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Custom Colorwork Techniques

Stephannie Tallent has a new class on Craftsy that I’m excited to share with you all! Custom Colorwork Techniques is more than just a class on fingerless mitts* – it’s a primer for designing your own mitts with your own trims, colorwork patterns, and sizes.

colorwork mitts class

Stephannie has tech edited some of my patterns, published another in her Hitch book, and is an all-around awesome designer. So when she offered to let me view the class so I could recommend it to you all I jumped on the chance! Especially since I’m also getting to share at 50% off link with you!

The class is broken up into six videos each with its own focus. This class is not for absolute beginners, Steph assumes you know how to knit, purl, increase, etc… and if you’re comfortable with some basic chart reading and math that’d be helpful too. But with lessons including a chart reading refresher and how to use either the provided worksheet handout, or build a worksheet in excel, this class will help you make perfectly beautiful AND perfectly fitted fingerless mitts.

Steph’s style of teaching is approachable and conversational. One of the things I love about Craftsy classes is that they feel much more like a one-on-one lesson with a friend than sitting in a big classroom with lots of other students. This class is perfect in that it covers everything from my favorite increases (the lifted ones are the most invisible) to my favorite gusset-style (offset thumb gussets!). And she’s even provided a charted template so you can free-form design across the whole mitt – thumb gusset too! While the excel portion was mostly review for me I love the lesson on choosing colors; including complementary colors and a couple of tricks for checking the contrast between two yarns (that’s the part that trips me up the most when I start a new colorwork design.)

The Craftsy platform is designed for hosting craft classes, and its perfect for it. I love the note-taking feature, and the ability to check your notes later without having to scroll through the video. The 30 second replay allows you to re-watch the directions for something quickly and easily. You can ask questions of the teacher and get a direct answer, or you can just review other people’s questions and the teacher’s answers to them. The integrated project pages will even let you see what your classmates are working on!

Have I piqued your interest? Here’s the link for 50% off Steph’s class! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

*Although I love mitts enough that would be fine!


(Please note that I did receive this class free for review purposes. However my opinions are my own, I won’t review something I don’t truly enjoy and think that you will like.)

Ramp season

If you’ve never heard of them – well I’m not surprised. They’re a member of the allium family (along with garlic and onions) but ramps (or ramsons) grow wild throughout much of eastern north america.

I’ve actually never foraged for ramps before this year. And I was starting to think that’s a good thing. Ramps have been in the news ’round these parts for some pretty serious over-harvesting. But we went out for an early season hike, and along with all those wildflowers I posted about, we found these guys:

ramps

And lots more where they came from. I’ve heard you shouldn’t harvest more than a third of any wild thing when you’re foraging. We harvested less than a tenth of the ramps growing on the hillside we found.

What we brought home was just the right amount for us. I’ve got two jars of refrigerator pickles steeping at the back of my fridge:

ramps for pickling

And we made a ginger beef stir fry with the remaining ramps and all the leaves. The first green harvest of the season:

ramps with ginger beef

Of course this was two weeks ago. The dandelions are blooming now, so they’re up next! And just in case you’d forgotten, my book (Cast Iron, Cast On) has two recipes for edible dandelions!

Summit vest

Hot off the press!* We have the summer 2016 issue of Interweave Knits: and I’m in it! I’m psyched to see my Summit Vest is in good company (check it out On Ravelry, where you can favorite and queue it as always)

interweave knits

When I saw the summer call included a theme for “mountain house” I just knew I had to submit. An entire story line in a summer issue about living in the mountains and needing a sweater once in a while? Sign. Me. Up. Working with the new editor, Meghan, was a pleasure and I love her eye for details. This issue is cohesive and beautiful.

interweave knits

I love this vest (easy for me to say). The cable and lace pattern is one that I’ve wanted to use in a garment forever. Integrating the ribbing with the chart took a bit of tweaking. So when you cast on follow those setup rows carefully. But once the ribbing is established it flows naturally into the charts and the body of the garment.

interweave knits

The body of the sweater switches to stockinette while the charts continue up the front and the ribbing continues at the sides to provide some stretchy fitting to the garment. The pattern keeps on going right up the hood and meets at the very crown of the head.

cable close up

This is not my first time designing with Imperial Yarns and I love their Columbia base every time I work with it. You all know I love single source yarns and sustainable family farms. This yarn is also woolly, bouncy, but still soft and squeezable. I highly recommend it!

