Tops, Tanks & Tees Knit Along 2016 and Lemon Cakes

TTTKAL 2016 – It’s on!

Very Shannon‘s annual Tops, Tanks & Tees Knit Along is underway!  It’s running until May 27, 2016 (with a possible extension).  Head over to the TTTKAL sign up page to find details, inspiration and to register.  Because prizes, dontcha you know!

If you’re on Ravelry be sure to join the fun in the Very Shannon Ravelry discussion group.  Whether you’re a newbie to KALs or a seasoned veteran, there’s tons of support and chat on the KAL thread.  On social media and Ravelry, be sure to tag your projects with #tttkal and #tttkal16 so we can all follow along with your progress and, of course, to be eligible for prizes.

My TTTKAL Project

Bridie in progress

This year, I’m making one of the sponsor projects, Bristol Ivy‘s Bridie cocoon for Quince & Co. (pictured at the top of this post).  Instead of the suggested Kestrel yarn from Quince, my Bridie is made using some of my stash yarn, Classic Elite Yarn’s (sadly discontinued) Portland Tweed in a delicious pinky-lilac shade called Rosewater.  I tend to get chilly no matter the season, so this 50% Wool, 25% Rayon, 25% Alpaca blend will be just the ticket, and after blocking is wonderfully lush and drapey and shows the textured stitches beautifully.  I think it’ll be a nice and cozy substitute for Kestrel.

This pattern knits up so fast (she’s almost finished drying and I’m about to seam the sides and knit up the garter stitch edging) that I might also be able to finish up a WIP in time for the deadline – my Liv cardigan that I’ve had on the back burner for a while. Actually finishing something (and possibly two!) by a KAL deadline will be a personal best for me. So yay for me!

I hope you’ll come and join the knit-along fun!

In other news, when life serves you lemons…

No, no, no. Not the ubiquitous Beyonce. Forget about lemonade, I’m talking about Lemon Pound Cake (recipe below) and the most adorable Mini Citrus Loaf Pan. EVAH!

IMG_0068

First of all this pan is amazing. The end result is stunning – each mini loaf has a scalloped sides and the citrus slices on top are part of the pan’s shape.  It’s a Nordic Ware pan that I bought from the Vancouver Williams-Sonoma store on sale as a sort of pre-Mother’s Day gift to myself and the recipe is from Cooks Illustrated (the best and easiest lemon pound cake I’ve ever found).  Don’t skimp on the lemon zest and you’ll never use another pound cake recipe again.  Plus, you make it in a food processor in about 5 minutes!!!

The pan is non-stick but you need to use a baking spray (oil & flour together) to ensure that the cakes release perfectly and you get super-sharp edges.  Each pan holds 2 cups of batter (total  6 cup capacity), or one standard 9 x 5″ loaf pan recipe.  I followed the recipe exactly (including the optional glaze) plus drizzled it with a simple glaze of about 1 cup of icing sugar mixed with a little freshly squeeze lemon juice until it was just pourable.

Here’s the pic from the Williams-Sonoma site – isn’t it gorgeous! Make these and you’ll be the star of the block party or your office goodie day. Or the next baby shower, or your MIL’s birthday, or whatever.

LEMON POUND CAKE

MAKES 3 MINI LOAF PANS, or ONE 9 X 5″ LOAF PAN) serving 8
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated
Published March 2002

INGREDIENTS
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
1½ cups cake flour (6 ounces)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp table salt
1¼ cups granulated sugar (8 ¾ ounces)
2 tbsp grated lemon zest plus 2 tsp juice from 2 medium lemons
4 large eggs
1½ tsp pure vanilla extract

LEMON GLAZE (OPTIONAL, but adds moisture)
½ cup granulated sugar (3 ½ ounces)
¼ cup lemon juice, from 1 or 2 medium lemons

LEMON FROSTING (OPTIONAL, but looks so good)
1 cup icing sugar
a few tsp lemon juice to make pourable frosting

INSTRUCTIONS

You can use a blender instead of a food processor to mix the batter. To add the butter, remove the center cap of the lid so it can be drizzled into the whirling blender with minimal splattering. This batter looks almost like a thick pancake batter and is very fluid.

  • Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray interior of mini loaf pans with baking spray. (Or, if you’re using a standard 9×5″ pan, butter and flour your pan in usual way.)  In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  • Melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk melted butter thoroughly to reincorporate any separated milk solids.
  • In food processor, process sugar and zest until combined, about five 1-second pulses. Add lemon juice, eggs, and vanilla; process until combined, about 5 seconds. With machine running, add melted butter through feed tube in steady stream (this should take about 20 seconds). Transfer mixture to large bowl. Sift flour mixture over eggs in three steps, whisking gently after each addition until just combined.
  • Pour batter evenly into prepared pans and bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees and continue to bake until deep golden brown and skewer inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 minutes, (35 minutes if using a 9 x 5″ pan) rotating pan halfway through baking time. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, turn onto wire rack.
  • If using lemon glaze, while cake is cooling in pan, bring sugar and lemon juice to boil in small nonreactive saucepan, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to low and simmer until thickened slightly, about 2 minutes.
  • After turning cake onto wire rack, poke the cake’s top and sides with a toothpick and brush on Lemon Glaze. Cool to room temperature, at least 1 hour. (Cooled cake can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 5 days.)

Optional but looks so good! – Mix icing sugar with enough lemon juice (add one teaspoon at a time) to make a pourable frosting and pour over cakes.

Enjoy and get ready for the compliments!!

Till next time!  Happy knitting and baking!

It’s never a bad time to order yarn

Sometimes life is no fun at all and you have to decide to either curl up in the fetal position or crack on with things. Frankly, I often chose the fetal position since I know from experience that it can be very effective, especially when combined with sleeping under a big fluffy duvet. Besides, there are just some situations where cracking on is a waste of time and energy and the only solution to a problem is to lie down and close your eyes. If I could only figure out how to knit while sleeping, I’d have it made!

Occasionally, I’ve ordered yarn during a time when I’m feeling really good, when optimism is my watchword, and then when the box arrives, I can barely bring myself to open it because I’m feeling too low. But when I do, it always cheers me. Best of all, I’ve ordered yarn when I’m on the downswing and by the time the package arrives, I’m feeling better and it’s like Christmas all over again. The bottom line is, there really is no bad time to order yarn.

jojoland_rhythm_13

Jojoland Rhythm – Bumble Berry

 

 

 

 

 

Last week, I was feeling a little blah when I saw that Elann was having a Full Bag Blowout on something I’ve always wanted to try: Jojoland Rhythm in Bumble Berry at 10 balls for U$20. (You can also order individual balls at $2.85/each.) Say what?! Three seconds later, my order was submitted. To round it up so I could apply a $2.50 voucher, I also ordered single skeins of Manos del Uruguay Wool Classica for a mere $7.88 in a pale grey and Patons Classic Wool DK Superwash in a lovely brownish Heath Heather for $2.48. The box came today (Elann has the best service!) and when I saw it perched on my desk at work, my heart skipped a little and I felt pure delight.

wool classicaClassic WoolDon’t frickin’ ask me what I’m going to make with this yarn, at least not yet. Somewhere in my brain I’m thinking maybe a Mitered Crosses or Log Cabin Blanket for the Jojoland Rythym. I love the thick-and-thin Manos and might make myself a Felicity hat for fall (I had a very hard time giving away the lime green one I made for Alexis!) For now, though, I’m just going to enjoy looking at and playing with my squishy new stash additions and revel in this happy moment.

Thank you knitting, once again, for making my day better.

felicity

Lime Green Felicity

 

 

Update – Reindeer Games, Sweet Fiber and some FOs

Living the dream

I’ve got a week off from work and have naturally spent it in a knitting frenzy.  In fact, I’ve spent so much time knitting that feel a little guilty (okay, not really) that I’ve neglected some other things I’m supposed to be doing.  For instance, my Sunday vacuuming and dusting didn’t get done until yesterday and, what’s more reprehensible, bookclub is tomorrow and I’ve only read the back cover of the book.

Here’s what’s been distracting me this week:

Reindeer Games

The Girl has been begging me for a Vintage Reindeer Cardigan (to match her Dad’s) and I’ve finally cast on using Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Bulky. The first picture illustrates what I love about colour-work, i.e. watching a motif appear, row by row.  In this case, reindeer footprints above the ribbing then two reindeer frolicking in the forest.  Then, the second picture shows what I absolutely LOATHE about colour-work, i.e. all the frickin’ tangle-y bobbins and countless ends to weave in. Sometimes it gets so convolutedly messy that I have to just put down the mangled mess and take a break.  🙂  The good news is that this bulky yarn knits up pretty quickly on 6.0 mm needles.

The back in progress

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yargh!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More yarn! – Sweet Fiber Yarns

Yeah, yeah, I’m supposedly on a yarn diet (whatever!), but I really, really needed some of Sweet Fiber Yarn’s special Super Sweet Sock yarn (80% Merino, 20% nylon, 415 yds, $25) It’s an exclusive colourway created especially for Knit City 2012.  It’s also available in Cashmerino Worsted (80% Merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon, 200 yds, $28).  Go immediately to the Knit Social Shop to order some.  While you’re there, check out their other special Knit City merch.

