Dreaming of a Chilly Saturday

October 15, 2014

I have been a little lax in the commitment I made last month to post more often. The thing is, and I know a lot of you will completely understand, I am an obsessive knitter. Once I have a project in hand, all I want to do is work on it. Stopping to write a blog post, or do laundry, or whathaveyou, is just not anywhere on my radar.

SofieGrandpaCardi1

A few weeks ago I went stash diving and decided to make myself a gigantic cozy sweater to wear to Rhinebeck. I have lots of discontinued yarn in my stash that I can't design with but that I love too much to give away, sell, or donate. One of these yarns found its way onto my needles - 7 precious skeins of Queensland Kathmandu Chunky, a scrumptious blend of merino, silk, and cashmere. I wanted to make one of those sweaters that you see all the time in romantic comedies. You know the one, it's huge and slouchy and the lead actress wears it as she drinks too much wine and laments what could have been in an impossibly beautiful downtown loft.

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Now I am no rom-com heroine, but I do love a cozy sweater. I wear them as outerwear, layering on scarves, hats and mittens until the winter winds finally force me to get out a real coat. From the moment I purchased the Kathmandu Chunky, this sweater is what it was always meant to be. So I knit like a woman possessed. And before I knew it -- it was chunky yarn after all -- I'd made myself that sweater that I'd dreamt of.  It is a wonderful thing when that image you had in your head slips off your needles so effortlessly. Trust me, this is not often the case in my knitting life.

Sofie is modeling it here, and in my size it is truly enormous on her. A quality she finds delightful. I will need to hide this one well, or it will end up on her back for most of the winter.

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Now if only it would be cool enough on Saturday to wear such a sweater. 

Happy Friday

October 03, 2014

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have already seen this, but I thought I'd share it here too. If you have phone charger thieves in your family, as I have in mine, I recommend you dress your charger up with a bit of crochet. Those sneaky pilferers will have a hard time making a case that it's their charger. This also works great for head phones, especially those with cords that tangle easily.

To make mine, I selected some leftover fingering weight yarn (variegated yarn works great) from my stash and found a crochet hook that worked with my yarn. I tied the yarn to one end of the charger and then worked single crochet around the cable until it was covered.

If you decide to cover yours, let me know. I'd love to see it.

ETA: It has been brought to my attention that this could be dangerous if your cord is old, frayed, or has hot spots. As with any charger, be sure to check you chargers frequently and dispose of any with exposed wires, or hot spots, and unplug your charger when not in use. If you choose to crochet over your cable as shown here, you do so at your own risk.

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 ETA: Since a few of you have asked, the yarn is Cephalopod Skinny Bugga in Elephant Hawk Moth. Saddly, they are no longer in business.

My Favorite Things: Blocking

September 29, 2014

I am always amazed when knitters don't get around to blocking. The second that I bind off the last stitch I am itching to get my latest WIP onto the blocking board. Then I'm as antsy as a kindergartner waiting for recess until I can unpin and see the finished piece in it's full glory. For me that is pure magic. 

Blocking 2

Blocking 1

(Pictured above, a new design knit with Jill Draper Makes Stuff Mohonk in Moss and Straw Into Gold.)

Trillium Yarns Grand Re-Opening

September 22, 2014

Visiting Trillium Yarns is like going home for me. It is owned by Beverly, one of my dearest friends, and is close to the town where I lived and raised my kids for 21 years. Even without the personal connection there are the piles and piles of spectacular yarn, books, magazines, and knitting supplies. It's easy to understand why Trillium Yarns is one of my favorite places to hang out. Earlier this month Beverly moved the store into a charming downtown location in an old building in Morristown, New Jersey. I love this new location for several reasons: the new space has rustic brick walls and a beautiful front window, I can easily walk there from the Morristown train station (yay no driving and worrying about the traffic at the Holland Tunnel), the new location is a few doors down from a fabulous cafe where we can grab a tasty lunch, and there is a beautiful garden out back where knitters can gather in nice weather. 

I went to the grand re-opening party on Saturday and snapped a few pics of the new spot. If you are every in the area be sure to stop in and support this wonderful LYS.

Trillium Yarns Collage

FO Friday: Prolix Mitts

September 19, 2014

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What could be better than a quick knit that you cast on one morning, work on sporadically throughout the day, and weave the last end in on the following morning? I'll tell you what's better, one that accomplishes all of that PLUS plays nicely with those lonely skeins of variegated yarn that you have around the house. Thank you Laura Nelkin for your versatile and lovely Prolix Mitts pattern. They were an absolute joy to knit. (Laura actually knows that I feel this way about these mitts because she was seated on the couch with me for a while as I worked on them and effused about my admiration.)

