Monday, November 30, 2015

Another Bourbon is a holiday gift for my guy. It was time to add to the manhat wardrobe.

I love nothing more than bold cables.  Add some gorgeous yarn and a quick project and I'm set.  And, bonus if it's a 100% domestic Rambouillet made by an awesome family-run company that I love.

So when my skein of YOTH's new Father worsted arrived and Craig liked the beautiful brownish-taupe shade of the Cocoa, I figured this was perfect.

It seems super-appropriate to make a manhat out of a yarn called Father -- and the holidays are almost here -- and I saw my window.  One gift done, 7 remain.

All the details and a few test knits will be on the Ravelry page - and the PDF to knit the hat can be purchased for $4.50 either here on the website or through Ravelry.

As for the drink itself?  He's a big fan of Woodford Reserve - add a shot of bitters and a single cube.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

I'm knee deep in preparations for Thanksgiving, but am thinking that you may be looking for a bit of cocktail guidance?  I know I am. 

We have 19 coming this year and the guests show up tomorrow, so forgive the links!  There just isn't time for me to do a proper post with my own photos and such, but here are three ideas that I'd earmarked for possible pre-turkey cocktails.

They aren't my own, so I'm linking to the proper places:

Walnut Old Fashioned - this seemed like a cool spin on the original, with a hint of orange and a bit of nuttiness.  I kind of want to sip it by the fire after dinner....  (and walnut liqueur is not as hard as you think to find - Nocello, Nux, and a few others are usually in the specialty section at the shop)

Cranberry Champagne Cocktail - if we were a fancier family, this would seem like a good idea while people milled around before the meal.  Champagne isn't our usual Thanksgiving thing.  However,  I may save this one for a holiday party later in the season, because it's easy and festive.

Hard Cider Sangria -  in our newly-gluten free home, hard cider has gotten a lot of love lately, and I like this spin on the classic.  It won't be too sweet - or I could even add a little regular cider if I wanted to add a bit of depth to it.

There are actually a few good ones in that slideshow on F&W, give it a look through!

Plus, there's always the easy Rhinebeck Cider Mix - hot cider on the stove, and a small pitcher of add-your-own Bourbon/Cointreau/Orange Bitters on the side.  A little orange twist in the pitcher is festive, and as I just told Maureen over at Green Mountain, I go for a ration of 4/1 on my Bourbon/Cointreau mix.  A little lemon juice comes in handy if you think it's getting sweet.  The pitcher idea is nice, so that people can adjust their intake - and the kids can have plain warm cider if they want. 


Have a great holiday and tune back in on Monday! I have a new hat pattern that's just about ready to go, but I'm afraid to put anything up today since my attention is so split between things.  Monday will be better.  I'm calling it Another Bourbon, and that gorgeous yarn is YOTH's new Father.  In Cocoa.  That adorable and patient model is my DH, who tolerated a mid-hike modeling session.  And he just may wear this Thursday while making a turkey on his Big Green Egg in the cold. (Unless it's around 60 degrees out, which is possible.)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Two weeks ago, I was here.  And it was wonderful. 

I've always loved the Spinnery.  My Mom had their books on her shelf in our guest room when I was rediscovering knitting about 10 years ago, and I would leaf through them before going to sleep.  They were full of inspiring, colorful, sheepy goodness and I yearned to learn how to make the gorgeous cables and colorwork in those pages. 

Who'd have thought then that the people behind those pages would become friends and colleagues? But I'm lucky enough to say that they have. Over the last few years, one of my favorite parts of going to yarn festivals has been visiting with Maureen and Kate and Eric at the GMS booth and stepping in to peruse the new colors and yarns and samples and squeeze everything.  I've also managed to design three patterns in their yarn - Champagne, Tanqueray, and Windward Island over the last couple of years,  but I'd never actually made it up to Putney, VT.

I'm in love with everything they do - from those old books to the Spinnery's own yarns, to Jill Draper's Empire to Julie Asselin's new Nurtured.  And Maureen's cabled cardigan design which was hanging in the shop - It's called Duncan and it 's gorgeous. (Those cables and that detail in the collar are stunning...)

