Adult Alaskan Pullover

 





I'm so happy to finally show you my newest Alaskan Pullover, and this one's for me! My favorite children's sweater pattern is now sized for adults.  I've loved this pattern since it was published and have been begging for an adult version since the beginning. I've always wanted to wear one and my son is pining for one too. When the designer, Ainur Berkimbayeva, was looking for test knitters for an adult version, I jumped at the chance. It is the perfect unisex sweater for babies, children and adults. When you get the adult version you'll receive two downloads, a men's version and a women's version. They differ very slightly in shaping, such as tapered arms for women and longer arms for men. 

I used the suggested wool, Knit Picks Simply Wool, a rustic 100% wool that is available in a dozen natural shades including four marls. From their web page: No dyes or bleach are used to process the yarn; the eight natural shades are created by meticulously sorting the fiber as it comes off the sheep. As colors are naturally occurring, some variation from skein to skein is normal. My own Wilhelmina shade is a pretty mid brown with a hint of gray and I suffered no variation of color. Knit Picks is known for their value priced yarns and I was very surprised at the high quality. It had no knots, was easy to knit and while it's not next-to-the-skin-soft for me, it feels great with a light tee underneath. Garter stitch is very dense and this sweater is warm and lovely on a morning walk or to slip on at night when I'm knitting and freezing in my cold little knitting room. I would love to see this sweater as a beach coverup in Rowan Handknit Cotton or maybe Rowan Creative Linen. The designer gives yarn suggestions that work well with garter stitch and explains why yarn choice is important. She also suggests Brooklyn Tweed's Shelter. It would be FABULOUS in that. 

I've followed Ainur since she began her knitware design career. She has great style and I'm thrilled to see that she has become very popular. She has recently collaborated with Purl Soho, Pom Pom and Woolfolk and has created some really gorgeous patterns. If you don't already, you should follow her on Ravelry and sign up for her newsletter here, AKA Mama's Teddy Bear. 

Alaskan Pullover for adults by Ainur Berkimbayeva
purchase the children's Alaskan Pullover here (see Carter's cute one below)
purchase Knit Picks Simply Wool Worsted here ($6.99 for 218 yards!)


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Margay

 









Good morning! I have a new finished object to share with you today, a gorgeous lacy pullover from Jennifer Wood of Woodhouse Knits. I've long admired her designs and was thrilled to have an opportunity to test one of her patterns. The knitting went fast and my job as test knitter was easy as there was not one mistake or unclear passage in the entire pattern. If you love the challenge of a bit of feminine intermediate lace then you will love this professional and well written pattern. I think most testers made this in wool with long sleeves, but I had this beautiful Shibui cotton in my stash and thought the pattern would make a pretty summer sweater. I'm thrilled with the result and look forward to wearing it this summer. You can't see by my pictures, but there is simple lace on the cuffs and hem for a lovely finishing touch. I've included Jennifer's picture of her gorgeous golden Margay so you can see the lace detail better.  Margay is knit top down. I have two extra skeins of Shibui Fern that I'm selling on my Ravelry stash-for-sale page. I have also listed most of my leftovers and some purchase mistakes too. 


We had a sunny weekend and expect a sunny week ahead. The vegetable garden revamp is slowly moving forward. We will soon have both an improved layout and watering system, new beds, and will be bringing in some new soil too. I think in late March, when the greenhouse seedlings are ready to set out, the garden will be ready to receive them. I'll start my flats of zinnias in March and they will take up the remainder of the greenhouse growing space. I will plant the zinnia seedlings outside in the flower garden sometime in May so that gives me plenty of time to get that area ready. Right now it's a weedy mess, in fact everything looks like one big mess, including our patio, which at the moment is our staging area for all the supplies. My husband is working on the project a few hours a day and our son comes to help when he can. I know the gardeners would like to take over but my husband and son want to do this project themselves. There's not much that I can do to help at this stage, but I'll soon be busy enough with planting, weeding and harvesting and I can't wait! Also, the narcissi and daffodils are in bloom! It feels a little awkward talking about my sunny California garden when Texas is suffering under such extreme cold weather. It's heartbreaking to read the news but today's headlines say thawing and repairs are underway. God bless Texas.





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kumquat marmalade











Have you ever eaten a fresh kumquat or had kumquat marmalade? Kumquats are awesome; they just take a little bit of know-how in how to prepare and eat. My son has a tree and last time I visited I picked a big bag. Like other citrus, they start to ripen early in the year. 

Kumquats are tiny oval citrus fruits, about the size of a cherry tomato. The seeds are edible, the skin and pith are sweet, and the juice is sour, just exactly the opposite of an orange. They are meant to be eaten whole--pop the whole thing into your mouth, bite down and wait for the flavor explosion!  It's a bang of sweet and sour. I think the folks who invented Sweet Tarts must have been trying to recreate the kumquat experience.

