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!

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!

Solstice Sky – or what to make with gorgeous yarn

Yes, it’s summer, but soon it will be bloody freezing again.  Here’s a little something to whip up before the chill is back in the air…

Solstice Sky

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every fall, I go to Circle Craft Christmas Market in Vancouver specifically to buy yarn from one of my favourite hand-dyers in the world, Trish Moon from Indigo Moon Yarns. She is a master of colour (mistress of colour?) and has an uncanny ability to combine my favourite colours with the squishiest, most delicious yarn imaginable.

There it was on the table in her booth, a pile of yummy worsted weight Indigo Moon Studio Edition Merino in the most delicious saturated colours. The one that jumped out at me was in an exquisite colour called Solstice Moon. Five seconds later, money flew out of my wallet and two skeins were in my bag.  Result!

This gorgeous yarn begs for cables and soon my brain sprouted an idea for a hat – a cabled beanie with a little bit of slouch. I swatched, I knit, I sketched, I sent it for testing and knit some more and, yada, yada, yada, Solstice Sky was born.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A quick-to-knit cable-panel beanie, it’s an adult size M-L knit in the round from the brim up and stretches easily to comfortably fit noggins from 19-23” (48-59 cm). The instructions for the cable are both written and charted and it uses approximately 150-165 yds (137-151 m).

The pattern is $5.00 – click the “Buy Now” button below to purchase it from my Ravelry store.  (FYI, you do not have to be a member of Ravelry to purchase the pattern, but knitting is more fun if you’re a member – it’s free!)

buy-now

Smokestack – My first design

I’m a published designer!

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top row: Slouch style, bottom row: Beanie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My first design, Smokestack, is a lacy “faux cable” beanie or slouch hat. Its mirror-image lace “cables” are reminiscent of smoke plumes wafting from a chimneystack on a chilly winter’s day.  With two crown options, the easy-to-memorize lace pattern flows from a ribbed brim and works up quickly – using less than one skein of DK or Worsted yarn – and no cable needle required!  Instructions are both fully written and charted.  Worked seamlessly in the round from the brim up, this is ideal for lace newbies or advanced knitters.

It’s a super-quick knit so it’s perfect for holiday gifting – in a couple of evenings you’ll have a super-cute hat.  I’m warning you though, it’s so cute you won’t want to give it away!

Wanna buy it?  It’s only $5.00 – click the “Buy Now” button below to purchase the pattern from my Ravelry store.  (FYI, you don’t need to be a member of Ravelry to purchase the pattern, but if you want to have more fun with your knitting, you should join – it’s free.)

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

 

 

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)