Weekend is a new book from my friend Jen Geigley that features simple, modern knits you can whip up in a weekend to wear all weekend. Jen is a busy mother of two littles, and lives in the cold mid-west, so her knits, using chunky and bulky weight yarns, are meant to fly fast off the needles and keep you warm.  This is a great gift book for a young, beginner knitter, and for anyone who wants to wear something stylish in a flash.  My favorite is the kimono!

The yarns used: 


a perfect sweatshirt and what I wear

A few years ago I took stock of my knitted sweaters and nailed down what I like to wear.  No, not really so much what I like to wear, but more, what I actually do wear.  Because I think I like to wear little lightweight cardigans with frills and lace, but my everyday life tells me something else.  Poking around my sweater closet I had to be honest with myself.  What gets the most attention?   What sweaters are worn most often?   I had to admit, simple and slouchy won, hands down.  No contest.  So while I will never ever never ever stop knitting the beautiful, delicate, fitted, negative ease, Kidsilk Haze and Mohair Haze sweaters that I love to knit and love to wear, the truth is, my everyday sweaters are something quite different--more like sweatshirts.  So knowing that, and knowing that Rowan came out with some super nice superwash yarns this year, I decided to make a few sweatshirts--sweatshirts that can take a lot of wear and can go in and out of the washer and dryer without a whimper. 

This is Clayton by Martin Storey from the Easy Aran Knits book.  I used the suggested yarn, Super Fine Merino Aran made with 100% superwash wool.  This was my first time using it and  I love it.  It was lively on the needles, and with just a little flick of needle action, the stitch snapped into place.  The yarn itself feels round in the hand, and like it was made of rubber coated with velvet.  It is so completely soft I think even those with the wool itchies will approve.  Super Fine comes in three weights, a fingering weight, a DK weight and this Aran weight.  I played with all three and really did love them all.  The yarn is multi-plied and round and was not needle fussy, but as I like to touch-knit stockinette, I found I did need to use bamboo needles to slow it down a bit.  If I lost a stitch while not looking, it was easily picked up on the next row.  This soft yarn is also machine washable.  Rowan claims this to be a great "core" yarn, and I would agree.  Super Fine is an easy to knit, elegant yarn that can take some hard wear.

While the ball band will tell you to dry flat, I will tell you what I did with great results: Step one:  turn inside-out.  Step two:  put in a sweater bag.  Three:  Wash on gentle cycle with cool water.  Four:  Still inside-out, remove from sweater bag and tumble dry on LOW until almost dry.  Five:  Turn rightside-out, lay flat and pat to shape to finish drying.  Rowan does not recommend the above, but I just wanted to share what I did with success.  So there you go.  I do want to say, that even though a sweater may be machine washable, it is still a hand-knit, and I respect that.  I make sure that I don't wash it very often.  I find I can get some distance between washes if I hand wash the cuffs only or dab out a spot.  I don't throw it into the wash basket willy-nilly.

I took the last two pictures so you could see the fabric close up. One was taken before the wash and one was taken after, but I don't know which is which.  I just did it to compare the fabric and there was no change.  It did not shrink.

See you soon with many more finished knits!


bud and big wool silk

I have a new yarn to tell you about: Rowan Big Wool Silk.  I received two skeins to play with and review,  but then quickly ran out to purchase one more so I could make this capelet.  It took just under 3 skeins and only a few hours to knit up.  Big Wool Silk, like it's older brother, Big Wool, knits up quickly and makes gorgeous cables with a stretchy, cushy fabric with great stitch detail.  The fiber content is 70/30, wool/silk.  The silk gives the matte Big Wool a lustrous but subtle, natural sheen.  I imagine lovers of Big Wool--and I know there are many out there--will adore Big Wool Silk.  Many of you love big needles, say hello to needle sizes 13 and 15!  Yep, big. I'm generally a small-needle knitter, it's just my preference, but I couldn't help but love how fast the knitting went.  I'm going to love wearing this and wish I had it on today for my son's BD--a lovely 75 degrees outside and our restaurant had the AC cranked up to frostbite--I hate that so much! 

I'm mad for capelets and ponchos!  This capelet is Bud by Gemma Atkinson, from the knit generation, a book of knitted accessories using a variety of yarns and techniques from a half dozen young designers.

There is a fantastic new accessories pattern book to support Big Wool Silk and I'm sharing my favorites below. Big Wool Silk is interchangeable with Big Wool with the same yardage and gauge, so any vintage Big Wool pattern can be used. 

If anything could seduce me to pick up big needles again, it would be this Clove Loop.  Love.
I think this Cassia Wrap would be fun to wear.

Clove Scarf
The nifty little Coriander collar takes only two skeins.
Licorice makes some beautiful cables.
I saw the Sesame Wrap in person.  It's big and beautiful and shows off the gorgeous sheen of the silk.

