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

A Renewed Commitment to Blogging

September 09, 2014

I've joined with a group of friends and made a commitment to make my blog more of a priority. Way back when in the early years of Through the Loops, I remember the fun and excitement of planning a new post. The best ideas would come as I drove -- which I did a lot of in those days -- and I'd rush home to get those ideas down on the page. I don't drive much anymore, but New Yorkers do walk a lot and that is ample time for planning blog posts. 

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Here's the part where I ask for your help:

Along with posting more, I'd like to get back to reading others' blogs. When Google Reader closed up shop, I never got around to transferring my blog list to another reader. Finally this weekend I joined Bloglovin and have been adding blogs as I remember them. I know there are some excellent blogs that I'm forgetting or that are new and I've never known about. This is where I could use your help, please leave a comment and recommend blogs -- both your own if you have one, and those that you love to read. They don't have to be knitting blogs, I'd love to hear about anything that strikes your fancy. 

Here's a list of (only) a few of the many blogs I like to read. Check them out. I'm sure you'll want to follow them too.

The Joy of Knitting with Handpsun

July 22, 2014

I love, love, love to spin! Even though Spinzilla is months way, I am eagerly scheming about what fibers I’ll spin, and stalking the forums for new fibers and dyers that I’ve never tried.

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Spindle from Spindlewood, fiber 100 % Merino "Rare Gem"  from Blue Moon Fiber Arts

Spinzilla is a global event where teams and individuals challenge each other to see who can spin the most yarn in a week. This year's event is happening October 6 – 12. Nobody cares what kind of yarn you spin, the goal is to just spin your heart out and see how much yarn you can make. That being said, once we have all that yarn, it is nice to actually do something with it. Make your plans now and by November you will be casting on with your beautiful handspun yarn!

Spinzilla is a great excuse to make time in my busy schedule to do something that is just for me. Since I am a working knitter, spinning is my relaxing time. I love to watch the fiber slip through my fingers and turn into yarn. Hand-dyed rovings seem even more beautiful as they wind onto my bobbin than they were in the braid.

Like a lot of spinners I love to buy my fiber in braids so most of my spinning is in 4oz increments. Choosing patterns for my handspun is governed by what can be made with the yarn I spin from these braids. I pick patterns where the pattern is enhanced by the small inconsistencies that make spun yarn so interesting.

When working with yarn with a lot of variability, such as handspun, I recommend making a large swatch and measuring over a larger area than the usual, 4x4".  For example, rather than taking a gauge measurement over 4", take it over 8". Let's say you find that you have 32 sts in 8", that means your gauge over 4" is half of 32, or 16 sts = 4". Measuring over a larger area, means that you will have a larger sampling of the variability of the yarn. As with any yarn, always block your swatch before measuring, in the way that you plan to block your final piece. Gauge can change significantly with blocking.

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I have a few patterns that I have specifically designed for handspun yarn. The first version of Saranac (pictured above) was designed with my handspun. Made with Unwind Yarn Company Handdyed Merino, the construction of this shawl shows up nicely when worked with a yarn/fiber's subtle color changes.

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I created the Winter Wonderland Shawl (above) for the Winter 2013 issue of Ply Magazine. For this shawl I used a light fingering weight handspun yarn that was spun by Amanda Hartrich of Willow Glen Farm (formerly Inspiration Fibers) from a blend of Shetland, alpaca, bamboo, and firestar. I cherished having the opportunity to design with someone else’s beautiful spinning. This pattern takes 750 yards of yarn, so it may take a bit more than 4 oz, but you could easily work the body in one yarn, and the border in another.

I find that another great way to use handspun is in multi-color shawls. You can either use all handspun, as Earthchick did for her gorgeous versions of my Andrea's Shawl, knit with yarn spun from Silky Cashmerino from Fluff in "Asteroid" & "Pebbles": 

4574069587_81e2ce93ba_zPhoto copyright Stacey Simpson Duke used with permission

and Cladonia, knit with yarn spun from Romney in "Timber" from Hello Yarn.