*well, sort of – the print magazines won’t even be on the news stands until the 16th! But the patterns and the electronic version are on Interweave’s site already. Isn’t living in the future fun?

Spring flowers

After a cold and snowless winter spring in Vermont seems to be taking its sweet time to arrive. Trees still haven’t started leafing out and the grass is only just turning from brown to green. But the ephemeral flowers didn’t get the message, so at least there are a few signs of hope!

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Bloodroot – grows in moist woods and thickets – including the edge of my yard.

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Trout Lily – with mottled leaves that are supposed to look like brook trout.

Both of these grow just one seed per plant and that seed is carried away and eaten by ants! Talk about slow reproduction…

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Red Trillium – the reds always bloom first, the white and fancy will come later in spring.

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I honestly don’t know! It’s too early for strawberries and the leaves are wrong. The leaves are wrong for bloodroot too. Anybody want to guess what these little guys are??

Sad rooster

It’s been a rough couple of weeks at the Herrick Abode*. I’ll try not to dump all at once, but we’ll start with the story of our sad rooster.

You’ve all seen Chief before, he’s a gloriously red rooster.

chief roo

And he’s always been a good rooster too. Takes care to share treats with all his hens. Helps them find the best nesting nooks. Never attacks his humans. Stands up to the fox in the yard.

Oh yeah, that last part is why he’s a sad rooster these days. Apparently, we have a resident fox. We’d seen him once early this spring, but foolishly thought we’d run him off the property. But A week or two ago I came home to this

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And not just here. There were poofs of red rooster feathers all over the front acre. And a very sore, beat up looking rooster lurking around his coop. Poor guy clearly fought the fox and while he didn’t quite loose, he didn’t exactly win either. Our hens are all gone.

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He’s spend the last week recuperating. He’ll have a nasty scar on his back. But after several days of sleeping in the clean straw he’s back on his perch and I’m finally sure he’s going to pull through. He’s headed back to our friend’s house where he hatched to rejoin her flock. He’ll have some new hens to protect and care for soon.

*Inside joke. Our real estate agent calls our house an abode. I would never have thought of that one myself…

What’s cooking

Nothing. Nothing is cooking in this post, because I have a new fermentation project instead! I got some kimchi starter from my mom over Easter weekend. Kimchi, in case you’re wondering, is a fermented cabbage product similar to sauerkraut but different. (It’s an east/west thing: I think kimchi is Korean and sauerkraut German – but my food geography is fuzzy at best)

I started with the simple kimchi recipe from The Kitchn. In fact I decided to follow it very closely since this is my first try. The big change was that after I’d packed everything in the jar I added some juice from my mom’s kimchi. This is a basic microbiology principle, instead of just letting it sit and hoping the right bacteria take hold adding raw kimchi juice inoculates the cabbage mix with some bacteria that I already know make good kimchi.

I made a couple of small substitutions as well. I swapped out the daikon radish for carrots and I left out the red pepper flakes. I also took their suggestion and used seaweed flakes instead of fish sauce to add umami flavor. The author recommends this as a vegetarian alternative. I was just a little weirded out by the idea of fermented fish products.

I let the jar ferment for five days, tasting it every day. The kimchi had that fermented bite by about day 3 and the extra two days it was more a fading of the fresh cabbage flavor that I noticed. I’m sure the flavors will continue to meld in the fridge.

kimchi

Now I just need to decide what I’m doing with all this kimchi besides eating it as a side dish with the occasional sandwich. Luckily it keeps long-term in the fridge.

Maple Open House

Maple Open House weekend. A chance to drive all over Vermont, visit neighborhood sugar houses, and drink large quantities of maple syrup. Well, that was past years. Windsor doesn’t love her car seat, so more recently we’ve gone to just a couple of them. That was just as well since half the sugar makers weren’t even open. The maple season is wacky. (I mentioned that recently, didn’t I?)

sugar house

Saturday, at least, was seasonably cold, sunny, and generally perfect for maple weekend!

hello donkey

Also perfect for making friends with the donkey

horsey

And the pretty draft horses.