Turmeric Wrap



Today I have Kate by Sarah Hatton to share.  I just have to smile when I look at these pictures.  My neighbor, 15 year old Jessica, modeled so beautifully for me.  Kate is from the book, Rowan Loves Kidsilk Haze and Felted Tweed, the first Rowan Loves book.  This is the first book in a series of three that has been extremely popular. Each pattern has several options for yarn and design features to vary the sweater style from sporty to formal or something in-between. Expect more Rowan Loves in the future. As for my somewhat sporty Kate, (I've used Felted Tweed and Kidsilk Haze) she is patiently waiting for fall and then I imagine she will be worn frequently.  In Sarah's book, each garment can be knit with either FT or KSH knit single or double.  In my Kate, I knit the body in Felted Tweed, Mineral--I needed something yellow in my wardrobe--and the trim in Kidsilk Haze, the dark charcoal, Anthracite.  The combination is simply beautiful--the Felted Tweed's earthy tweediness is just delicate enough to compliment and not overpower the elegant KSH.   I made no modifications to the pattern.

Did my model Jessica like it?  Yes, she did!  She thought the tweed was pretty and liked that the fabric was lightweight. She also liked that it came to just above the hip.  We decided we liked it closed with the skirt, and with pants it would probably look best open.  Kate is a very cool cardigan and I'm very happy with it.

my Ravelry project page for Kate


my bridal registry day

My late summer flower arrangements have almost never varied: faded hydrangeas and faded roses.  I love late summer--in the morning there's a tiny hint of fall's crispness, even though the day might be hot as blazes.  We took stock of the garden yesterday; it's given its all, and it's clearly pooped out.   Shorter days means less growing time and smaller veggies and flowers, plus the drought means everything looks pretty pathetic anyway. The squirrels are going crazy looking for food and water.  They beat us to most of the pears and apples and all of the pumpkins.  We battled all summer over the tomatoes and summer squash.  I think it was a tie.  Tonight's dinner party was after a game of couples golf.  When you all walk in the door at 6 PM, hungry and thirsty, dinner has to be quick and simple, and for the most part, prepared in advance.  With a nod to a late summer bounty, we managed a pretty nice menu.  A friend offered to bring an appetizer, another dessert, and with that and the menu below, plus a few bottles of wine and beer, we were all set for an easy-going dinner.

Goat Cheese with Lemon and Pistachios

Green Beans with Cherry Tomatoes

Summer Cobbler

I probably don't need to tell you this, but setting a table is a creative outlet for me.  As for the table setting above, the napkins and tablecloth were made from remnants and discontinued designer samples. We've had the flatware, 18th Century from Reed and Barton for 42 years.  I picked the pattern as part of my bridal registry when I was a proper 21 year old bride intent on setting a grand table. Of all the things I chose on that day, this flatware has been the most practical.  My china selection is long gone and my stemware, a pattern from Lalique, is so expensive, that when I break one, and if I were to replace it (which I don't), I'd have to shell out $400 per stem.  They were way less back then, but still expensive, so what on earth was I thinking, and why-oh-why did the sales lady ever encourage me to put it on my registry?  But I smile as I write this, because I'm secretly thankful for the folly of my youth, those glasses are simply gorgeous, and I absolutely love them.  I've posted about them a few times, here, here and here.  The glasses I use most often now are the more practical  Connoisseur Stemware from Cost Plus.  I use the larger Bordeaux for waters, and the smaller Chardonnays for wine.  They are so inexpensive, I don't mind breaking one, but so sturdy, I haven't, and so pretty, I use them often!

Back to that bridal registry, I remember it like it was yesterday!  My mom couldn't come with me, and if I asked my then fiance to come with me, he must have said no thanks.  I made an appointment, took a day off work and went alone.  It was 1973, and while Levi's were my standard apparel du jour, a girl knows when it's important to play dress-up. I would be going to a fancy department store on Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills after all.  I even washed my car as I suspected I might have to use a valet!   I made a white eyelet two-piece suit for the occasion with a skirt that was so short-short-short, I blush now when I think about it.  I was just following the trend for all young women in Southern California at the time.  We would look in the mirror and make sure our bottoms were covered.  Was it?  Yes. OK then, it's perfect.  I completed the ensemble with lime green high-heeled sling-back sandals and a matching purse.  I thought I looked fantastic.  When I arrived, my bridal consultant floated out to me and with a very business-like manner, offered her hand.  She was stunning:  angular and thin with grey hair to match her perfectly fitted grey suit, which was calf length, because after all, she was a much older woman.  She was probably 38, geesh. Her perfection made me shudder a bit and I was so intimidated by her I had to rethink my decision to come alone. She started peppering me with questions, but it soon became apparent to both of us that I had NONE clue as to how I wanted my future home to look.  She then sailed me through the silver and china department while I listened carefully to her instructions.  I was to choose 12 place settings of fine china, silver flatware and stemware.  The china and the flatware settings would each include five pieces, but I could get away with only a water and one wine for the stemware, champagnes could come later, perhaps as an anniversary gift.  She assured me that she, of course, would not let me make a mistake.  After an exhausting hour we were done, and she handed me an envelope that contained a half dozen cards with the store's name and address, the words, Fine Bridal Registry, with my name printed underneath, Miss Kristen Hansen. But under no circumstances could I tell anyone where I had registered, this was not done.  Oddly though, my mother could--you see, the cards were for her, plus one for my future mother-in-law, my grandmother and a favorite aunt or two.  THEY could tell people where I had registered.  I kid you not.  To this day I'm still a bit shy about asking a bride where she is registered, but surely that advice I received is considered out of date! I sure hope so!

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