Kumquat marmalade is magic. It has a flowery, perfumed sweetness that is old-fashioned and charming. It has the tiniest tangy bite with zero bitterness so you don't have to bother with blanching the bitterness out of the pith that you have to do with other citrus. Kumquat marmalade is as easy as jam and is completely delicious and wants to accompany your Easter ham, pork chops, chicken, and of course your buttered toast. It's beautiful too! The twinkling jars of the jeweled fruit are simply gorgeous. Here's what I did:

Kumquat Marmalade 

Wash 2 lbs. fruit and cut in half.
Pinch and squeeze the fruit over a bowl to catch juice and seeds. 
Chop the fruit (a processor is useful here).
Strain juice and add to chopped fruit. Reserve seeds. (See note below.)
Add the juice of one orange and one lemon, plus the grated rinds of both.
Measure this mixture, put in a large cooking pot and add equal amount of sugar.
Stir and cook on high heat until full rolling boil, stirring constantly.
Boil for one minute.
Pour in one pouch of liquid pectin and return to full boil, stirring constantly.
Boil for one minute.
Turn off heat and skim off foam if necessary.
Ladle into sterilized jars to within 1/4" of the top; wipe rims clean and screw on sterilized lids.
Process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes as you would for other jams.
I doubled this recipe and my batch of 4 lbs. of fruit made 12 half pints of marmalade.

Note: The reserved seeds have natural pectin in them. They can be placed in a mesh bag and added to the mixture while cooking, then discard after it's cooked. This will help the marmalade to firm up but I prefer the guarantee of the liquid pectin. One pouch liquid pectin is a scant 1/2 cup or 1.75 ozs which equals 2 tablespoons powdered pectin. 

The picture below is a newish variety of lemon. It's a Eureka variation with light pink flesh and green stripes against yellow skin. We had a pink lemon tree but lost it last year in a terrible windstorm and our efforts to save it didn't work. I'm searching the local nurseries to see if I can find a replacement. It's devastating to lose a fruit tree. When my husband was digging it up, I couldn't bear to watch.


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Valentine flower bombs for the neighborhood




Hello Valentines! We had fun this week. Our camellias are in beautiful, bountiful bloom so we made a Valentine flower heart near our front door. It was beautiful and were very happy to see that it stayed looking pretty for quite a few days. We decided we would bestow our special neighbors with Valentine flower hearts too.


Camellias drop their blossoms even while they are still looking pretty and fresh. We picked the blossoms off the ground from our five camellia bushes and set off to surprise our neighbors. We were very sneaky(ish) and quiet(ish), and quickly formed the flowers into heart shapes near their front door. We were done in a flash, then we rang the doorbell and scurried off to hide. When they opened the door they were so surprised! We jumped out to give them an even bigger surprise! Carter had so much fun and our neighbors loved it too so we decided we would do this again next week for our other favorite neighbors. 


Now I cannot wait for May Day!


xo Kristen














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Vinicunca Hat

 






My new hat was a test for Beatriz of SambaKnits. The pattern includes 3 children's sizes and 3 adult sizes, each with two versions, beanie or slouchy style and is knit in DK weight yarn. I knit the adult small slouchy version thinking that it would be a hat I would keep here and we could share, but Carter liked it so much it went home with him. He loves to wear hats on chilly days and thinks Rowan Softyak DK is very soft so I was certain it would be a hit. Softyak DK is mostly cotton with a tad of yak making it just warm enough for our mild California winters. I love the stained glass effect of using a dark main color and then adding brights. This pattern is great for scraps or for a mini skein set. It knits up in a flash and would be great if you're wanting to give mosaic a try. You'll see why so many people love mosaic! It's easy and effective but the best part is you only knit one color per row. 


Looking ahead at our spring and summer garden, I've started the tomato, pepper and squash seeds in the greenhouse. I plan to set them out in the garden at the end of March or early April. We had a good amount of rain last week and yesterday morning we unfortunately found another sink hole in our garden, possibly an old well as this was once a apricot orchard and we are only a few hundred feet from Adobe Creek. It appears to be lined with cement or cement blocks and has an undetermined depth. Today we had a large pile of rock delivered to fill it up, so that will be this weekend's job, with some hired help of course. We also have to redo our whole vegetable garden as our old beds were rotted and falling apart. This is a long overdue project and I'm glad to finally get to it. Those old beds served us well for several decades, but they were past repair. Once we have these projects out of the way I'm really looking forward to a great summer vegetable garden! To figure out when to start seeds in your zone, go here.





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