Here Comes the Bridie – and what’s next!

MY BRIDIE AND JOY!

My Bridie by Bristol Ivy is definitely in my all-time top 10 favourite projects.   From start to finish it hit all the sweet-spots:

  • it was quick and fun from the get-go – a great project for newish knitters and old pros alike.
  • easy to memorize stitch pattern – no need to keep an eagle eye on the charts and no cable needle required.
  • no need to count stitches because if you placed your markers between the repeats you could easily see if you made any bungles and it was super-easy to fix those on the next row.
  • it was my project for Very Shannon‘s Tops, Tanks & Tees Knit Along 2016 and for the first time ever in the history of the world, I actually finished a project before a KAL deadline!!
  • best of all, it’s gorgeous and so easy to wear!

As for ease of wearing, I had some concerns at first because, er, of my general chestal area. To put it delicately, I’m well blessed in the boobage department and most shrugs are somewhat fitted and simply serve to put the girls “on display”, as it were.  But Bridie is fairly loose fitting and if you’re a bit Rubenesque like me and choose a generous size, you’ll be ensured of a fit that (mostly) covers your backside and doesn’t bind around the front.  However, I did find that wearing it with tops with more modest necklines prevented me from feeling a bit like King Louis XV’s mistress Madame Nesle de la Tourelle in the second season of Outlander. (Google it if you don’t know what I’m talking about. But be warned, the photo is NSFW.)

In my particular case, I didn’t use the called for yarn (Kestrel by Quince & Co.) but substituted Classic Elite’s Portland Tweed.  Because of the fibre content (wool/rayon/alpaca), it has fabulous drape and is ideal for year-round wear.  I had barely enough in the stash to make the size M, which was at the low end of the size range that would fit me best, but I blocked it aggressively until it measured the dimensions of the sizes L.  I just could not love it more! 

If you’re on the fence about this pattern, I say dive in – you won’t be disappointed.

WHAT’S NEXT ON MY NEEDLES?

After compulsively whipping up some socks for my beloved (Susan B. Anderson’s How I Make My Socks, men’s 72 stitch version in Schachenmayr Regia Design Line by Arne & Carlos in Moon Night with Regia Solid in Ecru contrast cuffs, heels and toes), I’m a bit at sixes and sevens about what to make next while I wait for my copy of Making, Issue One to arrive in the mail.  I can keep working on a “second sleeve” but I mostly don’t feel like doing that because it involves DPNs that are juuuuust a little too short. (Ugh!! where are those interchangeable 4.5mm needle tips??)

I did start another pair of socks for Erik so that I’d have something small to work on in spare moments, but then I noticed that Sarah Pope’s sweet little Fir Cone Cap has hit the Ravelry What’s Hot Now list (the pattern is free on Ravelry!).  Sarah designed this delight to coordinate with her stunning Haro shawl (below) in Brooklyn Tweed’s Plains laceweight yarn from their latest collection, Wool People 10.  Note: if you haven’t drooled over anything lately, go there immediately!

Haro – photo © Brooklyn Tweed

Haro uses about 1½ skeins of Plains and the longest (slouchiest) length of the Fir Cone Cap (pictured) uses almost all of the second skein.  Isn’t that the most perfect thing?  I mean, who wants even a speck of that precious fibre to languish in their stash?

Fir Cone Cap – photo © Sarah Pope

Fir Cone Cap – photo © Whistling Girl Knits

What are you knitting next? Anything from Wool People 10?  I’d love to know.

Happy knitting y’all!

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!

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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!

Celebrate Shawl Month with a Gorgeous Amberle!

Amberle Shawl

My Amberle Shawl

After a long break from blogging, I’m back. I may not have been writing, but I’ve been knitting – most recently test-knitting Amberle, a splendid big cushy shawl by Shannon Cook, aka Very Shannon.  The textured stitches are addictive and fun to work and you’d be surprised how quickly it knits up!  I made mine in Julie Asselin’s gorgeous Nurtured yarn in the colours Fer a cheval (MC) and Naturel (CC). Just look at Shannon’s sample in the colours Compass and Irma below.  Check out Julie’s Etsy shop to see the stunning Nurtured kits she’s put together for you to make your own Amberle.

