Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas and New Year's Wishes

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas with the people they love most, and a happy and healthy 2012!

My Christmas vacation found me doubly-sick (first a head cold, then a stomach virus), but I survived that and the flight back to Michigan despite the best efforts of a small prop plane and Westchester County Airport.  

P and I are now busy working on our old master-bedroom, which is soon to be a kick-ass suite (attached full bathroom) that is sure to attract visitors. My sister may be the first beneficiary of its loveliness if she makes it to Michigan in February.  

I am putting together my list of creative resolutions for 2012, and can't wait to share them.  Hope you are looking forward to a productive and creative New Year as well!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ten on Tuesday: 10 Hostess Gift Ideas

Another great Ten on Tuesday from Carole!  I love reading everyone's great ideas, so here are my ten.

It has been a while since I needed to think about Hostess Gifts, but here are some of my old favorites and new ideas to bring to parties and get-togethers.  Some of these ideas are better for some personalities than others, but I have found that over the years you will gravitate towards the people who enjoy the gift you like to give anyway. You can tell I spend a lot of time at my local Antique Mall.

1. For the localvore: Artesan cheeses.  A small selection of little locally made cheeses in a basket. I have also been known to include a vintage cheese knife and plane and vintage kitchen linens.

2. For the cook: A small set of flavored olive oils.  Most of my friends love to cook, and it is fun to give something a little luxurious that they might not buy for themselves. (Also given with vintage kitchen linens)

3. For the mom: A sugar cookie set. A mason jar with dry ingredients, pre-measured, and some vintage cookie cutters.  This is a fun hostess gift for my friends that have kids in the 4-10 age group.  Sometimes I also include a few rolls of Lifesavers candy with instructions on how to make Stained Glass cookies. Vintage kitchen linens with something fun embroidered on them - like the kitten or elf days of the week.

4. For the Guy: Nuts in the shell with a vintage nutcracker set.  Or a small bottle of good whiskey. Or a mixed pack of artisan beer. Sometimes I have girlfriends who get the Guy gift because that fits their personality really well.  Sometimes I can find them good vintage coasters as well.

5. For the animal lover: A small birdfeeder and seeds, sometimes a few ears of dried corn as well, all nicely presented in a basket. Sometimes homegrown cat-nip, or dog-biscuits if they have pets at home.

6. For the sweet tooth: Local honey on the comb. Nothing looks so inviting as a jar of honey comb. I usually present this with a honey dipper.

7. For the baker: A bread set. A mason jar with dry ingredients, recipe with the wet ingredients, a nice bread basket and VINTAGE KITCHEN LINENS.

8. For the gardener: Handmade soaps with tray and wooden nail brush and pumice stone.

9. For the beach dweller: Homemade Limoncello. Even though this is often served in ceramic cups, I like giving mismatched etched barware, especially old-fashions - you can see the beautiful color of the limoncello. Also curious to try Cherry Bounce, but I have never made it before, and I am terrified that cherry liqueur would just taste like medicine.

10. For anyone: A nice bottle of champagne.  My favorite to give is Veuve Clicquot because it is incredibly good champagne, and it has either the beautiful saffron-colored label, or comes in a saffron box. SO classy. Especially good around the holidays as the hostess can save it for New Year's! Yes, it is expensive. So only my favorite hostesses get this, and quite possibly, one of the above as well!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Inspiration Notebook 7

Blues & Oranges

Georgia O'Keefe Black Mesa Landscape, New Mexico 1930
Georgia O'Keefe Museum

Friday, December 9, 2011

I have no business....

...swatching.  But at least I have enough yarn in my stash for the entire project.  And I am totally digging on the wooly-wool.  I am using Elemental Affects, Rowan Scottish Tweed, Rowan Yorkshire Tweed, and Jamieson & Smith on US 3 needles.

Colorwork is a wonderful antidote for super simple and mindless stockinette.  There is something incredibly soothing about working with odd numbers.  The rhythm is natural and flowing.  This swatch was to verify my color choices rather than checking my gauge.  I find that I can only check my gauge for colorwork when working in the round.  I am not sure if the lack of purling really changes my gauge; I think it is more likely the fact that I knit colorwork with both hands.  Since I naturally knit English, my continental gauge is significantly looser.  In the above swatch I was working the brown color with my right hand and the contrast color with my left.

So I did my provisional cast-on, knit the brim lining, knit my turning row, worked the colorwork brim, unzipped the cast-on, and worked the two live edges together. So in a few inches I will know if I am using the right needle!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Stumpejakke tease

Swatch and new-to-me book.
A quieter than normal Saturday morning at the shop let me look through several books that I had seen come in, but hadn't actually flipped through.  Lots of lovely books - some of which are now on my wishlist for Christmas (because Alice Starmore can never be denied).  But a simple sweater caught my eye, and I was determined to swatch for it - substituting yarn, of course. The pattern is by Marianne Isager, a favorite of mine although I haven't yet knit one of her designs.  It can be found in Tutto a Mano put out by the Isager Company.  I was initially enthusiastic about the book because it has a few patterns by Grace Anna Farrow and I always love her aesthetic. But lately my queue on Ravelry has been stacking up patterns by Ms. Isager, and the pattern labeled 'Short Jacket' also joined the list. 

On Ravelry you can find the Short Jacket under the name Stumpejakke from its previous release in Danish when it was in Strik a la Carte I.  As you can see, the pattern looks really very easy.  I believe there is only a minimum amount of shaping, and I love the play of what appears to be simple ribbing contrasted by the simple garter stitch of the shawl-ish collar and sleeves.  When I checked the gauge though, I found this: 

Average of 20 sts and 44 rows = 4" x 4" on US 4 in combination of brioche st and garter st.

Intriguing, I thought. Brioche, and an unusual swatch!  Earlier this summer I saw my boss working on a Marianne Isager pattern from the Classic Knits collection (and I promptly queued a t-shirt from there as well, because you know.... C H E V R O N S) and her gauge swatch was the weirdest thing I had seen because it was actually shaped.  Not a 4 x 4 inch (or larger) square, but a funny pointy thing that actually resembled the pattern.  And sure enough, the Stumpejakke has actual directions for how to make a gauge swatch for this project.

I picked up the little remnant ball of Mountain Meadows Cody I had leftover from my Rustic Oak Grove Mitts and cast on.  Later that evening I was done.  Half the swatch was in garter, half the swatch was in brioche, and wouldn't you know, I got gauge on US 4s. The results can be seen above.   There was one problem, however.

Since starting my yarn diet at the beginning of November, I can honestly say the only regret I have faced so far is that I don't have a sweater's worth of Mountain Meadows Cody in my stash.