic vinegar
and for this, you want a stirrer

In your cocktail shaker, squeeze the limes first then muddle the lime slices, cucumber, strawberry, basil and simple syrup or sugar together,

In your glass, swirl the Fernet Branca/Nardini or balsamic around just to get the essence on the sides.

Add some of your crushed ice to the glass.

Add gin and pour contents of shaker into glass with the gin, and stir.

Then add remaining ice and a splash of soda water.

As you sip and stir, the ice begins to melt and the drink comes together.  This is one you sip slowly but the ice keeps the drink nice and cold.  It's the perfect thing on a really hot day.

As I said above, a smash is fun to play with, so feel free to experiment. Dill and peach, raspberry and sage, blueberry and basil are some flavors that work especially well with gin.  I like the addition of the bitters, but you can choose to leave those off for a sweeter cocktail, or you can add a bit more of the balsamic/Fernet Branca or Nardini for some added depth in there.

So that's today's Transatlantic Gin Swap - be sure to see what Kate has in store for us tomorrow...

And don't forget - KAL prizes are vintage glass sets this week.  Join in if you haven't already, and maybe you'll be making your cocktails in these...

Monday, June 15, 2015

These two things were supposed to be separated by about a week, but my computer had other plans last Wednesday and decided to go on a 5 day vacation, so pardon the long post today.

First on the docket is a new shawl pattern I did for A Verb For Keeping Warm, in Kristine Vejar's gorgeous hand dyed Annapurna yarn.  Her colors are so beautifully distinct and delicate - it was hard to pick just two off the entire wall of shades when I visited last Fall, but I thought these were just gorgeous together - Mesa and Topological.  The shop has an actual dyeing garden out back, and every one of her shades is created from natural, sustainable extracts she's researched and sourced from either her garden, a local farmer or some corner of the world.  If you are at all interested in the art of dyeing, Kristine is your girl.  Keep your eyes out for her first book on the subject, which is coming out later this year.  She's put her heart and soul into the business of yarn and fiber and it really, really shows.  I'm so happy to share my Greyhound Shawl with you and with AVFKW.

If you want to try some of Kristine's yarn yourself, she's making up some skeins of Annapurna just like mine and you can pre-order yours --  right  here!

About the shawl itself:

I wanted an easygoing summer knit when I cast on for this.  Something that could be worked on and put down - brought in the car, taken to the beach, put in a bag - but then picked up and resumed easily. (Because summer)  I went for an assymetric shape this time, and alternated simple lace with a distinct texture and garter stripes.  The construction does all the work, creating a lovely bias and crescent shape, and all I needed to do was follow the lace pattern.

The Greyhound Shawl is very easily modified for more or less stripes, different depths or widths of the different sections, or another overall size if your taste and stash dictates.  You could easily knit this in one color,  two as I did, or even make a version with multiple stripes (perhaps a gradient?).  I think a vareigated would be lovely in the garter, with a solid in the lace.  It's easy and fun and the possibilities are endless!

More information, the test knits, and the Ravelry purchase option is right here on the pattern page. 

The colors of the yarn were absolutely suited for one of my favorite gin drinks ever,  A Greyhound.
Pink grapefruit juice and gin are pretty much made for each other, in my humble opinion.

And this brings me to the second half of my blog post.  As you well know, my trip to the UK has opened up a few doors and I've been making a new circle of friends over the internet and ocean.  One of these lovely ladies is Kate of A Playful Day, and as we've been chatting back and forth, we realized that we both have a deep, undying love and respect for GIN.

So we decided to play a little.  We are calling this Cocktail Week in my Ravelry group and since the folks at Brighton Gin are part of my trunk show and cocktail party at YAK in Brighton this July, it seems quite appropriate to gather recipes ahead of time.

You can play along in a few different ways:

1.  The two of us decided we'd do a week of back and forth dueling gin recipes on our blogs.  I'm starting today with my Greyhound and then I'm throwing it over to her for tomorrow and she'll toss the ball back to me on Wednesday. So if you're a gin fan, read both our blogs this week and you can drink along with us....

2. If you have a recipe to share, add it in the Gin Recipe Thread on Ravelry for a chance to win one of my gin-based PDFs.  If you are coming to YAK, write that recipe down and bring it with you to the shop for a little extra activity... ;)

3.  If you are knitting one of my patterns or want to cast on for one, be sure to join in on the London Calling KAL in my Ravelry group for a chance to win some lovely vintage glasses in which to drink your next gin cocktails!  Any pattern is eligible to win, and there's still two weeks before I get on an airplane.

4.  Or - just read along and find something you like and have a drink.


Lucky for me, this shawl was well suited for my combined tasks today.

My spin on the Greyhound is below:

6 oz pink grapefruit juice
1.5 oz gin
2 sprigs of thyme
a dash of honey
.5 oz of fresh lime juice

Add gin, lime juice, honey and first sprig of thyme in bottom of glass.  Do not add ice yet, as it hardens the honey. Muddle.  Remove sprig and add ice and grapefruit juice.  Stir. Garnish with second sprig of thyme and lime slice.

