Time to get the gifting on!

Over the summer I agreed to be in a gift exchange with 20 other artists, many who I've known since college.  Luckily in August I came up with a plan and decided what to make... November is too crazy for me to wait for the last minute.  I decided to make homemade vanilla, I've heard how easy it is... and seriously, it was.  
I went and bought a good big bottle of vodka, drained a bit off, and placed 15 vanilla beans I got from our local gourmet and regional foods distributor in it.  Then placed it in a dark place, and tried to remember to gently shake it every so often.  Et voila, 3 months later, pure vanilla extract.  There are many different recipes out there, but this is all I did, and it came out perfectly (and quite strong!)  I even got brave and kept the same beans and covered them with a new bottle of vodka.  I'm hoping for a second batch later in the winter.  I'll let you know how that goes.... worst case scenario I end up with a bottle of vanilla flavored vodka, which ain't that bad!  The labels were printed on ironed brown craft paper, cut them out, and then fed through my girl's sticker machine.
When I decanted the vanilla and filled the bottles I decided I just HAD to make some caramels to go along with them.  We made over 200, and it took us HOURS to roll them up when they cooled.  I felt a bit like Lucy!  By the end my whole family decided that what they really are is the BEST homemade tootsie rolls evah.  If you ever happen to find yourself with extra sugar, heavy cream, butter and chocolate, you really should made them too!




Wow... I am in love with all your comments from the weekend's giveaway, I have to say, inviting people to share about themselves during a giveaway really does give me such a wonderful glimpse into who you all are (or at least how much sock yarn you have!)  The winner is:  #30 SusanB-knits, Congrats!

We are gearing up for the Thanksgiving weekend in the US, I'll be sharing the meal with my family and some dear friends.  Dinner is at my place and I am SO looking forward to the next few days of cooking and organizing.  I've been thinking a bit about traditions, food traditions in particular as I plan our menu.  We all have foods that epitomize certain holidays, and to thank you for a wonderful year of listening to me rant about my knitting I want to share one of my fav Thanksgiving condiments with you:
Cranberry Relish!  
Cranberry Relish

1 lb. cranberries (I use organic when I can find them)
1 small orange ¼’d with peel on
1-1 ½ cups sugar
3 T bourbon or grand marnier

Wash produce.  Put in Cuisinart and pulse.  You can do it in two batches if needs be.

Yes, it's that easy and SOOOO good!  My girl still hasn't developed a taste for it, and I just say "YUM, more for me!"  Some years we have eaten it with a vegetarian entree, some years with fish, this year with a turkey that I luckily am not having to cook. (Insert happy sounds here)  

Feeling thank-full for it all! 


Sock Yarn One Skein Wonders- GIVEAWAY!

Have you seen the latest Sock Yarn One Skein Wonders?  Do you have a wee bit of sock stash just waiting for the perfect project?  If the answer is yes... YOU NEED THIS BOOK!  
Laws, there are 101 patterns to combine with your sock yarn.. from hats, to gloves, shawls, mittens, baby sweaters, jewelry, hand bags... even ornaments.  Judith Durant has done a fabulous job with the fourth book in this One-Skein Wonders series!  I am proud to say that my Chubby Puppy is a special extra pattern in the Barnes and Noble edition of this book.  My girl and I had a great time there the other day visiting with him on their shelves.  Schaefer Yarn has 3 projects made with their sock yarn Anne, want to take a peak?
 Roses for Rosa Scarf by Judith Durant
Swan Shawl by Rebecca Hatcher
G.W.'s Bonnet and Bootees by Melissa Morgan-Oakes

All three of these fabulous designers have become friends of mine over my years of working at Schaefer Yarn (thinking that may be how they got the yarn...) friendship has it's perks, right?
So, when Storey Publishing asked me to do a giveaway I asked Schaefer if they would contribute yarn as well!  Here's the deal, with a random number generator the first person picked will win a copy of the book along with your choice of one of the three skeins of yarn show above.  (I couldn't choose so you get to!)  Leave a comment between now and November 23nd at 12 pm admitting to us all just how many skeins of sock yarn you have stashed and how much this book could help you.. oh, and which color shown is your favorite!  They are all one of a kind skeins and VERY special : )!


