september things

It's hard to believe September is already here, isn't it? Every year, the months just seem to fly by, one quicker than the next. For me, the month of September officially marks the transition to the 'cozy' months--I'm content knowing that wool blankets, apple cider, and changing leaves are all just a few short weeks away. September also marks the beginning of our busy season at work, which we refer to as 'Peak.' It's during this time that I have to really have to consciously work to maintain a work/life/craft balance. The next twelve weeks are bound to be long and chaotically productive, so I'm really looking forward to this final, leisurely summer weekend. 

What are you up to this weekend? We're heading up to Atlantic City, NJ to spend some time relaxing poolside. I plan on casting on for my new cowl pattern on the car ride up and knitting while lounging under an umbrella.  

For those of you riding shotgun on the way to your holiday weekend adventures, here's a little #knitpiration for you to peruse:

No. 1 :: Ysolda released her lovely Inglis Mitts pattern as part of the new Wool Tribe 2016 Festival Companion book. I love the thought she puts into her designs; the way she curves the cable from cuff to thumb is a pretty flourish. Ysolda's Rose Red pattern was the very first hat I knit for myself,  way back in September of 2009. I remember being so proud of knitting lace in the round and learning how to read a knitting chart! The photo of me wearing the hat is still my Ravelry Avatar, even after all of these years... 

No 2 :: I've been doing a lot of sketching lately--my sketchbook is large and heavy and filled with swatches of wool that I've knit up over the years. It might be nice to have a few lightweight sketchbooks to throw into my knitting bag for when inspiration strikes on-the-go. I'm a long-time fan of Rifle Paper Co. products, and these Vintage Blossoms Notebooks are the perfect size for my knitting tote. [set of 2--on sale for the holiday weekend!]

No 3 :: Purl Soho's shelves are newly stocked with skeins of Sno by Woolfolk Yarn. This moody, black/green twist reminds me of the beautiful forests we drove past during our trip to Germany last September. 

Enjoy the last of the summer sun & have a safe holiday weekend!

 

swatching

Tosh Vintage swatch

This past Saturday, I had the entire house to myself, which is a very, very rare treat. Besides eating nothing but carbs  all day, I spent a considerable amount of time parked on the couch watching cheesy, made-for-TV movies and swatching my Tosh Vintage yarn. When I spotted these midnight-colored speckles on a shelf at Loop, I knew right away they wanted to come home with me.

Tosh Vintage in Optic

How perfect would they be worked into a cowl to go with my winter coat?

Madeline Tosh Vintage in Optic

This yarn is super hardy--I kept going back and forth on the stitch pattern that flanks the lace panel, and must have ripped out my knitting at least four times. The yarn held up extremely well and showed very little evidence of my woman-handling. Can we all agree that this Optic colorway is pretty amazing? I could stare at those tiny flecks of rust and aqua nestled into the fibers for hours on end. This yarn is just a delight to knit with, and, as Steven West would say, #specklesaresohotrightnow

 

the pondhopper hat

I was pretty excited to be a part of Alicia Plummer's test knit team for her latest hat pattern, Pondhopper! This was such a quick and fun knit--perfect for those last-minute holiday gifts. The combination of cables, ribbing, stockinette, and purling added just enough variety to keep things interesting for easy, evening knitting, and resulted in a rustic, woodsy-looking hat that's perfect for walks in the woods: 

The yarn is Swan's Island Organic Washable Merino DK in the (perfectly named) Eucalyptus colorway. It's crazy soft and beautifully variegated. I ordered three skeins directly from the Swan's Island website and three different dye-lots arrived in the mail. While normally this would incite panic, I decided to just roll with it. I selected the two that were the most similar in color and alternated skeins every row, carrying the strands along the back of the piece to minimize any pooling or striping in the finished knit.

