Saturday, January 28, 2017

That halo had me the moment the yarn arrived. It's not what I usually knit with, but it just wouldn't be ignored.  And because I totally went with that urge, here's a new cowl pattern called Gin Thistle.


Jill Draper's new Brunswick yarn is big and bold and sheepy. It's a mix of Corriedale - sourced from small farms in Maine and NY - and Mohair, from Jill's own Mom's flock of goats. She describes it as a soft and shiny faux single. It's still rustic and has a bit of personality, and it's just gorgeous to look at.

As always, Jill has created a yarn you can feel really good about, because it's sourced locally and spun up at Green Mountain Spinnery and supports the small farms and businesses we love and need. It even has just a little bit of chaff in it, since it wasn't treated with any harsh chemical washes. And I tell you, I need to be knitting with something I can feel good about right now. This one is some much needed comfort food.

I love bulky yarn in simple lines, so I went with geometric cables that cross in and out to create a big diamond pattern around the cowl.  I played with the ribbing transition above and below the cables, as I kind of love to do, but for the most part, this is simple TV watching, potato-chip knitting. Once you get the rhythm of it down, it flies off the needles and you're done.

I did add just a little detail to frame the cable panel, but in the freezing cold we didn't manage to get a good photo, and then we ran back inside for more of those yummy drinks - so pardon the dining room table shot below!

My lovely friend Misa is the model again - she was easily bribed out into a blizzard after a few drinks at a really cozy bar (The Oak Room at the Fairmont Hotel) in Copley Square.  It was crazy cold and the light was a bit hard to capture, and we had to keep moving, not only to get warm but to avoid getting news trucks in the shots, as they were all parked right below us in the square. We were the only ones out there besides the news people, who were probably wondering what the hell we were up to on the steps of the church there....

As you can see by how she's wearing it, the cowl is designed to be worn over your coat, or long - as opposed to doubling around your neck. This fiber wants to be seen, more than it wants to be folded over and snuggled into. Although Misa did snuggle into it and says it was a perfect shield against the blowing snow. 

The pattern is available on Ravelry for $6.00, and on the blog as well.  Jill has some gorgeous colors of Brunswick up on her Etsy Page right now, including the Celadon that I used. For Gin Thistle you want 2 skeins of this beautiful stuff.

Don't you want to squish it?

As for Gin Thistle, the cocktail -

2 oz gin
.5 oz cynar
.5 oz yellow Chartreuse
1 dash cardamom bitters
squeeze of lemon

Shake the above ingredients with ice and strain into a small, fancy glass.  Garnish with a lemon peel.


Monday, January 16, 2017


Below are a few ideas.

Things you can make if you are going to DC, marching in your hometown, if you've knit a bunch of hats and sent them off, if you are just watching things unfold on the television or in the newspaper from home, or if you plan to ignore the whole thing.  No matter what you are doing, by the end of next weekend - or even in the middle of the day on Friday - I'm betting a drink will sound pretty perfect.

After a few discussions about our need for something appropriate, my husband and I did a little cocktail research (Also known as -- we walked into town and bought all kinds of pink and red ingredients).  In the spirit of diversity and universal acceptance of women with different cocktail needs, we tried to cover a variety of effort levels, from a straight pour to something you get to mix up.  We also tried to cover a range of booze options, so no matter what your poison, maybe there's something here that's going to go really well with both your mood and your new hot pink hat.

In the spirit of not being gross, we steered away from anything with cherries or bloody mary mix, because well...  I'm calling these pussydrinks and that just felt like it would be in poor taste.

First, the super easy pours:

From left to right, Framboise Lambic, which is deep and dark and sweet and tastes more like a raspberry dessert than a beer.  In the center is a Radler Cranberry/Orange Malt, which is a light, crisp drink with what I'd call a more subtle flavor. (Craig says it's a pinkish Coor's Light and I kind of have to agree.) On the right is Long Trail Ale's Cranberry Gose, which is a sour beer, super tangy and tart.

