Thursday, December 14, 2017

I have a hard time stopping when I get a hat design in my sights, so in addition to Laphroaig, these two ended up on my needles as well.

And if you are like me, you may have a hard time choosing only ONE to knit, so the Ravelry Code GIFTHATS will take $3.00 off the total if you purchase both!

Glenfidditch was Craig's second gift.  He wanted a hat to cover his ears, in addition to that scarf.  And I had this gorgeous skein of Wisconsin Woolen Spun wool in stash just staring at me.  And it looks so good with the Artifact in Laphroaig, right? 

Glenfidditch features  twisted cables placed in larger open cables, a simple diagonal detail at the brim and a pretty cool crown decrease.  And it's just beautiful in a heathered yarn like the Woolen Spun.  Since that's available in limited quantities, I also suggest Green Mountain Spinnery's Weekend Wool, knit up here in a few colors by my friends Larissa and Kate, and then they were modeled by the  
Men Of The Spinnery.   (calendar idea anyone?)

My other last minute hat, Oban is a simple knit, and it flew off the needles in one day!  Garter stitch, classic 2/2 cables and a gorgeous yarn make a deep, cozy hat with a classic vibe.  It has an extra deep brim to fold back, although it can be modified as a regular beanie quite easily.  

The yarn for Oban is fantastic stuff by Bare Naked Wools - Confection Worsted, a Corriedale fiber available in beautiful neutral shades. This one is Nougat, and it shows off the cable and texture beautifully.   

And I used my extra from Glenfidditch for the pompom! 

Both hats are for sale on Ravelry and the patterns section of the blog for $6.50 individually or $5.00 each if you get both and use the code! 

Monday, December 11, 2017

The weather was just too beautiful this weekend NOT to give Craig his first Hanukkah present a few days early - and go for a hike in it - and make him model the thing.  That's the problem with getting handknits around here, you don't just get the present, you have to do a little work for it as well.

This is Laphroaig, the exact scarf he'd been hinting at.

But he was happy to play in the snow, and I think he does like his new scarf.  See?  Seriously, this is my favorite photo ever right now. This is how everyone should look when we give them something we've knit.  That's some wooly joy right there.

He doesn't ask for much in the hand knit department, but when he does I find I'm a little powerless to say no.  He's always been incredibly supportive of this crazy job I've chosen, and even when the strange or social elements of it have him raise an eyebrow --- you HAVE to go to Scotland with your friends?? - he's never once questioned me or not pitched in to make something happen. 

So yes, when he said he wanted a classic scarf that he could wear to work or to play on the weekend, and it should be exactly this size and it should be soft and warm and just a little rustic as well, I ignored all the other deadlines and cast on.

4 skeins of SHELTER later, this really took no time and was a totally enjoyable break from the cables I also have on the needles!

Of course I wrote it up.  And it's on Ravelry here.  Since it was such a quick knit, and a relatively easy pattern to write as well, I've priced it at only $5 for the PDF.

And I may have made Craig another gift as well, but there's 8 days of Hanukkah.  I'll post that one later this week...

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Introducing Earl Grey Martini

This was totally inspired by the beautiful, intricate shawls I saw this summer in Scotland.  Knit out of delicate, teeny tiny yarn in crazy detail, the traditional shawls of the Shetland Islands are stunning confectionary creations.  But when knit in gray and brown heather, they also manage to feel a little rustic, which I just loved.

(Image from the archives, Shetland Museum Lerwick)

But I know myself.  I'm never putting teeny tiny yarn on my needles, and I don't have the patience to work a thousand lace rows on both the WS and RS of a piece.  And I also love the garter lines of the hap shawls, and figured I'd try to combine some strong garter lines with some delicate lace lines and see what happened.

(Image from The Shetland Trader, Gudrun Johnston)

I was going for a shawl that would be all of these things (because why not, right?)  Rustic, delicate and simple at the same time, knit in a gorgeous wool that was big enough that I'd stay interested.  I chose Ramble by Kettle Yarns, in a deep gray with just a hint of green to it.  Ramble is a fingering yarn. So, yeah - it's close to lace but not exactly. It's a little heftier and can be knit on #6s, which is a bit more approachable for someone like me...