Alicia's instructions were very clear--she wanted us to "...attach the biggest pom pom you can find!" to our hats, so I whipped out my Clover pom pom maker and made this fatty:

What's great about this hat is that it's the perfect knit for beginners looking to add some new skills to their repertoire. There's a little bit of everything here, and Alicia's instructions and chart make it very easy to follow along. In case you're wondering, here's a peak at the brim, unfolded:

I'm thinking of sewing the edge of the brim to the inside of the hat so that I don't have to worry about keeping it straight, and so that you see more of the hat pattern...I'm pretty sure that's how Alicia styled it in her photoshoot. Pre-blocking, I was a little scared that the hat was too small for my head, but after a nice long lavender bath, the yarn bloomed gorgeously and fits just right. I'd really, really love to knit a cardigan out of this yarn one day...

This was a fun little project and I'm glad to finally be able to share it with you! You can grab your copy of the Pondhopper Hat pattern on Ravelry for $4. Be sure to join the Pondhopper knitalong and be on the lookout for the matching fingerless mitts pattern, too! Have a great week!

Project details on Ravelry

hello, weekend!

Weekend Knitspiration 5

Is anyone else out there ready for summer to be over? There were a few mornings this week where I felt that back-to-school, fall-tinge in the air and got really excited. So much so, that I wore two cabled sweaters to work this week, which baffled some of my co-workers. Part of it's because they keep the air conditioning on so high, and part of it's because I'm hoping to wish autumn into existence... 

What's everyone up to this weekend? Now that my Berkeley class is finally over, I plan on knocking out at least four 28-row repeats of lace on my Topiary Wrap. That will bring me up to 10 completed repeats, which means there are 8 more to go before I get to the cast-off side ribbing. This thing is going to be gigantic. I also plan on swatching some of my new Tosh Vintage--there's a new cowl design in my sketchbook and want to see how the speckles look in the stitch pattern. 

Here's a little #knitspiration to get your weekend started:

No. 1 :: I've been wanting to knit Gudrun's Fidra Hat for some time now, and I think pairing the pattern with The Fibre Co.'s Arranmore yarn in Finian might result in the perfect October hat, don't you?

No. 2 :: Hunter Ammersen just released her second collection of shawls in her new book, Curls 2. There are 14 patterns total, all in the most gorgeous stitch combinations. Check out the individual designs here

No. 3 :: This time of year puts me in an organizing mood, and these wool Twig & Horn notions pouches, with their cotton muslin lining and bison leather pulls, are a little fancier than the old chocolate tin I'm currently using. Bonus: these would make excellent back-to-school pencil holders. 

No. 4 :: Since I primarily knit with circulars now, my straight needles have all but strangely disappeared. These artisan knitting needles might convince me to start growing my collection again! Hand-carved out of reclaimed apple wood branches, these beauties would look so pretty displayed in a ceramic vase, wouldn't they?

Hope your weekend's filled with lots of coffee and wool....

Photos courtesy of: Kelbourne Woolens, Pantsville Press, Quince & Co., Never Not Knitting

 

loop yarn love

loop yarn philadelphia
loop yarn philadelphia
Loop yarn philadelphia

We spent the night in Philly on Saturday for the Barbra Streisand concert (which was amazing, by the way...), so before we got back on the road to Delaware, we made a quick stop at Loop Yarn! I've been wanting to visit this local yarn shop for quite some time now, so it was nice to finally have the opportunity to check it out. Since I follow the shop on Twitter, I knew that they had the new Brooklyn Tweed Marls in stock, as well as Jared's new book, Woolens. 

The shop was bright and modern and filled with all sorts of wooly goodness and friendly people. I think I spent a good 30 minutes just walking around petting all of the skeins, which were stacked neatly along the walls in their white cubes. There were a few samples perched around the shop--including the most gorgeous Halligarth Shawl knit in Loft (shown on mannequin above)

I was impressed both with the amount of self-control I displayed, and with how patient my dear husband was with my indecisiveness. After much debate, I ended up adopting two skeins of Tosh Vintage in the Optic colorway--a creamy white base dusted with navy- and rust-colored speckles. I'm thinking about working up a cowl or shawl to go with my navy winter peacoat this winter. 