Super Sweet Sock Yarn, in Knit City 2012

Hats off!

As for Finished Objects, in addition to the Celestial Cowl mentioned in my previous post, I banged out a couple of hats for Christmas gifts.  The Husband works outdoors so I made him a cozy toque with Spud & Chloe Fine yarn in two manly shades of grey (insert joke here), Hippo and Sidewalk.  It’s a free pattern on Ravelry, Susan B. Anderson’s Chili Pepper Hat. I looks great as a hipster slouch and also as a watch cap with the striped cuff turned up.

Chili Pepper Hat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then, I whipped up a Felicity hat (another free pattern).  This more than slightly crappy picture doesn’t show how pretty this colour is.  This pattern is perfect for the rustic thick-and-thin Manos del Uruguay Wool Classica in Lime.

Felicity hat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miscellaneous ongoing WIPs

I’m continuing to work on my Cashmere Chili Pepper – holy doodle, is this Handmaiden Cashmere ever soft!  (Attention anyone who might be hoping this is a gift: sorry, this one’s mos def for me.)

Cashmere Chili Pepper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As well, I’m forging on with my Snowbird Cardigan. After completing the yoke, I’m now about a quarter of the way through the first sleeve, which I’m working on DPNs because I hate seaming with a passion (although not as much as I hate using bobbins).  Can’t wait to wear this.  It’s a quintessential cozy cardi.

Next – I love you Twist Collective!

Up next, I’ll weigh in on my favourites from the Winter 2012 issue of Twist Collective.  (There are so many that it needs a separate post!)

 

Report from Circle Craft 2012: Indigo Moon Yarns

I’m over the moon about Indigo Moon Yarns

Last Friday, after a busy day at the sausage factory, I nipped over to the Circle Craft Christmas Market at the Convention Centre in Vancouver.  Yes, there were galloons of very talented artisans on hand with their beautiful wares, but my main purpose of going was to see my lovely friend Trish Moon and to moon over her ridiculously stunning hand-dyed Indigo Moon yarns.  Circle Craft was her last show of 2012 so it was my last chance to see her until next year.  I’m so supposed to be on a yarn diet (these two words should never appear together) so I had pre-limited myself to buying only two skeins of yarn.

I don’t like the pics my BlackBerry takes – so blurry!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In particular, I couldn’t wait to see her 100% Merino Wool Worsted in the lovely colourway, Celestial Blue.  A cowl made with the yarn was on display in her booth and, believe me, neither the yarn or the cowl disappointed.  I’ve discovered that, at least with technology available to me, it is practically impossible to take a photo that even remotely does this yarn justice.  There is such depth and richness of colour and the stitch definition is just plain ridiculous that you have to see it with your own eyes to believe it.  The pic below comes very close to capturing the shimmering night-sky blues in this yarn. Trish is a true master dyer – her work is simply magical.

Pure gorgeousness!

A Noble Cowl

As soon as I got home that night, I cast on the same lacy cowl that was on display in Trish’s booth, A Noble Cowl (bonus: it’s a free pattern on Ravelry!).  It required only a single skein of yarn (185 m/200 yds), however, if you use a slightly bigger needle than called for, knit a little loose or use a bind-off that uses a lot of yarn (I used Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-off which famously sucks up yarn but is perfect for edges that need a lot of give), you may run out of yarn, like I did.  To avoid that and the weeping that may ensue, you might want to work a lifeline towards the end of the pattern, just in case.  I ended up unpicking the last couple of rows of the pattern and as you can tell from the pic, no harm was done, and I used all but about 30 cm of the yarn.  The pic below was taken in sunlight, which brings out the turquoise undertones.

A Noble Cowl in Celestial Blue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wild Berries Sock Yarn

I was also eager to see Trish’s deliciously squishy Blue-Faced Leiscester sock yarn in the juicy Wild Berries colourway.  A sample shawl was on display in her booth (you can see it in the pic at the top of this post) and as predicted, I was unable to resist this yarn either.  Think fuchsia-purple-raspberry and you’ll get the picture.  I have to meditate on what to make with this yarn – it’s so touchable and beautiful to gaze upon that I will likely make a cowl, scarf or shawl – something that will show it off.  While it would make spectacular socks, it seems a shame to hide this yarn under pant legs or tucked into shoes.

BFL sock in Wild Berries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you to the woolly BFL sheep for this lovely yarn

More than just yarn – weaving too!

