Tag Archives: summer

Rattlin Brook

Saturday was an absolutely gorgeous day for the 30th anniversary of the Rattlin Brook Bluegrass festival.

bluegrass festival

There was music, there was food, there were friends and knitting and sunshine.

bluegrass hot mustard

bluegrass instruments

It was sunshine-y and gorgeous (did I mention that already?) and I missed sunscreening the inside of my right ankle. So beyond the nasty sunburn (and now I can make great references to my achilles heel) I have only good memories of the day.

bluegrass bass

And then, of course, it rained on sunday…

long time coming

I published a new design today, my Nymphaea shawl. This little shawl is worked from the top down. Designed specifically for self striping yarns the pattern directs you to work an eyelet row whenever the colorway changes.

nymphaea zoomed

Each shawl made from this pattern will be unique, and will perfectly match the colorways in the yarn! You can favorite and queue it on Ravelry here.

nymphaea tip

This pattern has been waiting in the wings for a looong time. Crystal Palace sent me the Sausalito yarn back when it was first released. That was 2010. I know, I know, I said it was a long time!

I knit the shawl up quickly enough, and then I thought it might be different enough for Knitty. Sadly Amy Singer couldn’t find space for it (although it was held for consideration twice!)

nymphaea arc

By then I’d moved on to other projects. I knew I wanted to release it in summer, and last summer I was kinda busy with my e-book of fingerless mitts. So the poor little shawl just kept waiting.

nymphaea gaze

This summer I knew it was time! But when my editor saw the PDF she kindly informed me that my photography had improved so much I probably shouldn’t use the original photos*. I had kept the shawl over the back of my favorite chair, where I can pull it over my shoulders any time I feel a bit cold. Before I could take any new pictures I had to wash and re-block the shawl.

nymphaea looped

Once it was washed I remembered how much I love this pattern! Nothing like a bath to spruce up a bit of knitting. Neil and I took it to nearby Metcalf pond and got some pretty new photos and I’m really excited to share this shawl with all of you!

nymphaea artsy

Nymphaea is a really simple shawl to knit up. I loved working on it when I needed a break from patterns that were draining my brain power. This small shawl uses 3 skeins of Sausalito, and you could knit a full sized shawl with 4 skeins.

*it’s a good problem to have

blackberry jam

It took over a pound of blackberries, but I did it! I made seedless* blackberry jam! Smoked cardamom blackberry jam to be exact. I broke out the Squeezo for this process. I love my squeezo** for processing tomatoes and back when my mom gave me hers she included the fine-mesh screen for berry seeds – which I’ve never used before now.

squeezo screens

There is a coarse screen too, for chunky things like squash and apples… Just like with tomatoes it worked like a charm. The fruit goes down into the corkscrew and out comes the juice and pulp

blackberry stuff

While the seeds are pressed out the far end

blackberry seeds

The waste is pure seed, no juice and no flesh. Processing 3 cups of berries gave me 2.5 cups of berry goodness and half a cup of seeds! All this, plus a half cup of whole berries went into the jam pot along with 3C of sugar and half a tablespoon of smoked cardamom.

smoked cardamom

I picked this up on a whim as part of a Penzey’s order. It’s way more intense than regular cardamom and so I’ve been struggling with the best ways to use it. Blackberry jam is so rich, sweet, and strong that it really balances well with the intensity of the smoked cardamom.

Oh! And I have to show you an awesome internet toy I’ve been using. It’s a pectin estimator on the Ball website. You just tell it what kind of fruit, choose jam or jelly, and what sort of pectin you have on hand, and the calculator spits out the list of ingredients! You still have to know how to make jam (aka, what order to mix and cook the ingredients) And it always starts with 1 and 1/3 C of fruit, which is never what I’m using. So I end up doing some math. But since I got my pectin in bulk (from the Mennonite store nearby) I’m grateful for such an easy way to figure out how much to add.

blackberry jam

And this jam is gorgeous, deep, rich purple. I’m very pleased. I think the only fruit I’m still missing from my summer is blueberries. I don’t know how much longer the pick-your-own places will be running either…

*Ok, so I went through all the work of taking the seeds out, and then added a handful of blackberries with the seeds back in. Call me crazy, but I wanted just enough seeds to be able to tell it was real.