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Pattern: Prolix Mitts from Knockout Knits

Designer: Laura Nelkin

Needles: US 6 & 8 circulars, magic looped

Yarn: Quince & Co Lark in Frost that I over-dyed at Fiber College

Size Made: Medium

Started: September 18

Completed: September 19

 

Fourth Thursday Friends: Laura Nelkin

September 18, 2014

Knockout Knits2

As I sit here typing I await the arrival of my good friend, Laura Nelkin. She is coming to NYC this weekend to celebrate the publication of her new book, Knockout Knits. She'll be teaching classes and signing books all weekend. The fun begins tonight at Lion Brand Yarn Studio where she will be signing books beginning at 6:00 pm. Then tomorrow and Sunday she's teaching several classes at LBYS. I happen to have it on very good authority that Laura is an EXCELLENT teacher. So if you're anywhere near NYC, sign up for one of the several classes she's teaching.

But that's not all that Laura has planned for the weekend. On Saturday she's heading out to Morristown, New Jersey to teach a beaded jewelry class from 1-4pm at Trillium Yarns' new location at 4 Cattano Ave. Next, starting at 4pm on Saturday there will be a Grand Reopening Party at Trillium, where you will find Laura signing books, and me drooling over Trillium's fabulous yarns.

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Since this is going to be the weekend of Ms Nelkin, I thought I'd cast on one of the patterns in her new book. Fingerless mitts are very popular in my family, we can never have too many pairs, so I decided to cast on Prolix Mitts. This pattern is shown in an elegant shade of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in the book, and I really adore them in that color, but I have a basket of yarn sitting around that I dyed at Fiber College last week, and it's filled with variegated yarns. Since the elongated stitches that Laura features in these mitts really show off variegated yarns beautifully, I decided to dive into my basket and cast on. These mitts will be extra special since the design is Laura's and the yarn was dyed with the help of Ellen Mason in her fabulous dye tent at Fiber College. These are truly friendship mitts.

I should tell you more about the book -- which is excellent and as you'd expect is filled with new techniques taught in Laura's easy-going and very effective style -- but I've gone on and on already, and I have to tidy up the house so that Laura doesn't know what a slob I really am. However you should  go pour over the designs from the book on Ravelry. Then queue and favorite them to your heart's content, and buy the book!

If you come to one of Laura's book events this weekend, please do say hello! I'll be the one merrily knitting away on a pair of bold green mitts.

My Favorite Foods: Brussels Sprouts

September 16, 2014

I am no food blogger, nor am I any sort of cooking expert. Mostly I cook by throwing a bit of this and a bit of that into a pot, or bowl, or what-have-you. But if you'll indulge me, I'd like to occasionally share  some of my favorite things to cook and eat. Today I have a recipe (of sorts) from yesterday's lunch, roasted Brussels sprouts.

Brussels Sprouts

Here's how I do it. 

Pre-heat your oven to 425.

Clean and chop the Brussels sprouts.

Toss the chopped Brussels sprouts with olive oil, a touch of rice vinegar, smoked Spanish paprika, cayenne pepper, and a good quality salt (I used Red Alder Smoked Finishing Salt from the Meadow.) I can't tell you exactly how much of each of these I use, as I said, I don't measure. I just add the ingredients to taste.

Spread the mixture into a single layer in a pan.

Cook 15-20 min until brown. Toss once midway through. I like to let mine get a little burnt because I like the caramelized taste they acquire.

Fiber College Photo Round-Up

September 15, 2014

I don't have time for a long post today. I need to get myself together and go to Pilates. But I do want to share some photos of my trip to Fiber College. Each year this trip recharges and inspries me. All of the fiber, and crafting are one thing, but for me the best part of Fiber College is the time spent with smart, wildly-talented, funny, like-minded friends, like Gale, Mary Lou, Beverly, Ellen, Jani, Cal, and Amy Lou.

Fiber College Collage 1

Felt at Clementine (go there if you are ever anywhere near Rockland Maine!), Dye selection in Ellen & Jani's dye tent, My baskent of yarn, Purchases at Clementine

Fiber College Collage People

Plying Class with Dyemama Jackie Ottino Graf, Mary Lou's first lobster in decades, Beverly's joy at her newly dip dyed sweater, Ellen matches her knitwear to her fries

FC Collage Views

Gale and Jani enjoying the view, Storm clouds rolling in

New Release: Duane Park Triangle

September 12, 2014

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Duane Park Triangle, an asymmetrical, triangular shawl knits up quickly in two colors of fingering weight yarn. Its casual elegance will make Duane Park Triangle your go-to shawl this fall. 