IMG_5062.jpg
tosh vintage in optic

And of course, I couldn't leave the shop without at least few skeins of the Shelter Marls in Newsprint. While my gut tells me these should be whipped into a brioche scarf, I may want to work up a swatch or two to see how the black and white twist renders in different stitch patterns. 

brooklyn tweed marls newsprint
brooklyn tweed marls newsprint
brooklyn tweed tosh vintage

If you haven't yet visited Loop, be sure to stop by their shop next time you're in town. You can also check their goods online--be sure to sign up for their Rewards program! Also, follow them on the 'Gram or Twitter for some #knitspiration. 

Have a great week, everyone!

 

have a great weekend

Alicia Plummer Hat

Summer weekends are slowly coming to a close. The boy went back to school yesterday and it's hard to believe that my little guy is now a 10th grader. In just three short years, he'll be off to school and we'll be empty nesters...it's kind of bizarre to think about. He's starting driver's ed this year, which I'm completely unprepared for--I have a hard time picturing him behind the wheel of a car, especially since I still have to remind him to close the cereal box before putting it back into the pantry. Teenagers. 

What's everyone up to this weekend? I'm so excited because the hubby and I are going to see Barbra Streisand in concert this Saturday! My parents gave me the tickets for my 40th birthday--my Dad and I are huge fans (I know, I have pretty old musical tastes), so the four of us are going to have a fun night on the town in Philadelphia. 

Other than that, I'll be finishing up my test knit for Alicia Plummer's new hat design (it's super cute!) and getting back to work on my Topiary Wrap. Also, I'd like to finally write up the pattern for a pair of socks I designed a while back and put it in my Ravelry shop. I'll be putting out a call for test knitters soon! 

Here's your weekend #knitspiration:

  • Jared Flood's book, Woolens finally came out and it looks spectacular. I want to knit everything, starting with this Fair Hills Scarf. Check out the book preview here.  
  • The Fringe and Friends Knitalong kicked off this week, and it's fun to watch everyone's progress on Instagram: #fringeandfriendskal2016. If you're interested in learning about top-down sweater construction, Karen has a ton of great tutorials on her blog, including how to incorporate a stitch pattern
  • The Fibre Co. launched their new Arranmore line of yarn inspired by Ireland's Northern Headlands. Comprised of cashmere, silk, and fine merino, this gorgeous line of tweed yarn comes in 18 colorways. Check out the collection of patterns here. (Carrowkeel by Kate Gagnon Osborn is my favorite of the bunch.) 

Have fun!

 

 

halloween cross-stitch

cross-stitch
embroidery thread
Weeks Dye Works Thread
gravestone cross-stitch

While I was waiting for my test knitting yarn to arrive, I decided to do a little work on this spooky little cross-stitch kit my sister bought for me during a trip to Eugene, OR. The hubby and I have a love for eerie, witch-y things. One of our favorite places to visit in October is Salem, MA, and this miniature gravestone reminds me of the cemeteries we've visited in the area. 

Alicia over at Posie Gets Cozy got me hooked on cross-stitch a few years ago with her Winterwoods Sampler. Like knitting, this craft is extremely meditative in its repetitive motions.  While alphabet samplers are my favorite things to stitch (I'll share my finished pieces in another post), this piece has been a fun little project. 

The fabric is Zweigart's 28 count Cashel linen, which has a really soft hand and is very reasonably priced. I prefer to use Weeks Dye Works Hand Overdyed 6-strand embroidery floss. Made of Egyptian cotton, they have the most beautiful variegated colorways, which lend a painterly effect to the finished pieces. I can't wait to hang this one up when we decorate for Halloween!