**I am in no way affiliated with Squeezo, I just love them.

Knitting camp round up

Knitting camp was every bit as awesome as I expected. It barely even rained! There was a bit of a sprinkle friday night and an actual rain shower saturday night. I hear the people who arrived friday afternoon got pretty wet, but most of the time was dry, and sunday/monday were sunny and gorgeous! There was plenty of camping to go around:

camping mosaic
1. kettle pond, 2. fairy houses, 3. rocky shore, 4. cooking fire

Kettle Pond is a gorgeous location. The camp sites are little glens in the deep, thickness of Groton state forest, and Kettle pond is a jeweled opening in the woods.

And of course there was even more knitting:

crafting mosaic
1. knitting basket, 2. white knitting, 3. red crochet, 4. gray cables

I should say “crafting” because along with the knitting we had some crocheting and a girl who makes nifty bags and wallets and roses out of the prettiest duct tape you’ve ever seen (one of them was paisley patterned!)

Several husbands and families came to knit-camp this year and that was wonderful too! They were all very helpful and had fun exploring the woods, and didn’t detract from the knitting retreat at all. Having camp run for 3 days means us knitters can go for a hike, a swim, maybe paddle around the pond in a boat and not feel like we’re running out of knitting time either.

I got quite a bit of knitting done, although I didn’t finish ANY of the projects I brought along. Roam has a completed back piece, the baby blanket is half-finished, and I’m almost done with a new sock design. More details to come later I promise.

If you think knitting camp sounds like fun, check out the web site, there’s also a yahoo group where the dates and sign-up process are announced every year. I’d love to meet new friends next year!

a few of my favorite things

Just in case you were worried about my ability to sleep (ok, you weren’t, I know) It dropped to 52F last night. This is why most VT houses don’t have AC… And it seems like a good reason to count my blessings, so here are a few of my favorite things – the summer edition!

tall sunflowers
sunflowers taller than me

nasturtiums
Hidden jewels

scarlet runner beans
Showy jewels

corn and beans
Corn and beans co-existing

a single plum
A single plum (on the whole tree)

hops
Home grown hops

strawberry peach
Summer jams (strawberry peach, in the jars and NOT caramelized!)

wildflowers
Successful wildflower plantings

Hyssop re-release

I’m excited to announce that (after quite a break) my Hyssop pattern is again available to the public! It’s been on Ravelry for awhile, but in case you want to favorite or queue it, here’s the link.

hyssop main

Hyssop is a unique, feminine little top I designed for Sanguine Gryphon back when they released their first line of patterns. However when they split and became two companies all the patterns reverted back to the designer’s control.

While the original yarn is long gone there are plenty of light fingering yarns with good drape. I think this top would be beautiful in Knit Pick’s Gloss yarn, or you could try The Woolen Rabbit’s Pandora, which is exactly the same blend as the original yarn.

This is one of the tricky things about publishing patterns through other companies. What happens if that company goes away? Who controls the rights to publish the pattern? I’m very careful to only publish designs with companies where the answer to that question is spelled out in advance. So at least I never lose my designs entirely.

hyssop sleeve detail

Of course that doesn’t mean it’s easy when this happens. The lovely folks at SG offer to sell me the rights to use their photos. But since I have my own style and my own way of doing things I decided to do this the hard way and re-take the photos. Luckily I still had the original samples (designers don’t always retain their samples)

hyssop through the arch

Sadly, SG closed their doors last winter. And winter wasn’t really the right season for these garments. So I waited, and waited, and waited some more. Earlier this summer I found a warm sunny day and asked my neighbors if I could use their garden for a photo shoot. I took pictures for this top, and the skirt I also had published through SG*.

hyssop detail

But even just re-taking the photos wasn’t the end. I was lucky to have the rights to the tech-edited version of this pattern (again, not something that’s given in every contract) but I needed to re-do the layout so it fits with all my other patterns.