Trish Moon is famous for her beautiful hand-dyed yarn, but you may not be aware that she is also a master weaver.  On the Weavings page of her site, you’ll find luxurious silk and wool shawls, wraps, scarves and blankets, all drapey and soft and made with her gorgeous hand-dyed yarns.  Delightfully, she also makes the loveliest hand-woven 100% cotton tea towels, again in billions of yummy colours – so pretty you’ll actually want to dry the dishes!  Look what I came home with (thanks again, Trish – you’re the best!)

Hand-woven 100% cotton tea towel – pure luxury!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fingers crossed that Indigo Moon Yarns will be at Knit City again next year (I know where I’ll be on October 26-27, 2013).

Me with the hugely talented and very lovely Trish Moon at Circle Craft (note to self: never take pictures with a BlackBerry!)

 

Forgive me, for I am a selfish knitter…

I try to be a good person, but…

I am actually a terrible person. I have all these plans to knit Christmas gifts for other people (e.g. a vintage Mary Maxim reindeer sweater for The Girl, cowls and fingerless mitts for various and sundry friends and/or relatives, a hat and socks for my husband, etc. etc.), but I keep getting distracted by stuff for me. Plus, I’m having trouble using my copious stash for these urgently required items so I keep buying things.  For instance, this Spud & Chloe Fine that I just bought for the husband’s Chili Pepper Hat, which I’m almost finished:

Spud & Chloe Fine in Hippo and Pavement

In fact, I was recently busted by the aforementioned spouse when he asked me “Hey, I once heard you say that you have more yarn than you’ll ever use in your lifetime, so why did you just buy more?” Naturally, I had no answer for this so pretended I hadn’t heard the question. How can I possibly make him understand that, yes, I have a veritable mountain of perfectly good fingering weight yarn stored under every bed and in every closet in the house, but none in the exact colour needed for the hat I’m making you with all the love in my heart.

Um, yeah…. I’m keeping that

An example of an object tricot initially meant for someone else that I have subsequently selfishly appropriated is Jane Richmond‘s Rae, which I made using SweetGeorgia’s Tough Love Sock in a custom colourway from Knit City. I think you’ll agree that the pattern and the yarn were born for each other. Just look how stripey it is without being pool-y:

Rae Scarf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, my idea was that this will be a gift for someone as-yet-undetermined, but the more I look at it and wrap it around my neck, the more I realize that I need to just accept that the only way someone else will have this is if it’s pried from my cold dead hands.

Also, I just finished Veronik Avery’s beautiful Lace Weekend Socks, which I cast on with every intention to gift them, but once finished, I put them on and, Bingo!, suddenly they were mine. Veronik’s (very sadly discontinued) St-Denis Boreale yarn is absolutely divine for socks. So woolly and cozy, it’s impossible to imagine giving them away. In fact, just the thought of parting with them made me a little weepy. (BTW, go to stdenisyarns.com now – all the yarn (Boreale, Nordique and Sommet) plus her lovely patterns are on clearance.)

Lace Weekend Socks

 

More distraction

And now, after digesting Jane’s exquisite new book Island and favouriting every single pattern, I’ve just placed an order from Quince & Co. for two skeins of their Sparrow linen yarn in Juniper to make her Strathcona scarf. (Update: I just received notification that it has shipped. Wheee!!)  And this time, I’m not even bothering to pretend that it’s for anyone but me. I mean seriously, this colour has me written all over it.

Sparrow in “Juniper” (photo from Quince & Co.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The good news as far as my Christmas knitting goes is that the aforementioned Sparrow won’t arrive for a few weeks (shipping from Maine) so I’ll have plenty of time to cast on the reindeer sweater and maybe even get most of it finished before the end of November.  Providing, of course, that my inner magpie can resist becoming distracted by other shiny projects in the meantime. (Yarn gods give me strength!)

Something I plan to focus on after my Christmas work is done is plowing through Pacific Knits, the other book I bought at Knit City. I love every single pattern in it. My niece is expecting again in a few months and I’ll need some wee woolies for him/her and a tiny-sized Antler Cardigan would be a perfect.. Happily, I may have stash yarn for this – which of course pretty much cancels out the cost of the Quince & Co purchase. It’s like getting free yarn! Right? Right? (Just nod in agreement.) That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  🙂

Antler Cardigan (photo by Tin Can Knits)

Happy knitting y’all!

 

SweetGeorgia Yarns – will you marry me?

Knitting Report

SweetGeorgia Yarns, I am in love with you and hate you at the same time.  While still on a yarn high from Knit City last weekend, I spent the better part of this week playing with your CashLuxe Fine and Silk Mist yarns and fear I am spoiled for any other fibre.  Damn you cashmere!  You are a cruel but soft mistress.