Tell me: outside of knitting, what's your favorite craft?

test knitting

swans island washable organic merino

I'm pretty excited to be a part of the test knit team for Alicia Plummer's new hat design! The pattern called for a DK weight yarn, so I knew right away that I wanted to try Swans Island Washable Wool Collection. Hand-dyed in small batches in Maine, this 100% organic merino wool is completely machine washable. Unlike traditional superwash yarns, which are stripped through a chemical process and coated with a plastic polymer that prevents felting in the washing machine, Swans Island coats their fibers in a certified organic compound using the Eco-Wash process. You get the ease of machine-washable wool without the guilty feeling. 

test swatch

Before my Sunday morning coffee was finished, I knocked out a small swatch in the larger needles, just to make sure I met the pattern gauge, which is 20 stitches x 24 rows = 4" in stockinette. I cast on 24 stitches, and knit the first two rows and the first/last two stitches of each row. This way, I had 20 stitches in between the garter border. Once I knit 24 rows, I finished off the swatch in a couple of garter rows. This gave me a nice, crisp measurement markers, both row and stitch-wise. Pre-blocking, my stitch gauge was spot on, however, my row gauge was a little short. Into the bath it went!

drying wool

Post soak, I lightly blocked the square to measurements:

Pattern gauge was met! The whole process took about half an hour from start to finish, which is pretty awesome considering how much time goes into knitting a piece. It makes me feel confident that the finished garment will fit just right. 

Alicia Plummer Hat

Off we go!

hello, friday!

tarot and coffee
tarot, knitting and coffee
Knit picks cotton yarn and tarot cards

I decided to ease into this morning with a little knitting, coffee, and a quick tarot reading. I pulled The Star, which (according to the book) means I need to focus my conscious intention so that my creative dreams can be realized...this is particularly interesting considering the week I've had! 

What's everyone up to this weekend? When I get home from work today, I'm going to stalk the mailbox for the Swan’s Island Organic Washable Wool that I ordered for a new, super-secret project! I'll also spend some time finishing up the final paper for my Berkeley class. Thankfully, this is the last class for the year! We're heading into our busy season at work, so I like to take the Fall semester off to focus on the business; I'll resume school in January once things are calmer. The good news is that I get a few extra hours back during the week to focus on my knitting...

Here are some fun things from around the web to help you kick off your weekend:

Have a great weekend!

purl soho's classic cuffed hat

My love for the Purl Soho's Classic Cuffed Hat pattern runs deep. I've probably knit about a dozen of these over the years for friends and family members and they're always a big hit. This pattern has it all: classic styling, is quick to knit, and works well with whatever stash yarn you have available. Each Christmas, I knit up a stack of these for my nieces and nephews. Sometimes pom poms are requested, and sadly, sometimes they're not, as was the case this past holiday: 

Purl Bee's Classic Cuffed Hat

I've started using less-expensive, superwash yarn when knitting these hats for little ones and tweens. Many of the hats have been left on school busses, felted in the laundry, or just plain-old lost in the black holes that are their bedrooms. I'm looking forward to the day when I can transition them to the Shelter yarns of this world! 

The great thing about this pattern is that depending on which yarn you use, you get a completely different hat. If you knit with a traditional merino wool, you end up with a sturdy hat that is excellent for blocking out the cold winter air. When you use a softer, superwash wool, the hat becomes a little slouchier and relaxed. This time around, I selected Plymouth's Worsted Merino Superwash Wool in the Slate Blue colorway (lefthand side):

Plymouth Yarn Worsted Merino Superwash

This hat is a gift for my Aunt, who is going through chemo; I wanted something that's not only super-soft against the skin, but is also easy to take care of. The fine merino worked up into the slouchiest of all the classic cuffed hats I've knit, so I might go down a needle size for both the cuff and the body next time. (Again-must. start watching.) The Plymouth Superwash is a round, bouncy yarn with a beautiful luminosity and drape. The entire time it was on my needles, I kept thinking about how perfect it would be for a baby blanket or a shawl. 

Cast on and ribbed edge

The pattern suggests using a long-tail tubular cast on, which provides a nice, stretchy edge, but the tried-and-true long-tail cast on works just fine. I've done both with equally nice results!