Photo by Betsy Jo Photography

 

 

 

 

And if you’re as crazy about this shawl as I am (and everyone else who’s made one), Churchmouse Yarn & Teas on Bainbridge Island, WA is having a fun Amberle Shawl Knit-Along.  Head over to Churchmouse’s Ravelry group for info and to sign up.  For extra fun, Shannon has put together some stunning colour combos of Brooklyn Tweed Shelter – you can even buy kits of Shelter on Churchmouse’s site.

I can’t get enough of my Amberle, here are a couple more pics:

So cozy!

So cozy!

It's huge! (That's what she said)

It’s huge! (That’s what she said)

Happy knitting y’all!

Next up:  Some chit-chat about Very Shannon’s 2016 Tops, Tanks and Tees Knit-Along. Hope you’ll come along for the ride!

Road Trippin’ with Tin Can Knits

I love test knitting and this summer I had the great pleasure of testing a clutch of beauties for Tin Can Knits and now that their print and e-book  is available for pre-order, I can finally talk about them.  (I also did some projects for Shannon Cook and Jane Richmond but will write about those when the veil of secrecy has been lifted.) TCK’s latest book is called Road Trip and, like any good road trip, it’s awesome. According to their website, Emily and Alexa say that the book is “inspired our adventures across Canada; winding roads through mountain passes, coffee in quaint towns, and bonfires on remote beaches. With cables, colourwork and lace, Road Trip is full of delicious designs.” The three patterns from the book that I tested were two gorgeous cardigans – cable-yoked Caribou and stranded-yoke Clayoquot and a matching Clayoquot toque.  I made wee baby sizes for the gift stash (come on young, fertile friends of mine – have some more babies so I can give these a good home!) but the patterns are written for all sizes, from newborns through 4XL.

Caribou Cardigan

Caribou Cardigan

Clayoquot Cardigan

Clayoquot Cardigan

Clayoquot Toque

Clayoquot Toque

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As always, the patterns fit perfectly, are beautifully written and photographed and full of great tips and tutorials.  Pre-order here or on Ravelry and knit until the wheels come off!

Book Review – Botanical Knits: Twelve Designs Inspired by Trees and Foliage

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Big love for Alana Dakos

Alana Dakos is the super-talent behind the Never Not Knitting blog and podcast. I’ve been a fan of hers forever (who doesn’t love Coastal Knits, the legendary Cedar Leaf Shawlette and zillions of her other pretty things?) but I went into immediate obsessive-adoration mode when I saw the previews for her amazing new book: Botanical Knits.

Inspired partly by the plants and forests of California, every single one of the 12 gorgeous designs cries out to be made. Immediately. Colour-work like Fair Isle and stranding are very beautiful but in my heart, I am a texture knitter.  There is just something about the way cables weave together impossibly to make a squishy delicious fabric that really makes me happy.  And this book makes me very, very happy.  A quick read of various comments on Ravelry will tell you I’m not alone in wanting to make every leafy, twiggy thing in the book.

Here are some of my very most favourites from the book:

Entangled Vines cardigan
Entangled Vines cardigan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forest Floor beanie

Forest Floor beanie

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wrapped in Leaves

Wrapped in Leaves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ivy Trellis Socks (also available as mittens)

Ivy Trellis Socks (also available as mittens)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twigs and Willows cardigan

Twigs and Willows cardigan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instant Gratification – buy it now!

Purchase this beauty now at www.botanicalknits.com. The “real” book is available for pre-order (it ships in May 2013) and the price includes a free ebook that you can download today and start drooling over immediately. You can also buy the ebook only if that’s what you prefer. But after listening to Alana’s podcast on the subject (episode 69), the book is a piece of art in itself and while ebooks are awesome for pattern portability (especially when you can mark them up on GoodReader on your iPad), I love holding a real book in my hands.

N.B. all photos in this post are from the book and are by Carlee Tatum (prettyminded.com)

 

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!)