Felicia Lo is the genius behind SweetGeorgia and I’ve always loved her yarns.  Her Tough Love Sock is a gold standard of sock yarn.  But the CashLuxe is simply heavenly.  A fingering weight comprising 70% merino, 20% cashmere and 10% nylon, it is soft, squishy and luxurious as well as hard working (thanks to that smidgen of nylon) and is perfect for cowls, shawls and of course socks.  And as usual with SweetGeorgia, the colour palette is beyond description.  The colours I used for my Five by Five cowl were rich semi-solids called Charcoal and Silver, names that don’t begin to capture the myriad of shades within.  The cowl is worked with one strand of each shade of the two shades of CashLuxe Fine and a strand of the Silk Mist (at 60% mohair and 40% silk, it’s a yarn that Rowan’s Kidsilk Haze wishes it could be) in a colour called Mist, a delicious lilac.  All three yarns combined make for the most embraceable cowl ever.  I wear it constantly.  And this weekend, with the leftover CashLuxe, I monkeyed with Purl Soho’s Colorblock Handwarmers to make some lovely fingerless mitts.  Just look at them all together.  Love!!

Five by Five cowl with Colour Block Fingerless Mitts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DH has instructed me to give him full credit for the above photo.  Of course the yarn takes most of the credit.  Not to mention the photo app on my iPad for the cool depth-of-field effect.

Knit City 2012 (or the best way to have fun at the Croatian Cultural Centre)

Free Stuff – wheeee!

I’m so glad I got up early today – I managed to be among the first 50 attendees at Knit City 2012 this morning and was lucky enough to receive a gorgeous Knit City tote filled with awesome freebies:

Just look at all the awesome stuff I got!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seriously Gorgeous Yarn – SweetGeorgia and Blue Sky Alpacas

Then I trolled the many vendor booths before deciding on some very special items.  First off, I picked up a skein of SweetGeorgia Yarns‘ specially dyed Tough Love Sock.  It’s an exclusive colourway called “Knit Social 2012”, made especially for Knit City.  I’ll probably use it for a scarf or shawl or cowl or… who knows!  Just look at it.  It is gorgeousness:

Tough Love Sock in “Knit Social 2012”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also stopped to chat with the gals at the Knits by the Sea booth (they’re from beautiful Tofino) and snagged some Blue Sky Alpacas Sport Weight yarn in a delicious green at 50% off.  There’s no colour name on the tag so I’m calling it Lime Squishy.  Because it’s a lime-y green and it’s very squishy.  This yarn must be touching skin at all times and therefore has “cowl” written all over it.

Blue Sky Alpacas “Lime Squishy” Sport Weight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then I went back to the ATM and got some more money for the piece de resistance, SweetGeorgia’s CashLuxe Fine (in “Charcoal” and “Silver”) and Silk Mist (in “Mist”) to make her Five by Five cowl.  My respiratory system almost shut down when I clapped eyes on these colours and buried my face in the heavenly softness of this yarn.  I’m sorry people, but there really is no substitute for the combination of cashmere and silk.

SweetGeorgia’s CashLuxe Fine and Silk Mist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s the best kind of book?  A knitting book, of course!

I also sprang for some books, both of which I’ve been coveting and both of which the authors signed for me.  Sigh.

First is Alexa Ludeman and Emily Wessel‘s ridiculously fantastic new book, Pacific Knits.  Not only are they simply beautiful designs, but all of them are written to fit babies from 0-6 months all the way up to adult sized 4XL.  (Whhaaaa!??  Everyone should be doing this!) Would someone please alert the Nobel committee – these gals deserve a prize for total awesomeness!  Bonus points – I had a lovely chat with the uber-talented Alexa at her booth – she and her wee newborn bairn were a delight.

Pacific Knits

Also added to my library is the amazing and beautiful Jane Richmond‘s new book, Island, available as a special pre-release at Knit City.  Elegant, original and fresh, this collection of luxe accessories and sweaters is breathtaking.  Beautifully photographed, this books inspires me to spend every waking moment knitting.  Go to luvinthemommyhood to read more and watch a cool preview video.

ISLAND: A Collection on Vimeo.

Can’t wait for Knit City 2013

Thanks Knit Social for an amazing event.  I had a blast meeting and talking to my fellow knitting obsessives.  I’ll definitely be up again at the crack of dawn to snag more swag at Knit City 2013!  But for now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to put my new yarn on the bed and roll around in it whilst I read my new books.   🙂