Purl Bee's Classic Cuffed Hat Pattern-free pattern

While I truly believe all hats are better with pom poms, I left the pom off of this one so that my Aunt can start wearing it now and not worry about feeling too "wintery". I can always send her one to fasten on once the cooler weather hits! Speaking of cooler weather, Christmas will be here before we know it—it's almost time to start requesting color selections for this year's crop of hats! 

Have a great week...

Visit Ravelry for full project details

have a great weekend.

weekend #knitspiration

What's everyone up to this weekend? We're going to drive to NJ to pick up our cuckoo clock from the repair shop and maybe catch a movie. I'm hoping to spend some quality time in my knitting room and working through a few more lace repeats on my wrap. If my math is correct, there's a mere 352 rows to go! 

To help get this weekend started, here's a little #knitspiration from around the community:

No. 1 :: I love to refresh my kitchen linens each season, and these Fringe Supply Co.'s Flour Sack Towels will look equally pretty folded neatly on the front of the kitchen stove or tossed over my shoulder while I'm washing dishes. | $16 each

No. 2 :: How pretty is this deep berry, wine-colored wool? O-Wool's O-Wash Fingering in the Juneberry colorway would make a lovely pair of socks or fingerless mitts. The best part? O-Wash uses a GOTS certified organic compound so that their yarns are machine washable. Guilt-free superwash! | $15.99 for 428 yards.

No. 3 :: Stylish and functional, Tolt's Leather Wrist Rulers are perfect for measuring projects on the go. So now when the pattern says, knit 1x1 rib for 3", simply whip off your bracelet to check your progress! | $20, Made in Portland, OR

Have a good one!

Photos courtesy of Fringe Supply Company, O-Wool, and Tolt Yarn & Wool

creamy whites

Marian Cowl by Jane Richmond
Michelle Wang Topiary Shawl
Lace cabled wrap detail

It seems as if I've been gravitating towards knitting in pale, creamy neutrals lately...there's something about this soft, vanilla ice-cream hue that has an amazingly calming effect after the long, frenetic days at work. Depending on my mood, I shift from the undemanding ease of the seed stitch on the Marian Cowl (top picture) to the more intricate cabled lace stitches on the Topiary Wrap (bottom). I reach for the first when my hands need to be occupied, the latter when I want to refocus my brain on non-work things. 

Whichever project I choose, the minute the needles start to click, I feel completely calm and untroubled—as if all is right in the world. I bet this is true for most knitters.

Aside from the meditative powers of repeating rows and rows of stitches, it makes me happy to think about the recipient of each knitted piece. I'm sure one of my teenage nieces will claim the cowl, as they so often do with the knits they find around my house. The shawl is going to be a surprise gift for my mother-in-law. Sadly, she has a wool allergy, so this cotton-blend should feel nice and soft against her skin. 

Tell me—what types of projects do you drift towards at the end of a long day? 

 

 

Emerson Farms

cowgirl creamery
cowgirl's creamery
butter pecan ice-cream
farm goat
corn field sunset
goat on a table

We live just below the canal here in Delaware, and aside from a movie theater and some restaurants, there's really not much to do around these parts on a Friday night. For date night, the hubby and I decided to stop at the local dairy farm for an ice-cream cone. Emerson Farms is just down the road from our house and they they sell the freshest, most delicious ice cream out of a little trailer right on their property, which they call Cowgirl's Creamery. The hubby got a cake batter cone, I got butter pecan, and we sat and watched the goats hang out while watching the sun set over the cornfields. We thought it was so funny that one of the goats was just relaxing on a wooden table. He was probably happy, as we were, that the hot summer sun was finally gone for the day. It was the perfect way to end a long work week. 

What's your favorite thing to do on a Friday night? Hope you have a great Monday!

weekend #knitspiration

What's everyone up to this weekend? My sister and I are taking a road trip up to Long Island for our cousin's bridal shower! We're excited to spend the night with our youngest sister, her husband, and our two little nephews. We're going to drink wine, eat pizza, and do a little swimming with the boys!

