Thursday, September 14, 2017

Introducing THREE new patterns for Fall!  These feature my favorite things - texture, cables, and dramatic color.  They are squishy and satisfying and I do hope you guys like them.

The first one, Nor'easter has been a long time in the making.  If you're reading this blog, then you are probably already familiar with my Dark and Stormy -- right?  Well, that is a favorite of mine, but I've always wanted to go back and give it another spin. I love the deep shawl collar and slouchy fit of that cardigan, but it was the dark gray and the bold cables that made it special to me, and I knew I could add those to a whole different type of slouchy cardigan.  (and then my girl could radiate some attitude while wearing it, yes? She wasn't actually angry, this was her Blue Steel.)

The way I see it, the Grandpa sweater is timeless and classic, but there are different proportions and details to play with.  Nor'easter still features a sophisticated, beautifully deep gray in some bold, eye-catching cables on back, but otherwise it's a totally different kind of cardigan from the original.

I've added length and a subtle A-line fit to the cardigan, so there's a little extra room down below, and this one works with a long shirt or a pair of jeans that require a little length at back. (ahem)  I worked a saddle shoulder for a more tailored fit and I've added a split shawl collar for something different. Afterthought pockets (so much of an afterthought that I hadn't put them on when Maya posed for me... photos of the pockets are on Ravelry) were added because POCKETS.

And lastly, I just love the way the cable melts into the body of the sweater. I may have my favorites among the changes, but overall this cardigan is the perfect slouchier, longer thing I wanted to wear this year. Yes,  I do have a cocktail recipe for you,  but it will follow in a few days.

And when thinking about my wardrobe this Fall, it wasn't only a new sweater.

Negroni was the second thing I wanted to wear - a big, cozy cowl with eye catching texture and rich color that could be left long or wrapped double around my neck.  This one features a bobble motif that looks almost crocheted. (which I also love because maybe people will think I know how to crochet as well..)  I paired the texture with some single ribs and a big statement cable.  The knitting is easy and the needles are BIG, so Negroni is a super quick, satisfying project. And I'm in love with this color for Fall. Plus I love Negronis.  Win win.

But really, you have to try Glazed Pecan, in madelinetosh Vintage. It's a deep cinnamon shade that's deep and rich and really pops in the texture.  This color for Fall is just so beautiful.

And lastly is Mojito, a simple hat design with a couple of cool things going on.  It's a classic cabled beanie designed to feature one almost-hidden detail. The accent stripe weaves in and out of the cable feet between the ribbing and body of the hat!  It was a fun little detail to work, and it matches the pompom, because I'm always powerless not to match colors when facing a wall of handdyed yarn. The greenish blue of Madelinetosh's Translation pairs nicely with the pale blue of Memory for this one. I also think Nassau Blue or Baltic may do the trick for the deep green....  There are so many colors to choose from, and I'm guessing most of you have a skein or a leftover you'd want to pair with something fun and new?

The idea here was to just pair two sizes of complimentary cable twists to show off the round, squishy yarn and then work in an accent color to really show off the highlights in the handdyed shades. The accent stripe kind of evolved as I worked it, and then I also played a little with the staggered ribbing below the cables, using the stripe at the transition. It's quite easy - perfect TV knitting.  And once done, you can reverse the colors and make a second hat!

More details, photographs, and the PDFs for all 3 patterns can be found on my Ravelry page, and on the blog pages here.

WEBS has all these colors, including Composition Book Grey, in stock and will order more should they run out -- And they always discount Vintage so if your order is at least $60, you get 20% off, and if  you order is at least $120, you get 25% off!

And now I can feel like I've properly entered the Fall season....

Thursday, August 24, 2017

You guys remember I promised I'd release a few patterns over the course of the year to benefit charities I believe in?  Here's #3.

$2 of each purchase of Mamie Taylor will go to the Malala Fund through Sept 6.

