Monday, February 20, 2017

Introducing The Vodka Collection,
a collaboration between myself and the lovely people over at YOTH yarns...  

The Vodka Collection started with a conversation about what we add to a basic sweater when knitting. Each of us likes to knit what makes us happy, dictated by our skill level, our overall style, our preferred techniques, or even our mood on a particular day.  You guys already know that knitting to me is about enjoying the making - as much as the wearing - of the final sweater.  So, with this project, I wanted to take one sweater shape and explore some different ways to work with it, looking at how the knitting experience changes when different elements are added to classic sweater shapes. My goal here was to try and incorporate versions of a sweater to fit each of those knitting moods into a small collection.

So, I took one of my all time favorite sweater shapes - the classic V-Neck Cardigan, and designed 4 sweaters to try and cover that spectrum.  I tried to make them all more approachable for you guys, so choosing would be less about skill and more about what you felt like knitting and wearing. With that in mind, I used stitch patterns and techniques that weren't particularly difficult, and then played with construction and details to elevate the amount of attention each project would require. 

Vodka Straight Up is for when you want to knit something soothing and simple. You want to feel the needles moving, but be able to chat and think and let your mind wander. It's a wardrobe basic that can be worn as easily as it's knit, featuring lots of stockinette with a few garter details in the ribbing and along the fronts. It's knit seamlessly from the top down, and can be customized easily in a variety of ways for fit or design. The pattern contains two options if you'd like to add stripes -  either textured (shown above) or colorwork (shown below).  And if you have something else in mind, it's super easy to add your own details to the body instead.

Vodka On the Rocks is for when you want to pay just a little more attention. This is the kind of sweater I flatten out and look at as I work, because it makes me happy as the fabric evolves and the designs become more distinct.

Here, I've added overall texture to the body and sleeves and incorporated some bold accent cables on front and back of a seamless raglan. It's knit from the bottom up, with sleeves worked separately and joined at the yoke.  Both the cables and the ribbing are simple enough to become rhythmic over time, but they keep you just a little more engaged as you work, and the overall combination of texture and cable makes for a cardigan that's a bit more dramatic than just basic. You can still modify things pretty easily if you want, but there are a few more things to keep track of.

Vodka With A Twist is for when you want to think about what's on your needles and let your mind really get into the project. This is the kind of knitting that I can lose myself in, get obsessed with, and most often use the "just one more row" excuse during.  It's rainy day and snowstorm knitting, when you have a soft chair and a little time to devote to your work. 

It's also the statement cardigan of the collection, knit with panels of honeycomb cables in contrasting sizes for some deep, gorgeous texture. As I said earlier, honeycomb cables themselves aren't too challenging, but here they keep you busy, since you are repeating them throughout the row. Set in pockets, a generously shaped shawl collar, and seamed construction have also been incorporated into the sweater, and it's the details throughout make this one kind of special. When finished, it's a super satisfying, head-turner of a knit. 

So that's where I ended up. Simple to detailed, social knitting to involved thought, and basic to more unique wardrobe pieces. All four of them are wearable, classic cardigans. My hope is that one of them might just speak to you, and that you'll really enjoy the time you spend making it!

I also know that the yarn we put on our needles dictates so much of our knitting joy, and you know there's a reason I chose YOTH's Father yarn for this collection. Besides feeling good about where it comes from and who's behind it, and having stunning colors to choose from, this stuff is wonderful to work with. Made from domestic Rambouillet, it's a beautiful, versatile, solid worsted weight yarn in a weight that kind of flies off the needles.  The fiber is soft, and round, and wooly and it's pretty fantastic no matter what you do with it.

And, because we know how much you already love this yarn, and because we've learned your buying habits with my previous YOTH designs, Veronika already has a new supply at the mill, shipping in a few weeks. I'll keep you updated on actual delivery dates, but don't worry if you have your heart set on a specific color and it runs low once we launch these. More is on the way!

The Vodka Collection is available for $19.00 on Ravelry, or you can purchase the single patterns for $7.00 each.  All the information, test knits, and lots more photos are on the Ravelry pattern pages.  


