Saturday, September 24, 2016

Brooklyn Tweed Sweater, Scarf Accessory, and a Frontier Style Breakfast!

I have long admired the beautiful designs of Brooklyn Tweed which embody the rugged American frontier lifestyle. Jared Flood and the designs he curates under the Brooklyn Tweed brand are both classic and functional.  And it was time I knit a Brooklyn Tweed design.

But I had sworn off knitting sweaters because I don't wear them often enough to justify the time and expense that goes into making them.  But then I had an epiphany.  It wasn't sweaters per se that were not functional in my wardrobe but rather it was my dressy sweaters that never got worn.

So I decided to knit myself a practical sweater to wear in the fall and winter months when the mornings and evenings are cool and often downright cold.  I wanted something that I could pull on in the mornings when I like to sit outside and enjoy my morning coffee or that I could slip into for my late afternoon hike with Simcha.  Something without fuss or bother in a neutral color.

It took a lot of searching before I settled on this design.  I already knew I wanted to use Shelter a worsted weight yarn manufactured by Brooklyn Tweed, but picking the pattern was more time consuming.  I finally settled on the Little Waves Sweater which is actually a unisex sweater (although there is different waist shaping for each sex).  I liked the long sleeves, the pockets, the cool textured design, and the button up front.

The finished sweater came out exactly perfect for what I wanted.  My thoughts on the yarn, Shelter, are a little more complex.  Shelter is described on the Brooklyn Tweed website as "an artisanal woolen-spun yarn made from the fiber of Targhee-Columbia sheep grown in the American West.  This yarn has been meticulously crafted to suit the needs of the passionate handknitter."  That might be true but for someone like me who knits a lot shawls and socks with merino wool it's a rough feeling wool to work with.  For that reason I actually wasn't too happy while knitting this sweater.  But then I tried the sweater on. Gone was the pain just that.  Similar to the pain of childbirth (so I'm told) it was forgotten and all I had left in my heart was love for this yarn and sweater.

It's hard to describe the feeling I had when I tried on the sweater.  The best I can do is say it was like pulling on a hug. The loftiness of the wool creates a light fabric but it's a thick worsted wool and somehow that comes together to imbue a feeling of warmth and coziness. So the bottom line is that I will definitely  knit another sweater using Shelter and I can understand all the love there is out there for this yarn.  It is however an outer wear wool in my opinion.

Particulars:  Little Wave Sweater designed by Gudrun Johnson (author of The Shetland Trader); Design is from Wool People Vol. 6 (a collection of designs curated by Brooklyn Tweed); US 8 circular needles;  9 skeins Shelter (100% American Wool grown in Wyoming) colorway Truffle Hunt.  I knit the smallest size and my only modification was to downsize the sleeves for a more fitted look.  I used slightly more yarn that the pattern indicates so I would suggest buying an extra skein just to be safe.  For tips on how to knit a sweater with a perfect fix see my post Knitting a Sweater and Tips to Achieve a Perfect Fit.   I bought the yarn over the phone as my LYS does not carry this yarn.  I found the staff at Churchmouse Yarns and Teas very helpful in picking a color.  The buttons are handmade from walnut wood and I purchased them on Etsy from Wooden Buttons Galore.  This is a well written pattern and a perfect fitting sweater.

N.B.  I lightened the last 2 pictures so you can better see the pattern detail of the sweater.  The colorway Truffle Hunt is a lovely rich brownish grey with blue flecks.

Scarf Accessory ~

I also knit the scarf that I'm wearing in these pictures. It's knit in a fingering weight yarn with beads added.  If I'm going to add beads to a project I like them to show up otherwise it's not worth the time and bother of adding them. The bead I used are oblong shaped with a pretty rainbow yellow color and they catch the light beautifully.  The soft yellow color of this scarf makes a perfect early fall accessory.

Particulars: Shallows Scarf designed by Bonnie Sennot (author of the blog Blue Peninsula); US 4 needles; 1 skein 200 Herriot (464 yrd) hand-dyed by Skeins in the Stack (Etsy vendor) in Chamomile colorway (I purchased this kit).  I purchased the beads from Earth Treasures Gems (on Etsy) and I used 16 grams Miyuki Long Magatama beads which is more than the pattern calls for because I used more yarn and knit a longer scarf.  This was an easy and enjoyable pattern to knit.

