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.