There are a few other yummy things to do to with gin and grapefruit that I love so I'll also add some ideas below:

- salt the rim for a Salty Dog
- add 2 oz of soda water for a Fizzy Version
- make a gin and tonic with 2 oz of grapefruit juice (this is one of my favorite drinks)

That's enough for one post, don't you think?

Kate, your turn!  See you tomorrow...

Monday, June 08, 2015

For a few days, I got to live HERE

And work HERE - with some really great students, who made 6 hour classes just fly by.

And this was my porch, right outside those classroom doors. 

Not bad, huh?

Re-entry back into daily life is always a little tough after a weekend away - but after 5 days up at Squam Art Workshops, all I really want to do today is walk straight back into the woods or glide around in a kayak with my knitting.   I knew this going in, since I had stopped by Squam last year - but the difference between a few hours of the magic that Elizabeth and her team create up there and the entire weekend is not the same.  Squam is a retreat in the full sense of the word.

It's a whole camp full of thoughtful details, like handmade wreaths on your classroom door,  knitted flowers on a wooded trail, and charming little envelopes to open each morning. 

The cabins have vintage iceboxes for your cold drinks, with actual ICE FROM THE LAKE as the cold source.  At night, twinkly lights and candles make everything  homey, and for heat, there are fireplaces in all the buildings -stocked by fairies (or college students doing their summer jobs) when you aren't looking - with logs and kindling and newspaper and matches.   The loons call out over the lake and the wind and light play around in the leaves. Giant luna moths perch on the walls, and of course, Amy Christoffers finds 4 leaf clovers every time she looks down at the forest floor.

Even a skeptic like me can't help but surrender - you end up thinking and appreciating and slowing down.  Before you realize it, you are looking around with new eyes.

And as always with these things,  one of my favorite parts is spending time with the amazing industry people who I don't always see in person.  Having a teacher cabin meant that we had time to reconnect and share our ideas and get to chat as "co-workers".   The dock was the gathering spot after classes, before breakfast, and after dinner.  We added space with some additional kayak seating and eventually worked out a two-dock system, but Squam is absolutely about friends old and new, from places near and far  -- and making room for additional people is what you are doing all weekend, both literally and figuratively. 

Plus - when you put a bunch us creative types together for a while, things start to percolate, so I am back at home now, but I have definitely taken a bit of my Squam experience back with me.  I have a notebook full of thoughts and ideas, some new yarns and a few designs in my head.  I have a bit of perspective about my place in the world and my responsibility as a person who can make a difference moving forward.  More on that later.

For now, I leave you with pom poms.

And GIANT heartfelt thank yous:  to Elizabeth for the honor of being included, to the team that made the weekend happen, and to everyone who attended and made the experience of being there so special.    XO

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Introducing the Brighton Cowl, my third pattern in the London Calling KAL!

After working in The Uncommon Thread yarn with my London Mitts, I had to come back for more.   So I ordered two more skeins - this time of the Posh DK in Cumulonimbus, and got knitting once again.  It's light and airy and squishy and round so garter was needed.

Garter and some round, cabley leaves.  The lovely sheen and airy fabric is thanks to a little silk, a touch of cashmere, and some BFL. I can't even tell you how good this feels around my neck - I knit the whole thing in two days, because I did not want to put it down.

All the details on the Brighton Cowl are on the Ravelry page, along with the test knit photos.  All you need is 2 skeins of TUT Posh DK or Lush Worsted and you're good to go.

Ce of The Uncommon Thread is having her June update this Friday June 5, at 4pm BST, so if you want to get some TUT for yourself, click here.  There will be pre-orders for the Posh and plenty of Lush on hand.  

Plus, as part of the London Calling KAL, the Ravelry code London Calling will get you 20% off the purchase price of the pattern until June 15. 

If you aren't in the KAL yet, there's plenty of time to cast on.  Knit ANY BabyCocktails pattern along with us in the Ravelry thread before the end of June.  If you're local to Brighton area, you get a little extra time - until July 11, when I'll be hosting a trunk show and cocktail party at YAK in Brighton.  With snacks and drinks and more prizes, plus gin from the folks at Brighton Gin!

(More on the gin and event piece soon, but for now: hence the name of the cowl...)

All you have to do to enter the online KAL is post a photo of your BabyCocktails project, yarn or drink in the London Calling thread in my BabyCocktails group, and each week (ish) I'm picking winners for prizes like this. 

And for those of you love my drinks, there's going to be a cocktail week in the KAL from June 15-22, with lots more drinky things, a recipe swap and a chance to win some beautiful vintage cocktail glasses I found and have been saving for just this occasion!   So join in....

Monday, June 01, 2015

Remember that squishy Uncommon Thread yarn I was playing a few posts back? 

I have about two thousand things to do this week before I walk out the door for Squam, and publishing this baby is one of them!   Stay tuned for the Brighton Cowl.