Next, If you're in the mood for just a little more effort, just can add gin,vodka, tequila, bourbon or rum to this.....

My daughter Maya says the drink should be called a Suffragette Soda.

It's Izzy's Pomegranate soda, with slice/squeeze of citrus (lime, lemon or orange), on ice. Trust me, you add 2oz of almost anything to this stuff and it's delicious. And it can get even better if you also add a dash of lemon or orange bitters.

Next, with a little more effort...

Craig and I experimented with our newly-bought ingredients and made up a few original cocktails (I promise we spared no effort here, and it took us all afternoon. There were winners and losers, but these were all strong (as in "we need to be", which he added and I was proud). They all come in beautiful shades of pink, and they taste pretty great.

It would not have taken so long if we didn't keep drinking them and if we didn't keep adding new things to the different options, as I had to take the photos while ice cubes were solid and glasses were full and froth was perfect. Texts from a knitting friend with some funny suggestions complicated the process (you know who you are) and this all meant more had to be made, and well, you can imagine how that went.

Later in the day, Maya and I did a little historical research (Diana can be proud!).  We wanted to name each of the drinks after current and historical women we find particularly inspiring. We tried to cover a range of activism, because feminism travels down many avenues, and we each express ourselves in different ways and we fight for the particular things that resonate with us.  So it was important to cover different historical periods, perspectives and issues. Maybe we took these drinks and their nomenclature a little too seriously, but I don't think that's possible right now.  And how often do you get to do this kind of thing with your teenage daughter, who's completely into it?

The Mary Woollstonecraft

Mix equal parts POM pomegranate juice and fresh squeezed pink grapefruit juice with a dash of angostura bitters in a container. This juice is delicious on its own, so make extra if you want.

Pour 2 oz of vodka in a glass with 2-3 ice cubes, add juice mixture, and stir.
Garnish with a sprig of Rosemary.

You can read more about Mary Woollstonecraft here.  She was a British writer and feminist philosopher in the 1700s.  And you know that being a feminist in the 1700s was not an easy ride.  She fought for both equality and a practical education for women, and challenged society's portrayal of females as helpless, sentimental, and inferior to men. She supported herself with her writing career and briefly ran a school for girls, where they were taught things far more useful than music and manners. She lived a somewhat scandalous life, which we'll spin as also proving herself a pioneer in following her heart as well, in a time when women worried more about society gossip than happiness. Maya gets full credit for Mary. I'd never even heard of her, but she'd read Mary's pamphlet Thoughts on the Education of Daughters in school.  (Yay school!)

The Elizabeth Warren

For this one, mix three parts cranberry juice with 1 part orange juice in a container.  Or as I did, find a small bottle of Cranberry-Tangerine juice in the fresh smoothie/juice section of your Stop and Shop.
Pour 2 oz of bourbon over 2-3 ice cubes in a glass, and add 2 oz of the juice mixture.
Add .5 oz luxardo cherry liquor (or .5 oz of juice from the luxardo jar), and a luxardo cherry.
Add a slice of lemon, giving it a squeeze  before placing in the glass.

I'm betting you already know why Elizabeth Warren is awesome. She's fearless and outspoken and fights her ass off for everybody every day. She's a politician who does not back down in the face of adversity or criticism, and she holds her values high and visible, We love her and we need her and we are grateful to have her, both here in Massachusetts and in the larger world.

The Coretta Scott King  

Place 3-4 fresh raspberries in the bottom of a shaker and muddle them to get the juice out.
Add 2oz of gin and 3-4 ice cubes to shaker,
Add 1 oz of cranberry juice and 1 oz of chambord
Add a dash of sweet vermouth and a dash of angostura bitters.
Shake well and strain into glass.  (you have to shake it a little because of the raspberries)
Serve super cold.