I dropped my own girl off at school this week, and my mind has been on the importance of giving young women every chance we can. For girls across the world, education isn't a given, and the benefits of self-worth and confidence that come with it are also kept from them.  I love everything Malala has done and said to help girls across the globe, and I am inspired by her bravery and drive.  In the hopes that we can add something to her efforts to bring opportunity and education to girls everywhere, I decided this would be the next charity.  

So far, Dami and I wrote a great check to Women of Tomorrow with Rob Roy in order to help at risk teen girls in Miami, Philadephis and Detroit get to college.  And with London Fog, I was able to give a few hundred dollars to Cradles to Crayons, a local organization I volunteer at each Wednesday that provides needy kids across MA with clothing, school supplies and other items they need to thrive and wouldn't otherwise have.  

Mamie Taylor is an intricately cabled hat that's WAY easier than it looks, knit in lovely Gilliatt wool from De Rerum Natura. The diamond motif is completely addictive, and has gorgeous high and lows that show up perfectly in a yarn with just a little something to it. I used this gorgeous heathered wool but a tweed, another heather, or a semi solid would also work beautifully.

The cables are both charted and written, and it's my firm belief that a hat is the perfect place to play with something a little more detailed - you only have to pay attention for a short while, it won't add bulk anywhere you don't like, and there's minimal shaping.

In fact, I'm always just a little sad when I finish something like this, so I decided to work a second one, in De Rerum's great, classic gray for more of a traditional look and feel.  I left the pom off the second one for some extra contrast between the two.

More details are on the Ravelry page, and the hat is also available on the patterns section of the blog here.

And the recipe is below. Mamie herself was an actress and opera singer in the early 20th century - I was leaning towards a drink named for a great female educator, but wouldn't you guess there wasn't one?  So, this time I just liked the name.  Maybe next time I'll make up a drink for the theme I have in mind....

Mamie Taylor
Fill a tall glass with ice cubes, and one slice of lemon or lime.
Over the ice and lemon, pour 2 oz gin or scotch whiskey.
Pour ginger ale to top.  Stir and serve.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

My latest design, Boston Flip, is a hat design created in a soft, natural chunky yarn.  It features a bold motif, and is otherwise a simple knit, meant to be done twice, with the colors flipped.

These hats were designed as a gift to my daughter Maya and her best friend Olivia.  In a few weeks they will both be off to different colleges, and as a mom and a knitter there was really only one way to properly send them off.  

I of course, have tons to say and impart to the girls and can only do that by overthinking every single element of the design, right? 

I started with the yarn. Traditional. A soft wool, in gorgeous natural colors from a company that respects the farms and breeds of Yorkshire.  Baa ram ewe's Dovestone Chunky was perfect, and Maya smelled it the moment I got home from Pomfest with these skeins.  They know the role of the sheepy yarn.  It's important.

And the feel of the design?  Still traditional, but not. Strong and bold and unique. Both of these guys have always swam a little upstream, out of the current - and often right into it.  Both girls love their history and tradition and are unafraid to challenge it, think about it and decide how it should be re-interpreted for a changing world. Hence a bold, strong motif that felt traditional but was actually not pulled off an existing chart. It's perhaps Icelandic, but perhaps not.   

And in the motif are layers.  A sturdy bottom arch that maybe even looks like a house. I think this one represents the stuff we've added to each child as parents - the rules, the lessons, the patience (or not), years of arguing and teaching and living with them. Showing them what we could as they grew up - that's the foundation we've created. The second arch is still sturdy and fits right into that bottom one - that's all the stuff they've done themselves - the friends they chose, the music and the writing and the schoolwork, the adventures they had and the things they've experienced and the people they've changed and been changed by so far. 

Then, there's that top portion - the taller, open arch.  That's the future.  It  has solid walls and a roof, but there's room inside for whatever comes next, and it's held up by those bottom layers. 

So yep, I overthought everything.  But it still feels right, and even thought it's a complex backstory, it's a simple hat.  Nice thick yarn, some fun stranded colorwork and a simple crown.