I took some time, swatched a lot, sketched things and finally ended up here, with Earl Grey Martini: 

A little lace - feminine, but still geometric enough to follow easily and bold enough to be distinct, combined with lots of garter stitch, which is short rowed for a deep V at center.  I love the strong lines and the delicate edging, and this combination offered just enough complexity to keep me involved, but not overwhelmed.

The sizing is long and the shawl is deep enough at center, but not huge. I wanted something that could be worn indoors or under a jacket, in addition to being a cozy piece. And yes, I've included notes on adjusting for either length or depth in the PDF.

And I am in love with this Ramble yarn from Kettle Yarn Co, which combines Romney with Shetland wool in a lovely, round, heathered fingering yarn.  It knit up beautifully and the texture of both the garter and the lace is distinct and rustic.

All the information and more photos are up on Ravelry and the PDF is available for $7.00 either there or on the blog, in the patterns section.

As for an Earl Grey Martini,  I found this to be the best one -  although I leave off the sugar rim.
Scroll down, as she's chatty - but the recipe is simple and tasty, and I love the froth the egg whites add!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

These After Midnight Mitts are more pattern in my colorways with WEBS and Manos del Uruguay.  It's been fun to think about what kind of pattern showcases each yarn the best with these, and I am pretty happy with my choice for Smoky.

The lines of this motif highlight the deep grays so beautifully, and they make for a wonderfully squishy fabric, which is kind of perfect and satisfying on your hands on a cold morning...

I also like how the lines of the pattern allow me to play at the ribbings

And around the thumb.

The mitts are a super quick knit - and the pattern itself is extremely simple, just knits and purls!  I've included notes on how to modify these for both length or width. 

A few test knits, and all the rest of the info is on the Ravelry page, where the PDF is available for $6.50.  It's also on the "hands" section of the blog here.

And an After Midnight IS a cocktail --

1 oz bourbon
.5 oz amaretto
.5 oz creme de cacao

Shake those 3 ingredients with ice and strain into a short glass with 1 oz of cream in it.  Stir.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Just reknit in a pale gray - and re-released with my new layout, cleaner commentary, and updated measurements!  From now until Friday night, the code More Mango will get you $2 off the pattern!  And if you already purchased this on Ravelry and hadn't gotten around to making one, the new version will come from Ravelry and can be added your library.

I loved this sweater on Maya.  The yarn, the texture, and the simple cable.  And I'd always wanted one of my own. But mine would be big and slouchy and the palest of grays.

But you know, it's a time thing...  And a yarn thing, because I'm now in the habit of only buying what I'm going to design with, and why design a different bulky sweater because I really wanted THIS one?  No changes - same texture, same details.  Hence, the wait.  If it isn't a new design, it doesn't often get on the needles. That's one of the hard things about designing for a living, as opposed to doing it just for fun.  The fun knits get pushed down the pipeline.

But not always, apparently! Sometimes you can justify them. 

I had this conversation about old patterns I was updating and the few of them that I wanted to make again with the lovely Ella over at  LoveKnitting, and we got to talking about my dream bulky sweater.  And about a week later two beautiful 478-yard skeins of Cascade Ecological Wool showed up in my mailbox in the perfect pale-as-a-whisper heathered gray (#8017, if you are wondering), so I figured it was time.   

The Ecological Wool was exactly what I had in mind - it's light and lofty to wear and has the exact heather I wanted, plus it's this pale, pale natural gray that almost looks cream in some light.  I still love the bright orange version,  knit in WEBS Valley Yarn Berkshire Bulky, but that was Maya's dream sweater - big and bright and bold.  My fantasy sweater is a little earthy, natural and lighter feeling.

Unfortunately, it also fits my daughter Zoe - who is almost exactly my size.....

So, if you're so inclined, the pattern is all ready and waiting on Ravelry.  And there's that discount if you don't already own it -  plus both WEBS and LoveKnitting have both yarns in stock!

The Berkshire Bulky at WEBS is here

The Cascade Ecological Wool at Love Knitting is here

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A few things I found on the internet, while looking to see what I wanted to make for my table this year.  I'm always the host, and my crowd varies from about 18-26 people, depending on who's in  town each year and how many of their parents are here.  It's a mixed group of family and friends, often with my friends' family joining in so there are always new faces, and I kind of love starting off with a big bowl or pot of something to share...

