Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Off the Needles: Antrorse

Pattern: Antrorse by Shannon Cook
Yarn: Shepherd's Wool Worsted Weight in SeaBreeze
Needles: Addi Clicks 6 & 7 - 32" Circulars
Well ya'll, I did it! I adjusted the pattern so I could use the yarn and needles that I wanted to use. Thank you Elizabeth Zimmerman for encouraging knitters like me to follow my gauge!
I am so thrilled with the results! I had to stop here and there to do some calculations, which slowed me down, but this was still a fast (and super fun) knit! I love that Shannon designed this with the chevron panel running down the center. Not only does it keep this simple knit interesting, but I love the end result! I also think the garter stitch frames this sweater perfectly. I did choose to work my hem and cuffs on a smaller needle, so that I wouldn't have too much added width around my hips and wrists. 
 I am so excited that the weather here in Michigan has cooled down, so I don't even have to wait to wear this! I am in love with the tunic length, and nothing beats Shepherd's Wool for total squishy comfort!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Knitter's Dilemma

I have a dilemma. The kind that makes your brain feel all mushy and overworked. The kind where your husband has been chatting away to you for the past 20 minutes, with you none the wiser, as you sit staring blankly at a spot of dust on the floor, willing your poor brain to contract. To use its muscles to find the answer.  After hours of this, still no decisions have (can) be made.

So I ignore that little voice in my head. The one telling me - you won't wear this if it's too bulky; this doesn't seem to be the right size; knitting this much bulk on these size needles is making your hands and arms ache; and all of this is sucking the fun out of this knit. Worry worry worry. Blah blah blah. I soldier on. I double up the yarn so I can get the correct gauge. I knit knit knit. Worry worry worry. Doubt doubt doubt.

In just 4 days, I powered thru the body of the sweater. More out of worry than excitement. You see, I really love this pattern. And I really really really want it to result in one of those sweaters you could live in during the colder months. I've tried it on a half dozen times trying to decide if it looked okay. Asking the hubs- making him feel the fabric. Is it too thick? Does it feel to heavy? Do I look like I've gained 10 pounds when I try it on? (No dear! You look great! Wow, you've really shed all that baby weight!- oh sweet sweet husband!) ;)

Now, here I sit. Only two little sleeves to go. But I know deep down, I'm not gonna knit those sleeves. I can already tell they will be too big (boy do I loathe a baggy sleeve- why is that??) My hands tense at the thought of having to pick up those thick needles and the too thick yarn.

And really it is my fault. I've know from the start that this just isn't the right yarn for the project as it is written. This project calls for an Aran weight yarn. Yet I am trying to use a very light weight worsted. Why am I doing this? Because the color would be so perfect! And the squishiness! And I can just really picture the finished sweater and the cute leggings I just bought that would go so perfectly.  To get anywhere near the correct gauge I would have to use a much larger needle, resulting in a floppy, airy drape to the fabric that just isn't "right" for this sweater. This sweater needs some structure. I've already made the mistake of knitting with this yarn on inappropriate needles.

I've been knitting long enough to know what I like and what I don't. So where does this leave me? Sitting staring at a pattern I love, and yarn I love, and knowing I have three options:

1. Finish the sweater, telling myself I will wear it and love it (but knowing deep down I will end up giving it away to the first person who shows true interest.)

2. Attempt to justify buying different yarn, that is more appropriate for this project, and save my cherished SeaBreeze Shepherd's Wool for a different project.

3. Call on my inner Elizabeth Zimmerman and use the yarn I want to use, with the needles I see fit, to make the sweater I know I want!

The conclusion?!?

This picture does not do this giant ball of yarn justice! Imagine 1250 yards of worsted weight in one big ol' ball!
I start over. Dear Antrorse- you have not seen the last of me. You will be mine. I'm gonna get all Elizabeth Zimmerman on your ... swatch... and I'm gonna knit you good.

To be continued...

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Off the Needles: Sundottir

Pattern by Dianna Walla, Published in Wool People Vol. 6
KnitPicks Swish Worsted Weight Wool in Rainforest and Dove Heathers
Needle Sizes US 6 and US 8

I don't know if I am just riding an awesome lucky streak, or if all of my fave designers just have me in mind- but I have LOVED everything coming off of my needles these days. This sweater ranks right up there with all time favorites! 