Hyssop preview

You may have noticed something by this point: re-releasing a pattern is almost as much work as the initial release! Other than the math and knitting all that pattern work needs to be done all over again.

hyssop back view

But I’ve finally done it! And in time for the last month of summer. Since this top is inspired by the short, sweet, intense days that are summer in Vermont I’m offering a quick sale. This pattern is normally $7, but between now and the end of the day you can purchase this pattern for $5. Just enter the code “sweetsummer” when you check out for your $2 off.

(This discount is only applicable to Hyssop, and will end at midnight EDT.)

*Still on hold, I still need to do all the pattern layout for it.

signs of summer

I went to an ice cream social at a friend’s place this weekend. Complete with home made ice cream! In four flavors even: chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and mint chocolate chip.

ice cream

I had to try a little of each (obviously). There was also whipped cream and caramel sauce (also home made)

sunday

What can I say? My friends know how to eat well! There was a pretty good spread of deliciousness besides the ice cream too:

snacks

I made peach clafoutis. I think it went over pretty well, all I brought home was the empty pie plate…

Along with good food there was bocci, swimming in the creek, chatting on the shady porch. And music! Really good fiddle and mandolin music.

musicians

Oh yes, and some dancing

star

Dancing with swords. Just for good measure. Maybe that’s not part of everyone’s summer. But I rather like it!

dispatches from the garden

Today I’m reporting from the garden (well metaphorically anyway) where harvest season seems to be kicking in a bit early!

First off, I’ve picked a quart of blackberries in the last two days:

A pint every evening today and yesterday (don’t ask how fast I’m eating them) Along with the big juicy ones and the seedier, sweeter ones (I think these are domestic and wild, is that right?) I also still have raspberries and black raspberries out there.

And the beans are coming in FAST. I have three kinds! (wanna do a taste test?) I’ve got green beans (haricots verts according to the seed package) yellow wax beans, and dragon langerie beans (or lingerie which is how I like to refer to them: “Yes, those are my dragon underwear beans”)

On a side note, if you’re like me, you occasionally read those articles about how humans don’t eat the same variety of plants that we did 150 years ago. I think this has less to do with weird plants that we don’t eat anymore (although I bet you can’t find kohlrabi at the normal grocery store) I think it has more to do with there being one, maaaybe 2, kinds of beans at the store. Which is funny since I have FOUR in my garden. And they really all do taste different.

And while we’re talking about variety. I have two kinds of lettuce:

Red leafy and green leafy. Neither form heads. Both are so delicate we couldn’t even get them through the CSA. They have to be picked fresh and eaten straight away. (I find I can store them in the fridge for 2-3 days if I don’t wash them first) They’re amazingly delicious too!

And I harvested my garlic. I think. At least I hope I got most of it.

There’s a slight problem though. I’ve come to realize that while planting corn over garlic works pretty well, and planting corn as part of a three-sisters garden works great – this does not mean you should plant a three-sisters garden over garlic. Because the squash plants TAKE OVER. And they’re mean, they will cut you. I got more scratches trying to dive between the squash, beans, and corn to pull garlic than I did picking blackberries. Seriously.

I’m pretty sure I missed some. I think I harvested 20 bulbs, and I would’ve said I had more plants than that. But I just couldn’t find any more down under all those spiky squash leaves. I felt a little bit like the creature from the squash lagoon coming up for air by the end of it.