And I had a chance to take some scenic photos

lamp post

and some close ups

hitching post

Saturday was the right day to get outside, because Sunday was cold, rainy, and then snowy. We stayed inside, made soup, and had a lovely quiet weekend.

Still in progress

Hi, how you doing? How’s the weather where you are? Weather isn’t just a topic for small talk here, maple syrup season is big business and when we don’t have enough snow (we don’t) the trees don’t make as much sap. And when we don’t get the cold nights and warm days (we aren’t, it was 62F overnight) the sap doesn’t rise and fall the way it needs to for sugaring. In short the weather is seriously bipolar and while it doesn’t affect me personally, I can feel it in the community.

It’s also the opposite problem from the one we had back in 2013 when I was trying to arrange a photo shoot in the Sugarbush of Sterling for the Saccharum vest. These photos? With the model shivering and the snow in the background:

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They were taken the second week in April. The sap had barely begun to run, and when it finally warmed up it went too fast. I can tell you, the sugar makers of New England are not pleased with this climate change thing.

Ok, but all that was depressing enough, lets have a peak at my vest in progress to cheer us all up:

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You can barely tell, but I’m done with the tree branch chart. From here on the back is simple 2×2 ribbing which creates the canopy of the trees. I’m also ready to divide for the fronts, so I’m hoping from here it’ll be smooth sailing. Maybe I’ll have a finished vest by the end of the KAL (which is 4/8, not 4/1 – phew)

I also want to show off my button hole modification. Instead of toggles or multiple buttons I decided I wanted one big button for closure. So instead of using the leaf eyelets as they are I modified one leaf:

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Instead of a pair of YOs I worked a double yo paired with a k3tog on the row before. Then I just knit the two loops of the double YO to keep the stitch count the same. I still don’t know which of my singleton buttons I’ll be featuring. I’ll let future-Becky decide that.

FO with a pompom!

As promised, pretty finished photos of the bunny hat! As always, you can check out extra photos and favorite the project over on Ravelry.

bunny adjust

So nicknamed because the gray yarn I used for the MC is a 60% angora blend I picked up at VT Sheep and Wool festival, I think it was 2013 (I have vague memories of buying this skein while hugely pregnant.)

The additional colors are all from Sunday Knits, either her merino/angora or her merino/cashmere blend. So this hat is warm and soft, even though it’s not bulky at all. The stitch pattern incorporates regular 2-strand colorwork and some fun knit and purl patterns in the trim which help the motifs stand out.

bunny pattern

I finished the hat and had an awkward amount of leftover yarn. Not enough for another accessory. But too much to just give up on. So the pompom seemed like an obvious choice. Oh boy do those things suck up a lot of yarn! Especially when you’re making one as gloriously large as this.

bunny pompom

It’s my first real pompom so it’s not perfectly round or perfectly trimmed. I wanted a piebald effect, using the same colors as the colorwork, so I wrapped each color in separate chunks, making sure to focus mainly on the main gray with splashes of the other colors here and there. At least that part worked well and gave exactly the effect I wanted!

bunny other side

WIP roundup

Phew. It’s been ten days since I posted, don’t know how that happened. Let’s have a round up of what’s on, and off, the needles.

This bunny soft angora hat is done, complete with my first giant pompom! Actually, it was done weeks ago, I’m planning a full post for it just as soon as I get the good photos off the good camera.

Finished pompom!

After finishing that hat I cast on for a thick, cozy pair of mitts:

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Also done, except for the weaving in of the ends. And I still need to take photos. Soon my pretties, soon enough.

So what IS on the needles? I’ve got my saccharum vest. The knit along is going full steam and a couple of vests are almost done! I’m almost to the cables, and with a couple of weeks left I’m not really behind, yet.

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But we’ll see how that goes. Because I’m currently distracted by these pretty, pretty socks.

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The yarn is doing the heavy lifting on this project, drawing me in and holding me captive. But I also can’t get over the slip stitch pattern (which you can’t see here, sorry) and how perfectly it breaks up any pooling or flashing. It’s also making the fabric thicker and cozier than average. Perfect for socks.