I could not believe how fast this came together. You begin by knitting the sleeves (which was a first for me) and then move on to the body. Boy am I glad about that! I knit up a swatch, just like every good little knitter should, but once I finished my sleeves, I realized my gauge was totally off. Thankfully the sleeves fit like a dream (I prefer a slim sleeve), but I knew my too-tight-gauge would result in a figure hugging (aka painted on) sort of sweater, which wasn't exactly what I had in mind for this cozy, Norwegian-inspired style. 
A little clever stitch rearranging and all ended up swell. I just knit the body in the next size up, and then saved 3 stitches from each underarm and added them to the body instead. Voila-perfect! 

I am always nervous for how a pullover will fit. A cardigan you can just wear open. A size too big or too small doesn't really matter. But a pullover - well the wrong fit can be the difference between feeling fantastic or reaching for your fat pants. 

This little diddy fits just like it should. Not so tight that you can't eat that cookie (I really love cookies), but not so loose that you feel frumpy. I usually prefer a fingering weight yarn for sweaters, as I don't like a lot of extra bulk, but this worsted weight really is perfect. 

I opted for two-handed knitting for the colorwork in the yoke.  If you've never tried it, I highly recommend it. There is something so very satisfying about it. Not to mention, the result always looks clean and balanced to me. 

This sweater took just 10 days to knit up. Not too shabby. I'm ready for Autumn.

If you aren't already participating, I highly suggest joining the Summer Sweater Knitalong! So many people are participating and it is a great place to get inspiration, chat with another knitters, and get motivated to knit up some nice and cozies!

You can find the rest of my notes for this knit on my Ravelry page.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Off the Needles: Square and Stripe

Looking for a fast, fun knit that fits great?? Square and Stripe by Veera Välimäki totally fits the bill! I love, love, love how it turned out!

The stripes and slipped-stitch seams were perfect for keeping this interesting, while not slowing me down!

The shoulder shaping was new to me, and I love how the fitted drop shoulders turned out.

Perfect for date night, or thrown on with yoga pants to get all comfy. I love the "seams" and simple stripes. The slim arms totally balance out the blocky body so that you don't feel lost in the sweater (or even worse, like you gained 10 pounds when you put it on!)I used Rowan felted tweed for my yarn, and while it started about a bit scratchy, it has really softened up now that it has been washed and blocked!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Off the Needles: Blue Sands Cardigan

Between diapers, nap time, and cooking up a healthy new diet - there is knitting. Every spare moment, row by row, stitch by stitch! Now if only there was blogging ;) Thankfully, I have finished quite a few of my projects and am so excited to start sharing them here again! I've also been cooking up a storm and am excited to share some recipes soon as well. On to the good stuff...

 What I absolutely loved best about this pattern is it was an amazing learning experience! The designer employs a fantastic new (to me) short row method for shaping the back of the cardigan longer than the front.
 The stitch pattern for the stripe on the sleeves and the hem of the body is so fun and fast, and I love the way it looks! I will definitely utilize it in future projects.
She also utilizes the I-cord bind off for all of the edges. I had never done this, and I really appreciate the finish it gives the project. Very tidy and clean looking.

I chose to use KnitPicks CotLin yarn for this project and it knit up really beautifully. Perfect for stitch definition. And also perfect for my mom! This woman will get hot in the middle of winter in a snow storm, so much better to keep cool cotton and linen next to her skin as opposed to wool.

I highly recommend this pattern to anyone who wants to learn some new techniques and needs a cool sweater to wear during the warmer months!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Our World Flipped Upside Down

Six weeks ago our beautiful baby girl was born.
Olive Rose born March 24, 2014 at 6:57 pm
Hours later we began a very unexpected journey. Blogged about here:
I plan to return to this blog now that life is, somewhat, settling down!
xoxo, Andrea

Monday, February 24, 2014

Happy Birthday to My Bestie!!

What awkward phase?!
What is a better way to celebrate the friend you have known since the day you were born, then posting the "book" you planned to write about the both of you when you were in 4th or 5th grade?! Written on my dads typewriter, it is complete with plenty of typing errors and deep creases from where it has been "lovingly" folded and refolded and tucked into whatever bag or drawer seemed safe thru the years. How grateful I am that it never got lost!!