The other exciting thing about this collection should be obvious as you look at the photos. We wanted to put something together that came from both YOTH and BabyCocktails, so the collection was beautifully shot and styled and put together under the careful eye of Veronika, who has some stellar taste!  Some huge thank yous to Kathy Cadigan for the gorgeous photography, to Veronika for the coordination,styling and photo shoot work, to the beautiful Jenny who modeled these, and Marc - Veronika's husband - who designed and worked on the actual pattern layout.  


all images @Kathy Cadigan

Thursday, February 16, 2017

I have a bunch of editing, proofreading, and writing to do today but it's still early.  I've checked my newsfeed for the day and my mind hasn't settled yet.  I'm in my office with my coffee and my eye just found the project I finished a few days ago, which has got me thinking about how different my knitting world is now vs. when I began doing this.

And that seems pretty perfect for Throwback Thursday -  a little procrastination and maybe just a tiny bit of self-involved rumination if you'll indulge me. Because the world is moving pretty fast right now and I think I need to stop and ignore it for a few moments longer.

This sweater began because I got obsessed with Malabrigo Twist, a yarn I'd never used before but had seen a hundred times. You know that moment on the laptop when you go down a yarn hole?

That's what I was doing on the Malabrigo website a few weeks back. I knew this stuff was gorgeous and round and soft, but had never knit with it because I often avoid the world of vareigation. Simple things aren't what you guys usually come to me for, and the more detailed a sweater gets, the less detailed the yarn should be - IMHO.

But that morning, I opened my laptop and started looking through the Malabrigo colorways on the screen, flipping from one to another just to see them, and I found Zinc.  And then I kept coming back to that Zinc. It's hard to capture in these winter office light photos, but it's gorgeous and soothing and plays with gray and a subtle lavender tone and has a touch of gold here and there.

It felt so good to just fall in love with a yarn right in the moment. Looking back, I realize that's what I used to do all the time, just for fun. I  used to look at yarn and get carried away and take it home. I bought it for no other reason than because it made me happy.

I ordered 8 skeins from WEBS, and the moment I opened the package, I started playing around with it. No deadlines, no expectations, no cable dictionaries - nothing. Just playing with it.  Just for fun, because the yarn is beautiful and it felt great on my needles and it took my mind to a place it wanted to be. A mindless, double seed stitch place.  Without even a sketch to work from.  That itch I have to design was silent for a little while, replaced by a different itch - to just knit and block out all the chatter.

When I began designing about 10 years ago, there were no expectations tied to any of my knitting. I'd buy yarn, I'd play with it and I'd see what happened. Sometimes it would become a pattern, but not always. And even when it did, I didn't have test knits, or relationships with the yarn companies, or a group on Ravelry to check in with, or an Instagram account to update. I just did my thing as it came to me, and then went to pick the kids up at school.  Running an actual knitting business isn't the same thing.

My yarn purchases now come with expectations, and casting on creates a whole new set of goals, both internal and external. My needles aren't just working for my own entertainment anymore. They support my family, they help my friends who run small businesses, they entertain a slowly growing group of knitters, and they keep you all engaged in this thing called a "brand".

Sometimes the pressure is passive, and a deadline or agreement doesn't officially exist, but to me, every skein here in my office is some kind of promise to be kept.  And that gets in my head and I think about each project very differently, much more carefully - than I had in the beginning.  I must choose wisely each time I knit, evaluating what the project will be and how it fits into my plan for that season. I can only make so many things a year, so they have to work, right?

Creativity now exists within a framework of goals, schedules and the question of whether it's going result in something that will sell or photograph well, look good on a variety of shapes, and get out in the world at the right time.  And newly prevalent this Fall is the fact that my girl got into college and this is our payment plan and there's an overall number I'm inching up to with each new design published.

Some of you may have noticed that I haven't released a single sweater since Stone Fence in October. Part of that is the fact that I have a collection going on in the background that will go live next week, but I'm not sure that's the real reason I've had this lull. I've done bigger projects before and made sure there were other sweaters lined up to launch in the meantime -- this time I just didn't feel like it.  I had no new ideas, no itch to get THAT cable into THAT yarn, and the things I had going on were not working out. I was a little defeated, somewhat exhausted, and mostly annoyed.

I bought some Zinc instead, without thinking about a design. And I cast on.

It was soft and gorgeous and did what I wanted it to do. It slowed me down and made me enjoy the process again. I know that I can't really go back to the way things used to be for too long, because the rest of those promises and responsibilities are incredibly important to me, but maybe this step backwards has me ready to take two steps forward again - I did buy two SQs last week, and I'm incredibly in love with both of those new yarns. My fingers are itchy again.