If you're celebrating this weekend, have a great Holiday and enjoy! 

Here are a few links I found this year that sounded especially good:

Pear Sangria  (I'm leaning towards this one this year...)

Bourbon Spiked Hot Apple Cider (and I think this one would be good hot or cold)

Champagne Punch with Ginger, Lemon and Sage 
(I'd suggest leaving the ice ring out and putting cubes on the side so that things don't get all watered down)

Friday, November 17, 2017

Rusty Nail was a sweater I cast on to calm my nerves last Spring, as I watched things in the US start to tilt out of whack.  I didn't have the concentration for complex lace or cables, and I needed some soft, soothing yarn in a stockinette-heavy design for a change so that I could think while knitting.

I purposely went to a Gather Here, a local yarn shop owned by a fantastic activist woman I know and respect and I purposely chose yarn from the Fibre Company/Kelbourne Woolens to support other strong, successful women in our industry that I believe in.

Instead of doing a hat for charity this time, I'm donating $1 of each purchase of Rusty Nail from now until 2018 to Emily's List, a fantastic organization that's working hard to get progressive women all over the US to run for office. 

When I sat down to knit this, the soft merino-masham-mohair fiber and the lovely simple stitches were exactly what I needed to focus on.  It was cozy and satisfying and had just enough detail that I could work on it without messing up if my mind wandered. (Which by the way, makes this the perfect knit to work on over holiday travels....)

Although Rusty Nail IS simple to knit, it does have a few design elements to keep you engaged -- it's an open cardigan with subtle A-line shaping, and short rows dip the body down to create a longer back than front.

Once arms are joined to body, the yoke shaping is worked seamlessly to the top.  It includes a subtle saddle shoulder at the very end, which creates a lovely line for seaming the down the collar ends, and makes for a better fit. 

And in the upper yoke and end of your knitting, the two cables that run up each front are shaped down to meet around the back neck in two points for a lovely, unexpected join.  I wear my hair up a  lot, so this makes me happy. Rusty Nail is exactly the kind of sweater I love to knit - simple and classic, with just a little tweak that makes it special.

Because it is so simple, modifications are easy.  Notes are included in the pattern for adjusting the length or width of your sweater, and I also added instructions for making long sleeves instead of 3/4.
If you prefer to omit the short row shaping, that's also easy - and if you'd rather work your cable panels to meet without tapering into a point, you can do that too!  Plus, there are photos and instructions in the pattern for finishing so you can get the same lovely lines!

All the details, the test knits and the PDF pattern can be found on Ravelry for $7. 

As for a Rusty Nail cocktail, it was the color of the yarn that made me choose this cocktail - a half/half split of Scotch and Drambuie. You pour the Scotch first and float the Drambuie on top - in an old fashioned glass over ice.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Two different patterns, Rum Daisy and Hot the Top have been at the center of my desk this past week or so!   They do look pretty good together, don't they?

Rum Daisy is an old favorite of mine - I designed this in Jill Draper's Esopus yarn a few years back and have worn it tons since. However, Esopus is no longer available.  But you know what is?  MOHONK LIGHT!  And I really, really love Mohonk - so we decided to revisit the pattern and see how it looked if reknit in a new yarn, and I'm kind of in love.  I've been slowly updating some of my older patterns into my new format, so it seemed the perfect time to give Rum Daisy a little overhaul. New pics, new yarn, new format.  Right?

I even bought 2 skeins of this to knit myself one when I have time...  (The blue shawl belongs to Jill and Mindy, who knit it and is the lovely model up above!).  To coincide with the relaunch of the pattern in the new yarn, Jill just updated her ETSY shop with almost 30 new colors of the Mohonk Light and they are all stunning.  But this orangey-red really spoke to me.... 

And just in case any of you would like to do the same, the pattern has a discount code until 11/17 - RUMD2 will get you $2 off!  

Now, the second pattern up there - Hot The Top - is named in honor of my Grandma Edie.   Some of you that follow me on IG and may know that she just passed away this October.  She was a wonderful woman and a fantastic Grandma - and nothing made her happier than entertaining people in her kitchen.

