Saturday, April 22, 2017

Botan Shawlette and Spring Sugar Cookies!

This was such a fun and fast shawl to knit!  It's Botan designed by Helen Stewart and it's my new Spring-y Shawlette for the season.  I'm always super pleased when I find a quintessential seasonal piece and this couldn't be more perfect for Spring.

While this is an asymmetrical design I've blocked it to more a traditional scarf shaping (long and slender) because I find asymmetrical designs can be slightly awkward to style and wear.  Maybe if I had more panashe that wouldn't be the case.  In any event I wanted it long so I could throw it over my shoulder or let the ends curl down in front.  In other words I prefer a more traditional shaped scarf. But because I really liked the bits and bobbles of this design I simply modified it slightly and wallah I had a more traditional scarf shape but with all the cool design funk.  And I still have the option to wear it bib style, should I wish.  For your visualization if I had knit this as designed the length would have been 40" (instead of 58") and the wedge would have been 16" deep (instead of 11"). Ponder those dimensions and you'll see why they gave me pause and perhaps they will give you pause too.  If you are interested my modification is explained below.  But do so at your own risk. Wearing long scarfs does have its hazards and you don't want to end up like Isadora Duncan!

I love how well these colors worked together even though they are different bases and from different dyers. The main color is a much loved light soft tonal colorway with soft speckles throughout handdyed in Germany by Baerenwolle; and for my contrasting color I used an unloved Ysolda 2016 club yarn dyed in the Isle of Sky by Shilasdair.  It's a funny thing about Ysolda's club.  The first year (2015) I absolutely loved each and every yarn and pattern.  But still.  The club yarns and patterns from 2016 just didn't resonated with me.  I think the difference might be that in 2015 her club yarns were unique and exclusive to the club members and the designs were not released to the public for a whole year which made the club projects something special.  But that changed in 2016.   In 2016 neither the yarn nor the pattern were exclusive to club members and both were available for purchase after 6 months.  Being part of the club no longer felt so "special" and out the window flew my incentive to be a club member.  After all it makes more sense to wait and see if you like the yarn and pattern before you purchase.  So while I did join again in 2016 it fell flat with me. Maybe because I viewed each project with a critical eye "i.e. would I have purchased this project if not a club member?" Obviously with that mind set I did not renew in 2017.  But I must be alone in this view because her 2017 club sold out faster than ever.  Go figure! In any event it wasn't a total loss because slowly I am incorporating my 2016 yarns into various projects and indeed I have another of the 2016 yarns on my the needles now.  Caveat Emptor.  It's always good to remember that while clubs are fun they do sometimes disappoint.

In the end it doesn't matter how or why these yarns were paired together.  All that matters is that they were a perfect pairing!  Note to self: a true "maker" sees the creative possibilities in every skein of yarn.  Tisk tisk on me.

Particulars:  Botan (Ravelry Pattern Link) designed by Helen Stewart (blogs as Curious Handmade); 1 skein Baerenwolle BAREfoot Sock (437 yrd) Club Colorway: Morning Mist; 1 skein Shilasdair 3ply sock yarn Ysolda 2016 Club Colorway Briar Rose.  To see a summary of Ysolda's 2015 club yarns and patterns see Lunna Voe post which includes a collage of all 2015 club projects.

Vis-a-vis this pattern I modified it to eliminate the I-cord both on the working edge and the BO edge. The working edge creates a mock I-cord but after knitting several rows I realized there wasn't enough flexibility and give to that edging to stretch and block well.  So I ripped back and started over using a simple slip stitch edging, i.e. I slipped the first stitch and knit 2 stitches and placed a Stitch Marker.  On the wrong side row I simply knit all 3 edging stitches.  For the BO I used a classic lift-off method, ie. knit 2 stitches and lift the first stitch over the 1st and continue to lift each subsequent stitch off the needle.  My blocked dimensions are 58" long (vs 40" long as designed) x 11" (vs 15 3/4 " deep).  I did not block for depth and could easily have blocked it much wider and may do so next time I wash it just for comparison.

Vis-a-vis Shilasdair yarn it is dyed using natural dyeing with Cochineal and Logwood and I had to run it through several cold water rinses to remove excess dye.  This is a practice I always follow when I knit projects mixing dark colors yarns with light.  For more tips on knitting projects incorporating multicolored skeins see my post Multi Colored Shawls and Testing Yarn for Color Fastness.