Baking challah bread together
So here's to you Meredith Lane Bauer Bertleson Feinberg Gizmunt Alchin Mowry - may you know how loved, appreciated and needed you are! Life would not be worth living without your sarcasm and sweet dance moves! I can't wait for our daughters to be BFF's too!

New Years Eve 2013
It begins with a letter to my bestie that might just make my husband jealous, but hey, such is the power of the BFF!!

Chapter One, which unfortunately remains to be the only chapter, at least involves boogers and a trip to the ER...

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Counting down to baby

30 years ago, my mother pregnant with me. I arrived 10 days late, weighing in at 9.5 pounds.
It also just happens to be this beautiful woman's birthday! Happy birthday Mama! Thank you for bringing me into this world, and raising me in a way that prepared me to become a mother myself!
Here I am, 36 weeks pregnant with our own baby girl. (Photo by the very talented Stephanie Bassos)

17 days until the due date and counting...

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Best Flour Tortillas


These tortillas are worth making at home. Far superior to anything you can find at the supermarket, and ingredients you can feel good about!! The kind of tortilla that is so soft and gently fragrant you could bury your face in it! Or at least eat it plain with maybe just a swipe of butter right out of the pan! I make a big batch whenever we are going to have burritos, and then freeze the rest for future burritos, dipping in hummus, or falafel wraps! To defrost just grab how many you need out of the freezer and either let them thaw on the counter if you have the time, or pop in the oven or microwave to soften. These tortillas are incredibly simple and the dough would be really fun to make with kids! The recipe can easily be halved or doubled!

//Flour Tortillas//
yields 12-16

2 cups white whole wheat flour
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp refined coconut oil 
1 1/2 cups water (more or less if your dough is dry or wet)

Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl together and mix with a fork to incorporate. Rub in the coconut oil using your fingers (or you can "cut" it in using your fork.)
Slowly add the water until your dough comes together. Knead for a minute or two to incorporate everything, you should have a nice soft dough.

At this point I use a bench scraper or knife to cut the dough into even chunks. I cut them as big as my skillet, giving me about 16 tortillas. Roll them into balls and then let them rest for about 20 minutes under a layer of plastic wrap.

Heat a skillet over medium heat. I use cast iron, but any skillet will work fine. Do not add any oil or fat, these cook in a dry skillet. 

Using a little flour roll a tortilla out as thin as you can get it (they will puff slightly in the pan.) Cook the tortilla on the hot skillet until you see bubbles forming all over the top. Flip, and let cook for about 30-60 seconds more. Adjust heat if your spots are getting dark too fast, or if it is taking more than a minute per side to cook. 

I usually roll out the next tortilla while the first is cooking, just remember to keep an eye on it! As they cook I stack them on a plate and cover them with a clean kitchen towel. By the time you are done cooking them all, you will have a lovely stack of warm, soft tortillas!  

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Off the Needles: Climb Journey

from Journey

These socks were a great knit! I would highly recommend the pattern for any knitter. If you've never knit socks before, the pattern is really simple and easy to follow. The most complicated part would be the Turkish Cast-On, which Jane Richmond made a great video tutorial for! The yarn recommendation is also spot on. KnitPicks stroll sock yarn is soft, beautifully dyed, and machine washable! So many of my wool socks don't get the wear they would if I didn't have to hand wash them :)


also from Journey

I used Shepherds Wool in Worsted Weight, which just happens to be my favorite yarn ever! It is incredibly soft (serious squishy factor going on), with great stitch definition. I chose the color Pewter for it's versatility.

All my notes are on Ravelry, but the only modification I made was adding another repeat of the stitch patterns! This pattern definitely rates amongst my favorite all time patterns!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

On the Needles: a Nesting Knitter

I am not sure if it is "nesting." Or more likely the looming possibility that I am permanently foregoing my "time for myself" in the coming month. But I find myself casting on for more and more projects. Maybe I am just feeling extra ambitious!