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Photo copyright Stacey Simpson Duke used with permission

Or combine your handspun with commercial yarn as I did the second time I knit my Germinate Shawl:

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I used the commercial yarn in the lace sections to allow the delicate stitch patterns to show most clearly, and the yarn that I spun from the fiber shown in the first photo at the top of this post, in the stockinette sections.

I have a dream of spinning for a sweater someday. If I ever do, I will definitely make yarn for my Beach Street Park design. The simple details on this sweater make it a great choice for handspun.

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Maybe I'll make that dream come true and spin the yarn during Spinzilla. Spinner Registration opens August 14. You can sign up either for a team or as an individual Rogue spinner. 100% of the team registration fee is donated to the Needle Arts Mentoring Program (NAMP).

Pippi

July 01, 2014

Pippi 1

Inspired by Astrid Lindgren's spunky Pippi Longstocking, my new crescent shaped shawl was originally designed for Wooly Wonka Fibers Heroine's Club. As of today it is no longer exclusive, and may be purchased here or on Ravelry

Pippi 3
Two-color Pippi starts with a pretty lace edging, followed by a stitch pattern of leaves and Pippi's famous braids which combine to give the shawl a wavy lower edge. The body is worked in short rows to create the crescent shape.

Pippi Horiz

Pippi uses two colors of fingering weight yarn. I designed the shawl with Wooly Wonka Fibers Ceridwen Sock, in colors that Anne dyed specifically for the project -- Tomato Soup and Orange Fizz.

Pippi

Size: One Size

Finished Measurements: 14” deep x 61” long

Yarn: Wooly Wonka Fibers Ceridwen Sock; 100% Superwash Merino, 400 yards per 100 g skein;

MC: Tomato Soup 1 skein, approx 400 yds
CC: Orange Fizz, 1 skein, approx 200 yds

Needles: US 6 (4mm) needles or size to obtain gauge

Gauge: 19 sts & 29 rows = 4”/10cm in stockinette stitch - blocked, always take the time to check gauge

Other Materials: stitch markers, tapestry needle, cable needle

Price: $6.50 US

 
In other news, the last clue of the clue of the TTL Mystery Shawl 2014 went out on Saturday. Head over the group for a peek at the beautiful finished shawls that participants are posting.  Other happenings in the group include a Name That Shawl Contest for the Mystery Shawl, and since some of us wanted to continue knitting shawls all summer long, we've started a very low-key Summer Shawl KAL. Simply select any of my shawl patterns, let us know which one, and KAL. 
 
Summer Shawl KAL14
 

Contest Winner

June 14, 2014

Congratulations to Candice who's name was selected using a random number generator to win Knitcircus yarn in Cranberry Relish!

Thank you to everyone for playing along and for all of the anniversary wishes. I really enjoyed all of your comments, haiku, & tips.

Puschkinia

June 02, 2014

Occasionally I have the overwhelming need to knit a pair of socks. It just happens, I'll happily knit a bucket-load of shawls and sweaters and then boom, I MUST KNIT SOCKS. On top of this need to knit socks, I have a weakness for the wealth of gorgeous gradient yarns cropping up from indie dyers, tempting me at every turn. So when Susan B Anderson posted about Jaala Spiro's Knitcircus Matching Sock Gradient yarns, I was helpless.

Il_570xN.588076112_b78xphoto copyright Knitcircus used with permission

Jaala winds her Knitcircus Matching Sock Gradients into tidy little identical yarn cakes that are absolutely perfect for socks. Wait just a minute, a gradient yarn for socks? Wound so that they match? I had no choice but to load up my shopping cart and click that delightful "check out" button.

Reynard 1

You might remember Reynard from several months back. They were the first pair I made with Knitcirucs yarn. But one pair wasn't enough. No siree. Moments after Kitchenering Reynard I cast on for a new pair. This time I wanted to experiment with other ways to use gradients. A little stranded colorwork perhaps? Maybe some stripes? Before I knew it I had knit another pair of socks in Knitcircus yarn, and had another new design.

