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Monthly Archives: March 2013

Rip it.

IMG_8362I have been talking about and plotting a “My Original Design” colorwork sweater for close to a year now. I got serious late last year when my friend Kathy gave me a skein of gorgeous purply/pinky/grey handspun BFL/silk which naturally needed to be highlighted in a garment.

I had JUST the idea.

Poetry in Stitches is a gorgeous collection of colorwork sweaters by Solveig Hisdal. I went gaga over the sweaters when this book first came out in 2000 and have purchased yarn to make two of the sweaters (with one that has been on the needles since then — this is a WIP I get to ignore talking about since I have an even older colorwork WIP I can lament about — but that is another story).

IMG_1556I figured…Why not take some of the flowers that are in that book and highlight the hanspun in a peony or a rose?

Sounds pretty simple, right? After some minor manipulations for stitch count to account for my sweater, I had the pattern all set and a chart created in Excel. And, since I had taken a Top-Down Yoke sweater construction class @ Vogue Knitting Live this year, I would make this top down to sort of kill multiple birds with one stone. I had an approximate “look” of the sweater worked out, and did the calculations for knitting the sweater.

IMG_1463All GREAT on paper.

I cast on, and was chugging along on the sweater. I had the top, plain part of the sweater knitted. I HATED IT. It didn’t feel right, and I felt that the shoulders seemed a bit big. Did I care?

This is the point at which I should have ripped this sweater out, taken some serious measurements and started over.

Did I? Nope. I went on. I finished knitting the yoke, and divided for the sleeves. As I was about to start the colorwork portion of the sweater (I had already knit about 500 yards at this point), I started thinking about how I was going to “fix” this size issue. That is definitely a big red flag — if you are thinking about how you’re going to maybe throw the sweater in the dryer to shrink it a little,or thinking about where you are going to add shaping darts to shrink the garment that is sitting on your lap — it is time to have a serious look at the sweater.

I tried it on again, and decided that it was at least 1.5″ too wide at the shoulders. Part of the issue, I will admit, is that the cross chest measurement that I took on myself was off by at least 3/4 of an inch as I have learned recently, at a “Fit to Flatter” class taught by Amy Herzog.

Honestly? There was only one thing left to do. Rip rip. Start over. It is the one beauty of knitting. You can always start over.

IMG_8850I feel much better now. And, to make it easier on my psyche, I’ve re-started the sweater bottom up, with the intention of knitting the sleeves from the top down using short rows. It’s almost as if I have a different project on the needles.

IMG_1557So, when in doubt….RIP IT!

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I have a confession to make. I love watching DVDs of Julia Child shows as I’m falling asleep. I find her voice strangely comforting. This may explain my food dreams, but that is another story.

I was watching Baking with Julia…the quick breads episode with Marion Cunningham. I was obsessed with how Marion Cunningham mixed practically EVERYTHING with her hands. I had Irish Soda Bread firmly embedded in my brain.

Irish soda bread, in my mind, is the ultimate quick bread. Simple ingredients, the bread leavened by the CO2 bubbles created by the baking soda reacting with the acid in the buttermilk.

The only debate, then, is whether you make Irish Soda Bread plain, or with “stuff” in it. For me, as I dislike caraway seeds (and anything that tastes of black licorice, for that matter, blech), the question is….with or without raisins? I usually do with, unless it is a part of a St. Patrick’s Day corned beef and cabbage boiled dinner.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Irish Soda Bread (Adapted from Baking with Julia and other recipes from the web)

  • 4  to 4.25 cups flour (depending on the humidity of your location or the day)
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 3/4 cups buttermilk (or in my case, 7 tbsp of Saco Buttermilk blend)

IMG_8749(The original recipe in Baking with Julia only has flour, baking soda, salt and buttermilk. The addition of butter and egg make for a richer dough. If you omit the egg, up the buttermilk to 2 cups)

Preheat oven to 400°. Make sure the oven is well heated before starting the mixing process — as soon as the liquid is added, the leavening process will begin.

Whisk together 4 cups of flour, the sugar, salt, and baking soda into a large mixing bowl. If you are using Saco, blend the powder in at this point.

Work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal, then add in the raisins.

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Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add beaten egg and buttermilk  (or water) to well and mix in until dough is too stiff to stir. Dust hands with a little flour, then gently knead dough in the bowl just long enough to form a rough ball. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a round loaf. The dough will be a little sticky — STOP as soon as the shape is formed — work dough  just enough so the dough just barely comes together.

IMG_8756Transfer dough onto a baking sheet (it will flatten out a bit in the pan or on the baking sheet). Using a  knife, score top of dough about an inch and a half deep in an “X” shape. Bake bread until golden and bottom sounds hollow when tapped, about 35-45 minutes.

Cool and serve.

I’ve always loved mohair — it is a strange love since I’m usually not attracted to fluffy and lacy things. (My excuse is “it’s so warm” but really, I honestly think it’s the fluffy that I love.)

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My addiction to kidsilk lace went up a notch early last fall when I knit BooKnits’ Almost Autumn in French Market Fibers Mohair Lace in Spanish Moss.

To be honest, I did it because I wanted to knit this shawl on large needles. I really didn’t expect the resulting mound of fluffy loveliness. This shawl sort of sits around the shoulders like spun sugar. It’s incredibly pretty.

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Earlier this year, you saw me tap my mohair lace stash again to knit Heavenly by Romi Hill out of French Market Fibers Mohair Lace in Brandymilk Punch. Knitting this shawl made me go on a total mohair buying bender, and I grew my mohair lace collection by adding several yummy selections from Hedgehog Fibres (and did I ever) and Neighborhood Fiber Co.

It wasn’t going to take long for me to dive into that mound of mohair to come up with a selection for a shawl.

One of the colorways in kidsilk lace that I purchased from Hedgehog, Tremble, needed to be made into the latest Romi Hill Pins & Lace Club pattern, Winter’s Moon.

The club yarn for this design was a more sheepy yarn (and don’t get me wrong, I love what Brooke from Sincere Sheep does and her Equity Fingering is absolutely gorgeous), but I thought the design with the double yarn over mesh at the top ending in a set of chevrons (which were screaming to be beaded — so I obliged) was just perfect for some mohair action.

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Just look at how subtly variegated this yarn is. I used square glass beads in “oil slick”, which I thought mirrored the yarn color.

Here’s the latest addition to my mohair shawl collection!

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Trust me. Everyone needs a cloud of gorgeous mohair to wrap around themselves!