Spring-y Sugar Cookies 

Easter and Passover crossed paths this year so I began Spring baking early so that I could gobble down a few treats before Passover (which lasts 8 days) and celebrated on Easter with yummy chocolate instead of my usual baked treats.  But these cookies were so delicious they shouldn't (and for me won't) be confined just to Easter.

This Spring I've had a strong taste for sugar cookies but not the small thin hard variety that are the traditional Christmas fare. Instead I wanted the large thick soft type you see in bakeries.  So I searched out a new recipe and was very very happy with the result!  In fact this will be my future "go to" recipe even for Christmas cookies!

For the frosting I used the same frosting that I use with my Easter Sweet Buns which makes the perfect quantity.  I've shared it again below.

While these cookies aren't as thick and as large as bakery cookies they are a nice size, soft and delicious.  Try one. Or two. Or three.....  and I think you will agree.

Soft Sugar Cookies
yield ~ approximately 16 large cookies

3/4 cup unsalted butter (softened)
1 cup sugar (I use super fine baker's sugar by CH)
2 eggs
1/4 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt


1.  Cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs 1 at a time and mix slowly until well incorporated.  Stir in vanilla.

2.  Combine pastry flour, baking powder and salt.  Using a wooden spoon add flour mixture to butter mixture and stir just until combined.

3.  Flatten dough into a disk and wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 1/2 hours.

4.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees at least 20 minutes before rolling out dough.  Cover baking tray with with either parchment paper or silpat.

5.  On a lightly floured board roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness and cut into large shapes. Work quickly as this dough softens quickly.  You may need to periodically sprinkle dough with flour to prevent sticking.  Place cookies well apart as they will spread during baking.

6.  Bake 8 to 10 minutes until cookie is slightly firm to touch but not browned.  Leave on tray for half a minute before transferring to wire rack for cooling.

7.  When completely cool frost with Lemon Butter Cream Frosting!

Recipe slightly adapted from Charmie's Soft Sugar Cookies.

Lemon Butter Cream Frosting ~

1 1/2 cups sifted confectionery sugar
1/2 cup sweet butter (room temperature)
1 tsp lemon extract or lemon oil
1 Tbs whole milk (scant)
Pinch table salt
Green Food Coloring


1.  Beat sweet butter until light and fluffy.
2.  Add sifted confectionery sugar, lemon extract, milk (scant - you can always add a few drops more if you need it) and a pinch of salt and beat until well combined.
3.  Add a couple drops of green food coloring to desired intensity.
3.  Using a table knife frost cookies generously after they have cooled to room temperature.

After the icing sets you can store either in a tin between layers of wax paper or freeze.

This lovely splash of yellow is a bloom from my garden that I'm particularly proud of as, in general, a green thumb I do not have.

Until next time be well, love well, and enjoy spring with all its glorious color, rebirth and spiritual enrichment!


Anonymous said...

Yes those two are a perfect pairing. Plus I am always a sucker for that wine color. This is a beautiful piece to me. Did you ever notice that sometimes two random balls of yarn will end up rolling next to each other and look perfect together without any effort on your part? How do they do that? Chloe

betty said...

Nice shawl! It is definitely spring-y because the baubles remind me of flower buds.

Claudia Bugh said...

Chloe I'm so glad you pointed that out! It is really important to be open to different color combinations and unless you give them a try you won't discover a magical combination. That's one reason I prefer to shop in a LYS because you can place skeins next to each other and see how they look. Like many I'm sure time and distance limitations make me primarily an on-line shopper but you've reminded me it's been too long! Happy knitting :)

Claudia Bugh said...

Hi Betty! Great catch and point about the bobbles looking like spring buds :) I think the bobbles and the picot edging were small but really impactful design features. It just goes to show you don't have to come up with anything really complex to create a fun design! Hope you are having a lovely Spring and enjoying an end to the drought.

Neulisti said...

What a lovely color combo. Feels like spring! <3

my sisters knitter said...

Oh my that is hands down the most beautiful Spring knit. You did such a beautiful job with the color combo. I am really in love and now that pattern has gone immediately into my queue.
Frosted sugar cookies are my favorite. Thank you for sharing this recipe. I agree they should not only be for Easter, they should be for everyday.