Two skeins (130 yds each) will get you two S or M hats, each the reverse of the other.  If knitting two in the largest size, you may want some extra yarn. I have included notes in the pattern about how to modify for depth or width - as well as ideas on using a worsted or bulky gauge.  Here you can see I've knit the white one to be just a little slouchier than the brown version. I think it works both ways..

The pattern is available on Ravelry HERE for $6.50, and is on the patterns section of this website as well, just click PATTERNS on the bar at top.... 

The drink?

Well the "flip" part is pretty self explanatory, right?  White with brown, brown with white.

But the Boston part is because that's where these two have wandered around for the past 7 or 8 years.  Somerville, Cambridge, JP, Boston, North Shore, Arlington, Winchester, and Lexington. Parks and museums and the T and the city and the suburbs. It seemed appropriate.

A flip is s smooth, creamy drink - it's a small, sweet way to end the night, and it involves an egg. That's what adds the creaminess, so it's first shaken without ice, then ice is added before you pour.

In a shaker without ice:

2 oz maderia
2 oz bourbon
1 fresh egg (both yolk and white)
.5 simple syrup

shake without ice until frothy, add ice to shaker, shake again briefly and pour into coupe glass. Add nutmeg.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Whoa, guys!  This summer is just flying by.  But before it's gone, I wanted to share some of my travels with you.  I was so incredibly excited to go all the way out to the Shetland Islands this June, on one of Gudrun Johsnton and MaryJane Mucklestone's wonderful Shetland Adventures.

The chance to go to the islands with Gudrun and Mary Jane would have been a bucket list item in the first place, but the chance to be there with a group of fellow industry people was seriously a once in a lifetime trip.

My travel buddy from beginning to end was fellow designer and one of my best friends, Amy Christoffers.  She's up in Vermont and I'm down in Boston, so we booked our tix online via phone call ("Three seats left on this one. OK, when I say go, click on it!") and met up at Logan Airport the day of our flight, only to find out that our tickets had been changed from Edinburgh to Glasgow.

So we rolled with that and ended up seeing an extra city on both the front and back ends.

Here's Amy on the ferry:

We arrived in Edinburgh with a day and a night to play and explore, and took full advantage.

Then we met up with everyone for a train ride to Aberdeen, where we boarded a giant Viking-themed overnight ferry to the most remote and beautiful inn I'll probably ever have the chance to stay at, Burrastow House:

That's the view from the short hike out the front door.   You wind along the water and hop that stone fence, and then shimmy past a little stream at the beach edge if it's high tide, trying to keep your feet dry.  Once you crest the hill, it's just sheep and grass and cliffs and water to explore.  This is pretty much what we did every night (photo taken after 10pm,  and yes, it's still light out!).  We only got lost once, when we cut inland - otherwise, following the water was a great way to get back.

See all the white bits on the ground?  Those are either bog cotton or little fluffs of wool that naturally snag or fall off the sheep.  See the bigger white bits in the distance?  Sheep.

They roam every grassy inch of the islands. Seriously. They Are Everywhere.

We roamed the islands in 3 little red cars.  I feel like we were everywhere too.

Some of us got souvenirs in Lerwick - at the Jameison's shop on the main street.

But shopping was not the main goal.

We visited Oliver Henry, the famous wool man of Jameison and Smith, toured the Jameison's factory, went to Uradale Farm and ate homemade blueberry cake, studied Hazel Tindall's beautiful fair isle designs, Anne Eunson's lace, and Ella Gordon's vintage sweater collection.  We sailed on a boat, and hoisted sails while dressed in giant orange outfits. We got lost a few times on the road, spent time in the Unst Lace Museum, the Shetland Textile museum, and got a peek into the textile archives in the larger Shetland Island museum in Lerwick.  We sampled local beers and whisky, and ate gorgeous 3 course meals every night.  We hiked to cliffs and puffins and hidden beaches, and collected tufts of wool in our pockets for Bristol to spin into yarn.  We looked for Orcas and never found them, even though the Facebook Orca page said they were nearby.  Some of us found and visited the town of Twat, because that's funny and we are never too old for funny.