On the needles:

© LaMaisonRililie Designs
© Jane Richmond
© Nicholas Kupiak
Waiting patiently to jump on my needles:

© Nicholas Kupiak
© Knit Picks
© Veera Välimäki

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Angel Food Cake (sans Gluten)

Simple. Light. Sweet.
I remember when I was younger thinking it was impossible to make without a box mix. Now I wonder what magic they use to turn the few precious ingredients it takes to make an Angle Cake, into a box mix!
I urge anyone with 10 eggs and a mixer to avoid the box, and experience the pleasure of making this simple cake. Perfect for summer with how light it is, but dare I say even better in winter, when the cold, dark days have us dreaming of sunshine and fresh berries??

Angel Cake (no gluten necessary)
serves 8-12
If you don't have gluten free flours on hand, you can easily make this by just swapping the GF flours for one cup of all-purpose flour!
10 egg whites, preferrably room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 cup potato starch
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. brown rice flour
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. tapioca starch
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups sugar, separated

Preheat oven to 350F. Have your Angel Cake pan ready, and by this I mean just sitting on the counter ready to fill with your batter. Do NOT grease it! The cake has to be able to "climb" the walls. If you spray it, it will just slip down into a sad, dense heap of sugary mess.

Separate your whites from the yolks (don't throw away the yolks! This is a perfect opportunity to make a batch of ice cream...)

Combine the potato starch, brown rice flour, tapioca starch, salt and a 1/2 cup of the sugar. Sift them 3 times. This will ensure that your flour mixture is really light and fluffy!

In the bowl of your stand mixer (or in a big bowl if you plan to use a hand mixer) combine your whites and vanilla. Using a whisk attachment beat the whites on medium until frothy. Sprinkle in the cream of tartar and turn the mixer up a notch. Beat until the whites start to form soft peaks and begin looking shiny. Slowly sprinkle in the remaining 1 cup of sugar while the whites are beating. Beat on medium-high until stiff peaks have formed.

Gently fold a third of your flour mixture into the egg white mixture. Once it is pretty much incorporated, mix in another third and finally the last of it. You want to be as gentle as you can using a folding motion instead of a mixing motion so you don't deflate the air you have just worked into your whites. Pour your batter into your cake pan and smooth the top.

Bake in the center of your oven for 18 minutes, then rotate, and bake for 17 more.

Once you remove the cake from the oven it will need to cool upside down so it doesn't sink in on itself. My angel pan has feet so I can do this really easily. If yours doesn't, I think most people rest the center hole on a glass bottle (i.e. soda bottle.)

Once your cake is completely cool, just use a thin off set spatula or a butter knife to loosen it from the sides of the pan. It should come out pretty easily. The serving options are endless! Keep it light with fresh whipped cream and berries, or go my favorite route and make it dirty with coffee ice cream and rum spiked hot fudge sauce!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A Blanket for Olive Rose

Photograph by the very talented Stephanie Bassos
Her blanket is ready, and eagerly awaiting her are we!

Olive's Blanket
(adapted from the Purl Bee's Super Easy Baby Blanket)
US 7 circular needles (I suggest 32" or longer)
10-50 gram balls worsted weight superwash yarn, 110 yards each
I used... KnitPicks:
Wool of the Andes Superwash in Fairytale, Rouge, Brass Heather, Delft Heather, Pampas Heather, Noble Heather, and Almond. 
And Swish Supeerwash in Sugar Plum, Dove Heather, and Marble Heather
A darning needle for sewing in the ends

Cast on 150 stitches in the color of your choice.
Work the entire blanket in garter stitch, knitting every row.
I hate to waste yarn, so I knit as far as I could with each color of yarn. The only thing you need to make sure of is that the yarn you have left will get you thru so you can change colors on the edge (not in the middle of the blanket) and that you always change colors on the same side! When working garter stitch, there will be a "stripe" on one side of your color change. I always thing of this as the "wrong side." And you want it to be uniform for the whole blanket.
I also slipped the first stitch of each row knitwise (except the rows that I was changing colors), so that I have a really tidy edge.
These little steps take the simplicity of a garter stitch blanket and keep it looking really neat and well put together, instead of too "homemade."

Use up all 10 skeins and then bind off! Weave in your ends. Wash in a baby friendly detergent and lay flat to dry.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Cookies and a Knit-a-long!!

Chocolate Pecan Oaties

Inspired by Isa's  jumbo oatmeal cookies from her new book Isa Does It, this is my kind of cookie. Healthy enough to not feel bad about, but still decadent enough to share with people who aren't so in to that "healthy" thing. Oats and coconut provide the texture, pecans add a buttery decadence and mini chocolate chips and chopped dark chocolate take them over the top!
(oh yeah, and they are whole wheat and vegan if you are into that kind of thing...)