If you'd ever sat around her table and had a cup of coffee or tea, she'd eventually get up and go to the stove and come back with the kettle, offering to "hot the top" of your cup.  I was knitting this during her funeral weekend, and when my stepfather reminded me of this story, I knew that had to be the name of the cowl.

She also loved doing things for others - and as a knitter, I know we are entering GIFT KNITTING season.  Hot the Top is the perfect gift knitting pattern.  It's fast and simple, easy to customize for depth or width, and super versatile for almost anyone to wear.

The pattern was designed to showcase Julie Asselin's gorgeous Nurtured yarn - so the bold lace allows the rustic quality of the yarn, and the subtle shifts in color to really shine.  It's lacy and rustic and not too delicate.  Mostly, it's big and cozy. And because it was designed for a yarn with some vareigation in color and a rustic hand, you can sub almost anything you have at  home if you want!

BUT if you want to try Julie's beautiful yarn, the code 10off will get you 10% off in her Etsy shop - link -

All the details are on Ravelry for both Rum Daisy and Hot the Top, and they are also for sale on the Neck section of the blog.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

So, there's a project we've been working on in the background for a few months now and if you get the WEBS Catalog, you may already know about it.

Steve and Kathy asked me last spring if I'd be interested in designing a BabyCocktails-inspired collection of colors in their Valley Yarns Superwash DK, which is a gorgeous merino yarn, hand dyed by the women of Manos del Uruguay.  I'm a huge fan of Manos, a women's cooperative that's done so much good for their community in Uruguay, and I do love Steve and Kathy of WEBS, so this sounded like fun.

We came up with 6 colors - Shaken, With A Cherry, Herbal, Bittersweet, Smoky and Citrus.  (I'll let you guess which is which in the photo above).   And as the winter/spring goes on, I'll be releasing patterns that feature the yarn, trying to hit each and every color!  You can only find the yarn at WEBS (here's a link to the page)

The first of these patterns are these two hats! 

Perfectly timed if you are about to begin your holiday knitting...

Deauville is a lace beanie, featuring a dense herringbone motif.  I wanted something bold but feminine, with lace, strong lines, and a soft color. 

It's an easy knit, but the lace is so pronounced that it almost reads as textural, and in this lovely pale blue, I think it's a modern take on a fitted, 70s style beanie. 

The brim plays off the lace lines to create Vs along the transition from ribbing to body, and the hat crown kind of swirls around as it decreases.

Cadiz features stranded colorwork in an intricate pattern that reminds me of stained glass.

It's easy to follow once established, and I just love how the borders of the medallion shape work when used for the crown shaping.

I have always wanted to pair deep red and pale blue in colorwork, and definitely had this design in mind when I was picking my WEBS colors....

Both hats can be found on my Ravelry page and will be in the patterns section of the website here. 

The yarn, as mentioned before, is exclusive to WEBS, and can be found here. 

Enjoy!  And there will be more coming as the year goes on.....

Friday, October 20, 2017

RHINEBECK 2017 - My Saturday Sweater, Rye & Rum Punch!

Wandering around the bluffs in Scotland last summer, Jill Draper mentioned to me that she was going to be doing a little partnership with Rachel Atkinson of Daughter of a Shepherd yarns, starting with Rhinebeck this year.  Now, if you aren't familiar with both of these guys, you may not realize how fantastic a match this is, but let me tell you it's a good thing we weren't on the edge of a bluff when Jill told me, because I literally lost my footing I was so excited!

Both of these women are incredible voices in the world of wool and in keeping farming and farmers and sheep doing what they've been doing for years.  They know fiber and they know animals, and they value the people who work so hard to make yarn available to us. And, of course both of them make fantastic, beautiful yarn.

So, to celebrate this partnership, Kirsten Kapur and I each set about designing something that would feature a combination of both fibers.  Kirsten, of course, is known for gorgeous shawl designs that showcase color and texture, and I'm a sweater fan.  You can find out more about Kirsten's Targhidean  (shown on the left below) on Raverly, and I'll share a little more of the story behind Rye &Rum Punch here. 

I chose to pair Jill's Mohonk with Rachel's DK weight yarn.  While playing with the yarns to see what they may want to do together, I was smitten by the way Jill's colors shine in the dark shades of Rachel's Hebridean fiber. Every single color was gorgeous against that deep brown.  Honestly, the hardest part of designing this sweater was trying to choose only two colors for my contrast colorwork.  But I did, and I love how the simple tone on tone shading of the pinks adds a sophisticated feel to the sweater.