Another important thing to note. If you plant summer squash this way. Make sure they’re on the edge of the patch. There are patty-pans in there that I’m going to have to go diving for in a week. Hopefully my current scratches will have healed by then…

vanilla cherry jelly

For the first half of the summer my garden produces things like spinach and lettuce which don’t freeze very well (and peas, which I won’t eat after they’ve been frozen, so I might as well eat fresh)

So until the green beans and broccoli are ready most of what I preserve is fruit: jams, jellies, and frozen rhubarb.*

This vanilla cherry jelly was inspired by my friend’s champagne rose jelly. I’m not going to say it’s even close to as amazing, but it’s still a great jelly, one I’ll make again (maybe the champagne rose jelly is setting the bar a little high)

vanilla cherry jelly

Ingredients
1/2 pint of cherries, pitted and chopped up to less than 1/2 inch bits
1/8t clove powder
1t vanilla extract
1 bottle (750 ml) apple or other sweet fruit wine
2T lemon juice
1 packet of pectin
3C sugar

For my jelly I used a bottle of home made apple pomegranate wine. Apparently I went through a phase where I added too much sugar to my wine at bottling. Sometimes sweetening it back a little is nice, these are way over done so they’re like a super-sweet ice wine – but it’s just extra table sugar… Anyway I figured they’d be perfect for making jelly! Since you probably don’t have a bottle of my home-made wine at your house look for a sweet apple wine, or try some other fruit wine. Sweet is fine, but make sure that it has a flavor you still like. Some of those commercial fruit wines don’t taste good at all…

vanilla cherry jelly 3

Clean your jars and lids first! This recipe makes 5 half-pints of jelly. I always wash an extra little jar just in case, but this time I didn’t use it.
Pour the wine into a large pot, add the lemon juice, vanilla, clove powder, and pectin.
Bring the whole mess to a boil.
Dump in the cherries and when it start to boil hard measure one full minute. I didn’t want the cherries to cook to mush, that’s why they went in last.
Add the sugar and STIR! (this is the part where it foams a lot)
When it comes back to a boil measure 2.5 minutes more.
Ladle the hot jelly into the clean jars, put the lids on and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. I was careful to make sure some of the chopped cherries went into each jar.

Once the 10 minutes are up take them out and let them cool on the counter. This jelly did not set as quickly as some of the ones I’ve made in the past. This was frustrating to me because I was trying to get the cherry bits to be suspended throughout but they kept floating to the top. I think if you check on the jelly to keep track of how it’s setting up you should be able to give each jar a swirl just as the jelly is the consistency of molasses and you’ll get the suspended cherry bits.

vanilla cherry jelly 2

*Rhubarb is technically a veggie not a fruit. But everyone treats it as a fruit, so there.

cardigan story

I’ve released another pattern! Let me introduce my Lime Sorbet cardi:

lime sorbet buttoned

As always you can favorite and queue it on Ravelry or see more details and buy the pattern here.

This cardigan came about as a result of a specific request. I met Karin of Periwinkle Sheep last fall at the VT Sheep and Wool festival. She was looking for someone to design with her yarns, and you all know how I love supporting other local fiber artists! She sent me some of her new merino sport yarn with a directive to “play” and a request for some sort of a garment.

lime sorbet back view

Like many other knitters I love merino yarns, they’re so soft! And I love superwash yarns, because they’re so easy to care for. However as a designer I also know that superwash merino can be tricky, especially for garments. But this isn’t problem as long as I keep it in mind. So my goal, when designing with this yarn, became to design something that would highlight the yarn.

lime sorbet unbuttoned direct

This cardigan is fitted, I’m wearing it in the photo with about half an inch of ease. Positive ease in a cardigan keeps the button band from gaping. But the fitted measurements across the shoulders and in the sleeves, as well as the length of the body, all keep the superwash in check. It’s fitted so the garment doesn’t become to baggy if the yarn grows as it’s worn. Also the yarn twist is wonderful with tightly coiled plies, so it’s sprongy and bouncy and less prone to bagginess than other superwash yarns might be. The design is simple, with carefully planned little details, which allow the yarn to shine through.

lime sorbet cuff and hem detail

The color is bright, playful, spunky, and perky. I have lots of adjectives for this sweater, but none of them are demure. This is a design for biking along the beach, chasing fireflies, climbing trees, all sorts of summer activities when it might be a little cool (not that it’s cool at all right now) I love this Avocado green but was hard pressed to choose just one color. I think it’d look equally good in the others. What about her purple Craving? Would that make it a grape sorbet cardi?

lime sorbet moody sky

*yes, that’s a word, I’m sure of it.