Sunday, October 29, 2017

Two Color Shawls and Fall Crafting ~

These days I'm addicted to knitting two color shawls.  And if you are going to be addicted to anything that is a good thing.  Right?  I love that two color shawls have a modern look, are a nice size, and the shaping is often long and flowy.  Which makes them perfect for wrapping around your neck as a voluptuous scarf or draped over your shoulder for a dramatic look.  And those happen to be a very wearable looks for me.  Perhaps if I lived in Iceland I would be more interested in knitting Lopi Sweaters but I don't.  Not that I have anything against lopi sweaters. Parenthetically my first large project was a lopi sweater.  It was gorgeous but impossibly warm and ended up tossed in the rubbish bin.  I'm a much more pragmatic knitter these days.

Because not everyone can afford or wants to buy yarn as a kit for a two color shawl project I thought I would share a few tips that I use for buying yarn that will work well together.  As a preface I purchase almost all my yarn online (there isn't a yarn shop convenient to where I live) and I also love the work of indie dyers so these tips are primarily geared toward the online shopper.

First, while it is not that exciting a purchase, you need to invest in a few skeins in solid or lightly speckled colors that are not designated for any particular project.  These skeins don't have to be in a traditional neutral color such as grey or black it can be any shade of solid color, although neons are in my experience hard to work with.  Once you have a few solid colors you can then shop for speckles and variegated yarns from indie dyers and you will be surprised how many gorgeous and unexpected combinations you can create this way.

The other tip is to be aware of what you are buying.  Not all fingering weight yarn is created equal.  You want to match a plied yarn with another plied yarn (versus yarn singles).  You also want to match the yardage as closely as possible (fingering weight skeins can vary anywhere from 400 yrds up to 500 yrds per skein).  More closely matched yardage will help achieve a more evenly weighted shawl, although some variation in yardage won't be too noticeable.  And lastly you want to pay attention to the composition of the yarn as a highly twisted sturdy wool yarn (more suited to socks) paired with a cashmere blend yarn (more suited to shawls) won't create as pleasing a fabric.

Once you have a couple of solid colored skeins of yarn you simply have to take the plunge and buy that gorgeous skein of yarn you have been eying and wait for serendipity to take hold!  In the worse case scenario and you really don't think a skein of yarn will work with any of your solids then designate it for a pair of socks or consider its potential for a brioche pattern!  In any event this is how I go about buying my yarn online and incorporating yarns from various vendors.  And this is exactly the method that I used to come up with the yarn combination used in this shawl.

Particulars:  Pure Joy designed by Joji locatelli (website Joji Knits); US 6 needles; 1 skein Plucky Knitter, Snug Fingering (for The Love of Scum colorway: Strange Brew - 100g/389 yrds) and 1 skein Qing Fiber, BFL high twist (Shusui colorway - 100g/400 yrds).  This is a wonderful pattern and I made no modifications whatsoever.  As an aside Plucky Knitter is my favorite vendor for solid colored skeins.  Previous patterns that I've knit using Plucky Knitter yarn include my Stripe Study Shawl, Kelmscott Socks, and Breaking Bad shawl.


I want to quickly share this cute softie that I made using a kit sold by Posie Gets Cozy.  It's all hand sewn using wool felt and fabric scraps and it's a nice finished size at 13.5 inches tall.  I really love it and the only change I made was to use a different fabric for the inside of my rabbit's ears.  There's something that speaks to me about hand made toys and mostly I've knit them over the years but this wool felt rabbit came out so beautifully I might have to make another!

Like most knitters I enjoy and am drawn to a variety of crafts but today there is such a huge amount of DIY project ideas and inspiration on Pinterest and other social outlets it can be daunting trying to find project ideas without becoming overwhelmed by choices and to know which ones really are worth spending the time and effort on.  It's for this reason that Jodie founder of Crafty Like Granny has launched a new website that sorts through the fodder and highlights various knitting and crafting projects for you.  They have also complied a list of their top 100 knitting blogs which they have graciously included me on.  This blog list does not appear to be as focused on commercially oriented bloggers as some of the other lists of knitting bloggers that I've seen.  Which I like because those are the blogs that I enjoy reading.  Go have fun checking out their blog list for new bloggers or old favorites and be sure to also visit their list of Thanksgiving knitting and crafting inspiration!


Because it's Socktober I couldn't let the month end without slipping in a pair of socks.  These were a super easy and fun knit and best of all the pattern is free!  I used the Easy Peasy Socks pattern designed by Nadine Tobish (blogs as Schibot Garne); 1 skein Makers Haven, Simple Sock (colorway The World is My Canvas) and US 1 needles.  My only modification, if you will, was to substitute my Colorbock Sock pattern for overall sock construction, i.e., for cuffs, heel and toe shaping and and I simply used the Easy Peasy Sock design for the pattern effect.

Until next time be well and love well and as the days shorten and the holidays approach enjoy quiet moments of relaxation as you craft and bake for your family and loved ones!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Solstice Cardigan and Honey Roasted Pecans!

This is my "Rhinebeck" sweater.  Snicker.  Yeah, I know that I'm not going to Rhinebeck but I'm still calling it my Rhinebeck sweater.  To explain, if you are a knitter then you've probably heard of the fabulous  extravaganza of sheep and wool called Nys Sheep and Wool Festival that takes place late October in Rhinebeck, New York (commonly known as "Rhinebeck").  In any event it's the mecca for knitters and over the years it's become quite "the thing" to wear a new handknit sweater to the event called your Rhinebeck sweater. I wish I was going to this or any yarnie event.  But I'm not nor am I ever likely too.  Because apparently I'm waiting for one to come to Topanga, California.  I suspect I'll be waiting a long time.  But I can still have a "Rhinebeck" (sic. fall) sweater and you can too.