Brisa Shrug

Introducing the sixth of my new patterns I am releasing this Fall:
Brisa Shrug

Brisa is a dressy little number to throw on over a simple dress to warm your shoulders on a cool night or for a little something special with your fancy cocktail dress. Beads float gently at the top of eyelets adding a bit of “bling”, though you can easily not use beads and still have a great lacey topper.    Brisa Shrug is worked in halves from sleeve to  center back and then grafted down the back.  The sleeves and edging are worked with feather and fan stitch (a personal favorite!)  The eyelet stitch pattern is a 6 stitch, 4 row repeat and EASY to memorize... promise!
The indigo version is the smaller than the smallest size, knit under deadline for Circular Knitting Redefined.  When I decided to release the pattern in my own line as well I sized the pattern up a bit a knit a second version without beads.  (The green version is colorway Laura Hobson, size: medium) Both shrugs are knit in Schaefer's Heather, a superwash wool, silk, nylon that holds it's definition in the lace stitch beautifully. 
When working this design I remembered how much I LOVE the feather and fan stitch.  This is probably the first lace stitch I ever worked and it is so comforting to me... I keep saying that one day I'll make a whole fingering weight blanket in it, and then I wake up!
You can see more pictures, get detailed information and purchase Brisa Shrug here or on Ravelry here
This is the 6th of the six new patterns I am releasing, one a week for six weeks.  Use the coupon code TimetoKnit at checkout to buy 2 get one free on all new patterns through November 30th.  (see details here)


A weekend at Bedford Springs taking a Knitting Cure....

Well I'm back from a LOVELY weekend at Bedford Springs, PA teaching Entomology to a group of 50 dedicated knitters at the Bedford Springs Knittreat.  I have to admit, that when I agreed to teach at the Knittreat last spring, I quickly looked on the website for Bedford Springs, and said to myself... I'm teaching at a golf resort/spa, and then went about my regular business.  Let's just say I was SO surprised when I drove up to a massive gorgeous old building and surrendered my car to the valet (yes.. my first valet at a knitting retreat) and was immediately given a private tour and history lesson by the hotel's Maitre d'.  The hotel was founded over 200 years ago at the site of a curative mineral springs.   Dignitaries, celebrities, wealthy urbanites, and even presidents went there to escape the heat and "take the waters" during the summer months.  The hotel was restored in 2007 in a way that has preserved and cherished it's history.  As you walked through the labryinth of halls, stairwells, and corriders, you are able to read vignets, peruse photos and soak up the past.... quite a treat!  Look at this signature a new bride made with her wedding ring in a original leaded glass window pane:
The Bedford Springs Knittreat is the baby of Barb Grossman, the director and founder of the Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Show.  Knitters from around the Pittsburgh area came for the weekend to steep themselves in workshops, knitting, the resort and spa, and FOOD, did I mention the food?  Well, I should...... cause there was lots of it!  Oh, yes, and the knitter's taking over the hotel, knitting everywhere?  Nothing makes me happier!
I taught Friday and Saturday mornings and was free to explore, knit, and make new friends for the rest of my time.  I went for a wonderful 5 mile hike Friday afternoon with a group of fellow knitters, where we stumbled upon one of the original springs:
I leave you with this really cool photo I took right before I left Sunday morning...  water bubbles, what's not to love?
And to all my new friends I made this weekend... thanks so much, you were all so wonderful, I'll Knittreat with you anytime!!!!!


Flip-Top times TWO!

This weeks pattern is a re-do of my most functional pattern to date!  My flip-top mitten pattern, that first appeared on the pages of Designer 101 One-Skein Wonders, is about as basic and functional as you can get.  BUT, the yarn that the Flip-Top's were originally designed in was discontinued... and then I get requests to size it up to a men's large, and then I got requests for it to be re-written for a worsted weight yarn.  
So, here you go: Flip Top Mittens UPDATED!

The flip top mitten pattern is sized from child's 2 - 4 ALL THE WAY to men's Large AND it is now written for both fingering and worsted weight yarns.  Inspired by my favorite book I made charts for both yarn weights and all nine sizes.  It is easy to follow, simple to knit and ready for some holiday gift making!  There are already lots of these mittens made for you to check out on Ravelry, see?

If you have purchased this pattern from me before I have e-mailed a link for the updated version... enjoy!

Remember, this is the 5th of the six new patterns I am releasing, one a week for six weeks.  Use the coupon code TimetoKnit at checkout to buy 2 get one free on all new patterns through November 30th.  (see details here)



Alright... it's official, on top of everything else, I've decided to take part in NaKniSweMo!  Don't know what it is?  Read here and here.  It's not too late to join in.  There is a super fun Ravelry group here.

I've got a project all lined up, and it's a vest, so technically, I'm participating in Vestvember as well.  (How's that for getting my geek on?)  My project is as yet unnamed. (Actually it was named but then a well loved designer who must think just like me used the name in the latest Knitty; Cadence, isn't it a great name and sweater?)

I knit the first vest in Schaefer Heather, and I LOVE IT, but it's too big for me, so I am knitting a second smaller version for myself in Fibre Company's Road to China Light.  This yarn has silk, baby alpaca, camel and cashmere... basically it's crack for this knitter!  The pattern is tech edited (thanks Kristen) and all I need is photography of both versions. So lighting a fire under my needles by joining in on NaKniSweMo will get it to you faster, right?

I've been busy making kits for my students at the Knittreat this weekend, and writing lists of everything I need not to forget.... at least I know what I'll be knitting!