The inspiration behind the design was the classic LL Bean Norwegian sweater I owned back in high school, a simple navy pullover with small white flecks all over the body and sleeves.  When designing Rye & Rum Punch, I wanted a more feminine feel, so I added a more modern shape, an open neckline, and some detail along the sides and raglan seams.  I also chose to create a few solid color sections on the body and sleeves, then added deep ribbings to the cuffs and hem. And thanks to these design elements, altering length or width of your sweater won't affect the colorwork panels at all!  I do love how it updated the original, and think this is an extremely wearable sweater for my wardrobe!.  I see it with an off-white shirt tail peeking out the bottom, and a bit of the collar showing at top.

Remembering how hard it was to choose my colors, I made sure to give you a little flexibility if you want to play with your colors as well.  These motifs are simple and versatile, so you can swap and use Jill's yarn as the background and Rachel's as the accent color, or you can choose one of Jill's vareigated colorways instead of matching single skeins, letting the dye job do the striping for you. You can also play with more or fewer accent colors, add more or less "stripes" into the colorwork sequence as needed, or work the colorwork panel to a different depth - and notes on all of that are in the pattern.

All the important information is on the Ravelry page, and the pattern is for sale both there and here in the Patterns section of the blog for $7.00.

Over the weekend, both Jill's and Rachel's yarns will be available at Jill Draper's Open House on Saturday night in Kingston NY.  

If you are not at Rhinebeck or missed RSVPing to the Open House, Jill and Rachel's online shops will re-stock AFTER the festival and I will post everywhere when they are ready and back up for business.  

This weekend, the shops are closed because those two women are quite busy offline!

(However, Loop London may just have 25 skeins of the DOAS DK listed on their website at the time I'm typing this blog post, if you are in the UK.)

If you are thinking of substituting yarn, you want a nice, wooly DK weight fiber.  Gauge is 22 sts /28 rows per 4"/10cm in stockinette, based on final, blocked fabric.


As for actual Rye & Rum Punch, Jill will be making up a batch for the Open House --

The following recipe is supposed to serve 20 people, so I don't really have any reason to make some for myself right now - I'll get a photo on Saturday, I promise.

2 quarts of Rye Whiskey
1 pint Jamaican rum
1 fresh pineapple, sliced in small chunks
6 sliced oranges
4 quarts of club soda
sugar to taste

Mix Rye, and Rum and add sliced pineapple. Add orange slices as well and then pour club soda in slowly to retain carbonation.  Add sugar to taste and serve over ice cubes in punch cups!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Some yarn is just meant to be shared.  And that's what my latest pattern, Blended Scotch, is all about.

This pattern comes from the love I have for our community and a desire to do something to honor the connection we have with our knitting friends. Thanks to the internet, many of us live in different states and have very different lives from our knitting besties, which makes us get creative about our adventures. For the past 10+ years, my fiber people have become some of my closest friends and I can't even put into words how much I value the conversations and travels, and shared knitting and fantastic experiences we've had over the years. 

SO...  When I was up in New Hampshire visiting Ellen Mason, who is one of my favorite knitting people, we went down into her magical studio and she pulled out this gorgeous yarn she'd been working on with Tammy White, who is one of her favorite knitting people.

The two of them had paired Ellen's Doc Mason Wool with Tammy's Wing and a Prayer Farm fiber to create these beautiful skeins, and of course they made adorable labels and named it The Happiest Yarn.  (If you do not know those two, they are the Happiest People.)  Not only did they create beautiful skeins of the natural gray and white, but they decided to make up bags of 12 mini skeins in various hand dyed colors. There are 5 natural shades by Tammy, 5 gorgeous brights by Ellen, and a
mini each of the gray and white, all intended for a little colorwork.

I went home with a skein each of the naturals, and a bag of minis.

That's a LOT of yarn. More than one knitter is going to get to.