Those photos are all on my Instagram feed, @theacolman - as there are WAY too many to put here.

When we weren't out doing All Those Things, we were here.  Around this table knitting and talking, maybe braiding some hair or having a drink, and just spending time together.  And it was really fantastic.

When it was over, we all boarded the ferry again for one more overnight adventure on the Viking boat, and some of us parted ways in Aberdeen.  The rest of us boarded the train to Edinburgh for another few days.  Amy and I spent those in a charming airbnb next to the Castle. We had a great dinner in Ysolda's hood with the remaining travelers and did a bit more exploring.

I took photos of an upcoming sweater design Amy has in a future Knitty (am I allowed to say that?) the next morning. She had been working on it for most the trip, blocked it in our little kitchen, and we decided to wander the stone alleys around the castle with coffees and the camera the morning before we left.  Pretty perfect.

Lastly, we spent one day in our surprise destination of Glasgow, sampling beers and narrowly missing Amy's life goal of going to the Remy Mackintosh house, which was closed on Mondays.  Who even  knew it was a Monday?  We did see the outside, and walked up to the door of the attached museum, but not the same. Instead, beers.  Then it was time to head home.

So many thank yous to Gudrun and Mary Jane for organizing this trip and taking us.  It was an incredible experience, and if any of you get the chance to head out there, bring your cozy clothes, some sturdy hiking shoes, your knitting needles, and a camera.  You'll love it.  

Maybe you'll even catch the orcas.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Hi guys!  I'm just back from Scotland and London and have a little something to share before I flip the laundry.   I do promise to share my photos and blog properly about the two trips, but for now my thoughts are still jumbled and the photos are not downloaded, so tune back in later for all the travel stuff.  Suffice to say that both trips were fantastic!

In the meantime, a new design - Desert Sunrise.

Rounding out the 2017 BabyCocktails Summer Collection - with Honey Vodka and Fog Cutter - Desert Sunrise is a simple pullover with some really beautiful colorwork detail.

I thought this combination of yarn and design would be the perfect thing to finish up my summer with and bridge the gap as the weather turns cool this September.  It's knit in Magpie Fiber's new Solstice yarn, a stunning mix of Domestic merino and cotton, plus silk.  The combination gives the yarn a rustic, soft and airy hand, that's round and lovely and feels great against your skin, and Dami has dyed up such a beautiful collection of colors that you won't be able to choose just one.  Which is why I ended up with colorwork!  You can see the gorgeous kits she's made up right here.  Shown below is one of them - called Too Shy.  She has a few others paired and they are all stunning!

I know I will be wearing this with a tank underneath and a pair of cutoffs  --  actually, the same tank and cutoffs that Gabriella's borrowed to wear in the pics -- when the first cool evenings begin.

Desert Sunrise is knit from the bottom up, with most the attention paid early on.  Sleeves and body are joined at the underarm, and the yoke is knit seamlessly to the top, with just a few short rows to add neckline shaping.  All the wonderful stockinette makes for some peaceful knitting, and again - this fiber is just dreamy on the needles.  

All the details are on Ravelry and the pattern is available for $7.  But since it IS July and I know a sweater may be asking a lot of you all right now, the code DesertSunrise will get you $1 off until July 22.

And yes, there is a cocktail called a Desert Sunrise --  the original is a little too sweet for me, so I've created a variation, but the cool thing about one of these is the ombre effect that you get when you add the grenadine at the end.  I thought it quite appropriate that at colorwork sweater have a colorwork cocktail....

Fill a highball glass with crushed ice.  Pour the following over ice and stir gently.

2 oz vodka
2 oz orange juice
2 oz pineapple juice
1 oz fresh lemon juice
1 dash lemon bitters

Then slowly pour a splash of grenadine syrup over the drink, top with a sliced orange or pineapple and a cherry and serve!  

  • Enjoy!!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Fog Cutter --  this one is a striking, but simple summer sweater that's just perfect for a cool day at the beach.  And it was just a bit foggy the day we decided to visit, so this design got named for an all time classic/traditional Tiki drink -- A Fog Cutter!

