Monthly Archives: July 2012

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.

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Random Monday

I went camping this weekend. It was wonderful! Relaxing, hiking, eating, sitting around the campfire, hanging out with friends, and generally unplugging. I turned my phone off Friday night on our way over and didn’t look at the internet again until Sunday. The great thing about spending two nights out is that I really feel like I had a vacation. The down side is it’s like coming back to the real world after vacation.

Also, I took zero pictures. So we’ll have a random post instead.

1) If you also like camping, the VT Knit Camp is coming right up. Not sure if we still have space but you could contact our organizer and find out.

2) I’m increasingly dreaming of changing in my battered old travel mug for a knitted mason jar cozy and a cuppow. I think this idea is silly and awesome all at the same time.

Obviously it’d be a narrow mouthed cuppow so the jar would still fit in my car’s cup holder.

3) I think my corn will survive! The ears are putting out tassels now. The truth will come out eventuall.

4) I’ve picked almost two bushels of green beans in the last 9 days. I need to find time to blanch and freeze them.

It’s hard to keep up with the garden AND go camping.

5) I knit an entire hat this weekend. No, I can’t show it to you any time soon. Sorry.

6) The little meat birds aren’t so little any more. I need to take more pictures of them.

7) While hiking we met a black lab EVEN MORE CRAZY than Jake. I assumed he was a puppy. But no, like Jake he’s also 6.

That’s 6 years, not 6 months. I suddenly feel better about Jake’s crazy energy levels.

8) This is one of the very few times I wish we had more TV options. Anyone know of a good way to stream the Olympics?

9) Rhinebeck is in 12 weeks. Twitter alerted me. I figure it’s only fair to pass on the information.

10) Don’t forget you could win some buttons this week!

11) I may have just talked myself into buying yarn for a Roam tunic. Because OF COURSE I have time to randomly knit a sweater. Maybe in time for Rhinebeck?

caramelized jam

I made caramel apricot jam! But let’s be clear here, I didn’t do it on purpose. Nope, what I did was salvage a victory from the jaws of badly-burned-sugar-defeat.

It all started with a pint of apricot seconds at a farm stand over the weekend. Monday I chopped them up finely, mixed them equal parts with sugar and a dash of cinnamon, and left them to sit in the fridge.

I’d learned from __ about making jam in two parts. Doing all the prep work one night and all the cooking work the second night seemed to me like a good way to break up canning projects over a series of week nights.

So the next step was to cook the jam, and can it. should be fairly easy right? I knew I didn’t want pectin in this jam, I was just going to cook it down slowly and make a few small jars of concentrated deliciousness. I put the fruit and sugar mix in a pot on the stove, set it to medium high. This was just to get everything warmed up, I swear I was going to turn it down and let it simmer for awhile. But then I go distracted. I honestly don’t know if it was 20 or 45 minutes later when Neil asked what was on the stove.

The sugar and fruit at the bottom of the pan was starting to blacken, but when I stirred it I realized the rest of the jam had a gorgeous caramel color and a perfect texture.

caramelized apricot jam

So I’m left with 3/4’s of a pint of AMAZING caramelized apricot jam. But I don’t think I can recommend the “forgetting about things on the stove” technique. And I don’t know if I could ever recreate this jam…

who’s got the button?

Have you seen any JHB buttons?

pileobuttons

These guys make some pretty good buttons! I got a collection of them at TNNA in my designer dinner bag. They’re also the makers of most of the buttons I get at the craft store in Burlington*.

Generally when I’ve got a finished sweater I want a nicer set of buttons than those boring plastic ones – but not buttons that are going to cost me $4 each. One thing to keep an eye out for when you’re looking at craft store buttons is making sure they’ll work with knitted fabric. Generally this means larger button holes or shank style buttons like these blue ones:

2setsbuttons

And I wanted to pass these two sets of buttons on to you! So I’ve picked them because they look like they’ll be good for knitted sweaters (or hats, or mitts, whatever you like that needs a set of buttons)

There are 6 of each color. And I’m willing to mail them off to anyone in the continental US** Just leave a comment here telling me: which is your favorite pattern with buttons? I’ll choose two winners next wednesday (August 1st) at 5pm est.

*including the see-through ones I used on Trout River.
**Sorry, but I mailed tape measures internationally and that cost more than I’d expected.

even in australia

Yesterday was one of THOSE days. Things just didn’t go as planned. We needed to go pick up a dresser from a friends’ house. They’re moving and need to be out by the end of the month. There was a thunderstorm rolling in, but we looked at the clock, looked at the sky, and decided we could make it before the storm hit.

No such luck. We ended up BOLTING from our car to the house through the hail and whipping winds. We took the dresser apart (it has a mirror/shelf piece on top) and down the tight stairwell as the storm roared outside. Luckily (?) the storm had shifted to just steady rain and occasional thunder as we carried the dresser to the car.

It fit in the car, but just barely, and the tailgate didn’t quite shut. Neil tried to give it just a little shove- and the corner of the dresser shattered the rear window.

So now we’re driving home through the tail end of the storm listening to rain and broken safety glass patter down into the car, and the new dresser.

We got home to discover the power was out. We cleaned up the broken glass as best we could. Got the dresser (still full of glass, Neil will vacuum it out today) inside and covered the tailgate of the car with a shower curtain. We had cold leftovers for dinner (and a much needed beer)

2012-07-24_06-20-32_690.jpg

Today I woke up to find my corn took a beating in the storm too. I don’t think anything is uprooted. I think the squash and beans supported the stalks a little. I’m hopeful that I can stake them upright again.

Everyone has terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days, even in vermont…

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.

something special

My family has had some very good news recently! My sister is pregnant, due in December. The way I see it, a december baby is going to need a lot of woolen things to keep warm, right? Right! We don’t know if she’s having a boy or a girl yet, so I figured I’d start with a baby blanket.

I bought a handful of patterns for this blanket before deciding on a course of action. I’ve had my eye on the Serenity blanket for ages. But I decided I wanted something a little less boldly patterned.

Then I got the Cushy Cocoon Layette pattern. I was convinced it was perfect for a december baby for about 48 hours. But then I remembered I wanted a classic baby blanket for this first project. Also, I decided I didn’t have the right yarn in my stash…

Next I bought the Growing Flowers pattern, it’s been designed to work as either a shawl or a baby blanket. I haven’t got a good reason for why I decided against this one.

Honestly, each of these projects was perfect in my mind when I chose it. But in the end it came down to this: I think I needed to design something myself. I can’t explain why, that’s just what my brain is demanding!

blanket

So the yarn is Valley Yarns Valley superwash. It’s a giant 500 yard skein of creamy white superwash merino. The pattern, so far, is a simple square using the same pattern as the one in the body panel of my Glorious Morning shawl* Once the square is finished I plan on working some kind of a knitted on border. I haven’t decided what yet, but the way this project is going I’ll probably try 4 or 5 different options before I settle on one!

*You might think that after knitting a shawl’s worth of that stitch I’d be done with it. But apparently not…