It really was high time I found an excuse to get up there. So when they asked me to teach at their Knitting Weekend retreat with Ellen Mason (who I also love) I was all over it and happy to finally be going up.   It was everything I'd imagined. Wooly and homey and down to earth.  These guys are all about the yarn and the process and supporting the traditions and the farms behind their skeins. They work hard and they care so very much about what they are doing and how they are doing it.  

Ellen and I arrived early and got a personal tour from Larisa, while Kate and Maureen set things up for dinner. We began in the back shed, which is piled high with fleeces - and when I say high, I mean it.  Bags, boxes, leaf bags - you name it.  The farmers deliver their goods in whatever container seems to work, and they are all stacked here.

From there, fiber eventually goes into the mill to be washed, carded, spun, plied, and steamed.  Everything is covered in a light haze of fluff and it smells amazing. ( I was told that on some days, it's not that amazing, but hey.)  The Spinnery isn't fancy and it's not big, but bells and whistles aren't needed here.  The small shop is up front, about 8x10 feet square, with shelves going up the walls, just full of colorful skeins.  A door to the right leads to the mill in back.  Space is at a premium, and every wall is lined with more hooks and shelves full of parts, tools, packages of yarn, and boxes of even more stuff.  The story of the mill is documented with a collection of photos and newspaper clippings, located along the bathroom wall, which was really the only surface where space was available.

The photo below shows the awesome layer of fuzz on the antique machinery - and hanging from the ceiling.  Fluff, everywhere.

The off-mill hours were spent in a local barn that's been made into a bright and airy community center, where meals were served and classes were taught.  The knitters were a lively bunch and made for some really fun classes.  We had views of the mountains, yummy things to eat, and amazing hosts.  I got to meet and chat with one of the Spinnery founders - Libby Mills (wearing her original Islander's Vest!), who was seated next to me.  It was a fangirl moment for sure.  Across the room, Claire Wilson spoke a bit about her own knitting story and the history of the Spinnery.  It was really inspiring to meet those two and talk about all the changes in the knitting community over the years and the connection between the leap of faith they'd taken back then and how it's led to what we get to do today.

There was also a beer thirty spent at a local restaurant/bar and a Sunday morning coffee at the Putney General Store - both a short walk from the barn, so we didn't need to venture far to explore town.
Plus, there were Saturday AM cider donuts from the farm up the road , which arrived warm out of the oven, and were the BEST donuts I've ever had.  (Plural, because I did not eat only one.)

Don't worry. I left with a bunch of yarn in hand. One of the amazing things about doing what I do is that when I love and respect a business like I do GMS, and when I get all teary eyed next to the giant machines or yep, in the bathroom looking at photos from the 1970s, I get to support them in the best way I know how.  I bought yarn.  Lots of it.  And I'm going to publish things so you can buy some too.

Mountain Mohair in Claret, Mewesic in Mean Mr Mustard, and a few skeins of Sylvan Spirit. I may have a skein of Weekend Wool and a few others here already from previous festivals.

You can definitely expect more GMS designs from me in the coming year.  And if you want to learn more about the history and story behind the Spinnery, Ashley Yousling just interviewed original founders David, Libby, and Claire along with newcomer Kate for her Woolful podcast.  It's a great episode.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Honestly, I was kind of surprised I hadn't already designed one.  A gin and tonic is one of my all-time favorite drinks and there's really no occasion when a cocktail is involved that I wouldn't be happy having one. 

So it seemed appropriate for this sweater, which I designed as a wardrobe staple.  And that has become a total go-to ever since it was finished.  It's soft, light, warm and goes with everything.

It's my go-to sweater for the rest of the winter.  I used the beautiful Hayden yarn from Lakes Yarn and Fiber, in a versatile DK weight.  This color - Heartwood - is dyed with subtle shades of cream and gray and it makes a gorgeous, sophisticated neutral.   Ami raises her own sheep out in Idaho, and dyes her gorgeous colors at the kitchen sink.  The work she puts into her fiber is obvious and it's really beautiful stuff.  She's updating the Hayden in her shop for this pattern, so look HERE on Friday 11/13, anytime after 10AM EST.