I can't decide what I want to knit on the car ride up...the Topiary shawl is way too complicated for car conversations, so I'm thinking about getting a head start on my Christmas knitting and casting on a new hat or cowl. Any pattern suggestions?

Whatever you're doing this weekend, I hope it involves some knitting! Here's a little #knitspiration curated from our little fiber community this week:

No. 1 :: In case you guys haven't heard (wink, wink), Brooklyn Tweed released three marled color ways into his worsted weight Shelter line this week. Shelter Marls comes in three gorgeous colorways: Narwhal (shown), Newsprint, and Caribou. For a limited time, Jared's offering a free copy of his new Mawson Hat pattern when you purchase 1 or 2 skeins of the new yarn!

No. 2 :: Pam Allen has done it again with her new Andromeda Sweater pattern. Part of Quince's new collection, Tern 2016, this lightweight, open cardigan is the perfect piece for layering over summer dresses as we head into the cooler weather. 

No. 3 :: Now that I've learned my swatch lesson, I think Twig & Horn's Square Gauge Ruler is in order. The clever square design will ensure I'm hitting both stitch and row gauge. Check out the #twigswatching hashtag on Instagramthe ruler makes swatches look like framed pieces of art!

No. 4 :: I'm about to start a new counted cross-stitch sampler, and Never Not Knitting's Ornate Sewing Scissors might be the perfect way to snip away all of those tiny threads.

Have a lovely weekend! 

Photos courtesy of Brooklyn Tweed, Quince & Co., Twig & Horn, Never Not Knitting

 

simple stitches.

A Treasury of Knitting Patterns swatching

I was pretty excited this past week when my new book, Barbara G. Walker's A Treasury of Knitting Patterns arrived on my doorstep. It's been in my Amazon cart for about a year now, I finally decided to check it out! The evening it arrived, I tucked myself into bed and started paging through each of the sections, making notes of the stitch patterns I wanted to try.

A Treasury of Knitting Patterns
Barbara G. Walter's A Treasury of Knitting Patterns

On Saturday morning, I grabbed a cup of coffee and some red cotton yarn from my stash, then eased into the day with a simple knit/purl stitch, the Roman Rib stitch:   

Roman Rib Stitch

I love having something simple on the needles, especially when I'm also working on something that requires a little more concentration. It's nice to have something that you can pick up, knit a few stitches or rows, then put it back down without having to remember where you are in the pattern. 

coffee and knitting

On Sunday, I decided to try something a little different, the Double Mock Ribbing stitch, this time in navy cotton. While the Roman Rib resulted in a springy fabric, the structure of this stitch pattern resulted in a very flat textile with very little give. I probably wouldn't use this stitch in a garment—it's much better suited for household items such as pillow covers, table runners, or placemats. 

Double Mock Ribbing Stitch

Here's the reverse side:

Reverse side of Double Mock Ribbing Stitch

I cast on 32 stitches for each square, knitting a few rows of garter stitch at the beginning and end of the swatch, as well as the first and last three stitches of each row. This way, these simple cotton swatches can be repurposed as dishcloths for the kitchen! 

Hope you're having a lovely week...

The Barnwood Hat

The Barnwood Hat Alicia Plummer
Barnwood Hat 2

Last weekend, my second attempt at the Barnwood Hat finally came off the needles. The first one that I knit was gigantic because I was too lazy to check gauge, so for this version, I went down to size 5 needles for the ribbing and size 7 for the lace pattern. This one fits much, much better! Lesson learned: always. check. gauge.

The pattern calls for the alternate cable cast on, which I've never done before. Now that I know how to do it, I don't think I'll ever do a long tail cast on a ribbed edge with a long tail cast on ever again! Wooly Wormhead has an easy-to-follow tutorial here. As per the instructions, after casting on my stitches, I worked the first row of the hat flat before joining in the round. The alternate cable cast on gives the hat a nice, stretchy, neatly-ribbed edge. It appears as if there's no cast on at all—as if the 1x1 rib simply manifested. Clever. 