As for Coretta Scott King, most people know that she was the wife of Dr. Martin Luther King, but few know she was also an accomplished activist in her own right. She fought tirelessly for civil rights, but also for gay rights, against apartheid, against poverty worldwide, and she helped found NOW (the National Organization of Women) in 1966.  She traveled the world, speaking and fighting for those without a voice and she established the King Center in Atlanta, which houses the biggest archive of Civil Rights documents in the world, and is dedicated to furthering Dr. King's message of equality and peace. She fought to create Martin Luther King Day. She was a delegate at Geneva for disarmament, she was an accomplished auhor and musician and she raised 4 children. She wrote a letter in 1986 condemning Jeff Sessions for his racist legal practices, something that's being quoted in newspapers right now - and I could go on, but the best list of her accomplishments is here:  .  And wow.

The Sylvia Rivera

3 oz Simply strawberry or raspberry lemonade
3 oz Pom pomegranate juice
squeeze of lemon
2 oz tequila
.5 dry curaco (or cointreau)
Combine ingredients in shaker with ice and shake until cold and foamy.
Pour into tall glass over ice.

Silvia Rivera was a drag queen - a bisexual, trans Latina activist who fought for queer and transgender people who were mostly overlooked in the larger gay rights movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. A childhood on the streets of NYC gave her a unique perspective and understanding of the community and the desire to improve the world for others who found themselves in her situation. She was a founder of the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance.  She also worked at the intersection of women's rights, poverty, and race issues, cooperating with feminists, the Young Lords and The Black Panther Party in the early 1970s.


So that's it. Inspiring women who fought for what they believed in. You already have your hats. I'll be thinking of all of you as I march in Boston.

I hear there are over 300 marches planned around the world, and I am proud to know that our knitting community will be well represented and that our little hats will someday be a footnote in the history books. It's amazing and humbling and a little terrifying.

Peace, everybody.
Be safe, be heard, and continue to work towards the change you want to see.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Introducing London Fog, a super cozy, boldly textured hat design that, like Rob Roy, allows your needles a chance to help make the world better, maybe a little bit - while they are knitting away.

I just loved this delicate Falkland Island Wool from Blacker Yarns (who love and respect their traditional UK farms and fibers the same way I love my US ones). This 4-ply wool is a gorgeous mix of Shetland and Merino yarns, with a touch of sheen, a gorgeous soft hand, and an oh-so-subtle halo.

But you know I love my bigger needles, so I doubled the fingering weight yarn, creating a lovely, round and springy fabric that works up at a worsted weight instead. Paired with some bold lines, a few funky twisted cables, and a touch of lace, the overall effect is a hat with all the squishiness of a heavier yarn, but it retains the delicacy and loftiness of a fingering wool.  It's quick and satisfying knit and I do kind of love this one.  (Erin (pookiebb) will say I always say that..)

The lovely model in these photos is my good friend and old neighbor Jessica, who's been in my life since BabyCocktails really were cocktails that we drank on the back porch while our babies played around on the floor.  I barely even knit way back then! ;)

I still see Jess all the time, since we volunteer together every Wednesday at the Boston warehouse for Cradles to Crayons, a charity that provides clothing, books, toys, school supplies, and a variety of other necessities to at-risk kids across our state. They have other warehouses in Chicago and Philadephia to help kids in those cities as well.

Since I did bribe Jess to pose for me last Wednesday after our shift, and since we did take these pics right outside the warehouse, and because I really do love this charity and the work that they do, it seems fitting that my next "giving" project should be this one.

I hope to keep adding these projects in as the next few years go on, and to keep throwing a little love and cash at organizations that need it. I really was amazed at the response to Rob Roy and the power we have as a community to do this.

So, from now until February 28, 
I'll donate $1 of each London Fog pattern purchased to Cradles to Crayons. 

And for those of you who like to knit along with friends, Blacker Yarn is about to begin a big KAL for the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, since they are co-hosting the Podcast Lounge again this year, 

Anyone knitting anything in one of their yarns can totally join in for some camaraderie, knitting, and a few prizes. You do not have to be going to the festival to knit along or to win those prizes. 

The KAL begins on Jan 19 and more information is here.

The London Fog pattern is available on Ravelry or on the hat section of this blog for $6.50, and more info, plus the test knits, will be popping up on Ravelry soon. xo