Saturday, August 22, 2015

Since returning from our European trip, we've gotten to the beach, seen old friends, had over a week's worth of houseguests, taken a trip to New Hampshire, been on a few boats, gone to the C2C warehouse a few times, and caught up on a ton of laundry.

The knitting is still languishing, I'm afraid.

I had a few workdays set aside last week, as my parents were visiting with my sister and her kids, and they had plans to take all the cousins on a slew of Boston adventures for the week, none of which required my presence.  On day 2, my poor Mom broke one foot and sprained the other (she doesn't do anything halfway, that one.).  With two feet out of commission and my sister already back in California, my presence was again required and the kids moved back into the guest room at our place.  My Mom was ever the trooper and everyone still had a great time together, but those workdays disappeared pretty fast. 

Lucky for me, I sorted out my Rhinebeck sweater a LONG time ago.  And I had Mezcal ready to launch upon my return.  You've seen tidbits of my two Europe projects - both of which remain in various stages of knitting and editing. There are a lot of other things in the works as well, since I began my Fall projects with a July and August "vacation" in mind.  But nothing is really ready yet.  And I still have a ways to go before they are.

But I promised myself that this year I wouldn't drive myself crazy with self imposed deadlines, and I'm going to stick to that.  Try to find a little balance and let these projects evolve as they need to.  Spend some time with my family and occasionally leave the knitting bag at home.  It was good to do that this summer, and it made me realize how often I don't stop, because it's so easy to just keep knitting. I'm lucky that I love what I do, but there are times when it's just a little too much.  And I'm often not the one who realizes when it is. So from now on, I'll stop a little.  I'll keep it up, but I'll also let myself find those little spaces between.  You guys always say you need more TIME to knit all the things, so here you go.  Knit away!  There's no rush.

In the meantime, Kim who is Dreamknitgirl on Ravelry, is kicking off a great Rye KAL in my Ravelry group - there are some great prizes (including a grand Ultra Alpaca prize from Berroco) and a fun bunch of knitters involved,  so check it out.  If you are already knitting or thinking of making this one, feel free to join in and say hi!

Besides that, how about a few sneak peeks of various things on and off my needles?  

There's an almost finished sweater in Lakes Yarn and Fiber's Hayden DK...

Something soft and lacy in Sweetfiber Yarns Cashmerino DK:

Some cushy Valley Yarns Deerfield on deck,

Colorwork in Bare Naked Wools Kent,

and an upcoming project with YOTH!

There's a bunch more, but these were the pictures readily available on my laptop and I felt like it was high time to check in and say hello without further delay.  I'll be resuming my drinks and posts again soon, as life falls back into a routine. 

I have a little time before I get my real workdays back - the girls don't go back to school until Sept 9! So there are a few more weeks of family day trips, back to school errands and extra kids over here - but at least I'm back in town, without a house full of guests, and my time is predictable (or knittable..) once more.

See you soon!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Mezcal is my sweater for when the days of Summer turn to Fall this year.  With an easy fit, a touch of (well, a lot of...) simple lace, and a classic shape that can easily be worn with either shorts, jeans or a dress, it's going to be a good one to grab when I go out the door....

Mezcal is a soothing project with a repeatable motif that makes for great travel and beach knitting.  Seamless construction means that finishing up just a few edges is easy and goes quickly.

And bold, vertical lines are always flattering.

I added a few details, like these little darts on the saddle shoulders....

and a ribbing that plays off the lines of the body, and deep cozy cuffs.

The undertones in Julie Asselin's Leizu DK are what really shine in this cardigan and she knows how to work the silk and wool content in this base for some beautiful combinations.  It's gorgeous yarn to work with - the silk adds just a bit of sheen and a rustic quality to the fiber, plus it takes the dye in some amazing ways, and is soft and warm to wear.  She's got five gorgeous colorways available - Satchel, Chesapeake, Aux Cayes, Blackberry Coulis, and I'm Blushing - right HERE especially for Mezcal, in case you want to try some of the Leizu yourself.  And there are  also a  number of select yarn shops in Canada, the US, and Europe that carry Julie's yarns. 

All the details and test knits can be found on my Mezcal Ravelry page, with a link to purchase the PDF for $6.50.  You can also find a link on the patterns page of this blog.