And I know I'm asking a lot for you guys to think about knitting in June, so the Ravelry code SummerSweater will get you $1 off the pattern until this Friday, perhaps as the little nudge that a summer knit might require? 

Or maybe photos are a better nudge --

Either way, Fog Cutter is all about this beautiful and striking panel on the front. Cables, lace, and texture combine in a motif that reminds me of little waves and tiny stones, kind of undulating back and forth.  The addition of the texture in those cables creates such a great contrast, and the edging as it hits the body is nice and sharp. (and yes, it's easier than you think it would be!)

Besides the cable panel, details such as a split hem, a ribbed yoke and distinct seams draw the eye, and then the rest of the garment is all easy reverse stockinette.  Although seamed, the lines are straight and the finishing is simple.

The sweater is knit in O-Wool's beautiful Balance yarn, a mix of organic cotton and merino that's got the perfect amount of ply and crispness for a polished but casual vibe, and it shows a pattern beautifully.  I chose the Natural as I wanted a true basic piece, but I think this would work in any of her colors - and some of them even have a little heather, which would be stunning.  (Agate, Igneous, and Jade - I'm looking at you guys....)

Gabriella is wearing my sweater with about 5" of ease and a high hip length, but this is easy to modify for depth or width and notes are included in the pattern.  I suggest about 4-5" positive ease for a fit as shown.  All the details and the PDF can be found here (don't forget your SummerSweater code this week!).

And as for a Fog Cutter?  According to tiki bars everywhere and the internet, it's really all about the glassware and accessories, so have a little fun.

1.5 oz light rum
.5 oz brandy
.5 oz gin
1 oz orange juice
3 tbs lemon juice
1.5 tsps of orgeat
1 tsp sweet sherry (amontillado works great)

Shake all ingredients except the sherry with ice in a shaker.  Strain over ice into a tall glass and then top with the sherry!  And then add your choice of umbrella, stirrer, slice of fruit, feathers or whatever's handy...

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Introducing Honey Vodka!

You all know how much I love Jill Draper's Mohonk yarn, which I used in my Edradour design.  It's light and airy and rustic and soft and I really do reach for it ALL WINTER LONG.

So when Jill texted me to say she was working on a fingering weight version of Mohonk, and would I want to play with a couple of skeins....?   Why, yes I would.  I totally jumped on the chance to design a summer accessory that I'd reach for just as much.  Something open and airy that would add just a little warmth to a summer night or cloudy day....

I like my summer knitting to be pretty easygoing, so I went with a cowl (as opposed to a shawl) for a little less knitting, a lighter garment, and more importantly - some immediate gratification.  Honey Vodka takes just one skein of Mohonk Light, and knits up in no time.

I chose a simple, bold lace motif with stockinette "ribs" that would show off the subtle texture and color shifts in the yarn.  It's one of those patterns that gets in your head easily and it makes for some soothing, satisfying porch knitting.  It's easy to modify for length or width, and I've added notes on how to do so in the pattern.

I've also made sure that if you want to alter your cowl, you don't have to worry about ending on a specific row.  Before finishing up, you switch to a smaller section of accent lace and ribbing, and can knit to your desired length as needed.  I used only one skein for my cowl, but I do think this would be a lovely 2-skein project and could wrap double around your neck or be worn nice and long.

I chose this beautiful neutral shade, which Jill called Sand.  It matches pretty much everything in my summer wardrobe of tee shirts and faded denim and feels just so effortlessly summery to me.

However, you know Jill dyed up a whole rainbow of gorgeous shades that you can choose from - check them out here:

The pattern is up on Ravelry for $6.00 right HERE and will be on the blog as well!

I hope you guys like this one and can spend a few leisurely hours knitting away on your porch soon.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Because two patterns in one week are always better than one, right?