1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. ground flaxseed
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped 70% dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Grease two cookie sheets and set aside.

Combine the oil, applesauce, vanilla, sugars, and flaxseed in a mixing bowl and whisk together until well incorporated. Add the flour, soda, salt and spices and mix until almost combined. Add the remaining ingredients, and mix until just well distributed.

I used a size 30 cookie scoop, which I would say is about the size of 2 tablespoons. This got me about 14 cookies. Bake for 6 minutes and rotate the cookies and move them from the top rack to the bottom (or visa versa). Bake for 5 more minutes. The cookies should be just golden on the edges. Adjust your baking time if necessary (if your cookies are a different size or your oven runs hot or cool.) Let cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheets and then transfer to cooling racks.

Eat them. They are delightful with a cup of tea.

In other news, the ladies of Journey have just announced a knit-a-long for their book! I already have Onward and Climb on the needles so I will just put them on hold until the knit-a-long starts! (Giving me ample time to focus on finishing that baby blanket.) I would love to also get started on Swift! Leaving me just the two sweaters on the book to dive into. I think I will put those on hold until I don't have a giant belly anymore. 

(Does anyone else out there find it totally challenging to write without emoticons?! What is happening in todays world?! How will you know when I am joking? Will you pick up on the sarcasm? Will you truly know that I am smiling as I write? Winking?)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

On My Needles: Onward, Climb, and The Baby's Blanket

Sunrising over our backyard

It is currently -7F here in our little part of Michigan, and that doesn't include the -30F windchill. The only proper thing to do is to surround myself in yarn, tea and maybe turn the oven on for some baking later.  I actually really love winter. But the winters you can participate in. Not so much the days where they warn you to not go outside for more than 5 minutes and your heating bill sky rockets to almost $300. Full of ice storms and wind sheers, power outages and dangerous roads. This kind of winter I would like to hit the fast forward button on. Thankfully though, I knit. And knitting really does make winter worth it. The cold air continues to push my motivation button, and I wish there were more hours in these short days.

So on my needles, keeping me busy as I am trapped inside...

Baby Girl Mowry's Blanket

The baby blanket is almost finished! I had to order more yarn because of the custimizations I made to the pattern, and those last 3 skeins arrived this afternoon! All of my notes can be found on Ravelry, but I will also do a post here with finished instructions for my alterations. I can't wait to finish it and have it all washed and cozy for her arrival in just 6 weeks! We attended our first birthing class last night and really enjoyed it. We are so happy we found a class that really seems to touch on everything that is important to us.  The excitement builds everyday as we get closer to meeting her!

After finishing the Spate mitts from Journey, I couldn't wait to get more of their projects on my needles. First off, I cast on for Onward. This pattern by Shannon Cook is simple, yet so satisfying and interesting. The shawl works up fairly big and in the book they have pictures of the model wearing it wrapped around her. So cozy! I thought it would double nicely has a nursing cover, and so I got to move it up higher on my priority-to-knit list.

This is the pattern I first really fell in love with from Journey. Jane Richmond  produced an incredibly simple pattern with such perfect accents (and color choices), that pretty much everyone on Ravelry has followed the pattern exactly, including the yarn choices! Simplicity makes these socks timeless and perfect.

And just for fun...I did turn on the oven! So I could make a batch of these granola bars from Isa Does It. They are vegan, gluten free and refined sugar free.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars
Recipe from Isa Does It
//Ingredients// makes 8 bars
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup brown rice syrup
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup crisp rice cereal (aka Rice Krispies)
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Prep an 8-inch square pan with parchment and cooking spray.
In a medium size bowl, stir together peanut butter & syrups until smooth. Add in the oil, vanilla and salt and stir again. Mix in the oats and cereal. She suggest using your hands to knead it all together but I found my sturdy spatula worked just fine! Work in the peanuts and chocolate chips.
Pour mixture into your prepared pan and use wet hands to firmly pat the bars into the pan in an even layer. Bake for 22-25 minutes. Let cool completely before depanning and cuttting. Can be stored by wrapping the bars individually in plastic wrap.