Frontier Style Breakfast ~

In the fall it's nice to start the day with a hearty breakfast.  After all it is the most important meal of the day!  I usually have a slice of my homemade bread with oatmeal but when the days turn cooler I like a stack of pancakes.  You could go for the decadent cake like pancakes that I like to indulge in a couple of times a year (I use this recipe Old Fashioned Pancakes).  But for everyday pancakes it's more prudent to choose buckwheat pancakes and I love the mix made by Kodiak Cakes.  Kodiak Cakes's box tells the story how flapjacks (i.e. buckwheat pancakes) were the hearty mainstay of frontiersmen from the fridged Yukon to the High Sierras.  These rugged mountain-men and homesteaders apparently relied on the rich, substantial taste of these flapjacks which contained a powerful source of carbohydrates, protein and fiber, with every little fat. You simply add water to the mix and I like to top them with local honey, fruit and granola.  For the picture I used butter and maple syrup, but that's not how I typically eat them.  The griddle should be very hot and I spray it lightly with olive oil.  Perfect every time.    

As much as I have a fondness for the frontier and pioneers I'll admit that my perception of the frontier has been influenced by Disneyland's Frontierland and it's Country Bear's Jamboree (remember I was a child when I first saw this).  I still love those rocking bears.  But I understand in reality the frontiersmen and pioneers had a very difficult life. In fact, if I had been a pioneer on one of the wagon trains I'm sure I would have been buried along the trail. Probably the first week out.  And everyone would have missed my cooking.

Finally to accompany your frontier breakfast you need a delicious cup of coffee.  This morning I'm drinking Irish Cream a flavored coffee by Christopher Bean Coffee. Love the aroma and smooth taste of this coffee.

Until next time be well, love well and enjoy fall and all the wonderful colors, flavor and foods of the season and especially the hearty breakfasts!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies

I know I promised a Fall project this post but work has been hectic and one must be flexible in life. While I catch my breath I've opted for a quick post with a classic shortbread cookie recipe with a bit of a twist by adding chocolate chips.  By way of background my maternal grandmother was Scottish and my grandfather was English so it's no surprise that I was raised drinking copious amounts of tea and munching lots of cookies.  With all the sweets that I've consumed it's really astonishing that I still have my own teeth.  Which is neither here nor there.  My point is that one of my favorite childhood treats at teatime was a simple classic shortbread cookie for which I have at last found a recipe.

It hasn't been as easy as you might think to find such a recipe.  Over the years I've tried several but never achieved a nice dry short cookie similar to the shortbread I had growing up.  Until I came across a recipe in Victoria Magazine (I love all their issues) that finally had what I was searching for.  Except, being an American, I of course had to add something to take the cookies up a notch as all American cookies are loaded with ingredients.  I also eliminated some nontraditional spices they had added.  This way I was able to honor tradition and still have a cookie to satisfy my American tastes.  I hope you will enjoy these cookies which are particularly nice on a cool afternoon with a hot cup of tea.  And I'm speaking of an English style tea.  If you haven't a favorite black tea I recommend Taylors of Harrogate, Yorkshire Gold which I love with a splash of milk.  For tips on brewing an English tea (as gleaned from my mum who was born and raised in England) I refer you to a post that I think you'll enjoy Put the Kettle on It's Tea Time.  Without further ado, the recipe.

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookie Recipe, adapted from Scottish Shortbread Cookie recipe, Bliss Victoria Magazine (September 2013).


1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup soft light brown sugar (firmly packed)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup bittersweet premium (large) chips or chopped bar chocolate.  I use Ghirardelli chocolate.


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper.

2.  Beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla extract until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Scrap bowl often.

3.  Combined the flour and salt and then add to butter mixture.  On slow speed add the flour until mix comes together as a dough.  Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board (add very little flour to your dough during the kneading) and knead for approximately 5 minutes.  Do not rush the kneading process as it's the long kneading period that gives these cookies a wonderful short texture.  After the dough has been kneaded add the chocolate chips and fold in several times to combine evenly.  Using a rolling pin (or the palm of your hands) flatted dough into a disk approximately 1/2 inch thick.  Use a 2.5" biscuit cutter to cut out cookies or simply slice into traditional rectangular shape.

4.  Bake cookies for approximately 15 to 20 minutes (depending on thickness) until slightly golden in color.

5.  Optional toppings.  While still warm sprinkle with demerara sugar or after completely cool you can drizzle with warm bittersweet chocolate.  But be warned the chocolate topping only looks best the day they are made and won't last as well, although they are deliciously decadent.

Nibble nibble.  Store in a cool dry container for a day or two or freeze.

Incidentally, the Emma Bridgewater mug pictured above was a gift from my sweet sister who brought it for me all the way from England.  I love how perfect it is for Fall and use it every morning.

Until next time be well and love well and ready or not it's time to revel in autumnal splendor.  Fall doesn't technically arrive until September 22, 2016 but I couldn't resist an early pumpkin that I delightedly dragged home.  "It looks like it has leprosy" Steve observed adding he wants his pumpkin to be a plain orange one.  To each their own I say!  What will your pumpkin look like?