I had a little fun with detail - since I appear unable to work anything in simple stockinette.  A delicate texture is featured on the body, with long cozy cuffs and a deep hem.  (and yep, that's a ring on my sister's finger!)

Distinct cables line the sides of  the body.  At the hem, those cable tails flow into the ribbing - and at the armholes, they open up and slant outwards, creating the lines of the seam that runs up the yoke.

A really cozy cowl neck is perfect on a cold winter day, and in the DK, it's not heavy or bulky to wear.  Plus, the pattern has instructions to make a crew or turtleneck if preferred. 

As with all my other patterns, there are instructions to modify the sweater for depth or width easily, and bottom up construction means that you can check things as you go and be sure you like the fit of the final sweater before you finish it.

All the details and a few test knits are here on Ravelry, so for more information, go here.  The PDF is available for $7 either on the pattern page in Rav or here on the blog. 

As for a Gin and Tonic (the drink), my favorite thing is to play with one.  I almost never make a simple combination of gin, tonic and lime.  That's good too, don't get me wrong.  But the refreshing fizz of a G and T is kind of a blank slate for me.

A few ideas, if you want to play too, are below:

Add a dash or two of  bitters is wonderful and they come in so many great flavors that work with gin - lemon, graperfruit, celery, orange, or rhubarb - just to name a few.

Pour a splash of grapefruit juice, apple cider, or lemon/limeade in there.  

Muddle a little something at bottom - apple, orange, lime, lemon, pear or cucumber are all yummy.

Smush a few herbs and throw them in - dill, rosemary, or basil are my favorite gin partners.

And don't forget the gin itself -  there are so many kinds out there, and they each add their own flavor to the drink.  My current favorite is aged gin - shown below.  It adds a little depth to the flavor - which is perfect as the weather gets cold.


So here's the basic "recipe" - and then add whatever you like -

Start with a tall glass.
Put a few ice cubes in there.
Add 2 oz ice-cold gin (I keep mine in the freezer)
Then pour in 6-8 oz of tonic (make sure it's good and fizzy.  Flat tonic can really kill the drink.)


Monday, November 02, 2015

The Southern Comfort Cowl was exactly what I needed as the chaos of Halloween and fall sports hit around here.  Some really gorgeous yarn, paired with some easy-to-knit cables.  On #10/6mm circulars. This thing flew off the needles and it hasn't been off my neck since.


Shalimar's Breathless DK was already one of my favorite go-to yarns, so when Kristi mentioned she'd created a bulky version, I had to knit with it pretty immediately. The Cush is just as soft and beautiful and lightweight as the DK, but big and round and oh-so-woofy.   Cush is available at many of the  local yarn shops that carry Shalimar, and Kristi is having an update on Wednesday Nov 4, at 12 noon EST in her Etsy shop as well:

My Southern Comfort takes 2 skeins, for a great mid-body length. You can easily adjust the cowl for a shorter or longer version if you want to play with more or less yarn - and I've also included instructions if you want to play with width.  The cables are an easy, rhythmic repeat and the long symmetrical ribs really showcase the subtle variations in the dye on this fiber.

The details are all on the Southern Comfort Ravelry page and the PDF can be purchased there or the pattern page of the blog here for $5.50

As for Southern Comfort itself, I'm thinking about the holidays - and one of my favorite things ever is a Southern Comfort Cake.  It's not from scratch and it's probably from the 1970s, and I'm sure it's bad for you.  And it's really, really good.  Friends of my parents used to bring it to our house when they visited, and when we were invited to their place for Christmas Dinner, it was always on the table:


1 Duncan Hines yellow cake mix
1 pkg. instant vanilla pudding
4 eggs
1/2 c. cold water
1/2 c. oil
1/2 c. Southern Comfort

1/8 lb. butter
1/8 c. water
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. Southern Comfort

Combine ingredients in large bowl. Beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour into greased bundt pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour. Set on rack to cool for 10 minutes. Turn upside down on serving plate. Prick top immediately; drizzle and brush half of glaze. After cake has cooled, reheat glaze and brush it evenly over cake.  (I'm also a fan of no glaze and powdered sugar)
To make glaze: Melt butter in pan. Stir in water and sugar. Boil 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in Southern Comfort.