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The original design calls for Wanton Fibers Haughty Sock -- a delicious blend of merino and silk. I used a soft blue and grey combination for a subtle look. I liked that version so well I couldn't resist knitting a second using a more dramatic pairing -- Anzula's Squishy in Temperance and Karabella Breeze in Natural. Sadly the Karabella Breeze is discontinued, but you could easily substitute any natural fingering weight yarn.

Duane Park 2

The shawl starts with just a few stitch at one point, and increases to a delicate border of lace. The final edging is knit side to side onto live stitches.

Duane Park 1

As you can see, Sofie loves this one. She tells me she plans to wear the yellow/natural version all winter. I'm not sure I want to let her take it though. Pehaps I'll knit a third.

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Duane Park Triangle

Size: Medium (Large) -- The blue/grey version is large, the yellow/natural is medium

Finished Measurements: 31.5 (36)” deep x 71.5 (76)” wide

 Yarn: Wanton Fibers Haughty Sock, 50% Merino, 50% Silk, 438 yds per 100 g skein, MC: 52 Wisp-- 1 [1] skein, CC: 50 Atmospheric -- 1[1] skein -- note that I used most of the MC for the largest size, so you'll want a fingering weight yarn with at least 438 yards if you make the large size. 
 
Gauge: 16 sts x 26 rows in garter stitch, blockedAlways take the time to check gauge.

Needles: US 7 (4.5mm) circular needles or size to obtain gauge

Other Materials: stitch markers, tapestry needle 

Price: $6.00 US

Second Thursday Swatches

September 11, 2014

Thank you all for your excellent blog suggestions. My Bloglovin list is growing thanks to you. I especially loved it when some of you sent links to your own blogs. It's really fun to see what you are all working on. Please keep the links coming!

As part of my commitment to blogging I've come up with a schedule of the types of posts I'd like to do. Each Thursday of the month will have it's own theme, with Second Thursdays being all about swatches. Since today is the second Thursday, I'd like to introduce you to Second Thursday Swatches. 

For today's swatch I have a fun clustered stitch that gives an almost crocheted effect. I promise you though, this is entirely knit. I don't know the name of this stitch pattern, if anyone out there does let me know and I'll add it. ETA: Dana commented and told us that this pattern is a variation of the Anemone stitch. Thanks Dana!

Swatch Collage
This stitch pattern is great for cowls, shawls, and scarves because it looks great on both sides. It's also an excellent choice for variegated yarns. I've shown it knit in a single color and then as a two color pattern. As you can see in the photo above, both side look great either way. So for this one I am not going to say which is the RS and which is the WS.

If you swatch this pattern, I'd love to see your swatches. So please send a photo. If I get enough photos of your Second Thursday Swatches I'll start a album so that we can see them all in one place.

Here's how I did it. If you work it as a two color pattern work rows 1 & 2 in one color, and rows 3 & 4 in the second color.

Instructions

This stitch pattern is best for an intermediate to advanced knitter. Row 2 below is the trickiest bit. The idea is to create 5 elongated sts by dropping the double yarn overs from the previous row and then clustering them by knitting the 5 elongated sts together, then without dropping the 5 elongated sts work 9 new sts into them, so that the 5 elongated sts become 9 sts.

CO a multiple of 5.

Knit 2 rows

Row 1: (Yo twice, k1) to end. — note that the first yo twice will be at the beginning of the needle, before the first knit st.

Row 2: *(Slip 1, drop both yarn overs) 5 times, knit these 5 elongated sts together but do not drop them off the needle, (yo, k1) 4 times into the k5tog, drop the 5 elongated sts from the needle. Repeat from * to end. — each cluster creates 9 sts from the 5 elongated sts that are knit together.

Row 3: (K1, k2tog 4 times) to end. — stitch count after this row should equal the number of sts cast on.

Row 4: Knit.

 

The Specs on My Swatch

Yarn: Anzula Oasis, 70% Silk and 30% Camel; Colors: Temperance (gold) and Denim (blue)

Needles: US 5 / 3.75 mm -- use the needle size that creates a fabric you like with your yarn and knitting tension. If I were to knit a cowl or scarf in this pattern with this yarn, I would probably go up a needle size.

Gauge: I'm not going to tell you my gauge. See my note on needles above.

Cast On: 25 sts

Finished Measurements: 4" wide x 3.25" high