Puschkinia 1
Puschkinia starts at the top with a pretty, little colorwork flower motif. After that it's pretty much smooth sailing with a two-color, stockinette stripe broken up by the occasional row of stranding just to keep you on your toes. To make these socks you begin with the dark end of one ball, and the light end of the other. The colors contrast at the cuff for crisp colorwork, and then begin to fade and merge as you get to the toes. In the Pigeon colorway that I used for the sample they remind me of a favorite pair of well worn jeans.

Puschkinia

When I showed the new design to Jaala, she was very excited, and suggested we work together to give knitters a way to purchase the pattern and yarn as kits. We decided that the best way to do this was to offer free shipping on Knitcircus yarns with the purchase of the Puschkinia pattern. When you buy the pattern you will be given a coupon code to use at checkout in the Knitcircus store.

I have one more set of Knitcircus Matching Socks Gradients, the colorway is Cranberry Relish. I'm going to send this yarn to one lucky reader. To enter, leave a comment on this post by midnight on June 10th (which also happens to be my 25th wedding anniversary), and I'll select a winner using a random number generator. Extra points (okay, an extra entry) if you say something funny, leave a knitting tip, write a haiku, or help spread the word by linking to this post.

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Head over to the Puschkinia Ravelry page for all the details about the pattern. Or you can just impulse by the pattern by clicking the button below. When you do you'll get the coupon code for free shiping on Knitcirucs Yarn.

 Price: $6.00

Thanks for reading. I leave you with a photo of Sofie at our photoshoot, throwing a few yoga poses into the action.

Puschkinia Yoga

From Mama, With Love

May 19, 2014

Later this week my oldest child, my sweet lad, will graduate from college and I find myself feeling nostalgic for the early days when he was just a wee one. I think of those early mornings when he and I, both early risers, would get up and snuggle as we eased our way into the day. I remember the milestones: first smile, first giggle, first words, first steps. Later, there were the tears (mine, not his) when I dropped him off on that first day of kindergarten. I think of moments, the day that we brought his twin sisters home from the hospital, my gentle boy sitting and holding them completely unaware of how his center-of-the-universe life had been completely turned upside down (he is still the kindest brother anyone could hope for), or his excitement at seeing the Temple of Dendur when we took him to the Metropolitan Museum of Art during his Ancient Egypt phase. As he got older life got so busy. The years flew by with soccer games, sleepovers, summer days spent cannonballing into the pool, winter afternoons sledding on our hill, trumpet then guitar lessons, concerts, gigs, proms. Before we knew it he was off to college. Just as with all the years before, the past four years have gone by in a heartbeat. Now, here we are at the beginning of another new chapter in his life and my heart is filled with all of the years that have passed, and with pride in the young man he has become.

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With all of this remembering of those lovely, quiet days when my kids were little, it seemed appropriate when Tanis Gray selected this week for the one when I would participate in the blog tour for From Mama, With Love, an ebook collection that she has created along with an exceptionally talented group of young moms -- Kate Gagnon Osborn, Connie Chang Chinchio, Melissa LaBarre, and Margaux Hufnagel.

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                                                                       Bluebell Pullover Photo copyright Kate Gagnon Osborn

This sweet collection is filled with the sort of wearable patterns that I would have made for my own children when they were young. There are hats, vests, sweaters, blankets, even a “boppy” cover -- a total of 15 designs in all, three from each of the 5 designers.

Mh6_medium2                                                                         Seed Stitch Boppy Photo Copyright Margaux Hufnagel

The designs are classic and will stand the test of time. This is a collection you will turn to again, and again, whether for your own children or gifts for others. I can see the Bluebell Pullover  being handed down from brother to sister to brother, or the Sid Scrappy Hat made for each child in the family. Personally, I’d like a Isadora Lopapeysa in my own size.

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Isadora Lopapeysa photo copyright Kate Gagnon Osborn

The patterns will be part of the ebook until October 1st of this year. After that they will only be available individually.