As for the drink itself -- Mezcal is a deep smoky tequila.  It's an amazing taste to mix into a cocktail. 

The deep smoky tones in the Satchel shade of the Leizu were the perfect excuse to play with it a little. And honestly, you can pretty much substitute Mezcal for anything you put tequila in - a Smoky Paloma is amazing.  And a Mezcal Margarita is also pretty good - especially when it's a watermelon or other fruit flavor.  However, this one recipe below, from Food and Wine's website -  is delicious.  I'm linking to the site since their drink looks way more attractive than the one I made, plus they should get credit for their concoction.

Maguey Sour

If you are thinking of getting a bottle for your home bar, I'll tell you right away, do a little research and don't buy the first bottle you see on the shelf that costs under $30.  The Monte Alban is not so good.   Here is a website with lots of different Mezcal reviews - or you can always just order a Mezcal drink at your local bar and leave the research and purchasing to them!

I hope you enjoy both - the sweater and the drink - maybe you can work on it while sipping something new and smoky ;)

Thursday, August 06, 2015

One of the highlights of my trip to Europe was a long weekend spent in Brighton, England.  If you've never been to Brighton and are close enough to get there, I can't recommend it enough.  What's not to love?  There's a charming town, a gorgeous beach, a great pier, a pavilion and park, terrific restaurants, bars, and YAK - a fabulous yarn shop.   I had a trunk show and cocktail party there on Saturday, so it was a great excuse to spend the entire weekend in Brighton and get to know both Kate, who owns YAK and Ce, who's the wonderful person behind The Uncommon Thread, a bit better.

We arrived early on Friday to explore. I was hooked the moment I saw the beach view from the hotel porch.

 First things first, though.

It was a gorgeous sunny (very rare at a British beach, I've been told) day on the beach and pier, and after a beer or two on the "sand" (small pebbles), I splurged on unlimited ride bracelets.  Because that ferris wheel was calling.

There is nothing better than bumper cars, a cheesy old haunted house, and a pier roller coaster that goes out and up above the water.  It was a great afternoon with an old friend, before the knitting began.

We met up with Ce and Kate at cocktail hour for some great gin drinks, followed by dinner.  I'd been talking to both of them via the internets for months, but there's no substitute for in person.  It was a treat to spend time with both of these ladies and I'm so happy to have had the chance to be with them in the real world.  Ce knows the town inside out and was the best guide!   Kate does too - she runs YAK and is just lovely. 

Plus, Kate took the time to make these little drink tickets for the bar on Saturday, so she became my favorite shop owner ever in about two seconds.

Early on Saturday, we visited Ce's studio in Hove, which is right next to Brighton.  It was full of gorgeous yarn that I saw and fondled and coveted but have to keep to myself.  New colors, new bases, and the gorgeous ones you already know.  Mmmmm.  Then Ce played tour guide and took us back to Brighton to show us around the Lanes.  The Lanes are a series of charming streets full of of restaurants and shops and murals and quirky flea market tables of vintage finds on the sidewalks. Kind of Haight Street (as it was years ago) meets England.  And murals...  It's seriously my kind of place, but damn that suitcase limit! 

But people, that's exactly where YAK is.  Smack dab in the Lanes. 

If I lived in the UK, I'd be spending my Saturdays in the Lanes and then buying yarn.  And maybe hit the beach afterwards.  Every week. She couldn't be in a more charming spot.

We did pop into YAK early in the day for some pre-trunk show shopping, as Kate stocks so many local yarns that I can't find here. I got two skeins of John Arbon's Knit by Numbers, which I'd heard about at Squam and was dying to find in the UK..  I also scored a skein of Lioness Arts, another yarn I've heard raves about and hadn't seen in person before. 

As for the trunk show itself, I always get distracted and never remember to take photos, but I'll borrow Kate's!  You can see the shop and the awesome little bar she set up, and some of our happy yarny guests (with drinks in hand..). 

Sadly, Victoria of Eden Cottage Yarns was a bit under the weather, so we didn't get to see her - although both Dubonnet and Cardamom Rose made a showing. However, Ce was there to represent The Uncommon Thread, and there was plenty of yarn to go around.

It was a wonderful weekend, a great event and a fun excuse to meet some faraway knitters in person.  Now I just have to come up with a new excuse to knit and travel...