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

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

You know when you have a cheap, crappy sweater that you love but maybe you're a little sheepish about the fact that you love it?  Because we're knitters.  We should know better, right?

Well, that's what happened here.

I had a Forever 21 tunic that I'd bought at a thrift shop, and it was intended to be my house sweater.  Loose, plain, sleeveless and dark gray - there was nothing special about it, but I figured it would do the job and when I had to leave the house, it was way better than my dancing frogs tee shirt or Craig's big gray sweatshirt that I have a habit of stealing.

The thing is, I was not prepared to love the thing.  It was the perfect shape, hid everything that needed to be hid, and just begged for some plaid tails to peek out (I wear lots of plaid tail shirts).  It was loose and effortless and it actually did look pretty good with almost everything, so I started wearing it out.

And once that happened, I had to knit a better one.

Fast forward to last year's NH Sheep and Wool festival, during which it rained cats and dogs. I had on my yellow raincoat and the Forever 21 under it because it was the right weight, and sleeveless and warm but not too much.  And  then there was a conversation in the Green Mountain Spinnery booth and a handful of Alpaca Elegance  went home with me.

Cranberry Gose! 

I used the dimensions of the original, adding detail and real wool and some thought in the shaping.  I wanted to play with a little gansey patterning, which shows up beautifully in the subtle heather of the yarn here, but I really did keep a lot of the stockinette.  That makes for easy knitting and easy mods for both width and length.

The gansey detail is added in staggered columns for a subtle dip at center, and then shoulders are shaped with short rows, which makes a beautiful V in the diamonds along the seams.  You only have a few rows of pattern, but it's fun to play with them a little, right?

I added a split hem, a lot of stockinette, and a funnel neck (pattern has notes for turtle, funnel, cowl or crew options!)  As the test knitters add their photos, you'll be able to see a few of these...

All the details, plus the test knit photos will be up on the Ravelry page.  

The pattern is $7.00 for the PDF, but until Rhinebeck, the Ravelry code Cranberry will get you $1 off! 

Cranberry Gose isn't a cocktail, but a kind of beer.  Gose is a style of sour beer, popular right now and it comes in all kinds of flavors - including Cranberry. It's one of those things you are not sure you like, but then you take a few more sips and you're hooked!