Over the years I've knit a number of sweaters, some pullovers, some short sleeve, and a few cardigans and hands down my cardigans get the most wear and enjoyment.   I've found that my sweet spot for sweaters are the chunky cozy sweaters that are squishy and make you feel warm and toasty and impervious to the cold.  Just like this one.  It's an aran weight a a little heavier than any others I've knit but that's what makes it a great outer layer sweater.

To be honest while this sweater was on the needles I had begun to worry that I had made a mistake in selecting this pattern.  It felt and looked like a boring blob of yarn that I was lugging about.  But I persevered.  In for a penny in for a pound I always say.  And I had bought the yarn to go with this pattern so there must have been something about the project that had spoken to me.  And of course once the sweater came together I knew why I had chosen it.  It has wonderful texturing going on and has a quaint vintage style that is easy to wear and will be perfect for running errands or simply to hang out sipping a steaming cup of coffee.  Did I mention it feels fabulous on?

If you read this blog then you know I'm partial to knitting shawls and accessories.  After all I live in a very warm climate (southern california) so I don't have a lot of  cold weather to justify knitting too many sweaters but we do get some cool and down right cold days November through January so it's nice to have a new sweater in the fall.  I'm glad that I picked this one for 2017.

Particulars:  Solstice Cardigan by Cecily MacDonald; 6 skeins Quince & Co., Osprey (lupine colorway); US 10 1/2 circular needles. This is a wonderfully written and easy to follow pattern, although I did find the “faux” cable (running down the shoulder and sleeves) confusing at first. I think the instructions would have been cleared if stated as follows:
Row 3: Sl 4 wyb droppping all yo’s. Using the point of LH needle pass the first 2 stitches over the second 2 stitches LEAVING THESE STITCHES ON THE LEFT HAND NEEDLE. Transfer the 2 remaining stitches on the right needle to the left needle. Now that your stitches are crossed knit them in this order.
Hopefully this will help someone else also confused by the faux cable instructions.  Other than that the pattern is very easy to follow.  There are optional pockets that I skipped and I did tack down the collar to prevent it riding up.

If you are interested in cardigans (versus pullover sweaters) previous posts with a cardigan include Little Waves, Flo, Cabled Riding Jacket, Bud, Exquisite Cardigan, and Rowena.

Honey Roasted Pecans!

Some say that I'm a nutty person so it shouldn't be a surprise that I enjoy eating nuts.  I use them a lot in my baking and I also eat a fair amount raw but my favorite nuts are those that have been roasted.  As fall is a time to celebrate the harvest gathering for winter I thought this would be the perfect time to share a favorite recipe for roasted nuts.

This is a recipe for roasted pecans and before getting into the nitty gritty of the recipe it's important to clarify the type of pecans to use.  For baking no question I always use elliot pecans because of the wonderful flavor they add to baked goods. Over the years I've purchased elliot pecans from Sunnyland Farms (wonderful quality, but their prices have gotten pretty high) so this year I purchased my pecans from Pearson Farms and I am very happy with their quality too.  Incidentally pecans freeze extremely well so don't worry about the quantity of nuts you purchase. But for this recipe I like to use the variety of pecans that you generally find in a grocery store and Costco carries them at a very good price which is handy because this recipe is very addictive and you can go through a lot of pecans!  Honey roasted pecans are wonderful tossed in a salad (try them in my holiday salad!), added to a bowl of popcorn, chopped up and sprinkled on top of oatmeal, or simply by the handful.  There are endless ways to enjoy them!  Oh, and before I forget, packaged prettily they make great hostess gifts too.

Honey Roasted Pecans
~ yield ~ 4 cups

4 cups pecan halves
3 Tbs. honey (I like a warm flavored honey and use Trader Joe's Turkish Honey)
2 tsp. sugar, divided
3/4 tsp. curry powder
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. coarse kosher salt

Pan preparation:
Aluminum Foil
Non-Stick cooking spray (I use pure olive oil)


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a roasting pan with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

2.  Add pecans to a large mixing bowl and drizzle with honey.  Mix well to coat all pecans.

3.  Evenly distribute pecans on prepared roasting pan.  If you see any nuts that somehow aren't covered well with honey drizzle them with a dollop of additional honey before sprinkling tops of pecans with 1 tsp. sugar (do not stir).  Roast for 10 minutes.

4.  Remove pecans from oven and stir well.  Sprinkle top of pecans with remaining 1 tsp. sugar, 3/4 tsp. curry powder and 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon. Roast for 2 minutes more.  Total roasting time is 12 minutes.

5.  Remove pecans from oven and allow to cool 10 minutes in the pan before transferring to non-stick parchment paper or silpat to finish cooling.  I transfer the nuts while still warm because I find that when I leave them to cool completely on the foil they have a tendency to stick to the foil.

6.  Once the pecans have cooled sprinkle them with 1/2 tsp. coarse kosher salt.

7.  Store in an airtight container.

Adapted from Southern Celebration's Spicy Honey Glazed Pecans.

Although it has nothing to do with pecans I had to share this picture of Steve and Simcha because it captured my heart.  It's taken on a Friday night as they prepare for Shabbat which for the Jewish religion is on Saturday.  Simcha loves to keep Steve company as he studies and he's also a big fan of his guitar playing too.  As am I naturally!

Until next time be well, love well and have fun picking out your Halloween pumpkin! And for those of you lucky enough to be going to Rhinebeck, or any fiber festival have a wonderful time and take lots and lots of pictures!!!