IMG_3281.jpg
The Fibre Co. Acadia Yarn

The hat is knit in The Fibre Co.'s Acadia yarn in the Mountain Ash colorway. The fiber's a soft, drapey, DK-weight blend of merino wool, alpaca, and silk. I'm so in love with this yarn. It would be absolutely gorgeous knit into a classic crewneck sweater. The silk noil (the short fiber left over from combing wool or spinning silk) gives the yarn a slight tweed effect, adding to the rustic feel of the hat. It ever-so-slightly camouflages the leaf pattern until the hat is worn. 

knitted lace hat
knit lace hat

It's still a teeny-bit slouchy, but I think that's because my noggin's a bit small at 21". If I were to knit this for myself, I'd probably cast on for the teen version. I'm excited to pack this one up and send it out to someone very special this week!

Visit Ravelry for full project details

Have a lovely weekend.

home office

What's everyone up to this weekend? I'm looking forward to spending some creative time in my home office this weekend...pattern drafting, writing project notes on my two finished objects, and setting some long-term project goals for this little blog of mine. There's also 420 more rows of lace to knit on my Topiary wrap...

Here's a little weekend #knitspiration to start your Friday:

  1. Squam's latest Morning on the Dock podcast is all queued up for the commute home this afternoon. 
  2. The Fringe and Friends 2016 Knitalong starts on August 15th! The pattern? The Improvised Top-Down Sweater. (No patterns allowed!) I'm so tempted to join...
  3. Stephen West's Garter Squish blanket might be just the thing to clear out some of the worsted wool remnants in my stash. (Free knitting pattern)
  4. I might pair this Old Town Vodka Punch with my knitting this weekend...

Have a good one!

 

Beautyberry blanket

Purl Soho Beautyberry Blanket
Purl Soho Beautyberry Blanket 2
Purl Soho Beautyberry Blanket 3
 (Left side of photo shows the 'right side' of pattern) 
Purl Soho Beautyberry Blanket 5
Purl Soho Beautyberry Blanket - marine
Purl Soho Beautyberry Blanket 6

This chunky beauty is for my niece, age 13. Whenever she visits the house, she heads straight for the couch and my hand-knit Montauk blanket. She's been asking for a blanket of her own for months now, and the minute I saw Purl Soho's Beautyberry Blanket pattern, I knew it was the one for her. 

I really wanted to use the Gentle Giant that the pattern called for, but at $418 for the throw size, it was just a teeny bit out of my budget. After a little research, I decided on Knit Picks Tuff Puff, a lovely super bulky alternative that worked out to a very reasonable $71. 

The Tuff Puff yarn is super soft and a delight to knit with—it almost reminds me of sturdy roving. I originally started out pairing the White (color A) with the Marina (color B), a beautiful peacock green/blue. However, after knitting a few rows, I decided to swap it out with Silver—partly because I'm a neutrals kind-of-gal, but also because teenage girls' tastes quickly change and I wanted to knit something that would transition with her well I nto adulthood. (The Marina has now been set aside for this gorgeous cowl.) 

The pattern is pretty spectacular... The front side has a beautiful honeycomb effect, the creamy white stitches framing the silver yarn in tidy, geometric outlines. The stitch pattern combined with the large gauge of the yarn resulted in a warm, lofty knit that's perfect for midday nap sessions.  

Things got a little tricky when it came to picking up and knitting stitches for the attached i-cord border. I wish I had used a lighter hand when knitting the i-cord, as the edges of the blanket curled in a little bit once the ends were grafted. After a bit of gentle hand blocking, this seemed to resolve itself. 