You may have noticed the gorgeous, colorful images popping up everywhere for Pompom Quarterly's 5th Anniversary Issue.  I've loved this magazine from the beginning - every issue has felt so bright and fresh and charming, just like the lovely people behind it.

I have been lucky enough to work with them before - I had a tunic named Olivette  in a previous issue and I've been interviewed on the Pomcast - and to be honest, I will work with Pompom again pretty much anytime, anywhere.

So when I got an email earlier this year asking if I'd be willing to design for this special issue, I was absolutely honored to say yes!!  My shawl design is only one of 16 stunning creations in this thing - which is full all kinds of projects from a group of fantastic designers, covering the spectrum from sweaters to socks and from complex to quite simple.

I was pinged to add a shawl, and decided to do a big rectangular wrap - something bold and lacy.  The final product reminded me of a Spanish Flamenco dancer, and I imagined one of those gatherings with musicians and a dancer flipping her skirt about, so I've gone with Sevilla as my celebratory drink name.

And yes, since this is supposed to be a party issue, I do have a cocktail recipe - with two versions!
I'm a fan of the frothy, so I prefer No. 2.

Sevilla No. 1 

Pour equal parts dark rum and sweet vermouth.
Add 1 twist orange peel.

Stir well with ice and strain into glass.

Sevilla No. 2

Pour equal parts dark rum and port.
Add 1 egg white.
Add a half teaspoon powdered sugar.
I also like to add a touch of lemon juice to keep this one from getting too sweet.

Shake well in jigger with ice and strain into glass.

And since these guys don't do anything halfway, stay tuned for more info on Pomfest - the big birthday celebration in London this July. It's going to be a great weekend, with yarn shop knit nights, a big party, a marketplace, and a whole lineup of crafty speakers and designers from the issue (such as myself) doing things throughout the weekend...

I'm thinking some kind of cocktail/knitting chat.  We are looking into if I'm allowed to share ;)

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Remember when I lost myself in some Malabrigo Twist this winter?  (if not, see this post)

I had bought some beautiful yarn, found a satisfying texture, and was trying to just find my mojo again - without the pressure of being a knitwear designer.

Well, the sweater I knit did what I needed it to - it gave me some wonderful, stress-free knitting time. And when it was all finished, instead of just wearing it, you know I went straight to writing it up and turning that non-work into some professional knitting once more, so here's Oaxacan Rose. 

But I'm glad I did - because this combination of some gorgeous yarn (Malabrigo Twist, which you can find tons of -- like 22 colors of - at WEBS) and some soothing texture is something everyone needs once in a while.  And the resulting sweater is one of those garments you kind of LOVE wearing.  It's easy and soft and goes with almost anything.

I don't usually design simple basics - and for that reason alone, I often avoid vareigated yarns.  But I've got to tell you, I am in love with this Twist.  It's soft, round, gorgeous fiber and watching the colors shift on my needles was mesmerizing.  The combination of gray and lavender and gold here in Zinc made me so incredibly happy.  And, I found that a little texture and some simple details were enough to keep me totally enthralled.

Oaxacan Rose is a wear-everywhere pullover - what my friend Erin calls a "sweatshirt sweater".  A cable, some detail at the seam, and a couple of other small bits keep the knitting interesting and the final garment polished.

I hope you all like it!  More details and the test knits can be found on Ravelry here, and the sweater is also listed on the pullover page of the blog for $7.00. As always, there are notes and commentary in the PDF about how to modify this for your shape if desired, and you can find me on Ravelry if you need any advice about sizing and yarn choices or as you knit....

If you do decide to cast on, know that the KAL is still going on in my BabyCocktails group - and finishing by May 15 doesn't matter.  If you want to join in for camraderie and prizes and chatter, just add your project and your voice to the thread!!

As for the drink, it's one of my favorites -  I can't take credit.  They make it at Deep Ellum, a spot right near the Cradles to Crayons warehouse I volunteer at each Wednesday.  I don't know the exact recipe but it's a combination of mezcal, grapefruit liquor, lemon, grapefruit juice, and peychaud's bitters.  And it's fantastic.