Next on my to-do list is to write this up, and it looks like some easy, soothing math.

I'm pretty sure that when I'm done with the Excel chart, the world will seem to be spinning just a little slower and I'll jump back in.  And maybe I should write Malabrigo a little thank you note.

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

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Yesterday I was lucky enough to visit the Boston Public Market with my good friend Ellen.

If you're local, you may not know that Genevieve Day of JP Knit and Stitch has opened a New England Fiber booth right in the marketplace, with a gorgeous wall full of local fiber and a bunch of other wooly treats.  Among the wooly goodness on that wall is Ellen's own Doc Mason's Wool, so this was the perfect excuse to go on a city date with our husbands and grab a beer or two in the city.

After those beers, we found Genevieve in the Market.  Her space is small, but full of wonderful things.  Skeins line the wall in various shades of cream and gray and natural brown, labeled by the local farm they hail from. There are a few magazines, some of Katrinkles lovely notions, and some great project bags.

I may have bought myself a tote and a project bag and perhaps a skein or two (one from Wing and a Prayer Farm is right there on top of the bag, in fact) - but then Geneveive gave me an extra tote bag to take home, which I thought I'd share with all of you.

For a chance to win this adorable canvas tote, either cast on and post a new BabyCocktails Ravelry project, or buy any BabyCocktails pattern on Ravelry before tomorrow AM is over (noon).

We will pick one random winner from any new Ravelry names on the purchase and project pages between today and tomorrow noon...  See, quick and fun. :)

Thursday, December 01, 2016

This morning has been a details morning.  I have paperwork that needed to be filed, emails that needed to be organized, a few edits to check, a printer that won't connect to the computer, and a bunch of lists needed to be made - so of course, I got a little distracted and started taking photos of things in the room, and when I looked at the pics, I thought they'd make a good excuse for a blog post.

Nothing especially knitworthy, nothing especially new, just kind of taking stock of what's here and playing with the settings that I never really understand on this camera, as one does. Plus, some of these made me smile, so hey.  Enjoy!

The pile of books above my computer - cocktails, spelling, grammar, and fun facts.

A wall of future possibilities. Swatches old and new that keep surviving the periodic purges. That big lace one was almost Bailey's Irish Cream.

On top of my bookshelf is a combination of things - antique bottles, tiki themed things (including one that walked home with me years ago from an awesome bar in SF called the Caribbean Zone), one last Halloween sippy cup from Rhinebeck, a stray pom pom, pens, and yarn about to be knit. In the bookshelf is my circular needle storage container, a variety of stitch dictionaries and the Small Business Bible, which I really should pay more attention to. Pinned to that board above the shelf are an assortment of cards and info on wonderful yarn people.

My bags.  These have become my everywhere totes. I like the confused look non-knitters get when they read them and don't understand.

More future things. That glowing gray is a gorgeous Sawkill Farm wool, and I have no idea what it wants to be but it really wants to be on my needles soon.

This pic makes me smile - hidden between all the swatches on my board are magazine pages, cocktail name ideas, and recipes. But the swatch on the left and the penguin pin came from the Edinburgh Yarn Festival last year, which was a really amazing event. Both Anna Maltz of the penguin pin and Victoria of that blue Eden Cottage Yarn swatch are lovely people who I got to hug in person while I was there, so this is an unintentional piece of the UK on my wall.

Below is my favorite trash-picked chair and my old barrister's book case in which All The yarn lives. I have  no idea why that 7M is scrawled on there.  This corner always get the sun in the mornings and it's where my eyes go when I'm at the computer and need to trail off in thought (or lack thereof). The chair is usually overrun with knits, old and new, depending on what I've been knitting, what I've been wearing, and what needs to go back upstairs - it's actually unusual that an arm would be free like you see here.

Below is the best part of today's to do list. I added an extra $50, for a total donation of $350.  And although I could have donated online, I really wanted to write an old school check,  (notice how I've artfully hidden all the info on it for a photo though...)

These boxes below represent the rest of the to do list, some of which is thankfully a few weeks away. (phew)

Next, I have a sweater that I need to make a decision on -- either frog back 5" of the body to fix an error or decide to live with it.  I have been slowly coming to the realization as I typed this entry that frogging is in my future.

So - see you, people.  I hope you enjoyed a pointless, non-release blog post for a change.  It's been a long time.  xo