Even though I calculated 13 skeins of white and 9 skeins of silver for yardage, I only ended up using 10 and 6 skeins, respectively. When joining new balls, I did a simple wet felt join, which eliminated the need to weave in all of those pesky ends. The yarn does develop a soft halo after extensive handling, but I think that just adds to the charm of the finished knit. 

Overall, this is a showstopper of a piece and I couldn’t be more thrilled!

Full project details on Ravelry

Summer days

farmer's market flowers
winding yarn
farmer's market flowers
garden tomatoes
caprese salad
fresh zucchini
smitten kitchen zucchini bread 1
farm fresh eggs
bird's nest fern terrain
homemade jelly
smitten kitchen zucchini bread
Alicia Plummer Barnwood Hat

The weekend was long, humid, and hot—which was perfect because it gave me an excuse to retreat into the cool, air-conditioned comfort of our little house. I was a busy-bee this weekend—furiously knitting my second attempt of the Barnwood Hat, which happily came off the needles and was promptly blocked. My in-laws came for a visit on Saturday, bearing jars of homemade blackberry and black raspberry jelly, along with two enormous zucchini from the local Amish market. I knew right away that I wanted to turn at least one of the gigantic beauties into a pan of zucchini bread, so Sunday afternoon was spent grating, squeezing, mixing and baking. If you’re looking for a good zucchini bread recipe, try Smitten Kitchen’s—I might add a splash more vanilla next time, but it’s so simple and delicious. Be sure to try it warm from the oven with a small smear of butter…just trust me on this.

While the bread was baking, we made a simple caprese salad with the most beautiful roma tomatoes and soft bocconcini. All you need to do is toss them into a bowl with good, extra virgin olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar, fresh basil, sea salt and black pepper and you have the perfect summer lunch. Vegetables are so good this time of year, aren't they? We didn’t get to plant our garden this spring, but what’s nice about our community is that it backs up to a small farm; the farmers were kind enough to set up a little produce stand right in the neighborhood. On Sunday, we stopped and bought fresh corn on the cob and a little jar of flowers for the kitchen table. We feel really lucky to have locally-grown ingredients available right in our backyard. 

I was able to get my hands a little dirty this weekend, repotting the Bird’s Nest fern we bought from Terrain two years ago. It had long outgrown its container, so we moved it into a bigger home—a pretty, red ceramic pot. She's perched in my knitting room on top of my yarn chest—her green, ruffled leaves catch the light in the most beautiful way.

Tell me—how to do spend your summer days? Also, what’s on your needles?  

Weekend #knitspiration

Hello, weekend! Do you ever have one of those work weeks where all of the small things keep piling on top of each other, keeping the real work from getting done? That's what this week felt like to me. Luckily, I have a rocking chair and knitting basket in my office, so I made a conscious effort to step away from the constant emails, office visits, and meetings and just sit and knit for half an hour each day. This mid-day fiber break really helped to clear my mind and refocus my energy, which definitely improved my afternoon productivity. I think I'll make this a daily practice...

What about you? What do you do during the week to stay sane?

To get you out of the workweek mindset, here's a little weekend #knitspiration:

No. 1 :: Twig and Horn Wood Yarn Bowls | These Maine-crafted yarn bowls are perfect for keeping your precious balls of wool from rolling off of rickety lakeside docks this summer. Available in Maple and Red Oak. 

No. 2 :: Purl Soho's Close Knit Washcloths | This is the perfect sitting-by-the-bonfire knitting pattern. Knit in Purl Soho's newest yarn, Cotton Pure, an unmercerized Pima cotton that comes in 43 gorgeous colors. Their carefully-curated yarn bundles provide enough yardage for nine washcloths! Bonus: you'll have something to wash your face with before tucking yourself into bed!

No. 3 :: Bailey Island Mitts Pattern by Kirsten Kapur | Knit with Swans Island light fingering-weight merino on teeny-tiny size 2 double pointed needles, these cabled beauties will be a welcome treat once the cool autumn days finally arrive...

Have a lovely weekend, everyone!   

p.s. Here's a New York Times article on the health benefits of knitting