But I had just been in Shetland on Gudrun and MaryJane's Grand Shetland Adventure, so I had both friends and colorwork on my mind. I had been obsessed by stranded mitts the whole time, and the idea of sharing this bag of happy yarn plus making some Shetland style mitts was one that seemed TOO perfect. I was also thinking of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, where a few friends in faraway places had a pair of jeans that they shared by sending the pants and notes of their adventures to one another. Pardon the phrase "sisterhood" if your knitting circle is mixed gender - that's where the phrase came from, and it just illustrates the sharing part of this project too perfectly to not use it.. 

I created Blended Scotch, a mitt pattern that I feel is fairly straightforward, but easily modified if you're a bit more adventurous.  The colorwork is done in two sections, with plenty of straight stockinette between. The mitt has instructions for modifying either length or width, and you can omit the fingers if you want a simpler project.  For a more challenging knit, you can easily add an allover peerie pattern to the solid sections, add a motif or two in between these, or play with the charts to add more colors!  The idea is that this pattern can work for either a novice or more experienced knitter, and it can be knit in whichever colors in that big bag shout the loudest.  I wanted something that worked for all the possible levels of knitter within a bunch of friends.

We ended up with a mix of colors, 4 small and one large size pair, and one fingerless version.  These three used a solid gray background, and the fingerless pair are at the right. 

So here's the plan as I see it:

1.  Gather 4 friends, so you have 5 in your Sisterhood.  You can have less people knitting, but if you have more than 5, the 6th knitter will need to get creative about using more than one MC for the background, perhaps a different color wrist or section between the motifs....

2.  Purchase the yarn (info below on where to find it).  Each knitter should please purchase their own PDF copy of the Blended Scotch pattern, which will go in their Ravelry library. (This yarn is meant for sharing. Knitting patterns are NOT meant for sharing, and they really do pay my bills.)

3. Decide who knits first, second, third, etc, and make sure you have everyone's addresses!  The first knitter will begin with 1 skein of white, 1 skein of gray, and the bag of minis.  Each of you will choose your colors, knit a pair of mitts and send the remaining yarn onto the other knitters.

4.  As you knit, keep track of how much you use of each color. Make a card with your usage to send on with the yarn so the next knitter will know exactly how much is left of each color that remains.

5. When done with your mitts, each friend sends the remaining yarn plus the usage info (and maybe treats) onto the next knitter until you each have a pair of mitts!  There is plenty of yardage in the box for more than 5 pairs of mitts if you get creative about color usage, so the last knitter gets to keep the leftovers as a consolation for being last.  They can probably make a few more pairs of stripes or mixed color combos....

6.  (optional) Everyone meet somewhere to photograph your hands all together!!

There's one thing more I need to share, so nobody is disappointed.  The Happiest Yarn is available in limited quantities. Right now,  Ellen and Tammy have about 20 kits on hand, and they can make up about 20 more after they return from Rhinebeck if the demand is there. After that, we have to wait until June for more fiber. 

If you miss out on these and cannot wait, you can absolutely substitute yarn. I suggest Jameison of Shetland DK.   It's beautiful Scottish yarn, available in over 100 colors and it's right on gauge. Jameison's is one of the mills keeping the traditions and yarns of the Shetland Islands alive, so you can definitely feel good about purchasing yarn from them - and they fit into the whole community and friendship theme because the only way most of us (if any of us) get to visit them is when traveling to Shetland with knitting friends.

For each pair of mitts, estimate about 80(90) yds/75(85)m of a MC, about 25 yds/23m of each of 3 ACs, and about 10 yards of a fourth AC. You may use a little less of those ACs, but I estimated high so you won't run out when grabbing a short leftover bit!

Gauge is 24 sts/32 rnds per 4"/10cm in stockinette, based on final, blocked fabric.


You can purchase The Happiest Yarn at the New York Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck this weekend at the Battenkill Fibers booth, while quantities last.

After the fair, any available kits will be in Ellen's Esty Shop:

You can find Jameison's DK here:

Or here, at some of their stockists :

The Blended Scotch pattern is available here on my blog and also on Ravelry for $6 per copy. More details and photos will be on the pattern page.

A huge thanks to Sandy Aldridge, Melissa Hunter, Julie Van Cott, and Jody Batchelor Campbell, who were the Sisterhood of these beautiful mitts.  A wonderful bunch of smart, funny, amazing women I've known for years through this knitting world.  I hope you all enjoy this as much as we did.  xo